Waiting Out the Storm: Part Two
Her hat was pushed gently into her face with a blue hand holding it. She looked up slowly.
A Kougra smiled down at her. He had a nice azure color to his skin and wore simply a T-shirt printed with tropical flowers and blue shorts. He smiled, showing off dazzling white teeth. Jenna stood in partial shock.
Wow, he’s tall.
He waved the hat a little bit and asked, “You going to take it, or stand there staring all day?”
She snapped out of her reverie and answered. “Yeah.”
“Yeah what? Yeah, you’re taking it, or yeah, you’re going to stare all day?”
She glared at him. Arrogant pest. “Yes, I’m going to take it.” And she did, not without a little flair. “Thank you.” She spun around and began to walk down the hill, promptly tripping on her own foot. She managed to fall the rest of the way down before landing at the feet of her laughing neighbor. She heard another laugh, completely unfamiliar, and realized it was the Kougra’s.
“Oh, shut up,” she mumbled and jammed the hat on her head. She was about to get up when for the second time that azure hand thrust itself into her face. She refused to take it and pushed herself up.
“Come on, Patricia,” she said and began striding away. “You know, you’re not that tall,” she shot back over her shoulder.
“Wasn’t he such a jerk?” she muttered under her breath to Patricia and looked over to her left. The Uni wasn’t there. Jenna spun back and saw to her anger that Patricia was talking to the jerk. She stormed back over, prepared to fight.
“I know, right?” Jenna heard Patricia say. “It’s so funny.”
“What is?” Jenna snapped angrily. “Me tripping and falling all over the place? Me making a fool out of myself in front of everyone new that I meet?”
The Kougra frowned. “No,” said Patricia, confused. “We weren’t talking about you...”
“Yeah,” said the Kougra. “We were talking about a book we’ve read.”
Jenna’s angry gaze shifted to an embarrassed one as she looked down. “Oh.”
The Kougra studied her. “You’re not from around here, are you? You’re from one of those big cities, where fashion and materials mean everything. And since you moved here a while ago... you don’t know how to make new friends because we’re so different.”
Patricia looked at Jenna. “Yeah... Stan’s right.”
Jenna looked at the Kougra. “His name’s Stan... How did you know?”
Patricia grinned. “He goes to my school.”
Jenna sighed. “Of course.”
An awkward silence passed over them just as clouds passed over the sun. Suddenly the skies opened up and rain began to pour. As the trio ducked under a palm tree, Jenna could catch snippets of conversations.
“It never rains here!” complained a young Xweetok, holding her hand over her head.
“Don’t worry,” said a mother to her child, “it’ll clear up soon.”
Jenna peered up through the thick leaves of the tree. The clouds were sprawled all over the sky in such a way that the idea of a sun seemed impossible.
“Doesn’t look like it’s going to stop,” said Stan, echoing her thoughts.
“It’s so dark,” Patricia muttered, and shivered a little. “Maybe it’s an omen...”
All three of them looked up at the even darker sky. The whole body of the tree was shifting a little bit towards the left. Jenna frowned. There was no wind. As the tree leaned over more, it suddenly shifted in their direction. Jenna gasped.
“Guys...” she started.
Stan and Patricia looked up and jumped. The tree began accelerating downwards at a fast rate, leaving all three of them paralyzed for the moment. Jenna, the first to recover, glanced from the tree to her acquaintances and made a split-second decision.
The red Lutari dove for Stan and Patricia, knocking them out of the way just in time. The only tree on the entire segment of beach fell down. All three of the Neopets remained stationary for a moment, forgetting that the rain was pouring buckets.
Thunder boomed just then, rudely taking them out of the reverie. “We need cover!” Jenna called out to no one in particular.
Wildly Stan looked around, but their fallen shelter happened to be the only shelter on the beach. Noticing Jenna cringing under the cold shower, he threw an arm over her and shouted, “Dive in the sea! The sea!”
