A TaleSpin story conceived by John Pesterfield.
Written by John Pesterfield and Bearcat. Additional story suggestions by Gidget.
TaleSpin is a registered trademark of The Walt Disney Company.
All characters used in this story are from Disney’s Tale Spin and are used without permission, with extreme respect and for totally NON-PROFIT USE. This is also the first story by these authors and is purely an educational exercise in creative writing.
The following characters in this story are part of Disney’s TaleSpin series: Baloo the Bear; Rebecca Cunningham; Molly E. Cunningham; Kit Cloudkicker; Wildcat; Dr. Bovon; Professor O’Bowens. Any other incidental characters are the creation(s) of the authors.
We thank the creative Disney talent behind TaleSpin for the creation of memorable characters and a series that has a loyal following to this day. We also thank Gidget for her reviews of the story and all her additional suggestions and input. It has been invaluable. J
Rebecca had returned to the cargo area of the Sea Duck with Altaira. Her next test was to take a companion --- someone she trusted with her life.
“Okay, I’ve decided," she said. "I choose… Baloo."
Baloo yanked his hat off and began to grind it up in his paws. "Becky! What are you doin’?"
"Trying to save my bacon, Baloo. Or would you prefer that Kit help me out?"
"Well, it's just… well, not that I mind puttin’ my life on the line for ya, Becky, but I would like to know I'll be comin’ back in one piece!"
“No guarantees, fatso.”
"Hey, lady, I think I've had about enough of you. Ya sent Becky away inta lala land twice. Now ya want me to…"
“ She’s the one who chose you, not me. Besides, the two of you deserve each other.” Altaira smiled without humor. “Isn't that right, Rebecca?”
Rebecca blushed. What kind of comment is that? I don't need her giving him ideas!
Suddenly she heard Altaira’s voice in her head: Who says I'm giving him ideas?
I’m not the one ---!
Well, it’s up to you to tell him, not me.
Rebecca snapped her head toward Altaira, her eyes wide. The goddess smiled patronizingly. "I can read minds, remember?”
"Knock it off, Baloo! Okay, Miss High-and- Mighty! Just what---!” She paled as the goddess gave her a warning look. “Um, what am I, er… we supposed to do for the last test?"
“This jungle has many dangers within. It's up to the two of you to get from here to the other side of the island to a small cave. Only when you get to the cave will I reveal the riddle. In the meantime, you will have to work together to stay alive.”
Baloo's jaw dropped. "What!"
From her bodice, Altaira removed a gold file and began to work on her claws. “As I said, you two will have to work together to stay alive. If one dies, so does the other.”
There was the thump of a ball on the deck of the Sea Duck as Kit trotted in, with Molly a few steps behind.
Kit looked at each of them in confusion. “Um, what’s going on?”
“Oh please,” Altaira said, cutting him off. “Didn’t that orphanage teach you any manners? You should know better than to barge in unannounced. Why don’t you kids just go play?” She clapped her hands and a glowing red ball materialized, then she carelessly tossed it out the door. “Fetch!”
Molly looked at her mother --- who she barely recognized anymore --- then Altaira, before turning to the boy. "Is she going to do something else to Mommy?"
Kit tried to push the little girl behind him. "Stay out of this, Molly."
Molly worked her way to the other side of Kit and went into her Danger Woman persona, folding her arms obstinately. “Don’t you dare hurt my mommy!”
Altaira pretended to cower in fear. “Oooh…I’m so scared!”
“No one’s getting hurt, Molly. Now go sit down,” Kit said as he motioned toward one of the bunks.
“Bossy, isn’t he?” Altaira remarked, as though Kit wasn’t in the room. “However, you really should learn to mind your own business.”
“Oh yeah? Well, I’m making it my business.”
“Kit, you really don’t want to…” Rebecca said warningly.
“Besides, if they fail, little man, you’ll have your paws full.”
