Episode the Twelfth: Little Dot Saves a Bilby

By: Mr. E. S. Stranger

Since discovering the crumbling, sticky remains of every OREO cookie Dot had licked the cream out of in the past year or so, Dot's mom had been stricter about snacks. She still let Dot eat snacks, but they were generally healthier, and Dot was required to eat all of what she took. So it was that one day, Dot sat in front of the television relaxing, watching a show and eating some peanut butter on celery. It wasn't terrible; she liked peanut butter, and she usually liked celery, too, especially the pieces in the middle of the heart.

Dot sat on the couch, a plate on her lap, nibbling on her celery. She analyzed each bite carefully before taking it to be sure there was nothing wrong with it. Her mother was very careful, but Dot knew this had come from the ground, and the ground was a filthy place. Plus, the celery didn't have all of the preservatives that normal food had, so it could age at any time.

Halfway through one piece of celery, she noticed a patch that looked the wrong color. She could only imagine what sort of terrible celery disease had caused this. Perhaps it was rotten. Perhaps bugs had laid eggs there, and the eggs were just waiting for a warm place to hatch. Perhaps it was okay. Dot just didn't know. She looked around for her mom.


Her mom must have been busy elsewhere. There was no answer.

Dot stared at the bad spot for a bit. She looked around again. Surely, she thought, the peanut butter on it was okay. She ate the peanut butter off of the celery stick. She considered it for a moment, looked around again, and tossed the piece of celery behind the couch.

She was bringing the next piece to her mouth when she heard a crunch. She froze. The crunching noise continued. There was no doubt about it: it was behind the couch.

She turned around so that her knees were on the cushions. Slowly, carefully, she peered over the top of the couch into the space between it and the wall.

"A bunny!" she cried, startling the creature that nibbled on the celery she had tossed. He cowered and looked up at her.

"What did you call me?" he asked in a strange accent.

"Bunny?" she said. He certainly looked like one-mostly. He had long ears, hind legs much bigger than his front legs, and short fur all over. His muzzle stuck out, though; he was, in this respect, unlike any bunny that Dot had ever seen.

"I'm no such thing," he said.

"Well, you look like one."

"Not if you look closely," he said. "Ever seen a bunny with a tail this long?"

"Hmm," Dot said, her face becoming serious. He had her there. "No, I guess not. But what are you, then?"

"I'm a greater bilby," he said.

"A greater bilby? I've never heard of a bilby before. What are you greater than?"

"The lesser bilby."

"Of course," Dot said, nodding. "So...um...where do you come from?"

"I come from a big place in another town. There are lots of animals there. Several bilbies and I were kept in a small room made to look like the outdoors. I don't know why I was there; they never even interrogated me."

"Oh, my," Dot said. "How did you get out?"

"Well, it's a long story full of danger and excitement," he said.



Dot waited patiently. The bilby looked around, taking in his surroundings. Finally, he spoke again.

"Do you have any more celery?"

"Um...yeah, I think so. Let me go check." She went to the fridge. "Is that what bilbies eat?"

"We eat a lot of things," he said. "What you had tasted good. Perhaps you could spread some peanut butter on it?"

"Okay," Dot responded, and she put peanut butter on some celery sticks for him. He munched them contentedly for a bit, looking thoughtfully.

"After my escape," he said, "I went searching for answers. I was a wanted bilby, hunted by the authorities, but I made it to the library and dared to go inside. There I found the truth."

"What truth?"

"I'm Australian!"

"Really? You?"

"Well, not me personally. I was born here. But my mum and dad, they were from the old country. There are tons of us bilbies there, just running around the countryside."

"Wow!" Dot said. "And to think, I've never seen one before! The city of Australia must be pretty far from here."

"It's not a city. It's this whole other continent. They kidnap us and take us all over. I don't know what for."

"Are you safe here?"

"I think I got far enough away. I didn't see any news stories about me on your television, so they must have given up looking for me."

"So, then, are you trying to get to Australia?"

"No, I've never been there. It's no more my home than this is. I guess I'm just looking for a nice, quiet place to live in peace."

"Oh," Dot said, and she looked around. "Well, I guess you could stay here."

