The Taste of Revenge
"Mom! MOM!" a young boy cried.
"Yes, dear? Yes, dear?" his mother asked with a laugh.
"It's not funny," he whined.
She gently scooped him up and set him on her lap. "Sweetie, he's your brother," she tried to reason.
"Yeah, I know," he replied in an agreeable yet still upset tone. "I still don't like him following me everywhere though. I mean, this is a big place. He doesn't need to go everywhere I go. He deserved to get left behind."
"When you want to be with me, where do you go?" she asked softly.
"Why, to you of course," he answered, wondering why she'd ask a question with such an easy answer.
"Do you decide when you want to be with me?"
"No," he giggled. "I can't decide when I feel things. It just happens."
"Then, can you really be angry at your little brother for wanting to be with you all the time?"
There was a pause. "That's not fair! You were trying to make a point this whole time and didn't tell me," he complained.
"If I had, I might not have made it," she said with a smile. "Although, I understand how having a constant shadow may upset you. Children often like to be independent. They want to grow up so fast and be like adults."
"Yes, that's true," he replied. "I want to learn to take care of others just like you and dad can."
His mother's lips curled up all the more. "I'm glad you feel that way," she told him. "I know a good way of learning how to do that, something you can do even at your age."
"Yes? What is it? he asked eagerly.
"Take care of your brother."
"Aw, mom! You need to start warning me when you're making a point," he told her, though they were both laughing.
The sound of footsteps became noticeable, and both of them turned to see another young boy carried by his father. The father's expression was solemn, and the boy was crying. As the child was set down, the boy got off his mother's lap and came over to him. He looked back to his mother and she nodded.
"Hey uh, Strut?" he asked the crying child.
"Yeah?" Strut answered, wiping his eyes.
He turned his head away, then looked back to Strut while only moving his eyes before saying, "You want to go somewhere- with me?" As he finished the question, he turned his face back to his brother.
"You really mean it, Ozzie? You're letting me go with you to places?" Strut asked with a sparkle in his eyes.
"Uh, just one place for now, okay?" he said slightly reluctantly.
"Okay!" Strut answered, jumping up and down.
"Are you sure he's only one minute younger?" Ozzie asked their parents.
"Go on, you two," their mother replied with a smile. "Be back before dark."
"We will!" Strut exclaimed before grabbing Ozzie's hand and taking off.
Ozzie's "Whoa!" echoed through the air as their parents lovingly watched them go.
"I don't think Strut will come crying to you again, at least for a while," their mother said. "I hope the importance of being with his brother has finally sunk in."
"While I enjoy little Strut coming to me, I do wish it would be under better circumstances more often. I worry about that boy," their father said.
"Strut seemed to cheer up rather quickly," she replied.
"Exactly, and that's why I worry about Ozzie."
"What do you mean?"
"Strut just keeps coming back to him over and over, no matter how hurt he gets about being left behind. I worry about Ozzie because he just can't seem to notice how special it is to have such a devoted brother."
She came up behind him, wrapping her arms around his neck while leaning on him gently. "That's what parents are for; we're here to raise him right. No matter how long it takes, I'm sure we'll teach Ozzie to appreciate his brother more."
"I'm sure he will in time, but that's not what worries me about him most."
"Doesn't Ozzie seem rather- obsessive? It's like, he just can't let things go. Just the other day, he was stung by a buzzing buzzer, and even though he was in pain, he chased that little thing down for a good while until he caught it and squashed it. Most kids would have been worried about the sting and left the creature alone."
"He's diligent, that's what."
"When diligence is used unnecessarily, it can be an issue. I just hope he learns someday what things are and aren't worth perusing. Chasing after things that are best forgotten can lead to a lot of trouble. As his parents, we're going to have to work with him on that."
"I see what you're saying and I agree. I'm just glad we're still so young. We have plenty of time to teach our children the values they need to be independent, practical adults."
Her mate nodded in agreement, and they both say together, side by side, admiring the nature around them.
The two brothers stood in a wide, open area. There was a small swamp, leafy trees and stumps scattered about, and a few plants that needed little water to survive within the landscape.
