Finally, our week in 1996 is over. Despite promising Electra and passengers to leave this sorry place ASAP, I had a problem … where to go, and how to go without having that second appointment with Dr. Who? It was he, who would make Dave’s official diagnosis! But Dr. Who knew and, in my gut, I also knew the diagnosis. It’s a name I neither wanted to hear nor voice.  Just as in the early days of cancer, when people couldn’t utter the “C” word, years ago many couldn’t utter the “A” word. I COULD NOT! I needed to find a different way of saying what “it” was.

Me: “OK Electra. Thanks for being so patient. We are leaving in a few.”

Electra: “Great, can’t wait, I’m raring to get out of 1996. Have you decided where we’re going.”

Me: “I’ve’ been pondering. At first we talked about speeding up about 11 years which would put us in 2007, skipping past some of the defining events of Dave’s insidious demise, some comic, most tragic,”

Electra: “Exactly, so let’s get going!”

Me: “We will, however I’ve been thinking about where I want to go. Actually I want to take us even further into the future … all the way to 2016. Can you do this!”

Electra: “Sure, but that’s nine years after Dave dies. Why?”

Me: “Well, if you recall, over those years, the ‘A’ word remained stuck in my throat. Back then, between 2007 and 2016, I was finishing up ‘Norton’s Tale’ one of the allegories in my ‘Skunk Tales Trilogy’ series.  And, as the plot unfolded, I found a different way to communicate the ‘A’ word.”

Electra: “Yup, it was in Chapter 10, ‘The Isles of Ills.’ You knew what it meant, after all you ‘thunk’ it up. I knew too, but readers were, and still are, clueless. Most have no idea what the three Isles represent.”

Me: “Correct! Could you … would you … land on Chapter 10 in ‘Norton’s Tale’? PLEASE!”

Electra: “I’m on it … up, up and away!”

Instantly Electra transports us to ‘The Isles of Ills’ landing smack-dab on the top right hand corner of Chapter 10 where Passengers learn from the very first page that there is a raft in boggy waters, a foul odor of decay in the air and a sea full of gunk. Sisters Sis and Sass, Black Widow spiders, are lookouts atop their strong spider web sails. Spotting three strange islands in the distance, Sis and Sass become alarmed. One of the islands has already sunk below the water; another is in the process of sinking but the third is still afloat. Using their red hourglass markings on the underside of their abdomens, Sis and Sass begin blinking warning signals to the crew below. 

Electra: “OK, but there are 12 more pages explaining what happened on the island. Do you want me to visit each page?”

Me: “No, that would take too long. I will give an ‘A-Bridged” version. Mainly I want our passengers to guess two things …

1. What does the island represent
2. What is Dave’s Diagnosis? ‘

The Isles of Ills’

The islands are about the same size and shape and look like walnut halves, each with a divide running down the middle. Captain Norton Skunk gives Mousella Mouse the assignment to investigate the still floating island. Mousella is prepared to conduct a “Mouse Scan,” rather than a CAT Scan. The Captain has selected Mousella because of her small size and strong swimming abilities which she inherited from her twice removed river rat cousin.

Once on the island, Mousella finds a gently curved perimeter with soft, spongy ground. The many trees grow flat on the ground rather than upright with branches stretching out connecting one to the other. Additionally, branch endings pulsate as if alive and exude a sticky fluid, almost like tree-sap.

As Mousella travels toward the left side of the island, she notes increasing decay. The branches have become entangled, twisted and snarled with patches of hardened plaque-like blobs in between and the once plentiful tree sap has dwindled. Suddenly Mousella hears a faint moan coming from one of the hardened objects at the end of a distant branch. It attempts to speak. 

The blob introduces itself as Amy whose unintelligible speech cannot be understood by Mousella. Next Mousella has another surprise. Yet another blob whose name is Lloyd speaks. Lloyd, who can still be understood explains that Amy was a good friend. Lloyd further explains that previously all the now hardened or hardening blobs had been healthy hamsters before being taken to the ‘The Isles of Ills’ where they morphed into their current states and are sick with “OLD HAMSTER’S DISEASE.” 

Note to passengers … please share your answers to questions #1 and #2 on the Website and don’t forget to …

Stay tuned to learn more …