As the little hedgehog told his story, he bounced and acted out the events that led him to Brenda’s house. The woman’s eyes were wide, and listened with her mouth agape, at all the various events that had happened recently. He would stop occasionally to nibble on one of the offered lemon cookies she had set out on a white porcelain plate with green flowers surrounding the edge. The ghosts of the continental soldiers, and General Washington, drew the most attention from the woman. As Pudgy finished up his story with the bunny rabbit who led him here, she smiled and clapped her hands. “That was an excellent tale, my small friend.” Brenda was about a head shorter than Cobalt, with long brown hair that brushed her shoulders. The woman smiled almost from ear to ear, gently scooping up the soft hedgehog, and hugging him gently. The hedgehog’s quills were so soft, and he wiggled a bit, before curling in such a way she could easily hold him.
She looked down at him with kind brown eyes and carried him over to a large table that was set up in a spare room. As she set the critter down and pointed at a myriad of coasters being made. “Pudgy, when you stopped by, I was working on these. It is getting time to glue the papers down, so I need to finish these first. In the meantime, I want to hear more about your travels. As she used a paper cutter, she was slicing comic books apart into squares. She had a side business gluing the pages, and then lacquering them, to make unique comic book coasters. She would buy the books at garage sales, and stores for dirt cheap, as these were the ones that were not a collector item whatsoever. The adventurers of Pineapple man never were a big seller, even when he teamed up with the marvelous Bologna to take on the Fruit Salad of Doom. Pudgy started to scamper around the table, looking at the various squares, touching a white puddle, then found he could not move his paw off the table. “Help…” he said, while Brenda laughed. He had glued his paw to the table, and with some gently pressure, she was able to pull him free.
Pudgy sat there with a sticky paw, trying to scrape the glue off his paw, only to get both paws stuck. He looked up at her, and she shook her head laughing, while getting the glue dissolve solution. Dabbing a bit on his paw, he was able to break free, and clean himself. The hedgehog was talking about his steamboat adventure, meeting the silver fox, and battling Harvey. His human host smiled, and worked on her project, listening and occasionally patting him on his head. The hedgehog bounced happily when she did that and continued with his stories. Soon, before the two had realized it, it was midafternoon, and with the coasters drying, they returned to the living room. She worked the remote control, and turned the television on, and started a movie. It was Mega Robot Dinosaur versus the Crimson Shadow, a black and white classic from the horrible movie collection of Doctor Smarty Pants. It was one of those movies so dumb, you must watch it to the end. Plus, she bought the collector’s edition, which had the special feature, by the prop master. He made a monster with a 5-gallon bucket, and googly eyes.
The little hedgehog yawned, and has curled up, falling asleep next to Brenda’s leg. She smiled, and let her furry friend sleep, while turning down the volume on the television. Getting her phone out, she tweeted Cobalt, letting him know Pudgy had made it safe to her house. The man almost immediately responded, thanking her, as well asking questions about the condition of his furry friend. But curiosity was getting the better of her, and as she chatted with Cobalt, Pudgy’s little pack was sitting on her coffee table. Shifting ever so slightly, she reached over, and picked up the pack with her free hand. While setting the phone on her left leg, she started to attempt to untie the straps of the tiny pack. It was hard, as the straps were so small, though she had not cut her fingernails, so it made untying the knot easier. Soon she had success and opened the pack. Inside she found a couple small pieces of biscuits, a rolled up $20 bill, and a blue sapphire gemstone. She looked at the stone, it was the deepest blue, almost blocking light from passing through it.
