The Pecking Order.
Yesterday had to be the worst day Lucky had ever experienced. She woke up hours before Almond and Felix, scratching the multiple ants crawling over her. The sun beamed down on their makeshift home and nature suddenly called. However, the thought of going out in the middle of nowhere disgusted her… and yet, there was no other option.
She got some distance from the two sleepyheads and conducted her business. Once she had went, sounds of leaves shuffling perked her ears. Fearful, she paid extra attention to her surroundings as she listened for any movement and sure enough, something was moving its way toward her.
In a panic, Lucky scampered back to the safety of her two new acquaintances.
“W-wake up!” she stammered, nudging them awake with all her might.
Felix was the first to open his eyes and Lucky regretted her actions at once.
“WHAT!?” He grunted.
Suddenly, Lucky forgot her voice. She stood by him, frightened and dazed.
“SPIT IT OUT!” Felix shouted.
“Well, well, well,” a voice seemingly from nowhere chimed in. “It has been a while, Felix.”
A one eyed, grey and white hare hopped in the direction of the trio with a menacing grin. Two geese marched behind it with a sense of pride in their step. Lucky examined these new animals carefully.
Are these guys friends or foes? She thought to herself.
“Good morning, Avery…” Felix addressed the hare.
“You have the payment to stay here, Felix?” Avery asked.
“I t-t-thought master Avery t-t-told you not to show your face ‘round t-t-these parts again otherwise it’d be t-t-trouble,” one of the geese said. “This is our t-t-territory, Felix!”
For the first time since Lucky had met him, Felix seemed a lot more submissive. He didn’t give eye contact to the hare the geese called Avery, instead choosing to watch the ground. Avery looked as if he took great pleasure in seeing him like that.
“We… er… I was captured by these humans and I just got out. We just needed a place to crash for the night—”
“That’s not my problem,” Avery began. “What did I tell you during our last meeting, Felix?”
Felix did not respond.
“Loudmouth! Dimwit! Tear into him!” Avery hollered.
The geese took notice to their names and didn’t hesitate on his order. They raced over to Felix, knocked him all over the place with their powerful wings and when that wasn’t enough, they bit into him all over the place! The sight horrified Lucky as she contemplated whether to jump in or not. She desperately wanted to help Felix, but at the same time, she didn’t want that same treatment.
Felix’s agonizing screams finally tore into Lucky and enough was enough. She pounced on one of the geese and clawed as much as she could.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. With a flick of one of their wings, Lucky was flung onto the ground and was almost knocked unconscious.
“ENOUGH! Don’t kill them!” Avery screamed prompting his goons to end their assault.
As Avery approached Felix, Lucky tried her best to move toward them. Her strength wasn’t there so she laid in despair as she watched the formidable hare grab hold of the canine’s snout.
“You remember now?” Avery asked.
“…yes…” Felix moaned. His fur looked rougher than ever before.
“What do you remember?”
“This is your… territory… we don’t have any right being here… I’m sorry for being here…”
“Gooood boy. Next time you’ll respect the pecking order, huh?” He laughed vigorously and the geese soon joined in. “You have about an hour to leave here… And don’t ever show your face around here again… especially without some form of payment.”
An hour had passed and the trio hit the road once more. Lucky and Felix were limping with each step of the way as Almond talked up a storm.
“Why didn’t you wake me up, Felix!? Why, if it was me, Avery would no longer be around. I may be small but I know where to go in for the kill.”
“You wouldn’t have gotten near him thanks to the geese,” Felix said. “Don’t underestimate them.”
“What was that all about?” Lucky asked. “Who was he and why was he so angry about us sleeping in that box?”
“I guess I shouldn’t fault you too much seeing as how you’re a newly released wild animal,” Almond said.
Lucky wasn’t too sure how to respond to her new title.
“That was Avery… he’s probably one of the biggest bullies you’ll ever see He has been giving the both of us trouble since we came over to this place. You see, we have this thing called the pecking order,” Almond began. “Somewhere at the very top sits Avery and at the very bottom is where we are at. Because he is so high up, he rules this little area we happen to be roaming in.”
“But isn’t he just a rabbit or something? Why is he so high up?” She asked.
“He’s not just a radd—er—hare. He has even more animals backing his every move. If Avery wanted to, he could have them dispose of us at a moment’s notice,” Almond said.
All of this new information confused Lucky even further, but one thing for sure, Avery wasn’t someone to be trifled with.
“Animals at the very bottom of the pecking order are expected to obey those at the top so if we want a place to stay—”
“We must pay their price,” Felix interrupted. “In this world, the strong devours the weak. If you happen to be well connected, like Avery, you can do whatever you want. Those at the bottom are trash. All we are good for is the payment we make to them.”
Trash. The word rang in Lucky’s ears.
Was I always trash? She asked herself. I was found near trash… maybe I was never wanted in the first place.
“One day, we’ll be at the top of the pecking order… and everyone up there will get there due,” Felix growled. “…Oh, and thank you, cat…”
“For what?” Lucky asked.
“For… helping me earlier… it wasn’t much but…”
Being praised by someone as stern as Felix made Lucky feel incredibly happy.
“What did I tell you, Felix? I know how to pick them that’s for sure!” Almond chuckled.
“It was pure luck you found her, idiot,” Felix groaned. “But never mind that… we got a walk ahead of us so no slacking. If I recall we have about thirty-three miles until we are out of Avery’s territory.”