4. Look Before You Run (Conclusion)

As their eyes adjusted to the bright light, Opa could see into a large round room about thirty meters across, the walls appearing to be made of mirrors.

“Marbles, sit. Don’t move.”

Opa glanced over at Marbles, she was sitting, her eyes were quivering, the differently coloured eyes constantly switching places, and her nostrils wide open. The walls were not made of mirrors, but were covered with thousands and thousands of metallic crickets. A soft buzzing filled the room when the crickets flooded to the floor. They became a river of metal which flowed around Opa and Marbles. The crickets streamed down the tunnel behind the bewildered duo and in a matter of seconds the room was dark and silent.

Opa squatted beside Marbles, rubbing her cheeks. “Are you okay girl?” Marbles eyes settled down and her tail started to wag. “Good girl, we are going to get out of here. I wish I could speak to Toby, he might have some ideas on how to get out.”

Marbles nose started to twitch and she got up and ran over to the far side of the room. She turned and barked. There was a small passage way, no more than a meter high, out of which flowed air.

“Good dog, Marbles.” Opa said.

Marbles started along the tunnel and Opa had to get on his hands and knees to follow her. The tunnel soon started sloping upwards at a steep angle and after following it for a few minutes they discovered the passage was blocked by a metal grate. Air was flowing through the grate. Opa shook the grating to no avail, it was embedded into the rock.

“X,Y, Z, Z, Y” said Opa, a smile on his face while he watched the grating. Marbles tipped her head sideways, looking up at Opa. Opa reached into the knapsack and came up empty handed. “This was a colossal failure, Marbles. We can’t go any further. We are going to have to turn back and explore the other tunnel.”

As they started back down the low tunnel, Marbles crouched low, growling. Opa shone his flashlight ahead but there was nothing to see. Marbles jumped up, eyes spinning, and ran down the tunnel while barking wildly. She disappeared, leaving Opa scrambling down the tunnel as fast as he could crawl. When he returned to the room that had contained all the crickets, he found Marbles sitting in front of a metallic wall which now covered the opening back into the main tunnels. Her eyes were still trading places, her nostrils wide open. Humming filled the room.

Opa examined the door and found it was made of those metal crickets, interlocked together to form a solid obstacle. He tried to push against the door but could not budge it. The harder he pushed, the more he could feel the wall vibrate. When he pushed with all of his strength, he shouted “Ow.” He quickly pulled his hands off the wall and found a shiny cricket hanging off his left hand. Looking closely, the cricket’s mandibles were embedded into his palm. He pulled it off, threw the cricket on the ground and stomped his boot on it. He ground his boot on the floor then lifted up his boot. The cricket scampered to rejoin the wall. Examining his hand, Opa saw a trickle of blood running down his palm. He reached into the backpack and pulled out a first aid kit and bandaged up the small wound.

Marbles walked across the room and started to push a rock about the size of a softball towards Opa.

“Good idea girl, I’ll push with the rock so the crickets can’t bite my hand.”

He picked it up and used it to push against the cricket wall. Opa’s hand shook as he forced the rock into the wall. It slowly disappeared and Opa had to let go of the rock when his hand was close to touching the wall. A thin slice of rock fell to the floor, just a few millimetres thick. Opa picked it up and found that the rock hand been ground away.

“Those crickets must have chewed away the rock, Marbles. Those crickets are tough. I wonder if that’s how Evil Fawn is digging the tunnels through the mountain?”

Opa stared at the unmoving wall of crickets then sat on the floor. He tore the last peanut butter sandwich in half, giving one piece to Marbles. Doing the same with a bottle of water before placing his head into his hands. They both sat for a long time in the humming room, the wall before them not changing.

Marbles lifted up her ears and turned to face the wall. Opa looked at Marbles before he heard a faint sound. It was Toby!

“Opa, Opa! Where are you?”

“We’re here, behind the wall of crickets” Opa shouted.

“I found you. Hang on, I am going to try to get to you.”

The wall became silent and then collapsed, the crickets laying in a pile on the ground where the wall was standing. Toby jumped over the pile of crickets and saw Opa and Marbles. Marbles jumped up and licked Toby’s face.

“Marbles, that’s enough. I sure am happy to see you and Opa.”

