Day 18: Not a Creature Was Stirring, Not Even a Beast

by pjmcbride

Because today is St Nicholas Day, I was going to write a poem about his namesake–“An epic poem?”–Nick interrupts me. “Like Beowulf or the Aeneid? Something that tells of my terrible deeds?”.

“No. More like Jabberwocky, actually.”

“OK. As long as they have to beware of me.”

I sigh. Anyway, as I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, I’m not going to write the poem–“Would you write it if I bit your foot?” Nick interrupts. I frown at him, and he lays his head back down. Anyway, I’m not going to write the poem because, since the revelation of his all-too-human origins, Nick has been pestering me with theological questions, and frankly, it’s making him hard to work with.

“What kind of a man was I? Was I good-looking? Did I still have retractable claws?”

Semi-retractable,” I correct him.

“Did I still have hair on my back?” (He currently has patches of down among his scales, as if he’d tried to evolve into something warm-blooded, but the project hadn’t worked.) “You’re not saying much. I might have to bite your foot after all.”

“You know,” I blurt out, “you should be glad you weren’t turned into a beast that couldn’t speak.”

His horrified expression makes me feel guilty for having said it. It’s not the pretend-horror he uses to get what he wants. It’s real fear at the thought of being silenced. But I remember Operators’ Rule #1–“Show no weakness! These intelligent beasts are extremely observant of body language.” I sigh again, nevertheless.

He crawls on his belly toward me–there’s something oddly both pleading and menacing about it–and says, “And…could the spell be reversed?”

Steadying my voice–those teeth are very close to my foot, after all–I say, “I don’t know. I really don’t.” And it’s true.

He regards me steadily. I keep remembering the Rule Book–“The ability to maintain eye contact is crucial to your ability to maintain control.” He does not look away, but does lower his head to the floor–an incomplete act of submission, if you will.

He then says softly, “And…are you the sorceress who made me as I am?”

I don’t answer him–I can’t–and then the glittering eyes slowly close.

S.G.’S 18TH POST, 4/18/13–Theater of Cruelty: Cruel and Unusual Nick

–Nick and I had a misunderstanding.