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The 2nd chapter of There's No Such Thing As Goats!
Chapter Two: All aboard!
All about him were animals, and not just of the farm variety. There were at least five levels of them. From below James was sure he heard an elephant trumpeting, and the roar of a lion. Up from the level he woke on were smaller creatures, wombats, platypuses, mice, armadillos; that sort of thing, but always in pairs. The carnivores were penned off from the other animals, James noticed, and just as he was leaning down to pat a friendly dog, a voice from behind startled him out of his exploration.
“And just who are you? Smuggle yourself on father’s Ark did you?” the voice asked, in a sharp accusatory tone.
James turned and saw a young man of about 20, though it was hard to tell with his stubbly chin, and long brown hair. The man was dressed in a simple brown robe, tied at the waist with a hemp rope, “Ah, no, no, I ah, kind of just woke up down below on the Farm Deck. It was very unexpected…did you say Ark?”
“I did, I also asked for a name,” the man replied, arms folded, and with the beginnings of a scowl.
“James Jonah Jonson, janitor. You did say Ark, didn’t you?”
“Yes, James Jonah Jonson Janitor, I said Ark, are you simple?”
“Simple? What, no, just in shock. I’m not supposed to be here, you see,” James replied, his mind shot to last night’s conversation in the Bio-Mech Lab, with Dave; something about super fuel and time travel. Then it hit him. James hadn’t had coffee at all; he’d drank the secret formula Dave had been prattling about. “The coffee! Of course!”
“What? Coffee? Who are you really?”
“I told you already, I’m James. This is gonna sound farfetched, but I’m from the future…”
“Are you an angel of God?”
“God? What? No, don’t believe in Go..I mean strictly speaking,” James stumbled, realising his mistake a second too late.
“So, you come from the future? You don’t believe in God, and you somehow ended up on my father’s Ark? Correct?”
“LIAR! HEATHEN! STOWAWAY! That is what you are sir!” the man shouted, bringing others to the deck they were on. An old man in a simple robe, much like the younger one’s; an old woman, who dressed similarly, and two younger boys dressed the in the same sort of robed attire as the other two men had come to investigate the commotion.
“Shem!” the old man shouted to James’ accuser. “What’s all this shouting, and who is this stranger before you? Have you not offered to break bread with him?”
“Father, this man is a stowaway! You know the Lord’s words as well as I, for it is you that told them to me, ‘…only you Noah,’ he said. ‘Only you, and your family, shall survive the flood.’ Did he not? So tell me, what would you have me do with this man?”
“Go! All of you! I would speak with this stranger alone. I will bar the door that none may enter as we speak, until my return Ham, as next eldest son shall have command of the Ark. Send none above the top deck, send none below,” Noah, commanded; and so the rest of the people left, leaving James and Noah alone with the smaller creatures.
“I would hear from you your tale. Lie and I shall know it,” Noah said once he had barred the door to the deck.
James told him what had happened, and how he’d woken to find himself here, he saw some incredulous looks from Noah, but the old man remained silent and reserved his judgement until the end of the tale.
“And so,” Noah said. “This story you tell seems legitimate in its claims, I cannot however understand parts of it. What pray tell is a janitor? And this…coffee, you speak of? And why are you dressed such as us, if you are as you say you are; from the future?”
“Dressed like you?” James was confused. “I’m in my janitor’s uniform! Shirt, shorts and steelcaps. A janitor is another word for cleaner, and coffee is a drink made from beans, it doesn’t exist yet, but it will.”
“While I believe most of what you say, this ‘from the future’ part still sounds nonsensical, I shall have to decide what to do with you I suppose. You’re a cleaner you say? Well I have a whole lot of cleaning that needs doing on board. Think you can handle a shovel and a pitchfork?”
“Anything I can to help, I guess,” James replied.
“Good. You can stay aboard for as long as the waters surround us, after that you must make your own way in the world, understood?”
“Sure thing,” James replied. I hope by then I’ll be back home, he thought.
James had gone from janitor to dung flinger and hay pitcher and was just glad they hadn’t thrown him overboard.
Things were looking better already. Or at least as good as they could be when you were stranded at near enough the beginning of time on Noah’s Ark of all places. Now if only he knew how to get home.
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