Zebras Diary

Eric the Agony Zebra
Most Haunted Reviews
Psychics and Mediums(?)
Zebras Diary

Eric Zebra - Life Beyond The Skirting Boards
The Diary of a 4" high Zebra

Friday 12th Feb

Finally got this computer working! We formed a pyramid and have managed to reach the "On" button. Why he needs it so high is beyond me.

So, the reason for writing this. We have been here for some time, hiding, watching and learning. We have mastered the written word and thank goodness for these computers, holding a pen is not easy.

We feel we need to get some sort of record of our life here, for all we know we may be an endangered species. We have seen large Zebras on the television, but not tiny ones like ourselves. Life here is not easy and we may not be around much longer.

Saturday 13th Feb

Didn't manage to make much of a start yesterday, they came back and we had to make ourselves scarce. The nights are so cold at the moment; we are finding it difficult to wait around until the fire has died down so we can sleep on the grate. We stagger the lookout and sleep in groups of four. Some have suffered slight singes to the hooves because of the heat from the grate, but it is better than trying to alter the central heating. Too many doors and too many buttons, the risk of being seen is too great.

Decided today that only half the group should make any excursions from the house at any one time. We realise that there is safety in numbers, but unless the trips are made at night again we realise the risk of being seen.

Note: Must remember to return the corkscrew to the house with the woman who mostly smells of beer in it. That house is becoming a good source of provisions. We must be more careful in future to return borrowed items, we believe she may be becoming suspicious.

Wednesday 17th Feb

We have extended our run through the skirting boards. With some chewing and kicking we have managed to break through into what appears to be the airing cupboard. More warmth there and a good retreat if required.

Thursday 18th Feb

Tragedy! Lost Harry today. A foolish attempt to explore further went horribly wrong.

Decided to try and make a permanent base in beer woman's house, we really need to split the group in case of discovery. An attempt to patch into the plumbing for our water supply ended with Harry falling in into the toilet cistern. The sides were so steep and slippery he had no chance. With Harry having no opposable thumbs to grasp the rope we had thrown him, rescue at that time seemed impossible. Beer woman returned home earlier than expected and we had to leave him. I have promised the rest of the group that we shall make a second rescue attempt tonight, but deep down I believe that may be too late. I'm not sure how many flushes he will be able to stand.

Friday 19th Feb

There is confusion amongst the group. Having made the second attempt to rescue Harry, we have found the cistern empty. The outlet is far to small for him to have been flushed away, and escape by himself would have been impossible. He may have been captured. Harry grinds his teeth when nervous, and beer woman may have heard him.

I will study her for a while; she may lead us to him.

Saturday 20th Feb.

Provisions getting low, we will have to organise a raiding party. Cant get to the grass through the snow and eight of us are suffering mild frostbite to our noses. We will go the public house next door, I believe there is a large selection of food behind the bar.

Democratic voting has decided we go for the Scampi Fries. Nobody wants a repeat performance of the Arthur/Pork Scratching incident, and he still isn't sleeping well.

Having to wrap old tea bags round our hooves. The floor next door is quarry tiled and we fear the tapping may alert someone.

Sunday 21st Feb

Have broken the video recorder; I should not be so inquisitive, they may not notice for a while, hopefully.

Tuesday 23rd Feb

My Birthday, we may go out

Wednesday 24th Feb.

Awoke with a hangover like the end of the world and I cant do a thing with my mane.

Banging my nose on this keyboard is not helping matters; I may have to sleep this off in the airing cupboard. They are decorating, and the smell of paint is terrible. I do hope they don't decide to paint the skirting boards.

Thursday 25th Feb

Feeling much better after eighteen hours sleep. Woken by the sound of raucous laughter. Arthur has fallen into an open pot of gloss paint and is slowly drying off.... Green. The psychological damage could be permanent, as could the paint. Coupled with the pork-scratching episode a few weeks ago, I feel Arthur may be losing it.

Friday 26th Feb

Arthur has now dried off. According to the label on the paint pot he is "Fresh mint Green", looking at the colour chart I would say more "Sage Leaf" than anything. I may have to write and complain. He seems happier in himself and is coming to terms with his new colour, although I hope he doesn't look in a mirror...some joker stenciled him last night while he slept.

