Chapter 2 Rescued!
“What happened here, Captain?” Captain Yar of the Scoundrel asked while shaking hands with Captain Tock.
Evading the question, Captain Tock responded, “That is a mighty impressive vessel you have, Captain. Will she fit all of my crew?”
“Our holds are empty, if you don’t mind second class accommodations. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. What happened to your vessel, Captain?” Captain Yar repeated.
Mr. Anderson perked his ears up so he wouldn’t miss the response. The sound of the surf crashing against the rocks and the wind humming in his ears made it difficult to hear. “I picked up these lubbers, y’see,” Captain Tock began fabricating a tale, “the coming out through the shoals we were carrying too much weight. A bit of nasty weather, and no amount of faircraft could save us.”
“That’s a sad tale, Captain. I suppose you’ve salvaged what you can from the wreckage?”
“There’s no wreckage to be found,” Captain Tock spread his arms wide, inviting the other sailor to see for himself. “She was a great ship, Lisa’s Pride. Now taken by the very sea she so adroitly sailed.” Both captains removed their hats and placed them over their hearts to honor the lost vessel, then observed a minute of silence.
When the minute was over, they put their hats back on and Captain Yar said, “I’ve got three boats to ferry your folks out to the Scoundrel.”
“And I’ve got three tiny skiffs. But with this group, it will take several hours,” Captain Tock added.
“The sooner we get started, the sooner we can finish,” Captain Yar agreed.
Both captains started barking orders at their respective crews, and the shuttling of the castaways to the Scoundrel began.
“Daddy?” Jen said, tugging at Mr. Anderson’s sleeve.
He took his eyes off of the activity and gave his attention to his daughter. “Yes?” he responded.
“I don’t want to go on that ship,” she said.
“But that’s our rescue ship,” he explained.
“I’ve got a bad feeling about it.”
“What kind of feeling?”
“I don’t like it.”
“Now, sweetheart, be reasonable,” he said.
“I don’t trust that captain,” she wrapped her arms around his waist and gave him a squeeze.
“Captain Tock seems to trust him, mostly.” He had listened to Captain Tock’s made-up story that did not reveal their travel through the portal. “Grab the other girls and let’s get into a boat. Bring what food we have left in backpacks.”
“Okay, Daddy,” Jen sighed. “But I still don’t trust him.”
Those with experience manned the oars – even a few women – and worked tirelessly to move everyone out to the Scoundrel, which was anchored at a safe distance. The four humans climbed aboard a small boat from a rock that jutted out into the water. Mr. Anderson held one side of the bow to stabilize it while the girls clambered aboard. Even so, it was not easy while the waves moved the boat up and down, while each footstep, each shift in body weight rocked the boat back and forth.
Two of Tock’s sailors traded off the rowing duties, so they pushed off as soon as everyone was seated. Princess Nallah, Mowbry and Budrick were already on the Scoundrel. The crossing out to the anchored ship was uncomfortable for Jen, who felt herself turning a little green with the constant rocking and rolling of the tiny boat in the big waves. She managed to not get sick until they pulled alongside the bigger vessel. She looked up at the rope ladder and could no longer contain herself, but put her head over the side and let herself heave. The two rowers chuckled.
“Give me your backpack,” Daddy instructed.
She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, and slid the backpack over to him with her other hand. He grabbed the backpack and hefted it onto one shoulder. She put her dirty hand into the water to wash the sick from it. “Wow,” Daddy exclaimed. “Your pack is really heavy! Did you fill it with rocks?”
“Just food, Daddy,” she moaned, still not feeling well.
“You go up the ladder first,” he said.
She shook her head.
“Julie, you go up first,” he amended. “Jen, watch how it’s done.”
Julie grabbed a backpack and climbed into the shoulder harness, then she stood up and stepped over to the rope ladder as it swung against and away from the side of the ship with the rolling of the waves. She gripped the side ropes tightly, then proceeded to climb slowly, rung by rung. The rungs on the ladder were also made of rope, and they were not easy to climb as her feet kept rolling off the wet and slippery ropes.
Jen watched somberly as Julie missed the third rung and stepped through the rope completely, landing against it with the back of her thigh. When she tried to step out, a sudden movement of the ladder made her miss one handhold, and with only one hand on the rope, she swung wildly out into open space, then slammed hard against the hull of the ship. She still hung on, and regained her grip and her footing, and finally made it to the top where helping hands eagerly assisted her aboard.
“She made it look too easy,” Gina said sarcastically.
“Gina, you go next,” Mr. Anderson said.
“Yes, Mr. Anderson.” She donned her backpack and climbed up slowly and steadily, pausing at the appropriate moments when the ladder was swinging back to the ship, and she made it to the top without any issues.
“I don’t want to, Daddy,” she complained.
“Would you rather stay on the boat?” he asked. “Or maybe row yourself back to Cave Island?”
“No,” she sighed.
She stood, holding her arms out for balance, with her father right behind her with his hands out to catch her should she fall. She grabbed onto the ladder and started climbing. She paused as the ladder swung toward the hull, then continued as it swung away. She made it to the top with no mistakes, and Mr. Anderson followed right behind her. “That wasn’t so hard, now was it?” he asked after a deck hand helped him aboard.
“After watching Julie, I was afraid I was going to fall into the sea!” Jen exclaimed, still a little greenish after getting sick, but her color was quickly returning.
