Land of Sorrow: Chapter 14: Easter

When Brenda woke up, she found herself still on the couch with Pudgy and Patches curled up around her.  The woman giggled a bit as she stirred awake, and rubbed the back of her neck.  “I always get a kink in my neck when i sleep on the couch.”  Turning her head, she looked around the room, while her neck went back into place with an occasional cracking noise.  “Pudgy, Patches, you awake too?”  The critters looked up at her and started to bounce happily on each side of her hips.  Raising her arms over her head, Brenda stretched and started to stand up.  She walked slowly around the couch, and then towards her kitchen.  Yawning loudly, the woman saw that her round wall clock was reading 5 pm.  “My word, we slept almost 6 hours.”  

The woman turned to her refrigerator, and got out some cream cheese in a little tub with a cow on it.  She also grabbed a jar of mixed fruit preserves, and bagels.  After setting the various foods on the kitchen table, Brenda pulled open her drawer to grab a couple of knives.  After reaching into the upper cabinet, the woman got out a tin of cat food for her cat Patches.  After opening the can, and placing its contents into a bowl, the bow was set down on the floor next to the table.  Pudgy scampered over to the kitchen table, watching his human friend turn to wash her hands in the sink.  Patches passed the hedgehog, and headed over to her bowl to start eating.   Realizing that his food was on top of the table, the little  hedgehog started to climb up the chair leg.  After a bit of a  struggle, he managed to reach the seat of the chair.  Thankfully looking first before sitting down, Brenda giggled while scooping him up.  

Brenda pulled out the chair, and sat down at the table, while placing her hedgehog friend on the tabletop.  Pulling her long brown hair back behind her shoulders, she smiled at Pudgy.  Realizing that a full bagel was most likely going to be difficult for her friend, the woman sliced the bagel into pieces, before covering them with cream cheese and fruit.  Setting out some pieces on a plate, she watched as the hedgehog sniffed at the food, and then started to hungrily eat.  Smiling, she made herself a bagel as well.  With everyone happily munching away, the room was very quiet, save for some buzzing in Brenda’s purse on the table.  Reaching over, she pulled out her cell phone from inside.  “Hmm, looks like I received a call from Cobalt.  Also from the USAF, lets see what they want?”  Pressing the speakerphone button, the voice mail messages started to play.  

“Hi Brenda, this is Cobalt.  Pudgy left Purple’s house a couple of days ago, and I was wondering if he stopped by.  The air force said they lost his transponder somewhere over New Jersey.  Please call me when you get this,” the man said before the message ended.  The next message loaded up, “Hello Brenda, this is Officer Washington, with the Military Police.  We will be stopping by your home in a couple of hours.  We believe Pudgy may have arrived there.”  The second message ended, and Brenda took another bite of her bagel.  Before she could finish chewing, the doorbell rang.  Pudgy looked up from his meal, and turned towards the living room.  “One moment Pudgy,” The woman said, while pushing her chair back to stand up from the table.  

Brenda swallowed, and then walked over to her front door.  There was a burly dark skinned man, wearing combat fatigues on her front porch.  As she unlocked the door, and opened it, the man smiled at her.  He had dark sunglasses on, and had MP badges and insignia on his uniform.  “Hello officer Washington?”  The man nodded, and spotted Pudgy on the kitchen table.  “I see Pudgy did arrive here, may I come in please?”  Brenda smiled, “yes, most certainly.  We all took a long nap, and were having a light supper.”  The soldier entered her home, and after he had taken a few steps into her living room, Brenda shut the door.  She followed the man as he headed into the kitchen, and then motioned for him to take a seat.  Brenda had left the coffee pot turned on, so the pot was still hot.  “Would you like some coffee?”  

The soldier nodded as he pulled out a chair, and sat down opposite from herself.  Pudgy was bandaged all over, and was devouring bagel pieces.  The little hedgehog had seen some action, which both confused and amused the man.   Brenda handed him a cup of coffee in a lilac colored mug shaped like a kitty cat.  Brenda had the pink cat mug, so at least she didn’t give him the ultra girly one.  Shaking his head, MP Washington took a sip of the coffee.  “Pudgy, I see you have been busy?” The officer said, which caused the hedgehog to turn and wave at him.  After finishing chewing, and swallowing, the little hedgehog spoke.  “Hello MP Washington, yes Pudgy was very busy in Europe. But Pudgy saved the day, and stopped the Kaiser.  All the monsters are gone now,” the hedgehog said while nodding.

Brenda sat down with her coffee, and took a sip, “would you like a bagel?”  The officer shook his head “no thank you, ma’am.  While I am very curious as to what happened, sadly I must inform you that Pudgy can not stay here tonight.”  The woman frowned, “and why not?”  The officer chuckled, “orders, my superiors have instructed me to drive him back to Pennsylvania.”  The woman frowned, “can we at least finish our meal first?”  The soldier nodded, and took a sip from his delightful lilac kitty cat mug.  Pudgy was not paying attention to them, and was still eating.  The hedgehog was famished from his long trip, plus he needed the calories so he could heal from his injuries.  The two humans watched the little critter, and could not help but smile softly at times.

Pudgy finished his meal, and sat up rubbing his belly gently. “Mmm, that was so good!  Thank you Brenda,” the little critter exclaimed.  The woman smiled, “you are very welcome Pudgy.  I am glad you came back to visit me.  Though, the next time, I want you to promise me that you will come back uninjured!”  The little hedgehog nodded, and soon found himself being scooped up.  His friend began to hug him softly, “Pudgy, you have to go now.  I was hoping to get more time, but the army here needs you.”  The MP smirked while setting down his empty coffee cup, “actually, I’m with the Air Force.”  Brenda looked at him and stuck her tongue out, and then returned to hugging Pudgy.  The little critter hugged back, before being set down on the ground.  Patches padded up to the hedgehog, and started to hug him as well.  The cat meowed sadly, because she was all set for fun things tonight.    

After many more hugs by both Patches and Brenda, Pudgy was hesitantly handed over to the soldier.  The MP smiled, and stood up, while carefully holding the hedgehog in his hands. As the man walked through the home, Brenda followed, and opened the door for him.  “Goodbye Pudgy, I will let Cobalt know you stopped by, and will be heading back with MP Washington.”  Brenda watched as Pudgy peeked around the soldier at her, and waved at her while he was being carried.  It was a short distance to the driveway, which had two parked vehicles.  Brenda’s normal gray car, and an olive green Army Jeep with a tattered beige canvas top. MP Washington opened the driver’s side door, and started to enter the vehicle.  Once he was in, and shut the door, the hedgehog appeared on the dashboard.  Pudgy was still waving at Brenda, though now doing so through the front windshield.  The vehicle’s engine fired up, and backed out of the driveway.  The soldier waved at Brenda, put the vehicle into drive, and headed off down the street.

Pudgy was a bit sad, he was looking forward to an evening with Brenda and Patches.  But at the same time, he realized that it was only a matter of time until the Air Force was going to come.  The officer reached out with his right hand, and helped Pudgy into the passenger seat.  The little hedgehog held onto the man’s thumb, while being placed into the torn up and duct taped together passenger seat.  This Jeep was not as nice as Cobalt’s vehicle, but it was much faster than walking.  Pudgy looked up at the man, and then turned to look out the window of his door.  The trees were passing by quickly, while signs mentioned how to get to a highway.  The hedgehog also watched as the soldier adjusted some dials on a radio.  Static filled the vehicle’s interior, until the channel was dialed on, and a black coiled corded microphone was placed on the seat in front of the critter.  

A familiar male voice called out over the radio’s speaker, “hello Pudgy, this is Colonel Jackowski.  Welcome back to the United States, over.”  Pudgy bounced happily and pushed the transmit button, “hello sir!  Pudgy, very glad to be back as well, over.” The  hedgehog released the transmit button, and watched as MP Washington picked up the microphone, “Sir, this is Washington.  Proceeding to Cobalt’s house as ordered, should arrive in 5 hours, over.”  The microphone was placed back on the seat in front of Pudgy.  The colonel spoke more, “Well then, we have time for Pudgy to inform us as to what happened.  While I would prefer a face to face meeting, sadly this is the best option for right now.  Now, will you please go ahead with your report, over?”  The hedgehog began his grand tale, of everything that had happened from the point of his story starting with the aircraft carrier Nimitz.  The story was mundane at first, with the flight from the carrier to Ireland and then Great Britain.  The two men laughed at Pudgy trying to imitate the British accents, and how Davenport spoke.

Pudgy would release the microphone transmit button at the direction of his soldier friend, so the Colonel could speak and ask questions.  Once addressed, Pudgy went on to explain the trip to Mecehelen, and the museum.  Pudgy sniffled, as he told about all the horrible things he had seen in that museum.  But after a gentle head pat by the driver, Pudgy calmed and continued onto the trip to Obersalzberg.  This was the part of the story where MP Washington almost ran off the road a couple times while driving the vehicle.  He had to remind himself, eyes on road and not on the hedgehog.  Both men were dumbstruck, and amazed as the little hedgehog started to describe the aerial attack runs on the Kaiser in Obersalzberg.  That prompted more questions from the colonel, which were answered as best as Pudgy could.  The hedgehog’s problem was that he knew what happened, but could not describe everything in the level of detail they wanted.  All in all, it was an incredible tale, especially when Pudgy started to describe the trip to Auschwitz.  

