Short Story Review: “Toward the Back” by Jake Teeny

3 of 5 stars.

It’s said that everyone is the hero of their own story. However, in this humorous short tale, that might not be the case for the cowardly “Cheech and Chong” orc duo trying to find any excuse not to enter battle.

Glob and Teacup like to hang out at the back of the battling hordes where action can be avoided. Their commander, Riser Har’n’Zerk, always pushes them toward the front. He’s ordered them to ready themselves by donning human blood as face paint. Without human blood, the slacker duo daub on some mud when they next see Zerk approaching.

“What’s that on your face?”

“This?” said Teacup. “Just your typical, standard issued, human blood, sir.”

“Yes,” said Glob. “The blood of our forsworn and eternal enemy. Let the True Shadow stretch on forever!”

“Human blood? Why’s it so thick? And brown?”

“Well, you see,” began Teacup, giving Glob a sidelong glance, “with the angle of the sun in conjunction with the dilution of our perspiration–”

“Enough!” growled their commander. “Just make sure you add a fresh coat when you reach the frontlines.”

“Of course, sir,” said Glob.

“Indubitably,” said Teacup.

Satisfied, Riser Har’n’Zerk tramped through the other orcs and back to his center position.

. . . “You did great. Conjunction. Dilution. I knew you’d come up with some big words to confuse him.”

Teacup looked down, abashed. “It’s not all about who can swing their sword the fastest.”

This tale appears in Abbreviated Epics, a Third Flatiron Anthology, edited by Juliana Rew.
 
 
 
[Check out my other reviews here.]

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