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hvysmker
February 25th, 2020, 08:52 PM
Ruffie Lion’s Quest 2 of 3 [ YA ] 2,500


In Almost Africa, humans capture his family.


Little Ruffie must save them.

Synopsis: Ruffie Lion and Doris Deerovia are searching for Ruffie’s parents.

---------




Days later, while pushing their way through somewhat familiar berry bushes, a stern voice came down from on high.




"When are you guys gonna leave my berries alone," it said. "You already ate half’a them."




The two weary travellers looked up to see a raven glaring down from a tree limb.





"We did?" Doris asked, almost sheepishly.




"Of course you did. Don't you even remember, stupid animals? I swear, you guys can be so darned idiotic." The raven sneered.




"We're on a quest," she called up to the raven, "to find Ruffie's mother."




"You won't find her that way, walking in circles," the raven said, laughing, "unless she's walking in circles too?"




"Oh, yeah?" Doris looked around. The area did look familiar.




"I suppose you could do better?" Ruffie asked.




"Who couldn't? Nobody could do worse." The raven laughed harder, her cackling bouncing off the trees.




"Then why don't you help us?" Doris asked.




"Why should I? It's fun watching you screw up. You guys always screw up, you know? You're not as smart as us guys."




"If you're that smart, which way should we go?" from Ruffie, getting his fur worked up with anger.




"Depends on where you want to go, idiots."




"I dunno," Ruffie had to admit. "Where the humans are, I guess. I gotta find my Mama. The humans have her."




"Pick any direction, they're everywhere," the bird said, ruffling her feathers, "everywhere at all."




"Well, have you seen any in, say, the past week?" Doris asked, "or are you too blind to have noticed."




"Blind! Blind? Me? I see everything. I fly so high I can sit on the moon and rest on my way to fly around the sun. That's how much I see." The raven blustered while jumping around on the limb. "I fly so high I can peck holes in the heavens, holes that you call stars."




"Yeah, yeah, but did you see any humans a week ago?" Doris demanded.




"I not only saw them, I counted them. One, two, three ... many. I even followed them to the city, where they went into a building there, a big one yet. One that has a lot of you guys inside, making all your idiotic noises." She continued, "Why can't you talk gooder, like us ravens?"




"Can you guide us there?" Ruffie asked.




"Guide you? Do I look like a slave? I'm a free bird, free to ride the aimless breeze--"




"But free to show us, too." Doris turned to Ruffie and said, in a loud whisper, "That bird's a liar. She's too stupid to guide us."




"Stupid? An animal like you calling ME stupid? I'll prove it to you. I'm the smartest bird in the world, much smarter than any land animal. You, a deer, calling ME stupid?"




She stomped along the limb, feathers flying loose in her rage. Settling down to a low mumble, the raven ordered, "follow me if you can," and took off, flying west. Grinning, the other two followed.




"Awwwwwk. Awwwwk. Come on, you slowpokes. What's taking you so long?" the raven, aptly named Ravena, buzzed around their heads as the two, lion and deer, trudged up a high, grass-covered hillside.

***




They'd been walking for hours. Ruffie panted heavily as he tried for just a little more effort, just one more step toward the top of a slope illuminated by a setting sun.




Even Doris was stumbling, long front legs almost doubled at the steep incline. Deer were designed for level ground, she thought, eyes on the summit.




Ravena wasn't even winded, drifting back and forth on hidden air currents, only giving an occasional flutter to keep herself elevated.




"Finally," Ruffie said, panting while he stood on top of the slope.




At the sound of a low "Wheeeee," he turned to see Doris coming up beside him.




They stood on a higher plain, looking the same except that the greenery had somehow been stripped. Broken tree branches dotted the area, trampled by someone or something. Bushes, half eaten, littered the landscape. Trees were bent double. It looked like a storm had hit.




"What happened here?" Doris called to their airborne companion, only to get a loud cackle in return.




