Chapter 10

 

Approach

 

“Erm, yes, perhaps the chief should somewhat concentrate on the navi-dingus… By the invested poorness – er – power invested in me I ask for some more dizzy-dingus – er – discipline…”

 

The hamsters were just crossing the Channel when the chief slowly calmed down and stopped shouting. Grumbling, he took his seat at the helm again. About time as by now their journey over water was ended and land was in sight. Fascinated, the hamsters looked out of the windows. They reached a huge bay and followed quite a large river.

 

“And now?”

 

The mayor goggled at the chief and searched for some clever reply to this question.

 

“Erm, yes… Well, we are for Oban, words to that effect – er – questions in that line should go to our navi-dingus…”

 

They all turned to Dodo how appeared somewhat panicked and wildly rummaged the maps he brought along. “Let me see…” he gasped, “I’m doing my very best… Just give me a chance…”

 

“Florida is said to be nice at this time of the year, or Brittany. Just let’s rely on Dodo”, Taty grinned, nudging Tealeafy.

 

Now a city appeared under them, a very big city. The hamsters marvelled at the impressive bridges connecting the two parts of the town… Bridges, some of them crowned with real towers, a palace with a high tower, carrying a large clock-face indicating the time. Followed an even bigger palace with a spacious park behind it.

 

“Do we have enough food?” Goldi asked. “That looks like a shopping centre – talking about supplies and all that…”

 

“Indeed, indeed”, agreed the mayor, “a slopping tour – er – shopping tour wouldn’t be that bad. Helmsman, engines stop and ready for landing!”

 

The chief reduced the power and steered the space ship towards the huge palace. “I’d feel better if that navi-dingus tells us where we are!” he grumped.

 

“Just a minute!” Dodo stammered.

 

“There were guards at the door”, Trample marvelled.

 

“Best to land in the inner court”, Botchy stated. “Navigator! Where are we?”

 

“Just a minute!” Dodo gasped. “In a moment!”

 

“Well, it’s quite noble here”, Flecki marvelled. “Like a queen living in here…”

 

“Did you see that giant statue of the madam looking like hailing us?” Tuffy added.

 

“Navigator! Where the hell are we?” the chief shouted impatiently.

 

“Only give me a minute!” Dodo wailed. “Just give me a chance…”

 

With very low speed the hamsters now passed the windows of the palace and could see wonderful furniture, pictures and decoration. And guards again. Botchy adjusted the course and steered an elegant curve over the huge inner court.

 

“Over there seems to be the entrance hall”, Dasy cried. “My, but that’s smart…”

 

“Don’t you talk about smart”, Trample wailed. “What if the guards get at us? What, if we crash? I don’t want smart and if I die, I want to go peacefully – like once my grandfather in his sleep. And not screaming like the passengers in his car…”

 

“Bloody navigator, where the heck is this bloody inner court located?” chief Botchy roared, interrupting Trample’s nostalgia.

 

“In a minute!” Dodo yowled. “Why don’t you give me a chance? Why are the small ones of this world always stepped on?!”

 

There was a clash. The chief had approached one of the two large flower buckets to the right and left of the door. Earth sputtered, the view was blocked by soil and leaves.

 

“I’d say you stirred the pot”, Tealeafy cackled.

 

“Dodo, I’ll wring your bloody neck if I don’t get information!”

 

“But he’s doing his very best, chief”, Taty jeered, “just do give him a chance…”

 

“Got it!” Dodo cheered. “I found it, I told you I’ll find it and I asked you to give me a chance and you gave me a chance and I said ‘In a minute’ and…”

 

“Shut up or I’ll bury you in the flower pot!” chief Botchy barked while switching off the engines. “Now where are we, you mega navi-dingus-dummy?”

 

“Following exact calculations”, Dodo proudly started, “we landed in the middle of a town, as it is on the market square of… Snortlington!”

 

“Snortlington?” the chief grunted. “You sure?”

 

“Sure”, Dodo replied, his eyes moistening, “or don’t you trust your navigator?”

 

“Well, I’d rather guessed London”, Flecki remarked. “I’ve seen some cute shopping centres before…”

 

“No!” Dodo wailed. “Snorlington! Why does no one trust me?”

 

“Perhaps ‘cause Snortlington has no king’s castle?” Goldi grinned.

 

“Wa-a-a-a-ah!” Now Dodo howled without any control. “You’re just mean!”

 

“O well”, Botchy grumped, being shirted by the wailing, “for my sake it’s Snortlington. And what now?”

 

“What, what now?” Dodo sobbed.

 

“Well, how to go on now?”

 

“What – how to go on?”

 

“How are we to go on, you deadhead!” the chief roared so that Dodo collapsed, weeping, and whimpered:

 

“How should I know… I only took a glimpse at the map…”

 

“And only for several short hours”, Taty grinned.

 

“Impossible to get to the depth of the matter that quickly”, Tealeafy added, looking at Dodo sympathetically.

 

“That’s what I say”, Dodo wailed. “Why always me? Why don’t we go through that door there?”

 

“Yes”, the mayor remarked, “the navi-deadhead is right! Mr. Chief, why don’t we go through the entrance door?”

 

“Because it may be a trap”, Botchy thoughtfully said.

 

“A trap?” Flecki cried. “A trap in Buckingham Palace of Lon… - er – Snortlington?”

 

“Food!” Goldi yelled, opening the exit hatch.

 

With cheers they all ran to the entrance door but it was closed. Suddenly a shadow fell over the hamsters, one by one they were gripped and put into a box. Someone looked into the box and the hamsters tumbled over each other, screaming, because that creature had so much fur on his head! They were carried away and found themselves in some small room. There was murmur, the sound of a closing door – and silence. The situation was hopeless, they were prisoners.

 

“Yea, yea”, chief Botchy cheered, “isn’t it great? I was right! I told you it is a trap and it was a trap indeed!”

 

In spite of this wonderful news the spirits were low of course and about an hour later even the chief stopped cheering and boasting. There were first outspoken ideas that the mayor should take some action.

 

“Erm, Dodo-gator, hum… Navi-Dodo! Location!”

 

“I haven’t any with me, Mr. Mayor”, the big hamster said, blushing.

 

“Why, that’s really a pity”, the mayor mused. “And have you any idea at least where we are?”

 

“But certainly, Mr. Mayor, that’s my job! We are within a box of about 15 by 15 inches!”

 

“Erm, hum, yes, thanks, dear Gaga – er – Dingus.”

 

The mayor realized that further questions made no sense. He leaned at the wall of the box and pondered. His team now expected some solution and he was quite certain that he could offer none.

 

“Er, yes, so let’s so to say fume up the macs – er – sum up the facts. We find ourselves in a 15 x 15 inch Gogo – er – dingus-box. – What does this tell us?”

 

“The box, Mr. Mayor? It doesn’t tell us anything.”

 

“Yes, fine, Dodo, thank you. But as I always will have had useless – er – use to say: We have been in more critical situations before…”

 

“O yes? Such as?”

 

The mayor sat brooding, the hamsters’ mood was rock-bottom.

