I came upstairs from a tunnel I’m digging toward the big mountain to find a horror squid standing in the middle of my duckens.
It immediately attacked me. I had to cower in a doorway that it couldn’t fit through to attack it back. From there I could slash at its lower tentacles where it couldn’t reach me. (I don’t know why they can’t bend over and attack but I’m grateful.)
I killed it, and only one of my duckens sustained minor injuries. They crowded around me afterward like I was some kind of magical mother hen…. which I guess I am.
I’m starting to get attached to this place.
My favorite published story so far, “The Smell of Home”, is now available in the 2018 Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide.
You can also buy it on iTunes, at Barnes & Noble or at Kobo. Or ask your local bookstore to order it (if they don’t stock it already) — the ISBN is 978-1940924250.
There are a lot of really awesome stories in this book, and they’re all worth a read. It’s a middle-grades book, but then, so is Harry Potter. That just means everyone from middle-grades on up will enjoy it 🙂
One of the duckens has started to follow me. Not all the time, but often enough that I don’t mind sharing a bite of my carrot sandwich with it. It’s the same way that I got my cat Bobby when I was a kid.
Bobby was what we called a neighborhood cat. Technically, I think he lived with the Rodriguez family, but they got him to hunt mice in the garden, so he was always an outdoor cat. He hunted mice and small birds when it suited him, but he preferred human food, so he was always following someone around.
I think at some point everyone fed Bobby something, whether it was stuff kids were dropping or a cup of milk from Mz Henry down the street, or cat food that he scarfed down with the Smiths’ cats. Somehow he stayed skinny.
Bobby liked me best. I used to give him bits of ham from my lunch sandwich during the summer, out on the front stoop. He napped in my lap sometimes while I was reading, and rode in the basket of my bike.
This ducken follows me around a lot like Bobby did. Doesn’t expect anything really but will take whatever I offer, and lets me pat him on the head and tell him my troubles in exchange. I think I’ll name him Bobby too.
Took a day off from digging to do some fishing and smelt some iron ore. (I prefer to be home when setting super-hot fires under molten rock. It’s a thing I do.)
So to recap, I decided a while ago that I wanted to be able to identify potentially hazardous pockets of air in my caverns, but this planet lacks canaries.
I took about 50 eggs down into the caves and hatched duckens, so that they could act as canaries.
They’ve been doing what duckens do, which on this planet means multiplying at almost exponential rates.
I stood outside one of the far caverns today and fished from the river… not where I normally fish, but it was deeper so I thought I might get some bigger fish. (I did, too, so we’ll be doing that some more!)
While standing on the shore, I could hear muffled clucking.
Underground, below my feet.
In the caverns, the duckens cluck.
How many duckens are down there now?
Sheep. I’m digging and thinking about sheep.
Sheep are bigger than I pictured. And they smell. Badly. They don’t smell like clean socks or a wool suit, either. They smell like sheep shit. I guess that’s pretty obvious, but these aren’t things I had to think about back on the ship.
Do I want sheep? I could use the wool for better clothes, and the meat for eating, and the skin for leather… in that way, sheep are pretty handy things to have. They eat what’s already here, so I don’t have to find them food. And they seem friendly enough, compared to exploding giraffe corgis and horror land squid.
I want sheep.
But do I want sheep badly enough to lure them over a mountain and over a river?
That part I’m still thinking on, while I dig.