You whip the surly camel's rump with a certain degree of affection, and urge her on using the sweet words of her own language.

In an act of selfless devotion and care for your wellbeing, your camel pushes on through the scorching sand with her giant, padded feet. The reassuring sloshing sound of her hump, which had accompanied her every step three days ago, has all but disappeared. You know deep in your heart that it's unkind to treat a friend with such disregard, but what can you do? The elders. Right?

And so the two of you press on for two more days without rest, until you meet a circle of energetic youths, apparently fighting against one of the world's obscene intolerances. "What a strange activity to stumble across in the midst of the desert," your camel comments. She was quite right. With hand-painted signs and angry expressions, they were deeply involved in protest. Although you cannot yet tell what exactly they may be protesting against, in reminiscence you decide it must be for a just cause and are eager to join in the fight.

One of the protestors spots you, in the distance and calls out to you. You cannot discern the cry from so far away, so you urge your camel to speed up with the bite of the whip. You reach the activists in little time at all. Expecting a friendly greeting, you are quite surprised by the nearest protestor's reaction to your presence. His spit lands directly in your face. "How dare you!" he yells.

One of the more controlled protestors says, "Oh, that poor camel."

Another cries, "Tyrant!"

You veer your camel around, planning to out strip their violence. But it's too late. One of the larger youths has already grabbed you by your tunic and ripped you from the camel.

They have you on the ground and immediately begin an interrogation. In the meanwhile, two others lead your camel away for water.

"You make me sick."

In much confusion, you ask meekly, "what have I done?"

"Do you care nothing for the rights of animals?"

"What? Ahh. Well, of course I. . ."

"He doesn't care about animals!" came a cry from near the back. There was general agreement throughout the crowd. "Yeah! He doesn't care!"

"How long has she been without water or food!?"

"Well, not very long," you reply.

"She's exhausted," yells one of your camel's caretakers from a distance.

"Not long, eh?" Your interrogator asks, "do you know what we do to people like you? To animal abusers?"

Fear sinks into the pit of your stomach. You attempt a reply: "I. . . uh."

"No? Would you like to?"

Don't you wish you would have treated her with just a little more care in the first place? Maybe you'll know better for the future. But for now you need some quick thinking.

The End

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