Beasts of the Wyld Short Stories

Bogmother

creature crawling out of bog

I awaken before dawn.

It smells like bog. Looks like bog. Is bog.

Everything is bog. I am the Bogmother, so I am cool with this.

I begin my meditation by sitting in the bog. A bog lizard swims past but I let it go. I’ll wait until later to eat it. Don’t want anything disturbing my meditation on this wonderfully boggy morning.

I finish my meditation then go for a swim in the bog. My doctor says it’s good for the muscles, although I don’t have any. They rotted into the bog long ago.

After my swim I take a bath in the bog. I realize this serves no practical purpose since all is bog, but the routine levels me.

I head into work, also in the bog. I’m the Bogmother, so I manage the bog. I’m what you might call the “bog boss.” I’m good at it. I have a mug that says “World’s Best Bog Boss” to prove it.

My job is about what you’d expect. Murderers hiding dead bodies in the bog, drunk and decaying bog creatures slithering about, lots of paperwork.

There’s always paperwork. I don’t remember why or at what point we started doing paperwork for every single thing that happens in the bog, but we do.

It’s actually a boilbog, which is a bog that’s boiling. We keep it at just the right temperature that a boilbog is supposed to be kept at. So it’s not a rolling boil like you’d cook spaghetti in or something, but one of those slow, gurgling boils where the bubbles slowly fill with air and then pop. We have a whole department that makes sure the bubbles are gurgling just right. It’s called the Department of Gurgle Optimization and Planning, or D-GOaP. They do a lot of paperwork.

The water is poison, in case that wasn’t obvious already.

“Sounds terrible,” you might say. I’d say, “Try running the place.”

But it’s not that bad. I guess I should qualify that by saying I’ve been here for a thousand years and know nothing else and for all I know I would die in a non-boilbog environment. If you spent a thousand years here I think it would grow on you, too.

*

I walk into the office and I see my secretary, Mjürgbog.

“Good morning, Mjürgbog.”

“Mornin’ boss.”

“What’s hot today?”

“Oh, the usual. A handful of dead bodies. Three accidental, two murdered. Oh, and the bubbles have been gurgling a little out of control. Report is on your desk.”

“Thanks, MB.” I call her “MB” for short. We do little fun things like that in the boilbog.

Those D-GOaP guys are killing me. They do good work, but they need a strong arm every now and again to keep them in line.

*

I pick up the phone in my office and dial Lorbog, D-GOaP’s head gurgleology engineer.

“Lorbog.”

“What’s boggin’ boss? Look, before you even say it, I know, the bubbles. I got a team on it already. One of those boys that fell in last night must’ve been a demon lord or something, because the whole bog heated up a few degrees once he went under.

“But you’ve got nothing to worry about,” he says. “We’ll have it back to standard gurgle by lunch.”

“I’m gonna hold you to that, chief.”

“I know you will, ma’am.”

I hang up the phone and get started with paperwork. Before I know it it’s lunch time and I’m hungry.

I wonder what they’re serving at the café. Oh, that’s right, bog creatures and bog water, because that’s what we eat every day. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we’ll get a bird.

My office door opens and Mjürgbog walks in.

“Lunchtime, boss.”

“I know. Just finishing up.”

“D-GOaP just sent over the new numbers. Gurgling levels back to normal.”

“I know, thank you.” I already knew. I could tell, because I was in the bog. We were all in the bog. Always. All of us.

I go to lunch with Mjürgbog and it is nice. There’s a bird today so we split it. It does not taste as good as bog lizard but it is nice to have something different.

Most people don’t go to lunch with their secretaries because they don’t want to fraternize. But I don’t think like that. When you’ve worked with someone for seven hundred years you learn to treat them like the bog creature they are. We’re all bog creatures at heart, and we should treat each other like it.

*

Back at the office it’s an endless stream of paperwork and meetings before I can finally call it a day. The sun is already going down, not that it’s ever really up around here.

I go back to the part of the bog that’s my house and read for a while. It’s a book about bogs. It’s really the only subject that matters here. Although I read books about birds sometimes, too. That’s how I know the one we ate today was a cormorant.

I kick my feet up on a lump of peat and read and have a glass of bogwine. I get so caught up in reading about bogs and thinking about the gurgles that I doze off for a few minutes.

*

I awaken to a splash. A giant crocodile-orc hybrid thing has fallen into the bog next to me. Looks like it was trying to hide a dead body. It must have misjudged where the edge was and slipped. Bogs can be tricky like that.

It thrashes about violently yelling out cries for help and begging someone to save it in the Crocodile-Orc language. I give it a sort of look to let it know, “We don’t do that here.” I don’t think it understands, so I just shrug and go back to reading. Once you’re in the bog there’s no getting out. It’s the circle of life. Or not exactly because once you fall in you just die and that’s it. But there’s some sort of lesson there.

More paperwork to do tomorrow.

As I ponder what our bog equivalent to the circle of life is, the creature slips under the surface for the rest of eternity. With its last breath it lets out a yell like, “Gggggrrroooooaaaahhhhgggggrrrpppppp Yyyyydrrrrrroo!”

In Crocodile-Orc this means something like, “The bubbles are gurgling nicely today.”

That’s nice, I think to myself. It’s nice when strangers appreciate your work. We don’t get a lot of people saying nice things down here in the boilbog.

I think I’ll file that one in the report. Everyone will enjoy reading that. That’s something to look forward to tomorrow.