Chapter 4: Bruised in Brussels

CHAPTER 4:
Bruised in Brussels

Rudy arrived in Brussels with shiny hooves and a whole new injection of confidence. His campaign for the elks had stuttered, but it hadn’t failed – and this city struck him as the sort of place that would know the difference between an elk and a reindeer.

To some extent, this was true. As Rudy checked in at Hotel Amigo, a number of biologists were arriving for their annual festive party in the grand ballroom, which had been elegantly decorated for the occasion.

“Ahhhh, alces alces!” muttered one as he spotted Rudy at reception, where he stood admiring the Delvaux surrealist Christmas tree.

The elk’s heart leapt in his chest – he hadn’t heard his full Latin name in years.

“Oh yes,” replied a colleague, before disappearing into the private party. “A very fine moose indeed!”

A moose? Rudy made a note to add this to his campaign. Much as he liked his American cousins, it was time for the elks of Europe to reclaim their rightful title.

To cheer him up, the Receptionist suggested Rudy head into town to try some ice-skating at the Marché aux Poissons. With a little coaxing, he put the moose debacle behind him and took her up on the idea.

His skating, learnt on the frozen lakes of Lapland, was a thing of beauty. He moved from four hooves to one with the grace of a dancer, and before long, crowds had gathered around the rink. With smartphones in hand, they recorded his every move.

This would do it, thought Rudy, as he launched into a triple toe-loop. This would show them what an elk could do!

Of course, he forgot to account for his newly-polished hooves.

The next day, videos of Rudy’s spectacular fall were all over the internet. At Hotel Amigo, the General Manager ordered all copies of the local newspaper to be hidden, so Rudy wouldn’t have to be reminded of his embarrassment.

Of course, he’d already seen the headlines online:

RUDOLPH, THE RED-FACED REINDEER

What would it take to get an elk heard? Rudy packed his bags for the fifth time, and prepared for the next stage of his journey.