Sunday 28th Feb

Things may be looking up! Overheard some of the people in the public house talking about miniature zebras! This would have normally concerned us, but it appears that they were talking about another group from a different village. We are all now obviously very excited and are trying to figure out a way of making contact with them. We must be careful; if this group is known about it may bring unwanted attention on ourselves. Softly softly catchy zebra, or something.

Monday 29th Feb

Sleep walking last night. Woke up at 3am in the fridge, lying in the vegetable tray. Most distressing.

Tuesday 2nd March

A heated debate last night through until the early hours of the morning. Everyone talking about the other group of zebras and how we are going to find them. I have decided to risk it and send search parties out, this could go one of two ways. We may find the other group of zebras, or, we may never see each other again. When we have a feasible plan, I shall send the group out two by two. I read that in a book somewhere. Now looking for two volunteers to explore down river. I have found an ice cream tub that will serve as a suitable watertight vessel.

Wednesday 3 March

In the face of adversity, Owen has found religion. Instead of finding out who it belongs to, he has decided to keep it.

I am getting quite annoyed now. Owen has become quite sanctimonious and now struts about proclaiming that he is "Holy-Zebra". He now insists that we attend regular meetings in the hope that with Spiritual enlightenment we will overcome our problems. Owen also insists "for our own good", that we recite the new prayer that he has composed before we sleep.

Our Father who is in Heaven

Hallowed be thy mane

An eye for an eye, a hoof for a hoof

The meek shall inherit the skirting boards

Give us this day our warm fire grate

And forgive us our borrowing

As we forgive those who borrow things from us

(And sometimes forget to return them)

I fear Owen may be going the same way as Arthur.

Thursday 4th March

We have had to delay our search for the other group of zebras. The weather is foul.

Rufus and Crystal saw a trailer for a film called "The Titanic" when they left the television on. They are now refusing to get into the ice cream tub.

Friday 5th March

Made another trip the beer woman's house last night to make another search for Harry. Had to hide behind the sofa until she went to bed just after 2 am. Whilst I was standing on the turntable of the record player trying to look down the back of it, Arthur "accidentally" turned it on.

I did five full turns before being violently sick in a perfect circle at exactly 45rpm.

It took an hour to clean the mess up. During this time Arthur just stood in the middle of the living room, shaking and giggling uncontrollably, some would say insanely.

I was forced to chew his ear until he snapped out of it. He is becoming a liability.

A thorough search of the ground floor turned up no more than a few hoof prints behind the cooker. I am not sure if these are recent or ones we have left behind on previous visits.

After leaving beer woman's house, childish squabbling from the rest of the group kept me awake. Owen believes he is being persecuted for his religious beliefs. The rest of the group disagrees. They say they are persecuting him just for being Owen.

Saturday 6th March

I have managed to convince Rufus that there are no icebergs in the river, he has promised to try and talk Crystal round.

They have been out all day so we amused ourselves with the "CD Game" we devised some time ago. One of us chooses a CD from the rack and removes it from the case. Another of us licks it and drops it in the coal bucket. Finally the last one puts it back in the wrong case. It sends them crazy! Combine this with the "creep up behind the mice and give them the willies" game the day goes quite quickly.

It's nice to have some time not worrying about anything.

Sunday 7th March

I have had to quarantine Lucas. He has fleas. My heart goes out to him. Having fleas when you are only 4 inches high can make your life unbearable. When they jump, so do you.

To make matters worse for Lucas, the only one who can go near him is Arthur. His new gloss finish is almost bullet proof; the fleas can't get a grip. A bit like Arthur.

At the moment there is nothing else we can do. After a few days of Arthur's "Entertainment for the sick zebra" routine, which in involves dribbling a lot and standing on three legs, either the fleas will give in or Lucas will.

Monday 8th March

Rufus has been unable to convince Crystal about boarding the ice cream tub and now says that if she is not going then neither is he. I shall have to travel alone. I will leave when the weather has improved.

Sunday 9th March

A strange encounter indeed! They had gone out again, leaving the house empty. I was casually walking from the living room to the kitchen, idly kicking hairballs from the indents in the carpet pile, when I turned the corner and saw It! I am not ashamed to say I screamed. I shall do my best to give an accurate account of what happened.

Standing in front of me was a huge Polar Bear, at least 7 inches high I would have said. With the sound of my scream, the bear literally jumped, his paws leaving the floor. He frantically started to look around, chattering "What? What is it? What?.."

I calmed down instantly. "Eh?" I replied.

"The screaming, what's that all about? You scared the fur off me!" Growled the bear.

