Fishing for compliments by Pete Warner

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SUMMARY: August flash fiction entry - theme: flirting.

To the circling crow's dark bead of an eye, the two heads appeared to float disembodied on a field of green slime. Lank, wet, iron-gray hair obscured the face of the female, as if in mockery of the vast luminescent sheets of moss that hung from the crooked trees like the beards of long dead giants. Eyes as dark as loam peered from beneath the hair, stared unmoving at the other head.

That other head, a male, was bald as a stone, loose mottled skin clinging desperately to a slightly pointed skull: a pale walnut of a head abutted by enormous ears. Pale blue eyes stared back at the woman, totally still.

A jagged squawk from the crow cut through the crepuscular din of the insect host screaming its mindless victory as the feeble daylight begun its inevitable surrender. Circled twice more before landing on the bald head. Pecked at a huge, fleshy ear and tugged.

A skinny arm shot through the thick crust of pond scum, aimed to mash the bird to a feathered and bloody pulp, but a fraction too slow. Succeeded only in slapping himself loudly and wetly on the head.

The woman's loud snort caused her grey hair curtain to billow out revealing a hook nose and a faint moustache.

"One to me," she said.

"No way Erdath." retorted the man. "I know you've been training that crow in secret. You malignant, shriveled hag."

"Shriveled? Rich coming from you, Ergert. You look like a scrotum with a face."

"And that moustache makes your face look like a pudenda. Explains the wiry hairs on your head too."

"Stop stalling, idiot. One to me, and the count to come. Or do you just want to concede?"

"Stalling? I can't get a damned word in. Just get on with it woman. Light'll be gone soon and the Rind-flies come out and then we'll be nothing but husks."

"No change in your case then."

"Get to the buckets, putrescent witch, and we'll see. I'll give you a head start on account of your vast antiquity."

"Generous of you. Though, only fair, given the advantage that the webbing between your toes gives you in water."

They traded insults, back and forth across the surface, as they slowly waded through the scum. Their age-bent bodies were rimed in virulent green foam as they slipped and staggered their way to the bank of the pond where waited two matching plain wooden rope-handled buckets.

They emerged onto the mud, shivering and dripping with filth, and as the green crust streaked with run-off water, looked over each other's pallid, gnarled forms with admiring glances and approving murmurs that might have seemed deliberately perverse to an observer, given that, though they were no clothes of any sort, they were not precisely naked. In the wan, late afternoon light, they glistened. They writhed. Their bodies were landscapes of seething horrors.

Making sure she had Ergert's attention, Erdath reached up with boney hands, not that she had to reach very far, and circled each sagging breast with a wet finger. Spiraled in towards the areolas. Grasped in each hand one of the thick, black leeches affixed to her nipples like demented grub children.

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