In the time that passed after the test flight, Cobalt had wheeled the plane back into his basement. There was a delivery of the missing external fuel tanks, left on his front porch. By now, the existence of the Army jeep parked out front of his home, had resulted in a myriad of dog walkers maintaining a constant vigil outside of the home. While he worked on the external tanks, and connecting them to the plane, Washington had taken Pudgy back to his home. The MP was siting in the big room, on the banquette seat, marveling at the hedgehog’s home. Pudgy was packing his things and getting ready for the trip. Mr. Bear had stopped by, dressed in his black Kevlar outfit, as he was on patrol through the forest. Word was quickly spreading throughout the forest of Pudgy’s soon departure, and the birds were chirping excitedly in the trees above.
Once the critter was ready, Washington exited the home, and watched as the round doors closed and sealed shut. The little chimney was no longer smoking, and the barricade windows were down and locked. The front door was locked and secured, then Pudgy scampered up dressed in a mining helmet and a backpack, with little tools clipped to its exterior. “Ok, Pudgy ready!” The little hedgehog said and started to head towards the creek. The solider could not help but smile, but soon noticed two gray and fluffy bunnies hopping towards him. There was a silver fox that was running after them, and soon had reached the hedgehog. To his amazement, they all started talking to each other. It was the same conversation over and over, “where are you going, how long will you be gone, will the monsters go away?” And a variety of other woodland conversations, though they spoke amazingly fast at times, and he was missing words.
What the solider did not realize, was soon the woodland critters were all following him, and marching in step. A parade had formed, and somehow, he was the line leader. Laughing while he muttered, “what would my drill sergeant say if he saw this?” The group walked across the creek, up the hill, past the thorn bush, across the scary delivery truck road, up the hill, and through the back yards back to Cobalt’s house. The patio doors were wide open, as the man was in the process of spray painting the external fuel tanks an olive drab green color. He was wearing a respirator and waved at the approaching parade all marching behind the solider. There was a weather-beaten plastic lawn chair on the porch, which soon the tired MP was sitting in and watching the man work and the critters all wander up and look at the tanks.
Pudgy then led everyone into the basement, where everyone wanted to see the new plane. It was much bigger than the bi-wing plane he used the last time. Argente was the first to hug Pudgy tightly, she was extremely worried for her hedgehog friend. This was not like the last time, the monsters seemed more dangerous somehow. But it was hard not to be excited, as Pudgy’s excitement was infectious. Soon all the critters were bouncing excitedly and looking at the various parts while Pudgy sat in the cockpit. The cold air from outside wafted into the basement, which made Pudgy wave at Cobalt. “Pudgy have question Cobalt, does plane have heater?” The man took off the respirator, “yes, it runs from the engine Pudgy. So, while it will not be roasty toasty like your home with a full fire, but it will be ok. I see from the assembled group; I take it you all want to spend the night?” The critters bounced and nodded, which drew a laugh from the two men outside. “Ok, well Washington gets the guest bed, so I will have to get out the floor pillows.”
The tanks needed to be dried, before Cobalt could connect and fuel them, so it was time for dinner. Getting out his phone app, he pushed the Pizza button as Pudgy called it, and ordered a good meal for everyone. The solider offered to pay, but Cobalt declined by saying he was the host. Time quickly passed, and eventually everyone wound up in the living room munching on pizza. While Cobalt’s big television played, and giant tomatoes attacked a town in Los Angeles, the solider was busying eating and text messaging his superiors. Spending the night had been the order, but the free dinner was a bonus, which drew some sad replies from the other MP who had visited the last time. Dinner concluded, and soon the critters had set up a board game and were playing on the floor.
This gave Cobalt time to clean up, though he kept the food out and accessible by everyone. He went downstairs to get the fuel tanks and connect them to the plane’s wings. After doing a series of checks, both electrical and mechanical, he locked the basement doors. Turning the lights off, the man headed back upstairs. The MP was fast asleep in the recliner with his feet kicked up. There was a gray and fluffy bunny curled up on his lap, sleeping also. The man chuckled and watched as one by one the little critters started to fall asleep. So, realizing it was bedtime, he set up the pillows, and started to gently move the animals to their respective places. This also woke up Washington, who smiled at the bunny being removed from his lap. The food was put away in the fridge, and the front door locked. The two men headed upstairs, and the solider was shown to the guest room.
