Rhinoceros Dreams: Stories by Jessica Knauss
Blurb: These three charming stories celebrate and defend some of the world's largest and rarest animals.
"Rhinoceros Dreams" tells how Allie, a woman fascinated with rhinoceroses, finds true love in the human world with a bookworm. Can he ever truly understand her? Can she make her rhinoceros dreams come true? Previously published in This Mutant Life and Jake's Monthly Anthology.
"Not Extinct Yet," available exclusively in this collection, happens in an alternate world in which animals can talk. Intrepid rhinoceros linguist Suzanne takes on the responsibility to save her African rhino friends from extinction by mindless poaching. When you want to know something about a rhino, you should always ask a rhino!
"A Business Venture in Glue" is a weird flash fiction that uses a rhino escaped from a zoo to suggest themes of collectionism and possession. Previously published in Stanley the Whale.
The magic of rhinos lies not in superstitions about their horns, but in their majesty and in all creatures' basic right to live.
“This story is so original and surreal that it’d be a crime not to accept it. This is high-quality, intriguing-premise Magic Realism at its finest.” —Jake Johnson
Find it at
Kindle UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0093TWVY2
Kindle Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0093TWVY2
Excerpt from “Not Extinct Yet”
Suzanne came into the kitchen dressed for work in a sensible suit. With bitten-down fingernails, she had affixed a pin showing the two-horned face of an African rhinoceros, surrounded by a heart, to her lapel. “Hey,” said her husband Derek, rustling his daily news at the table. “The British are at it again.”
Suzanne sighed. “Always with the sheep.”
“Yep. Apparently, there’s a law for debate in Parliament this time.”
“Marriage between human and ovine may soon be a reality! Get this.” He started to read aloud. “An anonymous source recounted his personal experience. ‘Miranda was out in the moor grazing with the rest of the flock when I looked deep into her eyes. It was love. We fell to talking and we’ve never been apart since.’ The Miranda in question gave no comment.”
“Call me traditional, but there’s something not quite right about that,” said Suzanne as she buttered some toast.
“Sure, she can talk, but does this guy let her? No. It’s the same old story. Control, control, control.” Derek crumpled the paper and took his plate to the sink.
Suzanne kissed her husband. “All right, off to the university’s salt mines with you.”
“You know he made up that name. Who ever heard of a sheep who called herself Miranda?”
Ever since the Discovery, the lines between domestic animals and their supposed owners had blurred. In 1999, a team of researchers in Borneo discovered that the parrots there could actually connect thought to their speech, that it wasn’t mere copying. An international community of scientists carried out the same experiment with parrots all over the world and found it to be true among all species. To the delight of the pirate movie industry, most parrots were endowed with a biting wit and loved the camera. It wasn’t long before some of the more serious-minded parrots claimed exploitation, and the pirate movie fad ended, almost exactly on schedule with public taste.
The parrots’ cover was blown, and animal specialists everywhere turned to the back yard, the farm, and the wild to make contact with their favorite objects of study. Over the next decade, more than half the world’s known non-human animal species were found to have some degree of speech capability.
Suzanne had led the rhino discovery team in South Africa. Over the course of months, they tracked several family groups – called “crashes” – of white rhinoceroses, using satellite equipment and a rusty truck. They finally zeroed in on one family group in particular. Every night, they brought the truck a few feet closer to where the family was resting.
On a moonlit night in the middle of 2006, Suzanne followed her heart and stepped out of the truck into a little copse of trees where the family was sheltering. Her boots made scraping sounds on the dirt as she crept ever so slowly toward a beautiful rhino cow who seemed to be standing watch, a little separated from her crash. As Suzanne stepped within a yard’s distance, she hardly dared breathe. The rhino flicked her tail. Suzanne stood still. Her throat like sandpaper, she whispered, “Hello?”
The rhino snorted and tossed her head as if she were shooing flies. The moonlight made her eyes sparkle. Suzanne began to shake.
“Um, the parrots have talked,” she continued. “We humans have found out that most mammals have the power of speech….”
Jessica blogs at jessicaknauss.blogspot.com, where you can find her Twitter and Facebook addresses as well as many more places to see her and her books.