Have you seen Ponder?
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Lethe woke with the sun streaming into the mouth of her and Foggy's cave. She sat up and looked out over Talktown, basking in the early morning sunshine. Like every morning the first thing she saw was Ponder's Pool and the Hose shed, and like every morning it gave her a sense of well-being and contentment. She got up, dressed and walked out of the cave into the sunshine. All was well with the Cosmos, as far as she could see. She looked around, searching for Foggy.

"Cock-a-doodle-do!"

Aah, there he was, on his early morning forage. It was amazing some of the things he found, especially after a Talk Party. Suddenly, she heard a familiar 'fap, fap, fap', and looking up spied oTTo. She waved and called out.

"Lethe! Lethe!" oTTo yelled and hurriedly flew down to where Lethe stood, alighting in a cloud of old bits of bandage.

"Hey, what's up oTTo? asked Lethe.

"The Pool! The Pool! Look at the Pool!"

Lethe ignored the obvious owl pun from oTTo and looked at the Ponder Pool. There it was, blue as ever, there was the shed, and Grandad Allen snoring away in his rocking chair. She could see Fishter's tent and the burrows where Skipai, Harvey, Thumper and Ferret lived. All the trees were standing. It all looked normal to her.

"Is this another of your silly japes, oTTo?" She asked, "it looks fine to me."

"Naah, look carefully, 'specially at the level. Does it look a bit low to you?"

"Now you mention it, yeah, it does seem a bit lower than normal. Have you seen Ponder?"

"No, I think he must be in Real-Life. I called at Chez Ponder first, but got no answer," explained oTTo. "No-one at the Shed either."

Just then Foggy strutted up.

"What's up?"

"Hi ya Foggy," said oTTo, "see anything unusual about the Pool today?"

Foggy looked at the Lake. He couldn't see anything at first, then he noticed it. A thin brown line around the top of the Pool.

"It's shrunk!" He said, "and if I'm not mistaken it's still shrinking! Have you seen Ponder?"

oTTo explained about Ponder's absence.

"Bloody Real-Life!" said Foggy. "Suppose we best take a closer look. See if we can do anything."

The trio set off down the hill towards Ponder's Pool, chattering to each other about what may have happened to the Pool;

"I bet it's that Ferret."

"Well, it couldn't have been kat."

"OK, looking at the flow rate, coupled with the available volume of the Pool, integrated against the viscosity of the liquid and taking into account the flow variable constant due to the constant variable flow, multiplied by the flow constant variable divided by one over the inertial differential (carry the two), minus the actuator impedance factor equals....one."

"What?"

"What?"

Just then, they heard a wooshing and swooshing sound from behind.

"Freeeeedom for Scotlaaaaaand!" bellowed out from the little black and white blur that whizzed past them. Skillfully, Pingu steered himself around oTTo, Lethe and Foggy, and now heading directly for the Pool, he raised both flippers in the air and continued to slide down the hill. Just at the last moment he lowered his flippers, took off from the edge of the Pool, elegantly forming a pike before silently entering the Pool beak first, barely causing a ripple.

"He's getting better."

"It's all about confidence and self-belief."

"Nice arc of the circumference tangental to the hypotenuese!"

"What?"

"What?"

By this time they had reached the edge of the Pool, just as Pingu was climbing out. He shook himself to get rid of the contents of the pool still attached to his feathers, the rest already forming a small puddle at his feet.

"Och, is it me, or does that look a little light to youse?" Asked Pingu of the the others, pointing at the Pool.

"Yep, oTTo noticed it and we were just coming to have a look. I calculate about an hour before it's all gone." replied Foggy.

"Jeezuz. Ha'ya seen Pondah?"

"In Real-Life, we think." explained oTTo. "Now there's four of us, maybe we should split up and have a look around. See if we can find anything suspicious. Foggy, you and Lethe check out down towards Scrumble, and Pingu and I will check out the Hose Shed. Holler if you see anything."

Scrumble's barrel was hidden by the trees at the side of the Pool as Lethe and Foggy hurried along the bank, looking for anything out of place. It was Foggy that noticed it. A small piece of disturbed earth between the trees, only given away by the small glint of sunlight reflecting on something just poking out of the ground.

"Looks like a Ponder Hose." Said Foggy, when he and Lethe had taken a closer look. "Someone's being greedy by the looks of. Come on, let's see if Scrunmble has seen anything."

At that moment there came a shout from the direction of the Hose Shed. It echoed across Talk Town;

"Saaaasaaanaaachhhhs!"

Foggy and Lethe looked at each other. "Pingu!" they said together. Both assuming Pingu and oTTo had also found the mysterious hose somewhere along the way, they waited for them to arrive, and sure enough, a 'fap,fap,fap' sound started to become apparent, closely followed by a 'fappity, fap, fap, fappity, fap" sound which heralded the eventual arrival of oTTo and Pingu.

"You found the hose then?" said Lethe.

"Aye! Someone's pullin' on ma third flipper, and that's a fact." stated Pingu, "any idees?"

"Folk Hall," said Foggy.

"Ah woz only askin', n'nid t'be sa nastee!"

"Naah, you silly Pingu. Foggy means Folk Hall. Where all the Little Folks live," Lethe explained, "You know what they're all like, always after something for free."

"Havin' a sneakah paateh, eh? Bluddah heathuns. Lits git 'em!"

As they marched off in the direction of Folk Hall, they passed Scrumble's Barrel. He surprised them all by suddenly popping up, saying;

"Hey, psst! I think there's something wrong with the Pool. Have you've seen Ponder?"

"Ponder's off in Real-Life somewhere. Looks like it's Folk Hall we've to worry about though, reckons Foggy," said oTTo.

"OK, I'll go back to sleep then." replied Scrumble, and he disappeared back into his barrel.

"We've already done that joke," retorted oTTo, "so you may as well come with us to see what they're up to. Pingu thinks they've been having a sneaky party."

With a 'Bluddeh English', accompanied with a number of other choice words that would struggle to get a match even on googlewatch.com, the growing assembly resumed the disjointed trek towards Folk Hall. As they came closer to the extavaganza that was Folk Hall, it was obvious that something was going on. Bright, flashing lights came from every window, and Lethe noticed, all of a sudden, how dark and overcast the sky was. The sunlight that had greeted her waking had been Folk Hall after all, and she realized it was actually gone eleven at night!

"Right! Enough of this! Let's show these Little Folkers how to have a decent party," she said, with gritted teeth. She rolled up her sleeves.

Armed with their new set of gritted teeth and now sporting an overly tight set of rolled-up sleeves, they all marched together up to the door of Folk Hall. The noise of the music, playing somewhere in the depths of the building, was deafening. Hades would seem tame in comparison. Probably. Lethe would have to check.

A more intense wave of noise greeted the travellers as the front door burst open, closely followed by a number of bodies that spilled out onto the doorstep in front of them. Foggy knelt down and lifted what appeared to be the head of a body. Which one it was attached towas a different matter.

"Greg? Greg? Are you all right?" he asked.

"Abababshoelootlee, yessh," murmured the Ferret, "But you should've seen Ponder!"

Even to this day, The Ferret is still unable to describe fully the torment afforded him for that punchline and it remains forever hidden. There is, however, a certain school of thought that exists whereby Foggy, confused by the flashing lights and heavy music, mis-identified the speaker of those fateful words. Despite countless witness accounts, a clear picture has never emerged as to who the perpertrator was and the author will deny it always. I mean, Greg and I don't even have the same hair dresser!