by Orley M. Amos, Jr.
Go to: Chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Professor of Economics
Oklahoma State University
Chapter Nine: The Valley Of Red
"I wonder if THIS is part of the lesson," Tyler exclaimed sarcastically.
"Funny. Very funny," Cali countered, as they huddled together, nestled deep into the thick, waist-high, red grass. Whether true or not, they felt safe from imminent attack. This gave Cali the courage to venture her head near the top of the foliage for a look.
She gasped., "Look at that thing!"
With curiosity getting the best of fear, Tyler edged his head upward for a look.
"Yikes," he screeched, dropping as close to the ground as physically possible.
Had his gaze remained focused for more than an instant, he would have identified a larger than life, extra ugly, mythical monstrosity. As if brought to life by some perverse sense of humor, the creature circling above possessed the body of an enormous lion and the head, wings, and front claws of an eagle.
Their new adversary, the beast that sought Tyler's head as a trophy, was a gargantuan griffin direct from the lore of ancient legends. However, it wasn't your standard model mythical lion-sized griffin, this beast was easily the size of a Greyhound bus -- probably bigger. It looked capable of consuming a standard-sized student with a single bite, if it didn't rip apart the carcass just for the demonic pleasure of it.
The monster soared overhead, eying on its potential prey.
"Oh!" Tyler moaned, as he clutched the ground, "Of all things. I hated studying those ugly looking griffins in school. They always gave me the creeps. Why do they have to have them here?"
The griffin, spotting Cali's head above the foliage, broke off it's circling pattern and initiated a second attack.
"DUCK!" she screamed, clutching the ground with Tyler.
The griffin missed again.
"What'll we do?" Tyler screamed.
"I don't know!" Cali screamed back.
The griffin made another pass, talons dipping into the surface of the red grass, but missing once again.
"What don't you use your wondrous economic principles, like you did the last time," Tyler shrieked facetiously.
"Oh, get off it!" Cali screamed back, obviously scared. "That was then, this is now."
They huddled quietly, awaiting their imminent demise.
Then Cali noted, "Maybe we can use some economics."
Tyler nodded, his eyes closed, "Sure, go ahead."
"Listen to this," Cali began, "The griffin is attacking us because it probably thinks we're food. So let's use a little economics of consumer behavior."
"How's that?" Tyler moaned, his question muffled by the red foliage surrounding his head.
Cali raised her head boldly. "Let's make sure that any satisfaction, or what the professor calls utility, that it gets from eating us is not worth the effort,".
"That'll teach him," Tyler said sarcastically. "We'll taste so bad it'll never eat another person."
"No, silly," Cali responded, "It's not going to eat US. Take off your shirt and jeans."
"What?" Tyler asked lifting his face slight and turning toward Cali. Their noses touched.
"Take off your shirt and jeans," Cali ordered. "We'll stuff them with this red grass and dirt. Like a scarecrow."
"My clothes... but..." Tyler modestly protested.
Cali tugged on her pale blue top. "There's not enough of my clothes to stuff. Surely, the beast couldn't be fooled into thinking my clothes are a person."
Tyler struggled to removed his shirt, trying to keep his appendages out of sight of the circling griffin. He reluctantly removed his pants, blushing more than a little.
He huddled in his T-shirt and underwear, "I hope this works."
Cali grabbed the clothes and started stuffing them handfuls of the red grass. Tyler helped, albeit with little enthusiasm. They stuffed the shirt, then the pants, with hopefully hard to digest clumps of red foliage. They threw in as many clumps of orange dirt as they could. They tucked the shirt into the pants, and the makeshift person was ready to for the feeding.
"I really, really hope this works," Tyler reiterated.
Cali popped her head above the foliage for a quick look. It was still there, circling effortlessly. "I only hope it's a all carnivore and not an omnivore!"
"Never mind. Here's what we'll do," Cali explained. "We'll start running, carrying this dummy between us. When the griffin gets close we'll duck, and toss it into the air."
"I surely do hope this works."
The trio popped to their feet and dashed across the valley, generally heading in the direction Tyler had pointed to earlier. Cali kept an eye to the rear, watching for the griffin. It spotted it's prey in short order and approached rapidly.
