This is a part from Scene 8 of the novel, [soon to be renamed:] Kraken, Dragon, Cat vs. Kangaroo, Cockatoo, Crocodile – Who Will Rule?
First, the NaNo update:
It’s done and won, but now the numbers will start to come down as I hone and cut and remove questions, notes and research. There’s still work to be done on sharpening parts, especially the beginning (and maybe the middle, oh, and possibly the end). I hope it will come out at somewhere between 65-75 k words. That’s the length of novel I like to read, so …
Cocky stayed at the bar, ordered drink after drink, but got no more drunk that if it was water. He was the last but for the Secretary, and when she looked at him, he wondered. Would it be worth the effort?
What did he have to lose?
He sidled over.
“Can I get you a drink?” he asked. “I’ve had a few too many, so maybe at the end of the night, or when they kick us out, whichever comes first, you could make sure I’m safety lifted onto a branch and not left down here with all the guards.” He shuddered at the memory of cats with their eyes glowing moving from perimeter to boundary and around the outside of the pub, in groups of three and four, prowling and mrowling and caterwauling.
“Of course,” she cooed. “I think I need a good stiff drink, but I can’t. Not allowed. My role…” she fluffed her silky dove-feathers. “Well, not allowed, but I’d like to.”
“What did you know about what happened today?” Cocky asked. “You know, the abdication, the resignation, the… rest of it?”
“I was called in at the last minute,” she said. “The usual Secretary, Owl, called me to beg the favour. Yesterday. No, the day before. I knew nothing. I know nothing.” She leaned in close. “I’m Grey Dove, by the way.”
“Yes, I got your name for the minutes. Nice to meet you, Cocky. You have a lovely crest.”
Cocky almost forgot himself as he preened at her words. But there were important issues to discuss. And if Dove was a last-minute stand-in, what happened to Owl? And why were the numbers so low this time?
“Do you have a count for the invitations?” he asked her.
“Oh, yes,” she said, “but Cat ordered they not be disclosed until the minutes are published. Is that standard procedure?” She nodded her head, shook it, cooed. “It’s not, is it?” She looked around to ensure they were alone. “We’re in trouble, aren’t we?”
Cocky had to nod. They were in trouble. Not just birds, not just Air.
The secrets being kept told him more than he wanted. Cat had allies, and no one else did. If a request for ally was refused, were they the creatures Cat moved onto the lists of the uninvited, the ones who became extinct? Was that how he got to this point?
All those years, the complacency, the payments, everyone considering they were safe and well-ruled, and now… Well, what now?
Who could stop him?
“Do you know what the Puzzle is? What the Test will be?” he asked, not expecting a response.
“Oh, of course,” Dove said. “I wrote it up on the way here. I thought it was a test of my capability, and not that it would actually happen. Not at all.”
Grey Dove pulled out the notes from under her fluffy-feathered wings. “There’s other stuff here, too. Notes about refusing to accept questions without notice – very bad form, you know. And you should see that list – twenty-seven delegates lodged questions without notice.” She waggled her tail at him. “Would you like to come up to my nest to see them?”
Now, what sensible cocky could refuse that?
“Your name is on one of those questions,” she said as she waggled her tail. “But your question seems to be so similar to the others, and that makes me think he knew about it, and prepared for it, and if your name is on his list…”
Cocky crested. Being on any list created by Cat was not good news.
Copyright Cage Dunn 2017, NaNoWriMo-er.