Birthday Boy

“Birthday Boy”

Oh, that? It’s a prototype of a story of mine. That takes me back to my high school years. Going to the writing club and scribbling to my heart’s content before my friends came to take me Taco Bell.

*chuckle* Anywho, give it a read if you’d like


We all want to be the wanderer that doesn’t wander.

They simply stay put and listen to echoes from the paths of life.

Do they listen?

Who cares?

???: Too…weird.

Clay Vira ripped out a piece of paper from the book he had written…whatever that was and shoved it in his pocket. An autumn breeze tickled his spine. The morning sun glowed a golden glow. Orange began to fade into blue as the big star rose. Leaves were the color of fire. Reds, yellows, and oranges galore! Maple leaves blanketed the ground on which he sat on. Sadly, none of this was enough to warm Clay. He stared out to the sea of scarlet leaves from the top of a hill as he rubbed his arms to warm himself.

Clay: I should get my jacket.

Clay got up and made his way over to his campsite. Luckily when he got there, nothing seemed to be disturbed. His tent was fine. Father’s tent was fine. The log seats surrounding the fire pit were no match for him as he made his way towards his tent. Inside he found his jacket being crushed by the weight of a great beast. Said beast rose its head and yawned, being awakened by Clay’s sudden entrance.

Clay: Marro! Get off that!

Marro growled as if it were grumbling before getting off of Clay’s jacket. At that point, the jacket had become a rug of brown fur. Clay let out an annoyed sigh.

Clay: So much for that.

He plopped down after closing the mouth of the tent to keep the heat Marro was making inside. 

Marro groggily went up to Clay and rested beside him, laying her head on his lap. Her semi-fluffy chestnut brown fur longed to be raked by his caramel fingers. He tapped her two hard little bumps on her head. Marro swiped his paw away and whined.

Clay: *teasingly* What’s wrong, Marro? Sad your horns haven’t grown in yet?

Marro whined louder.

Clay: C’mere, you big baby.

Clay pounced Marro and attacked her with belly rubs. She replied with a panting smile and wagging her forked tail.

???: Is that the sound of bonding I hear.

Clay and Marro both look at a man beaming at them with a smile that rivaled the sun. 

Clay: Oh no, it’s professor Dad!

???: Professor Father.

Clay averted his eyes from Father’s fallen smile.

Father: Since I’m up, why don’t we get started on breakfast?

Clay: Ok.

 Father fully opened the tent’s mouth before walking out of Clay’s eyesight. Marro got up and followed him not before looking back at Clay. Now alone, Clay grabs his jacket along with his supplies, his backpack filled to the brim with valuable goods and his arms: a training sword and buckler. Fully prepared for the day ahead of him, Clay leaves the tent.

Clay: Ready.

Clay’s Father: Oh good.

Casually lifting his arm, a holoscreen and a holo keyboard manifested from a gauntlet he wielded. TENT-24 was typed with the keyboard. Clay’s tent then became engulfed in artificial green light. Then, it became a pulsating cube that was transferred into the gauntlet. 

Clay: What will you make?

Father: Breakfast burritos.

Clay: With no pepp-

Father: With no peppers.

Clay: YES!

A blush flushed on Clay’s cheeks as he heard Father chuckle. He snapped out of it after Marro yelped.

Clay: Gah! What’s wrong, Marr-

*CLANG*

Her dog bowl bounced along the Earth. Another yelp was released into the wind.

Clay: Marro!

Hearty laughter filled the air.

 Father: Ha ha ha! Son, do you remember the day we got Marro.

Clay: Father, please, it’s been four months.

Father: You were so scared of her when we first met her on that hunting trip in the Finger Lakes. She was drinking water from one of the lakes when I told you to take your shot, but you were frozen in your boots. 

The smell of sausage, eggs, and more hearty laughter filled the air.

Clay: Father!

Father: I was surprised at how friendly she was with you. Especially considering that she’s a chimera. But, nevertheless, we’ve received a valued member of the family.

Marro held her head high after hearing such praise. Instantly, she went into a readied stance at the sound of rustling from nearby bushes. Clay drew his blade and raised his shield at his pet’s low growl.

Father: I knew making breakfast burritos would cause this. You’re lucky it’s your birthday today.

Clay: I’ll clean up the mess.

A smirk makes its way across his face.

Father: I’ll leave you to it.

On cue, three gray furballs leap from the bushes and onto the campsite. Upon closer inspection, they were squirrel-like creatures known as Nippers. Nippers are about the size of an adult cat and have black prickles running along their backs to their tails. They sharpen their front buck teeth with stones and hard nuts to make them lethal weapons. Oddly, they have helmets made of large acorns, with a cute little leaf on the stem, were on their heads. Their fuzzy gray ears poke out of the holes in their helmets. 

Back to the fight, each one of them twitched one ear simultaneously. Then, in a flash, the scurry of  Nippers got into a half-circle formation.

Nipper 1: Nip!

Nipper 2: NIP!!

Nipper 3: NIP!!!

Clay: Nip?

All Three Nippers: NIP!!!

