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Children's Stories
by Margo Fallis
Ian & Mac Travel Stories - Getting Started

               “Mac, I’m tired of the same old stuff. We live in the forest. We eat garbage, nuts, and berries. I’m in the mood for a new adventure.” Ian sighed, leaning his chin into his palms. “I’m so bored.” He took a deep breath and let out a long whine.

                “Ian! All you do is complain. We’re safe; we have food at our fingertips; what else could two raccoons ask for?” Mac sat on the rock next to his best friend.

                “I know that I shouldn’t complain, but I want to see the world. I hear that in some countries there is garbage stacked up on the streets; imagine that, if you would.” Ian’s thoughts wandered to foreign lands.

                “That does sound great. I’m partial to Thai food.” Mac licked his lips.

                “I’m partial to any food that isn’t from a garbage can. If I never had to eat another berry in my life, I’d be quite happy.”

                “How do you suppose we get around the world? We don’t have wings!” Mac flapped his arms up and down in jest.

                “Let’s go into town. Maybe someone is getting ready to go on a holiday. We could stow away in their baggage and climb out once we’re in the airplane, or ship.” A grin spread across Ian’s face. “This is so exciting. I can’t believe you agreed to it so quickly.”

                “I do have a few concerns, Ian, but we’ll see what happens.”

                Ian and Mac trotted off into town, scampering over logs and around tall pines. They went from house to house, peering in windows, looking for tell-tale signs of an upcoming holiday. They’d almost reached the end of town when at last they spotted an open suitcase lying on the bed. “It’s Mrs. McAllister’s house. Looks like she’s going somewhere.” Ian rubbed his claws together. “She’s packing sun tan cream, a swimsuit, and some flip flops.”

                Mac pushed Ian out of the way so he could see. “She’s definitely going on holiday; somewhere warm. That’s fine with me. I could do with a nice suntan.”

                “Mac, we’re raccoons. We’re covered with fur. We can’t get suntans.” Ian shook his head.

                “I know that, Ian. I just said that. Oh, look. There’s Mrs. McAllister. She’s humming Spanish music. Spain; that sounds like a great place to begin our adventure around the world. Ole. Ole. We can go to the bullfights and see lots of historical buildings and eat paella, and tapas. Mmm. Sounds delicious.”

                Without another word said, they slid a window open and climbed into Mrs. McAllister’s bedroom. At first they had to hide under the bed for a while, but as soon as she left the room, they buried themselves in her packed clothing. The raccoons giggled with delightful thoughts of their upcoming travels. They lay still as Mrs. McAllister shoved as many clothes in the suitcase as she could, squishing Ian and Mac among them. She had to sit on the lid to close it.

                “I can’t breathe,” Ian whispered. “One of her flip flops is sticking into my lungs.”

                “It was your idea, Ian. Move it out of the way and find a comfortable spot. Be quiet. Imagine what would happen if she heard her suitcase talking?” Mac reached over and helped Ian move the flip flop. “There. Now be quiet. I don’t want to hear a peep out of you.”

                The two raccoons lay still and quiet. When Mrs. McAllister picked up the suitcase, they tipped on their sides and all the items inside fell on top of them. She wasn’t too gentle either, banging them against the door frame and then tossing her baggage into the back of her car. Ian and Mac heard the engine come to life and felt every bump as the car drove down the dirt lane towards the main road. Once they were on the flat surface of the paved motorway, they relaxed and the humming of the tires lulled them to sleep.  

                “What? What’s that?” Ian opened his eyes. With a huge thud, he felt the wind knocked out of him. “Mac. Mac. Wake up.”

                Mac pushed a bikini bottom from his mouth. “What’s going on? Where are we?”

                “It’s pitch black in here, Mac. I have no idea where we are. I was sound asleep, dreaming of eating some chicken and rice cooked in a spicy sauce when a thud woke me up.” Ian held onto the top as the suitcase was bashed on top, and then sideways, and then up and down. “Whoa. I’m going to get sick if this doesn’t stop.”

