904 – Journey Through the Center of a Carrot | Otter Things E7
Dari and Tefe follow the clues on a meandering quest and discover a sleepy place just under the swamp.
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EPISODE 904 – Journey Through the Center of a Carrot | Otter Things E7
[START OF RECORDING]
SCOOTER: Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and friends beyond the binary, and my patron peeps; what up, patron peeps? I just wanted to sing to you and say thank you to my patron peeps.
INTRO: [INTRO MUSIC] Hey, are you up all night tossing, turning, mind racing? Trouble getting to sleep? Trouble staying asleep? Well, welcome. This is 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 is keeping you awake, whether it’s thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, changes in time or temperature or routine, schedule, whatever it is. It could be things on your mind you’re thinking about from the past, present, or future. You know, those things that just pop in your head at inconvenient times? How about this…I just thought of this, ‘cause you know what pop and lock is? That’s a style…I guess it’s…I don’t know if it’s a dance move or a dance style because you could use…it can’t just be…it’s more than just a move because you can…it’s a…oh, I almost had the right word, which I’m sure it’s a very simple…technique.
I think it’s ‘technique’. But I say well, what if it’s…oh, you say what’s pop and lock? I say well, I don’t…I say, it’s not the robot. You’d know it when you see it. But what I was really gonna say is thoughts just pop in your head. This is another technique; take a technique and build a technique with it ‘cause sometimes when I’m trying to go to bed, thoughts just pop in my head. I was just thinking what if we made those thoughts pop and lock or do any sort of dance moves you find entertaining but difficult to do on your own, like pop and lock, break dance…it could be anything. But so, you picture that in your mind. You say oh boy, spilling milk on yourself when you had a suit on or something. You say okay, that’s not a memory I need to think about…I’m going to bed. But you say okay, well, if the part of my brain…the representative image of that…the person…not the part…not the memory, you could picture yourself doing that. It would be pretty cool. There’s another technique we just found.
If you do spill something on yourself, just start to dance right after it. In a way, you say well, I just spilled…that’s what I do when I spill something on myself; I dance. It’s a dance of acceptance of my imperfection. Being imperfect makes me want to dance. Some part of my brain said so, do you dance all of the time? I’d say well, I’d strive to, honestly, within me. But I was gonna say what if the part of me that’s bring…that popped that memory into my brain…not necessarily the memory of me spilling milk on myself when I’m wearing a suit. Actually, the last time…here’s a…this is…I’ll get back to it, but the last time I was in a suit, I was at a family function. Then after the family function, this is about eighteen…no…I don’t know. It was 2019. After the family function – I’m pretty sure this is what happened – two…there was a buffet with baked ziti. It was one of the things in the buffet. I didn’t notice this ‘til it was really embarrassing.
At some point, one of three things happened; while I was eating some baked ziti, it dropped into my lap. Then maybe I ground it into my lap area, if you know what I’m saying. It was still clearly baked ziti. That’s one of the things that could have happened, but I don’t think that happened ‘cause I don’t eat…if there was a buffet with baked ziti, I don’t think I would eat enough…I’m usually not eating a lot of baked ziti. If you’re new, don’t worry, I’ll get back to you. This is an early tangent. You’re in for a treat. But so, I don’t think that happened. The other two things that could happen is one, I walked…just like Icarus, I…some reason, my lower extremities bumped up against some ziti. I said, if you can’t laugh at that, what can you laugh at? That’s the other possibility but the third thing is what I think really happened, is I gave a hug…I knew one of the people that was running the buffet and so, I gave her a hug. I said, holy cow, can you take a break and…?
So, maybe there was ziti on their apron and it got onto my lap area. Now, after that…which even if it was the hug, it was when I was getting ready to leave but not when I left, so I probably still saw twelve to twenty members of my family and said goodbye to them with a groin full of ziti. Also, that’ll be a book or an album I’ll put out one day. A Lapful of Ziti, you’re right. Let’s just go…let’s leave it subtextual. You’re right. There’s two different…yeah, you’re right. A Lapful of Ziti. I think David Sedaris already wrote that. That was probably in a…that’s probably not…that’s probably…I gotta do A Groin Full of Ziti. Then we had to go. We left this buffet, then we had to go…we went to a Walgreens to pick something up. Then we went from…to an… an ALDI’s or ALDI’s? However you say that, to pick something up. We went from a buffet and then we still had to go again for a coffee, and we had to bring something to the coffee. We went to ALDI’s to get that.
At some point when I was in the ALDI’s, either my brother said it to me or I noticed that I had a groin or a lapful of ziti. Like, covered. Not just huh, is that ziti or is that…? There was like, pieces of ziti and ricotta. It didn’t look embarrassing. It looked like I still had…it was like there was some sort of…what’s that called? Magnet…I had ziti magnetism. It gets even better. I guess you say oh boy, you got a magnetic thing going there with your ziti. If I would have noticed that…at the time I just said oh well, that kinda stinks ‘cause I only wear a suit once every three years and I wasn’t planning on cleaning this suit until three years from now, so now I’ll have to figure…and now that I just realized that my suit is still in my closet with the ziti on it…so, what was I…what was my point there? I gotta get that suit cleaned ‘cause that’s the only suit I own, too. I wonder how eighteen months of ziti will do in there, if it’s really ground in? I don’t know if I’ll be able to Shout it out.
