Overnight, Montgomery and Montgomery slept in the woods behind the chocolate shop. When they woke up, they made their way groggily through the trees to start the long trek home. Montgomery the Mouse was feeling sick from all the chocolate he’d eaten the day before, but as they made their way through thickets of birch, aspen, and maple trees, with the light increasing and illuminating the rich reds, yellows, and oranges of the New England fall, even he started to recover and look forward to whatever the day was to bring.
They walked a couple of miles over the course of the early morning – mostly through forest, but passing a pond, and the occasional office building with mostly-empty parking lots.
They came out of the woods, only to find themselves by a large road.
“Hmmm,” Montgomery the Moose said. “Did we go the wrong way?”
“I don’t know, I wasn’t really paying attention. What is this?” his mouse friend asked.
“Well, it appears to be one of those race tracks for metal boxes…”
“Oh,” Montgomery the Mouse added, still not focusing on the matter at hand. “Well, why don’t we cross it?”
“Well, okay. I don’t remember coming this way, but I suppose it can’t hurt.”
Montgomery the Mouse, still feeling unwell, scampered down to his friend’s back to snuggle in for a nap.
Montgomery the Moose looked before stepping out – he didn’t want to break any metal boxes that were trying to race, after all – and he walked gently and slowly across the road. Two metal boxes heading in his direction slowed down as they approached, and eventually stopped. Montgomery turned to face them.
“Oh, I’m so sorry for getting in your way,” he said. “Do you need help?”
The metal boxes didn’t respond, and Montgomery thought they must be broken.
“Here. Let me come give you a push to get started.” He walked towards them
One of the boxes started moving backwards, and then, with a scary HOOOOONK, it weaved around Montgomery and zoomed forwards past the two friends.
“Hmm, I guess something’s really wrong with that one. Maybe it’s not feeling well,” Montgomery the Moose wondered. But he turned to the other box, and something just as strange happened. This time, the side of the box opened, and a tall man stepped out. He looked directly at Montgomery, and shook his fist while shouting and growling in a way that both friends could only interpret as angry.
Hurt by the man’s upset, Montgomery the Moose responded grumpily, “Okay, okay, I’m coming to help you.” He walked towards the man, and mumbled, “It’s not my fault the box stopped working…”
The man stopped shaking his fist as Montgomery approached, and the look on his face changed from anger to panic. Montgomery came closer, and the man looked at his car, looked at the moose, looked at his car again… and then ran to the side of the street as fast as he could, holding onto a lamppost for protection.
Montgomery watched the man, and grumbled to his sleeping mouse friend, “The least he could have done was help as well…”
He lumbered behind the metal box, with the side door still open, and bent down, putting his antlers against the rear bumper and his head on the license plate.
He pushed. And pushed. And pushed. He heard the man shouting loudly from the side of the road, and thought it was nice of the man to be encouraging, but he would have preferred some physical help.
The metal box seemed to move an inch or two, and Montgomery started to feel like he was getting somewhere, but he pulled his head back to readjust, and the box rolled back to where it was.
“Ugh,” Montgomery rolled his eyes. “I give up. I mean, it’s not like I caused this in the first place. I’m just trying to help…”
He walked away, and crossed the other side of the road, following a path into a vast parking lot. Most of the spaces were open, but Montgomery could tell this was like a field.
“Hmm,” he said to his sleeping mouse friend, “maybe this is where they grow.”
He decided it was empty enough to walk through, to go past the huge building at the other end, and into the woods again, but as he made his way through, he saw something in front of the building that got his attention.
It was a full-size statue of a moose, standing a few feet up on a pedestal.
As Montgomery walked closer to investigate, he occasionally thought he saw it move – maybe it was an actual moose after all – but when he got up close he realized his eyes had been tricking him, and it was made out of metal. The moose was slightly larger than Montgomery, and stood proud, with wide and pointy antlers.
“Huh,” Montgomery said with pleasant surprise. “I guess this place is for moose like me!”
As he stood looking at the moose, sniffing it and seeing if it would move, he heard some noise at the building’s doors, close by. A few people were there, unlocking and opening the doors. The moose store was open!
Montgomery was excited. What would this moose store be like? Would there be lots of catkins and water lilies? Chocolate would be the best, he thought, but given that Montgomery the Mouse was still not feeling great, he thought it would best if the food was something more nutritious. But this was a huge building – how come he never knew about such a store made just for moose?
He walked through the open doors. He had to duck his head down to fit. Strange, he thought, I’m not fully grown, and this place must take bigger moose than me.
As he stepped inside, Montgomery the Mouse stirred, woken by the change in environment. He scampered up to Montgomery the Moose’s head.
“Where are we?” he asked.
“Umm, I’m not sure,” Montgomery the Moose replied. He was quickly realizing this wasn’t what he had imagined. In front of them were displays of people’s clothes, and the same fabric houses he liked to find chocolate in. He hadn’t expected that, and was confused, but maybe the fabric houses were there as a game, for moose like him to find yummy treats in?
Before he could figure out what was going on, two people dressed in bright orange jackets rushed towards them, gesturing angrily and saying “you can’t be in here! Get out, moose!”
Montgomery felt confused, and ran through the store to try to figure out what was going on. He knocked over some fishing poles and sweater displays by accident, but the orange jackets were still chasing him.
They were blocked by some of the stuff he’d knocked over, though, and in front of him, Montgomery saw an incredible sight – a steep mountaintop in the middle of the store, with animals all over it: elk, deer, goats, mountain lions… even a couple of moose, along with a few animals he’d never seen. He ran around it, asking them for help, but they didn’t respond. They just stood still and stared aimlessly, as if he wasn’t there at all.
That’s when he realized it must be a game.
He climbed over the fence onto the mountaintop display, and stood in the pond at the bottom of the display with one of the other moose, who was about his size. He stayed as still as he could.
The orange jackets who were looking for him finally made it past the displays he’d knocked down, but they looked confused, unable to find him.
“How could we lose a moose?”
They spread out to try to find him, and shouted out to other orange jackets that there was a moose in the store.
“A moose on the loose?” one orange jacket asked, with a giggle.
Montgomery the Mouse was now fully awake. “What’s going on?”
“I don’t know,” his large friend whispered back, trying not to move at all. “Go see what the deal is with these other animals – why aren’t they helping?”
Montgomery the Mouse quietly clambered down, and Montgomery the Moose stayed as quiet and still as he could. At the back of the store, right in his line of vision, there was a small yellow airplane hanging from the ceiling. He saw it start to swing in wide circles as one of the ropes securing it to the wall broke, and two small creatures dropped down, swinging on the rope. He heard a few orange jackets call out and run over towards the plane. This would have been the perfect chance to run back out, but he decided he’d better stay where he was until Montgomery the Mouse came back.
A minute later, he was relieved to feel some small legs clambering up the side of his hoof. But then he felt a second set of small legs clambering up behind the first.
“So what’s going on?” Montgomery whispered, thinking his mouse friend would explain.
“Uh, we were hoping you could tell us,” a small voice replied.
“Who are you? You’re not Montgomery!” Montgomery the Moose whispered in a panic.
“No,” replied another not-Montgomery, “We’re not.”
The two small creatures climbed onto his head, and onto his nose. He could see now that they were two tiny human-like creatures.
“I’m Jerry,” said one.
“And he’s Tommy,” said the other one.