Richard waited in his room, already dressed in his pajamas. He was looking forward to going to bed. That is, he was looking forward to his fathers story. But since his father was taking a while to come, Richard climbed onto his rocking horse. Perhaps a telephone call was holding him up.
"Where do you want to go today?" the rocking horse asked.
"I saw a rainbow this afternoon. It was pretty, and looked so mysterious. Can you bring me there?"
"I can," said the horse, "but Im telling you, put something warm on, like your bathrobe. It´s cozy and warm. Well be riding a long time, and it´s cold outside, especially at this time of night."
Richard put on his bathrobe, slipped on his warm slippers, mounted his horse again, and said, "Giddy up!"
The horse whinnied, stretching out its legs and neck. Its head grew longer, and its back broader. Soon it stood there as a living, breahing horse, grand and full of vivacity. Richard could feel the body heat of the animal and its twitching muscles through the smooth fur coat. He grabbed onto the mane, taking a good and tight hold.
The horse neighed again. The furniture and walls of the room moved back like a theater set that was being carried away. The animal snorted and pawed the floor with his front hoof.
The horse whinnied a third time, took three careful steps, began to trot, and, after a few yards, took off in a gallop. Horse and rider flew into the air. Richard heard the wind whistling through his ears.
They rode a long time, flying over sleeping villages and fields bathed in moonlight. They glided over meadows and forests dawning in a morning grey. They rode and rode, until they caught up with the sun which laid behind the mountains. Passing through an air that was so pure it seemed never to have been touched, the rainbow finally appeared. It shone before a wall of deep grey clouds.
There, where the rainbow touched the earth - where tree, bush, and grass were immersed in their mysterious light - the horse remained standing. It snorted softly and said to Richard, "Now you must go on alone. Do you see that small waterfall over there? Go there. You´ll find the entrance to the rainbow behind that waterfall."
"Why do I have to go alone?" Richard asked. "Come with me! Don´t you want to come?"
"If only it were that," said the horse, a little sad. "No, that´s not the problem. The problem is that I cant enter the rainbow. Its closed off to me. But I´ll wait here for you. When you have seen all the seven rainbow lands, then youll find me here again, at the exit. I´ll be there if you need my help."
The horse had spoken the last words so firmly that Richard didn´t dare ask any further questions, although he wanted to. And in any case, he was becoming curious about this rainbow. He had never expected that he would be taken right to the entrance of the rainbow. He decided that he would go on, even if alone. As he left he patted his horse on the neck, then slipped quietly behind the waterfall. Although his bathrobe became wet, his skin somehow remained dry. Only his face had become wet, sprinkled as if by drizzle.
Just as the horse had said, Richard found an entrance lying in the rock wall, behind the water curtain. It resembled a gateway, about the right size for a human being. The tunnel that it led to was so long that Richard could scarcely make out the other end. A beam of red light seeped through an opening, sheding a little light into what would have otherwise been complete darkness. With this light, Richard didnt find it hard follow the tunnel. He carefully ducked a little as he walked to keep from hitting his head on the sharp and uneven surface of the tunnel ceiling. Richard went on, groping along the red beam.
The tunnel wasn´t nearly as long as it had first looked. It almost seemed as if the red opening were approaching Richard faster than he were approaching it himself. Also, the more Richard neared the exit, the warmer it became. This Richard found pleasant, since the night night ride and the passage through the waterfall had given him the shivers.
He was at the end of the tunnel. Full of curiousity, he stepped out into the open.
A very unique landscape laid before him. Richard was amazed - everything was red! Even the sky glowed red, as if in a sunset. Strange rock figures with jagged walls and sharp, serrated cliffs loomed in this glowing sky. They looked like bizaar castles and mountains, enormous imaginary animals and huge rocky fingers. Rifts and openings tore into the landscape. Yawning abysses gaped in the ground. There was something menacing about this landscape, and even though it was full of forms, it still felt still chillingly empty
Water was nowhere to be found. Richard couldnt see any plants, either. Although there were many tree trunks with finger-like rock formations, these tree trunks looked as if they were left over from a forest fire. The whole landscape seemed devastated and burned, and overall it glowed and shone out of the openings and crevices of the rock. One would think that a perpetual fire were burning underground, crackling through the branching holes of the earth.
