Kodiak Queen: Chapter 3: Constellation

Over the next few days, the Waffles were shown around the forest by Pudgy.  There was the tunnel excursion: to meet the gray fluffy bunnies and the field mice.  The mice were wary, as these were 2 more cats to contend with, but were pleasant.  While the bunnies pouted at missing the trip to the store, they hugged the bobcats, and welcomed them to the forest village.  Argente’s cottage drew much attention, especially from Tess, as the idea of a little cottage intrigued her.  The short trip up the hill, to where Cobalt’s much larger cave was located also drew much attention.  The dragon had been busy working on his home, and now had a lantern on the outside front wall.  On the interior, were the garden lights mounted in such a way to illuminate the interior of the cave in strategic ways.  The wires were still exposed as this was a work in progress, but yet more ideas for the crafty married bobcat couple.  

Although Tess was not in too much of a hurry to leave, as living in Pudgy’s underground home was wonderful.  Ever since meeting the hedgehog, she had daydreamed occasionally about coming to visit him.  Her husband Pope was more adventurous, and wanted to explore the forest every day.  Although when the heavy rains came, he opted to stay inside, especially because it was waffle day.  Pudgy used a tiny waffle iron on his wood stove, making tiny waffles.  If they had been human form, the waffles would not have been enough to taste, let alone fill one’s stomach.  But in their new smaller animal forms, they found the waffles to be so satisfying.  The refined sugars hit quickly and then there was a tremendous need to run around and play.  Pudgy stayed close on most days to his home, having his daily routines, but still had time to play with his friends.  

It was on one such day, after the rains poured overhead all morning, that Pudgy was checking on his grist mill.  Pope padded up to the hedgehog and waved, “Hi Pudgy.  Are you busy?”  The little critter waved, “hello Pope!  Pudgy was checking the mill, it is still too wet to grind.  Yes, how can Pudgy help?”  The male bobcat grinned, “well, it’s Tess.  She really likes staying with you in your home, but she is talking about having a cottage like Argente.  Do you think Cobalt can help us, like he did with your home?”  Pudgy nodded and bounced, “yes, Pudgy sure Cobalt would help.”  The hedgehog scampered beside Pope as they headed up the creek, and started to follow a bend up the hill.  In a couple of minutes, they had reached the site of the former beaver pond.  Despite the dam being removed, the land was shaped in such a way that water collected.  A natural dam had formed from debris, causing a slight pond to form.  

Pudgy wiggled his nose, “this was where the beaver dam used to be located.  When they built their dam here, it caused the creek to go dry downstream.”  Pope nodded, “I can see where the water has been running, both normally and when it floods.  So what do you think about putting a cottage here?”  The bobcat wandered over to a spot that was a bit higher than the surrounding area.  Pudgy scampered over and nodded, “this looks good.  Pudgy hope we can get materials to build with, Cobalt used up all of his supplies.  That’s why we headed into town that day,” the hedgehog said while moving little stones around.  Pope was watching, “What are you doing, Pudgy?”  The male bobcat watched as Pudgy was using his body to measure, and placing stones at an equal distance.  After he was done, there was a rough rectangle formed around Pope and Pudgy.  Looking around, “I see what you mean now …this would be the walls of the cottage.  I don’t know if it is big enough for the two of us.”

While the two critters worked on the stone outline, they eventually attracted the attention of Tess and Argente.  The two females scampered up to where the proposed cottage would be located, and soon were looking around, also offering suggestions.  While the group was discussing the cottage, Pudgy noticed Mr. Bear and Grandpa Bear walking past his underground home, and up towards Cobalt’s cave.  As Tess mentioned an open concept living area, and Pope laughed saying it was going to be a one room snuggle cottage, the hedgehog listened and laughed.  But the movement of the two bears kept attracting his attention, as they gathered in front of the dragon’s home.  Part of him really wanted to scamper over to listen, but at the same time, he wanted to play with his friends here.  So Pudgy chose to stay, and help plan the cottage.  A log cabin would be best, since this was going to be a stand alone home with no cave to build into.  

