The Far Side of Extinction
by K.C. Norton
Mosegi Steyn was tired of the Moa.
"It is all they come to see," he complained. "And why? Every museum has its Moa. They aren't
The Moa itself was rather shabby, going bald in places; its lush chocolate-colored feathers were
knotted and ratty. It had been stuffed quite haphazardly, as if the taxidermist responsible for the
display had never seen a live specimen and resorted to guessing at the thing's shape based solely
on the skull and the dimensions of the tanned flesh. The result was a bird lumpy in places,
concave in others. Its glass eyes bulged. Even the fake beak, polished to a hardwood gleam, was
succumbing to a combination of termites and rot.
"We can't throw it out," said Tale. She rubbed her hands across her face; she wasn't sleeping
well, and was tired of Pharmacant Steyn's bottomless dissatisfaction. "What do you propose?"
He shook his head, tapped the polished glass of the display case disapprovingly. "We need new
"A new display."
"That is what I said."
Tale nodded sagely, and thought about slapping him hard enough to make his eyes bulge like the
Moa's. "A new display of what, precisely?"
"Something unique. Something impossible. Something that will put Transvaal on the map." He
tapped the glass again.
A list of impossible things scrolled through Tale's mind: cryptids, myths, and local legends. The
gemsbuck, the Cape bull, the ostrich - or a wildebeest, ha! As if anyone old enough to walk the
Bush believed in them.
"Something phenomenal," Steyn was saying; he often spoke as though he were a classroom
thesaurus and seemed to think it made him sound wise.
On any other day, Tale might have let it go. But there was a gleam in the Moa's glass eye that
might have been a reflection of the incandescent bulbs, or might have been a call to action. She
was still looking into that eye when she said, "A dog."
Steyn turned to her. "Pardon, Pharmacant de Kaant?"
"Just a thought." She smiled at the Moa.
"A ridiculous thought. I don't know why you brought it up."
"Because it would be phenomenal," she said.
Pharmacant Steyn shook his head. But she could tell that he was thinking about it.