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Favorite Meal

by Tyger Schonholzer

“You fixed my favorite meal,” said the ogre, and for once he looked pleased. With a mighty swing, he tossed his knapsack on the ground and plopped down on the tree stump to eat. He ate noisily, with much lip-smacking, and ran his tongue along his upper teeth in a way that made me want to gag.

Eating is what ogres seem to do best, although it is torture for civilized folk to watch them, even when we don’t know what’s in the stew. And I had been forced to watch him eat for weeks now, ever since my capture.

He spat out a giant mudgrub and it landed on my left foot, making me jump to shake it off before I’d feel its teeth rake across my flesh. Mudgrubs are poison to humans, even after they are cooked, and it had taken all my courage to collect the slimy things this morning out in the bog.

“Not done enough!” he barked. I sighed. There was always something.

His name was ‘Uggh’ or something like that, rather difficult to pronounce. I had heard it a few times, but he made me address him as ‘Master’. In my hatred of him that seemed even harder to do.

I had cooked a big pot of stew in hopes he would eat for a long time. Perhaps he would go right to sleep and wouldn’t make me clean out his toenails after the meal.

“What’s in the knapsack, Master?” I asked, not out of curiosity, but wary from experience. The sack was moving and usually he brought something dangerous.

He wiped his muzzle with the back of his hand and shook the dribble in my direction. I didn’t dare duck.

“Open it up and see!”

I approached the knapsack cautiously and he watched me with sadistic glee. Ever so slowly, I untied the string and eased open the mouth of the sack. Tempted by freedom, a furry head appeared, working its way out of the sack. I shrank back, but then...

“Fuzzy!” I cried, astounded and delighted, as my big orange tomcat squirmed out of the bag and scurried into my waiting arms. How did the ogre find him?

Fuzzy dissolved into a mass of purr and I nuzzled him joyfully. I smiled up at the ogre through tears of gratitude, silently asking forgiveness for hating him so. There was some kindness in him after all.

“Lunch tomorrow,” he said and my heart turned to ice. I hugged Fuzzy against my chest and vowed secretly that it would never happen. This was the end of the line for me.

Gently, I put Fuzzy back into the knapsack and closed it as determination and courage surged within me. When I stood to face the ogre, I had my emotions under control.

“Ready for seconds, Master?” I asked deferentially, and he handed me his bowl without a word. I kept my back turned toward him while I ladled the stew, hoping he wouldn’t watch too closely. Quick as lightning, I slipped my hand into my pocket and retrieved the only thing I knew of that could kill an ogre: talcum powder. I shook the whole bag into the bowl and stirred carefully. I had made the stew spicy enough to cover any scent or flavor the powder might impart.

He ate the whole bowl before he noticed. By then, the poison had seeped into his blood stream and was beginning to squeeze his evil heart. “Uggh,” he gasped, clutching his chest and I smiled at the irony of his name.

“Call to the giant Uggh in the eternal fire pit, for all I care,” I snapped, suddenly brave, as I watched all five hundred pounds of ogre sag to the ground. “I should have done this a long time ago.”

Without looking back, I plucked Fuzzy out of the bag and headed down the road toward civilization. Fuzzy crouched on my shoulder and hissed and spat viciously at the dying ogre.

Copyright © 2013 by Tyger Schonholzer

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