Pig Tales


Pigtales Map2I have written this book over the last 10 years. I am currently writing the next in the series.
Please enjoy!

Thanks to Myke Mollard for the map.

Pig Tales

In which Twinkie, Zanzibah and a very polite little girl called Mon, visit a Dragon. 

BY G. FYSH RUTHERFORD

INSPIRED BY THE PHOTOGRAPHY OF TOMEK SIKORA

World Copyright 2014 by Fysh Rutherford

INTRODUCTION:

There once lived a little girl called Monica. That’s what she was called but no one called her that. They all called her Mon.

Mon was an only child who lived with her mother while her father was away in the war. She had long blond ringlets that cascaded over her shoulders. They framed a round happy face with a button nose as a centerpiece, a full lipped smile and two deep blue eyes that could hide no lies. She was quite physically strong for her age, which probably came from her joy of rope swinging, tree climbing and swimming.

Above all, she was and extremely well behaved and polite little girl.

Her best friends in the whole world were Twinkie and Zanzibah, two teenage pigs who lived just three houses down the road from her house.

Twinkie was a spritely spiky black haired pig. An athletic type – thin and fast. No matter how he tried, his hair always looked unruly to the point of being a mess. But his smile was wide and his energy infectious. He was a “Hail fellow well met” pig.

Zanzibah, on the other hand, was a learned young chap. His white bristled hair was always in place and gave him a look of distinguished intelligence. His eyes were bright to the point of sparkling but with deep dark centers that shone with the knowledge that lurked behind them. Zanzibah was as smart and as neat as a pig could be.

The pigs and Monica had grown up together so the fact that they were good friends was no surprise. The fact that they were pigs that spoke and behaved like humans in most ways may be a surprise. But that is what they were – talking, walking, laughing and genuinely jolly young pigs.

This was the land of Ganamede, and most things could talk in Ganamede. They all spoke Ganamedian, which was a soft poetic language that almost sang itself off the tongue. This story tells of one of the many adventures that Mon and the pigs had before Mon’s father came home from the war and put an end to all their wanderings.

To make it easy for the reader, the story has been translated from Ganamede, although it is hoped that the poetic subtleties have not been lost in translation, the overall poetic pentameter has been misplaced.

Fysh Rutherford


CHAPTER 1

Little piggies went to town

 

Imagine being a pig.

Imagine being a pig that is named Zanzibah.

The day is sunny. Just the kind of day for a stroll around the local market with your best friends. That is how two pigs named Zanzibah and Twinkie and a little girl named Mon, came to be doing just that – strolling around the market. All about them there was screaming and yelling. “Hot fudge. Get your piping hot fudge.”

Zanzibah’s piggy ears pricked up.

“Hot fudge. Hot heaven on a stick more like it!” he sweetly thought.

“Carrots cheap, cheap carrots,” came another call.

“Cheap carrots by the bunch.”

“Carrots on which to munch is more like it,” news-flashed Twinkie’s mind.

“What can my piggy pals be thinking?” thought Mon.

Like moths to a candle, the pair of pigs fluttered about. From this stall to that, lead by ears then snout, eyes darted about and gleamed with excitement.

In no time at all, their piggy pennies were duly spent and much piggy slurping and munching followed.

Mon ate a crisp fresh apple but without a single slurp. She was a young lady who had been bought up with manners!

The sun shone and the girl and pigs wandered on. Done with eating they slowly began taking in more than just the culinary delights of the market.

Only then did a jolly jester dancing and singing catch their eye. He sang songs of Spring Rites. Of the Maypole and the Dance of Dawn. He told tales and ditties of lands so far and deeds so brave. And he held their interest longer than anyone before.

“Any requests?” he finally called.

“A pig song,” squeaked Mon without a pause.

“A pig song? A pig song!” slowly repeated the jester allowing himself time to rattle through the long list of songs filling his filing cabinet brain.

Suddenly a grey drawer opened and out popped a song.

“Little piggies went to town,

Riding on a wagon…”

Twinkie danced about chirping “More, more.”

“Yes yes, it’s coming,” replied the jester. “It’s on its way.”

“Little piggies went to town,

To visit the big dragon.”

Zanzibah’s excitable side lit up like all of Christmas.

“Visit a dragon! We can visit a dragon. Where is this town where pigs can visit a dragon?” he shrilled.

“Town?” spluttered a taken-aback jolly jester. “Well there’s a town ten days that way,” he continued with a flick of the finger.

“That way Twinkie, on your way Mon” cried Zanzibah as he pushed Twinkie and nudged Mon in the general direction the jester had pointed.

“Huh? What which way?” questioned a teetering Twinkie.

“Watch that pointy pointer if you may.’ complained Mon.

“That way I say,” said Zanzibah and with that he nudged Mon and grabbed Twinkie by the trotter and trotted off.

“Don’t you want to hear the last verse?” yelled the jester.

“We’re off to see a dragon,” yelled back Zanzibah, “No time for silly songs.”

“I’d like to hear it,” thought Mon feeling like she was missing the rest of her request.

“I’d like to hear it,” wheezed William Weasel from the edge of the gathered crowd.

“So would I?” exclaimed Twinkie as he was dragged away.

“Hear what?” replied the jester.

“The rest of your silly pig song,” said the weasel.

“Oh that. Arrh, Let me see…” thought the jester aloud.

“The dragon had a fiery breath.

Huff Huff Bar-B-Qued pork.

That’s it. That’s how it goes now.

Little piggies went to town,

Riding on a wagon.

Little piggies went to town,

To visit the big dragon.

The dragon had a fiery breath,

Huff Huff Bar-B-Qued pork.

Huff Huff Bar-B-Qued pork!”

And with that the crowd was reduced to a laughing, screeching mess.
When she heard the roar, Mon looked back. If only she had heard more but it was all too late. Zanzibah was a pig with a purpose and Twinkie was his only disciple. And Mon was their best and possibly only friend in the entire world. Wherever they were going, she would go to, but all she could think about was the trouble they were sure to find there.

Because that is all two pigs in a tizz always did – find trouble.

 

Imagine that.

 

CHAPTER 2

Life on the road

 

Life on the road was not that bad.

At least the first fifteen or sixteen minutes of it.

There was no sign of traffic or anything else, so our piggie pair and our girl so fair were playing on and off the open road. Skipping and dancing. Happy to be pigs and a pal. And happy with the song of the Jolly Jester singing and dancing around and around in their heads.

“Little piggies went to town. Little piggies went to town.”

Even Mon sang it at the top of her lungs. Zanzibah’s enthusiasm was truly infectious.

If Zanzibah had had his way they would have and should have been miles away. But Twinkie, although now also very excited at the prospect of visiting a real live dragon, had forced Zanzibah to detour to his house to pick up the essentials for such a journey.

“I need my fly swat and you Zanzibah, need your fan,” pleaded Twinkie.

“I need to get out of this town toot-quick my Twinkie dear,” pleaded Zanzibar back at him.

“Food food!” begged Mon, not forgetting the sight of five fine carrots being scoffed in a moment, mere moments before. “A pig needs food and so do I. And we need to take a torch. What will we do in the dark if we have no torch?”

“We’ll light a fire you foolish fellow. A nice bright fire. Oh what fun we have begun,” yelled Zanzibah who was by now quite away ahead.

“We don’t even have any matches Zanzibah,” cried a twitching Twinkie Pig.

“Or a map, or a hat, or some spare clothes and spare shoes.” added an ever-sensible Mon girl.

Suddenly Zanzibah stopped in his trot. A huffing puffing Twinkie and Mon caught up with a “or any…” in unison, but before they could add another necessity for a pig and person on parade, Zanzibah interrupted with “Food. You’re so right Mon One. We need some food!”

The detour had taken half a day.

They had gone to Twinkie’s house and bickered and bartered over what he should pack and then they’d gone over to Zanzibah’s house to repeat the whole performance.

In the end they had both finally realized that a pig could only carry what a pig can carry.

The visit to Mon’s house was so much quicker because she refused to argue with either pig and she knew from the outset just what she could carry.

But, as they had never ever journeyed any further than the market they had just come from, none of them really knew what to take.

If you or I had seen inside their cases and bags we would have laughed.

Twinkie had a thimble but no needle or thread. Zanzibah had a spare set of batteries but nothing that needed them. There was a cabbage and two lemons in Mon’s shoulder bag. Zanzibah had two bottles of hair cream. Three socks. No spare underwear! A book about understanding the meaning of gold fish tails. They had no soap and Mon had a toothbrush for all of them to share with no intention of doing so!!!

Twinkie had his faithful fly swat. Zanzibah had his fan. And both of them had a permanent smile.

Mon had a slight smile – only the thought of impending and potential trouble stopped her having a permanent smile as well.

So here they finally were. Singing, smiling and heading down the long endless road.

You could say that life on the road wasn’t that bad after all.

 

CHAPTER 3

Why you or I or pigs can’t fly

 

The long and endless road had run out about an hour back.

Everyone had sore feet and Zanzibah had a sore back.

“I think it’s the right way,” moaned Twinkie.

“I thought you were leading?” groaned Mon.

“Zanzi told me to go straight ahead,” replied Twinkie.

“And did you?” sighed Zanzibah.

“I did.”

“Then we did. And we’re all going the right way,” concluded Zanzibah. “So let’s keep going that way and we’ll still be right. All right!!!” he further concluded with a sligh foot stomp.

“Right,” muttered Twinkie with just a slight twinge of disbelief.

“What’s left but right? Oh, do we have to walk?” added Mon

“No Mon Two Legs, we could crawl,” replied Zanzibah as he stopped and stretched his aching back, “Although I do feel that would be somewhat slower. Then again, I suppose we could break into a jolly trot. That would be quicker, but I suspect, a lot more pain filled. I’m afraid Mon dear, when you look at it all, up and down, back and forth, I do believe with a resounding yes and yes again, we do have to walk!”

Then Zanzibah let out a long mournful moan and sat down.

“No Zanzibah,” chirped Twinkie not having the tiniest twinkling that his piggy pal was making fun of them, “No, I know we can’t crawl or trot or run or jump our way to where ever our way is, but we can fly?”

“Fly?” stammered Zanzibah. “Fly in the sky like a fly or a bird or a whatever else flies. Fly? Twinkie old Bee, I tell you pigs can’t fly.”

“And I tell you Twink the Stink, I can’t fly as well and I’ve got arms that can flap and all.” added a stern young well grounded Mon girl.

“Pigs can’t take a journey to distant towns but we are,” argued Twinkie.

“Flying! Pigs Fly! Not now, not never, no way,” laughed Zanzibah.

“I’m with you on that one.” sighed Mon in support.

“Pigs don’t have suitcases and girls as friends. But we do,” argued Twinkie some more. “Pigs haven’t…”

“Pigs can’t fly!” stomped Zanzibah in a tone of voice he hoped would put an end to these frivolous piggy persuasions.

“Look Zanzibar, and you too Mon my dearest friend, help me up this tree,” pleaded Twinkie.

“No.” they both replied.

“Pleeese.”

