Pudgy slept in late the next day and woke up with sunshine shining brightly through his little round windows. He was all snuggly in his bed and wiggled his nose. “Pudgy wanna stay in bed all day.” He was sore from yesterday’s fun, but still happy. “Pudgy had much fun, do again!” After a lazy morning, the hedgehog wiggled out of bed, and shivered. The fire had gone out, so the first order of business was to relight the wood stove. As Pudgy cleaned out the wood ash, and loaded fresh wood logs inside, he started to light his starter material. As the flame danced, Pudgy noticed the silver pocket watch Doomcock had given him. The smooth silver cover had popped open. As the fire spread inside the stove, Pudgy shut the firebox. Scampering over, he saw the watch hands stuck at 8:43. Rubbing his chin with a paw, he saw the wind up part, so the hedgehog started to wind the watch, which was now hung on his wall like a portrait. The watch started to tick, and Pudgy set the watch to 1:15 pm.
There was a picture of a rabbit running along the watch face, with a sun and moon to reflect night and day. Its background was a forest scene, faded almost white now. “Boy, what a neat watch.” Pudgy said as he watched the secondhand move. As the hedgehog turned away, he headed to his cabinets, to make lunch. Left over biscuits, and tea was on the menu today. Pudgy started to boil water. As his little pot bubbled away, he looked back at the watch, whose cover was now shut. Pudgy walked back over and opened it. “That’s weird, it shut.” He saw the hands still moving, and the watch was now 8:43. “Oh no, watch is broken. Pudgy have to ask Cobalt later.” Pudgy Rewound the watch and set the time once more. Then he resumed his cooking. Shaking his head, he pondered why the watch was doing that. Doomcock said it was an antique and had been in his family for years. Pudgy looked over at the watch again, and the cover was open.
As the day progressed, Pudgy cleaned up from his party. Putting away various things, the hedgehog opened his interior door to the big meeting room. The big round door was shut and locked. He turned on the lights and looked around. The room was in order, so he turned the lights off, and shut his interior door behind him. As Pudgy started to pass the watch, he noticed the cover was shut again. Wiggling his nose, the hedgehog inspected the watch. It looked fine, a normal watch. As he opened the cover, he heard a noise in the big room. Turning, the hedgehog scampered back to the interior door, and opened it. Again, the room was empty and in order. Pudgy returned to the watch, seeing it was set to 8:43 again. “This is really weird.” The hedgehog moved over to a sitting area, and turned on his phone, watching silly videos.
Cobalt arrived a couple hours later, cleaning up the outside beside and in front of Pudgy’s home. As Cobalt sat in the big meeting room, Pudgy snuggled against his leg. As the man patted his friend on his head, the hedgehog told him about the watch. “You are right Pudgy; this sounds really weird. But this is an antique watch. I have one like it from my great grandfather. Can you go get it?” Pudgy bounced off of the banquette and scampered into his living area. The hedgehog returned, carrying the watch. Handing it to Cobalt, the man took it, and opened it. Inspecting the watch, “it looks normal.” Shaking gently, something rattled inside. “Hmm, something’s loose inside. I have tools to repair my glasses back home, so I’ll check what I have. Worst case scenario, there is a watch place nearby. Cobalt handed the watch back to Pudgy. The hedgehog scampered back into his area, and hung the watch back up on the wall. The man picked up and hugged Pudgy, then sat him down as he exited the home. Shutting the big doors, Pudgy locked them. As the man walked through the forest, he turned to look at the little windows start to darken one by one. “Good, Pudgy’s heading to bed.” The man watched little wisps of smoke puff out of the chimney pipe. The water wheel was spinning at a fair pace. The forest was quiet, and as he yawned, Cobalt headed home.
Hours later, in a dark home, Pudgy slept in his little bed. A loud noise rang in his bedroom, waking him. Sleepily he rubbed his eyes and turned on his lights. Yawning, the hedgehog got out of bed. Slowly waking through his hall to the galley kitchen, he saw the watch laying on the concrete floor. “Pudgy must not hang right.” Picking up the watch with both paws, he hoisted it. Hanging on the long screw Cobalt had put in, Pudgy secured the watch to the wall. After a mug of water, the hedgehog got back into bed, turning off the lights. As Pudgy drifted to sleep, the underground home was silent. The wood stove was secure casting heat throughout, making the home snug and cozy. He dreamed over the party with his friends laughing around the campfire. Fun times, with good friends.
The next day, Pudgy scampered around his home happily. He had slept in again and made lunch. The watch was hanging on the wall, closed. It was a bright sunshine day, though cold outside. Noticing his firewood was running low, he headed off into the forest to gather supplies. As Pudgy was chopping wood from a fallen tree, he saw the cardinals chirping in the trees. Pudgy waved, and the birdies flapped their wings back. As he cut, he made trips back and forth, making little piles of wood logs. Once he had cut double what he thought he needed, the hedgehog carried the firewood back to his home. As he loaded the firewood bin, he turned to look at the watch. It was missing from the wall, and his interior door was open. Pudgy cautiously moved towards the interior door. He sniffed the air and could not find any trace of a visitor. Peeking around the door jam, he saw light shining though the big door, as it was ajar. The watch was in the center of the big room, smashed on the concrete floor. Watch parts were scattered about. “H …. hello ….” the critter stammered, growing frightened.
