Gatekeeper was worried. "That's not like them at all," he said. "I thought for sure they'd make an early attack."
"What does that mean then, Father?" asked Tenzin.
"It could mean anything, but I think its one of two things: They've either lost interest in the kids or they're getting ready to come at us in full force. And, you know we can't take on a full army of flying goblins, even if we we're ready."
"What!" said Jocko, who was standing nearby, "Are you going to surrender?"
Tenzin turned to his new friend, "You don't know my father very well, do you?"
"So what do we do? What's the plan?" asked Tenzin.
Gatekeeper scratched his beard, "Call a full council of zoomers. We need to talk and get organized. I don't know how much time we have if the goblins decide to come back in force."
"What's the matter?" asked Jocko, "Are you afraid of those bugs?"
Tenzin nodded, "Yes, I'm afraid of them. You haven't seen what they do to prisoners, and I don't want to talk about it."
"Sorry," replied Jocko, "I just meant . . . oh, never mind."
The two boys took off running at a trot toward the forest and Tenzin passed the word on with each zoomer they met. "Meeting, right away, council members to Gatekeeper's place."
In the fields, the boys stopped for a moment to talk with the girls who were hard at work learning how to become accurate shots with their slingshots. Electra was gaining skill quickly but Raven needed more strength in her muscles. "I'll never get it right," she groaned.
"Keep trying, you're doing okay," said Heather, their instructor.
"Here, let me show you," said Tenzin, lifting the slingshot from the girl's hands. "You're working too hard at it. Use both hands one to push away from you and the other to pull, but don't try to get distance, right now, just accuracy. He shot off a pebble which ricocheted off a tree, then handed the weapon back to Raven.
"I'll try," said Raven as she tried to put Tenzin's instructions into practice, this time getting off a pretty good shot that almost hit the tree.
"That's it," said Tenzin, "keep practicing." Then he and Jocko were off at a quick jog to complete their mission.
At the end of their route the boys came to a swamp. "How big is this
place?" asked Jocko.
"I sure would like to do some huntin in there," said Jocko.
"Maybe you can, someday," replied Tenzin, "after the fight and all."
"Do you think we can beat them, those goblins?"
Tenzin shrugged, "I don't know. Those guys are pretty mean, and strong too, but they're not all that smart. If we're gonna beat em, then we have to use our brains."
Jocko put up his arm and made a muscle, "Strength is good too."
Tenzin nodded in agreement and they headed back to the main settlement after delivering their final message to the outlying zoomer village. It was only after they had left the bog that the log Jocko had been sitting on, closed its eyes and slithered into the dark pool. Fortunately for Jocko the goblin had eaten a fat woodhen only hours earlier and wasn't hungry, at that moment.
The council met and discussed war plans and agreed that Gatekeeper would be the commander in chief and that they would follow his plan. Then the leaders talked for a while among each other and lifted off for their flights back to their villages. Tenzin and Jocko went up to Gatekeeper after the last of the leaders had gone.
"Father, you don't look so good," said Tenzin, "you need some rest."
Gatekeeper nodded, "Not for while I'm afraid. There's too much to do."
"Please!" begged Tenzin, "Just for a little nap. We'll keep watch for you while you sleep."
Gatekeeper agreed and went back to his shelter for an hour or two of rest while the boys climbed to the lookout and listened to the zoomer scouts as they flew back in with their reports. Nothing. There was no sign of the enemy. A short while later Gatekeeper returned and came up to the lookout. "What's going on boys?" he asked.
"Nothing father," said Tenzin, "no contact at all. Do you think they'll leave us alone?"
"What do you think?" replied Gatekeeper.
"No," replied Tenzin, "That's not their way. Probably they're up to something."
Gatekeeper patted his son on the shoulder, "Good thinking," he said, "That's about what I'd say. Now you two take a break. We've got to go on with our living but with vigilance."
The boys slid down some vines to the ground, leaving Gatekeeper to listen to the reports. "Come on," said Tenzin, "I'll show you how to use a swampboat, you might need to pilot one soon."
"Great!" said Jocko, "I'd like that."
They raced down to the river where Tenzin showed his friend how to pole the flatbottomed boat out along the river. "These are pretty fast," said Jocko, "I wish we had an engine on her, then we'd really move -- we'd fly, almost."
"We don't have any engines here," said Tenzin but Jocko had other ideas. "Do you have any ropes," he said.
"Sure," said Jocko, "Plenty." They went back to the bank where Tenzin ran off and came back with several lengths of a thin, but strong line. "That's just right," said Jocko. "Now how do we get a couple of zoomers to help?"
Tenzin whistled and in moments four zoomers came down to land.
"Too small," said Jocko, "Aren't there any bigger ones?"
"Sure," said Tenzin and he talked with one zoomer who flew off and came back several minutes later with two zoomers who were almost as big as the boys. "Are they big enough?" said Tenzin.
