The Boy With Orange Hair
by Bill Bowler
Table of Contents
appear in this issue.
“The Forgotten Sea,” said Gerry the groundhog.
“Right,” said the boy. “The Forgotten Sea at the center of the Earth beneath the Bermuda Triangle.”
“Well, that’s just fine and dandy! But how do we get back to the surface?! How do we get home?!” shouted the Captain.
“We have to find the other whirlpool,” said the boy with orange hair, “the one that pulls back up to the surface. But, Captain, look over there. Do you see that?”
The Captain picked up his telescope and looked where the boy was pointing. “Hmm. There’s a kind of purplish haze. Hmm. Hold your horses! There’s an island! A purplish island with a purple sand beach! And there’s a motor boat anchored there.”
“Captain?” said the boy. “Can you set course for the island?”
The Captain swung the ocean liner around and sailed towards the island and, before long, they reached the purple shore. They weighed anchor and General Rickrack and the guys were lowered over the side in a small boat and rowed to shore.
As they stepped out of the boat onto the purple sand, they heard a teeny little sound, chucka-chucka-chucka-chucka... chucka-chucka-chucka-chucka. choooo chooo, and a little green and black locomotive, the Wabash Cannonball, came around a bend running along little tracks, in the grass near the edge of the sand.
“Look!” said General Rickrack. “A toy train!”
“That’s a real train,” said the boy with orange hair. “Now be very careful where you walk.”
“Why?” asked the General.
“So you don’t step on anyone!” said Gerry.
“Oh, come on,” said General Rickrack. “You can’t be serious.”
“Watch,” said the boy, and they all watched as the little train ran along the tracks at the edge of the sand and stopped in front of a little station. They knelt for a closer look and saw little bugs or something getting on and off the train and standing on the platform.
“Careful!” said the boy with orange hair. “Watch where you step. Those are people.”
General Rickrack strained his eyes and looked closer and closer and, sure enough, he could see now they were little passengers boarding the tiny train.
The train pulled out of the station and headed off down the tracks.
“The Land of Little,” said Gerry the groundhog.
“Let’s follow the train,” said the boy with orange hair. “Maybe it will lead us to Little Town.”
They stepped very carefully, following the train tracks and, even though they tiptoed, for the little people on the ground each step was like an earthquake, BOOM!.. BOOM!.. BOOM!.. BOOM!
The Wabash Cannonball pulled into another station further into the grass away from the edge of the purple beach, and next to that station, General Rickrack spotted Little Town Hall. Through his office window, Mayor Little saw the three giants standing outside. With Chief Little of the Little Town Police Dept. and Judge Small of Little Town Municipal Court, the Mayor came out the front door and spoke through a little bullhorn to make his voice loud enough for the giants to hear.
“Hello up there. I’m Mayor Little of Little Town,” he said through the bullhorn. “I have Chief Little and Judge Small here with me. You folks are from out of town, aren’t you?”
“Yes, we are,” said Gerry the groundhog.
“Are you planning to live here or just visiting?” asked Mayor Little.
“Just visiting,” said Gerry. “In fact, we’re looking for someone. Did you happen to see if any other giants passed through here in the last five or ten minutes?”
”No, I can’t say we did,” said Mayor Little.
“Hey!” came a tiny voice from the boy ‘s pocket. “Hey out there! Somebody let me out of here. I’m being held against my will! I have to go to the bathroom. Don’t worry. I won’t run away.”
The boy with orange hair reached into his pocket and took out the jar with one-inch Crabby Crayfish and the miniature Fokker tri-plane inside.
“Allow me to introduce,” said General Rickrack, “the notorious mischief maker, Crabby Crayfish. He’s been causing nothing but trouble for everyone up on the surface of Earth so we shrunk him to one-inch size with a purple shrinking tractor beam. Maybe if we leave him here with you, he can live in the Land of Little and won’t cause any more problems.”
“OK,” said Chief Little. “I’ve got a nice comfortable cell for him right here in Little Town jail. Let us have him.”
“Nooooo!” yelled Crabby, “Nooooo! You have no right to leave me here! This is outrageous! I demand an apology! Where’s my lawyer?! I want to go home RIGHT NOW!”
But it was too late and they didn’t pay any attention to his complaining. He had caused enough trouble. The boy with orange hair took the cap off the bottle and poured Crabby Crayfish and the tiny tri-plane out in front of Little Town Police Station. Three little officers and Chief Little escorted Crabby inside.
“Well,” said General Rickrack, “Maybe we should go back to the beach and search that motor boat for clues.”
They tiptoed very carefully back along the little train tracks, BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! It was three stops on the train but for the giants it was only three steps to the beach. They walked out on the purple sand and breathed the crisp ocean air, and turned towards where the ocean liner was anchored and... It was gone! The ocean liner had vanished!”
“Where’s the ship?!” shouted Gerry. “How are we going to get home now?!”
“They wouldn’t leave without us,” said General Rickrack.
“Hey, look at this,” said the boy with orange hair. He pointed down to the wet sand at the water’s edge and they saw a small toy ocean liner, just the right size for playing in the bathtub.
“It’s a nice toy,” said General Rickrack, “but where’s our ship?”
“I’m afraid that’s it,” said the boy with orange hair.
