The Donkeys

by Sophie Rinzler
The Donkeys Sophie Rinzler is eleven years old, likes to write, and has been a Writopian since 2017. She likes to read mystery and adventure, and would like to write in those areas as well. Her story, THE DONKEYS is her first submission to The Parenthetical.

“The donkeys wait at the side of the road. One Westerly Hill Close. A dead end. No one has traveled down there for years until the doctor. The Doctor. The one. The ruler that changed everything.”

The donkeys wait at the side of the road. One Westerly Hill Close. A dead end. No one has traveled down there for years until the doctor. The Doctor. The one. The ruler that changed everything.

 

The donkeys watched when he arrived. They didn’t know. They anticipated fear. Of themselves, of course. The traveler was just a lone man. He would survive. Maybe.

The donkeys didn’t know that he would survive, of course. They had no way of changing the course of nature. No cures could be invented, for the donkeys were just billboards, after all, advertising houses that would never be sold. However, what made them the donkeys, and not signs, was that they were sentient, and that is why the Doctor came. To cure them.

He had heard the rumors. That the donkeys enticed people through mesmerization and broke them mentally. There was only one rumor, of a young lad on a dare who never came back, but it was enough. Shattered. Mentally. Forever. That’s how those unfortunate souls were until their death.

He wanted to fix the donkeys, being the good doctor he believed himself to be.

At the tender age of twenty-one, he was already in medical school. He thought he knew what to do. The Doctor believed himself superior to all of his peers, skipping classes and refusing to take exams, saying he wanted to give the other students a fair shot. But if he had taken his classes, the fate that lay ahead of him at this moment would have had a chance of being averted.

The donkeys sensed his approach. From afar they knew he would be arriving soon. After conversing amongst themselves, they agreed to let him upon them. It’s not like they had much choice; they had no way of stopping him from coming. But making it sound like they were deciding to let him made the donkeys feel more confident.

The doctor edged upon them, noting their larger than life flanks and all of the grime and dirt covering the billboard (no wonder people weren’t buying those houses!). From the side of his long, white jacket, he drew his lethal weapon: a bar of soap.

The donkeys were in shock. He scrubbed and scrubbed the donkeys until you could see every speck of shine on them.

The donkeys were not used to this sensation of godliness and cleanliness. It felt pleasant, but almost as if they were bare. Vulnerable. This contrasted greatly to the mud balls they were used to, thrown by the schoolboys every Tuesday and Thursday, though the donkeys didn’t seem to find a pattern in the days that those muddy splotches were fired.

But the Doctor, being his cocky self, forgot to put on gloves when applying the “treatment.” That was his biggest mistake.

The donkeys, meanwhile, were in awe of this role that a person could play in helping the lives of others.

They wanted more. More of it. All of it. Soap. More.

Slowly, they started creaking. Back and forth. Back and forth.

If anyone were listening closely to the sounds they made, they could make out the word “soap” being chanted over and over again. But the doctor wasn’t paying any attention to them. He was staring at his hands, which were turning green.

The donkeys knew what was happening to the Doctor, but they couldn’t stop it. The real criminal was Microbial Mat, or Mat for short. He had driven the first man to see them in years, the one that the original rumor was about, insane, and now he was doing it again.

They wanted that soap bad, though, and the Doctor for sure was going to be the one that gave it to them.

The green hands were stage one, the donkeys recalled from last time. Stone hard knuckles happened around stage two, and mind brokenness was stage three, the final stage.

The doctor was freaking. He had never seen anything like this in all of his life. Why in the world this was happening, he had no idea. And then, when stage two rolled around, his hands drooped down to his sides, and he couldn’t pick them up.

The donkeys started to worry. This clean man had the soap that would make them all shiny and new. They could not let this opportunity slip away.

They creaked. Louder and louder. But alas, the man had slipped into insanity and was now walking to the highway.

The poor Doctor was never sighted by the public again. Alive.

 

The donkeys slowly stopped their chorus of creaks. The doctor had wandered away a while ago, and they felt almost certain that there were more stages, much worse stages, that they were unaware of.

They then focused on the new prize laying on the ground, a bar of soap that had fallen out of the man in the white coat.

The donkeys wanted that soap. They needed to feel cleaner and fresher, unlike the old, dirty selves they were moments before.

They needed that soap. Unfortunately, he soap they had on them had since been flung mistakenly. Wasted.

They tried. But alas, it was too far away for even the longest elder to take a whack at.

For time and time they tried. Their life had this purpose now. To be clean. To feel clean. But they needed more soap.

Day turned into night and night into day, and so on time went. It meant nothing to the donkeys. It never had. All that mattered in life was soap. Soap, and nothing else.

 

It was twilight and months later when their pleas were finally heard.

