The Chase
Felipe Feldmar
"N ow!" Gate yelled, his teeth flashing under the Florida sun. Croc sprang from a log hidden under a patch of sawgrass. The splash caused a flock of ibis to fly away. A pair of cormorants watched the alligators swim swiftly through the brackish water, moving with flashing speed towards the dike.

The fish saw them coming. His fins glimmered as he swam to his left, moving confidently to the rotting log that had been his haven many times. He swam by an unsuspecting crab. The crab saw the fish disappear, and as the two behemoths approached, he scurried down into his cave.

Gate was stronger. Croc was faster. They had hunted together seldom before; however, scarcity of food made them team up. Gate struggled to keep up. Croc stroked his tail in harmony, while moving like a torpedo.

The fish turned, and saw the eyes bearing down on him. "Come on. Faster. Faster," the fish said, worried he wouldn't get away. His fins and tail had never failed him.

Until that day.

As he neared the log, he felt thunderous pain. His body slowed, even though he swam as hard as ever. He turned, and watched with horror as his tail sank, vanishing in the vegetation. Like a wounded soldier, he struggled to the log. Croc swam over him and grinned.

"Good work Croc!" Gate exclaimed, swimming next to him. The fish made one last effort. He pushed himself from the log, and as he was about to sink into the opening, Croc swung his tail. The impact made the fish fly out of the water.

The alligators watched as it spun and sailed through the air. Their eyes met. They knew whomever got there first would eat.

Gate got a head start. Before he could leave Croc behind, he felt a sharp pain on his tail. He snapped back, his jaws missing Croc's muzzle by an inch. They went for each other.

The fish came down. When it was about to hit the water, a pelican calmly picked it up. They stopped wrestling as the bird flew away.

"Did you see what you did?" grumbled, turning to look at the gates that separated the lake from the swamp.

"What do you mean?" Gate asked, swimming close to Croc.

"Ever since they put the metal separator, fish have become scarcer. Why do you think we are together right now? If it were not for it, you would be sleeping, and I would be looking for gals," Croc said, slowly swimming away.

"You are right. The fish are scarce," Gate replied as they drifted through the Everglades.

First published: May 2000