This story will be composed of four chapters, four bedtime stories that each turtle will tell Chloe.
So here's part one of the first chapter, "Leo and the Beanstalk."
Little Chloe sniffled and reached for the tissue box on the dresser next to her bed. She took another tissue out and blew into it with a loud HONK! This was her twenty-sixth tissue so far today (or so she guessed). Her nearby trash can was already filled to the top with used, wet ones. Her nose was starting to feel raw from the continuous wiping.
She glanced at the window in her room and sighed, coughing in the process.
When is he going to get here? He promised to be here by eight o' clock.
She turned her head and closed her eyes, feeling even more tired by the minute. Just when she thought her invited guest was never going to show up, she heard a light tap at her window. She instantly turned around and smiled widely when she saw what it was.
Mister Turtle had finally arrived.
Chloe jumped out of bed and opened the widow, letting Leo in. She immediately wrapped her arms around his shell, and he gently patted her head in return.
"Hey, Chloe," he said with a warm smile. "Sorry I'm late. Are you ready for your story now?"
She released her grip and looked up at him, excitement written all over her face. "You bet, Mister Turtle!" she shouted with glee.
Leo suddenly shushed her, gently putting his scaled finger to her tiny lips. "Shh! Chloe, we need to lower our voices," he whispered urgently.
"Oh, okay," she whispered back. She jumped back into bed and laid her head on her pillow, waiting anxiously for the bedtime story he promised. Leo sat on the edge of the bed next to her and pulled up the covers, tucking her in.
"So, Chloe, do you know the story 'Jack and the Beanstalk'?"
"Of course I do! Is that what you're going to tell me tonight?"
"Well, sort of. I figured it'd be more interesting if I added a few…changes and twists to it."
"What kind of changes?"
"Well, let's say that Jack was actually a turtle, and his name wasn't 'Jack', but 'Leonardo' instead…"
Once upon a time, a turtle named Leonardo and his three brothers lived on a small farm. They were very poor, and the only source of their income was their elderly cow, Mona (it was a good thing that Raph wasn't around to hear this story, otherwise he'd beat the living daylights out of Leo for naming the cow after his girlfriend). Every morning, her milk was carried to the market to be sold. But then one morning, Mona just couldn't make any more milk, and they were running out of options.
"So now what do we do, Leo?" a worried Donnie said as they all sat at the kitchen table, their plates and glasses empty. Mikey was so hungry that he started to lick the plates, trying to pretend that they were enjoying their usual eggs and ham for breakfast. Raph just sat in his chair with his arms folded, feeling very angry about the situation they were in. Leo, who was the leader of the family, rubbed his chin and thought carefully. He had to think of a way to make money and put food on the table.
He then came up with a solution: "We're gonna have to sell Mona."
"What?!" Mikey dropped his plate in shock. "Sell Mona?! But she's part of the family!"
"She's a cow, Mikey," Raph said roughly (again, good thing the real Raph wasn't here). "All she's good for is making milk and manure. And right now she can only make the latter of the two," he mumbled the last part.
"Besides, if we don't sell her to the market and earn more money, we'll eventually starve to death," Donnie added.
"Don't be sad about Mona, Mikey," Leo said as he put his hand on his brother's shoulder. "She'll soon be in a better place."
Mikey gasped loudly and his eyes filled with tears. "You mean…Cow Heaven?"
"Uh, no, I meant," Leo gulped nervously, trying to think of something that would cheer Mikey up, "the…Cow Retirement Home!"
Raph raised an invisible eyebrow. "Cow Retirement Home?" he snorted. Leo immediately shot him a "Shut your mouth or I'll do it for you" look.
"Yeah, the Cow Retirement Home!" he said encouragingly to Mikey. "It's where all the cows that can't make any more milk go and eat all the grass they want! She'll be much happier there."
Mikey seemed convinced by this and smiled a little. "Good. I want her to be happy."
After Mikey tearfully bid Mona goodbye, Leo led her across the countryside to the market. As he got closer to the village, he spotted a small figure with a walking stick in the distance ahead of him. As the figure got closer, Leo realized that it was sparrow wearing a cloak and a peg leg. When the two finally came face to face, the sparrow politely took a bow.
"Good afternoon," the sparrow said. "I am Sir Malachi, an all powerful wizard."
"Um, hello, Sir Malachi," Leo politely bowed back. "I'm Leonardo."
"Tell me Leonardo, where are you going with that fine looking cow there?" Sir Malachi pointed to Mona.
"We're taking her to the market," Leo leaned in closer to whisper to Sir Malachi. "She can't make any more milk, so we're hoping the butcher will buy her from us."
"Really?" Sir Malachi rubbed his feathered chin. "I could use a cow like her."
Leo looked at the sparrow confused. "You…you could?"
"Of course! See, I've just invented a new magic potion: the 'Jump-Over-the-Moon' potion! A large, heavy cow like her would be a perfect test subject!" Sir Malachi pulled something out of his pouch.
