Something Is Rotten In Goldport

It was a bright and stormy night.  Moonlight glinted off the snow-packed streets, sparkled from the falling flakes, and found an echo in the strings of lights around parking lots, in the lights around lightpoles, and in the light shining from the windows of a diner in Downtown Goldport.

Though the area had recently started on the upswing of gentrification,only that one diner at the corner of Fairfax and Pride was open during what would become known as the New Year’s Blizzard of 2015, the worst in Colorado history.

People inside wore snow boots and draped a multitude of jackets and coats on the back of chairs and booths.  There was no motorized traffic except for emergency vehicles.

Behind the counter a very young man was cooking on a vast industrial range.  A bandana confined his long black hair.  His T-shirt had a picture of a dragon in the back and the words “I rise above.”

One of the waiters, an Asian man, wore a similar t-shirt with a red dragon and the inscription “burn them all”.

Suddenly from deserted parking lot there was a sound of something heavy hitting.  Something say of the rough tonnage of an airliner, but more… meaty.

A young woman yelled from near the back door.  “I can’t believe this.”

Okay, this is written on the fly and is NOT (repeat not) shifters canon.  However, if any of you want to finish this story, just remember it ends with “we’ll never speak of this again.”  Have fun.

44 thoughts on “Something Is Rotten In Goldport

  1. The occupants of the diner walked out wondering what had just hit. There laying before them was a vast steaming pile of dragon feces. Even in the bitter chill and driving snow of the blizzard, the smell was eye-watering. So warmed my the great internal fires of the dragon who dropped it, the pile sat there, any snow that hit it melting immediately.

    Shocked (and more than a bit sickened by the odor), one by one the diners and diner employees made their way back inside.

    The cook turned to the waiter and said, “We will never speak of this again.”

  2. … this is written on the fly

    Dan must be very proud and no wonder you’re such a smug woman.

  3. Jansen looked up from his copy of “The Way The Future Was.” His date for tonight’s screening of “The Creeping Terror” was already three chapters late, but looking at the smoldering handbag laying just outside the fulsome dragonheap, he realized it didn’t matter. The shit had clearly hit the fan.

    The cook turned to the waiter and said, “We will never speak of this again.”

  4. Jansen looked up from his copy of “The Way The Future Was.” His date for that night’s midnight screening of “The Creeping Terror” was already half an hour late, but, looking at the smoldering purse laying beside the pungent dragonheap, he realized it didn’t matter. The shit had obviously hit the fan.

    The cook turned to the waiter and said, “We will never speak of this again.”

  5. so far we have…

    The cashier looked out the window, and without a word reached over and turned off the sign reading “All You Can Eat.”

    The occupants of the diner walked out wondering what had just hit. There laying before them was a vast steaming pile of dragon feces. Even in the bitter chill and driving snow of the blizzard, the smell was eye-watering. So warmed my the great internal fires of the dragon who dropped it, the pile sat there, any snow that hit it melting immediately.

    Shocked (and more than a bit sickened by the odor), one by one the diners and diner employees made their way back inside.

    Jansen looked up from his copy of “The Way The Future Was.” His date for that night’s midnight screening of “The Creeping Terror” was already half an hour late, but, looking at the smoldering purse laying beside the pungent dragonheap, he realized it didn’t matter. The shit had obviously hit the fan.

  6. A figure came unsteadily into the lighted parking lot, and through the diner door. He looked like a California surfer gone to seed with his unkempt blonde hair and the pallor under his tan. He sat, a little unsteadily, in a corner booth, clutching the edge of the table and easing himself down.

