Tarquin stared out of his open window, apparently lost in thought. The stars glimmered in the dark sky as a piglet flew past them with a bemused sort of grin on its face. The movement outside seemed to awaken Tarquin, who glanced at the Clock, of which the shortest hand was now indicating a small picture of a Rabbit. 

Already?, thought Tarquin, who had not been keeping track of the Time. It had seemed like only a minute ago when he had arrived home at half past Duck. Time sure did go quickly.

Time, watching from afar, chuckled to himself. Time was indeed in a hurry – he could hardly wait to see the ending. Unfortunately, though, Time did not have legs, and was therefore reduced to a high-speed slither, which was not quite as fast as he would have liked. Nevertheless, he was certainly going a good deal faster than Tarquin was used to. Being a retired evil-doer, Tarquin was quite used to doing things in his own time. Now, though, it seemed that his own time was no longer his own, and it celebrated its freedom with a wave, sticking its tongue out on the way past.

Tarquin sighed, and shook his long, greying hair out of sparkling blue eyes. At that precise moment in Time, he heard a loud snigger. He turned to find, unsurprisingly, no-one there. Perhaps he really was going mad at last. He headed for the bathroom, thinking vaguely of dunking his head in icy cold water. Looking up to find himself already at the bathroom door, he pushed it open and made straight for the sink. He twisted the tap, and cold water came gushing out, which Tarquin splashed over his face. There was a cough. Tarquin straightened up so fast his bones clicked, and he span around to find a deserted room. Totally deserted. Except... A small rubber duck sat on the side of the bath. Tarquin stared at the duck, which, somehow, stared back. The look in the duck’s eyes was far too knowing.

Hello, Tarquin.

Tarquin jumped. Not only had a rubber duck just spoken to him, but he had not heard the duck in the usual way. The voice was, sort of, inside his head. What was he saying – the duck’s voice? Ducks didn’t have voices, especially rubber ones.

Oh, but we do, Tarquin. At least, this one does.

There it was again. Answering his thoughts, too. This was it. He had finally got absolutely and utterly bananas.

Tarquin, I am not your imagination. I need you to listen to me.

Do I have a choice?, thought Tarquin, his voice(1) filled with desperation.

Not really, no. Sorry.

Oh. Right. Well then, not to be rude, Mr...?

Um. I’m not sure. I haven’t been named yet. Well. Call me Gerald for now, if you like, I’ve always liked that name.

Gerald. Right. Well, Gerald, the thing is, you’re a rubber duck. You don’t even have a voice box, and yet you expect me to listen to you talking to me inside my own head?


(1) His voice, of course, was not really filled with desperation. He had not used his voice at all, for one does not generally use their voice box for thought. For the purposes of the story however, his ‘thought voice’ was full to the brim of desperation.



Yes. Yes, I do, because you’ll die if you don’t. You see, in about 2 minutes’ time your house is going to be raided by an organisation called ‘Aeternus’, who are currently planning to steal an object of unimaginable magical power from the depths of your mind.


Unimaginable magical power, yes. In the depths of your mind. Now if I were you, I’d listen to Gerald’s instructions very carefully. You just need to press that magical switch there.

You mean the light switch?

Yes, that’s the one.

Tarquin sighed. He decided it was best to do what the duck said, just in case he wasn’t imagining it. He flicked the switch by the door, and the lights went out immediately. He was a bit disappointed – he had expected something dramatic. But then, as though the room was determined to prove him wrong, the dark bathroom dissolved to be replaced by another room, filled with a bright light. Before he had chance to investigate further, a loud crash sounded overhead, the sort of crash you’d hear if a house had just been raided.

See?, Said Gerald, with an infuriating smugness in his voice. He was now sitting on the floor by Tarquin’s feet.

Y-Yes, I think I do. So, um, what now?

I don’t know.

You don’t know?! You just made me leave my house to come to some strange underground room, and then you tell me you don’t know what next?

Precisely, yes, replied Gerald, who seemed thrilled that Tarquin had gathered this so quickly. Besides, you’re the one with the unimaginable magical power. I’m just a poor talking rubber duck.

Hmph. I suppose we’d better get out of here, then. Where is here, out of interest?

Tarquin looked around. The floor on which he was standing was pure white, shiny, unblemished. The walls were of a similar description. He supposed the ceiling was too, but he daren’t look up for fear of hurting his eyes with the brightness of the light. He guessed the source of light was a bulb of some sort. He hoped.

Oh, just a handy little safety spot. It’s been here for years you know. It was built for your safety, just in case.

In case of what?

Just in case.

Right. And how do we get out?

Through the door.

Oh yeah? Which door’s that, the one on that wall over there that’s totally non-existent?, Asked Tarquin, unable to keep the sarcasm out of his thoughts.

Actually, I think you’ll find it’s quite real.

Tarquin returned his eyes to the wall, and was astonished to see a door, quite solid, on the exact wall he had pointed to. He was certain1 it had not been there before.

What- but-

Just open the door.

Tarquin spared the duck a look of deepest contempt before pushing the door open. The door opened soundlessly, and Tarquin was amazed to find himself on ground level without having gone up any stairs that he could remember. He did not recognise the area, either. He thought it better not to ask Gerald – he wasn’t sure he wanted to hear the answer. He stood, therefore, blinking in the afternoon light, thinking. He had no idea where he ought to go, or what he was supposed to do with the allegedly magical thing in his head. So, he decided, he may as well go somewhere he wanted to go. He had always wanted to climb the mountains.

The End

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