Chapter 2: The Mysterious Visitor
When they opened their eyes, it was morning. Christian said to Anthony, “Wow! I had the craziest dream. We were playing in Mo-Mo’s closet and then we found a-“
Then he stopped, because it was becoming obvious that it wasn’t a dream, and they were somewhere and the mouse, the key, and the map and the book, and rope were still there on a flat rock by a stream but Anthony was nowhere to be found.
“Anthony!” Christian shouted. “Where are you?”
Christian scanned his eyes wildly all around him. He started running towards a line of trees, but tripped on a root and went sprawling. “Ouch!” He sat up and inspected his elbows and knees.
When he looked from his knees to the ground, he saw the mouse staring at him and making squeaking noises. “What do you want? And how come I can’t understand you?”
The mouse glared at him, and dragged the key towards him with his tail, then launched it at him with a neat flip into his hand.
As soon as the key touched his hand, he understood the squeaking and the words came tumbling at him.
“If you’re done tripping about, you can see that your brother is coming back with a fishing net he made from the willow vines he found.”
“Anthony!” This time Christian said his name with great relief. “I thought this was all a dream, then you were gone, and now we’re here, and …boy am I hungry!”
Anthony did not look in the least worried. In fact, he looked happy and at home, as if he had been always ready to jump into an adventure and this was as natural as sitting down and eating pie at Thanksgiving dinner.
“Let’s catch some fish for breakfast,” said Anthony beaming. “I got so hot collecting all of these vines, I really want a swim first.”
“A swim?” said Christian. “In that water?”
“Sure,” said Anthony, “Why not? It looks clean and deep blue and refreshing,” he said cheerfully.
Christian eyed the water suspiciously. “Do you think it’s safe?”
“Only one way to find out! Last one in’s a bonified moron, puke breath.” And then he was off racing to the water.
Christian said, “Wait Anthony! Don’t you think we should…?”
Splash! “…think about it?”
“Too late, bonified moron…” He said splashing happily at Christian.
“Stop,” Christian said grouchily…”you can’t make me go in!”
Then suddenly Anthony started screaming, “Christian, Christian! Help me…!”
Horrified, Christian grabbed the rope and jumped in to help Anthony.
“Ha! Gotcha in, moron! Ha! Ha! Ha!” said Anthony splashing Christian wildly.
“You are the dweebiest, frog breath, ape-fart brother!” shouted Christian, relieved and angry all in one breath.
“I knew you’d never get in if I didn’t do that,” said Anthony.
“That would be accurate, arm-pit boy!”
Seeing that his brother was fine, Christian swam to shore and put the rope with the map and the book and the key. Then he jumped back in, making sure to splash Anthony in the face with a cannon ball.
“It’s great though, don’t you think?” said Anthony looking at Christian, who was now inspecting his elbows.
“I don’t know yet bro. I miss mom and dad and Mo-Mo. I’m also really hungry… and gosh, my elbows are healing. This water makes me feel better. My knees have stopped bleeding.
“Whoa, dude, what are you saying? Let me see…”
While Anthony and Christian were inspecting his elbows and knees, they heard an excited squeaking on the shore.
“Hey, little dudie mouse-guy. What’s happening, little friend?”
The mouse started jumping up and down on its back legs, squeaking and chattering, his whiskers wildly wind milling back and forth on his little pink nose.
“Come on, Anthony. Let’s see what the little dude wants.”
They splashed their way out of the water, and followed his little white wiggly body towards the flat rock where they had left the map, the key, the book, and the rope. They gasped when they saw that everything was gone!
“What the…?” Anthony stood there dripping and angry. Christian just stood there in disbelief. “What are we going to do now?” thought Christian. A deep sadness encircled his heart, because he thought that the rope may be the only way to get back home to Mo-Mo’s attic. Fear iced his thoughts when he thought of home being somewhere they may never be again. Christian always liked the fantasy of going on an adventure, but this felt too real. There would be no turning off the adventure when it was time for a hug and a chocolate chip cookie break.
Christian looked down. The mouse was squeaking and clicking excitedly. “I guess we won’t be able to understand this little guy without the key…”
Anthony was staring straight ahead. Like a Labrador retriever with a bird in his sight. Christian followed Anthony’s gaze toward the woods at a plume of smoke rising up from what looked like a campfire.
“Let’s go check it out,” said Anthony.
“Oh brother, my brother,” said Christian exasperatedly. Would he ever just stop and think things over?
But he was already striding off to see what was going on. “Do you think this is like the Magic Tree House books, or something, Anthony? This is real, and we could be in danger, don’t you think?”
“I don’t know,” he said, not stopping to look back.
Christian ran up to him and they reached the campfire at the same time, and were surprised to see a small pot with what looked like soup hanging from a wire over the fire. It was streaming out a wonderful aroma of potatoes and meat and herbs.
“Who do you think belongs to this? Maybe they are the ones who stole our stuff,” said Christian.
Just then, the bushes made a rustling sound, and Christian and Anthony both moved back a few steps, in case something popped out at them. When they backed up, they bumped into each other and knocked heads together. They both laughed uneasily at the others clumsiness.
“Hello?…” Christian called out hesitantly. “Is anyone there?”
Anthony said, “That sure smells good. Maybe we can just try some food. We could just take a little and they would never know.”
“Maybe it’s a trap, Anthony. We should go.”
“But we haven’t found our stuff yet, and they might know where it is, or maybe they are the ones who took it.”
Anthony reached out to the soup kettle, when there was a movement and an arrow landed on the wood stick holding the kettle above the fire, with a sudden “thwip!” It landed neatly between Anthony’s thumb and forefinger.
“AAAAH!” Screamed Anthony as he fell backward onto Christian. His eyes were wide with terror and surprise. Christian shouted, “Run Anthony!” and grabbed his shirt and pulled him backward away from the fire and toward the stream again. They both scrambled backward and ran as fast as they could toward the flat rock that was their home base.
When they reached the rock, Jack the mouse was there wagging his tail furiously at them and squeaking away. Both Christian and Anthony collapsed in fear and exhaustion, hiding behind the long stalks of grass and weeds near the stream.
They waited there for a long time not daring to move. When they finally had the courage to peek up above the grass, they saw a man sitting quietly on the flat rock. He seemed to be waiting for them. “Hello,” he said. “I am sorry that you were frightened. I had fixed breakfast and was intending to invite you over to share it together. Come, do not fear. You must be very hungry after your long journey here.”
Anthony stepped out first, “That was not a very friendly invitation, Mister!”
Christian was pulling Anthony to say back, but ended up following Anthony over to the man. “You could have killed him. Why should we trust you?”
“Oh, that wasn’t me. I assure you that you are perfectly safe. That was my young Protégé. You are not in danger.”
“Your Protégé? What does that mean? Who are you? Where are we? Why are we here? What is going on? How do we go home? Did you steal our stuff? Christian poured out the questions angrily to the man.
The man’s face clouded with the mention of stealing their things. Then his face cleared, and his eyes returned to their unwavering stare that was neither welcoming nor forbidding, just penetrating.
Anthony said, “What’s for breakfast?”
The man laughed and said, “Turnip root stew. It is delicious and very healing. Come, trust me and it will become clearer.”
He stood very tall. His robed figure struck a mysterious picture as he started walking back to the campfire. Anthony picked up the squeaking protesting Jack, and started to follow the man.
“Anthony, are you crazy?” Christian whispered aggravated.
“I’m hungry, let’s go.”
“Yeah, you and Anakin.”
“Who do you think you are? Luke?”
“Yeah, and the mouse is Chewie. Come on, Christian. I’m hungry.”