Well, after many recurring periods of writer's block and procrastination (and a wi-fi card failure that stopped me midway through and forced me to switch computers), I finally finished my entry for the Summer Exchange Prompt for July 2019. This one was just one of those that I had a very hard time with, and I ended up coming up with something decent (hopefully).
The prompt I was given was:
"Things can never stay the same for very long. Write a story about a time where the summer brings about great changes."
So, I found myself watching "The Great Log-Running Game" again, and some strange idea came up in my head as I was writing this. I'll let you tell me if this fits in this universe or not, but maybe I just wanted to show some sense of creativity.
THE TREE STAR-FLOATING GAME
Littlefoot slowly opened his eyes and stretched his limbs. He sat up and looked around his nest to see that everything didn't quite seem the way it always was whenever he woke up on an ordinary day.
Only then, his body felt as if someone had splashed sticky water all over him. It was like someone tried to splash something cold on him. Every inch of his body felt so moist for some reason.
"Why do I feel so … warm today?" he asked himself.
"It must be very hot this morning," his grandfather replied as he and his mate stood up.
"And your body is trying to stay cool," she added.
Littlefoot suddenly noticed just how hot the air around him felt. Every time he breathed in, it felt rather too warm.
"It feels so … strange," he said, awestricken.
"Why don't you have some breakfast and you can go find your friends?" his grandfather offered.
Littlefoot smiled at that idea. He couldn't wait to see his friends so that he could ask them if they noticed the same thing he did.
"Sure, Grandpa," he answered.
Grandpa Longneck promptly pulled off a tree star and set it down in front of his grandson, and Littlefoot wasted no time eating it, although it felt abnormally dry in his mouth. It just didn't feel the same.
"Ugh! This tree star is so … dry," he complained, "I'm barely chewing it and it's crumbling to pieces in my mouth!"
"Hmm, … I suppose the same may happen to almost everything else in the valley, I'm afraid," said Grandma Longneck.
Littlefoot gasped at this and looked up at his grandparents.
"Oh, no! You don't mean …"
"Try not to worry about that, Littlefoot," his grandfather reassured, "Go ahead and look for your friends, and have a nice drink along the way."
Littlefoot sighed and turned away, "Okay, Grandpa. See you later."
"And be careful," said Grandma Longneck.
"You always say that!" Littlefoot replied in annoyance as he took off, and his grandparents chuckled at his sarcasm.
As he made his way through the valley, the Longneck looked around and saw that everything looked a little drier than usual. Some of the grass had turned brown, and flowers were just barely standing. It looked as though he was stepping into a living nightmare.
Suddenly, he heard gasping and frantic breathing above him, and he looked up and saw Petrie apparently trying to do a morning exercise flight, although it seemed he had lost his breath and would surely fall to the ground at any moment.
"Petrie!?" he gasped.
"Oh! So … so tired!" Petrie panted wearily as he frantically flapped his wings to keep himself aloft.
Littlefoot instinctively chased after him from below. He knew the Flyer would have no chance of staying in the air, and the least he could do was follow him so that when he did fall, he'd be able to land on something other than the hard ground.
He watched as Petrie suddenly began to dive his way down against his own will, and the Longneck skidded to a stop and waited for him to come down.
"Oof!" cried Petrie as he felt himself crash-landing onto something that he soon realized was Littlefoot's back.
"I suppose today's not the day to be out flying, huh?" commented Littlefoot.
A dazzled Petrie moaned in pain and shook his head to fight off the dizziness and regain his full senses, and he despondently climbed his way up Littlefoot's neck and sat on top of his head.
"Me guess not," he sighed, "It … so … hot."
"The Great Valley looks so … different today," said Littlefoot as he gazed at their surroundings, "Everything looks … almost dead, … and it feels hotter than we've ever experienced."
"Me doubt that," said Petrie, "Me sure we be in hotter places before."
"Are you sure I'm just in some sleep story?" pondered Littlefoot.
Petrie shut his eyes tight for a moment, gritting his teeth, before reopening them, "Nope. This no sleep story."
Littlefoot sighed in disappointment, "Then, how could this be happening?"
"Maybe Bright Circle get angry at us," suggested Petrie.
"I … wouldn't say that," Littlefoot disagreed.
"That all me can think of. Me not as bright as you are," sighed a downcast Petrie.
Littlefoot glanced up at the little Flyer perched on his head with a sarcastic glare.
"Petrie. Don't ever think that you're not as smart as you truly are. It's part of being a kid," he told him, "Let's go find the others."
Petrie's reply was nothing more than a sigh, and he tried to make himself comfortable on Littlefoot's head while the Longneck continued his way through the valley, determined to find some breakfast that hopefully wouldn't turn to little disgusting pieces in their mouths.
"So, Petrie, did you find any place where there might be some good food?" asked Littlefoot.
Petrie thought back to the tiresome flight he had endured a moment ago, and soon he recalled one place where he had noticed lots of good-looking green food.
"Me think there plenty of food near Thundering Falls," he answered, "Me just hope everyone not already there."
