War Shadow: Chapter 6: Tarantula

Far above on the water’s surface, Mrs. Waffles was nervously pacing the deck of the pontoon boat.  Her husband had been down for almost fifty minutes.  She was becoming a nervous wreck, and while she was concerned about Pudgy, her husband meant more to her.   She felt a pang of guilt when that thought crossed her mind and shook her head.  Due to the natural movement of the water, she had to fire up the engine a couple times to move the boat back into position.  The surface activities helped keep her mind on track, but the worries continued. 

It was during another movement back into position, that she saw another boat approaching.  It was another pontoon boat, though this one had a red top.  There was a woman with red hair, dressed in a 50’s swimsuit at the helm.  She slowed her boat down and started to drift up beside the pontoon boat.  On the deck, laid out on the small deck area that lay outside of the railings, was a young woman in a two-piece pink bathing suit.  The younger woman was sunbathing and letting her feet dangle n the water.   “Hello!  Are you all right?”  The red-haired woman called out, as the engine started to idle.  Mrs. Waffles waved, “Yes, I am fine.  My husband and hedgehog are diving right now.”  Pointing to the red diving flag, Mrs. Waffles smiled. 

The red-haired woman’s mouth dropped, “Did you say hedgehog?  Is he about 6 inches tall, brown quills, and has a little backpack and helmet?”  Mrs. Waffles blinked, “Why yes he does.  Pudgy came to visit us about a week ago.”  The red-haired woman got a big smile on her face, “Oh my goodness, I know Pudgy!  He came to visit me a long time ago at my house, and I met him on the return trip from his adventure from New Orleans?  Is he off on another adventure?”   The woman in the red once piece swimsuit walked to the side of the pontoon boat, “Lizzy are you, all right?”  The younger woman did not respond.  Walking forward, the younger woman had a set of headphones on, and was sunbathing.  “Ok, she’s fine.  I’m Samantha Valkyrie by the way.” She said while turning to the brunette woman on the other pontoon boat.

“I’m Lady of Waffles,” she said while smiling during the introduction.  She recognized the name, and the YouTube show that she was a part of.   “Is that Purple Lady on the front of the boat?”  Samantha laughed, then snorted, “No that is my daughter Lizzy.  She’s in high school and DOESN’T LISTEN TO HER MOTHER!”  The two women laughed, when the teenager did not respond.  She was listening to music and sunbathed, blissfully unaware.  Samantha smiled, “So, how is Pudgy trying to save the world this time?”  Mrs. Waffles laughed, “Pope of the Waffles and Pudgy are scuba diving to a place called Boone Township.  It is a town that is under the lake, where there is a naval base.  They’re looking for a submarine.”  Samantha’s eyes went wide, and she blinked several times.  “A submarine, is down at the bottom of the lake?”

The teenage girl sat up from her perch at the front of the pontoon boat and pointed ahead.  As she slipped her headphones down to dangle around her neck, she spoke. “Mom, what is that?”  Samantha and Mrs. Waffles looked ahead, and the skies started to turn black.  The woman grumbled, “oh great, a thunderstorm.”  But the dark clouds were only centered in one tiny region of the skies, and not all over, so the storm was not behaving like a normal weather phenomenon.   The teenage girl stood up and walked through the little gate at the front of the boat and shut it behind her.  She smiled at the other woman on the opposite boat.  “Mom, maybe we should head back.”  Samantha nodded, “that would probably make sense, but Pudgy is down underneath the water.”

The teenage girl rolled her eyes, “Not this again.  Mom, Pudgy does not exist.”  Mrs. Waffles shook her head, “No, he certainly does, and has been running around my house for a week.”     The teenage girl’s eyes refocused on her mother’s, “wait, he really does exist?”   But the girl watched as her mother’s eyes fixated on the horizon, “Lizzy, get behind me.”  As Lizzy turned around, she could see what she meant.  A black miasma was flying over the lake at a terrific rate of speed.  There was a pale white war horse, clad in dark leather armor galloping over the water’s surface.  Mrs. Waffles made the sign of the cross as she muttered, “I looked, and beheld a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him”  The miasma started to clear, and a dark clad in black robes held the reins.  The skies continued to darken, and soon virtually no light could be seen save for the running lights on the boats. 

