There is no cover art for this one. It is a script/book idea for a childrens educational website I did the art for, www.thewob.com. My mental image as I wrote was sort of Spielberg-like akin to the imagry of that wonderful childrens movie, ET. I have no claim on the characters as they are the property of the people who own the website. The script, however, is all my idea. Enjoy.
Opening scene: (shot in sepia)
A young boy is rescued from a Nazi concentration camp by American GI’s. He is befriended by one of them, a Lieutenant Woo. Assorted scenes show the boy being cared for and taken to an army base. During one of the scenes at the base, the boy notices a series of equations on a blackboard being argued over by a couple of civilians, their faces turned away from the camera. The equations lead through several clauses to a question mark in the lower right corner. As the civilians argue, their attention turned away from the board, the boy comes into the room and looks at the problem. He picks up a piece of chalk and writes e=mc2 under the question mark just as the lieutenant finds him. As he leaves the room the civilians notice the solution. One turns his face toward the camera, it is Albert Einstein.
Shot of a troop carrier plane taking off: Lieutenant Woo takes the boy to the US and adopts him. The boy does well in school, eventually graduating from MIT with a doctorate in several disciplines.
Shot of the University of California at Berkeley’s exterior with gradual change from sepia to color: Change to a wide hallway. Two men are walking toward each other. One dressed in an immaculate suit, tall with an olive complexion, dark, deeply shadowed eyes and heavy black brows. In his right hand is a thin executive attaché case. Monogrammed on the case in gold are the letters, Prof. A. He scowls at the other man. That man is dressed in comfortably worn tweed with a casually tied bow tie. He is short, balding with a fringe of white hair and a thick equally white moustache. Instead of an attaché case he carries a brown paper lunch bag in one hand and a binder in the other. As the two men reach the doors to their labs, the bald one smiles and nods, receiving another scowl in return. The lab doors are opened simultaneously. As the dark one enters his lab, he looks over his shoulder and says the name, “Woo,” as if it is a curse.
Inside Professor Achmed’s lab: The lights come on revealing an almost obsessively neat tableau. Three lab tables stretch in a line away from the door. The tools and instruments on each are placed in exactly the same corner and with the same exacting arrangement. Lining the left wall are cages containing various small animals. After the cages is an assortment of terrariums with amphibians and reptiles, and after that, aquariums. In the far corner of the room stands a desk with papers arranged in the same fashion as the tools on the tables. Next to the desk is a coat tree with a starched and pressed lab coat suspended from one arm. Above the desk is a large flat screen monitor. Beneath the screen is a graphics tablet, two keyboards, a numerical pad and a wireless mouse. Centered exactly beneath the screen and behind the keypads is a bronze nameplate, Professor Achmed.
Professor Achmed removes his coat and hangs it neatly onto the coat tree. As he is putting on his lab coat the door to the lab opens and a doctoral student rushes in. Achmed scowls and glances at his watch. “You are 17 seconds late,” he states in a flat tone. The assistant, a nebbish-looking young man with dark curly hair seems to shrink under the rebuke and merely nods in agreement. Achmed smiles thinly and walks across to the terrariums. He carries a clipboard and makes a note as he stops before an enclosure containing a large bullfrog. The assistant notices that many of the other specimens stop their activities and focus their attention on Achmed and the frog. He tries to say something but the professor shuts him down with a sharp command. Achmed then makes another note as he taps a couple drops of a pinkish solution into the frog’s water supply, saying, “Think of it, Mr. Bacon, if my formula is able to enhance native intelligence to the point where even an animal as stupidly basic as this frog can achieve near sentience…“, He chuckles without humor, “…my fame will erase every insult that pretender across the hall has given me.”
Bacon, the assistant attempts to say that Dr. Woo has done nothing to insult the professor, but another rebuke silences him. For punishment, Achmed puts him to work cleaning the cages with a toothbrush. As the professor turns his back on the frog its expression changes to one of clear distaste and then it sticks out its tongue.
Scene change to Doctor Woo’s lab: As Achmed’s lab is evidence of an obsessive mind, Woo’s is one of congenial chaos. Nothing is ever thrown away as it may be of use someday, but neither is it exactly catalogued. As he enters his lab, Woo tosses his sport coat onto a chair and places the paper bag onto his already burdened desk. Off to the right is a cluster of blackboards assembled in front of a top-of-the-line smart board. The smart board is being used as a hanger for several large pieces of paper with equations and diagrams of extreme complexity, one of them with the solution to Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle ending in a smiley face. On the other side of the desk is a scientific supercomputer and a triple set of flat screens, one of them a direct fiber optic link to SETI. Three framed documents hand askew on the wall above and to the right of the screens. They are Nobel certificates. Picking up a rumpled lab coat, Woo shrugs it on and then begins unpacking the paper bag. He takes out a sandwich and then an apple, placing both into the upper right hand drawer. Folding the bag, he puts it onto the top of a stack of similar bags under his desk.
Woo’s lab door opens and in comes a young woman, thin with long golden brown hair, and large glasses covering wide brown eyes. She is dressed in a light cotton shirt and blue jeans. Woo glances up at her and says, “Good morning Katherine. Could you see to Magic, please?”
At the name, “Magic”, a soft meow is heard and from behind a jungle of plant specimens pads a large longhaired pink cat with a jeweled collar. A tag hangs from the collar with the name “Magic” engraved onto it. Magic walks over to Katherine and butts her head into the girl’s shin as Katherine picks up a small pet dish and a bag of kitty food. Katherine pets Magic as she says, “I still don’t see how you could mistake a permanent dye for vitamins, Doctor. Your poor cat.”
Woo murmurs, “She doesn’t seem to mind.”
As his assistant feeds the cat, Dr. Woo talks about the task of finding the source of intelligence. “We know that it exists and we can quantify it to a certain degree, but what actually is the cause of it? That, my dear, is the puzzler. Take this device, for example,” he waves a hand toward the SETI link. “Many, including most of those dear folks in SETI, including Doctor Cabrol, consider the signals we receive through our assorted sources to be little more than random radiation akin to the static when your radio is tuned away from an active station.”
Katherine looks quizzical. “But, isn’t it?”
Woo smiles, “Ah, that is the real question, is it not? Perhaps it is nothing more than assorted bursts of various waves and particles flung out into random space by unthinking acts of nature at her vastest. But,“ he holds up a finger, “What if it isn’t and we are just not intelligent enough to understand the message?”
