My name is Bump. I am a slime.
Perhaps you aren’t familiar with slimes, or with boarmen, dragons, centaurs, or even blade spiders. Maybe you’ve never seen a monster at all. Lucky you.
But I am a monster. A slime. And yes, it is exactly what it sounds like. I am a blob of goo with two beady eyes. Officially the weakest of all the Beautiful Baron’s monsters. I can splorch my way around, hop from place to place, and dissolve human flesh I come in contact with.
If someone hits a slime, it’ll pretty much just die. Such was my life, from day one. Fragile, but dangerous.
When I was created, I was tasked with guarding the Cave of Awakening. One of the prophesied heroes was supposed to appear in that cave, and the Beautiful Baron had sent me to take him out with my mighty slime powers.
Now, why he would send the weakest types of monsters to guard these caves, I have no idea. After all, these heroes are foretold to break the Baron’s hold on the land and defeat him, vanquishing all of his evil influence. Seems like getting rid of these hero dudes would be pretty important. Maybe it would be worth guarding the cave with some insectoids, lizardmen, or even vampires. But no, the Baron sent out the slimes, and maybe a blade spider or two.
I was a mighty and powerful slime, but still. I wasn’t stupid. There were stronger monsters out there.
The cave was cool and damp, and for the longest time I saw neither hide nor hair of any hero. Or any human, for that matter. Or any other living thing. It was actually kind of lonely, to be frank. Boring. Staring at the stone walls, rolling over and nibbling at bits of moss… what, was I supposed to just be some kind of animal? Even if slimes were on the bottom of the monstrous totem pole, I was still a squishy machine of death! I may have only been a blob of leftover Evil Goo™ from the Beautiful Baron’s factories, but I deserved better than this.
Ha. If only I had been created as a real monster. Slimes like me were practically designed to be massacred by heroes. Well, not this slime. I wasn’t going to be massacred, no sir. I spent my days in the cave doing pull-ups with my adhesive body, and doing laps around the entrance. Training myself, getting ready for the big day.
That day eventually came. As I looked down the long, dim corridor for the gazillionth time, a movement finally caught my beady eye. I gathered my gelatinous self together and rolled forward, trying to get a better look. And lo and behold and looky there, I saw him.
He was… shorter than I thought he’d be. Smaller. With thinner arms. I’d expected a strapping man, but this little squib was barely an adult, if that. Hope flared in my blobular regions. This was my chance to prove myself.
The young man carried only a wooden sword. Why would the hero be given such a shoddy weapon when he woke? He was the hero of prophecy, right? Foretold by legends, yeah? And the best that his people could give him was a toy? But he held that toy in both hands, squeezing the handle. The wooden blade quivered along with the rest of his body. His eyes darted left and right, scoping out the shadows. I crept along within those dark spots, trying to stay hidden.
This had to be a trick.
This weakling couldn’t be the hero.
The hero would have had a real weapon. He would’ve been confident, strong, aggressive, bold. He would have seen me quickly, and even with that wooden sword, would have swatted me to death in one blow.
No, but this had to be him. This was the Cave of Awakening, and this guy had… awokened.
I jiggled away my doubts. It was time to fight. I would take on the fabled hero. Bump the slime would go down in history for devouring a legend.
I oozed out of the shadows and into the light. The hero saw me for the first time. A war cry echoed from his lips, blasting throughout the cave, and I stopped, certain that I would die right then and there. If I had breath, it would have ceased. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think. Death was staring me in the face.
The human hero turned his body, winding up for the final blow, no doubt. His sword clattered to the ground. Still unleashing the mighty war cry, the hero turned and ran.
War cry? That wasn’t a war cry, it was a shriek of terror.
Hah, I’d thought… it had stopped me, because I was a slime. I hadn’t realized how terrifying I was. For a second, I’d thought of myself as a weak little slime.
Well, not anymore. Not again.
He wouldn’t escape from the might of Bump the slime!
I gave chase through the cave tunnels, aided by the hero’s loud and panicked gasps. Gathering up momentum, I leapt.
I stuck on a wall.
I jumped to another wall, further down the tunnel.