What Pudgy was seeing from afar, was Mr. Bear taking his father to visit Cobalt.  When they knocked on the door, it opened and the dragon emerged from his cave.  Waving hello to the two bears, the former human sat down and watched as both took a look inside.  Soon the two bears were sitting as well, across from the dragon in a semicircle.  Mr. Bear Senior coughed, “my son tells me you used to be a human?”  Cobalt nodded, “yes, I lived in a house over there.”  The dragon pointed across the forest.  Mr. Bear Junior nodded, “yes, we have had many strange adventures in this forest since you and Pudgy moved into the area.  It was quiet …” The brown bear started to laugh, while Cobalt chuckled.  Mr. Bear nodded, “Cobalt, the reason we stopped by, was to ask you a question.  Have you seen anything strange in the sky lately?”  The dragon rubbed his chin, “why yes.  About a week or so ago, in the night sky was a huge bear face made out of stars.  The stars seemed to move, and then the bear swatted away Orion the hunter, causing the stars to scatter.  Then Ursa Major the bear constellation started to roar mournfully.  It was really strange, and I do not know if I was dreaming or not?”

The two bears looked at each other, and the older gray bear shook his head.  “That was not a dream, Cobalt.  That was the Mother of all Bears, she was signalling to our tribes that the human hunters have been vanquished.  The bear constellation as you called it, was our kind mourning those we have lost.  Did you see anything else?”  The dragon nodded, “yeah the bear face started to fade, and soon the stars scattered.”  The brown bear coughed hard, “ she …disappeared?”  As his father looked at the dragon, then at his son, the gray bear rubbed his chin with his paw.  “Hmm, that is not good.  The Bear Mother should not have disappeared like that.  Is … it … finally time?”  The dragon looked a bit confused, “time for what?”  Mr. Bear nodded, “Cobalt, we saw what you saw as well that night.  But in our part of the sky, the Bear did not disappear, she walked towards the north west.”  Mr. Bear Senior nodded, “this makes sense Junior.  If it is time for her to pick a successor, she would return to the location of our emergence upon this world.”

Cobalt looked at the gray bear, “Pudgy spoke of what the owls told him, that the animals descended chains from the sky to reach the world.  Is that what you are referring to?”  The brown bear nodded, “though our version is a bit different.  The bears were supposed to go first, to explore and make sure the lands were safe for the other animals.  The owls and birds flew first, and picked out the choice spots to live.  Bears are sensible, and we adapted, finding our place in the forests and caves.”   The elderly gray bear nodded again, “Junior, if it is time for the choosing, we should be there to witness.”  The brown bear shot his father a look, “I am not walking the whole way to Alaska.  Besides, what has the Bear Mother done for us?”  Mr. Bear Senior snapped at his son, “watch your tone cub!  She may not assist in our daily lives, but she is there for our kind when we have our greatest need.  But what should I expect, this is not the first time you avoided your responsibilities.”

The dragon looked at the two bears, “should I head back into my cave?”  Mr. Bear Junior shook his head, “no, please stay.  I had a family once, but it did not work out.  So, I left.”  The gray bear smirked, “cubs are doing fine.”  Cobalt nodded, “I see, well I will not press for further details.  I expect that we should keep this information from Pudgy.  Knowing our hedgehog friend, he would want to travel to Alaska to see Momma Bear.”  The dragon started to chuckle, which drew laughs from the two bears.  Mr. Bear Senior nodded, “yes that may be best.  The island on which our kind descended is far from the coast, and only the largest of our kind dwell there.  It would be very dangerous for the … hedgehog to travel there.  Not only would he have to walk a far distance, then cross the frozen ocean, to reach the island.  Wolves have been known to cross during the winter, though their kind typically stays put.  They would not risk breaking the treaty.”

