By MeatLoaf the Happy Donkey
It was a very normal, summer afternoon at the Zoo of Harbour Town, Florida. Everything was in its place and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. The Zoo's vast array of books were neatly lined up on their shelves, all the tropical fish were adequately fed, and Theodore, a man who worked at the Zoo, was sitting at his desk, quietly reading a book. As he casually turned the page, the Zoo Keeper walked in.
"Oh, hello Mr. Smith." Said Theodore as he closed the book he was reading.
"Good day, Theodore." Said Mr. Smith. "I have a very important assignment for you. A few days ago a band of poachers stole a walrus from the North Pole and they were going to sell it to an ivory smuggler in Zimbabwe but the police caught them in Angolia. The police took the criminals but left the walrus because they weren't sure how to get it back to the North Pole. Of course this upset the Humane Society so they complained to the government until the government decided to reward anyone who returned the walrus to Antarctica with 2 million dollars."
"Let me guess." Said Theodore. "You want me to return the walrus."
"Yes." Said Mr. Smith. "And I also want you to film and observe the animal in Africa and in the North Pole. That way the walrus will be able to live a peaceful life back in its natural habitat and the Zoo will have lots of money and a video that the scientists can study and gain more knowledge about the animal. If you do this you will receive a 25% pay raise and a $200,000 bonus. Do you accept the assignment?"
"Yes!" said Theodore enthusiastically. "Of course!"
"Good!" said Mr. Smith. "We know that you cannot do this alone so we are allowing Steve, the new guy, to come along with you."
"You mean only one other person is coming with me? What about Professor Johnson?"
"He's on vacation in Indiana." Replied Mr. Smith.
"What about Katy?"
"She's studying Polar Bears in Canada."
"What about the janitor?" asked Theodore. "Surely even he would be able to come."
"No, actually he's taking the next two weeks off because he broke his arm in a bizarre accident involving a garbage truck."
"Oh," said Theodore. "So that's why nobody's emptied the trash cans for past 3 days!"
"Yes. But anyway, if you really want somebody else to come along, I think I might know of someone who can." Said Mr. Smith. Then he turned to the door and yelled "Come here, Maria!"
In walked a shy-looking, black-haired 7th grader.
"Remember that contest we were having where the winner gets to be zoo keeper for a day? Maria won but she says that coming along with you would be much more fun." Said Mr. Smith.
"Ok." Said Theodore. "But where's Steve?"
"Oh yeah!" said Mr. Smith. "I almost forgot about him! Come here, Steve!"
A tall man with light brown hair who was wearing a tan shirt and khaki pants walked in. His perfectly white teeth seemed to shine as he smiled his cheesy grin and said "G'day, mate!"
"Steve used to have his own show about reptiles and when the show was cancelled last season, he came to this zoo." Explained Mr. Smith. "Tomorrow I will give you $7,000 to pay for the expenses of getting the walrus to Antarctica and then you, Steve, and Maria will get on a boat and sail to Africa. Is that ok?"
"Yes." Said Theodore. "I think I'll go home and start packing my clothes now."
"Good!" said Mr. Smith. "Just remember to meet Steve and Maria here at the corner of the Zoo's parking lot tomorrow at 4:00."
"Why 4:00?" asked Theodore.
"Because that's when the limo is going to take you down to the harbor so you can find a boat to take you to Africa!" said Mr. Smith.
"Criky!" said Steve. "A real limo!"
"I never expected to do this kind of stuff when I filled out the entry form for the contest!" said Maria.
"That's really great, but why does it have to pick us up so early?" asked Theodore.
"It's a long story." Said Mr. Smith. "Just be there at 4:00, ok?"
"Oh, alright. I'll be there." Said Theodore as he stood up and walked out the door.
The next day, Theodore woke when he heard the high-pitched screeching of the alarm clock. He slowly reached over and pressed a small red button on the top of it. He wanted to continue sleeping but he knew that he must get ready to leave soon because it was already 3:15. He quickly got dressed, ate breakfast, picked up his suit case and walked over to the zoo. He didn't take the car because the zoo was within walking distance of his house and he knew that if he parked the car at the zoo and got on the limo, it would be a long time before he would return to the parking lot. And besides, if he left it at the zoo for more than 24 hours, it would probably be towed away at his expense.
As soon as he arrived at the zoo, Theodore saw Steve and Maria standing next to the lamp post at the corner of the parking lot. He quickly walked over to them and placed his suit case next to theirs.
"G'day, mate!" said Steve. "I can't wait to go on a limo!"
"Yeah," said Theodore. "I've never been on one, have you?"
"No." said Steve.
"I haven't either, but I have been on one of those." Said Maria as she pointed to a large yellow school bus that had stopped at the corner of the street.
The tiny, yellow door slid open and a fat old bus driver yelled out "Y'all folks going to the harbor?"
"Yes." Said Theodore. "But I thought a limo was supposed to pick us up!"
