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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2221540
A reflection on animal treaties.
The Subjugated Beast

I guess it has always been true that, in the domestication of any wild animal, there has to be a mutual agreement on the terms of the deal. With dogs, for instance, our earliest experiment in the field, the final contract must have been that we, the humans, would provide food, shelter and warmth while they assisted with whatever tasks we became involved in, as well as providing protection in times of danger.

That’s a fairly advantageous deal for the dogs, although not as one-sided as the cat agreement, where we supply all feline needs while they only have to catch the odd rodent or two. I dare say that we humans were fairly desperate to save our dwindling grain problem at the time.

But consider the herbivore agreements we made. Those are considerably weighted in our favour, I think. Best of them is the dairy cattle contract, in which we supply food and lodging in return for a steady milk supply. But that’s an awful lot of cheese and yoghurt, remember. The male cattle, the sheep, the pigs, the goats are really only volunteering for the dinner table however. We had some good negotiators on the job by that time, obviously.

The single occasion in which we failed to reach agreement was when we tried to make a deal with the dragons. I hate to say it but I am beginning to think we were outwitted on that occasion. Talks continued for months and all sorts of innovative approaches suggested but, when it came down to it, there was one facet that always stood in the way of a settlement.

It was the damsels that proved the insurmountable obstacle, you see. No matter how the treaty was phrased and amended, it always came down to the fact that the dragons wanted damsels to be included as their sweetener. Any amount of juggling with quotas proved useless; they wanted damsels and we were as determined not to provide them.

In the end we had to make a sort of interim and makeshift treaty that would stand as a truce for a certain amount of time. Rather like the British 99-year lease of Hong Kong, in fact.

And now it looks as though the dragon treaty may be going the same way. The agreement was for two thousand years, which would have seemed an eternity at the time. But I’ve had a look and we only have three years left. Which means that the dragons are about due to return from wherever they’ve been hiding. I imagine that, by now, they’re going to be pretty hungry for damsels. Whereas we seem to be fresh out of knights in shining armour.

Don’t imagine that our advances in science and technology are going to help, either. The dragons won’t have stood still in those fields and have a clear idea of what they’re going to need.

It doesn’t bode well for us, methinks.

Word Count: 489
For SCREAMS!!! May 10, 2020
Prompt: The Subjugated Beast

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