After making friends with Bo the box turtle, camp elf Twinkle Loblolly continues his journey over the ridge on an urgent errand on behalf of Rufus the lovelorn bobcat.
The sun beat down as Twinkle summited the ridge and began his downhill journey towards Manx’s territory. It was a little after noon, but it felt more like mid-July than late September in the forest. Elves don’t sweat, but they do feel the heat the same as anyone else, and Twinkle made sure to stay in the shade as he made his way down the path.
The Camp Fletcher trees felt a little sleepier every day at this time of year. The vibrant green luster of spring and summer turned into something a fraction duller and a bit more tired with every passing afternoon. Twinkle looked forward to the vivid reds and oranges and browns of autumn, but those colors hadn’t yet replaced the healthy, living green as the summer forest canopy exhausted itself in this odd in-between season.
Twinkle also was ready for a snap of cool weather to vent away summer air that had grown stuffy and more lifeless as summer wound down. Twinkle thought about this as he walked and realized that he liked all four seasons. For some reason his very favorite season of the year was always the next one. His least favorite seasons were the in-between ones where the old season wasn’t quite gone and the next hadn’t quite arrived. This was definitely an in-between time and they were mostly about waiting—waiting for something old and tired to depart to make room for something new and exciting.
It was a steamy afternoon, but Twinkle shivered a little as he crossed the property line that took him out of Camp Fletcher and into The World. Even though the line wasn’t marked, he instinctively knew when he crossed it. He could feel the non-Camp Fletcherishness of it in his very soul. The wood elf didn’t leave his 300 acre domain very often or for very long and he was always uncomfortable outside of the camp grounds. Perhaps because he was already on edge, he jumped when he heard the deep female voice call out to him from above.
“I heard you were looking for me, elf.” The voice was part purr, part growl, and not at all friendly.
“You must be Miss Manx,” Twinkle said looking up at the large bobcat perched on a branch of large oak tree. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
“We’ll see about that,” the bobcat snarled back. “I know why you’re here, and you’re wasting your time. You might as well head back to your precious little camp right now before I decide to eat you.”
“Why that’s not very nice, Miss Manx. You know you wouldn’t do that. I’ll bet you’re a big pussy cat deep down inside.”
The bobcat showed her fangs and hissed at Twinkle in reply.
“Do you mind if I join you up there so we can have a little chat?” Twinkle asked, undeterred by the unfriendly welcome.
“You certainly may not. This is my territory and this is my tree,” the bobcat snarled. “Don’t you dare invade my private . . . ”
But it was too late. Before Manx could finish her sentence, Twinkle had already shimmied up the trunk and had perched comfortably on the branch beside her, just outside of swatting range.
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