Monday, April 22, 2013

Prompt: Flying Monkey, Historic, Green Home, Strawberries, Insurance (use at least three of these)

A week before the strawberry farm was due to open to the public, the flying moneys appeared. They tore up half a field before they started lurching around like drunkards on the ground and in the air. They were passed out in less than an hour. I stood stock still and watched them the whole time. Drunk on strawberries, go figure.  

I didn’t realize just how crazy that sounded till I called animal control. Well, right about the time Sharon Higgins hung up on me was when I figured that out. I walked out in the field closer to the nearest one and took a good look. Took a couple pictures with my camera phone too, although it’s old and grainy. I didn’t know how long I had till they woke up, and I needed a plan. Fast. I flipped open the phone.

“Bill. What you doin? You got time to help me with a little problem? Yeah, I think you better come over and see this, rather than me tryin to explain it to you. Okay, thanks, buddy.”

Bill’s family property butts up against mine, and we been arguing about who owns the creek in between since we was in first grade. I reckon he helps me with this, I might just owe him that creek. His red pickup was sending up a dust trail not 10 minutes after I called.

“Hey Dave, what’s up?”

“Come on out and take a look, why don’t you?”

He looked for a long time and didn’t say anything. He opened his mouth a few times, but shut it again. Finally, he spread his arms out wide and turned around to me. “You got flying monkeys in your field, Dave.”

“I’m astonished by your powers of observation, there, Bill. What am I supposed to do about them, is why I called you over here. They tore up the field as you can see. I can’t have them in here wrecking everything right before peak season!”

Dave nodded and dropped his arms, turning to look at the moneys again. They hadn’t moved, but as we watched, one wing lifted up, shuddered, and dropped back to the ground. I still didn’t have any ideas, and they might be waking up soon.

“Well, we better round them up and stow them somewhere till we figure out what to do with them,” Dave said, scratching his head. I couldn’t tell if he was still bemused or had an itch. He looked over at the sod house where we grew mushrooms and started seeds. “How about there?”

“I think they‘ll bust out of there pretty quick, but what about the old chicken coop?” We hadn’t kept chickens since the C2R5 virus wiped out most of the poultry stock. But I hadn’t taken down the big wire coops. There were four connected, so I could rotate the birds around to clean up when I needed to.

Bill was nodding. He’d brought rope and was already approaching the closest monkey. “Shoot, I don’t wanna hurt the little fella. Those wings look mighty delicate. Got any big nets?”

“Nope. But how about a feed sack? I got a couple dozen in the shed.”

We wrestled each monkey into a feed sack and had two left over. We carried them real carefully into the coops, split them up into the four cages, since we didn’t know how they’d get along. By the time we pulled the sacks off, some of them were stirring, fluttering their wings and making little yipping sounds like dogs or something. I felt a little bad for locking them up, so I filled the water troughs and dumped some oats in the feed bins before I got out and locked up.

Bill and I stood back and watched as they woke. We expected them to go crazy, trying to get free. They wandered around with their hands over their eyes, or sat on the ground rocking back and forth. Bill started to chuckle. “They’re hungover!” he exclaimed and laughed his big laugh. One of the monkeys groaned and covered its ears with its paws…hands?

I had an idea and ran into the sod house. A couple minutes later, I came out with a basket and tossed small tomatoes, the earliest growth we’d ever seen, into the coops. The monkeys grabbed them up and ate them with relish. Some found the water and oats, and they made soft hoots that got the others’ attention. Soon they were all crowded around the buckets.

“Looks like they’re not in a hurry to leave after all,” Bill mused. He clapped me on the back and headed back to his truck. “Holler if you need any more help with them.”

“Thanks, buddy. You’re a life saver.”

He waved off my thanks and took off down the driveway. Bill always drove like he was late for the derby.

I watched those monkeys till sunset. They wandered around and checked out the coops, shook the doors in between when they discovered they were locked, and huddled all together in the central corners to go to sleep.

I went home and searched all night on the internet for information on flying monkeys. They don’t exist. But you can get Purina Monkey Chow from the local feed store. Who knew? Next morning I threw more tomatoes and oats in the feed bins and went down to Bailey’s to pick up a couple of 50 pound sacks. Steve Bailey raised his eyebrows but didn’t ask any questions. He was the kind of guy who figured if you wanted your business known, you’d be talking about it. I appreciated that in a man.

