Kodiak Queen: Chapter 8: Cordova

In the days that followed their arrival to the great tree, Pudgy told stories and played with his owl friends.  His dragon friend slept for three solid days and nights straight, before waking and heading out with Alabaster’s mother.  The owl’s lessons were helping, and soon the entire tree was watching the dragon fly around in the skies above.  The former human was being taught how to lock his wings, glide, and ride the natural air currents.  Basic flying concepts to the owls, but brand new to Cobalt.  The owls were primarily nocturnal, while Pudgy and Cobalt preferred the daylight hours, so the window for lessons was narrow.  During this time, Painted Feather was asking all manner of questions about the condition of the human lands.  Sometimes the excited and pointed questions overlapped, but Pudgy answered them anyway.  

The owls’ understanding of what would happen once the Gaia stones were activated was that the humans would go away and never return.  The changes to the land was an unintended consequence of their actions.  Pudgy learned in the west, where the Grand Parliament had been held, the lands south of it were on fire.  The animals were retreating to the redwood forests, while the human cities burned.  Huge cracks had opened up, like what happened to their town, and were swallowed underneath.  The big red metal thing that crossed the bay had started to fall apart, and into the ocean.  The roads were crumbling, the homes destroyed, and the desert was growing.  There was talk of strange cacti appearing in places they had never been before. 

Pudgy confirmed similar things were happening the whole way from his forest in Pennsylvania to here.  Tornadoes, floods, storms … all manner of natural disasters were wiping all evidence of humans away.  The land was being restored to its original pristine state.  Grand Claw Glacier stopped by one day, to ask more questions, the same as before.  When Pudgy gave the same answers, he nodded and flew off.  The hedgehog was starting to get the feeling he was being interrogated.  He did not know why, but everything so far had been cordial.  The owls loved Pudgy, since he was an honorary member of their Parliament, and he told the best stories.  The hedgehog pondered if it was because they were curious, and he represented a new source of information to both confirm and deny their suspicions.  

After much time to learn and rest, it was time to depart the great tree.  The day of the hedgehog and dragon’s departure was on a high note, tinged with a bit of sadness.  The Grand Claw instructed them to finish their business with the bears, and then to return to the great tree to let them know what happened.  The little owls had gathered a variety of foods they thought Pudgy would like to eat: nuts, berries, seeds, and mushrooms.  The saddlebags for the dragon were packed full, and positioned in such a way that the hedgehog could access them during the flight.  Pudgy hugged every owl, while thanking them for all of their help.  The Grand Claw hooted softly when it was his time for a hug, and returned the embrace with a kind look in his golden eyes.   The elderly owl waved as Pudgy scampered over to climb back on top of Cobalt’s back.  Lashing himself into the straps, the little hedgehog waved again to the assembled Parliament.    

Using what Ice Feather had taught him, the dragon was able to take off using a lot less energy.  The dragon started to ascend from beneath the boughs of the great tree.  Cobalt circled around the tree’s outspread branches in a circle, as he was followed by several arctic owls who wanted to accompany their friends.  The owls escorted the former human for a time, and then circled back with goodbye calls.  They had just passed slightly north of Mt. Rainier, which was the edge of the owls’ territory.  The owls called it the great mountain, which made a lot of sense, as it was one of the tallest in the country.  This made both Pudgy and Cobalt ponder, that now the humans were gone, that meant the boundaries they created and places they named were now no longer in existence.  The world resumed to being just continents, separated by vast stretches of ocean.

Cobalt kept flapping his wings, going higher, and higher, and higher into the sky.  Pudgy felt the air become thinner and thinner, while cooling off considerably.  The little critter was very glad to have put on his cold weather gear, and watched as the features of the land blurred into a sea of dark green.  The owls taught Cobalt about how they migrated from further north, and provided a general direction on how to proceed.  Along the coastline of the great ocean were mountains that stretched the entire way.  It would be extremely difficult to fly over the mountains, so the best course was to fly as close to the water as possible.  Over the ruins of Seattle they flew, and across the bay they flew crossing into what was once called Canada.  From above, the land looked exactly the same, and they continued their trip as the looming Pacific ocean stretched out in the distance.  The one key difference was the red Canadian flags flying over certain buildings on the ground below.