After that, Woo and his assistant work on a number of DNA samples, including one of DNA taken from Magic the cat. Woo compares that sample to one he himself donated, looking for similarities and contrasts. As they work, a slight change occurs in the SETI display. Only Magic notices. At supper time Woo thanks Katherine for her help, puts down some more food for Magic and then leaves the lab for the weekend. As the door closes a static charge flashes over the SETI monitor and arcs across the lab, grounding into the vial of DNA labeled “Magic”.
Scene change: Achmed’s lab. The professor slams a clipboard onto one of the tables and utters an Arabic curse. His nervous assistant stands holding a small beaker of the same pinkish solution that was put into the frog’s water earlier. Achmed shouts at the assistant, blaming him for the failure of their latest experiment. As the tirade continues and gains in volume, the lab specimens watch, some with remarkable intelligence. The bullfrog shakes his head and then looks across the lab to a cage of field mice. One of the mice nods at the frog as if in agreement.
A loud electrical sound is heard coming from across the hall. Achmed stops his rant and yanks open his laboratory door. He mutters, “What is that fool Woo up to now?” The sound dies away but just as it fades into silence a shaking jostles the glassware on the tables. Achmed stumbles and then catches himself by grabbing a counter edge. “Another damn earthquake, “ He growls.
Back in Woo’s lab the vial containing the DNA sample begins to glow an ever-brightening blue-green color. A slight hum builds and then the stopper is expelled with a soft phutt! sound. The solution, now pulsing with its own inner light, boils out of the vial as the earthquake hits and begins to expand in size. What seems to be white and light blue fur sprouts from sections of the goo.
Scene change: Achmed adjusts one of the items on his desk to his satisfaction, nods to himself and then puts on his suit coat, adjusts his tie and leaves his lab. As his door closes the frog grabs one of the rocks in its terrarium and places it onto another.
Scene change: After the weekend, Woo and Achmed repeat their cheerful/frosty greeting routine. The camera follows Woo into his lab but when the lights come on the audience sees a change in the careful chaos. A large number of the Doctor’s books are strewn across the floor. His neatly stacked paper bags are scattered, many of them crumpled and torn. Scribbles of chalk obscure some of the equations across the bottom level of the blackboards and Magic, the Doctor’s cat is perched on the highest shelf available. Katherine comes in behind Woo and exclaims, “Oh, my!”
Doctor Woo shakes his head and says, sadly, “Vandals. The quake was far too mild to do anything like this.”
Katherine, standing near the blackboards asks, “Do vandals know quantum physics?”
Intrigued, Woo goes over to her and notices the same thing she did, several of what he thought were chalk scribbles were in fact rudimentary equations in differential calculus.
Katherine asks quietly, “Do you hear something Doctor?”
He nods and moves slowly in the direction of the sound. As they get closer they hear a soft high-pitched singing. It is coming from the plant specimens, Woo’s own private jungle in pots.
Katherine stubs her toe. Looking down she notices a trail of books leading into the planters.
Woo pushes aside the intertwining branches of a ficus and some bamboo. Katherine, keeping right behind him bumps into Woo as he stops short. Woo is so transfixed by what he sees he doesn’t even notice the collision. “Why, hello my little wob, where did you come from?”
The camera swings around Katherine and Woo, passing through the plant leaves to center on a small creature with plush light blue fur on its legs, arms, back and head. The ears, hands, feet, topknot and muzzle shone a milky white. The tail tip matched the same light blue as the body. The rest of the thick, plush tail along with the belly was also milky white. The creature held in its hands one of Woo’s books on vocabulary. It turned the page as if it was actually reading. Looking up at Woo’s voice, its eyes widen and it smiles. “Pa…pa?”
Just then the door to the lab is pushed open. Professor Achmed, his face a thundercloud comes in ranting, “Woo! Those imbeciles in maintenance say that it is going to take…” Achmed’s cultured tones halt as he sees the creature and realizes that it is not a toy. “W…what is that thing and where did you find it?”
“It is not a thing Professor, it is a living creature, and, unless I am sadly mistaken, quite intelligent.” Woo’s tone holds no trace of animosity, in spite of Achmed’s attitude.
Achmed snorts, “Intelligent? That?” He laughs derisively.
The creature looks up at Achmed and says quite clearly, Imbecile.” Camera shot shows the book turned to the section containing words beginning with “I”.
Katherine sniggers, “Intelligent enough, I’d say.”
As Achmed’s face darkens in anger, Woo tch’s, “Manners Katherine. He is your superior you know.”
At Katherine’s “Yes Doctor,” Achmed’s face clears. He adjusts his tie and smiles. “Yes, I can see that. A talking animal. Remarkable; and this is not mimicry, no?”
Doctor Woo shakes his head.
“Hmm…” The professor begins pacing. “At last, intelligence beyond that of the chimpanzee…the ability to communicate with more than sign language…think of the possibilities. It will take some exploration…a biopsy of neural tissue?”
Katherine gathers the creature into her arms. It squeals happily and hugs her and then begins playing with her hair and glasses. “You will not biopsy a single hair of this…this little wob!”
Achmed sneers, “What is a wob?”
Doctor Woo shrugs, “It’s a good as name as any. She’s right, Professor, this little wob is under my protection and as the head of the department, what I say goes.”
Achmed bristles, “This is not over Doctor.”
Woo scratches the wob under its chin and says softly, “No, my dear professor, it appears to be just beginning.”
Scene change: Doctor Woo’s lab. Things have been cleaned up a bit. Much of the clutter has left the floor and several low bookcases have been added. As the camera pans around the room, we see Woo looking at something under his microscope while muttering and making notes. Katherine is holding a video camera while the wob is turning pages in a book. The camera zooms in on the wob. The book’s title is Schindler’s List. The wob’s attention leaves the pages of the book and he looks at the Doctor. The camera zooms in on Woo’s exposed wrist which holds a faded line of tattooed numbers.
Doctor Woo straightens from his stoop over the microscope and says, “Come over here, will you my little wob?”
The wob stands, somewhat unsteadily and then quickly totters over to where Woo is waiting. His gait is similar to that of a two year old human child.
Woo smiles and asks, “Would you like to see what your hair looks like in the microscope?”
The wob nods emphatically.
Doctor Woo shows the wob how to work the microscope and then steps back, taking more notes as the wob plays.
Several scenarios of the wob playing and in some cases being overly curious are shown. In a few of them the little creature endangers itself and has to be rescued. In one sequence the wob manages to almost remove the locked cover of a container of caesium metal and knocking it into a water bath. Fortunately Katherine was fast enough to catch the container and prevent the eventual explosion from happening. In another the wob discovers fire and nearly burns down the lab, earning a lecture from Doctor Woo and having to write I will not play with matches several times on the blackboard.
Scene change: Achmed at his desk, drumming his fingers on the desk top. Standing behind him is a new assistant. This one looks more dangerous than nebbish. He is three or four inches shorter than the professor but broader across the shoulders. His hair and goatee are reddish-orange. Both are cut short. His name tag reads, “MacGregor, R”.
Achmed says, “As I thought, the administration is no help. They will not even consider stepping in. It seems Woo’s three Nobels impress the committee far more than the University’s own research traditions.”
MacGregor grunts and then says, “So why don’t we take matters into our own hands? Whose going to miss one lab specimen?”
A slow smile spreads across the professor’s face as he turns to look at his assistant. “I knew there was a reason I chose you to replace that fool I had before.”
Scene change: Achmed and MacGregor wait until Doctor Woo locks up his lab and the university has shut down for the night. MacGregor picks the lock with suspicious skill and they slip into the lab. Achmed orders MacGregor not to turn on the light so that security will not be alerted. Using small flashlights they begin their search. Achmed remarks, “The thing should be easy to find. It is the size of a housecat and colored an outlandish blue.”
They comb through the lab, MacGregor being warned to do so carefully so as to leave no sign of a break-in. In one sequence, Achmed is startled when Magic uses him as a launching pad to the top shelf of a bookcase. After about an hour they give up, the professor saying that Woo must have taken the thing home with him. As the door closes and the lock snicks back into place, Magic jumps down from her shelf and pads over to Woo’s desk. She meows softly and the pile of lunch bags stirs. The wob peeks out from inside the bottom bag. A small pillow can be seen next to him. His eyes narrow and he says, “Bad mans.”
Magic answers with another meow. This one has syllables. The wob nods and says, “Mans bad to animals.”
Magic’s reply contains a purr and she walks out of the shot. The camera stays on the wob’s face, zooming in to the eyes which narrow again.
Scene change: The wob is sitting on the lab floor reading a book on locksmithing, using a reading lamp on Woo’s desk. Next to the wob is a small zippered executive style tool case with the letter W embroidered into the clover. As he reads, the wob murmurs to himself and his free hand goes through the motions of working a lock. After a bit the book is put down and the wob walks over to the lab door. Climbing up onto the counter next to the door, the wob fiddles with the latch until it releases. As the wob pulls on the latch, Magic claws at the edge of the door until it eases slightly away from the jam. Magic pushes her nose into the crack and, as the wob helps from above, forces the door open.
Scene change: The hallway is dark. The moon partially hidden behind clouds can be seen through the high windows at the hall’s end. Magic looks both ways and then runs across the hall to Achmed’s door. She sniffs at the base of the door. Looking back over her shoulder, she meows softly and the wob scampers across the hall to join her, carrying the small tool kit. They confer for a moment and then Magic stands on all fours in front of the door. The wob climbs onto her back and…swaying a bit…manages to put the lock pick into the lock. Working the lock, the wob finally gets it open. He jumps down off Magic and together they push open the door.
As they enter the professor’s lab a cacophony of sound greets them. Some of the croaks, squeals, chirps and growls seem to contain words. A banshee yowl from Magic silences the outcry.
The camera moves in tight on the various cages, terrariums and aquariums. All of the inhabitants’ attention is focused on the two would be rescuers. The wob looks around the room and says, “Oooo…” He runs to the closest cage and undoes the latch, releasing the small monkey within. The monkey joins in and rushes about releasing latch after latch along with the wob, both of them giggling as they worked. Magic turns her attention onto the terrariums, using her nearly prehensile forepaws to tip off the covers. As each cover is removed the inhabitants pour out. One of those is the large bullfrog who hops over to Magic and says quite clearly, “Thank you.” The frog’s voice is deep, resonant and slightly British. The field mouse runs over to the frog and they both join the exodus out of the lab.
The camera pans around as Magic and the wob are freeing the lab’s captives to focus on the open door. Achmed and MacGregor come into the doorway. The camera zooms in on the professor as he looks first shocked, then furious and then malevolently joyful. “You!”
He grabs his assistant by the arm and commands, “Leave the animals, you idiot! Help me capture that thing!”
Achmed and Macgregor spread out to either side of the room, their arms akimbo and advance on the wob. Magic turns and arches her back, hissing. The wob says, “Oh, oh.” He tries to scamper around the edge of the room, his thick tail spread out behind him as a balance.
MacGregor, nearest to the side of the room the wob chooses as an escape, lunges, barely missing latching onto the wob’s tail. The wob pivots quickly and dives under one of the lab’s central tables and out the other side. MacGregor curses, “Missed it!”
Achmed sneers, “Move faster then.”
Magic leaps onto the table and draws four bloody scratches across the assistant’s cheek with a lightning fast sweep of her paw. “Aaa!” He recoils backwards into an empty cage sending the cage to the floor in a tangle of arms and legs.
Achmed dances around several escaping guinea pigs and rats and blinks. One of the rats is running on two legs, carrying a supply of food pellets in its arms. A flash of light blue catches the corner of his eye and he turns, slapping down a hand just in front of the running wob. “Ah ha!”
The wob backpedals on both hands and feet and then dives beneath another table. MacGregor, still on the floor sees where the wob goes. “It’s down here. I’ve got this end!”
“Finally! Ach!” Achmed twitches aside from a swipe by a snarling Magic. “MacGregor! Cage that cat!”
The face of the professor’s assistant takes on a grim expression as he stands and reaches out for Magic. She turns, hissing and racks Macgregor’s hands and wrists with both claws as he grips the loose skin on the back of her neck. Gritting his teeth, MacGregor pivots and slams Magic into the nearest cage and closes the latch. “There,” he snarls. “Chew on that.”
The wob’s attention is distracted by Magic’s capture just long enough for the professor to snatch him out from beneath the table. The little creature tries to fight back but he has neither the claws nor the strength to do so. “He glares at Achmed, “Bad mans.”
