So, I’ve been on vacation last week and haven’t had a chance to interview any new authors. So, because of that, I thought I’d share this fun little kids’ story I wrote a little while back. Personally, it’s one of my favorite children’s stories I’ve ever written, though probably not the best (at least in regards to the “fundamentals” of writing anyway). But, it’s cute. Has lots of humor. And paints a vivid picture when we don’t heed the warning signs of life and follow after our temptations. Yes, it is a Christian story (as I am, in fact, a believer in Christ), but I don’t think it’s pushy at all and believe anyone can have a good time reading it (or better yet, reading it to your kids or grandkids!). So take a few minutes and enjoy Pedro Piranha and the Precarious Pool of Peril!
Pedro Piranha and the Precarious Pool of Peril
J. Kent Holloway
“Shew!” exclaimed Millard Mallard as he waddled through the pasture on the squelching hot August day. “It is like an oven today!”
Benny Bushtail wiped sweat off his brow, whiskers drooping in the heat, and replied, “It sure is. I don’t think I’ve seen a hotter day in years.”
Although the air was thick with the heat of summer, it was an extremely beautiful day. The sun was high and a glorious blue canvass painted the sky with brilliantly white fluffs of clouds scattered here and there to give the day a picture perfect look. It was such a beautiful day, in fact, that the duck and squirrel in our story decided to brave the intense heat and spend time playing in the park.
Benny chattered on and on, as he hopped and skipped circles around his friend. Millard, being rather clumsy, could only waddle with his large flipper-like feet. Despite this, however, the two were enjoying themselves immensely! They began the day by playing hide-and-go-seek and then moved on to freeze tag, kickball, tree climbing, and hop scotch. Unfortunately, none of these games were exceptionally easy for Millard to play–I mean, have you actually seen a duck climb a tree? But still, the two had a wonderful time.
As the two frolicked through the park, they soon came to a large clear blue pond. Oh, it looked like such a wonderful thing to Millard…so cool and refreshing…so tantalizing and wet. This was exactly what Millard needed to make his day complete.
“Let’s go for a swim!” Millard shouted almost pushing Benny closer and closer to the pool of water.
“Um, I dunno,” said Benny, pointing to a sign. “What does that sign over there say?”
“Oh, probably ‘Help yourself to a swim!’ or something like that,” mused Millard. “Who cares what it says, it’s hot…really hot! This water is cool…really cool! There’s only one thing to do on a hot hot day with a cool cool pond and that’s swim!”
While Millard was going on and on about the necessity of swimming in a cool pond on a hot day, Benny made his way over to the other side of the pond to read the sign. “DANGER: No Swimming. Swimming could be hazardous to your health,” the sign said.
“Um, Millard? Maybe you should read this,” said Benny to the duck who was frantically putting on his swimming trunks.
Wobbling along on one leg with the other stuck in the wrong leg of the trunks, Millard hopped over to the sign and read it.
Shaking his head and rolling his eyes, Millard sighed and said, “Oh Benny, Benny, Benny…will you ever learn? You are so naïve and unwise in the ways of the world.”
“What do you mean?” asked a bewildered Benny.
“I mean that this sign is obviously outdated!” explained Millard. “I mean, look at it! Look how old the sign is.”
Benny examined the sign more closely. The sign was definitely old and rickety. The wooden post was weather-worn. The red paint that was used to write the words “DANGER: No Swimming. Swimming could be hazardous to your health” was chipping off. A corner of the sign had completely fallen off and it leaned awkwardly to the right.
“Yep,” Benny agreed. “The sign is definitely old…” he thought for a minute and then continued, “But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen to what it says! I mean, it says that swimming is dangerous!”
“Pish-posh,” said Millard. “That’s only to keep us from having fun! Come on! Let’s swim!”
Benny thought a bit longer on the subject, decided that Millard was probably right and was just about to put on his own swim trunks when he heard a familiar voice calling from the direction of his house. “Beeennnnyyyy!” cried Benny’s mother. “Come home to lunch!”
“Oh, wow!” cried the squirrel. “Lunch time! Are you coming?”
Millard just looked at him and shook his head. “Nope. I’m going swimming!”
Benny knew that there was nothing he could say that was going to change his friend’s mind, so after warning him to be careful, he turned and ran towards home for lunch.
“Ah, alone at last,” the duck thought to himself with a chuckle. “Now, it’s time for a little bit of summer fun!”
Millard began inching his way towards the pond, however, for some reason, he couldn’t take his eyes off that old sign that was warning him against swimming in this pond. For the life of him, Millard couldn’t possibly understand what on earth could be dangerous about this particular pond. Obviously, whoever had made that sign just didn’t understand how much fun swimming could be. Closer and closer, Millard inched, until he was right at the water’s edge.
He peered into the water. Nothing unusual could be seen. The water looked clean…very clean, in fact. There seemed to be just the right amount of vegetation in the pond…the perfect amount of algae and moss and weeds. Nope! The water was perfect. Millard decided to stick one of his webbed toes into the water…just to test it.
“Ooooh,” Millard sighed. “Perfect.”
Millard was about to plunge into the water when a thought occurred to him, “Where’s all fish? Where’s all the other ducks? Where are the frogs and bugs and flies?” Millard could find none of those things lurking near the pond. Nor could he locate any snakes or lizards or even slimy salamanders. “How odd,” Millard thought. “Perhaps they know something that I don’t. Maybe I shouldn’t go for a swim after all.”