Thankfully, Cobalt had some trial size stuff, so he had things for his solider guest. Cobalt headed to his bedroom, “I’m thinking we should get up at about 6. Breakfast, preflight check, and fueling, would mean roughly an 8 am start time for the flight?” The solider nodded, “sounds good to me, I will notify my superiors. Thank you for letting me stay here tonight, and for dinner.” Cobalt nodded, “sure, no problem. Thank you for helping,” The two men conducted their pre-bedtime business separately, and then both headed to their respective beds to sleep. Dreamless deep sleep was the order of business at night, though as cell phone alarms started to go off to wake the humans, Washington found the bunnies had wandered up and were curled around him sleeping. Cobalt had Pudgy and Argente in his bed, sleeping on top of him, between the blankets and comforter.
In time, after morning business concluded, everyone was downstairs in the basement as Cobalt wheeled out the plane into the back yard. The solider was on the phone, calling in the expected flight plan, and why Pudgy was heading to New Jersey. Argente was watching Cobalt use a tiny funnel and filling the gas tanks one by one. The plane had 5 times the fuel capacity as the bi-wing plane, which greatly increased its range. The silver fox also noticed Mr. Bear and Mr. Dinosaur walking up out of the forest, across the road, up the hill, and through the back yards. Once fueling was done, Cobalt headed back into the basement, and came out with a red box. Opening a compartment on each wing, he started to feed a belt of ammunition into each wing. The solider immediately started to video call the arming of the plane and provided an explanation. The compartments were secured, and the plane was ready to go.
Hugs were given by all Pudgy’s friends, with words of encouragement and concern. The larger animals smiled and were amazed at the new plane. Cobalt laughed and picked up Pudgy the wrong way, which drew a look from the solider. “This is the reason why we gently scoop up Pudgy,” Cobalt said while Pudgy’s bowels emptied in a tiny stream over the evergreen bushes. The hedgehog burped and wiggled as he was set back down onto the ground. “Yes, you do not pick up Pudgy that way!” Laughter ensued throughout the group, and more hugs. Mr. Bear patted the hedgehog gently on his head, before watching him climb into the plane. Both humans were checking the plane and watching as the hedgehog did the preflight checklist. There was a tiny instruction manual in the plane, along with his possessions and supplies. The critters and Cobalt knew, but the solider did not, that most likely this trip would lead somewhere else.
“Ok Pudgy, fire her up!” The hedgehog nodded, and then turned on the engine. The propellor blade started to turn, as the engine cranked over. In a short time, the plane was ready. After another round of goodbyes, Pudgy turned the crank and closed the canopy. Releasing the rear wheel lock, the plan started to pull forward. Bouncing slightly in the back yards, the plane quickly gained speed, and took off into the air. Mr. Bear watched as the landing gear pulled up and entered the plane, being covered by exterior panels. Mr. Dino blinked, “man … Cobalt, that plane is fast!” The assembled group nodded, noticing the plane quickly disappearing to the eastern skies as it continued to ascend. Cobalt made the sign of the cross, “God, if you’re listening, please protect and watch over Pudgy.” Washington nodded, “Amen to that.”
Meanwhile Pudgy was excitedly wiggling in his plane. The plane was performing exceptionally well, and he was moving higher and higher into the skies. There was a beeping noise that would occur every so often, which was the plane’s transponder. This meant that his plane was now visible on a variety of air systems, and he could be tracked. There was an air force radio that had been wired in and turned on. There was chatter amongst the air traffic controllers, especially as the new signal contact came online. But the initial blitz of conversations settled down, and the little airplane was speeding quickly over the Pennsylvania landscape below. Winter was in full effect, and the trees were bare, except the silent pine trees that spread out throughout the land. Some areas were still snow covered, while others were a mix of brown and pale green.
Settling in, Pudgy noticed something that resembled his cell phone, and turning it on, there was a screen showing a GPS map. MP Washington had helped Cobalt wire the air force components into the plane and move certain parts around to accommodate the tight interior conditions of the plane’s cockpit. Hours passed, and with the sun starting to set in the distance, Pudgy was passing over the city of New Hope and the Delaware river. He had crossed into the state of New Jersey, Which meant that he was quickly approaching his friend Brenda’s home. And in a matter of minutes, with the plane starting to descend, he approached Brenda’s home. Cobalt had printed out an aerial map, as well as her address, so with the assistance of the GPS, the tiny plane continued to land. The air traffic controllers started to chatter again, as the tiny blip of their screens was landing in an area with no airport nearby.
Pudgy’s plane continued to descend and was skimming the tops of the trees. Curious neighbors all stared from their porches and pointed at the tiny plane coming in for a landing. The street where his friend lived, thankfully was empty, so Pudgy aimed there to land the plane. Foot by foot, the plane continued its decent, and soon had landed with a couple of bounces. Keeping the engine throttled up, the plane was taxiing up the street, to reach the pale-yellow home with a nice covered front porch where Brenda lived. The woman was nervously pacing, tying her long black hair behind her head in a ponytail, when she saw Pudgy land. She stared in amazement while waving and watching Pudgy turn the plane to pull up into her driveway beside the parked car. The engine turned off, and soon the plane’s propeller stopped spinning. The tiny canopy rolled back, and soon the hedgehog was waving at her.
Walking quickly up to the plane, she knelt beside it and patted Pudgy on top of his head. “Oh Pudgy, I was starting to worry. I am glad you got here though; it gets dark quickly around here. We have to get the plane inside the garage quick before the neighbor kids mess with it.” The woman stood up and headed over to her car door. Opening it, she reached inside and pushed a button the visor. The garage door started to open, and thankfully it was wide enough to accommodate the plane. Brenda gently grasped the tail of the plane and pushed the plane into the garage. Once it was completely inside, she reached into her pocket to lock the car doors with her key fob. Then heading over to the wall mounted button, she pressed it to start to shut the garage door. Once the door was down, she headed back to the plane and noticed that Pudgy had turned off all the electrical components. He was looking up at her and waving.
Gently scooping him up from the cockpit of the plane, she quickly pulled the hedgehog up and began to hug him. She walked inside of her home, opening and closing several doors, and was smiling ear to ear. “I was hoping one day you would come back. Though, I hoped no more ghosts or monsters. Now, tell me everything that has happened since you were last here.” Pudgy then began his grand tale, while his hostess went to get drinks and cookies. She returned and was amazed at everything that had happened to this point. In time they were joined by a white cat, that had different spots of colors over its white base coat fur. The colored spots were brown, orange, and black. Brenda petted her cat, “this is Patches.” The hedgehog waved, and soon the two animals were talking to each other. Brenda could not understand, so Pudgy translated when she asked.
As Pudgy nibbled a sugar cookie, Brenda nodded while looking at her cell phone. “Pudgy, our appointment with Rabbi Elazar, is tomorrow evening around 5 pm. Unlike Cobalt, I can not work from home, so I must head to the office. I will be back, and then we can go to the temple. The Rabbi is quite interested in meeting you. So, you and Patches will have to entertain each other while I am gone. Please do not take her on an adventure in your plane,” the woman laughed. Pudgy nodded and bounced beside Patches and Brenda on her couch. The hedgehog told stories, and hugged Brenda and Patches the cat. The woman put on silly movies on television and laughed while Pudgy and Patches were having quite a conversation. The cat was excitedly meowing, and her tail had curled around the hedgehog.
After a couple of hours, Brenda informed her guest that she had to go to sleep. Pudgy waved, and watched as she headed through her living room, to check the various doors and windows. After ensuring things were secure, she headed upstairs to her bedroom. Pudgy and Patches were under a crocheted white blanket, and soon fell fast asleep. The night was peaceful, with all occupants of the home having dreamless sleep. In the morning, their hostess woke up, got dressed, and headed to work in her scrubs. Cobalt tried to tell Pudgy once what she did, but he could not understand exactly why she put the vacuum cleaner in people’s mouths?
Patches was happy that she had someone to play with and showed Pudgy all sorts of neat places to explore within the home. There was a crafting room, which was stinky due to glue drying, and neat comic books all over the floor. There was a special pile in the corner which was the cat’s pile, and she could shred the comics. The shredded paper was used in a different craft, and her job was to make the paper inserts. Pudgy nodded, and noticed the comics were of poor quality, so it made sense why this pile could be wrecked. The cat was much for efficient at shredding the paper, but Pudgy helped too, he was good at getting the staples out of the spines. Hours passed, and soon the front door opened with Brenda calling out. “Pudgy, Patches, I’m home! I need to get changed and will be back downstairs in a moment.”
