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(as a reference to the blog "HORIZONS ARE NOT GIVEN. THEY NEED TO BE TAKEN.")

The next morning, Pepe woke up first. In all the surrounding grape residents dreamed still sweet. Pepe spread his carpet, glanced back one last time and smiled contentedly. Then he dashed off to look for the green button.

Behind him lay a yellow line, the banana planet, a red dot, the strawberry planet, a tiny dot, the pea planet, and many blue dots, the grapes planet. He looked forward and could not believe his eyes. He actually saw a green dot. He was still far away, but it might be the green button, thought Pepe. At the same moment his carpet accelerated, as if it could read Pepe’s thoughts.

Pepe approached the green patch so close that he could see its rotund appearance, as round as a button. But it had no holes like a button does. It was a ball, a green ball. After getting closer to the green ball, Pepe could now clearly see that it was not a button. It was an apple planet.

He landed on the upper part of it, not far from the stem, where the apple had a dimple. Pepe rested first a bit.

Later he noticed that someone was sitting close to the stem. The someone looked like a little girl. It remained firmly at the stem and trembled.

"Hey, I'm Pepe. And who are you?", asked Pepe.

"Pst! Be quiet. I am Gaga. Come quickly and hide," whispered Gaga.

"Why do you tremble?" Pepe wanted to know.

"I do not tremble. The monster does," said Gaga. "Inside of the apple there is a monster that wants to eat me up."

"But I see no monster.", Pepe said.

"It's on the other side of the apple, where the apple is red. There's a giant hole where the monster lives. It stomps so loud that the whole apple planet trembles. I have tremendous fear of him," stuttered Gaga.

"How do you know that it is a monster and that it wants to eat you up?" Pepe ask softly.

"I just know it. It has always been so on the apple planet. My grandmother and my grandfather were afraid of it. My grandfather told my father and my father told me," explained Gaga.

"And has anyone ever seen the monster?" Pepe asked very softly.

"If it sees someone, it eats him up immediately. Therefore, you have to always keep hiding, best here on stalks. And under no circumstances should you ever go on the red side of the apple," warned Gaga.

Pepe crouched, took a seat next to Gaga and tried to imagine the monster.

"Gaga," whispered Pepe, "Hold out my drumsticks, please. I'm going to the red side of the apple to have a closer look at the monster."

"You cannot go without the sticks!" Gaga demanded. "Take the sticks with you and knock, knock, knock, knock. As long as I hear the knocking, I can be sure that nothing has happened to you."

"That's a good idea," Pepe said, as he walked off towards the red side of the apple planet.

Pepe turned cautiously and peeped left and right, even though he still was on the safe, green side of the apple planet. After a while he reached the other side. It was dark and much larger than the green side.

As agreed with Gaga, he tapped it with the sticks, not too loud, but loud enough so Gaga could hear him. At least he thought she could still hear him. After a few steps on the red side he felt a roar, as if the ground trembled. It was just like on the stalk, where he had met Gaga, only stronger.

Finally he reached the hole. It was big and dark. Strange noises came out of the hole and everything shook around him.

It was scary and Pepe decided not to knock anymore. It was too dangerous for him to be discovered. Who knows what the monster would then do.

Pepe looked carefully into the hole. He was queasy. The hole was big, but not as big as Gaga had described it. Pepe had to crawl on his knees, otherwise he would not fit through. The ground was wet and muddy. Pepe slipped and slid into the hole as if he were on a children's slide. Pepe raced down, faster and faster, and he did not know what was waiting for him down there. He imagined the monster. He thought he would never see the green button and his grandmother anymore.

At that very moment, he stopped and plopped into a knee-high, soft, moist, warm mass. When he opened his eyes, he saw a little green worm at the end of the tunnel. It was staring at him with wide eyes and trembling with fear.

Neither Pepe nor the worm could say something because of fear and excitement. Pepe was afraid that somewhere there would be the father of the worm, and that the father would show up and eat him up. Also, the worm could not be calmed; it still trembled and it was visibly scared.

It was then Pepe who could open his mouth first: "Eeehhh, sorry that I've slipped in without knocking. But I could not stop. Anyway, I'm Pepe. And who are you?" Pepe stammered out.

"I... I... I'm a... a... a small w... w... worm... Lu… Lu... Lucky," stuttered the little worm.

"And you're here all alone?" asked Pepe, looking around.

"Not anymore, because you're here," Lucky said.

"And where are your mommy and your daddy?" asked Pepe.

"They live in other apples. So it is with us," said Lucky.

"And why do you tremble so?" Pepe wanted to know.

"Because on top of the apple, where the stalk is, there is a terrible monster. Can you not feel how it stomps and rumbles and shakes everything? It would eat me up if I would leave my hiding place," said Lucky. "You're very lucky that it has not eaten you up. Now you can hide in with me," suggested Lucky.

"How do you know that it is so terrible and that it wants to eat you up?" asked Pepe quietly.

"I simply know that. It has always been so on the apple planet. My grandmother and grandfather were afraid of it. My grandfather told my father about it and my father told me," said Lucky.

"Has anyone ever seen the monster?" asked Pepe curiously.

"If it sees someone, it eats him up immediately. You always have to keep hiding. It’s best at the very end of the tunnel. We’re never supposed to go out," warned Lucky.

Pepe smiled and said, " Gaga has told the same thing about you."

"And who is Gaga?" asked Lucky surprised.

"Gaga is a little girl who lives at the stalk out there. She is afraid because she thinks that you're a terrible monster,” said Pepe.

"And I'm afraid of Gaga, because I think that Gaga is a monster!" Lucky stated surprised.

"Just as it is," Pepe agreed. "You both need to meet and get to know each other," he suggested.

"And if she does eat me up?" asked Lucky.

"I have an idea of how we can do it," declared Pepe. "I’ll blindfold you and Gaga, so you cannot see each other. Then you shake hands."

"But I have no hands," interrupted Lucky.

"Does not matter. You hand her your tail. You both introduce yourself. And only then I do remove the bandages from your eyes. Agreed?"

"Agreed," Lucky said softly. He was still afraid and was not sure if it would work that way.

They went off. Lucky ahead, then Pepe, who clung to Lucky’s tail. They reached the beginning of the tunnel and crawled out. They crossed the red side of the apple planet. Then they went on the green side of the planet. Finally, they reached the point where there was the stalk. Pepe put on a dark band around Lucky's eyes. After that he went alone to Gaga, told her the whole story and also blindfolded her eyes.

Pepe took Lucky to Gaga. The two shook hand and tail, and stood in front of each other:

"I am Gaga," the girl whispered.

"I'm Lucky," the worm said softly.

Pepe removed the bandages from her eyes.

"You're so tiny and so cute!" shouted Gaga and jumped for joy.

"And you're a little pretty girl!" said Lucky enchanted by Gaga and made a worm-roll sideways.

Gaga and Lucky were talking and laughing together. They had made friends right away and decided to play from now on always together. Lucky prolonged the tunnel through the whole apple planet until it reached the stalk. Now both could slip in both directions and had nothing more to fear.

After playing all went to sleep in the pits around the stalk, exhausted but very happy.

If you would like to see the story with the pictures or read the whole book, please click here:

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