Earthbound: A Hero Chosen (book 1)

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PSY 37: Gruff Decisions



Tessie made her way through the frigid wind and water. Her large body broke through chunks of ice with ease. More than once, I nearly lost my footing on the slippery lake monster's back. All the while Bubble Monkey hopped up and down chattering. Tessie would respond each time with a grunt or groan, which made me wonder if they were having an actual conversation. The possibility remained I'd just lost my mind. Perhaps I'd fallen into the lake and now existed in some existential dreamland, frozen, one day to be woken up many years in the future. Or I'd just read too many comic books.

The great lake creature churned ahead as my heart raced. To my relief, snowy landfall came into view not so far away.

"Please just let me off of this bloody thing!" I whimpered silently.

Moments later, Tessie swam up to the edge of the shore. She lowered her neck horizontally and held still. Bubble Monkey looked back at me, then hopped and cooed. I stared at the neck-bridge in horror. At widest, I could see it to be no more than two feet.

"I think I'll just stay here!" I said.

Bubble Monkey screeched, and Tessie groaned the loudest I'd heard. It probably meant she planned on submerging with or without me on her back. She probably found more comfort under the water, away from the wind.

Tessie's back, upon which I stood, shuddered and lowered half a foot into the water. I jumped and squealed as I ran out onto her neck. Bubble Monkey sounded like it laughed as it hopped onto land, turned, and waited.

"I am one with Tessie, and she is one with me!" I cried and ran across the monster's neck.

With the greatest leap I could muster, I flew through the air and landed on my knees in the snowy grass. I rolled, collecting the white powder all over my coat.

Shakily, I stood and looked to Tessie, but I didn't see her anywhere. The huge lake stood before Bubble Monkey and me, the water still.

"Huh? Where'd she go?" I asked.

Bubble Monkey leaped onto me, causing me to shriek. The simian crawled around my back and planted his butt on my shoulder. He then proceeded to blow a bubble and pop it loudly in my ear.

"I'm not giving you any more gum!" I snapped.

The monkey smacked me in the side of the head.

"Ow! FINE, you can have more in a while!"

He chattered happily.

A sigh escaped my lips, which came out as more of a huge screeching grunt. I slapped my hands over my mouth. How had I made such an awful noise? I opened my mouth, and another screech erupted out. As I shook my head and held my trap shut, I knew one hundred percent; I'd gone mental. Bubble gum chewing monkies, lake monsters, and now this. Either I or the world had become a great big looney bin.

Then something curious happened.

With my mouth shut, another screech came; but it hadn't come from my mouth after all. As I turned to my right, I adjusted my glasses. A billy goat, the size of a moose, stood just a dozen meters away. Two curved horns protruded from its head, and it bore a great Santa Clause beard. All of its fur appeared matted and tangled, and even from the current distance, I could see something malevolent in its eyes.

The gruff goat opened its mouth, and there came that same screech.

"Oh, it wasn't me after all. Thank gosh!" I whispered.

It kicked its leg out, lowered its head, and screeched again. Bubble Monkey cried in my ear, and I realized then what the goat meant to do. I dove to the side as the insanely quick beast charged past me.

It bellowed, skidded in the snow, and turned to face me once more.

"Nice goat!" I pleaded. "Don't hurt me! You've no idea what I've gone through since I left the boarding home."

The goat shook its head and cried out, glaring with bulging eyes. It charged again and this time, I held no position to dodge. With great force, the goat tore into me and sent me tumbling meters and meters. I only stopped rolling because I hit a big rock. The wind blasted from my lungs, and I arched my back in pain.

"Ow!" I finally gasped a moment later.

The goat screamed as a madman would, and I could hear its hooves thudding in its next stampede. Drawing the Pop Gun from my messenger tangled messenger bag, I scrambled away. The gruff goat slammed into the rock with a great crack. I spun on the crazed beast and held out my pellet gun, hands shaking. It grunted and turned its head sidelong to stare at me with the stink eye.

"Look, Mr. Goat, I don't want any trouble!" I said.

The animal snorted, and snow blew from under its head. It kicked its leg again, preparing to charge.

"I'm sorry!" I cried and pulled the Pop Gun's trigger.

It screamed again, but this time in agony, as the pellet found a way into one of its bulbous eyeballs. Black liquid poured down its face as it shook its head.

Jake A. Strife

Edited: 15.10.2019

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