The void surrounded the boat, soon draining away all the lake sounds.  Glowing orange orbs floated at the height of where the rider’s eyes should be.  A demonic sounding voice started to speak with a thick German accent. “Leave this place, you do not belong here.”   Samantha was frozen with fear as she looked up and could just barely hear the other boat’s occupant talking.  “No, I can’t leave yet, my husband is underneath us.”  The orange orbs started to crackle as fire began to dance upon them. “HE DID WHAT?”  The figure roared, and the horse’s hooves started to burn with a blue flame, causing the water’s surface to hiss as it began to boil.  Lizzy was screaming in terror, especially as she could not move her bare feet on the carpeted deck’s platform.   The figure extended a long arm, with a gauntleted hand, and threw her down to the deck.  “Be quiet wretch….”

Samantha’s eyes focused on the figure, and she snapped back to attention. “DON’T YOU DARE TOUCH MY FUDGING DAUGHTER!”  There was an aluminum pole with a hook at the end, which was used to pull the boat back into the slip.  Kneeling, the enraged mother picked up the pole and lunged forward.  Wailing with the pole, she swung at the figure, striking him on the arm.  The dark figure roared and began to sink into the water.   Samantha continued to thrust the polearm out, trying to beat back the dark figure.  An insidious laugh filled the area, dark and guttural.  The rider continued to sink, and just as his head was just starting to submerge, he spoke. “I will deal with you three later, I must find your husband.”  The dark void continued to surround the boats, and as Lizzy weakly stood up, she looked up at her mother.  “Mom, I’m all right.”

Meanwhile, far below the water’s surface, Pope was in amazement as several ghostly soldiers had appeared within the narrow confines of the submarine.  They were standing at their respective stations, and Pudgy was waiving at one solider.  He was out of place, dressed in an olive drab outfit, with a world war 1 doughboy style helmet on.  The other soldiers were dressed in naval uniforms.  Pope floated there and was motionless.  He was in disbelief, at what was unfolding in front of him.  He could clearly see the glowing ghosts, and the hedgehog floating in front of him.  The underwater flare had long since burned out.      He tried to take a draw of air through the rebreather, and found it was hard to draw oxygen.  He did not panic, and calmly took out the flexible lead that held the gauge. 

The dial read 10 psi, which meant he had scant minutes left of oxygen in the tank.  He could not call out to Pudgy, nor could he move very well in the tight quarters of the submarine.  However, one of the naval ghosts walked over, and looked down at the gauge.  It was then as the ghost patted his shoulder, the man felt gravity, and soon he was standing on the deck plating.   A vibration shook the submarine, and as the man started to look out, he could see the hatch was closed on the conning tower.  There was a bulkhead hatch that also closed behind him.   The soft glow of the crucifix filled the submarine, with bubbles forming everywhere.  To the man’s amazement, one by one, red lights started to illuminate down the interior corridor of the submarine.  He watched as Pudgy started to float downwards. 

In a short period of time, he could feel the water dropping below his shoulders.  When he dove, he did not have a scuba suit on, so he could feel the movement of air around his body.   Several tense minutes passed, and as the air continued to grow less with each breath, Pope started to feel lightheaded.  Looking forward, he saw Pudgy taking off his diving helmet.  The hedgehog waved signaling it was ok.  As he removed the rebreather from his mouth, he coughed, and took a breath.  The air was stale, but breathable.   The ghosts were standing at their stations, checking the controls.  Pudgy waved again, “Thank you Gunnery Sergeant!”   The ghost smiled, “I see you brought a new friend, Pudgy?”  Pope nodded, as he started to take off his diving mask.  “Yes, my name is Pope.”  The hedgehog bounced happily, “The submarine is under a lake, in Texas.”  The one naval ghost snorted, “you know what comes from Texas…steers and….”  Another naval man smacked him, “I’m from Texas, shut the fudge up!”  Another naval man, who was missing part of his face called out, “What the hell Zeke?”

The Gunnery Sergeant looked grim, “boys, the shades were in Branson.  Pudgy Hedgehog and a friend of his helped me bust out the tank and take it on.”  The other ghosts floated with a translucent glow but looked at the Marine. Pudgy held up his paw, “What are the shades?”  The soldiers looked at one another, until a man walked out, clearly dressed in an officer’s uniform.  The soldiers all stood at attention and saluted.  Pope nodded, “I presume you are the captain?”  The captain nodded, “I am.  This is my vessel.  And Pudgy, to answer your question…” The captain trailed off, while turning to face the hedgehog.  “The shades are part of the Axis forces.  We do not know exactly what they are: part ghost, part demon, part man.  They can be killed, by overwhelming force.  But on your own, darn near impossible.  It was on our return mission from Hamburg, as he sailed up the river Elbe, when we happened upon a transport convoy of ships.”

