Jeffrey liked dressing up and he liked dressing down, and he even liked dressing sideways. He chose his direction based on his mood that day, and it was entirely unrelated to expectations. Sometimes people stared at his outfits or made comments like “aren’t you worried about what people will think?”
Jeffrey was confused. “I don’t have time to worry about that!” he laughed. “I’m far too busy choosing my fabulous outfits and worrying about the important things in life, like what I’m going to have for lunch, or if any of my friends need me to dance the hooley-hooley with them, or if my pet lizard Bertrand has enough formal capes to wear – he does attend a lot of functions!”
Because he had his ears tuned to a different frequency he didn’t hear the pointless thoughts and unnecessary whispers about him. Instead he heard things other people didn’t hear. He could hear which scarves were spun by kind and noble silkworms and which were spun by dastardly meanies - and were therefore liable to get caught on door handles and generally misbehave. He could hear the trees laughing in the wind, which was enough to turn a miserable day into a delightful one. He could hear which of his braces wanted to join which of his shorts that particular day, and anyone with any sense knows a happy set of braces is an important (and wise) achievement.
He was sometimes vaguely aware of an unpleasant rumble coming from certain people, who were indeed making dark comments about his looks, but in the way you subconsciously avoid a deep puddle, or a biscuit that has less chocolate chips than the rest, he danced around these black holes with barely a sideways glance, and the darkness did not permeate his life. Which was handy – it’s much easier to find your clothes when you’re in the light.
If you were to peer into the sea around the Thrivenik islands you would be forgiven for thinking you were looking deep into a galaxy of many cosmic planets, tumbling meteorites and shooting stars, for the writhing, teeming, twinkling aquatic life is quite something to behold.
Many peculiar creatures are found in this stretch of water that are not found anywhere else, including the Thinking Fish (Cogitatus contemplatus), which seem to have such an easy time of finding food in the abundant waters that they have ample time on their fins to ponder the mysteries of life.
The Thinking Fish have come to believe that the Ocean is the whole world, and that everything Above Water is Outer Space. In Above Water / Outer Space alien creatures live, and although they inhabit ghastly bodies with no gills or scales or fins, they appear to wield unimaginable powers controlling wooden vessels with their minds, breathing the deathly dry air, and manufacturing small pancakes which occasionally end up in the ocean and are much revered.
Young Thinking Fish are told stories by their elders about how the Aliens have captured a great ball of fire and enslaved it to travel across the sky forever. Such wizardry! Surely such mighty beings can perform great miracles? The Thinking Fish gather their dreams and wishes into the gift of mist and send them up to Outer Space in the hope the Aliens will grant their requests, or at least take pity on their worshippers and send more pancakes.
And thus the Thinking Mist enters the water cycle.
And what comes up, must in this case come down.
And for some reason, this is always in Iki-rarah Beach. I suppose in some places it is always cloudy, in others it is always windy, and in others frogs regularly fall from the sky. In Iki-rarah a Wishful Thinking Rain is always pattering down on the sand dunes and pooling in the caves and drenching the wildlife.
There is nothing wrong with a bit of wishful thinking, like there is nothing wrong with a bit of cream in your sandwich. But too much cream in your sandwich and the bread gets soggy, and the sandwich falls apart. Many of the sand dunes in Iki-rarah expect that they will one day be vast mountains and win awards and have people come from far and wide to marvel at them. Some of the seals are convinced they have potential as hand models. Quite a few of the herrings (particularly the famous red ones found at Iki-rarah) believe the seagulls are their friends and dive in to pick them up to take them to parties.
Citizens, if you are visiting Iki-rarah, Tourism Klah advises you take a frond of Reality Fern (Realiopsida umbrellales) with you as protection.
A member of the Browface family, exhibiting both an impressive set of eyebrows, and an impressive feat of evolution.
For twelve generations the Browfaces have lived in the desert of Parch-Rah, a sparse region of Klah bathed in an average of 365.25 days of sunlight a year, and although the original Browfaces arrived with their pockets bulging with sunglasses of all shapes and sizes, they soon found that for several reasons this approach was impractical.
This was partly because they were the kind of people who needed back up housekeys for their back up housekeys, and had to wear sandals because they could never find any socks – for they were always losing things, and naturally their sunglass reserves quickly dwindled, and then became a distant memory, existing only in the tales of their pilgrimage to Parch-Rah passed down to their children.
Secondly, the Browfaces had left their lives as statue polishers in the south to come to the desert and farm Guinea Tiffles, large birds with resplendent feathers which are collected and used to make capes for fashionable city dwellers. Guinea Tiffles are very suspicious creatures, and due to their large talons and powerful beaks, it is important to win their trust. As you yourself may have experienced, it is very hard to trust someone with dark plastic shields covering their eyes (or soul-holes as they literally translate to in Guinea Tiffle).
After several useful limbs were lost and much time was wasted in long battles trying to collect the feathers, it was at this point the Browface family began a very clever feat of evolution – as each generation was born, their eyebrows grew longer, stronger, and bushier, and before long they had created their own natural sun protection for their soul-holes.
Nicolas Spickelspack was a very orderly man: his bookshelf was arranged alphabetically, his shirts never strayed from their allocated drawer, nor his socks from their designated partners.
Yet he kept a tea set in the linen cupboard. The tea set was kept there to ensure it was not accidentally served to guests, which could be awkward as it contained an ocean. The ocean, though mysterious, was very much alive, for some days it was cheerful and sparkling, and others it was dark and brooding, and Nicolas speculated the tea set was the origin of the phrase "storm in a teacup".
He liked to take the teacup into his lounge and gaze into it, for it was a very beautiful sea, and even though he knew his body wasn't physically leaving his armchair, he felt his mind journey through salt licked shores, across wind-whipped waves and islands of strange fearsome birds who often clacked their beaks at him. Nicolas in return attempted to wink his mind's eye back in what he hoped was a friendly gesture.
Sometimes when he got out the tea set he questioned what the purpose of it was, or whether it was meant for him, or he for it, and on these days he found he could not get to the ocean at all, but remained watching from afar.