"Grillz, there's something that's been on my mind recently."
We looked at Kataleen. "What's that?" Jahsmun asked, letting the waves from the lagoon splash over her legs.
"Well, we kept telling everyone that we were going to rescue those kangaroos that have been disappearing, but we never did. So now I feel like a horrible person for not doing what I said I would."
"Good point, Kataleen." There was a clanking behind us and we turned to see Linzee struggling towards us, carrying about fifteen shovels. I glanced at the rock next to me, where she'd been sitting just a minute ago. Seriously, how does she do that? Is she like some kind of ninja, or am I just going deaf.
"What are those for?" I said.
Linzee winked. "Wea goin' dan undah, mates."
I resisted the urge to facepalm.
Kataleen looked nervously at the shovels. "Linzee, I know anything we want can happen here, but I am not digging my way to Australia."
Linzee looked disappointed for about half a second. Then she shrugged and dropped the shovels in a heap. "Oh, well," she said. "They were getting heavy, anyway."
"Let's take Peter, instead," Jahsmun suggested.
And that's how, fifteen minutes later, we were sitting on Peter, holding on for dear life. Except for Linzee.
"Whoo-hoo! Now do a loop-the-loop, Peter! I wanna see if I can stay on with just my legs!"
"No, Peter, don't!" The rest of us shrieked. Too late. My stomach was thrown into my mouth and I felt all the blood drain to my head. This ride couldn't be over soon enough.
"Linzee!" Jahsmun yelled, to be heard over the shrieks of delight. "Where are we going first!"
"Oh, that's easy!" she said, giggling as Peter swerved sharply to the left, in an attempt to unseat her. "We have to see our contact! Whee! Look, Mom, no arms!"
"Who's that?" Hollered Kataleen.
"Look, Mom, no feet! P. Sherman! He lives at 42 Wallaby Way, Sydney!"
I facepalmed. "Why am I not surprised?"
An hour and several sessions of cookie-tossing later, we finally landed on the dock below P. Sherman's dentistry. At least we were alive. Mostly. Although I did learn that Cheetos and ice cream taste a LOT better going down.
We left Peter outside and went in. When we approached the receptionist's desk, Linzee nudged me.
"Okay, Beekee. You know what to do next."
I did? I gave her a puzzled look and she glared at me. I guess I was gonna have to make this up. Oh, wait. I remembered a conversation we'd had a year or so ago. The last time we discussed rescuing the kangaroos.
"Do geese fly backwards on Tuesdays?" I whispered, leaning across the counter.
She cast furtive glances about the empty waiting room. "The pirates are in the telephone booth."
"Excellent," I said. She handed me a manilla envelope and we hurried back outside to read it.
On the front, in big, red letters were the words: TOP SECRET. I tingled with excitement.
"Oh, hurry up," Jahsmun said. "Can't you open it faster?"
Kataleen gave her the evil eye and she shrunk back. Then Kataleen turned to me. "Just rip it, already!"
I did end up ripping it, and found one (count 'em: ONE) sheet of paper inside.
"Circus. Lat. Lon. And then a whole bunch of numbers," I read. "I don't get it."
"Here," Jahsmun said. "Let me see." I handed it to her and her lips moved as she read it to herself. "Ah ha! I know what it is!"
"What? What is it?" Linzee said. It was always a mystery to me how Linzee knew almost everything about our missions, and yet got excited when one of us figured out the simplest thing.
"Then what are we waiting for?" Kataleen said. "Let's go!"
"Wait," I said. They froze and looked back at me. "What does 'circus' mean?"
Linzee shrugged. "Who cares?" And they ran off, again. I sighed and followed, reluctantly.
Half an hour later, we were somewhere in the middle of the desert. With nothing in sight. Right where the coordinates said we were supposed to be. The only good part of it was that Linzee and Peter hadn't played their little game.
Linzee sighed. "Well, we might as well give Peter a little break. Why don't we land and check it out. Maybe we're just looking at an opposite mirage, or something like that."
Jahsmun cocked an eyebrow at her. "An opposite mirage? I've never heard of such a thing."
Linzee shrugged. "I've encountered a couple."
I stared at her. "Where?"
She grinned. "Top secret. Anyway, let's go."
By this time, Peter had landed, and we had climbed off.
"So which way do we go?" Kataleen asked.
We all looked at Linzee.
Linzee looked around. "This way," she said, pointing.
So we started walking. However, we hadn't gone twenty feet when I felt a cool breeze.
"Woah!" I said. "Where'd that come from!"
I started running, and the land suddenly changed from desert to the inside of Walmart! The others quickly appeared next to me.
"Woah," Kataleen said.
"Woah," Jahsmun said.
"Heck, yeah!" Linzee said.
There were Kangaroos all over the place, and they were running the Walmart! Some were cashiers, and others were stocking the shelves.
"So where are all the people to buy stuff?" Kataleen said.
"I dunno," Linzee said. "but there are some pretty crazy looking people over there."
She pointed, and Jahsmun shrieked, leaping into my arms.
"Oof! Jahsmun, what's wrong with you!" I said, dropping her.
"Clowns!" she shrieked.
"Unfortunately, no," one of the clowns said, coming up. "We were born this way. By the way, I'm Binky. These are my sisters. Blubber, Buffy, and Bubbles."
"Sorry about my friend," Kataleen said.
The clown waved her away. "Eh, don't worry about it. We get that reaction all the time. So, can we show you some of our goods?"
"Actually," Linzee said. "we need to free your workers. It's ruining the ecosystem for them to be in here and not out there."
Blubber started . . . well . . . blubbering, and her sisters comforted her.
"What's wrong with her?" I asked.
"Binky looked sad. "We've had such a hard time finding people to work here. We were certain the kangaroos were the right way to go. So now we won't have anyone to work here!"
"Hey!" Kataleen said. "If I can find you workers, would you let the kangaroos go?"
"Well . . . of course," he said.
"You'd do that for us?" Blubber said, drying her tears.
"Sure! We know how hard it is to be taken seriously. All of us are told we're too young, too big, too whatever to do things." She began rifling through her Mary-Poppins' Exclusive Backpack. "Now, let's see what I've got here." Then she popped back up. "Linzee, you remember last week's trip to Never Land?"
"Sure, what about it?"
"Remember how all those fairies stowed away in my backpack?"
"And how we can't get them back, because You have to have fairies in Never Land for humans to travel back and forth to Never Land?"
"And how they don't know the way?"
"Would you get to your point already?!?!" I was getting frustrated. Kataleen wrinkled her nose at me, but proceeded.
"What if they worked here. I mean, I wanna keep two or three for home, but the others need a home, and I can't think of anything that would keep them out of mischief more than working. Working does that to you."
In the end, we gave the Bs (which is what we decided to name them) ninety-nine fairies, keeping two for the island. They were extremely grateful, and let the kangaroos go immediately, for which the kangaroos were immensely grateful. When we got home, we found that three joeys had stowed away in Kataleen's backpack, and we decided to keep them.