The Journey of Alysis

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Texas myth and kids story of a young orphan girl in prehistoric times who discovers unknown powers to save humanity. Written by Sara Popp.

Long, long ago, when the Earth was flat and the continents were all connected together, there were people who walked on it. The land was dry and bare, except near the oceans. People had dug out man-made lakes to create lively civilizations. Some trees started to grow and children found bushes with berries in them. It is also important to know that there were animals that were bigger than all of the settlements put together living on Earth. These animals were dinosaurs, all kinds of them. They were fierce animals that always got their way, killing almost anything that came in sight. Food was hard to come by with limited amounts of berry bushes and small rodents to eat. Dinosaur eggs were the most nutritious and filling food on Earth, but they were hard to steal from right underneath the dinosaur’s nose.

At this time, the world was starting to become a more populated and efficient place, and then a tragedy happened.

One of the people who walked through the civilizations was Alysis. She walked alone, being separated from her family nearly five years ago, when the disaster on Earth first occurred. One night, while she was sleeping, the shaking got so strong and furious that everyone in her village fled the area, hoping to get away from the horrible shaking. She was in the same hut that her family was in, but somehow they had gotten separated with all of the commotion. It was like everyone in her settlement had gone one way and she ran in the opposite way, but how could they let that happen? She was slightly afraid, but she had to be strong and think positively if she ever hoped to find her family on the big, flat Earth that she lived on. The land continued to shake after she was separated from her family like there were roaring waters underneath them, but Alysis was nowhere near the ocean.

When the shaking of the Earth first started happening, no one thought twice about it. They thought the gods were the ones who were shaking the land, punishing them for some wrongdoing. But throughout Alysis’s journey across the lands in search of her family, the shaking got significantly worse. Although Alysis was afraid because she was in the world on her own, her family had taught her the skills she needed to start up her journey to wherever she wanted. She knew she would survive without her family, but she hoped that one day she would find them so they could be together and safe.

When Alysis was quite young, she had realized she had a skill that no one else taught her or even had, unless they were hiding it, too. Alysis was strong…really, really strong. If she really focused, she could move things not only with her body, but with the force of her body as well. Alysis did not know what this meant, but since she had been separated from her family, she believed that it was important for her to continue on in her search for them and make some good out of the special skill that she had been given.

Sometimes, when Alysis would lie down for the night under the bright and shining stars, something from above would speak to her. Although she did not spend much time learning from her parents, she knew these were the gods speaking to her, telling her that she was going to one day do great things with the powers she was given, if she headed in the right direction. This was confusing to Alysis because she had no idea in which direction she should be traveling. The gods had never steered her elsewhere so she continued to walk in the same direction, towards the West, every day and every night. She hoped that her powers would someday lead her back to her family.

As she continued on her journey, the shaking of the Earth began to worsen, becoming almost constant. One day, Alysis saw something miles up ahead. It gave her determination to continue walking even though the Earth was constantly shaking out of, what she thought, was the anger the gods had. Finally reaching the things she had seen miles off in the distance, she saw three men with joyous looks on their faces.

“Greetings.” Alysis said formally to the men. Her parents had taught her to be the most formal with people you had never met before, even if they were strange looking. “I have been traveling for a long time now, alone, fending for myself. Do you have any dinosaur eggs you can spare that I could eat?” Although Alysis was a strong girl and could fight and kill any animal that came near her, no edible animals had come her way in the past few days.

“Hello Alysis, we know exactly who you are. We have been waiting.” The tallest man said to her.
She looked surprised, wondering what they meant by that. And how did they know her name? Was her family near? How else would they have known a girl like her was headed in their direction?

Another man stepped forward and handed her a dinosaur egg. She hoped these men were trustworthy because she had so much hunger in her stomach, so she started scarfing it down. “No, no.” He said, sort of giggling. “Your family did not tell us about you, in fact we have not seen them since they have not traveled in this direction.”

Another shock came to her while she was eating the delicious dinosaur egg. Could he read her mind?

“Oh yes, dear,” the same man spoke. “You know, you are not the only one with a special skill. I can read minds and I read yours quite clearly. We have been expecting you, the gods told us you, Alysis, were coming.” She almost stopped eating the dinosaur egg because of how surprised she was, but she was too hungry.

“Now,” the last man said, “it is prominent that we move fast. We know this will come as a surprise to you, but you are the Goddess of Strength. You have always been the Goddess of Strength, but the gods were waiting to show you your true powers until it was time. The time has come – it is your job to help put an end to this horrible shaking we have been enduring by using your skill of strength to stop the land from endlessly moving.” He spoke quickly, like something bad would happen if he didn’t get the words out of his mouth as fast as possible.

He hardly gave her time to process what was going on before he gave her a look like ‘do you understand?’

“What do you mean? How do I do it? Right here, right now? I don’t think I am prepared to do this, I am so young!” Alysis said with fear in her eyes.

“Come here, young one,” the first man spoke again. As she walked over to him, he reached out his arm to touch her left temple, staring deeply into her frightful eyes. Knowledge and ideas poured into her, things she needed to know about the challenge she was about to face. Images of bare land cracking, water, settlements of people miles away fearing for their lives and moving day by day to get away from the problematic cracking land.

Her eyes flung open with somewhat of an understanding of her task. In only a few seconds, she was able to get as much information she could about travelling to the land where she would help people. She knew she had to keep going westward and where she would find the land by the ocean where the shaking problem started. What she had received from the man were short clips of the problem she had to fix, but she still did not know exactly what she was supposed to do. But, she was the Goddess of Strength. Why had the gods never told her this before?

“You were meant to find us. When it was time, dear,” the mind reader interrupted her thoughts.

“Wow. This is a lot to take in at once. I am a Goddess? I can help people, save lives – stop the land from caving in and making the land fall into the ocean.” Alysis stated.

“Yes, girl,” the tallest one said, “Now hurry, you have all of the information you need. In many days you will be where you need to be. Look for the cracks in the Earth. Listen to the gods above. And when you get there, only you can decide what is necessary to make the Earth a safe place again, just use your strength and knowledge.”

They gave her a few things in a sack made of dinosaur skin and she was off to do whatever task they had put in her mind. She did not completely understand it, although she did not want to tell the men that, but she thought other people would help her to figure out her task throughout her journey to the unknown cracking area of the Earth near the ocean. These men were powerful, all knowing men who had taught Alysis in a short amount of time how she could save this planet from being empty again. But what would she do when she got to that place, where the land would fall apart if she did not step in?

As Alysis hurried through the daylight and into nighttime to find the place she was searching for, the gods started speaking to her.

“Alysis,” said a noise from the cloud-filled sky, “you must beware of what’s to come.”

What did that mean?

She fell asleep that night wondering what was coming her way and what exactly she had to do to save the planet. It was hard to understand that such a big problem had been laid upon her shoulders, but she would do whatever she could to stop the Earth from shaking.

———-

She awoke with a wetness on her face: warm and thick.

A dinosaur had creped up on her as she slept, knowing that she was similar to the type of thing that had taken her eggs in the past. Alysis, still in a sleepy state, did not know what to do and this Hadrosaurs would eat her right up if she did not think fast.

As she started to come out of her foggy, sleepy state, she quickly remembered she was a Goddess, and more importantly, the Goddess of Strength. As she stood up, the dinosaur lunged at her. She closed her eyes tightly and showed her palms to the deadly Hadrosaurs, and then she heard a screech.

She had become stronger, even though before she definitely had this power with her hands and did not know what to use it for. She never knew she could throw an extremely large dinosaur across an area twice the size of the height of a Hadrosaurs. It must have been the knowledge she gained about being the Goddess of Strength that allowed her to do things she had never done before. She finally knew how to use her force for good. With her goddess powers, she knew she would do great things with the help of the gods above.

“Well, take that!” Alysis screamed from far away. The dinosaur seemed to stir a little, so she picked up her dinosaur skin sack and started to run very, very quickly.

Alysis still did not know how far away she was from the land that was cracking. And she still did not know what she would do when she got there. Would a god give her advice from above or would she have to decide for herself? She knew she could move large things, hopefully even land, with the forces in her body, but were there other secret powers that Alysis had because she was the Goddess of Strength? Would she learn about some more of her powers when she got to the area where the land was cracking, near the ocean and the end of the world? She wished someone would lead her in the right direction, telling her how she could fully use her goddess powers and defeat the problems more quickly.

She continued walking, sometimes fast and sometimes slower. She was always afraid that something could be coming her way when she least expected it. So that night, she went to sleep with fear in her head, hoping nothing would come her way that could kill her in her sleep.

She awoke to a noise that was louder than she had ever heard before. All of the gods were talking at once, screaming at her, at least she thought.

“Hurry! Alysis! Go! You don’t understand! Alysis! Go! Go! Go! You must hurry! Alysis! ALYSIS! GO!!!” and it continued, louder and louder with words that were so jumbled she could hardly make out what they were saying.

When she heard the screams from the sky, she instantly started running without being fully conscious. As she awoke completely, she replayed the gods message in her head – she had to get out of the area very quickly. And that is what she did because she knew she was an important part of this plan to save the Earth. She was going as fast as she could, but was it fast enough? Was there another way she could get there faster?

After running for what seemed like hours to Alysis, she started to slow down because of the activity she saw in the distance. Was it the settlements? Or were they travellers? Or were they just random people that had been moving from the place they had previously lived?

Soon she discovered that they were people, running quicker than she had ever seen people run before. With their horses and wagons and children coming towards her with fright in their faces, she decided that they must be the people from the settlements by the land that was cracking. She needed to talk to them and see how much farther it was until she got to the cracked land and find out why exactly they were running. But how? They were so fast and so furious looking, there was no way a little girl like her could stop them dead in their tracks and ask them for help.

Then she remembered she was not just a little girl anymore. She was a goddess: the Goddess of Strength. She could stop them with the power she had within her.

She pushed her hands out in front of her and with all of the force she could push out of her body she stopped the people coming her way. She needed help from her eyes, but they all stopped right where they were, some people flipping and falling over because of the speed they were traveling towards her with, but regardless, they were stopped.

Whispers came from the crowd. “What’s going on? Who is that? How did she DO that?”

“Don’t you remember what the gods told us a few days back? She’s comin’. She’s come to help us. To stop the Earth from shaking so furiously! It’s the Goddess of Strength!” one of the members of the crowd yelled out to the other people.

“I’m Alysis.” She said, remembering how she should properly introducer herself. “Oh, and the Goddess of Strength. It seems like you were in such a hurry. I am so sorry I had to stop you like that, but that was the only way I thought a little girl like me could stop a group of so many people like you.”

“Oh, goddess! You are no little girl. You are so strong and wise. And we know you will save us from the land that keeps crackin’ in. Please!” another group member yelled from inside a wagon.

“Yes! Please Alysis!” the children all cried from inside the wagons. “You have to save us! It is so scary over there! It needs to stop. Please help us!”

“Where do I go and how much farther is it?” Alysis asked, worry in her voice.

“Oh. You are so so close Alysis! You must keep runnin’ and you will be there much before dark! Then do what you can to save us!” another traveler shouted.

“Thank you for all of your kind words and help. I will do whatever I can when I get there to help all of you and the rest of the world, even though I have no idea what I will do when I get there.” She should not have said that aloud because all of the members of the group were even more frightened – they looked like they no longer believed in her. She decided she needed to sound more confident and strong saying, “Now, leave the area and get to somewhere safe!”

