“Swoop! Swoop! Swoop!” Trentoteps shouted at Vincent Fishbein, sounding like a ridiculous aquatic bird of some kind. He was fixated on the river boat below them. “With that boat and this helicopter, I could control the sky and the sea. Then, I, Trentoteps, will rule the Earth!”

“Sure you will, Master,” Vincent Fishbein said, with what sounded like more than a hint of sarcasm.

“You condescend to me, your master? No! If anything, you prodescend to me. Prodescend!” Trentoteps smashed his fist against the housicopter wall. Now would be a good time to say that, kids, you shouldn’t take your anger out on helpless inanimate objects. Talk your feelings out with a parent or friend. Unless you are an evil Space Mummy, in which case, you can pretty much do whatever you want, I guess. Anyway, I feel bad for the poor housicopter.

“But, Master, the housicopter and that little river boat aren’t enough to take over the world with,” Vincent Fishbein said, ending his sentence with a preposition.

“What! You shall pay for your impudence!” Trentoteps shouted, shooting laser beams from his eyes at the pilot. Vincent Fishbein jumped out of the way just in time, but the laser beams fried the controls of the poor, defenseless housicopter. Have you ever been in a situation beyond your control, forced to do something that you really, really did not want to do, but were forced to because of grown ups or gravity, or perhaps gravy? Then you can put yourself in the housicopter’s shoes. Because now, since its controls were fried, it was falling from the sky on a collision course with the ground.

Meanwhile, Becky had noticed the scarecrow wandering along the river bank, looking harried and lost. As a bird, scarecrows were inherently frightening to her, but she had a feeling this one was friendly, and mustered up the courage to approach him. After all, she had a feeling she could help him out.

“Brawk! Did you lose a young baboon? Brawk!” she said, alighting on a tree branch.

“Yes! Yes! My daughter has gone missing. She’s a ten-year old baboon with straw for fur. Have you seen her?” Leopold accosted the poor talking bird with a barrage of questions. Becky flinched (though not a finch) and tried her best not to freak out.

“Brawk! A man in a river boat kidnapped her. Brawk!”

“What? River boat? Man? Kidnapped? In?” Leopold was trying hard to process all of this information. “Can you take me to it?”

“Brawk? How? Brawk?” Becky looked at the scarecrow quizzically.

“Lift me up in your talons, I’m light. It will be easier to spot the boat from the sky.” Becky was torn. She was frightened to death of the scarecrow, but she had no reason to be. They weren’t in a corn field, and he was being rather friendly. Was he hiding an ulterior motive?

No. He was a concerned father and Becky could help him. She had to be brave, she had to be the hero. “Brawk! Hold tight! Brawk!” Becky grasped onto Leopold’s straw shoulders. He was light. As she lifted him off the ground and flapped her wings toward the river boat, neither of them noticed the housicopter barreling toward them at a faster and faster pace.

Meanwhile, on the river boat, Walter the tiny giraffe had convinced the box elder bugs to climb to the lock and pick it. In addition to shooting themselves out of a cannon, the box elder bugs made excellent locksmiths. “Almost got it,” one said through gritted teeth. Then, the lock snapped open. “Done!”

The door swung open, just in time for Count Hawkula to walk past. “What!” he shouted. “Trying to escape? You will pay for your impudence!” And he shot laser beams out of his eyes! Just kidding. He made to slam the door shut again, but was attacked! The giraffe, chipmunks and various insects of the flea circus (which ironically employed no fleas) swarmed in his face and scurried up his pant legs and generally caused a ruckus.

Cassiopeia Birnbaum made to run, bolting across the deck, but she stopped. “Go, go, Cassie!” Walter shouted. “Don’t stop.”

But Cassiopeia Birnbaum didn’t hear him. She was too transfixed by the housicopter hurtling toward them at an alarming rate.

Wow! All sorts of excitement. What will happen next?

We shall see.


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