Drift’s Odyssey: Chapter 4
When they finally stopped walking Drift was exhausted, his paws hurt, and he could hardly stand. Even though he couldn’t see Drift could smell and he had a general idea of where they ended up. He also knew that Glen had taken the long way and deliberately walked them around in circles trying to disorient the group. While Glen wasn’t out right vicious, he wasn’t very nice either. Glen had yanked and tugged on the short string strung between him and Drift jolting him around and causing him to fall on many occasions along the way. Their stop didn’t last long and Glen yanked hard on the web bringing Drift to a stumbling start. Drift pulled a long slow breath through his nostrils paying close attention to new scents as he started moving again. He was pretty sure they had made it to the fortress, the ground under his paws felt hard and warm, a stark contrast to the wet muddy leaves of the forest floor. The smell on the air had changed as well, still damp and musty but he could smell a fire burning and the distinct smell of coffee.
Do I smell coffee? Are we there, can I have a cup? Drift said after only a few steps.
No, now hold still, Glen growled.
No, I don’t smell coffee or no I can’t have some?
I liked it better when you weren’t talking at all Dog. Now hold still so I can cut my web from you.
As quickly and effortlessly as before Glen sliced the web from Drift and let it fall to the floor. It took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the new light but once it did Drift could see he was in a large home. Wide wood plank floors and stone walls lead up to a giant vaulted ceiling with dark exposed wood beams. The space looked far too lavish and comfortable for a fortress, more like an high end rustic hotel in the woods. There was a sitting area with a couple of large chairs and a love seat facing a tall open hearth. An ornate area rug covered much of the floor and animal heads of all kinds adorned the walls. On the far side of the room there was a half wall separating the main room from a small kitchen. In a far corner on a stone countertop sat a coffee pot filling up with fresh coffee drip by drip.
Coffee, I knew it, and it’s fresh Drift barked.
Sit down and keep quiet and tell your friends to get out here. The Hunter will be with us soon and I don’t want to deal with any of your tricks. Glen said pointing to the love seat.
Drift placed Rain’s fishbowl on the seat next to him and Bowser slipped out and floated over to one of the empty chairs. Drift sat facing the fire, almost motionless. Behind him he could hear soft footsteps and the clink of glassware. He’s getting coffee isn’t he, Drift said to no one in particular. Now would be the perfect time to ask for coffee and something to eat. I mean he’s already in the kitchen it wouldn’t be that much trouble would it.
Shut your hot dog hole Drift, Bowser whispered. We are prisoners, not guests. Let’s not start off on the wrong paw.
Drift took a deep slow breath and let out a sigh of disappointment, he stared into off into the distance with a look of defeat on his face. While he sat, he could hear footsteps drawing closer and louder. The look on his face quickly changed from defeat to fear, the suspense was making his skin crawl. Drift you’ve got to calm down you’re giving me the willies, Bowser said in the softest voice he could manage. The footsteps stopped but Drift could hardly move, he was frozen with fear, head down, heart racing. He managed the nerve to look up from the floor slightly, as he did he noticed two furry paws. They were covered in curly golden blonde fur; he knew they belonged to the Hunter, but he could not bring himself to look up at the face of his captor. He gathered his courage and slowly started to look up. To his surprise, an outstretch paw held a large steaming mug of coffee. A smile slowly pushed up the corners of his jowls, thank you, he stuttered softly as he timidly reached out his paws to take the mug. As he took the mug from the golden blonde paws in front of him his line of sight cleared. Booger? No way. The words slipped form his lips before he could stop them.
Booger? The deep echoing bark of the Hunter repeated. Did you just call me Booger?
Thank you, Drift, thank you, those were the words you were looking for. How dumb can you be? Bowser barked loudly.
I haven’t been called Booger since I was a pup, not in 40 dog years has anyone said that name out loud. The Hunter’s response confused everyone in the room except for Drift and the Hunter. Booger, the Hunter said again with a chuckle, an unexpected name from an unexpected guest. Glen and the spiders have never once brought a captive into my home, never, yet here you sit. Not in a million years would I have guessed this turn of events, never took you for the adventuring type Drift.
Bowser and Rain were shocked speechless.
