Pepe of Noswad and the Squirrels of Chaos, Episode 16: What Do the Cows Say?

 

Pepe romantic

The next morning we were rudely awakened by a rock being thrown through one of the plate glass windows of the Concrete Palace. A note was tied carelessly over the rock. “Cease and desist. Orion will be held to ensure your compliance.”

The gig was up, the Spy Ring crushed. All information we held was useless until we found where they had moved their operations. To the north was the only clue we had. Bellingham? Canada? There was no way to know. And there was no way to find Orion. We packed up our Files of Chaos, and hid them behind a trap door in the closet in the house. George still entertained us daily with his memories of the past until one day he woke up with a new plan.

He spent the whole day digging a trench to freedom. By afternoon he was gone. For days he spent most of his time away, but he was secretive about what he was doing and where he was going. I could smell a strange smell on him. Perfume.

Creepster and I looked around. The squirrels had vamoosed, the mine was boarded up and the moles had been freed. Molehills littered the lawn and they held loud parties that lasted until morning celebrating their freedom. It didn’t take us long to realize all the information they held were lies. They had been brainwashed, and their small minds were as empty as the candy bowl in the house.

It wasn’t long before we met George’s new sidekick. A purebred standard poodle, that George had broke out of kennel to perform surveillance with. The cows across the road had to be interviewed and spied upon. Fluffy fit into that role perfectly. There was no way the neighbor farmer could mistake Fluffy for a ruffian. Some of the information gathered was useful, some was not. Finding out that the donkey down the street was a lush was amusing, but not pertinent to our investigation. But, the cows were paid well in weed, making them the happiest, most contented cows in the county. They were also the most paranoid.

We were all down at the creek one afternoon when the news reached us. The windows to the north had been broken, the house broken into. We arrived, fearing the worst. The fake wall in the closet had been removed, and all the chaos files confiscated. Someone had informed the thief where to look. I fought the tears back as I realized the informant had probably been one of ours. They had finally broken my brother, Orion.

Stay tuned for Episode 17: A Rainbow Before the Storm

Pepe of Noswad and the Squirrels of Chaos, Episode 15: The Squirrels Vamoose

Pepe romantic

Pepe is on vacation for a couple of weeks, and is not available to dictate the next chapter of his saga. Instead, I am referring to the pile of notes I have taken while listening to his ramblings while under the influence of catnip. It is just as well. The next chapter is of a period of time that he normally will not discuss. I’m sure he doesn’t remember the things he told me that night.

 

I returned to the Concrete Palace late that night after retracing the route of the delivery van. I was on foot and it was raining hard, but luckily George had lit the stove, and the Concrete Palace was blisteringly hot. I could see the steam rise from my fur as I lay on the sheepskin rug that he kept in the center of the room. Unfortunately he had eaten the corner of the rug, but there was still room for the three of us to lay, stretched in front of the fire. Creepster cried when she heard that Orion was gone. Together we huddled together, dreading his fate, praying for strength for him to endure, strength for us to go on without him. George growled a vow of revenge.

George was not surprised that the Grand Poobah had figured out our mission. He was surprised, however, that the band of squirrels were pulling out. We stared out into the darkness and debated what we should do. Occasionally we saw faint lights in the field, heard shrieks in the darkness. By daybreak everything was still. The gig was up.

We stepped outside as the sun came up. Barney, George’s childhood owl friend, swooped low. His hoot startled me when I understood the implications. “Whoooot! The riff-raff is gone! Just like we predicted, they have moved to the north. I will follow them, and send a message when I know where they are settling. It may be a few months before you hear from me, my friend. Be safe, be sound.”

And with the whisper of his wings, he was gone.

The following two years were the most difficult in my life. After having been in the thick of things, I felt profoundly left out. Cocooned, meaningless, uninspired. I spent the days chasing rabbits, watching Creepster hone her birding craft. I went on missions stealing Easter eggs throughout the neighborhood with George. Practicing my serpentine racing between cars across the highway in rush hour traffic. Anything for diversion. Little did I know then, that the story was not even close to being over.

