Randolf, one of the
most comely hedgehogs, spat. Although he could squeeze under the barricade, to
do so he would have to empty pockets of bits and snips. Simply, either he could
scoot past the police, or he could stay put and keep his
Perhaps, he should
leave the republic in his official motorcade. His fancy fleet was beyond
serviceable. Besides, since Henry took pride in protecting Randolf, if Randolf
made a surreptitious exit, Henry would get back at him during their next round
It was not so much that
Henry needed Randolf to travel in a vehicle capable of stopping a RPG as it was
that Henry liked to fool the paparazzi with proxies. At most events, there were
supposed to be at least two doubles of Randolf.
Randolf sighed. If only
one of his two to three requisite facsimiles had showed up, he could be
burrowing under the fence that separated his domain from the foreign one in
which he stood. He could be, overlooked and enjoying his pilfered pawfuls of
cookies and crackers, sharing choice morsels with the prettiest breeders in his
Allegedly, all of the
duplicates that were supposed to be part of this mission had the flu. Randolf
sighed again and then sniffed. Su seemed to be in the vicinity. Randolf trilled
to his Head of Protocol, who was also his best friend. Su answered in short
Barking was an oddity,
indigenous to Su. Randolf overlooked it; only Su had ever successfully competed
with the king at Quills.
His mirrored aviator
glasses throwing sunlight at Randolf, Su trotted up. In one paw, he held a
Get me out of
here before Henry intervenes.
the head magpie.
And I care,
Summon Bill, Phil, Milly, and Dill.
such an etiquette maven, why arent you using my styled
Imperial Highness Randolf the Sharp.
Im obliged to obey your commands.
with our escape?
So, where are
Bill, Phil, Milly, and Dill?
In league with
You befriend a
No, he indulges
me-says Im amusing. He could eat my entire kingdom without being fully
beetles, ants, mosquitos. Quickly call the royal cook and have him dip into my
larder. Well buy our way out. Insectivores like crickets. Some Gryllidae
and a pawful or two of aphids and scale should be enough.
Majesty, Imperial Highness Randolf the Sharp. Su pressed an earpiece more
firmly into his head and dialed some knobs on a nearly invisible communication
device. His smartphone was just for show.
scooping up the piece of chewing gum sitting near the border fence. A dust
cloud in the distance decided him against that move. There were limits to what
royalty could do when camera-equipped drones were operative.
While he pondered,
Bill, Phil, Milly, and Dill drove up in beer cans. Bill was missing some
Nasty cat caught
a mouthful, Sir.
Get me out of
Yes Sir, Your
Majesty. Bill and Phil ran toward Randolf, picked him up and threw
him over the fence. He broke only one paw upon landing, but had been impaled in
three places by a thorn bush.
On the other side of
the fence, Su tsk-tsked. Necessary?
Yes, sir. The magpies offered us double portions of marshmallow fluff. I
felt myself weakening and had no idea how long I would be able to resist their
bribes. Its legendary, among the kings guardians, how Pam, Sam and
Tammy turned into double agents.
Suddenly, a handful of
lizards, whose very saliva was lethal, appeared. Notwithstanding the bold
beauty of their beaded scales, their grooved teeth funneled painful poison.
Months earlier, Hooti and Judy had had to be euthanized after being bitten by
such monsters. Not even Moodys foldable, first-rate gaff had been
effective against them.
The hedgehogs ran. The
lizards ran faster. They were drawn to Randolfs blood. Bill, Phil, Milly,
and Dill threw themselves over their liege, providing a sharp barrier between
their king and the reptilian attackers.
On balance, Su, who was
unprotected, was gobbled up in a mouthful. A second beast found the soft space
where Bills quills were missing and bit through Bill.
Phil, Milly and Dill
pressed tighter against Randolf. Phil was decapitated.
As suddenly as they had
appeared, the lizards scattered. AVs, operated by Henry, who was still on the
avians side of the fence, were dropping small darts on the scaly beasts.
Moments later, a
parliament of magpies landed on the hedgehog side of the divide. Greedily, they
snuffed down the nearly dead lizards. One or two of them eyed the quivering
bodyguards and the four-footed ruler.
Many shiny things were
sacrificed that day to appease the magpie king. The hedgehog treasury released
its pile of pennies, its bent silver comb, as well as its collection of
mirror-like CDs. After Henrys ransom was paid, Milly, Dill,
and Randolf were escorted to their hibernaculum and given
instructions never to cross the border again.