"Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the meal we're about to receive and thank you for allowing us, your servants, to survive the flood. We'll try to be good stewards of the earth when you finally allow the water to recede. Amen" The camel smiled, always feeling strangely happy after saying the prayer as he prepared to eat his one meal of the day. He didn't count on the response of the zebra who happened to be standing beside him on this particular day.
The zebra had tried to go along with the camel's prayers of the past several days, to be a "Team Player" so to speak, but now his temper was growing decidedly short. "Look, you double-humped idiot! Why don't you ask God for some help here? This is getting pretty messy, even with Noah, or whatever his name is, and his family coming down here and trying to clean things up! I'm not saying I mind you pooping on the floor, heck, we're all doing that, but you've got to stop spitting that yellow stuff on the floor and all over the rest of us! I'm sick of it, I tell you, sick of it! You know what we need down here? We need a union, that's what we need!"
An elephant, standing nearby, looked at the zebra with thinly disguised contempt, "Moron! Do you really think a union can do anything about this? God has a plan for us and we'd better realize that it's in our best interest to go along. Anyway, what choice do we have? We're animals, for God's sake! Think about all of those humans left behind! Think about our brothers and sisters left behind! We're the lucky ones! We're the ones that were selected to live and to start all over again! Like I said, you're a moron!" He turned away and ignored the zebra, who was now muttering under his breath, certainly not caring to have a confrontation with an elephant.
Still, the complaining spread rapidly through all of the animals and soon the hold was filled with the screaming, complaining sounds of two of every animal on earth, making their feelings known to God and, incidentally, to Noah's family. Noah was up on deck as usual, trying to figure out where they were without the aid of a good global positioning system or even a good sextant. Although he had been a good servant of God, he alone had been selected to survive the flood after all, his nerves were frayed and he'd had just about enough of the animals downstairs. When he heard the latest ruckus coming from the hold he dropped what he was doing (well, actually he wasn't doing anything. What could he be doing?) and screamed, “Enough is enough!”
He threw open the huge oak door, ran down the stairs and shouted in total frustration, "Shut up! Shut up, all of you! I don't want to hear another word from any of you! You are, without a doubt, the most spoiled, pampered and undeserving bunch of animals I ever met and I don't want to hear another word from any of you!"
All of the animals stopped immediately and glanced from one to the other, wondering what his problem was. The zebra started to say "Well, Mr. Noah Sir, we just wanted ...." but Noah screamed, "I told you to shut up!" and the zebra quickly stepped behind the elephant who whispered, "I said you were a moron". One of the lions walked slowly over to Noah and said, "Really old fellow, we're all getting a little ... frayed ... a little edgy ... but you ... you are showing clear signs of a nervous breakdown. We all understand about you being the one God chose to build this..ah....extremely fine ark", he turned to the other animals as he said it and a half-stifled, derisive laugh ran through the assembly, "and we know how it must have been difficult finding all of us and bringing us to the ark. I know, I know, some of us, myself included, were not exactly willing participants and gave you somewhat of a hard time. For my part, I admit I tried to eat you on more than one occasion and for that ... I sincerely apologize. Had I known that I was one of the chosen ones I would not have been so ... so ... let me say ... difficult. Perhaps if you had told me the situation at the time I would have been more ... positive. But now you ... you should go to your room, take a stress pill, and let you sons take care of things for a couple of days. I think it's pretty clear that you need some rest."
At that very moment a strange-looking little white furry creature with a long pointed nose and fat little belly called a "Whutamuck" ran forward and screamed hysterically at the lion, "You think you're so smart! You think you're speaking for the group! Well, Mr. Lion, tell him about Gladys! Go on, tell him what happened to Gladys! Tell him how we whutamucks will be extinct after I'm gone because of you! I can't procreate alone, can I? Tell him how there won't be any more whutamucks on earth because of you!You won't, will you? You won't because of what you did! Go ahead! Tell him! You monster! Tell him!"
The lion looked at the whutamuck and back at Noah. A nervous expression came over his face. He no longer had that look of superiority. He now just looked ... guilty. He tried to bluster his way out of it, "Hey, I was hungry! I just wanted something to eat! What else could I do? There's not enough food on this ship anyway, certainly not enough for us carnivores! I'm a carnivore! I eat meat! What do you expect me to do, eat wheat and barley all day? Gladys just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, that's all. Look, I'm sorry. I was hungry and that's what I do when I get hungry. Hey, sue me! Let's not make a federal case out of this! Okay?"
All of the animals were looking at the lion with shocked, dazed expressions and he wished he could shrink into the floor. A Chimpanzee shouted over the heads of the others, "Hey, lion! Who's next? Who's going to be your next meal? I thought we were all in this together but it looks like some of us are just in it for the food!" The lion looked around at the hostile faces and wished the Lord would find him a quick place to hide. He turned and, with the most innocent look he could muster at that moment, crept away with his belly rubbing the floor. The animals crowded around Noah, looking to him for answers. A giraffe looked down at him and asked, "Well, what are you going to do about this? The Chimp is right. Who's going to be next. Are any of us safe? That is, except maybe the elephants, or the hypos or the crocodiles. The rest of us are all fair game for that ... that carnivore. What are you going to do about it?" One of the hypos shouldered his way belligerently through the crowd and roared, "I don't know about the rest of you but I say we deal with him right now! Say the word, Noah, and we'll take care of this ourselves." He and the others turned threateningly toward the now cowering lion and waited for Noah to speak.
Noah thought about the situation and he prayed quietly before the throng, hoping for answers from the Lord. He finally opened his eyes, climbed onto the second step of the stairs that led up to the deck and spoke with a solemn expression befitting the occasion. "First, I think we've all forgotten why we're here and, second, we've all forgotten that prayer is what got us here. I think that every one of us, with no exceptions, should quietly say our own personal prayer to the Lord, you lion, most of all, and ask him for forgiveness for our sins and for our transgressions. We've all behaved badly today and I wouldn't blame the Lord if he decided that we just aren't worth it. He would be completely within his rights to just send us to the bottom right now and I, for one, wouldn't blame him at all!"
The room grew eerily silent as the animals realized that they were far out of line. They glanced nervously at each other and shook their heads in agreement as Noah gave them a last solemn look , turned, walked slowly up the stairs and closed the huge oak door. Every animal in the room closed their eyes, the lion first among them, and began praying, asking for forgiveness for their faults, for their sins, and for their transgressions. They praised the Lord for allowing them to live through the flood and for giving them the opportunity to serve him in the new world after the flood. The quiet was deafening for several minutes as they all stood looking solemnly back and forth at their neighbors, feeling the Lord's blessings and feeling renewed when, from far back in the crowded room, the incredibly booming but strangely muffled voice of a tiny little mouse, a mouse who unfortunately was standing behind and under the tail of one of the water buffalos, could be heard to shout, "Oh my Lord! Would someone help get me out of this mess...... please!"
Dan Barham © 2006