Monday, July 16, 2007

Amy Lou and Her Kangaroo

The Second Part

For a moment, Amy Lou started laughing. Not at the glowing pond, which had also started to churn and bubble in the center, but at Bartholomew. Amy Lou’s kangaroo had started hopping around and around like a crazy pinball. He couldn’t help it; he always got the bumpy-jumpies when something scary was happening. And a bubbling, orange-glowing pond on a strange, rocky, icy island? That was scary. Amy Lou was scared, too, but she just couldn’t help but giggle every time Bartholomew got the bumpy-jumpies.

The ice around the edges of pond started to CRACK! and POP! and Amy Lou stopped giggling. What in the name of Magilla Gorilla was happening? Maybe I rubbed the duck the wrong way, thought Amy Lou. Maybe I shouldn’t have rubbed it at all!

Bartholomew kept bouncing and the water kept bubbling. The higher the bubbles, the higher the bounding. As the glow became brighter, Amy Lou’s eyes became wider. And then something began to rise from amid the glowing and bubbling and roiling. Something very big.

From the center of the boiling pond rose the strangest creature that Amy Lou had ever seen. And through her many adventures she had seen some plenty weird characters. She’d seen trolls in Timbuktu, and dragons in the mountains of Tibet. In Albuquerque she’d seen rabbits that talked and read Shakespeare, and in Africa, a banana-nosed prickly lemur. With Bartholomew she’d fought off dragonflies of airplane-proportions along the crocodile coasts of the Amazon River. In Siberia they’d found and tickled to tears a really smelly Yeti, but compared to this, they all were just babies in a petting zoo.

It was really big. This creature rising out of the bubbling pond must have been as big as four elephants stacked on top of one another, which Amy Lou actually saw at a circus in India last summer. This gigantic bugaboo had an enormous head shaped like an eagle’s, with long, slithering tentacles like an octopus. And it was bright pink, which Amy Lou thought was an awfully pretty color, even for such a frightful creature. She knew that if it was such a pretty color, it couldn’t be all bad.

Then a thunderous voice filled the air like the roar of a cyclone. “Who dares awaken the powerful Octyboid!?!” Its eyes glowed a fierce hot pink.

Bartholomew had stopped hopping and bouncing, which meant he was no longer scared. He thought the name “Octyboid” was pretty silly and decided he was too brave to let himself be afraid of a creature with such a name, and a pink one at that. It was awfully big, though, so he did find himself bouncing a little bit on the inside.
“I’m Amy Lou, and this is my kangaroo, Bartholomew,” spoke Amy Lou bravely. "We have traveled all over the world to find the great mystical treasure of Penguinua. We didn’t mean to wake you up, though, and we’re awfully sorry about that. Actually, we didn’t even know you would be here!”

The gigantic Octyboid stared silently at Amy Lou and Bartholomew. It still looked angry, but now looked a little confused as well. “There is no treasure here, Amy Lou and Bartholomew,” it growled. “Look around you! There is nothing here but stones and ice! I have been slumbering her for thousands of years, waiting for the Great Warming, and you have awakened me before that has occurred! Now I’ll never get back to sleep!” it moaned.

“We’re terribly sorry, terribly so,” said Bartholomew. “If we had known, we’d have been more quiet. That darned old troll said nothing about it!”

The Octyboid glared, and its eyes became green. “A troll, you say? A wart-nosed, scraggly-haired, one-toothed stinky troll? A troll named Wickerwacky J. Binglehoffer, by chance? Is that who you asked?”

“Gosh, that’s the one,” replied Amy Lou.

“But how could you know?” asked Bartholomew.

The great pink tentacled Octyboid splashed and howled in the middle of Mickenmack Pond. “That no-good scavenger, he once stole my Prize! When I find him again, I’ll knock him down to size!”

And with that declared, the huge birdish octopus swirled round and about back into the pond. The water became calm and became blue again. Just like that it was gone, like it never had been.

“Well, so much for the treasure,” said Bartholomew. “But I have to confess, and don’t think me a coward, but I’m really quite glad that the Birdypus thingy has gone back to sleep!”

“Me, too, Bartholomew,” replied Amy Lou, “and I know you’re not a coward. You’re the bravest companion a person could have, and I would never have gotten this far without you! I am kinda glad, but I’m also kinda sad, that we traveled all this way and there’s nothing left to see.”

