unny woke up and stuck his ears out from under the warm covers of the big, soft bed. The people were downstairs eating breakfast. He could hear them banging dishes and talking. Bunny didn't worry about missing breakfast. That was the best thing about being a stuffed animal. You could sleep as late as you wanted and since you didn't eat real food you wouldn't be hungry.
Bunny walked to the window in time to see the Mommy putting the two little boys into the car. They were going to school. The house would be quiet for the whole morning, only the stuffed animals, puppets and toys were at home.
Bunny looked for his old friend, Blue Penguin. Blue Penguin was made of terry-cloth. Though he had a yellow beak and feet, he was mostly sky blue. Bunny had always thought this was a funny color for a Penguin, but he'd never said anything about it. He didn't want to embarrass his friend.
"Blue, all the people are gone. How about we go exploring?"
Blue Penguin was ready for an adventure. "Where do you want to go?"
"How about the back of the closet, behind those suitcases," said the little rabbit. "I've never been there before."
"Do you think it would be dangerous? Are there monsters back there?"
Bunny replied, "There are no such things as monsters! Don't be silly!"
They started to walk to the closet and Bunny said, "We'll only be at the back of the closet. If something goes wrong we can always call Mugsy for help. He's sleeping up on the bed."
Mugsy was a brown dog. He was the biggest and one of the oldest stuffed animals in the house. The others all listened to Mugsy. If they got into trouble it was Mugsy who got them out. Like the time Floppy fell into the heating vent. It was Mugsy who lowered his long tail down the vent so that the little rabbit could climb up.
Bunny and Blue walked across the floor and squeezed through the nearly closed closet doors. Above their heads was the first shelf. That was where the toys that were not being played with were stored. All the toys except the stuffed animals and puppets, of course, who got to live on the bed. Blue stared up uneasily at the shelf. It would not have been the first time a plastic hammer or toy car had come tumbling down on his head.
Bunny peered under the shelf at the row of suitcases piled there. The area was almost full, except for narrow places between the bags just big enough for a rabbit or penguin to slip through. It was very dark back there, like a cave, and Bunny wondered if he should have brought the flashlight. The flashlight was twice his size, though, and would never fit between the bags.
"Come, on. Let's go," said Bunny.
Blue looked at the narrow passage. "I don't know. It's awfully dark back there." His voice trembled.
"Don't worry. If anything happens Mugsy will get us out. I'll go first," said Bunny. They squeezed between a garment bag and a valise and were soon at the back of the closet. It was so dark Bunny could hardly see his paw in front of his eyes.
"You go that way, I'll go this way," Bunny told the penguin.
"You mean split up?" asked Blue.
"We can see more that way," replied Bunny. "Yell if you see anything interesting."
"It is so dark I can hardly see anything at all!" replied the little penguin.
They had not gone more than a few inches when the penguin screamed. Bunny ran to his side.
"What's the matter?" Bunny asked. He was out of breath.
"I saw something," said Blue.
"What?" asked Bunny.
"A monster. It was round with a lot of hair. Over there."
Bunny peered into the darkness. He could see something. Was it a monster? A rabbit-eating monster? No, no it was...
"That's just a dust bunny!" He told the nervous penguin. "You know they don't clean back here too often."
Blue was relieved, but still wanted to leave. "Come on, Bunny. We've seen enough. Let's go back to the bed. It is too scary."
"I told you," insisted the little rabbit. "Mugsy will rescue us if we get into trouble."
"How is he going to get back here?," asked Blue. "He is too big to get by those bags. And they are too heavy for him to move. Only the Mommy or the Daddy would be able to do that. If we get stuck back here they might not find us for a long time. Maybe not forever!"
Bunny had not thought of that. "Okay. I guess we will go back."
As they crawled out from in between the bags Bunny saw something. In the pocket of the garment bag was a piece of paper. Not wanting to return to the bed without a token of the adventure he pulled the square of paper out of the pocket. Then he carried it into the bedroom. There he unfolded it and took a look.
"What is it?" asked Blue. The paper had strange markings on it. Bunny did not understand any of them. "I don't know," said Bunny. "Maybe we should ask Mugsy."
"He's asleep," said Blue. "How about asking the Parrot puppet? Maybe he would understand it."
They dragged the paper over to where the Parrot puppet was perched near the window. Bunny thought the Parrot was too much of a know-it-all.
"It's a map," the Parrot told them. "I've seen plenty of them when I lived with the Pirates. They would draw them to show where they buried their treasure."