My point was, though, what if I had pop and locked right there in ALDI’s or just started dancing or doing jazz hands, whatever it is, dancing knees or hip…Shakira…doing the Shakira hip thing or something, some pop culture reference that people actually would recognize which would take…that dance move, I’d say…I don’t even know, because people don’t do…even the dances I’m kind of aware…some TikTok dance. Oh yeah, that TikTok dance where you put your hand above your head while you drop your knees to your ankles so your butt touches your heels. I’d like to be good at…I should have done that one. That’s at the end of one of those TikToks from 2019. Oh, so my point is hey, I’m here…whatever’s keeping you awake; thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, changes in time or temperature, any of those things, I’m here to take your mind off of that. I think, maybe, that tangent may have. Holy tangential.
The way I’m gonna do it is I’m gonna send my voice across the deep, dark night. I’m gonna use lulling, soothing, creaky, dulcet tones, pointless meanders, and superfluous tangents, which we went from a pointless meander to a superfluous tangent just then. I’m gonna go off-topic clearly, all to take your mind off of stuff while you fall asleep. Now, if you’re new, a couple things to know, and it’s a little late, I’ll agree with you there. One, this podcast does not work for everybody and it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. But for the people it works for, it takes two or three tries. One thing to know is give it two or three tries. The other thing is that this is a podcast you don’t really listen to. It’s a podcast you’re barely present for and you don’t have to give it very much attention. [00:10:00] You say okay, well, I wasn’t even aware…ideally you say, I don’t even know what Scoots was talking about. Something about…he was baking ziti or he invented a dance called The Baked Ziti.
But it was really just that…I think…or maybe he said if he could invent a dance, he wouldn’t invent a dance called The Baked Ziti because he said well, I don’t know. Then he said maybe I would…he goes, I don’t think I would do a dance just called The Ziti. He said, but maybe The ZD. He could do a dance where you’re doing a Z and then a D. So, I don’t know. That would be what you’d remember about this podcast in the morning, if you’re a regular listener. Now, if you’re new, just consume that podcast…see if you could have a looser hold on this podcast. Just barely pay attention to me. That’s one thing to know. The second thing to know is that…what is the second thing? Oh, this is a podcast…oh, a podcast…oh, it’s not really here to put you to sleep, either. I’m here to keep you company as you drift off, and I have…give you plenty of time to drift off. The reason the shows are about an hour is so you could drift off at your leisure. There’s no pressure to fall asleep.
I’m gonna be here for about an hour. Then if you can’t sleep, I’ll be here to the very end. I’ll be here telling you a bedtime story whether you’re awake or asleep. It’s a podcast you don’t need to listen to, doesn’t really put you to sleep, just keeps you company. Ideally, I become your bore-bae, your bore-friend, your bore-sib, your bore-bestie, your bore-cuz. Those are things you need to know. The other thing is, for new listeners, is the structure of the show can throw people off. The show starts off with a greeting; ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, friends beyond the binary, so you know you’re seen and welcome here. That’s how I just start to invite you into this safe place that I’m trying, in an imperfect way, to create. Then there’s business. That’s how we’re able to bring you a podcast twice a week on a regular basis, is the sponsors and the people that support the sponsors. That’s a few minutes, then there’s an intro.
The intro’s around twelve to twenty minutes long, and it’s me rambling, going off-topic as you saw, with two goals. One, to put…well, a couple goals. One, to introduce new people to the podcast and give you a general idea of what to expect, which is nonsense and tangents. Two, is to put you to sleep, really, or to try to help you unwind if you become a regular listener, because regular listeners…2% of regular listeners skip ahead to twenty minutes and start the show there. Everyone else starts the show and listens through, but people listen through in a different way. Some people start playing it before they get into bed, as they start to unwind or lightly read or doodle or do any yarn, or…what is that other stuff called? Thread-based activities. Maybe you’re modeling clay. Maybe you’re modeling clay like I am. That’s my TikTok outfit. I say oh boy, I’m modeling clay. I’m wearing it as a clay-based outfit.
I think if I was gonna…I don’t know if terracotta is actually a clay but that seems very breathable, so that would probably be the one I’d be most interested in if I have a choice, but I guess maybe some softer clay on the inside. Though of course, I’ll have a lapful of ricotta, so that helps, too. Oh, so the intro…so, some listeners fall asleep during the intro, but a lot of listeners are either getting ready for bed or they’re getting in bed, and I’m easing you into bedtime. For the regular listener, what up, regular listeners? You’re not regular to me. Believe me; you’re super-special. I gotta come up with another term for that. But you listen on a regular basis. That’s what I meant. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to call you a regular listener. You know what I meant. My bore-baes, my bore-cuzzes, my bore-sibs, my bore-besties, my bore-bruhs. Those of you that dance the ZD and The Ziti with me…you know what I was talking about. I don’t.
But so, it eases everybody into bedtime, takes your mind off of stuff so you could kind of fall asleep and get some distance from the day. That’s what the intro does, and some new listeners say why does it go on and on and on? Or why don’t you get to the point? Or are you just talking about business or something? I say no, I’m kind of talking about…I’m talking about something but with a whole lot of nothing. I mean, using ziti as a metaphor, you say okay, ziti’s the big…the thick, round ones, right? Maybe penne…ziti is like giant penne? Am I on the right track? If you baked ziti, is it a tomato sauce with ricotta cheese? Maybe I’m wrong. Some people could say…if you were…if you came from a place where you say…if you were paying for the buffet and you weren’t familiar with ziti, and let’s just say you were paying…instead of paying…you say well, a dish of ziti’s twenty dollars, and you weren’t paying by pound, you say well, at our buffet, we do charge by the cubic foot.