“Me too Toby.” said Opa, giving him a big hug. “We were trapped and now you’re here. How did you find us?”

“I just went to the last place where Marble’s tracking collar worked and found the vertical tunnel into the mountain. I figured you guys were down there and might need some help getting out. I had to get some gear first before I could rappel down to the bottom of the pit. Brought some tech with me as well. When I started down the horizontal tunnels, I spied those same silver glimmers that you had seen and when I caught one it turned out to be a cyborg cricket. I took out some gear and found a secret wifi network throughout all the tunnels. Figured that was how the crickets were being controlled. I searched a few tunnels but they always seemed to be a dead end. Eventually I came across the metal wall and found you.”

“Thank you for looking for us. How did you collapse the cricket wall?”

“I realized they were being controlled via wifi so I just set up a signal disruptor. Once the radio waves were blocked, they just crumbled. Easy peasy. You know, I think I can hack into them. Maybe we could control the crickets.”

“If you could, I would like to go back to the grating that blocked our attempt to get out. There was fresh air coming through the grating, it might lead somewhere interesting.”

“No problem,” replied Toby. He filled up Opa’s knapsack with crickets and they all headed up the low tunnel and stopped at the grating.

“Let’s give this a try.” Toby dumped all the crickets on the floor before taking a Raspberry Pi out of his own backpack. It did not have a display on it, just a clear plexiglass case which reveal the small motherboard. On the case were three coloured buttons, one green, another yellow, and a red one. Toby threw the Pi, then a battery pack and finally a usb cable at Opa. “Hook ‘em up and boot up the Pi. When it’s booted, press the green button. It will start up an open, unsecured network that I’m hoping the crickets will log into.”

Opa quickly did what Toby asked. When the network was up and running all the crickets woke up, spreading out over the floor and tunnel walls. Toby took a phone out of his pocket and joined the Pi’s network. He then selected an app titled “Terminal” and linked his phone to the Pi through an SSH connection. Toby tapped his screen furiously for about ten minutes.

“I think we are ready, Opa, all you have to do now is press the yellow button on the Pi case.”

“You sure, Toby? The yellow one?”

“Don’t be shy Opa, go on, press it!”

Opa pressed the yellow one. Immediately the crickets swarmed the metal grating and began to chew on the steel. There was a loud buzzing noise for a short while and then the grating fell over causing both Toby and Opa to jump out of the way as it slid down the tunnel.

“That was clever, Toby. Well done.”

“Thanks.”

“What would have happened if I had pressed the red one.”

“Don’t press the red one Opa. It was my fail safe in case I lost control of the crickets. Lets head up the tunnel. I’m getting hungry.”

The trio climbed further up the tunnel, the small group of crickets following them. The tunnel levelled out just before they came to more grating. Through it they could see a large room, the walls and floor lined with cedar planks. The room contained a large amount of computer equipment. Opa grunted when he saw the fawn, standing on his hind legs, looking intently into a computer screen. Opa gave the grating a gentle nudge and it fell into the room with a loud clang. The fawn turned around as Opa scampered into the room and charged at the fawn. A wall, about a meter high and formed of crickets, formed itself between the fawn and Opa. The two just stared at each other. Toby and Marbles joined Opa to face the Fawn and the wall.

The fawn laughed it’s hissing laugh and touched one of the computer screens. A door opened behind the three and the wall started to advance, herding the trio towards to door. Toby could see daylight at the end of the tunnel behind the door.

“Feel free to leave. Just remember, you were not invited here. Please stay away.” hissed the fawn.

Toby and Marbles ran down the tunnel to escape. Opa was breathing hard, staring down the fawn. The advancing wall pushing Opa back one step at a time.

“Opa, lets get out of here.”

Opa finally turned and ran down the tunnel with Toby and Marbles. They ran all the way down the mountain, the two ravens following them. They headed for home in Opa’s truck.

When they got home, Oma came out to greet them. “Are you three okay? You’ve been gone for a long time.”

“We are fine.” Toby said as Opa sputtered. “Opa had a good work out today. Did you know he’s learning to look before he leaps?”

“Toby, not funny.” muttered Opa.

“Come inside boys, I am just making up some pizza.”

“Yummies.” said Toby, “You make the best pizza in the world.”