The marine nodded, “that was a cluster fudge. Reached Cuxhaven and…” The captain glared at him, “the ships carried a variety of goods, vital to the war effort.  We came upon a treasure: gold, jewels, manuscripts, and artifacts.   The shades swarmed from the land, out to stop us.”  Pope nodded, as he rubbed his chin, “Shades as in plural.  Just how many were there?”   The captain nodded, “four shades, though we suspect that they reported directly to the Kaiser himself.  A fierce battle ensued, as we retrieved the treasure.  It was clear we were no match for the shades and proceeded to evade capture.”  The marine snorted, “We ran away.”  The captain glared again at him, “another word, and I will demote you Sergeant!”  The other naval men laughed and waved at Pudgy was focused in on the Captain while listening intently.

“We ran flank speed on the surface, but the shades pursued us.  It was only by sheer miracle, our electric batteries had charged, and we could submerge.  We evaded the shades and proceeded north by north west through the North Sea to reach our home port at Edinburgh.  It was during that trip, that we determined just what was found in the treasure.  The manuscripts were written in Latin, and after translation was complete, we determined the treasure held magical properties.  One was a blue sapphire, that was part of a trio.  It had the power to travel great distances, if reunited with its matching stones.”  Pudgy rubbed his chest with his paw, knowing which stone they had meant. 

The captain continued, “there was a gold talisman, called afylachtó from ancient Greece.  Supposedly, it had the power of death, and could reach out to a goddess.  And another treasure was a spear, called Longinus.”  Pope blinked, “the spear of Longinus?!?!?  That is what the Romans used to check if Christ had passed away during the crucifixion.”  The soldiers nodded, with the Captain nodding again. “Why the Kaiser would have these relics, was anyone’s guess.  When we arrived in Edinburgh, we notified our superiors.  The British Naval command immediately seized the treasure and took the Sapphire.   It was then we realized that we needed to hide the remaining artifacts.  We were too late to stop the spear from leaving but was able to hide the fylachtó.  After our submarine was stripped clean of treasure, we were supplied and ordered to return to port in New York.”

Pudgy bounced, “Captain, Pudgy has the sapphire!”  The hedgehog excitedly told the soldiers about the gemstone, and he had merged it with the others.  Pulling it out of his suit, the soldiers gasped as they all crowded around the hedgehog to get a glance.  The hedgehog slipped the stone back into his suit, and to the pocket on his vest where it stayed safe.  Giving the short version of his revolutionary war adventure, the ghostly soldiers listened.  Pope got to hear the full version, so he smiled as Pudgy told his grand tale.  But as he started to tell the return trip part, the submarine shook violently.   The captain stood at attention, “all hands, get me a status report!”  The soldiers snapped back to attention and moved back to their respective stations.  “Batteries at 12% sir, Air at 30% sir, torpedo tube loaded and read sir!”  The captain walked up the deck, “No one strikes my ship.”  Pope blinked, and looked behind him, finding a rudimentary periscope behind him.  Bending down slightly, he looked inside the glass eyepiece. 

A fiery orange globe was looking inside the periscope’s glass mirror above.”  Pope took a step back, “it’s a fire orange orb…” The captain nodded, “darn it all to hell, the shades found us. BATTLE STATIONS!”  The soldiers snapped to, as the officer shouted orders.  Pope called out, “the submarine was sticking nose first into the ground.”  The dive officer nodded, “full reverse!”  The submarine’s electric motors started to whine loudly, as gears started to turn.  The submarine shook again, and a loud screech could be heard.  The sound vibrated the hull, causing echoes to rattle forward and backwards within the interior.   As the propeller started to turn, the vessel started to rattle and lurch back and forth.  It was taking a lot of effort to get dislodged from 80 plus years of sediment and debris.  But after several lurches, they were free, and the vessel started to level off.

Pope turned the periscope and watched as the orbs were floating along the top of the ship.  All he could see was the two orbs as they floated in the water.  What little light there was, was absorbed by a black shadow cloud.  “Captain, the robs seem to be looking along the top of the submarine!” Pope called out, and the captain nodded, “Helmsman, what’s our depth?”  Pope could see a naval solider standing behind him, at a large wheel. “Captain, 73 feet.”  The officer cursed under his breath, “We can not fire the torpedo at this depth. Set dive plane to 10 degree up angle, speed 2 knots!”  The soldiers nodded, and the Gunnery Sergeant pointed at Pudgy. “Pudgy, we’re going to need the fylachtó.  It’s in a bulkhead beside the helmsman, you should be small enough to get inside.”  Pope called over, “what is that thing going to do?” 