Stuck for words at this point, I responded "Well, you. Big Polar bear type thing. That's what I was screaming about. Look, its just not the sort of thing I am used to bumping into, ok?"

"But you can't see me!" Exclaimed the bear; "I am totally invisible, completely. That's me, totally and utterly invisible, not here, transparent, see through, just a voice, not even a...."

"STOP!" I shouted at him, "Just stop right there, you are not invisible, not even a tiny bit"

"I'm not?" He asked me, "not even a tiny bit". As frustrating as this conversation was, I could not help but feel a little sorry for this confused creature. "Sorry, but no" I told him. The huge bear in front of me hung his head. "All these years" he muttered to himself. "All these years thinking I was invisible and now this..."

I felt awful.

I tried to apologise. "Look I'm sorry to ruin your day like this, but did you really think you were invisible" I asked. The Bear looked up from the floor. "But its the oldest trick in the Polar Bear book" he explained, "we put one paw over our black noses and we are instantly camouflaged...invisible!".

The frustration was returning. "What about your eyes?" I asked. It was the bear's turn to respond, "Eh?" He said.

"Your eyes. You may have covered up your nose, but your eyes are black as well, what do you do about those?" I asked, now actually becoming quite intrigued.

The Bear hung his head again and picked at a loose piece of carpet, obviously getting quite embarrassed, "We, er.... Squint?". It seemed more of a question than an answer.

I didn't know if it was wise to humour him or not, I have to admit that I found his size quite daunting. "I can understand where you are coming from with all of this, if perhaps you were sat on an iceberg in a blizzard. But seeing you stood next to burgundy flock wallpaper with one paw over your nose, you just look like a Polar Bear trying not to sneeze.

The Bear sat down with a thump. "Bum" he said. "No wonder I haven't caught any penguins".

I have to say that this is the first time I have encountered a Polar Bear, let alone a depressed one. I was not quite sure how to react or what to say to him. I thought I had better introduce myself.

"I'm Eric, I live behind the skirting boards, and you are?" I asked the Bear

"Father Christmas" replied the Bear without looking up and with no hint of sarcasm.

"Heck" I thought. This was going from bad to worse. Regardless of his size, I asked "So what do I call you? Santa?"

The Bear looked up. "Modnok" he said, "My name is Modnok, but that doesn't stop me being Father Christmas as well, you know".

I was starting to get a pain behind my eyes. "Ok" I said "Lets presume you are Father Christmas. Shouldn't you be in Lapland or something?"

"No" replied Modnok, "Its the snow you see, I have a little problem with the colour white, it makes me go all queer"

"But you are white!" I exclaimed. "I know" said the bear sadly, "I also have a bit of a problem with mirrors"

So began my strange relationship with Modnok the Polar Bear.

Saturday 10th March

Modnok stayed the night with us last night. I thought that the very least I could do was provide him with some company. Therapy is not one of my strong points.

I was just introducing him to the rest of the group when at that point Arthur came gambolling around the corner, running straight into Modnok's stomach. Head buried deep in his fur and legs still running but unfortunately getting nowhere. Modnok looked down at the green shiny zebra and picked up Arthur by his mane and held him at eye level. "And this is..?" He asked.

"Erm, that'll be Arthur" I replied, "he's not been well.."

"Nice stenciling" said Modnok before placing Arthur back on the floor. Arthur's knees buckled and he lay on the floor, his tongue lolling from the side of his mouth, grinning at me in a most ridiculous way.

"Arthur" I said, " this is..erm..Father Christmas". I had to conceal a grin. Arthur's eyes instantly lit up. He leapt from the floor and threw himself into Modnok's lap. " A bike a big blue bike! yes that's what Id like" he babbled, "or a bench, a nice wooden bench, or a slide!" Arthur nuzzled into Modnok's chest. "I love you Santa" he sighed.

I didn't even have the heart to chew his ears, I slowly turned and headed for the airing cupboard and hoped there was a mouse I could get some sense out of.

Sunday 11th March

What a stupid thought that was yesterday, getting sense out of a mouse! I attempted to hold what I thought was a serious conversation with regards to the dangers of badly made skirting boards and the only response I got was "cheese". What a waste of three hours.

I was tempted to direct the mouse towards the trap I found last week, but compassion for the stupid took over.