  7. A waitress came up to the surfer-looking dude. She was a little unsteady herself, but she had her orders. Cassie was a slave driver, and she had said. “I don’t care if the world is coming to an end out there, you wait your tables just the same.” So Denise asked him, in a quavering sort of voice,
    Can I get you anything? Something to drink”. And, because she couldn’t help herself, “what’s going on out there?”
    Eric looked around at the diner. “I don’t suppose you have anything near strong enough. Give me a lemonade, them.”
    He continued. “I don’t know. It looks like a regular convention, out there, though. Things flying around. Dozens of them. Swooping down, scaring people. Some fool took a shot at one of them, and it turned faster than you would believe and roasted him. Horrible. You don’t have anything nearly strong enough in here.”

  8. The waitress turned and looked nervously out the window. “Lemme get that lemonade for you,” she said, taking the excuse to scurry back into the imagined safety of the kitchen.

    The blond man stared morosely at the parking lot, absentmindedly pulling a charcoal briquet out of his coat pocket and nibbling on it.

    “Stomach trouble?” Jansen asked.

    “Something I ate disagreed with me, ” the man said. “It’s still putting up a fight.”

  9. A new customer slammed into the diner yelling into his cell phone, “Dammit, I TOLD you to keep him home until he was trained!”

  10. The old grey haired man sitting at the end of the counter took a slow sip of coffee, wiped his expansive moustache and cocked his head at the cook, “We going to go through this again?”

    1. I hereby cast my vote in favor of an October theme.

      I’ve been to the desert in a month with no theme.

  11. A young woman yelled from near the back door. “I can’t believe this…the cargo plane bringing more meat just crashed into our stockpile of give-away dragon t-shirts.” Crazy Pete, the owner, envisioning a nice insurance settlement, immediately donned his flame-proof suit and pushed the self-destruct button under the front of his desk. As the large red numerals on the wall display started to count down from 10, he chortled quietly to himself: “We’ll never speak of this again.”

  12. OK, here’s my feeble attempt. I am not a writer (except of history papers), but I figure it can’t hurt to try excercising the little grey cells. Be kind.
    She came in and headed straight behind the counter to the fridge, taking out a slice of lemon. As she popped it in her mouth the cook shook his head and muttered into the sizzling pan in front of him “That’s for onions”.

    “I heard that. But if you’d smelled that pile of …. I don’t know …. out there, you’d try anything too. Do you have a better suggestion?”

    One diner with a strong stomach and a stronger sense of curiosity got up and walked out the back door, handing her a eucalyptus cough drop as he went by. A few minutes later he came back in tell the small crowd that it didn’t look like any of the few cars had been damaged (much), and the pile made him think of either the very, very early stages of a very, very large owl pellet, or what his cat presented him with after eating too much field mouse.

    The cook went back to preparing the omelet he had been working on, while wondering out loud what species’ digestion worked this way, or whether someone just felt unwell, and the Asian cook went into the small staff area pulling out his cell phone as he closed the door.

    On his return he nodded to the cook, turned towards the seated diners, and solemnly announced “We will never speak of this again.”

  13. Unknown to Crazy Pete, now out at the barbecue pit in his flame-proof suit, the programmer of his self destruct system was a big fan of Galaxy Quest. When the countdown reached 1, it stopped.
    Unfortunately for the give-away dragon t-shirts, which were not flame-proof, the cargo plane had caught fire, adding the exquisite smell of burning meat to the heady aroma of the offal pile. One of the customers, nodding to another regular solemnly announced, “We will never smell of this again.”

  14. Oh, dear, I am too late to the party, everyone started without me. My thought train began with:
    The Asian waiter rushed to the door, then stopped suddenly just outside its frame. Leaning back in, he called to the cook, “Hey, dude, there’s a GRRM out in the parking lot. Great white bloviators are YOUR problem, not MINE!”
    (Yes, I did wake up cranky. Perfect mood for going off and sauteing a hapless pilot that pulled a cowboy, come to think of it. That chapter may actually get finished today…)

  15. The pilot of the plane was a large man, clearly from Texas. In a cowboy drawl he exclaimed, “What is that giant white slug crawling in the parking lot?” Casie Lou, the cook was coming out of the diner. “A great white bolivator is what. They always associate with piles of offal and John Scalzi.”

