I Almost Walk the Plank
I was starting to have my doubts about this place. I didn’t think my parents wanted me following a creepy, old woman into a cave underneath some foreign mountain. Also, for better or worse, we weren’t alone down here. A whole crowd of us followed the strange lady into the depths of the cave. Oh, and did I mention she had henchmen? At least a dozen tall, muscular, and dangerous-looking men accompanied us as well as if the cave wasn’t crowded already!
Don’t think I wanted to be here, because really, I never had any plans to take my morning walk three-hundred and sixty feet underground. It’s kind of a long story, to be honest. You know, bombs, old ladies dressed as pirates, turtles who can run across land faster than a rocket-powered cheetah. You know, the normal. Not to mention the other weirdos. Maybe we all won a prize. I’ve met nasty carnival game hosts who scowl at children who win the oversized unicorns hung on the wall, but this was a different story. I don’t think you get clubbed and kid-napped when you win prizes. A surprise, maybe. I sure was surprised when I was abducted by a smack-talking tortoise, and even more surprised when I saw who owned it. You know what they say: A pet looks just like its owner. Or is it the other way around? Either way, here’s what happened.
I groaned as I tossed and turned in my bed. My throat was ridiculously dry, but I didn’t want to get out of bed. Eventually, the thirst got to me and I rolled off my mattress, tip-toed down the hall, and into the kitchen. I opened the pantry door to grab a cup and moved over to the sink, which was right under the only window in the kitchen. As I put my cup under the faucet, I noticed something move outside. As a kid that was home alone, I decided to do the obvious thing: overthink it and run back to my bed as fast as I possibly could. My throat was finally wet, and I could sleep. In all honesty, I wish I never got up to get that cup of water. That night, I had the strangest dream.
“ZANE” an unfamiliar voice yelled, “Are ya deaf, sonny? Look at me when I’m talkin’ to ya, savvy?”
I didn’t think to ask oh my god, what’s this strange voice that knows my name? No, I just responded instead, “Er, oh, um, Yes, sorry!” I realized I was staring blankly at a wall. I turned my head to look at the stranger’s voice. Another thing I wish I haven’t done. To my left, a pale, old woman stood
about four feet tall with long, droopy earlobes and an extremely wrinkly face. A bun sat at the top of her short white hair. Then the obvious question crawled into my head. “Wait a second,” I said, “where am I?” I quickly scanned the room I was in. Have you ever watched Pirates of the Caribbean? This room looked just like the captain’s cabin on one of those ships. If I learned one thing from those movies, You should never go in the Captain’s Cabin. That’s where he keeps all of his treasure! So either this lady was about to get shot, or she was the captain of this boat, and she was gonna shoot me. If I thought about it, I could see this lady brutally murdering other pirates with a sword in hand. She looked at me as if she was trying to make my head explode with her mind. She probably could if she really wanted to.
“You sonny, are on-” She paused
“Yes?” I edged.
“Well, you know, I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise, would I?”
“What surprise, Did I win a cash prize?”
“Ha, cash prize my rear end!” She chuckled.
Curiosity got the best of me, and I ran out the door.
“Woah” I whispered in shock. I was in a pirate ship, which was located in what looked like an underground cavern. The room glowed, and it took me a second to realize why it was glowing. Gigantic crystals filled the room, each one at least 3 feet tall. It was a beautiful sight, but the view didn’t last long. The old lady ran up behind me, grabbed my shoulder and yelled.
“Wake!” She screamed in my face.
“Hey, seriously where the-”
I opened my eyes, as I awoke in my bed. “Oh thank god,” I whispered “just a dream.”
I dressed and headed into the kitchen to pour myself a bowl of cereal. As I tipped the box over the bowl, a folded piece of paper spouted out with the honey nut Cheerios. I picked up the note and carefully unfolded it. The note was folded, almost like a kid’s menu from a sushi place, so it was almost impossible not to accidentally tear it in excitement. I folded the last corner up, and carefully, I studied the paper.
Nothing was there. Just a blank sheet. “Stupid cereal box...” I mumbled. Setting my empty dish in the sink, I tucked the empty note into my left pocket.
Today, my parents were out on a business trip. Mom insisted I went with them, but Dad said I was fifteen and could stay home by myself. It was also Saturday, so I was pretty much free to do what I wanted. While most kids would have thrown massive illegal parties, I was gonna sit back, watch Horror movies, and eat left-over nachos. Unfortunately, before enjoying nachos and horror movies, I had to clean up the dog: a one-hundred and twenty-pound mastiff. Although he was only a puppy, this guy would have fought a bear. Well.. at least he could if he wasn’t so lazy. Anyway, I let the beast outside and got him some fresh food and water. After I let him back inside, I headed out to pick up his droppings.
I tossed the bag into the trash bin. A figure moved on the other side of the fence. Our house was in the middle of a giant gravel field, so we didn’t have any neighbors, And the only animals we ever saw around here were old, dirty raccoons. Last night I saw something out of the window. Could this be the same thing? Or could it be someone? Maybe I’d stick with cartoons, I thought, but nachos were definitely still on the menu. I walked into the garage and grabbed the family’s most dangerous weapon: A wooden broomstick with soft black brushes. Terrifying, right? I crept slowly outside with the broom in hand. Nothing moved. Suddenly, the broom slipped out of my hand, and a sudden pain struck the side of my head. I remember thinking I was dying, and then I fell to the ground.
I woke up dazed, with a slight pain in my back. Before I could take in my surroundings, the ground beneath me shook, and I fell back onto my back. It took me a minute to figure out that I was not, in fact, on the ground, because whatever was beneath me was moving. This time, I rose with caution, noticing large bumps on the surface beneath me.
Thump thump thump…
I tried scooting forward.
"Stay still up there, will ya?” A deep, male voice said.
“I’m sorry, who or what are you?” I protested.
“I’m the one that has to carry your heavy butt across the continent, the North Atlantic, and half of Africa, on my back, as if I don’t have enough to carry already...” The voice trailed off, sounding pretty bumbed out.
“I’m sorry, did you say Africa? I live in California!” I don’t know about you, but road trips are not my thing. When I was five, My mom and I went on a road trip to Tennessee and back, in our trashy camper van. As bad as that was, traveling halfway across the world on a giant rock didn’t sound any better.
“Alright, what are you, where are you from, and why are you taking me to Africa?”
"First of all, I’m from Africa. I’m a Centrochelys Sulcata, or some people might call me an African Spurred Tortoise. You may call me Bob.”
“So you’re telling me that I’m talking to a tortoise, who kidnapped me from my home, and is now trying to take me to Africa? It’s gonna take a lot more convincing than that.”
“Take a look upfront, kid.”
I scooted forward (without falling this time) and looked down. Sure enough, I was looking at the head of a gigantic, talking, Sulcata Tortoise. I fell backwards and reverted back to the comfort of my own eyelids. Don’t blame me, because if you were in a situation like this, you would have passed out too.
I slowly woke up, once again. Only seconds passed before Bob began talking.
“Hey kid, wanna go for a ride, or are you gonna pass out like an old lady again?”
“I never wanted to ‘go for a ride’ In the first place! You kidnapped me, remember?”
“Yeah, yeah, quit your complainin'.”
“You know, for calling someone an old lady, you sound like an old man yourself.”
“Kid, it’s not nice to make fun of someone’s age.”
“It’s not nice to kidnap people!”
“Fine, I guess you deserve to know. I’m four-hundred and fifty-three years old. You can’t tell me nothing’, so shut up. Anyway, we better hurry. Hold on to somethin’.”
“Hold on to something? Hold on to what!” For a four-hundred and fifty-three year old tortoise, the guy wasn’t very bright.
“I dunno, figure it out!” He shouted back, like ‘Do I have to explain everything?’
I lie on my belly and wrapped my arms around Bob. I don’t exactly know why I listened to a child abducting a tortoise, but I didn’t see very many options, because within seconds, we went from at least half a mile per hour, to about three-hundred. It shouldn’t have been possible, but neither should a talking tortoise. I passed out once again.
“Kid, you did it again!”
This time when I woke, my back was soaked with water. “Wha-” I started, “how long was I out? Are we already-” Realization hit me like a pebble. “This can’t be happening! I have to go home!” That didn’t quite seem like an option. We were surrounded by water for miles.
“Yeah, good luck kid. Like swimmin’ much?”
This didn’t make any sense. It had only been this morning when I’d been home, safe and sound, with my dog, and my nachos. Now that I think about it, I didn’t even get to the nachos! I finally began to take it all in. I couldn’t take it anymore. I let it all out. “WHERE ARE YOU TAKING ME?” I demanded, “TELL ME NOW!”
“Cut it out up there, you’re gonna scare away the fish! Don’t you Americans like food?”
“You can’t take me from my home, across the country, miles into the ocean, and tell me to keep my mouth shut! I WANT ANSWERS!” I got onto my knees and started yelling at the sky. I started pounding on Bob’s shell when all of the sudden we stopped.
“WHY ARE WE STOP-” The question didn’t really make much sense in my head, but when I looked up, I found my answer: twenty feet in front of us stood (floated?) a gigantic, no, enormous, blue whale. I wanted to start screaming like a little girl, but this tiny voice in the back of my head told me that may not be the best idea. I silently agreed with it.
“Alright, alright, calm down. I’ll take care of this.”
“It’s a Blue Whale, You can’t just ‘Take care of it!'”
“Kid, I’ve been back and forth across these waters more times than you’ve been across the floor between your bed and the bathroom. You think I can’t deal with a little whale?”
He just said ‘little’. Although I didn’t want to die, I did want to see Bob get jumped by a giant fish. I sat silently and watched.
First of all, any WWE fighting scene, UFC battle, football game, fist fight, or anything you’ve ever watched, looked like a slap fight compared to this. The first thing Bob did, was stick out his head and swim full speed toward the whale. Remember how fast we went on land? We went two-hundred times as fast in water, but from far away, it would have looked like a monster truck crashing into a brick wall. Last second, Bob tucked in his head, which would be protected by his spurred front arms. We smashed into the whale like a torpedo, and the whale sank, its surface still visible above the water. The next thing he did nearly blew my mind. He swam on top of the whale and sat on it. The thing tried to rise out of the water, but could barely even move. Bob scooted onto the whale’s blow hole. After about what seemed like an hour and a half of tension, the poor animal started changing color, from dark blue, to a darker purple. I thought the whale would explode until Bob moved at the last second.
“I may be strong and awesome, but I don’t wanna see no whales blow up.”
The whale released so much water that it began to sink. After that, it wisely decided not to come back.
“WOOP WOOP! We did it!”
“Ya mean I did it? You just sat there, probably thinking about popcorn”
“Nachos.” I corrected, “By the way, how long was I out?”
“Not as long as that whale will be. About five and a half minutes. Ye fell off my back and I had to come pick you back up. Lazy sack of bones! Kid, once we get back on land, you oughta work those legs something fierce.”
“I have a name, you know.”
“No, I don’t know. I’m assuming you’re gonna tell me?”
“Zane,” I told him, “You can call me Zane.”
“Boy, I’m four-hundred and a half years old. I can call you whatever I want.”
“With great age comes an even greater ego.”
It looked like we were nearing land. A great big wall of stone was about half a mile in front of our path.
“So you never told me,” I started, “Why exactly are you bringing me halfway across the world?”
“That’s for me to know, and for you to find out. You’ve lost enough brain cells already, eh?”
“You have a point.” Maybe fighting a whale on the back of a tortoise had calmed me down. Maybe I’ve released so much energy yelling at the sky. Whatever it was, I was ready to rest my head on a scute, and fall asleep.
I was slowly welcomed back to life, with the sweet sweet sound of wind blowing dead branches off of trees. I noticed Bob wasn’t rudely insulting my sleeping habits, which led me to realize that I was no longer on his back. The grass beneath me was soft and warm, and the sun shone down on me like a laser beam. I can’t say the weather was nice, it was really hot, at least ninety degrees, and the land around me was dry.
I stood up and decided to go look for Bob. Now kids, if you get kidnapped and fall asleep, then wake up alone in the middle of a dead field, do not go looking for your kidnapper. See, my case was different. I was kidnapped by a talking tortoise, who took me halfway across the world to the middle of Africa, in under two days. The guy was my only method of transportation. Anyway, from what I could tell, it was morning. That doesn’t exactly mean anything, because California and Africa have completely different time zones. I made a rough estimate that it had been at least two days since I was taken.
After a bit of looking around, I saw a four-foot-tall, tortoise, chewing at some grass.
“Bob?” I asked, “Where are we?”
“Well, to us beings of nature, we’re at a place that you wealthy humans might call fast food.”
“Um, we’re in the middle of a grass field-”
“Exactly. Now hop on, we’ll arrive in a couple of minutes.”
“Arrive where?” I asked. I knew he’d make some dumb remark, but it’s always worth a shot.
“Kid,” He coughed, “I mean, Zane, do you ever stop asking questions?”
“curiosity killed the lion.”
“Don’t you mean cat?”
“What other kind of cat would you think I’m talkin’ about?”
I guess he had a point. I climbed up his scales and lie belly down. He said ‘In a couple of minutes’, so I wasn’t taking chances. Falling off the back of a speeding tortoise isn’t any fun, trust me.
Bob started waddling toward a distant mountain. Slowly, he gained speed until the skin was nearly being ripped off my face by the wind. The mountains gradually got closer until we nearly rammed into the side of it.
“Like I said, I know I might be strong and awesome, but I can’t scale the side of a mountain. I ain’t no spider tortoise.” Bob winked at me.
“Why does it sound like you want me to climb the side of the mountain?”
“Because that’s pretty much exactly what I’m expecting you to do! Have fun!” Bob remarked with a mouth full of dead grass.
“You can’t expect me to climb the side of a damn mountain! I can barely even do a pull-up! What if I fall?”
“You won’t fall if you don’t want to die. Now get to it!”
“Nuh uh, no way!” He couldn’t possibly expect me to climb a mountain, could he?
“Zane, get your funky butt up there, before I turn you into a blue whale pancake!”
“Hmph.” I certainly didn’t want that, so I decided to get started. Luckily, there were lots of loose rocks sticking out. Now that I think about it, that might not have been the best thing, but they worked well as foot holdings. I made it up about a tenth of the mountain before encountering my first problem. A rock slid out at my right hand, and I fell backward! I started to scream, as I plummeted toward my death!
Haha, just kidding. It took me a few seconds to notice that I was still standing... Except I was standing on the wall as if it were the ground. I only stopped screaming for a few seconds, before I started screaming even louder. I was standing on a wall! Maybe my pant leg was stuck on a rock? I took a huge risk and tried picking up my leg... Now I stood on one leg. I put my leg back in front of me... Still standing! Slowly, I stepped up the wall, as if I was Spiderman! I felt like a baby, learning how to walk. I started to run, slowly making my way up the mountain. Finally, I neared the top! A couple more steps and I’d make it! Before I took my final step, someone looked down at me.
“AH!” I yelled, losing my balance. This time, I actually fell. I looked up at the stranger who watched me plummet. The next thing I saw, I couldn’t believe it. The stranger jumped off the ledge of the mountain, and placed both their feet on the wall! They ran with the speed of a talking tortoise, grabbed my arm, and came to a sudden stop. The stranger wore a mask, covering all of their face except their eyes, so I was only able to make out that whoever just saved my life was female. I’ll keep that in mind. She ran back up the wall and swung me from the side of the mountain, and onto the floor, almost like a rag doll. Before I could thank her, she sunk into the floor. And I thought scaling the side of a mountain was crazy.
When I looked back up, I saw a different lady. In front of me stood a pale, old lady, almost two feet shorter than me, with a wrinkled face, and earlobes that stretched halfway to her chin. She wore white robes and a bandana. It was the pirate lady from my dream!
“Well Zane, I see you’ve discovered one of your many abilities.” I would have fainted again, but I didn’t want to insult the old woman.
“A-abilities? What abilities? I don’t have any abilities!” I told her with caution. The last thing I needed was to be stolen off the peak of a mountain by an old lady and taken into an African lab to be tested and studied.
“Child, you just ran up the side of a mountain like you were runnin’ a marathon. Don’t lie to your elders, it’s disrespectful.”
“Ma’am, please, just tell me who you are! Why was I stolen from my home by a giant, talking tortoise, and forced to climb a mountain? I’m running out of places in my head to bury dead brain cells.”
“Watch your tone when you speak to old folks, didn’t your mama teach you any manners? Come with me, we’ll have some tea, and maybe you’ll get some answers as well.”