The Hatchling at the Quarry
Heirlooming Threat: Chapter 3
Milo and Bruce were driving out to the Lampshire Granite Quarry, windows down on a warm but breezy autumn solstice. Milo kept trying to think of ways to start a conversation with Bruce, but his mind was too occupied with other thoughts. His mission was his focus; obtain money for his family to cover the back taxes owed to the IRS within the next 90 days. How exactly… he was unsure. Milo was also occupied physically, struggling to get the plastic wrapper off the to-go fork so he could try the chocolate cake he’d been given.
Bruce was the first to break the silence. “So, Milo, what’s your story? Are you running from home? And what’s with the egg? Did you take it to eat it?”
“What, no,” Milo retorted. “It’s gonna’ hatch, and I’m tryin’ to save my family, not running away.”
“Save them? From what?”
Milo felt a bit wary about discussing his family’s troubles, but at the same time, he needed help fast. Why not exhaust every resource possible, he thought. So, Milo told Bruce about the pickle he was in and how his only ideas involved selling a baby chick and reaching Coltshire in hopes of discovering opportunity or good fortune.
“Boy, I wish I could help, but I’m not all that affluent myself.” Bruce thought for a moment as he turned off the main route and onto another dirt road, this one leading toward the granite quarry. “You know what, how about I buy that baby chick off you? As soon as it hatches, I’ll give you five bucks for it. Deal?”
Plucking the egg out from its nestling zone (his woolen armpit) and examining it, Milo looked back up at Bruce and proclaimed, “Deal!” Bruce extends his hand out to Milo, and Milo shakes it, sealing the agreement.
Moments later, Bruce pulls his boxy car into an empty spot in the parking lot of the quarry, and Milo tucks away his fork in the to-go box and seals it up, setting it on the floor before gathering his things to get out. After shoveling soda and snacks into a backpack, Bruce gets out and then immediately identifies his friend’s car and heads over to chat. Milo hangs back, feeling a little apprehensive about the situation, and decides to look for the trailhead into the quarry. He’d been swapping which hand and armpit have egg incubation duty, trying not to seem too obvious and strange when doing so. Raising his canteen to his lips with his free hand, Milo takes a long drag of water, feeling terribly thirsty after all that chocolate. That’s when Bruce returned with friends in tow, ready to head up the trail.
“Hey Milo, these are my friends,” announced Bruce. “This is Templeton, but we just call him TonTon.”
“Hi, how we doin’?” said Templeton cordially.
“Hello. Good, thanks,” replied Milo, noting that Templeton was carrying in both arms what looked like a large, suspicious package wrapped in brown paper.
“And this is Fern. They’re dating,” points out Bruce, gesturing to both Fern and Templeton.
“Hey there,” says Fern, leaning forward a bit and waving. Fern was wearing a backpack like Bruce. Milo assumed she must be carrying Templeton’s rations for him while he touts this strange package, clearly a higher priority, babying it in his arms.
“Hi, nice to meet you both,” replied Milo, wondering how long they intended to stay out here today. Milo wished he could have packed more food for himself, but his family simply didn’t have the means to provide him with more than his pouch of fruit and jerky. The chocolate cake, though it wasn’t exactly nutritious, would hold him over for now.
The sun reached its midpoint in the sky, pressing down heat. The breeze relented, and Milo decided it was too hot to still be wearing a sweater. So, just before heading up the trail, he set his things down on the ground and took off the wool, feeling much better now that his body could breathe a bit more. Milo wrapped up the egg into the sweater and pressed it against his chest, continuing to incubate it. Then, he donned his canteen again and hustled to catch up with the teenagers following the path.
The Lampshire Granite Quarry was a beautiful mess. Milo could see all around him tools, supplies, and even vehicles strewn about, weathered and rusted from decades of abandonment. Pulled tight through the canopy were mechanical cables, still connected somewhere at each end. The quarry mines seemed to have been simply deserted one day, leaving behind a moment captured in time. Milo mostly stayed behind throughout the trail, taking in the sublime power of the scenery. As they approached their destination, he marveled further, walking up a tall staircase chiseled out of rock. Continuing to follow the teens’ lead, Milo sits with them, at the peak of the stairs, on a massive flattened stone speckled with grooves and bumps, creating perfect seating.
