Rouge Toons
Author: Bobby South

Chapter 4
P.E.E.L.E.D.'s New Spies

“Oh, boy,” muttered Hamton. “What a weird dream.”

       “Were you dreaming of the opening credits?” Rita yawned as she stretched.

       “How did you dream the same dream as me?”  Hamton asked.

       “I don’t know,” said Rita. “Maybe the author of this story hasn’t thought of this part thoroughly.”

       Runt himself woke up, stood up quickly and panted for a while before his face fell.

       “Dreaming of meat and bones, Runt?” asked Rita.

       “Yeah, definitely dreaming,” said Runt.

       “Where are we?” asked Hamton.

       He, Rita and Runt noticed that they were on a bed. The cat and dog got off, while the pig pulled the massive white bed sheet away and got out of bed. They all looked around and saw that they were in a room – a very grand room.

       A room full of creamy white walls with massive paintings with golden frames, white tiles on the floor with silver rug under a glass coffee table and a massive plasma TV.

       “Well, this is impressive,” Hamton said.

       “This is lovely,” said Runt. “Definitely lovely.”

       “Where are we?” asked Rita. She jumped to the windowsill and looked through the window. She saw a city full of big buildings and cars.

       “Manchester.”

       The three toons turned around to the bathroom where Jane Rond who was wearing a grey blazer with a white shirt and a red tie, skirt, tights and black shoes.

       “You’re in Manchester,” Rond repeated.

       “Manchester as in New York?” asked Hamton.

       “No, as in the biggest city in Greater Manchester, England,” said Rond.

       “Is this a hotel?” asked Rita.

       “Yeah, the Hilton Deansgate Manchester Hotel,” said Rond. “And this is my room for where I sleep. I made it myself. None of the other staff know about this. The other dorm rooms are too smelly and loud.”

       “Dorm rooms?” said Rita. “Does that mean – ”

       “Yeah, I go to a boarding school,” said Rond. “And starting today, you guys will.”

       Rita and Hamton were puzzled by what she said, but clueless Runt ran around Rond like mad looking excited.

       “Boarding school, huh?” cried the enthusiastic dog. “Oh, boy! Oh, boy!”
            “Runt!” snapped Rita.

       Runt skidded to his cat friend. “Yeah, Rita?”
            “You and I are two grown up… dogs.” She said that last word with a heavy sigh. She knew her life depended on Runt not knowing she was an actual cat.

       Hamton gave her a clueless look. “But, Rita, you’re not a – ”

       “Shh,” Rita said. “We are too old for boarding school.”

       “Oh, don’t be so grumpy, cat,” said Rond. “You’re never too old to learn. Now, come on, we mustn’t be late.” She turned around into the bathroom, followed by Runt, Hamton and finally the grumpy Rita.

       Rond opened the shower door. “Get in,” she said to the three toons.

       Runt dived in while Hamton and Rita got in the shower politely. 

Rond closed the door behind her. She held onto the shower head. “Hold on,” she said.

“We’re not going to get wet, are we?” asked Rita.

“Not a lot,” replied Rond.

“Not a lot?”

“Well, the only wet bits that will get you are the drools from Runt, probably,” said Rond.

“Drools?” Rita was very puzzled.

Rond pulled the shower lever down. For a while, nothing happened.

Hamton coughed. “Well, what – ”

Then a sudden drop made him, Rita and Runt scream their heads off.

“Woo-hoo!” cried the cheerful, fun-loving Jane Rond. “You’ve got to admit that this ride is thrilling.”
            “Where is this elevator taking us?” asked Hamton.

“This isn’t an elevator,” said Rond. “This is a lift and we’re on our way to school.”

“But I haven’t had breakfast,” protested Hamton.

“Well, you’ll get less bullied if you lose some weight,” Rond laughed, slapping Hamton’s tummy.

“Bullied?” said Rita.

“But breakfast is the most important – ”

The shower lift stopped. Rond jumped from the shower head and opened the door. “Just stay with me.”

Hamton, Rita and Runt just looked at each other and followed Rond.

 

 

After two minutes, Rond and her new friends approached two giant wooden doors.

       “What is the name of this school?” asked Hamton.

       Rond addressed him. “This school is called Practical and Excellence Encouraging Learning Ex-Sewerage District. Or P.E.E.L.E.D. for short.”

       “Sewerage?” Rita had to pull a disgusted face.

