Far to the south, beyond the great river, there was a small village, where a boy lived with his uncle. The uncle was known far and wide as “The Brave One,” for he was a mighty hunter, but the boy was called “Miobi,” which meant, basically – “Scaredy-Cat” because he did not like to hunt, and was scared of the hungry lions that lived outside the village.
Every day he had to go down to the river to fetch water, and to get there he had to cross through some of the scariest jungle around – a place full of snakes and leopards and giant spiders. And every time he went into the forest he was so scared that he could barely breathe.
One day, just as he was crossing the very scariest part of the forest, he heard a voice crying out for help. He wanted to run away, but the voice sounded so frightened that he summoned up every bit of courage and ran to see if he could help.
He found a small rabbit caught by the leg in a tangle of creepers. Very carefully he freed the rabbit, who was very grateful. The rabbit said, “I was so very frightened, but now you have come and rescued me. You must be very brave to come alone into the forest.”
“I am not at all brave. I am called Miobi, the Frightened One – but when I heard how frightened you were I just had to help. I know I am too weak and scared to protect you, but if you want, I will carry you home and make sure you are safe.”
“That will not be necessary young man – I live up there, in the Moon, so you can’t come with me. But I want to give you something to show you how grateful I am. What do you want more than anything in the whole world?”
“Courage. I want to be brave, like my Uncle!”
“I can’t give you courage, but I can tell you where to find it. The road is long, and you will have to walk it alone – but whenever you are scared and want to turn back just look up at the Moon and remember that I am your friend and will always watch over you.”
Miobi followed the road the Rabbit showed him and after many days he came to a village where everyone was crying and hiding under their beds. “What is wrong?” Miobi asked the first person he met, “Why are you all hiding?”
“Wouldn’t you be hiding if you were about to be eaten by a Monster?”
“Yes, a Monster. It has the head of a crocodile, the body of a hippopotamus and the tail of a giant snake. It breathes fire from its jaws and will soon destroy us all! See, it lives up there in a cave on top of the dark mountain.”
Miobi gulped. He was terrified, but he saw that the road the Moon Rabbit showed him went right up to the very top of the mountain where the Monster lived. Miobi looked up at the Moon, and knew what he must do. “I will go challenge the Monster,” Miobi said quietly, almost trembling with fear.
And so he set off up the mountain on shaking legs, sure he was about to be eaten, burned, torn apart or maybe all of the above.
Climbing the mountain took a long time, but soon he could see the Monster in the distance. It was even bigger than he had feared – it was very big – even for a Monster – and it really did breathe fire –burning everything in sight.
Miobi kept climbing, but then the Monster roared a terrible roar and Miobi was so scared that he ran right back down the trail as quick as he could. Now the Monster seemed even bigger than before.
“This is curious indeed” thought Miobi. “The farther I run from the Monster, the bigger it seems, and the closer I get the smaller it seems. I wonder what will happen if I get very close? And so the boy closed his eyes and started running as fast as he could up the trail so that he wouldn’t have time to start being frightened again.
When he finally opened his eyes Miobi couldn’t see anything scary. The Monster was nowhere to be seen. Then he felt something hot on his foot. He looked down and there was a little tiny monster blowing a tiny flame out of his tiny mouth. The fire wasn’t very hot at all. Crocodile head? Check. Hippo body? Check. Snake tail? Check. It really was the Monster – but it was so small and cute! Without a thought Miobi picked it up and scratched its back, and the Monster made a funny sound halfway between a purr and the simmer of a cooking pot.
“Poor little Monster! You must be so lonely in this big old cave all by yourself. Come with me, I will be your friend.”
Miobi put the Monster right on his shoulder and walked back down to the village with his new friend. He wasn’t afraid any more. All the people of the village were amazed, and crowded around to see the Monster. It woke up, yawned a small puff of smoke and began to purr.
A little girl asked, “What is its name?”
The Monster cleared his throat and answered her question himself. It stopped purring, looked round to make sure everyone was listening and said:
“I have many names, but most people call me, ‘What-Might-Happen.”
Everyone thought that was a very silly name for a Monster. But Miobi, who was on the path to wisdom, understood, and laughed at how foolish he had been.