Brother Flit Tail by Darron Patton with guest author Mathew Crymbal

Brother Flit-Tail
by Daron Patton (with guest author Matt Crymble)

"Damn my leg hurts, Doc. Hope Glook and K'zak Ree made out better than I did.

What in gods' names is that?!!! You're not gonna knock me out. I don't care about any flippin' oath of yours. I'm the team leader until I get fired or killed. I don't need help in either of those categories just now!

I don't care about that. You want to dope me up, you wait until the rest of my team checks in, you got me? Huh, oh that's just a tattoo I got on my first tour of duty.

Ow!! Hey, I thought I told you no drugs, you son of a krik! Just Staydose, eh? Well see this blaster here? Next hypo you stick in me without my crew around me and I'll be the one giving the shots. Damn leg.

Gahhhhh, that hurts. Easy with that thing! Huh? It's supposed to be Brother Flit-Tail. He's kind of a... Wha--.

Sorry, zoned out there for a second. Glook back yet? Huh? Brother Who? Oh, Brother Flit-Tail. Yeah, he's kind of a myth back where I come from. You sure ask a lot of questions, Doc. Yeah, I guess I got nothin' better to do.

Let's see, I must have been about ten when Great-grandfather first taught me about Brother Flit-Tail. That was what he and all the old timers used to call dzelts. They're bugs about this long and they are everywhere on Yast's favorite moon. Yeah, everyone who's ever been to Exib knows about flit-tails. They're just about as common there as mulkis riding and gett-birds.

Anyway, dzelts used to, and as far as I know still do, scare a lot of Yazzie children. Mainly because they look so scary, the bugs, I mean. Of course, It's been a dozen years or more since I've last been back. I guess that's part of the reason, the flit-tails being scary, I mean, that somebody made up the story in the first place. Brother Flit-Tail, that is.

If you dread the Medib fly
Let your Brother Flit-Tail lie
If by chance Flit-Tail you kill
Fill a bowl of mulk to spill

Kind of an idiotic little verse, isn't it? Funny how a little thing like that can bring back such memories though. Great grandfather was a warrior, too, you know. Didn't talk about it much, but you could tell he was proud of having fought beside the humans in the Big War.

He knew funny alien words, human and dral words for things. Used to use 'em now and again. 'Course, I didn't understand 'em back then. They were phrases he picked up from soldiers during the War, I guess.. He'd use them without really thinking. Never really dwelt on how he knew them, as far as I know. Unconscious link to his younger days, I suppose.

Damn this leg. I thought Staydose was supposed to make it stop hurting. Oh, that's all it does then?

No, I told you already, I don't want to be unconscious. I've got troops unaccounted for out there. You just keep a sharp look out for them and make sure we don't get jumped by the worms. Damned stupid trying to hit this convoy. Those Saurians sold us bad intel, Doc. They're first on the list when we get out of here. Mark my words. We got juked here, pure and simple.

What'd he do after his warrior years? Well, after soldiering Great-grandfather mined for awhile. That is he did up until the blue lung set in and forced him to retire. When I knew him, I was a young whelp then you understand, he was just a part-time farmer.

He was short and bony, 'bout as tall as your average human. But Zow! What amazing strength for his size. I remember trying to wrestle him, as pups'll do and having him hold me down like I was nothing. He didn't have to use his body weight to subdue me, his limbs were more than strong enough to do the job nicely.

Sometimes I wish I had spent less time trying to wrestle and more time listening. You ever regret stuff like that, Doc? I guess everybody does.

He and great-grandmother raised a small garden and enough gett-hens to keep the family fed. Occasionally they'd have a good year and produce enough eggs to sell, but mostly they just raised enough for us to get by on. Ha, ha. I spent a lot of warm autumn days chasing those four-legged birds around the yard and just about as many shivering autumn evenings salving the welts great gran put on my backside for running the fat off them.

She and great-grandfather raised me and Heena after our parents died in a crash on some world. I never see her anymore, Heena. 'think she joined SpaceFleet, but nobody in our family really knows for sure, though. We really didn't get along too good after our parents died. We were both pretty angry about a lot of things.

Hey! My leg's not hurting anymore, Doc. From the way you're looking at it, I guess that's not good, is it?

I was playing with a flit-tail, ya see and I must have been playing too rough, 'cause he pinched me. I didn't really mean to crush 'em, but it was kind of a reflex. You know reflexes, Doc. Anyhow, I picked him up and took him to Great-grandfather. I was all teared up by the time I got to the house. I figured he was going to yell and scream at me, maybe even beat me. Killin' a dzelt's a superstitious thing on Exib.

You know what he did? He patted me on the head and took me inside the kitchen. He told Great-grandmother what had happened. She looked kind of upset, but she could see that I had been crying, see? I tried to be all grown up about it, but I figured I had really messed things up for the farm. So, she whispers something in his ear and he reaches up in the shelf and pulls down a little bowl. Then me and him, we walked out to the barn where old Beex stayed.

Ever seen a mulkis? You've not missed much. Great-grandfather hands me the bowl and tells me to fill it up with mulk. I'd mulked Beex for a couple of years by that time, but I was so nervous that I grabbed her too hard. She yelped and gleephed like I shot her with a gyrojet or something. I got my nerve back, though and pretty soon, I had the mulk.

What was the purpose? Well, legend has it that if you kill a flit-tail, you gotta leave a bowl of mulk out overnight for his family. In the morning, if you find sting-fly pieces floating in the mulk, the dzelts accepted your apology. Unhh. Heh, heh, heh.. I guess after all these years, it's finally caught , caught up with me. Doc, you gotta promise me something. You gotta make sure Heena knows that I appreciated what she did for me.

What did she do? Well, she knew how upset I was that night and she didn't go out to the barn until after she thought I had fallen asleep. But gods knew I couldn't rest and I wondered what she was doing leaving the house in the middle of the night. She was the one who put the sting-fly wings into the mulk. She didn't want me to worry, to spend my whole life thinking I was jinxed. Guess I was pretty lucky after all, huh, Doc? Yeah, pretty lu--........"

Your brother died a valiant death, Heena. He wanted you to know how much he appreciated you and the gesture you made so many years ago. He also wanted you to know that he was very proud of you. I enclose his khad'dan and a voucher card for an unspecified sum that he wanted you to have. I am a better person for having known him.


Dr. Sadzit Lepnum Senior Physician


Merc Team 5011A