“What in the name of a bunch of deleted, censored, and just plain bad words happened to me?”
The scream came out of Landon’s room, but the nine-year-old was at school at the moment, so the only ones to hear him were the boy’s nearly three-year-old sister Dani, his Grandpa, and of course, Buddy the Ambrosial Dragon.
Well, that’s not quite true. Baby the Stuffed Giraffe and all the other living stuffed animals had been taking a mid-morning doze when they were startled awake by the caterwauling.
Dani had been riding her little, plastic car up and down the hallway, and was right next to Landon’s bedroom door when she heard the yelling. Fumbling with the doorknob, she managed to get it turned, and pushed the door in. Then, seeing the source of the commotion, she jumped up and down with delight and giggled. “Bunny rabbit!”
“Bunny rabbit, my bow tie! I’ve been turned into some kind of plush toy, and for heaven’s sake, where the blue buttons am I?”
Grandpa and Buddy poked their heads inside. Ever since the dragon explained about the rainbow rabbit to Grandpa, they had both been expecting something like this.
“Take it easy, Alfred. That’s your name, right?”
“How do you know and who are you?” Then he saw Buddy. “Hey, I remember you. I was about to lose my third and last life when you did something. Are you responsible for this?” The bunny in the bow tie gestured at his stuffed, furry body.
“Yep, yep, yep.”
Grandpa picked up Dani so she wouldn’t try to “play” with Alfred while Buddy tried to explain.
“Third life gone and so were you. Got you into rainbow in time, but magic played a trick. Not bunny in this world, but stuffed bunny like them.” The dragon nodded toward the rest of the stuffed animals who were waiting anxiously on the blankets near the bottom of the mattress to see if they were going to get a new friend.
“So send me back. You got to my world so you must know how.”
“Yes, Buddy has know how, but bunny’s life only works here because the rainbow was here.”
“What? I can’t go home?”
“This home, this home from now on for bunny.”
“But I mean, like…this?”
“They don’t mind.” Buddy again drew the rabbit’s attention to the stuffed animals.
“Excuse me. My name is Baby.”
“You’re kidding, right?”
“I’d like to welcome you to Landon’s room. It’s really a great place to live, and we all have fun together. Do you like to play Uno? How about Star Fluxx?”
“We watch Jonny Quest! We watch Jonny Quest!” Dani cried out to the rabbit about one of her favorite things.
“Maybe later, Dani.” Grandpa cuddled with the little girl, but she wanted to get back to the floor to pick up the rabbit.
“Oh yes, classic cartoons as well.” Baby wasn’t a big fan of Jonny Quest, but he occasionally watched an episode or two when it was on in the evenings.
“So let me get this straight, dragon. I have to stay in the human world to keep my life, and while in the human world, I’m a stuffed animal.”
“Living stuffed animal. Yep, yep, yep.”
“Terrific.” The rabbit didn’t sound like he was doing terrific. In fact he sounded pretty grumpy.
“Wait. You, old man. What did you call me?”
“Your name. Buddy said it was Alfred.”
“I’ve been trying to keep that little morsel of information secret for a long time. There’s a lot of magic that can be used against you if the magician knows your name.”
“I know lots, especially learn stuff when returning croaked bunny to life, Al.”
“If you’ve got to call me by name, it’s Alfred, not Al.”
“Like in Batman?”
“Keep it up old man, and you’re liable to get a bunny batarang right in the…”
“Language, bunny. Baby present.”
“Who cares about the giraffe?”
At that, poor Baby hung his head sadly, and the others circled around him, trying to cheer him up.
“Buddy meant my granddaughter.”
“No hurt stuffed animals’ feelings. Make friends, get to know each other.”
Alfred looked from Buddy to the stuffed animals and saw Baby looking dejected. “Hey, no hard feelings. I didn’t mean it. I’m just kind of in shock and all.” The bunny hopped forward and extended his paw. “Put ‘er there, Pal.”
Baby wiped lint tears from his eyes and shook with Alfred. “Okay. Besides, you’re not the only one in the same situation.”
“What do you mean?”
Baby looked briefly at Buddy who nodded his head.
“Well, it seems a friend of yours is here and is also stuffed.”
“A friend, but I…oh no. Merlyn? He has the worst luck. Where is he, anyway?” Alfred started looking around the room for the small, golden dragon.
“I think he’s over at Ana’s house. Seems he took a liking to her, which is how this whole adventure began.”
“Yeah, I wish it would have begun and ended with him. Ana, you say? She’s not a bad kid. How come I’m here instead of there, Geezer?”
“One new toy in her room probably will go unnoticed by her family, but two might have looked suspicious.”
“Wait. You’re Landon’s family and you know about me, but Ana’s folks don’t know?”
“Nope, nope, nope, and we keep it that way.”
The rabbit rubbed his paws together rapidly and chuckled. “Well, I bet we could have a little fun playing tricks on them.”
“Nope!” In a flash, Buddy was nose-to-nose with Alfred. “No tricks, got it?” The dragon blew just a tiny bit of hot smoke in the bunny’s face to clue him in on how serious he was.
“Cough, cough. Okay. Don’t get huffy and puffy. I’ll be a good little bunny. I guess I owe you for saving my…” Alfred paused until he could look at his bow tie. “…all three of my lives. Yeah. Thanks. I mean I wish I were still my usual, handsome bunny self, but I guess this isn’t so bad.”
Then he looked back at the stuffed animals. “What did you say there was to do around here again?”
