The never-ending Boulevard came to an end. Florence and Fluffikins emerged panting near a busy intersection. Everyone was driving some kind of hover-shoe.
“Look!” said Florence, pointing out a bus stop over yonder. “Maybe we can join a double decker tour to get our bearings. I saw one advertised in the tourist pamphlet. Maybe there’ll be a creature with a microphone at the front, pointing out the sights of Slipper Island.”
“We still don’t have any local moneys,” Fluffikins sighed. “You need coins to ride a bus. Or a prepaid card.”
“Then I guess we can’t buy a hover-shoe, neither. Which means we’re stuck here forever and ever.” Florence didn’t sound sad about that, but Fluffikins widened his eyes in mild terror.
Fluffikins hadn’t spotted it yet. But Florence had noticed the used slipper dealership right across the intersection.
“Fluffy, what does it mean: ‘Flexible Finance Options’?”
“Flexible means you can bend it and it won’t break. Like a rubber band.”
“Hmm. I’ve broken lots of rubber bands AND hair ties. You shouldn’t shoot them at people. Did you know that, Fluffy? Especially not when they’re trying to concentrate in class.”
“Why are we talking about flexible rubber bands, Florence? Oh!”
Fluffikins followed Florence’s gaze. “We can buy our own slipper with ‘flexible finance options’ and fly it all the way back home!”
“Great idea, Fluffy.
Great minds think alike!” Florence danced a happy dance. “But for the record, I thought of it first.”
Florence and Fluffikins crossed the busy road, walking not running, holding paw-hands.
“No interest deals!” Fluffikins said with glee.
“What does ‘no interest’ mean? Because you suddenly look super interested, Fluffy.”
“It means: act bored and it’s free! We’ll fly to the top of the dangling dog leash and claw our way into the water dish! You’re quite a good scrambler, actually Florence. Well done back there. However, your bored face needs work.”
“That’s cos I’m NOT bored, Fluffy! Not one little speck! We gonna fly in a slipper!”
“Not unless you manage to look bored, we won’t. No interest, remember. We can’t pay upfront. We have no local currency.”
Florence thought of all those things in the shop windows and how she had no coins to buy any of them. Not even a whoopee cushion. Boring.
“How’s this, then?”
“Nope. That’s just scary.”
“How bout this?”
“Good work with the dog-brows. Now put your ears down. They’re way too perky.”
“That’s as good as we’re going to get, isn’t it?”
“Don’t ask me to do faces, Fluffy. I can’t even manage to look interested when you tell me about your day.”
Fluffikins decided to leave that one hanging.
“Stealing is bold, Florence. Plus, I spy security cameras.”
“Well, that was the worst game of ‘I Spy’ EVER. My turn. I spy… with my doggy eye… something… er, someONE on your boot.”
Florence turned to the sausage creature. “Not that I’m INTERESTED, but I am not your ‘sis’. I don’t think you and me is related.” An alarming thought crossed her mind. “Unless you is what happens after scoffing TOO MANY sausages?”
But the sausage-shaped salesman was happy to explain.
“Act like your usual know-it-all self, Fluffikins. If Mr Toe jam here suspects we’re blow-ins he’ll charge tourist prices.”
“Can I show you a very nice flying slipper vehicle?” The toe jam motioned to a row of footwear with the lash-like appendage protruding from his backside. (Not a tail: his flagellum.)
“We have great finance options. Zero downpayment, interest free.”
“This ordinary old slipper looks reliable.” Florence pointed to a pink one with dirt creeping up around the sole. “Dog-belly pink and muzzle-grey are my favourite, actually.”
“Excellent choice!” exclaimed the toe jam.
“On second-thinks, this is a ho-hum slipper. Do you got anything better?”
Get Home Safe Plan
- Fly high in slipper to view island perimeter from the air.
- Locate the dangling dog leash which is still there, we hope.
- Hover near top of dog leash and JUMP onto it from slipper.
- Scramble up into the dog dish in entrance hall at home.
Florence signed with an inky paw. But Fluffikins had been practising his signature. He was happy to finally use it, because he’d worked very hard on that flourish.
“And which one of you will be driving?” asked the toe jam.
“Me me me me me!” Florence was sick of acting not interested. Also, she reminded Fluffikins he had failed his driver’s test.
“Well you haven’t passed a driving test either,” piped Fluffikins.
“If I HAD sat my driving test I would DEFINITELY have passed it,” Florence replied. “At the supermarket I am very completely expert at driving the trolley.”
She was also experienced with flight paths. One time she had actually flown. In the AIR. Right over the bananas.
“I’m not a natural teacher,” sighed the toe jam. “Have a gander at the user manual.”
“Got it,” Florence said after a skim read. “Get in, Fluffy ole pal. I’m taking us home! By the way, how do you spell ‘home’?”
“Just as well ONE OF US learned their sight words. H.O.A.M.”
“Thanks. You do the snout noises. I’ll pretend to steer.”
They flew out of the city, over a forest, across a lake, then lurched over a mountain. Wilderness turned into farms, which gave way to suburbs.
“Ooh, we’re coming in to land,” said Florence.
Fluffikins looked grimmer and grimmer. “Why? Brrm! Why here?”
“Relax, Fluffy ole pal. Trust in the loafer.”
“What’s the procedure for crash landings?”
“Oh, I can pilot a landing. No problems.”
There was a good climbing tree in the Mutt family back yard. Florence had fallen out of it plenty of times. True to form, she always got back up.
Despite Fluffy’s brrm-ing, the slipper lost altitude. The dangling dog lead was nowhere in sight.
You can’t trust anyone around here, thought Fluffikins. That toe jam had got one onto them. Their ‘luxury’ loafer was faulty! It was not taking them home!
The vista below appeared to be… a creepy, leafy, Slipper Island suburb.
The slipper descended. It used the road as a landing strip.
They climbed out of the slipper and stood with their eyes closed, taking in the suburban breeze: part daffodil, part lawn clipping.
That part smelt familiar.
Across the crescent, pies sat cooling on windowsills. Also familiar. Florence made pies like these, but with dirt from the garden.
In the distance, clothes flapped whitely on clotheslines. An edge trimmer squeaked.
Fluffikins pushed his glasses high onto his nose-snout. He inspected their supposed abode.
“Florence,” said Fluffikins, “This joint doesn’t have much street appeal, just quietly.”