Man, is it warm here! Richard thought, his forehead beading with sweat. Whew, was that hot! A little bit at a lost, Richard looked around. He couldn´t begin to compare his expectations of the rainbow to this wasteland that laid in front of him. He hesitatingly took a few steps forward before stopping again. He stood, undecided.
"Oh, welcome!" he suddenly heard a voice say next to him. Richard had been startled, but only because the address was unexpected. The voice itself sounded young and happy, even when a little bit husky. There was nothing evil about it, though.
Richard turned to the voice. Out of a fire hole stepped a small lad, red from head to toe. Even though he was standing at full height, he still only came up to Richards chest. Richard looked down on him.
He looked exactly as Richard had always imagined a goblin. The little guys hair stood on his head in a flaming red, spraying sparks with every movement. And the goblin moved himself around quite a bit. He couldn´t stand still for a second. He hopped from one leg to the other, waved his arms around, and shook his head, even when he was speaking.
"Oh, I´m so happy," he rasped, and hopped around Richard, as if performing a Native American raindance. Wherever he landed, his feet sent a flame springing out of the foundation rock. It all looked and sounded very funny. It snapped and crackled as if someone had ripped a branch off of the christmas tree and were holding it in a candle flame. Richard had to laugh.
The small guy said, "Come on, let´s play."
Despite the freindly invitation, Richard had a bad feeling. Still, he didn´t want to just knock off the funny guy.
"OK, we´ll race to see who can reach the smoke trail first!" the goblin proposed immediately. This challenge scattered Richard´s worries. Run. Now that was something that he could do, and he wanted to prove it to this short guy.
"Good," he said, "Give the command."
"Ah, fine," the goblin said. "On your mark, get set...Go!" The two shot away.
Richard had quickly gained the lead, and thought that he would surely win the race.
As they had crossed the half-way point, Richard turned and looked behind him. Oh no! The goblin had grown, and he was almost as big as Richard now! He now looked anything but cute, and there wasn´t a funny about him. Richard felt the goblin radiating a singeing heat. Long flames stretched out behind the his legs. The flames crackled and roared, sparks showering with every snap and pop. It scared Richard. He ran faster, but as he again looked behind him, he saw that he couldnt shake the form. He even seemed to be growing bigger. Richard calmly considered what was to be done. As he ran he untied his bathrobe, slipped it off, and stopped so abruptly that the fire goblin almost ran into him. At this very second Richard threw his bathrobe over the goblin´s head, and he sank down immediately. Silence.
Finally Richard heard a voice coming out from under the bathrobe. It sounded little. "Oh, please, please let me out!" it said, "I´m suffocating!" A pitiful cough followed.
Richard noticed how all around it began to cool down. It was no longer hot, but now comfortably warm. At this point he didn´t have the least desire to stay in this land anymore. The fire goblin had become scary, and it didn´t seem wise to have anything further to do with him. Richard knew that there were still more lands in the rainbow. His horse had spoken of seven. Perhaps there in these other lands it wouldn´t be so dangerous. Unfortunately, Richard had no idea how to get to another rainbow land. He therefore asked to the form under the bathrobe, "Which direction do I take to get to the next rainbow land?"
"I´ll tell you, I´ll tell you!" the litle voice cried, coughing. "Quick, take the robe off. I can´t speak."
Richard raised the robe a little, but only so much that he could immediately throw it back over the goblin when need be. Small as a bean, the goblin crouched on the ground. A mere coil of smoke spiraled from his body.
"Tell me!" Richard demanded "Or else..."
"No, wait!" The thing whimpered. "I´ll tell you, Ill tell you! There is no direction, no path. Theres no bridge to the next land, nothing that goes over. You have to imagine it."
"Imagine? How?" Richard asked, confused.
"Easy! Just think on an object which has the same color of the next rainbow land."
Then the image of an orange popped up in Richards mind. He suddenly had a real craving for one right now. He concentrated on the image very hard, and on the color orange. Suddenly he found himself in a completely different landscape ...