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Bottom of the Top

A Chapter by Keith Hughes

The Strange Normality
By J. Keith Hughes

Once upon a time there was a far away backward land called Normal City, or Normality. The name of this place was strange in itself because this town was far from being normal. Everything about this town was different from other towns. In Normality, the people lived outside in the forests, rivers, and in the treetops, while the animals of the town lived in fancy homes made of silver and gold. There, day was night and night was day. Does it sound confusing to you? Within this story you will find that many things seem to be mixed up, and maybe even a bit weird. The first thing I would like to ask when you read this story is to read it all once from front to back just for fun. Next, after you have read it read it again and find as many mixed up silly things that you can find. Last but not least have as much fun reading it as I did writing it. ENJOY!
Normal City was an enchanting place that glistened in the night sun. The most prestigious of the magical homes of precious metals lined the riverbeds of dry water. Others set near the creeks and river inlets for ease of transportation. This was certainly a town of distinctiveness. Drifting two hundred feet above the tallest building was the Sky Mansion. Home of Monarch Sarah, the butterfly, the mansion was made of solid gold and was surrounded by statues of humans posed in positions of war and defense. It was said that the Sky Mansion was a gift from the Gods of the Unknown, and was to be used as a palace of royalty and worship.
To the north of town were The Banana Vineyards and The Mountains of Fire that lit the sky in the darkest of days. To the south was the Land of the Forgotten. This was a land of complete mystery to the inhabitants of Normality. Stories were told of a monster that was so hideous and repulsive that the mere sight of the beast would render an animal helpless. Rumor was that no animal ever ventured to this land and returned to Normality.
Though the city had faired well throughout the years, all was not well in the grand city. Monarch Sarah was slowly losing respect of the towns citizens. Rumors of her belief that humans should be more than just pets were disturbing to her followers. Throughout the town, life was flourishing and animals lived together happily, but the life of the most famous of the citizens was in turmoil and a private detective had been asking questions around town regarding the disappearance of a prized human. All was not well in the grand city, not well at all.
Tori was quite a beautiful feline. She was the most famous of cats, and a vision to behold. She was an artist, well known for her paintings of different types of humans, her favorite animal. She lived in a grand house located in the middle of the renowned Dry River. Her house was perfect in every way. From the rolling green lawn located on the rooftop to the basement with three foot of dry standing water let in from the river. Her success was well defined within the confines of her home. Many of her famous paintings as well as awards and trophy cases lined the walls of each and every room. Her favorite and most remarkable piece of work was a six-foot hand carved statue of Bob, the human. Bob was a family pet and a companion to Tori for much of her childhood. To her, he was her best friend. One day two-years earlier, when Tori arrived home from a dinner at the Sky Mansion, Bob did not greet her as he did a hundred times before. Without a trace, Bob had disappeared. Tori searched and searched for her friend everywhere, but never found him. She dedicated this wonderful statue to him and placed it near the window of her upper level balcony. She loved the way the night sun seemed to bring the statue to life with its light. She hoped that someday Bob would return home.
Tori’s sister Haley was the owner of Normality Bank. She lived in a large silver home located just outside of town near The Banana Vineyards. And although she and Bob weren’t as close during her childhood, she knew what it meant to lose someone that you cared for. Haley had been married to Levi. He was handsome, strong, and very devoted to Haley. The problem was that Levi was a dog. Dogs and cats weren’t supposed to get married; at least that is what the laws said years ago. But, like all rules, they were changed. But, the citizens of Normality could not get used to the idea of cats and dogs being together. The couple was made fun of and treated unfairly. At times, they were not permitted to enter some places in town. And even though Haley and Levi were still very much in love, they decided it would be easier on both of them to live apart, for now. Haley knew how much her sister hurt inside and tried many times to get her to buy another human, but Tori just couldn’t. Tori wanted Bob, not just another human. Haley wanted to help so badly, that she hired the famous detective Thomas the Turtle. He was the greatest private investigator the City had ever known. “Slow and thorough,” was his motto.
Thomas had been on the case for several months. The job was tedious and he was running into dead ends everywhere he went. His search had led him through every area of the city, but when it came to humans no one wanted to answer questions. His investigation was failing and he was ashamed. One thing was for sure, he did not want to go to his client and tell her that he couldn’t handle the investigation. This case was becoming so complicated that it even rivaled his most difficult case ever; The Case of the Meatless Bone. That case had taken him two and a half years to solve. He had searched tirelessly, trying to find the bones missing from the city. Dogs day in and day out would complain of missing bones. It was only by a stroke of luck that Thomas had uncovered that Frankie Feline had a grudge to settle. She had been burying bones along the Road to Nowhere Important. Fortunately, Thomas had to drive down this road frequently. For everything important in town was at the end of the Road to Nowhere Important. It was pitch black outside, around noon; Thomas’ was on his way home from a long night. His shell had cracked and was in need of desperate repair. It also needed a good waxing, so he went ahead and had that done as well. He was very tired and starting to get sleepy. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a flash. He stopped and pointed his vehicle in that direction. It was eyes…glowing brightly, as if mirroring the lights from his vehicle. He turned them on real bright and got out to investigate. He walked over slowly as to not disturb the culprit. He knew he could not keep up with most on foot, so he knew he had to be careful. His heart raced, “Could I finally be done with this case?” he thought. There, sitting in a pile of dirt, with bones scattered all around was Frankie Feline. She was covered with soot, and mumbling something to herself about dogs being disgusting. She would giggle a little, and then seemingly get mad again, and the whole time through it all, she only looked up once and said, “Bones, what bones?” Case closed.
This case was still open. “Where could a human go?” Thomas asked himself. There were no signs of struggle, the locks at the house were not tempered with, and yet Bob was gone. Thomas had to think fast, which was not his way, to find some assistance. He has an old friend that just may be able to help.
Haley was becoming anxious. For days, she had not heard from her private investigator. She had spent the entire night at work, milling around and trying to keep her mind occupied. Not only was the case getting to her, but her thoughts were constantly interrupted by visions of Levi. She had not seen him the entire week. She felt as if her world was crumbling around her. She knew he was having a difficult time with the living arrangements as well, but they both knew it was for the best. And, in time, everything would be as it should be. No longer would they need to be secretive, hiding their love for one another. They knew they would be together; it was just a matter of time. Haley had decided to go see Levi after the bank closed. She hoped the surprise visit would lift both their spirits. It was nearly five in the morning, and the sun would be going down soon. Haley entered her watercraft and started on her way out of town. The water was particularly choppy due to the river work that was taking place all over town. Traffic was heavy and she was finding it difficult to curb her enthusiasm for seeing Levi. The water seemed long, but she had finally made it past her home, and was nearing the Mountain of Fire.
Levi’s home was on the West side of the mountain and was not the most beautiful of homes. It was not gold or silver, but it was the most unusual home in the land. First, the riverbed stops just short of the home and one must walk or have other transportation to get all the way to the house. Next, the home was constructed of stone and other materials used infrequently in Normality. On the front side of the home, the greenest of grass covered the entire ground level. There was not a drop of water near the house anywhere. The home had been in Levi’s family for generations, and is said to be the oldest home in the entire land.
Haley tied off her vehicle and started up the path to the house. The sun was just about gone now and Haley’s pace quickened. Haley paused, as she felt an eerie presence. Suddenly, she heard a growl, a bark, and a whimper, and then she heard nothing. She race to the house as fast as her legs could carry her. She arrived at the house only to find the front door open and the lights off. She called for Levi, “Honey, are you here?” There was no answer. She managed to find her way through the hallway and into the kitchen. She fumbled around and found the light switch and turned it on. Haley gasped when she saw the kitchen table. Levi’s bowl sat on the table. She knew it was his because it said Kibble on it in bright red letters. Others had made fun of Levi’s last name in the past, but he was so proud of it, he had it printed on all of his personal belongings. The bowl was also filled with tuna fish, a favorite of theirs. There was not another dog in Normality that had such distinguished tastes. On the floor, she saw Levi’s collar. It was mangled and torn and the buckle had been destroyed. Levi was gone. Haley sat on the floor, looked down, and cried. “Levi, where are you?”
