What a welcome call. My name is Sammy Gill,
the world's most seasick Koi.
"Land ho!" Kara Lee the Kyrii repeated. "Take
the boats Northwest." The rowers obeyed.
It seemed to take forever, but finally, the
boats hit the shore and my fins touched the warm sand. I leaped out of the lifeboat
giddily and did a little dance on the solid, firm, wonderful earth! "Marcus!"
I called absent-mindedly. "Come and dance!"
Jessica burst into tears and Arielle threw a
palm branch at me. "Were you not paying attention for the past three days?"
My friend snapped.
"Frankly… no. I was too busy trying to keep
my lunch in my stomach."
Ari explained the whole situation. Brenda was
missing. Marcus went down with the ship searching for Brenda. Captain NightLupe
was gone. First mate Kara Lee became Captain in his place. All of the pirates
had made it onto lifeboats.
I had a good cry about it, right there and then
on the beach. Then, Arielle threw another palm branch at me. "Quit wailing!
You're making it worse for Jessica. Let's focus on our own survival. We've been
three days without food; so let's find the nearest restaurant."
"I like the way ye think, Ari me lass," Flapp
the pirate-colored Scorchio said.
"Last 'un to the grub is a rotten tomato!" replied
Flapp's friend Flubb the Blumaroo.
Jessica stopped crying long enough to say, "I
think there's a shop somewhere. Follow me."
We trekked through miles of lush undergrowth
and dense forest. Mosquitoes bit us, leaving behind itchy red bumps. Some of
the pirates had never seen a mosquito before, being unused to land. Ari and
I assured them that the bumps would heal. "Sure glad we got landlubbers aboard,"
Finally, we found the shop. Kara Lee treated
everyone to exotic fruits and Maraquan cuisine. She called it her "promotion
celebration." The pirates pigged out, but Jessie barely touched her food.
"Eat up, Jessica," I urged the human. "You're
not going to do Brenda and Marcus any good my starving yourself."
"These foods are no match for Brenda's cooking,"
Arielle rolled her eyes. "Shut up and eat. You'll
need your strength if you're to be in tomorrow's search party."
"Search party?" Jessica perked up a bit.
"Didn't you hear? You've been elected to lead
the search for Brenda and Marcus. The pirates think they may still be alive!"
"Really? Wow. We'll start at dawn's first light
Jessica left to get a Juicy Melon. "You weren't
serious, were you?" I accused my friend.
"Hey, I got her to quit blubbering, right?"
Ari responded. "Gee, I can't stand self-pity."
It was my turn to throw a palm branch at her.
Light, a brilliant light. A dreamy atmosphere. Almost like the end of the
world or something. A voice, calling from far off. Was I… dead?
No, I hurt too much to be dead. The familiar
ache of stiffness spread through every muscle of my body. But where was I? There
was only one way to find out for sure. Slowly, I opened my eyes.
The light was coming from a lamp that someone
decided to shove in my face. The voices were the voices of Koi. "Dr. Scott,
I think he's waking."
An elderly blue Koi who I assumed was Dr. Scott
picked up the lamp and set it down on the other side of the room. "You're not
going to cure the patient by blinding him, Nurse Patricia." He growled fiercely.
"I thought you'd need light to see him by,"
a yellow-colored Nurse Patricia whined.
I took a good look at my surroundings. I was
in a rickety house made of twigs and grass. Dust collected on every surface
I could see. The reason for my stiffness was the fact that my bed was made of
solid granite. There was doctor's equipment everywhere, littering tables, chairs,
and even the floor. A heart monitor stood in one corner, useless without a plug
or socket. Dr. Scott was wearing a white lab coat and he had a stethoscope on
backwards. Nurse Patricia was young, barely older than me. She wore a simple
brown skirt and white blouse, and she held a clipboard. A name tag on her blouse
said, "My name is… Patricia Finn."
I coughed the last of the seawater out of my
lungs and introduced myself. "My name is Marcus Dino," I said politely. "Thank
you for rescuing me."
"It wasn't us who rescued you, my boy," Dr.
Scott said. "A young Peophin, she must have been a bit older than you. She was
quite mysterious. She said her name was… Daisy or something like that."
My face blanched as I remembered the last thing
I saw before I went under.
A pale white lily floating in the ocean.
"Was her name… Lily?"
"May have been. My old memory isn't what it
used to be. But she was white as snow. I've never seen a white Peophin before.
And she had two horn-like things on her face, one on her nose and one on her
forehead. That's the mark of a wild Peophin. One free as the wind, without a
human to care for it."
I barely processed this information. Waves of
shock kept running through my mind.
I was rescued by a myth! After all, Lily didn't
"Dr. Scott, Nurse Patricia, I'd like to thank
you for taking care of me. But I really have to leave. My friends are out there,
probably worried to death about me."
"Where are you going?" Nurse Patricia asked
"To find them, somehow. Don't worry. I'll search
"At least take this sack of rations with you
before you go. And this map. We're on Koi Isle, a tiny, unknown land mass about
ten miles from Mystery Island. There's an old kelp-covered boat somewhere around
here. You can use that. I hope you find your friends."
"Thanks. May good luck be with you."
With that, I dashed out of the building, got
in the boat and rowed west into the setting sun.
Dawn's first light crept silently upon the seashore, warming the sands with
its gentle touch. Birds were still fast asleep in their trees. So were the Mystery
Island natives. They weren't sleeping in trees; they were sleeping in cots,
of course. But I, Brenda Bushtail was up and about.
I gathered a few days' rations off of some fruit
trees outdoors. I carved a picture in the wood of my bedpost, symbolizing that
I had left to find my friends.
I started to leave, but then a funny feeling
crept over me. I couldn't leave without saying goodbye! What sort of heartless
monster would I be if I did that?
So, I waited until Kohuna Maki the village healer
had woken up. I gestured to my carving, then to my healed leg. Then, I gave
her a warm, loving embrace. "I know you can't understand what I'm saying," I
whispered into the old lady's ear. "But I can't thank you enough for everything
you've done for me. I felt almost at home. But I wasn't at home, and I'll never
be at home until I find my family and friends. I hope you'll forgive me for
running off like this." Tears streamed down my cheek. "But this is something
I have to do. Goodbye."
Then, I left Kohuna Maki's village forever.
I decided I'd have a good chance of finding
my friends if I traveled inland. It was lonely in the tropical forests. I sang
a little song to myself to cheer myself up. This was a lullaby Arielle and Jessica
had sung to me when I was an infant.
"When the sun sinks slowly o'er the western shores,
And sheep come to be counted in your head,
That's when it's time my little one
Time to go to bed.
"Sleep, sleep, have peaceful dreams,
And should a nightmare come,
I'll be there to chase fears away,
From now until dawn's sun."
I could almost hear Jessie's deep alto voice,
strong and reassuring. I could almost hear Arielle's perfect soprano, sweet
as a nightingale. Tears welled up in my eyes again. I realized that I didn't
even know if they were alive.
Stop this nonsense, said a voice in my head.
You have better things to worry about. Like Carolea.
Then it hit me.
It all fit! The conversation I overheard during
Ari's sword practice, Kara Lee's Neopia Central accent, it all fit!
Our ship's beloved first mate was the sought
To be continued...