Cobalt was sitting on his rear end, and watched as his long tail began to wrap around. “I never had a tail before, so unsure how I did that.” The former human said while Mr. Bear was busy slurping a can of peaches. The rain had finally stopped, and the skies had cleared. The sun was just starting to set behind the hills, though it was still bright out. The large brown bear nodded, “it will be quite an adjustment for you Cobalt. But, I must admit, I am glad you came back with claws, and not as a bunny. It would have made today much harder.” The dragon nodded and laughed softly, “isn’t that the truth. Well, we did tell Pudgy and everyone to stay inside till we got back. We should probably head back, to check for coyotes again. Are you feeling better?”
The large brown bear nodded, and got a thoughtful look. “Yes, but do you have any cookies? I am sure a sweet treat will go a long way for those in Pudgy’s home.” As Cobalt nodded and stood up, he backed into his home once again. The wagon he used to carry supplies to and from Pudgy’s home was sitting beside his wet bar. While grinning, the dragon opened the cabinets, and got out many packs of cookies. Filled cookies, solid cookies, ginger snaps, chocolate coated ones, all manner of sweet treats. He filled the wagon, along with many other food stuff, that were shelf stable. He also included a couple of cans of assorted food, including condensed milk.
Thinking about his tail, he wondered if it could loop around the handle of the wagon. Sure enough it did, and the dragon was walking out of the basement with the wagon in tow. As he exited the home through the patio door once more, he pulled the wagon out into the overgrown yard. As Mr. Bear got to his feet, he walked over and sniffed at the contents. “Oh ….Pudgy will lose his mind with this bounty. Cobalt, how are you doing on food?” The dragon had pulled the patio door shut, and was working the mechanical lock to secure the door. As he turned around, “well, our feast depleted my supplies quite a bit. I used to be able to eat a lot, but not like this.” The bear nodded, and watched the dragon’s tail wrap around the handle of the wagon, and start to pull it behind him as he walked through the tall grass.
“I do not know anything about Dragons, but speaking for bears, we do eat a lot. I can show you some things, but we need to figure out the food situation. The critters are talking about planting, and even had taken a potato from your house recently.” The dragon nodded as he walked, “that is a good idea. Over the hill from here, down the road, is that grocery store with the hardware store in the basement. If there are no humans, that means no money, which means…” The bear nodded, “I thought that myself, but Cobalt the fresh things must have rotted by now. But the shelves should still be fine. I am unsure what would be left, though. The humans were panicking when the disappearances were going on.”
The two large animals headed through the backyards, and down the hill to the scary road with the delivery trucks. Cobalt turned his head and saw the brown delivery truck wedged into the front of the house at the end of the road. The white truck was on its side, blocking the road a bit further down. “Well, guess the packages aren’t getting delivered now.” The former human said with a smirk, and continued across the road. The normally well kept grass along the roads were overgrown, the trees were starting to hang low as the branches grew out unimpeded. The world was changing, with nature taking over once more. It was almost as if the trees seemed greener, and the air was fresher.
Mr. Bear walked up beside Cobalt, “yes I have noticed the trees too. They seem fuller, more full of life. I have been seeing more gold finches too in the trees. Their numbers were few, but somehow they are multiplying quickly.” The dragon nodded, “well, if the humans are being converted into animals, that would make sense. There were many extinct, and endangered animals. How many dragons have you seen out and about?” The bear laughed, “Xylenia, but she comes around Christmas time.” The two laughed, as Cobalt headed past the thorn bush. Down the hill they went, and across the creek. Cobalt saw the three sided log building started with the round millstones inside. Both large animals smiled, and continued to walk past the water wheel that spanned the creek, and up to Pudgy’s underground home.
The little round windows were shut, and the chimney was puffing white smoke. The big room’s doors were closed, though the front door to the hedgehog interior home was open. There was a field mouse standing inside, and waving. As the dragon strode slowly up to the home, his silver eyes looked at the timid mouse with a softness. “Hello Mr. Field mouse,” Cobalt said with a smile. A timid voice spoke, with a feminine tone. “Actually, it is Mrs. Field Mouse.” The former human blinked, surprised he could actually understand the mouse. “I am sorry … Mrs. Field Mouse. Is everyone inside still?” The mouse nodded, and called into the home. “Hey everyone, Cobalt came back with Mr. Bear!”
Soon after the announcement, critters began to peek out of the windows of Pudgy’s home. The hedgehog soon appeared in the doorway, and scampered out in front of his home. Cobalt watched tears start to form, and then the little critter was whimpering. Cobalt started to lower his body onto the ground, and then watched as Pudgy scampered up and hugged his leg. Mr. Bear chuckled as he strode up behind the dragon, and waved at the mouse in the doorway. Pudgy saw the bandages all over the brown bear, and he began to whimper again, running over to hug Mr. Bear’s leg.
