By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
Previously: With Christmas approaching, animosity has grown between the cold-blooded and warm-blooded animals in Oleput. That tension has grown worse recently as the town’s sacred Wishbone has gone missing, prompting each group to blame the other. Suddenly, the warm-blooded animals can no longer see red, and the cold-bloods can’t see green – those colors now appear gray.
By Chris Kieffer
The night ended earlier than Gary Gorilla and Clyde Camel had anticipated when the trumpeting bellows of elephants disrupted Oleput’s early-morning stillness. Minutes later, Ferdinand Frog hopped into the watering hole.
“Attention, Oleputians,” he croaked as loudly as he could. “Mayor Peacock is calling for your assistance in searching for the missing Wishbone. Please assemble outside City Hall in 15 minutes.”
Before Gary or Clyde could ask a question, the frog had already hopped off with his message toward Gecko’s Disco across the street.
Clyde Camel had been insistent that they stay put, but Gary’s building guilt from that evening’s altercation had been exacerbated by the thought that Christmas was days away.
“We have to go,” he said.
As the midday sun reached its height, providing precious little warmth on the crisp December day, Gary Gorilla took a break from crunching over weeds and thrashing through bushes.
He heavily inhaled and exhaled, placed his hands on his knees and blinked hard, feeling tired after spending a late night at the watering hole.
Although it was his decision to join the search, his resolve was now less certain. Not only did his head ache, he was becoming increasingly annoyed by the constant bickering.
“I said, ‘Go that way, toward the bush,’” Clyde yelled nearby. “We’ve already looked over here.”
“I can’t see the bush,” Stanley Snake hissed. “It all looks gray. Why don’t you do me a favor and point in the direction that you want me to go.”
“Shall I point with my front hump or my back hump?” Clyde said sarcastically, knowing that he had no appendage that would allow him to heed the snake’s request.
“I know how I can point,” Clyde continued, sending a giant wad of spit toward the snake. “We’ve already checked in that direction.”
At that moment, Ferdinand hopped near Gary, a piece of bright red tape hanging out of the frog’s mouth.
“How’s it coming?” Ferdinand asked, already knowing there was a slim chance that the dumb warmblood had come any closer to finding the Wishbone than he had eight hours earlier.
“Just a lot of scrapes and bruises from all these stupid bushes,” Gary said, his attention suddenly distracted from the camel and snake’s impending fight. “Why is it so urgent we find this thing today, anyway?”
“Those two friends. The skunk and the skink. Didn’t you hear what they said when we were all downtown? They got on the stage and said that the Wishbone’s disappearance is the reason that we can’t see green any longer. They were pretty insistent that things would get even worse if we didn’t find it soon.
“How did you not hear that? Oh yeah, you were too busy sluggin’ the snake. Dumb gorilla.”
As the frog finished speaking, a roll of tape fell from his cavernous mouth.
“What is that?” Gary shouted, his anger rising despite his struggle to contain it.
“It’s to mark the areas we’ve already covered,” Ferdinand said. “We don’t want to be searching the same spots all day.”
“Of all of the tape in Oleput, you chose gray, or red or whatever color that is? Are you trying to mock us? Unbelievable.”
Then, knowing he would regret it but unable to stop himself, Gary threw a haymaker that sent Ferdinand flying through the air.
At roughly the same time, Stanley struck at Clyde and wrapped himself around the camel’s leg, searching for a good place to get a bite. In the nearby vicinity came cries of fights erupting elsewhere.
The search was over.
Oliver Skunk let out a cry of frustration as he and Chloe walked through Main Street, the sun setting behind them.
“I’m getting worried, Chloe,” the skunk said. “This mess seems to be getting worse and worse.”
Turning a corner, the skunk looked at his best friend and saw a look of horror on her face. He then looked up and saw a large sign in the distance, its face painted a solid gray.
“What’s the matter?” Oliver asked. “It’s a giant gray sign. I don’t understand why you look so troubled?”
“It’s not a gray sign,” Chloe said with resignation. “It’s a gray background, but the letters are red. That was done intentionally.”
“What does it say?”
“Lots of name calling about species,” Chloe said. “But it also calls for war with the warmbloods. It’s urging us to rally at the watering hole tonight and to attack at dawn.”
Thursday, Chapter 9: An unexpected find.