"Okay, let's play!" Strut exclaimed. He quickly tapped Ozzie on the shoulder then jumped back. "Tag, you're it!" He jumped around playfully, tapping him again when he didn't respond, while shouting more, "Tag you're it, you're it!" He was laughing heartily the whole time, but when Ozzie simply gave him a bemused look, he said, "Hello. You run. I tag. Get it?"
"Um, no. I don't," Ozzie answered.
"Oh yeah, you weren't there when that Long Neck was talking about this game."
"That one family that lives not too far from ours, up on that nearby hill."
"Ah, I remember now. They have a son, right?"
"So how do you play this game?" Ozzie asked.
"It's really simple. One of us is it, and must tag the other who becomes it. Then that one must tag the other," Strut explained.
"So we take turns touching each other? How is that supposed to be fun?" Ozzie wanted to know.
"It's more than just that," Strut said with a grin. He poked Ozzie's shoulder and started running away, shouting, "You have to catch me first!"
"Heh," Ozzie said, a smile spreading across his own face. "Not a problem," he said, and with that, he took off after his brother.
After a while, they both came to stop to catch their breath.
"This was- fun at first," Ozzie said between huffs, "But with just two- it gets boring- pretty fast."
"Yeah," Strut agreed, then added, "I'm hungry."
"Come to think of it, I am too."
The brothers took a good look at their surroundings. Their game had taken them a good ways away from where they had started playing. A few shrubs decorated the ground here and there, though there was little more to eat than there was before.
"Ugh, I'm not in the mood for this stuff," Ozzie complained.
"Mom and dad said it's really good for us."
"Yeah, too bad they're yucky. I wish there were some tree sweets around here."
"But they said eating those too often is bad for us, and we had some earlier today."
"Why does good food taste bad and bad food taste good? I hate how that works," Ozzie complained. He sighed heavily and slumped into a sitting position.
"Not all good food tastes ba- Ozzie watch out!" Strut exclaimed as Ozzie started to lie down.
He jerked back up. "What!"
"You were about to crush those eggs," Strut explained, pointing at a full nest.
"Whoa, thank you."
Ozzie stared at the nest for quite some time. Strut finally broke the silence. "Um, Ozzie?"
"Huh? Oh, sorry."
"Is something wrong?"
"I was just- thinking," Ozzie replied, still gazing at the nest.
"Wait, you're not thinking what I think you're thinking, are you? Remember what mom and dad told us…"
"Yeah, yeah. 'Just because our kind can eat eggs doesn't mean we have to, and this family is going to live without taking any lives,'" Ozzie quoted in a half-hearted tone. "Still, we're way out here and hungry, and I don't feel like eating this stuff," he concluded while stomping on a small shrub.
"You're going to eat an egg?" Strut asked in disbelief.
"Oh no, dear brother. I don't plan on eating an egg."
"I plan on eating three, and I think you should too."
"Ozzie!" The two of them locked eyes for a short time, then Strut lowered his head, picked up the leaves from the shrub Ozzie stepped on, and began to eat them quietly.
"Have it your way," Ozzie said. "We finally get the chance to try eggs and you still eat that bland stuff. Pfft." And with that, Ozzie picked up one of the eggs and looked it over.
"Don't, please" Strut pleaded.
"You worry way too much," Ozzie replied, and with that, bit into the egg.
Strut was shocked, but his curiosity broke through and he asked, "Wh-what does it taste like?"
"Hard to describe, but I can say one thing for sure- MUCH better than green food. Try one," Ozzie offered, holding out an egg to his brother.
Strut slowly reached out his hand, then he curled his fingers back in hesitation. He wanted his brother to be happy, but his parents had said… "I won't tell, but I can't; I'm sorry." He then reached down and grabbed some green food from the ground.
"Is that so…" Ozzie replied.
Ozzie back-handed Strut's full hand and the food fell to their feet.
"Ow! That hur-" but Strut couldn't finish his cry because Ozzie had shoved an egg in his mouth then clamped it shut. "Mph!"
"No brother of mine is going to waste his first chance at a meal like this. Now then, aren't you glad you tried one?" Ozzie asked, letting his mouth go.
Strut immediately spit out an uncrushed egg onto the ground, and tears swelled up in his eyes.
"Baby," Ozzie commented. He reached down and bit into that egg as well slowly, while making eye contact with Strut. "Now you're gonna tell, aren't you?"
"No, Ozzie, but I want to go home now. I don't feel like playing anymore," he replied quietly.
