The Snow Blower

I’ve added one of my older works to my writing blog to keep my readers entertained while I work on AuroraSkye’s suggested topic. Read and enjoy.

https://alphonsuspeck.wordpress.com/2009/01/07/the-snow-blower/

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Earn Us This Day Our Daily Meat

The early morning sunrise cut yellow and orange shards of color across the sky. Stephan shivered as the wind of their momentum carried them through the air, and tried to wrap his leather jacket more tightly about his torso, wishing he had opted for something a little warmer. Temperatures varied wildly sometimes with altitude, and with the clear day Rosa was flying higher than she usually did.

There, to the left. Do you see it?

Stephan looked off to the left after Rosa’s telepathic message, bringing glasses to his eyes to help him see better in the distance.

Yes, replied Stephan. Looks bad from here. Bring us closer please?

Of course.

The great dragon extended its wings, its red scales glinting like fire in the light. It turned and dove at the same time, giving Stephan the familiar feeling in his stomach. He kept his glasses on the scene.

I see one. Not bad. Minor?

No, there are two. The other is below in the trench. I sense human death…suffering.

“Shit,” exclaimed Stephan aloud. The deaths were always the worst part of the job. They gave him nightmares at night.

How long? asked the dragon.

One minute ‘til they contact us. Our timing is perfect on this. It looks like this one is going to cause major problems.

No doubt. I can sense human anger and frustration stretching for at least three miles, and the incident couldn’t have happened more than three minutes ago.

Okay. The contact is almost ready. Just one moment…

A green light appeared on his headgear.

“Thank you, Dave. We just came on the scene of an injury-accident on east bound I-94 near Woodward, and traffic is backing up already at least to Livernois, with gawkers causing a slowdown in the west bound lane. I can see police and EMS on their way to the scene. You might want to look for an alternate route on this one. Also, we have the regular construction slowdown on I-75 at I-696. The morning rush is otherwise quiet, with traffic moving at posted speeds elsewhere. And this is Stephan Hudson on the dragon Rosefire with the WWJ traffic report.”

Stephan sighed and turned off his comm. Something about his job made him feel dirty. Down below was pain and suffering, and here he was, announcing it over the radio so that Joe and Mary Business-person could get to work 10 minutes earlier.

“Is there anything else we can do here?” asked Stephan, voicing his question rather than thinking it, as he often did right after a broadcast.

No, Stephan. Shall we move on? The automobile fumes smell like dragon flatulence here.

“Yeah, go ahead. Back to the regular routine.” Stephan bit back his frustration as the dragon beat her beautiful wings, leaving the traffic far below her.

Two hours later Rosefire glided into the ranch that they called home. Stephan dismounted and removed the saddle, and Rosefire tottered off to her horde beneath the straw roof of her open stable. While the horde was breathtaking from a distance, Stephan knew that it was mostly composed of costume jewelry, polished brass, colored bottles, and other pretty but largely worthless shineys. Even though there might be some decent loot in there, no human would dare to try to steal from it. Very few human laws applied to dragon behavior, and for any human to attempt to steal from a dragon’s horde… Suffice it to say that no one in history has ever successfully gotten away with it for long, and human law very much looked the other way at whatever the dragon chose to do with the transgressor. No humans were stupid enough to make the attempt.

Stephan looked at his dragon. Since he was bonded with it when he was ten, Rosefire had grown from a tiny hatchling to a strong, magnificent beast. The dragon was a fiery red color with streaks of white, and its neck stretched to nearly twice the tall man’s height. In his eyes, Rosefire was one of the most magnificent dragons he had ever seen. Of course, he was somewhat prejudice because of the bonding, but still…

“This job is beneath your dignity, Rosa,” he said, voicing a thought that was simmering in the back of his mind.

The dragon turned to look at him and smiled, in as much as a dragon can smile. You feel so, do you? Dignity is a human thing. I exist and do as I do. Perhaps it is YOUR dignity you speak of?

Stephan shook his head. “No, Rosa. This job is all I’m good for. Look at you though. You should be fighting wars, rescuing damsels…I don’t know. Something! Something better than being a traffic dragon.”

I find it odd how humans are capable of equating fighting wars with ‘dignity’. No dragon will participate in a human war, and we only fight when we must. As for rescuing humans, that is your choice, Stephan. There are always positions for emergency rescue dragons. But I could only get you to the scene. You would have to be the one to do the work. And you are not…fond of the sight of blood.

Stephan cringed. He could not watch Rosefire eat. Dragons liked their food fresh and alive. The ranch had sheep and cattle and pigs for this very purpose. Rosefire ate while Stephan slept out of respect for him. Stephan felt a surge of inadequacy rise up in him. He didn’t deserve a dragon.

“I don’t know, Rosa. We have to come up with something better than this. You are being wasted.”

