Bang! Katie Anderson winced as she accidentally dropped her plate of spaghetti, sending the food and broken pieces of glass skittering across the linoleum floor. "Dang it!" she hissed to herself. The twelve year old brunette bent over to pick up the mess when she felt a rough tap on her head. Looking up, Katie saw her Aunt Sara shaking her head and holding out a broom.
"Stupid klutz," Aunt Sara remarked rudely. Then she turned on her heel and started for the living room. "I want this disaster cleaned up in five minutes, or you'll get no dinner!"
Katie stuck out her tongue and crossed her eyes at Aunt Sara as the woman walked away, gingerly avoiding the noodles and glass.
As Katie began the task of sweeping her mess into a neat little pile, her seventeen year old sister Esther came in holding a garbage bag.
"Thought you could use some help," Esther said, smiling pitifully at her little sister. Katie smiled back. Esther always came to her rescue, and Katie was grateful for it. Esther grabbed another broom and started sweeping.
Two minutes later, when they had the entire floor cleared of spaghetti and plate, Aunt Sara came back in.
"Hmph!" she snorted, looking around the kitchen in slight disappointment. "I see you're getting quicker in dealing with your accidents. I had rather hoped you would get your supper taken away."
Esther frowned deeply at her guardian, wishing that she would just leave Katie alone for once. Katie, however, was used to this sort of thing, and pretended that it did not bother her.
"Who cares about dinner anyway?" she retorted, "I had lunch."
Aunt Sara looked about to say something, when Uncle George hollered for her to get in the living room. Aunt Sara's grey eyes darted from the girls to the doorway, deciding which crisis to take care of first. Finally, she shoved rakes into Katie's and Esther's hands and stomped to the family room.
"Rake the leaves, you brats!" she yelled back at them. "And put 'em in the road, not the driveway!"
Esther pulled her blond hair back into a ponytail, and her side-swept, blue-tipped bangs fell back across her forehead.
"Looks like we're gonna have to hunt in the garage for sunscreen," commented Esther.
Katie nodded and tried to copy Esther the best she could, but her chin-length hair was too short for a ponytail.
"Maybe we'll even find a ice cream truck coming down the street," Katie suggested.
"An ice cream truck, Katie," Esther corrected. "I doubt that'll happen, but it sure would make us the luckiest girls raking leaves."
Katie threw her rake down and wiped her forehead.
"Geez!" she exclaimed. "It sure is hot! Must be ninety."
"I think it's ninety-eight," Esther replied squinting at the thermometer, which hung from a dirty white windowsill on their house.
Katie's brown eyes glittered in the sun. "Maybe,'' she began excitedly, "if we pretended to have heat stroke, Aunt Sara would take us to the hospital and we would tell the people there about Uncle George and Aunt Sara and how bad they are, and they might believe us and take us away from them. Or take them away from us."
Esther shook her head.
"You don't never know a good idea when you hear one," Katie sighed disappointedly.
Restraining herself from annoying Katie with further grammatical corrections, Esther picked up Katie's rake and handed it to her.
"Better get started on this front yard," she remarked. "We'll probably just have to do the back yard afterwards."
"We don't even have an ice cream truck!" Katie wailed. "I'll never make it in this heat. I'll die."
"Hope not," Esther replied shortly, raking away the leaves into a big pile by the road.
Katie gripped her rake and walked out into the road to help her sister.
After nearly twenty minutes, Uncle George popped his big head out of a window.
"Hey, you, kids!" he yelled. "Get away from that darned road or I'll pound you!"
"Oh, no you won't!" Katie hollered back. "Aunt Sara told us to rake the leaves into the road!"
Uncle George looked behind him at someone. "Did you say that to 'em?" he asked.
There was a muffled reply.
"Well, then, you dumb kids, I suppose you can stand in the middle of that road as long as you please. Just watch out for cars, or you'll be pancakes soon enough," Uncle George snickered.
Katie looked both ways down the street and, sure enough, there was a big pickup truck barreling towards them. It gave a loud honk. Esther grabbed Katie's hand and yanked her out of the way just in time.
"WHOA!!" Katie yelled, steadying herself as the car rushed by, the driver shaking his fist at them. "I almost died!"
"Be more careful," Esther gasped. "Then again, I should've been doing that myself."
Uncle George's booming laugh erupted across the yard. "That was a good one!" he laughed, slamming the window shut.
Since the leaves were all raked, Esther and Katie threw their rakes into the garage and went in the house.
"I'm gettin' a water!" Katie announced.
"Nah, we're all out," Uncle George informed her. He stuck his leg out to trip her as she walked by.
Crash! "OW!" Katie yelped. She sat up, rubbing her nose. Esther gasped in disbelief and helped Katie up. But Katie was mad.
"WHAT'D YOU DO THAT FOR?!" she yelled. "YOU COULD'A BROKE MY NOSE!!"
She stood up and started for her uncle, but Esther held her back.
"George!" Aunt Sara called in from the kitchen. "George, dear, what's going on in there?"
"That idiot girl tripped herself, darling," Uncle George called back.
"Esther, clean the ceiling fans," Aunt Sara yelled, not paying any attention to her husband.
As Esther went to get a stepladder, Uncle George grabbed her arm and jerked her back.
"No ladders for the housekeeper," he whispered slyly.
It had been a bad day. Katie had been banished to her room for letting her little dog, Sugar, into the kitchen, though nobody had ever informed her that this wasn't allowed. Esther had been hit by Aunt Sara for not dusting the fan blades, and Uncle George had threatened to kill Katie with his favorite kitchen knife, for dropping her bowl of soup on his foot.
"I kinda hate life right now," Katie complained to Esther. The two girls were in Katie's room, lying on the yellow and orange bed. Esther's loyal and slightly obnoxious cat, Pompom, lounged on the window seat, while Sugar curled up by the door.
