Ray & Gen & The Box of Hope™
The Journey Begins
By Chris Gurnick
After a five-hour flight on the back of a small donkey the three passengers
were tired and thirsty. Chadwick slowly began his descent. As they glided
closer to the ground, Ray realized that the land looked very familiar; they were
landing near Ray and Gen’s cousins’ house in Tampa, Florida!
“Gen, do you know where we are?” Ray asked excitedly.
“It looks like Florida!” she answered.
“Fiona, are we in Florida?” Ray asked loudly.
She screamed, “Yes we are Ray!”
“What are we doing here?” he asked again screaming over the loud, rushing
air. They flew through many different swarms of bugs that hit them as they
“Someone should have provided us with glasses,” yelled Gen, barely able to
open her eyes, because of the giant bugs hitting her face.
“Fiona said loudly, “You should be used to bugs after spending six weeks in
the Canadian wilderness!”
Chadwick flew lazy serpentines to make the descent more comfortable and to
allow their inner ears time to adjust to the Florida air pressure. They drifted
invisibly toward the Tampa area. It looked like they were going to land right in
the middle of Gen and Ray’s aunt, uncle, and cousins’ housing development.
Gen exclaimed, “Look Ray, we’re at Aunt Sydney and Uncle Phil’s house!”
“I know,” replied Ray. “Wonder what they have to do with this whole thing?”
Chadwick landed very lightly, and they all breathed a sigh of exhaustion.
He chose a spot near a small lake, right in the backyard of their aunt and
uncles’ home. As they each took turns gingerly dismounting the donkey, it was
difficult to stand straight, but aching and moaning, Gen and Ray realized that
they were no longer invisible.
“Hey, I think people can see us now!” yelled Gen. No sooner had she made
her observation, when they all turned and saw Aunt Sydney and the three cousins
running toward them, hair flying in the breeze.
“You guys! You made it! I wish I could’ve seen you land; it would’ve been
really neat!” said Sydney, hugging them each warmly in turn.
“Aunt Sydney, I am so happy to see you,” cried Gen. Ray stood awkwardly,
waiting to hug his aunt. Even though Ray and Gen no longer feared Fiona or
Chadwick, they allowed themselves to accept Sydney’s mothering. Seeing family-
familiar people was the next best thing to seeing their own parents! Sydney held
onto each of them for a few minutes. She then turned and stared at Fiona and
Chadwick with a look of shock and disbelief on her face. Ray and Gen pulled away
from their aunt and took turns hugging their three cousins-- Lexy, Tyler, and
Cam who looked a little shocked to see Fiona and a donkey in their back yard.
Sydney stood awkwardly, then mustered up some courage and extended her hand
toward Fiona, having been told by Chris that the creature could speak. Before
Sydney’s mouth opened, Fiona turned away from her quickly and bent down towards
a large hole, near the lake. To all their amazement, Fiona began a strange
conversation with a large turtle that had poked its head out of the hole.
Fiona spoke English to the turtle, which answered her with small hisses
and clicks from its snapping jaws.
No one moved for a while; Chadwick scared them all when he said loudly, “We
should have already introduced ourselves properly. My name is Chadwick, this”
and he turned his head toward the bent Fiona, “is Fiona. As you can see, I am a
donkey. Fiona is a Sniggledorfer.”
“What’s a Sniggledorfer?” Lexy asked.
“Let me tell you all about her when we get into the house,” offered Gen.
Fiona stood and turned toward the three cousins who now hid behind their
mother when they saw the look on Fiona’s face. “The three of you and your
friends must leave this turtle and all other wild animals alone! You are not old
enough yet to understand the delicate balance of this ecosystem. Stan here
plays an integral part,” Fiona said.
“The turtle has a name?” Cam asked, interrupting Fiona’s tirade. Sydney
gave him a quick, yet subtle kick and said, “Sorry Fiona, please finish what you
Fiona continued, “He told me that you’ve been irritating and teasing him,
and he is about to bite the next one who comes near him if you don’t leave him
Fiona watched the looks of fear and guilt roll over each of the cousins’
faces and realized that she had just scared Sydney’s children to death.
“Sniggledorfers are able to speak with other animals in their native
language,” Fiona explained.
Chadwick spoke up, “Yes, it is the most important characteristic of the
Sniggledorfer. Their second most important skill, if you might call it that, is
the ability to offer any plant, fungus, insect and some small birds, a rest
haven on their very bodies. The healing energies and nutrients from the
Sniggledorfer’s body have magical, restorative properties.”
Fiona stood quietly beside him and watched the look on the human faces.
“Sydney, may we please go into your garage?” Fiona asked, “I don’t want to
attract too much attention from your neighbors.”
“Yes, please, you are all welcome here,” Sydney said. She motioned for
everyone to follow her and they all walked around the house towards the garage;
it would be cooler in there and no one would be able to see them.
Once inside the garage, Sydney turned and asked Chadwick, “May I bring you
some fresh cool water?”
“Yes please,” Chadwick replied, licking his lips. “If you have any fresh
fruit, we could all use a little snack too.”
Sydney closed the garage door and turned the light on for her visitors.
“I’ll be right back,” she said as she walked into the house.
Sydney returned with a bag of apples, a small vegetable tray, crackers, and
a pitcher of ice water. She found a clean bucket and filled it with water from
the garage washtub for Chadwick. After they all drank and ate a bit, Cam stood
up, and asked, “What are you guys doing here?”
Ray answered, “We’re supposed to be looking for something very important
Cam-- Gen and I are looking for the archives of The Box of Hope, but I don’t
understand how you all fit into the picture.”
“That, my dears is simple. Sydney, would you please tell Ray and Vieve what
you found in an old box in your garage when you moved a few years ago?” asked
Fiona, with an air of excitement in her voice. “Wait, Sydney, before we start on
that, I’d better ask you for a misting bottle. The ivy plant growing up my back
is also thirsty,” she said, while rearranging the trailing ivy now peeking out
from her armpit.
“Sure, sure, no problem,” Sydney said. Gathering and fetching food and
drinks gave her some time to think about what was going on. Even though Chris
called and told her the whole story and about how strange Ray and Gen’s guides
would look to her, it was all still very shocking. Sydney came out of the house
and back into the garage holding a spray bottle filled with cool water, “I took
it upon myself to add a little Phenona-Grow plant food to the water for you,”
she said hesitantly handing the bottle to Fiona.
“See, I’ve always been of the opinion that some humans are much more in
tune with nature than they let on,” chirped Fiona, obviously very happy with
Sydney’s extra effort.
Sydney sat down on an old piece of carpet and searched around the room. She
looked directly at her children and began, “The three of you, and Ray and Gen
are related to a very special family that lived in Egypt thousands of years ago.
We’re talking at least four-thousand years ago, and all of us-me, Aunt Chris,
and all of you are descendants of this ancient family. I don’t know where it
came from, or how it came to rest with our family, but we are the proud owners
of a box of really old, dusty, tattered history books. I think that I may have
taken them by accident from Grandma and Granddad Smith’s house. We had to live
with them for a little bit before our house was done here in Florida.” Sydney
stopped for a drink of her water, and looked to see that her children seemed
fine with everything she’d just told them.
“All that we are going to talk about now is strictly confidential,”
“Yes,” said Fiona with great concern, “children, please remember that
unless you want to put yourselves or your cousins in serious danger, you will
not mention any of what you are about to hear to anyone, NO ONE! As we speak,
there are dark forces working against us. Their desire is to undermine our
mission and find The Box of Hope before we do; they will stop at nothing to get
what they want.”