Okay, so i’m late for last week’s challenge. Really late. In that it is over and the new Friday Flash Fiction challenge on Chuck Wendig’s blog is already up. But, better late than never, right?
Last week’s flash fiction challenge was ‘Something-punk’ – in that you had to write some sort of thing that wasn’t Diesel, Clock or Steampunk. So here I have for you, what i call, ‘Dino-Punk’! (as in Dinosaurs). See the blog post for what the definition of the ‘something-punk’ challenge was. Not sure if i got it or not, but I had fun writing about dinosaurs in any case! 🙂
Tomas didn’t mind his job as a harnesser, even though it was the lowest of the low, it didn’t pay much, and he went home every night with a new assortment of bruises, cuts and bumps. And on days like today, after a heavy rainstorm, went home smelling horrible – a hundred times worse than the worst wet dog. The stench permeated his clothes, and even seemed to soak into his skin, even after the beast had been fully dried with the blast driers.
But even though wet mammoth smelled like the worst thing on earth, and strangely the young ones smelled worse than the other ones, which was what he was trying to maneuver into the drying room right now, he preferred the mammoths a million times more than any of the other beasts that the Council used to help keep the planet running.
As Tomas tried to bodily move the young mammoth into the giant drying rooms, so he could then harness it so it could be used by a Rider to plow the fields, he glanced over his shoulder at a large herd of triceratops which were being ushered back and forth in long lines. He could see the energy storage packs strapped to the sides of each massive animals, though couldn’t make out the wires that ran from the giant canisters to their frills. The Council used Cera’s to harness solar energy – it collected well in their large membranous headpieces, and was funnelled into the canisters to be used elsewhere.
Tomas looked longingly at the Beastmasters. They were able to keep their space from the giants, and avoid the lashing tails and stomping feet. But it was people like Tomas, the harnessers, whose job it was to harness all the creatures for them to be used in their jobs. The mammoths, they were ridden to plow the fields for planting (and also helped with the planting as they could scatter seeds with their trunks), the Ceras were mainly used for harnessing the power of the sun.
Tomas finally led the young mammoth to where the straps were that were used to tie them down in front of the wall sized hair dryers. He was thankful all the Flyers were already harnessed by another harnesser, and they were already out on patrol. He hated harnessing the flying dinosaurs, the pterodactyls, with a passion. It was almost impossible to avoid getting hit with their wings, while keeping far away from their deadly beaks filled with razor-sharp teeth or slicing edges.
He hoped to eventually graduate from a Harnesser, to a Beastmaster, to a Flyer. He turned on the blast drier and waited for the one side of the mammoth to dry, and then un-tethered it and turned it around so the other side of it could dry.
Once the beast was dry, Tomas pressed a large button on the wall. Noiselessly, a door slid open and a young girl came through, wearing the muted browns of a Steerer – one of the people who rode the mammoths up and down the fields, pulling the plows along behind them. She smiled shyly at him as he leaned down and unhooked the stablizing straps, and the girl took the reins in hand, and began to lead the mammoth out the wide door at the end of the drying bay and out into the field. He watched as she hooked a brown booted foot on the stirrup and climbed, with the help of handholds along the top of the saddle, up and on top of the mammoth, and then steered it expertly out into the plowing fields.
He sighed and stepped back outside. High above he could see the large dark shapes of the pterodactyls, flying and wheeling, the riders keeping an eye on everything and everyone on the ground. They were the eyes and ears of the Council. The guards, keeping everyone in line, making sure everyone followed the rules. And Tomas knew more than most, what happened if you broke any of the hundreds of rules written down in the Book of Governance. The Book ruled the entire world. It ruled even the Council itself, who went by everything written in it, to a fault. And punishment for breaking any of the rules The Book, was death.
Most of his family had broken a rule at some point. Sometimes the rules were so trivial, so minor, you didn’t even realize you had broken one, until one of the Flyer guards appeared at your door, wearing skin-tight uniforms the same colours as the flying beast they rode – sometimes brightly mottled, sometimes dark and dull.
So now there was only Tomas and his younger sister, Hana, left.
Tomas looked at the fields full of mammoths, and higher up on the steppes, the hills that rose up, that were dotted with lines of triceratops, that were made to move their frills back and forth in order to capture the most sunlight, to be bottled as energy to power lights, and air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter. He watched as a man whipped a triceratops who had begun to meander off course. He squinted up once more to the ‘dactyls, as they wheeled and screeched, stirring up wind to be harnessed to power things that Tomas didn’t even know about. Things that the Council kept secret from everyone except the Council itself.
Suddenly Tomas wasn’ t content to be just a harnesser. And he definitely didn’t want to be a flyer. He didn’t want to be a spy, a killer. He wanted to stop this, to stop the tyrannical rule that the Council held over everyone on the planet – using beasts to their own end, to help themselves, not help everyone that lived on this world. They lived with the dinosaurs, alongside them. They shouldn’t be using them, abusing them like this! He thought hotly. He took out the long electrically charged rod, that he was supposed to use to keep the mammoths in line as he harnessed them – but rarely did – from the pouch down the side of his leg and pressed the button that brought it to life. He headed in the direction of the Council Houses.