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Grim Learns About A New Dilemma
There is a knock on the front door. Bart Bat and Squiggy Squirrel race to see who can get there first. They blink. And blink again. A strange creature, so far unknown to Midnight Castle, is standing in the doorway in a Halloween costume. The creature smiles and says pleasantly, "Good Morning". "I am Guido Guinea Pig, and I am a party planner." "The grapevine tells me that the Halloween parties you throw here are the bomb! And I'm here to see to it that no Halloween Party anywhere will hold a Candle to yours!"
There is a lot of Eye bulging as Guido Guinea Pig enters the kitchen. Where on earth can this odd creature be from??? Grimdahl Tiger has other things on his mind right now, so he absentmindedly says "Welcome Guido, I will speak with you later". "Corky, maybe he would like a Hot Dog. Or one of Lenny's Cookies for lunch." "No no no no no no!" Says, Chef Fabio". "I am an expert in ALL types of cuisine, and will make Guido a proper meal he will never forget!" And with that, Grim is out the door.
On his way to the Tavern, Grim thinks about Arabella Scales and her mean-spirited witchcraft. They came to learn that she was reading a Book called "The Wiz" and thought it would be fun to turn Salty into the Scarecrow, Henry into the Cowardly Lion, Skull Pete into the Tin Man, and Valeria into Dorothy. Fortunately, it was not a long-lasting spell, and one day shortly thereafter, they all woke up back to their usual selves.
Grim is looking forward to having a Velvet Ale (or two, or three) with Salty. Maybe if Salty imbibes a little too much, he will spill the beans to Grim about his expansion plans.
As Grimdahl enters the Tavern, there is no sign of Salty, just a little boy behind the Bar Counter. Could it be? No, of course not. Then the boy winks at him, and says, "Hiya Grim. How about a game of catch? I have a new Ball!"
"OH NO!", thinks Grimdahl Tiger. "Not again!!!" I swear I am going to get that Arabella Scales and give her a lesson she will never forget." Approaching the Bar Counter, Grim smiles and says, "Sure thing Salty. Let's go out back and play catch!"
It’a A Sweet Life!
Pepito Pumpkin was beside himself with excitement. His idol, All Hallows Jack, was back. Along with several other pets, he raced off to the Castle Vicinity.
All Hallows Jack was busy filling small pumpkins with Halloween candy - Orange Candy, Black Candy, Gummy Eyeballs, Toffee Apple & Dreadful Ginger (not sure if so named because of the taste or not). Once he had a heap filled he waved his hand. To the pets amazement, the pumpkins zipped away.
All Hallows Jack laughed. "The pumpkins are going to drop off that candy here & there all over Midnight Castle. They will appear in an area & if no-one catches them, they will come back here for a refill." chortled Jack. The pets were astounded but just a little disappointed. They were hoping for some candy for themselves. Jack just shook his head & told them they would have to search the castle rooms & explore all scenes to find them. Galvanised the pets scattered & began their hunt for the prized candy.
As the Life Measurer goes, the pets were not gone long. They arrived back at the Burnt Tree to show All Hallows Jack their candy. He said "A Handful of candies. I'll swap you a song for a handful of sweets." Some of the pets complied. Eventually they headed for home singing
Trick or Treat! This is sweet! Give me something good to eat.
Once home, the pets displayed their finds. Petunia Pig piped up with "All Hallows Jack said: On Halloween there's no such thing as too much candy! Worry about tooth decay tomorrow."
I shook my head. All Hallows Jack was like a Nature Force. So, instead of railing, I made sure the pets found their toothbrush & thoroughly brushed their animal tooth/teeth or fangs or beaks.
It's A Sweet Life!
Radar Joins Our Family
The door chimes sounded - a Ringing Silver sound echoed throughout the house. Someone was at the door and they were keeping their finger on the button. Admittedly the Hymn of Dawn had been sung awhile ago but our household was quiet this morning. As for myself: after a restless night tending to pets with sore tummies (from eating too much candy), I had a Headache and really needed a cup of coffee - not a visitor. But I plastered a polite smile on my face and opened the door.
"Good morning!" boomed the Ghost Hunter. "As you can see I am back again! The Directorate from the Division of Paranormal Activity back in my home dimension has informed me that an Inter-dimensional Dark Portal has been opened between your world & mine. It will take them some weeks to close it down safely. In the meantime ghosts have flooded over into this dimension. I will do my best to control & capture the ghosts - especially the unruly ones. However I have run into a problem." the Ghost Hunter sighed. "Some of the ghosts have taken my ghost traps & hidden them. Your pets were so helpful last year, I was hoping they would help me find the traps this year?"
