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I heard a scream from a long way off and I held up a paw. The team stopped behind me as we listened intently. Humphrey leaned in close and said, “That sounded an awful lot like Fudge.” I closed my eyes tightly and nodded, this wasn’t good and time was running out.
“Get the ATV’s out again, we need to cover more ground and quickly,” I said suddenly as my hackles sprang up. Glancing around I could see nothing and the tablet Pandora was carrying was silent. “Pandora check the proximity alert settings on the tablet, I can feel something approaching fast.”
Pandora tapped on the screen and began rebooting the programme just as another high-pitch scream sounded off in the distance.
The ATV’s were full-sized and we were mounting up as Pandora said, “Something is coming up from behind at speed, and mew’re right Basil, the proximity sensor seems to be on the fritz.” She tapped the tablet gently but then the power drained and it died.
I jumped off the ATV spinning around, weapons drawn when Winston said. “Dude we need to go and NOW!”
Turning to Humphrey who was just about to draw his katana from its sheath. “Didn’t mew say that mew fitted some sort of invisible force-field to these,” I pointed to the ATV’s. “And that we could drive with it on?”
Humphrey nodded and indicated to a button on the handlebars. “Mount up, switch on and push this button!”
We did and in two shakes of a lambs' tail we were speeding along the grimy passageway like cats out of hell.
* * *
Fudge’s eyes pinged open and he saw The Old One looming offur him and he screamed again. The vile stench filling his immediate proximity and Fudge gagged again. He tried desperately not to breathe in too deep and let the putrid odour invade his body as a gnarledfinger tipped with a razor-sharp claw slid along his belly, not cutting or slicing just tormenting. He screamed again as he felt a coldness spread along his skin making his fur quiver in all manner of disconcerting ways.
The Old One laughed malevolently, taking much glee and delight in his latest victims' terror.
Adrenaline pumped through Fudge’s veins as he looked up and saw The Old One in all his eveelhideousness; where the face and head should have been was a swirling gaseous form and inside that churning mass, he could see trapped souls trying to break free. Screaming mouths pushed at the cloud, and he shuddered in horror as the poor souls fought futilely against their billowing, miasma prison.
He shut his eyes tight and began to chant, What would Basil do?offur and offur.
“What would Basil do?” The Old One boomed mockingly, then added with so much derision. “Who is this Basil creature?”
Fudge opened his eyes real slow as he bared his teeth and spat with equal contempt. “Oh dude mew have no idea do mew?”
He watched in horrified fascination as The Old One’s form began to solidify until it became fully corporeal.
Fudge gritted his teeth and thought, oh that’s interesting, mew’re flesh and blood now... as The Old One’s face was finally revealed in all its gut-wrenching and gruesome hideousness; ink-black skin with lightning-white steaks shone in the torchlight, blood-red eyes with no pupil glowed with manic glee, and a mouth which spanned from pointy-ear to pointy-ear opened in a wide grimace displaying brown-stained, spiked teeth. A beaked nose curved around towards a pointed upturned chin and in all honesty Fudge had never seen anything quite so terrifying in his entire life as he gulped hard, trying to swallow down the bile and fear which was trying to expelitself from his being.
“Now tell me about this Basil,” The Old One growled. “Or I can just reach into your mind and take the information.”
Taking a breath, Fudge said resolutely. “I’m not telling mew fluffing nothing, not now... not effur!”
The Old One clapped his gnarled hands together and laughed, almost like a normal person and said. “Oh you don’t know how happy that makes me!” As he reached his claw-tipped hands towards Fudge’s head.
* * *
We took a 90 degree right turn and my ATV went around the corner on two wheels, with Winston and Smooch gripping onto the pillion bar for dear life behind me as we hurtled along passageway aftur passageway twisting this way and that as we followed the map towards the centre and closer to Fudge.
The force-field around each of the ATV’s looked like an iridescent bubble, rippling in all the colours of the rainbow on the insideand reflecting the area outside, making us completely invisible as we sped along with something unknown following us; matching our speed but neffur gaining any ground.
This wurried me deeply as; A:- What kind of thing could do that? B:- How dangerous was it? C:- Was it going to ambush us at some point, and finally, D:- Was there more than one?
Visibility was poor as the ATV’s headlights were on a low setting within the bubble. I pulled down my night-vision goggles and that helped a bit as I decided we should increase our speed and see what our follower or followers would do. “Guys,” I said softly into my comms unit. “Can mew hear me?”
I got a quick affirmative in response. “Great, now listen we’ve got an unknown bogey or bogey’s following us and they’re still keeping pace so I thought we’d speed up and see what they do, ok?”
Getting another affirmative, I opened up the ATV and surged forward pulling away from the shadowy stalkers. Seeing another hairpin turn coming up, I said quietly. “Hold on tight this turn is going to be tough!”
Hearing Smooch adjust his grip, I felt Winston move and get a better paw-hold on Smooch just as we careened around the corner glancing the wall with the front tyre and the ATV surged forward again.