As the hours passed, Cobalt hot home from work, and headed over to Pudgy’s house with a wagon of supplies. As he crossed the stream, and walked towards the underground home, he saw the big doors open. Pudgy was hiding behind a tree, looking at his little door, which also was open. Cobalt waved, “hello Pudgy!” The little hedgehog’s ears folded down and he ran over wailing. As the man knelt, Pudgy scampered up into his arms, and buried his face in Cobalt’s chest. Clearly concerned, Cobalt hugged gently. “There … there … it’s all right Pudgy. What happened?” The hedgehog started to blurt out between sobbing, about the strange events since the watch came into his home. He found the door ajar, and watch smashed on the ground. Cobalt coughed and nodded. “Pudgy, now you know why I never buy antiques. I think this is a ghost. Have you told Lord Doomcock?” The hedgehog started wailing, “Pudgy can’t tell him. Watch broke, he going to be mad at Pudgy and make go away. Pudgy don’t wanna go away!” It took a good while of hugging to calm his hedgehog friend down. After the sobbing stopped, the man placed Pudgy in the wagon, and opened a cheese Danish. Pudgy started nibbling, watching his friend enter the big room. Cobalt found the home in order, with nothing out of the ordinary. The watch lay strewn across the floor in a dozen pieces. “I said no more adventures, great.”
Bending down, he picked up the watch parts. As the man turned, he saw a faint mist in front of the door, which quickly dissipated. Pudgy appeared at the door, peeking over the jam. “Cobalt, did you see?” The man nodded and helped Pudgy inside. Turning the lights on, Pudgy watched as his friend laid the parts on the banquette. Then Cobalt moved outside, pulling the wagon in front of the door. He unloaded a variety of supplies into the room. “Pudgy, can you put the food away?” The hedgehog nodded, and scampered to and fro, as he inspected the parts. After the groceries were put away, Pudgy peeked out of his interior doorway. The home seemed lighter; the sense of foreboding was not present. “Pudgy, look here…. I found something.” Cobalt said, while turning and extending his arm. The hedgehog bounced and scampered up the man’s arm and sat on his shoulder. “There is a tiny tube in here.” Cobalt wore glasses, and all bearers of lenses recognized the importance of having a set of tiny screwdrivers and parts. He also had a magnifying lens with related lights.
Pudgy bounced onto the banquette and saw what Cobalt meant. Picking up the cylinder, it was about one inch long, by 1/8 inch in diameter. Pudgy twisted the end, and a cap came off. Tapping the closed end, a tightly rolled paper came out. Pudgy wiggled his nose, looking up at Cobalt. The man located his tweezer and carefully started to unfurl the delicate paper. Pudgy saw words and numbers, written so small he could barely read it and read out loud “39.818056°N 77.2325°W” Cobalt blinked, “Pudgy, those are map coordinates. Why would there be …. oh my ….” he trailed off as he entered the coordinates into his phone’s map function. “Cemetery Hill …. in Gettysburg. Pudgy, Doomcock is based in Texas ….” The hedgehog looked up expectantly. Cobalt nodded, “if this was in his family’s possession a long time….”The hedgehog examined the watch shell, “Luther … Goddard …. 1825.” Pudgy blinked, “watch is 195 years old!” Cobalt nodded, “I don’t think Lord Doomcock realized what he gave you Pudgy. If this was carried during the civil war, it’s most likely those coordinates were a covert message. No one would suspect a watch.”
Pudgy nodded, “but what is there?” Rubbing his chin, “I don’t know Pudgy. We need to go slow and careful, no running away on a grand adventure. But I agree, with the mood of our friend Lord Doomcock, this might set him over the edge. We won’t bother him unless necessary. For now, we will stay put. It’s only 4 hours by car to get there, so I can drive you out and back Pudgy. ” Pudgy bounced happily, and hugged Cobalt’s hand. “If there is a ghost attached to this watch, they can’t hurt you. You say go away, and if they don’t, remember the prayers I say at night?” The hedgehog nodded, “Pudgy remember.” Cobalt patted his head, and then turned to the big doors. “In the meantime, I brought the gears. This way you can open and close the big doors.” His human friend started to work installing a series of gears on each side of the round French doors. This took a couple of hours, which was fine by Pudgy. He messed around inside of his home. Night fell, and the temperature started to drop quick. Pudgy hugged Cobalt before he stepped out. Testing, Pudgy turned a wheel causing the big doors to slowly shut, and then lock tight. Cobalt was hugged again before he left for the night, as the happy hedgehog bounced back into his home. Locking his doors, and windows, he added wood to the stove, and headed to bed. Falling asleep quickly, Pudgy dreamed of Gettysburg.
The night was uneventful. The home was quiet, and Pudgy slept soundly. It was a gray cloudy day, a good sleeping day. Pudgy stayed in bed till noon, then scampered around inside his home. BANG! A loud noise echoed throughout his home. The little hedgehog opened his door and found a cardinal on its back dazed laying in front of his big doors. “You ok Miss Cardinal?” The red bird got up and nodded. “Yes Pudgy, I’m all right. We all are talking about your new home. Is it nice?” Pudgy nodded and motioned for her to follow. The cardinal bounced behind Pudgy took his bird friend on a tour, which amazed her. Handing her a cookie, she took it in her beak, and flapped her wings in thanks. Then bounced out his door, and quickly flew away. As he stood in his doorway looking into the forest, the hedgehog smiled. “Today good day”
Pudgy decided to secure his home and go over Cobalt’s house for a couple of days. He needed a few days of normalcy of watching movies, eating all sorts of yummy snacks. So as Sunday morning arrived, the hedgehog headed home. It was a super bright sunshine day, with pale blue skies. The hedgehog scampered across the road, through the thorn bush, down the path, across the creek to the water wheel. The creek had slowed causing the wheel to move slowly. Pudgy sniffed the air, watching the trees. Nothing was out of place, so he scampered up to his new home. The doors and windows were shut as Pudgy approached the little hedgehog sized round door, he placed a paw upon the latch and opened the door. The door creaked slowly open, and Pudgy entered his home. Sniffing again, Pudgy did not notice anything off as he checked his home.
