Ralph The Rowdy Rooster. Chapter 8

Chapter 8

Cock-a-doodle-doo!

Cock-a-doodle-doo!

Edie woke up. She rolled over and looked at the clock:

6am

She rolled over again

Wait, what?

6am, the clock read. She wasn’t wrong, and she wasn’t dreaming.

Yeah, they did it!

She rushed into Yarrow’s room. He wasn’t bashing toy soldiers together. He was lying on his bed with a huge smile on his face.

“Good morning,” they chirped at Mum and Dad when they went into the kitchen for breakfast.

“You’re looking very happy and energetic today,” their Mum commented.

“Yes, Ralph woke up at 6 o’clock this morning, not at 4 o’clock.”

“Wow. How did you do it?” asked Mum.

“We got another rooster from Mr Hart on the next property, and we put that rooster in the pen with Ralph,” said Edie.

“Yeah, he just wanted a friend,” explained Yarrow.

That day at school, Mrs Kauff asked a question. Edie shot her hand up in the air.

“Yes Edie”

“Photosynthesis,” she answered.

“Correct, well done.”

At recess, Yarrow played handball again and made it to King. He stayed there all during recess, and he stayed in King all the way through lunch. He was unbeatable.

Yarrow and Edie were happy and relaxed when they got home from school. They dumped their bags and raced through the house towards Ralph’s pen.

“Where are you going in such a hurry?” asked Dad.

To play with Ralph and … they still hadn’t chosen a name for the new rooster.

“Well, you’ll need this,” and Dad handed Yarrow an extra bucket of food scraps.

Yarrow and Edie scattered the double dose of food scraps all over the pen, and tried to decide what they should call Ralph’s new friend. When the roosters finished eating, the children started chasing them all over the enclosure. They ran around and around and around while smiling and laughing with energy and happiness.

Suddenly, Ralph stopped. Then the new rooster stopped. So did Yarrow, then Edie. Ralph put his beak up in the air, like he was smelling something, and Yarrow and Edie copied him.

What did they smell?

PIZZA!

Image: Arib Neko

Ralph The Rowdy Rooster. Chapter 7.

Chapter 7

Cock-a-doodle-doo!

Cock-a-doodle-doo!

Edie woke up. She rolled over and looked at the clock:

4am.

She got up and walked into Yarrow’s room.

“This is our last chance,” she declared. “I’ve got an idea and I think it will work, but we have to walk all the way to Mr Hart’s property.”

“What’s your idea?” asked Yarrow, who was very tired and confused, but desperate to know how Edie planned to finally stop Ralph from waking up at 4am.

“I’ll tell you when we get there. We have to hurry. Get your gloves, beanie and rain jacket. Let’s go!”

Yarrow wanted to remind his big sister that it was cold and raining outside – and still dark. Then he remembered that Edie could be very determined. Not bossy, just determined.

Two intrepid little adventurers slid their cold feet into their gum boots, zipped up their rain jackets and started sloshing through the mud. Yarrow wasn’t enjoying the cold because he much preferred summer, but one thing he did like about winter is that he could see his breath. He found it fascinating. He couldn’t see anything this morning, though, just the wet ground in front of him.

When Mum and Dad woke up, all they saw were two pairs of gum boots missing from the veranda, and two sets of prints in the mud; some small prints, and some even smaller prints.

Meanwhile, Yarrow and Edie wound their way through the narrow bush trails that they’d walked so many times they could find their way in the dark, without even thinking. Yarrow started wondering about Edie’s brilliant plan, and all of the other methods they had tried in the last few months.

First, they’d talked to Ralph, in English and in Yarrow’s special language. They tried dancing, sport and cartoons, and even made a clock. They also thought about painting pictures of the sun or teaching Ralph to how to count, whisper or hold his breath, but they didn’t get to try any of those ideas because they fell asleep. They were always falling asleep.

On this cold winter morning, however, they stayed awake long enough to walk all the way up the slippery, steep hills and watch the sun rise over the trees, just as the rain stopped falling. It was a stunning sight.

Mr Hart greeted them with a mug of hot chocolate and they all sat on his veranda watching the world wake up. Not long after they finished their hot chocolate, the intrepid little adventurers were walking home with a slightly heavy container that Mr Hart had kindly given them. The container was holding something important, something very important.

Image: Arib Neko

Ralph The Rowdy Rooster. Chapter 6.

Chapter 6

Cock-a-doodle-doo!

Cock-a-doodle-doo!

Edie woke up. She rolled over and looked at the clock:

4am.

Another day, another battle to stay awake. Edie and Yarrow were so tired, and to make it worse, the mornings were getting colder, especially at 4am.

That afternoon, Edie was doing her homework, and Yarrow was watching cartoons. Suddenly, Edie heard a strange noise. It wasn’t plastic toys smashing together.

She heard it again.

I’ve heard that sound before, she thought to herself, but her tired brain couldn’t remember exactly what it was. Oh well, never mind, and she went back to finishing her homework. Well, actually, it wasn’t homework, it was the work she didn’t finish in class. Do you know why she didn’t finish it?

That’s right!

Eventually she managed to finish her homework and she decided to visit Ralph. She didn’t have a plan and she didn’t know what she was going to say. She thought that if she stayed in his enclosure for long enough, she might think of a brilliant idea.

When she entered, she was shocked by what she saw. Rather, she was shocked by what she didn’t see. She couldn’t see Ralph. She checked in all his favourite hiding spots, she called out his name and she ran around the pen. Nothing.

Where could he be?

This is not good, Edie knew. Ralph ate the family’s food scraps and made the soil good for planting seeds that became fruit and vegetables. Mum and Dad would not be happy.

She sat for a while and tried to brainstorm a solution, but it was no use. Plus, she was getting cold and hungry, as well as tired. She walked back inside and slumped on the lounge next to Yarrow while he watched his cartoons. She didn’t like his cartoons, but she was too exhausted to think.

Then she heard it again, the familiar noise.

It was very quiet, but it was coming from the lounge. She heard it again. It came from the space between her and Yarrow.

Wait, I know that sound, it’s Ralph. Edie looked around at her Mum, who was working on her laptop. Then she slowly lifted the blanket off the cardboard box between herself and Yarrow. She saw the airholes Yarrow had punched in it, and Ralph’s two little eyes looking up at her.

Yarrow and Edie looked at each other, then slowly at their Mum. Yarrow looked at Edie as if to say,

Don’t tell Mum. They both knew they would be in a lot of trouble for taking Ralph out of his pen.

“Why?” Edie whispered.

“To watch the cartoons,” Yarrow explained. “They help me relax, so maybe they’ll help him relax.”

Edie had to think quickly.

“Distract Mum,” she ordered her little brother.

Yarrow didn’t know what to do so he walked towards his mum and pretended to cry, except it sounded more like he was laughing, or singing, or choking…

It didn’t matter. Their mum was distracted and Edie was able to lift the box ever so quietly and tip toe out of the house to release Ralph back into his pen.

Phew, that was close!

Image: Arib Neko

Ralph The Rowdy Rooster. Chapter 5.

Chapter 5

Cock-a-doodle-doo!

Cock-a-doodle-doo!

Edie woke up. She rolled over and looked at the clock:

4am.

What?

Again?

Weeks and weeks had passed by and the brother and sister team still hadn’t found a solution to their problem. Eventually Edie smelled coffee. Her parents were awake and they were making her breakfast. She shuffled out of her room like a zombie. Yarrow shuffled out of his room like a zombie.

Mum and Dad watched them very closely while they ate their breakfast. Very closely, or very crossly. Probably both. They still remembered the day the kids slept in and missed school, so both parents stayed home to make sure they walked to the bus stop on time. It was not a good morning.

Edie didn’t fall asleep at school that day, but only because she asked Marcela to poke her with a pen every time she was about to doze off. They did things like that for each other all the time, even crazy or silly things, because they were such close friends. Marcela wasn’t sure at first, but then she remembered what Edie did to her birthday cake, and she was happy to poke her with a pen. Unfortunately, Mrs Kauff caught them and was mad at Marcela. She gave her a punishment, but only a small punishment, because she knew Edie could be very determined. Not bossy, just determined.

Yarrow had a bad day too.

He did maths work during reading time, then ate his lunch during the science lesson. He put on his painting apron during maths class, and put his snacks in the book shelf, then he found paint brushes in his lunch box. Plus, there was paint on one side of his face, but he didn’t even know. He only realised when his friends laughed at him and told him he fell asleep during art. His friends were sooooo cheeky. He was sooooo tired.

Yarrow and Edie were both too tired to do sport at school. They liked sport. They decided to do some sport at home and thought it might also be a way to make Ralph tired – tired enough to sleep past 4am.

They dragged their tired bodies out to Ralph’s enclosure and forced themselves to play sport.

They started playing soccer, but Ralph wasn’t interested because his feet were too small. They switched to cricket, but roosters aren’t very good at cricket – they’ve got no hands.  

“What about basketball?” asked Yarrow, but every time they bounced the ball near Ralph, they nearly squashed him. They tried handball, but Ralph kept running into the king square, even when he didn’t win the point. This made Yarrow very frustrated. Edie suggested hopscotch, but every time she put a stone in a square, Ralph thought it was food and he tried to eat it.

“We could take him bike riding,” Yarrow suggested.

“But we don’t have a helmet small enough for his head.”

The only game Ralph liked was chasings, because no one could catch him.

Image: Arib Neko

Ralph The Rowdy Rooster. Chapter 4.

Chapter 4

Days passed by one after the other, and Ralph was still waking up at 4am. Yarrow and Edie needed a change. A change of plan and a change of scene. They grabbed some towels, grabbed their parents, and wandered down to their favourite swimming spot at the river. It was beautiful. The water was crystal clear and colourful birds flew between tall trees thick with rich green foliage.

As soon as they jumped into the refreshing water they felt better and the ideas started flowing.

“Does Ralph know how to count?” asked Yarrow. “If he can’t count, he can’t tell the time, so maybe we need to teach him.”

“Yes, or we could paint pictures of the sun and hang them up in his enclosure, to remind him to wait for the sun,” said Edie. Yarrow thought that was also a good idea, and immediately came up with some more, like teaching Ralph how to whisper, or teaching him how to hold his breath.

Edie thought the last idea was a bit crazy, but before she could say so, Yarrow’s head disappeared beneath the water and all anyone could see were little ripples on the surface. He stayed underwater for a long time.

After swimming and brainstorming for a little longer, the two tired children climbed up onto the smooth warm rocks to dry off. On the rocks, they were supposed to plan how they would try out all of their brilliant new ideas in the coming days, but something happened. Something not entirely unpleasant, and something not entirely unexpected; they fell asleep.

Mum and Dad had to piggy-back them all the way home.

Image: Arib Neko

Ralph The Rowdy Rooster. Chapter 3.

Chapter 3

Cock-a-doodle-doo!

Cock-a-doodle-doo!

Edie woke up. She rolled over and looked at the clock:

4am.

What?

Again?

Aaaaarggh, this is so frustrating!

“Your secret language didn’t work,” Edie said to Yarrow at the breakfast table.

“And your clock didn’t work,” Yarrow said to Edie.

“I’m so tired, what are we going to do?”

They started thinking of new ideas, but then they fell asleep. This was a big problem, because they woke up very late. Too late to catch the bus, and too late to get to school on time. That meant Yarrow couldn’t play handball, or do his favourite maths puzzles, or hear Mr Gresford read another story. And it meant Edie couldn’t learn about photosy…phostyso…photisyonpasenthelis…Worse still, she couldn’t apologise to Marcela for destroying her birthday cake.

Plus, Mum and Dad would not be happy when they got home from work.

Uh Oh!

Many hours later, Yarrow and Edie woke up again. They were really hungry, so it must have been after lunch time. They found themselves some food, and made their lunch. It didn’t taste as good as Mum and Dad’s sandwiches.

While they were eating, they did a brainstorm, to think of ways to make Ralph wake up after 4am. They decided they could try to make Ralph tired. Make him as tired as they felt; more tired than they felt. If they could do that, he would definitely go to sleep.

So, they walked into his enclosure and turned on some music. Then they started swaying from side to side. Then they started moving a bit faster. Ralph looked at them and he was shocked. They danced even faster and soon they were jumping and leaping and spinning around all over the enclosure. They turned up the music and danced wildly, and soon Ralph joined in. He didn’t have many dance moves, well, not as many as Edie and Yarrow, but he liked to walk round pushing his neck back and forward. He walked around the enclosure pushing his neck back and forward in time with the music, and Edie and Yarrow thought it was so funny that they copied him. They were having so much fun that they didn’t hear the car pull up.

EDIE, YARROW! Mum yelled. She was home from work and she was not happy.

That night, dinner was brussels sprouts, broccoli, raw carrot, plain rice and no sauce. Then they went straight to bed. Today was not a good day.

Image: Arib Neko

Ralph The Rowdy Rooster. Chapter 2.

Chapter 2

Cock-a-doodle-doo!

Cock-a-doodle-doo!

Edie woke up. She rolled over and looked at the clock.

4am.

She rubbed her eyes and looked again.

4am.

“But how, it can’t be, am I dreaming? This is not possible. I told Ralph to wake up later”

Just then, Yarrow walked into her room. He looked like a zombie again, but today he looked like a confused zombie. They both yawned.

While Yarrow was munching through his cereal, he had an idea.

“Maybe Ralph doesn’t speak English,” he told Edie.

“What?”

“Maybe he didn’t understand us yesterday,” and he rushed out the door and into Ralph’s enclosure. He started speaking to Ralph, but not in English. He used his own language. It didn’t have a name, but it had a bit of Dutch, because his favourite colour was orange. It had a bit of Japanese, because he watched anime cartoons, and it had a bit of Italian, because he loooooved pizza.

Edie and her parents watched Yarrow talk to Ralph. They didn’t understand his language, and his friends didn’t understand his language. Would Ralph understand his language?

Later that day, when Yarrow was at his friend’s place, he fell asleep while playing handball. To make it worse, he was in KING when he fell asleep. In KING! His friends carried him to the DUNCE square and left him there. His friends were always playing jokes on each other, they were great fun to hang out with. Yarrow only woke up when he heard his dad come to pick him up.

Edie’s day was worse. It should have been great, because she went to Marcela’s birthday party with all of her best friends. There was food, plus drinks, and lollies, there was a jumping castle, and even a clown. Edie was having so much fun, but then disaster struck.

Marcela’s cake was placed on the table. It was beautiful and blue with images of dolphins, because Marcela was obsessed with dolphins. Edie offered to help put the candles on the cake, and then it happened.

She placed one candle, then she yawned.

She placed another candle, and she yawned again.

When she placed the third candle, she yawned the biggest yawn she had ever yawned, and her eyes closed. Then she fell forward, further and further, until her head went SPLAT, right into Marcela’s cake. It was a disaster. The dolphins were ruined, the cake was ruined, and Edie’s face was covered in cake and icing. She couldn’t even say sorry to Marcela, because she was fast asleep.

“We have to try again,” said Edie when she got home and washed her face. Yarrow tried to watch his cartoons, but Edie was even more determined than before.

“Ralph needs a clock!” she decided.

“What’s a clock?” asked Yarrow.

“It’s a thing old people use to tell the time. Mrs Kauff uses one, and she showed us one in class last week.”

“But where do we get a clock?”

“We make one.”

So, Yarrow and Edie walked off into the bush to find materials to make a clock. Luckily, they didn’t see any snakes. Luckily, they didn’t see any spiders. Luckily, they did see a wallaby and they did see a Rosella. Edie loves Rosellas, they’re so colourful.

Edie and Yarrow found a piece of wood, which was shaped like a circle. They found some small stones, leaves and flowers. Then Edie came back with two sticks; a big one and a little one.

“Why is one big and one small?” asked Yarrow.

“The small stick shows the hour, and the big stick shows the minutes, and together they tell the time,” Edie explained.

They spent all afternoon making their clock, and it was almost dark when they finished. Finally, they took the clock to Ralph and told him:

“Ralph, look at the clock. This is 4 o’clock,”

Then Edie moved the big stick and the little stick.

“This is 6 o’clock. You can wake up at 6 o’clock, but not before.”

Ralph looked at Edie, then looked at the clock. He looked at Yarrow, then looked at the clock. He was still looking at the clock when Edie and Yarrow left the enclosure. It was dark now, and they were so hungry. They could smell their dinner, and it smelt really, really good.

Image: Arib Neko

Ralph The Rowdy Rooster. Chapter 1.

Chapter 1

Cock-a-doodle-doo!

Cock-a-doodle-doo!

Edie woke up. She rolled over and looked at the clock:

4am.

“Nooooo, why does Ralph have to wake up so early every day?” she sighed.

Edie rolled over and tried to get back to sleep, but it was impossible. She thought about having some breakfast, but it was too early. She thought about reading a book, but she was too tired. So, she tossed and turned and thought about how to stop Ralph The Rowdy Rooster from waking her up at 4am every morning.

While she was thinking about this, she heard a strange noise. She heard little pieces of plastic smashing together in the next room. Her little brother Yarrow was recreating a battle scene with his toy soldiers. He couldn’t sleep either.

Eventually Edie smelled coffee. Her parents were wide awake and they were making her breakfast. How come Ralph didn’t wake them up? It’s not fair, Edie thought.

She shuffled out of her room like a zombie. Yarrow shuffled out of his room like a zombie.

“Good morning,” said their parents.

“Good mor…” Edie started to say, but her greeting was swallowed by a big, long, heavy yawn.

Munch, munch, munch, she chewed through her cereal, still half asleep.

Munch, munch, munch, Yarrow chewed through his cereal, also half asleep. Edie looked at Yarrow and thought,

Do I look as bad as him?

Yes, she did.

That day at school, Edie couldn’t stay awake. She tried and tried, but she kept falling asleep. When she got home, she kept falling asleep while she was trying to make a birthday card for her friend Marcela. That’s it, she thought, I must find a way to stop Ralph from waking up so early. She walked over to the TV and turned off Yarrow’s cartoons.

“Hey, I was watching that,” he protested.

“Not anymore, we’re going to talk to Ralph.”

Yarrow followed her and did what he was told because he didn’t like waking up at 4am, and because he knew Edie could be very determined. Not bossy, just determined.

Edie and Yarrow entered Ralph’s enclosure. They scattered food scraps on the ground to get his attention.

“Ralph,” said Edie firmly, “you must stop waking up at 4am every day!”

Ralph looked up for a moment, then kept pecking at his food. Yarrow picked up a piece of apple and offered it to the rooster.

“We want to sleep for longer in the morning, can you wake up later please?” he asked.

Ralph finished eating the piece of apple, then looked at them both attentively.

“I fell asleep today when Mr Gresford was reading the book and I don’t know what happened at the end of the story,” Yarrow said sadly.

“And I fell asleep during Science,” said Edie, “so now I don’t understand photosy…phostyso…photisyonpasenthelis…oh, I don’t know what it is.”

Ralph looked at Yarrow, then at Edie.

“Ralph, see those hills over there…” and Ralph’s eyes followed Edie’s finger as she pointed to the hills beside the family’s property.

“…you must not wake up until the sun comes over the top of those trees, ok?”

Ralph kept looking at Edie. She was sure he understood what she was saying.

“Or, you can wake up when you smell the coffee,” said Yarrow, and Ralph pushed his little beak up into the air like he was trying to smell something.

Yarrow and Edie were certain Ralph was listening, and that he understood what they told him. They were quite happy. They walked out of Ralph’s enclosure, closed the gate and walked back into the house with big smiles on their faces.

“We’re going to get a good night’s sleep tonight,” Edie assured Yarrow.

Image: Arib Neko

Ruler of Waters

Pristine waters so tempting and forbidden.

Ominous black clouds wrapped Saiylie in a blanket of stifling tropical heat. She had been summoned, among hundreds of compliant subjects now shuffling reluctantly into the palace of King Manzi, Ruler of Waters.

Clad in black, as per custom.

Eyes downcast, as per custom. No witness to the magnificent waterfalls cascading down the façade of the palace, to the rooftop fountains and fantastical tributes to the Ruler of Waters. Eyes downcast, gazing into the moat below. Now devoid of deadly creatures. Now the world’s largest swimming pool. Inviting. Tempting. Forbidden to all but the 10-year-old Prince.

“My legacy,” screeched King Manzi, in a grating voice bereft of the gravitas of a great ruler.

“My legacy, my gift to you my people, is The Speaker,” and the ruling elite beamed in admiration as they gathered en-masse in the palace forecourt. The ailing and bumbling King had emerged from his private sanctum to deliver unto his people ‘The Speaker’.

The Speaker would be the voice of all future AI applications, into eternity. King Manzi was adamant the one single voice would emerge from his people. Thus, Saiylie was now shepherded between a sea of electronic cables belonging to the world’s pre-eminent AI experts tasked with measuring clarity, timbre and resonance before selecting the voice to rule all voices.

King Manzi gazed skywards, addressing the black clouds. Holding the clouds, holding his audience.

The recording began. Saiylie waited; for orders and relief from the heat. None came.

The ruling elite performed at their erudite best in the search for perfection and the hope of becoming The Speaker.

Eyes downcast, Saiylie saw the first drop, then the second. The clouds had begun to empty. An umbrella was thrust into Saiylie’s hands, and hundreds more soon snapped open to protect the elite and their precious recordings.

The rain grew heavier.

“Closer,” Saiylie was ordered.

“Closer,” and she shuffled closer to the surrounding umbrellas to form a compact canopy over the aristocracy. Massive drops of monsoonal rain then pounded defiantly on the King’s forecourt and sent the elite into a harried cacophony of raised voices.

“Continue,” commanded the King.

Louder and louder they spoke until they created their own cloud of steam underneath the canopy.

“Continue,” King Manzi yelled.

Temperature rose inside the canopy. Saiylie began rocking to and fro with uncontrollable giddiness. She felt increasingly lightheaded, and felt her feet leave the ground as the cacophony of voices created their own microclimate. Saiylie began to float, upwards and away from the voices.

Was she fainting?

Was she flying?

She rose higher and higher as the heat and humidity turned the interwoven umbrellas into a hot air balloon. Higher and higher they rose until above the palace walls.

Saiylie spotted the moat below. She released the umbrella and raised her arms skyward, slipping out of her black robes and into the blissful waters of the moat.

Lennie.

A substance thick as honey ran down Lennie’s shirtfront. It was one of the many he had spilt, smeared, dribbled or dropped on his person over the last few hours, during which the general frivolity had afforded him a degree of freedom. But soon his mother caught him.

“I gave him that shirt just this morning,” she bemoaned, as she wiped away the stains and her maternal guilt.

“Leave it,” said a voice of similar vintage, and Lennie recognised the delicate perfume of his aunty Suzie.

 “Charlie was exactly the same when he reached that age.”

As his mother and aunty mourned the loss of their baby boys, Lennie wrestled himself from their attention and set off in search of another prize. He’d spotted the red heart-shaped delicacies the moment he arrived, but had been obstructed by the customary platitudes and gushing sentiments from friends and relatives as they’d arrived one after another.

Now he stumbled to his feet and bumped his way through the blur of bodies surrounding the food table. Countless guests insisted on kissing him and smothering him with affection, but Lennie was obsessed with other matters of the heart. He thrust his hands into the bowl and clawed as many little hearts as possible, before plonking himself on the floor. Nearby guests simply laughed and shuffled away to avoid stepping on him, and Lennie focussed his entire concentration and limited dexterity on extricating the chocolates from their wrappers, before gorging himself on mouthfuls of pure pleasure.

Lennie was then captivated by the golden glow of the beer fridges. Had such a wondrous sight ever existed? From his vantage point on the plush but soggy carpet, Lennie gazed up enraptured at the two towers of temptation gleaming with hitherto undiscovered flavours.

Lennie will one day hear a theory that alcohol labelling is deliberately designed to evoke associations with positive childhood memories of certain shapes, colours and images. Well, it was working today, and he reached for a bottle containing a pleasure he had not yet known. Just as he touched the ice-cold bottle, a strong and dominant hand pulled his away.

“Bit too early for that Lennie,” the owner admonished light-heartedly.

“Already going for the imported stuff,” another voice joked.

“Maybe another day my boy!” and the men enjoyed a concomitant chuckle as they downed the bottles they were holding.

A clink on a glass and the room fell silent and still.  

Lennie was ushered to the stage, and his eyes lit up with wonderment yet again on this fantastical evening. A giant cake covered in thick, luscious, colourful icing sat before him. His hands extended instinctually, and simultaneously his father swooped to snatch the razor-sharp knife that lay beside the cake.

Lennie smashed through the icing and plunged his forearms into the soft and doughy interior of the cake. He swam unabashed in the innocent, creamy, sensual pleasure until his mother’s voice pierced his reverie:

“Happy 40th Lennie!”

Image: Jess Bailey