All Quiet on the Duck Pond Lawn (Author’s Note 6th edn)

by Callum B. Downes

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A stiff wind agitates the reeds, compelling the enemy to reposition in unnatural, wary spasms, the glassy surface distorting in their wake. All quiet on the duck pond lawn.

A lone student perches upon a bench top in an unusually precarious fashion and unhinges the lid off his steaming lunch. Hot chips and gravy, for the third time that week… A high-risk decision. He shifts his gaze from side to side, hyperaware of the unnerving silence. A vague shadow interrupts his scanning vision momentarily and he jerks his head back violently to rekindle the now veiled obscurity. Ears pricked, a disturbance amongst the reeds shoots fear up his spine, inducing him into death-like motionless.

Under the cover of swirling fog, the enemy scrambles over the embankment and proceeds to stalk their target, arching their figure, butt high to the sky, remembering the slightest details of their covert training.

Slowly placing down his lunch, the student unsheathes his plastic cutlery from the napkin in readiness for battle. His pounding heart’s now unbearably loud.

With one foul swoop, the enemy bursts forth through the fog screen with vicious intent, flaps as forcefully as a beached Magikarp and grabs hold of the steaming, prized loot with stifling force.

Instinctively, the student plants his plastic fork into the Jugular of the feathered beast, gaining the upper hand in the now violent bout of tug-of-war.

Squawking in painful response, the enemy unintentionally signals for reinforcements. Sunlight is strangled as a vast cloud of aerial support hones in on the battleground.

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Suddenly aware of the impending doom above, the student surrenders his lunch and raises the white napkin, waving it ferociously in a panic filled frenzy to signal his yielding submission.

Unmoved, the winged daemons continue upon their merciless trajectory. Their war cry, clearly fuelled by ceaseless blood lust, pierce the helpless student right before their bills pierce his flesh.

Ravaged, the student gently clutches his exposed intestines and right there and then, just like many brave UOW students before him, he vowed to himself…

“Never again, will I place down my lunch whilst my back is turned to the duck pond”.

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