Since it was a warm day, he left his door open, and opens his windows, to get fresh air in. As the light streamed into his home, Pudgy bounced happily. He opened his interior door and scampered over to the gear lever to unlock and swing open his big room’s doors. Then he scampered over to his power room to check on his battery, and crystal. Everything was fine, so he exited and shut the doors. As Pudgy turned, he started to hear a woman cry. Sniffing the air, he could smell the faint smell of ozone. “H .. hello?” The hedgehog stammered and watched as a woman started to materialize in his big room, sitting on the banquette seating. She wore a long floor length dress, which flared out like a cone at the bottom. The dress was translucent though Pudgy could clearly see the deep red color. There were triangular flaps of material that framed the hips, and lapels. A black hat with a white fringe adorned a head full of jet-black shoulder length curled hair. The woman was of fair translucent complexion, with hazel eyes, streaming with tears.
Pudgy was frozen, watching the woman, with the only sound was that of sobbing. The hedgehog wiggled his nose, starting to approach very slowly. “H … hello?” The woman looked up, “hello.” Pudgy waved slowly, “my name Pudgy. Are you ghost?” The woman nodded, “Elizabeth.” She had a black purse, simple of design, from which she drew out a white handkerchief, wiping her eyes. “And what matter of creature are you,” the female ghost asked. Pudgy sat on the concrete floor, looking up at the ghostly woman. “Pudgy is hedgehog. You in Pudgy home.” He nodded, and she looked confused. “It is strange to see the sun; I’ve been trapped so long in the dark.” The critter nodded, and pointed behind him, “it is bright sunshine day in Pennsylvania.” The woman blinked, “Pennsylvania? I am so far away from home … ” Pudgy scampered closer, “where miss Elizabeth from?” The woman sighed, “Kennesaw. I am married, or at least was…. it has been so long … since I married Samuel.” Pudgy nodded, “Pudgy pleased to meet you Misses Elizabeth. Would you like tea?” The woman giggled softly, “I sadly lack the stomach for tea now. If I may ask, Pudgy, how did the watch come into your possession?”
Pudgy nodded, “Lord Doomcock give Pudgy watch. Said in family long time. Were you one who smashed watch?” The woman nodded, starting to tear up. “It was my husband’s watch. He gave it to me before he left to fight the yanks north.” Pudgy nodded, “my friend Cobalt says watch was from before civil war. Are you from south?” Elizabeth nodded, “Georgia, just outside of Kennesaw. Pudgy nodded and scampered up the banquette to sit beside her. The ghost giggled and watched her furry companion bounce happily once beside her. Sighing, the ghost investigated the forest. “Is it winter?” Pudgy nodded, “yes, but spring it 2 weeks away. Today is warm day, for Pennsylvania. Misses Elizabeth, we found a tube in the watch, with a paper that had map coordinates.” Elizabeth smiled, “Samuel was tasked by general Wheeler to rendezvous north during the war. I’m unsure why.”
Pudgy and Elizabeth chatted for an hour, before she started to look weak. “Pudgy, I must go. It is … difficult to maintain this form.” Pudgy looked sad, “will you come back? Pudgy like talking with you.” The ghostly woman smiled and nodded as she de-materialized. As the sun started to sink past the ridge line, Pudgy started to shut his big doors, windows, and little door. The sun now was setting at 7:20, so the twilight lasted much longer now. Pudgy was nibbling on a biscuit, pondering about what happened today. But now he knew he did not need to be scared, as Elizabeth was friendly. Pudgy had many questions, and hopefully she would return tomorrow. The little hedgehog bounced happily as he moved about his home. He started up the wood stove and settled in for the night. Pudgy slept a peaceful sleep, in his quiet home. Now that he knew he did not have to be afraid; his home was a happy place once more.
The hedgehog woke up in the morning, and after breakfast, set about his daily chores. He wondered if Elizabeth would visit again today while he cut firewood. It was another oddly warm, bright sunshine day. There was a breeze, cool, softly blowing through the trees. As Pudgy scampered to and fro, he stopped by his water wheel. It was barely turning, as the water was a trickle. The hedgehog heard a sniffle, but no one was around. Pudgy sniffed the area, “Elizabeth, are you around?” There was no response, so the hedgehog scurried through the brown leaves that covered the forest floor towards the former location of his cabin. As he looked around, “Pudgy wonder what to do with this area?” Cobalt had mentioned about turning his former foundation into a pond. He heard a ruffle of leaves behind him, so he turned. Again, there was nothing. “Elizabeth?” Pudgy asked the forest, looking around. “Yes, Pudgy?” A female voice floated through the air, though he couldn’t tell from where. “Why did you sniffle earlier?” The ghostly woman responded, “that water wheel reminded me of home. There was a grist mill, Samuel called on me.” Pudgy nodded, “this where Pudgy house used to be. Cobalt lives over there.” The hedgehog pointed, before turning towards his home. “Elizabeth, why did you smash watch?” The hedgehog asked, which drew a sigh, “I did not mean to. It dropped when i picked it up.” Pudgy wiggled his nose, “ok. Pudgy need to tell Lord Doomcock about watch.”
It was as Pudgy said that, when a log was thrown, and a screech. “NOO!” Pudgy startled, ducked behind a tree, looking at where the log rolled. “If you call upon him, he will want the watch back. I do not want to return to the dark.” Pudgy whimpered, “Pudgy scared…” The voice sighed, “I apologize, please don’t be frightened.” The hedgehog, peeked out, “Elizabeth don’t be angry, Pudgy can help. Let’s go back to my home.” Pudgy scampered quickly to his home and scooted inside. Pudgy watched his interior door open, and as he followed, Elizabeth appeared once more. The darkened room made it easier to see her. As the critter located the map paper and held it up to Elizabeth. “Samuel….” she sighed wistfully. “Coordinates are in Gettysburg. If Pudgy take watch there, would you be able to go?” The ghostly woman nodded, “what good would that do?” The hedgehog bounced, “maybe Samuel there?” The women’s eyes widened, as Pudgy continued. “Gettysburg is most haunted place, Ghosts everywhere. Cobalt take us there, we find Samuel, and then you be happy.” The woman smiled, “do you think it can work?” Pudgy nodded and did his happy dance, drawing a giggle from her as she adjusted her hat. The hedgehog scurried up the banquette and sat beside her hip looking up at her. She cupped her white gloved hand and gently placed it over his head. “Pudgy feel you.”