"Thank you, but this isn't quite what I had in mind. It looks to me like you've got a nice cast of supporting characters here already. I'd just be superfluous."

"Well, then, stay here while we find you a place."

"Thanks. I think I'll take you up on that. Where, exactly, will I be staying?"

"I'll show you," Dot said, and as she turned, Jimi walked into the room. He saw the bilby, and his eyes widened.

"Squirrel!" he said.

"Oh, no," the bilby said, and he ran as Jimi began to chase him. They went around the couch a few times before Dot caught Jimi.

"What are you doing, Jimi?" she asked.

"I'm playing with the squirrel!"

"No, Jimi, no. He's a guest. He's not a squirrel, anyway."



"He looks like a squirrel."

"He's a bilby. See the long ears and thin tail?"

"Yeah...ok. So...can I play with the bilby?"

"Only if he wants to."

"I'm good, thanks," panted the bilby. "I try to limit myself to one heart attach per week."

"So..." said Jimi, "we can play next week, then?"

Dot answered. "He might not be here. We're finding him a place. And anyway, horses don't chase small animals."

"Really?" Jimi said, becoming thoughtful. "No horses? Are you sure?"


"Maybe I'm like some sort of...hunting horse or something."

"No, I don't think so. No more chasing our guest."

"Fine," Jimi said, and he sauntered off.

The bilby watched Jimi's departure warily. "So, then, shall I say hello to your smaller friends?" he asked.

"Come on. I'll introduce you to the others."

The bilby followed Dot to her room. Toona and Funny Bunny were busy lounging as they arrived. Funny Bunny looked up as they came in. If he had had eyes, they would have narrowed.

"Whose the rabbit?"

"That is no rabbit," Toona interjected. "That is a specimen of macrotis lagotis, commonly known as the greater bilby. Welcome to America!" He noticed everyone staring at him. "I uh...I may have got a degree in zoology while I was inside Zoyla's bag."

"He's quite right," said the bilby. "But I've never been to Australia. I was born in captivity."

"So, what's with the foreign accent?" Funny Bunny challenged.

"From my parents," the bilby answered. "They raised me, and they're from the old country. It was all I knew for a while."

"He's lying," Funny Bunny said to Dot. "He's here to replace me as the character who looks like a bunny but isn't one. His exotic accent is just to throw you off!"

The bilby smiled. "I've never heard my accent described as exotic before."

"Don't change the subject!" Funny Bunny shouted. "What's your name, anyway?"

"Oliver," replied the bilby.

Funny Bunny crossed his arms. "Oliver Bilby. I'm just not buying it."

Dot moved to the door. "I'll let you all get acquainted." She closed the door. Oliver the bilby shifted on his feet a bit.

"So...um...well, then-"

"Ok," said Funny Bunny commandingly. "Let's be straight on who's in charge here."

When Dot reached the kitchen again, her mother was there.

"What are you up to?" her mother asked.

"Nothing. Hey, could I please have some more celery and peanut butter? I really like it."

"Sure, Dot."

Her mother washed another few sticks and put peanut butter on them. Dot took the plate to her room. She heard lively voices as she opened the door. Funny Bunny was standing up on the bed, talking to the bilby in the best Australian accent he could muster.

"And he says, 'That's not a noyf.' Hey, Little Dot!"

"Hey, Funny Bunny. Are you two getting along?"

"Very nicely," Oliver answered. "He was just educating me on the media. Oh, celery! Thanks. I'm still a little puckish. So, uh...where do I sleep?"

"On the floor, of course."

"Yes, of course. And the...um...facilities?"

"Can bilbies use the facilities?"

"Just as surely as we can talk."

"Right. Just out the door, turn right and follow the hall to the end."

"Thanks again."

The bilby left the room, and Dot put the celery plate down. A few minutes later, he returned, whistling.

"Did you wash your hands?" Dot asked.

"Of course."

"Good. So, then, here's where you'll stay. We must find you another place, though-a proper family. We can start with the newspapers. Now if only we had some newspapers to go through..."

She thought for a minute. This was the sort of thing Zoyla would know how to handle, but she didn't have Zoyla's telephone number. She opened up the window instead and looked out. It didn't look like Zoyla's house was there, but maybe Zoyla was around somewhere. She called out loudly enough for anyone near the house to hear.


A few moments later, there came a familiar voice. It sounded like it came from far away.

"Hey, Little Dot."

"Zoyla! Where are you?"

"You called me at home. What's up?"

"Can you come over?"

"Sure. I'm showering right now. Can you wait twenty minutes?"


"Alright. Bye."

Dot closed the window and sat down. She and the others chatted for a while. Dot had no idea how much time passed. She got up at one point and looked out the window to see if Zoyla was coming.

"Whatcha lookin' at?" said a voice near her, and she jumped. Zoyla was standing close by and was also gazing out the window.

"Zoyla!" Dot shouted. "You scared me."

"What's up?" asked Zoyla.

"Do you have your bag with you?"

"Of course."

"We need to see the classified ads for every major newspaper."

Toona and Funny Bunny snapped to attention. "Did you say every newspaper?" Funny Bunny asked.

"No, Funny Bunny. Just every major one. We're looking to see what families are seeking a new member like Oliver here."

"So..." began Toona. "What would the ad say?"

"I don't know. 'Seeking a bilby' or something like that. You two get started while I make a spreadsheet to record addresses and phone numbers and things like that."

Zoyla reached deep into her bag and drew out a stack of newspapers. She handed them out and reached in again. Toona, Funny Bunny, and Oliver each took some and began going through them. Dot got some poster board and began drawing tables and labels. Zoyla pulled out newspapers, one stack after another, until the room was fairly full. Dot noticed this.

"Okay, I think that's enough for now."

"Okay," Zoyla said, shrugging her shoulders. "If you say so. That's not even the Southwest so far."

Toona and Funny Bunny groaned at this. They went through the classified ads one paper at a time. The frog came in to help part of the way through, but he discovered that the paper dried him out quickly. Dot stood by her hand-made spreadsheet, pen in hand, ready to record information about anyone seeking a bilby. Zoyla took each paper as its reader finished with it and tossed it back into her sack.

After a couple hours of this, Toona began rubbing his eyes. "Can we have a break? My eyes are tired."

"Mine, too," said Funny Bunny.

Dot gazed at her empty spreadsheet and sighed. "Sure. Do whatever you want."

Toona and Funny Bunny opened their respective papers to the comics, and seconds later they were giggling. Oliver kept looking. Dot turned to Zoyla.

"I don't get it. How can no one want a bilby?"

Zoyla shrugged her shoulders. "Beats me."

"Well, there's got to be a way. What if we...no. Well...no. Oh!"

"OH!" Zoyla shouted, as excited as Dot was.

"Zoyla!" Dot said. "You can sell anything! You did a great job selling useless financial products."

"Well, there is a lot of demand for such things here," answered Zoyla, trying to appear humble.

"All the same, I'm sure you could convince people to consider adopting a bilby. We could use the old brokerage stand and your advertising sites."

"Yes!" Zoyla said, eyes sparkling. "Oh! Oh! Can I use my auto-dialer?"

"Whatever you want," Dot said, "but it'll have to wait until tomorrow. I think I smell dinner, and then I'll have to go to bed."

"Well," said Zoyla, we'll want to start bright and early. Do you need an alarm clock?"

"No," Dot replied. "I've got one. I'll set it for seven. Frog!"

"Yes, Dot?" said the frog.

"Seven o'clock," she said.

The frog saluted. "It will be done."

"Well, that's it," Dot said, turning to Zoyla. "I didn't ask my mom if you could stay, so I guess I'll see you tomorrow."

"Okay," Zoyla said, and she was gone.

Dot made sure to save a bit of her dinner for the bilby. That night, she slept on the floor while Toona and Funny Bunny slept on the nightstand above. At seven, the frog woke them all up. He talked excitedly with Dot as she got ready.

"I even composed a jingle!" he said. "It's sure to get people excited about adopting a bilby."

"Let's hear it!" Dot said, and the frog sang. They rehearsed it over and over and over again until the doorbell interrupted them.

Dot went to the door and opened it. Zoyla stood patiently on the other side.

