Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The Cull

And to mark my return here's a short story that really came out of left field and has no connection to any of my other work. It was inspired by this rather surreal claim:

Badgers moved the goalposts

and listening to another writer reading their children's tale of talking animals; not to mention Die Hard and Wind in the  Willows...


The Cull

 The sight of a group of weasels in suits wandering through Whitehall might have been expected to draw attention but in truth one group of shifty, devious looking characters was much the same as another so security took them for a committee of MPs and let them go on unmolested, no point risking another ‘Plebgate’ after all. 

Fortunately the weasels in question were all supposed to be in this particular suite of offices. Whilst the prospect of lording it over humans, and the fantastic pension scheme, normally made the weasels feel as if they had found the keys to a Bernard Matthews poultry farm at this moment they were all reconsidering their collective decision to seek employment in the corridors of power, well in truth given the location of the offices the sewers of power might have been more accurate. With some trepidation they approached the door of the meeting room they were looking for and knocked softly; hoping that the party inside wouldn’t hear and they could scurry away. Their luck wasn’t in and a shrill voice called out “Come in!”

Waiting inside was another weasel; this one somewhat bigger in height and girth as well as being attired in a much more expensive suit. He was sat at one end of a long oak conference table and he looked even more vicious than weasels usually do. He sat silently glaring as the others took their seats; each trying to avoid the chairs next to the head of the table without being too obvious about doing so; paste experience had taught them that their superior’s bite was far worse than his bark. Finally the manoeuvring was done with and the unlucky losers took their place within arm’s reach (and claws and teeth) of their unhappy chief.

When the last sounds of shuffling and creaking chairs had died down the senior weasel spoke once more, “I take it you have this week’s badger cull update?”

More nervous glances were exchanged before the weasel at the far end of the table opened a briefcase and pulled out a sheaf of papers that were passed paw to paw until they reached the head of the table. Again silence descended as the head weasel read through them without any sign or reaction. It was an act of deliberate provocation and finally one of the more junior weasels lost his nerve, “As you can see sir it’s a big improvement on last week.”

The other weasels around the table leant back to avoid the heat of the glare the head weasel was focusing on the unfortunate junior, “An improvement how how exactly?”

Somehow the junior found the nerve to answer, or perhaps he was more afraid of staying silent, “Well sir the hunters did shoot a badger this week.”

The head weasel glanced at the papers, “Yes they did and included in this report is a strongly worded letter from the Natural History museum and a bill for the display case.”

“But it is sort of an improvement.” The junior weasel squeaked; too deep in it now to back out, “At least there was no repeat of that incident with the Newcastle United fans.”

“I am seeing one report of a civilian casualty.” The head badger tapped one of the pages ominously.

“Well sir he was wandering around Hampstead Heath in a badger costume at midnight so frankly he was asking for it.”

The head weasel almost asked why the man had been there but decided there were some things a weasel was better off not knowing, “So besides those what do we have? More unfortunate zebra crossings filled with potholes by and a number of the posters of badgers we put up to try and improve results blasted to shreds. It’s just not good enough gentlemen; questions will be asked in parliament.”

“We’re still making more progress than HS2.” One of the mid-level weasels pointed out; and immediately regretted it.

“Everybody is making more progress than HS2.” The head weasel snapped, “and in the long run the high speed rail link will probably kill more badgers!”

He was prevented from launching into a full scale tirade by the door of the meeting room crashing open and a very un-weasel like character stormed in. The senior weasel looked from the figure to the papers, which contained one of the recognition posters, and back again just to be sure, “A badger !” He cried.

The badge drew himself up; he was clad in combat pants and a vest; his face was streaked with some rather redundant camouflage paint and he was clutching a pump action shotgun, “So you’re the weasels behind the badger cull eh?”

The head weasel managed to respond while trying to slide slowly from his seat and under the table, “How did you find out? How did you get in here?”

“Let’s just say you really shouldn’t have hired two individuals called mole and ratty to work for you if you wanted to preserve your secrets.”

“What are you going to do?” The junior weasel squeaked; trying to slide under the table and being unable to do so owing to the crowd already there.

The badger smiled, “let me answer you with an old joke; what’s black and white and red all over?”
“A sunburnt penguin?” The junior weasel suggested feebly.

“No, a badger with a shotgun.”

The junior weasel looked puzzled, “But you’re not…” were the last words he spoke before he was drowned out by the repeated boom and click of the shotgun…


BTW if anyone can think of anywhere else I could submit/post this story I'd love to hear about it...

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