The ghostly woman smiled, spending a quiet time with her new friend before disappearing once more. Pudgy curled up on the banquette and fell asleep. After an unknown amount of time passed, it was the sound of knocking that woke him up. “Pudgy, are you home?” Cobalt said, while standing outside the big doors. He watched as the doors start to open slowly, and Pudgy peek out from the door jamb waving. “Hi Cobalt” Cobalt swung his leg over the threshold and entered the home. He scooped up the hedgehog as well and sat down onto the banquette. Pudgy sniffed and saw a paper bag with a big “W” on it. He ripped open the bag and spread out French fries. Pudgy picked up a potato and nibbled as Cobalt unwrapped a burger and munched, he patted his friend’s head gently. Cobalt talked about work, and other things. The world was losing its mind over an illness, and other silly things. After supper, Pudgy explained all about Elizabeth and Samuel. The man listened intently while he took notes on his phone. The man asked questions to his hedgehog friend. After the story was done, and the two friends were nibbling on a double chocolate chip cookie. “So, Pudgy…we need for go to Gettysburg? I can’t take time off, I used too much vacation. Would Elizabeth be ok if we waited till the weekend?”
Pudgy nodded, “I think so.” Cobalt nodded, “so, we take the watch and Elizabeth to Gettysburg, find Samuel, and then we settle this ghostly matter.” The hedgehog nodded and bounced happily, nibbling on another piece of a cookie. The man spent the evening with Pudgy, planning and researching Gettysburg. The man was going to buy a metal detector, just in case the coordinates led to something underground. He also booked a hotel room for Saturday night. As the night drew long, Cobalt hugged Pudgy and headed home. As Pudgy watched his friend head off into the darkened forest, he started to shut his doors, then lock up his home. Throwing a couple logs into his woodstove, he scooted off into bed, and got under all his blankies. “Good night Elizabeth,” said as he fell asleep.
A couple blissfully uneventful days passed in the forest. Unseasonably warm temperatures were a welcome change of pace. Though winter returned, Pudgy was warm and snug in his underground home. Elizabeth would visit from time to time, and Pudgy learned many things about what Georgia was like in the 1860’s. Elizabeth married Samuel in the spring of 1860. Her family lived in town, while his were in the country. The watch was made by her father, as a wedding present. Also, it was a joke, as they arrived late at the wedding by a couple of minutes. The horse drawing their wagon threw a shoe, which slowed the pace. Samuel went off to war, which was hard on her. Eventually he returned but was summoned again to the front lines. That was when he never returned. Pudgy tried to keep her happy, but the stories always trailed off towards sadder subjects. Pudgy delicately had asked how she became a ghost, which was hard on her. She responded a long time later, after much crying, that she had passed while giving birth to a son. The child lived and was sent to live with her sister who lived on a cotton farm in Texas. She never was able to find her child, being stuck between places. It was when Pudgy was given the watch, that must have allowed her to escape the dark. The critter sat quietly, sipping a tea, pondering many things. Should he tell Doomcock about all of this?
Another uneventful day passed, and Pudgy was busy staining his wood surfaces. Cobalt had dropped off golden oak stain, and little brushes. It was a warm for Pennsylvania winter day, so he had his windows open, and door as well. His crystal started to hiss and glow, “Hail Pudgy! It is I, Lord Doomcock. How are you today?” Pudgy was glad to hear a friendly tone to his voice. His videos were so angry as of late, Pudgy was scared to talk to him. “Hail Lord Doomcock! Pudgy doing good, Pudgy staining wood today.” The lord laughed heartily. “Make sure you keep your doors and windows open while you do that. I don’t want to hear of a passed-out hedgehog.” Pudgy timidly spoke, “is Doomcock ok? Pudgy watch videos, you been so mad.” The lord coughed, “Wh… What? Is that why you stopped communicating with me? Yes, I am fine. You do not need to be frightened. I am fine, now.” Pudgy bounced happily, glad to hear he was better now. Pudgy decided not to tell him about Elizabeth, nor the watch just yet. The lord needed recovery time. Plus, he was not sure how he would react to news of the watch and past.
A couple more uneventful days passed. Pudgy was packing for his trip, carefully packing up the watch parts into his backpack. Elizabeth would stop by occasionally. As the hedgehog shut down and secured his home, he scampered through the forest to get to Cobalt’s house. Up the path, across the creek, up the hill, through the thorn bush, across the road, up the big hill, the hedgehog went. Reaching his friend’s house, he scooted inside through the small hedgehog door. “Cobalt, are you home?” The critter called out as he shut the door and locked it. The hedgehog climbed the basement stairs and scooted out into the living room. He found a couple of bags packed, and a metal detector assembled. Pudgy bounced and waved as Cobalt came downstairs. “Hi Pudgy! Are you all set to go?” Pudgy nodded, “yes, Pudgy packed up watch, locked up house, and ready to go.” His human friend nodded and started carrying things out to his vehicle. Back and forth, until all the bags were loaded. Cobalt got a bunch of yummy snacks from his fridge to put in a small cooler. As Pudgy scampered on to the kitchen, he was scooped up quickly, and hugged by Cobalt. “Let’s get going Pudgy.” He tucked Pudgy into his coat and grabbed the cooler. Exiting his home, he locked the front door. Getting into the car, the hedgehog bounced out and into the front seat. Cobalt nodded, “bags packed, houses locked and secured, goodie cooler full, Cobalt and Pudgy ready to go!” Pudgy investigated the back seat, “hi Elizabeth!” Cobalt looked in his rear-view mirror, and no one was in the car with them. But he smelled a faint smell like lilies. “Hi Elizabeth,” the man laughed as he entered the destination into his car’s GPS, the vehicle’s feminine robotic voice said, “you will reach your destination in 4 hours.” Cobalt backed the car up and pulled away. Pudgy watched as the house grew smaller, and watched as his forest passed, off to Gettysburg!
