“What is that?” Juneberry whispered to Sebastian. “That’s a clown,” Sebastian whispered back. “They’re supposed to be funny.” Juneberry moved away from the carousel. “I don’t think clowns are funny at all,” she said. “No one does,” said Sebastian.
The clown moved toward them, his hands up. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.” He had a surprisingly gentle voice. “I just didn’t want to interrupt your conversation. My name is Michael. I’ve been left alone here. When the attack happened, everyone ran out in a panic, taking every car and bus and truck available out of town. The only vehicle that was left here was the little tram we use to give children rides around the grounds. I told my business partner, Carl, that we should drive it into town and pick up people who needed rides out, especially the children, but we got into an argument about it. Carl wanted to save our own skins, you see. We fought, and then he hit me over the head with something and I passed out. I just woke up a few minutes ago, and I see that he’s taken the tram, leaving me stranded. And he knows perfectly well I’ve got a family!” Michael turned away. “I’m sorry,” he said, composing himself. “I am very worried about them. I have to assume they fled along with everyone else. Do you know where everybody went?” “No, but we have some friends waiting for us at the veterinary clinic,” said Sebastian. “You should get your injury checked out.”
Juneberry stepped forward, no longer afraid of the clown. “Is your head hurting?” “Oh, no,” said the clown. “It’s just a little bump.” Juneberry smiled at him. “I think all the children must be all right,” she said, “because we’ve been at the school, and there was no one there. It looks like everyone got away.” “Thank goodness,” Michael said. “I had asked my father-in-law to pick up my little girl from school. I hope they’re OK. Luckily, my wife was visiting friends outside of town today, so she must be safe.”
“Sebastian, since Michael is feeling all right, maybe you should take Michael in your plane and try to find his family, instead of going to meet with Tracy and Lara,” said Juneberry. “I’ll go with Spot to meet the others at the vetenar—veteri—the clinic place.” “Follow me,” Sebastian said to Michael. “I’ll help you up.” Sebastian gave him a boost onto the plane, and then he said, “Just a second. Let me say good-bye to Juneberry.” “Yes, of course, good-bye, Juneberry. Thank you,” Michael said, as he climbed into his seat.
“Are you sure about this?” Sebastian asked Juneberry. “Will you be all right on your own?” “Oh, yes,” she said. “We fairies are hardy, don’t you worry. Spot and I can find the others. We passed Bell Street on our way here, I saw the sign.” “Well,” Sebastian said, “I hope to see you very, very soon, then.” “You will,” said Juneberry.
Sebastian boarded his plane. “Hold on, Michael, here we go!” he said, and started the engines. Juneberry and Spot moved back to make way for the plane’s takeoff. Juneberry was surprised at how noisy the plane was, and how much wind it made. But when the plane rose into the sky, she sighed with amazement. “I had no idea that humans could fly so well,” she said to Spot. “You learn something every day.”
Juneberry and Spot followed the road back into town. They encountered no one. They walked and walked until they finally reached Bell Street. Here, too, it was very quiet, and the buildings seemed empty. Juneberry wondered if her friends had already left, when she heard the distant sound of voices. She and Spot ran toward them. She had found her friends! They were standing in front of the clinic. There were several animals with them—Dr. Pelt’s patients, Juneberry assumed. Lara and Tracy were very relieved to see their friend again. “But where’s Sebastian? Is he OK?” asked Lara. Juneberry explained what happened. “Well, I hope we will see him again soon,” said Tracy. Juneberry looked around. “Where’s Ruby? Is she OK?” “Yep, good as new,” said Lara. “She’s inside with Dr. Pelt. She just has a sprain, that’s all. The doctor is bandaging her ankle.” Just then, Dr. Pelt emerged from the building. “Well! You must be the famous Juneberry! It’s a pleasure to meet you.” “Nice to meet you, too, Dr. Pelt,” said Juneberry. “Thank goodness you’re here.” “Of course! I would never leave my patients, especially in a time of real crisis such as this one,” said Dr. Pelt. “I hope I can find their owners. And your friend Ruby is taking a bit of a rest now. As far as I can tell, she and the baby are just fine.” Juneberry smiled with relief.
Then Dr. Pelt turned to Spot. “And you must be Spot! Tracy and Lara have been going on and on—and on—about you. I must say, you’re not frightening at all. Why, you are simply fantastic! In all my years as a veterinarian, I have never seen such a splendid specimen.”