  16. Another man came into the diner. He was short and stocky, and his beard came down to his stomach. He was also wearing chainmail, and a cap with metal reinforcement or trim. He brushed the snow off his shoulders., and took off his cap. He was partly bald. He stamped his feet, looked around, and headed for Jansen. He spoke to him in a language that sounded rather like gargling, for about two minutes. Jansen waved at Eric and said something in the same language. The fellow who looked like a dwarf looked at Eric and gargled again, in what managed to sound like a dismissive tone. Jansen said something. The dwarf shrugged his shoulders, sighed loudly, put his cap back on, and walked back out.
    Everyone was staring expectantly at Jansen. He closed his cell phone. “All right, everybody, you can calm down. That was… never mind, I can’t pronounce his name in English. There’s been some kind of overlap of worlds. Communications with the outside are shut down. The elves claim it’s temporary. There aren’t dozens of dragons, there are seven of them, and the guy who got flamed was neither from this world nor human. But he was a fool. Everything should be back to normal in about half an hour, tops.” He turned and walked out of the diner. No one said a word, except the cook, whose one word was “Shit.”
    Cassie, who in spite of her youth managed to boss everyone in the place when she was in, had come out of the kitchen. She turned to the Asian waiter and said, “I still don’t believe it. None of this weird stuff really happened. We will never speak of it again.”

    1. “You seem to know a lot about this shit,” A heavyset man in a Tractor Supply Company gimme cap and Mossy Oak windbreaker said. “You some kind of expert.”

      “Not really,” Jansen said. “I’m more of an event coordinator. And there’s gonna be hell to pay at the Dead Dog Party.”

  17. The grill man looked up and said, “Oh shit, it’s Angie”, breaking into a run for the door as he becomes scaly. The Asian waiter quickly follows. As they cross the parking lot, they grow wings and become larger. The cook runs straight for Angie, while the waiter scans the sky. Seeing two Apache helicopters coming in fast, he leaps into the air, flaming them. The cook screams, “Help me, she can’t fly”. As the two dragons carry their friend away, one of the other waiters takes over the grill while dialing his cell. “Yeh, Joan, can you come in early?, we’re a little short handed.”

  18. Curious at the indignant incredulity in the young woman’s voice, and with a faint tingle of unease, the young cook hurried to the back door.

    Looking out on a parking lot swirling with snow, and occasionally obscured with ever thicker curtains of flakes, all he saw was a mess.

    The clean lines of natural drifts were broken and scattered, snow and ice kicked up into piles and ruts. Several wooden barrels were scattered about, some large, some small and tumbled every which way. Off to one side the collection was a bit thicker, and the outline of a large net they might have tumbled from could seen here and there in the powder. But the centerpiece of this disaster, a disaster that would have to be cleared before anyone could use the space for a car, really drew the eye.

    Lying amidst the barrels in an undignified sprawl were two field dressed carcasses, muscle and fascia gleaming in the hard lamp light.

    The young cook and his companion stood in the doorway, cautious. Even as he felt the small crowd gathering at his back, angling for glimpses and muttering questions, he held still and scanned the night. In the face of recent events, any ambiguity in the scene faded before the feeling of threat.

    A hollow bang against the dumpster ratcheted the tension and he felt the startlement ripple through his customers. The keen edge of fear brushed lightly down his spine.

    And then a giant popped up from behind the dumpster, a stack of muscle layered with fat. Red hair and beard dark enough to seem brown in the shadows. The man, surely hitting seven feet, walked toward the crowded doorway. His chunky leather boots shuffled through the snow coating his jeans in powder. His dark shirt pulled tight across a broad chest and a belly only slightly narrower as he pulled his hair back and tied a series of loops down the length of a thick tail, one that probably hit him mid-back when complete.

