The Adventures of Baby Edwin #1: The Great Escape can be read here.

 

“And the passengers from the Hickettsville Express all cheered as Cowboy Jim, on the back of his horse Bullet, rode off into the sunset.” Edwin’s father smiled down at Baby Edwin as the child lay on his back in his crib. “The end.”

“Google gah,” Edwin responded. Daddy always told him a story at naptime.

“Did you like that one?” Daddy asked.

Edwin had liked it very much. He liked most stories, but this one especially. The brakes had gone out on the Hickettsville Express, and if it wasn’t for Cowboy Jim, the train would have shot off the mountainside and plunged into the canyon.

The chubby toddler looked up at his father and smiled. “Oooh babba dadda.”

His father’s face lit up. “Honey!” he called out the door.

No response.

“Honey?” Met with silence yet again, he hurried from the room, leaving the door ajar. Edwin heard his father’s voice out in the hall. “He said my name! He said ‘Daddy’!”

When the toddler heard the patio door close, he knew that his father had gone off into the garden in search of Mommy. He sat up at once and cooed three times. His dove impression was spot-on. Within seconds, Edwin heard the response he expected: the familiar clickety-click of his faithful dog’s claws on the hallway floor.

Baby Edwin clambered to his feet and reached for the slats of his crib. Since their last adventure, they had practised this many times. He began to climb, and by the time Lido had positioned himself alongside the crib, Edwin had already hoisted himself up and over the top rail. Gripping the slats loosely with his chubby hands, he slid down the side rail and plopped gently onto his dog’s furry back.

Lido set off at once, out the door and down the hall. Around the corner, the dog burst into a sprint. The front door was closed, of course, just as it had been last time. As Lido launched himself into the air, Edwin noticed that the screen had been repaired since they’d burst through it on their last adventure. This was good, he thought, as his pup’s paws tore through it. Since it was so easy for Daddy to fix, he wouldn’t mind doing it again.

Upon landing, Lido trotted to the end of the front walkway and stopped, awaiting orders.

Baby Edwin squinted and stared off into the distance (all the way across the street!) just as he imagined Cowboy Jim might do. After several seconds of solemn silence, he said, “Lido, let’s ride!”

His pet trotted off down the block, and as he did, an amazing thing happened. First, Edwin watched as a plastic bag, blown by a puff of wind, became a tumbleweed rolling down the middle of their street. Then, a green lamppost turned into a tall cactus. By the time they rounded the corner onto the next street, the entire neighbourhood had been transformed into a town right out of the old west. Rickety wooden storefronts replaced the familiar houses, and they travelled not on the sidewalk, but along the edge of a dusty old road.

And what was that sound? “Whoa, boy,” Edwin said, and they halted. Reaching down and patting his mount’s side, the toddler listened. A whistle. Far off, but growing louder. And now something else. He felt it before he heard it. The low rumble of a train, coming fast!

Edwin kicked his legs. “Hyah, Lido!” The beast was off at a gallop, and now as they tore toward the end of the street, Edwin could see the Express. Not far off now, it was careening along the track that led into town, belching smoke and out of control. The station at the end of Main Street was the end of the line. If that train didn’t stop, it would run right off the end of the tracks and into Death Canyon!

“Faster, good steed!” Edwin called. Lido’s legs became a blur of brown fur as they sped for the track.

As his pet bounded up onto the platform, Edwin gave the command: “Halt, Lido!” The animal stopped with a jerk, his hindquarters popping up off the ground. Edwin, flung from Lido’s back, soared through the air, crying, “Up, up and away!”

The engineer’s eyes widened as the flying toddler entered the cab via the large open window. “So sorry,” said Ed just before impact, though he knew it had to be done. The engineer was knocked clear out the opposite side.

Edwin landed with both chubby feet firmly planted on the cab’s steel deck and looked up at a complicated array of levers and gauges. He knew not which was the brake, but there was little time. Rising up onto his tiptoes, he grabbed the only one he could reach and pulled. The train sped up!

Letting go, he was thrown against the side of the cab as the train hurtled round a curve. Edwin knew that meant that they were almost at the end of the line. There was another handle on the other side, just a little higher up. Seconds from the lip of the cliff and a plunge to certain death, the child knew it was his only hope.

Baby Edwin bent his knees, threw his arms back, then sprang up and across the cab. One little hand wrapped itself around the lever, and his momentum cranked it all the way over. The toddler was thrown immediately up against the front of the control room. The brakes screeched like a pterodactyl with a hangnail as the massive train skidded along the track.

Edwin struggled to pull himself off the floor as the locomotive slowed, but just as it creaked to a stop, he was tossed ahead once again. Leaning against the front wall, he found that the floor sloped up ahead of him. Crawling on his hands and knees like . . . a baby . . . he made his way up to the open back of the cab and peered around the side. The engine teetered on the brink of the cliff!

Baby Edwin knew that if he could just get a little farther back, he’d be able to jump off the side of the train before it was too late. He rose cautiously to his feet. The great locomotive groaned and shifted. He slid one tiny foot forward. Nothing. Then the other foot. Still fine. Then he bent his knees, just a little, as he prepared to jump to safety.

The bottom dropped out of Edwin’s world. He pushed off with all his might as the locomotive plunged over the cliff. The chunky tot rose briefly before dropping back down, following the falling engine.

Two hands grabbed his waist and the child dangled for a moment over the rocky chasm below. Edwin spun to see a boy, perhaps 12 years old, blond hair flowing out from beneath a black helmet.

“Whoa. That was close, little dude!” said the boy, turning to set him down safely away from the ledge.

Edwin was startled to feel soft grass beneath his toes.

“Are you okay?” the boy asked.

Edwin blinked. Where had this kid come from? He stared down at the grass, up at the boy, then beyond him. No canyon. He stepped past his rescuer for a better look. He gazed down upon a drainage ditch. Perhaps three metres away sat not a train, but a skateboard, snapped in two, one end submerged in the little stream that meandered along the bottom of the trench.

Edwin had imagined the whole thing.

The boy bent down to speak to him, but was interrupted by a loud series of barks and the thundering of paws. He turned just in time to be broadsided by a flying dog.

The bewildered boy sprawled headlong into the ditch as Lido dropped to the turf, spun, and coming from behind Edwin now, dove underneath the toddler’s legs and bore him away at a gallop.

They raced across the road that ran along the drainage ditch and flew back up the street that led home. Baby Edwin looked back over his shoulder to see the unfortunate boy on his back in the stream, next to his ruined board. Edwin waved farewell just before his speeding pup rounded the corner onto their block.

In next to no time, child and dog passed undetected through the house and into Edwin’s bedroom. As the exhausted child snuggled into his crib with his faithful dog curled up on the floor below, he passed quickly into sleep.

When his mother woke him not long after, she interrupted the most wonderful dream: Baby Edwin, seated upon his faithful steed Lido, was being cheered by the townsfolk after stopping the Hickettsville Express from plunging into Death Canyon. Every single passenger had been saved that day.

Sadly, the fate of the engineer, who went down with the locomotive, was unknown.

 

Questions? Comments? Do you know any babies who ride around on a dog’s back and do ridiculous things? I love to hear from my readers, so share your thoughts (under “Get in Touch”, just to the right of this post).

Robin Pawlak

I was a teacher for 31 years in Red Deer, Alberta (Canada). I had boatloads of fun with my students, but three decades is a long time, so I decided to retire to something a little quieter.

Space Cadets is my first book, but I have a bunch of ideas bouncing around in my head, so more are sure to follow!