Chapter 6 timing: 15 minutes
Post 1: Downtheback
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there was a magical land called Downtheback. Downtheback wasn’t on any maps. If you asked most people, they wouldn’t even know what it was. But Flapjax and Libby knew, and they knew how to get there.
On one particular springtime day, Libby and Flapjax packed their bags and prepared for their next adventure: a mission to explore Downtheback.
Libby, who was extremely organized and careful, packed things like band-aids, a water bottle, and her notepad and pencils. Flapjax packed some snacks.
And then they were off!
Flapjax and Libby quickly made their way through the backyard. At first, they passed landmarks Flapjax knew, like the fishpond he had encountered on a previous backyard adventure. But before long, Flapjax couldn’t recognize anything. They walked around a massive tree and then down a big hill, and suddenly they couldn’t see the house anymore. Flapjax panicked for a moment, but Libby grabbed his hand and they continued on, looking around for a set of wooden steps that would lead them into Downtheback.
The steps were half hidden by ivy and trees, and Libby had to duck and squeeze her way through. Flapjax was smaller and could fit through the brush a lot easier, but he was very careful to avoid the spiders that waited patiently on leaves for unsuspecting furry victims.
Ugh Flapjax hated spiders with a passion.
UGH WHAT WAS THAT? That was definitely a spider! Get it off, get it off!
After a momentary freak-out, when a flailing Flapjax had to be patted down by Libby to be sure there were no spiders crawling on him, they continued on.
Libby was a bit concerned. Flapjax was proving to be more of an indoor bear than she had expected. She hoped he could survive their outdoor adventure…
When they got to the bottom of the steps, Flapjax stared in awe at the wonderful world around him. It was so green! And the trees were so tall! And he could hear water, like a faucet during bath-time, but more…natural. Like the water was whispering instead of shouting.
He padded along the wood-chip path, taking in all of the amazing nature.
But he wasn’t paying attention to where they were going, and Flapjax soon lost sight of Libby, who was on a mission.
He stopped in his tracks and began to panic once again. The one main path split into two that went in opposite directions, and he had no idea which path Libby had taken. He started running down one, but before long he knew it was the wrong one. The path was muddy and little ponds on either side came together at one point making the path impossible to follow without getting all muddy and gross. He turned around and ran back, sprinting as fast as he could down the second path. But there was no Libby in sight.
Flapjax growled. How could she leave him like that? She knew he’d never been Downtheback before!
And then he heard it. A whooshing sound, like something traveling in the air very close to his ear. He turned in the direction of the whooshing and froze. There were two human boys standing on the other side of a bog. One was guarding Libby, holding their captive’s hands behind her back. The other held a bow poised with a second arrow, aiming directly at Flapjax.
Flapjax knew these humans. They were the neighbor boys, Ben and Sammy – sometimes friend, sometimes foe of Libby and Flapjax.
Today, apparently, they were foe. And they had Libby…
Post 2: Flapjax Finds a Way
Flapjax dove into the brush on the side of the woodchip path, narrowly avoiding another whooshing arrow.
How could he rescue Libby? He couldn’t even stand up without getting an arrow shot at his stuffing.
Flapjax belly-crawled along the path, ignoring the woodchip splinters and bugs along the way. He was no longer afraid of all the creepy crawly creatures that lurked under every leaf. He had more important things to think about, like rescuing Libby. Flapjax made it to safety behind a big, fallen tree trunk and paused to catch his breath and think.
Flapjax peered out from behind the tree trunk. The neighbor boys were using a big wooden plank to cross a rushing stream to an island on the other side. Once they made it across, they pulled the plank bridge back with them, out of the reach of any paws.
Flapjax was mad. They couldn’t take his best friend, not without a fierce Flapjax following in their tracks! He was a bear after all, and bears were expert trackers…
But first, he needed ammunition of his own. He searched the ground for a good branch, and he found it in a pile of old, wet leaves. It was nice and bendy, perfect for a bow. Then he picked a bunch of loose twigs and put them in his pack. Bow and arrows, check!
He also needed camouflage, otherwise the neighbor boys would easily spot his bright white fur. Flapjax grabbed a handful of mud and ran his dirty paws across his face and tummy and down both arms. Then he tied together clusters of ivy and stuck them on top of his ears for a finishing touch. Camouflage, check!
Flapjax stole a look at his reflection in a little pond beside the path. He looked pretty intimidating, if you asked him.
Next, he needed to find a way across the stream to the island.
Flapjax paced the land at the water’s edge, looking all around for a good crossing. The water was deep. He wouldn’t make it across the rushing water without getting swept away…
He walked a little further into Downtheback until he came to set of rusty, old train tracks that led over a big wooden bridge directly to the island on the other side.
Flapjax scrambled up a rocky slope to the tracks and paused, listening for a train. It was silent. He stepped cautiously up onto one of the smooth, iron rails and began to tip-toe his way across, arms spread out wide for balance. It took a long time. Flapjax tried very hard to not look down at the rushing water beneath the wooden bridge beams (he definitely peeked a time or two, and regretted it when his tummy started to swirl).