Brenda raised the stone, and looked at it, with the light behind it. But to her amazement, she saw a picture on the other side with a blue tint. It was a big brick building, that had a Greek revival with 4 white stone columns and a triangular tympanum. She started to get a pressure in her temples, and a headache was starting to form. Turning her gaze, she looked away, and down at the hedgehog who was looking at her. He was frowning, “you opened Pudgy’s pack.” The woman frowned, “I am sorry Pudgy, I shouldn’t have. I just got so curious; it got the better of me. But Pudgy, I saw something in the stone. It looked like a museum of some sort, but I am unsure where.” Pudgy nodded, and put his paws up, pointing at the stone. The woman handed the stone back and watched as the hedgehog started to look inside. “Pudgy use stone to look at things. General Washington said that there is a second stone somewhere. We may be looking through it, ok Pudgy found big building…”
The hedgehog saw the same building once again, though as he turned the stone, he could change the angle of view slightly. He saw the side of a sign, “Museum of City of New….” Brenda nodded, and got out her phone, “I thought that looked familiar, it’s the Museum for New York. They have a bunch of nice displays in it, along with a sizeable collection of colonial America artifacts. But Pudgy, if you are seeing through the other stone, why is it outside?” The hedgehog looked up at her, “Pudgy unsure, think perhaps seeing where other stone was. Maybe someone carrying it, but the closer Pudgy get, stone allowing Pudgy to do more. When back home, could only see in one direction. If Pudgy turn stone, nothing would happen.” The woman nodded, , “I see, that would make sense. I am sure the museum staff would be able to help you if we ask them.” Pudgy looked up at her, “But New York City so far away, how will Pudgy get there?” Brenda smiled, and patted his head gently. “I will take you there. We can take the train into the city, then either walk or take a taxi to the museum.” Pudgy bounced happily, “Thank you Brenda!”
The hedgehog started to look again into the stone and saw Hecate’s Daughter running through the front door. The hedgehog was starting to wonder what she was up to. Pudgy looked back up at Brenda, and then in front of him as she sat his pack down in front of him. As the hedgehog started to put his pack back into order, she was busying selecting the next movie. She also was checking her phone at the same time, “Ok, the Museum is open on Monday at 8 am. So, tonight is movie night, get a good night’s sleep, then off to New York city tomorrow morning.” The movie’s title screen started to appear attack of the Devilled Eggs of Doom. As Pudgy watched, the movie was so silly. He laughed and bounced with her on the couch, before the two of them fell asleep one by one while the spicy brown mustard man was battling le French mustarde’. Costumed super villains, firing mustard at each other.
Brenda woke up many hours later and noticing her DVD play’s title screen was still on the television. Checking her phone, it was almost 5 am, so she had slept on the couch watching movies again. As she rubbed her neck, it was stiff from having slept in an odd position. She wondered if yesterday a dream had been, but that thought was dashed, as she felt a pressure on her lap. Looking down, the hedgehog had curled up, and fell asleep on her legs. She smiled, and gently scooped him up in her hands, and raised him to hug gently. “Pudgy, wake up.” The little critters stirred and yawned sleepily. “Ok, 5 more minutes then. I need to get ready.” Setting the hedgehog back onto the couch, she stood up and headed around the couch to the stairs that led upstairs. As she closed the white door that led into her bedroom, she began to get ready for a trip into the city. Based on her proximity to New York City, she could get into downtown within an hour. There were many people that lived in New Jersey but worked in New York.
While Pudgy slowly woke up, he could hear movement upstairs. His hostess was getting ready, so the hedgehog wiggled, and put his backpack and mining helmet on. He carefully climbed down the couch, and then scampered along the hardwood floors to get to the front door. There were glass panels that were on each side of the door, which he could peek out of just barely. As the hedgehog stood up on the edge of his paws, he could see a couple ghosts in red coats outside. “Oh no, they found Pudgy. It must be the stone, when we look through, it attracts them.” He could hear footsteps as Brenda came down from upstairs, in blue jeans, a comic book shirt with Wolverine dancing in a hula grass skirt. The tag line was, “I didn’t mean this when I said, care to dance?!” She looked at Pudgy, “What do you see?” The hedgehog kept looking through the glass, “British ghosts, they found us.” The woman nodded, “but they are just ghosts, what can they do?” Pudgy quickly started to explain what happened at the start of his adventure, which caused the woman to frown. “Ok, then we will need to be careful.”