In a couple of minutes, Brenda returned downstairs, having changed her clothes. She was dressed in a nice pair of black slacks, black flats, and a red blouse. While she knew she did not need to get dressed up, it would present a better image to the Rabbi if she was dressed nicely. Heading back into her craft room, she saw Pudgy helping Patches shred paper. “Oh, I see Patches put you to work Pudgy.” The woman smiled and motioned for Pudgy to come over. The hedgehog nodded, and scampered up to her foot, “Oh boy, Brenda looks pretty!” The woman giggled, and then knelt to gently scoop up the hedgehog into her hands. “Why thank you Pudgy, now let us get you cleaned up. Our appointment is in an hour,” she said while standing up and walking over to the kitchen sink. The hedgehog was covered in newsprint ink and needed a quick cleaning.
She set Pudgy into the sink, and turned on the water, setting its temperature to warm. She watched as Pudgy reached out, and started washing his paws, then the rest of himself. Once he motioned that he was done, Brenda turned off the water, and gently dried him off with a clean dish towel. She noticed the white splotches throughout his fur, and the silver quills that were dotting throughout his back. She frowned, “Pudgy, what is wrong? You were not like this the last time you were here.” Pudgy looked up at her, “Pudgy think magic talisman doing it. Cobalt tell Pudgy have to be careful,” the hedgehog said while nodding. Brenda smiled weakly and scooped him back up into her hands. She then hugged him gently, “I hope when this is all over, you get a nice long rest. You are pushing yourself too much, and I’m concerned now.”
The woman walked through her home, and then picked up her black purse from the couch. “Patches, I will be back with Pudgy later. We have an appointment,” she called out and watched as the cat peeked around the corner of the wall that was in the kitchen. The woman exited her home and secured the door behind her. Carrying her purse in one hand, and Pudgy in the other, she deftly was able to open the door to her car and get into driver’s seat. While she put on her seat belt, she started the car’s engine. Pudgy sat on the passenger seat next to the purse and looked up at her wiggling his nose. She giggled at him, and then put the car into reverse. Backing out of the driveway, she put the car into drive, and then the gray car drove through a genuinely nice neighborhood. The hedgehog was amazed when in less than half an hour, they were pulling into a driveway next to a light brown brick building.
Brenda put the car into park and turned off the engine. Then she reached past Pudgy and into her purse to get out a tube of lipstick. She put down her visor to look in the mirror, to touch up her lips with a tasteful bit of a dark red color. After she was satisfied, she closed the tube, and placed it back into her purse. “Pudgy, we’re going to meet the Rabbi. Be respectful, like you would with a priest. I know you are Christian because Cobalt celebrates Christmas. Judaism is different then Christianity,” The woman said with a smile and matter of fact tone. Pudgy nods, “ok, Pudgy be good.” The hedgehog soon found himself picked up by Brenda, and then quickly out of the car and being carried towards the building. There were two entrances, one to the place where the services were held, and the other was towards an administration office.
Brenda walked past a sign that pointed to the temple office and turned the corner to walk up a series of concrete steps. Thick dark wooden doors with a center pane of smoky glass were at the front entranceway, and Pudgy watches as his friend pulled on a square door handle to open the door. They headed inside, while a rush of cold air swept in behind them while the door swung shut. Inside the temple offices, it was a neutral palette of pale white or blue walls, and a variety of nice murals featuring scenes from the bible. Pudgy did notice, there were no crucifixes anywhere. There were stars, which Cobalt had explained prior to the trip, that the temples would be decorated much differently than the church. Pudgy watched as they headed towards a reception desk, with a blonde-haired older woman dressed in a white blouse look up.
