Chapter 1

Hamster Market in Hamsterton

 

A warm spring day in Hamsterton. The inhabitants of the little town more or less did their jobs and as an exception everything was quite peaceful. Most of the roads were deserted because on Town Hall Square a market was held. The mayor was there in person and scampered from one stand to the next. He either chatted with the sellers in a friendly way or fumbled the wares curiously and was slapped on his paws now and then. In front of a stand which had written on it "Flecki's and Sasy's Victuals market" the mayor stopped and looked.

"What's that?" he asked with a friendly smile. "Is it edible?"

Flecki goggled at him.

"That's embroidery and knitting ware. Today we also have some nice tinsel-knots which look pretty in the living room. Five sickles only!"

The mayor gave them an embarrassed smile, turned away and walked over to a stand with a sign saying "Trample's Munching Booth" to strengthen himself a little.

"Toidi1!" Flecki grumbled and her sister Sasy nodded in agreement.

The mayor did not listen and looked unconcerned and bit into a juicy hamburger after he had given Trample ten sickles for it.

"Absolutely unhealthy food", Flecki bawled and pointed to the mayor. "I would be ashamed of such a paunch!"

Not aware of this discussion, Goldi passed the stand at this moment and curiously looked at the tinsel-knots.

"And it's the same with you!" he heard Flecki shouting and looked at her flabbergasted.

"The same what?" Goldi asked and took the tinsel-knots.

There was a loud slap when Flecki's hand hit Goldi's hand.

"Hands off!" Flecki shouted. "You pay first. Then you may for my sake fumble and knacker the knots."

"How much is that tinsel-stuff?" Goldi asked and took an embroidered teacloth in his paw.

"Eight sickles out of friendship", Flecki replied and tore the embroidered cloth from his paw. "But what would you do with tinsel?"

"We-ell", Goldi said, embarrassed. "You can make swell balls of them and use at canon balls. They make quite some distance."

“You, you, you…”, Flecki was about the jump over the counter and lunge at Goldi. “Out! Piss off!”

“But I am outside and…”

When Flecki started to scramble over the counter, Goldi saw that he was off.

Men!” Flecki snarled. “Always hanging around and thinking of nothing but munching. Look about you, Sasy! All around us munching stands and nothing else! And that’s a hamster market?”

Well, for some hours they’ve been trying to build up the big wheel”, Sasy replied and pointed at the group of repair hamsters who under the guidance of chief engineer Botchy tried to push the big wheel into the anchoring.

The big wheel was the only attraction the annual hamster market had to offer. Or to be exact: would have been if anybody had succeeded to mount it. After the Hamster Technical Control Company had authorized the project, for several days now the Hamstian Fire Brigade, Hamstian Police and Engineering under the guidance of chief engineer Botchy were busy mounting the big wheel in the centre of the market place. After many unsuccessful attempts the hamsters had the idea to try it with a big crane. Unfortunately half of the market stands had to be dismounted so that a crane could be brought in. It took hours until HMAFI1 and HAMPO2 could calm down the furious stand-owners. After numerous injuries the crane now was standing close to the big wheel which still was lying flat beside the big anchoring. While all around the building site the stands were remounted hectically, the leader of the building office, that was Topple, measured the minimum distance with a measuring tape.

“All stands are within the necessary distance of 3.50 metres unfortunately. All stands have to be moved back for at least one metre!”

As all stands were close together this was not easy to accomplish. There was commotion and upset when the stands should be dismounted again. HAMPO had finished with the uproar after one hour but half of the stands were destroyed by then.

“Not that bad”, chief Botchy said. “Now the safety margin is correct.”

The chief engineer himself scrambled onto the crane and he really succeeded at the first attempt to lift the big wheel with a crook. He even almost succeeded to heave the wheel into the anchoring but then the whole matter got an imbalance, the big wheel broke loose from the crook and crashed to the ground. Several stands were flattened.

“Er, as there are no more problems with safety margins I’m no longer needed here”, technical chief Topple shouted and made off.

“Tuffy, fasten the hook again, we try it once more!” Botchy barked down from the crane and the little repair hamster hectically tried to fulfil the order.

“All right, chief”, Tuffy shouted, “the crook is fastened!”

The chief engineer nodded, satisfied and switched the lever for the hoist motor to full power. There was a loud grinding and rumbling noise. The Hamstian Fire Brigade yelled, a big fire engine was lifted into the air, the hawser of the crane ripped, and the fire engine crashed to the ground.

Tuffy, you dope, you fastened the hook wrongly! You’re that slipshod once more and you’re a 3rd class repair hamster again!”

