Chapter Four: Flying Penguins

Nicole rushed back from the pile of luggage, and frantically asked, “Why is all my hairspray gone?”

“Firstly,” answered Luke, “it’s kind of crazy that you’re worried about your hair when we’re wrecked on a desert island. And second, we used it to start the bonfire.”

“But why is all the hairspray gone?” asked Nicole in disbelief.

“There’ll be no living with her after this,” muttered Jane.

Everyone was lounging on the beach, enjoying the twilight.

And then suddenly, (and this is truly suddenly – not the kind of suddenly like wings falling off or a wedding cake spontaneously combusting, which are always possible – this was the kind of suddenly that no one can expect) Zaccai and Christopher appeared in the middle of the beach. As if they had come out of nowhere.

“I don’t think this is Philadelphia,” said Zac calmly.

There was a gaggle of noisy questions and exclamations. Some of the older and wiser guys didn’t ask questions because they knew the folly of trying to be heard above a bunch of inquisitive girls. However Phil and Adam yelled things very competently. (Nicole wasn’t asking questions – she was walking around in small circles.)

Christopher and Zac waited for the frenetic noise to die down before answering.

“Do you have any. . . er, coke?” Dave asked quietly.

“But how did you get here?” demanded Kirsty.

“Not really sure,” said Zac.

“We were teleporting ourselves to Philadelphia,” said Christopher.

“Oh!” Sarah said.

“Why Philadelphia?” questioned Janelle.

“You don’t know much about teleporting, do you,” Zac pointed out.

“Awesome,” said Luke. “I’m teleporting’s biggest fan, it’s the way of the future.”

“Umm, Luke,” said Adam, “you’re not anyone’s biggest fan.”

“I thought you were going to a tropical resort?” asked Christopher.

“Well we were,” said Becky.

“Before we crashed here,” continued Adam.

“After a flock of flying penguins hit us,” finished Sarah.

“Uh huh,” Zac said sceptically, “flying penguins.”

“Yeah they tore our wings off, in the dead of night,” exclaimed Phil.

“Did you… umm, see these penguins?” Christopher politely asked.

Sarah rolled her eyes. “Yes!” she said.

“One smashed through the windscreen and knocked the pilot out, but he’s since recovered and run off,” said Matt.

“You’re sure he didn’t fly off?” Christopher said sarcastically.

“The plane’s still submerged in that bog, mate,” replied Dale.

“I meant the penguin,” said Christopher, “pilots don’t fly.”

“Not to be technical,” said Dave, “but pilots do actually…”

“I meant the pilot,” Matt said.

“Doesn’t this all sound a bit suspicious to you?” asked Christopher.

“And we’ve got no food,” said Matt.

“Oh it’s alright,” Zac said, “we’ve just eaten.”

“Why should we be suspicious?” asked Jane.

“Penguins don’t usually fly around strafing tourist flights,” said Zac.

“You mean. . ?”

“. . . the penguins were pushed,” said Christopher.

There was a short silence.

“Can any of you think of someone who would want one of you dead?” asked Christopher.

“My basketball coach,” said Sarah. “She makes me sit on the bench for hours, and I’m better than lots of the ninnies who get to play.”

“Um. . . anyone else?” asked Zac.

Nicole was walking around in ever smaller circles.

“Were the penguins alive when they hit the plane?” asked Zac.

“Umm.”

The friends didn’t know.

“Let’s go and look at the penguin in the plane wreck,” suggested Luke.

Some of the friends started to move down the beach and through the undergrowth to the bog where the plane was semi-submerged.

“Wait a moment!” said Becky. “Where’s Joshua?”

“He was here earlier,” said Phil.

The friends began a frantic search, yelling and shouting Joshua’s name. They went up and down the beach. They lit flaming torches and searched around in the undergrowth. No where could they find a trace of Joshua.

After a couple of hours they collapsed on the sand beside the bonfire.

“What’s happened to him?” asked Sarah hopelessly.

“I’m afraid we may not know what’s happened to him for a long time,” said Luke.

“Umm, I am a bit worried about the food situation,” said Zac.

***

Breeze finally managed to push open the door of the letterbox. She paced to the very back of the box and then ran across the floor – over a few letters – and made a death-defying leap onto the top of the fence. [Editor’s Note: You may be wondering about the size of the VanWingerden’s letterbox; letterboxes are much bigger in America.]

She exalted in her escape.

But she wasn’t out of danger. Maxine, the killer cat, had just strolled out the front door of her house. She hurled herself across the front lawn with all her claws out, spitting and hissing.

Breeze panicked and bolted inside a window. She found Samuel and tried to hide behind him, but he’d seen the devil cat too. They scampered, falling over each other into the nearest open room, and slammed the door. He’d locked himself and Breeze into the bathroom. There was a ferocious noise coming from the hall. They both stood on top of the toilet seat – goose bumps all over their bodies.

To be continued in the next chapter of. . . And Then They Made Me Their Chief