Monday 12th March

Took another trip to the beer woman's house late last night. Still no sign of Harry. I watched the woman for sometime and she showed no sign of a lady who has recently become the owner of a small nervous zebra, I am beginning to wonder what may have happened to Harry, I am at a loss.

On my return, I managed to get the old ice cream tub that was in the garden into the airing cupboard. It will need a good clean before I even consider using it for a river trip. A job I think I will give to Arthur, even he cant mess that up and it may stop him asking me to write so many letters to Modnok telling him what he would like for Christmas.

On the subject of Modnok, he seems to be fitting into the group quite well, I think he is grateful for the company, although, at times he does still cover his nose with his paw.

Tuesday 13th March

I have to say that Arthur has made quite a good job of cleaning our new "boat". Admittedly I didn't think he would use his tongue, but it now looks a lot better. Modnok has now shown an interest in joining me on the trip and I think the tub should be able to cope with the extra weight.

Wednesday 14th March

Owen is going through another identity crisis. He is now "Jedi Zebra" having watched 'Star Wars' through a crack in the living room skirting boards. He has improvised a light-sabre (a pencil) and is currently doing battle against the Imperial Guards ( the goldfish). Three times he's fallen in now.

The others have starting mocking Owen again. He is now threatening to go over to the "dark side" unless they stop. By "dark side" I'm presuming he means the under stairs cupboard. The light hasn't worked in there for months. If he calls me Yoda one more time, he's going to get a slap.

Thursday 16th March

We leave tonight! I have instructed Rufus to continue with this diary should I not return within a month. Should I return, I shall do my best to update it myself.

Saturday April 2nd

We have returned. It has been almost three weeks and much has happened. I have spent the last few hours trying to collect my thoughts so I can write this down in some sort of legible manner.

What follows is an account of the last three weeks. The details should be accurate as each day seems to be etched in my mind.

We set off late Thursday evening. We left the house using the usual route, through the broken air brick at the rear of the building. Having located the ice cream tub we had hidden in the garden, Modnok and I placed it over our heads giving the impression of a large white tortoise with eight legs. We managed to negotiate the back garden and head round towards the main road. The river is approximately 200 yards on the other side of this. Crossing here had been quite a concern to us.

The road itself took quite a sharp turn on either side of us and during daylight was surfaced with a steady regular flow of vehicles. At night the cars were few and far between, but when they came, they came fast.

As we watched the approaching headlights it was difficult to judge the speed of the vehicles. Our cumbersome plastic shell and limited vision added to the danger. A heavy frost had created icy patches on the tarmac, each one a death trap for anyone with tiny hooves or paws.

Finally all we could see was darkness at either end of the road. Both taking a deep breath, we pushed off for the sprint of our lives.

We covered exactly three inches before we were stopped dead in our tracks. An ear splitting bang reverberated around the tub, our legs buckled as an impact above us forced the tub to the ground, trapping us inside.

In pitch black and pressed against the frost covered grass, we waited. The only noise being our breathing and a slight scraping noise from above. Minutes passed, each one seeming like an hour. Unable to see Modnok in the dark and too frightened to make a noise, my survival instinct must have taken over. i braced myself and started to push the tub upwards. Modnok, obviously sensing what I was trying to do, did the same. Our only chance was to remove the object trapping us and make a break for it.

As we pushed ourselves up, we could hear the object on top of us sliding to one side, followed by a dull thump as it fell to the ground. Another feeling took over. Curiosity.

I slowly moved my head under the gap between the tub and the grass and came face to face with the drooling Arthur.

Laying on his side and grinning inanely he flicked the frost from the grass with his tail. Apparently there was going to be three of us on the trip. Lucas must have thanked his lucky stars.

Suddenly Arthur leapt to his feet and grasped the tub with his teeth. Without a second glance he galloped across the road, missing a passing car by inches. Reaching the verge on the other side of the road he released the tub from his teeth. There he stood, triumphantly balancing on three legs. A string of saliva left his bottom lip, twinkled briefly in the moonlight and then dropped to the grass below him.

Reveling in his achievement, he lifted a second leg. Unfortunately it was on the same side as the first and Arthur, very slowly, fell over.

After a few minutes to regain our composure we made the trip across the road and joined Arthur. His small green shape only just visible by the side of the ice cream tub. Together, we pushed the craft under the fence and towards the shimmering darkness of the river, Its surface shining with silver flecks from the moonlight. As we approached, the sound of the rushing water filled our ears. The thought crossed my mind about how to hold the craft steady in the water as we boarded, so I decided we would have to launch ourselves into the river.