Everyone settled in and relinquished their gear, but it still wasn’t any easier for Milo to discern what was in the large package Templeton had been carrying. It was only now that he could tell it was a brown paper bag, wrapped and folded to secure the item within. Then, Templeton pulled the shapely object out and poured water from Fern’s bottle into it, which only confused Milo further.
“You guys wanna’ throw down? It’s a large piece,” asked Templeton, looking at each person there. Milo only offered a confused expression in return as Bruce and Fern began digging through their belongings.
“You know it!” exclaims Bruce, fishing out something green from a small plastic bag.
“Here you go, babe,” responds Fern, passing to Templeton a small bud of marijuana, unaware that Milo has no idea what he was seeing.
“Do you smoke?” asked Bruce, looking directly at Milo.
“No. Smoke what exactly? What’s that gizmo? Is it glass?” Milo had many more questions but bit his tongue, trying to wait for the answers to these ones first.
Templeton let out a short but loud burst of laughter. “You’ve never seen a bong? I was smoking at your age. What are you? 13?”
“I’m 14,” urged Milo defensively. “And so what, I’ve seen what booze does to people. I’m sure drugs are the same.”
“Take it easy, TonTon,” pressed Bruce, attempting to relieve any rising tension. “It’s weed – marijuana. It’s not as bad as alcohol, but no one’s pressuring you or anything. The quarry is just such a cool spot to hang. You could walk around or something. You don’t have to chill right here with the smoke.”
“It’s ok,” insisted Milo. “This is a cool spot,” he mimicked Bruce. “But I don’t want any smoke.”
“If you don’t like my fire,” Templeton began singing rhythmically while igniting a lighter with his thumb, “then don’t come around, cuz I’m gonna burn one down.”
“No, no,” said Bruce. “It’s all good. C’mon, man, he doesn’t have to.”
“Yeah, it’s fine. I’m just messin’ around,” proclaimed Templeton. “I don’t care if he doesn’t hit it, more for us.” Templeton used the lighter’s flame to ignite the green herb packed into the monstrous water piece. Milo estimated the device must’ve been over two feet tall; it looked as big as one of his sisters.
“And to answer your other question,” Fern chimed in, “it is glass, but a special kind of glass. It’s really strong and won’t crack with extreme heating and cooling.” Templeton exhaled a large cloud of smoke in one big breath overhead, handing the piece off to Fern, beginning a counter-clockwise rotation.
“Oh, wow,” responded Milo to the explanation and the smoke. He was feeling thirsty again after their hike, so he finally relinquished the wool sweater he’d been holding onto tightly in order to get a drink, revealing the large green egg wrapped within, speckled with dark spots. As soon as he set the egg down, Templeton and Fern were very interested. They both stared and then began laughing, Fern coughing up snorts of smoke, having taken her turn with the glass piece. She then passed it onward, politely skipping Milo to Bruce, who tried to settle everyone down again. Bruce did explain Milo’s predicament to Templeton and Fern while at their car. Still, they simply couldn’t help but find it hilarious when Milo provided the grand reveal.
“That’s my chick there he’s incubating,” announced Bruce proudly. “Do you really think it’ll hatch?” he asked Milo.
“I’m sure it will. My mom knows our chickens well. She said it was going to and….”
Suddenly, the egg started to wobble. It bobbled back and forth in the sweater nest for a few moments before the first crack. Then it paused.
“Why’d it stop?” complained Templeton.
“Give it a second, TonTon,” spoke up Milo, concerned for the innocent chick. The egg cracked once more and appeared to make a small hop. It delayed for only a moment longer before rippling cracks throughout the entire shell and bursting open with new life. Before them all sat a fat, sticky chick with bits of shell stuck to its wet body, lounging in the now filthy wool sweater. The newborn chick was extra-large in size with fluff all over instead of feathers and was pied in coloration. The piebald pattern was primarily black with patches of white and a smattering of grey spots all over. Working on a farm, Milo always felt proud when he helped to bring new life into the world. But looking down at this baby chick, he knew she was something special.
About the Creator
Jesse Terrance Daniels
Jesse is the founder of Pied Raven Games, and his first card game, Hibernation, won Best Family Game in 2018. He currently has a book in the process about game design. The book, titled Make Your Own Board Game, will be available 08/2022.
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