Stanley sobbed in to Angel King Wolfgang’s fur until he ran out of tears. They walked back in to the Kingdom a little and sat on a pretty bench by the Edelweiss patch.
Surveying Wolfgang, Stanley was mesmerised. He looked so healthy and fit despite being well, dead. He looked in the peak of glowing health and his wings illuminated his thick brindle fur. His eyes were bright and his plume as glorious as it had ever seen.
“Wolfy, how did you get here? I mean, not to be rude or anything but aren’t you, erm, I mean, didn’t you…erm…well, I don’t know how to say this...”
“Yes, Stan, I died, many years ago, after Bailey and Coffee got me back to my time. I was glad to return, even though I only got a few more weeks with Sally and Stella at least we were reunited, as a fur family. I see you got my message!”
“Now I am an angel, watching over you above the clouds with all the other fur angels. I am restored to my best beyond ‘Biscuit Mountain’! Don’t ask any more Stan, I cannot divulge further but, just to say, there’s nothing to be afraid of up there…”
Stanley wanted to ask so much, but he honoured what Wolfgang said and kept his lips buttoned. The Angel King continued.
“So, today I was asked to return to the mortal world briefly, after seeing you in distress, to see what I could do to help. Please young man, explain what the problem is.”
With a heavy sigh, Stanley told the whole sorry scenario, right up to the part where he ran away and saw the glow.
“I can never go back Wolfy, never. I am a failure and a laughing stock. Maisie won’t love me and, well, everyone will tolerate me of course but they will never feel the same about me and I don’t suppose Maisie will even want to be seen with me anymore and that means I won’t get to see Beth either because she won’t want such a bad influence on her little sister and I love Beth as if she was my little sister too. I am so rubbish.”
“Stanley, of course they still love you, everyone makes mistakes. Don’t you think King Bailey or I ever got anything wrong?” King Wolfgang had never admitted it to his friends in the future, but it was his foolhardiness that got him trapped in a time burp in the first place. But he assumed that it was how it was meant to be. That was his excuse and he was sticking with it!
“You, Bailey, Coffee, Paddy, you always pull things around and it seems like they were meant to happen that way. Bailey always says ‘it is as it is, as it was and as it always will be’ so he knows, because he and Coffee are the chosen ones. I do silly things. I am nothing but a liability. No, it’s best if I just jump back through my fairy door to Mama and Dad, put all notions and thoughts of Tzu Kingdom aside and just stop in the human world. Forever.”
“Wolfy, I would be grateful if you could leave a note for me saying, ‘goodbye from Stan, he loves you all, don’t look for him, it’s for the best. His doughnut stash is in his locker, under his spare uniform shorts’.”
Purposefully, he got up and started to march back towards the main building.
“STANLEY SHIH TZU!” hollered Wolfgang, “you will break their hearts if you do that. Plus, I can’t hold a pen now!” He pointed to his wings and shrugged.
The young tzu paused for a moment and hung his head.
“You’re right, maybe I just have to put up with the consequences of my foolishness and just come through less and less until I’m just not important any more. Reduce my shifts in Scout Tower. Slowly wean them off me. You know Angel Wolfy, this is such a pickle. Maybe it would have been better if I had never discovered Tzu Kingdom at all.”
Wolfgang stopped in his tracks and looked up to the sky. He nodded and winked.
“That could work,” he whispered, still looking up.
“OK, Stanley, let’s do this.”
Wolfgang wrapped his paws and wings around Stanley, a bright glow enveloped them both and a chill wind whistled past. Stanley felt different and he didn’t know why. He looked down. His boots were clean. He felt his coat and it was no longer covered in mud. He looked at his paws and his fur was bright and fluffy again.
“What just happened?”
“You got your wish Stanley. You aren’t here. You never have been. You never discovered Tzu Kingdom. Let us see what this world would be like without you.”
Wolfgang grabbed Stanley around his middle, glowed and flew away with him in his grip.