The hedgehog’s descriptions prompted a wave of questions, by now many more people on the radio.  The colonel explained that Major General Williams was listening, but could not be there for the whole conversation.  His attache was transcribing the communication, for distribution later.  Pudgy described the ghosts, the demons, the ghost Rabbis, the demonic portal, and then the resolution of the activities there.  Pudgy’s description of what heaven looked like drew many more questions, which were answered forthwith.  A casual listener to the conversation might have wondered how much of this fantastically wild  story was true.  But there was one glaring occurence to prove this happened in Poland, and the subsequent worldwide news coverage and address by the Queen of England.  Live internet feeds of the camp showed the souls being freed from Auschwitz, as well as the other camps all throughout Europe. 

The tale lasted the whole way through Pennsylvania, and the familiar green road signs indicated that they were approaching Pudgy’s forest home.    After the tale was concluded, the Colonel spoke haltingly. “my word, that was quite an adventure, Pudgy.  What will you do now?”  The hedgehog looked up at the officer driving, “Pudgy wants to go home.  Pudgy don’t want to go on any more adventures.”  The Colonel laughed over the radio, “I think that is best.  Stay in your forest, and play with your friends.  Let us handle the monsters from now on, alright?”  The soldier smirked, “I don’t know, maybe having that dinosaur and bear helping us would not hurt?”  The hedgehog laughed and bounced in his seat, watching as a big donut sign appeared. “oh pwease, can we get a donut?!?!?”  The soldier shook his head, “no, we are only 20 minutes away from your friend Cobalt’s home.  You can wait,” the man said with a firm tone.  The hedgehog whimpered, “oooookkkkkkk…..mister….”  He put his sad pouting face on, to make him really sorry.

MP Washington laughed, and petted the hedgehog gently.  The communication with the Colonel ended, and the radio went silent.  After a couple trips to visit, the soldier knew where to find Pudgy and his friend’s home.  The vehicle made a right turn off the highway, and then a left turn down a busy street, across a bridge, and then up the road that headed towards the forest.  The hedgehog bounced happily, and wondered if they would pull into the forest or head towards Cobalt’s home.  Pudgy could see his forest, and the trees were still bare, which made sense since it was still late winter.  Up the scary road the jeep drove, until making the right turn to the street that led into the housing plan where his friend lived.  Past the multiple houses they went, until pulling up next to the big red vehicle that his friend drove.  The soldier placed the jeep into park, and then turned the key to shut off the engine.  

The driver smiled, and pointed to Cobalt’s house.  Opening the door, the tired man swung out his legs to place his feet on the ground. “ugh, these long drives.”  Pudgy watched him stretch, and then motion for the hedgehog to come over.  Pudgy climbed over the center console and its armrest, and then scooted across the seat towards the man’s open palm.  The critter climbed into his hand, and soon found himself raised up to chest level.  The door was shut using his opposite hand, and then the tired soldier walked the short distance to the home’s cream colored front door.  With his left hand still free, he reached up and pressed the doorbell.  In a couple of minutes, the curtain moved in the front door’s oval shaped piece of glass, and then the door opened.  The hedgehog started bouncing uncontrollably when he saw Cobalt.  

The man smiled warmly, “PUDGY!”  Cobalt watched his little friend leap out of the soldier’s hand,  so the two men started  moving forward to try and catch the hedgehog.  Cobalt caught him, and pulled his hedgehog friend up to hug softly.  The little critter started to cry, and whimpered while hugging.  Cobalt smiled at MP Washington, “thank you for bringing him here.  Please come in, I am sure you need to use the restroom.  Plus I’m ordering Pizza, so you will just have to stay for dinner too.”  The soldier laughed, and entered the man’s home, and headed towards the powder room up the hallway.  Shutting the door, the man kept hugging Pudgy, and headed into his kitchen.   

