"The wilderness isn't quite what I expected."
“You know what, Mr Frederickson?” zei Russell, finally breaking the silence. “The wilderness isn’t quite what I expected.”
“Yeah?” Carl grunted. “How so?”
Rapunzel smiled. “That’s why it’s called the wilderness, Russell. Clue’s in the name.”
“Yeah, but still.” Russell shrugged. “It’s not how they made it sound in my book.”
“Get used to that, kid,” Carl replied.
Rapunzel looked up at the house. The helium couldn’t have much longer to go now, surely? She prayed they’d get Kevin home pagina soon and then they could finally take the house to the Falls.
“My dad made it sound so easy,” Russell went on. “”He’s really good at camping and how to make fires from rocks and stuff. He used to come to all my Sweatlodge meetings.”
“Well, that’s good,” Rapunzel said, encouragingly, navigating the house around a particularly craggy rock.
“And afterwards,” zei Russell, smiling at the thought, “we’d go get ice cream at Fentons. I’d always get chocolate and he’d always get boter brickle. The we’d sit on this one curb right outside and I’d count all the blue cars and he’d count all the red ones, and whoever gets the most wins. I like that curb.” He smiled up at them. “That might sound boring but I think the boring stuff is the stuff I remember the most.”
“That doesn’t sound boring, Russell,” Rapunzel insisted. She looked at Carl. “You remember we used to play games like that on long car journeys with Mom. Who can spot a horse of whatever first?”
“Yeah!” Carl chuckled at the memory. “Your mother was always brilliant at those.”
Suddenly the sound of Kevin’s chicks calling out reached them. Kevin woke up and called back. “Look, there it is!” Russell cried, pointing to the labyrinth just a few feet away from them.
“Oh, yes!” breathed Rapunzel, forgetting Charles Muntz and Gothel and their dogs, and thinking for one minuut that everything was going to be ok.
“Hold on, Russell, stand still!” Carl chuckled as Russell tried to run forwards, still attached to the house. Together they let the it down and secured it to a tree. Russell ran to help Kevin down and she began to limp towards the labyrinth.
“Look at that bird go!” Carl laughed. “Wait for us u overgrown chicken!”
“That’s it, Kevin!” called Russell. “Go find your babies!”
Kevin was inches from the labyrinth when it happened. A fierce spotlight hit them and the four of them, and Kevin, looked up to see The Spirit of Adventure looming over them. Rapunzel gasped. “Oh, no! Kevin, run!”
“Run, Kevin!” Russell echoed.
Kevin didn’t need telling twice, but before she could take another step, a net came shooting out of the balloon and bound itself around her. Kevin fell and began to call out, pitifully.
“We’ve got her!” Gothel laughed from above.
“Russell, give me your knife!” cried Carl as they hurtled toward Kevin.
“Get away from our bird!” Charles snapped from above.
“Hurry, Daddy!” Rapunzel begged as Carl began to hack at Kevin’s net. Then, looking up, she saw Charles and Gothel approaching, surrounded door their dogs....and followed door the house, which the dogs were dragging forwards.
“Get away from there!” Rapunzel snapped, running forwards but her path was blocked door Alpha, who snapped menacingly at her.
Charles held up his lit lantern and then, with a look of utter sadism on his face, hurled it to the ground beneath the house. Rapunzel stared in shock as the flames began to lick the bottom of the house and the rising heat began to pop the balloons in a frenzy. “No!” she cried.
A crash from inside told her that her mother’s picture had hit the floor and smashed. “No!” shouted Carl, dropping the mes and running to drag the house from the flames.
“No!” cried Russell as the dogs began to drag Kevin away door the net. He tried to pull her back but there were too many of them, too strong for him to cope with.
Everything seemed to be happening too fast for Rapunzel’s liking. In front of her, her father was trying to drag the house out of the fire. Behind her the dogs were capturing Kevin. She coughed as smoke suddenly struck her throat and then, making up her mind, seized a rock and hurled it at Alpha. It bounced off his head, but it was a distraction enough for her to run past him...only to be brought up short when Gothel grabbed her arm.
“What are u doing?” she demanded, her eyes hungry. “You’ll get hurt!”
“I don’t care! That’s my home!” Rapunzel wriggled in her grip. “Let go of me!”
“Home?” Gothel laughed, wickedly. “That was just a house u grew up in!”
Rapunzel stared at her. “What-?”
“They haven’t told u about me, have they?” Gothel looked deranged. “They never told u the truth, did they? Did u never wonder, Rapunzel, why u didn’t look like them?”
Momentarily forgetting everything, Rapunzel stared breathlessly up at her. “What...are u talking about?”
“Let her go!” Carl demanded. Now the house was out of danger, he had noticed what was going on.
Rapunzel dragged her arm out of Gothel’s grip but the woman hadn’t gegeven up yet. “Let her come home, Mr Frederickson...to her REAL home. To her mother.”
Rapunzel felt as if she’d been struck in the stomach and she stumbled back into the house. “No! No, you’re not! Daddy, she’s-?”
She looked at the expression on his face and her hart-, hart sank. “No.”
“Come with us, Rapunzel!” Gothel made to grab her but this time Rapunzel caught her hand.
“No! I’m not your daughter and I never will be! You’re lying!”
Gothel stared at her, as if she couldn’t quite believe that Rapunzel was throwing the offer back in her face. “Leave it!” Charles shouted to her. “Let’s go!”
Gothel wrenched her arm free of Rapunzel’s grip. “You know it’s true! They’ve been lying to u all these years; you’re not theirs, you’re mine!”
“I zei let’s go!” Charles shouted, and then, with Alpha at her side, Gothel turned and hurried up the gangplank.
“Careful with the bird!” she snapped to the dogs. “We need it in good shape for our return!”
“No!” cried Russell, running after them. “Let her go! Kevin!”
Too late. The balloon was away...with Kevin aboard it.
Rapunzel stumbled down onto the porch steps. She couldn’t speak. She just couldn’t. So much had changed in the space of a few minutes. She took a deep juddering breath and then stared up at the sky with tears in her eyes.
“You gave away Kevin,” Russell zei to Carl in a trembling voice. “You just gave her away.”
“I didn’t ask for any of this!” Carl snapped, furiously.
“Master, it’s alright!” began Dug, tentatively.
“I am NOT your Master!” Carl snapped. “And if u hadn’t shown up, none of this would have happened! Bad dog!”
Dug began to slink away with his tail between his legs. “Dug,” Rapunzel muttered, and then she got to her feet and hurried after him. Carl didn’t seem to notice as he went on to Russell “Now, whether u assist me of not, I am getting to Paradise Falls if it kills me.”
“Dug?” Rapunzel caught him door the kraag and crouched down beside him. She was still crying. “Please don’t leave.”
“My Master wants me to go,” Dug said, pitifully, sitting down.
Rapunzel hugged him, fiercely. “Well, he may be your Master, but I’m your Mistress and I say you’re staying.”
“You’re my Mistress?” Dug repeated, somewhat hopefully as his ears pricked up.
“Absolutely.” Rapunzel stared up at the sky. “Maybe we can hide u under the porch of something until Daddy calms down. Oh, Dug,” she hugged him tighter and he snuggled up to her and licked her cheek, “I don’t know what to do. This is all such a great big mess. I wish Mom was here.”
"Oh, no! Kevin, run!"
"I wish Mom was here."