Pudgy was set onto the counter and waved at the receptionist. “Hello, Pudgy and Brenda are here to see Mr. Rabbi!” The hedgehog bounced happily, which drew a shocked look from the woman. Brenda giggled, “Pudgy is quite excited, he never has been to a temple before. Our meeting is at 5 pm, with Rabbi Elazar?” The astonished woman nodded with her mouth agape and pointed to the office door of the Rabbi. “He is expecting you Brenda, though I do not believe he will be expecting your hedgehog friend.” Brenda scooped up her hedgehog friend, and then carried him to the office of the Rabbi. There was a pale oak door, with a name plate indicating this was the Rabbi’s office. As Brenda opened the door, she entered slowly. An older voice called out, “please enter, do not be shy!”
Pudgy watched as a desk started to appear, covered in a variety of papers and books. There was an older man, with a snow-white beard sitting behind the desk. He wore a black coat, with a white shirt underneath, and a gray printed tie. He had a flat black hat on, and a pair of grey glasses sitting on the tip of his nose. Brenda smiled, “thank you Rabbi Elazar for agreeing to meet with us.” The rabbi looked at the woman with a smile, and then at the hedgehog in her hands. “Child, there is a no pet policy within the temple. I will have to ask you to take your, friend outside.” Pudgy waved, “Hello Mister Rabbi!” When the critter talked, the Rabbi blinked, “did he just speak?” Brenda nodded, “this is Pudgy, and we have a big problem, that you may be able to help us with. I can explain, but it would be much easier for Pudgy to.” The astonished holy man nodded and motioned with his hand. “Please have a seat and set Pudgy on my desk.” Brenda did as she was asked, sitting down into a padded chair in front of the desk. It was a heavy office executive style desk, with metal overheard compartments. A calendar in Hebrew was stuck to a corkboard, and books were everywhere.
Pudgy bounced on the desk and scampered up to the Rabbi. Waving, “my name is Pudgy,” he said excitedly. The Rabbi could not help but smile, and gently petted the critter. His quills were so soft, though he had a strange coloration throughout his body. There were white and gray splotches, and his quills were different colors as well. The critter even had a little brown vest on with pockets, which seemingly were full of tiny things. “Pudgy, you have been through many things. Please, start from the beginning, so I may understand fully your problem.” Pudgy started his grand tale from start to finish, with the Rabbi listening and writing notes. There were parts of the story which had to be explained, so Pudgy acted our and provided different scenes. The hedgehog had grand tales of adventure, magic, monsters, and good friends. However, when he got to the part in Great Britain about the shadow monsters, the Rabbi leaned forward and started to focus.
The continued attacks by the monsters in Pudgy’s forest, the goddess talisman, as well as the ghost soldiers in Missouri and Texas made the man’s mouth drop open. Upon the rescue mission to Mt. Rainier completing, it was then when Pudgy’s description of the Kaiser, drew a frown. Pudgy finished up the story with what happened recently, and then watches as all color drain from the Rabbi’s face. Brenda looked up at the man, “I know that is a lot to take in. I know I can not help with battling the monster, but Rabbi Elazar, they attacked me at my home. These creatures have attacked all over the world,” she said with a frown. The man rubbed his white beard, “I appreciate the story and explanations, but I am at a loss as how I could help?”
Pudgy waved at the man to get his attention, “Pudgy friend Cobalt tell Pudgy to ask you questions. There was a former Rabbi, he came over from Europe during war. Did you know him?” The Rabbi nodded, “yes, that was Rabbi Frederick. He was in Poland during the invasion by German forces.” Brenda frowned, “oh my god, was he at Auschwitz?” The Rabbi nodded, “he was freed by Russian soldiers when they happened upon the camps.” Pudgy wiggled his nose, “what is Auschwitz?” The Rabbi frowned, “it was a terrible place, full of unnecessary pain and suffering. The Germans rounded up all the Jewish people, dissidents, and anyone else that did not conform to the ideal definition of a German citizen. They tortured the prisoners, forced them to work even when they were physically not able to, starved them, and when they served no useful purpose: incinerated them alive.”
The hedgehog started crying, and Brenda sniffled as well. The room filled with a sense of dread and sadness. Pudgy sniffed his nose, “Cobalt says…” But the hedgehog could not speak, as he was wailing. The Rabbi patted him on his head, “shh, calm yourself. What did you friend say?” The hedgehog looked up at the Rabbi through his fingers, “Cobalt said the funny numbers on the Kaiser arm means something.” The man’s blue eyes locked onto Pudgy, “did you say numbers? What were they?” The hedgehog started to repeat the numbers he remembered. The man started taking notes, and then requested Pudgy repeat all of the things that the Kaiser said.” The little hedgehog between crying sobs, told the man everything he needed to know. Then the room grew very silent, save for the occasional sniffle from the critter.
