Archive for June, 2012
“Probably. Sampson and me studied all Sunday afternoon,” Larry said as he and Osaze made their way down the hallway. It was starting to get crowded with the student milling about, so they had to carefully maneuver their way to class.
“I bet you enjoyed the quality time with him.”
Larry felt a sudden heat rise inside his ears. “We were studying, Osaze.”
“How much studying did you actually do? As opposed to the fantasizing you actually did?”
Larry kept his beak firmly shut, and refused to look up at the taller jackal.
Osaze ruffled Larry’s head feathers with a chuckle. “I’m just kidding, Larry. You know that.”
“Yeah, but sometimes I regret telling you stuff.”
“As if,” Osaze said. “You’d burst wide open if you didn’t have me around to listen to your secret crushes.”
Larry remained silent as they entered the classroom for first period English, but he knew Osaze was right, having been Larry’s friend since the seventh grade. The jackal was definitely someone he trusted, even if Osaze enjoyed teasing him a bit too much.
Mister Walker, Larry’s English teacher, was a tough but fair educator. If you studied, you would pass his tests without any problem. If you didn’t study, you flunked.
Larry had a problem, but it had nothing to do with the test. It had everything to do with who was sitting behind him.
Courtland Millikan had sat behind Larry after the gryphon had chosen his seat, and had starting thumping the back of Larry chair in an erratic rhythm. Not hard enough to attract the teacher’s attention, but constant enough to disrupt Larry’s focus on the more difficult essay questions.
Courtland had started his self-employment as Larry’s personal bully since the ninth grade. His flexible schedule allowed him to torment Larry every day at school for three weeks in a row once, then for no reason at all he gave himself and Larry a month’s vacation.
Knocking books out of Larry’s claws and snapping a rubber band on the tip of the gryphon’s ear were but a few tricks of Courtland’s trade, and he had the skills and enough cleverness to never perform his aptitude of bullying where he might get caught.
Worse, Larry would never fight back. The gryphon didn’t want his spotless record to be tarnished over fighting. While it might convince Courtland to leave him alone, it would go against his father’s belief that violence only caused more problems than they solved.
As Courtland thumped Larry’s chair once again, the gryphon felt a brief wave of shame as a result of doubting his father’s belief.
“So how’d you do on the test?” Osaze asked as he put away his English book into the depths of his locker.
“I think I passed,” Larry said as he did the same. “No thanks to that jerk Courtland.”
“What’d he do?” Osaze had never witnessed Courtland’s bullying, despite being on the lookout for it.
“He kept on bumping the back of my chair.”
“You should let me slam dunk him.”
Larry shook his head. “He’s a foo dog. I doubt you could, and besides, he’d just spin it around by saying I can’t fight my own battles.” Osaze snorted in derision. “I’m stronger than I look, and yeah, he probably would.”
Larry had decided to not remind his best friend that he looks like a telephone pole with long ears and longer arms.
“And thanks for not reminding me that I look like a telephone pole. I’d hate to slam dunk you.”
Larry gaped up at Osaze. “I didn’t say anything!”
“I bet you thought it, though.” That said, Osaze moved down the hall to his next class.
As Larry hurried to follow him, he wondered when Osaze learned how to read minds.
“Congrats on the win Saturday, Larry,” Osaze said as the gryphon approached the lockers.
“Thanks! Were you there?”
Osaze smiled down at Larry, which was easy for him to do since he was close to seven feet tall. “Yup. I saw you block that goal like a pro.” The smile then changed into a teasing smirk. “But you should really keep your eyes open when you’re trying to catch the ball.”
Larry gaped in surprise at Osaze. “How did you know?”
“It was a lucky guess. I always suspected one of my ancestors was a god of luck.”
“Isn’t it enough you already have a deity as your grandfather?” Larry asked as the tall jackal took a body wipe from his locker and started to remove the golden paint that decorated his right eye in the style of the ancient Pharaohs of Egypt.
“It is, but maybe it would help my jump shot if I had some more luck.”
