There was nothing but darkness, and then there was light.
Daniel woke up with a headache surprised to be alive. The last thing he remembered was Gerald the Rooster expanding to fantastic proportions, growing to become a prehistoric nightmare, and engulfing the ten year old in its ebony wings.
Then he was here, wherever “here” was.
It sort of looked like the farm, but not really. There were structures in the right places, the farmhouse, the chicken coop, the barn, but they all had an air of unreality to them, as if they were just “bookmarks” for other objects.
Then, a shriek like that of an enormous bird of prey came from above and to the right of the child. He looked up in horror. It was the same creature that Gerald had become in the barn yard, but it was here now, airborne and soaring in for the kill.
Daniel was knocked to the ground before he had a chance to respond to the voice. The talons of the predator missed him by a mere inch.
“He’s swinging around, mate. Stay behind me.”
Daniel was still dazed and disoriented, but he had the impression he was on his hands and knees behind a very large kangaroo.
“Not this time, Gerald, ya damned unnatural beastie!”
“What can a kangaroo do against…against that?”
The answer was forthcoming when the marsupial leaped to an incredible height and struck the oncoming raptor on the side of its head and base of its right-wing with two powerful hind legs.
The mighty bird fluttered, screamed, and vainly tried to rip the flesh off of the kangaroo’s bones with talon and beak. The creature was dazed long enough for the kangaroo to disengage from the battle and return to Daniel.
“Into the pouch, cobber. Time for escape.
Without waiting for the boy’s response, he was rudely plucked off the ground by the kangaroo’s forearms and deposited in the aforementioned pouch.
The trip was completely uncomfortable, both because of the relentless bouncing and because of the sheer terror Daniel had experienced ever since arriving at wherever he’d arrived.
He could hear the cries of the bird recede into the distance and when the bouncing stopped, the child was dumped onto unceremoniously onto the ground.
“Sorry for the rough treatment. Couldn’t be helped if we were going to get away from that bloody Roc.”
“Roc?” Daniel recalled the name from mythology.
He looked around. He was inside something that could have been the barn, but that kept shifting into the interior of a cave, the living room of his aunt’s and uncle’s house, and even an enormous version of the henhouse.
“Where am I, and don’t tell me on a farm in Idaho?”
“Not even, mate. Oh, by the way, the name’s William. Put ‘er there, Danny.”
William the Kangaroo extended his right paw complete with opposable thumb. Dumbly, Daniel put out his right hand and made the kangaroo’s acquaintance.
“We’ll be safe here for the moment, but I’m sorry to say that isn’t the last bit of adventure you’ll encounter. In fact, we’re all counting on you to pull the proverbial rabbit out of your hat and put things to right.”
“Sorry. I know you’re confused. Let’s just say that things aren’t as they appear.”
Daniel recalled the frog saying that.
“We’re all real, the frog, Jackson’s his name by the way, Henrietta, Champion, Gerald, and myself of course. We’re just not animals, and this isn’t a farm or the countryside around it that you once knew.”
“Then where am I?”
“You’re where your visions have looked into, Danny m’boy. You’ve gotten older and more powerful. You can see more than the occasional invader into your world. You can actually see into our world. In fact, you’ve crossed over into it now.”
“Your world? Invaders? You’re one of them, an anomaly?”
“There are more things in heaven and earth, m’lad.”
The kangaroo smiled as it uttered a line Daniel recognized from Hamlet.
“I’m afraid there’s no choice. You’re going to have to face him, the King. There’s no way around it.”
“He’s coming. I can hear him.”
The low throated growl they heard from just outside their shelter made Daniel shudder.
This concept is loosely based on Iain Kelly’s recent A to Z Challenge 2017 story series. Every day, Iain crafted another puzzle piece to his murder mystery that had me and his other readers spellbound. I doubt I can create the suspense he conjured up, but when my wife got a giant A to Z jigsaw puzzle for our two-year-old granddaughter, I thought I’d give it a whirl.
I don’t have a lot of time, so I think each “letter” will be shorter and I’m not sure I can write one every day, but I’ll do my best.
The previous story is J is for Juice.
The next story in the series is L is for Lion.
Let me know what you think.
I managed to get a little time to myself to craft the next chapter in my A to Z challenge. Hope you like it.