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Fiction The Huagerdon (short story)

Discussion in 'Fluff and Stories' started by Scalenex, May 31, 2018.

  1. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    I pulled this from the April-May Short Story 2018 contest, I'm posting this separately because this piece fits perfectly wthin Scale-verse as a sort of mini-sequel to Divided We Fall, so I'm posting this as a stand alone piece instead of lumping it with my short story compilation thread.

    I'd like to thank @Hyperborean for suggesting I look to the humble fox for what a Huagerdon sounds like and @Y'ttar Scaletail and @Crowsfoot for helping me proofread this.

    I had this story concept in my head for a long time, but I hadn't written anything for it. his was inspired by the famous youtube video of the man who released a mouse he nursed back to health into the wild only to see it eaten by a hawk within seconds.

    This was hampered by the fact that I sort of wanted to draw a picture of a Huagerdon or flesh them out first before I fleshed out my "huagerdon are like reptilian dogs." And general writer's block that I've been dealing with for the better part of two years slowed me down too.

    The fact that the topic "Beast and Master" fit perfectly with this and I was concerned there would be a low turnout, my concept jarred me to write this.

    My new strategy with short story is to sketch out a frame like this.

    -Set the scene
    -Mull over Tal-Lat's melancholy
    -Introduce the huagerdon
    -Tal-Lat feeds huagerdon
    -Tal-Lat's first attempt to get huagerdon out fails.
    -Tal-Lat binds Tal-Lat wounds
    -Tal-Lat gets huagerdon out
    -Delicious tears/gallows humor

    I had a few other items but I shortened it down to save word length.

    The Huagerdon


    Dawn began to recede into full daylight thought the forest canopy and hanging mists diluted the effect. The lone Skink breathed in deep, drawing in the nearby smells both good and bad. The smell of loamy soil mixed with the smell of ripening fruit. The smell of decomposing dung and rotting animal carcasses mixed with the sweet fragrance of blooming flowers. The jungle made sense. It smelled with the promise of new life and it reeked of the inevitability of death. Beauty and ugliness coexisted side-by -side. Perhaps this was what the Old Ones intended. Not a pastoral soft paradise, but an ever active shifting balancing moving about around an equilibrium.

    In the dawn’s light filtering through the jungle canopy, the beast caste Skink’s dark green scales were almost as good camouflage as a Chameleon Skink, but now that the light was brighter, he would be more visible. Not that he was in any danger. The jungle was quiet. Normal quiet, not dangerous quiet. The air was filled with light sound of chirping insects, singing birds, croaking amphibians, rustling trees from arboreal mammals and a light breeze. All was well, this was why Tal-Lat avoided Temple cities.

    This was part of the reason why Tal-Lat avoided Temple Cities…Being around other Skinks made him think of all the friends he lost. By himself the pain was diminished. He told others he was searching for signs of a Coatl. By finding a Coatl he hoped he could help advance the Great Plan, but really he hoped a Coatl would heal the hole in his soul. He began a silent devotion to Iztl.

    Itzl please give me the strength and wisdom to allow me to carry out your divine will. Please give me a sign.

    Perhaps he didn’t find completion in his soul, but he was reasonably content. He had fresh air and peaceful solitude. His stomach full of the breakfast of fresh meat and fresh fruit. Then his reverie was interrupted.

    “Mrrrrraaa”

    The nearby whine broke his reverie.

    That sounds kind of like a huagerdon….

    “Mrrrrrooo” it came more pitifully.

    Tal-Lat sighed and followed the sound. Probably, a huagerdon. Not the sign from Itzl I wanted. He walked a short distance to a small pit. Maybe eight feet deep at most. It was hard to tell if it was formed by pooling rain water or a trap setting carnivore. He carefully approached the hole. No cover over the top at all. Even an abandoned trap wouldn’t be completely uncovered.

    “Mrraa”

    A pair of large golden eyes looked up at him, so similar to a Skinks it reminded Tal-Lat why some First keep huagerdons. The four legged owner of the eyes backed up as much as the hole it was in could allow. It started shaking in fear. Definitely a huagerdon and a young one at that.

    “I’m not going to eat you. Stop shaking.”
    “Yurr?”

    Huagerdons were cute, but Tal-Lat was beyond that sentimentality. Seemed a little small to be out on its own, but what mother huagerdon would let her hatchling fall in a pit. Maybe it was a young adult that was small and underfed. Maybe the mother had to abandon one to save the others.

    "Why did you step into an uncovered pit like this?”
    “Yoff!”
    “Idiot. If there wasn’t a tiny chance you are a sign from Itzl, I’d leave you there.”
    “Mrrrroo”
    “Stop looking at me like that, I’ll get you out.”
    “Yoff!”

