Saving Starbird

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Chapter 20

Sally and Archie Alone Again

Sally was delighted, but she heard Starbird again telling her that they must stay exactly as they were for a little longer while he absorbed more power from them. Sally happily stayed on her knees still touching the warming surface of the spacecraft. When she looked at the two fishermen kneeling beside her she noticed that they were completely still, but their faces had become very white and drained.

She looked at Archie who was standing with his feet wide apart holding the wheel of the Lifeboat confidently, but his face looked as if he was in a deep trance.

Sally realised that only she was in anything like a normal state. However, she felt very relaxed being sure that Starbird would be able to tell her what to do next and he would keep them safe.

As time passed Sally could feel the energy growing in Starbird. The ball had now returned to its smooth and shiny surface. The marking were now very well defined, with the two original eye stones showing up clearly in their recessed housing.

The throbbing was now loud and clear and Sally noticed that the ball was vibrating as it sat on the boat’s deck.

Suddenly Sally felt the feeling of relaxation sweep over her again. She closed her eyes and in her mind she could see Starbird clearly, his voice was now strong as he spoke to her.

He explained exactly what he wanted her to do.

First she was to tell the two fishermen to untie and launch the rescue dinghy that was lashed to the rear of the deck.

Starbird went on to say that he was still very weak, but a lot of his extraordinary powers had returned, thanks to the mind energy he had drawn from all his rescuers. He went on to say that everyone would be fine when he finally released the three who were still in a trance.

Next they had to get the spacecraft safely into the dinghy. Starbird said that he was sure there was now enough power for him to help in this difficult manoeuvre.

He was certain that the probe would be able to hover for a short time once Archie, his dad and Mr Tampling had lifted the ball over the side of the boat

Starbird went on to explain that only Sally and Archie could go with the probe to its base within Smugglers Rocks. He would use the eye stones to guide them but the trip would be very dangerous.

Then Starbird thanked Sally for being his true friend throughout all the time they had been together, but now he needed her to be very brave for this final stage of the rescue. Finally, he said that he would release Archie from his trance, but the two fishermen would have to remain as they were for some time although they would be able to safely manage to control the Lifeboat.

Sally opened her eyes once more and the image and voice of Starbird faded away in her mind, but she knew exactly what she had to do.

She stood up and in a loud strong voice told Archie’s dad and the coxswain to launch the dinghy over the side of the boat. They both opened their eyes together and stood up. Although they walked together to the dinghy and began to untie the ropes that secured the small boat to the deck, neither spoke as they moved like sleepwalkers to carry out Sally’s command.

They quickly carried the small boat to the far side of the deck to where the water was much smoother, as the Lifeboat was between the direction of the waves and wind.

They managed to lower the small boat over the side using the ropes that were fixed to the side of the dinghy. They then secured these same ropes safely mooring the boat along side the Lifeboat.

Sally then had to do what she had been told by Starbird, although she was terrified with the idea, just thinking about it and not yet doing it. She had to get down into the dinghy.

Although the lee of the Lifeboat created smoother water, there was still a lot of movement between the levels of the deck on which she was standing, and the small boat below her rocking in the darkness.

She asked Archie’s dad to help her and, again without speaking, he took her hands in his own. He swung her out over the side with his strong arms. Sally felt herself dropping down towards the dark seawater that frightened her so much.

However, her feet made contact with the wooden seat in the dinghy, so when Archie’s dad let go of her hands she collapsed safely in a heap into the bottom of the dinghy. This caused the small boat to rock violently, Sally screamed but she was safely on board.

Lit by the deck lamps Sally could see the two fishermen struggling to lift the ball shaped probe between them. They managed to get it to the side of the Lifeboat, at which point Sally called up to them, “Right. Please drop the probe over the side into the dinghy.”

Had they not been in a trance, they would have never even considered such a dangerous operation. To drop a heavy object, such as the round ball they were struggling to hold, down into such a small boat, was a sure way to create a disaster at sea.

Either the ball would smash through the hull of the dinghy, or it would crash down on Sally, injuring her and throwing her and the probe into the sea.

However, Sally called out, “Get ready to drop it after three. She then shouted, one, two THREE!”

Still in their deep trance they swung the probe backwards and forwards twice. Then on Sally’s shout of three, they let it drop.

