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Rated: E · Short Story · Mystery · #2280286
Writer's Cramp has requested a 2/2, a Groundhog Day gone wrong. Oh no!
         "Say it isn't so," lamented the Right Honourable Mayor Monty as he shrugged into his parka.
         "Maybe the little guy dug a deeper burrow and he's still slumbering. As I recall he's a heavy sleeper. Animals are unpredictable."
         The local animal control officer, a fidgeter named Frank, shook his head.
         "Sorry sir. The hole is empty. Me and the guys took a good, long look. We didn't find hide nor hair of him."
         As he paced the mayor issued an executive order.
         "Round up a search party pronto. The ceremony is set to begin in four hours. I can't believe that this is happening today of all days."
         "If he wandered off it must mean an early Spring, right? Every year we roust him and hope the beggar doesn't see his shadow. If the rascal is out and about that's a good sign, a fairweather portent, eh?"
         "The press and the townspeople expect to see an albino groundhog. It's been a tradition we celebrate every February second. Get out there and find the wayward fella. Oh, why did I veto council's proposal to equip the town's mascot with a chip? Good ol' hindsight."
         A walkie-talkie strapped to Frank's belt squawked. While tapping his booted foot and grunting a few 'uh-huhs' the man listened.
         "Okay Chief. I have a status report. Two guys claim they saw groundhog tracks near Marge's Pizza. Maybe Willie is a bit peckish? Wait, no. According to Google groundhogs dislike the smell of garlic, pepper, basil and oregano. Marge keeps her recipe close to the vest, but my nose has sniffed those four out."
         Monty collapsed into his desk chair wringing his hands. The ringing phone caused him to jerk.
         "Yes, hello? How would I know? 'Cause Wiarton Willie never spoke with me. Hold on. I'll ask the local expert. He's still standing right here."
         With the phone's handset held to his chest Monty barked a question.
         "Is it possible for a groundhog to climb? Someone's dog has something white treed."
          "Yep, Google assures me that's definitely a possibility. Is the white animal whistling?"
         "Allow me to enquire. Do you hear whistling? Hard to tell? I hear non-stop baying and something like a hiss. Wait, is that yelping?"
         Sighing the mayor ended the call. He strode to the nearby window to stare out at the snow-covered street before he spoke.
         "Apparently that stupid hound treed a pissed-off cat with sharp claws."
         For the next three hours, radio and phone didn't stop buzzing. Everyone and their brother claimed to have spied Wiarton Willie. One person reported that a young girl had coaxed the elusive beast into a frilly dress and bonnet so she could parade him around in a doll stroller. Another joker swore he waved to Willie as he passed him seated in a bus bound for Toronto. The most disturbing call came from a farmer who discovered a pool of blood and tufts of scattered white fur outside his barn.
         A somber-looking Mayor Monty straightened his sash of office, wiped his beaded brow and cleared his throat when he stepped before a bank of microphones and expectant people.
         "Ladies and gentlemen I regret to inform you that there will not be a Groundhog Day prognostication today. This is a sad first for our little town. Wiarton Willie has disappeared. He's missing without a trace. Will there be an early spring? I cannot say. We must believe in the weather-predicting skills of Willie's counterparts. What may Alberta's Balzac Billy show us? Will Manitoba Mel indicate more winter? There is a 'Winterpeg' after all. Shubenacadie Sam and Lucy Lobster have not reported from the Maritimes. Let's not forget Fred la marmotte in Quebec. He's a neighbour and he may help us. Bonhommie and all that. In the meantime, if you hear whistling try answering it. Wiarton Willie may be signalling for help."
         Frank stepped forward and the whisper he'd aimed at Monty's chin instead of his ear reverberated and echoed through the crowd.
         "Does Punxsutawney Phil have an agent and a passport?" ( 674 words )
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