Pepe and the Squirrels of Chaos, Episode 14: The Laundry’s Filthy Plan Stinks

Pepe romantic

 

Pepe has opened up and is talking about his past yet again. He left us hanging as he jumped out of the delivery van he had stealthily hidden away in. He found himself two blocks away from The Lost Sox Laundry. The very place that had been accepting loads of stolen diamonds, extracted from the very mine he had discovered in the labyrinth of passageways under ground on the very farm where he lived. He was good. I have translated our hero’s words here:

 

I found the address without any problem. I could see the steam rising from their ventilators from several blocks away. Someone had left the back door ajar, and I crept through silently and blended into a dark corner while my eyes adjusted to the dim light.

The front of the building was a legitimate laundry. Behemoth machines rattled and fought against their moorings. Filled with steam, it was difficult for me to make out the workers. Three humans battled with the machines shouting curses and orders to each other. Water streamed across the tiled floor, pouring into a filthy grate not inches from my feet. The stench was unbearable.

I left this room, exploring a hallway that went past several rooms that held desks and computers. One man sat behind a computer working on a spreadsheet. I crept as close as possible and my eyes struggled to read. A time line. April 11, 2015 was  highlighted in red. Before I could read more, I heard footsteps behind me. I hid in a filthy pile of unwashed diapers, and from the stinking mass I heard the conversation. The dialect told me the speaker was Squirrel. The topic stank worse than the pile I was in.

“The meeting has ended, and the Highest Poobah has made his declaration. The Highest of the High’s declaration will be written down now, as I tell you. The Supreme Poobah’s declaration will read as follows:”

It was difficult to hear under the stench that was invading my lungs, my eyes and my fur. How was I ever going to wash this off? Would he just get on with it and forget about all the insane formalities?

“Are you ready to record the Supreme One’s Words?”

“Yes, please continue.”

“The date has been changed. But only the Highest, Supreme Poobah will know the exact moment that the Squirrels will land. The place of the event has changed. But only the Highest, Supreme Poobah will know the exact location where the Squirrels will land. The hour…”

The keys of the computer clacked as the lackey kept up with the Squirrel’s dictation. I now realized that I knew nothing. Everything had changed.

“The Grand Poobah is moving our operation to the north, and will no longer be needing your assistance.”

The lackey looked up from the screen. With utmost respect he asked, “But what about the cat that has been gathering information? What about the band of spies that have been following your every move? What about the book that was stolen that gave the plans for the landing field?”

“Will no longer be a problem, that.” The Squirrel’s voice turned whiney. “The Great, Marvelous Poobah has included that in the plan. It is a marvelous plan, I tell you. You do not have to worry your senseless little brain with the work of the cat any longer.” He stopped to scratch himself. In the dim light I saw fleas spread out in all directions. Some of them ran into the pile of dirty rags where I lay.

“A certain family member, by the name of Orion, has been taken as insurance. Their paws have been effectively tied. Even the flea-bitten George can’t do anything now!”

My heart dropped. Orion in the clutches of the enemy. My brother. Somehow they had discovered my work. Somehow they knew about George. And I had been so haughty at my prowess and cunning. Orion. May God help you. May God help us all.

Stay tuned for further adventures with Pepe in Episode 15: The Squirrels Vamoose

 

 

If There Was a Book About George, He’d Eat It

 

george

This morning I ran across some pictures of George.

On a warm, lazy day in August 1994, I answered an ad in the newspaper for a puppy. My son was with with me. He had just graduated from High School, both of my parents had died within three months of each other, and I was starting a new job.

Transitions. George was a transition dog.

The bitch had built the nest for her puppies in the crawl space of a home that was over one hundred years old. When I asked to see the puppies, they pointed to the crawlspace. The father gruffly said, “They’re under there.”

