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The Strange Tunnel

The pebble was large and rose-colored, and almost perfectly round. Andy kicked it along the sidewalk in front of him. Around the corner it went, to the end of the road, and into the woods. Andy ran after it. Then the pebble disappeared into the bushes.

Andy saw the opening to an old drainage pipe, half-buried in the ground. The pebble must have gone in there.

The opening was quite big, and Andy could just see a glimmer of light coming from the other end. He crawled inside, feeling for the pebble.

Suddenly there was a big rock in front of Andy. He crept around it. He still had not found the pebble when he reached the end of the tunnel.

Andy looked around. Things seemed different somehow. Strange smells were in the air. There were frightening sounds. And the grass -- it must be ten feet tall!

He twitched his whiskers and scratched behind his ear with his hind leg. He looked down at the ground under his paws...his PAWS? Andy had turned into a mouse!

Frightened, Andy ran for home. It seemed like such a long way. A huge monster roaring along the road terrified him until he realized that it must be a car.

At last he made it. But the steps on his front porch seemed like mountains. And when he got to the door, he couldn't open it. Finally he found a crack and slipped in.

"Mother!" he tried to call. But he only squeaked. His mother screamed. Then Melissa, the cat, noticed him. Andy streaked toward the kitchen door, with Melissa bounding after him. His mother opened the door, and the cat and mouse ran outside.

On Andy ran, with Melissa right behind him. He popped into the tunnel, and Melissa followed. At the other end, Andy wagged his tail and barked eagerly, waiting for the cat. But when Melissa came out, she had turned into a squirrel. She scampered up a tree, chattering at him.

Andy bounded home. On the way he picked up a nice-looking bone from a garbage can. He decided to bury it.

Andy's mother looked out the window and saw a strange dog digging a hole in her lawn. She called the Dogcatcher. When he came, Andy tried to jump up and lick his o0ther's face. But she still did not know him, and she let the Dogcatcher take him away.

At the end of the block, Andy managed to jump out of the truck. Off he ran, with the Dogcatcher after him. He popped into the tunnel again, with the Dogcatcher right behind. This time, Andy came out a monkey, and the Dogcatcher was a bright orange and green parrot. It flew up into a tree and scolded him.

"What will happen if I go through again?" thought Andy. So he did, and this time he turned into a chicken. Near the end of the tunnel he found a pebble. He picked it up and swallowed it. Then he went through again and turned into a big black bear. He felt the pebble sticking in his throat and coughed it out. Then he went through the tunnel again.

Andy was still a bear. He tried again and again, but he was still a bear. The tunnel did not work anymore.

Was Andy going to have to stay a bear for the rest of his life? He was frightened now, and he headed for home.

Andy's mother was even more frightened when she saw a big black bear heading up the walk. And when Andy tried to give his father a bear hug, Andy's father dashed inside to call the police.

Soon sirens were screaming, and Andy headed for the woods again. He hid behind the end of the strange tunnel. His left foot was hurting. There was something stuck in it. He tried to pull it out with his teeth. But then the policemen were getting closer. He could see their searchlights. He popped into the tunnel again.

The tunnel seemed to be getting larger -- or was Andy getting smaller? He went to the other end. Andy was now a chicken. He looked down. There was a pebble stuck between his toes. He plucked it out with his beak and swallowed it. Then he ran around and went through the tunnel again.

Now Andy was a monkey. He coughed out the pebble stuck in his throat and picked it up in his hand. Then he ran around and went through the tunnel again.

As Andy changed from a monkey into a dog, he dropped the pebble inside the tunnel. The next time he ran through, he turned into a mouse, and he was too small to pick the pebble up.

Just one more time, and he would be a boy again. Andy -- the real Andy -- was just coming out of the tunnel when the policemen found him. "Better watch out," they warned. "There's a dangerous bear loose."

Andy tried to explain that he was the bear, but they just laughed. He reached into the tunnel and picked up the pebble to show them. But just then an orange and green parrot swooped down and snatched it out of his hand.

The bear was never found, but no one believed Andy's story -- not even his parents. Andy often wondered whether the Dogcatcher would ever figure out the secret of the tunnel and return to his human form again. And every day he put out a saucer of milk and a bowl of nuts for his squirrel, Melissa.








©1972, 2013 The Silversteins