First was a picture postcard showing the milking room at a cheese factory in Grebbenland. It was from his cousin Tannik who was there on his honeymoon. Hermux held the card up so Terfle could get a good look at it. "It's from Tannik and Vinnapy," he explained. "They're having a wonderful time. The cheese is superb. They hope I'm feeding you well. They are bringing you some special treats."
Next was a letter from his friend Nip Setchley who wanted Hermux to invest in Nip's newest idea, a trailer park resort that moved from place to place like a motel on wheels. "Never gets boring," Nip promised. Hermux had never known him to lack enthusiasm. And it did sound rather exciting. A new place everyday. But the same people. Adventurous but cozy at the same time.
"I'll have to give that some thought," said Hermux and turned his attention to a small blue envelope of thin tissue. A vaguely familiar scent wafted up to Hermux's sensitive nose as he tore it open. Flowers. Hundreds of bruised and tortured flowers seemed to explode in the air. And something sugary and rotten. The card inside was embossed with a bold TM.
"Tucka Mertslin!" he muttered.
Miss Tucka Mertslin
Subcommittee for Hall Decoration
requests the pleasure of your company
on Monday, the twenty-third of March
at six o'clock
at her residence
to view drawings and plans for
new hallway décor.
"The twenty-third of March. That was today!" he admitted, embarrassed. "No wonder she was steamed. But when did she mail it?" He studied the postmark on the envelope. It was marked March 22.
"Yesterday. Not likely I'd get it in time to attend her meeting and be disruptive," he thought. "But then I doubt that Miss Mertslin actually wanted me there at all. And now that she thinks she's gotten me out of the picture, she can carry out her redecoration plans without any interference from me."
"Looks like it might be war, Terfle," he announced grimly. "The war of the wallpaper." And with that he ate a wedge of apple, two pieces of cheese, poured himself a cup of tea, and opened the new edition of the Weekly Squeak.
As usual the news was mixed. Good things had happened to bad people. Bad things had happened to good people. Several surprising new things had been discovered. Quite a few old things had been damaged. Trouble was brewing on one horizon. And peace had been reached on another. The short-term forecast was growth. The long-term forecast was shrinkage. The days were getting colder. But temperatures were rising in general. And then he saw her picture.
She was standing beside an airplane on a landing strip in some sort of jungle.
Copyright 2000 Michael Hoeye. All rights reserved.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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