Chapter 1. Twicky Down in the Dumps, Cheryl Cheesed off
The rain pattered softly against the shingled roof. Freezing droplets ran down the windows, forming silvery trails that intermingled with each other. Above the sky had shifted into a wintry gray; the rain dampened everything including Twicky’s spirits. From her seat at her drawing desk, Twicky stared out over the rain soaked garden and the crumbling garden wall. The wall was a lifeless gray, the same color as the sky. Vines and creepers draped half of it in a curtain of constricting green.
This was typical Torian County weather, the sort of weather one usually expected while living along the coast in a northerly climate. It did not bring out the best in people; it made them feel either depressed or very sneezy and watery-eyed.
Glumly, the Klantahern looked down at the pile of art history books in front of her. She began wondering, what the heck should I do today? What Twicky was searching for was some inspiration for a masterpiece. Yet after much mulling and pacing back and forth, she still couldn’t come up with a good idea.
In despair, she turned to the last book, but it too offered no solution. Instead of being about art, it was an A to Z on animals of Relmar. Under each of the twenty-six pictures, there were carefully written notes on habits and whereabouts.
Twicky sighed disappointingly and shut the book with a whump. Wretched weather, she thought, putting away the books. Makes you just want to sit around and do nothing. You can’t even get a decent sketch drawn.
After tending to her pets, she decided to take a short refreshing nap on the living room couch. Perhaps she would think of a much-needed idea there.
Cheryl was drying the dishes when she suddenly dropped a plate.
“Cats!” she exclaimed, glaring down at the broken china.
“Gee,” said Gregory, who was washing the last of the dishes. “I hope that wasn’t an heirloom.”
“It wasn’t,” replied Cheryl gloomily. “It’s bad enough I have to endure long periods of writer’s block and the mental agony of trying to write smooth and proper verse rather than clanky, cruddy doggerel—but to be kept awake by Pierard’s raucous party. It’s no wonder I’m so groggy this morning!”
In celebration of finding the treasure left by his old cooking partner, Saucy Soup Sam, Pierard decided to throw a huge holiday party. With characteristic enthusiasm, he mailed out invitations to his numerous friends and acquaintances, asking them to come over and stay for the weekend. The fact that this occasion might not sit well with his fellow roommates apparently hadn’t occurred to him.
Gregory heaved a deep sigh.
“You think you had a rough night?” he said plaintively. “Well, one of the guests created the illusion that there were giant eels in my bed—a rather low-down, dirty trick if you ask me. I think it was that pain in the neck of a sorcerer, Zeph Nesbit—he’s into playing the most annoying of practical jokes.”
"That explains why the punch bowl suddenly filled up with monsters,” muttered Cheryl, sweeping up the shattered plate and tossing it into the wastebasket. “I wonder if he’s also responsible for that shower of walnuts and the fake eyeballs floating in the cups of cider?”
“Sounds like something Tris might do,” answered Gregory. “She was hanging around with that group of Frizzle Fracks about that time.”
“Frizzle Fracks!” said Cheryl scornfully. “Why did Pierard have to invite that bunch over? Of all the obnoxious guests we are cluttered with, they are definitely the worst. That Pierard’s the most annoying of people. He could have given us advance warning of this invasion, but noooooo! He had to wait until they’re nearly here, and then tells us!”
“Well, you know Pierard,” said Gregory resignedly, “he’s used to getting his own way.”
“You know what he said to me when I told him it was ludicrous to invite all those people?” said Cheryl furiously. “He said that there’s nothing unreasonable about inviting a few friends and that we shouldn’t be sitting around stagnating like a bunch of hermits. Well, I think our house is quite lively enough without additional bodies trampling to and fro…”
“I quite agree,” interrupted Gregory, unhappily, “but what are you going to do? His parents own this house, and as long as he lives here, there’s never going to be enough peace and quiet.”
Cheryl whipped off her apron and hung it on its peg.
“Then I’m just going to have to go out and find some,” she said stiffly.
“Oh,” said Gregory with interest. “What are you going to do? Move out and live out in the woods?”
“I might just do that,” grumbled Cheryl. “Give up everything except my simplest possessions and live out a life of peaceful solitude. Nobody around to scatter my thoughts and make me feel ridiculous.”
“So have you decided on an exact spot yet?” asked Gregory.