"You mean this is a pirate map leading to a buried treasure?" asked Blue.
The Parrot took another look at the paper.
"Well, it does have an 'X' on it. Yes, I'd say this was a map drawn by pirates. The 'X' must be where they put the buried treasure."
Bunny scratched his head. He did not know if he really believed the Parrot had ever lived with real pirates. He liked the idea of a treasure hunt, though. "Well, how do we read the map?" Bunny asked.
"It's easy," replied Parrot. "Follow that trail of dots. See it starts in the bedroom here. Then they go down the hall to the stairs. Then on through the living room to the kitchen. Down the other stairs to the family room. Finally across the floor to the toy box. It looks to me the ocean shown on the map must be the floor of the family room. The toy box is the island. The treasure is buried in the bottom of the downstairs toy box."
Bunny nodded. He understood the map now.
"That's a long way to go," said Blue.
He was right. The stuffed animals in the bedroom might be carried all over the house by the children or the Mommy or the Daddy. On their own they rarely wandered out of the bedroom. Maybe they might go down the hall to visit the toys in the nursery, but never further alone. Still, the idea of a trip to find pirate treasure excited Bunny. He was determined to give it a try.
"How about going with us?" asked Bunny to the parrot. "You know so much about pirates."
"No thanks," the parrot replied. "I've been on enough treasure hunts in my day. If you want to learn more about pirates, though, I think there's a book on the desk shelf."
Bunny and the blue penguin found the book. Bunny couldn't read very well, but he did make out the words Treasure Island on the cover. The picture on the front showed a boy standing on an island. Behind the boy, floating in the water, was a pirate ship. They looked through the book at the rest of the pictures. They saw a man with an eye patch and a sword. From the mast of the ship fluttered a skull and crossbones flag.
"He must be a pirate," said Blue.
"I guess if we are going to look for pirate treasure," said Bunny, "we'll need to dress like pirates."
They found some plastic swords, just their size, that had been rescued by one of the boys from a sandwich buffet. With a bit of black paper Bunny made an eye patch for Blue and a pirate hat for himself. On the front of the hat he used a piece of chalk to draw a skull and crossbones.
"Now we are set," said Bunny. "Let's go."
"Wait," said Blue, "what about the shark?"
The shark was another puppet. He lived downstairs next to the toy box. He was a bit ill-tempered and gruff. He enjoyed chasing the other, smaller stuffed animals around threatening to eat them as if he were a real shark. This was impossible since his teeth were only made of cloth, but still nobody liked the idea of being gummed in his wide jaws.
"The family room floor is supposed to be an ocean. That makes sense because that's where the shark lives. To cross it and get to the toy box island we'll need a ship."
"A pirate ship!" exclaimed Blue. "But where do we get one? There are no pirate ship toys in the closet."
"Well," said Bunny, "we'll have to make one. Let's take another look at that book."
After looking at the book, Bunny and Blue began searching for stuff to build their ship. Bunny found an old shoe box while Blue dragged some unsharpened pencils out of a desk drawer. One pencil made a mast for the boat. By putting the other two pencils through the holes poked in the side of the box a pair of oars was made. With some black construction paper they added a flag. With some white paper they added a sail. The sail was just for looks, of course, since there was no wind inside the house. Finally, they stuck a red crayon on the bow to serve as the spar. Just below it they taped a small, rubber Teddy Bear finger puppet as a figure head.
Their pirate ship was complete. They began dragging it through the bedroom and down the hall. At the end of the hall they had a problem. Between the upstairs and the living room was a flight of nine steps. Blue went down one step. With Bunny holding the ship from above and Blue holding it at the bottom they managed, with great difficulty, to get the boat down the first step.
"If we have to carry this ship down the steps one at a time it will take forever!" exclaimed Blue. "We'll never get to the treasure."
"I have an idea," said Bunny. "Remember seeing the kids outside in the snow with sleds? I bet we could use the ship as a sled to go down the steps. We'll just climb in and use the oars to push ourselves over the edge. Then we can ride all the way to the bottom!"
"These steps are steep!", remarked Blue, looking over the edge. "Are you sure this will work?"
"Don't worry," said Bunny, confidently.
They climbed into the boat. With a push of the pencil oars, they tipped the ship over the edge. Bunny hadn't taken into consideration that the hills had been smooth and the steps would be bumpy. With each step the ship hit hard and bounced. Then it flew into the air, hit hard and bounced again.
"I think I'm getting seasick!" cried Blue, several steps into the ride.
"I don't think it's seasick," replied Bunny. "I think it would have to be called stepsick!"
With a final bounce the shoe box ship hit the living room floor. As it did it tipped over on its side sending the two stuffed animals rolling across the carpet.
"Next time I think I'll climb down by myself and let you ride," said Blue.
The ship had lost its oars and mast in the final crash. After taking a few minutes to repair their boat Bunny and Blue dragged it through the kitchen. They decided to carry it down the final three steps to the family room instead of risking another sled ride. At the bottom they put their boat into the blue 'sea' that was really the family room floor. On the other side of the room was the toy box 'island.'
"I don't see the shark anywhere," said Blue.
"Good. Let's get going," said Bunny. "I'll be the lookout, and you row."
"That's not fair!" said Blue.
"Okay, we'll reverse it," said Bunny. "You row and I'll be the lookout."
"That's better! I think..." replied Blue.
The little penguin started rowing. Bunny stood in the front of the ship giving him directions. They made it halfway across the sea. Then Bunny saw a gray shape slide around the edge of the island.
"Here comes the shark!" exclaimed Bunny.
The gray shape slid across the sea toward the boat. As it came closer they could see a fin sticking up into the air. Below the fin were little black eyes. Below those were a wide mouth filled with pointed triangular teeth.
"Lunch time!" yelled the shark.
The shark was twice as long as the boat and just as wide. He bumped the ship with his nose, spinning it around.
"I'm getting dizzy!" cried Blue.
The shark pushed the ship up knocking it on its side. This broke the pencil mast in two and sent Bunny and Blue tumbling out into the 'water.' The little penguin turned to see the large open jaws of the shark's mouth approaching him.
"Look out, Blue!" yelled Bunny.
The penguin tried to get away, but the shark came closer. Quickly Bunny picked up a piece of the broken mast. He shoved it into the shark's mouth propping it open.
"Aghhhhhh," said the shark. He tried to shake his head to get the wooden stick free, but it was stuck.
Bunny and Blue got back aboard ship. With the oars they got it upright again. Then they turned their attention to the shark.
"That wasn't very nice, shark," said Bunny, leaning over the rail to look at him. "You nearly wrecked our ship."
"Aghhhhhhh," said shark.
"What did he say?" asked Bunny.
"I think he wants you to remove the pencil," said Blue.
"Shark," said Bunny, "If I remove the pencil from your mouth do you promise to be nice?"
The shark nodded his head.
"And tow our ship to the island?" continued Bunny.
The shark nodded again.
Bunny grabbed the pencil and pulled it from the shark's mouth.
"Thanks," said the shark.
Blue found an old shoe lace in the bottom of the ship. Bunny tied it to the bow. The shark grabbed the other end in his mouth and began to pull. A minute later they were at the shore of the toy box island.
They climbed up the side of the box and took a rest on the rim. Down below them was a valley made up of a jumble of toys of every shape and size. Bunny took out the map and looked at it. "According to the map the pirate treasure should be buried at the bottom of the box in the back corner," Bunny said.
They carefully climbed down the steep slope of toys until they were at the very back of the toy box. In the left corner they found a mound of miniature cars and trucks.
"It must be under these," said Blue.
Slowly they began to dig through the pile of tiny cars. A shape began to appear. Under the mound was a box. Excitedly Bunny and Blue cleared off the top so they could open it.
"This is it!" exclaimed Bunny. "The pirate treasure! This chest must be filled with gold and diamonds!"
"And all kinds of shiny stuff!" added Blue.
"We'll be the richest stuffed animals in the world!" exclaimed Bunny.
They pried the lid open and stared into the box. Instead of gold or diamonds, the chest was filled with a large, plastic, toy bone.
"Oh, you found it!" exclaimed Mugsy, looking over the edge of the toy box at them. "I thought I'd lost it when I lost the map."
"This is your bone?" asked Bunny.
"Yes, I buried it and drew a map so I'd know where I'd put it. Then I lost the map."
"I guess it wasn't a pirate treasure map after all," said Bunny, sadly. "I guess we made this long trip for nothing."
"That's all right," Blue told him. "We had a great adventure. We also helped Mugsy find his lost bone!"
Bunny smiled. "You know-you are right! Even if we didn't find a real treasure we had a good time. We should ask Mugsy to hide his bone tomorrow so we can hunt for it again!"
And they did.
Copyright Lee Krystek 1997. All Rights Reserved.