“Will it shut you up?” offered Mon.

“Pleeesee please.”

So Zanzibah, aching back and all and Mon with her soar feet gave Twinkie a bunk up the tree.

Twinkie grabbed a high branch. Zanzibah moved away as Mon reached up in case Twinkie fell. And there Twinkie hung and swung.

“Look, I’m flying,” he cried to the ground-bound duo below.

“No you’re not. You’re just hanging from a tree,” scoffed the lower pig.

“That’s a matter of opinion and you know it Zanzibah!” said Twinkie as he swung to and fro and to again.

“Opinion, my bunion! It’s a fact and facts, unlike pigs, can fly in the face of fiction.”

But no sooner had he got these words passed the end of his oh-so knowledgeable snout that Twinkie sprouted wings and flew off into the sky.

Zanzibah stood on the ground flabbergasted, speechless and almost shocked.

Mon, who was going to interject as well, stood there with her mouth wide open but with nothing coming out except escaping air.

They both could only look up, then at each other and then up again.

And they had both run out of wisdom, and for that matter, words to put it in.

 

CHAPTER 4

Close your eyes and imagine

 

Now Zanzibah knew a lot, but he also knew there was quite a lot he did not know. He knew that where there was no rhyme there was no reason. And Mon had explained that where there was a reason it didn’t always rhyme.

What he didn’t know and neither did Mon, was that where there is no road, there is also no reason as well. And of course it follows that where there is no reason there is also no reason why not.

That is why when Twinkie had no reason to believe he was not flying, he actually was.

If either Zanzibah or Mon had known that, it all would have been quite reasonable. As it was though, a pig flying was quite unreasonable but there was not a lot they could do about it.

“If you believe you are flying then you are.” reasoned Twinkie hovering above Zanzibah like some porcelain pig on a party wall.

“I simply believe I can fly and I can fly!”

“I don’t believe it,” poo-bahed Mon firmly attached to Terra firma.

“Why don’t you come up and try Mon. Come on Zanzi. Try and fly,” pleaded the pig pilot.

“Why don’t you come down,” bleated Zanzibah. “I’m scared.”

“And now!” added Mon.

“You believe I’m flying don’t you?” questioned Twinkie as he zoomed down to be horizontal with the ground bound pig and girl.

“Yes you’re flying but we don’t believe it,” replied Zanzibah angrily, as he took a swinging swat at Twinkie as if he were some annoying buzzing insect.

Twinkie flapped off as the piggy paw passed precariously close to his snout.

“Look you two,” he pleaded, “Close your eyes and imagine you were me.”

“I’d rather imagine I were flying than imagine I were you,” blurted a now extremely perplexed and bemused little girl.

“Well for heaven’s sake, close your eyes and both imagine that,” said the pig from the heavens.

So Zanzibah, who knew a lot and didn’t know a lot and little Mon, who knew a lot more but didn’t let on, closed their eyes and when they opened them, both knew what it was like to fly.

 

CHAPTER 5

The fingers of a Smiling Tree

 

All three flapped their wings without even knowing.

They’d been flying for a few hours give or take a minute or two. None of them had really concentrated on where they’d been flying but fortunately it had been in the right direction.

As they had floated along Zanzibah kept insisting that pigs could not fly. Twinkie had argued that as they were flying they could fly. Mon simply wondered how they could. And all the while, time flew by.

“As we’re the only ones who know we’re flying, how do you know we’re right?” hollered Zanzibah.

“We all can’t be wrong,” yelled Twinkie from just inside a passing cloud.

“We can’t see that you’re flying now,” observed Mon.

Twinkie stuck his head out of the side of the frail fluffy ball, peered down and yelled. “What do you think’s keeping me up here this thin veil of vapour.”

“Oh come down here so I can talk sensibly Twinkie,” pleaded Zanzibah.

“Sensibly? Sensibly? Here we go. I teach you how to fly and all you do is spend the last two hours decrying it. You call that sensible?” yelled Twinkie as he tumbled out of the cloud and glided down to a hovering stop in front of Mon and Zanzibah.

Zanzibah who was really still having trouble with the whole concept of flight, wiggled his arms and legs attempting to pull back.

“Twinkie,” he pleaded. “I know we’re flying but I just can’t believe that two pigs and a human companion, who simply want to go and see a dragon can, on a whim and wish, get up and fly there.”

“So you don’t believe it?” replied an angry Twinkie. “Neither of you believe any of it? I’ll show you what happens if you don’t believe it.”

 

Twinkie stopped hovering about and screamed at the top of his piggy voice. “I don’t believe I can fly.” With that his wings disappeared and he fell to the ground, well almost the ground.

Zanzibah, on seeing that Twinkie could no longer fly, really truly believed he could not fly and so earth bound he went as well.

Mon, without even giving it a little thought, quickly followed.

There they hung. Caught in the gentle long fingers of a Smiling Gum Tree.

“Satisfied, both of you?” questioned Twinkie.

 

CHAPTER 6

The sleeping slug

 

Smiling Gums Trees are a beautiful tree.

The graceful lady of the bush, they wave at every one who passes. They sing in the sun and hum to the moon. They let caterpillars and small birds and tiny mice and butterflies and bees all make a home in their arms. They smile no matter what, even when ants walk up and down their backs. When two pigs and one small person arrive from above without a whistle or a honk and land smash crash into the softest finger tips of a Smiling Gum, the Smiling Gum does not lose her gleeful graceful grin not once, not even for a moment.

You would be a smidge surprised no doubt, if two piggy travellers complete with suitcases and assorted expedition extras landed on you. And were then followed by a somewhat pretty young thing with a shoulder bag and a gentile, well-mannered shriek.

But the Smiling Gum simply smiled and quickly dispatched our travellers back on their feet and long before she could properly greet them, engage them or warn them, was waving them goodly-bye.

You see our pigs had quite forgotten their manners and Mon, who did remember them always, did not have time to remind them of the manners they had forgotten.

Zanzibah was so delighted that he convinced Twinkie they couldn’t fly he leapt about singing. “See see see, pigs can’t fly. See see see, a pig in the sky, he will surely fall and die.”

“Oh shut up,” said Twinkie.   Then he realised that that was the first time he had ever yelled at his dearest friend. So he forgot about flying and started crying.

“Oh don’t cry,” sighed the Smiling Gum.

“Oh I’m sorry,” cried Zanzibah.

“Oh dearie me.” Exclaimed Mon.

“Oh let’s go,” said Twinkie.

“Good bye,” sighed the tree.

“Thank you beautiful tree.” waved Mon.

“Follow me comrades Twink and Mon,” commanded Zanzibah.

Had they realised what was next in store for them they may have stayed and had a chat to the Smiling Gum Tree.

She would have warned them about the very large, bigger than big, humungous and more than slightly huge, land slugs that slowly roamed the area.

Not that there was much to be warned about. Land slugs were generally quite friendly. All you had to know was to look out for them. They were so mountainously big you could walk past one and never see it or know it was lurking there.

So when our travellers passed a rather small land slug they didn’t know and either did it. It just passed the time sleeping in the late afternoon sun.

 

CHAPTER 7

A yawn of huge proportions

 

It had dawned on Zanzibah that it was late afternoon. That, he further thought, explained his desire for a nap. He had felt like a nap all day, but now as a golden glow oozed over the flat landscape, he looked about for somewhere to curl up and snore.

“I’m feeling a bit tired,” yawned Twinkie.

“I’m, down right exhausted,” sighed Mon.

“Really, I could walk on for hours,” fibbed Zanzibah, rubbing in the joy of being back on his feet.

“We should be looking for somewhere to sleep,” said Twinkie, only this time with a long drawn out yawn of huge proportions.

“Two against one Zanzi.” Added Mon.

“All right, if you insist. If it’s a must,” spluttered Zanzibah trying to suppress his own yawn of huge proportions.

“That mountain. Over there! I’m sure we’ll find a suitable place to sleep. There,” pointed Twinkie.

With a nod and an eye rub, Zanzibah gave his precious approval and the tired travellers trotted then strolled toward the towering monolith.

Twinkie was right. Sure enough as soon as they arrived they found a cosy cavern half way up the face of the mountain. They clambered up to exhausted to take in the worldwide view from their new perch. Then they curled up. A large pig each side of a small girl to protect her from whatever.

‘Whatever,’ came as a gentle wind that kept blowing in then blowing out of their panoramic resting place.

They were so sleepy they completely ignored this strange phenomenon and all three slipped off into the dream zone.

The ever-so-big land slug completely ignored the flea like creatures climbing his face.

It was so sound asleep it even ignored the tickling sensation it now had in its right nostril as the unsuspecting parasites made it their bed.

Instead it gently snored on and dreamt of rain. Glorious rain that turned the land into mud. Mud that a land slug could roll and wiggle in. Squirm and squiggle in. Mud in which it could slide to a new location.

Land slugs needed rain to move about and there had not been any rain about in about a year.

So all our slumbering slug could do was sleep. And all Twinkie, Zanzibah and Mon wanted was to do was the same.


CHAPTER 8

Slow conversations

 

It was not Mon and the pigs that woke the slug, it was their fire. Zanzibah had thought a cup of tea would be just the thing to wake Mon and surprise Twinkie.

He rummaged in his case. Grabbed his boiling pot. Cut a few of the strange sticks that grew all about in the hole. Heaped them in a heap and lit them.

With a sniff of its own nasal hair on fire the land slug, not so sluggishly, awoke.

With a single gulp of air it sneezed and blew a shocked Zanzibah, a snoring Twinkie and a dozing Mon far enough away for Twinkie to stop dreaming about flying, wake up and realise he was doing it again, and for Mon to forget all her manners and screamed a rude word. When the tumbling trio finally hit the ground, a laughing Zanzibah tried to explain what had just happened.

“We were asleep in its nose,” he jabbered.

“Asleep in what’s nose?” muttered Mon as she dusted herself down.

“Whose nose?” stammered Twinkie as he shuffled about and checked that he was himself and still had everything that made up who he was.

“That thing over there, we were asleep in its nose,” stammered Zanzibah.

“That hill, has a nose,” started Twinkie as he wiggled his own nose to see that it worked and wound his whiskers back into shape.

“That’s no hill, that’s a giant something or other and we have just been sneezed from its rather large nostril,” said Zanzibah rather coherently.

“Sneezed at like peppered pig,” completed Twinkie.

“You mean to stand there smiling like that mountain behind you and tell us that you let me go to sleep in a nostril. Call me Mon you may but will I will never trust you to do anything else, never.” yelled Mon still slightly minus her famous manners.

She was about to stomp off in a big huff when what she just said caught up with itself in her brain.

“Smiling like that mountain?” questioned Twinkie at the instant that Mon repeated the same words.

Twinkie spun on the spot like a shiny spinning top and stared jaw-slack at the massive mountain smiling down at him.

Zanzibah looked up just as it said, “Helloooo.”

The sound swept all around them like a gust of wind.

“Hellooo,” it said again and the pigs and Mon trembled more from the deep noise that from the horror of it all.

