In the not-too-distant future, two guys decide to shoot down delivery drones on route to Wizards Hill. What could possibly go wrong?
My neighbor Kyle is not the brightest man you’re likely to meet. I’ve seen him shut a window without first pulling his head in, and that takes a special kind of stupid. But he’s family, seeing how he’s married to my cousin KellyAnn, so when he comes by with a case of beer and the urge to shoot things, I generally go along. Around here, that’s how we do.
We drove toward Wizard Hills, him yammering on about the new duck blind he’d built and all the things he planned to shoot down.
“Them too,” he said, “but Bobby, you know that warehouse down by Littlefield? The big bookstore? They got a new flight path goes right overhead and--"
“Hold on," I said. "I thought you promised KellyAnn you wouldn’t shoot down any more drones.”
“Who’d you think sent me?” he fired back. “You know how that woman likes to read. She wants this new book—fornicating werewolves or some such. It’s flying off the shelves, she said, and told me don’t come home without a copy.”
Well then, that was that.
We walked a ways into the woods, him with the guns and me hauling the beer cooler, and pretty soon we were a stone’s throw from the river. Say what you will about Kyle, but there wasn’t a thing wrong with that new duck blind. We settled down under the oak-bow roof and opened a couple of brews.
After a while Kyle spotted a drone. He hit it first shot and sprinted for the spot it looked likely to land. He came back with the package and tore into it like a kid on Christmas morning.
Inside was a six-pack of Spam, some fancy kind with bacon mixed in. That figured, what with Wizard Hills being so close. Those people never can leave good enough alone.
It’s not fitting for a grown man to giggle, but that’s the only word for the noise Kyle was starting to make.
“What is wrong with you?” I said.
“Spam! Somebody’s getting Spam in the mail!”
“Hello? Spam mail?”
I rolled my eyes so hard it’s a wonder they didn’t fall out. “I’m gonna need another beer.”
Three beers later, the next drone came by, but this one wasn’t flying solo. A crow-sized dragon flapped alongside. A red one. The fire-breathing kind. Some wizard wasn’t taking any chances on this package getting where it needed to go.
“Not that one,” I said, catching Kyle’s arm. “There’s a dragon flying shotgun.”
He shook me off and fired two shots before I could call him a damn fool.
“Got ‘em both!”
And just like that, we had us a dead little dragon, a package that held a jar of red powder and a smashed carton of these big, flame-colored eggs. And somewhere, close enough for a little dragon to fly without stopping to take a breather, we had us one pissed-off wizard.
Kyle dipped one finger into the red powder and gave it a taste.
“Eye of newt,” he said, so sure of himself you’d think he’d had a bowl of it for breakfast.
“Brother, you are in for a world of hurt,” I told him. “You do know that dragons are generally familiars, right?”
“Well, sure. Everybody knows about them these days.”
“A wizard’s familiar, you moron! As in, anything that dragon saw, the wizard knows. We’ve got to get out of here.”
Kyle just blinked at me. Maybe there were some gears turning in that head of his, but I wouldn't put money on it.
A big puff of smoke came and went, and there stood an old man wearing faded jeans and one of those pointy hats. Purple lightning jumped from his hands and surrounded Kyle in a burst of light, as quick and bright as what you get when somebody throws bourbon on a bonfire. When the light faded, I was sharing the duck blind with a pig.
Now, that wasn’t ideal, but nothing good ever comes of letting dogs or wizards know you’re afraid. So when the wizard turned my way, face like a storm cloud and hands still sparking purple, I gave him a polite nod and took a slurp of my beer.
The electricity shut off like somebody threw a switch. “Son, you sure don’t impress easy.”
I shrugged. “Been farming all my life. Where pigs are concerned, the awe and wonder faded some while back.”
That amused him, but his smile faded at the sight of those smashed eggs. “That’s real inconvenient. I got dinner guests coming for phoenix eggs, deviled with some of that cayenne pepper.”
“Guess I’ll have to make do.” He looked Kyle over like he was deciding between pork chops or barbecue.
“Got you covered,” I said, and handed him the six-pack of Spam.
The wizard’s eyes lit up. “That’s real kind of you, son. This’ll save me the trouble of butchering.”
“Not something you want to be doing the day of a party.”
“Plus, some folks get squeamish about eating former humans.”
“There is that.”
The wizard touched the brim of his pointy hat and took off in another puff of smoke. When that cleared, the pig gave out a snort and nosed at the can in my hand. I poured the rest of the beer into Kyle’s hat, seeing as how he wouldn’t be needing it anymore, and while the pig slurped that up I sat down to give the situation a good long think.
Kyle was a pig, and there was nothing to be done about that. I’d keep him, of course, him being family. Truth be told, he made a fine looking pig. Having him around the farm would likely result in happy sows and prize piglets.
But you know what? That just didn’t seem right, what with him being married and all.
By the time I finished off the last beer, I had things figured out. KellyAnn’s a damn good shot, and she does like to read. I bring her out here to bag herself some books, she pisses off one wizard or another and poof! Two pigs.
That’s not what I’d call an ideal solution, but around here, family sticks together.