                “Quiet, Ian. I’m listening.” Mac had his hear to the inside frame of the suitcase, listening to the noises. “It’s Mrs. McAllister. She’s telling a man that she’s going on a boat ride to Spain. A boat ride? That will take forever. I’m not spending the next week trapped in here. Let’s just knock and get their attention and go back home.”

                “Oh, come on, Mac. Please don’t. Once she’s in her cabin, we’ll pick the lock, or wait until she opens it and then we’ll escape. Please wait.” Ian’s pleading tone got to Mac.

                “I’ll give it one hour. If we’re not on that ship, in her cabin and out of this suitcase, I’m going to start shouting and banging.” Mac grabbed hold of Ian’s neck. “Do you understand me?”

                “You don’t have to strangle me. I understand. One hour. Um, Mac, how do we know when an hour has passed.” Ian gulped.

                “Shut up, Ian.”

                To Ian’s delight only a short while passed before they heard Mrs. McAllister open the suitcase. Light flooded inside. Mac whispered to Ian. “Now.” Before Mrs. McAllister could utter a scream, the two raccoons jumped out, tossing clothes, flip flops and creams all over the cabin, opened the door and ran into the hallway. “We’ve escaped. She’ll be screaming soon. We’ve got to find a place to hide.” The raccoons ran down the hallway. “In here, Ian. It’s a supply closet.” Mac opened the door and the two ran inside just as Mrs. McAllister’s screams began. Mac peeked out of the key hole. Cabin doors flew open and people ran to Mrs. McAllister’s aid. All Mac heard was the word ‘rats’. “She thinks we’re rats. That’s good. Nobody will be looking for raccoons. We did it, Ian. We’re on board. I think we should wait until it’s dark before we go exploring the ship.”

                Ian looked around. The room was full of mops, bottles of cleaning fluid, empty trash bags, and a lot of towels. He also noticed a rat trap in the corner.  The aroma of cooking food filtered in under the door. “What’s that I smell?” Ian pushed his black nose against the bottom. “I smell ravioli, no, spaghetti and meatballs, no, lasagna.” He patted his tummy and turned to Mac. “I smell lasagna. I’m not staying in this cleaning closet when there’s lasagna cooking.”

                “Wait, Ian. You can’t go out there. If someone spots us they’ll stick us in a cage in the bottom of the ship with the post boxes and boxes of mothballs.” Mac grabbed hold of his friend.

                “I’m willing to take that chance.” Ian yanked the door open and let his sniffer guide him to the food. “Come on, Mac. It’s this way.” With hesitance, Mac followed. “This way.” Ian ran down a flight of stairs. “Oh. Oh. Oh. I smell cheeseburgers and fish and chips and chocolate.” He ran even faster, skipping steps as he hurried to the dining room.

                “Ian! Psst. Ian! Wait for me.” Mac ran after him, relieved that nobody was wandering the long hallways and staircases. He found Ian at the door to the dining room.

                Ian jumped up and down with excitement, clapping his hands together. “Mac, there’s a huge room full of leftovers in there. Everyone’s finished and left their plates on the tables.” Ian pried the door open with his claws. “See. Nobody’s there.”

                Mac glanced inside. “Hmm. I wonder where everyone went.”

                “It’s a nice day. They probably went up on deck to get some sun. That’s what people do. They sunbathe.”

                “It does smell good. I am hungry too. All right. Let’s eat.” Mac ran in before Ian and landed on the first table. Ian ran to the next. “Ian. Ian. There’s some pot roast here. Oh,” Mac drooled, “baby potatoes in butter sauce. I’ve died and gone to heaven.”

                “This plate has lamb with mint sauce and noodles, mashed potatoes dripping with gravy,  brussel sprouts and rolls.” Ian shoved everything into his mouth, not even stopping to chew.