"Hello, Little Dot."

"Hey, Zoyla. You actually used the door this time, huh?"

"I'm not sure what you mean. May I come in?"


Zoyla sauntered in and went to Dot's room to get the others. Toona and Funny Bunny were all ready to go, as was Oliver, who had cleaned and carefully combed his fur for the occasion.

"Should I put on a tuxedo?" he asked.

"No, I don't think so," Dot said.

"What about my breath? There wasn't an extra toothbrush, but I did find some mouthwash. Is it minty fresh enough?"

"You're fine. Let's get moving."

They all went out and set up the table on the sidewalk. Zoyla pulled some signs out of her bag and began putting them up. One read, "D&Z Marsupial Rescue Mission," and Another, placed near Oliver's seat, read, "Ask Me What I Am." She handed some leaflets to Toona and Funny Bunny, who began putting them on trees and the windshields of people's cars. She pulled out her laptop computer, two telephones, an auto-dialer, and two headsets.

"I put an ad on my website," she said as she turned the computer on. "I related it to every keyword I could think of, so there should be plenty of hits. I think there's still time to get the frog's jingle on there."

She pulled out a microphone, plugged it into the computer, and asked the frog to sing.

"He's better yet than any pet that ever was or will be," the frog sang. "He's the groovin' mack from way out back, Oliver the Bilby!"

"Excellent," said Zoyla, putting the song on her site. "Ok, now to begin calling."

Zoyla handed Dot a computer and showed her how to pull up their list of leads. She then started the auto-dialer, which began calling everyone in the country in alphabetical order. For an hour, they each reached many answering machines anda few angry people who did not appreciate the early call.

"You already called me on my other phone!" a man complained.

"I'm sorry, Sir," said Zoyla. "I must say, though, it's rather inefficient to have two phones. Oh, I see...so you don't want to give up the home phone, but the other is for long-distance service. Have you considered bundling-"

"Stay on focus," Dot said to her.

"Never mind," Zoyla said. "Some other time, perhaps." She hung up the phone and looked around. "Not much foot traffic."

"Well, it is only eight-thirty."

"Yes, that could be it. Or..."

She reached into her bag and pulled out an "Open" sign. As soon as she placed it on the front of the table, a many walked up.

"Excuse me, are you open now?"

"Yep," Zoyla responded.

"Terrific. I saw the pet store but didn't think you were open. I'm interested in obtaining a pet for my wife. What sorts of pets do you carry?"

"That's me," said Oliver. "I'm a bilby."

"Oh," the man replied, and he stood, fidgeting. Oliver noticed his distress and continued.

"I'm a sort of marsupial from Australia."

"Oh," the man replied, sighing with relief. "Well, then. I might be interested."

"What's your wife like?" Oliver asked.

"Oh, she's very nice. I have a picture."

The man pulled out a picture. His wife sat petting a small dog. Oliver became thoughtful.

"Is that a dog in the picture?"

"Him? Oh, yes. We have many pets. The dog is well trained."

"Oh, I see, I see. Well, then, what's...why...is that dog wearing a sweater?"

"Yes, he is. I have other pictures here..." the man said, getting some other pictures out of his wallet, "if you want to see some of our other pets."

Oliver examined the pictures. Every pet wore a cute outfit. Beneath his fur, he became pale.

"Where do you live?"

"Chandler," the man said.

"I'm allergic to Chandler," Oliver said.

"Well, we're thinking of moving to Mesa-"

"I'm allergic to Mesa, too."

"Oh, well," Zoyla said. "Too bad. Thank you for stopping by."

"Well-" the man began, but Zoyla flipped the sign to the "Closed" side, and he left. She flipped the sign back. More people came. Most had no idea what a bilby was. Toona and Funny Bunny were brought in to help on the phones. Dot was busy recording data on the people they had spoken with while Zoyla and Oliver gave presentations on bilbies. To attract more people, the frog climbed to the top of a sign and began a loud singsong pitch.

No one wanted a bilby. Late in the day, during a lull in foot traffic, Dot looked over at Funny Bunny to see what he was doing.