 

Toby’s Suggested Links: SSH

Opa’s Suggested Links: Colossal Cave Adventure

3. Look Before You Run (Part 1)

Opa was grumbling around the house, wandering from room to room. “Oma, have you seen my keys?”

She laughed, “I was wondering what you were doing, going ‘round and ‘round the house. No I haven’t seen them, have you asked Marbles.”

At the sound of her name, Marbles got up from her nap and stretched, doing a perfect downward dog. She walked over to Oma and waited.

“Marbles,” said Oma, “Opa has lost his keys, please find them.”

Marbles nose started to twitch and she hunted for the scent. She went to the key bin by the window and then walked over to Opa, sitting in from of him, wagging her tail.

“Keys are in your pocket” said Oma. Her warm laughter filled the room. “Good job Marbles.”

Opa rubbed Marbles on her neck, “Thanks Marbles, another mystery solved.”

Just then, Opa’s cell phone rang. It was from Toby, his grandson.

“Opa, something is happening under the Cowichan Valley. Earthquakes Canada is reporting a series of tremors beneath the valley floor. They seem to be centred below Mt. T’zouhalem and are less than magnitude one.”

Opa’s face reddened. “That’s where the last sightings of Evil Fawn were reported, where that fawn tricked me and caught me in my own trap. He must be up to something else. I had better go check it out. Do you want to come along Toby?”

“I don’t think so, I had better stay here and monitor what’s happening. I just added some more Raspberry Pi’s to my supercomputer and want to make sure it’s stable.”

“How many Pi’s is that now?”

“Two hundred and fifty six.”

“Wow, that’s cool. Okay. I am going to take Marbles up the mountain and see what she can sniff out. She has such a good nose.”

“Don’t forget your back pack, I’ve added more tricks to it.”

“Will do. Call you when I get to the cross.”

Marbles and Opa drove down Mt. T’zouhalem Road, past Providence Farm and parked close to Saint Ann’s Church. They walked through forest till they reached the mountain and then it was a steep climb to the cross. Marbles was off leash, sniffing through the brush, running everywhere she went. Opa was breathing hard, complaining about the climb. A young couple, coming down from the top, stopped and asked Opa if he was doing okay?

“I’m fine. Just forgot how steep this trail is. I’ll go slower and make it up to the top.”

“Be careful when you get to the top. The cliffs are dangerous.”

Opa just nodded and continued up the trail, Marbles stayed close, the rich forest scent giving her nose an interesting bouquet. When they reached the cross, Opa gave Toby a call.

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“Anything new to report?”

“No, Opa, the tremors are continuing, about one every half hour. Have you felt anything?”

“Not a thing. Can you give me a better location to start searching. This mountain is big. Sure wish I had packed some water. I am so thirsty.”

“The tremors are coming from underneath the highest spot on the mountain. Just follow the trails along the top of the cliffs and see what you find. Marbles should discover something. Oh, can you reach into the backpack and pull out the first thing you touch?”

Opa reached in and pulled out a metal bottle, full of water. He drank some then poured water into a cupped hand for Marbles to drink. “Thanks, Toby, at least you were thinking.”

As they continued their hike, two Ravens followed them, sometimes high above, sometimes along side, seeming to float in the up draft that came from along the cliffs. They warbled and cawed, sometimes sounding like a gong, other times sounding like laughter.

Opa called Toby. “Those two ravens are back and I swear they are keeping on eye on us. And something else strange, I sometimes see glimmers of something shiny in the brush. When I go to check it out, I can’t find anything. I’m not sure I can trust my eyes.”

“Reach into the backpack and tell me what you pull out.”

“Hey, this is cool. It’s an infrared camera.”

Opa turned it on and scanned the area around him. He could see half a dozen hot spots on the ground in a ten meter circle around him. They would disappear, then reappear in another spot. Opa tried to see what they were but every time he moved the leaves out of the way there was nothing there.

“Strange, I can see their heat but I can’t find them. They move fast. This is bugging me. First the ravens, and now this strangeness. I do not trust that evil fawn, not a bit.”

“Go on Opa, keep walking, you’re bound to come across something.”

