“So, whaddaya say Milky, wanna hear a story?” asked Phonto Mathymick to his child.
The father and child rested on antique rocking chairs next to the fireplace after a long day’s work on the farm. The flames cast ribbons of warmth across the room, perfect for the cool autumn night that surrounded them. A scarlet leaf fluttered by the window above Milky’s chair, followed by a gust of wind carrying every possible shade of orange and red. The whole cabin shook, but Milky didn’t stir.
“You always were one for stories, weren’t ya? Well, here we go. This one is about a cow and a pancake, and it takes place on a distant archipelago and the lovely surrounding seas. I should take you there sometime. I think you’d like it.” Phonto reached for a dish of peanuts sitting on the wooden end table and popped a few into his mouth. Then, he began his tale:
“The old sea cow trotted up to her ship, the Salty Shellfish, and took a moment to relax. Following the Butter Catastrophe of 1883, she had never found much time to relax, for the butter was seeping into all the ships and making them melt if they stood still too long. However, the Salty Shellfish had been through a lot, and so had the cow. Neither of them would be taken out by butter if they took a minute, just one minute, to relax.
“Besides, she would be giving birth soon. She wasn’t even sure why, but somehow she knew that the cheese was coming, and it was coming soon. She waited, waited, waited for what seemed like an eternity of endless pumpkin pie, but the cheese never came.
“The cow finally gave up and went to the navigation room. She set course for the Spinach Islands, where a leafy treasure was waiting for her at the bottom of an immense volcano called Lava Cake. The journey would be a perilous one, but it would definitely be worth it. Mmm, spinach.
“As the ship approached the famous Lemon Trench, the cow felt an odd sensation in one of her four stomachs. Suddenly, there was a sharp popping noise and a flash of crimson light, and a pancake appeared right in front of her! It seemed that she had given birth to it through some bizarre teleportation process. The cow didn’t know how to feel; after all, it was just an ordinary pancake, not even a baby pancake. You know, one of those little ones. What are they, about compass-sized? Smaller than you, at least.”
Milky took no notice of his size being compared to a baby pancake.
“Anyway,” continued Phonto, “she expected cheese, but now this random baked good had materialized in front of her. Maybe it would come alive if she showed it how to steer a ship? She tried to put it in front of the wheel, and...nothing. The pancake didn’t even sprout arms and legs. It truly was an ordinary pancake.
“The cow left her pancake child on the spritsail topmast to keep lookout, and went down to the captain’s quarters. She focused her attention back on finding the Spinach Islands. According to the map, the ship was getting fairly close. With the butter still at large, docking the ship was a problem. Normally she kept the crew on board to move the ship occasionally, but this time, she didn’t have any crew because they were all killed by falling coconuts.
“She decided to find a lizard on the island to move the ship for her. As she climbed up the topmast to retrieve her pancake, she used her spyglass to take a look around the first Spinach Island. It didn’t look like much, but she knew her spinach treasure lay there somewhere. To her surprise, some weird brown things flew through the trees sometimes.
“With the pancake on her shoulder like a parrot named Kidney Bean, she set out to find a lizard, and the treasure. She found a lizard quite quickly, named him Potato, and placed him back on the ship. Then, she went back to the island and searched for the Lava Cake Volcano. It was difficult to find, which was strange because it was supposed to be massive.
“Eventually, the cow stumbled upon a lump in the sand. She dug it up with a pickaxe made of croutons, which unfortunately shattered. All she found was a lava cake. I mean an actual lava cake, with lava and everything. There was never a volcano in the first place. She kicked it in frustration, but ended up with lava all over her foot. Luckily, she was wearing boots. She decided to dig under the cake, this time with a pickaxe made of corn flakes, which also broke. There was a chest, brimming with spinach!
“She tried to return to the ship with her booty, only to find that it had melted away. Lazy Potato didn’t try to move the ship at all, so it was taken over by the butter. The cow sighed and sat herself on the sand. What could she do now?
“At that moment, one of the flying brown things, which turned out to be a monkey, swooped in out of nowhere and snatched the pancake right off her shoulder! Unfortunately, that was the last she ever saw of her pancake child. But that was alright, because the pancake wasn’t very useful anyway. Although, if she would be stuck on the island for a long time, a fresh, tasty pancake would have come in quite handy.”
When Phonto finished telling his story, he sat back and took a prolonged look at his child. “You know, this tale reminds me of you.”
He said nothing.
“Milky, has it really come to this?” inquired Phonto as he reached into his back pocket and pulled out a fork.
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