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Airmail Episode 2 China Shop Cover

China Shop

Solomon Hogg stood in the office of FlapOn™, the all-bird special-delivery service. Solly was the only delivery pig at FlapOn™. 

He loaded a box with Chinese lettering into his backpack . He couldn’t read the words to know who it was from. But he did know who it was addressed to: Barry Bull’s China Shop. 

Barry’s shop sold very delicate crystal, plates, vases and glassware. It was the kind of shop where you worry you might break a whole shelf of fragile glass rabbit figurines. 

The office was busy. Various FlapOn™ delivery birds were loading their bags. As Jenny Wren packed, she watched Solly cover his box in bright red stickers that said, “FRAGILE: DO NOT DROP” .

Airmail Episode 2 China Shop Image 1

“You’re the one handling the box, Solly. Why do you need all the extra stickers?” Jenny asked.

“It’s to remind myself to be extra careful, I suppose. It is a china shop. And you know, Barry Bull...he’s kinda huge and scary.” Jenny nodded in agreement as Solly continued, “Plus the roads on the way to Barry’s can be pretty bumpy.”

“Yeah. But maybe today’s the day your flapicycle will get you off the ground,” Jenny said as she snapped her bag closed. Solly smiled. “Thanks, Jenny. Yeah. Maybe it is.”

Solly built the one-wheeled flapicycle himself. It had a pair of little metal wings that seemed to float him a centimetre off the ground after he hit a bump. That's what he believed anyway.

“Let me know how that works out, Solly. I just hope whatever Barry Bull ordered gets there in one piece. Toodle-oo!” 

Solly watched Jenny Wren fly out the office window clutching her little bag in her dainty bird feet.

Airmail Episode 2 China Shop Image 2

Later, with his stickered package in his backpack, Solly pedalled away. While passing through a village, he noticed a mouse darting out in front of his flapicycle. *SQUEAK!* Solly swerved, just missing its tail. 

“Phew! They need some mouse crossing signs around here,” Solly said to himself as he balanced on his one-wheeled flapicycle. Then, many small mice suddenly ran about, criss-crossing the road. 

“Winkin’ walnuts!” Solly zig-zagged his flapicycle, dodging mouse after mouse. His backpack swung back and forth.

“Oh, my. There’s so much paw traffic around here!” Solly said, catching his breath. ”Phew!” 

Airmail Episode 2 China Shop Image 3

Finally clear of the many mice, he picked up speed. In the next village, Solly noticed two teenage donkeys kicking a football  across the road to each other. They smiled with big donkey teeth when they saw Solly approach.

“Hee-haw! Lookit this wheelie-pig comin’,” shouted one donkey. “He’s like a target in a carnival game!” 

“I bet I can knock ‘im off his bike on the first try!” the second donkey brayed. 

“Hee-haw! You ain’t that good a shot! I’ll take that bet!”

“Oh! Hey, fellas. Please don’t. I-I’m just passing through. I’ll be out of your way as soon as—”

Before Solly could finish his sentence, a donkey kicked a ball toward Solly at rocket speed. The ball just missed his head, but hit him right in the backpack!

Solly squealed and spun like an ice skater round and round on his one wheel. He struggled to balance, but Solly fell to the ground and landed on his side. *OOF!* 

Airmail Episode 2 China Shop Image 4

The naughty teen donkeys hee-hawed, showing their big teeth. Then they disappeared between some houses. Solly stood and brushed himself off. Then he remembered, with a gulp...“The package!” 

He shook the backpack, listening for broken pieces inside. Luckily nothing rattled.

“Phew! Next time, I’ll fly over this road. They’ll see! A couple small adjustments and these flapicycle wings will get me high off the ground.” Solly got back on his flapicycle and pedalled out of the village.

Within minutes, Solly was high atop a cliffside. The view over the next village was peaceful. But Solly’s stomach was full of butterflies. He thought this could be his chance to get his flapicycle to fly. This was a very steep cliff, perfect for getting enough speed to lift off into the air. 

“Maybe today is the day!” Solly gulped again and opened the flapicycle’s metal wings. *SQUEAK* He carefully put his hoof on the pedal. “Or maybe it’s completely silly to try this during my most difficult delivery: to a china shop owned by a huge, scary bull!”  

Airmail Episode 2 China Shop Image 5

Solly closed his eyes and remembered a rhyme his mum used to say to him as a piglet. It always helped when he was feeling worried or unsure.

“Peas, poppies, porridge, pears. Click your tongue, you won't be scared.” He clicked his tongue. *CLICK* 

Solly shot down the hill. His scarf fluttered wildly behind him. 

*WHOOOOOSH!*

The flapicycle’s metal wings flapped and squeaked. Solly was sure he was just about to lift off the ground. But suddenly, his wheel hit a stone and he was thrown off his flapicycle. 

Airmail Episode 2 China Shop Image 6

He felt himself moving in slow motion. For one instant while in midair, Solly imagined his outstretched arms as beautiful, feathered wings. The cool wind whistled in his pink nostrils until, *WHUMP!* Solly hit the ground and skidded on his tummy until he stopped under a hedge at the bottom of the hill. 

Solly opened his eyes. He wiggled his hooves. Nothing felt broken. Broken. *GASP!* Barry Bull’s package was probably broken!

“Holy hazelnuts! Please, no!” Solly shook his backpack next to his ear. 

Airmail Episode 2 China Shop Image 6.1

“I don’t think I hear anything broken in there. Though I can’t be sure. Oh, why didn’t I obey my own FRAGILE stickers!?”

Solly brushed the dirt off his front. As he looked up, he let out a big sigh. Barry Bull’s China Shop was just ahead of him.

Moments later, he cautiously stood in Barry Bull’s small china shop. Its walls were lined with shelves of delicate glassware. Solly’s snout twitched as he handed over the box to Barry.

Airmail Episode 2 China Shop Image 7

The giant bull pulled the tape off and opened the cardboard box  and stared inside it for a moment. Then he gave it a big long sniff.*SNIIIIFFF*

“Ahhh!” Barry Bull grinned and pulled out an even smaller box from inside. He held it up.

“My favourite Chinese noodles from Charlie Chow’s Restaurant. And they’re still warm! Good job, my friend.” The bull tossed Solly a fortune cookie as his tip.

Airmail Episode 2 China Shop Image 8

“Oh, and watch yourself on your way out. The stuff in this shop is fragile, ya know!”

Outside, Solly munched the cookie and read his fortune out loud: 

“Today, throw caution to the wind!” 

The End

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