by Al Clover, 1503 words

Well, hello there. How are you doing so far? Has my story entertained…wait what did you say? Yes, you in the back with the glasses. Don’t think you can sit in the back and not get called on. What do you mean who am I? I’m the author.

Alright for those who may have forgotten (not sure how you could but whatev) my name is NaNoWriMo. It’s a family moniker. Last name? I’m like Cher or Madonna. Or even that Prince guy. You say you’ve haven’t heard of me? Where have you been? I’m known worldwide. No humble brag but seriously I’m known all over the face of this planet. Especially in the world of writing.

Okay enough goofing around you’re probably saying. But it’s important for me as the writer to make sure every word makes sense. That’s my job for thirty chapters and it’s going great. We’ve seen sneaky characters be sneaky, cute animals, and worthy protectors of those cute animals.

No spoilers but I’d watch those two characters, Tom and his daughter Delia. No relation to the Bible Delilah. Except there is that guy, Bull, with long hair. Hmm. But I don’t see Bull as a Samson. He seems much more aware of Delia’s intentions. Still, she is trouble. Believe me, I should know. And what a twist that was, when—Spoiler Alert!—we found out Phil wasn’t as goofy as we thought. Pretty clever if you ask me. Okay a bit of a humble brag on my part. And how cute is Bruiser? I mean come on, a goldfish? That Phil is a funny guy. That’s weird. A funny New Yorker? Obviously New Yorker’s can be funny, ha-ha funny that is. Seinfeld. Need I say more? But Phil is funny-sneaky.

Now I don’t know about you, but Tim is my favorite character. I thought for sure he was going to have to abandon his mission—rescuing the chickens from reaching the dinner tables of America—when M.T. gave him the keys to the electric car and he admitted he didn’t have a license to drive and had only driven when his mom was too drunk to drive. But our hero wasn’t fazed for more than a few moments by the electronics though. Naturally the “Press Start” button didn’t hurt but once again proving you can always count on a young person in our hour of need to navigate computers in the modern world. Okay let’s get back to the story in progress.

While Bull was trying to figure out this “job” Delia had chosen him for, and during the shenanigans of the wild cat-like animal, Cherry had snuck away. Along the way to visit her former roommates, she checked out the Pee-mail. A sniff here and snort there let her know who and what was going on at the shelter.

Soon the excited barking grew with the others sensing her approach. The animals at the Animal Farm No-Kill Shelter were a tight bunch of friends who just happened to be without two-leggs friendship. But the camaraderie of living in the shelter created a society of togetherness. Of course, the two-leggs here at the shelter cared for them daily but that was different. Even when the young one talked to and played with the residents, that feeling of “home” still wasn’t entirely the same. The animals didn’t have a home. In the meantime, the AFN-KS supplied shelter and food for the various animals waiting for that special two-leggs to take them home. Passing by the cathouse a hiss drew Cherry’s attention.

“Hey what’s it like on the outside?” The large feline meowed while chewing on the small mesh fencing that surrounded the clowder waiting to be adopted out.

“Oh, you know, lots of mice and other chewy things. How are you, Jasper? Getting enough to eat?” Cherry hadn’t usually interacted with the huge cat, but he was well known among the residents. Human and animal. 

“Stop rubbing it in, already. One of these days I’m gonna get out of here and run free just like my cousin from earlier. They had the right idea. I bet there are lots of chewy things in the woods.” Jasper persisted in his chewing at the enclosure.

“Alright, well you have fun with that escape plan.” With that Cherry continued to the dog run.

“Cherry.” The dogs all barked her name in unison. From the offices Delia could be heard yelling something about quieting the damn barking. The pack ignored her naturally.

“You look great. Your two-leggs must be treating you right.” Rusty stuck his brown snoot through the fencing and Cherry, with her blueish nose, gave him a bump in greeting.

“We miss your company but also glad you got your two-leggs back.” Mame stopped barking and sat back with a ripple of her mahogany fur. “Is it as great as I remember? Open runs and squirrels?”

“Squirrels??” The excited chatter of a bark came from the tan Belgian Malinois.  He then ran to the other end of the enclosure whimpering at the imagined sounds that had hit his excitement nerve. With all his running back and forth you’d think he’d tire but basically, he could do this all day. And he did. Every day.

“Oscar calm down. There are no squirrels! We’ve told you before.” Rusty growled.

“Mame are you okay?” She didn’t look well. Cherry knew the older dog had special needs for her diet.

“Oh, I’m fine. Just a hiccup in our feedings. The female,” a deep growl accompanied the “female”, “fed us all the wrong food. I foolishly didn’t think. It tasted different but being hungry I ate it. Boy was that a mistake.”

“I see Tim is back. All should be back to normal. Your intuition about the female is right on. My two-leggs is having doubts but he still hasn’t figured her out yet. I’ve tried to tell him she’s only interested in him for a litter but he’s not listening to me. Right or wrong. They don’t always listen to feelings.” Suddenly a loud crooning began at the other end of the enclosure. All heads swiveled to see Oscar jumping up and down. His bark signaled the young one approaching.

Tim was carrying bowls of food in both hands and under each arm he had bully sticks of various lengths. “Alright you mangy mutts.” Tim laughed, “Wow. I can’t say that with a straight face. Sorry I wasn’t here the other day.” He stood there talking to the animals like they could understand him. And maybe they could.

“Okay back up. Don’t rush me. You know everyone gets food. Here Mame, you first.” Tim set the bowl of food down for Mame to eat. Noticeably the other animals didn’t rush the Doberman, giving her space to eat in peace. Even Oscar.

“Here Oscar.” Tim tossed a bully stick in the Belgian Malinois’s direction. The treat hit the dog in the nose and bounced away. Oscar would get teased about his catching ability—of which he had none—later. Tim set bowls down and tossed a few of the bully sticks to the other citizens of the community. “I’ll be back with the rest of the food in a few minutes.” Standing there he petted as many animals as he could reach, then he spied an escapee.

“Ah Jasper, I see you’ve escaped again. Let’s get you back where you belong. I’ll get your Meow Mix once you’re back in the cat enclosure.”

With a shake of his tail Jasper sauntered back toward the enclosure, almost as if Jasper knew what Tim had said. Subsequently, Jasper stopped and turning, stared at Tim, “Merowe.”

“Fine. Let me open the gate before you get all upset. Sheesh. You’d think you never get fed.” Tim saw the ragged torn opening in the mesh of the enclosure Jasper had chewed through. “I’ll need to fix that before I leave.” Tim noted. While he fed the animals and did a quick cage cleaning, he tried to come up with a plan for his chicken rescue mission.

He knew he couldn’t move all the chickens by himself but there was no one he could trust to help. All the volunteers at AFN-KS, even though they all had the animals best interests at heart, he was pretty sure they’d draw the line at stealing chickens from the Cluckers’ factory. And his hope of help from Delia was a bust. He was lucky to have gotten his voluntary job back. He was on his own. He’d just have to do the best he could. If only he had a truck or some type of vehicle to transport the chickens. That was the key to the rescue. But where was he going to get said vehicle? No license and no money to rent one. His mom’s Pontiac was out of the question as she’d barely had enough gas to make it home the other day. He’d checked the gas gauge just in case but no dice.