FFM16-5 The Aspiration Quotient

Ferrets can’t fly; but this one was determined to give it a try. Prickles watched as the fuzzy creature scampered up a tree and out onto a branch. There it poised, poofy tail held high, before launching itself into space.

For one moment, the ferret seemed to hover midair. Then it plummeted. Prickles gasped as the ferret smacked onto the ground. Bouncing back to its feet, it ran for the tree.

“Excuse…me,” Prickles said, scurrying closer between words. He was still getting used to his little legs and his little mouth, and the whole institution of walking and talking at the same time was a bit baffling.

The ferret waited for the hedgehog to approach. “Gidday, mate.”

“What are you doing?” Prickles asked, looking up at the tree.

“Flying,” he said, as if it were obvious.

“Ferrets can’t fly,” Prickles pointed out. He was almost entirely sure this was true as he had read it in one of Mistress Moonshine’s books.

“They also say ferrets can’t breathe underwater, but that didn’t stop my cousin Larry, did it?”

Prickles blinked in astonishment. “He can breathe underwater?”

The ferret rubbed his chin. “Well, no. He died. But that’s not the point. Point is, just ‘cause someone said you can’t do nuffin’, doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. See?”

Prickles wasn’t sure that he did see, but he nodded anyway.

The ferret gave a satisfied nod. “What’s your name?”

“Prickles.”

“I’m Cuddlepie. Also known as Pie, Master of the Cuddles, and to my mamma, I’m just Schnookums.”

“Cuddlepie?” Prickles looked up at the ferret with newfound admiration. “You’re huggable?”

“Mate, I’m huggie-wuggable.”

“Can I be a ferret too? If I’m huggable I can go home to Mistress Moonshine and she’ll love me.”

“Ah,” Cuddlepie gave him a knowing look. “There’s a lass involved, eh? I see no harm. Us ferrets are pretty great.”

Prickles nodded. “And maybe when we find someone to transform me, they can also give you wings.”

Cuddlepie rubbed his chin. “Wings, eh? Alright, you’re on.”

Prickles grinned. Soon he would be a ferret, and he would be so cuddly that Mistress Moonshine wouldn’t be able to resist giving him a hug. Cuddlepie raced across the field and Prickles hurried to keep up.

“This way, mate,” Cuddlepie called back. “Master Morpheus is great at all that transmagigorim stuff.”

Prickles wondered why Cuddlepie hadn’t asked for wings earlier if he knew about Master Morpheus, but he couldn’t stop running long enough to get the question out.

The pair arrived at a stone tower. Cuddlepie knocked on the front door. A few moments later, it opened to reveal a very tall, very old man in a purple robe. Prickles backed away. The man’s hooked nose and bushy eyebrows were nothing like Mistress Moonshine.

“Master Morpheus,” Cuddlepie said with a bow. “I’m here about them wings.”

Master Morpheus raised one voluminous eyebrow and looked over to Prickles.

“Oh, and Prickles here wants to be a ferret,” Cuddlepie added. He bounced over the threshold and inside. Prickles heaved himself over the doorstep and followed. The room inside was dark and all the cauldrons were black and crusted. Spellbooks sat on shelves. The bad kind that Mistress Moonshine had told Prickles never to open.

“Cuddlepie,” he whispered. “I’m not sure this is the right place.”

“Course it is.”

Master Morpheus picked up a lumpy cauldron that smelled faintly of vinegar and something that might have once grown in a pond, and held it down for Prickles to climb in.

He started backing away “Oh…I don’t think-”

Master Morpheus placed a book behind Prickles and scooped him inside.

Cuddlepie leaned over the top. “Don’t worry, mate. All part of the plan.”

Prickles backed against the wall of the cauldron. He didn’t like this at all. Mistress Moonshine said only ingredients went in the pot. She was very clear about that. Prickles edged away from the newt tails that were dropped in, followed by powdered scorpion and phoenix claws.

“This will make me a ferret?” he called up.

Cuddlepie appeared over the rim again. “Not exactly, mate. See, ya can’t make something unless you take something else. So if I’m gonna get my wings, I need you.”

“Bu-but Mistress Moonshine didn’t have to-” a pile of frog livers dropped on his head, cutting him off.

“Well, maybe you shoulda stayed with Mistress Mooney, then.” Cuddlepie cackled.

Prickles huddled in on himself. He should have stayed with Mistress Moonshine. She never put him in the cauldron. Even when he had been a lowly cactus and the other witches had laughed at her for carrying his pot between classes, she had never left him behind. Cacti weren’t made to be loved, but being unhuggable had never seemed to bother her. Maybe, in a way, Mistress Moonshine had loved him anyway.

No matter what happened, Prickles knew he had to get back to her.

He jumped as high as he could, scrabbling at the rough sides of the cauldron. Master Morpheus began chanting and the potion started to swirl. Prickles fell down but jumped up again anyway. Cuddlepie laughed from the rim. Prickles jumped and clambered and stretched, and hooked one paw around the ferret. With a yelp, both of them tumbled down into the potion, just as everything flashed purple.

The cauldron cracked and Prickles tumbled from it, coughing. He rolled over and stood up on his new hind legs. He was taller now, and he had a tail. Prickles turned to see leathery wings sprouting from his back. Racing towards a polished pot he looked at himself, a small, spiky, purple dragon. There was no sign on Cuddlepie.

Prickles sneezed and a jet of flame shot out. Master Morpheus reached for him, but he ran, skittering out the door and into the air. His new wings lifted him up and Prickles knew exactly where he needed to go. Flapping, he angled for home.

FlashFictionMonth day 5.
Wordcount: 987

Prompt: Ferrets can’t fly; but this one was determined to try. – by squanpie


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