Z is for Zebra

z is for zebra

© James Pyles

Daniel put the yo-yo back in his pocket as he reached the fenced pasture. The only horse he knew by name was Champion. The ten year old pulled up some grass from his side of the fence and coaxed the horse over. Of course the three others started moving toward him as well.

“Just came to say good-bye, old boy.” He patted the horse on the nose. “I mean, now that you’re just a horse again and everything.”

Suddenly, Champion and the other horses started acting spooked and moved away from him.

“What the…”

“It’s probably me, Daniel.”

The child looked left toward the voice and there stood a zebra.

“I should have known something like this would have to happen right before I leave.”

“Allow me to introduce myself. I am Hasanati. You, of course, are very well known.”

The horses didn’t know what to do with the newcomer, so they kept their distance and then eventually just ignored the zebra.

“Pleased to meet you.”

“Likewise, Daniel. I’m sure you are wondering why I’m here.”

“I assume you have news for me.”

“Quite so. First of all, Queen Areille sends her greetings and thanks, along with felicitations for your outstanding performance in freeing the realm.”

“Then it worked. She rules again.”

“Yes indeed, Daniel. The benevolent reign of Queen Areille has been re-established as our legends foretold.”

The boy wished he could have stayed to witness the glorious end of tyranny and the return of justice and kindness to the realm. However, when he remembered what he had to do, playing the right notes on the xylophone, it resulted in a number of events, including taking him back home, back to the farm. Since then, his special sight hadn’t revealed anything about what happened to all of his friends.

“You will be especially pleased to learn the Olivia the Wise is recovering from her battle with the now deceased Gerald, and is expected to return to her duties as the Queen’s advisor within a week. She sends her personal greetings and…”

“She’s alive? She’s alive! I thought she was dead.” For once, Daniel looked just like any other boy his age, jumping up and down for joy.

“Why, yes. It was a near thing, of course, but when she was wounded and fell into the great woods, the roc presumed she was dead and left her. Most likely he was anxious to locate you, though the sheep hid you well.”

“What about William, Bernard, Miss Bianca, all of the kangaroos and mice?”

“Ah yes. A shame you didn’t meet the mighty Pumba and his legions of razorbacks.”

“Pigs?”

“Very brave and ferocious pigs. They served as army and mounts for the mice, which first defeated the Lion, actually now a pink kitten of your acquaintance, and then, in league with many birds of prey led by Aquilo the Eagle King, they successfully assaulted the Queen’s Keep, dispatched a good many rabbits, and freed Her Highness. I’m told a select group of mice and razorbacks are now appointed as the Queen’s personal guard.”

“She still needs guards then? I thought that everything…”

“Our world is no more perfect than yours is. That the Queen is once again on her throne does not mean she still doesn’t have enemies. True, the roc is no more, but many of his allies have gone into hiding. Also, there are many lurking in your world as well.”

“That’s my next mission then.”

“Yes, by order of the Queen, but of course, you would have taken on the duty in any case. You have allies here in your world as well as enemies.”

“And now I know how to tell the difference between them.”

“An agent will make contact with you shortly and will act as your liaison. Inform the agent of the location of any of the enemy you spy and arrangements will be made to return them to our world for punishment.”

“So it’s not over. It’s just beginning.”

“Yes, Daniel. The battle for the soul of your world and mine continues, only now you are well equipped to participate. We welcome you to our ranks and I personally am honored to be counted as your ally.”

They were interrupted by the approach of a barking, four-legged ally.

“Towser!”

The dog jumped at Daniel and a flurry of affectionate licking and petting ensued.

“I should be going now, Daniel.”

“Sit, Towser.”

The dog obeyed and patiently waited at the boy’s side. “I know you have to go. Please tell everyone that I’m proud to have played a part in the revolution and I’ll do whatever I can to keep helping.”

“I shall, Daniel. Now I must be off.”

The zebra turned away and started running, seemed to turn a corner that wasn’t really there, and then vanished.

“C’mon, Towser. Let’s go say good-bye to Fearful, her kittens, and the rest of the animals.” The boy ran back in the direction of the barn yard and Towser gleefully ran circles around him. Daniel Harris spent a last few precious moments as an ordinary ten-year-old boy playing with a dog on a farm.

But soon, he would assume his new role as seer and guardian in a covert war of which the rest of humanity was totally oblivious. Only the child and his otherworldly allies could save them all from slavery and destruction.

So this is the end of my A to Z juvenile mystery writing challenge. I hope everyone who followed Daniel’s adventures enjoyed them. I’ve left the story for an obvious sequel or two. We still don’t know the complete effect of bringing freedom to the realm or what its inhabitants are actually like (since they’re not really talking animals). For that matter, now that things have changed for Daniel, we don’t know what he sees that tells him the difference between otherworldly friends and foes. What to these enemies hope to accomplish in attempting to take over our world? How will it affect theirs?

If you’d like to see Daniel’s journey continue, let me know.

The previous story is Y is for Yo-Yo.

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12 thoughts on “Z is for Zebra

  1. Well, I, for one, would be happy to read subsequent episodes. You did manage to wrap up tolerably well, without extending into a post-alphabetical epilogue (except for your final italicized comments). This format did tend to keep each episode to a length befitting a modern child’s short attention span. CS Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles (written for an earlier generation not spoiled by fast-paced immediate media) often need to be read in chapter installments, though his larger overall framework allowed him to develop his material with more substance and backstory — allowing greater appreciation by the adults who must convey the story to a child target audience. If your “Daniel’s alphabet” were to be sequelled (it would be difficult to prequel a ten-year-old), you might have more opportunity to do similarly.

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  2. Quite true, PL. I’m pleased you are comparing my small efforts to Lewis’s Narnia tales. When my son David was young, he suffered from a number of learning disabilities including having problems with reading. We read through all of the Narnia Chronicles, him sometimes reading only a paragraph or sentence on a page and me reading the rest on that page. It’s still one of his fondest memories of us being together.

    There is a temptation to continue Daniel’s story, but I’ve got so many other series that have been sitting on the back burner. I’ll have to see where inspiration leads me next.

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  3. I really enjoyed reading your A to Z stories, you have encouraged me to reconsider my unpublished novel, whether it would benefit from being told in instalments. My novel involves animals, human beings and a veneer of magic , it is set on earth, but the reader must decide when.

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    • Michael, you should definitely consider offering your story in installments. Some of the greatest and most popular books in our culture were first presented to the public in installments. People enjoy that format and the expectancy it creates. And the reading public is usually quick to get on board with lesser-known authors through that avenue more than through whole novels in the beginning. For what it’s worth — since you don’t know me — I’ll say it sounds like a good plan to me.

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  4. Whew! Well, we’re victorious for a while at least. Thanks for a very enjoyable story. Now, let’s get back to the computer who’s getting to know about God. What’s happening with him? There’s more to his story as well, right?

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    • Oh, you mean the synthezoid George. I haven’t contributed anything to that novel in a long time now. I probably should revisit it, although now that time has passed, I’ll have to rework a lot of the material.

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