Chapter 06-09 - The Exhibition
Furiously, chief accountant Conk stormed out of the town hall, followed by the few employees he still had at his disposal. Consequently the building now housed nothing but the mayor and a few freshly employed dummies under the management of one Dowdy Buzzer who had no qualification beside far eastern meditation and a course on social-pedagogical communication. The further development of Hamsterton’s most important office might be regarded with some interest.
“Enough is enough, Mr. Botchy!” he shouted at the baffled chief. “Negative karma! I do not need to stomach that!” And disappeared into the next side road.
“Well, neither would I want to have a camel at my place of work – and a negative one, as it is!”
“Karma, Dodo, the word is karma. That means something like having a bad aura…” Flecki remarked.
“Like Goldi when he’s eaten too much?”
“That”, Flecki grinned, looking at the still chewing Goldi, “are just bad manners. He’s got lots of them!”
Next day the ‘Hamstian Daily’ at least came out but only in limited edition as all Hamsterton shops kept close. By and by the repair team members arrived to continue their strike at their place of work.
“Slept well, Trample?” Botchy barked and pointed at the town hall clock.
“Not my fault”, Trample whimpered, “my alarm clock doesn’t work without power.”
With a grunt the chief returned to the ‘Daily’. “Aha”, he remarked, “confused seal discovered in village pond! Downtown riots – is HAMPO hand in glove with thieves? Stinking to heaven: Hamsterton without hot water…”
“Confirmed by certain chiefs…”
“Who said that?!” Botchy shouted, throwing the newspaper to the ground. “Why should I wash if I’ll get dirty again at work?”
No one answered and with a snort he took up the paper again. “Dowdy Buzzer, new planning manager for the ‘First Hamstian Exhibition’, has taken up her work as acting director of Hamsterton’s main office. She appeals to all striking parties to approach and embrace one another…”
“Doesn’t sound that bad”, Taty cried, approaching Tealeafy. “Come and embrace me!” Both hamsters cackled joyfully while Botchy read on: “As the mayor said in yesterday’s interview with our newspaper, he expects the strike to end soon. For the duration of the strike however experts have been employed to keep up order, supplies, and the continuation of the Hamstian Exhibition Schedule.”
“Right swell”, Flecki hissed. “He’ll get a nasty surprise!”
“Only experts can manage that”, the chief bawled, “he can’t take some dummies there!”
“Right!” Goldi now said. “No one can do it like we do it. If it bangs, there has to be a real bang and not only a pretty sight.”
“My idea”, Dodo now piped up. “Prettiness is only on the surface, but ugliness goes to the bones.”
“Well, some time you’ve got to explain that to me, Dodo”, Emmy said and shook her head in bewilderment.
“Oh, Dodo is always good for some rubbish”, Tealeafy cackled. “D’you remember when Finny gave him the jigsaw for his birthday? Half a year later Dodo visited Finny and proudly told her that he finished it. ‘Already?’ Finny had asked with a grin and Dodo right proudly held up the box saying ‘2 – 14 years’. ‘Indeed’, Dodo confirmed, ‘and I had so many years ahead to finish the jigsaw’.”
“Yes, really great, Dodo, you’re quite an example”, Taty cackled and got a kick from Flecki.
“Chaps, we’ll take a look”, the chief decided and rose. By and by they all rose, grumbling, and followed Botchy who approached the town hall with quick steps.
“Where is the mayor, that mental amoebae?” he barked at the porter who was standing in front of the entrance.
“I’m only temporary, I know nothing, Sir…”, that worthy replied, bewildered.
“Why did that Conk split, or don’t you know that either, you porter dummy?”
“Conk? I don’t know about conks. As I said, I’m only temporary, I know nothing, Sir.”
“And where”, the chief snorted, “is that Bossy bird?”
“Buzzer, you mean, Sir? I do not know because…”
“…because you’re only temporary and know nothing anyway, you buffoon!” chief Botchy roared and pushed the temporary porter aside.
“Eh, Sir, you are not permitted to enter, Miss Buzzer said…”
“Shut up, soup hen, you know nothing, right? The one thing you know is that you know nothing!”
“Sir”, the temporary porter wailed, “you emit negative energy, Miss Buzzer said, I shall not let you enter!”
“I emit what?” the chief bawled and began to push the poor porter about. “I’m right peaceful, you’ve no idea, dogsbody porter, and if you say that again, I’ll nail you to the door, see?”
“Sir”, the porter cried, pointing at his coat, “with your unclean hands you dirtied me! Look here, a smudge!”
“I’m so very sorry”, Botchy snorted and turned to Dodo. “Dodo, will you please pat off the smudge from this gentleman?”
A minute later the hamster troop marched into the town hall while the temporary porter was lying numbly beside the entrance door. Up the stairs and they were in front of the mayor’s office entrance.
