Onk studied his hands. Heavy callused knuckles contrasted with soft palms and long, supple fingers. The deep, forest camouflaging green gifted to him by his ancestors faded to something like a vibrant lily pad as he turned his hand to look closer at his palms.
Soft, pruny wrinkles adorned his fingertips like soundwaves.
The din and cacophony of culinary battle enfolded him as hordes of hungry workers slammed the greasy-spoon diner on their fog-of-war dance between shift change at the factory around the corner. Once upon a time, the factory had produced munitions for the last great war, but now it pumped out ball bearings.
The dishwasher goblin sighed.
“Onk, I need spoons,” Devlin Splitbeard yelled from his cold-side position beside the grill.
His younger brother Bevlin flipped flapjacks with a precise motion of his hamfist.
Onk shook himself from his daydream and plunged his hands into the soapy water filling the sink in front of him.
“Two flips of your switch,” he yelled back to the cooks.
In a practiced dance he slapped the dishwasher open and jammed a rack through. Pulling a flat down, he pulled handfuls of soaking silverware from the suds as if gold from a dragon’s hoard.
With a clatter the utensils heaped onto the flat. Onk slid the rack into the dishwasher and slammed the hatch shut.
“App plates,” Devlin yelled.
Everyone yelled in the back to be heard over the constant cyclone of water in the dishwater and drone of the exhaust vents.
Grabbing a stack of plates off the cooling rack, Onk crossed the grease slicked floor like a practiced ice-fisher and deposited the plates behind the grill. In an ingrained dance, he stepped back to make way as Bevlin reached back, grabbed a fresh plate, and filled it with steaming food. Onk paused to watch the brother’s choreography.
Bevlin plated and handed.
Devlin sauced, sided, and arranged.
“Order,” Devlin roared as he slid the fresh plate across the warmer to join three others.
Onk hesitated, tucked in a tiny eye of peace beside the hot-side freezer. He watched as a dark haired, lavender winged pixie named Su flitted back to snag the plates.
She paused, glanced down the line, caught Onk’s eye, and smiled.
Onk grinned back, his lower fangs drawing his mouth wide.
And she vanished back into dining room on a hum of wings.
“Out of your league,” Devlin said with a laugh as he caught a plate his brother slid down the cold-side board. “Hell, she’s out of mine too. What are your plans after shift tonight?”
“I heard the Balrogs are opening for Shanaharian Rot,” Onk replied.
Onk nodded and said, “We’ll have a couple hours to burn.”
“Bev, you in?” Devlin asked as he stood on his toes to slide a pair of plates on the top shelf of the warmer.
“Onk, I still need those spoons,” Devlin called out.
Onk only half heard as he leaned from his safe space to peer out into the dining room. Su hovered and glided about her section like a hummingbird. Onk sighed. Executing a perfect pirouette, Su caught Onk.
He ducked back into the kitchen and missed her smile.
Onk found Bevlin looking back from the grill, an unheard of happening during the change-over rush. The dwarf fixed him with a scowling glare that reminded Onk why their ancestors constantly warred.
“Ask her already,” the dwarf growled as he affected his own fearsome grin. “Give the girl a chance to say no.”
Onk retreated to the dish room, trailed by Devlin’s cry for spoons.
* * *
Full disclaimer, this is a complete rough draft short story. I have no idea if this is going anywhere, but the idea popped in my head and I couldn’t say no to the muse. I haven’t written anything in the fantasy genre in decades and I’ve never written in an urban fantasy setting.
I’m sorry for skimping on the writing samples, but hopefully I’ll have more to offer in the coming year.
Book three is approaching the final segment in rough draft form. I’m still hoping to have it completed in time for a summer release. I’m still waiting to see how this Atom & Go story ends.
In the meantime, keep on reading, keep on picking yourself up, and keep on flying the Black.