Posts Tagged Shine

[partim] Shine.

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The contest was declared a draw by forfeit, and they haven’t asked me to repeat my performance. But I think I did well enough; I’ve always been welcome there and they’ve never asked me for a dime.

[partim] Shine.

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Of course at this point returning to the eating contest was out of the question. The authorities were arriving and the patrons were leaving when they could, and none of the staff seemed keen on returning to the kitchen.

This was a shame, as my overstuffed gut had been burning through its intake and was rumbling hungrily again.

Well, it was Chinese food, after all.

[partim] Shine.

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“Someone came and took him,” she said.

“He was killed?” I said, samewhat alarmed.  People turned to stare.  I definitely hadn’t seen that.  How could I have missed it?

No,” she said, “Death came for him.”

“Death,” I said.  “Actually Death? The fat hog in the gray robes and everything?”

“Yeah,” she said. “He said—” she rattled off something in Chinese.  The folks listening in got more emotional.  “Um, it means, ‘They haven’t forgotten you.  It’s time to come home.’”

“Sounds like murder to me,” I said.

“It was very sweet,” she said firmly.

[partim] Shine.

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—there didn’t seem to be anything in that direction, though.  The girl was still staring, horrified, at something invisible.  I got up—slowly—and waddled over, though by the time I got there, several of the restaurant workers and patrons were already around her.

“What happened?” they were saying. I was, anyway; the rest was in Chinese.

She pushed through the crowd of people and went to a corner where an old man sitting alone had slumped forward in his seat.

She didn’t touch him, but she didn’t have to; I could see from here the poor man had passed away.

And someone who spoke English called 911, and the girl came up to me.  “Did you see?”

I shook my head.

[partim] Shine.

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The food went quickly, and my hunger came back.  I shoveled in egg rolls after kung pao after potstickers, my light burning hot inside me and illuminating the whole room.

Beside me, Fofaa ate, with a daintiness unusual in non-anthros, but steadily and relentlessly. Her light didn’t brighten so much as it increased in splendor, the fire changing colors, and becoming visible through more of her scales, bathing her in an amazing aura.

I lost track of how much I ate—I figured they’d be keeping track well enough.  My gut was straining from fullness and I know I had to push my seat back to make room at least three or four times.

I would have loved, desperately, to stop and give my gut a good rubbing for comfort’s sake between plates, but by this time my belly was way too hot to touch.  I was glad I didn’t have to worry about undoing a belt—my backside’s generally plenty to keep the pants up—but I was just reaching the point where I’d have to open up the button and reclaim some breathing space.

I grabbed a couple of spare forks from the table and used one to lift my overstuffed belly out of the way, and I stuck the other one under it and jiggled the button till it came free.

I exhaled heavily and put down the forks.  That was a lot better.  Before I could do anything about it, though, the girl who was bringing my next plate dropped it—the plate shattered and eggs foo young went everywhere.  She seemed frozen in place, and I turned to see what she was looking at.

[partim] Shine.

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A couple of younger men came out carrying trays crowded with plates of food and arranged them all on Fofaa’s table.

A few moments later, the man who’d first brought me in came back with a plate of crab rangoons.

I brightened up a bit and went to work myself.

[partim] Shine.

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“So, I hear I have a competitor,” she said. Despite her appearance, she spoke English without any hint of an accent. “What’s your name, tiger?” Her light flashed with what was clearly a bit of contempt.

In her presence I felt a bit ashamed of my nickname, so I didn’t bring it up. “I’m Billy Taft. Miss…?”

“Lung Fofaa,” she said. “You think you can out-eat me, do you?”

I shook my head. “I didn’t—I had no idea what I was in for. They just offered me a free meal.”

“No such thing,” she said, “Trust me.”

“What are we even competing for?” I said.

She leaned in close and put her claws on my belly. “Fuel for the fire,” she said. My light flickered a bit at the feminine touch, but she didn’t react to it, if she noticed at all. “You can eat here for as long as you like—until a better eater comes along. And you must take on all challengers.”

I looked up into her eyes as her talons almost imperceptibly squeezed my gut. “Believe me, miss, I have no intention of threatening your meal ticket.”

She snorted, a puff of red smoke from her nostrils washing over me. “Nonsense,” she said. “The challenge has already begun. Go on,” she said, to the man who brought me in, “Let’s get me caught up.”

She took her place at a long low table beside me as he left for more food. “I beat a man for this position,” she said, “Over a year ago. He was just an ordinary human; no challenge whatever. No one since has even come close. But you’ve got fire in you too—you might just be able to compete.”

[partim] Shine.

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I looked up and saw a door by the opposite corner of the dining room open, and a shimmering serpentine form slithered forth.

Well, I say shimmering, but that’s not really right at all. Fofaa was a Chinese dragon covered in glossy black scales, which scattered the light and the shadow as she moved. The bit that caught my eye, though, was that some of the light was her own: at intervals along her body—which was unclothed, as non-morphic people tend to prefer—at intervals there were patches of glowing red scales.

As she approached I saw that the red scales were actually transparent and illuminated by her fire.

I tell you, I’m not used to being outshined—but next to her I felt like a glowworm trying to compete with a galaxy.

My own light faltered a bit from embarrassment. She spoke first.

[partim] Shine.

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I shrugged and started eating—I’d been worse than a freak show before. The food was actually pretty good, especially as hungry as I was.

As I ate, my light grew brighter and again I worried about bothering the other patrons, but aside from a couple of squinting faces among those caught in the spotlight, there didn’t seem to be any reaction at all… except from the owner, who was absolutely thrilled.

“You’re doing a good job,” the girl said.

I swallowed my last mouthful of lo mein. “Whatever you say.”

“You think you could eat more?”

I put a paw on my gut. It was pretty warm, but it could definitely take a bit more.

Okay, a lot more.

I nodded.

“You think you could compete for it?”

“Compete?”

“Fofaa!” she yelled, to somewhere in the back of the room.

[scrap] Shine.

Another old scrap from an old notebook—


Thunder woke me up in the middle of the night, and Jan had already gone.  I rolled up my pack, figuring I’d get moving before the rain hit.  The donut shop at the edge of the park was open all night and usually quiet.

In fact there was nobody there but Jeff behind the counter.  He shaded his eyes as I came in—even though I was half asleep, my light was the brightest in the place.

“Hey Shine,” he said, reaching under the counter.  “The usual?”

“Yeah,” I said, taking my seat facing the wall.  He brought me a tray with a dozen jelly donuts.

It started raining.

“You know, tiger,” he said, sitting across from me.  “I’m sure you’d have a place of your own by now if you eased up on the food a bit.”

“Man,” I said, “I’ve told ya, you have no idea what it’s like when this light burns down.”

I tore into the donuts.