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Patrick

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Anyone feel free to continue this story from where I've left off. I had an idea for an ending, but couldn't see how to get there. No, I won't reveal the ending I had in mind and this thing doesn't have to move that way. Feel free to add any length to it. I'm just curious to see where this'll go. :)

 

Once upon a time, in a kingdom very far away from all that we know lived a young boy named Tug. Tug, a lively boy of unkempt black hair and matching black eyes was the youngest of a family of five sons and five daughters. His father, a beast of a man, over six feet and two hundred pounds had been a lumberjack for the bulk of his life and only when his hands had grown weak and his knees feeble and his sight deserted him had he finally hung up his axe and given himself over to his second passion in life: dice. Tug's mother, by contrast, was a frail creature, several heads smaller than her husband and looked as though a stronger wind could snap her in two.

 

Our story starts in the twelth year of Tug's life on a fateful day when his father's usual luck with dice deserted him and he found himself in the debt of some very unpleasant men. This specific day Tug had spent in the woods with Spot, the family's faithful greyhound, who showed the signs of age as much as Tug's father did. Spot had been a faithful companion to the whole family for many years and in his old age no longer had to work, he just savoured the pleasures of life.

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It was Spot's pursuit of a his pleasures that begins the meat of our tale. Or perhaps the salad serving before the meat. The place setting? clears throat and wrenches mind back on track.

 

Whether it was the trail of an old enemy, such as the fox Spot had never quite caught, or a bitch in heat giving him a Viagraic jolt, Tug was to never know. One moment they were ambling along, heading to their favorite sunning spot in the meadow on the far side of the corpse of dark fir pines, and then next Spot was going much faster than was wise for his age, belling loudly his cry, and Tug was left to try to follow.

 

Being a wise child, Tug like his forebearers had planned to live, grow, marry, and die within seven miles of his place of birth, rather like the deer which fed on the meadow's morning dewy grasses, but the pursuit of Spot took him beyond his comfort and into the beginning of Adventure.

 

For such was the way that these sorts of Things happened, willy-nilly and rarely prepared with packs and spiky irons and three meter poles for traps and such sorts of gear, but rather pursuit of a feckless hound to avoid the homecoming hiding with the leather strop his father used to deal out justice.

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Spot, shutting everything out from his mind but the irresistible call he sensed, kept running at an amazing speed for his age (which did not mean at all a great speed). He seemed to ignore the tangles and pebbles on the forest ground, tangles and pebbles that insisted to not ignore Tug's feet.

 

Thanks to the forest ground, Tug had a hard time trying to catch up with Spot, always a few steps ahead of him; true, had he not been such a sweet boy, he would have thought of grabbing Spot's wagging tail, which was always just an arm's reach from his nose. But as it was, tugging tails was never on Tug's mind, and so he followed.

 

Spot disappeared into some bushes, with Tug trailing soon afterwards. Tug's eyes rounded when he realized the bushes just hid the entrance of a cave, and for a moment he thought he heard a deep rumbling coming from further ahead. Spot, though, just kept going... and disappeared.

 

Tug tried to stop. He did try hard to stop and breathe and shout for Spot, but he could not. When Spot disappeared, he was just two steps behind him, and so he also stepped on the slippery floor... and fell hard on his back, sliding the rest of the way down.

 

He could hear Spot's whimper a bit ahead, and wondered if his dog was also on his back with all limbs flailing on the air. Which Spot actually had.

 

 

There was some rustling sounds, and a most unusual sound reached both Spot and Tug's ears.

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They had not expected to hear a baby crying. The sound was quickly followed by a canine yelp, as Tug unceremoniously landed on top of Spot in some dark and damp cave. The soft whimpering of the baby came from nearby.

 

This was what his father had always talked about when he mentioned stories of his Uncle Greg. Uncle Greg was a knight in shining armour, who did the kings bidding, saving damsels in distress, slaying dragons and single-handedly defeating entire armies, if Tug's father's stories were to be believed.

 

This was an adventure, of the scariest sorts. In the pitch black of the cave, Tug and his faithful companion had to save the helpless baby. Its crying was actually quite annoying, and Tug groped around blindly in the darkness, not sure whether he cared more about saving the baby or stopping the awful crying somehow...

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Digging into his pockets, Tug found a small honey sweet wrapped in wax paper in the depths of one of them. How long had that been there? Tug couldn't even remember the last time he'd had honey sweets. Nonetheless, maybe it would shut the baby up.

 

With no thought about the potential of the sweet as a choking hazard, Tug unwrapped the sweet and popped it into the baby's mouth. Mercifully, the crying stopped. Picking up the child, Tug began to look around, trying to see through the blackness of the cave. He could hear Spot snuffling about the edges of the cave. Suddenly, the dog let out a bark and took off down a previously-unseen tunnel.

 

Hoping it was a way out, Tug followed with the baby...

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Tug was not ten steps into the new passage when three things happened, all at once. Or at least in a way that seemed to be all at once.

 

First, the baby he held and who had been mercifully silent for the last few minutes, started to make strange sounds.

Second, he felt something wet against his hand.

Third, he noticed a nice blue coloring growing on the baby's face.

 

Tug blinked, confused. Did he have in his arms a changeling, those frail and wicked fairy babies that mother fairies left in place of a healthy human baby so that fairyland could have a stronger blood in them? Was he doomed for having saved such a fairy baby? Sniffing his hand, he also wondered if he was doomed by having been wet by a fairy baby.

 

Luckily for the baby, Spot chose that moment to come back to him, bounding at full speed (which, let's remind, does not mean a real full speed) and actually crashing fully on him. Tug cried out in surprise as he found his feet again flailing in the air, clutching the baby instinctively. And as they landed in a ball of limbs and fur, Spot's nose dug hard into the baby's belly; with a cough and a splutter, a piece of the honeyed sweet was thrown out of the baby's throat and into Spot's neck.

 

A bit dizzy, Tug looked again at the baby — now getting rosier and testing his lungs wilfully.

 

Tug wondered if changelings changed colors that easily.

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Just as the baby was metamorphosing into a red blob of undefinable shape...Jimmy woke up, his alarm clock jarring him from his dreams. It was the third night running that he had this dream, always advancing further and further. He turned in bed, contemplating another fifteen minutes of sleep, or the cold shock of a shower to wake him up now. He opted for sleep.

 

Even the cold shower failed to fully wake him and he stumbled down the stairs to find his breakfast (jam on toast) already waiting for him. His father must have already left. It was summer, and while Jimmy could allow himself to set his alarm clock for eleven in the morning his father still had work to do.

 

Attacking his breakfast with all the hunger a thin ten-year old could have he wondered what he was going to do today. His thoughts were sent astray by Tabby, his father's jet-black cat jumping up on the table, sniffing the milk in his mug.

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The sight of the sleek cat immediately sent Jimmy's thoughts back to the dream - there had been the shadow of a black panther in there, hadn't been?

 

As he frowned, trying to remember, he sighed as the snippets of pictures left just the hazy feeling that he had missed something. Must have been in those extra 15 minutes, he thought.

 

 

The baby, rosy and screaming, had kept changing from a baby to an amorphous red blob. At the corner of his eye, Tug saw what looked like the shadow of a black panther.

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