“We have to run!” one of the deputies exclaimed in a panic, as we stared at the large green object heading directly toward us. “Swim. Whatever. We have to go now before it gets us!”
“No,” the Sheriff told him in as calming a tone as he could manage while treading water in the middle of an ocean. “If it’s going to attack us, it’s going to attack us. We can’t out-swim whatever that is. There’s nowhere to swim to. Eventually, we’ll get tired and then it’ll be able to pick us off one by one. If we’re going to have to fight it, then we’re going to need to make our stand now, as one.”
“But we can’t stand,” Toleuk said. “We’re stuck in the ocean and the ground is far beneath us.”
The Sheriff gave her a side eye that would have been far more effective if we weren’t all being splashed by giant waves.
All attention turned to the strange green object. It continued to get closer and closer and as it did, it also continued to get bigger and bigger. Escaping this behemoth seemed more and more impossible. It wasn’t as if it were a single rowboat that we could have just spread out and stayed away from. It was a leviathan that could swallow us whole. It was like being chased by a whale or a city or a…a…island? “Is it me,” I began, “or does that look like a…”
“A floating island?” the Sheriff finished for me. “Yeah. It kind of does. It kind of really does.”
The green, we could see now, was a forest. There were trees with big green leaves. And in front of the forest was a beach, a long, sandy, dry beach. And before the beach was a small outcropping of rocks that looked like they would hurt quite a bit if they hit us, but they also looked like maybe, just maybe they could be climbed.
“Everyone just wait a second,” the Sheriff said and he began to swim toward the island. We watched with trepidation as he got closer and closer to the island. I think we were all waiting for something bad to happen, like natives coming out to attack him or maybe the island growing a mouth and eating him whole.
But neither of those happened. He reached the island safely and began to climb up the rocks. He quickly made his way to the top. When he reached the beach, he sat down and waved toward us. “Come on,” he beckoned. We needed no more encouragement. None of us could wait to get out of this water.
We all immediately began to swim as fast as we could toward the floating island, but the trolls were all bigger and stronger than me, their strokes were much longer. I had no chance at keeping pace with them, but worse than that, as I fell behind, I quickly got caught up in their wake. I was thrown violently back and forth. I could barely stay afloat against their wake. I almost drowned again as the swam past me.
Eventually, they got far enough ahead of me that I was able to regain control. And, as I started to swim again, I could see that the fastest of them had already begun to start climbing onto the floating island. They climbed up it with ease, just a few handholds and they were onto the island.
I finally reached the island as the last troll was climbing up. I looked up at the wall of rocks before me. From down here, it looked a lot higher than it had when I had started swimming. Those giant trolls had made the thing look like it was nothing. But I was much smaller than they were and I realized I was much more tired. After getting caught in their wake, I was gassed out. Not to mention, I had been out here longer than any of them. I could feel that I was low on energy and that my arms were already fatigued, but I started climbing anyway. What other choice did I have? Drowning? So I put one hand on top of the other and began to pull myself up as best I could. But I was tired and my feet couldn’t find any purchase, not with the waves crashing down on me. I didn’t think I was going to make it.
And then I saw a massive hand appear in my line of sight. I looked up at Toleuk leaning down above me. “Come on, little guy. Let me help.”
I reached out for her hand and her giant hand enveloped mine. It looked like a small child taking the hand of their parent. With relative ease, she pulled me up onto the land. When she put me down, I fell down right to my knees. I was so tired and so grateful. I kissed the ground. Then I looked up at here, with sand sticking to my face, and told her with great sincerity, “Thank you.”
She blushed. “Just part of the job.”
But before I could really catch my breath, one of the deputies asked, “Where are we?” I looked past the trolls and beyond the beach where we all sat. There was a dense jungle beyond it.
“I don’t know,” the Sheriff told his deputy, then turned to me. “Frank?”
I was a bit surprised that he had looked to me for answers. He was the one with the big hat and fancy badge, though he had lost the hat. It was presumably somewhere in the water right now. As I caught my breath, I looked at him, then the jungle, and then glanced back at the ocean. I then slowly rose to me feet and faced him again. “I guess we only really have one choice. We go into the jungle.”
“The jungle,” the Sheriff said with a sigh. “Trolls aren’t really made for jungle.”
I couldn’t help but laugh at that. “You made any better for the ocean?”
The Sheriff snorted. “Jungle it is.”
to be continued…