April 21, 2011

Male Otter

“Lad? Lad!” Foweller jerked upright, shivering in the morning breeze. His grip tightened around Martin the Shovel. Some beast was shouting beside him. Was it the Boss Dad, the field commander?

“Boss Dad! Sapper Foweller reporting for playtime!” the child shouted, trying to mimic the rough voices of the grown-ups. He managed a boyish screech. A paw grabbed at his sapper’s helmet and pulled up the visor, allowing him to see whom he was addressing. It was a pretty wildcat! In silvery armour, holding a shiny toy sword!

“Oh! Hey! How in bally Hellgates did you get in, squire?” the little otter cried out in surprise. There were a few kitties examining the empty playground of woodlander fortifications. Fort Jeefra loomed over them at the top of the hill. The army had retreated in the night, playing hide and seek with Foweller.

“Your lot have upped and left, boy,” the soldier explained sternly, giving the dishevelled, muddy boy a curious stare. “We’ve been pounding your bit of trench since dawn. Didn’t you notice?” Foweller could see the vermin’s point. The smoking mortars up at the fort. Down below, the abandoned trenches where once a woodlander army had vowed to liberate the slaves of Fort Jeefra.

“Don’t notice the pretty firecrackers much these days, squire. Can’t hear ‘em too jolly well after the first bang,” Foweller joked. The excitement of meeting his first kitty was quickly wearing off. Foweller yawned widely, exposing yellowed and crooked teeth.

“Beg pardy, squire, but if I’m not needed for playtime I should like to get some shuteye,” Foweller mumbled, dropping Martin the Shovel and slumping into the damp earth. He was so tired it seemed his body was drifting off to Dreamland…

“Oi!” Foweller blinked up at the kitty, whom looked rather bemused. Could he not see that Foweller needed some naptime?

“How old are you, boy?” Foweller scowled, his tail-stub flicking impatiently.

“Twelve past winters. That’s old enough, don’tcha know? Can’t send me back nowhere, squire,” he whined, puffing out his chest. The soldier looked down critically at the boy’s rough, mud-encrusted breeches.

“Why d’you keep calling me that?” he asked, suspicious of a woodlander addressing him as ‘squire’. Foweller shrugged, surprised that the kitty would need an answer.

“Only right thing t’call you, squire. Just ‘coz we’ve been playing at blowing each other’s brains out since beginning of last week, I don’t have to be a meany-face about it.”

“Well, I never. Polite otters? Whatever next!” The soldier turned away, looking out over the blasted, rutted field. Foweller followed his gaze. The siege had truly turned boring countryside into a fun maze of craters. Yet it was almost over. Almost.

Foweller heard the foebeast gasp his last breath as he plunged the sharpened blade of Martin between the kitty’s ribs with all his strength. The body slid to the bottom of the trench, where the boy hurriedly wiped the shovel on the deadbeast’s uniform. Foweller’s eyes lit up, seeing the glimmer of the delicately crafted sword. His heart leapt for joy as a quick search located the kitty’s wheel-lock pistol.

“Thank’ee, squire. I’ll be taking my leave, pleasure chatting,” Foweller continued the conversation alone.

“What the-?” A voice cried from behind. Foweller whirled around, pistol in his left paw. A blast of smoke and another soldier fell.

“I never said I’d stopped playing, now did I?” Foweller admonished the two corpses, disappointed in them. Hearing shouts from the fort, the otter retreated, tightly clutching his new toys. Hide and Seek was over. Time to play Tag, and every kitty was It.

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