Save Our Home
Hubbles (Humans) are beginning to destroy the Home belonging to all creatures. Something has to be done. But what?
Save Our Home.
‘They’re called Hubbles,’ said Mouse.
‘Who are?’ Asked Vole.
‘They are,’ replied Mouse with a twitch of his whiskers, with which he also indicated the subject of his remark; a large person who was striding along the path at the side of the river, by which they basked in the warm summer sunshine.
‘Everyone knows that, but what do they do?’ Enquired Vole.
‘They squash things,’ said Mouse in reply. ‘Oh, what things?’ from an interested Vole.
“Things like us,” explained Mouse. “And bugs and insects and anything small,” he began to warm to his story. “You see, their eyes are so far from the ground that they can’t see to the ends of their legs, so they squash things. They probably don’t mean to, but that doesn’t help you – if you’re squashed.”
A new and ominous voice made itself heard. “Nonsense, Mouse. Hubbles can see perfectly well. Not as well as myself, of course, but perfectly well.”
Both Mouse and Vole froze at the sound of that voice. Mouse judged the distance to his burrow whilst Vole did the same for the river. Could they make it to safety in time?
Falcon knew the effect his silent arrival was having and hastened to reassure the friends.
“Don’t worry you two, me and my family are fed for the day, I’m only here to talk.” He shrugged his wings and settled himself more comfortably on the oak tree branch above the fearful pair.
Falcon was not one to easily socialise and Mouse and Vole, therefore, waited for him to say something of particular importance. Had he wanted to eat them, they would have been eaten by now. That was the way of the wild for the careless.
“There are bad omens in the wind,” Falcon carried on in his sharp precise voice. He shook his head, fixed his piercing unblinking eyes upon them, snapped his hooked beak shut and then repeated to himself quietly, “Bad omens.” Mouse and Vole waited somewhat fearfully for more. It was not wise to interrupt Falcon. “A Great Council of the Non-Hubbles is being called,” he told them. “You are to tell all that you meet. It will gather three moons from today in that place we call Wise-Wood. See to it.”
“Yes but,” began Mouse timidly. But Falcon was gone like an arrow, with a leap and a powerful sweep of his wings, to carry the message further.
“Well,” said Mouse to Vole. “What do you think about that?”
“I don’t know,” replied a timorous Vole. “But it must be serious; Falcon never speaks to mice and voles.”
“That’s true,” mused his friend Mouse thoughtfully. “He’s usually too busy snacking on the likes of us. We’ll have to tell Owl, he’ll know what to do.”
“Er, shouldn’t we tell Badger and let him tell Owl, if you know what I mean?” Questioned Vole.
Mouse nodded his agreement. Owl’s dietary preferences were well known to include rodents too.
“True,” he said thoughtfully. “We know old Badger prefers worms and there are lots of those around here. Let’s see if we can find him, I know where he lives.”
Badger was big. Compared with Mouse and Vole he was a giant. If pressed he had a reputation for unbridled ferocity and yet left alone to go his own way he was the most amiable of creatures. Only another badger would dare stand against him and some Hubble’s of course. So it was that Mouse and Vole, feeling totally secure in the presence of Badger, gave him Falcon’s message.
“Wise-Wood eh?” Murmured Badger. “Three moons from now?” Mouse and Vole each nodded. “Well thank you for telling me,” he said. “I’ll speak to Owl; he’ll probably be able to work out what it means, or at least his wife will. She’s the clever one,” Badger chuckled. “You were wise to come to me rather than to them directly. But I’m forgetting my manners, do help yourself to a worm,” he invited pointedly. “And return tomorrow for Owls reply,” Badger finished kindly.
“What a nice animal,” said Mouse as they wended their way home.
“Everyone says so,” agreed Vole.
“Except that Hubble who tried to snare him and lost four fingers,” laughed Mouse. They both roared heartily at this. Hubbles were very unpopular creatures and no mistake. On they went, still chuckling at the well deserved fate of that particular Hubble but always wary of the dangers around them. Down the hillside towards the river they hurried, keeping amongst the cover of grass and shrubs and the thick stems of heather that waited to carpet the hills in purple in a few moons time. Falcon wasn’t the only one in the skies above on the lookout for a mouse or a vole. As they passed the meadow warren, Rabbit, an acquaintance, appeared before them.
“Hello you two,” he said preening his whiskers with his two front paws. “You’re a long way from home.”
“Yes,” replied mouse and, “Hello,” remembering his manners.
“We’re on an important mission for Falcon,” said Vole importantly and as per their instruction to tell all that they met, blurted out Falcon’s message. Mouse nudged his friend just before the gossiping Vole told Rabbit about Badger and Owl. If Owl had the answer then they should be the first to know it.
“How interesting,” was Rabbit’s reply. “I shall certainly be there. “Thank you for telling me and I’ll pass the message on.” With that, and a shake of his little tail, he disappeared into his home tunnel to tell his own kind about the mysterious events unfolding.
“It’s sometimes hard to take an animal seriously that has a tail like Rabbit’s,” grinned Mouse.
Vole chuckled in agreement as they both admired their own long, luxurious and handsome tails. “Poor Rabbit,” they said in unison. Preoccupied with self admiration they failed to notice the pair of very beady eyes which looked greedily at them from within a close by bramble thicket. Greedy eyes above a long narrow snout and a mouth full of sharp teeth; teeth as sharp as dog rose thorns.
