The Tale of the Snut

Once upon a time, in a galaxy, far, far away, there lived a small and determined band of heroes who fought evil for reasons concerning Truth, Justice and the American Way. Since Truth and Justice are, at best, subjective terms whose definitions change depending on who has power and since no one who they fought for [or against] had any idea what the American Way was [since this happened elsewhere a good goddamn long time ago] their tights and capes were promptly confiscated and they were put away. Instead of telling you their story, I am, instead, going to tell you this one.

There was once a snut who lived in the forest. This was a good place for a snut to live because the favorite food of a snut is the root-​tip of the fabulous fugwup tree. The snut looked like a very small tapir; if you can imagine a tapir around the size of a shih tzu, and had soft and subtly variegated fur and was lonely. Snuts are typically solitary creatures, but they must come together to breed and they typically stay together until their young is raised. It had been so long since this snut had seen a fellow snut that it was beginning to despair ever finding one again.

In fact, the forest wasn’t as fun as it used to be. The fugwup trees were getting harder to find and when the snut did come across one, it was often sickly and its roots tasted bitter. The snut had even tried eating the berries of the graz bush when fugwups were particularly scarce, but they gave the snut a bellyache and made it dizzy. Even the other forest animals seemed more subdued, the snut heard fewer birds and the few animals it came across looked at him oddly. There were often violent and alien sounds to be heard in the distant parts of the forest. One day the snut even accidently ran in to its most fearsome predator, the kata. The kata didn’t eat the snut, however. Instead, she gave it a pitied look, took a deep breath, turned and disappeared into the nearest graz bush.

The snut was shocked at this behavior, but still greatly relieved. It even absentmindedly ate some grazberries in its bemusement. The snut had run in to this behavior before, almost as if the other animals knew something about its kind which the snut wasn’t aware. As it moved off into the evening, the snut crossed a stream, went down a hill, rolled in some particularly nice leaf mold and crossed something new to its experience. A hard black river that hurt its feet. All of these strange and exciting events had briefly made the snut forget how lonely it was, but after crossing the black river the immense solitude came rushing back.

The snut wanted a mate; it wasn’t as young as it used to be and it felt an urgent need to make its mark before it became completely unattractive to other snuts. This was the right time of year to come across other snuts, the breeding season, but in all of last year it had only come across three other snuts. A family to be exact, a snoot a snout and a snit. They had come up to the snut and snuffled it before moving off into the forest.

While recalling all of this, the snut had become quite physically ill from the grazberries it had eaten earlier and quite mentally ill from the trauma of loneliness. The snut’s eyes were watering heavily and it coughed up a bit a graz juice and stumbled against a tree. It hadn’t seen a healthy fugwup tree in just about as long as it hadn’t seen another snut. Once the majority of the dizziness had worn off it tottered forward toward a clearing. Life wasn’t all bad. The weather was the same and the snut reveled in the rainwater that washed its fur, and the dirt smelled the same and the snut loved to feel it between its feet. It still found joy in its life.

There was a sudden, sharp pain in the snut’s hind leg, the world spun and the last snut felt itself lifted into the sky. There is dangled. There it writhed. There it died. Three days later a man came into the clearing, cut down the stiffened corpse, skinned the snut and tossed the carcass into a stream. It was a stroke of luck to have caught a snut, they were so rare now. Its skin would fetch him a nice price at the logging camp down the road.

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