Moon Cry: Chapter 9: Village

Hours passed, with Painted Feather telling all manner of tales.  Tales of how owls came to be in this world, to tales of their Parliament’s travels.  Their territory was primarily around Mt. Rainier, but sometimes they would cross into Canada.  The little owls were all nestled around Pudgy, who was not shivering as much.  As the shaman ended his latest story, the little owls hooted happily, while Pudgy cheered.  He had learned so much since meeting Alabaster, but the call of his home was weighing on his mind.  The hedgehog was conflicted, he wanted to go home but he also wanted to stay.  Ultimately, the Grand Claw made that decision when he taped his claw on the tree branch twice.  

“And now you know of our kind Pudgy Hedgehog, and we know of your kind.  I believe it is time for you to return home.  Alabaster, if you will, can you please take Pudgy to the leyline node that is nearby to here?  Painted Feather will accompany you there as well,” The Grand Claw said with a clear tone.  The two owls nodded and bowed to the elderly leader of their Parliament, and the little owls started to hug Pudgy.  The hedgehog returned their embraces, and said his goodbyes.  He strapped his backpack on tight once more, and put his mining helmet on.  He kept the poncho on, as it was keeping a little bit of warm around his body.  

Both owls leapt from their respective branches, and took flight.  Pudgy realizing he needed to make things easier, positioned himself in such a way to make the backpack easily accessible by his traveling companion.  Alabaster banked around the tree, and with his claws extended, grab hold of the pack and lifted Pudgy from the branch.  There were many goodbye calls from the owls in the surrounding trees as Pudgy was carried off.  Even the Grand Claw waved, and gave a goodbye call as well, watching his grand feather fly in the direction of the shaman.  

Once more the little hedgehog was dangling beneath an owl, and starting to wish he could fly.  But that was not possible, as Hedgehogs could bounce but not fly.  Thankfully, this flight was not long at all, and soon he saw a large white granite boulder sticking out of the ground.  As Alabaster glided in, he released his claws and dropped Pudgy onto the rock gently.  The owl landed a short distance past Pudgy, and then turned around to walk back towards him.  The moon was bright in the skies above, and cast a pale white hue over the ground.  Painted Feather was standing nearby, looking up at the moon wistfully.  

Alabaster looked a bit sheepish as he folded back his wings, “Pudgy, I have to admit something to you.  When I first came to your home, I did not know what to make of you?  But without hesitation, you healed me as best you could, and then leapt into the unknown to assist me in returning home.  Pudgy, I wish to thank you, from the bottom of my heart.”  The owl bowed low to Pudgy, but that did not last very long, as the little hedgehog pulled him back up and gently hugged him.  “Can Pudgy call Alabaster …a friend?”  The owl looked happily at him with his gold eyes, and returned the embrace.  “Yes Pudgy, I would very much like to be your friend.”  Painted Feather was trying very hard to not pay attention, until he found himself being hugged by Pudgy as well.  The shaman hooted a laugh, “yes Pudgy, I want to be friends too.  I believe everyone within our Parliament is in agreement with that as well.  Now, let me instruct you once more, how to properly use your stone.”  

Painted Feather explained, while acting out certain parts, that the ley lines were interconnected.  In some cases, when he would exit one node, he could launch himself into the air.  By concentrating on the stone, he could open the node while above the stone.  Even a jumping motion could cause  him to fly into the air at the exit, so the hedgehog would have to be careful.  It was possible to use the stone to teleport from one point to another directly, but it would cause the stone to tire much quicker, and would need time to recharge.  However, by using the ley lines, there was no such restriction.

Pudgy listened intently, and once the lesson was over, he hugged the shaman once more.  He then hugged Alabaster again, and scampered out to the middle of the granite boulder.  He waved his paws at his owl friends, who waved back with their wing tips.  “Goodbye Alabaster, goodbye Painted Feather … Pudgy going to go home now.”  The little hedgehog took out his sapphire, and held it tightly in his paws.  “Mister Stone, can you take Pudgy back to the grove of trees where Alabaster and Pudgy left the forest?”  The shaman hooted happily, and watched as the boulder began to glow with a bright green light.  There was a tremendous flash, and then the hedgehog disappeared.  The area slowly stopped glowing, and the two owls were left alone.  