Patricia looked at her neighbor and classmate and promptly obeyed orders, diving headfirst into the troubled waters. But as the Kougra propelled Jenna towards the stormy waters, the Lutari dug her heels into the wet sand.
Hysterically, she called out, “But I’ll get wet!” The Kougra laughed, and Jenna smiled against her volition as she realized how ridiculous her statement was.
Suddenly a fierce wind arose from every direction except the one Jenna and Stan were facing. Stan cast a glance over his shoulder and shouted, “Go!”
The Kougra pushed Jenna into the sea. She closed her eyes instinctively. As she plunged down, the cold water rushed into her ears and under her fur. She looked up through the surprisingly clear water and saw Stan looking wildly back and forth. He looked into the water and narrowed his eyes as if he were making a decision. The wind buffeted his body as he took a running jump into the water.
Time slowed down for Jenna at that moment. Her eyes met Stan’s; a look in his eyes appeared that she didn’t quite trust. It was a cold, calculating look, and her eyes widened in response to it. Then suddenly, both of them were shocked by a thought.
What happened to Patricia?
Jenna looked around, desperately searching for her new friend. She was running out of breath much too quickly and was forced to resurface. As she took in a huge, gasping breath, Stan popped up next to her.
“I can’t find her,” he said worriedly.
“Jenna, she might be so far down that we can’t reach her!”
Jenna looked at him as if he were crazy. “Why couldn’t we?”
“We can’t hold our breath too long!”
Jenna shook her head, horrified. “We can’t just leave her!” Winds began wailing and pressing down on her head. Stan looked at her. “We have to!”
“No!” Jenna took in a deep breath and dove back under. Bubbles rushed out from all over her body as she glanced around wildly for Patricia. The Lutari swam around in a frenzy trying to find her friend.
A light touch at the end of her claw shocked her. As she whirled around, she looked into Stan’s face. He pointed up towards the surface, obviously wanting to talk to her. Jenna nodded and he pushed up with his legs, propelling himself upwards. Jenna was about to follow his path when her eyes picked up a tiny bit of movement. She twisted around, daring to hope it might be...
Her eyes opened wide and she gestured wildly to Jenna, who smiled and gestured for Patricia to come up with her. Patricia shook her head, trying to remain calm. She tugged her leg and shook it violently.
With a pang Jenna realized what her neighbor was trying to tell her: one of Patricia’s legs was caught in the seaweed. The Uni looked at her strangely and shook her hooves around. She pointed to the leg again and spread her hooves out in a pleading fashion.
Jenna rushed down to help her friend but instantly pressed her claws to her mouth. She realized in horror that she was running out of breath again. Now I have to make a choice. Do I swim up and get air or stay here and help Patricia?
She floated for what seemed like an eternity, hardly recognizing her neighbor’s increased flailing.
A sudden force tugged on her arm and that now-familiar turquoise paw pulled up her body. She struck it in her panic and pointed down to Patricia. Stan’s eyes widened as he realized what she was telling him.
Stan motioned to the surface and pushed her to it. He then dove in the opposite direction and began untangling his classmate’s foot. She looked up at him with grateful eyes and suddenly went a little limp. Her eyes closed just as her hoof was freed.
The Kougra instantly realized something was wrong. She’s been down here way too long... so have I... He tried his hardest to pull her all the way up, but found it too difficult.
Just as Jenna broke surface and took a breath of much-needed air, she realized how deep they had dived. Worriedly she peered down into the clear depths of the sea.
If they don’t come up in thirty seconds... the Lutari didn’t want to think about that. Her brows knitted as she tried to see where they were and what they were doing. Finally she realized that she needed to go down. Taking a deep breath, she dove for the third time that day.
Fifteen feet down, she found both of her friends sinking little by little into the murky depths. Desperately she grabbed at Stan’s shirt, and then Patricia’s mane. Jenna clutched both and tried pulling up with all her strength.
I’m not strong enough... I can’t pull us up! Horrified, she hung on as they began drifting deeper and deeper into the sea.
To be continued...