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by Chantal Boudreau
******** Published by Trestle Press at Barnes & Noble Copyright 2011 Chantal Boudreau Barnes & Noble Edition, License Notes This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you're reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, please return to Barnes & Noble and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. *********
Flash trotted along the rocky pathway in a leisurely manner, trying not to think about the lunch that Flower had packed him. It was clover; he could smell it, but if he allowed himself to obsess over it, he would give in and eat it before lunchtime and then he would be hungry for the better part of the afternoon. He had made that mistake before and had regretted it. The little patches of grass on the mostly barren rock facade where he worked had long been picked over when the tourists had been slow to come and he had snacked out of boredom. He hated those days, because Kirkondolius would spend his down time sharpening his claws or picking at his teeth and those habits irked Flash to no end. Dragons had odious personal grooming habits. There had been more of those downtimes than Flash had wanted to see lately and that had him worried. He needed this job. Flower was expecting which meant their needs as a family would increase. While Flash was a career virgin-detector, local parents weren’t as concerned with confirming that their daughters were chaste and pure anymore. The war with Rattas had come to an end; the soldiers were returning and they were in a marrying mood. There would be plenty of babies to go around, and very few of them bastards born or even conceived out of
wedlock. The tourist trade, that had been a thing on the side, was now Flash’s mainstay and he couldn’t afford to see that slip away too. The morning was already quite warm, and the air was buzzing with flies. He flicked his tail in annoyance, knowing that it wouldn’t do much to deter them. They were attracted to the area by the people who came to visit, swarming from the surrounding marshes to prey off of the tourists alongside Flash’s employer. The insects were pests, but he was fairly certain they weren’t to blame for the recent drought of visitors. The tourists just weren’t all that excited with what Flash and his cohorts had to offer anymore. It was old hat. It was yesterday’s news. Not that Flash and the others had to necessarily completely change their tactics; they just had to come up with a new gimmick to go along with them. The pathway eventually brought him to the base of the steep rock hill that they liked to refer to as a mountain, for the tourists’ sake. The climb to the top was one of the worst parts of the job, but a necessary evil. The majority of the flair of their display would be lost for their audience if they did not perform perched on the craggy summit, since it made Kirkondolius appear larger and more menacing and posturing up there gave Flash that trademark majestic look. He wasn’t the young flamboyant stallion that he used to be, and up there, nobody could see that he was developing a bit of a bulge to his midriff, and that his mane was starting to thin in spots. He glanced up at the skies with distaste; the air was humid and reeked of ozone, at least to Flash’s sensitive nose. Suggesting the potential of rain and even possibly a storm, the skies were overcast. While dark clouds provided an aura of gloom to eclipse their spectacle, the tourists more than likely wouldn’t show if it rained. They were a fickle lot. Comfort aside, Flash preferred the sunshine for more practical reasons. Kirkondolius was that much more impressive when he was casting a massive black shadow over those gathered below him, and Flash reflected his name more appropriately when his horn and hooves were glimmering in the golden glow of the sun. When it came to the weather, however, beggars could not be choosers. They had to take whatever Mother Nature dished out. It was not like either of them knew her personally. As Flash struggled to crest the hill, Kirkondolius’s enormous red head peered over the top at him with a huge pointy-toothed grin.
small gouts of smoke escaping from his saucersized nostrils. I was soaked by the time I got home. It isn’t ‘sophisticated’ enough.” Personally. They wanted dismemberment. That’s where the real money was but they weren’t drawn to the simple dog-and-pony show that Flash and Kirk offered. “What can I say. “Ah.” Flash rolled his blue-violet eyes. It might not be wasted if they got in proper city tourists. if he weren’t already bright red. As Flash’s hooves finally clattered onto the smooth rock plateau at the summit of his climb. he felt that any sophistication was lost on the backwoods tourists they got in their parts. ole buddy – I’ve been waiting for almost twenty minutes now. it’s a wonder you managed to knock her up. Flash mused.” he grumbled breathlessly.” Or a pegasus. or decapitation with buckets of blood and gore. You have it easy. They wanted serious violence. “It’s a hazard of my occupation. do you? My scales curl in the damp.” He had a feeling that Kirk would have blushed at being called on that. “The boss would kill me if I called you that with them around. The last time I got caught in a downpour while we were working. Flash thought. Kirk. if I were a freaky bat-winged thing like you. “Ugh! You don’t think it’s going to rain. Flower said I smelled like wet dog and she wouldn’t touch me for a week. anything that meant he did not have to pick his way up the steep hill on foot. but you should save the insults for when the tourists gets here. “I hope not. with major shock value.” Flash raised his eyebrows and glanced over his shoulder.” Kirkondolius’s frightening smile widened. “I’d already be up there too. What took you so long?” Flash scowled at his reptilian co-worker. Feathered wings would be useful. “Bat-winged freak – heh – that’s a good one. Hard to hunt down ladies in their lair when I’m . “You’re just jealous because you don’t even have a woman.” his co-worker sighed. “With a track record like that. shut up. and the most current special effects. Kirkondolius wrinkled his big red snout. too.” Flash gave him a derisive stare. Kirk always wanted to adlib. the dark skies behind him rumbled.“Hey Flash.