The woman motioned with her hand and knelt while Pudgy scampered up to her. She scooped him up, and then smiled while she stood up. Turning, she walked through her home, the beige colored walls were adorned by the occasional painting as well as movie poster in a shadowbox. As she moved through her home, she turned lights off, and turned to the door that led into the garage. It was already open, “That’s strange, I thought I shut that door…” As she approached, moaning sounds started to occur behind her. “Not spooky at all, just going to go to the garage now.” She muttered, while Pudgy looked around. Inside the garage was a black mist, and then a solider clad in red coat started to emerge from the mist. “We found you … traitor.” The woman screamed, and then turned and started to run through her house, to the front door. As she opened it, there was another solider standing there, with half of his face missing. Ducking she got past the solider, and slammed the door shut behind her.
She kept running and was awfully glad she had opted for her gray tennis shoes, instead of the flats. Luckily, she already was dressed and had her black purse readied. As she ran, she looked back, and saw the soldiers swarming the house all slowly turn towards her. “Pudgy, how did they find you?” The hedgehog clutched onto her hands tightly, “Pudgy think when look through stone, it attracts them.” The woman nodded and breathed hard while she ran. The train station was only a couple of blocks away, thankfully. So, in a short time, the two friends had reached a nondescript brown brick building, labelled MTA New Jersey. The sign below it said Dunellen Station, stop 95036. As she rubbed her leg with a free hand, her muscles burned from the quick exertion. Walking up to a ticket booth, an annoyed transit worker in a blue uniform looked at the two of them. “Taking the hedgehog for a trip? The young woman with a nose piercing asked with a tone.
Pudgy waved, “we need tickets to go to New York City please!” Brenda smiled, and the ticket lady looked with wide eyes at the hedgehog. The woman ran the transaction, and “ok, 1 adult, and 1 child, that will be $11.80.” Brenda nodded, and fished around in her purse, paying for the tickets. After receiving the paper tickets, and her change, they entered the station. It was spartan, with a couple wooden benches, a pop machine tucked in a corner, and the occasional traveler. It was as they moved through the station, Pudgy saw the blonde businesswoman from Valley Forge he had met at breakfast with Cobalt. Waving, “Hi Lady!” Brenda turned, and smiled recognizing her as well. “Hello, your name wouldn’t happen to be Lori would it?” The businesswoman was dressed in a business casual outfit, with navy blue slacks and a pale-yellow blouse. She had been working on a laptop, when the two started to talk to her. Looking up she smiled, “why hello, yes my name is Lori?” Brenda walked over, “Hi, I’m Brenda, from twitter. I make the coasters. This is Pudgy.”
Lori smiled, and marveled that this was indeed the hedgehog she had met in the hotel from Pennsylvania. Brenda sat down across from her on a nearby wooden bench and smiled. Lori looked at Pudgy, “my word, what are you doing out here?” Pudgy bounced, “Pudgy off on adventure, we need to get to a museum in New York City now. Have to find something, and maybe they can help.” The blonde woman red lips curled into a smile, “well, it certain does have many museums. Brenda, which one are you going to?” Brenda smiled, “the Museum of the City of New York, on 5th avenue.” Looking up at the clock, “I do not need to be back to the office until later this afternoon, I can take you there. I happen to be a donor and met the curator at a party last month. Terrible appetizers, how can you mess up tater tots?” Pudgy looked confused, “tater tots are full of potato goodness, when you open hot comes out.” The two women laughed, as a loudspeaker announced, “114 to Newark Penn Station, boarding now.” Brenda stood up, “that is our train.” Lori nodded, and packed away her silver laptop into a travel bag, “Mine too, let us ride together. I want to learn more.”
