100-Word Fiction: ‘Vipera Berus’

There is a way to construct a speech – to put words together, to make people smile or clap or think you’ve said something new or important. You get taught it at management seminars. You just use the same words everyone uses. Swap them around a bit. Don’t worry. Look confident. Don’t take risks. It’s smoke and mirrors. The truth is a fuzzy outline, bent out of shape. Left becomes right.

Geoff Oborne laughed as he switched channels from the news to a nature programme on the courting rituals of Vipera berus, the common European viper. Now there was a creature!