"We should report them to the police or something," Katie sighed. She rolled over on her stomach and gazed out the window.
"I can see three things that make that impossible." Esther sat up and stretched her long legs out, putting her hands behind her head and leaning back. "First of all, Aunt Sara cut all the phone cords except the one in her room, and you know we could never get in there. Second of all, Uncle George's cell phone is forever drowning in his pants pocket with all of his pennies and candy wrappers. Third and most important, Aunt Sara broke my cellphone with her heel when we first moved in. She told me about it months later, when I finally noticed it was missing."
Katie sat bolt upright. "If we can't phone for help," she smiled slowly, "we could run away."
"Run away!" Esther exclaimed.
"Shh!" Katie shushed. "They'll hear you."
"How would we go about doing that?" Esther whispered.
"Build a raft and scram," Katie replied. "We'll build it in secret and then escape down that little stream out in the back yard. Nobody around here stays up late, so we could leave around midnight and be long gone before anyone knows."
"Five questions," Esther said, "One, how do we make an entire escape craft in secret? Two, how do we make it? Three, what do we bring? Four, how do we bring it? Five, where in the world do we run away to?"
"Simple, simple, simple, simple, simple," Katie answered. "Aunt Sara and Uncle George don't never go into the garage, so it'd be easy peasy to cram the boat in there when we're not working on it.
Leave the building to me; I'm a professional. You, though, can sketch a blueprint or somethin' like that. Three's easy, we just bring what we need and stuff it into boxes or crates or other things that were made for holdin' stuff. We'll take Sugar and Pompom. I wouldn't leave them for the world."
"Sounds easy enough," commented the slender blond. "But you forgot five. Where will we go to? We can't just go floating on a little homemade boat down a stream that leads to who knows where. If you're gonna run away, you might as well run away to somewhere."
Katie pondered this thought for a moment. "Japan," she announced presently. "We'll go to Japan. I've always wanted to go there."
"Japan?!" Esther exclaimed. "No way. Not happening. We don't even know how to say 'hi' in Japanese, let alone 'Excuse me, random citizen, we'd like to find a nice house to settle into somewhere around here. Think you could direct us to a realtor's office?' We'd be hopelessly lost. Let's just drift down the current until we find someplace that looks nice and welcoming. Or," Esther smiled, "we could go to New Zealand. It's supposed to be gorgeous down there. And I'm pretty sure they speak English."
Katie sighed. "Alright," she agreed. "New Zealand it is. When do we start building?"
Esther grinned. "First thing tomorrow morning."
"OWW!" hollered Katie.
She dropped the hammer and bit her thumb to try and ease the pain.
"Don't bite it!" Esther cried. "You'll only make it worse. What'd you do?"
"It was that stupid hammer with the crooked handle," Katie complained, still continuing to suck her wounded finger. "I accidentally looked away and hit my thumb."
"Oh, dear," Esther sighed. "Well, it'll get better in time. Let me see it."
The teenager examined her little sister's finger, and found, to her great relief, that it wasn't damaged badly.
"You'll probably have a bruise, though," Esther remarked thoughtfully.
"I love bruises!" Katie cheered.
"Well, then, lucky you," smiled Esther.
Esther then took up the hammer and finished nailing the last two boards across the plastic Rubbermaid container, which held all the girls' clothes. Then she carried it over to the raft, with a grunt, and deposited the Rubbermaid container on a corner of the craft.
It wasn't a beautiful raft, but it was strong. The escape craft was constructed of a mixture of dark brown maple and oak trees. In all, there were ten twelve-feet long dry logs. The wood had been chopped down with a chain saw, leaving a clean cut at the ends. The one thing on the vessel that drew your attention was the thick, faded red rope tied around the logs. Though it was old, the red rope wasn't weak, and it had been used just enough so that it was easy to work with. A medium-sized cherry tree that had been cut by a chain saw, as well, served as the perfect wood for the oars. The eight sturdiest limbs were chosen, and two groups of four were placed and tied firmly together.
Katie and Esther had not, of course, cut down the wood with a chainsaw themselves. Uncle Henry had done it for them. He cut down the wood. They stole it from him.
"Do you think he'll notice?" Katie had asked Esther, when they were in the process of dragging the wood slowly to the garage.
"Uncle George never comes out here," Esther had assured her. "He'll surely never notice these logs missing. Not that he was going to use them for anything, anyway. He just wanted that little line of trees back there cleared out."
They had named the raft, The Pig, because Uncle George owned a small, black pig named Wincey, though nobody remembered its name. They always pretended to be feeding and watering Wincey, when they were really working on their escape boat.
Aunt Sara thought pigs to be hideous, so she never went anywhere near Wincey. Uncle George, on the other hand, thought Wincey was the third best thing ever created, Aunt Sara being first and beer being second, but he never went out to see his pig, either.
So the girls would say, 'We're going to see the pig!' when they were actually not. So the raft adopted the name, The Pig.
Now that the girls had the mini-boat all done and ready, they could set sail. Katie only had one more question.
"How will we keep Pompom and Sugar from going overboard?" she queried.
"Well..." Esther pondered this thought for a minute. "I'm not sure. But you're a pretty bright girl, Katie. You think of something."
Katie perked up. "Bungee cords!" she hollered enthusiastically. "We'll tie 'em down with bungee cords!"
"On second thought, no," Esther laughed. "I'll think of something. But we need all the bungee cords here, and then some, to tie our boxes down."
"Our grey-colored, oversized, plastic Rubbermaid containers," Katie corrected triumphantly.
"Yes," smiled Esther.
"What day do we make a dash for it?" Katie whispered.
"Why are you whispering?" Esther whispered back.