They all left again in a hurry and thanked Alysis for all that she did. Alysis felt like she was going to fail them because of her lack of knowledge, but all she could do was try her best. With her newfound skills and knowledge of being a goddess, she believed she could do much more than she ever thought possible.

Again, she started off running, looking back at the flat land behind her to see if the settlement people were still in sight. They were, but hardly, because they were running just as fast as she was towards safer land. After they were out of sight, she continued to look forward to the horrible cracking land that was causing so many problems in the world.

She continued running as fast as she could, but she grew very hungry. She ate the last of the food in her sack, hoping that after she did what she could at the cracking land, she would be given more or taken somewhere that had something for her to eat. She thought the gods must praise her; after all, she was the Goddess of Strength. After she had scarfed down her remaining food, she began to run again.

The sun was getting closer to the horizon, meaning it would be dark soon enough. As she noticed this, she spotted something else about a mile off in the distance. Cracking. Land that looked like it was no longer there anymore. It had to be –

“Yes, Alysis. Go. You are so close. Save the world.” She heard a god speak from above.

Although she had stopped dead in her tracks with the sight of the land she had been looking for for so many days, she started to sprint faster than she had ever before. Sweat dripping off of her face, hunger and thirst in her stomach, she made it to the cracking land so quickly that she had no idea what to do when she finally made it to the edge of the world. Ocean water was flowing and taking pieces of the cracked land along with it.

She thought about her strength. She must use her strength to do something to stop the Earth from constantly shaking. Although she had become used to the shaking after constantly enduring it for so many years, it still needed to stop before anything worse happened.

Suddenly, something came over her. Her head filled with knowledge of what to do to save the remaining land from falling into the ocean. “Dig. It is time to dig. To push all of the dirt to places where it isn’t now. To create holes in the Earth so the water can come up between the landmasses. There is too much pressure – the land does not have enough strength to hold itself together with the roaring water rushing around and trying to get underneath it. I will dig and build up the land on the edges to make a large whole across this land.” Alysis said and no gods disagreed, so she started without hesitation, because it seemed like she did not have much time.

With the most amount of concentration she had ever given to anything, she focused all of her force and power on the land in front of her. Pushing so hard on the land that had already started cracking, moving the areas apart that were naturally being pushed apart from the ocean water. The first hole she dug was wonderful, so smooth on the edges. And when the water started to come through the bottom, she stopped and held her breath, and then the water stopped squirting up through the bottom of the Earth. It started flowing and stopped where the land was still put together.

The land seemed like it was floating on water in these places, but she knew it was just underneath the land pushing up, like where every edge of land meets the ocean. That’s why there was too much pressure coming from the water, trying to push the land apart. The water wanted to be where the land was. If she could fix this area then the pressure should not be too strong in other places and the land should stop shaking all over Earth.

Alysis continued, digging holes and building up the land around the edges in some places. Some edges were smooth; some were rough when she had to start moving land somewhere else if there was an unexpected crack and she thought the land might come crashing down. Water was flowing through the whole vast amount of land as it started going out to the ocean. Although the area was so incredibly large, Alysis found that she could see every edge and crack and crease in the area, like her eyesight had improved with her knowledge of being a goddess. There were some places in the immeasurable area that were dry with no water near them because the water had not cracked through these parts yet. Some land was taller than others, but with every move Alysis made, the Earth stopped shaking a little.

After what seemed like hours of protruding the land and fixing every last crease she could see, the Earth was hardly shaking anymore. The last crack she could see was right next to her feet and it was almost bursting at the edges with water spurting through the land. She was exhausted, but she knew after this last bout of strength, she would be able to stop and look at the land that she had saved. With the most force she could put towards the land, she dug out right next to her feet and created a very shallow opening to this new created land. She felt still for the first time since she could remember.

Then, a roar louder than the gods shouting at her earlier that day, came from the sky. The gods. She had saved Earth and all of the people who settled in this area. Although they were no longer in the area, she was sure they would come back and see the creation she had made as soon as they felt the stillness of the world.

“Alysis,” Zeus, the king of all gods, spoke to her. She knew this because he showed himself – for the first time ever, she could actually see a god. “You have proven your strength. You are truly a goddess who has created a wondrous area for all to look at on this Earth and even better, saved the land from falling into the ocean. Just look at what you have made, given water to the land around the surrounding the area. Soon you will come up to the heavens to be with us. It is beautiful. You did this all on your own with your goddess strength with little help from us gods above.”

She took her time to look around and see the land she had created with the strength in her little body and mind. It really was beautiful, flowing land.

Brazos River below Possum Kingdom Lake, Palo Pinto County, Texas

Today, people all over the grand Southern state rely on the water from the area Alysis created so many years ago. It is the important area where the Goddess of Strength came and saved the planet from crashing in on itself and the ocean. Alysis still looks down on the land and water in this area today from up in the sky as the Goddess of Strength and she is proud to know that the people of Earth have named the land something so powerful like her: The Brazos River in Texas.

-THE END-

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The Mischievous Pumpkin

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Georgia farmer brings home a very strange Halloween pumpkin that causes all sorts of trouble. Written by Julie Ann Wallo.

Duckett Barnes was known for growing the finest pumpkins in all of Mountain Creek, Georgia. They were the biggest and the brightest; and that was before a candle was placed inside.

The road leading to Booger Bear Hollow was lined with dense trees. The heavy limbs hanged low over the pot hole-riddled road. It was a place you didn’t want to be after sunset. The stark black branches from the surrounding trees formed a spooky silhouette against the orange glow of the setting sun. Just the sight of the long crawling branches sent a chill up the spine. But if you wanted one of Duckett’s pumpkins, this is where you had to go.