What did you have in mind, Stephan? I am open to new ideas. I am content with what we do. It earns money and keeps me with plenty of meat. I miss hunting, true, but that is something I can do when we vacation, and that is adequate.

“Then I’m going to have to rise to your potential, Rosa.”

Rosefire nodded. Very well, but it is your potential you must find, Stephan. I am who I am, and feel no desire to be more. I will try to help you think of something though, my friend.

Genetic Engineering R Us

“I can’t believe we’re doing this.”

Roger sighed and made a slight adjustment on the instrument he was working on. “And I can’t believe how many times you can repeat the same damned statement of disbelief. Just shut up and get the job done, Bill.”

“This is ground-breaking fucking work, you know that, Rog?” replied Bill, ignoring Roger’s previous statement, angrily shoving a print-out to the floor and consulting another one. “This is work worthy of Nobel prizes. But will we get prizes? No! Why? Because the assignment is fucking moronic!”

“We got our prize already with the monkeys,” grumbled Roger. “Any progress with the neural rewiring yet?”

“The monkeys were a cakewalk compared to this. The problem is that the neurons will take so much rewiring that I don’t think the god-damned thing will still be classifiable as a frog any more.”

“Just do the best you can.”

“Look at this fucking thing!” shouted Bill in frustration, shaking a piece of paper in the air in such a way as if he expected Roger to jump from his seat and look at it in interest. Roger did not even glance in his direction. “It’s a fucking frog! It’s eyes are nearly useless for what we need. They can’t see a fucking thing unless it moves!”

Roger groaned.

“Did you know that if you buried a frog up to its ass in dead flies that the damn thing would starve to death? Dead flies don’t move. Frogs like to eat things that move and fly. Fly, Roger! That’s why frogs like flies Roger!”

“I know Bill.”

“But you know what, Roger? Human food is usually dead when they eat it. It doesn’t walk. It doesn’t run. And it most especially doesn’t fly, unless you happen be in a fucking middle school cafeteria.”

“Yes, Bill. Please….”

“And you know what else doesn’t fly, Roger? Pizza doesn’t fly. Therefore, frogs have no interest in pizza. It’s why you don’t see frog infestations at Italian restaurants.”

“I know Bill. But the lady is paying us very well, so we should just do the job and shut up about it. She wants a frog that likes pizza. Forget the eyes. How about smell?”

“Yeah, frogs can smell. They use their sense of smell to find other frogs. Now, if the lady wanted a frog that would MATE with a pizza, that would be a lot easier. But sex is different than food…”

“Truly words of wisdom, Bill. Can you cross wire…”

“…Yes I can try to cross wire, but figuring out what the hell will come out when we engineer the gene is hard to predict. If we’re not careful we might get a frog that tries to eat other frogs and wants to mate with flies.”

“Look, just make it happen. We promise to genetically engineer any pet that the patron is willing to pay for. We got the flying monkeys, and we won a Nobel prize. We’re getting paid to make a frog that likes pizza. It’s possible, we’re going to do it. This is our job. Now quit bitching and just fucking make it happen!”

Bill grumbled, but said nothing in response. Roger closed his eyes at the sudden blissful silence.

Blissful, but, alas, short-lived.

“And did this lady wonder for even a second about just how the fuck the frog is supposed to eat the fucking pizza? That tongue ain’t going to accomplish shit unless we cut the pizza into crumbs. We sure as hell can’t get those damned legs to hold a slice. Frogs don’t have opposible thumbs…did you know that? And then there’s the fact that frogs can neither bite nor chew their fucking food. Their teeth would come in very handy though if the damned pizza tries to get away.”

“We’ll just explain to the woman that the pizza will have to be pre-cut.”

“Also explain to her that pizza would best be petrified, ’cause I don’t know how else the damned tongue is going to pull one of those greasy things into his mouth.”

Roger slammed his hands on the keyboard. The table rattled, and several petri dishes almost bounced onto the floor.

“Okay Bill. Your call. We can tell the lady it can’t be done, and turn down one of the most lucrative contracts we’ve ever been offered in addition to spoiling our near perfect reputation. Or we can try to give her the best damned pizza loving frog that we can engineer. Either pick one or the other, but either way, stop whining about it! Please.”

Bill looked thoughtfully at Roger, a rather blank look on his face. He stared almost a full minute before he responded.

“Okay, we’ll make the damned frog.”

“Thank you. Good.”

Bill grimaced and went quietly back to his work. They worked silently side by side for a long time.

“Those monkeys were something else, weren’t they?” said Bill, interrupting the silence.

“Yeah, they sure were. Too bad they’re banned almost everywhere because they like to dive bomb people and throw monkey poo on them.”

“Yeah, well, what do you expect from a flying monkey?”

“Yeah. You get what you pay for.”