Plushie Island: Part Two
Before anyone could slip out a single word, Ginger held up her paw. “I have news,” she said. “Both good and bad.” Everyone groaned, including me. What possibly could have gone wrong with our perfect plans? For an entire week, Ginger and I had stuck our heads together, making plans. We were both extremely pleased with what we came up with – but would it go through? Was it about to be ruined by this bad news?
“Listen, guys,” Ginger said. “The good news is, there’s hardly any living creature outside right now. Not a Neopet, human, or even petpet in sight.” She smiled as everyone sighed in relief. “But,” Ginger continued, making the plushies freeze up again, “the reason that nobody’s out is because it’s now pouring rain.”
A young, newly made blue Kacheek hesitantly raised her paw. It wavered a bit in the air, probably from nervousness. Ginger, who was good at remembering names, acknowledged her. “Yes, Lillie?”
The little Kacheek slowly slid her paw back down to her side and asked, “W-what’s rain, Ginger?” Lillie’s big, doll-like eyes were wide in a curious, frightened way. A couple other plushies added in, “Yeah, what is ‘rain’?” Ginger had once described it to me, but I couldn’t remember everything she had said, so I leaned in and listened carefully.
The Cybunny cleared her throat. “Rain is water that falls from the sky,” she explained. (A few plushies gaped at this news; whoever heard of sky water?) “The clouds clump together to make one huge, dark storm cloud. Then it dumps down water when it gets full. Sometimes it sprinkles out just a little bit, but sometimes, like tonight, it pours down in bucketfuls.”
Lillie gulped. “W-water?” she asked in hardly more than a breathy whisper. “Won’t water – won’t it hurt us?”
Ginger shook her head quickly. “We’re plushies. We can’t exactly get ‘hurt’. Sure, we can get a rip or tear in our fabric, but we don’t really feel it. The only thing the rain will do to us is make us wet and heavy. We’re going to have to try and avoid it.”
Red Nimmo, who was coming along for the adventure, nodded. “I’ve seen the rain from my spot by the window. It looks harmless enough. We can just protect ourselves under the shelter of leaves, once we reach the trees.”
“Where are we going to go, exactly?” Rena asked, putting her paws on her hips. “I don’t want to come if we’re going to just get ourselves lost.”
Ginger had to smile at this. “Don’t worry,” she assured the Wocky, “I know exactly where we’re going. I found this map–” she pulled out a large piece of paper from behind the counter “–in a storage box last week. See that island, right there? I circled it in red marker. It’s an uninhabited island. That means no one lives there. If we can reach it, it’ll be ours to live on – forever. The island of the plushies.”
“Ooooooh,” went up a murmur from the crowd as they gathered tightly around the map. “Our new home!” I grinned and shivered in delight, pleased to be ‘behind the scenes’ of the adventure. I had helped pick out that island.
It was the smallest isle below Meridell. Lucky for us, the map was labeled, so we knew what all the places were called. At first, I had suggested to Ginger that we live on ‘Mystery Island’. “Would it be mysterious?” I had asked, my excitement building up. However, she pointed out that since that island already had a name (and was gigantic!), someone probably lived on it. That’s when we noticed the three smaller islands below Meridell.
All of the plushies seemed to agree that this island would be perfect for them. “Excellent,” Ginger said, rolling the map back up. “Then it’s time.”
* * *
We were outside the Plushie Palace. I looked back through the glass door – a silent goodbye. I would definitely miss it, considering I spent my whole life there. Perhaps, one day, I’d come back for a visit. Perhaps.
Ginger addressed the group, telling us all to stay in the shadows of the night and head for the trees. She had a pencil stub with her to mark our trail, so we wouldn’t get lost. “Don’t stop,” she warned, “or you’ll be left behind. We will take a nap in the afternoon, when we’re far from here.” She took in a breath. “Let’s go.”
