Theobald, rocking back and forth on Malcolm’s back, staring out over the vast pond was troubled. Leaving here was madness. Where else would they find a plentiful fresh water and forage? The wolf had assured them that they would “have a plentitude of earthy delights” and “a most luxurious pond”, in Lupis park, but Theobald didn’t trust Wolfie—he was too assured, too full of himself. Why was he being so gracious, and welcoming? What did he want? He must want something. No animal is generous without wanting something in return. And although Theobald had never met a wolf before, he had heard the disquieting stories about them. So he was resolutely against going with “Wolfie” when they discussed it.
“Why would we go there?”
Bender Brings Peace
The voice sounded vaguely familiar. He opened his eyes. Where was he? The red sky glinted across the pond. Was it morning or had the sun just gone down?
He turned his head. Benlow was standing on the edge of the pond, peering at him, standing next to an older badger.
“Malcolm, this is my Dad.”
“He wants to help.”
“His name is Bender.”
“Hello. I’d like to help.”
“Thank you. I don’t… know what you could do.”
“Often, it is enough to join together in common bond.”
Malcolm took to a breath to understand the old badger had said. He liked the sound of it. Continue reading
Theobald & Malcolm Meet
Theobald had never seen such a endless pond, one where he could not even view the other side. He couldn’t have been more elated, although being elated as a rule made him nervous, such a condition was incautious. Playfully, rolling over and over in the clear, invigorating water, amid the abundant trout he spotted, he couldn’t understand why the boars would poop into it. Swimming along with Malcolm, out from the shore, he was as happy as ever he allowed himself to be. Trees edged down to the pond, reeds and bushes rose at the water’s edge. He couldn’t believe how peaceful and pleasant it seemed, much more so than his home in Feckly. And there was no sign of boars. Continue reading
The Arrival of Belden
As the early morning light streamed in through the chinks in the forest, Theobald waited to watch the sun rise above the horizon. He’d woken early and was relieved to see Manley had returned, lying asleep just inside the tunnel he’d dug near the tree wall. He couldn’t tell if the Boars were awake yet. And though he expected to be, he was surprised that he wasn’t afraid. In point of fact, he thought, remembering Rollo, he felt a strange kind of exhileration, as though he were living in a dream.
“Theobald?” whispered Malcolm.
“Yes. What do you think they will do?” Continue reading
The Real Grattie Brina
Through the chinks in the trees, Miranda could see the light fading, and hurriedly searched along the pile of trees for a gap, somewhere for Theobald to slip through. If he could escape, then she might climb the trees, Manley might burrow under the wall and Malcolm might charge at the boars, bound over them and effect his escape, but she could see no opening through which Theobald might slip. Weariness and the Boars’ incomprehensible behaviour were weighing her down.
“Not encouraging,” said Malcolm quietly.
“No.” Continue reading
No Free Water
Malcolm was grateful for the grass. It was dry, stringy, dotting the barren ground in sparse clumps but it was grass. He chewed as he watched Manley burrow and surface.
“How is it?” asked Manley.
“It’s okay.” He knew the others would find little sustanence from it but he needed something to keep going. “What do you see?” he asked Miranda. They were two tree lengths at most from the trees now but he couldn’t make out anything clearly at that distance.
“Aspen and poplar, I’ve never seen the bushes before.”
“Any sign of our friend?”
“Should we go forward?’
“One of us should.”
“Miranda, we have nowhere else to go. If something happens to one of us, it might as well happen to all of us.”
“I’d prefer,” said Manley, “to stick together.”
“I agree,” croaked Theobald. “But please let’s get to the water.”
“Alright,” conceded Miranda, “I’ll go in front.”
Hurrying to follow, Malcolm watched Miranda speed forward toward the trees with Manley struggling to keep up. “What do you see?” he shouted up to Theobald.
“Trees and bushes. Wait, something moved.” Continue reading
Theobald saw the track first. He had woken dry as dust, his head bowed over Malcolm’s shoulder, staring absently at the ground, lulled by the rhythm of Malcolm’s gait. He saw it but it didn’t register at first.
“Malcolm,” he croaked.
Malcolm didn’t stop.
“Malcolm,” he managed to rasp, louder.
Malcolm stopped. “What?”
Slowly, Malcolm backed up.
“Okay stop.” Theobald peered down as hard as he could and cculd see something untoward but he wasn’t close enough. “Let me down.”
“This is important.”
Malcolm lowered his body and Theobald rolled off, his shell pranging against the rock. He was so tired of the pain. He clawed his way close to what he thought he’d seen and realized that he had seen it. There is was, right in front of him. A faint impression in the dust, three holes close together, shadowed by the evening light. At first, he didn’t know what it was. His heart started palpatating when he realized it was a hoofprint. “Malcolm…?” Continue reading
The Plains of Vastidity
Standing on the brink of the Plains of Vastidity, there had been no doubt in Manley’s mind. If he was going to die—which now seemed inevitable—given the choice he’d prefer death by Plains of Vastidity than by Lynx. He had imagined they might find another forest, but knew now how silly that was. Going forward was just as pointless as going back, but he hadn’t been forward before. So he trudged out into the flat emptiness, into the aborbing heat of endless rock. It was, he thought, a place of no earth, no water, no plants, nothing living, nothing breathing—no habitation. Soon, he knew, the only sign of life here would be the five—no, Rollo was gone—four of them lying dead on the parching rock in the middle of this nothingness. Well, it would be less stressful than being eaten. Continue reading
No Light At All
Into the shiny night,
the Star kill and maim,
His snout throbbed.
smiling and sucking
the slime and the scum
Where was he? He could hear birds twittering.
While the animals fled,
in terror and dread,
What was he thinking?
Leaving their heads,
And the dying and dead
Their wicked thrum…
Wicked thrum? That bark. The one with… he tried opening his eyes—then realized they were open. It was black. Was it night? What was the throbbing pain in his snout? He tried to touch it, but his front legs were too stiff. Continue reading