Cozy Flash: “The Problem with Pack Goats”

Fleet Mac Wood knew arguing with pack goats was futile. The ranger lived with three of the beasts. He told them daily not to eat his tent, not to chew his boots, and not to wander into the mountains where bigger animals—or worse things—would eat them.

He corralled them. They leapt the fence. Hobbling was no good. They chewed through the straps. His frustrations augmented when he tracked them down, discovering that this time they had wandered into a cyclops’s lair.

The cyclops liked goats, particularly in stew, judging by the cauldron bubbling over its fire. It was also better at corralling goats, containing them in the back of its cave where they cowered in fear. Tiptoeing past the entrance, Fleet snapped a bone snapped underfoot. A monstrous hand seized him and held him over the flames.

“Who are you?”

Thinking fast, Fleet seized a brand from the fire. “Me? I’m nobody.” He twisted like a fish, driving the brand into the cyclops’s eye. The monster flung Fleet aside.

Howling about the terrible injury Nobody had inflicted upon it, the cyclops sought a cool spring to soothe the blinding pain.

Fleet made his way to the goats. Calming the nervous creatures, he led them to safety.

A few days later he discovered a new problem. The goats now believed him to be the fearless leader of their herd. Refusing to leave his side, they would not give him a moment’s peace.

Honestly, Fleet concluded, gently stroking a ram’s head, you could never win with goats.

— Aidan Redwing

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