I have an inherent fear of dark, enclosed spaces. Spaces that are usually filled with webs, and the spiders that live in them, and the bugs that get caught within them. The house was built pillar and post with no surrounding foundation. I could see under the house enough to see a large nest, filled with squirming pups. It was about twenty feet in, the mother dog was suckling her pups. I not only was wary for the things I couldn’t see, but the mother dog protecting her nest. No way was I going to climb in a confined space with her. I didn’t know the size of spiders’ teeth, but I had a good idea of what a collie’s teeth could do.

I whistled and patted the ground. I got the attention of one of the pups.

“They haven’t been played with much. They aren’t too comfortable around people.”

The puppy came near, sniffing the air to catch my scent. When he would get close, he would dart away. It was a game to him. Sniff, come near, turn and run. On one of those parries, I grabbed for his tail. He didn’t know what to think of that, and whirled around and bit me. I caught his full body while his teeth were still holding tightly to my hand, and pulled him into the light of day.

Once in my arms, he settled down. The bite was merely a scratch though puppy teeth are incredibly sharp. “You bite me, you’re mine!” I told him sternly. He bit me again.

“I’ll take him.”

That’s when I noticed that our male puppy was actually a female. Still, that didn’t change our choice of name. By the time we were halfway home, we had settled on the name George, and the complicated gender role ‘he’ acquired because of ‘his’ name. George never complained.

Half collie and half German shepherd/Doberman/Mystery, George had a very long snout and a curiosity that was challenging to say the least. He ate three TV remotes, two pairs of glasses, the arm off the recliner, and a glass filled with milk. Nothing stopped him from sampling life to the highest degree, not even Shadow, our six-year-old Golden Retriever. Try, though she did, to train him, he was incorrigible, and went his own way from day one.

When I brought her home (keep up with the gender, people) from her spay, she escaped and ran through the swamp, frolicked in the mud and came in looking like the creature from the dark lagoon. The stitches held, I bathed her, and hoped for the best. Although the vet was livid, no harm came to her, and she healed with just the normal scar. She smiled through it all.

She spent several years at my son’s house protecting his property from vandals and thieves while he was at work. She also was a clever escape artist. There was no building, no fence, no gate she could not weasel her way out of. Years later, when I boarded her, she got out of her enclosure and spent the entire Sunday night visiting the other dogs. I’m sure she coerced them into giving her their food and toys. They found her the next morning in the break room. I suspect she ate their cookies and left overs out of the refrigerator. Yes, she knew how to open that as well.

She was an avid reader. Whenever she found a book lying about, she would devour it. She loved them. One book I had to buy three times. She ate it three times. What can I say? She had good taste in books.

It was early one Easter morning that I discovered her true gift. I called George for breakfast, but there was no dog. As I said, she could escape anything; it was futile to try to contain her. But that morning, she didn’t come when she was called. Since it involved food, I was surprised. I set her dish down, and walked into the front yard to call into the woods. There were several brightly colored things scattered across the lawn. Plastic eggs opened, that had once contained Easter candy. Along with the plastic eggshells were real eggshells also brightly dyed that had once contained hard-boiled eggs. Eaten. As I looked up, I saw George trotting down the driveway with more Easter treasures. Stolen, I was sure, out of one of the neighbor’s yard arranged for some child’s Easter egg hunt. The Easter bunny had been foiled. I wondered how many eggs had been left for the children to find. Not many, I suspected. So many crestfallen, disappointed children. So many bewildered parents/grandparents. One very happy satiated dog. I had to keep her in on Easter mornings lest the fiasco would repeat itself. But then, there is no way to know how many Easters mornings George had destroyed for this family. I never found out. I live seventy miles away now, and feel somewhat safe in posting her misbehavior.

