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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.
Gordon Gobbler Arrives
The Weather Forecaster has informed us that winter is almost over. The temperatures are warming up turning snow drifts into slushy, muddy puddles. Petunia Pig and Heather Hippo are wallowing in a puddle - getting their mud pack beauty treatment, they said. While Pup Puppy, Itchi Woolly Paw & Oki Dog are busy just jumping in muddy puddles to see how messy they can get. All around the Nature Sounds are letting us know that the woodland is coming back from its winter slumber.
Inside the house, I sit in front of the unlit fireplace - thinking how much fun this Christmas had been. Busy but fun! It will soon be time to take down the Christmas Decorations & put away the Christmas Tree.
I rub my eyes. Shake my head. No, I didn't just see the elf sitting on the mantelpiece wink at me. I tell myself. Then he did it again. I stared as the elf rose & stood in front of me. It was the Christmas Elf. "I have a problem," he told me. He opened the front door & in walked the goofiest looking turkey I had ever seen. "I have been looking out for him during winter but I soon must leave to head north with Santa. I can't take him with me so I am hoping you will look after him. He is a amiable fellow - will do what you say but he is a tad daft so needs Close Supervision."
Gobble, Gobble-de-****! said the turkey. I couldn't understand a word it was saying. Turning to Sooty Cat who was laying on the mat in front of the Old Fireplace & I asked her to fetch Tally Turkey.
Tally came marching in in her usual brisk, no-nonsense manner & quickly understood the issue we had. A few gobbles, caws & snorts later and Tally announced. "His name is Gordon Gobbler & he is hoping you will give him a home." Giving the new arrival a Severe Stare, Tally continued "Don't worry I will make sure he helps & does not get in the way. Come along, Gordon. We are preparing the garden for Spring planting." Tally turned to exit.
Gordon, however, was a tad slower than Tally. "GOR-DON!" screeched Tally. With a goofy grin, Gordon hurried after Tally.
"Problem solved," I said as we watched Tally boss Gordon around. He appeared quite happy to be 'turkey-pecked'.
The Christmas Elf disappeared and the toy elf was back on the mantelpiece - albeit with a smile on its face.
Fox in the Hen House
Not so long ago there were 19 pets in my misfit crew. Now there is 65. However the way things are going, I just know there will be more.
Under the Influence of Time, life settles into a rhythm. The pets are cleaning their winter quarters - taking advantage of the meagre sunshine. Some pets are already talking about chest-hunting forays while other pets are busy cleaning the house or helping in the yard. Other pets are trundling off to work. All appears quiet & serene.
Suddenly there was a commotion in the Poultry Run where Cornelius Chicken, Tally Turkey & Gordon Gobbler lived. Hoping it wasn't Woody Woodpecker making a nuisance of himself, I went towards the sounds of a scuffle. However I hadn't got far when Hoppy Tiger appeared before me holding the miscreant by the scruff of the neck.
"Fox in the Hen House!' gobbled Gordon. 'Fox in the Hen House!"
It was a fox. One I had not seen before. It had yellowy-tan fur, big eyes & large pointy ears.
"Please, I mean no harm. I just want somewhere dry to sleep. Please I am friendly & I won't hurt anyone." The creature pleaded.
Hoppy Tiger growled as he deposited the fox on the ground in front of me.
"My name is Francis Fox. I was up in a place called Ice Rock but a huge scary man with a large thorny club over his shoulder frightened me. So I ran. I ended up at the Castle Gates where the giant statues told me that was Henry the Archaeologist. Then they tossed me a box-thing & sent me on my way. I crept out to the Castle Vicinity where I saw an elf - he was leaving. He gave me a Santa hat & told me to come here. Then he was gone. Please I mean no harm. I just need a dry, safe place to stay."
Hoppy growled throwing down the Amulet of Challenge "You can't just live here for nothing. You have to help with the household."
Looking around the assembled pets, I could see that some of the pets were not too sure about this new arrival.
