Chapter 17 Nightmare
Gasping for air, I keep trying to stay above water and hold Louie at the same time.
“Louie, hold on,” I say as I slip below the ocean water.
A hammerhead shark sweeps by me, tagging my shin ever so slightly, just enough to leave a brush burn. I can feel it stinging. There’s a swarm of sharks below me, but they’re laughing. I can hear them laughing when I’m underwater. I’m falling, holding my shin. Poor Louie is falling too. I try to reach him but the waves take him further away from me. I can barely see him now, and I can’t breathe. My lungs take in a rush of a wave of water and I struggle to breathe. Then I’m floating below the waves and above the sharks, slowly sinking. There’s a light just ahead, it’s a house, a beach house. I try to swim for it but the light turns dark and I can’t see it anymore. “Wait!” I yell. I can’t breathe. Coughing and holding my neck for air, I’m afraid to open my eyes. Wait, I can breathe. I’m in my house, on the couch.
“Louie? Louie?” I shout, looking around me.
Then I hear a squeak. He’s on the floor, nuzzled in my shirt.
“Hey little guy, you ok?” I ask.
He squints a few times and then he’s coughing too and trying to breathe.
“I had a bad dream that I was drowning, Princess,” he says.
His eyes open wide and he blinks few times at me. I feel so protective of him.
“It’s ok Louie,” I tell him. “It was just a nightmare. I think I was there too. But we have to get going and meet everyone, now.”
I put Louie back in the ski sock and into the backpack pocket. Where is everyone? It must be early morning before the sun is up. We have a long road ahead of us if we are going to a beach.
I pour some sugar in a bag for the moles and put it in my backpack. I look around. I look into my mom’s room to find that my mom is still sleeping. Dave is up, reading the paper in bed. I need to get some money from my mom’s purse.
“Hi.” I whisper to Dave as I peak in to check on my mom.
“Hi, Sweetie,” he says. “Where are you off to at this hour?”
I look over my shoulder and my backpack is full and I look like I’m going on a hike with my sweatshirt tied around my waist. I have my sneakers on, jeans, and a black t-shirt. I tied my hair up in a messy bun. I almost never wear it like that, but I need it off my shoulders. I reach in my pocket for a chap stick, opening it up and putting it on my lips.
“Just a hike, ahh camping, staying over at Violet’s tonight,” I say. “For my environmental science class. We’re going into the woods to look at stuff, I guess.”
I don’t know what to tell Dave. He wouldn’t understand. He just looks at me, smiling.
“Have fun,” he says and goes back to reading.
I reach over to my Mom’s purse, take out a few twenties and a few tens, and smile at Dave. “Goodbye,” I mumble.
Walking outside, I feel confident that going to make it to Omynora through the ocean, but my nightmare is still in the back of my mind haunting me. I keep visualizing the hammerhead shark hitting my shin and when I do, my leg stings. It feels so real. I walk around back and Miles Jon and Violet are sitting under the Oak tree.
“Why didn’t you guys get me, I’ve been waiting for you.” I ask, annoyed.
“Wanted you to sleep.” Miles says, his wings clunking around as he gets up to check on me.
“We found the channel, with Red’s poem. It’s a long way.” Says Violet worried.
“We’ll be fine.” Says Jon, optimistic as always.
“Well, it’s Saturday morning we have two days. And it takes about 30 hours to get there by car. That’s an entire day and a half and none of us can drive.” Violet takes the map and put it in her backpack. “I told my mom I was camping out here for the weekend.”
“I told mine I was camping at your house too so we are good.” I say.
“We can find a truck to hitch a ride that would be awesome.” Says Jon.
“None of this is awesome.” Miles says, annoyed.
“Ok let’s go we have to tell Red.” I interrupt them before they start fighting.
We head to the zoo. We all have back packs on filled with food and cloths and weapons we might need. Jon has a baseball bat sticking out of his and Violet has a few hair spray bottles.
“Hair spray?” I ask as we walk.
“It could blind them, the muck demons, for a few minutes.” She says excitedly.
“Oh yeah, you ’re right.” I smile.
Miles is flying around, checking on us as we walk to the zoo to see Red. When we finally get to Red’s cage, he swoops down to meet us.
“Princess,” Red says and nods his head.
