Lottie felt as though she had slept well, the entire night in fact. However, on checking the time by her bedside clock, 2.47a.m. was by no means a whole night's sleep. Then she remembered what had woken her, it was a voice, a male voice. She sat up in bed for a moment while her eyes and ears became accustomed to the sights and sounds in the early morning bedroom, listening too for the voice that had disturbed her slumber.
"Madam, madam, do come quickly", the voice urged again, she was not mistaken then. "Who is it?" cried Lottie somewhat nervously, all the while scanning the room for the origins of the voice. "Here madam, down here. Please, we have little time, do follow me as quickly as you can, there really is no time to waste". "Eric, is that you?" Lottie questioned, fixing her gaze upon her terrier, who was pacing to and fro near his basket in the corner of her bedroom, after all, apart from Lottie, there was no one else present. "Indeed, madam, indeed, now please do make haste", the dog was becoming most aggitated. Lottie jumped from her bed, remembering her slippers as her feet touched the floor and she thrust both into them in one movement. She grabbed a multi-coloured cardigan from the open wardrobe as she passed the cupboard, then stood in the corner of the room behind Eric awaiting his next instruction.
"Follow me madam, if you will", Eric said, appearing to indicate a small gap between the floor and the skirting board. "We'll never......" Lottie began, but had no time to complete her sentence as a bright ray of blue light, an icey blast of air and a shooting pain in her lower back stopped her from speaking further. Before Lottie knew what was happening, and how impossible it all was, she found herself standing ankle deep in the lushest greenest grass she had ever seen, and ahead saw far into the distance acres and acres of poppies, the flower heads swaying gently in the balmy breeze like tiny ballerinas wearing skimpy red silk dresses and dancing gracefully to inaudible music.
"This is beautiful", Lottie exclaimed, "where are we Eric, why are we where ever it is we are and what will you astound me with next?" Lottie hardly drew breath before adding, "and when did you start talking my dear four legged friend, and in such a cultured manner too, I feel almost ashamed to have simply named you Eric, you are surely from very noble beginnings?" "Madam, it is of no consequence at all, I am happy to serve as your companion as I always have, but since you ask, I am in fact Sir Raef de Ponsonby III. Of course you may continue to call me Eric, I have grown rather fond of the name over the years" Eric had replied to Lottie, half smiling. "Now, we have a distance to travel, so we must not waste time discussing the why, when and wheres, we need to make the most of the daylight hours, I will explain all that is necessary as we go", the dog added, tail erect as he walked purposefully onwards amidst the grass and poppies. Lottie followed obediently, adding, "I shall be more than a little interested to hear all you have to tell me, Sir Raef", she smiled down at her pet and they walked forward together secure in each others company.
"It's like this madam", Eric began. "Oh please, call me Lottie, if we are to be on equal footing", Lottie said. "Certainly Mad....., Lottie", corrected Eric. "As I was saying, I have been able to talk for many years, it's just that until today you have not been able to hear me, all animals can speak you know, we are seldom heard of course because that is the way it has always been preferred. I am afraid Lottie, dear one, that earlier we were in grave danger and the closeness and severity of that danger allowed you to hear me speak for the first time, had you chosen to ignore my speaking, I fear we would both have perished. That is why we are here, where it is safe", Eric paused, looking very serious before he continued, "there are dark forces, inexplicable but evil and determined to do harm to mankind. The animal kingdom have known this for some time and we have been in long and rigorous training in readiness for this day". Eric paused again, allowing Lottie to interject, "were no humans privvy to any of this Eric? Surely governments were aware and had some master action plan ready to hatch at a moment's notice?" "No my dear, I assure you this was not the case at all, the forces which are at work are far too powerful to be detected by mere humans", Eric stated as though it should have been obvious. "I am not even going to think abouto the human versus animal debate Eric, too much has happened already that I cannot even begin to understand, I will simply accept what you, my pet and faithful friend, are saying for I believe I am already in your debt, although that too is beyond my comprehension", Lottie sighed as though exhausted by the many and strange thoughts her mind was harbouring. Then, out of the blue, both companions were surprised by a figure approaching at some considerable speed, weaving madly through the poppies and waving frantically as he or she came into clear view. Eric stood firm and masterful, attempting to shield Lottie from potential danger, but he need not have worried for this was............