Well, here we are! Another filler chapter *slaps self*, but I really had to go back and explain, as well as introduce some OC's! And no, to whoever it was who inboxed me this request (if you're reading this right now) Thing One and Thing Two will NOT be coming into the story . . . yet. Be patient!

***SPECIAL CHALLENGE***: If any of you people can spot the reference to "The Dark Knight" in here, not only will you gain my awe and admiration (it's a REALLY subtle reference) but I will write a chapter of this story entirely based on whatever you want me to! (I'll make it work with the story, I promise.) GOOD LUCK AND HAPPY READING!!

Disclaimer: I have less of a chance of owning Seussical than Heath Ledger had of attending The Dark Knight movie premier. R.I.P. Heath Ledger! I LOVE YOU!!! D'=


The Jungle of Nool, Several Weeks Earlier

It was raining, but I didn't mind. I had my trusty blue umbrella gripped in my hand, durable navy cloth spread out above my hat as a shield against the unforgiving torrent of droplets. I was always prepared.

Actually, prepared would be an understatement. I make a distinct effort to be constantly ahead of the game. This, my friends, I would strongly advise you to always be, as it will greatly benefit you in quite a few ways. Except maybe socially. For some reason being ten steps ahead of everyone else has gotten me nothing but annoyance and frustration from anyone I come into contact with. Ludicrous really; they should be showering me with admiration. I've always found it amusing how silly people can be. So I'll laugh, crack a witty joke to lighten up the mood, but that just aggravates them even more!

Ha! And you think I'm touched in the head!

The streets of Nool aren't paved, and therefore become extremely messy in bad weather. My Converse were going to regret this. I quickened my long strides, strolling past families of anthropomorphic jungle creatures who were all hastening to get back home before it started thundering. Most of them didn't give me a single glance; however, I noticed a few of the younger children staring at me wide-eyed. I did a bunch of cartwheels for their entertainment, and when they stopped to watch, laughing, their parents or other elder guardian grabbed them and hurried them along. I felt a bit sad, thinking about how bored these poor kids would be cooped up in a house all day with absolutely no creative encouragement or stimuli, but I didn't have time to be making house calls.

Finally, I reached a sign reading "RIVER WALOO, NORTHWEST BEND NUMBER 2: 300 FEET". It pointed down a path lined by banana trees.

Wickersham territory.

Not that I had anything to worry about; it was highly improbable that any of them would be able to see me– monkeys have very little imagination. No, I was more concerned that I'd walk into one of their bullying sessions and feel obliged to intervene. I really couldn't afford to lose any more time. I'd already pushed my luck far enough by putting the Whos in limbo while I positioned them where they needed to be for Scene One, not to mention creating a time lapse so that it would seem to Jojo as if we had simply skipped straight from my introductory number to "coloring in" the Jungle of Nool. ("Coloring in" is my own little phrase for touching up, redefining, giving character to, et cetera.) Right now, I needed to find the breeze which would be blowing past Horton precisely three minutes and seventeen seconds from where I would be ending the time lapse and bringing the Whos out of their frozen state.

Turning onto the path, my sensitive nose was immediately attacked the overwhelming smell of bananas. My whiskers twitched as I wrinkled my nose and I sped up again. I've never particularly liked bananas– in fact, I'm not fond of food in general. Of course, I have to occasionally eat just like everyone else, but I try to do so as little as possible. I don't have to eat as much as the average person because I'm a Think and . . . well, I won't bore you with a lecture.

I have to say, though, that even the most avid banana lover would probably be repelled by the scent that was saturating the air in this part of the jungle. As I made my way down the lane I had to maneuver around piles of banana peels and squashed, rotting hunks of the fruit that were strewn everywhere. Those Wickershams are such slobs. Plus, a few of the monkey brothers were scrambling around chasing each other, and dodging around the rambunctious boys was proving difficult even for me.

I know what you're thinking! Why don't I just Think myself to my destination and save myself the trouble? Well, I'm glad to know that you're using those brains of yours, because that's a good question. See, Thinking has a logic to it. Which is why it's Thinking. One can't just poof themselves somewhere when they don't know the exact location. If you want to do that, it requires having already seen, in person, the place you want to go and/or the thing or person you want to find, along with a whole darn lot of talent.

You can't learn to be a Thinker. As they say, you either got it or you ain't.

I had almost reached the end of the path; the river Waloo was in sight, turquoise currents rippling and bubbling from the drizzle sloshing down on it. Breaking into an impatient run, I pranced lightly down the remainder of the path, twirled around a tree that marked the final bend, and . . .

. . . quickly grabbed onto a limb and skidded to a halt to avoid bowling the gaggle of people blocking the way.

Two wickedly grinning Wickershams, decked out in their trademark leather jackets with the W's emblazoned on the backs– rather tacky, by the way (Whaaaat? I can't have fashion sense?)– were leaning up against the trees flagging the end of the path. Their tails were outstretched, barring the space in between to prevent two people from entering and going back the opposite way I had come.

Those two people were bird girls. One of them was the exact bird girl stereotype: Brightly colored, tall, curvy, impressively feathered tail, the lithe body of a dancer. She wore the typical flashy dress and heels, and like myself held a large umbrella. Her feathers were electric blue.

The other girl was not so stereotypical. She was pixie-like in stature, and had little figure to speak of. The color of her feathers was also blue, but much less vibrant– more of a soft gray-blue. Though her tail was also fully feathered, it was not nearly so well-preened. In fact the girl had an overall ruffled appearance, and her outfit was an oversized, paint-splattered smock.

It just so happened that as I made my wonderfully dramatic entrance the pixie-bird was the only one who looked up. Eyes that had previously been glaring at the Wickersham brother who was currently speaking flew to me and seemed to pop open. Her mouth dropped open a bit, and her head twisted from side to side to take in the reactions of the other three, but there were no reactions to take in. Dawning on her that I was invisible to everyone else, Pixie continued to stare at me incredulously.

I grinned. Curious.

Of course my smile slipped a bit when I saw that her expression was also frightened. You know, like freaked out frightened. I don't like to scare people, I'm not like that . . . alright, you can stop looking at me like that! Fine, I have my moments, but it's all in good fun. But that's besides the point. What about me could possibly inspire fear? I'm not particularly intimidating or creepy looking. Am I? Hey, why are you laughing?! Hmm . . . maybe . . . An thought struck me.

I stepped closer, lowering my umbrella. I smiled crookedly. "Is it the hat?"

She jumped at the sound of my voice, and let out a surprised expletive. The monkeys and the other bird looked at her with "What the heck" expressions, and since I couldn't let such a great opportunity for creating mayhem pass me by, I decided to make my presence known to one and all.

"Excuse me If I'm being rude, but I think it's time for me to intrude." I poked the Wickershams with my umbrella to get their attention, snickering slightly when I heard the other bird's shriek of shock and stuttering "W-Who are YOU?!!". The monkeys automatically snarled at me and advanced in what they obviously thought was a menacing manner, which only made me laugh. I shook the tree limb I was still holding on to, which was connected to a water-covered leafy branch directly over our heads, and drenched the monkeys and Bird Girl Stereotype in the freezing drops. Their expressions forced me into a peal of laughter. I noticed that Pixie looked rather amused as well.

"Ugh! First you stupid Wickershams, than this . . . cat! Well, we need to get home, and that, morons, is that!" Tall Bird Girl had finally lost it, I guess. "C'mon, sissy!" She gripped her sister (as she now seemed to be) by the shoulder and stormed up the path.

The monkey brothers glowered at me, but I raised my eyebrows and they seemed to notice the gap of about half a foot in our heights. Either that or I let off thatprovocation-will-bounce-right-offa-me-aura because they reluctantly lumbered away. Satisfied, I swiftly straightened myself out and turned on my heel to continue on my way.

"Hey, hold on a sec!" A breathless female voice, slightly distant, rose up over the incessant rain. I smirked. Had 'em running back to me, did I? I let her come right up to me before abruptly spinning around and facing the girl. She stumbled back a few feet, startled. I grabbed her hand and began to shake it profusely.

"No thanks necessary; as for the future, keep yourself wary– maybe next time take another route. And tell your sister from me that she needs to chill out." I let go of her hand, and bowed slightly. "Lovely meeting you, Miss . . .?"

Pixie Bird's countenance remained bemused for a moment before she realized I had asked a question. "It's Quinzy."And then, for some inexplicable reason, a small grin bloomed across her feathery face. And it was mischievous.

Now that paused me. That smile was something you would see on MY face. This could be interesting. "Actually, thanking you wasn't the only reason I came back."

Oh really? I cocked my head at her. "Oh really?"

"Nope." Quinzy walked toward me rolling her shoulders, stood on her tiptoes, face determined, started leaning in–

– and slapped me across the face.

"That's for having the NERVE to feel me up with your eyes, PERV!" Her voice was angry, but I caught the twinkle in her eyes before she strutted back up the path. I rubbed my cheek, grimacing. Talking about being stronger than you look.

Just about to leave my line of sight, Quincy stopped and called cheekily over her shoulder, "Love the Hat, by the way. And those Converse simply made my day!" With that, she disappeared around the corner.

Well.

For once in my life, I had nothing to say.

I definitely had a lot to think about, though. I had a hunch that this wouldn't be the last time I saw this girl. I was impressed– you had to appreciate that unpredictability.

My face arranged itself in a roguish grin (not without throbbing pain coming from my left cheekbone) as I was reminded of why I had received the blow. I must have been examining her features a bit more intently than I had realized at the time.

Heh. No time to think about that now. There were places to go, lives to complicate. And all that was going to start with a little speck of dust.

I briskly began walking again, leaped over the river Waloo and tossed the home of the Whos in the air. Suddenly the sky cleared and Jungle life came crashing about with a sudden brightness, as if time and space had been slowed to a crawl and suddenly bounced back to normal. A tiny, excited Who-boy appeared next to me, and a placid elephant wearing an Argyle sweater came out of the thicket of trees.

That's my cue!

"And our story begins with a very strange sound . . ."


Me: HUZZAH!! That was insanely fun to write. I hope you people saw the Dark Knight reference! I felt very clever making it . ..

Cat: OOOHH!!! I SAW IT I SAW IT I SAW IT!!!! IT WAS– OOMPH! *Softly Spoken Heart shoves a hand over his mouth*

Me: You be quiet! I thought you LIKED surprises?

Cat: *pouting* well, yeah, but . . .

Me: *sigh* *suddenly realizes something* WAIT A SECOND!!!!! WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING HERE!!!??? GET THE HELL BACK INSIDE MY HEAD!!

Cat: *smirks* Would you like me to get inside any other part of you?

Me: O_O *starts twitching violently*

Cat: GAHAHA!! Just kidding! *starts twirling in circles*

Me: *weak smile* Uh. . .right. *twitch* Just REVIEW peoples! OH AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!