    The sight of the man did not ease the tension in the diner in the least. The young man eased out of the doorway, checking left and right as he did. He took a few paces forward, making some room. A little more room than a guy his size might seem to need. The young lady joined him a few steps to the right and they waited for the giant.

    And waited. Several yards off the huge man had paused, focusing all his attention on tying his hair. A bit of the tension bled away as the watchers realized the huge man was having a little trouble coordinating his fingers. What looked like it should be a practiced and casual maneuver had turned into a jumble, and the man was pulling the cord back out and starting over.

    Glancing to his right he saw his companion cock her head slightly to the side, breathing deep through her nose. He snorted when he realized what she’d be smelling. He worked a late-night shift in a diner, he’d seen this sort of thing. The guy had gotten tangled up while trying to walk and tie his hair at the same time. A little more tension eased away. He wasn’t relaxed, but the immediacy had gone out of the moment. Some of the sinister character of the scene clarified, other possibilities, less — dramatic possibilities, took a little more weight.

    Finally tying off the cord and tossing his hair over his shoulder the giant moved forward, again. Pausing only to right one of the large barrels. One handed.

    Maybe more tension was okay.

    Stopping about ten feet away, the man stretched to his full height and clapped his hands, booming “So! Heard there was going to be a great battle! Thought I’d get in on that!”

    Carefully, the young man responded, “You’re a bit late.”

    “Ach, well… A friend called, said she needed some help with — uh — this, ahem… well with this thing she wanted to do.”

    As the stranger’s voice faded down into normal volumes the young man peered closely at his face, wondering what he talking about. He was pretty sure he saw a blush creeping out of the man’s beard.

    “Anyway!” the giant continued, “I was little tied up, missed the festivities as it were. But surely I’m in time for the party?”

    The young woman asked, “Party?”

    “Sure! A celebration of the battle well joined, and rightly concluded. Brave folk marched forward to do what they felt must be done, yes? To stand, and be counted? Such deserves a drink!”

    The young man felt a new tension draw his shoulders back, and he said, “I’m not sure the fighting is done.”

    To his surprise the giant laughed, not a hearty laugh, it was too dark with a bitter hint at the edges, but a full one. “No, you’re right. There’s always another battle, and another front. The campaign goes on. But this battle is done! And there is time for merriment, for stories and bold tales. I’ve brought whiskey and ale. I even found some fine mead. Oh! And the moose! I brought moose. Someone else gets to quarter them, though. Hard enough to carry when they’re all of a piece.”

    The young man and woman stared at each other for a moment, then she gave a tiny shrug. He turned back to the large stranger and thought.

    Then he stepped through the snow and stretched out his hand, “All right — friend. I think we can find a place on the grill for some fresh meat. And I don’t suppose anyone is going to look for a liquor license on a night like this. Let’s get these things inside and see what merriment we might get up to.”

    The big man took his hand and gave it warm shake, then leaned in to say in a more normal voice, “Sorry about the mess. I was fortunate to find a good mead, and I really felt I should sample it before bringing it along. And well… it really is a fine mead! Hope we can keep this between us. Ice Wyrm, ya know. Be a terrible ragging if it got out I slipped in the snow.”

    Stifling a surprised laugh, the young man said, “I think we can manage to keep a secret.” Then he turned to wave to the crowd at the door. If there was going to be a party, they could help with supplies.

    Behind him, he heard the young woman asking, “Viking?”

    “Nah. I’m from Wisconsin.”


    As to what happened next — we’ll have to abide by the words of the young woman as she stood in the center of the diner looking around as the first faint light of dawn touched the ice shrouded windows. Seeing people slumped in booths or on the floor, a veritable menagerie of animals scattered among them, and one large Wisconsinite sprawled on the counter between empty barrels, snoring, she turned to the young cook and said, “We’ll never speak of this again.”

  19. The young woman returned from the parking lot, shaking her head, puzzlement furrowing her brow. She walked up to the Asian waiter and whispered in his ear, animatedly gesturing towards the back door. He stared at her with obvious disbelief, then stalked out the door himself.