Cobalt had been making a pot of coffee, so after a quick check of the pot, he turned and walked through the archway to his dining room.  Piles of things covered the table, which is true for most dining rooms, both hedgehog and work related.  He headed to his brown couch, and sat down while still hugging.  The powder room’s toilet flushed, and the sound of water running came through the walls.  The man let go of Pudgy, and watched him slide down his chest and land in his lap.  After carefully taking his phone out of his left front pocket, he signed in with his fingerprint, and then started to use the app for a local pizza place.  “Ok, Pudgy, I know we are definitely getting the cookie brownie thing you like.  How about the cinnamon twisty things, with the icing too?”  The hedgehog stopped crying, and sniffed his nose while nodding.    

MP Washington exited the powder room, and entered the living room to sit down on a nearby overstuffed chair.  Cobalt was pressing buttons on his phone, “two pizzas … one with pepperoni and sausage, and … hey officer, what do you want on your pizza?”  The soldier smiled, “oh, well that sounds good too.”  After finishing the order, and pressing the payment button, Pudgy watched his friend set the phone down on the end table.  The critter started telling Cobalt all about his travels, and took a long time to tell.  It was interrupted by the doorbell, when the pizza guy came to deliver the order.  Cobalt called out to the soldier to come  to the kitchen,  he took a couple of pizza slices on two plates.  Setting a plate with a small slice  in front of his hedgehog friend, the hedgehog began to devour his meal.  The two men smiled, as the television was turned on.  

Local news appeared, and just like Pudgy had told Purple, the weather guy was on every 5 minutes advising what the weather was.  Washington rolled his eyes, “that’s like 5 times so far.”  The soldier muttered, before taking another bite from a pizza slice.   Cobalt laughed, “I think they cut the sports budget, for more weather time.  It’s on so often now, I tune it out.  Pudgy, should I put the tomato movie on?”  The little hedgehog looked up with a piece of pepperoni covering his face, and he nodded.  It was a movie so bad, and with giant tomatoes that attacked a town in California, that made the officer give Cobalt a look.  Pudgy was bouncing happily, and munching on pizza.  The musical number with the dancing army soldiers, caused a groan to escape his lips.  In the end, the day was saved, and it was time for cinnamon twisty thingies.     

Pudgy continued his story, all the way through to the end.  As Cobalt sipped from a cup of coffee, he looked contemplative.  “Hmm, I was wondering why the bi-wing airplane disintegrated?  So Pudgy, all the talisman powered was destroyed?”  The hedgehog nodded, “yes Cobalt, the goddess told Pudgy once the power was used up, the talisman would go away.  But Pudgy still has sapphire, it should be safe to. …”  The critter found himself being hugged gently again by Cobalt, who said with a sad smile, “no Pudgy.  You have had many adventures, and you need a good long rest.”  The soldier nodded, “i would tend to agree.  We only recently became involved with your activities, and already we have fought ghost Nazis.  I am scared to think what the next adventure might bring?”  Cobalt laughed, “shh!  Don’t say it, or it might happen.”  The two men laughed, while Pudgy peeked up at his friend.  

A couple hours passed, and eventually the officer had to leave to return to his base in Pittsburgh.  Thankfully, that was not too far away, and would be able to get back before the sun went down completely.  Cobalt and Pudgy waved as the army jeep backed out, and drove down the street.  The door was shut, and then the two friends headed back to the living room.  Pudgy retold his tale again, with Cobalt taking detailed notes this time.  Even though the intention was no more adventures, the man realized that this might be all thrown out the window tomorrow.  The story finished once more, and the little hedgehog started to yawn.   “Ok, it is time for a bath, and then bedtime for hedgehogs.”  Cobalt said with a smile.  

Pudgy normally would have protested, but he had a nice full belly, and was very sleepy all of a sudden.  After putting the leftovers away in the fridge, unplugging the coffee pot, checking the front door; Pudgy was carried upstairs.  To the bathroom they went, and his human friend very carefully removed the bandages from the critter’s body.  The wounds were healing, but still needed to be bound.  The sink was filled with warm water, and the hedgehog slid into the sink.  Very carefully, Cobalt washed his friend.  The quills were ripped out of his back, but new ones were starting to form.  It almost looked like he had racing stripes on his back, as the new quills were white, while the normal ones were brown.  The water was drained from the sink, and Pudgy soon found himself covered with a white fluffy towel.  He was dried off, and then the burning, stinging, antiseptic soaked cotton balls were unleashed.  Pudgy whimpered, but knew he had to have this done.  

