The Tale of the Bungling Chameleon


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The Creator stood back to admire his work.

The perfect little orb hung in the sky, with all its jewel-azure oceans and towering mountain ranges; with its belts of steaming rainforest and swathes of sand shimmering upwards into the depths of velveteen space.

And most wonderful of all were those humans. They even looked like the Creator. They would sit in their beautiful gardens and talk to him of an evening, when the bold young sun was disappearing behind the mountains. He loved to see them happy, and they kept him company.

But as time wore on, the sun’s rays were not kind to the people. Their skin began to wrinkle, and their bodies refused to do what they once did. Age had shown its face in the garden of Eden, and the Creator set about finding a solution.

He tinkered in his workshop for many long hours, as his new bauble turned again and again, catching the sunlight.

And finally he emerged. He had the solution.

But he needed to get it to them quickly and as one would expect with the Creator, he had a packed schedule and his PA was insistent he should honour each and every engagement.

So the Creator sent for his go-to guy, the most fleet-footed of all his creatures, the Chameleon.

The Chameleon was a really lovely chap: good conversationalist, great sense of humour, all-round nice bloke. The Creator could not suppress an indulgent smile as his small scaly knight stood in his presence, ready to carry out his commands.

“Chameleon, I have an urgent package. It must be carried with all speed to the people, who have great need of it. I should solve all their problems. Do you have time to take it for me?”

The Chameleon bent his very small but supple knees and bowed low. “Creator, I should be honoured,” he said. “You know you can trust me.”

He took the package. And suddenly there was no longer a chameleon in the Creator’s presence, only the remains of an indistinct streak where he had once been, and the chameleon was half way across the Solar System, making for that beak-nosed breathtaking African continent , all golden and green where he knew the people loved to stay.

He paused at the river about an hour’s run from the peoples’ garden.

Being the Creator’s Knight was thirsty work. He stopped to drink at a great river and the water was cool and sweet and he sighed, gazing at this wondrous place and he offered up silent thanks to that Creator of his.

“Hello, Chameleon,” rasped a dry voice.

Ah. It was snake.

As much as Chameleon tried to like Snake he found it hard. There was something grasping about the creature. And no legs. Chameleon shuddered, and then collected himself.

“Hello, Snake,” he smiled cordially.

“What are you carrying in that package?” The reptile’s beady eyes rested covetously on the Chameleon’s parcel.”

“It’s an express package for the humans. Most important. ”

The Snake hated the humans. He was deeply jealous of the attention they got, and with native cunning he hatched a plan. “You never,” he began, in a slightly wounded tone, “come to see us at our humble home, Chameleon. And we have been so looking forward to having you.”

Awkward, thought Chameleon.

“I shall pop over very soon for a dinner, Snake,” he promised reluctantly (for Chameleon is a reptile of his word).

“Why not come now? You have plenty of time before sundown.”

It was Chameleon’s weakness. He was such a nice chap, he found it difficult to say no. Yet in the middle of this crucial errand it seemed to taunt fate.

After an eternity in an instant, the Chameleon accepted.

At the door of Snake’s house his wife came to meet them. “Chameleon!” she hissed seductively. “That is a very large package. What is it?”

And quick as a flash, Snake wrenched it from Chamaeleon’s grasp and tore it open, gleefully proclaiming to his wife:”why, it is a hospitality gift for us, of course!”

Inside were perfect new skins. Flawless.


The Chameleon protested and tried everything but the Snake was stronger. It was the first lesson on this twinkling globe of ours that life is unfair, for the Creator could have redressed the balance, but he did not. To this day, when the snake is looking old and washed out, he gets a new skin, whilst the humans shrivel, year by year.

And Chameleon?

He was mortified. So much so he will never travel fast again, but clings to the branches of trees, hiding from the Creator he reveres, a disgraced knight.

Spare a thought for him, the next time you see him in his self-imposed exile.

And perhaps you might tell him: the Creator would love to give him a hug.

Written in response to Side View’s challenge, Chameleon, which you can find here.


39 thoughts on “The Tale of the Bungling Chameleon

  1. Snakessss. They’ve had it in for humans from the beginning, haven’t they? Poor chameleon. I don’t hold him responsible. He was just an innocent third party.

    1. I know. But stuff hapens, and sometime it’s beyond your control. Clever of the Zulu tribes – who came up with this tale – to find a way of saying it so well.

  2. Fantastic tale, Kate. Artfully told. And now it’s got me thinking that it would be cool if we could shed our skins when they become wrinkled . . . and be all shiny and new again. ๐Ÿ˜€

  3. You had me, Kate. ‘What’s this woman up to this time? I need to find out what’s in the package. Did I miss it back here somewhere? No, I’ll keep going.’

    Well done!

  4. I’m officially impressed, Kate! This is a fabulous tale…and one I won’t forget. Life is yes, unfair. Aging has a way of reminding me this all the time…we gain wisdom at the same rate we lose our youthfulness. And now I know why! Bravo!

  5. I loved this wee tale, Kate! You can spin a tale better than most, you’re just such an incredible writer.. I love popping in here.. your choice of words, your sense of humor, really are appealing. I love how you move from formal language to casual, as when the chameleon said “Awkward” ๐Ÿ˜€

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