The Kia ora coo-ee : the magazine for the ANZACS in the Middle East, 1918
An Evolution Stunt
An Evolution Stunt.
The Turks had attempted a raid on one of our advanced outposts, with the object, presumably, of taking back prisoners for identification purposes; but Billjim was wide awake, thank you, and "Jacko," with the exception of his stretcher-bearers, returned empty-handed.
Their "Heads" were chagrined at the failure, the Hun portion being particularly caustic (so a Turkish deserter informed us). One budding aspirant for an Iron Cross loudly voiced the opinion that, with a little strategy, the post could be secured without firing a shot—he got the job. Choosing his party from among the goose-steppers, and selecting a number with vocal pretensions, he outlined his plan to them. The approach to their objective, he explained, was through thick undergrowth which was the haunt of many wild pigs. It was his intention to camouflage their advance by impersonating those beasts. Corporal Shultz (baritone) would represent a prolific "ma" grunter, the others (who came within the tenor range), her offspring; the star grunt being reserved, of course, for himself. The period between then and the "grunt-off" was to be employed in perfecting the "hymn".
The following night, about two hours after the thin crescent moon had disappeared, an alert Billjim, when peering into the shrub ahead, heard a slight crunching. After a pause, a very respectable "Grunt! Grunt!" assailed his ear, followed by a less resonant one and quite a number of immature attempts. "Pigs!", thought Bill, as he relaxed his tenseness. He hated pigs.
In thought, from hog to Hun was, metaphorically, but a step. Bill was debating with himself whether Huns turned to hogs or vice versa when a guttural grunt, startingly near, and answered from either flank, put a stop to his speculations. Looking hard, he located the three groups by the shrubs' movement, and his ire rose. Reaching down to the bomb-box, he drew out three and, placing them in front of him, quickly and dexterously withdrew the pins. Whipping up the first, he tossed it over to the left group, the second to the right, and the remaining one just out in front. "Crash! Bang Crash!"
When the flash of the last explosion lit up the scene, Bill stood with dilated eyes, rooted to the spot, for there, magnified by, and silhouetted against the light, half crouched, half reared a fearsome form, already in the process of evolution. Bill saw the upcurved tusks change to a bristling moustache, while hoofs from cloven turned to webbed, then clawing digits as they beat the air. Two beady eyes grew large and luminous and reflected the terror of a lost soul from their sockets. As the rapidly fading illumination dissolved into blackness, there issued from the thing a blood-curdling, hybrid scream, which almost froze the marrow in Bill's bones.
Measured by time, the affair was an eternity to Bill; in reality it was only a matter of seconds; but the rudely-awakened reliefs were already at their posts and emptying their magazines into the shrubbery. The Sergeant crept round to Bill's possie to enquire the reason for the rumpus.
Bill could only point out in front and whisper, "The Thing! The Thing!" Even when daylight broke and revealed the remains of, the blonde-moustached leader and his party, Bill could not be dissuaded from the belief that he had witnessed the evolution of a Hun.