Marbles started to bark, her voice coming from the forest. Opa followed the sound into the trees. She started to bark frantically. Opa ran through the trees, glimpsing flashes of light from the forest floor, the ravens flying from tree to tree above him. The barking stopped abruptly and then Opa saw a hole in the ground directly in front of him. He tried to stop, his feet skidding in the mud. He slipped into the dark hole, falling, falling before he landed in a deep pool of water. Marbles had fallen in before him and they were both swimming in the dark. Far above them, Opa could see a small round opening, which framed the pale blue sky. He reached into the backpack and pulled out a small waterproof flashlight, Turning it on, the light revealed shear rock walls reaching up to far above them and he noticed a tunnel heading off into the dark. He swam over to the tunnel entrance and pulled himself out of the water, then helped Marbles out of the water. Marbles gave herself a mighty shake, water spraying everywhere. Opa checked his phone, but it was dead. He reached into the back pack and found a dry set of clothes which fit him perfectly.

After putting them on, they started down the tunnel. After just a short distance, the ground started shaking for a moment. Then the tunnel became quiet. Marbles pushed herself against Opa’s legs. Dripping water echoed around them. They could faintly hear the ravens calling out behind them, the sounds drifting down from the mountain top. Marbles growled. Opa shone his flash light on the tunnel walls and caught a glimpse of a cricket that looked as if it was made from metal. As soon as the light hit it, the cricket darted away, disappearing into a crack in the rock wall. Opa moved the light over the tunnel walls, spying two more of the metallic crickets who acted like the first one, vanishing when being discovered.

 

Opa took his glasses off and cleaned them on his t-shirt. After replacing them, he and Marbles continued down the tunnel. It soon split into two.

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“I wish I could talk to Toby.” Opa muttered. “I don’t know which way to go. Left or right. Marbles, which way should we go?”

Marbles sniffed the air and then started down the branch to the left. Opa followed and they walked for another five minutes before the tunnel ended with a flat blank wall. Opa reached into the pack and pulled out a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for himself and some kibble for Marbles.

Opa then turned off the flashlight for a moment. “Marbles, when I turn on the light, can you pounce on one of those shiny cricket things?” Marbles barked softly. Opa counted. Three. Two. One. He turned on the flashlight and Marbles jumped into the air, like a wolf after a mouse, placing her front paws over one of the crickets. She started to bark and Opa reached under her paw and took out the cricket, holding it in front of the flashlight. It was made of some kind of metal, looking like a cross between a cricket and a grasshopper. It’s antenna waved around and both eyes moved around independently. One watching Opa and the other was on Marbles. Opa could feel it shaking in his hands and then it grew so hot that Opa had to drop it and off it scurried, disappearing under the wall at the end of the tunnel.

Opa turned off the flash light, got on his hands and knees, and looked closely at the base of the wall. “Marbles, I can see light coming from underneath this wall. It must be a door, I hope there is a way to open it.”

Marbles put her nose at the base, sniffing in deeply and then started scratching at the wall. Standing up, Opa started looking around, feeling the wall for any kind of crevice or latch that might open the door. After a few moments, he gave up, finding nothing.

He leaned his back on the side wall, beside the door, and gathered his thoughts. “Marbles, I’m sure this must be a door. There is light on the other side and you could smell fresh air. I’m worried that it can be opened only from the other side which means that we are trapped here. Lets go back and explore the other passage.”

Using his elbows, Opa pushed himself off the wall. When he pushed, he felt one of his elbows press into the wall with a click. The door slid upwards, disappearing into the tunnel roof and bright light blinded both of them.

 

………..To be continued

Toby’s Suggested Links: Raspberry Pi

Opa’s Suggested Links: Vancouver Island Earthquakes 

2. Caught in the Cookie Jar

The smell of cinnamon filled the house as Oma baked her famous oatmeal cookies. She was hard at work making sure that her cookie jar never went empty. Trying to keep up with the appetite of the grand kids and Opa was a never-ending task. Opa walked through the kitchen, taking three cookies off the counter. Oma laughed and then smacked him on his butt, “Those are for the grand-kids.”

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“Ouch, that hurts. Those bruises from where the fawn head butted my derriere are still there.” Opa shook his head. “Oma, that fawn is evil. Why would he hurt me like he did. Making me walk the plank. I need to catch him and put him in a zoo. That will keep all of us safe.”

Oma chuckled, “You are being silly. The fawn was just having fun, you are making too much out of that cute little creature. Could you imagine what would have happened if he had horns?”

Opa harrumphed. “Never you mind, I am going to take care of this!”

Opa phoned up his grandson Toby, “Any news on that fawn? You said you would listen in on social media and find out if anyone was chatting about the fawn.”

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Toby giggled. “I did Opa. There were a few tweets about a cute fawn running around on Mt. T’zouhalem. He wasn’t shy but when people got too close the fawn would run off.”

“Good work Toby. Where was he last seen?”

“He was behind the cross, on one of the mountain bike trails.”

“Good, I am gonna get him. Gonna catch him like he caught Marbles, with a net.”

“You sure that’s a good idea Opa? Remember how you always get lost on the trails?”

“No problem, I am going to put the tracker on Marbles. If we get lost, I’ll just call you on my cell and you can help.”

“Just remember to take your back pack. I’ve made some modifications to it that might help you.”

“What kind of modifications?”

“You’ll see.”

Knowing that Toby wouldn’t reveal the secret of the backpack until it was needed, Opa hung up and turned to Oma.

“Oma, could I have a bag of cookies?”

“Sure Opa, just make sure you share them.”

“I am gonna share them alright!” Opa huffed and grabbed a dozen of them. “Hey, Marbles, wanna go for a walk?”

Marbles had been napping in front of the fire. She jumped up and got her collar and leash, her brown eye and blue eye changing places a few times in her excitement. Opa threw a rope net, some rope, and a couple of pulleys into the back of his truck, along with the backpack. They climbed into the cab and Opa drove off, going down Maple Bay Road, then up through the Properties, ending up at the parking lot above Kaspa Road.

2fawn3A couple of the mountain bikers where giving him strange looks when he stuffed the netting into his back back and slung the ropes over his shoulder. Opa ignored them and headed up the trail. It took him an hour to hike to the cross which overlooked the Cowichan Valley. He stood a few feet back from the edge of the cliffs, looking down over the valley, seeing the twin branches of the Cowichan River reaching Cowichan Bay. Somenos Lake was to the right, with Mt. Prevost behind it. He and Marbles enjoyed the view for a moment. Opa took his phone and called his grandson.

“Toby, I am at the cross but I don’t know where to go from here. Any ideas?”

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“Yes, the last Facebook sighting shows that he was north east of you, a mountain biker had seen a fawn earlier this morning. She reported she thought she saw the fawn wearing a pirates patch but didn’t trust her own eyes. There is a compass in one of the pockets, use it. Go into the forest about 250 meters.”

“Thanks Toby, on my way”

Scrambling through the forest was difficult. There were branches in the way, some steep banks and it was easy to get lost. Eventually he found a clearing beside a big maple tree. He climbed up the tree and hung a pulley off a big branch above the clearing. Marbles was circling around the tree, her eyes nervously switching places. After climbing down, Opa spread the rope net over the ground, tied it to the rope and placed a bell on the cookie bag before setting Oma’s cookies in the centre of the trap.

“Marbles, you have to be quiet. I am going to climb back up the tree and when the Evil Fawn grabs the cookies, I am going to spring the trap.”

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Marbles nodded her head then disappeared into the brush. Opa tied a heavy rock to the other end of the rope, climbed back up the tree, pulled the rock up after him and then waited in the crook of two branches. He was tired from all the work and after waiting a long while he fell asleep.

The bell started to jangle, waking up Opa. He pushed the rock off the tree. It went down and the trap flew up, yelping coming from the net. Looking at the net, Opa saw that Marbles was in the net. He let the net down and let Marbles out.

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“Marbles, there are cookie crumbs all over your snout. Did you eat them?”

Marbles nodded her head, her eyes switching places, she licked Opa’s hands. Opa nodded and then phoned Toby. “Problems here, Marbles just ate all the cookies, how am I going to lure the evil fawn into the net now?”

Toby laughed, “Well, you could bend over on one side of the trap, and when the Fawn tries to head butt you, you got him.”

Opa grumbled, “Not funny. What do deer like to eat?”

Continuing to laugh, Toby replied, “Get some young tender Maple leafs. Deer love to eat the leaves out of my Mom’s garden.”

