Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith

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Poem: "Sauce for the Gander"

This poem is from the November 5, 2013 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from technoshaman and chordatesrock.  It also fills the "combat" square in my 8-12-13 card for the Hurt/Comfort Bingo fest.  This poem belongs to the Schrodinger's Heroes project.


Sauce for the Gander


Their second Thanksgiving as a team
was interrupted first by Chris
getting into a howling argument
with his cousin Luke over the phone

and then by an incursion
from somewhere along the Delta Vector
that involved Tasmanian warriors
riding iridescent serpentine dragons.

Chris dropped his phone,
drew his gun, and started shooting.
Kay whipped out a rifle from somewhere
and provided a wave of suppressive fire.
Pat put the carving knife to disturbingly good use.

They were outnumbered, though,
and not armed as well as usual,
so they had to retreat through the compound
toward the nearest serious weapons cache.

Alex and Ash huddled together,
hacking together a software patch
as fast as possible to jam the invading tech
while Tim helped with the math
and Bailey worked the hardware angle.

It was Quinn who spotted the dimples on the dragons
that corresponded to ears, which meant 
they were more like legless lizards than snakes
but more importantly they had a chink in their armor.
Morgan used his agility to good advantage,
dodging around the dragons to make them turn
so that Chris and Kay could shoot them.

The numbers of Tasmanian soldiers
were slowly dwindling as the team
began to gain an advantage.
The leader was trying (and failing)
to detach Schrodinger from his face.

Then the really  big dragon
poked its head through the gate,
flakes of skin showering from its scales
as it scraped and squeezed its way
through a gate the size of a garage door.

"We're gonna need some bigger guns,"
Chris said to Kay as they took cover.
"Sorry," she panted.  "Anti-tank gear
is over in the south armory. 
Also I'm running low on ammo."

Just then came the distinctive cough
of a grenade launcher going off,
followed by the bang-splat!
of the giant dragon's demise.

Chris looked up to see his cousin Luke
and a dozen other KKK hotheads
come pouring into the compound.

Luke took another shot at a smaller dragon
but missed this time, diving into cover
with Chris and Kay just in time.
Kay managed to pick off the remaining dragon
but her rapid shift nearly elbowed Luke in the face.

"People like you shouldn't be allowed to own guns,"
Luke muttered as Kay reloaded.
"What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander,"
Kay replied as she blew away a soldier
who was taking aim at Luke.

"The fuck you doing here?!"
Chris snapped at his cousin.

"You dropped your phone, dumbass,"
Luke shot back.  "It was still on.
I heard the fighting, and well ..."
He trailed off, shuffling his feet.

Family meant being there when it mattered,
even if they weren't always affectionate
with each other in word or deed.
You just didn't have to say it aloud.

Chris and Luke looked away at the same time,
each taking out their frustration on available targets.
The dead dragon clogging the gate was a problem
now that most of the Tasmanian soldiers
wanted to retreat but couldn't.

Luke gave a shrill whistle
and one of his men handed over
a brick of C-4. 
Then Luke dashed out
to slap it on the enormous corpse.

The resulting explosion cleared the gate
but dropped Luke to the ground
with a shard of dragonbone through his thigh.

Chris ran to get him, dropping flat
to shelter Luke from a spray of bullets.
Kay returned fire and the enemy soldiers fled.
Then Chris scrambled to drag Luke to safety,
both of them covered with scrapes and bruises
by the time they made it back under cover.

The last few Tasmanians fled,
leaving behind a handful of corpses
and a lot of dragon parts.
The gate sizzled and died
under Alex's deft touch.

Kay insisted on patching up Luke
over the protests of his men --
"You think the doctors at Baylor Medical Center
have any experience with injuries
contaminated by alien lifeforms?
No?  Then shut the fuck up
and let me do my other job."

Chris was there for Luke the whole time,
silently reassuring him that
Kay wasn't going to do anything harmful to him,
not that she ever would,
not that Luke would ever believe that.

Luke listened grudgingly but carefully
to Kay's instructions about taking care of the wound
and what kind of symptoms (dissolving flesh, glowing,
hatching out parasites ...) meant that he needed
to get his butt back to the compound for further attention.

Then it was Luke who had to hold Chris steady
while Kay tended the mess of deep abrasions
that he had all over his hands and face.
She glanced a wry apology at Luke,
because Chris raised fussing
to a whole new level of epic legend,
but Luke just shrugged and said,
"Seen it before, he's been like this
since he was a kid."

After that, Kay moved on
to treat the rest of the casualties,
though Luke had been the worst.

The other Klansmen stood around
until Luke said quietly,
"Make yourselves useful, boys,"
with a jerk of his head at the remains,
and then they obeyed.

Chris and Luke sat together,
side by side, not speaking anymore
but touching all along the line of their bodies.
Only after the cleanup was done
did the KKK party clear out.

"And I thought holidays
with my  family were horrible affairs,"
Quinn said as they drove away.

The whole team hated the fact
that when push came to shove,
a Klansman had put his shoulder to theirs
and done his part to stop an incursion yet again,
but they'd grit their teeth and tolerate him for Chris' sake

and if Luke found it equally embarrassing
that a bunch of brown people
helped save the world on a regular basis ...

well, that was gravy.

* * *

Notes:

The title of this poem comes from the saying, "What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander."

In our world, the Tasmanian people were wiped out in an act of genocide.

The Rainbow Serpent appears in mythology throughout Australia and neighboring cultures.  The island of Tasmania has some pretty interesting snakesLegless lizards are different from snakes, and may have more developed ears.

Suppressive fire hinders an enemy's ability to move, shoot, or otherwise pursue their mission.  A key drawback is that it burns through a lot of ammunition fast.

The Ku Klux Klan is a racist organization, sometimes known for stockpiling weapons or explosives and just generally causing trouble.

Baylor Medical Center is a hospital in Waxahachie, Texas.

Stressful family holidays do nobody any good.  There are tips for coping with the stress and dealing with bothersome relatives.

And just in case, here are tips for surviving an alien invasion.  The brains of the outfit are humans, but they're riding big dragon-snakes so that counts.

Tags: community, cyberfunded creativity, fishbowl, holiday, poem, poetry, reading, science fiction, weblit, writing
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