"How the heck do you think I know?" Ravena replied. "Whatever it was, it happened a long time ago -- like yesterday." She flapped down to stand on a limb next to her companions, "I can't be everywhere at once, you idiots."




"So you don't know everything, is that it?" Doris asked with a snicker.




"I simply wasn't interested. I don't spend all my time watching you guys, you know? I do a lot of deep thinking while I fly."




"Sure you do, like how to find bugs. Ugggh, eating bugs."




"Bugs are good for you. Better that plain old grass. Insects come in many flavors, grass comes in only one -- dirt." Ravena laughed at the thought of eating dirt filtered up a green stem, instead of nice juicy bugs.




"So does grass, you should try it someti--"




"You two cut it out," Ruffie interrupted, "What to do now?"




"Go ahead, of course, ahead. Can't you figure anything out?" Ravena asked. "What would you do without me, anyway?"




"Then let's go ahead. We have to find a place to stay tonight," Ruffie said, "Someplace with water and shelter."




"Please, Ravena. I'm tired," Doris pleaded.




"It's about time you asked me nice," Ravena chirped. "I see a place over there, to the right. Come on, and don't try to slow me down."




She flew, straight as an arrow, toward a distant grove of almost apple trees.




When they staggered to the grove, the companions found the trees were at the edge of an abandoned human stone quarry, with solid cliffs on two sides and small piles of sorted and unsorted rocks lying around. Luckily, they had come from one of the other directions, avoiding steep drop-offs.




On the way, Ruffie found a dead hyena, trampled by whatever had decimated the veldt. He would take pleasure in eating one of those animals, the same type that had torn up his home. He was, however, tired of such roadkill. Ruffie knew that sooner or later he would have to learn to kill his own meals -- and didn't like the idea. He'd rather find his Mama and let her do it for him.




As they approached the trees, the two land animals heard a great deal of cursing and hurried to see what was annoying their airborne companion.




"You don't own the place. Wait until my lion gets here and he'll kick your butt." They could hear Ravena cursing. "You better start running if you know what's good for you."




"Duh, yeah? You say, you stupid bird. And I ain't afraid'a no lions. Come on down here an fight. I dares you."




"You better hope I don't. I've licked bigger guys than you. Shoo, shoo, get out of here."




"Uh, make me, huh? You just make me. Can't do it, can't do it, can't – duh – do it, can you?"




When Ruffie and Doris came upon the altercation, they saw Ravena, high on a branch, trading insults with a young rhinoceros. It had its head raised, waving a stubby horn at the bird, one hoof stomping the ground.




Ruffie growled his most horrifying growl, which, seeing as it showed a bit of fearful whining, wasn't really much, as he ran over to the would-be combatants.




Doris, more sensible, trotted up, to stay a good bite farther away.




"Hey. Stop it," Doris yelled. "What's going on here?"




"This big idiot says he'll eat me. ME. He thinks he can kick MY butt, the big oaf," Ravena tried to explain.




"Can you shut up this bumblebee?" the rhino asked, staring at his adversary. "It annoys me."




"Bumblebee? You bumbling idiot. I'll show you a bumblebee," Ravena replied, "I'll come down there and--"




"Please, please, Ravena. He doesn't mean it. Do you? What is your name?"




"Duh, let me think ... Homer. Yes, Homer. That's what they call me."




"Is it all right with you if we spend the night here, Homer?" Doris asked, humbly, "We promise not to make a mess, and we'll leave first thing in the morning?"




"Duh, I guess so, since you ask so nice, Miss Deer. I don't mind nice people keeping me company." He looked down at the ground, seemingly depressed. "'Sides, it ain't my home, anyways." The rhino shook his head, sadly. "I'm lost. My herd came through here yesterday. I -- I -- I stopped to eat a snack and fell asleep. Wh -- When I woke up, they was gone ... gone without me." Homer rubbed his eyes against the tree, shaking it and leaving a wet spot -- which started Ravena into another spate of cursing.




