The Hunt For Fungi
Fridge Warriors - Chapter 1
It is with great panic that Kabbak is scanning the bathroom floor and cupboards. He is in a semi-sitting standing position and small sweat drops are forming on his forehead. The thing is, Kabbak suffer from 'endrollphobia' (the fear of running out of toilet paper) and it seems as if his worst fear is about to come true.
With his pants still around his ankles and his sword next to the basin he slowly settles down again on the toilet seat. He is trying to relax while he is contemplating his next move.
"Ella!!" he shouts in a voice that screams desperation.
"What?" she screams from the living room.
"Help!?" Kabbak reply.
Moments later Ella's face appears in the doorframe and immediately understands what is going on. She smiles. His eyes are pleading while his hands are holding an empty toilet roll…
"Ok, my little 'kwakkiekwakkie' I will bring a new roll for you.
"Thank you", the tough Viking Warrior whispers.
"Hurry up old man!", she shouts, "we have to go into battle tonight."
"Who are we fighting tonight?", he asks while flushing the toilet.
"Some splinter group from the McCrimini Clan. They are young and inexperienced; it should be a walk in the park for us."
"I hope so, we are all running low on magic dust and we need to come back with bags full of *toenail fungus. If we don't win the fight tonight, we won't be coming back with loot."
(*Toenail fungus is harvested from 'old' humans. The fungus is then mixed with peanut butter, Earl Grey tea and some Shiitake mushrooms. The final product, a thick grey paste, is then left to dry before being ground into a fine powder to create a magical dust that forces animals into submission)
Ella seems to ignore him while she is busy with her hair. She does this every time before a battle. Spends a lot of time in front of the mirror making herself as pretty as possible.
"Why do you do this?" Kabbak has got a question mark on his face.
"Do what?" (Ella is playing innocent)
"Getting all sexy and beautiful! We are going into battle?"
"I know 'kwakkie', but it makes me feel stronger and powerful"
"oh", he says and seems to ponder on the thought…
"Why in the world do you call me 'kwakkie'? I mean, what is a 'kwakkie?" Kabbak looks serious and annoyed at the same time while he is fixing his sword on his belt.
"I called you 'kwakkiekwakkie' and it's just a term of endearment, my dear".
"oh", says Kabbak. He grabs his blowpipe and shield before checking that he has magic dust balls fixed to his belt.
"Ready?", he asks Ella.
"Ready my love", she says softly before uttering the most spine-shilling war cry ever. She does that cause she knows that it's a turn-on for Kabbak.
With the desired effect visible on Kabbak's face the two of them make their way to 'the ropes'. (Climbing ropes hanging underneath the access routes to the human world)
Now, understand this; over the last 1000 years, the Fridge Warriors have created a magnificent maze of tunnels, carved out cave systems and flourished in little boroughs where they stayed underground. These 'boroughs are known as 'sectors' and each human city has got numerous tiny Viking sectors' underneath it. Each 'sector' has got numerous human houses on top of it and this means that there are numerous fridges as well.
It is underneath the fridges where the Vikings are creating access doors to the human world.
So, according to tiny Viking culture, no Viking clan is allowed to go up into the human world without fighting for the right to do so. Two clans will meet underneath a fridge to go into battle. The losers have to retreat into the tunnels and the winners can proceed into the house to plunder and steal. This is where the terminology 'Fridge Warriors' comes from.
Joining about 100 other warriors from the McSword Clan, Kabbak and Ella are busy climbing the access ropes to the battlefield. Tonight, the battlefield address is No 88 Obelix Rd in Tamboerskloof, Cape Town. That is the human address, the underground address is Sector 77 – human house 44.
Why this specific house? Because it is owned by two very old humans which means that the chances of an abundance of toenail fungus are very good.
At exactly 11 pm Kabbak opens up the first access door under the fridge of human house 44. At the same time another door opens up at the other end of the battlefield and the entire McCrimini Clan proceed to make their way onto the battlefield. There is tension in the air as both clans settle down on opposite sides of the field. The stakes are high and both sides are well aware of this.
Then the customary 'staring battle' takes place. Each member of the clan tries to lock eyes with a member from the opposite side and tries to stare them down.
Finally, Kabbak raises his tiny sword in the air and Shouts; "AAAAAAAAAAGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!" Followed by the rest of the McSword Clan he starts running toward the fast-approaching enemy.
