Category Archives: Fiction Friday

Fox Through the Forest – Chapter 9

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Chapters 1-8

Chapter 9

Malcolm indeed had places to go.  But he didn’t get very far after.  He had been running for less than five minutes when he suddenly stopped.  The momentum  he’d felt after making his choice to leave Evergale Falls and his new friends behind completely clouded over the fact that he didn’t know where exactly he was going.

Malcolm knew he’d made the right decision to leave because in that instant when he realized he would have to stop to figure out a few things first, he felt disappointed he would be delayed in getting wherever it was he had to go.  But as Malcolm was quickly learning, some planning could be helpful on journeys to find wise, old owls and seeking unknown waterfalls and mountains.

Finding a nice tree to settle up against, Malcolm took stock of his situation.  Okay, he thought to himself, here’s what I know.  Nana has been known to live in an Elder tree on the western edge of the forest.  But, Milo heard she moved on to Whimzafir Mountain at the northern edge of the forest. 

As Malcolm stated the facts of his situation, he realized it wasn’t so bad at all.  There were a hundred billion places Nana Owl could be, yet he knew for certain about two of them.  Two out of a hundred billion seemed perfectly manageable…now which one should he choose?

Malcolm closed his eyes for a moment.  He thought of the mountain and waterfall from his dream.  Well, he already found a waterfall, so why not try for the mountain next?  Even if it wasn’t exactly the mountain of his dreams, the awe and beauty of Evergale Falls would stay with him for the rest of his life.  Maybe it would be even more beautiful?

With these thoughts, Malcolm hopped up and headed northward.  Although Malcolm trotted on a straight path, his mind kept wandering off.  He imagined meeting Nana Owl and what he’d say.  He also thought of what Whimzafir Moutnain would look like.  He pictured slate blue rocks jutting up from mossy green walkways.  Bright purple and pink flowers peeking out from cracks and crevices.  A brisk, cool wind snapping through the trees.

Malcolm inhaled as if he could smell the wonderful things he was imagining.  But the scent he picked up was not one of a majestic mountain.  No, it was one he was already familiar with.  Malcolm had become so lost in thought that he didn’t even notice anyone following behind him.  He turned around with wide eyes.

“Hello, there,” came the familiar voice.  “Mind if I come with you?”

To be continued….

Fox Through the Forest – Chapter 7

fox-through-the-forest

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Malcolm’s excitement turned to dismay as he took in Milo’s pronouncement about Nana Owl.  “What do you mean she’s not there anymore?  Where did she go?”

“From what I heard, Nana Owl moved to Whimzafir Mountain at the northern edge of the forest.  She’s living in pine tree so high the clouds keep her company.”

Malcolm opened his mouth to say something, then closed it again.  He sighed, disappointment washing over him the way Ozzie still dripped with water from Evergale Falls.

“Are you sure about that Milo,” said Ozzie.  “I heard nothing about Nana Owl moving.  Thought she was still in that Elder tree up yonder.”

“Not one hundred percent.  But I heard it from a blue jay who heard it from a robin.”

“What am I supposed to do?” Malcolm asked, finally finding his voice.  “I need Nana Owl to help me find what I’m looking for.”

“And what’s that?” Arthur asked.

“I had a dream,” said Malcolm.  “There was a mountain and a waterfall and plenty of flowers.  I’ve never seen anyplace more beautiful,” he finished with a sigh as he gazed into Evergale Falls.  Well, until now, he amended to himself and for the briefest of moments he didn’t feel quite so sad about the prospect of Nana Owl being so far away.

As if reading his mind, Ozzie echoed his sentiments.  “Except for Evergale Falls, you mean,” he said with a twinkle in his eyes.

Malcolm’s heart skipped a beat.  “Wh-what makes you say that?” Malcolm had already thought this place had magic.  Did the animals have magic powers here?  Could Ozzie read his mind?

“Look around,”  said Ozzie as a tiny paw swept over the air around them.  “I don’t have to go everywhere to know Evergale Falls is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.”

“Plus, we have berries,” laughed Arthur.  Milo and Ozzie joined in, but Malcolm was still too perplexed to find anything funny about this situation.  Should he continue west or head to the north?  What if Nana Owl moved on before he got there?  What if he never found his mountain and waterfall?

“Oh, cheer up, my new foxy friend,” said Milo looking at Malcolm’s grim face.  “You’re here now.  You might as well enjoy yourself.”

