It was still dark as the door closed behind them with a loud click and they padded softly down the path towards the gate. Patrick pulled the bolt back and lifted the wooden flap. Preston stepped through and the tiger bounced forward, hitting his head hard.
‘Grigs,’ hissed Patrick, pushing him forward. ‘Be careful! Are you sure you don’t want to stay behind.’
‘Coming too,’ said the tiger, running past him as the wooden flap dropped down with a thud. ‘Ow!’
Leaning forward Preston tugged the end of the tiger’s tail out of the gate. ‘Come on, we mustn’t miss the bus, it will be very quiet this early.’ Scurrying away from the house, they ducked under the thick green hedge. Grigs kept looking at the end of his tail.
‘Your tail is just fine,’ snapped Patrick, ‘just keep close to us and make sure you’re not seen.’
Abigail was having a lovely dream. She was warm and comfy and everywhere she looked all she could see was cake. Stretching out her paws she wriggled them and opened her eyes. Where was she? Oh yes, she was in the supermarket. It was still dark it must be very early. Twitching her nose she sat up and pushed the fluffy towels she’d been sleeping on aside. Time to find a little breakfast.
Climbing down the shelves she looked around. Her trolley was pushed behind a big pile of tins and padding over she climbed in, sorting through the boxes of cakes. There! Vanilla and strawberry, nothing like a bit of fruit for breakfast. Sitting on the pile of food, she peered out. The trolley wasn’t very well hidden. Clambering down she pushed it further back, stacking some big tins of biscuits in front of it. There, no one would find it now. She wondered how she’d get it home but her tummy made a rumbling sound. No good thinking about it when she was hungry, she’d work something out, she was sure of it. Running her paws over the box of cakes with a happy sigh, she padded back to her hidey hole. Some vanilla and strawberry and another nap. No point in worrying about things until after breakfast.
The bus was very cold and dusty. Grigs sneezed. Preston had taken out the piece of paper with the bus times written on it and was sitting on it. Balancing carefully he held his paws up off of the floor. He hated getting grubby. Smoothing out his scarf he looked around the bus and sniffed. ‘They could keep it a bit cleaner.’
‘I don’t think they expect anyone to sit on the floor,’ said Patrick. ‘But it isn’t very nice down here.’ He lifted up one of his paws and looked at it. ‘We’ll have to have a bath when we get back. Why did she have to run off like this.’ He glared at Preston again.
‘It wasn’t my fault,’ muttered Preston, ‘I told you that.’
Patrick sighed. ‘Hmm.. well there’s only two more stops, we’d better get ready to get off. Where’s Grigs?’ He looked around. ‘Oh no… Grigs! Where are you?’
Both polars peered out from under the seat. The tiger was sitting on the luggage rack above them.
‘Get down!’ hissed Patrick, ‘someone will see you! How did you get up there?’
‘Bounced,’ said Grigs looking down doubtfully, ‘it’s very high.’
‘Preston get up there and get him down.’
‘Why me?’ asked Preston indignantly. ‘It’s probably even more dusty up there.’
‘Oh for goodness sake..’ clambering up onto the seat Patrick pulled himself up on the shiny silver rail towards the luggage rack. “It’s lucky no ones sitting down here, come on get down!’ Reaching out a paw he grabbed the tigers tail.
‘Ohh I don’t think… whoaaa….’
Patrick pulled hard and with a flash of stripes and flailing paws the tiger fell off of the rack. There was a thud and a cloud of dust shot up into the air. The bus began to slow down.
‘This is our stop,’ said Preston, waving away the dust. ‘Come on we need to get off.’ As the doors opened a cold blast of air blew through their fur. ‘Jump!’ Patrick and Grigs followed him quickly across the pavement and under a bench. Looking around, Preston pointed with his paw. ‘There! There it is, it’s not open yet.’ Across the road they could see the supermarket, it was dimly lit and the doors were firmly closed.
‘We need to find a way in,’ whispered Patrick, ‘I hope she’s in there, come on let’s have a look.’ Scampering across the road they all peered in the window.
Preston shaded his eyes with his paw and leant against the glass. ‘Look… There’s things all over the floor, it looks like… boxes of cake… and chocolate.’
‘She’s in there, said Patrick in relief, ‘thank goodness. But how did she get in?’
‘Where’s the chocolate?’ asked Grigs, pressing his snout against the window. “And why’s it all over the floor?’
Preston had picked up a carrier bag from the pavement. ‘Isn’t this one of ours’ he asked suspiciously, poking his paw inside. ‘And that’s funny, it’s got holes in it. She’s definitely been this way.’ Shaking his head and tutting he folded the bag up and put it in a bin, he was a very neat polar and hated litter. Glancing up he narrowed his eyes. ‘There’s a window open, we can climb up. Come on, you go first Grigs.’ Pushing the tiger forward he patted him encouragingly . ‘Remember, tigers climb really well.’
‘Right,’ said Grigs looking back through the window at the chocolate, ‘right, we climb really really well.’
‘Come on,’ said Patrick, ‘we need to get inside and find her before the supermarket opens. No time to lose.’ Reaching up he began to climb…