While on the one side of the market loud discussions started, the owners of the remaining market stands got more and more nervous. Big-eyed and from a safe distance Flecki and Sasy watched the repair hamsters repairing the ripped hawser. Dasy, who was admiring a new patchwork cover at “Flecki’s and Sasy’s Victuals”, said with trembling voice:

“We’ve been lucky. The stands on this side at least have not been damaged.”

“You wait and see”, Flecki gnarled. “They are not finished yet.”

Indeed chief engineer Botch tried it once more. This time Tuffy really fastened the hook at the big wheel and made a sign to Botchy. The chief engineer cautiously started the motor and everybody marvelled how the big wheel was lifted majestically. Slowly it moved towards the anchoring and with equal caution was lowered into the corresponding suspension. The knot by which the hawser was tied together contracted more and more. Chief Botchy saw it and sweated. He hurried to lower the wheel to get over with it. He had almost made it but now the wheel was hanging beside the suspension. The chief became more nervous and hectically hoisted the whole thing. Unfortunately that was too much. The pressure contracted the knot and as it was tied too short, big wheel and hook made a free fall onto the suspension and from there to the market place.

Chief engineer Botchy felt decidedly lousy when he saw how the big wheel rolled towards the last intact stands on the back area of the place. Terrified he watched how the wheel flattened a small stand with embroidery and knitting ware and then a snack bar. Was this the end? No, the big wheel rolled on without mercy, bent to the left, swerved and divided the town hall in half. Then it rolled back to the market place and chief Botchy glared at the killer-wheel with big eyes when it approached his crane.

“Do you still need the tinsel?” Goldi asked while he on the opposite side of the market dragged the lamenting Flecki out of the debris of her victuals.

“You’re impossible, Goldi”, Flecki hissed. “Look at! The big wheel is going for the crane! Chief Botchy is in peril of his life! Where is super-hamster? Come on, do something!”

Terrified, Goldi looked at the crane, then he looked at the uncontrolled big wheel which threatened to flatten all Hamsterton. He doubled his paws and started running. When he reached one of the fire engines he scrambled to the reel for the fire hose, rolled it off and climbed onto the crane with it. While Goldi wound the hose around the frame of the crane he saw how chief Botchy still sat motionless, glaring at the approaching big wheel. Super-hamster Goldi hastened, jumped down from the crane, ran to the driver cabin of the fire engine and started the motor full power. The mad big wheel had now reached the crane which at this moment turned slowly over and crashed onto the fire engine while the wheel disappeared at the horizon.

“Best regards to Hamsterhoosen”, Goldi mumbled and looked after the wheel which now really moved towards their neighbouring town of Hamsterhoosen.

“Where is the chief engineer?” super-hamster now heard a familiar voice. “Where is he? He will repair my victual-market and replace all the goods.”

“Well”, Goldi grumbled, “I think, Flecki, for some time he’ll repair nothing, I just saved his life.”

While the first hooters announced the arrival of the AHH – the All Hamster Hospital – ambulances, the rather dishevelled looking mayor turned up. His fur was full of ketchup and cucumber salad and in all he did not look very neat.

“What happened to the chief?” he curiously asked when unconscious Botchy was dragged from under the smashed crane.

Super-hamster rescued him!” Tuffy shouted with shining eyes.

“O well”, Flecki gnarled, “would like to know how he’d looked like if hadn’t been lucky enough to be rescued!”

When the chief was taken away with flashing blue lights, Superintendent Sniffle approached the mayor.

“You still need us, Mayor?”

Er, thank you, no. You made a first rate job.”

Flecki did not believe her pointed ears.

“First rate job, Mayor? The market place is completely down and we have no hamster market any more. Moreover the big wheel is now rolling towards Hamsterhoosen!”

“Well, er”, the mayor stammered, “of course I’ll ring up Hamsterhoosen immediately and give the authorities a few hints how to handle the big wheel. As to the market place, we will spare neither costs nor pains to lend a new face to Hamsterton. We will build up something better, newer, modern, of course.”

“Indeed”, Taty jeered and Flecki gave the mayor a sharp look. “Does that mean we’ll get eleven munching stands instead of ten?”

No, er, well, er”, the mayor stammered and sweat dropped from his whiskers. Lots of hamsters had assembled and looked at him expectantly. This was a peculiar situation and the mayor thought feverishly. “Come on, Harry-George”, he thought, “think of something or they think you’re a twerp.” Then he had a great idea, yes, it was the best idea of the century. He stepped forward, lifted his little paws and said:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are going to make a kermess!”

1. Toidi, hamstish: Idiot