A TAIL OF TROUBLE
THE GATHERING OF PAWS
The torches flickered lazily, illuminating the interior of the secret hidey-hole with a warm golden glow, casting the gathered assembly in stark shadows. “I told you to keep that pointy thing away from me!”, a voice, thick with feline accent, growled at his nearest companion. “This pointy thing, my dear Butterball, is called a bayonet. And it’s rather handy for poking things”, the companion replied. Butterball, a heavyset feline, bordering on the side of being pudgy, looked his companion up and down, wondering if it was the Great War that took Sergeant Pawsome’s sanity, or that he was just born like that. “I warn you”, he said “If you do not keep that rusty piece of junk away from me, my paw will start poking you. Right in the snout. Repeatedly.” The other members of the assembly sniggered at this good-natured playfighting between the two loyal friends, and it entertained them to no end to see this ongoing bickering between the huge, fat feline with his love for buttery snacks and the slightly insane, frail but tough as nails, war scarred cat.
Sergeant Pawsome was a walking relic, from a war long past. Dressed in full battle gear, complete with rebreather mask, rifle, and a pair of ancient goggles that made him look like some bug-eyed amphibian. Though slightly crazy, and prone to poking things with his bayonet, including his fellow companions (much to their dismay), he was a valuable asset in their current predicament. And they all knew it.
The sniggering and giggling died down to hushed whispers as a door in the back of the assembly hall slowly swung open on creaky hinges. The eyes of every animal in the crowd peered nervously at the opening door, and none dared to speak.
Out of the door, and into the light of the flickering torches, a wizened old cat made his way up to the gathered throng of assembled animals. His fur as grey as the smoke wafting from a pipe stuffed with the finest tobacco, leaning on a gnarled old staff that looked like the atrophied leg of some monstrous being, and his left eye spinning madly in its socket, the pupil darting every which way, like the needle of a compass gone crazy, with every hunchbacked movement of his ancient body.
This odd appearance, looking like a mad prophet from the legends of old, but far from it, was held in great reverence by every inhabitant of the magical land of Amanita, the kingdom of animals, unknown to all humans, except a very few. To all he was known as Grandpa Grumpy. And grumpy he could be, when the mood was on him.
Stiffling a great yawn, rubbing his left eye with a crooked old paw, which was nothing more but a loose fitting marble with a pupil drawn in the centre of it, having lost his real eye in a great and terrible battle with a berserk troll many years ago, the leg of which now served him as a walking cane, he hawked up a huge gob of phlegm and spat it on the floor.
“Nice”, Butterbal whispered to the Sergeant. Who pulled a disgusted face at his companion. “What’s that now?”, the old grey cat inquired, while gazing in the general direction of the two companions, his left eye slowly wobbling in all directions. “Who is he looking at now?”, the Sergeant whispered. “It’s hard to tell”, Butterball replied. “For all I know he’s looking at the ceiling, or the floor.” “I’m looking at you, buttercup! And I heard that! I might be old, but my hearing is not impaired, you dimwitted furball!” “Now why don’t the two of you shut your snouts and let me explain why you all got summoned to attend this meeting”.
HERE ENDS PART ONE