Well, Ottie Brown’s wife, known as “Miss Duella,” sent her husband to get one of Duckett’s pumpkins. It was Halloween. Miss Duella had been after Ottie for days and he had just about ran out of excuses. The truth was, the further he stayed away from Booger Bear Hollow, the better he liked it.

There was a buzzard sitting on the fence as Ottie backed the truck from the driveway. Buzzards were a bad sign and Ottie’s nerves were already frayed.

Driving down to Booger Bear Hollow was a test of bravery all in itself. Ottie never claimed to be a brave man. It was all he could do to keep his knees from knocking as he got out of the truck.

There was an old tin bucket hanging on a nail in a hundred year old oak tree. The pumpkins were paid for on the honor system. Just throw a coin or two in the bucket, choose a pumpkin and off you would go. As long as you were happy, Duckett Barnes was happy.

Ottie threw a couple of coins in the bucket, listening as the coins rolled round and round, then finally settling with a clank on the bottom of the rusted bucket.

Stepping in a hole and twisting his ankle, he sat down on the first pumpkin he came to and rubbed his foot. He did not put much thought into the pumpkin he chose. The one closest to the truck would do just fine. A pumpkin is a pumpkin he mumbled to himself.

Halloween Pumpkin Patch

He got out his pocket knife to cut the pumpkin from the vine. That was the toughest vine he’d ever cut. Carrying the pumpkin, he hobbled back to the truck and struggled to load it on the tailgate. Ottie noticed for the first time that while the other pumpkins were sitting straight, this one was a bit caddywompered. And the closer he looked he noticed this pumpkin was tinted an odd greenish color. You could tell this pumpkin came from bad seed; but there was no way Ottie Brown was going back into that pumpkin patch.

Ottie scooted, pushed and pulled the thing to the corner of the truck bed. He had never known a pumpkin to be so much trouble. He packed corn sacks and corn cobs tightly around it to hold it in place. If this pumpkin were to bust, Miss Duella would send him straight back to Booger Bear Hollow.

Ottie got in his truck and dabbed his forehead with his handkerchief. His nerves were already on edge when something caused the truck to backfire. Poor Ottie, he thought someone was shooting at him.

He mashed the gas pedal to the floor. As he sped off down the winding road he had to swerve to keep from hitting a squirrel that was sitting in the road. When he did the back end of the truck slid off into the ditch. Immediately he could hear the “hiss” of a tire rapidly loosing its air.

He pulled over, got out his jack to change the tire. He thought he heard someone laughing at him. He looked but no one was around. He knew it sounded crazy but the sound seemed to be coming from…the pumpkin!

As he was putting away the jack, W. T. Allen was racing down the road. Mardell must have sent him to Booger Bear Hollow too. No one would go there on their own accord. W. T. stopped to see if he could help. “No thanks, W. T. I’ve got it; you go on and get out of here before sunset.”

You didn’t have to tell W. T. twice. He was off before Ottie finished his sentence.

When Ottie Brown finally got home, Miss Duella was mad as an ole’ wet hen! Whatever took so long?

“Never mind you, Duella, next year we are planting our own pumpkin,” he said, and went to lie down on the couch with a cold rag on his head.

Miss Duella put her hands on her hips in disgust as she inspected the pumpkin Ottie had brought home. It was the bumpiest, most discolored, crooked thing she had ever seen. It was too late to do anything about it now, she reasoned. She would have to make do with what she had.

When Miss Duella cut the lid from the pumpkin, she could see the seeds inside were a slimy black. Black seeds in a watermelon, yes. Black seed in a pumpkin…well, she had never laid eyes on such a thing.

Miss Duella carved triangle eyes and a zigzag mouth. As the evening grew darker the expression on the jack-o-lantern’s face began to look…well, downright spooky!

Of all the pumpkins in Booger Bear Hollow, why did he have to pick THIS one?

With Ottie still recovering on the couch, Miss Duella struggled to get the pumpkin to the porch. Every time she tried to light the candle, the flame would go right back out. It was almost like that pumpkin was blowing it out itself. She must have lit that candle a hundred times.

No sooner than Miss Duella was in the house…the wind blew. The mischievous pumpkin rocked back and forth and then rolled over Midnight’s tail. ME-OW! MEOW! The cat cried. Midnight was Miss Duella’s cat and seldom did she hear a peep out of her.

Miss Duella came to the door to see what was happening. When she opened the door, Midnight jumped up with her hair raised and her back arched. She hissed and extended her claws toward the jack-o-lantern. Meanwhile, the mischievous pumpkin had rolled right back in place.

The first trick-or-treaters to arrive were dressed as a ghost, a witch, and a scare crow. They walked up the stone lined walkway crunching leaves and twigs with every step. As soon as they stepped onto the porch they heard a whisper…coming from…the pumpkin?

“Black cats, bats, and spiders galore,
Adding to the Halloween lore.
Shadows dancing in the night
from the candle’s light.”

All Miss Duella heard was high pitched shrills and the sound of children running away.

By the time she rushed to the door, everything LOOKED to be normal. It must be the squeaky shutters or the rustling of the leaves she thought.

Then she saw Midnight.

“Midnight!” she scolded. “Did you scare those little trick-or-treaters? You naughty, naughty cat!”

Midnight meowed trying to explain herself but Miss Duella scooped her up and carried her in the house.

The next trick-or-treaters were dressed in cowboy boots and hats. They had blue and white bandanas tied around their necks. They were the twins, Joshua and Jacob, from down the road.

What happened next made the mischievous pumpkin laugh his evil laugh. Just as he began his chant…

“Boo to you and all of your kind
The frights tonight are mine all mine…”

…the little cow pokes hollered and took off running as quickly as their little boots could carry them! Jacob snagged his britches on a thorn from one of Miss Duella’s rose bushes. He was running so fast he left a patch of his pants flapping in the breeze.