Julie blushed a little. Gina came to her defense. “She only did that to make it look harder than it was.” Julie blushed even more as the other girls laughed, mostly because the ordeal was over.
A tall man with a scar on his face – from his left temple to his chin – came over and without introduction addressed Mr. Anderson. “You and your family will bunk in the forward cargo hold. Follow me.” He led them t the forward hatch and lifted the massive wooden lid to reveal a deep, dark hole. A wooden ladder sunk into the depths.
“There’s no light down there,” Mr. Anderson objected.
“You’ll have to make your own,” the sailor replied.
“Could we at least get a lantern?”
“I’m not familiar with that word,” the sailor replied dismissively. He did not seem interested in educating himself. “Down you go.”
Mr. Anderson climbed down the ladder first, feeling his way rung by rung until he reached the bottom. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out his cell phone. Jen stood at the top of the ladder with the scar-faced sailor prodding her to go down. Mr. Anderson turned his cell phone on and Jen was relieved to see the weak glow of the screen as it warmed up. Before she got to the bottom-most rung she saw the base of the ladder bathed in bright light. Daddy had turned on the flashlight feature.
“Keep it on for Julie and Gina,” Jen advised as she latched on to Daddy’s unoccupied arm.
This time Julie had no problems getting down, and Gina followed right behind her.
“It’s dark,” Gina commented about the hold.
“And it smells,” Julie added.
Mr. Anderson shined the beam of the phone around the dank space and, in addition to some scummy water lapping up from the bilge through cracks in the deck, they heard leathery scurrying sounds just out of rang of the flashlight beam. Mr. Anderson turned the flashlight feature off and they heard the scurrying noises again, louder this time. When he flashed the light back on, they saw several small winged lizard-like creatures, with large buck teeth.
The girls shrieked and Mr. Anderson couldn’t help but gasp. The creatures looked like some form of hideous monster – part iguana, part bat, and part rat. They scattered like cockroaches and slipped through the cracks in the deck, disappearing into the fetid bilge water below.
Before they could recover their composure, more people started descending the ladder. “Ahoy below! Mind if we join you?” a familiar voice called.
“Please do, Sir Mowbry,” Mr. Anderson replied to the former captain of the royal guard of Tole.
“That light from your little square wand is quite impressive. Even I would have trouble matching it.”
The girls were still stunned. “You missed them!” Jen wailed. “They were ugly and nasty.”
“They looked evil!” Gina added.
“Were they green with black wings and orange teeth?” Mowbry suggested.
“That’s it!” Julie cried, pointing at Mowbry and putting one finger on her own nose, as if he had guessed the right answer in a game of charades.
“Blats,” Mowbry informed them. “Hideous little beasts, but they help keep everything tidy by devouring all that is unpleasant. I can’t love them, but I can’t hate them either.”
Mr. Anderson noticed that a phosphorescent glow was appearing around Mowbry, so he switched his cell phone off. Budrick soon joined them, and Maylu, and Lefty, and several others until the hold was filled to capacity.
“Why did you turn your wand off, Sir Dave?” Mowbry asked.
“With all of you providing light, I can conserve my power,” Mr. Anderson answered.
This simple explanation seemed to strike a nerve with Mowbry. “I see,” he mumbled, and then pushed his way through the crowd seemingly to get away from Mr. Anderson.
“What did I say?” Mr. Anderson asked rhetorically, to nobody in particular.
“They don’t understand the concept of batteries. Mr. Mowbry thought you were creating light the way they do,” Julie offered.
“You said that since they were doing the work, you could slack off,” Gina explained.
“You said that you are lazy,” Jen reiterated.
“I will have to have a discussion with him to clear this up,” Mr. Anderson said, now that he understood the nature of the miscommunication. “That is, if I can find him, and if he will let me explain.” He turned and squeezed himself into the glowing crowd.
Jen turned to the other two girls. “Has anybody seen Princess Nallah?”
Gina shook her head. Julie looked around and tapped a short young man on the shoulder. “Excuse me, Mr. Budrick sir.”
“You don’t have to mister me, Miss Julie. I’m just Budrick.” He was obviously flattered and a little embarrassed by her formality.
“I’m sorry,” she apologized. “Have you seen Princess Nallah?”
“She was taken to the aft section. I don’t know why.”
“Do you know how long they are going to keep us down here?”
“I imagine for a while, until we reach our destination.”
“And what or where is our destination?” Julie asked.
“I have no idea, Miss Julie.”
“Thank you for your time, Mister Budrick.”
“My pleasure, Miss Julie,” Budrick gave a little bow.
Julie relayed her information to Jen, who was outraged. “How can we talk to her if she’s not around?” she shrieked. She grabbed the ladder and started to climb. “Hey, you guys need to take me to Princess Nallah!” she tried to make her voice heard above. Before she reached the top of the ladder, the hatch slammed shut. She pushed on the heavy lid to open it, but it wouldn’t budge. “Hey! Let me out!” She pounded on the hatch and the general chatter in the hold hushed to silence. “We’re locked in!” Jen exclaimed.
They went to work as a team, some trying to repel the hatch, others trying to shrink it, transform it, blast it, and Lefty the one-armed Fire Master even tried to burn it.
“Ladies and Gentlemen!” Mowbry shouted above the din, “Ladies and Gentlemen!” he repeated, and finally the crowd hushed to silence. “I am afraid we seem to be at the mercy of our captors.”