Chapter 8

Kilchoan

“We take the car?” Flecki was close to going postal. “Mayor, let me tell you that nowhere around is any road, not to talk about a car. It’s pitch dark and the people are sleeping! Well, Mayor?”

The mayor grinned and looked up to the stars. “We take the car…”


“Arrrgh, I’ll screw off his blockhead! He’s loopy, he is!” Flecki screamed and wanted to go for the mayor but chief engineer Botchy and repair hamster Tuffy could hold back the raging Flecki.

“Perhaps we do not understand him correctly”, Tuffy wondered. “He is certainly thinking on quite another level.”
“I’m sure”, Goldi laughed. “Dou you remember his Xmas speech when the Christmas tree hit his bonce?”
“Ha, ha”, Flecki snickered, “and when the goulash buried him…”

The mayor still watched the stars and grinned. “Would like to know what’s so wonderful up there”,
Topple wondered. “There certainly is no car.” “
The Charioteer in the best case”, Goldi said and laughed again. “We might shoot him there with a rocket.”
“Charioteer?” Tuffy cried excitedly. “A charioteer steers a car! That’s it! The enlightened one shows us the direction we’re to go.”

 



Now the hamsters held a short conference. They decided better to follow a silly plan than to have no plan at all. On their westward road the hamsters were glad to be on dry ground again. The route was quite pleasant and quite lonely. The main road turned to the south, and the stars they were following gleamed in the western sky.

“If the road does not soon bend to the right, we’ll never reach the sea”, Dodo lamented.
“That’s right”, Flecki said. “We certainly won’t follow that silly charioteer this way. Where are we, by the way?”
“I think the place-name sign said something like El Caracha”,1 Dodo said.

It was rather a cold night and to make matters worse it started to drizzle. The main road still showed no intention to bend to the west and so the hamsters took the next side road to the right and after a few hundred metres they could see a building at the road side. When they came closer they saw that it was a church. Four windows and a tiny tower, not much bigger than a chimney, that was all this little grey church had to offer. The hamsters did not mind. They soon found a small opening and were glad to be out of the rain. It was cold and spooky but outside it was colder and spookier.



The night was short and not very restful as the mayor several times stroke up songs about sun and beach.

“If we are not at some beach soon, I’ll go nuts.” But not only Flecki was cross with the mayor. Their eyes were red-rimmed and they would have liked to shoot the mayor to the sea with a canon.
“We urgently need something to eat”, Goldi remarked. “We haven’t eaten for an hour!”
“Because you sucked in everything there was”, Flecki grumbled. “Now we can see how we fare.”

The situation was serious. There was nothing but peat moss and grass - and heather which the hamsters did not like at all. Now they would have needed some good advice and after a short discussion the hamsters decided to go back to the main road. There was a small town after all and in a town should be something to eat. Only the mayor very much disliked the idea, he bleated about going to the sea. Finally Botchy and Dodo gripped his hind-paws and dragged him along. So it took some time until the reached the town.

“And now?” Flecki looked about her. “Over there are some shops, but we have no money.”
“We could make a break-in”, Goldi proposed. “That would only be theft of food and the penalty would not be so hard.”



“Great”, Flecki jeered. “And how will we get away quickly with our short paws?”
“We take the car…”
“Shut up, Mayor!” Flecki shouted and ran in circles. “If that chap says another word, I’ll go bonkers.”
“Well”, Topple said, “over there is a van, but I won’t join in a holdup.”
“How about working for a change?” repair hamster Tuffy asked.

This proposal was agreed to with loud cheers, though none of the hamsters had the faintest idea how to earn money or nourishment by work. But now they had to decide in which shop they were to offer their willingness to labour. Chief Botchy proposed the small shop for spare parts. Flecki and Tuffy voted for the flower shop, Goldi for the bakery, and the mayor for sun, sea and beach. The majority favoured Goldi’s proposal and as he had made it, he also was to go to the interview for the job.

“If it doesn’t work, we’ll take plan B”, Goldi firmly said.
“Plan B?” Flecki asked.
“Plan B”, repeated Goldi and nodded. “We’ll nick a slice of cake and run away.”

So they entered the bakery, dragging behind them the protesting mayor. It was not easy to open the heavy door, but with united forces they succeeded. A bell rang and an elderly lady stepped behind the counter. First she looked at the door with some surprise because it seemed to have opened by a ghost’s hand, but then she looked to the floor. Startled, she gave her glasses a touch und peered at the hamsters. “O my, you darlings! What do you want here?” Flecki shoved Goldi towards the counter. So Goldi was standing in front of the saleslady and tried to remember the words which a long time ago Elfrida2 had taught him. His brain worked. What if the nice lady asked him what kind of work the hamsters could do? None, he would have to admit. So Plan B? No, is was impossible to jump onto the counter and steel the cake. Then Goldi had the solution. With saucer eyes he looked at the saleslady and pointed at his belly. He gave a low, wailing squeak and again pointed at his hungry stomach. This had the required effect.



“Oh, you poor little darling animal! You are hungry! O come to me, I will give you something.”

Tears were in the woman’s eyes. She took some slices of cake and distributed them lavishly to the hamsters. Goldi of course got the largest piece. Then she ruffled the munching Goldi’s fur and held the shop door open so that the hamsters with their cakes could leave.

“Well done! Regarding food you are unbeatable”, Flecki said to Goldi when they were back on the main road. The hamsters had hardly solved this problem in such a glorious style when the next one turned up. The sky had darkened within the last hours and now the first, thick raindrops began to fall.

“Shall we take the car now?” Tuffy asked.

This time they did not discuss but one after the other climbed onto the roofed loading space. The rain pattered on the canvas of the van, while the hamsters were sitting dry and noshed their cakes. In here it was most comfortable and when the last crumb was scoffed one hamster after the other fell asleep. The rain had ended for long when the hamsters were started up.

“Pleh, an earthquake, cinap!” the hamsters shrieked.
“Keep cool!” chief Botchy said. “You know what to do if there’s any danger!”

The hamsters immediately started to shriek and to run in circles. The running was quite difficult because the ground under their little paws moved and rumbled. Again and again the small animals toppled over until at last they struck on the idea to find out what was happening. “The van simply moved off!” Tuffy cried in panic.

“He he”, the mayor grinned. “We take the car… Summer, sun, and beach, where I found a peach…”
“Where might we be going?” Tuffy asked and squinted through a crack in the canvass.
“Hey, there’s a sign. I think it says Kilchoan.”

Now there was no stopping for the hamsters. Each of them looked for a crack in the canvass to peer out. The landscape was wonderful. In the far distance a high mountain could be seen which looked like a volcano. The sea was visible in the other direction. Rumbling, the van passed a sign which showed the word Sanna, then the vehicle suddenly stopped.

 



Cautiously the hamsters peered out. They were on a small parking place. The driver got out and walked into the direction they had come. A phone box was standing there. The hamsters could see a narrow river which seemed to run into the sea. They could see dunes and seaweed. Quickly they scrambled down from the van and ran into the dunes. The last one to follow was the mayor who again bawled his song about the beach. When they finally reached the beach they exhaustedly fell to the warm, clean sand and looked out to the sea. In the distance a ship was approaching.

1 (Acharacle)

2 (Book II, Hamsters, Witches und Australia)