The two women walked through the station, to a set of glass sliding doors, and walked up to an entry platform. The conductor was scanning the tickets with a hand scanner, and as Brenda approached, she showed the two tickets. The conductor was an elderly man with a trimmed gray beard and smiled as he scanned. “hope you have a safe trip. Especially you hedgehog, no running around on the train.” Pudgy waved, “ok mister, Pudgy promise!” As Brenda carried Pudgy into the silver train car, passing the MTA New Jersey logo, Lori had her ticket scanned, and entered behind them. Turning to the left, they found an empty row of seats. Brenda picked the window seat, so she could put Pudgy on the ledge, and look out. Lori sat on the aisle seat and stowed her laptop bag. As the conductor got back on board, the doors shut, and the loudspeaker announced, “expected arrival time, 40 minutes to Newark Penn Station. Please be advised, Transit to New York city is delayed.” Lori rolled her eyes, “every time. What do they do here in New Jersey to stop the trains?” Pudgy raised paw, “they have to put the train tracks back, so train can come back.” Lori blinked, while Brenda laughed. As the train started to lurch forward, Pudgy looked out of the window, and then ducked down and hid in Brenda’s lap.
Lori watched as several red coat clad soldiers started to mill about inside the station, while the transit policy was trying to stop them. “How odd, red clad soldiers….” Brenda ducked, “oh shoot!” As the train continued to move forward, and the station disappeared behind them, Brenda sat back up. Pudgy looked around, “is it safe now?” The confused blonde woman gently picked up Pudgy, and looked at him, “Ok, what is going on? And do not tell me it will take too long to explain, we have a long trip ahead of us.” So Pudgy began to tell his story about everything that had happened so far in his trip. As the hedgehog told his story, and acted our certain parts, the two women listened intently. Other travelers started to move closer, to watch the talking hedgehog. After Pudgy was done, a collective quiet fell over the train car, while the new jersey towns and cities passed outside of the train car’s windows. Lori rubbed her chin, “well, that is certainly quiet a story. So, you think the museum is where the other stone is? Or where you can find a clue to lead to the other stone?”
The hedgehog nodded, “when we looked through stone, the red coat soldiers come. General Washington said that the stones came from King George and were being sent to New York colony.” Lori blinked, “why does that sound so familiar. Oh my, now I remember, the party at the museum. They were celebrating a reciprocal agreement they had made with the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, in the United Kingdom. They had a collection of artifacts from the colonial America times, including the effects from the Tyron estate. William Tyron was the Governor for New York colony, and a crown loyalist.” Brenda nodded, “that makes sense then, if Tyron was the Governor, the King would send him things that could possibly stop the rebellion.” Lori nodded, “exactly, it’s not coincidence you two are heading there. Someone, or something, is trying to guide you there. Pudgy, what happens if you find the other stone?” The hedgehog looked serious, “General Washington said that if the two stones got together, something bad would happen. If Pudgy use stone too long, it gets ridiculously hot. Pudgy think same should happen to other stone, then can destroy them.”
Lori nodded, and looked up at the LCD notice board, advising they were soon to reach the station. “Ok you two, we are almost to the station. We need to get onto the MTA New York train, and hopefully, we do not bump into any ghosts. I am not dressed for battle.” Brenda laughed, “how can you walk in heels that high?” Lori posed and stuck out her pantyhose clad leg for effect, “they’re my power shoes.” Pudgy bounced, “oh boy, Pudgy bet you can open cans with those.” When he saw the long heel tip, which caused the two women to laugh hysterically. The train slowed to a stop, as they pulled into the station. The cars all dinged over the speakers and signaled everyone to leave the train. As Brenda carried the hedgehog, they followed Lori. Everyone had their purses, laptop bags, and hedgehogs, so the train quickly emptied. Following the businesswoman, her heels made a loud tapping noise with each step. Pudgy noticed the way she walked; her rear end was moving in a strange motion. Brenda laughed, “Pudgy, that’s normal when women walk in heels. I hate them, so I wear flats, which are much easier to walk in.”
