I’ve been looking for a pic to give you all an idea of what Cheshire looks like all dressed up, and I found the one above, by artist Ken McCuen–You can find his artwork here. I would say that my idea for Cheshire looks more fluffy and a lighter gray, but other than that that’s him in Steampunk Wonderland style! 😀
Cheshire won this round, obviously, hehe. I hope you enjoy seeing our fluffy, tabby friend again. Madnes may not agree, but I think his Victorian apparel is quite adorable. 😀 If you’ve missed any of the previous chapters, you can find them all here.
Chapter 5: Ninja Banana Problem
The lady set her gold necklace on top of the dresser for a moment as she went to rummage through her closet for a more decent shirt. An oblong shadow briefly passed by the window, and something yellow flashed in the corner of her eye. She looked back, wondering what it was, but seeing nothing out of the ordinary shrugged her shoulders and came back for the necklace…only to find it gone. “Bobby?” she shouted. “Did you take my necklace? Put it back, right now! I’ll count to three.”
The young kid came trundling from his room to peek into the master bedroom. “What necklace?”
“Didn’t you just…?” She fell silent and turned back to the window. Realization dawned. “A thief!”
“You…do you know about me?” Madnes faced the blonde girl intently. Her blue eyes blinked blankly.
“Your family owns a successful shop in Okinala. Isn’t it normal that Oz’s family would want to take it for their own?” she said as if it were obvious. “They own so much of the town as it is. Greedy snooties.”
“Ah…oh.” He looked away. She wasn’t talking about the Madness Solver power. He sighed, but he wasn’t sure if he should feel relieved; a part of him wanted her to know.
Something tickled his ear. He turned his head, but there was only the park, grass, and a leafy tree spreading overhead. His attention went back to Alice.
His head whipped back, getting irritated, and noticed a twitching gray tail floating behind his back. Instinct made him want to scream, grab the nearest weapon and beat the thing to death. But he held back, just barely, as twin glowing eyes and a floating mouth quietly called for him, the tail signaling that he follow. With a grumble he stood up. “I, um, have an errand to run.” He told her. “But maybe we can meet at Harrey’s later.”
She nodded, and he followed the beckoning tabby tail away from the park. “What is it now, Cheshire? And that separated tail thing is freaking me out, just so you know.”
“You will see, you will see~” The tail led him through town, ducking bikes and dodging steam cars, until they reached the corner of a street. “Here it is! Your Madness Solver office.”
Madnes squinted. At the corner stood the largest mushroom he’d ever seen, at least two stories tall. Windows and a door decorated its front. “A…mushroom?” he exclaimed when he realized what it was. “First of all, why do I even have an office? And second of all…a MUSHROOM?”
“Shush, shush!” Cheshire’s eyes and mouth tried to quiet him. “It’s true mushroom form is only visible to those connected to Wonderland, but to everyone else it’s a normal-looking shop at the corner of a busy street.”
“Get over it.” The tail handed him a pair of keys. “Being the Madness Solver, you need an office where Wonderlanders can find you when they require assistance. And that’s what this will be!”
“And you just had to announce it to the whole of Wonderland. I’m still mad how you lured me to that assembly meeting!” He shuddered at how embarrassing it was, standing there before all those people…or whatever you wanted to call them.
“You whine too much.”
Madnes jaw fell. “I—I do not! I’m just…introverted. Is that so wrong?”
Cheshire took the keys back and opened the front glass door, shoving Madnes inside. It was a small but quaint office, and not unlike a coffee shop; it even had a counter, and an odd-looking contraption for brewing coffee. “You’re gonna have to change that introvert self and be a people-person. That’s what this job needs, or you’ll fail miserably.”
A reminder of Oz and how he’d let him down made his jaw tighten. He took off his top hat and set it on the counter. “Fine. But I can’t promise I’ll be perfect at—”
“Good. Your first job just came in today!” Cheshire interrupted and the rest of his furry, gray body materialized, wearing a proper suit vest and bowtie.
Still repulsed by a cat wearing clothes, he asked what it was. “Jewelry has gone missing all across town. And my keen whiskers tell me it’s the work of ninja bananas.” Before Madnes could roll his eyes, Cheshire nudged his nose with the tip of a cane, “You must locate their treasure horde, and then return the jewelry to its rightful owners.”
He pushed the annoying cane aside. “And how do I do that? What’s the plan?”
