05 January 2008

The Fate of the Fateless Fiona

There is one thing I have always tried to be on the Main Street Gazette, and that is factual. Yes, I have given my opinion on various topics almost every day, and yes, I have tried to jazz up the details of the various lands and attraction for children in the Paths to Adventure and Young Adventurers segments, but I have never altered any facts. Well, starting today, that all changes.

Okay, so maybe it won’t exactly change, but I am going to be adding something, something I hope will excite children and parents. Recently I was rereading my copy of Kingdom Keepers. As I read it I remembered what I hated about the book the first time, the inaccuracies. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the story, and I cannot wait for the next one, but was I the only one who physically cringed when they talked about Walt’s apartment over the firehouse in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom? As I continued reading I realized that this was the only fiction available for children/young adults who want to explore the parks in more depth. I kept asking myself, “How can I change this?”

Well, the answer was clear, develop stories that already exist in a basic form in the parks. No, I am not going to retell the story of an attraction like the Young Adventurers (don’t worry this segment isn’t going anywhere either), and I am not going to talk about characters we already know, like Jack Sparrow, Buzz Lightyear, Peter Pan, Indiana Jones, or Nemo, but what about the stories we don’t know? Like how did Jose end up in the Enchanted Tiki Room, why is that one pirate obsessed with hats, who is the party from Saturn coming to meet Tom Morrow and why, what was the Dreamfinder’s job before he was the Dreamfinder, how do you get a job as a Muppet Soldier, and why did Warden Wilson Matua decide to protect the animals of Harambe? These are all questions without answers, some of which children are bound to ask their parents. Why shouldn’t there be answers for them to find, especially if they have to, horror upon horrors, read to find the answers (there’s that literacy thing again, once a teacher, always a teacher, I suppose).

You can call these stories dramatizations, fan fiction, or down right tawdry rubbish, but I hope you enjoy these stories as the characters find me and tell them to me. Better yet, I hope your children, and the child inside you, enjoy them even more.

So, with all that behind us, I present to you the first installment of Once… As always, comments, questions, concerns, any response at all is welcomed!

If there was a difference between the water and the air above it, it was that the water was probably cooler. The hot air was thick and slow, filled with enough moisture that you could almost jump into the air and swim through it. Then again, the river was full of leeches, lots and lots of leeches. Oh, and of course, the crocodiles. As these sluggish thoughts about a sluggish day wandered through the mind of Al, he and his ship slowly crawled up to the docks. The canopy of the Fateless Fiona hung limp, much like her skipper and his gawky frame, as there wasn’t so much as a breeze to flap the tattered cover.

Al surveyed his new “crew” as the riverboat came to a halt and thudded against the dock. There were five in all, a mother, father, and their daughter, and a teenage couple who cared less about seeing the scenery and more about staring at each other. None of the new passengers looked like they had ever spent a day on the river, you could tell that much just by how they were dressed: jeans, tee shirts, sundresses, all of it was totally inappropriate to be cruising through the jungle. With a heavy sigh, and a stale smile plastered across his face, Al latched the boat to the dock and began assisting the passengers aboard. The family decided on seats close to the front, while the preoccupied teens sat at the very back. Al brought in the rope, and started the motor, as they slowly limped away from the dock. He turned back, gave the dock a cheerless glance, and waved at it, with the kind of help he had available on this trip, if there was any trouble, he wondered if he would ever see it again.

“Excuuuse me,” a little voice squeaked from behind Al, as his shirt was being tugged on at the same time, “is this boat safe?”

Al turned in time to see the little girl’s mother stifle a chuckle. He kneeled down and smiled his most comforting, if false, smile, “Well,… what’s your name?”

“Ann, Ann Fellen,” she said as she straightened up her back proudly.

“Well Ann, I am your skipper, Al Belaite, an’ I promise you that the Fiona here is as safe as any boat on the water. In fact, I’m so sure that we’re safe that if we run into any trouble you can be the skipper.”

Ann beamed and return to her parents, squeezing between them to find a spot where she could reach out and dip her hands in the water.

“You might want to be careful there Ann, we have a crocodile name Old Smiley ‘round here and he’s always looking for a hand out.”

“HO, ho,” came the animated response from Ann’s father as she withdrew her hand from the water. He was a heavy man with a deep brow that made him appear as if he were continually frowning; either that or he was continually frowning. Ann’s mother, who now held her daughter as close as possible, and as far from the water as she could, was a slender woman who was so pale it was as if she had never stepped outside a day in her life. B.N. Eaton and Emma Boylen had clearly only brought their daughter on such an outing after her pleading and begging had become too much to bear.

Almost as soon as they rounded the first bend in the river, the fat dark clouds that had been hanging in the sky all day opened up and let loose a downpour. The passengers, who had been scattered around the deck, all scurried their way to the very center of the deck.

“Huh,” noted Al, “the rainy season seems has come early this year.”

“Really,” bellowed B.N. “when does it usually start?”

“Oh, not until later on. After all, it only rains here 365 days a year,” Al stated matter-of-factly, leaving B.N., and the rest of the travelers, puzzled.

“Does this mean I’m the skipper now?” Ann inquired.

