By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
The story to this point: A harmless accident, a flash of light and the town of Oleput has lost its precious Founders’ Wishbone.
BY SHEENA BARNETT
iPod – music – artists – Snoop Dogg – “The Doggfather” – play.
Chloe Skink adjusted the volume on her cherry red iPod and stepped outside.
Her hometown of Oleput was graced with mild Decembers, but there was a strong chill in the air this morning.
Chloe didn’t mind.
She’d stayed up half the night trying to decide what bands to book at the Oleput Concert Hall, of which she was the director. The Eels? Modest Mouse? The Bird and the Bee? Band of Horses?
With the divide between the hot-bloods and cold-bloods running deeper by the day, she knew she had to choose carefully.
The little lizard’s striped body began to warm up, thanks to the shimmering sunlight, and her bright blue tail swished as she walked.
The air and music helped wake her up, and she made her way down to Ringo Raccoon’s Cafe.
• • •
iPod – music – artists – Phish – “Farmhouse” – play.
Across town, Oliver Skunk adjusted the volume on his lime green iPod and stepped outside.
His thick coat of shiny, black and white fur kept him warm in the cool morning air.
The air feels just right, Oliver thought.
He just knew the day would be a good one. He was walking to meet his best friend, Chloe Skink, at Ringo Raccoon’s Cafe, and then he’d go to work, overseeing his IT business.
If only the hot-bloods and cold-bloods could see eye-to-eye, he thought, walking through downtown, Oleput would be just perfect.
• • •
“Well, look, if it isn’t the crime-fighting duo of Skink and Skunk,” Ringo Raccoon hollered when Chloe and Oliver stepped into the cafe. “What are y’all up to today?”
The skunk and skink shook their heads.
They’d been best friends since they met at Malim Middle School, both considered outcasts of the cold-blooded and hot-blooded.
Their opposites-attract friendship only made the teasing worse.
“Stinky Skink and Skunk!” was their classmates’ favorite taunt.
The pair had overcome species stereotypes together, and it made their bond that much stronger.
“We’re on the Oleput Beautification Commitee,” Chloe said. “Dr. Alligator and Mayor Peacock asked us to design the city’s Christmas decorations.”
“Something that’ll make both Mayor Peacock and Dr. Alligator – I mean, the hot-bloods and the cold-bloods – happy,” Oliver said. “Ya know, lots of red for the hot-bloods, lots of green for the cold-bloods. Can I get a honeybee tea and a small order of fried earthworms?”
“And give me a large carrot juice and – can I get my earthworms grilled?” Chloe asked.
“You got it,” Ringo said.
Oliver and Chloe found a table by the window, overlooking Founder’s Pond.
“I’m so excited to get to work on this,” Chloe said. “But I want to make sure we have equal amounts of red and green.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it any other way,” Oliver said, his eyes glancing at the table but stopping when he spotted her music player.
His brows furrowed. “Hey, did you get a new iPod?”
Chloe looked down at her shiny red machine.
“Nope,” she said, “this is my baby.”
Oliver shrugged. “Huh. I could’ve sworn your iPod was red.”
“It is,” Chloe said, looking at her player before cutting a look at Oliver’s. “What about yours? I thought yours was green.”
“It is,” Oliver said, grabbing the machine.
The skink and skunk looked at each other in silence, when Ringo showed up with their breakfasts.
“Here you go, guys,” he said, placing the plates of earthworms in their respective places. “I was going to give y’all red and green plates, to be festive, but I can’t find any of my red ones. Sorry, Oliver.”
Ringo returned to the counter, and Oliver and Chloe stared at the table.
Oliver saw Chloe’s plate was green, but his own looked gray. Just as Ringo said.
Chloe saw Oliver’s plate was red, but her own looked gray. Was Ringo colorblind?
“What’s up with the plates?” Chloe laughed.
“What? Mine’s gray, yours is green,” Oliver said, crunching on worms.
The skink had almost had enough.
“Stop messing with me about the colors,” she said. “Yours is red.”
“It’s gray! You just heard Ringo himself say he couldn’t find any red plates.”
“It’s gray! Just like your iPod!”
“My iPod is not gray!”
“Um … y’all?” Ringo said behind them, and the skunk and skink followed his line of sight out the window.
Outside, Oleput’s citizens were slowly but surely coming out of their offices, apartments and burrows.
They were all grabbing each other, looking at clothes, flags, signs – anything with red and green. The animals were getting frantic, and a few were even crying.
Ringo walked up behind Chloe and Oliver.
“I think we have a problem.”
Friday, Chapter 3:Chaos grips the city