Hours passed, and Pudgy was bouncing excitedly in his seat. They were driving at a fair pace. A big green sign read Somerset, exit 110, one mile. “There used to be an outlet mall here called Georgian place. You could tour the mansion house and try to crack the safe.” Cobalt narrated, the cooler open, while Pudgy was sipping from a small can of ginger ale. Pudgy nodded, then burped. “Scuse Pudgy.” The GPS showed the car moving along the turnpike, and the map updated as they drove. The hedgehog was glad his friend could come with him this time. The hedgehog spent the trip telling Cobalt everything Elizabeth told him. Also, what was discussed when Lord Doomcock spoke to Pudgy a few days back. As the hedgehog saw the exit 161 Breezewood sign appear, he noticed it getting dark out. The man nodded and listened, patting his head while continuing to drive the car. More time passed, and the two friends had run out of stuff to talk about. It was a moonless night, heavy clouds, and light snow. As Pudgy yawned, the soft glow of the vehicle instrument panels was not helping him stay awake. He curled up and fell asleep on the seat. His Human friend chuckled but smiled as the welcome to Gettysburg sign appeared by the road. Cobalt after missing a couple turns, and as bridge detour, found the hotel.
As Cobalt pulled the vehicle into an empty parking space. Yawning, he investigated the rearview mirror catching a faint shimmer of mist in the back seat, “we’re here everybody.” Opening the car door, the rush of cold air quickly pulled all heat out. As Cobalt retrieved his bag, and Pudgy’s backpack, he opened his bag. Gently scooping up the sleeping hedgehog and placing him inside with the pack. The man carrying the bag, shut and locked his doors. Pudgy could feel the sway of the bag as he slept. Tucked away in Cobalt’s clothes, he slept soundly. It was the sound of a zipper opening, and Cobalt picking him up, that woke him up. Rubbing his eyes with a paw, “Where Pudgy?” Cobalt smoked, “the Inn at Gettysburg. It’s a hotel, I booked it for tonight and tomorrow night. They have free breakfast too.” Pudgy looked around and saw the colonial style furniture. Civil war paintings hung on the beige walls. The hedgehog yawned, and snuggled on the bed, murmuring as he fell asleep. “Pudgy … hope …have … waffles.” The man smiled and wrapped him up in a blanket. As he changed into sleeping clothes, Cobalt climbed into bed, “me too Pudgy. Goodnight.” As he turned the lights off, the heater fan warmed the hotel room, with a soft whine. Cobalt’s eyes became heavy, catching a glimpse of Elizabeth smiling at the two, as she stood at the end of the bed. “Good, night. Elizabeth…” The man trailed off, but was too tired, and fell asleep.
The night quickly passed, and after getting dressed, the two friends were in the hotel’s meeting / breakfast area. Included in the price of the room was breakfast. Pudgy sat on the table nibbling a warm fluffy child size waffle. Cobalt was having a Belgian waffle, with butter and syrup, sipping his coffee occasionally. “Today Pudgy, we will head over to the battlefield visitor center. This is a national park, so they have a museum. We’ll be able to get information.” Pudgy bounced happily, “ok Cobalt.” A couple of nearby business travelers smiled when Pudgy waved at them. They were also wide eyed when he talked. Pudgy nodded, “Elizabeth says she met Emily downstairs. The other Ghosts know we’re here.” Cobalt nodded while he ate. “I think we may run into soldiers, so we best be careful Pudgy.” Pudgy nodded and munched. After breakfast, the two friends headed back upstairs to their hotel room. Pudgy was getting his things together as he sat on the bed in the hotel room. Cobalt exited from the bathroom and laughed as Pudgy was bouncing. “Pudgy ready!” As Cobalt put his jacket on, he slung a backpack over his shoulder. The hedgehog scampered over, and climbed up his leg, through his jacket, peeking his head out of the coat’s neckline. The man laughed and patted his head. As they exited the hotel room, the critter was happy to go off on this adventure with his friend. Cobalt had booked this hotel, since it was one mile from the visitor center, and a quarter mile from Cemetery hill. The car could stay parked, and they could walk to wherever they needed to go.
As they walked past the front desk, a woman in a gray blazer waved. Pudgy waved back, “Bye Bye lady, Pudgy going to battlefield.” Cobalt laughed as they exited the hotel and turned his head to check his car. The man nodded and started off to walk through the parking lot and down the street. The temperature was in the fifties, being a gray overcast sort of day, typical for Pennsylvania. The human had his heavy black winter coat on, though no gloves or hat. The day was warm enough to warrant not wearing them. The Gettysburg cemetery was huge, with rows of gravestones. Thousands had died during the battle, both civilian and military. To know the nature of war, one only had to visit the cemetery. There was nothing glorious, only families torn asunder, having to pick up the pieces and move on with their lives. A case could be made for necessary wars, like the war for American independence, but that was a discussion for another day. As Cobalt narrated, Pudgy snuggled in and held on. The man laughed, realizing his audience, and Pudgy was getting confused.