 

“Are youuu the oneees whooo made meee sneeeze?”

 

And the whole hill sneezed again. Grass and dust swirled about and the wind that followed all most knocked the trio of travellers to the ground once again.

“Sorryeee,” and land slug let fly with yet another sneeze.

 

Finally, in a slow slurring sandstone voice it said, “That’s it. Nooooo mooore Sneeezeeeesss.”

 

“Who are you?” was all Twinkie could say.

 

“Sir Elgarrrrr, the last of the land slugggggs. Waiting, waiting,

waiting for rainnnn.”

 

And so our big pigs and our little girl entered into one of the slowest and most amazing conversations any of them had ever had.

Sir Elgar told them tales from the All Rain Time when land slugs were plentiful. Each tale took two hours. It even took fifteen minutes between tales for the land slug to draw breath.

Finally the pigs got round to their story while Mon listened on.

“We’re off to see a dragon,” yelled Zanzibah.

“Which way do you think we should go?” followed Mon.

“Looook for the Great Parrrth, crosss the Great Rivverrrr and follow the sunnnn in the afternoooon,” moaned Sir Elgar and then he slipped into another story from the All Rain Time.

Mon nodded polite acknowledgment to the land slug and then nudged the pigs and together they quietly picked up their belongings and stepped backwards and stepped again and again and again until they were miles away and could barely hear the rumbling voice of the distant mountain, reminiscing to its foothills below.
CHAPTER 9

The Great Path

 

Sir Elgar was right. No sooner had the trio started walking West or as they preferred to describe it, “towards the setting sun”, than they discovered a path. Not just a dirt path or a bush path or garden path, but a proper path. A big, wide, well defined path. A Great Path!

It was made from pieces of wood worn by the ages. Carefully laid side by side. Each one connected to the next one by metal clips beaten into shape to fit perfectly. On and on the path went as far as a pig and girl could see. Up hill and down again. Winding slightly but always heading towards the setting sun. Inviting anyone brave enough to set foot on it to potentially go forth forever and forever.

The pigs found the path perfect for trotting along. Mon found it just as easy for a brisk jog. The wooden planks were so perfectly laid, they actually acted as an encouragement to keep a consistent stride. And having had a good night’s sleep and then spending most of the day sitting and listening to Sir Elgar, they all found it quite a relief to stretch their legs and feel the cool, fresh wind wash their faces.

Two hours later Zanzibah huffed over his shoulder to Twinkie and Mon, “I say, this must be the way.”

“This must, I say as well,” puffed Twinkie in return.

Mon said nothing when she when she really wanted to say. “The way to where I wonder?”

“It would be good if we had a map,” she finally yelled.

“You don’t need a map to find the obvious,” retorted Zanzibah looking back over his shoulder just in time to see Twinkie make a dive and grab his leg.

“What the blub blub gulp…….” Zanzibah started to say, as he stumbled and fell into more water than he could ever imagine.

Mon did a dive and grabbed one of Twinkie’s legs with one hand while grabbing a tuft of grass with the other.

There they lay on the Great Path, a daisy chain of pigs and person. Zanzibah was nothing but a pair of rear pig legs poking out of water. Twinkie was outstretched flat on his belly and Mon’s arms were stretched in two directions.

Twinkie mustered all of his strength and tugged on Zanzibah’s leg. Mon strained to hold on. Slowly Zanzibah surfaced spluttering and coughing and was dragged back to the wooden path.

When he finally caught his breath he looked up at Twinkie and Mon and grinned.

“This obviously must be the Great River,” he spluttered.

“This must be your lucky day,” replied Mon. “You could have drowned in all that water.”

“Drowned,” Zanzibah laughed. “Not with lifesavers like you and Twinkie on duty.”

And then all three of them sat on the Great Path that had become a Great Pier by the Great River and had a great laugh.
CHAPTER 10

Millicent, custodian of the stick

 

The afternoon sun transformed itself into the evening sunset and the pilgrim trio had made camp where the Great Path became a pier and had come to a stop at the Great River. Zanzibah had refused to move until his clothes dried so Twinkie felt that making camp was all they had left to do. Mon was simply please to call it a day. And apart from that, they felt quite good about everything. After all, they were on the right track, even if it had come to an abrupt end.

“Tomorrow’s a new day,” concluded Zanzibah. “And I’ve worked out that if we keep the sun behind us in the morning and in front of us in the afternoon everything will be all right.”

“And there’s no sun at night so we’ll just sit tight,” added Mon.

“And goodnight,” replied Twinkie.

 

So it was that they woke with the challenge of crossing the Great River. They realised just how great a challenge that would be when they all paddled and washed at its edge. (And yes, this was where the pigs shared their one and only tooth brush while politely Mon declined.)

 

Just a little way out, the Great River was a fast moving torrent, dark and deep and full of mystery. Mon tried to throw a stone across it but it simply ended with a splash a third of the way. “Crossing over by swimming, jumping and, heaven forbid, flying are all out of the question.” thought Mon.

 

“Cross the Great River, Sir Elgar said,” recalled Twinkie as his eyes darted up and down the river bank in both directions.

“That’s all right for him. He’s miles and miles long,” complained Zanzibah.

“There must be a way some where up river or down river.

Let’s split up,” suggested Mon.

“No way,” said Zanzibah. “And let you lot miss a chance to save my life again.”

“We could swim.” Offered Zanzibah.

“If we knew how.” Retorted Twinkie.

“You can’t swim?” added Mon.

“How about flying?” was Zanzibah’s next thought.

“And we could die!” replied Twinkie.

“Let’s just walk.” Said an increasingly frustrated Mon.

 

And so the conversation went until they finally concluded that downstream was sort of the right direction and most importantly for Zanzibah, it was downhill. (Because rivers can’t flow up hill he recalled)

With a whistle and a sigh they were on the move again. They had not gone far at all, when a giant turtle shell confronted them.

“What do you think that might be, Mon?” asked a slightly bewildered Twinkie.

“That might be a turtle shell. Although it is a rather large one,” suggested the knowledgeable Mon.

“Might there be a turtle in it?” questioned Zanzibah.

“There just might be and a mighty one she’d be,” concluded Mon as she stopped and picked up a stick and with all her might threw in at the shell.

It was right on target and made a loud hollow “bong”.

Then the shell trembled.

Then the pigs trembled.

 

Then Mon took a step backwards.

And then a large turtlehead slowly appeared from the large hole in the front of the shell. Before the long neck had finished outstretching, Twinkie stepped forward and bellowed, “I’m Twinkie, Pig from Yonder and traveller. Who are you?”

“I’m Millicent, Turtle from Hither and Custodian of the Stick,” replied the turtle in a strange slow soft whisper.

“Stick,” thought Zanzibah, “Custodian of the Stick?”

 

“Millicent,” thought Mon “How positively civilized.”

 

“Travellers,” thought Millicent. “Paying customers at last.”

 

After much bowing and greeting, Millicent explained how she could hold a stick (or what the average pig or person would describe as a rather large log) in her mouth and stretch it all the way across the Great River.

This she would do for a small fee.

“No freebie? So what would this fee be?” Enquired Mon.

“Whatever have you in those bags that may titillate me?” replied Millicent with a slow smile.

Twinkie quickly reeled off what was in Zanzibah’s case and then followed with an extremely detailed description of the contents of his own case. Then both pigs looked at Mon.

Before Mon could hug her bag and say, “Don’t look at me!” Millicent started speaking again.

“I have a nasty split in my shell…about here-ish,’ she mumbled as she waved the stick in her mouth and pointed at her right shoulder. “Do you think that hair cream thing would soothe a splintered shell as well?”

“I don’t know…ugh,” muttered a possessive Zanzibah as Mon gave him a quick kick in the shin.

“Of course. Indeed. Made for hair or.. or anywhere. Pig strength cream. Why madam, woman to woman, it’s strong enough for any job.” explained Mon with a bow.

So after a whispered apology for the shin kicking, followed by some friendly snout twisting persuasion about the loss of his precious hair cream, the fee was paid and Mon and the pigs, in a scurry and a great hurry, were across a great log across the Great River.

“Thank you,” yelled Mon.

“Bye now,” called Twinkie.

“Enjoy my cream,” whined Zanzibah.

“Call again,” whispered the Custodian of the stick and now also the custodian one bottle of pig strength hair cream she was carefully spreading on her shell.

 

CHAPTER 11

Cabbage is nice

 

Before long the Great River, Millicent the Giant Turtle and ever so slow Sir Elgar the land slug were far away and far from the minds of our pair of panting pigs and one puffing Mon. After half a day of huffing and hoofing it across the flattest of Flat Lands the little pigsy minds were squarely focused on a square meal. Mon would have also admitted to being just ever so slightly famished herself.

As you may have noticed with all this travelling, eating had been put on the “back burner” (as the Grand Chefs of Calibresia muttered through their very thick black moustaches, when a Calibresian had forgotten to do something).

For our three travellers, their individual hunger arrived simultaneously.

It had also arrived as Twinkie, Zanzibah and Mon had arrived in the dead centre of the Flat Lands.

They all stopped in their trot, looked at each other and as one said, “I’m hungry.”

“So am I,” they all then responded simultaneously.

With that all three spun around and looked for somewhere to sit. There was nothing but flatness; smooth dry clay as flat as a dinner plate, straight as a puddle. And as absolutely nothing for as far as they could see volunteered to become a make-do chair, bench or chez lounge, they plonked down where they stood.

Twinkie opened his suitcase and out came the cabbage and the two lemons.

Zanzibah had a rummage and out came a billy pot and billy stand. Then came some wood and a packet of matches.

Mon was quite happy to sit, watch and rub her feet.

In the wink of a Twink and the Zing of a Zan, the fire was a fire and the billy with cabbage was bubbling away.

“That steam looks like a person,” exclaimed Mon.

“It even looks like it’s got eyes,” laughed Zanzibah.

“Is that a woman’s mouth I see?” followed Twinkie.

“I am a woman”, sissed the steam.

 

“It spoke!!!” screamed Mon.

“It’s a person…how can steam be a person?” exclaimed Zanzibah continuing to laugh nervously.

“How can a pig be a pig?” sissed the steam.

“Mon, your right. The steam is speaking,” gasped an astonished Twinkie.

Zanzibah stopped laughing and tried to grasp the situation.

 

“I’m not actually steam, I’m the smell of the cooking cabbage.” Sissed the steam siren.

“You’re a smell. A talking smell?” Scoffed Mon. “I’ve smelled a smell but I’ve never seen a smell or heard a smell or do tell, spoken to a smell!”

“Neither have I,” sniffed Twinkie and then quickly followed with, “So how can we see you?”

“It’s ssso sssimple really,” sissed the steaming smell of cabbage.

“Out here in the middle of nothing, there’s nothing for you to sssee, so you start to ssee things you’ve never ssseen before.”

Mon nodded not knowing why. The pigs followed her lead with even less knowledge.

The smell continued. “Back in your kitchens where there’s plenty of everything to sssee and hear and do, you never sssee anything as ssslight and sssubtle and sssensational as a sssmell. So you see, about all you can do is smell a smell.”