The owls taught Cobalt about how to ride updrafts, and downdrafts.  Those were movements of the air, and wind.  An updraft would allow him to gain lift, and increase his altitude.  A downdraft would decrease his altitude, but allow him to speed up.  What the dragon had been doing was completely backwards this entire time, thus causing him to expend more effort and energy to fly.  His wings also resembled birds’ wings, and could lock into place for extended gliding.  Pudgy was amazed at how much better he was now, and watched as the ground quickly sped underneath them.  They passed over what was once called Port Hardy, on the north west part of Vancouver Island, when both friends could see the vast ocean below them.  It had been a long time since Cobalt had seen the Pacific ocean, and it was just as wide and dark blue as it had been the last time.  Pudgy’s eyes were wide, as he watched and wondered what was on the other side of the ocean.  The owls said that no animal could fly across the water, it was that big.

Time passed as it always does with day turning into night.  With the altitude gained, the clouds passed below the dragon.  While they could not completely avoid the rain, it was much less than when the dragon had been flying at a lower altitude.  With Pudgy asleep, Cobalt could see the bright star to the north west guiding them to the island of the Bear Mother.  Night passed, and the soft light of morning spread to the east eventually rising past the tall mountains of the coast.  During the day, the mountains along the coastline were beautiful to look at.  They were tall, and capped with snow at their peaks, and covered by a sea of green.  The trees covered them, and swayed in the wind, which made the mountain look like it was wiggling.  The ocean was either blue or black, depending on where you looked below.  The color indicated the depth of the water, which made Cobalt wonder if more humans had been repopulated as sea creatures?  That would make the most sense, since the oceans had been stripped by the humans of fish due to their taste for seafood.  Now that there were no more humans, there was no need to fish.  But as with every development, there are unintended consequences.  

What the passing dragon did not know was that indeed many humans had returned as ocean life.  That increase in population, resulted in a decrease in available food sources.  Gaia was trying to account for this, in ways seen and unseen.  The huge grocery stores full of food for the humans had been repurposed, and dispersed within the waters.  The Earth Mother’s timing was not quite right yet, so some places had more than others, but it was a learning experience for all.  Humans were reappearing in the world at an accelerated pace, replacing the species that they had either intentionally or inadvertently killed.  Former hunters were starting to return as the very creatures they killed, much to their shock.  For example, Loki, having grown tired of chasing the rabbit, bumped into a couple confused buffalo.  They had been truck drivers from Indiana, who had hunted on the weekends.  Their arrival back on this world, in a new animal body came to be quite a shock to them.  

Sandra and Raymond were busy flying over Nebraska, watching as the painted horses were running free once more over the plains.  Their numbers had grown considerably, and a sea of color thundered over the plains.  They too ran into flocks of birds, from all over trying to adjust to their new circumstances.  As their friend Pudgy had informed them, the human cities and towns were gone.  A couple days ago when the husband and wife had flown overhead of the gas station their hedgehog friend had stopped at in South Dakota, it was now covered by grass.  Similar occurrences were along the entire flight path, which made navigating all that more difficult.  Raymodn said they should fly to the rising sun, that would lead them back to Virginia.  Sandra agreed, so they had changed course.

The Earth Mother had changed the life cycle in such a way that the plants were growing at an accelerated pace.  Even the rain forests were starting to recover far away to the south.  Though some changes would take much longer to correct, such as the amount of air pollution.  The trees and plants were filtering as best as they could, but would take time to fix the damage wrought by the former most dominant species.  More trees also meant that the number of beavers started to increase as well.  Few elderly animals remained that remembered the tales of lore, and told tales to the young and converted humans of the great dam that once spanned the river before the time of the humans.  The thought intrigued the younger ones, and soon talk of the old times was all that anyone spoke about.  A gathering was called, with the preliminary work beginning to plan the rise of the great dam once more.    

Far away to the north, The hedgehog was very glad when he woke up, that the saddle bags had been repositioned on his dragon friend.  This meant that Pudgy could reach into the bags when he needed to.  He was nibbling on seeds, and noticed the mountains were now covered with more snow.  The little hedgehog was amazed, they had not yet needed to land, and had made tremendous progress in this leg of the trip.  They did not have time to land and take off, so when it was time to use the potty, they just went.  The dragon smirked when they targeted a luxury yacht moored off the coastline.  Time was fluid, with neither friend knowing what the date nor time was?  Both had forgotten when they had left, so were unsure how much time had passed.  All they knew was that soon day turned into night once more, and the position of the star changed to more north west of where they were flying.  