It didn’t take long for Alfred to get used to the routine around Landon’s house, which included reacquainting himself with the boy and meeting his Dad. But he was interested in seeing Merlyn again, just to check out how he looked as a stuffed toy.
“We’ll be getting together at her place this Sunday. I can take you over in my backpack and you can hangout with him while Buddy secretly teaches magic to Ana.”
“Sure. Why not?”
Alfred had been on his own for a long time, and he wasn’t used to having to wait for anything or anybody. He knew Landon and Ana went to the same school and were in the same class, and that gave him an idea. Tomorrow would be Thursday. No point in waiting four more days to see Merlyn.
The bunny found in his stuffed form, he could squeeze himself really tight down to the size of a golf ball, and he didn’t weigh very much. So the following morning, he slipped into the boy’s school backpack and hid in the bottom.
Unfortunately, he fell asleep and didn’t wake up until just before first recess. Actually, when he thought about it, falling asleep was probably a good thing, since he didn’t have to be bored listening to Landon’s teacher.
When recess was called and everyone left, Alfred expanded to his usual size and managed to unzip the backpack from the inside. Once out of the pack and on the floor, he found Ana’s name on a nearby cubbie. Figuring the backpack inside was hers, he opened it, crawled in, and then closed it behind him. After that, he made himself small again and took another nap. Nothing to do until Ana went back home.
“Has anybody seen Alfred?” Grandpa had been looking all over the house, but couldn’t recall seeing the rabbit at all that morning.
“Nope, nope…” Buddy paused. “Uh oh.”
“Uh oh what?”
Dani was coloring at the kitchen table, so it was just Grandpa and Buddy talking in the living room.
“Uh oh, rabbit not here.”
“Uh oh.” Grandpa had the same idea the dragon did. “He was in Landon’s backpack.”
“How do we get him back?”
“No want to use magic. Might be detected. Can’t blow Landon’s and Ana’s cover at school.”
“Do you think Alfred was just curious about school?”
“Maybe, Gramps. Hope so.”
“What else could he have in mind? There’s nowhere else to go besides our house, and he doesn’t know anyone in this universe…”
“…except Ana and Merlyn.” The dragon jumped off of the sofa. “Ana brother in school too. Ana’s Dad at work, Mom not home now.”
“What are you going to do?”
Grandpa had to stay at home, He needed to fix Dani’s lunch and then put here down for her nap. It was all up to Buddy to figure out a way to retrieve their wandering rabbit.
Once home after school, Ana plopped her backpack in her room, and then went back to the kitchen to have a snack with her brother. When the coast was clear, her backpack began to stir and then the zipper slid open. A magenta colored nose peeked out.
“Merlyn?” Alfred was whispering, not knowing that none of Ana’s other stuffed animals were alive.
“Alfred?” The voice came from under the blankets of the bed near the pillow.
The bunny bounced out of the backpack and onto the covers. “It’s me.”
The now fluffy little dragon hopped onto the top of the blankets, and they both regarded each other for a moment.
“You don’t look so bad.” The rabbit put his paws on his hips.
“I guess I could get used to your new look, too.” Tiny puffs of smoke that looked like small cotton balls floated from Merlyn’s mouth. Neither one of them noticed a watching pair of eyes staring down at them from the top of Ana’s bookshelf.
Suddenly, her door came open. “I just want to borrow your dragon for a…” It was Ana’s brother. Buddy returned to full invisibility but Alfred and Merlyn were standing in plain view and too shocked to pretend to be just toys.
“Wow! Ana, come here! Hurry! You’ve got to see this!”
Buddy froze the little boy in time but in that instant, the rabbit came up with his own plan. Jumping on the dragon’s back, he yelled, “Make a break for it,” and they soared over the motionless child’s head and out of the room.
Buddy tried to freeze the both of them, but nothing happened. They glided into the living room and almost collided with Ana.
“What do you two think you’re doing?” They ignored her and headed for the open patio door. Ana’s Dad was still at work, but her Mom was doing some backyard gardening. They would have to fly right in front of her if that’s how they planned to escape.
Ana started turning toward the door when she saw Buddy flying into the living room. “You’re not supposed to be here.”
A second later, as the Ambrosial Dragon passed her on the way to the kitchen, her little brother ran in. “Did you see that? Did you see that?”
The next instant, Ana heard her Mom screaming outside. “A rabbit’s riding a dragon!”
How could Buddy let this happen? Both her Mom and brother had seen Merlyn and Alfred, and even Buddy. As the Ambrosial Dragon shot out into the backyard to witness Ana’s astonished Mom gazing at what she thought was impossible, he was realized that all the magic on Earth had suddenly gone wrong.
This story happens shortly after Ana Gets a New Friend and begins to chronicle the misadventures of the two newest members of the living stuffed animals, with Alfred the Rabbit living with Landon, and Merlyn the Dragon residing with his friend Ana.
Normally, Buddy’s magic is powerful and subtle enough to keep all of these creatures from being seen by ordinary people, and especially Ana’s family since they have no idea about her becoming a student of magic, but something strange has happened, and it looks like these big secrets are about to come out into the open.
But what happened to the magic on Earth, and will Buddy be able to fix everything this time?
Welcome to the latest entry in the series of adventures I’ve been writing for my grandson for the better part of two years now. To read the series from the beginning, go to The Day a Dragon Came to Live with Us. At the bottom of that story is a link to the next. Each subsequent story has a link to the next chapter, so all you have to do is keep reading and clicking and you’ll eventually get back here.
The next chapter is The Battle for the Holy Grail Moose Milk.