A deadly plot.
Leo woke slowly. He wondered why he was so warm, his paws enveloped in folds of the rug he lay upon. Then he remembered the events of the previous night. Shortly after everyone had settled down for the night, snowy asked Leo if he would like a change of scenery for a night. Theodore was in Clarence’s care for the night, so Leo could relax in the knowledge his brother was safe. Leo had lain down on the rug beside Snowy half tail, the snow tigress enveloping him in a warm hug. Leo wanted to return her affection, but she told him to save it for later, now was his time to relax and be looked after. Leo lay on the rug, letting snowy work her magic all over him from nose to tail. Snowy half tail knew how to stroke a lion, Leo could feel that. She especially knew how to stroke his paws, gently taking each of his paws in hers and rubbing the pads until Leo relaxed the paw totally. Once this was done, Snowy asked Leo to roll onto his back, so she could more easily reach his ears. Snowy’s ear massage was almost as good as her paw massage. Leo found himself drifting in a dream.
Amber watched from where she lay on another rug not too far away. After hearing of her disgraceful behaviour during the last few weeks, the boss had turfed her from under the quilt, telling her to lie on a rug like snowy did. Tigger elected to stay on the quilt, as he wanted to be as far away from Amber as possible without leaving the quilt crew entirely. Amber lay beside Stifftail, swallowing her distaste at his views on the life chances of their two cubs Whitie and Blanche.
Stifftail looked at Amber, he’d wanted to make amends with her for so long, for he’d thought long and hard about his two cubs, how they’d adapted to their situations, and how much a part of the community they now were.
“Amber,” Stifftail said, “I’ve been thinking about our cubs.”
“Thinking of ways to get rid of them you mean?” Amber asked.
“No Amber no!” Stifftail replied, “I was thinking about them, how they’d coped with their problems, that kind of thing. I know now that you were right, they are wonderful cubs. I want to, to apologise to both of them, to you too. I can’t undo what I said, but I can try to repair the damage done.”
“I will only let you near my cubs if you promise me one thing,” Amber said.
“What’s that?” Stifftail asked, eager to comply.
“You help me get rid of Snowy half tail,” Amber said. Stifftail stared at her.
“No Amber no!” he mewed, “I can’t do that! Snowy’s all right, she saved your, our cubs! I can’t help you do that!” Amber swept her paw down in a chopping motion.
“that’s it then,” she said, no access to Whitie or Blanche.” Stifftail’s squeal of pain made Tigger and Arki look round to see what had happened. Even Leo, comatose from Snowy’s massage, woke suddenly, flexing his paws for battle,.
“snowy needs to be got rid of, killed and put into one of those black rubbish sacks the boss uses to throw rubbish out and then thrown into the black bin where he puts food waste. I’ve read the recycling leaflet he got through the door, and I know what goes in the black bin. Snowy needs to be thrown out of the community!
“I agree,” Morose said. Morose, a black and white horse who lived in an alcove of the room, was a disagreeable animal. He’d been rescued by the boss by feeding him lies and deception. Now the horse stood in the alcove, just waiting to cause problems. His real name was Maurice, but as usual, one of the cubs, Candy this time it was said, had misheard his name and told the rest of the room his name was morose, which in time, suited the horse well, as he was every bit of that. Amber turned and looked up into the horse’s mean eyes. She hated him, but if their purposes were similar, she’d work with him to get rid of snowy half tail.
“how shall we do it Morose?” Amber asked. The horse’s eyes fastened onto the snow tigress in question.
“I could always kick her to death,” he offered, “she can’t move very well, and I can at least walk.” Leo, on hearing this, rolled onto his paws, growling and snarling.
“Oh dear,” Morose said, “we’ve upset the big cat, I’m so scared!” Leo noted Morose’s mocking tone. Snowy meanwhile, had given up trying to massage Leo, fighting to ignore the talk around her, for she’d seen the black sacks, and the black bin of which Amber and Morose spoke. Terrified, snowy lay on her rug, wondering what was going to happen to her. Leo hadn’t finished however.
“You should be scared Morose,” Leo replied softly, “for I am larger, stronger, and more angry than you will ever get! I want your stuffing horse!” With that he launched himself at Morose, accidentally stepping on Snowy’s left forepaw as he did so. Snowy squealed with pain, but Leo was angry, and hardly heeded her. Flying at Morose, Leo landed with his forepaws clasped round the horse’s neck. Twisting his body, Leo brought the horse down. Leaning on him, Leo roared into Morose’s face.