While Cobalt knew that meant the island was not where he had thought it would be.  The quickest route would be to follow the star, but that would require flight over the open ocean.  His training had yielded significant results, but he was not yet sure of flying over the open ocean.  What happened if he was tired or sick, that would meant crashing into the ocean.  The ocean was dangerous, while whales, sharks, and all manner of things that would make travel very difficult.  While the waves looked small from the sky, the former human knew they were huge at water level.  Sticking with the owls’ plan, Cobalt continued to hug the coast line.  Riding the up and downdrafts, the glide position of his wings meant that he did not have to expend any energy to fly.  He had even learned how to take very short naps while flying, but he kept that at a minimum so that he would not drift too far off course.  

Canada stretched on and on, and to properly define how far they had to travel, it would be helpful to use Pudgy level terminology.  Trips were measured by how long it took on Cobalt’s big red vehicle, and the longest trip was Ohio which took 6 hours.   Before they had left, Cobalt described Canada’s western coast and to the hedgehog’s understanding, it was 10 Ohio’s long.  In actuality, it was actually 71 Ohio’s. During this time the little critter slept on and off, but this part of the trip was very boring.  It was similar to when he flew in his Warhawk, though there was no engine noises or heater to keep him warm.  When he slept, his dreams were the same thing over and over, with no new details.  But during his waking time, the little hedgehog realized something had indeed changed, as the sun was up for much longer.  What the little hedgehog did not know was that in the summertime, the sun would be up for sometimes 19 to 20 hours a day in Alaska.  This made navigation easier, and also resulted in the dragon being able to course correct to the west.  

After almost 3 days of constant flight, Cobalt tiredly called out to Pudgy.  “Pudgy, I have to land. I can barely stay awake, and my wing muscles feel like they are on fire.”  The little hedgehog woke up and bounced a bit, but he had lost feeling in his legs, so it would be very good to land.  Adjusting his wing angle, the dragon started to descend while gaining speed.  Very quickly, features below started to come into focus, as they flew over towering forests of pine trees.  Both friends notes that this was truly a wild area, with virtually no sign of human settlements anywhere.  That is true, even before the time of the Gaia stones activation.  The mountains stood silently along the coast, stretching far into the skies above, and topped with white snow at their peaks.  Even during the summer, the high elevations were still cold enough to support snow.  

Faster and faster Cobalt flew, resulting in Pudgy holding on tight to the saddlebag straps.  The little hedgehog did not like moving this fast, as it felt like he might fall off.  But the critter kept his eyes open, as the scenery around them was too beautiful to not look at. To the hedgehog’s relief after a couple tense minutes, Cobalt adjusted his wings again, and began to glide once more.  They were still moving quickly, although at a much less quickly decaying altitude.  “Hey, look at the size of that river?”  Cobalt said, as they began to pass overhead of a huge muddy river that was flowing from the mountains and out into the ocean.  “I wonder if there are any glaciers up here?”  The dragon asked, while watching a small line start to appear in the mountainous forest passing below them.  Pudgy called out, “is that a road?”  The dragon nodded, “looks like it, Pudgy …must mean a town is around here somewhere.”  The dragon flapped his wings a couple times to get a bit more lift, before extending his wings to glide once more.  The outlines of what resembled an airport appeared in the distance to the right of the dragon as he continued to fly to the north west.  The airport looked deserted, and resembled Packwood in many ways.  There was only one main building, covered with the usual air traffic controller trappings.

Following the road on a parallel course, Pudgy watched as the forests started to pull back, and more grassy meadows were revealed.  The airport came and went, and soon a gigantic body of water spread out along the road to the North.  It was a lighter shade of dark blue, and there was much less of a saltwater smell in the sky.  Multi-colored log cabins started to appear along the road, spread out at first, and then they started to draw closer to each other as the dragon flew.  At their current altitude, this meant that the local birds started to appear around them.  They would come and go, little gray ones, chirp and fly off.  Both friends saw many birds they had never seen before, with all new markings and colorings.  Cobalt recognized one bird in particular nearby, a bald eagle, who was  flying closer at a quick speed.  Its brown feathers were fluttering in the wind as it glided closer towards them, with its familiar white plumage on its head coming into focus.  A sharp yellow beak opened, and it sounded a greeting call.  At first, it sounded just like a chirp, but the words started to form.  