This somehow sounded fine to Mon and the pigs, who were now back to thinking of nothing but hunger and how to get rid of it.

So there they sat chatting with the smell, telling him of their adventures and all the time eating stewed cabbage sprinkled with lemon juice.

“I’ll have to go sssoon”, sissed the smell of cabbage.

“Why’s that?” questioned Twinkie.

“When the cabbage is all gone ssso am I,” was the last they heard from the smell as Zanzibah swallowed the last of the cabbage.

“She was nice,” said Mon.

“The cabbage was better,” thought Zanzibar but didn’t say so because he wasn’t quite sure if that would be rude.

 

 

CHAPTER 12

Part owner in a bog sled

 

After pigs had packed up and shared their one and only brush, they woke Mon.

With a belly full of cabage, she had slept soundly. She had been dreaming of home and her bed. The rock hard flatness of the clay pan hit her with a thud. She sat up and looked around. There was nothing layed on nothing, surrounded by nothing. Then strangely, for the first time, reflected in the early light of the day, she could just make out a lonely, one and only, bump on the horizon.

She gathered herself up and pointed it out to the pigs.

They squinted and squinted through piggy eyes but could only see the flatness.

“Let’s all listen to me and be on our way to the bump,” stated Mon with a rather strong degree of firmness.

As they were already listening to her, the pigs agreed with the rest of her statement and let Mon take the lead.

Before long the bump became a lump and then an object that even squinty little piggy eyes could see.

“It’s a bog-sled,” said Zanzibah. “An abandoned bog-sled.”

“A what sled?” exclaimed Mon.

“Oww yes…it’s a bog-sled,” muttered ever incredulous Twinkie, “And how do you know it’s abandoned?”

“There’s no one on it and there’s been no one on it for a long long time,” replied Zanzibah as he clambered onto the bog-sled grabbing its handlebars and slipping his leg across the saddle.

“Well you are on it now Zanzibah B. Pig,” said Twinkie. “So by your own criteria it’s not abandoned.”

“You’re right, it must be mine.”
“But you’ve never owned bog-sled,” quizzed Mon.

 

“I do now Mon old girl, and I’m giving half to you”.

 

“Why thank you Zanzibah,” chortled an amazed Mon, quite proud of herself for having become part owner in a bog-sled. “But do you even know how it works?”

 

“What’s a bog-sled?” whimpered Twinkie as he slowly circled the huge pile of stone.

“It’s a sled made out of magnetic rocks that reacts with gravity lines under the ground, so it can float and slide along ever so rapidly. It works best in a slippery slidey bog and it tends to bog in anything that’s not a bog,” rattled off an extremely excited and knowledgeable Zanzibah.

The reason he knew all this was because back in his snug little shack he had a collection of bog-sled collectable cards on every type of bog-sled that had ever sledded a bog.

He was, you might say without slipping a cog, a bog-sled nut and to find one abandoned, well he was bog happy!

“Can you get it going then Zanzo?” questioned Twinkie.

“By the bog it’s bogged in I’ll have you boggling Twinkie my old stick.”

Now when Zanzibah called Twinkie his old stick, Twinkie knew he was in for it. It meant Zanzibah was confident and a confident pig is a fool headed pig and pig headed for big trouble.

Mon had already decided that it would all end in tears. “Bogged bog-sled indeed,” she thought. “This is all we need!”

But with a cough and puff of dust the bog-sled sped into life.

Zanzibah was off and it was all a leaping Twinkie could do to catch on.

Then it performed a big sweeping circle to come around and slow down just long enough and close enough for Mon to jump on too. Why she did, she didn’t quite know but there she was clinging to Twinkie who was clinging to Zanzibar who was clinging to a bounding bog-sled.

The bog-sled roared off through the landscape. The wind whistled up the pig’s nostrils and through Mon’s hair.

“It’s a piece of cake,” chattered Zanzibah after an hour or two of sliding and slipping forward, backward, sideward and toward any which way. And having just made this announcement of his newfound confidence they finally came to a grinding, stony standstill at the edge of a large sea.

Twinkie was off the sled in a hop and surveying the sight.

Mon sprang to be by his side, her mouth unusually gapping.

Zanzibah slowly realised his bog-sledding world had stopped spinning and he was suddenly left with nothing but a stationary desire to bog on.
CHAPTER 13

Smiling rocks

 

“Look Zanzibah, oh do come and see.” cried Mon.

“Oh do!” concurred Twinkie

Zanzibah wiped back a tear, slid of the bog-sled and skipped to Twinkie’s side. In a wink, a look of astonishment started at the tip of his snout and spread like sauce on a sausage until it all but covered his piggy wiggy face.

You see the pigs had never seen a sea. Mon had, but so long ago it was blurred memory sploshing about deep within her head.

For the pigs, until they had crossed the Great River, the most water they had seen in one place was in a drinking trough. And a very small trough it was at that.

They had never waved at a wave. They had never heard the crushing sound of smashing breakers. They had never even imagined so much water could gather in one place.

So there they stood staring off into the horizon where birds, like living polka dots, puppeteering in the dazzling blue.

“Waterway,” speculated Twinkie. “A very much great lot of water they call Waterway.”

“Living polka dots,” whispered Zanzibah.

“Birds,” replied Mon with an assumed authority.

 

They all lingered for a moment longer. Then the dust of bog sledding started them dreaming and screaming about washing snouts and sore feet in the cool clear water of the wonderful waterway.

 

Mon had to agree a wash would be mighty nice but before she could tell them, the piggy twosome were off in a flash, stepping and skipping from stone to stone on their way to the water’s edge.

 

“Oiii! Get your hoofer offa my bonnet,” came a gruff gravelly voice.

“Who, what, where?” blurted Zanzibah.

 

“You! Not there,” trilled Twinkie as suddenly, all about, were smiles and smiles of beach. Grinning, laughing, yelling “Watch out!” “No no not there!” “Getting off.”

“Hey you, and you too.”

Where ever Zanzibah and Twinkie set foot was a blinking eye or a gapping jaw.

Mon stood her ground on the hill and watched the astonishing sight.

“Smiling rocks! My goodness me. I think I’ve seen everything now,” she thought.

“Be still” crunched a large imposing stone. “Please be still now.”

Suddenly thoughts of dragons, the much greatly lot of water, yesterday’s lunch and tomorrow’s tea and all topped off with a wonderful wet wash, vanished from the minds of the piggy two.

They stopped, shut up and sat down,

“Oh dear, who are you?” sighed Zanzibah.

 

“We’re rocks, quite sure, rocks we are,” called a boyish boulder nearby.

“Rocks?” questioned Zanzibah. “Rocks with smiles?”

“We’ve come to wash our faces,” called another slightly smaller stone.

“Wash?” chirped Twinkie, still thinking it more of a good idea than an actual question.

“Wash?” he quizzed again, only softer, as he began to realize the full extent of the grinning granite grinding it’s teeth about him.

“The waves of water wash our faces so clean,” droned a chorus of rollicking young rocks.

“Goodness me.” Said Mon as she put her hands to her face and began to laugh at the pigs and their predicament.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER 14

Pigs in a predicament

 

Yes, the pigs were in a predicament, once again.

 

“What can we do?” whined Zanzibah.

 

“What can weee doooo?” screamed Twinkie.

 

“Stop standing on my face,” bellowed a badly bruised boulder in return.

 

“Oh where else can I stand? There are faces everywhere. Even if I about face I face a face,” blubbered Twinkie, starting to cry.

“Now don’t cry,” snapped the boldest of the boulders. “Please don’t cry now. We’re happy rocks. Smiling rocks. We never ever cry never.”

“Well what else can he do?” blurted Zanzibah almost starting to blubber himself.

“Simply stop standing on my face!” bellowed the boisterous boulder again, “So I can turn me away and all will be very fine. Fine indeed.”

All the time, Mon continued to laugh until she was almost crying as well.

A shaking Zanzibah lifted his foot and with that the boulder turned his face and for any of us it looked just like a lump of rock on a beach, anywhere, in any May or any other month for that matter.

“He’s gone,” said Zanzibah.

“No I ain’t. I’ve just turned over,” came a muffled stony

 

“Rolling rocks, or is it rocks that roll?” blubbered Twinkie somewhat more relieved.

“We’re all of them and more some,” replied the boulder in an even more muffled voice.

“Can we stand on you now?” questioned Zanzibah.

“Stand, trot, canter,” came the answer.

“And you’re all rolling rocks?” tweeked Twink.

“Of coursely,” bleated the boulders back.

“Well do your rolling thing because we want to get rocking along,” commanded Zanzibah.

 

Like a military manoeuvre all the rocks on the beach rolled over and not a smile could be seen for a mile.

“Time for that wash,” thought Zanzibah.

“Time for that wash,” sang Twinkie.

 

With a hop and a skip and a splish and a splash our pigs on parade took the plunge.

Mon finally stopped laughing. Now she could not believe what she had just seen. A sea of faces at the edge of a sea had simply vanished. Then two weeping pigs had become two joyful pigs in the time it takes to say “Hello goodbye.”

The pigs splashed. The waves crashed.

But this was no ordinary pig trough where the only thing between the top and the bottom was wet water and the occasional side to hold it all together.

This was Waterway. Deep flowing Waterway. Home to a multitude of things. Swimming things. Squirming things. And creeping crawling things that just like rocks with smiles and anyone else, don’t like being stepped on.

Twinkie did the stepping and Twinkie did the screaming as a vengeful giant crab grabbed his leg and made a reasonable attempt at biting it off.

The screams had set Zanzibar off. Without a second thought, he to started running from whatever had set Twinkie off. Mon looked on astonished, then she also took off.

Waterway was miles away before Twinkie stopped yelling. And running. Then yelling and running at the same time.

As Mon ran, she yelled at Zanzibar, so he had stopped a mile back. This was the only reason Twinkie finally stopped. When Mon and Zanzibah eventually caught up to him, Twinkie was asleep like a stone. Zanzibah smiled, almost rock-like and joined him. Mon looked at her piggy pals and had a little laugh all over again and then, using Twinkie’s belly as a pillow and Zanzibar’s back as a footstool, she slipped off to sleep herself.

 

CHAPTER 15

The leader of the pigs

 

When Twinkie awoke Zanzibah was still snoring.

Mon was soundlessly asleep, as polite little girls never snore.

Twinkie carefully slipped out from under her head.

He stood and stretched and then grabbed this moment of privacy to curl his beard and preen himself a bit, after all, he had been in the constant companionship and proximity of Mon and Zanzibah for over three May days!

He looked around sniffing the air and wondering where they were and how they got to be there.

Twinkie was definitely the ‘follower’ in this merry band.

Mon, on the other hand, was the ‘adviser’ and Zanzibah was definitely the self appointed ‘leader’.

When it came to thinking Twinkie was the deeper and Zanzibah the shallower. Mon just thought she knew everything and probably did.

“A thinker should not and could not also be a leader,” thought Twinkie.

