Каминяр Дмитрий Генаддьевич: другие произведения.

I. Akimushkin. Armed in the rear.

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   Armed in the rear
   The bombardier beetle is a real gunner. It fires a stinging fluid, which, like a missile from miniature cannon, flies from the rear end of its abdomen and instantly transforms in the air into a small knot of poisonous "smoke" - like exploding shrapnel would. When several such red-blue bombardiers open fire, then the entire scene resembles a field of battle from a bird's point of view. When fighting off a pursuing tiger beetle, the bombardier beetle quickly releases, one after the other, 10--12 chemical missiles. As soon as the last blasts of the mini-cannonade will fall silent, the beetle is no more: it vanished, hid somewhere, covering its rear with bursts of poisonous gas.
   On the battlefield, only the shocked tiger beetle "cleans" its eyes, clearly at loss.
   Some sylvan stinkbugs fight off their enemies as the bombardier beetle does. But they all fall short. Only the American skunk, a fluffy mammal from the mustelid family, has reached equal mastery in firing chemical missiles with the six-legged bombardier. It is so self-assured that it does not fire without warning. Its threatening poise is very amusing. However, it breaks smiles only on those, who did not experience the skunk's weapon on himself or herself.
   The skunk is a cute-looking animal. But do not try to pet it. The evolution has awarded the skunk with a weapon that is as unusual as it is effective: it, turning around, fires a yellow oily liquid that smells as disgusting as nothing else does on Earth! The tight spray flies for four-five meters and hits its goal precisely, though the skunk fires, as the people say, without seeing, because the chemical glands are located under its tail. To fire it must face the target rear-first. Sometimes it is, as the military says, a single shot, and sometimes it is submachine gunfire with half-a-dozen shots that hit the goal in several seconds.
   The main substance in the skunk's chemical weapon - ethyl-thiol. A human senses its (the most disgusting in the world!) smell, even if they inhale 0.000000000002 grams.
   A thiol spray dissolves even fur and leather shoes!
   If it hit the eyes, they immediately go blind, if the throat and lungs, they are immediately struck by hemorrhaging. The wretched target of the skunk attack will be able to see and smell normally only in two days.
   But the smell... the smell is worse than any poison! It is a diabolical mix: it has the "fragrances" of ammonia, and carbon disulfide, and sulphuric acid, and, of course, thiol, and a dirty doghouse. This smell can spread half a mile downwind. And in a closed space, where a skunk had "discharged", "the evil smell" stays for months.
   Anyone, hit by even a drop of skunk's spray does not risk appearing in public for several days, even after a good bath and a change of clothing. So strong is this smell. It cannot be suppressed by anything.
   And the dogs (their sense of smell is so "tender"!), sprayed by a skunk, faint! And even get sick after this: they are poisoned, albeit temporarily, just as after a gas attack.
   Well protected against the wicked foes, the skunk never hurries anywhere. Even if it is pursued by a pack of inexperienced hounds, it does not pick up the speed. As soon as the dogs reach a line beyond which they will be dangerous, the skunk suddenly faces them and gives its first warning signal: stumps its feet. Then it raises the tail, but the tip is still half-bent. The war "flag" is half-lowered.
   The third, and final, signal usually precedes the gas attack - the tail promptly rises into the sky, all ruffled. It means: "Run quickly, I'm firing!" Then comes the quick turn around and the blast.
   The lesser, or the spotted, skunk gives the last signal in a really unusual way: it stands on the front legs - head down, hind legs up - and watches, raising its head, what impact has his acrobatic trick inflicted on the opponent.

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