The air was silent for what seemed a long time. Then noises began coming from over the ridge, and Amy Lou knew that the penguins were back, relaxing and playing on the seashore below. The river began running and the wind started blowing. Everything was back to normal, as if nothing had happened.

“Maybe there is something in the scroll that we missed,” Bartholomew said as he pulled out the ancient roll of paper. He was wearing a parka, a big fluffy coat, and it kept him quite warm.

“Maybe you’re right,” said Amy Lou. “But we read every line, so what more could there be? We don’t even know what the treasure is supposed to be.”

And then a bright object floating through the air caught their eye. They looked up and followed the path of a large pink feather as it settled upon the ground in front of them.

“That must be a feather,” guessed Amy Lou, “of the Octyboid.”

She reached down and carefully picked up the feather. “It’s beautiful,” she said, and beautiful it was. It sparkled like dew in the morning sun, and its silky strands were as soft as a warm wind. The feather even seemed to make Amy Lou’s fingers tingle as she held it, as if there were power that was stored deep within it.

And then a thought occurred to Amy Lou. “Bartholomew, do you suppose,” she began, “that this is a magic feather I’m holding in my hand?”

Bartholomew’s eyes lit up and he thought, Why she might have a point. She might just be right. I’ve heard of a feather with power and might! This just might be it, by golly, it might!

But he didn’t say it out loud, for he did not want to get Amy Lou’s hopes up. Instead, Bartholomew said, “It’s an awfully pretty feather, to be sure, Amy Lou. But we’d have to be sure to know if it’s special or magical or anything like that! Let’s read through the scroll once again and we’ll see if it mentions a thing or two that we didn’t see.”

So they unrolled the scroll together and held it out arms-length, peering at the strange and fanciful lettering. And then a giant pink tentacle burst through the icy water of Mickenmack Pond! It scooped up the scroll in the blink of an eye, and disappeared just as quickly from where it came. The scroll was gone!

A Short Little Break

A long, long time ago, ten whole years to be exact, a little girl was born in the Tomb of Tikki-tutti in the Lost City of the Aztecs. (This is somewhere in Mexico, but I’m not sure exactly where.) Her parents were the famous archaeologists Garner and Mava Picaboo, and they had been excavating the site of this exciting new discovery. As you may know, archaeologists study very old stuff, like Egyptian mummies and dinosaur bones and that green stuff in the back of your refrigerator.

Mrs. Picaboo knew that her baby was due any day now. And in the middle of the day, in the middle of the tomb, which was in the middle of the Kizme-wonz-kizme-twyz Pyramid, little Amy Lou was born. Mr. and Mrs. Picaboo could not have been more proud or more happy. They both agreed that this little baby was the best thing they had ever found inside an ancient tomb, the most valuable treasure ever.

Amy Lou grew up and up, traveling around and around the world with her parents, the famous archaeologists Garner and Mava Picaboo. Amy Lou was there when her parents discovered the hidden diamond mines of Hieho Mountain. She helped them hunt down the lost City of Angles (not to be confused with the City of Angels), where the emerald-paved streets were all built at twenty-nine degree angles. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Mr. and Mrs. and Amy Lou Picaboo helped dig up a foot from a mastodon’s skeleton. By the time Amy Lou had had her eighth birthday, she knew just about everything one could know about something.

And then while in Cypress things took quite a turn. In a long-hidden cave the three Picaboos found something they’d never, ever expected to find. A lost tribe of faeries, driven away by the loud, crowded, polluted cities, had made the cave their home, which was quite a pity, for faeries love flowers and trees and tall grass and clear creeks. But Amy Lou befriended the Queen of the Faeries, and found them a new home on a knoll in Killarney. She made all the people who lived in Killarney -- yes, even the mean ones and the mayor and the dogs -- she made them all promise to leave them alone; to give them the land on the knoll, with no tax, and leave them alone and let them live all in peace.

As you would expect, this made Amy Lou quite famous indeed, maybe more than her parents. They were as proud as two parents could be, and wherever they went, they all went as three.You must have heard tell about Amy Lou’s adventure in Coober Pedy, where just last year she met Bartholomew, so we don’t need to get into that right now. What’s important is to know that Amy Lou saved Bartholomew, and Bartholomew saved Amy Lou, and of course when that happens you become best friends for life. They have stuck close together, like burrs on a calf’s ankle. When one needs the other, the other is there. You can’t ask for much more than that in a friend, and Amy Lou and Bartholomew were the very best of friends.

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