Saulie the Collie is Collared by Mick the Moose

Lieutenant Mick the Moose of MacDonald Farm’s Police Force is watching his newest collar, Saulie the Collie, through the one-way window.  Saulie, stubborn as a mule, won’t talk without his lawyer.  Saulie’s associate, Curvy Kit, exotic, short-haired, a dancer at the Cat’s Meow, is in another interview room.

Mick groans when “Lucky” Ed Shetland joins his client.  He is the associate of “Clever” Hans Trotter and both are known for legal horseplay.

“Time for the dog and pony show,” Mick mutters.

Shetland remains standing when Mick moseys in, says, “Moose, call me Mr. Ed.”

Mick grins at Saulie.  “Got you now.  You and Kit, fighting like cats and dogs, to create a ruckus so your aptly named pal, Cheeta, could pick pockets.”

Mr. Ed snorts, while Saulie just barks, “I’m no fly, you’re no spider.”

“Ha, ha!  Now start yapping.  And remember Kit is next door so no cock-and-bull.”

Saulie whines, “You think I threw the cat among the pigeons for monkey business?”

“Kit coughed it up,” Mick lies. “Said you was the top dog.”  In fact, Kit had hissed, “I’m no rat” and had promptly started to nap.

“You think I’m a sap, sucker!  She ain’t no canary.  And besides, we were just larking.  Not our fault if the gawkers were sitting ducks.”

“That dog don’t hunt,” Mick rumbles.  “This play has been your cash cow for donkey’s years.  Tell us where the loot is or your goose is cooked.”

Mr. Ed interjects, “Hold your horses!  Stop monkeying around!  Your case is a pig’s ear.”

Just then Mick’s partner Billy the Goat barges in.  “Mick, Cheeta just surrendered.  Seems some hens crossed the road, going home to roost, found him hiding, went ape, attracted wild geese who chased him. Says he’ll confess if we save him from the angry birds.”

Saulie looks like he’s going to have kittens and Mick smiles. “Now it’s dog-eat-dog.  Best deal goes to the first to eat crow.”

Saulie and Mr. Ed eyeball each other.  Mr. Ed says, “I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.  This is a horse of a different color.  What are you offering?”

“First to talk gets one year in the Wren Pen, the other five.”

Saulie growls, “That snake in the grass.  He’ll just let the cat of the bag.  Me and Kit have the lion’s share in a satchel in the Mustang’s trunk.  Don’t know where Cheeta has squirreled away his cut of the pickings.”

After Saulie is led away,  Mick slaps Billy on the back.  “I swan, that was more fun than a barrel of monkeys.  He swallowed that story, whole hog.”

Billy hee-hawed, “Saulie’s going to be a bear with a sore head, when he finds out that when we nabbed Cheeta, Cheeta screamed he would chatter when pigs fly.”

“Well, thanks to you we’ve got them both.  Killed two birds with one stone, three if you count Kit.  And the good folks of MacDonald’s Farm will get their goods back. Time for a brew at Dumbo’s Watering Hole.”


Duke and the Cheshire Cat: Round Two

Lt. Duke LeJeune was sitting in his office staring at gruesome crime scene photos.  Because he was a homicide detective this was not unusual.  He was deep in thought constructing theories about the murderer when his cell phone buzzed.  After a short conversation, he turned to his young colleague Sgt. Adele Palmer, a cybercrime specialist, and said sourly, “Seems like the Cheshire Cat is back at Gilgamesh, and the CEO is certain only we can save his company.”

“Cheshire Cat…you mean the anonymous group, The Friends of Lewis Carroll, is back with ransom demands?”

Duke scowled, “Yes. They’ve hacked into Gilgamesh servers again and all their systems are locked.  And like last time, they’re threatening to steal Gilgamesh code to blackmail Gilgamesh customers, if they don’t get what they want.”

“Very serious, Duke.  Over a 100 banks use Gilgamesh programs.  And what do they want?”

“To win the rematch with the beamish boy.”

Adele couldn’t hold back a giggle at hearing the word ‘boy’ applied to the brawny, ex-Special Forces lieutenant. “You mean they want a rematch with you, three riddles again?”

“Yes…so let’s go.  And this time maybe we can trace the hackers.”

