#10 Cartoon Chaos
Satnav Steven

Ahoy there, story-seekers! It’s me, Satnav Steven, reporting from the observation deck of the Prattleship-class Narrative Ark, the Ever After.

Ooooooh, it’s been a strange day. Strange, even for us, and that’s saying something when you live on a flying vessel that sails the length and breadth of the Story Universe. You won’t believe me when I tell you what’s been going on… I’m certain you won’t… but I swear every word of what I’m about to say is true.

We’d spent a peaceful day wandering the Spoken Isle while Cook Conomos collected ingredients for a whopping great meal to celebrate our escape from the Lands of HORROR! Everything was calm and happy.

Once all the ingredients Cook needed had been found, we all headed back to the Ever After and I flew her gently over the Mountains of Wonder and out across the Bay of Funny. It was supposed to be a nice, quiet evening. I steered the ship starboard and set the narrative thrust to drift across the Plains of Nonsense.

Sounds lovely doesn’t it? I thought so, so I put my feet up and relaxed. I’ve really been getting the hang of this navigation malarkey recently and I was enjoying having the observation deck all to myself. Just me… my thoughts… AND A GIANT, SWIRLING, MULTI-COLOURED CLOUD RUSHING STRAIGHT TOWARDS US.

Before I could steer the Ever After to safety, the flashing cloud erupted from somewhere over the Cliffs of Cartoon and we flew straight into it. For a moment everything went dark, and the air was filled with the sound of cymbals, Swanee whistles, laughing, splats and crashes and whoopee cushions.

I thought I’d gone stark, raving bonkers until the darkness faded and the world twinkled back into view… but it wasn’t the same world I’d been looking at only seconds earlier. Everything on the observation deck was now brightly coloured and warped at strange angles. I glanced at my compass, and my compass glanced back at me with large, animated eyes. It winked, then suddenly sprouted arms and legs, and ran off in the direction of the Never Ending Store.

‘What’s going on?!?’ Captain Jones screamed as she came rushing onto the deck. I turned to face her and… and…

Captain Jones gawped at me. I gawped at Captain Jones. WE WERE CARTOONS!

The flashing, swirling cloud must have been a portal between the living and the animated worlds.

‘What have you done, Satnav?’ The Captain asked. She looked hilarious. Her hat now had two eyes on the front of it, and her uniform was wonky and massively over-sized. ‘I said, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE!?!’ Smoke billowed from her nostrils and her eyes turned red. Our cartoon captain was a lot scarier than the real Captain Jones, so I wasn’t going to keep her waiting. I opened my mouth to explain, but was quickly silenced as the ship’s wheel leaped down to the floor and started dancing a jig with all the other pieces of navigational equipment.

That was it! The Ever After spun out of control and twisted into a nosedive.

‘AAAAAGH! STOP THAT WHEEL!’ Captain Jones yelled as she flew past me. It felt like we were inside a tumble-dryer.

SPLAT!! ZING!! BLAMMO!!

Captain Jones made a swipe for the wheel as it clattered up the wall, but missed. It howled with high-pitched laughter and continued to dance about as the ship turned upside-down and rocketed across the Cliffs of Cartoon.

ZING!! BLUH!! WHOOMFF!!

I landed against the huge front window with a heavy BUMP, but bizarrely it didn’t hurt at all. I’d forgotten you can’t feel pain if you’re a cartoon. Brilliant!

With my face smooshed against the glass, I looked out and gasped with a mixture of wonder and terror at the view. Outside, I could see animated characters in their hundreds. They were whizzing about through the air, clambering up and down the smiling rock-face, and splashing through the twisty waves.

I couldn’t believe my eyes. As we spiraled along, I spotted a flying house attached to thousands of balloons. We narrowly missed it, swerving as the ship’s wheel bounced across the ceiling.

Below, a flying machine with a bald super-villain and his yellow minions riding in the cockpit fired its laser guns at us, and a pelican with two clown fish in its beak swooshed out of our path with a load SKWARK!

‘WE’RE GOING TO CRASH!’ Captain Jones bellowed as she cart-wheeled this way and that… but we didn’t. Somehow, our animated ship’s wheel seemed to know where it was taking us with its dancing.

I was starting to enjoy myself as we zipped close to the water and circled a mermaid singing on a rock, brushing her hair with a dinglehopper.

Whoosh! A palace of ice suddenly crystallized on the cliffs in front of us as a white-haired princess in a blue dress shot snowflakes from her fingertips.

The Ever After zoomed up and over the palace, then swooped down just in time to avoid a young Maui girl standing on the hand of a vast, green goddess.

‘WHEN IS THIS GOING TO END?’ The Captain huffed as she landed next to me against the window.

BLOP!! POW!! CRUNCH!!

Just by luck, I knew the answer. I’d been looking at maps of the Story Universe only yesterday and I knew the ocean between the Land of Funny and the Isles of Adventure marked the borders of the Cartoon World.

The ship’s wheel spun us out to sea and…

CRASH! BOOM! WHIZZ! POP! PFFFFFTTTTT! WAH-WAH-WAH!!

Everything on the observation deck bent and warped again, then returned to its usual “real world” appearance. The Ever After steadied itself and came to a slow cruise above the water, while Captain Jones and I tumbled to the floor with a painful WALLOP.

I suppose you can guess the rest. I’ve been put on deck-mopping duty for the rest of the evening by the Captain. She wasn’t too happy with me for flying us into that swirling, multi-coloured cloud, but between you and me, I’m glad I did.

Strangely, I’m in the mood to watch cartoons once I finally get back to my cabin tonight. Haha!

Happy story-seeking, adventurers!!!

Ever After…