Alabaster looked to the direction of the rising sun, “does this leyline go all the way there?”  Painted Feather rubbed his beak, “I am not sure exactly.  But it will get him a far distance there, come Alabaster, we should return to the tree.”  The two owls turned back to the setting sun direction, and took flight once more.  They would head to the Grand Claw to advise of Pudgy’s departure, and what was discussed.  As Painted Feather flew, he wondered what else would Gaia have in store for the world?  She mentioned the world would heal, but just how exactly would that be done?  Fire destroys, but in some trees it is necessary to release the seeds which allow new trees to grow.  Time would tell what would be in store for the owls, and the other animals.  

Meanwhile, Pudgy was flying quickly through the vortex of swirling green energy.  With no owl companion with him, it seemed like he was flying much quicker through the bedrock.  The little hedgehog, could see a black circle appearing in front of him, and as it approached, he could feel cool air blowing towards him.  Remembering what the shaman told him, the critter decided to try it out, and started running towards the exit and gaining speed.  When Pudgy just reached the edge of the exit, he jumped as high as he could.  As the Shaman instructed, the critter was shot out of the granite boulder and went flying high into the air.  Holding onto the stone as tight as he could, “Mister stone, take Pudgy to the next node, please!”  The stone grew warm in his paws, and he saw a beam of purple light start to come out of the ground.  With the angle he was flying, and then falling, he quickly entered the new node.  Once more he was in the ley line, and travelling at a tremendous rate of speed.  

Pudgy followed this pattern to travel from Washington state to Wyoming, then to South Dakota, then to Wisconsin, then to Michigan, and once more to Pennsylvania.  During his brief flights in the air, the critter saw what had happened to the country.  The towns and cities were dark, the skies were dark save for the stars and moon, the lands were quiet.  Each jump to the east was also causing the twilight to increase as he headed east.  It was during the last ley line trip, that he did not run towards the exit.  Pondering to himself, this was most likely what the owls were doing.  No wonder Alabaster got hurt, if he shot out at an angle from the node?  Once more a dark circle appeared at the end of the vortex of swirling red light, and the hedgehog popped out and landed hard against a tree.    

The little critter recognized the grove of oak trees that grew in a circle around the boulder.  Pudgy had made it back to his forest, and he tucked the sapphire away in his vest.  As he clasped the pocket shut securely, “thank you Mister stone.  Pudgy promise you can rest now,” the critter said while his eyes adjusted to the morning sunlight.  His forest was much warmer, so he no longer required the poncho.  The large granite stone ceased its glow as the portal closed, and the node powered down.  “Pudgy wonder if this is how Angeliki gets here?”  The little critter bemused to himself, as he got to his paws, and started to scamper through the exit between the oak trees.  

Excited, the hedgehog started to scamper as fast as his little paws and legs could carry him.  In what seemed like an eternity, the hedgehog made it to Argente’s cottage.  Stopping at the door,  Pudgy began to knock excitedly on the door.  He knew it was early still, but he wanted to see his fox friend first.  There was no response, so after a couple of moments had passed, the critter knocked once more on the door.    This time, he heard movement inside the cottage, and Argente sleepily peeked through her round glass window.  When she saw Pudgy, she opened her door and started to whimper.  “YOU LEFT ME BEHIND!” the female silver fox said loudly while pouting.  Before she could get another statement out, the hedgehog immediately ran into her home and hugged her.  “Pudgy sorry,” he stammered out while he began to sob.  The two friends embraced silently, asides from the occasional moment of crying.  

Pudgy sniffled while he hugged her, “When Alabaster and Pudgy got to Texas, Pudgy wanted to go back.  Alabaster said that would have had to jump back and forth on each leg, since only two can use the stone at a time.”  Argente really wanted to try and be upset with the hedgehog, but she couldn’t.  She did very much want to hear what had happened, and why Pudgy was dressed in Cobalt’s blue bandana handkerchiefs in a strange manner.  “I am glad you returned to us Pudgy, I was so worried.”  The fox said while looking down at him, while they released their hug.  The hedgehog was not injured, which also added to her sense of relief.  “Did you find out about Cobalt and the other humans?  Were the owls able to help?”  As Pudgy was about to speak, he heard a sound from the clearing outside.  

