African Moon (Furious Fiction Short Story)


  • 500 words maximum
  • Your story must include someone/something being caught.
  • Your story must include the following words (plurals allowed): OBJECT, WOUND, BAND, ELABORATE.
  • Your story’s final two words must be THE MOON (can be part of a larger sentence).

by Russell McGilton

The moon is almost out and Kibale is now a pale monochrome of its former self. Gone are the bustle and colour of the street markets, hawkers and curio shops full of drums, spears and colourful kangas. Gone too are the noisy bodas-bodas taxis and armies of matatus, their ticket jockeys no longer shouting destinations and drumming the doors with their heavy, flat hands. 

But as the moon waxes full, life erupts. Shacks break upwards into loud hotels, palm trees twist into ornate churches, women in long skirts cross the dusty road to avoid the leer of cowboys stumbling into saloons of drunken card games and brawls. 

Our backpacks are gone and Rick and I now stand, spurs rattling, guns drawn. 

‘There’s only one Cool Hand Luke big enough for this town!’

We fire, snap-rolling, crying out at our wounds. I leap out from behind a gyrating baobab and find myself firing at a spitting python. Or rather pythons. I gasp as their safety catches are clipped off.


I am dragged out and I see a band of giant dung beetles rolling Rick over and over down the road.

‘Mzungu! Where is the gun?’ my captor growls, his rhino horn nearly taking out my eye. His big hooves burst into bony spiders and crawl all over me for the object in question.

‘I don’t have a gun.’ I show them my hand – it is now a bunch of ladyfinger bananas.

‘He is drunk,’ Rhino grunts to his friend, a handsome giraffe busy adjusting his top hat.

‘Please, sit down and put your hands on your head,’ says Giraffe 

I do.

‘What are you doing?’ stomps Rhino. ‘Stand up.’

I do. 

‘What are you doing?’ says Giraffe, annoyed. ‘Sit down.’

I do.

This goes on for some time: me standing up, sitting down, hands on head until I say that this is just like Simon Says.

‘Who is Simon?’ Rhino snorts.

I elaborate but this causes steam to shoot out of his ears. ‘YOU STUPID MZUNGU! YOU – ’ 

Giraffe says something which makes him stop.

‘Listen,’  Giraffe bends his long neck so his head is next to mine. ‘It is very dangerous for you to be running around like this. Look.’

With a flick of his long blue tongue, he sends me skyward past the tree canopy and I see a grand obelisk sparkling proudly in the moonlight.

‘We could’ve killed you,’ Giraffe says as I slide down his neck, my spurs making him wince. ‘We have been guarding the Jewell of Africa for eternity. Now, you have seen it, you must go.’ 

Free of the dung beetles, Rick and I make off into the night on naked okapis, dodging fireballs of copulating bonobos and exploding civets. The sky is thick with the hail of typewriters, gifts from screaming chimps in their palm-skinned zeppelins, while above, neon manta rays cluster like moths in the pale luminescence, whispering an incantation on the flutter of their wings, ‘emywezi emywezi….the moon…the moon’.