Argente padded out of the underground home, and looked up at Cobalt in his new dragon form. She giggled, “I am really glad you did not come back as a small animal, Cobalt.” The former human nodded, and was amazed at the cross talk between the animals. The former human was starting to understand everything, and could hear the bunnies arguing inside of Pudgy’s home. As Cobalt turned his gaze back to Argente, he saw her walking around and looking at his body. She gently padded at his scaled body, and at the spikes along his tail. But then she saw the wagon, loaded with food. “Pudgy! Cobalt got into the house, and found cookies!”
The hedgehog stopped crying, and scampered over to the wagon, clearly seeing a box labeled molasses cookies inside. “Can you please open the big room Pudgy?” Cobalt asked as he started to stand back up on all fours. The dragon watched the hedgehog shoot past him, and into his home. Mr. Bear laughed, “sadness instantly gone, when the cookies arrived.” The big bifold round doors started to open, and Cobalt pulled the wagon in front of the doorway. Inside the room, Cobalt could see the banquette seat ripped apart on the right wall, and a new doorway leading through the back wall had been installed. The room which was tiny by human standards, was even more now that he was the size of Mr. Bear.
The little hedgehog looked up at him with expectant eyes, so he started to take out packages from the wagon. All sorts of wonderful sweet cookies were set out on the concrete floor around the hedgehog. It was sugar overload, and with the amount brought from the former human’s home, it would keep him going for months of parties. Two huge boxes of crackers, several pouches of freeze dried foods, as well as several cans were placed inside. Pudgy scampered around, bouncing happily, and looked up at the dragon. “Thank you Cobalt!” He kept saying over and over, while pushing the food items on the floor to several spots along the wall, and inside the left banquette seat. When Pudgy got to the cans, he frowned, “Cobalt …we can’t open cans.” The dragon grinned, and motioned with his four clawed paw. “I can open them with these.”
Pudgy sniffed at the can, and saw it said milk. The hedgehog looked up at his friend, “you brought milk!” Cobalt nodded, “that is condensed milk, which is shelf stable. You will need to add water to it to make it more like normal milk, but you can drink it that way. I suspect you would be bouncing up to your ceiling though.” The dragon said with a laugh, while watching Mr. Bear grin beside him. The arguing bunnies were growing louder, which drew a look from Cobalt. “Pudgy, what are the bunnies arguing about?” The hedgehog looked annoyed and pointed into his home. “Billie Bunny didn’t listen, and messed everything up!”
It was rare to see the little hedgehog angry. Cobalt nodded, “I see, was he hurt?” A gray fluffy bunny poked her face out from the interior door, “yes the big dummy head was! Pudgy had a good plan, and instead my idiot husband decided to lure the coyotes away all by himself. Pudgy got captured, Mr. Bear severely hurt, and then thank goodness you showed up Cobalt.” The dragon blinked, still in disbelief he could understand all of the animals. “yes, thank goodness …umm…” The female bunny hopped out into the big room and waved her paw, “I’m Bobbi Bunny, Billie is the big dummy head who is hurt inside. But I still love him,” The dragon nodded as the female rabbit ducked back inside the interior part of the hedgehog’s home, “nice to finally be able to talk to you for real now, Bobbi.”
The critters looked at themselves, and realized that Cobalt was talking to them and he understood their replies back. Argente giggled, “yes, Cobalt really can understand us. Though, I have a question … Cobalt, how could you understand Pudgy and myself when you were a human?” The former human nodded, “Pudgy learned how to speak my language when he was young. In time, I started to understand words he said too. We taught each other, and when you arrived, I was able to understand about half of what you said. The other half sounded like gibberish. It is amazing how much you actually are speaking, at least to me.” The fox giggled, and stuck her tongue out at him, and teased him making up nonsense words. That drew many giggles from the other animals, who bounced happily.
Pudgy raised his paw, “Cobalt, Can Pudgy ask you a question?” The dragon nodded, and smiled at his hedgehog friend. The critter timidly spoke with expectantly eyes, “what happened when you disappeared?” Cobalt’s eyes softened and he looked around at all of the animals, even noticing the bunnies were peeking at him as well. “You saw me when I disappeared, I said I felt strangely. I saw the whole world fade away, and soon I was in a light gray void. But strangely, it was not a scary void, and it almost felt like I was in a bathtub full of warm water. I was rocking gently to and fro, not cold, not hot, in a peaceful restful place. I do not know how much time I spent in that void, but all of a sudden, I could see the forest once more. Then the coyotes were attacking everyone, and I soon was pulled back into this world.”