“Basil can mew hear me?” Humphrey said offur the comms.
“I hear mew,” I answered. “Are mew still with us?”
“Yep and that thing is still tailing us, keeping the exact pace,” Humphrey replied.
“What do mew want to do?” I asked and in that one moment I felt the ATV plummet downwards and my stomach lurched upwards. “HOLD ON!” I yelled as we flew through the air fur several yards, and in my next breath the force-field suddenly connected with the ground, bounced several times before the wheels gained traction and we shot forward on a sharp decline.
I heard the rest of the team through my comms-set and sighed with relief when I got the all OK and I replied. “What the fluff dudes, I neffur saw that coming!”
Laughing resounded in my headset and I briefly grinned to myself as the adrenaline rush kicked up a notch before saying. “Winston, why are we going down?”
* * *
The Old One gripped the sides of Fudge's head with his clawed hands and squeezed. Fudge snapped his eyes shut and gritted his teeth as something tried to invade his mind. He could feel multiple icy tendrils stabbing at his grey-matter like sharp pin-pricks offur and offur, searching for a way into his consciousness. He resisted but the more he fought the more pain he suffered.
“Oh you’re strong little one,” The Old One smirked and laughed wildly. “I like the strong ones, they’re so much fun to break!”
Fudge felt clammy and his fur stood on end, bristling and crackling with static as he continued this epic battle of wills. “Do your wurst!” he spat with venom. “Mew can’t have what’s inside my head!”
The Old One gripped Fudge’s head tighter, claws digging in as the icy tendrils retreated for just a moment and then plunged forward with such force Fudge felt like he’d been knocked fur six. He drew in a breath and let it out slowly as The Old One pressed on with the mind-invasion.
Fudge knew he wasn’t going to last long against the relentless onslaught and right in that second he had an epiphany. What would Basil do right now? he thought and then it came to him. Basil would do nothing! Be like Basil... Be Like Basil... Be like Basil...All his fear, wurry, angst and terror suddenly evaporated and he found himself floating on a fluffy, white cloud in a beautiful blue sky.
What the fluff, he thought, Am I dead? Did that freakin'muther fluffer just snuff me out? And then that same little voice from earlier said, let go dude, let go and float on your cloud, think of nothing... and in that moment Fudge let go of effurything and his mind went completely blank.
The Old One dug his claws into Fudge’s flesh and small pools of blood formed around the puncture wounds, but there was no reaction, the ginger cat lay motionless with a rather peaceful expression spreading across his face.
“NOOOOO!” The Old One screamed in frustration and continued with his attack.
Fudge in his minds-eye was now sipping a Niptini; shaken not stirred with a sprig of catnip on the rim and it even had a rather fancy umbrella peeking out of the glass. He took a sip and smacked his lips, “Holy moly that has to be the best niptinieffur!” He grinned and took another gulp reclining into the soft, warm cloud, letting it wrap around him like a silky cocoon. He couldn’t feel a thing; there was no pain, nothingother than pure bliss enveloping his being. Effurything was just how it should be.
“NOOOOOOOOOOOO!” The Old One screeched again and withdrew his claws and stepped away from the plinth in sheer bewilderment.
Suddenly a strange hooting sound began to echo within the circular structure and the cages above started to swing, their chains creaking and groaning and the walls began to shake and shudder.
The troll guards moved away from the perimeter as huge chunks of stone began to fall, several weren’t fast enough and were crushed by the falling debris. The purple rabbit-like creatures hopped towards the archway to make their escape but the three in front had the wurst luck effur and a slab of stone squashed them flat with an icky squelching sound. The two remaining announcers turned on their tails and headed straight fur Fudge.
* * *
We were still descending, though it was levelling out and Winston said. “Dude, I’ve neffur seen this bit of the maze before.”
Oh heck, I thought and then replied. “So mew don’t know where this goes or if there’s anything we should be looking out for?”
“No Basil, like I said I’ve neffur seen this part... I didn’t even know it went down,” Winston answered.
We were on the flat now and it was even darker down here, pitch-black; in fact, it was so dark if we hadn’t got our night vision goggles on with thermal capabilities we wouldn’t have been able to our paws in front of our chops.
Pandora’s voice sounded offur the comms, she said. “Basil my map ‘as gone wrong it is telling us to turn now.”
“STOP!” I replied turning off the force-field and slowed the ATV bringing it to a full-stop a few moments later. “Turn off your force-fields!” I looked behind me and saw only one set of headlights. “Pandora?”
She didn’t respond.
I checked my iPaw and saw that Parsley and Amber were coming up behind but there was no sign of Humphrey and Pandora or their ATV. Parsley and Amber came to a stop next to us and Amber said. “Where the fluff are Pandora and Humphrey?”
I peered up and down the passageway looking fur the glow of the headlights, but apart from the small pool of light from our ATV lights, it was completely black. “I don’t know!” I replied. “And they’re not showing anywhere on our map, their icons have vanished!”
OH MY COD!
Join us Again on Tuesday fur the next thrilling chapter