With that last thought, a noise startled him from out in the middle of the pond. He whipped his head around to catch only a glimpse of a splash and a fin and then all was quiet. So, there were fish still swimming in this pond, thought Millard. Despite this realization, however, Millard was still a bit uneasy. Something just didn’t seem right.
Suddenly, another noise from the water disturbed his concentration. This time, however, the noise was of no splash, but rather a voice. “MARCO!” cried the voice followed by a small splash of water. Millard craned his neck as fast it could go, but could catch no sight of the thing that had said the strange word. “POLO!” came the same voice from a different direction.
“Who’s there?” asked Millard, becoming just a bit concerned over the way the afternoon was progressing. “Who’s Marco…er, or Polo?” the duck cautiously asked.
A light hearted laugh could be heard from right at the shore line of the pond. Millard moved closer to the edge of the water and scanned the surface for the source of the mysterious voice. Suddenly a squirt of water shot right into his face, followed by a series of howling giggles.
“He he he!” the mysterious voice laughed. “That was too funny! Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Pedro and I’m a…a…a goldfish, yeah, that’s it! A goldfish!”
Two large eyes peered up out of the water and Millard, wiping excess water from his bill, focused in for a closer look. Something just wasn’t quite right here, he thought. This didn’t look like any goldfish he’d ever seen.
“Aren’t you rather large to be a goldfish?” he asked the rather largish fish swimming in the forbidden pond.
“Well, I…um…I’m a Japanese goldfish! Yeah, that’s it. They grow quite large in Japan!” the strange fish said.
Millard still felt odd about the whole mess. There was something very wrong with this goldfish’s teeth.
“But I’ve never seen a goldfish before with row after row of razor sharp pointy teeth before,” Millard explained.
“Oh that, well, that’s easy to explain,” the rather largish pointy teethed fish named Pedro said as he fumbled for words. “That’s because my crazy orthodontist made some kind of mistake! But I happen to like them a lot.”
The fish said this with a rather large grin which helped show off just how sharp, pointy, and straight his teeth really were. The grin quickly faded and the fish began looking very sad.
“You don’t like me, do you?” Pedro said. “I can tell. You just plain ol’ don’t like me! All I try to do is make a new friend. All I want to do is have a friend to swim with. Doesn’t this water look wonderful for swimming? Oh, it’s just absolutely fantabulistic!”
Millard was completely confused. The water did look rather tempting. It was so hot and that water really did look nice and cool. It would be an absolutely wonderful time if he just went for a swim. He did, after all, already have his swimming trunks on! Still, something just kept nagging Millard down deep. He knew that swimming in this pond was wrong…I mean, the sign said he wasn’t supposed to. His mom had always taught him to obey the law. But Millard thought this was a silly law. It made no sense. What on earth would be wrong to take a swim with this nice largish goldfish with row upon row of sharp pointy straight teeth?
Millard looked at Pedro as the fish began doing the backstroke on top of the water spewing water out of his mouth like a statue in a fountain. Pedro then dived into the water and came back up again…this time with a scuba mask and snorkel in his mouth!
“Oh man!” said Pedro. “You have no idea how much fun you’re missing! Come on…you’ll be fine. You’ll be more than fine in fact! You’ll be ate…er, I mean great!” Pedro chuckled some more after that last comment.
Millard so wanted to swim in that forbidden pool. He looked at the sign and then at the water. He looked at Pedro having a blast in the water and then at the sign again. Back and forth Millard’s neck craned as he was torn as to what he should do! Finally, he made up his mind! He knew what to do! With a running waddle, Millard jumped high in the air and dove head first into the pond as Pedro giggled with glee.
Thirty minutes later, Benny returned to the pond looking for his friend. He looked around the trees, but no sign of Millard could be seen. He looked on the bank of the pond, but not even a flipper print was discovered. He looked in the water, but nothing could be found of his friend the duck.
Benny was getting worried. What had happened to Millard? He wondered. Where was he? He hadn’t gone home. Benny had checked before he came here. He wasn’t on the swing set in the park. Benny had checked there too. So where on earth was he?
Benny’s thoughts were broken by the sound of a rather disgusting burp. “BBUUURRRP!” came the sound from the pond. Benny bent his head close to the water to peer inside and came face to face with two beady eyes with row upon row of rather large and straight razor sharp teeth.
“A piranha!” thought Benny. He had remembered reading about piranhas in school. And what was that in the fish’s mouth? Were those feathers?
“Oh my goodness!” cried Benny. “What have you done to my friend Millard?”
The piranha eyed Benny for a moment and gave a small chuckle. “Don’t worry,” said Pedro. “It was the craziest thing I ever saw.” The fish motioned with his eyes up to the top of a large oak tree next to the pond. “I’ve never seen a duck climb a tree before.”
Benny followed the fish’s gaze up to the top of the tree and saw Millard, his tail feathers missing from his bottom, hanging for dear life to the highest point of the tree. With one wing, Millard rubbed his sore bottom.
“Ouch!” Millard moaned. “I should have listened to that sign. That’s the very last time I’ll go swimming with a Japanese goldfish with row upon row of straight pointy razor sharp teeth!”