885- Bards and Big Bunnies | Otter Things Ep1
Four friends role-play and gather resources in a small place in the swamp. Emma Otter will take you on a sleepy journey where all will be well.
Black Lives Matter. I cannot create a safe place for everyone without stopping to pause and look at what changes I need to make to support that fact. When I say “you deserve a good night’s sleep” it means black lives matter. I have a lot more work to do to back up my words with my body, mind, heart, and spirit. I support the Bail Project – https://bailproject.org/
I am trying to gather more resources here- https://linktr.ee/dearestscooter
Here is a list of Anti-racism resources- http://bit.ly/ANTIRACISMRESOURCES Here is one place you can find support during this or any crisis. If you have more please share them! https://www.crisistextline.org/
EPISODE 885 – Otter Things S1 E1
[START OF RECORDING]
SCOOTER: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and friends beyond the binary, it’s time for the podcaster, patrons…I’ll be honest with you; one half of…I’m wearing shorts and one half of my short…one half of one half of my shorts, so a quarter of my shorts are wet, or damp. Only ‘cause I got splashed. Or no, I was carrying something that I washed. It wasn’t splashed…it was wet. I was carrying it next to me, kind of like being splashed. But I’m gonna splash you with lulls, patrons, and you splash me with kindness and support so I can be here on a regular basis. Thank you so much for that. What do you say we get on with the show?
INTRO: [INTRO MUSIC] Hey, are you up all night tossing, turning, mind racing, trouble getting to sleep? Trouble staying asleep? It’s time for Sleep With Me, the podcast that puts you to sleep. We do it with a bedtime story. Alls you need to do is get in bed, turn out the lights, and press play. I’m gonna do the rest. What I’m going to attempt to do is create a safe place where you could set aside whatever’s keeping you awake. It could be thoughts you’re thinking about, thoughts, things on your mind, feelings; like any emotions coming up for you, physical sensations. It could be anything, a lot of different stuff. It’s stuff; holy cow, it’s always there. Sometimes it’s stuffed up in there, so whatever it is that’s keeping you awake, I’d like to take your mind off of that and the way I’m gonna do it is I got this nice, safe place all picked out. It’s all set aside for you; you could pick out your part of the safe place. You don’t even have to pick it out, actually; you could just lie there and be like, I’m somewhere over there. Can you imagine that?
That could be a new kind of…Sleepy Movers. Now, just hear me out; it’s probably the wrong time to talk about this so I’ll try to come back to it, Sleepy Movers, because I better explain what the podcast is to the newest listeners. Welcome. What I’m also gonna do in addition to taking this safe place and letting you arrange…have me arrange it for you, is I’m gonna send my voice across the deep, dark night, I’m gonna use lulling, creaky…lulling, soothing, creak, dulcet tones, pointless meanders, superfluous tangents. I’m gonna go off-topic. Oh boy, am I gonna be…I’ll be off-topic and then I’ll be back on-topic and then I’ll be off-topic again. Superfluous…what did I say? Pointless meanders, superfluous dialogue, extra words, sleepy moves. The only moves I got are sleepy. You say all those…Scoots, so you’ve been working on your moves, huh? Oh boy, have I. Oh yeah, Scoots has got moves, the moves that put you to sleep.
I say well, those moves weren’t intended to put anybody to sleep; those were supposed to be my…I had my fancy moves, my hot moves, my smooth moves. None of those put you to sleep, too? Oh boy. Okay, well, so pointless meanders…oh, all to take your mind off of stuff and be here, actually, to keep you company while you fall asleep. Now, if you’re new, a couple things to know; one, I’m glad you’re here. Two, is this podcast normally takes two or three tries to get used to. A recent reviewer said one or…you know, somewhere between one and four times. Give it one to four tries. The reason for that, one, is if you’re listening to a sleep podcast, you’re probably naturally skeptical and doubtful about it. You say hm, what is this you’re getting me into here? Or what are you really up to? There’s that which is totally normal. If you’re doubtful or skeptical…I’m a skeptic most of the time except when I’m that other thing; gullible. Well, I guess most of the time I’m gullible.
But the rest of the time…I’m skeptical because I’m so gullible. Talk about a paradox. I’ve been working my whole life to try to get outta that. Maybe today’s the day. I say you know what? I’m gonna be open-minded but with limits. I guess that’s where I’m striving for. There’s a problem solved, maybe. Oh, so but you’re…I’m here to help you fall asleep. If you’re doubtful or you’re not sure, this podcast is very different than everything out there. Give it a few tries and just see how it goes. I will tell you this…what was I gonna tell you? I forgot. Oh, so if you’re new, a couple things to know, other than this podcast is strange; one, this is a podcast you don’t really listen to. You kind of barely listen and you kind of do that by just kind of saying hm, okay, I’m gonna pay attention here for a few minutes and see how it goes. Well, he’s kind of not talking about anything. Maybe I don’t have to pay…you kind of let it bounce off your ears, or let me kind of go out of focus. Just kind of barely listen, kind of like this moving sleep company I’m coming up with next.
There’s that, so don’t…it’s a pod…the one podcast you don’t listen to. The other thing is, this is a sleep podcast but believe it or not, it’s more here to be here while you fall asleep and to take your mind off of stuff. My job is to walk at your side and distract you while you fall asleep or while you drift off. I guess another part of my job is to ease you into bedtime which kind of segues nicely into the other thing that new listeners can find a little bit off-putting, I guess would be one way to say it, is the structure of the show. The show starts off with a greeting; ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and friends beyond the binary, because I’m so happy that all of you are here and I want you to feel acknowledged and seen and know that your sleep is important to me. Then we go into business, and the business is what enables us to bring you to the podcast for free, so that’s cool. Then after the business, around six or eight minutes into the show, we go into the intro and that’s where I ease you into bedtime.
