Sunday January 29th, 2017

The exercise:

Write about: the park ranger.

Had a family walk at Haynes Point this morning, which Max always loves. I wish we could get him out there every day. At least now that the weather is gradually warming up we'll be able to do it more often.

Split and hauled firewood this afternoon. Felt good to get the (non child related) exercise and hopefully we're stocked up to last us a little while.

We have almost reached the end of January. It always seems like a tough month to get through in these parts. Not that February is all that much better, but it is one more calendar flip closer to spring.


The carcass had still been warm when he had reached it and it hadn't taken long to spot the trail of fresh blood leading away to the south. They must have heard him coming, which made for rushed, messy work.

Good, he'd thought with a grim smile. That would make tracking the bastards even easier.

Once he caught up with them a decision would have to be made. The gun slung over his shoulder was loaded and well used, perhaps more than was strictly necessary for his post. But he needed to do something to pass the time, and as a result he was a very, very good shot.

Would he need it today though? These were desperate times, and black market prices were skyrocketing. The poachers could be grizzled veterans of the trade or baby-faced first timers, driven to drastic measures by the loss of a job or even an unexpected medical bill.

Regardless of which category those he pursued belonged in, the taste of the coppery air on his tongue as he moved quickly through the woods was all the reminder he needed to know that they deserved to be brought to justice.

He just hoped that it would not be directly at his hands. Unless it proved to be extremely obvious that this was not their first poach.

In which case.... well. Practice does make perfect, as they say.


morganna said...

Ready to defend the country
Against more than fire or flood
Our trusty park rangers
Also stand against fascism.

Greg said...

@Morganna: I like the sound of your park rangers and am amusing myself by imagining the kinds of signs they might post around the park to help protect against Fascism. There's a very natural flow to your poem and the last line makes its point firmly but without fuss. I really like it.

@Marc: I think a lot of people have troubles with January, at lesat in the Northern hemisphere, but it is one of my more favoured months. Possibly because other people stay indoors more :) Still, having the firewood all sorted sounds like a good achievement for the day!
I like the matter-of-factness and the slightly grim determination in your piece today; your ranger seems like the kind of person who blazes their own trail and adheres to a rigid code of ethics and morals -- someone you might admire while still being careful to not get on the wrong side of. The only thing that makes me still curious, is what they killed... there's just a hint in your tale that it might not be an animal.

The park ranger
The park, at this point, was a rolling field of green grass shin-high in most places. It was still early summer and it hadn't started to go to seed yet, so there was also minimal insect activity. The sun was still high in the sky, but starting its afternoon journey, and over to the west was a stand of trees that it might eventually hide behind. To the east the land crested and turned into a high ridge with only blue sky visible beyond it. From the North trudged the henchling, and in the middle of the field were Bill and Ben, gentlemen thieves.
They were dressed tidily: black t-shirts, grey cargo pants, beige track-shoes and latex gloves, and they were crouched over a mid-sized hole probing something that looked a little like a bomb. As the henchling got close enough to see it a look of dread crossed its face and it stopped dead.
"Henchling!" Bill sounded pleased that they'd arrived at last.
"Is... is that a bomb?"
"This? Hah, no, it's a time capsule. Buried here fourteen years ago by civic dignitaries of Industrial City, back before it became a ghost town. Due to be opened in eighty-six years time."
The henchling looked relieved, and scratched at a fresh, livid scar on their arm. "We're stealing it?"
Ben tsked. "Stealing is such an emotive word," he said. "Liberating is nicer. Or relocating. Or maybe 'situational improvement'."
"And we're doing none of those things," said Bill. He inserted a long pin into a tiny hole at the top of the capsule, pressing firmly until there was a faint, but sharp, click. "We're just borrowing from it."
Ben removed a stethoscope from his pockets and put it on and started listening to the capsule. "Left," he said, and Bill made adjustments. "Right a touch, maybe half a smidgen."
"What are we borrowing?"
"A map," said Bill. "Shows the location of the park stranger."
"Can you believe how untrusting people are?" asked Ben. "Right again, only be careful. I think there's an extra chamber in there -- if you go too far it'll lock solid."
"Park stranger?"
"Industrial City felt that park rangers were too friendly and welcoming," said Bill. "They built park strangers instead; a portmanteau of strainer and ranger. Interesting concept, and we have a buyer."
"Some say they just had a rather severe and unusual dictionary," said Ben. "OK, just the poison gas capsule to disarm and we're good."
The henchling started backing away.

Marc said...

Morganna - ah, thank you for this. I had forgotten about the Trump vs National Park Services thing when I chose the prompt. Nicely executed as well :)

Greg - not sure if that bit of Trump news made it out your way, but if it hasn't I think you'd be even more amused if you do a search for Trump vs National Park Services :)

I left it open as to what the carcass actually was, but I think in my mind it was a bear while I was writing it.

I like 'situational improvement' best, I think :) And the dialogue here doesn't disappoint, as it never seems to when these guys are involved.

I am impressed that the henchling doesn't seem especially harmed in this episode! Not yet, anyway...