    Tal-Lat sighed audibly. Tal-Lat thought it was just an old rain formed hole that dried up, and the huagerdon’s thrashing would have probably triggered any dangers, but he didn’t take any chances. He found a long stick and poked around the hole to look for trapdoor spiders, quicksand and any other hazards. The young creature pounced on the stick and tried to grasp it with its teeth, at one point tugging on it.

    “Stop that!”
    “Yiff!”
    “Alright, I’m coming down.”

    Carefully, the Skink dropped clambered into the hole. The huagerdon seemed torn between rushing forward in delight and backing away in fear. Tal-Lat saw it was a young female and a bit scrawny. It might have been in the hole over a day.

    “Want some food, girl?”
    “Yurr?”
    “Food.”

    The creature stared at him with her large golden eyes. Slowly he removed his backpack and unwrapped a piece of cooked meat leftover from last night’s hunt. He waved it at the huagerdon slowly. Her nose wiggled.

    “Yiff!”

    The little reptile surged forward and pulled the meat from his claws. She tore into the meat so fast she seemed to inhale it. Once it was all gone she sniffed around for more and looked up at the Skink, her tail frantically wagging.

    “Yurr?”
    “That’s all the meat I got.”
    “Yurr?”
    “I’ll need to hunt more, later. By the way, you’re welcome.”
    “Yiff!”

    The huagderon nuzzled against the Skink’s leg. Tal-Lat fought the urge to smile.

    “Okay, let’s get you out of this hole that you obviously couldn’t get yourself out of by yourself”

    He examined the hole. The mud hadn’t hardened completely, but it wasn’t soft enough to let a creature without opposable digits get enough of a claw hold to climb out. Tal-Lat could have climbed out by hand, but that wouldn’t be necessary. He walked to closest vertical edge and extended his arms. He could almost reach the ledge. It would be fairly easy to make a short jump to the edge and pull himself up. Tal-Lat wished he tied a rope to a tree before descending the hole. The little huagderon looked at him and cocked her ears toward him quizzically, unsure what he was doing.

    “Yurr?”
    “I’m figuring how to get your puddle brained tail out of this hole."
    “Yoff!”

    Tal-Lat paused and fished out his water bladder from his pack and took a sip.

    “Mrrraa”
    “Thirsty, girl?”
    “Yoff!”

    Tal-Lat spread out the wrapping his meat was on and poured a little water on it. The huagerdon began messily lapping it up.

    “You know maybe you should try getting some of the water in your mouth.”
    “Yurr?”
    “Nevermind.”

    Tal-Lat waited till all the water was either drinked up or absorbed into the ground.

    “Can we go back to escaping this hole now?”
    “Yiff!”
    “I’ll take that as a yes.”

    Tal-Lat bent down and reached for the huagerdon, and she began vigorously licking his hands. The Skink started laughing before he caught himself and stopped.

    “Hey, stop that! I’m trying to pick you up.”

    Eventually he got two hands grasping both sides of her midsection. He lifted the huagerdon to the edge of the pit.

    She didn’t move.

    “This…is the part…where you clamber out…the mahrlect….hole…”

    She pawed feebly and started whining and shaking again. Tal-Lat grunted and tried to inch her closer.

    “GO!”
    “Mrraaa!”
    “Puddle brained tadpole…”

    Tal-Lat lowered her back to the bottom of the pit and flexed his sore muscles.

    “What’s wrong with you?”
    “Mrrroooo”

    The Skink sat down grumpily in the drying mud. He fished around in his backpack and remembered his meat was all gone. He grabbed some dried fruit.

    “You are more trouble than you are worth.” He scolded.
    “Yurr?”
    “What’s wrong with your paw?”

    The huagerdon clambered forward into the Skink’s lap. His expression softened as annoyance gave way to paternalistic concern.

    “Oh, your front paws are all scratched up. No wonder you couldn’t get a good grasp on the ledge. It can’t be good thrashing about the mud like that. Hold still.”

    Tal-Lat grabbed some disinfecting ointment from his medicinal pouch and began cleaning the shallow cuts on her paws.

    “Mrraaa!”
    “Yeah it stings but this will make you feel better in the long run.”

    After he cleaned and coated the scratches, he blew on them gently.

    “Yiff!”

    Then he wrapped some small bandages around them.

    “That’s better but you probably shouldn’t put more weight on your paws than you need. Itzl, if this moron is a sign from above I want you notice how respectful I am being to a cold blooded creature under your auspices”
    “Yarr?”
    “Nevermind. Anyway, I’m going to you out of this hole and take you to the nearest Kahoun.”
    “Yarr?”
    “Well you can’t stay with me. You’d just slow me down.”
    “Yoff!”
    “No I don’t need a blood hound, my senses are fine. Some soft-hearted Skink who doesn’t mind useless pets can take you in.”