Doris couldn't help it. She felt safer with the large Homer around, that and a raven that could warn them of trouble. To a deer, it was instinctive to distrust a lion. Even a kindly-acting one like Ruffie.




"What're you thinking about?" Ruffie asked, as though reading her mind.




"Uh, uh, how nice it is here ... with such pleasant companions," she replied, feeling a little ashamed of her thoughts.




"Don't you want to go back to your herd?" he asked, lying down beside her. "It's still not too late. Maybe Ravena would guide you?"




"I don't think so, Ruffie. Back there, I'm nothing but another doe. I wouldn't have any adventures except when lio ... when meat-eaters attacked. Even then, we can usually outrun them.




"Then, some big guys would bump heads to fight over me, as though I'd be impressed. Having a harder head than the next fellow is no criteria in being a better husband.




"And then, and then the one with the hardest skull would take me, put me in a herd with a lot of other does, and make me into a baby factory. Some future."




"But you'd have more security with the herd," he reminded her.




"Oh, yeah, until I get too old to run fast. Then a lio ... tiger or something will eat me. I'd rather have some adventures while I can. Maybe," she said, thrusting a hoof out at a steep angle, "I could learn some of that karate stuff I read about in a human magazine? All I can do now is throw a few stones."




Ruffie was young and naive, but not stupid. He caught the lapses in speech.




"Don't worry, Doris. I'd never eat you. You're a friend, and I don't ever eat friends." He patted her with a sheathed paw.




"Not even if you were starving and we were on a desert island togeth--"




"Will you two idiots shut up so a bird can catch a few winks," came from the tree above them.




Doris and Ruffie shut up, moving close together for warmth. They knew they would have a long day of walking coming up in the morning.




***




It was morning, Ruffie saw as he woke alone. He'd been woken by a steady "thump," "thump," "thumping," from somewhere beyond the trees. Rising and stretching, the young lion padded over that way.




He saw Homer with Ravena sitting on his shoulder, both watching Doris throwing stones at a bush halfway up one cliff. Even as Ruffie watched, Doris dipped her head like a metronome, picking up a rock in her mouth and launching it at the bush. Every one seemed to hit the target, knocking leaves and branches from the suffering vegetation.




When she was finished, Homer grunted and Ravena cheered. Ruffie only stood there, unbelieving.




Doris turned and grinned.




"I can do it with sticks, too," she told them. Seeing Ruffie, she trotted over, proud of her performance.




"Where did you learn to do that?" Ruffie asked. "I never saw anyone throw like that before."




"Well," Doris told him, with a shake of her head, "a gal's gotta protect herself." She looked around. "Actually, I was raised around a lot of rocks and found I was good at throwing them. Since I couldn't find anyone to teach me karate, I practiced and practiced until I got better with stones. I figured that if some ... tiger ... attacked me, I could at least make it hard for him to eat me if I knocked out his teeth."




Ruffie waited until she turned back to Homer, before shuddering.




With Ravena guiding them, the four traveled for several more days, skirting any humans the raven happened to see. They did, however, come upon more and more signs of humanity, such as small roads and cultivated fields.




Homer, Doris, and Ravena enjoyed a wealth of food, as did Ruffie from roadkill along the roads, as well as sharing bugs with Ravena. He had never hunted for himself and didn't want to make Doris nervous by starting the practice. So Ruffie had to keep his distance from rabbits and small game. It wasn't hard, since the game felt the same about him.




***




"There it is, up ahead," Ravena told them one afternoon. "I don't see any of those stupid humans, either," she chattered at them. "Hurry up, you stupes. I told you I could do it, yes I did. I told you." The raven stopped a moment to flutter her feathers. "Hurry up. Let's go ... slowpokes."




She tried to peck Homer on the butt, which only made the rhino angry, him trying to swat her with his tail.




When the raven flew toward Doris, the deer picked up a rock and mumbled around it, "Don't you dare. I'm a lady."




In minutes, they came to a long low building made of concrete blocks. One large door in back was open wide.