“So, what do you know, Dr. Pelt? Where is everyone?” asked Juneberry. “I believe they have all assembled at the airport, at the far reaches of Happyland Valley. Everyone has left town. Well, not exactly everyone.” “Dr. Pelt says that there is one person who refuses to leave, even though he has a van,” said Lara. “Who?” asked Juneberry. “Mr. Kindling,” said Dr. Pelt. He owns the toy store next door. I have my patients to look after, and only a bicycle to bring me to work, but I do not know why he insists on staying on. I’ve asked him several times why he doesn’t just get into his van and look for the others, and I’ve asked if we could share the van to take these animals out of here, but he will not answer me. He is an odd fellow as it is, but today he has been acting very strangely, even for him. I have decided to leave him alone.” “I’ve tried knocking on his door,” said Lara. “But he won’t answer.”
Suddenly there was a crash and beeping sound, coming from the toy store. They all looked over, and they saw a face at the door. “It’s Kindling,” said Dr. Pelt. Dr. Pelt waved to him, but Mr. Kindling only stared.
Mr. Kindling began looking around nervously. Then he turned around and said something. “He just spoke!” Juneberry said. “Maybe he needs help!” She ran to his door. “Mr. Kindling, hello! Please come with us to the airport! That’s where all the Happyland people have gone. Will you join us?” Juneberry heard the man mumble something, but he remained standing with his back to her.
“My young fairy, I would leave him alone,” said Dr. Pelt. “He has obviously decided to stay to guard his shop. It is his right.” Juneberry reluctantly returned to her friends.
A minute later, they heard the sound of a motor. “What is that Kindling up to now?” said Dr. Pelt. “No, no, it’s coming from the road,” said Lara. The sound came closer and closer, until they could see that it was none other than Michael!
“What are you doing here, Michael?” said Juneberry. “Everyone, this is Michael. Sebastian and I met him when we went to the carnival… Michael, where is Sebastian?” “Well, he and I were flying around looking for my family, and we discovered that all Happyland residents are at the airport.” “Yes, we just found out too,” said Juneberry. “But why did you come back here?” “Well, while I was there, I also found out that—” “Michael, is that you?” said Ruby, limping out to them.
“Ruby!” exclaimed Michael, and ran to her. “Thank God you’re all right!” They embraced. “You mean Ruby is your wife?” said Juneberry, delighted. Michael held Ruby’s hands. “Yes, Ruby is my wife. I thought she would be with everyone else, but—” “Yes, when the attack happened, I went in search of Bianca,” said Ruby. “Please tell me you’ve found her!” “Yes, yes, don’t worry, she’s just fine. You see, I was in the middle of doing a show, so I asked your father to pick her up. They’ve been together all this time.” “Oh, what a relief. What a relief,” said Ruby. “But how did you know I was here?” Michael chuckled. “Well, Sebastian and I were talking, and when we compared notes, I realized that he had spent the whole morning with you! And someone lent me this motorcycle, so that I could come get you.”
“But where is Sebastian?” Juneberry asked. “Ah. Well, some of us feel it’s safest at the airport where we can all be together, but some people want to get as far away from here as possible, in case there is another attack. So, all the planes are busy evacuating those who want to leave. Sebastian decided to help out. I told him I’d bring back news of you.” “I’m sorry, everybody, but I really need to get to my daughter,” said Ruby. “Please excuse us.” “You mean you’re going to ride in that contraption, in your condition?” said Tracy. “Why don’t you lie down on one of our bunks? We’re all going to the same place, after all.” “Thank you so very much for that, and for all your help today. You saved me,” said Ruby. “But I can’t be separated from my family again. And I feel just fine, except for my ankle.” Michael helped Ruby limp to the motorcycle and into the sidecar. “See you soon, good people,” said Michael. He and Ruby waved and drove away.
Juneberry was suddenly hit with a wave of emotion. “What is the matter, young fairy?” asked Dr. Pelt. “Oh, I just miss my own family, is all,” said Juneberry. “I hope they’re all right.” “I’m sure they are,” Lara said, patting Juneberry’s hand. “Your family lives deep in the forest, well hidden from view. I’m sure they are the safest people in the world!” “We better get going,” said Tracy, “because our own safety is still questionable.” “Quite right,” said Dr. Pelt. He and Tracy rode in the back of the camper with the animals, and Juneberry and Lara sat up front. As they pulled out and passed the toy store, Juneberry called for Mr. Kindling one more time. “Like Dr. Pelt said, leave him alone,” said Lara. “I guess he doesn’t want to be with other people.” “OK,” said June, sighing. “We tried.” And off they went to the airport.
TO BE CONTINUED
(Sets by Nica)