You say well, I don’t want ziti because it’s a whole lot of nothing. You’d say well no, it’s not; it’s ricotta, it’s pasta, it’s tomato sauce. Very popular because it fits a lot of different eating types, and we use non-dairy ricotta here, gluten-free pasta. You say yeah but it’s like, if I’m paying by the cubic foot, I want something denser. Can you crush the ziti down? You say, aren’t you in the middle of an intro for a sleep podcast? I’d say, you’re right. Thank you. You’re worth your weight in cubic feet, if you don’t mind me saying. Oh, you don’t know what I’m talking about? That’s great. Anyway, just leave the ziti. I’ll have one crushed and one non-crushed ziti, please. Oh, he put it in my lap. Thank you so much. Sorry, that was a part of my brain. So, just see how it goes. See how the intro goes. The other things you need to know is I make this show because I’ve been there and I know how it feels tossing and turning, mind racing, trouble getting to sleep, trouble staying asleep.
I just want to help you get a good night’s sleep because you deserve a good night’s sleep. The world and your world and our world will be a better place if you get the sleep you need, so that’s why I make this show, is so you can get some rest. Now, the podcast does not work for everybody, so just kind of see how it goes. It’s free to listen to, so give it a couple tries and see how it goes. I hope it helps you. I really appreciate you coming by and checking this podcast out. I work very hard. Oh, what else? The structure of the show, sorry. After the intro is business, some part of my brain just told me. Then it’ll be our ongoing episodically modular series Otter Things, and then some thank yous at the end. That’s why I wanted to just tell you that. So, thank you so much for checking this show out. I work very hard. I yearn and I strive. I really want to help you fall asleep, and thanks again for coming by. Here’s a couple of ways we’re able to bring you this podcast twice a week.
Alright, hey everybody, it’s Scoots. I’m gonna turn things right over to Emma Otter and this archived audio I was able to get. Hey everybody, this is Emma Otter here. I’m here to tell you a tale, and I want you to know right up front that all will be well. If you’re thinking or wondering about that, I just want you know that right up front. But this is a tale about a place where I live, a town in a swamp. If you never heard any of my…this story before, don’t worry. I’m gonna tell you everything you need to know right now to get you caught up and in the right place, ‘cause you are in the right place right now. You’re in the right paws, with my paws here. I’ll have extra pauses here as Emma Otter. So, I’m Emma Otter. I’m an otter and I live in a place…a swamp, and part of a greater swamp area. I’m a member of a family. I live with my mother, my father, my youngest sibling, and then my older brother Teffe. My brother Teffe…my parents and my youngest sibling really aren’t super important, just like…I mean, they’re important, but not in this story that I’m telling you.
My brother Teffe does play a role, and Teffe’s the kind of otter you see that looks like he just dove into a water…silky water and came out ready to do a gum commercial or something. He’s the smoothest otter in town. If there was a place where otters performed or were viewed…that’s just Teffe. It really gets on my nerves, but what can you do? He’s my older brother. He knows it, though. He knows he shines. [00:20:00] That’s my house. I have quite a few friends…of course, a close best friend that knows who they are, as well as a variety of other really close friends. They know in their hearts that they’re my best friend, but that I have other close friends, too. So, once upon a time, I had three best…three close friends I’m mentioning in no particular order; Willow, Elijah, and Vaughn. Those are my three friends. Since then, I’ve made a new friend named Billie but before we met Billie, it was just Willow, Elijah, and Vaughn and I. LJ and V, they go by. Willow just goes by Willow.
I don’t know why she doesn’t go by Willow or O. But maybe she will start going by that. We used to play a roleplaying game called Bards and Big Bunnies. We were also into dressing up in historical…as characters and performing and stuff like that. We’re in middle school, Teffe’s in high school. Yeah, Bards and Big Bunnies is a game…a roleplaying game about the big things in life; music and bards but from the olden days, and big bunnies who would come and try to take your town’s resources, and the bards that would protect the town with the power of song, along with other adventures. One night, we were playing Bards and Big Bunnies. We finished the game but on the way home, Willow took a trail less…road less-taken on her water bike, and she…we thought she took a road less-taken where she moved away to the big city, River Bottom, Hensontown, some place like that, recorded an album, started her musical career which other people have, in middle school, but we didn’t know about it.
The first album that arrived in our town by…right after Willow left, which was very efficient, was about goofing on our town. Most of the songs were making fun of our town. Something wasn’t right there. Willow would have told us. How could you record an album and put it out in just a few days? Even Willow, while she would goof on us, she wouldn’t goof on us…I mean, she was big into parody music. We just thought it was strange, and the whole thing, we didn’t buy it. At the same time, right when it…right after it happened, we didn’t even buy it, so we were looking for Willow on the paths less-taken; Darken Wood and all those places. That’s where we met Billie. Now, Billie was a duck-billed beaver who had come from a place beyond the swamp. Now, okay, so, we live in a swamp surrounded on three sides by swamp which to some of you, you might not understand, is a variety of…swamp’s a general term. There’s some forest, there’s some swamp, there’s some muck.