"Yeah! They should be," said Jocko, fastening the ropes to the skiff. "Now you have them take the ends of the ropes and tow us along."
"Hey! That's a good idea," said Tenzin and he passed on the request to the two zoomers. They nodded to his request and took the ends of the ropes and flew into the air. The skiff moved slowly at first but quickly picked up speed and before long it was moving along at a rapid clip through the water. "This is great!" shouted Tenzin, "I wonder why we never thought of this."
Jocko smiled as he lay back and watched the stream of water slide by them. Then they played for practically an hour until the zoomers got tired and brought them back. Tenzin introduced his friend to the two zoomers and Jocko found that he was beginning to understand the language. The problem was that they talked at too high a pitch but if he listened carefully he could make out their words. The zoomers came down to ground and the four of them went into the community kitchen for something to eat.
There was no further sign of the goblins that day nor the next but shot by shot the girls got better with their shooting. Tenzin and Jocko tried different experiments with boats pulled by flying zoomers. Before long the new speedboats were an accepted part of the community. Gatekeeper kept up the patrols but gradually the village came back to normal when it appeared that no attack was on its way. The children had time to make friends with more zoomer kids and to learn to interpret their language.
Heather stood on the bank of the river, looking out across the water
at the fields across the way. She turned and saw Raven holding a borrowed
doll, sitting quietly with her feet in the water.Walking over to the girl
she knelt down beside her. "What's the matter Raven?" she asked, "You look
"No," replied Heather, "They probably don't even know you're gone. Remember those changeling children who are in your place at home."
"Oh yeah!" said Raven, "I forgot about that. But I hope we get home soon anyway and kick those change-kids out. They can't have my parents."
Heather patted her friend on the shoulder, "I know," she said, "Do you want to do some more target practice?"
"No," said Raven, "I just want to sit here, for a little while. Is that okay?"
"Sure," replied Heather, "If you want to talk, just call me," she said as she walked the narrow trail looking for her friends, two zoomer girls she'd met and played with over the last two days. She pursed her lips and whistled a tune that she and her friends had made up. At first there was no answer but moments later the sound was returned from overhead and the two girls came down through the trees to land nearby.
"Leika, Janver!" said Heather, "Thanks for coming down. I missed you."
"We were looking for you," said Janver, "Come on, we'll go for a zoom. Oops! I forgot, you can't fly."
"Sorry," said Heather, "I wish I could too."
"We'll walk too then," said Leika. The girls came to earth and walked
along with Heather but it was cumbersome for them and their wings kept
catching on the bushes. "I know a place," said Janver, "take a boat across
the river and we'll meet you in the fields."
For starters they chased one another. The rules were that nobody could fly, to make things even. So the two zoomers closed up their wings and ran, but still Heather had a tough time keeping up with them. "Enough of that," said Heather after a while, "Let's try something else." "Hide and seek," said Leika, "We haven't played that since we were kids." "Okay!"
Leika was "IT" and so both Janver and Heather ran off in different directions. Heather lost sight of her friends as she burrowed down in the boggy grass. It was comfortable here, cool and relaxing. So relaxing in fact that she drifted off to sleep and so didn't hear the calls of her friends who became worried when she didn't come out. "Do you think she snuck back?" said Janver. "No, she couldn't, the boat is still here."
"Come out, Heather!" yelled Janver, "the game's over and you won. Come on out now. It's time for supper and we should go back."
"You don't think she could have!" said Leika.
"Maybe! I just hope she didn't sink into the bog," replied Janver, "we should have warned her; she didn't know."
They looked some more and then Leika flew back and returned with some other zoomers and a search for the girl began.
Heather awoke with a start and was confused. "Where! Hello! Hello Leika, Janver! Where are you. It's dark." She reached out in the darkness and felt only the moist tangle of the moss all around her. Struggling, she tried to pull herself out of the stuff but couldn't tell what direction was up. Quickly panic overcame the girl and she continued to yell for help and to try and claw her way out of the moss. But it seemed that the more she struggled the further she sank back into the earth.
Tenzin and Jocko, came across the river, along with Raven and Electra and they joined in the hunt. "Be careful," said Tenzin, "The moss is thick and deep and can swallow you up like quicksand. That's probably what happened to her."
"Is she okay?" asked Electra.
"I think so," replied Tenzin, "If she doesn't go down too deep and run out of air."
"Oh!" gasped Raven, "Then we better find her quick. Heather! Heather, where are you?" she yelled.
Heather could hear none of this as she had sunk too deep into the bog and no sound could penetrate the thick tangle of weeds and peat. She tried to remain calm, and not struggle so that she wouldn't go any deeper. They'll find me, I know it, she thought.
But search as they may nobody could find Heather. Gatekeeper sent as many zoomers as could be spared from the watch and their preparations for the coming of the goblins. "She's gone down in the bogs," said Gatekeeper, to his zoomer friend Balnor. "Never should have gone over there. Well, its too late to warn her now. I just hope they find her."