This can throw some people off because the intro’s around…it goes from around minute six or eight to around minute twenty or twenty-twoish. When I say ‘ish’ I mean, pretty…I always shoot for the…to shut the recorder off at like, eighteen minutes, but you never know what’ll happen, where my meanders will take us. Nowhere, I mean, mostly, but on a journey to nowhere. Sorry, I went off…so, the intro, the whole idea of the intro is it’s really long. Initially you say what do you mean, the intro’s eighteen minutes long? It doesn’t really make any sense. I’d say exactamundo, as the Fonz says. But really, what the intro…the purpose of the…the purpose the intro serves is…I’m laughing just ‘cause I…my words were out of order there. If my words were a machine, it’d always say ‘Out of Order.’ You’d say is that Out of Order sign because your words don’t work? Your word machine doesn’t work? No, no, it’s just a heads up that any words coming out of my word machine will be out of order.
But so, oh, so the intro is so long and meandering. One, the show has an intro to greet you and let new listeners know what’s coming up and what to expect. It also kind of gives you a overview of what the show will be like overall. But also, for regular listeners, the regular listeners, believe it or not, 98% of regular listeners listen to the intro or fall asleep as the intro goes on because it’s part of their bedtime routine, it’s part of their wind-down. Because if you’re listening to this show, you’ve probably faced some kind of sleep issue before. For most of us, it hasn’t been an easy thing to fix and we’ve tried the easy stuff or the magic stuff or you know, the stuff that you pay money for. None of that really has worked well, or at least hasn’t worked instantly. Anything that’s been part of a slow and steady thing usually works better. The intro’s kind of that in a microcosm; it’s a slow and steady journey into bedtime. It’s a slow wind-down.
Some listeners, if you become a regular listener, some listeners start it before they get into bed, as they’re getting ready for bed, either on their sleep phones or their headphones, or there’s just their phone in their pocket or their smart speaker. You don’t even have to be in the same room as me to not listen to me. That’s how convenient this podcast is. You could say well, I can almost hear Scoots down the hall. You know, just barely hear him over brushing my teeth and washing my face, doing my skincare routine. Then I’m gonna balm my elbows, kiss my shoulders, maybe give my biceps a little pecky-poo. I can almost hear him before that smooching, between the smooches on my biceps. Then [00:10:00] some listeners start the podcast as they get into bed and start their wind-down routine, or their bedtime routine. The intro just kind of eases you into bedtime. Then, after the intro, will be business. That’s just kind of podcast structure. Then there’s a story.
Tonight, it’ll be our first episode of our new episodically modular serial story; Otter Things. That’s O-T-T-E-R T-H-I-N-G-S, so that’ll be fun. It’s gonna be a nice story about otters and other creatures that live together in a swamp. I mean, talk about bedtime material. Then there’ll be some thank yous at the end of the show to say goodnight. That’s the structure of the show. Those are the kind of things to know. But yeah, to come back to that image of…the idea of the show is what if there was a moving…this would be the moving service I would offer, so hear me out. We would have to have a magic-user on staff or some powerful stuff because you say okay, so tell me about this Sleepy Movers. I say okay, well one, we’re licensed and bonded, totally…double-licensed, double-bonded, triple-insured, so don’t worry about that. We got all the accreditations. We’ve even gotten accreditation from a ROYGBIV Institute ‘cause Scoot invented that anyway.
That’s more for holiday lights to make sure they follow the ROYGBIV protocol. Anyway, so yeah, it’s a moving service where you go to sleep and we move your stuff while you’re sleeping. You might say, including me? We say, that is an offer in our package that yeah, we’ll move you and your bed. Don’t worry, we have all the technology to make it 100% totally dreamy and comfortable. Yeah, we do have a hyperbolic thing so it’s like, if you’re going across the country, totally, we could…you could sleep for a few days if you like. Some people do it…that’s just a bonus. They say wow, I slept for a week too, and I moved and I woke up and everything was moved. A lot of people think it’s a gimmick but the one thing we’re known for is arranging stuff while you sleep. We work out a plan ahead of time but we’ve also figured out a way to basically communicate with you while you’re sleeping to move your furniture and lamps and stuff around. It kind of goes like that. You just say uh-huh, uh…no, no, no, over there.
No, up…no, that’s crooked. Please…okay, perfect. Okay, no, no, no, let me see how that looks over there. Okay, turn it to the left. Okay, back to the right a little. Oh boy, that’s good. Okay, now just fix the lampshade. Now fix it a little bit more. Okay, great. Okay, wait…now turn it back a little. Okay, good, good. Okay, now…no, wait…okay, push it back one…no, now…okay, good, good, good. Alright, now over there, I want that vase moved over…uh-huh. Oh boy, uh-huh, uh-huh. That’s kind of how it goes. Believe it or not, it actually works. Now again, we have a magic-user on staff and we do…we have lasers. A lot of it’s laser-based and technologies from alternative universes that we’ve acquired, and multiverses. We do a lot of the moving on a transverse plane. But you’re gonna be sleeping through all that anyway. Yeah, just go uh-huh, uh-huh. Believe it or not, then it’s stress-free ‘cause you don’t even have to think. When you wake up you say okay, that’s pretty much how I wanted it.
