Inspired by a conversation with my Scottish friend Gillian, here’s an odd little short story I whipped up for shits & giggles following a late-night chat that somehow devolved into a bizarre conversation about posh superheroes and rebel foxes.
Those Damned Foxes
A pack of slender shapes darted through the shadows of the small London suburb, tails held high in the air, ears pointed and alert. The foxes were on edge as they quietly scurried through the streets, clamoring and nosing their way into whatever nooks and crannies they could fit. An open window here, an unattended gate there, and perhaps once in a while, even a door opened by a mysterious gloved hand, wrist cuffs fraying from wear and years of nipping fox bites.
The hungry canines spread out in all directions, searching the homes they found accessible, noses twitching at a hummingbird pitch, scavenging for any scrap of food. “So Hungry” they all thought in unison.
Some of the foxes were stealthy in their nature, and those were the select few most likely to survive the night’s ordeal, spiriting away to the countryside whilst clinging to the shadows if they were lucky. Others were less cautious, their hunger making them reckless in their decisions. Occasionally one even took an ill advised taste of a sleeping human child, though not for desire of eating it but rather to lick clean the sticky remnants of jam and scones smudging the young one’s hands and cheeks, the raspy tongue waking the youth to the unexpected sight of a furry face and bright white teeth.
Screaming most typically comes next.
Parents, naturally, do not appreciate this.
They dislike it so much in fact that they chased the foxes with brooms and sticks, yelling angry oaths whilst sending the furry intruders fleeing into the night.
A shabby man in a well-worn mackintosh watched it all happen from the shadows as he leaned against his pristine van. He checked his watch,, then closed the rear door to his van and slowly climbed back in, starting the engine with a quiet cough before heading off down darkened streets.
In his wake the townsfolk had taken to the streets, yelling and hollering while chasing foxes from their doorsteps. “Out you damn vermin! Out I say!” shouted a blubbery man wearing an enormous mustache but not much more as his mass jiggled from his porch.
“Mr. Olsen” exclaimed his elderly neighbor, “What ever are we to do about these horrible foxes?”
“I think there’s only one thing we can do Mrs. Smith.” With that he picked up his telephone and dialed a 3-digit number. “Yes, hello? I’m afraid we have a fox problem, it’s really quite out of hand. Do you think they’d be able to find time to come help us common folk?” he asked into the handset. “Yes, of course, we’ll light it right up. Thank you so much.” The man turned, looking up the road, calling to a young boy watching the commotion from his window. “Tommy,” the man called out, “light it up, they’re willing to come to our aid.”
Tommy shut his window with a bang, then stepped out of his house, scurrying up the street at a quick run, dodging foxes as he went. Moments later a loud metallic clanging could be heard as faces appeared in windows.
“Oh, is someone lighting it?”
“Are they really going to come?”
“I hope I can get an autograph!”
The sky flickered for a moment as the enormous light came on, a massive image of a bugle clearly emblazoning the sky.
“It’ll only be a matter of time now” said Mrs. Smith, “I think at last we can all breathe a sigh of relief.”
Back in the stables on their 300 acre estate (the small Summer parcel they sometimes gathered at), The Posh Crusaders sipped their tea and nibbled on finger sandwiches as they gazed up at the sigil lighting the sky.
“Well, it’s about time.” Said Sir Richard Excellent Dibbley. “Damn plebs have kept us waiting for hours already.
The van pulled up and the shabby man approached. “Sir,” he said, “forty-seven foxes on the High Street as instructed.”
“Thank you Henson, that will be all for now.” Replied Sir Richard. “Alright team, it’s time to remind those commoners why the aristocracy shall always prevail. Lord Hamish Amazing MacKay nodded his approval.
“Very well Sir Excellent, let’s be off then. Lord Fantastic, Dame Incredible, gather the others, we ride in 10 minutes!”
The townspeople peered anxiously through the streets as shapes flittered in the dim light, both people and foxes alike, when a sharp bugle cry cut through the night. “It’s them, they’re coming!” shouted young Danny Fay. And sure enough, they were indeed coming.
The Posh Crusaders were a sight to behold as they slowly rode their enormous steeds down the street, black boots glistening in the pale moonlight, white pants crisp and clean, red coats blazing on their backs. Acutely aware of the eyes on them, they held themselves with the air of the elite, of the ruling class, of the aristocracy.
Sir Excellent scanned the scene and spoke. “Citizens. Commoners. You have called for our assistance and we are now come in your hour of need. He paused, allowing the common people to take in the sight of his majesty.
You sir,” he said, pointing at Mr. Olsen, “where are these scurrilous vermin from which you are in such dire need of rescuing?
Mr. Olsen pointed and stammered an incoherent reply, so glad was he at the sight of the Posh Crusaders.
Sir Excellent gave him a quick nod, then turned to his snooty compatriots.
A blare of bugles filled the night air, followed by the yowling of the Aristo-Hounds as they ran down the streets and alleyways, barks bouncing off the walls, echoing this way and that. The mounted heroes, though lacking capes (Lord Amazing had once floated that idea but it was voted down faster than the spandex unitard suggestion from Lady Stupendous) galloped forth to their task, and in a short but bloody frenzy the neighborhood was soon cleansed of the horrible fox menace.
The air had taken on a calmer feel, and Henson loaded the dead foxes into his van while The Posh Crusaders signed autographs and took pictures with the commoners. “Who do I make it out to?” asked Lord Amazing, the star-struck girl looking at him in awe.
Finally “Crusaders, mount up!” called Sir Excellent.
Once more astride their mounts, the heroes turned and rode off, but not before heartily shouting out, “Long live the aristocracy!” to which the grateful townsfolk replied in kind, “Long live the aristocracy!” and applauded as their saviours rode off into the night.
Back at the estate, Sir Excellent stood at the wash basin in the stables, dabbing specks of fox blood from his gloves.
“Forty four of the forty seven this evening Sir.” Said Henson.
“Only three missing this time? Not bad. Next week let’s make it an even fifty, shall we Henson?”
“Indeed sir, I’ll inform the kennels.”
“The people will always need the aristocracy Henson” Sir Excellent said to himself, admiring his strong jaw in the mirror. “It’s the natural order of things.”
“Yes sir, right you are sir.
In a small dugout on the outskirts of town, three weary and filthy shapes slithered into a gap between some boards, entering a long shuttered factory.
Suddenly a bright light shone down upon on them and a harsh voice barked out, “Password!”
The dazed foxes quickly gathered themselves, standing straight. “Bannockburn!” they replied in unison.
The spotlight went out, replaced by a dim glow illuminating the cavernous ruins. As their eyes quickly adjusted, the three saw their fox brothers and sisters in great numbers from floor to rafters. In fact they’d never seen this many foxes in one place, not even in the Posh Crusaders’ secret kennel.
One particularly large and grizzled fox padded over to them, sniffing their tails. “Good” he said, “Very good indeed.” The newcomers looked at him, curiosity in their eyes, but also a tinge of fear. This fox had an air of something different about him. Ah yes, an Alpha.
“The humans are getting more careless, soon our numbers will be great enough to reclaim what’s ours.” Said the burly fox.
“Can it be possible?” asked the youngest of the three newcomers, “we’d heard rumor of this place, but never imagined there were so many.”
“Och m’lad, it’s more than possible.” He paused. “Lights!” The room was suddenly illuminated and the three were astounded to see there were far more of their kin than they’d thought could possibly exist, let alone be in the same place.
The rugged old fox looked them over once more and flashed a toothy grin, nodding his approval of his newest recruits. “They call me Borlum” he said, “Welcome to the resistance.”