The Train Ride
As the group of friends made their way northward, Jerry and Tommy wondered how long it would take to travel 77 miles riding on a moose. Quicker than walking themselves, for sure, but still… 77 miles…
“So what’s the deal with this magical land?” Roger the Raccoon asked keenly. She was already excited about being in the outside world and having new friends that actually moved and talked. She couldn’t imagine anything more magical than that.
“Well, we don’t know much about it,” Jerry answered.
“All we know is that it’s close to Lake Damariscotta, through some tunnels, and it’s like a tropical island and there’s a dragon there,” Tommy added.
“A dragon?!” Roger exclaimed excitedly, before whispering to herself, “I have no idea what that is…”
They walked for hours. And more hours. And more hours. While Tommy kept looking at the map, hoping to find more clues, Jerry became impatient. The sun was going down, and Montgomery the Moose seemed to be getting tired. “How long is it going to take us to get there?”
“Well, maybe tomorrow?” Montgomery the Mouse replied – he could tell that his moose friend was waning too.
“Tomorrow?” Jerry replied. “But it seems like we’re pretty close, though, right?”
“Well, not really…” Montgomery the Mouse replied. “I think we’re still quite a ways away…”
Jerry sighed. “Can’t we get a ride again?”
Montgomery the Mouse looked confused. “You are getting a ride,” he replied.
“No, I mean from a car. Or something that goes faster than a moose.” He was also keen to ask Heysiriheygoogleineedhelp! how far they were, and get more specific directions on how to get to Lake Damariscotta.
At that moment, they all heard something loud moving through the trees to their right, slowing down to a stop about 600 feet from them.
“What is THAT?!” Roger the Racoon asked. She’d been amazed by many of the things she’d seen while outside, but this was by far the loudest and biggest.
“A train!” Jerry exclaimed. “That’s it! We can get the train!”
“Wait, I thought trains only go underground,” Tommy replied. He knew Jerry had snuck onto the train near where they lived a few times, but that train stayed in tunnels and didn’t seem to go anywhere exciting; just one underground building to another.
“No,” Jerry corrected him. “I went on one that went over a whole river once! And I saw buildings as tall as the sky!”
“Wow,” Tommy replied. He was in awe of all the things he’d missed out on for so long.
They made their way towards the train, but Montgomery the Mouse quickly realized that Montgomery the Moose wouldn’t be able to fit on the train.
“Why not?” Montgomery the Moose asked. “I know how to fit through tight spaces. Just close my eyes and-”
“No, no,” Montgomery the Mouse interrupted. “I don’t think this is an option.”
The group agreed, but Tommy asked if they could go take a look anyway, since he’d never seen a train up close. So they walked over, crossed the track behind the mammoth machine, and took a look on the other side. The train seemed to have stopped between stations – at least, they couldn’t see any buildings around, and the train’s driver had got out to investigate something around the front.
As the group got closer, Tommy was curious about how the whole thing worked. They could see people inside, and Tommy asked how they got there. Jerry explained that there were doors that open when the train is stopped.
“But the train is stopped now,” Tommy added. “So why aren’t the doors open?”
“Well, I think someone would have to pull that door handle,” Jerry pointed, a little unsure of himself, since this train was different from the ones he was used to. “But I guess this isn’t a place for people to get on and off, so…” his voice trailed away.
Roger, meanwhile, had only heard “someone would have to pull that door handle,” and she looked at her hands. Back in her life on the indoor mountain, she had often observed the hands of the people in orange jackets, and noticed that they had opposable thumbs, which let them hold on tight to things with just one hand. She wished her thumbs were opposable too, but she was still pretty sure she could pull that door handle.
As Montgomery the Moose started to move away from the train, Roger jumped towards the door, her hands outstretched. She grabbed the handle, and as her body swung against the door, the handle pulled down and the door began to open.
The noise got everyone’s attention, and Montgomery the Moose turned back. “Roger?” he asked. “Are you okay?”
“Ouch,” Roger replied. “Yeah, I’m fine.”
“Ooh, I want to go in,” Tommy exclaimed, and he climbed down Montgomery’s leg to make his way to the train.
“Wait, Tommy, don’t!” Jerry called out. “We can’t all fit.”
But Roger had lowered her tail from the doorway’s bottom step, allowing Tommy to climb up it and onto the train.
Montgomery the Moose moved to the doorway to let everyone climb back on him, but as he moved his head into the opening, he caught the aroma of his favorite food.
