"So. Do you reckon he knows about the problem?" The tall,
grey feathered bird with a long beak asked of another bird, who
was perched on a low branch close by. "'Cause I think he does
and he'll sort it."
"Howwww, should I knowwww?" answered the round, grey, large
eyed, tufted eared owl, with a touch of irritation in his
"Well. You seem to know everything else around here.
At least that's the impression I get from having talked to you
so far", the secretary bird replied. "In fact, you're a right
know it all and no mistake".
"Hark whooo's talking! Aren't yoooou the one with all the
secrets? What with yoouur name and all."
"Just because I call myself a secretary bird is no reason
for you to get sarcastic, even if I do keep secrets to myself.
And that's not the only reason I'm called what I am. I'm said
to look like an old fashioned secretary and so I'm called one.
You're just called what you are from your silly way of
Seeing the hurt look on the owl's face made the long bird
ashamed of himself. "Sorry," he said, "I shouldn't be so nasty,
I know, but it's the way I feel, what with our problem and
"Apology accepted," said the owl, preening himself. "What
was yooouuur question again?"
"Do you think he knows what he's done?" queried the long
legged bird with what looked like a dinner jacket on his
"I dooouuubt it. He seems to be a bit stand ooooffish to my
way of thinking and I don't think he would care if he did
knoooww," replied the owl.
"Not care!" cried the secretary bird. " When he's taken all
this time to do what he's done. And most of it looks OK to me.
When he gets round to finish it, everything will be fine. Just
you wait and see. Maybe there are a few things er.... er.. not
"NOT.... QUITE.... RIGHT!" exclaimed the owl. "You've got
to be joking. I don't believe yooouuu said that. After all.
It's not as if it's a very tinsy-winsy, small thing or three.
Is it? It - is - basic. Abso-bloody-lutely basic".
This is but a small part of one of a great many
conversations going on, at this moment in history.
It's said that this particular God created the world in
seven days, as a sort of test given by the more mighty gods in
the Pantheon, which was a sort of Gods club. The Pantheon, of
which this God was a mere strippling; a youth of no mean talent
but still a starter without experience, had given him the task
and he'd tried his hardest so far. It's Saturday afternoon and
the work was going, sort-of. to God's satisfaction Anyway. He
didn't 'switch the light on' straight away, if you know what I
mean. Was it because he wasn't quite sure that the job was
really finished and didn't want anybody to see that he may have
made a mess? Possibly he wanted to run a check on the work
before those who had given him the task checked on his
Anyway there was a sort of darkness. Well..... God had to
have some light to work by, but it was the sort of
half-light that comes just before dawn, as we know it now.
So there was no need for bright colours. "But grey! I ask
you? GREY! It's Grotty Grey and it shouldn't be allowed." said
a large warthog. "Even if it is my colour."Everything was
All the plants, flowers, trees, insects, birds and animals,
even the sea and sky were grey. There were varying shades but
everything was still, well... grey-ish. As you can imagine,
confusion was the name of the game. At lunch-time or
dinnertime, how can you decide who is friend or foe? More
importantly, who is going to eat whom or what? Instinct did
come into it, it had to, or everyone was going to get very
hungry. All you'd see would be a definite shape of a certain
size, in grey of course, and a decision would have to be made,
on that information, as to whether it was food for you, or
would feed on you. A sort of feed or flight affair!
So, as you can imagine, there was a time of bedlam.
Animals had lumps bitten out of them that didn't taste
quite right to the eater. Stomach-aches were the order of the
day for some short-sighted animals.
A great number of beasts objected, in no uncertain terms,
to being attacked for no other reason than that they looked
"something like" the eaters' legitimate prey.
God, who had laid down for a short sleep, after a fairly
hefty snack of his favourite ambrosia, woke to a great deal of
"All right. Quieten down now! What's all this noise about?"
The sound dropped by a very small amount.
"SILENCE!" roared the Lord, making teeth rattle and
clearing the wax out of quite a few ears.
The noise plummeted to a low mutter, and the sound of a
quite a few hefty, thumping noises, as several scores were
settled at the back of a large crowd of angry animals.
Gods' eyes settled on a figure in front of him.