Since she was an expert at getting out, she was also very talented for getting in. I saw her lugging something heavy up the hill behind our house one day. Woods surrounded us, and a creek bordered that side of our property. At first, my stomach fell, thinking what I was seeing was my dog dragging an animal up the hill. A small deer? A large cat? A snipe? She stopped to catch her breath every few feet. Whatever it was, was very heavy. I went out to greet her and discovered a ten-pound bag of dog biscuits stolen from a neighbor’s garage or car. Nothing was safe after that. Not even the neighbor’s dog. He was kept in a kennel, yet George was able to somehow open it and set him free. Together they would scour the neighborhood for treasures. He took to her bad habits enthusiastically.

When a neighborhood dog ambushed and viciously attacked her, she bore her wounds with no complaint. She showed off her scars with pride. Brave animal. I learned a lot from her.

When we moved, George made the seventy-mile trip several times in the back of the car proudly. She became very vocal, howling to the music, racing through the house as we unloaded. We acquired two other dogs at that time, and she couldn’t hold her own in a fight, as she was getting older. Instead of taking part in the everyday roughhousing, she became the referee or sports announcer. She would position herself alongside the other two, and bark out the progress of their disagreement, running back and forth to be sure we new exactly what was going on.

As she got older, she became less of a runner, and more of a ‘talker,’ answering all my questions in a variety of tones and inflections. She was bi-lingual. Our discussions usually sounded something like this:

Me: “George, you must stop eating books. This one had beautiful pictures of the ocean.”

George: “Arroooough.”

Me: “I mean it, George. It has to stop.”

George: “Rufflemorg.”

Me: “Enough.”

George: “Moofingale. Arringledorf.”

Me: “Let me have the last word, George!”

George: “Roofooorg!”

Me looking sternly at George.

George: “Arroooough!”

She always had to have the last word. Always.

Here’s to you, George. I miss you.

“Roofoorg!”

 

 

The Moxie Parade

 

20140816_041741026_iOS

Another day, another walk with Moxie. After today, however, I am concerned that our walks will never be the same. Moxie is spoiled forever.

On our walk, a lady and her five-year-old daughter were standing on their front porch. The little girl saw us about a half-block away. I could hear her. “Oh, Mommie! A doggie!” Moxie, of course, insisted on going that way, and stopped on the sidewalk to show off her beautifulness. The girl was almost crying in frustration because she wasn’t wearing shoes, and couldn’t come into the front yard to meet Moxie. Sigh. So Moxie offered to bring her treasured self to the front porch to be admired. The little girl whispered things in Moxie’s ear that Moxie refuses to reveal. The girl placed her face on Moxie’s head. The girl told Moxie that she is the most beautiful dog in the world.

Wonderful.

We left, and very slowly made our way home. Moxie posed at every front sidewalk, waiting for the people to open their doors and pay her homage. Unfortunately, no one else had received the announcement of our parade.

We are home now, warming ourselves by the fire. Moxie is still smiling, re-living her glory.

Pepe and the Squirrels of Chaos, Episode 13: What’s Squirrels Got to do With It?

Pepe romantic

A diamond mine, worked by squirrels, moles and possums. A regional gang of squirrels, controlling an entire square mile area. A band of moles that kept the lines open between the diamond mine and an underground labyrinth system. A book, which described in detail the landing pad for alien squirrels, ETA April 11, 2015. The Lost Sox Laundry, taking possessions of tons of diamonds. Above all this information, one question raged in my mind.

What’s squirrels got to do with it?

New phone books had been delivered to the house, and George was pleased to be the first to find the new reading material. He had already begun to devour it. Luckily, he had stopped two pages shy of the listing I sought. There I found the address of Lost Sox. George agreed with me that should be my next step.

A short way down the block, I saw a delivery van parked at a neighbors house. I checked his delivery schedule hanging on a clipboard between the front seats and was pleased to see his next stop was only a mile away from the address burning a hole in my mind. It shouldn’t take me more than ten minutes to make that run. I jumped effortlessly into the back and curled up on a pile of boxes. I would catch a nap during the ride.

