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The Oliphanti | By Rebecca Harrison

"Don’t feed the future," Dad laughed as he steered into the zoo car park.

"Do they have food from the future here, too?" I pressed my face against the window and peered towards the walls tall as redwoods on stilts.

"Who knows? Maybe you can get a nice grilled oltiphanti steak." He smacked his lips.

"Dad!" He knew they’d been my favourite ever since he’d wrapped a future zoo guidebook up and shoved it under the Christmas tree five years ago. ‘From your old dad,’ the tag had read. Now, we were finally here.

The gates creaked like a giant flexing his knuckles, and waving our purple tickets high, we strode inside.

“Bloody crowded in here. If we get lost – meet at the gift shop.” But I could hardly hear him, and then the crowd had swept me off, my feet all rush and stumble. I didn’t see the twists and turnings, I only smelt excitement and prickly fruits, I only heard gasps of awe and eerie grumblings from behind thickened glass. And then I was standing in front of the oltiphanti cage.

“How long away are your family?” I whispered as its single green eye focused on me. And I felt tears prickling at me. The bars weren’t far apart. I could reach through and touch his striped hide, feel his skin like peach fuzz on ivory. He made a sound like old tyres. And then I was squeezing through into the cage and counting his great teeth.

Rebecca Harrison sneezes like Donald Duck and her best friend is a dog who can count. 

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