“You are a horrible creature!” Leo yelled. Morose finally felt fear, for the lion was massive, heavy, and very angry!
“Let me go!” Morose pleaded.
“No, I won’t!” Leo snarled, “you know what we lions can do, for you’ve seen Clarence give punishment. I am larger than he is, stronger than he is, and more experienced than he is. I can rip your stuffing out and hang your skin from a flagpole without effort. Also, I will do the same for Amber too, for I hate her almost as much as I hate you horse!” Amber whimpered with fear. Snowy, realising what was going on, buried her face in her paws and began to cry quietly, in case she alerted Amber. Tigger and Arki watched, and Now Brunetta, who’d been woken by Leo’s attack on Morose, watched also, fascinated by Leo’s sudden change into a raging fury.
“Snowy half tail stays,” Leo growled, “it’s not my wish for her to go, if anything Morose,, you should leave, for you got your place here by lies and deception. You are a horrid, spiteful creature, who while being disabled yourself, give disabled animals a bad name!” Morose knew he looked worse than snowy half tail, his body twisted and eyes misaligned. He knew he was a physical wreck, but he thought Snowy worse than himself. He wanted to take revenge on those whom he thought had a better life than he did, which was everybody. Maurice, or Morose could have had a good life, but he’d chosen the path of making other animals lives hell, and now could not go back. He knew the other animals didn’t care what he looked like, and would take him as they found him, but Morose hated everybody in the room, including Amber, whom he’d sided with. He wanted to cause maximum trouble, and thought he could do so easily. Morose was now learning that even though Snowy was clumsy, had large paws, was thrown out of her family shortly after birth, and had health problems, she was still respected by most of the animals who lived in the house, and also, despite her earlier misdeeds, she was able to redeem herself to emerge with her standing in the community almost undamaged. Morose hated Snowy for this, in his view, a misfit like her should never be allowed to redeem herself like snowy had apparently done. Morose made the mistake of airing his views to Leo, who cuffed him hard across the side of his head with his paw. Morose squealed with pain!
“You should be banished from here!” Leo yelled, almost weeping with rage, “I will make sure you are banished from here!” Leo kicked the horse to his feet, and then out into the hallway. Leo knew Morose was light, in fact Leo was twice the weight of the horse he was attacking. Leo Suddenly felt someone arrive beside him. It was the furball!
“Both of us Leo,” The furball said, “I might have made mistakes in the past, but I never wanted Snowy dead. I’m now regretting wanting Candy dead too. Shadow has spoken sternly to me about my conduct, and I want to make amends. If dealing with Morose will go some way to doing this, I will help you gladly. Leo looked over at the huge polar bear.
“Any help gratefully received,” the lion replied. The furball and Leo worked their forepaws beneath Morose’s belly and lifted him off his feet, hefting him over the banister and letting him fall down the stairs! Morose screamed as he fell, crashing and tumbling. Leo wasn’t sure if the horse would survive the fall, for he knew how steep the stairs were. The furball looked at Leo and smiled:
“One nasty creature dealt with,” he said. Leo nodded, but looked unhappy.
“I didn’t want to do that,” he said, “I hate doing things like that.” The furball returned to the study, while Leo returned to the bedroom. Tigger and Arki met him, and each hugged Leo tightly. Tigger and his cub each hugged Leo, the cub working his paws into Leo’s mane while he hugged the lion. Leo hugged the cub tightly. He massaged the cub’s paws, the cub laughing as Leo’s paws inadvertently tickled his. Tigger watched his cub and Leo’s interaction.
“He’s as comfortable with you as he is with me,” Tigger said. Leo smiled and rubbed the cub’s paw with his. The cub buried his head in Leo’s mane.
“that’s wonderful to see,” Arki said. Leo purred contentedly as the tiger cub snuggled up to him. Leo tickled the cub’s paws, the cub waving his paws in the air as Leo tickled him. Arki laughed helplessly, grateful to let off steam after the anxious times before.
Meanwhile, Morose lay at the bottom of the stairs, his body bruised and battered. He knew he’d blown his chances totally and would be out of the house as soon as the boss heard what he’d proposed.
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