He had heard this once and besides he found himself so busy thinking that he had no time for leading. He was much more a lead-giver to the leader. A sort of leader from behind. A follow the leader.

So here he was, awake, preened and thinking. Thinking of why two pigs and their best friend had travelled miles and miles through air, on roads across rivers and over bogs all because Zanzibah wanted to see a dragon.

Well, where was this dragon? Where was home? Where was where ever they were?

Just as Twinkie was formulating a solution to his many questions, Zanzibah awoke and yawned, “I reckon we’re half way there.”

Now because you’re reading this story, you can see you’re halfway through the book, so you could quite validly conclude that the pigs and Mon were actually half way there, but how did Zanzibah know?

Well, he just guessed it because he was a leader. And leaders have got to make leading remarks – which are mostly just guesses.

He took a pigsy type stab at it and Twinkie’s freshly curled whiskers nearly uncurled.

“I was just trying to work that out,” he spluttered.

“Well now you don’t have to,” replied Zanzibah. “All you have to do is work out where the other half of the journey is.”

“What do I have to do?” questioned Mon, who had been woken up by all this chatter.

“I don’t know,” Twinkie replied rather un-thoughtfully. “I don’t know where the first half was so how would I know where the next half is going to be.”

“Well let’s find out Twink the Blink and Mon the.. the.. oh what rhymes with Mon?” replied the leader of pigs and a little girl.

 

 


CHAPTER 16

Train spotting

Before they found out anything about anything, Zanzibah found out what they had to eat. It wasn’t much. Then, noticing how preened and cleaned Twinkie was, Zanzibah set about preening and cleaning himself. They shared the toothbrush, the hairbrush, the last bottle of hair cream and all without a rush. Why move fast when you’re a pig on the move with no idea where to move to next?

It was Mon who finally got them moving.

“You both look lovely.” she exclaimed loudly. “But you would look much better is you were moving!”

So Twinkie made a move to push Zanzibah the leader to lead the way. “That way, Zanzibah my friend, I think we should go. It looks really quite good, let’s see what is that way.”

“Sounds good to me.” Agreed Mon.

Zanzibah sniffed the air and tested the wind. Then after a lengthy discourse about the time of day and in fact what day it was, he made way (with a wink at Twink and a nod to Mon) towards Twinkie’s touted and the Mon ticked direction.

At the very same time someone else was making decisions. With a sniff of the very same wind that been sniffed by Zanzibah, a dragon in a distant town snorted out two perfect rings of smoke and chortled deep from within her fiery throat, “Pigs. I smell pigs.”

As the poem, sung so long ago had said ‘Barbecued Pork’ and that’s what sprang into the mind of the monstrous she-dragon. As dragons are also mysterious, masterful and mighty deceivers, this dragon started weaving spells and casting illusions that a pair of poor unsuspecting pigs and a nice polite little girl could never ever sense. Like some old tweedy trout angler puffing on a pipe the she-dragon set a scheme in motion that would speed the succulent pigs to her table. On her table, that is, with a Chinese glaze and a pomegranate stuffed in each of their mouths.

Zanzibah wasn’t feeling hungry at all as he spotted the train that strangely seemed to just appear out of nowhere.

 

CHAPTER 17

Trained to talk

 

Mon shrieked and squeaked. The pigs snorted and squawked. Then they all ran and trotted. The train from nowhere squealed and screeched and came to a stop as the she-dragon’s secret plan sprang into motion.

When the potential piggy passengers and one polite person caught up with the train they also stopped. Stopped because the train started to speak, “All aboard, who’s getting aboard?” it hooted. And without a thing about fares or cares they all climbed on board.

“Well this is the life,” huffed a puffed Zanzibah.

“Life indeed, piggy pal,” said Twinkie.

“But where are we headed?” queried Mon

“Headed to see a dragon of course,” came a voice from all around.

“W w w was that you Zanzi?” stuttered Twinkie.

“I thought it was you,” blubbered Zanzibah, “Not you Mon? Then who?” as he ducked his head in anticipation of some impending doom and scanned the carriage with his sharp but ever so slightly terrified eyes.

“It’s me,” said the voice from all about, “Help yourselves to tea.”

“Me who and where are you?” questioned Twinkie, twitching this way and that, not knowing whether to continue looking for the source of the voice or the tea on offer.

“It’s me, the train and you’re riding in my belly. You’re on your way, clickity, clack, along the track to see a dragon.”

“Of course, a talking train.” thought a bewildered Mon. “What else?”

“A train that’s been trained to talk.” Exclaimed Twinkie with slightly pricked piggy ears.

“The tea cups are in the cupboard on the right. Water’s in the jug. Switch is next to the plug,” boomed the all-encompassing voice. “Might find a biscuit or cake in a tin in the overhead locker.”

With that, the pigs forgot about thoughts of life inside smelly bellies and the tale of Jonah and the Whale and instead conjured up cups of steaming tea and crunchie biscuits turning soft and succulent with every dunking. With Mon’s help, the cups were found, switches switched and joy of joys, a biscuit barrel full of biscuits was opened – although they were all in the shape of a very fierce looking she-dragon.

“Yes, fancy that, Mon, a talking train,” slurped Zanzibah.

“Fancy what? Not so fancy when you think of giant slugs, turtles, talking rocks and pigs that fly, Zanzie,” replied Mon as she bit the head off her fifth dragon biscuit.

“Pigs that fly?” whistled the train. “Tell me more, Dragon Seekers.”

And so the story you have just read was told again. The train’s only interest in life was travelling and travellers. That’s why he listened ever so intently that he forgot all about where he was going and what he was doing. It all came back to him with a smash and a crash and a big big bash.

Somewhere between the cabbage smell and the crab pinching Zanzibar’s leg, the train left the tracks and drove into a town. Smash, crash, bash into the middle of a ghost town. All with a shriek and a screech.

 

CHAPTER 18

Derailed and failed

 

Well our pigs were off and running again with a panting Mon in tow.

When the train had terminated its travel, the travelling trio were enjoying their tea and biscuits and tit for tatting the telling of their own travels. They were enjoying it just as much as the train. So when they were suddenly up and travelling the entire length of the carriage, the shock was well, quite shocking.

They could only think it must be their fault entirely. It wasn’t of course, but the pigs could not help thinking that anything that went wrong was due to them and their complete lack of really knowing what was going on.

They were out of the train, toot quick and in a flash, grabbing bags and belts and belongings and pushing poor Mon as they leapt. They darted off into the ghost town. Anywhere into the ghost town as long as it was away from the train wreck. Their train wreck.

The train sighed a long sigh. A de-railed and failed kind of sigh. A goodbye sigh. A sad sigh. The dragon would not be happy. The dragon would know what really happened here.

Through the dilapidated and crumbling streets they ran. Passed old and decaying buildings and shops. The splintered wood and faded paint. The rotting and the sagging. Swinging by a loose screw. Dangling and hanging. All fearing a breeze. All about to fall.

On and on, right into the very centre of what was left of the town. They finally stopped to take a seat by an old and paint peeling phone box.

“What did you touch,” challenged Twinkie.

“I touched not a thing. It must have been you. You kicked something. You’re always kicking something,” retorted Zanzibah.

“I’ll be kicking you if you don’t own up,” whipped back a taunting Twinkie pig.

“I was taking tea, talking to a train and next thing, what ever you did, had me tumbling topsy-turvy. And I’ve never been trained for that! Tell him Mon. Tell him it’s true.”

“I did nothing Zanzibah bah bah and where have you got us now. Where are you and I and Mon aye, bah bah? I suppose you have no idea about that as well,” and with that Twinkie stomped his trotter and sniffed loudly.

“It was neither of you sillies.” interjected Mon. “It was the train’s fault. Not everything that happens in this world is about you and because of you. Some things just happen to happen despite you.”

“Hello. Hello. You’re off to see a dragon?” a nearby ringing voice called.

Well this was about too much for everyone. More voices from nowhere. It seemed that everything you looked at, walked past, stepped on or sat in, came to life and had point of view on what they knew. This time they we’re being spoken to by a phone box. An old fashioned, not-so-bright red phone box.

“Who was that?” said Zanzibah.

“That was that,” said Mon pointing carelessly over her shoulder at the phone box.

“Should we run again?” quipped Twinkie.

“No, we should have fun Twinkie-one. We should sit tight and have some fun son.” Zanzibah then turned to the phone box and quizzed, “How do you know we’re off to see a dragon?”

At the same time he’d wondered why he hadn’t asked the train the same question.

“Hello, hello. The dragon, she called. The dragon, she knows.” shrilled the phone box.

“See, the dragon knows we’re coming?!” exclaimed Zanzibah.

“Good morning. Good afternoon. Connecting you. A dragon knows time itself. Not a thing she doesn’t know about, hear about, learn about, get about,” rang the box, “The great she-dragon is waiting for the pig guests.”

“How exciting can this journey get?” thought the pigs.

“Not only are we all off to see a dragon but a dragon is expecting to see us.” Shrilled Zanzibah.

“Off and running she knows we’re coming.” thrilled Twinkie.

“How does she know we’re coming?” trilled Mon.

 

 

CHAPTER 19

The not so silly Mon

The pigs and Mon wandered the town.

Knowing that the dragon knew they were coming had an enormous effect on the pigs. They suddenly became important. They were special, super, superior. A dragon was expecting them. Each of them. Two pigs. Them. Pigs on a mission.

Mon would have confessed that she was quite excited to be going to meet a dragon but it did not make her feel at all special. In her view, a lot of people must have visited the dragon, so she was just one of the many.

Had she known the she-dragon was expecting to eat her two best friends then things may have been different, but at the moment she was excited and her pigs were royalty. A princess with her Porky Princes on a crusade. A victory parade.

“Oh greatness. Oh largeness. Your ever-wonderful dragonship. I am the lowly Twinkie and this is my pig slave Zanzibah,” practised Twinkie.

“Pig slave? Indeed,” complained Zanzibah. “Your most mighty and marvellous one meet myness Zanzibah and hisness Twinkie, The Travelling Pigs. Who hath seeketh you for miles and a mile with their lowly companion Mon – that’s how you talk to dragons you paltry porker.”

Just as well Mon was not listening because she was trying to open the door of the shop but it was locked.

She may have been excited but she was also hungry.

“You know Piggy Pals,” she said “If we were somewhere we were meant to be we could tell ourselves we were there and move on.”

“What?” replied Zanzibah, “You mean you know where we are?”

“No, but I know where we’re not and that’s a start,” continued Mon.

“Start of what. I thought we were looking for a finish or at least the middle. You can’t find yourself from having not found yourself,” snorted Twinkie.

“To know everything is to know nothing. To know where you are, is to know where you’re not. We’re not home and we’re not at the Dragon Town. So we’re on our way there?” posed Mon in an uncharacteristically thoughtful and somewhat deep manner.

“So that’s how the she-dragon knows where we are?” mused Twinkie.

“Not so much where we are as what we’re doing which of course involves where we are,” said Mon picking up her bag. “So before you can find yourself you need to know what you are doing it for.”

