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Animal Magnetism
by James C. Clar

“Hey, listen,” I said in my most soothing voice. “We can work something out here if we’re all reasonable.”

I hadn’t seen or heard them approach. I just looked up from my work at one point and found that they had surrounded the old oak table I used as a desk.

The cow with the broken leg spoke first.

“Yeah, sure, ‘reasonable’,” she snarled as she limped forward. Think of a slightly worse-for-the-wear “Elsie” played by Sigourney Weaver. The bell around her neck beat out a rhythm reminiscent of Don’t Fear the Reaper.

“Look around you. You probably don’t even realize the damage you’ve caused.”

I glanced sheepishly at the menagerie that had materialized in my study. There was the pig with the missing ear, the duck with the damaged bill and the rooster whose comb had been gone for as long as I could remember. That was just for starters. I quickly lost count.

The bovine was right, it was a veritable epidemic.  I prayed they’d forgotten about the dog whose head … Good God … I don’t want to think about it. I still awake sometimes in the dead of night to the hideous sound that it made when my foot came down it. Afterward, I had surreptitiously placed his body in a plastic bag and thrown it out with the trash. It was a shameful way to treat such an old friend. But what else could I do?

One of the cats whose tail I had mended – or, more accurately, tried to mend – pranced forward.

“It’s not as though we don’t appreciate what you sometimes attempt to do for us.” He spoke with a sophisticated southern accent, kind of a Bill Clinton-Bill Moyers hybrid.

“But, honestly, you just don’t have much skill in some areas. And, too, there’s the fact that your clumsiness and lack of attention creates a, dare I say it, catastrophe nearly every day. Not even someone with the proper training could keep pace. So we have a plan and, truth is, there’s precious little room for negotiation here. In fact, there’s no room for negotiation.”

They all nodded in agreement. Was I actually being threatened? I glanced at the gorilla that hung from my desk lamp. The crocodile, teeth protruding in an evil grin, sprawled across the keyboard of my computer as though he owned the blasted thing. A bear lounged insouciantly against my pencil sharpener. No doubt about it. I was being pressured, hard.

Before I could respond, the cow spoke again.

“From, ah, this point on, you’re going to be far more careful when you open the refrigerator door. After all, it’s taken you years to collect all of us. And as far as glue is concerned, you know, in case of the rare accident; no more Elmers. You need to spring for a decent epoxy, today!”

The End

James C. Clar has published stories in print as well as on the Internet. Most recently, his work has found a home in the Taj Mahal Review, Apollo's Lyre, Golden Visions Magazine, The Magazine of Crime & Suspense, Flashshot, Thrillers, Killers 'n' Chillers, A Twist of Noir, Antipodean SF and Shine: A Journal of Flash. His story "Starbuck" was voted story-of-the-year for 2008 by the editors of Long Story, Short and "A Night to Remember" (July 2009) was nominated for a Pushcart by the good folks at Word Catalyst Magazine.