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Edgar & Ellen #1: Rare Beastsby Charles Ogden
It Begins. . .
The warm night air had a weight to it and hung over the town like a dirty wet dishcloth. It was very late, well past midnight, and the only sounds were the steady chirping of crickets and the occasional hooting of owls.
Down by the river, two shadowy figures danced across the roof of a covered bridge. Flailing their arms and legs about to keep their balance on the steep pitch, they formed whirling silhouettes against the night sky.
"Watch out, Sister, you're getting it all over me!"
"Well, if you had remembered a flashlight, I'd be able to see what I was doing, Brother."
"Oh, you can see as well as me. You're doing it on purpose."
"Oops!" said Ellen as she dragged her brush across Edgar's face.
"You'll be sorry you did that," he muttered, red paint dripping from the tip of his chin.
"Hush, I'm almost done."
Ellen finished the last letter, and stood back to make sure she had spelled everything properly.
"You forgot the exclamation point!" said Edgar as he dumped what was left in the paint can over his sister's head.
Edgar and Ellen tackled each other and tumbled off the roof, splashing into the water below. Standing in the waist-high river, soaking wet, with red paint flowing as if they were bleeding from terrible wounds, the twins admired their work.
"I like it, Brother."
"It's certainly better than it was before, Sister."
They cackled over the sounds of crickets and owls and crept home. Copyright ©2003 by Star Farm Productions, LLC.
Chapter 1: Welcome to Nod's Limbs, Friend
For the most part, Nod's Limbs was a lovely place to live. It wasn't a big town, but it wasn't small either. It was, quite simply, an upstanding community of historic landmarks and charming shopping malls. The Running River cut through the center of town, although it really should have been called the Walking Stream or the Crawling Trickle since it wasn't very wide and didn't flow very fast. Seven covered bridges allowed people and cars to cross the river, and the townspeople were very proud of their covered bridges. It's rare to see one covered bridge in a town these days, and Nod's Limbs had seven. They looked like big red barns spanning the river, identical except for what was painted on their roofs.
Each had two words painted in big white block letters, one word on each side. If you were traveling the length of Florence Boulevard, each bridge added another word to a message, and the message was different depending on which direction you were traveling. From east to west, the roofs read WELCOME FRIEND TO NOD'S LIMBS STAY AWHILE. From west to east they said COME BACK SOON FRIEND AND TAKE CARE. However, since you could enter Nod's Limbs from the west as easily as from the east, and leave in either direction as well, sometimes these messages made sense and sometimes they didn't. But though you might be wished WELCOME as you left and greeted with COME BACK SOON as you entered, the residents of Nod's Limbs didn't mind because they thought it looked quaint.
But no matter how respectable a town is, when it's large enough, it usually develops what the locals call the "right side of town" and the "wrong side of town."
The "right side of town" is where the honest, hardworking citizens live. The streets are clean, the lawns are manicured, and people walk around with smiles on their faces and a kind word for their neighbors. On the "wrong side of town," however, people don't look each other in the eye when passing in the street. It's where the disreputable people live, such as those who would deface public property — those who would take the sweet greetings of their town and alter them to say mean things like WELCOME FIENDS TO SMELLY NOD'S LIMBS DON'T FEED THE ANIMALS and DON'T COME BACK HERE EVER EVER EVER. The streets here are covered in trash and dirt, and the houses are dark, dilapidated, and terribly unpleasant.
Nod's Limbs was large enough to have a "right side" and a "wrong side," and you might think that both "sides" of the town would be about the same size. Not so in Nod's Limbs.
"An honest day's work for an honest day's pay" was the credo of most of the town's citizens, and because of this dedication, just about the whole of Nod's Limbs could be considered the "right side."
All, that is, except for one small block on the far end of town. Copyright ©2003 by Star Farm Productions, LLC.
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