 

“We after all got out of ol’ Shredder’s box…”

 

“So we did, Goldi”, Flecki retorted, “but there had been rain.” She looked up to the ceiling. “I guess rain is very rare in here. Do you have other clever ideas?”

 

“For sure”, Goldi grinned. “What’s lying at the beach – singing to a shell?”

 

“Hum, the mayor perhaps in a fit of summer-sun-beach?” Flecki proposed.

 

“Can’t be”, Dodo said after thinking deeply, “he isn’t at the beach, I’ve just seen him…”

 

“Now tell us”, Hamstilidamst urged, while Flecki banged her head to the floor, “what is lying at the beach and singing to a shell?”

 

“That’s clear as daylight”, Goldi cried. “A star…fish!”

 

For a moment the little rodents forgot their troubles but when the last laughter had died down, they felt miserable again.

 

“And now, what shall we do now?”

 

“How should I know?” Botchy barked. “You are the navi-Dodo! Well, what now, dummy? What shall we do now? How shall we get out of here?”

 

“Well, I have to think about that, Boss…”

 

“But certainly, dear Dodo, do so! We’ve got all the time in the world! Proposals?”

 

The last word was directed to all the hamsters and they immediately became busy. Everyone was much occupied or faked to be brooding over some solution, being most close to it. There, an harrumph, and all eyes were on Dodo.

 

“We take the space ship…”

 

“So why don’t we take the car, you dumbfool?!” the chief shouted. “How shall we get there?”

 

“Oh, Boss, do we have a car? If so, we might…”

 

While the rest of Dodo’s speech was drowned in the furious roaring of Botchy who wanted to fall on the escaping hamster, Flecki shouted: “Just a minute, do save your power for a moment! If we can get one of us over the edge of the box…

 

“That’s it”, Goldi nodded. “Thinking about a small light hamster and two big, strong hamsters…”

 

“Yes”, cried Flecki, “the two big, strong hamsters take the small, light hamster and catapult him over the box edge. Arriving on the other side, the small, light hamster hurries to our space ship and brings it here, lands within the box – and off we are!”

 

“A wise and feasible idea”, Botchy nodded and threw a glance at Trample who had fled into a corner of the box. “Dodo and I will take the part of catapulting to bring a small, light hamster over the edge of the box.”

 

“What”, Taty remarked, “if that small, light hamster is not able to steer a space ship?”

 

“We’ve got transmitters”, the chief replied, rubbed his paws and looked towards Trample.

 

“But what”, Tealeafy remarked with a smile, “if the small, light hamster does not survive the impact on the opposite side?”

 

“Or if the small, light hamster is shot by the guards?” Tealeafy reminded them.

 

“Well, erm… We will need the next volunteer, so to say by force. I so to say should love to volunteer as small, light hamster but after close scrutiny… er… er…”

 

“That’s okay”, Tuffy purred, “it’s not going to be some paunch-hurling…”

 

“Well, what now?” Botchy aggressively shouted. “Dodo and I will prepare the sling. All we need is the small, light hamster, ha ha ha…”

 

“Volunteering of course”, the mayor added and all eyes turned towards Trample. “So the volunteer has to be small and light…”

 

“No!” Trample whimpered.

 

“O yes”, chief Botchy smirked, “you answer the profile, chap. Congratulations!”

 

“Yes, right a lucky hamster!” Tealeafy cried while Goldi approached wailing Trample and patted his shoulder:

 

“I do envy you, you have the task to be our super-hero. Always remember that super-hamster would be proud of you in case you survive.”

 

“By the way, do us the favour not to be too noisy when landing on the other side. We do not wish the guards to take notice of us, do we?”

 

“Bravery and resolution”, the mayor added – quite unasked – to the sympathetic word of the chief, “often are more important than the single being. So to say to point out what I mean I want to tell you a story so that bravery and execution, erm…”

 

“No”, Trample whimpered, “no stories! Just hurl me! I want to have done with all this!”

 


Chapter 11

 

Escape and Ullapool again

 

“Without voting? Just for the fun of it? Without threats, violence, and blackmailing?”

 

“Ay, Goldi”, Trample snorted and took the transmitter the chief handed to him. “I’m the volunteer. Just for the fun of it!”

 

“We are proud of you, Trample”, Goldi said and once more patted his shoulder. “But remember: Lift your arms before you start, Trample.”

 

“What for? Is the flight easier that way?”

 

“Maybe but in the hospital it is easier for them to get you out of your shirt…”

 

It took some minutes until they had caught shrieking Trample and positioned him for the optimal start as Goldi phrased it. Dodo held Trample’s left fore and hind paw, the chief was responsible for the right side. Then Hamstilidamst counted down from 3, and Trample our friend was hurled up, tightly passing the edge of the box. Steep up into the air he went and as Dodo’s starting aid had been quite powerful, shrieking Trample was rather a right-turning hamster.

 

“Not that bad”, Botchy grumped. “He looks right like a furious humming-top but gets more drive by that.”

 

“Perhaps he shouldn’t wave his arms to much, he just wobbles…”

 

“Indeed”, Taty agreed with his brother Tealeafy, “and instead of all that useless shrieking he should better be on the lookout for a suitable landing place…”

 

Somewhere on the opposite side of the box there was a smack and all of a sudden the shrieking stopped.

 

“I believe he found a landing place”, Tuffy cheered.

 

Followed anxious minutes of silent waiting. Only the mayor touched the subject of an ‘honourable funeral’ but got only several reproachful glances. Then on the other side of the box there was whimpering and lamenting so that they concluded that their friend Trample was quite at ease.

 

“You okay?” Flecki shouted in a worried voice.

 

“Bruises all over, my fur is grazed…”

 

“That’s good news, Trample. Now see how you get us out of here!”

 

There was a furious hiss and nothing more for some time. Now they once more had to wait while Trample squeezed through the gap in the door and made for the space ship.

 

“I hope he won’t dally and has fun with some watch dogs…”, Botchy impatiently grunted.

 

“Or he gets a new dress-up as mossbeaver”, Tealeafy grinned.

 

Trample indeed had problems to drag his aching body along the long corridor. When reaching the exit he carefully looked out for any guards and against his own expectations was lucky. In the distance he could see four people who walked towards each other a most curious fashion and handed guns to each other. Trample could not make head or tail of what he watched. Cautiously he crept on and reached the space ship. Damned! Which of the buttons beside the door should he press?

 

With a trembling paw Trample pressed the upper button. A red inscription showed up: ‘Please enter password!’

 

Trample’s paws trembled all the more. What now? Desperately he once more pressed the button. This time the inscription was blue: ‘Forgot password? Please press 2nd button!’

 

The little hamster swallowed and drew hope. And pressed the 2nd button. ‘Password forgotten à Please enter password!’ was the inscription. Trample felt his knees getting weak and a pain in his stomach. Once more he pressed the button: ‘No chance without password. Please press 3rd button!’

 

With a curse Trample pressed the 3rd button. ‘Remembered your password?’ a new sign smiled at him and a multiple choice of: ‘Yes – No – Maybe’. Trample pressed ‘No’ and another inscription informed him to press the 4th button.