"Fine," came Ozzie's reply. "It's getting dark anyway."
The brothers turned and began walking home, both completely silent. Not too long after they faded out of sight from the nest of eggs, a new body entered the scene. She surveyed the area, and upon seeing the destroyed egg lying on the ground, she let out a horrified shriek as her body tensed. Yet another entered the scene, this time a male. He bellowed in rage as he curled his claws till his knuckles turned a deep red. He stopped suddenly, turning to his mate in comfort while the tears streamed down her cheeks.
"Whoever did this," he growled, "is going to be eaten slowly while they still breathe. I will not rest until I find the one responsible."
His mate was too beside herself to even respond; she just clutched him tightly.
He stayed there a few moments, then let her go as he began sniffing the area. He looked up, only to realize he didn't have to sniff at all. Small but clearly-evident footprints led away from their nest. With a glare in his eyes, he set out in search of the one responsible for taking their children.
"Enjoy your meal, boys," their mother told them. Strut began digging into the leaves piled before them, but Ozzie eyed it with a lack of interest.
"Ha ha, slow down, son," his mother said with a laugh. "You'll make yourself sick. We don't exactly have a food shortage around here ya know."
"Sowwy," he replied with his mouth full. "They're jusht sooo good."
Ozzie began picking through the leaves, but consumed none.
Their father turned to Ozzie. "Is something the matter? Are you feeling okay?"
"I guess, but is this really all there is to eat?"
"Ozzie, you've never had a problem with these before," his mother said with surprise.
Strut understood Ozzie's behavior and began eating more slowly from nervousness. Ozzie had tasted eggs and liked them so much that green food had lost its luster.
"What would you rather have?" his father asked.
"What is it?"
"Sheesh dad, okay. I'm just getting really tired of leaves."
His father recalled when he himself began losing his taste for green food, and went slightly pale.
"Dear?" his mate asked.
"Have you- tried something new?" he stammered.
Strut coughed slightly, having suddenly had some leaves go down abruptly.
"Not really," he replied.
His parents glanced at each other.
"Okay. So, anything interesting happen while you two were out playing last night?" he asked, changing the subject.
"We played tag," Strut answered.
"Sounds like you two had some real fun. Anything, else, happen?" he asked slowly.
Strut began to choke, but managed to swallow it down.
"You'd better not say a word," Ozzie thought to himself, eyeing his brother.
"Do you have something to say, son?" their father asked, looking at Strut.
"No, nothing at all. Not a single thing. Why would I have something to say? It's not like anything bad happened. Nope, nothing bad at all. Everything was fine," he blurted out very quickly.
Ozzie covered his face with his hand.
"Alright you two, what are you hiding?" their father asked.
"Hiding?" Ozzie asked.
He looked at his two sons with such intensity that they began squirming.
"Fine," Ozzie said with annoyance, "But it's not a big deal. I ate an egg. So what? Our kind is called 'Egg-Eaters' after all."
His parents were clearly horrified.
"Sheesh, what's the big deal?"
"Where was the nest?" his father asked, barely above a whisper.
"Under the shade of a tree near Shallow Swamp."
"That's so close… We need to get moving, now!" his father exclaimed.
"What? Why?" Ozzie asked.
"We tried protecting you from the danger of eating eggs. Now that you have, we can't stay here," his father quickly explained.
"What danger?" he questioned further, still perplexed at his father's behavior.
"Eggs are delicious, yes, but when you steal the offspring of another, you run the risk of being hunted by the parents. If you ate Sharpteeth eggs, there may be one or two heading this way right now."
Ozzie and Strut's mouths dropped open, and they both grew pale with fear.
"Hurry!" their father commanded. "We have to join the large herd on the hill by us. They can keep us safe until this blows over."
The family of Egg-Eaters started to move away from their nest, but there suddenly came an abrupt rustling in the bushes nearby, and their father quickly turned, shouting, "Too late!" A full-grown Fast Biter leaped out and tried to tackle Ozzie. His father quickly got in the way and the two of them tumbled around. The Fast Biter was stronger than him, but his mate joined in to help restrain him.
"RUN! Don't wait for us! Hurry to the top of the hill nearby and stay close to the herd on top," their father ordered, still struggling against the Fast Biter.
