We find our gang waiting for Paul, while Mark and The Eagle remain stuck in the tree. What is Paul up to, we don’t know. But he will do something, won’t he?
The dogs were barking more aggressively now as the apple tree in the YARD OF NO RETURN creaked and swayed, making Ada wonder how long the branches of the apple tree would hold Mark and The Eagle. Long enough for Paul to get back with some help? Ada wasn’t too sure. It seemed to be taking forever for Paul to… well, that was part of the trouble wasn’t it? She didn’t really know what they were waiting for Paul to do. Ada was pretty good at practicing her patience. She knew time seemed to drag when you had to wait during an urgent situation, but that didn’t make it any easier to do nothing but watch and wait, wait, wait for Paul.
“Paul just joined with a kindergarten class that’s standing outside near room 3!” Leela shouted out as she peered out in the distance back at the school grounds. These updates from Leela did nothing to make Ada feel any better. Why would Paul be joined up with the Kindergarteners? Trying to recruit help from the tiniest hands available? It did not seem like part of a plan.
“Uh-oh, looks like Paul got caught by Mr. B… oh wait, he’s leaving the Kindergartners,” Leela announced. Phew, ok, that was some progress, maybe, Ada thought.
Ada looked in the direction of the kids milling about on the school’s field, hoping to get a better view for herself of Paul in action so that she didn’t have to rely on Leela’s stressful and somewhat useless updates. Suddenly, Ada heard a groan from the tree. She looked back just in time to see The Eagle swing out onto the branch, apparently trying to climb a little higher in order to get a better view of where Leela was looking. When The Eagle tried to climb on to that upper branch, he moved across and stepped off the table he and Mark were sitting on. By stepping off the table, The Eagle changed the weight distribution of the table, and… Ada heard herself thinking like her dad and smiled a little. Weight distribution. She would have to explain that to Mark and The Eagle later. If they didn’t get eaten by the dogs.
Mark was shouting loud enough to be heard over those pointy dogs, which was impressive. “Sit down man! You’re going make us fall!” Mark was yelling at his friend with just a little panic in his voice, “Why you gotta be like this? Leela’s telling us what is going on. She’s reporting back, man! You always gotta look for yourself, look for yourself, look for yourself. If your climbing up to get a better look for yourself causes this branch to break, and I get eaten to death by dogs, I’m going to come back, man. I’m gonna come back and haunt your sorry self for the rest of your days! And if we both get eaten to death by those dogs, I’m gonna get reincarnated right next to you in the next life, just so I can beat you like a rug every day, and if there’s no such thing as reincarnation—”
“It looks like he’s back with our class… kind of hard to tell though,” Leela shouted, a little louder than before in order to be heard over Mark. “What colors were Aliyah and Aisha wearing today?”
Ada heard another groan from the tree. The table slipped and crashed down on to a lower part of the tree, scaring the dogs, scattering them for a moment. As the branch settled it gave a last little sag which loosened the one leg of the table that had been previously wedged in. The table slowly tumbled out of the tree with a great series of cracking and wrenching noises, taking many branches along with it. Mark for his part had fallen off the table and landed on another branch in a way that looked pretty uncomfortable, to say the least. For a moment, he just sat there with the branch between his legs wincing and breathing quickly. The fact that Mark wasn’t letting out a long string of Rated TV-MA words might have worried her, but she could see that he was alive and clearly breathing. Albeit in a lot of pain. At least Mark had enough sense to keep clinging on to the branch, because the table falling had given Mark’s branch a pretty good shake.
The Eagle glanced down and said, “Bombs away!” grinning as he watched the pointy dogs run away from the tree again to avoid being crushed by the table. It was good to know that even though they were pretty scary, they could in fact be scared off. In the end they were just dogs and Ada supposed that any dog would act like just like they were acting if their territory was invaded by objects and people falling from the sky.
Mark found his voice again as he clung on to the branch, and said with a hoarse croaking that did not sound good, “Eggels, I do not want to die in this tree or below it. Stop shaking the tree!”
The Eagle’s grin only widened, as he turned to look out on to the school yard to see more of Paul’s whereabouts. The Eagle, having excellent vision, called down to his friends, “Hey, Paul’s going back to the classroom! I just saw the last part of his red shoe crawl through Ratchman’s window.”
“Greenwald has lost his mind,” shouted Mark, weighing in on the subject.
Five very long minutes later, Paul was still working on it. Whatever “it” was.
“What’s he doing in there?” Leela asked, to no one in particular.
