P is for Pig

p is for pig

© James Pyles

Dingos don’t consider themselves afraid of anything, but when dawn’s early light revealed an army of razorback pigs, each with a warrior mouse upon its back, charging at them, they yelped and ran.

At the lead was William the Kangaroo. “Pumba, send a detachment after them. Slay them to the last. The rest, stand guard.”

The head razorback, a jolly fellow in spite of his fierce reputation, gave the order.

“Can I get off now?” An extremely shaky Bernard, clad in leather armor and wielding a mouse-sized spear, quietly addressed his mount.

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O is for Owl

o is for owl

© James Pyles

The flutter of massive wings from behind Daniel terrified him as he continued to stare at the three large eggs in the nest with him, each one as large as he was. Finally the creature behind him was still, and a prim, perfect woman’s voice said, “I hear you’ve been looking for me.”

The ten year old turned around to see a very big owl sitting on a branch just next to the nest.

“I’m Olivia. I’m sorry I was late, but I had a great deal to do to prepare for your return.”

“My what? I’ve never been here before.”

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N is for Net

n is for net

© James Pyles

“Oh Bernard, I have a terrible feeling about Androcles. He should have gotten here days ago.”

“Now, now, Miss Bianca, I’m sure he’s fine. He probably just got tied up with something.”

At the edge of the monsoonal eucalyptus woodlands, Daniel watched the two mice, who seemed all too human, talking about their missing companion, the one who was supposed to stand guard to make sure the King didn’t escape their trap. They also seemed the two most compassionate mice among the group. Mickey showed no interest in what happened to Androcles whatsoever, spending most of his time with Minnie trying on each other’s clothes. The rest of the mice seemed just as distracted and frivolous.

“William.” Daniel called to his kangaroo companion.

“I’ll be right over, Daniel.” The kangaroo was talking to his sister Esmeralda. Something about not putting her son in danger again. She seemed really insistent.

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M is for Mouse

m is for mouse

© James Pyles

“Hurry up, Androcles! We’re starving over here.”

“I’m coming, I’m coming. I’ve been hauling cheese over here for hours.”

The crew of mice who had taken the Lion unawares had been laboring all day. Of course, they had to wait for a number of days after its paw was impaled by the thorn-bush for the predator to pass out from exhaustion and lack of food and water.

Then they set to work.

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L is for Lion

l is for lion

© James Pyles

The King.

Of course, it was a lion. It wasn’t cowardly. It was angry.

He seemed larger than a typical male lion, but everything seemed unrealistically larger here. His mane was the color of burnt wood and his fur was a rich golden hue. The King’s eyes were glowing green, the shade used in many comic books and cartoons to indicate radioactivity. Here, in this unreal world, it seemed a dangerous reality.

“You’ve caused us some trouble, young Daniel.”

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K is for Kangaroo

k is for kangaroo

© James Pyles

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.

“The farm?”

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.

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J is for Juice

j is for juice

© James Pyles

Daniel was in the henhouse gathering eggs, but he also wanted an opportunity to check in on Henrietta. Gerald the Rooster was elsewhere in the barn yard, so there was time for this clandestine meeting.

While the other hens appeared as they always did, the ten year old was shocked to find the talking hen missing feathers and with her left eye swollen. What had happened to her?

“Henrietta. Are you okay?”

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I is for Ice

i is for ice

© James Pyles

Ten year old Daniel let the screen door slam behind him as he walked into the kitchen. Uncle Ethan was working with the new horses this morning and Aunt Abby had gone into town. He grabbed a glass from the cupboard and filled it with ice cubes from the freezer.

Ethan and Abby still had a freezer old enough to need ice-cube trays. The child momentarily considered this a charming anachronism in the 21st century.

He filled the glass with water and swallowed it down, attempting to quench not only the heat of an Idaho summer morning, but the growing sense of surrealism he was experiencing, particularly at the latest disturbance, a talking hen.

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H is for Hen

h is for hen

© James Pyles

Another morning, another visit to the henhouse for Daniel. Most of these eggs would be sold at the market, which added a modest amount to his aunt’s and uncle’s income. His experiences yesterday taught him to get in, collect the eggs, and get out.

Since his encounter with the frog, nothing amiss had happened to the boy. He and Towser had walked over to Ben Swigert’s farm, found his uncle and old Ben, and watched them struggle with and cuss at the thirty year old tractor until almost sunset.

Finally, replacing several hoses and a fuel pump later, the machine roared back to life.

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G is for Grape

g is for grape

© James Pyles

After leaving the pond, Daniel didn’t go back to the farmhouse right away. He spent a lot of time wandering around, looking at everything which, since his encounter with the frog, seemed perfectly ordinary.

He played “fetch” with Towser until the boy got bored (the dog never got bored with “fetch”), he found Fearful Symmetry and two of her three kittens (the pink one was still missing) near the barn and petted them for a while. He even peeked into the henhouse only to find it was still an ordinary henhouse with ordinary hens.

Finally, he slipped back into the backdoor of the house and into the kitchen.

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