THE SECOND CHAPTER
Dominick found the penguin outside, leaning against the back wall of The Happy Hamburger, flippers crossed in front of its chest.
“Thank Bose that I have found you at last,” the penguin said
“You can talk?” Dominick said.
“Of course I can talk.”
“But, you’re a penguin.”
“Actually, I’m a pixie.”
“That is correct. One of the faerie folk. I am called Vivian,” the penguin held out its flipper, offering to shake.
“Vivian the pixie?”
“Yes. I am a pixie. I am called Vivian.” If a penguin could be said to smile, Vivian was doing just that.
“But you look like a penguin.”
“Yes, yes I do. I chose a form that would allow me to blend in with your world. I didn’t want to cause any undo excitement or mental trauma to your people.”
“You chose the form of a penguin?”
“You like to repeat things, don’t you? Is that a typical human trait in your world, or are you having cognitive issues?”
“Well, it’s just that we don’t have any penguins in Kansas outside of a zoo.”
“The penguin is not native to your land?” Vivian said, looking a bit concerned.
“No, not at all,” Dominick said.
It had suddenly occurred to Dominick that he was handling his current situation with utmost aplomb. Anyone else would be freaking out under such circumstances, but not Dominick. It made him feel more than a bit proud of himself. It was an odd feeling.
That was when the other penguin appeared.
“Vivian, what’s going on?” the other penguin said. “Did you give him the sword yet?”
“No, Harold, I have not given him the sword,” Vivian said. “There’s some confusion in the matter of our disguises that I am trying at the moment to work out.”
“What’s wrong with our disguises?”
Dominick seemed to have been forgotten for the moment. This was a shame as he found himself practically itching to ask about this sword he was supposed to be given.
“It appears,” Vivian said. “That the penguin is not indigenous to this particular region.”
“But Rick said–”
“Rick was wrong then, wasn’t he?” Vivian interrupted him.
“Look,” Vivian turned to Dominick. “Would you mind just waiting here for a moment while we get this all sorted out?”
“Um, no . . . Er, did you something about a sword?”
But he received no response as Vivian and Harold waddled away.
Dominick tried to follow. The two had moved off the lot and into the dumpster pen behind the Happy Hamburger.
The dumpster pen was where you could find the trash dumpster, that is if you were the sort of person who spent their idle time going out and looking for trash dumpsters. The pen itself was a tall privacy fence made up of vertical wooden planks. It surrounded an area about the size of a small bus but was open at the front for easy access to the dumpster by the city trash collectors. The happy Hamburger’s dumpster, like most, was rusted with flaking green paint. Sitting next to the dumpster was a green and rusted grease trap where Dominick often visited to dispose of the used oil from the fryers each night. There’s never been a joy known in life like the glee one is able to experience when visiting a fast food grease trap.
Dominick watched as the two penguins waddled between the dumpster and the grease trap and decided to go in after them, despite the smell of rancid beef that was all part of the Happy Hamburger dumpster pen. Yet, as he rounded the corner behind the dumpster, the penguins were gone.
Dominick scratched at his head, pondering for a moment if today was truly happening. A lizard man? Penguins? Pixies. Maybe he’d finally inhaled too much of the fumes from the cleaner fluid he employed each day to remove the caked on grease from the front of the fryers. Possibly this was all a dream and he would wake up at any moment in the comfort of his bed. Then he looked at his arm where the lizard man had taken hold of him earlier. He could see the bruises forming there. He wasn’t imagining those.
But still, Vivian and Harold seemed to have disappeared. He realized how long he’d been gone now on this quest of his to find more medium fry boxes and figured it would be best to get back to work. Otherwise Mr. Finkleton was going to come looking for him. One thing you never wanted to do at the Happy Hamburger was make Mr. Finkleton do anything outside of his daily work activities. Never make a cop run, and never make Mr. Finkleton come look for you. If you did either, you weren’t going to be happy about it.
Dominick left the dumpster pen and made his way across the lot. After just a few steps he learned that despite the worry of incurring the wrath of Mr. Finkleton, Dominick wasn’t in any real hurry to return to work. He’d been privy to a much larger world in as little as ten minutes and that’s likely to shake most people. And as Dominick is most people, he felt a little shaky.
As he crossed the lot and reached the back door, Dominick sighed the kind of sigh that poets can only dream of sighing themselves as they wallow in a state of creative melancholy and gaze forlornly out at a damp Scottish moor. Then, as he was about to take the handle in hand and yank the door open, he heard a voice from behind.
“Dominick,” the voice said. “Where are you going?”
Dominick turned to find a pair of, well . . . he wasn’t quite sure what they were behind him. They were about a foot long and looked a bit like elongated rats.
To be continued . . .
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