The CEO and CTO, both late-thirties, both former coders, both looking grey, were waiting for them in the conference room.  A large monitor connected to a laptop  displayed a grinning cartoon calico cat wearing black bushy eyebrows, black-framed glasses, a black bushy mustache and a prominent nose.

“Great, the Cheshire Cat dressed up as Groucho Marx,” Duke muttered.

“Groucho who?” the CTO and Adele asked simultaneously.

“Never mind.  Just look it up.” Duke replied curtly.

As they watched, a cartoon paw came into view and waved not a cigar, but a fat brown roll labeled ‘Bitcoin’.

“Can’t happen.” Adele said. “Bitcoins don’t physically exist.”

Below the Cat was the command: ‘Enter your name but only if you are the beamish boy.’

Duke typed ‘Duke LeJeune’.

Excellent. Hello Copper. First riddle.  Fill in the blanks with the same letters in the same order.   The _____ Red Queen said to Alice, “I’m _____ to have you to tea.  I’ve _____.”

Duke stared at the monitor for a moment, then entered: The notable Red Queen said to Alice, “I’m not able to have you to tea. I’ve no table.”

The Cat’s grin widened and showed some pointy teeth. ‘So, at least you’re a literate Copper. Are you also a betting man? Suppose you play this simple card game.  Every time you draw you bet $11 in the hope of winning $10 when you draw red.  If you draw black you lose the $11. At the end of 42 cards, you’re even. How many reds did you draw?”

Duke wrote 10 and 11 on a page in his notepad then glanced out the window at the city fifteen stories below. He wished he was back at his desk, working on the murder case.  He doodled for a moment then typed ‘22’.

The Cat’s eyebrows rose and the wide grin became more sinister. ‘Tsk-tsk! So very familiar with sports gambling? Copper, do you have a secret vice?  No matter.  Last round.  You return from a car chase, and check your vehicles.  70% have lost the left front wheel, 75% have lost the right front wheel, 80% have lost the left back wheel and 85% have lost the right back wheel. What is the smallest percentage of cars that have no wheels, and the maximum percentage.”

Duke turned to Adele. “Please confirm my addition that 70+75+80+85 equals 310.”

When Adele nodded Duke smiled and entered, ‘10% and 70%

The Cat’s eyebrows bounced up and down while the Cat’s face expanded to fill most of the monitor. “So, you know your Lewis Carroll. Then the Cheshire Cat slowly faded away. The black mustache and the toothy smile were the last to disappear.

A message flashed, ‘You have done much too well, beamish Copper.  Next time the Bandersnatch.”  Then the screen went black.  The CTO’s assistant rushed in and shouted that all systems were unlocked and behaving normally.

Duke looked at Adele.  “Sorry Duke, they’re using TOR.”

The CEO wheezed, “Next time?   Bandersnatch?”



Lt. Mick the Moose catches a thief; Lt. Mick the Moose goes snowshoeing

Lieutenant Mick the Moose of the MacDonald Farm’s Police Force, is hot to finally collar a notorious gang of thieves, including Patrick “The Crack” Parrot, Martin “The Brains” Magpie, and Carl “The Singer” Catbird. They even have a special jail prepared to prevent escape:  three stories high, all caged in, called the Wren Pen, built on an island surrounded by wetlands.  He and his partner rush to an alleged break-in at 20 Old Barn Lane, reported by Lil Red the Hen.  They arrive to find that Lil Red and her husband Nick have cornered a thief outside in the alley behind their house.  Mick enters the alley and shines his flashlight on a yellow-beaked green bird with angry black eyes.  Mick says, “Caught you at last, Patty. I guess your buddies scrammed.”  But Patty shouts, “You ain’t got nothin’ on me, Moose.  And I ain’t squawking about my pals.”  Then Mick spots a small bag lying behind a discarded hay bale.  He grabs it, looks in and says, “It’s a pick pack, Pat the Crack, that’s life in the bog’s no fly zone.”

Lieutenant Mick the Moose and his step-dad, Morris DeWaque, decide to go snowshoeing to take advantage of a glorious late winter day.  But as the sun climbs higher and higher in the clear blue sky the temperature warms above freezing.  They decide to stop for lunch, after which Morris wants to cross over a frozen stream and climb to the top of a rocky pinnacle. From the pinnacle, they can see rolling hills stretching to the horizon.  Last summer, they just crossed over on fallen trees, and the trees are still in place, covered by ice.  But Mick takes one step on the ice, and they hear a sharp snapping, so Mick steps back.  He stares down at the frozen stream.  “That’s a crick crack, Pa DeWaque, let’s leave the log alone.”

