Squabble of the Titans Excerpt: The Trap is Sprung!

September 9th, 1910

The Adventure Journal of Dr. Horace S. Browntrout, Gentleman Explorer

Today, I nearly obtained my first Saysquack specimen! It began like any ordinary day. I awoke at dawn and was performing my calisthenics in my long under trousers after raising the Union Flag and playing Rule Britannia on the gramophone. Then, Ejellykoot came running from his hut and grabbed my arm. “Look,” he said, “It big fur man you seek, over there. Look, Saysquack, Saysquack! God save the King! God save the King!” There was no time to dress. I could only hastily lace up my boots, grab my top hat, the guns, and a cartridge belt (which I was not even sure contained any ammunition at the time).

I bolted through the forest with Ejellykoot, rifle in hand. We ran for some 300 yards before coming to an abrupt halt when Ejellykoot raised his arm to call for silence. He pointed to a clearing another 20 yards hence, just on the other side of a fast-flowing river and waterfall of indescribable beauty.

The falls cascaded over a precipice about 50 feet high and around many small islets sprouting miniature fir tress, mossy stones and ferns. The river below the falls was roiling with whitewater, its length spanned by an ancient, gnarled cedar trunk.

The bushes on the other side of the river moved. A loud, plaintive quacking emanated from the same place. A shadow or dark figure flitted about. The rarely-seen sun threw beams that cast dappled shadows and made it difficult to see due to glare.

On our side of the river was a trap I had placed at Ejellykoot’s suggestion. It consisted of a wooden cage suspended from a tree over an opened tin of Carry On Sir John’s Potted Meat Product.

The tin was now empty and the trap had fallen and was broken apart—a clear indication that the beast had come here! And what a strapping brute it was!

Only a Saysquack could have the strength to smash it, for it was so heavy that it took me half a day with rope and pulley just to hoist it into place.

With the trap sprung I saw that my chance at capturing a live Saysquack was now forfeit. I knew this could be my only chance to obtain glory and to save my name. I inserted a cartridge in the .303 and managed to click off the safety catch after some finagling and muttered curses. There I stood, clad in filthy, off-white under trousers. With all pretense of both dignity and nobility gone, glory yet tantalized me with her siren’s call.

I raised the rifle, exhaled deeply, and as the shadowy form began moving away from the clearing, I squeezed the trigger.

A loud, yelping bark ensued as when one inadvertently treads upon a puppies’ paw. The yelp turned into an angry, low growl, then more frantic quacking. I squeezed off two more shots. After the echoes faded beneath the roaring waterfall, all was still. Not even birdsong could be heard. I heard nothing in fact, save the thumping of my heart.

Ejellykoot made several excited declarations and urged me on to find my quarry, motioning strenuously toward the clearing across the river. I handed him the rifle, seeing as I could finish off my target with the bulldog if need be. I checked the revolver and bolted forward again, this time stopping abruptly at the edge of the river. In the pandemonium of the chase I had not considered how to cross it. The log presented itself, but it was slick with dewy moss. It was time for courage and manly strength, not the halting steps of a quaking invalid, so I stepped upon it and began tottering precariously toward the other side. At that moment Ejellykoot appeared and inexplicably urged me to come back. I could not make out what he was saying over the sound of the roaring water...

* * *


Recent Posts

See All