 

After pressing the 4th button, Trample was close to a nervous breakdown: ‘Obviously you have forgotten your password. To open the door continue with the 5th button.’

 

After activating button no. 5, Trample started to sob, his stomach gave him more pain still, and he was shaking all over. ‘No entering without password. Please continue with Item 1 or press Cancel.’ Wailing and with nerves lying raw, Trample pressed ‘Cancel’ as there was no sense in continuing with the 1st button.

 

Hazily the desperate hamster made out a new inscription: ‘Without password you can only enter by turning the door handle!’

 

It took Trample solid 5 minutes to fully comprehend the meaning of this information. He glared at the small handle and by and by it dawned to him that this was one of the events in his life he would keep to himself. Then he opened the entrance to the space ship.

 

“What is the chap doing all the time?” the chief grumped and kicked the box.

 

“Perhaps they are grounding him”, Taty cackled, “or mixing his special colour!”

 

“Whatsoever – let’s take cover”, Flecki proposed. “Trample knows nothing about flying and who knows what way and where he will come down here!”

 

“An excrement – er – excellent idea!” the mayor shouted. “We should go to that dingus-corner as our friend Trample certainly comes from the direction of the dingus-door!”

 

Though coming from the mayor, the proposal was accepted as good and logical and so all hamsters squeezed at the side of the box which pointed towards the entrance door.

 

“Here we are sheltered”, the mayor boasted. “We are hamsters, we are dingus – er – different. We do things with hamster-intelligence, don’t we, dear Bobo – er – Dodo?”

 

“For sure, Mayor”, the big hamster cried. “We made it to Snortlington and will make it further!”

 

“Just so, my dear Frodo”, the mayor proudly smiled. “Hamstian intelligence has dingussed us and will dingus us on! How, my dear navi-dingus, shall we proceed? Do tell me!”

 

“Ahem…” Dodo looked a little uncertain. “Right now, Mr. Mayor?”

 

“Just so, my dear Voodoo – er – Dingus, say it with the words of hamstian intelligence…”

 

“Doodledeedledoo?”

 

While his friends almost collapsed with laughter, little Trample had very different trouble. With the reverse gear he had engaged by fault he had shot into a geranium pot and was stuck. This meant getting out, digging, getting dirty, boarding and trying once more. At least his next start ended not in a geranium pot but in a rhododendron. ‘Rhododendron’ was originated in the Greek language – those words of Mrs. Peeping shot through his head. This did not help him very much at the moment and instead he had to get out again, dig, get dirty and try it once more.

 

After a quite unasked for, shaky round around the court of venerable Buckingham Palace the gerbil-ship was stopped by the door frame of a side entrance. Trample at least was closer to his destination even if it did not really look smart how he steered the ship through the entrance at walking pace. He patted some telltale crumbs of earth from his fur before he boarded once more and he took a deep breath. Then he started and after two ugly collisions with doorframes in the direction of the room where his imprisoned friends were waiting, he began to descend over the box.

 

Unfortunately he came down much too steeply so that he had to make another go. But than he had the knack and with a pretty turn came in from the other side. A few seconds later he crashed right into the box, forgot to take out impulse, banged against the wall of the box and made the whole box come down from the table.

 

“We’re safe, we’re safe!” Taty and Tealeafy whimpered under the overturned box which now was on the floor. Taty and Tealeafy were not the only ones who wailed and lamented their bruised bodies. Now came the trembling voice of the chief:

 

“Well done, Trample, thank you. Any objections of my taking over again now?”

 

Indeed, no one objected and a few minutes later the hamsters were ready for take-off

 

“You got the idea with the door handle, Trample, didn’t you?” Botchy asked after taking the helm. “You wouldn’t get very far with the buttons for automatic opening…”

 

“Sure”, Trample bawled, “I’m not dim after all!”

 

“Talking about dim”, Dodo cried, “what about light? What I mean is that we are under the box and can’t see anything. How shall I navigate if I can see nothing?”

 

“Well, a good navigator can also navigate at night…”

 

“But I’m sleeping then, Goldi!”

 

With a loud gnarl chief Botchy stopped the discussion. He started the engines.

 

“We shall”, he yelled to drown the noise, “stay snug in the box, that is under the box even if it is loud. That’s our best cover. We just push it along till we reach the exit, then I step on it and off we go!”

 

“Er, covered we are”, Flecki jeered, talking to Goldi. “But against what? Being discovered? Yea, who in the world will discover a roaring box moving along in the palace…”

 

“Well, we’re sheltered from rain”, Goldi grinned.

 

“Hold fast!” the chief bawled. “We reached the exit, we’ll be off in a trice!”

 

The engines roared, the hamster were hurled back in their seats or if not belted – like certain jinxes – through the ship.

 

“Bugger!” Botchy yelled. “That daft box won’t come off!”

 

Followed an outcry, sounding more like a surprised shout. That had been one of the guards. The chief had made the space ship-box collide with his head. Followed a shot, the one that came off the gun. And another sound followed, that of splintering glass. Finally behind the shot window pane a high-pitched voice could be heard: “My goodness! I’m not amused!” This had been the Queen who indeed was not amused over the end of her valuable Victorian teapot which just now had been shattered by a bullet.

 

In the general ado no one noticed that beneath the box a tiny space ship got free and made off with high speed.

 

“Let’s get away”, Dodo wailed, “in the end we’ll get the blame again…”

 

“Dodo, we are to be blamed!” Flecki gnarled. “A right clever idea with cover and all that…”

 

“The upwind in the court was too weak”, Botchy growled, “the box was too heavy and the space ship too fast!”

 

“Unforeseeable events”, Taty joked.

 

“Yes, then even the best navigator is helpless…”

 

“That’s my line, dummy!” botchy growled. “Did you ever think about our further course?”

 

Dodo fell silent and rummaged the maps. If the chief steered the ship northwards and nicely kept over land, the course could not be wrong. The space ship had put on the turbo, raced down the British island and soon the landscape became mountainous; here and there a lake came into sight. Now Botchy laid in a westward course and soon the coast line could be made out. Then there was a murmuring on board: northwest a huge chain of islands came into view.

 

“The Hebrides”, Tuffy gasped. “We just learned about them at school… The inner and the outer Hebrides.”

 

“Yea”, Hamstilidamst cheered, “there’s a ferry from Ullapool… that is…”

 

“Yes”, chief Botchy triumphed, “what a perfect flight. Well, navi-dingus, where are we?”

 

Dodo, wildly rummaging his maps, turned them round and round, gasping: “Just a minute, just a minute!”

 

“Let me give you a hint”, Flecki calmly said. “Over there is a port. It’s in Loch Broom. From there ferries leave for an island… Well?”

 

“I can’t work in all this hectic”, Dodo howled, “you’ve got to give me a chance!”

 

“Sure, Dodo, take your time…”, Tealeafy grinned.