Plucky DeQuack and his Dad

Dilly DeQuack, a fine figure of a duck, is sitting in her bedroom when she hears a giggle coming from the bathroom then water splashing.  She rushes down the hall and arrives just as her son, Plucky, finishes flushing a small stuffed rabbit down the toilet.  Naturally the toilet becomes blocked, and even vigorous use of the plunger does not unblock it.   She heads to the kitchen to call the friendly local plumber.  Soon Nick from Rooster Plumbing is on the way.   As she sits, waiting, sipping her morning green tea, she hears the flap-flaps of her husband’s feet in the hall.  She rushes back to see him entering the bathroom with his tool box open, pipe-wrench in hand.  Now Dilly loves her husband, whom she affectionately calls “Pa”, but a handy duck he is not.  All his previous attempts at fixing plumbing problems have ended in disaster.  “Don’t touch!” she shouts. “You don’t have Nick’s knack, Pa DeQuack, leave that clog alone.”

Ogden the Owl is sitting on his front porch enjoying his morning coffee, when the son of his neighbor, young Plucky of the DeQuack family, comes tearing down the street on his bike.  As Plucky rides, his bike’s gears make various squeals and jangles.   After a few minutes, Ogden can stand the noise no longer and takes charge of the bike and young Plucky and marches over to his neighbor’s house.  He rings the bell and Plucky’s father steps out.   Ogden fumes, ‘You need to do something.” Ogden pushes a pedal, producing a series of sharp clanging sounds.  “Hear the click-clack, Pa DeQuack?  Give the cog a hone.”

Annual MacDonald Farm Tug-of-War Rained Out and Mick the Moose Goes for a Drink

The day of MacDonald Farm’s Annual Picnic starts out sunny and bright, but now the rain is pouring down in soaking torrents.  Still, farm spirit shines, so even though the football field is flooding, the two Tug-of-War teams assemble at the appointed time at the goal line, in front of Paddington Theodore Wack, the newly elected mayor.  One side’s captain is Mick the Moose and the other side’s captain is Bill the Bull.  Paddington tweets on his shiny silver whistle and the teams start trying to grip the plastic yellow rope as they slip and slide in the thickening muck.  After about five minutes of struggle and failure, both captains approach the referee.  Mick says, ‘Rope’s just slick slack, Paddy Wack, let’s blow this boggy zone.”

The MacDonald Farm’s Annual Tug-of-War is cancelled due to rain but not before team captain Mick the Moose is drenched, so he heads to his favorite pub to dry off.  He takes his usual seat at the bar and orders his usual drink from the bartender: rum with water and lime juice.   The bartender, Darlington Franklin Wack is a very good listener so his patrons call him The Padre.  After about five minutes Mick gets a call on his cell and moves to a corner so he won’t disturb other patrons.  The door opens and a stranger, also soaking wet, comes over and sits at the bar on the stool next to where Mick has been sitting.  The bartender sees the stranger furtively eyeing Mick’s drink and walks over.  “Belongs to Mick, mac,” says Padre Wack. “Leave the grog alone.”

Carpenter the Crow’s New Movie

Carpenter the Crow is hired as the director for the remake of a famous horror movie.  In the movie, a small coastal town is enveloped in glowing mist that brings in the wrathful wraiths of dead deckhands.  Carpenter decides to change the color of the mist and to add a lot of special effects that he hopes will thrill this generation’s audiences. He shows the first cut to several movie reviewers.  They like it, except for one, Brad Hebert, who complains that the mist is too thick and should be less green. ‘ Pa’ DeWack, the young special effects lead, is very disheartened.  Carpenter just shakes his head dismissively and says, “It just flick flak, Pa DeWack, leave the fog alone.”

Daniel the Spaniel in the Coffee Shop

Daniel the Spaniel is window-shopping when the aromas from the coffee shop are too much to resist. (Dogs have an ultra-sensitive sense of smell!).  Daniel trots to the counter and points his nose at the display of pastries.  The barista named Patty Wack pulls out a cookie, but Daniel shakes his head.  Then she pulls out an oatmeal bar and Daniel shakes his head.  She tries again and pulls out a cheese Danish.  Daniel shakes his head.  Patty calls over to her manager Pete and asks “Can you help? I can’t figure out what this customer craves.”  Pete replied, “Just a thick snack, Patty Wack, give the dog a scone.