Achmed’s smile is not nice at all, “No, scientist.” He looked across the table at MacGregor, who was tending to the various wounds inflicted upon him by the cat. “We are going to have to move to a more secure facility. The last thing I need is Woo poking his nose into my business, and you can be assured he will.”
The camera moves in on MacGregor’s face and then smoothly shifts to Magic who hisses. Macgregor asks, “Can I take the cat? I have a couple of experiments of my own I want to try.”
Achmed laughs, “Of course. That particular color of pink in a feline has intrigued me. It would be interesting to see if whatever Woo did also produced changes to its interior.”
The professor carries the struggling wob over to an empty cage near the door and tosses him inside. Unseen by the professor, the wob notices the small tool kit and snatches it just as he is caged.
Magic releases a wail as the wob is thrown into the cage. The wob calls out to Magic and then both cages are covered by lab cloths.
Scene change: The wob and Magic’s cages are loaded into the back of a minivan. Achmed directs MacGregor to the driver’s side as he opens the passenger door. In the background can be seen the silhouette of the university and the landscape around it. Behind that is a view of San Francisco Bay and the city it is named after. The van’s lights come on and it drives off toward the hills beyond Berkeley.
Achmed directs MacGregor east until they reach highway 680 and then south toward the far end of Mount Diablo State Park. “I have a place beyond the country club. It is quite and no one will bother our work.”
MacGregor massages his bandaged wrist and chuckles.
Scene change: In the back of the van the two cages sit unsecured. Each time the van goes around a tight corner the cages slide. Inside the wob’s cage the wob hangs on to the bars as his cage slides once again. He hears Magic’s uncomfortable wail and calls out to her, “Magic! Magic!” Tears drip from his eyes.
Magic answers with a question-filled meow.
The wob replies, “Ok, not hurt. Mad though.”
Magic meows another question.
The wob answers, “Soon Magic, soon.” He picks up the tool kit and unzips the seal. Removing a small tool with a blunted hook on its end he reaches through the bars of the cage and feels around the lock with his free hand. Finding what he wants, he reaches through the bars with the hand holding the tool. He starts working the lock when the van lurches and he falls back against the bars of the cage. The tool he was holding drops to the bed of the van and slides out of his reach. The van tilts as it begins a steep uphill climb and the tool slides farther away. The wob cries out in frustration.
The cry is answered by a low redeep. A tiny green hand reaches under the cage’s cover. A broad green snout follows. It is the bullfrog from the professor’s lab.
“Here you are, my blue friend,” the frog says.
The wob takes the lock pick and stares at the frog. “Frog?” He asks.
“Bull frog,” is the reply, Belvedere Bullfrog, at your service. I followed to see if I could be of aid, a favor for a favor you may say. Now, I suggest you open this lock and rescue your feline friend.”
Magic echoes the sentiment.
The wob uses his borrowed tool and opens the lock. Shortly after that both cages are empty and the three friends look at the interior of the back of the minivan. The driver’s compartment is blocked off from the back by a sheet metal wall. The two side walls are also solid, as is the rear door. A spare tire sits affixed to the left side wall near the door. Other than that and the two cages the back of the van is unadorned.
Belvedere remarks. “Well, it appears that we are in a pickle.”
Scene change: Outside the university hall the landscape is quiet. Nothing moves across the lawns, through the trees or rustles the bushes. Overhead the setting moon sends long shadows that do little more than add to the silence.
The camera moves across the lawn to the hall’s front door and then into the foyer. It travels past the foyer, around the corner and into the hallway that leads to Woo and Achmed’s labs. It moves down the hallway, slowing until it reaches the juncture of the two facing doors. The closed door to the professor’s lab is seen at the far right of the shot as the camera pans around to center on the open door of Doctor Woo’s lab. The lights are off but the moonlight is enough to show that the lab is filled with Achmed’s escaped specimens.
Scene change: The camera shows the view from the minivan’s cab as it pulls off the road and onto an unpaved driveway. The driveway curves to the left and up a slow tree-lined grade partially blocked by a brush-covered outcropping. As the van clears the outcropping, a large log home can be seen built into the hillside. Beyond the hill looms the peak of Mount Diablo. A circular drive-through cuts through the lush landscaping in front of the home.
Achmed directs MacGregor to pull up into the drive-through. “You collect the cages while I unlock the door.”
“Gottcha. I can’t wait to get my hands onto that cat.” MacGregor gloats.
Scene change: Inside the back of the minivan the wob and Belvedere sit on either side of Magic the cat facing the back door.
Belvedere says, “We’ve stopped. That means the professor and his dislikable friend will soon be opening this door. I propose that we use that opening as an opportunity to make good our escape.”
The wob nods, “Good.”
Belvedere croaks and then says, “Very well. Gentlemen,” he pauses and then coughs at Magic’s meow of protest, “And ladies, prepare yourselves.”
Scene change: Achmed puts his key into the front door’s lock as MacGregor grabs the latch on the back of the minivan and pulls it upward. MacGregor was not prepared to have his face receive the same treatment his wrists had back at the lab. Magic launches herself at the assistant as the door lifted, rakes her hind claws into his chest and her fore claws into each cheek as she leaps over him and onto the driveway. A light blue blur goes around him with what appears to be a frog perched on its back.
MacGregor yells out, “Professor! They’re escaping!”
“What?” Achmed comes running. “Well don’t just stand there gaping, fool, catch them!”
MacGregor has no chance. In addition to the blood in his eyes hampering his vision, he is no match for the speed of either the cat or the wob.
The professor reaches his assistant as the three companions are vanishing into the landscaping.
“Why didn’t you stop them?” Achmed rounds on MacGregor.
MacGregor, angry and frustrated enough to not care shouts back, “Because I had no help! …professor.” The last word is uttered as an insult.
MacGregor turns away and wipes the blood from his face.
Achmed stares at his assistant’s back like a man staring at a family pet that turned rabid.
Scene change: The wob, Magic and Belvedere slow their escape and then stop. They are on a log lying in a small clearing surrounded by oak trees and brush. The eastern sky before them is just beginning to turn red.
Magic looks over her shoulder and meows softly.
The wob nods, “Safe, now.”
“Indeed,” Belvedere adds.
The camera pulls away, expanding the scene. The three companions become silhouettes against the rising sun and their tiny size against the park’s expanse makes them appear utterly insignificant.
Scene change: The camera follows Doctor Woo coming onto campus early. He crosses the lawn fronting the research facility and enters the foyer.
A security guard greets him, “Hi Doc. You forgot to lock up your lab again. Nothing looked disturbed so I did it for ya.”
Woo thanks the guard and continues on down the hall to his lab. As the guard said, the door was closed and secure. Woo notices nothing as he goes about his typical morning routine, not noticing the numerous animal, reptile and amphibian eyes watching him from their hiding places.
Katherine comes in and greets the Doctor cheerily, “Good morning Doctor. It is beautiful out there. Is the wob still asleep?”
Doctor Woo looks up from his notes, “What? Oh, good morning my dear. I don’t know, I haven’t checked. The readings on that blue residue are fascinating. You know, I think that…”
The doctor’s sentence is cut off by his assistant’s squeal of surprise. “Doctor! There are animals in here!”
Scene change: Time moves ahead to show Doctor Woo and Katherine surrounded by Professor Achmed’s escaped specimens. The field mouse is perched on a shelf, placing its eyes nearly level with those of the doctor. Its voice is high and nearly unintelligible. Doctor Woo nods as the mouse speaks.
When it is done he leans back and looks at Katherine. “Well, it appears that Achmed’s experiment bore some fruit after all.”
She raises her hands in exasperation. “What about the wob?” In her lap is the wob’s favorite sack and the tiny pillow.
Woo’s eyes widen and he turns back to animals facing him. “Yes, indeed. Do any of you know where my little blue friend is? What happened to him?”
A rhesus monkey comes forward and sits on the doctor’s desk. It picks up a pencil and draws a fairly good representation of the professor.
Katherine watches from her place behind the doctor. As she recognizes the forming portrait she grinds her teeth. “That dirty, self-absorbed, double-dealing…”
Woo holds up a hand, his shirt sleeve pulls back revealing the concentration camp tattoo. “There will be time for recriminations later, Katherine. Right now we have a search to put together. What do we really know about Achmed and where would he take my little blue friend?”
Scene change: The three companions are asleep. The wob’s head is pillowed into the fur of Magic’s back. Belvedere is snuggled into the plush white fur of the wob’s belly. The little creature’s tail is across the frog, forming a very effective comforter. As the camera pans around it shows a potential danger creeping up upon them: a bobcat.
The perspective changes to that of the predator as it slowly moves closer to its prey. The sound of Magic’s sleeping purr can be heard along with the wobs high-pitched snore. The large cat moves a step closer.
Scene change: One of the wob’s eyes opens and he sees the bob cat. “Hello,” he says quietly so as to not wake his friends.
Magic stirs and then settles deeper into her sleep.
Belvedere snorts a snore and then opens one eye. His reaction to the large cat is not one of friendly curiosity. “My heavens!” He exclaims, “A ravening beast!” He leaps upwards, reaches out and grabs onto the oak branch above them. “Help! Murder! Flee, flee for your lives!”
The frog’s uproar both startles the bobcat and wakens Magic who instantly puffs and arches her back. Her hiss becomes a banshee war cry.
The wob is confused by all the commotion. As far as he knows he is only greeting one more friendly animal just like all those he rescued in the bad man’s lab.
Belvedere plucks loose an acorn; to him it is basketball-sized, and flings it at the bobcat. The acorn bounces off the large cat’s head. It utters an annoyed cry and looks up.
Magic advances on the bobcat, it is easily twice her size, her war cry unceasing.
The wob asks plaintively, “Not a friend?”
“Of course it’s no friend,” Belvedere yells out, pitching acorn after acorn at the bobcat, “It a bloody predator. Throw something at it before it has you for breakfast!”
The wob’s eyes narrow, “Bad kitty?”
“Yes, a very bad kitty! Now throw something you blue git!”
The wob bends and picks up a stone. His throw is much harder and far more accurate than Belvedere’s tosses.
The stone slaps painfully onto the point of the bobcat’s nose. Already uncertain from the aggression of Magic and the rain of acorns from Belvedere, the sting of the rock on its nose is enough to send it running off in the opposite direction, which it does with a frustrated wail.
As Belvedere cheers, Magic settles on her haunches and begins washing her face. The wob watches the bobcat vanish into the brush and then turns to Magic. “I’m hungry.”
Belvedere snatches a bug off a leaf and chews. “There’s food all around us, if you look.”
The wob makes a face. “Bugs?”
Magic meows and points into the brush.
The wob shakes his head. “No mice. Don’t eat friends.”
Belvedere hops down from the tree. “Well then, what do you eat?”
Scene change: Belvedere and Magic watch as the wob forages in a large blackberry thicket. When the wob emerges from the thicket the white fur on his muzzle and his hands is stained a reddish purple.
Magic says something critical.
Belvedere nods. “Colorful indeed.”
The wob licks a finger and asked, “We go home now?”
Magic looks at the bullfrog and murmurs.
Belvedere draws himself up and looks around, “I’ll be dashed if I have any idea where we are. I propose finding a high spot and taking a look.”
The camera follows the companions as they work their way up the slope of Mount Diablo. Along the way they attract the attention of a couple of other predators- a coyote, which they manage to escape by joining a very nervous rabbit in its blackberry thicket- and a small, fat black bear whom they simply out run. Other animal encounters include a couple of raccoons who, though interested in the potential lunch embodied in Belvedere, are not willing to tackle the bullfrog’s boon companions.
Night overtakes them before they reach the summit and find shelter in a small snug cave hidden behind a large boulder being overgrown by grasses and wildflowers.
Magic, desperately hungry, goes out to find some food while Belvedere explains that, being a cat she has no choice but to eat what she needs, even if others may find the reality uncomfortable. As he talks, he dines on some more of the small flying insects that come out at night.
Scene change: Katherine shows some documents to Doctor Woo and the university president. She points to one sheet filled with columns of numbers. “These figures seem to indicate several requisitions for laboratory equipment, but the equipment was never delivered even though the orders show that they’ve been paid in full.”
The president looks at Woo’s assistant down the bridge of his nose. “Am I hearing you correctly? Is a doctoral student accusing a tenured professor of…embezzlement?”
No, Doctor Lucas, the data is,” Woo’s quiet assessment rocks the university president to his knees. Before he can recover, Woo continues, “And to compound his infraction, my colleague also broke into my laboratory in an attempt to steal some particularly important…data.”
Katherine winces at the word “data” and then ads, “In addition to that Doctor Lucas, since the data is connected to our SETI research…”
Lucas finishes for her, misery in every syllable, “…the federal government is involved.”
“Which means that it is imperative that we recover this…data before Professor Achmed has a chance to damage it,” Doctor Woo states. “
Katherine leans on the president’s desk and smiles widely, “Now Doctor Lucas, about that address…”
Scene change: Achmed and MacGregor are searching for some sign of the escape route taken by the wob and his friends. They find nothing and finally too tired to continue they sit down on the steps of the professor’s large back deck.
Achmed speaks as if he is mourning a personal loss, “A fortune, a possible Nobel prize. I had it right in my hands and it’s gone.”
“Yeah, well I say good riddance.” MacGregor’s face has taken on an ugly look. Some of the scratches he suffered at Magic’s claws have become infected.
Achmed’s eyes widen at his assistance’s utterance, but he says nothing.
Scene change: Katherine and Doctor Woo are being driven out to Professor Achmed’s house by a couple of the university’s police. The one sitting in the front passenger seat is the guard who greeted Woo that morning in the research facility’s foyer. He turns around and nods to the doctor.
“So Doc, we hear you got evidence the professor’s been scamming the university. Is that right?”
Woo nods, “There is evidence of potential malfeasance, yes.”
The guard shakes his head, “A thief an’ a pervert, whodda thought.”
Katherine stifles a laugh.
Woo smiles. “I would appreciate your discretion on this matter, Gerald.”
The guard gives him a thumb’s up. “For you Doc, anything.”
Scene change: The camera comes in close onto the entrance of the small cave as the sunlight advances enough to shine on Magic’s face. She rubs her eyes with a paw and then opens them. Looking behind her she meows to wake up Belvedere and the wob.
The camera follows her gaze and delves deeper into the cave. The wob is curled onto his side, the berry stains still visible. Belvedere is at his accustomed sleeping spot against the wob’s belly with the tail pulled over him.
Magic’s meow is repeated, this time louder. Both the wob and Belvedere stir.
“I say, is it time for kippers already?” Belvedere sits up and yawns hugely.
The wob yawns also. “Hungry again,” he says and gets up.
“Not me,” Belvedere replies, “Some of those moths last night were large enough to save as leftovers.”
The wob makes a face, “Eww…”
Belvedere shrugs, “To each his own. I am decidedly thirsty, however.”
Magic agrees and so does the wob.
They search for water but find nothing more than a few drops of dew on the leaves. Though somewhat refreshing, it is far from sufficient. Belvedere suggests they continue to the summit since it will give them a better vantage point from which to look.
Magic notices a path worn into the ground cover and they follow it upwards as it curves around and finally, facing west, they reach the summit of Mount Diablo.
Before them stretches the vista of the northern San Francisco Bay. To the far distant right is the rounded bulk of Mount Tamalpais pushing up through a fog bank with the red splendor of the Golden Gate Bridge being caressed by tendrils of fog. To the left is San Francisco itself with the bay just below the city. Closer in are the lights of the northern east bay communities, Oakland, Berkeley, and closer in, Walnut Creek.
Belvedere points, “See those lights? They mean people and people is where you’ll find your home.”
The camera focuses briefly on the lights of Berkeley and then swings around to the wob’s face. It zooms in on him as his eyes widen and he says, wistfully, “Home.”
“Water!” Belvedere hops up and down excitedly, pointing below them. “Oh, wonderful, wonderful water; I can almost feel its liquid embrace.”
Magic looks at the frog with a cautious expression.
The wob licks his lips. “Thirsty.”
“Well then,” Belvedere says, “Let’s not just stand here gaping. Let’s climb down.”
The camera swing downward showing a sheer rocky cliff with sporadically protruding roots here and there. At the bottom of the cliff is a spring coming from the rock and emptying into a small pool that feeds a creek. The creek flows downward into the brush below. Further down slope can been seen glimpses of the creek widening as it continues onward toward the feet of the mountain.
All of them feeling thirst, the companions look for the best route to the water below. The way is steep, and the loose rocks make for a hazardous downward climb. Magic, being the surest afoot, goes ahead of the other two, picking out a zigzag route that takes them steadily closer to the water.
Roughly a third of the way down the cliff the rock Magic steps onto slips, sending her tumbling down the slope. She reaches out desperately with a claw and just snags a protruding root. She stops her fall, but there is nothing within reach for her to pull herself to safety.
The wob cries out, “Magic!” at the same time Magic releases a terrified wail.
Belvedere calls out, “Hold on missy! We’ll get to you.” He turns to the wob and asks, “How do we get to her?”
The wob paces frantically back and forth, an uneasy sense of panic rising up in his belly.
Magic wails again, pleading for help.
Something else grows in the wob, pushing aside the panic and the fear for his friend. He hears Doctor Woo in his head telling him to think the problem through and to consider his options before acting. Don’t give into fear. Think, my little wob, think and then act, act wisely.
Belvedere hops from foot to foot. “What are you playing at? Don’t just stand there looking at her, do something.”
The wob looks at the root to which Magic is clinging. She holds on to it with all four sets of claws, every one of her hairs standing on end making her look like a pink puffball. Other roots extrude from the cliff face but none is close enough for her to reach. The wob looks again and then notices something about the roots off to the right of Magic. There is a ledge that leads to what looks like a usable path down to the water. If he could only get Magic over to that one root there…
“Are you bleeding daft? “ Belvedere shouts at the wob as he climbs over the edge of the cliff face and reaches out for the closest root. “Oh, I see. Good plan, good plan.”
Belvedere continues to offer loud, verbose encouragement as the wob climbs onto the end of the root and begins to swing back and forth. His swings widen to the point where he can reach out and touch Magic with his tail.
At the first touch of the wob’s tail Magic nearly falls from being startled. She quickly figures outs what the wob is attempting and tries to grab hold on the next touch. It takes a couple of tries but she does succeed.
Swinging from the wob’s tail Magic reaches out with one paw and snags the next root. From that point it is a simple matter of going from root to root to ledge.
The wob signals Belvedere to shinny down the root to his head and together they use the roots to reach the ledge next to Magic.
Scene change: The university car pulls up in front of Professor Achmed’s house next to the minivan. The back of the minivan is still open showing the empty cages. Cautioning Doctor Woo and his assistant to remain at the car, the two officers approach the front door and knock. Achmed answers. A scowling MacGregor can be seen behind him.
After an animated but brief unheard conversation, Achmed and MacGregor accompany the two officers back to the car.
As he nears Woo and Katherine, Achmed smiles his sneering smile. “Doctor Woo, how good of you and your…assistant to visit my humble home.”
Katherine bristles at the implied slur and clenches her fists. “Why, you…!”
Her retort is cut off by a touch of Woo’s hand on her arm. “This is not a visit, Michael. You have done something very wrong and you need to make it right.”
“Are we on a first name basis now, David, or should I pronounce it…Da-veed?” Achmed’s sneer broadens.
Katherine glances between the two men, sensing something much deeper than the professor’s kidnapping of the wob.
Woo shakes his head. “No, not really. The pity I am feeling is for the loss of great potential, Michael and for the fact that I can no longer in good conscience call you by the title you have thrown away, Professor.”
Achmed’s sneer vanishes, replaced by a sudden look of fury. His face darkens and the tendons on his neck stand out. He lunges at Woo only to be grabbed and held in place by the two officers. In the background, MacGregor feels the enflamed scratches on his cheek, expressionless.
Achmed rages at Woo, accusing him of using his race and his position to keep him (Achmed down). He cries that those Nobel prizes should have been his − would have been his if the committee had not been full of Jews.
One of the officers, Gerald, snaps handcuffs onto Achmed’s wrists, binding his hands behind his back and the two of them put the still raging professor into the back of the car.
Gerald comes up to Doctor Woo after closing the car door. “The guy’s certifiable Doc. I don’t think it’s safe for you to drive back with us. What about that?” He points at the minivan.
Woo looks at Achmed, still mouthing imprecations, but less violently from within the backseat of the car and shakes his head. “I believe we will be all right Gerald, as long as the keys are with the vehicle.”
The guard nods, “Yeah, good point Doc. Hey, you!” He says to MacGregor, “You got the keys to that van?”
MacGregor nods and pulls them out of his pocket, dropping the keys into the guard’s outstretched palm.
Gerald gives the keys to Woo. “Here ya go Doc. Come on you.” He takes MacGregor by the arm.
Doctor Woo stops him. “May I have a moment with this man, Gerald?”
The guard looks at MacGregor with a raised eyebrow and then shrugs, “Yeah, sure Doc. Sure.” He back away a few paces.
Woo turns to face MacGregor and examines the man’s face. “Those scratches are infected.”
MacGregor replies sullenly, “Yeah.”
“You received them from a cat with an unusual color of fur,” Woo states, plucking a long pink hair from MacGregor’s coat and showing it to him. His expression hardens, “Where…are…they?”
Scene change: The wob, Magic and Belvedere have made it down the narrow path to the headwaters of Diablo Creek. Belvedere is swimming joyfully and exhorting his two companions to join him.
Magic sniffs disdainfully and sits down to wash herself.
The wob dips a foot into the water and splashes a bit. Finding it fun, he wades further in. The water is not deep, only coming up to his hips.
Belvedere, thrilled at the circumstance of having a watery playmate, kicks a small spray of water into the wob’s face.
Giggling, the wob joins wholeheartedly into the play and the two friends splash away happily for several moments. The berry stains wash off the wob’s fur.
As the splashing and giggling subside Magic’s ears twitch and she turns, a low growl forming in her throat.
The brush behind her, on the northern side of the creek, rustles as a flash of yellow-orange moves in the leaves. Magic growls again and moves to put herself between the brush and the pond. The yellow-orange moves again and a large male orange tabby cat comes into the small clearing. He looks at Magic and then at the tow companions behind her.
The camera backs away, moving to an overhead view of the scene, holding there for a moment showing the tabby with Magic between him and the pond. The wob is in the center of the pond with Belvedere behind him.
The view point changes to a standard shot of the cat looking at Magic. Her growl is lower and more of a question. The tabby replies, no animosity in his meow. Magic answers and the slight puff of her fur subsides.
The tabby walks over to Magic and sniffs her. She turns her head and meows at the wob and Belvedere.
The wob says to Belvedere as he wades through the water toward the bank, “A new friend. Magic found a new friend.”
Belvedere replies, “Am I imagining things or are you speaking more clearly?”
The wob nods. “Learning; I listen to you.”
Belvedere stops, floating. “Well I’ll be dashed.”
Back on the bank Magic and the feral cat are having a conversation and at the end of it Magic arches her back and rubs against the other cat, purring.
Belvedere spots a mayfly and catches it with his tongue. Chewing, he asks, There’s my snack. What are you two going to eat?”
Magic asks a question of the other cat. He looks at the wob and the frog for a second and then begins padding down the bank of the creek. Looking over his shoulder he meows what is unmistakably a command to follow.
The cat leads the companions down the mountain side, following the creek as it cuts its way through the brush, slowly widening until the brush is replaced by larger and larger trees.
The wob is fascinated by the wonders of nature and the camera shows the various expressions in his face and eyes as he experiences new thing after new thing.
Eventually they reach a spot where the tabby stops and meows something to Magic. She walks over to the now much wider and slower creek. The bank is quite shallow and in the clear water can bee seen minnows. Demonstrating, the cat reaches out with a lightening swipe of his paw and flicks a minnow onto the bank. He meows at Magic and she immediately gobbles up the treat.
The wob asks, “Are fish good to eat?”
Magic answers with a satisfied full-mouth mmrrpp!
The wob attempts to duplicate the tabby’s feat but only manages to get himself wet.
Magic comes over to the bank and neatly flips a minnow onto the bank in front of the wob. He picks it up by the tail and looks at it closely. “Good to eat?” he asks skeptically.
Belvedere laughs, “Go ahead, try it mate. Of course, I like bugs.”
The wob shrugs and pops the minnow into his mouth and chews. His eyes widen, “Good.”
Magic and the tabby nod.
Belvedere elates, “Hurrah! Let’s eat!”
Scene change: Woo is talking to Katherine as they stand next to the minivan. The university car is gone along with Achmed, MacGregor and the officers. The shot shows Woo and Katherine standing at the back of the van with the house and the peak of the mountain behind them. It zooms and the conversation is heard,
“So the wob and Magic escaped that way,” Woo says, pointing toward the landscaping to the left of the steps leading to the house’s front door.
“They are probably lost, hungry and frightened,” Katherine says. “The park is filled with wild life, a lot of it dangerous.”
Woo looks from the peak to his assistant and says gently, “Bobcats and raccoons aren’t dangerous my dear.”
“They are if you’re the size of Magic and the wob,” she retorts.
Woo makes a grimace of acknowledgment, “Uh hmm!”
“How are we going to find them?” Katherine wails.
Woo thinks. “They are in a state park. That means there are both trails and people. That also means we have an additional resource − rangers. They will know where the trails are and if we give them a description of our two lost friends…”
“…we will be locked away in a secure facility for our own good,” Katherine finishes. “I can just see their reaction when we describe a couple of creatures with the coloring of a children’s fantasy toy wandering around in their park. And we can compound it by telling them the electric blue one can talk!”
“I see your point, Katherine,” Woo demurs. “Perhaps we should approach this a bit more cautiously.”
Katherine crosses her arms and purses her lips. “I’m just saying.”
“Well then,” Woo says, a distant look coming into his eyes, “What would I do if I were the wob?”
Scene change: The wob and his companions continue to follow the creek as it winds its way down the mountain. The sun moves across the sky and they soon find themselves traveling in the fading light of dusk. The orange tabby leads them up a large oak tree to a secure perch well above the ground. As they reach the shelter of the branches it begins to rain.
The wob and Belvedere talk about the rain and what it does and what it is good for. Magic and her new friend huddle against the trunk, doing their best to avoid the drops.
The camera pulls away as the wob and Belvedere continue to talk and the dusk continues to deepen. The scene ends with a fade-out of the tree silhouetted against the rain.
The next morning the tabby leads the companions out of the foothills and into an area where the creek winds its way into a series of broad sculptured lawns. They have entered the far corner of the Diablo Creek Golf Course.
Belvedere hops onto Magic’s back and points “Look! People!”
A golf cart holding a couple of garishly dressed middle-aged men drives past the cattail cluster the four hide behind. The orange tabby is becoming increasingly nervous. He meows at Magic and she answers.
Belvedere looks surprised. “Of course you’re coming with us mate. You’re family now.” He looks at Magic, “Isn’t he?”
She meows again.
The tabby answers and takes a step backwards.
The wob walks up to him and says, “We will protect you.”
Belvedere hops off of Magic’s back and says, “Sure, the professor was a horrible git, but look at your Doctor Woo. He’s nice, isn’t he?”
Another golf cart whirrs by and the tabby crouches in fear. As he regains his composure magic begins an extended series of meows.
Belvedere nods. “You’re right lass. Some things just can’t be helped.”
“Woo!” The wob cries out and he begins to jump up and down waving his arms. “Woo! Woo!”
A third golf cart is approaching. In it are Doctor Woo and Katherine. Katherine spots the wob and points, a broad smile brightening her face.
The wob turns to tell his companions and notices his new friend is gone. Magic’s expression is one combining both resignation and joy at being found.
Belvedere sighs, “He had no choice, my big blue friend. Some fears need more time to overcome.”
The cart stops and Katherine and Woo hurry down to the creek bank. “Are you all right?” Woo calls out.
The wob replies, “We’re fine, Doctor. It was fun.”
Woo turns to Katherine, “Did you hear that? An exponential increase in vocabulary − fascinating!” He walks forward.
Katherine cries, “Doctor, the creek!” She points to the creek that runs between where they stand and the wob and his companions stand.
The Doctor stops and looks at the water. It is still and colored a murky brownish grey-green. “Hmm, yes. A bit too deep to wade comfortably, I imagine. You wait right there, ok? We will come around and get you.”
The wob nodded. “Ok. We wait.”
Woo beams. “Marvelous!”
The doctor and Katherine get back into the cart and drive back to a small bridge that crosses the creek. They hurry along, hugging the bank until they reach the place where the wob, Magic and Belvedere are waiting. Katherine gathers the wob up into her arms and hugs him, covering his face with kisses. Magic jumps up into the doctors arms, purring loud enough to be heard.
Belvedere calls out, “Hey, what about me?”
Katherine looks down at where the voice came from. Her eyes widen as she realizes she is looking at a large green frog standing on its hind legs and waving up at her. “…D…doctor…” she stammers.
“What is it, my dear…oh my, what do we have here?” Woo bent down, placing the wob onto the ground and knelt to look more closely at Belvedere. “Why hello there, my little friend.”
Belvedere bowed at the waist. “Good day to you, my good man. Belvedere the bullfrog, at your service.”
“Bullfrog?” Woo repeated. “Where did you get that idea? You are most certainly a remarkable creature, but you are definitely not a bullfrog.”
Belvedere sputtered, “B…b…but I must be. My size, my voice, my incredible good looks!”
Woo’s laugh mixed with Katherine’s, “My dear Belvedere. You are a wonderfully magnificent example of Rana temporaria, the common frog. Your kind is very prevalent throughout the British Isles. I imagine your size also has the same genesis as your intellect.”
“Achmed’s pink goop,” Katherine ground out.
Belvedere drew himself up in outrage. “Common? Common?” His voice climbed up through the registers.
The wob tapped the agitated Belvedere on the shoulder with a fingertip.
“What!?” Still outraged, Belvedere spun around to look up at his furry blue friend.
“You’re not common to me,” the wob said.
Belvedere seemed to shrink in on himself. He sat down on his haunches, his knees above the level of his bowed head. “I thought I was a bullfrog,” he said dismally. “I thought I was the king of the pond.”
“Come home with me, little one,” Woo said, gently picking up Belvedere and carrying him over to the golf cart.
Katherine climbed into the driver’s seat as Magic jumped lithely up into the back. The wob climbed up onto Doctor Woo’s lap and the cart whirred off back the way it came.
Doctor woo continued to talk to the frog as Katherine drove. “Sometimes we are disappointed by the rougher realities of existence, but if we look there is always a lesson to be learned, even in the darkest of times.”
The cart drives off toward the horizon, becoming smaller and smaller against the background.
Belvedere answers Doctor Woo, “Even when we learn we are common?”
The wob joins in, “Not common to me.”
Written by Robert Lee Beers for Rozz Goly, President of World Of Babies