trying for a better angle that would give him more detail. when the scales on your snout have dulled. as it would draw the tourists in. golden eyes gleamed with mirth. I guess I’ll have to resign myself to being a perpetual bachelor and catching a little on the side from time to time. the big red brute seemed distracted by something he could see beyond where Flash stood. The other three are guys. Probably plays tagalong comedy relief. His slitpupilled. You`ll get tired of bach-ing it. The dwarf is your typical stubby.” Kirk tilted his head and squinted as he spoke. eventually. “Maybe in another thousand years. but Flash didn’t want to be seen just yet.” his cohort replied. “Two and two?” “Nah – I only see one girl. drinks a lot and always worries about something bad happening to his . Rather. “What do they look like?” Flash breathed. because of his height. Spotting Kirk was okay. “That`s not all it breeds.” “Really?” Flash exclaimed with surprise. “Huh. “It’s kind of early in the day. sure. They had to wait until the tourists got closer in order to garner the intended effect. eyeing the scene far beyond the ridge warily. One look at my Flower and her motherly glow.” “I dunno about that. It is a long and dreary walk to get to the other side of those marshes. I hear familiarity breeds contempt.fodder for a love triangle.” “Sure. and wanted to get going first thing.” Flash chuckled.. hey! Looky. You know the type. Kirk did have a much better vantage point. They weren’t ready to start the show. two and one then. and you can see that for yourself. looky – what have we here? It would appear that we have customers. They probably spent the night at Drawbridge Inn. He stepped away from the edge of the overhang and out of view. your girth has grown and your wings and other things have shrunk? What woman’s going to want you then?” Kirkondolius did not answer.” Kirkondolius said dismissively.” Kirk said with a yawn. “There’s four of ‘em. “Hey.stuck on this hill for the better part of my day.. wishing he could steal a peek without the risk of them catching sight of him. and you`ll want to settle down. but I’m pretty sure one’s a dwarf. but not because he was making some sour attempt at ignoring that last remark.” “What. isn’t it?” “Must be the morning type. Besides.
and kind of hunched over like she has a big backpack underneath there.. Let me guess. But the other one. I could crush him like a tissue with just one of my claws.” he muttered under his breath. staff and robes?” Kirk grinned. with the type of physique that usually appeals to the ladies. “Rabbit food? Aw. I mean. with a single claw tip. you called it. and raised under their bad influence. “Cracks crass jokes. orphaned waif who was left on the steps of an evil temple. “Don’t think he’d have a chance. little bespectacled kid who keeps tripping over his feet and pushing up his glasses. “Cheese doodles. What you got?” Flash snorted. “Clover.” Flash protested and turned away. You should too. Flower never let him eat any junk food anymore. The main reason I can tell she’s a girl is ‘cause I can see boobs.” “Probably thinks he’s some kind of wizard. she’s all bundled up in a funky-looking black cloak dotted with eerie symbols.. but otherwise.” He chuckled at his appropriate slip of the tongue.. rogue or acolyte – who knows?” “How much you wanna bet she was some poor.” “What? I have to watch my figure.” Kirk groaned and clutched a taloned hand to his chest. “Yup.?” He shook his big red head. strong and a little stupid. but salivated at the thought of that salty goodness instantaneously. He looks like the standard farm boy hero-wannabe: kind.. come on. Elf or human. . beard. but she’s trying to find redemption?” “I’ve got some cheese doodles I could put up. I’ve seen his kind plenty of times before.. raising the back of the other to his forehead. melodramatically. One of the two human guys might have a chance with the girl. Neither of us is getting any younger. You’ve got to be kidding me.” “What about the girl?” The dragon scratched at some of the wispy little crimson hairs on the top of his head. “Not quite sure about that one.beer. but he’s a big softy at heart. He’s a scrawny. lost. I’m not betting cheese doodles against rabbit food.