That goes on and on and on, the greater swamp area. On one side though, it’s bisected by a road, and that’s the place beyond the swamp. Technically, I think it’s a swamp, but we don’t go there. But there’s a road. Mysterious vehicles travel on the road and we’re not supposed to go on the road because there’s vehicles that go by. Then beyond that is an old Visitor’s Center and bog walk that we’re…again, we’re not supposed to go to. We were looking…we said well, did Willow go over near there or something? That’s when we found Billie, the duck-billed beaver. Turned out, Billie was lost or had left the place beyond the swamp, the Visitor’s Center. Billie also had powers, magical powers of song. Billie could sing and make you…she could sing a song like Freeze Frame, and you would freeze. She might sing a song like Go to Sleep, Go to Sleep; you would instantly go to sleep. So, just like in the game Bards and Big Bunnies, Billie somehow had a…powers through song.
There’s superpowers or magical powers. Then we were work…we’ve been working with Billie, trying to find Willow. But also, LJ and Vaughn…LJ in particular said well, aren’t we just supposed to find Willow? Why are we helping this kid we don’t even know, a duck-billed beaver, which is odd anyway? Why are we getting caught up in this? That’s been an ongoing tension with all of us. We also recently discovered that we could use our tuning forks. If we follow our tuning forks for a sympathetic vibration, we thought we could find…oh, ‘cause we thought…we figured out that Willow had gone to a place…we used Billie’s powers to get ahold of Willow and discover that Willow is in a place called the size-down which is a bit like in the Southern Swamp Trilogy, we think, some sort of other parallel universe or something. We’re trying to find our way there using our tuning forks which have a sympathetic vibration. We also have an electromagnetic tuning fork. We made two of them.
But we followed those and we didn’t find Billie. Or, we didn’t find Willow. We found out Billie was controlling them. Then Billie and Elijah had a big, strong disagreement, and Billie sang the song Impulsive, and Elijah ran away. Then we were upset with Billie, and we used strong words with Billie, and Billie ran away. That’s what’s going on with us. But this part of the story is more about…so, our town has the greater…our local swamp authority. Our community resources are managed by our community resource manager, Bull, Leon, the frog. He’s really a all-around great frog. Really cares about the community, a little bit of a curmudgeon. He discovered that the place beyond the swamp, something’s going on there. We’ll get more into that tonight. I’ve discovered more. He’s had the same reaction at first; Willow moved away? Somehow, he hasn’t 100% tied Willow to the place beyond the swamp, the Visitor’s Center, and below it is a whole complex where they’re up to stuff.
Willow lived with her mom and her sister, her mom Frances and her sister Dari. Frances is a bespoke…well, she works at a store but one day, she hopes to have her own bespoke windchime business. She was communicating with Willow via windchime to the place beyond the swamp. She knew Willow was…that everybody doubted her. They said no, no, no, Willow recorded an album and moved away. But now, of course, she’s working with Bull because he said oh wait, you’re right. You were right all along, Frances. Something’s going on with Willow. Let’s find out. Now, Dari, Willow’s sister, and my brother Teffe were working together, as well. Who knows what Teffe’s motivations are? Probably if there’s a mirror involved, Teffe’s in. But Dari is, of course, looking for her sister. At first, she said well, something’s odd. She went to her dad’s house in River Bottom with Teffe, and they discover…she discovered that Willow wasn’t at her dad’s house. Her dad’s a J-E-R-K.
Then she came out to the car which was our Uncle Emmett’s vehicle, but Teffe was K-I-S-S-I-N-Ging Dari’s now-former…at that time, former-best friend, Babs. Then they drove home, then Babs went for a walk. Then Babs was also…they said, where’d Babs go? She just went for a walk. Now, did she go and record an album somewhere? Since then, Dari’s been like okay, something’s going on. Then they discovered that yeah, Babs did encounter some sort of big bunny or some big bunny that sings lullabies and makes sounds. That’s kind of where we left off. Before I get to the story here, here’s our most famous performer, actor, sometimes singer, an otter and an all-around gentlemen, Mr. Antonio Banderas. Ah, thank you, Emma. Ladies, gentlemen, the boys, the girls, the friends beyond the binary, don’t worry. All will be well, because it’s time for Otter Things. Splish, splash. Thanks, Antonio. Antonio and I, we’re gonna play Plinkety-Plunk, so if you want to wait around, we’ll play that later. [00:30:00]
When we last left off, well, what I didn’t tell you was…so, we had our Community Resource Fair which is a big fair in our town, a big deal. While we were…me and my friends were looking into stuff, Dari and Teffe were riding the Ferris Wheel. They were discussing what they didn’t know. They only knew what Dari and Teffe knew. They didn’t know what we knew or even what Emma…or what Frances or Bull knew. But they did know that Babs had encountered some sort of giant bunny, maybe with goose something…goose feathers. There was carrots and it was some place on the edge of the swamp. They were riding in the Ferris Wheel, going up and then…for a while. Teffe was relaxed. Dari was more trying to be focused on well, what are we gonna do? How are we gonna solve this? What do you think? Do you think my sister…? She also didn’t know that all will be well. At the time, you never know that, unless you have part of you that constantly reminds you don’t worry, all’s gonna be well, you’re gonna be okay.