"I'll look inside," Ruffie told the others. "You wait here. I don't smell Mama, though. But there are, or were, a lot of frightened people here. I can smell the fear."




Ruffie tried to look brave as he slowly padded up an incline toward the open doorway. He had no way to know that it was a human loading ramp. At the top, the lion cub had to stand on his back legs to see over a wall where trucks backed up for loading, and into the building.




The inside was a large open space, a cluster of large cages along one wall and racks of smaller ones along another. In the rear were small doorways and a few interior windows to smaller rooms. Nobody seemed to be around, at least that he could see.




Ruffie scrambled up and into the building, back legs scratching for toeholds in the concrete. Once inside, he crept along a wall, watching for signs of people or humans. On the way around the large cages, a dozen of them, he looked in to see they were all dirty, as though they'd been occupied. Things like magazines, dirty sheets, and cigarette butts were lying around inside.




In front of the tenth cage, he smelled his mother. The door was open, so he padded inside, sniffing as he went. In one corner he saw and smelled his mother's droppings. He was elated because she had been inside, but saddened because she wasn't still there. There was no sign of his father. Well, Ruffie sighed. He didn't really expect it. He thought his father was dead.




After circling the room, and finding nobody, he called to Ravena, who was waiting at the entrance.




"Might as well get everyone inside," Ruffie growled. "At least we can spend the night here."




As Ravena left, Ruffie lay down next to his mother's droppings, tears coming to his eyes as he wondered what he could do next. He had to find her, Ruffie thought, even though he had no idea where. She could be anywhere by then. Ruffie sniffled, trying to hold in his grief.




"Did you find her? You didn't, did you?" Doris said, trotting up to the silent lion. "Awwww, that's too bad. We can't give up. She must be somewhere around here. I'll look." She trotted away to inspect the offices.




Homer had trouble squeezing inside past the entrance, but finally made it, with the loud encouragement of a cursing raven. Whenever he felt like giving up, Ravena would swear at him and pull his ear or peck his butt. It was less painful for the rhinoceros to keep trying, than to give up. With skinned knees, he finally made his way inside.




One of the smaller rooms was a real find, since it contained large sacks of food, some that even big cats could eat. Whoever owned the place must have been feeding a lot of different kinds of people, Doris thought, munching on yummy grain. There were also a couple of troughs still full of water. A little stagnant, but still drinkable.




"Duh, let's stay awhile, huh?" Homer asked. "An, maybe an rest up, uh? We's gonna find your mama, Ruffie. Don't worry you none 'bout that."




End of part two of three. Next, they meet a conniving rat who helps them find Ruffie’s parents.

hvysmker – Charlie

Olly Buckle
February 26th, 2020, 10:08 AM
I didn't find any nits in the writing, my main concern was what audience you are aiming at? It seemed more like child than young adult. The talking, co-operating animals that go on like humans, (We could spend the night in here) remind me of something like the film 'Ice Age'.

hvysmker
February 26th, 2020, 01:10 PM
To tell the truth, Olly, none or I'm not sure. I've had little to do with rug rats since I was one. All though having my share of live-in lovers, I've never let their kids live with me, so I'm not familiar with house apes. I put it in as YA because someone said it contains adult words or something.

I'll post the rest this afternoon EST after three pm.

Olly Buckle
February 26th, 2020, 11:29 PM
Yes, it is a strange mixture. 'Rugrats' makes me think of pre-school children, or at least very young, and the main idea of a group of animals looking for one's mother fits that. but some of the other ideas, like a deer defending herself from carnivores by throwing stones because she couldn't learn karate, hmm.

hvysmker
February 27th, 2020, 12:16 AM
I've written hundreds of Anthropomorphism and Personification stories, most under the pen-name of Oscar Rat.

Oscar has also been featured in many other stories. He's written a novel about an alternate history where giant intelligent rats evolved to take over the Earth, while humans never left the Neanderthal stage.

Most of them, as with my Alice Adams in Wonderland series, are of an adult nature.