All necessary translations have been made.
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Old Captain Xanthus’ thoughts were elsewhere as he cradled Daydream in his nitrile gloved hands. Daydream kicked her cool gray feet against his fingers and flipped onto her back, her pretty floral toad suit riding up to expose her soft pale toady belly. She wiggled a little to get completely comfortable in her somewhat instinctive posture. In eons past, wild true-type Earth toads had flipped onto their backs to evade predators by playing dead. If that did not work, some toads were toxic and would flip back over and vigorously push the poisonous glands on their backs up against the predator on top of them.
But, Daydream was a highly valued chimera toad who was light-years away from that precarious past, and who would never need to worry in that way. Gazing coyly up at Xanthus with light in her crystalline blue eyes, Daydream was happy at his attention and secure in his affection. With a contented croak she emitted the insectile scent of her diet of grubs, spiders, worms, insects, slugs, snails, and other invertebrates, all given to her as often as she liked by her wonderful Xanthus, who culled them from the spacecraft’s garden habitat.
Xanthus considered this old toad, his companion for the thirty or more years that he had run this ship solo. He was retired now, and could tell that his more constant attention made Daydream very happy. She gazed with trust into his eyes as she relaxed in his hands, just one sharp toxic claw hooked lightly around his thumb. He stroked under her chin and felt her relax. Everyone trusted Xanthus. Daydream’s eyes were beautiful, as were the eyes of all chimera toads, but her were a little more beautiful because Daydream’s bright blue eyes were set in a velvet black face especially bioengineered to express emotion. She was a very uncommon chimera toad, and as Xanthus lightly stroked her, she made her creaking, rasping striations of love, from her heart to his. But he did not have time to linger this morning. He had a meeting to attend, a meeting of the Spacecraft Retirees Association in the neighborhood where he had moored his spacecraft since retirement. Xanthus lightly tapped the dome of Daydream’s head, smiled playfully into her eyes, then tossed her into the co-pilot’s chair. She responded to the game with a springy bounce to the floor, then hopped up and down the ramp into her well-appointed terrarium. She was a sturdy, plump toad, with turquoise curls which she flaunted like an amphibian virtual reality star.
Daydream was small but fearless. Xanthus remembered when she was young and had suddenly followed him into the cargo bay when he went out to chase a wayward snake back into the garden habitat. He had run toward the snake to corner it, and Daydream had joined to hunt. As he ran, she paced him at an angle that invited him to secure the snake so that she would have better access to dispatch it with the natural bufotoxins from the parotoid glands on her back. What a brave little toad, the snake had been many, many times her size. He had scooped her up, cornered the snake, and sorted one back into her terrarium, and the other back into the garden to attend to its appointed task of rodent control.
Xanthus loved Daydream for the loyal, beautiful pet that she was. If only...if only he had had someone to love and cherish as he had cherished this little chimera over the years. This morning his thoughts were on a female whom he had loved many years ago, a female who had left him, a female whom he knew that he still loved. This female had had light in her eyes, the light of love, and this female had trusted him, a higher level of trust that he had not been able to protect. He had failed her, and fate had taken her away.
Xanthus hurried now. He washed his hands of any chance toad secretions, changed into nicer clothes, and gathered the things he would need for the meeting. He was excited, maybe a little anxious, because at this meeting he would see her, the female in his thoughts this morning, and truth be known, in his thoughts every morning. She had returned from wherever she had been all these years, and now she would be at the homeowners’ meeting, today! By incredible good fortune for Xanthus, she had moved into his neighborhood just a few days ago. He wondered how would it be, to be with her again and after so long? Xanthus felt so much affection and tenderness for this female from his past. He had called her last night, told her with pleasure that he would be at the meeting, and had listened to the responding pleasure in her voice. He promised her a gift of her favorite flowers from his on-board greenhouse: old-fashioned, frothy-petaled peonies, cushioned in long green fern fronds. He gathered the beautiful flowers in his arms. On the way out he glanced down at Daydream and saw that she was daydreaming in a doze as she usually did when left on her own.
Daydream was not dozing, she had been luxuriating in the happiness of Zanthus’ presence as he bustled about their spacecraft. With some regret her attention on him faded as his footsteps faded. In her terrarium, centered squarely in the middle of the cockpit, she took stock of her territory. “Mine.” She thought with satisfaction as she gave the tiniest of squeezes to test the toxin level of her glands, yes, full. “Mine, all mine.” She repeated resolutely, gazing about her inalienable domain.
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This work is copyright protected. It is a work of fiction. Incidents, places, and names (especially those of alien entities) are products of the author/artist’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to actual events or persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Caption: Chimera Toad Named Daydream
by Annmarie Throckmorton 2016