“Taking a lunch break,” scoffed Mark from the tree. He seemed to have recovered from his painful branch landing.
Lyle jumped to Paul’s defense, “Well at least he had an idea. What was your idea? Sit there in your tree until you grew a beard to make a rope and climb down on that?”
“Ha, Ha, Ha, laugh it up Lyle, you know this fool ain’t ever gonna grow a beard!” Mark said pointing to The Eagle.
Losing her patience with her friends, Ada said, “Cool it you guys, Paul said he’s got it, let’s give him a chance…”
“A chance to do what? Eat all our lunches while no one is looking?!” Mark yelled.
Ada glared at Mark but didn’t respond. Paul had better come through, Ada thought.
“He’s out!” The Eagle announced. “Wait…he’s stopped. His foot is out the door, but he’s not going anywhere, just looking back in the classroom. Hey, you think Ratchman’s still in there and he just got snagged?!”
Ada, standing on the very tips of her tippy toes, she could see the back of one of Paul’s red sneakers sticking out from behind the brown metal door, but something wasn’t right. He wasn’t coming out. The Eagle might be right, Paul was either busted, or worse.
“Greenwald’s out and running!” The Eagle announced.
Ada now saw Paul in full view and yes, indeed he was running. He was running as fast as she had ever seen him run. Paul only ever ran if things were really, really bad.
Laughing slightly, The Eagle called out, “Matter of fact, he’s running fast. Oh– that’s… a…fast moving pig.”
Lyle turned his head quickly to The Eagle and jabbed an accusing finger up at him, “Hey man, not cool. Paul doesn’t call you baldy. Don’t make fun of him for being fat!”
“No, he’s right!” Leela said.
“Leela! Not cool!”
“Lyle, look!” said Ada grabbing Lyle’s head and turning it to see Paul.
“Oh,” He sounded relieved and surprised all at the same time. Relieved to know that his friends were not all jerks, but deeply surprised to see Paul being chased by what appeared to be a giant wild pig.
Paul ran through the school yard, away from the crowds, past the school grounds, in a bee line for the fence on which the gang was standing. The was pig close behind and closing in fast. Ada knew how dangerous pigs could be and that Paul had only one chance.
“JUMP!!!” she screamed.
Paul heard her, and he jumped.
And it was a good thing he did, because the pig had just put on an extra burst of speed at that precise moment and would have stuck poor Paul’s considerable backside with its razor sharp tusks. But as it happened, Paul was not poked with its tusks, and his considerable backside landed squarely on the pig’s back. And boy, was that pig not happy about it.
The pig squealed and put on another burst of speed to try to get away from the boy that was bouncing on its back. The wind rushed through Paul’s ears and despite Paul’s ample cushioning, his poor bottom ached as it bounced mercilessly on the pigs wiry back. He held onto two bristly handfuls of hair and screamed and screamed and screamed as he held on for dear life to the rampaging hog.
If you had just walked by the scene at that moment, you might have mistaken the situation for a boy-guided, pig-missile aimed at a group of children posted on a wooden fence. As the hog barreled forward, the children all seemed to register the imminent danger at the same moment and jumped off the fence. This was just in time as one moment later, the “Paul-and-Pig Express” slammed into the wood fence in an explosion of splinters and broke straight through to the other side where they hit the hefty trunk of the apple tree with maximum force. Paul was thrown off the pig and hit the trunk of the tree so hard everyone heard a hollow “Crack!” echo through the air. He tumbled to the ground.
The crash didn’t seem to slow the pig down one bit. If nothing else, crashing into the tree made it all the more enraged. The pig shook off the shock of hitting the tree and turned to find Paul, laying on the ground behind it. Gathering all its strength, it ran, full-charge, at Paul.
“Paul!” Ada screamed.
Paul looked up just in time to see the pig heading straight for him. Paul froze.
Ada did not want to witness what was about to happen. She closed her eyes, scrunched her face up tight, and turned away, dreading to see her friend get hurt, or worse.
Will Paul become a pancake after being run over by a raging pig? How did a pig come to chase Paul in the first place? Will the gang get Mark and The Eagle safely out of the tree in THE YARD OF NO RETURN? Find out in the next chapter of Surviving Storybrooke, out soon, in our next ETM update! Stay tuned!
Kelly Raine is an artist, writer, and educator. He teaches children and likes the idea that he is pitching in to make the world slightly better. He wears a lot of black and wakes up very, very early.
© Kelly Raine, 2018 All Rights Reserved.