"Well then, let's find the others and we can all go to the Thundering Falls!" said Littlefoot excitedly as he ran as fast as he could to find whomever they might bump into, with Petrie barely managing to stay on his head as the Longneck's speed nearly blew him off.
"Please not so fast!" shouted Petrie.
Littlefoot was nearly too excited to listen, but he did slow down a little so that the Flyer could catch his breath. On a morning like this, he'd do anything to find that green food no matter what it took.
Once the two had made it out of the forest, they sighed in relief at the sight of the Thundering Falls still roaring with all its pride, and green food was all over the place. It seemed like its own haven within something that should have been a haven if not for all the heat.
"It feel just like sweet home," sighed Petrie happily.
"I don't see the others, though," pondered Littlefoot as he noticed nobody else in their presence.
"Me guess they not here yet," shrugged Petrie.
"Petrie, do you think you could fly around the valley and find out where our friends are?" asked Littlefoot.
Petrie gave him a sarcastic glare and rolled his eyes.
"You know it too hot for me to fly," he pouted.
Littlefoot wouldn't give up that easily, though. As he looked down at the river, he knew just what the solution would be.
"Then why don't you take a nice drink to cool off, and then you can fly?" he offered.
"Me much rather drink all day," commented Petrie as he slid his way down the Longneck's body from neck to tail before he landed on his feet and brought his beak down into the soothing, cold water. He instantaneously felt a pleasurable sensation as the water cooled his beak, both inside and out. He brought his head back up and licked his own beak to keep it cool before ducking back down for another sip.
Littlefoot brought his forelimbs up against a tree that was short enough for him to reach, and he reached up with his neck to grab a few green tree stars, pulling them off with his teeth.
"You've got good eyes, Petrie," he chuckled.
Petrie blushed at the comment as he kept drinking from the river. Even receiving such praise from his dearest friends tended to overwhelm and embarrass him from time to time.
The Longneck gazed at the five tree stars he had collected, and he took a bite out of one of them and could tell right away that these were still good to eat.
"Mmm. Very good," he said once he had swallowed his bite, "Petrie, come try one of these!"
The Flyer brought his head back up and glanced at the gathered tree stars. He eyed them for a moment as if he was looking for anything suspicious, but he found nothing of interest and soon took a bite for himself.
"Hmm. Not too bad," he said in satisfaction as he ate, "Still, no compare to tree sweets, though."
Littlefoot simply shrugged and kept eating the tree star he had started on. The two just sat there and ate silently until they had finished their tree stars.
"So, Petrie, now are you ready to fly again?" asked Littlefoot with a smirk.
Petrie smirked back as if he was getting ready to make a retort or complain about something else, but eventually he let out a small laugh and lifted himself back into the sky.
"Me be right back with our friends!" he called before he flew back into the forest.
"Okay, Petrie! See you soon!" Littlefoot replied, and once the Flyer was gone, he went back to the smaller trees and started picking off tree stars to gather for his friends.
He wanted to treat … most of them … to a nice surprise breakfast, and he knew that tree stars would always be part of the meal. He had a very special kind of breakfast in mind, and it was one he hoped they would never forget.
"Now for some tree sweets," he said to himself as he looked around, trying to spot any, "If there are any around here."
He did manage to spot some red sweets on a couple of trees, and he tried swinging them to get them to fall off, but they wouldn't budge.
"I suppose I shouldn't have sent Petrie out too early," he sighed sadly, "I don't mind waiting, though. It'll still be a nice surprise."
He didn't have to wait long before Petrie made his way back, along with Cera and Spike, who was carrying Ducky on his back.
"Petrie! Over here!" he called.
The Flyer promptly flew his way over to the tree Littlefoot was trying to take the sweets from, and the Longneck didn't even need to tell Petrie what he wanted. He knew immediately as if he could read his friend's instincts.
He grasped the top of each sweet with his feet and pulled them off the branches, lowering them in front of Littlefoot so that they would fall gently rather than break apart upon hitting the ground. He kept doing this until ten sweets had been gathered along with the tree stars the Longneck had gathered.
"Hi, Littlefoot!" said Ducky rather cheerfully despite it being so blazing hot.
"You'd better have a reason for dragging us over here when it's this hot," sighed Cera tiredly, "Every step to get here was a pain for my aching legs."
"Would you really think it's too hot for a nice … breakfast!?" announced Littlefoot dramatically, and he swung his tail out of the way to reveal five tree stars with two sweets on top of each one.
"Wow!" gasped Ducky as Spike gasped in amazement along with her, "Littlefoot, those look so delicious! Yep, yep, yep!"
"There's one for everybody, too, so we can all enjoy one!" added Littlefoot proudly.
"Yay!" cheered Ducky.
"Yippee!" said Petrie.
"Oooo-kay," said Cera with a strange chuckle, feeling rather surprised by this breakfast, "Food's been such a hard thing to come by this morning."
"Cera dad ranting about food again like usual?" snickered Petrie mischievously.
"He asked every neighbor for food and nobody had anything to offer, so he went off on one of his rants again," sighed Cera, "Not even Tria could calm him down."