Miss Duella hastily untied her apron and raced to open the screen door. She called after the twins to see what happened. All she could hear was “the pu, pu, pumpkin!” and they kept on running. She was at her wits end. What was frightening the children? She had spent all morning and afternoon making candied apples and popcorn balls. She loved Halloween and only wanted the children to have fun.

The pumpkin found great delight in scaring the children. The more trouble he caused the brighter he glowed.

He rolled his way to the barn. As he entered, the mischievous pumpkin grinned even bigger. He wondered what trouble he could stir up here.

The mischievous pumpkin caused a terrific fright. He sneaked up behind Bessie the cow and shouted “BOO!” When the pumpkin said BOO she said MOO-O-O!…kicked up her heels and sent the milk bucket flying. It ricocheted from the rafters to the walls. The bucket knocked the lucky horse shoe upside down draining all of its good luck. When the bucket finally came to a rest, it was sitting on top of Bessie’s head. Her brown eyes, big as saucers, could barely peek beneath the rim of the bucket.

The goats were baahing, the chickens were clucking, and poor ole Bessie let out an exasperated “moo.”

Miss Duella ran to the barn with a pitchfork in one hand and a lantern in the other. She had no idea what was upsetting the animals. But she was determined to put a stop to it.

Entering the barn she could see Bessie with the milk bucket on her head.

“Oh, my poor Bessie,” she couldn’t help but chuckle. “What in the world have you gotten yourself into?” She gently worked the bucket off of Bessie’s head. She rubbed Bessie’s nose trying to comfort her.

Miss Duella spotted the jack-o-lantern trying to roll away.

“YOU!” exclaimed Miss Duella, shaking her finger sternly towards the pumpkin. “You are behind all of this! Well, I will fix you!”

And fix him she did. The next evening the sweet smell of warm cinnamon and spices filled the kitchen.

After supper, Miss Duella placed the most delightful pie on the table. And for the very first time ever, the mischievous pumpkin was good…really good! And Mr. and Mrs. Brown gobbled it all up.

-THE END-

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Storyland Jack

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Southern fairy tale teaming up some of the most famous nursery rhyme characters to solve a strange wedding mystery. Written by Harris Tobias.

Hi. I’m Jack. You probably heard of me. I’ve been a fixture in Storyland, Alabama for a long, long time. You probably heard of Jack And The Beanstalk, Jack Be Nimble, Jack And Jill, Jack Sprat? Well, I’m that Jack. Like I said, I’ve been here a long time. I’m sort of like the Mayor, or maybe Chief Constable would be more accurate. Something happens around here, I’m the guy people come to.

Storyland’s usually a pretty quiet place considering its citizens: talking animals, talking objects, giants, wizards, witches, you name it and they probably live here. You’d wonder if there’s any peace at all. But most people mind their own business and try to get along. I guess in that sense you could say that Storyland, Alabama, is pretty much like anyplace else.

Well, you could imagine my surprise when, the other day, I was sitting in my office sweet talking Goldie, my pet goose. I was trying to coax one more golden egg out of her. Goldie’s getting old. She’s not the goose she was when I snatched her away from that giant a long time ago. We were both a lot younger then. I’ll tell you one thing though, it was Goldie and her golden eggs that have enabled me to enjoy a comfortable retirement, but it looks as if the old girl’s through. I haven’t seen a golden egg in months.

Anyway, I digress. I was sitting in my office minding my own business when Cow and Cat came bursting in. Both looked distressed. I have known Cow and Cat for many years. They are both entertainers. Cat plays a mean fiddle and is the leader of a band called Hi Diddle Diddle. Cow has performed her trick of jumping over the moon ever since I can remember. I’ve seen her do it a number of times and still can’t quite figure out how she does it.

Well, anyway, they came bursting into my office both talking at once. I calmed them down and served them a cup of tea and a plateful of cookies I had put out. I put Goldie back in her cage in the spare room lest she lay an egg in front of strangers and her magical ability became public knowledge. When we are all settled around the table, I refilled the teacups (but not the cookie plate) and waited for their story.

-The Cat’s Tale-

Cat was a heck of a fiddle player. If you were thinking of throwing a party or a wedding, you’d want Cat and his band playing for you. The Hi Diddles were composed of four musicians: Cat, Donkey, Dog and Rooster. They have a story of their own (Town Musicians of Bremen) but I won’t get into it here. Suffice it to say that they have a distinctive sound which grows on you over time.

It was plain to see that Cat was nervous. He licked his paw, cleared his throat and began. “We were playing at a wedding earlier today. It was a lavish affair, people were dancing and laughing. Cow here was doing her Over the Moon trick to great applause.”

Here I had to interrupt. “Whose wedding?” I asked, suddenly hurt that I hadn’t been invited.

Cat blushed sensing my bruised feelings. “I’m sorry,” he said, “We thought you knew. It was Dish and Spoon, they were finally getting hitched after all these years together.”

How do you like that? Dish and Spoon finally get married and I wasn’t even invited. And here I thought we were old friends. Anyway, I covered up my hurt feelings by being the professional that I am and listened to the rest of Cat’s story. “So what happened?” I inquired.

“That’s just it,” said Cat. “Nothing happened.”

“I don’t understand. You just said they were getting married.”

“They were getting married,” Cat explained. “I was playing the wedding march expecting Dish and Spoon to come down the aisle but they didn’t come.”

“You mean they got cold feet?”

“No, you ninny. They vanished. They went missing.”

Now this was interesting. People in Storyland don’t simply disappear. Storyland is not that big a place. There is the deep dark forest and the enchanted castle, sure, but it was unlikely Dish and Spoon would go there. Dish and Spoon were a pretty cowardly pair and wouldn’t survive very long without regular meals and a warm place to live.