We searched the bank until we came to what appeared to be a slight slope that led to the waters edge.

Placing the tub at the top of this slope, we climbed inside and held on. Very gently we started to rock from side to side, the tub moving an inch or so with each movement. Suddenly we started to slide on the frozen grass. Cloud covered the moon and we were left in darkness as the tub moved towards the river.

The slope dipped sharply and we gathered speed, the wind forcing tears from our eyes and the bumps sending shockwave's through our teeth. A large bump and we appeared to be flying. I left my stomach somewhere in the bottom of the tub as we shot skyward. Then down again, the jolt as we hit the water knocking us all to the floor. Once again we were going up, spinning wildly in the air, being pressed against the smooth sides of the tub.

We were bouncing on the surface of the water like a skimming stone.

Finally we settled on the water, the current pushing the tub to one side as we were caught in the flow of the river. The rim of the craft dangerously close to the surface, any movement we made letting water over the edge.

Settling into the bottom of the tub I looked at my crew mates, seeing only the dark outline of them both I was unable to see the looks on their faces. I had no need to, the tension hung around us like the night mist hovering above the river bank.

It was going to be about five hours before the sun would rise, I hoped that the cloud would clear to give me some idea of what lay ahead. I looked round to where we had come from and saw the distant glow of the street lights surrounding the house we had left behind. They became hazy as the river mist obscured my view, and then disappeared from sight.

I was left with the darkness, the noise of the river and the sound of Arthur snoring. I remember actually being envious of Arthur's inability to see the serious side of anything.

In time, the sound of the river must have lulled me to sleep as well. I awoke with a start as something banged steadily on the side of the craft. It was light, we were bathed in an orange glow as the sun bled over the horizon. I peered over the edge and saw that the river had narrowed quite dramatically and there were brick buildings on either side of us.

I gently woke the other two and we unsteadily got to our feet. Modnok let out a small gasp of shock as he saw the building in front of us. We had been caught in a current that was knocking us against the side of the structure. Each time we made contact with it, the current would sweep us in a small circle and then back to the wall. Each time we went round we were taken within inches of a huge rotating water wheel. The flow of the river causing the wheel to turn slowly, each one of the enormous wooden paddles crashing down, foaming the water and taking leaves from the surface of the river with it. Given a chance it would also take a small ice cream tub containing three very scared, very tiny occupants.

Panicking, Arthur made a lunge for the side of the tub, his movement rocking us from side to side, water trickling over the edge. I managed to grab his tail between my teeth just before he managed to leap over the side. Spitting out small bits of hair and green paint I tried to explain to that he would have most certainly been dragged under by the current created by the water wheel.

We were for the time being, relatively safe, just as long as we remained in the small whirlpool. I had a limited time to figure out an escape route.

We carried no equipment in the tub, what equipment would a small zebra take? Perhaps I should have thought of that a little more before we left.

Concentrating on the problem in hand, I found myself mesmorised by the turning wheel. Each paddle hitting the water at regular intervals. It may be possible to float something through the gaps between the paddles without being hit by one. I toyed with the idea of letting Arthur leap over the side as he had nearly done so before to test my theory, but shook the thought from my mind. I put it down to the cold affecting my thinking.

I slowly leant my head over the side of the tub and looked on the waters surface. My reflection startled me. I hardly recognized the dirty, wet zebra staring back at me. A small stick was also caught in the whirlpool, traveling along side us. I leant further down, letting a small amount of water into the tub, and gripped the stick between my teeth. Stepping backwards slightly, avoiding standing on Arthur and Modnok, I pulled the stick over the edge and into the tub.

Arthur, immediately thinking I had brought him breakfast, started to chew the bark. I took the stick from him on tapped him on the nose with it. He got the message and started to gnaw grumpily on the rim of the tub, his tail swishing from side to side, slapping Modnok in the face. There was no room for sulking in the tub.

Facing the water wheel, I took the stick in my teeth and threw my head back. The stick flew from my mouth landing some six feet up river. Turning round I watched its progress towards the rotating wheel.

It reached the wheel just as one of the paddles entered the water, faltered slightly before being sucked through the gap. It was possible. For a stick.

