stopped in front of a sign. “Ferrocarril Austral Fueguino.” Fiona read the
name. “Yep, this is it, the Train of the End of the World.” She bent over a
wooden fence. “I don’t think this is a real train. It looks like a bunch of
wagons with windows that are pulled by a steam engine. Oh well, as long as
it takes us where we want to go.”
They paid their
money for tickets and boarded the train. They were the only people on it
aside from the engineer in the engine train so they got to pick the coach
they wanted. “It says it’s an eight kilometer ride and takes about fifty
minutes to get there. We might as well enjoy the view.”
The train started
up and chugged its way down south. Most of the time it hugged the River Pipo.
They saw the reconstruction of an ancient aboriginal settlement and many
trees, lakes and smaller rivers.
“Callum, what kind
of trees are those? I don’t recognize them.” Elspet turned to look at her
“I have no idea.”
He grabbed his pamphlet that the conductor handed him when they bought their
tickets. “It says they are coihues and lengas, whatever that means.”
“Coihues are morello cherry
trees. They’re sour. Lengas are just pretty trees.” Fiona sighed. “Having
the power to understand languages sure comes in handy. I wonder what our
third trap will be. So far I’m rather disappointed. These have got to be the
simplest traps so far.”
“Remember, Fiona, only
because you have powers. If we didn’t have your powers, we’d have died on
that ship. Never take them for granted. You earned them and are entitled to
use them, but they are a gift to you from the wizards of Xilia. Never forget
that,” Jimmy warned.
“You’re right. I won’t
forget. It sure is barren here. All I can see are trees and rocks. The wind
is cold, even though it’s barely blowing. Can you believe we’re at the very
southern tip of the world? The only thing further is Antarctica and that’s
all ice.” Elspet looked out the window.
“I think Antarctica does have
bare land in the summer. I’ve seen pictures of penguins waddling on dirt.”
Callum corrected Elspet.
“We didn’t go and see the
penguin rookery. Maybe we can do that when we get back, if there’s time. I
love penguins.” Elspet grinned.
“Why does it feel like the
train is moving faster when we’re actually getting closer to the end of the
line. Shouldn’t it be going slower?” Callum stood and peeked out the window.
“Whoa! We’re going way too fast. The trees are a blur.”
Jimmy stood next to Callum.
“He’s right. The train is traveling at a high rate of speed. We’re moving
much too fast for these types of cars. We might derail.”
At the same time, both Fiona
and Elspet said, “Trap number three.”
“I want to see the end of the
world, but not the end of my life. What are we going to do?” Callum looked
“Why is it always me you look
to for help? I am tired of saving everyone all the time. Does it ever occur
to you that now and then I’d like someone to save me?” Fiona flung her arms
to her sides. “I’m tired of all of this. I’m tired of danger. I’m tired of
Drayton and Phelan and going to all these out of the way places. I’m tired
of everything.” She fell to her seat and cried.
Jimmy sat next to her.
“Fiona, I understand why you feel that way. You’ve had a huge load to carry
for several weeks now. Your calm life has been turned upside down. You never
get to go to school or simply play with your friends, or that silly doll
house I made for you.”
Fiona looked up at Jimmy and
then over at Elspet and Callum. Fear was etched in their faces. “I love the
“Fiona, if you want to quit,
we can do it right now. Just say the magic words and we’ll go right back to
Inveralba. You can hand the books and orb over to Phelan. Since all the
jewels aren’t in it, he can’t do anything with it anyway. Somehow we’ll work
through it all. It’s up to you sweetie,” Jimmy said.
Callum stuck his head out the
window. “Were coming to the end of the line. We’re going to crash through
that building and go off the cliff. Make your mind up one way or the other,
The train engineer tried to
pull the breaks. The sound of screeching metal echoed through the train back
to them. “He can’t stop it. We’re done for. We’re going over the cliff.”
When Callum turned to plead with Fiona, she wasn’t there. “Fiona? Fiona?
Where is she? Did she go back to Inveralba without us? We’re going to die!”
“I don’t know where she is,”
Elspet said. “Fiona!” She shouted, but her voice could hardly be heard over
the whistle of the train.
“We had better huddle
together at the back of this train car. Put your arms over your head.” Jimmy
instructed them how to protect themselves when they crashed.
“The poor engineer. He’s
going to die too and it’s our fault. Fiona was right. I’m tired of this. I
don’t want to die,” Elspet wailed.
They felt and heard the train
go off the tracks. “Oh no! Here we go!”
The engineer pulled the
whistle again. Down they went, the heavy engine pulling them toward the sea.
Elspet, Callum and Jimmy rolled from one end of the wagon to the other.
Instead of crashing into the rocks below, the train began to level out.
Jimmy told them to find a place where they could wedge themselves in safely.
