If you’re just joining us, here’s the story so far.
Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story. We are in the middle:
The Tickle Tick
(Containing the grave tale of a grieving duo and a Tickle Tick.)
We buried Ochi, Benjamin Miller continued his tale while King John the Cute listened in fascination, at the foot of the mountain. Sylvia and I stood over his grave. We had a lost a friend we had known for decades, and sadness had struck us deeply. It had all been so unnecessary, which made the sadness worse.
And yet, for all our sadness, we could not cry.
Sylvia was the first to suggest that perhaps we cannot cry because it wouldn’t be funny if we cried. Perhaps the rules and regulations of the Land of No Respect had already taken effect on us.
“That is quite true,” said a small voice.
We looked around, and saw a tiny black creature, smaller than a fly, stand on top of the stone we had put over Ochi’s grave.
“Who are you?” Sylvia said.
“I am the Tickle Tick,” said the Tickle Tick. “And you are quite right. You cannot cry for your friend right now, because your crying would not be funny. The rules and regulations of the Land of No Respect work on all who walk here. Still, perhaps I can help.”
“Help? How?” Sylvia asked.
The Tickle Tick flew from the stone, landed on Sylvia’s neck, then slid down under her clothes. Suddenly, Sylvia began to laugh.
“Stop!” Sylvia laughed. “What are you doing!”
“I’m tickling you,” came the Tickle Tick’s voice from inside her shirt. “I’m making you feel better!”
“Stop!” Sylvia was rolling on the ground laughing. “Stop! I don’t want to feel better!”
“Everyone wants to feel better,” came the voice from inside her clothes.
Sylvia was laughing and laughing, rolling on the ground. “Stop! Stop! I don’t want to laugh!”
“Everyone wants to laugh,” the muffled voice said.
“I don’t want to laugh!” shouted Sylvia. “I want to cry!” And she shrieked so hard that the Tickle Tick stopped and climbed back out from under her clothes.
“What about you?” the Tickle Tick looked at me.
“Same as her,” I said.
“You two are very strange people,” said the Tickle Tick. “What do you truly want, then? How can I help you?”
“Maybe you know something about this place,” I said. “We don’t understand how such a place could exist.”
“Hmmmf,” said the Tickle Tick. “I do not know anything about how the magic of the place works, but I do know how this place came to be. Shall I tell you that story?”
“Sure,” I said.
“Yes, thanks,” said Sylvia, who was slowly sitting up.
“This is a story I have heard,” began the Tickle Tick, “from my father who heard it from his father, and so on all the way back to the first Tickle Tick that ever lived. And he heard this story from the island itself.”
Once upon a time, the Tickle Tick told the tale, all the funny and strange creatures in all the land and continents and seas decided that they wanted to live together, in one place. That way, they would be with their own kind, with people who knew how to laugh, who would laugh with them, but not people who laughed at them.
But all the places in all the Land of All Legends were already occupied. There were people living at every large patch of land. The exception was ten small islands in the Slapstick Ocean. The islands were relatively small, and they were all lonely, because all the creatures that had lived on them had moved to the land and to the Big Cities.
All ten islands volunteered to be the home for the funny creatures, but only one could be chosen.
To decide which island was the best one for the job, a competition began. All the creatures would spend one day on each of the islands, and see which island is best.
And so, on the first day of the competition, the creatures stepped upon the shores of the first island. There, they threw pies at each other, slapped, fell, tried to get all the creatures into one room, and generally had fun. Within two hours, the island was laughing so hard, that he was shaking, and all the creatures fell into the water.
On the second day, the creatures tried the second island. Within two hours, that island was also laughing so hard that he threw all creatures into the water.
And so it continued, with all islands. All ten islands laughed too hard, and so none of the islands could be suitable for the creatures to create the Land of No Respect.
Then the creatures noticed that there was another island, a rather small and shy island, with a tall mountain at the center of him, that no one had noticed. No one had noticed him, because the other islands had forgotten he was there. When he was young, they had always made fun of him and his mountain for being so different, that he had grown shy.
The funny creatures tried to live on that island. And although that island wanted to laugh, he knew how to hold his emotions and not to shake with laughter.
Sometimes, during certain days of the year that something makes the island almost lose control with laughter, the top of the mountain shakes back and forth. But that is not dangerous, that is just funny. And so it was declared that the eleventh island would be the island upon which the Land of No Respect would be built.
The remaining ten islands, angry and miffed, swam to another part of the ocean, leaving the island and the Land of No Respect alone in the middle of the Slapstick Ocean.
And so, once the island had become the Land of No Respect, the first Tickle Tick was born. My grandfathers have been tickling people since before you two were born.
And I am glad that although I have not made you happy with laughter, I have made you less sad, if only for a few minutes.
“Thank you for your story, little Tickle Tick,” Sylvia said.
“Yes. Thank you,” I said.
Sylvia and I looked at each other. We knew that we needed to find a way off the island. But at least we had learned that listening to stories, just like laughing, sometimes takes our sadness away, if only for a short while.
(To be continued on Tuesday…)