Flash Friday 26/10/2012: Milkman Quest
Neil rubbed the underside of his nose as he drove the Roger Milko milk truck down the road. Another morning, another batch of fresh milk to deliver.
At least today’s route was the nicer one. A dirt road that arced around the edge of a huge lake, the morning sun glinting on the water was a sight to behold. No better way to warm the heart at the start of the end of a long working week.
“Come to me, Neil.”
The voice made Neil jump. A strange female voice, with the smoothness and rich qualities of melting butter, drifted into his truck. He looked around, trying to find a source of the voic before realising he was still driving a heavy truck at quite a speed and weaving himself back onto the correct lane.
Probably just his imagination.
“Stop here,” the voice continued. “Exit your vehicle and approach the lake. I shall grant you a blessing should you provide a worthy sacrifice.”
Neil still had no idea where the voice was coming from, but didn’t want to argue with someone who had the power of projecting their voice into a truck. Steering to the side of the road, he climbed out, standing by the lakeside and waiting. Perhaps it was a huge joke? A gigantic prank played on him? If so, he gave whoever set this up the benefit of hooking him in, given the effort that must have gone into it.
The lake near him began to bubble. With an angelic chorus, a woman sitting atop a lily pad rose from the depths, her hair long and blonde with strands of seaweed hanging in small strands. Her dress was white and soft-looking. “Greetings, Neil,” she said, her ice-blue eyes freezing him in place. “I am the Lady of the Lake, and I seek your assistance in a quest. It will require sacrifice on your part, but a blessing from myself will come if you succeed. Do you accept, Sir Neil?”
This was it. This was Neil’s breakthrough. This was how the legends began, with myths and tales portraying powerful and brave knights crossing the lands and defeating evil, or going on a quest of self-discovery and exploration. It was a chance for him to finally break out of his daily grind and become someone influential in the world.
“Well?” The Lady asked.
“Huh? Oh, yes. Sorry.” Neil rubbed the back of his head. “Yes, I accept.”
“Very well. Do you wish to go forth, knowing full well that there will be sacrifice?”
“Yes, my Lady. I shall give anything for you.”
“And you shall hold in your heart the knowledge that a successful quest will reap great blessings?”
“I do. Please, tell me what I must do.”
“Very well.” The lady pointed to her vehicle. “This is a key part of your quest. You shall use it to complete your task.”
“Where will you have me go? It may not be much, but I’ll drive it anywhere for you.”
“Drive?” The Lady looked confused. “I don’t want you to drive anywhere. I just want a pint of milk, is all.”
“A pint. You sell milk, right? So give me a bottle or a carton or whatever humans put it in these days. Hard to keep track.”
“…oh, well. Sure.” Neil walked to the truck and got a small glass bottle of milk from the back. He held it up for the Lady.
“Make that two,” she said. “Twice the sacrifice, I know, but it must be done.”
Grabbing another bottle, Neil trudged over to the edge of the lake. He reached a bottle out to the Lady, who herself had to adjust her position on the lily pad to grab it. One bottle she rested on the pad itself; the other she opened and began to chug straight from the bottle.
“That hit the spot,” she said, leaving a milk mark around the top of her lip. “Needed that. Your quest is complete; you made the appropriate sacrifice, and I am grateful. You can go now, by the way.”
“Oh. Okay, I’ll, just, you know…” He pointed to his truck to indicate where he was going. With a nod from the Lady, he turned and began his walk of shame back to the truck, his dreams dashed. His desire to be a knight, the epic quest he thought he’d partake in, and the reward! The blessing was sure to be something special. But alas, such is life.
Something clicked in Neil’s head.
“Hey,” he said, turning back. “About that blessing you promised me.”
“Oh? Oh, yes. I totally forgot.” The Lady cleared her throat. “Thanks mate, you’re a star.” She got back to chugging her milk.
“No problem,” Neil lied, opening the truck door. He wasn’t going to be taking this route again, that much was certain.