“Dodo, what does that sign say?”
“Knock and enter, Chief!”
“Fine”, chief Botchy purred. “So will you please knock down the door so that we can enter, my dear Dodo?”
The big hamster uncertainly looked around to Goldi who nodded with a grin. A moment later the hamsters were inside the mayor’s office.
“Now where is that chap?” Flecki wondered, cleaning her fur of some splinters which had been created when entering the office.
“Sh! Be quiet”, Finny whispered. “I think I can hear something!”
Spellbound, the group listened and indeed there were curious noises penetrating from between the yucca and the hibiscus. With a jump Taty and Tealeafy vanished between the leaves and a moment later their friends heard their cackle: “Mr. Mayor is taking his nap amidst nature – very ecology-minded today.”
“Dodo”, the chief grumped, “please be kind enough to help the mayor out of there!”
“I – I – ha ha – must have fallen asleep and so to say by mistake fallen into the dingus-plants”, the mayor stammered and rose from the floor with a groan. After a short flight from the office-plants and a hard landing in the middle of the room he rubbed his aching bum. “Moreover in a way it’s good for the dingus – er – camel. Erm, or was it the caramel?”
“Karma, you dummy”, the chief barked and put his small fists to his broad hips. “And now explain your ideas to us. Who is to build up the First Hamstian Exhibition, he?”
“Erm, well, yes, as to that, my dear thief, er… the organ dissector – er – the organization director Dowdy Buzzer is in charge. She schedules so to say the turks – the larks. Ahum, the tasks, to be exact.”
“I’ll lark you a turk, you madman! Since when can every dabbler do what he or she likes?”
“Now, now, my dear Mr. Notchy – er – Blotchy”, the mayor stammered a took a step back. “We should give a chance to the young amorous – ahem – aggressive, what I mean, ambitious lady…”
“That’s enough! Dodo, Mr. Mayor has got some potting soil on his fur, please pat him clean!”
While the next moment the mayor was sailing through the office, the before mentioned organizational director entered.
“Oh!” she cried in surprise, lifting her short paws. “Mr. Botcher, if I remember correctly…?”
“Botchy”, the so addressed grunted. “And you are that karma-bird, aren’t ye?”
“Well”, Dowdy replied, re-arranging her violet bow, “karma-counsellor would be more fitting but we should discuss this in detail, Mr. Botchy. One or better several spiritual sitting will establish your inner balance and your karma-powers…”
“I am in balance and what do you know about power? Ever cabled a series connection under high voltage?”
“Series connection? High voltage?” Dowdy retorted, much surprised.
“Yes, at the power station”, Tuffy remarked. “Unfortunately he switched on power too early but after a fur transplantation and a few weeks in hospital the chief was just like before and…”
“Another word and I’ll make one or better several spiritual sitting which will establish your inner balance and your damned karma-powers…”
“No, Mr. Botchy”, the organizational director and karma-counsellor remarked, “no power of that sort! We are talking about creative power, dear chief, to learn how to reflect the interior. You must not direct your negative powers inward, direct them to the outward!”
For a moment the chief stood there, undecided, but then he had a go at the hibiscus and with a well aimed kick made it smash at the wall. “Like this?”
“Mr. Botchy!” Dody cried, once more arranging her bow. “I have to ask you to beg pardon to the defenceless plant, you made a chaos of her karma!”
“Me, too, I can’t help but criticize you”, the mayor now intervened. “Our Veganian friend may have been badly hurt and the wellbeing of the universe so to say might be a brick – er – at risk and, erm…”
“That was in the last story, didn’t you get that, you karma-camel?”
“Now, now, chief”, Dowdy tried to calm him after picking up her coming off bow with a curse, “Mr. Mayor is a little overworked…”
“From garden work”, Goldi grinned. “His snoring between the vegetable could not be missed.”
The karma-counsellor now turned to Goldi. “Well, plants take care of the inner balance. One has to talk to them…”
“So I do”, Goldi nodded, “every time before frying them.”
“Well – er – Goldi, this is about mental wellbeing, not about eating.”
“If I don’t get enough to eat, I do feel mentally unwell and my karma is hungry, and if my inner balance does not at once get some Beefburger, the negative power is reflecting my stomach…”
“Don’t confront yourself with the negative powers of your stomach, Goldi, but influence the hunger with the fortified powers of your karma.”
Goldi nodded and looked at Dowdy. “I did try. After an hour my karma failed and I collapsed mentally…”
“Wow”, Flecki mocked, “a full hour? What a super-hamster!”
“Ha!” Goldi cried. “I at least do not collapse mentally when passing a fashion shop!”
“What do you mean by that, you munchy-fur?!”
“Silence, chaps, or I’ll straighten your karma, see?” the chief shouted who by and by got quite shirted. “So what about the scheduling of the First Hamstian Exhibition now?”