I pulled myself together and rolled, ricocheted, and splatted my way after the hero. Destiny awaited me.
All tunnels must come to an end. The tunnel that the boy hero chose ended, not with light and open air, but in a narrow dead end. I found him cowering back against the rocky soil, tears in his eyes.
“Please,” he said, holding up his arms, “I’m not a hero. I’m nothing. Don’t kill me!”
The boy was not worthy of being a hero, but he was ‘the hero’ of this cave. And that made him my target. I would defeat him, and the Baron would be pleased with me. “Bump,” he would say, “I should have used your goo-ey leftovers on a horse, and made you into a centaur, instead of leaving you a slime. I didn’t know you had such potential. You are so worthy of being a commander! Here’s a dragon for you to take over.”
And I would shame him for not seeing my worth.
“Please,” the hero said, bringing me back to the present. I was hesitating. Why? I didn’t have time for that. He might get away. I had to defeat him, now!
I leapt. My target screamed and curled up in a ball, raising his arms to cover his head. With a loud splat, I landed on his arm and congealed to it, and began dissolving the arm into myself. The hero screamed and cried, pushed against the wall to get away from me, but it was no use. He had already dropped his weapon. There was nothing he could do to me with just his vulnerable hands.
He was pathetic. A reject. Weak.
Wait, ‘reject?’ Where had that thought come from?
‘From me,’ a voice said. ‘I was never supposed to be a hero. I’m just a reject.’
My beady eyes found the soft brown eyes of the hero, and I knew. It was his voice I was hearing. And he could hear my thoughts, too. We were linked together by the Evil Goo™ that I was made of. With his flesh, I was becoming stronger, something other than just a slime.
See, adding Evil Goo™ to someone or something turns them into a monster. It’s how the Beautiful Baron created all of his monsters. I was never given any creature to bind myself to, so I just became a slime. Was… was I going to take this hero’s entire body for myself?
For some reason, I found myself hesitating again. I stopped digesting the hero’s arm at his shoulder. He blinked at me, uncomprehending.
‘It doesn’t hurt,’ he thought.
No, it wouldn’t hurt. I had numbing juices inside of me for that reason. But I suppose it still wouldn’t be pleasant to have your arm digested.
‘Kinda unpleasant, yeah.’
Shame welled up in my depths, and before I could banish it, I wondered something that I never should have wondered. Of all the traits a working monster could have curiosity was the worst. I made the mistake of wondering who this hero was. And the hero answered my thoughts with his own.
‘My name? It’s Peek.’
Peek. The name echoed in my head. It made this guy more than just a hero. More than just a target. He was a person, with his own history and wants and needs. I tried to force the name out of my head, but it wouldn’t go away.
Peek noticed that I’d stopped digesting him. His eyes dropped to the floor, and he stopped resisting. The tears still came, but his panic was gone.
“I guess I’m not even worth killing, huh?” Peek said out loud. “Pitiful enough that even my enemies let me live. Dad was right.”
His father? My curiosity took over again, and Peek saw it. He needed no further urging to continue telling me his story.
“My father didn’t believe in the prophecies,” he said. “He was the mayor, leader of our battalion, and our whole city boasted in the might of its army. But I was his son, and I was a complete waste. I couldn’t fight, or lead, or do anything right. Dad didn’t believe in prophecies, so when this prophecy was given to him, and he had to present it to the people…”
I couldn’t help but finish the story for him in my head. His father had told the people that Peek was the hero. Of course. And that meant…
Peek nodded. “And so he got rid of me entirely. The city sent me off to sleep in this cave for a hundred years. My dad got to be a hero’s father. And since I was gone, I couldn’t embarrass him anymore.”
Hoo boy. I had messed up. If I had devoured Peek in one go, without stopping to think, he would’ve been gone and I’d have become a full-fledged monster. But after hearing that…
“I’m too weak to beat you, though,” Peek said. “I’ll never be a hero. Dad put me here to die.”
I couldn’t kill him.
“Not that I’m complaining, mister slime, but why not?”
Because we were the same.
