Categories > Original > Humor1 Reviews
How Riley stole fire.
Hide quirks a grin as he raises the can to his lips. The beer tastes bitter; he never really likes drinking the stuff, but it's always on hand whenever he comes over to visit. Those are always the times that he doesn't mind the flavor.
"I'm tellin' ye," the redhead insists, waving one hand emphatically in the air. "It's the honest-to-God truth! I'd swear it on me Ma-" And this time, Riley flashes a grin that's thrice as wide as Hide's. "-That is, if I ever had one."
With a snort and a roll of his eyes, the blonde downs the rest of his beer.
"Next thing you'll tell me is that your real name's Prometheus."
"But that's the interesting thing, see?" Riley chooses to use just the one hand, this time, his finger waggling dangerously close to Hide's nose. "Because I really did steal fire first - way back when there was none save that which scorched the woods and turned forest into ash. Back before anyone knew to write or to read, back before the horse was broke or the dog whelped by man's hand."
And even though Hide rolls his eyes again, he shuts up. Sometimes it's more fun just to hear what new story is begging to be told. Or at least it's a great deal less threatening to his person.
"Long, long ago, see," Riley continues, as if nothing's happened. "The world was dark and cold. 'twas a hard life, and the need to survive just made it even harder. Neither beast of burden nor faithful hound was even ye frien-"
"I thought you said this was before livestock was domesticated," the blonde cuts in.
But he's promptly silenced again when that waggling finger raps him soundly on the nose. "Who's tellin' the story here, eh? Ye just shut up til I'm done, hear?"
They match each other scowl for scowl. There's no venom in either's expression. Riley takes a swig from his beer before continuing.
"As I was sayin', it was hard, cold time. The worst winter of them all had fallen across the land, and it looked to be months- years- decades even- before it'd finally abate." Listening, Hide crosses his arms and settles back on the couch; his nose can't take much more abuse so he tries humoring the redhead. Again. "So finally after thirty days of frozen night, a council is called in the desolate wasteland - not too far from here, as a matter of fact."
Hide doesn't point out that a desolate place wouldn't have enough people to call a council. Nor does he ask just who among the mounds of snow and ice attended.
"There was a great deal o' back an' forth debatin', about just what we should do, or where we should go, or who we should call on for help. But in the end, no one could right make up their minds, and so we were no better of than when we had started." Riley made a sweeping gesture with his free hand. The other deftly maneuvered the can to his mouth. "But there was one thing that everyone kept talkin' about, and that was /fire this/, and /fire that/, and /oooh if we had fire we could all outlast this frozen hell!/"
Shooting the redhead an almost-interested look, Hide asks, "So, what, you took it upon yourself to save the world and rub two sticks together?"
"What did I tell ye about who's tellin' the story here, eh?" Riley cuffs at him once with his free hand, but there's no force behind it and his fist only manages to knock a few hairs back into place.
"Yeah, yeah," and now the blonde's grinning almost as much as he is.
"After everyone left the circle and went on their merry little ways back home, there was just Crow an' meself left to enjoy the bit of snow falling down on us both. We didn't say much - didn't say anything, really, now that I think about it - and we sat there for a good day or two just thinkin' about what had been said. And then I turned to him and said, 'Crow, you know what we should do? We should steal that fire before anyone else can. Right from the sun. Just because we can.'"
Riley's eyelids fall shut, and for a fraction of a moment Hide thinks he's decided that napping is more important than finishing his story. Or explaining why there's a sun if it's been midnight for a full month straight. "And then Crow asks me, 'Well, how do ye plan on doin' that, eh? Why, ye've got no wings to fly with, or talons to hold onto the thing!'
"But, ye see, it didn't take long for me to convince him to just give me a ride - just a short one, see? - so that I could get close enough to jump from his back and snatch the sun from the very heavens above. So up, up, up, up he flew us, past the trees and the mountains and up through the clouds beyond. And then, right when he was getting too tired to carry me any more, we could see the sun above us - all bright and dancing up there in the sky, like it's got not a care in the world. So then I jump up off of his back and leap from cloudtop to cloudtop til I'm right up there next to it!"
Hide almost says something right then- then remembers just who is telling the story and just what his idea of plausibility is.
"And I take a big bite out of it, all hot and searing and burning like the pits of Hell before turning tail and jumping back down again - from cloud to cloud to cloud - and then back onto Crow's back. Except!" Riley snaps open his eyes and brings his fist up so fast that the blonde starts at the gesture. "Except I've caught both meself and the poor old bird on fire! And I said to him, 'Bloody Hell, get us down there before we're burnt to cinders!' But we're already falling, falling down fast to the snow-covered land below, and there's nothing stopping either o' us. We're just a giant fireball fit to hit at full speed! And WHAM! That's just what we do!"
Riley tips back his can and finishes the second half of his beer in one fell swoop. When he sets it down again, his grin is toothier than ever.
But when he doesn't say or do anything else, Hide finally takes the bait. "So what, is that it? You caught him and yourself on fire, then fell to your deaths out in the middle of nowhere?" He catches the gleam of the redhead's fangs right before a heavy arm is draped across his shoulder.
"No, no, no, see. We didn't die/, though we left a good-sized crater where we landed. But that /is how I single-handedly stole fire before anyone had ever tamed it, and how I managed to wipe out all o' the dinosaurs in one go."
There's a moment of dead silence before Hide snickers. He doesn't bother to point out that the Ice Age happened after they had gone extinct and not before, or that coyotes and crows weren't even around for another few epochs. Or any of the other countless impossibilities and holes in Riley's tale.
Because, even as he shakes his head, Hide catches a glimpse of those fangs again and that smug look in the redhead's eyes. And for just a moment he can't help but wonder if some part of that story is actually true.