Due to the racket coming from the clearing, the door to the bunnies’ warren opened up.  A sleepy gray fluffy bunny poked his head out, and wiggled his nose sniffing.  Spotting Pudgy, the quickly wakening rabbit hopped out of the warren and bounced excitedly.  “PUDGY’S BACK EVERYONE!”  The little bunny called out while hopping over to Argente’s cottage. The second fluffy bunny shot out of the warren, and fell onto the ground in front when she tripped.  The field mice door opened up, and they started waving at Argente’s cottage.  The bunnies and field mice quickly made it  over to the fox’s cottage, and waved at Pudgy.  The little hedgehog turned around and exited the cottage dressed in his makeshift blue poncho.  

Pudgy hugged his friends one by one, with much bouncing as well.  After he had greeted all of his friends, the hedgehog moved to a spot where everyone could hear him.  Argente poked her head out of the cottage and wiggled her ears at the assembled group.  The hedgehog started to tell his grand tale, of everything that had happened.  The trip to Texas through the leyline, and the meeting with Mr.s Waffles and Samantha.  The short  car ride to the island, where Alabaster and Pudgy took the next leyline to the desert in New Mexico.  The wild and crazy antics of the nice talking cactus, and the rescue by the airship bunnies.  When Pudgy got to the part about the bunnies, his story was immediately interrupted by excited gray and fluffy bunnies asking questions.  

As the hedgehog explained, clarified, and re-explained various parts about the bunnies; the story continued with the flight over the desert.  The beavers had spotted the gaggle of animals up at the fox’s cottage, and had decided to come take a look.  The hedgehog was at the part during the airship’s  river bank landing, and waved at the beavers when they arrived.  Pudgy took a moment to go over the parts of his story the beaver missed, before heading to the next part.  The warship had drifted off course, and was over the city of Montclair in California.  Vast swaths of humans as far as they eye could see, and few if any green spaces anywhere.  This led to more questions, including from Argente.  California was so developed, concrete was everywhere.  All of the animals wondered how things grew there, and where the animals lived?

The little hedgehog continued his story, and how the airship headed to a lake with a narrow strip of nature growing around it.  They landed in between the trees where there was a tiny village of animals living there.  As Pudgy described the buildings, including a beaver woodworking place, the critters’ minds started working overtime.  As they thought about the little town, Argente was the first to sigh wistfully, “I wish we had a little village like in Pudgy’s story.”  The hedgehog stopped, and rubbed his chin with his paw.  “Well, if you think about it … we already have the start of one.  Maybe, we could have our own?  But, let Pudgy finish story first.”  The critters all started to laugh, bounce, and listen happily.  

Pudgy started to speak again, with about the departure from the village, and meeting the kind human by the lake.  Pudgy spoke highly of his friend from twitter Mr. Drew, and how the man drove them all through the night northwards to the coastal town of Orick.  Pudgy described the darkness of the cities, and how empty the whole place felt.  The people on the radio were losing their minds when they were able to broadcast.  Pudgy started to whimper while telling his story when he got to the part where the nice man disappeared in the driver’s seat.  The animals grew quiet, and wiggled their noses, realizing the humans really were gone from this world.  The hedgehog took a breath, and looked around the forest while sniffing the air.  The critter sighed, and then spoke about how Alabaster’s mother Ice Feather arrived.  

The trip to the roosting tree in the vast redwood forest, and the thousands of owls perched within the branches of the trees drew mystified looks from his animal friends.  The hedgehog described all that had happened, the gigantic Grand Claw Glacier, and the other owls he met on the tree.  Pudgy told tales of the great beaver dam that had been built, and the various bastions of animal lands that existed before the arrival of the humans.  The stories Pudgy told lasted through to mid-day, with his audience enraptured with the grand tales.  Argente had heard some, as she once lived in the general area where the arctic owls lived, but most of this was new to her.  Pudgy was not allowed to go to the Grand Parliament, but what he could hear from his tree was sign enough that something big was going on.  

Thousands of owls and birds all sounded a warning call at once, and then the massive redwood cedar tree started to glow green, with a beam of light that extended into the skies above.  In time, the Grand Claw and several other owls returned, and explained what had happened.  The humans were gone forever, and would not be returning to this world as they were.  The critters all started to sniffle, as this meant their human friend Cobalt was not going to be coming back.  But before outright tears started, Pudgy raised his paw and mentioned what the shaman told him.  That the humans may come back as animals, and if that were to occur, it may be as soon as summer when that might happen.  Argente blinked, “Cobalt could come back … as an animal?  I hope he comes back as a fox!”  She giggled, before the bunnies pouted at her, “no we want Cobalt as a bunny!  Then he can hop around and play with us,”  they said in unison while twitching their noses at her.  Pudgy chuckled, and wiggled his nose, while he looked thoughtful.  He had not thought of this until now, and wondered how they would return?  The sliver of hope that Cobalt and the others may come back, filled the hedgehog with a tiny but growing sense of happiness.  