“My word, what are you?”  The Bald Eagle spoke with a questioning look in its soft yellow eyes.  The dragon adjusted and banked slightly so he could fly parallel with the eagle while still following the road as well.  “My name is Cobalt … I’m a dragon.  We’re from Pennsylvania, which is really far to the south of here.”  The eagle chirped, “who are we?”  The eagle adjusted its wings, and soon started to fly over the dragon.  Pudgy looked up and waved, but noticed the sharp talons pulled up against the body of the eagle.  “Hi, my name is Pudgy!  We’re going to help the bears!”  The eagle gave a greeting call, “hello Pudgy.  Are you now?  The bears all left, to head to the setting sun a long time ago.  Word has spread of an island off the coastline in the great ocean that they have headed to.  I know not why though?”  

The dragon could see the outlines of a town appearing in the distance, “hey, what is that town over there?”  The eagle maneuvered itself back to fly beside the dragon’s head, “the humans call that place Cordova.  I do not know what happened.  One day, all the humans went away, and our land was quiet once more.”  The dragon nodded, “the owls activated the Gaia stones, and made all the humans go away.  The human places are all crumbling, being destroyed, and sucked back into the earth.  I am surprised this town is still here actually.”  The eagle nodded with eyes wide, “the owls … did …WHAT?!?!?  I must speak to my aerie, fair flying wherever your travels take you.”  Pudgy watched the bald eagle bank hard to the right, and then start flying very quickly to the north and across what appeared to be a lake.  The hedgehog wiggled his nose, wondering if the eagles were kept out of the loop?  When he had gone to the Grand Parliament with the owls, he had seen many birds including hawks, but he couldn’t remember if any eagles were there?

Both friends watched as the town of Cordova spread out before them, with the buildings all in fairly good order.  The homes were well built cabins, or cement block walls with metal roofs.  They were not pretty to look at design wise, but they were painted with bright colors: red, green, blue, yellow, etc.  Of course, curb appeal meant little during the harsh weather conditions of the area during the winter.  Cobalt was gaining speed again, as he felt like his back muscles were going to tear apart.  The forest road connected into the downtown area, which resembled a normal small town with blocks and street signs.  Cobalt dropped his legs, and lowered his tail, so that they would come in for a landing.  Pudgy held on tight as they landed hard on the asphalt road with a terrible screeching noise.  The dragon claws gouged the road surface, but from the ground level, the road was beginning to crumble just like back home.  It was more gravel than pavement, so the damage was minimal.  

“Yay, the dragon and hedgehog have landed!”  The little critter said while looking around the area from the back of the dragon.  To his left, the ocean stretched out behind a row of large warehouse buildings that ran along the shoreline.  The critter also saw that Cobalt was having trouble folding his wings back. “Cobalt, are you alright?”  The hedgehog asked with a concerned tone, and looked around the part of town that they had landed in.  The dragon nodded, “the owls taught me how to lock my wings to keep the glide longer.  They just won’t ….” The wings made a popping noise, which made the former human yelp a bit.  “There we go,” he muttered while folding his wings back alongside his body.  After many moments to stand, and get the feeling back, the former human began to walk forward.  The town of Cordova was small, maybe at tops a couple hundred lived here before the great disappearance.  Like a coastal town, there was a huge marina, and many seafood restaurants.  Off to the right, there was a large brown building with a curved roof.  Cobalt pondered if that was a convention center, or maybe a church, but he did not know?

It felt good to be back on the ground, but in the distance over the ocean, the skies were dark with heavy clouds.  “It looks like a storm is coming in Pudgy.  We better find somewhere dry somewhere,” Cobalt said as he started to walk at a faster pace.  With his claws clicking on the ground as he walked,  Pudgy pointed at a large beige metal building with a triangular shaped black roof.  There was a tattered American flag flying above the building, and a large overhang where trucks could park to be loaded.  “Hey Cobalt, let’s go over to the right.”  The dragon nodded again, and increased his pace to a full gallop while rain drops started to fall from the sky.  With each passing step, the skies opened up, and an ever increasing deluge of heavy cold water poured from the sky.  By the time that they reached the building Pudgy had pointed out, both were totally drenched.  The two friends were out of their element here, as neither had ever been this far north.  

