Sam’s luck runs out.

 

 

Arki woke slowly, feeling Kodiak’s reassuring touch as she surfaced from deep, warm, comfortable sleep.  The shock and fear of the last day or so had worn Arki down, and now she was safe, her body had shut down totally, forcing her into deep sleep.  Arki stretched all four of her huge paws, which woke Kodiak, who looked at Arki with eyes full of gentle love for her.

      “Good morning my dear,”  Arki said, touching Kodiak’s paw, and feeling his paw envelope her own well padded paw.  Kodiak held on to Arki’s paw for a long time, feeling her warm fur, and well padded paw in his.

      “Morning Arki love,”  Kodiak replied, snuggling closer to her.  Arki smiled and looked up to where Amber and Stifftail slept.  The two snow leopards slept on top of the wardrobe, for it was warm up there, and they could see everything that went on.

      “Morning Amber, Stifftail, Have any of you seen the weather today?”  Arki asked.

       “Try listening before you ask such asinine questions!”  Stifftail snapped.  Arki listened, and heard rain hitting the windows, driven by a gale force wind.

      “What do you hear?”  Stifftail asked.

      “Wind and rain,”  Arki replied.

      “Then why the hell did you ask!”  Stifftail yelled.

      “There’s no need to be like that,”  Brunetta said, “Arki was just being polite to you.  I now see why most of us have written you off Stiffy!”

      “Don’t call me Stiffy!”  Stifftail wined, “my name’s bad enough as it is!”

      “Oh dear,”  Tilly said, “you really did get out of the wrong side of the bed this morning.”  Stifftail snarled savagely at the arctic fox cub.

      “So what if I did!”  he yelled, “just leave me alone, every dam one of you!”  Brushtail looked up at Stifftail.

       “You are a horrid creature,”  she barked, “a nasty piece of work!”

      “you can shut it too!”  Stifftail yelled.

      “Harmonious times lie ahead,”  Lucy mused.  Reynard laughed harshly.

      “With Stifftail here?  I don’t think so,”  he replied.

      “Look,”  Amber mewed, “we’re all safe here.  We have a warm place to stay, good food, and a comfortable place to sleep.  What are we arguing for?”

      “You can’t talk Amber!”  Brushtail yelled, “you’re the one who hates snowy so much you attacked her while she was asleep!”  Amber hoped Brushtail wouldn’t remember that.

      “It’s true I don’t like Snowy,”  Amber replied, “but now she’s leader of the community n’all, I haven’t got much choice but to try and get on with her, misfit though she is.”

       “I heard they locked Sam up in the wardrobe,”  Reynard said.  Sam, lying on the carpet a little way off, snarled at the fox to:

     “Shut it!”

       “I heard he was so freaked out, he’ll never go near Arki again,”  Tolstuka remarked.  Sam growled deep in his throat.

       “You mention that bloody wardrobe one more time, I’ll, I’ll break your paws!  I’ll break your paws Tolstuka!  One by one!”  he yelled.

      “I don’t think Sam likes us talking about the wardrobe,”  Hazel remarked to Lucy.  Lucy nudged the albino squirrel with her nose.

      “I’d be quiet,”  she whispered, “for Sam’s a lot larger than both of us put together!”  Hazel massaged Lucy’s left forepaw with her right.

      “Don’t worry about me,”  she said, “I’ll be okay.”  Hazel turned, to find Sam’s nose two inches from her face!  The polar bear opened his mouth and gave vent to a threatening snarl, which went on and on and on!  Breathing through his nose, Sam varied the pitch of his snarl until Hazel and Lucy were trembling from nose to tail!  Then Sam picked Hazel up in his teeth and, with a jerk of his head,  threw her onto the quilt!  Hazel screamed as she flew through the air!  Arki caught the flying Squirrel as she landed, holding on tight to her.

      “It’s okay, I’ve got you!”  Arki said with as much reassurance as she could muster, for Sam’s violence had upset her as much as it had Lucy and Hazel.

       “Give it a rest you great big bully!”  Kodiak yelled.

      “No Kodiak, don’t fight him!”  Arki pleaded, “Sam’s not worth it!”

      “He’s game when he’s deliberately thrown a squirrel across the room Arki,”  Kodiak replied.

 

The sound of scuffing paws announced the arrival of Tigger.

