Meet Skittles. She might be all hard and pebbly on the outside, but on the inside she wants nothing more than a nice warm hug. Scratch just a little in between those rocky scutes, and she’ll roll on her back so you can rub her smooth, soft belly scales.
Shff. Click. Shff. Click. Shffff…Click.
Small claws on padded, three-toed feet scratched softly on tile as she crept through the sunlit passage. She paused. Not sure if she should brave the open space in front of her, and she cocked her small, triangular head first one way, then another. Her tiny nostrils flared wide as she sniffed the air, and she clicked the narrow, beaked end of her snout with a satisfied chirp.
It was close.
The very tips of her clawed toes softly scratched the tile as she lifted a foot again, silently placed it directly in front of the other.
Her head tilted this way and that, like a lizard. Her large eyes wide and curious as she stared at the straight walls and flat, clean surfaces. That warm, earthen smell was still in the air, but where would she find a smell like that in this place of straight, dead trees and clean, flat ground? Shiny loops and ledges caught her attention. Bright metal on straight, white walls- Oh! One of the walls was open.
She poked her beaked nose at the loose wall. Wood. Not rock. It swung open wider with a quick nudge of her head, and she leaned forward to explore the strange, dark hole. Maybe it was hidden here…but her beak touched cold metal, and nothing smelled tasty in here. She arched her neck and backed out of the hole with a clickety clack of faster, less careful foot steps.
She turned in one fluid motion- long, bone-studded tail swinging- and raised her head and body as high as she could on her long back legs. There, now she could see what was on top of these strange wooden walls with their shiny ledges.
More shiny things. Different shiny things. Shiny like water with sunlight on it’s surface, and like water, she could see something inside these shiny, rounded things.
But more importantly, there was something beside the shiny things that smelled good. Something hidden inside a paper bag smelled warm…enticing.
Her sniffing nose nuzzled closer, and her beak tapped against the stone surface of the counter top, but she couldn’t reach the paper bag. Her clawed toes scratched the painted surface of the cabinet. Five-fingered hands clawed and scraped at the shiny ledges, but she only slid back down again. Small, clawed fingers were no help in climbing if the padded palms turned inward towards each other.
With a small exhale that sounded almost like a sigh, the small creature stood back from the cabinet and stared up at the brown paper bag that was out of reach. She cocked her head to one side and stared at it sideways with one large, watery eye. For a moment she was motionless, and only the smooth, cream-colored scales on her belly moved in and out with each fast breath.
She twitched her long tail and coiled her legs underneath her. She rocked her body from side to side, and looked first through one eye, then the other. Her head bobbed up and down a few times. All was still…and- Leap!
She sprung from the floor like a kangaroo. Long back legs fully stretched as she leapt from the tile, her shorter arms hugged closed against her belly.
She slammed into the upper cabinets as she slid onto the counter top, her long, bone-studded tail whipping wildly to regain her balance. Quick as a lizard she slid her feet under her body and crouched upright on the counter top. She shook fragments of glass, pasta, and beans off her thick, bone-studded back, and looked around.
Where was it? Where did it go?! She sniffed as her head whipped from side to side, searching for the paper bag and its wonderful smell. Gone! All she could find where pasta, glass, rice…different colored beans sprinkled all over the counter top, spilling onto the floor…
She looked down. There was the bag.
“Skittles!” She looked up at the familiar voice, startled. A tall, thin man was standing at the doorway, his mustache bristling. He ran a hand through his silver hair, and blew a loud sigh through his mustached lips.
“Skittles,” he said, softer this time, and he shook his head. “What are you doing on the counter?” Beans and glass crunched under his heavy boots as he stepped closer. Skittles curled her tail around her legs and her head drooped. He didn’t look too happy.
“Come here Skittles,” Pete Diggle said. One arm carefully crept under her belly and scooped her up while the other gently, but firmly, curled around her body. With a soft grunt, he picked her up and held her close against his chest.
“You could hurt yourself girl.” He said as he tucked her head under his arm. “Come on now, let’s go back outside. Serves me right for leaving the door open even a second.” Her head in the warm darkness, Skittles breathed a sigh and snuggled in deeper. He smelled of hay, dirt, animal poop, fresh deodorant, and an interesting tangy citrus that clung to the fibers of his shirt.
She let her body relax in Pete’s arms, and her tail hung loose and drug across the floor as he moved. Her stomach did a little flip when he bent over for something, but that didn’t bother her much. His hold on her was comfortable and firm, and soon she could smell the air outside through the scent of his shirt, and feel the warm sun on her scaly back.
“There you go girl,” Pete said, and Skittles had a moment of weightlessness again as he crouched down. He uncurled his arm and allowed her head to rise up again, blinking in the sunlight. Her nose free to smell more than Pete’s cocktail of scents, Skittles nuzzled the pocket on the front of his cotton shirt.
“Oh,” Pete said. “You think you’re going to get something after that little bit of mayhem you made?” He shook his head, but chuckled when she looked up at him with one large, watery eye. When he didn’t move for the treat, Skittles jumped off his lap, turned, and sat back on her hind legs. Her short arms hugged close to her body, and she tilted her head off to one side and chirped softly. Pete chuckled.
“Yes, you’re a good girl,” Pete said with a chuckle. “Good job sitting for your treat.” He sighed and reached into his front shirt pocket. “Alright Skittles, since you have such good manners. But do me a bit of a favor and stay out of the kitchen.”
He held out a small, round treat with the tips of his fingers, and Skittles gratefully accepted it. Finally! She got what she came for.
Whew, what a crazy week! Not much progress on anything I’m afraid, not even the digital stuff, but I hope you like the new short story. 🙂
There is one thing I’ve been able to figure out though. My Mom and younger sister helped me come up with the idea, because I’ve been kinda-sorta internally panicking over the past week or so, wondering how I’m going to finish a complete illustration by February.
I’ve finally come to peace with the fact that I can’t. I really should focus on being calm and getting ready for Baby’s arrival over the next few weeks, otherwise I’ll wear myself out before Baby even arrives. Not a good place to be with a newborn in the house. 😀
So we’ve got a solution.
The whole point of the presentation is to show how I do it right? So since I don’t and cannot physically have a full illustration ready in time, then I can have something like the Critter of the Week, only with a background attached. 🙂
I’ve already got something in the works, and even though it won’t be a completely new critter, it’ll be one that needs an update. 😀 So two birds with one stone there. We’ll get an updated critter for COTW, and an example of what to expect in the final illustrations. 🙂
Whew, talk about taking the pressure off! 😀
In the meantime, things are looking to be a bit hectic as we get closer to the due date. More Dr. appointments and unpredictable fun stuff. But I’ll be making progress like a ninja tortoise, perhaps some days like a freshly-hatched ninja tortoise, but even one step forward is better than no steps right? 😛
Thank you for hanging in there with me! It truly means a lot to me, and helps keep me more motivated than if I was doing this on my own. 🙂 I hope to have something more exciting to report within the next couple of weeks! 😀
Coming Next Week…
This critter is furry, loves to swim, and has a flat, sorta scaly paddle tail…Is she even in the right time period?! 😉