Up, Up And Away.

"Who wants this last piece of pizza?" Sage asked.
Everyone made 'full' noises, so Sage snaffled it for himself.
"So, like... You guys going to be around for a while?" Greta asked, her Dutch accent turning ‘So’ into ‘Sho’ and ‘guys’ into ‘guysh’.
"No, we're off to New York later today." Dredly replied, before explaining the situation with the shoes, their unseen foe and the mysterious American Shoe Whisperer.
"Whoa! Bizarre or what!" Greta was amazed. "Can I tag along with you?”
Sage and Dredly looked at each other - could they really take their former nemesis with them simply because she happened to like the same band?
“Yeah, sure you can come.” Sage replied.
“Do you have a current passport?” Dredly asked.
“Hey, do bears... Raid your fridge?”
They took that one as a 'yes'.
"Do you need to get some things for the trip?"
"Naah! I've got a small case tucked up in my fur somewhere. I'm ready when you are."
"Well I'm all packed, so that just leaves you, Sage."
"Okay, I'll hop to it."
With that, Sage ran up to his room. A few moments later a strange cacophony of sounds began emanating from Sage's room as he packed - sawing, drilling, splashing, and at one point they could hear him whistling and shouting, “Come by! Come by!” Followed by a dog barking and sheep bleating. Two minutes later, Sage came back downstairs, dragging a heavy suitcase.
“Ready!” He said.

What's that tail sticking out of Sage's bag in one of the humor books at Dredly.com?
“Hmm.” Dredly was suspicious. “Have you got any sheep in there?"
“Er... No.” Sage looked innocently into the middle distance - a sure sign of guilt.
“What about that?" Albert pointed to a white woolly tail sticking out of the side of the case.
“Oh that’s nothing - just a jumper, that’s all. Yes, that's right - ha ha - how could it be nothing? If it was nothing, you couldn’t point to it. No, It’s a jumper, yes that’s right... Um... Penzance...”
Dredly knew that as soon as Sage started randomly mentioning Cornish towns he was trying to hide something. He silently walked over to the case and gave the offending woolly item a sharp tug. There was a muffled bleat of pain.
“A jumper that bleats?" He accused.
“It’s very new wool.”
“We’re not taking the sheep and that’s final.”
“Oh! You’re no fun!”
“No fun?” Dredly cried. He could scarcely believe his ears. “Don’t you remember what happened last time? I hardly call trying to round up twenty frightened sheep in the middle of the baggage re-claim at Gatwick airport fun! Why you wanted to take them on a beach holiday in the first place is quite beyond me.”
“They needed a change of scene."
“They all got heatstroke on the first day, and after we sheared them, they all got sunburn.”
“But they came back with good tans in the end! Anyway, it wasn’t my fault they got out. They were all packed perfectly securely. Besides which, we won’t have to go through that again. I’ve got the sheepdog in my hand luggage this time.”
Sage rattled the bag and the dog barked.
“We’re not taking them.”
“I suppose the llama’s out of the question too?”
“Definitely not. He always gets airsick and spits at the stewardesses.”
“Ant farm?”
"Oh, but taking a polar bear along is all right is it?" Sage pointed an accusing finger at Greta.
Dredly sighed. "We're going into the mouth of danger - a nine foot polar bear with razor sharp teeth and claws might come in handy if we get into a fight. What are the sheep going to do - browse people to death?"
“All right, I’ll go and re-pack. But don’t blame me if we need a sheep at short notice and can’t get hold of one!” Sage grumbled and dragged the bleating suitcase back upstairs.
In the meantime, Greta phoned the airline to book an extra ticket and much to Dredly's annoyance, she not only got through within five rings of the phone, but she didn’t get put on hold and was able to book her tickets with ease.
“How did you manage that?” Dredly asked, incredulous at what he had just seen.
“The desk clerk’s a friend of mine.”
“Oh - polar bear?”
“Yeah. She gave me a seat with you guys.”
“Great!” Cried Sage as he came back into the room. He was like an excited child at the thought of the trip. “What time’s the check-in for the flight?”
“Seven tonight.” Dredly replied.
“So that gives us thirteen hours. Let’s leave now!”
Greta looked confused. The new anti-terrorist measures added time to the journey, but not thirteen hours.
“We like the airport.” Dredly explained.
“Yeah, the video arcades, the restaurants, the bureaux de changes...” Sage enthused.
“The smell of jet fuel...”
“Oh the jet fuel! God, yes! I love that stuff! Then there’s the duty free shops, all those places you can buy magazines...”
“And that feeling you get off all the other passengers. That general excitement of going somewhere. You can’t beat the airport for a good day out.” Dredly concluded.
“Motorway service stations aren’t bad.” Albert added. Sage conceded the point, but the general opinion was that airports had the edge. There was a short pause.
“You guys are kinda weird aren't you!” Greta said.
“Oh, and I suppose you reckon sitting on a frozen lake and leaping out at unsuspecting seals is better?” Sage retorted.
“Hey, it’s a living.”
“Let's just get out of here and on our way. We can go by tube, car or cab. What’s going to be the quickest...?" Dredly pondered.
“Plane!” Cried Sage.
“Rocket ship!” Said Greta, trying to better Sage.
“Space Shuttle!” Albert chipped in.
“The Starship Enterprise!” Greta retorted.
“The Millennium Falcon - it’s the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy!”  Sage punched the air in victory - Greta couldn’t better that.
“Er... Can I just reel you back to reality for a minute?” Dredly immediately realized the futility of such a move, for standing before him were a short man who suggested going to the airport by plane, a polar bear with an ice-cream fixation and an ancient codger whose cat was wearing an old-fashioned pair of driving goggles and was pulling on a big pair of driving gauntlets.
"I think Calorie's trying to tell us something." Dredly indicated the cat, who had now put on a leather driving coat and was jangling his keys in his pocket.
"Of course, the Jag' will get you there in no time." Said Albert.
"You coming to see us off, Al?" Sage asked.
"No. Calorie drives too fast... And anyway, we always end up on some wild goose chase."
This was a good point. The previous week Calorie had offered to drive Albert to the shops, had spotted some wild geese and given chase. Unfortunately the geese had been migrating north and two days later Dredly had received a desperate call from Albert on Jan Mayen island in the Arctic. None of them wanted a repeat performance, and so they bade the old man farewell and headed for the airport and the unknown enemy beyond. Meanwhile, for his part, Albert headed for his appointment with his colonic irrigation technician and the unknown enema beyond.