The Warthog stood with four feet firmly planted on the
ground. With his head held high, he had a pair of wicked,
curling tusks either side of his snout, above which a pair of
very beady eyes saw everything.
"It's your fault!" said the warty one. "Nobody knows who is
to be eaten by whom, or what is to eat what, or anything at
Looking down from his great height, God recognised the ugly
porky. "Warthog. I remember now. I thought I'd made some
mistakes and maybe you're one of them. I'll remake you I
"Go ahead then. See if I care." Said the warthog, his
indignation high. "Blame me, when you should be blaming
yourself. I didn't leave the job unfinished!" He shouted with
an indignant voice.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN! NOT FINISHED!" Roared God.
And there was a large round wart, rolling about on the
ground, with a very small hog attached.
"I knew you would, you big bully!" Squeaked the wart. "You
should be ashamed of yourself. Picking on a..a..wart of this
size and quality. Just because you made a gihugious
"ME! MAKE A MISTAKE? Screamed God. By now he was beside
himself with fury. And the two of him didn't make a pretty
sight at all.
"And you can't take criticism!" Continued the Wart.
"Wh…Wh…What!" God stuttered in rage.
"CALM DOWN!" trumpeted the elephant.
"Who said that?" asked God in a suddenly small voice, as he
shimmered back to being one and looked around in the
"He did" replied the small grey shape of the mouse,
pointing upwards at the large lumpy pachyderm, "and if you have
to shout to make your point, you've lost the argument
"Humph", said God going all huffy.
While everyone agreed with the mouse and said so, the small
rodent whispered into the elephants' ear and smiled as the
pachyderm lifted his trunk high into the air, trumpeted, and
dashed into the distance.
Realising just how silly he must look; that the other
animals were right and he, God, looked a proper twit, he
gathered himself together.
"Point taken. Apologies all round. Now...where's the
elephant?" queried God, noticing the absence of a certain
lumpiness around him.
"Took off," said the mouse, with a smug look on his face,
"Something about my getting right up his nose." sniggered the
"I made him very sensitive about his trunk and you took
advantage of that, you bully."
"Me?" The mouse looked as innocent as he could, which
"Yes. You. So you can get lost as well!" retorted His
Highness and the mouse wasn't there any more.
"Aren't you going to ask what the mistake is?" demanded the
hog/wart, in as large a voice as he could manage for a wart of
his size and condition, and trying to ignore the fact that
animals were disappearing all around him.
"All right then. Smarty pants! What's the big mistake?"
"If you'll put the lights on, I'll show you." squeaked the
God went bang again.
"LIGHTS!" exclaimed the deity. "LIGHTS?" After a struggle
he brought himself under control once more. "There aren't
supposed to be any lights yet. There's to be a great, grand
opening with a big, bold, gold, brassy sun! On Sunday.
Tomorrow! Get it? Sunday? Oh, please yourself!" said God. "And
I'm not ready for it. So there!"
"Well, pardon me for being....I think we could do with some
now. Don't you?" asked the hog/wart in his best, squeakiest
sarcastic tone. "By the way. How about bringing me back to
normal? It's difficult enough talking to you in a proper voice,
never mind this small one."
The warthog returned to his ugly normality. "Thank you. If
we had some light, then we wouldn't have the trouble of not
knowing who or what to eat," the warthog continued, "You've now
idea how hungry we get...." his voice tailed off as he saw the
look God was giving him. But, looking round, he was encouraged
by the nod of his 'lovely' wife and all the other animals
around him. "It's not much to ask for. Is it? I think… No! We
think that it's reasonable and easy-peasy for someone as all
powerful as you are. Or can't you manage that? Just a little
light on your subjects?" "You - are - pushing - your -
luck!" God answered. Controlling himself He proclaimed, in his
best theatrical voice. "Let there be light!" and there
was. A great big, very, very bright, golden sun shone
A large collective blink came from all around. A blink you
could almost hear. Coming from almost nothing to such an amount
was more than some could bear. A great many said it was too
The bats disappeared into any cave or tunnel they could
find. Most of the whales took to the sea floor and stayed
there. The hippopotamuses, crocodiles and alligators all dove
for the bottom of the rivers and lakes. Slugs hurried to
darkened, damp places as fast as they could.
