Yesterday I was texting our contractor about some budget items when my phone autocorrected my sentence to: “Once we have the nuns we can decide”. I chuckled and corrected “nuns” to “numbers” before I sent it, but the phrase stuck in my brain because it really sounded like a flash fiction prompt.
So here goes:
Nun For Us, Please
“Once we have the nuns we can decide when to perform the ritual.” Zaz raised her carapace and ruffled her iridescent wings in a show of confidence.
Chith eyed their acquisitions, antennae drooping with doubt. “I don’t know…” Squealing and grunting from inside the pen made her spring back with a chitter of alarm. “Are you sure?”
“Magic brought us here. Magic will take us back,” Zaz said with more certainty than she felt. “The incantation I overheard mentioned us by name and talked about going home, so it has to be the right one.”
“It didn’t say ‘Zaz and Chith’,” Chith objected.
“Well, no, but it said ‘Pik’ee’ over and over. An incantation that repeats our race in every line is obviously about us.” Zaz ruffled her wings again. “So all we need now is nuns.”
“You said ‘nun’ when you first told it to me, not ‘nuns’,” Chith argued. “Maybe we only need one, and we’d better get it right. If we hadn’t been so careless last time, we wouldn’t be in this fix.” She peered into the pen, her mandibles drawing back in revulsion. “I hope nuns aren’t like this. These are so noisy and smelly. Are you sure they’re the right thing?”
“This is what the human male with the face-fur showed me when I told him the incantation.” Zaz drew herself up on her hind legs to deliver her newfound knowledge with authority. “These are pigs. Nuns are some kind of special human, so they should be cleaner.” She hesitated. “Though the furry human was actually quite smelly, too.”
“Are you sure he wasn’t lying? Because that…” Chith indicated a malodorous lump beside the pigpen with a contemptuous mandible-click. “…is either a joke or an insult. Or both.”
Zaz’s thorax bristled. “It’s human food. The cooked muscle of an animal; a ‘cow’, the furry human said. I can’t help it if it’s disgusting; the incantation required it.” Her thorax hairs wilted a bit. “It didn’t smell as bad yesterday, though.”
“It must be rotting. We’d better hurry up and get our nun.” Chith backed away from the pigpen. “Do you know where to get one?”
“Yes, the furry human showed me.” At the skeptical dip of Chith’s antennae, Zaz bristled again. “I’m sure he wasn’t lying. He was very religious. When I spoke to him, he ritually smashed a beautiful shiny vessel of liquid and prostrated himself to pray to his deity.” She paused, one antenna cocked mischievously. “He said ‘Please, God, I swear I’ll never drink again, just make the giant talking bug go away’.”
Chith clacked her mandibles in amusement. “Let’s go get our nun.”
Sister Mary Agnes made the sign of the cross and gave herself a firm mental reminder that all creatures were precious to God.
“I’m sorry, I don’t quite understand,” she said faintly to the two huge beetles standing on the convent doorstep. “Exactly what do you need me for?”
“I told you, for a magic ritual.” The larger beetle, Zaz, buzzed the words by modulating her carapace over her vibrating wings. “We are small Pik’ee and we want to go home. The incantation says we need a nun. We have roast beef, and pigs, too; though I’m not sure about them. The incantation didn’t mention pigs, but the furry human said ‘definitely pigs’ so we got them just in case.”
“And this incantation…” Mary Agnes asked with rising trepidation. “Where did you overhear it?”
“A human female was teaching it to her young one. Like this.” Zaz recited:
This little Pik’ee went to market
This little Pik’ee stayed home
This little Pik’ee had roast beef
This little Pik’ee had nun
And this little Pik’ee went
Wee, wee, wee, all the way home.
Mary Agnes closed her eyes in a short prayer for strength, then drew a steadying breath. “I’m afraid I have bad news for you…”
* * *
P.S. And now I want to write a joke that begins, “A nun walks into a bar with two giant talking beetles…” 😉
Anybody else want to have a go at it? Please do! Write a flash fiction piece of 750 words or less using the prompt “Once we have the nuns we can decide”, or tell a joke about a nun and two giant talking beetles. If you have a blog, post it there and link back here; or else drop your joke or story in the comments below. Have fun! (You retain full copyright to any joke or story you post here.)