Mr. Bear Junior nodded, “yes, the treaty that has been broken multiple times already?  Father, we had a coyote attack recently here.  The coyotes are spreading throughout the land.”  Cobalt raised his clawed paw, “Wait, I’m a bit lost.”  The elderly bear nodded again, “the wolves and coyotes are related.  The wolves send them to scout ahead, before deciding where to go.  Many moons ago, far too many to count, the bears and the wolves waged war upon one another.  A treaty was signed between the Bear Mother and the Wolf King.  The treaty has been in effect causing our two kinds to live separate but equal.”  The dragon rubbed his chin, “yeah that never works for long.  Let me guess, over time … both sides .. learned the line and got right up to it?”  Mr. Bear Junior nodded, “yes, but the wolves used their coyote cousins to break it.  Our kind has called them on it, but they always use the coyote exception clause as an exception.  Typical political nonsense, though nowhere near as bad as what the humans used to do.”

Cobalt laughed, “I kind of want to find an elephant, and ask him what he thinks about tax cuts.  It would be funny if he was against it.”  The elderly bear laughed, “thank goodness that human nonsense is over.”  The brown bear smirked, “now we can focus on animal nonsense again.”  The trio all started to laugh harder, and watch as a group of critters scampered up to where the gathering was.  Pudgy and Argente sat beside Cobalt on one side, while the Waffles sat on the opposite side.  Pope waved, “hello everyone.  We were just working on a project, and saw you were having a meeting.”  Mr. Bear Junior nodded, “yes, but our business has been discussed.  What project are you thinking about?”  Tess bounced happily, “we want to build a cottage.  Pudgy said Cobalt could help us.”  The dragon smiled and looked down at the Waffles, “why yes I will help you build a cottage.”  Pudgy bounced, “they want a log cabin, with a stone fireplace.”  

“Oh, is that all?”  Cobalt laughed while rubbing his throat gently.  As discussions started on all the wonderful things the Waffles wanted, the dragon was making mental notes.  But he could not help but also think of what the two bears told him.  As with the human world, there were competing interests in the animal world.  What Pudgy experienced with the owls is just one part, and what worried him was that given the trusting nature of his friend, would they wind up on the wrong side of a conflict?  That may have already occurred when the dragon attacked the coyotes, if they were indeed related to the wolves?  Putting those thoughts aside was the first order of business, because Tess was making a face at him.  “You were not listening, Cobalt!”  The dragon shook his head, “sorry, I was thinking about something.  Ok, open concept cottage cabin with a waterfall countertop in the kitchen?”  Pope laughed, and motioned for everyone to follow.  After shutting the door to the dragon cave, the group followed the bobcats as they scampered across the forest to the location of the proposed cottage.  

Through the clearing, down the hill, across the creek, and up the hill they went to the proposed site of the cottage.  As the two bears looked around the area, the rest of the critters spread out and started pointing excitedly.  Cobalt was last to arrive, and nodded in approval, “yes this place will work well.  It is safe from the creek flood waters, and will serve as a new vantage point to warn the forest of danger.”  The dragon looked up, and noticed there were a few tall skinny trees in the area.  “Pudgy, I will need to cut down one of these tall trees.  I know your owl friends dislike it when we cut trees down.”  The hedgehog looked up while wiggling his nose, “can we use a dead tree instead of a living one?”  The elderly bear walked a short distance, “found one.”  Mr. Bear nodded, “found one over here too.  Cobalt, go get your tools, we can start now.”  The dragon nodded, “Pudgy, can you have the others find rocks for the foundation?”  The hedgehog bounced, and soon the bobcats were scouring the area with him.  

Argente watched as the dragon turned and moved a bit quicker through the forest to return to his cavern.  She was amazed at the amount of activity going on, as well as the arrival of 2 new human converted animals.  The female fox liked the bobcats, as they were quite silly to be with, but she was still wary of the speed of the changes occuring.  It was as she sat at the new home site looking contemplative, that Mr. Bear Senior strode up.  “You look worried,” the elderly bear said.  Argente wiggled her ears as she looked up at the large gray bear, “I am a bit.  The forest is changing quickly.  Humans are coming back as animals … then the stars are acting up at night.  I saw a bear look at me, so I hid back in the cottage.  The bear went away eventually, but I saw my mother standing outside in the clearing.  She disappeared in a mist, but it was so good to see her again.  I .. didn’t tell Pudgy.  I did not want to upset him.”  The gray bear nodded again, and smiled softly at her.

