The letters were disappearing, one by one. Shark was the first one to notice. He was trying to build a new water B-E-D for his house under the sea, and had checked all the usual places letters are found. He had swam up to the surface in agitation and told Duck the clams were all empty. Duck had loaned him a B, and told him cheerfully not to worry, the letters were just hiding.
But the letters weren't hiding. They were gone. The clams and the flowers were empty, the trees were bare. The letters had simply stopped. Many of the animals spent several days searching for any letters that might have been forgotten or fallen from another word. There was nothing except what was already in their boxes and pantries and closets.
It was almost a week before they saw Shark again, and by then, they didn't have any letters left to lend to him. Everyone was busy packing up, shoving their extra letters and any words that couldn't be broken down into whatever kind of vehicle they could manage to build with what was left.
Bear and Pig had gone first, on a J-E-T loaded down with two extra M's and the hope they could find the rest of the letters to build M-A-R-S-H-M-A-L-L-O-W again someday. Frog left soon after, on a C-A-R-T. Frog took the Bugs with him, and everyone tried to pretend they didn't notice how Frog was watching them. He also took the letters P, I, A, N, and O, which made Duck very sad.
Duck was the one who didn't seem to understand. Sheep had explained. Frog had explained. Shark had even offered to let Duck come with him, even though he wasn't sure there would be enough A-I-R. But Duck just nodded, and then ran off to rummage through everyone else's discarded letters.
"Look, Sheep!" Duck had said brightly, "Somebody left a perfectly good T and R right here! I wonder why?"
Sheep had just looked at him helplessly. How could she explain what was going on? How could she tell him there were only so many letters - so many vowels left to use? Everything they knew was ending, and he would never be able to understand what was happening.
Sheep had closed her D-O-O-R behind her - one of the few words left standing in her house - and covered her mouth as she cried.
She was the last one to leave, besides Duck. She had not given up hope until recently, when all the others were gone, and all she had was a jumble of useless W's, Y's, and Z's. It was nice not having to worry about not getting enough sleep, but otherwise, she didn't even have the letters to build a C-A-R. She had spent days sifting through her letters, getting more and more desperate as she ran out of H-A-Y.
Sheep took a deep breath, wiped her face, and picked up her suitcase. "I'm sorry Duck," she whispered. "I need a way out, too."
A few minutes later, the rumble of a new T-R-U-C-K faded as it headed towards the horizon, leaving nothing but a few feathers and a lone yellow D laying in the grass.