Lori reached the ticket booth and bought a ticket to 34th Street Penn Station. As she received the ticket and the receipt, she stepped aside. Pudgy waved at another grumpy looking woman with a heavy tan, “Can Pudgy go to New York city!” Brenda laughed, “2 tickets for the same place as her.” Motioning to Lori. The fares came to be $6, which Brenda paid with cash. After accepting the tickets, the hedgehog waved, “bye ticket lady!” The trio maneuvered their way through the growing crowd of people, milling about the platform, waiting for the train to New York city to arrive. As Pudgy looked around, he saw all manner of people, dressed in a dizzying array of styles. Some where professionals Like Lori, others were families, and some wore red coats. But it was not the ghostly soldiers, though they all had their faces painted in funny colors. They must be part of a theater group, the hedgehog thought wile he nodded to himself. While generally most people were in a pleasant mood, there were a couple of people using language like Mister Bunny from New Jersey used.
The loudspeakers announced in a robotic tone, to keep back from the train platform. A big silver train with the MTA New York logo started to pull into the station. Pudgy marveled, that at the front and back of the train was an engine. That way the train did not need to be turned around at the stations. The doors opened, and people started to get out and file past the groups waiting to board the train. Once everyone had been cleared out, and a safety check by the transit policy completed, the people could board the train. As their group reached the conductor, who again was scanning tickets, the older woman smiled and patted Pudgy’s head. The hedgehog bounced happily and waved at the lady. Like the train from before, the two women found a couple seats that were open and sat down. Pudgy wiggled free of Brenda’s hands, and crawled up to sit on her shoulder. He peeked out through the window, and then at Lori as he peeked from under Brenda’s chin. The woman laughed, “Pudgy, that tickles!” She gently scooped him up, and then in a quick motion, set the hedgehog down on Lori’s leg.
The train started to pull forward once more, and soon they were off once again. Pudgy looked around, and up at Lori. Her blonde hair fell about her shoulders framing her face. “I bet you have never been to a city before Pudgy?” Lori asked with a smile, and the hedgehog bounced. “Pudgy has been to Pittsburgh, it goes on forever and ever.” The two women laughed, and Lori picked up the hedgehog in her hands. He was so soft, and she turned him to get a better look out of the window. New York city loomed in the distance, beyond a huge bridge looming in the distance. “New York is much bigger.” Several other passengers laughed and nodded, watching the little hedgehog’s reaction to the huge metropolis that lay before them. When the train started to descend, Pudgy looked back at Lori. “Pudgy thought we are going over bridge?” The woman nodded, “No, we go through tunnels to go under the river. This takes us to Penn Station. So New York City on a Monday, during rush hour…..”
Brenda laughed, she had been checking her phone, “We could walk from the station, but it looks like it would be a good hike.” Lori laughed, “you want to walk 75 blocks? In these heels, we’re taking a taxi!” The two women laughed, and Pudgy bounced happily on Lori’s lap. The train approached the tunnels, and one by one the cars started to grow dark. Soon the interior lights were the only source of dim light in the train, and everyone in the car talked quietly amongst themselves. Brenda looked at Pudgy who’s belly had stopped moving, “Um, Pudgy, what are you doing.” The hedgehog grabbed his nose, “Pudgy hold breath, we need air to make it through tunnel.” Then he fell onto his back and wiggled his legs. Lori blinked, trying to suppress a laugh, watching the hedgehog wiggling. Soon though, he let out his breath, and gasped, and looked up at Brenda again. She laughed and rubbed his belly gently.
Several minutes passed, and the darkness of the tunnels was starting to lessen, as the robotic voice on the speakers said, “Welcome to Penn Station New York.” As The two women got their belongings together, Pudgy put his pack back on, and his little helmet. Then scampered over to get into Brenda’s hands, as she began to stand up. As the people in front of them started to shuffle out of the train car, Pudgy marveled at the huge underground station. Rows of train cars were everywhere, but it said Subway on the signage. “Pudgy looked up at Brenda, “Pudgy thought took train, but that says Subway. Do they make hoagies here?” Lori laughed, “subways travel underground, trains above ground, though some subway cars run both. And yes, they do sell grinders here.” Brenda followed Lori, who was making a racket with her clicking heels, but it was easy to find her in the growing crowd of businesspeople milling about, getting on and off subway train cars.
