Flash Friday 17/01/2014: Creature Comforts
“Pick up four,” Benny the Bear said, laying the card on the table.
“Asshole,” Rachael the Rabbit said, drawing four Uno cards.
She hated picking up four; not only did it mean she was further away from winning, but it also meant that there was one less pair of eyes keeping track of William the Weasel. He was going to hide a few cards any time now. She placed the cards into her hand, coughing lightly as the haze of cigar smoke lingered over the table. The problem with having game nights inside a tree was always the ventilation.
“So, how did today go?” Harriet the Hedgehog said, opposite Rachael.
“Today? Fine, I suppose. Nothing good happened, but nothing bad happened, either. Sometimes, an uneventful day is the best kind of day.”
“Oh, I hear you,” Harriet said, placing a card on the pile. “Every time we get the balloons out for the kids, I have to pepper myself with corks. It’s a total pain in the ass, but it beats hearing a wailing kid with a bust balloon for thirty minutes. Those days, getting away with nothing happening is the definition of a good day. A day without stress is another day added to your lifespan, that’s what I say.”
“I think our lifespan is shot already.” Rachael waved a paw in front of her nose. “We’re getting lungfuls of tar from the smoking chimney over there.”
“Hey, shut up,” Benny said, placing a red two on the pile before taking a drag. “I do the hard work around here, so I get my breaks, okay? So what if a man wants a cigar? You don’t have to be here, you know. Whatever happened to you wanting to ‘explore the woods to discover the magic inside’?”
“That’s just part of the script,” Rachael said, musing over her hand. “I’m the little rabbit that wants to find faeries amongst the trees, remember? And I have to dodge that farmer when I go for the carrots in the field, just like the stereotypes say I should. It’s harder work than your role, anyway.”
“Well excuse the hell out of you,” Benny leant back in his chair. “I’ll have you know my place in Tinytown is bigger than any of yours.”
“All you do is yell at kids when they step on your lawn. And wave your cane at them.”
“So?” Benny waved his cane. “You know how long it takes to get the ‘angry grouch who hates kids’ personality nailed? You have to get into the skin of the character, get inside his head.”
Harriet rolled her eyes. “Easy for you to do.”
“It’s tough work, and I’m not gonna listen to anyone say otherwise. I could easily get better gigs elsewhere, you know. You’re all lucky that I’m even here.”
Rachael shot a glance. “So why don’t you leave then? You may act out the rage against the animal kids, but your hatred for the human ones is very real.”
“I’m not in it for those oversized pink freaks. I’m in it for their mothers. The best bit about kids is that you know they have a mother that someone actually loved, and they’re not bad at all. You should have seen the one at my morning slot. Had two burrows the size of mountains. Not that I’d ever date one of those stupid humans over any of you fine ladies, anyway.”
“You’re disgusting,” Rachael said, focusing on her cards.
“You can’t even handle me,” Harriet said. “Seriously. The last non-hedgehog that tried ended up dating the closest girl with a pair of tweezers instead.”
“Whatever.” Benny shrugged. “The girls in Tinytown are a bunch of prudes anyway.”
“It’s called married, Benny,” Rachael said, shooting a glare. “Happily married.”
“Ain’t no girl happy until they had a piece of The Bear,” Benny said, waggling his eyebrows as he lifted his suspenders.
Rachael shook her head. “You’re disgusting.”
“I’m out,” William said, placing his last card on the pile.
“No you’re not,” Rachael said. “You have two cards up your sleeve, I saw you put them there.”
William stared like a rabbit in headlights. “I know not what you talk about.”
“There is the rule that you didn’t call Uno last turn, which means you pick up four. Unless it’s not your last card?”
William crumpled, drawing the cards out of his sleeve.
“So do you think we’ll be here forever?” Harriet said. “Like, doing all these fairytale stories and playing to the audience and stuff?”
“It’s tiring, I know,” Rachael said. “But with the technology the humans are getting their hands on, soon we won’t have to do so many live recitals. Maybe record some actual stories rather than repeating the same old one over and over.”
“You think so?”
“Sure. They’ve already had, like…” Rachael waved a paw in a circular motion, searching for the word. “Something called Your Tube or something. People upload videos there. Like, anyone and everyone. We could probably work something out.”
“It’s a fad,” Benny spat. “They’re always fads.”
“This one doesn’t seem to be. At the very least, we can give it a shot. Get a biggie to record our stories and see if we can’t get some actual imagination going for once. Some actual arching plotlines; now that I can get behind.”
“Sounds like a good idea,” Harriet said. “Anything to break out of this system.”
“As long as I still get paid,” Benny said. “You can slap my face on a hologram all you want, as long as I get my money.”
“I’m glad everyone agrees with me,” Rachael said. “I was afraid the technophones of Tinytown would have me burnt at the stake. I’ll see if I can talk to Mayor Owl tomorrow about it.”
“I’m out,” William the Weasel said, placing his final card on the table.
“No you’re not. Spit them out.”
William bowed his head in shame, spitting the cards back onto the table. Some traditions died hard.
Book Spotlight: Gone Mything — A story about a dragon who discovers that he’s a myth, and sets out to set the record straight.