CHAPTER 2 - The End of the World
Gorble, the Firemaster, was setting down a large pile of hay for Hoser, his watercamel, when he heard a rumbling sound. Hoser stopped sniffing the hay and looked up. There was a loud, resounding crash. Black plumes of dust and smoke rose up from the west.
“Let's go, Hoser! Duty calls,” Gorble said as he grabbed his axe and jumped onto Hoser's back. He ducked as they squeezed out of the firehouse entrance, riding fast towards the smoke. It seemed to be coming from Chief Fable's house. Hoser galloped through the streets, expertly leaping over Ubbles and carts. As they came closer, Gorble took him off the road into the yard around Chief Fable's house.
A large group of Ubbles had already gathered around it. From his perch, Gorble could see that the chief's study had been destroyed. A large boulder sat smack in the middle of the room. The dust was starting to settle and there was a small fire where the fireplace had been.
Hoser stopped before the crowd to avoid stampeding them. Gorble patted her on the neck to proceed and shouted, “Let us through! Move aside!”
The crowd backed up, opening a path for Hoser. She trotted right up to the study. The fire had started growing, catching onto the curtains and the wooden frame of the sunhole. Gorble could see smoke coming out from one of the other smaller sunholes a few yards off. Left alone, the fire would soon spread to the whole house.
Gorble said, “Spray away, Hoser!” Hoser rolled out her long trunk and let loose a torrent of water. Within thirds, the entire study was flooded and all the flames were out. Small pockets of water collected in gaps in the debris. Papers and pencils floated up. Knocked over inkbottles streaked the water red, blue and purple.
There was a movement under the rubble. Gorble jumped off Hoser's back, took out his axe, and walked around the sunhole's circumference searching for signs of life. A wet, dirty, plump hand twisted out from under a beam. The sleeve was torn, snagged in the nails protruding from the beams. Gorble heard a thin raspy voice whisper, “Help!”
He bent down and grabbed the hand in his strong grip. “Are you okay?”
“Yesh!” said the voice, now stronger and clearer. Gorble recognized Chief Fable. “Help me out of here.”
“Don't move, Chief. Let me get these beams out of the way,” said Gorble as he let go of the hand. There was a long support beam pressing down on the debris around Chief Fable's hand. Gorble dropped his axe on the ground and grabbed the heavy beam. He flexed his muscles and heaved. The beam pulled free with an awful screech. He set it down on the path along the study.
The chief pushed aside a panel and a couple of smaller beams trapping him, and climbed out. Gorble caught his arm and helped him onto the grass, setting him down next to a kukamber tree. Chief Fable's face was streaked with dirt; his clothes were torn and stained. Gorble checked him quickly. No broken bones. His heart rate was high but overall he was okay. Gorble took out a gourd of Nergi juice. Chief Fable drank it down in a gulp. The shock and the exertion had drained him.
Gorble asked, “Was anyone else in there with you?”
“Nooh,” replied the chief, “I was alone in the study. Xandria and the boys have gone to the market.”
Gorble turned towards the crowd. They were coming closer to the study – Tremble and Feeble were at the edge of the hole, peering in. An inadvertent nudge, and they would fall. Gorble spotted Plumble, the plumber, coming towards him, a big solid, dependable Ubble.
Gorble called out, “Plumble, can you keep everyone a few yards away from the wreckage? It could get dangerous.”
“Sure, Firemaster!” said Plumble as he grabbed Tremble and Feeble, two skinny Ubbles, by the collars, pulling them from the edge. Turning to the rest, he spread his arms out wide and shouted, “Get back! Get back!” The crowd retreated reluctantly.
Chief Fable groaned and tried to get up. Gorble caught him as he stumbled. The Chief steadied himself and surveyed the remains of his study. It had been almost completely demolished. Hardly anything was left intact. The boulder loomed menacingly in a puddle of water and debris.
His face crumbling, he broke down. “My study! My beautiful study!”
Chief Fable's house, like most Ubble houses, was built largely under the ground. Ubbles like to live close to the earth since most of them are afraid of heights. The only parts of the house that were usually visible from the outside were the round protruding roof windows called sunholes. The chief's study was his favorite room. It was the biggest room in his house and in the village. It had an enormous sunhole almost as big as the room, with stained glass windows depicting scenery from around Scrabble village. Chief Fable loved to sit back in his comfortable chair every afternoon, reading a book, basking in the warmth of the sun.
Plumble scratched his beard. “Now, where did this boulder come from?”
Bauble, one of the Ubbles who had come closer, now that the dust had settled, adjusted the glasses on his nose and whispered, “That’s God's Golfball!”
Gorble nodded slowly. It was God's Golfball indeed. In the heat of the moment, he had not recognized it at all.
Plumble whispered, “God has started his game. The end of the world has begun!”
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