A nearby ghost monitoring a battery bank called out, “it can make things die in an instant.”  Another solider called out, “don’t you remember what the manuscript said?  We might summon a death goddess.”  The captain barked, “station reports now!”  The submarine immediately picked up, and soon Pope found himself feeling light he would fall backwards.  He grabbed onto a nearby handle and listened. “Dive angle, 15 degrees up angle.  Speed 6 knots.” The submarine lurched from side to side, and loud scraping noises could be heard along the outer hull.  The screeches were increasing in ferocity, Pope looked around, and could no longer see Pudgy anywhere.  “Pudgy, where are you?”

The hedgehog had listened to the Gunnery Sergeant and had quickly scampered up to the bulkhead as directed.  He had found a little steel panel, rusted shut.  As the critter furiously worked to bend back the metal, he could hear the screeches.  He was scared but had his task to focus on.  The submarine’s nose picked up, and soon a flood of water came out of the bulkhead, which helped Pudgy pull the covering off.  He scampered inside, and soon found a long empty spot where various things were hidden.  Though after so many years under water, most had disintegrated.  Searching, he found an object wrapped in a threadbare cloth, and started to unwrap it.  The talisman was gold and had funny writing on it.  The metal was cool to the touch.  The critter then started to back out of the bulkhead and pulled out what he had found. “Gunnery Sergeant, is this it?”  The marine nodded, “yes, that is it Pudgy.  Captain, torpedo ready!” The captain called out, “surface, and get read to fight men, we’ll take that bastard out once and for all!” 

Pope could see the surface approach from the periscope, and as he turned it, the metal pipe groaned.  He could see the pontoon boats beside them, and a trio to shocked women pointing from two pontoon boats to their starboard side.  Pope looked at the ghostly crew, and the Marine was holding a rifle.  The Captain called out, “Miller, get on the deck, and get that thing off us.  We have one shot at this.  Pudgy, and Pope, stay out of the way, we’ll handle this!”   As the marine rushed back, he passed through Pope, which startled him.  It did not hurt, just felt weird.   He could hear the door open with a screech behind him, and then watched as the solider climbed the ladder of the short conning tower.  As he started to turn the crank for the hatch, it was ripped off.  A loud screech was heard, and the solider fell back to the interior deck plates and started to fire. “Darn you, go back to hell!”

Across from the submarine, Samantha, Lizzy, and Mrs. Waffles were watching in disbelief.   The submarine had come nose up when it surfaced, and caused a huge wave, that pushed their pontoon boats a distance away.  After the submarine levelled out, the black shadowy figure was seen raking its clawed hands across the hull. The screeches of the rider were equally as loud as the scraping of its claws against the metal hull of the submarine.  Sparks were made as its claws gouged at the vessel, and while the horse stood silently on the water’s surface, the robed figure was desperately trying to get inside.  The hatch was ripped from the conning tower, which by all appearances was a short platform that rose perhaps f4 feet from the main body of the submarine.     Lizzy was first to spot what was happening, “Mom, look!”

What sounded like a gun shot could be heard, and soon a ghostly solider started to emerge.  He was dressed in an olive-green drab uniform and had a doughboy helmet on.  The soldier took aim and fired his rifle at the black robed figure.  Roaring in pain, it flailed its long claws at the solider, knocking him onto the deck.   A dark insidious voice roared out, “I remember you…. marine!”  The solider stood up, while reloading. “And I remember you shade.”  The miasma started to clear, and the outlines of the figure appeared slowly.  His face resembled that of a skull, and the orange orbs burned bright.  “our forces have grown strong in your absence.  You are dead, and your time is limited, what hope do you have to stop us?”

Inside the submarine, the Captain was barking orders.  “We have to get the shade out in front of us to use the torpedo!  I need options!”  Pope raised his hand, “sir, why don’t I get outside and swim off in front of the submarine?  My wife is across from us with the pontoon boat.”  The captain shot him a strange look, “what is a pontoon boat?  Never mind, get out there solider.”  Pope nodded, and putting his diving mask on, he started to slowly walk back to the hatch, “Pudgy, whatever you’re doing, speed it up!”   The man started to climb the ladder, but he had to turn his feet, as the flippers were still on.  As Mr. Waffles head emerged from the conning tower, he could see the Marine fighting with a shadowy figure.  Once on the deck, he took off his tank, and using it as a weapon.  The miasma started to form once more, as the figure roared in displeasure. “You can be killed, mortal!”

