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Animal Turns

Animal Turns For some time now I've thought it might be a good idea to put together a collection of my stories that feature ani...

Wednesday, 10 June 2020

Taking the Tablet!




My grandson was stilll not convinced that Packham had properly understood the nature of the virus in the last story "The Walrus and the Aunteater", so I decided to  have one last go.  I couldn't see much humorous potential in this, but it turned out I was wrong!





In the warming rays of the mid-morning sunshine, Packham stretched out on the decking.  A gentle breeze played over his fur, happily keeping him from getting too hot.  

This was definitely Packham’s favourite spot to snooze.  In the distance he could hear the bleating of the sheep and the goats as they grazed in the field beyond.  Behind him came the insistent quacking of one or more of the small ducks as they bickered and bustled around the yard. Geese honked with annoyance whenever anyone got too close to them, which was most of the time, and hens clucked and pecked contentedly just about everywhere.

 It was the usual background noise at TURN Education and he normally found he could doze peacefully through it all, except for this morning.  Amidst the bleating and the quacking, the honking and the clucking, he could hear a regular set of growls, each growl followed by a dragging noise.  Packham debated whether to look up and see what was causing it but decided he was happier dozing and not knowing.

After a short while, the growls and dragging came steadily closer to where Packham was sunbathing.  He felt something being dropped beside him, followed by a short ‘woof’ that could only come from India.  Packham opened one eye and stared, with a degree of annoyance, at his companion.

“Wha’ you want?”  He murmured, sleepily.

“Brought you something” India replied.

Packham made the effort to open his eye again and looked at what lay at India’s paws.  It was a magazine, or, more accurately, what was left of a magazine after it had been dragged out of the house and across the yard by a Labrador.

“Not interested, can’t read” Packham dismissed the offering and tried to go back to sleep.

“You don’t need to read it” India explained, “it’s a picture”

Packham opened both eyes and yawned loudly.  Stretching all his limbs as far as they would go, he reluctantly sat up and regarded his young companion.

“Picture?  You’ve woken me up for a picture?  You know how much I need my mid-morning snooze!”

“It’s important” India pushed the open magazine toward Packham, “you see that thing there?”  India’s nose touched a picture of a round object covered in little spikes, the whole thing was displayed in a disturbing mix of purples and dark blues.

“Ooh, that looks nasty” Packham’s nose twitched in disapproval, “what is it?”

“That,” said India, triumphantly, “is what’s causing people to be ill.  It’s called a ‘virus’”

“A ’virus’?”

“Yep, Flynn was just telling me about it” India looked very superior.

“Not a walrus?”

“Absolutely not!”  India smirked.

“What’s a walrus, then?” Packham was not convinced.

“Oh, for goodness sake!  Hang on a minute, but get ready to run, ok?”  India trotted off back into the house.  

“Run?  What do you mean, ‘run’?”  Packham shouted after her but no answer came.

He was just about to settle down to resume his snooze when he heard a major commotion break out.  Seconds later, India came bounding out with something metallic in her mouth.  She skidded to a halt in front of Packham and lowered her prize carefully onto the decking before him.

“See that picture there?  That’s a walrus!”  India panted.

Packham could see a large gingery-brown creature with ripples of fat, huge whiskers and even larger tusks.  The whole appearance was quite startling and made him jump back.  Back in the house, the dogs could hear another conversation taking place.

                “MUM!”

                “What?”

                “India’s run off with my iPad!”

                “SHE’S WHAT??”

“Oh no, you haven’t taken Flynn’s iPad?  You’re going to be in so much trouble!”  Packham warned.
“It was the only way I could show you what a walrus looked like.  Flynn had been showing me”

“Oh, Flynn had been showing you, had he?”  Packham asked huffily.  He liked to think that Flynn confided only in him.

                “INDIA, WHERE ARE YOU?”

“I told you, you would get in trouble” Packham smirked.

                “PACKHAM, COME HERE THIS MINUTE!”