Altaira looked over toward Molly, who was now seated on the lower bunk, transfixed by the argument.
“What do you mean?”
Rebecca drew near Kit. “She means that if anything happens to me or Baloo I want you to take care of Molly,” she said in a whisper, low enough for her daughter not to hear.
Kit looked at Baloo and Rebecca, before shooting a glare at Altaira. “You mean they… They might? No!”
“You mortals are trying my patience.”
Baloo glanced at Kit nervously. Uh-oh. The kid’s spoilin’ for a fight. He’d seen it before.
He tried to placate him. “Now Kit, take it easy, before ya make things worse.”
Kit yelled, “They can’t GET any worse, Baloo! You’ve seen what she’s done to Miz Cunningham.” He pulled away. “Listen, you can’t ---!”
“Stay out of this, brat!”
“Or what?” Kit demanded. It was the wrong thing to say.
Altaira sighed. “Or… this!”
Kit wasn't able to finish his sentence. With a wave of her hand, the boy’s snout was snapped closed. A piece of flesh rapidly ran the length of his mouth, sealing it shut.
Baloo and Rebecca were horrified. "KIT!"
Kit began running his paws over his mouth, frantically searching for an opening. Any opening.
“There! Ahhh. The sound of silence.” Altaira pinched his cheek like a doting aunt. “Why must they always learn the hard way? Now, where was I?”
Baloo began to splutter. “Why, you---! How dare you do that to a kid! He didn't do nothin’ to you!"
“Children should be seen and not heard.” The words were light and mocking, but the mischievous quality was gone. The amber eyes were as cold as well…amber.
Rebecca’s heart sank. She’s serious. She’s not playing with us anymore.
“Ya can’t just---!”
“Oh please. Spare me. We don’t have time for this. Well, actually I do. A goddess has all the time in the universe,” She grinned. “But you don’t.”
Baloo fell silent.
She patted him on the head. “That’s better, fatso. Keep your mouth shut and maybe you’ll lose some of those extra pounds.” She cleared her throat. “Now as I was saying, make it to the cave and I’ll give you the riddle. Solve the next riddle and make it back alive and I’ll return you all to normal.”
Altaira motioned toward the open hatch of the Sea Duck. "Your test will begin here."
A ghostly image of the jungle began forming in the open hatchway. What appeared to be a faint dirt road was in the foreground.
"This last test begins at the mouth of this path. Chose your steps and your paths wisely.
The white glow, which Rebecca had since become accustomed to, surrounded her and Baloo. Within seconds the Molly and Kit were left behind. The scar remained on his mouth. It would left to Molly to explain what happened, when the professor returned. Altaira’s voice echoed over their heads.
“Your punishment will remain, little man. But don’t worry. You’ll be put right by the end of the test... if they survive.”
When the light faded Rebecca and Baloo suddenly found themselves at the mouth of the path, which moments ago had been only a specter.
Baloo turned around to survey their new surroundings. "How do these full-figured gals always get me inta trouble?"
“What do you mean, full-figured!"
"Well, she is." Baloo twisted his cap. "Uh, we should just get on with this. The sooner we start the sooner it's over."
“Fine!” Then she sobered. “Oh, Baloo, what are we going to do?”
“It’s August, you idiot!” She began to lose her temper. "Baloo, she's nearly gotten me killed --- twice! --- and she just sealed Kit's snout shut! What do you think?!"
Baloo gulped. "I think we're in big trouble."
"And it could be anywhere along this path.” In her agitation she began to walk faster. “Anywhere she sends us. Anywherrrraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"
Baloo looked around for Rebecca, but couldn't see her. All he could hear was a faint, "Help!"
"Becky! Becky, where are ya?"
Baloo started to double back on the path, frantically looking for her. He took a left at a palm tree they had just passed when his foot sank into the soil.
"Augh! What the--!"
He managed to remove his foot from the ooze when he saw Rebecca. She was ankle deep in quicksand.
"Yes," she sputtered. "Get me out of here!"
"Hang on, Beckers! Ol’ Baloo's comin’!"
Baloo began searching the underbrush for anything to pull Rebecca from the quicksand. "Maybe this branch?” It snapped in two. “Naw, too brittle. Maybe...no, not that. That log might not float. Maybe..."
Rebecca began to inch deeper into the watery grave. It was now up to her waist.
"What in the world?" She saw something move. "Baloo… hurry."
"I'm tryin’ to find a vine or somethin’ ta haul you out. Whatever ya do, sit tight and don't panic. Movin’ will just make you sink faster."
"No! Baloo, you don't understand. It's the sand. It...it moved."
"’Course it moved. That's why they call it quicksand."
"No, YOU don't understand. I...I think this stuff is alive!"
"What?" Baloo was not really listening and was too busy to look in her direction. “Hey, look --- I found a vine!”
Then Rebecca screamed his name.
"Becky?" He turned to back, vine in hand. “Oh man…!”
With deliberate slowness, the sand, heavy as wet cement, seemed to rear up like a monster tide.
To his horror, Baloo watch the growing wave rise, reaching for her head. realized what would happen. Instead of holding her as she sank slowly, it would completely cover, then swallow her.
"Becky! Hang on, boss lady! I'm a comin’!" Baloo didn't waste any time. He took the vine and tied a knot into one end and tossed it in Rebecca's direction. No sooner had the improvised rope reached her that the sand changed shape and roughly swatted it away.
"Hey! Leave her alone you...whatever ya are!"
"Bfloofff." Rebecca gasped for air. "Baloo --- hurry!”
It was now up to her chest.
Baloo recoiled the vine and tried again. The sand again raised up to swat the vine, but it missed. The vine found its target and Rebecca quickly grabbed it with both hands.
Baloo began to pull. Suddenly he felt a strong pull on the line. Rebecca's forward movement through the quicksand was suddenly halted.
"It's pulling my legs!"
"Don't worry Becky. I got ya."
“No, it’s got me!”
"What I need is more leverage." Baloo looked for something to increase the pull on Rebecca. He didn't have the luxury of a pulley or a wench. Then he saw the palm tree. "That's it!"
Rebecca was being dragged deeper under more and more by the ooze when she saw Baloo race for a tree.
She sputtered, "Why couldn't you take care of that earlier?"
"When I say 'Go' you start kicking your feet as fast as you can. Got it?"
"Yes," she gasped, spitting out sand in the process. "Except for one little problem."
"What?" he asked as he set his weight against the vine.
"I can't swim!"
"Now she tells me. Look, I’m not asking you to bear paddle, just kick your feet. You can do that, can't ya?"
"That's about all I have been doing." There was a long pause of silence. "Baloo?"
Baloo leaned into the vine that he had stretched round the trunk of the palm. Rebecca tried to swim, frantically kicking her way through the muck. At first there was no improvement, then slowly she began moving toward shore.
"Baloo, it's working! It's working!"
Baloo couldn't answer her. He was putting his full weight into the vine and it was beginning to show the strain. Small strands of it were snapping with each pull he gave. The pull of the quicksand creature and his immense bulk were nearly too much for the vine.
"Becky, I don't know how much longer this vine's gonna hold. How ya doing?"
"Another...another four feet. I'm almost there Baloo. Keep pulling!"
“I'm tryin’. I'm tryin’. I'm..." Suddenly the vine snapped like a rubber band, sending him flying right into the quicksand.
He thrashed around, struggling to turn over. He looked like a turtle turned on its back.
"Baloo --- can you grab my hand?"
“Would if I could, lady!”
“I’ve got an idea! Hold on.”
He was just barely able to see Rebecca struggling through the live sand. It still had a grip on her and was slowly pulling her back --- one foot for every two feet she moved.
“Becky. Forget it. We’re goners! Solid goners. There’s no way I can…Heeeeeyy! Ouch! What in blazes are ya doin’?”
“Using you to pull myself out, that’s what!”
“Fine, ya don’t hafta pull half my fur out! Ahhh! Jeez, that smarts!”
“Sorry, but your coat is the only thing I can get my hands on. Besides, your shirt is just out of my reach. If I can get onto your stomach, I can get to the shoreline.”
“Then I’ll pull you out, Baloo, so just hold still.”
“You pull me out? In QUICKSAND? I’m beginning to think you’re…hey!”
“What…nnunngggggh…now?” Rebecca added as she pulled herself further up out of the sand.
“Watch the hands, lady!”
Rebecca stopped and just stared at him. “Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me.”
She reached up and tried reaching for the bottom of Baloo’s flight shirt. He tried to help by grabbing his shirt and pulling down on the collar. “Try again, Becky!”
She swung her left arm forward. She missed the end of his shirt by inches, her hand landing hard, just below his ribcage.
“I said, try again, don’t knock the wind outta me,” he wheezed.
It took another two swings of her left arm, before Rebecca could get a hold on the material. “I…I made it!”
"Great. Now climb over me, Becky --- it might be your only chance."
“You mean our only chance.”
Rebecca started pulling herself over the bear, one hand at a time. Tears began flowing from her eyes as each reach she made was countered by a stronger pull on her legs. At one point it felt as if they might be pulled from their sockets.
Finally Rebecca felt the quicksand releasing its grip. It was now becoming easier for her to pull free. Finally, she hauled herself up on top of Baloo's belly. She got to shore first, crawling over him onto solid ground. Coughing, she tried to speak. "I...you...that was close!" Then she noticed with alarm that his face was turning bright red --- almost purple.
“Baloo! What’s wrong?”
He motioned down. Poor Rebecca didn’t know her own strength. In pulling herself from the sand, using Baloo’s shirt, she had to wad the material up in her hands. What little free shirt material was left was now pulled taut about his neck. Rebecca loosened her grip.
“Oh dear. How’s that?”
He inhaled fresh air gratefully. “Ack…better. You always told me you’d wring my neck, but jeez! Now gimmee the rest of the vine!”
She got to shore first, crawling over Baloo onto solid ground.
“Oh! Sorry.” Clumsily, she obeyed.
“Help me tuck it under my arms, then tie the other end off round that palm tree. I’ll pull myself out.”
It was another agonizing five minutes before Baloo was finally free of the slimy, gritty goop. Both of them were out of breath. Rebecca could barely get any words out.
"I...You... oh! What was that thing?"
Rebecca was soaked from head to toe in wet sand. He sat down next to her. "Easy, Becky honey. You're safe, now. It'll be okay."
She sniffed back a few tears. "No. It won’t be okay. Not this. Baloo, she's going to kill us."
Baloo glanced at his boss, then scanned the dense jungle.
Not if I can help it, he thought.
“Oh, Baloo!” She began to cry. “It’s hopeless.”
"Ya can’t give up. There gotta be a way. Why else would she do all this?"
"It's nothing to her, Baloo.” Rebecca wiped her eyes. “This is her idea of fun.”
Their hearts leapt as someone behind them spoke. “Wrong.”
Reluctantly, they turned around.
“Aw, man…can’t that gal wear a bell around her neck or somethin’?”
Rebecca shushed him, nudging him in the ribs. “Don’t make her mad!”
“Well… have you learned anything yet?”
Rebecca just stared at her tormentor.
Altaira waited impatiently. After a moment, she scowled. “You know, watching you think really bores me.”
Brushing off the drying sand, Rebecca stuck out her tongue at her. “Sorry to spoil your fun.”
Rebecca found herself looking up at Baloo, and Altaira --- nothing new since she was shorter than both of them. Way shorter.
“Now, now. Don’t be a such a child.” Altaira held up a mirror in front of Rebecca.
Rebecca grabbed the mirror and regarded her reflection with horror. "What have you done to me!” To her shock, her voice came out as a lisp, like a little girl. “I’m a thirty… I mean, I’m a growed-up!”
"Your body is now the same age and size as your daughter. She’s quite adept at getting around.”
“Hey, how come she’s talkin’ funny?”
“Look whoth talkin’, Mither Smarthy Panth!” Rebecca stamped her foot in protest. “I can't do your thupid teth! Put me back this insthant!”
“Oh, don’t be such a quitter,” the goddess scolded. “Now stop complaining and cooperate with Fatso here. It’s his turn to carry the ball, so to speak.”
“Hey, who ya callin’ fat?” Baloo said indignantly.
“You big meany! You sthleazy huthy!”
“Sleazy?” The sound of her voice roared through the jungle growth. Its volume made every leaf and palm tree shake. Altaira then cleared her throat. “Hey, I’m not the one who danced in her underwear on the Spruce Moose. And here I thought you were more hung up on appearances.”
Rebecca just gaped at her. “Appearanceth?” She stamped her foot again. "At leath I don't go around half nakee in a thkimpy dreth!"
“Oh, this is so annoying. I can’t stand your stupid baby talk.” She waved a paw at her. “There.”
Rebecca began to jump up and down in frustration. “Okay! I was wrong!”
“Yes. I know.”
“You’re not sleazy --- you’re conceited. You’re
so wrapped up in yourself you don’t care whose life you cripple.”
“Cripple? What a marvelous idea.”
Altaira placed her paws together, almost as though she was praying. Suddenly a crimson glow began forming between the paws of the tigress. When the sphere that formed was the size of Altaira's head she pushed the glowing orb toward Rebecca. Baloo watched helplessly as it surrounded her like a cancerous aura. Suddenly he saw his boss crumple to the ground. She made no sound, but her mouth was now open, apparently screaming in pain.
"Hey, stop! What're ya doing to her?"
All Baloo got was a fierce glare. He wisely kept his mouth shut.
As the glow began to dissipate Rebecca, who had only been forced only to her knees had completely collapsed.
If being as small as your daughter wasn't a hindrance, then being crippled will
be. Thus you will remain until the test is successfully completed, with the
necessary insight I require.”
Baloo rushed over to the little girl, who several minutes earlier had been a full-grown woman.
"Come on, honey. Let's get ya up. Whatever she's done to ya, it's over now."
Baloo tried to help Rebecca up, but she was nothing but dead weight. He got down onto his own knees to gain a bit more leverage. As he began lifting he noticed that her legs appeared to be flopping around like a rag doll. When Baloo got Rebecca high enough that she dangled above the ground he put her onto her feet. She collapsed again into a heap. He began to panic.
"Becky, stand up will ya?"
A whimper followed by tears came from her. "I can't. Baloo, I can't move my legs."
"What?" He picked her up again and cradled her in his arms. With her slung in his left arm, he put his paw on top of both feet. "Becky, try pushin’ up on my hand. Push as hard as you can."
Rebecca's legs remained as they were, slumped at the knees.
“Come on, Becky. Can you lift any part of your legs?"
She strained, trying to command her legs to move but they remained motionless. "I can't. I can't move them." She craned her neck to give the tigress a pleading look.
"What have you done?"
"Made you an invalid. Because that’s that you are. In-va-lid.”
Baloo now tried to help Rebecca sit up. Her weight, as she sagged against him, was astonishing. Holding her for such a long period of time was like holding a wet eighty-pound sack of cargo.
"Hey! How am I supposed to help pass this test with my boss like this?"
"You seem to be good with children. I've seen how you deal with Molly and Kit. It should be easy. Now, I suggest you get going. Her time and yours is running out.” With a harsh laugh, she waved to Rebecca; as she disappeared, her whisper lingered like exotic perfume, “And let’s see your boyfriend help you now.”