“No,” said Cheryl, “not yet. Becoming a hermit philosopher/poet takes time and careful planning. It would be senseless for me to leave without first looking over my choices of most remote places. Also, I need to make up my mind of what to take with me and what to give to charity.”
She abruptly turned and walked out of the kitchen.
“Good luck,” said Gregory, knowing full well that he would be seeing Cheryl again. Although she dreamed vaguely of a life close to Nature, she was too much of a town mouse to give up things like hot cocoa with marshmallows and eiderdown comforters.
Chapter 2. Pascal Attempts to become a Plumber
Meanwhile, Pascal, unbeknownst to the rest of the household, was planning to fix the drip in the bathroom sink. He had discovered it that morning when he went to polish his beak. Whirlblees, unlike mammals, had no facial hairs, so instead of shaving their faces they polished their beaks instead.
He had just banged the heavy toolbox onto the bathroom floor when an indescribably hollow voice inquired over his shoulder. “What are you doing?” Pascal spun around, and then reeled back so suddenly that he tripped over the toolbox.
Staring at him was a tall, menacing man with leathery skin, an enormous eagle nose, and a bristly moustache. He was dressed in a dark blue uniform with brass buttons that was characteristic of those worn by riverboat captains around the turn of the last century.
Pascal was no a ghost expert, but he knew a lot about the grim specter standing before him, and that made him very nervous. Most of the ghosts in the town of Dolbeer were nice, and easy to get along with. Captain Yar, however, was quite a different cheese altogether.
Oh, why couldn’t you just go away like the more-mannered guests? thought Pascal. I warned Pierard not to invite the most ferocious spirit in the whole neighborhood.
“Must you sneak up behind people like that?” he screeched at the ghost.
“Sorry,” replied Captain Yar. “What are you doing?”
“Well, for your information,” said Pascal stiffly as he picked himself up, “I have just discovered a drip in this faucet, so I’ve decided to repair it.”
“You’re going to repair it?” said Captain Yar, looking speculatively at the heavy monkey wrench Pascal now hefted.
“Yes,” said Pascal, “that’s what I said. I’m going to repair it, so do be a good ghost and try keeping your doomsday comments to yourself.”
“What did I say?” muttered Captain Yar, perplexed.
Twicky was dreaming. In it, she found herself clutching a butterfly net while climbing an immense willow tree. Looking up through the long, trailing foliage, she could see a night sky full of shooting stars. To Twicky, these brilliant streaks were new ideas, and she was attempting to catch one with her net. Now, if only they’ll fall a little closer, she thought.
Eventually she did managed to net one, but as she inspected her shimmering prize, she felt a tickle on her beak. An obnoxious little fly, no doubt. Twicky felt herself tensing up. The tickling then shifted to her left nostril. This proved to be too much for Twicky. She swatted, but missed the pest completely.
Growling, Twicky closed her eyes tighter and tried to concentrate, but the tickling sensation came back, this time in her left ear. Her hand shot out with lightening quickness. Opening her eyes, Twicky found clenched in her fist the tip of a peacock’s tail. Looking up, she found the owner sitting on a branch above her. She rubbed the grit from her eyes and the branch turned into the top of the sofa, the peacock into a large green parrot.
“About time you woke up,” said Pierard, whipping his tail feathers from her grasp.
Twicky glared at him. “I was meditating!” she growled. “Look, why don’t you pester someone else for a change?”
“My!” exclaimed Pierard. “Aren’t we crabby today!”
Naturally,” she replied, “not only did you have to invite your friends over despite our strong objections, you also had to encroach on an exquisite dream. I just had this great idea for a painting, and then you come barging in without knocking and make me lose it all! You better have a good explanation for this psychic invasion or I’ll…” She tried to think of a good threat “…I’ll tell your parents about last night’s get-together!”
Pierard winced. His parents were very strict and strongly disapproved of his partying and clowning around.
“Oh no!” he cried dramatically. “Not that! If they ever found out about this party, I’m ground toast!”
“Just keep this up, Pierard,” said Twicky ominously, “and you’re going to be wishing you’d stayed in bed with the blankets pulled over your head.”
“Alright, alright, I’ll tell you!” He fidgeted a little before getting started. “Twicky, do you know that paperweight…?”
“What paperweight?” said Twicky sharply. The feathers on her head rose straight up like porcupine quills. “Pierard, you didn’t happen to break one of those paperweights on the dining room mantelpiece, did you?”
Pierard nodded meekly.
“It somehow slipped out of my grip when I was setting it back on the mantelpiece,” he replied.
