Chapter 16 Timesman Worms
Staring at the moon, I think about how Louie would fit in Omynora. I think any animal would be welcome there. I’ve been sleeping since I got home from school and it’s almost midnight. I lie down and try to close my eyes, but I’m wide awake thinking too much. I wish Miles was here. I need someone to talk to that understands. Where is he, anyway? I need to ask my mom about the Timesman worms. I don’t even know how to bring it up. If I could bring the worms back to Omynora, maybe everything would be normal again.
I can’t sleep so I’m going to look around. I look in the hall closet. I don’t even know what I’m looking for. There’s nothing in here but old blankets they smell musty. Hm, this must be a baby blanket. It’s still so soft. I rub it on my cheek. What’s this? It looks like a shoe box. I giggle. That would be way too easy. I curl up on the floor with my baby blanket and the box. I open it up. It has all my baby stuff in it: pacifier, barrette, hat from the hospital. There’s an old DVD tape in here. It’s blank. There’s no title on it. Hm.
I take it downstairs to the TV and put it in the DVD player. There’s fuzz, it’s me. I’m a baby. It must be the day I was born. There’s my mom. She is holding me; my dad is talking from behind the video.
“What should we call her?” asks my mom.
“Sunshine,” says my dad.
“No,” my mom says, laughing.
Then my dad turns himself around and sits next to my mom and props the camera up so I can see all of us.
“Opal,” he says as he touches my cheeks. “She looks like an Opal.”
“Opal is beautiful,” says my mom.
Then the camera fades out. That was my dad. I don’t remember him. I have a picture but I have forgotten how he talks and laughs. He had such a great smile. I rewound the DVD. He looked so strong and confident. I cry. My mom looked so beautiful.
I turn around fast, wiping my tears from my eyes.
“Mom, you startled me.”
“What are you doing?” She asks. She sounds nervous.
“I couldn’t sleep so I started rummaging through some stuff.
“Your baby blanket,” she says, “is still so soft.”
She puts it up to her face like I did. She smells it and smiles.
I pause the DVD on my dad’s face.
“Your dad was so handsome,” my mom says, smiling, and crying too. “He had such a powerful personality. Everyone loved him. He could talk to anyone. I miss him so much. I wish you could have known him.”
“I know me too. I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately.”
“Mom, where are the worms?” I ask.
She doesn’t look at me. She keeps her eyes on my dad and takes in a deep breath.
“Worms?” she asks. “What are you talking about, sweetie?”
“Mom, don’t. I know everything. I need to get the worms back to Omynora before it’s too late.”
“NO!” She gets up, furious.
“What do you mean no?” I cry.
“Your father cannot come back without them.”
She cries again.
“Mom, it’s ok. I know how to get Dad back. I just need the worms. Please trust me.”
She looks at me for a long time. I stand there, holding my ground.
“Mom, trust me,” I say again.
“But you’re just a girl,” she says, walking toward me holding my chin up.
“I’m a princess,” I say, lifting my head confidently.
“On the day you were born your mark glowed as strong as the moon light up to the sky” she pulls down my shirt to see my birthmark. “I was so scared for you, but I also new you were very special. I forgot about it glowing until today. I am supposed to give you something.” She nods her head and she takes a step back and walks into her bedroom. I follow her. She has a vanity by her bed. She opens the drawer and there is a box. The box has a key. It has jewels on it and it’s blue. She looks at me. I used to play with that key when I was little; I remember holding it.
“Wait in the living room so we don’t wake Dave,” she says and walks to her closet. She grabs a stool to step on and reaches in the back of her closet for a box. It’s huge and copper colored, and it also has jewels all over it.
I walk into the living room. That box; the worms are in there; they have to be. I breathe heavy. My mom comes into the living room with the box. It has a mystical image on it of a unicorn with wings. The entire box is copper and old looking. It looks alive. As she brings it closer to me, the unicorn moves. Its eyes glow and stare at me. It’ so beautiful.
She passes me the key.
“I can’t open this,” she says. “Only someone from Omynora can.”
She keeps looking at the top of the box. She won’t look at me. I take the box and hold it with one arm and take the key from my mom and gently place it in the keyhole in the box’s front.
“Opal, wait! I can’t lose you, too.” My mom looks so desperate.
“It’s ok, Mom. I need to do this.”
As I open the box, light shows through it, like the sun on my hand, and it whispers, chanting something I don’t recognize. The box flies open and my mom falls on the floor. Then the lights dim and I can see what’s in the box. There are huge worms in the box. They are drifting, slowly. They look dry.
“Oh no,” I say out loud, “Myrtle and Gibbons, they need to hydrate the worms and keep them safe.”
“Mom! Mom, are you ok?” I realize she fell. She is sitting crying. Holding her eyes to her face.