“Pudgy hopes all human friends come back, but Pudgy hopes Cobalt is first.  Pudgy wonder if that means he could live in Pudgy’s house all the time?”  After lots of laughter, bouncing, and arguments about what animal Cobalt should be; Pudgy continued with his story.  The Grand Parliament concluded, and soon Pudgy was being carried by the shaman as they flew through the ley line.  The owls arrived over the town where Pudgy had flown to with Sandra and Raymond.  Like the other human cities, it too was dark.  The only sources of external light were a few spotlights that had been connected to solar panels.  The owls flew to their great forest on the eastern side of Mt. Rainier.  Pudgy was so exhausted, he slept all day in the tree.  At night, it grew cold, so he had to fashion together the poncho he was wearing.  

He told more owl tales, and then the return trip through the ley lines.  The critter explained how if he jumped, he could shoot out of the ground.  This captivated the bunnies, as the hedgehog had figured out a way to go higher than they could.  Then Pudgy was back home, and went to Argente’s house.  He started to hug everyone once again, which drew lots of giggles, as the hug everyone part was the best part.  Argente has managed to sneak out of her cottage, and shut her door during the tales, and was sitting on the ground.  Looking around the circle of friends, Pudgy was right, they already had a village, but since Cobalt was gone … they were now on their own.  That thought made her sad, but saw Pudgy had his pondering look in his eyes.  

“Pudgy, what are you thinking?”  The female silver fox asked as she wiggled her ears.  The hedgehog looked up, “Pudgy thinking … no Cobalt means no food, no repairs, no protection.  We are on our own for real now, so we have to be careful.  Mr. Bear can help us, but he lives far away across the forest.  Even at Argente speed, it would take awhile to get there and back.  Pudgy needs to think about what we need, and how to make it.  If a monster were to come, we can use the Pudgy house to keep everyone safe again.  Oh, Pudgy need to check on home!”  The little critter exclaimed, as the thought crossed his mind.  The other animals bounced, and formed a parade line behind Pudgy, as they scampered through the woods.  

Down the hill they went, into the secret tunnel buried underground during the Kaiser monster attacks, and out the exit to meet Argente.  The fox no longer fit in the secret tunnel, so she took the long way and ran.  She giggled and stuck out her tongue at the bunnies, “beat you here.”  The bunnies pouted, but followed Pudgy to his home.  Past the big round doors of the meeting room, past the round kitchen window, and to the round front door.  The little hedgehog undid the secret lock, and then opened his front door.  The hedgehog scampered inside, and found the home to be safe.  The air was stale, and it was very stuffy inside, so Pudgy started opening the windows.  His animal friends all started to enter one by one, and then began to bounce happily.  The hedgehog took off his backpack, poncho, and mining helmet.  Setting them on the kitchen table, he turned to his friends.    

“Pudgy, very glad to be home,”  the little hedgehog said with a sigh of relief.  His home was warm, and full of friends.  He went to his sink, and started to work the water pump to get the water flowing once more.  After a few minutes, the cool water began to flow.  He always let it run a bit before he started to fill a pot or cup with it.  Then once it was safe, he began to fill cups of water and set them out on his counter.  Once he had poured drinks for all of his friends, the little hedgehog filled his teapot full of water.  Then he turned off the sink’s faucet, and began to pass out the cups.  “Pudgy need to make tea, but here you go.”  All the animals gratefully accepted the cups of water, and were talking amongst themselves.  Argente looked at Pudgy with a soft smile, “Pudgy … so that animal village you visited.  What did it have again?”

The hedgehog was starting to grab wood from his hoppers so he could make a fire in his wood stove.  Stopping, he wiggled his nose, “they had a big pavilion where round flat stones were spread out around a fire pit.  That was a place to eat, and meet.  They also had a wood shop run by a beaver, there was a blacksmith shop run by a stern looking rabbit, there was a general store, and a bunch of little homes.  There was so much to look at, but Pudgy was in a rush with Alabaster.”  His fox friend nodded, “the pavillion sounds like a good thing, but we already have your home, so I think that would be last on the order of things to build.  My worry is … if we build a village …. then more animals will come.  How are we going to feed us, let alone new friends?”  The bunnies wiggle their noses while sipping from their cups, but they were thinking.  