“Whaaaat?!” they gasped.
“Yes,” said the boy. “Somebody on this island has a shrinking ray and I’ll give you one guess who.”
Just then, General Rickrack said, “Hmm. You know, I feel a little strange.”
“Me, too,” said Gerry the groundhog.
“I feel a little funny myself,” said the boy.
“It seems a little purplish around here,” said General Rickrack. And they all noticed the sand and the air were sort of glowing with a kind of purple glow.
“It’s a shrinking ray!” shouted the boy with orange hair. But it was too late. OOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooooop!! Before they could make a move, they were all shrunk down to one-inch size.
“Now we’ll NEVER get home,” wailed one inch Gerry.
“What are we going to do?” cried little General Rickrack. “Even if we did get back to the surface now, we’d be too small!”
“We’ve got to do SOMETHING!” said Gerry. “But what?”
“Well,” said the boy with orange hair. “Let’s head back into Little Town and talk to Mayor Little. We can ask him if anyone has been acting strangely or if anything unusual has happened lately. We might get a clue.”
They walked back across the sand beach, three steps when they were normal size giants, which now stretched out like a vast desert. They trudged and trudged across the giant, shifting dunes and finally came to the forest of grass at the edge of the beach where the railroad tracks ran.
They waited at the station and, after 13 and a half minutes, a dot of light appeared down the tracks in the distance. It was the headlight of the green and black Wabash Cannonball and, a few moments later, the train pulled into the station and the guys got on board. They rode the train three stops and got off in Little Town at the station next to Town Hall.
They knocked, and Mayor Little came to the door. He looked at them and looked again and said, “Say, have we met before? You guys look awfully familiar.”
“We’re the giants!” said Gerry the friendly groundhog. “We dropped off Crabby Crayfish.”
“Why, so you were,” said Mayor Little, who recognized them now. “Amazing. What happened?”
“Someone in Little Town has a shrinking ray,” said the boy with orange hair. “Our only chance to get home is to find out who. Think carefully, please, and tell us, have any strangers come to town recently or has anything unusual been happening?”
“Well,” said Mayor Little. “Let’s see. No, nothing unusual. I can’t think of anything, everything’s been quite normal, not much excitement, except, hmm, well...”
“Well, what?” asked Gerry.
“Well, there is one odd character who comes into town from time to time. He always wears black and never speaks to anyone. He keeps to himself and just comes for groceries and stamps and never says hello. He lives in a rundown house in a deserted area some ways from here, out yonder, on the other side of Dark Mountain at the edge of the wasteland. Nobody ever goes out there.”
The guys looked in the direction the mayor was pointing and saw a large, dark mountain rising in the distance.
“Well,” said the boy with orange hair. “Perhaps we should go out there and pay him a visit.”
“Yeah,” said Gerry. “And the sooner, the better.”
“But how will we get there?” asked General Rickrack.
They all looked at each other helplessly. And then, their eyes fell on the beautiful little Fokker tri-plane parked in front of Little Town Police Headquarters.
“Let’s go!” said Gerry.
They piled into the Fokker, taxied down Main St., and took off. They flew towards Dark Mountain, swooped around it, and, on the far side, saw a barren wasteland stretched out to the horizon.
“Look!” said Gerry, “Down there!”
Beneath them, on the far side, at the foot of the mountain, they saw a lonely, ramshackle little house. They brought the plane down, and walked down a barren path that came to a broken fence that enclosed a rundown house in a bare little yard. They climbed over the fence, walked up to the front door, and rang the bell, but no one answered. They rang again and still, no answer.
“Nobody home,” said General Rickrack.
“Look!” said Gerry. And they saw a little sign nailed over doorbell: “No one home. No deliveries. No vacancy. Go away and don’t come back. Ever. Q. Q. Quigley III.”
“Hmmm,” said General Rickrack. “Not very hospitable.”
“Look over here,” said Gerry the friendly groundhog.
They followed Gerry around the side of the house and saw an open window. They went up to the window and looked in. They saw a little room with a desk and a table with beakers and test tubes and scientific equipment, and shelves on the walls filled with cans and jars. In the middle of the room was a strange looking machine with lots of dials and gauges and knobs and a big lever. The machine was shaking and vibrating, chuga-chuga-chuga-chuga. Strangely, the whole room was glowing with a faint purple glow.
“Hello? Anybody home?!” Gerry shouted in the window.
“Well,” said the boy with orange hair. “Maybe if we just climb up here and...” He pulled himself up through the window and dropped down into the room. The guys followed him in.
The boy walked over to one of the shelves and read the labels on the cans and jars: “talcum powder,” “mustard seeds,” “sugar,” “iron oxide,” “youth powder,” “flour”...
Hey! Wait a minute! he thought. He took the jar of youth powder and put it in his pocket.
General Rickrack and Gerry were staring at the machine, which was humming and shaking and glowing.
“What do you think that contraption is?” asked General Rickrack.
“I’m not sure,” said Gerry. He looked at all the gauges and dials. “Hmmm.” He turned one of the dials. Nothing happened. “Hmmm.” He pushed one of the buttons. Nothing happened. “Hmmm.”
“HOW DID YOU GET IN HERE?!” shouted an angry voice.
Copyright © 2007 by Bill Bowler