A pile of rocks were starting to form beside the proposed cabin site, as the other critters were making trips to bring rocks from the surrounding area.  The female fox sniffed her nose, and then stood up to help the others gather stones.  The two bears laughed, and watched the going ons of the forest and of the dragon approaching once more with a wagon of tools.  As Cobalt pulled his wagon up to a spot by the creek where it would not roll away, he let go of the handle with his tail.  “My word, that is quite a pile of rock.”  The dragon said, while smiling, and retrieving his saw.  Walking on three legs, while carrying the saw, the scaled creature maneuvered to the first tree to cut.  Cutting low to the ground,  Cobalt noticed the trunk, and then started to cut in earnest.  In time, the tree began to crack, and then started to fall down away from the creek and the gathering of animals.  Once it was safely down, the second tree was cut as well.  Each of the trees were dragged up by the bears, to begin the assembly process.  

Having so many large animals who could lift, as well as small animals who could fit into places, helped immensely.  A stone foundation was stacked, and with Pope checking the level with a large yellow combination yardstick and bubble level, the foundation was ready for timbers.  The tree sections were cut to length, notched, and then stacked.  In a couple of hours, the cottage’s log walls were up.  Tess couldn’t contain herself, and immediately scampered inside the cottage, and bounced happily.  There was enough room for Pope and herself to sleep, and some room to stretch.  Unlike a human home, there was no need for a bathroom or other related home design issues.  The main thing they needed was four walls, a roof, and a fireplace.  There was a dirt floor currently, and no roof, but the logs were stacked, with cross logs running across the top to form the roof support beams.  Eventually Pope also wandered inside the cottage, and kissed his wife’s fuzzy cheek.

The bears said their goodbyes, and wandered down the creek to head back to their cabin.  Soon afterwards, Cobalt packed up his tools, and excused himself as well for the evening.  This left Pudgy, Argente, Tess, and Pope at the incomplete cabin cottage.  The hedgehog looked thoughtful, “how do we build the fireplace?”  Argente giggled, “Cobalt mentioned about having to go back to the hardware store tomorrow while he was cutting the trees.  He mentioned something called… con….crete?”  Pope nodded, “I should go with him tomorrow then, we need some other things as well to finish the cottage.”  Tess nodded, “I will keep gathering stones tomorrow.  We will need many to go all the way above the roof line.”  Pudgy nodded, “Pudgy will help tomorrow too.”  The female fox nodded, “but that is tomorrow.  The light is fading, we need to get back to Pudgy’s home before it becomes dark.”  The critters all nodded in agreement, and then scampered through the woods.  Down the creek, make a right by the water wheel, up the small hill, and into Pudgy’s underground home they went.  

Everyone was in high spirits, but tired from working all day.  The hedgehog made lemonade, from a powder mix that they had been able to find.  While serving the drinks in their tiny mugs, Pope and Tess kept thanking everyone.  However the activity of the day resulted in the bunnies, field mice, silver fox and hedgehog going to sleep early.  Pudgy was last as always to sleep, because he had to secure his home.  As the tired hedgehog climbed into bed, he immediately fell asleep.  The nightmares were lessening as time passed, but the little hedgehog could never forget the horrors he had seen when he fought the Kaiser.  Waking up with a start, Pudgy saw Pope sitting at the end of his bed with a concerned look.  The hedgehog wiggled his nose, “sorry for waking you.”  The bobcat nodded, and motioned for him to follow.  As the critter got out of his bed, he followed to his front door.  The two exited the home quietly, and as Pudgy shut the door Pope pointed up into the sky.  

