A Hunter in Bangan Forest – by Laurie Fraser

A Hunter in Bangan Forest

This story is dedicated to Jack, Cyrus, Parker, Nadeem, and Kayden (in order of appearance). Thank you for your contributions.

Bangan Forest was a peaceful place. After all, the word ‘bangan’ means It is peaceful here. However, something happened one sweaty June afternoon that was entirely unusual and not peaceful at all. First of all, humans were not permitted in Bangan Forest. Some tall metal signs on Danger Road declared that there was “NO HUNTING ALLOWED” and that was one of the reasons that the animals of Bangan Forest felt safe.

Normally, animals weren’t even on the lookout for intruders; that’s how rarely it happened. Plus, everyone knew that Eagle was up in Sky every day. Surely Eagle would be the one to see a problem like a hunter. In fact, on that sweaty June day, it was not Eagle who spotted an intruder, it was Jackbird.

You know Jackbird Puffin: black and white with a strong orange beak. He’s surprisingly clever; he likes to study things like space and rockets and astronauts. If Jackbird knew a way to do it, he would fly all the way to Moon, even other planets like Jupitar and Pluto. You know… puffins can’t fly that high. Truth be told, I’m not aware of any bird that can reach Moon.

So Jackbird made do with flying the uppermost parts of Sky. He loved to glide over Bangan Forest, watching for any anomalies, anything out of the ordinary. Now, on occasion, Jackbird did see trouble. One time, he saw three elks in a terrible battle. He was there too, when Bodacious Bear, just a baby, was “rescued” by a human who gave him to Townzoo (which is really just a jail).

Now, to get back to that fateful sweaty day in June: Jackbird Puffin was doing his regular rounds, acting like Eagle and surveying Forest. It was about midday when he spied something odd in Miss Terry Tree. Miss Terry Tree was a beautiful Maple, not young and not old. Her trunk was straight and solid; her branches were graceful. Her dress in June was a lovely lively green colour. The thing that caught Jackbird’s sharp eye, was a little movement deep in her branches. It wasn’t Wind because only one small part of Miss Terry Tree was moving.

Jackbird flew several laps around her, getting closer each time until he saw something that made him open his orange beak wide in shock. The thing that Jackbird saw was very very dangerous. Can you guess? It was a human! And what do you think was in that human’s hands? Well, I have to tell you the hard truth: it was a gun. It was the sort of long gun that hunters carry… and so Jackbird thought, “Why that’s a hunter! An actual hunter!”

Now, if Jackbird had been Blue Jay, he would have just opened his mouth and announced the news. And if Jackbird had been Crow, he would have shouted the news to one and all. Luckily, Jackbird was a clever one. He knew that if he squawked, the hunter would realize he’d been seen, and he would run away… or maybe hide in a better place.

So Jackbird quietly flew away. He flew directly to his pal and best friend: Cycat. I know, I know… you wouldn’t think that Cat and Bird could be best buddies. Normally, cats catch birds; at least they have fun trying, but Cycat wasn’t that type of cat. First of all, he had a great big heart. Secondly, Cycat had unusual fur for a cat. He wasn’t brown or white or black. Cycat wasn’t even a ginger or a calico. You see, Cycat was unique: his fur was cyan which is a lovely green colour… and instead of straight stripes like most cats, his colourful stripes were zigzagged. Can you imagine a cat that looks a bit like a peacock? Well, that was Cycat. He was clever too, and that was one of the reasons that Cycat and Jackbird hung out together. They were both unusual and clever in their own ways, and so they understood each other.

Jackbird found Cycat hanging out with Miss Wendy Willow. You know how Willows love to wear their brown hair long, so it almost touches Earth? Well, Miss Wendy Willow had tied 2 ends of her long branches together to make a swing for Cycat… and man, I’m telling you, it was Cycat’s favourite place to hang. Literally hang. So Jackbird found him easily and reported the news: There was a human hunter in Miss Terry Tree, and he had a long gun.

“Are you sure?” asked Cycat.

“Absolutely sure! What should we do?”

“Well,” said Cycat, “what animal is big enough to knock a hunter out of Tree?”

“Buffalo?” asked Jackbird.

“Maybe,” said Cycat, “but he might get hurt. Hunters love to get Buffalo… and Bear too. They love to shoot anything big… like Moose or Deer. If they even approached Miss Terry Tree, the hunter would see them from far away, and that would be dangerous.”

Jackbird agreed. “Very dangerous! What should we do?”

“Let’s ask Carigator. He’s tough!”