Osaze was on the basketball team, and Larry wasn’t sure what the jackal was talking about. “Your jump shot is fine, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, but only because I’m six-nine. Anyone my height would have an okay jump shot.,” Osaze said, his grin revealing his sharp, canine teeth, bright white against his black fur. “I want to have a legendary jump shot.”
Larry rolled his eyes. “You’re addicted to basketball. Did anyone ever tell you that?”
Now that Osaze had removed the gold paint from around his eye, he proceeded to pull an English textbook and stuff it into a blue backpack. “You’d be the first to tell me that I have an addiction. So nice you care about me,” he replied as he closed the locker door quietly. “You ready for our English test?”
“It’s okay,” Larry said, the inside of his feathered ears felt flush with embarrassment. Everyone had their eyes on him now, and he felt awkward.
Sampson gripped Larry’s shoulder. “Yeah, you be sure to knock me down, Freddy. Scabs are sexy.”
Larry felt even more flushed now, even after Sampson released his shoulder. He almost wished he had been hurt. Maybe the object of his affections would have helped him up, and taken him to the hospital. A silly thought, because the last time he was hurt, going to the doctor was no fun at all. “Scabs are so not sexy,” he muttered.
“You don’t have skin, Larry Bird. You don’t know just how awesome they are.”
“Don’t call me Larry Bird,” Larry muttered as they found themselves a place at the team’s table.
Pizza was devoured by the team, though it seemed Freddy, being a quadruped, ate more than his fair share. Though by that time everyone else was full and no one wanted to take it home. Thus, Freddy was happy to eat what was left over.
After Larry and his brother made it home, Freddy immediately chased him around the backyard, claiming later it was to aid him in digesting all that pizza.
Such was life for Larry.
Larry rolled his eyes. “As if. You know I’d beat you up.”
“Maybe in Fantasyland you would.” Freddy winked up at Larry, then saw Sampson. “Hey, Sampson. Where’s your mutt? I’m hungry.”
Sampson’s mouth opened in shock as he looked at Larry, his eyes filled with accusation. “You told him?”
Larry shook his head rapidly, his neck ruff slowly puffing out in panic. “N-no! I swear I didn’t.”
Sampson and Freddy suddenly laughed at the sight of Larry’s nervous-induced fluffiness. “Relax, Larry,” Sampson said. “I know you didn’t. Freddy and me set you up good.”
Larry glared at Freddy. “You jerk!”
Freddy took a step back, a fore claw pressed on his chest ruff. “Hey, why am I the bad guy? Sampson was with me on this.”
“Well…you’re my older brother. You probably bullied him into going along with it.”
Freddy snorted. “Whatever. I never bullied anyone in my life.”
“You bully me at home all the time!”
“I said anyone. You’re a nobody.”
Larry moved past his brother, his long ears flat against his skull. “Jerk,” was all he could mutter.
“Love you too, little bro.”
Larry, admittedly, could not stay mad at his older brother or Sampson, and by the time he reached the entrance to Pirate’s Pizza, his anger had drained away from his heart. He turned around to face his friend and his brother. “All right, you two are still jerks–”
“Deja vu,” Freddy said before he preened at one of his raised wings briefly.
“–but I guess I should chill out. I’m sorry I got upset.”
Sampson grinned as he patted Larry’s shoulder. “No problem, dude.”
“It’s not like you don’t go emo on me all the time anyway,” Freddy said.
“I don’t…no, you know what, Freddy? You’re a mega jerk.”
Freddy opened his beak in a wide gryphon grin. “I’ve been promoted!” His beak then clacked shut as he squinted his eyes in a smirk. “No, seriously, can you either get your fuzzy butt inside or step away from the door? I’m starving, and Dad would be pissed at me if I tried to eat you.”
Larry entered the pizza place, defeated. He couldn’t put even a chink in his brother’s ego no matter what he said, and Freddy always managed to turn things around to confuse and frustrate Larry.
“That’s a good biped,” Freddy said as he trotted inside, almost knocking over Larry as he moved past. He weighed somewhere in the range of five hundred pounds, being a quadruped, but he was usually more careful.
