Thursday, April 4, 2019

4/4/19

How to Train Your Slime
By LS Popovich


Harold’s parents were allergic to most pets. Sometimes, he brought them home just to be sure. He made valiant efforts with kittens and puppies, but when he tried out a Gila monster on them it didn’t go over well.

He had just about given up hope when he came across a large oozing lump of slime in the park on his morning jog. It quivered with cuteness as he fondled its protuberant sacs of fluid. His first thought was, I’ll call it Shirley.

All he had to do was pout his lips and prod it gently and the pulsing mound crept slowly forward. It playfully oozed onto the grass and jiggled in response to his admiration. Grasping it carefully, he smoothed one of its amorphous flanks and weighed it with satisfaction.

It didn’t have a mouth or eyes, or even a face per se. Nonetheless Harold was quickly won over. When he tried stroking it it gurgled. He scooped as much of it up in his arms as he could then turned it over and decided it was a he. He considered for some time as he walked home. I think I’ll go with Lexington actually.

Depositing his new pet on the rug, Harold decided to change clothes. There had been a few ‘accidents’ along the way and his shirt was soaked. It wasn’t until the washing machine sputtered and died that he realized the excretions were not washer-friendly.

When his parents came home they were horrified. Despite Harold’s protests they attempted to flush Lexington down the toilet. Remembering his goldfish of years past the young man was frantic. Luckily, Lexington adapted well to the lukewarm water and did quite a number on the pipes.

Ensuing attempts to squash, bludgeon, burn, stab and microwave Lexington proved useless. He was immune to boiling, chlorine, bleach, hacksaws, and gunfire. But they could see from Harold’s heartbroken face that this was more than just a passing attachment.

Finally, Harold and his inseparable companion were moved to the vacant guesthouse. This just meant Lexington could spread out without worrying about ‘staining the floor’ or ‘eating the stove.’

Harold and Lexington spent all their free time together. Every night they sang duets like ‘Pour Some Sugar on Me.’ Cooing gurgles emanated from their window, sending chills down the spines of all the neighbors.

Every morning Lexington oozed over his food bowl and left a bowl-shaped imprint on the tile. Every day brought more enchantment. Harold’s Little Mold Nugget was the source of endless joy. This is what parents must feel, he said to himself as they played ‘fetch and dissolve.’

Twice a day he took Lexington on walks. Slithering around in the park, letting him piddle, and catching the pigeons, brought a healthy glow to both their cheeks. The screams and revolted looks did not even distract them.

Harold introduced his jolly slimykins to other pets at every opportunity. Soon a mosiac dog-shaped imprints were found in the grass.

Lexington never ran out of energy and constantly slid up the walls, leaving tracks across the ceiling. Time passed, and Lexington grew and grew. Posters appeared on every lamp-post offering a reward for his “Unfriendly Neighborhood Slime.” Yet Harold’s love never wavered. He refilled the bowl-shaped imprint hundreds of times, and reinforced the couch each time it buckled. Every day he had a whole side of cow delivered, just to keep Lexington well-fed.

Eventually, Lexington refused to gurgle out his half of ‘Living on a Prayer.’ “What’s gotten into you, Lex?” he asked, as the slime slumped into his bed.

Harold already missed the days when Lexington could plop on his head lovingly from the ceiling or chill with him in the hot tub. It was only a matter of time until Lexington grew flakey and his green sheen paled. Their binge-watching grew less and less frequent.

There were dried husks left on the staircase, large iridescent puddles in the basement. Finally, one cold morning, Lexington gave a prolonged burble of affection and then undulated no more.

Harold went back to his old routine as best he could, jogging away the sorrow. He inevitably passed the spot where he’d found his lost companion so long ago. It was only right to erect a little grave beneath the flowering sourwood tree. When he came to visit every Tuesday he laid a T-bone steak on the gravestone in remembrance: Lex’s favorite.

“Oh, my little Swamp Thing,” he moaned, drawing the attention of passersby. “I’ll always remember the good times.”

And so the years went by, the leaves changed color, the city lost its innocence as hordes commuted from the suburbs. Harold thrived, in his own way, finally holding down a part-time job. One morning, his jogging partner caught his attention and asked, “What’s that?”

He turned to the grassy slope. Something had slithered to the other side. When they got to the top the saw the full scope of the park, dotted here and there with pulsing light. Tears rushed to Harold’s eyes. He remembered with fondness all the places Lexington had piddled. And now they watched as hundreds, no, thousands, of slimes emerged, scratching up the dirt, overturning picnic baskets, subsiding over sleeping children, getting caught in the spokes of moving bicycles… They dodged the fleeing crowd on their way home, heeding the growing din of gunfire and scenting the heavy smoke of wildfires.

Harold passed a small slime on a bench, slowly burning a hole through it. With trembling hands he picked it up. Shirley, he whispered with a smile.



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L. S. Popovich is a cat person, (someone who likes cats, not a cat-human hybrid), living in Denver, as well as a speculative fiction writer.


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