Flying monkeys eat Monkey Chow with gusto. They really didn’t seem in a hurry to leave, and I didn’t really want to let them loose to get back into the berry fields. Soon enough, we all sort of came to an agreement. I opened the four coops and started putting up ropes and a couple of platforms for them to jump around and rest on. They did some sort of crazy mob call at 4am the third morning, but I went down and yelled at them and they didn’t do it again. I looked it up. Howler monkeys and lemurs are famous for it. I bet flying monkeys would be famous for it too. If they existed. Which of course they don’t.

When I opened up the berry fields, I didn’t say anything about the monkeys, but it’s not like they were hidden. The kids loved them. I started giving out monkey chow pellets, then I got smart and put them in cups and sold them for a buck each. The monkeys loved the attention and they were real good with the kids. The parents just stared at them with wide eyes. When they asked me questions, I just acted nonchalant and said they showed up one day. Which was true.

It took animal control two months to come out. I’d figured they would show up eventually. It was Dick Garner; we played Little League together. He walked around the coop for awhile and watched them, then came up to me and accepted the sweet tea I offered. “Jeez Louise, Dave, you gotta have permits or something for them!”

I’d been doing a lot of research. “What permits do you need for flying moneys, Dick?”

He did the same thing Dave had, opening and closing his mouth a few times. Finally, he shrugged and said, “I dunno, Dave, but I’ll check it out and let you know.”

“You do that, Dick. Thanks,” I said as we shook hands. He watched them awhile longer before he left. He brought his kids down on Saturday and bought each of them a cup of monkey chow after they picked two flats of berries.

This has been my best season by far. I’ve had three more inspectors come by, and I always ask them real specific-like, what permits I need for flying monkeys. I figure eventually someone will come up with something. Till then, I’m planning on expanding the coops and giving those monkeys some more room. They’re getting fat on monkey chow.
Dogs in house:
Time writing:
~1 hour
April word count:


  1. Prompt: Flying Monkey, Historic, Green Home, Strawberries, Insurance (use at least three of these)

    The rail car stopped with a jerk. Helen swayed on her feet and bumped against her twin sister Jean. Jean shoved back, earning a bored scowl from their father. Helen's return shove was interrupted by the intercom.

    "This historic green home was one of the first dwellings on Verbract 7. It consisted of only three rooms, including a joint necessity and sleeping room. The enclosed garden..."

    The intercom droned on with progressively less interesting facts. Helen completed her shove.

    "Hey!" Jean said.

    "Shush," said their father. He was still listening to the intercom, which was now making some fairly unbelievable statements about strawberries. Weren't those small red fruits? Perhaps whoever had written the text had gotten them mixed up with watermelon. Not everyone was as much an expert on native Earth fruit as Helen.

    Jean kicked at Helen's ankle, and Helen danced away. She stuck out her tongue at Jean.

    "Girls," their father said, frowning down.

    "Jean started it," said Helen.

    "Helen bumped into me," said Jean.

    "It doesn't matter," said their father. "Quiet now. We're coming up on the garden."

    Helen stood on tiptoes to see through the railcar door's window. Was this an extension of the garden with the enormous strawberries? She now wished she had been paying better attention.

    Jean tackled her from behind. Helen spun, and something sharp jabbed into her elbow. The surface against which she leaned gave way, and Helen realised the jabbing item had been the door handle. She lunged back into the car, grabbing at the first thing she touched--Jean. They both tumbled through the open door.

    Helen opened her mouth to scream, but smacked into the ground before drawing breath. Jean landed a fraction of a heartbeat later, across her legs. Jean sat up, her face covered in red. Helen let out her scream.

    "What?" Jean asked. She put a hand to her face with a puzzled expression, then licked her lips. "Strawberry. You're lying in one, too."

    Helen sat up and looked behind her. There was a smashed strawberry, as big as her head.

    1. Again, very nice worldbuilding! The back and forth between the sisters was a little confusing, but moved pretty quick into the action of falling out of the train. Love the head-sized strawberries - very curious about what all this is!