My name is Draug. I’m a student of Master Rue of the Vengeful Wardens Monastery in … um … some place warm? I forget the name of the land. I don’t remember a lot of things very well. Big Brother Otimo says I’m stupid. Master said that might be true, but he also said I was wise which means I can see the truth of things without having to look hard. Big Brother is wise too, but he has to look harder than me. Hehe.
Big Brother isn’t bigger than me. He’s actually smaller. That’s because I’m half of a ogre and half of a human. Otimo is half of a giant but his other half is half of a dwarf. I don’t even want to know how it was possible for me to be made so you can guess I really don’t want to know how he was made. I imagine a lot of screaming was involved.
People usually laugh at that part of the story.
I don’t know why. It sounds horrible.
Anyway, I guess the dwarf in Big Brother makes him smaller than me. He’s strong like me though, just smaller. Believe it or not I’m faster with my hands though, which is weird because my hands are really big compared to everyone else’s.
My fists are really big too. Scary big.
I wanted to tell you about a time when everyone was making fun of me. I think it is important that people hear this story because at first it made me really mad, but now it’s funny. So now when I get mad, I think about this story, and it makes me smile a little.
Big Brother and our friends were all on a boat. A big boat. It had huge sails and a bunch of people on board. It was fun to watch them run around and do all sorts of things like climbing ropes, pulling ropes, tying ropes, coiling ropes, cutting ropes … they really loved ropes.
There was one lady, she wore blue pants and a white shirt. Well when she wore a shirt, it was white. She was really nice to me. She would climb the middle pole of the ship to a bucket at the top. She would climb in and looked all around the sea. I don’t know for what, but I bet it was pretty. I really wanted to climb up there and sit with the lady, but Big Brother said I was too heavy and I might break something.
When Big Brother said he found us a ship to take us to the new place, I was surprised. Me and Big Brother are usually told to go away with very colorful words made serious by the pointing of swords and bows. So when the captain said he will take us and our friends on board, I was surprised. When I saw the captain for the first time, I figured out why. The captain was a monkey.
“No,” Big Brother said, “Captain Blu was an ape. Monkeys have tails.”
Captain Blu didn’t have a tail, but he did have four arms. One arm had no hair because of a fire or something, but Captain Blu covered the hairless arm in tattoos. He said something about turning cut rope into string or something. I think it meant to turn a bad thing into something better. It would have been easier to just say that though. Not everything has to be said all fancy.
Captain Blu was really smart, and he seemed to like to pick on people less smart than him, the stupid ape.
OK, I might still be a little mad.
Anyway, one day we were close to a city when he was talking to his crew. I laughed at something he said, and he looked at me like I punched him or something. It wasn’t my fault. He was the one that said ‘duty’ and made it sound like ‘doody’. How could I not laugh?
He looked at me and said that he doesn’t have room for idiots on his ship. I said I was a little slow, but I wasn’t a dummy. So then he asks if I could count.
I sighed, because counting is hard for me. Master tried to teach me once. I know two full hands are supposed to be ten, and once you run out of fingers you are supposed to start again with eleven. Next time is twenty or something. I know these things, but I can only get to eight, one number for each finger. Big brother has one more finger on each hand, so he could get to ten, but I never really figured it out. He always counted for me so I just stopped trying to learn it.
But now this big smart monkey, sorry … ape, was challenging me to count. I couldn’t run away. We were close to shore, but I didn’t want to swim for a mile to the city that we were going, and I didn’t want to look like a coward. Master always said trying was most important, so I tried.
But I sighed again too.
I used my fingers, “Thumb is one, two, three, and … um four.”
Captain Blu said, “Further than I expected. Good, good.”
Everyone else was quiet.
I looked up to see everyone was staring at me, so I quickly looked back down. I started to sweat a little and switched hands.
“Um five, six, seven, and um thumb is …”
But then I got really nervous. What was the next number? Ten because two hands is ten. But what about eight? I know I have eight fingers not ten. Isn’t there another number too?
I just stood there looking at my big stupid hands.
“T-eight-en?” I asked.
Captain Blu and everyone laughed at me, even the nice lady with blue pants and sometimes shirt. I got really mad and sad all at once. I went and sat where I wasn’t in the way and just wanted to break something. And scream. And maybe cry a little too. Mostly I wanted to run away and punch something for a long time.
I still felt bad when we approached the dock at the city. Big Brother said the city was a good place for people like me and him. We wouldn’t scare anyone if we didn’t do anything bad, and people would treat us close to normal. Right then, I didn’t care either way. I just wanted to be away from the captain.
As soon as the boat got close enough, I got up and started running to the side of the ship nearest the dock.
Captain Blu yelled at me, “First one off the boat has to pay the fee.”
I smiled. I was happy to pay just to get away from him.
I can jump a long way so it was easy to reach the pier. Despite being big, I landed softly and started walking toward the city as fast as I could without running.
That’s when a little man stepped in front of me. He had tiny squinty eyes, a pointed nose, and scruffy hair everywhere. His teeth were long in front too. I stopped in front of him and wondered if it was possible to be half of a squirrel. He held a big open book and stared at me like he wasn’t smaller than me at all.
“You. You there. That boat is docking, and I don’t care if it’s still a dozen feet from the pier yet, nobody and nothing gets into the city until the fee is paid. Ten silver. You got that big man?”
I told the little man that yeah I had that. I started to go for my coins, but the little squirrel man had to keep talking.
“Can you even count to ten, fella?”
I don’t remember the rest.
When Big Brother found me in the woods outside of the city later that night, I had knocked over three big trees by punching them over and over again, and I was working on a fourth. When I knocked over that one I stopped for a rest. Big Brother told me that he saw what happened from the ship. I said I couldn’t remember so he told me. He said that I was talking to the little man and then turned bright red. Then I held both of my big beefy fists in front of the little squirrel man’s face and I yelled, “TEN!”
Big Brother then said that the man fainted, and I walked over him and disappeared into the city.When the squirrel man woke up, he said he was really sorry for insulting me and our fee was waived. Big Brother even said Captain Blu was impressed with my quick thinking. He said that even though I couldn’t count to ten right, I knew how to use my numbers. He invited us for drinks at the pub if Big Brother could find me.
It seems I wasn’t a idiot after all.
© 2016, Joseph K Little. All rights reserved.
[…] written one short story and posted it to my site, “Draug Counts to Ten.” My first draft was over two thousand words. I cut it down to under fifteen hundred, but […]