"Goose! Bunny!" Wolfe called.
He'd found Ainsley and the Reverend Peck had done a miraculous job on his kitchen, so much so that they could even close up most of the house. Only the kitchen window remained cracked open. The perfume smell seemed to have been cancelled out by the dill pickles, but the room still smelled like an explosion in a deli. The Sheriff said he would start up a good fire in the fireplace and Ainsley was making warm cocoa for everyone, even Alfred. What had started out as a simple evening with his fiancée had certainly taken an interesting turn.
The Reverend said he could only stay a short while, something about some visitors that had come to the church that afternoon. Wolfe hadn't really been listening, being more concerned about his missing dogs. He finally excused himself to go call for them.
"Goose!" he called again, his boots crunching along the frosty gravel driveway. "Bunny! Here Bunny! Here Goose!"
Somewhere in the distance he heard faint barking. Why had they gone so far away? They usually stayed right near the house.
"Are they still behind us?" panted Bram.
"I…think….we…lost them," Frankie wheezed in return.
"Attack dogs! I thought we were goners. I really did."
"Where did they go? Ahhah!" He startled as there was a movement in the nearby roadside ditch.
They started running again, gasping with their hands pressed to their sides as a fat black cat waddled out of the brush, followed by her nearly grown litter of kittens and watched them go curiously.
Goose and Bunny came bounding up the driveway towards their owner, wagging and panting happily.
"Where have you been?" Wolfe asked them, scrubbing their ears with relief. "Chasing some rabbits? Come on, let's get you something to eat, though I have to warn you might have to share with a cat."
Frankie and Bram sighed as they climbed into their mud encrusted car for their journey home, brushing away the sprinkling of snowflakes that were coming down. It had been quite an adventure, if that was truly what they had wanted. At the moment, they weren't quite sure. They'd tentatively edged into the church that morning to see the Reverend Peck, checking to be sure he was alive. He had been glad to reassure them that he was not only alive but well, and that no one had come to any harm the previous evening but one unfortunate rat. They'd gotten peppermints and a small bible as a gift with the instructions for getting invisible armor marked with a bookmark for them. They couldn't wait to give it a good reading when they got home.
In truth, what had happened in real life wasn't nearly as interesting as what they had imagined, which was both disappointing and a relief at the same time. Perhaps it was this that made them a bit downcast about having to leave Skary so soon. One thing cheered them back up considerably though, and that was the faded cardboard standee of Wolfe that filled their backseat, folded in half so it almost appeared he was brooding in the rear with a knapsack of laundry on his 2-D knees.
Finding a home for that old standee had been a stroke of genius on Dustin's part. The owner had been thinking of throwing it out when Dustin had struck upon the idea of selling it to these obvious admirers for a minor sum. They had been delighted, as had Mr. Bishop to get anything at all for what he had considered junk. They waved vigorously to Dustin through the bookstore's front window as they drove away.
Mr. Bishop nodded his approval as Dustin slouched his way back to the front counter. "You know, there have been days when I've had to wondered if you do anything but keep your nose in one of my books."
Dustin looked up at him a bit warily but only found Mr. Bishop smiling at him.
"Just now, seeing how you managed to strike up an accord with those strange people, and bring in a little extra money, maybe I've been wrong. You seem to be real good at connecting with odd folks. You're a natural."
Alfred snorted awake. "Wha'd they say?" he slurred up at Wolfe.
Wolfe shifted in the uncomfortable vinyl airport seating and nudged his drooping editorial friend to droop in the other direction. "They said the flight's been delayed again."
"What time is it?"
"Almost two in the morning."
"I can't believe this," Alfred yawned. "They've got the airplane on the ground. It isn't snowing. What could possibly take so long to fix?" His head slumped down over the bright red tie he was wearing, all patterned in tiny black cats. "We gotta get to the bookstore….," he mumbled.
Wolfe stretched a bit and stiffly got up to inquire of the only airline employee he could see, a short man who seemed to be just passing the time standing at the end of the closed jetway.
"Excuse me, I was just wondering if you know what it is they're needing to repair on the plane?"
"Rats," said the man.
"What?" Wolfe startled.
"Seems a couple rats that got into the plane somewhere. They're trying to catch them. Can't be that hard to do, you know. I'm sure it won't be much longer."
"Right." Wolfe went back to his seat.
Alfred snorted awake again. "Wha'd they say?"
"It's going to be a long, long night, Alfred. A long, long one."
-- Fin --
(A little note: Frankie was named in honor of Christian horror writer, Frank Peretti. You will also find his name attached to the perfume for the fun of it - "peretti" meaning little pears. It wasn't until my family proof-read my tale that they pointed out it could have been seen as something relating to Frankenstein instead, so I thought I'd mention it.)