Larry managed to catch himself on the edge of a table, but still rattled the silverware that was placed on the surface.
Freddy looked over his shoulder. “You okay?” he said, the smirk carried in his eyes was gone. Instead they were wide, as if he’d expected Larry to be on the floor.
“Yeah, no thanks to you.”
“I’m sorry, Larry.” The apology sounded genuine, and Larry had no doubt it was. “Next time I’ll bump into Sampson instead. I wasn’t trying to knock you down.”
Sampson patted Larry on the leg. The touch made the gryphon’s heart race, and he felt an almost electrical current rush through his spine. “Well, I’m glad I got some company. Nobody else trusts my driving.”
“You just got it a couple weeks ago.”
“And I just got permission to drive into the city last week.”
Larry swallowed audibly, a lump forming in his throat. “If I’d known that, I would’ve flown.”
“Too late, Larry Bird!” Sampson proclaimed, flashing an exaggerated grin as he leaned forward, as if about to run over someone. Though with how he eased the car out of the parking lot, Larry wasn’t too sure his friend would be good at hit and runs.
“Don’t call me that, I don’t even like basketball.” Larry didn’t care for the joke about his name and the fact he was part bird. He wasn’t even sure if this Larry Bird was still in basketball.
“Sorry, Larry, but you know us kids can be cruel.”
“My brother’s worse than you could ever be.”
“I still think he ate your neighbor’s cat.”
Larry chuckled as the car got on the 395 highway. “Dude, he doesn’t eat pets. He says cats taste awful.”
“And how would he know they taste awful, huh?”
Larry opened his beak to speak, then clacked it shut. Sampson had a point, which was scary enough. “Crap.”
“All I’m saying is I’m not letting my dog out of my sight when he’s outside and Freddy’s around.”
When they reached the small shopping center that contained the Pirate’s Pizza, Larry’s sharp eyes picked out the familiar sight of his father’s truck, along with someone in the bed of the vehicle. “Oh, great,” he moaned when he saw the quadrupedal gryphon climb out of the truck. “My brother came with dad.”
Sampson pulled into the parking lot. “Good thing my dog isn’t around. I’d hate for your brother to be tempted with a canine snack.”
Larry rolled his eyes. “Freddy wouldn’t eat your dog.”
“Did he tell you dogs taste awful as well?”
Larry gave Sampson a cold stare. Crush or no crush, he wasn’t so smitten with his friend as to be blinded by his incessant teasing. Once the car was parked, Larry unbuckled his seat belt and got out. He waved to his family and teammates. “What’re you doing here, Freddy?”
Freddy’s claws clicked on the pitch of the lot as he walked over to Larry. “Same reason you’re here, duh.” He sat on his haunches and tugged on one of his gloved forepaws.
“Oh, you won a soccer match? Funny, I didn’t see you playing.”
Freddy’s ears twitched a bit as he waved a forelimb dismissively, as if dispersing a cloud of smoke. “I came for the free pizza.”
“Dad’s buying it for the team, not for bottomless pits who pose as older brothers.”
Freddy grinned, standing up as tall as he could on all fours. He was larger than a German shepherd, almost as large as a pony, but not quite able to look at his younger brother in the eye. Not unless he stood on his hind legs. “You sure do talk smart, little bro. Remind me to beat you up when we get home. We bullies always gotta beat up the nerds.”
Larry crouched as the striker closed in on him. He wanted to flex his wings out of nervous habit, but the clips that pinned them to his back wouldn’t budge. Rules were rules.
Suddenly the striker kicked the ball towards the goal, and Larry lunged to the side, arms outstretched, to intercept it. His hands stung, and when he opened his eyes (another nervous habit–he would have to work on that) the soccer ball was in his taloned paws.
The roar of the crowd filled his ears, and as he laid on his back, the ball held up high over his chest, he let loose a whoop of delight. His team had won the match! Victory was literally in his grasp!
His beak parted in a grin as he got up, suddenly surrounded by his teammates. A mix of gryphons like himself, humans, and one lone minotaur hoisted him on their shoulders and carried him to the locker room, where the coach, his father, grinned before he clacked his beak together.
