Friday, 26 September 2008

The Da Vinci Toad

Part 1:

“Dash it all” and “gosh confound it” and “fiddlesticks to spring cleaning” the mole thought to himself. “I don’t even know what season it is above my house right now, now is certainly not the time to fritter away my time doing all of this confounded spring-cleaning!” With a groan, he threw down his duster and scrabbled himself a small hole to the world outside, popping out into a European, continental breeze which cooled his face. Sniffing the fresh air with joy, the mole went off for what he felt was a long-deserved walk along the fields of the countryside. He made sure to sniff every flower and enjoy every new breeze which blustered past him, until he suddenly happened upon a river.

“Oh now, Ratty is going to be terribly upset to have missed out on this beautiful stream,” the mole said. “I’ll have to try and remember the way here so I can give him directions later. What a jolly old stream this is! It seems like such a delightful place for a boat-ride.” The mole scampered down to the bank of the river, and wandered along in perfect happiness. It was such a decent day, and to think he’d been cooped up in that smelly old home of his for so long!

There was a sudden parp of a horn behind him, and the mole jumped in shock as a bicycle whizzed on by him, occupied by a rather fat young creature dressed in full outfit and accessories. “Wheee!” shouted the creature. “Oh I say, wheee!”

The mole would recognise that high-pitched exclamation anywhere. “Toad? Toad, is that you?” he called out after the bicycle, but by now the toad had gone entirely out of hearing, and pedalled away furiously into the distance. “Well I wonder where Toad is going to in such a rush?” the mole asked himself. “I hope this isn’t going to be another of his hare-brained fads that he gets so excited about, before he moves on to the next thing. I had rather hoped he’d gotten over such silly hobbies.”

Forgetting all about the toad, he walked curiously away from the river and towards an odd new sound he could hear from beyond the willows. It was a dashed confounding sort of noise, like the sound of a hundred ants marching one-by-one in formation, a spectacle which the mole had long become used to down in his burrow, but which seemed completely out-of-place in the outside world. He pushed his way through the bull-rushes only to find that the hill dropped away sharply without any warning, and he soon found himself tumbling down the side of a hill, turning up over heads and under tails and all around in a bizarre fashion. Luckily he managed to steady himself once he reached the bottom, and he brushed the dust off his waistcoat. “What a silly mole I am!” he exclaimed. “Now I feel quite dizzy.”

He staggered forwards, but the sight in front of him made him stop and stare in awe. A large Thing, completely see-through and standing formidably against a line of buildings the like of which he had never seen before, was blocking his way forwards. Although he could see straight through the triangles, the mole found that when he tried to walk through them he banged his face on some unknown barrier. As is the very nature of moles, he cried out aloud when faced with such a new sight, and he burrowed underground then and there, tunnelling forwards enough that he would gain some strong distance between him and the Thing.

One the mole had calmed down, and this took him quite a while, he resurfaced again but found himself in an old building which reminded him somewhat of his own burrow, which he started to miss terribly. “What have I got myself into this time?” he wondered out loud, only to be stopped in his tracks by an entirely familiar-sounding voice:

“Don’t take one more step, old boy.”

The mole turned round with excitement, and confirmed that it was, indeed, his old friend the rat stood there in front of him, although he had forgone his traditional blazer for a long beige jacket and deerstalker cap. “Rattie? Is that you?”

The figure gasped audibly, and moved into the only light of the dim room, to get a closer look. “Mole, my dear friend, I don’t believe it! However have you managed to get to France?”

“France?” the mole squeaked, astonished. “I’m in France?”

“You are, old bean, you are quite in France. What a curious but welcome twist in proceedings! I could do with having a voice of reason here to help me show these fuddy-duddies who’s boss round here. What do you say, Mole? Fancy lending me a hand?”

“Oh, absolutely, Ratty!” the mole squeaked, clapping his hands together with enthusiasm. “What do you need help with?”

The rat turned slightly and nodded down at the floor, and the mole followed his friend’s gaze downwards to see a bloated figure stretched out on the floor, hands spread out in a star formation. It looked curiously familiar to the mole, who walked forwards timidly towards the body, only to blanche as it became clear to him what he was seeing. The corpse, lying flat on his back and with an odd carving scraped over his stomach, looked straight up at the ceiling in bulbous surprise. The rat walked over to put a hand on the mole’s shoulder in comfort.

“It’s Toad, Moley. Someone’s dissected him.”

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