At around that moment, most of the beasts that we see as
grey today, took themselves out of the sun, into the darkest
places and missed what followed, although a few did stay.
God surveyed the scene and asked the question. "What is the
"You've got to be joking. Right." exclaimed Warthog,
"There's something missing," continued the warty one in his
best sarcastic tone. "It can't have escaped your Royal
Highnesses sharp, beady little eyes that everything, and we
mean everything, is shall we say, a delicate and in some cases,
not so, delicate shade of grey."
"So?" replied God, who was resplendent in his Sunday best
of red, yellow and, of course royal blue.
"So!" the warthog became a little agitated now. "So... how
about some colour." He took a deep breath and continued. " Not
for me you understand. I'm looking good enough without it. But
a lot of the others could do with a splash here and there"
"Nobody give him a mirror." was His only comment on that
"It'll not go amiss," pleaded the Warthog. "It would
certainly be an aid to digestion, or indigestion really. How
The animals in the back all said that they would like a
little colour in their lives.
God gave the idea some thought and made his decision.
"Very well. Who's first?" he asked and nearly got crushed
in the rush.
Finally he managed to pull himself out from under the
bodies and stood tall, then climbed off the pile of animals to
stand on a small mound in front of the beasts.
"All right. Form a queue." demanded the Lord.
"Me first," said the Lion, pushing to the front, as all the
beasts jostled for position. "I'm king of the jungle. My roar
is as mighty as my main of hair. I don't need more than a royal
and very exclusive, Tan."
God moved his a finger and it was so. Everyone "Ooh"ed and
"Ah"ed and said that God had done a most wonderful job and off
went the Lion, happy.
"Next?" asked God.
Up trotted the Gnu.
"Everyone is allowed an off minute when they're busy making
a world," said God.
"Any relation to the Warthog?"
The Gnu looked at God with a vacant expression.
"No? Well. You look just fine as you are. Any colour but
grey on you would frighten the trees."
Off trotted the Gnu.
"Next?" asked the Deity. "Ah. The noble Zebra. And what
would you prefer as a colour scheme?"
"Well," said the Zebra. "I'd like some stripes." He asked,
in a lofty and slow drawl. "I think stripes can look really
arctic." he continued, "I've thought about them for… ooh 20
minutes now and I think they'll really look good. Don't
He aimed the question at God but didn't wait for an answer.
"Yes, stripes, quite long ones I think. But I don't quite know
what shape or anything. What do you think?"
God cut across the last words. "I think that will be just
fine. Whatever you say. What colour?"
"Oh. I don't know, what do you have?" the haughty Zebra
"Anything your heart desires."
"Black and yellow?"
The Deities' hand moved in mysterious ways.
The Zebra became black and yellow, in broad horizontal
"That'll look quite fetching out on the plains," said God.
"See you for miles."
The Zebra nodded feeling very pleased with himself and his
"Yep. All the meat eaters will see you for miles and
"Gulp." replied the Zebra. "Any chance of a change God? I
mean to say Lord. I didn't think."
"Change! You want to change your beautiful stripes for
something else? Well. I don't know about change."
"Please." pleaded the Zebra.
"Black and white?" asked His Majesty.
"Yes please, and can they be up and down, a little squiggly
"I suppose so." was the reply.
"And maybe a few pink and blue dots in patches?"
"No pink and blue dots in patches?"
The Lord nodded.
The Zebra moved off into the plains, quite well
The cheetah dashed forward for her colour job.
"Goodness." said God. "You look pretty good in grey. What's
"I thought some spots would be cool. Reddish rings around
blackish spots on a brownish, reddish, tannish background?"
requested the cheetah.
"Lots of 'ish's there. But quite precise in your idea. OK."
A wave of a small finger was enough to satisfy the slim feline
and she disappeared into the distance.
Leopard sauntered up for her painting.
"Are you a cousin of the cheetah?" asked the Lord. "You're
very much alike although you are the larger."
"Close-ish," related the pussycat.
God smiled a little. "Would something similar do you?"
"Cool." commented the leopard.
And it was so.
The bears started to gather.
Polar bear wanted white and got it. After all, who would
argue with him?