"Let's ask them!" I said as I invited him inside. That was when I noticed the eerie looking dog. It had black & brown fur, droopy ears, blue eyes surrounded by a green glow, fluorescent green upper lip & paw pads. When it opened its mouth, the blue tongue glowed & a greenish fluorescent glow appeared around the mouth. He was on a chain that the Ghost Hunter had a hold of.
"That's my other problem!" stated the Ghost Hunter glumly. "He was playing 'fetch' with some of the unruly ghosts who had stolen my ghost traps. He is a ghost dog - a Hounder. But I can't send him back to my dimension. So I was wondering.........
"Radar! Is that you! I have missed you so much" Whimpy Wisp interrupted the conversation. Radar yapped & his tongue lolled out as he happily greeted Whimpy.
"You know this creature?" I queried.
"Oh, yes!" replied Whimpy Wisp. "That is Radar - my bestest friend when I was in my old world. We got separated when those mean ghosts chased me after we crossed the Inter-dimensional Dark Portal last year. Please say he can stay. Pleeeease! I will look after him. I can move out of the bunny warren on the Spring Terrace. We could move into the Sanctum with Maya Elephant, Gunnar Grim (Eagle Owl) & Ding Bat. There is lots of room there. Oh, please say yes??" Whimpy pleaded. His little head glowing.
I looked from Radar to Whimpy to the other pets that had gathered to see what was going on. All appeared to be in favour of Radar staying. So I nodded.
The Ghost Hunter said "Oh, thank goodness! I didn't know what else to do with him." Just then his telephone rang. "Duty calls!" he boomed. But first the pets had to re-assure him that they would help look for his ghost traps. Then off he went, humming "Who you gonna call?"
The pets raced off to introduce Radar to Maya, Gunnar & Ding leaving me to ponder. What Thread of Fate was woven into the Weave of Life that resulted in Radar & Whimpy being re-united after all this time?
Gigi Guinea Pig Arrives at Ms Dot’s Place
Petunia Pig was feeling "down". She missed Corky Pig. Miss Linet had been called away unexpectedly leaving Grimdahl Tiger in charge. Grimdahl asked Corky to assist him in looking after the rest of Miss Linet's pets.
So Heather Hippo took Petunia on a ghost trap 'seek & find" through the castle. By the time they had arrived at the Forbidden Tower, they had only managed to find 2 traps. So they consulted the Wise Dragon. But he wasn't much help. Although he did allow the girls to search his Tower. They perked up immediately when they found a gold chest each. Heather was especially happy. She usually finds silver chests, not gold ones. Deciding a trip to Kaley's Fancy Goods was a much more interesting thing to do, the girls abandoned the ghost trap 'seek & find' and headed for Town.
On the way, they dropped the 2 traps that they had found off with All Hallows Jack to give to the Ghost Hunter. A look around the Broken Carriage yielded not one! not two! but 3 rusty chests for Petunia & 2 rusty chests for Heather. A quick conversation & Heather and Petunia decided that the rusty chests would go to Miss Dot to help with household expenses. The gold chests were theirs.
On their way home (to give Miss Dot the rusty chests), they noticed an odd looking creature walking along the roadside. It was tugging a gold chest.
Huff! Puff! The little creature went. Petunia Pig & Heather Hippo just had to have a closer look. That was when they realized that the pointy head was actually a witch's hat and that the creature wasn't orange with black stars on its back but that it was covered by a cape. Laughing a trifle nervously, the pets said "Hi!"
Huff! "Hi," replied the little creature. "Can't talk. Need to get to Miss Dot's place. Then it stopped & looked at the pets. "Do you know the way?"
Petunia & Heather nodded. And - - - "We will help you get there!" they chorused together. BFFs always! Petunia began hollering for Miss Dot as the trio reached the verandah out front of the house.
I ran to see what the problem was and did a double take. Sitting on Heather Hippo's shoulder was a - - - - -
"Hi!" the little creature said. " I am (here it raised itself on its back legs & flung its arms wide) Gigi. Gigi Guinea Pig." I almost expected a drum roll so expansive was the introduction. "All Hallows Jack sent me. He hopes you have room for one more. Me! He told me to come bearing gifts so I give you this gold chest I found at the Castle Vicinity."