“Yeah,” said Ozzie.  “Come on.  We’ll introduce you to the other animals, get you some berries to eat, and then you can splash around in the water for a little bit.  It’ll take your mind off things for a while.”

“If you say so,” said Malcolm, even though he wasn’t quite sure that would happen.  But half an hour later, it had happened.  Malcolm was having so much fun with his new friends that he almost forgot about the conundrum facing him with finding Nana Owl.  Then a thought occurred to him that took him completely by surprise.

What if…No.  He didn’t want to think it.  But there it was.  The thought had come to him and he couldn’t not think it, so he might as well consider the option.  Evergale Falls really was the most beautiful place he had ever seen and the waterfall certainly rivaled the beauty of the one in his dream.  He also had berries to eat, new friends, and he knew at the end of the night they would have a place for him to sleep.  What if he gave up his quest to find Nana Owl and his mountain? What if he stayed here?

To be continued…

Fox Through the Forest – Chapter 6

fox-through-the-forest

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

It was Malcolm’s waterfall!  No, not exactly like his dream for there was no mountain and it wasn’t quite as high.  But the beauty was the same, as was the colorful spread of flowers, their vibrancy muted from the darkness.  There seemed something enchanted about the waterfall, too, the way tiny tree limbs jutted out from rocks, their green leaves dancing in the moonlight.  Malcolm wondered if a spell had been cast over the waterfall eons ago the way everything shimmered in the night and what he was seeing was just a tiny hint of the magic still there.

“Malcolm!” called Ozzie, stuffing a strawberry into his mouth.  “What a pleasant surprise.  I thought you were sleeping,” and he waved a juicy-red paw in Malcolm’s direction.

Malcolm wondered for a moment if he was still asleep; surely this place could not be real.  He felt awed by its magic and it left him dazed, feeling more convinced than ever that there was some spell cast over this place.  The only hint it was real was he could almost feel the rush of water against his fur.  He took a tentative step forward, then another.  He was not going to speak until he knew whether this was real or not.

Ozzie beat him to it.  In one swift movement, the skunk scurried past Malcolm, took a flying leap, and shouted “CANNONBALL!”

Cool water splashed Malcolm all over.  The shock of it startled him, but it was enough for him to be certain this was no dream.  He shook out his fur as Ozzie bellowed in delight.

“You didn’t tell me berry night involved swimming,” said Malcom with a smile.

“You didn’t ask,” said Ozzie as he started doing the backstroke away from Malcolm.

“Where are we?”  Malcolm looked around, still feeling somewhat dazed by his surroundings.

“Evergale falls. Home to many animals, including myself, my family, and my friends.”  Ozzie stopped swimming and gestured at some of the other animals who were milling around the waterfall, eating berries and chattering away.  He then whistled and waved his hand. “Milo!  Arthur!  Come over here.  There’s someone I want you to meet.”

A porcupine and a beaver broke apart from the group.  They made their way over to Malcolm and Ozzie, who was now dripping wet, having exited the water.  “Guys,” said Ozzie, “I’d like you to meet Malcom.  He’s new to this part of the forest.”

“Hi Malcolm,” they said in unison.

Malcolm smiled in return.  “It’s nice to meet you.”

“What brings you here?” asked Arthur.

Ozzie chuckled.  “That’s old news –I already asked him that.  He said he’s on his way to see Nana Owl.”  Malcolm nodded his head in agreement.

“Oh, I met her once,” said Milo with enthusiasm.  “Now there’s a bird who really knows her stuff.”

“I knew it!” said Malcolm jumping up in the air, but Milo wasn’t done speaking.  He continued on with, “But I don’t think she’s on the western edge of the forest anymore.  My dear, new fox friend, I think you may be going the wrong way.”

To be continued….

Fox Through the Forest – Chapter 5

fox-through-the-forest

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Malcolm scampered off into the darkness, heading towards the laughter.  Normally, he would be cautious of running in the dark.  But the excitement of berry night and adventure flew with Malcolm as he leapt over logs and brush.  It was the same excitement he felt as the start of his journey for Nana Owl and the mountain and waterfall of his dreams.

As the laughter grew louder, Malcolm slowed down.  He didn’t know the etiquette for berry night and the last thing he wanted to do was intrude on someone else’s good time.  Still, Ozzie had invited him.  That should count for something.

The trees were beginning to thin as Malcolm made his way closer.  Moonlight now danced off the forest floor and overhead Malcolm could see stars twinkling in a deep blue sky.  He hadn’t realized in his haste to find Ozzie he was nearing the southern edge of the forest.