Cobalt had been to Florida on an island once, and when it rained.  It would go on for days, with nonstop heavy downpours.  There was so much humidity from the gulf of mexico, it might take days to clear up.  The former human assumed this to be the case here, due to proximity of the ocean and nearby freshwater lake.  One thing for certain was, it was much colder here.  Pulling his body as close to the building as possible, the roof overhang was enough to shield them from the rain.  The dragon dropped down, and then rested his neck and head along the cold concrete loading dock.  In an exhausted tone the former human spoke,  “Pudgy, I need to sleep.  Can you wake me if something happens?”  Cobalt’s eyes rolled back into his head, and he immediately passed out.  His nostrils whistled as he slept, with a small snore beginning to form.  

Pudgy nodded, but did not verbally respond to his friend.  Cobalt had been awake for so long, the little hedgehog was amazed he was able to make it all the way here?  Unlashing himself from the saddlebag, he slid down to land on the cold concrete.  The hedgehog landed, and then fell over as his legs had gone numb.  Chuckling to himself softly, Pudgy wiggled to get the feeling back into his limbs and paws.  Once he had recovered, the critter rolled onto his belly and scampered on all fours.  Heading around his dragon friend’s tail, Pudgy turned the corner of the building to figure out where they had landed.  The hedgehog stayed close to the building, as the large roof overhangs also shielded the front of the building as well.  In a short period of time, he had found what looked to be a set of glass double doors, with words painted on the outside.  “United….States …Post …Office.  Oh boy, Pudgy wonders if Mr. Mailman works here?”  The critter rubbed his chin, while wiggling his nose, “no wait .. Mr. Mailman went away.  Plus, there would be a different Mr. Mailman up here.”    

There were a couple of birds huddled in a corner of the large doorway into the post office opposite from Pudgy.  They had marvelous plumage, with a deep red swatch on their bellies, black heads, and white feathers.  The hedgehog wiggled his nose and waved, “hi, my name is Pudgy.”  The birds turned, and quacked at him in greeting, Pudgy recognized the sound as a duck sound.  Specifically they were known by humans as harlequin ducks, and they primarily stayed near the ocean.  Pudgy did not know this, they just looked pretty, and seemed nice.  A smaller duck waddled over, “hello Pudgy!  My name is Sea Feather, those are my parents.  What are you?”  The critter bounced and waved, “Pudgy is a hedgehog.  Pudgy comes from really far to the south of here with Pudgy good friend Cobalt.  Cobalt is exhausted and is sleeping around the corner.”  Sea Feather nodded while his parents waved at the critter, “oh, we don’t know what a hedgehog is.  But you are one, so we now know what one looks like.  But what is this?”  The duck pecked a gray beak at Pudgy’s white winter gear.  

“Pudgy is not used to cold weather, it is much warmer south.  Pudgy has a warm outfit on because it is cold up here.”  The duck nodded, “ok, that makes sense.”  The hedgehog wiggled his nose, “Sea Feather, do you know where the bears’ island is?”  The parents turned to Pudgy, and Mrs. Feather quacked, “why on earth do you want to go to Kodiak?  The bears will eat you without a second thought.”  The hedgehog nodded, “Pudgy has another good friend who is a bear.  The Mamma Bear made him fly into the sky and come up here.  Pudgy has bad dreams of the bears being attacked by shadow monsters with red eyes.  Pudgy has to find Mr. Bear and save him.”  At this point, an exasperated father duck quacked in a sharp tone, “bears can not be made friends with.  They eat all animals, that does not make any sense.”  Pudgy wiggled his nose again, which drew curious looks from the ducks, and started to speak before being cut off by Mr. Duck.  