Some of the poor little plushies shrieked when they got rained on for the first time. I didn’t yell out, but I did jump, startled. That’s when I realized how lovely it felt. It was cool, and came down in little pelts, melting down into us. When we reached the trees on the outskirts of Neopia Central, everyone found sticks and large leaves, putting them together and making what Ginger called umbrellas.
* * *
I was glad when noon reached us. The sun was high in the sky, and the heat beat down harder than you might expect. Even for a plushie, the warmth seeped through our fabric and weakened us. Ginger, too, was exhausted, and called for a break as soon as we got to the edge of the forest around Brightvale.
“We’ll stop here,” she announced. “Stay under the trees – don’t go out near the wall. Someone might spot you.” Everyone jostled each other for the most comfortable spots, but in the end, we settled.
We slept for hours. No one woke up until the last of the light had sunk down into the ocean. Ginger awoke right after I did, and together we helped everyone else get up. “Time to keep moving,” Ginger said. “We’re almost there. By this time tomorrow, we’ll be at home on Plushie Island.”
For a meal, we struck lucky. Hundreds of berry plants lined the edge of the forest, and we feasted on them. How delicious! A few particularly smart plushies had brought along some leather sacks, made from materials back at the Plushie Palace. We filled the sacks with the berries and hoped they wouldn’t get smashed.
Many sticky-sweet berry yawns were passed around, but we started walking. This time, everyone had a peculiar bounce in his or her step, knowing that in just a few hours, we’d be truly free. Free!
* * *
I stared at the dark water. It was nearly midnight. “Ginger,” I whispered, “how are we supposed to get through this?” I didn’t dare even dipping in a paw to test the temperature; I knew it was freezing. The air was chilly, and we huddled in a group at the edge of the coast, shaking the cold sand off our paws.
“Umm.” That was the first time I’d ever heard Ginger speak that ‘word’. I knew she was frazzled by the tone of her voice, and it frightened me. Were we stranded? All this work for nothing? Would we have to turn back?
“It’s okay. We’ll figure this out. Don’t worry about it.”
Ginger nodded, trying to convince herself with her own words. That’s when Lillie let out a shout.
“Look!” she cried, pointing towards some driftwood washed up on the sand. “We could build a boat out of that!” Ginger and I both raced towards the Kacheek, scooping the little plushie up and squeezing her in a huge hug.
“You’re a genius, Lillie!” Ginger shouted, although none of us knew the word genius. Lillie grinned, happy with herself for spying the wood. It had drifted on the beach, so we knew it could float. Besides, plushies were light. This wouldn’t be a problem.
* * *
It took us two and a half hours to build a boat from the wood. We realized first that what Lillie found wasn’t enough for sixteen plushies to fit on, so we went out in search squads to look for more. Who knew finding driftwood was such a hard job? It took three to four plushies working together to lug a piece of wood back to the original one, where Ginger and Rena were using leaves, sticks, plants, and other things they found against Meridell’s walls to tie them together.
At last, the ‘boat’ was constructed. It was three large, flat pieces of wood tied together with bendy twigs. We all surveyed it skeptically; would it hold us all?
“How are we going to steer?” I asked aloud, staring off over the dark ocean. I couldn’t see Plushie Island from here. Or maybe the darkness was just blocking it from view. Over to the east, a few loose strands of lights were beginning to appear.
Ginger followed my eyesight. “We have to leave, soon,” she said. “We cannot be seen in the daylight! Rena, do you have the paddles?”
The Wocky produced three sticks, with a flat surface at the bottom. “Paddles ready.” She handed them out to the three strongest plushies. “Everybody climb aboard.”
Everyone got on the board except Ginger, Rena, and I. We had to push it off the sand first. “On the count of three,” Ginger announced. “One... two... three!” With a mighty heave, the boat floated into the water. We scrambled on, trying our best not to get wet. Of course, we ended up with cold paws, but some of the others helped us squeeze the water out so they’d dry faster.
We were off!
To be continued...