FLYING FUR is the 3rd book about Horace the driving dog and the stunt hamsters. Read the beginning here!
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FLYING FUR

by Emma Laybourn

Chapter One

Horace was a hungry hound.

In fact, he was famished. He was as ravenous as a forest fire on a windy day.

Joshua was meant to be feeding him. But Joshua was sitting at the kitchen table surrounded by hundreds of coloured pens and sheets of paper. He was busy drawing.

He'd been drawing ever since he got in from school. He'd been drawing all through Horace's tea-time.

Horace whined and put his paws up on the table.

Josh pushed them off.

"Go away, Horace," he said. "This is important."

Horace padded over to his food bowl, picked it up in his teeth and dropped it on Josh's foot. Josh kicked it away.

Horace nosed open the cupboard door and dragged out the bag of dried dog food. Pulling it over to Josh, he whimpered in his best starving puppy impression.

"Later," said Josh. And he put the bag on the table, out of Horace's reach.

"Food!" howled Horace. "Fooood!" Why couldn't Joshua understand him? He could easily understand his human owners.

He jumped up clumsily onto a chair. Josh took no notice.

So Horace bounded onto the table, his claws clacking and scratching.

"Horace! Get down. Bad dog!"

But Horace was already trampling across the pens and papers to try and reach the bag of dog food. Success!

Just as he grabbed the bag in his mouth, his feet began to slip. Sheets of paper slid beneath him. He slithered on papers and rolled on pens, teetering and wobbling as he tried desperately to regain his balance.

Now Horace was an Irish Dane; a big, leggy, heavy dog. As he lurched from side to side, the table started to rock beneath his weight.

"Stop it!" cried Josh.

But Horace couldn't stop it. The table groaned and creaked and thumped its wooden feet in protest. When one of its legs gave way, that was the last straw. The table keeled right over with a crash.

Horace slid off in an avalanche of paper. Pens rained down upon his head.

"Now look what you've done!" yelled Josh.

Horace could not move. He lay stunned and shaken on the floor.

Then, as he weakly raised his head, he saw something that stunned and shook him even more.

He was lying on a page torn from a magazine - and it showed a picture of a car.

Not just any old car. This was the most beautiful, the smoothest, the sleekest car that he had ever seen. Horace loved all cars, but this one beat the lot. It was like a gleaming golden arrowhead.

Horace's mouth fell open. Sprawling on the floor, he began to drool over the picture with his tongue hanging out. The bag of dog food fell from his jaws and spilled pellets everywhere.

"Oh my oh my oh my!" he yelped ecstatically.

"Get off my things!" wailed Josh. "You've made a terrible mess!" He tried to haul Horace away: but Horace was transfixed.

He could not drag his gaze away from that amazing golden car. He began to moan with longing. "Oooooooh..."

"Mum!" yelled Josh. "Horace is being weird!"

Mrs Hay came bustling into the kitchen. "What's that dreadful noise?"

"It's Horace. He's ruined my competition entry!"

"He's ruining my kitchen floor," scolded Mrs Hay. "What competition is that?"

"In the magazine," said Josh. "I'm trying to win a Golden Arrow car like the one in the picture. That's the first prize."

"Golden Arrow? Oh, yes! Oh, yes! I want one!" Horace whined.

"But now that stupid dog has trampled all over my entry!" cried Josh. "He's covered it in paw prints!"

"How do you enter this competition?" asked Mrs Hay.

"You have to design a car that runs on alternative energy. You can draw one, or make one. I'm trying to draw a solar-powered car, only Horace keeps getting in the way!"

Mrs Hay pushed Horace aside and scooped up all the papers from underneath him.

"Take this lot upstairs to your bedroom, Josh, where the dog can't get at them," she advised. "As for you, Horace - out you go." She grasped him by the collar.

"Arrow! Arrow!" Horace woofed, trying to seize the picture in his teeth. He couldn't bear to give it up. Josh snatched it away.

