‘Tickling Butterflies’ – The Stranger and the Bubbles

Tickling Butterflies is an epic fantasy, containing 128 fairy tales that together create one huge story.

Here’s the story so farThe story continues:


The Stranger and the Bubbles

(Containing a bubble-filled tale of a bubbly old man with an overactive imagination.)


Once upon a time, when King John the Cute walked the magical planet Earth alone with only his new chariot to accompany him, he came upon an old man surrounded by strange bubbles.

The old man was slightly fat and bald and sitting on a park bench in a park, looking at the trees. The bubbles that surrounded him were each the size of a small balloon.

King John the Cute approached the park bench. Now he could see that the bubbles were moving away from the old man. The further they drifted, the more imperceptible they became, until they vanished completely. New bubbles were always forming and separating themselves from the skin of the old man’s face.

“Old man,” said King John the Cute. “May I sit down beside you?”

The old man looked at the king and laughed. “Young man, you may,” he said. “But only if you keep calling me old man.”

King John the Cute sat down beside the old man. “What is the nature of the bubbles that surround you?”

“Bubbles?” The old man looked around and saw nothing. “What bubbles?”

“The ones that surround your face, of course,” said King John the Cute. “This one has an image of bubbles from the sea. This one has a person with cheeks full of bubbles. That one has bubbles with small fairies living inside them. They are all floating away! Where are they going?”

“You see these things inside bubbles?” The old man said softly, amused. “That is astounding. I did not know they appear as bubbles. I did not know anyone could see them. Even I cannot see them.”

“What are they?” inquired King John the Cute. “There is no such magic in my own land.”

The old man laughed. “They are stories, stories that come from my imagination. Come, young man,” the old man grabbed the king’s hand. “Let us experiment. I will look at the tree over there, and you will look at the ‘bubbles’, and tell me what you see. Agreed?”

The king nodded. The old man looked at one of the trees in the park. “Tell me what you see.”

“I see a bubble in which a tree suddenly has legs and begins to walk.”


“I see a bubble with a tree as big as two giants cleaning his teeth with trees like the one in the park.”


“I see a bubble with a great battle of trees, hundreds of trees with green leaves attacking hundreds of trees with brown leaves.”

“Yes! Amazing!” The old man, his eyes glowing with excitement, looked at King John the Cute.

“I do not understand,” said King John the Cute. “How can so many stories come out of you so quickly? Where do those stories come from?”

“My dear young man,” said the old man. “I sit here in the park, looking around, and the entire world tells me stories. Stories appear in my head about what could have been, what would have been, what could never be. Each thought is a world, an entire story… Your face, for example, is fascinating, for it tells me many stories.”

The old man looked at King John the Cute’s face, full of wrinkles and troubles, of furrows and creases. As the old man looked at the king’s face, the king looked at the bubbles. In the bubbles, he saw his mother, Kate the Tigress, scream her distress into a deep chasm; he saw Al the Average being dragged by the throat by Sarah O’Connell; he saw Death hurl a secret into the ocean; he saw a little blue soldier attack the village of his childhood; and there was the cloud Chariot, being kidnapped by an old farmer.

“Stop! Stop!” cried King John the Cute.

“What did you see?” wondered the old man amicably, a smile on his face and a sparkle in his eyes.

“I saw the many stories of my life, but stories that are not my own, stories of friends and family that are a part of my life. How could you possibly know these things?”

“Ideas come to me. There are stories everywhere. Your face tells me stories, it tells me many, many stories.”

King John the Cute grabbed his heart, as it began to ache once more with the pain of Prince Charming the Fifth’s sword.

He gathered his composure, as the old man looked at him, and said, “I would like to understand this, if you do not mind. What happens to the stories that come out of you?”

The old man shrugged. “I think of so many, that they fly off me and disappear, forgotten… Only a few remain, stories that are good enough, powerful enough, stories that are emotional enough or special enough or strong enough. These are stories I write so that other people may read them. I am a storyteller and a storymaker.”

“I have never met a person who makes stories,” said King John the Cute with deference, for he knew that those who make stories also make the people he himself had seen every day in the Land of All Legends.

The old man looked at him intently. “You are a special young man,” he said. “You see things that others do not. You know how to listen to others, which helps you in your path.” As he spoke, he peered deep into the king’s eyes. And around the old man, the king could see a big and powerful bubble begin to form. In it, King John the Cute was sitting, hale and healthy, on a king’s throne. Beside him sat his queen, Sarah O’Connell. They were happy and older, and an entire land lay beneath their feet. And everyone was happy and worshipped the hero king.

“What is that I just saw?” asked King John the Cute.

The old man looked aside and smile. “You are a hero. I imagined the ending of your story.”

“I fear my death shall not be as heroic as you believe. I shall die soon and in agony. I will not rule a land again. I will not marry my love and she will not share the throne. I will spend eternity in the Afterdeath.”

The old man shrugged. “I do not deal with facts, I deal with stories. I do not see facts, I see stories. What you have seen is what my imagination invented. And now,” the old man came to his feet. “It is time that I return to my home and write about that which I have imagined today. I have imagined a magnificent story today, and I must put it on paper as quickly as possible.”

“Please do not go. Or maybe allow me to go with you. I have many more questions!”

The old man stopped him. “Our paths must uncross here. I am not really a friendly sort, and I seek to be alone.”

“But I do not know your name. How will I find you again? The fate of two worlds depend on—”

But the old man raised his hand, and King John the Cute stopped talking. “If the fate of two worlds depend on our meeting again, then perhaps Fate shall step in and put us in another story. For now, I bid you goodbye… your highness.” The old man bowed slightly, looking at the crown. Above him another bubble formed, showing the same image as before, of the king and the queen ruling an entire land of creatures.

The old man turned around and walked away. King John the Cute remained behind.

Soon the sun set, and ten thousand butterflies descended on the king. “Where shall we carry you now, my king?” they whispered.

“Away from here,” he answered.

This has been the worrying tale in which King John the Cute was met face to face with a happy ending to his tale. This has also been the old man’s second appearance in this book of legends.


(To be continued on Sunday…)

You can win a chance to have a fairy tale written about you in the Tickling Butterflies universe!


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