The station was equally huge as they progressed through it, and up a long set of stairs that led to what looked like a mall. Pudgy started to realize that what he thought was big, was not even close. This was abundantly clear as they exited the station and reached the street level. Gigantic builds stood up and down the tightly packed streets, so tall they might even touch the sky. Lori raised up her hand, “Taxi!” Pudgy looked around, and there were yellow cars driving up and down the road, along with much heavier than back home traffic. Brenda looked around, “yeah, coming during rush hour was not smart.” Lori laughed, “Yeah, but makes sense, it will take us an hour or so to get to the museum.” A yellow taxi cap pulled up, and Brenda opened the door, sliding into the back seat. Lori entered next and slid in carefully. Setting her laptop bag next to Brenda’s purse. The taxi driver did not smell too good and had a scruffy black beard. “Where you ladies wanna go?” Pudgy bounced in the back seat, “Can we go to Museum?” Lori laughed, “The Museum of the City Of New York, on Museum, near central park.”
The man pushed a lever, and a number started to tick upwards. The car pulled out, while the driver barked. “Get out of the way, you bunch of…” So Pudgy started to learn the colloquial language of the city, with Brenda covering his little ears when the Mother fudger in the rental truck cut them off. The cars inched up Madison Avenue. So, the trip in terms of files was less than 5 miles, but traffic wise, meant it would be over an hour. Lori’s bag started to buzz, and she opened it, pulling out a cell phone. She answered it, “Hello, yeah. I am in the car; we are stuck on Madison. Wait, what? Who the fudge started a margin call?” Brenda decided to just cover Pudgy’s ears, and the little hedgehog watched her red lipstick covered lips moving amazingly fast. He could tell, she was using Dr Who complaint level language to talk to someone. The hedgehog pulled up one of Brenda’s fingers, and heard Lori shouting. “You tell Michaels, to cover that position! We have a short on the stock, and if he doesn’t get his donkey in gear, we will be in the hole a million.”
The businesswoman hung up the phone and looked at the hedgehog peeking at her from under Brenda’s hand. “I’m not mad at you Pudgy, it’s just that stupid S.O.B. I go off on a trip for the company, and he decides to short Apple.” The hedgehog nodded, “Pudgy like apple, makes good pie.” The taxi driver laughed, “good one! You tell Michael when you see him, even I know you do not short that. You start a strike put!” Lori blinked, “what are you driving a cab?” The driver laughed, “I’m barred from trading by the SEC, insider trading. Made a bunch though, now drive a cab.” Lori blinked, and nodded while Pudgy looked around. After an extremely long car ride, the taxicab pulled up in front of a stately brown and white brick building. The driver turned the meter off, “ok, $34.50.” Brenda got some money out and paid the driver. As the two women got out, and made certain to take their purse, bags, hedgehog, and pack, Lori shut the door behind them. The taxicab pulled off and started to head down the street. Pudgy could see a huge green forest across the street.
Lori pointed, “that is central park, and over here is the museum.” Pudgy looked up, and the big Museum sign was prominent. So, while the two women walked up towards the white stone front, with the four stately columns, they entered through the front doors. Pudgy marveled, at the polished white marble floors that stretched throughout. The entrance was a round rotunda, that went easily 2 or 3 floors high. Though the front area was blocked off by the security station, as well as two sets of white security doors to ensure safety and people pay to get in. Lori smiled at the security guard, “Hello James, is Winston in?” The security guard was a younger man, buff and muscular, wearing a black museum shirt. The middle-aged man smiled at her, “Well hello Lori, I will check. I see you brought some friends.” The security guard picked up a black phone and dialed a number. “Hello, yes is Winston in today? One of the donors have stopped by. Oh, I see, thank you.” The guard hung up the phone, and looked up at Lori, “It is his day off, I am sorry, he should be here tomorrow.”
