Gorokian midwife toad

Octavio Briswald’s field notes

July 28, 2112

As naturalists, a primary prepossession at all times must be maintaining the emotional distance that scientific rigor requires. Personification is the enemy of perception; a sentimental and easy acceptance of the outwardly monogamous habits of the Sandavy butter swan, for example, could prevent a scientist from probing deeper into that avian’s true romantic life, with all the sordid and degenerate deportments it entails.

But even my most rigorously cultivated scientific reserve faltered when confronted with the reality of the Gorokian midwife toad! After a moderately disastrous morning trek (Fitzmurdle thrice had the misfortune of being subsumed in neck-deep mud sinkholes), we came upon that most wretched of amphibians, lasciviously climbing his way up the side of a Gorokian mudswupper nest.

The toad, true to his twisted name, had correctly recognized that the nest’s full quota of eggs were all on the very brink of hatching. Choking back our feelings of disgust and repulsion, we watched as the creature inserted the gnarled hook of his nasal appendage into the first egg, breaking open the fragile seal with a crackling pop. The tender peeps from the baby bird inside the egg seemed to fill him with a lecherous glee; he paused in his activities, body quivering, eyes rolled back and mouth a grimace of anticipatory rapture.

Then, all at once, he swung his nose back down and ripped the egg asunder, snapping the baby mudswupper in two and stuffing the bird’s stillborn flesh down his gullet with his two sticky thumbs.

Though it was important to see this toad at his renowned but loathsome task, I could not bear to see the process repeated. With a small, targeted laser blast I shuffled him off this mortal coil, and foiled Nature’s plan by using his once-lethal nasal protuberance to help the remaining mudswuppers escape their shells.

Leonard Fitzmurdle’s personal log

July 28, 2112

What luck to catch the fellow in his predatory mode! Very satisfying day all around. Although the midwife toad is not what anyone would describe as beautiful, ours proved an exceptionally enjoyable subject for illustration. At one point he even paused, as if posing, with nose horn in perfect profile. I found myself lost in reverie while shading in his bulging sides, a mental state of total calm that reminds me why I got into the business in the first place. It is a lesson I would do well to remember, as it will cheer me on when leading future expeditions through treacherous mud swamps.

I have kept his nose horn as a totem.

 

 


Other mentions: Q threatened Quinn with the prospect of spending eternity existing as one of these (VOY).

VOYSpace OttersamphibiaComment