I considered the usual villains: Big Bad Wolf, The Wicked Witch, The Evil Step Mother, but I couldn’t imagine any of them being interested in a such ordinary folk. I was about to say that they probably just got nervous and will turn up in a day or two when Cow spoke up for the first time.

-The Cow’s Tale-

“I don’t think they were kidnapped either,” said Cow. “I think they ran off so they wouldn’t have to pay for the wedding.”

“What makes you say that?” I asked Cow.

“On my last jump over the moon,” Cow said, “I looked down and saw them run off together holding hands. There was no one with them.”

Cow jumps over the moon.
“Well,” I replied, “Everyone has the right to change their mind. Maybe they got second thoughts about getting married. There’s nothing wrong with that.”

“There is nothing wrong with that?” said Cow looking at me like I had a screw loose.

“What? You want me to investigate? Find out what happened to them?”

“We don’t care what happened to them,” said Cow. “What we want is to get paid. You think I jump over the moon for free?”

“And you think me and my musicians play all night for the fun of it?” added Cat.

“Ah, now I understand,” I said. “It’s about money. It’s always about money.”

By now the tea was drunk and the cookies eaten and the sun was going down. I agreed to take the case. I saw Cat and Cow to the door and put on my detective’s cloak and boots and hurried over to The Queen of Hearts Tavern where the wedding was to have taken place.

Now The Queen of Hearts is the swankiest place in Storyland and I wondered just how Dish and Spoon expected to pay for their wedding. Everyone knew that Dish and Spoon didn’t have a farthing between them.

-The Little Dog’s Tale-

By the time I arrived at the Tavern, all of the guests had gone home. Little Dog was the only one there. He was cleaning up the mess and putting the big room back together. “Hi Jack,” he laughed when he saw me. Little Dog was always laughing. Some people found it endearing, I found it annoying. I sat down at one of the many tables and looked around. I could see it was going to be one heck of an expensive wedding. The tables were covered with fine cloths, crystal glassware and lavish floral center pieces.

“Looks like it was going to be one fine party,” I ventured. Little Dog laughed like it was the funniest thing he’d ever heard. “What’s the joke?” I asked.

“Oh boy, Jack, you should have been here. It was the funniest thing. All those guests. People eating and drinking. The music playing. Cow doing her crazy thing. And just when you’d expect the bride and groom to take their vows, nobody’s there. Now if that’s not something to laugh at, I don’t know what is.”

“Did you happen to overhear them talking?” I inquired.

“I thought they were a little nervous but I just put it down to wedding day jitters.”

“Did you happen to notice which way they went?”

“Out through the kitchen door,” Little Dog said pointing in the direction of the big shoe house in the distance. “They just ran off that-away.”

I walked through the kitchen. The stove was filled with big pots of food that no one was going to eat. “What’s going to become of all this food?” I asked.

“I guess we’ll give it away to the poor like we always do. It would be a pity to waste it. We usually give some to The Old Woman Who Lives In A Shoe and some to Old Mother Hubbard. Why do you ask?”

-The Dish And The Spoon’s Tale-

Talking to Little Dog had given me an idea. I walked over to The Old Woman Who Lives In A Shoe and knocked on her door. The Old Woman is a kindly soul who keeps a dozen orphan children under her roof. She gets by on charity and left over food from Storyland’s many inns and restaurants.

“Who’s there?” asked a voice from behind the door. It sounded like an old lady’s voice but I couldn’t be sure.

“It’s Jack,” I answered, “I need to talk to you.”

The door opened a crack and I could just make out the Old Woman’s bonnet and apron. Something was amiss, she appeared very nervous. “What is it, Jack?”

“Can I come in?”

“Um, no, not now. I’m preparing supper.”

I could see through the crack in the door all of the children sitting at the great long table, their hands clasped in front of them acting so quiet and well behaved. Usually there was such a tumble of activity in the shoe house you couldn’t hear yourself think. Now the kids were sitting at their places so quiet and well behaved I was tempted to ask if something was wrong. Then I noticed that the table was bare, there wasn’t a plate or a spoon anywhere in sight. Something was definitely wrong.

I tipped my hat to the Old Woman Who Lives In A Shoe and took my leave. I heard the door close, and made believe I was walking away. As soon as I was out of sight, I doubled back to the shoe house and hid in the bushes. I didn’t have long to wait before Little Dog came down the road pulling a wooden cart piled high with all of the uneaten wedding food.

Little Dog helped The Old Woman load most of the food into the shoe and then moved on to poor Old Mother Hubbard’s house where I suspected he would deliver the rest. I crept up to the window and looked inside. I couldn’t believe what I saw. All of the children were still sitting at the great table exactly as before. The Old Woman was carrying piles of food—roasted chickens, roast beef, suckling pigs— into another room at the back of the house. She wasn’t giving her children any of it.

I snuck around back to see what was going on and what I saw made my blood run cold. There stood the Wicked Wolf gorging himself on the wedding feast. Two little children sat bound and gagged in the corner. I wasted no time. I burst into the Shoe House and arrested the Wicked Wolf. It will be many months before he is free again to terrorize Storyland.

Dish and Spoon were hiding out in Old Mother Hubbard’s cupboard. When I questioned Dish about the days events he told me this story:

The Wicked Wolf threatened to eat the Old Woman’s children unless she fed him something better. Being frightened and poor, the Old Woman got together with Old Mother Hubbard. They scraped together what little food the could but the wolf was not satisfied and demanded more. Out of despiration, the two old women urged Dish and Spoon to fake their wedding and run away at the last minute. All of the uneaten food would go to the wolf. It was a clever plan and makes a heck of a good story.