Twicky sat up with a sigh.
“Alright,” she said with a jarred tone. “Which one was it? Was it the one with the greenery picture of the familiar Torian countryside?”
“No,” replied Pierard.
“Was it the one with the fish and kelp forest?”
“You have lots of paperweights with that subject,” replied Pierard, “but I assure you none of those are broken.”
“Well, they better not be,” said Twicky, bristling with annoyance. “Cause if any of them are, I’ll have a wizard come and seal you up in that globe with the fake snow!”
“That’s the paperweight I dropped,” said Pierard.
“Oh,” said Twicky indifferently. “Well, you can just toss the pieces out then. It wasn’t important. The blasted thing wasn’t as eye-catching as the others. Didn’t have any of that fancy glasswork inside.”
“It looked new,” said Pierard curiously. “I don’t recall having seen it before.”
“I got it at a holiday raffle last year,” she replied casually. “Ended up keeping it. Sorta felt sorry for the thing.”
“Well, I’m sorry I broke it,” Pierard muttered.
Twicky shrugged. “That’s okay,” she said. “I’m sorry I threatened to have you imprisoned in a paperweight.”
Suddenly there came a horrible sound. It could easily be described as a steady grinding, as if someone was sawing on a tree made entirely of nails. “What’s that?” inquired Pierard.
“I don’t know,” replied Twicky, sleepily, “but do wake me up when you find out.” Then she curled up amid the cushions and promptly fell asleep.
The sawing sound happened to be made by Pascal, who was busily taking apart the bathroom faucet with a hacksaw.
“Aren’t you supposed to do something else before you go hacking into the plumbing like that?” said Captain Yar, looking worrisomely over the Whirlblee’s shoulder.
“Like what?” squawked Pascal, grinding his bill in frustration.
“Well, for one thing, you could turn the water off,” suggested Captain Yar.
“That’s the problem I’m trying to solve, you bloated brain of ectoplasm!” Pascal shrilled. “To find the leak, you must first find the part that’s leaking!”
“Everything has to be just perfect with you, doesn’t it?” Captain Yar commented.
Pascal didn’t say anything; he was too busy trying to wrestle the handle off with the large pipe wrench. Suddenly he let out a triumphant squawk.
“Hey, it’s unscrewing…OH NO!…ARRRUUUUGGGGGHHHHHHH! ACCCCAAAWWWKKKK!…SPLUB!”
“Nice going, Pascal!” said Captain Yar with a slight smirk. “Now we have our very indoor fountain.”
Chapter 3. What Came Out of the Paperweight?
Twicky was as snug as a lizard in a cleft of a cliff when ear-piercing squawking mixed with bubbling noises burst upon her dreams.
“Ahh, fer cryin’ out loud!” she shouted, wide awake and irate. “Pierard, go see what that feathered fool has done! He probably blew up the entire second floor!”
There was no sign of the parrot, so he either went up to investigate or he went off to clean up the shattered remnants of the paperweight or else; he didn’t want to get involved with either task.
There was something about the paperweight that Twicky couldn’t quite define. When she held it up to the light and waited, the snow seemed to swirl together into a vaguely dragon-like form. It all happened in an instant that Twicky wasn’t sure she witnessed the phenomenon or just imagined it. Anyway, it gave her a rather unpleasant feeling; perhaps because it was supposed to have come from the house of a now deceased wizard.
Gods, what’s that goofball doing? The whole ceiling above shuddered as if under the weight of an elephant. Pascal’s ghastly yells sounded more garbled, as if he had suddenly plunged his head into a fountain or fish bowl. Twicky wondered whether he was in the fight of his life. Listening to all that hammering, sloshing, and swearing, she soon got the impression that Pascal was frantically wrestling a giant octopus and losing. The thought of Pascal in a titanic struggle with such a beast was enough to bring on an uproarious laugh. She was still laughing when Gregory came in from the kitchen with a cup of tea.
The gray mouse regarded her curiously.
“What are you snickering about?” he asked, taking a sip from his cup.
“Oh, just a funny dream,” answered Twicky, looking very embarrassed. Great, she thought, first clumsy parrots, then Pascal making a total fool of himself, and now Gregory thinks I’m going crazy. It’s a wonder I get enough peace and quiet in this house to function normally.
