Saving a Friend
Scorpions set about hunting prey. Beetles foraged in the sands. A sidewinder moved in its curious sideways slither, and a mouse slumbered in its hole. All was well with the desert and its inhabitants. They carried on as they always had before. Didier Garand also followed a time-worn script, doing the same thing he’d always done. He talked to his camel, Joe.
“We aren’t looking for artifacts this time around,” said Didier to his companion of 16 years. “We’re looking for someone to give you to. Someone nice, who’ll give you all the dates you want. Someone who will only ride on Sundays.”
Joe snorted and spat.
“Good point. You need exercise to keep fit. Thursdays AND Sundays it is.”
While the doctor in Cairo was elated to meet a famous Egyptologist, the prognosis wasn’t so happy. Didier had weeks, perhaps a month to live. He took it well. At 77 years, he felt he’d lived a good life. Rumor had it that Didier revolutionized the understanding of ancient Egyptian culture three times in his fifty years of study. Most scientists never did it once. He was satisfied with his contribution.
Didier’s only concern lay in what to do with his best friend in the whole world. His camel, Joe.
People laughed when Didier attributed his famous discoveries to his camel. They knew the truth. Didier was just talented at discovery. What they didn’t realize was he wasn’t kidding at all. He’d explain in the complicated lingo of Egyptologists what he wanted. Joe would set off in some unexpected direction, and days later he would stop. He’d tilt his head sideways and blow an unusually large ball of spit onto the sand. Didier would jump off and start digging in that very spot. More often than not, the most unimaginable discoveries lie beneath Joe’s spit.
Didier won awards and medals and even a statue somewhere in Cleveland. All Joe ever demanded was dates. Didier ensured that Joe was well groomed, watered, and enjoyed the finest dates in Egypt. Now, as Didier took the Long Walk into the shifting sands, he asked Joe to find one last thing: a good owner to save Joe from harm after Didier passed on.
“We’re in the middle of nowhere,” complained Didier. “We really ought to be headed towards Cairo, don’t you think?”
Joe stopped and tilted his head sideways. He launched a lugie, of a prodigious size which only camels can produce, onto the featureless landscape. Out of habit, Didier leaped off Joe, and began digging beneath the small lake of spit. Like any scientist, he was careful to spoon the sand away gently, avoiding damage to anything delicate below.
After a few minutes, he unearthed a carved stone plate with what appeared to be a button in the center. Didier mused over this for some time. He’d never seen anything like it. “What’s the point of a button?” he said aloud.
Joe stomped his foot.
“Oh! Right,” said Didier. He fed a date to Joe.
Joe stomped twice.
“Especially hungry today?” Didier gave him two more dates.
Joe rolled his eyes and shoved past Didier. He stomped on the button.
“Joe! What are you doing?”
His words were lost as the sands nearby erupted into the air. Huge dunes were tossed asunder as the desert itself, heaved. The sun disappeared, obscured by a cloud of gold. Didier curled into a ball and covered his eyes until the sound of tons of moving debris finally calmed. When he opened his eyes a shining spaceship of silver, 500 meters long, hovered above the settling sand. A troop of a dozen figures in ornate golden armor stopped before them. “You called for extraction, sir?” said the leader.
“Extraction?” quipped Didier. “You could start with my liver.”
“Step aside, please,” said the leader. He turned back to Joe. “Are you under duress?”
The armored figures parted and a stunning, dark woman in an elegant white dress and ornate golden makeup stepped forward. “Al’Makari. Take Mr. Garand to the ship.”
“What about Joe?” wailed Didier as the armored men escorted him away.
Joe’s head bobbed.
“Okay, but what’s the emergency, Agent 603?”
“I understand he’s your friend. Didier will be completely cured, but this is a gross misuse of protocol. Have you found everything?”
Joe spat on her.
“I’ll take that as a ‘no.’ Keep looking.”
Joe stomped and bobbed.
“No, I don’t. Find a new owner, maintain your cover, and perhaps the next one will have some dates!”
Each week, the collective imagination of the Grammar Ghoul Press meet to conceive interpretations of one word and a media prompt. From there, up to 750 words of flash fiction can be written in answer to the challenge. This week, the word “spoon” and the very funny animated short at the beginning of this post are the prompts. Look here for awesome stories in answer to the prompts: http://www.grammarghoulpress.com/gg-writing-challenge-9-open/