“No, wait, he’s Jerry…”
“And I’m Tommy.”
“No, that doesn’t make sense either. Look, one of us is Jerry, and one of us is Tommy, and you can figure out which one is which later.”
“Umm, okay,” Montgomery the Moose responded quietly, keen not to draw attention to himself. Off in the distance, the orange jackets were still running around, looking confused.
“We’re looking for help. Can you help us?” Tommy asked hopefully.
“Umm, not right now…” Montgomery was wondering how he could stop these two from making so much noise.
“Oh, well, yeah, I know you’re in a bit of a predicament right now,” Jerry added, aware that Montgomery’s focus was somewhere else.
“But maybe we can help you get out of here,” Tommy jumped in.
“And then maybe you can help us. We’re trying to get to Lake Damariscotta – there’s some sort of portal to a magical land there…” Jerry realized it sounded much different hearing it in his own voice out loud, but it was the truth after all.
The two small creatures looked into Montgomery’s eyes, each one with a smile that showed pride in their pitch, and hope that he would respond positively.
“Umm, okay,” Montgomery finally responded, and Jerry and Tommy high-fived each other with glee.
“Here’s what I think we should do,” Jerry started. “Tommy and I will run to different parts of the store, and knock some stuff off shelves. They’ll think it’s you, and come running, but then you can run out the front door.”
“Wait,” Tommy added uncertainly. “That’s your plan?”
“But what about my friend? I can’t leave Montgomery here…” Montgomery the Moose trailed off sadly.
“You don’t need to – I’m right here!” Montgomery the Mouse replied with a grin from a rocky ledge a few feet away from his Moose friend’s head.
“Montgomery! I’m so glad to see you!”
“Me too, Montgomery!” Montgomery the Mouse scrambled down to climb onto his moose friend’s head.
“Hold on,” Tommy interrupted. “You’re… both called Montgomery? Doesn’t that get confusing?”
“How could it be confusing?” another voice joined in, also from the rocky ledge. “One of them’s a moose, and one of them’s a mouse. It’d be hard to get them mixed up, don’t you think?”
“Who are you?” Montgomery the Moose, Jerry and Tommy all asked at the same time.
“I’m Roger,” the proud raccoon announced, puffing her whole body up. She was unable to hide her smile – the kind of smile a creature only gets when announcing their name publicly for the first time.
“Oh, hi, nice to meet you,” Jerry replied in a way that Roger didn’t feel really matched the excitement of the announcement. “I’m Jerry, he’s Tommy, and he’s Montgomery, but I guess you know that.”
“So listen,” Montgomery the Mouse jumped in, keen not to waste any more time. “Roger has a plan to get us out of here.” Jerry looked a little put out that Tommy and his new moose friend seemed much more interested in this news than they were in his own plan.
“Ah… well, it may not work,” Roger added cautiously, eyeing Montgomery the Moose up close for the first time.
“Really?” Montgomery the Mouse countered, “cuz it sounded like you knew exactly what we needed to do…”
“Well, yeah, but, I really don’t think it’ll work…” Roger replied, still looking at Montgomery the Moose.
“Well, just tell us anyway,” added Tommy, “and maybe we can figure it out together.” His brother looked at him grumpily.
“Well, the thing is, it involves going through a small hole, and following the water pipes out to the woodlands behind the store.” Roger hoped that this would explain the predicament, but the two Montgomerys had very different reactions, speaking over each other as they did so.
“Ah!” Montgomery the Mouse exclaimed. “I see.”
“Well that’s no problem,” Montgomery the Moose replied at the same time. “I know a good way to do that. Just close your eyes and run very -”
“No, no,” added his mouse friend politely. “I think we need a different plan. Look, why don’t we just walk out the front door?”
Roger looked at him in disbelief. “Walk out the front door? Do you know what kind of store this is?” She waved to the far side of the mountaintop.
Jerry and Tommy looked over and read a hanging sign out loud with their eyes squinted slightly, unsure if they were saying the word correctly. “Fiiishhhing…?”
“Fishing is just one part of it,” Roger continued. “Look over th-”
“Wait,” Tommy interrupted, “what is fiiishing?” already somewhat certain he knew the answer.
Roger looked somewhat annoyed, like this wasn’t really the point. “It’s what someone does to catch a fish to eat…” He really wanted to get back to the bigger problem here.
Jerry and Tommy looked at each other, somewhat impressed with this new information. “Fish…” Jerry mouthed silently to Tommy. “Fish…” Tommy mouthed back.
Roger was unfazed. “It’s more than fishing! This is a hunting shop! Don’t you see the animal traps? The guns?”
The two Montgomerys couldn’t believe their ears. What had they walked into? And then it dawned on Montgomery the Mouse. “So the animal models all around us…?”
“Yes!” Roger continued, exasperated that her friend hadn’t picked up on this already. “They were alive, but then they were hunted! Now they’re just models.”
“Eeeeek!” Montgomery the Mouse panicked, and envisioned a day when all these animals were running around the store before being captured and turned into models. His panic led his moose friend to start panicking too, and before they knew it, the orange jackets around the edges of the store were turning their heads and looking their way.