"It was," said the bus driver, "but it broke down again so the zookeeper called me a few minutes ago and told me to pick y'all up instead. So just pick up ya stuff and find a seat."
Theodore, Steve, and Maria picked up their luggage and climbed the steps to the bus. They walked all the way down to the very back of the bus and yelled out "There're no more seats left!"
"I don't know what bus y'all are used to riding," said the bus driver, "but on this bus we sit three to a seat!"
Theodore sat down in a seat next to Maria and a 2nd grader while Steve sat in the very back next to some highschoolers.
"That's funny," said Theodore to Maria. "I didn't know that buses picked students up as early as 4:00 in the morning."
"Early?!" said Maria in disbelief. "Most of my friends get picked up at 3:00!"
"You're lucky you even got picked up!" said the little 2nd grader. "The bus driver usually drives right by my friends' stop because it's so dark outside at 4:00 that she doesn't see them standing there. That's why most of the stops on this route are right next to lamp posts."
After this was said, Theodore looked at the back of the bus seat. It was brown with black and yellow graffiti all over it. Various words were scribbled there, and it looked as though someone had taken a pen and poked a smiley face! A few minutes later a terrible screeching noise was heard and a powerful jolt was felt throughout the bus.
"What was that?" yelled Theodore.
"I dunno, mate." Said Steve. "Let's get off this bus and see."
As soon as everyone exited the bus, they saw that the bus had indeed crashed. The bus driver had evidently swerved to the right to avoid hitting a deer and then ran over a fire hydrant and crashed into a lamp post.
"Oh well." said the Bus driver. "Looks like we'll have to walk to school."
Upon hearing this, the students stood in a line behind the bus driver and she led them down the street. The bus driver obviously crashed the bus often because the students were very calm and acted as though crashing a bus was a common as finding trash along the side of a highway.
Theodore and Steve stared with great curiosity at the students as they paraded along with their bus driver in the lead. When they finally marched over the horizon, Steve turned to Theodore and asked "What do we do now, mate?"
Theodore took a minute to look at his surroundings and then said "Since we're at the harbor, we should try and find a boat that will take us to Africa."
"That's a great idea! Let's see if that one can take us." Said Maria as she pointed to a large wooded ship floating next to the docks.
Steve, Theodore, and Maria quickly walked over to a large sign next to the boat that told where the boat was going and how much it would cost to be a passenger on it. Although it is very dark outside at 4:45 AM and the bus driver had ruined the nearest lamp post, there was enough light to tell that it would be too expensive to sail to Africa on that particular boat, so they looked at the sign for the next boat, which was also too expensive. They continued to read the signs for quite some time and just when they were about to give up, they saw a small, wooden, dilapidated boat sitting at the end of the dock. On either side of the boat there were gold peeling letters that read "The Sea Pearl's Revenge". Unlike the other boats, there wasn't a sign outside of it. There was only a small wooden plank used to walk onto the boat.
"I'm sure it wouldn't cost much to go on this boat." Said Theodore. "Let's go on there and talk to the Captain."
Theodore, Steve, and Maria went onto the boat and walked into a small cabin. It was a very cluttered space and the walls were covered with clocks and paintings. There was also a book case filled with books that looked as though someone had carelessly tossed them in. And up against the back wall was a large wooden desk covered with maps, pencils, books and papers. Sitting at this desk was a fat old sea captain with a white beard who was wearing a blue coat, a white shirt, and a sailor's hat. The captain had apparently dozed off while he was studying a map.
Theodore slowly approached the sleeping captain and yelled "Hey! Wake up!"
The captain woke up and yelled "Arg!" You'll never take me alive! Arg!"
"Whoa!" said Steve. "Calm down, mate!"
"Arg!" said the captain. "Why are ye here?"
"We're looking for a boat that will take us to Africa," said Maria, "but we don't have much money."
"Arg!" said the Captain. "Then ye have come to the right place! I'll take ye to Africa but you'll have to work fer it. Can ye peel potatoes?"
"Yes." Said Theodore.
"Arg!" said the Captain. "Then it's settled. Ye folks will peel potatoes on this boat and I'll take ye to Africa."
"When do we leave?" asked Theodore.
"Now!" yelled the captain.
Then Steve, Theodore, and Maria followed the captain as he ran up to the top of the boat and untied the ropes that attached the boat to the dock. Then the captain ran around dancing and singing. As Theodore watched this, he began to wonder just who this crazy sea captain was.
"Uh..." said Theodore. "What should we call you?"
The captain immediately stopped dancing and said, "Me name is captain."
"Captain what?" asked Theodore. "Captain Hook? Captain Crunch? Captain Falcon? What's the last part?"
"No." said the Captain. "Ye don't understand. Me name's Captain. Me father was a harpooner and me mother was a pirate and they both wanted me to grow up to be a sailor so they named me 'Captain'."