 

The space ship slowed down and the chief made a big turn over Ullapool. Of course he wanted to try to land at the harbour, at the exact spot were in those days the BANTACH outpost had been. The ship sailed over Loch Assynt now and Dasy excitedly patted Sasy’s shoulder, pointing at something in that loch: Ardvreck Castle. Now the tiny space ship followed a road southwards. The gerbil-ship still slowed down and there was a murmur on the bridge when a town emerged in a valley.

 

“There! There it is!” the mayor shouted. “I seem to remember to have a meeting on highest level here in the brothel – er – with my brother. Now, dear navi-Dodo, what do you say? Are we there?”

 

“Just give me a minute”, the big hamster howled, “just a tiny minute, please!”

 

“You feel much safer if you are in the company of qualified specialist”, Tealeafy said in a dry voice.

 

“Yes”, Taty retorted, “such a pity that we’ll never live that day!”

 

“I’ve got it, I’ve got it, got it!” Dodo shouted, waving one of the maps.

 

“Well?” Botchy grunted, descending the space ship.

 

“Copenhagen!”

 


Chapter 12

 

Well now

 

Between the magazine in the harbour of Ullapool a tiny space ship was landing, containing a load of hamsters, laughing, bawling, and almost dying of fun. Had some passer-by watched this, he would have shaken his head on the question “Is there intelligent life in space?” We at least know the truth.

 

“Oops, Dodo, that was a good one”, Goldi cackled. “Look, over there if the ferry to Finland.”

 

Thoughtfully the big hamster looked at the Stornoway-ferry and it somehow dawned to him that some time ago they had been here already. Now they alighted from the vessel and while the mayor prepared a speech in his small head, chief Botchy walked up to the wall of the magazine. When he found the spot where for the first time they had met Daby and the BANTACH-people, he beckoned Dodo.

 

“Now we’ve got to work with the head, my… er… dear navigator. Lean forward, will you?”

 

“Oh, I can’t watch that!” Flecki gasped.

 

“Yea”, Goldi agreed. “Doozie! He uses Dodo’s nob as a ram to open the wall. Quite a fashion of thanks for his navigation services.”

 

“Snortlington!” they heard Botchy roaring. “Copenhagen! I’ll show you Wallington, you ninny-hammer, you no-navi!”

 

“But, Boss, we don’t want to go there… O-o-o-ow!”

 

“Gentlemen”, the mayor now interfered, “you can’t go on like this!”

 

“Right you are, Mr. Mayor”, the chief panted, “come and lend me a hand!”

 

This moment the brick moved against which Botchy had hammered Dodo’s head. They all took a step back. The brick was pulled in and two spits appeared in the opening.

 

“Password, please!” came a snarling voice.

 

The mayor stepped forward. “Well, we are so to say a Hamsterton delegation and wish to talk to the president who is so to say, if I may mention it, my own brother…”

 

“O yes”, came a voice through the gap. “We do recognize you!”

 

“Bodes nothing well”, Taty said to his brother.

 

“As you should know, your brother is not here. However, you may talk with President Daby…”

 

“Fonderwull – er – wonderful!” the mayor cried. “Concerning that we are here!”

 

The hamster troop was allowed through the gap and looked around. Nothing had changed here, not the outer appearance at least. They were guided by the two guards to the BANTACH-office box. They turned left and turned right until they reached the spot were once before they had waited for admittance.

 

One of the guards asked the hamsters to wait and knocked at the big office door of President Daby.

 

“Not now!” came a shout from inside. “I’m in the last but one level and have to shoot 5 bubbles and 2 stars! Leave me alone! Get you gone!”

 

“A delegation from Hamsterton has just arrived, Madam President!”

 

There was a distinct curse and the tune of a shutting down computer. Then there was some rumbling and the clanking of falling CD-covers – as Goldi expertly noticed.

 

“Just a minute, I have to put away some secret documents!” came the voice from the president’s office.

 

“I hope there’s something to eat soon”, Goldi remarked. “They say there are some first rate restaurants around here. As it is, matters get critical, we did not even take an emergency ration…”

 

“To you, emergency ration mean a full fridge!” Flecki hissed and then the door opened.

 

“Well now, I did not expect you at all. What a surprise! Come in, what my I offer to you?”

 

“Oh, there’s lot…”

 

“I’m sure of that, my dear Goldi. However, first things first. First thing I’d like to know how you arrived here this time.”

 

“Well now, my dear Daby, that’s strictly secret as we do not wish to see it in all newspapers tomorrow…”

 

“Understood”, Daby nodded, “neither would I give any information about the place of our supplies…”

 

“However”, Goldi quickly put in, “I’m all for absolute frankness! And for our mutual interests…”

 

“I quite got that one”, President Gaby grinned and made a sign to the guards.

 

When after some time the guards returned with an abundance of food, the cosy part of the day started with hours of chatting, munching and being lazy. So even this journey of the hamsters had found a happy ending. Up to Ullapool at last because now hard work was waiting for them, as Daby stressed. Most detailed the president wanted to know how matters lay to get a clear picture of the situation.

 

“Well, that lazy caretaker and that paw-licker Fuzzy I should send home”, she thoughtfully began. “The senior officer does not seem to be that bad… Er, Mr. Botchy, would you mind stopping to gnaw away the armrest of that chair?”

 

“I just can’t stand that blithering idiot”, Botchy bawled. “I’ll draw his cork right away if he doesn’t stop bullying me!”

 

“That’s why we shall integrate him, my dear chief! He now longer will be a nuisance – but of use to us.”

 

“Well, well”, the mayor harrumphed, “we – er – esteem the trouble you take, Madam President. However, as to the monetary section of the so to say deficit household situation…”

 

“Well, yes, I know you are broke, but completely broke”, Daby remarked. “Only drastic measures will help there.”

 

“Cancel down food?”

 

“Not exactly, Goldi, but close to it. Remains only one person whom I think to be able to administrate the realization of the measures as to controlling payments for the erection of the exhibition: the chief accountant, that numbers hamster.”

 

“Erm… not my niece?”

 

“Dowdy Buzzer?” the president retorted. “She did not have a holiday for sometime, did she? She is stressed and immediately gets a special holiday. If we are lucky she will not return.”

 

“Erm… Is that rather too drastic, my dear Mrs. Presidingus?”

 

“Well now, my dear Mayor, do you want to get out of the debt trap or not? I’ll pack my suitcase now and we’ll fly to Hamsterton!”

 

“What about the mayor? Any drastic measures?” Tealeafy grinned when some time later the tiny space ship was over Loch Broom and slowly took up speed.

 

“If I understood you correctly, the town hall is completely empty anyway, isn’t it?” On her words the mayor gave a start. “Well now, so the location of the planned exhibition is obvious, isn’t it? Room, furniture, even electrical connections are there in abundance. Products can be shown there, everything is sheltered from wind and weather.”

 

“And… my office?” the mayor croaked, wiping some sweat from his face.

 

“That will be the communication centre, Mayor. Something you can manage! You will welcome the many visitors and may hold several nice speeches. You can’t do much wrong there!” Daby explained, something like a grin on her face.