The bright sunlight woke me as the deliveryman raised the back door of the van. I screamed and ran out between his legs as he stupidly clutched his chest in surprise. I saw him sink to his knees as I rounded the corner. If I had been a lion, he would have been my lunch. How quickly men forget the rules of the jungle. A cat, on the other hand …

I found the address without any problem. I could see the steam rising from their ventilators from several blocks away. Someone had left the back door ajar, and I crept through silently and blended into a dark corner while my eyes adjusted to the dim light.

Stay tuned for further adventures with Pepe in Episode 14: The Laundry’s Filthy Plan Stinks

Pepe and the Squirrels of Chaos, Episode 12: Creepster Surfs the Internet

Pepe romantic

When the sun rose, I descended from my hiding place. My ears were in surveillance mode as I kept my belly low in the underbrush. I passed no one in a wood filled with Oregon grape, vining maple and stinging nettles. I made my way to the south in case they sent trackers after me. Coyotes can be bought at any price. I dog-paddled through The Distasteful Swamp. My pelt stank so bad I couldn’t bring myself to bathe. The result was that I was no longer a beautiful black and white Tuxedo cat, smelling of catnip. I now was a grey feral that no one had ever seen before. I passed the sentries, and they taunted me with shouts of ‘Your kind ain’t welcome here!’ I disappeared into the undergrowth again, circling around until I was standing in front of the Concrete Palace. I scratched at the door, and I could hear George bark from within.

The slightest noise from behind me sent shivers of anticipation through my already tense body. Someone, or something was approaching at a fast rate. I hadn’t turned all the way around before it had its claws in me, and I took the full force of the hit to my right side. We were tumbling across the grass, teeth and claws of this thing penetrating through my filthy hide. In the confusion I could hear George laugh.

“Enough, Creepster. Your brother is in disguise! Let him up. We need the information he brings before you kill him, not after.”

I was still growling when he pulled her off of me. She sat crouched, her emotional state betrayed by the lashing of her tail.

We were so intent on glaring at each other, that we didn’t see what George had planned for us. The water from the hose hit us full force, and we ended up in a soggy heap. He explained he was trying to clean me up, but Creepster and I both knew it was to cool our tempers. We both sat before the woodstove in the concrete palace to dry off as I told them of the extensive underground diamond mine, and the Squirrels deliveries to The Lost Sox Laundry.

Creepster was staring thoughtfully into the fire. She does her best thinking this way.

George nudged her with his muzzle. “Go, find what you can about the Lost Sox Laundry.” He gazed at the house nearby. “Find some excuse to get on line. Find everythig you can!”

Creepster fluffed out to twice her size and smirked at me. I had been out schmoozing with the enemy, hiding in trees, slipping through underground passageways and swimming the swamps, and she was handed an indoor job. On a silver platter with a serving of salmon and cream on top.

We said our goodbyes and I watched as she slipped through the screen door. I hadn’t slept for days, so George left me curled up by the fire. I slept like the dead until voices woke me eight hours later.

Creepster was a seasoned surfer of the Internet. No secrets could escape her eager eyes and paws. It was all discoverable, she said. You only need to know where to look. She had covered her tracks by ordering a new song on iTunes. I could hear the tune as she hummed it softly.

The Lost Sox Laundry did not launder sox as the name implied. They laundered money. That being the case, why were they now laundering diamonds?

Stay tuned for Episode 13: What’s Squirrels Got to do With It?

Pepe of Noswad and the Squirrels of Chaos, Episode 11: Mind Our Diamond Mine

Pepe romantic

The diamond-studded walls of the cave nearly blinded me. Bud nonchalantly rolled a smoke and lit it. Catnip. My blood danced with excitement. My paws moved with a mind of their own, and I snatched the nip-reefer from him and took a long drag. I held it for a long time. As I exhaled, I handed it back to the startled squirrel.

“All these diamonds! What are they for?”