Brenda nodded, “well, we can still go in and see the museum. Maybe that will still help?” Lori nodded, and since Brenda paid the Taxi, she got out money to pay for 2 adults and one child ticket. Pudgy waved at the ticket lady, an annoyed teenage girl who was there because she needed it on her activity list for college. But she had to crack a smile when Pudgy waved and smiled at her. So as the security doors buzzed open, they were allowed entry into the museum. Just as impressive as the entrance rotunda was, the museum stretched in many directions. Brenda looked at a sign board and found the wing for the colonial artifacts and exhibits. “We can skip the modern stuff and go straight to colonial America.” Lori nodded, and as she walked beside Brenda, Pudgy got a good chance to look around. And soon after ascending a staircase, they reached the early American history exhibits. All three kept their eyes peeled on anything that be important, and while Brenda paused, Lori pointed at a display case. “Here, look at this!” Brenda walked over, and a hand painted portrait was displayed. Pudgy read aloud, “Governor William Tyron, 1772.” As they read about how King George has installed him as Governor after acting as Lieutenant Governor for the colony of North Carolina.
Pudgy started to wiggle, and then opened his pack, pulling out the small sapphire. Placing it in front of him, the hedgehog looked through. The painting started to glow, and words could be seen. “Pudgy see words! They say Evening in a New Land.” Lori nodded, “the placard says he was married, and his wife’s painting should be nearby.” As Pudgy kept looking through the gemstone, he saw Hecate’s Daughter dart past, and up an aisle beside them. “Pudgy see Hecate’s Daughter again, she went up that way.” He pointed with his paw, and while he kept looking, Brenda moved in that direction. Soon an empty wall appeared, with the clear outlines from faded paint, that a portrait was there. Pudgy saw the magical woman looking at a model ship nearby, before disappearing in a slow flash of light. The hedgehog put the gemstone away, and his pack back on. As Brenda looked up, she saw a little handwritten sign. “Evening in a New Land has been loaned to the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, in Birmingham United Kingdom. Dang it,” Brenda cursed while standing there.
Pudgy wiggled free from her hands and bounced over to climb down the side of her leg, to reach the floor. She laughed, while Lori flagged over a museum worker. A young man with a dark tan appeared, “yes?” Oh, that painting, yes, we have a reciprocal agreement with the Birmingham Museum. The painting should be returned within a year. They loaned us some artifacts in exchange.” Lori nodded “Thank you. Well, this seems to be a lead that has grown cold. Maybe something else is in here that can help us?” Brenda nodded, rubbing her back with her hands, “I hope so, I would hate for Pudgy to have come all this way for a dead end.” Lori blinked, and looked around, “where is Pudgy?” Brenda looked down, and the hedgehog was gone. “Pudgy? Where did you go?” Lori scanned the room, and found the hedgehog looking at a model sailing ship, that was so big, that the hedgehog might eb able to sail it himself. “There he is, over by the ship.” Brenda sighed, “Oh good. Pudgy, you have to tell us before running off like that!” Brenda chided him gently, but as she approached with Lori, watched the hedgehog pick up the stone once more.
The ship started to glow, with an unearthly light. The stone as well, started to glow with a similar color, and soon the hedgehog started to float from the floor. Several museum workers and patrons all stood transfixed at the display that was before them. Lori raised her hand, “wait Pudgy, that might not….” The room soon was suddenly filled with a flash of blue white light, and the smell of ozone was faint, but present. As the two women rubbed their eyes, their vision slowly returned to normal. The hedgehog was gone, and as Brenda rushed over, “Pudgy! Where did you go!” Lori walked over, “Pudgy?” As Brenda knelt, she looked down and up into the ship. “Oh, my goodness, there’s pictures painted inside of this ship!” Lori nodded, “this is not the outfit to be examining antique ships. What do you see?” Brenda nodded, trying to get a good vantage point. It looks like…a map of Birmingham, England. There is a castle I think inside. Oh my…” the businesswoman nodded, and hoped where the hedgehog had gone to, he would be safe. She had met him several times during the strip and was glad to have a role in helping him with the adventure. Brenda stood up, and sighed, “I was hoping to help more.” Lori placed a hand on her shoulder, “You did, but now he is off on his own.”
