The First Part
Amy Lou squeezed the golden duck, but nothing happened. She had finally found the Magic Pond of Penguinua, only to have the adventure come to a complete halt. Amy Lou turned to her traveling companion Bartholomew, a rare pink-spotted kangaroo with super jumping abilities. “Bartholomew,” she said, “I’m squeezing the golden duck just like the ancient scroll said to do, but nothing is happening!” She hung her head in despair. “It has all been for nothing!”
Bartholomew leaned back on his muscular polka-dotted tail and assumed a thoughtful repose. He had been traveling with ten-year-old Amy Lou for six months now, traveling all around the world in search of a rare, mystical treasure that they found out about from a wart-nosed troll in northeastern Timbuktu. All the clues in the ancient scroll led to this place where they now found themselves; Penguinua, a small, rocky island just south of the southern-most tip of South America.
Penguinua was a frigid spot, almost within eyeshot of Antarctica, the coldest continent on the planet. This was the island where the famous Tiebow Penguins resided during the coldest parts of Winter. Of course, it felt like Winter all the time in Antarctica, but in wintertime temperatures often plunged to a hundred million degrees below Zero. That was why Penguinua was a popular winter spot for these penguins. The current temperature of thirty-three degrees was downright balmy and the penguins had to fan themselves to stay cool.
Amy Lou and her kangaroo Bartholomew, though, were freezing. Even Amy Lou’s teeth were cold. All the boogers in her nose were frozen, her kneecaps felt like ice caps, and she could barely feel her fingertips as she squeezed the golden duck.
Of course, it wasn’t a real duck; that would be terribly cruel to squeeze a living, breathing, fuzzy duck. The golden duck was a statuette made of solid gold. (Well, almost solid. It also had some copper in it, because everyone knows solid gold isn’t really solid, but soft. And awfully heavy.) The ancient scroll they’d received from the troll had said, in very hard-to-read fancy letters:
Hop through the Pass
At Hollover’s Gorge,
And slide through the Bushes
Downhill on your Tushes.
At Mickenmack Pond
Twist and turn through the Berries
And there with some Luck
You shall find the Gold Duck.
Take it firmly in Hand,
Fingers touching its Wings.
Then with all of your Might
Squeeze it real Tight!
But nothing had happened.
"Perhaps, just maybe,” Bartholomew started, “you’re holding the duck the wrong way. Maybe, just perhaps, you should turn it around, and then give it a squeeze.”
“Okay, it’s worth a try,” Amy Lou said with a sigh. She carefully turned the Golden Duck around so that it was not facing her. She gave it a squeeze. A very tight squeeze. A squeeze with all the strength she had left. She squeezed it like mad!
But nothing happened.
And that was the peculiar thing. Nothing happened. Or rather, things stopped happening. Everything became silent on the Isle of Penguinua. No rustle of leaves as the wind blew through, for the wind had stopped blowing. The trickle of water flowing through the frozen Brushback River stopped trickling and gurgling. The frolicking Tiebow Penguins down below on the shore had silenced, almost as if they were no longer there. But one thing did change. One thing was happening. Mickenmack Pond was beginning to glow… an eerie orange glow from the center within!