At that moment a drop of moisture plopped down on her head and trickled down her beak. Soon she felt another and then another, until suddenly she was being pelted by an absolute torrent. Startled, Twicky looked up towards the ceiling and saw directly above her a slight bulge in the plaster. Several steady streams were draining out of it, depositing puddles on the floor and plush couch. Suddenly she heard a groaning crack and watched, horrified, as the bulge grew even larger. With a cry of alarm, Gregory ran forward and yanked her off the couch. A second later, the bulge gave way in a thunderous roar of water. It splashed all over the couch, the floor, and all over Twicky and Gregory, who stood in stunned disbelief.
“By Kuriki’s Rattle!” Twicky yelled. “The whole bloody building’s coming apart at the seams!”
Gregory said nothing; he just gaped at the now ruined lathing underneath. Then, still clutching his teacup, he turned and hurried upstairs. Twicky, just realizing the extent of the damage, scrambled after him.
Pascal, on the other hand, was attempting the impossible by trying to put the handle back on.
“Quick, Yar!” he shrieked above the deluge. “How do you turn the water off?”
“How on earth should I know?” Captain Yar shrieked back.
“Well, you’re a ghost!” Pascal retorted. “So, go float down the drain and find where the shut-off valve is!”
“What, down there?” Captain Yar exclaimed. “I’m not going down there! It’s dark and slimy, and there might be something waiting to get me in its evil clutches!”
Pascal rolled his eyes and gave an exasperated sigh.
“I don’t believe this,” he muttered. “A big ghost like you afraid of a little plumbing? What kind of an example are you setting for young ghosts everywhere?”
“Well, you’d be scared too if you’d seen the interior of some of the pipes in town!”
“Oh, do stop complaining!” Pascal groaned. “And help me find the flaming shut-off valve!”
“I don’t know where that bloody thing is!” Captain Yar exclaimed, “but I can go get Pierard’s folks!”
“Pierard’s folks?” Pascal yelled. “Are you out of your ectoplasmic mind? They can’t find out about this! Not them, not anyone else!”
Just then, there came a sharp rapping at the bathroom door.
“Pascal!” Twicky squawked irritably. “What’s going on in there? There’s water seeping under the door!”
“It looks like someone already did,” Captain Yar said sarcastically. Then with a snide chuckle, the ghost dissolved into thin air, leaving Pascal wondering what to do next.
Pierard was nervously sweeping up the last bit of glass from around the fireplace. He watched Twicky’s other paperweights, alert for the slightest movement within. There was none. Compared to the other glassware, the newest addition or what was left of it looked rather boring. Well, it was rather boring until Pierard picked it up for a closer look. That was when the pile of snow compressed itself into a long, thin shape topped with a lizard-like head. After it was done forming, it swiveled around to look at him. It sat motionless for a minute, staring with bright, purple eyes, and then it lunged at him. Terrified, Pierard then dropped the paperweight, which shattered on the tiled hearth.
He would have told Twicky about the grisly-looking thing he saw, but she would have thought he was joking. Anyway, didn’t she say the paperweight was completely worthless? As he wondered, other puzzling questions came into mind. Why did the snow inside make such weird images? Had the previous owner gotten it at a carnival?
Most puzzling of all was the mysterious disappearance of the snow. Pierard was sure it was all there when he went to inform Twicky of her loss. A loss she hardly regretted losing.
He was dumping the mess into the wastebasket when he caught sight of something half-obscured by the ash in the fireplace. Pierard plucked it out. It was a small brass plate. He remembered seeing such a plate on one side of the paperweight. Pierard stared at it, trying to make sense of the lettering that was etched on it. Then he went off to find Tris.
In the midst of the light gray ash lay a small, spiky head. It was lying quietly, watching the parrot through tiny purple eyes. As soon as Pierard left the room, it began rebuilding its body from the ash, adding it to the material it already had. Springing to its feet, the creature scurried out of the now spotless hearth and headed in the direction of the door.
Chapter 4. Pierard to the Rescue
Meanwhile upstairs, Twicky was trying to persuade Pascal into unlocking the bathroom door. Water was still flowing from beneath the door and was now all over the hallway floor. Twicky and Gregory knew Pascal was still alive, because they could hear him stumbling and sloshing about.
“Pascal!” shouted Twicky.
“Yes,” answered Pascal from inside.
“Open this door!”
“I can’t,” came a timid reply, “that wouldn’t be wise.”
“HELLO, WHAT ARE YOU TWO UP TO?” a voice suddenly screeched from behind.