“Ha!  Not just me, then.” India giggled, “come on, we’d better make a run for it”

“Bottom of the field” Packham panted as he and India bounded away, “we’ll hide under the hedge until this all blows over”

Moments later they were safely tucked under the hedgerow, peering cautiously through the branches to see if they could spot anyone in the distance.

“So, where does Maxine come into all of this ‘virus’ thingy?”  Packham asked, in a way that implied he wasn’t all that interested really.

“There is no ‘Maxine’, you silly old dog!  You misunderstood.  It’s a ‘vaccine’ they’re looking for”

“’Vaccine’?  What’s one of them?”  Packham hated being in the wrong.

“Well, you were mostly right before…” India began.

“See!  Told you!” Packham responded, smugly.

“It is about putting a little, harmless, version of the virus into you, sort of.  That way your body knows how to fight it if the real thing comes along.”

“The Aunties!”  Packham nodded.

“No, it’s nothing to do with Aunties but I’m not really sure what does it”

“Hah, now who’s silly, eh?”

“But, I think you’ve got like these little super-hero type things in your body and when something nasty turns up, they fly in and get rid of it for you”

“I think I preferred the idea of Aunties” Packham huffed, “what about if you’ve already got this virus inside you?  What can they do about that?”

“Well, you know those sticky-up things we saw on the ‘virus’?”
 
“Yes, I didn’t like the look of them” Packham shivered.

“Well, they think if you could gum them up, somehow, that might stop the ‘virus’ making people so poorly.  That’s what they’re trying to find, something to do the ‘gumming up’, I think” India frowned as she tried to make sense of it all, which isn’t easy when you’re a dog.  “I know we’re involved.”

Packham turned to look at her, “What, you and me?”

“No, silly!  Labradors”

“Labradors are involved in finding something to stop this virus?”  Packham asked, disbelievingly.

“Yes, because Flynn said that Research Labs around the world were working on it”

“Well, I suppose that does make sense.  We are highly intelligent.”  Packham thought it over for a bit before continuing, “I still don’t see how people catch this virus.  I mean, it’s easily as big as the walrus.  You would see it coming from miles away!”

“Ah, no, that’s where you’re wrong!”  India shook her head, vigorously, making her ears flap wildly.  “Flynn explained that to me.  That picture shows what the ‘virus’ would look like if it was really, really big.  Actually, it’s so tiny, you can’t see it, which is why it can creep up on people and get inside them”

“Gosh! Makes your fur creep to think about it, doesn’t it?”  Packham looked around, warily, as if expecting a spiked blue and purple thing to come bounding out of the branches around them.

“Yeah, you can see why people have been keeping a long way from each other, can’t you?”  India nodded, “because you never know who might have the ‘virus’”

“Can’t be a lot of fun being people at the moment”

“No, there’s a lot to be said for being a Labrador right now” India agreed. “Especially if you’re a Research Lab helping them find a cure”

                “PACKHAM! INDIA! WHERE ARE YOU?”

“But, perhaps not exactly RIGHT NOW!” Packham ducked down as low as he could and tried to blend into the hedge.

“We can’t hide in here forever” India said, glumly, as she tried to shuffle down into the leaves and twigs.

“Oh, I don’t know.  We could give it a try” Packham whispered, “anyway, I don’t see why I’m in trouble, I haven’t done anything wrong!”

“Well, I wouldn’t have had to bring you those pictures if you hadn’t gone on about Pandas, Walruses and Maxines” India grumbled.

“I don’t think I was that far wrong, really” Packham suggested, rather optimistically. “Hey, you know how you could get out of trouble, don’t you?”

“How?” India asked, suspiciously.

“You could tell them…”  He started to giggle uncontrollably, “…you could tell them you were just taking a tablet for the virus!”  Packham roared with laughter and ended up on his back with all four legs pointing upward, tail wagging furiously.

“Boys are just so silly!”  India snapped, but couldn’t stop her tail wagging too.

You can find a lot more of Philip's fiction in the brand new book 'A Dubious Undertaking and other stories' available now for just 99p - and FREE on Kindle Unlimited :-)

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