“Good idea Toby, thanks.” Opa climbed back up the tree and picked a handful of leaves and placed them on the trap. He pulled the rock back into the tree and was just settling in for the wait when there was a rustling in the shrubs off the clearing. Opa looked down at Marbles and could see that she was excited, her eyes flashing back and forth, her body quivering. Opa placed his forefinger over his pursed lips and shook his head at Marbles. Just then, a fawn, wearing a pirate patch, stepped into the clearing Marbles couldn’t contain herself and rushed towards the deer. Evil Fawn sprung away through the trees with Marbles chasing after her, barking madly. Opa jumped down and chased after the two of them. Through the trees, up and down hills, along a twisting bicycle trails and back into the forest. Left, right, up and down, Opa got lost in all the turns. He was running hard, full speed, trying to catch up with the two. The barking stopped and Opa ran harder.

He then found himself sailing through the air, ending up suspended above a familiar looking clearing. He had been caught in his own rope trap. The fawn and Marbles both sitting on their haunches, looking up at him. The fawn snickered loudly. Getting up, the fawn rubbed his nose on Marbles nose, then ran off into the forest. Marbles just stayed sitting, looking up at Opa. She kind of looked like she was smiling.

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Opa was sputtering away, mumbling to himself, angry that he was caught. Two ravens landed on the branch he was swinging from and looked down. They warbled at each other, then one looked down and winked at Opa before they both flew off. Opa managed to get his phone out and called Toby. “You’ll never believe what happened? That evil fawn is . . .”

Toby couldn’t contain himself. “You got caught in your own trap?” Laughter filled the phone.

“How did you know?”

“Just a lucky guess. Do you need help?”

“Yes, I can’t get out and Marbles can’t help me.”

“You have the back pack on? Can you reach into one of the pockets?”

“Does it matter which pocket? I can only reach one of the side ones.”

“That will do, reach into it and take out the first item you come across.”

Opa reached in and pulled out a pocket knife. “How did you do that Toby? That knife was just what I needed to cut myself out of the trap and it was in the only pocket I could reach.”

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“Told you I made some mods to the backpack.”

Lucky for Opa, he was only suspended about four feet off the ground. He cut some of the netting and landed with a thud on the ground. He lay there for a moment sputtering.

His phone rang and it was Toby. “Opa, I was still monitoring social media and a new picture came up on Facebook and twitter. It’s a picture of you hanging in the rope net, scowling at the camera.”

“No way is that possible, The only folk that witnessed my debacle was the Evil Fawn and Marbles, and they never had cameras.”

“Did anything else strange happen?”

“No, well yes. Two ravens came by, chattering away. One winked at me before flying off.”

“That was unusual. Why don’t you gather up all the gear and then bring Marbles over to my house. I believe Mom and Oma are making pizza. We can talk about those ravens more.”

“I hope Oma brought some cookies, they make my bruises feel better. I better hurry up.”

 

Toby’s links: Mt T’zouhalem Trails

Opa’s links:  The Frog on the Mountain

 

1. Opa Has a Run-In

Black Krims are the finest tomatoes I know, misshapen with ridges and valleys, dark streaks of colour through the skin. I was loving my vines, pinching out the creepers, tying new growth to the stake and pulling out weeds. I was bent down from the waist pulling out Morning Glory stringers, when I found myself flying. Pushed forward by a force to my backside. Landing among the Krims, I turned to see what had struck me and saw a fawn wearing a pirates patch over one eye. A fawn with hissing laughter. An evil fawn. The creature bolted from my garden, disappearing down the drive way.

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I found my cell phone and called my grandson. “Toby, I just got head-butted by a pirate patch wearing fawn!”

 

“Opa, you’ve been in the sun just a little too long. You wearing your hat?”

Now Toby is a gifted eleven year old. He’s brilliant in all things computer and prefers to interact with family and friends through tech. “Just check the cam footage. See if you can see what happened?” He had recently installed security cams around my house to see who has been raiding my garden.

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He started to laugh outrageously over the phone. “You should see yourself Opa, you get a ten for your face plant. Here, I’ll send you the video.”