But they didn’t have me there with them saying that like you do, that everything’s gonna be well. They were talking and at the same time, Teffe…Teffe likes to use…he is used to using the Ferris Wheel for a couple activities; K-I-S-S-I-N-Ging, hand-holding, arm-arounding, foot playing, or goober shooting at other kids or me and my friends from the Ferris Wheel. Teffe was distracted at like, look at that down there. There’s my parents, blah, blah, blah. They know everything. Teffe was also distracted, and they were talking about value systems and the…Teffe said well, why don’t…why do we live in…? Teffe is a little bit of a contrarian to the way we live, community-based living. Not 100% community-based; we have our own individual…it’s a nuanced system. Maybe that’s it. It’s a little bit too much nuance for Teffe, but Teffe said you know, why don’t we have a system where…why can’t I get…but Dari wasn’t even listening.
Teffe thought Teffe was making all these brilliant points about production and shining, and I don’t know. Oh, individualism. That’s what I think they call it, bootstrapping. Then Dari said, what? But Dari didn’t realize that while Teffe…now, I don’t know if this was one of Teffe’s techniques…he also had to put his arm around Dari. Dari said well, I just think…she said…then she said well, this isn’t bad. It’s kind of comforting. It’s reminding me all will be well. ‘Cause it was just, you know, when you’re on a thing, you’re just putting your arm up anyway. She said okay, well, let’s just roll with this. Then she said so, you’re gonna…then, she was kind of listening ‘cause she said so, you’re gonna rebel against your parents and the values of our society by…? She goes, isn’t that what people do when they run away to become stars? Are you gonna become a star, Teffe? Is that what you want? Teffe said, I don’t know if I want to become a star. I just want people to recognize that I am a star.
He goes, you’re a star too, Dari. You just don’t see it. This kind of stuff, stuff that teens talk about. You know how some teens discover…yeah, I’d like to move to River Bottom and see R&B…that band was not about sharing community…maybe they were, though, sharing community resources. Back when my Uncle Emmett lived, that was before we switched over to community resources. There was a lot of people that had control over more of the resources than everybody else, but it was a gradual change, anyway. It wasn’t a big upheaval, but that’s what teens like sometimes. Then Teffe said well, what are we gonna do? Dari said, we gotta go back. We should retrace our steps again. We should go out a little bit further than where we were last time. We should look for carrots, like where…one of our clues is carrots, so we need…then Teffe said, wait a second. I remember this one time, a couple of my buddies and I, we were…we had too many Pop Rocks or whatever, and we went out and we found this patch of wild…I think they were wild carrots.
We were playing, pretending they were…we were dashing. Like Bards and Big Bunnies, basically. This was kids’ stuff. I’m not a kid anymore, Dari. Don’t worry about it. Teffe kissed Teffe’s bicep. But she said, wait a second, so there’s giant carrots? I don’t know if there is a giant carrot, but it could be in the carrot family. You’re saying there’s a giant swamp carrot? Where? He said well, not that far from where we were. She goes, well, how long…it goes? He goes well, middle school, I guess. No, no, no, grammar school. She goes, so a few years ago. Let’s go. So, they got off the thing. Now, they didn’t notice that some of the other kids were watching them and kind of…in scorn a little bit. But they headed out right then, out into the edge of the swamp, almost to the place beyond the swamp. It does affect where you choose to live. Now, Willow’s family does live really far out because the road…there’s just random vehicles and they’re masked in mystery.
You don’t want to be too close ‘cause you don’t know when…they don’t come through very often, but they make a lot of noise. It’s just these giant vehicles. You don’t want to have to have a way to make sure your kid…you say…the closer you live to the place beyond the swamp, the more your kids are gonna think, huh…unless you have a mom like Frances, she grew up and raised two grounded daughters that said okay, well, we just won’t go there. You just don’t go there. Here’s some sensible reasons why not. A lot of people choose to have some distance and have some trees and other things between them and the road and the place beyond the swamp. We did get out there, and that’s where I tried to get…I tried to walk home from there but then Teffe said, don’t walk home. That’s when we got to the car and Babs was gone. We parked there and then we started walking. It was a long walk. Then Teffe was talking the same…now this time, Dari was actually listening ‘cause they weren’t on the Ferris Wheel. He was kind of saying, what if the bunnies were right?
What if the bunnies in Bards and Big Bunnies…the bards…maybe they were better off…we would be better off…then the whole tropey thing of well, maybe we need the big bunnies to keep us working. If there wasn’t anybody to take our resources, would we make our resources…finally, Dari had enough. She said Teffe, I feel like you’re operating from an ego-first position. He said, what are you…are you saying I’m selfish? She said well, you seem to be self-interested, and we all are. But you seem to be fixated on justifying it instead of accepting it as part of being…part of your consciousness. She said, I think you need to take a hard look at it. You may even have a little…well, you’re a narcissist, by the way, too. Teffe said, what? She said, it’s best we just don’t talk. Let’s just look for these carrots. But then it took forever, and then there was more tension because Dari said, are you making us take longer? Do you even remember where the carrots were? Do you remember any landmarks?