He kept the super-magnifying binoculars up to his eyes, watching a wealthy house beyond its front iron gate. He waited for what felt like hours, the sky already coloring for sunset. Not a banana in sight. He growled at the feline beside him, “Why is this taking so long?”
Paws shrugged, “That’s what a stakeout is. You best get used to it.”
“How do you know it’s ninja bana—” Something moved, he stopped and shifted the binoculars. A flash of yellow with an odd crescent shape. Yes, it had to be them. Sprinting forward for a closer look, he pressed against the iron gate, keeping to the sunset’s shadows and letting his vision survey the area. Sharp eyes caught movement: yellow climbing out a window. It was followed by the scream of a victim missing her jewelry. “Ah-ha! There’s the booger thief.” He raised binoculars back up and followed it as it made its way to the ground and sprinted across the lawn, then up and over the encircling gate’s wall. He hurried after it, sprinting towards the section of wall, and just caught sight of it slipping down a storm drain in the road. “Seriously?”
“I’ll remain up here, while you go and get yourself soaking wet,” said Cheshire.
“How noble of you,” he replied sarcastically, and yanked the drain off with one, powerful tug of his good arm. He hesitated, then dropped feet-first down the dark pit. His boots landed with a heavy splash, and he suddenly wished he had a flashlight.
“You’ll need this!” Something fell down and struck his forehead. Catching it, he turned on the flashlight. “You could thank me.”
“Yes, thank you Cheshire for nearly killing me with a flashlight.” Keeping it on, he made his way through the slippery, dark tunnel. Beyond the ceaseless dripping of water little feet thumped, and he carefully followed the sound, swinging the flashlight back and forth until something glinted. He drew near, and there it was: a sack left open and full with sparkling gold and glistening jewels, set up on a ledge as if it were a giant nest. Their horde. Ninja bananas swarmed over it, yapping and happily licking at the shiny objects, until they saw Madnes. All movement ceased. Beady eyes stared up at him from beneath ninja forehead headbands. And then they attacked. Hundreds of little feet and sharp fists came at him, pointy heads jabbing and poking his previous injuries from Oz while fists beat at his face searching for his eyes. “EEYaaahg! You rotten bananas!!!”
“Madnes? What’s happening down there?” Cheshire leaned his head down to the drain… SPLRSH! A red-haired head followed by a body coated in ninja bananas like bees sprang out of the drain. Cheshire tumbled back.
“Do something!” Madnes shouted, waving and shaking limbs, doing anything he could to get the clinging yellow bees off. Cheshire swiftly snatched the sack of jewelry from his fist.
“You’ll have to appease them,” he said.
“Appease them how?” Madnes’ voice shrilled. He kept yanking the yellow things off and they kept jumping back on, jabbing at him and kicking with painful ninja feet, screaming at him in their own gurgled language.
“By finding them a new shiny object they can keep,” Cheshire explained calmly. “They love shiny things, and horde them.”
“Shiny?” he moved his head, looking about, brainstorming. “What else is there that’s shiny…?” His boot crunched on something. He shoved bananas aside to glance down. It was a bottle cap. Violet eyes lit up, he had an idea.
He limped and ran, with ninja bananas clinging to him for all they were worth. Several people on the streets stared his way–they couldn’t see the bananas, only a tall boy waddling and limping for no reason. He tried to ignore it until he reached the town’s garbage disposal bins. “There, look! Look, you rotten bananas!” he pointed. “Lots of shiny stuff. You can have all of it!” Hundreds of bottle caps glistened under the sunset’s light and reflected through shards of broken glass, all shining and not unlike jewels.
“Oooooogh~” the bananas awed as one, staring at the masses of shiny before them. One by one they slipped off him and waddled over to the bins. He sighed relief and rubbed at the countless bruises now discoloring his body.
“First mission well done!” Soft paws clapped together, Cheshire gave a cattish grin. “Now to return the jewels to their bereft owners….”
If you liked this story, please share with friends and help spread the word about Madnes Solver! #MadnesSolver
Do you think Alice knows Madnes’ secret? Was she being honest? Comment your thoughts below. 🙂
Thank you for reading, and check back next Wednesday for Chapter 6! 😀
© copyright 2015 E. Rawls All Rights Reserved
This is my entry for this week’s #BlogBattle challenge by the wonderful Rachael Ritchey, where the challenge is to write a short story based on that week’s chosen word. This week’s word was: “Horde.” Check out the link if you are curious and would like to join in the challenge!
Come back to Okinala next Wednesday for the next chapter in Madnes Solver!
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