“Oh no!” Roger put her hands up to her face, not wanting to believe this was happening. She started running back up the mountaintop to climb into her hole. But Montgomery the Mouse and Jerry and Tommy followed quickly behind, looking for a place to hide and hoping Montgomery the Moose could stay still enough to throw the orange jackets off the scent.
There was a tremendous amount of noise behind them, though, and Montgomery the Mouse turned to see Montgomery the Moose also climbing up the mountaintop!
“Wait!” Montgomery the Mouse shouted, standing tall to get his moose friend’s attention. But there was too much commotion, and Montgomery the Moose lumbered past him, shaking the whole mountain as he did so.
“Quick – in here,” Roger directed Jerry and Tommy, as Montgomery the Mouse caught up.
They turned to see Montgomery the Moose closing in on them, and when he saw the small hole, he closed his eyes and with all his might, he launched himself into the air, diving head first at the opening.
Boom! went the mountaintop as the moose’s full weight came crashing down. The ground underneath Roger, Jerry, Tommy, and Montgomery the Mouse opened up, and they felt themselves tumbling down through nothingness. “Aaaaaaahhhhh…” they screamed, before – flump – landing softly on Roger’s nest below.
After a moment of peace, they looked at each other, and Mongtomery the Mouse commented, “Well, that could have been worse. I thought Mon-”
Crunch. The mountaintop above them opened up, and Montgomery the Moose came tumbling down, landing with a giant ka-boom on the other padding that Roger had all over the floor.
“Oooooowww…” Montgomery the Moose finally spoke. “Did that hurt you all as much as it hurt me?”
The smaller creatures saw shadows from above – the orange jackets were up there, scratching their heads and urgently trying to figure out what to do. “What the…?”, Jerry and Tommy heard one of them ask.
“Quick, we have to get out of here,” Roger commanded. “Follow this pipe!”
Roger, Jerry, and Tommy started to run, but Montgomery the Mouse didn’t move.
“But…” he implored. “What about Montgomery?”
The three others looked at the giant moose licking his wounds. They looked at each other, and then at Montgomery the Mouse. “You’re right,” Jerry spoke for them all. “We’re not leaving without him.”
Montgomery the Moose stood up slowly, measuring the space he had as he did so. “So, what’s the plan now?” he inquired innocently. “Down that pipe?”
Roger the Raccoon looked to Montgomery the Mouse, who was giving her a hopeful and pleading look in return.
Roger started to smile. “I think there’s a better way.”
Montgomery the Mouse smiled back.
Roger instructed the others to climb onto Montgomery the Moose’s back, and then asked Montgomery the Moose to back up as much as he could under a lower ridge of the mountaintop. It was dark in there, and it was a tight squeeze, but Montgomery the Moose could tell he had a long unobstructed path between girders in front of him.
“Okay, run,” Roger commanded.
“What?” Montgomery replied? “Run where? There’s nothing to run at.”
The others couldn’t believe this was Roger’s plan. They felt some dust and small pieces of debris falling on them, and heard shouting from above, as the orange jackets seemed to be getting more anxious.
Roger climbed down, and ran over to her nest. She rummaged through and picked out a screwdriver she had found a few months ago, and took it to the opposite end of the path Montgomery was on. She looked back at him, and then jabbed the screwdriver into the mountain as hard as she could. Once it was in, she wiggled it around, pulled it out, and then used her hands to dig further until… light!
She dropped the screwdriver, ran back to Montgomery the Moose, climbed up, and said “Better?”
“Oh yes,” Montgomery the Moose replied with a smile.
He bent his head down, staring intently at the hole. He moved, gathering speed and power like a locomotive, and as he got closer to the hole, he wasn’t the only one who closed his eyes.
Now on the outside of the mountain, Montgomery, Montgomery, Roger, Jerry and Tommy collided with a fence surrounding it, and tumbled through the men’s outerwear section, knocking racks of jackets sideways. As Montgomery the Moose kept running towards the door, the others turned to see what was behind them. The gaping hole in the side of the mountain was quite a site, and they saw the orange jackets jump off the top of the mountain just in time, before the whole mountain buckled under its own weight, with framing, girders, and model animals all forming one big pile under a cloud of dust.
Wow, Montgomery the Mouse thought to himself. Maybe we shouldn’t come back here again.
As they ran to the front doors, they were surprised to find that a few orange jackets, with their mouths agape at what they were seeing, were holding the doors open for Montgomery to walk out. He slowed down as he did so, and gave them a nod to thank them.
In the parking lot, they circled around to the back of the building and into the woods. The creatures got down from Montgomery the Moose’s back, and they all sat on the grass in a circle, talking over each other in disbelief. Dumbfounded by what had just happened, it was several minutes before they could stop themselves from recounting their favorite moments.
Then there was a peaceful silence as they all took a deep breath.
“Well,” Roger finally broke the silence, “it was nice living there, but I’m sticking with you all from now on. You’re a lot more fun.”
Jerry and Tommy looked at each other, and then at their new friends. They had to agree that this was a fun group to be with.
“So,” Montgomery the Mouse added finally. “Now what?”
They all looked at Montgomery the Moose. Montgomery the Moose looked at his two new small friends.
“Now,” he replied, “we go find that magical land.”