Planet Earth Protectors, The River's End

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For the second time that day, Marney brought two cups of hot chocolate over to her dining table and placed them on soft cloth coasters in front of Teplan and Terah.

“Thanks, Marney,” they said in unison. Terah wrapped her hands around the warm mug, sat back and tucked her feet underneath her, and wished they were at home.

Marney looked at her, “You guys have had quite a day, eh?” she said, trying to lighten the mood.

“We sure have…”

“So, listen you two. We’re of course super-glad you two are safe,” Ian interrupted. “But we should get you home; your parents are worried sick,” he said in a chipper voice, also trying to keeps things upbeat.

“That’d be a relief!” Terah confirmed.

While Teplan and Terah sat in the same chairs as they did earlier that afternoon, both Marney and Ian were on the move. Marney busied herself in the kitchen and could be seen from anywhere in the open-concept house, and Ian seemed to monitor the outdoor space by peering through the windows throughout the house.

“So, how do you two know each other?” Terah asked. Marney paused at the counter and reached for her tea, Ian glanced at each other.

“Marney and I have been friends since right after high school,” Ian said proudly. “We met the summer before university in the leadership program and were both in Environmental Science. And now, she knows everything there is to know about pigs and pig farming and how to raise them safely. She grew up on this farm. The agency I work for has called on Marney from time to time for help and she’s always been there. Just like today. When I found out you two went to the river, I called Marney to borrow her boat to see if I could find you guys. Funnily enough, she told me she had just met you two and that when you left, she saw you heading back to the river and not in the direction you were supposed to go to get back home . . . So, I picked up her boat, and here we are.”

They gazed in amazement.

“Yes, Ian and I went to the university together and he sat right beside me in our very first class that summer. It turned out we had two classes together and he sat right next to me in that class, too! This guy had some nerve, I thought. Turns out, he was actually nice. Go figure, eh? And who knew he’d end up being one of the most intelligent people I know?”

Terah looked at Teplan.

“Uh, no, I didn’t know that. Wow, that’s cool,” Teplan replied. “But what do you do when you go all over the place?”

Ian chuckled. “Good question, Teplan. As you know, I work for an agency that helps protect the earth from all sorts of pollution. So, we monitor pollution and try to bring the polluters to justice.”

“Like, earth police?” Teplan asked.

“Yes, like earth police. Planet Earth Protectors, in fact.”

Terah made her way to the kitchen and stared out Marney’s front window into the late afternoon sun. Her gaze was interrupted by four, bright lights flying up the driveway. “Uhhh, are you expecting someone? There are two trucks driving really quickly up your driveway,” Terah said without taking her eyes off them.

They all jumped up to have a look.

“Time to go! Get your things!” Ian said as he grabbed his jacket and bag from the counter. He grabbed Marney’s hand and then turned toward the kitchen. Teplan and Terah followed immediately behind.

When they got to the back door, Ian did not open it, but moved the carpet at his feet instead and opened a lever on the floor. He spun the lever back and forth a couple of times, pulled it up and opened the door on its hinges. He rested the trapdoor against the wall and motioned for Marney to go first.

Marney flew down the steps into the darkness without hesitation. The sound of truck engines getting louder and the visual of the kitchen illuminating with dancing headlights encouraged them all to move quickly.

“Terah, go!”

Her eyes darted to Teplan.

“I’m right behind you,” he said as he positioned himself to go next. Ian grabbed her arm and they all slipped beneath the floor successively. Ian attached the carpet back onto the Velcro on the trapdoor and then closed and locked it from beneath.

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