Manu woke with a start. He wasn’t sure what
had disturbed him but he instinctively knew that something was very wrong.
He listened but everything in the forest was quiet. Still, he sensed
danger was close by. He climbed a tree to gain a better view of his
surroundings and then he saw it coming ever closer. The air was
filled with the shrieks of terrified birds and small animals. The
jungle was on fire.
He quickly descended the tree and focussed on his
best route of escape from the flames. He knew that flight was
impractical but even so he soon heard the thunder of hooves as the larger
animals raced, panic-stricken in an effort to outrun the monster.
The crackling sound of the blazing undergrowth,
combined with the boom of falling of trees intensified; it was getting
closer. Manu knew his only hope of survival was to reach the stream
but that meant running towards the ever engulfing fire. He had no
alternative so he ran passing the fleeing animals heading in the opposite
direction. As he sped on he reflected on the irony of species that
would normally run in fear of each other racing together unified by the
joint objective of survival. He could see blazing treetops above him
and felt the heat of the ground on his bare feet as he avoided the
cascading trees falling around him and setting light to the shrub land
Finally he reached the stream and threw himself into
the water. Blazing debris floated in the usually cool water now
sizzling his already blistering body. He had to keep moving but in
which direction? Rationale dictated that he should move away from
the fire but years of living in the jungle had taught him that the obvious
solution was not always the best. The stream must eventually flow
into a larger body of water and the direction of the current indicated
that his salvation lay towards, rather than away from the fire.
He struggled on, occasionally lying flat in the
stream although this provided little relief to his scorched limbs.
Eventually Manu realised that the surrounding plants and trees were burned
but no longer aflame. He slowed his pace as the stream widened
confident that he had chosen the best route. On arrival at the swamp
he observed a variety of jungle animals had managed to reach the same
destination. Now a different problem presented itself. Having
survived the inferno behind him, he was faced with a group of animals who,
having reached safety, were no longer in a co-operative frame of mind.
They circled each other menacingly and regarded Manu keenly as a source of