I had misgivings as we walked down the path to the beach. Actually, misgivings is a very small, quiet word for what I felt during that quiet little walk. I could see Edmond felt the same way. He tentatively touched the first line of sand as though he expected it to morph into a monster.
I tapped it with my foot as well.
"Could be quick sand," I pointed out.
"Yeah," he agreed. He looked over his shoulder and upward. "The jungle is still there. We won't have Job to help us, though. Maybe we can call him back."
"And go where?"
Edmond turned to look out at the sea. So did I. "That's a lot of water," Edmond said.
"I was thinking about going down the coast rather than across the sea."
"I like that idea." Edmond took a tentative step out. He stopped and sighed. "I wonder if I'll ever trust anything again."
I nodded agreement. Edmond darted out over the sand. I followed more slowly. The sand felt like sand and the breeze off the shore tasted like the ocean where we used to go for vacation. That moment of memory nearly undid me. I was not going to go back to that life. I'd never see them again. I might not ever see my real father again either, even if I survived. All I did was try to get myself and Edmond (and the others, until we parted) out of trouble. How long was this going to go on?
That thought depressed me. I slowed down. Edmond had gone off to the side and taken care of nature -- the sand must have been irresistible to him after the muck we'd been in for days. Now he bounded ahead to the boat where he stopped and looked back, shaking sand from his paw.
"At least we can see if anything is coming at us, right?" he said, sounding cheerful. "I was tired of the jungle."
"Yeah, me too," I admitted. "Though I got to talk to dinosaurs! That was cool!"
"Humans are so odd," Edmond mumbled and jumped into the small row boat --
And it darted out into the water.
I ran to catch up with him. He was prepared to leap off into the water and swim back, but I was no more than a couple yards away and I caught up before I was more than knee deep in the water. Edmond watched as I pulled myself in and sat up, water dripping off me.
"Thanks," he said. "I really didn't want to swim."
I'd been so afraid of losing him that all I could do was nod and try to calm down again. By now I'd also noticed that there were no paddles in the boat and it was going pretty much wherever it wanted to go. The shore slipped away from us far too quickly to swim back, even if I had trusted the water. Too far for little Edmond to swim, though I didn't say so to him. He might have leapt in just to prove me wrong.
I wish I had known where we were going. The boat moved farther away from the shore and since we were moving on a straight line, I realized it was heading somewhere. I could see nothing at all in that direction, though, except endless blue seas and blue skies. I worried about storms, but there was no sign of anything --
Something moved in the water.
Of course there was a shark here. I wasn't in the least bit shocked.
"We have company," I said. "Stay away from the edge of the boat, okay?"
He looked up over the edge and then dropped back down. In a moment he climbed into my lap and tried to burrow into my shirt.
"Shark," he said. "Ugh. Why not a lovely, friendly dolphin, huh? What is it with this place that almost everything has to be big and full of teeth?"
The shark came closer, swimming in circles around the boat as though he needed some time to look us over. I didn't like sharks any more than Edmond did. When the creature came closer, I picked up the cat and let him drape over my shoulders, which was the highest point in the boat unless he climbed on top of my head. That would be precarious though, and he might fall in. Edmond knew it.
The shark came closer. It looked larger than I thought at first. The creature probably could have taken a good sized bite out of the little boat if he wanted to. Great. We'd gone from Jurassic Park to Jaws.
The head lifted up, rows of ugly teeth everywhere, little piggy eyes --
"Hello," the shark said. He . . . smiled. It was not a pleasant sight. "Haven't had anyone on the ocean for a while. And I see you brought a payment to get past me. Good."
"I am not giving you Edmond," I replied.
"I wasn't talking to you."
"You can't have the human," Edmond said. He sat up on my shoulder and glared down at the shark. Cats do love to be higher than everything.
"No? Neither of you will let me have the other? Then you can float here forever," the shark said with a slap of his tail on the water.
"Fine," Edmond said before I could.
"I don't care," I added. "We won't give over our friends for a monster to eat."
"Go away," Edmond added. "At least we'll have each other for company."
The shark dropped down into the ocean, the tail flicking more water on us. Edmond growled.
"Like we were going to give into some big fish with delusions of grandeur," Edmond said. He stayed on my shoulder, though. "Ummm . . . does he look odd?"
I looked out over the water.
Yeah, the shark was changing.
This couldn't be good.
To Be Continued. . . .