"Oh yeah?" Funny Bunny said. "Well, I don't appreciate being called repeatedly. No, you're not making any sense. I know you are, but what am I? No, you are. No, you are. No, I don't have time for this." He disconnected angrily and took off his headset. "The nerve of some people."

Dot sat, thinking. Tears nearly formed, but she held them back. Poor Oliver.

"Okay," she said. "Let's go home. We'll try again tomorrow."

They packed up and went back into the house. Dot was glum all through dinner. When her mom asked if Dot was okay, Dot said she was tired. She went to her room right after dinner and was sure to bring Oliver some food from her plate.

"It's only a matter of time, I guess," said Oliver.

"Yeah," Dot said. "If it takes a while, you can use my other house. It's empty a lot of the time, anyway. Just don't put your feet on my coffee table."

"Oh, no," Oliver replied. "That's too much. I can't accept that."

"It was given to me. I guess it's only right I give it to someone else who needs it more."

"No, no, Dot, I won't take it. I'll find a place. Good night, then."

"Good night," Dot said. "Good night, Toona. Good night, Funny Bunny. Good night, frog."

Her friends all said good night. Dot went to sleep. She didn't know what time it was when someone shook her awake."

"What? What?" she said, trying to awaken.

"Dot!" a familiar voice said.

"Zoyla? How do you keep getting in here?"

"Stop babbling and come with me. Do you know what time it is?"


"It's one in the afternoon!"

Dot looked around. "No, it's not. It's dark."

"I mean in Western Australia. Come on!"

She and Dot were at the door when she stopped. "Oh, yes. I guess Oliver really ought to come."

"Come for what?" said Oliver, who had awakened at the noise.

"You'll see. Come on!"

She dragged Dot and Oliver outside. Then, she reached into her bag and pulled out a supersonic jet.

"There was a response to the online ad," Zoyla said. "A family in Australia is looking for a lovable pet."

"That's wonderful!" Dot said.

"Yep. Get in. Now."

Dot and Oliver boarded the jet. It was rather large, so Zoyla multitasked, taking turns at the roles of pilot, co-pilot, flight attendant, and inpatient passenger as they traveled. The sun came up as they flew, and Dot looked out the window to see where they were. For a while, there was nothing but sea and clouds, but at last she saw land. It wasn't long before they were landing in another residential street in Australia.

"That's the one," said Zoyla, and she pointed to an ordinary house. They went to the door. Dot knocked. Several seconds later, the door opened. A little girl stood there, grinning at them.

"Hi," she said. "Who're you?"

"We're the ones from the ad," Dot said. "You asked about the bilby."

"Oh, yes!" the little girl said. "I have friends, but for a long time I've felt something was missing. You must be Oliver," she said, looking at Oliver.

"At your service," he said.

"You look just right. Very polite, too. I think the others will like you."

"Can I see?" said a voice from behind her. A stuffed koala peered around her leg.

"Sure," said the little girl. "Sammin, this is Oliver the Bilby."

"Hey," said Sammin.

"Hello," said Oliver.

"And there are some of my other friends. That's my lizard, who tells great jokes and is very artistic, and that's my dog Jerry. Don't worry, he won't bite. He thinks he's a kangaroo."

"Very interesting," said Oliver.

"I want to thank you for bringing him," the little girl said.

"What's your name?" Oliver asked.


"Well, pleased to meet you, Liz."

"Likewise. So...then..."

"So..." said Dot.

Oliver looked back and forth. "Well, I guess that's it, then."

"Are you sure?" asked Dot. "You don't have to."

"This place feels right," he said. "I know I just got here, but...I think I'd like to stay."

"Well, you're always welcome at my place."

"Thank you. You've been ever so kind. I won't forget it."

"I won't forget you, either," Dot said. There was an awkward silence for a bit. Dot spoke again. "Well, goodbye, I guess."

"Goodbye, then," Oliver said, stepping into the house.

"Goodbye," Liz said, "and thanks again."

She closed the door.

"They seem nice," Dot said.

"Yeah," said Zoyla, thoughtfully. "Kinda strange, though."

"Yeah. But I'll bet he's happy here. I bet they'll have quite a number of interesting and publication-worthy adventures."

"Probably," Zoyla said.

With that, they went home.