So the two friends said good-bye to Miss Wendy Willow and headed deep into Forest to find Carigator. Yes, I know, you’ve probably never heard of Carigator before. Okay, imagine Alligator crawling into an actual car and getting stuck. That will give you an idea of this creature. You see, Alligator did crawl into an abandoned car, an old RCMP cruiser… and he got stuck! He’s been that way for years!

That would be a real difficulty for most Alligators, but Carigator was super-flexible. He adapted. He learned to live in the car. Well, he wasn’t all in- his head had gone right through the front bumper, and his Alligator feet stuck out the bottom. He could move with the car over him like a shield or protective armour or Turtle’s shell. When he moved, the car travelled with him.

You might have trouble imagining this, but Alligator came to love that car. I mean, he LOVED the car. He felt that it was part of him. Alligator wouldn’t, couldn’t go anywhere without the car and so it didn’t take long for all of the astonished animals of Bangan Forest to start calling him Carigator. It was a new name and Carigator LOVED it.

Now Carigator obviously had some problems… for example, he had no brakes- they wore out long ago, so it was hard for him to slow down sometimes, and it was hard for him to turn too. I mean, the car part didn’t always cooperate with the alligator part and sometimes he got so HOT, smoke came right out of his head. In spite of transition troubles, Carigator was really tough. I mean, he was made mostly of metal and even his Alligator head was quite bony and hard.

Once Jackbird and Cycat presented their quandary, Carigator said, “Well, what do you want me to do about it? It’s not my problem! Hunters are no threat to me.”

“Maybe you could ram right into Miss Terry Tree,” suggested Cycat.

“Yeah,” said Jackbird. “Knock her over! Then the hunter will fall and drop his gun and then you can eat him.”

“EAT HIM!” shouted Carigator. “Are you crazy? Humans taste HORRIBLE; don’t you know that?”

“Well, run him over then.”

“Right, then council comes to talk to me about disrespect. You think I’m gonna do your dirty work? Find someone else. I’m busy anyway.”

All three of them looked at each other.

“That idea would have hurt Miss Terry Tree anyway, banging into her like that,” shrugged Cycat.

“I have to go now,” said Carigator. “I’m going to Debwewin River for a carwash and a swim.”

Jackbird Puffin and Cycat wandered over to Miss Bee Tree and sat under her on Grass. Sometimes they hung out with Miss Bee Tree when they needed support. They sat in her shade. Bees from Miss Bee Tree’s heavy hive buzzed around them. Cycat and Jackbird thought and thought about what to do. Finally, Jackbird had an idea.

“Maybe ancient wisdom!”

“What?”

“Maybe I should go to Town and ask Koi Fish. He’s wise in the old ways, the traditional ways.”

“How can a fish live in Town? Surely, he needs River to feel comfortable?” asked Cycat.

“Well, I have talked to him before. It’s not easy to communicate with him because he doesn’t know much English. In spite of that, he did make it clear to me that he is NOT comfortable in his little pond. It’s way too little, and sometimes he doesn’t get clean water for months.”

“What do you mean? All Ponds clean themselves.”

“Well, not this one. It was made of cement by humans, so it can’t clean itself properly. Koi Fish’s pond is decorative, in front of a Japanese restaurant.”

“Ewww! That poor fish. We should rescue him one day,” suggested Cycat.

“You’ll be surprised, but he doesn’t want to be rescued. He loves Japanese stuff- the food, the language, the people, the lanterns…. I can’t imagine him ever leaving,” said Jackbird.

“Oh. Are you sure he is wise?”

“Oh yes, all koi fish are wise.”

“Okay, fly there and find out what he says. We should hurry up too. We don’t know what the hunter is doing at this very moment.”

Jackbird gave a nod and flew off. He flew over Bagan Forest, across Danger Road and all the way to Town. He quickly spotted the bright red Japanese restaurant and landed perfectly under Mis Cherry Tree beside the pond.

Jackbird chirped, “Koi Koi. Koi Koi. Koi Koi”…. until finally big strong Koi Fish rose from the depths and stuck his pouty mouth out of Water.

“Kon’nichiwa” he said, which in Japanese means ‘Good Afternoon.’

“Hello,” said Jackbird. “I am in search of wisdom.”

“Hai,” said Koi Fish, meaning ‘Yes.’

Jackbird explained the whole situation in English. It took some time and he actually had to draw a tree and a hunter in the dust beside the pond in order for Koi Fish to completely understand.

Now, Koi Fish had white whiskers, but he was not old. In spite of his youth, he was filled with ancient wisdom. He had learned to speak his truth with few words, in the Japanese way. He rolled his big beautiful body over in Water several times while he mulled over this strange situation in Bangan Forest.