He took another drag and settled himself. I think he truly thought I was going for his throat, not his toke. Perhaps he wasn’t as stupid as he looked.

“Some are shipped off to be used in the machinery and rockets for the landing party. Some will be sold for needed funds. The smallest will be crushed and used in the pavement of the landing pad itself. The reflected light from the diamonds embedded in the asphalt will help illuminate the spot for landing.”

I watched as thousands of squirrels chipped away at the massive wall. Some of the diamonds were so big that three or four squirrels couldn’t carry them. For this task, they hauled out heavily yoked possums. These poor beasts were made to pull the stones, some of them over a foot in width to a loading dock. The squirrels were tough taskmasters, and wielded their sticks when necessary to hurry the possums along. One possum fell during the loading process. Even though the squirrels prodded, poked and beat him with their sticks, I doubted he would ever rise again.

We walked past the loading dock, and along the route up and out of the cave. The filled wagon, pulled by a six-mole team, came along behind us, and we hugged the walls of the tunnel to allow its passage. When we reached the gate, the wagon was empty, and returned back down into the darkness. This continued, Bud explained, day and night. I saw a black SUV disappear down the gravel road through the woods. White letters identified it as ‘The Lost Sox Laundry.’

When I turned, Bud was gone. I caught the whiff of his joint, but he had disappeared back into the dark tunnel that was camouflaged in the tall grass.

I too disappeared, climbing high into a hemlock tree and kept watch all night. The wagon brought up loads 24 times. The SUV arrived, loaded and left 24 times.

Somehow I had a hard time believing that alien squirrels ran a laundry, or that they would ever find my lost socks.

Stay tuned for Episode 12: Creepster Surfs the Internet.

Pepe of Noswad and the Squirrels of Chaos, Episode 10: Pepe Descends into the Lowest Pit of Chaos

 

Pepe romantic

So. I was entrusted to ‘Bud,’ The Commander’s Second in Command. I was to be briefed on any and all information that I would request. The evening was getting interesting. All I had to do was keep my eyes and ears open, and appear to buy into their plan. The information would be safe with me…until I got it to George.

The path was descending sharply now, I had to use my claws to keep myself from slipping down the rocky slope. Even in the low light, I could see workers busy in the shadows. Desks were lined along the edges of the tunnel, papers were piled high, huge maps were nailed into the very rock that formed the walls. Maps that corresponded to the one we’d found in the book. I motioned for Bud to show them to me.

He sighed, anxious to hand me over to someone else, I assumed. He shuffled to the wall, and turned on the overhead light. “We are here,” he pointed with a stick. “These things are over there,” he pointed again to the other side of the map.

“What are those things?” I asked patiently, not wanting to push him beyond what his simple thoughts would allow.

He got up close to the map, and brought out a pair of reading glasses from his satchel. He fastened these around his ears and peered at the map again, reading carefully. At first, I thought he was truly dim-witted, then I saw it was a clever act. He was hoping to be rid of me and get on with whatever his original plan for the evening was. But I had information to gather, and he didn’t know how close he was coming to becoming a meal. I grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and hauled him close to my face. I couldn’t help that I was drooling by the mere thought of the tasty meal he would provide. He assumed I was rabid.

“Don’t be foolish,” I hissed. “The commander wants me to know all there is to know. Don’t go acting like you know nothing, or we’ll go back and have a talk with him about your lack of enthusiasm!”

This caused a surprising response from Bud. His knees began shaking so hard that he had to sit down to recover. “I know you come with recommendations, but I don’t trust you,” he whispered, wringing his hands.

“We can go back…” I began.

“No! I hate to think what he’d do with me. Hail Father of Chaos!” He shouted this loud enough for the other squirrels in the tunnel to hear him, and shout, “Hail our Father,” in response. Soon not only was the map explained to me in detail, but I had a copy of it as well. We left the wall, and descended further into the darkness.