Days went by, and the rains continued to fall. Sometimes they were so heavy that they blotted out every glimpse of light and the guests couldn’t tell if it was day or night. Ann continued to see this as a wonderful experience, sticking her tongue out to catch the fat drops of summer rain, pooling water in her cupped hands to throw at her parents or Al, and, once, she even tried to fill a bucket with water so that she could wash her doll, Ilene. Unfortunately, the bucket became too heavy for her to hold and it fell into the river, flowing rapidly behind the boat, before sinking to the bottom of the river.

Other passengers, like Ms. Betty Dont and her boyfriend, Albert Knot, were not having such a grand old time. It became routine that every morning Betty would complain about what the rain was doing to her hair, while Albert would scamper about trying to convince her that her hair was lovely, and that, “surely this rains will stop soon,” after which he would look over at Al, who could only shake his head apologetically, as if to say, “the rains are here to stay.”

This practice went on for weeks until, suddenly, they cruised out of the rain late one morning. Looking back, they could all see the wall of rain behind them, yet, in front of them, everything gave the appearance of a lush and dry jungle. So shocked were the Fiona’s occupants that they all ran to the boat’s railing and looked straight up, as if surely the rains would begin falling again any second. But, just as quickly as the rains had started falling, they were gone, along with the cool weather they had brought with them. Thus began a new tradition, one where all of the passengers, excluding Ann, lay around exhausted and extremely bored.

One afternoon, Al excitedly called out, “Oh, wow, there’s something you don’t see everyday!”

“Quick my darling, come and see,” shouted Albert. Slowly, like the sloths that usually moved along in the trees above the river, the adults made their way towards Al and Ann.

“What are we looking at, that puny little waterfall we are about to pass behind?” blustered R.N.

“Oh, that’s not jus’ any old waterfall Mr. Eaton, that is Schweitzer Falls.”

“Ah, isn’t that the waterfall that was named after that famous explorer?” questioned R.N.

“That’s the one, named after Dr. Albert Falls. An’ with these rains we were having, they have caused the falls to run at a hundred and fifty percent of normal giving us a very special view,” Al said in earnest awe.

“What, what view is so special?” whined Betty, as she nudged Albert, who covered her head with the paper he had just been reading without a second thought.

“Why, the backside of water.”

Betty and Albert looked blankly at one another, and then looked blankly over at B.N. and Emma, who had just finished looking at each other blankly. Ann, meanwhile, beamed and scrunched up her eyes so she could squint better to take in the full beauty of the backside of water.

On the other side of the falls the Fiona happened upon a herd of elephants bathing in the flooded river. Aside from a few giant butterflies, this was the first time any of the passengers had seen any wildlife during the entire trip. The wonder that had filled Ann and Al at Schweitzer Falls now filled everyone aboard.

“Are they… naked?” Ann whispered with a hiss at Al.

“Ha! No Ann, don’t worry. See, look, they are all wearin’ their trunks,” Al responded as he pointed towards a rather elated elephant who seemed to be spraying himself and his fellow elephants with water from his trunk.

Suddenly a big elephant took notice of the boat, and her occupants, and began taking aim at them. Water splashed along the side of the boat, causing her to shudder and jerk back and forth. The elephant filled his trunk a second time and continued to squirt water at the Fiona, which repeated the rocking and went further off course. With a third spray the elephant was able to drive the boat out of the river, over a small cluster of jagged rocks, and onto the shore. With the boat no longer moving, the elephant lost interest and moved out of the other side of the river and back into the jungle, along with the rest of his herd.

Al, shaking his head and looking around shouts, “Is everyone alright?”

“Yes, we’re quite well over here,” B.N. answered as he picked up Ann and Emma clutched his arm.

“Alright, Alright,…” shrieked Betty, “do you see how much mud I am covered in? Alright!”

“Why, just think of it as a mineral mud bath, my darling,” was the trembling response from Albert. “I am sure it is filled with all sorts of nourishing vitamins and minerals, right Al?” he said with a quiver in his voice as he turned to Al.

“Oh, yeah, the animal dung that makes up these river banks is full of all sorts of hearty minerals. How do you think these plants get to be so big?” Came the absent reply from Al, as he climbed up the embankment to survey the river and jungle, ignoring Betty’s wild screams that followed.

“Do you think we can get the boat back in the river?” R.N. asked, still huddled with his family, and also ignoring Betty’s antics.

“Nope. She’s takin’ on too much water to do us much good now. But don’t worry another ship will be along shortly,” Al stated with some certainty, as he climbed down and rejoined the group.

“How can you be so sure of that?” wondered Albert.

“Simple, I can hear their radio down the river.”

“Radio?” Albert questioned further.

“Of course, can’t you hear those drums getting closer?”


Greg said...

I like it Ryan! This should be a fun series. Wish I had thought of it.

Eric Hoffman said...

Ryan! Yes! well done. I love it and cannot wait for the next installment. Tomorrow maybe?


Ryan P. Wilson said...

~Doc: When the idea hit me, I couldn't believe that I hadn't thought of it before. When I scoured the internet to see if anyone else had thought of this, I couldn't believe I couldn't find anything. Maybe this is an idea whose time has come!

~Eric: Ha ha, I wish I could churn one of these out that quickly! I probably could if I did away with work... I'm hoping to do 2-3 a month, which I've taken on as a challenge because my wife doesn't believe I can get more than one in (I think this is her way of motivating me).

theDisnerd said...

I realize that this is 9 years old, but I LOVE it!