“Mom, I’ll be fine. You will not lose me.” I say, reassuring her. “I have to get these worms back. Is there anything else you can tell me? Mom, please!” I plead with her. She holds her head up and gives me a hug. She touches the box and looks inside.
“You need to go. It’s fine. I know nothing. All I know is when you ’re sixteen I’m supposed to take you to the ocean. I just ordered the tickets today because your birthday is coming up and I remembered your father telling me when you ’re sixteen, I have to take you to see Dr. Walsh in California. She is a marine biologist and lives near the ocean. I have her address. But I don’t know why. I haven’t thought of her in years. I think we used to be friends but I don’t remember.” She hugs me frantically.
“It’s ok Mom. It’s going to be ok.” I hug her back. “You’ll forget when I’m gone.” I reassure her. “I love you mom.” I hug her tightly.
I run out of the living room and upstairs to change. I put the box on my bed but I keep my eye on it the whole time. I can’t let anything happen to it. I need to get to the zoo. I put the box in my backpack. It barely fits. Louie is asleep, so I put him on my pillow and tuck in the surrounding covers. He’ll be safe here until I get back.
My mom isn’t happy about me leaving in the middle of the night, but she understands. She doesn’t even ask me questions.
I look around for Miles, but he isn’t anywhere to be found. I should see if Jon is awake. I go to his house and take a small rock and hit his window with it. I see nothing, so I do it again.
The window opens slowly and Jon peeks his head out. “Hello!” He whispers.
“Hi!” I say, just as quietly.
“I’ll be right down.” He says, closing the window.
I sit on the swing set in his back yard I remember swinging in these. I wonder what would have happened if he didn’t move away. Would we have been friends maybe he would have been my boyfriend? Jon comes out. He is wearing sweatpants and is holding his shirt. He walks towards me and puts his shirt on. I can barely look at him. I’m so embarrassed. He is very muscular. I know my face is searing red as he sits on the swing next to me.
“Hi!” Jon says, smiling with the side of his mouth. He looks tired.
“Hi!” I say back. Barely able to look at him in the eyes.
We both just swing slowly on the swings. He puts his foot on mine and just keeps it there while we swing.
“It’s, almost midnight aren’t we meeting at your house?” He asks. Looking at his watch, remembering we are supposed to meet. He presses a button, and a light goes off. Its flashing red. He presses another button, and it flashes blue. He tries to turn it off, but it is very complicated. I giggle.
“I don’t know how to use this thing.” He laughs a little as he yawns. “Ok princess. Are we meeting Violet and Miles?” He looks around, wondering where Miles is.
“I need to get to Omynora. Did you and Vi look at the map and figure it out? I need to get here as soon as I can and help.” I say. I open my backpack to show him the box with the worms. I look around nervously, making sure no one is watching.
“Ok, lets figure it out.” he says.
“You don’t understand. The timesman worms I have them in my backpack. My mom had them hidden in her closet they look weak. I need to get them to Omynora.” I stand up and hold my pack tightly. He gets up and puts his arms around me. Just holding me for a few seconds. As he does, all my fears fade away and I almost forget everything.
“So, the box, was it cool when you opened it?” Jon asks. Letting me go slowly.
He stops and looks at me. He looks eager to find out.
“It was amazing! But something is wrong with the worms.” I say. “We need to get to Myrtle and Gibbins. They’ll know what to do.”
“Don’t worry, Opie, everything is going to be ok,” he says. “Wait here, ok.” He goes back inside to change. He comes out quickly with jeans and his backpack.
He puts his arm around my shoulder, and we walk to the Zoo. We walk to our spot, where Ty helped us over to the gate. He’s right there waiting for us. I go first, then Jon.
“Hi, Princess, what’s up?” asks Ty, greeting me.
“I found the Timesman worms. I need to get to Myrtle and Gibbons,” I reply.
“Ok,” says Ty. “You need to visit Red.”
Waving goodbye to the elephants, we head to the monkeys. Passing the lions’ den and the bears, I notice everyone is sleeping. Even though the monkeys are asleep, as we pass, each one pokes open one eye and then closes it.
We get to the last cage, and Red is there waiting.
“Princess, where is the smart girl?” says Red.
I pull the box from my bag. Red’s eyes get big as he watches carefully, then I gently take it out of my bag. I open the box with the key and show them the worms.
“I think they are dying,” I say. “I need to find Myrtle and Gibbons to help.”
Red bumps his elbow to his backpack and Tiny flies out of it and into Jon’s arms.
“Go get the moles,” Red gestures to Tiny.
Tiny stands at attention and puts his hand up to his forehead and says, “Yes sir!” Then he’s gone.
It seems like forever until finally Tiny comes back. This time he has a backpack on. The moles are so tiny that they fit in it perfectly. Tiny throws the backpack over to me, and the moles roll out. They each have backpacks of their own.
They gather themselves together and sarcastically say, “Thanks, Tiny.”
