Chapter 14: Climb to the Future
Later that afternoon, SpongeBob, Patrick, Squidward, and Plankton were walking through a dim forest. However, unlike all the other forest they’ve been through the past couple days; this one seemed a bit on the downer side: no grass and lifeless trees everywhere you look.
“Are you sure about this shortcut to the Arctic Ocean?” Squidward asked Plankton, who had told them of this shortcut he heard.
From atop of SpongeBob’s head, Plankton answered his question with a calm smile. “Of course I am. After all, I did say I’d get ya there.”
“That you did.” SpongeBob added with a smile. “I do like shortcuts after all.”
“Who doesn’t?” Squidward dully stated as he dourly put the hood of his cloak over his head to cover his face. “The sooner this nightmare ends the better.”
While walking, SpongeBob glanced over at Patrick, who was a little ways next to him and asked, “Hey, Pat, you still have the krabby patties I made back in the village, right?”
Patrick pointed the mini fridge on his back toward SpongeBob and answered with a smile, “I sure do. All safe and sound in order to be preserved.”
“You’re the best, Patrick.” SpongeBob said with a thankful smile.
“Can I scout ahead this time?” Patrick asked eagerly.
“You sure can, pal.”
Patrick cheered in excitement and ran ahead to do the scouting. Plankton watched this from atop of SpongeBob’s head and suddenly smirked as an idea formed in his mind.
“Hey SpongeBob,” he began saying in a casual tone, “You sure are lucky to have traveling companions like Patrick and Squidward on your side.”
“I know, aren’t they great?” SpongeBob sighed as he got a small smile. “I would have never made it this far without them.”
“Yeah, that’s fantastic.” Plankton nonchalantly replied until he spoke in a serious tone, “But are you sure you can really trust them?”
This made SpongeBob confused. “What do you mean?”
“Well, that golden spatula you’re carrying makes the most delicious krabby patties anyone in this world will ever taste.” Plankton explained. “Anyone would want it…even them.”
SpongeBob thought about this and quickly glanced behind him to see Squidward just walking with an expressionless frown as his hood covered his head; and then looked ahead to see Patrick running left and right as his way of scouting what was ahead.
The sponge shook his head and smiled again. “That’s crazy talk, Plankton.” He said as he waved his hand in disbelief. “Patrick and Squidward are my best friends. They’d never do something like that.”
“I don’t know, SpongeBob.” Plankton singsongs with a smile, “Sooner or later, they might just ask you if they can carry the spatula themselves.”
“Come on, Plankton, be real.” SpongeBob said in a confident tone. “I trust them as my friends. I know them too well enough for that.” As he spoke, he pats his right pocket that held the golden spatula in question.
When Patrick was walking, he suddenly bumped into a stone wall and stared up at it when he noticed it. “Hey guys,” he turned toward the three. “There’s a strange wall of infinite mass blocking our way.”
“That’s called a mountain, Patrick.” Plankton explained in his friendliest tone. “It was made by nature.”
“Well, this is just great.” Squidward said in disappointment as he removed his hood. “It’s gonna take us days just to get around this thing.”
“Which is why we’re going over it.” Plankton pointed out with an excited grin.
But Squidward was shocked by the idea. “What?!”
SpongeBob didn’t seem too comfortable with the idea either. “I don’t know, Plankton.” He said in a nervous tone as he shifted his feet. “The last time we went through a mountain, that’s when we lost…” tears suddenly began to form in his eyes. “Mr. Krabs…”
Plankton was not amused by this. “You’re not seriously gonna do that every time someone says his name, are you?” he asked, deadpanned.
He hopped onto the ground in front of SpongeBob and put on his friendly smile. “Come on, SpongeBob.” He encouraged, “You don’t wanna give up after coming this far just because of some little mountain standing in your way, do you?”
SpongeBob glanced away in uncertainty. “Well…”
“You haven’t forgotten your promise, have you?” he reminded in determination. “You’re gonna help Hoggle…”
“Hoagie.” Squidward dully corrected.
“…You’re gonna help Hoagie get out of that spatula and set free his soul.”
