Chapter 15: The Sacred Pond
Read previous chapters here. Enjoy!
Previously: Ugly Duckling’s life is in danger. Madnes and his friends are certain the duckling is headed for the Sacred Pond: a heavily guarded and sacred place, walled up from the outside world by a compound. Anything that flies over the wall and nears its waters will be killed on the spot. Madnes and Alice are in a race to locate and stop Ugly in time, while Harrey hurries away to grab his flying bicycle. Madnes can only hope that the Madness Solver fairy power residing within him will help him save Ugly’s life, but in return, it would mean a piece of his own life would be absorbed by the fairy… Meanwhile, Inspector Coolette is making his rounds. He hasn’t forgotten Madnes Hatter, nor his suspicions about the boy, last seen in chapter 6…
Thick, stone walls rose up around an oval of land, a pond glistening pure blue at its center like a liquefied jewel. The Sacred Pond. Madnes and Alice finally reached the compound, both out of breath. Guards at every gate, and flocks of tourists out with their gizmo cameras snapping photos.
Madnes spotted a line of people waiting to get into the surveillance room: to get a peek at the special pond via live recordings. One of Okinala island’s tourist attractions. They got in line, though he shifted from foot to foot. There wasn’t time to waste—why did there have to be a line here, today? If Ugly was already inside…
Something flashed by in the sky, and his head whipped around. Ugly? Did he just fly over the walls? “There’s no time!”
He hollered and shoved people aside. “Fire! There’s a fire in the building! Get to safety!” He hated fibs, but a life was on the line, and there might be real fire soon enough, anyway.
The crowd grew into a panic and left the line, searching around to see if it was true. He used the opportunity and barged his way inside the surveillance room, Alice on his heels. They looked to the many monitors hung about the cozy, tourist space.
He saw something move through one of the screen: a gray bird alighted on a tree beside the pond. “It’s not a duck,” Alice observed, beside him. They watched, and within seconds of landing, red flashes crossed the screen and the bird was gone—vaporized. They stood slack jawed. ‘Th-they really will kill anything…’
“I see a duck!” Alice suddenly shouted by his ear, and he jumped out of his boots.
“Ugly? Where—! Wait, are you sure you can see him?” He tried not to panic, searching the screen. ‘He’s a Wonderlander; how can she see him?’
“Of course I can, see there!”
A gray duck, in flight, was steadily approaching the high walls of the oval compound.
“Ugly! Turn back, you bird-brain!!” he wanted to shout through the screen. Instead, they both shrieked, and scrambled to get out of the room and head for the walls.
“Every door is guarded and safe locked,” Alice followed him back outside. “How are we going to get in?”
“I told you,” Madnes veered left and screeched to a stop before a portion of the rising wall. He backed up. “It’s this new job. I can do things, now.” He focused, and asked inside his mind: ‘Lend me power, Fairy, just a touch…’
“Huh?” Before she could ask what things, he crouched and sprinted into a run at the wall. He heard her exclaim. Just before hitting the wall, he leaped up, the tread of his boots catching and scraping as he plowed into a sudden run up the wall’s side—momentum and strength carrying him forward up the vertical surface.
Inspector Coolette was minding his own business, enjoying his day off work and observing the Sacred Pond compound. He liked to make sure things were in proper order—that’s what days off work were good for! A chance to see that everybody was behaving and doing their job properly; and that no criminal was lurking about unpunished.
He had just taken his lunch bag over to a bench, where he could eat with leisure and observe the walls, when something sprinted across his vision. A thieving crook? The person unbelievably scaled up the wall’s side in a run.
Faster than a cap off a soda bottle, Coolette whipped out his chomper to apprehend and catch the vagabond. “Justice shall be served!”
Something struck the wall inches from Madnes’ right side: a pair of large tongs, crafted to resemble a skull with its grabbing jaws wide open. It poised on the end of a metal, coiled spring.
The snapping jaws drew back, coiling from the wall face, and sprung at him a second time. Pa-chomp! Madnes lurched away. But in so doing, lost his foothold and balance. He plummeted.
The tongs recoiled back to its owner, becoming a staff with a skull head, in the hands of an eyepatched officer. Madnes pulled himself off a sore backside where he landed to face the man.
The eyepatch fluttered a pair of wings—he’d seen those before—and recognition dawned. “Inspector Coolette,” he swallowed. The man who thought himself uber handsome and the “coolest” thing since cucumber sandwiches. If only he had brains to match the all-knowing, Sherlock persona he emitted.
The Inspector’s one eye went wide, then narrowed to a slit. “Hatter boy.”
Flapping and the whistle of wings passed by overhead. Ugly!
“No time to chitchat!” He turned back to the wall, running up it once more. The skull tongs chomped after him as the Inspector raged.
“Law-breaker! You dare breach the Sacred Pond? You are under arrest!” Pa-chomp-chomp! “Stop, this instant!” His thick eyebrows writhed as Madnes dodged the strikes and reached the top. “Idiot boy, you’ll get yourself killed!”
Alice watched, helpless from the ground, and Madnes only spared one look back at her, just in case it was his last. And then, he jumped. Timing his momentum, reaching both hands up. Coming up underneath the gray duckling, as his flight descended into the compound.
Fingers caught feathers, and he pulled Ugly Duckling to himself. Together they fell through the air, down into the trees ringing the Sacred Pond. Madnes using his body as a shield, and preparing to be vaporized…
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© copyright 2015 E. Rawls and Rawls E. Fantasy, All Rights Reserved
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