Billie Bunny raised his paw, “the humans have gardens nearby, we can take food from there.”  Mr. Field mouse twitched his nose and spoke in a squeaky voice, “that makes sense Billie.  But what happens when all the food is gone?  There are no humans around to replant the garden.”  The bunny looked sad for a moment, but nodded, “if the humans can plant things …why can we not do the same?”  Pudgy turned to look at the bunny from the firebox of his wood stove, “exactly.  Pudgy thinks it’s a good idea, and we have space in the clearing between Argente’s cottage and the bunny warren.  Pudgy tried to grow food once, but the deer ate it.  If we do this, we need to let them know why we’re doing it.  Pudgy sure they would be ok with this,”  the critter said with a smile.  

Pudgy had the fire lit, and so he was adding fuel wood to the stove.  “Pudgy knew Cobalt house had lots of food.  But it is in high places we can’t get to, so it would be hard to get it.  The human stores are filled with food and supplies, but we can’t get into those places.  Plus they are so far away, you need humans to drive the big vehicles to get us places.”  Argente wiggled her ears, “we can walk Pudgy, but I see your point.  Even if you hook the cart up to me, I can only pull so much weight.  Mr. Bear could help, but we would run into the same issue.”  She could see her hedgehog friend looking thoughtful, and the gears were turning.  The critter started to bounce, and waved at the beavers.  “Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, can you help Pudgy with a project tomorrow?”

The Beavers looked up and nodded, waiting for Pudgy to explain.  The hedgehog bounced, “Cobalt took Pudgy when smaller to a place called a grist mill.  It was a cabin with a water wheel on it.  Two big stones rolled together, so it could crush things.  They would put dried corn into the mill, and it would make flour.”  The bunnies twitched their noses and said in unison, “what good would that do?”  Pudgy smiled, “one time Pudgy ran out of flour for bread.  Pudgy gathered acorns from the oak trees, and then Pudgy crushed acorns into flour.  The squirrels really liked the acorn muffins Pudgy made.  The forest has nuts, seeds, all manner of foods to eat.  If we have a mill, Pudgy can make bread and other goodies.”

Pudgy went over to one of his wall compartments, and opened a door.  He pulled out a crayon piece and paper, then shut the door.  The hedgehog drew on the paper with the green crayon, a rough drawing at best, and then showed the assembled group.  “Can Pudgy beaver friends cut down a tree for Pudgy?  We would move the logs into place beside where the Pudgy water wheel is located.”  Argente nodded, “ok I think I understand.  This mill makes sense Pudgy, since we can use it to not only grind food, but other things as well.  We will see how hard it is to build the mill first, before we move onto other buildings.  I suggest we visit Cobalt’s house first though.”

The hedgehog nodded, with a sad look in his eye, but he realized what his fox friend was saying was correct.  It was not just food, his human friend’s home was loaded with all manner of useful things.  The tea pot started to boil on the stove, and he could hear the familiar sound in the background behind him.  “The village does not need to be built all at one time.  When Pudgy walked through the one in California, it had been there a long time.  Pudgy needs help from all of you, so if you have an idea, tell Pudgy.  Pudgy will make a list, and then we will all talk about it.”  The animals all nodded, and the beavers wiggled happily.  They had been itching to take down a tree, and they knew of the perfect elm nearby that would satisfy what their hedgehog friend needed.  

As the kettle began to whistle from the steam pressure building up inside of it, Pudgy turned back to the stove.  He busied himself with making tea, while the excited animals behind were all talking at once.  The group came to a consensus of opinion that it would be a very good idea to have a place where they could store supplies.  While everyone knew how to get to Cobalt’s house, now that the humans were gone, who knows what dangers may be along the way now and in the future?  Pudgy had his big room, so that would be fine for now, to store supplies.  As the hedgehog nodded, he wrote down the ideas using his crayon.  He also got out a second piece of paper, and started to make a map of the area.  The bunnies really liked the map, and kept pawing at the paper, having him add things to it.  