"He did, did he?" I mutter.
"Oh yes." answered Gigi. "He also sent an invitation to the Spooky Party he is holding. He has been told that the Inter-dimensional Dark Portal is almost fixed so the ghosts will be going home very soon. So he is going to have a 'farewell - see you again sometime' party!"
"A Party!" yelped Emerald Dragon. There is one thing Emerald loves & that is a party. "Please say we can go?" she pleaded.
"It is a costume party so you will need a costume," Gigi added.
"Where are the extra sheets?" one of the pets shouted. "I want to be a ghost.
"Hope Mandy Manticore can whip me up a Green Sickness potion" mused Bright Eyes or rather Liv Lemur. "I want to be a zombie. Where is the ketchup?" Off she races.
"I want a costume like yours," said Petunia, pointing to Gigi's costume. "I got it from Kaley's Fancy Goods - in the Theatre Cloak Room" replied Gigi. One glance between Petunia & Heather and they are off to Town.
Looks like we are going to a party. I sigh as the pets scatter, talking excitedly.
"Welcome to the family, Gigi. Now lets find where you are going to sleep!" I offer.
The Spooky Party
Finally the pets are ready. I look over an assortment of witches & wizards (one even has an authentic looking Wizard's Ball); ghosts of different hues; ghouls (waving a Ghoul Bone); zombies (marvellous what Green Sickness potion & tomato sauce can do) and vampires (with many a Bloody Tooth). There is even a mad scientist and a fairy.
We arrive at the Castle Vicinity. Hundreds of pumpkins light the area with their flickering candles. The scene is chaos. Ghosts & bats are flying everywhere while scary music fills the air - courtesy of the Werewolf Knight & the Baying Hounders. Off to the right, I see skeletons doing the Shake, Rattle & Roll. To the left, the vampires are doing the Transylvania Twist. There are yetis doing the Big Foot Stomp and the ghouls are doing the Castle Romp. In the middle is the Boogie Woogie Pumpkin Man himself - All Hallows Jack. "Come on in!" he calls. "The goblins are screeching & the ghosts are going BOO! Even the zombies are having fun; the party has just begun!"
The pets did not need a second invitation. I strolled off to check out the food which was set out on tables at the Castle Gates. The menu sounded .... well, you be the judge.
Fake Stake - a cooked sausage on a stick; dipped in tomato sauce.
Wings & Things - cooked turkey legs & wings marinated in a hot pepper sauce.
Finny Friends - fish (including fish skeleton) baked in lemon juice.
Monster Mash - lobster & shrimp covered by avocado cream.
Weeds & Reeds - salad of lettuce, cabbage, carrots, onions, shallots, celery & pickles sprinkled with grated cheese. Ketchup optional.
Jelly Roll - sandwich with strawberry jam oozing from it.
For dessert, there is .......
Graveyard Sponge - chocolate cake cut into squares; atop each square is a sponge finger shaped like a Headstone with R.I.P. written in dripping raspberry jam.
Ooey Gooey - custard & cream mixed with orange, red & green chopped jelly and pineapple pieces with strawberry sauce drizzled all over.
Berry Scary - smashed blackberries, blueberries, raspberries & strawberries served over banana slices.
PLUS Halloween Candy.
Then I spot Salty Took?? It is a very young version of Salty. If it is him! Whoever he is, he is the barkeep for this party. So I ambled over thinking a Velvet Ale would be nice. But when I requested one, Salty informed me that kids are not allowed to serve alcohol. He handed me the drinks list.
Blood Flow Potion - lemonade and tomato juice.
Deadly Gulp - green cordial, lemon juice and lemonade.
Infusion of Suffering - the punch containing ginger ale, creaming soda & lemonade with floating bits of fruit - watermelon balls, lime slices, green & purple individual grapes and apple chunks.
I settle on a glass of Infusion of Suffering. Thanking Salty, I go looking for a nice comfy chair so I can sit & still keep an eye on my pets. But be out of the way of the dancing, racing, swirling mass attending the party. The party is Spook-tacular! Sure wish Linet was here. Hopefully she will be home soon & that the business she was called away to attend to is not too stressful.
The After-Party ‘Blues’
Aaahh! The After-Party Blues!! Some of the pets are feeling, well, a little the worse-for-wear.
Emerald Dragon is nursing a Headache from too much party fun.