"Oh! It's so be-oootiful!" howled Horace in longing and despair.

"Scoot!" said Mrs Hay. She gave Horace a shove and he scooted out into the hall.

There he spun round three times, feeling dizzy and dazzled by the radiant vision he'd just seen.

It had to be his! He was bewitched. He couldn't live without it. How all the other dogs would gasp in admiration, as they saw him speeding along Tintern Road in that glorious gold machine...

By hook or by crook, he had to make sure that Joshua won the Golden Arrow!

Chapter Two

Rushing headlong into the living room, Horace barked frantically at the hamsters' cage. Although he couldn't see Tickety and Boo, he knew they were somewhere in there, curled up in the sawdust.

"Wake! Wake!" he barked.

A nose poked out of the sawdust nest.

"What for?" said Tickety. Her eyes were closed.

"Car! Car!" barked Horace.

Boo's nose appeared. "What sort of car?"

"A wonderful, amazing car!" cried Horace. "You've got to help me and Josh to win it in a competition."

"What's this wonderful car called?"

"The Golden Arrow!"

"Never heard of it," said Boo. He disappeared into the straw again.

"It's the most beautiful car you ever saw! It's as lean as a greyhound and as mean as a Rottweiler and as golden as a retriever," panted Horace. "And it looks as if it does about a hundred and fifty miles an hour!"

Boo's nose reappeared. So did the rest of him.

"Really? Hear that, Tickety?" He sat up and kicked the sawdust off his sleepy sister. "How do we win this Golden Arrow? Is it a prize for the smartest dog or the best stunt hamster?"

"It's a competition in Josh's magazine! We have to make a car that runs on... on... wait a minute." Horace scratched his head with his paw. "I know! Alternative energy! Whatever that means."

"That means no petrol," said Tickety with a huge yawn.

"Then it must mean diesel," said Boo.

"No, no, no!" said Tickety. "It means no petrol and no diesel either. No fossil fuel. You have to think of something else that will give the car enough energy to go."

"Josh said he was trying to draw a solar-powered car," remembered Horace.

"Exactly. That uses the sun for energy."

"Does it?" said Horace.

"I get energy from oats and carrots," said Boo. "And dried banana flakes. And raisins. Raisins are very good for stunt hamsters."

"Could you run a car on raisins?" Horace asked.

"I don't know how you'd get it to eat them," said Boo. Deftly unlatching the cage door, he scampered out onto the table. From there he took a running jump onto the sofa. He bounced high off its cushions, did a back flip and landed on the carpet with a flourish.

"Ta-da! Now, how big does this car have to be to win the competition?"

"Car size, I suppose," said Horace.

"Yes, but human car size? Dog car size? Or hamster car size?"

Horace scratched his ear while he thought about this. As the first dog in town that had learnt to drive, he prided himself on being able to handle any human vehicle.

Why, he had even driven a tractor! But he had to admit that a dog-sized car would be easier to control.

"Whatever works," he said.

"Excellent!" Scuttling over to Joshua's toybox, Boo dived into it and began to rummage. "Wheels, floor, windows," he muttered, flinging out Lego bricks in a multi-coloured plastic shower.

"We tried to make a Lego car once before," Horace reminded him. "It broke before I'd even driven it across the room."

"But that was a dog-sized car," said Boo. "It was way too big. I'm building one for hamsters. Come on, Tickety! Give us a hand!"

"I'm still asleep," she grumbled.

Boo put his paws on his hips. "Don't be such a lazy lemming. If you don't help me build a car, I won't let you have a go in my Golden Arrow when I win it!"

"What?" said Horace. "Hang on!"

Tickety sat up and glared at her brother. "Huh! If you're going to be like that, I'll just build my own car, you bossy Boo. I'll win that Golden Arrow for myself."

"Just a minute!" said Horace.

"And what's more, Boo, I won't let you drive it," she added, before she fell back on her sawdust bed.