It was about a half hour of walking, past and through the rows of gravestones protected by a wrought iron fence. The two friends reached the Gettysburg National Battlefield visitor center. As Cobalt opened the door, he entered the vestibule. There was no fee to visit the museum, but there was a donation box. As Cobalt and Pudgy wandered the museum with a sparse crowd of visitors. Pudgy saw many beautiful paintings, of the battlefield. But Cobalt had to explain what happened. Pudgy started to get sad, and his ears folded, so many people passed away. The two friends also heard a sniffle behind them, from Elizabeth. As the man moved through the museum, he found a large model battlefield set up. Pudgy peeked out, and looked down, “oh wow, it’s the whole battlefield.” Cobalt nodded looking at the scene. He stopped and read aloud pointing, “soldiers from the 4th Georgia southern infantry rifles. They engaged union forces defending Cemetery Hill.” Pudgy bounced, and Cobalt felt someone touch his shoulder. Looking back, there was no one. The hedgehog looked up, “Elizabeth says that is Samuel’s unit.” The man nodded, and continued to read, “all forces perished ending in a stalemate, until Union forces sent in reinforcements to repel the charge. Well Pudgy, we know we are in the right place.” He walked around the model battlefield and examined uniforms that were on display. Pudgy pointed, “are the gray ones Confederate?” Cobalt nodded, “yes, and the Union forces are the dark blue.” Pudgy nodded, and as he looked left, the ghostly woman was crying. He couldn’t hear her, but just faintly see her in her Victorian dress. “Cobalt, Elizabeth is getting upset, can we go?” His friend nodded, and started to walk through the museum, and head towards the exit doors. Stopping at a large statue of George G Meade. “General Mead, commander of the army of the Potomac.”
Pudgy looked up, and nodded, “Cobalt, Elizabeth looks better.” He saw the woman gliding over the floor quickly. Pudgy had the watch with him, so where it went, she was drawn to. Cobalt got out his wallet and put a $10 bill into the donation box. Pudgy bounced, “let’s go to the coordinates!” His friend coughed, “ok Pudgy, off we go.” As he exited the museum, “even though it is daylight savings, and the day is longer, we still need to find the place. I’m hoping we don’t have to dig. That’s not allowed in national battlefield parks.” He started through the parking lot, and then up a path, towards Cemetery hill. In short time, they reached a set of wrought iron fence, with signs directing visitors. “Union graves …. Confederate graves …. civilian graves.” Cobalt read aloud, as he pointed. Using his phone, and the map coordinates from the watch, the man walked through the rows of graves. The hedgehog looked around, and after about an hour of searching, they arrived at a stack stone wall. “We’re here, ” Cobalt said, and started laughing as the hedgehog let go and started to crawl through his coat and down his leg. Once Pudgy was on the ground, he scampered around looking. He also watched his friend get out a small metal detector. Turning it on, it started to beep. Pudgy watched Elizabeth standing afar, looking out into the wide brown grass fields that stretched far along the cemetery. BBBEEEEEEPPPPP!
The detector whined, as Cobalt clearly found something. The hedgehog scurried over and looked down. “We need to dig.” His friend gave him a look, “Pudgy, we can’t dig yet.” Cobalt said while looking around. “What is Elizabeth doing?” The hedgehog pointed, “she’s upset, just standing by the statue.” The two friends turned towards the statue, which had a tall white spire pointing into the air as Pudgy scampered over, he saw it was a memorial to all the brave men and women who passed away during the battle. The hedgehog scampered up and looked up at her. “Oh Pudgy …. so much sadness is here. I can’t bear it. Did you find what we came for?” Pudgy nodded, “but we think so, but underground, we need to dig. Can’t dig yet. This is park now, rules say no dig” The woman nodded, “I understand. I thought I might find Samuel here, but I can’t find him.” Pudgy nodded and looked at Cobalt. The man was taking pictures, for reference later. He walked over to stand next to Pudgy, “ok, I took a bunch of pictures, and marked the spot. We will head back to the hotel and get some dinner. We will come back at night and dig out that spot later tonight. How’s Elizabeth?” Pudgy scampered over, and started to climb up Cobalt’s pant leg, and up though the coat.
Pudgy peeked out from the neckline and wiggled as he held onto the coat. Cobalt chuckled, “ok Pudgy, we’re going to head to somewhere called the Dobbin House Tavern. It’s nearby to here and the hotel.” Pudgy bounced, and the two friends walked through the cemetery. It was a short time walking in the quiet cemetery, that they reached the road, and headed into town. The tavern appeared in the distance. It was a gray stacked stone building, with white wood windows and gas lamps. The front door was painted red, and was solid oak, with black wrought iron handles. Cobalt pushed the door open, seeing the white plaster ceiling, and heavy wood beans stained dark brown. The hostess station was staffed by a short woman with curly brown hair. “Good evening, welcome to the Dobbin house.” Cobalt smiled, “hello, this looks like a great place. One adult, and one hedgehog.” The hostess looked, and Pudgy waved. She laughed and led them to a small table tucked away in a corner. Cobalt set Pudgy on the table and took off his backpack and coat. The waitress stopped, “hello, can I get you two drinks?” Pudgy bounced, “can Pudgy have ginger ale please?” The blonde-haired waitress smiled and scribbled down the order. Cobalt smiled, “one mint Julip please. Can you tell the bartender make it weak, I’m a light weight.” She laughed, and nodded, as she headed off. As they looked at the menus, Pudgy read aloud. “The tavern been open since 1841. No cookies, oh gingerbread cake!” The man laughed, as the waitress brought the drinks. They ordered supper and marveled at the restaurant.
Pudgy noticed Elizabeth moving around looking at things in the tavern. The food arrived in a short time, with Cobalt getting a roasted chicken dinner, and Pudgy getting a tiny hamburger. The food was good. Cobalt had switched to water, since he did not want to be drunk when headed back. “Ok Pudgy, we will head back after our meal. I don’t know what is going to happen. We might stir up other ghosts.” Pudgy nodded as he nibbled a French fry. “Elizabeth can help us. She looks better.” Cobalt nodded, “I’m glad you can see as well as hear her. This is helping. We’re going to have to tell Doomcock about this eventually though.” Pudgy frowned, “he’s going to be mad watch is broke.” Cobalt nodded, “yes, but I suspect when we tell him all the other stuff, he may soften his response. This ghost story involves his family’s past, so I suspect he will be very interested in this.” As Cobalt and Pudgy wrapped up dinner, the wait staff had grown to like Pudgy. The little hedgehog was able to get a tiny piece of gingerbread cake on the house. Pudgy bounced, it was so good. Cobalt paid for their meal and exited the tavern with his hedgehog friend.