An upset female voice could just barely be heard, “Pope, you get back here now!”  Mrs. Waffles was beside herself, as her husband was now fighting the black shadowy mass.  She knew she had to act, and rescue her husband, so quickly she walked back to the outboard engine, and pulled the draw string.  The engine fired up, and with a quick look to Samantha, she set the throttle to full.  The pontoon boat started to lurch forward and started to move at a good speed.  As she turned the wheel, the woman guided their boat to head towards the submarine.  Hopefully, she would be able to get close enough, for her husband to just jump over.  As she caught sight of her husband, she saw he had lit an underwater flare and was thrusting to burning end towards the black shadowy mass.  The roars of pain were indescribable, and something she hoped she would never hear ever again in her life. 

Pope watched as his wife was moving the boat alongside the submarine and nodded to himself.  Trying to buy her time, he was using the flare to push the shadowy mass back.  The Gunner Sergeant was still firing, though the ghostly ammunition was having an effect only on the miasma.  The figure itself was fine and continued to lunge forth with outstretched gunmetal colored claws.   The pontoon boat started to come aside the submarine, and the man hurriedly took off the flippers.  Throwing the flare at the miasma, the flame caught fire of the figure’s clothing, sending torrents of green flames throughout its body.   Grabbing his flippers, he ran across the deck plating, and jumped onto the pontoon boat’s deck.  Throwing the flippers down and yellowing, “ok you kraut bastard, come and follow me!” 

His bewildered wife watched as her husband flipped the shadowy figure off with both of his middle fingers, and then lurched back to put the throttle to full.  The boat started to speed off, with the man laughing and saying many curse words at the figure.  As they passed the horse, he smacked it hard on its rear, causing it to kick its legs and voice its displeasure.   The boat continued to speed forward, and while his wife helped her husband remove the scuba tank, she started yelling at him. “What on earth do you think you’re doing?!?!”  The man leaned over to kiss her cheek, “We found the submarine, and Pudgy somehow summoned its crew of ghostly Navy and Marine forces.  The submarine has one torpedo, which we can use to destroy that thing.”

Mrs. Waffles nodded, “oh yes, that makes complete sense.  A FUDGING torpedoes! We are directly ahead of the submarine, are you out of your fudging mind?”   The man laughed, “original plan was me swimming out to lure the creature away.  This is a much better plan, Thank you my darling wife.”  She elbowed him hard, “don’t you darling wife me.  Where the heck is Pudgy?”  Her husband nodded, “He’s still back at the submarine.”  His wife’s eyes went wide, “you left him back there?”  He smiled, “Pudgy is the next part of the plan.”  The woman turned and started to scream, as the black shadowy figure had taken the bait and was now chasing after the pontoon boat.  Pope put her back at the controls, “Keep it straight, and full speed, I will buy us some time!”  Reaching down into a bag of scuba supplies, he loaded a flare gun.  Aiming it at the black figure, he fired.  The flare flew forth at a great speed and smacked the figure right in its chest.  Once more, the fire started to rip through its body, causing roars of pain. 

Meanwhile back on the submarine, the Captain shouted.  “Helmsmen, all ahead flank, zero angle.  Do we have any diesel?”  The one ghost called out, “no sir, diesel is empty, and only 15% electrics left.”  Cursing while he walked, the Captain started to climb the ladder to the conning tower.  When he emerged, there was a bewildered looking woman in a red one-piece bathing suit staring at him, along with a girl in a risqué outfit beside her.  The submarine started to move forward, causing a wake behind of it.  Reaching for what resembled a megaphone, the Captain called into it.  “Get us some speed, we must make chase.”  A muffled sound was heard, “aye, aye, sir!” The man resolute in his task, felt a tug at his pant leg.  The hedgehog had climbed up the ladders and had the Talisman strapped around his back.   He offered a grim smile, “I know not the condition of our torpedo, nor of its effectiveness.  I hope you might know how to use that treasure, my good hedgehog.”

Samantha could not believe any of this and felt her arm being yanked. Her daughter’s eyes were burning bright, “Mom, we have to get out of here!” Turning to her daughter, “Honey, we have to help Pudgy and his friends.  What happens if that thing sinks the other boat? They will be stranded out here, which is not good at all.”  She shook her head and pulled her red hair back into a ponytail.  Then headed back to their engine and pulled the drawstring.   Making the quick trip to the helm, she went 50% throttle, and turned the wheel so the boat would begin to make its wide turn.   Aligning their boat behind the submarine, the exasperated teenage daughter was furiously working her cell phone to call anyone she could for help.  There was no signal, or one bar at best, so it was extremely hard connecting to anyone.