"Well!" said Boo indignantly. "You asked for it, sister. The challenge is on!" He plunged back into the toybox with a rattle of bricks.

"Wait!" cried Horace. "I didn't tell you about the competition so that you could enter! I thought you'd want to help me win!"

"Why shouldn't we enter?" demanded Boo. "It isn't a dog-only competition, is it?"

"No - but - but - it was my idea!" stuttered Horace.

Neither hamster was listening. Boo was tunnelling in the toys and Tickety was burrowing in her bed.

Horace was horror-struck. He mustn't lose his Golden Arrow to a hamster! What could he do?

He spun round three times in panic, and then galloped out of the house.

He knew the best place to get advice. Kimi, next door! She was a clever snake: she'd tell him how to win.

So he ran round to the back of next door's house. When he jumped up at the window, he could see the black and white striped snake coiled neatly in her tank.

Horace barked through the glass.

"Help me, Kimi, help me!"

Kimi's head shot up. She fixed him with her keen yellow gaze. "What is it?"

"Trouble!" barked Horace. "Double trouble! Hamster Hassle!"

Pressing her head against the lid of her tank, Kimi prised it up and oozed out of the gap. Then she disappeared from Horace's sight until she suddenly flowed out of a broken airbrick by his feet.

"Ow!" Horace jumped back, startled. "Do your humans know you can do that?"

"Of course not," said Kimi. "They've no idea what I get up to while they're out at work." She curled herself in a neat pyramid to listen to him. "Now, what's the matter with your little furry friends?"

"I don't think they are my friends at all! They want to steal my Golden Arrow!" wailed Horace. He poured out his news about the competition.

"I need to design a winning car, but now one of those hamsters is going to beat me to it. They'll win the Golden Arrow - and I bet they'll never let me drive it!"

"Dear me," said Kimi calmly. "What a disaster."

"It is! I've got to win!"

"Then you'll just have to design an unbeatable car, won't you?"

"How?" yelped Horace. "I don't even know what alternative energy is! Apart from raisins."

"Raisins?"

"No, hang on," said Horace. "I do know! It's the sun, and dog-biscuits! But Joshua's already designing a car that gets energy from the sun."

"Don't tell me," Kimi said. "You want to make a car that runs on dog-biscuits."

"I can't think of anything else!" said Horace in despair. "Can you?"

The snake spiralled thoughtfully around a flowerpot. "I can think of many, many things. Nuclear power, for a start. Then there's geothermal energy. Water power. Windmills-"

"Stop, stop!" barked Horace frantically. "Too many ideas! I only need one. Where do I start?"

Kimi put out her forked tongue to lick delicately at a beetle. "It's your car. Your choice. But I'd say the first thing you need is a set of wheels."

"I've got wheels!" cried Horace joyfully. "I've got Joshua's old baby buggy, in the shed. Now can we build a nuclear powered car?"

"Certainly. The next thing you need is a brain. Luckily you've got mine."

"Does that mean you'll help me?"

"Well, I suppose I could - for a small fee." Kimi held herself quite still, eyeing the beetle, and then struck at it almost too fast to Horace to see. The beetle vanished.

"Oh, do help, please!" begged Horace. "What fee? I'll do anything."

Kimi spat the beetle out again with a grimace. It scuttled away into the flowerbed. "Bleah! Untasty. As you know, I really want to travel to my home in the desert: to see the lands of my youth."

"When I win the Golden Arrow, I can drive you to any desert you like!" he promised her.

"If you win, I'll hold you to that. But in the meantime, I want payment up front. I want chocolate."

"Chocolate?"

"Those chocolates you gave me last month were delicious," said Kimi dreamily. "Much nicer than beetles or dead rats. Get me some more!"

"And then will you help me design a winning car?"

"Horace," sighed the snake, "for a big enough box of chocolates, I will design you the car of your most incredible dreams."

Chapter Three

Horace had a list in his head. Kimi had told him everything he needed before they began to make his car.