It showed the fawn rushing up from behind, the head butt lifting me off the ground. Then the video went to slow motion, zooming in on me. My eyes as wide open as my mouth, arms spinning, landing face first among my tomato plants. Then blowing dirt from my mouth and nostrils. The laughter continued. “You know Opa, that fawn had great aim. Very effective too! I think I like him.”

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“There’s nothin‘ to like about that creature Toby. That was an unprovoked evil attack. I am going to try and catch it ‘cause it’s a menace to my garden.”

Toby played back the fawn’s hissing laughter, looping it over and over.

“Turn that off, it’s really creepy. Are you gonna help me find that evil fawn?”

“Sure Ops. Lets see if I can find him from here. I just wrote some code that should help.”

I whistled a high-low two note. Marbles ran out of the shade, a grey and white adolescent husky, expecting a walk. She sat, watching my every move. She had a brilliant blue eye and a dark brown eye which always confused me because they switched places. Sometime the blue was on her right, other times the brown. I think they switched around when Marbles got excited. She was vibrating, willing me to start the walk.

“Opa, I found him. I found some video of the fawn running into McAddam Park.”

“Thanks. I am going to use Marbles‘ powerful nose to track him down.”

I took Marbles into the garden and pointed at the hoof prints. “Scent.” Marbles sniffed the prints and barked, her eyes shifting places. She ran back to the house and returned with her leash and collar. The collar had a tracking chip installed. I clipped her into the leash and off she ran, pulling me behind her. Reaching the park, I let her off leash and she bounded away from me.

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“Toby, you following her?”

“She’s already under the highway bridge, now running up the river by the Casino. She is really moving. Wow, she’s already passed the Quw’utsun’ Heritage Center, approaching the old Malaspina College campus.”

I ran back home and jumped into my truck. I was making my way to the Black Bridge, hoping to intercept both of them there, when Toby called to say they were running up the river alongside Cliffs Road. I drove up and parked at the pulp mill’s pump house and ran up the trails.

“Opa, stop. Marbles has disappeared. I lost the tracking device.”

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“Where was the last fix you had on her?”

“Close by the Chicken Cliffs.”

I ran up the trail, stumbling over exposed roots while I climbed higher. I spotted them. Marbles was trapped in a heavy net which was hanging from a tree. She was howling, chewing at the ropes. The fawn was below, still wearing the pirate patch. He was standing upright, wearing long black leather boots and a black baseball cap embroidered with a white skull and cross bones. His spots looked menacing. A sword was strapped to one of his front hooves. Pointing with the sword, he indicated a plank that was set over cliff‘s edge, the Cowichan River far below. Then he pointed at Marbles and made a slashing stroke across his own throat. He pointed at me and then the plank.

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“Toby, what do I do?” No answer, the signal was blocked, I was on my own. I simply stood and waited. The fawn waved it’s sword and Marbles was swung out over the cliff, only rocks below her. He started hacking away at the support rope so I walked over to the plank and stood before it. The fawn stopped its attack on the rope and approached me, poking me, forcing me further and further out on the plank. I stood at the edge, looking at Marbles. I turned facing outwards, not looking down. I was frozen, tears running down my face.

“Opa, Opa! the fawn had blocked all cell service in your area but I hacked my way in. I can free Marbles from here. ”

At the sound of Toby’s voice I found my courage but just before I turned, I was again head butted on my bruised posterior. Off the plank I sailed, screaming as I fell. The water slapped me hard but I was alive.

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I floated on my back, seeing the fawn looking down the cliffs at me, his hissing laughter raining down. I rolled on my belly and swam downstream to a small sandy beach where Marbles was waiting. She licked my face as I lay on the sand, whimpering as she did so, all the while her eyes were spinning.

 

I could hear Toby calling through the trees. “Opa, Opa. Where are you?”

“I’m down at the beach, Toby. I am safe with Marbles.”

Toby scrambled down to the beach. “I was so scared, Opa. I could hear you screaming over the cell and then you just cut out. I guess your phone died when you landed in the water. I‘m so happy Marbles and you are safe.” He then gave me the tightest hug,something he had never done before. My tears ran freely. I don’t believe there is anything nicer than a hug from a grandchild.

Toby smiled as he handed me his cell. “Phone Oma, she’s worried.”

Opa’s suggested links: Black KrimsQuw’utsun’ Heritage Center

Toby’s suggest links: