“Like Little Mice Mocking His Humiliation”
By Morgan Givens
Speakers on the left: Their voice is heard more in the left ear.
Speakers on the right: Their voice is heard more in the right ear.
Speakers that are centered: Are heard equally in both ears.
[Brackets holding bold and underlined words are sounds effects. EX: Clanging of pots. City Traffic. Students Talking]
Speakers: With italicized words are signing
Host Intro: Welcome to the series premiere of Flyest Fables. I’m Morgan Givens, and I’m the creator, of what you’re about to listen to...Flyest Fables is a biweekly audio drama of an interconnected story told in an immersive, creative and fun way. If you haven’t yet, please take a moment to subscribe to the show and remember to leave a review. And now, let’s get this show on the road. Today’s story is called, “Like Little Mice Mocking His Humiliation”…
[Fade up of empty bus parking lot. Foot steps racing down school steps and running.]
Antoine’s Narrator: Antoine flew down the front steps of the school. So desperate to outrun the bullies that chased him each day, that he’d sprinted from math class before the final bell, even though he knew it would earn him detention from Ms. Spirits when she saw him the next morning. It didn’t matter. Better the safety and relative solitude of detention, than the battering of fists on his face. Or the painful words that seared his soul. He wasn’t strong enough to fight them -- to win -- and so instead, he ran. Down the momentarily silent halls, ignoring the call of his teacher behind him
Ms. Spirits: “Class has not been dismissed!”
Antoine’s Narrator: running so fast that the ground should have caught fire beneath his feet, long before he exited double doors out front.
[Fade in of the rumbling engines of school buses]
A’s Narrator: After years of learning how to avoid his tormentors, he knew he’d be safe if he could just make it past the busses.
[Sound of school bell followed by the sound of children laughing, talking and exiting the school building]
Antoine: “Oh, no,”
A’s Narrator: He could hear the other students streaming out of the school at the ringing of the bell. Maybe if he just tried to blend in, that might work? He pulled the hood of his sweatshirt up.
[Sound of running stops]
Antoine: “Alright, just act normal and everything will be absolutely okay.”
Bully 1: “Yo, I think that’s him.”
Bully 2: “Aye, you right.”
Bully 3: “Aye, Antoine! Antoine!”
Antoine: “Everything is not okay!”
A’s Narrator: Antoine jerked at the shouts, peered over his shoulder. They’d spotted him. The three boys who’d been tormenting him since kindergarten. He could still taste the glue in his mouth he’d been forced to eat back then, could remember being pushed into the pool in third grade, even as he tried to convince them not to. His computer had been in his backpack, his school books, everything. Then he’d walked the lonely, solitary, trip back home. His shoes squeaking in his ears, like little mice mocking his humiliation. Here he was, in sixth grade, still fleeing from the same boys. Everyday during the school year.
[Sound of running begins again]
A’s Narrator: He took off, once more. Hoping that maybe he’d finally outrun them today. It wasn’t possible that they would always catch him. At some point, the universe would have to offer him a break. A peace offering. Something to make him remember he had value to the world. He peered over his shoulder, a mistake he should have learned from, due to his insatiable love for horror films. Ya never look behind you, cause soon as you do, well that’s when the bad guys get ya, and true to form, he tripped, falling so quickly it was almost as if some unforeseen hand of fate had reached up and grabbed hold of his ankle. Sending him crashing, sprawling, to the asphalt.
Antoine: “I guess this is how it ends. Me, here, in the middle of a parking lot.”
A’s Narrator: Antoine sighed to himself, resigned to his fate, when his eyes fell upon a tear in the chain-link fence surrounding the school. A tear that hadn’t been there earlier. He knew, he’d been forced to hop that same fence just that morning, when trying to escape the bullies on his way to school. His if asthma wasn’t so bad, by this point, he should’ve been the school’s best athlete, but he would’ve remembered a shortcut like that. Especially one, where daisies, bright yellow with life, formed two neat little lines on either side of the gap -- making a path. As if saying to him,
Daisies: “Come on, Silly. They’re gonna get you any minute.”
A’s Narrator: He pushed himself up, and ran to the fence, bursting through into the other side. Pausing for a moment, he tempted fate once again and looked back. His tormentors had stopped running, and stood, dazzled in the parking lot.
Bully 1: “Where is he?”
Bully 2: “How did he do that...”
Bully 3: “He was just right here!”
A’s Narrator: He turned around, ready to break into a light jog, but his foot caught on a root, tweaking his ankle
A’s Narrator: And he was forced to hobble along.
[Schoolyard sounds all fade away. Fade in the sound of a quiet park. Birds are heard chirping.]
A’s Narrator: The sounds of the school slipping away, until he was cocooned in nothing but wilderness.
Antoine: “This is...is this park new?”
A’s Narrator: None of it looked familiar to him, and he was beginning to grow tired, the pain in his ankle stretching right along with his fatigue when he saw a bench. And on that bench, was a book. Deep blue, inlaid with silver, his name etched across it in gentle, flowing script. He gasped as he sat, taking it in his hands. Looked quickly around.
Antoine: “who left this here? Hello?”
A’s Narrator: But the only response was his only shaky breath, and the quick worrying of his mind.
A’s Narrator: He had to try calling again, but receiving the same silence in response, he turned to puzzling over what was clasped between his hands, and opened the book. Inside...it was blank. He flipped it back closed to make sure it was indeed his name on the cover, and it was. Opened once more. Still blank.
Antoine: “What’s the point of some random book, in some random forest, on some random bench with MY name on it, if it’s blank?!”
A’s Narrator: And so he did, what he always does when overwhelmed by stress. Antoine opened his mouth, and began to sing.
Antoine: Where do I go from here / i’m always bound by chains of fear / what must I do now I’m here / I don’t know where to go from here
A’s Narrator: The book began to warm in his hands, a comforting heat, and as he stared down, words began to fill the page. Sprinting with the same speed he used when he fled, the words popping into existence before his very eyes.
Antoine: “Who’s doing this?”
A’s Narrator: Again, no response, so he began to read. Losing himself in the mysterious scrawl on the page…
[Sound of wind chimes. Sound of the park fades away. The roar of a crowd swells up. We’ve fallen into the world of the book.]
Keisha’s Narrator: Keisha had left her home, three weeks ago. Triumphant and upbeat, the heralds singing her praises, trumpeters lined the castle walls
[Sound of trumpets. A celebratory song. Short and brief.]
Keisha’s Narrator: while the quartermaster shouted out last minute instructions on combat. Her hand had flown to the emerald encrusted sword that rested against her back still safe in its scabbard and she waved back in the direction of the quartermaster’s voice though it was quickly swallowed up by the throng of people who greeted her at the gate, their voices mixing until they seemed of one cry. A cry of hope and continuation. Their hands slapping her back as they wished her well. The fate of their kingdom rested upon her shoulders, and she squared them, bearing herself up proudly beneath it. Eager to show she could be trusted to save her mother. To save them all. It would be a marvelous adventure.
[Fade out of the roaring crowd. Fade up howling desert winds and the sound of someone walking in sand]
Days later though, alone and trudging through the desert, she wondered if maybe she hadn’t realized just how hard it’d be to reach her destination. Keisha had been warned all her life about the dangers that lay in wait in the desert. The scorpions with stings that lit a person’s body with internal fire, and the hazy waves in the distance that played with her mind. Making her see things that weren’t there, but the warnings couldn’t have prepared her for the scorching heat or the thirst that cracked the back of her throat like the soil of the earth during a drought.
Princess Keisha: “How much longer am I supposed to do this?”
PK’s Narrator: It didn’t matter how long she walked, how closely she monitored the sun to stay on track, the mountain that jutted into the sky, sharp and fierce -- surrounded by the Evergreen Oasis -- never got any closer. In fact, the more she moved towards it, the further away it seemed to be. The seers had told her it would take no more than a week to reach the mountain. Another week to reach its peak, and if she were lucky and followed their instructions, she could defeat the dragon that slumbered at its peak, and recover the flower needed to heal her mother. The Queen of Orleans. Her mother had been too weak to see her off, but had clasped her daughter’s hand to her chest, as she lay in bed,
The Queen: “I am so proud of you. I know you can do it, Keisha. You can save me, but you must stay focused once you leave. Pay attention to what the seers say to you.”
PK’s Narrator: She’d nodded, too overcome by emotion to respond. However, it now appeared that the seers could not actually see everything. The trip had been plagued by misfortune. Her provisions were running low, the water she’d packed might last her another day, two if she deprived herself further. She pressed on still, the sword her mother had given her, weighed heavy on her back. The scabbard digging into her shoulder blades and she sighed. Frustrated. Tired, and alone.
Princess Keisha:“Lot of good this thing’ll do me if I never make it.”
PK’s Narrator: The sand was everywhere now. It scraped against her, embedded in her clothes. Its grit filled her mouth, dried out and stung her eyes. Until every blink was a small agony. She didn’t understand. It didn’t make any sense to her. She’d been so careful to listen to the instructions from the seers. She’d never veered once from her path, and yet she felt stuck. The Oasis still so very far away and at her back -- lost on the edge of the horizon -- was home.
[Fade up the sound of a crackling fire. The sound of the dessert winds has grown softer.]
At the end of the first week, on her own, in the darkness of the desert, while the stars twinkled brightly in the sky as if in conversation with one another, Keisha had curled up next to the flames of her small fire, and turned her back to the mountain -- She’d stared off, across the distance at the light of the Kingdom of Orleans. Filled with life, the people of the kingdom still happy. Nobody knew how ill the Queen was. Just Keisha, the palace doctor and the seers. And it was up to her, to figure out how to save her mother, to save them all.
Princess Keisha:“It’s impossible,”
PK’s Narrator: the weight of her task had finally hit her.
Princess Keisha: “To think that I could, that I’m able...it’s a joke.”
PK’s Narrator: The thoughts swirled around in her mind, filling her head with a pained clamor, until she finally drifted off to sleep.
[Fade out the sound of the fire. The winds in the desert grow louder]
PK’s Narrator: She awoke the next morning throwing off the blankets that staved off the late night desert chill, unable to believe her eyes .Keisha scrambled to her feet. Looked wildly around. She was back home. Less than a day’s ride away from the gates of Orleans. There was no mistaking it. Keisha could smell the fresh caught fish at the market, could hear the gentle lull of merchants setting up shop, and her stomach plummeted. Right down to the soles of her feet.
A week traveled.
A week lost.
All in a night’s sleep. How could such a thing be? She knew the desert between the Kingdom of Orleans and the Evergreen Oasis was filled with magics unexplained, but this one. The seers didn’t tell her. They never let on. A soft hum of anxiety spurred by possible failure began coursing through her.
Princess Keisha: “What on earth is happening? How am I--”
PK’s Narrator: Keisha was nothing if not determined, and so, she set off again. The pomp and circumstance of her initial departure no more than a hazy memory that gnawed at her, reminding her of just how many people would be disappointed if she were to fail. By the end of the second week, her sword’s scabbard had rubbed her shoulders raw, until she’d been forced to wear it about her waist. Some evenings, she was so afraid to awake at the gates of Orleans, that’d she’d taken to walking through the night, grabbing only a few moments of rest. A few moments before the sun crested over the sand dunes, and awoke her once more.
Except, it didn’t matter. Whenever she laid down, facing home, no matter how far she had walked, how long she’d gone without sleep. She awoke a day or so away from the gates. An exhausting sprint away from the home where she’d spent her entire life. All the while, her mother grew iller. And the kingdom’s dependence on her, grew stronger.
The beginning of the third week, Keisha pressed herself up from the ground,
Princess Keisha: “I can do this. I know I can. I just...I’ve got to figure out how.”
PK’s Narrator: She hadn’t slept in three days, and took a small sip of water, began gnawing on a small piece of dried fruit before, and headed once more towards the mountain, her eyes locked like an eagle on its shape in the distance. Even as she watched her destination, she couldn’t help by be pulled towards her past. Could hear the quartermaster lecturing her during one of their sparring sessions. Always lecturing with words that lashed her ears, and sharp stings from the flat end of his blade when she missed a parry, overlooked a counterattack, failed in her training.
The quartermaster was swift as a sparrow,
QuarterMaster: “I am not behind you. Why do you spend so much time there?”
Princess Keisha: “You could be! You’re so fast!”
PK’s Narrator: And, it was true. The quartermaster was, well a master, of distracting her just long enough for what -- in the heat of real combat -- would be a fatal blow. Keisha would whirl and spin, ducking under his attacks lost in the moves he’d made before. The embarrassing ways he’d defeated her before, and she would lash out when she saw an opening. Coming so close to victory, only to have it dashed by the hiss of the quartermaster's boots behind her, and she would spin to defend her back, only for him to strike her from the front.
Princess Keisha: “You’re cheating!”
QuarterMaster:“Is it cheating? Or do you spend far too much time pondering over the past? Learn from it, Keisha, but don’t get lost.”
PK’s Narrator: She could almost feel his disappointment today. Could see his brows scrunch together as if wondering whether she were actually a princess. And if she were, did she have what it took to accomplish this quest? It would be so easy to turn around. To go back home, and admit defeat, and she so wanted to. The mantra echoed like a song in her head, coming to her across the desert winds:
[low, haunting song fades up from the left. It peaks right before she begins to sing, and fades away]
Song of Doubts: Turn around, turn around. There’s something there behind you. Turn around, turn around. This thing it will defeat you.
PK’s Narrator: Keisha shook her mind clear and kept her eyes solidly on the mountain that seemed so large and immoveable. The mountain that had haunted her waking dreams for the past three weeks. Had been most prevalent within her nightmares. The mountain that held the salvation of her mother and the entire Kingdom of Orleans.
Princess Keisha: “My mother, who’s the entire reason I’m here. I will not turn around”
PK’s Narrator: She put one foot in front of the other, banishing the voice from her mind that implored her to look back, to turn around for one brief moment.
Princess Keisha: “My mother. Who will die if I fail.”
PK’s Narrator: She took another step.
Princess Keisha: “She believes in me!”
[Whooshing sound. Like air through a tunnel. When it ends, the sound of the desert is gone. It’s been replaced by the sound of a rainforest. Birds are chirping. A small waterfall can be heard nearby.]
Princess Keisha: “Oh my god...Oh...my god.”
PK’s Narrator: Keisha whirled in place, could feel her heartbeat thrumming in her ears, before she sank to her knees with relief.
Princess Keisha: “I don’t understand…”
PK’s Narrator: The Evergreen Oasis had been days away on the horizon, and now...now she was deep inside of it, kneeling at the edge of a small pond that was fed by the rush of a waterfall as water flowed from the mountain’s icy peak. She peered around, still disbelieving, lost in the lush greens nestled around her. Plants that lay low to the ground, with leaves that seemed to open up towards her as inviting as hug. And the butterflies that danced around her in welcome, their silver wings leaving trails of glitter behind them as they flew.
Princess Keisha: “This is incredi--”
[A cellphone begins ringing and vibrating.]
Princess Keisha: “This is incredible--”
[The cellphone rings and vibrates again.]
Princess Keisha: “This is incred--”
[The cellphone continues to ring and vibrate. The windchimes are heard again. The sound changes from the oasis with Keisha, to the sound of a quiet and secluded park. We are back in the world outside the book.]
A’s Narrator: Antoine sighed in annoyance and frustration, at the interruption and pulled his phone from his pocket. The story had just started getting interesting, too. He glanced down at the caller ID.
Antoine: “Oh dang!”
A’s Narrator: And he answered quickly, knowing better than to make them wait.
Antoine: “Hey Mom…”
Mom: “Antoine, Antoine where are you?”
Antoine: “At school? Near the bus parking lot”
Mom: “It is six PM. I’M at the school and you most certainly are NOT. I’m driving back around there now. Don’t you move.”
A’s Narrator: He hurriedly stood, moving as quickly as he could towards the tear in the fence, hissing with pain as he put pressure on his tender ankle.
[Car is heard rolling over towards Antoine. It stops and idles.]
A’s Narrator: His mom’s car pulled up alongside the fence just as he stepped through.
Mom: “Baby, how did you do that?”
Mom: “I was looking and...you weren’t there, and then you just...were.”
A’s Narrator: He turned to point back behind him,
Antoine: “I came through that…”
A’s Narrator: The hole was gone, as if it’d never been. The fence patched good as new, and his jaw dropped.
Antoine:“Mom, I swear! It was just right --”
Mom: “Get in the car. We’ll talk about it later.”
Antoine: “You’ve gotta believe me! I went through this hole, cause I was getting chased, okay and then when I got inside there was this --”
Mom: “Now. Antoine.”
A’s Narrator: He walked around and climbed inside. Even though he knew he was in trouble, and his mother was furious with worry, he couldn’t keep the smile from spreading slowly across his face, as he ran his fingers over his name. His name, in that gentle, flowing, silver script across the cover of The Book.
Host Outro: This wraps up the very FIRST episode of Flyest Fables. Make sure to subscribe on itunes, Stitcher or where ever you get your podcasts And leave a review! It helps others find the show. And if you enjoyed this episode, please tell your friends! Tweet them, drop an email, or send them a quick text. I’d so appreciate it.
Flyest Fables was created, written, and produced by me, Morgan Givens.
Editorial assistance was provided by Bayla Metzger, Catherine St. Louis, Amanda Williams and Stephanie Logan.
The Flyest Fables cover art was created by Gracie Canaan.