The man continued to be careful, and bandaged his hedgehog friend up once again.  Pudgy wiggled his nose, and bounced slightly on the sink.  Looking up at Cobalt, “can Pudgy sleep in your bed tonight?”  The man smiled with a soft look in his gray eyes, “sure Pudgy, you have been through a lot in a short time.”  The hedgehog smiled, and soon found himself being carried carefully to the man’s bedroom.  He set the critter down on the bed, and started to wrap him up in a blue blanket.  Pudgy watched his friend do some things to get ready for bed, and soon found the man sliding under the covers beside him.  The lamp was turned off, “Goodnight Pudgy,” but Cobalt noticed he had already fallen asleep.  The night was uneventful, with only one night terror with respect to the hedgehog.  

The next day was a work day for Cobalt, so he prepped for the day, and headed into his basement.  Pudgy was left in the bed with food and water, as well as a pet potty pad.  The man would check on his hedgehog friend during his breaks, and found that he was sleeping most of the time.  Of course that meant by the time work ended, there was a wide eyed bouncing hedgehog who wanted to play.  Hugs, yummy meals, games, television, and many other things were done throughout the evening, until it was time for bed once more.  This pattern continued for many days, until the hedgehog had fully recovered.  Cobalt would not let Pudgy leave the home, though he did disappear one day for a short time.  Pudgy was unsure where his friend went, but knew he was coming back.  

So while Pudgy was busy playing with a coloring book and crayon parts, he was looking out through the glass patio doors that were on the basement patio.  He could hear a commotion outside, and watched as the gray fluffy bunnies were busy running circles around Cobalt’s feet as he walked.  Argente the silver fox was carrying the field mice on her back, looking up at the man who was talking.  The hedgehog waved through the glass at his friends, and watched the patio door slide open by Cobalt.  The animals all bolted inside, and bounced happily beside Pudgy.  They were all talking at the same time, and hugging him gently.  Argente was the last to enter, and her brown eyes started to tear up, as she saw him bandaged up.  

The field mice saw the missing quills, and started to hug him as tightly as they could.  Soon the other larger animals had curled around the hedgehog, all hugging at the same time and crying.  Pudgy sniffled, and hugged everyone back.  “Pudgy is back, and not going on another adventure for a long time.”  Argente looked at him, “you will not be going on any more adventures period!”  Cobalt smiled at the gathering, and headed upstairs quietly.  He soon returned with a tray of assorted goodies, and  set it down next to the gathering of critters.  The man sat down on the floor, and started to open little bags of things.  As the bunnies bounced at the little carrots being placed into a shallow plastic bowl, they let go of Pudgy to sniff their noses at the man’s hands, before happily munching the offered food.  

Soon the animals all circled the tray, and were munching on yummy things.  Cobalt had texted Mr. Bear, who was looking for Mr. Dinosaur.  They would be at the house shortly he assumed, and cut thin pieces of cheese for the field mice.  The mice were appreciative, and bounced happily when they were offered their food.  Pudgy looked at his friends, and sighed happily, “Pudgy home.”  It was just as he said that, that the screen door was moved back by a large fuzzy nose.  Mr. Bear waved his paw at the gathering, and squeezed through the open door.   “I looked everywhere, but I could not find Grumpy”  Cobalt nodded, “thank you for checking Mr. Bear.  Maybe he is off exploring the forest, or off visiting the moon dinos again?”  Pudgy scampered over and hugged the large brown bear’s leg.  He looked up at his friend, who was grinning back at him.  “Pudgy, I am glad you got back safe and sound.  What happened,” the bear asked?

With the assembled group lining up to listen to Pudgy, and after Cobalt retrieved a large piece of beef from the fridge upstairs for the bear, the story began.  Cobalt had to explain certain parts, as the woodland critters didn’t understand things, but they all looked in horror at what had happened to Pudgy.  Even Mr. Bear was frowning, and placed his head on his paws as he laid on the floor.  The tale lasted a long time, and needed an intermission.  The story was halted,  so everyone could go outside and use the bushes that ran along the edge of the property.  Once everyone was ready once more, Pudgy finished his tale.  At the conclusion, the little critters were sitting in shocked silence.  No one was speaking, but one by one they all began to hug Pudgy tightly.  Even Cobalt and Mr. Bear got into the hugging circle, and soon Pudgy was surrounded by all of his friends.

Cobalt was the first to speak, “Pudgy, we all love and care about you.  Many other people care for you also, in far away places.  No one wants to see you hurt again, not like this, and not worse for that matter.  The adventures are over, and let us all just live in peace and quiet.”  The other animals nodded, and hugged the little hedgehog again.  Pudgy looked up through Mr. Bear’s long fur at Cobalt, “Pudgy wants to stay here now.  Is Pudgy allowed to go back to underground home?”  The man laughed, “why yes you most certainly can.  I was thinking tomorrow.  We need to clean out your home, and get it ready for the spring.  Now that the Kaiser and his monsters are gone, we can take down the barricades.  Though, I think I will keep the pistol and ammunition in the big room, just for now.”  