"At least it is not as bad as when the falls stopped-ed," shrugged Ducky, trying to add some form of relief to their situation, "There is still plenty of water. There is, there is."
"Try telling that to my dad," huffed Cera.
Nobody bothered to respond to that statement, and they started eating their breakfast.
"So, why has everything suddenly changed-ed?" asked Ducky.
"Yeah. It never this hot and dry before," added Petrie.
"I honestly don't know," replied Littlefoot, "I don't know if anyone does."
"I, for one, know that Mr. Thicknose doesn't know!" teased Cera, but no one paid attention.
"So, … if we don't know, … then … what are we going to do?" asked Ducky.
"I guess we'll just have to make do with it," sighed Littlefoot.
"I may have to swim in very warm water," lamented Ducky, "I do not like it when it is too warm. No, no, no."
"Me have a hard time flying," complained Petrie, "Me will fall from sky almost every time me try to fly."
"I'll have to listen to my dad rant about everything and become an overcontrolling neighbor," said Cera.
"At least he's not here to stop us from having a drink to go with our breakfast," smirked Littlefoot.
His friends all smirked back and promptly made their way to the river after finishing their breakfast and started taking sips of water. With the Thundering Falls still roaring as proudly as they ever did, the water was still nice and cold, perfect for a morning drink.
"This is so refreshing, I could jump in and relax all day! Yep, yep, yep!" said Ducky cheerfully, and before anyone could stop her, she jumped into the cool water and brought her head back up, letting the water soothe her up to her neck, "I love it! I do, I do!"
"Enjoy it while it lasts," sighed Cera.
Suddenly, they heard footsteps slowly approaching from the trees, and they could tell it could only have been a group of grownups presumably intending to have breakfast here.
"Which probably won't be long at all," Cera quickly added.
"Me think we should … go," said Petrie nervously, and he quickly shot up into the sky and disappeared above the forest.
"Hey! Wait for me!" said Ducky as she got out of the water and ran into the forest, followed closely by Spike, Littlefoot and Cera.
The kids left just before they could be sighted by any of the adults arriving to their only hope for breakfast.
The five kids all wandered around the Great Valley, unsure of what to do next. It was still blazing hot, and many of the trees and flowers looked helplessly dry. It certainly didn't feel like the Great Valley, but they had to face the harsh reality that it was, and it was just not the same.
"Talk about it being completely opposite from Days of Rising Waters. Me probably prefer that over this," said Petrie.
"Despite your bad luck in the Days of Rising Waters?" remarked Cera.
Petrie glared at the Threehorn and soon turned away from her.
"At least it would be much cooler than this," said Ducky, "It would be so much more fun. It would, it would."
"What 'fun' is there on a day like this?" complained Cera.
Littlefoot looked up at a few good-looking tree stars and pulled them off a tree branch.
"Maybe we could play 'Catch the Tree Star'," he suggested.
"And let them crumble to pieces when we catch them? They're too dry," protested Cera.
"These look okay," said Littlefoot, looking down at the ones he had just collected.
"Hpmh! For now!" the Threehorn retorted.
"Me think we at least give it a try," said Petrie reassuringly.
"Let's! Yes, yes, yes!" agreed Ducky excitedly.
"Okay!" said Littlefoot, and he grabbed the tree star with his teeth and tossed it into the sky.
Ducky, Petrie and Spike all went off to chase it, but Cera stayed where she was, unconvinced that this game would last very long on a day so hot and dry, … and not very windy, apparently.
Petrie tried to grasp the tree star with his feet, but it started falling just before he could reach it. Ducky tried to jump for it, but she ran a little too far before doing so, and she narrowly missed. Spike caught it with his mouth and happily ate it.
"Spike!" Ducky and Petrie complained, glaring at the Spiketail.
Spike simply smiled sheepishly and turned his attention to a nearby group of dying tall grass, while Ducky and Petrie could only walk despondently back to fetch another tree star.
"Well, did you get it?" asked Littlefoot.
"Spike ate-ed it," sighed Ducky.
"We no get tree star," said Petrie, shaking his head.
"Okay, how about this one?" offered Littlefoot, tossing them another tree star in the sky.
The Swimmer and Flyer once again started chasing their new tree star, but again they missed as it didn't travel very far due to the lack of wind and ended up landing in the river nearby.
"I guess I will have to swim in that warm water," said Ducky, "I do not like this. No, no, no."
"You good Swimmer, Ducky. You swim in any water," said Petrie in an attempt to reassure her.
"Except for rapids," Ducky pointed out as she dived in and swam up to the floating tree star.
Petrie watched with a sigh as his best friend reached for the tree star and brought it back to the riverbank before climbing back onto dry land.
"I wish we could play in the water," she sighed sadly.
"Me no like getting me wings wet," replied Petrie.
"Then I wish there was a way we could play in the water and not get so wet," added Ducky, giving Petrie a playful look of sarcasm.
"Me wish there be wind to help me fly," said Petrie.
Hearing those words suddenly gave Ducky a brilliant idea …
"That is it!" she said, "Maybe with just a little bit of wind, we can fly and swim!"
