BC: Copyright Rhino Publishing Los Angeles, December 2013
2: Meet Grimsby. He lives with his folks in the small Canadian town on the Niagara Peninsula that he was named after: Grimsby, Ontario. Not much happens around here, but Grimsby is content with his daily routine of morning walks and short trips to the bank and General store. As long as he's doing his lifelong job of protecting his owner from danger, Grimsby is happy.
3: Meet Seaward. She shares the house with Grimsby and their folks on 17 Chester Lane. Seaward is an indoor cat: "No Go-ey Outside-y" She is an overweight self-indulgent sarcastic feline who's motto is "Live to be Served". She has a penchant for tuna and liver smoothies and is currently on a fat farm diet, much to her dismay.
4: It's a warm summer evening and the end of another uneventful day. Seaward has given up her tug of war with the ball of yarn and Grimsby basks in the warm light of computer solitaire. The old gal watches a 1950's sci-fi flick on TV, the clacking of her knitting needles pausing now and then for the more dramatic scenes. "Shall we put Peabody to bed?" she asks her husband, "I need to leave a note for the milkman."
5: The elderly couple cross the grass to a coop in the corner of the backyard when a beam of light suddenly shines down on them from above. The milk bottles start floating and then the couple float up as well. "What the Sam Hill---?!" And then they are gone. The milk bottles drop back to the grass below. A lone peacock watches mutely from his cage as the light cuts out and a saucer like disc spins off into the night sky.
6: Grimsby awoke next morning to the usual cheerful voice of his owner, "Rise and shine, Grimsby! Breakfast!" Grimsby trotted off to the kitchen to eat. But the kitchen was empty. Then the old boy's voice called, "Grimsby! Here boy! Walkies!" But when Grimsby got to the front hall there was no one there. "Ding Dong! Ding Dong! Who is it? Milkman!" continued the voice. "What in the world is going on," wondered Grimsby.
7: Grimsby followed the voice into the darkened parlor and up to a metal stand. The voice was coming from inside the covered cage, punctuated here and there by a little bell. Grimsby pulled the cover off to reveal Foley, an African Grey parrot. "You're not mother". "No kidding", replied Grimsby. Seaward wandered in and yawned. "What's going on?" she asked. "The folks," said Grimsby, alarmed. "They seem to be missing!"
8: "Missing?" Seaward's eyes narrowed. "I bet I know exactly what happened here!" And in a dark tale of air conditioner malfunctions, UPS delivery men and utility fires, Seaward proceeded to describe a series of unlikely events that resulted in the elderly couple fleeing town and heading to Thunder Bay... "Or Sudbury, depending on how much gas was in the UPS truck," she finished.
9: Just then, footsteps came up the back porch. "They're home!" brightened Grimsby. But it was only Peabody joining the fray. "Face it," Seaward clutched her throat melodramatically, "We've been abandoned! And when the authorities find out, they'll send us to the POUND!" The pets gasped in horror! "Rabies!" choked Grimsby. "Drafts!" wheezed Seaward. "Molt" hacked Foley. Peabody made strangling noises.
10: Just then there came a familiar metal clatter of the front mail slot opening. The pets turned in unison. Several nondescript white envelopes slid through the slot. Then a single government envelope with its official looking green check showing through the plastic window slid to the mat. Grimsby picked it up, a big grin on his face. "This," he announced, "is our meal ticket. It's the folks' pension check! Our biscuits are saved!"
11: Seaward was unconvinced. "How?" Grimsby waved the envelope around nonchalantly. "We just take it to the bank like the folks do every month." "They let dogs in the bank?" Foley asked. Grimsby's face fell. "It helps if you're human," he replied. "Or..." came a strange voice, "You could just do your banking online." "Who said that?" asked Grimsby. "I'm Carractis Reptillius Mellinomus Humidore. You can call me Mel."
12: The voice belonged to a chameleon in a terrarium next to the old boy's computer. Grimsby said, "I never noticed you before." "I tend to blend in," replied Mel. At these words he color shifted to become the same pattern as the Miriam's dictionary on the desk behind him. The pets murmured with awe. "As I was saying," Mel color shifted back, " We can solve our problem by doing our banking online. Just grab that mouse." Seaward shoved it in her mouth. "I've had worse..." she mumbled.
13: A day later, a UPS truck pulled up outside 17 Chester Lane with several boxes from the local pet store. The good news was that Mel's online solution worked. The bad news was that a signature was required. But with a little creative thinking the pets were able to work around it. The driver got his signature and the gang got their boxes of food. "Boo Yah! Who wants to play some reindeer games?!" yelled Seaward happily.