Down in the dinghy Sally looked up in terror as the large stone like ball fell towards her. She had her hands raised towards the falling object, although she knew she would not the able to check its fall.

Suddenly a green light shot out from the bottom of the probe. To her relief and amazement it just hovered in the air above her head. There was a loud high-pitched whining noise coming from the ball. Then it sank slowly down, until it rested safely on the bottom of the dinghy floor.

At once the noise and light stopped and Sally looked down at the ball that was taking up most of the room in the dinghy. She let out a great sigh of relief. Starbird had arrived safely with her for the next stage of its rescue journey.

Sally looked up at the two fishermen who were staring down unblinking at her. Their faces showed no emotion at all. It was as if they had not seen the green light and the eerie decent of the spacecraft down into the little boat.

Quickly Sally shouted up to Mr Tampling, “Please go and relieve Archie at the wheel.”

She then called up to Archie’s dad, “Will you get Archie and help him down into the dinghy.”

When Archie clambered down into the dinghy with the help of his dad, Sally could see from the look on his face that he too was still in a trance like state.

She told him, “Archie get ready to row us away from the Lifeboat.”

Sally then shouted up to Mr Smith who was still standing above them looking totally unconcerned about the safety of his son, “Keep the Lifeboat in the same position until we return”

She then shouted to him again, “Please cast off the ropes.”

He nodded then cast off the dinghy before joining his coxswain without any comment.

Sally had now carried out all the instructions that Starbird had given her, so she did not know what to do next.

While they were still rocking close to the side of the Lifeboat, Sally once more closed her eyes and bent over and put her face close to the probe. Again she felt the strange feeling of calm fill her mind and she was completely relaxed.

Once more she could hear the voice of Starbird in her head. He told her that shortly Archie would awake from his trance, but she would not need to explain what had been happening, as Starbird had already put all that information into his head.

He went on to say the he would have to rely on them to get to the spacecraft base without him being with them in person, as he still was far short of the powers he normally relied on.

As his voice began to get fainter and fainter he whispered to her to follow the stones.

Sally sat up and looked at Archie. His eyes opened and he shook his head rather like a dog that had just got out of water.

He said to her, “Right Sally. Are you ready to go?”

She was amazed that he seemed to know exactly what had happened and where he was.

Sally told him, “Starbird said we must follow the stones, what ever that means!”

Together they tried to examine the surface of the probe in the poor light that filtered down from the Lifeboat’s deck lamps and the moonlight that was still shining brightly. However, it was too dark to see much.

Suddenly the shape of their two original stone appeared on the ball. The outline had a faint green light around the edge. Then the marking that they knew so well appeared. The eye shape was closed on both stones. Then suddenly, together the eyes opened and once again winked at them!

Both Sally and Archie burst out laughing. It was almost like seeing old friends again.

Without any warning the two stones became detached from the shell of the spacecraft and whizzed together up in the air. They flew around the dinghy then landed on the children’s laps.

When they picked them up and looked at them, the stones had returned back to them as before. Sally had hers and Archie his.

Sally’s stone was warm to her touch as it nestled in the palm of her hand.

Archie’s however, flew away from him and took up a position at the front of the dinghy. Once there it emitted a thin beam of green light that pointed out in front of them like a torch.

“That’s it” Sally cried. “It wants us to follow the direction of the beam.”

When she looked down at her stone, the eye winked at her twice.

Archie used an oar to push the dinghy away from the side of the Lifeboat, and then he started to row, following the green light that danced ahead of them.

Once they moved out of the shelter of the Lifeboat the breeze and wave hit them making the dinghy rock badly. Their weight together with the weight of the probe meant the dinghy was very low in the water, so water splashed into the boat every time the waves hit them.

Archie said, “We have to keep as still as we can. If we move too much the boat may capsize.”

At the thought of being thrown into the sea Sally was terrified. Her fear of water returned and she gripped the side of the dinghy so hard that it made her hands ache.

However, Archie was very good at rowing, and as soon as the boat picked up speed, they cut through the waves better, so far less water come over the side into the boat They were heading straight towards Smuggler’s Rocks and their high cliffs were just visible in the moonlight.

Sally could also see the white of surf where waves were breaking over partly submerged rocks. By following the green light ahead, Archie was able to steer a zigzag course between these almost unseen dangers. If they were to hit any of these rocks they would either capsize or smash a hole in the side of the dinghy and sink.

However the stone flew its zigzag course without any hesitation with the dingy following. Although the rocks came very close, and at one time they could hear a faint scraping noise, they continued to approach the towering rocks ahead.

They were getting closer and closer to the dark and towering cliffs when suddenly Sally’s stone flew from her hand, disappearing into the inky darkness. After a few seconds the darkness ahead was broken by a bright green light.

Unlike Archie’s stone that had guided them with a narrow beam of light, Sally’s stone was flooding the area at the base of the cliff with a bright light that showed up every rock, crag, crevice and gully.

Sally excitedly pointed to the base of the cliff.

“Look Archie!”

There was a small opening that looked like the mouth of a cave. Suddenly the bright light from Sally’s stone switched off, while the beam of Archie’s guiding stone pointed straight to the cave that Sally had fleetingly seen.

Archie rowed slowly and carefully towards the cliffs that now completely blocked out the moonlight. Their only guide was the pencil thin beam of green light pointing the way ahead.

“This could be very dangerous,” said Archie. “You can see by the high water marks on the rocks. They are way above the roof of the cave entrance. You can only get into this cave at low tide.”

“Why is that dangerous?” Sally replied.

“Because silly, it is low tide now, but if we are in there very long, the tide will turn and the cave will fill with water right up to the roof.”

Sally went very, very quiet. Her dreadful fear of water became even greater.

Slowly the dinghy nosed its way into the mouth of the tunnel that bored its way under the rocky cliffs. The green beam of light suddenly shut off leaving them in total darkness.

Sally screamed as her face hit against a slimy wet rock with seaweed hanging down like a wet curtain. This seaweed stuck to her face as she cowered in the darkness. It was horrible. She frantically clawed at the strands of evil smelling weed that covered her face.

Archie shouted to Sally, “What has happened to the light. I can’t see a thing.”

Sally replied, “I hate this wet creepy place Archie.” She began to sob quietly to herself.

Archie spoke in a hushed voice saying; “I know what you mean. This is the worst thing that has happened to us so far.” He stopped speaking as a large slimy strand of seaweed stuck in his mouth. He spat it out in disgust.

They both sat still shivering together in the dark.

Finally Sally said, “I guess that Starbird is saving his failing powers. I think we will be safe until he can give us back some light. I am sure he will not leave us here in the dark for long. ”

“I hope your right,” Archie muttered.

They sat completely still for several seconds. Then Sally said, “It is very strange, we seem to be still moving, but you are not rowing. Its just like we are being towed along.”

Archie explained, “The waves are still flowing into the cave and we are being carried along with the current. Let’s hope the tide is not coming in too fast!”

Thinking about the dark line the high tide had let above the cave entrance, Sally agreed, shivering in fright.

Archie pulled the oars back into the dinghy, hitting Sally in the dark, who screamed out in surprise.

“Sorry Sally!”

She asked him, “Archie, can you touch the walls of the cave. Let’s try to see how wide it is.”

Archie carefully lifted one of the oars out of the dinghy and found the he could easily touch the walls on both sides. He told her, “It is more of a tunnel than a cave. It is quite narrow.”

Sally trailed her hand in the water and found that they were travelling quite fast in the current. It was like they were being carried through a tube deeper and deeper under the towering rocks above them.

Suddenly the dinghy bumped against the wall of the tunnel and they felt the boat swing round. They were going around a corner.

Ahead they could see a light that was getting brighter the further the dinghy travelled. They felt the boat swing around another corner and they found themselves in a wide lake surrounded by high walls of rock. They had arrived in the centre of Smugglers Rocks and the light came, not from Starbird’s stones, but from the moon light overhead.

Archie stared up to the sky showing at the top of the rocks. “Well Sally, we need not worry about this filling up with the tide, but we still won’t be able to go back up the tunnel.”

Sally looked around. “This must be the spacecraft base on earth.”

Archie agreed, “I am sure you are right. I just hope that Starbird still has enough power left to tell us what to do next.”

“I am sure he will. One good thing, we are out of that horrible tunnel.”

Still tasting the seaweed strand that had slapped into his mouth, Archie said with feeling, “I agree with you Sally. You have never spoken truer words.”

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