Running Shoo – Episode 94

Ah! A bed! How I’ve missed you!

The last one I slept in was in Daisy’s house in her pocket dimension and before that it was… it was…

I can’t even remember.

For however long I’ve been bounced from place to place, beds haven’t been a common factor, nor were they in abundance on the streets of Footfall (well, a few mattresses were, but you wouldn’t want to go near them). I had half a barrel with a blanket in it in the back of a warehouse for a while, that was pretty luxurious but nothing like this.

This bed is soft, enveloping and warm. Comfy. Safe.

It takes me back to….

“Wakey wakey, little Shoo!”

Momma.

“Wakey wakey, you’re getting flaky.”

Of course, it’s not her. It’s never her. She’s not going to suddenly turn up again.

Whenever I hear her now, it’s inevitably just-

“Wakey wakey, little Shoo. Wakey… wake up!” Momma’s voice spikes a few octaves and becomes Nom’s insistent chirp. “Come on, Shoo, wake up! I’m hungry!

There we go.

I open my eyes.

Nom’s wormy face is about an inch from mine.

Close up, I can see the faint segmentations on her glistening, chestnut brown cheeks. She grins big ivory teeth at me. Her breath smells surprisingly pleasant; rich, dark, and oily like… like…

I squint at Nom like a sleepy but suspicious headmistress.

She immediately looks guilty.

“Nom, did you find some boot polish and eat it?”

“What? No… You did. In your sleep. I tried to stop you.”

“I don’t even own boot polish,” I say.

Nom’s big brown eyes glimmer in panic, “I didn’t steal it. It was under the bed. I mean… that’s where you found it in your sleep.”

“You’re not in trouble or anything. It’s just, um…” I flounder. Seconds from waking is not the best time to articulate why cleaning products are not food. “Nom, it’s for polishing boots. It’ll make you ill. It’s not meant for eating.”

“Tasted alright to me.”

“Did it?”

She looks panicked again, “is what you said… Sleep-said… While you ate it.”

Rubbing my eyes, I sit up, “back up,” I tell Nom. She does so, still radiating guilt and I swing my legs around without kicking her in the face. It takes me two tries to get to my feet, the bed is really yielding (and calling me back.)

I pad over to the window, the woven rope floor scratchy under my feet, giving myself an obligatory morning bum scratch.

I don’t open the curtains as I’m in my underwear and some people can be funny about seeing that kind of thing without… um… I’m not really clued up on cultures and mating practices and stuff… without… being notified in writing? I don’t know. Whereas I don’t want anyone to see my underwear since I only have one set and river washes can only get them so clean.

I peer through a gap in the curtains. There are some locals out there, crossing back and fore in a calm and busy fashion just, like, getting on with their lives in a non-hunted, non-furtive manner.

Gods, it’s like another world.

“Nice day out there,” I comment inanely, like normal people do, which gives me a happy little tingle, and go and rummage in my backpack for my toothbrush.

When I find it, it’s a sorry-looking thing and has a lot less bristles than it used to. I also don’t have toothpaste, though you get used to that on the streets. In fact, I now think of toothpaste as fancy, which I know is ridiculous and a bit sad. Generally, I used to walk about for the first part of the morning, absently and continually brushing my teeth. Seemed to do the trick. Mondey, being a tepcat, could get away with chewing on a piece of wood.

My clothes are in a pile on the floor. I regard them distastefully; I swear they’re steaming off a nasty little miasma. I won’t want to put them on again, since I’m clean. I’m clean because the room has a bathroom. That’s right.

An actual bathroom!

With a bath!

Bonkers.

I was in there so long I swear I got pruney down to my bones.

Afterwards, I didn’t even want to put my tatty underwear on, though I didn’t have much choice without traumatising Nom. Now I don’t want to put my minging clothes on but, again, they’re all I’ve got.

The trousers are basically a patchwork of multi-coloured stains, abrasions, cuts, tears and holes. The ‘orange’ T-shirt still has a bit of orange visible on the seams if you look. My socks are more hole than sock at this stage. My green jacket is bearing up quite well actually, which is nice, though it’s stained, and the edges are tatty. The Tik-fur waistcoat is fine. Tik furs, being alive, self-clean.

Oh well, I’ve already ruined any pretence at cleanliness by putting the underwear back on. I mean, yes, I washed them in the bath but the white they once were is a distant memory.

“Have you washed and cleaned your teeth?” I ask nom.

“Ew. No,” she says, seriously.

“Fair enough,” I say and approach my clothes with a grimace.

Gods, what I really need is-

Wait.

What am I thinking? I can do that. I can just… do it.

I’m in a town.

I’m loaded.

“Nom?”

“Yes, Shoo?”

“We’re going clothes shopping!” I tell her. “Like posh people do. We’ll get a change of clothes too. Why not? Maybe a new toothbrush and, wow, some toothpaste.”

She looks unimpressed, “after breakfast though, right?” she asks.

I sigh.

“Yes, after breakfast.”

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