Short Story: Day Job

DayJob

I had been a pirate. A king. An admiral. A bard. A mercenary. Even a powerful wizard. And that was just so far today. At the moment I was a dashing Knight rescuing a princess from the clutches of a slobbering rock troll which sought to suck the meat from our bones. I ducked under a fallen tree. Leapt over another. Rounded a rock outcrop. She was right behind me.

The creature moved fast for its size. “You’ve gotta keep up!” Then she fell. They always fall.

I looked back to see the bottom of her high heels disappear into the hulking creature’s mouth as it swallowed her in a single hefty gulp. So much for the rescue. So much for sucking the meat from her bones. After releasing a belch, it looked up and we locked eyes. The monster patted its belly, flashed me a pointy, yellow-toothed grin and waved. I shook my head, threw a hand in the air, and sighed as the satisfied troll turned and marched back into the swamp.

Would it have killed him to be even a little more menacing? He displayed no showmanship whatsoever! And considering the frequency which princesses are kidnapped, I’d think that wearing more practical footwear might increase their life expectancy.

I dropped myself onto a nearby mossy stump. The tepid, scuzzy water around me returned to snowy forest floor. The lurking, oozing, man-eating slimes were once again nut-gathering squirrels. My great broadsword became nothing more than a flimsy tree branch. I threw it on the ground.

Apparently the wind had picked up and the temperature had dropped as the afternoon progressed. I pulled the fur lining up around my neck and ears, blew into my hands and rubbed them together. This time of the year it started to get dark before quitting time and it was often bitter cold.

Thankfully I didn’t have to wait long before I was peering at a rocky floor through an eye-slit in my helmet. It was damp, dark, and thankfully quite warm. My plate armor reflected light from the flickering torches on the wall, and the air was thick with the smell of sulfur. My arms were weighed down by a sword in one hand and a shield the other. Shining armor. Sulfur. Sword and shield. Cave. This sounds like dragons. Yep, definitely dragons. My least favorite creature. I couldn’t wait for my shift to be over.

Marshalling my courage, I peeked around a pile of rubble. Teeth came into focus. Rows and rows of them. Teeth which then became obscured by a puff of thick black smoke that burned my eyes and nose and forced me to cough. I raised the visor on my helmet to get get some air and waved a hand in front of my face to help dissipate the cloud. I looked up and found myself staring into the flaring nostrils of a baby dragon. A teardrop swelled in each eye of its eyes, and its head slumped. Defeated.

“Oh, hey there, little buddy.” I looked around to make sure its parents were nowhere near. My first instinct was to pat it on the shoulder to console it but I reconsidered. Emotionally distraught baby dragons can be unpredictable, and I valued my limbs and digits far too greatly to risk it.

It sobbed. “No, no, no, don’t do that. Let’s try again, I can do better!” It sniffed and looked up. Hopeful. I spun myself back behind the rock. “Let’s take it from the top!” I slammed my helmet visor shut and jumped out from the behind the rock. “Raaawr!” I gave my most terrifying scream as I shook my sword and shield at the creature. It shrank back. Maybe I was overselling it.

Realizing I looked more ridiculous than frightening, it regained its composure. Its nose whistled and its belly and chest swelled as it breathed in deeply. I closed my eyes and reached into my helmet to plug my nose as it blew another cloud of hot smoke into my face. I fell to the ground and rolled and screamed as though I were fully engulfed in flames.

After coming to a rest, I opened one eye and peeked out of my eye-slit to watch the baby dragon strut back into the darkness with its chest puffed out and head held high. Mission accomplished. For both of us. It was quitting time.

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15 Responses to Short Story: Day Job

  1. I certainly like where this is going! But, I want to know more. I’m that weird sort that likes to have things explained to them in the end. That may be intellectual laziness on my part, but that’s just how I am. LOL!

    Looking forward to seeing the next bit!

    • Daniel J. Cassidy says:

      Brian,

      Thank you so much for the reply. Yeah, I am thinking that I might just write a series of flash fiction to add more to it. It was really fun to write! As my first real story, I am proud of it.

      • ROFL! If I had a penny for every time I’ve been called “Brian” in emails or otherwise online I’d… Um… Have a LOT of pennies! ;-)

        Do keep it up! I’d like to see where this goes. I want to understand what’s going on with this character and the world he’s inhabiting. That’s always the mark of a good story!

    • Daniel J. Cassidy says:

      Mr. Luffman, you have my sincerest apologies. Please, feel free to call me Dave from now on.

  2. Bob McCarthy says:

    Truly Blogtastic, Dan, but a troll AND a dragon all in the first chapter? Pace yourself… looking forward to chapter 2!

  3. Daniel J. Cassidy says:

    Thanks, Bob! And yeah, I know – nowhere to go but down from here! But keep in mind, I’ll be looking for someone to do some art. I wonder where I would find a qualified artist? Hrmmmm….

  4. I like the conversational tone and reference to shapeshifting at the beginning. This is fantasy, anything can happen…

  5. This is your “first real story”?

    Well, I’m certainly enjoying them all. I found your blog from the Speculative Fiction Writers group on G+, and if you’re serious about exchanging links, I’d be utterly delighted to do so.

    In fact, I’m just going to add this to both of my blogs right now – so I get updates when you post new stories.

  6. cairnr says:

    I enjoyed and went on to click the thingy. I was kinda hoping for a dragon or troll at that point because thingy clicking can be a treacherous task. No dragon (sigh).

  7. Pingback: Art For Short Story: Day Job

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