“Hello, Red,” I reply.
He looks tired and greyer than he was the last time I saw him. He’s coughing and covering his mouth a lot. Jon gets up and gives me a half hug, holding onto me.
“You ok, Opie?” he asks. “You look worried.”
I give a half smile.
“I’m ok,” I say. “Thank Jon.”
Jon smiles back and holds my shoulder as I kneel to see the map. Tiny jumps on my shoulders and gives me a hug. Myrtle and Gibbons scurry out of my backpack as I take it off. Louie is sleeping. I can hear him squeaking as he breathes in and out.
“We need to find the three channels,” Violet says as he puts his hand over the oceans on the map. “Follow the shells until orange meets blue. Well, I see a bunch of points. There’s Marco Island in Florida, Inlet Beach, South Carolina, and.... Well, there are a few beaches in California with points, too.”
We look for a few minutes and it seems like we should look along the Pacific coast of California. Tiny jumps from my shoulders and onto Red’s back. He looks like he’s tired.
“Orange County,” Jon says. “Where orange meets blue.”
“But which beach?” I ask, sighing. “There are so many.”
“Probably one with a pier,” says Miles, “so the dolphins can drop off the mermaids and they can transform and get to shore.”
“San Clemente,” Vi points. “Look, it has a long pier, and it’s right at the north of Orange County.”
I look up at Red. He’s staring at the map. Then he looks over at me and smiles. He slams down his stick and scares Tiny, who jumps into Jon’s arms.
“Go now,” he says coughing, “You must hurry hmmm. When you get to the beach, you must find the donax clams. You will need handfuls hmm when the tide is low before dark. They are tiny with colorful shells. They look like painted fingernails on the sand. Go to the end of the pier and drop them in, hmm.” He stops to cough. “The dolphins will eat them” He clears his throat. “And they will send a signal. They will know who you are, hmm. They will put a bubble of air around you and lead you to the channel to Omynora. Be safe hmm. Oh, and watch out...” he stops to cough again and tiny pats him on the back. “For the guardians of Omynora.”
He slams his stick down again and Tiny jumps on his back.
“How are we going to get to California?” I ask as I watch Red and Tiny walk away.
“Let’s go see Horizon before we go,” I suggest.
“Wait. Horizon is at the Vet Hospital at the center of the Zoo. You can’t get in. Tiny tried. He could see through the window and Horizon was sleeping. So, that means he’s healing, right?” Miles says, shaking his head at me yes.
I can tell he’s worried when he tells me this.
“They are taking Horizon to another hospital this morning,” he says.
“We need to see Horizon before they take him.” I say.
Miles leads us to where they are keeping him. Horizon is on an enormous table and they’re putting him into a big van.
“I guess we need to hitch a ride,” says Jon.
“I’ll follow up above.” Miles hugs me and kisses me on the cheek and then the lips. “Keep your watch settings on high so we can communicate, Jon.” Miles fly’s up above us and disappears.
The van says “Vetting Zoo.” On it. The license plates are from Pennsylvania. We jump in the back of the van just in time. And hide under the table. I sit by Horizon the whole way and hug him. I can’t feel him talking to me. He’s asleep. I cry and feel scared. I put my head on Jon’s shoulder and drift to sleep myself.
“Opie, wake up. We’re here.”
I open my eyes, and Horizon is gone.
“Why didn’t you wake me?” I yell at Jon.
“I didn’t want to risk being seen.” He says.
“We were hiding under the bed, Opal.” Violet chimes in.
“It’s ok,” I tell him. “I just, I...” tears stream down my cheeks.
He gets down on his knees and looks me in the eye.
“Hey,” he says, “It’s going to be ok. Look ahead and think positive that we will make it. Envision Horizon in Omynora, safe, flying around, playing and happy with his family. That’s the best you can do for him right now. The fury feeds off negativity. That’s how it gets its power. We can’t think negative thoughts or it will trap us again and next time it might win.”
He kisses me on the forehead and takes my hand. I don’t know what to say. I guess I’m always thinking the worst can happen before I think of the good. When is the good supposed to come? Jon is good. So is Miles. Where is he, anyway? I smile to myself and take my Chapstick out of my pocket. Hm, this one is almost gone.