14: Things were going swimmingly, but Grimsby thought it would be wise to stick to routine, so he made his daily trip to the General Store for the morning newspaper. The old timers were on the front porch playing Cribbage as usual. "I haven't seen ol' Ed and the Missus lately," one of them drolled, "I was thinking of asking Officer Bob to cruise on over to 17 Chester to take a look see." "Now what?" thought Grimsby, and made a bee-line for home.
15: Officer Bob and his partner Pat pulled up to the curb outside of 17 Chester Lane that night, but there was nothing out of the ordinary. Ol' Ed and the Missus could be seen through the front window sitting on their rocking chairs as usual. One of them raised a hand to wave. The two policemen waved back. "Let's go to Tim Horton's and grab some Tim-bits. I'm buying," said Officer Bob and they drove off.
16: Inside the house was a different story. Lamps and pillows were carefully arranged on rocking chairs to represent the missing owners. Yellow latex gloves had been attached to the ends of straightened coat-hangers to give the impression of arms. Grimsby pushed one rocking chair and Seaward pushed the other. But after the policemen left it evolved into a slapping match. "Stop hitting yourself! Stop hitting yourself!" "Would you quit it?" Grimsby complained.
17: Grimsby's daily routine continued and good thing! The old coots at the General Store were playing their usual round of Cribbage. "Now I'm not sayin' it's strange" one of the old timers was musing as he looked over his cards, "I'm just sayin' it's odd. Here it is comin' up two weeks and there ain't been hide nor hair of laundry hanging out at 17 Chester!" He paused to examine his cards. "Who's crib is it?"
18: Grimsby high-tailed it home. Three hours later 17 Chester was sporting the contents of every drawer, cupboard and storage chest in the house. From the second story window, Grimsby fed out everything from baby clothes to wedding dresses, RCMP uniforms to Australian flags, doilies, bibs, long johns, tea-cozies and swimming suits, not to mention every sock in the house.
19: Another trip past the General Store a few weeks later revealed that the old timers had an eye to the calendar. "Here it is nigh on the eve of Canada Day and 17 Chester is as dark as a tomb. It ain't like Ol' Ed to let a Holiday like this go past without a hiccup." Grimsby bee-lines for home again. "Mel! Google Holidays!"
20: Back at the General Store gossip mill, it's come to notice that 17 Chester has let its grass grow longer than normal. Grimsby trots the old lawn mower from the garage but none of them know how to work it. Then Grimsby remembers the flock of sheep that the Vicar keeps next to the Baptist church. All goes well until the neighbours wake the next morning and find sheep in their vegetable patch!
21: All is well and fine for the rest of the pets, but Grimsby really missed the folks. He noticed a lost cat flier that the old gal picked up on one of their walks a few months back and asked Mel how he was with desk top publishing. They cranked out a few LOST posters and Grimsby took them around town and hung them as best as he can. Unfortunately he only put them up about two feet off the ground, which was all he could reach.
22: Grimsby returned happy only to find that the house had been taken over by more UPS deliveries. "What is all this stuff?" "Keep your collar on," replied Seward, "It's just a few trifles! This month's check just got deposited online." Grimsby blanched, "You spent it all on JUNK? What about the BILLS?!" Seaward rolled her eyes. "Don't get your tennis balls in a knot. No one will notice!"
23: Meanwhile, in an Ontario Hydro building that evening, a tired accountant was packing up for the night. He took one last look at his monitor as he pulled on his jacket when he noticed something on the screen. He squinted his eyes. The DUE column on one of the addresses had switched to OVERDUE and began to flash. He took a closer look at the address: 17 Chester Lane. He sighed... a flipped a switch.
24: Inside 17 Chester Lane the lights went out. From the upstairs bathroom came the sound of a shower squeaking to a dry stop. Peabody trudged down the stairs in a damp towel to find out what was going on. "Someone noticed," said Grimsby. Seaward shrugged. "We still have the original pension check. We just need to take it to the bank. And by "we" I mean "you". I'm an indoor cat, remember?" "Yeah yeah," sighed Grimsby, "No Go-ey Outside-y."
25: Grimsby figured all they needed was a little subterfuge so he got Seaward to sign the check because she can write. "C is for Cat, D is for D'uh" grinned Seaward. "Foley can talk, and I know the way to the bank," said Grimsby. "And Peabody can man the rollerskates." Peabody nodded his head. A little rummaging in the attic and the troop was ready to hit the pavement. "No one will give us a second glance!"
26: Outside the bank they halted. "Are you sure about this?" asked Grimsby. "It's simple," said Foley. "You say the magic words and they give you the money. No questions asked." They went into the bank and stood in front of the teller. "Next in line please" said the teller. Grimsby maneuvered the dummy into place. Foley nudged the check onto the counter. The teller picked it up. Then Foley said the magic words: "This is a stick up! Gimme all your cash!"