For a moment, Malcolm hesitated.  He had never been to this part of the forest before.  What would happen when he broke through the final line of trees?  What would he see?  Would he be safe?

The freedom and excitement of his nighttime run slowly waned as he realized the uncertainty of the unknown.  Yet, he was a fox of uncertainty, wasn’t he?  Hadn’t he proven that to himself when he started on this journey in the first place?  What would be the purpose now in being afraid?  Just because it was dark and he had never been here before?

Malcolm laughed at himself.  Had it been the daytime, these thoughts probably wouldn’t have even occurred to him.  It’s the same forest it’s always been, thought Malcolm.  The dark doesn’t change that.  Still, it might be prudent to get a better sense of the area.  Malcolm opened his senses to the world around him.

He heard new sounds, intermingled with the laughter from what he assumed was berry night.  There had to be more than just Ozzie there.  He could hear water running over stones, which reminded him of home.  But there was also a more forceful sound to the water.  A rushing, almost, as if the water was in a hurry to get somewhere.

A breeze ruffled Malcolm’s fur and he scented the air.  Yes, he could smell water, cool and crisp.  There was also the distinct musk of a skunk, though Malcolm could not tell for certain if it was Ozzie or not.  With another whiff, Malcolm confirmed there was not one skunk, but several.  Just as he was about to turn his nose back to the ground, a delicate sweetness enveloped him.  He inhaled deeply and let the scents carry him away.

Strawberry was the only sweet scent he could identify.  There was something else, too.  Not just one something else, but several, as their fruity bouquet swirled together into a mouth-watering aroma.  It made him want to sprint through the trees and dive head first into the berry bushes.

Malcolm could not see what was the out there past the tree line.  He imagined Ozzie and other skunks, soon to be his new friends, he hoped.  He pictured a creek, running over gray, brown, gold, and green stones.  He pictured bushes and bushes of berries, lined up for all to eat.

His mouth watered.  Malcolm’s feet began to move, as if he could not stop himself even if he wanted to.  He was running again, only this time it was a very short distance.  He burst through the trees and over a small hill.  Then he stopped, amazed at what he saw.

To be continued….

Fox Through the Forest – Chapter 4

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Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Now that Malcolm had decided his immediate course of action, he had some planning to do.  So Malcolm took a deep breath to steady himself and decided to ask his new friend for some advice.  “Do you know where I could sleep tonight?” he asked Ozzie.

“Sure,” Ozzie exclaimed.  “Use my napping tree.  It’s just about time for me to go out and about anyway.  I’m meeting up with some of my other friends.  It’s berry night tonight so we’re going to stock up.  I don’t suppose you would like to join us?”

Oh my goodness, thought Malcolm.  Berry night sounded very interesting, but he knew that if he went out with Ozzie and his friends he might become even more delayed in getting to Nana Owl’s.  So he made the decision that he thought would get him to where he really wanted to go and so he told Ozzie, “Thank you, I really appreciate your offer, but I need to get a good night’s sleep tonight so I can head out first thing tomorrow morning.”

“No worries,” Ozzie told him.  “Another time.  But we’ll have plenty of berries to spare.  Do you want me to leave you some?”

“That would be great,” said Malcolm.

“Of course,” said Ozzie like it really was nothing at all.  “Well, I’ll see you later,” and as Malcolm waved goodbye, Ozzie ran off into the twilight.

Wow, thought Malcolm as he headed towards his new bed for the night, Ozzie sure is nice.  At that moment Malcolm felt so glad he had gotten to know Ozzie for who he was instead of assuming the worst of him just because he was a skunk.

As he burrowed down into the log, Malcolm couldn’t believe the wonderful day he had.  He thought back over it and he felt like he was one lucky fox.  “Thank you, Carl,” Malcolm whispered into the night.  “And thank you, Jersey, and thank you Ozzie, too.”  Malcolm closed his eyes, but for some reason he kept thinking about Ozzie and berry night.  He wondered if they were having tons of fun.

Malcolm tried flopping over to get comfortable, but it didn’t help.  No matter what position he lay in or how he curled himself up, visions of Ozzie and berry night danced before his eyes.  Oh, this is ridiculous, Malcolm told himself.  I said no to berry night to get a good night’s sleep and now here I am not sleeping. 

With a sense of defeat and annoyance, Malcolm finally opened his eyes.  Ozzie’s napping tree which had but a few moments ago seemed so comfortable and cozy to Malcolm, now seemed cramped and rough.  He didn’t think he could stay in there one moment longer.  He popped out into the darkness and looked around.

