TJ Mouse and the Rat Pack Gang – Chapter 1 of 3

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A collaborative story written with Mrs. Lee’s 2008 2nd grade class at University Park Elementary in Fairbanks, AK.

Chapter 1:  The Gang

On a cold dark night in December, T.J. Mouse shivered in the football stadium.  The big game has just finished, the lights were dim, and all of the people had gone home.  Snow was falling now.  It was covering the field like a blanket.  Oh how he hated winter!

And he hated football.  TJ like soccer best.  He and his buddies could kick around a soccer ball for hours, but those footballs just didn’t roll well. 

“You’re supposed to throw a football,” his friend Gunnar always said.  “Not kick them!”

But Gunnar was a gorilla with a strong arm, and, well, mice didn’t have strong arms. 

T.J. looked around for Gunnar.  He usually showed up with the rest of the gang after the football games to look for popcorn under the seats. 

The gang came from many places.  Gunnar the gorilla came with Elliot the elephant from the zoo.  Oreo, a black and white cat, came from the bookstore down the street.  And Hedgie the Hedgehog lived in a pet store one block away. 

T.J. was the only one who lived in the stadium.   After big game nights he invited his friends over to share all the leftover popcorn and pretzels.  Then they’d kick the soccer ball around until it was time to go home.  But tonight it was snowing, and they probably wouldn’t get the ball out.

T.J. sighed and waited for his friends.  He walked out of the hole in the third floor bleachers and looked down at the field.  He shook his head and rubbed his eyes. 

What was that?  There were orange balls all over the field!  Orange balls?  He grabbed a popcorn bag and rolled it into a telescope.  Pumpkins!  Those were pumpkins on the field!  In the snow! 

What on earth were they doing there?  And how did they get there? 

T.J. grabbed the railing to slide down to the fields when SPLAT!! a snow cone flew through the air and nearly took his hat off.  A snow cone?  Flying through the air?  Where did that come from?  He looked down at the field again and saw dozens of brown furry figures rushing around between the pumpkins. 

“Oh no!” T.J. cried.  “The Pumpkin Rat Pack!  They’ll destroy the field!” 

He straightened his hat and grabbed the railing again.  SPLAT!!  This time the snow cone hit him square in the nose.  He tasted the flavor of Lemon Lime ice as he wiped the cold shavings from his face. 

He shook his fist at the brown figures on the snowy field and yelled at them. 

“You rats can’t take over this stadium!”

“Oh yeah?”  said a voice to his left.  “What’s to stop us?  We’re already halfway there.” 

T.J. turned and saw a white rat in green overalls with big muddy boots holding a third snow cone in a sling shot. 

“Big Tom!”  T.J. exclaimed.  He recognized the rat from photos in the newspaper.  “When did they let you out of the work farm?” 

Big Tom laughed.  “No work farm could hold me in.  I escaped because they didn’t want me to plant pumpkins!  I love to plant pumpkins!”  

TJ thought fast.  He knew that Big Tom and his Pumpkin Rat Pack could ruin the football field and turn it into a Pumpkin Patch by morning.  Somehow he had to contact his friends to get some help. 

TJ pointed over Big Tom’s shoulder.

“What’s that?” he cried.

Big Tom turned.  “What’s what?” and TJ scampered away under the bleachers to hide in an open pipe. 

Realizing he’d been tricked, Big Tom turned back around quickly and scanned the area for the quick mouse.  When he didn’t see TJ, he shouted for some of his gang to help find him.

TJ crawled deeper into the open pipe and pulled out his cell phone.  But there was no reception!  He’d have to leave the safety of the pipe if he wanted to make a phone call.  He slowly crept out of the pipe, hiding in the shadows.  He peered at the phone in the dark and dialed Gunnar’s number with trembling hands.  Gunnar answered on the third ring just as a rat crossed the bleacher above TJ.

“What’s up little Squeaky?”  Gunnar boomed in his deep voice.

“Help!” whispered TJ.  “The Rat Pack is back!”

“What’s that?”  Gunnar said.  “You hurt your back?”

“No,” TJ said, getting louder.  “I need help.  The Rat Pack is back!”  He heard a rat shuffling closer to him in the dark.

“What?” said Gunnar.  “You need a new backpack?”

“NO!” shouted TJ.  “THE RAT PACK!  THEY’RE BACK!” 

And just at that moment, a rat jumped out and grabbed him.  TJ squealed into the phone as he dropped it.  “Come quick!”

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