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Flora and the Hedgehog - no more extinction allowed

by Carlotta

It was one of those gentle days in June when the wind was kind and headed off the intense heat of the beautiful sunshine. A day when all seemed well in the arms of mother Nature. Flora was in her garden just amazed at the glory that her garden endowed. Butterflies and bees just feasting on the pollen from all the wonderful flowers busily collecting and taking home to make honey. The doves were coo-ing and the sound was so reminiscent of all the summers she had enjoyed in the past. They  had just brought her a letter from home where her parents had said that they anticipated that the struggles in her home-land might soon be over and that they hoped that it would be soon that it would be safe for her return. Whilst loving her garden and  her friends in Perpetua there was part of her that longed to return home albeit  fleetingly to see her family again.

She was dreaming pleasant thoughts about that possibility when she heard a snuffled cry from the undergrowth- whatever can that be she thought- I do not know of such a sound, and then when she went to explore she came across the saddest little creature with streaming eyes and nose and obviously in distress.  She went into the cottage and found a small box and some cotton wool and gently placed the strange spiked creature into it. She knew she must get help and needed to get to Litrasaurus and his friends in the cave if any help was to be found. 

Ariadne was away and therefore could not help and then she thought to ask Fancy who was able to fly at great speed and had a special seat upon which to carry passengers , and therefore she sent a message via one of the doves to ask for help.

Within moments Fancy arrived concerned for the creature and sped them safely to the cave of Litrasaurus .When they arrived and Flora explained Litrasaurus called Prof Sci-fi and they all sat down in the library to discuss the matter. Professor sci-fi diagnosed that this was an hedgehog not indigenous to Perpetua and that from his investigations to relieve its illness it would require the healing essences from one on the rarest plants on earth- the Ascension Island Parsley Fern .

Litrasaurus explained  the Ascension Island was a tiny volcanic island in the South Atlantic Ocean about a thousand miles off the coast of Africa. The fern in question had believed to have become extinct but had been re-discovered  in 2009. There remained only about 40 mature plants in the wild and only mature plants would do. Several spores of the plant had been taken to the Herbarium at Kew Gardens where many endangered plants are carefully stored he added.  It is from this island that the U.S. space agency monitors rocket launches and there is limited availability for aircraft who might wish to land there or use the flight paths. The island is the tip of an under-sea volcano which only emerged about a million years ago and it last erupted in the 16th Century. The fern clings to an isolated crag on Green Mountain."We are going to need all the help we can muster to both get there and indeed find the fern when we do." he said. The beaches have strong undercurrents and are not suitable for swimming ashore from a sea craft thereafter -but there is a beach called Long beach and that is the prime nesting site for the green turtle who may help us should we travel by sea and help us get ashore -indeed our sea-friends will not be overpowered by the currents so Didi dolphin and Mariana mermaid may help us should we travel by sea at least part of the way. The other potential helper would be Fancy who could perhaps fly us there undetected and take Flora to pick the ferns. . There are pools in the mountains and some have underground connections to the sea so that may be a possibility. The island is also home to hundreds of birds called " Wideawakes" due to their constant chatter across the lava plains making sure anyone nearby was kept awake! They indeed may be able to perhaps guide us to the ferns.

Well, after all the possible options, and with such a wonderful group of friends and helpers it was decided that given the difficulties of time and distance, time especially as the hedgehog was failing in health rapidly, that Fancy would be the best choice for the journey she could fly at astronomical speeds and if Flora accompanied her on her special passenger seat, to pick the plant that would be the best plan. Litrasaurus would consult Arbus Magicus ( the tree of knowledge) to give them directions and then ask Thesaurus to give them directions by messages in the clouds. Perfect!

Because it was such a distance Fancy made sure that Flora knew that she must take warm clothes and goggles as she would need to fly at high altitudes where it would be very cold  and at high speed to achieve their objectives- and so it was they set off. Flora was nervous of heights and it was with some trepidation that she climbed upon the seat which Fancy reserved for special trips and upon which she had carried the hedgehog to Litrasaurus' cave for help. Professor sci-Fi would take great care in nursing the hedgehog until their return.

The day they set off the weather was kind to them sunny and still, too much wind could make for a very turbulent flight but all seemed well so far- the thermal currents gave them plenty of lift as they traversed the skies and Thesaurus was giving the route that they should take by moulding the clouds in patterns to lead them. Suddenly they came across very grey clouds a storm was brewing and the clouds showing the route Theasaurus had provided were obliterated. Heavy rain and wind tossed them hither and thither and Flora was very frightened. Fancy said that she would land on an island ahead and take refuge until the storm passed they were not too far away from the Island of their destination. They landed on a tiny island which was only inhabited by turtles in its shallow seashore waters. Flora was anxious about the delay but the turtles were kind and re-assuring as they knew that storms like this passed quickly and they would soon be on their way. They also told of how this was an island that humans were trying to help them to keep safe from other predatory humans wanting to catch them and put them in stews! Flora was horrified- The turtles showed her that the kind humans had made areas safe for them when they laid their eggs and put nets up to stop the seabirds from eating their babies in their race from the beach dug- out nests to the sea.

Eventually the storm subsided and they were relieved to continue the journey, the skies cleared once more and the clouds once again were visible to guide them on their way. They soon could see the island in the distance and huge flocks of the "wideawake" birds on the lava plains. Fancy suggested that they land amongst them and asked for precise location of the rare plant. They were happy to help and knew how to lead them there but they warned Fancy that she must be very careful and not be afraid of the rockets and planes in abundance from the Nasa base which could cause great air turbulance. The wideawakes led them carefully through tunnels and caves high up on the island to arrive at the most beautiful waterfalls and clinging plants amongst which were the ferns they so needed.

Flora dismounted with care onto a very slippery ledge moist with the spray from the waterfall there  she could just reach the plants and took a precious few and clambered back to Fancy to make the return journey. They thanked the wideawakes for all their help and set off the shallow waters around the island which were the most beautiful turquoise blue and  so clear they could see the fish happily swimming and as they moved further out over the sea there were schools of dolphins dancing and jumping through the deep blue waves, up they climbed into the skies by this time Flora was very tired but too excited to sleep Fancy was strong but becoming quite weary - but they must press on. The skies were darkening now but the air was clear and Flora had never seen so many stars twinkling in the sky and they too were showing them a diamond lit path way home to Perpetua.

At last they landed at the cave of Litrasaurus  he was waiting anxiously for them- they rushed to Professor Sci-Fi with the precious plants for him to prepare the medicine. The prof, was much pleased to see them back and set work straight away to prepare the medicine that he believed would help cure the hedgehog. Whilst he was doing this Fancy said she must return and recover from her very long flight and would be back to-morrow to see how things were. Flora went to the comfy library and lay down on the soft cushions to rest. Strange gurglings could be heard from Professor Sci-Fi's lab but eventually he returned with a test tube filled with the most incredible purple colour." I think this is it!" he exclaimed "Come with me Flora, I think it would be best if you administer the medicine". "of course!" she exclaimed rushing after him. They arrived at his lab where the little hedgehog was lying very still "Is he alright?" she asked "he seems so still" "I gave him a slight sedative to keep him calm until your return", he replied "I will give you what we call a "pippet"  which is a little glass tube to suck up a few drops of the medicine then you will need to gently squeeze a few droplets into his mouth as he is too frail to lap." Flora very carefully picked up the hedgehog and squeezed a few droplets into his mouth and laid him back down in the soft bed that Prof Sci-Fi had made for him. "Now," he said "only time will tell".

He told Flora to go home and get a good night's sleep and return tomorrow as he would stay up all the night to make sure all was well and administer the last dose of medicine.

The next morning Fancy and Flora arrived at the cave wondering if all their attempts to help the hedgehog had been in vain- Litrasaurus met them as they arrived and said with a grave voice " I want you to come and see this" whilst he had that old twinkle in his eye they were apprehensive about what they would find. Litrasaurus led them quietly and somberly towards the Professor Sci-Fi lab and very slowly opened the door- they expected the worst- but what should they see? There in his chair was an exhausted and snoring and sleeping Professor with the little hedgehog snuffling into his shoulder and neck and looking so much better and more importantly obviously loving him for his care.

Now Litrasaurus said "when the hedgehog is fully recovered we must make plans to find from whence he came and help his return because otherwise he will become extinct in Perpetua as there are no other of his kind as far as we know. I think we shall ask Dodo to use his investigative skills to tell us where he came from or ask Arbicus magicus whether there are any more of his kind in Perpetua whatever the outcome extinction is not an outcome we shall allow " To which they all cheered x