TRAIN FLIGHT

Furry Friends

by Elizabeth Newton

(Trafford Publishing)

Chapter One

Show and Tell

The pale little girl waited eagerly for her turn. She wriggled and fidgeted on the floor, hardly listening at all to what was being said up front. Frustration and restlessness tore at her gut and her impatience boiled as she realised that a talking superhero action figure with movable arms really wasn't that interesting. It was a mercy only three comments or questions were allowed, only one comment was particularly and excruciatingly long due to the shy stutter of the commenter. But finally, the wonderful moment came when the speaker said, "Thankyou for listening," and the class replied "Thankyou for sharing," and Miss Reynolds said those magical words:

"Okay, Ruby, you're next. Up you come."

Ruby jumped up with a smile from ear to ear, ran to her desk and grabbed the ice-cream container she'd poked holes in the top of, and carried it over to stand in front of the class. She smiled at the class and licked her lips as if she was about to devour a large plate of ice-cream cake. She waited, purposefully building up the suspense for them. But to her dismay it only made them restless and some began to whisper amongst themselves.

"Year twos," said Miss Reynolds, "I would like to see more manners from the audience please. If this was an opera, those whisperers would get thrown out by the ushers. Now, show Ruby the respect you would like to be shown, thank you." Then she looked kindly at Ruby and said, "The stage is all yours."

She began with a long and whiney "Well...

"...On Friday, I found this little thing on the playground. It's a little creature..."

She started to undo the lid, slowly.

"...and I think it's really weird, but I also think it's really cute. I decided to look after it and when me and my grandma went to the zoo yesterday, I took it with me so I could look after it..."

"It's in there is it? This... creature?" Miss Reynolds asked nervously, half expecting to have to get up and watch from the back of the room.

Ruby answered, full of disappointment. "No, this is where I kept it. This was his little home, but... at the zoo, I lost it."

She held the container almost vertical so that the class could see the little environment Ruby had made for it in there.

"...it got out somehow," she continued, "...and that's when all the animals from the zoo started to disappear."

"So the big surprise of where you were going to take me for my last trip... an interesting, but harmless place anywhere in the universe!... is Adelaide. Australia. Earth," Evie was saying, mega-ly disappointed. She decided at that moment never to get excited or look forward to anything ever again. She'd been tricked. It was just like that time when she was nine, just five years ago. She was watching T.V. with her brother James, quite late at night, and her mum came into the loungeroom and said, "I've got a surprise for you," beckoning her up the hallway with her index finger. Evie couldn't imagine what it could be, and she was getting all excited until her mum turned into the bathroom and presented her with her toothbrush with a blob of toothpaste on it all ready for her to use. Or when for years she'd wanted a pet kitten and just about every birthday, her dad would surprise her with another toy one.

She certainly hadn't expected an unpredictable, enigmatic, space and time-travelling, adventurous lunatic such as the Captain to be the one to do it to her next. Well, never again.

When Evie Bamford stepped off the Train all she saw was a road full of traffic in a place she recognised, from being driven past it every morning on the way to school. "Captain!" she called over her shoulder. "That's not fair!"

The Captain heard her from where he was inside the Train's engine room. What she was saying couldn't possibly have made any sense. As far as he knew, he had just taken both Evie Bamford and Paulo Vistar to a planet in the Tuba Galaxy where there are many different kinds of harmless animals that Evie would have marvelled at. So what wasn't fair? He rushed out of the engine room, through the cozy, wood-panelled carriage and tumbled out into the open air bumping into the back of them. "That's odd," he said with a confused frown.

"Don't pretend," said Evie, indignantly. But then her annoyance subsided and she sighed. "I suppose you're right. I should let my parents know I'm okay at least."

"No, honestly," said the Captain, "That wasn't meant to happen! Believe me..." his voice trailed off as he saw something very long, very fat and very scaly pounding across the road. It caused many cars to stop suddenly, triggering several collisions and sending the smell of hot brakes into the air. "...and I don't think that's supposed to happen either."

At first, Evie and Paulo thought he meant the car crashes that had just occurred right in front of their eyes, but then they saw what it was that had caused the hullabaloo. Evie's instinct was to run. The Captain knew not to make any sudden moves. Paulo didn't know what to do, for the simple reason that he'd never seen an animal like it before. But if I assume that you, the reader, are from Earth, (unless of course you're not, in which case welcome to this lovely and fascinating planet and I hope you enjoy your time here), then I will assume that you've probably seen one of these yourself. If not in real life, then definitely on a television documentary, on the Internet or in Peter Pan. Walking at its own leisure across the road–either completely oblivious to the calamity it was causing, or malevolently prowling the land, seeking out whom it might devour, depending on which way you look at it–was a huge, green and gold, scaly, terrifying, real-live crocodile.