The large brown bear nodded, “yes, I think that is still a good idea Cobalt.  Hey, I was wondering something?  What was the plan for Easter?”  The man smiled, “well … now that Pudgy is back …I think we should have a party at his home.  I will get the fire going, and cook again.  Any chance you can make those pies again?”  The bear grinned and nodded, while the bunnies looked up excitedly.  They had heard tales of a magical bunny that brought things, and wondered if he would stop by the forest too?  Pudgy bounced happily, “Pudgy like that very much!  Can we invite the air force guys too?”  The man smiled, “yes, we most certainly can.  I wonder if they would show up though?”

In the days that followed, Pudgy returned to his underground home.  As Cobalt had advised, the underground home soon was a flurry of activity.  The water tanks were flushed, and refilled.  The spoiled food was disposed of outside, and the home cleaned out from top to bottom.  The batteries were recharged, and the electrical systems all verified in working order.  Provisions were laid in, and stowed away, and soon the hedgehog was receiving visits from his woodland friends.  Pudgy was finally able to sleep in his own bed, under all the blankets.   His fur grew back, as well as his quills, and soon the hedgehog was back to normal.  The forest was peaceful once again, and filled the sounds of birds chirping in the trees.  There was no more talk of shadows, of monsters, and fighting.  

Cobalt had informed everyone that the party was on, and would be held on Sunday.  Everyone in the forest was excited, as the man was spinning a yarn about a magical bunny who left eggs filled with goodies.  That resulted in questions, and frantic searching by the bunnies, who were quite sad they had to wait till Sunday for the Easter Bunny to come.  The days passed quickly by, and seemingly without warning, Sunday morning had arrived.  Pudgy yawned, and got out of his bed, wiping the sleep from his yes with his paws.  His friend had told him not to bake this time, and to take it easy since he was still healing.    The little critter bounced excitedly when he saw his human friend dragging an overloaded wagon and coolers filled with goodies through the forest.  

It was a frosty morning, but clear and sunny.  As the man knelt to knock on the front door, he soon found it open and a bouncing hedgehog hugging his wrist.  “Good morning, and happy Easter Pudgy!”  The hedgehog looked up at the man, “happy Easter Cobalt!”  The man smiled, “Pudgy, fire up the stove, and put the tea on.”  The first order of business was to hide the easter eggs.  Cobalt had went to the store, and bought plastic eggs in bright pastel colors.  He had hidden unwrapped candies in the eggs, since most likely as soon as the eggs were found, their contents were bound to be consumed.  He just hoped the critters would listen, and not try to eat the plastic eggs.  As Cobalt snuck around the trees, and placed eggs around in hidden but accessible places, he returned to the underground home.    

The chimney was puffing white smoke, as Pudgy was making preparations.  The big room’s round french doors had been opened inwards.  Cobalt dragged large tree sections up to the fire pit, and started cutting firewood.  As he placed the cut logs into place within the ring of stones, he started to light the fire with a long tip lighter.  Starting the fire always took awhile, but eventually the flames caught, and the smoke started to rise into the sky.  As the man set up some folding chairs around the fire at a safe distance, he could see two green army jeeps driving through the forest.  The man waved while he tended the fire, watching the vehicles pull up and park in the spot where he normally parked his red vehicle.  MP Washington, and MP Murphy exited their vehicles, and waved. “Hello Cobalt!”  

They were wearing green digital camouflage combat fatigues, though the MP had their black vests on.  Once the two officers were standing beside the front of the lead Jeep, another man exited from the passenger seat of the vehicle.  He was wearing fatigues as well, but had the insignia of a superior officer, which Cobalt recognized.  After checking on the fire once again, the man walked towards the soldiers.  When he saw Colonel Jackowski had decided to attend, Cobalt saluted.  The soldier’s returned the salute back, with a smirk from the Colonel.  He laughed, “your salute still needs work, Cobalt.  Now, where is this party you spoke of?”  A loud crack was heard from the fire pit, “uh oh, I need to check that fire, sir.”  

