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