The captain was holding a long scope out and was taking measurements.  Then he called into the brass speaking device, “ready torpedo, range 200, angle zero.  FIRE!”  The submarine’s torpedo tube started to flood with water, causing air to rush out of the deck plating on the bow of the submarine.  Then the whoosh sound was heard, and Pudgy could barely see a trail of bubbles racing forward in the water.    The torpedo was the first of its kind and did not have the various technologies as of today.  It was basically several sticks of dynamite fused together, with a timer, and a waterproof propeller motor.   The captain shouted into the speaking device, “engines reduce speed to half.  Electrical status!”  A muffled voice, “aye sir, 5%.”   As the submarine slowed, Samantha throttled down her boat, and turned the wheel so she would come up beside of it.  She could see Pudgy sitting on the command console for the conning tower.  She waved, “HI PUDGY!”  Her bewildered daughter turned and looked to see what her mother was shouting at. 

Pudgy turned and could see his friend Samantha on a pontoon boat beside him.  She was wearing a spiffy one-piece red bathing suit.  He remembered seeing one of those in a magazine from the 50’s that Cobalt showed him.   The hedgehog waved at his friend, and then to the younger woman standing at the bow of their boat.  The brunette-haired young woman looked at him in disbelief.  The captain pointed ahead, “3…2….1…”  The torpedo was racing along underneath the water and had reached the spot just under the horse.  When the fuse was ignited, a terrific explosion erupted in all directions.  The black miasma was flung high into the sky, while the horse was ripped into shreds.  Chunks of horse started to be thrown in all directions and started landing on the bow of the submarine.  The roars of anger echoed and reverberated deep into one’s soul.   The captain cursed, “darn it!  We only got the horse!”

Pudgy was holding onto the gold talisman and ran his paws along the ancient writing.  They were carved into the gold perimeter and painted black.  There was a picture of a woman that resembled his friend Hecate’s daughter.  On the reverse of the talisman, was flat but has a strange shimmer.  Pudgy raised the Talisman up and started to study it intently.   But like when he looked through the sapphire, he started to see something.  A raven-haired woman was standing at the bow of the submarine, and when he looked forward without the golden circle, he could not see her.  Pudgy looked again, and the woman was still standing.  She resembled Hecate’s daughter, but was older.  It was when Pudgy started to realize, it was not his friend he was seeing.  It was her mother, the goddess.  “Pudgy don’t know if you hear Pudgy.  Hecate, can you help us make the shadow go away?”

The woman did not move, nor did she acknowledge the request.  She continued to look up, and while Pudgy turned, he could see the black miasma flying down directly over the submarine.  Its orange eyes were on fire and was roaring in pure rage.  There were no words, only screeches of anger.  With claws outstretched, it continued to fly towards the submarine.  The captain pointed up, “Pudgy, whatever you are going to do, do it now!”  Pudgy rubbed his paws on the talisman and started to see words.  Speaking out loud, “anoichtí pýli tis Dýsis!” Pudgy was unsure how he said it, it felt like he was not controlling his mouth.  Somehow he understood it meant open the gate of the west.”  He watched as the woman in the bow of the ship pointed at the shadowy figure. 

Samantha watched as Pudgy started to float from the platform he was on with the ghost Captain and began to glow with an unearthly silver light.  He was holding a tiny gold coin, which soon erupted with a beam of light at the figure.   The figure roared, and tried to dodge the beam, but it was too late.   The figure was engulfed in the light, and its roars of pain quickly diminished.  The darkness that had surrounded the area, started to slowly dissipate, and the sounds of nature began to fill the air once more.  The surrounding land around the lake appeared once more, with a faint mist floating on the surface.   Lizzy pointed at Pudgy, still floating over the submarine, “Mom, what’s wrong with Pudgy?”  Her mother shook her head, “I don’t know Lizzy. But whatever that was, it made the monster go away.”

From the outside, it looked like Pudgy was floating.  What was happening, was the raven-haired woman was standing midship, and holding Pudgy in her hands.  She was ancient, though still held a beauty like none other.  Her eyes were coal black and were inspecting the furry creature in her hands.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, he could not smell her, but he knew she was there. “Are you Hecate’s Daughter’s Mommy?”  The woman’s dark burgundy painted lips curled into a smile, and she nodded.  “Thank you for helping Pudgy and friends defeat monster.  Do you want your Talisman back?”  The Goddess shook her head and touched the tip of his nose with her fingertip.    “No, my quill covered friend.  This Talisman is now yours, and I will call upon you in the future.  Tell my wayward daughter hello, the next time you see her.”

