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The Missing Rainbow

Billy, Dave, and Jamar sat playing video games in the basement playroom. Spring rain pelted the outside of the room's high windows. Sheets of water rolled down the window panes and pooled in warm puddles on the ground, now and then splashing mud on the glass.

Eventually the rain stopped, the thick gray clouds began to clear, and finally sun broke through to lighten the day.

"All riiiiight!" said Jamar. "The sun's come out! Let's go outside."

"Yeah!" said Dave, as he stood and stretched.

"Last one out is a..." Billy shouted as he bolted for the door, but the rest was drowned out by the rumble of footsteps as the boys raced towards the sunshine.

"Man, don't you just love the way it smells after it rains?" asked Dave. He stopped and leaned his head back to take a deep breath, closing his eyes to the warm sun.

"What I like best are the clouds," said Billy. "Hey, check it out! That one looks like a lion!."

"Cool!" agreed Jamar. He nodded his head in the other direction. "But that one over there looks like a camel chasing a beach ball."

Dave laughed and pointed to yet another patch of clouds, "That bunch over there looks like one of those little circus cars with a bunch of clowns getting out," he said.

"Hey... wait a minute..." Jamar said, whirling around, and looking across the sky. "Shouldn't there be a rainbow?"

All the boys looked up and found no rainbow anywhere.

"Wow," Dave said. "Do you see those clouds over there?"

"Which ones?" asked Jamar.

"Those two." Dave said pointing off in the distance. "One looks like a gate. With the sun shining like this it almost looks golden."

Jamar shook his head."In your dreams Dave."

"I don't see any cloud gates either." Billy said. "What's the other cloud look like?"

Dave put his hand up to shield his eyes and squinted as he strained to make it out. "It looks like a...like a horse, a golden horse." Dave said. Then his eyes began to grow wider. "It looks like a horse...honest! and it's coming this way!"

"What?" said Jamar. "Oh, wow, I see it now. Look, there it is!" Jamar said, pointing excitedly.

"I see it!" Billy shouted. As the horse came closer Billy suddenly realized what was going on. "Hey," he said in amazement "That's my dream horse, 'Pal'!"

In seconds, Pal, the golden horse from the clouds landed softy next to the boys. "Hello, Billy." he said.

Dave's jaw dropped. "He talks!" gasped Jamar.

"Of course he talks." Billy said with pride. "He's a dream horse. Didn't you know dream animals can talk?"

Jamar shook his head. "But, I'm not dreaming...am I?" he whispered.

"Well I know I'm not," said Dave, as he pinched his arm to make sure.

The dream horse laughed and pawed at the grass. "I can come anytime you dream. Each of you were daydreaming weren't you?"

The boys looked at each other then nodded.

"Well, then," said Pal, "Here I am."

"But, why are you here?" Billy asked.

"I need your help, Billy." said Pal. "The help of you and your friends. There's trouble between the sky kingdoms. Our rainbows are missing."

"We were just wondering where the rainbow was" said Jamar. "I'll be glad to help you, Pal!" he offered.

"Me too," said Dave. "We all will!"

"But how do we get to the sky kingdoms?, asked Jamar. "We're big kids. You can't carry all three of us, can you?."

"You can use the cloud ladder." said Pal.

Dave looked around. "I don't see any..."

With a tilt of his head, Pal pointed to a giant ladder of clouds that had come rolling down from the sky above. "If you're going to help, we have no time to lose. Meet me at the top of the ladder." Pal flew up into the sky and the boys quickly began scrambling up the ladder made of clouds.

Once they reached the top, they could see a sparkling palace far in the distance. "This is great!" laughed Jamar, with a bounce. "It's like walking on pillows."

"Or marshmallows." suggested Dave.

With each step the boys bounced lightly into the air.

"Hold it right there!" came a voice from behind a column of clouds. "Who goes there?"

The boys had to look hard to see the castle guard who was speaking to them. His blue and white uniform blended so perfectly with the sky, he was almost invisible.

"Are you boys from the Stormy Cloud Kingdom?" the guard asked.

"What's a Stormy Cloud Kingdom?" asked Dave.

"You're tourists, aren't you?" sighed the guard, rolling his eyes. "We are the White Cloud Kingdom" he explained. "On the other side of the sky lies the Stormy Cloud Kingdom."

"We're not tourists. We've come to help," said Jamar. "Pal told us your rainbows were missing."

"Missing? Ha!" said the guard. "They aren't missing. They've been stolen by the Stormy Clouders! And if we don't get them back, there will never be another rainbow to shine after the rain!"

"Then we'll help you get them back," said Billy.

"Well..." said the guard. He rubbed his chin and thought for a moment. "I suppose you can try, but don't be surprised if you don't get anywhere. We've tried talking to them, asking them to give the rainbows back, but those blustery, stubborn old wind-bags blow hot and cold and think they can get away with telling us they don't even have the rainbows."

"Let us try," said Jamar, sounding confident. "Tell us how to get there."

"Very well then," said the guard. "The Stormy Cloud Kingdom lies over the horizon. You'll know you're getting close when it starts to get dark and stormy and you hear the thunder. Good luck. You'll need it."

The sun was warm and bright when they started out, but as they walked on, the clouds grew bigger and darker, and the sky began to grow stormy.

"Halt!" boomed a voice from behind a Stormy cloud. A man with flowing Stormy colored clothes holding a tall, lightning bolt for a staff stepped out in front of them. His skin was almost light blue.

"Who are you?" asked Billy.

"I am the keeper of the gates here in the Stormy Cloud Kingdom," the guard growled.

"You know," said Dave, peering closely at the guard, "If it wasn't for that beard and those clothes you've got on, you'd look an awful lot like the guard over at the White Cloud Kingdom."

"I suppose I should," the guard sniffed indignantly. "That guard is my twin brother. I'm Doug Stormy Cloud and he's Willie White Cloud. But we don't talk anymore since he took up with the folks in that kingdom. They're all the same. Bunch 'a colorless, unkind, stubborn, wispy old White Clouders," he grumbled. "Got no use for any of 'em."

"You don't talk to your own brother? Gee whiz..." Jamar sighed and shook his head. "I'd be awfully sad if I didn't get to talk to my brother. I mean, sometimes we fight and all, but we're still brothers."

"Hmmmph. Well...maybe I would like to talk to him again," said Doug Stormy Cloud. "But everyone over in the White Cloud kingdom thinks we took their rainbows, but we didn't, and no matter what we tell them - they just don't listen."

Billy thought for a minute and then spoke up, "We're here helping the White Clouders find their rainbows. Maybe if you guys helped us, you could both stop fighting and be one big happy family again."

"You folks really don't have the rainbows?" asked Dave.

"No" said Doug Stormy Cloud, shaking his head. "We really don't."

"Well then, if you don't have them," Dave said slowly, "Then who does?"

Doug Stormy Cloud looked around nervously. "I've got a bad feeling about that. I think maybe they're being held over in the Vulture Kingdom."

Dave stared off at the distant clouds as the wind blew all around him. "The Vulture Kingdom?? Oh brother. Guys, that does NOT sound good."

"No, it doesn't," agreed Jamar, "But we have to try, don't we?." "Mr. Stormy Cloud," said Jamar, "How about it? Will you show us how to get there?"

Doug Stormy Cloud took a deep breath, swallowed hard and nodded. "I think we can get in, all right," he whispered, "But we'll have to be careful." Using his staff, he drew a rough map on a nearby cloud, and showed the boys and Pal where they needed to go.

As they traveled on, craggy thunderclouds that looked like towering cliffs formed in the clouds high above the White Cloud and Stormy Cloud kingdoms. Below the cliffs, the rescuers could see the giant caves where the vultures lived. When the rescue party moved closer, they managed to see inside one of the caves. A large vulture was guarding a cave full of rainbows.

"Oh please let us go," pleaded a little rainbow. "We need to shine after the rain and we're behind schedule."

The giant vulture cackled. "You're not going anywhere, Randy Rainbow, and you'll never shine again... ever!"

At the mouth of the cave, Doug Stormy Cloud nudged Billy and Dave aside and reached into his pocket. "Thunder dust," he whispered, and he drew his arm back and let it fly. In no time, the sound of thunder echoed throughout the cave.

"Well..." the giant vulture said when he heard the thunder, "It sounds like you're going to miss another chance to shine."

Doug Stormy Cloud continued working his cloud magic, making the next bolt of thunder even louder, and following it with a sudden, blinding flash of lightning that filled the cave. It acted just like a camera's flash bulb being shot off right in front of the vulture's face.

"Aarrgh!" cried the vulture, "I can't see." He squinted and rubbed his eyes but his vision was full of nothing but giant swirling spots.

"Now!" said Dave. "Let's go!"

With one chance for success, the boys dashed silently into the cave, and quickly herded the captured rainbows right past the flash-blind vulture.

"We're free!" shouted the happy little rainbows the moment they escaped from the cave. The colors leaped and jumped and tumbled as the rainbows raced each other home.

Meanwhile, inside the cave, the vulture blinked and rubbed his eyes until all the spots were gone, but when he could see again, he realized that all of the rainbows had escaped!

"I'll get even with you!" the angry vulture howled from his dark cave.

By then however, back at the White Kingdom, the rainbows had returned to their places in the sky and filled the clouds with their bright colors.

A little while later, a crowd of White Clouders, led by the little princess of the kingdom, gathered in the castle's courtyard to celebrate the return of the rainbows.

Just as the princess stepped forward and began to welcome the rainbows back, a shadow of something really big, and really scary swept across the crowd.
It took only one terrifying moment for the giant buzzard to swoop down, grab the princess, and began to fly away.

"Oh no!" gasped Willie White Cloud, and quickly began calling for help.

The horrified crowd gasped as the vulture soared higher and higher, circling the castle with their little princess grasped tightly in his talons.