The soldiers watched as Cobalt ran to check on the fire, and then as Pudgy was bouncing and waving from his front door.  He saluted too, before running back inside.  The men walked up to the fire pit, and watched as Cobalt was setting up cooking grates, and a tripod over the fire.  One large blackened pot was already filled with water and boiling, which Cobalt was scooping large dry cups of coffee into it.  MP Murphy laughed, “cowboy coffee eh?”  Cobalt nodded, “I was unsure when you were arriving.  Sorry the coffee is not ready yet, I had to hide the easter eggs first.”   He turned to watch the Colonel looking at Pudgy’s home, while smoking a cigarette.  

MP Washington had found an egg hiding spot, and laughed when he saw a gray fluffy bunny bouncing excitedly at his foot.  The bunny shot off at full speed back up the hill towards the warren.  “Looks like the bunny found the egg Cobalt,”  the soldier said while pointing.  Cobalt laughed, and was hanging a huge ham on a spit over the fire.  In addition to the fire wood, charcoal had been added to the fire ring, because it was needed for the dutch ovens.  The colonel walked up to the fire ring, and watched in amazement as the various food items were busily being prepared.  Before he could say anything, the Colonel found his ankle being hugged by the hedgehog.  

“Hugging a superior officer is against the code of conduct Pudgy, but I will make an exception today.”  The Colonel said with a smile, while he watched as Argente the silver fox pad down the hill through a series of bushes that were starting to wake from their winter slumber.  The fox waved her paw at Pudgy, and then scampered around in circles around the humans’ feet.  Gray fluffy bunnies were bouncing all around the fire pit, and tugging at Cobalt’s jeans’ pants legs, excitedly pointing to the forest.  As the two MP’s looked up, they watched Mr. Bear pulling a wagon behind him.  The bear was harnessed up like a horse with that wagon, but it worked as he walked past the soldiers.  Inside the wagon were large bear sized pies,  and soon everyone found themselves around the fire ring.  

Mr. Bear initiated a salute to the soldiers, who returned the salute back.  Shortly afterwards , the beavers scampered up from their nearby pond, and waved at the assembled group of party revelers.  However, the bunnies could not take it anymore, and Cobalt started to talk while laughing.  “Ok, everyone.  The Easter bunny was here this morning, and left brightly colored eggs all over the forest around Pudgy’s house.  DO NOT eat the eggs, bring them back here.  Once all the eggs have been found, I will help you open them.  There are all sorts of neat things inside to be found, now …3….2….1…..GO!”  To the Colonel’s amusement, the critters all shot out from the fire ring and were quickly scampering around to find the eggs.  

This gave time for Cobalt to cook, and to serve the soldiers coffee.  Pudgy found a brightly colored yellow egg, and was scampering back with it, when he was knocked over by a bunny.  Realizing he needed to be careful, he got back up and scampered once more with his egg.  The bunnies were excited, but were getting competitive, trying to find the most eggs before anyone else.  Argente was having fun too, and had found two purple eggs, which she was trying to carry back.  MP Murphy was appointed easter egg judge, and was directing traffic as best as he could from the comfort of a black folding camping chair.  The field mice were quite sad, since they couldn’t move as fast as the others, and the bunnies kept snatching away the eggs before they could reach them.  

MP Washington laughed, and sipped from his coffee cup, “how many is it now Murphy?”  The soldier was counting, “looks like the animals brought back 38 eggs so far?  Hey Cobalt, how many total eggs were there?”  The host was busy basting the large ham over the fire with a bottle of a sweet smelling liquid.  “The Easter Bunny brought 40 eggs, and I think perhaps 2 for the field mice might be found under something with wheels?”  The mice wiggled their noses, and scampered up to the wagon.  They were found underneath and tucked behind the wheels, two orange eggs.  They bounced happily, and started to roll out the eggs to the pile.  Mr. Bear roared happily, “everyone back, all the eggs have been found!”  

One by one, happy critters started to scamper back up to the large pile of Easter eggs.  Cobalt smiled while all the critters looked expectantly up at him.  “Ok, everyone gets 4 eggs, and we should have a couple left over if my math is right.”  The bunnies wiggle their noses, since they thought they got to keep all the eggs they had found.  But Cobalt was the keeper of the Easter bunny rules, so they would go along till next year.  With assistance from the humans, the eggs were soon opened, and tiny candies were being munched on by excited critters.  Mr. Bear was looking a bit sad at first, until he noticed a large egg hidden beside a tree with a bear print on it.  He opened that one to find a chocolate cross inside.  When the bunnies saw they had missed the giant egg, they started to pout.  Even the soldiers found eggs tucked away in their camping chairs, so the bunny seemingly had planned ahead.  The only one who didn’t have an egg was Cobalt, but he said it was ok, and would have an extra big slice of pie later.  

