Pluck loved his mound. He’d made it himself over the years, adding bits of skin here and there and laying Matilda’s babies safely inside when her time came. Flies aren’t that fussy where their babies hatch, as long as it’s warm and moist, with some form of breakfast nearby. Pluck always saved a bit of meat from the dinner table to put in his skin mound. Mother usually liked everything from a human carcass but she wasn’t that fond of elbow meat, so father didn’t mind if a few bits went missing while he was cooking. He even gave Pluck scraps of skin before crisping the rest up in the fire. Mother’s favourite!
One piece of skin had been taken from the forehead of the great crustie warrior Fionn MacCumhaill, so his father had told him. It had the dark shiny patch from the burns of his own spear, a technique used to keep himself awake to protect the citizens of Tara from the fire breathing man of Sidhe, which proved it was the genuine forehead, said his father. True or not, it did look pretty in pride of place at the top of his fleshy mound. Until he’d had to remove it to make a choker for a girl he’d liked at the Bodyarium. She was a trainee doctor and he’d served her some toe gruel in the staff canteen. She came over before she left to thank him for the lovely meal, which was unusual in itself. The staff canteen wasn’t renowned for its culinary prowess (blamed by the head chef on the doctors stealing leg, hand and feet ingredients from the cool tunnel). But it was the way she smiled at him, the way her eyes flickered slightly as she gazed gently upon him, and how she had touched his fingers like a whisper as she’d left that made Pluck sure she would pick him as a potential suitor, IF he got the gift EXACTLY right. He crafted the choker out of dried gut and hairhemp and prepared the story from the crust of the legendary MacCumhaill. He waited for ages until she finished work and gave it to her on the Bodyarium steps. She didn’t say much, and he didn’t see her or the choker again. At home his father had given him a large cut of shoulder skin, saying that Mother hadn’t fancied her human crispy that night. Unusual.
Anyhow, Pluck covered his mound entirely with that skin and vowed never to forsake his fleshy friend for a girl (or any subterranean for that matter) ever again. As he drifted off to sleep, Pluck caressed his clammy friend, and, in a way, subtle but affectionately, his mound snuggled him back.