The Shasta Caper
by John Pirillo
Robin leaped onto the top of a boulder, and cupped a hand over his eyes, trying to catch site of the flying vessel. Smarn stood next to him, his head almost level with Robins, even though Robin stood atop a boulder.
"You see them?" Smarn asked.
"No. But I see our dinner."
Smarn's tummy grumbled then. He swatted it with a hairy fist. "Quiet! Smarn busy."
"Ah, my good Little Smarn, your sense of humor has not excaped you in your old age."
Smarn cuffed at Robin and Robin ducked, then leaped to the ground. "Come on, catch up if you can, I see dinner running away!"
Robin ran swiftly into the forest their hike had brought them close to, his long legs swiftly leaving Smarn behind as he took a moment to consider whether to follow or not. Robin could just be playing one of his games again. Tricky fellow!
Then he decided to follow when his tummy made another rumbling sound, a cross between a lion's roar and a hippo coughing.
"Smarn staving!" He roared, then ran after Robin.
Robin cut between one tall tree and the next, dodging larger boulders, leaping over smaller ones, and making good time as he spotted his prize not too far ahead. Dinner was not a live animal as Smarn had thought, but rather a live animal amidst many other, carrying a strange bag in its nose, just as two others did the same.
Robin recognized the backpacks as something the strangers had brought, because he had seen similar travelers carry them down from the upper world in the past to stash their food and other items in. Hence, his hope for dinner.
He managed to catch up with the tiny pachyderms and the Mother turned about at the sound of their trumpeting voices and fixed her eyes on him.
Robin half bowed to her. "I do beg your pardon, Madam, but I think I could fare better with those, than you and your little ones."
The Mother Elephant challenged him, raising her nose high, then standing on her back feet.
Robin grinned. "Surely, you jest. I wish you no harm."
Then the Mother dropped back to her feet and backed up, making a kind of whimpering sound as a huge shadow fell across Robin and then the smaller elephants about her.
"Nor I!" Growled Smarn as he came beside Robin and put an arm on his friend's shoulder, almost causing Robin to drop to the ground from the weight of it.
"Hey! Do I look like a leaning post to you, Little Smarn?"
"Yes." Smarn answered with a snaggled tooth grin.
Robin shook his head, then dropped to his knees before the frigthened pachyderms, who huddled about their Mother. He reached into a leather bag at his belt and withdrew some bread. He began breaking it up and tossing it to the elephants.
"Robin, that's our dinner!" Smarn warned.
"Was!" Robin flashed his teeth, then continued dispensing the bread.
In moments the small ones let loose of the backpacks they had been carrying and swarmed the bread. The Mother eyed Robin warily, gave him a warning blast of her nose, then came forward for a larger chunk he held out towards her. "I promise. I am a friend."
The Mother edged closer, sniffed the bread, then sniffed Robin's face and whipped the bread quickly towards her mouth, where she began eating it.
Her eyes rolled with pleasure as she did so, causing Robin and Smarn both to laugh. The baby elephants were frightened for a moment, but then relaxed when they saw the Mother reach out with her nose for more.
Robin eyed Smarn, who sighed, then opened his own pouch to retrieve what remaining bread he had. "This is going to cost you, Robin."
"Doesn't it always, my little friend?" He responded with a twinkle of his beautiful eyes.
Smarn tossed him the bread and Robin began breaking it up further, giving smaller pieces to the smaller elephants who swarmed around him and Smarn, and a larger piece to the Mother.
Robin sat on his butt and motioned Smarn to sit beside him. He did so.
"I'm glad someone is enjoying dinner."
"Don't worry." Robin chided his friend. "The best is yet to be."
He whipped an arrow from its quiver on his back, then stabbed into the nearest backpack strap, catching it with a barbed tip, then slowly, but surely drawing it back to him and Smarn as the tiny elepants and the Mother watched, still eating as they did so, their tiny eyes sparkling with pleasure. They hadn't tasted such fare in ages.
Robin finally managed to catch the backpack with his hand and lift it up. He opened it. It was Jimbo's, so naturally the first thing he saw was...
"Food!" Robin said, showing Smarn.
"Looks funny!" Smarn poked at the contents, knocking aside something crunchy sounding.
He lifted it out and tried to take a bite. It made a crunching sound, then he spit it out. "Horrible!"
"Smarn!" Robin teased his friend. "This way."
Robin took the top of the item, which was a bag of Lay's potato chips, and ripped it open from the top. He took a whiff, then made a sour face. Overly salty I think, but eatable I suspect."
"These upworlders eat strange things." Smarn pointed out, as he took out a lone chip and revolved it in his hand, eyeing it strange textures.
Then he popped it into his mouth and swallowed. Another mistake.
He began to gag.
Robin quickly pounded him on the back, then took another chip and bit down on it. "I saw one of the upworlders do this last time one came down. This is the way to eat them."
Robin made a face at the taste of all the salt, but loved the texture of the chip. He began eating more.
Smarn watched for a moment, not sure if this was some kind of joke or not, then he grabbed the bag and shoved half its contents into his mouth.
He gave the bag back, then began crunching. His eyes rolled with pleasure.
"Always the slob, my Little Smarn."
The elephants about them all raised their long noses and trumpeted in reply, as if he were speaking to them in their own language.
Robin burst into laughter.