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Nimue's Grotto

Minor Pain

by Ryan Hale

Bodak the Dritter looked down at his slimy green hands and gave an exhausted smile as he slumped back in his chair. It was nice to finally be clean. Minor Dritters had to do a lot of hard, manual work that often times scuffed off all the body ooze and left them dirty, contaminated by the putrid oxygen in the air. It was his lot in life though and he was proud of the work he did. It was honest work, but he wished he made more than twenty Kapog's a day for his labor. He couldn't support himself and his son on this wage. Especially not with paying the Dritter Sitter for all the hours he worked at the factory.

He looked around their living unit and was disgusted with himself. This was no way to provide for a child. Little Bodak only had one toy, a Minor Dritter Space Commander named Captain Bulli with movable arms and a space gun. Three of the four legs were broken though. Little Bodak had seen the movie Dritterland and been completely enthralled with the main character, a Mega Dritter named General Zylon. Bodak had wanted to buy him a Zylon toy, even though it was a Mega Dritter instead of a Minor Dritter but it was too expensive.

Everything was too expensive.

"Little Bodak, come here son," Bodak called out to his son in the back of the living unit.

On cue little Bodak toddled out on his four legs from behind his sleeping pod, purple tear ooze streaming down his face.

"What's wrong son?" Bodak asked. Little Bodak understood Dritter but he couldn't speak it yet. Bodak wasn't looking for a verbal response though. He could only see two of little Bodak's arms, his third was hidden behind his back. "What do you have back there little one?" He asked again as he gently tugged on his son's third arm.

Reluctantly little Bodak pulled his hand out from behind his back to show his father what he'd done.

"I'm sorry son," was all he could say when he saw the broken toy. He didn't have the money to buy another one, and somehow his nearly infant son seemed to understand that. At least, he understood he wouldn't be getting a replacement. He fell to his knees and wept silently as he tried to put the left head back on, fruitlessly.

Bodak watched his son cry and the pit in his stomach became unbearable. He loved his son more than anything in the world. He wanted him to have the best of everything. He could barely provide the worst of anything. It wasn't fair. Not for little Bodak. He hadn't chosen to be born to a Minor Dritter that worked in the factory. He hadn't chosen this life. He was just stuck in it.

And what could he look forward to in life? Spending three quarters of a day, every day, at the Dritter Sitter, watching the children of Mega Dritters playing with all their cool, new, non-broken toys. Growing up and getting a job in the factory and then some day looking down at his son and wondering how he would buy him a single toy?

Soon Little Bodak was asleep and Bodak stood over him. At that moment a realization hit Bodak. He didn't deserve this son. He couldn't take care of him. Little Bodak deserved better.

Bodak spent the next few hours in his chair, with his heads in his hands. By morning time, when it was time to get little Bodak ready for the Dritter Sitter and head back to the factory, the entire floor was filled with purple tear ooze.

He cleaned himself up and then he woke little Bodak and got him dressed in his best suit. When they were ready he took his tiny little hand and led him down the street. The walked past the Dritter Sitter. Little Bodak made a babbling sound and tried to pull his dad towards it as they passed.

"Not today son," he said as he quickly wiped a bit of purple from his eyes.

# # #

Bodak stood at the meeting place with little Bodak and a wrapped up package.

"Son, you're going to go somewhere now. Some nice Dritters are going to come and take you home with them."

Little Bodak shook his head in a firm no and grabbed his father's hand.

"Yes son. They're very nice. I met them. They can't have a little Dritter of their own, so they want to take care of you and give you all the things I can't," Bodak said as he used every ounce of will power to keep from crying. He quickly began to unwrap the package to clear his head of the agony. Little Bodak's eyes enlarged as he saw his father unwrap a brand new Captain Bulli. Bodak had scrapped together everything he had to buy it. Something to remember his father by in the years to come.

The shuttle landed and two Mega Dritters stepped out and waved to little Bodak.

"It's time son," Bodak said as gently pushed his son towards the Mega Dritters. Little Bodak walked forward with his hands clutching Captain Bulli. He stopped halfway and looked back at his dad. His dad nodded to go forward, holding in his tears until his son turned back around.

The mom and dad welcomed him with big slimy hugs and then the dad pulled out something from the back of the shuttle. It was so big that even from across the shuttle pad Bodak could see what it was. It was giant General Zylon.

Then Bodak watched his son drop Captain Bulli on the ground, take the General Zylon in both hands and climb into the shuttle. His new mom didn't wave as she climbed in, stepping on Captain Bulli and pressing him into the mud as she did so.

And with that he was gone.

About the Author

Ryan Hale realized his love for writing in the 8th grade, and the value it had in entertaining his peers while annoying his Reading teacher. He enjoys writing short stories because of the lack of commitment implied right from the start. He has three children, all boys, and has taken upon himself the challenge of ensuring his level of maturity, when appropriate in their company, is right on par with theirs. He loves sarcasm nearly as much as irony and lives in the Northeast but hates the cold and thinks it's a stupid personal failure on his part that he doesn't live in Florida.