“Mr. Botchy, just leave that to me”, Dowdy Buzzer resolutely replied. “Hamsterton will see a spiritual event like never before, the karma of this event will flood the town…”
“Something will be flooding me, too, and soon! Come on, chaps, let’s go!”
“That dress”, Flecki groaned when the hamster troop was on their way back, “right awful! The flowered dress is completely out. The violet bow over her left ear is much too big and the red sandals just don’t go with that dress…”
“Such a bow I’d like to have for my karma”, Dodo said and after a moment added: “And what shall we do now?”
The following days brought Hamsterton events like they never had seen before. Dowdy Buzzer had indeed succeeded to lure the Hamstian police, fire brigade, everyone else back to work as a passage in the Hamstian constitution said that strikes without negotiations were not to last beyond one week. As negotiations were directed by Dowdy and the mayor, the strikers after a short time gave up, unnerved, and took up their work again grumpily and reluctant. Thieves and dark figures still had an easy game and also the traffic broke down regularly by accidents. There were reports how the traffic hamsters directed the traffic hither and thither now and then but in between left the traffic to the traffic to take breaks.
Civil Service was simply overstrained. The required compliance of mental karma was occupying the new employees so much that they no longer had the time to do their jobs. Applications were piling up, complaints were not answered.
Complaints and charges with HAMPO were futile. The acting director of the supreme Hamsterton office had given out several regulations on Preparing and Fostering of the Inner Karma for Appropriate Mental Maintenance to the Inhabitants of Hamsterton. Accordingly the officers were either busy refurnishing their offices or were simply fostering their inner karma, as Trample found out.
“I’ve been to the police station to complain”, he told his friends while they watched how Dowdy Buzzer’s aids started their first attempt to erect the large tent for the Hamstian Exhibition.
“Well?” the officer on duty yawned and slowly took his hind paws from the desk.
“I’m to pay 500 sickles parking tax and I have no money”, I lamented.
“Why?” the officer asked, leafing through some glossy in a bored fashion.
“Well, it was like this”, I told him. “I had taken a look at some second-hand cars and stopped in front of a dented Porsche. The car had had an accident recently and really looked bad – but a Porsche after all!”
“Porsche, I see”, the officer yawned, putting aside the magazine and unwrapping his breakfast. “Shouldn’t say no to one. Go on.”
“Well, I’m standing there dreaming when suddenly the owner of the company is at my side, addressing me”, I sobbed.
“You may have the car, I can see how much you like it, my friend!”
“But I have no money…”
“But I have a heart of gold, my hamster friend. The car is yours. Be happy with it!”
“Oh, thank you, thanks a lot!” I cried and happily looked at the sport’s car which was mine now.
The dealer slowly walked back to his shop but suddenly he turned round and shouted: “And now see that you get that wreck of my premises. If in another hour that junk is on my yard still, I’ll get the police!”
“We have a charge against you indeed, Mr. Trample…”
“Shit happens”, Botchy grinned, watching how one stay rope came lose and a hamster sailed through the air.
“Yes”, Trample nodded, “so I went to the civil office to get legal aid.”
“They’re just too daft”, Goldi laughed while three hamsters were buried under a side part.
“So they are”, Trample grumped, “but they all were busy re-arranging their pot flowers…”
“Wow, right freaky!” Taty and Tealeafy cheered when the main tent broke away and disappeared in the distance.
“Yes, indeed”, Trample nodded, “they even talked to the silly plants!”
“Dabblers!” chief Botchy grunted. “Well now, Trample, tell us, what did the police officer say?”
“Trample?” Flecki cried. “Why do you bang your head at the ground?”
“Looking for his karma probably”, Dodo wondered. “Oh, look at, the wind has turned and carries back the tent!”
“They’ve been right lucky”, Botchy remarked when the wind carried the tent back to the site where it brushed down the complete scaffold with a deafening clatter and the temp hamsters, shrieking, tried to seek shelter. “Such a tent is really expensive!”
With some interest the hamster troop watched the first ambulances approaching with sirens and flashing lights to safe the karma of Dowdy Buzzer’s assistants.
“What are the odds they chose the wrong screws”, Goldi mocked, giving Botchy a side glance and he retorted at once:
“Screws? Ha! That’s nothing but simple plug connections with a 5 ½ safety clamp, I’d mount that for you within half an hour.”
“Look, the tent got caught at the ambulance…”, Tuffy shouted.
Merrily, the repair troop watched how the ambulance started towards the Hamsterton hospital, dragging the huge main tent behind. Clattering, it collected parts of the scaffold, tools, and two remaining assistant hamsters. Now the ambulance sped along the Hamsterton traffic with the tent and its contents in tow. Two minutes later the show was over and the place where the building works for the Hamstian Exhibition had been standing was clean like swept.