    He returned a few moments later, his face drained white with shock. He made his way behind the counter to the cook and asked him, “Eagles drop turtles to crack their shells right?”

    “Yeah, I think I read that in a book somewhere. Never seen it myself, though,” replied the waiter, while turning an order of hash browns.

    “How big do you think the eagle would have to be to drop a turtle the size of a minivan?”

    The waiter paused, lost in thought for a moment. He handed the spatula to the waiter and went out back to look himself. When he returned, he unlocked the storage room, then brought out the diner’s largest pot, the one he usually only used at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

    After placing the pot on the range, he got out the cleaning hose and started filling it. He then started sharpening the biggest knife the waiter had ever seen. It wasn’t a knife, so much as a short, curved sword. Where did that come from.

    Done sharpening the sword, the cook called out to the patrons, “The new special tonight is turtle soup, five dollars, all you can eat!”

    Ignoring the hoots and exclamations from the small crowd in the diner, he beckoned for the waiter to return. He handed him the short sword and whispered, “I know you’re good with a blade. Don’t give me that look. Start carving the best chunks of meat out of that mess back there. When you’re done, I’ll help push the pieces of shell into the dumpster. Be quick about it, and there’ll be a $20 bonus for the work.” He went back to slicing onions, then paused, looked the waiter in the eye, and said, “And after tonight, we’ll never speak of this again.”

  20. At first, neither the cook nor the waiter answered – they were too busy worrying about the shelves full of rattling plates and shaking foodstuffs falling over. The light fixtures danced about, making the dining room look rather like a disco with the moving shadows and reflections from the shining chrome trim and well-polished sugar dispensers and place settings.

    In the quiet that followed, however, the lady dashed back out into the main room. “Look look look” she gasped. And the two workers looked and gasped as well, as the shining moon was eclipsed and the snow crunched under heavy, approaching footfalls.

    Only one patron was there to enjoy this show on the snowy night, and she alone was unperturbed, calmly sipping tea with nutmeg. The moonlight flooded back in on her still form and quiet features, and only then did she set down her mug and fold her hands.

    The others just stared. The door swung to slowly with the dingle of the small bell hanging just above the frame – but nobody came in except a long, clawed finger. Behind that peeped a glowing eye, as if Sauron himself had come over peckish for an omelette at midnight. And behind that came a smoky voice calling, “Milady.”

    “Hello, Lethborg.” The patron’s words were as presice as her movements. “Shall I come out?”

    “It would be for the best,” said the voice.

    Milady rose smoothly and proceeded to the door, which the claw held open for her, and stood perfectly framed, still as a carving, silhouetted by the eye for a long minute. No-one else moved. The waiter suddenly thought to himself that he should get his phone from behind the counter – “#mfinDRAGON #nofilter” – but the thought left him strangely cold. It seemed rude somehow. If a dragon lord and a queen of magic chose to meet during a terrible blizzard in the dead of night, who was he to ruin their incognito? And nobody would buy it anyway.

    The bell tinkled again as the claw swung open the door again. Milady was opening a very ordinary-looking clutch, extending a plain five-dollar bill to the dumbfounded workers. “Uhh…” stammered the waiter. (Smooth, Jamie! REAL SMOOTH!) “That’s OK.”

    “It’s our pleasure, ma’am,” the cook added.

    “Really, we wouldn’t dream of it,” said the young woman.

    “How courteous,” replied Milady. “But I beg you indulge me.” She left the bill on the nearest table with a smile and withdrew.

    From behind her, the smoky voice added, “Nice shirt,” with the hint of a laugh implied. And the door closed with a bump.

    And that is the story of this particular diner and the framed five-dollar bill behind the register at the counter. The three employees are still there, but do not ask any of them about it; they are agreed, silently, solemnly, to never speak of this again.

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