 

Beneath them majestic Loch Ness came into view and the space ship moved towards Dundee in direct course. When they reached the small port at the Firth of Tay and Dodo insisted that this was Hamburg, Daby made him sort the maps according to size. By this the big hamster felt so stressed that the chief could lay in the course without any ado and switch to autopilot.

 

Right in the middle of Hamsterton’s main street the gerbil-ship landed and with high speed the hamster troop raced through Hamsterton. By a massive police block they were stopped. Instead the hearty welcome they expected, they found themselves surrounded by police hamsters and when Botchy got out of the ship, he was shouted at:

 

“Didn’t you see the sign with the speed limit?”

 

“How d’you think I’m to read at this speed?” the chief shouted back and when now the mayor scrambled through the hatch, the policemen realized that they did not deal with any hooligans.

 

As matter of fact, the policemen rather looked liked hooligans themselves: unmotivated, without payment for weeks, some of them wore colourful headbands, others stickers with the inscription: ‘Hand over your money – the police!’ Others carried axes or even slingshots as they no longer had ammunition. Thoughtfully the BANTACH-President looked at this mob of peace officers, then she beckoned Flecki:

 

“They are not really dressed by the textbook. Could you see to it that in future they look y little more presentable?”

 

“I’d love that of all things”, Flecki grinned and at once took up her work.

 

“Chief”, Daby now turned to Botchy, “will it be possible to rebuild the town hall into an exhibition palace without razing it to the ground?”

 

“Madam President, you ask too much, that requires completely new technology!” Taty and Tealeafy cried with a laugh and also Daby could not hide grin.

 

“Well”, Botchy grumped, scratching his head, “I’d need some clever people for that…”

 

“You’ve got them, Boss, haven’t you?”

 

Botchy ogled at Dodo, shook his head and said no more.

 

“All right, Mr. Mayor, that leaves only one: the chief accountant. We will sit down with him now talking over financing!”

 

The mayor opened his mouth to say something smart but then he shut his mouth again and waddled behind the president into the town hall like a good mayor.

 

“Well, the show’s on! There’s nice work to do now, Dodo, what do you say?” Tealeafy grinned.

 

“Nice? Er, that makes me remember…”

 

“Please don’t!” Hamstilidamst groaned.

 

“Oh, come on, give him a chance”, Taty cackled. “Well, what do you remember when talking about ‘nice’?”

 

“Well, there once were two mouses”, Dodo started – Tealeafy already rolled on the ground. He slowly continued. “And a cat. And the mouses asked the cat: ‘Why are you so fat, cat?’ and the cat replied: ‘From eating lice, mice.’”

 


Chapter 13

 

Talking Budgets

 

“In the town hall? An exhibition?” chief accountant Conk gasped. “But how as to taxes…”

 

“That is left to you”, Daby interrupted him. “If you take a look at that junk outside, you will admit that first we cannot build up any exhibition ground there and second we do not have the money for it.”

 

“Indeed, but after deduction of the service tax we might afterwards…”

 

“…not generate any income to reorganize the Hamsterton budget”, Daby once more interrupted him.

 

“Just so, the income is dingus – er – the point, ladies and gentlemen!”

 

“No, it isn’t”, the chief accountant retorted. “Reorganization of the Hamsterton budget is, Mr. Mayor. Due to the deficit budget policy of your niece, Mr. Mayor, the income is stagnating.”

 

“Of course, of course”, the mayor cried, “these stagnations have to be increased!”

 

“Certainly not, Mr. Mayor!” Daby was most surprised. “These stagnations have to be compensated!”

 

“Erm, of course, of course, as I always use to say: No stagnation without composition!”

 

“What – er – do you mean, Mr. Mayor”, the chief accountant now asked. “Do you mean a revaluation of taxes or a cancellation of debts?”

 

“Well, of course, what I mean is that an incarnation – er – canellingus of debts is inevitable, ladies. Er – gents… hum – yes.”

 

“Of course you realize, Mr. Mayor”, the chief accountant went on without mercy, “that Hamsterton is a commune of the Hamstian Counties, and communes cannot cancel their own debts, only the Community of Counties can decide this in a united resolution.”

 

“Absolutely, dear senior amount – er – my dear count. As already tensioned, I fully back up the revolution of dingus – er – the Hamstian Community and agree with it without stiffs and cuts!”

 

“Ahem, ifs and buts you mean, Mr. Mayor! However, this is the wrong way…”

 

“Mr. Mayor”, President Daby proposed, “how about you going for a little walk? The long journey, the responsibility… Relax a little at the fresh air.”

 

A few moments later the much overstrained mayor staggered out of the room.

 

“Fine”, the chief accountant nodded, raising his voice a little to drown some noise from the staircase. “Perhaps now we’ll proceed a little faster, Madam President…”

 

In the meantime the mayor tottered down the stair, not even noticing that a debate was going on there.

 

“I’m sorry, but that won’t work!”

 

The two hamsters faced each other nose to nose. This smelled like a brawl and Goldi had already made himself comfortable on the landing, watching the meeting between chief Botchy and the caretaker.

 

“And why not, you owl?” the chief barked, putting his much too short arms to his much to wide hips.

 

“Because it’s siesta time and because I need quiet after my accident and because there is no written application!” the caretaker barked back.

 

“Siesta is next week, and with that application I may bust your nose!”

 

The door of the mayor’s office opened.

 

“What is the reason for this insufferable shouting, chief?” Daby asked, stepping into the passage.

 

“That owl’s looking for trouble!” the chief hissed. Looking at the caretaker, Daby quickly understand who that owl might be.

 

“So you are the caretaker?” she asked with quite an undertone.

 

“Yea, and after my bad accident I need a lot of rest, quiet and all that. And who might you be?”

 

“President Daby, I’m just checking on the readiness for action with the employees.”

 

The caretaker stood bolt upright and gulped.

 

“So you need rest?”

 

The answer was a nod.

 

“Dodo, this man needs fresh air. Best will be an outdoor job. Please take him to the market square and see to it that he cleans away the junk until the day after tomorrow.”

 

“But… Honoured Madam President, I’m much too weak for tasks like that, I need assistance!”

 

“Well”, Daby smiled, “as far as I know Dodo is known to be versed in the art of motivation and he is a good attendand…”

 

“Now and then a little overeager, the beggar”, Botchy grumped remembering the ugly knock-out he got when Dodo was ‘attendant’ on the Enterprise.

 

“But – that’s not in my contract!”

 

“Dodo”, the president smiled, “would you kindly motivate this gentleman?”

 

The next moment the caretaker left the town hall with loud shrieks – through the closed entrance door. Dodo slowly walked after him.

 

“All right, people”, Botchy grumped, “so let’s first of all repair that door, then we’ll clear out the rooms. Oh, and before that get Trample from under the smashed door. I can’t understand why he always has to be in the way…”

 

“Nice to see you back home, Mr. Botchy!”

 

All eyes were on the wrecked entrance door over the remains of which a peculiarly dressed person came: Dowdy Buzzer! A violet dress with frills she was wearing, a white bobble cap on her head and in each paw she carried a chain with a small pot fastened to it from which came some sort of smoke. Her fur was ruffled and her glance somewhat lunatic.

