Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Bread & Cheese

"So, overall, it's not that bad living in a dragon's stomach. Except for Nicholas. He's been acting a bit dodgy lately."

Aaron signed the piece of vellum, rolled it up, stuffed it into a bottle, and threw it into the puddle at the other end of the dragon's stomach. From there, he knew, it would see the light of day. Then he walked back towards the small living room that he had set up with Nicholas and plopped onto the couch.

"When do you think he swallowed that, then?" Nicholas said. He was drinking a beer. Probably the beer that Aaron had snatched from its inevitable march towards the rectum. It was his beer. How dare Nicholas help himself.

"Dunno. He seems to eat all sorts of things."

"Well, at any rate, I saw you writing one of your messages in a bottle. I saved you a bit of dinner. Some bread and cheese." Nicholas gestured at the food, nestled inside the former shoulder of a suit of plate armor.

"It's always bread and cheese." Aaron felt the bread. Cold. He hated cold bread. Standing up, he took the bread over to the patch of open flame that constantly burned in the dragon's stomach. He skewered the bread on the end of one of the swords that were always laying about and held it close to the flame.

"Because that's normally what knights have on 'em, isn't it? Easy to transport, doesn't really go bad. What I'd like is for a nice, fat knight to ride up, one with some real big armor. He'd probably have some mutton on him. We could make a nice stewing bowl out of his cuirass and let it cook for a while and it'd smell more like an alehouse in here and less like the inside of a dragon."

Oh, god, Nicholas thought. Was he still talking.

"Because the way I see it, we're stuck in here, why shouldn't we be comfortable?"

"I wish that any of the knights would survive. Maybe stay awhile and visit."

"I think that the knights do survive."

"When they go down the other end of the stomach? Nicholas, that's how you get turned into a bit of poo."

"Sure, but you think that your silly old bottles survive. What if they're all bits of poo?"

"Better my letters than me."

"One day, my friend, I'm going to try it."

"You should."

"I'm going to."

"When?"

"Soon."

"That's not really a definite plan. You've been talking about it for months."

"Yeah, well, I have to prepare myself."

"You can be turned into a bit of courageous poo."

"I really wish you'd stop going on about that?"

"What, about how if you go down there you'll stop being Nicholas and start being Nicholas the Fewmet?" Aaron felt his bread. Perfectly toasty. He sat back down and began to eat.

"Stop it."

"You know, the alchemists use fewmets to make black powder. The Royal Musketeers will stuff you down their barrels."

"I said, knock it off."

"You'll be famous for propelling a bit of lead into one of the king's enemies. That will be your legacy. That, and a small, smelly cloud of smoke."

"That's it! I'd rather be a bit of poo than your roommate any longer!"

"Stomachmate," Aaron said.

"Whatever!" Nicholas drained the beer and threw it at Aaron's feet. "There's another bottle for one of your damn letters!"

Nicholas ran towards the other end of the stomach and dove into the pool that always carried away Aaron's letters.

"Good riddance. Peace and quiet.

Aaron enjoyed his bread and cheese. Then he helped himself to some more. And some beers. Then he pulled the couch closer to the patch of flame. Warm and full and groggy from the beer, he dozed.

A rough shaking woke him up.

"What? Oh, it's you," Aaron said, looking up into Nicholas' face. "I had the strangest dream where you wanted to get turned into a bit of poo."

"That wasn't a dream. I'm back."

"You're what?"

"I'm back. The dragon swallowed me again."

"The dragon ate its own poo?"

"No, you idiot, I didn't get turned into poo. It's a bit unpleasant going out but you just hold your breath for a few minutes and look, that's not the point. The point is that you have to leave."

"And why is that?"

"Because all this time that we've been in here we've been causing indigestion."

"I'm not leaving my new life just because the big, scaly bastard that ate me in the first place is now having second thoughts." Aaron closed his eyes.

"Don't be like that. Mistakes were made. She's quite a nice lass."

"She?" Aaron's eyes popped open.

"Yes, it's a she, and we're making it hard for her to sit on her eggs. Have you ever tried to sit in one place for very long when you've got indigestion? It's quite uncomfortable."

"I don't care."

"But motherhood. And children. And, um, the vigor of youth. And motherhood."

"Dragons are not kittens. I am not going to rescue a dragon."

"I feel like you're being a big cuss. We've had our laugh, I've done my share by risking being turned into a bit of poo-"

"Aha! You did believe me!"

"Only a bit. Now it's time to move on."

"You go tell your new girlfriend that I'm not going anywhere."

"You're sure?"

"Yes."

"Okay. We'll do this the hard way."

Nicholas reached into his pocket and pulled out a small handful of confections. He walked over to the puddle.

"You wouldn't dare," Aaron said.

"I just did," Nicholas said, and he threw the mints into the puddle.

A few violent moments later, Aaron and Nicholas sat in the grass.

Nicholas sat up, winced, then reached behind him.

"An unopened beer!" he said, and took a swig.

The Moral: carry a pot for stew at all times because you never know when a dragon will swallow you

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