Long, long ago in the era now called the Bronze Age (at the time is was referred to as the Bronze Era) there was a man named Ernesto the Explorer. Having been named such, it was no surprise that when Ernesto grew into manhood (via the route of puberty), he decided that he would become an explorer. He was in fact, the very first explorer in the history of the world.
Eager to get a start on his exploring, Ernesto the Explorer packed up his belongings one day and left his hometown and headed into the Vast Unexplored Outer Lands. On his mission, Ernesto the Explorer was joined by his good friend Tommy, his arch enemy Davey and, of course, Felix Ortiz.
The quartet walked for three days until they reached the city limits. Crossing that line they left the city and what was, up until that day The Known Universe. After this the group was forced to walk even slower, as they didn’t know where they were going. But they kept going. Oh, how they kept going. Tommy took up the role of map maker and carefully charted the territory. When he was not cooking meals for the group, Davey would try his best to sabotage these maps, because he was a jerk.
It was two weeks before they found anything interesting. They had arisen early that day and enjoyed a large breakfast. Once all were satisfied Ernesto the Explorer rallied his best friend, arch enemy and Felix Ortiz and set off for a full day of exploratory goodness. Just before the lunch hour the quartet made first contact with the Animal Kingdom.
Ernesto was the first to set his eyes upon the bold new lands. He smiled, knowing that he had lived up to his name and could finally get back to town and just coast off of his achievements as an explorer. Maybe he’d open up that little top hat store he’d always dreamed of. If money ever got tight he could probably land some gigs talking at the University and telling about the time he discovered stuff. It would be sweet.
But in the meantime he figured he’d probably explore a little bit more and see what was up with this place. Tommy looked upon the new land with awe and wonder, while Davey cursed and wished a pox upon Ernesto and his family except his sister, who Davey had a thing for.
Upon entering the Animal Kingdom, the quartet was first greeted by a pig.
“Hail there, Pig,” said Ernesto. “We four represent the Kingdom of man. Perhaps you could lead us to your own King.”
The pig did just that and before too long the explorers of Man stood before the throne of the King Animal of Animal Kingdom.
“Welcome. Representatives of Mankind, to the Animal Kingdom!” Said the King Animal of the Animal Kingdom. “I am the King Animal of this Animal Kingdom.”
“A pleasure to meet you!” Said Ernesto. “I am Ernesto the Explorer.”
The King Animal said “Charmed.”
Ernesto gestured to Tommy. “This is my best friend Tommy. He is on my journey to help me make maps.”
The King Animal said “A pleasure.”
Ernesto gestured to Davey. “This is Davey, my arch enemy. He has joined me to serve as our cook and to attempt to sabotage our mission.”
The King Animal said “Delighted.”
Ernesto gestured to Felix Ortiz. “And this, of course, is Felix Ortiz.”
The King Animal said “Of course.”
And so a feast was held. Davey killed that pig and cooked him and everyone enjoyed the meal. Afterwards everyone got drunk and the Animal King and Ernesto the Explorer had a real heart to heart talk.
“I’m just saying, I mean, I’m saying that exploring is hard,” said Ernesto. “I’ve got to go all kinds of boring places and look at all sorts of… uh… y’know… boring places. And walking talks a long time, y’know? A long time. It’s hard work.”
“I know,” said the Animal King. “Hard work. Hey, I’m out of beer.”
“Here you go,” said Ernesto as he handed another bottle to the Animal King.
“Hey thanks, man!” said the Animal King. “I totally feel like you’ve saved my life. I love you. For your help, I will offer you the servitude of one of my many species of animals. Choose one.”
The assembled species of animals grumbled and moaned as Ernesto scanned the crowd for his choice. None of the species actually wanted to serve the humans. The skunks started their stinkiness, the monkeys started playing with their feces, the mosquitoes started buzzing annoyingly and the bears made subtle gestures to point at the rabbits.
This was a long time ago, so Man’s Best Friend the dog had not yet evolved from its rodent ancestors. As such the only animal that truly caught the group’s attention was the mighty, majestic, magnificent horses.
“I’ll take those guys!” said Ernesto. “We can sit on them and ride them around.”
A gasp escaped the horses, but the King Animal ignored it. “So be it!” he said, “take the horses and ride them! This is my gift to mankind. Now get out of here, you’re stinkin’ up the place.”
And so man left the Animal Kingdom, not to return until guns were invented. The bitter horses eventually accepted their fate and decided to work with humans instead of trying to piss them off. Also, at some point dogs got born.
To this day people still celebrate the anniversary of the day mankind first encountered the Animal Kingdom, only now it is referred to as “Bring You Daughter To Work Day”.
Patrick D Ryall, the D is for Anthologies
Originally posted on Contains2.com Friday 14 May 2004, 12:04 AM