“But if you are intent on harming yourself, the island is to the setting sun.  The humans used to use a big ship to go from the land north of here to reach the island.”  Mrs. Duck nodded after her husband had finished speaking, “we would sometimes ride along on the ship, but the island is indeed dangerous.  The humans have a town at the edge of the island, where the big ship would go to.”  Sea Feather bounced and wiggled his tail playfully, “ if we were to fly, it would take us several days to reach it.  It is a large island, covered with dense forests, and a high mountain.  Out of curiosity, just how do you intend to get there?”  The ducks inspected the hedgehog, covered with the strange white outfit.  In several spots, long quills stuck out, but did not seem too sharp when they pecked at them with their beaks.  Their new acquaintance bounced happily and wiggled his nose as they investigated.  

Pudgy waved for the ducks to follow him, and started to scamper back over around the building.  The curious ducks followed in a line behind Pudgy, and quacked happily.  Rounding the corner of the building, the ducks saw the huge sleeping blue dragon.  They were maybe eight inches long, while this dragon at ground level was almost as long as a bear.  Pudgy turned, “this is Cobalt, he’s a dragon.”  With wide eyes, and instinct kicking in, all three ducks sounded a danger call. The trio immediately started to fly, and bolted off into the deluge of rain coming from the sky to immediately fly towards the ocean.  The hedgehog frowned while he wiggled his nose, not understanding why they flew away.  The former human was asleep, so there was no danger.  But as the little critter pondered, Pudgy realized that most animals had never seen a dragon since they were so few in this world.  Aside from Xylenia and her Mother, Cobalt was the only other dragon he had ever seen.  

The critter really wanted to explore the town that they had landed in.  But the pouring rain meant that he would be absolutely drenched. The winter feather gear had a slight layer on the outside to make the water quickly dry off, and it was working slowly.  The temperature felt like it was springtime back home, which meant at night it might be cold enough for snow.  With the rain still coming, it was hard to tell if night was coming soon or not.  Pudgy looked at his dragon friend, and knew they had to find a better place to sleep tonight.  So as the hedgehog looked around the area, a short distance from the post office, there wasa three floored building.  There was a gray exterior, with white windows, and a sign that said Reluctant Fisherman Inn.  The hedgehog remembered his trip to Gettysburg with Cobalt, that was a place to sleep and also eat.  While the humans were gone, perhaps there was still food inside?  

Pudgy scampered back, and gently pressed on Cobalt’s face with his paws.  “Cobalt, please wake up, Pudgy found somewhere better to stay.”  The dragon did not wake, so it took a couple more attempts to rouse Cobalt.  A very tired dragon woke up, and listened to the excited hedgehog.  He didn’t say anything, and stood up then turned around.  The former human walked slow enough that Pudgy was able to scamper below him while avoiding the rain.  The road would have flooded given the rain, but since its state of disrepair was so bad, the water did pool.  The dragon was almost asleep walking, as they crossed the street and headed towards the inn.  It was a very short walk to reach the gray inn, and they reached the black framed front glass doors.  Reaching up to grasp the handle, Cobalt was amazed that the door pulled open.  “Door isn’t; locked, good …” Pudgy heard his friend mutter, as they walked inside of the front entrance.  

A voice called out from behind them, “hold the door please!”  Pudgy turned around, and noticed a white haired fox was running across the road.  It quickly scooted inside around the dragon, and slid on the white tile floor to stop in front of the inn’s check in desk.  The hedgehog scampered out from underneath his dragon friend, and bounced happily to wave at the fox.  The exhausted dragon moved his tail, to let the door swing shut.  The dragon’s silver eyes were barely open, and looked around the entranceway.  Adjacent to the check in desk, was a set of doors that were labelled restaurant.  “Good call Pudgy, maybe there is still food here.”  The former human turned, and started to head through a set of doors that had been tied open with red cords.  

The hedgehog waved at the soaking wet fox, “Hi!  My name is Pudgy, and that is Cobalt.  We are from Pennsylvania.  What is your name?”  The white fox shook itself off, and a female voice spoke, “did you say Pudgy?  Pudgy, it’s me .. Mary!  I got turned into a fox for some reason?”  The little hedgehog bounced happily, he remembered speaking with Mary many times before on twitter.  She was nice, and would say funny things he didn’t understand sometimes.  The critter ran over and hugged her, and looked up into her happy brown eyes.  “Pudgy glad to finally meet you, Pudgy did not know you lived here?!?!”  Mary had been converted into an arctic fox, which was native to this area.  The former human woman smiled, and hugged the little hedgehog back in his spiffy white outfit.  “Did you say that was Cobalt?  How did he wind up as a dragon?  Let us go join him, I heard this place has good food.  Or at least, it used to …”  