“YEAH!” SpongeBob shouted in joy as he regained his confidence. “I won’t give up on Hoagie! We’re gonna climb that mountain!”
“Yay!” Plankton cheered with a joyous grin.
“Now that’s more like it, SpongeBob!” Patrick shouted in excitement and turned back to the wall. “You hear that mountain? We’re gonna climb you and we’re not gonna stop!”
And at that, Patrick grabbed a hold of a ledge and began climbing his way up. SpongeBob ran over to the wall and watched his best friend climb. “Patrick, wait up!” he called to him.
But Patrick would not stop climbing and just kept grabbing all the free ledges and used them as support for his hands and feet, letting small rocks and pebbles slide down below. However, Patrick wasn’t used to physical exercise like this and he began to slow down and pant in exhaustion as he quickly tired out.
SpongeBob bellowed out to him, “Patrick, are you okay up there?!”
As Patrick panted and sweat in exhaustion, his grip on the mountain loosened and he fell backwards. SpongeBob screamed for the safety of his friend- but this was greatly exaggerated…Patrick had only climbed four feet up the mountain and fell down with a soft flop.
SpongeBob immediately rushed over to his best friend and knelt down beside him as he took a canteen out of his bag. “There, there, buddy.” He said in a comforting tone as he held the back of Patrick’s head before he bit the cork off the canteen with his teeth and began giving Patrick water. “I got ya.”
Squidward walked over to them. “Well, that just proves we’re never gonna get to the Arctic at this rate. Let’s just go around.”
“Wait!” Plankton yelled as he walked over. “We have to go over the mountain. Otherwise…it could take us longer than expected just to make it before winter rolls around.”
Squidward stared at him in disbelief, but Plankton continued on, “Trust me, I did a bit of mountain climbing in my day. If anyone can get us up this mountain, it’s me. Do you have a bit of rope on you, Squidward?”
Squidward complied and took off his travel pack and reached inside until he pulled out a long piece of rope. Plankton ran off with it and ran around Patrick, tying one end of the rope around his body.
“Are we playing Secret Agent?” Patrick asked with a smile. “I love that game.”
“No, you dim-witted buffoon.” Plankton answered. “This is a tool that groups of professional mountain climbers use. We all tie a string of rope to ourselves that way if one of us loses grip, we won’t fall to our death.”
SpongeBob gulped at the thought of it. “Are you sure it’s safe up there, Plankton?” he asked in a small voice.
“Of course I’m sure.” Plankton assured while on the edge of losing his patience. “Now let’s go already before I lose more than my grip.”
He tossed the rope to SpongeBob and walked off ahead. After which, Squidward walked over and snatched the rope away and tied it around his waist. “Let’s just get this over with.”
Soon, the four were all tied together and began to make their way up the mountain. This became one instance where SpongeBob was thankful he had fingers, or trying to grab hold of the slippery ledge would be more difficult than it already was. Squidward did the same as he followed behind SpongeBob, his forehead sweating as he held Patrick at the same time, who was hanging by the rope, swinging back and forth in enjoyment.
“That’s it.” Plankton called as he sat atop SpongeBob’s head, “Just a little further, boys.”
After they climbed half-way up the mountain, SpongeBob, Patrick, and Squidward began to slowly walk alongside the ledge on the side of the mountain with their backs firmly against the wall as they inch their way across. Squidward desperately tried to keep his eyes upward in an attempt to not look down at the long drop below.
An hour later, the group went through a short tunnel going through the mountain. When they exited the tunnel, they came out onto a large stable ledge which Patrick collapsed on. SpongeBob went over to help him up.
“SpongeBob,” Patrick said as he looked up. “I’m tired and hungry.”
“I know, Patrick. I am too.” SpongeBob responded in a soft tone as he held his best friend. “Maybe we should rest here for a while.”
“For once, I agree with you.” Squidward said before turning his head to look out at the darkening sky. “Let’s just rest here and get some sleep.”
Plankton didn’t seem thrilled with the idea, but after taking into consideration that the ones who actually did the climbing should try and get their energy back for the rest of the way, he eventually agreed.