    The huagerdon started licking his hands again. Tal-Lat sighed.

    “Why am I even talking to you?

    The Skink picked her up experimentally. The huagerdon was light, but he would need both hands to get out of the pit.

    He put her down and stood up and put on his backpack. Then he did a jumping pull up to get out of the hole.

    “Mrrroo!! Yaff! Yaff! Yaff!”
    “I’m not leaving you. Why I would I through the trouble to feed you just to leave you down there.”

    The two locked eyes from the top and bottom of the hole.

    “Yurr?”
    “Idiot.”

    He uncoiled his rope and securely tied it to a sturdy tree. Then he emptied the contents of his pack and put on his empty pack and slid down the hole once again.

    “Yiff!”

    The huagerdon started frantically jumping at him, pawing and licking.

    “I told I wasn’t leaving. Okay, enough. I’m getting you out of here.”

    Tal-Lat removed his pack. This time when he picked her up she stood helpfully still for once.

    “Into the pack you go!”

    Tal-Lat fed the beast into his backpack. She resumed squirming. Tal-Lat couldn’t tell if it was from excitement or discomfort. Her head and front two bandaged paws were sticking adorably out. He climbed up the rope, and then removed the pack and sat on the ground. The huagerdon licked the Skink’s face eagerly. Tal-Lat didn’t restrain his smile this time. Once free of the pack she began running in circles and yipping excessively.

    This diversion wasn’t all bad, Itzl. Thank you for leading me to this haugerdon.

    “Okay when you calm down, and come back here, we’ll go find some more food then head back to Kahoun where you can rest and recuperate from your paw scratches.”

    “Yi—"

    A Terradon swooped down and stifled the huagerdon’s sounds before flying away with its prize.

    “Not funny, Itztl!”
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2018
  2. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Apparently, I am a monster who enjoys drinking the delicious tears of my readers.

    Tears are delicious, but this seemed to create annoyance. I am not sure myself whether I was aiming for dark humor or to make people sad.

    I did try to foreshadow the ending.

    Dawn began to recede into full daylight thought the forest canopy and hanging mists diluted the effect. The lone Skink breathed in deep, drawing in the nearby smells both good and bad. The smell of loamy soil mixed with the smell of ripening fruit. The smell of decomposing dung and rotting animal carcasses mixed with the sweet fragrance of blooming flowers. The jungle made sense. It smelled with the promise of new life and it reeked of the inevitability of death. Beauty and ugliness coexisted side-by -side. Perhaps this was what the Old Ones intended. Not a pastoral soft paradise, but an ever active shifting balancing moving about around an equilibrium.

    Then I hinted at Tal-Lat's melancholy and loss, two paragraphs later. I was paving the way for a sad ending.

    I was not trying very hard to disguise my authorship with this critique. I am all about cruel universes.

    Since Bob has long accused me of kicking huagerdon puppies, so I'm sure he knew.

    That's Tal-Lat's rationalization I'm sure.

    Again I'm not sure if I wanted to be funny or not. I did work hard on the development, so I'm glad that worked.

    Y'ttar helped proofread this, so he knew who I was, and he knew I'd be okay being called a monster. That and he was the one critique writer that caught on how I was covering a nihilistic view of the universe.
     
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2018
    Ritual, Carnikang, Aginor and 2 others like this.
  3. Carnikang
    Kroxigor

    Carnikang Well-Known Member

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    There is something about your writing that I cannot help but enjoy. Aces my compatriot.
     
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  4. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    Thanks for the flattering compliment!

    I hope to put more up soon er relatively soon before Haley's Comet cruises the solar system again. I'm only about 40 pages from finishing my most ambitious story. It should only take a few more highly productive writing sessions.
     
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  5. Y'ttar Scaletail
    Kroxigor

    Y'ttar Scaletail Well-Known Member

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    To be fair, i'd have called you a monster anyway. Point is that i'm very rarely ultra serious with the word-things I say (other than on the praise front.) Oh and for the record I preferred the original ending line. :p

    I'm humbled at any rate you asked me to have a quick leaf through. As always, a marvelous entry from our resident scribble-thing. :)
     
  6. Scalenex
    Skink Priest

    Scalenex Keeper of the Indexes Staff Member

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    For the record, the original ending line was.

    "Damn you, Itzl!"
     
  7. pendrake
    Skar-Veteran

    pendrake Well-Known Member

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    :sorry:
    ITZL.... —or— ....ITZTL ?
    :rolleyes:
     
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