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

Hoobie And The Time Traveler

~From The Garden Till Now~

Hoobie crossed to where dragon and tooth were hunched over a pot, discussing their recipe for fish chowder.

Scat was still scolding Feebles about adding his strange ingredients-- "NO WALNUTS, FEEBLES! It totally ruins it," he said.

"Scat. Is this the same Scatcat who only yesterday wanted Limburger cheese on his French Toast?" Hoobie asked, smiling.

"That's an acquired taste," said Scatcat. "I picked it up when our sideshow Barney's World Wonders was traveling through Belgium. It makes me feel cozy," he said.

"Well there you have it!" countered Feebles. "My mother added walnuts to everthing," he pouted, "and it makes ME feel cozy."

Hoobie's small, quick eyes were drawn to the soup's surface. Sticking up, like a tiny periscope on a submarine, was a rounded, snakelike head, wearing teeny GOGGLES. She peered closer at it, and yes! it was a small worm, turning its head this way and that, looking around.

Curious, Feebles asked the two, "Did either of you by any chance also stick a worm into this broth?" she asked. "NOOOOOO!" both Scat and Feebles answered, horrified.

"Well, a worm it is......" said Hooblinka. "And he's wearing swim googles, and swimming in the chowder," she added, pointing at the worm.

A small voice, something between the cheep of a chickadee and the chirp of a cricket said, "GOODNESS!"-- Sputter! Sputter! --spitting the chowder out of its mouth. "Is this by any chance, Eden?" he asked, flustered as a wet hen. Feebles and Scatcat gawked at him, saying nothing.

Hooblinka answered, "This is Gray World... at least, that's what we call it, I don't know if it has a name, but it's definitely NOT Eden," she told him.

"Oh dear! I'm late...late! Too late again," said the worm, looking very worried. "I've been to Eden, South Wales and Eden, North Carolina-- and Eden, Wisconsin.... the list goes on and on....there's so awfully many Edens, but alas, not 'THE' Eden...and I'm late and lost, and oh, oh.......I'm a failure!" he wailed, and swam in pitiful circles.

"You see there was this couple by the name of Adam and Eve... and Eve was supposed to offer Adam a bite of apple from one very bad, very wicked tree, and MY JOB was to bore into the apple and make a nasty hole... so that when Adam was to take a bite, he'd see the ugly hole-- KNOW there was a worm inside, and he'd refuse. That was my ONE TASK, my ONE JOB! And I cannot for the life of me find the place!"

"I've been traveling through centuries looking and looking by means of these special goggles a wizard made for me," he continued, "and all I happen upon are... EDEN, NORTH CAROLINA, and EDEN, SOUTH WALES.... but never, ever 'THE' Eden. And I have a feeling that if I do not accomplish this task, something terrible might happen!"

Hoobie and Feebles and Scatcat looked at one another. They couldn't bear to break the news to the the worm that he did indeed fail, and that since that missed appointment, there have been floods and wars and all sorts of mischief since Adam bit into the apple.

"Hah!" said Feebles. "Did this wizard by any chance live in the 'Cave of High Purpose'?" he asked.

"Why, yes he did!" answered the worm.

"I KNEW IT!" sputtered Feebles. "That crackpot old fool ruins EVERYTHING!" he said. Angry enough to burst, he added, "He should have his LICENSE taken away! He should be thrown into the sea! He should...."

But Hooblinka stopped him by raising her small hand, palm faced outward. "Enough, Feebles! No sense crying over spilled milk," she said. "It doesn't help." Feebles fumed and paced, paced and fumed-- but he remained silent.

"Since you're here now, worm, what is your name?" she asked. "Hans," he answered, "and I'm very tired." At that, the worm yawned, fell slowly sideways into the soup and disappeared beneath its surface. One or two bubbles appeared where he'd gone under.

"Oh, for Pete's sake, FISH HIM OUT!" yelled Hoobie. "He'll drown."

After giving the worm mouth-to-mouth first aid (which Scat was very proud he knew) he said, "This little guy has been doing his best, but the poor chump is in search of a task he's already failed at centuries and centuries ago. What can we do for him, Hoobie?"

Hooblinka thought. She circled the pot. She studied the worm, and then reaching over him, snatched off his goggles. The worm continued to doze. "If HE can see and travel through time with these things, surely I can," she said, and snapped them on her head. "He's a worm.......but I'm a witch!"

Feebles and Scat sat down. Feebles was cradling the worm gently in his scaly paw and singing to him. "Hans, Hans......With every day that dawns, On every sea that's tossed, You're looking for the lost.. lost land of E-e-e-den." His voice was so sweet and so soft, Scat felt quite tender toward him.

Meanwhile, Hooble had slipped the goggles on her head and with knees bent, hunched over like she was riding a MOTORCYCLE, she traveled, oh she did! An invisible wind whipped her stringy hair straight back. Her small frame hummed all over like a motor, and Hoobie saw pyramids and an arc, Pharaoh's and Kings.... back, back..... into the most emerald green paradise imaginable. She watched something... she grinned as big as house, shouted, "AH HAH!"- and immediately turned round, hair whipped in the opposite direction- her humming fast and furious, then growing slower, softer-- finally sputtering to a stop.

With a shiny layer of sweat covering her little body, she tore the goggles from her face and walked quickly over to where Feebles was still singing to the sleeping worm. "Hans!" she shouted. "Hans, WAKE UP!"

The sleepy little guy peeled open one relaxed eye, looked at Hoobie and said, "What?" "YOU DIDN'T FAIL, LITTLE MAN! You didn't fail at all!"

"I put on your goggles and I went all the way back in time to that moment when Eve offered Adam the apple. Hans! YOU WERE IN THERE, SWEETIE! You were doing your JOB! Eve TURNED THE APPLE AROUND so Adam couldn't see the hole. She tricked him! Tricked him good!"

"And all the stuff that's happened since- (which you don't know about, but trust me, it's been bad) -well, that wasn't because you failed, so you can stop now. You can be a regular worm and start burrowing and making nice air holes in the ground for crops to grow. You can start a family.....you can find a MRS. HANS and live a comfortable life. You can stop traveling, little guy."

And Hoobie blinked back tears, so happy was she to be able to release the small worm from thousands of years of searching and feeling badly about himself.

"After Adam bit into that thing, all HELL broke loose! The animals stampeded, the trees caught fire-- and you slipped into a crack in the earth which was really a crack in time."

"Scat! Write that down! It think that might be important! I think that's why scientists call these mysterious chutes in time 'worm holes'! I think I've discovered something!"

Even Feebles and Scat were wiping their eyes, and Hans felt about a hundred pounds lighter. He spun like a top. He GIGGLED. And he gave his goggles to Hooblinka. "I think you'll put these to very good use," he said. And he jumped down a hole in the dirt, and all through that evening, the three friends swore that if you put your ear to the ground, you could hear little Hans singing.

"Now, maybe we can ALL get some rest," said Hooble.

And curling up like kittens.....that's what they did.

(Until the sun refused to come up.) It was the first time that had happened... and all because of a misunderstanding between Sun and Moon.

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