The animals listened and started to have thoughtful looks form on their faces. What happened to Cobalt was scary, but the place he went to did not seem so bad. Pudgy immediately remembered the explanation by Painted Feather, that the world was formed from the great ocean. The critter wondered if that was where Cobalt and the other humans went to? Mr. Bear yawned, and gently patted Cobalt on the shoulder. “I am tired, so I want to head back to my cabin while there is still some daylight. Where are you going to sleep?” The dragon turned and nodded, “I plan on staying around here, just in case the coyotes decide to stop by again. Though, I am going to have to figure out what to do. My home across from the forest was meant for a human, and isn’t designed to be animal friendly. I will need to locate somewhere to live around here, especially now that there are predators around.”
The bear nodded, “tomorrow, head over to my cabin. It is time for bear school.” The dragon laughed and nodded, “thank you, see you tomorrow.” The critters all started to wave at Mr. Bear, as he departed. The dragon waved, and watched Mr. Bear disappear into the forest along the creek. Turning around again slowly, he watched as the field mice and hedgehog were already nibbling on cream filled cookies. Argente the silver fox was padding around, looking at all the wonderful food brought over. She looked up at Cobalt with a curious look, “where were all of these?” The dragon laughed, “in the wooden cabinets by the door. Mr. Bear and I got into the family sized cans of food, and ate our fill. I bought those for Pudgy parties, and for myself.”
The former human nodded again, “one of those cans used to last a week worth of meals when I was a human. This new body of mine seems to need more food than I used to need or want to eat. While my home still has food in various places, it will eventually run out. We might just need to head to the grocery store, and see what they have left?” The critters nodded and nibbled on their sugary delights. Cobalt continued to inspect the big meeting room that was currently in partial disarray, “Pudgy, I see you have been busy inside the big room. What happened?” The little hedgehog started to excitedly talk about the tunnel, and the new bunny warren, the new exit beside Argente’s house, and the planting beds in the clearing. The dragon listened and nodded while smiling, “I am glad you are adapting the big room to meet your needs Pudgy. Look at me, there is no way I can fit inside of there again.”
The hedgehog looked a bit sad, as it started to dawn on him how much bigger Cobalt was now. “Cobalt, what do you think we should do now with the room?” The dragon looked thoughtful, and then said “I think we should consider developing it further. If we were to remove the banquette seats, I could put a big piece of plywood onto where the seats are. This would give you a second floor to the room. While I no longer have hands, these claws seem to be able to grasp things. I can bring my tools over, and adapt your room further. Definitely more food storage, and perhaps a couple of critter rooms, if we have new friends join us here in the village.” The little critters all started to bounce happily when Cobalt mentioned the village.
The hedgehog bounced happily and nibbled the most wonderful cookie in the whole world. The little critter had not had anything with sugar in it for weeks. The addition of storage rooms, bins, and a whole second floor had not even crossed his mind. As the light faded outside, the stars started to shine in the night skies. Cobalt smiled, “no more light pollution …. you can really see the stars now.” As the little critters all looked out, and then started to yawn. Very carefully, Cobalt reached into the big room, and patted Pudgy gently with his paw. “Pudgy, you and your friends should secure the home. Then make a fire, and everyone go to sleep, since everyone had a very busy day.” The critters started to nod sleepily, and headed into the interior home. Pudgy scampered to secure the door to the tunnel, then back to Cobalt at the doorway.
“What will Cobalt do, you have nowhere to sleep here?” The dragon smiled once more, “I have slept for so long Pudgy, I am wide awake. Besides, I need to stay on guard in case of the coyotes returning. You will be fine, just keep the doors and windows locked. Good night Pudgy, “Cobalt said with a grin. The hedgehog yawned terribly, and then started to work the cranks to shut the big door. Slowly the illuminated big room disappeared, and a loud clunk sound was heard as the doors locked shut. In a minute or so, the hedgehog appeared in his kitchen window. Cobalt watched Mrs. Field Mouse wave from the front door, and then shut the door slowly closed. One by one the lights turned off, and the home grew dark, save for an errant flicker of light from the wood stove.
The former human was now alone in a dark forest, with the myriad of stars in the skies above. The moon was waning from an almost full moon. The craters seem so clean and defined, almost as if the dragon could touch them. His new body had normal vision, if not better vision than before, so thank goodness…no ..more …glasses! He chuckled softly to himself, and watched as the light from the moon caused the trees to cast long shadows. Somewhere far off, he could hear a faint cry from an owl and some bats fluttering in the skies above. Time passed, though to the former human, he had no sense of it anymore. Without constant electronic notifications, or wall clocks for that matter, he had no idea when it was. Nor did he know the date, though based on the warmth of the forest even at night, he suspected late spring to early summer. That meant he was missing in that void for almost two months.