The goddess set the hedgehog back down onto the console and turned to head forwards towards the bow of the ship.  As she faded from view, Pudgy was snapped back into the outside world, with the ghostly captain patting his head.   As Pudgy waved, the Captain rubbed his chin, “so that is the Goddess Hecates.”  Pudgy nodded, “she seems nice. Pudgy glad she helped us.” Pudgy saw the ghost fade away beside him and turned to look at the Gunnery Sergeant who was walking towards the front of the conning tower.  The solider waved, “Pudgy, thank you.  You put all of us finally at rest, with one last battle.”  The critter smiled, “Pudgy glad to help.  What will happen now?”  The solider reached down and gently scooped up the hedgehog in his fading hands.   With a quick toss, Pudgy was thrown over to the pontoon boat beside the submarine.  Lizzy caught Pudgy in her hands and felt the hedgehog wiggle in her grasp.

One by one, each Naval officer, Marine, and the captain appeared on the deck of the submarine.  They stood at attention and saluted Pudgy.  The hedgehog saluted back and watched as the submarine began to break apart into pieces, floating back underneath the water.  The ghosts remained on the surface for a time and started to disappear one by one.  The gunnery Sergeant was last to fade away and smiled from ear to ear at Pudgy.    The lake became quiet and serene, with a sense of peace.  Lizzy looked down at the hedgehog in her hands, “Hello, are you Pudgy?”  The hedgehog bounced, “Hi, yes I’m Pudgy!”  Samantha grinned ear to ear, “Lizzy, meet Pudgy, and yes as you can see, he is real. Now, let us go find the Waffles, I am sure they want to know what happened.”

The waffles’ pontoon boat was floating ahead of Samantha’s boat.  The husband was trying to get the engine to start.  These outboard engines on the boats were never meant for heavy usage, or war time activities.   As Samantha pulled up beside the boat, she waved. “Hello, is everything all right?”   Mrs. Waffles was looking exasperated, “no, Pope broke the engine!” Mr. Waffles laughed, and was siphoning gas out of a can, and spat out the fuel.  He reconnected the fuel line and fired up the engine.  Still spitting fuel out into the lake water, “nah, just a plugged fuel line.  Looks like some dirt in the tank.  Did we win?” The husband and wife looked over, and saw the teenage girl holding Pudgy.  Samantha smiled, “yes we did, and the ghosts have all went home to rest. “

Lizzy walked beside the port side of the pontoon boat, and gently handed Pudgy across to Mrs. Waffles.  The woman smiled, and looked down, seeing Pudgy now had a golden talisman hanging around his neck.  The coin had shrunk down to hedgehog size.  He was still wearing the space suit but was missing the tank and helmet.  “What happened to your helmet and tank Pudgy?”  The hedgehog looked sheepish, “they were on the submarine.”  The woman laughed; well you know what this means?  No more space trips, or under water adventures for Pudgy now.  Pope, can we head back to the marina?”  Her husband nodded and motioned for Samantha to follow.  He opened the throttle and started to make a wide turn to head back to the marina. 

The trip for the two boats were uneventful, and one by one they pulled up to the wide dock at the end of the pier.  The two teenage workers were standing ready to pull the pontoon boats in and help their riders disembark.  While they looked bored at the adults, Lizzy drew some attention.  She flirted with one young man and giggled when he held his hand out to help her disembark.  Samantha laughed, “oh Lizzy, we need to beat the boys off with a stick.  Oh wait, here it is….” She pointed to the spear hook clipped to the railing of the pontoon boat.  The waffles were laughing and had disembarked the boat with Pudgy as well.   And while they followed the mother and daughter up the floating aluminum pier, they reached the ramp that led up to the parking lot. 

Lizzy pointed, “hey look, they have ice cream here.”  Pudgy bounced, “yay, ice cream!”  Mrs. Waffles smiled, “I could use one myself, how about you Pope?”  The man had already walked around them and set the scuba tanks and flippers on a red painted picnic table.  He waved and watched as his wife walked up to the window. The marina did not have a great selection but had the general favorites.  There was another bored looking teenage girl with purple hair sitting at the window.  “Hello, can I get 2 drumstick cones, and an fudge swirl ice cream cup?”  The girl reached into a nearby blue bunny freezer, and pulled out the items, setting them on the counter.  “That will be nine dollars.” Mrs. Waffles pulled out from her jean shorts pocket a ten-dollar bill, and after change was made, carried back the hedgehog and items to the picnic table. 