Once the tea was ready, the hedgehog host walked around the room and poured the steaming beverage into the tiny cups he served with.  With one exception, the beavers had decided to snaw and eat their wooden cups.  Pudgy laughed, and went to get them new cups and filled with tea.  “Pudgy needs ceramic cups for beaver friends …. hmm…. Cobalt took Pudgy to the pottery place.  They had a big oven in the back where the clay things would be baked and make them real hard.  Pudgy wonder if that would be a good idea, hey Billie can you write down pottery on paper?”  The bunny looked important, and started carefully writing pottery on the list of things.  His counterpart Bobbie was busy putting all the shortcut trails on the map, and having a fun time.  She found the other crayon pieces, so she had colors to play with!

As the hours passed, it soon started to grow dark outside.  The beavers said their goodbyes, and headed back to their pond.  Their minds were full of all sorts of projects, and trees to gnaw upon.  The bunnies and field mice left next, waving and scampering off.  Soon it was just Argente and Pudgy once again in the hedgehog’s underground home.  The two friends were looking at the pieces of paper, filled with ideas and maps.  The female fox giggled, “I think we are going to be very busy soon.  But, this means that you can not leave Pudgy.  Your adventuring days are over, at least for now.”  The hedgehog nodded, “Pudgy thinks so too.  The owls may come back one day, since Pudgy is now part of their Parliament.”

Outside of the home, there were calls in the woods from something that sounded like a dog.  But it was too high pitched to be a dog, so Pudgy wiggled his nose.  “What is that, Argente?”  The female fox wiggled her ears, “coyote calls.  They have been around the forest, and move around mainly at night.  Pudgy, since you left, the calls are becoming more frequent.  I think as long as we leave them alone, they should leave us alone.  But it would make sense to not be out and about past dark.  Cobalt and the other humans had discouraged them from coming too close here, but now that they are gone .. they are creeping closer.”  

The hedgehog scampered over and shut his door, and then returned to Argente to hug her. “Well, that means you have to spend the night.”  The critter chuckled, and smiled when she returned the hug.  It was a warm evening, plus the wood stove was still going, so the hedgehog’s home was roasty toasty.  There was no need for blankets, and soon both Argente and Pudgy were fast asleep.  The night was quiet, save for the occasional coyote call.  Both slept deeply and Pudgy had a night of dreamless sleep.  Argente did have a strange dream of a new comer arriving, but it was so blurry, she could not figure out who it was?  That made her narrow her eyes for a moment, before she closed them and fell back to sleep once again.  

The morning came, and soon both friends awoke.  Pudgy headed to his front door to open it, and allow his fox friend to run around outside for a bit.  The hedgehog headed to his bathroom, and after getting ready for the day, he went to the sink and washed his paws.  There was still tea left over from the evening before, so he poured two cups of cool tea.  Then checking his cupboards, he found he still had gingersnap cookies left.  After carefully clearing the kitchen table, and setting the paper in a safe spot, he laid out the table with breakfast.  Checking his supplies, he knew that given what was on hand, he could last for around a week or so.  The little hedgehog relied and depended on his human friend so much, that now that he was gone, the realization was growing that life would be very different. 

Argente returned shortly, and squeezed through the front door again.  She giggled, and then headed over to Pudgy’s table.  Seeing breakfast was set out, she wiggled her ears.  “Thank you Pudgy,” she said while giggling.  The two friends sat on the ground at the low table, and nibbled on their cookies.  Pudgy looked at his fox friend, “are we still going to Cobalt’s house?”  Argente nodded, “yes.  I think the little cart that I used is over at his house.  I want to bring it back here, so we have it.  Plus we can see if he has any food that we can bring back?”  The hedgehog nodded, while sipping from his mug of tea.  

After the two had finished their light meal, Pudgy cleaned up the table and dishes.  Then he went to get his mining helmet and backpack once more.  Putting them on, Argente gave him a look. “What are those for, Pudgy?”  The hedgehog wiggled his nose, “Pudgy wants to be prepared.  Plus, Pudgy can put stuff in Pudgy’s backpack to bring back.”  The fox nodded, and followed him out of the home.  After she squeezed out through the front door once again, the hedgehog shut and locked his door.  They two scampered through the tall grass of the forest floor, and to the creek.  Across the creek they went, up the hill, past the thorn bush, to reach the scary road with the delivery trucks.  Argente paused and looked in both directions, “Pudgy …. the road is silent … look over there.”  

