Merry Christmas and Happy Howlidays, shapeshifter lovers.
Discontent continues in Talbot Peak, interrupting holiday festivities. Here's the latest in the saga, starring Zerlo and his cousin, Dilesco.
Note: While this flash scene does not mention it, Zerlo and Dilesco are really looking forward to the holiday festivities taking place at the Interspecies Pleasure Club -- especially the swing-band celebration at the Midnight Stardust Supperclub.
Ram Firefighters, the Burning of Licences
Zerlo, ram shapeshifter and voluntary firefighter in Talbot Peak, double-checked the wiring for the town's holiday lighting. Finished, he flipped his tools onto his electrician's belt, then gave a nod to his cousin, indicating all was good on his end.
Dilesco, also a voluntary firefighter, tested the long strings of lights that would be used to decorate the shop facades, and the town square's Christmas tree. "Lookin' good this year. No problems. At least, not so far."
The commotion across the way grabbed Zerlo's attention. "It ain't lookin' too good in front of the mayor's office, though. Folks have been protesting for the last several days. Asking questions the mayor won't answer."
"Heard Gilbert on that wack-a-mole morning show, tryin' to explain." Dilesco spoke as he put his tools away. "I'd say it's a tyranny of good intentions. If we didn't have our own family spread in the mountain range, I'd be putting my house up for sale."
"Lots of FOR SALE signs going up. From what I've seen. Heard the other day Dante bought a farm town and is fixin' it up for folks who want to move." Zerlo sauntered closer to the gathering crowd, Dilesco keeping pace.
"Can't say I'm surprised. The mayor's riled a lot of folks, and they got a good reason." Dilesco snorted his aggravation at the situation. "Sure as heck, I was looking forward to a holly jolly Christmas, all the celebrations. Bringing our nieces and nephews into town. Now..."
Zerlo felt more than saw his cousin shake his head. His dark curly mane of hair, along with his beefcake physique, was the envy of many. Given their resemblance was strong, except for Zerlo's light brown locks, jealousy wasn't an issue between them. Besides, they'd grown up together, and always watched each other's backs— whether as rams, or while in human form.
"Yep, me too. The kids lookin' at the Christmas lights...can't beat it." Thinking about alternative fun for his nieces and nephews, Zerlo added, "Wonder if they're makin' plans at the Pleasure Club for the kids?"
"I know there was a Christmas Angel play my sis took her two to. I'd bet festivities are being planned. Hey, what are those pieces of paper everyone's waving?"
"Don't know. Let's find out. There's Kalindi. Let's ask her."
"I know one thing," Dilesco spoke as they crossed Main street, "that Norse goddess-angel hybrid won't tolerate any scat from the mayor."
"Gonna be a lot of sad kids if she moves her ice cream shop out of the Peak, though...Kalindi," Zerlo hailed as he quickened his pace.
The beauty turned to face them. "What's going on?" Zerlo asked.
"A group of us business owners are fed up. That's what." Lightning owned the depths of Kalindi's eyes. "We've been paying our fair share all this time. Now we've been sold out to the state regulators by Cracked Filbert Gilbert."
Obviously infuriated, Kalindi waved what Zerlo observed to be her business license. "Not only that all of our computer systems have been repeatedly compromised, and hacked by gov operatives. It's like Kitty explained. Dante doesn't have a large enough team to keep the town's cyber system protected."
"Hell unleashed, son, it's more than that," Keirnan O'Malley—a wolf shifter, and owner of O'Malley's Gin Joint—boomed in his quiet way, "Gilbert has exposed all of us to enemies determined to eliminate every shifter-supernatural one of us. In the entire world." Keirnan shook his head. "Don't know what got into that squirrel-man. But somethin's got him by the tail."
"Get a barrel," someone shouted. "Let's burn these licences."
"Right. Burn them. Let's back Mary Lou," someone else yelled. "She had the guts to tear up her license."
"Hold on...hold on," Zerlo called out as he threaded his way to the front of the crowd. "If you're going to burn anything in a barrel, let me and my cousin handle it. We're trained, right?"
"Right," echoed slowly through crowd that was enlarging by the minute.
"Got the perfect barrel. Back of my place," Keirnan hollered. "Couple of you big guys, come with me."
