Earl the Delivery Sheep was normally very laid back regarding his work, so long as he got his package to its destination both intact and on time. He was informal with his boss, lax with his uniform, and near forgetful with safety practices. That day was different. That day he needed his uniform to clearly announce who he was and why he was knocking. That day he would carry the garlic, and the screeching lemmings. In fact, as he left, he made sure to grab extra screeching lemmings before he logged out the package for delivery. He was mostly calm passing through the Vale of Shroudedness, along the Path of Awkward Dreams trying make the delivery. He hesitated before crossing the drawbridge over the moat of popcorning guinea pigs. With reluctance he knocked upon the door of Count Gary Von Pronghorn the 3rd, and tried not to run away. However, as the door began to open, Earl panicked. He threw down the package along with several screeching lemmings, before fleeing in terror. He never forgave himself for wetting his wool that day.
The clock was broken again. That was what held my attention during most of the fuss. There was another damned unicorn in the rose garden, eating Agatha’s prized orchids. Hank had run off for his blunderbuss, screaming something about finally getting to test his new ammunition. Beatrice stood at the window making shooing motions with her hands and loudly saying “tsk, tsk” at the thing. None of us thought to let out Nicodemus, my pet puma, until after Hank’s blunderbuss misfired and destroyed the silly clock for good.
It was late as I walked up my street from the bus stop. I noticed an odd glow lighting up the sidewalk in front of Ms. Matisse’s house. Her garbage bin was at the curb for pickup in the morning, but it was on fire. The flames were undulating in colours both bright and dark at the same time. There seemed to be a faint crying of balls emanating directly off the flames themselves. I began to wonder if those tacos I ate at work were a bit off. As I got closer I noticed the plastic of the bin was not melting from the fire. Instead it was covered in a thick frost. A frost that was spreading across the ground near the bin. Freezing the asphalt, the sidewalk, and the lawn. The fact that Seattle was in the middle of a heat wave had zero effect. I was pleasantly cool too once I was within 20 feet of it. That’s when I saw the overly large, pristine blue, feathers littered around the garbage bin.
*slight edit for a friend
I was supposed to be the bait, again. The lure for the Mummy. It had broken out of its tomb and was scaring all the locals. I tried to tell Shaggy that I didn’t want to do it at all, but he just threw another pot brownie at me. I couldn’t help myself and caught it out of the air, swallowing it in one bite. I forgot to argue and he just waltzed off leaving me alone. Left me for the monster as usual. I hate him. He makes great sandwiches, but he leaves me out to get eaten too often. I ought too… What was that noise? Is Shaggy coming back already? RUN!!!
As Earl the Delivery Sheep para-dropped from the delivery plane his sense of unease increased. Earl had done this many times before but never with live cargo. However, carrying a case of live butterflies to a research facility in the mountains was difficult at best, just plain dangerous in winter. After a safe landing on the untouched fields of snow in the Valley of Doom, Earl began his ascent up the Stairs of Forgetfulness. The wind was harsh, cold, and seemed to hum a constant tune he could not quite remember. At the top he found the semi-hidden door to the Laboratory of Silly Research into Benign Things. The doorbell was broken.
Earl the Delivery Sheep never liked odd deliveries. He considered himself a reasonable sheep but having to dig a hole to make a delivery was a bit much. Having to absolutely, no exceptions, dig the hole under the Bridge of Awesome Wafer Thinness next to a Root Beer river though? He was wet and sticky now, not to mention heavy. It would take ages to clean. After burying the wax covered box of board games in the hole came the worst part. To announce to the Beaver that ordered the package that it was there, Earl had to sing. He had to sing We Will Rock You making sure to add the stomps and claps to get the clients attention. Earl hated singing.
Earl the Delivery Sheep was reading his map again. The seventh time in the past ten minutes. He was very, very lost. As Earl sat at the sixth set of crossroads he’d come across in the Forest of Madness the paths around him shimmered and changed. As they changed, so did his map. He’d never been lost before, never not made a delivery on time. Today was going to be that day. He had a package of sloth fur-mold-remover for Penny and Edgar. They hung around on the Tree of Temporality making watches for Comedians with a bad sense of timing. It took another hour for the Forest to stop changing enough for Earl to continue. He decided that next time he’d just para-drop in.
It was sheer joy to be here. To be crawling through the mud, the leaves, the grass. The rain poured, the lightning flashed, and the thunder clapped. Sheer joy. I crawled through the park alone and revelled at my luck. No one here because of the weather. I was filthy and did not care. I’d lost a shoe, my knees bled, my palms were cut. Still I grinned ear to ear. I would be the first one here. I would win.
It was late and cold as I walked down the street. The snowplows had recently gone through Main Street and so I had no sidewalk to walk on. I trudged along down the middle of the road safe in the knowledge our sleepy little town was all asleep except myself and Nick. Though Nick was at his place waiting for me. I hadn’t been drinking yet, so seeing the zebra suddenly next me was unusual. I kind of just noticed out of the corner of my eye that it was walking next to me. Keeping pace. It turned when I turned at 3rd Ave, and again at 1st Street. I ignored it best I could. I supposed it was a hallucination. I thought back to the leftover pizza from the fridge I ate earlier. Was the zebra pizza induced? At Nick’s house it followed me right up the driveway through the deeper snow to the door. I hesitated as it stood closer. It was scary to think the thing real out in rural Saskatchewan two feet from me on Nick’s front porch. I rang the doorbell and ignored the thing some more. When that door opened I knew we were in trouble, because Nick was staring at the zebra and not me.
I was nervous, I knew it. Yet those questions still seemed odd to me. All of them very personal and short. The interviewer kept up a rapid fire pace with them and I just answered quickly. They had started slowly but sped up quite fast and with shorter questions. They didn’t even look up from the display pad in front of them. Then it happened. I was asked my favourite colour. I said red and a loud bing sounded from the speakers in the ceiling. The interviewer stopped, stood up, and exited the room without a word. The lights went out, there was a faint hissing noise and a foul smell in the air suddenly. I was being gassed. Again. I awoke in an alley several blocks away that night with a letter of rejection from their HR department. Damn these corporations and their stupid standards. Red’s a nice colour.