Yowla Yeti is sitting in the lounge. Her foot elevated on the foot stool. We are alternating ice packs & heat packs. Her foot got trampled & badly bruised when one of the yetis did the Big Foot Stomp on Yowla's foot.
Sitting beside Yowla is Cuddles Panda. He went as a ghoul. While he was doing the Castle Romp, he got his foot stuck among the rocks at the base of the Gnome Road Sign. He sprained his ankle. So it is strapped with an ice pack on it.
Felicity Rabbit went as a Vampiress. Unfortunately when she was doing the Transylvania Twist, she tried to twist herself into a pretzel! Today her muscles are so sore, she can barely move.
Pup Puppy & Oki Dog have stomach aches. They made off with strings of sausages (for the Fake Stakes) before Rocky Racoon from the Gnome Kitchen could cook them. Then they sat & wolfed them down. It was too much of a good thing.
Heather Hippo & Petunia Pig went as witches. They cackled & stirred their brew. I have no idea what they put in their Cauldron but today they are feeling & looking decidedly 'seedy'.
Alvin Penguin & Sidney Snowman went as ghosts. However they yelled "BOO!" so many times that today they have lost their voices.
Cora Crocodile went as herself. She had lots of fun as well as lots of Halloween Candy. It was while she was crunching/ munching on some Black Candy that she snapped a piece off her animal tooth. Now she has toothache. We have an appointment with a dentist later today.
The rest of the pets are quietly reading, watching television or snoozing. In fact everything is so quiet that I can clearly hear the Nature Sounds from the surrounding bushland. I pour myself a cup of coffee; ease into a comfortable chair on the verandah & sit back to savour the quiet.
A Delivery of Pets
Suddenly a truck bearing the logo of the Midnight Castle Pet Hatchery came rattling down the driveway. The rather large man (that had had trouble getting out from behind the steering wheel) approached me. After a quick glance at the clipboard he held, he asked me "Are you Miss Dot?"
"Yes" I replied puzzled.
"I have a delivery for you." he said.
"But, but I didn't .-.-.- I mean, what .-.-.- " I spluttered.
"This is the animal sanctuary near the Castle Vicinity, isn't it?" he queried. At my nod, he continued "Sign here, please. Where do you want them?"
I spied 3 boxes - 2 large wooden crates & a smaller rectangular box. There were thumps & bangs coming from the smallest box - sounded like the occupant wanted "Out!" Thinking that it may be better to be in a confined space if that occupant did escape, I answered "Lounge, please!"
On his way out, the delivery man piped up with "Here is a letter that may explain about the boxes." he stated as he handed me an envelop.
The gathered pets & I stared at the boxes. The small one was moving so I bent over and undid the lock. Out shot a spitting, hissing bundle of fur. It made a beeline for the kitchen. Then we heard Gabbi Griffin yell "Here! Bring that back!" The bundle dashed away from Gabbi straight back into the lounge. Showing Fangs & Claws, it backed into a corner in the unlit Old Fireplace. The fish that was to have been our meal firmly clamped between it's teeth. If we made a step towards it, the creature growled. We watched as it started to munch it's catch. Maybe it was just hungry? "Let's give it space," I said to the pets.
Crates or letter? Which will we do first?
Instead I asked Petunia Pig to go fetch my coin purse. When she returned, I handed her some coins. I told her to "Go to the Pirate Ship at Mirror Lake and get some more fish. If the olives are fresh, can you some of them too, please? Take Heather Hippo with you & no dillydallying! We need the fish for our evening meal." The duo departed.
With trepidation, I opened the letter.
Dear Miss Dot,
Please accept our humblest apologies for our oversight.
Last Winter you bought 2 eggs to us - a bluish-green coloured egg with an orange fur strip wrapped around it and a grey egg with a red & white fur strip wrapped around it. Unfortunately the eggs were placed at the back of the storage refrigerator & forgotten. A recent inventory stocktake highlighted our error. As they were still viable, we have hatched them for you.
The bluish-green egg has hatched a Baby Mammoth. She is so cute. We have adorned her with Christmas lights as a gift to you. Oh, she is a pygmy mammoth so she won't grow too big.
The grey egg has hatched an adorable Winter Cat. We decked her out with a Santa Hat. Unfortunately she may not be very amenable when you first meet her. She hates being locked up. However that is the only way we can transport her to you. Please forgive us if she is a tad 'wild'.