If you say well, I’d like to move that back…we’ll say okay, we’ll do it for you. Or you could go back to sleep and we’ll do it. It’s taken some adoption to get it onboard. We can’t tell anybody that we have a magic-user anymore. Or only on this podcast, but other…our main marketing. Also, it’s an imaginary service at this time so that’s why it’s…that’s when it’s really working good, is when you imagine it. You say oh boy, yep, oh boy, yep, no, no…okay, no. I want…you put ‘em…you gonna put all my socks in the drawer; great. Yeah, no, no, I like the ones…the tube socks go with my tube tops…yup, mm-hm, and my Hansen DVDs ‘cause I like to say tube top, top-top tube top. I know that’s not…that song is, but I always used to sing it that way when I had a tube top on and tube socks. Okay, good job. Thanks. You can even tip us while you’re asleep and then you can recheck it when you’re awake. You say okay, well, 22% is…I’m gonna lower it to 20%, but you did a good job.
That’s one of the services we’re offering now. We’re really happy and proud to be doing it, in my imagination and possibly yours. But I think one day it’ll take off, once we get the magic-user down and the transporting of you in your bed and all that part, and the subconscious communication or effective subliminal communication. I don’t know if that’s what it is ‘cause it’s kind of like you’re actively participating. We’re working on it. I mean, not really; I always just imagine. I say well, hopefully my imagination will do the hard work, iron out all those things. Then years later I’ll say to my imagination, so how’s the plan for that moving…? Oh, haven’t worked on it. Okay, well, I’ll imagine you did. You say, agreed. Good work. That’s another thing to expect during the show, a pointless meander like that. The last thing I’ll tell you is the reason I make this show, one, is because I’ve been there and I know how it feels in the deep, dark night, tossing and turning and having trouble getting to sleep. That’s one thing.
Then the second thing, is I believe, I know you deserve a good night’s sleep and a place of respite, a safe place where you can lie down and relax without the rigamarole of having to go to bed and the non-fun part. Now, I can’t promise to make bedtime fun. I can only promise to make it not bad. You say well, it’s not as bad as when Scoots is there. Going to bed’s like eh, you know, it’s like that thing. Not bad. Yeah, that’s why I make the show. You do deserve some rest and the world…your world and our world will be a better place when you’re rested. If you’re new, please give this show a few tries. It’s free, so just see how it goes. If it works for you, great. If it doesn’t work for you, check out sleepwithmepodcast.com/nothankyou. But I’m glad you’re here. I really work hard. I really yearn and strive and I really want to help you fall asleep, so thanks again for coming by and here’s a couple of ways we’re able to bring this podcast for free.
Alright, hey everybody, welcome to our…the first episode. Not important though, if you’re hearing this after the second or the third or the fourth episode somewhere in the future, but this just happens to be our first episode of our new episodically modular but also with some more seriality. But still you’ll be able to listen to it every order…in any order and every order, because I take so much time at the beginning to catch you up. It’s part of me tucking you in, is making sure you know where you are. You’re here with Sleep With Me in a safe place which is where the story is but in this situation, you don’t need to be caught up because the main character is just gonna introduce everything in the start…the story begins, I think. This story will only feel never-ending, hardy-har-har, but ideally even this intro…or my…usually, my recaps of most series at the beginning kind of can feel that way; importantly, ‘cause I’m here to keep you company and take your mind off of stuff. This new series is called Otter, O-T-T-E-R. Who doesn’t love an otter? Probably…I mean, maybe an otter’s neighbor or something, or bivalves may not love otters, but we do. This show is called Otter Things. It’s a series about a world of otters and other creatures that live somewhere in a forest wetland swamp, a forest-type deal. Strongly influenced by many things; it had strong influence on me recently and far into the past. I hope you enjoy it and here is our Hollywood presenter, Mr. Antonio Banderas. Scooter, coming to you live across…I’m so glad you could set up a camera for me.
The ladies, the gentlemen, the boys, the girls, the friends beyond the [00:20:00] binary, it’s time for the first episode of Otter Things. Splash. Yeah. Thanks, Antonio. Antonio’s not…coming in through a streaming thingamajig I set up. Now, I did…do always ask you, you’re the only person that’s on mute and it doesn’t sound like you’re on mute. If you ever have…if you’re ever video conferencing with Antonio, he says we’ve checked it; we’ve gone through it. I said are you sure? It shows you’re on mute, you say you’re on mute. You’re the loudest muter I’ve ever heard. When you’re on mute, I can still hear you. Probably ‘cause of your handsome smile and you’re in my heart. He’s on mute, that’s why you can only hear his…I don’t know, maybe it’s just that the sound carries from all the way from wherever Antonio is to here, because I miss him so much. But he’s here, right here with me. Oh boy, do I feel handsome when I’m close to him. Like being in the warm sun. That’s Mr. Antonio Banderas and this is our series Otter Things.
Hey, how are you doing? My name’s Emma Otter and this…I’m gonna tell you a story about me and my friends and the place we live and the events we’ve been through. I’m in eighth grade and this is my radio show about a story of some unbelievable events that me and my friends faced…in my whole town, the place where we live. I’m recording it all for posterity. Hopefully it’ll be on the radio. I don’t know though. But I’m in eighth grade; it’s the fall of 1991 when I’m recording this. I don’t know when you’re hearing this. Maybe I’m listening to it as a much wiser Emma Otter. But my friends, my family, my neighbors, and teachers, everyone in my community, we live in a place…some might call it just a swamp, some might call it a forest. Some would call it a refuge. Some even would call it the Duffer Refuge, but we call it home. I guess it’s a swamp in a forest, or a wetlands area. On all three sides…I guess I could describe to you what it is; it’s got water, it’s got trees, it’s got dry land, it’s got wetland which is land under the water.
