Gib Finney’s sequel to THE POWER OF UN
Sort of, but Not Quite
17 April 2008, Finney @ 4:28 pm

Finally, I have a free afternoon to write some more about Donald the wood frog and how he got us onto the icebreaker.

If you will recall, Donald refused to eat the crickets we got from Mr. Grabowski’s pet store. So after much gnashing of teeth, we decided to put him back in the woods to fend for himself. The problem being that when I stuck my pencil in the ground to mark the spot where we left him, it speared a scrap of soggy paper, or at least I thought it was paper at first. It was folded in eighths and was sort of a boogery beige that looked as if it might have once have been white. As I began to open it up, I realized it didn’t feel quite right to be paper. It was thin enough, but paper that wet should have been falling apart. It was way too strong, and it was slippery.

When I got it unfolded all the way, I looked at it, blinked, and looked again. There was a message on it, written in purple, in a big, hurried scrawl. As Rainy leaned over my shoulder, she gasped. The message said, Donald is your ticket to the science fair. Don’t lose him. VTY, Dr. Gibson Finney.

I took the sheet over to the big flat rock and smoothed it out so we could all see it. The purple writing wasn’t a solid line, as it would be if someone had used a pen. It was made up of tiny dots, almost as if it had come out of a printer, except it wasn’t a font. It looked like handwriting. In a weird, alternate dimension sort of way, it looked like my handwriting. Dr. Gibson Finney. It was a note to us from my future self.

“What does VTY mean?” said Ash in a hushed voice.

I shook my head. “No clue.”

“It means Very Truly Yours,” said Rainy.

Ash’s mouth hung open, one side tilted slightly upward in a crazy cross between shock and a grin. He turned and nailed me with a maniacal look. “Or maybe Very Truly You,” he said.

All I could manage in return was a very sickly smile.

We sat on the rock for a long time, staring at the writing that was like mine, but not quite, written with a purple pen, but not quite, on something like paper, but not quite.

Finally, Rainy said, “Gib, if you made a special trip back in time to deliver this to yourself, it must be very important.”

I frowned, because my brain had been going several hundred miles per hour since the moment I opened the message, and I had already figured out that me making a special trip back in time to deliver the message to myself was just one possibility. “Yeah, or maybe I just left it for myself last time I was here.”

“It doesn’t matter,” said Ash. “Either way, it’s important. You went to a lot of trouble to tell yourself not to…” Ash’s eyes went wide. “OMG!” he shouted. “Where is Donald?”

He had a point. In all the excitement, we had somewhat forgotten about the subject of the message. In a flurry, the three of us were down on our hands and knees, searching through the dead leaves at the foot of the rock. Eventually, I was the one who found him, already beginning to refreeze, pretty much exactly where we left him. We decided, given everything that had just happened, our old plan was defunct, and Donald would have to come home with us again. So, still inside his ball of leaves, we wrapped him up in the message and headed back.

First, though, I took out the yellow Ticonderoga pencil again and pushed it into the dirt till only about an inch of it was still above ground. I was pretty sure Old Gib would appreciate a marker, so he would know exactly where to leave the message when the time came, whenever that was.

After that, all we had to do was figure out exactly how Donald was our ticket to the science fair. Oh yeah…and how to keep him from dying of starvation. Next post. 🙂