“A good karma needs clean surroundings”, Flecki stated. “They made a nice job of it.”
“I’m thrilled to know what sorts of things they clear away if they get to the main street”, Goldi grinned. “It’s rush hour right now.”
“Well, certainly for some it will be a little painful but everyone should be willing to make small sacrifices for traffic calming”, Tealeafy jeered; Taty cheerfully clapped his hands, shouting:
“And that will make any number of parking spaces!”
The repair hamsters all nodded and watched how the acting director of the Supreme Hamstian Office came storming out of the town hall and now stood on an empty space where moments before had been a building site. She turned to a policeman who just wanted to board his car after he had taken down some notes on the recent accident. Dowdy Buzzer seemed to be dissatisfied with something and the repair troop listened, spellbound. Dowdy shouted something about the “symmetry of matters” and worked at the rear mirrors of his car. For some time she turned the mirrors to and fro until both rear mirrors had the same angle. “45 degree, that’s the magical number of symmetry”, her voice rang out. Then the police care started. When turning into the main street, there was a clatter, brakes shrieked, wheels squeaked, and there was more clatter.
“Seems the driver has not seen the traffic behind him”, Hamstilidamst gasped.
“Wrongly adjusted rear mirrors often are the cause for accidents”, Goldi grinned.
“We should go on holiday, people”, Flecki mused, “as far away as possible.”
At the same time the mayor had a visitor he first was not keen on and second for not prepared for because just now he was trying to arrange all the pictures and plants in his office symmetrically or at least in an angle of 45 degree. Unfortunately the hibiscus had just tumbled over when a smartly clad hamster entered, introducing himself as the agent of Hamsterjello the singer.
“Oh, am I inconvenient, Mr. Mayor? I do not wish to interrupt your decoration work but the matter is pressing.”
“Erm, no, you’re in – er – I mean convenient. What sort of press is it?”
“Well, Mr. Mayor, an accident happened to my client – Mr. Hamsterjello during the announcement of the First Hamstian Exhibition. You certainly know that he had to be taken to the hospital and this…” The agent paused meaningfully. “Well, in consequence Mr. Hamsterjello had to call off several concerts and now the event managers require their money back.”
“Well, erm, yes, I was told something in that line…”
“Mr. Mayor, you have been standing right close to the events!”
“Yes, of course. I so to say remember. But be asdingus – er – sured that Hamsterton will not ask him for money. We are in a way very happy that Mr. Jelly expires in one of our fine hospitals, that is that he lingers there.”
“Hamsterjello is the name, Mr. Mayor, and neither my client nor I are very happy that he lingers in a hospital! Who is to pay the cancelled concerts?” he became more direct.
“Erm, well, who is to pay?” the mayor wondered. “Perhaps you go and ask Miss Fuzzy – er – Buzzer, the so to say responsible person here. By the by, who is that Mr. Client you were talking about?”
The agent had hardly left the mayor’s office with a disgusted expression, when there was another knock and a most elegant looking hamster lady entered, carefully avoided the remnants of the hibiscus and presented herself as agent of the singer Agnelia of Hamsterjelly. Followed a long debate which was interrupted by phone calls of his niece who wanted to know from her mayor-uncle who in the town hall was responsible for the payment of larger sums. After the visitor had been sent to the acting director as well, there was another knock at the mayor’s door and so on and so on. Lots of people claimed damages and in the evening it penetrated that Hamsterton was bankrupt. Once again.
Consequently, Hamsterton could no longer pay their many employees. Next day the dustmen were on strike, followed by the transport services. After the mayor failed greatly, Dowdy Buzzer became the spokes-hamster to explain to dustmen and traffic folks why they should not strike. Also the negotiations with the acting director came to nothing because the dustmen did not want to have anything to do with karma. Neither did the traffic services. By and by all other Hamsterton offices joined them.
Only in the town hall there was quite a bustle. Even the mayor tried – by phoning – to save what might be saved. However, after also the telephone company of Hamsterton joined the strike due to wages missing, there was nothing to phone any longer and so the mayor waddled from one employee to the next without gaining anything. In an emergency meeting he called, they decided to set a sign at once and continue the erection of the First Hamstian Exhibition.
“Now tell me this”, wondered Goldi next morning when the repair troop continued their strike on the market place, “did they not get enough? What are they doing there?”
“If you ask me, I’d say they continue the building works”, Hamstilidamst retorted, surprised.
“Dabblers”, the chief gnarled. “And seeing that the mayor is in it, they certainly are poor off.”
“Swell!” Goldi cried, unwrapping his sandwich. “Now we’ll get sheer disaster!”
The hamsters made themselves as comfortable as possible and joyfully watched how Dumb and Ass, the temporaries, were buried under a collapsing scaffold, causing the acting director for the First Hamstian Exhibition to get a tantrum and accusing them of missing mental basic attitude.
