“What is it?” he whispered.
“A Leprikan,” Cyllia said, her Human face looking more Childish than a thirteen-year-old’s.
Keshawn got up and peered into the Grass with them. In the shadows was a tiny, fat Man with the biggest, hairiest feet he’d ever seen. The little Man was digging a hole in the ground with his bare hands, and beside the hole sat a little cauldron as big as he was, brimming with glittering objects.
“A Hobbit,” murmured Keshawn, “So now we’re in Middle Earth. This is nuts.”
“Nuh-uh, it’sa Lep-ri-kan!” Cyllia whispered, “Heehee! Y’know, you runan’catchim an’ he hasta giveyou alla his Gold!”
“Leprechaun,” Gerry corrected her. “Boy, if that doesn’t look like a jolly Lucky Charms commercial!”
“I thought St. Patrick’s Day was over,” cracked Keshawn. Cyllia looked at him like he’d sprouted a third eye. Somehow Keshawn found that concept believable in this World.
The Leprechaun stopped digging, turning around with alarm knitted across his bewhiskered face. His eyes were dark and glittering, his beard was flame-red, and with the bright green hat on his head Keshawn thought his coloring would have been festive at Christmas time. At first he looked like he wanted to run off, but then a better idea seemed to cross his mind. A slow, jeering smile hung on his face. Placing one hand over his heart, he swept his hat off in a low bow with a celerity that Keshawn thought he had only imagined because it was so fast.
“Bow back to ‘im,” Cyllia told them, “He’sa greetin’ you wif da Foreveran Greeting.”
Keshawn and Gerry exchanged a look of consternation and bowed to the little fat Man with their hand over their hearts.
In the next instant, the Leprechaun had leaped up on top of his cauldron of Gold to dance a fancy little step and sing very loudly and off-key in some Irish tongue that Keshawn could not decipher.
“What’s he doing, now?” Gerry asked Cyllia, wincing at the Leprechaun’s caterwauling.
“AGH! Breakin’ my ears, that’s what he’s doin’,” Keshawn complained, covering his ears. “The Man’s flatter than a tire on a bed of nails! Guhh, make it stop!”
“I don’t believe it, heehee!” Cyllia giggled, her brown eyes wide, “He’sa tauntin’ you. Wants you ta chase ‘im!”
Gerry attempted to take the matter into his own hands.
“Shhh, SHUT UP!” he growled at the cackling Leprechaun, who was now waggling his rounded behind in their direction. “Dude, he’s gonna wake Sarah up!”
“He’s gonna wake them all up,” Keshawn moaned, “I don’t wanna see Raeden disrupted from her beauty sleep, Gerry. From what she was cryin’ about yesterday, it sounds like she needs it.”
“Hey, Keshawn. We could really use that money.” Gerry said quietly, in a sudden moment of thought.
Keshawn caught the wild look in his friend’s eyes. He glanced back at the sleeping figures of the others.
“Na-na-na-na-boo-booooo! Gheeeheehee!” squealed the Leprechaun in his little voice, taking a handful of Gold and throwing it provokingly in the air. He caught each coin and began to juggle them. The Gold glittered in the early morning Sun, a picture of perfect persuasion to Keshawn.
“You dum-dum,” Cyllia chuckled, “No-Critcher ever catches Leprikans. Deywayway too fast. We’sjus’ lucky to say we seen one.”
“Whatever,” Gerry said, unabashed. The juggling Gold was mirrored in his eyes. “We’ve got nothing to lose. Right?”
He nodded at Keshawn, who couldn’t have agreed more.
“We go on three,” Gerry whispered.
Keshawn crouched and dug his tennis shoes into the ground, readying to spring. The Leprechaun snorted derisively and guffawed at them.
“One – two – three!”
BOOM! In the swish of Prairie Grass, Gerry and Keshawn both darted at the fat little Man.
He squawked, grabbed his cauldron, and stumbled over the dirt clods to get away.
Meanwhile, dawn was breaking behind them. The added light helped Gerry and Keshawn to keep the Leprechaun in focus.
Keshawn couldn’t believe how fast the Leprechaun was for having such disproportionately large feet. Soon Keshawn found the air ripping from his lungs. Was Cyllia right? Was the Leprechaun too fast for them?
Gerry was running like a Horse, hitting the Prairie Grass out of his way.
They ran like this for at least two miles. Meanwhile, the blob in front of them that was a Leprechaun became a smaller blob, and then a speck.
They were losing him. Keshawn’s lungs were on fire.
Then he was gone. The Sun had just risen and both Gerry and Keshawn were ready to collapse.
“Stu-pido!” Gerry panted, “Now – we’re – lost!”
“Good run,” Keshawn said after catching his breath, “at least we tried.”
Keshawn turned and clapped Gerry on the back.
“Come on, let’s go.”
“Wait,” Gerry gasped. He stood from where he had bent over with his hands on his knees for support. “What’s – what’s that?”
Keshawn looked over his shoulder.
It was faint, but he could make it out. A Rainbow.
Gerry’s eyes lit up when Keshawn looked at him.
Oh, the things that Keshawn never thought he would do as a full-grown Man. Like chase the Rainbow.
“It’s getting closer!” Gerry huffed from in front of him.
After another half mile, Gerry and Keshawn stumbled into a small clearing with a slope that led down into a dark Cave mouth. Keshawn caught one last glimpse of the harried Leprechaun diving into the Cave with his Gold. The Rainbow followed the black cauldron, arching high above their heads.
Keshawn was catching his breath again.
“Should we go after him?”
“Wait,” Gerry gasped, rolling his shoulders in pain.
Soon, a high-pitched scream echoed out of the Cave. A tremor shook the ground under Keshawn’s feet, and he and Gerry both fell backwards. A Rocky grinding met their ears, cutting the scream short. A blood-curdling shifting of Rock following, sounding suspiciously similar to a gulp.
When he could regain stability, Keshawn sat up.
The Cave reopened its mouth. The smell of blood was in the air.
“It ATE him!” howled Keshawn, “Oh man, Boss, did you see that? ATE him. Like a bloody tart!”
“This place is so warped,” Gerry moaned with his palm on his temple.
But the Cave wasn’t done, yet. Before Keshawn could get to his feet, the ground started to shake again. Panic exploded in Keshawn’s chest.
“It’s comin’ for us! Run!”
But Keshawn couldn’t gain his footing. Gerry was crawling backwards next to him, and Keshawn lost no time in following his example.
A deep, gravelly belch filled the air. And then the air was filled with something else – glittering Gold coins!
Keshawn and Gerry were showered with five waves of Golden Cave vomit before the ground was stable enough for them to stand. Colored strands of Rainbow followed every last coin to the ground.
“Thank you for puking on us,” said Keshawn sincerely, “Excuse you.”
The Cave uttered a low groan.
“Things I never thought I’d hear,” Gerry said, astonished. Keshawn had to laugh. Well, being puked on in Forever wasn’t so bad as long as it was Gold!
An excerpt from Finding Forever by Ruth Anne Meredith; Part 1, Chapter Eleven: Golden Vomit