They landed somewhere horrible with a putrid smell.
Stanley looked around and he knew he had been here before. There was broken glass on the floor and a ramshackle kennel. He heard shouting and whimpering.
A big nasty lady with a bottle of beer and a cigarette was screaming at a little grey and white, matted tzu to get back in the stinky kennel.
A pain jolted through his body as he realised where he was and who was in the kennel.
“Wolfgang, this is the night of the day that I first came to Tzu Kingdom! I rescued my little Maisie, brave as a lion! Oh, you are going to get to see me being a hero – I went back for Maisie’s teddy bear, Millicent, you know, the one in the Comforter Wing! She wouldn’t leave without her and I even defied Phoebe to get her! How naughty of me, but I got them both safe. I tripped the bad lady up!” he laughed.
They watched together. Alice, Pom Pom, Phoebe and Paddy jumped through, followed by Franc.
“No, that’s not right Wolfgang. I came through with Paddy. I volunteered…” his voice trailed off as he realised.
“You might have done Stanley, but now you haven’t discovered Tzu Kingdom. You didn’t meet Coffee, you don’t know Paddy, you’ve never jumped through a fairy door and burped and you have never heard of the ‘Paw Stomp’.”
He watched on as Franc ran in to the kennel, just like he had done. Paddy interjected in their conversation just like the first time, Maisie sobbed, came out with Franc and jumped up to Paddy.
‘Phew, it’s all going to be ok, even without me,’ he thought.
Half way back and the team were all running towards the fairy door and back to safety when Maisie started screaming for Millicent. Just like she did before, she wriggled out of Paddy’s paws and ran back for her pink bear.
Stanley willed some fur to run after her like he had done, but the bad lady had appeared and, in this world, there was no fur to stop her. She chased them all as Maisie ran back to the kennel.
“It’s not safe, it’s not safe. Abort mission,” Phoebe shouted. Obediently, they all jumped through to Tzu Kingdom leaving Maisie behind.
Stanley looked at Wolfgang for reassurance. “They go back for my Maisie, don’t they?”
“Yes, the very next day,” he nodded, “but she was nowhere to be seen, all that remained in the kennel was a teddy bear named Millicent. Maisie has not been seen since.”
A flash of light and they landed in another dank, grim environment. In the middle of a storm.
Stanley tried to figure out where Wolfgang had taken him this time. He could barely see through the driving rain and it was gloomy dark too. But then something happened; a fairy door opened, and he knew just where he was. It was the rescue of the twelve jewel and metal pups, their parents, Beth and her mother Molly.
It was the biggest rescue that had ever been attempted in Tzu Kingdom and the rescuers had been divided in to teams. There were twelve puppies and six adults to rescue, or so had been thought. When they arrived, they discovered two more – Molly and her puppy Beth, now Maisie’s little sister. He remembered with fondness how Phoebe had fostered Beth after her mother had closed her eyes for the last time when they landed in the Welcome Room.
They watched the action unfold before them. It was a strange experience for Stanley, he had watched it all unfold once before from Scout Tower with Maisie, in awe at Coffee, still Chief Scout at the time, and Paddy in charge. The teams ran back and forth with puppies in their paws, helping the weak parent dogs run to safety. Then it happened, Phoebe heard a sound – which he knew now to be Molly shouting for help- and ran back in to the building only to be trapped with them.
“Wolfy watch this, Paddy, Maisie and me…we come through and rescue them. Watch, watch!”
Sure enough, Paddy jumped through the fairy door in his borrowed rescuer kit. But no one followed.
Stanley turned to Wolfgang, who shook his head sadly.
“You never discovered Tzu Kingdom Stan, remember, Maisie is who knows where. Paddy is all alone trying to rescue Phoebe.”
Stan wiped the tears from his eyes as he watched Paddy, panicked and frightened, try to open the door. Suddenly, a bolt of light hit the lock and the door flung open. It was the fairies! They were there helping just like the first time. Maybe it would be OK without him.