Pudgy was riding in Cobalt’s coat, and watched his breath fog out of his mouth as he breathed, he wiggled in the coat. “Cobalt, do you have Pudgy backpack?” His friend nodded, “yes, in my backpack.” He had the backpack slung over his shoulders. It was pitch black out, as they reached Cemetery hill. Pudgy was glad his friend brought a flashlight, as without it, they would not be able to see anything without it. In a short amount of time, he reached the coordinate location. Reaching into his coat, the man helped Pudgy out and set him down on the ground Cobalt knelt, setting the backpack on the ground, and used the metal detector. BEEP! “Yes Pudgy, something’s here.” Cobalt set the detector down and got out a garden trowel. Cutting the grass into a square, he removed the sod, and started digging. Pudgy held the flashlight. While the man dug, Pudgy looked around. Sniffing the air, the hedgehog looked around. “Cobalt….” he stammered, as mist started to float along the ground. Elizabeth appeared, floating silently. She was watching Cobalt, but also looking into the fields. “Pudgy, there’s some …” He trailed off, as looking into the fields. “Oh crap….”
Pudgy turned, and eyes went wide. A Confederate soldier appeared standing beside a stacked stone wall. He was bandaged, with red stained bandages covering his left eye. Cobalt started digging again, making a small pile pf dirt beside the hole. He looked back up, and the solider was floating closer, pointing his rifle at him. A trumpet sounded in the distance, signaling a calvary charge. Elizabeth started to look worried, and Pudgy was shaking. Ding! The trowel hit metal. “I found a metal box!” The man reached in and hoisted out a rusted metal box. It was 6 inches by 3 inches by 12 inches. Cobalt turned, and started to see union solider ghosts appear, one by one. “Put….it…. back….” a disembodied voice floated around the cemetery. The man looked up, ” we need this, to help Elizabeth find her husband Samuel.” The ghosts floated silently and looked at the woman dressed in Victorian style. Cobalt for the first time could see her and smiled at her. Elizabeth floated closer and looked at the box. Cobalt hit the box and broke the seal. “I said……PUT ……IT …. BACK!” The voice grew angrier. Galloping sounds could be heard approaching. Pudgy was shaking, the flashlight dropped. And he couldn’t move, eyes transfixed on the soldiers. Their weapons pointed at his friend, “please …don’t shoot Cobalt.”
Cobalt forced the box open, finding a folded piece of paper. He pulled the paper out, and found a rusted black key. The box had nothing else inside of it. The man grunted, feeling scratched all over his body. A burning sensation was spreading throughout his chest. Pudgy looked up at Cobalt, seeing blood trickle down his forehead. The scratches were deep, drawing blood. The ghosts were not pleased at all, though the visible ones were keeping their distance. As the man started to unfold the paper, he saw what the ghosts were upset about. “Pudgy look at this, not them. It’s a map of the battlefields. We already know the confederate forces lose this battle.” The soldiers started to look at Cobalt. As he narrated the battle lines, and types of troops. The voice said weakly, “who …are …you?” Pudgy bounced, “boy this map goes all the way to Virginia, what’s that?” Cobalt pulled out his phone, “Blacksburg, Virginia. Oh my, it’s a base of some sort. Elizabeth, did Samuel have family in Virginia?” The female ghost looked down, and then nodded. “Pudgy, my husband’s family came from there.”
As the hedgehog relayed what she said to his friend, Cobalt nodded. “Then that’s where we need to go next.” As Cobalt inspected the box, he looked up as a solider on a horse floated silently. He found writing inside the box. But there was not enough light. Cobalt folded the paper and key, putting them back into the box. He slid the box and the metal detector into his backpack. Also checking that Pudgy’s pack was safe, he zipped his bag shut. Quickly filling the hole with nearby rocks, and dirt, he put the grass back. “Pudgy, we’re going, now!” He scooped up his hedgehog and stuffed him into his coat. Then slung his backpack over his shoulders, he stood up. The soldiers were still there floating, watching. Cobalt started to run, with Pudgy holding on tight. Elizabeth floated behind, while the soldiers followed along the walls, and the trumpet calvary charge sounded again. “Oh crap,” is what Pudgy said, while Cobalt said other more colorful language. He coughed hard, as he ran. But as they hit further away from the cemetery, the ghosts started to disappear. The man slowed once he made it to the hotel’s parking lot and was starting to uncontrollably cough. He was clutching his chest, trying to catch his breath. Once he had recovered, he entered the hotel. As they reached the lobby, Pudgy looked up. Cobalt made it to the sitting area beside a fireplace and started to recover.
The hedgehog snuggled, “that was scary Cobalt.” His friend nodded, standing back up, as and slung his bag over his shoulder. The hotel had free coffee, which Cobalt poured two big cups with creamer. He headed down the hall, and climbed the stairs, getting to floor 2, where the room was located. Cobalt got his wallet out and produced the room key. Sliding it in the lock, the lights showed green, and the door unlocked. Opening the door, he entered, letting the door slam shut behind him. Pudgy jumped out, and landed on the bed, bouncing. Cobalt set the bag on the bed and opened his bag. He pulled out the rusted metal box and placed it on a round table. He opened the box and pulled out the paper and key. Studying the treasure, they found, Cobalt yawned. Pudgy yawned and curled up on the bed falling asleep. Cobalt set out the paper, and the key, but sleep was calling him too. He got up, and put the deadbolt in the door, and took his shirt off. He found scratches in there’s all over his body. “Poltergeists do that, or demons.” Washing with a cloth and hot soapy water, he changed and climbed into bed with Pudgy. Covering his friend, the man fell asleep exhausted from the day’s activities. Elizabeth appeared, floating silently, looking at the two as they slept. She floated over, looking at the map, and sniffled. “Oh Samuel …. where are you … my love?”