The next thing Pudgy knew when he could see, was that he was now in a grassy field. The museum was gone, along with Brenda and Lori. The gemstone was extremely hot, so he put it back into his pack. As the hedgehog started to scamper through the grass, he could see that the light was fading. Wherever he was, it was now not midafternoon, but late evening. He would need to find a place to sleep for the night. As the critter scooted through some tall grass, he found a sign, but it was just a 40 in a red circle. “That is weird sign.” Pudgy remarked, while following the road, as it continued to wind along the countryside. It was the next sign that totally confused Pudgy, it looked like a fishhook, with branching lines coming from it, pointing to different names. “Birmingham, hmm…did Pudgy go to Alabama?” It was not hot, in fact it was much cooler than the south ordinally would be, so it was not the deep south. Pudgy remembered New Orleans, how hot it was there during his trip.
While the light fading, Pudgy found a hollowed-out log, and climbed inside. Trying to make himself comfortable, the hedgehog started to yawn. With the excitement fading, he started to miss Cobalt. While wondering what he was up to, the hedgehog fell asleep. Pudgy slept a dreamless sleep and did not wake up until morning. As the sun started to peek out and bright forth its light, a light rain was falling. Opening his pack, he got out a biscuit, and nibbled on it. The gemstone was cool to the touch, which was good. Pudgy wondered why it did that, while tying the pack together once again, and hoisting it onto his shoulders. As the hedgehog emerged from the log, he started to scamper once more. Until he reached a big 2 lane road with wide berms along each side. The cars were going in the wrong directions. As the hedgehog sat alongside the road, the traffic was passing by, one by one, which meant if he timed it right, he could get across the road. Thankfully, Pudgy spotted a cross walk, and people milling about. So, he headed over, and reached the concrete curb where an elderly man was leaning on a wooden cane. Pudgy waved at the man, who looked down, and waved back.
While waiting for the traffic to stop, Pudgy saw a woman on a purple scooter pull up to the traffic light. She had a purple helmet on, with red hair sticking out from underneath. She had an outfit of jeans and a white shirt on. Pudgy thought she looked familiar, but he could not place it. The man started to walk, and soon Pudgy was scampering beside him. He was running as fast as his little legs could carry him and made it across panting on the curb on the opposite side of the street. When the light turned and signaled traffic could proceed, the cars passed. However, the scooter pulled up, and the woman flipped up the smoky face shield. “Pudgy? Is that you?” The hedgehog looked up, recognizing the woman’s face. “PURPLE LADY!” He started to wave, and scamper over to where she had parked. The woman laughed happily and watched as the hedgehog reached her foot and started to climb up her leg. When he reached her knee, he sat down and waved. The woman smiled, “Pudgy I cannot stop here for long, so you will have to come with me. Please hold on, “she said while gently picking up, and moving him around behind her, so he could hang onto her pants back pockets. The hedgehog held close, and felt the scooter pull out and move once more.
The gemstone had brough him to the city of Birmingham, in the United Kingdom. So, no wonder the signs were all wrong, and the cars drove on the wrong side of the road. Pudgy had crossed the Atlantic Ocean again, in a matter of seconds. Pudgy wondered if the reason why the stone seemed to be growing in power, was because he was getting closer to the other stone? That would be a question for another time, and he watched as the scooter passed a bank with a big orange sign, and on the other side of the road was a 6-sided building with a round roof. He wondered what those were, as the ride continued.
Pudgy sighed happily, glad to have run into Purple Lady once again. His adventure would be much easier with her assistance. Though he had a worry, she might not help. This is technically something General Washington wanted Pudgy to do, and he was a traitor to the crown. She was a British citizen, so she might not help him. The hedgehog shook his head, he would put that thought away. He watched as her long red hair flowed in the wind, and the city passed by. He knew he was safe with her, and that everything would turn out all right in the end.
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