All of a sudden, a whistle wailed in the distance, and the iron beneath Flapjax’s feet began to vibrate. Flapjax quickened his pace. He turned around and saw the train speeding along as the whistle continued to blow.
Flapjax ran as quickly as he could down the railroad tracks, eyes focused on the other side of the bridge. The train was approaching with more speed than Flapjax had in his feet, and he really didn’t want to get flattened.
Just as the train was gaining on Flapjax, he made it to the other side of the bridge and launched himself off of the tracks. He tumbled ungracefully down a steep hill of rocks, grateful that stuffed bears didn’t bruise. He had made it, but there was no time for celebrations…he needed to find Libby!
Post 3: Fa-bewm!
Flapjax fixed his ivy hat and grabbed his bow and arrows from where they had landed after his dive from the railroad tracks, and he followed the voices of the neighbor boys to a fort in the middle of the island.
There was Libby, sitting on a cut-up log on the side of the fort. She was busily drawing away on her notepad. Flapjax smiled. It was just like Libby to be focused on her mission while captive.
The neighbor boys were busy gathering sticks along the edge of the water. Flapjax didn’t know what the sticks were for, but he didn’t want to stay to find out. He crawled over to the fort then tip-toed around, edging along the side of the little fort until he was right behind Libby. He pulled out one of his arrows and gently tapped Libby’s back with the end of the stick. She screeched and jumped, turning around in all directions to find her foe.
“Flapjax!! What are you doing here?” She looked at Flapjax’s muddy face and her eyes grew very large. “You are filthy! Mom is going to flip out!”
Flapjax put his paw to his lips and pointed toward where the neighbor boys were playing beside the water.
“Are you here to rescue me?” Libby asked with a crooked smile. “You’re so brave, Flapjax!”
Flapjax stood up a little taller, proud of his accomplishment.
“But we can’t escape…they have weapons! We’ll be shot!
Flapjax grabbed dirt from the ground around him and threw it at Libby, covering her with mud and bits of leaves. Good, now she was camouflaged too!
“FLAPJAX! What are you doing? Now I’m going to be in trouble, too!”
First Flapjax needed to get them off the island and away from the enemy boys, then he would worry about what his punishment would be. (He was sure it would involve a bath at the very least…)
They needed to distract the boys. Flapjax pulled out an arrow, and holding it up to the bow, he let it fly with a loud “FA-BEWM”. It landed on the other side of the small island in a pile of leaves. The boys glanced up from their digging and stared in the direction of where the arrow landed. He shot another arrow. “FA-BEWM!” It flew through the air and hit a tree on the other side of the fort.
The neighbor boys jumped up and ran towards the sound…leaving Flapjax and Libby alone on their side of the island. They quickly pulled the plank bridge over to the water’s edge and heaved it across. It settled with a thud on the far shore. Libby and Flapjax sprinted across the plank just in time to see the neighbor boys running back in their direction. Libby was safe on the other side. Flapjax was close behind.
Just as Flapjax was feeling pretty confident in his escape, the plank shifted beneath him. Before he knew what was happening, the plank flipped over, and he was falling head-first into the rushing water.
“Flapjax, nooooooo!” Libby screamed. She grabbed for a paw, but it was wet and covered in muddy slime. Flapjax slipped from her grasp and was swept in the current down the stream.
The neighbor boys stood across the water from Libby, watching as she lost her best friend in the rapids. But instead of laughing or shooting off more arrows, they sprang to action. They pulled a long pole from a pile of branches on the side of the hut and ran along the water until they were ahead of Flapjax as he struggled to stay afloat in the murky water. They positioned the pole across the stream.
“Grab the other side!” Ben, the older neighbor boy, shouted at Libby, and together they waited for Flapjax.
“Flapjax, grab the pole!” Sammy shouted. “NOW!”
Flapjax reached his arms out of the water and grabbed for the pole. It was slippery, and he was slippery, but he managed to get his arms around the pole, and he held on tightly. Ben and Sammy heaved the pole up and lifted a very soggy Flapjax slowly out of the water.
Flapjax was safe, but he was back on the other side with the enemy.
Were they the enemy though? They had just saved him. He wasn’t sure anymore…
“Well, you’re safe, Flapjax, but now we have no way of getting back to the other side.” Ben said with a hint of panic in his voice.
“Yes, you do!” Libby shouted from the other side of the stream. Dad was standing beside her with an angry face and a fresh plank poised for rescuing…
Once everyone was back on the safe side of the stream, Dad led them all out of Downtheback and back up to the house for snacks and some much-needed baths. Libby, Flapjax, and the neighbor boys were silent as Dad reviewed the rules of Downtheback with them.
- Rule number 1: If they ever wanted to go exploring again, Dad had to be there with them.
- Rule number 2: They were never to cross the stream again.
- Rule number 3: And they were never, ever to go exploring on the railroad tracks! (How had he known??)
Flapjax thought about his adventure as he was scrubbed down in the sink that night. He was lucky. He didn’t even know where the stream ended…what if he had been washed away into the ocean?
He pictured a shark chomping down on his fluff and he shivered. He was definitely more of an indoor bear…