Again, he stands at attention, salutes, and crawls into Jon’s arms and closes his eyes.
I open the box again to show the worms to the moles.
“Oh my gosh,” says Gibbons.
Myrtle just stands there watching the worms as they barely make it around in a circle.
“Poor things,” she says.
They each grab water squirters from their bags and jump on the sides of the box to get closer and start hydrating the worms. The worms lift their mouths and suck in the water. Then Gibbins and Myrtle spread out a red soft seed, and it looks like the worms are eating it. They puff up a bit and are moving faster.
“Thank you so much,” I say. “Now how do I get them to Omynora?” I look at Red, waiting for him to have an answer.
Red turns away from me and takes a deep breath.
“The only way to get there now, hmm, is through the three channels hmm. They are near the ocean, hmm. It’s very dangerous and you may not make it there.”
He stares at me and his eyes glisten and turn white:
“One of three channels will lead your way,
One of three channels to the brightest day.
Follow the shells until orange meets blue,
The dolphins will greet you and take you, too.”
Then his eyes turn normal again, and he slams down his stick.
“Remember, my words to find your way to the ocean. You will need a map, hmm, and the smart girl. Princess, good luck hmm.” Red starts to cough and Tiny jumps on his shoulders. They disappear into the night. Myrtle and Gibbins are still tending to the worms.
“Will the two of you come with us?” I ask.
They did not hesitate. They put their bags on and stand up next to the box.
“Of course, we will,” says Myrtle. “You’ll need our help to take care of the worms. Plus, we can’t get to Omynora to take care of the other worms. Without us, they will dry up and slow down. When the worms slow down, time speeds up and everything gets older.”
Gibbins nods. “Yep, that’s why we are so important.”
Myrtle slaps him across the back of his head and shakes her head at him.
“What?” he asks.
“Nothing is more important than keeping Omynora safe,” says Myrtle.
They’re funny. Gibbins nods, and then both creep inside my backpack with the box. Jon and I look at each other like we know exactly what to do.
“I’ll text Vi and have her meet us.” Jon says.
“I’ll text Miles.” I say.
We walk back to my house.
Miles jumps down in front of us, stopping us in our tracks. He has his wings spread out. They are sharp and glistening in the moonlight. He relaxes them behind him.
“Don’t you think someone will see you flying around?” Jon asks, looking
Miles ignores him. And kisses me on the cheek.
“Are you ok?” He asks softly touching my face with his hand and looking at me from feet to head making sure all my pieces are together.
I nod and smile, but I feel like I’m about to cry. “I found the timesman worms and we, we...” I can’t talk anymore I cry so hard. Miles holds me tight, letting me cry it out.
“Your, going to love Omynora, princess.” Miles says. Letting me go so he can look me in the eye. “All the creatures will love you just as much as I do.”
“My mom and Dave I-I.” Is all I can get out.
“No, you can see them, don’t worry, you can see them anytime you want.” He nods his head at me and smiles.
“Are you sure?” I ask, wiping tears from my face.
“Yes, don’t worry, let’s get you there. Ok?” Miles puts his arms around me and the three of us walk back to my house.
Miles and Jon drop me off and make sure I’m safe. They scan the yard for any fury’s or muck demons and get Violet.
Alone again, I feel scared, but hopeful. I look in on my mom when I get home. She’s sleeping with my baby blanket in her arms. I get the DVD and I write a note on the counter that says, “Play me over and over every day. I’ll be back soon. Love, Opal.”
I go upstairs and check on Louie. He’s awake. I tell him we have to take a trip. I find a huge skiing sock and tie the bottom in a knot and stuff my shirt that he was sleeping with in it. Then I put Louie right on top. He fits perfectly. He looks like a little doll. I stuff the sock on the side of my backpack and his little head sticks out of it. He’s so cute. I pack a change of clothes and a few Chapstick. Then I go downstairs to the fridge and get some fruit and put it in my bag. The moles, I almost forgot they were in there.
“Hey guys, are you ok? What do you eat?” I ask.
Gibbins runs out of the bag and notices a bowl of sugar on the counter. He scurries over to it, then stops fast in his tracks and seems scared of something. He steps back slowly. I put my hand behind him and he sits right in it.
“H-h-honey,” he can barely get the word out.
“It’s ok. I don’t eat it anymore. You like sugar?”
He looks up at me confused then smiles and says, “Why yes, everyone in Omynora loves sugar. It keeps us energized.”
Hmmm, I think. Maybe that’s why I love fruit so much.
“Yep, that’s why,” says Gibbins.
I giggle, forgetting that the animals can read my thoughts. I better be careful with what I’m thinking. He runs into my pack and helps continue to help the worms. I lie on the couch for a little while. Holding my pack in my arms. Louie is sleeping. I lie down and try to think of Omynora and dream, but nothing. I drift off to sleep.