“They forgot to fix the side riders”, chief Botchy jubilated. “Typical greenhorn mistake!”
“O yes, our chief knows all the typical greenhorn mistakes”, came a voice but Botchy seemed to not listen because his attention now was on the mayor who vanished in a pit, shrieking.
“Well, keeping up this speed, that will be the last Hamstian Exhibtion”, Flecki remarked and watched with fascination how Dowdy Buzzer tried to escape a crashing down poster.
After another hour that matter was done with and much to the regret of the repair troop the works were finished. Only the mayor was still at the site after climbing out of the pit with many difficulties.
“We should help them!” Flecki ejaculated and they all looked at her thunderstruck.
“Why should we?” Goldi asked. “They get along well enough without us…”
“She is right”, Emmy and Dasy chorused.
“Aren’t they our friends and brothers and sisters – o well, rather brothers and sisters – but if we don’t do anything, there will be no Hamsterton left.”
This was the moment the mayor came stumbling by. On his way to the town hall he had to pass the repair troop closely.
“All right”, chief Botchy grumbled, getting up. “But only because Hamsterton is at stake.”
Slowly the mayor staggered on. Chief Botchy had risen and walked towards him equally slowly.
“Well?” the repair hamsters heard him side rider kept up for quite some time!”
“Didn’t it?” the mayor grinned. “Also the pit is first rate, I infected it in person – er – inspected it.”
calling. “How are matters going?”
“Erm, so to say splendid”, came the tortured reply, “quite outstanding!”
“So we could see”, the chief said approvingly, “that
“Now let’s talk business. How long are you going to continue with that mess?” Botchy faced the mayor and grabbed his neck. “The town is down the drain, you may well forget the First Hamstian Exhibition. That karma-bird makes mental minced meat of us.”
The so addressed smiled once more in a tortured fashion and shrugged. “Super-hamster perhaps…”
“…can’t conjure money.” The chief pushed the unhappy people’s representative towards his troop. There they sat down.
“I – erm – expect your proposals”, the mayor whispered and gaped at the floor.
“Yes”, Tealeafy cackled, “if you help a friend in need, he will remember you, if he’s in need again.”
“I – erm – in a way acted with a little levity…”
“Oh, no more than at other times”, Taty purred.
“We have boasted – er – are toasted so to say, broke in a way… no one. That is, no one can rescue us…”. the mayor sobbed.
“Fat broke”, Flecki confirmed.
“Reminds me of a joke”, Goldi piped up. “That is, the judge says to the accused: ‘I find you not guilty of the charge of having stolen 10,000 sickle.’ – ‘Great’, says the accused. ‘So may I keep the money now?’”
“How about some constructive feedback, Goldi?” Finny nagged. “You’ve got no way of being of any help.”
“Ey, I just try to spread some jolly karma”, Goldi objected. “What about this one: It’s blue and hops from branch to branch? A post-frog – ha ha ha!”
“Ha”, Flecki retorted in a dry voice.
“But that can’t be”, Dodo wondered. “The post is on strike…”
“Thanks for this valuable contribution, Dodo”, the chief grumped. “So it’s up to me again to bring in useful proposals. Well, Mayor, first of all there’s question of booth: row booth, corner booth, block booth? Size, type of booth, that is information booth or sales booth. How many? Then the type of construction: Wood, metal, mixed? Especially important: the concept. Open, roofed? And seats – how many and what kind? What about conference booth, kitchen, bar? This, dear hamsters and honoured Mr. Mayor, are the items to be clarified. That’s the way a real pro works.”
“I think the mayor wants to know how to get money. As, if there is no money, there can’t be an exhibition. If there is no exhibition, we need not worry our heads about row booth, corner booth, block booth and so on. Because we cannot buy the material. However, in all other regards it was a really beautiful speech, Boss!”
Everybody mumbled agreement and nodded his head while the chief coloured fiercely. He did not say anything, but whistled and took up some wooden pillars lying about. After finding 10 or 12 nice pillars, he disappeared, still whistling, behind a heap of debris. After that only roaring and splintering of wood could be heard.
Taty nudged his brother Tealeafy. “I think he’s just producing toothpicks for the open round bar in the roofed part of the block booth.”
“I have several old garden chairs…”, Dodo proposed but the mayor waved that aside. “Thanks, Voodoo – er – Dodo, but without money…”
“What are we paying taxes for?” Trample piped up.
“All used up”, the mayor groaned, “the VIPs’ claims for cancellation – erm – compensation…”
“We might sell Tuffy on the slave market”, Botchy grumped, emerging from behind the debris, “that would be a nice start.”
He patted some splinters off his fur and sat down beside the mayor, who buried his head in his paws. Somewhere in the background shrill shrieks came from the town hall. Probably the acting director spread spiritual karma.