“Pudgy, your nightmare is not what woke me up.  I heard a sound outside, and saw this in the sky.”  The bobcat pointed, and as Pudgy looked up, he saw the constellations were reformed.  Bears of all sizes and shapes were formed in the skies, and were all heading in a certain direction.  The two critters scampered out into an area with less trees and looked up.  The bears were heading to the north west.  “Why are there so many bears in the skies?”  The little hedgehog said while pointing with his paws.  Before Pope could answer, there was a loud crunching noise coming from behind the two.  Through the faint pale moonlight illuminating the forest, the outline of the dragon could be seen.  Cobalt had been looking up at the night sky as well, and as he stopped at where the bobcat and hedgehog stood, he spoke. “We are going to Mr. Bear’s house now, get on.”  The dragon eased down, and soon felt the two critters climbing up onto his back.  

Once they were safely in place, Cobalt started to quickly walk.  Down the hill, past the beaver pond, down the three waterfalls, make a right, past the granite boulder, past the strand of pine trees, and to Mr. Bear’s cabin they went.  Upon reaching the cabin, the dragon saw both bears standing in the clearing and looking upwards into the night sky.  “What is going on,” Cobalt called out as he slowed to stand beside them.  The elderly gray bear looked up and pointed, “it is our calling, to return to the island.  The Bear Mother is calling us home.”  Pudgy whimpered from the back of the dragon, “pwease don’t go.  Pudgy like you very much Grandpa Bear!”  Mr. Bear Junior laughed, “Pudgy, he is not going anywhere.”  The elderly bear shot him a look, “she calls us, all bears have to go.  This is not a choice, this is beyond all things, we have to go.”  The brown bear shook his head, “and just how are you going to make the trek all the way to Alaska?  You were wheezing when we got back from the store.”

Cobalt raised his paw, “Mr. Bear Senior.  What are the bear constellations doing?”  The gray bear nodded, “when the Bear Mother calls, we can transcend our earthly bodies for a short time, and use the skies to travel.  The Great Mother resides on an island off the coast of what the humans call Alaska.  Once our kind has gathered in sufficient numbers, we will witness the death of the current Mother and the ascension of the new one.  Our roars will fill the skies, and shake the foundations of this world once more.”  Before the dragon could respond, a huge roar filled the air overhead.  As the group looked up, the large bear face was looking cross at them.  Pope laughed, “hey …. don’t yell at me Mamma Bear!”  The elderly bear looked at his son, “we have to go Junior.  She is becoming cross with us, say your goodbyes.”  

Pudgy started to whimper, and then slid off Cobalt’s back to run up to Mr. Bear’s leg.  He was hugging him furiously at the leg level, “pwease don’t go.  Pudgy will miss you!”  The brown bear laughed and hugged back, “it is not forever Pudgy.  As much gruff I give my old man, I can clearly see this is important to him.  The Bear Mother can kiss my butt, but I will go to keep Senior safe.”  The dragon nodded, “I will stop by to check on your cabin while you are gone.”  Pope watched as Pudgy scampered over and started to hug Mr. Bear Senior’s leg.  After another laugh from the elderly bear, the critter scampered back over and up onto the dragon’s back.  Out of breath, Pudgy wheezed, “Pudgy … want … you … to … come … back.  Pwease promise!”  The two bears nodded and spoke in unison, “we promise to come back Pudgy.”  The dragon nodded again, “how long do you think this will take?”  The brown bear looked at his father, who answered, “I believe in one moon.  It might be longer, if there is a conclave.  That is if two females wish to be mothers, then there is a process to decide.”

The two bears looked up at the angry bear face that was floating in the sky above them.  “Mother of all Bears, we hear your call ….”  Pudgy watched as the bears started to glow with an unearthly white light.  Soon the light was turning from a fuzzy glow, to a focused one as their bodies were converted into tiny balls of light.  The balls were tiny stars, which then started to shoot upwards into the sky.  Cobalt looked at the Bear face in the sky, “please let them return safely to us … Mother?”  The face softened, and then disappeared as both Mr. Bear and his father joined up with the procession of star bears in the skies.  Pope blinked, “my word, those are all bears?  How many are there?”  Pudgy whimpered, “too many to count.”  The dragon turned, and started to head back through the forest while talking.  “Thousands of bears, travelling in the skies, heading to Alaska.  Hmm, I remember a nature show about a place called Kodiak Island.  Huge bears, some almost a ton, were on that island.  It was so dangerous, the nature crew had to be guarded by the Alaska national guard.”  

