The Adventures of Faust
By Alyssa Polacsek
Once upon a time in a land not so far away, down by the pond filled with thousands of lily pads and more flies than one frog could ever consume without running the risk of turning into a piggy, there lived a frog who stood out amongst the backwash of green and springtime forest. His name was Faust. Faust was not a typical frog even by his looks alone. Faust was blazing orange and neon yellow with spindly legs that could keep him hopping hour-upon-hour extending farther and longer than the other frogs ever dreamed possible. Faust was what his mother oftentimes referred to as being “a hyperactive child.”
If he wasn’t playing leap frog or racing the others around the pond, Faust, in all of his glory with boundless energy could be found entertaining his friends with tales of kings and sorcerer’s, acting out all of the players as well as narrator. Faust would rally his listener’s to play their part with “gasps” and “awes” and “cheers” and “jeers” as needed, and they did so with joy. He would spin his tales until his last listener was beckoned home for dinner and he was left to amuse himself with an extraordinary ending after which he would hop home to see what his own mother had cooked for dinner.
Every once in awhile however, Faust’s mother would come tugging on his ear after calling his name repeatedly, ringing the dinner bell unnoticed by this boy’s “selective hearing.” On those occasions Faust would cry out in character “Let me go free!” and “This behavior is unjustified and will not go unpunished by the gods.” The crowd was spooked into believing Faust’s mother was the Evil Queen of Doom delivering him a horrible fate. Sometimes his mother played along and scared the crowd into believing she was wicked. And when she did not play along, they believed her to be wicked anyway, for Faust could be heard crying out in the distance as his mother huffed in her struggle to get him home.
Faust’s mother was not really wicked. For any mother that would play along in her son’s games surely cannot be all that bad. Faust knew this to be true and he loved his mother more than anything else in this world. She was his best friend and she worked hard to feed him, clothe him, bathe him, and tend to his skinned knees and chaffed scales when he had played too hard. Each night she tucked Faust in bed and spun a tale more magnificent than Faust had ever told.
Faust closed his eyes to sleep and began to drift to the lilt in his mother’s voice …at times a soothing, cunning whisper welcoming the journey and dream.
Faust found himself in a canoe struggling to paddle against the current in an urgent attempt to deliver a message to the Green Cat of Bangladesh. This is a task more difficult in nature due to the constant change in direction of the river, flowing sideways, upstream, downstream, and at times revolving much like a Ferris wheel. Up and down, around and around again and again. Back-and-forth, forth and back over and over until he found himself overturned and gasping for breath on the shore of Whimsy Manor… home of the Green Cat of Bangladesh.
Faust dragged himself out of the water. His canoe washed up on shore in bits and pieces beside him, scarcely recognizable. He rolled over thankful to be alive, and looked up at the sky dripping pink raindrops tasting of cotton candy. He stuck out his tongue and caught them there, laughing as they tickled his tongue and belly from the inside. With every laugh, bubbles floated out of his mouth, each filled with little rainbow colored fishes... hundreds of miniature fish bowls floating in the air above. Once high in the sky the bubbles would “pop” and the fish sang out “Geronimo!” as they somersaulted into the river with the grace and ease of an Olympian diver. Faust watched in amazement, cheering them on when he suddenly remembered the message he needed to deliver.
“Quick now! No time to waste!” Those were the words he remembered. But, what was the rest of the message? It was something important. He would be in big trouble if he didn’t remember what it was and deliver it straight away. “Oh, dear me!” Faust cried. “I best be on my way and hope upon hope something jogs my memory.”
Faust jumped up and his legs went wiggly beneath him. He jumped again and down he went once more.
“What?” Faust said. “Who said that?”
“I did! Down here.”
Faust looked down and waving a million or so little legs was a millipede. “The raindrops make your body limp, your thoughts silly, your mood giddy. Crawling helps rid it from your system.”
“I’ve never heard of such a thing.”
“Have you ever been to Whimsy Manor?”
“Why, no! I haven’t.”
“Welcome! Here in Whimsy, Bangladesh there is magic in every leaf, every grain of sand, every breath of fresh air; there is laughter and joy, belly rubs and tickled toes, moistened sunshine, dry showers, and wind blown hair. Nothing is as it appears. And everything is what it seems.”
“Not nearly as much as you think. And it’s thought about much less than that.”
Faust shook his head for he thought he was suddenly seeing double, and the millipede, which already had more than enough legs, now had double… if not triple!
“Crawl! Crawl! Faust crawled down to the water and back to the millipede who was fortunately ONE again!
“See?” said the millipede. “My name is Millicent! What’s yours?”
“Faust. I have an urgent message to deliver to the Green Cat of Bangladesh.”
“Well, we better get a move on it now, hadn’t we?”
“Why, yes!” cried Faust. “But, I cannot remember what it was!”
“Ahhh! You drank the rain, did you not?
“Yes. I did! What’ll happen to me?”
“The rain protects the Green Cat of Bangladesh from trespassers, monsters, and humans. But, fear not! If you are not one of the aforementioned the message will come back to you as we move closer to the manor.”
“You will take me there?”
“Of course, I will! Follow me!”
Millicent scrambled over rock and leaf, up hills and down ravine’s as Faust crawled, slowly gaining strength in his legs. They came upon a rope bridge when Millicent stopped.
“This is as far as I go! The bridge will only allow those to pass who have reason to cross. Each rung is capable of asking a question or posing a riddle. If you answer successfully, you can step forward. If you answer wrong, or not at all, the rung will snap sending you tumbling into Smelters Hole, turning you into lava. There are twenty-two rungs… twenty-two questions… twenty-two chances to deliver your message to the Green Cat of Bangladesh. Good luck!” And with that, Millicent scurried away into the underbrush.
Faust was worried. What if he didn’t know an answer? He may never see his mother again.
“Step here!” Faust turned his head sharply. A voice rang out from the first rung.
“Step here!” Faust pulled himself to his feet and stepped on the first rung.”
“OUCH!” It cried out!
“Sorry.” Faust sighed.
“I was only kidding!” said the rung.
“Oh!” Faust stood for a moment waiting for the rung to ask a question or say something. It said nothing. So, Faust stepped forward to the next rung. He waited. It too remained silent. Faust began leaping rung-to-rung with ease thinking, “This is great! I haven’t been asked one question. I’ll be with the Green Cat of Bangladesh in no time. The sooner there, the sooner I can go home!” Suddenly, “STOP!” And Faust froze in his tracks. He looked back and realized he made it to the middle of the bridge. All of the rungs behind him were gone. There was NO going back! And, forward remained to be seen.
“Who are you?”
“My name is Faust.” Silence again. Faust stepped forward. The rung behind him fell away. The rung he now stood on said, “Do you have any tea?”
“Why no. I have not any tea. I am sorry.”
He quickly stepped forward as the fell away.
“No need to say sorry to him.”
Faust stepped quickly again as the last rung fell away too. Each rung spoke faster than the last and with each step Faust demonstrated precision and speed. Five rungs left to go when a voice asked, “Who lives in the hole under the rug of the great oak tree?” Faust stood still. There was his best friend, Max the magical monkey who ate mud pies under the Maples and Mistletoe. He, as astounding as it may seem, lived under an Oak tree. Could it be him? Before Faust had adequate time to think he felt the rung give way when he blurted out, “MAX.” He stepped quickly. He was safe!
“Who was the pretty girl who made rivers run chocolate? The rung quivered. Faust panicked and screamed, “Ruth the raccoon who rummages for radiators to rap music and rum covered donuts and chocolates, chocolates, chocolates.” Safe again!
“He wore a sock on his wing and a hat on his foot and a glove on his head to stay warm.” Faust laughed, “That could only be Davis the darling devoted duck who remembers doddles are doodles and doodles are doddles and doddles =mc2.
“He rounded third for a homerun with hotcakes and sausages.” Faust claimed, “That’s Connor the cougar with claws made of copper and enough Clementine’s for all of the players.
“He is sleek and fast in the cold of winter but not nearly as big as a cow.” “My hunch is Logan the Lynx who leaps and does laps from the lake to the Appalachians with long languid strides for a taste of a lemon flavored lollipop. Faust stepped forward… off of the bridge when suddenly a whooshing sound came up behind him. ALL of the rungs that had fallen now swirled in the air singing “Hallelujah” in harmony as they returned to their original positions on the bridge.
Faust then felt something rubbing against his leg. He looked down to see a little black kitten wearing a green fedora with a feather. Faust scooped him up in his arms and said, “You’re just a kitten.” “Meow,” said the kitten. Faust scratched behind the kitten’s ears and touched his nose to his own nose when a black panther leapt over the manor wall landing at Faust’s feet. In one swipe the panther took the kitten by its scruff and tossed him towards a bowl of milk at the main entrance. The panther growled, moving slowly, lowering his face to meet Faust’s. Faust’s legs trembled. The panther too wore a green fedora and Faust realized this was the Green Cat of Bangladesh.
“You have a message for me!” snarled the great cat.
Faust had forgotten all about the message. In his attempt to cross the bridge it completely slipped his mind. He had been focused on NOT FALLING into Smelters Hole that he forgot all about the message.
“Well! Out with it!”
“My mother said my father is to come home NOW!”
“She did, did she?” said the Green Cat of Bangladesh.
“Yes! She said he is to come home now to tuck Faust in bed and kiss him goodnight. That’s me. I’m Faust!”
“I don’t know if I can do that Faust! I am the Green Cat of Bangladesh and I need your father to stay and help take care of Whimsy Manor.”
Faust was then surrounded by thousands of Kittens wearing green fedoras making horrible hissing sounds. They were loud and unnerving, rattling him to his core. He rolled over, stretched, yawned, reached up and turned off his alarm clock. His mother was kissing his cheeks, “Good morning my little darling! Time for breakfast.” Faust didn’t feel like getting out of bed yet. He was warm under the covers and was having a fantastical dream. He wanted to go back again.
“Come on! Outta’ bed sleepy head.”
“Awe mom! Do I have to?”
“Yes Faust. You do.”
Faust moped and tossed his spindly legs over the edge of the bed. His legs felt strong. He washed his face and smoothed his scales and went downstairs for breakfast. There was a green fedora with a feather hanging by the front door on the coat rack. Faust leapt with joy! “Daddy’s home! Mom! Daddy’s home!” Faust raced into the kitchen and there was his dad sipping a cup of Lily water with his mom.
“Of course he is silly! Where did you think he was?”
“The Green Cat of Bangladesh said she was going to keep him there… to help take care of Whimsy Manor.”
“Such an imagination.” She said.
“Whimsy Manor?” his dad croaked. “Come here kid! Give your dad a hug good morning.”
Faust gave his father a hug.
“We have something special for you Faust.”
“What is it?”
Faust’s parents led him to the pond. There, tied to a tree was a canoe.
“Merry Christmas Faust” they both cried.
“How’d you get it back?”
“Get it back? What do you mean? Did you go snooping for your presents this year?” said Faust’s mom.
“No. It broke to pieces on the river.”
“What river?” said his father?
“The one to Whimsy.”
“Oh Faust! You were dreaming sweetheart. There is no river in these parts… just a pond. There’s no Green Cat of Bangladesh… just your family, friends and neighbors. And none of us would let anything bad happen to you. And, there’s no Whimsy!”
“Come on son! Let’s take her for a cruise, shall we?”
Faust, along with his mom and dad, hopped into the canoe and paddled around the pond. Faust pretended he was a Native American Indian, paddling quietly, ducking under branches along the edge, whispering to his mom and dad to do the same. And, they did!