At the end of the road, the road turned to the left, and a couple of homes were along the bend.  The brown delivery truck that never stopped, had run over a metal guard rail and crashed into the front of the home.  There were clear signs of the home catching fire, as there were blackened burnt wood everywhere.  The truck had exploded , embedding metal shrapnel into everything around it.  Pudgy frowned, “brown truck human driver must have vanished, causing truck to crash.  Pudgy hope home was empty when it happened … oh no, look.”  The other truck, a big white one was rolled over and laying against the house beside it.  The truck was blocking the road, so now there was no way to get past the barricade.

The two critters looked left and right again, and then scampered across the road quickly.  Up the hill they went, to reach the grassy backyards of the homes that ran along the hill.  The next indication that the humans were gone, was that the grass normally reached Pudgy’s under belly, and was now towering above everything.  The grass was growing taller than a wooden split rail fence that ran along some of the back yards.  With Argente leading the way, Pudgy followed her, as they pushed the grass away as they travelled.  Behind the human homes they passed, foul stenches were coming out of the homes.  Argente coughed, “what is that horrible smell Pudgy?”  The hedgehog nodded, “Pudgy think is garbage rotting.  Cobalt would pack up trash, and big blue trucks come once a week to get it.  Now no more humans, no more trucks …”

After a couple of houses, the two made it to the back patio of their human friend Cobalt’s home.  From the outside, everything looked fine.  The air conditioner still had the black tarp over it for the winter, and was stained heavily from weather and birds doing what birds do.  The wooden deck rails were ripped apart by carpenter bees, and woodpeckers.  The hedgehog paused when he reached the tiny hedgehog sized door in the basement wall.  Argente padded up behind her friend, and hugged him from the side.  “I know Pudgy, let’s go in.”  The hedgehog sniffed his nose, and hoped beyond all hope, that his human friend was inside.  Pudgy knew Cobalt was gone, but the thought of his friend sitting there and watching some silly thing on television, made his heart hurt and long for his friend to return.

Pudgy unlocked the door, and entered the basement.  It was hot and stuffy, but seemed otherwise alright.  The first thing they noticed was all the little lights that would normally be on from power strips, surge protectors, night lights, etc; were all off.  The home was dead silent, and the officer where his friend worked was full of possessions, but no human occupant.  Argente padded past Pudgy, and found the little cart that she used underneath a table.  She pushed it out with her nose, and then headed towards the door.  “I found the cart Pudgy, let us see what else we can find.  Pudgy … Pudgy where are you?”  The fox had lost the hedgehog, so she started to explore the basement.  At the foot of the steps that led to the second floor, she found her friend running up the ramp.

Pudgy kept calling out, “COBALT, COBALT, WHERE ARE YOU?” There was no response, the home was empty.  Argente padded silently behind her friend, as he explored the entire house, and found no sign of the man.  When they had reached the main bedroom, Pudgy climbed up on the bed, and laid in the center crying.  He could smell Cobalt everywhere, but there was no physical presence.  The female fox heard the whimpers and wails of her hedgehog friend.  Instead of going to his side, she decided to let him cry alone in peace.  The fox took the opportunity to look around the home, to see if she could find anything that might be useful to them.  

On the second floor of the home, it was so hot and stuffy, that it was hard to breathe even for a critter.  After Pudgy had time to compose himself, he scurried down the bedspread, and then joined his fox friend at the top of the stairs.  Argente looked sad, “I was hoping we would find him too Pudgy.  Looks like the humans really are gone now, I hated them for what they did to my mother.  But you showed me, and your friend’s actions for that matter, that not all humans were bad.  Perhaps what the shaman told you will come to be, and the humans do return as animals one day.  I suspect we will see Cobalt again, someday Pudgy.  Now, let us find good things to eat, and bring back to your home.”

The hedgehog nodded silently, and slid down a ramp that was attached to the stairs.  In reality, it was a platform for a chair lift that had been installed by a prior homeowner, but for a hedgehog it was a ramp to get upstairs and a slide to go downstairs.  Argente giggled as she watched him slide down, and she followed carefully going down the stairs.  After a couple of minutes passed, they were on the main floor, and made it into the kitchen.  The big silver refrigerator was quiet, and a foul odor was coming from it. “All the food in the fridge went bad, oh look over there!”  There were plastic shopping bags on the ground, and accessible by the two animals.  

