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I’ve been inspired again by Steph’s InMon challenge, Inspiration Monday. Luckily we have an extra week for this one. As usual there are various prompts to play with, and this time she included something gentle to stretch our imaginations, something soft, something suitable to go with eggs, chicks – and fluffy bunnies.

So here is my offering; In the name of science:

* * *

“Snakes, Sam?”

“Yes. Fascinating creatures, y’know.” Samuel Smythe bent lower and squinted into the dark vivarium. “They spend hours, days even, just laying there; digesting their last meal.” He tapped gently on the glass with the silver knob on his cane. The snake responded with a flick of its tongue.

“Sounds pretty dull to me. Not much action.” Joshua pushed his hands in to his pockets.

“You’re right. There isn’t much going on now. It’s a bit like you after Sunday dinner and a glass of port.”

"Boa constrictor, Vaňkovka, Brno (2)" by Pavel Ševela. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Boa_constrictor,_Va%C5%88kovka,_Brno_(2).jpg#/media/File:Boa_constrictor,_Va%C5%88kovka,_Brno_(2).jpg

“Boa constrictor, Vaňkovka, Brno (2)” by Pavel Ševela. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Joshua wasn’t too keen on that analogy, but he could see its relevance. “So when do they become interesting?”

Smythe beckoned him to the other side of the basement where another glass tank sat on a rack.

“This is a boa constrictor.” He looked at Joshua, who nodded that he was familiar with the name. “He last ate about a month ago. Now he’s hungry again.”

Joshua watched as the snake slithered around its enclosure. Its tongue flickering, sensing the air for a whiff of something edible.

“So, I suppose you feed it. Throw in a dead rat, or a couple of chicken legs, or something.”

“Not at all!” Sam’s face glowed as he visualised the events to come. “I let them feed themselves.”

He led Joshua back in to the daylight and into the garden. He strode down through the orchard to the gardener’s shed. To the right was the compost heap, simmering gently in the cool afternoon breeze. To the left was a row of boxes, on legs so they were at a more comfortable working height.

Joshua looked at Sam. “Well?”

He flipped up the sacking covering the front of the nearest box. Inside sat a brown rabbit. Its nose twitched for no apparent reason.

“A fluffy bunny?”

“Yes!” Sam giggled, “Snake food!”

“No!”

“This way I get to see how the snake hunts. Does it lie in wait for the rabbit to hop by – or does it track it down, get it cornered, then strike!”

“This is all pretty gross, Sam, even for you.”

Sam carried on, “Then while the bunny is gripped by the fangs, the rest of the snake’s body comes in to play … it coils around its body and crushes … “

“Enough! I don’t want to hear it!”

“It’s animal psychology, Joshua, battle tactics. I get to study the hunter and the hunted. I watch to see how they react, does the prey just give in and accept its fate? Does the hunter display any compassion? Or is everything just as nature intended – vicious – fatal – and efficient?”

Joshua turned and walked back towards the house, “I’ll be damned glad when you get back to physics and engineering, Smythe!”

* * *

© 2015 K.Patrick Moody

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