"A big box of chocolates," he muttered to himself. "Tartan paint. A left handed hammer. A dozen straight hooks, and a bucket of steam."

Unfortunately he had no idea where to get any of these things, apart from the box of chocolates. So Horace decided that he had better start with that.

Last time he had needed chocolate for Kimi, he had ended up stealing it from the supermarket and being chased out. He shuddered at the memory.

"Never again!" he vowed. "I don't like being a thief. I'll get the chocolates honestly this time. Maybe I can buy a box off Jellybean at the sweet-shop."

So he trotted down the road to the shop where Jellybean lived.

Jellybean was a spaniel, but he was shaped like a giant jellybean with little fat legs. Walking made him wheeze, and he much preferred lying around.

On seeing Horace, he got slowly to his feet and waddled over the floor of the sweet-shop. "Hallo, driver-boy! What can I do for you?"

"Chocolates, please," said Horace. "Your biggest and best box. I can pay you in dog-biscuits."

"Dog-biscuits?" Jellybean wrinkled his nose critically. "I'm surrounded by sweet treats here! Toffees and lollies and sherbet surprises. What would I want with boring old dog-biscuits?"

"Well, what else can I pay you with? Please, Jellybean! I really need those chocolates!"

"Let me think." Jellybean lay down and closed his eyes. Horace thought he had gone to sleep, but after a moment he growled, "A cat."

"A what?"

"I want a cat." Jellybean looked up, his lip curling. "That big, bossy, orange cat that thinks he owns the whole street!"

"You mean Marmaduke," said Horace.

Jellybean's little eyes narrowed in hatred. "That's the one. He bit my tail last week and then made fun of me because I couldn't catch him. He called me Roly-Poly! The cheek of it!"

"How unkind," said Horace, immediately thinking that Roly-Poly was a perfect name for Jellybean. "He's never done anything like that to me."

"Well, I expect he's scared of you. You're a big, strong dog," said Jellybean. "Not like poor little delicate me. That's exactly why I want you to catch him, and then wreak terrible revenge."

"What sort of revenge?"

"Twist his tail off," snarled Jellybean.

"Ow! That would hurt!" yelped Horace.

"It's meant to hurt!" the spaniel snapped. "That's the whole idea! Tell him it's from me - and then I'll give you the biggest box of chocolates you can carry."

Horace trotted away, downcast. He was not keen on twisting Marmaduke's tail, not least because Marmaduke had very long, sharp claws.

However, he desperately needed chocolate.

So he set off to the most likely place to find an insolent ginger cat. He didn't need to think twice about that. Mordle's Modern Motors, the car showroom, was where the cats hung out.

Horace both loved and hated the showroom. Although he loathed the cats who lived there, he adored the smells of paint and petrol and car polish. And as for the cars themselves - well, they just made him dribble with desire.

His favourite was the stylish, gleaming Kazlo Burlap. There were some Siren Sprinters parked in the forecourt too - though fewer than there used to be before the cats crashed two of them on Race Night. Mr Mordle had never realised who was responsible.

Gazing at the cars, Horace sighed in longing. Then the hairs stood up on the back of his neck as he spotted the gang of cats, lounging on the wall and flicking lazy tails at each other.

There were four of them. Fang, Demon, Pibbles - and Marmaduke.

"Well, well!" said Fang the white cat, sitting up on the wall. "If it isn't Horace the Horrible Hound! Come to admire our cars, Horace? You're not getting your dirty paws on them."

"I did ninety miles an hour in the Kazlo the other night," said Pibbles, the black cat, casually examining his claws. "What will your car do, Horace?"

"About nine miles a week, I expect," sneered the tabby, Demon. "Horace drives an old tin can. He wouldn't know what to do with a real motor." She yawned widely in contempt.

"Have you seen our latest?" enquired Marmaduke. "The green car over there? Isn't it a beauty? And it's ours. You can look, but you can't touch."

"I don't care about your rotten old cars," growled Horace. The Sirens weren't a patch on the Golden Arrow. How jealous these cats would be when he won his prize!