On all three sides, it kind of stretches out for what seems like forever. You know, but our town has its general borders and there’s places beyond and places we’ve heard of that we’ve never been, like river bottom and Hinson town, all these wonderful, wonderful places you could go. But mostly, we just stay in our town. People move away to those places. People move away to those places but that’s where we are and on three sides, it just kind of goes on and on from swamp and wetlands and forest. I don’t know, I haven’t been too far. Then there’s one other border on our town which I’ll talk about, on the other side. Well, it’s a road and on the other side of the road is a place we never go. I guess I’m telling you all this ‘cause I want you to know that I’m here telling you this story right now, so everything with Emma Otter and all my friends, and even my town, well, things are odd in my town. You say well, I look at things differently now than I did when this started not that long ago, in the fall of 1991. Everything’s okay and me and my friends are fine, and we’re back to living our lives.
We’re a little bit more mature and we take life and savor it a little bit more here where we live, in the Duffer Refuge. But I just want to tell you that ‘cause clearly I’m recording this and clearly you’re listening to it. You’d probably want to know well, what story are you gonna tell us, Emma? Well, it’s a story about friendship, it’s a story about adventure, it’s a story about parents and authority figures just not understanding. It’s a story with magic and with discovery. But it’s also a story…like, a lot of those things you think about as a kid. I guess I should start at the beginning of this story. There’s the place, I’m Emma Otter, and I live with my parents and my baby brother and my older brother Teffe, and I’m an otter, right, like I said. Your next question might be…I heard you had some friends. Tell us about your friends or tell us about your family. I’ll tell you about my friends first and I don’t like to say who my best friend is ‘cause some people won’t want to hear that, but I have to be honest with you that I do have a best friend and I have other very, very, very close friends.
I want you to know that, if you’re listening. You could be a very, very, very close friend of mine. Maybe you want to skip over this part or plug your ears. Yeah, why don’t you plug your ears if you’re one of my…you say well, am I Emma’s best friend? Just plug your ears if you’re friends with me, ‘cause you are, of course you are if you’re listening to this and we’re friends. You’re my best friend. Now, let’s keep that, and you just…for the next forty seconds, put your fingers in your ears and say best friend, best friend, best friend. It feels really good. Okay, so I’ll tell you my best friend is…her name’s Willow and Willow’s a beaver. Willow lives with her sister Dari and her mom Frances. You know, Willow’s really cool. Then I have two very, very close friends named LJ and V; Elijah and Vaughn. Elijah’s a porcupine and Vaughn’s a muskrat. What we like to do…hi, welcome back, best friend, my best friend and my other friends, my friends and I.
So, Willow, Vaughn, and LJ, we like to play a game called Big Bunnies and Bards. You say Big Bunnies and Bards? In my world, I don’t have that game. Maybe you’re listening or maybe you’re a big fan. You say oh boy, I play Big Bunny and Bards every weekend for hours and hours at a time. But as I learn about this radio and making something, I know I should explain it to you. Bunnies and Bards, Big Bunnies and Bards, we call it BB and B, is a roleplaying game where you take on the role of different bards. Now, it says a lot about where we live in our community and the greater thing is that bards are a big deal where we live. Or, in the olden days they were called bards; now they’re called musicians. I come from a family of musicians and my grand-uncle was a famous musician. My parents are musicians and a lot of my friends and family, they work in music. People come to our community to hear music or to get music or to have musical instruments…music-related businesses and jobs.
Music plays an important part of our lives, from when we grow up…and I don’t know if it’s intentional that the game Big Bunnies and Bards is so popular, because actually as far as I know, just me and my friends play it. All the other kids at school kind of say isn’t that a baby game? I say oh no, no, no, it’s a roleplaying game, a musical roleplaying game, actually. Or if they sigh in music lessons, say rehearsal’s so dull. I say well, you should try playing Big Bunnies and Bards because you get to practice playing music. What if music could be a thing to cast a magical spell or your instrument could be a device where you could use it to defend your town against a big bunny? That’s the roles you play as bards. Different bards…like other roleplaying games maybe you’ve heard of; there’s magic and there’s warriors and there’s princesses and princes and all different creatures, even creatures not from the swamp, from other woodland areas, particularly big bunnies. You might say what’s a big bunny?
Now, I’m old enough to know that…what a metaphor is, but a big bunny is a big part of the game and it is a giant…there’s giant bunnies and they have powers, they’re very powerful in music and magic, and [00:30:00] they’re big. Some big bunnies are fuzzy and friendly. It could be nice, and some bunnies are very voracious and that’s where it kind of comes into the metaphor place, ‘cause in the lore of the game, all the big bunnies, even the ones that say hey, we’re good, we love otters, we love muskrats, we love porcupines, beavers, the big bunnies in the game, they still have a tendency to hoard and eat a lot of food. In our community, in the wetlands, in the swamp and even in the forest areas, winter’s coming, particularly right now. One thing our community relies on one another for…we all make music and we exchange…we have money that we exchange. Even in Big Bunnies and Bards, they have gold pieces, right? But that’s a symbol from the days of bartering.
But a community…a lot of communities, people rely on one another and they rely on their own responsibility to themselves and the community in preparing for winter and storing food or planning their winter foodstuffs. I don’t want to get into the mayor and all that stuff about planning that stuff around…not my job but so, that’s really important stuff for us, is to have…everybody has to have stuff to…winter because there’s not stuff growing and things get a little bit quieter here in the refuge. Now, the big bunny comes in ‘cause what if a big bunny actually did come to your community? Kids, you say well, big bunnies aren’t real, Emma. I’d say really? Well, what if one came and ate all our food and ate all the town’s food? All that, it’s…we know adults think about it a lot but they say well, big bunnies aren’t real. Not having a proper humidity for storage, Emma, the big bunny’s just a metaphor. I say well really, is it or is it not? Because in this story, you’ll learn that maybe metaphors can be more than metaphors. They could be real.