-THE END-

Harris Tobias lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of The Greer Agency , A Felony of Birds and dozens of short stories. His fiction has appeared in Ray Gun Revival, Dunesteef Audio Magazine, Literal Translations, FriedFiction, Down In The Dirt, Eclectic Flash, E Fiction and many other publications. His poetry has appeared in Vox Poetica, The poem Factory and The Poetry Super Highway. You can find links to his novels at: http://harristobias-fiction.blogspot.com/


You can help keep the stories coming by making a donation to The Moonlit Road.com. Large or small, any amount helps!


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A Wish Too Far

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Mississippi folktale of a desperate fisherman who is granted a wish from a mysterious sea witch. And you know what they say about wishes. Written by Harris Tobias.

Once, on the Gulf coast of Mississippi, there was a poor fisherman who had five daughters. These daughters were very plain and could not find suitors so they lived at home with their mother and helped her keep the house and sell their father’s catch. They were a great help to the family but also a great burden. With so many mouths to feed, the old fisherman was at sea every waking hour trying to catch enough fish to keep his large family fed and clothed. Those few hours when he was home his old wife gave him no peace. “Whatever will we do for money. Without a big dowry no one will marry our daughters. You must work harder and catch more fish.” And on and on she drove him. It was only at sea that he could find any peace.

One day when the fishing was extremely poor, the old fisherman sailed his boat further from home than ever before. A dense fog fell and covered the coast and when it lifted the fisherman found himself in a strange cove where he’d never been before. He was about to cast his net when the tide changed and a great whirlpool grabbed hold of his boat and spun it around and around. Faster and faster the boat spun until it traveled down the funnel of the whirlpool like a bit of dirt down a bathtub’s drain. Eventually the boat came to rest on the bottom of the cove. The fisherman saw a small hut and an old woman hanging clothes on a line.

“Hello good wife,” called the fisherman, “what place is this and how come you here?”

“I am the witch of the cove,” the old woman said, “and this is my home. No mortal has ever been here before. If you keep my secret, I will grant you one wish.”

“I wish I could catch more fish,” said the fisherman without hesitation as he thought that having more money would silence his scolding wife.

“It is easily done,” said the witch. “When you throw your net you must say ‘Damma damma dammaree Fish of the sea come to me’ and you will have as many fish as your boat can hold. Now you best leave before the whirlpool closes.”

So the fisherman climbed back into his boat and rode the whirlpool’s funnel back to the surface. When he got into familiar waters, he tried out the witch’s chant. As he threw out his net he called “Damma damma dammaree fish of the sea come to me.” Sure enough he soon had as many fish as his boat could hold. He hurried home and told his wife of his great good fortune.

Fishing Boat

Day after day the same thing happened and every day the fisherman’s catch was as much as his boat could hold. Even though the family had more money than before, the old fish wife was still not happy. “You know,” she said, “if we could marry off our daughters without having to pay so many dowries, we could live very well you and I. Why don’t you go and ask your witch to work some magic to make our daughters comely so they could marry wealthy suitors?”

Day after day the old woman nagged the fisherman so that he again had no peace. Finally he could stand it no longer and set off along the coast in search of the secret cove. After many hours a thick fog enveloped the boat and obscured the shore. When the fog lifted, the fisherman again saw the secret cove and he waited for the tide to change and the again he rode the whirlpool around and around to the sandy bottom.

This time the old witch was sitting on her porch rocking and smoking her pipe. When she saw the fisherman she said, “What, you again? Aren’t you catching enough fish?”

“Oh yes. The fishing has never been better.”

“Then what brings you here?” The old crone fixed him with her black and twinkling eye. “What more do you need?”

“It’s my daughters. I have five daughters and while I love them dearly, they are homely creatures and cannot find husbands. Have you some magic that can make them beautiful?”

“It is easily done,” said the witch, “but you must not come here again lest you make me angry.”

“I promise not to bother you again,” said the old fisherman.

“When next you cast your net, you will find five blue fish amongst the catch. Take these fish home and tell your wife to cook them for your daughters. When the daughters eat of them they will become beautiful.”

The fisherman thanked the old witch over and over and as the whirlpool lifted him higher and higher he heard the old witch say, “Remember your promise.”

That night when the fisherman returned to his home he bade his wife to cook the five blue fish for the daughters who ate them. Then they all went to bed. When they woke up the next morning, the homely daughters had become the five most beautiful maidens in the South. It didn’t take very long before the girls had their choice of wealthy suitors. All of the girls chose plantation owners or planters sons and went to live in great mansions with servants and fine furnishings.

“There, are you happy now?” The fisherman asked his wife.

She just sighed a great sigh, “How can I be happy when we live in this tiny hovel that smells of fish? How are we to have our daughters and their wealthy families to dinner? And what of our grandchildren? Don’t you want to see your grandchildren?”

The old woman kept on in this manner day after day giving the fisherman no peace. “So what is it you want?” he asked his wife.

“I want you to see your witch and ask her for a fine stone house or enough gold to build one.”

“But I promised not to see her again lest bad things befall us,” the fisherman protested.

“Bah. What can she do? If she refuses to help, we are no worse off. And if she helps us, our lives will be much improved.” So insistent was she that she wore down the old man’s resistance and so he finally gave in to her demands and went once again to seek the secret cove. Once again he sailed up the coast and once again he was enveloped by the fog and once again his boat was whirled around and down to the bottom of the sea. This time the old lady was in her garden planting cockle shells. When she saw who it was her face darkened and she said, “You again. Didn’t I tell you never to return?”

“I’m so sorry,” said the fisherman, “It’s my wife. She won’t leave off nagging me to come to you with one last request.”

“And what do you want now?”

