by Jon H.
(Winner, 1st Place, 2016)
A down-on-his-luck private ooze from Jubilance Slimetown is asked to investigate a possibly-philanderous husband's activities.
Warning: Mature language.
She glooped into my office with a sway that had to have been crafted by an angel. She was a soft pink, with a glisten to her skin that sent my mind reeling. And her curve... I realized I was staring shortly before she did (I hope), and covered it up by finally saying, “Hello, miss...?”
“Tbbrrp,” she squeaked, and I'll be damned if her voice didn't sound like the bubbling of the finest champagne. Her next words were like salt against my membrane. “Mrs. Tbbrrp.” Married. Damn it all. I tried not to let my disappointment color me, and asked her what a nice girl like her needed with a slime like me.
Her gentle pink hue was intruded upon by a frustrated orange. “It's about my husband.” Call me a bastard if you want, but my gut reaction to that was thinking that maybe I had a shot after all. Still, saying something would've been yet another in the long list of mistakes I've made in life, so I kept quiet as she went on.
“He's been acting so strangely lately. He's out all day long, not returning until late, and he'll never tell me where he's gone. And there are such strange oils within him, with no explanation! I don't know what he's doing any more!” Well, it seemed pretty obvious to me, but I wasn't gonna tell her her husband was cheating without proof, so I promised to look into it, and told her my rates – a rundle and five guilders per day – and, without the expectation of any further guests in my little office, I decided to set out while the weather was decent.
The rain kept falling, as it had been all day. The cobbles under me were full of garbage and less savory things, but the shower from above was pure and pleasant, so I guess it wasn't too bad. I didn't have much of a lead to go on, but then, that wasn't anything new. Made my work harder. Not impossible.
I at least knew what direction the philandering slimeball was leaving home in, so that's where I started my search. Once I got far away enough that I figured he might start getting a little careless about being seen, I began asking around about the iron slime, hoping someone had seen him going about his business. First bar didn't have anything, and neither did the second. Third had nothing but trouble in it, but I should've expected as much from Lyin' Leon. It's right there in his name.
The fourth finally gave me something to go on – one of the regulars, after a round courtesy of yours truly, said that he saw an iron slime headed for the dockyards. Seeing as iron slimes were a damn rare sight even in such a metropolitan Slimetown, it seemed like I might have an idea of where to find my man.
My head was swimming even more than usual, as I pulled myself back together. I could still hear the thug talking, but I couldn't make out the words for a few moments. Something about asking questions, I don't doubt. He stepped on me. Bastard stepped on me, scattered me all over the street. I could taste the sewage on my skin.
As I returned to my usual squished teardrop shape, the words he was saying returned to clarity as well. “...seen him. An' it don't matter, anyway. Roi don't care about why you're snoopin', he don't want anyone snoopin' on his turf!” His breath was awful, like he'd been eating nothing but garlic for the last month. I knew I was gonna regret this, but I was pissed enough not to care.
“Now get lost, before-” I never learned what would happen to me if I didn't get lost, because I jumped straight at his stupid face, and by the time he reacted, I was forcing myself into his mouth and down his throat. Wasn't too bad in retrospect; a lot better than the garbage on the street had been. Of course, that meant he was tasting garbage as well as slime, so he probably would've disagreed.
I sat half in his mouth for a bit, enjoying the dumbfounded fear on his face, before finally letting him spit me out as he started to turn a weird shade of purple. He promptly bolted for an alley, from which soon emerged the sounds of vomiting. I turned to his two friends and chirped softly; one of 'em promptly dropped his cudgel to clap both hands over his mouth, and the other started blabbering like an idiot. Eventually he managed to spit out that he'd seen a funny-looking slime head into Madame Simone's warehouse, so I thanked him and made myself scarce before the leader stopped horking.
Madame Simone wasn't too hard to find. There's still work at the docks to be done even when the rain is pouring, and where there's hard work there's hungry workers, and where there's hungry workers there's good business for food carts. I bought a meat pie off of her – only polite to give some business before distracting her – and then squeaked the million dollar question: if she knew the whereabouts of Mr. Tbbrrp.
“Oh, him? I certainly do know where he is; he's helping me out. And it's about time for a break, come to think of it,” she said as she started to push the cart along once more. She didn't head far, though. Once we'd headed down a side-street with no one to snoop on us, she opened a door in the side of her cart, and I squirmed back from the sudden heat. A complicated arrangement of brass pipes was within; the elderly chef reached down to open a large valve, and soon, sludge started dripping out of it.
No, not sludge. Slime.
The small, dark-red slimelets came flowing out of the pipeworks, still darting about erratically and energetically, the rain hissing as it vaporized on contact with the iron slime's currently boiling-hot bodies. Once most of him had gotten out of the contraption, he began to reform, tiny droplets merging into the full body of Mr. Tbbrrp, husband and apparently part-time food heater.
We had a serious conversation, ignoring Madame Simone's occasional comments on how adorable we looked as we trilled at one another. She'd been looking for a way to bake pies on-the-go, and Tbbrrp's ability to split himself up and heat up as he moved at high speeds had proven ideal. She'd had a track made for him to race along, and the heat from it finished baking the pies as she sold them. He was getting paid more per day then I was to look into things, too. He'd taken it up as a second job, to save up and surprise the missus with a honeymoon to Boru.
Before long, Simone and Tbbrrp were on their way again, and I was headed back to my office, the meat pie breaking up inside my body as I was lost in thought. Cute couple, they deserved each other, they'd do fine... What the hell was I gonna tell Mrs. Tbbrrp to keep the secret but still get paid?