When the orange fish with glorious fins finished rolling and mulling, he stuck his mouth out of Water to say: “Hunter is a big animal, but he will be defeated by a tiny animal.”

Then he sunk back to the bottom of the pond, and he stayed there.

“A tiny animal?” repeated Jackbird. “Are you kidding me?”

He flew back to Cycat and reported: “That was a waste of time, and we don’t have time to waste!”

“Did you find him? What did he say?”

“He said, ’Hunter is a big animal, but he will be defeated by a tiny animal.’ It doesn’t even make sense.”

Right then, as fortune would have it, K-mouse skittered by their feet.

“Hey! K-mouse!” called Cycat.

“Hey Dude, what’s up?” K-mouse was very cool. He was a dude himself. He wore a black hoodie and black high-tops which is pretty cool for a mouse. He carried a black satchel over his chest.

“You’re a tiny animal,” said Jackbird, “I wonder if you have any ideas about how to get rid of a hunter with a gun in a tree?”

“A human hunter?” asked K-mouse, his hands on his hips. “Lemme at him; where is he? I’ll take him down!”

It was easy to see that K-mouse felt entirely confident. There was not a shred of fear in him!

Jackbird led Cycat and K-mouse toward Miss Terry Tree. When they were well-hidden under bushes and shrubs, Jackbird quietly pointed out the exact branch that the hunter was on. He was still there, crouched on the branch and eating a bag of chips.

Everyone knows it is impossible to eat chips quietly. It was the hunter’s downfall; it was his tragic error to be eating chips while hiding. K-mouse – well, all mice, in fact – have excellent hearing and a terrific sense of smell. Without a second thought, without a word, without even a PLAN, K-mouse darted straight toward Miss Terry Tree and straight up her trunk, into her branches, directly to the hunter who didn’t have chance to even see K-mouse, that’s how fast he ran.

Now, K-mouse truly didn’t have a plan, but when he saw the hunter open his mouth wide and throw in a big chip, K-mouse jumped right in his mouth along with that big potato chip.

K-mouse had free rein in that poor hunter’s body. He tickled his tongue and ran down his throat. He went directly to his stomach full of chips and dip, and right there, in the hunter’s stomach, K-mouse jumped and scratched until the stomach walls began to squeeze in and out.

“Oh no, you don’t,” said K-mouse. “You are not going to vomit me up.”

And that’s when a tiny animal named K-mouse reached into his tiny black satchel and pulled out a tiny grenade. He laughed, “Ha ha ha hah!” He pulled a tiny pin out of the tiny grenade and well…. there was an explosion that was not tiny at all.

Now that explosion was so loud that Carigator heard it. “I know what that is,” he said as he scrubbed his tires in River. “That is one dead hunter.”

The explosion was so loud that the sound reached Town! It was even heard by a wise Koi Fish who was deep under Water. ‘I know what that is,’ he thought to himself as he watched a cherry blossom fall. ‘That is one dead hunter.’

From where Jackbird and Cycat waited, they saw the hunter break into many parts. Some of those parts fell to Earth and some of those parts flew up to Sky and then they fell to Earth.

Cycat cheered, “That’s one dead hunter! K-mouse saved us!”

Jackbird hung his head. “I didn’t know he was going to sacrifice his life for Bangan Forest.”

Oh my goodness, what a dramatic ending! What a tragic end to this story. We all thought that it was kind of sad…. until…. one of the parts that had flown up to Sky and then fallen down Earth, well… it moved… just a touch.

K-mouse lifted his tiny head off Forest’s floor. He gave his head a shake. Then he got up and scampered over to Cycat and Jackbird.

Cycat shook K-mouse’s hand. “Nice job.”

“Why do you have grenades?” asked Jackbird. “Grenades are illegal in Bangan Forest.”

“So are hunters!” said K-mouse with a grin. He tapped his black satchel.

“What else do you have in there?” asked Jackbird, walking over to him.

K-mouse gave a laugh, kicked his back heels together and skittered away so fast that he couldn’t be seen in Grass, not even by Jackbird’s sharp eyes.

He did spy a crack in Miss Terry Tree’s limb. Nanaandawi, the snake doctor, came by to splint her broken branch. She was strong and healthy in no time.

And so it came to pass that four forest animals who don’t always get along – bird, cat, fish and mouse – managed to rid Bangan Forest of a human hunter. How did four natural enemies manage to accomplish such a dangerous task? Oh, you know, they did it the old-fashioned way: They worked together.