All manner of yummy smells filled the air, while the critters ran around and played a spirited game of tag.  Cobalt stood by the fire, and basted the ham, before cutting a small chunk off of it.  He handed it to the Colonel, “is it ready?”  The superior officer reached up, and took the chunk of ham and started to taste it. “oh my, yes I think so.”  The food was ready, and with long handled bars, Cobalt started to open the various dutch ovens.  He got out metal serving spoons, and called out, “ok everyone the food is ready!”  Cobalt had made ham, au gratin potatoes, cornbread, glazed carrots, and coffee.  The critters lined up, and one by one they were served little paper plates filled with yummy foods.  The exception was the beavers, but the Colonel watched as they were bouncing when Cobalt handed them maple syrup coated pieces of wood.  

The humans were given thicker plates, and served themselves.  Cobalt cut off a large chunk of the ham for Mr. Bear. The brown bear grinned, and started munching happily.  The Colonel was about to speak when his eyes went wide, and watched as a large tyrannosaurus was walking through the forest and down the hill from where the bunnies warren was located.  Cobalt waved, “hi Grumpy, glad you could make it!”  The dinosaur waved one of his tiny arms, and hungrily eyed the remaining ham.  The man unclipped the ham from the spit, and then tossed it up into the air, which was caught in the dinosaur’s large mouth.  

As the party progressed, the food soon disappeared.  Mr. Bear’s large apple and pecan pies were a hit, and even the dinosaur enjoyed them.  Hours passed, and soon the animals were leaving one by one to head back to their homes.  It was so good to have Pudgy back home, the forest just was not the same without him.  The soldiers were having fun as well, and couldn’t help but smile when they soon were being hugged by happy critters as well.  As the sun started to set, both Mr. Bear and Mr. Dinosaur said their goodbyes, and headed home.  Once everyone had left, except for the hedgehog and his human friend, the Colonel stood up and headed towards the fire. “Cobalt and Pudgy, thank you for inviting us to your party.”  The two MP’s nodded and spoke in unison, “thank you!”  Pudgy bounced happily and hugged Cobalt’s ankle, while looking up at the superior officer.  

“Your adventure is over, and the monsters have been defeated.  The party was held, and that too has ended.  What will you do now?”  Cobalt smiled, “well, clean up, and watch the fire till it burns out.  Then, it’s back home, to go to work tomorrow.”  Pudgy looked up, “Pudgy going to sleep in, and stay in the forest.  Pudgy, tired of adventures, want to stay home.”  The superior officer smiled, “I am glad to hear that.  Please leave saving the day to the armed forces of the United States, going forward.”  Cobalt and Pudgy both started to laugh, and salute the Colonel.  Cobalt watched as the Colonel returned the salute, before speaking once more as it was ended.  “You two are still officially part of the United States Air Force, so if anything were to occur, you know how to reach us.  Sadly, it is time for us to go now.  Again, thank you for the invitation to your party.  The Major General wanted to attend, but sadly he had to attend a conference at the pentagon.”

The soldiers stood up, and headed towards the olive green army jeeps.  One by one they entered the vehicles, and the engines fired up.  Both friends waved as the vehicles backed up and turned around, before driving through the forest and reaching the road that led out of the forest.  Once the vehicles were out of view, Cobalt sat at the fire and watched as the flames danced on the remaining logs.  Pudgy started to climb up his leg, and reached his friend’s knee.  The man smiled, and hugged the hedgehog gently.  The critter smiled and watched the flames crackle, “Pudgy glad to be home.”  His human friend nodded, “I agree Pudgy, you are home.  It’s spring time, so the trees and flowers are waking up from their winter slumber.  Soon it will be warm out every day,” the man said softly.  Pudgy had fallen asleep in his arms, so he stayed quiet.  The man prayed silently, thanking the almighty that his friend had returned.  Pudgy’s adventures were over, but for how long, he couldn’t tell?

Far away in the trees, an owl watched silently.  Its golden eyes fixated on the sleeping hedgehog, and his human friend.  After nodding to itself, its wings unfurled, and the bird took flight into the night sky.  Cobalt heard the hooting sound as the owl flew off, and nodded, “it is very late now.  But I will tend the fire, and hug my friend.”  Pudgy yawned and looked up at Cobalt, “Pudgy loves Cobalt, Cobalt is best friend in the whole world.”  The hedgehog snuggled in the man’s arms, and fell asleep once more.  The man nodded, and whispered, “love you too … Pudgy.”

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.

One reply on “Land of Sorrow: Chapter 14: Easter”

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