Then Teffe said, I do remember a landmark. If you headed straight…I’ll give you just a little bit of a map in your mind, a simple one. The Visitor’s Center is…you could barely see it. Picture a road, like an aqueduct-type road rising up out of the swamp maybe ten feet on a slant of ground. Beyond it is the Visitor’s Center, low-lying and dilapidated. [00:40:00] Not that far from the Visitor’s Center is a tunnel that goes underneath, but it’s a…it has a gate and stuff like that. But if you were to head towards the tunnel and then go left, and you go left for a while, eventually some more trees start to come up, and they separate. You had trees on the left and then the road on the right. Teffe said, I remember you could see a pole sticking up on the road, because we were daring one another to climb up there and do it. Dari said, did you? Teffe said well, I did the daring. I didn’t do the doing. Then she said okay, well, then what? Then Teffe said well, then we go left into these…into all these trees.
Eventually, they found…they started to see…now again, I’m not a biologist or anything or an expert so I don’t know, but you started to see carrot butts or whatever you call them. Carrot stalks, I guess maybe they’re called. Carrot greens sticking up out of there. They started looking and…but they were giant. She said, you played with these? They’re bigger than us now. Teffe said yeah, these are huge. No, no, when we were kids, they were as big as our arms, but these must be the same ones. Dari said well, then it’s not a fruit or a vegetable. It’s part of the plant, the stem or something, so maybe they’re not carrots. But she dove down and she said, it feels like the texture of a carrot, though. It’s interesting. Teffe said well, now what? Dari said well, we keep looking around. They kept looking around and then eventually, they found one that was…the top was nibbled off. Then they looked…they got to it. She says, look over there.
That one doesn’t have any greens but it’s still sticking above the water. It was about three feet above the water. As they got closer to it, they saw that it went down. It was hollowed out. It was like a giant carrot, but more of a…some sort of…it technically wasn’t a root vegetable or something, because it was…had been growing for years there. But, I mean, I don’t know anything. But it’d been hollowed out and it was so long that it went through…down the swamp, down the water…it was above the water line and it was below the water line. At first, they said huh, that’s cool. I wonder what ate that. Then they started to look around, and it wasn’t long before…around that area, they found scraping against the other giant carrots what could only be described as goo or goop, feathers, and bunny fur, which they had seen in other places. Also, bunny marks, like the bunny had…like some giant bunny had basically tried to eat some of the other carrots but given up.
Then Dari said Teffe, eat one of those carrots. Teffe said well, what if the carrot’s not full of nutrients? What if it doesn’t taste good? She said, just try to eat it. Trust me. She goes, just try. So, Teffe tried to take a bite of the carrot and he said it tasted a bit like sawdust mixed with…he said it was gross, but not…he said, it just doesn’t taste like much. She goes, do you think it’s a carrot? He goes well, it’s definitely…he goes, it’s mealy, more mealy than a carrot. Dari kind of circled the area. Teffe said, what are you doing? Dari said, I think we should look at this hole. Teffe said no, I don’t think so. Dari said, lower me down in the hole through the carrot. Teffe said nah, nah, no. We don’t know how far down it goes. Dari said, who cares? Just lower me down. You got long arms. I thought you were an otter. I thought you were a long otter. You’re very…use your…and he said, okay. He lowered Dari down…just like a giant tube, basically, she was going in.
Actually, once she got in there, she was like oh, wait, I can push my arms and my legs against the side and climb down. It is kind of mealy, but sturdy. She climbed down. She was climbing head-first because she wanted to be able to see. Now, she had also brought a lantern, of course, but…so, she got down there and she said…she goes, there’s…it’s like a cave or something, or something. Teffe said, what? Shave what? Then she dropped in and then Teffe kind of looked in there. She yelled, just wait for me, just wait up there for me. He heard that ‘cause she was already at the bottom. She dropped in and it was basically…not dry ground, but muck-like ground. It was like a pocket below the swamp, of…now, I would say that it was probably some sort of…I guess I did talk to a scientist about this, that these…whatever these root vegetables were, this was some sort of limestone. This vegetable secreted something that enabled it to penetrate the limestone.
That’s why the swamp wasn’t…that’s why it was sturdy above her. Then Dari just started going and walking. It wasn’t far. There was only one direction, and there was clearly big bunny tracks. The said, the big…it was clear…it was higher ceilings, but that it was…on the roof and the floor, it was like the bunny had to crawl to get through there ‘cause there was bunny fur and feathers on the floor and the walls. She said well, that’s odd. She kept going for a while and then eventually she thought she heard some singing. She saw a light ahead, so she turned down her lantern. She listened and she was like…she started to recount her steps and kind of get a direction ‘cause she had gone a long way. She said wait a second, this has gotta be…I may be beyond the swamp. I may have gone under the road, even. She did realize that it was sloped downwards, so as each possible…each thing, she was going deeper and deeper, but a slow slope.
Eventually, she got closer and she could swear she heard some singing, so she was really quiet. Then she eventually went into this area that opened up, and there was a bigger chamber. Then beyond it was what looked like concrete. It’s this bigger chamber, and the cave started to go into something that looked like concrete walls. But that was also covered with muck and stuff like that. Then she started to go down this spiraling thing, and that’s where the singing was coming from, a little bit below. She said wait a second, there’s something ominous about this spiraling even lower. The combination of a cave and then concrete, and then muck, something feels a bit off. But then she got a little bit lower and then she realized that it was like, it went lower further but there was also another chamber off of…almost like you took a…went down a few floors. She said, that’s where the singing’s coming from, so she started to crawl. Remember, all will be well. Don’t worry.
