Vol. 5 No. 4 December 2014 - January 2015
The Legend of the Giant Furball
Digby Shortclaws was a bear of humble origins. He was distantly related to the Fuzzybottoms, but about 4 times removed from that august clan. However, it was enough to get him a job at the Mah Hoo Nah Spa as the caretaker, looking after the upkeep of the pools, spas, buildings and such. It kept him very busy, because the spa was very popular among the humans and the bears and other creatures who lived in Yellow (and even some from further afield!). Even though he really like his job, there were times that his convictions about the general goodness of bears and other animals around Yellow were sorely tested. He did comment to his friend Ms Trudy about the recent party at the spa and of course sent her his photos of the morning after. Of course, Ms Trudy had to go and put them in the Gazette. (see them here...)
Digby had a small office in the basement of the spa where he kept all his tools: brooms, mops, soap, dusters, cloths, disinfectants, and all the rest of the janitorial repertoire. He had a small desk, a broken down old office chair, and a bulletin board full of post-it notes requesting jobs that needed doing. Needless to say, he kept very busy indeed.
Now, Digby got on nicely with some of the spa staff, particularly the masseuses and the life guards, but the office staff thought themselves to be well above Digby's station, and kept rubbing it in that he was just a low-life doing menial tasks. Generally, Digby just kept quiet, and did his work diligently. He had lunch with the spa crew, and left the office snobs to their own devices.
And this routine went on month after month. Digby worked odd hours to clean, polish, drag leaves and such out of the pools, changed the filters and so forth. Life was, well, humdrum and rather boring. But unbeknownst to the staff, Digby was doing college courses by correspondence and was nearly completing his first degree. No dummy was he!
After a particularly hot, dry summer, all the bears rapidly shed their winter fur coats, leaving a lot of bear fur all over the place. In the Spa, this fur went down the drains, into the treatment plant and then to the river, along with other bits and pieces that we won't mention here.
In late Autumn, the bears were holding a last barbecue by the pool before the assault of winter. The humans were in the geyser spas and in the yoga room. One of the bears, having had a wee bit too much honey beer, fell into the pool to the sound of laughter and teases from the others. "Hey Mortimer, they oughta call ya Boozo!" And other such remarks. Mortimer (aka Boozo) attempted to crawl back onto the deck by the pool, when he noticed that the pumps had stopped. There was no fresh water coming into the pool.
"Well I may have had a coupla too many honey beers, but hey, guys, the pool is dead. No fresh water!" Said Mortimer as he shook himself, spraying water all over the onlookers.
All the bears took a look. Not that they didn't trust Mortimer, but being bears and cautious, they all had to look for themselves. After about a half hour, they all agreed: "Yep, sure does look like the pool is dead, all right. Better call Digby."
So dutifully, the youngest bear was sent to Digby's office.
He knocked. Digby open his door, remembering to cover up his essay which was on the ecological balance of the Ma Hoo Nah River. "Yes, can I help ya?" he asked.
"Mr Shortclaws, sir, the pool has died." said the young bear. "There is no water flowing."
"Hmmm," said Digby, "that sounds serious. I had better go and have a look. Best to ask the rest of the bears to keep out of the water until I can get it fixed."
The young bear toddled off to tell the others; Digby sighed, put his quill away (he was old fashioned that way), put on his coveralls, and trundled forth to check on the pumps.
The pumps and filters were in a deep hollow under the spa's main building. The water circulated there, with old water being cleaned by the filters and then pumped back into the pool along with a bit of fresh water from the geysers. But when Digby took a look, what he saw was a huge swelling in one of the pipes. "Oh oh," he thought, "looks like I've got a real problem here." He knew what had happened. A hot spring and summer meant that the filters could not cope with the mountains of bear fur that the clients had shed, and the build had started, and grew, and grew until the flexible pipes were near to breaking point, full of soggy bear fur.
Now the question was, how to get rid of it. It was so big that there was no way to break it up and let it flow out naturally. This required surgery. So back to his office went Digby to get the appropriate tools for the job: a large axe, a blow torch, some buckets and some new pipe sections to replace the swollen bits.
When he came back, he looked at the huge blob and noticed that it was pulsing, as if it were alive. He turned the pumps off to see if that made any difference. It didn't. Oh oh. It throbbed lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub, and with each "lub-dub " it seemed to swell even more. Digby looked at the buckets he had brought to carry the mess away, and saw that they were totally inadequate for this ever-growing, pulsing super blob. He scratched behind his hear and then made a decision.
"OK, here goes nothing, " thought Digby, and he swung the axe hard against the pipe. It made a small dent, but that was all. It was like using a blunt knife on a rubber ball. He swung again. Another "boiiing," and another small dent. He scratched behind his ear again. "Well, this calls for remedial action indeed, " he grumbled. He pulled out a blow torch, and set the flame to very hot and very thin and applied this to the dents in the pipe.
Hsssssss, the blowtorch started to do its job, and Digby could see that the pipe was weakening, when KAWOOOOSH! The pipe burst, and the huge fur ball exploded out of the pipe, hitting Digby square in the chest. Whump! The force was so great that he was pressed into the fur ball, and the ball started to roll down the incline, Digby rolling right along with it. Roll, ka-thud, roll, ka-thud, roll -- all the way to the basement gates.
The ball with Digby attached was gathering speed and momentum as it neared the gates, which stood no chance as the ball shot through them, over the pier and into the river. Digby yelled a very muffled "HEEELLLLLLPPPP!", as the furball splatted into the river.
A boatload of tourists was approaching the spa's dock and saw this awesome, black, fuzzy, very smelly blob fly off the dock into water, where it made a mighty splash, spraying the tourists with a rather unasavoury blend of river water, old bear fur and heaven knows what else.
Fortunately, the splash also freed Digby from the clutches of the ball. He managed to swim, rather bruised and bedraggled, up to the dock, where he climbed up and sat, scraping off bits of the ball from his saturated fur. "Yecchhh", he said, as he finished rubbing himself off and then limped back to his office. Fortunately there was a shower just next to it, along with a first aid kit. Digby changed clothes, patched himself up and set about repairing the pipes, cleaned the rest of the filters and got the pool water flowing again. He waddled up to the pool, where water was flowing again. "OK, folks, the pool is repaired. Have fun."
Cheers from the bears. "Yay Digby, good on ya mate" and other plaudits, as they nearly created a mini tidal wave when they all leaped into the pool. So, that was that, thought Digby. Job's done, and no one the wiser. But he did wonder where that huge blob was headed.
However, unbeknownst to Digby and the carousing bears, one of the tourists on that boat was a reporter from the Yellow Gazette who saw the whole thing, took some photos and wrote a story about the mysterious bear eating blob that came from under the spa. These were duly sent on to the editors, and here is the end result.
But Digby just kept mum, did his work, did his homework, and the giant furball floated gently down the Mah Hoo Nah river, being dodged by small boats, checked out by fish, and gently sank one night into the mists, and passed into legend...
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