But a big bunny’s not exactly something to be so worried about, but to be concerned about. Then the game of Big Bunnies and Bards…actually, let me just tell you, this was a Sunday and me and my friends Willow, V, and LJ and I, we were playing a game of Big Bunnies and Bards. I was the maestro, as they call it, leading the game and telling the story. It was…again, once again we had gone and we had discovered a stronghold full of these nuts that had been dried in the sun. But at the same time, we were gonna bring them back to a kingdom that hired us to save the day. I guess I always include myself. I always imagine I’m in the party even when I’m playing as the maestro. I guess they call it empathy, they call it. A little bit…to be a good maestro, you have to empathize with your players. But so, there they were, LJ, Vaughn, and Willow. Of course, right as they were about to seal up this stronghold full of nuts, a big bunny approached over the horizon. First, they could feel it.
They could hear its chittering sound or whatever you want to call it, its salivation and moving its mouth. They could hear its whiskers brushing across the treetops and see its cute one ear…one of the two ears flopping even, as it bounced towards the stronghold. Just one thing in mind; securing the stronghold for itself and maybe hoarding our food. My friends Vaughn and LJ and Willow started to argue; hey, make sure…we gotta…we’ll use…first we’ll use ranged music and then we’ll use the spell of unwinding. What if we take…what if we throw some of the…they were arguing back and forth. Finally, Vaughn kind of said well, what if we use Willow as bait? We’ll put Willow there and then…Willow said I’m not bait, you know. I’m a magic-user. I can use my songs to weave a web to protect…they said well, it’s too…this bunny’s too big. This is the largest bunny we’ve ever faced. This is the big bunny. It went back and forth and back and forth, running through everything they had as the big bunny still approached.
Then LJ said Willow, I think you’re just too scared to be bait, even. Don’t you want to do…this is a plan that’s gonna work. Then Willow…at first Willow had a frowny face and said jeez, well, that’s…I don’t want to be bait, or I don’t want to be…I want to enjoy this fun game with my friends. But strong feelings are an important part about coming to a consensus in this game. So, Willow took a second to think about what had been said, and then Willow said I’ll show you some bait. I have an idea. They said what is it, Willow? She said double-bait. I said what do you mean, double-bait? Willow said I’m gonna cast a spell of imaging where I sing a song and I’m playing a song of protection. It’s just an illusion in front of the stronghold as the big bunny approaches. The big bunnies are also very, very intelligent. If the big bunny is anything like most big bunnies we know, it’s the big bunny. It’ll know that, just like you were saying, that we’re leaving…we’re trying to draw the big bunny in.
Willow said at the same time, I’ll open up a satchel of nuts and I’ll use…also use my song of carrying to be able to carry a thousand times my body weight and I’ll carry a thousand times my body weight in nuts away from the stronghold, because there’s tens and tens of thousands of nuts here. I’ll lead the big bunny away and you go to the…ride to the town and get the people from the town to come and take the nuts from the stronghold back to the town, for the town was in a region that the big bunny could not reach. Other powerful magics…just part of the story, you know. I said okay, well, we have to roll the dice to see if any of these spells actually work, Willow, on the big bunny. Then just as Willow got to…got ready to roll…first, we had to roll for initiative to see…the big bunny was still out of range. We had to roll a few dice to resolve some things. My mom called downstairs; Emma! Emma, you still playing that game down there? Do you know what time it is? It’s bedtime and dinner time; you missed dinner. Your friends need to go home.
I said mom, we’re just about…she said N-O-W spells now, Willow. I tried to talk her out of it but the game was over and actually, Willow had thrown the twenty-sided dice on the floor. My friends, they got ready to leave. Of course, on the way out, Vaughn of course had to stop and say hi to my brother who Vaughn thinks is the coolest; Teffe, my brother. Always looking like the smoothest otter in town. Not a lot going on between my brother’s ears but my brother is a very attractive otter, and witty. Anyway, Vaughn said jeez, hey, what’s up Teffe? Said hit the road, Vaughn, I’m looking at my hair in the mirror. My friends got ready to go. They had their water bikes and everybody got on their water bikes and we said goodnight. They headed off. They said oh, we’re gonna race all the way home. Then before they left, Willow said jeez, I don’t think I…I don’t think that roll would have worked. I said well, that was a good move. That would have been a good move to double-bait.
Who would have thought that idea? I don’t care what they say; that’s a brave move to lead the big bunny away. Willow said thanks, thanks, thanks, Emma. They hopped on their bikes and they headed off, headed home. Now, like I said, my friends headed out and maybe you say well, you kids, you sound like [00:40:00] you spent a lot of time imagining and roleplaying. Isn't where you live the wetlands and the refuge a bit boring? I’d say it is, most of the time. Like I said, the most interesting thing about the refuge, as far as adventure goes, is a place we’re never allowed to go which is a road, they call it, and it has strange noises that come through it and strange beings. We’re not even supposed to go and look at it even though we can hear it sometimes. The road rises up and runs across the border. But right in the middle of the road, there’s also what they call a tunnel that leads under the road or somewhere else we don’t even know. We’re never allowed to go there.