Pope shook his head while holding onto Cobalt’s back, “this is amazing.  Is it like this all the time here in Pudgy’s forest?”  The hedgehog nodded and laughed, “yes … Pudgy wanna go see Mamma Bear.” The dragon snorted, “no Pudgy.  You are not heading to Alaska, there are not only one ton bears up there, but also wolves.  Mr. Bear told me that the bears and wolves have a  treaty, but there have been complications.  The wolves sent the coyotes to scout ahead, so most likely our coyote visitors were here due to the wolves.”  The bobcat nodded, “that is not good.  If there are wolves in the area, they are vicious.  But I thought wolves were extinct in the north east?”  The dragon nodded as he climbed up the bank beside the creek waterfalls.  “Yes, but every so often they find one.  The key deterrence was humans, who all have gone away now.  So now this world is empty of the thing that kept the wolves and coyotes at bay.”   

Pudgy whimpered, “Pudgy hope coyotes do not come back.”  Pope nodded, “I agree, I was not here, but that sounded really bad.  But with Tess and I at one end of the forest, Cobalt at another, and you in your home; we have the area covered.”  Despite the dragon’s slow pace, they made it back to the underground home in a few minutes.  Easing his body down, Cobalt felt the bobcat and hedgehog slide off of his back.  Pudgy scampered in front of Cobalt, and hugged his snout.  The dragon’s expression softened, and his eyes faintly glowed silver.  When the embrace was let go, Cobalt positioned himself so he could sit and look at the stars.  The bobcat and hedgehog did the same, watching the endless procession of bears walking in the night sky.  As the morning twilight started to appear on the horizon, the bears started to disappear.  

“Pudgy wonders where bears go when it is morning?”  The hedgehog asked, with an inquisitive look on his face.  The bobcat rubbed his chin with his paw, “Pudgy, I think they are still up there.  We can’t see them, because the light blocks the stars.  Cobalt … how long do you think this has been going on?”  The dragon shook his head, “I don’t know, Pope.  But the bears also acted as a deterrent to the wolves and coyotes, and now they are all leaving their forests.”  The trio nodded, and looked around the forest.  The birds were waking up, and starting to chirp once more.  Pudgy rubbed his chin, “Pudgy wonder what Alabaster thinks?  All those bears would be heading over the great tree … “ The critter trailed off, while noticing Cobalt’s wagon was again in front of his home’s second door that led into the storehouse.”  Pope had noticed that as well, “Cobalt, I see you brought the wagon.”

Before the dragon could speak, the front door of Pudgy’s home opened and soon out scampered Argente and Tess.  The silver fox and bobcat looked confused, but first sought the privacy of some bushes nearby.  Then after a couple of minutes, the two females scampered up to where Cobalt was sitting.  Argente looked up at the former human, “what happened while we were sleeping.”  As Cobalt explained what occurred, the silver fox and female bobcat got worried looks on their faces.  Then they both started to pout, as they missed the celestial events in the skies.  Tess looked at her husband, “and you didn’t wake me up?”  She maneuvered around and bit his tail playfully.  Pope yelped, and then gave her a look, before snuggling beside her.  “So, did you want to head to the hardware store now?”    The female bobcat nodded at her husband as he asked.  The two bobcats looked up at the dragon, who smiled in return.  “Ok, I brought the wagon.  So everyone get inside,”  the large animal said as he started to stand up.  

After Pudgy checked on his home, and secured it once again, he scampered over to join the two bobcats and silver fox in  the wagon.   The assembled group of riders watched as the dragon’s tail wrapped around the handle of the wagon, and soon they were off into town once again.  Pudgy was telling the much longer tale of everything that had happened, with what the two bears said.  It was by the time he finished, that they had reached Mr. Bear’s now quiet cabin.   As they passed to head to the oak tree bridge, the group in the wagon looked up into the skies collectively.  If the bear mother was up there, they could not see her.  Down the hill, across the oak tree bridge, up the switchbacks, through the war memorial park, and up the street they headed towards the hardware store.  