The night passed slowly, and soon the twilight of morning began to form on the eastern horizon. To the dragon’s relief, the coyotes did not return. During the night, the former human learned the effects of canned cold raviolis on an animal digestive system. But cross that lesson of the list of things to learn, the dragon laughed as he headed to the creek. He was thirsty, and since the likelihood of water running in his home was next to nothing, he dipped his head down, to lower his mouth into the creek. The water had a bit of an off taste to it, but it didn’t seem to be bad. If he grew sick from the water, then it would be another lesson learned. But the other animals drank from the creek and had been ok this far, so he should be ok Cobalt thought to himself.
Walking slowly back up to the hedgehog’s home, he saw the front door open and his friend waving. “Good morning Pudgy, how did you sleep?” Cobalt asked with a smile, watching the hedgehog bounce happily once again. “Pudgy slept good, all set to go to bear school!” The former human laughed, “Pudgy ..Mr. Bear was going to show me a few things on how to be an animal. I don’t think you should attend.” Well that was the wrong statement, because the little hedgehog started to pout terribly. The little critter then began to wail, “PUDGY WANNA GO TO BEAR SCHOOL!” Then after recovering a bit, he started to whimper, “Pudgy want to learn secret bear things too! No fair, Pudgy be good, please Cobalt! Pudgy wanna go to bear school!”
The dragon started to laugh, and then eased his body down to the ground. “All right … all right .. Pudgy can come to bear school. Climb up on my back,” Cobalt said, while watching the little hedgehog lock his front door and scamper quickly onto the former human’s back. The dragon stood up and started to walk down the slight hill, past the beaver pond. The beavers were playing happily in their pond, and waved at Pudgy as he passed by on Cobalt’s back. Down the stream they went, over several waterfalls, then made the right turn to go up the hill. Past the big granite boulder, past the grove of pine trees, and up to Mr. Bear’s cabin in the forest clearing. The cabin door opened, and Mr. Bear walked out. He waved his paw, and laughed when he saw the little hedgehog clinging to a spine on the dragon’s back.
“I see Pudgy pouted, Cobalt?” The jovial brown bear said, while waving to Pudgy as well. Cobalt laughed, “yes, he was quite insistent on wanting to come to bear school.” To the dismay of Pudgy, it was BORING! Mr. Bear spoke about such topics of where to go, and not go in the forest. Then it was a discussion and field trip to see plants safe to eat, and not safe to eat. Then off to the creek, which was much deeper behind the bear’s clearing. Cobalt remarked, “I don’t think we ever went this far in the woods?” The large brown bear nodded, “while humans developed much around and in the forest, there are still wild areas in hidden places. Though I suspect now, the wild will retake this world once more. Now, let us discuss food … this may upset Pudgy. Pudgy, do you want to scamper off and play?”
The hedgehog looked at Mr. Bear, “yes please.” The dragon lowered himself, and felt the hedgehog slide off his back. “Pudgy do not wander off too far, even though we are here, the coyotes may still be around.” The hedgehog nodded, and then scampered off to a nearby pine tree. The hedgehog started gathering pine cones, so he could play with them. The brown bear turned his head back to Cobalt, “Cobalt … we are meat eaters. This means we need to hunt to survive. I do not hunt where Pudgy and his friends are, as it would upset them too much. Human sources of food were a prime target, but they will be drying up quickly, and soon will be nonexistent. I am unsure what dragons eat, but for bears …fish is what I prefer. This creek has plenty, but not at all times of the year.”
The brown bear showed Cobalt how to catch a fish, and after several attempts, Mr. Bear got one and started to eat. The former human heard the fish cry out, before it was snapped in twain by the bear’s powerful jaws. The dragon frowned, “I can see why Pudgy should not have come today. I heard the fish,” the dragon said softly. Mr. Bear nodded, “it is nature, as the way Gaia intended. My Father told me of a bear story from the great island, that all animals are in a cycle. When one dies, another is born. So while the fish did die to sustain me, it will come back in another form. When my time comes to depart this world, I will return once more in a new form.” The dragon nodded, “it’s reincarnation, except instead of coming back as humans, it is animals.”