What followed in the next two minutes is the kind of stuff that Hollywood directors dream of. Although it was a short battle, it was brutal. Steel collided with steel, shield against shield and steel into flesh. A few ears got chopped off and some egos got bruised but luckily no fatalities this time. You see, the rules are simple;
Rule no1: Once the leader of a clan has either been killed or forced into submission then the battle is over and that clan lost the fight.
Rule 2: It is not allowed to use magic dust balls on fellow Fridge Warriors, only on animals such as cats, dogs, ants, moles, insects and the odd human.
This time the McCrimini Clan lost the battle at Sector 77, Human House 44. They retreat in silence while carrying their wounded including their so-called 'mighty warrior' leader Juma. Turns out Juma was not such a great warrior and came into power via a menu of bribery and corruption scenarios…
With the losers back into the tunnels the winners are now preparing to enter the human house and 'hunt' for toenail fungus, the ultimate prize of any fridge battle.
Kabbak immediately takes the lead;
"What are we dealing with?" he asks Two-Toe-Bob, his trusted scout and fellow fridge warrior.
"We are very lucky", says Two-Toe-Bob, "There is only one cat in the house. Currently sleeping on a chair in the lounge, the humans are asleep.
"Great! Let's get to work. Take twenty warriors and go and throw the cat into dreamland. You have enough magic balls?"
"Plenty...", says Two=Toe-Bob with a smile and signal his team to follow him.
Kabbak and the rest of the Clan are now making their way to the main bedroom. Approximately 80 little Vikings with small shields, swords and satchels around their wastes are busy tip-toeing down the hallway.
They are all silent and focused on the job at hand. Everyone knows exactly what to do.
Team 1 will make sure that the humans don't wake up. (They will pepper them with magic dust.) Although the dust does not have the same effect as it does on animals, a triple dose of the stuff, from 20 blow pipes, will make them snore for a few minutes more and that's all that Team 2 need to extract the toenail fungus from their wrinkled feet.
Once in position, the different teams are now standing at the top and the bottom of the human bed. Signalling the 'go-ahead' to each other they simultaneously form little Viking ladders by standing on each other shoulders while holding onto the sheets. Within a few seconds, some of them reached the top and start to execute their tasks.
With Ella leading Team 1 and sorting out the humans it gives Kabbak a chance to catch up with an old friend while 'harvesting' fungus.
"Svante! my friend, how are you doing?", While getting to work on a toenail twice the size as himself.
"Hey buddy, ok I guess", his friend replies while holding open a satchel to store the fungus.
"My wife left me last week", Svante says matter-of-factly.
"Sorry to hear, what happened?" Kabbak is just making conversation, he is not interested in the actual reason.
"Says that she wants me to spend more time at home and less time on the battlefield! She wants me to be a *'homely man'! Can you believe it?"
(*It's a matter of pride for the little Vikings to be called Fridge Warriors! Being stuck at home, and cleaning the house is sort of frowned upon. Although a big portion of the underground Viking population run marketplaces and own different kinds of shops and pubs, it is still the ultimate honour to be a successful Fridge Warrior. You can sell all your plunder to the owners of the shops while keeping the best for you and your family.)
"Yeah! cannot see you as a 'homely man'," Kabbak says and start laughing uncontrollably. He almost loses his sword and a big piece of fungus in the process.
Svante, now also laughing, catch the fungus just in time and safely tuck it away in his satchel.
"She already moved in with the owner of the furniture store in Sector 29, can you believe it?"
"Unbelievable!", Kabbak says while grunting and scraping the last bit of fungus from the human nail.
"Sorry my friend", he says in solidarity with his buddy. "Come let's get out of here. Looks like the others are finished with the rest of the toenails."
Five minutes later the three teams regroup under the fridge and there is great excitement. Team 3 which was responsible for taking care of the cat, managed to secure two teabags of Earl Grey tea, (an essential ingredient for making 'magic dust') a half-eaten chicken leg, two satchels full of rice grains and three satchels full of sugar. Teams 1 and 2 harvested 10 satchels full of toenail fungus and there were no hiccups with the humans. A great night indeed.
Singing folk songs, Kabbak and Ella lead their warriors off the battlefield and down the ropes underneath the fridge. Once back in the tunnels they divide all the plunder between each other. Each warrior can now do with his share what he pleases. Some keep half and sell the rest to the market owners and others take everything home to store for the future.
Kabbak and Ella (with the lion's share of the fungus in their satchels) are walking hand in hand to the laboratory tunnels. There they will sell the fungus to Dr Coronas, a respected elder in the Viking communities and master 'magic dust' creator.
…to be continued.