Previously: Hank Waterson writes a story about woodland creatures with magical powers who have the names of Carrie’s friends. … Roll with it.
PART 3.21a: WOODLANDS OMEN 1
Hank Waterson did a quick scan back over what he had written. His short story had thus far incorporated most of Carrie’s friends as woodland animals with human sentience. Along with them, he had now written in two actual human characters, whose mysterious conversation had implied that there was a traitor within the animal group. Who was it?
Hank rubbed his chin. He wasn’t quite sure which one of them to use, and thus he decided to simply see where the narrative took him.
Slowly, the woodland creatures came out of hiding.
“So… what do you think about that?” Frank wondered.
“Mindy’s got a nice back end, for a human?” Lee offered.
“Okay, pretty sure Frank’s referring to the fact that there’s totally a TRAITOR among us!” Chartreuse wailed.
Lee shrugged. “Trying to lighten the mood.”
“Don’t. Now is the time to get serious,” Corry growled. “Because if one of us is feeding these humans lies, and telling them things that will lead to us losing our powers within a week? That’s a MAJOR problem.”
“It can’t be one of us. Whoever the traitor is, they already knew about this clearing having ties to the magical effects,” Julie noted. “Remember, that Shady guy implied it was their dumping here that caused a neutralizing effect.”
“Hey, any of us could know more about this clearing than what we’ve said,” Luci said, glancing about suspiciously. “The question is, why would anyone want us forest creatures to go all mundane?”
“Unless the traitor knows of a way to keep themselves immune,”
Carrie suggested. “And they’re hoping to use their sentience to rule over the rest of us.”
Everyone’s eyes shifted towards the fox and bear. “Oh great, predators being persecuted again,” Julie grumped, twitching her tail.
“Hold on, everyone. Finger pointing doesn’t do us any good,” Clarke said. “We need proof to make an accusation.”
Laurie raised her paw. “Why don’t we simply ask the humans which animal is working with them?”
Her brother sighed. “Laurie, approaching humans is not wise, they – oh, wait, they keep records. Maybe we could obtain some of their files? That could tell us something.”
“We’d have to go into town for that though,” Frank pointed out, beginning to pace. “And the longer we’re out of the forest, the more the magic fades too. If we’re caught, we’d lose everything.”
“Someone could do it if they already had as idea as to the specific bases of operations used by these particular humans,” Lee noted.
“So Glen could do it,” Carrie realized. “He’s spent some of his evenings skulking about in town. If anyone knows the layout, it’d be him.”
“But what if he’s the traitor?”
“Frank, stop accusing Glen of things already,” Carrie sighed, turning and slamming her mallet down on his head in exasperation.
“Um, but Carrie, I, like, said that,” Chartreuse noted, waving a wing as Frank fought to keep his balance.
“Yeah, Carrie, stop hitting on my boyfriend!” Luci declared, swinging her own hammer at Carrie. Carrie managed to block with her mallet… then both objects simply disappeared. Both Carrie and Luci blinked at each other in surprise.
“The magic problem is worse here,” Clarke decided. “We need to get going. Let’s at least see what Glen turns up, it could give us a starting point. Okay?”
Everyone present exchanged glances and nods. “And as a show of good faith, maybe Glen can grab me some of that aspirin stuff while he’s in town?” Frank mumbled.
“Crazy other animals,” Glen grumbled as he scampered down the alleyway. “As if I didn’t know it’s been four days – they didn’t expect me to know where Shady and Mindy were right away, did they?”
The raccoon peered out onto the darkened street and then headed down towards the part of town where the warehouses were located. “For a small town, it’s sure trying to work towards having more industry,” Glen observed. He soon found a hole in the fencing around the complex, and squeezed through. “Now, let’s see… that paper I found in Shady’s trash yesterday, it said Linquist was using Warehouse 3… hopefully I can find something in there to appease the masses.”
As it turned out, the warehouse was locked, but a few smashes on the padlock with a large rock allowed Glen to gain access. “Hmmmm,” Glen murmured as he scanned the interior – which was not much larger than your average sized human apartment. “If I know these humans, there’ll be a… yup, right over there.”
He hurried over to the corner that held the video surveillance equipment, and after giving it a look, he wound the tape back to erase his presence. He then pulled out his magical magnet and waved it over the devices for good measure. If it was strong enough to attract a garbage can, it was probably strong enough to mess with their electronics.
“At least the town’s still small enough to have lousy security,” Glen muttered. “Shady probably installed this in here himself. Still, it’s possible that there’s a silent alarm too, so I should work fast.”
