By Margo Wayman
Hamzah was a big plump grub. His body was soft and squishy. He lived under the ground where he could stay moist and out of the hot desert heat. One day as he was moving along under the layer of sand, he saw some tunnels that led to a burrow deep under the ground. It was much bigger than he needed and there were lots of underground tunnels. Hamzah felt happy. There were a lot of things he could do in a big empty burrow with tunnels. He'd never have to go up into the hot sun, except occasionally to find a leaf or two to nibble on, then he'd just take them down to the burrow and eat there. He'd be safe too.
He inched his way deep down through the narrow, but long tunnels, until he reached the burrow. At first, he was a little nervous. What if there was a snake down there, or a big rat? After he reached the burrow, he peeked and saw nothing else was in there. He found a nice soft spot in the dirt, laid down and fell asleep.
The soft, furry gerbil ran across the hot sand, looking for somewhere to hide. An eagle was soaring high above and Haifa did not want to become its midday snack. She came upon a hole that led deep under the ground and ran inside. She found it a maze of tunnels, some going upward, some sideways and others straight down on a sharp diagonal. She ran through some of them, enjoying the safety offered, and it was much cooler. Her only fear was that maybe a snake or even a fox was also using this as its retreat from the heat.
Haifa found herself at the entrance to the large burrow. She stuck her head in and peaked. It was very dark inside and she saw nothing else in there except a fat juicy grub, so she scraped up some dirt with her tiny claws and lay down. She soon fell asleep.
Salma, a tawny colored scorpion, crawled out from under a rock. When she stepped on the sand, it felt nice and warm to her. She ran around, going from rock to rock, looking for a snack. Perhaps a fat mosquito would taste good, or a bluebottle fly. As she scooted across the sand she didn't see the hole leading into the dark tunnels below and fell inside. She slid on her back down deep. When she reached the bottom she stood up. It felt nice and cool in there. Out of curiosity, she made her way to the burrow. She peeked inside to make sure there were no snakes or foxes or large lizards. She saw Hamzah, the grub, sleeping in one of the corners. She spotted Haifa, the furry gerbil, sleeping in another. Feeling safe, and somewhat sleepy, Salma lay down in a pile of soft dirt she'd turned over with her huge front pincers and fell asleep.
Latifah, a long, greenish-brown lizard, stood above ground and yawned. She was bored. There just wasn't that much to do in the desert. There were a few flies buzzing around that she caught with her sticky tongue and she even managed to find a delicious scarab beetle to nibble on. In need of a drink, Latifah scampered across the burning sand in search of water. She came upon the hole to the tunnels and gazed into them. She listened carefully. She didn't want to go in there if there was a snake, or a fox, or a larger lizard, or perhaps even a huge rat. Hearing no sounds she ran in. She knew she'd have fun running around in them, exploring this new place. It was better than being bored up top, on the hot sand. She ran through the tunnels, going up and down, across and back, until she reached the burrow at the bottom. Cautiously she peeked inside. She could see Hamzah sleeping off in a corner. She spotted Haifa, lying on a pile of dirt. Salma lay in another part of the burrow. All three of them were sound asleep in the coolness of the deep hole. Feeling tired after all the exploring, Latifah lay down, not far from Salma, and fell asleep.
A while later, Hamzah woke up, he stretched his chubby, squishy body and yawned. Out of the corner of his eye he noticed something moving off to the side. His eyes focused on the snoozing scorpion. He stayed very still, terrified to move. His eyes glanced around and he spotted the gerbil. It was curled up in a ball, sleeping. He saw the lizard in the darkness. Terror overcame Hamzah. He wasn't alone!
One by one the animals woke up. Each of them stared at the others in awkward silence. Hamzah started screaming. He opened his chubby little mouth and let out a scream that shook the walls. Salma opened her mouth and let out an ear-piercing cry. Latifah followed, though hers was more of a hissing sound. Haifa jumped up in the air. She screeched a squeaky scream. The four of them stood there screaming until they could scream no more. Then they stopped and looked at each other. They were all afraid of each other.
Just then, they could hear a hissing sound coming down one of the tunnels. The four stood in horror as Samir, the snake, came slithering into the burrow. It curled up into a tight coil and looked at the four creatures. Hamzah looked at Salma. Salma turned and looked at Haifa. Haifa looked over at Latifah, who ran towards the closest tunnel and ran as fast as she could, until she reached the hot sand above and scooted into a pile of rocks.
Samir looked at the creatures in the burrow. His tongue slipped in and out of his mouth. Haifa, not waiting another second, jumped up into a tunnel and ran as fast as her little legs could carry her until she reached the hot sand above. She darted across the burning ground until she reached the safety of a cactus. She ran up into the sharp needles and hid. At least she was safe from the snake. Samir looked at Hamzah and Salma. He opened his mouth. Salma used her pincers to pull herself up into the tunnel. She clambered up and up and up until she reached the top. She ran across the sand until she found safety under a rock.
Samir looked at the fat juicy grub and smiled an evil smile. His forked tongue darted in and out of his mouth. He began to slither towards Hamzah. Hamzah, unsure of what to do, inched his way over to the tunnel. He climbed up into it and began to slowly move through it. He inched his way across a long, straight tunnel, then up a steep sloping one. He turned around and saw the snake following him slowly, tormentingly. Hamzah could see the light of the sun ahead. He had to hurry. He inched his way as fast as a grub could move. He finally reached the tunnel and stood there, not sure which way to go. Samir came slithering out of the hole and stood, coiled and fangs showing, ready to pounce on poor little Hamzah. He was just about to strike when an eagle swooped down from a nearby date palm and carried Samir off in his beak.
Hamzah fell down with relief. Soon the others came out of hiding and stood near Hamzah. The four of them went back into the burrow, feeling safe at last and shared the coolness of the burrow and tunnels with each other. There was room for everyone. Well, almost everyone!
Last Updated: June 13th, 2011