Ulterior Motive

The Magnificent Seven

Something had to be done. The eucalyptus wood was in danger. Alone, we koalas couldn’t do it. Clinging to trees, sleeping, chewing eucalyptus leaves was all we knew. How could we stop the horrible humans, with their noisy machinery, from flattening our home?

One moon lit night we had a meeting beneath the big tree.

“We have to do something,” said One Ear. He was called that because a giant rat had nibbled away part of his right ear.

“Things are getting worse,” said Cuddles, a rather curvaceous, good-looking female.

Everybody agreed that we would have to do something.

“Those humans called politicians might help,” said Big Bertha, a fat koala with a chunk of fur missing from her bottom.

Politicians? We all laughed at that. Bertha blushed and started eating a huge green leaf she had found on the ground. But nobody knew what to do. We all moaned and groaned, snoozed and ate for a while until I suggested getting help.

“Help? Who from?” said Old Grumpy the Wise, getting grumpier and less wise.

“Well, what, what about the…the drop bears,” I said.

At the very mention of drop bears the koalas froze. Nobody was eating leaves or dozing anymore.

“The…the drop bears!” stammered Big Bertha.

“You mean…THE drop bears?” said Old Grumpy the Wise, now resembling Old Grumpy the Timid.

“Yes, THE drop bears,” I said.

“Are you mad! They are the most despicable, disgusting creatures in the woodlands!” said Cuddles.

Everyone knew that Cuddles had had a raging affair with Black Jack, king of the drop bears, and that it had all ended badly after he had eaten all her stash of eucalyptus leaves and crawled out on her for a cute possum.

“But they are tougher than us. And they have a fearsome reputation,” I said.

Old Grumpy the Wise, Cuddles, One Ear and Big Bertha convened into a huddle. I could hear snatches of conversation. Sharp-claws, back-stabbing, possums, and pre-nuptial agreements were the words said.

Finally, the huddle dissolved and Old Grumpy the Wise slouched forward.

“All right,” said Old Grumpy, “if you can pursued them to help we’ll go along with it. Anything to save the wood.”

Next day I made my way to the deep wood, the home of the drop bear. Before long drop bear guards had captured me and I was shuttled off to Black Jack’s camp deep in the swamp lands.

Black Jack was a fearsome drop bear. He had big claws and big front teeth, but other than that he appeared quite friendly. He wanted to know how Cuddles was and that he was sorry for running off with Petra the Possum. After a pause, I told him about the humans and their plan to flatten the eucalyptus wood. Black Jack nodded as though he had wise thoughts, but I knew he was a bit thick.

“What’s in it for me and my men, then?” he said. His voice was a squeakier than I had imagined, but he was still scary looking, scary enough to set my ears twitching wildly.

Stumped for words, I realised I hadn’t planned this well. Then inspiration took over.

“Cuddles wants you back,” I blurted, “she’s madly in love with you and misses you terribly.”

The lies were enough to garner Black Jack’s attention. His black eyes widened, and I could swear there was a tear or two there. But the mention of Cuddles had done the trick. Black Jack promised to bring six of his best fighting drop bears and himself to do battle with the humans.

Old Grumpy the Wise was ecstatic when I returned and told him, little realising the ulterior motive for Black Jack was not the saving of the wood, but Cuddles future, non-existent affections.

The big day came. Seven magnificent drop bears were in position in the trees as the humans, with their clunky bulldozers, moved in to flatten our home. On a signal from Black Jack the drop bears dropped, claws extended as they landed on the backs of the drivers. Panic! Huddled in a big eucalyptus tree, we cheered as the humans scattered and ran.

That night we celebrated under the big tree. I hoped that Black Jack and Cuddles were kissing, framed by the moon. But it was an imaginary thought. In reality, Cuddles had stormed off and Black Jack was looking for me, claws freshly sharpened.

Terrified. I climbed on to an abandoned bulldozer and drove off into the night.


  1. Carol Libke says:

    June 11th, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Good story Ken … drop bears immediately gripping my interest. It flowed well and the flaws and quirks of the characters were very well defined and easy to separate as the tale unfolded. You have a great gift for dialogue that drives the story. Well done.

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