"In exchange for your cow," he showed Leo what was in his hand, "I will give you these magic beans."
In his palm were three simple green beans. Leo looked at the sparrow skeptically.
"Magic beans?" Leo repeated with a frown. "You expect me to believe that? Look, I don't have time for any of your scams. I've got a family to feed."
Sir Malachi looked offended. "Scams?!" he shouted angrily. "You callin' me a phony?! I'll show you how much of a phony I really am!"
He raised his walking stick in the air, waving it around widely, and almost immediately, a big puff of smoke appeared out of nowhere in front of Leo. When the smoke cleared, a giant, hungry-looking alligator was suddenly staring down at Leo, licking its chops.
Leo gulped nervously. "O-okay! Okay! I-I-I believe you!" he stuttered fearfully.
Sir Malachi seemed satisfied and waved his stick once more. The alligator disappeared in another puff of smoke. The sparrow handed the beans to Leo, who in turn handed Mona's leash to him.
"Now listen carefully," Sir Malachi pointed at the beans in Leo's hand, "you've only one chance to plant those beans. Once you've used them, you'll never get any more magic beans. So use them wisely."
Leo nodded at the sparrow. "I understand. Thank you."
"No," Sir Malachi bowed, "thank you, Leonardo." And with that, the wizard walked off with Mona, leaving Leo with nothing but a couple of beans in his hands.
He knew that no one in the village would ever buy a couple of "magic" beans from him. Well, except maybe the village idiot, Jones, if he even had money.
Leo sighed. How was he going to explain this to his hungry family?
"When is Leo gonna get back already?" Raph huffed, sitting in a wooden chair next to the fireplace. Donnie threw another log into the fire while Mikey sat on the floor in front of it, warming his hands.
"I know," Donnie sighed. "I'm ready for some fresh cheese and crackers."
"And pizza bites!" Mikey chirped in.
Just then, Leo walked through the front door, a tired look on his face.
"Finally!" Raph exclaimed and lifted himself out of the chair. "Took ya long enough!" He then noticed that Leo didn't have any bags of food in his hands. "Wait. Where's the food?" Leo didn't answer him and nervously rubbed his neck. "Leo. Where. Is. The. Food?" Raph repeated slowly.
"Well, uh," Leo said nervously, "you see, I was on my way to the market when I, uh, ran into this…this wizard. And at first I thought he was a phony, but then he…"
"Get to the point, Leo!" Raph loudly interrupted. Leo could tell that he was getting angrier by the second. After all, a hungry Raph is an angry Raph.
Leo prepared himself for a pummeling. "Well, I…I sold the cow for his magic beans." He held out his hand, showing the beans to his brothers.
There was complete silence for a moment, before Mikey leaned in closer to look at the beans. "Wow," he whispered. "Are they really magic, Leo?"
"I guess they are," Leo said quietly. "I had no choice but to take them from him. Otherwise he'd feed me to his alligator."
"Oh, that's just great, Leo!" Donnie said angrily. "You gave away our only chance at making any money and for what?! A couple of lousy beans that some crackpot claimed to be magic!"
"But Donnie, he really was a wizard!" Leo tried to explain, but then Raph grabbed him by the shoulders and got nose to nose with him. His entire face was as red as an apple and steam was coming out of his unseen ears.
"WE DEPENDED ON YOU TO GET FOOD!" Raph screamed at the top of his lungs. "NOW THANKS TO YOU WE'RE GONNA STARVE! WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO EAT NOW, HUH?! DIRT?!"
"We could eat some logs," Mikey said quietly. "They're pretty filling." But he didn't help the situation at all.
Raph suddenly grabbed the beans out of Leo's hand and threw them out the window. Leo didn't attempt to stop him. He knew that he had failed his family. He lowered his head in shame as Raph stomped upstairs.
"'Magic beans'," he mocked as he went up the stairs. "What a bunch of baloney!" They heard the door to their bedroom slam hard.
"Huh? Bologna? Where?" Mikey quickly looked around him, his mouth drooling like a waterfall. "Where's the bologna?"
Donnie rolled his eyes and sighed exasperatedly. "Come on, Mikey," he said, picking up a couple of logs. "Looks like we're having logs for dinner." He and Mikey walked into the kitchen, but he stopped at the doorway for a moment to give Leo a hateful glare.
Leo slowly walked to the couch and sat down, putting his head in his hands. Before their father died, he made Leo promise to look after his younger brothers. What would his father think of him now?
A failure, that's what.
Later that night, while the turtles slept soundly, a tiny plant started to grow out of the ground next to the window…
Mikey yawned as he walked downstairs the next morning. He instinctively headed toward the kitchen, but then he remembered that they were completely out of food. Sighing sadly, he decided to go out for a morning walk. He noticed that the living room was still dark, and yet the kitchen was filled with sunlight. For a brief moment he was confused, but then he shrugged it off and went to the front door. As soon as he opened it, though, he found that something very large and green was blocking his way.
"GUYS, QUICK! WAKE UP!"