Upon reaching the four way intersection, Cobalt decided to cross diagonally like the bears had down the last time. Pope noticed the dragon stopped in the middle of the intersection, and looked to the left.  There was a bridge that crossed a creek, which had now collapsed into the water.  “Well, that bridge is shot now.”  Tess remarked, and watched as the dragon started to move again onto the sidewalk, and around to the parking lot by the hardware store.  Argente looked up at the building, and pointed to Pudgy.  “Pudgy, the building looks like it is starting to crumble?”  The hedgehog nodded, noticing the third floor where some officers were located seemed to be falling inside.  The hedgehog remembered what Cobalt said, that the human homes were struck by lightning and then swallowed by the earth. Was Gaia taking steps to erase the human buildings? 

Once more they headed inside the hardware store, and everyone in the wagon scampered out.  Cobalt headed down the aisle where the masonry supplies were kept, and grabbed a couple tubs on instant concrete mix and related tools.  There was a couple pieces of rebar left, so he tossed them into the wagon as well.  A trip down the electrical aisle also was in order, and other materials were obtained.  There was a section with replacement window glass, for wood windows.  A couple of years ago some woman had walked in and custom ordered a window.  Then she never came back for it, so it was sitting in the store collecting dust.  The dragon took it, because they needed it for the bobcat cottage.  Pope and Tess were also helping with roof shingles, tar paper, and other pieces of scrap wood they found.  Eventually the wagon was full, but both Argente and Pudgy were missing.  “Pudgy … Argente ….Where are you?”  Tess called out, and heard a little voice say, “over here.”

As the two bobcats followed the little voice, they found Pudgy inside of a vending machine.  He had somehow been hoisted by Argente, and had maneuvered through the door flap of a vending machine.  The little hedgehog was busy munching on a honey bun, waving at the group.  Argente giggled and was pawing at the door, “Pudgy you get out of there!”  As the dragon walked up, he saw where his hedgehog friend had gotten off to.  Shaking his head, Cobalt reached up and then touched the glass with his claws.  Making a terrible screeching noise, the claws started to cut through the glass.  Argente and the bobcats backed up, and watched as the glass cracked, and then shattered.  Soon the vending machine was completely open, which resulted in the hedgehog happily tossing out food onto the floor.  Honey buns, cheese danish, nutty bars, potato chips,pretzels, gluten free food substitute, and many types of candy started to pour out.  Cobalt laughed, “we missed this the last time.  Ok, time to load up.”  

Soon the wagon was filled to almost overflowing once again, and was being pulled outside.  The critters scampered behind the wagon, and once they had made it outside, beside the dragon.  Cobalt noticed what Tess had mentioned, that all of the surrounding buildings were aging quicker than normal.  The pilates studio was crumbling before their eyes, which caused the dragon to stop and stare.  Pudgy looked at the building as well, “Cobalt, Pudgy thinks Gaia stones are making human stuff go away.”  The former human nodded, “I think so too Pudgy, and if that is the case, soon the town will not be here anymore.  Humans will be a distant memory one day …” The bobcats heard the dragon trail off, as he started to walk once again.  The trees were growing at an accelerated rate.  Many were now growing into buildings, or outright through them.  Massive oak trees were taking root, and spreading their boughs high into the air.  The elms were standing tall, swaying with the light breeze of a cool summer morning.  

The asphalt road surface was starting to crumble, with weeds sticking up through from underneath.  Soon though, they had made it to the war memorial park, and were starting to head down the switchback trail.  Down the hilly trail, across the oak tree bridge, up the hill, through the clearing to Mr. Bear’s log cabin they headed.  A rest break was called for by Argente, and soon the snack bags were broken into.  Pudgy helped open the bags of snacks.  He had learned how to do so from Cobalt, and most he had no trouble with.  As Tess munched on cheesy poofs, Pope somehow had managed to get bubble gum and was attempting to blow a bubble.  Argente giggled, as she crunched on hard pretzels.    Snack time was filled with laughter, but soon they were off once again, to head past the pine trees, past the granite boulder, make the left, head up the creek past the three waterfalls.  

