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Short story: “The General”

Premise behind this: Kids playing make believe is so cute, yes? Cassandra is growing bored of it though.

***

The general surveyed his troops.

They were all lined up neatly, everyone at attention and this made the general smile to himself.

“You’re all great, men!” he said, stopping to adjust his hat as the brim kept falling into his eyes. “You’ve had to deal with a lot of stuff lately. There was the flooding by the river, the squirrels getting into the pantry and taking our food stuff and then there were the mice in with the carrots and other things!”

The general stopped in front of the assembled soldiers, rocking back and forth on the heels of his overly large rubber boots.

“Therefore I have decided that today as a reward, we will have a tea party!”

The general grinned widely, revealing the gap where one of his front teeth had very recently come out and then he gathered up the assembled troops; Ragdoll, the Pine cone brothers, Mr. Rockface and Mop-puppy in his arms. He burst into the wooden cottage bellowing at the top of his lungs.

“My men require tea and cookies for their tea party!”

Cass stepped away from the easel, ochre paint smudged across the tip of her nose and her forehead. She cocked an eyebrow at the general and gave him a crooked smile.

“I’ll see about that tea”, she said as she sauntered into the kitchen and made one cup of cocoa for the general (she knew he preferred that to tea and cocoa was his privilege as an officer) and prepared small cups of tea (well, it was actually water, but so far no one had complained) for the men.

“You can have two cookies from the jar, but only if you promise to finish all of your dinner”, Cass said and waggled her finger at him. “…Even the vegetables.”

The general frowned. “But brussel sprouts taste so nasty!” He had his tongue out, as if he wanted to show exactly how nasty those green little things were. Cass was unrelenting however and just resumed her position behind the canvas.

Grumbling to himself the general positioned his men out on the kitchen floor and gave them each a cup of tea (water) and gently transferred his cup of cocoa from the counter before he dug into the cookie jar for his assigned cookie ration. He peered over at where Cass was standing and wondered if he’d dare take a third.

“I can hear you debating by the cookie jar there”, she suddenly said. “I said two and only two.”

Sulking slightly, the general admitted defeat and carefully partitioned one of the cookies among his men before stuffing the other one in his mouth. He bit down on it carefully; it still felt weird to be missing one front tooth.

“Men, I welcome you to this feast!” he said, spitting crumbs. “We have all deserved it!”

After the general had finished his cookie and cocoa, he made sure to finish the cookie bits that his men had left behind. There was no sense in wasting anything, especially not while Cass had eyes in the back of her neck.

“If the general is done with his little tea party he can fetch some vegetables from the garden for dinner and maybe he can have another cookie for dessert”, came Cass’s voice again and the general quickly hopped to his feet.

“Men, you are all relieved for the day!” he said with as much authority that he could muster, with his hat still slipping into his eyes. “You can do whatever you want, play even!”

The general then offered a salute to his troops before he bounded off with the vegetable basket under his arm.

“Zourie’s coming over, so make sure to bring extra”, Cass said, poking hear head out behind the easel again. Now there was a streak of blue across the bridge of her nose and a faint smear of white on her cheek.  

“Arright!” the general offered her a salute as he opened the door.

“And don’t forget the brussel sprouts, general”, Cass said with a smirk. The general just groaned but knew there was no helping it. An order was an order, especially from the high admiral Cass.

***

Oy had not been gone for long when there was a knock on the door and Zouriel sauntered it, throwing his heavy khaki coat on one chair, before flinging himself down in another, groaning loudly.

“I’m going to sleep for ten years when I get home…” he muttered, glaring at the ceiling as if that had somehow played a part in causing his current discomfort.

“Hard day at the office, huh”, Cass said without abandoning her work, her words accompanied by the faint scratching sound of paintbrush on canvas.

Zouriel just grunted as he tried to zoom in and count the hairline cracks in the paint on the ceiling.

“I can always give you a foot rub”, Cass offered, flashing him a cheeky grin as she finally emerged from behind the painting.

“Thanks, but no thanks”, he said, sticking his tongue out. “I won’t fall for that again.”

He paused to stretch and then added: “It’s not fair that you’re not ticklish too.”

From outside they could hear Oy humming to himself as he came around from the back of the house.

“Oh, yeah…” Cass said, peering over at Zouriel. “…That old hat of yours? You’ll have to take it back with you. Oy’s been at it for five days straight now and he’s not growing tired of it anytime soon.”

Zouriel gave her a puzzled look, then the door slammed open and there stood Oy still wearing Cass’s large rubber boots and Zouriel’s old army hat perched on his head.

“General reportin’ for dury, ma’am!” he said with a salute, then did a double-take as he noticed Zouriel.

“Admiral Z! You’re here already! I need to get the troops presentable for you!”

The boy dashed off into the kitchen and Cass just gave Zouriel a look. Then he smirked. Widely.

“Well, I see no harm in him playing like that. It’s not like he’s copying me to the extent that he’s off killing stuff, right?”

He tilted his head to the side and his eye was filled with mirth.

“You’re not the one who has to wake up to his whistle blowing at 6 am and barking orders at his make-believe tro-“, Cass  said before she paused,  realization dawning on her slowly.

“This is revenge, isn’t it?”

Zouriel waggled his eyebrow.

She punched him on his right shoulder and he proceeded to laugh so loud that Oy emerged from the kitchen, clutching Ragdoll and Mr. Rockface in his arms.

“Are you torturing the Admiral Z, Admiral Cass?” he asked, with his blue eyes wide as saucers.

“Yes and I’m loving every second of it”, Cass said as she smacked Zouriel over the head.

Zouriel just kept on laughing.

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