When her mother returned, Ronnie said her goodnights and hauled her new stereo upstairs to set it up. Tilly, as was his habit, followed her. She cleared a space on a shelf near her bed and connected all the wires. Then she put in one of her new CDs, crossed her fingers, and pressed ‘power’ and ‘play’ in turn. It worked!
She stretched out on her bed, picked up the photo of Wollomombi Falls and stared into it as music filled the room. The next thing Ronnie knew, she was standing beside a glistening pool at the foot of a huge waterfall. She stepped back, craned her neck, and saw three dazzling rainbows dancing a greeting. The landscape shimmered with colour. She was riveted to the spot until the snap of a twig caused her to spin on her heel.
Standing before her was a strange creature. A garland of flowers encircled its head, upon which sprouted two small horns. Laughing, mischievous eyes peered out from under his shaggy mane. The colour of his eyes as well as that of his twin beards defied description. This creature’s strangest feature was that his feet looked more like those of a goat than a human. In fact, his whole lower body resembled a two-legged goat. His upper torso was mostly that of a normal human man except, of course, the horns. In his right hand he held an instrument constructed of four reeds of varying length that were tied together with vines. Several holes had been drilled into each reed and the longest one had a mouthpiece carved into its end.
“You shouldn’t sneak up on people! You could have given me a heart attack!” Ronnie was starting to feel a little panicky. “Who are you? Where am I? How did I get here?” Was it the haunting tune the creature played that sent a shiver down her spine? “What’s wrong with you? Can’t you talk? Please stop playing that music and talk to me. No, wait. Don’t leave me here all alone!”
It was no use; the creature galloped away continuing the mournful tune as he went. Ronnie chased after him but her short human legs were no competition for his sure-footed goat’s feet. She soon found herself utterly alone. She had felt a little safer near the waterfall and headed back toward it.
Ronnie could still hear the sorrowful strains of his flute, but felt better and better as the music faded into the distance. When she thought of the creature, she realized that he must have been Pan, God of Shepherds and Flocks. Pan’s music was said to cause people to fill panic in desolate, lonely places and this place certainly fit that description. She wondered what inspired such sadness in him that he would choose such a cheerless tune.
Ronnie found herself back at the falls. She sensed there was something important she should be doing, but was at a loss to figure out what that could be. She was startled out of her thoughts by a voice coming from beyond the rainbow above. “Key Keeper help us! Key Keeper please come! Iridal is in trouble!” The voice had become louder with each word and ‘trouble’ was shouted with such volume that Ronnie flinched.
When she opened her eyes, she was in her own room, sitting up in bed. Her music was still playing and the photo was on her lap. She carefully placed it on the table next to her bed. “Wow, strange dream and what a strange little creature. I wonder what a Key Keeper is and who Iridal is.” Little did she know how mistaken she was in assuming Iridal to be a person. “That man/goat and his music were weird. Maybe that’s what people mean when they talk about a ‘pipe dream’.”
She continued to mutter to herself as she trudged along the hallway to the bathroom and continued to wonder about it all as she brushed her teeth. Her head was filled with questions. “I’d better just go and get into my pajamas. It’ll feel good to kick these shoes off.” Back in her room, she looked at the Iris Stone one more time before getting changed. It seemed to have lost some luster. Ronnie thought she must really be tired. Her eyes shifted to the photo on her bedside table and she was startled into wakefulness.
Three pale arches filled the sky above Wollomombi Falls. It seemed that the rainbows were becoming moon-bows! Ronnie reached out for the photo but was overcome by lightheadedness and succeeded only in knocking it to the floor. When she looked down, the picture loomed larger than life and seemed to be rushing up to meet her. As she started to fall, she flailed her arms and caught Tilly’s tail to which she clung fast.