by Kirk Israel
Call me JinJin.
I am a Six Toed One Eyed Battery Operated Laser Sloth.
You could not easily pronounce the name of my home, but it translates as "The Place Where It All Is"
I have six toes, 3 per foot.
And of course, my one eye.
The eye is the source of our laser. We take pride in the strength and accuracy of our lasers.
When I was young, I could drop a Dokdok Tree nut from its Dokdok from a distance of 80 meters!
Batteries are the source of our energy and much of our culture.
We harvest them from our Alkaline Forests.
The battery replacement ritual is very important to us! You can't let just anyone replace your batteries! (We have a name for sloths like that!)
I wish to tell you a story from my past. I was very young, I had just received my first tie from the Tie Store.
(and what a day THAT had been - the ties of that age, so colorful, so much life!)
It was the time our Electronic Parchisi Tournament -
Sloths from across the land gather and through this system our leader is determined.
But as we parchised, a menace was creeping across the land.
They were the Zappers - creatures of electricity wrapped in a skin of malice - moving onto our precious Alkaline Forest like a hoard of locusts.
Long after, we could see that they had stripped the Alkaline trees of their homeland - all that was left was scrubbrush and waste branches.
Old ParNok had just proven his worth to be our leader when word of the Zapper invasion came
We tried to mount a defense. We used our lasers - at first warning shots, and then we used our beams directly.
But it was no use. Laser against Electricity - nothing. Electricity against sloth flesh, however...
...we lost many fine sloths that day.
The Zappers occupied our precious Alkaline Forest, leaving huge swaths of wasteland behind. I weep a single tear when I recall the beauty of that old growth.
Those were dark days. Many sloths went dark for want of batteries.
ParNok called a general meeting. Although I was all but a youngling, still sporting my first tie, I was allowed to speak. I had an idea.
"Lets get Puddo!"
I had met Puddo months before through a strange set of circumstances I will not relate here. But we had traveled together to the land of the Uniccordions, and I saw the respectful distance the Zappers kept from him.
The relationship between Puddo and the Sloths was even then the stuff of legend; something about the lending of a cup of milk during a hard time.
The messenger Mamabird was sent to Puddo's hi-rise condo...
(And that condo was something, hundreds of meters above the ground. He took me up there after our journey, I could see from What's-His-Name Island to Big Lake in the West!)
Puddo was almost arrogant in his confidence. The other sloths took heart in his stance, but even then I saw something else.
Anger? Hunger? Hubris? to this day I'm not certain.
We formed a small party and journeyed to the Alkaline Forrest.
Those first Zappers didn't stand a chance.
I feel honored to have been there to see the great warrior Puddo in his prime!
The Zapper's bolts ricocheted off his soft flesh, leaving just the tiniest scorch marks and the smell of burnt sugar
We hid behind a Flob Rock and hoped it didn't choose that moment to Flob.
The enemy had been beaten. Full of cheer, we went back to the gathering area to report of the glorious victory.
We started preparing small groups of foresters to inspect the forests, and to resume the harvest.
We were ready to resume life, but Puddo warned ParNok against complacency.
He encouraged us to form a war party and follow him. Because of the special relationship I had with Puddo, I was selected to carry the quart bottles of milk that was part of our tribute to the mighty Puddo, as well as some of his sustenance.
"Puddo", I asked, "How will we find them?"
Puddo confided in me that he had had a special device, a relic that could catch voices from the air, that was also excellent at locating Zappers.
For days we followed Puddo as he bounced along. I think I had my batteries changed twice, and could barely keep up.
Finally we spotted the Zappers in the distance.
There were hundreds of them! They had set up some kind of camp in the shadow of a big rock.
I hadn't realized Zappers could breed, but there were small Zappers running around, looking like snogworms after a heavy rain.
Puddo bounced forward. And just stood there.
You could hear a DokDok Tree nut fall.
Dozens and dozens of the Zappers gathered around him.
My fellow sloths and I retreated to the branches of a nearby tree. (We don't look like it, but Six Toed One Eyed Battery Operated Laser Sloths are terrific climbers.)
Some kind of signal was given. Energy started jumping between the Zapper Warriors
Sparks arced every which way, connecting them in a crazy lacework of electricity.
Puddo just stood, and grinned.
Then - the biggest ZAP I've seen and a second later, the loudest CRACK I have ever heard!
I turned my head, my eye blinded by the afterimage.
The air was bitter with ozone.
Puddo was gone.
I nearly cried out, but was sushed by one of my companions.
The Zappers were celebrating.
I couldn't understand their foul tongue, but their tone was clear. I shivered, thinking of what they might try now that they had vanquished our champion.
And then... and then...they looked up.
I could hardly believe it - it was Puddo.
Flocks of disturbed Mamabirds circled him.
But he was.... bigger than before? It was hard to tell, he was so far away
...But somehow his bulk continued to grow, and spread
He landed across the entire encampment
And that was that. The mighty Puddo took a few hours to shrink and regain his shape, made good use of the milk I had carried for all the miles.
For a month after, we roamed across "The Place Where It All Is"
Puddo used his Zappo-Detectomaticmeter and found the last groups of Zappers.
They weren't happy to see him, I'll tell you that at no cost!
At long last it was time to go back.
On our arrival, the Six Toed One Eyed Battery Operated Laser Sloths threw another Electronic Parcheesi Tournament.
(It was mostly our way of celebration, but I think too sloths were happy to see ParNok give up the tie of leadership.)
Puddo bounced back to his condo.
I accompanied him one last time.
He hummed his war song all the way home.
Tuba Ceral Killer
The Tie Store
The Big Tree
Mama Mamabird and baby mamabirds