“The worst is”, groaned the mayor, “that my niece is completely cracking up. We are done.”
“So throw that karma-bird out”, Goldi proposed.
“She’s got a contract and can only be fired if there is someone to replace her…”
“Great”, Sasy shouted, “and who may replace her?”
“I know of no one in Hamsterton – chief officer Topple perhaps?”
The mayor shook his head. “He’s one of the examination board and members of the dart – er – board cannot be active in the town hall. Conk perhaps, but he can nothing but count, has no idea about yearning – er – earning money.”
“So someone not living in Hamsterton”, Flecki wondered. “Whom do we know there?”
“The Plushum”, Dodo shouted, “can do everything!”
“And Captain Kirk”, Taty and Tealeafy bawled, “and Spock!” They almost toppled over with laughter.
“Swell, you clown, go on like that”, chief Botchy gnarled und reddened again.
Now silence fell. Even the last hamster comprehended that the situation was critical. Followed more serious proposals like raising the taxes or making a tombola. But this was refused soon. Even the idea to recruit someone from the neighbouring hamster counties was no further discussed because it was much too depressing to sink that low. They agreed that it had to be someone not of Hamsterton, knowing about crises and organization. But who?
“Got it!” Flecki suddenly cried and at once all hamster heads came round and all eyes were on her. “Now I know who can help us!” she cheered.
“The Klingon hamsters?”
“Shut up, Dodo”, Botchy hissed and tried to kick the big hamster but kicked Trample instead who squeaked.
“Nope, not them”, Flecki grinned. “But one helping Captain Kirk and BANTACH can also help us!”
“Daby!” the hamsters shouted like one.
“Exactly”, Flecki triumphantly said, “Daby. But where might she be?”
“Well, my bother – er – brother mentioned that she has the management of some branch of a certain Bull of Pool…”
“Ullapool!” Flecki hissed. “She is in Ullapool…”
“So Mr. Mayor only has to ask his brother…”, Tuffy said excitedly.
All eyes were on the mayor now who obviously felt quite unwell. “Well, erm… Unfortunately he was transferred. Down the line so to say…”
“So they sidelined the fool”, Goldi grinned. “Well, the phones don’t work anyway…”
Silence. Fresh discussions. Another ship’s voyage was out of question. First it would take much too long, second it was most unlikely that they would be as lucky as on their last journey. After three hours of pondering and discussion they all were at one that some plan had to be worked out urgently as the mayor stressed again and again. From the town hall still shrieking sounds of the acting director could be heard, now and then pot flowers came flying out of the window.
“The gerbil-space ship!” Goldi suddenly shouted.
“Yes, that wouldn’t be bad, Kirk and his troop would be better still. We would be in Scotland in a trice. But we already ticked off that item, Goldi!”
“I know, chief. But you don’t know that Kirk did not want ‘that scrap’, as he called it, on his ship. Therefore that Scotty was to beam the gerbil-space ship down to Hamsterton.”
“That Scotty wasn’t bad at all”, Botchy remembered, “I could have made good use of him…”
“Tell me, Goldi”, Flecki wondered, “how would you know that? As far as I know the gerbil-ship was still on board the Enterprise when we were beamed home.”
“O well”, Goldi stuttered, “I just took along a few souvenirs…”
“O yes”, Flecki hissed, “the phaser for Trample’s new haircut. And what else?”
“Only a tiny transmitter…”
“The one I had in the Jeffreys-tube?”
“Well, I thought you didn’t need it any longer… So I switched it on and listened a bit. Just wanting to know if them folks were all right. Sometime they were out of reach…”
“Good to know that you always can rely on our Goldi as to nicking and munching”, Flecki groaned. “But were may the gerbil ship have landed? Out of town certainly or we would have found it or read about it in the newspaper.”
“I think I know where it is!”
They all turned round to Dodo.
Normal 0 21
The Gerbil-Space Ship
“Where?” all the hamsters shouted at once.
It was embarrassing to the big hamster to be in the middle of interest all of a sudden.
“I think”, he said in a low voice, “I spent the night there.”
“In the gerbil ship? You spent a night in the gerbil-space ship, Dodo? Where?”
Dodo squinted at Hamstilidamst. “Well, recently, when I was a seal. In the village pond.”
“So the thing sunk. All right, people, as soon as it’s dark, we’ll recover the space ship. We’ll borrow a crane from this site. Then we take the ship here and get it restarted. At dawn we’ll be gone. All right, Mayor?”
“Erm, I so to say have a request. May I for one last time be the cormorant – er – what I mean is commander. I – erm – promise not to say anything but I so wish to shit – er – er – to sit on the captain’s chair once more. Of course – erm – we may dote, that is vote…”
Tearfully the mayor looked around and the chief nodded his agreement to the voting. Slips of paper were given out to all hamsters and a few minutes later Flecki informed about the result:
Void: 1 – as the statement: ‘I want to be back in the pond’ was quite off-key as Flecki stated.
