As Grimwald Stalkin walked out of the log cabin that he shared with his brother, his foot squelched ankle deep into a cold brown pile!
“Aahhhhh!” He roared with anger, shook his fist at the muck that now covered his boot, and kicked at it so hard that his foot slipped sharply on the slushy mixture of brown-streaked snow. Flipping up into the air, he came crashing down on the dung which now covered not only his right boot but the backs of his rough deer-skin trousers as well.
Such a terrible stream of words came out of his mouth that I cannot possibly write them down here. In fact I find myself blushing even at the thought of them.
If the truth be told then, from a very early age, Grimwald Stalkin had had anger issues. The slightest piece of bad luck would result in shouting and swearing usually followed by a punch or a kick thrown at some inanimate object. The result of this was that the object would either break or cause pain or injury to his hand or foot. This, in turn, would cause another fit of anger and then more punching or kicking and so it would go on until the offending object was smashed to pieces or Grimwald had bruised his hands or feet so badly that he had to go back to bed.
Needless to say, bills for furniture repair were particularly high in the Stalkin household.
Yes indeed, it has to be said that Stalkins as a whole are not the best humoured of folk, but even among his grumpy kin, Grimwald was renowned for his bad temper.
“Greymalkin Stalkin!” He screamed in a rage so fierce that another two blood vessels burst into a network of fine, red lines on his lumpy nose. He struggled to stand up and almost slipped three or four times again in the process. When he was finally on his feet, he straightened the beaver skin hat on his bald head and shouted once more: “Greymalkin Stalkin!”
The door of the log cabin slammed open and an almost identical figure carrying a large shotgun burst out into the cold morning air. He came out of the cabin at such a speed that he completely missed the step outside the front door, slipped and fell straight onto his back.
His furious older brother was silenced as the shotgun went off with an almighty explosion and the shot smashed up through the porch roof of the cabin. The resulting avalanche of snow plopped down on top of Greymalkin leaving only his ruddy-cheeked, bald, bearded face exposed.
“Burn and blast it, Greymalkin Stalkin! What be you running round with a shotgun for! You could of killed us pair!” Grimwald Stalkin roared at his younger brother and yet another fine red line appeared on his huge nose.
“Blast and burn it, Grimwald Stalkin! You done shouted fit to pop an eye out. I thoughts you was a-being murdered out ‘ere! What in boiling blood done ‘appened?” Greymalkin Stalkin roared back at his elder sibling as he struggled up.
“I done trod me in poopin!” Grimwald Stalkin pointed an accusing finger at the offending brown pile. “What in burning brimstone be poopin doing round ‘ereabouts?”
Greymalkin stood up, picked up his skunk skin hat and brushed the snow from his clothes. He walked over to stand opposite his brother and both slowly bent over until their large, red noses were centimetres away from the matter at hand. Simultaneously, they took a large, deep sniff, considered and looked up into the eyes of the other, then slowly stood up straight again.
“That be ‘orse poopin!” Greymalkin exclaimed.
“Aye and stripy ‘orse poopin to boot!” Agreed Grimwald. “What in blazing stinkweed be stripy ‘orse doin’ round these parts?!”
Both brothers studied the snow covered ground.
“Bain’t no tracks. It done snowed too deep last night. But that poopin be almost steaming fresh. Go grab me my Maisey Barrel, Greymalkin and be full of care with yorn that you don’t blast no more ‘oles in us roof!”
As his brother ran back into the cabin, Grimwald Stalkin grabbed a bag of chewing weed from his pocket. He shoved the last remaining handful of brown weed into his mouth and stood chewing thoughtfully whilst brushing his right boot back and forth in the snow to clean it. The empty bag slipped carelessly from his hand and drifted down to lay on the snow.
For those who have ever had any dealings with Stalkins, it is a well known fact that they are an incredibly messy people. It is easy to recognise a Stalkin cabin because the gardens, yards and land thereabouts are always strewn with rubbish of every kind.
In fact, the only reason that Rodriguez had not recognised this as Stalkin territory the night before was because of the snow which had covered the rotting heaps of garbage piled up outside the Stalkin brothers’ log cabin.
As well as being naturally untidy, they are a short, stocky and muscular folk. Very few Stalkins stand higher than four feet and most of the men (and not a few of the woman) go bald at a very early age and compensate by growing big, bushy beards. They have large, misshapen noses, ruddy red complexions and wild out-of-control eyebrows.
They also suffer terribly from a complaint that I will not go into here because even Stalkins deserve to maintain a little dignity. All I will say is that they often find it very painful to sit down and this is probably the main reason why most of them are just so angry all of the time.
They were a highly emotional people all round and this was reflected in their tastes. They were driven by their enormous appetites to taste everything that it was possible to taste. In fact, the only living creature that did not immediately appeal to a Stalkin’s taste buds was another Stalkin (and I dare say, given the right circumstances even this was a taboo that some would be willing to break).
This was probably the main reason why they were such expert hunters and although the Stalkins did not originally come from this part of the winter lands, in their own country they were a mountain people. They had grown up hunting, trapping and fishing.
Rodriguez, who knew all of these things, was beginning to understand just how much trouble he and David were in.
Before long Greymalkin Stalkin traipsed back out of the cabin; this time carrying a shotgun over each shoulder.
“There be yorn.” He announced handing over the larger of the two shotguns to his brother.
“Ah Maisey Barrel, my love!” Grimwald Stalkin stroked the weapon with a tenderness which he showed to no other thing in the world. “Us be going a-hunting for stripy ‘orse!” A moment of calm crept over the Stalkin. It was at times like this, with gun in hand and the knowledge that he would kill and eat something pretty soon, when he came as close as he ever really got to happiness.
“Greymalkin Stalkin, ‘unting time!”
“Aye! ‘Unting time, Grimwald Stalkin!”
Inside the barn, David and Rodriguez stood peering out through gaps in the wooden slats at the two strange figures outside. David could not hear what they were saying but the look of concern on Rodriguez’s face when the zebra had nudged the boy awake was enough to tell the boy that he should be worried. The sight of these two short men carrying very large shotguns only served to confirm this.
Suddenly the two figures turned and seemed to look straight at the barn. Straight at them!
David and Rodriguez jumped back from their spy holes and turned to each other, wide-eyed in panic. Rodriguez could hear the sound of feet clumping in the snow toward the barn door, the mumbling of angry words and the rattling of the sliding doors. There was no other way out of the barn. They were trapped!