The same for the attitude ridden grizzly: brown on
And most of the other bears chose brown. Not very
For the butterflies and a great many beatles and bugs God
used his 'assortment of colours hand' as they flew, crawled,
hopped and ran past him. Individually painting them all would
take much too long.
The snakes arrived. Nearly every animal, except the
mongoose licking its' lips on the outer fringes, decided they
had prior engagements elsewhere and disappeared into the
"So?" Queried God.
"So what!" Spat the snakes spokesperson.
"So what would you like for a colour scheme?" Asked God,
all sweetness and light.
"A COLOUR SCHEME! YOU ASK WHAT COLOUR SCHEME WHEN YOU TREAT
US SO ABOMINABLY!" The snake, who had a large flat spot in the
centre of his normally round body, was a little upset as anyone
could see. "You make us so low on the ground we get trampled on
by stampeding elephants and rhinos. We're always eating dust.
Everyone has a low opinion of us. We can't see what's coming
till it's too late… AND YOU OFFER US A COLOUR SCHEME!"
God became a little peevish at this point. "Look." Said his
lordship, "Everyone is having a choice of his or her colour.
AND IF YOU DON"T LIKE IT, THEN TAKE THE CONSEQUENCES."
"OH YEH. AND WHO SAYS SO?" Came the very silly
"I SAY SO!"
God's hand moved.
"Tho WHO,…Tho WH….What'th the thcore with thith? What'th
happened to my tongue? Oy! You can't do thith to me. I demand
you remove thith fork in my tongue."
"I didn't do it juth't to you. Yuk yuk.(God did have a
funny peculiar laugh) All the other snakes are now the thame.
Tee Hee. As for colour? You'll have what you're given and lump
it." And that was the thnakes thorted, in more ways than one.
Off they went, with much muttering and mumbling, but no
The birds flew all around their Creator. The males all
wanted something different, translated as sometimes garish,
bright and multicoloured, which, after all, is what is required
for them to be noticed by their mates; those sensible birds,
who all asked for 'something similar, but plainer', so they
could all tell which was what.
The fish sent a representative in the shape of an
air-breathing grey mudfish with a block booking of different
shades of greys and blues. The small fish wanted a multitude of
colours and got them. Every so often God would notice something
that might look better changed. Like big white clouds, as well
as the small fluffy ones instead of the old standard grey ones.
Blue water sometimes, instead of black and/or grey. As
time went by, everything was given a colour, except one.
The large black head moved from side to side, the mouth
snarling but ever so quietly, no more sound than a low rumble
coming from the chest of the feline, but the eyes, fixed on the
small figure, were tormented, with a look of madness in them.
The stalking was over. The panther wriggled its' body into the
correct position and launched itself at its' quarry, striking
it down with one blow of its' great paw. It knew it hadn't
killed its' prey. It hadn't wanted to. Now it started to do
what no other animal in the kingdom had done.
The panther waited, eyes glistening with insanity, for the
springbok to come round. With one paw on the small animals
trembling body; holding it as still as it could, the panther
sprang its razor sharp claws from their sheaths.
Lifting it's paw up high, the demon struck, high, into the
springboks' back leg, bringing a scream of pain from the mouth
of the small form and a desperate struggle to escape, but in
As the panther looked into its' victims eyes, the big cat
drew those four bone knives down the leg of the terrified fawn,
bringing a cry of abject terror.
This excited the cat so much that it lost control. Biting
into the animals' neck it killed the small antelope
As if this action was like a switch, the panther looked at
the animal as if for the first time and then simply walked
away. The witness, silent among the trees that surrounded the
scene, shook its head, as if not really believing what it had
seen, wondered what to do and moaned quietly to itself.
The warthog and his mate were about to go when a great
shout went up in the distance and it wasn't long before news
started coming in that a certain large animal wasn't killing
for food, but just for the pleasure of the kill. All the beasts
knew that death was a necessary part of living, after all
everyone needs to eat. But this was something so wrong that all
the beasts became very scared.
The witness, a distressed orang utang, hurried up to God.
His eyes showed the hurt he was feeling and his hands were
shaking as he rubbed them over his face. He was hunched up as
he told God what he had seen.
"It was horrible!" he continued through his tears and sobs.
