Guide to Moral Living in Examples: Muddy Lawns

The crocodile gained sentience.

"What?" he growled, staring at the other crocodiles lounging around him in the dark. An avalanche of tiny red scorpions spilled out of his mouth as he spoke.

"Hunh?" he growled. More scorpions. He coughed and hacked and swung his head too and fro like he had just caught a snack. Scorpions scattered from between his teeth. Then a beam of light fell from the slit of blue sky visible above the crocodiles. The light illuminated the muck that the crocodiles wallowed in. Scorpions climbed in and out of the mouths of the other crocodiles.

IT IS I, REPTILION, AND I GAVE YOU THE GIFT OF THOUGHT SO THAT YOU MAY SPREAD MY WORD.

"Can I do nothing but growl?" growled the crocodile.

SPEAK SOFTER.

"Okay," the crocodile said. "Hey, this is pretty neat. Do I have a name?"

YOU ARE MY CHOSEN. YOUR NAME IS CROCODILE JONES.

Crocodile Jones thought about this, and marveled that he could think.

"What am I supposed to do as your chosen?" Crocodile Jones asked.

But he received no answer, for Reptilion demands cleverness from his prophets.

"Hhhmm," Crocodile Jones said aloud. "What to do as a hyper-intelligent crocodile? I know! I'm going to find out what's up with the mouthfuls of scorpions. Also, these other crocodiles smell like shit."

Crocodile Jones began walking through the muck, now as dimly-lit as ever without the divine beacon from above.

"If only I could see what I was doing," Crocodile Jones thought. He saw the light from above, and began climbing towards it. At first, the mud was too wet and too slippery. He would slide down a foot for every foot and a half gained. But as he climbed, the air grew sweeter and he stopped hearing the squishy crunch of scorpions beneath his claws, and with renewed vigor he reached the top lip of the wall and flopped over it onto green, soft grass.

Only a large oak tree swaying in the breeze protected him from being stricken blind. As it was, he cringed in the bright light even has he lay on the softest, sweetest smelling surface that he'd ever known. After a moment he looked around, squinting as his eyes adjusted.

He realized that he'd been living a circular moat. It protected a small, bland house. Inside, he saw a man snoring in an easy chair. Crocodile Jones walked across the grass, marveling at how it felt between his mud-caked claws, and leapt through the plate-glass window that separated him and the man.

The man started awake, mid-snore. "Hunh, wha? Those damn kids back?!" he yelled. Then he saw the hulking shape of Crocodile Jones hunched on his expensive rug.

"What the hell are you doing up here?" he said aloud.

"Enjoying not being in a moat," Crocodile Jones answered.

The man nearly leapt out of his skin.

"Y-you can talk!"

"I can. Reptilion has appointed me his prophet. I have discovered that my journey is one to find out why my brothers and sisters carry scorpions in their mouths."

"To keep those damn kids off my lawn. They kept running up to my door and ringing the bell during my afternoon naps! Once, they lit a bag of dog doodie and put it on my porch!"

"That is no reason to fill our mouths with poison."

A scorpion leapt through the broken plate glass window.

"And no reason to cage us in those repellent cages!" it hissed.

"Enunciate clearly," Crocodile Jones said.

"Thank you, Scorpion Carrier," the scorpion said. "I was going to led my followers against the Carriers, but now I wonder if this man isn't the cause."

"Has Reptilion given you sentience?" Crocodile Jones asked.

"No, Arachnius has granted me the powers associated with one of his prophets."

"I do not know him but I'm sure I shall. Now, man, what say you?"

The man sweated. He'd bred the crocodiles for their aggression and the scorpions for their lethality, and then combined the two. Though he'd never seen what they could do, they'd kept the kids away, and that's all that mattered. His lawn. His precious grass.

Then he saw what toll Crocodile Jones' excursion had taken upon his precious lawn. The edge was ragged from where he'd tried to find purchase, and the disgusting mixture of crocodile leavings and mud trailed all the way from it into his broken plate glass.

"Nooooo," he bellowed, leaping through the plate-glass window. He pulled a pair of tweezers and a tiny brush from his pocket and, kicking his shoes off to protect the lawn despite the broken glass that cut his feet, he leapt through the window and began cleaning and orienting the blades of grass.

"Just as we kept the kids off of his lawn, perhaps he should return the favor," mused Crocodile Jones, "and keep suspicion away from us. I am not certain of the ways of this world but we cannot be interrupted until we've spread the word of Reptilion.

"And Arachnius."

"And Arachnius," Crocodile Jones said, his eyes narrowing.

The Moral: If you're not careful, the moats filled with crocodiles carrying scorpions in their mouths that you own end up owning you.

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