“Chocolate…” he said softly, his eyes glazing over. “There’s chocolate on this train…”
He tipped his head sideways to let his antlers fit through the doorway, and although it was an uncomfortable squeeze for him, he managed to get his shoulders in, and climb up into the train, which seemed to sink a little under his weight. His friends all scrambled down and shouted out various objections, but Montgomery was on the train now…
At the top of the stairs he turned to make his way into the carriage, while Roger managed to close the door she’d opened.
As Montgomery the Moose stuck his head into the carriage, the voices of about twenty people rose in panic, and there was an almost unified cry of “Moose!” The people all stood up, some of them picking up their belongings, and they clambered out of their seats to run in the opposite direction through the door into the next carriage. In less than a minute, there weren’t any people left in the carriage, and the door at the other end slammed shut.
As Montgomery made his way through the doorway and into the main part of the carriage, the train lurched a little, and gradually started rolling forward, picking up pace and getting faster and faster. Pretty soon, as Jerry looked out of the window and saw everything passing them, he beamed with pride, saying, “yeah, this is what I was thinking…”
Montgomery the Moose had to work hard to make his way through the carriage, and Montgomery the Mouse scrambled over the seats looking for the chocolate his large friend had smelled. In the end, he found three abandoned chocolate bars, and while he was still a little chocolate’d out after his visit to the candy store, his large friend had room for plenty more, so he was happy to let him eat it all.
The train continued for about half an hour, and while none of them knew exactly how far they had gone, they knew this was much further than they could have walked. Jerry found a Heysiriheygoogleineedhelp! on one of the seats, and found out they were now only 8 miles from Lake Damariscotta. Perfect! Now, they could just get off at the next stop, and it would be fine.
Montgomery the Moose looked up, his snout covered in melted chocolate and wrappers. The man who had just spoken looked up from his ticket puncher after stepping through the doorway, and quickly realized this wasn’t a usual ticket-checking situation.
“Uh, what’s going on here?” he asked no-one in particular, as he saw a moose, a mouse, and a raccoon. Jerry and Tommy, always cautious about being seen by humans, had crouched down out of sight.
The man picked up something that looked like a Heysiriheygoogleineedhelp! from his waist, and spoke into it, in quite a matter-of-fact tone. “Hey, Bob, we’ve got a moose, a mouse, and a raccoon back here, and I’m pretty sure they don’t have tickets. You’re gonna have to stop the train.”
Jerry and Tommy looked at each other. The way the man said it, it sounded like this was something he’d dealt with a few times before.
Montgomery the Moose hung his head; he didn’t like causing problems, and felt embarrassed and ashamed.
The train slowed down, and as Jerry and Tommy climbed out of the seat they were in and back onto Montgomery the Moose, Jerry saw Tommy pick up some things that looked like pieces of paper. When Roger and Montgomery the Mouse also climbed back on, Tommy handed the things to Roger, and joined Jerry in hiding under Montgomery the Moose’s thick coat of hair.
The train reached a halt. The man stepped into the stairwell at the far end of the carriage and opened the door. He stepped back up to direct the large creature off the train.
“Come on,” the man said, as if talking to a pet dog who had eaten the trash, and he waved his hands to direct Montgomery off.
As Montgomery the Moose started his walk of shame towards the man, Roger gave one of the pieces of paper to Montgomery the Mouse, and clambered onto Montgomery the Moose’s snout to rest the other one sticking out of the moose’s mouth.
As they reached the man, Roger urged Montgomery the Moose to stop. He was reluctant to do so, but did because his friend asked him to.
Roger proudly stood up on her hind legs, and showed the man what she had between her paws. She may not have opposable thumbs, but she had… a ticket.
The man couldn’t believe his eyes.
Roger nudged Montgomery the Mouse, who moved down the moose’s snout towards the man, and lifted his head up for the man to take the piece of paper sticking out of his mouth… another ticket.
And now Roger whispered to Montgomery the Moose to raise his head and give the man the piece of paper that was sticking out of his mouth… the last ticket.
The man was speechless.
Montgomery the Moose didn’t feel embarrassed or ashamed anymore. He felt proud to have such great friends.
He climbed down the staircase, tilted his head to fit his antlers out of the door, and made his way outside, with a smile.
“Ah, yes, well,” said the man from inside the train. “Thank you for coming. Please come again sometime… Enjoy your day!”
The door closed and the train started to pull away.
Montgomery, Montgomery, Roger, Jerry and Tommy, now only a few miles from Lake Damariscotta, all laughed. Today was a good day.