Ice Cream Octopus
The pig on the one-wheeled, metal-winged flapicycle pumped his short legs to pick up speed. The wings squeaked and flapped, almost - but not quite - lifting him off the ground as he pedalled up Pickle Street.
This, my friends, is Solomon Hogg, or 'Solly,' if you like. Solly just started his new job for FlapOn™, an all-bird special delivery company. That’s right. All birds. Now, yes, a pig is not a bird. So how did he land such a job? With lots of determination, a little bit of charm, and a certain influential pelican for an uncle. Oh, hold on. Solly’s phone is ringing in his pocket.
“Solly Hogg, flying pig at your service!”
“Solly, I need you back here after you’ve delivered to the Rhino Diner. Rivington Seagull has sprained his wing. You’ll need to take his beach delivery today.” Remember that uncle we mentioned? That’s who was on the other end of the phone – Webster the Pelican, Solly’s boss.
“Golly. I hope Rivington’s okay. I’m coming back now.” Solly pedalled his flapicycle even faster.
Soon, in the top floor headquarters of the FlapOn™ delivery company, Solly was carefully cramming a large, round tub of ice cream inside his backpack.
“The sand and pebbles around the Choctopus Ice Cream stand might give your flapicycle a bit of trouble,” said Webster, “so be careful and be quick!” The pelican paced the floor and puffed his corn cob pipe. “Choctopus is a long-time customer, and I would hate to lose his business.”
“Don’t worry, Webster,” Solly reassured his uncle. “I will prove that it wasn't silly of you to hire a pig for your all-bird delivery business.”
“Not silly at all,” Solly said to himself as he rode his flapicycle under a cloudless summer sky along Hedge Street. But just then, what should he hear but a *POP! * and then a hissing sound. Yes, it was coming from the one tyre of his flapicycle. A rusty nail was now sticking right into the tread. Solly looked at his wristwatch.
“Oh, pistachios! My tyre repair kit is at the bottom of my backpack.” Solly took the ice cream tub out of his backpack and set it on the warm pavement to reach the repair kit. The hot sun beat down on him as he patched his tyre and puffed it back up to size with his little hoof-held pump.
He wiped his brow, stuffed the tub back into his backpack and rode only another couple of streets when he heard a familiar honking horn and dinging bells. Solly skidded to a stop as the railway crossing bars lowered in front of him. With clickety-clacks, a train began rolling by. A long train.
“Winkin’ walnuts!” Solly looked at his wristwatch again. He just had to get to Choctopus in time. He nervously counted the train carriages as they rumbled past in the bright sunshine.
“Oh, boy. One hundred and seventeen carriages!” With the last carriage finally past, Solly walked across the warm tracks and remounted his flapicycle. Animals along the beach strip raised their phones to film the pink pig on a winged unicycle squeaking past.
“Hope there’ll be a nice downhill stretch so I can make up for lost time and finally get my flapicycle off the ground.” Solly rounded the curve. Indeed - there was a hill. Very steep. Uphill. Solly grunted and pumped his short pig legs and began slowly ascending the hilly road. Suddenly, he heard the screech of tyres! He saw Tom Toad's butter truck swerve for a tiny rabbit in the road, tip over and spill its load of thousands of sticks of butter.
“Barking butternuts!” Solly’s eyes bugged.
The hot road was now golden from the quickly melting butter. Solly pedalled, but his tyre spun in place. Then he slipped, fell forward, and landed right on his snout. *HONK!*
The pig slid slowly back down the buttery hill along with his flapicycle and backpack. With grunts and some energetic wiggling through the slippery butter, Solly just managed to squirm his way to the side of the road. Instead of getting back on the flapicycle, he decided to dash down to the beach while dragging his backpack and flapicycle behind him.
“Aha! I see the ice cream stand. Here I come, Choctopus!” Barely balancing on his buttery hooves, Solly picked up the pace.
Stanley 'Choctopus' Charles was on the beach, nervously pacing on two tentacles. Another four arms were planted firmly on his hips, and with the final two he held his head. When he heard someone calling his name from a distance, he moved one arm to shade his eyes and saw a pink pig dragging an odd, winged unicycle down the beach.
“Choctopus, sir! I’m here! Your ice cream delivery is here!” Solly said, panting as he plopped the backpack down onto the white bench next to the ice cream stand.
“I made it just in time, didn’t I?”
“I was expecting the seagull,” the brown octopus said.
“Rivington sprained his wing. I’m Solomon Hogg and I assure you, I’m just as quick on my flapicycle.”
The octopus eyed the odd-looking contraption and laughed.
“No matter, I guess. You’re here now.” Choctopus was ready to serve his first customers of the day. He had ice cream scoops at the end of two of his arms and held cones in two others. “As long as it’s still - GASP!” Having lifted the lid off the ice cream tub, Choctopus saw nothing but cold, sloshing, brown liquid.
“My ice cream!” The octopus shrieked and all his arms flopped to the ground.
Unlike the ice cream, Solly stood frozen. Ashamed and not knowing what to do, he could only blink at the cold brown liquid while the sign on the post read in big black letters: ICE CREAM CONES. FIFTY PENCE.
Solly looked up when he heard a great gaggle of excited customers heading across the beach toward the ice cream stand. Seeing the crowd, Choctopus’s mouth melted into a huge frown and his eyes welled up with tears. “What am I going to do?!” he said.
But meanwhile, Solly’s nose was twitching and his scalp was tingling as he looked from the crowd of customers to the ice cream stand and then back to the tub of chocolate-y liquid. Losing no time, he seized a black marker from his backpack, scribbled on the back of the sign, then spun it around to face the crowd just as they arrived.
The sign now read: CHOCOLATE MILK, FIFTY PENCE. The thirsty crowd cheered happily and waved their money. The octopus smiled with relief. With one of his arms he wiped away his tears and with another, he handed Solly a cup of cool, sweet chocolate milk, before turning to serve his many happy customers.