<xmp> <body> </xmp> The Witch, The Tooth, And The Dragon

The Group Meets Lovey

~Sweetest Snake In The World~

There they were, clinging like mad to the bedpost and staring straight into two snake eyes, as a snake tongue flicked in and out of a snake mouth that was............smiling.

Oddest of all, the snake was blue. Bright....glowing blue.

Hoobie completely lost her composure when she first spied the creature, and snicked the three of them into two inch heights so they were no longer small enough to be invisible. Soon Rusty cried, "HOOBIE!" --with absolute joy.

Hooblinka stared in terror at the boy, and said, "Rusty! SNAAAAAKE!" as she let go of the bedpost with one shaking hand and pointed at the grinning reptile.

Rusty looked puzzled. He saw Hooblinka, certainly, but he saw her companions as well. "Why, there's a DRAGON!" he said in disbelief. "OH! And a cat!"

This made Scatcat the tooth grin all the ways side to side as he stared up at the framed picture on the wall that the four year old Rusty had drawn at one time, and then said "MEOW!" --as proud as can be. Hooblinka smiled a witchy smile but still pointed in fear at the snake.

"Oh, him! That's my pet snake, Lovey," he said. "He's the sweetest little guy in the world-- and he only eats Valentine hearts," he told them.

"Valentine hearts? Whatever do you mean?" asked Hooblinka.

(Even Feebles had grown less frightened in listening to Rusty's description of his pet. The string of VIOLETS he'd squirted out was slowing down to merely a petal now and then, piling in pretty purple heaps onto Rusty's bedspread and filling the room with a lovely, flowery fragrance.) Feebles dared a closer look at the snake, who only grinned his blue grin back at him. "Why, he's a fine fellow," thought Feebles, "and not scary at all!"

"Where did you find him?" asked Hooblinka.

"I found him right outside on the stones. I remember because I was looking out at a gorgeous full moon, and when I glanced down there was THIS little wriggler, inching along in the moonlight," Rusty said. "I raced down and picked him up and ran straight to my mother to ask if I could keep him. I think she immediately fell in love with him, too. He's so glowingly BLUE..... and SMILEY," Rusty added. "It's pretty hard not to like him."

"But what about the hearts?" prodded Hooblinka, impatient to hear about the snake's unusual diet.

"Well, mom bought me this tank and then brought home some baby mice from the pet store, but Lovey only played with them until we finally let them go in a field. Then we tried crickets. Then mealworms......nothing tempted him. We worried he'd starve --but he didn't seem any skinnier and he was so HAPPY all the time," Rusty told them. "One day I was determined to see what was keeping him alive, so I hid behind that curtain. And I watched."

"And then, MEOW??" said Scatcat, playing his role to the hilt.

"Then I heard a tiny belly growl," said Rusty. "-oh, I felt so bad for him having nothing to fill it, but suddenly Lovey reared up on his tail end-- breathed pink breath onto the glass, drew a HEART shape in it and LICKED IT RIGHT OFF with his snaky tongue! Then burped, curled up, and went to sleep."

(The witch, the dragon, and the cat-tooth were amazed --for Lovey began to make his pink hearts right before their eyes!)

"I watched him do this several times, and he seemed very content and FULL, so I knew he was drawing these VALENTINE HEARTS and then EATING THEM! That's why I named him Lovey," Rusty said, "because he is."

Hooblinka said, "I KNEW IT! This snake is MAGIC!" And she squinched up her eyes and began reading her 'mind book'. "Did you happen to find this guy during a BLUE MOON?" she asked, looking as though she'd solved some mystery.

"What's a blue moon?" asked Rusty. (He'd seen LOTS of full moons, but couldn't recall even ONE of them looking particularly blue.)

"It a rare thing," Hooblinka told him. "Each month has ONE full moon, but occasionally there are TWO FULL MOONS in one month: one at the beginning and one at the end. And they're magic times! Times when OUR WORLD can leak over into yours," she added.

"LOVEY IS FROM OUR SIDE!" she yelled in triumph, "I just KNOW IT! And somehow, this little guy manages to stay here and get along quite well!" Hooblinka said with admiration, casting an affectionate eye at the snake, who smiled right back, tongue flicking.

Lovey breathed onto the glass, made SEVERAL HEARTS, and ate all of them lickety split! The group CHEERED! "What a talented, sweet little guy!" Hooblinka said, "He's eating LOVE!"

"Rusty, there's some reason why your world, 'the world of Rusty' is slipping back and forth into ours... and now you've met Feebles the dragon, and Scatcat the ah....'cat'... and we've met you and Lovey. I think we're all TERRIBLY special and TERRIBLY lucky! It's a rare thing, this changing in and out... so we're destined to be together, or at least close by," she added, full of emotion.

"Time to go back, guys!" she told her companions. Feebles cast one last look at Lovey, who nodded happily at him. He thought about the tight squeeze going back, and said, "Oh dear. The things we do for love." And Scatcat PURRED once more as loudly as he could, and with a 'SNICK, SNICK, SNICK!' --they were back in gray world, giddy with their travels-- and HUNGRY! Scat wandered off to cook up something grand, just as a huge shadow began to swallow up his footsteps.

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