 

“Take care! My paw!”

 

That was Trample who slowly worked his way through the remains of the door.

 

Dowdy looked down and discovered him.

 

“Oh, Trample, bad karma again? You have to find your symmetry! Well, you are lucky, I have lavender smoke with me. Come, take this pot with lavender fume…”

 

“Waj, waj, waj!”

 

“As I always send to Tay: I love the war cry of the Celtic Mossbeaver!”

 

Goldi, you’re just impossible!”

 

“Flecki? How did you creep in that quickly? What are your raggedly uniformed officers doing?”

 

“They? I gave them some speeches and when they cried for mercy, chief officer Topple came. He said that he got a call from the new president and the task to take care of the post officers and dustmen on strike. He took along a few big, strong police hamsters. So it seems that matters are getting back to normal in our beautiful Hamsterton.”

 

“You are an unbalanced hamster!” Dowdy Buzzer now yapped at Trample who was whimpering and holding the paw he had burnt at the hot lavender pot. “Undisciplined and unsymmetric, you have to confront yourself, let yourself drop…”

 

“Er, Mrs. Buzzer, I assume?”

 

“Yes, that’s me, Dowdy Buzzer, acting director of the First Hamstian Exhibition and empathic mentor of the Hamstian population. All strained and unsymmetric, if you ask me. And your are?”

 

“Daby, president and commissioner of BANTACH. For the time being I am acting for your uncle, the mayor. He still is a little exhausted and strained from an interminable diplomatic mission.”

 

“Strained and unsymmetric, his inner karma is asynchronus. But I’ll take him back to his mental balance, under my directorship we shall make this exhibition an unforgettable event.”

 

“Be sure she will”, Flecki grinned, nudging Goldi. “Quite symmetrical and unforgettable.”

 

“This is exactly the reason I’ve been already looking for you, Mrs. Buzzer”, Daby prudently said. “As acting director of the First Hamstian Exhibition and empathic mentor of the Hamstian population you are urgently required to inform the world of our plans. It will be your mission to pay visits to the neighbouring hamster counties and in person invite them to us.”

 

“So I shall carry into the world our singularly spiritual event”, Dowdy Buzzer cried, overjoyed. “Talking about carrying, I need carriers because for reasons of symmetry I shall need six suitcases.”

 

“No problem”, Daby retorted. “The management of the regulatory office will take care of that.”

 

“Fine move”, the chief accountant mumbled, “so that chaos-team of Messrs. Dumb and Ass can do less harm.”

 

“Long live the symmetry!” the acting director of the First Hamstian Exhibition and empathic mentor of the Hamstian population shouted one last time, took the steaming lavender pot from the paws of the bewildered Trample and was gone. Remained the smell of lavender and a pack of cackling hamsters.

 

“Goldi?”

 

“Daby?”

 

“Would you agree to contribute a little to the prevention of disasters even it that would be against your conviction?”

 

“Depends”, Goldi retorted. “Famine for example. To prevent something as terrible as that is a particular concern of mine…”

 

“Probably the symmetric mentor will start her mission at Hamstermound. You certainly know some people there. It would not be bad if you gave them a hint that an escaped esoteric madwoman will show up there.”

 

Goldi nodded. “I’ll hurry to the next phone!”

 

And was gone.

 

“Lo and behold!” Daby cried. “He really can be quick, even at work!”

 

“Ha”, Flecki exclaimed disgustedly. “Don’t you know that the next phone is at ‘Fluffy’s Pizzeria’?”

 


Chapter 14

 

The Exhibition

 

When opening their Daily next morning, the Hamsterton population got such a shock that most of them went back to bed and stayed there for the day.

 

‘Hamsterton bankrupt! Shall we all starve?’ the headline yelled at them. Pictures of once upon a time’s 48-hours-famine were added as a gruesome extra. Followed an article which let the blood freeze in the veins of those hamsters who had not gone back to bed. With excessive exaggeration some doomsday scenario was given. At the end of the first page some sort of hope was conveyed to the interested reader, describing rescue measures. Quite dizzy by the idea of starvation, the hamsters could read that there still was hope. There was talk about a temporary reduction of Internet speed, about taxes on all computer games. So what? What was all this compared to starvation?

 

So it happened the all of a sudden the inmates of all houses yawned with boredom. Certainly, Internet connections were active – if you will call one word per minute ‘active’. A police razzia collected all computer games against a receipt and a voucher. New computer games could only be bought for astronomical sums as the surtax was at 100 %. Instead of this, all over the town snug little gambling houses could be found, opened by the Hamstian senate as sparkling sources of tax income.

 

Of course also the vouchers were cashed here and everybody did so. The snug little gambling houses were most popular and all the shops and takeaways as well. Naturally the vouchers were soon spent and the hamsters had to pay with money. From this moment on taxes came flooding in like hell. Chief accountant Conk and the tax-team around him hardly could manage the counting of money. First of all the wages of the civil service employees were paid so that police, dustmen and so on took up their work again. There still were sporadic protests but they were scotched by vouchers for gambling halls and restaurants. If there was food, what was any protest good for?

 

The whole action was accompanied by a gigantic PR-campaign of the press. Chief Officer Topple, in charge of exhibition marketing, made good use of his friendly contacts to the ‘Hamstian Daily’. The byword was ‘positive comments’ and even when in the town hall a bearing wall collapsed, there was no negative headline. ‘Chief Botchy adopting innovative techniques’ the ‘Hamstian Daily’ informed their readers. Photos of buried and wounded hamsters were sold as ‘Disaster training’ and the cover showed a merrily grinning hamster named Trample who was caressed by a nurse. She smiled in a most friendly fashion. There was no mention of Trample lying on a stretcher to be transported to hospital. Neither was there any mention of the fact that chief Botchy – smiling in the background – had a strong cudgel behind his back and had announced consequences to ‘Trample our friend’ in case he did not play along.

 

“Isn’t this manipulation of the public? Are not here false information scattered at will? Is this not taking the piss out of the people?” Flecki wanted to know from President Daby after reporting on the new dress code of Hamsterton Police. “Is this not a false image of truth?”

 

“It is”, Daby retorted.

 

“And are not citizens wishing to live their hobby soaked and exploited without mercy?”

 

“They are.”

 

“And shall this go on?”

 

“It shall, at least until the opening of the exhibition which has to be soon. My presence will then no longer be necessary. I’ve got to get home anyway.”

 

“Pity”, Flecki grinned and left. When descending the stairs of the town hall, Goldi came scuffling along.

 

“Well, gulped down pizza for an hour? Did you ring them up or was there no time?”

 

“As it is”, Goldi muttered, “I needed some vouchers first. No problem, enough cops around with vouchers. When I told some of them that I’m all against the new regulations, they handed me lots. Well, so I took my lunch and after that rang up Hamstermound. It’s all right, that esoteric-bird won’t get far. And what are you doing here?”

 

“I’ve been with the president and now I’m on my way to the driving school.”