"Okay, everyone," Dilesco raised his hands high, "get your licences ready, and anything else paper you want to burn. But let's make sure this stays peaceful."
"Peaceful but powerful," Kalindi shouted, the force of her being in her words.
"Yeah, we'll do it peaceful like," Stephanos, the wolf-lion hybrid who ran a custom motorcycle shop, thundered his voice over the crowd's shouts. "But I'm outta here, as of Saturday. Folks, Dante is helpin' a bunch of us move. Those of you who don't already know about this, if you want on this train, I'll make arrangements for you."
"One helluva Christmas present from the mayor," Ben, a bear shifter and a local farmer, grumbled loudly. "I promised the cubs we'd come into town for the tree lighting, for Santa... then, do some gift shopping. Now I've gotta break that promise."
"I know what you mean," many of those present spoke up, sympathizing with Ben.
As he watched the crowd at large, Zerlo observed Sozchy, the Love Wolfess, lean over and whisper in Ben's ear. He had to believe at this point that the wolfess shifter—who had her own popular 'love advice' radio show—told Ben about other holiday festivities for children.
Dilesco gave him an elbow jab to the ribs. "We'll have to talk to Sozchy later."
"Yep. Keep in her sight, will ya?"
"Better," Dilesco motioned to her, "Sozchy, can I speak with you a moment?"
While his cousin spoke privately with Sozchy, Zerlo supervised the placement of the barrel. Within minutes, he ignited the fire safely. As the blaze leaped hungrily, a humongous YAY! filled the wintry-cool air.
"Okay, everyone," Sozchy called out. "Why don't we all line up and burn these babies." She triumphantly held up her broadcasting license, waving it like a battle flag.
"Instead of a tree lighting, it's a license lighting!" Kalindi rebelliously yelled.
"Hey, where's my lunch trade?" Chewie, the NYC rat shifter and cook, emerged from his restaurant kitchen.
"Gone with the flames in the barrel, looks like," one of his regulars answered as he stared out the front window.
"What's with the poetic reference to "Gone With the Wind"?" Chewie followed his stomach to the window. Seeing two of the town's voluntary fireman standing on either side of a large steel barrel, he stopped dead in his tracks. A thin trail of smoke rose skyward as a group of townsfolk passed, one-by-one, in front of the firefighters. They dropped in pieces of paper from what he could observe. Afterward, many of them dusted their hands in a gesture of good riddance.
"Holy freakin' toledo, what's goin' on here?" Chewie thrust open the door. Ever since that spoiled-brat feline, Kitty, had spread her damn, fortune-reader flyers around town, he'd been persona non grata in many circles. More importantly, his clientele had decreased significantly.
"Are you burning your business license too?" Sozchy asked too sweetly. Not waiting for a reply, she smirked at Chewie as she passed by.
"Dante thinks he's gonna win this game, that know-it-all alpha don't know who he's messin' with...I got effing connections." Chewie nearly slammed the door closed.
"I dunno, Chewie. You already got an IRS audit happening," the regular whispered. "Lots of folks are leaving town. Hear tell, the know-it-all alpha has a new town waitin' for 'em. Means business will be down..."
"Yeah?" Chewie arched his brows mockingly. "Just means the more businesses move out of town, the less competition I got. Think I'm gonna make a call to the country fire marshal. They must be breakin' some regulation."
Chewie paused in his steps as the tall drink of water, with shoulders the size of the Montana sky, rose from one of the restaurant's back tables. Chewie knew the man had polished off two helpings of the lunch special.
"Mighty fine fare, Mr. Chewie. Let me introduce myself. I'm Sheriff Roy Lawrence Ramroth. I was just elected the next county over. Now, I don't believe you'll get much response from the fire marshal. My two nephews, Zerlo and Dilesco, are the firemen on either side of that burning barrel. Far as I understand it, no codes are being broken."
The Sheriff swept his Stetson on. "But you go ahead." Roy smiled in a friendly fashion. "I wouldn't want any citizen to be hampered in his reportin' of a non law-abiding citizen. Now you have a good day...Mr. Chewie. Money for the bill is on the table."
Wishing you love and passion on the wild side ~
Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance