“Where in the world are we?” Bernie wondered, squinting.
“My, it’s such light here!” Rosy lamented. “I need sun glasses!”
“That’s because a moment ago you’ve been in the dark forest”, Jenny laughed. “Your eyes have to become used to the light.”
Now they looked about them. The landscape was interesting. The sand on which they were standing was covered with a reddish powder. All around green shrubs could be seen, but their eyes were all on what was in front of them: A large red giant rock with a wide hole in the centre. None of the friends had ever seen the like. The rock was a big as the market place of Aubachtal. For minutes they were silent until Dr. Einstein started to flutter his wings and excitedly croaked:
“Go home, it is!” Berta corrected.
“Come-home, Berta-dearest, come-home!”
Berta just wanted to start one of her dreaded speeches, when Daisy shouted:
“He is right! This will be Australia.”
“But I don’t want to stand on my head!”
They all glared at Rosy.
“I beg your pardon?” Berta said.
“Well, Australia is down under on the globe, in our classroom at least. Walking from our place to Australia, you are head down when arriving! So if I want to be upside down, I’ve got to stand on my head.”
“Gosh, you’re silly”, Berta cried. “That must be wrong because you would have fallen off long before reaching Australia.”
“And, so, why, please, didn’t I, dearest Berta?”
“Erm, the reason might be, my dear Rosy, that the ground is especially sticky here. Sticky like your fingers after eating chocolate. Everything will then stick to your fingers.”
Rosy hopped up and down.
“And why, dearest Berta, can I jump? Actually I should fall into the sky.”
“As I always say, you have no idea. That’s because of the grave mutation.”
“And what is grave mutation?”
“Grave mutation, my very dear Rosy, is – erm... Well, it holds everything together!”
“Gravitation”, Bernie said with a giggle. “The word is gravitation and that’s what keeping us on the ground. For example if I spit a chewing gum to the floor...”
“Don’t you dare!” Berta hissed. “That belongs into the garbage!”
“So if I spit a chewing gum into the garbage, it falls downwards. The Earth attracts it. So it doesn’t matter if we are at the North or South Pole. Gravitation is everywhere.”
Elfrida looked over to the rock.
“As this is clear now, we should find out where the next town it. We need some food and drink. From that rock we certainly have a fine view, so let’s climb it.”
The distance was greater than it had looked at first. The sun was burning down from the sky and steps became shorter and shorter. But they could not think of resting, wanted to get out of the blazing sun as soon as possible. Hours later they had made it and lay down in the shadow of the rock. It was enormous and no one really dared to climb up. In the end Dr. Einstein was sent up. A few minutes later he returned.
Disappointed, Bernie kicked the rock wall.
“We are lost. Where shall we find the stopper?”
No one answered as Bernie was right. If only they could find the stopper, the magic bottle could take them back. Slowly the sun sank at the horizon and coloured everything in a red light. It was growing cold and Jenny started to look for timber.
“Come on, get moving, we’ve got to light a fire!”
“Why don’t we dug ourselves in the warm sand?” Berta uppishly asked.
“You may but I doubt that you are safe from wild animals there.”
Quickly Berta was up and taking her share in the search. When the sun was down, a fire was burning high and the children were sitting around it in a circle. In the distance howling could be heard so that their hair stood on ends.
“Dingos”, Bernie explained. “They go hunting here at night.”
They moved closer together but it took them long to sleep. Rosy was the first to wake because her stomach reminded her of breakfast time. The sun was up already and it was getting warm again.
“Has anyone any food? I’m close to starving.”
“It’s in the cart in the Magic Forest”, Elfrida yawned, getting up. “We have to look for something.”
“But only some bushes are here”, Rosy went on lamenting.
Now they all were awake. Two teams were made up. One walked to the right, the other to the left around the rock. One hour later the two teams met but no one had found anything to eat or drink. Spirits were low and the situation serious. Without food and drink it was only a matter of time till they were going to be the food of the dingos.”
“Say, do they also have vultures here?” Bernie pointed up to the sky.
Something big and black came towards them. Dr. Einstein fluttered excitedly and cried:
“Too fast for a vulture”, Bernie said. “Might be a plane!”
By now droning and screeching could be heard, louder and louder so that they all stuffed their fingers into the ears. They hastily hid behind a rock. Then the ground vibrated, a high fountain of sand went up to the sky and all was quiet.
Curiously the children came from behind the rock and saw a man sitting in a peculiar rocket. Again and again he banged his fist onto the plane and shouted:
“O shit, shit, shit!”
“Can’t he speak decently?” Berta reproachfully said.
“I think, they all talk like that here”, Daisy said.
The man by now had noticed that he was being watched. He alighted and limped towards the rock. On his head he had some peculiar cap and was wearing a dirty grey smock. He smiled again and pointed at the children.
“Hey kids, wha’ ye do here?”
Daisy cleared her throat.
“I think he wants to know what we are doing here.”
“Hey kids, gab ter me!”
“We should talk to him – or try it.” Daisy pointed at herself and then at her friends and said: “We are from Germany.”
“Oh, you are from Germany?” the man said in German. “Swell – great, my brother’s living there!”
Now Berta was no longer able to control herself.
“You look absolutely dirty, you should take a bath, Mister!”
“Oh, great, gabbin’ pig – er, pig speaking.” He slowly approached Berta. “Howdy?”
Furiously Berta glared at him, raising her fists.
“Don’t call me a rowdy, Mister, or I’ll show you!”
“Come on, Berta”, Daisy interfered, “he just wants to know how you are.”
“He’s really not insulting me? He called me a rowdy!”
Now they all laughed and the man in the dirty smock introduced himself.
“My name is Hurry, Professor Doctor Hurry. Just call me Profdoc!”
Elfrida looked at the Prof. Dr. and pondered.
“Say, Daisy, hurry does mean being quick, doesn’t it?”
“Yes, of course, to hurry, haste, be quick.”
“Don’t you noticed? He’s got a brother in Germany. I think I know who that is: Professor Hasty!”
“Yes, tha’s me brother. Ye know him?”
“We do indeed”, Bernie laughed. “Are you also such a tinkerer?”
“Day and night”, Prof. Dr. Hurry laughed. “I’d like to show you my lab, but first I’ve got to repair this darned machine.”
While the children were patiently waiting, Rosy searched the surroundings once more for some food – without success. When the vessel was repaired, they could board it.
“Will the machine carry us, Profdoc?” Bernie could not suppress the question.
“No idea – wait and see.”
They all squeezed into the much too small vessel. Rosy wanted to take the passenger seat but Profdoc said:
“Sorry, but if you are the pig my brother wrote about, you better stay in the rear.”
While Berta laughed out loud, Rosy poutingly scrambled to the rear of the vessel.
“We want to arrive in one, you know.”
He switched on the turbine. Bernie, sitting beside him, watched closely.
“Why did you make an emergency landing at all, Profdoc?”
“Well – I think I lost the left steering nozzle. When I assembled the machine yesterday, one screw was missing. So I fastened the nozzle with chewing gum.”
“I want to get out…”
“No, Berta, it’s too late. The machine is taking off – or isn’t…”
Profdoc guffawed over his own joke. Berta closed her eyes and held to Rosy. As it was, the vessel really gained height slowly but the ground still was terribly close. The vessel swerved beyond the desert sand but did not crash. Soon something appeared at the horizon and was growing.
“Adelaide”, Profdoc explained. “I’m living there.”
“So you’re married?” Rosy asked and Prof. Dr. Hurry laughed.
“Adelaide is a town in southern Australia, dear pig. We’ll touch down there. Hold on, that will get shaky!”
Slowly the bow of the vessel came down and they were flying towards a large meadow. There were cows and horses on the meadow. When the vessel, screeching and crunching, touched the ground, all cattle fled into a close-by stable. Grass, stones, and soil whirled through the air and by and by the machine came to a standstill.
“This is my ranch”, Profdoc explained. “You had a glimpse at my cattle. Please get off, all of you.”
The children looked at each other. They were all covered with grass and soil and looked rather dirty.
“Mr. Profdoc, I protest. When I boarded your plane, I was clean!”
“Right, Berta, where’s the problem? You’ll find water in the stable with the cattle.”
“W-with the c-cattle?” Berta was enraged. “Do you mean I’m to wash in the stable?”
“Usually pigs do here – if so.”
Furiously, Berta walked towards the stable while her friends were guided to the house. When Berta had followed them, they first of all got some food and drink.