27: Alarm bells explode shrilly inside the bank. Patrons hit the floor. The teller ducks under the counter. Policemen crash through the bank doors, pistols drawn. Bullets fly as the dressmaker's dummy careens down the bank steps and across the street. Bullets knock the straw hat off of Foley's head as the dummy rolls across the sidewalk into traffic. The police run past as the dummy comes to rest at a sidewalk sale featuring fall fashions. No one looked twice at the dog and the parrot walking home amid the chaos.
28: "Where's the money?" demanded Seaward when they got home. "Cagney here didn't have photo ID" Grimsby growled toward Foley. "You dirty rat!" returned Foley. They were interrupted by voices on the front lawn. With the mortgage unpaid and the power off, the Bank had decided to foreclose on the house and a moving company had arrived to empty its contents. The pets barricaded themselves in using empty UPS boxes.
29: Seaward panicked and threw open the fridge in an eating frenzy. Grimsby tried to stop her. "What are you doing? This is no time to binge eat!" "Shut up and hand me that jar of pickled herrings!" she hissed. The pets tried to hide but Grimsby decided to take one for the team. "Hand me that can of whipped cream!" The movers arrived in the kitchen and were met with a white hot ball of snarling canine terror! "Un chien rabid!" they shouted, and reached for their cell phones.
30: The Animal Control truck arrived within minutes and soon Grimsby was collared and hauled off to (shudder) The Pound. Alone in a cold bare cage he awaited his fate. The sound of howling dogs echoed in the corridors. Grimsby didn't care what happened to him. He'd failed to protect his owners and he'd failed to protect his home and house-mates. What good was he to anyone, he wondered, and closed his eyes.
31: Meanwhile back at the house, Grimsby's trick had worked. The movers left in a panic and the pets came out of hiding. Seaward surveyed the bright orange Animal Control warning stuck to the front door, complete with a map to the local facility. "Who wants to take the Packard out for a spin?" she asked. "You know how to drive?" asked Mel in surprise. "How hard can it be?" she retorted. "It's just slightly more complicated than an electric can opener."
32: But even more surprises were in store. Strange lights had been spotted in the sky above Lake Ontario and a local station had picked up the story on the evening news. "We've had reports of an Unidentified Flying Object entering Canadian airspace tonight and although the authorities have issued a statement denying that we may be facing a possible alien invasion, local city officials are advising people to stay inside and lock their doors until further notice. We now go live to our man on the scene."
33: The guard on duty was watching the news with rapt attention, as the anchor woman's image was replaced by grainy home video footage of a saucer-like disc with two silhouettes inside. The figures looked eerily human. Meanwhile, Seaward and the gang had launched their own invasion, rescuing Grimsby from a date with a lethal injection. On their way out, Peabody "accidentally" pecked the buttons that opened all the cages in the facility. "Who let the dogs out? Who? Who? Who?!"
34: While Seaward was managing to steer the Packard back towards town, the National Guard was deploying a fleet of jets to investigate the alien vessel that was making a bee line towards the town of Grimsby. The pilots tried to get a closer look but something was jamming their controls. Grimsby looked out the window of the car and squinted at the UFO. Those shapes inside looked so familiar... "I think it's THE FOLKS!" Seaward slammed on the brakes. "What's the plan?!"
35: Down at the ol' General Store, the old coots had gathered around the radio when suddenly every light in town went out. "I think that UFER's put the kibosh on the electricals! Saw it in a movie once! Mebbe we need to take this into our own hands!" But the pets were one step ahead of them. With the town in darkness, the UFO was going to need a landing strip. Grabbing every solar light the could lay their paws on, the pets raced to the park in the center of town.
36: The boys from the General store headed for the park as well, but with the plan of shooting the UFO out of the sky using the old cannon in front of the WWI Memorial. Seaward and the others raced to plant the runway lights while Grimsby wrestled the cannon out of the old coots hands just in time for the UFO to come blazing into sight, weaving and wobbling and throwing up a blinding green light. "Look out, everyone! Hit the dirt!"
37: It was close, but the vessel managed to come screeching down for a crash landing in the grass, skidding along between the solar lights before coming to a grinding halt at the end of the park. The group watched in amazement as the figures that emerged from the wreckage turned out to be human after all. Somewhere around Alpha Centauri, the folks had managed to overpower their alien abductors using a pair of knitting needles and some quick wit and had made their way back to the milky way... and HOME!
38: With the folks back home again, things returned to normal. With a few interesting exceptions. Grimsby asked Seaward on one of their daily walks, "I thought you were an indoor cat. 'No Go-ey Outside-y'?" "A little fresh air never hurt anyone," she replied. As for the folks, their little adventure into outer space had put a spring in their step that they hadn't felt in years. Grimsby had a feeling they were going to be around for a long time to come. And that made his tail wag.
39: the end