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….