Darkness loomed in every part of the forest, but for nighttime it was surprisingly noisy.  Malcolm could hear bugs rustling and tiny critters scurrying around.  Every so often the leaves would ruffle in the wind.  Then he heard a sound he wasn’t expecting, or at least he thought he did.

Malcolm jumped up on Ozzie’s napping tree and strained his ears.  He heard it again. Yes, it was exactly what he thought it was — laughter.  Malcolm decided not to wait another minute and he tore off in the direction the laughter was coming from.

To be continued….

Fox Through the Forest – Chapter 3

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Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

As Malcolm made his way through the forest, he had such a big smile on his face.  He was feeling good again.  Actually, he was feeling better than good and just because he felt like it he started singing a little song to himself.

Goin’ through the forest

See what I can find

So far found a squirrel

She was mighty kind

Nana Owl here I come

Help me find my way

Lookin’ for my mountain

What’s she gonna say?

As Malcolm continued on his way, he felt almost as if the rocks and the leaves and the trees were singing along with him and before he knew it Malcolm was singing at the top of his lungs, jumping around and dancing to his made-up song.

When he finished, Malcolm took a very deep bow, so low his head almost touched the ground.  All of sudden, he heard applause coming from not too far away.  Malcolm snapped his head up and saw someone watching him from inside a log.

“Oh well done, well done!”  The animal cried.  “That was quite the show.”

Malcolm, who had no idea anyone was watching him, didn’t know what to say.  So, he simply said, “Thank you,” and then added as an afterthought, “Who are you?”  Malcolm hoped it wasn’t a rude question to ask.

“My name’s Osbourne,” said the animal as he emerged from the log.  “But you can call me Ozzie.”

As Ozzie came towards him, it took all of Malcolm’s self-control to stand there and smile.  Malcolm couldn’t believe it, but Ozzie was a skunk!  He had never been so close to one before, and Malcolm half expected to be able to smell Ozzie before they were actually face to face with each other.  But to Malcolm’s surprise, Ozzie didn’t smell at all.  In fact, he smiled in such a warm and friendly way that Malcolm couldn’t help but smile back and say, “My name’s Malcolm.  It’s nice to meet you, Ozzie.”

“So what brings you to this part of the forest?” Ozzie asked Malcolm, swishing his tail back and forth.  For a moment, Malcolm felt nervous as he watched Ozzie’s tail, but then he realized that just because Ozzie was a skunk, didn’t mean that he was going to spray Malcolm.  Realizing just how silly his fears were, Malcolm answered, “I’m going to see Nana Owl.  I’m hoping she can help me find a place I’m looking for.”

“It sounds as if you are on quite the adventure,” Ozzie said.  Malcolm hadn’t thought about it like that before.  He had just wanted to find the mountain he had been dreaming of, but suddenly he became very pleased with the idea that he was an adventurer, so he told Ozzie, “Yes, I am.”

“Well you’re almost there,” Ozzie exclaimed.  “Just a few more hours to go.  Once you reach the forest’s edge, head north towards the tallest Elder tree.  That’s where I hear Nana Owl’s living these days.  You’ll know you’re going the right way when you see Sage Mountain in the distance.”

Malcolm couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  Nana Owl lived by a mountain!  That had to be a good sign and suddenly Malcolm couldn’t wait another moment.  But then he remembered being so hungry earlier in the day and he realized that not only would he have to figure out where to sleep that night, but he would eventually need more food.

Disappointment flooded through Malcolm as he realized he would have to delay getting to Nana Owl’s by one more day.  He realized, though,  that he didn’t have a choice in the matter.  First had to take care of himself because otherwise he might not get there at all.  I can wait one more day, Malcolm thought.  One more day didn’t seem like too long to wait.

To be continued….

 

Fox Through the Forest — Chapter 2

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Chapter 1

Chapter 2

For the first several hours of his journey, Malcolm felt good about his choice.  He kept thinking about the mountain and the waterfall and all those beautiful flowers.  But then his stomach started to growl and his pace began to slow.  He wasn’t thinking about the mountain at all now – what he really wanted was some food.  In his eagerness to start his journey, he completely forgot to eat breakfast and he certainly didn’t have any food with him now.

Malcolm looked around the forest.  This area was entirely new to him and he wasn’t sure what to do.  Then he noticed a big oak tree up ahead.  It looked warm and inviting so he decided to stop there and get his bearings.