"Oh, me not doing that again!" whimpered Petrie, remembering that one time they went vine-swinging.
"No, Petrie. We just need a few big tree stars that can float!" said Ducky, "We are little, and with tree stars that are big enough, we can float across the water and maybe fly over it with enough wind! Yes, yes, yes!"
"But there be no wind today," said Petrie, shaking his head.
"How about if you fly and check if there will be any wind?" asked Ducky.
"Well, … okay," said Petrie doubtfully, and he hesitantly lifted himself into the sky and flew around for any signs of even the slightest breeze.
Once he got high enough to see the canopies of the forests, he felt only the faintest whisper of wind blow at him, which he was sure would not be enough for whatever Ducky had in mind. Gradually, though, the tops of the trees began to move a little bit, up until the closest ones to him started gently swing around.
"Me think there be little wind," he called down to Ducky.
"Okay!" responded Ducky, giving a thumbs up, and she rushed inside some trees and came back out a moment later with two big tree stars that appeared to be in good condition unlike all the others they had seen, and four sticks.
"Whoa!" gasped Petrie, surprised by how big the tree stars were on such a day like this, "So, … what we do with those?"
"You will see!" said Ducky with a wink, and she gave Petrie one of the tree stars and kept the other one for herself.
Petrie watched as the Swimmer ran up a tiny rock slope that stretched just over the river, and she jumped, placing her feet on the tree star while holding it with both hands. She landed with a splash, and Petrie was astonished to see her standing up straight on her floating tree star with her arms stretching outward to balance herself. He was utterly astonished by what he was witnessing.
"With just a little wind, we can travel down the river on these tree stars!" chuckled Ducky.
"But … there not much wind today," shrugged Petrie.
"We should try it on faster waters," suggested Ducky.
Petrie gulped at those words, but as Ducky kicked against the water with one foot and guided her tree star back to land, she winked at the Flyer in reassurance.
"Do not worry, Petrie. It will be easy. It will, it will! Yep, yep, yep!"
Petrie didn't have time to think of a response before Ducky grabbed his hand and started running back towards the Thundering Falls, pulling him with her.
"Hey, what are you guys up to now?" asked Littlefoot curiously.
"You will see!" giggled Ducky as she and a reluctant Petrie ran back through the trees.
"Probably up to their own shenanigans that only two-footers can do," sighed Cera.
"Don't be jealous, Cera," said Littlefoot, "We four-footers have our own ways of having fun, too, you know."
"I don't think I need to be taught that lesson again," huffed Cera, remembering her own experiences with trying to play a two-footer-only game.
Ducky and Petrie made their way back to the Thundering Falls and hid themselves behind some large rocks. From where they stood, they could easily jump their way into the rushing waters with their tree stars while surprising everyone who was relaxing or taking a morning drink.
Ducky took two sticks and wrapped two points of her tree star around each of them tightly, and she did the same to Petrie's tree star with the other two sticks before handing it back to him.
Petrie was still nervous about Ducky's idea, but the Swimmer was beyond excited. She couldn't wait to see what was possible once they made their jump into those fast waters.
"You sure this safe, Ducky?" asked Petrie.
"As long as we are careful, we should be just fine, Petrie," chuckled Ducky, "This will be so much fun! You will see! Yep, yep, yep!"
"Umm, … okay," gulped Petrie.
"Here," said Ducky, and she lifted Petrie by his shoulders, "Go ahead and put your tree star under your feet and hold onto it, and I will let you slide down."
Gulping with dread, Petrie did as he was told, setting his two feet standing on his tree star and holding onto the front and back of it with his hands.
"And I will be right behind you!" giggled Ducky, and she let her best Flyer friend down the smooth, rocky slide that led straight down into the water right behind the giant waterfall.
Petrie jolted, closed his eyes and held on tightly to his tree star for dear life as he slid down the tunnel and landed right on the water. He didn't open his eyes until he sped right through the Thundering Falls that soaked him from head to toe, wingtip to wingtip, and felt himself gently floating on the water. He gasped as he found himself being carried by the water straight towards the group of adults that he and his friends had so narrowly avoided a short while ago.
"Now let go and stretch your arms out like this!" chuckled Ducky, stretching her arms for balance while standing on her tree star with her own two feet.
Petrie cautiously lifted his wings up and let go of the tree star, and he stretched them out as wide as he could, with one arm pointing straight towards the direction they were travelling, and the other pointing back. He slowly started to gain speed as he tried to maintain his balance.
"Okay," he chuckled nervously.
"Now, let's go!" cheered Ducky, and she slightly lifted her front foot and sped slightly ahead of Petrie.
The Flyer did the same thing with his front foot, and he managed to keep up with her. Their tree stars left sprays of water trailing behind them, so the Flyer tried not to get directly behind the Swimmer so that he wouldn't get water sprayed all over him.
Before long, he found this to be rather … enjoyable. The water was nice and cool, and it ran gently through the valley, creating a spraying breeze around them.
Soon, they caught the attention of the grownups and some of their children drinking from the river. The kids were all astonished by what they were seeing. The adults didn't know what to make of it.