       Ex-sewerage,” said Rond. “Try to keep up. Now, come on, we mustn’t be late for assembly.”

       Rond opened the doors and walked in.

       Hamton, Rita and Runt followed the pig down in the middle of a giant hall room. They looked around to see the grey rock coloured walls with giant lights on the wooden ceiling. They see that they were walking in the middle of four rows of tables with no one except birds of all kinds sitting at them.

       The birds didn’t give Hamton, Rita and Runt the most welcoming looks.

       “Those birds are scaring me, Rita,” said Runt.

       “Quiet,” whispered Rita. “Just play it cool.”

       The three toons stopped as Rond stopped and saluted before a really tall flamingo.  “Headmistress, ma’am.”
            The flamingo rose from her stone chair. “Back to your seat, PW7.”

       Rond turned around and went to the second row of tables. She sat uncomfortably next to the birds.

       The headmistress turned to Hamton, Rita and Runt. “Welcome to P.E.E.L.E.D. I am the headmistress, Commander-In-Chief or CIC for short. I am very happy to have a pig and a dog and cat…”
            “Cat!” cried Runt. “Where is the cat?” He snarled and looked around.

       Rita grabbed him by the face. “Pull yourself together.”

       “As I was saying, we now need you to sort out into your houses,” went on CIC. “You can’t join your friend Rond because her house, House Bark, is full anyway. So, Pig, if you take this seat…”

       Hamton gulped and looked at Rond who waved to him to go ahead. So the nervous pig sat on the wooden seat and a metal box came down on his head.

       “What’s this?” asked Hamton.

       “This metal box will decide which house you should be in,” said a firebird in a laboratory coat, who was strapping the strap under Hamton’s chin.

       “So, this is like the Sorting Hat at Hogwarts?” Hamton asked.

       “Yeah, only more metal and electrical,” smiled the firebird.

       “What?” Then Hamton got shocked by electricity.

       A scroll came out of the metal box and the firebird tore it off.

       “What is it, In-G?” asked CIC.

       “In-G?” said Rita.

       “Short for ‘Ingenious’,” said CIC. “She’s head of gadgets and technology here.”

       The scroll in her wings caught ablaze. “Sorry about that, ma’am, but I think it said House Tayboy.”
            “The House of cheer and joy?” asked CIC. “Okay.”

       The Headmistress pointed to the furthest end row of tables and Hamton went to sit next to the unfriendly birds. Then she turned to Runt. “Come on and sit on here, boy,” she said, patting the seat.

       Runt barked excitedly and sat on the seat. In-G put the metal box on his head and strapped it on. He got electrocuted, but unlike Hamton he seemed to enjoy it a lot.

       The scroll came out and In-G grabbed it. She read it before it caught ablaze. “That was House Bark.”

       “Bark! Oh, boy!” cried Runt happily. Then he started barking like mad.     

CIC just grabbed the excited dog and pushed him to the House Bark row of tables.  Then she looked around for Rita, but she couldn’t find her anywhere. “Where is the cat?”

       “Got her,” cried a female voice.

       CIC turned around to see two ostriches – one was female wearing blazers and skirts like Rond and the other one was male wearing blazers and trousers – carrying Rita between them. They threw her to the wooden chair.

       “Thank you, Mersei, Slimy,” said CIC.

       “You’re welcome,” they said together as they flew off.

            “Let me guess,” said Rita, as the metal box was strapped onto her. “They’re twins?”

“More than that,” said In-G. “They’re Head Girl and Head Boy of this school this year.”

            “Why do I feel like I’m going to munity against them?” Rita asked.

Then a scroll came out of the metal box and In-G tore it and read it before it caught ablaze. “House Barfethon.”

Rita saw where the firebird was pointing and she didn’t like the look of the unfriendly looking birds. “Well, the good thing is,” she said, “that I didn’t need to get electrocuted.”

Then guess what happened to her.

The birds laughed at the fed-up, full of smoke Rita.

“Sorry,” said In-G. “The electricity shows up a little late, but rarely.”

“Thanks for telling me that before I got electrocuted,” moaned Rita, as she got off and slowly went to join her house.

“Now, students,” said CIC as she stood before her seat. “Let us give the new recruits a round of applause.”
            CIC started the applause, followed by her members of staff. Hamton, Rita and Runt got a scattered applause from the students.

“Wonderful applause,” said CIC. “Now let’s make today a fun day for them.”

 

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