A VBS Safari (Flash Fiction)

This story comes from the #pleasantwordschallenge on Instagram! The prompt was to start a story with “The situation has gone from bad to worse.” In full honesty, I’ve never been to VBS before so this story is entirely fictional and isn’t based on a real occurrence – although I do think this sounds pretty plausible and would be a great real story 😜 I hope you enjoy these safari shenanigans!

The situation has gone from bad to worse. What started out as apprehensive, fidgety children has become screaming children.

“Don’t worry!” I shout over shrieks of terror. “Mike isn’t aggressive and he’s not venomous either!”

“What’s vem-ous?” shouts a small boy. 

“It means it can kill us!” a little girl supplies hysterically.

“No! Mike isn’t venomous! He’s a nice snake!” I try to make eye contact with the young woman who is probably really regretting volunteering for Vacation Bible School. I wonder if it was her idea to hire a safari zoo to talk to the children.

“Why don’t we calmly walk to miss Katie and let her take you to get a snack so I can catch Mike, okay?” 

The children stampede Katie, knocking her over just as I spot Mike curled in a ball under a chair. I scurry forward and scoop him up. The thunder of small feet has scared him, but luckily no one has stepped on the little corn snake. 

Bringing him back over to my co-worker, Millie, I place him back into his tank.

“This isn’t one of those snake-handling churches is it?” Millie glares at me as if I’m somehow responsible for any of this. “I didn’t sign up for some weird snake business.”

“Millie, Mike is our snake!” I snap back. “Given how scared the kids are, I doubt snakes are a regular thing here. Even if they were, we were paid to teach them about animals, that’s it.”

Before Millie can respond, a high-pitched voice cries, “Hey, what’s in here?”

We turn to see a boy with spikey hair shaking a small plastic container from our display table. I forget about the snake drama immediately and reach for him. As I do, the lid pops off and Oscar, the tarantula, flops into the boy’s hands.

A heartbeat of silence fills the fellowship hall as several other children attempt to see what the boy is holding. Just as I reach him, it clicks what he’s holding and with an almighty scream, he flings Oscar out of his hands.

If I thought the situation was bad before it’s nothing compared to the bedlam that is currently happening. Oscar makes a graceful flight for a few feet, all of his legs sticking out as he pirouettes right into the punch bowl. Pure adrenaline is fueling me as I lurch forward to save him from the sticky red liquid. 

Scooping him out of the bowl, I turn to face a crowd of shrieking children, anxious adults, and a man who looks to perhaps be the pastor hurrying towards me.

“I think this would be a great time to wrap up,” he says quietly.

“I absolutely agree, sir. I apologize for the…” I gesture helplessly.

To my surprise, he grins. “It’ll be okay. We’ll turn it into a lesson about God keeping us safe even in the most stressful of situations.”

“That’s a great perspective.”

He winks. “This must be your first VBS.”

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