“I’ve always wondered about that,” mumbled Twinkie automatically picking up his case as well.

“So have I,” said Zanzibah, case in hand.

“Well now you know.” replied Mon.

 

CHAPTER 20

Piggy paradise

Now pigs have snouts. Stout snouts. Stout snouts for sniffing and snuffling. And the sniff that they like to sniff the most is the sniff of food. And the sniff of food they most like to snuffle the most is the truffle. Zanzibah had had a whiff and with a sniff and a snorff he was off.

The ghost town turned out to be a mining town that had been all been mined out. And we all know that when, whatever’s been mined in a mining town is mined out; no one has got a mind to stay there. If no one’s there, no one minds what you do, which is all just as well because with the smell of truffles in their noses the piggy pair were in paradise. Not just any paradise, but the paradise of all paradises because the truffles weren’t just any old food. (Or new food.) Truffles were the food of foods! Truffles were top.

“Ohh, the odour of truffles.” Their snouts screamed it loud and clear. And with every sniff and whiff the pigs became more and more jubilant. No need to hurry. Savour the smell. Dine on the perfume. Entree was in the air. Everywhere.

“T-r-u-f-f-l-e-s,” Twinkie could barely gasp.

“Too true Twink,” Zanzibah blissfully sighed. “Follow me to the food of foods. Gormandise. Gastronise. Gluttonesia. Onward Twink and don’t forget to bring your stomach.”

They danced past old disused buildings. Cantered past mining machines. Rushed past rusting sheds and cavorted down crumbling conveyor belts. The further from town they got the thicker and thicker the truffle air became. Taunting, tugging, twitching the piggy snouts.

Poor Mon had no idea what was going on. The Pig pals often acted strangely, but this was deeply strange.

Mon simply had no idea what a truffle was or why the pigs had become so delirious.

Mon followed on as fast as her legs could go when suddenly the pigs stopped and dropped to their knees.

They had finally seen what their snouts had touted. Miles of mountains of truffles. This is to a pig what an elephant’s graveyard was to an ivory trader. The fountain of youth to the elderly. Eldorado to the prospector. Rich chocolate to you and me.

“Mounds. Mountainous mounds of truffles. Can this be true Twink? This is a mirage that will vanish as we touch it. Is it Twink? Say it isn’t,” sobbed Zanzibah on the verge of an elated related breakdown.

“Zanzibah, my fearless lord of leaders, you have led us to paradise. By all that is sniffed or ever was sniffed by this snout, no pigs ever in the history of everything could have ever been this lucky. This is pig paradise, Zanzibah. My word it’s real,” Twinkie slurped, “Or pigs don’t have snouts.”

“What’s so special?” asked Mon but no reply was forthcoming.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


CHAPTER 21

Bringing home the bacon

The truffles were left over from the mining. All the soil that had been moved to reveal what ever the miners were mining had contained truffles. As they lay in their mounds they had grown more truffles, so now where there was once soil there was nothing but truffles. Millions of truffles.

The pigs dove into the nearest mound. They shoved the truffles into their mouths as all manners were cast aside.

Mon wander slowly up to a pile and picked up a single truffle. She sniffed it and recoiled at its fungus fumes, then threw it away.

She then sat down and watch her best friends in the world completely ignore her world for half a day!

When the snouts had had their fill and the pigs had pigged out, they started to fill their pockets and bags. Then they wandered far off. There were mounds and mounds, piles and piles, heaps and heaps of truffles. Glorious truffles in every direction. So then they emptied their pockets and bags. Then they had a truffle fight. Then they wrestled in the truffles. Then they swam, ran and span in truffles.

Twinkie even tried to wash in truffles. And for about a ten billionth of a millie-second they even got tired of truffles. Then it started all over again and they filled their pockets, emptied their pockets and so on and so on and so forth.

“Haven’t got a spare stomach have you Mon?” groaned Zanzibah.

“If you have I’ll swap you for you for two mouths,” moaned Twink.

“I’ll see his two mouths and raise you a funnel,” moaned Zanzibah.

“And I’ll see his funnel and raise you… raise you three stomachs and ten snouts,” groaned Twinkie.

And then they rolled over and kept eating and eating and eating.

Mon sat there and sat there. She thought about how hungry she was and almost started to cry, but then she became angry instead. This was supressed by her natural politeness and she was left with just sitting there and feeling hungry and angry all at once.

Miles away a she-dragon was also dreaming. Dreaming of eating. “A barbecue. A barbecue. I want you pigs for a barbecue. You can dodge, you can dart, you can stop, you can start, but you’ll form a queue for the barbecue, my glorious yummy barbecue. Whatever you do, you’ll be in the queue for my barbecue,” she sang so loudly smoke seeped from her nostrils.

Then she sniffed the air to make sure dinner was on its way.

Her huge flaming nostrils sucked deep but nothing came. Nowhere. Nothing. Not a wisp of pig. No porkly perfume or bacon bouquet. No nothing.

“What has happened?” she bellowed as flames billowed from her mouth. “What has gone wrong? Get the phone on the phone. Whistle the train. Who is bringing home the bacon around here?”

The whole palace rumbled with her roar. For miles around the hills shook and the trees trembled. Animals froze with fright. The she-dragon was angry and an angry she-dragon is a dangerous dragon – everyone knew that from the tip of their toes to the tip of their tip.

 

CHAPTER 22

The pigs try and make a stand

The smell of truffles is so strong and the pigs had rolled on so many truffles for so long, that the smell of pig had been superseded, suppressed and surmounted by the smell of truffle. Which, in terms of dragon dinners was entirely good news for the pigs. But what they didn’t know was entirely irrelevant, because they now had new troubles of their own without bothering to think of the ones created by the gastronomic need of a greedy dragon.

For four days they had wallowed in truffles. A truffle is a fungus like a mushroom, only it’s round and hard. Its flavour is indescribable and its scent a delight. For us they are very rare and very expensive so if you ever have the good fortune to buy or try one you are indeed a lucky one. The most important word here is ‘one’. Most of us who have tried ‘one’ or can only afford ‘one’ so ‘one’ is all we get.

Our pigs had had not one, or one hundred and one. They had had thousands – one on top of another. For four days all they had done is eat and eat and eat. When they weren’t eating they were sleeping. Deep wondrous sleeps, filled with the dreamiest dreams they’d ever had. Then on the fourth afternoon Zanzibah tried to stand up. He tried and he tried. Then he cried. “I can’t walk, Twink. Oh Twinkie,”

“I’m here lying next to you, Zanzo, no need to shout,” mumbled Twinkie with a mouth full of truffle. “No need to stand Zanzo-panzo. Stay here, close to the truffles. Slurp, scoff, slobber.”

“Oh please try and stand, then help me to do likewise and the same. Please, Twink my pal” blubbered Zanzo.

“All right. Just for a minute,” gulped Twinkie.

He tried and then he too cried.

“What’s happened? I can’t stand…and I can’t stand it,” and then the whole thought of not standing stood some more crying.

They both lay there. All night they lay there until at dawn it dawned on them that their stomachs were too heavy for the rest of them to lift. Their legs and arms still worked but their middles were just far too heavy. They lay there all that day long, trying not to eat a single truffle but the smell of truffles was strong.

Mon couldn’t stand their gluttonous behaviour. She couldn’t believe how a horrid lumpy little fungus could make her friends forget all about manners and politeness.

She had wandered to ghost town in search of food. After an hour or two, she found an old warehouse. In the basement, she found shelves of food. There were tins of ham, bottles of preserved fruit and jam. She even found a sealed tin of biscuits that when opened tasted positively fresh.

So Mon then set herself up on the veranda of a half collapsed house and had an impromptu picnic. She had chosen this spot because she could watch the pigs as they leaped and cavorted in the mounds of fungus.

She also had room at the end of the veranda to make a bed.

All in all, she felt quite comfortable although a bit lonely.

 

 

CHAPTER 23

Bringing out the worst

 

Mon had gone for a walk that afternoon. The sun shone with the last of the Summer warmth that even a breeze with a hint of Winter cool could not smother. Mon enjoyed scavenging amongst the junk and rubbish left by the miners. And it took her mind of the rude, self-indulging pigs.

She had found strange tools and odd shaped bottles. There were dusty hats and worn out boots. Surprisingly even some broken musical instruments and old brown bits of paper. All sorts of things that like her, had been ignore for a long long time.

She had no idea what to do with her discoveries so she stacked them on the end of her veranda. And she had no idea of the trouble the immobilised pigs were in.

There they lay, not being able to stand or walk or barely roll. Trying desperately to stop eating truffles.

Twinkie was not so strong. Every now and then he would loll his head to one side and sneak a truffle. Zanzibah was gripped with terror. The thought of spending the rest of his days lying in a field of truffles, no matter how wonderful they were, was not on. He had set out on a mission to visit a dragon and drag on as it may, that was his mission and he would not fail.

Twinkie on the other hand was just tagging along. He experienced no overpowering mission. This was as far as he wanted to go. He could and would willingly spend the rest of his days picking away at the truffles. There was certainly enough for one pig lifetime. As for walking, well he’d never ever really thought it was a step in the right direction anyway.

So when Zanzibah finally stood, Twinkie should have but those odd one or two truffles kept him horizontal challenged.

“Come on Twinkie, do try,” pleaded Zanzibah.

“Oh don’t you worry Zanzibah darling. You and Mon just go on to your rendezvous with destiny and a dragon. I’ll just wallow a while here in pig heaven.”

That’s how it would have been if a strange thing hadn’t happened.

“I’m on strike,” said a sniffily voice. “I’ve had enough truffles for a life time and I’m on strike till we get the heck out of here.”

Twinkie looked straight up in amazement. Zanzibah looked straight down in even more amazement.

“Who’s that Zanzibah? I can’t get up to see,” spluttered Twinkie.

“It’s your…. your snout,” blurted Zanzibah.

 

Twinkie’s snout had swollen and formed into a strange creature with a flat mouth and sunken eyes. It wobbled and wrinkled as it spoke. “I’ll be nobody’s snout if this truffle feast doesn’t desist,” whinged the snout.

“My snout,” snorted Twinkie.

“Your used to be snout,” sniffed the snout.

“Where’d you come from?” enquired a goggling Zanzibah.

“I’ve always been here stupid. It’s just he’s over indulging. This endless scoffing and snuffling. Much too much. Far too much. Well too much always brings out the worst in people and I’m the worst in his snout. And I’m on strike! No more truffles or I’m off and gone and he him here will be left a snout less sniffless snufflless pig.”

The pigs were speechless. Zanzibah sat and Twinkie lay. Both in a state of shock. Neither of them had any idea what to do when you had brought out the worst in anything.

Meanwhile Mon sat on her veranda, politely waiting for the best in the pigs to return.

 

CHAPTER 24

Dragons like it hot

 

Everyone knows too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing. But fortunately for pigs and everyone else, excess eventually stops its self. The snout going on strike stopped Twinkie eating truffles which was what the snout wanted, so it stopped being on strike and wherever the worst comes from the worst in the snout went back there.