Both Twicky and Gregory jumped. They turned to see Pierard hurrying towards them.
“Oh, no,” groaned Gregory. “Just when things can’t get any worse, he shows up.”
“Don’t worry,” Twicky reassured him. “Maybe he can help us.” She nodded as the parrot drew near. “Hello, Pierard.”
“Hi,” he said cheerfully. “What’s up?”
His eyes soon alighted on the rapidly spreading puddle.
“Hey, what’s all this?” he said. “Is this water? Where’s all this water coming from?”
“It’s Pascal,” explained Twicky. “He busted the bathroom faucet, and now he’s refusing to budge.”
“What?” Pierard shouted. “Out of my way!”
Rushing forward, he pushed Twicky aside.
“Pascal!” he hollered. “What in the name of Hogarth Whuppity’s Hazelrigg hounds were you trying to do the plumbing?”
Pascal shouted back indignant. “I was attempting to fix the drip in the sink when the faucet handle suddenly blew off!”
“Faucet handles don’t blow off all by themselves!” Pierard yelled. “They are either wrenched off or broken off by incompetent people- I need not give any names at the moment!”
He was then nudged aside by Twicky who began hammering on the door again.
“Pascal!’ she said, now out of patience. “If you don’t unlock this door this very minute, I’ll have Pierard fetch my medieval battle-ax so I can chop the door down!”
“Twicky, really,” Gregory began. “Isn’t that a bit drastic? Obviously Pascal knows you don’t have…”
Twicky pressed her finger to her beak and winked three times with her left eye. Gregory was quick to understand and made a zipping gesture by drawing his forefinger across his mouth. The three of them strained their ears against the sound of rushing water, listening. A minute passed and then another minute. Just as Pierard was opening his beak to inform the others that Pascal probably drowned, there came the sharp click of a lock opening.
Twicky immediately seized the doorknob.
“Thank you, Pascal,” she said with relief.
“Before you open the door,” advised Pascal hurriedly, “I must warn you that the water still isn’t…”
But it was already too late. The moment Twicky walked in, the spray that erupted from the faucet like a miniature geyser instantly doused her. “Aaackkk! Bpbt!” Twicky squalled. “Pascal, what have you done…?”
The rush of icy water knocked her off her feet. The Klantahern floundered about, spluttering and squawking, until she realized the water was no more than ankle deep. She stood up, shaking the water off and grating her beak in fury.
“Hey Pascal!” hollered Pierard over the rushing water and loud grating noises. “Try stuffing something in that leak! I’m going to go call Mel!”
“Wait, Pierard!” shouted Pascal, frantically. “You wouldn’t happen to know where the shut-off valve is?”
“Hey, I’d just moved into this place two months ago,” Pierard replied with a shrug, “and I’m still trying to find that secret room.”
Then he scrambled down the hall, slipping and sliding on the water-soaked carpeting. “There you have it, ladies and gentlemen,” said Pierard, loud enough for Gregory to overhear. “Fresh new evidence of why you shouldn’t mix klutzes with simple plumbing repairs.”
“Secret room?” Pascal asked as he stepped out of the bathroom. “What’s that?”
“Oh, it’s nothing,” Gregory told him. “Just some silly superstition.”
“About what exactly?” Pascal prompted. “Lost pirate treasure?”
“Not that simple,” Gregory replied. “The old timers say that this house has a secret room that only appears at certain times, and those who go in never come out. They also say that’s what happened to the first family who owned this place.”
Pascal’s eyes grew very wide.
“How come I never heard this thing before?” he said, his voice trembling.
“Only the people who lived here long enough know about it,” said Gregory, trying to hide his uneasiness. “Besides, it’s just an old superstition someone started to try to explain what happened to the original people who lived here. Maybe they got frightened off by some more early and stupid superstition.”
Twicky came up behind them so quietly that they almost jumped at the sound of her grumbling.
“We don’t have time for wonder about strange supernatural incidents!” she scolded. “We got a major leak to plug.”
Upon reaching the staircase, Pierard decided to do something fun. Fluttering up onto the banister, he spread out his wings and began sliding down backwards on one leg.
“Uh-oh,” he said, glancing behind him. “Here comes the curiosity seeker!” A mob of guests from last night’s party was dashing up the stairs, eager to see Pascal’s homemade “fountain.” As a result of the miserable weather and the parrot’s generosity, they had decided to stay a while longer.
