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Life and Death

Running Fish’s legs burned. Bees are dangerously fast, especially when riled, and especially this many. Evanescent rays from the setting sun illuminated the trail back to the village, a path worn through the vast plains by pounding feet evading the same colony of bees that Running Fish’s now were. He had almost made it home when he felt the first prick on his leg.

“Fantastic!” he muttered to himself as he pushed his legs harder. However, as more and more bees stung his legs, he knew he could go no further. Thankfully, Mighty Ant, Running Fish’s older brother, had come looking for him.

“You look like you need a little help right now,” Mighty Ant grinned, brandishing a smoking log.

“I would not be averse to a little help,” Running Fish replied. Mighty Ant rushed forward and then waved the smoking branch at the frenzied bees. Upon smelling smoke, the bees retreated a stone’s throw away, still buzzing furiously. Mighty Ant and Running Fish wasted no time in fleeing to the safety of the village medicine tipi.

“It looks to me like you’ve got a few bee stings,” Walking Horse, the medicine man, observed. Indeed, Running Fish’s legs were peppered with the fiery bites. Walking Horse retrieved his bee sting ointment from the medicine cabinet, popped open the lid, and began to rub the ointment onto Running Fish’s legs.

“This might sting a little,” warned Walking Horse. Running Fish grimaced in pain, then looked in horror as the swollen red bumps gradually turned purple. He let out a weak cry. Interpreting this as encouragement, Walking Horse continued to dollop the cream onto the purpling bumps.

“I can’t feel my legs,” Running Fish whimpered pathetically.

“That means the medication is working,” Walking Horse squealed with delight. “And they are such a pretty shade of purple.”

“Yes, pretty,” Running Fish murmured, his breathing labored. At that moment Mighty Ant burst into the small hut. His eyes found Running Fish’s legs.

“Dear God! You appear to not be in the best health, Running Fish!” Mighty Ant shrieked.

“I am not. But it was lucky that we got to Walking Horse when we did, or this might have happened on the trail,” Running Fish wheezed. His whole body was now a deep shade of purple, and within a minute, he drew his last breath, saying, “Thank you, Walking Horse, for cutting my life short. My death would have been too long a wait.”





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