There’s other things; there’s structures on the other side of the road that we could see. Of course, we go…we never go…we’d never go to the tunnel. But we sit there and we’ll sit on a log and look at it and see these strange beings that just go back and forth. Make up stories about them or play music. We’ll dare each other, of course, to go in the tunnel. Every kid does that, that lives here at Duffer Refuge. There’s even like, these gates that go up and down sometimes. Water flows in and water flows out. It’s very mysterious and we’re just told never to think about it and never look at it. We’re asked did you look at…where have you been? Have you been out near the road…anywhere near the road? Remember, never go…everything we’re taught is never to go there. Now, Willows’ the least expensive place to live ‘cause Willows’ just Willow’s mom, sister, and her. It’s not that far from the road, where you can even hear the road sometimes when the whatever it is makes the noise on the road.
Just barely from Willow’s room, that’s one of the windows we’d sneak out. But anyway, that night they were riding their water bikes home, my friends. They split up finally and Vaughn and LJ headed back to their houses. Willow started to head back to her house. Maybe it was that we played the game for so long or maybe it wasn’t, but Willow thought she heard the sound of a big bunny and even ran her water bike right off into kind of a piece of…patch of dry land not that far from her house. She left her bike and then she was convinced she could hear the sounds of the click-click-click, hey, I’m fuzzy, fuzzy, fuzzy of a big bunny. Willow got it in her mind and ran. Oh boy, a big bunny. I gotta get home, gotta get home, gotta get home. As Willow ran home, Willow was positive she saw carrot droppings and said oh no, I gotta get home. Then she ran through her house and her mom and her sister hadn’t gotten home from work yet, so she ran out to their storage shed where they store their winter foodstuffs and tried to double-lock it and just see if the big bunny or big…little bunnies, even, had…she said what if it’s even little bunnies in there, looking around?
Willow ran in there and still was convinced Willow could hear this big bunny bounce, bounce, bouncing, just like Easter morning for some of you. You say oh, the cute little bunny’s coming. But Willow’s saying to eat my food…family’s food. Now, like I said, everything’s okay as I’m telling you this story, so I don’t want you to worry. One of the reasons things are okay in our town, and one of the ways…not everybody voluntarily shares resources or shares things or abides by everything, so we have a community resource officer. We call it the Chief. A resource team…and our chief’s name is Leon, but he goes by Bull. He’s a big bullfrog. He’s a bit grouchy. We didn’t really know Bull that well. You’d see him around town lumbering and he had this big bullfrog voice. But it was known that Bull was one of the few bullfrogs that didn’t like to sing; never played any music and never came to any of the concerts or events we always had in the town. He lived out on one other edge of the swamp, far…not near the road but far out on his own.
He was, yeah, the bullfrog that didn’t like music. But Bull was a good and fair chief of community resources and he cared really deeply about our community and the job, though he wasn’t perfect and he liked to go to work after everybody else had started. His gruff exterior…his co-workers loved him and when he would show…this one particular Monday, in our story, he showed up to work and they said wow, chief, you’re right on time. It’s almost lunch. He said okay, okay, well, not quite ready to start the day. It’s Monday, it’s all…still Monday, all the rest of the day. He said I need some time to breathe through my skin so I’m gonna go in my office and…they said well, we’ll…chief, Frances the beaver said that Willow’s not around. She can’t find Willow. I said okay, well, I’ll deal with it. Then Bull walked into Bull’s office and there was Frances the beaver, Willow’s mom. She had woken up and started to get ready for work, and so did Dari, Willow’s sister, who’s the best student.
Not the most popular kid at her high school. We go to middle school still. But she’s a real good student, a bit stern though. But I guess they had woken up and they said well, where’s Willow? Isn’t it time for school? But Willow wasn’t there. They said well, I wonder where Willow is. They called my house and said is Willow there? No. But at this point, Frances said jeez, isn’t it weird that Willow’s not around? Chief Bull said well, come on Frances, Willow’s in eighth grade and some beavers, they decide…they get…especially…Willow’s father was a traveling musician. Maybe she’s got a bit of the musician wanderlust and she headed out on her own. Frances said but Willow’s just in eighth grade. The chief said well, that’s when some beavers get the wanderlust, especially musical beavers. Frances said she’s not like other beavers; she’s not like we were when…hanging out at the tunnel or whatever. Frances’s mom…Willow’s mom Frances, I mean, had kind of developed an idea.
Sometimes it’s a friend’s fault and she said I think they were playing that game BB and B. Those other kids…Frances is a little bit less confident and assertive than the other kids. I bet you they double dared Frances to go near the road. I’m positive of it, chief. Then chief said well, I don’t know. I’ll deal with it but I’m pretty sure it’s just…I’m gonna have to accept the fact that Willow’s growing up. They went back and forth and then Frances left thinking jeez, maybe the chief just doesn’t understand. Now meanwhile, we had gotten to school and we noticed that Willow’s water bike wasn’t there. But we figured that Willow walked or got a ride to school from her sister. We headed into school and we had to deal with these pesky kids that thought, again, I think that BB and B is a kids’ game and they’re always giving us a hard time. B-U-L-L-I-E-Ss, a couple of weasels that…just on our case. They have their River Bottom band jackets and everything like that, act like they’re all cool.
But that was okay ‘cause we happened to have our favorite class that day; Science of Sound with our favorite teacher Russel the moose. Science of Sound was just about the science of using sound which we all…’cause we loved music but we also loved the sounds of the whole area. After class, our teacher told us great news; I’ve got in this new…we’ve been working on this giant sound collector on the roof of our school, above the [00:50:00] trees where you could catch all sorts of sounds and collect them. It’d just be a giant funnel, almost, and funnel the sounds. You could listen to them more clearly and you could also talk into it and maybe we would always imagine that someone out there could hear us. Oh, another thing is, you know, is that of course my brother is too much, so as soon as he got to high school…he’s actually…he’s always like, I’m the hottest otter in town and that I have the best otter hair. He was always trying to convince Willow’s older sister Dari to go out with him.