Pierard soared off the banister and over the heads of the crowd. “EXCUSE ME! EXCUSE ME!” he screeched authoritatively. “COMING THROUGH! GANG WAY! PARDON ME! CLEAR THE WAY!”
“Look out!” someone shrilled. “It’s a winged fury!”
“More like a winged cannonball!” chuckled another.
“I heard that,” growled Pierard.
Suddenly he caught sight of the couch and the large leaky hole directly above it.
“Golly!” Pierard burst out. “It’s lots worse than I thought!”
In utter panic he flew to a small table where the phone sat concealed behind several overgrown houseplants. Propping the receiver between his ear and shoulder, Pierard rifled frantically through the phone book.
“Mel Gudgeon, Mel Gudgeon?” he muttered to himself. From time to time he glanced anxiously at the hole in the ceiling. Finally, he found what he was looking for.
“Ahh, here it is!” he squawked in relief. “Mel Gudgeon!”
He peered closer. “Gadzooks!” exclaimed Pierard. “He’s the only plumber in here!”
A little flustered, Pierard dialed the number with his foot.
He could hear the phone ring at the other end of the line. It rang for a long time.
“C’mon, c’mon,” moaned Pierard. “Pick up the phone, pick up the phone…”
Finally a grumpy-sounding voice mumbled, “Hullo?”
“That you, Mel?” gasped Pierard.
“Yeah,” Mel replied gruffly. “Who’s this?”
“Pierard Conure,” Pierard cried. “You got to come quick! One of my daft roommates just wrecked the bathroom sink, and now it’s spraying like a blooming waterfall! It’s already drained through the first floor ceiling onto my sofa…”
“So your sink’s broke?” interrupted Mel.
“Hello, that’s what I said!” said Pierard testily.
“Look, you don’t have to shout,” said Mel, miffed. “I can hear you quite clearly.”
“Sorry,” said Pierard in a less severe tone. “Listen, Mel, could you come over, please? It’s a big mess, and unless you get here soon, it’s going to be an even bigger mess!”
He waited impatiently for the reply.
“Well then,” said Mel finally, “have you tried looking for the shut-off valve?”
“I looked there a while back,” said Pierard miserably, “and the only thing I could find is the faucet for the hose. Odd, isn’t it?”
“Not odd at all,” Mel replied. “In some houses, they don’t even have a shut-off valve. You have to go and shut it off in the street.”
“We don’t even have a street,” said Pierard, now losing patience, “it’s just a dirt road! If you can at least come and look at the situation; I’ll give you the address, 333 Runcipal Lane…”
“I’m sorry,” said Mel abruptly, “but I can’t come.”
“WHAT?” screeched Pierard shrilly. “WHAT DO MEAN YOU CAN”T COME?”
“I’m on vacation,” Mel replied calmly.
“VACATION!” Pierard screeched even louder. “IT’S NOT EVEN A HOLIDAY, AND IT’S RAINING!”
“Some people go fishing in the rain,” said Mel firmly.
“But you have to do something! You can’t just go off on some fishing trip!”
“Why not?” said Mel with surprise. “The fish are biting plenty. Don’t you think I should have some spare time to myself?”
“BUT YOU CAN”T JUST LEAVE!” Pierard’s screech must have been heard upstairs. “WHAT’S TO BE DONE ABOUT MY BROKEN FAUCET?”
“Well, if you want my advice,” came the reply, “go find a stopper from one of those large wine casks and shove it in the leak. Call me tomorrow, and I’ll come by and look at it. See you, I’m out of here.” Then Mel hung up.
Pierard slammed the phone down so hard that he knocked one of the plants off the table. The pot bounced along, spilling dirt all over the carpet. “Drat! Drat! And double drat!” he swore. “Now look what you made me do! Lousy, no good…!”
He was still swearing when Cheryl came into the room. She looked down at the mess on the floor. Then she shook her head and clucked disapprovingly. “Tris’s Aragunthra vine! She’s not going to like this one bit.”
“You be quiet!” Pierard snapped. “This whole thing wouldn’t have happened if the plumber hadn’t decided to take a fishing trip today.”
“Mel Gudgeon’s gone fishing?” said Cheryl, surprised. “Well then, that just leaves Stanley Rumsey—”
“Who lies in Port Bognar,” Pierard chimed in, “which is twenty-two miles away! And he’s not even in the freaking phone book. Makes you wonder if Mel’s got a monopoly on plumbing in this town.”