                The two raccoons stuffed themselves with every morsel they could eat.  Their bellies were so full they could hardly move. Both lay like beached whales on the table, their arms spread to the side. “That was good,” Mac said. “I’ve decided I like cruising. Maybe we could stay on this boat and sail back and forth, feasting on gourmet foods and, of course, cheeseburgers. Did you find your lasagna?”

                Ian let out a loud burp. “I did.” Both laughed until their tummies hurt.

                A door burst open and a man with a filthy apron pushed a cart into the room. He picked up the dirty dishes and tossed them, none too gently, into the cart. He didn’t stop to scrape the food off.  Ian and Mac, glad to see he had started on the far end of the dining room, took this as their cue to leave. They plopped off the table onto the floor and waddled to the door. Ian let out another burp and then they snuck up the stairs to the cleaning closet.

                “We made it alive. I’m so full.” Mac rubbed his bulging belly. “I think I’ll take a nap.”

                “Me too.” Ian curled up next to Mac and they both fell asleep.

                Hours passed as the ship sailed down the coast of Scotland and England. As they moved into the English Channel, the waters became rough, tossing the huge ship back and forth and up and down. Ian opened one of his eyes. “Hold still, Mac. You’re wiggling too much.”

                Mac’s eyes popped open, alert. “It’s not me. It’s you.” They both sat up. Brooms were falling from side to side. The pails were sliding against one wall and then over to the other. Bottles of cleaner fell to the floor, bursting open and sending the scent of ammonia through the air. “That’s putrid.” Mac fanned the air in front of his face.

                “Mac, I don’t feel so good.” Ian wrapped his arms around his tummy. “I feel like I’m going to be sick.”

                “That’s what happens when you gorge yourself, Ian.” Just then a wave of nausea overcame Mac. “I feel sick too. It’s the rocking of the boat. We must be in a storm and we’re seasick. The best place for us is up on deck.”

                “Up on deck? Are you crazy? We’ll be washed overboard.” Ian gasped in terror.

                “Do you want to be sick, Ian? The fresh air will do us good. We can find a safe place in the middle of the ship and ride out the storm.” Mac jumped up and grabbed Ian’s paw. “Come on.” The two seasick raccoons stumbled as they made their way to the top deck. They heard people in their cabins being ill, which didn’t help their condition at all. Mac had to push the door to the deck open. A gust of ocean wind blew against them as they climb the stairs to the next highest deck. Waves beat against the side of the ship, rolling it from side to side.

                “I don’t feel better. We’re still rocking. Oh, Mac, I don’t feel good. All I can think of is macaroni and cheese clumps.” Ian let out a few belches.

                “Did you have to say that? Hold on, Ian. We’re almost there.” Mac found a spot near the funnels. They were sheltered from the drenching waves and the powerful wind. They both collapsed, leaning their backs against the monstrous chimney. “Take a few deep breaths of fresh air. There now, don’t you feel better?”

                Ian sighed, but he did feel better. “I do. It’s not too bad up here. The boat doesn’t rock as much.”

                Unable to sleep, they watched the lightning flash and the waves coming their way. When the sun rose they were still sitting in the same position, glazed eyes and damp fur. They didn’t go inside for breakfast, nor did they care if they ate again. By the time the ship docked, the storm had passed, leaving them bobbing up and down gently. The raccoons watched the people disembarking down the ramp. “Oh look, there’s Mrs. McAllister. She’s smiling. Ugh.” Mac pointed at the elderly lady. When the way was clear they marched down the ramp to the solid ground. Ian bent over and kissed the dirt; he was so happy to finally be off the ship. Mac tried to find his balance; it seemed to him that the ground was rocking. After a few minutes they had their land legs back.

                “Now what, Mac? We survived that horrendous journey. I’ll never go on a ship again. Never. I’d rather swim back to Scotland than sail.” Ian looked around. “I guess we’re in Spain.”

                Mac yawned. “We need to find a way to Madrid. There must be a train around here somewhere.” They followed the crowds and soon came to the train station. “Ah. I knew we’d find something.” Sneaking on board, they climbed into an empty luggage bin, unseen, and fell asleep.

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