Having satisfied their vanity, as far as tails were concerned, they carried on their way, passing the bramble bush without a second glance. The smell of the river was now stronger than that of the hillside they were leaving behind and they quickened their pace, soon to be home. Two steps beyond the bush and a faint rustle caused them to stop. Looking behind they were greeted by a sight that made them freeze with fear. All thought of adventure was gone. Even thought itself was gone. Only fast beating pulses and the fatalistic acceptance of an inevitable end remained in both their hearts.
“Hello my little mobile snacks,” a high pitched whining voice said. “Thank you so much for my supper. Now which, I wonder, shall be the starter and which the main course?” The voice giggled in its high pitched way. “Eeny, meeny, miny, mo……..”
Mouse and Vole were faced with Weasel, a savage animal with few friends, who was not usually in this part of their territory. They were too small to run or to fight, there was only one end but it was the way of the wild. They had been careless. Weasel bared his sharp teeth and flashed pointed claws in preparation for his kill.
“Stop right there!”
Weasel in his turn spun around to face that voice and found Badger towering over him. Not an amiable Badger but a bad tempered one, the very worst kind of Badger with whom to argue.
“These two are friends of mine,” said Badger gruffly. “Get back to your own territory and don’t bother us again.”
“Badger my old friend,” whined Weasel cowering even more than had Mouse and Vole. “I was just having fun with these little ones. I meant no harm.” With a baleful glance at the two terrified friends Weasel slunk away muttering threats against interfering Badger, but not loud enough to be heard.
Badger brushed aside the clamorous thanks of Mouse and Vole and explained that he’d heard that Weasel had strayed into their grounds.
“I just had a sixth sense that you might run into him.”
He escorted them as far as the river, where they showed him a wonderful source of worms and afterwards returned to their individual homes until they met again the following day.
“I will come down to you with Owl’s reply,” he told them. “You two are not safe out alone.” But he laughed as he said it.
Vole had nightmares that night about a ravenous Weasel who chased him along the river bank and then just as Weasel’s jaws were about to snap shut, he awoke in a panic. Going back to sleep, the nightmare repeated itself, and so on all night long. He was glad when it was time to rise. Mouse on the other hand became the scourge of Weasel in his dreams and said and did to Weasel all those things he would not have dared do in his waking state. Mouse the valiant awoke with a smile on his face.
The two friends met at their usual meeting place on the river bank underneath the oak tree that had been Falcon’s message perch. Here it was that an ambling Badger found them and gave them Owl’s promised story.
“Owl’s wife knew more than he did, just as I guessed,” said Badger with a wide grin. “It sounds as though the meeting in Wise-Wood is going to be something very special and very important.”
“Yes but what?” Asked an impatient Mouse.
“What?” Repeated Vole.
“Ah, that’s the problem,” answered Badger quietly. “No one knows for sure. Except that she thinks it has to do with our Home,” and he stamped the ground significantly. “And our very survival.”
“Gosh,” said a round eyed Mouse.
“That’s frightening,” from the timorous Vole.
“Be sure you’re both there. Oh, yes an ancient law has been invoked; all animals attending Wise-Wood will be untouchable, so you will have nothing to fear.” With that, Badger was gone.
Time passed slowly as time does when it is wanted to hurry. Flowers along the river bank had their final glorious fling and gave to the bees that which belong to the bees in exchange for a spreading of their pollen. The oak tree gave back its strength to its roots and its leaves, as a consequence, took on brown and golden hues then dried and fell to the ground in acknowledgement of bleaker times ahead as the surrounding hills put on their purple coat. Within Wise-Wood a strange almost mystical stirring was felt among the baring branches.
“It’s time,” said Mouse to Vole. “We’d better get a move on or we’ll miss it and that would be a pity after such a long wait.”
It was a clear crisp night, their fur kept their bodies warm but the frosty ground was cold underfoot.
“I hope it doesn’t take too long,” complained Vole. “My toes are frozen.”
In the middle of Wise-Wood was a clearing. It was a circular clearing but a lightening struck tree stump gave it a focal point. On that tree stump stood a bird. But what a bird! Filling the clearing and facing the tree stump were Non-Hubbles of every kind. Birds, mammals, insects, reptiles, all respecting each others place as the ancient law demanded for these occasions. Mouse and Vole scrambled up a fallen log to better see the proceedings and gasped in astonishment at what they saw. On the stump stood Eagle, imperiously looking over the gathering. The King of all birds who, until now had been but a fable to Mouse and to Vole. Eagle spread his enormous wings as a sign to the gathering that he was about to speak. A hush followed in which pollen falling from the wings of a bee might have been heard.
“My friends, we are here at this time to consider a matter of life and death,” he told them. “We are here to consider a cull,” Eagle paused for dramatic effect. “A cull of the Hubbles,” he told them to a hushed silence. Mouse and Vole were speechless, which was very rare for either Mouse or Vole, and around them no mammal or bird, reptile or insect could find words to respond to Eagle’s momentous statement.
Finally Mouse turned to Vole and said, ‘Wow!’ A single word that said nothing and yet said everything.
‘Shhh,’ cautioned Vole. ‘Eagle’s going to tell us more.’