"He ripped the springbok fawn to pieces with his claws, broke
the poor things' neck and then calmly walked away, as if
nothing had happened." While the ape was telling his story
there were cries of horror from the surrounding animals.
"Who did?" asked the warthog, shuddering with horror.
"Big and black he was, with horrible, staring, shiny eyes.
"The look on his face, as if he was enjoying what he was doing.
He had a long tail flicking backwards and forwards."
"Hmm. It sounds as though that may be the panther," said
the Lord. "Highly unusual. But", he shrugged, "There's not a
great deal I can do about it. He has the right to do what he
wants, as long as he's willing to pay the price."
"What," cried the warthog, "That's all! And what do you
mean. What price? When will he pay the price? You've messed up
again. Haven't you? What's more, there's no one to take the
trouble too, but you. What are you going to do about it?"
God said, "It's nothing to do with me. You'll have to sort
it out for yourselves."
"Typical!" exclaimed the warthog. "You make all this
perfection. You even add colour but, as soon as a problem comes
up, which may show that you've made another mistake, because
the killer is obviously out of it's mind, you wash your
"I have things to do." replied God, " This world is not
finished you know. Keep me informed when you see me again. Good
bye." With these words God left.
The animals looked at each other, the noise level rose as
they all started talking at once.
Fear was in every voice.
Once more the warthog took centre stage.
"All right," he shouted, "Quieten down. Don't all talk at
once." The animals all turned towards their spokesman, for that
was what he had become, as he continued, "Has anyone got a
There were many shaking heads.
"OK. The killer has to be stopped. I don't know how yet,
but we must do something,"
All agreed that this was true.
"So how about this?" he turned to the witness. "Orang Utan.
Which way did the panther go?" The primate pointed and the
warty one continued, "Could I have two small birds to act as
Quite a few put their wings up. The warthog chose a pair of
blackbirds and gave them their orders. "Just find him. No
heroics. One of you stay behind and circle overhead, to mark
the spot. The other return here to lead us back." The birds
"Er,.. Who's us?" queried the hyena with a slightly
"That's a good point," said the warthog, "Look. Something
needs to be done about the panther. Always remember, you or
your little ones could be next. We will have to have
The animals whistled, looked at their feet, into the
distance, anywhere but at the warthog. An obvious rash of
yellow streaks had run up and down the animals backs.
While this was going on, his lady mate, realising that
their young were on their own, dashed off towards the place she
had left them. In the same direction that the birds had
Her mate didn't notice her go.
"Do you realise what you all look like? I'm really
disappointed in you. None of us will be safe in our beds. Not
even your little ones elephant, or yours hippo, or yours
leopard and, no, not even yours 'King' lion."
Ashamed at their cowardice, all the beasts offered to go
with the warthog, even though none of them knew where o go or
what to do.
"Good," said Warthog, "Now we wait for news."
Quietly, the hippo turned to the leopard and asked the cat
in a whisper, "What do we do, if and when we catch him?"
The leopard couldn't answer but shrugged its' slim
shoulders, lowered its' narrow head and frowned in thought, as
the animals waited uneasily for the blackbird to return.
God was getting on with his project. Strolling along he
made minor adjustments. With a splash of colour here, a
change of shape there. He was very pleased with the overall
look of what he had created. Coming round a corner he found
an animal that hadn't been to see him about its' colour
change. It was in the shade, resting against a tree and
looking at God with yellow, baleful eyes as if He may be
prey, then recognised his Lord. It was the tiger.
"You look pretty good as you are." said God, "But everyone
else has had a change from the grey to whatever hue they
would like. What's your pleasure?" "A colour change?
That's a novelty. Colour? Oh I don't know. What would you
suggest?" Running through all the colours that he
had given to the various animals God realised that one colour
had not been taken. "What about burnt orange?"
offered the Lord. "Sounds reasonable to me," the
tiger answered, laconically. As he was transformed
in colour, there was a piteous cry of help from a short
distance away. A cry that made both God and the tiger
exchange concerned looks. God didn't say anything.