“Alright, settle down!” the coach said. “You kids did good–no, you kids did damned good, if you’ll pardon my French. We keep this up, we’ll be going to the state finals.” His beak opened again, his eyes darting around the players. “But we don’t care about that right now, do we?”
“SIR! NO SIR!” the team roared. What Larry and the others wanted was the dinner celebration if they could beat their high school rivals, which was exactly what was done.
“Then my poor bank account’s gonna suffer. Pirate’s Pizza it is! Clean up and let’s go!”
It was five in the afternoon that Saturday when Larry got in the car with his friend Harvey, who went by the nickname of Sampson solely because of his long, golden locks of curly blond hair. He was still wearing his soccer jersey. It was an odd tradition for Larry’s friend, as he claimed it helped keep the victory energies stable until he could get home to store it in a special hermetically sealed case.
His friend, Larry had decided long ago, was nuts, but adorably nuts.
“Why didn’t you just fly to the pizza place, Larry?” Sampson asked as Larry folded his wings in front of him; otherwise, it would have been uncomfortable for his back.
“I’m still wiped out from the game,” Larry replied after a moment’s consideration. It wasn’t a complete lie, but it wasn’t the complete truth either. He was tired from the soccer match, but he wanted to ride with Sampson because the gryphon thought he was the most handsome guy on the soccer team or in high school.
Larry wasn’t sure exactly why or how he had fallen for Sampson, but it happened. It made him feel delightfully awkward to see his human friend in school–whether it was to pass by him in the hallway or to sit in the row next to him in class. Soccer practice was probably the only time he didn’t think of Sampson, but they were on the same team and several people commented on how his and Sampson’s teamwork was some of the best they’d ever seen.
It seems my idea of posting Deathless and Welcome to Cappuccinos on a certain art site wasn’t a new idea!
This, my friends, is what I call A Sign. The Internet is telling me that what I was doing was the Right Idea.
So, starting Monday, I’ll be posting a new novella in 500 word installments five days a week. There won’t be much art involved, but I do have a few pieces in the works.
So on Monday, be ready for The Gryphon’s Goal. It’ll also be crossposted in other areas.
See you then!
Novels Carpathia by Matt Forbeck Beautiful World by Kristina Tracer Nightshifted by Cassie Alexander
Short Stories The Magcian and the Maid and Other Stories by Christie Yant Winter Solstice by Mike Resnick The Trader and the Slave by Cinda Williams Chima Cerile and the Journeyer by Adam-Troy Castro
Like the title says, my latest novella is available in print at FurPlanet (http://furplanet.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=572) and on Amazon for the Kindle (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0088GX2EO)
Now, here’s where I ask you guys for some assistance. Don’t worry, it won’t cost you a cent! On June 10th, I plan to make the Kindle edition free for a day. I call upon all of you to download a copy on that day. I want to see if being in the top ten will make a difference in sales.
So help a geekboy out, will you? Thanks in advance!
Heaven by Mur Lafferty Hell by Mur Lafferty Earth by Mur Lafferty Wasteland by Mur Lafferty War by Mur Lafferty Hell to Pay By Simon R. Green Matt Forbeck’s Brave New World by Matt Forbeck Guided Toward Salvation (Akela) by Ben Goodridge The Nex by Tim Pratt Alone on the Edge by Patrick Stutzman In Wilder Lands by Jim Galford Robyn’s Egg by Mark Souza
John Uskglass and the Cumbrian Charcoal Burner by Susanna Clarke So Deep That the Bottom Could Not Be Seen by Genevieve Valentine The Go-Slow by Nnedi Okorafor Too Fatal a Poison by Krista Hoeppner Leahy The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Robert Silverberg The Secret of Calling Rabbits by Wendy N. Wagner The Wizards of Perfil by Kelly Link Stormfront by M.C.A. Hogarth Money for Sorrow, Made Joy by M.C.A. Hogarth Freedom, Spiced and Drunk by M.C.A. Hogarth Unspeakable by M.C.A. Hogarth