It is a moment that happens sometimes in the bush. One like a breath held, suspending everything. Just at that moment the gum trees can be heard shedding their year-old bark to reveal a gleaming nakedness. Not all at once. Oh no. Shred by shred, teasing. Beating their own rhythm as the unwanted cladding finds a path to the undergrowth.
You see and hear it all as you stand, hooked to the ground by the awesomeness of the creature before you. You are mesmerised, unable to look in any direction, fearing there might be a herd of them.
For an excruciatingly long second you look deeply into its eyes and sense its alertness. It stares back at you. Immobile. It is short and is slender, with four limbs only. You cannot summon the words to describe its bark, for it seems to be something borrowed, not of the creature itself. It occurs to you the thing may be dangerous. You did not actually observe its approach to see how it moved. Would it shift fast and strike hard, or be slow and poisonous? Even as you consider this, the vile thing blinks and lets out a bellow that whips the stilled air, shattering the tenuous shell of the moment. It turns and strides away on two of its limbs.
Once again you drink in the scintillating air. All around you is the whispering of the gum trees stripping. There is moisture about, sharpening the scent of eucalyptus and plant litter. Green. Bittersweet. A light breeze refreshes and makes you reach ever-higher with your own limbs. Then - exactly then - caught with your arms out-stretched to their fullest, the creature returns, bringing another of the same kind. In no hurry, they approach you. Again you have an inner urge, wishing you could cower or, better still, flee.
The two of them circle you, eyeing your anatomy. Before you can draw breath, one of the beasts grabs you. You shriek, but it appears not to hear. Then your own voice seems to dry up. You realise in that awful split-second that the presence of these two creatures makes the entire bush silent.
They are chittering away in their own language; they wouldn't hear you no matter how loud your voice. They are not listening. Incapable of hearing the gentle sound of undressing trees.
The wind you welcomed before now makes you shudder. The touch of their pallid flesh makes you squirm. One of them thumps you - it is barely felt, but the intention behind it scares you. Both the creatures now bare their teeth as they make a raucous sound, their mouths wide and frightening. Yet somehow you know it is not their mouths of which you should be scared; one of them picks up something and tugs at it. The previously quiet and still thing roars unbearably.
It too has teeth, not hidden but spinning now. The first creature places this thing against your skin. You feel its vibration. Tugging. Gouging.
When it reaches your inner flesh, your own screaming prevents you from any more hearing the other trees..