I dropped off of Peek onto the ground. My body was much more firm and malleable than before, now that I’d absorbed and dissolved an arm’s worth of flesh. All of those workouts I’d done to get stronger, when I really should have been eating more. What a waste of time. Peek looked down at his shoulder stump and shrugged.
“I guess,” he said, “that I earned that. This. Losing my arm.”
I ignored him. Now what? My whole plan, killing the hero, showing up to the Baron, becoming an all-powerful monster… all of that was ruined. Unless I could bring myself to kill Peek, and I really couldn’t. He wasn’t that likeable, no, but he was just like me. All his life, he had been told that he was nothing. I could no further kill him than kill myself.
My eyes swiveled to look up at Peek. He was standing, whole and unharmed except for his missing arm.
“Can you talk?” he asked.
Could I? I wasn’t able to before. But I used the flesh I’d taken from him, and found it relatively easy to form a working mouth and voice box. “Yes,” I said. “I can.”
“Thanks for sparing me,” he said.
I pursed my new lips into a frown. “Fat lotta good your thanks will do for me,” I said. “Or you, for that matter. Gonna go out and get killed by the next monster?”
Peek grimaced. “Well, I was hoping… no, forget it.”
“What?” I asked.
“Well, you’re stronger than I am.” Peek rubbed at his ruined shoulder. “I was thinking, just maybe, you might could go with me?”
“Oh?” I wobbled to the side and gave him an oblong look.
“You can change shape now, right?” Peek said. “I’ve been in your head, and you’ve been in mine, so I’ve got a general idea—”
“Your point?” I said.
“What if you stayed attached to me?” he asked.
“Well, we’re both kinda weak.” Peek raised his one hand as I rolled toward him. “Me more than you, obviously! But I can’t help thinking… if you stayed as my right arm, and we were both monster and human… maybe we could succeed where both of us would fail alone?”
I stopped still to ponder that. I was a monster. If I left this cave, it would only take a competent farmer to splat me right then and there. Even if I was the strongest of all slimes—smart, powerful, and mighty—I was still a slime.
But as a part of a human, I would be safe. I could use Peek, both as a disguise and as a source of power. My ability to transform myself, as well as the strength my Evil Goo™ takes from flesh, would make us a force to be reckoned with.
And really, a competent farmer could splat Peek too, if they tried. He needed me more than I needed him. And I was a nice guy.
In answer, I hopped up on Peek’s useless shoulder and began to mold myself into a human arm. To his credit, he didn’t shrink back at all. I wasn’t scary to him anymore.
“I’m Bump,” I said. In my transformation, I changed my mouth to make it a little more discreet and small. “Bump the slime.”
“Alright, Bump,” Peek said. “Let’s get out of this cave. We’ll be heroes together. We’ll gain all of the glory that heroes deserve. I’ll prove my dad wrong. And you can get back at your maker for making you into a slime.”
Sounded pretty good to me. The Beautiful Baron had given me a weak body, and I deserved better than that. That was an injustice that needed rectifying. Peek could see my grudge through our link, saw me for what I was. He knew what it was like to be rejected and underestimated.
The boy-hero looked down at me, at his new arm, and almost smiled. At that moment, I saw something new in him. Somewhere deep down under his skin— deep, deep down under the lack of muscles, the horrible coordination, the average looks, the cowardly demeanor, and the lack of confidence…
‘Okay, okay, enough.’
Somewhere deep, deep down inside of Peek, there was a hero. I could see it. Hope blossomed again in my gooey bicep, and I affirmed it to myself.
We would become a hero, together. Nothing would stand in our way.
And so ends this week of stories. This one is actually one I put together a week or so ago, but I felt it was worth posting, and perhaps continuing at some point.
I learned a lot just from these past seven posts, about my limits, about writing, and where my strengths and weaknesses are.
For one, I learned that coming up with a unique idea or character or situation or story every day saps nearly all of my creative writing energy. I cannot work on my passion projects if I’m putting all of my writing energy into something new.
I am glad I did this for a week, but I cannot keep it up.
So from now on, I’ll be trying for only one short story a week, and I’ll keep working on my books and main stories with the time and brain energy this frees up.
Thanks for reading,