Inside the bags they found flour, walnuts, pecans, peanuts, honey, brown sugar, beef jerky.  There were many other shelf stable foods that the man had purchased for both his home and Pudgy’s.  There were also many cans of food, but that presented a problem.  The cans were heavy, and while they could be rolled, they needed a can opener to access the contents within.  None of the animals could work one of those devices, so the antagonizing thought of yummy food hidden away made both fox and hedgehog wiggle their noses in frustration.  Pudgy also found powdered milk, tea packets, and other things that would make life much easier over in the forest.   Argente giggled, and then started to push the bags through the kitchen, down the hall, and down the steps to the basement.  Pudgy also helped, and after an hour or so, had moved all the bags they could access.  

He scampered back to the kitchen and saw a bag of potatoes growing like crazy, sending roots in all directions.  That triggered a thought, and he chewed through the plastic bag to let the potatoes roll out onto the floor.  Grabbing a small potato, he carried it to the steps, and tossed it down.  It bounced down the stairs, and hit Argente on the rear end.  The fox yipped at him in an annoyed tone, which caused Pudgy to scamper down the steps. “Pudgy sorry, Pudgy sorry, Pudgy sorry, Pudgy sorry!”  The fox giggled, and then was being hugged frantically by her friend.  Looking at the potato, Argente wiggled her ears. “I’m ok Pudgy, what is that for?”  The hedgehog looked up at her, “Potatoes grow like crazy in the dirt, and were growing upstairs in the kitchen.  Pudgy can plant this, and in time we will have more potatoes than we know what to do with.”

The fox nodded, and the two friends continued to move the bags of food towards the patio door.  While moving the bags, they found other bags of food in the basement.  There were more cans of things, which did not do them any good, but they did find hard candy and chocolates.  As the two animals arranged the food along Cobalt’s office desk in the basement, just from what they had found, Pudgy and friends going for over a month.  Argente pushed the cart through the hedgehog sized door, and it got stuck.  But Pudgy remembered when Cobalt made it, and the sides could come off.  So with some minor changes, the cart fit through the door.  The hedgehog reassembled the sides, and then started to make trips in and out of the basement to load the cart.  Pudgy also stuffed his backpack full of things, as well as the tiny pouch bags he used for extra supplies on the longer adventures.  Soon he was fully loaded with food, and there was still much left.

Outside the fox was checking the cart, and it was fully loaded.  “Ok that is it Pudgy, the cart won’t hold any more.  We can come back again when this runs out.  Maybe Mr. Bear knows how to use a can opener?  If so, he can open the cans for us.”  Pudgy emerged from the home, and shut the hedgehog sized door behind him and secured it.  He hooked up the cart to Argente, and soon she was ready to go.  After taking one last look at the door and the home Pudgy wistfully said, “bye Cobalt, thank you for getting us food.  We will be back to visit again soon.”  The hedgehog started to whimper again, and followed the cart being pulled by Argente.  Even The fox was a bit misty eyed, from the reaction and words of her hedgehog friend.  

Through the tall grass of the back yards they went, down the hill, across the silent road with crashed delivery trucks, past the thorn bush, across the creek, and up the small hill to Pudgy’s home they went.  The bunnies were playing along the creek, splashing each other with water, when they sat Pudgy and Argente fully loaded with items.  They hopped up to say hi, and investigated what was brought back.  Argente was overheated and tired when she reached the home, as today was much warmer than yesterday.  While she rested, she watched her hedgehog friend scamper back and forth.  Sometimes she wondered where this well of energy came from, and how she could access it sometimes.  She giggled, when soon Pudgy brought her cups of water to drink.  

Back and forth, and back and forth again, the little hedgehog moved.  Taking the supplies into his underground home, and securing them away.  Soon the cart was empty, and occupied by a fluffy bunny rabbit, who was sticking his tongue out at the pouting bunny outside of the cart.  After Pudgy had put away the supplies, he stood at his front door and smiled at his woodland friends.  Argente had agreed to pull the bunnies around one by one in the cart.  The bunny riding cheered, while the bunny waiting pouted, and Pudgy chuckled.  It was good to be home, with his friends.

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 “Moon Cry: Chapter 9: Village”

Glad Pudgy made it back home, the fate of the brown truck and the scene at Cobalt’s house devastated me; but I’m glad the forest critters are doing what they can to move on.


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