As Pudgy was set down gently onto the picnic table, Mrs. Waffles handed her husband the ice cream cone that was wrapped in blue plastic.   She opened the ice cream cup, and set it in front of the hedgehog, and smiled when she saw him start to nibble the frozen treat.   The waffles sat across from one another, with Pudgy in the center of the table, and were soon joined by Samantha and her daughter.  A quiet sense of calm was at the table, as everyone quietly ate their sweet frozen treats.  Lizzy was the first to break the silence.  “Pudgy, Mom has told me all about you.  I didn’t think you were real though.”  Pudgy looked up from his ice cream cup and tried to talk.  His little tongue was frozen.  “Pudgy glaf meef you too.”  The humans at the table started to laugh and pet the hedgehog one by one gently.  The critter soon had his entire head into the ice cream cup, which drew smiles from Samantha and Mrs. Waffles.  As Samantha nibbled on her ice cream cone, “well, this is about par for the course for Pudgy adventures I believe.”

Pudgy looked up from his now empty ice cream cup and bounced on the table, rubbing his belly.  “Boy thaf was goof.”  Pope laughed, “Pudgy, I think your mouth is frozen.”  He looked at the woman in the red swimsuit, “I’m sorry, but who are you?”  The red-haired beauty introduced herself and her daughter to the man and gave the short version of what had happened on the water’s surface while he was diving down to the town underneath the lake.  As he nodded, Pudgy started to tell the grand tale of what happened during the dive, finding the submarine, the ghost crew’s arrival, and the trip to the surface.  Pope would fill in extra details along the way, and soon the women at the table were enraptured with the story.   The hedgehog bounced and acted out parts, with the grand conclusion being the dialogue with the Goddess.

While Pudgy was telling his grand tale, a man was standing by the order window reviewing the menu board.  He wore a black suit, though the suit coat was tossed over his left shoulder.  He was listening intently to the conversation, and discreetly was watching the table.  Stepping up to the window, he pointed at a red white and blue popsicle. “One please.” The man spoke with a thick German accent, which drew a look from Pope at the table.  The man started to turn, and his eyes began to glow orange.  His face started to contort, growing skeletal.  “Give me the talisman….”  Lizzy turned around and started to scream.  Pudgy looked up from the center of the table and stomped his foot, “NO!  Pudgy no give you Talisman.  You go away now!”  The figure started to fade away and was enveloped in a dark miasma.  Unlike before, he could not fully transform, and leapt forward at the table.   Grabbing the edge of the table, the shadowy man picked up and flung the table with its occupants out into the grassy area beside the marina building.    The scuba tank rolled on the ground, up against a porch post, with Pudgy landing hard beside it. 

As the hedgehog looked up at the dark figure, he could see the workers in the Marina hiding behind the ice cream counter window.  Pudgy sat up, and then pulled out the golden talisman.  “Goddess, Pudgy need help again.”  He pointed the coin at the partially transformed man, who started to growl in deep guttural tones.   Long gunmetal claws started to extend out of his fingers, “you know not of which you hold within your paws.  Give the Talisman to me, and I will spare you.  The Kaiser commands I bring this back to him.”  Pudgy stood defiantly, “No, Pudgy keep Talisman.  Who is Kaiser person anyway?”  The figure laughed evilly, causing the cement patio to crack below him.  “You’ve met him once before, at Warwick…. remember?”   The critter nodded, “Pudgy remembers…. anoichtí pýli tis Dýsis!”  The gold Talisman started to glow once more, and a much smaller light beam blasted forward, catching the figure in its grasp. 

Roaring in pain, the black shroud started to disappear.  The man’s features started to return to that of a human, and he landed hard onto the concrete patio.  Pudgy looked at his paws, and the fur had been burnt off, and his skin was now starting to blister. “Ow…ow…ow…” The critter mumbled as he started to calm down and could hear the groans from his friends behind him.  Turning he started to slowly move towards them, until a dark voice surrounded the area.  “Elias…you have failed me.”

By Cobalt

Cobalt is a normal guy that goes to work. Pudgy is his hedgehog friend who lives in a hobbit style home nearby, and goes on epic adventures. All Pudgy stories are copyrighted to Cobalt. Doomcock, Harvey Cthulhu, and Xanadoom is copyrighted to Overlord DVD.

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