As Malcolm sat beneath it, he leaned back against the trunk.  He wiggled back and forth, it felt so good on his tired body.  He suddenly didn’t feel so worried, so he closed his eyes just for a moment to rest.

RAWR!  Malcolm’s stomach had other ideas, though, and it let him know just what exactly that was.

“Oh my goodness,” said a chipper, squeaky voice from above.  “Was that you?”

Malcolm opened his eyes and looked up into the branches of the tree.  There high above, was a silver gray squirrel watching him.

“Yes,” Malcolm admitted.  “I’m on my way to see Nana Owl, but I left so quickly I didn’t bring anything to eat with me.”  He felt kind of embarrassed about his poor lack of planning, but as his stomach growled again he knew he needed help.  Now was not the time for pride.

“You poor dear,” said the squirrel.  “I only have these acorns.  They’re not much, but you’re welcome to have them.”

Malcolm saw that the squirrel was pointing to an opening in the trunk of the oak tree and it was filled with a stash of acorns.  Acorns were not Malcolm’s favorite, but in that moment he felt enormously relieved and so he told the squirrel, “Oh, yes, please.  Thank you so much.”

The squirrel tossed a bunch of the acorns down to Malcolm.  As he began nibbling on them, she scampered down the tree trunk.  When he seemed to be finished she asked him, “Is there anything else I can do to help you?”

“Tell me your name,” Malcolm replied.  The squirrel smiled at him.  “It’s Jersey,” she said.

“Thank you, Jersey,” Malcolm told her.  “Your kindness means so much.  I hope someday we can meet again,” and with his belly full and his eyes bright, Malcolm again headed off to the west.  He didn’t know what adventure lay in store for him next, but he now felt better prepared.

To be continued….

Fox Through The Forest

fox-through-the-forest

Chapter 1

Once upon a time in a forest far, far away, a young fox stirred in his den.  It was quite early in the morning – not yet dawn – and a few stars still twinkled in the sky.  But the time didn’t matter to the fox, whose name was Malcolm.  He had been having the most wonderful dream.  In fact, it was so good that upon waking he jumped to his feet, shook out his tail and then bounded out of his den bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

At that moment a cardinal landed on a pine branch nearby and began chirping away.  Malcolm usually loved to listen to this song, but not today.  He was so excited about his dream he interrupted the cardinal mid-tweet.

“Carl,” Malcolm called, for that was the cardinal’s name.  “You’re not going to be believe the dream I had!”

Carl stopped singing and peered down at Malcolm.  “Good morning to you, too,” he responded.  “Tell me my young foxy friend, what did you dream about?”

Malcom, who had been jumping up and down in his excitement, sat down on his hind legs so he could better see Carl.  “I saw a mountain so tall it reached the sky,” he said.  “And there was a waterfall with a swimming hole and so many flowers.  They were everywhere.  I wish a place like that were real.” 

Malcolm sighed because it seemed a place as beautiful and wondrous as that couldn’t possibly be true.

Carl ruffled his feathers.  “Maybe it is real.  Just because you don’t know about it, doesn’t mean it’s not.”

Malcolm thought about that for a moment, and as he did a little crease appeared between his eyes.  “Well how would I find it?  If I don’t know where it is or if it’s even real, where would I even look?” 

“I don’t know,’ Carl admitted.  “But do you know who might be able to help you?  Go see Nana Owl at the edge of the forest.  She knows everything.”

 “But that’s so far away,” Malcolm exclaimed.  The edge of the forest was miles and miles away from where Malcolm lived and he had never been so far from home before.  “What if I don’t make it?”

“So what if you don’t?” Carl spread his wings wide and shrugged his shoulders in response.

Malcolm again thought about it for a moment.  He decided he really only had two options.  He could stay in his part of the forest where he knew would be safe and secure.  If he did that, he was pretty sure he would never get to see the place he had dreamed of.  Or, he could try to find Nana Owl in hopes that she could help him find his way.  Malcolm realized that this choice certainly wasn’t a guarantee he would get there, but at least the mountain and the waterfall were a possibility with this second choice.

”Ok,” he told Carl.  “I’m going!”

“Wait, just like that?”  Carl flapped his wings in surprise.  “Don’t you want to think about it some more?”

“Nope,” said Malcolm who was suddenly feeling very brave.  “If I don’t go now, I may never go.”  And with a big smile and a swish of his tail, Malcolm trotted off to the west, which is where Nana Owl lived.

“Good luck,” Carl called after him and he began tweeting again as in farewell.  Malcolm did not look back. 

TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK….