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Don't Talk to Strangers

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At first I didn’t know what to say. “Well, how’s it going?” the duck repeated as he stared up curiously at me.

“Uhhh…” I stood with my mouth open. I had wandered off the pier onto a lonely wood dock to witness the last of the sun’s peachy-orange rays crawl behind the horizon, but as I had stood leaning on the railing this strange fellow had shown up.

The duck’s feet slapped against the wood as he waddled closer. “Come now,” he nearly squawked, “I asked a question. How are you?” The fading sun reflected off his green feathered head as he continued to stare patiently.

I glanced behind me, but there was no one there. Seagulls screeched and bickered about the pier and docks. I looked back down in front of me. Did that duck just…talk?

The seawater quietly lapped against the weathered boards of the dock, and a few odd boats creaked occasionally as they leaned back and forth, tugging against their ropes, but the area was silent otherwise. There was no one who could have spoken or could have even made a noise.

The duck ruffled his feathers, becoming impatient. I’m sure if ducks could frown, that’s what this duck would have been doing at the time. He tilted his head to one side and examined me carefully. “I say, can you even speak, daft creature?”

Now I was certain that he had spoken. Maybe the salty air has gotten the better of me. Of course ducks can’t talk. …Can they?

“Well what do you know about that?” The duck quacked to himself, “Smart enough to walk on two legs but it can’t even speak! What a shameful thing.” He shook his head and began to waddle off.

It did talk! “Hey, wait a just minute!” I yelled. “I can too talk, and what right do you have to call me ‘daft’? That’s not polite at all!” I griped.

The duck turned back, pleasantly surprised. “Well now! So you do have some wits about you. Took you long enough to open your bumbling trap.”

I frowned at his curtness and crossed my arms. “Look here Mr. Duck,” I began.
“That’s Mr. Mallard, if you please,” he quacked indignantly, regaining his frown-like expression.

“Quaint. I’m Jim. Now if you’ll excuse me. Mr. Mallard, may I ask how...” I paused, beginning to feel the queerest tingle in the tips of my fingers. I held my hand out and squinted at them, trying to remember where I had felt that same strange sensation before.

Mr. Mallard waited, watching me gaze aimlessly at my own fingers. “I say, is something wrong?” he piped up.

I didn’t look back at him. “Funny,” I mumbled, “I can feel this weird tingle in the tips of my fingers, and I can’t recall where I’ve felt it before. I think it’s starting to spread, too.”

Mr. Mallard’s eyes widened in alarm. “Jim, listen to me! No matter what happens you have to—Jim? Are you listening? This is important!”

I glanced back down at him, still holding my fingers up. “Hmm? What’s that?” I asked. The tingle had spread and become a black fuzz in my brain. Mr. Mallard was looking a bit blurry by now.

“Jim! Jim! Can you hear me? Jim!” I woke to find myself lying on cold, damp boards with my friend Rodney kneeling over me, trying to shake me awake. “Jim, are you alright?” he asked.

I sat up. “Rodney?” I looked around the dock. “What happened? And where’d that duck go?”

His brows crinkled down over his eyes in consternation. “Duck? What are you talking about? You tripped on a board as you were walking down the dock.”

I rubbed the back of my head. I think I recall that tingling feeling now… I’d felt it when one of my limbs had fallen asleep and I’d tried to move it. “Well I guess that would explain the talking duck,” I laughed, starting to stand up.

“Talking duck?” he questioned. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“Yeah, it’s just that he was about to tell me something really important, but then I woke up. Oh well.” Just then I spotted a green-headed duck out on the water. Mr. Mallard! “Hey, wait! Mr. Mallard!” I yelled across the water. “What was it you were going to tell me?”

The duck rubbed its beak against its feathers a few times and stared back unintelligently. “Uh, Jim… I think we should get you home,” Rodney insisted.

Perhaps I am just going crazy, I thought to myself. We turned and started to walk back down to the pier.

“Oh, Jim!” a voice quacked over the water. I whipped my head back in surprise. “I was going to say,” Mr. Mallard hollered, “That no matter what happens, don’t listen to anything the seagull says.” With that he began to paddle away.

“What? What seagull? Hey, wait!” I called. “Mr. Mallard! Come back!”

Rodney was looking especially concerned now. “Um, come on Jim, let’s get moving…” He began to tug me off down the dock. I sighed in disappointment.

“Jim!” I heard the duck’s voice yell again. “I forgot to mention something. Watch out for the board!”

Rodney was still pulling me down toward the pier as I looked back at Mr. Mallard. “Board? What board?” A moment later I felt my black sneaker catch on a board and my face began to come crashing down onto the dock. “Oh, ouch,” I groaned as I rubbed my head.

A blurry, fat white blob was standing in front of me. “Ello, mate!” I heard its voice squawk. I blinked and stared at the chubby little seagull before me. “Ow’s it going?” he asked cheerily.

Oh no, not again…

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MaxineA said...
Oct. 21, 2013 at 7:35 pm
I like this, it's almost like Alice in Wonderland, but it has a kind of realism that keeps you grounded while AIW makes you all light headed (metaphorically speaking) while you read. It's really good. :)
SaraegaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. replied...
Oct. 23, 2013 at 9:16 am
Thank you :) I think it's the better of some of the short stories I wrote (it's one of the few I actually posted here). I enjoyed writing it.
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