The whole experience snapped Twinkie out of his truffle trance and made him listen to Zanzibah.

“We can only take enough truffles to allow us one a day. I’d say that’s one pocket’s worth. This is an experience we will one day relish but never wish to repeat I think, old Twink. But for now consider yourself lucky to be by my side,” lectured Zanzibah to a now standing Twinkie.

Mon looked out from her veranda and noticed the pigs were no longer eating but were deep in conversation. She wandered down to the truffle mounds in time to hear Twinkie say “Okay, oinkay. You’ve evened the score. Cleaned the slate. One all. Even Stephen. I saved you at the Great River. You saved me from the Temptation of the Truffle.”

“Now what could this mean?” thought Mon.

“Have you finished your giant pig out?” she bluntly inquired.

“Yes,” Twinkie said with tears streaming from his eyes. “We’re done, full and finally finished.” (Whenever he told the story of their journey, he would again burst into tears when he talked of the truffles, only stopping when he felt his snout starting to twitch and itch.)

The pigs slowly made their way up to Mon’s veranda. It was only when they saw how much stuff Mon had gathered, that they realised how long they had been wallowing in the mounds of truffle. Mon offered them some biscuits and jam but they politely refused.

“Time to go is time to go,” stated Zanzibah. So after gathering up their things, some extra food from Mon’s new found supplies, they were gone. Mon was sad to leave her found treasures. Twinkie was just down right miserable to leave.

Zanzibah was back on track to visit a dragon so soon they were up to a full trot toward the afternoon sun.

Before long they found a small track. This led to a small path, then a big path and finally to a wide road. “This is the kind of road that must lead to a town,” said Mon.

Down the end of the road the sun was setting, so the travellers three left the road for the shade of a small gully, set down their things and settled in for the night.

The next morning they were all up early. The pigs were preened, cleaned and steamed up. Mon was happy to be a team again.

Twinkie was still too scared to eat a truffle. He instead had one of Mon’s biscuits. The truffles however, jingled in his pocket emitting their unique aroma. Hiding completely his tell-tale piggy tail smell from any waiting in anticipation she-dragon. And how the dragon would have been anticipating if she had known how close the pigs now were. They were actually on the main road to Dragon Town. And the closer they got the hotter it got. After all she-dragons like it hot.

The sun was hot. The sky was hot. The air and the earth were hot. The road itself was hot. So hot that now Twinkie, Zanzibar and even Mon’s shadows started to complain.

“Arr give us a break. This grounds so hot. Can’t you throw us on something cool for a while,” whispered Twinkie’s shadow.

“Yeh, a river or an iceberg. Come on guys!” joined in Zanzibah’s shadow.

 

“We’ve had it with all this torching and scorching.” Moaned

Mon’s shadow as well.

 

After all, this was the wonderful land of Gadamede where most things can talk, even shadows it seems!
CHAPTER 25

The One Shadow

 

So it was that the pigs and Mon just took it for granted that their shadows could talk. If snouts could suddenly come alive and complain about too many truffles, shadows could complain about hot roads. Anything, it seemed, was possible when you’re a traveller far from home.

A pig at home in his comfortable house-sty can expect nothing out of the ordinary (except for the odd surprise bill in the mail).

The life of a little girl is much the same. The only surprise Mon hoped for was for her father to come suddenly home from the war.

Life was simple routine, the same thing day after day. But the traveller doesn’t know what’s around the corner let alone what the next day will bring. The only routine to cling to is remembering to clean your teeth and preen your whiskers at least every a day. That and putting one foot in front of the other over and over again.

The complaining shadows coincided with the need for some sort of stabilising routine. So the travellers didn’t argue, they simply looked around for somewhere to shelter and rest.

Twinkie spotted it first.
“Zanzibah hurrah. Mon ami. Accommodation awaits us,” he yelled.

Zanzibah was also delighted with what he saw. A deserted building. A building with walls, a floor…. but no roof. You and I would probably think it dreadful – no roof and all. But to a pig it’s far more important to have a floor under your head than a roof over it.

As for Mon, she was happy to just tag along.

As soon as the three of them were inside, their shadows embraced the cool crisp shadows of the walls. The wall shadows embraced them back and exchanged stories and joined them in a prayer for cloudy overcast days when all shadows become the One Shadow.

Shadows whisper ever so quietly. It sounds like a breeze rustling in the trees. A soft and sweet sound. So soft that you have probably never heard any shadows talking to each other. And what a shame that is. You’ve missed so much.

Twinkie, Zanzibah and Mon stretched out in the shadows and exchanged their own sweet stories and dreams.

“What do you think this dragon will do with us when we arrive, Twink the blink?” mused Zanzibah as he brushed his hairless head.

Twinkie yawned. “I don’t know,” and stretched. “Put on a huge feast, lots of fine music, dancing and laughing, invite everyone in the neighbourhood. That sort of thing, I imagine.”

“ A feast? I wonder what dragons eat?” mused Mon.

Zanzibah’s mind danced with delight as he pictured perfumes and personalities and fanfares and no cares, all as splendid splendour dripped from the eaves and arches.

In his mind he was suddenly standing in the middle of it all. He had dropped off to sleep and his dream had become his private reality. Twinkie and Mon both slipped off to sleep as well and appeared at Zanzibah’s side. So it was that in the roofless house two pigs and their best friend ever, slept as their shadows crooned and cooled. And in the dreams of the travellers their wildest wishes were granted but in reality, nothing else could be taken for granted.

 

CHAPTER 26

The dear deer

Mon and the pigs could not remember when they had had a better sleep.

The skies were overcast with thick black clouds. Not rain clouds. More like smoke clouds. And with no sun to wake them they had slept soundly until an outrageously irresponsible 11.11am. Their shadows had long gone to play in the endless One Shadow.

The pigs yawned and preened and yawned some more. Mon cleaned her teeth like the good girl she was.

All of them wondered what the day would bring. How they would travel and who they would meet, but none of them chose to mention it. Travelling had already taught them not to dwell in the land of ‘If’. (Just like the old Swinainian saying. ‘If the sky were brown it would be the earth.’) There was no point wondering what the “if” might be and what was going to happen. It was better to just let it happen and then wonder about why it happened later.

So without wondering why they were, they were soon trotting trit-trot down the road.

“Strange weather we’re having,” puffed Mon.

“Strange everything if you ask me,” puffed Zanzibah in return. “I suppose it was the right thing to do.”

“What?” Twinkie inquired.

“Coming on this journey,” said Zanzibah.

 

“What. This journey? The journey we are on? The journey that is almost over and you’re wondering whether we should have come. Ha. I’d be wondering where our next epic journey is going to go, Zanzo my fearless leader,” chirped Twinkie.

“Bit late to be turning back, I would have thought,” added Mon.

“It’s just that I suddenly feel something is wrong,” continued Zanzibar, “I don’t know what. Something like that…look…look over there. That’s what.”

Twinkie and Mon followed Zanzibah’s stare and shared a stare there too. The object of the stare was a stone like reindeer staring off into the distance. A hop and a skip and the two pigs were having fun again. Zanzibar had quite forgotten his feeling of doom as he impersonating the deer by adopting the same pose, blank stare and holding his trotters up as mock antlers.

Twinkie laughed and laughed. Laughed until he cried.

Mon thought it rude and didn’t laugh at all.

Finally they all calmed down and sat down.

“Wonder what’s wrong with it?” said Zanzibah wiping the tears of laughter from his glasses.

“Froze in fright, I suspect. Saw a mouse do it once. When it saw a cat.” said Mon.

“What can you do about it?’ inquired Twinkie.

“Kiss it,” laughed Zanzibar, “ A smooch on the mooch. It works in the story books on Princesses and the like.”

So Twinkie up and kissed the deer and dear me if he wasn’t suddenly face to face with a walking talking deer.

Mon gasped and Zanzibar was amazed that his idea had actually worked.

“I got froze when the dragon bellowed a week or so ago,” bleated the deer. “Drained everything out of me. I’ve had it round here. I’m off down South. Buck myself up with a new buck. Why I came north I don’t know.”

“We’re going to visit the dragon,” said Mon.

“Ha, I wouldn’t rush into that. No no. No way,” snorted the deer. “Dragons are….. shall I say…. a difficult breed to understand. Look here you two pigs. And you too human girl. You did me a good turn so now it’s my turn to do a turn for you. Don’t go rushing in the front door. No not up front. Go round the back and seek my friend ‘The Soothsayer.’ He’s the man for you. Council him I say and I say it to you, see if dragons like pigs and people. Yes, do that before you go smashing in the front door like a pack of pigs and people who like dragons.”

And with that the dear deer trotted off.

“Bye,” yelled the somewhat taken aback pigs.

 

“Take care.” yell Mon.

 

“Remember. Seek the Soothsayer I say,” yelled back the deer as it climbed to the top of a ridge only to blend in perfectly with the dull smoky light. Another blink and it was gone.

 

 

CHAPTER 27

The motherless Alfs

 

“She’s bound to want to see us. We’re the Pigs with Purpose,” exclaimed Zanzibah.

“And then there is the song. Little Piggies went to visit the big dragon, durh darh duh…” chirped Twinkie

“No reason not to do what the deer said, though. Sounded like a smart deer I think.” replied Mon as they trotted over a rise in the road and suddenly stopped in their trots and tracks.

Through the haze of smoke and soot they could see Dragon Town for the first time. It was a big sprawling place. Made from precious metals and firestone. Smoke and flames issued from tall pipes. Strange noises and rumbles emitted from its bowels. The countryside around was barren, blackened and wasted. The dragon occupied the complete length of the palace, it’s tail protruding from one end, and at the other end there was a large opening so its head could slowly pop up when it needed to bellow and breathe fire.

On ladders and platforms, Mon and the pigs could see little whitish creatures fussing about. Little warts, like white ants or bugs, crawling all over the palace.

Just so you know, these little creatures were called Alfs. (Not to be confused with lovely, happy elves). They wore white all-in-one overalls. Well they started out life white but now they were very dirty. Stained grey and black. If the Alfs had a mother, she would have waggle her finger in disapproval and demand the Alfs take off their overalls and wash them at once, but since they didn’t have mothers they never washed.

I only say they didn’t have mothers because no one knew where they came from. They just appeared for work one day in nice clean white outfits and when they were old and grey and grotty, they seemed to just disappear.

The Alfs did everything around the Palace. They made the meals. Sort of swept up and turned the lights on and off. They rarely did the latter as with all the dark dragon smoke; it was never really light enough to ever switch the lights off.

They seemed immune to the dragon’s bellowing and only showed emotion when the dragon paid them in gold every ‘Egg crack day’ (the anniversary of the day the she-dragon hatched out of her shell).

The Alfs had heard the pigs were coming and had pickled pomegranates and cooked up a big pot of ginger sweet and sour glaze. Big platters were being polished. Roasting spits assembled. And everything was being laid out for a banquet with pork as the feature dish.

The pigs stared at the palace and were in a daze.