      “Keep out of this blind one,”  Sam scoffed, “you think you can fight me too?  Get a load of this!”  Sam jeered, playing to an audience which comprised one, namely Stifftail, “the blind tiger is going to fight me! I’d like to see him,,,”  Sam’s sentence ended in a yell of pain as Tigger’s hard left forepaw smashed into his nose!  Sam crumpled to the floor.

     “Someone help me get this to the wardrobe!”  Tigger yelled, leaping on top of Sam to suppress his struggles when he woke.  Kodiak and the furball, who’d heard the commotion and come to investigate, dragged Sam out of the room, with Tigger delivering a stinging blow to Sam’s nose by way of a parting shot.  Sam’s paws were useless, his whole body limp and seemingly lifeless.  Only his breathing told the other animals he was alive.

 

Shoving Sam into the wardrobe and slamming the door, the furball and Kodiak returned to their places.

     “Someone had better tell Leo and snowy,”  Tigger said.  Leo shuffled into the room.

     “I already know,”  the lion said, “Sam’s really for it this time!  I’m not letting him out for a long time!  Throwing Hazel across the room, who the hell does he think he is!  I hope she’s not hurt.

      “She landed on the quilt,”  Arki replied, “she’s a bit shocked, but that’s nothing time won’t cure.”  Leo looked at the shivering white squirrel in Arki’s massive paws.

       “Poor little thing,”  he said gently.  Hazel, seeing Leo up close for the first time, didn’t know whether to run away or fight him.

      “What’s that!”  she demanded of Arki.

     “That’s Leo,”  Arki replied, “he’s a lion.”

      “I don’t want anything to do with big huge lions!”  Hazel whimpered, “polar bears are bad enough!”

       “A polar bear is bigger than a lion Hazel,”  Kodiak volunteered.

      “Oh no they’re not!”  Hazel yelled, “well at least this lion outstrips any polar bear I’ve ever seen!  He’s huge, with big paws!”

      “I’m very gentle though,”  Leo said.

      “No you’re not, not with those great big paws!, you can’t be!”  Hazel yelled.

       ?”You’re hurting my ears little one,”  Leo said gently.  Then he reached forward with both forepaws, and took Hazel in both paws.

        “Let go of me!”  Hazel yelled, battering with her tiny paws at the huge paws holding her.

       “Now don’t be like that,”  Leo purred.  Hazel wriggled and beat at Leo’s paws until the lion released her.

      “You are horrible!”  Hazel yelled.

      “A nicer, more gentle lion you could never hope to meet Hazel,”  snowy said, crawling into the room.

      “You’re telling me Snowy that this great big cat is gentle?”  Hazel asked, “you must be joking!”

       “No,”  Snowy replied, “I’m not joking, he’s really gentle.”

      “How can a huge thing like that with the paws he’s got know anything about gentility?”  Hazel asked.

      “he does know about gentility, and how to be extra careful when handling tiny animals like cubs, or squirrels for that matter,”  Snowy replied.  Hazel laughed harshly:

      “You expect me to believe that?”  she said, “when you’re a huge cat too?  I’ll only believe it when I hear it from a small animal.  Hey Lucy!  Get over to that huge lion and show me he’s gentle!  You look up for it!”  Lucy looked at Leo, who was now close to tears.

       “I’m not afraid of him,”  she said, “for I know how good he is to other animals.”  With that, Lucy walked up to Leo, sat down between his forepaws and looked up into his face.  When Leo lowered his head to nuzzle her ear, Lucy rubbed his cheek with her nose, making Leo smile with pleasure.  Gently stroking Lucy’s back with his huge left forepaw, Leo let Lucy stroke the pads of his right with both her tiny forepaws.

      “I don’t know if you noticed,”  Snowy said, “but Leo’s claws are sheathed.  He’s got no intention of doing Lucy any harm at all.”  Hazel waited, wondering if Leo would suddenly attack Lucy, but he didn’t.  He just kept stroking, stroking, stroking her back, while the tiny Labrador pup stroked the pads of Leo’s free paw, being careful not to tickle them of course.

      “Now I must go and attend to Sam,”  Leo said to Lucy, who caressed Leo’s right forepaw one last time and then stepped away from him.

       “I’m sorry it’s come to this,”  the pup said, “hopefully we can meet in better times Leo.”

      “I’m only downstairs if you want to visit,”  Leo said, smiling at Lucy.  Patting her tiny left forepaw with his right, Leo shuffled out of the room to deal with Sam.  The Polar bear was really for it this time!

 

 

 

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Martin Wilsher © 2005

 

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