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Everyday Drabbles #556: Following the Tracks

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The carriage reined to a stop next to another track in the snow. The hunter got out and examined it in the early morning light
“She’s been this way,” he said to his companion. “Recently.”
The track wasn’t so different from any other bird. You could mistake it for a chicken or a turkey if you discounted the fact that it was large enough for a man to lay down comfortably inside.
“Come, Lawrence.” They had to hurry. The cyptozoological gardens opened in an hour, and if the terror bird wasn’t back in her enclosure, it would be their heads.

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Everyday Drabbles #555: Contract Negotiations

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The sorcerer paced outside the circle, chanting the last of the spell. The salt burned blue for a moment and a twisting column of black smoke appeared inside.
“Why have you summoned me, mortal?”
“I wish to rule over all the earth!”
“Of course,” the demon replied. “And where would you be beginning your reign?”
“Er, Ohio.”
“What are the schools like?”
“What?”
The demon sighed. “Taking over the Earth is a long-term project. If I head this for you, I need to think about relocating, and I don’t want my spawn getting a substandard education. Shall we talk salary?”

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Everyday Drabbles #554: Drawn To Life

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There was a legend in the art community that the secret to the ultimate talent lay hidden in the Redstone Hills. As a result, the region became flooded with aspiring artists whose vision exceeded their talent.
Local galleries found a willing market for the amateurish landscapes in the community of painters and treasure hunters. But the secret remained a mystery.
But one day, Maurits went out into the cliffs with a canvas and returned on the back of a gigantic stone-scaled dragon.
It seemed anyone could paint the hills, but it took a true artist to bring them to life.

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Everyday Drabbles #553: Malicious Compliance

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The engineer was hauled out of line by the commander and pushed to the ground.
“This isn’t what I requested,” he said, pointing at the monstrosity in front of them.
“It’s a robotic eye, isn’t it?” He managed.
“It’s twenty feet tall!” His captor roared at the terrified prisoner. He pulled out his laser pistol and pointed it at him. “Do you think me a fool?”
“It’s just a prototype, sir. We can miniaturize it, but it will take time…”
The commander holstered his gun. “See that you do.” The engineer had bought himself another day to plan his escape.

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Everyday Drabbles #552: Gibbeting

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After the queen executed her prisoners, she had them put on display outside the gates, as a warning to others who would attack her.
But rather than hang them from the wall and letting them rot, she had the skeletons stripped and staked in the ground like scarecrows. She ordered her gardeners to scatter carefully chosen seeds at their feet.
In the spring, stems climbed up her enemies’ spines, and wildflowers blossomed among their ribs. Butterflies landed delicately in their empty mouths and eye sockets.
“Just because we are terrible, does not mean we cannot also be beautiful,” she said.

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Everyday Drabbles #551: Cobra Benefits

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After losing his job, his former employer sent him a cobra. After narrowly avoiding springing coils and venomous fangs, he trapped it in his bathroom. Then he called someone to complain.
After an awkward and confusing conversation with a third-party benefits provider, they eventually connected him with the HR department. The woman who answered seemed remarkably calm and unsurprised by the arrival of a live snake.
“When I signed up to COBRA, I thought it was, you know, a continuation of my insurance.”
“Normally, it is,” she said. “But our organization places a great priority on tying up loose ends.”

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Everyday Drabbles #550: Below the Ruins

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He found the old robot hidden behind an access grate in one of the lower tunnels. It was in perfect condition, and there was even a manual!
After a night of long, difficult labor, he managed to get it back to his study. He propped it in a corner and got to work deciphering the instructions.
He didn’t realize the thing still had power until it booted up and straightened to attention.
“How long has this unit powered down?”
“Er, a long time,” He managed.
“Did we win the war? Is the Earth free?”
He hated giving it bad news.

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Everyday Drabbles #549: Stakeout

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They sat on the roof opposite the target and cased the joint. It seemed like an easy mark. The older one thought it looked too easy.
The younger one stretched and started pacing. He was always full of nervous energy, especially before a job. “It’s a simple smash and grab. They’ve got the goods laying right out on the street. It’ll be easy!”
“No,” his partner disagreed. “They wouldn’t put merchandise out front like that unless they were ready.”
Across the street, the owner of the fish stall noticed the pair of cats staring. She went to get the hose.

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Everyday Drabbles #548: The First Tree

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For the first few decades, nothing much grew on Mars. They’d gotten the atmosphere right, tinging the sky a pale shade of blue. And they seeded the dirt with helpful bacteria and nutrients. But for a long time, the planet remained habitable but barren.
Until one engineer finally figured out the secret, modifying a single seed to grow in the rocky soil.
News of his breakthrough spread quickly, and colonists came from all across the planet to see a living tree.
He had to erect a bubble around the plant. Not to protect it from the environment, but the humans.

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Everyday Drabbles #547: The Prestige

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“And for my next trick, I’ll need my lovely assistant to turn around.” The magician grinned lasciviously, and the audience ate it up.
Morgan’s plastic smile didn’t waver. She always hated this part of the act, but he insisted on performing it. The audience jeered as her partner prepared to pull a dove from the back of her dress.
She waited until his fingers, clammy despite the hot stage lights, brushed her back before she flicked the palmed switch. The hidden compartment opened, revealing not one but two dozen irate birds.
It was time he knew what real magic was.

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