SpongeBob flopped on his back and stared up at the gloomy gray sky which clashed with his usual optimistic smile that was now on his face along with the cold gray stone that surrounded him.
He rested his arms behind his head and folded his legs to try and relax for a bit. “Hey guys?” he asked, trying to start up a conversation, “What are we all gonna do once we get back home to Bikini Bottom?”
“What are you saying, SpongeBob?” Patrick asked curiously as he went over to SpongeBob and sat by him.
“Well, I was thinking…Once we free Hoagie’s soul and return home, do you think we’ll be praised by everyone as heroes for all the hard work we’ve done?”
“Wow,” Patrick said amazed. “I hadn’t even thought of that.”
Then Squidward entered their conversation, “As much as I myself think I deserve that, all we’re doing is throwing a spatula into a volcano. There’s nothing heroic about it.”
“Aww man.” Patrick groaned and lowered his head in disappointment. “I wanted to be a hero.”
SpongeBob placed a comforting hand on his shoulder. “It’s okay, Patrick. You’ll always be a hero to me. In fact, I think we’re all heroes for the favor we’re doing for Hoagie.” Patrick brightened up a bit at this, and SpongeBob asked, “So tell me, Pat, what are you gonna do once we get back?”
“Oh, you know,” Patrick easily answered. “I’m gonna eat a sandwich, sleep in bed, and send Clarice another pen.”
“Wow, that’s fascinating.” SpongeBob replied with a smile. “Maybe you should add ‘have an exciting day of jellyfishing with your best friend’ to that list. After all, who could forget the miraculous encounter we had with a certain jellyfish a couple days ago?”
He and Patrick share a laugh while Squidward did his best to ignore them and eat some bread he pulled out of Patrick’s fridge. But it wasn’t long till SpongeBob decided to invite him in anyway.
“Hey Squidward,” SpongeBob called as he sat up to face him. “What are you gonna do once we get back home.”
Squidward swallowed a piece of the bread and turned his head toward the two. “Well, if you must know,” he began answering. “The first thing I’m gonna do is take a bath in order to wash this filth of the wilderness off of my skin, and then go back to living the horrible life I’m forced to endure every day.”
SpongeBob giggled innocently at this. “You must be itching to get back now.” Then he turned to his other side to see Plankton leaning against the stone wall, minding his own business. “How about you, Plankton? What are gonna do?”
“Me?” Plankton asked until he thought about it and answered with a smile, “Why, I’ll be running a successful restaurant known as the Chum Bucket, serving irresistible food which no mortal can’t help but enjoy, all the while plowing the Krusty Krab out of business.”
He finished off with an evil laugh, not realizing that SpongeBob had stopped listening and got a look of concern on his face.
“That’s right…” the sponge said, now looking a bit somber as he lied back down. “Now that Mr. Krabs is gone, what’s gonna happen to the Krusty Krab?”
“Who cares?” Squidward groaned as he placed his travel pack on the ground and lied on top of it. “It’ll either be run by someone else or shut down. And if we’re lucky, it’ll be the latter.”
He faced his back toward SpongeBob and went to sleep, but SpongeBob lied on the ground, looking even more concerned about the future than he already did. “But that can’t possibly be the end.” SpongeBob denied, “Going back home and never making krabby patties again. I just can’t live with that.”
“Don’t worry, SpongeBob.” Patrick calmly assured with his eyes closed as if he were about to fall asleep any second. “That can be something else we can do once we get back home…. Think of a way…to…” but before he could finish, he started snoring loudly, now fast asleep.
SpongeBob couldn’t really guess what Patrick was gonna suggest that would help solve his problem. But knowing Patrick like he did, it was probably something that would truly help him. Afterwards, SpongeBob yawned and closed his eyes to get some well-deserved sleep before they had to start another hike over the mountain.
“Oh, don’t worry, SpongeBob.” Plankton assured sinisterly as he rested against the wall, far from the group. “Maybe if you do the right thing and give me the spatula, you can come work for me and help the spatula cook dozens of krabby patties to make me successful.”
He gave one more evil chuckle before closing his eye and going to sleep with a confident grin.