Paulo, seeing the Captain and Evie's reaction to such a sight, said, "I gather that animal doesn't typically wander the streets of Adelaide, then."

When its cold reptilian eyes suddenly looked towards them, Evie's hands leaped up to her mouth in a gasp.

As if smelling her fear, the crocodile locked its gaze onto her and took a step toward the travellers. Then, before the Captain could say "Shooting Star!" the crocodile was after them–charging forward with its powerful, stumpy legs.

All three of them yelped quite uncontrollably and the Captain shouted out, "Back onto the Train! Quick!" He let them pass through first, took one last glance at the magnificent, smiling creature and its magnificent shiny teeth and then sprung up into the Train himself slamming the door shut behind him. He lunged toward the controls and got the engine going.

"It won't be able to get in, will it?" Evie asked in a panic.

"Not straight away, but if it keeps bashing and bashing at the door, I'm sure it will find a way... through the hole it makes."

"What?!"

"Don't worry, that's why I'm dematerialising."

"Oh. Well hurry up, before it starts bashing!"

"But the Train's invisible, Captain!" said Paulo.

"Not invisible."

"Alright alright, not invisible, but like an optical illusion. Shouldn't the crocodile not be able to see it?"

"Probably won't stop him from bashing into it..." then he said, quieter, "...in fact, it probably makes him more likely to bash into it."

Suddenly, there was a big BASH! and the Train rocked.

"Captain!" Evie said anxiously.

"It's alright now. We're on our way," the Captain said with a flick of his wrist as it came down on one of the controls. The engine room had two main control decks. One was in the centre of the room which had the furnace in its core that occasionally had to be fed with a special type of coal called Carnane Fuel and at which the Captain was standing now, and the other was along the far side of the room–at the front of the Train, above which was a wide window to look out of.

"On our way, where?" asked Evie and she started making her way towards the other windows which were on either side of the carriage room. The carriage was beautifully furnished with an old fashioned standard lamp, a bookshelf stuffed with books and two luxurious sofas opposite each other and it was above these where the windows were. However, Evie saw that the shields were across and so she couldn't see out.

"Where are we going, Captain?" Evie said, hoping for the Tuba galaxy.

"We're going to the zoo. What's the nearest one you reckon?"

"It'd be the Adelaide Zoo."

"Not a very original name," said Paulo.

"Right," said the Captain, "I'll set the coordinates."

"Can't see what that will do," said Evie.

The Captain knew she was referring to the Train's current difficulty in getting its passengers to where they intended to go. "It's because of that tragic, grizzly villain that got in here and tried to get the Train to work when I'd locked the controls up. I haven't had a chance to examine what kind of damage he did. I'm afraid it's made her a bit unpredictable. But we might get there."

Evie wasn't feeling very positive about the Captain's comment which was reeking with uncertainty, but she hated being negative about things. "We could pray that we get there!" she said cheerfully.

"Go on then."

She suddenly got a rush of butterflies, and it was clear on her face.

"You don't have to do it out loud," the Captain said.

She was relieved.

While she was quiet for a little while, the Captain rematerialised the Train and asked Paulo to push a button that was near him. They could now see out the windows.

"Look at that!" the Captain said with delight. It looked very zoo-like outside.

Evie looked surprised and then said, "Never mind, God, we're there!"

The Captain looked at her and rolled his eyes. "Oh you're one of those people are you?"

"One of what people?"

"People who ask God for something and when they get it, they tell God to forget about answering that particular prayer because it's just happened. That's one of my pet hates, I'm sorry. What does it say in the Bible? Ask and it shall be given to you. What did you just pray for? And who then, do you think was responsible for getting us to the right place?"

Before Evie had an opportunity to respond, (but after she had a small chance to smile a bit in realisation), the Captain said, "Shall we go?"

If you enjoyed this sample, please purchase this book or others in the series from the Trafford Website or from most online bookstores.

Books in the series so far...

Book 1 - "Moon Man"

Book 2 - "The Birth of Salvation"

Book 3 - "The Sanctuary"

Book 4 - "Furry Friends"