By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal
The story so far: The animals’ inability to see red and green is causing widespread panic in the form of traffic accidents and fights between the warm bloods and cold bloods.
By Danza Johnson
By the time Chloe and Oliver made it to TownCrossing, half the city was in chaos. Animals were yelling at one another and some even biting. Oliver, who is usually pretty quiet, was terrified at what he was seeing but even more terrified of what he wasn’t.
“Chloe, what is going on?” said Oliver, rubbing his eyes as if trying to awaken from a bad dream. “Why is everyone fighting? What happened to the red? What is going on?”
Chloe tried her best to make sense of it all.
“There’s got to be a logical explanation for all of this,” Chloe said to her friend as she looked down at her gray mittens that were green when she put them on this morning. “There’s got to be….
“But animals are going at each other’s throats and I have no idea why I can’t see red anymore,” interrupted Oliver. “And you can’t see green. I think everyone’s vision has gone screwy, but why?”
“Why indeed,” thought Chloe. Then all of a sudden she he had an idea of how they’d find out what was going on, but she knew Oliver wouldn’t like what she was going to suggest.
“Ummm, Oliver, I got an idea of who we can ask about what’s happening,” said Chloe, not looking her friend in the eyes.
“Chloe, why are you looking like that? Who is it and I pray it’s not who I think you are thinking because if you are thinking him then you’d better think again because that’s a terrible thought.”
“But he’s the oldest animal in the county,” she defended. “And he’s bound to know something.”
“And he’s also the scariest and creepiest animal in the county,” said Oliver. “And did I mention the scariest? Do you not remember what nearly happened the last time the three of us met?”
After much back and forth, Chloe persuaded Oliver to go with her to the deepest, darkest part of Eel County to seek the knowledge of the “Outcast.” No one knew his name and not many had ever seen him. Neither cold nor warm-blooded, mammal nor reptile, no one knew what the Outcast was or from where he’d come. Ironically, he was who formed the improbable friendship between the skunk and the skink. Chloe was just a young skink when she wandered into the woods during a family picnic and came face to face with the Outcast. Lucky for her, a lonely skunk was close by to hear her screams. Oliver sprayed the creature, allowing Chloe to escape, and the two have been inseparable ever since.
As Chloe parked her cherry-red Beetle at the end of the woods not far from where the Outcast almost had her for lunch years earlier, Oliver began to have second thoughts.
“There has to be another way, this is not a good idea, he’s going to…….”
“Shhh!” said Chloe, annoyed by Oliver’s panic. “He is the only one who may be able to tell us what’s happening in town.”
After nearly an hour of navigating through the dark woods, Oliver and Chloe made it to the Outcast’s shack. Before Chloe could knock, the door flung open and all she could see were teeth. Just as the two turned to run, he grabbed them both and pulled them into the shack.
“Ahhh, you two,” said the creature as he held Chloe and Oliver up by their shirt collars. “I’ve been waiting a long time for this moment.”
“Please, don’t eat us,” cried Oliver, his eyes clinched tightly.
As the two braced for what was sure to be their end, the odd sound of uncontrollable laughter replaced their fear with curiosity.
“Eat you,” said the Outcast trying to speak through his amusement. “Eat you? I’m not going to eat you. I just wanted to give you this back.”
The creature pulled out a worn out doll from an old chest. “I seem to remember a certain little skink dropping this near my house a few years back,” he said with a toothy smile. “And I also seem to remember a little skunk spraying me when I tried to return it.”
Oliver and Chloe were stunned. The creature, or Maurice as they later learned, was not a vicious animal eater at all. He was actually a nice … whatever he was.
“Mr. Maurice, we came because something strange is happening to the animals of Oleput,” explained Chloe. “We have lost the ability…….”
“To see red and green,” Maurice interrupted. “Warm bloods can no longer see red and cold bloods green.”
“How did you know that?” asked a suspicious Oliver.
“Calm down young fella, calm down,” Maurice told the skunk. “I had nothing to do with it, but only one thing can cause animals to lose their sense of harmony and that’s the Wishbone. Has anyone disturbed the Wishbone?”
Maurice explained to the two how the Wishbone was a bridge between harmony and chaos. When it was plucked from the ground, creating Founder’s Pond centuries ago, harmony was created between warm-bloods and cold-bloods. Animals no longer looked at the world through gray eyes, they saw it more clearly, more colorfully, he explained to them.
“The gift of color was given because both sides learned to work together that day,” said Maurice. “But now that harmony is shrinking and chaos is creeping back in, so leaves the gift. Soon green and red won’t be the only colors absent to the eyes. Soon all will be gray.”
Sunday, Part 5: Tensions mount.