As the brown bear nodded, he watched Cobalt studying the deep creek. As the water flowed, the dragon opened his mouth, and then plunged his head sharply down into the water. Pulling back up out of the water, the dragon had snagged a perch from the creek. It was not as big as the one that the bear had been able to catch. But Cobalt was happy to have lucked out on the first try, and started to chew. The former human had never eaten any meat before raw, so it had an unusual texture. The brown bear laughed, “beginner’s luck, but that is how you catch fish. To pass bear school, you have to be a bear, so you technically fail. But, since you are a dragon, this was a non accredited course for fun, so there is no grade.”
The dragon laughed, but started coughing as a bone got stuck in his throat. To Mr. Bear’s surprise, not only did the bone come out with the cough, but also a couple ice pellets. “Cobalt…you…just coughed up ice?” The former human chuckled, “oh… that feels so much better. I have had this lump in my throat for a couple hours now. Hey .. let us go find Pudgy. It is too quiet.” The bear nodded as he investigated the ice pellets lodged in a nearby tree. “Ice breath …this sounds familiar. Maybe that one book about fantasy games has some information,” the bear trailed off as he turned to follow the dragon up the path back to the clearing. The two large animals eventually found Argente the silver fox playing with Pudgy. They had set up the pine cones to do lawn bowling, and they were having quite a fun time playing.
Argente waved her paw at Cobalt and Mr. Bear as they walked slowly up to where the game had been set up. The little hedgehog had lost focus on bear school entirely, and had located enough pine cones to set up a small bowling area. An acorn was used as the ball, and it would knock over the cones. The silver fox was giggling, and helping to set the cones back up. She had trouble with the acorn, so Pudgy was doing all the bowling. Mr. Bear laughed, “ok, school is over for today. Let us head to my cabin, I will put some tea on. I think I have a few honey cookies left too. Cobalt has suggested that one day we head down the road, to where the grocery and hardware store is. I am unsure what we will find, but anything will help bolster our supplies.”
The animals fell into line behind the large brown bear as he walked over to his cabin. Cobalt was quickly passed by Argente when they got to the porch, and soon Pudgy scampered past as well. They took their normal spots on the covered porch, while Cobalt stood outside of the porch. The dragon was too big to fit, as the remaining space was just enough for their host Mr. Bear. The day had started out cloudy, but had now cleared up with a bright blue sky overhead. The sun was warm and bright, having warmed things up nicely. The former human laughed, as Pudgy bounced happily and hugged Argente. Inside the home, their host was busy making refreshments. Argente saw that the dragon had a thoughtful look, “what is it Cobalt?”
Cobalt chuckled, “well I just realized that we went to bear school. The bunnies may be upset when we get back.” Argente giggled, “you know it. But it is best for Billie to rest and recover, given the severity of his injuries. Cobalt, we used much of Pudgy’s first aid supplies to help him. Do you have more?” The dragon nodded, “upstairs on the second floor of my home. But I have been thinking, and feel it is best for me to move into the forest somewhere. Mr. Dinosaur at one end, and Mr. Bear at the other, was enough deterrent to keep the coyotes at bay. If they were to return …” The silver fox nodded, “I agree with your thinking Cobalt. But where will you live, it can’t be in Pudgy’s home, it’s too small?”
As Mr. Bear pushed out a pale wood wheeled cart with mugs of steaming tea, and a platter of honey cookies, he nodded. “I think your moving idea is best as well Cobalt.” The dragon nodded, “then we’re in agreement. I found a cave, which may be suitable for my needs, as long as I do not grow any more. Mr. Dinosaur’s cave will remain empty for now, as we do not know if he will return one day?” Pudgy wiggled and waved at his friend, “Cobalt, where is the cave?” The former human nodded again, “up towards where the leyline grove is located. It is off to the side, and I think some coyotes had originally started to use it when they came around. I am going to be busy, since a move means that anything of use will need to be hauled from the house to the cave. Also to Pudgy’s home as well, because I want to build out that big room for him.”
The hedgehog wiggled his nose, and watched as a mug of tea was carefully set down in front of him and Argente. The bear’s paws were massive, but he had grown accustomed to using his claws in unique ways to grasp things. “Thank you Mr. Bear,” the hedgehog said happily. Mr. Bear grinned, and then sat down one honey cookie for the hedgehog and the fox. As Mr. Bear stood back up proper, he looked at Cobalt. “Build out Pudgy’s home, what do you mean?” The dragon nodded, “the banquette is a good support structure to put in a second floor in the room. I still have plywood, and several other materials to use. We will outfit the room in such a way that Pudgy can store many things, including new friends should they need a place to stay. I suspect, as the humans come back, we will be very busy. Argente may need to teach fox school.”