Callum looked out of the
window. “We went over the edge of the cliff, but now we’re going straight.
We’re not going to crash; we’re flying through the air.”
The train did a wide loop,
much like a circling airliner does and they headed back to the top of the
cliff. The train settled safely down on the tracks, facing the opposite
“What just happened?” Jimmy
stood and looked out the window.
“Are we in heaven? Did we
die?” Elspet sat curled in a ball in the corner, behind one of the seats,
her arms wrapped around her head and her eyes hut.
“Elspet, open your eyes. We
didn’t die.” When Callum looked out the window he saw Fiona. “She’s a giant.
She turned herself into a giant and saved the train.” Callum jumped up and
down with joy. “She saved us. She saved us again.”
Fiona shrunk down and waved
at them. She ran over to the train car and climbed in, laughing. “You should
see the engineer. He’s still trying to figure out what happened. One minute
he thought he was going to die and then poof; he’s alive.”
“Fiona!” Callum ran over to
her and gave her a huge hug. “Thank you. I though we were going to die for
sure. Thanks.” He gave Fiona a kiss on the cheek.
“Uh, thanks, Callum. Glad to
be of help.” Fiona grinned at Jimmy, her cheeks red with embarrassment.
“I know we’ve just been
through a fright, but we need to find the stone. Since we’ve gone through
the three traps and amazingly survived, we can simply pick it up and go
home. Where is it?” Jimmy lifted Fiona up and whirled her in the air. “Bless
you, young lady.”
“It’s down there. There is a
path we can follow and go all the way to the end of the land. It’s a narrow
path and it’s just dirt and probably really steep, but we’ll be all right.
Be sure and take the camera out and take some photos. It’s slippery and wet,
so watch your step.” Fiona led them to the trail. “It’s down there.” She
pointed and walked down the path to the rocks below.
Half an hour, three slips and
near misses later, the four of them stood on flat sheets of stone looking
out to sea. “Wow! So this is what the end of the world looks like. Cool.
We’re really way way way down there at the bottom of the earth.” Elspet
threw her arms out to the side. “We’re at the end of the world.” She shouted
and scared a few seal that were sunning on the rocks. “Tidal pools.” She
glanced at them, but there were no sea creatures inside. “I wonder if there
are killer whales out there.”
“Of course there are. Don’t
you watch the telly? There are seals, polar bears, penguins and all sorts of
animals that live in this type of place.” Callum picked up a stone and threw
it into the wave. “It’s really rough.”
“It is so quiet here. It’s
quiet in Inveralba, but this is too quiet. The only sound we can here is the
waves. There are no smells besides the sea. I feel sort of lonely and
isolated,” Elspet said, taking a deep breath.
“I know how you feel, Elspet.
When I was given the gem and told to take it somewhere remote, I had to
travel on my own across the desert to Greece and then across the sea to the
different Greek Isles until I found the right one. I spoke to few people.
The desert was the loneliest. I saw a few camel caravans, but most of the
time I saw nobody. Loneliness and isolation are horrible things to endure.”
Jimmy looked out to sea. “A sea of sand or a sea of water; it doesn’t
matter. They’re both vast and unending.”
“Sorry, Jimmy, that you had
to go through that by yourself,” Callum said.
“The others had worse to
endure. Imagine Serbel having to come all the way here? He had the longest
journey of us all.”
Elspet slipped her hand into
Jimmy’s. “You must have been loyal to your king to do this.”
“We all were. Now enough of
this depressing talk. Fiona, where’s the stone?” Jimmy forced himself to
In deep thought, Fiona walked
over to a slate-colored stone. “The gem is under here. We’ll all have to
lift it together.”
They each took and end and
lifted the stone, tossing it to the side. Several crabs ran out, pincers
snapping. “Oh! That scared me,” Elspet said, jumping back. The crabs ran
into the water.
In the center of the hole, in
a pool of clear water, lay the blue tanzanite. It sparkled in the sunlight.
“Wow! That is beautiful,”
Fiona picked it up and held
it in her hand. They all touched it and marveled at its color. “We’ve got
it! We survived yet another place. I’m sorry about my tantrum earlier. I
know I’ve got a duty to do and I’m in it to the end.” Fiona smiled a shy
grin. “Come on. Let’s go home.”
“Wait. I want to take another
photo or two. How often does someone get to come to the end of the world?”
Jimmy had them stand with their backs to the sea. “Say cheese.”
After Elspet had taken a
photo with Jimmy in it, she handed the camera to Fiona. “We didn’t get to
see any penguins, but that’s okay. Let’s go home.”
“Wait. I want to take a
picture of the seals.” Elspet grabbed the camera from Fiona’s hands and took
a few photos of the seals, which had made their way back onto the rocks.
“Okay. I’m satisfied.”
They took each others hands
and stood in a circle. “Daleth shapish yam bet”