“Actually, it’s because Dolbeer’s a really small town,” Cheryl pointed out. “We’re lucky to have a plumber at all.”
“Oh, yeah. That’s right,” said Pierard quietly. “I’m always forgetting that this town’s so backwards.”
“Our town isn’t backwards,” Cheryl asserted indignantly. “It’s got two schools, a theatre, a library, a skating ring, a lot of neat houses and historical sites, and more ghosts than you could stuff in an old mansion.”
“In our town, nothing really exciting happens,” Pierard said definitely. “Even the ghosts go to Port Bognar to find a little action.”
“Whaddya mean nothing really exciting happens?” Cheryl said sharply. “What about our little treasure hunt last week?”
Pierard shrugged. “It was okay,” he said in a bored tone. “It would have been much better if there was a giant squid and some pirates chasing us.”
“There was that crab—” Cheryl began.
“Just an ordinary ornery crab,” Pierard interrupted in disgust. “Had it been a magic one that granted wishes, things around here would be a whole lot interesting.”
“Don’t forget dangerous,” said Cheryl cynically, “for you would be wishing for thrilling, death-defying adventures full of booby-trapped treasure caves, dastardly plots, and bloodthirsty pirates.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Pierard snorted. “Instead of wishing myself back to the Golden Age of Sea Brigands, I’ll wish for a genuine heap of pirate gold.”
“Gold!” Cheryl snorted. “That’s really boring and old! Why not wish for something practical, like several pairs of warm socks or an on the spot fix-up job for the living room ceiling?”
“As much as I like to stay and argue,” muttered Pierard, “I got a big job to do.”
Cheryl gazed at him through half-closed eyes. “Let me guess,” she said casually. “You’re going to fly twenty-two miles to Port Bognar to fetch a plumber?”
“Right,” said Pierard as he turned and headed for the door. “It’s all up to me now. I hope I make it back in time to save the hall carpeting.” He glanced back over his shoulder. “Oh… by the way, how’s the weather?”
“Well, the rain stopped…” Cheryl began.
“Good!” exclaimed Pierard, grabbing hold of the doorknob.
Cheryl started to say something else, but Pierard was already out the door. Oh well, she thought, shrugging her shoulders resignedly. Let him find out for himself.
Chapter 5. Snow Day
A sudden gust of wind whooshed through the trees, rounded the house, and rattled the windows. From one the upper windows of the second floor peered a small, spiky form. It watched as a large, green parrot suddenly flew out the front door and disappeared down the road. The rain had stopped, but there was something else coming down instead; white whirling flakes.
The creature recoiled in horror from the pane and nearly leaped off the drawing desk. Then he thought better of it and scampered into a jar of jumbled art supplies. After a few minutes, he peered out of his hiding place. Finally he rose and scuttled over to the window, nearly freezing his pointed snout as he pressed against the frigid glass.
Outside the snow was coming down like dandruff from a frost giant. The creature stared at this for a while, and then closed the curtain. After what he had been through he no longer had any interest in looking at snow. Being stuck in centuries of limbo as powdered dust in a water-filled globe wasn’t his idea of a vacation.
It was that detestable wizard’s fault. The creep had plucked him up while he was doing some innocent sunbathing, and incorporated him into a recipe. The creature didn’t have a clue of why the wizard wanted to keep the remaining fragments in a paperweight. Wizards were weird, anyway; weirder than were beasts, or even vampires.
He wasn’t sure what he was exactly. After being swirled and sloshed about for so long, the creature simply forgot who and what he was. Time had diminished his memory, but it seemed that the more he ate, the more of it he gained back. Already he remembered how he ended up in that atrocious ornament. There was nothing to worry about now; the wizard was probably long dead and the glass prison was shattered.
Now, he was in this large wonderful house with lots of warm places to hide in and small critters to eat. So happy he was that he did a short little dance on the drawing desk before scurrying away.
The creature hadn’t gone very far when he heard numerous twitters and squeaks coming from behind a curtain. Peering through it cautiously, he saw a small room crowded with cages and glass tanks. Apparently this person liked animals, because every one of these things was occupied by an assortment of fauna. He hesitated. It wasn’t polite to eat other people’s pets, but he was still very hungry. All he had for his breakfast so far had been a few dozen beetles and a small, poodle-like rodent that nearly bit his head off. He hoped he wasn’t going to have too much trouble here.
Written by Mmpratt99 deviantart