Episode 33 – Balls and Malls

Aoraki – Dieter’s House

The next few days passed pleasantly enough as the boys worked their way though Dieter’s extensive video game library, interspersed with swimming in the pool, general lounging about and eating the never ending snacks and drinks supplied by Jarvis. The daily temperatures continued to to warm and by the end of the first week the last of the winter snow had completely melted away. The trees along the canal burst out into a full blaze of pinks, purples and white blossoms.

A pattern had developed. Each night all three boys would retire to their own beds to sleep, but each morning Tag would be found curled up next to Dieter – until of course Tag decided that it was time for breakfast, and then everyone would be up whether they wanted to be or not.

A few days after arriving…

There was a gentle knock on the bedroom door followed by Jarvis bringing in the early morning tray of tea and biscuits.

Jarvis: Good morning Masters – the sun is shining and the birds are singing!

There was an assortment of muffled noises that came from various mounds of bedcovers from either end of the room. Jarvis placed the morning tray on the coffee table in front of the holo-screen.

Tag unfurled himself and made a luxuriously long stretch first arching his back and then sticking his butt and tail straight out behind him. His tail brushed Dieter’s nose.

Dieter: Aaaahchoo!

He shook his head a couple of times, snuffled and blearily opened his eyes

Whuh… Tag! Get ya tail outta my face wouldya?

Tag: Meyrooooooow, meyrooow! I’m hungry! When’s breakfast?

Jarvis: Full breakfast will be served in the dining room in half an hour Master T. I’ve got something new for you to try today, kippers!

Tag: Yay! I wanna try kippers!

Tag paused in thought for a moment

So what’s kippers?

Jarvis: Smoked fish, Master T – fried in a little butter and parsley served with toast.

Dieter: Ewww… that sounds gross!

Jarvis: For you, Master D, I have fried liver and bacon – your favourite!

Dieter: Now we’re talking! You’re the best Jarvis!

Jarvis: Oh no sir, Master D, you’re the best!

After breakfast

Anna came into the dining room just as Dieter was finishing the last few morsels of his liver and bacon and was in the process of licking the plate completely clean.

Anna: Dieter! How many times do I have to tell you – licking the plates is bad manners!

Dieter: Awww Mom! The juices are the best part – and besides, it saves on the washing up!

Anna: Oh I see, so you are offering to help Jarvis with cleaning up the kitchen then? That is so sweet of you hündchen!

Dieter, embarrassed at being called a puppy dog in front of his friends and who had now managed to somewhat back himself into a tight spot, gave a little whine.

Dieter: But Moooooom!

Anna: Arwoof! No buts! You can help Jarvis clean up, while I go and play a set of tennis with Madame Matisse. After that we can all go down to the Mall Canal for lunch. I need to do some shopping, and perhaps you and the other boys might like to pick out some new things as well. My treat.

In the end Jaak and Tag who had been watching this exchange, with a certain level of amusement decided to help Dieter with the clearing up so it was done in super quick time.

Dieter: Hey guys, you have to come and see my Mom play tennis!

Both Jaak and Tag gave Dieter a ‘you’ve gotta be barking mad’ look.

No – seriously! We just have to make sure that we stay hidden in the trees, it’ll be worth it Ok?

Jaak and Tag who were somewhat confused yet intrigued, as to why Dieter would suggest sneaking up on his Mom to watch her play tennis, nonetheless went along with the idea. They all trooped out the French doors and surreptitiously made their way across the backyard into the trees that separated the house from the tennis court. As they drew nearer they could hear the swack, swack of a tennis ball being hit back and forth, on the court. They could now see both Anna and Madame Matisse, a grey chartreux neko playing tennis together.

Dieter lowered his voice in a conspiratorial tone.

Dieter: Shhhh! Stay in the trees and stay low! Now watch!

The game of tennis continued, but every time Madame Matisse, either missed a shot, or a ball went otherwise wayward, Anna would tear off after the ball and bring it back in her mouth and drop it at her friends feet, barking and wagging her tail excitedly.

Madame Matisse: Oh merci beaucoup ma chérie!

Almost giving their position away in the trees, the boys tried in vain to contain uncontrolled fits of giggles, as they hurriedly made their way back through the yard with their paws clamped firmly over their mouths.

Aoraki – Mall Canals

A short distance from Dieter’s house were the mall canals, an underground shopping complex, all inter-connected by canals. A fleet of water taxis ferried customers from one end to the other. All the usual shops could be found, with a variety of clothing, shoe and homeware stores. The mall canal also had an excellent food court, selling all manner of local produce. One of Dieter’s favourite stores was the delicatessen, with all kinds of cured meats, sausages and cheeses.

For Tag especially, the mall presented a sensory overload of new sights, sounds, smells and experiences.

Tag: Nuh uh! I don’t wunna! It’s moving and it’s too scary!

Anna had gone off to do some of her own shopping, and the three boys were at the top of one of the escalators. The only problem was, Tag was refusing to get on. Jaak was starting to lose his patience.

Jaak: Dude. It’s just an escalator, you step on and hold the rail.

Tag: Not gunna!

Dieter: Tag – com’re buddy, I’m gonna help you ok? Just like you helped me when my head was stuck.

Tag: Um… Ok D.

Dieter held out his arms and paws and motioned for Tag to put his arms around Dieters neck. Tag then curled his legs high around Dieter’s waist, as far as he could away from the slithering river of stairs. He buried his nose into Dieter’s shoulder with just his eyes and trembly ears peeking over.

Jaak: Eh. That’ll work.

The trio of friends wandered in and out of various shops, and eventually found themselves in a store that sold all the kinds of t-shirts, board shorts, sweatshirts and sneakers that teen-kits and pups like to wear. Well ones from the city at least. For Tag, a kit from the valleys who was used to only wearing the barest amount of clothing he could get away with, it was a whole new world and education. Jaak and Dieter helped him to pick out some new t-shirts and shorts – however another sticking point occurred when it came down to shoes.

Tag: They feel funny. They make my paws feel all scrunchy.

He took a few tentative steps and promptly fell over himself ending up in a tangle on the floor.

Do I really have to wear these stupid things in the city?

Dieter: Yeah, nah… let’s just stick with the new t-shirts and shorts for you eh. Bare paw for you it is.

In the end the boys left the store loaded with new shirts and shorts for all; shoes for two and sans-shoes for one. They met up with Anna for lunch, which Dieter pronounced to be the ‘best mall lunch ever’ mainly because he was with his two best friends.

For Jaak, he was very much enjoying being back in Aoraki, being at the mall and all it had to offer. Still, coming back was bitter-sweet. There was one nagging thought that kept poking about inside his head.

The central intersection over the mall canals was where he had heard his Mom’s last words.

Jaak: Miss Anna? If we still have time after lunch – I’d like to get a hair cut please.

Previous: Episode 32 – Silk Pajamas
Next: Episode 34 – Tough and Competent

4 thoughts on “Episode 33 – Balls and Malls

  1. Colourbrand 28 March, 2022 / 00:14

    Simple but good travelling story – people eat, shop and be who they are – must admit, the underground canal mall sounds amazing!

    Dieter boxed himself into a right corner 🙂 LOL 😀

    • Craig 28 March, 2022 / 11:27

      The underground mall set was made by Pegasus, a very talented person in the SC4 community a few years ago. He is responsible for much of the custom content we have enjoyed over the years playing SC4… of course SC4 as a game is now primordial – nearly 20 years since its release!

      Dieter – oh yes, well he does seem to have a habit of getting himself into sticky situations – lolz.

    • Craig 22 April, 2022 / 18:19

      Maybe just a little. No big hoofing bush knife though.

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