At what she hoped was the proper moment, Cali yelled, "DUCK!"
They haphazardly tossed the dummy upward as they dove downward. On cue, the griffin grabbed the improvised scarecrow in the air and soared away. Sensing the beast had departed, Cali peaked skyward. The griffin was high aloft ripping morsels from of the dummy with its beak. It bit, it chewed, then it spit. The griffin's snack was clearly foul tasting. Finding nothing edible, it discarded the dummies remains and flew away.
"Tyler," Cali spoke breathlessly.
"Cali?" Tyler responded from the confines of his newly-made cubby hole.
"It worked, Tyler," she said slowly. "The griffin's gone. I think it worked."
"Me, too," Tyler solemnly agreed, "me, too."
Crawled toward Tyler's voice, Cali found her confederate. She collapsed into his foliage cubby hole, laying motionless.
"Why is this happening?" Tyler asked.
Cali shuddered, "Obviously, there's somebody, some evil professor like the Professor Francis alluded to, trying to stop us. We simply have to get out of here as soon as we can; get to the end of the path."
Feeling safe from griffin attack and forgetting his modesty, Tyler stood up. Realizing he was clad only in underwear, however, he plopped back down.
Cali chuckled. "Wait here. Let me see if I can find what's left of your clothes."
Cali rose to her feet and jogged in the direction of the dummy's apparent landing. She kept an eye skyward as she jogged -- just in case. But the griffin did not return. After travelling a few hundred years, she stumbled onto the dummy, nestled into the grass foliage as if seeking protection. While shirt had vanished, or was consumed, Tyler's jeans were largely intact, minus one complete leg and part of the other.
"At least this should keep him from blushing," she said to herself, as she took the first few steps of her return journey.
She stopped abruptly.
All she saw was a vast valley of red. No Tyler. Her meandering search for Tyler's apparel had clearly disrupted her sense of direction. She scanned the valley in every direction. There was no sign of Tyler. She envisioned him resting in the depths of the red grass, huddled from fear of flying griffins, and out of Cali's sight. She considered calling his name, but thought better of it. The griffin, or possible worse, might be beckoned by the sound. Better to not take the chance.
She found the intersection of the mountains, trees, and valley that Tyler had pointed to as the end of the path. Unfortunately, she didn't know if she had been running towards that point or away from it in search of Tyler's clothes.
Cali slowly turned a circle, hoping to spot any sign of Tyler. She wished she could close her eyes like Tyler had done several times, pointing out the proper direction.
"I wonder how he does that?" Cali said quietly to herself. "Maybe he was a boy scout, or something."
Her gaze happened upon what appeared to be an indentation in the otherwise smooth surface of the red foliage. Hoping this was Tyler's makeshift cubby-hole, she wasted no time moving toward it.
Then she stopped suddenly. She saw, not just one dip in the red surface, but two, then three. A large indentation was surrounded by several smaller ones. The smaller ones circled the larger one, joined with it and parted ways, then join up again. They move so quickly, Cali could not count the smaller indentations -- there were eight, maybe ten, maybe more.
Fearing the worst, and why wouldn't she, Cali dash off. These indentations were probably created by some carnivorous creatures feasting on Tyler's helpless, bloodied body. The thought hastened her pace toward the indentations. She didn't know if she could help, but she would try.
Her pace slowed as she approached to the bustling activity. Her pulse pounded and her breathing grew heavy. She was poised to battle a hoard of blood-thirsty creatures.
Then she stopped. Over her heavy breathing she heard the unmistakable sound of laughter.
She approached more quickly. The laughter, clearly Tyler's, became louder. She had reached the largest indentation. Beneath her feet, rolling and kicking in the red grass, was compatriot Tyler, surrounded by several -- at least ten -- furry, long, snakelike creatures. The creatures were crawling over, under, and around Tyler, just like puppy dogs. In fact, as Cali looked closely, the heads and faces of these creatures were clearly puppy-like. These creatures resembled cute, cuddly puppies, minus the usual four-pack of legs. They squirmed and wiggled over, under, and around Tyler.
"What's going on?" Cali asked.
Tyler tried to control his laughter enough to say, "Look what I've found. Or I should say, look what found me."
