The Story Thus Far: Jonah met the salmon Stuart in a puddle in his back yard after a massive storm rampaged through it, tearing through his world into other dimensions. He then made the mistake of telling his parents. His mother and father, fearing for his sanity, told him not to talk to Stuart any more, and to go play with other kids like a normal boy instead. One thing led to another, and shortly his parents were captured/eaten by a demon.
Desperate to get his parents back, Jonah rallied his friends Humphrey the troll, Calisto the harpy and Stuart the salmon. Together they set out on an epic quest into Jonah’s backyard. There were several puddle-portals, and one would lead them to a world where they could get help. Before they reached the puddle they needed, however, Jonah slipped, pulling he and Stuart into a free-fall towards the wrong world. You can read the first few chapters right here.)
Jonah fell down, down, down through the puddle, worlds that might have been spinning by him in bubbles of atmosphere. Above him his home, his world, his universe rocketed away until it was lost to sight. He clutched the handle of the red wagon that Stuart was still somehow occupying, clinging to it like it was the last link to his reality. Which was true, even if not by his mother’s definition.
Creatures the likes of which Jonah had never even thought to imagine passed by him as he continued his plunge. Some thrashed about as though their whole world had just disappeared down a maelstrom, and some tooled around like it was just another beautiful day in the current. The only thing they all seemed to have in common, in fact, was a total lack of interest in Jonah and Stuart.
Jonah saw a luminescent-rainbow jellyfish wreathed in sleeping baby-faces. He noted a gargantuan centipede that had octopus-tentacles instead of legs and a large sack on its back end. He gasped as he glimpsed — Wait a second. He gasped.
It dawned on Jonah that he was breathing just fine, even though he was still falling through the puddle. How odd. Well, he knew water was full of oxygen, so he supposed it wasn’t completely outrageous. Maybe he had grown gills or something. Or maybe you didn’t need to breathe at all when you were traveling between the puddles. Or maybe this wasn’t really water at all.
Jonah glanced back at Stuart. “You know, Stuart, this isn’t that bad.”
“Well, it really is, Jonah,” Stuart said. “This is definitely not leading us to the right place at all.”
“Where is it taking us then?” Jonah said. “Are we going to the world my parents fell to?”
“No, not there,” Stuart said. “Actually, it’s funny. I can normally chart the worlds between the currents in my mind. But this one is. . . blank. It’s almost like. . .”
“Like what, Stuart?”
“Jonah, hold your breath!” Stuart cried.
Jonah’s eyes grew wide and he took a deep, panicked breath just as they popped out of the trans-dimensional undertow into absolutely nothing.
Jonah snapped his gaze back and forth as his lungs began to burn. The puddle shimmered mysteriously above him, but apart from that there was only black, yawning, empty abyss. He glanced back at Stuart, who motioned with his tail toward Jonah’s left hand. Jonah looked down. The goldfish bowl was still clutched in his fingers.
Momentarily releasing the red wagon’s handle, Jonah scrabbled at the goldfish bowl and finally got it to pop over the crown of his head and plunge over his face. He couldn’t wait any longer and his body forced him to take a long, searing breath. Miraculously, his lungs flooded with oxygen. The liquid from the puddle-tunnel had filled the goldfish bowl, and it hadn’t yet floated away. Stuart’s suggestion had just saved his life. Oh, speaking of which. . .
Jonah looked back for Stuart, and found the red wagon with its salmon cargo floating sedately away, as was the water from the aquarium. Stuart had an increasingly worried glint in his saucer eyes. Jonah kicked toward the wagon and grasped the handle, then flipped around and started swimming back toward the puddle.
Slowly, slowly Jonah moved through the vacuum toward the shimmering, luminescent water above. Right before he reached it, though, the blackness below him erupted with light. Jonah looked down and felt a shock of wonder sizzle through his body.
Two burning hands far larger than solar systems shimmered into existence some ways (perhaps light years?) away from him. Were they up? Down? Who was to say? They gleamed and glowed as they radiated life, like galaxies given flesh.
Stuart thrashed back and forth. The water was three-quarters gone from his aquarium. Jonah nodded, and reached up towards the puddle. As his fingers brushed the silvered surface the fiery hands spread apart. As his hand slipped inside the brilliant ones clapped together. As his whole arm disappeared the blazing palms parted and a new universe exploded to life with a deafening bang.
Jonah shot back up the puddle.
That’s it for this chapter! Next time, the whole gang sets out for other parts unknown. Share it if you like it, and let me know what you’re thinking in the comments! Until next time. 😉