 

“Driving school? What do you show a woman after two year’s accident-free driving?” Goldi smirked, trying to pass Flecki quickly.

 

“Well, what do you show her?” Flecki growled, barring his way.

 

“The second gear! Ha ha, a-a-a-a-a-ah!” With a shrill scream Goldi moved down the stairs backwards. On the next floor a door opened.

 

“What happened?” Flecki heard Daby call out.

 

“Nothing important”, Flecki soothingly said. “Goldi had the bad luck to slip on the stairs. No harm done, he’s still moving.”

 

She walked down the last stairs, took one big step across the groaning Goldi and left through the main entrance which by now had been repaired.

 

Growling, Goldi picked himself up, a dagger glance followed Flecki and once more he mounted the stairs. From the distance already he could hear the repair team finishing their preparations on the 2nd floor.

 

“And why, you big fool, did you not help mounting the tent on the town hall square? That’s refusal to work, that’s what it is!”

 

“But I wanted to, Boss, I was not permitted…”, Dodo wailed. “There was that sign saying ‘Keep off the building site’.”

 

“O my!” Botchy mumbled, trying not to hear the cackling of the other hamsters. “As a reward I have good news for you: You need not work tomorrow.”

 

“Thank you, Boss!”

 

“Don’t mention it. You have to get ready with all your work today. The rooms have to be spick’n span, all unevenness removed.”

 

While Dodo and Trample set out to empty all rooms, the rest of the repair team walked to the town hall square to mount the marquee.

 

At the same time the mayor discussed with President Daby. Chief accountant Conk was also present because now they had to solve one of the last financial problems of Hamsterton.

 

“Well, that Dingus-Jelly – er – that Mr. Jello is the only one so to say insisting on his claims…”

 

“Hamsterjello you mean, Mr. Mayor”, the chief accountant remarked. “And you say all other persons harmed during the first exhibition refrained from opening disclaim?”

 

“Erm, yes, they did. For tickets for that there dingus…”

 

“You want to say for the upcoming re-opening of the exhibition, Mr. Mayor.”

 

“Yes, uppeningus – er – just so!”

 

“Why does Hamsterjello not waive his claim, Mr. Mayor?”

 

“Erm, well, what he says is that since that accidingus a few weeks ago he no longer yearns – er – earns…”

 

“Stupid matter”, the chief accountant mumbled. “So now we cannot claim taxes from him…”

 

“Something’s coming to my mind…” Daby grinned and took up the receiver. She leafed through the mayor’s notebook and found what she needed. Then she dialled a number and switched on the loudspeaker. “Oh, I’m glad to reach you! For months I’ve been following all your concerts!” the mayor and the chief accountant heard the president say.

 

“Do you really?” they heard a satisfied answer.

 

“As it is, they are not very well attended, are they?”

 

“Come, come, you can’t say so. They are all fully booked!”

 

“Anyway, your last CD wasn’t such a seller, was it?”

 

“What do you say there? Sure it was – sold over a million times! That’s a funny sort of questions for a fan to ask!”

 

“Fan? O no, I’m just discussing with the mayor and the chief accountant of taxation about your financial circumstances…”

 

“Er – what? How’s that?” a very confused Hamsterjello gasped at the other end.

 

“Silly thing, that damage claim to Hamsterton, your tax progression will rise now…”

 

“Oh – this – er – that”, came a stammer. “A misunderstanding. Please – er – tell the mayor, er – yes…”

 

“Free concert”, the mayor whispered to Daby.

 

“Understood”, Daby said without mercy. “So you will repeat your concert to the re-opening – free of charge of course?”

 

“But certainly… One call of the mayor and I shall be there – promised!”

 

“So that is that”, chief accountant Conk remarked drily. “What about financing the interior of the exhibition – and what kind of interior is planned?”

 

“Computer”, the president said. “It will be a game exhibition.”

 

“In that case no amusement tax will be due as it is a municipal exhibition”, the chief accountant stated facts.

 

“Just so. And the Hamsterton population will just love to lend their private computers because first they do not have any more games and second they will get food vouchers – third of course the ‘Hamstian Daily’ will name them as hamster-unlike if they refuse…”

 

Daby rose to close the window to leave outside crashing and cries of pain. The first attempt to mount the marquee had not been successful… Instead the bawling of one certain chief on the neighbouring staircase could be heard all the better.

 

“Another thing, Mr. Mayor”, Daby sighed. “Please have the preparations controlled by chief officer Topple.”

 

During the day HAMPO officers collected most of the private computers. As chief Botchy was fully occupied debating with the chief officer, also the repair team progressed nicely. All rooms were cleaned and decorated to Flecki’s advice, the computers were installed and games piled up. There were pictures on the walls showing the history of the Hamsterton computers, starting with a simple calculator, i.e. one sunflower seed, up to the High-End-Computer. All over the place explanatory tablets accompanied the visitors who learned among other things that this one sunflower seed had been the mother of all calculators as with this the binary numbers 1 and 0 could be shown, i.e. sunflower seed is there and sunflower seed has been eaten.

 

In the late afternoon there was a peculiar accident. As to witnesses a window pane on the 2nd floor splintered and with loud shrieks the chief officer landed on the roof of the marquee. Unharmed. However, neither he nor the chief – who one hour later had a fat shiner – were willing to comment. The saying was that there had been a big brawl.

 

In the late evening all preparations for the exhibition were finished and Hamsterton spent the last night before the opening of the ‘Games and Fun Exhibition Hamsterton’. The night was not quite undisturbed because the Hamstian police had to move out several times. Once someone could be stopped at the very last moment to demolish a house with a stolen crane. A person up to now unknown had the new car of chief officer Topple on the hook and obviously wanted to smash his house with it. Soon after this a driverless road roller rolled towards the house of chief Botchy. Also this time with the help of the fire brigade damages could be stopped.

 

Next morning the official opening took place. All those involved in the exhibition were lined up peacefully. A small platform was erected right beside the marquee. All were elegantly dressed, only chief Botchy and the chief officer came of badly as both had bandages round their arms, legs, and heads. Dodo had forgotten to change and looked quite poorly in his working overall just like Trample whose only festive trousers had burst, stood with a fiercely red head and wished to be somewhere else.

 

President Daby held a short speech, thanking everyone – also the Hamsterton population – for their active assistance. After that chief accountant Conk informed in a paper sprinkled with figures about the sound financial situation of Hamsterton. The last one was the mayor.

 

“My dear yellow pittymen – er – citizens! In spite of all – erm – trouble we’ve taken, we today open the exhibition. I say we and I mean all and we tried hard so to day on this day…”

 

“Come to the point, fatty!”

 

“Erm, yes, that’s why we – and we paired no Spains – er – spared not pains…”

 

“Open the munching tent!”

 

“… to prevent an exhibition quacking for the beatles – er – looking for its equal”, the mayor bravely continued in spite of catcalls from the hungry guests. “Nobody could have stopped us…”

 

“Try us, fatso!”

