THEN A PENGUIN WALKED IN #8

THE LONG-NOSED BANDICOOT - PART THREE
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“There is no time for long-winded explanations,” Harold said. “You must come with us now.”

“Yeah, that’s what needs explaining. I’m not in the habit of going off with people I’ve just met, much less shape-shifting leprechauns.”

“We are pixies, young man,” Vivian said, crossing her furry arms across her furry chest. “Pixies.”

Dominick had no clue what an angry bandicoot looked like, but he figured he was looking at one right now.

“Pixies, leprechauns, penguins, what does it matter?” Dominick said. “What matters is that two minutes ago I was secure in the knowledge that I would live till the end of my days having never had a conversation with a rat, and now this!” He gestured to the two of them.

Dominick Hanrahan’s freak out was well and truly on its way.

“You can’t just show up and expect me to go off to someplace I’ve never heard of with two — do I call you people?” Dominick’s voice rose to an octave normally reserved for fronting an 80’s hair metal band.

“You can call us pixies,” Harold said.

“It doesn’t matter!” Dominick let it rip. “The fact that you thought you could just show up out of the blue and expect me to leave with you is simply ridiculous, and frankly, more than a little offensive!”

“I saved your life,” Vivian said. “Does that not account for a little trust?”

“Besides,” Harold said, looking up at him with eyes like sad blue marbles. “Our people are dying.”

Dominick found that more than a little unfair. Yet, it had the desired effect. He sighed once, took a single deep breath, closed his eyes, and made himself relax. It wasn’t all that hard. Dominick had never been much of an angry person. He’d been known to dabble in quick bursts of harmless rage now and again, but in the end he’d always maintained a fairly calm demeanor.

“Look, I’m sorry I snapped at you, and I feel for whatever it is that’s happening to your people, but I don’t understand what you think I can do about it.”

“You are the One,” Vivian said.

“The One,” Harold echoed.

“The One?” If Dominick could arch an eyebrow, he would be doing so now.

“You are destined to protect the lands of Gund,” Vivian said. “The veil is weakening; the darkness will soon be on us.”

“Yes,” Harold said. “The darkness rises. Already Lord Hob has grown in power.”

“Hob?”

“Scourge of the West,” said Vivian

“Defiler of the East,” said Harold.

“Plague of the North,” said Vivian.

“Overlord of the South,” said Harold.

“King of the Nighttime World,” said Vivian.

“Lord Hob and his army are set to invade Haven,” said Harold.

“You must stop him,” said Vivian.

“How?” Dominick said. “How am I to do that? I work the fryers at a fast food place and you’re talking to me about defeating an army. This is insane.”

“You need not worry about Hob’s forces,” Vivian said. “The grand army of Haven will take care of them. It’s Hob himself. He is beyond our power.”

“Okay, so yeah. That’s the part I’m having a problem with. This guy can’t be beaten by an army, but you expect me to do it? What do you want me to do, stick his head in a fryer?”

“You are the One,” said Harold as if no other explanation was warranted.

“Only you can wield Arakis, the Black Sword of Power,” Vivian said, sensing that Dominick needed a little bit more.

Before Dominick could reply, a car roared around the back of the store. Luckily the driver was too busy texting to notice Dominick and the bandicoots, but just the same . . .

The problem with talking openly to a pair of bandicoots, apart from the obvious of course . . . No, not apart from the obvious, the obvious is the only problem, which is this: If said conversation is observed by anyone with even a moderate degree of sanity, your own mental state of mind will be immediately put into question. Your ability for rational thinking will be scrutinized and judgment will befall on you in such magnitude that in comparison the Great Chicago Fire will forever in your mind be looked upon unfairly as nothing more than a cozy night curled up in front of the fireplace with a good book and an even better bottle of wine.

Sensing on an instinctual level — the passing car didn’t hurt — that this was the case, Dominick took steps.

“Look, can you two take human form or something, someone’s going to call the Police if they see me out here talking with two big rats.

“Yes, of course,” Harold said.

Light surrounded the two bandicoots and they began to grow. The light shone with such intensity that Dominick had to shield his eyes. When he could see again he found himself facing Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift.

“Yeah,” he said. “I don’t think this is going to be any better.”

Here ends Chapter Two



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