THEN A PENGUIN WALKED IN #6

THE LONG-NOSED BANDICOOT - PART TWO
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The arctic bird was about two feet tall. Beyond that Dominick didn’t know enough about penguins to identify its species. It paused just inside the door, looking from Dominick to the lizard man. If he didn’t know any better, Dominick would swear the bird was studying the situation, assessing, working things out in its head.

“You!” The lizard man said. Then he dropped Dominick unceremoniously onto the floor and pulled its sword.

Dominick scrambled out from between the two animals.

Then, without even the tiniest bit of fanfare, a sword appeared in the penguin’s hand — well, flipper — and it leaped into the air, brandishing the tiny blade. It was a blur of movement as it attacked the lizard man, jumping this way and that, flipping about like a gymnast in a tuxedo. Dominick found it hard to follow the penguin but had no trouble spotting the blood that dripped from numerous cuts all over the lizard man’s body.

The lizard man, try as it might, couldn’t defend itself against such a small, flying, ball of fury and steel. It swung its massive sword here and there, never connecting with the penguin. Then the lizard man was on its knees, its head bowed. The sword fell from its hands and crashed to the concrete floor.

The penguin stood before it. It raised its sword once more, this time as some sort of salute, then finished the lizard man with one, quick jab to the heart. The penguin stepped back as the lizard man collapsed in death.

The room was quiet. The only thing Dominick could hear was the sound of his own breathing. He kept his eyes glued to the penguin. The bird’s tiny sword disappeared as it turned to him. Dominick backed away a step, halted only by the wall behind him.

The penguin did not advance. It merely made a motion with its flipper. A motion meant to convey its desire for Dominick to follow. Then it turned and waddled its way out of the basement, where it vanished from view.

Dominick remained on the floor, petrified. What should he do? He’d grown up being told never to go anywhere with a stranger. But no one had ever mentioned penguins. Besides, it had saved his life.

His mind made up, Dominick stood and followed the penguin from the room.

He found the penguin outside. It hadn’t gone far. It leaned against the back wall of The Happy Hamburger, flippers crossed in front of its chest.

“Thank Bose that I have found you at last,” the penguin said.

“You can talk?” Dominick said.

“Of course I can talk.” Its voice reminded Dominick of one of those animated chipmunks.

“But, you’re a penguin.”

“Actually, I’m a pixie.”

“A pixie?”

“That is correct. One of the faerie folk. I am called Vivian,” the penguin held out its flipper, offering to shake.

“Vivian?”

“Yes.”

“Vivian the pixie?”

“Yes. I am a pixie. I am called Vivian.” If a penguin could be said to smile, Vivian was doing just that.

“But you look like a penguin.”

“Yes, yes I do. Well spotted. I chose a form that would allow me to blend in with your world. I didn’t want to cause any undo excitement or mental trauma to your people.”

“You chose the form of a penguin?”

“You like to repeat things, don’t you? Is that a typical human trait in your world, or are you having cognitive issues?”

“Well, it’s just that we don’t have any penguins in Kansas outside of a zoo.”

“The penguin is not native to your land?” Vivian said, looking a bit concerned.

“No, not at all,” Dominick said.

It had suddenly occurred to Dominick that he was handling this current situation with the utmost of aplomb. Anyone else would be freaking out under such circumstances, but not Dominick. It made him feel more than a bit proud of himself, which was, he had to admit, an odd feeling.

That was when the other penguin appeared.

“Vivian, what is going on?” the second penguin said. “Is it him? Is he the One? Have you given him a sword already?”

“Yes he is, Harold,” said Vivian. “And no, I’ve not given him a sword. There appears to be some confusion in the matter of our disguises that I am trying at the moment to work out.”

“What’s wrong with our disguises?”

Dominick seemed to have been forgotten for the moment. This was a shame as he found himself practically itching to ask about this sword he was supposed to be given.

“It appears,” Vivian said. “That the penguin is not indigenous to this particular region.”

“But Rick said–”

“Rick was wrong then, wasn’t he?” Vivian interrupted.

“Look,” Vivian turned to Dominick. “Would you mind just waiting here for a moment while we get this all sorted out?”

“Um, no . . . Er, did you say something about a sword?”

But he received no response as Vivian and the penguin she had called Harold waddled away.

To be continued . . .



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