Cobalt and Pudgy both slept soundly. If Ghosts visited, neither knew it. They woke up, and checked the materials they found last night, and then headed to breakfast. Sadly, there were no waffles, today was pancakes. The two munched happily, still processing what happened last night. Returning from breakfast, Cobalt started packing up his things. Pudgy was sitting on the table, looking at the map. “Cobalt, map has funny words on it.” His friend turned around and looked at the map. “et lux in tenebris reperio key.” The man rubbed his chin, “that sounds like Latin.” Pudgy picked up the key, and it dropped onto the map. “Careful Pudgy, this paper is very old.” The key matched a design on the map. “There are mysteries we have to decipher my friend. It’s going to take time. For now, we will pack up the box, and bring it home with us. We know Blacksburg, Virginia is our next destination. But I have work tomorrow, so we need to go home. ” The man scooped up Pudgy and carried him over to the bed. Then returned to the map, folding it carefully, and placing it with the key back into the metal box. He carried the box back over to the bed and placed it into his backpack. Pudgy had put his backpack also inside Cobalt’s backpack and looked up expectantly. Once Cobalt was ready, he checked the room once more, and then put his coat on. Slinging his backpack over a shoulder, and picking up his bag of extra clothes, he stood beside the bed.
Pudgy scurried over and climbed up through his coat. As he peeked out of the neckline, “Pudgy ready!” Cobalt laughed and exited the hotel room. Quickly they headed to the front desk. The man paid for the room, while the hedgehog waved, drawing a big smile from the older woman. Once the bill was settled, they left the hotel and headed to the car. As Cobalt unlocked his car’s doors, he opened the door. Loading up his bags, he opened them to check one more time before leaving. Everything was in order with the car, and the bags. The man got into the driver’s seat and buckled his seat belt. Pudgy wiggled out of the coat and bounced into his lap. As the hedgehog climbed over the center console and looked back. “Elizabeth here, we can go.” Cobalt laughed, started the car, and headed off back home. Hours passed by in the car, driving on the Pennsylvania turnpike heading west. Pudgy watched as the big green sign said Carlisle exit 236 in 2 miles. Pudgy looked back into the back seat. Elizabeth was watching the scenery pass by her window much quicker than by horse. Pudgy would relay what Elizabeth said. The trio talked about what happened. No radio playing, the car was quiet save for the occasional semi-truck making a racket. Cobalt hoped that he could decipher the map. Elizabeth knew Latin, so the translation would be easier.
Pudgy’s vest started to glow, with the Xanadoom crystal beginning to hiss. “Greeting Pudgy Hedgehog, might I inquire why you are heading west past Carlisle?” Lord Doomcock’s voice was inquisitive but had an edge of annoyance. Pudgy and Cobalt said in unison, “Hail Lord Doomcock!” Pudgy looked at Cobalt, who nodded approval. The hedgehog spoke, “Pudgy on another adventure.” The lord started an expletive laced tirade, but after his anger subsided, “I told you, no more adventures!” Cobalt coughed, “I’m with him on this one, Lord Doomcock. Pudgy, please tell him.” Pudgy started to explain about the watch, how it got smashed, and the appearance of Elizabeth. The future ruler of the earth grew very quiet, listening intently. Then as Pudgy explained of the trip to Gettysburg, finding the box in Cemetery hill, the lord could not restrain himself any further. Diktor began a series of questions, which both friends answered as best as they could. Cobalt nodded, “Lord Doomcock, we found a rusted metal box, with a map of Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania to Gettysburg written in Latin. There is also a key we believe the next part of the search is in Blacksburg, Virginia. But I have work tomorrow, so we are heading home.” Lord Doomcock was quiet, and hesitantly spoke. “Pudgy, is Elizabeth still with you?”
Pudgy bounced, “yes, she goes where the watch goes. We told her about you.” Diktor spoke quietly, “she may be my great, great, great, great, Grandmother.” As Pudgy looked back, Elizabeth had a soft smile on her painted lips. The story continued as they drove. The car sped as long the road towards the west, with a big tunnel approaching. Doomcock continued his questions, and unlike cell phones, the connection was not lost when they entered. Soon, the exit sign for home appeared, and Cobalt’s car exited the turnpike. They were soon to be home, when Diktor spoke sternly. “Pudgy, and Cobalt. Do not go to Blacksburg until I investigate certain papers of my grandfather. The story you have told, and evidence you have found, remind me of something he spoke about. Promise me you two, you won’t go.” Pudgy and Cobalt nodded and promised him in unison. The crystal stopped glowing, and the car was quiet once more.” Pudgy recognized the trees, “oh boy, we home!” The man laughed, and gently pulled into a dirt road, that led into the forest. As the car pulled up to Pudgy’s home, Cobalt put the break on, and got out stretching his legs. 4 hours in the car was rough.
Pudgy scampered over and bounced out of the car and on the ground. He then scurried over to his house and went inside. Soon the big doors opened for his meeting room. He peeked his head over the door jamb. Cobalt smiled, “no sitting for me Pudgy. But let me get your pack.” The man opened his back-passenger door, opening the bags. He located the box and Pudgy’s pack. Carrying the items from the car, he entered Pudgy’s meeting room. He set the box on the banquette seat and knelt to hand Pudgy’s pack to the bouncing hedgehog. The smell of lilies filled the room, which meant Elizabeth was there too. He exited the room and went to the car to shut the doors. Pudgy was glad to be home and was busy getting his fire going in the woodstove. Once Cobalt knew he was ok, he gave his hedgehog friend a big hug. Getting back in his car, he drove off, as and headed back home. Pudgy waved as he left, and started to turn the levers and wheels, shutting the doors to his big room. Pudgy had to get his home ready once more, and a map to decipher. Elizabeth also was glad to be back, as she was the only ghost.