Argente giggled happily, and watched as Pudgy wiggled his nose again. “PUDGY WANNA GO TO FOX SCHOOL!” The hedgehog shouted, and started to bounce excitedly. Everyone started to laugh heartilly, and watched as Cobalt reached onto the cart to pick up a bear sized mug of tea. The former human could not pick up the cookie, so he said to give it to Pudgy. Of course once Mr. Bear handed the cookie to Pudgy, he wanted to share it, so it was split in half. Argente nibbled the cookie, and wiggled her ears at the hedgehog. The animals laughed, and sipped their tea, watching as the clouds floated in the skies. There were no more trails of exhaust from planes flying, and no medical helicopters for that matter just skirting the treetops.. The skies were clear, except for the birds who chirped happily as they flew overhead.
After the cookies were eaten, the tea was drunk, and many happy things were discussed; it was time to head back. Cobalt eased down, and watched as both Pudgy and Argente hugged Mr. Bear’s legs. Thanks for the refreshment,as well as for letting them come to Bear School were made by the happy critters. Cobalt thanked Mr. Bear as well, and watched as the critters climbed up his side and onto his back. The dragon stood up, waved at Mr. Bear, slowly turned around, and then began to head down the path. The brown bear waved happily, and watched the dragon disappear behind the pine trees. Sighing happily, the bear started to clean up the cups, and just before he was about to pull the cart back inside he saw movement at the end of the clearing. A very large bear, with graying fur was walking up from the opposite end of the clearing. With a bit of shock to his voice he said, “Father … what is he doing here?”
Meanwhile the dragon had walked past the pine trees, down the hill past the granite boulder, made the left at the creek, and started to walk up the creek banks. There were three waterfalls to ascend, which was not hard for Cobalt. Argente was having fun riding on the dragon’s back, holding onto a spine that was jutting out. “It is not often I get to ride somewhere.” The female fox said happily, and held on tighter to the spire as the dragon climbed each waterfall. Cobalt’s silver eyes all of a sudden appeared at the crest of the beaver dam. The beaver was not expecting it, and dove immediately under water. Then two sets of beaver eyes were staring back, which made the former human laugh. “Hello Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, it’s Cobalt.” The two beavers wiggled their paws at him, and then returned to swimming around in the pond. Both hedgehog and fox waved at the beavers as they headed past, and soon saw Pudgy’s underground home appear.
Pudgy pondered, “Cobalt … can you make Pudgy doors bigger? Argente is having trouble getting in and out?” The dragon did not look back, but nodded his head as he walked. “I think that is a good idea. However, not your front door, I want to remove the bifold doors to the big room. I will make a door that is double the size of your front door, as well as double the interior door size as well. That should future proof your home to animals getting older and bigger. I need to get my tools, and supplies over here.” As Cobalt slowed to a stop, he saw two very pouty bunnies sitting in front of Pudgy’s home with their paws crossed. Their noses twitched, and they were making angry eyes at them. In unison the two gray fluffy bunnies shouted, “YOU WENT TO BEAR SCHOOL WITHOUT US!”
The dragon eased down, and felt his riders slide off of his back. The former human laughed, “well technically Pudgy and Argente were not supposed to go either. It was supposed to be just Mr. Bear and myself, but Pudgy pouted. Argente followed to find Pudgy, and besides you two … Billie needs to recover. How can Billie recover without Bobbi bunny?” The bunnies twitch their noses at the dragon, “no fair! You snuck off without us!” As Pudgy scampered up, and wiggled his nose, “it was boring. It really was school, teaching Cobalt how to be an animal. Pudgy was bored, so played a game with Argente knocking pine cones over.” Bobbi Bunny engaged the super mega pout, “and there were games too?” Billie stuck his nose up in the air, and limped back inside. “Come Bobbi, we will have bunny school! And Pudgy, Argente, and Cobalt can not attend!” The female rabbit nodded, and hopped slowly behind her husband back into and through Pudgy’s home.
Argente giggled, “told you.” Cobalt nodded, “I think next time I attend bear school, I will not tell anyone.” The hedgehog pouted, “oh sure, sneak off and have tea again without Pudgy!” The trio of friends then started to laugh, and look around the forest. It was still light out, and the sun was not not about to set any time soon. “Pudgy, I will take the wagon and head back to my home. I am going to start making trips, bringing supplies here. Obviously, we do not need anything computer wise. Can I store the tools in the big room for now?” The hedgehog nodded and bounced happily, “sure Cobalt! Can Pudgy come with Cobalt to get things?” The dragon smiled and nodded, easing back down so the hedgehog could climb up.” The fox nodded, “I need to attend to a few things here, so I will be around.”