Because Finny and Emmy only were trainees, they were not permitted to vote. Chief Botchy ordered them to take care of the building site and ‘start a bit of cleaning’. As matter of fact Trample sighed deeply at this moment, absolutely glad that something like trainees exited.
Now preparations had to start, this meaning first of all taking along supplies and the most necessary items. It took some time until Goldi understood that 3 trunks with food were a wee bit too much and much too much of weight for the small gerbil-space ship. At dusk the hamster troop set out for the pond. Tuffy drove ahead with a small ambulance, the rest trudged after her. They were in good spirits, only the mayor went on their nerves by his permanent babble of ‘being happy and – erm – honoured’ to have been elected with one voice. All the time he glared up to the evening sky, drivelling about ‘deep space’. Flecki’s hint that it was not very probable that they were going to visit space on their way to Ullapool he answered with a stupid grin. Only after crossing the building site and falling into several pits he calmed down a little and to the general relief kept his mouth shut for a while.
Recovering the small space ship showed to be a little difficult as at the first try the crane with Tuffy slipped from the water’s edge and landed in the pond. After some discussion another crane had to be fetched, to be controlled by Goldi. Flecki and chief Botchy had quite a tantrum after Goldi had made down eight lamp posts because he, as he phrased it, ‘wanted to train a little’. When also this crane ended in the pond, the operation seemed to have failed. About midnight it was decided to send in a frogman. The chief really succeeded to find several old diver suits in the tool room. After a check they discovered that only the smallest one could be used. After another, shorter check they found that this suit would only fit a small hamster, i.e. Trample. So no vote was needed and poor Trample was thrown into the pond with a swing so that he got the necessary diving depth – as Goldi stressed.
After several dives Trample found that the space ship had landed on the fountain and its nose was stuck deep in the mud.
“I see, that’s why the fountain did no longer work”, chief Botchy marvelled. Months ago the city gardeners had given him the order to repair the fountain after all of a sudden it had stopped working or, to be exact, had vanished. So now it was clear that the space ship was lying on the fountain and pressed it down to the bottom of the pond. After Trample had helped Tuffy and Goldi ashore, his job was done and chief Botchy immediately knew what to do.
“Tuffy, turn up to water supply for the fountain, full power!”
Some time later bubbles could be made out in the middle of the pond and about an hour later the gerbil-space ship slowly emerged to the surface.
“Tuffy, turn the water back to normal. Is the order of the city gardeners somewhere about? Yes? Fine, so we can send them a steep invoice and they might as well pay for the recovery of two cranes.”
As the cranes were not at disposal, a truck was needed to recover the space ship. This time chief Botchy in person took the wheel, not surrendering to the plead of the mayor to let him have the passenger seat. At first all went well, the chief dragged the ship slowly towards the neighbouring green. Unfortunately nobody informed him that there was a rail around the pond and when the ship got stuck at the rail, it happened. When the job was almost finished, suddenly it did not go on although the chief at first accelerated cautiously. Tuffy’s desperate shouts about some rail being in the way, the chief could not hear in the driver’s cabin and so the hamsters had to watch helplessly how chief Botchy under roars of fury put in the highest gear and hit the pedal to the metal. There was a loud, ugly sound, a big clatter and the truck’s motor died down. Cursing, the chief scrambled out of the destructed driver’s cabin and together with his repair team took a look at the damage. Like a catapult the space ship had shot onto the truck from behind. Luckily the ship was not damaged, the truck however was a clear write-off.
“Tuffy, put the truck on the invoice. It’s been damaged during recovering the cranes.”
Checking the space ship, they found that it was in good order and a few things only had to be clarified before the start, first of all the length of the runway. Would the distance down the allotments and the recreation park behind them be long enough? Chief Botchy admitted that he was not keen on ploughing down the new soccer stadium of SC Hamsterton. He had after all participated in the building and rather liked the beautiful stadium. Next item was the navigation of the ship. The majority of the hamsters would have refused to enter the ship in case Goldi took the navigation. Goldi’s alternative proposal to take over the weapons again was also rejected, pointing out the peaceful character of their mission. As Flecki refused to touch any navigation unit contaminated by gerbil paws, there was no one but chief Botchy to steer the ship and of course first of all to start it.
“And how will we get there?” Flecki put a legitimate question. “Does anyone know the way? And don’t tell me anything about Hamstilidamst and his Scottish ancestors – or I’ll start crowing!”
“You do so anyway”, Goldi grumbled and immediately was asked if he was any better in knowing how to reach Scotland.
“Easy”, he retorted. “Map and compass.”