Upon reaching the beaver pond, the beavers waved as they swam around working on their dam.  The group of critters waved and offered snacks from the wagon.  The beavers politely declined, but did accept an offer of wooden dowel rods to munch on.  It was around noon that they arrived at the bobcat’s log cabin cottage.  Of course that meant, it was snack time once again.  The bags were tiny by human standards, and by animal standards as well.  One ounce bag of cheese curls, one and one quarter ounce bags of pretzels, caused the former humans to shake their heads as they munched away.  Their collection of plastic snack bags were growing, and would be used for another purpose eventually.  Pudgy just didn’t know what to use them for just yet?  Once everyone was full, the dragon nodded as he looked at the cabin.  “Ok, we need rock for the fireplace.  Everyone go out and about and find stones.  I will head to the drainage area where the sewage authority placed all that loose stone.”

The wagon was positioned in such a way so it would not move, and then one by one the animals headed out.  Eventually the gray and fluffy bunnies joined in, and helped with the search, while pouting they missed yet another trip into town.  In time, a large growing pile of rock appears near to the cabin, as well as a dragon returning with a paw full of crushed stone.  The stone was laid inside the cabin’s walls, to serve as the base for the concrete.  After emptying the wagon of materials, the dragon got to work.  The creek water was flowing well, so he could slowly fill the bucket with water, and then start mixing the concrete. It took several batches, but soon a smooth wet floor of concrete had been spread inside the cabin.  The fireplace was a different consistency of concrete, and after a few trial placements, the stones were then begun to be stacked with mortar.  

Pope helped Cobalt lay the stones, and laughed while Tess guarded the entrance to the home. The bunnies desperately wanted to play in the wet concrete, and had to be gently reminded not to go inside yet.  After a couple hours passed, the stones were in place, and the chimney was done.  The roof was then assembled, attached, and secured.  The plate glass windows were cut by dragon claw, and then placed into the window openings.  There was still some remaining concrete mix left, so the last batch was mixed and then a concrete patio was laid out in front of the cottage.  This time, Tess asked everyone to come over, and place their paws in the concrete.  That way, everyone would remember the day they built the cabin cottage.  The bunnies happily placed their paws in the wet concrete, and watched as the field mice, the hedgehog, and silver fox joined in.  Pope and Tess also put their paws into the concrete, and looked up at the dragon.  His clawed paws were too large, so he opted out of a paw, but did put his initials into the wet concrete with a claw tip.  

It was by early evening that the work on the bobcat home was finished.  It was not yet safe to go inside, because the concrete needed time to cure.  A makeshift door was attached, but that needed to be adjusted so that both Pope and Tess could operate it.  The huge pile of snack bags were emptied quickly, and as critters wiggled with full bellies of snack food, they watched the stars start to come out once more.  The procession of bears began to be seen once more, which drew many looks and excited pointing by the bunnies.  Pudgy explained what was going on, which caused the bunnies to wiggle their noses and watch the skies in wonder.  The dragon laughed a bit, “ok, it will be late soon, time for me to escort you back to your homes.”  The bunnies pouted, “we want to watch the twinkle bears some more!”  Pudgy nodded, “can we watch twinkle bears too?”  The dragon nodded, “ok, for a little while longer.”  

Cobalt wondered what Mr. Bear Senior would have said if he knew that the bear’s star travel form now was called twinkle bear?  While Tess watched the bears silently walking in the skies above, she did not notice her husband was sneaking beside her to kiss her fuzzy cheek and snuggling beside her. The female bobcat snuggled closer to her husband, smiling from ear to ear, “love you Pope.”  Her husband grinned, “love you too Tess … tomorrow we can break in the snuggle shack.”

By Cobalt

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

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