This was actually soothing singing, a bit like a lullaby or someone humming while they were working or something like that. She was crawling and trying to get closer and closer. Then she went into this room and she started to look…and it was like a smaller…I don’t know if you’ve ever seen when people celebrate the holiday season or some other season, or maybe they just decorate their house with a miniature…or they have a train set, like a miniature town. She started to see that in the…she went into this room and the streets…it was like the…it was all made of…well, she wasn’t sure if it was made of mud or some sort of sandy cement, but it was this dark mud sand, but not…it was hard. She touched it…version of their town, one-eighth [00:50:00] or one-twentieth version of the town, and it stretched across this chamber, big enough that she could almost put her head in the buildings, so not like…a different size than…she said wait a second, I could almost get into one of these buildings, just barely. Then she started to notice different figures.
But she still heard the singing, and this was in another room, so she kept going. It was actually…she went to the edge of our town and then at the edge of that town was a wall. But again, painted at the wall was what looked like the road, and it was being drawn in a very crude way with mud and other things, then the tunnel that went to the place beyond the swamp. That’s where the sound was coming from. Then she tried to crawl in the tunnel and she could swear, if you’d ask her, that she could see in the tunnel. She said she thought she saw some mobiles and some giant cribs. But right as she thought she saw a giant crib, she slipped and she went splat. Then she heard something. Whatever was singing stopped singing and then she heard a thump, and then everything shaked. She was like, that must be the big bunny. Thump. Then she saw it come out of…into the hall. She was in a hall. The bunny had come out of the room with possibly a giant…mobiles and whatever.
The bunny saw her, and thump. Dari ran, and then she ran into town. Now, Dari, holy intelligence; Dari took her lantern and turned it on and then threw it in one of the bigger rooms, like one of the bigger things in town, and then she hid in one of the buildings. The bunny thumped, thumped, paused where she was hiding but then thumped, thumped, thumped over to where the light was just barely shining out ‘cause Dari had thrown it all the way in the back of one of these model-type buildings of our town. When the bunny got over there, Dari bolted right out of the thing and started running back. Again, she felt the bunny coming…first, she got pretty far, then she heard the bunny chasing. But she said okay, well, the bunny’s gonna have to go pretty slow in this last chamber. She thought she was home-free. The she was yelling Teffe, Teffe, throw a rope! Reach down! Meanwhile, Teffe was totally chilling, and actually pensive. A little bit pensive, if you saw Teffe.
But Teffe was looking…it was a full moon. Teffe was looking at Teffe’s reflection in the water, kind of…do you really think I am? Am I caught up with myself? Is that all I care about? Back-and-forth type thing. Dari’s yelling, Teffe, Teffe, reach down for me! Now, she got up there and then she realized she had underestimated how many carrots or whatever, carrot-type things were sticking down through the limestone roof that…so, she was like, which one? She was having trouble and then she heard the bunny getting closer and closer. Then she’s like Teffe, Teffe! Throw down a rope or something, or your tail! Teffe said [MUMBLES], then Teffe thought Teffe heard something. Then just in time, Teffe did hold onto the edge of the carrot and lower down, and then Dari saw Teffe’s tail and then she grabbed it, then Teffe climbed out with Dari. Then they still bolted. They ran out of the swamp, jumped in, and they drove all the way back to my house, actually.
Then they went downstairs in my house and they said wait a second, let’s get cleaned up. Then Teffe was like, I can’t believe my sister’s having sleepovers. ‘Cause I had the fort set up that Billie had been staying at. Now meanwhile, I was in my bed, asleep. This was after we had…Billie had run away. I was already in bed ‘cause they had…time had actually passed in a different way for them because…but so, Dari was like holy cow, that was…she goes, there is a big bunny. I think it has goose…but it has goose heads. She goes, there was a…I think it’s like a…I don’t know. Teffe said well, what do you mean? She said well, it’s just…let’s snuggle for a little while. Let’s just hug each other. So, they had a long hug. She said, let’s…you sleep on the couch, there. I’m gonna sleep in this tent, and then we’ll talk about things in the morning. They did that, and then…but Dari woke up early. Now Teffe’s an easy sleeper, like everything else. But Dari woke up and then eventually, she woke Teffe up.
She said okay, I’ve been thinking about it for most of the night. Dari said okay, here’s what I think, Teffe. Teffe said, okay. She goes so, there’s a giant…some sort of giant bunny-goose lives down there and it has something to do with Babs and Will. He goes, okay. She goes, and that might have been the big bunny my mom saw. He goes well, should we tell anybody about it? She goes no, we should deal with it. No one’s gonna believe us. Even if they did…she goes, let’s just…she goes, it’s strange. This is the oddest thing we’ll ever encounter. He said, do you mind if I ask what do you think it’s doing? She goes, remember that book we had to read? She goes, I think…she goes, it was singing lullabies, and I think I saw a crib. She goes, I think it’s some sort of adult-juvenile bunny-goose, and maybe it’s playing…maybe it thinks Willow and Babs are action figures. This is the only thing I can think of, because…she goes, they had this whole giant version of our town, and it just doesn’t make any sense. He goes well, so, what should we do?
