Gold Sheep

Three pandas stood on their hind legs outside the large, ornate door. They avoided eye contact and fidgeted, scratching themselves with their big paws. Then the alarm went off and the red light above the door began flashing. The pandas waited and soon the door opened slowly, allowing a large flock of sheep to come rushing through. The pandas gently pawed the sheep as they passed, watching them closely until a gold-colored one came out and one of the pandas dove for this one, hugging it as it ran. The sheep was powerful and it dragged the panda as it ran but the two other pandas joined in and they successfully separated the gold sheep from the flock and held onto it as it bleated. “Get Marty and the truck,” one of the pandas said and one of the other pandas ran off. Soon a truck pulled up and the panda jumped out of the passenger side door. He ran around and opened the back. The other two pandas threw the gold sheep in the back of the truck and pulled the door closed, clicking the locking mechanism in place.

Then they crowded into the cab, beside the tiger who was at the wheel. The tiger turned to them. “You got the address?” he asked. “Yeah,” said one of the pandas. “2515 Carmelita Lane.”

And they were off, barreling down the road, occasionally hearing the gold sheep bump around in the back as they rounded corners. On the way they stopped at a little convenience store. The pandas got out and bought sodas and drank them while Marty the tiger waited in the truck. Then they drove on.

When they reached the monastery it was night. The armed human guards let the truck through after one of the pandas gave the secret code, banana parchment fichus.

Then they pulled up to a loading dock inside the compound and the three pandas got the sheep out of the back. They led him down a long hallway to a big empty room. After they rang the bell at a small counter to one side, a small man with a big head came out. He regarded them through thick glasses and then produced a pair of sheers from his case. While they looked on, he sheered the sheep, which bleated loudly. One of the pandas went back to the doorway and lit up a cigarette, pacing.

A girl with flowing red hair, dressed in black leather, strutted out and knelt down to feel some of the gold fleece. She smiled up at the pandas. “How much do I owe you?” she asked.

“We don’t want money,” the smoking panda said. The other two pandas stood and stared at the girl. She stared back. Then she nodded, running her fingers through the fleece again. She went out and the small man went on carefully sheering. The pandas waited.

When she returned she carried three panda cubs. She dropped them on the ground and the big pandas rushed over. Each one picked up a cub and hugged it. Meanwhile the girl and the little man piled the golden fleece into a burlap sack. The shorn sheep bleated and ran around. The pandas left down the hall and piled back into the cab of the truck, the cubs clinging to their shoulders. Marty the tiger was still at the wheel. He laughed and shook his head, then started the engine. The girl watched from an open window as the truck pulled out, leaving the monastery and driving off into the night.

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