Rabbi Elazar looked at Pudgy then Brenda, “Rabbi Frederick as I explained earlier, was in Poland. He left certain effects for safe keeping here. Due to their age, we have them sealed in airtight containers and in cold storage. But we took pictures and digitized them into our computers.” The Rabbi turned and started to access a series of folders on his computer’s desktop. “Our German … friends…kept meticulous records. I have been informed by many conferences, there is a much fuller account of the prisoner numbers at a temple museum located in Mechelen, Belgium. The numbers were tattooed on the wrists or forearms of the prisoners in the concentration camps and corresponded to a region. I am checking …” the man trailed off, while adjusting his glasses. “Hmm, I see.” Pudgy looked up at the man and wiggled his nose, rubbing his eyes with the back of his paws.
Brenda looked at Pudgy, then the Rabbi, “Rabbi Elazar, what is it?” The man was still working on his computer terminal, “I think I have a lead for you. Rabbi Frederick mentioned in his diary about the camps. Mechelen was a first deportation site, where the prisoners were taken, and then shipped out on overloaded train cars. The trains, that the Kaiser spoke of, must be what he is referring to. I suspect that whatever this foul creature is planning, involves the rail lines throughout the former Nazi occupied lands. I met the Rabbi in Mechelen Temple at a conference a year ago, and can call him if you would like?” Pudgy bounced happily, and then looked at Brenda, “Pudgy can use plane to get to Belgium!” The Rabbi blinked, “did you say a plane?”
Before Brenda could answer, there was a scream from out in the lobby. The Rabbi looked up, “what is going on out there?” Brenda stood up, and then reached for the door handle to the office. As she opened the door, a shadowy tendril started to appear, and then the door was forced open roughly. Brenda was flung across the office and landed hard in a corner on top of a potted plant. Pudgy wiggled his nose, and started to puff up a bit, and his quills started to become prickly. The shadow creature would not hurt his friend or the Rabbi. Pudgy shouted, “you go away monster!” The shadowy creature’s body swirled of black miasma like a tornado. The only humanoid feature was a set of blood red eyes that glowed from within the maelstrom. A clawed hand pointed at the Rabbi, “he will not help you, Pudgy. It is too late to stop the Kaiser. The pilot has been lit, and the nonbelievers will burn once more.”
The Rabbi stood up, “you will leave this place at once!” Pudgy nodded, “you heard Mister Rabbi, you go now!” The hedgehog took out his talisman, and a light beam fired out of it. The beam struck the monster in its center, causing a demonic roar of pain as it reeled back. The man realizing that the story the hedgehog told him was true, reached down and gently scooped up Pudgy into his hands. Speaking in Hebrew, he started a blessing against all forms of evil. Much to the surprise of both, the light beam narrowed into a tight beam of golden light. It would seem, that Pudgy had found a way to increase the talisman’s power.
As the man walked forward hesitantly, with the hedgehog and his magic talisman, they reached the lobby. The creature was howling in pain and speaking in a demonic language. The receptionist was hiding underneath her desk, but she did not fit, so her rear end was sticking out. Brenda had recovered, and ran out from the office, “Rabbi Elazar, what should I do?” The holy man nodded, “get around the monster, and open the door, we will force it outside!” The Rabbi watched as Pudgy’s quills started to turn silver again, and almost glowed. The man knew that the hedgehog could only keep this up for so long, before something bad might happen. Reaching into his coat pocket, he pulled out a silver coin. It was a Jewish holy medallion, and while he continued to chant in Hebrew, he positioned the coin in front of the golden light that was being emitted from the talisman.
Brenda had snuck around to get to the doors, and opened both sides, so they would swing inwards. With the entrance way fully open, she ducked out of the way, watching her companions. “Ready,” she called out. To the amazement of Pudgy, the golden light quickly transformed the coin. The holy man watched as it shrunk down to hedgehog size, and with the coin in his left paw and the talisman in his right, two beams of light shot out: one golden, and one white. Each beam struck the blood red eyes of the creature and flung it outside into the snow-covered front yard. Pudgy grimaced, “you go away forever monster!” The beams widened from tiny beams to wide angle, and the shadowy monster was obliterated.