He was spending the whole day and she was saying well, I have to study. Also, I’m trying to figure out my brother…my sister…also, I’m trying to figure out where my sister…maybe she’s grown up or maybe your brother put her up to a double dare. That’s what my mom says. My brother, of course, Teffe, was like well, let’s hang out and talk about it later. But secretly, I think Dari thought that my brother was dreamy, just like everybody else does. They don’t have to live with him. I said what is in your hair? Is that some sort of algae? Oh yeah, that’s what gives it the glow. Anyway, so we went with our teacher, Teacher Russell, to go and start to look at this next phase of the sound collector we were working on, and of how we could start to even more clearly funnel it so we could listen in and hear stuff, all these strange and amazing sounds; birds and water, the road, and other things, and say wow, we could even hear people playing music in River Bottom, not that the music there is very good.
But right as we started setting it up, Chief Leon showed up and said I need to talk to you boys. We had to go back to this place where he worked, the station. He said I want you to fess up and tell me the truth; where’s Willow? What did you put her up to? We said what are you…of course, Vaughn and LJ tried to blame each other; said well, he called…said coward, and I said she’s bait. It was talking and talking, then finally the chief said please be quiet, in a deep, bullfroggy, creaky, dulcet tone. Everybody got quiet. Then Vaughn and LJ started arguing again. No…he said did you double dare Willow to go near the road or the tunnel under the road? Tell me now, beyond the road? Said no, no, no, we would never do that. We know the rules and we wouldn’t put…Willow would never do that anyway. We would never put Willow up to that. The chief said are you sure? I was a kid that wasn’t honest. When I…when the teacher would say okay, it’s time to be honest; no consequences, I would keep my mouth shut.
The chief said because of that, I know that I know you should know that I’ll get to the bottom of this one way or the other. If you did double dare, triple dare…don’t use the technicality and say well, it was a quadruple dare. If you tried to get Willow to take something like that just to prove bravery or whatever, let me know. We said no, no, no, really, we didn’t do any of that. The chief looked us all over and said okay, okay. Then we said well, where would Willow be, then? The chief said well, you know, maybe…does Willow…would Willow have wanted to go out on the road and start her career early? Maybe busk somewhere in a bigger town or something? We said no, no, no, that’s not Willow’s style. Willow isn’t ready to head out on her own. The chief said under the chief’s breath, goose chase. Then he said okay, okay, don’t worry about it. He said well…we said what do you mean, goose chase? If it’s a goose chase, we want to help. The chief said no, no, no, you boys go home.
That’s it, period. End of story. No kids helping out. Just to kind of tell you what a goose chase is, so another thing, other than…is at some point, and I don’t know what it is with rivalries and stuff, but there’s a group of geese. They came from another magical place called Canada and for some reason, they have this idea of stirring up trouble. It’s one of the things the adults really are concerned about and what the geese like to do is lead…what they thought is that the geese led Willow on a goose chase which is like, to just make fun of the kid, but also maybe make them head out on their own earlier than they’re ready to. Sometimes they do that by saying hey, I think you could have a career. Then they say well, you know, we’ll help you get started; let’s head to River Bottom. Or they say hey, I wonder what would happen if you moved…why don’t you move to the next town? With some of the adults, ‘cause these geese really didn’t have…they were up to something or they would just do it for fun and then watch it and say wow, look at that beaver swimming around.
Like hey, we set up this adventure course for you and at the end is a year’s supply of nuts or whatever, or whatever your family consumes. But there never was and then usually the kids were gone for like, a week or two searching, and then they would come home, they would be tired. It drove Chief Leon nuts so he wanted to just put a stop to it. That’s what he thought was happening, was that the geese came in again. They hadn’t done this in a long time and he had personally dealt with it with his own…in his own life’s journey. He kind of was…had a resentment against these geese. He was sure they were up to it again and somewhere out there they were leading Willow on a goose chase. He was determined to put a stop to it. The chief headed over to Willow’s house and of course went out and started looking around and noticed…out by their storage room, said well, looks like Willow was out here, Frances, in the back. Frances, of course, was very concerned.
I don’t think those kids sent your daughter on a goose chase. I think that’s a double dare. I think it might be a goose chase. Then, of course, Frances was like well, I don’t want my kid on a goose chase. What if she stubs her tail? Or what if the beaver…or the goose…geese get it in her mind to have her…start her own career before she’s ready or whatever? The chief said jeez, it’s weird, I found a combination of goose feathers and bunny fur out in the shed, covered in some sort of goop. Have you ever caught any geese or bunnies in your storage shed? Said no, might be old. My ex, he used to keep…I don’t know what he was doing in that storage shed when we weren’t storing stuff for the winter. She said okay, I’m gonna get together a group and we’re gonna go on a geese-looking thing. We’re gonna put a stop to this geese chase and I’m sure that’s what happening. It’s gonna be totally fine so don’t worry at all. Now while all this was happening, out beyond the road, there were buildings and there were things going on there, odder things. Odder than an otter, I’d say.
You know, we never knew what it was but we would know there’d be strange noises or puffing smoke or whirring in addition to the sounds on the road. This particular night, as it started to come, there was a lot going on out there, a lot of noise. If we were out there, if we had not…if we had listened in the sound collector, we would have heard more and more activity than had been. We would have also heard the creak of the gate on the tunnel, then we would have heard a gentle swimming as something swam through that. A little tiny…well, about the same size as an otter, swimming through, gently paddling and looking around, something that was a little bit lost, I’d say. Eventually that lost thing paddled towards town, hungry for a snack. [01:00:00] Now, it wasn’t a big bunny; I could tell you that. It happened to go to Sullivan’s Pancake House, and old Sullivan was there. Nicest person in town, runs the pancake house; also a diner. This little thing snuck in the back door of Sullivan’s Pancake House and Sullivan was slinging those pancakes and telling jokes and greeting everyone and being kind.