She goes well, we should…she goes, it takes a carrot to catch a…she goes, we gotta find this bunny, get it away from there, and see if Willow and Babs are there, and find out who’s in charge of this adult-juvenile bunny. That’s what I’m guessing, but I’m not sure. She goes so, we gotta lure it away, basically. He goes, how are we gonna do that? She goes, carrots; real carrots, though. She goes, so, we gotta go gather some…we gotta get all the carrots we can, as many carrots as we can. We’ll goose chase a goose with…and get a bunny with carrots. Teffe said okay, let’s do it. Then they got up and they started driving around town. They went to all…the few shops we have in town, bought all the carrots, all the carrots in the entire store. They said, you gonna leave any carrots for anybody else? They said, no. They said, what are you making? They said, carrot miso soup, a giant…they said, okay. Then they said well, who…anybody else…?
So, they bought an entire truckload of carrots, bushels and bushels of carrots. But then as they were filling the truck with the last bushels of carrots, they noticed people were laughing, particularly at Dari, but at both of them. They said, what’s…what are you laughing at? Teffe said ‘cause Teffe doesn’t…and they said oh, I guess Babs’ street team…we’re just guessing if it’s gonna be anything like…so, then they went down and they saw a bunch of kids that Teffe knew, that…the hip crowd or whatever. They were making chalk art on the walls of buildings of imaginary versions of Babs’ album. They said, we heard Babs signed an album just like your sister. We figured if she was goofing on anybody, it’d be the two of you. They had made fake album covers. This wasn’t real albums, but they had Worst Kisser in the World with Teffe crying and Babs singing. Then they had stuff about Dari not being a good friend or being a…Bringing My Friend to the Party Who Didn’t Get Invited.
I think that was one of the ones that kind of burned [01:00:00]…that upset Dari the most. They said, we demand you take that down. Then they said, where do you think they got them? They said, this is really the songs. We’re just recreating them. She said, what do you mean? One of the kids had…now, this is very expensive; it was a portable audio disc player. They had just come out in the past couple years. They said, the street team really was here. They gave us previews of the album. Now, these were unmarked previews. They weren’t as advanced as the ones of Willow’s that had been found. They didn’t have any album art. They were just CDs and tapes. Dari said, give it to me. She listened and it was music and it was a teenager singing, but it was not Babs. Dari said, this is awesome singing. I know Babs. Babs doesn’t sing like this. But they were singing…those were two of the songs, so it was a real album of someone named Babs ‘cause she said, I’m Babs and I’m bad and I’m here to make Teffe sad, kisses like a dad, and how do you say that?
It means he kisses bad. Now, then the young woman who Dari had taken it from was trying to take it back, and then it got dropped and it broke. That was a very expensive thing to buy. Then, the community resource officer was supposed to settle and mediate disputes like that so immediately, the assistant…some of the assistant resource officers showed up. Dari had said no, no, no, then I want…then there was a disagreement about who…if Dari was gonna have to make amends for…she said, it’s not my fault, though. Then the kids also said Dari and Teffe were the ones that did the art that you weren’t supposed to do. They said, you’re gonna have to come with us, back to the Community Resource Office. Gonna have to call your parents and we’re gonna have to do some restorative justice work here. We’re gonna have to take a close look at this and work with you. They said well, we got stuff to do. We got a truckload full of carrots. They said, what do you got a truckload full of carrots for? They said well, no one’s gonna bother your carrots. They’re your carrots, right?
Teffe said, my mom is going to flip that I have…filled my uncle’s truck with carrots. She’s gonna think it’s a goof. He said oh, let me at least tarp it. They said fine, tarp your carrots, and then come back to the Community Resource Office. They had to drive all the way back to the Community Resource Office and they were like, obviously this is inconvenient because we’re about to find…it was a little bit embarrassing. Dari was kind of feeling like jeez, I kind of overreacted there. When they got there, Teffe said, thanks for sticking up for me. Dari said, what do you mean, sticking up for me? He said well, you got what that song was about, that I’m not a good kisser. I can’t believe…I thought Babs liked my kissing. I always thought I was good at it. Dari said, you practice a lot with your hand or something? Teffe said, with my pillow. I kiss my pillow. I know it’s not ideal, but it helps with my visualizations. Dari kind of laughed at that but she said, I wasn’t sticking up for you. I was trying to figure out if it was really Babs on there, which it was not.
But everybody in the whole Community Resource Office was listening to this and they said oh, so there was a…you did…’cause everybody likes Teffe in town. Holy moly, Teffe’s popular with the adults ‘cause he knows how to make the adults feel good; compliments them, says ‘great job’. They said well, that’s so nice of you to…they said, what is all the carrots for, Teffe? Teffe said well, I’m doing a carrot drive. New thing. It’s a carrot drive. I heard about some bunnies outside of town. Everybody was like oh, talk about restoring our hope in justice. Maybe not restorative justice, Teffe. They said, this must just be another one of your admirers, then. Dari just rolled her eyes and then she said, can I take a nap here while I wait for my mom? ‘Cause my mom’s got a lot on her plate, by the way. She kind of curled up. Then Teffe started to nod off and said well, maybe I’m not so…I’m helping, I’m trying to help Dari here get to the bottom of this odder thing. Maybe I can rest and not feel as odd about…that yeah, I have a little bit of self-interest. Maybe I have some misguided ideas but maybe I can help Dari use these carrots to figure out this big bunny situation. Just remember, for now, all will be well. Goodnight.
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