"Wow! Look at them go!" gasped a young Longneck.
"What are those things they're on?" said a Swimmer.
"Oh, they're just tree stars with sticks in them," sighed an old Threehorn.
"I think they're amazing!" the Threehorn's daughter replied.
Ducky and Petrie chuckled at the kids watching them, and they soon slid into the forest side-by-side, steering down the river by twisting their hips to turn left or right whenever the river curved. They occasionally sprayed each other with water when one got directly in front of the other, but each laughed it off.
Soon, they found themselves back where they had been a few minutes prior, and they saw Littlefoot, Cera and Spike watching them.
"Hey! Look at us!" called Ducky cheerfully, waving to their friends.
"Wee, hoo!" yelled Petrie excitedly.
"Whoa! Look at Ducky and Petrie!" gasped Littlefoot.
"Oh, great. Another one of Ducky's water games," said a disinterested Cera.
Spike watched in amazement as his sister and Flyer friend slid down the river, and soon the two were just about gone.
"Let's follow them!" said Littlefoot, and he and Spike ran down the riverbank to catch up to their friends, followed soon after by a reluctant Cera, not wanting to be left alone.
The Swimmer and Flyer were going at it with their new game. It reminded them of when Ducky had invented her log-running game, and Petrie didn't know which was more fun. They slid forwards and sideways, jumped over large rocks and occasionally sprayed each other with their water trails. The wind slowly sped them up as they journeyed down the river, smirking at each other as if they were eager to race each other to the end of the river.
"Wee!" whistled Petrie.
"This is fun! Yep, yep, yep!" chortled Ducky.
"Me get hang of it so quickly!" chuckled Petrie, "Me could do this all day!"
"Me, too!" agreed Ducky.
Then, they looked ahead and noticed the river splitting into two different directions as it went into a forest containing the largest trees in the Great Valley. They smirked at each other as they pondered just what they would do next …
"I will take one way and you will take the other," giggled Ducky.
"Me meet you on other side!" replied Petrie, and the Flyer took the left path while Ducky turned to the right.
They waved at each other before going their separate ways, each eager to know what was on the other's path once they met up again.
Ducky found herself skidding past green floating pads with tiny animals that watched her with curiosity, and she playfully waved at them as she floated past. There were several rocks sticking up from the water, sloping towards the direction the water was traveling. Ducky slid on those whenever she could so she could try jumping off them and landing back in the water with a splash, keeping her feet on her tree star whenever she landed.
"Wee, haa!" she whistled on one of her jumps in excitement, "Splishy, splashy! I could do this all the time! Yep, yep, yep!"
Meanwhile, Petrie was deep in the forest, sliding down a very narrow river path that kept turning to the left and right. There never seemed to be a straight line anywhere, and it nearly made him dizzy, but he kept adjusting his feet to turn his tree star to the left or right whenever there was a curve in the water flow.
"Me think me much rather go other way next time we do this," he said to himself.
After one final right-hand corner, he saw the other portion of river meeting back up with the one he was on, and soon he noticed Ducky coming out the other way and rejoining him.
"Hello again!" giggled Ducky, "So, what do you see on your path?"
"It so dizzying and me see just trees," answered Petrie.
"I saw lots of rocks to jump on and plenty of open grass," said Ducky.
"Me think me much rather go that way next time," commented Petrie.
"Hey!" a voice called out.
The two friends looked and noticed Littlefoot appearing to be rather frantic.
"Hi, Littlefoot! How did you catch up to us so quickly!?" called Ducky.
"I took a shortcut," answered Littlefoot, "Listen! You gotta get off that river now! There're fast waters ahead that lead straight to some falls! It'll be too dangerous to keep going from here!"
"Hehe! You sure about that?" chuckled Petrie dismissively, "Me having too much fun!"
"Guys, I'm serious! You've gotta get off that river right now!" warned Littlefoot.
"We will get off when we …"
Suddenly, they looked ahead and noticed that the river seemed to suddenly point towards sky, but they knew that sign meant that there could only be a sudden downhill slope just ahead. They gasped in horror as they realized just how much danger they may had just put themselves in with their foolish mistake …
"… have … had … enough fun," Ducky slowly finished her sentence as she registered their newfound sense of trouble just ahead, knowing it was too late to turn back with the wind carrying them forward and the water rushing faster than before.
"Um, … m-me think me … have enough …" Petrie began, and before he could say anymore, they reached the top of the slope and started their way down the rapids, desperately keeping their feet on their out-of-control tree stars and holding on the points with their hands.
"WHOA!" they yelled in panic.
Littlefoot could only watch as his two friends slid helplessly down the river, and without thinking twice, he ran off to find as much help as he could get. He knew time was short, and any moment they could reach that giant waterfall that Cera so nearly fell from after her idiotic attempt at log-running.
Ducky and Petrie slid down the twisting turns of the merciless rapids running through the valley. Their hearts were ready to jump out of their chests as they tried to keep calm and brace everything that came at them. For Ducky, it was one thing to be able to travel down this river with a log and a stick, but a tree star wrapped around two sticks and nothing to row with was something entirely different. They had no control of their ride, they couldn't slow down, and it became a challenge to stay on their tree stars and remain afloat.