The Rabbi smirked, “next time, make an appointment!” He nodded to Brenda, who laughed and shut the front set of doors. She ran quickly up to the Rabbi and looked at Pudgy in his hands. The tiny hedgehog was smoking slightly, and a white patch was expanding throughout his body. “Oh no Pudgy, you over did it!” The man nodded, “As I expected, this talisman is extracting a price each time he uses it. The holy coin I gave him increased its effectiveness, but also sped up the process that is occurring. Brenda, come with Pudgy and I.” The woman nodded, and followed the holy man through the temple offices, to a staircase. As they descended, the short set of stairs, they reached the doors to the sanctuary. Brenda Paused, “Rabbi Elazar, what do you think the Kaiser is?”
The man nodded, as he opened the glass door to the sanctuary. “I think what we are dealing with is a demon. And if my assumption is correct, the Rabbi of Mechelen will be able to help our quill covered friend here. The holocaust museum has many records, but also specifically assist in his eventual defeat.” The rabbi stopped in front of a glass case, which held a large scroll inside a red velvet bag. Gold embossed Hebrew characters were stitched into the fabric. “Pudgy, this is the Torah.” Pudgy looked up at the Rabbi, “is that like the Bible?” The rabbi smirked, “well the Bible came from our Torah, but for ease of explanation, yes, it is similar. It is a collection of our five most sacred books. The Bareshit, or book of Genesis. That described the creation of our world. The Shemot, or book of Exodus, which describes what happened when Moses led our people from the enslavement of Egypt. The next book is Vayikra, or book of Leviticus. The Bemidbar, or book of numbers as some call it. And finally, the Devarim, or the book of Deuteronomy, comprise the main parts of our Torah. Each temple has its own Torah, and ours was carried from the Nazi occupied lands of Germany to this temple here.”
Brenda nodded, remembering what she was taught many years ago. She could tell Pudgy was listening but becoming confused. The hedgehog was looking up at the Rabbi as he stood in front of the glass case. The holy man turned to face Brenda, “I gave Pudgy a silver coin that represented the Vayikra.” The woman nodded, “if I remember correctly, that was instructions on how to use the Tabernacle?” The Rabbi nodded, “I see you remembered. The coin was from Rabbi Frederick’s personal effects. Something he said to me years ago, now makes sense. He said that this was one of 5 coins, that the Rabbis who were taken to Auschwitz held. The coins held a power that he did not understand. Now I understand what the coins do, but I never thought it needed a hedgehog from Pennsylvania to activate them.”
The two humans laughed, and Pudgy wiggled in the man’s hands and looked up at him. The Rabbi smiled, “my counterpart in Mechelen has the Bamidbar coin. I will call him and let him know what is going on. Pudgy, this plane of yours, can it make it to Belgium?” The hedgehog nodded, “Cobalt built Pudgy wonderful plane. Talisman will let Pudgy make gas last longer.” The man nodded, “I see, then we may have a chance at stopping this madness. I do not expect you to find all 5 coins, as some have been lost to the ravages of time and war. Also, the Genesis coin is in Tel Aviv, so the chances of obtaining that one is impossible. I wish you luck, Pudgy Hedgehog. If you are successful, you have to let us know here.” The Rabbi gently handed Pudgy over to Brenda, who smiled at the holy man. Pudgy waved, “bye Mr. Rabbi, thank you for helping Pudgy and Brenda!” The man smiled and waved and watched as Brenda turned to head through the doors to the stairs. He sighed and looked at the glass case that held the Torah. “I fear it is happening again,” The holy man said as Brenda disappeared up the stairs.
Brenda walked up the stairs and through the lobby, past the receptionist’s desk. Pudgy waved, and the blonde-haired woman waved back. Brenda exited the temple offices and descended the stairs to head out to the parking lot where her car was parked. It was getting very cold out, and she regretted not bringing a jacket with her. But in a short series of steps, they were in her car, and the engine fired up. The heater began to warm the vehicle’s interior, with Brenda looking down at Pudgy. He was starting to yawn, which meant it would be time for dinner and bed soon for her little friend. She backed out of the parking spot, and then drove her car back to her home. Distance wise, the temple was close to her home, but traffic was terrible. She hit every red light, plus some crazy person was riding a motorcycle in the cold, and it kept stalling at every stop sign.
