13. THE RASTLINGS

13. THE RASTLINGS

A Chapter by Peter Rogerson
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Help for the wounded Twinkletoes comes from the skies...

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As Forest families went the Rastlings were more than a big one, more than a huge one and even more than a ginormous one. There were more of them than even they could have counted, and they were good at counting. And being equipped with wings and eyes as sharp as very sharp knives they knew a thing or two about what went on in and around their happy homeland. They could detect danger before it even thought it was danger and they used their skills to guard the Forest from a wide range or predatory foes that might otherwise make unwelcome incursions into its foliate beauty. It was rare when one or more of them missed something important, but they had failed to record the arrival of Jules Junkface and his hardly subtle trespassing largely because he’d sent one or more of them to that great big aviary in the skies via use of his twelve-bore before they could report back to the family grandmaster.

But what was really a minuscule reduction in their family size alerted them and sent a quiver of nervous anger through their midst. Forewarned, they say, is forearmed, and so forewarned they spread their eyes and ears across the width and depth of their Forest homeland.

They were after the wretch who had dared to diminish their numbers, and they were equipped with gossamer ropes that were light as dandelion seeds and stronger by far than burnished steel. And that was proof if proof were needed that they meant business.

So they were searching from on high and criss-crossing the Forest with an unnerving thoroughness as well as keeping up a constant conversation with each other.

Meanwhile Footpad had seen what had happened. He had heard the roar of the twelve-bore (which he didn’t understand but guessed was dangerous, especially when he saw what it had appeared to have done to Twinkletoes, who was weeping great big tears of anguish into the countryside and using some very select language to describe how he felt. And Footpad decided that of all those who dwelt in the Forest, he was possibly best equipped to deal with the situation because he could jump.

In the Forest Olympics his genus usually won all the jumping competitions and some of the dancing ones too. Let that twelve-bore bark at him and it was bound to miss because it would be aimed at where he was at one moment and not where he’d be at the next.

Just hide and make sure Twinkletoes gets medical treatment while he yet lives!” he ordered as if he was some sort of military monarch, and he leapt high into the air.

Jules Junkface must have seen him because a glint of light reflected from the shiny barrel of his shotgun shot through the air and was accompanied by a catastrophic roar.

Missed!” shrieked Footpad, but all the man, with the linguistic limitations of humanity, heard was a bestial croak.

Bloody frog!” he was detected to exclaim as he frantically tried to reload his weapon.

There’s nothing a toad hates more in the big wide world beyond the Forest than being called a frog, and by the same reasoning there was nothing that Footpad hated more than being called a bloody frog, albeit in the crude and rough language of men. So he spat at the man, who was already close enough to be aware of being spat at. A leaping Footpad can cover a huge distance in seemingly no time at all by moving in a series of huge looping leaps, and that’s precisely what he had done.

So a globule of spittle landed on the man’s face and it burnt him because Footpad had a high concentration of powerful acid in his saliva. It didn’t hurt the spitter at all because he and his kin had a natural defence against it, but it burnt deeply into the flesh of the man and made him howl, and in the agitation caused by that howling he dropped his dreadful twelve-bore before he had loaded it.

You don’t like that, then?” asked Footpad, sneering as only a toad can sneer.

Stop croaking, vermin, and help me!” wept the man, rubbing acid from his face onto his hands and causing third degree burns to blister on his fingers.

Acid and the feeble skin of men don’t mix, then?” enquired Footpad, and he spat again.

What’s that? Stop bleeding croaking!” raged the man as a fresh assault of ultra-concentrated acid sought to eat through his flesh and maybe even go so far as to dissolve his bones.

So you used your weapon on my friend Twinkletoes?” suggested Footpad, and he launched himself full at the man in front of him and landed cheekily on his shoulder.

Gerrorf!” shrieked the man.

Naughty,” chided Footpad, “you’re in our Forest so the rules are ours, and you’ve broken them.”

There must have been an element of meaning that the man detected in the midst of what was a creaking croak, and he grinned despite his pain.

You wait until my men arrive with their chain-saws,” snarled the man, “they’ll chop your forest down tree by tree until all there is left is prime building land, and then they’ll chase your motley band of savage creatures into the deepest pits that can be created by our biggest machines, and bury you all beneath the soil until you rot away and the Earth is rescued from the blight of you!”

So that’s your plan,” sighed Footpad, “deep pits, eh? But you’ll be there before us because, you reprehensible piece of scum, I’m going to dissolve your face, your skull and your brains right now!”

And he made to spit once more at the man but Toowitty, bravely allowing Elflight to offer him a shoulder to perch on, seeing that the man was in unbelievable pain and therefore incapable of doing any more immediate damage, murmured, “calm down, friend Footpad, for the battle is won. But we must see to friend Twinkletoes who has taken a shot to his belly rather than attend to the evil creature who is already threatening to melt before our very eyes...”

Look!” gasped Elflight, pointing at where Twinkletoes lay moaning.

And they watched in amazement as a flock of the Rastling family dropped out of the skies until the sun was blotted out by the density of the cloud they made.

One by one they were attaching threads of purest gossamer onto the many knobbly parts of Twinkletoes’ body, and in a remarkably short time rising back into the skies from where they had come, lifting the still very tearful and wounded Twinkletoes with them.

The hospital! That’s where you’ll find him, brothers!” shouted the head of the Rastling family from the front of his airborne squadron, and the noble black crowd rose ever higher into the heavens and carried a swinging and swaying Twinkletoes with them.

It’s a good thing we’ve still got a pathologist,” muttered Elflight meaningfully to Toowitty.

But he’s not d-dead,” stammered the Judge, knowing what the police chief meant.

I was only saying,” sighed Elflight.

© Peter Rogerson 25.10.18




© 2018 Peter Rogerson


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Added on October 25, 2018
Last Updated on October 25, 2018
Tags: starlings, fmaily, shot-gun, chain-saw, massacre


Author

Peter Rogerson
Peter Rogerson

Forest Town, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom



About
I am 76 years old, but as a single dad with four children that I had sole responsibility for I found myself driving insanity away by writing. At first it was short stories (all lost now, unfortunately.. more..

Writing