As compensation for our oversight, we are gifting you an exotic, difficult-to-get pet. It really is a roll of the dice who gets this pet. It is a Golden-Antlered Moose. He is charming.
Again our sincerest apologies! We do hope that this oversight does not affect you doing business with us.
Midnight Castle Pet Hatchery
I shake my head. I thought the eggs must have been duds - like that Odd Egg that never hatches anything that the receptionist at the Hatchery told me about. But no! Now we have a mammoth & another cat. Oh let's not forget my gift - a moose!
The Crates Contained A Mammoth & A Moose
I looked at the crates.
Sebastian Seal removed the nail holding the door on the crate. It swung open. Out stepped a mammoth. It had a brown, soft fur coat. She smiled & batted her eyelashes. Then lifted her trunk & trumpeted. Maya Elephant trumpeted in return. These two were going to get on. I breathed a sigh of relief.
Sebastian released the last pet. Out stepped - or rather out danced (soft shoe shuffle type dancing) the moose. "I am a song & dance man" he proudly announced. "Do you want to hear me sing?" Then he promptly started in a warm, bass-baritone.
Would you like to swing on a ? Carry moonbeams home in a jar.
He was an instant hit with the pets. "My name is Morris Moose and my friend (pointing to the mammoth) is Marliss Mammoth. We humbly beg a home." he requested with a flourish & a bow.
"Of course." I replied. "You can house with Maya Elephant, Gunnar Grim (Eagle Owl), Ding Bat, Whimpy Wisp & Radar Hounder." Phew! I thought. Glad the sanctum was a big building.
The pets trooped off to show Morris & Marliss their new quarters. While I looked at the small cat in the Old Fireplace. I fetched a dish of water & placed it on the mat in front of the fireplace. The cat crept forward. While she lapped at the water, I spoke softly to her. "Look at you. All covered in Ash Particles! I think I will call you Sooty." She allowed me to pet her. Then she yawned, curled up on the mat & went to sleep.
My motley crew of misfit pets just keeps growing. "Oh well." I mutter aloud. "Only 3 more mouths to feed!"
"Actually," a small voice said in an Apprehensive Tone.
Two More Mouths to Feed
How well I recall that scene when Brodie Bunny, nervously twisting his Top Hat around in his fingers, said "Actually..."
I reminisce.as I settle into my easy chair before the roaring blaze in the Old Fireplace. The year has flown by so quickly. It is winter again so the warmth from the fire is welcome. Outside there had been an early Snowfal – the kind the pets loved to play inl. Brrr! Inside it is cosy & warm.
Earlier in the day Floyd Fire Rooster had cleaned out the Ash Particles, laid in some sticks & lit a lovely fire. Along the mantle the pets' Christmas Stockings had been hung. Above them is a row of Christmas Bells that make a tinkling sound when they move. Near the fireplace is the Christmas Tree decorated with all the Tree Trimmings - Festive Garlands, Fir Cones and Christmas Lights. A Christmas Star is at the top.
On the mat in front of the fireplace is Sooty the Winter Cat. She looks like a melted snowman. She is purring quietly.
"Actually could you make that 5 more mouths to feed?" Brodie asked in an Apprehensive Tone. "My aunt sent me a letter saying that her rabbit warren is overcrowded & did we have room for 2 more bunnies? I thought since Wimpy Wisp's room in our barrel warren on the Spring Terrace is vacant that we would. I wanted to talk it over with you but my aunt has jumped the gun and already sent my cousins here. That is them coming down the driveway now." He points to 2 figures hopping along the path.
The first bunny had brown fur & was wearing a jester's outfit. The bells on his Jester Cap jingling as he moved his head. He turned his bright-eyed green stare on me. "Hi! I'm Lester the Jester." He laughed at his own joke. "Thanks for having us. Winter’s heavy snowfalls will be here very soon. On the way here I saw a Red Cardinal - a sure Sign of Winter. Hi cuz!" Lester greeted Brodie.
The second bunny smiled shyly at me. She was pink with blue eyes; was wearing a green vest & a straw hat with a flower attached. She was carrying a trowel. "That is Amy Bunny." Brodie piped up. "She doesn't talk much." "Too shy!" he adds in an aside whisper. "But she loves working in the garden. Maybe she can help Sebastian Seal.'
"More hands are always welcome!" said Sebastian. He had come up to our small group as Amy was being introduced.
With a sigh, I said "Welcome to our family." I might worry about feeding extra pets but I do love watching & helping animals grow healthy & happy.