Kirk. “Get thee gone wretched creature. as was the archaic dialect. to get them back on track. It was hard not to laugh. Live or die. I will bring everything I have. you murderous monster. and a little over the top. Someone must bring an end to your tyranny within this land. I’m accepting your challenge. My heart beats tenaciously and my soul is pure.” Kirk scrambled over to the far-side of the plateau and reared up in a menacing fashion so that the tourists would get a good eyeful. Flash thought. to see to it that your evil comes to an end.“Hush up and get into position. He took a deep breath. It aroused more hatred in the tourists if Kirk seemed more snake-like. The tourist in question would never make it to the top before Flash and Kirk were done presenting their staged battle. He spread his wings wide and flapped them twice. I may be small in comparison. “You? Thou are but a mite on thissss mountain face – a niggling little parasssite! I will crush thee and tossss thee assside! Then I will return to my reposssse. Why dossst thou wressst me from my sssslumber?!” The sibilance had been Flash’s idea. I will give over everything that I am. I see no other heroes stepping up to strike you down!” That line often drew a buzz from the tourists. He wished he could see the expressions on the tourists’ faces. . Kirkondolius!!” He kept his head held high despite the strain of the pose on his neck. The wind that was picking up as a result of the threat of rain blew his mane and tail out behind him in a flamboyant way. thinking that the unicorn needed their protection.” Well. They’re almost where they need to be for us to start. blesssssed of the godssss – get thee gone noble sssstallion!!!” he hissed in mock outrage. You shall kill no more. as he forced out a terrible roar accompanied by a vibrant stream of flame. serpent of strife. his horn jutting in the dragon’s direction. “Thy presssence befoulssss my place of resssst. Way to go with the improv. What the hell am I supposed to do now? He decided that he would have to adlib a little too. and lifted the hoof of one foreleg. struck a valiant pose atop the rock and boomed: “You are the reason I climb these peaks. that was new. “Your threats will not keep me from fighting you. It was Flash’s turn. making himself look even larger. but I am determined to bring an end to your evil. I was under the impression that we were supposed to stay on script. perhaps. sometimes even inspiring one to begin making the climb up the “mountain” to offer him or herself up as champion on Flash’s behalf.
but they’ve gotten all quiet and they’re up to plotting something. I had just gotten laid the night before. not side-stepping the way that he was supposed to as Kirk lurched open mouthed towards .” Flash teased. “Phew. “Have you got it ready?” Kirk whispered through his clamped fangs.” “Of course. Flash struggling defiantly and gesturing as if making attempts to plunge his golden horn into the dragon’s breast.The two began scuffling. purposefully exposing his soft underbelly. Flash picked up on the flap of what sounded like a giant bird behind him.” “Yeah. “Funny how they never try to come to your salvation. Before they could initiate this violent and morbid display.. tail sweeps and snapping teeth just barely missing the pristine equine flesh.I was a little over-exuberant that time. By the time any of them got halfway up the hill. preparing to plunge his gleaming spiral into Kirkondolius’s abdomen. and it’s not like we’re wearing safety harnesses. yeah .” The dragon extended himself.. I almost fell last time. It had been carefully choreographed so that the dragon would pierce Flash’s hidden fake blood bladder as he flung the unicorn from the rock-top. “Oh. Just make sure you don’t miss the mark. or at least the swooshing of feathered wings.” Kirk retorted. phony crimson splattering the stones of the ledge and below. Holding in a smile. now you’re really asking for it. Better let them off the hook before they try something stupid in order to ‘rescue’ you. This was where Kirk would suddenly twist. He played at assaulting the unicorn with wing buffets. from what I can tell. He froze. and Flash would land there heavily. the flies that swarmed Flash were enough to deter them from climbing any farther. His death scene was very convincing. I could use the break for a change. They were observing with rapt attention at first. revealing his “ruse” and knock Flash off of the plateau. rumbling the words quietly. tools of the trade.” Flash replied as he gambolled just out of reach of swiping claws. my man. The unicorn planted his rear hooves and reared up. yeah. Kirk responded with equal vigour and artifice. All of these were accented by the occasional burst of flame that licked the rock at Flash’s feet as smoke curled around his hooves. There was a ledge just a short drop from the lip of the ridge. and the unicorn’s tongue lolling out of his mouth while his empty violet-blue eyes stared into nothingness. so you’re saying I’m safe this time. “I think it’s time. but he was also good at remaining there motionless if the tourists decided that they needed to get a closer look at the corpse.