"We won't leave you dad!" Strut shouted, tears streaming down his face.
"Don't worry about us! Just go! Now! And don't look back!" After that urgent request, the boys finally began to flee.
After a few seconds, the boys could not resist and looked behind them, just in time to see their parents go down. Totally stunned, the boys froze in place. The Fast Biter turned to his original target and quickly closed the gap. The boys covered their heads with their hands, waiting to be tackled, but nothing happened. They looked up to see that the Fast Biter was retreating.
"Are you boys alright?" an adult, male Long Neck asked them. "I heard shouting, so I came as quickly as I could."
"Mom and dad- they're-" but Strut couldn't finish that sentence.
The Long Neck looked off in the direction that the kids were, and saw the bodies lying on the ground. "I'm- so sorry." There was a lengthy pause, then he finally continued, "Come with me."
Strut began to trudge behind the Long Neck, but Ozzie stayed where he was, staring off into space. Strut turned and headed back to his brother, and taking him firmly by the hand, led him up to where the Long Neck was taking them. They arrived on a flat section atop the hill, and the adult walked over to a female Long Neck, about his age.
"Dear, these two boys are going to be staying with us."
A female about the male's age looked down at the two Egg-Eaters. She knew the reason was a touchy subject, otherwise her mate would have explained then and there, so she simply smiled at them and said, "Welcome."
"We'll take good care of you," the male told them. "Our son went to get a drink, but when he gets back, I'll introduce you to your new brother." Looking at Strut he added, "You already met Bron once, didn't you?"
"Yes," Strut replied quietly.
"He's a good kid. I'm sure you all will get along just fine. Oh, here he is now." A small Long Neck approached them with a curious look.
"I didn't know we were having guests today," he said.
Bron's mother nudged him gently. "They'll be staying with us for good. Think of them as your new brothers."
Bron donned a perplexed look for a moment, but figured his parents would explain later. Walking over to the Egg-Eaters, he said, "Hi there. You guys can call me Littlefoot. All my friends do."
"Nice to meet you, Littlefoot," Strut said quietly. Ozzie remained silent, still too shaken by the day's events for pleasantries.
"Wanna play tag?" Littlefoot asked them, but then his father quickly pulled him aside.
"They have had a very traumatic day. Best to let them be for a while. The reason we're taking care of them is because they no longer have parents of their own."
"Seriously! Wow, they must be feeling terrible."
"Yes, so just ease up on them for a while, until this starts passing over."
One month later…
"Wanna play tag?" Littlefoot asked them.
"Yeah!" Strut replied with much enthusiasm. As time went on, Strut had adjusted to his parents' death, came to love his new ones, and went back to his bubbly self.
Ozzie said nothing, and went over to a large rock and sat down with his back resting against it.
"Join us at any time if you change your mind," Littlefoot told him.
Strut and Littlefoot played tag for a bit, then some other kids eventually joined in. Screams of laughter erupted on the hill, but Ozzie kept to himself, staring at the ground. He had been like this all month, saying barely a word, eating very little, and spending his time with himself only.
As the night circle began to take its visible position, Littlefoot's parents began to tuck the kids in for the night. Ozzie normally went to sleep at this time, but tonight, he sat by himself much longer than usual, deep in thought.
"Come on, Ozzie. It's late, and I don't want to sleep without you," Strut pleaded.
"This whole mess all started with eggs…"
"If it wasn't for eggs, we'd still have our parents. I hate them."
"Ozzie, that's just sill-" but I quick glare from his brother silenced him.
"I vow this day to eat nothing but eggs. Every one that I devour will give me the satisfaction of revenge, and, I want you to do the same. They were as much my parents as they were yours."
"Ozzie, you're just upset. Hey, I'm sad that they're gone too. I'm sure that once you're feeling better, you'll go back to eating green food like we used to. I think mom and dad would want us to continue living the way they taught us to."
Ozzie spit onto the ground. "They're gone. Who cares what they want anymore? Green food will never touch my lips again, and you'll see, I truly mean that."
What becomes of Ozzie and Strut as they grow up? Does Ozzie really swear off green food for good? Watch "The Land Before Time II: The Great Valley Adventure," and you'll find out.
Thank you for reading. The Land Before Time and all affiliated characters belong to Universal Cartoon Studios.