Status: Working on it.


Chapter 5

Gerard’s stomach growled for the tenth time in a row. He curled up into a tighter ball and shoved himself as deep into the corner of the cage as he could, reaching out to hold onto one of the bars as the boat tilted him forward again. He buried his face into his knees and tried to forget where he was as the thick sea air made him simultaneously hungrier and sicker. It had become a repetitive process: plant his feet on the floor when the boat slanted to port, hold on to the bars for dear life when it lurched to starboard. It had been at least a day since he had last eaten, and though the thought of food was only making him more seasick, he decided he would take whatever he was given.

One of the hunters passed down the row of cages, tossing fruits at some of the animals, who devoured them in moments. He finally stopped at Gerard’s cage and reached into the pack he held, only to bring nothing out. “Hm, sorry. Guess you’ll have to wait ’til we get there,” he said with a shrug as he returned to the upper deck. Gerard sighed, cringing as sharp pains attacked his stomach again.

“Here you go,” said Horton from the cage next to his. The elephant picked up a banana and gingerly placed it next to Gerard.


He fell asleep several times over the course of the journey, only to wake up minutes later from being tossed into the wall or pounded against the bars. He had no idea what time it was when the motion finally ceased, and he didn’t care. The hunters opened a ramp at the back of the boat and began to lead the animals on shore one by one. Gerard decided it was hopeless to explain that he was, in fact, a human, and let himself be led away like the rest of the creatures. They hefted Horton’s tree onto a wagon and rolled it down the ramp. Gerard saw the auction block not more than a few feet away, with a man standing behind it and holding a heavy gavel, like some sort of judge.

“Next up, we have an elephant,” said the auctioneer. “Included are egg, nest, and tree. We will start the bidding at…One hundred.” Gerard saw a few bidding paddles go up, and the auctioneer called out successively higher numbers. “Nine hundred, one thousand- oh, nine hundred once, nine hundred twice- Sold!” He banged the hammer on the podium. “Sold to the man from the circus.”

“You’re next,” one of the hunters said as they dragged Gerard to the front of the auctioneer’s podium. The auctioneer studied him for a moment, then leaned over the podium and whispered something to the hunter that Gerard couldn’t hear. “Yeah, it’s the best we’ve got,” the hunter answered. The auctioneer sighed.

“Alright, next, we have…a…well, I’m not entirely certain what this is, so we’ll start the bidding at…one dollar.” Gerard looked out at the crowd. He was used to being in front of people, but never before had he been so carefully scrutinized. Not a single number paddle went up. “One dollar? …fifty cents?” The auctioneer sighed again. “We’ll pay you to take him.”

“I guess I’ll take him, too,” the man from the circus cried. Gerard glanced up with a sudden realization. The voice sounded exactly like the Cat’s; sure enough, the man was wearing a red-and-white striped hat and a coat to match. The auctioneer banged the gavel again, and Gerard was led away to join Horton. He tried not to take his eyes off of the Cat, but he suddenly found himself being shoved onto a train car and locked inside yet another cage.

Traveling on the train was, in many ways, worse than the boat. Although the floor mostly stayed level, it constantly shifted back and forth, giving Gerard the sensation that the train was going to simply fly off the tracks. He sat deep in one corner of his cage, curled up in much the same position he had been in while on the boat. He was sore and exhausted, but he knew he wouldn’t be able to fix either problem any time soon. He saw the wristband still firmly attached to his arm and sighed. He almost considered going back to Whoville, but the idea of trying to teleport back to a moving train terrified him.

He wasn’t sure when it finally stopped, but when the door of the train car slid open again, it was dark outside. He saw people scurrying around a pile of fabric and poles on the ground, and all at once the mess was hefted into a giant tent. Several smaller ones popped up alongside it, and soon enough Gerard and the other animals were being led to one of the tents. Thunder rumbled through the clouds overhead, and seconds later rain began to sprinkle down upon them. The clouds had not fully overtaken the sky, allowing the moon to illuminate bits and pieces of the world below. Gerard would have found the sight beautiful if he had not felt like such a prisoner.

Hours later, sighing and still unable to sleep, Gerard peered through the bars of his cage. It was dark inside the tent except for a few spots where holes would allow the moonlight to shine through, and raindrops continually sparkled in the gaps. He could see Horton not far away, still sitting on top of the flimsy-looking tree. The other circus animals were sleeping soundly, but Horton was clearly awake. He shifted just enough to pick up the egg and cradled it in his trunk.

Gerard’s mind trailed from the egg to thoughts of his own child. He suddenly remembered the drawing and pulled it out of his pocket, relieved that it had survived the trip, and he gingerly unfolded it, moving closer to the place where a single beam of light illuminated his straw-laden cage, careful not to let any rain ruin the sketch. Tears welled up in his eyes as he studied it, letting thoughts of Lyn flood back into his mind. He propped one arm up on his folded knee and buried his face in it, attempting to remain as silent as possible so no one would notice that he was crying.

“Are you okay?” Horton called softly, using his ears to shield the egg from the rain. Gerard had to take a minute to compose himself enough to speak.

“I miss her so much,” he choked out just before his voice was swallowed up again.

“Don’t worry,” the elephant said, trying to be reassuring. “We’ll both get home…somehow…”

“It’s hopeless.” Gerard sniffled and put the drawing away. “I’m never going to get home. I’m stuck here forever. I give up.” He didn’t want to try visiting Who, either. Being small, helpless, and lost was worse than being in a cage, helpless, and lost, he decided.

Horton sighed, then glanced down at the egg. “Who would’ve thought I’d ever have to try and take care of an egg,” he said. “Well…I’m going to do better than try. I’ll protect you and keep you safe.” To Gerard’s surprise, the elephant started to sing.

“There’s a faraway land, so the stories all tell,
Somewhere beyond the horizon.
If we can find it then all will be well,
Troubles there are few…someday we’ll go to Solla Sollew…”

Gerard closed his eyes and let the low, quiet song take his mind away. The rain pounding the tent drowned out everything else, and he pictured a different world, one with perfect blue skies and soft grass and warm, comforting breezes. Clouds lazily drifted by, and the scent of fresh, clean air filled him with new life. He smiled to himself and thought, just for a moment, that perhaps things weren’t so bad.

“High on a mountain or lost on the sea,
Sooner or later, I’ll find it.
I have a picture of how it will be.
On the day I do,
Troubles will be through,
And I’ll be home with you…”

All at once, he saw Lyn standing in front of him, smiling and laughing at something. He ran forward and hugged her tightly, closing his eyes. He didn’t dare ask himself if any of it was real. It felt like he was home. He was flying, floating, as if he were in a dream, with Horton’s lullaby drifting through his ears. Nothing could be more perfect.

“I’ll be home with you…”