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The Sky Blue Seed (adapted from a Japanese children's tale by Nakagawa Rieko)


Jimmy was climbing into his bi-plane when the fox slunk out of the wood. The fox held out his paw and said with a sly grin, “I’ll swap this seed for that plane.” Jimmy looked at the seed. It was sky blue. He’d never seen a sky blue seed before. “All right,” he said with a shrug. He climbed out of the cockpit and traded his plane for the sky blue seed.

Jimmy planted the sky blue seed and watered it every day. Soon it sprouted into a tiny house. Ants came and made it their home. He continued to water it and watched it grow. Soon it was large enough for a family of mice to move in. The ants made room for the mice and everyone was happy. As it increased in size, the number of occupants increased, too. The mice welcomed a chicken and her chicks, and they in turn made room for a pair of wild boar.

As the house grew in size and occupancy, word got around the animal kingdom and soon animals were traveling from far and wide. A mountain goat from the Andes and her seven little kids, a lone polar bear from the North Pole, a pride of lions from the African Savanna, a pack of wolves from Alaska and kangaroos! You've never seen so many kangaroos in one place.

Before long there were birds and beasts, insects and arachnids, reptiles and amphibians, herbivores and carnivores, from all corners of the globe, all living together under the same roof. And when the fish wanted a room, the animals pulled together to dig a canal that led to the house from the rivers and the oceans.

Time passed. The animals lived happily in peace and harmony in Jimmy’s sky blue house, where the aardvark lay down with the ant.

Then, one day the sound of an airplane seared through the skies. All the animals watched the fox bring the plane into land.

The fox stepped out of the battered and worn bi-plane. He swaggered up to the house, where Jimmy was watering the foundations and said, “Jimmy, I have traveled far and wide, but nowhere in the world have I seen such a magnificent house. Since it was grown from my seed, I insist that you return it to me. Here is your plane.”

The animals expressed their disapproval, but Jimmy took the plane back without question. In an instant the fox was ushering all the animals from the house and claiming it for his own.

The fox slunk from room to room in the sky blue house, admiring the capaciousness, his chest swelling with pride at this new found wealth. But as his pride increased, so did the size of the house. For even a house the size of the sky blue house was not large enough to accommodate the fox’s infinite pride.

All the animals gathered around to watch the sky blue house grow bigger and bigger, until an aardvark cried, “It’s going to hit the sun!”

There was a blinding flash and a deafening explosion. Pandemonium erupted. The animals scattered. Ants scuttled off in different directions, desperately avoiding the aardvark's tongue. A bear swiped salmon from the canal with its grizzly paw and a lioness hurtled into the forest on the tail of a wild boar.

Once the debris had settled it was clear that the world, once vivid in color, had turned a pale shade of grey. The sky blue house was gone and in its place was the fox, lying on the ground, dazed.

Jimmy brought the fox some water to revive him. The fox looked Jimmy in the eye and said, “Why didn’t you leave?”

Jimmy pointed to the battered bi-plane. He smiled and said, “I want you to show me the world.”

Mark Lee Pearson is an Englishman living in Japan. His stories have appeared at Liars' League, Eternal Press, Beyond Centauri, and forthcoming at AlienSkin, Susurrus Press and Space and Time Magazine.