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art by M.S. Corley

All Kinds to Make a World

Georgina Bruce is a writer who lives in Edinburgh. Her stories have been published in Strange Horizons, Shimmer, and Interzone--and now in Daily Science Fiction, as well. She keeps a website at www.georginabruce.com.

***Editor's Note: Adult Language***
It's not like we didn't try. A little tentatively at first, a little too gently, I'll admit. We'd never done it before. We hadn't even seen one, only heard them scratching around in the bushes at night. But we understood what we had to do--it's our duty as citizens and all that. And after a while, we really got into it. I had the big stone mallet from the shed, Bridget had the kitchen knife, and we got into a rhythm. Smack, stab, smack, stab. And Bridge went a bit crazy, going stabstabstabstabstab, and then I took over with the mallet, gave it a good going over. It was brutal, honestly. So it should have died right there and then.
But--and this is what I'm trying to explain--it didn't. Wouldn't. It lay there for a bit, twitching the one spiny leg, rippling its wings in a feeble kind of way. It sucked in a tiny, pathetic breath, and we thought it was definitely about to expire. But when it breathed out, it opened its eyes. Looked right at us.
Bridge was screaming, die you fucker, and other stuff, but I held her back. I wanted to see what it would do, if there was really anything it could do. The table was covered in blood and slime and bits of fur and stuff, you know, like tripe or something. I mean, it looked like we'd smacked and stabbed all the insides out of it. Seemed impossible for anything to carry on after taking a beating like that. We even felt a bit sorry for it--well I did, anyway. But the tough little thing, it put out its two tiny flippers--put them against the window and pulled itself upright. Well, I assume upright, it was hard to tell. And its face was so comical, with the big watery eyes looking up at us.
No, no, I wasn't laughing. Definitely not. I mean, if I was laughing, it was probably the shock, you know? We're both totally serious about this. Bridge would be here too, but, well, as I explained--yes, I'm aware of what our responsibilities are, to the government, yes, absolutely. We know the law. And there's no suggestion of control, no influence of any kind. I mean, we read those pamphlets, and we're not worried about that. We know our own minds. It's just--the thing is--we really tried. I swear. We killed it for days. I shot it myself, with my dad's hunting rifle, but it barely winced. Then Bridge, she borrowed the neighbor's hedge trimmer, and we thought it had done the trick. But the damn creature carried on. It grew some of its bits back, even. I mean, in weird places, right? The wing coming out of the middle of his back now and the tail on his head, and the legs are different lengths. But this little fella is tenacious, I'm telling you--
Well, no. Obviously it could be male or female, we wouldn't know the difference. We started referring to it as him, just naturally. After all the killing, it was like we sort of... connected. You know? And Bridge gave him a name--Eric--we thought that was cute. And once he had a name, well. Look, I know he's one of them. I know it's quite uncommon, but it does happen, it's not unheard of--we saw something about it on the Internet, another couple like us. And the thing is, we got to thinking. I've got the adoption paperwork ready, and it's only a question of a doctor's signature, to say we're in sound mind and there's no medical reason why--
Oh, thank you, thank you so much. That's great. I know, you can't promise anything. A government inspection, full medical, of course, anything you say. Bridget'll be so happy. We've tried so long to have a--We could bring Eric in, too, if you'd like--oh, no well, obviously, I understand. Yes, the screeching, I know. Some people don't really... Well. It takes all kinds, though, doesn't it? All kinds to make a world.
The End
This story was first published on Monday, June 24th, 2013

Author Comments

The critter in this story reminds me of my old cat, John. He was snaggletoothed, ugly and lumpy, but you couldn't help but love him. Never tried to kill him with a chainsaw, of course.

- Georgina Bruce
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