Calorie eased the car into the awakening city and wound down the window. He loved the feel of the wind in his fur. It reminded him of his youth as a tournament rally driver in Scandinavia, where he'd been nicknamed 'The Cat'. Naturally his paws couldn't reach the pedals, so the car had been customised so that the pedals were up near the dashboard. His seat was also very built up, which ruined the classic symmetry of the Jag's interior, but as he let her open up, Calorie looked every inch the professional.
"Aren't you going to get put straight into quarantine if you travel as a bear?" Said Sage.
"I'll go in disguise." Greta replied. "As your granny.”
Within moments the transformation had been made and there on the leather seat in the back sat an old woman.
“Not bad!”
“Yeah, you’ve even got that smell of lavender water with the hint of stale urine.” Said Sage.
“Thank you.” Said Greta.
“But I’m not sitting next to her on the plane.” Sage added.

Greta the polar bear disguised as a granny in one of the humor books at Dredly.com

The drive to the airport was pleasant. It was a bright spring morning and the scent of fresh grass and crocuses came to them through the smell of the city like a pleasant half-remembered dream. Sage liked the spring. He loved the feeling that the earth was being re-invigorated; he liked the sound of birdsong and the light mornings; but most of all he liked the spring clothes catalogues sent out by mail order firms, because they had the biggest swimwear section. He looked out through the window and wondered whether the designers would be bold and go for topless gear that season.
Dredly was sitting in the front looking down at his feet. He couldn't believe his bad luck. After years of wearing the same kind of shoes, he'd finally bought the cobbler's nightmare - a pair of rogue brogues. It was his own fault, he concluded - if he had not been so rigid in his footwear purchasing habits, he would not be in his current predicament. Whoever they were up against had done his homework. Somewhere, perhaps even in New York, an evil power had fixed its eye on him. Dredly looked at the livid dawn, but felt subdued despite its beauty. In the West dark clouds were mustering - it would rain.

Greta sat behind Dredly. She was glad to have made some new friends and glad to be getting out of London. Her small haberdashers shop in Portobello was on the brink of bankruptcy. She'd read the market all wrong. People didn't want novelty buttons and that was that. Perhaps the sudden turn of events was a real blessing. It was an adventure, and if popular trash movies had taught her anything, it was that people who go on adventures end up with tons of cash. And then, when she had her ton of cash she would return to London and open the biggest haberdashers the city had ever seen. However, she wished she'd taken the chance to use Albert's phone to call her family in Sisimiut. The seal pups would be coming out. Greta licked her lips. Yes, she loved living in London and eating in Chinatown, but there was nothing quite like snacking on a seal pup.

After some fast driving and some close shaves with speed cameras, Calorie pulled up outside the terminal. It was barely seven a.m.
"Okay, Cals, thanks for the ride." Dredly stroked Calorie behind the ear. Calorie grinned.
"Yeah. Thanks cool guy." Said Greta, "See you when we get back."
"And take care of Albert... Oh and this time when you feed our fish, don't feed them to your mates, okay?" Sage still didn't fully trust Calorie around the goldfish.
"Quangle." Said Calorie, and once the others had got their luggage out of the boot, he pulled away with a wave of his paw. He would keep heading west, get the car out on the open highway and then really let her rip.

Calorie takes his Jag for a spin in one of the humor books at Dredly.com

What will Sage and Dredly find at the airport? And will Albert and Calorie rue the fact they didn't ask them to get some duty free fags and pipe tobacco?

Find out in the next lung-busting chapter...


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