Sheldon paddled nonchalantly, maintaining his favoured position in the middle of the pool. He watched the other ducks near the bank scrabbling for bread with disdain – his mother had always told him he had superior intelligence.
He missed his mother. The others intimated that she’d ‘gone visiting’ but he knew better. He’d seen the swarthy immigrant-types hanging around the river after dark. He’d seen them with their lines, nets and traps and seen their fires cooking rabbits, swans and the like.
Late that night, when all his fellows were slumbering, Sheldon paddled downstream to the migrants’ ramshackle camp. All was silent, no one astir. A small fire burned and, fearful but determined, he climbed the bank cautiously. He saw animal bones by the fire and dark blanket-shrouded mounds, emitting snoring sounds. A metal drum stood nearby and with an almighty effort, he managed to topple it onto the flames. Thankfully the snoring continued and silently he made his way back upstream to the pool.
“Sheldon, where’ve you been at this time?” It was mother!
“You’re back! Oh, I couldn’t sleep.”
In the distance, they heard the dull thud of an explosion.
“Don’t worry, mother, probably just fireworks!”
Featured in the book, To Cut a Short Story Short: 111 Little Stories
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