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Freddy and the Wormhole

Freddy is one of my favourite characters, and he'll definitely return in stories yet to be written. In year 7, when we had to take drama class, we'd play drama games in small groups and one of them was called "Typewriter". In this game, one person would make believe they were sitting at a typewriter, tapping out a story, and the other group members would have to act out the story being narrated. I was terrible at drama (it didn't help that the teacher hated me) so I always managed to wangle the storyteller's position. Freddy was dreamed up on the spot. I entered this story in a competition, where it was shortlisted.

Story and characters © 2003

It was a dark and stormy night…

Wait. Actually, it wasn't dark. It was bright and sunny outside. It was quite easily distinguishable from a dark night. In fact, it wasn't even night. It was unique (or maybe not so unique) for not being a dark night. But it was stormy.

It was an extraordinarily bright and sunny, stormy day when Freddy the one-legged chicken stepped out of his hole. Well, he didn't actually step out of his hole. He'd just poked his beak out of the opening when the hole collapsed behind him.

"Dammit!" said Freddy the one-legged chicken, making his escape. "I had my brand-new DVD-recorder in that hole. That thing cost me a thousand dollars!"

Now, you may be wondering, why would a one-legged chicken be living in a hole? The answer was quite simple. Freddy, at times, thought he was a one-legged rabbit, minus the ears and fluffy tail. At these times, he often found himself digging a burrow frantically. He had decided, several months ago, that it was much easier to live in a burrow all the time. Of course, there was the problem of having your home collapse every time it rained. Freddy just wasn't suited to digging holes. He didn't build his infrastructures carefully enough, and he dug too close to the surface. Well, he couldn't help it if he was afraid of worms. Apparently, they stayed away if your hole was close enough to the surface, and Freddy's encounter with a worm the one time he had been too far underground had him ready to do anything to avoid another one. Freddy always claimed that the worm had leered at him.

Still, Freddy thought it was very annoying to have all his high-tech equipment rendered useless on a regular basis. It was hard being a geek of the fowl persuasion, sometimes.

So, on this bright, sunny, stormy day, Freddy the one-legged chicken stepped outside and saw a rainbow. Now, Freddy had seen plenty of rainbows before, but never one so bright and colourful as this one. What was slightly strange about this rainbow was the sign.

It was a scrolling LED sign, with an arrow labelled "RAINBOW" pointing to the arc in the sky.

This surprised Freddy. None of the four hundred and twenty-two other rainbows he had seen had ever had a label. Freddy ventured closer to investigate - hop, hop, hop. Poking out one wing, he prodded the sign cautiously.

The next moment, he was flying through space. Or hyperspace, to be exact.

***

Freddy opened his eyes, blinked woozily and jumped up. Then he fell down again. He had forgotten, for a moment, that he had only one leg. Freddy pushed himself off the ground again, balancing precariously for a moment before stabilizing, and looked around. He was in what appeared to be an airport. There were plastic pot plants scattered around the room, and there were plenty of places for people to hang.

There were definitely lots of places for people to hang. They were hooks on the wall. And the pot plants were a bright, fluorescent pink. No, they were blue! Purple! The plants were changing colour. Freddy began to suspect that something was strange. Checking the departure lists, he confirmed his suspicions. For one thing, they were displayed on some kind of shifting plasma in the wall. For another, the first entry on the list was "ALPHA CENTAURI Z23 - 2400 Galactic Standard Time".

Freddy looked at the flashing LED sign in the wall. It said "WELCOME TO THE BETELGEUSE W12 HYPERSPACEPORT" in several different languages. Luckily, Freddy read a lot (to make up for his missing leg), because the only language that he recognised as coming from Earth was a variant of ancient Welsh.

The ancient druids must have been more advanced than Freddy had thought. Or maybe Stonehenge was built by aliens.

Freddy flexed his beak and realised he was feeling a little peckish. Spying what looked like a corn plant in a corner, he sneaked up to it and attempted to pluck off one of its ears. It sat up and jabbered at him in some strange language. Freddy backed away as the plant stood up, and saw what he had been trying to pull off. It was an ear.

Freddy sighed and looked at the departure schedule again. "OMEGA WORMHOLE" was the next destination. After his encounter with the corn plant, he was feeling more hungry than ever. Hungry enough to eat a bug, even a worm. A worm. They were slimy, wriggly, horrible little things, but they did happen to be a chicken's natural food, or so Freddy had heard.

Freddy flapped his way to the hyperspaceport's booking counter and, speaking in the variant of ancient Welsh, bought his ticket. It cost about as much as the wrecked DVD-recorder had. Still, it was for food, and Freddy had looked for some Earth food before deciding to go to the wormhole. The only thing he had found was some haggis, which didn't seem particularly appetizing.

As he hopped onto the state-of-the-art space shuttle with built-in holographic TVs and 21-channel super-doubly-professional-quality audio, Freddy picked up a tourist brochure in the variant of ancient Welsh that seemed to be spoken by half the people - no, not people, sentient beings - in the hyperspaceport.

"Visit the Omega Wormhole! Fascinating solar-system views are yours when you recline in your beach chairs on the edge of the hole! Stay at the Omega Ranch and get one Galactic Standard Day (38 Galactic Standard Hours) free when you book for three or more Galactic Standard Nights.

"Omega Wormhole, coordinates {12-2123-981-27091} in the space-time continuum! Your friendly hosts, Klenn and Doymi Vroza, await you at the Omega Ranch."

The super-high-tech space shuttle was so fast that, by the time Freddy had finished reading this, it had touched down just outside the Omega Ranch. Freddy disembarked and looked around, his stomach rumbling. He saw another of the flashing, scrolling LED signs suspended in mid-air and read it carefully. It said "<--THIS WAY TO THE OMEGA WORMHOLE".

Freddy hopped in the direction of the arrow and saw the LED sign he had come to expect. It said "WORMHOLE-->". He looked at the wormhole. Actually, he looked for the wormhole. Finally, he saw a tiny pinprick of light.
" Well, so much for the tourist brochure," he muttered, screwing it up and tossing it at the wormhole. It disappeared. Slightly surprised, Freddy moved closer and prodded the miniscule speck with his beak. He fell in.

Thirty seconds later, all that could be heard from the edge of the wormhole was the sound of a beak chewing and snapping in delight.