We watched from within a tiny shed as the clouds above continued to rain cats and dogs.
“When’s this going to end?” James said.
“Seriously. How many can be up there?” I asked.
Hannah, of course, had the answer. “A lot. The news reporter said cats and dogs have been abducted from all over Michigan, so they must all be coming here.”
“Great,” I said as something thumped against the shed roof followed by a yip.
“Well this is strange,” James said.
“Um, yeah,” I said. “And probably a bit bloody.”
“No, no, no. Look, they aren’t even hurt.”
I peeked out of a hole in the back of the shed and sure enough, after falling to the ground, all the cats and dogs were just getting up and walking away, uninjured. I scratched my head. Like everything that was going on, I couldn’t explain it. It could have been luck, a miracle, more magic, or all the above, but it was happening.
When it finally stopped raining cats and dogs, the three of us cracked open the shed door and poked our heads out.
“Bonzi!” I called, taking a shot in the dark as hundreds of dogs darted this way and that. None of them looked at me.
“Don’t worry,” James said. “I heard that dogs always go back to the toilet they’re used to drinking out of.”
“Man, what’s going on?” I asked.
Hannah said, “Isn’t it obvious?”
I looked at James. He shrugged.
She rolled her eyes. “Boys. So dense. This is the Idiom Wizard’s magic. He’s causing all these idioms to happen.”
“Idioms?” James said. “All I see is a bunch of weirdness.”
“Weird, yes. But still Idioms.” She pointed to the sky, to the most obvious idiom. “Raining cats and dogs.” She pointed down the street to where a man balanced himself on the fence. “He’s ‘On the fence’, meaning he hasn’t made up his mind about a decision.”
James leaned over and whispered, “I’m not sure if I made up my mind about being awake or dreaming.”
“Me either!” I said.
Hannah pointed at the man scratching himself. “He has ‘ants in his pants’, which means he’s anxious about something. And there,” she continued, pointing at a man who was beating the ground with a bat. “He’s ‘beating around the bush’, which means wasting time and not being clear about what you really want to say.”
“None of this makes sense,” I said.
James nodded in agreement.
“I don’t think it’s supposed to,” Hannah said. “The Idiom Wizard was a jester, remember? All this… goofiness probably made the King and his people laugh.”
“So where is he then?” I asked. “Where’s the Idiom Wizard.”
I looked at Hannah, she looked at James, and James looked back at me. None of us had a clue.
Suddenly, the shed door flung open and we all jumped. A boy wearing shoulder pads and a football helmet stood with a giant water gun slung over his shoulder.
“Well, well, well,” the kid said, his voice easily recognizable. “If it ain’t Lil’ Red and his poopy band of misfits.”
I groaned. “What do you want, Donald?”
“Me? Well, I want to save the world from weirdness.”
“Good, so do we,” Hannah said, matter-of-factly.
Me and James looked at each other. I’m sure he was thinking the exact same thing that I was thinking: Please, please, please don’t invite Donald to come with us!
Donald snorted. “Yup. I’m saving the world from Idioms. Starting with you three.” He pointed his water gun and pulled the trigger, drenching us.
In the grand scheme of things, being squirted with a water gun wasn’t that bad. In fact, I was kind of hot and thirsty from all the running we’d been doing, so I welcomed the water. I almost thanked him, but I didn’t want him to know how much I enjoyed it because then he’d stop.
Problem was, a pack of the meanest, nastiest dogs crept up behind Donald and showed their teeth.
“Um, Donald,” I said. “Behind—”
“Shut it,” he said, shooting me in the face with another blast of water. He tilted his head back and laughed so loud he couldn’t hear the dogs growling. He said, “Anyone else got something to add?”
The three of us were completely quiet. Which is how Donald finally heard the low growls behind him. Slowly, he turned around. When he saw what waited for him, he yelped.
“G, g, g, good puppies,” he stammered. “N, n, nice puppies.” He took a step backward. The pack of dogs took a step closer.
“Look,” he said, pointing at us. “There’s three of them, and only one of me.” He faked a smile. “Surely they’ll be—” he stumbled over a rock. The dogs sprang forward barking and snapping at him. One got his backpack. Another got his shoe and pulled it completely off. But somehow, Donald managed to get up and run with the dogs chasing after.
“Well that was close,” James said.
“Too close,” I added.
Hannah said, “So what now?”
I thought about her question for a second. Now that I’d calmed down and had begun to understand what was happening, I knew exactly what we had to do. Me and James had talked about it just the night before.
“Now,” I answered, cracking my knuckles. “We head back to my house and get that book so we can clean up this mess we made.”
“Well, technically,” James added. “Donald made this mess.”
“Oh, no,” Hannah said. “What about Donald? Shouldn’t we help him?”
“Nah,” I said, smiling at Hannah. I pointed behind her to a tree that Donald had climbed into. “It looks like he’s already been saved, and by an idiom of all things. Those dogs are barking up the wrong tree.”
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