"What are they?" Cali asked, her face breaking into a smile.
"I don't know," Tyler said, as one crawled across his neck and licked his face, "But they sure are playful."
Cali picked one up. It definitely had the face of a puppy. It licked Cali on the ear. She giggled.
"I was lying here, waiting for you," Tyler explained, "when they started crawling all over me. At first I thought they were going to eat me, but they only played like this." He pushed and tugged on the little things, as they barked and growled softly, just like puppies. It was as though someone had extracted ever every ounce of puppy cuteness from the real world crammed it into each one of these cuddly creatures.
placing the creature she was holding down, Cali held up the remains of Tyler's pants.
"I hate to spoil the fun," she said shaking her head, "but, we really must get going."
Tyler nodded as he tried to push endless swarm of the creatures away. Of course, they squirmed right back. He finally managed to stand upright, with several of the little creatures playfully nipping at his feet. He nudged them gently away with his foot as he pulled on his jeans.
"Maybe you'll start a new fashion trend," Cali quipped as she eyed one completely bare leg and one that was half exposed.
"At least I don't feel naked," he said.
"To the end of the path?" Cali suggested, the creatures now nipping at her feet.
"To the end of the path," Tyler agreed, pointing the way.
After a half-dozen steps and the creatures still playfully circling and nipping at their feet, Cali stopped.
"Wait a second," she said, "what about our fruit and water?"
"I thought something was wrong," Tyler agreed. "What did we do with the bags?"
"We dropped them back there someplace when the griffin attacked," Cali said." She pointed behind them.
"No," Tyler corrected her, "They're right over there." He pointed to two small indentations that were almost impossible to see, even though they were only twenty yards to the side.
With the creatures nipping at her feet, Cali fetched the two bags and rejoined Tyler. Several of the creatures made the side trip with her while the rest remained with Tyler. She handed Tyler his fruit. Supplies retrieved, they renewed their journey toward the intersection of the mountains, trees, and valley. The puppy creatures tagged along.
After about fifty yards Cali said, "I don't know about you, Tyler, but these little creatures are really starting to annoy me."
"Oh, come on," Tyler said, "Don't be grouch. My dad is a grouch.. They're just lovable creatures. They aren't hurting anything. They'll probably get tired and go home before long."
"I hope so," Cali said wearily.
They continued, faithful groupies circling their feet.
"OUCH!" Cali screamed suddenly, "One of them bit me."
"What?" Tyler said with surprise, "They wouldn't bite you..." then he jumped and screamed himself. "One just bit me on the ankle," he said kicking the creature away. It yipped.
"Tyler," Cali said trying to control a sudden surge of anxiety, "I don't like this." She screamed again as another one nipped more than playfully at her leg. She reached down with her hand to ward the creature off.
Tyler kicked violently at several of the creatures swarming more vigorously around his feet. He screamed again, then kicked once more.
"That one got me pretty good," he grabbed the bite with his hand and found it covered with blood.
"Tyler," Cali screamed frantically, "Let's get out of here."
By now Tyler was flailing his bag of fruit at any of soft, cuddly, little, puppy-like creature he could saw. Cali kicked and swung her own water bag, before broke into a run away from the pack of creatures. Tyler followed her, leaving behind the sounds of yelps and growls from the creatures.
While the creatures were snack-like quick, they could not keep pace with two moderately frightened,relatively athletic students bent on self-preservation. The yelps and growls slowly faded. Cali stopped once she felt that they were relatively safe. She turned to see a dozen indentations randomly circling through the red foliage.
"Oh Wow!" Cali exclaimed, "That was close."
Tyler bending over and breathing very hard, nodded in agreement.
"Cute creatures, eh?" Cali said sarcastically.
Tyler heaved a sigh of relief, "Yeah, cute."
"Maybe that evil professor guy is behind this," Cali suggested.
"Yeah maybe," Tyler agreed. "Let's just get out of this place. I don't think if I can take much more."
Cali nodded, "Yeah. Let's go. To the end of the path."
Go to: Chapter 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
Copyright © 1997, 2002 by Orley M. Amos, Jr. All rights reserved. Not
to be quoted without permission of the author.