Short Fiction 2014: Hmm

Russell sat up in bed and swatted a large hand at the beeping alarm clock on the small table nearby.  One mighty blow shattered the plastic device. The cheap particleboard side table valiantly tried to stay upright, but the impact was too much. It collapsed into a pile of neatly stacked slabs.

He ran a hand over the stubble on his chin as he yawned. Russell swung his feet over the edge of the bed and stood up. He picked up the folded T-shirt from the top of the dresser and attempted to pull it on over his head. Russell had lined up with the proper hole, which was stretched to its limit, but the shirt wouldn’t give. His right tusk cut jagged little line in that finally relieved the tension and his head popped out of the expanded hole. The shirt stretched taut across his muscular shoulders and broad chest, it covered to just above his navel. None of his clothes seemed to fit anymore.

His staggering steps found their way to the bathroom. Russell turned on the tap and splashed cold water on his face. The familiar face of the orc in the mirror groggily greeted him as he grabbed his toothbrush and went about the long task of cleaning his tusks; they jutted out from his lower jaw and covered his top lip when he closed his mouth. It was a common trait among orcs. As he started cleaning his right tusk he caught sight of his reflection again.

Slowly he reached up and touched his face. The olive green skin orc in the mirror matched his movement perfectly. Russell watched as strong, thick hands reached up to touch his tusks, they were real, the hands and the teeth.

“What the?” His voice was a gravelly rumble. “I’m an orc.”

That was silly for him to say. Of course he was an orc, he had always been an orc, why would he think differently? Russell shrugged and went about brushing his teeth, but the thought kept tickling the back of his brain.

He was an orc.

The argument inside his head would start all over again. Of course he was an orc, he had always been an orc, why would he think differently? It was a sound platform. Perfectly logical, and the evidence was stacked in support.

Except that most of his clothes were too small for him these days.

His eyes flicked to the calendar. He had today off, and that gave him time to do some research. Russell flipped open his laptop and pressed the power button. He had to do it quickly; otherwise he’d accidentally jump into the setup menu. Compact keyboards like the one on his laptop were the bane of his big hands.

Why would he have a laptop with such a small keyboard if he had such a hard time using it?

“It was on sale?” He answered himself aloud.

And one of those ergonomic keyboards would have cost so much?

“You’re not helping.” He closed his eyes tight.

His large hand covered the attached mouse. He opened up his pictures folder and began to flip through the photos from the past few years. The answer was right there, he had always been an orc. There he was at the park with Sabrina; he would never know what such a beautiful elf like her had seen in him. Not that it mattered now. Even then his clothes didn’t seem to quite fit him right.

“Hmm.” He scrolled through some other photos just to make sure.

In every photo he was an orc. He wasn’t even sure what he was supposed to be looking for otherwise. He closed the pictures file with a sigh, and opened up his web browser. Typing with his pinkies in a hunt-and-peck method he was able to log in to his favored social networking site. He scrolled down through the various updates.  He paused every now and then to read a joke, or to catch up on the news of the few people he actually cared about.

One post finally caught his eye. It was a picture of a group of his high school friends. The caption below it read: Russell, can you believe we’re thirty?

He read it again, and then a third time. Something in his brain didn’t like that sentence, but he couldn’t quite suss out why. He had just turned thirty last month. Sabrina had left the week before and the festivities hadn’t exactly been pleasant.  He had a rather low tolerance to alcohol for an orc his size, and apparently he really liked to talk when he was drunk.

“Orcs don’t live that long.” He spoke the words, but didn’t actually feel like he said them.

It was common knowledge that an orc lived maybe thirty-five years, and that was really old. Except his dad had just turned sixty-two earlier that year, and he was still going strong. Now that he thought about it, he couldn’t remember ever meeting an elf that was over the age of ninety, and they were supposed to live for thousands of years.

Something wasn’t right.

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Filed under Fantasy, Short Fiction

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