Thomas awoke to the sound of someone knocking on his door. He complained to himself about the time of day it was, and how inconsiderate some animals were. He reached the door and said, “Who is it? Do you know it’s only two in the afternoon?” A voice from the other side of the door said, “It’s me Thomas, I got here as soon as I could.” Thomas opened the door and discovered his old friend Jonathan Jangles. Now, Jonathan was a peculiar type of animal. As a matter of fact he was the only friend that Thomas had that only had two legs. Being a monkey, Jonathan had always had a tough time making friends. He earned nicknames that he wasn’t very fond of as well. The worst was Hairy Human. Now, he had nothing against humans, he thought of them as great pets, but he didn’t like being compared to them all the time. He spent most of his younger days studying books, all kinds of books. If it had words in it, then he would read it. He was extremely intelligent and could figure out the most complex of puzzles. That is how he met Thomas. Years back, Thomas had spent a long time trying to solve a particularly difficult case. After two and a half years, he finally solved the crime. About a month later, Thomas found a letter, dated almost a year before from Jonathan. Jonathan had read about the case and researched the clues extensively. He then wrote a letter to Thomas of his findings. The letter had everything Thomas needed to find the criminal. It said that the suspect would be a cat, and the cat would be burying the bones in an obvious location. But, the mail had slipped behind a dresser, only to be discovered almost a year later. It was then, that Thomas called Jonathan to explain what happened. They had been close friends ever since.
The two detectives shared greetings and directly went upstairs to discuss the case. Thomas was slow, but he was not the type for idle chatting. He wanted to get this case solved immediately. His house was very modest compared to some of the richer areas of town, but it was just what Thomas needed; a home that he could put his head in, when his shell was feeling snug. Jonathan noticed that this case must really have the turtle in dire straits. There were traces of newspapers everywhere, as if Thomas was being potty trained all over again. Unwashed dishes, food containers, and dirty clothes filled most of the rooms in the house. The maid was definitely on vacation, so to speak. Once upstairs, the entered the turtle’s office. Pictures of Thomas with Monarch Sara and other City officials decorated the walls. Thomas was proud of his detective accomplishments, but he was not the type to talk about it much. They sat down and discussed the case from top to bottom. They threw around ideas, talked about old cases for inspiration, and what to do about the present case. The two sleuths decided that the best course for action was to combine their efforts by splitting up and searching alone. They would make contact every day by phone to discuss the case and any information that they could share. Thomas was glad to have Jonathan on his side and they both knew they would solve the case. Just as the meeting was coming to a close, the phone rang. Thomas excused himself to answer the call. “Hello?” Thomas asked. There was a silence coming from the other end. “Hello?” Thomas said again sternly. Again, there was no answer. Thomas slammed the phone down and muttered to himself, then looked at Jonathan and apologized for being interrupted. Before Jonathan could reply, the phone rang again. Once again, Thomas excused himself to his two legged friend. “Hello, who is this?” Thomas asked. He could hear a faint noise, but he wasn’t sure what it was. The sound was muffled and faded in an out and made it very hard to understand. “Hello, I cannot understand what you are saying, could you please speak up?” Thomas said. The phone went completely silent as if the caller had hung up. As Thomas pulled the phone away from his ear to hang up, he finally heard something he could understand. “I am sorry,” the voice said. Thomas was surprised and spoke, “Hello, may I ask who is calling?” “I am sorry Thomas, it is me, Haley, Levi is, is, he’s gone.” Thomas listened as Haley explained what had happened. Jonathan sat by curiously and tried to listen to the conversation. When Thomas hung up the phone, looked at Jonathan, took a deep breath and said, “This case just got a little more complicated.”

© 2018 Keith Hughes

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Added on January 3, 2018
Last Updated on January 3, 2018


Keith Hughes
Keith Hughes


Father, grandfather, teacher, coach, and amateur everything else. more..