A stray mudball hit the soap exactly right so that it flew into the air, landing right at the donkeys’ leader’s figurative feet. Huzzah! was the word of the year while this feat, miraculous for all witnessing, happened. However, there was a small issue. No one could use the soap.

It lay on the ground. The soap had melted and reformed with the seasons, and it was now partially made up of sticks and mud. And Microbial Mat, of course, though the donkeys were unaware of that small matter.

There was nothing, once again, that any one of the donkeys could do. So simple, to pick up the filthy but clean morsel, yet none of them could.

On the five hundred and seventy-second day of waiting, just out of reach from the soap, the donkeys made a new note: the skies were full of birds migrating. One of those birds could come down and steal their precious soap!

They conversed about what they could possibly do, but no suggestions were made. Therefore, when a bird swooped down and plucked the soap from the grassy area, the donkeys just stayed still. No objections.

 

The bird later on would fly to a worldwide famous animal hospital in LA while it was migrating, where it would go crazy of a mental illness and later on die. Doctors were unsure of the cause, but noted that the bird, during its last days alive, was turning green and weighed significantly more than when he first entered their care.

 

Doctors that went to school with the one that will henceforth be referenced under the title “The Unfortunate” found his mentally insane self right before he died. Their notes were the same as the doctors under the care of the bird. As soon as the story of the bird hit the paper, the doctors that worked with “The Unfortunate” reached out to that LA animal hospital. The doctors, now to be referred to as “The Unfortunate’s Peers,” said that they knew what “killed the cat,” so to speak. They knew where he was before he died, and they thought that there should be something against this terror that no one was certain of. All they wanted was money. Money for info.

The hospital doctors agreed.

 

The donkeys were in dismay. All that seemed worthwhile in their lives was gone.

Gone.

Forever.

Or so they thought, until the guys in hazmat suits and oxygen masks showed up.

People! was their first reaction.

Soap! was their second.

 

The donkeys had no idea where they were.

They had gone through a machine that was taking photos of them, and then were scanned before placed in a giant tub of water where they were cleaned (soap!), and are now lying in.

They knew Mat must have followed them, and that Mat must be what they were trying to get rid of.

They knew that Mat could kill them all.

But the donkeys didn’t care. They had soap, and that was all that mattered.

Well, that was all that mattered until someone in the background confirmed that the donkeys had Microbial Mat, or Microbialis Mattias as they called it.

All of a sudden, the donkeys were whisked into the air, and, from gloved hands, were passed onto a conveyor belt. Gloves, water, everything that had touched the donkeys, including a poor cat, was thrown onto it.

“Send them to the shredder!” a person who appeared to be in charge proclaimed.

The conveyor belt slowly chugged to life and started to accelerate towards a furnace of a sort.

The donkeys, however, did not know what was going on. They understood that people were talking, but not what they were saying, and they thought this would lead them to Soapy Wonders Palace™.

Seventeen minutes later, all that remained of the donkeys was smoke, paper shreds, and ashes.

Eighteen minutes later, all that remained of the cat was a stain on the conveyor belt, from where she had a nervous accident.

 

However, the doctors were unaware of one thing: the bird that caused the unfortunate deaths of the donkeys had come in contact with no less than twenty objects and animals, all of which in doing so passed on Microbialis Mattias. Therefore, Mat was, and is, not dead. And, though the donkeys didn’t know it, they had Mat inside of them. That was why “The Unfortunate” got contaminated and why the scan showed up positive. So, while destroying the donkeys felt important, it means nothing unless all things contaminated by Microbialis Mattias are destroyed. And, as time goes on, more things are not only going to get contaminated, but many more living things will go insane and die.

So, the foolish plan to destroy the donkeys, therefore destroying Mat, was worthless, as of now, at least. Especially because the doctors now believe that Microbialis Mattias is an extinct germ.

The worst part of it all? The hospital notified the government after destroying every single sample they had of Microbialis Mattias. Now, not only is the “leader” fired, but they have nothing to reference to if there is an outbreak, or to find a cure for the people infected.

Boy, was that a mistake.

 

The remnants of the donkeys had hit a man’s pants. This man happened to be the person that yelled for the donkeys to be set to the shredder. He must have brushed past the conveyor belt as he was walking out. He was unaware of it, however, and proceeded to go home and wash his outfit with his little son’s clothes.

Those clothes were the first to touch the brand new slide of the public elementary school. As soon as that happened, fate was sealed.

Mat was there. Spread. And, it being July, he had plenty of time to grow.

The snake was born on that day. The slide didn’t believe himself to be the lousy self that he was moments before. He was the snake, and there was peanut butter in the air.

From his days as the slide, kids rode on him, with peanut butter dripping everywhere. He hated being dirty, but loved the smell of peanut butter.

The snake wanted peanut butter.

And would stop at nothing, just to taste peanut butter.

Nothing.

 

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