• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 05

The Intruder

Sir Rufus Floofington stood frozen, eyeing the mess in front of him. What had been a meticulously set table was now a disaster. Food, drink and decorations were scattered across the Persian rugs on the floor. The fruit juices, already seeping into the colourful fibres where they had landed, filled the room with a pungent sweetness that crinkled his sensitive nose.

What a mess.

Rufus moved through the room, trying to see whether or not anything was salvageable. He walked on his tiptoes, making sure not to get any of the stickiness between his toe beans. You did not want anything between the beans; it hurt too much. Besides – he pondered as he leapt over an entire fruit basket flipped over – there was no appointment available at the groomers for another fortnight; the agony to live with it until then!

Rufus did one, two, three laps around the centrepiece table and the mess encompassing it. The lobster at the heart of it had, by some miracle, remained upright, balancing on the brink of the plate that held it. A chill ran down Rufus’s spine when he locked eyes with it. Appearing to lock eyes, he corrected himself. As lifelike as it seemed, he knew the bright red crustacean wasn’t alive. Never had been. ”Actual seafood makes for awful buffets”, Madame always said. ”The stench is terrible within half an hour!” That’s why she’d arranged for exceptionally realistic seafood adornments, such as this one. So, Rufus bit down around the instinctive bark that wanted to come out. No use in waking Madame before he’d located the reason behind this mess.
 That’s when he saw… whatever it was.


The Intruder

It sat so still he’d mistaken it for a statue at first; not a muscle moved underneath that chocolate-black-white-coloured fur. It sat there, hand outstretched, reaching for one of those red fruits that Madame preferred with her morning coffee. He’d already had quite a feast by the look of things; pits of various sizes lay in a trail from where he sat to the open window, and one of those bright yellow, sour oranges that Madame often squeezed on her fish balanced on the edge of the table above his head. Or her head. Rufus had no means of knowing if this was a boy or a girl. All he knew was that it, whatever it was, kept its big amber eyes locked on him. Waiting, it seemed.

For what?
 Rufus would never know. The lobster, still balancing bravely, finally caved and crashed down between Rufus and the intruder. Rufus jumped back in a startled yelp; the claw nearly decapitated him!

”RUFUS!” Madame’s voice, shrill and sleepy at the same time, thundered above his head. ”What have you done?!”

Elegant paws with coloured claws lifted him, the sharp-pitched voice scolding him before he could even begin to explain that the state of the room wasn’t his fault.
All that was left of the actual villain were his juicy pawprints by the windowsill.