Night Work: Pixel Prose Challenge



DSC03203 Photos and Fiction © Steve Lakey 2014

I’ve never been a morning person – waking up has always been a struggle. So I thought it made sense to go for interviews for Night shift jobs. It didn’t really matter what, as long as there were no early starts.
And that’s how I found myself walking down a driveway in rural South Yorkshire, towards the entrance of Roy’s Exotic Animal Park.

Deidre, a disinterested bleached blonde at the ticket booth, stared at me for a while before removing her gum and sticking it on the desk. I showed her my letter. She didn’t bother to make further eye contact.
“Oh, you’re one of those here about the Night Work. You’re the third one we’ve had here this week. They never seem to last long. Roy, the Boss, said I made a mistake when I typed the letter. He said ‘night’ should have a ‘k’ at the start. Must be old English or something. Anyway, the suit of armour is over there. You can start straight away.”
I wasn’t expecting that! “No interview? I thought I’d be working with the animals on the night shift. Now you’re saying I’ve got to put armour on! I don’t think so!”
“Roy says he’ll pay you double-time if you’re still here at the end of the week!”
“Where do I get changed?” It seemed an offer to good to miss.

Twenty minutes later, I shuffled up to the ticket booth, in full knight gear, proudly holding my battle axe and shield. I’d already had my photo taken with several visitors. Double pay, eh? Not bad.

Deidre tapped on the window and pointed me down the path. “Follow it ’til you see the dragon. Even you can’t miss it!”
I slowly clanked away down the gravel track, waving at kids as I went.

I saw a semi-circle of families standing around in the wood. Everyone with cameras and phones at the ready. They cleared a path for me. The dragon, sitting on a wooden perch, had already started turning its head back and forth, with smoke coming out its nostrils. A pretty cool animatronic, I had to admit. I crashed the axe against my shield, and got a few half-hearted cheers. The Beastie’s eyes turned from yellow to red!

Then I started playing it up for the crowd. Beckoning the dragon on, doing a fair attempt – under the circumstances – at a moonwalk, and trash-talking to that cowardly creature. The cameras clicked merrily away.

But I ignored the golden rule. Never turn your back on a dragon, especially a live one! I was bowing to the crowd, when I heard a gasp, followed by a look of horror, before they all began to flee. I felt, rather than heard, the wings flapping behind me. Instinctively, I sank to my knees and put the shield above my head. The dragon landed on it with a thump. I could feel myself getting crushed under its weight.

It was then that the dragon whispered (yes, whispered) to me.
“Hi, my name’s Nigel. The Job Centre sent me yesterday. Apparently, if we last to the end of the week, we’re on double pay!”
“We’d better make it look good then!”

And we did. First he attacked, then I countered. The crowd slowly drifted back as we ‘fought’ around the wood until we could fight no more. I borrowed a camera and took a selfie of us both. Our audience went wild.

Me and Nigel kept our jobs all summer. As long as we pulled in the punters, Roy was happy. We stayed on double money.

Well, you know what they say, ‘It’s knight work if you can get it’!


The photos and fiction were prompted by the Pixel Prose Challenge, 31st August 2014, hosted by Amanda Lakey at For more information, click the logo.


 To view other posts in this challenge, click the blue frog.

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