While Gretta and her friends were winding their way carefully through the brush and rocky trail back to their friends, strange events (as if you didn't know) were unfolding back at the camp.
You'll recall that a seemingly miraculous book with the title "Guide to Knowhere" had fallen from the sky and hit Rattus on the head, but when the little band opened the book, they found the pages empty, except for one page that said "The End."
"But what's between the beginning and 'The End'?" whispered Mozes, putting to words what everyone was obviously thinking.
"And is this the wondrous book written by the mysterious teacher of wisdom called The Guide?," muttered Tea, almost to himself, so that if it was not for the quiet, no one would have heard.
"And, confound it, what kind of place is this where books fall from the sky, and why, of all possible landing places in the whole wide world, on my head?" Rattus was speaking and rubbing the small but painful bump on his head. His words had a tone of indignation, as if heaven itself had just insulted him, and all the more as there was nothing written in the book that was worth his pain. (Adding insult to injury, as they say.)
Everyone was now talking all at once. Everyone talking. Nobody listening. But through the cacophony pierced a single shrill voice, like a whistle in a whirlwind:
"Yoo...hoo. We're ba..ack! And looky what we found?" A small pack of creatures crawled, scratched, pranced and waddled their way to the group, led by Getta. She was the one prancing as if on toe shoes, and grinning ear to ear, holding up a key. She looked like an Olympian Torch runner (but on toe shoes) at the opening of the games, fully aware that all the world was watching. "Yoo...hoo! A magic key to Nowhere."
"Well....There it is! Another mystery. I'm sooo glad," exhaled Rattus, rolling his eyes upward in frustration and adding: "Can we move on now, or do we plan to build a civilization on this spot?"
Tea Rat: "Now, now, dear fellow, let's not lose our civility. Let's hear what Gretta has to say." "Yes, my dear," Tea said to Getta. "What is that key you're holding?"
"I haven't the foggiest idea!"
Rattus: "Oh, for the love of... Travelers needing directions? Home? Hearth? Do any of these things ring a bell? Is anyone else's stomach rumbling like Vesuvius? By Tane's whiskers, can we walk while we talk? Let's either build a civilization here or find one."
Mozes: "He has a point. Let's keep walking and maybe the mysteries of the book and the key will reveal themselves in time."
"That's it!" Tea Rat spoke far too loud, as if everyone was hard of hearing but him. Realizing his over-enthusiasm, he said in a more hushed but still excited tone:
"That was the other part of the ancient fragment about the book. We're not supposed to know everything about our journey and its surprises along the way. We're only supposed to take it. No one is a spectator, see? We're all on a journey, and we can only read about our past travels, not our future ones. The past informs the future. That is what the ancients called becoming wise."
"You're right, old fellow," said to Tea to Rattus. "Neither your book nor Gretta's key were meant to stop our progress while we figure them out. We're supposed to keep moving ahead. Whatever we need to know for the rest of our journey will reveal itself in time. If we are paying attention, that is."
"The journey into the unknown IS the adventure. Got it," said Mozes.
"That's the first logical, sensible and promising thing I've heard all day," said Rattus, already walking briskly down the trail without waiting for the others.
But only Tea noticed that for all his protests about falling books, bumps on the head, and rumbling stomachs, Rattus still had the mysterious book clamped securely in one paw, like a mother holds on to her child's hand so as not to lose it in a crowd, his other paw still rubbing his head. "He's no fool," thought Tea to himself. "He wants all the help he can get just like the rest of us."
Meanwhile, Gretta looked at her key as if it was the gift of the gods, held it tightly in her fist, and pranced forward on her toes.
The journey continued at last.
By Rattus Scribus©