A Day or Two in the Life

by Michael Bard

September, 707 CR

Roger, the giant snail gardener, twisted an eyestalk and glared. The thing was still there. It nagged him! All the week it'd taken him to work the length of this section of the garden, it nagged him! One little weed, a dandelion it looked like, growing out of a crack in the bottom of a walkway arch.

It tasked him! And he would have it!

With that, he put his hoe back into its rack on his shell, and began a slow movement towards the offending weed.

The sun rose. The garden warmed. Dew glistened. The weed got closer.

A bunch of children ran into the garden. "You there! Careful of the—" Roger winced as they trampled through a bed of daisies. Damn children! Never watching where they're going! Pulling out the hoe, he shook it at them. "You just wait! I'll catch you and then—"

The children laughed and fled, their final act being to throw a straw-stuffed ball that bounced off of Roger's shell. He thought about spending an hour going back to pick it up, but the weed was more important. And, he was going to take care of that damn weed if it killed him!

That night he slept, almost below the arch, curling up in his shell where it was nice and warm. Dreams filled his head, dreams of tomorrow when he would deal with the damn weed once and for all!

Waking up, he took a long gulp from the canteen on his shell. Almost empty — hopefully the supply run would meet him today. He hated living off of dew. Behind him his trail glistened in the dawn sunlight. Some rain would be nice as the gardens could really use it.

Crawling up and onto the pebbled walkway, the individual stones scratching against his foot, he cleaned up the edging as he crawled by. He hated going on stone — a few feet were fine, but after a while, the tickling just became annoying. And it would be a largely wasted day today too, as he'd be out of range of any of the thousand other maintenance tasks that needed doing.

It was halfway to noon by the time he reached the fieldstone wall and started crawling up it. Fieldstone was much more comfortable — smoother, kind of a silky top. He didn't mind it, though grass was still better. At least it wasn't like the time he had to go into the rosebushes. He shuddered, eyestalks jerking back and forth. Better not think of that.

The sun had made the stone pleasantly warm by the time it was vertical in the sky. He tasted the air, yes, winter was definitely on the way. Not for a few months yet, but he'd better start heading back for home now. He hated being stuck in hibernation through the winter. His shell was still bruised from the assault last winter when he'd been used as a bowling ball to break up some lutin formations. Or so they'd told him later when he'd awoken with a splitting headache.

Half way up now and the weed was almost within reach. He could see it, taunting him, ridiculing him, messing up his nice gardens.

Ironshod boots clattered on the stone below, and something inhuman and lutin-like growled, turning at bay. How had it gotten loose inside the keep? Roger just prayed that the curse wasn't mutating as he had enough trouble keeping the rose subspecies properly cross pollinated.

Almost at the weed now. Almost—

More voices, and Roger watched through one eye stalk as a giant foxtaur bounded into the archway, horrid axe swinging. The lutin had time for half a scream before his head was cloven off, and that damned Misha starting hacking off the ear for a trophy.

"Who's going to clean up that blood? You're the one who spilled it!"

"You all right?" Misha asked.

Roger grumbled and turned away, glaring at the hateful weed. So close. He turned back to Misha, and waved his hoe. "You just clean that up, you hear!"

Misha snorted, finished his grisly work, and dragged the lutin corpse off.

Youth these days. Not so much as a thank you! Hmph!

And— ah hah! He'd made it! Take that you damn weed you! Thought you could get away from me, did you?

With that, Roger pulled out a short shovel and dug the weed out of the crack it was growing in, making sure to get all the root. Last thing he needed was for the damn thing to grow back.

Holding the battered weed up, or was that down since he was now almost at the top of the arch, Roger turned his eyestalks towards the setting sun. "Victory!"

A few birds cawed in the distance.

Roger curled up to sleep. Tomorrow he'd get back down, pick up any scraps of bone or flesh that the pest Misha had left, and then he'd go back and get that ball.

Damn kids—