by Pup Matthias
Submitted by Fred Patten, Furry’s favorite historian and reviewer.
River Water, by Eikka.
Capalaba, Qld, Australia, Jaffa Books, May 2016, trade paperback, $9.00 (122 pages), Kindle $2.99.
This is a happy nature novella, like Bambi by Felix Salten – not! (Not that Bambi is very happy.)
Flix is a pregnant young vixen, happily mated to Bracken, a strong but not very bright tod. This is fine with her. She doesn’t love him as much as she feels that she can relax with him as the protector of her and her (and his) kits. This is a great relief after her own orphaned and very insecure childhood.
“His brain wasn’t talon-sharp, if that wasn’t obvious from his idea that shrubberies could spontaneously attack, but that was fine by her. She knew he’d sooner let his bones collapse than let anyone get a strand of fur on her, and she’d given him a litter of magnificent kits growing inside her body alongside a growing feeling of being protected than she’d had in a very long time.” (p. 8)
Unfortunately for her, Bracken is immediately killed while she is out hunting. She does not grieve for him as much as she’s panic-stricken at being without a protector once again. Even worse now that she has a wombful of growing kits to also care for.
Flix is so desperate for a new protector that when she comes across a lone stoat, even younger and more naïve than she is, she grabs him for the job. He takes some persuading at first –
“The stoat blinked open his eyes, and reacted just as expected, twisting, scratching, biting, kicking. Flix, feeling disturbed but making sure she remained calm, called out as clearly as she could.
‘Okay, stop! I’m not going to hurt you! I know you’re lost and I know you’re alone – but that’s why I’m here! I want to help you! But please, I need you to stop!’
The stoat began to slow his struggling, but whether this was because he believed what she was saying or just getting tired, Flix didn’t know – she just continued speaking regardless.
‘Are you listening to me? Are…? Look, what’s your name? Mine’s Flix. What’s yours? Mmm?’
He just stared at her. She asked the question again. ‘What’s your name?’
‘…You’re a fox” the stoat breathed out.
‘Yes, I know,’ Flix said, ‘but there’s nothing I can do about that. And anyway, I’m not an ordinary fox… I’m a good fox.’
‘G… Good fox?’
‘Yes,’ she said, astonished at what she was saying; the amount of animals she’d torn the fur off, she was akin to a good fox as much as a stick insect was to a vicious destroyer of nature. ‘Ground squirrels, tree squirrels – good foxes, bad foxes. So you don’t have to be afraid. Just tell me your name.’
The stoat stared for a while longer, before sliding out the word ‘Nezzick’.
‘Nezzick,’ Flix repeated. ‘Brilliant name. Now… You know I’m here to help you, don’t you? … Just say yes or no.’
He didn’t say anything.” (pgs. 11-12)