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a children's story, or an approximate thereof by a dusty old soul

Something shook, something stirred, the duck's call had been heard. A twist of his snout, a flick of his tail, and off he was out and about! He was a rat, but a real sit fat cat. "Out of the way," he cried. "It's time to save the day!" Rushing past the lanky Giraffe, whizzing by the stubby Hippopotamus, wondering why at the crazy Baboon, about to get there all too soon. Suddenly, the clock hands went zoom, zoom, zoom, riding by on a witch's broom! The room started spinning like a hamster's wheel, faster and faster, and Rat let out a terrible squeal! Rat... "rat"... "Rat!"... "RAT!" Rat's eyelids went up like red curtains before a play, his paws lying by a bed of hay. Tap, tap, tap, a weird old fuzzy blue duck tapped against the glass walls of Rat's cage, ending his quiet nap.

"The Stuffed Kingdom is in major trouble, and we, the stuffed animals of the Stuffed Kingdom, need your help on the double! As you must know, since before anyone can remember our kingdom has had no sunrise or sunset, and this has always been creating all kinds of unrest. King Zef rules with might in the day, but he is so scared of the dark he leaves the sunlight on all night. Help us turn off the sunlight and make our nights right. We are going out of ours minds minding this, with this hot sun always shining! I know you could turn off the sunlight Rat, will you please, please do that?" Duck asked.

Rat mushed his face against the glass wall, trying to make-believe Duck was not anyone at all. "Yeah, yeah, King Zef leaves the sunlight on all night, and please, oh please turn it off and make everything alright! There's no way I can help you, what do I have to do to get this through to you? If there was a door here I would close it on you right now with a SLAM, yeah, that would make me feel about as happy as clam," and then Rat stopped to look Duck dead in the eye. "Sorry, but you're out of luck!"

Duck was ready for this, and imagined himself in Rat's shoes, to see what he could really use. Gone were his feet yellow and round, twirling around like yellow ribbons in the room unwound. Little pink rat feet puffed out under Duck in a cloud of smoke, all in one quick stroke. All around the room his new rat feet started running, and what Duck thought of was nothing short of stunning. 'Rat would surely like a hamster's wheel, why not make that part of the deal? And I bet Rat would love if it if we told him where the smelliest, yellowiest block of cheese is at, now that is an offer he would not be able to sneeze at!'

"Maybe I started off on the wrong foot, or maybe one of us woke up down on the wrong side of the bed, but why not listen to my offer instead of turning so red? Rat, not only could we build you a hamster's wheel, but I can tell you where the smelliest, yellowiest block of cheese is, now c'mon, please?"

As soon as Duck said “cheese”, drool fell from Rat's mouth like a waterfall, and there was no hiding his excitement at all. Secretly, Rat had wanted to be a hero all along, and this offer was all he could take, the hamster's wheel and block of cheese were just the perfect icing on the cake. Secretly, in the late night hours, when no one was watching, Rat would put on a old red cape and pretend to be a superhero with amazing powers. Rat already knew he could handle the heat but he did his best to act cool, afraid he would look like a big old fool.

Rat let out a heavy sigh, "Alright, I'll do it, I'll do it!"

Duck clapped and starting laughing, "I just knew it, I knew it!"

Duck took off the rat cage's lid, and Rat jumped out and landed in a monstrous blue sea of whirly strands, wild strings dancing around his feet, swirling, swirling, and swirling unlike any worldly thing. The stuffed animals gave him a greeting that could only be called manic, with Guerrilla beating powerfully on his drum of a chest, Horse clanging his bells, and Elephant trumpeting with his horn, making the scared Rat panic. Rat buried his head in his hands, wondering worried of their demands.

"Bonjour, Rat, sir, I am zee great Elephant, and zis is a honor," Elephant said as he held out his trunk and shook Rat's hand with it. "Pardon zee French accent monsieur, I was born with a French horn. So, I will let zee Guerrilla tell zis idea I cooked up for me."

Rat bounced up and down as Elephant shook his trunk during their handshake, until he felt quite drunk. Then Elephant gave Rat a hearty slap on the back and Rat shook like a cymbal while his ears popped like an old pimple.

"Is this just one of those tall tales Duck makes up all the time, or can those paws of yours really climb?," Guerrilla asked.

"Of course, rats can climb up any wall you show 'em, big or small!," Rat said with confidence, but in part he was lying, since he had never climbed a wall before, and he had no clue what he was in store for. To stay brave, Rat imagined himself as a knight in silver armor on a quest, ready to climb the castle wall and pass any knightly test.

"Excellent! It's late and King Zef is in bed snoring bubbles, so you should be able to climb up the wall and turn off the sunlight switch without any troubles. Then, we'll wait to see if King Zef gets out of bed, and if he doesn't than we'll start building a hamster's wheel tomorrow, and not only will you get that block of cheese, but fine red wine and French bread."

Rat starting pawing his way up the walls so blue, an endless sea of blue, until he was so lost his eyes were crisscrossed. Up, down, left, right, every way Rat went along the blue wall was wrong. His head hurt from trying to find new ways through the empty blue desert. Then, right when Rat was about to give up, the echoes of the stuffed animals yelling "look up, up, up" finally made their way to Rat's ear, and he looked up and saw that the sunlight switch was near. He ran as fast as he could and whacked the switch with his pointy black nose, and the sunlight's glow finally gave way to a jet black. Rat's paws slipped and came free from the wall and he slid onto the ground slowly, like sap rolling down a tree. All of the stuffed animals froze as King Zef started to twist his nose and wiggle his toes. Happily, King Zef kept on sleeping until hours later when his alarm clock started ringing, springing up as he rubbed his eyes open, head still dreamy and tingling.

King Zef started to yawn, but his mouth shut up right away when he saw the light was not on. 'I, I, I... who turned off my light, WHY? HEY, HEY, HEY... well, huh, it looks I'm still in one piece, well, alright, OKAY! That wasn't so bad, maybe mommy was right about monsters and ghosts, once you know they aren't real they are toast! You know, I might just not sleep with a light on tonight.'

King Zef got out of bed and made his way to the stairs while the stuffed animals stood perfectly still, not even moving a hair. Rat pretended to sleep curled up on some hay in the corner of his cage, like he always did, without a care in the world.

From that day on, the Stuffed Kingdom always had a sunrise and a sunset, and every stuffed animal got some much needed rest. Good as their word, the stuffed animals built Rat a beautiful hamster's wheel using parts from old toys and gave away the secret hiding spot of the block of cheese mom had been saving for a holiday. King Zef never did figure out where the hamster's wheel came from, and it is sad to say that mom was in tears when she went to get the block of cheese for Thanksgiving dinner and there was only a crumb. Oh, and of course when dad found out that the bottle of wine he had been saving for a special day was dry, and all the good bread had holes in it, he was hopping mad!

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