Invisible Paint Brushes rock Circulation: 185,044,774 Issue: 492 | 29th day of Eating, Y13
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The Plushie Intruder

by lastavenger


Thank you to Jay and Striki for the inspiration. ^_^

Striki had been charged with watching the garden. It was an odd task for a Darigan Kougra, perhaps, as Darigan Kougras were more often found guarding dark towers than bright flowers. Yet Striki accepted her charge eagerly. Protecting things was one of her favorite responsibilities, one that she took on with pride and determination.

     She chose a post on the railing of the gazebo, where she had a good view of the entire garden. Stretching out in the warm sun, she set about cleaning a paw, trusting that her keen senses would alert her to any danger to the flowers. The minutes ticked past and the sun’s hot rays soaked into her fur. She rolled onto her back, balancing precariously, and allowed her eyes to close momentarily. Her nose and ears trembled every so often to catch any unusual scents or sounds.

     Of course, even the most watchful Kougra would fall victim to the sleepiness created by a couple of hours of basking in the sun, and Striki was no exception. The next thing she knew, she was waking in the sudden coolness of a shadow cast by the roof of the gazebo, a result of the shifting of the sun. Blinking sleepily, she rolled to her paws, stretching and yawning widely, and tried to remember where she was and why.

     Then her nose began to twitch, picking up a scent. It was the most curious scent, familiar yet strange. Some odd being, it seemed, had invaded the garden during her nap.

     Sitting, the end of her tail twitching, Striki tried to remember where she knew that scent from. Fabric. That is what the smell was. Fabric and stitching. Striki’s whiskers quivered. A plushie. It had to be a plushie. Somewhere, amongst the flowers, there was hiding a plushie.

     Striki loved plushies. She kept a collection of old ones that she spent long hours lovingly chewing. A few were missing arms or legs, or had loose buttons or stitches, but she adored them to pieces nonetheless. It didn’t cross her mind to think of how this one might have gotten into the garden. All she knew was that she had to find it.

     Sniffing wildly, she tried to determine where, exactly, this plushie was hiding. The scent told her it was somewhere off to her right. Leaping down from the railing, she pushed her way lightly between the flowers and began her search.

     The scent was getting stronger. Crouching amongst the plants, she closed in on her prey. Only when she heard a rustling in the leaves did she pause, ears and nose twitching some more, trying to determine what had caused the movement.

     The leaves rustled again. Striki was confused. No fresh scent reached her nose; she could not determine what this new disturbance was. Straightening, she peered above the flowers, trying to catch a glimpse of the intruder.

     A purple, pink and orange striped tail waved above the flowers. Striki tensed, her eyes widening. It was the plushie. A soft, cuddly, purple, Kougra plushie. And it was moving.

     A new excitement ran through her. Never before had she met a plushie that was alive. Surely, it would be even more enjoyable to chew on.

     Thrilled now that she knew her target, Striki crouched down once more and continued to close the distance between them.

     The Kougra plushie bounced through the flowers ahead of her, oblivious to her imminent doom. Striki’s tail swished eagerly back and forth. The plushie was almost within pouncing distance.

     Then, suddenly, the Kougra plushie bounded out of the flowers. Striki, though annoyed, kept her composure, continuing to move slowly after her. Ever so cautiously, she stuck her nose out from between the petals, her eyes searching out the plushie.

     There she was, crouched under a flower, looking upwards in the most curious manner. It appeared she was stalking some prey of her own. In spite of herself, Striki had to look to see what the plushie’s target was. She found she was watching a little yellow-orange butterfly, flapping its wings delicately as it clung to a petal.

     Pausing, Striki sat, the end of her tail twitching, a discontented, baffled look on her face. What did this plushie think she was doing, chasing her butterflies in her garden? Why was she chasing butterflies anyway? What fun could there be in that? They were so little and thin; they could hardly be enjoyable to chew on.

     A flutter of movement at the corner of her vision drew Striki away from her pondering. It was another butterfly, alighting on a nearby flower. Deciding she might as well attempt to discover what the plushie found so fascinating about these creatures, she lowered herself to the ground, stalking her new target.

     Moving one paw at the time, she gradually closed in. Her tail darted to and fro, her eyes locked on the butterfly’s quiet wings, and her muscles tensed, ready to pounce.

     Then something struck her tail.

     Wheeling around, her face twisting into a disgruntled expression, she arched her back, puffing up threateningly as she faced her attacker. She deflated almost immediately. It was the plushie Kougra, Striki’s tail trapped beneath her paw, her curious purple eyes locked on its pointed tip.

     Before she could react, the plushie pounced away again, this time after the butterfly Striki had been stalking.

     Striki, too confused to be annoyed, watched her bound away. She sat there for the longest while, flicking her tail, considering this new development. Finally, she rose to her paws and padded after the plushie.

     For a while, she followed the plushie Kougra through the garden, watching her bat and pounce at butterflies. Gradually, the day wore on, and before long, the plushie yawned and stretched and abandoned its chase. Plodding sleepily into a thick clump of flowers, she curled up between them, her nose buried in her tail, and drifted, purring, off to sleep.

     Now was the perfect time to strike, Striki knew. And yet, as tempting as it was to sneak up on the plushie and nibble contentedly on her ears and paws, she couldn’t bring herself to do it.

     She sat there watching the plushie until the sky began to darken and the lightmites came out to illuminate the night with their tiny lanterns. Then, knowing that her watch was soon to be over, she rose and returned to her post on the gazebo railing. There, she stretched out again, watching the flowers where she knew the plushie slept.

     Yes, Striki knew this Kougra was an intrusion and she knew her job was to keep intruders away. But perhaps her presence wasn’t such a bad thing. After all, what threat was a plushie to her garden? She chased the butterflies, sure, but she hadn’t caught a single one, and perhaps her presence would discourage others from them. Also, as much as Striki enjoyed her protective responsibilities, keeping watch was a lonely task. A little company wouldn’t do any harm. And what could possibly make a better companion than a plushie?

     Breathing deeply, she let the tasty smell of fabric and stuffing fill her nose. Yes, perhaps this plushie intruder wasn’t such a bad thing after all.

The End

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