Suddenly, from somewhere in the crowd below, came a lightning bolt, hurled with such force that it stunned the vulture and caused it to release its grip on the princess.

"Help!" cried the little princess, as she tumbled through the air.

With a mighty leap, Pal sprang into the air and raced to her rescue. He soared high, then quickly dove to catch up with her. The princess was able to grab hold of Pal's long white mane, wrap her arms around his neck, and swing onto his back. Within moments, the pair had glided safely to the ground. The princess slid gracefully off Pal's back, then paused for a moment to catch her breath and straighten her skirt and crown.

"Thank goodness you're safe, Princess," sighed a relieved Willie White Cloud. "But where did that bolt of lightning come from?," he said suddenly, his worry turning to suspicion that the princess might still be in danger. "Only Stormy clouders can make lightning," he growled.

Those in the crowd began to look at each other, in search of the horrible Stormy clouder.

"Willie White Cloud suddenly grabbed hold of a bearded fellow holding a lightning staff. "Aha!" he shouted. "I've got him!"

"Your highness," he said, turning to the princess, "We found this Stormy clouder among us. I will have him removed from the kingdom immediately."

"Wait" said the little princess, holding up her hand. She looked at Willie White Cloud's prisoner and then gently touched his shoulder. "You are a Stormy clouder, aren't you?" she asked. But you're the one who threw the lightning bolt that saved my life?"

"Yes, your highness," said the prisoner.

"What's your name?" she asked gently.

"Doug Stormy Cloud," he replied.

Just then Dave stepped forward. "Saving the princess is not all he did," he said to the crowd. "It was Doug Stormy Cloud who helped us find and free the rainbows in the first place."

"Please release the prisoner," the princess said to Willie White Cloud, who was amazed to find out who his captive was.

The princess turned to Doug Stormy Cloud. "You are very, very brave," she said. "You shall have my thanks and my kingdom's highest honor. You will be awarded the White Ribbon of Courage"

"I'm honored to have helped, your highness," said Doug Stormy Cloud. The crowd roared with approval. Willie White Cloud looked at his brother Doug Stormy Cloud and realized how much his brother meant to him.

Both of them suddenly realized how sad they had been without each others friendship. Willie White Cloud shyly reached out to put his arm around his brother's shoulders and give him a giant hug. Doug Stormy Cloud hugged him right back.

Jamar walked over to the grinning brothers and slapped both them firmly on the back. "Now, that's a sight worth seeing," he announced.

"Yeah," agreed Billy. "I guess there's room for both kinds of clouds in the sky."

"Yup," said Dave. "And it looks like our work here is done."

The little princess thanked the boys for everything they had done, and then walked over to Pal. "Thanks for your help, Pal," she said, patting him gently on the nose."You and your friends are always welcome here."
After telling the cloud people goodbye, Pal followed the boys all the way home. The cloud ladder began to disappear in the soft afternoon breeze the moment the last one hopped off of it. Pal turned to the boys.

"It's good to know that I could count on you and your friends, Billy," he said. "All of you were very brave. Thank you for all your help!" And with that, he turned and leaped into the air. The boys stood quietly for several seconds, watching Pal as he flew over the roof of Billy's house and finally disappeared off into the distance. Suddenly Billy pointed at the sky and let out a whoop.

"Would you look at that!," he yelled happily. "It's a double rainbow!"

We did it!, the boys shouted excitedly, leaping into the air, and slapping each others hands.


We did it!.

The Missing Rainbow - By Gary Blake- Copyright 1999


About the Author: Gary Blake is a freelance writer from Summit Hill, PA. in the hardcoal region of northeastern Pennsylvania. He is married to Judy, a former nurse and school volunteer. He has two sons, Daniel and Patrick . Gary considers himself to be perfectly suited for writing bedtime stories as he excels at sleeping. Thus, he knows which stories keep him awake and which ones give him a good nights sleep. He writes for a company newsletter and wrote for a local weekly newspaper for 3 1/2 years. Pal, the magical horse that helped save the little princess in The Missing Rainbow, is also found in The Dream Horse at Bedtime-Story. Would you like to contact Gary Blake to tell him how much you like his stories? Write to him at : gary32@ptd.net


Interim Illustrations Courtesy of Bedtime-Story

Rainbows

Would you like to learn more about them?
WHAT'S A DOUBLE RAINBOW?
We asked Linda Engebretson, Forecaster, Meteorologist, National Weather Service
to tell us.
Also known as a secondary rainbows, a double rainbow is one that appears above another rainbow. The secondary rainbow is caused by the same thing that causes the first rainbow, which is refraction of light through water droplets. The first rainbow is caused by the light refracting once through the droplets. The second rainbow is caused by the light that gets bounced around inside the droplet and exits at a slightly different angle! Wait until a rain shower comes by, put yourself between the rain shower and the sun, and look towards the shower- you just might see one! The best time is late afternoon, when the sun is lower in the sky. I have seen as many as three rainbows all at once, what a sight!

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