The raccoon turned to start a quick search of the bins and filing cabinets, pausing as a file out in the open caught his attention. Sitting right next to the TV monitor, it was labelled ‘Security Breach 08/22/88’.
“Yesterday?” Glen mused. He flipped open the folder and his eyebrows went up. “Oho! Well then, it would seem we’ve found our traitor…”
“It’s, like, ridiculous, having to be up this early,” Chartreuse yawned as she looked out at the lake. “The sun’s barely up. Why can’t Glen stay up later, rather than, you know, waking us earlier?”
“Time is of the essence at this point,” Corry grunted. “Hell, last night I couldn’t get my yardstick to stay around long enough to take a precise measurement!”
“He’s trying to install new drapes in our cave,” Laurie explained brightly. “The old ones are so drab, even if they do compliment the existing decor so well. Soon we may even get a window to go with them too though looking at your faces I’m probably acting too perky for the hour so I should shut up now, should I?”
“It’s not THAT early,” Carrie insisted. “I’ve been up at this hour to meet with Glen before. We’ve watched sunrises together, it was romantic.”
“Hm, speaking of romantic, has anyone seen Luci?” Frank asked. “She seemed to disappear after yesterday morning’s meeting.”
“I’m sure she’ll be along,” Julie replied, filing her claws once again. “Unless she’s the traitor, that is.” Frank frowned.
“Well, hey, let’s just hope Glen has a stronger lead today, okay?” Lee put in. “What with infighting giving me a worse headache than the ones Frank gets from not reacting in time.”
A silence fell upon the group. A few minutes later, Glen hurried out of the treeline and headed towards them. “Glen!” Carrie cried out happily, her bunny ears quivering. “Have you brought us good news at last?”
“Well, I have news,” Glen said, holding up a folder of papers. “It’ll be good for some, not so good for others.”
“Meaning what?” Clarke asked.
“Meaning, I think we’ve got our traitor,” Glen explained. He flipped open the folder, and tossed a picture out onto the grass. Everyone leaned in for a closer look. There was a moment of silence. Then Corry made a lunge for Julie.
“Get her!” the bear snarled as Julie rolled away, firing her nail file at him. It grazed by Corry’s ear. Coming up on all fours, Julie then made a leap towards the trees, only to have the flickering forms of a broom and a tennis racquet crisscross in front of her. She hesitated only momentarily before making a move to dodge underneath them, but that moment was enough to allow her to be brought up short by a yank from behind.
“Ow ow ow ow!” Julie shrieked, falling onto the ground. “The tail is attached, you know!”
“Consider it retribution for all the times you’ve salivated over me and my kind,” Carrie shot back. “Now it’s time for a rabbit to put YOU on a hotplate!”
“Again with the persecution,” Julie said, turning her head, eyes flashing. “You have no evidence that I’m the traitor! So I’ve been in a human warehouse, so what??”
“So,” Glen said, clearing his throat, “you know more than what you’ve been telling. I also turned up THESE files–” He paused to toss some more pages on the ground. “–which show an agreement between Linquist and an unnamed co-conspirator to do the dumping in that clearing. Unless I’m very much mistaken, that top document has your paw print on it.”
“What??” Julie shrieked.
“I always knew you were a sly fox, Julie,” Corry said, glaring at her while rubbing his ear. “But I never realized how low you’d stoop to get your own way around here.”
“I should have guessed,” Carrie said, bitterly. “I know she made friends with me only to secure the bunny vote in our part of the forest, so I should have KNOWN she’d betray us.” She took firmer hold of the tail in her paw and twisted it.
“Will you CUT THAT OUT?” Julie said, baring her teeth at the rabbit. “For the moment, I’m not going anywhere! And fine, I’ll admit that I’ve started doing a little covert work with that human Mindy, but it was only to discover what was really going on!”
“Then how do you, you know, explain this contract?” Chartreuse inquired, holding it out.
“I don’t know,” Julie said, peering at it. “Mindy did make me put my paw on something after I approached her, for her own protection. But that wasn’t it.”
“And what’s the reason for the security photo?” Frank asked.
“Mindy gave me the key to their warehouse the other evening. I went looking for files relating to the dumping. But Mindy said nothing about surveillance equipment… I think I’m being set up!”
-We’ve shifted from ‘Detour’ into ‘Omen’, as there will now be elements of foreshadowing for the end of this Book, and into Book 4. Any thoughts? Any desire to vote at WFG?