My eyes are good. Cat eyes are incredible with the amount of light they can wring out of the darkness. I saw things Bud couldn’t see, and I saw things I didn’t want to see. Stairways leading to other tunnels, signs scratched into the rock depicting executions, calendars with expected goals written onto them. I demanded copies of those. The landing of the alien squirrels was scheduled for April 11, 2015, still quite a ways into the future, but there was no time to waste. We descended further.

We went down a long stairway that had been carved from stone. This passageway was long; I could hear noises ahead of us, and they echoed along the corridor. As we turned a sharp corner, the light blinded me, and I had to grab Bud to keep myself from falling. We had entered a huge open room, filled with lights that were wired into a ceiling 50 feet above our heads. Fifty feet below us was the floor of the chamber. At least 500 feet across, the walls shone with a brilliance I had never seen before. Reflecting the light from above and below was a wall covered with crystalized formations. Diamonds the size of footballs.

Pepe of Noswad and the Squirrels of Chaos, Episode 9: The Ugly, Furry Faces of Chaos

Pepe romantic

In the previous Episodes, Pepe of Noswad bravely accepted the mission to infiltrate the ranks of the enemy: The infamous Squirrels of Chaos. He fearlessly stole the book with their evil secret plans and delivered it to his Chief Officer, George in his bunker, ‘The Concrete Palace.’ Inside the book was a map and a detailed plan for Area 31. The landing pad for Alien Squirrels, scheduled to overtake the USA.

We left our hero, Pepe, in the center of the squirrel underground, sitting at the Commander’s table, raising a glass of whiskey in salute. And now, we return…

 

“Hail to the Squirrels of Chaos,” I shouted. All the while, my eyes memorized their faces, matching them to the names on their stinking badges.

The whiskey felt hot as it coursed down my throat. My blood was boiling. It took every ounce of strength to keep my claws hidden. They ached to rip out the Commander’s throat. His words, and the blind allegiance these dimwitted squirrels offered him astounded me. They were rabid in their enthusiastic support.

He worked their emotions with his words and actions, whipping them into new heights of fevered loyalty.

“A new day has dawned!” The Commanding Squirrel opened his arms as though lovingly embracing his congregation. Some of these soldiers of chaos had seen heavy battle, their wounds still raw. Some were missing ears, others paws. Several wore eye patches made of leaves. One poor fellow had lost both hind legs, and was hauled around by his mates on a child’s discarded skate. A few sat at the edges of the crowd staring blankly into space.

“Heil!” Yelled the crowd.

“A new day for the Squirrels of Chaos!”

“Heil!” Screamed the crowd.

“We shall be ready!”

A few of the squirrels began to dance maniacally. “Heil!”

“We shall welcome our Saviors from afar!”

“Heil!” One of the dancers swooned.

“A landing pad.” The crowd cheered. “A landing pad where our future will land!”

“Father!” The squirrels chorused. “Our Father of Chaos!”

Music began to play through the speakers overhead. The room filled with patriotic fervor and song.

His attention turned to me. “I know nothing about you, but you come with Ralph’s highest commendations. So trust you, I must. A most important document has been stolen by the filth that opposes us. The guards that allowed our most prized book to be taken have paid the price with their lives. Their livers have seasoned our meal. But the book that contains these secrets of the base must be found. It cannot fall into enemy hands. Ralph says that you’re the Cat to do it. Do I have your allegiance?”

I felt like vomiting as I looked around the room. But my mission, entrusted to me by my leader, George, called for me to go as deep into this depraved mind as I could. I raised my paw, my claws carefully sheathed in salute.

“Tell me more.”

He nodded to his Second in Command who swaggered to the table. His badge, I saw, was crafted out of a gold beer bottle cap. Scrawled over the top was the name, ‘Bud.’

“Bud, take this cat down to the lower level. Answer all his questions, show him everything. We own him now.”

Stay tuned for the next episode in which Pepe descends into the lowest pit of Chaos.