A little while later Paddy and Phoebe ran out with Molly and Beth but it had taken longer than the first time. Blocking their way were three horrible, stinky, ugly men with bad teeth. They both watched in horror as they chased after them, Molly holding Beth tight.
It was no use, Molly was weak and the men caught her, clinging to Beth.
“Save yourselves, run…” she cried with her last breath.
Paddy and Phoebe had no option, they ran back to Tzu Kingdom leaving dying Molly and her small puppy Beth behind.
“I don’t like this, I don’t like this,” cried Stanley, “I want to see something nice now…”
“Like Christmas?” suggested Wolfgang. To his little friend’s nods, he covered him with his wings again and there they were, just at the moment when Santa Paws Shay crash landed in Tzu Kingdom.
Toys, gifts, teddies and treats bounced all around and the sleigh wheels buckled when it landed on top of Santa Paws, thankfully with him between the wheels and just banging his head slightly. Dogs of all shapes and sizes flew through the air in a terrifying display. How they all escaped serious injury Stanley would never know.
After a few minutes the doors flung open and Queen Coffee tore across the patio and to the sleigh where a motionless Santa Paws lay, calling his name.
Stanley watched and tried to think back to that night, even though it was a few years ago and he had forgotten some things. But, no, he was right. King Bailey ran to the sleigh too.
He turned to Wolfgang to ask but thought better of it. Without his presence in Tzu Kingdom Maisie and Beth were unaccounted for at present and he didn’t want to think about any more bad things. Anyway, this was the year that Bailey delivered the gifts, maybe he was getting changed into his Santa Bailey suit.
The scene dissolved away as Santa Paws and Team Christmas were carried and helped in to the Comforter Wing but there was still no sign of Bailey and they found themselves inside as Coffee, Mabel and Myrtle tended to the wounded. Stranger still, Coffee was in a scout uniform and not wearing the stunning green dress that had made her husband go “hubba”.
‘Paddy will be in shortly with his brother Mitch to fix the sleigh,’ he thought. But Paddy never arrived and the scene dissolved away once more.
Now, a party of dogs from Santa Paws Land had arrived and were talking with the Queen. They picked up Santa Paws on a stretcher and loaded him on to a plain, wooden sleigh, sprinkled some Christmas sprinkles and flew away above the clouds. They returned minutes later, taking the team in stages and flying them home.
“It’s really only good for firewood now,” said a small terrier called Pixie, looking over the Christmas sleigh as they took the final casualties away.
She went over to Coffee to comfort her.
“Shay will be fine in a few days and we can build a new sleigh for next year. Team Christmas will ride again sweet Coffee – it’s only one Christmas and, well, we didn’t have anything for the dogs-less-fortunate anyway. No, no tears, these things happen.”
“Look, let me talk to Embry, maybe you can come and spend a few days with us, bring Bailey too and he can talk with Shay whilst we have a Pamper Night. It will do you both the world of good. We have to get Bailey back to his old self…things can’t go on like this much longer, something will have to change, look at you my darling girl, your eyes are heavy, your ears are flat and there’s nothing of you...it's making you ill with worry.”
Stanley looked at Wolfgang, he didn’t know what was going on and he needed some straight answers.
“Wolfy, please, it didn’t happen like this, it doesn’t make sense. We delivered the presents and we went to Hotel Battenberg in Paris to see Louis the Canine Concierge and we flew over the River Seine and we ate snails, well spat them out, and Bailey was Santa Paws for the night and Coffee was so proud of him. I need to talk to my best friend, I want to see Paddy, back in today time.”
Wolfgang was melancholy too, he loved Coffee and Bailey after spending such a long time with them and this was difficult to watch, but there was worse to come.
Tzu Kingdom: It's A Wonderful Kingdom
Copyright © Karen Chilvers & Gill Eastgate - 2018 First Edition
The authors assert the moral right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act1988 to be identified as the authors of this work. All Rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted, in any form or by any means without the prior consent of the authors, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.