“Wonderful, so to say excellent”, the mayor cheered. “Go let so – er – so let’s go!”
Cheering, the hamster troop went on board. The next moment they were inside the ship and looked about them. There was a little light from the street lamp so that the few controls and switches on the tiny bridge could be made out easily.
“Dodo”, Taty shouted, “say something!”
The big hamster looked around, looked at Taty and back to the bridge. “And now? What shall we do now?”
“Swell, that’s what we’ve been waiting for!” Tealeafy cried and nudged his brother.
The chief eyed the switches, tapped here and there, craned his neck and for several minutes studied the instruments.
“Any idea, dear Mr. Botchy?”
“Well, my dear Mayor, the real pro checks alien techniques well before making quick and false judgements. Only a raw greenhorn would jump to conclusions.”
Two hours later some disquiet came up when Botchy was still knocking at the controls and switches, somewhat louder by now. Even in the dim light of the street lamp everyone could see that by now his head has the colour of a very ripe tomato.
“Well, erm, Mister…”
“How am I to concentrate with all that gibberish?” he interrupted the mayor who after hours wanted to put the one important question. “How am I to analyze alien technology if all the time someone is babbling to me?” Furiously, he kicked the wall of the space ship and banged his little fist on one of the units. The board lights went on with a flicker and the chief jumped back.
“Three cheers to our chief!” Tuffy shouted and the other hamsters laughingly agreed.
“All right”, the chief bawled and put his much too small paws to his much too fat hips. His self-confidence was back and with legs apart he placed himself in front of the main panel – or what he thought to be the main panel. “Let’s proceed with logic and analytical”, he shouted, looking at the inscription on the instruments. “’Forward’ could well mean that the ships moves into bow direction, the reverse would be ‘Backwards’. ‘Left’ and ‘Right’ would indicate the navigation direction as well as ‘Up’ and ‘Down’… Well, ‘Start’? Well, I’ll test that one.”
A trembling paw moved towards the lever with the inscription ‘Start’ but before he could push it, Flecki was at his side, holding back his paw. He looked at her with big eyes and Flecki purred:
“How about to pro first using the ‘Close door’-button so that we do not lose half the crew on our way?”
Some hamsters cackled while the chief did as bidden. “A little rusty”, Botchy grumped and once more looked round to this troop. He obviously did not feel very well and wondered to let someone take his place.
“Well, shall we start now?” Goldi asked, yawning.
“You see he’s yellow…”
“I’m what?” Botchy roared, turning round. “Who said that – confess! Me an’ yellow! You’ve no idea, I’m doing that all day long. Hold fast, you softies, I’ll show you!”
With a very read head and much infuriated, the chief pushed the lever. He did not push it cautiously but down to the stop. The engines reacted at once. “See, tha-a-a-a-a…..”
The shear force made his words stuck in his throat and pressed him – and the rest of the troop – to the back wall of the bridge. From here the hamsters had a first rate view on what was happening on their course. As matter of fact the gerbil-ship accelerated – very much so – and could not be stopped by irrelevant things like fences and park benches – neither by trees. So the travel group quickly crossed the small park and approached the Hamstian allotments. The outer fence was soon conquered and so was the club house. Spellbound, the hamsters watched how an allotment garden with house was ploughed down. Just when the space ship crossed another of these charming little houses, Trample recognized his new furniture which he had bought one week ago and with much love had furnished his allotment with them.
On they raced through several freshly planted hedges and over the club-flag to the recreation park. The new pavilion, opened a few weeks ago by the mayor with many ceremonial words, disappeared with a loud, ugly sound, same as the freshly planted plants. On they went down a recreation green, several chestnut trees and a number of hedges. At this time the whimpering of the mayor could not be neglected any longer and also the chief realized that it was time for him to take action.
“Bit much power, isn’t it?” Flecki shouted at Goldi how raptly watched through the bow window how the racing ship approached non-braked the large parking lot in front of the new soccer stadium of the SC Hamsterton. The gatehouse was no opponent for the space ship, neither the first row of parking cars which clever Hamsterton people had left here to save the city’s parking charges. Soon the large entrance to the stadium was down, only the grandstand damped the speed a little and a pained “NO!” rang out from the back-wall of the ship’s bridge. The next moment the chief desperately scrambled against the centrifugal force and with his last grain of strength pushed up the lever inscripted “Up”. Followed a lot of rattling, accompanied by the howling of a certain chief who had to watch how row after row of seats disappeared which he had mounted in many long hours and with many exaggerated invoices. As show-down the giant flood-light mast was cut in halves – then the gerbil-ship was in the air.
“Are we in space now?”
No one answered Dodo. They all were exhausted and mighty glad to be still alive. By now the mayor was sitting in the commander’s seat, patting the chief who was lying beside him, sobbing and drumming his fists at the floor of the bridge.