"I think we should … do this … on a different river in the future," panicked Ducky.
"You can say that again!" replied Petrie, giving his friend a strange look.
Ducky knew the expression Petrie was showing her. He seemed to be directing some of his anger at her for coming up with this idea and inadvertently putting them in danger by choosing this river to try it out.
"Petrie, I am sorry, okay!?" she panted, "I did not know!"
Petrie was silent for a moment as they sped down another tight bend before he eventually replied, "Me know you no mean to do this, Ducky! Me forgive you, but right now me think we need to … DO … SOMETHING!"
The water ran faster, and the two lost their balance and fell to their knees, keeping their hands on the front of their tree stars. They pulled on the fronts to try and slow down their little rafts, but it was no use. They were completely out of their control, and it seemed that nothing could be done to regain control.
They frantically looked around to see if anyone was nearby to help them, but they saw nobody on land or up in the sky. It seemed that they would get no help and they would be doomed to plummet down that waterfall that was surely only a short distance away. They quivered as they feared for their very lives.
After one last slight left-hand bend, they looked ahead and gasped with horror …
The water seemed to come to a dead end with nothing but sky ahead, but fog seemed to be emitting from below. However, they knew exactly what this was …
"This is it!" cried Ducky.
"We goners! We done for!" wailed Petrie.
Ducky's tree star brushed against Petrie's, and the two held hands and rubbed their cheeks together, preparing to meet their demise together.
"I am so sorry!" sniffled Ducky tearfully.
"Me forgive you!" Petrie repeated.
"I guess … we are going down together!"
"We going to Great Beyond together!"
They shut their eyes tight and held on as they heard the waterfall getting louder and louder, and they felt water spraying lightly on them, indicating that the end was very near. In just mere seconds, they would fall hundreds of feet into the waters below, never to see the light of day again. They took one last deep breath and prepared for the end.
Suddenly, they heard a Flyer's screech from above, and before they could even ponder anymore thoughts, they felt themselves being picked up by their backs by what just had to be Flyer talons. After a few panicky seconds, they opened their eyes and found themselves flying over the valley, and once they looked up, a familiar face awaited them …
"I gotcha, kids!"
"Mama!" Petrie screeched in delight.
"Oh, Petrie's mommy! We are so happy to see you!" cried Ducky joyously.
"Hang on tight, kids!" said Mama Flyer as she soared over the valley, one of her talons carrying her son and the other carrying Ducky, looking for a safe place to land so the kids could catch their breaths.
"How did you find us so quickly?" asked Ducky.
"Littlefoot came to tell me you two were in trouble, so I wasted no time trying to find you," answered Mama Flyer, "We'll save the explaining for when we land."
Ducky and Petrie looked at each other nervously. They knew they would be in for quite a scolding once this flight was over.
Soon, the cerulean Flyer made her way back into the quiet area of the valley where both families lived just across the water from each other, and she gently made her way towards the ground. She slowly loosened her grip on the kids to allow them to gently land on their feet, still holding their tree stars, before touching down herself.
The two kids glanced at each other, trying to maintain their composure as they prepared to face their scolding. All they could do was brace for it.
"You two really have a knack for leaving us worried about you all the time," said Mama Flyer as her voice slowly began to grow stern, "Just what were you thinking, though, when you decided to go down that river with those, … uh, … tree stars?"
Mama Flyer cast an awkward glance at the tree stars the children had in their hands, and the sticks they wrapped around. For her, they seemed rather … unusual.
"Ms. Flyer …," Ducky began after taking a deep breath to prepare herself, "… this is my fault."
Petrie wrapped an arm around the Swimmer's back to show his deep care and support for his dearest friend. His mother sighed and silently nodded, gesturing for an explanation.
"Well, Ducky, go on. I'm listening."
Ducky gulped as she began her version of the events that had just taken place …
"Well, … we were all getting bored-ed because it was dry and hot. We had tried-ed to play 'Catch the Tree Star,' but it was no use. No, no, no. So, then, … after seeing a tree star floating in the river, I … got this idea of how Petrie and I could have fun."
Petrie nodded, "We get these tree stars, wrap two sticks around them, and go to Thundering Falls. Then we go into water and slide our way down, standing on floating tree stars."
"But, … I did not know … that … that river led-ed to … that waterfall that Cera almost falled down," gulped Ducky, "I was so careless. I was, I was."
"Ducky, I've warned you many times to not go in that part of the river."
That wasn't Mama Flyer's voice, and Ducky instantly gulped and quivered as she recognized that voice as the one belonging to her own mother. She turned and just so happened to notice her mother standing just a few feet away, with Littlefoot next to her. It seemed obvious that the Longneck must have told her what had happened as well. Ducky sighed sadly and turned her eyes back to Petrie, who was still hugging her around the back. Cera and Spike were not far behind.
"Thank goodness you're safe!" said Littlefoot, "Are you two alright?"
Ducky didn't answer out of shame, so Petrie nodded for her.