 

The mayor reddened but talked on. “There were people not believing in us but we snowed them – er showed them…”

 

“Oh, did you, bigmouth?”

 

“No butter could cure… er – no nutter could lure us off our course…”

 

“Talking about butter! Open the munching tent, blatherskite!” a voice came from the hungry crowd.

 

“As in my office as… I’ll right punch your faces, you thankless riff-raff!”

 

“Mr. Mayor, please compose yourself…”, President Daby shouted and hastened towards the mayor to stop worse things happening. Unfortunately her high heels got stuck between the floor-boards.

 

“Your daft niece sips the dregs from the bottle return machine!”

 

“Leave Molly Malone – Dowdy alone!” the mayor yelled at the crowd. “Who let you out of the padded cell, he? Do your nurses know that you are here?”

 

“Ey, ey”, came a shout from the crowd. “You’ll hear clapping right away, but not for applause!”

 

“And you”, the mayor shrieked, quite uncontrolled, “better hide, the dustman are coming in a minute!”

 

“Ey, pugmouth, the zoo just rang up! Wanna have you back!”

 

“For goodness sake, we’ve got to do something, Goldi!” Flecki gasped when the first eggs and tomatoes came flying at the mayor.

 

“What for, it’s quite usual… Okay, okay, I’ll do something”, Goldi growled and turned to Dodo. “Eh, Dodo, the president’s got stuck, help her out, will you?”

 

The next moment shrieking Daby sailed across the marvelling crowd. She landed with a thud on the soft roof of the marquee.

 

“Ey, pugmouth, that means, munching is opened?”

 

The mayor had just torn a board from the floor of the platform and was ready to fall onto the crowd when Goldi whispered to him: “Tell them munching is opened!”

 

There was silence. The prospect of munching had unified them again. Eagerly the crowd listened to the next words of the mayor.

 

“My dear visidingus, our president has just opened the bunch – er – the punch – er – the bongo or something the like!” the mayor stammered and powerfully bit into the floor-board.

 

“Better let’s stay safe”, Flecki proposed and together with the other hamsters watched how the crowd of visitors stormed the marquee to stuff their tummies.

 

“By the way, where’s Trample?” Goldi wondered and looked about him.

 

“He’ll be at the food counter”, Dodo said. “Oh, I think he’s coming!”

 

Indeed Trample

our friend came tumbling out of the marquee. He was quite wet and his fur clotted with food particles.

 

“You should take a shower”, Flecki remarked, wrinkling her delicate nose. “What’s been happening now?”

 

“At the food counter”, Trample lamented, “there was such a fat, greedy hamster wanting a refill at once. I told him he had to queue up again so that everyone gets his turn.”

 

“Quite correct”, Flecki nodded.

 

“Quite wrong”, Goldi smirked.

 

“So he grasped me and dipped me into the pot of soup.”

 

“That was mean!” Flecki growled.

 

“That was to be expected”, Goldi bawled, sniffing Trample up and down. “Smells yummy…”

 

“’vaps ve vould vet vomeving varm av vell”, the mayor proposed, chewing at the board.

 

“Later, Mr. Mayor, now is the opening of the games exhibition in the entrance hall of the town hall!” President Daby panted, still out of breath from climbing off the marquee roof. High time indeed as the first load of food was munched down so that the star turn had to be announced now. It would after all take some time until the fire brigade, who had volunteered for preparing the food, would have the next lot ready.

 

“Let me give a short speech, Mr. Mayor, and finish your meal at leisure!” Daby said as they entered the balcony of the town hall.

 

“Throw down that mayor-twerp, honey!” some crowd-members bawled. Daby mentally checked her return schedule and very much looked forward to quiet Loch Broom.

 

“Or make the Disco Diva for us!” another one shouted and whistled on his paws.

 

“Welcome to the ‘First Hamsterton Games and Technics Exhibition’ in this lovely town”, she began. “In the exhibition halls of the town hall you may expect a great number and variety of thrilling games which you a welcome to test. Also the historical…”

 

The president interrupted her speech and, shaking her head, watched the tumultuous scenes in the great entrance hall. There was jostling, pushing, and pulling to get at the game pads, there was shoving and abusing. ‘A matter of time till HAMPO has to be called in’, the nerved president thought and dropped the idea at once when she saw that the worst shovers and abusers were HAMPO-officers anyway.

 

“Which blockhead was that? Which zombie-brain has done that? Who ripped out the sockets and plastered the outlets?”

 

“But, Boss, ‘t was you who told me to remove all unevennesses…”

 

“Stop shirking my fists and be thrashed like a man…”

 

A window splintered, a big hamster dived for the marquee roof. There was a sound of cloth ripping. And a splash. “Wow, yummy, barley soup…” Dodo’s voice could be heard.

 

Under the ovations of the exhibition visitors Botchy dived behind him. In spite of all his bandages he cut a fine figure. Also on his impact followed a splash, then a clank. A big hamster fled from the marquee, followed by a smaller but fatter and bandaged one who waved a ladle over his red head. Soon both had disappeared at the horizon.

 

“There is soup left!” the president shouted with a desperate undertone. Immediately the crowd pushed and shoved into the opposite direction, away from the plastered sockets. “Chief officer, quick, take the repair team and install extension cables from the upper floors to the computers… Or they smash everything to bits when they come back!”

 

“Respect!” Goldi nodded. “Daby quickly adopted to our lifestyle and culture.”

 

“Ay”, Flecki agreed, “a hard boiled diplomat.”

 

And so from the safe platform the hamsters watched the crowds trooping out of the marquee again, leaving behind waste and empty pots and pans. Wild bawling, cheerful yelling and little rows. Now and then a shrieking hamster came flying from one of the floors, one even still clutching the keyboard and after several window falls the marquee collapsed. The chief officer came limping and ordered police and fire brigade to roll up the tarpaulin and the marquee was changed into an ‘Open Air Eating’ event.

 

“Yea, yea-a-a-a-a, not this time. This time I’ve been lucky”, the hamsters heard Trample cheering when the tarpaulin was taken away and he emerged from it unharmed.

 

“Congratulations, Trample!” Flecki shouted.

 

“Thanks! The big mast saved me, I was just beside it, I’m a lucky… Argr-r-r-r-r!”

 

Unfortunately the big mast fell as it no longer was held by any tarpaulin.

 

“Oh, how fortune is fickle”, Goldi nodded while a fireman dragged unconscious Trample from under the mast.

 

And so the ‘First Hamstian Exhibtion’ had a happy ending – for most at least. Once more Hamsterton was saved although during the festivities half the town hall came tumbling down. However, no one took much interest in this. Towards evening also the chief and Dodo returned: Dodo was unharmed, only the chief had broken both his arms when trying to hit Dodo over the head. President Daby had disappeared in the early hours of the following day, obviously in a hurry to get back to quiet Ullapool.

 

By the by, Dowdy Buzzer never returned to Hamsterton. She founded an esoterics-school in Hamstermound and for the very first time had a fixed income. The mayor who was back in all his offices, was really glad and proud of her. Let’s look forward to all the disasters to come…

 

 

THE END

 

 

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