Pudgy decided to leave his home open, since Argente and his friends would be in and out of it all day while he would be with Cobalt. The wagon was still wher ehe had left it, so cobalt used his tail to grab the handle, turned, and then started to head off to his home on the edge of the forest. The hedgehog watched his home slowly shrink away, as Cobalt crosssed the creek and headed up the hill to the thorn bush. Across the scary road where the delivery trucks used to drive, up the hill, and through the overgrown backyads behind the homes that ran along the forest.
Pudgy marvelled at how high the grass had grown, and it was almost over the top of the split rail wooden fence that ran along the edge of the hill. The familiar sight of Cobalt’s house soon appeared, and a pile of empty cans laying beside the patio door. Pudgy wiggled his nose, and watched as the wagon was soon moved into position beside the patio. Cobalt headed to his patio door, and worked the mechnical lock with its secret combination. The door popped open, and a hideous smell came out of the home. “Ewww, Cobalt what is that smell?” Pudgy said while holding his nose with one paw, and the spire on the dragon’s back with his other paw. The dragon sighed, “I think the food is rotting upstairs, and probably the trash too. We need to investigate further.”
As Cobalt wiggled his way through the patio door into the partially illuminated basement, he too smelled the bad odor. Upon reaching the basement steps, it took multiple tries, before he could finally bend the right way to be able to start climbing the stairs. The top of the stairs was also a bit of a trick to squeeze through, but he was able to do so. The foul odor indeed was coming from the kitchen, and it was the garbage rotting in the trash can. Taking a breath, he opened the refridgerator doors, and an even worse smell and sludge came out. Pudgy felt sick, and immediately threw up. “I agree Pudgy, this is bad. I think the food is ruined up here, I know that refridgerator is toast now. look at the electrical plugs ..” Each plug had a black scorch mark on the outlets, meaning several power surges msut have come through during the brown outs from the power company.
Passing through the kitchen, the dragon headed to his front door, and opened it wide. The front yards were similiarly overgrown. His big red vehicle was missing its tires, the hood was open, and it looked like the engine was missing too. “I can understand the tires, but who would take the engine? I guess I’ll need to file a claim … oh wait…” The dragon laughed as he backed up, and then turned down the hall. He opened the sliding door for the deck, to get a good cross breeze blowing and air out the house. Pudgy was feeling better, as the smell was now starting to dissipate. Cobalt turned his attention back to the kitchen, to address the odor situation. The dragon felt Pudgy hop off his back, and watched him scamper up the stair ramp to get to the second floor. “Pudgy going to look for stuff Cobalt!”
Cobalt found maneuvering his home extremely difficult, as he was much longer now. The upper cabinets were hard to reach, even if he stood up on his hind legs. As the world had gone to hell and a handbasket, he decided to just throw all of the garabe out his front door and into the terribly messy flower bed. The HOA can send him a letter, the dragon didn’t care. Thank goodness he had wet cloths, and other premade cleaning supplies, so he was able to rectify the rotting food situation. But as he added the dollars up, the former human shook his head at how much had been wasted. His hedgehog friend was busy upstairs, so Cobalt did not worry. The kitchen was emptied of anything that was bad and the front door was shut. The dragon craned his neck around the staircase railing, “Pudgy, all the food in the kitchen went bad, so I had to throw it out. Are you ok up there?”
The little hedgehog peeked from the top of the stairs, “Pudgy ok. Cobalt, there are all these funy brown circles on your ceilings upstairs.” The dragon grumbled, “roof leaks, great. Pudgy, there’s no way I can fix that given my current form. And the people that could be called, all are gone. Every time it rains, it will get worse. We need to get anything of possible use out of the upstairs and into the basement.” The hedgehog nodded, and then scampered off again. It took awhile, and with much effort for the dragon to get upstairs. Cobalt was stuck multiple times, and out of sheer frustration, rampped the bannister, and broke it off. The broken wood parts were then tossed downstairs with a terrific clang. Pudgy wiggled his nose, and bounced happily when he saw his friend open the hallway closet.
They did not need electronics, computers, furniture, or any other human comforts. So with the hedgehog’s help, the upstairs was emptied of anything useful they could find. When the world was going to end in 2012, Cobalt had bought too many first aid supplies, but this turned out to be a good thing with Pudgy’s myriad adventures. Pudgy slid down the ramp to the huge pile of things that had formed at the base of the stairs on the main floor. Cobalt looked around his home, and sighed a bit, “this is a good home. I am going to miss it, but I have a new home with Pudgy and his friends.” The dragon nodded, and maneuvered the hallway and stairs to join his hedgehog friend. Then began the task of getting the materials to the basement, which Pudgy enjoyed because he got throw stuff.