Chester Cat Volunteers to Look Out for Francis Fox
With Courage and Tenacity, Francis Fox straightened his backbone, put his Santa hat on his head & turned his big eyes on Hoppy Tiger. "Please tell me how I can do that." he asked eagerly.
Hoppy, enjoying his moment of superiority, informed the newcomer that he had to either help in the house or the yard; get a job or take part in hunting for treasure chests (preferably ones with lots of coins in them).
Francis suddenly darted back to the Hen House in the Poultry Run. Hoppy growled his distrust & went to catch the "little pest" as he called Francis. However Francis re-appeared dragging 2 chests. "Are these box-things 'chests'?" he queried.
Francis explained. "When I was at Ice Rock & Henry the Archaeologist gave me a fright, I got my leg caught in this box, indicating the wooden chest. I had to run dragging it behind me. I asked the giant statues (Knight Lords they called themselves) at the Castle Gates for help but all they did was toss me that silver chest & sent me to the Christmas Elf at the Castle Vicinity. He was leaving so I bought them here. You can have them." Francis said pushing them towards me.
Chester Cat opened the silver chest which contained lots of coins and a diamond. Hoppy "harrumphed". The wooden chest contained stamps - blue ones. "Don't worry Miss Dot might be able to trade them for coins." Chester reassured Francis. "I'm Chester & I am the Midnight Castle Rat Catcher" boasted Chester. "I know!" he suddenly shouted. "You can be my offsider. You can flush the rats out so I can pounce on them. What do you say?"
Francis looked from one pet to another & quickly nodded his head.
"I'll get my things & we can both move into the sanctum. I have a Cat Tower there & there are cosy places to sleep on it." Chester continued as he moved away with Francis Fox.
"A Cat Tower?" I queried. When did that happen?
Today - in Court
Today is the big day, and the cottage is chaos. Linet put on her best as she wants to make a good impression. Leaning into the Mirror, she pinches her cheeks to give them a little color. She needs to look healthy, not frazzled (which is what she really is).
Linet calls out to Grimdahl Tiger. "Have you rounded everyone up? Have you fit them all into the Wagon?" Grim has had to pack them in like sardines as the family has grown even bigger (we'll get to that later) but the only option to get everyone to Cloud City is the Chest hunting team's Wagon.
The Silent Judge will make his ruling today. It's going to be official...or not. Now that Miss TT has been MIA for a whole year, Linet hopes to adopt PJ Pig, Lucky Lemur, and Homer Hedgehog. (They've been living there anyway.) Miss TT said she was going to a special school to learn how to become a yoga instructor (which Grimdahl Tiger thought was pretty neat), but that's the last they heard. As for the rest of Miss TT's crew, Linet and Miss Dot have been looking in on them over at the Windmill as much as they can, always sure to arrive with a huge Pot of healthy veggie stew chock full of Potatoes, Tomatoes, Carrots, Peppers, Mushrooms...all fresh from the garden. It's important that TT's pets have healthy meals whenever possible (although the last time she was there, Linet found Paws Panda, tu-tu and all, covered in Chocolate). Chef Fabio Bunny always insists on filling his pastry Gun with pureed Peas so he can decorate a Smiley Sun on top of the stew.
Arriving in Cloud City, they find it all hustle and bustle. Clearly something is going on, because everyone is carrying huge bunches of Carrots. Well, they have important business and can't be late, so Linet will have Grim get to the bottom of that later.
The Judge sent a Note that he must meet the entire family as it would help him decide if the adoption was in the best interest of PJ, Lucky and Homer. (Linet puzzles that over the last year, Homer Hedgehog and Otis Cat seem to be thick as thieves...but then again, maybe Homer sees Harry Hedgehog enough when the Angels are together, which is pretty much always.)
Arriving in "Upper" Cloud City, Linet has the pets form a line two-by-two holding hands so nobody gets separated, asking Harry to keep his Eye on Squiggy Squirel (Squiggy tends to wander). With high hopes, into the Judge's chambers they go. And what meets their Eyes is beyond scarey...