[692 words; ~ 2 min to read]

Nikusubila pranced along the watering hole. He was bathed and brushed and looking fine! He was certain his new accessory made him irresistable. Niku admired his reflection as he trotted along. His mane stood straight and his stripes were black and glossy. His accessory, a strap with two pouches, hung across his shoulders. One pouch had a large scroll in it and made the accessory slide to one side. He shifted his shoulders frequently to keep it straight.

He left the watering hole and galloped into the high grass of the Serengeti, where his herd grazed. He liked the flat land that stretched on forever. Maybe it didn’t. What would be beyond the plain?

“Whatcha got?” said Erevu, one of the young males from the bachelor herd.

Niku slowed and walked in a circle. “It’s an accessory.”

“Is that a scroll?”

“Naturally. That’s what accessories are for: carrying scrolls.”

“Is it magic?”

“Of course,” Niku said proudly. He didn’t want the youngster to know that he couldn’t read and had no idea what it was for.

The youngster brayed. “The mares are gonna love it!”

Niku swished his tail and said, “It’s my ticket out of the bachelor herd. It’ll win me my first female.”

“Good luck!” Erevu called as Niku trotted between the gathered harems.

A mare would notice him any minute. Then he would lead her off to make his own harem. His accessory shifted on his shoulders and he thought about the scroll. It must have magic about rain. That would be very valuable here on the Serengeti. Whoever lost it must be very disappointed.

Niku stretched his neck and shook his head, making his mane vibrate. One of the mares, Sekelaga, looked up. Here we go, Niku thought.

She walked two feet away from him and lowered her head to graze, but kept her eyes on him. Was she teasing him? No, she just didn’t know the importance of his scroll. Should he tell her? He saw Jelani on the other side of the herd. Jelani didn’t see him. He might be able to…

Jelani brayed loudly and the startled Sekelaga ran from Niku. He shook his head. It wouldn’t hurt Jelani to let one of his daughters go. He already had a large harem to match his large size. Jelani trotted over to Niku.

“I don’t want to fight,” Niku said. He disliked biting and kicking. It was so… wild.

“Came to see what the weird growth on your shoulders was,” Jelani said.

“My accessory. I’m carrying a very important scroll.”

“Oh yeah? Let’s see,” Jelani said, pulling out the scroll with his teeth.

“Hey—” Niku said,

“Shut it,” Jelani said, barring his teeth, a clear threat to bite.

Niku deflated as Jelani dropped the scroll on the ground and spread it open with his hooves.

“Appears to be a map,” Jelani said.

Niku was surprised that Jelani could read. There was no justice in the Serengeti.

“It shows this watering hole, and another really big one far from here.”

Niku sidled closer to look. Jelani kicked at Niku. Niku was quick on his feet, and Jelani missed.

“I could take my harem there. Or, roll me in the dust and call me dirty, I could take the whole herd!”

Niku pawed at the turf. Of course, powerful, charismatic Jelani would come up with that idea. Niku could have too! If he had looked at the scroll. Why hadn’t he looked at the scroll when he’d found it? He was an idiot! His head drooped and nearly touched the ground.

Sekelaga was watching him and Jelani wasn’t.

“You like my accessory?” Niku said to her, his head snapping up and his mane standing straight.

“It’s weird,” she said.

“It’s for carrying scrolls. If you come with me to the watering hole, I can show you.”

“I’d like that,” Sekelaga said looking at Niku’s swishing tail.

Niku stifled a whinny and high-stepped to the watering hole with her. Best day ever!

I wrote this based on the prompt:

The story must have a zebra in it. The story must have a scroll appear in the middle. A character is contemplative throughout most of the story. During the story, a character loses something.

Since the zebra I envisioned lives on the Serengeti, I looked up Tanzanian names for my characters. The names have the meanings:

  • Nikusubila – optimistic
  • Jelani – great & powerful
  • Erevu – clever
  • Sekelaga – rejoice

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