By Nathan Hill | Posted: Monday May 22, 2017
Night was upon the valley. Casting an eerie blue glow through the undergrowth, the full moon watched over the forest.
Trees, gloomy figures clothed in mossy coats and scarfs that strung around their tangled branches, spread their ghostlike shadows on the forest floor. The haunting call of a lone morepork echoed through the forest. Its daunting tone seemed to linger in the leaves, which shivered softly in the wintry breeze. A sea of blue moss carpeted the forest floor. Ferns scattered atop its surface. Their dark stringy foliage appeared to be escaping from the black depths beneath the mossy expanse.
From its home amongst the shadows of the undergrowth climbed a solitary weta. His ancient legs littered with tiny spikes lumbered its skeletal structure higher, higher, ascending the towering fern. The bony frame unnaturally stuttered to the summit. Each awkward step looked like a painful struggle. Every movement of his anatomy appeared to sink the flimsy fern lower yet it somehow stood firm. Atop the peak of the fern, the sharp spurs of his feet clung to the bristly centre of the rows of endless tiny leaves. He stood there, waiting, for the moment to lay prey to an unsuspecting victim. This was his element; he was the king of the darkness, the phantom of the night.
Amongst the constant shrills of the cicadas he heard it. A rustle. A slither between the leaves. The weta’s antenna stood up, twitching in the moonlight. Like a sniper fixed on its target, his eyes became focused on the unsuspecting earthworm. In a flash, the weta pounced. One quick movement and he was upon his victim. Crunch. His powerful mandibles grasped the slippery surface of the worm’s torso. The earthworm thrashed its body in a desperate attempt to escape the sharpened canines. The violent wriggles soon subsided leaving a tube of slimy flesh hanging in the weta’s jaws.
From the top branches of a towering beech came the iconic acoustics of a single bellbird. The weta’s antenna flickered fearfully. Suddenly, the sun’s rays pierced the darkness. Beams of orange light illuminated the forest floor, soaking up his precious darkness. Slowly a chorus of chirps, chuckles and chimes began to flood the forest. Whistles, whines and warbles completed the symphony of sounds. The haunting call of the morepork was long forgotten. The melodic tones of the songbirds, the signal that dawn had broken, now rang out.
Trees, once gloomy figures, were transformed into majestic emerald towers, abundant with leaves. Their tangled branches were now organised and free. The mossy carpet, once dark and blue, was now a lush haven of green. The blackened hues of the night had been swiftly replaced by the rich vibrant colours of the day.
The forest was teeming with life. Curious robins danced through the undergrowth. Parakeets chattered throughout the treetops and brown creepers scaled tree trunks and swung between the moss-laden branches. Day had begun. The animals of the light now ruled the forest. The creatures of the night no longer had control; their haunted world had disappeared amongst the sun’s radiant beams.
The weta, dethroned, slid slowly back into the depths of the shadows.