The two smaller animals scampered into the restaurant.  It screamed 1970’s decor, with wood panelling on the walls and ceilings.  Dark blue carpet, with salmon fish were throughout the restaurant.  A heavy smoke smell was in the restaurant, from many years of use of tobacco products over the decades.  There were dark wood tables throughout the restaurant, and there was a huge bar full of bottles of various liquids.  There was no power, so many parts of the room were dark.  As the two new friends walked through the restaurant, and under tables in some spots, they reached a set of wide stairs that descended into a much larger dining room.  There were huge picture windows that looked out into the marina that ran along the shore line.  

Hundreds of boats and ships were moored in the marina, though several had broken free and were drifting aimlessly out to sea.  Pudgy wondered where the boats would go, and how far they would travel?  Mary wiggled her tail, still unsure how she was doing that, and looked out into the distance.  “Clouds are really heavy, it is going to rain for at least a day.  But this is a dry place to stay, we might even get some sleet tonight.”  The hedgehog looked at her, “yes, that is why Pudgy told Cobalt we had to come here.  He was sleeping by the post office, and that would be no good at night.”  The arctic fox nodded, “yes, totally agree there.  I was sleeping underneath a car port, and it was no fun last night.  I live to the north of here, but unsure why I wound up here?”  

Before Pudgy could speak, there was a terrific racket coming from behind them at the kitchen.  Cans of food started to roll out, and down the stairs to land in a pile in front of the hedgehog and fox.  Then a couple boxes of crackers, and cookies were tossed out.  The tired dragon walked out, and then down the stairs to reach the main dining area.  He sat down, and curled his tail around his body.  Opening a box of crackers, he split the box and set it down in front of him.  Mary scampered beside Pudgy up to the offered food, and started to munch happily.  She could not believe the dragon form of Cobalt, and kept watching him.  The dragon had long black claws, and was cutting a restaurant sized can of white sausage gravy open.  Pudgy pointed at Mary, “Cobalt, this is Grumpy Mary from Twitter.  She was turned into a fox, like Argente!”

The dragon popped the lid off, and then started to slurp the salty gravy from the can.  “Hello Mary …”  The dragon trailed off, as he ate, clearly beyond exhausted at this point.  The fox did not take offense, she could clearly tell he was tired.  Looking at Pudgy, and pawing at a sardine can,  the hedgehog helped her pull the can lid off.  The oily slimy fishes appeared in their can, which the arctic fox began to hungrily eat.  While they ate, tiny voices called out, “can we eat too?”  Pudgy turned to see several strangely colored mice peeking at them from behind a table leg.  “Sure, come on over.  Cobalt, can you open some more boxes?”   The dragon complied,  and spread out the box lid so the pretzels were laid out buffet style.  The timid mice scurried over, and then started to hungrilly nibble too.  Mary giggled, never in all of her life did she think she would have dinner with animals.  

The mice bounced happily, along with Pudgy,who introduced Mary and Cobalt.  The critters nodded, and nibbled their food.  The fox nodded as she munched on some crackers, “Pudgy, Cobalt … What are you doing in the far north?  Pennsylvania is so far away!”  The dragon set the empty can down, opened the box of cookies, and then laid his head down.  Falling asleep immediately, the animals watched the dragon while he slept.  Pudgy started to tell his grand tale of what had happened, which soon drew more animals to come listen.  There were in fact many open doors, and over time the inn had more animal guests than human ones.  Mary was happy, and wiggled his tail happily as she got to listen to a Pudgy story in person for the first time.  

The tale he told though was incredibly difficult to listen to.  She had strongly held opinions and beliefs, and what the owls did was completely against what she believed in.  Staying quiet, she noted the response of the animals, who were happy the owls had made the humans go away.  There are always 2 sides to any story, and the former human woman was learning many things in her new converted form.  The erasure of the humans, and their works from the land concerned her.  In time, no one would remember them, and their history would be lost just like the ancient peoples.  Perhaps that is what happened, how many times had Gaia stepped in to reset the world?  She knew what the bible stated, but it turned out, there was another part to the story.

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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