"As much as that may have sounded like fun, you must remember: that river is dangerous once you go too far down," said Mama Flyer.
"The fast waters are no place to be playing those kinds of games," agreed Mama Swimmer, "There are places where it is safe to play, and there are places where it is not. Have you not learned that lesson after what happened at the Sinking Sand a long time ago?"
The five kids all blushed sheepishly at the mention of that incident that had never been able to escape their worst memories.
"I would be okay with you trying to play that game again, but only if you find somewhere that's safe," said Mama Swimmer.
Ducky tearfully looked up at her mother, then at Petrie's mother, and back to her own. Petrie continued to console her by keeping a wing wrapped warmly around her back.
"We are so sorry," she sobbed, "We did not know we were in dangerous waters. No, no, no."
"No," agreed Petrie, shaking his head, "We really, … really sorry."
"Listen, kids, we love you very much and we want you to be safe. All this wandering into dangerous places on a regular basis has got to stop. We've told you time and time again, but apparently that lesson has been the most difficult one for you to remember," said Mama Flyer.
"We want you to be able to look out for yourselves and each other once you're in your Time of Great Growing," added Mama Swimmer, "This is not the way to be doing that. You put yourselves in danger today, and at the same time, you put each other in danger."
Ducky and Petrie looked shamefully at each other and stared down at the grass, sharing the guilt they felt for once again almost getting themselves killed by some stupid game they had come up with.
"G-guys, please don't feel bad. There's still a lot we can do on a day like this," said Littlefoot optimistically.
"Littlefoot, … I'm gonna have to ask you and Cera to run along and have some fun on your own for a while," said Mama Swimmer, "Ms. Flyer and I need to teach Ducky and Petrie a lesson."
Littlefoot was stunned. Were they really going to isolate his Swimmer and Flyer friends for the rest of the day? It didn't seem fair to him despite their near-death experience.
"Serves them right if you ask me," sighed Cera.
Littlefoot glared at the Threehorn, but she had already turned around and begun to walk away.
"Well, guys, … I guess I'll see you tomorrow then," he said solemnly, before he reluctantly turned and left his friends to face whatever punishment might be coming to them.
"Spike, would you like to go join Littlefoot and Cera?" offered Mama Swimmer.
The Spiketail looked cluelessly at his companions for a moment before he eventually turned his attention not towards Littlefoot and Cera, but rather towards some grass.
"I guess not," sighed Mama Swimmer.
"Um, … w-what lesson you tr-trying to t-teach us now?" stammered Petrie.
Mama Swimmer glanced at Mama Flyer and gave her a wink.
"If you don't mind, Ms. Flyer, I'll take it from here," she offered.
"Alright then," nodded Mama Flyer, "I'll see you two kids later."
With that, the cerulean Flyer lifted off into the sky and flew away, leaving the two kids rather puzzled.
"Kids?" said Mama Swimmer calmly, and the duo nervously eyed her, "I know this nice, little pond not far from here. It's very quiet there, there's plenty of space, and there're a few nice ways to jump or slide in with those … tree stars."
Ducky and Petrie were very surprised to hear that. They could only wonder just what the elder Swimmer was trying to tell them.
"W-what do you mean, Mama?" asked Ducky.
"Let's just say that I'm … curious," she said, and she pointed at the kids' tree stars with their sticks still wrapped underneath them, "Just … I can't help but wonder what you were up to with those."
"Well, … um …" fidgeted Petrie.
"Follow me, kids. The little pond is right this way," instructed Mama Swimmer, and she walked over some tall grass, prompting the kids to follow her.
As they brushed through the grass, they were left with so many unanswered questions about Mama Swimmer's mindset. Normally, they would have expected her to punish them after something like this, but something else was apparently on her mind if curiosity had gotten the best of her, which itself was a very rare thing to happen.
Eventually, they moved the last few pieces of grass out of the way, and they gasped at what lied right in front of them …
It was a decent-sized pond with grass and a few rocks sticking up from under the water. The water was glistening beautifully under the light of the Bright Circle, and a tiny, narrow waterfall provided some peaceful ambience. A very narrow stream seemed to branch off from the pond through the tall grass that seemingly forested it.
It was very small compared to the Thundering Falls, but its sheer beauty made up for it gorgeously.
"Sometimes, I like to come here to refresh my thoughts just by listening to the sound of gentle waters," explained Mama Swimmer, "Think of it being much like Tria's mud pool, only it's much more refreshing for a little Swimmer and Flyer like you to relax in."
She laughed a little at her own last few words, and Ducky and Petrie blushed sheepishly at the way she referred to them.
"Well, kids, go ahead. Show me what you two were up to," winked Mama Swimmer.
The two kids hesitated for a moment, staring at each other in awe. They still couldn't comprehend why she was letting them get right back into playing that game that so nearly got them killed. Perhaps because here they would get to do it in a much safer place? That seemed to make the most sense to them.
Eventually, they shrugged their shoulders and made their way up to the top of the hill and gently set their tree stars down on the water. Ducky was once again the first to jump onto her little pad before Petrie cautiously hopped onto his.