. Damn!” Kirk chewed twice and then swallowed. She did not get the chance to finish. an occupational incident like this might shut us down for good. but word will get around about this happening and the tourists will start showing up in droves.” she bellowed. a couple of black feathers blew out of his nostrils and drifted slowly to the ground. the dragon had too much forward momentum and his mouth had been open wide. She got stuck in my mouth – what else was I supposed to do? Nobody said anything about tourists with wings.” He tossed it aside and then burped. They had no doubt scattered at the sight of their female companion being devoured. Suddenly there was an angelic form.. “Hazard of the job. Flash trotted over to the edge of the plateau and peered down.” The dragon scowled and balled up his claws. “There goes our audience for the day. “Things might get quiet for a little while. and instead. Farm boy hero-wannabe would have to make do with bedding a tavern wench that night. “Aw. Kirk! You’re not supposed to EAT the tourists. “It was an accident.” Kirk said with a chortle. In fact. The two men and the dwarf were nowhere in sight. He clapped his jaws shut trying to keep the woman out.” Kirk did have a point there. “Well this sucks. but the gesture came too late. . Despite the desire to backpedal and retreat. I guess. “Ouch!” He reached in past his tongue and plucked one of the daggers out of the roof of his mouth. he closed his teeth over her with a loud “crunch!” Flash shook his head. “Well I had her nailed on the evil temple part. “But I never would have guessed the offspring of a fallen angel thing. her black wings spread and stiletto daggers in either hand. barring Kirk’s path. “I CANNOT ALLOW YOU TO HARM.him. Handling winged folk was not in the job description. after which he exclaimed. arms raised and outstretched before her.” Flash declared with a snort.” he murmured. restricted access for the tourists.” “Not bloody likely. That was the whole reason for staging their performance on the heights of the hill. propping them on his hips. His tail waved with annoyance.
If we’re lucky the evening tourists won’t have heard what happened from the day stock. but just think of how fun it will be. The smell of clover wafted temptingly past his nostrils.” “I hope so.” Flash sighed. . “So what do we do for the rest of the day then? It’s not like they’ll be back?” the unicorn asked. “She left us a tip. We hope you enjoyed it. it spurred on a second round of regurgitation. After a few seconds he spat out a few more black feathers. But that was not it. relax. “Just chill. flew a small but heavily laden purse that landed in front of Kirk with both a juicy splat and a solid “clink.” the dragon observed. look. He was startled out of this contemplation as the dragon sat up and began to hack and gag. I think. sit back. Sure.” “The night shift? Who’s on?” “Zuggurt and Mephilios.” A few rays of sun started to peek through the dark clouds. The boss will be tickled pink. “Ugh. Kirk flopped down on his side and basked in them.” Still anxious that this little mishap might have cost him his job. chew on some of that clover. telling this story to the next shift when they get here. those get caught in my craw. They’ve got an awesome light show. There’s no such thing as negative press you know. Amongst the slime that spattered out of his gullet and onto the ground this time.” “Oh. Look for other titles published by Trestle Press and Written by Chantal Bourdeau. The night owls don’t tend to mix much with the others.” he complained. “I can’t afford to lose this job. This will be great PR. it’ll be a little dull. for as they both moved to settle down again. and they’ll still have their regular crowd.” ****** Thank you for taking the time to read It’s All About the Tourists. like a cat coughing up a hairball.hoping to get a glimpse of something similar. Flash lowered himself to the ground next to Kirkondolius. He considered how long and empty the uneventful day would seem if he gave in and ate his lunch now.
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