Lil Red the Hen and Dilly Duck and Frilly Frog

Lil Red the Hen lives on Old MacDonald’s Farm.  She has become known as something of a celebrity for her weather predictions, so the senior editor of the Barnyard Digital Gazette has asked her to write a weekly column.  Nervously she presents her first essay to the junior editor, a Mr. Patrick DeRack.  The junior editor marks it up then gives it to the senior editor.  After a few minutes, the senior editor frowns and scolds, “Red’s no hick hack, Pat DeRack, leave the blog alone.”

Meanwhile, Lil Red’s friends, Dilly Duck and Frilly Frog go the electronics store.  They walk around looking at all kinds of communications devices from tablets to pagers.  Then they stop, confused.  A novice sales associate named Patricia Rack strolls over and says to Frilly Frog, “You want to be able to talk to Dilly, don’t you?”  Frilly nods. The sales associate has been trained to steer customers to the most expensive items so she leads them over to the tablets and starts extolling the advantages from word processing to instant access to email to live video conferences.  The associate’s manager, Billy Bear has been observing and walks over.  “She wants a quick quack, Patti Rack, give the frog a phone.”

Duke Unlocks Carrollians Ransomware and the Cheshire Cat is Gone

Lt. Duke LeJeune, a homicide detective, drummed his fingers impatiently on the desk.  He was staring at a digital image of a Cheshire cat sitting beside a digital golden key.  He and his colleague, Adele Palmer, a cybercrime specialist, were in the luxurious conference room of Gilgamesh Software, a global company whose applications were used by over a hundred big banks.  Duke and Adele were investigating a new type of ransomware, from a new anonymous group that called itself Friends of Lewis Carroll and referred to themselves as Carrollians.  The group had hacked into the Gilgamesh AI and other systems and had easily bypassed all the protections the IT team had put in place.  Now the system was frozen by the software program they had left behind.

Duke caught murderers so he had tried to beg off, but the Chief had insisted that completely locking down all the firm’s computers and holding encrypted files hostage was effectively a plot to murder the company.  Duke’s job was to try and find a way, if he could, to unfreeze the firm’s computer assets.

The Carrollians didn’t want money from Gilgamesh.  Instead, they intended to use the company’s apps to extract money from the company’s clients, which the CEO knew they could.  Like all software, Gilgamesh code had flaws.  But the Carrollians also had a peculiar sense of fair play.  They offered to free Gilgamesh from the digital shackles if its champion could solve three riddles.  The CEO, no prize in either the logic or the humor department, had immediately called the SFPD and the SFPD had immediately sent Duke and Adele.

To start the riddles, the user had  to press the letter Q, so Duke pressed Q.

The Carrollians’ ransomware program unlocked the monitor and the keyboard, then displayed the first riddle.  This riddle was easy because it was famous and from Alice in Wonderland.

“Why is a raven like a writing desk?” 

Adele, hailing from Virginia, whispered, “Because Poe wrote on them both.”

When Duke typed that response in, the Cheshire cat’s grin grew a little wider and the golden key became less lustrous.

The next riddle was, in Duke’s view, just goofy and made him wonder if they somehow knew that a policeman and not the CEO was answering the questions.

“There are two bodies on the floor surrounded by water and broken glass.  How did they die?”

Duke typed, “The fishbowl got knocked over. They’re gold fish.”

After a few seconds, the Cheshire cat’s grin grew even wider but showed some sharp teeth.

The third riddle was a digital image of the Queen of Hearts with a cartoon balloon over her head which said:

“If you tell a lie, we will steal all your software.  If you tell the truth we will erase all your files.”

The CEO put his head into his hands and groaned, “We’re done for.”

Duke thought for a moment and typed, “You will steal all the software.”

The Cheshire Cat disappeared and the display said, “You have done well, beamish boy. But beware the Bandersnatch.”  Then the head of IT came running in and said all systems had been released and the AI was behaving normally.

Duke looked at Adele.  “No luck Duke, we still don’t know how they came or went or if they’ve left a software bomb for another day.”