Chapter 7

New troubles


    At that moment, the music on the radio was interrupted. Important news about the fires was being announced every few minutes .
    "Shh!", Holger whispered, raising his hand.
    Attentively, Renate and the kids listened to what the newsman was reporting. The earlier fires, which had been brought under control after a lot of work, flared up again following last night's storm. Other areas were affected too, but Eagle Creek and surroundings were still the hardest hit.
    "... don't succeed in containing the Deer Park fire, it will reach the community of Eagle Creek within a few short days. Preparations to evacuate the entire valley are being made by the authorities ...", the voice on the radio was saying.
    "Shoot!" Holger's face went pale. Nervously, Michael played with his cutlery.
    Andrea was chewing on her bottom lip. So the time had come! Or almost. "What can we do now?" Worriedly, she looked from one to the other.
    "There's not much we can do", her Mom said. "Except wait and see what the authorities decide and get all our important things together in case we get evacuated." Renate set the last breakfast items on the table and then stirred the pot that was simmering on the stove.


    From the door came a shrill scream that startled everybody. "Daddy shot Gundi?" Nicole started a loud crying-concert.
    "But not on purpose!", her Mom reassured while her Dad explained how the mishap occurred. He had tried to rescue the chickens from the coyotes. One of them had dug under the fence and broken into the chicken coop. Richard had taken a shot and hit him but the bullett ricocheted and hit one of the chickens too.
    With a mournful look on her face Nicole came plodding to the table. She was heart-broken about the whole, ill-fated blunder. "Don't want anything", she snuffled when her Mom placed the bowl of cornflakes in front of her that she usually liked to have for breakfast.
    "I'm really sorry, Nicki-baby", her Dad said grievingly. "Tell me how I can make up for it."
    "Oh, Daddy " Nicole went over to him, wrapped her arms around his neck and sobbed into the collar of his shirt.


    "I want to bury our poor Gundi", Nicole decided. "On that little hill next to the rose bush. I'm sure she'd like it there."
    Michael began to cough. Holger had a hard time keeping himself from bursting into hysterical laughter, and Richard almost choked on his coffee.
    "Sweetie, that's not quite possible", Renate tried to break the news to her youngest gently. She looked unhappy too, not sure how to handle this. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea for Gundi to end up in the soup pot! It would have been better to have the chicken disappear and come up with some kind of a story, but it was too late now. Renate couldn't think of anything quickly so the only thing left was the truth.
    "Why isn't it possible, Mommy? Where is Gundi?" With big, concerned eyes Nicole looked from one to the other. What was the matter with them all? "Did the coyotes eat her?"
    "Not the coyotes, we're going to eat her", Michael, in his own way, had relieved his Mom from her difficult task. "For lunch, to be exact." He pointed to the stove where the soup pot was giving off a mouth-watering aroma.
    It took a moment before Nicole caught on. With a scream, she let her spoon splash into her cornflakes and rocketed from her chair.
    "I'm not eating any of that soup!", she yelled, exasperated. "I'm not going to have one single bite of Gundi!" Crying loudly, she darted out of the kitchen.
    "Of course, you don't have to, sweetheart!", Renate called after her. She pleaded with Nicole to come back and finish her breakfast but it was useless.



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