It begins like this...
If you walk far enough through the small town of Crockenhall--but not too quickly--and cross the bridge by the motorway, you will come to Birchtree Woods. Travel through the white trunk trees, and at the end of the woods the fields stretch as far as a certain boy could see--if he let his imagination wonder and wander.
So it was that one day Mashu, a boy of all time, walked this path. When he came to the open fields beyond Birchtree Woods he gazed into the distance. He saw nothing that was there, but many things that were not.
With these images in his mind, that only a child of this age can paint with the brushes of thought, Mashu sat and stared at all the wonders of the field. Then, interrupting his daydreams, a sound carried across the field on a gentle breeze. It was the sound--not a noise--of bedroom slippers gliding through syrup, soapy water blown through a straw, all these and many more.
Mashu strolled over to the largest birch tree, from where the sound appeared to be coming, and slowly peeped around the trunk. There, rolling in delighted play, were the smallest children you've ever seen.
"Why are you making such funny sounds?" said Mashu without waiting for any introductions.
"To say that a sound sounds funny, sounds funny," replied one of the small children without ever stopping in their play.
"Can I join you in your game?" inquired Mashu.
"Why do you want to join us?" replied the little fellow. "Have we come unstuck?"
With that, all the tiny children stopped playing and ran to form a circle around Mashu.
"My name is Mashu and I live beyond the bridge crossing the freeway."
"We are the little tulies," replied one of the small people, "and we live to be happy and tickle our friends."
"How do people know if you are their friends?" inquired Mashu.
The little tulies took off Mashu's shoes and socks and tickled his sensitive toes.
"Now you know we are your friends," all the tulies giggled.
"Would you like to play balloon racing?" one of the tiniest tulies asked Mashu. "The winner is allowed to be last."
"I like the sound of a balloon race," said Mashu.
"A balloon race doesn't make a sound," a tulie impishly replied.
"I know that," said Mashu. "And why is the winner last?"
"He's last in the queue to be washed," they all shouted in unison. "Come on, Mashu, take a balloon and let's start the race." One of the tulies produced a large paper bag. Inside were balloons of all colors, and everyone excitedly picked their favorite.
They all went to the edge of the field and waited for the wind to blow. Then, one by one, they let their balloons float away on a rippling breeze. When the last of the balloons went scurrying into the sky, Mashu and the little tulies set off behind them.
Running though the grass and into the woods they excitedly chased the balloons, shouting encouragement to try and make them go faster and further.
Slowly the balloons came to rest on the ground. Finally there were only two left floating aloft and still in the race.