The tiger bounded out of the clearing towards the cry for
help. Warthog's wife was in serious trouble. She had
managed to find herself some safety in a cavity, behind a
small opening at the base of a rotten tree, in the centre of
a large circular clearing. Outside, trying to get in, the
panther was almost purring with suppressed pleasure as it
tore at the rotten wood, making the opening wider with each
strike of its claws. The blackbird was circling overhead and
making its feeling heard. The warthogs' scream was becoming
thin with fear, as if she had nearly lost her voice. She knew
that it would not be long before the killer struck
A mighty roar from behind the panther made it spin round.
The tiger padded, head low and snarling, into the clearing.
Circling round the edge, the tiger lifted its head, kept its
baleful yellow eyes on the killer and roared out another
challenge, one that the black cat couldn't evade.
Tiger started to spiral in towards the tree; the other
roared in defiance.
They were of almost equal size, with the burnt orange tiger
being slightly larger. The tree and the warthog were forgotten
as the two big cats circled each other, both trying to see a
possible weakness or advantage, concentrating on finding an
opening in the others armour and all the while roaring out
Closer and closer they circled until there was very little
space between them and a fight to the death became
The panther feinted for the tiger's front left paw with a
slash of its right and when the tiger defended, went to bite
the tigers neck instead, but the tiger moved its shoulders a
little and the teeth only grazed the tigers fur. The tiger
lowered its head and went for the panther's shoulder, drawing a
roar of pain from the panther and the black fiend went
The dust on the floor of the clearing was being so churned
up by the two cats' fighting that they were practically
invisible. There were snarls and roars and obvious pain in the
sounds both beasts were making. As the battle raged, all the
animals who had come to try to rescue the latest victim, peered
silently through the bushes and round the boles of the trees
that surrounded the clearing, gazing in wonder and some fear at
the scene before them.
Finally the noise dropped in the centre of the clearing and
the dust settled to reveal two figures lying on the ground. It
was obvious, from the blood on the ground and on the figures,
that they were both badly wounded. Warily, the animals came in
from the edge of the clearing, with warthog leading the way. He
approached the panther just as the killer lifting his head and
fixed him to the spot with the madness in those eyes. Then, the
light went out of those glittering orbs, the head dropped to
the ground and the great chest exhaled for the last time.
Warthog's lady raced over to her mate and chided him for
taking a chance on going that close to the killer, but secretly
she was pleased that he had shown such courage.
The animals then transferred their attention to the tiger.
His fur and skin had been torn in a great many places.
There were long gashes down his shoulders and across his
back even his tail, that still twitched, but his chest still
rose and fell, which made them keep their distance
God entered the clearing and surveyed the scene.
"I didn't realise it would come to this Warthog! It looks
as though I owe you an apology."
He turned to the tiger. "You are a very courageous animal
and, for your bravery in removing a source of evil, I'm going
to heal your wounds in such a way that everyone will know and
remember your strength and character. All the marks the panther
cut and bit into your skin and fur will remain as a reminder to
The Lord made a pass with his hand, the tiger stood up,
looked along his flanks to see his stripes in all their glory,
then put his head back and gave a great coughing roar of
The owl, resplendent in his new colour scheme, was perched
on his usual branch and
continued his conversation with the secretary bird, whose
paint job hadn't altered very much.
"Yoouu were right. He certainly did, as yoouu say, soort
it. In the end. But, tell me. Why didn't yoouu have a little
more colour for yoouurself?"
"Decorum. A little more taste is what I aim for. In all
things." Replied the long-legged bird with a lift of his long
beaked head and eyes.
"Decorum! Decorum! You're a scavenger!" Shouted the small
round 'Know-it-all', forgetting his long vowels for once. "You
pick clean the carcasses of dead animals with that beak of
"Quiet!" Demanded the bird, looking round to see who might
be looking or, worse still, listening. "Don't tell everyone or
I'm likely to get blackballed for the Liberal Club!"
Stretching himself, he took off and started to fly into the
reddening sunset, with the owl alongside him.
"The Liberal Club! You're further right than Gengis Khan
"Hush! Will you keep your voice down?" Objected the
"Now if you want to get into the Conservatives" Continued
the rotund one. "They may suit you and I might be able to help
you there. I've a cousin, twice removed who knows a friend of a
friend…. If you know what I mean. But, The Liberal Club!"
These last words were almost drowned by the sound of a
hyena giggling rather loudly.