Anaconda alarm

Dazel had planned a fascinating weekend getaway. “It will be so much fun,” she said cheerily.

“Do we have to go to the Dark Forest?” Swain, the black swan said doubtfully as he packed their stash of seeds.

“Yes, it’s the only tropical rainforest we have in D’Land! The buttress and stilt roots we need for our project can only be found in rainforests,” urged Dazel.

“Wiz Rooster has given us a project on kinds of roots but can’t we just draw them and make our presentation?” said Rita, the robin, apprehensively shuddering. “I’ve heard the rainforest is dark and gloomy and there are many dangerous animals which inhabit it.”

“Dangerous animals are everywhere!” Dazel said shrugging off her friends’ fears. “Our project is sure to be graded well if we bring the actual roots.”

When Swain and Rita exchanged a look, Dazel sighed, “I know you are afraid something might go wrong like it did last time we went up to the mountains and got trapped in the snow. But there’s an element of danger in every trip. That doesn’t mean we should stop exploring!”

Motivated by their duck friend’s valiant words, the three friends began their journey towards the Dark Forest on Sunday morning. “I’ve heard there are lovely orchids which grow here. I will take some for my mother,” said Rita, as they entered the lush green depths of the rainforest. All of a sudden it seemed as if the sun had disappeared behind the canopy of thick green-leaved trees overhead.

“That’s the spirit,” Dazel said with a grin. “My friend, Din Din, used to come here very often. When I asked him he told me we could find buttress roots towards the middle of the forest.”

“Can we rest and have lunch,” gasped Swain a while later. “It’s been a long trek.”

“Look! There’s a small lake here!” exclaimed Dazel.

“Din Din never told me about a lake! Let’s drink some water from here.”

So the three friends went up to the lake whose water seemed dark and murky in the dim light. They splashed themselves with water and drank until they were satiated. Sitting at the muddy bank they ate their snack of seeds they had packed in a knapsack.

Suddenly, a movement from the lake depths startled them. A long whip-like creature wound his body around Dazel and swept her into the water.

Dazel was so stupefied that her scream was unheard. She felt choked in the vise-like grip. On the bank she could see Swain and Rita screaming in terror as they flew up to a tree to save themselves.

Dazel turned her neck to find herself looking into the menacing eyes of a snake which sat on top of its huge head.

The largest snake she had ever seen. Or imagined!

She felt the breath being knocked out of her lungs. This could only be one snake! The one they had read about in school! The anaconda!

“How dare you drink from my lake! No one dares to even come close to my home!” the massive snake hissed ominously.

Dazel could only look into his eyes and flaring nostrils which seemed to hypnotize her. Finally she said, “W…w…we are new in the Dark Forest! We did not know we were not allowed near this lake.

Please accept my apologies, my friend!“ she squeaked. She felt her tiny bones would break if the anaconda squeezed her body any further.

“Friend?!” said the enormous snake, the menace vanishing from his slit-like eyes. “Don’t you know, I’m nobody’s friend. I just know how to kill — by coiling my muscular body around creatures and squeezing it until they can no longer breathe. I swallow my victims whole!”

Dazel thought she was going to faint. And before long she actually blacked out. When she came to, she found herself in a dark cave, the anaconda sitting regally coiled before her, staring at her intently.

“Mr. Anaconda…,” Dazel sputtered.

“My name is Andy,” the anaconda replied in an ominous voice. “I am leader of the knot of anacondas who live in the lake inside the Dark Forest. Don’t you know, you’re supposed to steer clear off this area. By your appearance I can guess that you don’t even live here.”

“Yes, we live in the pond near the Aviary School for birds,” began Dazel gathering her courage. She explained carefully why they were there for a school project.

“School!” Andy said wistfully. “We snakes wished for our young to go to the Terrestrial School for land animals but they said we should go to the Aquatic School. The new location of the Aquatic School is too far away and so none of the anacondas go to school anymore.”

Forgetting her own terror, Dazel exclaimed, “No school!? That’s simply terrible.” Andy simply shrugged, “It’s been years now that we have stopped going. I remember going to the old Aquatic School when I was very young.”

“I’m sure there is a solution. Why can’t you start a small school in the Dark Forest just for the creatures here?” Dazel suggested thoughtfully.

“And who would teach?” Andy retorted sharply.

“If the Aviary School agreed to give you course books, a few inhabitants of the Dark Forest themselves could study and teach the information to their peers,” Dazel urged persistently.

Andy’s expression softened, “Do you think that could be possible?”

“I’m sure it will be. Our principal Wiz Rooster is certainly going to cooperate for such a great cause. Education should not stop, no matter what the situation! That’s what he always preaches!” Dazel assured.

So Dazel went to find Rita and Swain who were weeping near the edge of the Dark Forest.

“Come on! No time to cry!” was all Dazel said to her stunned friends. They flew to Wiz Rooster’s home and Dazel told the wise bird the predicament in the Dark Forest.

“Of course, Dazel! Why not! I had no idea the anacondas had stopped going to school!” Wiz Rooster was prompt to reply.

Before the end of the week, Dazel and her friends including Din Din, had carried stacks of reading material to the anacondas.

“There are over 30 young snakes ready to learn!” Andy said proudly on the first official day of the Reptile School. “Thank you so much Dazel for giving us a school. You are our good luck charm. I can’t believe I will be a teacher at this school!”

Dazel hugged Andy impulsively! “Best of luck, my friend!”

The Adventures of D'Land
Animated Series

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