“We want a fine house so we can meet with our well married daughters as equals. We want a house of stone with many rooms. A fine house as befits a wealthy man.”

“It is easily done said the witch, “If it’s gold you want, it is gold thou shall have and a fine house to dwell in.” and with that she stooped down and picked up a stone and handed it to the fisherman. “Plant this stone where you wish your house to stand. Tell your wife to go into the cellars with a basket and find the gold that is there. Tell her she must go alone. This is your last wish. Thou hast broken thy word and I am sorely vexed. You shall find me no more.” And with this she turned her back upon the fisherman and went inside her hut. As the fisherman rose higher and higher on the whirlpool he heard the old witch call, “Remember, true happiness does not come from magic.”

Happy and relieved, the fisherman sailed home and told his wife what the old witch had said. Together they planted the stone in a hole in the backyard and went to bed. The next morning they could barely open their door as one wall of a great stone house was pressed against their hovel.

“Oh come and see,” exclaimed the wife, “see what a fine house we have.”

“And you are to take a basket and go into the cellar and retrieve the gold that lies therein.”

“Gladly,” cried the wife overflowing with joy and she found an old fish basket that her daughters once used to sell their catch in the town and hurried into the big house and down into the cellar. She climbed down and down winding stairs and through twisting hallways with many branchings until she lost her way entirely. She called to her husband and often her cries could be heard echoing through the great house but of the fishwife could not find her way out. And of the old woman and her gold nothing was ever seen again.

The fisherman and his neighbors went into the cellar looking for her and found only a single chamber empty save for an old basket. For many days the fish wife called, “Help me. I am lost. I have gold much gold but I would give it away for a single breath of air and the sight of a blue sky.”

The daughters and the rest of the town considered the great house cursed and no one would ever set foot inside its walls. The old fisherman spent the remainder of his days a sad and lonely man. The great stone house stands there still, you can see it to this day along the Mississippi shore just east of Biloxi.

-THE END-

Harris Tobias lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of The Greer Agency , A Felony of Birds and dozens of short stories. His fiction has appeared in Ray Gun Revival, Dunesteef Audio Magazine, Literal Translations, FriedFiction, Down In The Dirt, Eclectic Flash, E Fiction and many other publications. His poetry has appeared in Vox Poetica, The poem Factory and The Poetry Super Highway. You can find links to his novels at: http://harristobias-fiction.blogspot.com/


You can help keep the stories coming by making a donation to The Moonlit Road.com. Large or small, any amount helps!


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Toy Food

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Kids story about a starving family of toymakers who must turn to their creations to survive. Written by Harris Tobias

Once there was a toymaker who lived with his family in a cottage in the mountains outside of Paducah, Kentucky. Now this toymaker made beautiful toys and sold them in his shop. But business was not very good and so the toymaker was very poor and had a difficult time keeping his family fed. There was never enough food for his three children, the toymaker and his wife. But the children were not unhappy for, after all, they had the most beautiful toys to play with and they pretended that they were rich little boys and girls with the finest toys money could buy.

Toy Shop

One year the winter was especially cold and harsh, and as a result there was no business in the shop and, alas, no money with which to buy food.

“Oh dear! Oh dear!” cried the toymaker’s wife as she looked in the cupboard. “There is only enough food for one more meal. Whatever will become of us?”

“Don’t worry,” said the toymaker, “something good will happen.”

That evening the children ate the last bit of food, then retired to the toy shop to play and forget their hunger and the cold in a world of make believe. The old toymaker retired to his workshop and worked through the night.

The next morning, the children and their mother were roused from their beds by the most delicious food smells. Coming into the kitchen they found the table spread with piles of food.

“But where did all this come from?” asked the wife.

The toymaker smiled and said “Come and sit down and eat and I will tell you everything.”

There was no need to ask twice, indeed the three children already had their plates piled high with eggs and meats and vegetables. And there was much feasting and joy.

“Now tell us, where did this wonderful food come from?” laughed the old wife with her mouth full.

“Well,” said the toymaker, “last night as I was working in the workshop I got the idea of making toys that look like food so that at least we could pretend that we had something to eat. So with wood and paint I fashioned loaves of bread and bowls of potatoes and pitchers of milk. All of the food you see on the table this morning.”

“But this is not wood,” said the old woman picking up a crust of bread and popping it in her mouth. “This is real.”

“That’s true,” said the toymaker. “But that’s not all that happened. I must have gotten tired working all night for I dozed off and had the strangest dream. In my dream a young man appeared at my side. I was startled since I had not heard anyone enter the shop. The stranger said that he represented the ‘spirit of the toys’ and that he knew of our problems and was prepared to help us. He said that we had served the toys well and that they would take care of us and we would never be hungry again. Then he left the shop and I awoke to find my toy food hot and steaming on the table.”

“Why it is truly a miracle,” exclaimed the old woman. “We’ll never be hungry again!”

Some weeks later, when the storm passed and the icy winter began to thaw, a customer was surprised to find two large dolls and three small dolls all in the likeness of the old toymaker and his family seated around the table. The table was set with many brightly painted dishes of toy food. All of the dolls had contented smiles on their faces but of the living toymaker and his family no trace could be found.

The Spirit of the Toys had kept his promise.

-THE END-

Harris Tobias lives and writes in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is the author of The Greer Agency , A Felony of Birds and dozens of short stories. His fiction has appeared in Ray Gun Revival, Dunesteef Audio Magazine, Literal Translations, FriedFiction, Down In The Dirt, Eclectic Flash, E Fiction and many other publications. His poetry has appeared in Vox Poetica, The poem Factory and The Poetry Super Highway. You can find links to his novels at: http://harristobias-fiction.blogspot.com/


You can help keep the stories coming by making a donation to The Moonlit Road.com. Large or small, any amount helps!


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