Fumble-Fingers – Grammar Ghoul Press

Painting by: Rene Magritte


The figure in black looked across the Colorado River from the pedestrian bridge. It was sunny and the light played across the water as kayaks drifted by below. Swallows in orange and blue livery flitted past. It could have been a serene moment for Paelymax, but his shoulders slumped. His black-feathered wings drooped in tatters from many battles. “It’s been a difficult campaign,” he said.

“Difficult?” said the enormous lion lying on the pavement beside him. “I’d call it a fiasco.”

“The battle isn’t over yet, Great Mumganba.”

Mumganba chuffed. His bodacious golden mane fluttered in the breeze. “It may as well be. Billemont clutches the Ethyscian Gryphon. I cannot see how he will be defeated.”

Paelymax’s hand fiddled about in his coat pocket. “I understand your concerns old friend.”

Joggers and cyclists passed the odd pair by with nary a glance. Great Mumganba lifted his tail before a young couple, gazing with blissfully at each other, stepped upon it. Humans never saw the true form of the Naephylea. In their 5,000 years of companionship, Paelymax and Great Mumganba had been called many things, including angels and demons, for it was true they fed upon humanity.

Some, like the two on the pedestrian bridge, preferred beautiful places like waterfalls and ancient shrines. They lived where humans escaped to find serenity. Such feelings provided Paelymax and Mumganba all the sustenance they needed to continue living. Other Naephylea like Ecascus Billemont fed upon negative options such as despair. America’s bizarre spate of fiercely polarized politics, engineered by Billemont, had fed him like a wolf in a meat factory. He and his kin grew stronger every day.

A young woman stopped and asked an old man in a black coat for the time. “2:17,” rumbled Paelymax. She smiled before setting off again. Paelymax sighed happily at the positive flow of her energy. “I think I’m feeling better,” he said to Mumganba.

“Good,” said the great lion. “We need you back.”

Paelymax scowled. “What do you mean, ‘back?'”

“You’ve been fumble-fingered lately,” said Mumganba. “Do you forget that it was YOU who dropped the Ethyscian Gryphon in Baltimore?”

“Black Hedia has all those arms!” defended Paelymax. “She was bound to knock it away.”

“And this was how the Gryphon ended up in Billemont’s pincers. One hundred years ago you would never have lost it. And then, in Chicago, the attempt to reclaim the Gryphon was a miserable failure. ”

“You’ll recall I was trapped within the coils of Quifillus the Great Snake.”

Mumganba groaned and placed a dinner plate-sized paw over his eyes. “Even fifty years ago Quifillus could never have ensnared you. I still can’t believe you dropped the Sword of Gryscalia!”

Paelymax sighed. “Okay. Losing the Gryphon was a setback.”

“Setback?” squeaked Mumganba. An curious thing to hear from a lion. He began pacing beside Paelymax as he lectured. “The Ethyscian Gryphon absorbs all negative potentialities that might befall the owner. That means when Billemont directed a battle, nothing bad could ever happen to his plans. We’ve been losing ever since then. That’s not a setback, it’s a catastrophe!”

Paelymax smiled and withdrew his hand from his pocket. In his fingers was an onyx figurine of a gryphon. “There’s another side to the Gryphon’s powers.”

“The Ethyscian Gryphon!” shouted Mumganba. “How did you get it back?”

“Five-fingered discount.”

“Huzzah!” crowed Mumganba. “You’re back old friend! We can turn the tide now.”

“More than that,” said Paelymax, and the delicate, precious item slipped from his digits. It shattered on the pavement. Deadpan, Paelymax said, “Oops.”

“Paelymax!” screeched Mumganba in horror. “You’ve done it again, you fumble-fingered oaf!”

“There is balance in all things, my friend. If the Gryphon is ever broken, all the negative potentialities must find their rightful owner and enact themselves upon him…in a single, horrible, instant.”

“You…?” Realization spread across Mumganba’s features. “YOU! You planned this all along.” Mumganba swatted Paelymax across the shoulders.

“Ecascus Billemont would’ve been suspicious if I just handed it to him,” grinned Paelymax.

“We must find him and attack at once while he is weak!”

Paelymax pointed to a pall of black smoke and flame billowing above an abandoned warehouse. A passing military plane experienced a major failure. The pilot ejected and the crippled aircraft fell…straight towards the same warehouse. Smoke from a falling meteor scarred the sky as the rock streaked towards the very same, ill-fated, building. Bad luck was finding its way home.

Paelymax grinned. “He won’t be hard to find.”
Each week, the Grammar Ghouls convene for another round of amazing flash fiction. This week, the word prompt is: Bodacious. The media prompt is a painting by and brilliant surrealist and one of my favorite artists, Rene Magritte. It is the splash image for this story. Look here for more stories based upon the prompts: http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-6-open/


About EagleAye

I like looking at the serious subjects in the news and seeking the lighter side of the issue. I love satire and spoofs. I see the ridiculous side of things all the time, and my goal is to share that light-hearted view.
This entry was posted in Short Fiction and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to Fumble-Fingers – Grammar Ghoul Press

  1. Lyn says:

    Bodacious…what a great word! You’ve woven a great story out of a picture and one word. Love it πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Suzanne says:

    I love this! So creative and cleverly woven. You did a great job making Paelymax and Mumganba’s relationship seem old and comfortable, like a true friendship. And I love all the little touches, like Mumganba lifting his tail out of the way of joggers, or putting his dinner-plate paw over his eyes. Wonderful work! πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • EagleAye says:

      Cool! Their relationship is thousands of years old so I wanted it to “feel” that. Glad the touches added to the story’s depth for you. Thanks so much for the kind words. I really appreciate that! πŸ™‚


  3. Shannon says:

    Their relationship dynamic is fantastic, I love the Lion’s personality traits, and the way that they interact together. The way you melded the old school storyline, with modern parlance, leading up to that terrific, karmic ending was just wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • EagleAye says:

      Thank you! I had hoped their dialog would be fun and move the story along. You’re right, the storyline is classic Fantasy taking place in modern times. It’s that blending of old and new that makes the new genre, Urban Fantasy. Glad you liked the ending. I wanted it to be quite spectacular. And it only gets worse for Billemont. Thanks so much for the read and your thoughts. πŸ™‚


  4. Excellent story! You should do a novel using that setting – it would be brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. AR Neal says:

    I agree with Matthew about the novel. And I’d like my copy signed, please πŸ˜‰ This is a great story about two ehem, old, friends in a relatively new world. Great work!


    • EagleAye says:

      Hehe! Absolutely. You’ll get a free signed copy, πŸ˜‰ They are very old. They must be true friends since they’ve known each other so long and haven’t gotten sick of each other. Glad you enjoyed it, and thanks so much! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Yes, a novel is definitely in order. Love your take on the prompts, and the five-finger discount is hysterical! Good writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • EagleAye says:

      Hehe. Among other things, Paelymax is an accomplished thief. Thieves like to say they don’t steal, they get a five-fingered discount. πŸ˜‰ He knew all along he could get the Gryphon back. Glad you enjoyed the story, and thanks for stopping in! πŸ™‚


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