NEIGHBOURS

The day has dawned on the island of Arcadia. In Ward, capital of the Plains, the humans are waking up to go about their usual business. Outside the city the miles and miles of grassy hills are littered with flocks of sheep, basking in the warm morning sunlight. In one such a flock one particular sheep lies lazily in the grass, accompanied by another one.
"Of course," the first sheep says, "It has to be said that Napoleon's introduction of the metric system throughout Europe has greatly sped up the standardisation of the many different systems of measurements and ensured the existence of a consistent terminology."
The other sheep chews quietly on a mouthful of grass.
"Though nowadays there is still much to be done in order to standardise systems around the world."
The other sheep continues to chew.
"As was evident by the Mars-probe fiasco."
The other sheep swallows and takes another bite. The first sheep stares at him.
"... My grandmother won the Tour the France yesterday..."
The other sheep continues to chew. The first sheep sighs, gets up and looks at his conversation partner.
"It's not your fault," he says then floats up in the air and flies away. It bears explaining at this point that this sheep is Keebler, who received some features uncharacteristic of the average sheep when a large tidal wave of residual magic decided the Plains might be a good place to crash into. And right now, he's feeling lonely. Clearly the intellectual capacity of his peers leaves something to be desired. As he soars aimlessly across the landscape his eye is suddenly caught by a small house among the hills.
"Neighbours!" he exclaims.

The small house Keebler observes belongs to one of the newer citizens of the Plains. Five minutes ago she woke up and right now she steps out of bed, stretches profoundly and walks towards the mirror. There she picks up a brush and starts brushing her fur. Her name is Jessie, and she's what is referred to as an anthro-wolf. That's something like a werewolf, only without the were, and without the bloodlust. As she brushes her hair her ears suddenly perk up and she turns towards the drapes before her window.
"Hello?" she asks uncertainly. She waits for a response for a few moments.
"Is anyone there?" she then asks. She knows very well that it's highly unlikely given that her bedroom's on the second floor, but this is a magical island after all. She cautiously walks towards the drapes, braces herself, then grabs them and yanks them open. Her eyes grow wide, and so do the eyes of the floating sheep at the other side of the window.
"A wolf!?" it exclaims in a mixture of dismay and disapproval. Then it soars off into the distance. Jessie still stares out the window. She continues to stare for quite a while.

"I really saw it Jason!" Jessie exclaims. "It was right outside my window!"
Jason is Jessie's boyfriend, another anthro-wolf. He looks at the sketch she shoved in his face. A good sketch, as usual, Jessie's a good artist. The fact that she started sketching flying sheep worries him though, though not half as much as the fact that she claims to have seen them.
"Did you show this to anyone else?" Jason asks.
"Er... A few people," Jessie answers uncertainly, then blinks. "Hey! I really did see it!"
Jason opens his mouth to speak but is interrupted by a knock on the door.
"Were you expecting company?" he asks.
"Do I ever?" Jessie says and walks towards the door. She opens it to reveal an Arcadian human soldier standing in the doorway. Jessie and Jason look startled at each other.
"Are you known as Jessie, anthro-wolf?" the soldier asks.
"Now we're gonna get it," Jason mutters.
"Yes?" she replies nervously. She remembers the sketchbook in her hand and quickly hides it behind her back.
"The count has requested that you come with me, ma'am," the soldier says.
"The count?" she asks, even more nervously.
"What for!?" Jason demands.
"This doesn't have anything to do with flying sheep, has it?" Jessie blurts out in her nervous state. Jason slaps his face.
"Yes ma'am. If you would please follow me."
Jessie looks back helplessly at Jason.
"Don't worry," he says, "I won't let you go alone."
"If you would both follow me then?" the soldier asks and steps out of the doorway.

Arno, the count of the Plains, sits back in his chair behind his desk and sighs, looking at the sheep before him, nervously floating back and forth.
"A WOLF!" Keebler exclaims. "I have never heard of such a disgrace in my life!"
"Keebler," the count sighs. Keebler drops to the floor, places his front hoofs on the desk and pushes himself up so as to look the count straight in the eyes.
"Do you have any idea of the risk this puts us all in!?"
There's a shy knock on the door.
"Enter!" the count says. Keebler floats up again and turns around to face the door. As the door slowly opens his mouth does the same. Behind the door stands the same wolf he saw this morning. The count gets up and walks towards the door.
"Hello... Jessie, is it?" he says as friendly as he can. "Come on in."
Jessie quietly steps inside. The first thing she notices is that the count is uncomfortably large compared to her. About 6 feet at least. Then she spots, to her surprise, the bed against the wall, the stacks of papers and books in several spots in the room and an old shirt hanging over the chair behind the desk. Before she can comment on this though, she finally spots the floating sheep. They both look at each other with wide-open eyes and mouths.
"It's the flying sheep!" she exclaims.
"It's the wolf!" Keebler exclaims simultaneously.
Arno turns to Keebler. "Keebler, this is-... Keebler, get out from under my desk!"
"So I did see it!" Jessie yells excitedly at Arno. The count sighs.
"Keebler, the same thing happened with Sirius for crying out loud!"
Jessie steps towards the desk and kneels down to look at Keebler.
"Er..." she says. "Hello," she finally decides.
"Good afternoon," Keebler replies, eyeing her suspiciously.
"My name's Jessie," she says.
"Keebler," Keebler replies. Silence follows.
"Keebler," the count says, "Jessie's not a wolf, she's a..." He frowns, then walks to his desk where he opens a file. After some careful study he continues. "An anthro-wolf."
"Pardon?" the sheep says, still eyeing what he now knows to be an anthro-wolf.
"An anthro-wolf," Jessie says.
"Do anthro-wolves perhaps hunt sheep?" Keebler asks. Jessie crosses her arms.
"No!" she says, insulted. "We go to the grocery store."
Keebler cocks his head, then carefully gets out from under the desk.
"Then I fear that perhaps we have gotten off at a wrong start," Keebler admits.
"Yes," she replies. "You peeked in my bedroom! And you made my boyfriend think I was crazy!"
"My apologies, my lady. I was not aware."
"Hmpf."
"Well," the count says, "I suppose you two can take it from here?" Keebler and Jessie look up from their conversation, remembering where they are again.
"Indeed," Keebler says.
"Yes, thank you, erm..." Jessie hesitates. "Sir?"
The count coughs embarrassed as he sits back down. "Yes, well, I trust you can take it from here," he says. Jessie nods and walks out the door, Keebler following closely behind.
"Tell me," Arno hears him say as they walk away through the hallway, "do you play chess?"
The count sighs, gets up and walks towards the door. He closes it, as no one else had bothered to.

THE END


Jessie and Jason are copyrighted to their respective owners. All other characters are copyrighted to Arno Jacobs. Thanks for drawing my characters, Jessie! :)
- Arno Jacobs (arno.jacobs@gmail.com)