The crash was followed by the tinkling of broken glass on cement. Woody looked up from his midnight snack of pseudo-wine and formerly-cheese-like-substance and groaned. “Again? Really? That’s the third velociraptor this week.” Nobody was there to listen, he just liked to hear himself talk. Buzz wouldn’t be back from the future until next week sometime. Help with the velociraptors would have been nice, but Woody didn’t miss Buzz incessantly complaining about the food. It wasn’t Woody’s fault that shipping stuff through time made it taste funny. The special insulated capsules they used for people were far too expensive to use for food, except on special occasions: the birthday bar of chocolate, the New Year’s champagne and real cheese. Woody had tried shipping in a bar of chocolate by regular container. The smell of the orange slime had instantly convinced him to wait until his birthday in August.
Woody washed down the fluorescent green cheese with a last sip of perfectly clear wine. It still tasted like a merlot, but the alcohol had gone the way of the color. The cheddar? He actually liked the transported cheese better than the original, but only if he didn’t look at it. He was sure he’d seen it wiggle once, even if the boffins said that was impossible. Living things could only travel in the insulated capsules.
He put his empty plate and glass in the sink, then grabbed the spade that was standing by the door. Woody peered through the heavily-reinforced glass set into the heavily-reinforced door. Finishing his snack should have given the automatic systems enough time to take care of the velociraptor. Lately the defense systems had been leaving bits of the carcass behind, thus the spade. Buzz had utterly ruined a broom once; a spade worked a whole lot better, especially if you hosed everything down after.
He couldn’t see anything moving, and it was definitely time to clean the other side of the door. The glass was awfully foggy. Woody wished again that the garage had been as well-reinforced as the main living quarters. He was so tired of chasing critters out of it, or worse, shoveling them. Not that he wanted to chase velociraptors. They were only about fifteen kilos, but they were insanely fast, and those teeth were sharp. One of the first guys out had brought his dog. Woody had seen the video. The company had fought awful hard to keep it off YouTube, but if you knew what to look for you could find it. He thought it should be part of the official training, but the company disagreed.
Yep, there was the carcass, cut into several pieces and with that stupid tail sticking up. Woody unbolted the door and cracked it open. It had sounded like this one took out one of the windows, and something else could have come in. Not much that would fit through the window would follow a velociraptor, but so many things would come to the blood.
No sound, no movement. Looked like none of the little scavengers had snuck in yet, or any of the bigger ones either. Woody needed to get that broken window blocked off. What dimwit at the company though the garage needed windows, rather than reinforced steel? They were just about all covered anyway; maybe soon he’d be free of midnight velociraptors.
He traded the spade for a sheet of plywood. Getting the outside sealed out was more urgent than getting rid of the carcass. Woody got the window covered quickly, plenty of recent practice. He’d add some more screws in the morning, but that should do for now. It wasn’t going to stop anything determined, but should keep out the riff-raff. He’d have to request some steel sheet during the weekly conference call with the company, enough to cover all the windows.
Woody pitched the last spadeful of velociraptor out the door and sealed it. He’d hose down the floor and walls in the morning, along with the spade. He leaned it up against the wall by the slop sink, and only then noticed that his rosebush was missing. Not the pot, the improvised container and all its soil sat tucked behind the sink where it always had, out of the way so nobody would notice it, but near enough to the door that he could slide it outside for a sunbath when nobody was around. But all the greenery was missing, stems and all.
Woody bent slowly to retrieve a petal fragment from the floor. That bud never even had time to bloom. It would have been the first ever rose, the first flowering plant for that matter. He had smuggled a slip inside his pants, the thorns digging into his inner thigh for the whole interminable trip. Buzz knew, had gently touched the puncture wounds one evening before Woody switched off the light, but he’d never mentioned the plant itself. He did distract the company inspector once, though, drawing his attention to something on the other side of the garage when the inspector was looking too closely at everything.
The velociraptor must have eaten it. Right? Those sharp little teeth could chomp off a rose stem. Right? Surely nothing else came in tonight, nothing following the velociraptor, or leading it, nothing that would eat a rosebush, or drag it off outside, or introduce alien plants into a world they’d never evolved in?
Those were just stories, right?
It’s been a long time since I did a speed flash story. The game: I solicit ideas on twitter, then have an hour to write a short story that incorporates all of them. Sometimes it works remarkably well, sometimes (as today), it falls rather short. But it’s always fun.
@evilrooster – a missing rose
@thc1972 – Woody and Buzz slash
@mishellbaker – a bump in the night
@marjorie73 – cheese, and a spade
I like the setting, but the story really needs to be longer than I had time for.