All the same, he couldn't help swivelling his head to look for the latest car. His eyes nearly popped out as not one, but two new motors caught his startled gaze.

They were very eye-catching indeed. They were trim, elegant saloons, and very classy - apart from their colour, which was bright green. They were as green as a football field. As green as a traffic light. As green as a bean.

When Horace padded closer, drawn as inexorably as if by a giant bone, he saw that only one of the pair was a real car. The other was a cardboard cut-out, almost life size, with words written on it.

Horace had learnt to read when Josh did, by resting his head on Josh's knee and studying the words that Josh spelt out. Carefully he read this sign.

Test drive our new Green Car!

"Doesn't it come in any other colours?" he wondered aloud.

"Oh, dear me," said Marmaduke. "That Green doesn't mean green. It means Green."

"What?"

The ginger cat sniggered. "Don't you know what Green means?"

"It means not pink," said Horace.

"Green means good for the environment," put in Pibbles. "No fumes. No pollution. No petrol."

"No petrol?" yelped Horace. "Then what does it run on?"

"Electricity."

Horace stared. "An electric car! Is that alternative energy?"

"You bet," said Pibbles.

Horace's ears and tail all stood on end. What a brilliant idea! If only he could design an electric car as stunning as this one...

"Come and take a look," said Pibbles, jumping down from the wall.

"Oh, don't waste your time on that daffy dog," complained Fang; but Pibbles was already strolling over to the car to open the bonnet.

"See? There's no engine inside, just a drive motor. The batteries are at the back," the black cat explained. "It goes like stink. High torque. Want a try?"

"Don't let that mutt drive it!" screeched Demon.

"Why not?" said Pibbles. "He's not bad behind the wheel. For a dog."

But Horace shook his head reluctantly. "I'd better not," he said. "I can't risk driving a car around the town by daylight. I'll get reported to the police."

"Who cares about the police?" sneered Marmaduke. "We don't!"

"I'll drive. Just wait there while I get my disguise," said Pibbles. Dashing into the car showroom, he returned a minute later with a large yellow beanie hat and a car key.

"Mr Mordle's having his lunchtime nap," he reported. "Snoring like a chainsaw. He'll never miss us. Hop in the back, Horace." He pulled the yellow hat so far down over his head that it covered his shoulders.

"How can you see through that?" asked Horace.

"Plenty of holes," said Pibbles' voice, sounding rather woolly. "Marmaduke? Pedals!"

"Why can't you use Mr Mordle's stick to work the pedals, like you usually do?" complained Marmaduke.

"Because he's lying on it," said Pibbles.

"Well, why can't I steer?"

"Because you're rubbish at it. Move!"

Marmaduke moved. He jumped into the green car and disappeared in the footwell.

Horace squeezed himself onto the back seat. He made sure to fasten the seat belt; for he knew that Pibbles was the fastest driver of all the cats. And he expected this lean green bean of a car to spring away like a bad-tempered tiger.

"All aboard?" said Pibbles. "Let's see what this Green Machine can do!"


***

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Read the first two FREE books about Horace and his friends!

Petrol Paws

Race Night

the cover of the children's ebook Flying Fur by 
Emma Laybourn, the third book about Horace the driving dog

See the list of free books.

Copyright 2013 Emma Laybourn

Buy the ebook of FLYING FUR at:
Kobo Books
The Nook Book store
Apple iTunes
Smashwords (for all ereaders)
and the Amazon Kindle Store.

the cover of the children's ebook Flying Fur by 
Emma Laybourn, the third book in the WHEElers series about a driving dog.

Try a free book:

the logo of the WHEElers series of books by Emma Laybourn the cover of the children's ebook Petrol Paws by 
Emma Laybourn, the first free book in the WHEElers series about Horace the driving dog the cover of the children's ebook Race Night by 
Emma Laybourn, the second free book in the WHEELers series about Horace the driving dog