Herd Instincts

“Lulu, you’ve abandoned your guard post again.”

“I’m sorry, Nganga Abada. I just had to get away from the herd for a while.”

“Why, child? The herd needs you, it needs all of us.”

“I just feel trapped in this clumsy body. I’ve been keeping a secret from everyone, Nganga, my whole life. All I’ve ever wanted to do is dance. Can you imagine anything more alien for a rhino? I’m so ashamed.”

“Very well, stand still until I call.”

The massive old cow backed up and charged, muttering mystic words. With a thud, she buried her horn in Lulu’s armor just behind the shoulder.

Abada pulled with her horn, ripping away massive pieces of the younger cow’s armored hide. The pile of discarded plates grew throughout the morning, until nothing but leathery grey armor remained in a heap.

“Your disloyalty was the chink in your armor, Lulu. Therefore, I’ve banished you to a smaller and more agile form. Come forth.”

A brownish oxpecker bird hopped out of the armor pile and flapped its wings experimentally.

“In this form you still serve. Now, resume your guard duties from my back. I have an itch. Peck out the bugs, if you would.

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201 words, for this week’s Sunday Photo Fiction prompt: