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Apollo's Soldiers
by Margo Fallis
Chapter 4

“Since we’re here, do you mind if we go to the beach for a few minutes before we head back. I collect seashells and stones from everywhere I go,” Murray said.

“Murray, don’t be stupid. It’s the middle of the night. You couldn’t see any shells if you wanted to,” Sandy snapped.

“Stop calling me stupid.” Murray scowled.

“Leave him alone, Sandy. There’s a full moon. It’s not going to kill us to stay a few more minutes. I’ll go with you, Murray. Sit here and wait if you don’t want to come.” Leith glared at Sandy and then ran after Murray. Duncan followed.

“No way. I’m not staying near a cemetery by myself.” Fraser shouted. “There might be more ghosts. Wait for me.”

Sandy looked around. Shadows danced on the grasses and the wind made howling, whispery sounds. He jumped up and darted after the others.

They walked along the beach looking for seashells. The waves rushed in, pounding on the white sand; some reaching heights of six feet before crashing down in a frothy foam.

“I found one,” Duncan said. “It’s wee, but at least it’s a shell.”

“Stick it in your pocket. Each one of us might as well  find one now that we’re here,” Leith said.

A black mound the size of a castle rushed through the waves, heading for the unaware boys. The creature opened its mouth as it approached and rolled up onto the beach, swallowing all five in one gulp.

A few minutes later, gasping for breath and coughing up sea water, Murray sat with his back against a wall. “Where are we? What was that? Did we fall into another hole?” Aside from the light of the moon pouring in through a blowhole on top, the cavern was dark.

“It stinks like fish in here. I don’t think we’re in a cave, or under the ground. Walk around; it’s mushy and soft.” Sandy jumped up and down. “It’s bouncy too.”

A guttural sound vibrated in their ears. “Uh, I think we were just swallowed by a whale,” Leith said.

“A whale, like in Pinocchio and Jonah?” Duncan put his hands down and felt underneath his legs.

“The place is full of sea water and it does stink like fish. There are weird animal noises and we can’t see the sky. We are inside a whale, or something as big as one,” Leith said.

“This is insane, but it’s kind of funny. Leith’s got a point; can you imagine our fathers, proud descendants of Malcolm Canmore, if they found out we were inside a smelly whale?” Sandy burst out laughing.

“Glad you find it so funny, Sandy. Why do you and Leith keep bringing up our fathers? Just because both of your fathers are mean, doesn’t mean that ours are too. How are we going to get out of this thing? Have you thought of that? It’s going to take us out to sea.” Murray frowned at Sandy, who sat in silence. 

“I never said my dad was mean. Just shut up.” Sandy scowled.

“You know what I think?” Fraser attempted to walk across the tongue without slipping. “I think it’s some sea monster from Atlantis and it’s come here just to get us. That evil wizard guy probably sent it. Thanks, Murray. You just had to have a sea shell, didn’t you? It’s all your fault we’re in this mess.” Nobody spoke. Unable to think of a solution for escape, the boys sat quietly until they fell asleep. They woke up to the sun shining through the blowhole.

“Wake up everyone. Have any of you thought of a way to get out of here? Do you think it’s possible that one of us could fit through that hole up there?” Fraser pointed upward.

“Probably Duncan or Murray could, but there is no way we can reach it,” Leith said.

“I’m not doing it,” Duncan said.

“Me neither. Hey! You have that golden arrow. Right?” Murray glanced at Leith.

“Yes. I have the arrow. Why?” Leith felt for it in his back pocket.

“Use it. Poke the whale until it hurts,” Murray said. “It’s a magic arrow. Maybe when you poke the whale the arrow will release some sort of poison.”

“You mean I should stab it over and over until it spits us out? Not a bad idea.” Leith pulled out the arrow and jabbed it into the side of the whale’s mouth. Nothing happened.

“Wait. We don’t know where we are, or how far the whale traveled while we slept. What if it spits us out in the North Atlantic near Greenland? We’ll die of hypothermia, if we don’t drown first,” Duncan said.

“We’ll have to take that chance. I would rather die in the sea than inside a whale’s belly. Stab it again,” Sandy said. Leith held the arrow high above his head and thrust it into the flesh. The creature made a loud piercing sound. “Do it again!” Sandy raised and lowered his arm as if he was the one with the arrow.

Leith jabbed it a dozen times. The others had to put their hands over their ears. “It’s bleeding!” He poked it one more time. They could tell the creature was in pain and was reacting to it. It sped away, throwing them backwards. “Sick! The tongue is all lumpy.” Leith balanced himself and kept on shoving the arrow into the same spot. The whale came to a sudden stop; this time it threw the lads forward. With its mouth wide open, it lifted its tongue and flicked the boys out onto the beach. The boys, covered with blood and fishy slime, ran away from the beach and up a hill to the top as the first signs of dawn danced behind the horizon.

“Wow! Look at that thing,” Duncan said. “It’s got long squiggly tentacles like an octopus, but it looks like a whale’s body. That’s the strangest animal I have ever seen.” They watched as it pulled off the beach and backed into the deep water, disappearing under the waves. “That thing isn’t from our world. Do you really think that some evil wizard sent it to get us? It gave up pretty easily.”

“That’s because Leith had the golden arrow from Apollo,” Murray said.

“Do you think we’re in Iceland, or stranded on some deserted island?” Sandy gazed out at the sea.

Fraser turned in a circle. “We’re back on Iona.”

“I find it strange that it brought us back. If an evil wizard sent it, then why did it spit us here and not  somewhere else far away?” Leith turned to see the abbey. “It was probably just swimming in circles around the island. It really doesn’t matter. I’m just glad it did. We all stink like rotten fish. Let’s go home and change.”

“I agree. Where is the entrance to the tunnel? I’m all mixed up and confused with my directions,” Fraser said.

“I know where it is.” Leith led the small group down the hill. He turned and looked in the direction of the library. “I hope we can find the library again.” They found the entrance to the tunnel with no problems, dropped inside and headed for the filmy time portal. “I hope this works.”

When they arrived at the cemetery, they laid the sod over the hole and snuck back to their halls without being caught. After changing into dry clothes, they crawled into bed.

In the morning, Rory Knox, who was in Thistle and Heather Hall with Sandy, Fraser and Leith, was the first out of bed. Immediately he smelled the fishy stench. “All right, who is it? Someone stinks in here. Did someone wet the bed? I’ll bet it’s our newest member, Leith Wallace, son of a rich member of the board and who gets special favors.” Rory walked over to Leith. He sniffed the air. “It’s you, bed wetter!”

     “I didn’t wet the bed. Look for yourself.” Leith pulled the covers back.

“Then you’ve got really bad breath.” Rory roared with laughter.

“Leave him alone.” Grant Hume snarled.

Rory glanced at the Head Boy and then faced Leith. “Go and shower and brush your teeth you stinky little rich boy. You and your daddy mean nothing to me.” Rory scoffed and went off to get dressed.

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