Mon felt very uneasy, very uneasy indeed.

 

CHAPTER 28

What the Soothsayer had to say

 

“We made it. We made it. Little piggies went to town riding on a wagon. Little piggies went to visit the big dragon,” jabbered an extremely excited Zanzibah. “Well we missed a waggon bit but we rode on pretty much everything else. Anyway, let’s go straight in.”

“Let’s seek the Soothsayer first. Please Zanzibar.” pleaded Mon. “Remember your feelings. You felt there might be something wrong. Please listen to the deer and to the Soothsayer say I.”

Zanzibah, on cue, had the feeling of dread again, so after a celebratory, conciliatory three-way hug they were sneaking to the left of the palace in search of the back road.

“It’s not a nice place,” said Twinkie as they finally panted and puffed their way around to the back of the palace.

“Maybe it’s better on the inside,” offered Zanzibah.

“Doesn’t look like it to me.” Added Mon

Then they saw him. He had to be the Soothsayer. If ever or whatever a Soothsayer was going to look like, this would have to be it. He was tall covered in strange finery and in his hand was a long staff. He had gold rings on his fingers and silver rings in his ears. His face was tattooed and his nose had a bone poked through it. On a chain around his neck was a skull of an animal none of them had ever seen. His eyes gleamed and schemed.

He sat by the road. focused deeply off to nowhere.

“Are you the Soothsayer?” stammered Zanzibah.

“Who wants to know?” replied the Soothsayer, in a gruff flat voice.

“Err two pigs. One Zanzibah and one Twinkie, and an ever so polite girl called Mon” said Zanzibah with a bow. Twinkie bowed as well.

“The deer sent us,” said Mon with a slight bow of her head.

“My dear friend the deer. A dear friend of yours too? Then you’re a deer dear friend of mine,” replied the Soothsayer somewhat less gruffly.

“How do we obtain an audience with the Her Grandness, the Grand She-Dragon and have a grand party with dancing and…Oh…and what does the she-dragon think of pigs oh do tell Great Soothsayer?” asked Twinkie.

“And little girls,” added Mon.

“What’s it worth to you?’ questioned the Soothsayer.

“What’s what?” said Zanzibah.

“The information. What have you got for it deer friends?” demanded the Soothsayer.

 

“Err. Err. We’ve got,” Zanzibah nudged Twinkie. “We’ve got a…a thimble,” said Twinkie with relief.

“Got hundreds of thimbles I have. All thimbled out really. What else have you lot got?” questioned the Soothsayer looking slyly skyward.

“We’ve got…. we’ve got.” started Zanzibah again and looking at Mon for help.

“A book on understanding fish tails,” finished Twinkie.

 

“Ow. Fish tails. Wondrous things, fish tails. Always wondered what they were wagging so wonderfully on about. A book on fish tails? Now that would look good in my vast library. That will do the job just fine. My word, hand it over pigs and little person and you’re paid up subscribers to all the soothsayer wisdom on pigs and she-dragons.”

“And little girls and dragons.” Added Mon.

“And little girls as well I’ll tell,” the Soothsayer did say.

Twinkie opened his basket and found the book. He handed it across and the Soothsayer started reading. The pigs stood and waited. Then Mon started coughing to gain the Soothsayer’s attention.

“Oh you lot. Great book. Good book. Now. Where were we? Pigs, oh yes. Dragons and pigs. Pigs and dragons. Oh yes.. and little girls too. Well she dragons, Grand Dragons… love pigs. They’re not so mad about little girls.. but pigs.. she loves ‘em”

Zanzibah’s eyes lit up. Twinkie beamed. And the Soothsayer went on “She loves them barbequed. She loves them broiled. She loves them baked and grilled. Raw is fine too, in fact she loves to eat them just about any old way a pig can come.”

 

CHAPTER 29

The pigs meeting a dragon

 

“Haven’t you heard that song, pigs? The Pigs and Dragon song?” puzzled the Soothsayer.

“What song?” shrilled the shocked and shaking pigs in unison.

 

“Let me see. How does it go…?

Little piggies went to town

Err Riding on a wagon

Little piggies went to town

To visit the big dragon.

The dragon had a fiery breath

Huff Huff Barbequed Pork

Huff Huff Barbequed Pork

That’s it. Funny, thought being pigs and all you would have

heard that one.”

 

The Soothsayer went back to fishing about in his new book.

The pigs shook.

Barbequed Pork crackled like a neon danger sign in their piggy porky brains.

As for Mon, suddenly all her doubts and fears had been answered.

And in the Palace the she dragon stirred. When Twinkie had opened his basket the smallest hint of pig smell had escaped passed the pungent truffle odour. It drifted gently as a butterfly right into the right nostril of the she-dragon and in her brain Barbequed Pork flashed like a neon diner sign.

She roared. The pigs squeaked. Mon shrieked. And the Soothsayer, bored by it all, read on.

The smoke and haze started to swirl. It was as if it were being sucked into the centre of Dragon Town. Then, as suddenly as it was sucked in, it was spewed out again followed by the dragon herself.

Huge silver scaled wings flapped. A massive tail with its pin sharp arrowhead tip uncoiled and slashed about. Four sets of giant claws dangled down like killer cargo cranes. And an enormous silver smoking head targeted our pigs in a ruby-eyed stare.

The flapping noise alone would have been enough to petrify anyone, but when it was combined with the roar of flames spurting fifty feet from her nostrils, the she-dragon stopped our supposedly fearless travellers on the spot.

They froze. Not moving a whisker, an eyelid or little finger. They barely even breathed.

 

The dragon landed with a heavy thump just a sniff or so in front of them.

 

“My pigs. My sweet, succulent little pigs,” snorted the sickly smiling she-dragon.

 

“What now?” quietly thought Mon.

 

“My gosh,” slowly whimpered Zanzibah.

 

“My fly swat,” quickly thought an unusually brave and totally out of character Twinkie.

 

And just as the dragon was licking her lips and dreaming of dinner, Twinkie unclipped his fly swat from his belt and swatted the dragon fair and square on her sooty snout.

Now you might think a pig hit with a mere fly swat would have no effect on a mighty she-dragon what so ever, but for someone who has only ever had their own way, even the slightest scald can be somewhat arresting and a slap on the snout positively devastating.

The dragon was so shocked she was, in an instant, reduced to tears – howling, gushing great flooding tears.

 

CHAPTER 30

Fly away home

 

As the dragon blubbered, a terrorised Twinkie screamed, “Run everyone.” “I am,” screamed a zooming Zanzibah.

“Two steps ahead of you Twinkie Winkie,” yelled Mon.

 

They ran and ran and ran.

They ran though the ground trembled and the sky was filled with the fire and howls of the weeping she-dragon in distress.

Up hills, through trees, and just when they thought they could run no more, they ran into a clearing and could not, for the umpteenth time this incredulous journey, believe their collective eyes.

“It’s a plane,” shrilled Mon.

“So it is.” concurred Zanzibar.

“So what. We don’t know how to fly it,” gloomed Twinkie.

“I do,” said the plane.

“Well of course you do,” patronised Mon.

 

It was an old bi-plane. The one with two wings, one on top of the other, and open seats in a row with nothing but a small windscreen between the pilot, passengers and the wind. It was made of canvas and wood that made it look rickety and creaky. The front was one huge face wearing big grin and with a propeller stuck on the end of its nose.

“Just need batteries, charge me up, get up and go, bit of power, that’s all,” purred the plane.

“Batteries? Got some,” said Twinkie still in a rush to retreat from the she-dragon. “Where do they go?”

“Give them here,” yelled Zanzibah, who had already jumped into the cockpit and was pulling out the old battered batteries.

Twink handed them over toot-quick and scampered on the back of the plane. Mon was right behind him.

 

“Here we go,” said the plane and Mon and the pigs were airborne once again.

 

This time however Zanzibah agreed whole-heartedly that pigs could not only fly, but should fly.

 

“Fly to the sunrise,” yelled Mon.

“I’ll fly anywhere,” screamed the plane. “I just love to fly way up high passed the sky, let’s all try. Fly, fly fly.”

 

Below, and belonging to an earlier time, they could see the main road to Dragon Town and the dragon still snivelling and rubbing her nose with a poor bewildered Alf she had randomly grabbed. Soon she was relegated to the deep distance. Then way below were the Truffle mounds, the Waterway and the Great River. Next the land slug and soon in quick succession, everything else they had seen along the way. Finally, like lost ladybugs, they saw their own houses – home sweet homes.

All three of them wept as fast as the wind rushing by could wipe their tears away. They were so happy they could have sung.

“Down there thank you Mr Plane Sir.” Screamed Zanzibar.

“Call me Percy,” replied the plane as it plonked them into a paddock out the back of Zanzibah’s house. They leapt to the ground, loudly exclaiming how they had missed it and knelt down and kissed it. Then they all kissed the plane. Percy spluttered and coughed with embarrassment.

No matter how hard they tried to convince him to stay, he insisted on flying off and enjoying the joy of his new found batteries.

“Call by when you need some more,” called Twink as the traveling trio waved goodbye. “Anytime truly!”

They all then turned and walked to Zanzibah’s house. It felt like such a short walk to end such a long journey.

Inside, Mon and Twinkie sat at the kitchen table while Zanzibah made a cup of tea.

“Barbequed! Well I’ll be,” laughed Twinkie and slapped Mon on the back.

“Last dragon I want to see.” Replied Mon.

“Righto.” Replied Twink.

Then he turned to Zanzibar and to the surprise of all said, “Well where to next, Zanzibah our fearless leader?”

“I suppose I had better go out front and check if I’ve had any mail.” sighed Zanzibah.

“Good idea.” said Mon. “Don’t get lost!”

“And don’t start talking to anything,” laughed Twinkie pig.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Postscript

 

One day a week or so later the piggy pals were out in Twinkie’s front garden tending the poppy patch.

Mon was in their kitchen baking a batch of her famous current scones.

A young William weasel was walking by. “Hey youz lot ever go see that dragon?” he enquired as politely as a weasel could.

“We did,” Twinkie replied on behalf of the pigs and Mon.

“Well wot you doin’ here then?” enquired the weasel less politely and more weasel like.

“We came back,” replied Zanzibah with just a hint of indignation.

“Well didn’t he Barbie you like the song said then?” continued the weasel inquisition.

“She, not he, wished to but we didn’t wish it, so it didn’t go quite according to the song,” replied a now terse Zanzibah.

“Orr we larfed when youz took orf and we’s all heard the last verse and all. I was gunna chase you up but I didn’t know which ways youz gone and youz know how weasels are. Don’t knows which way from which,” sniggered young William.

“Well one day we must show you which way is which Weasel William,” interjected Twinkie with an air of learned authority.

“What day will that be then?” questioned a wide eyed William.

“Well when next we go on a journey,” said Zanzibah.

“I should like that, I should,” replied William Weasel as he sauntered off down the road, “I can just imagine myself on a journey with a pair of brave pigs I can. And a polite girl… like Mon here. What a tale of a tale that would be.”

 

THE END

 

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