The black box

The black box

Ringo kneeling and examining the black box

It had been a very long day for Mountaineer Ringo Flinthammer.

Ringo had left the house with toddler-inflicted mystery stains on his uniform, something he hadn’t discovered until he was being dressed down for them by Captain Rugelfuss. He’d then gone on patrol, only to be badgered by a series of gnomes handing him useless items – mostly old, stale bread – and demanding silver pieces in return as a “quest reward.” After he’d stuck them in the drunk tank, he’d taken a lap around the loch, to check on reports of more Horde Runners moving through Alliance territory, and stumbled instead on a naked ogre doing his washing down in the loch.

But now, he was returning home to Flinthammer Hall, ready for a home-cooked meal, some quality time with his wife and a deep and all-too-short slumber before pulling on his boots and hood to face another day.

Except, there was a box on his doorstep.

It was rather common looking, as boxes go: a simple wooden container, about two feet wide, a foot long and high. There were no markings telling its point of origin, but Ringo’s name was stamped in big, block letters right on top. It was closed with a simple brass clasp.

Ringo looked around. The streets of Thelsamar were empty, with no one around to tell him the container’s origin.

He reached out to open the clasp and stopped. There was just the faintest sound of movement from inside the box. Ringo held his breath, waiting for more sounds, more movement, but there was nothing.

“Khaz’goroth on a cracker,” he growled to himself.

Ringo snapped his fingers at the sleepy polar bear following him. Like his master, Frostmaw had been counting on a meal and then bed. At Ringo’s urging, the bear snuffled his wet black nose all around the box. Detecting nothing interesting, he looked back up at Ringo, confused, his expression the ursine equivalent of a shrug.

“Nothin’ alive inside, eh?” Ringo muttered, tugging on his mustache. “A mechanical doohickey, Ah reckon. Mebbe a bombling?”

Frostmaw, eager to get his dinner, raised a paw to knock the box away.

“Damn it, idjit!” Ringo said, blocking the bear’s paw with the butt of his rifle. “What if it’s set ta blow? Me enemies are powerful clever, they are.”

The bear snorted in dismay and sank back on his haunches.

“Ah killed me a powerful lot of blood elves, back durin’ the Siege of Quel’Danas. Ye did, too, bear. On tha’ other hand, High Warlord Otheuym said he’d kill me after Arthas were taken care of.”

Frostmaw grunted impatiently. If the bear understood the possible danger, his stomach was close to overruling his brain.

“There’s jus’ one way ta handle this,” Ringo sighed, unlocking the toolbox he kept on the porch.

The first Beli Flinthammer knew about the box was when she heard her husband roar “FIRE IN THE HOLE!” outside, moments before the explosion rocked the house and the stench of seaforium smoke filled the air.

“Ye daft idjit!” she snarled, sticking her head out the front door, a wailing toddler in her arms. “If ye think we’ll be playin’ ‘ride the mole machine’ later tonight, ye got another think comin’!”

“B-but, baby,” Ringo stammered, waving a hand at the smoldering shards of blackened wood, “Ah saved yer life …”

“Have a nice night sleepin’ under the stars!” And with that, Beli slammed the door.

Frostmaw moaned, mournful and hungry.

Beli opened the door and let the bear in, shot another dark look at Ringo, and then slammed the door again.

“Khaz’goroth on a cracker …”

((Inspired by WTT:RP’s “Monday Afternoon Fun: The Box.” And many of the bits inside this story began life on Ringo’s (mostly) daily Twitter feed. Subscribe now or check him out on Facebook!))

4 thoughts on “The black box

  1. Hah, this was great.

    Especially Beli opening the door back up to get the bear, but leaving Ringo out!

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