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Once upon a time


The Wicked Witch of the North
Meethoc woke suddenly from his sleep. "Quickly, my young friends, quickly, we must get out. NOW!" he shouted as he threw open the door and leapt out in the windy dark. Artie shook the kitten awake and hurried her to the doorway. But they were too late! And they both stood there, watching their friend grow ever smaller as the house lifted up and up, higher into the sky, until they could no longer see him. Artie looked at Alley, Alley looked at Artie. "What happened?!" she asked plaintively. "I don't know, Alley, but I don't think we are in Urthanopia anymore."

The house continued to rise and then it steadied and continued in one direction. Neither Artie nor Alley spoke very much over the hours that flew by. They sat on the window sill and looked at the dark outside. Artie had tried to close the door but it was too hard for his tiny body. They stayed as far away from it as they could, both afraid they would fall into the void. Alley dosed, worn out by stress and fear, but Artie did not fall asleep being too wound up, worrying about their fate and where they would end up. He watched out the window and noticed something...it was getting lighter and the wind was dropping. And so was the house! Not quickly but faster as the wind dropped and the light grew stronger. He shook the kitten awake yet again and said in a quavering voice,"Alley, we must move from here, we must get on something safer than this sill...the house is coming down fast now, and it may hit with a bang!". "Hit what, Artie?". "I don't know, young Kit, but I fear it may be something hard. Let us move to the bed and curl up in the blankets, they may cushion our fall". Wrapped in the blankets and holding tight to each other, the little animals waited in dreadful fear as the house fell faster and faster. Suddenly, there was an abrupt stop and the bed flew into the air. But there was no crash, just a great deal of water through the door upon which the bed floated. The back wall of the house dissolved into mud in the water and the bed floated out. Artie and Alley looked on with open mouths as the house slowly slipped beneath the surface and they were alone, surrounded by water.

Up popped a head, "Hey mate, what's the bleeding idea, dropping a bleeding house on my bleeding head! Shouldn't be allowed, not bleeding houses on bleeding heads!" A dolphin was looking at them in disfavour over the end of the bed. "And what kinda boat do you bleeding well call this, ay?" Artie once again introduced himself and Alley to yet another creature they had dropped on. "Our humble apologies, sir, we have had a stressful time of it," he finished. "Stressful, STRESSFUL!' spluttered the dolphin, "you try havin' a bleeding house fall on you and you'll bleeding well know stressful!". The rat tried to placate the angry dolphin with the story of their travels. The dolphin finally stopped spluttering at them and said "You two still seem to be in a bleeding pickle, if I may be so bold as to bleeding well say. Stuck out here, in a would-be bleeding boat and no bleeding engine. What are you going to bleeding well do about it then, ay?". Artie looked at Alley, Alley looked at the dolphin, and they both shrugged. "Dunno, mate" said Alley. With that the dolphin introduced himself, " Me name's Mako, mate, and I bedda whistle up some mates and we'll give y'a push." "But where to, Mako, where to?" said Artie in a worried voice. "Ova there, ya dopey drongo," with a nod to behind the two castaways, "that's the mainland behind ya!" The two swung round, still wrapped in blankets and trying not to trip. Before them lay a green land, a short distance for a dolphin but a very long way for a rat and a cat. There were trees to the edge of the golden sand, and they could see a ribbon of blue where a stream flowed through a gap to meet the water. Mako gave a shrill whistle and within seconds there were four more heads looking at them...three dolphins and one seal. "These are me mates; that's Killer, Quasi, Tweety and Furball." " Mate.", "Mate.", "Mate", "Gidday", said the newcomers. "Rightio, then," shouted Mako, "bleeding well PUSH!". "Push what, mate?" asked Furball. "This bleeding bed, you bleeding drongo!". "Don't you call me a bleeding drongo", snarled Furball and disappeared beneath the water. "Okay then, mates, could we please have a bit of forward locomotion with this here bed, if that's all right with you fellas?" Mako said more moderately. The depleted mates pushed from several different directions until Mako got them sorted and heading for the shore. With a bump that knocked them off their feet, the bed grounded on the beach and the two friends made haste to scramble ashore. "Thank you," they called to the rapidly disappearing mammals. The only response was a tail walk by the one called Quasi. They could see why he was called that, as he struggled to keep himself above the water. With a huge splash, he dropped down into the water and the dolphins were no more to be seen.

The friends looked about them and with one mind, hurried to the stream. They drank and drank and drank until they could hold no more. "You know, I didn't realise I was so thirsty till I saw all that fresh water," remarked Alley. But Artie wasn't listening to her but to something else, his head cocked and a worried look on his face. "Oh, what now, Artie?!" Just as she spoke a noisy flock of birds came through the undergrowth and down the beach toward them. "Alley! Those are kiwis! We're home!!" Alley looked at the approaching birds with her mouth wide open. "Hey, bro," said the first one to arrive, and the next, and the next, until the entire flock had greeted them. "Hey, bros," said Alley, almost squeaking with excitement, "is this Aotearoa?!" "Course, bro, where else would it be?". Alley and Artie looked at each other and started to dance around."We're home, we're home," sang Alley, and then suddenly stopped. "But where...". She was interrupted by the biggest kiwi. " How did you get here?," she said suspiciously, "You wasn't here before." Artie started to tell their tale "and then the old lady..." "Rubbed the teapot!", shouted the whole flock at once. "That blasted teapot has caused an awful lot of trouble around here, we thought we had got rid of it." "Obviously not,"said Artie. "No," said the biggest kiwi, "obviously not!" "But where," said Alley, trying again, "where is my owner? And why am I still a cat if I am at home?" The biggest kiwi looked at her, looked at Artie and said "Is she often like this or does it just happen sometimes?" Alley snorted in annoyance but before she could say anything rash, Artie replied, "It was the teapot, it turned her from a black dog into a white cat...and it turned me from an old lady into a rat." "You! You are my owner?!" squeaked Alley. "I am. I was too embarrassed to tell you before. I mean, look at me! I'm not a female human anymore, I'm a male rat! With a tophat and hoity toity speech. And you are no longer an old black dog, you are a young female white cat. We are stuck with ourselves now, just the way we are." "But you said, you said we would find my owner at the Arketheon." Alley wailed. "I did hope we would be able to change back. But all that came to naught when we fell through the roof of the cottage. We are home now. We must make the best of it and find a new somewhere to live. At that, he turned to the biggest kiwi and asked, "Is there a cave or a hollow we may sleep in tonight, madame?". Rather chuffed at being called 'madame' by such an urbane creature she replied, "Follow us, bros", turning on her claws and marching off, with her flock trailing behind. The two left on the beach stood irresolute. "Well, young Kit, I guess we should follow her", and the two friends, no longer owner and pet, set off across the sand, and onto a new adventure.
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The Wicked Witch of the North
Thank Rae, I'm not sure Alley is too sure of their new home ;)

I wanted to round the story off, Pen, as it had kinda ground to a halt so figured I could bring them 'home'. And home is here ;)


Contributing Artist
I couldn't help speaking (in my head) in a real ocker accent with the Dolphins :p (Ocker - real country sounding Aussie)


The Wicked Witch of the North
I did want to use a different word for 'bleeding' but decided to err on the side of good manners. The proper word would sound more Kiwi, I think ;)