Well if it wasn’t for my friend Bowser over here, I would still be at home, I am just as surprised as you. Drift’s entire demeaner had changed his tail was wagging and voice was strong and confident. I am just as surprised as you, Booger. Aunt Tara said you were dead, run off to hunt for treasure and never returned. How are you alive? How are you the Hunter? I can’t believe you’re the “Hunter”. Drift made air quotes with his one free hand as he continued. Booger, I mean Scout, Scout’s his real name, is my cousin, his mom and my dad are cousins, we grew up together, we used to spend every summer together. We got older and saw each other less and less and then one day he was gone. Drift explained to a completely stunned room.
Bowser floated silently, his jaw wide open, Rain was in such shock that she was almost floating upside down.
Well, Drift, Scout began. I did head off to search for treasure and glory, that part of the story is true, however I am not dead. Even as kids I always loved an adventure, I am sure you remember. My adventures came with great fortune and even greater danger. Pirates, gangsters, ninjas, curses, even giant spiders; pretty much every bad guy you’ve ever seen in a movie, I’ve had a run in with. I couldn’t bring that home to my family and put the people I love in danger. So, I decided to never go home ever again. So, I crafted the persona of “The Hunter” and made a deal with the spiders to help them keep their woods and their lives. It gets lonely sometimes out here, but I have everything anyone could ever ask for and more. Except the glory of returning home a rich, successful treasure hunter but we all make sacrifices don’t we. Now tell me how a mild-mannered family dog like yourself ended up in my woods with a ghost and a fish.
If Bowser’s jaw could drop any lower it would have gone through the floor. The idea that Drift could be married and have a family was even more shocking than anything that had led up to this point.
Well I am not a family dog anymore, Drift replied. About 6 months ago I found out that Princess was making puppy eyes at one of her coworkers at obedience school; a miniature, Irish chihuahua named Martin. I came home one day and there was a note on the table; “I can’t ignore my feelings for Martin, I am leaving.” It broke me, 20 dog years gone in an instance, 26 if you count the time before we were married. I tried so hard to keep her happy, but it was never enough, another in a long line of failures. I hardly got out of bed after that, she left me for a scruffy little, pot-bellied long hair and moved to the city. I felt like I died, I couldn’t bare it. Then one morning I woke up and I thought for sure I had died; the sky was filled with strange colors and there was a ghost floating in my house. That was only a few days ago, when I met Bowser. Drift continued his story, filling Scout in on all that happened after that morning all the way to up to being captured by Glen.
Unbelievable, I can’t believe she left you for a chihuahua, a miniature Irish chihuahua at that. I mean what even is a miniature Irish chihuahua? Scout scoffed, starring at Drift. Sorry, that’s not important, you were too good a dog for her anyway and this proves it. Scout could see Drift retreating into his head, the expression on his face had changed and his eyes starred into his black coffee as if he were looking into the abyss. Right, well life has a way putting things in perspective for us doesn’t it. You’ve got much bigger bones to bury, time to move on and leave those mistakes in the past. You’ve got to save the world and I can help, one sword stone coming right up.
Wait what just happened, Rain was finally floating right side up in her bowl, but her head was spinning. Knucklehead is cousins with the Hunter, he was married, he has actual thoughts and emotions, he isn’t just another brain-dead dog and you’re just going to give us the sword stone!? Rain said in such disbelief that she didn’t even believe the words coming out of her own mouth.
Well you catch on quick Scout said with a laugh as he tossed a glowing, opal like stone at Drift’s. Drift caught the stone in one hand, put down his now cold, un-sipped coffee and fixed his eyes on the long rectangular stone in his paw. He sat eyes fixed for what felt like a lifetime, slowly his focus drew sharp on the stone, he curled his fingers around the edges as he felt his emotions boil to the surface. Slowly a solid green beam stretched out from the top of the stone, long and sharp. It radiated, glowing bright enough to tint the whole room. The edges were clean, sharp and defined. It looked like a mix between a light saber and a samurai sword and Drift could feel it vibrate in his paw.
The room fell silent in the green glow, only the crackle of the fire and the soft wind outside breaking it.
I’d guess you could cut Mt. Erol in half with that sword right now if you wanted, Scout said softly. You can stay the night, eat and rest here, in the morning Glen will bring you to the base of the mountain. If war with the eraser cat’s and Dr. Time does breakout, I’ll be there for you Drift, I’ll join the battle.