Here’s the beginning of The Ogre Stud and the Motor in the Mud, a brand-new short story by Cassandra Flicker!
Lisa loved her new house. She had always wanted to live in an old-fashioned little farmhouse, and now she did. It was rickety and drafty and a little spooky at first, but it was everything she hoped it would be.
The land, however, was less appealing. The reason she could buy this land for a steal was that it simply wasn’t very good land — it had been farmed, briefly, but the family gave up decades ago. That’s why the farmhouse had been abandoned.
She went out one day to meet a local with a truck, whom she had hired to come help her. There was a large mud pit on her property, about a half-mile from her house. It was located where a couple of hills met, and it was down in the valley between them all. It looked like it would be perpetually muddy. If there was just a little more rain around here, it would have been a pond.
And there was an engine in it. An entire engine block, as though a car had vomited up its innards then crawled somewhere else to die. It was covered in inky black mud and moss.
So she had hired a local with a truck to pull it out. His name was Frederick, and he spoke like Boomhauer but he was very nice. He wasn’t helpful though. “I can’t get my truck in the mud there, miss, you gonna need a tow truck.”
She sighed and thanked him for trying. She even paid him twenty dollars, which was half of what she had offered to pay him. It felt like a rip-off since he hadn’t actually done anything, but she didn’t want to get a reputation as a skinflint among her new neighbors.
So now what to do? She had a feeling hiring a tow truck to come out here was going to cost hundreds of dollars. She could just leave the engine. It wasn’t hurting anything.
She decided to go to her neighbor, Dwayne. He was a bit weird, very intense and off-putting, so she didn’t really want to talk to him. But he was her only neighbor, and he had a small, successful beet farm. She thought he might know how to get the engine out, or at least he could satisfy her curiosity about why it was there.
“The engine? Oh yes, Martin Huffenpatter was drifting in the mud, doing donuts. He had done a lot of mods on his truck, making it purr like a kitten, and he spent a lot of time making sure the engine worked. He spent very little time making sure it was adequately secured within the body of the car in which it didn’t fit.” He leered and laughed. “As soon as he finished his run, he got out of the car, slammed the door and all of the car’s insides plopped right out in the mud.” Dwayne frowned, disappointed that she didn’t find the story as amusing as he did.
“Oh. I don’t suppose you have any bright ideas on how to get rid of it.”
“I could do it. I’ll get rid of it for a thousand dollars,” he said with a grin.
“Um… Lemme think about it,” she said. She was about to ask if he had a tow truck — maybe she could just rent it from him and do it herself — when he snapped at someone in the house behind himself.
“Hush, Elijah,” he said. He looked to Lisa. “Sorry, that’s my brother. He’s an ogre.”
“Oh. I, uh… Okay.”
She left soon after that. It was clear neither Dwight nor his weird brother, whom she didn’t even know existed until just now, could help her. Dwight didn’t have a tow truck. Apparently his plan, in its entirety, was to take her money and hire a tow truck himself. She could just do that directly.
Overnight, Lisa had an idea that she was pretty sure was stupid. She could, maybe, slide the engine block onto planks of wood that could be slid over the mud, like skis. She had no idea how feasible that was, but it seemed like the kind of thing that might work.
So on her morning jog, Lisa went to the mud pit just to see what it looked like again, with that plan in mind. Could she lift the engine block just a few millimeters to start wedging it under a piece of wood?
But she was distracted when she came near the mud pit because she saw a man standing there. He towered high, well over seven feet tall, and broad-shouldered like a bull. He had a thick, squat face that wasn’t exactly handsome — his features were squashed and thick and bulgey like his muscles — but there was something about him that was appealing too.
He had the engine block in his hands, dragging it through the mud. He glanced in her direction but didn’t acknowledge her. Finally he had the engine block out of the mud, laying on the side of the road. His shirtless frame was sticky with sweat and splattered with mud.
“Hello.” He had one of those ultra-deep voices, so baritone it hurt to listen to it.
Lisa blushed. “Hi.” She cleared her throat. “Uh, did you really just drag that engine block?” She would never have guessed that was possible. Even the strongest man in the world couldn’t do that, she thought.
He nodded and looked at her for a long time. “You are a very pretty lady. I will not eat you.”
“Oh.” Lisa had to blush and giggle because she was so nervous. “I, uh… I won’t eat you either.”