All three of them jumped up and bared their claws at once. Clay raised his buckler above him to guard against the upcoming attack. However, a wave of heat was felt on the back of his neck. Marro, fur bristled with anger, began to hiss. Bright white light began to glow within her chest as she slowly opened her mouth.

Clay quickly ducked down, buckler still raised, once the hacking began. After one last hack, a small ball of lightning fled from her mouth like a bullet from the barrel of a gun. It struck the middle squirrel, causing a small explosion as it hit. 

The small explosion pushed each of the squirrels back a couple feet. It pushed the one it struck back, and the other two were pushed to their respective sides. Marro made a beeline towards the one it stuck, letting out a vicious growl as she did. Still in his defensive position, Clay put his back against a nearby young tree, negating any of his vulnerability. 

He cautiously surveyed the area with steady but anxious glances. None of the beasts were within his line of vision, and he knew that they were planning another ambush. But, then, a thought spurred in his mind. His shield swiftly struck the trunk of the tree he was guarding himself with.

As he predicted, they both fell from the tree to his feet. One on its head and the other on its side.

Clay: They’re fast.

In one fell move, Clay lowered himself and performed a sweeping slash targeted towards their small ankles. One of the Nippers was able to evade the attack, but the other was not as fortunate. It held its ankle as an audible crack escaped from its shattered ankle. 

Nipper: NIPPPPPPP!!!!!

Clay had to ignore the lump he felt in his chest.

The other poor Nipper hit by the spark ball was running for its life about the campsite. Marro was giving quite the chase. If the Nipper climbed one of the tents, so did Marro. If it hopped over the log seats, so would Marro. You get the gist. Its tail was tired from retracting each time Marro went in to… “nip” it.

Fangs pierced the flesh of the Nippers tail. Then, like a dog toy caught by its rope, the Nipper was shaken by the end of its tail. Marro then flung the whiplashed beast somewhere else in the forest.

Feral swipes from an angry squirrel monster had Clay stepping back, barely blocking the onslaught. He desperately tried to find an opening, but the Nipper was having none of it. As if mimicking the boy, the beast performs a sweeping move with its tail as the sword. Clay fell hard on his back. Really hard. After the sudden gravity loss, he saw the Nipper in the sky as he regained his vision. 

Mid-fall, the Nipper began to curl up, spinning like a disc thrown vertically. You could’ve mistaken it for a thrown buzzsaw. Frantically, he tucks in his neck and raises his shield. He pushed back with all of his strength as the Nipper clashed with his buckler. The actual sound of a buzzsaw cutting through metal filled the air. A crack emerged on the top of the buckler.

With a great heave, Clay lifted his shield. The Nipper was sent flying as if it had jumped off a trampoline. It struck the back of his head as it collided with a tree. Clay had just barely gotten up before he felt a weight on his back. The crippled Nipper from earlier climbed up his back. 

It raised its teeth and knawed down on Clay’s shoulder. 

Clay: GET OFF ME!

Clay gripped the fiend with his right arm off his back and slammed it onto the ground. Adrenaline surged through his body as he lifted his blade with both hands. Whimpering barely escaped the throat of the Nipper as Clay’s foot pressed against its throat. Clay drove his sword through the chest of the Nipper.

The battle was won.

Clay desperately tried to catch his breath. He glanced to his left shoulder to see the cracked remains of his pauldron and a gash right in the middle of it. His left arm was completely immobile. 

Clay: Oh no. It won’t move. 

Clay took a deep breath. He thrusted his shoulder upwards.

Clay: AHHHHHHHHH!

At least he wasn’t paralyzed. The crunch of leaves grew louder, along with the smell of sausages and dog.

Father: How are you? 

Clay: My shoulder’s been… nipped. But other than that, I’m fine.

Father: Good.

Father opened his right palm. A pure green light enveloped it. Father took a knee and touched put his palm on Clay’s shoulder.

Clay forgot everything. The second mouth the Nipper had given him on his shoulder. The plans he had made during the fight. The constant need to have eyes in all areas. All of it, gone. He’s just present with the warmth he felt. Whether it was from the healing magic or Father, he didn’t know. As he looked at his left shoulder again, his wound was nowhere to be found.

Clay: Thank you, Fath-

Father: What was that?

Clay: What?

Father: I said I’d let you handle the situation. Marro helped you.

Clay: I didn’t ask her to help.

Father: You didn’t stop her either.

Marro stopped panting and glanced in between the two. She held her head down.

Father: Aside from that, your emotions got the best of you.

Clay: When?!

He was immediately crushed by Father’s gaze.

Clay: My apologies Father.

Father: As you did just now, you had an outburst from anger. It is justified, but you released it too early and incorrectly. Do you remember what I had told you?

Clay: Guide your emotions. Don’t let your emotions guide you.

Father: Correct.

Father took a knee.

Father: You fought well. Before your rage, you were cautious and calculated. If you had kept the disposition throughout the fight, you would’ve been a true warrior.

Clay: Thank you, Father.

Father: Now, let us eat. We have a long day ahead of us.

Father got up and headed towards the log seats. He raised his arm to summon a table. Clay shifted his left shoulder and then looked back at the corpse he had made. Marro was knawing on its little arm. 

He swallowed his heart and went towards his Father.

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