"Bog people will find her," said Balnor. "I'll get Zorbert."
"The ogre. Yes, he might," said Gatekeeper. "Call him, as quick as you can."
Balnor stepped to the edge of the porch, spread his wings and lifted off. Gatekeeper watched the zoomer circle, then head deeper into the swamps. When Balnor had disappeared, Gatekeeper muttered to himself, "just what we need, now, of all times." Then he went back to his table and plans for defense of the community.
Raven looked up and saw the thin canoe of a boat slicing through the water. "Ugh! What's that?" she said, stepping back as the slim craft slid smoothly up onto the bank.
"An ogre," said Tenzin, "Good! That was a good idea."
"Can he find her?" asked Raven.
The ogre turned toward the little girl and smiled to which Raven moved over and hid behind her sister. When she peeked out the ogre was not there but searching among the grass and weeds of the bog. They watched him for a while as he seemed to swim among the greens, then he disappeared.
"Hey! Where'd he go?" asked Jocko.
"If anybody can find Heather," said Tenzin, "the bog-ogre can."
Heather was beginning to feel tired and sleepy. Her breathing came hard now and she had no more energy. Her eyes closed and she felt a sense of calm and peace. Then something was touching her, something running up her arm. That brought her back to consciousness. She screamed as she felt it on her face, something slippery like a snake. But the slippery thing tightened around her wrist. Heather tried to pull away. In desperation now, she screamed and pulled and kicked out, but suddenly she was moving, sliding through the bog and though she fought there was no stopping the motion.
Still kicking and screaming the earth opened up and Heather gasped a deep breath, choking on the sudden blast of air. She looked now at what had grabbed her, a hand -- the hand of a hideous little man, grinning like he'd just heard the best joke in his life. But she realized, I'm out!
A cheer went up from the crowd who came running to surround the ogre and the girl. "He found her. Heather, are you okay?" asked Tenzin, brushing weeds from the girl's hair and face.
The ogre's hand dropped from Heather's arm. "Yeah!" she said, "I think so. I guess, this guy rescued me. Who is he?"
"He's a bog-ogre," grinned Jocko, showing off his new knowledge.
Heather, after catching her breath, turned toward the ogre. "Thank you . . . mister . . . mister ogre," she said.
Zorbert beamed back at the girl and went back to his boat, but Tenzin caught up with him.
"Can you talk with my father," he asked, "We have problems here with the goblins. They attacked us, tried to get at the girls. We think they might attack again. Can you help us?"
Zorbert slid into his boat and with several thrusts was across the water. He stepped out onto the land and turned from his boat to stride with steps that Tenzin couldn't match, even if he'd been over there. But the ogre didn't need to be shown the way. Zorbert sniffed once and headed straight toward the tree where Gatekeeper had his observation platform, then lifted himself up and into the branches.
Tenzin turned to Jocko and Heather, "I hope he can help," he said.
"Come on Heather," said Leika, "let's get something to eat." Heather
nodded in agreement and she walked toward the boat with her two friends.
Raven and Electra continued their marksmanship and Tenzin and Jocko,
with Gearzo and Sandmir, two zoomer boys, continued their preparations
for war. Sandmir was Tenzin's best buddy but Gearzo quickly became friends
with Jocko as they both loved machines and they talked for hours about
motorcycles, cars, airplanes and all kinds of mechanical and electrical
What they weren't aware of were the many eyes staring at them from beneath the scummy waters or from within old tree stumps. Electra felt something that made her uncomfortable and she told Tenzin about it which he reported to his father. But life went on as normal, though the community still remained on guard.
"Well there you have it, my friends. You'd think that the story is complicated enough, wouldn't you? You might say there are more than enough characters! You might say that, but if you did you'd be wrong. There's more to come. Now we're about to get out of the clock. Not the girls, just you and me. And, as we all know its not really a clock but some kind of transporter now. We know that, don't we? Some people call em dimension hoppers or magic carpets, if you like or . . . Well, never mind.
So the boys and girls are stuck in the land of the Zoomers. The place
looks peaceful and quiet right now but you can bet that the witch is planning
something with her hornet goblins. Just what, well, you'll have to wait
and see. And, the big question is, why does she want these boys and girls
anyway? What's so special about them? Any ideas?
For now, we leave the story "Time Enough For All" and our tale goes in a different direction. Don't you get nervous as it's the same story but just a different place in it. This part's called "Nowhere Else."
You see, there are these three boys, good friends, who've grown up in the same town gone to school together and all. Let's see now there's Eric, Max and Alex. They live in a small town in New England where their lives are just about average for their ages. Yup! You've guessed it, they're just about to go off in a different direction. Now - for a change - instead of listening to my froggy old voice, I'll ask the boys to tell their own stories with their own voices. Eric's first:
So: Go on to the next section and Eric will continue:
PUSH BUTTON TO GO TO: Nowhere Else, Part 1.or if you need a rest
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