Yeah, you read that right. Week 29’s story is a little… different.
While the germ of this story has been rattling around in my head all week, I find myself actually writing it with only a few scant hours in the week to spare.
To make it just that teensy bit more challenging, this is also after I’ve been driving for some 14 hours total today. I’m a bit on the worn out side. But the whole point of meeting this challenge is to, well, meet the challenge. So write I must, even if this is a touch irregular. I hope someone enjoys it. And yes, before you ask, I do rather like hippos as well.
For anyone joining late, I’ve challenged myself to write a short story every week for a year. If you want to catch up, you can read every short story here.
In itself, this is a repeat of a challenge I did a few years back which led to an entire collection of short stories, which you can buy as an eBook, if you would be so kind:
Want something notably different and considerably longer? There’s also my B-movie novel, Sharksplosion. It’s pretty much exactly what you’d think a book with that title might be like
Enough of the eBook plugging, Alex. On with the hippos.
New Year’s Hippo
Miranda woke up on the floor. This didn’t surprise her; it was New Year’s Day and she could just about dimly remember stumbling in through the front door, dropping her keys on the floor and then… darkness. It must have been about 3am, she figured, after finishing up at the bar with Karen and Diana seeing in the new year. Dave had been there, and Tony, and that new guy… what was his name… oh yeah, Simon.
Simon was the one who had suggested the shots at 1am, and then the drinking contest at 2, and then Miranda decided she’d had enough. There’d been an argument and then she’d called an Uber.
And now, here she was, peeling her face off the carpet next to her bed. Ah well, she thought, not the first time and probably not the last. Who needs a new year, she figured, when she was just going to do the same kind of stuff in it that she’d done for the last decade?
Suddenly, Miranda noticed that something was a little odd in her room.
Something felt.. Different. It was like there was some kind of odour in the room, and not one that she recognised. Sort of musky, quite strong and with a hint of… was that grass? Hay maybe? Nothing like anything she’d really dealt with before.
For a second or two, Miranda started to worry. Had she picked up some random guy last night and brought him home, and the smell was his?
Miranda looked up at the bed, afraid of who she might find. If it was Michael from accounts, she was never going to live it down.
The room was still spinning, but with a force of will she peered up over the edge of the bed, which was oddly sunken. How big was this guy?
That’s when she came face to face with a sleeping hippo.
Miranda did the only thing she could reasonably do under the circumstances, by fainting.
“Hey, Simon, it’s Miranda. We met in the bar last night, you remember, Karen’s whole thing…?
Yeah, it was a good night, for sure. I just wanted to ask you a question.
See, I remember the shots, and the drinking contest, and I think I remember getting into an argument with you. Something about New Year’s Resolutions, and becoming a better person, and changing…. Do you remember that?
Oh, you do? Right… so… this is going to sound all kinds of weird, but bear with me here. At any time, did I mention a hippo?
Why are you laughing? Are you responsible for the hippo that’s currently asleep in my bedroom?
Why did you.. Wait… HOW. How did you get a hippo into my room on New Year’s Eve?
You know a guy? You KNOW A GUY? WHO KNOWS A GUY THAT CAN GET A HIPPO ON NEW YEAR’S EVE?
Tiny Dan? What kind of name is Tiny Dan?
Look, maybe that doesn’t matter. What does matter, and I want to be clear here, is that there is a hippo in my house. Not like my plush hippos. Not like my porcelain hippos that I inherited from my grandmother, god rest her soul, An actual hippo.
What do you mean I should be pleased? Oh, I was talking about hippos a lot last night? Yeah, look, sorry, I know I do that a bit when I’ve had a few drinks. That does not, not, NOT give you the right to drop an actual hippo into my damned bedroom? How did you even get it up the stairs?
Tiny Dan has his ways?
Look… again, it doesn’t matter, I guess. When is Tiny Dan going to come get the damned hippo?
Left the country? So what am I meant to do? My rental agreement says no pets, not that I think I could count a 1,000kg hippo as a pet anyway. I’m amazed my bed hasn’t collapsed, really, though I guess those sheets are going to be a writeoff.
What do you mean this is my problem, because I was saying that hippos had solved all my problems in the past, and maybe they would ‘in the new year’?
How does that translate into you dumping this animal in my flat?
Hello? Simon? Hello?
You son of a bitch…”
“HI there, my name is Miranda Williamson, is that the zoo? OK, good, look, do you have hippos at the zoo?
You do? Is there any chance I could talk to one of the, I guess, keepers that look after the hippos? Oh, you’ll transfer me, lovely, thankyou so much…”
“Hi, is that the Hippo Keeper? My name is Miranda Williamson, and I have a question for you.
Are you perhaps missing a hippo?
No? Oh… OK. You see, I have this unusual problem. Please hear me out, the other zoo place hung up on me, so you’re my last hope.
You see, this idiot friend of mine decided they’d give me a hippo. No, not one of your adopt-a-hippo plaques, I’ve already got six of those from work. Yes, that’s right, I’m that Miranda Williamson, the one with the six plaques in the hippo enclosure. Anyway… they’ve left a hippo in my flat. An actual… actual hippo. It’s up there right now. I think it’s snoring.
Oh, dammit. This year is not off to a good start…”