It took about an hour this time to get back to her home, and as she pulled the car into her driveway, she noticed Pudgy was being incredibly quiet. He was not asleep, but the funny gray coloration had spread throughout his body. Brenda frowned, and gently petted him while speaking, “Pudgy … I think this is hurting you. You should not use the talisman anymore.” The hedgehog wiggled under her fingers, “Pudgy have to stop Kaiser, no one is safe till that happens. Pudgy feel ok, but Pudgy is being careful when using it. Pudgy need cookie,” he trailed off. The woman smiled, and retrieved her purse and hedgehog friend, and exited her car. With a beep from the horn as the doors were locked, she walked up the steps to her front porch, and quickly entered her home.
Patches was curled up on the couch and looked at Pudgy in her hands. Brenda sat down the hedgehog on the couch beside Patches, and then headed to the kitchen. The cat was genuinely concerned and started meowing in a worried tone. Pudgy wiggled his nose and chatted with his new feline friend, until Brenda returned. She brought a sandwich, and some celery sticks for herself on a dish, and a separate dish of cat food for Patches, and a tiny dish of cheese and a cookie for Pudgy. Setting out the various plates, all three began to eat while the television played the local news. Just like Pennsylvania, the news had the same format: fire, weather, fire, car accident, shooting, Washington stuff, weather, sports, weather, lottery, and weather again. “Why do they show weather so much?” Pudgy asked while nibbling on a piece of cheddar. Brenda laughed, “I think it’s federal law: weather must be 3 to 6 times per hour.”
After the food was eaten, Brenda sat Pudgy on her shoulder, and then started a video call with Cobalt. The man answered and waved back and was quickly filled in on everything that had happened. The call grew quiet for a moment, and then without warning, a dark-skinned man with a piercing set of hazel eyes appeared on the call. Pudgy waved, “Hello MP Washington!” The solider had still not left Cobalt’s house and wanted to speak. Pudgy explained to a confused Brenda why a solider was at Cobalt’s house, which drew an astonished look from her. The solider spoke, “Pudgy, this was supposed to be a fly to New Jersey and back mission. Where are you going now?” The hedgehog nodded, “Pudgy need to go to Mechelen Belgium, there is another Rabbi that can help.” Cobalt spoke loudly in the background, “Pudgy, you do not have the fuel reserves to make it that far. Even with the Goddess magic, the closes you can hit is Great Britain. I will let Purple Valkyrie know; you are heading her way.”
The solider nodded, “I will inform my superiors, to see if they will authorize the other component.” The phone was returned to Cobalt, who smiled and spoke. “Pudgy, I need you to be careful. From what you described; the shade monsters are growing more desperate. They will become increasingly dangerous,” he trailed off. Brenda nodded, “well Pudgy is definitely spending the night here with me, and then a good breakfast, and a refueling before he leaves my house tomorrow.” The man on the other end of the phone, “I concur, thank you very much for helping Brenda. Also, do not be surprised if the Air Force shows up tomorrow at your house. I suggest donuts, they always help.” The two laughed on the phone, as the call ended.
Pudgy was curled up in her lap and watching the television. She gently petted him, feeling his quills between her fingers. He was so soft, and warm. The discoloration had ceased spreading throughout his body, which was a minor good, but still of concern to her. Tonight, she would let him rest, and no playing with Patches. Her cat was curled up beside her, with her head on Brenda’s leg, watching the hedgehog swiftly fall asleep. Soon, Brenda found her eyes growing heavy. Realizing she would never make it upstairs, she got out the crocheted blanket, and wrapped herself, Pudgy, and Patches up in it. In little to no time at all, Brenda was fast asleep. Everyone dreamt of pleasant things, in a deep uninterrupted sleep, while the television murmured in the background.
One reply on “Land of Sorrow: Chapter 4: Rabbi”
I really liked Patches & Rabbi Elazar. i think it’s wonderful how you have different people of faith help out Pudgy.