"Well, here go nothing," said Petrie nervously.
"At least my mama is letting us have some fun. Yep, yep, yep," said Ducky modestly, and she let the water carry her down the small waterfall, followed closely by Petrie.
The two landed on the pond still standing on their tree stars and floating around the place much slower than they had done at the Thundering Falls. They were floating just fast enough to slide up some rocks to do some funny jumps over the water, and with very little wind in the area, they sometimes ended up stuck right in the middle of the pond and would have to help each other get out of the water and walk back up the hill for another splashy jump.
Mama Swimmer was quite astounded by her daughter's creativity. It reminded her of when Ducky told her about the log-running game she had created and Cera making a complete fool of herself. This time, it seemed as if Ducky and Petrie so nearly made fools out of themselves, but now they had very clearly gotten the hang of this fun game that Ducky had so cleverly come up with.
"You amaze me every time, dear," she commented to her daughter.
Ducky cheerfully laughed at her mother's compliment, and she and Petrie took one more jump and aimed for the narrow river that ran through the tall grass.
Mama Swimmer instinctively stood up and slowly followed them, not wanting to lose sight of those adventurous kids.
"Sometimes, they seem to be adventurous troublemakers," she chuckled to herself in amusement.
Ducky and Petrie found themselves on another fun water ride. The creek carried them gently through the areas of tall grass, and they occasionally spotted green floating pads with strange creatures watching them with curiosity. They looked at each other and smiled as they thought of what they had just been through; from waking up to a boring, dry, hot morning with seemingly all the green food going bad, to suddenly coming up with another fun game that so nearly led to their deaths but still managing to find another way to enjoy it. Sometimes, even the hottest days could bring many surprises.
Eventually, they noticed their path seemingly ending up ahead, but then they noticed the river was branching into two different directions, and they realized this was the same river that flowed right through the area they called home; the same river that was the only thing that stood between their nests.
"Wee!" whistled Petrie.
"Woohoo!" cheered Ducky, "This suddenly feels like my new favorite game! Yep, yep, yep!"
"Still no compare to being high in the sky," admitted Petrie.
"But for a water game, this is so much fun!" laughed Ducky.
"Hehe! Me guess you right!" agreed Petrie.
"Too much fun for your own good!" teased Mama Swimmer, having tracked them down.
"Oh, Mama!" blushed Ducky, while Petrie simply laughed.
"And you're still the only ones having fun!" came Cera's grouchy voice just as the Swimmer and Flyer spotted her, along with Littlefoot and Spike, "What we might as well call 'the Hot Time' just doesn't suit me. It is the most boring time of the season."
"But think about it, Cera. When you find something really fun like Petrie and I did-ed, you will not want to stop having fun! Nope, nope, nope!" said Ducky.
"Speak for yourself," grunted Cera.
"Come on, Cera. I think you just haven't found what's fun for you just yet," commented Littlefoot.
"Ya think!?" said Cera sarcastically.
"This most water fun me ever have, even though me Flyer," said Petrie, "There always ways to, … well, … find fun for everybody!"
Cera lied down against the ground and stared glumly at her reflection in the river, "Whatever."
The other kids laughed at her despondent attitude, and Ducky and Petrie began to gently splash each other while still standing on their floating tree stars. Mama Swimmer brought herself into the fun by splashing them both by surprise, and they splashed her back. Littlefoot and Spike laughed as they watched, while Cera simply paid no attention and kept sulking at how boring the dry time was.
"Some things will never change …"
First, let me just point out that I originally did NOT intend for this to be yet another "Ducky and Petrie" story. It was initially going to feature everyone doing something, but this just randomly ended up being the case. Forgive me, but those are the two I find the most easy to write about, maybe because I understand those characters better than anyone else, including Littlefoot. It just continues to spread like wildfire in my mind.
Now, I mentioned earlier that I ran into a couple of mishaps right in the middle of writing this story. Unfortunately, there may still be a few lingering ones. My old laptop (which I had been writing my fanfictions on) suffered a wi-fi card failure, which means that its internet days are over (since I'm not going to be looking for some long ethernet cable), so I had to copy all my stuff over to my newer laptop, which is having some minor problems with not being able to power off on its own when I ask it to. I'm constantly having to do hard shutdowns, and I'm starting to get sick of laptops in general. It's time for me to start using desktops again. I'm gonna have my little brother investigate the problem to see what the culprit of all this is.
As a result of all this, I am considering taking an indefinite hiatus from fanfiction writing, so I may not be back in this section of the forum again until some point in early 2020. So, this will likely be my last LBT story of 2019. That doesn't mean I'll be gone, though. I'll stay active on other parts of the forum whenever I can, and I'll definitely be back for the Fanfiction Awards once those pop up next month!
Overall, this year wasn't quite as memorable as last year in terms of my fanfictions, but it was another good year on the forum for me. I particularly enjoyed joining the fandub as the voice of Petrie, and if we ever end up doing the sequels, I'd be delighted in reprising the part with my squeaky Petrie voice!
Anyways, have a good day, everyone, and I'll see you later!