The main floor did not have much for their needs, though if necessary, Cobalt could raid the home for raw materials for the forest. The cabinets were old, but the wood could be repurposed if need be. The big couch and television set were of no use to them, as there was no power anymore. Pudgy’s home’s water wheel could never generate enough juice to run that set anyway. “Ya know Pudgy, I could cut these area rugs up, and put carpet in your home.” The hedgehog rubbed his chin with his paw, “Pudgy unsure, maybe another day?” The dragon nodded as he locked the front door, and then moved the huge pile of things to the top of the basement steps, and rolled it down the stairs.
A muffled voice called out from downstairs, and Pudgy watched as Argente peeked out from a blanket. Pudgy waved, “hi Argente, we are getting stuff from upstairs. We will be down soon!” Pudgy watched as Cobalt shut his deck’s patio door, and locked it. In the rooms upstairs, as well as on ths floor, the former human opened the curtains. This way the rooms would be illuminated when they would have to come back. After making a pass through his home to check if everything was secure, Cobalt queezed through the doorway, and headed down the stairs to the basement. Along the way, he noticed the deep gouges and scratches in the drywall. His body was causing much damage to the home, which only reinforced the need to find a more suitable place to reside.
As the dragon made it downstairs to the cool basement, he saw that Pudgy and Argente were already moving items and making piles. “Good job you two,” Cobalt complimented them. The former human then headed into the mechanical room. It was extremely difficult to maneuver, and Cobalt was knocking too many things over for his liking. But in time, the tools were moved out into the basement proper. The wagon soon started to fill up, with supplies and tools. Argente had brought her cart, and it too was filled to almost overflowing. Pudgy was amazed at how much was pulled out from Cobalt’s home, and they were not done yet. Cobalt exited his home, and shut the patio door. Working the mechanical lock, he set the combination, and secured the door. “Ok everyone, let us head back to Pudgy’s home.”
In the hours that followed, while the sun was still shining, the friends made multiple trips back and forth from Cobalt’s house to Pudgy’s home. The big room was soon almost overlowing with tools and supplies. The last load of the day was plywood, boards, and other raw materials for the hedgehog’s home expansion. A very tired hedgehog was clutching onto Cobalt’s back spires, and wiggled his nose. “Pudgy tired Cobalt, can we stop for the day?” The dragon nodded as he passed the thorn bush, and headed down the gill towards the creek. “I agree Pudgy.” When the two friends arrived at the hedgehog’s home, they found a very curious set of bunnies peering into the full big room from outside the door.
“Hello Bobbi, how is Billie doing?” Cobalt asked while a concerned smile, and watched as the female rabbit turned. “He is doing better, he is healing nicely. Cobalt, what is all of this stuff?” Pudgy slipped from the dragon’s back and tiredly scampered up to his bunny friend, “we are emptying Cobalt’s home of things we can use. Cobalt will be joining us in the forest to live.” The female rabbit smiled as she twitched her nose. “I do not think you will fit in the house Cobalt?” The rabbit said with a small laugh, which resulted in a louder laugh from the former human. “I agree … you know that cave up near the leyline node? I think it will work for my needs? All I need is a place to sleep, especially when winter comes.”
The lumber could stay outside, and while Pudgy scampered into his big room to swing the doors shut, Cobalt secured the wagon and placed the lumber out so it would not fall. The dragon yawned for the first time, and eased down to the ground, and started to curl around into a partial semi circle. His eyes grew heavy, and soon fluttered shut. It was late during the cool night when he heard an owl calling out in the woods somewhere. Opening his eyes, Cobalt looked up at the moon floating in the night sky. The world had changed, he had changed, and everything was different. The future was uncertain, but the forest was full of friends and love. The dragon smiled as he was about to curl up to sleep once more, when he noticed the stars moving in the skies. The dragon cried out, “what is going on with the stars?!?!”
A large cluster of stars moved in the skies, and formed what appeared to be a large bear’s face. As the dragon stood up and looked at the constellations changing, he saw Orion disappear as the bear’s large paw scattered the hunter away. Far away along the ridgeline, he could see the constellation Draco moving. It was not the time of year for Draco to be visible, which made the former human worry so much he could no longer sleep. The normal bear constellation: Ursa Major also moved to sit beside the new face in the sky. A dull growl filled the air, deep and guttural. The face slowly began to disappear star by star, until it faded away. The original bear constelation looked at the moon, and roared in grief. The dragon silently watched, and wondered, what on Earth was going on now?
One reply on “Moon Cry: Chapter 12: Adaptation”
Really interesting series of events with this story. I look forward to the next adventure and where it goes.