This little thing plodded on all fours and then got up on two legs and started eating pancakes right off the assembly line before their toppings had been properly added. Sullivan found out and said hey, what in the hey are you doing? Eventually, because of the big size of Sullivan’s heart, said I’ve never seen anything that looks like you before. You look like you’re pretty hungry. Why don’t you just sit down and we’ll have…we’ll eat together. At first it was tentative and Sullivan says it’s okay, I’ll close the pancake house down. It’s past pancake time. It’s not pancake o’clock after eight. Sullivan sat down with this thing. Now, this thing…I guess he said well jeez, what’s your name? You spend a lot of time on all fours. You’re not like us walking on two legs. The thing didn’t say anything back. It just said…well, you’re a hungry one, for sure. You got a name? I’m Sully, you could call me; Sullivan. You could call…and looked like the thing looked back and smiled.
Said well, you look like a beaver but you got a bill. Alright if I call you Billie? B-I-L-L-I-E, you know, because I don’t know…I just know…I’m not…how’s that feel for you? Billie said Billie, and nodded its bill and its beaverlike head. Sullivan said jeez, go ahead and keep eating, Billie. Never seen anything with webbed feet, either. I’ll be right back. Sullivan went out back and went inside and tried to call this…another division of the chief’s office that just keeps an eye out. Says jeez, I got this…I got somebody lost here and I think they lost their way home and they don’t really talk much. Never seen anything like it. It’s got a duck’s bill and a beaver body and webbed feet. They said okay, we’ll send somebody by. Now, the one thing you might not know is that the person on the other end of the phone wasn’t in our town. They were on the other side of the road. Somewhere deep in a building on the other side of the road was also a fox, a fox named Dr. Max Modine, wearing a lab coat and leader of whatever was going on back there. Very mysterious, very odd.
They said Dr. Max, we got them. We know where they are. Dr. Max said let’s go. They headed out in these whisper-quiet boats towards Sullivan’s pancake house. At first, just regular innocuous person. Well, another forest friend went up to the door and knocked. Sullivan said oh hey, we’re closed; it’s past pancake o’clock. They said oh, no, no, winkety-winkety-wink. Sullivan said oh, okay, they’re in back. Oh, and I forgot to tell you though; well, I’ll just explain it now. But meanwhile, Billie was…sensed something was different, then looked and recognized the person at the door. Billie made a move towards the back door of Sullivan’s Pancake House. Then in the back came more of Dr. Max Modine’s crew from the silent boats. Billie had some sort of powers; I don’t know, it’s odd and I don’t know how to explain it to you right now, that was able to have everybody go into slow motion with kind of opening of their bill, Billie’s bill. Billie rushed past them into the night and it was…just started raining. They said Dr. Max, Billie got away.
Dr. Max said okay, well, we’ll track her down. Billie headed out into the night. Meanwhile, I was laying in my room and I had…just had it out with my parents ‘cause I said what about Willow? They grounded me for daring Willow. I said we didn’t dare Willow and Willow’s not on a goose chase. Or even if Willow is, what about if it’s a big bunny? They said there’s no big bunnies, Emma. It’s just a metaphor. We know you probably…one of you double dared her. If it wasn’t you, it was one of your friends. I said we just want to help look for Willow. What if we didn’t dare her? ‘Cause we didn’t. They said go to your room. I was lying in my room and I was thinking about the game. Then I said well, Willow…I called up…I used…we used these tin-can phones, all the way across through the trees to my friends’ places. I called LJ and I called Vaughn and I said hey, Willow double-bait…what if Willow really did…what if there really is a big bunny and Willow is out there doing double-bait on the bunny?
They said okay, let’s go look. It was raining and we got on our…snuck out of our houses and we got on our bikes. Of course, when I was sneaking out, I noticed my brother trying to get…said oh, Dari, don’t worry about it. Let’s just do some flash cards and brush my fur. We’ll worry about your sister later. But we headed out on our bikes and then we headed into this kind of the clumpy part of the swamp, not that far from the edge of the swamp from the road. Once again, we were all arguing and saying this was a terrible idea. Of course, it was raining and it was a little bit chilly. We were going back and forth and then V said I hear a bun…I think I hear a bunny. Then I said I think I…then we were kind of thinking we were in the presence of a big bunny. Then there was a flash in the sky and we saw on a log, across some water, what looked like a beaver. We said Willow, Willow, is that you? But it was raining really hard so we said let’s get closer. They said what if it’s a big…what if it’s a double-bait big bunny? We said don’t worry about it. We’ll just…let’s go.
We gotta get…Willow might be just…we gotta help our friend. We headed towards it and then we got close to the log. Then the thunder…the lightning flashed again and we saw that it wasn’t a beaver; it was a kid just like us but it had a duck’s bill and a beaver body and webbed feet. We kind of stood there. It was soaking wet and it kind of looked a little bit frowny so we immediately felt for it. It said, I talk words. I talk words. Billie, Billie talk words. We were amazed. I think that’s probably…I gotta go ‘cause my mom’s about to start calling me and saying it’s bedtime, Willow. So, I gotta run but…because it’s bedtime. So, I’m gonna get in my bed and curl up and get comfortable and cozy and go to sleep. Goodnight.
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