Fred the Chocolate Lab stood outside the small cave entrance, trying not to melt in the light of two suns. Of course, trying not to melt didn’t make any difference; he was melting anyway, but at least his intention was not to melt. But melting also didn’t seem to make any difference – somehow he was both melting and reforming in each moment, like a constant battle of nature.
Inside the cave, his friends were keeping the gateway between realms open. He very much wanted to go inside and see how he could help, but he was too big, and he wasn’t about to go try that shrinking water and lose his memories again. Dangerous stuff, that water, he thought to himself. He tried squeezing himself in as he melted, hoping that would somehow work, but his size and shape remained the same.
“Any sign?” came Jerry’s voice from inside the cave. Continue reading “Chapter Thirty-Four: Breakout”
Toucan came crashing to the ground at top speed, close to the giant raccoon known as Roger.
“Ow,” Toucan moaned. “That doesn’t get any easier.”
Roger didn’t seem to notice at first, but then jumped with alarm when she saw the small bird next to her, and fell backwards, shaking the ground and knocking into two palm trees.
“Quick,” Toucan began now that Roger was paying attention. “Where’s Montgomery?” Toucan had been racing through the sky at top speed for the last hour or so, scanning the ground below with intensity for the lumbering moose creature. He was nowhere to be found, though, and Toucan hoped that this other, much larger creature would know where to find him.
“Umm, who?” the raccoon asked with a shrug. Continue reading “Chapter Thirty-Three: Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls”
“A house. Cows. Sheep. Another house.”
James, a well-dressed six-year old boy sat with his parents in the third-class passenger carriage of a train. To pass the time, he named what he could see out of the window. With the train slowing as it reached the next station, his parents continued to ignore him, but he found it easier to see things in more detail. He enjoyed seeing the stone walls separating the farmers’ fields, and the thatched cottages off in the distance, barely visible over low rolling hills.
The train slowed further, and as James looked at a field just to the south, he saw something he had never seen before.
“Father?” he asked, not looking away from the window, but reaching with his left hand in the hope he could pull his father to see this also. “There’s something glowing in that field. Like a light, but many colours. That wasn’t there a moment ago.” His father shook his newspaper as a reminder to James that he was too busy to look at glowing things in fields. “Father?” James continued. “That horse in that field… that horse wasn’t there before.”
That horse took a moment to breathe. The air was calm and peaceful. He listened, and heard bird sounds he had never heard before. He looked up and saw small birds diving and swooping through the clear blue skies above. Swifts. He didn’t even know how he knew they were swifts, but he did. And he knew their full migratory patterns, how they flew from South Africa to this area in Southern England – oh yes, he was in England now – every year in late Spring, and rarely ever landed, preferring to spend all their time performing aerial tricks and eating insects in the skies.
He sniffed. From the air particles, he could tell he was in an earlier time. June 7, 1874, to be precise. That should throw the dragons off his back for a little while. Continue reading “Chapter Thirty-Two: The Origin of Unpredictable Horse, pt. III”
“We should have stuck with the dragon,” Jerry complained to his mom and to Fred, the Chocolate Lab, as the three walked along a mountain path with tall grass on either side of them.
“The Scary Stanley?” Dorothy replied. “That would have been hard to do, remember? He flew away to find the other dragons.”
“I know, but I mean, we should have waited for him. He said when magic was fixed that he could take us to Dad.”
“No need,” Fred chimed in confidently. “I know he’s this way.”
“How can you be so sure?” Jerry challenged. Dorothy, meanwhile, seemed content with trusting her old friend.
“Well…” Fred began, before pausing as if to question it himself. “Uh, instinct, I guess.”
A shadow passed quickly overhead, causing Jerry and Dorothy to tense up. Back home, this meant a bird of prey, so their instincts kicked in and they ducked under Fred’s body. Continue reading “Chapter Thirty-One: The Family”
“What does that mean?” Montgomery the Moose confronted the orange dragon in front of him. “The chocolate invasion will take over the world? What does that mean?”
“Well, okay, I was being a bit dramatic…” the dragon replied, backing down a little.
“Whew,” Montgomery the Mouse replied.
“…I just mean that everything on this planet will turn to chocolate…”
“Uh,” Montgomery the Mouse revised his judgment.
“Creatures too,” the dragon continued. He looked at the dumbstruck faces of the moose and mouse in front of him, and then turned to see Bobby and the frogs, who shared in the shock. After a pause he said, mainly to himself, “okay, maybe I wasn’t being a bit dramatic after all. I mean, that is all gonna happen.” Continue reading “Chapter Thirty: The Chocolate Invasion Starts Here”
When cats fall, they instinctively twist their bodies to land on their feet. Francesca wasn’t a cat; she was a frog. Francesca landed on the ground back-first with a thud.
Freddie followed a moment later, landing on his feet, but in a prickly bush – the kind where landing on your feet doesn’t help anything.
“Ughhh,” Francesca moaned.
“Owww!” she heard Freddie call from inside the prickly bush.
“Are you kidding me?!” she heard Roger the Raccoon say quietly from the branch of a maple tree a short distance away.
Montgomery the Moose had just attempted to follow Tommy, Jerry, and Montgomery the Mouse into a tall clump of grass by running headlong at it with his eyes closed. It was obviously ridiculous – he was a moose, after all, so Francesca was sure she would look over and see him in a heap on the ground, making his own moaning noises. But when she got up and hopped closer where she could get a better view, he was nowhere to be seen, and it was eerily quiet. Continue reading “Chapter Twenty-Nine: Whatever Happened to the Frogs?”
Montgomery the Moose looked around him. His nose had picked up a change. The beautiful fragrant smell of chocolate had disappeared. He had become so used to it being around that he’d taken it for granted, and now he missed it.
“Hey,” he asked Montgomery the Mouse, “where did Fred go?”
“Fred?” Montgomery the Mouse replied from on top of his friend’s head. He loved it up there, and used the long guard hairs as a nest, with the soft woolly undercoat as the perfect bed. But the heat in this magical land made him very sleepy, and he found it hard to keep up with everything that was going on.
“Yeah, Fred. The Chocolate Lab. He’s gone.” He looked around the hilltop they were on again. “Hm, I think Jerry and Dorothy have gone too.”
“Yep,” Roger the giant Raccoon said as she lumbered past them, grabbing some coconuts off a nearby tree with ease. “They left about an hour ago. Maybe. I don’t know. I can’t tell what’s going on here.” She closed her eyes and shook her head as if trying to shake out some hidden knowledge that would help her make sense of it all. Continue reading “Chapter Twenty-Eight: No Place Like Home”
“Wheee!” Ringo yelped with joy as the giant dragon he was on twisted and dove down towards the ocean in his latest desperate attempt to get rid of this stowaway horse.
After flips and twists, and even a crash into the water below, the horse somehow still managed to hold on. The Teleporting Trevor could not shake him off. He tried teleporting from ocean to mountaintop, from desert to tundra, and nothing seemed to faze the horse, who just seemed excited by everything he saw.
“Why won’t you let go?!”
“This is amazing!” Ringo said, oblivious to the dragon’s upset.
You might think that a horse riding on a dragon’s back might have a very hard time holding on, but for Ringo it was somehow very easy. It would have been harder, in fact, for him to let go. He didn’t know what was holding him on, but he also didn’t question it; that just was how it was.
Nothing The Teleporting Trevor did seemed to work, so after a final attempt to shake the horse over an active volcano in Vanuatu, he decided it was time to seek help. Continue reading “Chapter Twenty-Seven: The Origin of Ringo, the Unpredictable Horse, pt. II”
As the larger creatures discussed how to proceed, Jerry was distracted. He was pretty sure that whatever their friends decided, he and his mom would leave them to find his brother and his father (it seemed so strange to even think that). But he also realized he knew next to nothing about about this magical land.
“We’ve been here for ages,” he said to Dorothy eventually. “Doesn’t it ever get dark here?”
“Ha,” she replied. “You’ve noticed. Yeah, time moves differently here. That’s why you’re not tired. But the light also has to do with the two suns. It does get dark once in a while, but most of the time at least one of the suns is out.”
“That’s so weird,” Jerry replied, and then thought about it for a bit. “So wait, what’s once in a while? Like, how often does it get dark?”
“Well…” Dorothy calculated as she looked into the sky. “It’s a little difficult to compare it to time that we know, because, like, I said, time moves differently here. That’s part of the magic of this place. And I think it doesn’t always stay the same – like a leaf blowing in the wind, sometimes fast, sometimes slow. But when we were here looking for your dad, that sun” – she pointed to the smaller one – “seemed to set around every 27 hours…”
“Oh, well, that’s not much longer than a regular day,” Jerry replied.
“…but that one” – she pointed across the sky to the larger sun – “seemed to set every seventeen days.” Continue reading “Chapter Twenty-Six: Toucan”
The problem with an Unpredictable Horse was that, well, he was unpredictable. He always had been.
Of course, his name was not really Unpredictable Horse. His name was Ringo.
He grew up on a farm in Colorado in the late 1990s, along with two dozen other horses. While others would follow the humans around, and respond to calls and training, Ringo would look off into the vast skies to stare at the rock formations and mountains in the distance, and use his hooves to draw pictures of what he saw in the dirt.
When no humans were around, he would sometimes climb trees. It was hard to do at first – he was a horse after all. But even as a foal he was the most goat-like horse you could imagine, and just like a goat, he could climb. Continue reading “Prelude: The Origin of Ringo, the Unpredictable Horse, pt. I”