He approached the lily pad with utmost caution. There was something not quite right about this particular lily pad, but he’d be buggered if he could figure out what it was. Was it the smell? The ta--?
‘Don’t!’ said Spalding, as he saw what MacIver was about to do.
‘Don’t what?’ said MacIver, around his string-like tongue, which had unravelled just millimetres short of the edge of the lily pad.
‘Don’t taste the lily pad!’ said Spalding. ‘Unless you want us both to become at one with the subatomic structure of the universe.’
‘“At one”?’ said MacIver. ‘Is it a Shamanic lily pad?’
‘What do you mean?’ said Spalding.
‘I mean,’ said MacIver, ‘is it infused with hallucinogenic substances, which will cause me to have isions about the fundamental Source of All Things?’
‘Erm… no,’ said Spalding. ‘It’s a bomb.’
‘Holy sh--!’ said MacIver, as he quickly retracted his tongue; so quickly, in fact, that it went half-way down his throat and caused him to choke.
Spalding jumped up and down on MacIver’s back, until MacIver spat out his tongue.
‘Better?’ said Spalding.
‘Not really,’ said MacIver. ‘You’ve just informed me we are sharing our pond with a bomb!’
‘It could be worse,’ said Spalding.
‘How?’ said MacIver.
‘It could be two bombs,’ said Spalding.
‘I think I need a lie down,’ said MacIver, as he jumped onto a lily pad which he knew was safe, because he had just recently sat on it as he ate an FLT (Fly, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich). He then rolled onto his back, stared up at the sun and tried to get his little froggy head around how dangerous his world had suddenly become.
‘Actually,’ said Spalding, ‘it wouldn’t really make much difference if it was two bombs - well, not to us, anyhow.’
‘Why not?’ said MacIver.
‘Two nuclear bombs, one nuclear bomb,’ said Spalding. ‘Heck, it could be a hundred nuclear bombs, as far as its capacity for atomising everything we know goes.’
‘You didn’t say it was a nuclear bomb!’ said MacIver, as he flicked back over onto his front and started to choke on his tongue again.
Spalding did the jumping-up-and-down-on-MacIver’s-back thing again. ‘You want to be careful with that tongue of yours,’ he said. ‘It could be the death of y--’
MacIver gave him a very stern look indeed.
‘Well, you know what I mean,’ said Spalding.
‘This may seem like an utterly ludicrous question,’ said MacIver, ‘but why,’ he continued, ‘is there a bomb in the shape of a lily pad in the middle of our pond?’
‘I suppose it would be harder to sneak past the pond guards if it looked like a bomb,’ said Spalding.
‘No, I mean why--’
Spalding’s tongue flicked out and caught a fly just as it was about to land on the lily pad/nuclear bomb. He retracted his tongue and swallowed the fly, with an audible gulp.
MacIver looked at Spalding.
Spalding licked his froggy lips.
‘Is there something you’re not telling me?’ said MacIver.
‘About what?’ said Spalding.
‘About the lily pad-shaped nuclear bomb… the so-called “pond guards”… the fact that you seemed to just know that the fly would set off the bomb if it landed on it.’
‘It’s better to be safe than sorry.’
‘Don’t give me that.’
‘I’m not giving you anything.’
‘How long have we known each other?’
‘In frog years or human years?’
‘In frog years, obviously. Why would I be the slightest bit interested in human years?’
‘Our lives are hanging in the balance! The entire pond is teetering over the precipice of annihilation! ‘Fess up, frog! What do you know?!’
‘If I told you, I would have to kill you.’
‘What are y--?!’
It was then that MacIver’s world became enshrouded in a black veil.
* * *
‘Wh-where… am… I?’ said MacIver, as he squinted up at the dazzling white light and felt the cold, hard steel of something cold and hard and made out of steel beneath him.
‘You asked too many questions,’ said the voice of Spalding. ‘You should have just trusted me.’
‘Sp-Spalding…’ said MacIver, as he tried to move his head.
‘Don’t try to move your head,’ said the voice of Spalding.
‘You’re strapped to an operating table… for your own safety, of course.’
‘Perhaps you’d better go back to sleep for a bit.’
MacIver felt a sharp pain in his leg. The veil descended once more.
* * *
The sun twinkled on the pond, as if hundreds of tiny crystals floated on its surface. All was still a little blurry to MacIver, but he was aware that he was now on a lily pad. It was the only lily pad in the pond. Except for the one that Spalding was sat on.
‘Spalding…?’ said MacIver.
‘Welcome back to the land of the living, my friend,’ said Spalding.
‘“Living”?’ - MacIver jumped straight up and landed back on the lily pad; he flicked out his tongue; he shook himself about a bit - ‘Thank Frog for that.’
‘What did you expect?’ said Spalding. ‘You did only fall asleep.’
‘“Fall asleep”?’ said MacIver.
‘Is there an echo in here?’
‘But the bomb…’
‘Bomb? What bomb?’
‘The lily pad-shaped nuclear bomb! The one that was about to annihilate everything we know!’
‘What an imagination you have, MacIver… Most frogs dream of flies and… more flies… and meeting Mr or Mrs Frog!’
‘But there was--’
It was then that MacIver noticed Spalding was wearing shades. He had never known Spalding to wear shades. In fact, he had never known a frog to wear shades. Especially not ones so black that they totally obscured their eyes.
‘Fancy a BLT?’ said Spalding.
‘Don’t you mean an FLT?’ said MacIver.
‘Of course,’ said Spalding; ‘that’s what I said.’
Spalding went off to make the sandwiches.
[ to be continued... (maybe)... ]