I weighed up our options, we didn't have any. Looking at how close we were to the wheel, there was not going to much margin for error, but it was our only choice. I instructed Arthur to lay on the floor of the tub and act as ballast. He seemed happy that he had found his calling in life. Modnok and I hung our heads over opposite sides of the tub to act as "oars". As we floated round, we waited until we were furthest away from the building and then, by splashing our noses in the water, managed to release ourselves from the hold of the whirlpool.

The tub was now three feet away from the turning wheel and approaching quickly. I glanced up at the turning paddles and saw the dark underside of one of them, the grain of wood raised by the years of flowing water. It descended.

Shouting quickly at Modnok, we back paddled with our noses, battling against the mighty Derwent. We needed to buy ourselves just a fraction of a second. I felt the spray of the water as the paddles hit the surface of the river. I lifted my nose from the river, Modnok didn't, sending the tub into a spin as it shot through the gap between the paddles.

Still spinning, I could see the moss covered brick walls which formed the narrow channel that we were now in and the wheel as it sunk its wooden paddles into the water. I could also see the paddles coming out of the water at the other end. A view that I could see more clearly with each revolution of our craft. I hadn't thought about the other end.

We bumped against one of the paddles as it rose out of the water, pushing us back a few inches, then forward again, just missing the following one. We were going to make it. The turbulence on the water caused by the upward movement of the wheel held us stationary for a short while. Then we went up. Caught squarely on one of the large pieces of wood, we were lifted from the water like a chair on a fairground ride. It didn't last too long. As the wheel turned, the angle of the paddle changed, sloping backwards.

The tub started to slide, assisted by the thin layer of algae that covered the wood.

Suddenly we were falling. Two tiny zebras (one green), a polar bear (nose covered) and an ice cream tub (low fat, soft scoop). Falling into the freezing water and being pulled towards the rotating paddles once more. I had the awful thought that I would spend the rest of my life travelling a third of the way round a water wheel and getting wet. I couldn't see the other two and at that moment passed out.

I came round as something warm and sticky landed on my head. I opened my eyes to see a duck walk slowly away. I heard giggles and turned my head to see Modnok and Arthur trying to suppress their laughter. I could see that we were at the waters edge on a large area of well kept grass. The water wheel was about twenty feet away and I noticed a small white ice cream tub being lifted out of the water by it, before dropping out of view.

Our boat ride has obviously come to an end.

It turned out that after I had passed out, we had all been swept through or under the wheel and Modnok and Arthur had managed to drag me to the side of the river where the water was calmer. We suffered no more than a few bruises and a stomach full of water.

Feeling exhausted I managed to get to my feet and rinse my head at the waters edge. Doing so I vowed to seek revenge on the offending duck. I am not a vicious creature by nature, but in my heart I felt that the duck did it with malice. In fact i don't think I have ever met a vicious tiny zebra. A few bad tempered ones admittedly, but that's all. You see it just isn't in our nature. We are not really meat eaters, although we do enjoy the odd rasher of bacon when we can get one. We don't hunt our prey, unless you call stalking a mince pie hunting. To be honest, being our size means that anything small enough to hunt is probably not something we would want to eat anyway. Lets face it, we're talking insects and I really don't want to go there.

I digress.

We had obviously been on the grass for some time, on view, so to speak. We had to find some cover, preferably away from the ducks. Nudging Arthur into action we headed towards a small wooden fence at the edge of the grass. Peering through the long grass that surrounded the fence posts i surveyed the area. We were in a village not unlike the one we had left behind. Beyond the fence was a road, on the other side of that were houses, a couple of them looked like the public house next door to where we were before. I had to admit it, it certainly looked like tiny zebra country.

I looked round to see Modnok trying to grab hold of Arthur who was using his green camouflage to creep up on the ducks. For once I didn't try and stop him. I was hoping he would give one of them a nasty nip.

My attention was drawn by the sunlight glinting on something in the long grass. About fifteen feet away a small metal periscope turned slowly to face us. The sun was reflecting off the small circle of glass covering the end of it. It moved slightly from side to side before gliding down to be covered by the grass.

Then there was movement, the grass being pushed down as something moved through it. Five or six feet to the left of where it had previously been, the periscope appeared through the grass again. Once more pointing in our direction. Arthur stood, his legs shaking as he stared wide eyed at the inquisitive glass eye that observed us. He let out a small noise like a balloon deflating. I wasn't sure from which end of him the sound originated.

The glass eye moved towards us, the grass parting as it came. There before us stood what looked to be a tiny submarine with four striped legs. It walked towards us and stopped a few inches away. I shuffled round behind Modnok. Arthur fainted.

With a small squeak, the small porthole at the front of the submarine swung open. A mouth appeared.

"How come your mates green then?" said the mouth. I followed Arthur's lead and collapsed on the floor.

When I came round, without the aid of a duck this time, I saw Modnok and Arthur talking to another tiny zebra. The small submarine, now minus the legs, rested on the ground next to them. The new zebra was wearing a beautifully crafted bowler hat, two holes either side of it allowing his ears to protrude. He looked round and motioned that I should join them. His name was Joshua, he had already exchanged pleasantries with the other two. We were apparently in a place called Stamford Bridge and, according to Joshua, quite safe.

The information he gave me astounded me. There were over two hundred tiny zebras scattered around the village, small groups of them living in various houses and in underground dwellings. Their technical and scientific advancement was incredible.

The bowler hat it seems, served a purpose. Over the years, small groups of zebras had been venturing out and letting people actually see them. They had worked out that the best time for them to do this was when people were coming out of the public houses late at night. The people would look down, see a group of say three or four tiny zebras looking up at them, glance back at the public house and mutter something about "one too many". On following these people home and observing them, they didn't mention seeing the zebras to anyone! This worked well at night. Daylight was another matter. It had been decided that people really don't want to see tiny zebras. To aid the peoples "zebra blindness" the groups venturing outside had taken to wearing items found in children's toy boxes or Christmas crackers. Nobody would dare to mention that they had just observed a tiny zebra wearing a hat, balancing on the back of a park bench. Genius!

Joshua reached inside the submarine, a vessel they had designed nearly five years ago, and produced some spare "clothing". Two pairs of sunglasses, which Modnok and I balanced on our heads and a small pink handbag which we hung around Arthur's neck. We were told that with these items, we may as well consider ourselves "invisible".

Joshua walked towards the fence post we had been stood next to earlier and banged his hoof on it three times. The grass below it moved slightly and a small green trap door in the earth opened up towards us. A zebra wearing a patterned bandanna and a plastic moustache clipped to his nose poked his head through the hole. After informing Arthur that he "clashed terribly darling" with his accessories, he led us down through the trap door.

As the trap door closed above us I viewed our surroundings. We were standing in a strangely lit area with a corridor leading further underground. The light was provided by a string of Christmas tree lights suspended from the walls and leading down the corridor out of sight. The mustached zebra led the way and we followed him down the slope. We seemed to change colour as we passed each of the fairy lights on the wall. Arthur's gloss coat looked spectacular.

The corridor opened up into a large cavern, the ceiling made up of tree roots. The fairy lights continued round the cavern, attached to the roots. A flow of water seeped through a hole at one end of the cavern, forming a small stream of clear water that flowed through and ended in a large pool. The air in the cave was warm, the sound of the water soothing and the bizarre lighting effect gave the whole place a magical feel to it.

Moustache indicated to a large pile of multi-coloured cloth covering one area of the floor. he suggested that we rest for a while. After taking a long drink from the stream we settled down on the soft material. Sleep came quickly for us all.

The sound of soft splashing filtered into my sleep. Lazily I opened my eyes and saw before me the most beautiful zebra i had ever seen. She was bathing in the pool at the end of the cavern. Her soft mane shining in the multi-coloured lights. Even though she wore a set of comedy Groucho Marx eyebrows and moustache, I could see she was the zebra of my dreams. She glanced up and saw that i was awake, the plastic cigar splashing in the water as it fell from her mouth. Our eyes were locked in a gaze, my heart missed a beat and my soul melted. The moment was only broken by Arthur breaking wind loudly in his sleep.

Reaching down, she plucked the cigar from the pool, blushing slightly before elegantly skipping through a door at the side of the pool.

I gently awakened Modnok and gave Arthur a small kick on the rear. Arthur lifted his head from the blankets, the green gloss paint wrinkled up on one side of his face giving an image that would have had Salvador Dali reaching for his paint brushes.

A few minutes later the beautiful zebra returned, accompanied by an elderly male zebra. He shuffled through the door with her help, a long grey artificial beard hooked over his ears and trailing between his hooves. He cleared his throat. " I am Tumbleweed" he said in an almost inaudible voice "and welcome. This is my daughter Victoria". Victoria caught my eye, blushed again and lowered her gaze. " Please follow me, we have much to show you" he continued. He turned and headed through the door he had appeared from. Glancing between us, we rose from our bedding and followed the couple through the door. The side of Arthur’s face had regained its normal shape and he skipped along next to us, trying to shake off a piece of paper that had stuck to one of his hooves.

We entered another cavern, twice the size of the one we had been sleeping in. Gone were the fairy lights, instead the illumination was provided by two household lights, one at each end of the cave, their cables disappearing into the roof of the cavern. Everywhere I looked I saw tiny zebras at work benches. Some of them looking quite bizarre, wearing various attachments to their noses an hooves. These attachments making it possible for them to hold tools and perform tasks that would have been impossible with just hooves. Tumbleweed said nothing as we gazed around the cavern. So much to take in. I noticed a zebra to the left of me, he was wearing what appeared to be a black harness with a rectangular block attached to his back. He stood beneath a cable a few inches above him, stretched between two walls of the cavern. Using a pulley system, two other zebras pulled a metal plate attached to the wire towards the harnessed zebra. As the plate passed overhead, he jumped up, a metallic 'clang' as the rectangular block on his back stuck him to the plate. The others continued with the pulley and the plate continued down the wire, the zebra under it, his legs dangling. Nearing the end of the wire, he grasped a handle fastened to the harness, gave it a sharp tug, and dropped to the floor.

Tumbleweed turned to face me, his beard becoming unhooked from one ear as he did. Victoria quickly hooked it back into place. "That," Tumbleweed indicated to the harnessed zebra "has been eight months of development. Traveling great distances quickly has always been a problem until we started on this design". He looked at the three of us in turn, "What you see there is the '17th Generation Magnetic Car Harness Transportation Unit. A dangerous, but effective method of high speed travel." He continued to explain that the process involved wearing the harness, laying in the road and waiting for a car to pass over the top. As the vehicle did so, the zebra would leap up, attaching themselves to the underside of the vehicle.

Tumbleweed and Victoria looked sadly at the ground "twenty three zebras have used this device and not returned. It took three months to figure out that they had no way of releasing themselves when they reached their chosen destination." He shook his head slowly "The new handle on this harness will solve that. Those brave, brave little zebras..."

Victoria looked up and spoke for the first time since I had set eyes on her. Her eyes glinted, "Look" she said excitedly, "I have started my own transport design". She motioned towards a group working on a large toy car. "We found this a couple of weeks ago. Its remote controlled". Two of the workers were holding the remote unit on top of the car while the others attached it with black tape. "With a minimum of two on board, I believe that this can be driven for as long as the batteries last" she said, "one to operate the forward and reverse, the other to control the left and right. We just need to borrow some batteries to test my theory". I could have listened to her voice for ever.

There was movement to the side of me and a muffled squeaking. I turned to see Modnok trying to help Arthur, who had somehow managed to get his head wedged fast in a glass jar. Some things never changed. I remember thinking that I needed a drink.

A loud bang startled me. A wooden door to one side of me had been pushed open, slamming against the wall. I let out a muffled yell of fear as I saw three strange creatures come through the doorway into the cavern. Victoria chuckled at my reaction. "Don't worry" she said reassuringly, "they are quite, quite friendly. Eric, I would like you to meet Slippy, Aye-Aye and Benson".

I realized I was looking at three large rats, well, I was pretty sure they were rats, but a stranger group I had never seen. Victoria informed me that the three had been rescued from a nearby laboratory. This explained a great deal. Slippy was utterly bald, not one hair anywhere. Benson had a yellow stripe stretching from his mouth to the top of his head and a large square sticking plaster on his back. I noticed there was writing on it "Nicotine replacement patch" it said. Victoria observed me reading it. "Without it" she whispered "He's dreadful, he was a forty a day rat".

Finally I looked at Aye-Aye. He appeared deeply troubled. Again Victoria leaned in close to whisper to me. "It's such a shame about Aye-Aye. He spends his life fighting a craving for cheese". I looked at her. "Well, he's a rat" I said, "Rats like cheese don't they?"

"They do" replied the lovely Victoria, "They love cheese. Regrettably he is lactose intolerant. He can't have any dairy products at all. The mental contradiction must be driving him insane."

I looked up at Aye-Aye, he was staring at a yellow coloured box on one of the shelves, saliva dribbled from one side of his mouth, his left eye twitched as he let out a tiny snivel. I made a mental note, if Aye-Aye and Arthur became friends, with the collective dribble, I should carry a towel.

To be continued.....


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