"Oh..." said Theodore. "So can we just call 'Captain'?"
"If ye want." Said Mr. Captain. "I'd best be showing ye your rooms so ye can unpack and start peeling potatoes."
Steve, Maria, and Theodore put their luggage into their room and went into the kitchen to peel the potatoes. They spent the first two days sitting on the kitchen floor peeling the potatoes and wondering why they hadn't seen anyone on board the ship except for it's captain. Then on the third day they woke up in the early morning when they heard a strange sound coming from outside. They quickly got dressed and wandered up to the deck where they found the Captain standing next to a Mexican guy who was waering blue jeans, a brown shirt, and a large sombrero. They were staring out at the ocean when a large column of water came spewing out. Then a large whale appeared out of murky water.
"Arg!" yelled the Captain to the Mexican guy. "There be the whale! We must harpoon it! Arg!"
"Criky!" said Steve. "Why do you have to harpoon the whale?"
"Because it ate Pinocchio!" replied the Captain angrily. "And everyone else on this ship! Arg!"
"Hola!" said Hans the Mexican.
"You're right, Hans!" said the Captain. "We should harpoon it now before it gets away!"
Then the Captain picked up a small harpoon with a long rope tied to the end. He tied the end of the rope to the bow of the ship and then threw the harpoon at the whale. When it hit the whale, it began to swim furiously and dragged the boat along with it. Theodore watched in amazement as the whale jumped up out of the water and landed among the waves with a great splash. For several hours the whale dragged the tiny boat behind it until it finally came to Africa. When the whale came near the shores of Angolia, it smashed the boat against some rocks and then swam away because the rope that was attaching the harpoon to the boat broke.
Theodore grabbed his suit case and swam to shore along with Steve, Maria, the Captain, and Hans.
"Hey!" said Maria. "This is the place where the walrus is supposed to be!"
"Yeah!" said Steve. "Now all we have to do is find it..."
Then the little group set out to look for the lost walrus. The searched the forests, by the rivers, near the mountains, and then they came to a wide open plain with a few oases of trees scattered about. They wandered around for a bit until they saw a brown speck of in the horizon. They ran to it and found that it was the walrus! It had huge white tusks and brown baggy skin.
Since they had to make a documentary, Theodore pulled his video camera out of his suitcase and began filming Maria and the walrus.
"Look at the walrus as he walks around on his hind flippers." Said Maria into the camera. "Although they are faster in the water, they can move quite quickly over land. If one of them chases after you, you will probably not survive because they are very big and strong."
The walrus did not seem to like being filmed because it turned around and ran towards the group. Theodore panicked, dropped the camera, and climbed up a tree with Maria, the Captain, and Hans. Poor Steve wasn't fast enough to make it to a tree.
"Criky! It bit me!" yelled Steve as he frantically tried to kick the walrus off of his leg.
Then Theodore threw a potato that he had "borrowed" when he was peeling potatoes at the walrus. The walrus immediately let go of Steve and went to gobble up the potato in one gulp. While the walrus was doing this, the Captain Tied a rope around its neck so they would be able to keep it on some kind of leash. The Captain always kept a good supply of ropes with him because the ropes on his ship were always breaking and you just never know when you might need one. Good sea captains always carry ropes with them.
A little while later, they managed to drag the walrus back to the sandy shore. Off on the horizon, they could see a little brown ship with a red and white sail. It slowly came closer and closer until they were only 20 feet from the shore.
"Hello!" said one of the people on the ship. "Ve are the Norveegian Vikings! Ve have come to conquer the North Pole! Ya!"
"But this isn't the North Pole." Said Theodore.
The Viking turned around to another Viking and said "I told you this isn't the right place, Olga."
"It's not her fault she can't read a map! Ya!" said another Viking who was wearing a metal helmet.
"Vell," said the Viking leader to Theodore. "Can you take us to it?"
"Sure!" said Theodore.
Theodore, Steve, Maria, the Captain, the walrus, and Hans climbed into the little Viking ship and in three days they reached the North Pole. When they arrived, they shoved the walrus onto the ice and filmed it again.
"This is the walrus in its natural habitat." Said Maria. "Watch how it dives down into the water and comes back up with food."
The walrus sat on the ice and ate all the fish it had just caught. Then it slowly climbed over to a rock and fell asleep.
"I think we're done now." Said Maria.
Theodore convinced the Vikings to take them back to Florida before they raided the North Pole. When the group got back to the zoo, Steve and Theodore received their money as promised, Maria went back to school, and Hans and the Captain got jobs at Sea World. They were in charge of taking care of the new whale: Shamoo. The new whale needed lots of attention because when they found it, it was about to die of fatigue and had a harpoon lodged in its back.
The next day the zoo was exactly like it was when Theodore left it: Calm and ordinary. When he came in the morning, he simply went back to his desk and quietly finished reading the book he began reading a while ago.