Flying Squirrel Cape
“Wow! This was my favourite show when I was a piglet!” Solly Hogg said to his triplet sisters. They lay on their bellies in front of the telly.
“Chicky and Carbuncle!” Solly smiled. “I always wanted to be Chicky the flying squirrel. He was my hero!”
“And look,” said one of the sisters. “You fly like him now!”
“Well...I sure keep trying,” Solly blushed. “See you all later. Bye, Mum!”
Solly kissed his mum on the cheek and walked into the garage for his flapicycle. He looked at his shelves of extra bike parts: old flapicycle wings, bike chains, ropes, pulleys and jars of extra nuts and bolts. None of them ever made his flapicycle perfect enough to fly.
“Hey. Wait a minute,” he said, looking at a broken beach umbrella that stood rolled up in the corner. Solly thought of Chicky the flying squirrel and suddenly had an idea. He took apart the beach umbrella and cut its cloth with big scissors. Then he tied it to his arms and legs to form a cape with wings just like Chicky’s. Solly smiled at himself in the dusty garage mirror.
“Will this actually work, though?” Solly asked himself. “I’m a bit heavier than a squirrel.” Solly looked down at his plump little pig belly. “But these wings could be just the thing I need to actually fly. It seems kinda obvious when you think about it.”
And think about it, Solly did. He thought about it all the way to the office of FlapOn™, the all-bird delivery service he worked for.
Solly packed his backpack with that day’s deliveries. Right next to him, Jenny Wren packed her own small bag.
“Psst, Jenny. Look,” Solly pulled his wing-cape out of his bag and showed her.
“Wow! Solly, you made that? Sweeeet,” Jenny chirped.
“That’s like that old cartoon squirrel,” said Chip Falcon. “What’s his name? Cheeky?”
“Ha! That’s right. Chicky the flying squirrel,” said Solly. “ “I’m gonna try out my new wing-cape today. I think it might finally help me fly like you guys can. Well, almost.”
The birds smiled and nodded at Solly. All except for the blue starlings who huddled in the back by the birdseed table.
“Pfft,” one whispered to the other. “He jumps off something with that silly cape, he’s gonna fall like a rock.”
But some of Solly’s friends worried about his safety with the new wing-cape. Branston Crowe said, “If you do try flying, promise us you’ll wait ‘til we're all there, just in case...you need our help.”
“Oh,” said Solly. “Thanks, Branston. That’s nice, but I experiment by myself with different flapicycles all the time. I’ll be fine.”
“Solly,” said Jenny Wren, “let us help you.”
“JUST in case,” added Chip Falcon.
“Golly! Okay, okay,” said Solly. He was happy to have kind friends who cared about him like that.
Solly made his way through his deliveries that morning and afternoon. After delivering a box of shoe-spray to Willard Poodle’s bowling alley, Solly paused at the top of a big hill.
“This is it,” he said to himself. “The perfect-sized hill to try my new wing-cape!” Solly licked his hoof and held it up to test the wind. “Perfect breeze. I should call the birds to tell them I’m gonna test the wing-cape now.”
The sky began to get a little cloudier.
“Oh, dear. But I might miss my chance if I wait for them. The breeze won’t stay perfect for long.”
Solly sat on his one-wheeled flapicycle at the top of the hill. He sighed.
“I’m sure I’ll be fine. My friends just worry too much.”
He tied on his new wing-cape, now ready to release at the right time.
Solly recalled Chicky Squirrel’s old catchphrase, “Chick-chick, cha-BOOM!” He cleared his throat and called it out loud. Then he pedalled down the steep hill. The wind whistled through the cape.
Solly zoomed downward. A big gust of wind came rolling up the hill. Solly felt the push of the wind and...he released the wing-cape!
It puffed up and billowed open.
Then it happened: Solly began to lift off the ground! His flapicycle rolled down the hill without him. Solly was pulled upward by the open wing-cape.
“I’m...I’m...flying!” Solly’s eyes went huge. The sky was turning darker and the wind grew much stronger.
Solly flew higher into the stormy sky. Then he began spinning. He started to feel dizzy.
““I’m...not flying. I’m floating...out of control!” Solly gasped. “I’m going TOO high.”
Then the wind suddenly stopped. Solly began falling straight down towards the ground!
“Oh, hoppin’ hazelnuts,” Solly exclaimed. He looked down and saw nothing but hard ground. “I shoulda called my friends. I’m gonna splat like a pig pancake!” Then he thought hard.
“Maybe I can’t fly with this wing-cape. But now I remember from my favourite show: flying squirrels don’t actually FLY. They glide.” Solly held his arms and legs out as wide and straight as he could. He gritted his teeth, kept steady and hoped for the best.
“It’s working! I’m slowing myself down!”
The air was steadying the cape’s wings. It was just enough to slow Solly’s fall...and nearly enough to keep him from—
“Oof!” Solly hit the ground gently. Then he fainted.
Moments later, he heard the muffled sound of someone repeating his name. It was quiet at first, but then it got louder.
Solly opened his eyes. Jenny Wren, Chip Falcon and Branston Crowe were staring at him.
“Oh gosh, Solly,” Jenny said with tears in her eyes.
“We saw the whole thing,” Branston Crowe said. “We told you to call us for help.”
“You could have been really hurt, ya know,” Chip Falcon added.
“I’m sorry, guys. You were right,” Solly squinted and smiled at his friends. “I’ll never do that again.”
“Good,” said Jenny. “And promise us one more thing.”
“What's that?” asked Solly as he sat up. Chip Falcon was holding Solly’s one-wheeler.
“You’ll stick to riding flapicycles!”
They all laughed.