BOOM. He turned to the basement door and made his way down the stairs as fast as he could, fearing the worst as he peered into the greenish pink smoke below.

“Gladys!” he shouted into the clearing fog. Out of the dark silence leapt a ball of fur and teeth straight for Sherman’s saggy head.

“She’s alive!” cried Gladys as an enthusiastic young wombat-corgi hybrid cleaned out a laughing Sherman’s old ears.