"That is not a day," Katie observed quietly.
Esther laughed softly. "I know that," she whispered. "I just asked you why you were, are, whispering."
"Because if they hear us, Aunt Sara and Uncle George, I mean, they'll bust us and burn our hard work and make us do the dishes for the rest of forever."
"Good point," Esther commented.
Just at that moment, Uncle George popped his big head out the back door.
"Hey, you dumb kids," he hollered. "Can't you see there's people tryin' to get some beauty rest? It's bedtime! Get in here or I'll burn you up and serve ya' to Whiskers for tomorrow's lunch!"
Esther wasn't concerned about being Whiskers' lunch, though she dearly wanted to correct Uncle George on his failing grammar.
"We wasn't making no racket out here!" Katie retorted loudly. "You made quite a racket, though, when you stuck your big fat head out the door and yelled at us! How'd your head fit through that crack, anyhow?"
"Katie!" Esther hissed.
"Well, Missy," Uncle George raised an eyebrow suspiciously. "You wanna talk like that? Alrighty, then. I'll chop you up and burn you up and flatten your pieces until they're good and level with that darned tile floor."
"I'll pass," Katie replied saucily.
Suddenly Aunt Sara appeared behind her husband.
"Get in here, you brats!" she screeched. "Or you'll get cold dinner! Not that I care, though. In fact," she smiled to herself, "that's a rather brilliant idea."
"Yes, Honeycakes, it was a good brilliant idea of yours," Uncle George told her, in the warmest way he was capable of.
"Come on, Katie." Esther took up Katie's small hand, noticing from the corner of her eye that Katie's thumb had a nasty black bruise on it, and pulled her inside.
Aunt Sara kicked Esther's knee, making the girl wince.
Once everyone was seated in the kitchen (it was unusual for both Aunt Sara and Uncle George to join the girls for dinner), Uncle George began talking.
"You little gals could use some right and proper teaching," he started with his mouth full.
"George," Aunt Sara scolded playfully. "Don't talk with your mouth full."
"You're right!" he exclaimed, a piece of broccoli falling from his gaping mouth and hitting the floor with a small THUMP!
"Well, now, as I was sayin'," he continued, swallowing his broccoli. "You gals aren't gettin' good lessons at that darned school o' yours. They're teachin' you to know what number plus what number equals what number. So me an' Sara here've decided to pull you little brats outta school."
Katie and Esther gasped. "What?!" they exclaimed.
"But- but," Esther stammered. "How will we get taught what we need to know?"
"Need to know? Haw!" Uncle George laughed. "You nincompoops think there's so much in this danged world that you need to know, but there ain't. There's rightly nothin' that's worth knowin', 'less it happens to be properness."
"Well, for someone who thinks that the one thing in the world that might be worth learning something about is properness, you're not very proper yourself," Katie snorted.
"Shut up your ugly face, ya' little brat!" Uncle George hollered.
He reached across the table and thumped Katie on the top of the head very hard.
"Yow!!" Katie yelped.
She quickly brought her fist down on Uncle George's retreating hand.
"HOLY DOLPHINS AND MACARONI!!!!!!" he yelled. "GET UP TO YOUR ROOM YOU LITTLE-" he called Katie a bad name, and stood up so quickly that his chair tipped over.
Katie said nothing, but instead charged up the stairs so loudly that little pieces of the ceiling came dropping down onto the silent watchers.
Esther's heart broke as she thought about her poor little sister being treated so badly. And then, Esther got mad.
Esther tramped up the stairs to join Katie in her room. She had been banished upstairs because she had gotten in, 'Extra, extra super bad, really, really big trouble', Uncle George's exact words.
Her dinner plate had, somehow, 'accidentally' sailed over to Uncle George's stomach and made quite a mess.
The teenager knocked lightly on Katie's door and listened.
"Who is it?" Katie whispered.
"It's your sister, Esther," said Esther.
"Okay," replied Katie.
She opened the door a crack and peeked out, just to be safe, and saw Esther. Smiling funny, she let her in.
"Are you alright?" Esther asked immediately.
"I have a minor headache," Katie responded.
"Minor as in...?"
"Ten outta ten."
"Oh, no," Esther sighed. "Well, I would go get you an ice pack or a heating pad, if we even have one, but I got banished upstairs for three days."
"It's alright," Katie smiled. "It doesn't hurt too bad, and I don't really mind. I'm used to having my head get smashed into the wall. I imagine I'm also banished up here for three days. Maybe longer."
Suddenly, both girls looked at each other and smiled.
It was time to run away.
That night, the two girls crept stealthily out the front door. It would have been easier to go out the back, but from experience, they knew it made horrible squeaks.
Katie carried Sugar, and Esther carried Pompom, both without any trouble. But when they reached the gate that separated the front yard from the back, they ran into a slight problem.
"So," Katie asked, "how do we, um, get by? Without like, putting them down?"
"Hmmmm..." Esther wondered.
"Oh!" Katie hissed. "I know! Okay, so Sugar really likes me, not that Pompom doesn't like you, but this is reality, so let's face it, she can be disagreeable at times, and so Sugar'll be quiet if I tell her to. And I'm sure she won't run away."
"Well, then, let's do it," Esther encouraged her.
Katie gently set down her dog on the damp grass and quietly unlatched the dirty white gate with paint peeling off of it. As it swung silently open, Katie picked Sugar back up and tiptoed through the gate. Esther followed.
Once they got into the garage, Katie pulled a flashlight out of her jeans pocket and flipped it on.
"Pray that Uncle George and Aunt Sara are fast asleep and dreaming about dolphins and macaroni," Katie whispered.
"Oh, really, Katie," Esther smiled.
"Let's get out of here," Katie announced presently.
"Alright," Esther agreed.
Thinking quickly, they put their animals in an enormous Rubbermaid container with no lid on it.
"Help me push this raft out to the stream," Esther told Katie, who leapt to her sister's side willingly.
Together, the girls pushed, pulled, hauled, and dragged the escape craft out to the small river behind their house. Once it was in place, they dashed back to the dark garage for their pets, who were in great distress at their owners' sudden disappearance.
Pompom had begun a dreadful series of whimpering noises, that ended with a MEOW-OW-OW! when the girls ran in.
"Pompom!" Esther hissed, petting her cat's head and scooping her up. "Stop it!"
Katie hugged Sugar close to her.
"Esther," she whispered. "Why not let's keep Pompom and Sugar in this box? We'll just stab holes in it and not seal it entirely."
"Okay," Esther agreed.
Together, they quickly accomplished this.
After that, they carried out the plastic Rubbermaid container, which contained their pets for them, and bungee corded it down to the raft. Making sure everything else was secured only took a few moments. It was.
Katie tried to surpress a giggle.
"What's so funny?" Esther asked.
"Nothing's funny, I'm just so excited!"
"Yeah, me too," Esther giggled.
"Well, then, let's set sail already!"
The night proved to be chilly, but windless. This was good, though; because The Pig was not equipped with a sail.
"Cold," Esther remarked. "Wish I had thought to bring my winter coat."
"We have wool sweaters, so we'll be alright," Katie replied.
"Wool?!" Esther exclaimed. "How'd we get wool?"
"I really don't know," admitted Katie.
They continued to paddle along in silence. The whole thing was very nerve-racking, because on both sides of the stream were houses that anyone could look out of at any time and see the two escapees. But since it was 1:00 A.M., the girls weren't too concerned about people being up and about.
Eventually, as they continued to drift along the winding waterway, the houses on the left were replaced with trees and the right-sided houses, with businesses.
But soon the businesses faded away, and the only thing the two sisters could see were trees on either side of them.
It had been an hour when Katie finally broke the silence.
"When will we be reaching New Zealand, do you think?" she asked casually.
Esther almost dropped her paddle. "Oh my gosh!" she gasped. "I forgot!"
Katie was worried. "You mean," she questioned anxiously, "that we won't be reaching New Zealand?"
"I'm afraid we didn't bring enough of anything to last us that long of a boat ride," Esther sighed.
"I told you we should'a gone to Japan!" Katie cried triumphantly.
"No, Katie," Esther said sadly. "We can't go to Japan, either."
"What?!" Katie yelled.
"Sshhh!" Esther hissed. "Please, Katie, keep it down!"
"Where'll we go?" Katie wailed.
"I guess we'll just have to float away down this creek until we get somewhere safe," Esther replied.
"Darn!" Katie whispered unhappily. "And just when I thought I'd meet a real, true Japanese cat!"
Unfortunately, for the two runaways, darkness only lasted so long. Before they knew it, the sun began to creep up slowly as the moon set, bringing down with it all the black cover the girls had.
"I had nearly almost completely forgotten about morning!" Katie groaned.
Suddenly, Esther gave a cry of alarm. But it wasn't the bright morning sun that had her worried.
"Katie!" she cried urgently. "Stop the raft!"
Katie, surprised by her sister's cry, looked up to see what had happened.
"Ahhh!" Katie screamed.
Right in front of them was a teeny tiny waterfall, that lead right into the free, open sea!
Despite their desperate actions to stop the craft, the girls just kept getting pulled closer and closer to the waterfall. And the ocean.
"I know that we've been forgetting important stuff lately," Katie yelled above the ocean's crashing noises. "But I think that forgetting about the ocean takes the cake!"
They finally quit trying to fight the pull of the water, and let it drag them and The Pig over the edge of the fall. Katie closed her eyes.
The waterfall only lasted a second.
Katie opened her eyes again and looked around at the wide open water.
"This is so intense," she breathed. "We should star in a action movie!"
"An action movie," Esther corrected.
Strangely enough, they both felt excited.
But the happy feeling changed to one of horror when the girls felt big raindrops hitting their heads.
"Oh, rats!" Katie exclaimed. "A thunderstorm! Just what we need at a time like this!"
The rain began to get louder and harder, and pretty soon Esther saw a bolt of lightning shoot down from the sky, followed by an ominous roll of thunder.
The Pig rocked as large waves picked it up and dumped it off, tilting it dangerously. Sugar barked and Pompom meowled angrily, as the raft tipped and bumped, and soaked in the sea spray.
Suddenly, an enormous wave loomed up over them.
''Hold on!!!!" Esther shreiked.
Katie and Esther held on for dear life, as the monster wave crashed down on their heads, knocking both of them out.
Katie woke up coughing water. Esther leaned over her concernedly.
"Are you alright?" she queried.
"What? I- yeah, I guess so. But where- what happened?" Katie stammered.
"I'm going to assume that we got knocked out by that big wave, and somehow or another stayed on the raft," Esther explained. "When I woke up, you were still out of it, we were floating on shallow water, right near this island. So I paddled us over here and tried to revive you."
"Wow!" Katie exclaimed. She tried to sit up, but when she did she began to cough so hard that Esther had to pound on her back. "Wow!" Katie repeated. "We really could star in a action movie! 'Cause like, we had to escape in secret from the bad guys, Aunt Sara and Uncle George, on a little teensy home-made raft. Then we realized that we couldn't reach where we wanted to go, so then we just sort of sat on our boat in the middle of the ocean and waited for something to happen. And so a thunderstorm came! But the real action-movie-like part is how we washed up on a deserted island! We are incredible!"
"An action movie, Katie," Esther corrected her. "But I really don't know for sure if it's deserted."
"You mean," Katie began excitedly, "that there's a possible chance that this island might perhaps be inhabited by human-eating cannibals with face paint, grass skirts, spears, and those big sticks they carry on their shoulders to tie you up on, and then put you over a fire to roast you and have you for supper?"
"But," Esther added, "I never said there couldn't be man-eating bears."
"MAN-EATING BEARS?!?!" Katie yelled. "LET'S GO SEE!!!"
"Hold on, there, Kit-Kat," Esther smiled, calling Katie a favorite nickname of hers. "First, we have to make a camp. We're spending the night here, obviously, possibly every night for the rest of our lives."
"You mean it?" Katie gasped.
"OH BOY!!" Katie whooped, pumping her fist in the air.
Katie looked around. She saw a big, tall, skinny rock that reminded her of a silo. Just like on their parents' farm.
"Look!" Katie pointed. "It looks like Papa's silo! Let's name this place Silo Island!"
"It sure does look like a silo!" Esther agreed. "Okay, Silo Island it is."
Suddenly, the twelve year old gave a cry. "Sugar!" she hollered. "Pompom! Esther! Are the pets okay?!"
"Oh, yes," Esther laughed. With that, the teenager stood up, walked over to the raft, opened one of the plastic Rubbermaid containers, and called for the two animals.
Sugar, with a joyous bark, leaped out of the box and ran to Katie. She yipped and jumped and stretched and ran in circles around her giggling owner.
Pompom, on the other hand, was not so enthusiastic. Slowly, she peeked her fluffy white head out the box and yawned. Then she put one dainty paw on the rim, pulled herself up slowly and made a crashing fall to the sandy bank.
Esther laughed and picked Pompom up, who was busy licking her paws and wiping her face.
"Come on, Katie," Esther laughed merrily. "Forget about a campsite! Grab Sugar and follow me!"
The girls pulled The Pig all the way up onto the rocky beach so the blue water couldn't pull it back into the ocean. Then they began to explore the island. Katie held onto Sugar; the little beagle didn't weigh hardly anything. Esther lugged Pompom, who could've lost a pound or two.
The sand on the beach was rough and rocky. Instead of palm trees, the island sported massive boulders that randomly dotted the perimeter.
The forest on the island was extremely difficult to traverse. Though the ground was roughly flat, the intense thickness of the trees and branches made even crawling through the woods nearly impossible. There were a few clearings in the thicket of trees that served as wonderful resting spots. It was worth fighting through the bramble and tangled branches to reach them.
A few streams flowed throughout the island, zigzagging between trees and rocks. Since the island was surrounded by the ocean, salt water often mixed in with the streams. The only pure fresh water on the island came from rain, which would collect in large crevices on boulders and such.
The west side of the island was the roughly sanded beach. The rest was pretty much trees and big rocks. Besides where the light-brown sand met the blue water, there were rocks edging the island. While the east and south had bigger boulders, the north side was rimmed with smaller rocks.
"Hey, Esther," Katie called over her shoulder. She was climbing over a large, flat rock in the forest and was ahead of her sister by nearly five feet. The escapees had made their way through the thick bramble little by little, and were now in one of the little clearings.
"What?" Esther called back.
"Let's play a game!"
"What game?" Esther asked. "Wait up!"
Katie sat down on the flat rock. "Let's pretend that we're top-secret spies, who were sent on a mission to retrieve a missing... um, I don't know, a missing... valuable piece of paper with lots of stupid words on it. And my name is Agent Kat Kiranda. You have to choose your name."
"My name will be Agent Eva Ellinson," Esther announced, playing along.
"Good!" Katie clapped, except for that clapping was seven times more difficult while holding an eleven pound beagle, who had no intention of helping out and holding herself up.
"Where do we start?" Agent Eva Ellison queried.
"Campsite!" Agent Kat Kiranda cried.
Katie jumped up from the boulder and ran to the beach, using the path through the twisted branches the girls had made when they tramped through them.
Esther followed closely behind. "You mean," she panted, once they had reached the rocky beach, "that we make ourselves a campsite, or do you mean we search a campsite?"
"Make one," Katie replied, in her best official-sounding voice.
The two pretend spies quickly pulled all of the Rubbermaid containers off the raft, and lined them up in a square shape on the rough sand. Carefully, they wiggled the paddles into the ground and draped a blanket (they had dedicated an entire plastic box to sleeping supplies, so they had roughly four blankets to use on their fort), over top of it.
"Perfectly splendid-like!" Katie declared.
"Nice," Esther remarked.
"Now," Katie broke in, "we begin our search! I'll take the west and north sides, you can cover the east and south. You're legs are longer so you can get around on those big boulders quicklier."
"I don't think quicklier is a word," Esther mused thoughtfully.
"Yeah, well, who cares," Katie snorted. "Put the pets in the Rubbermaid box."
They did this.
"Okay, Eva Ellison!" Katie stood up and stretched her arms. "Ready, set, GO!"
Katie took off leaping across the sand, while Esther walked briskly over to the large rocks.
"Oh, man," Esther groaned. The blue sea spray washed onto the rocks, making them wet, slippery and treacherous to walk on. "I'll bet Katie didn't reckon on there being wet, slippery, treacherous boulders for me to walk on. I probably shouldn't but... if we're going to live here, I suppose I'd better get the hang of it. Anyhow, if I try it now, then later I won't have to go across them for the first time!"
Esther grabbed a sturdy tree branch that jutted out from the dense forest. Grasping it tightly, she gingerly put her booted foot down on one of the rock's mossy surfaces.
"So far, so good," she murmured, not forgetting to note how her voice shook. "Now all I have to do is actually try out my weight on it," she added.
Slowly, slowly, slowly Esther shifted her weight from her first foot to the one on the slick boulder. Nothing happened.
"I guess I'll be somewhat okay if I don't go twirling or dancing along these death traps," Esther thought, smiling despite her anxiety.
It was a long process, and she had too whole shores to cover, but Esther was a smart girl, and she knew how to handle herself without being too down-right stupid.
"Yee-haw!" Katie whooped. She flung her imaginary cow-girl hat high into the air. "This beats everything I ever done in my whole long life!" Then she giggled, thinking about how Esther would jump on her terrible grammar.
Katie was straddling a thick tree trunk. It was a very dead tree, but it was also very strong. It had broken near the trunk, and had fallen out far over the water. Very far out over the water.
The crown of the oak was approximately fifteen feet away from the shoreline, and the branches were angled just right so they formed a kind of little canopy over the two branches that were like seats.
The whole arrangement was beautiful. And it made Katie happy.
Agent Kat Kiranda, a.k.a. Katie Anderson, had already explored the entire north and west sides of Silo Island. Now she waited patiently for Agent Eva Ellison, a.k.a. Esther Anderson, to rejoin her.
Finally, Esther came running towards her sister, smiling so wide that Katie was sure her teeth would fall out.
"Don't do that!" Katie called out urgently.
"Don't do what?" Esther asked, puzzled.
"Smile! Your teeth're gonna pop out!"
Esther laughed. "That's a fantastic log! Where'd you find it?"
"Right here. What'd you think, I found it way back there in the forest and drug it all out here and set it up all nice and pretty just for you?"
"No, and you should've said, dragged it out here, rather than, drug it all out here," Esther commented.
"Oh, no!" Katie cried in mock fright. "The grammatical error police are going to get me!"
"Yes!" laughed Esther. "But seriously, we have stuff to do. First off, we have to rescue our poor animals. We should make a pen for them, so that they don't have to cram themselves into a little tiny space whenever we want to walk around with free hands."
"Yeah!" Katie interrupted. "No personal space! Poor guys, them's prob'ly so cramped in 'at box they can't breath no good a'tall."
"That sentence," began Esther, " is so horribly messed up, that I cannot possibly correct it, without paper, pencil and a replay of the whole thing."
"Perfect!" Katie clapped. "I knowed it would work!"
"Knew, Katie. It's knew."
Katie woke up with a yawn and a stretch. She looked around hungrily for something to eat, but obviously saw nothing to match her desire.
"Wake up, Esther!" Katie shook her sister.
Esther jerked her head the other way and mumbled something inaudible.
"Oh, well, who's playing momma now?" Katie laughed. "Get up, sleepyhead!"
Esther moaned and rolled over, peeking one pretty blue eye open at her sister.
"Good morning!" she stood up sleepily. Esther yawned and stretched her long legs.
"Breakfast?" Katie pestered.
"Breakfast sounds good," Esther thought happily out loud.
"Yeah, I know, that's why I need breakfast right now! My stomach is ready to flop out of me and then, guess what? You'll have to stitch it back in 'cause everyone knows twelve year olds can't cook."
"Uh, yes, actually, most of them can," Esther replied.
"Maybe the ones with the more advanced brains," Katie snorted.
"Maybe," Esther said, smiling. "We'd better eat now, I'm thinking."
"Good idea," Katie replied readily.
Esther opened one of the Rubbermaid containers, that they put their food in, and pulled out two bananas, two water bottles, two peanut butter sandwiches and two plates.
"Where'd we get all this stuff?" Katie gawked at the food.
"The refrigerator in the garage," Esther whispered, as if someone would hear and ban them from the garage forever.
The two girls then sat down and enjoyed their breakfast-picnic. When they were done, they put their trash in the food box.
Then, from the food box, Esther pulled out dog food. Miraculously, Pompom didn't care whether she ate dog or cat food. This was incredible, because Pompom was the most high-maintinence, picky eater in all of the Anderson family. Which was saying something, because Katie was notorious for being a pure pain when it came to food.
Esther poured a little pile of dog food on the Rubbermaid lid, then let Pompom and Sugar out of their pen and over to their breakfast. It was gone in less than three minutes.
"What?! We still have to make our beds, and brush our teeth, and comb our hair, and... and, I don't know. What do we have to do?"
"Nothing," Katie emphasized. "Absolutely nothing. That, my dear sister, is the beauty of living on a deserted island somewhere, I'm guessing, near the middle of the Atlantic ocean with nobody around to rule your life."
"It is nice," Esther smiled slowly. "I guess we really don't have to do anything. But let's at least make our beds and brush our teeth. I hate to not brush my teeth."
"Did you seriously waste precious time packing teeth brushes?" Katie asked in disbelief.
"Tooth brushes," Esther corrected. "And yes I did."
"Let's play spies!" Katie cried.
"Alright," Esther agreed, but less enthusiastic as she had been the other day.
"Are you okay?" Katie asked with great concern.
"I'm fine," Esther smiled. "I'm just kind of homesick."
"You're kidding." Katie's mouth fell to the ground. "There is no possible way you can even remotely miss Aunt Sara and Uncle George. You're not having a mini stroke, are you?" she added shyly.
"No!" Esther exclaimed. "Of course I'm not having a mini stroke, and I absolutely do not in the least miss Aunt Sara and Uncle George!"
"Then why ya' homesick?"
"I miss my room," Esther sighed. "And the little window seat Pompom and I would always lie on when it would rain. I miss your room, too. And I miss my bed."
"That explains some stuff," Katie remarked thoughtfully. "But you're not like, you know, SICK sick, right?"
"No, no," Esther giggled. "I'm fine. Do you still want to play spies?"
The two girls began to split up, but Katie stopped and turned around.
"You still okay with doin' those rocks?" she checked.
"Oh, sure, I'll be fine." Esther gave her a reassuring smile. Somehow Katie felt it very unreassuring.
Shrugging off her funny feeling, the pretty brunette sprinted off towards the forest.
"Ouch!" Esther winced, as she slit her hand on a sharp, slippery rock.
Sucking her wound, she continued to make her way across the deadly shoreline.
"This is so incredibly stupid of me," she thought in amazement. "I would never do anything of this sort at home. I wonder what's gotten into me? I mean, I could be risking my life on a game. A GAME!"
But it seemed safe at the moment, and she was having fun, so Esther tossed aside her worry and walked on.
Katie whacked a broken tree branch out of her way, and ducked as it flew back at her.
"Stupid, close trees!" she growled, panting for breath. "I can't move. I'm probably lost. My breathing air is invaded by trees. And no doubt Esther's waited on me for hours."
But nevertheless, Katie tramped on, yelling at the branches as they scratched and cut her.
Finally she burst out onto the beach. Katie had been backtracking, because she knew if she had kept going back farther and farther into the forest, she would never find her way out again.
"Freedom!" she cried, running in circles and waving her arms about.
Katie scanned the sand for Esther but, to her surprise, didn't see her. So Katie galloped over to her happy place, the big tree that hung over the water. She scrambled across to the very end. Katie hadn't been that far before.
It had a gorgeous view of the cotton candy clouds, as they floated carefree across the blue and pink sky. Katie leaned back and closed her brown eyes, waiting for Esther to come back.
But she never did.
"ESTHER!!!!!" Katie screamed. Her voice was hoarse from yelling, but she didn't care. Katie kicked everything in her path out of the way.
"ESTHER!!! CAN YOU HEAR ME???!!!" Katie tripped over a loose stone and landed on her face. But she didn't get up. She lay on the ground and cried.
"Where are you?" she whimpered. "Why didn't you come back?"
Katie drew her hand over her eyes and continued searching. Suddenly, a thought occured to her.
"The rocks!" she gasped. "Maybe she- oh, I hope not!"
Katie ran at top speed, faster than she had ever run before. When she reached the wet boulders, her heart stopped.
Esther lay fifteen feet away from Katie on the rocks, her face downward with her right foot in the sea.
"ESTHER!" Katie gasped.
Katie didn't care. She jumped over the rocks, then ran and climbed until she reached her sister. Katie was no doctor, but even she knew it wasn't good that Esther's forehead was bleeding. She was also unconscious.
Katie listened to Esther's heart.
"Hallelujah!" she cried, when she heard it beating steadily. "So now that I know you're alive, I just have to carry you back across the slippery, deadly rocks, all the way to the raft, load you on, with Sugar and Pompom, and take you to a hospital somewhere in civilization. The only problem is, I can't carry you."
But Katie had a quick mind, and it immediately went to the plastic Rubbermaid container lids.
"Perfect!" she exclaimed.
Katie sprinted back, faster than before, to the beach, snatched up the first lid she saw and flew back to her sister's side.
"It's okay, don't worry, I'm here," Katie soothed her. But Esther was still unconscious, so it didn't really matter either way if she was calm or not.
Gingerly, Katie slid her sister's limp form onto the box top and tried picking it up. This did not work.
"I guess I'll have to slide you," Katie decided regretfully. But it was a far simpler task than carrying Esther.
Katie dragged her sister across the rocks, which was easier said than done. But Katie was determined to rescue Esther.
When she finally reached The Pig, Sugar and Pompom were whimpering.
"Emergency! Comin' through!" Katie warned. As usual, Katie's humor masked her anxiety.
She threw some blankets on Esther and wrapped her head to slow the bleeding. She then slid Esther onto the raft, grabbed Sugar and Pompom, still in their box, and bungee corded them down.
Then she grabbed the oars and took off in the basic direction of Rhode Island, which is where they lived, of course.
"Land ho!" Katie announced. "We're almost there, hang on," she assured Esther, who had come to hours ago.
"Help!" Esther mumbled weakly, jerking her head to face Katie.
"It's gonna be fine!" Katie soothed her. "I'm helping you now. More help is coming. You'll be... okay."
Esther gave her a faint smile and whispered, "Thanks, Katie."
Katie had aimed for the closest shore she could find. When she landed, Katie's eyes searched the area for a house.
She saw a pretty light blue house, with yellow shutters and a yellow door. It seemed nice enough, so Katie hauled The Pig up onto land, then dragged Esther up to the yellow door.
"Darn!" she hissed to herself. "I hope them house onwers are nice, good people. What if Aunt Sara and Uncle George moved out and bought this place? That wouldn't be good." Katie gulped and knocked loudly on the door.
In her mind, Esther was dying and needed medical attention NOW. But Katie was not one for displays of emotion.
"Coming!" a high, sweet voice called. A middle-aged woman, with short, fluffy white hair, opened the door with a smile.
"Well!" she exclaimed, searching Katie up and down. "If it isn't Katie Anderson! I haven't seen you since your parents... well, passed. And what's this?" she peeked around Katie's shoulder and gasped, taking off her small eyeglasses as she did.
"Esther!" The woman looked hurredly at Katie for an explanation.
"Long story," Katie smiled, thrilled and immensely relieved at the sight of an old family friend. "She needs help, I'm pretty one hundred percent sure, right now."
"Oh, gracious me!" the lady exclaimed. "Hurry inside! I'll help you. Lay Esther on the couch, once we've got her in."
The two friends pulled Esther into the cozy, welcoming house and carefully laid her on the red sofa. The woman, who introduced herself as Jane McBeth, bathed Esther's wound and wrapped her head in a clean cloth.
Once Jane had fixed Esther up as best she could, she turned to Katie with a smile.
"Is Esther gonna be alright?" Katie worried.
"She should be alright," Jane patted Katie's head. "But just to be extra safe, I've contacted my neighbor, Mr. Wells. He's a truly wonderful doctor, and polite as well. He said he would be here shortly."
"So she'll be okay?" Katie wanted to be sure.
"I don't dare say anything, for I honestly know nothing about this sort of thing," Jane admitted. "Don't worry too much! It's not good for you, so I hear. Hot chocolate?"
"Yes, please," Katie smiled.
Jane brought out two steaming mugs and handed one to Katie.
"Sit down, darling," Jane offered. She poked the wood fire with her tongs, then sat down beside Katie and put an arm around her.
"So," she began, "how are you faring with your replacement guardians?"
"What?!" Katie nearly spit up her hot chocolate. "Aunt Sara and Uncle George are REPLACEMENT guardians?!"
"Yes, I know," Jane replied. "It all sounds fishy. But I asked to see the will, and they showed it to me. The paper said, loud and clear: If Simon and Kayla Anderson ever die, their children, Katie and Esther Anderson, will go to their aunt and uncle, Sara and George Koman, along with fifty thousand dollars."
"Did the will REALLY say that?" Katie asked suspiciously.
"Well, no," Jane admitted. "But it read something similar."
At that moment, there was intense knocking on Jane's yellow door.
"Fiddlesticks!" Jane sighed. "I can't stand it when people bang on my door for no reason!"
Jane hurried over to answer her caller, and was very pleased to see Dr. Wells on her doorstep.
"Come in!" Jane welcomed him. "Esther is over there on my sofa."
Dr. Wells thanked her and handed her his bulky coat, then headed over to tend to his patient.
Jane hung up the coat and turned to Katie.
"Let's go into the kitchen, dear," she said.
Once the two were comfortably settled in Jane's yellow and green kitchen by the wood-burning fireplace, they picked up on their conversation.
"So, why did you ask to see the will?" Katie queried.
"Because you two were originally left to me and my husband, Henry," Jane replied. "Then when we went to get you, after we heard your parents had passed away, we learned that someone else had taken you home with them. It was very complicated. But we were told the will had been changed at the last minute and you were actually to go with your aunt and uncle."
"But they abused us!" Katie cried. "Mother and Father wouldn't ever leave us to people who they knew would hurt us!" She went into full detail of the awful things that Aunt Sara and Uncle George had done to her and Esther.
Jane sat in silence for a moment. After a long, thoughtful sigh, she stood up and grabbed her coat. "Follow me, dear."
Then, without another word, Jane took up Katie's warm hand and walked to her blue cube-car. Jane drove in silence until they reached the shabby white house owned by Aunt Sara and Uncle George.
Jane still said nothing as she got out of her car, struggled up the cracking sidewalk and knocked loudly on the dirty brown door, hanging loosely on its hinges.
Katie watched in amusement from the car.
"Darn those door-knockers!" came Uncle George's muffled voice from inside. "What could 'em want at lunch time? I ain't eaten yet!"
The noises that followed sounded like grunts and groans, with an occasional noise that reminded Jane of someone tossing a grand piano down a flight of steps.
Jane knocked some more.
"I'm comin', you blasted idiot!" Uncle George hollered.
He yanked open the broken door only to be greeted in the face... with Jane McBeth's little fist.
Katie wondered if she was dreaming as she watched the whole episode. But she was awoken from her trance by the loud clink of two teeth smacking the filthy linoleum floor.
Katie found herself laughing and running up the driveway, while Jane stepped away from Uncle George, who stood in stunned silence as his slow mind processed what had just occurred.
Jane grabbed Katie and pulled her behind her, then dug through her purse until she found her pink and yellow cellphone. She dialed 911.
By then, Uncle George finally realized what had happened, and he began yelling and stuttering at Jane until he attracted the attention of Aunt Sara. She quickly came bursting out of the kitchen covered in egg shells and flour.
"WHAT IN THE NAME OF--?!?!" she shrieked, but was cut off by Uncle George's howling as he noticed the absence of his two teeth.
"MY TEETH'RE GONE! THEY'RE GONE, I TELL YOU! EVERY SINGLE LAST ONE OF THEM'S DARN DISAPPEARED!"
"Hello," Jane said to the woman at the other end of the phone, "I would be very appreciative if you would send out some policemen as soon as possible."
There was a moment of silence, then Uncle George took off running back into the house, grabbing Aunt Sara up as he passed by her.
"WAIT!!" Katie yelled, tugging on Jane's shirt sleeve. "THEY'RE GETTING AWAY!!"
Jane smiled and patted Katie's head. "They won't get very far," she replied calmly.
Jane frowned, gently pried Katie's fingers from her shirt, thanked the woman on the other end of the phone and hung up.
"Well, they can't jump the river, can they?" Jane asked in reply.
Katie shrugged impatiently. "Who knows? I mean, Uncle George is WAY too fat to do anything athletic, and Aunt Sara sure couldn't pick 'im up and jump while holding him."
"I know," Jane smiled, "and if we alert the neighbors, maybe they can help us hold those two until the cops arrive."
Katie then scrambled over to the neighboring home, banged on the door and pleaded with the owner to help her hold Aunt Sara and Uncle George.
Jane smiled and shook her head, then walked briskly over to the opposite house, knocked on the door and calmly asked the man to help her and Katie.
Of course, the neighbors were more than pleased to assist the two females. In fact, the men were rather thrilled at helping somewhat 'capture' Aunt Sara and Uncle George, who were not very pleasant people in the least.
So the men (whose names were something like Oliver and Ben) waited until the two villains rounded the corners of the house, then held them captive while Katie and Jane kept an eye out for the police.
When they finally arrived, the three policemen jumped out of their car and came strutting up the driveway, their badges glinting in the light.
"Jonathon at your service," the one in the lead said, sticking his hand out for the girls to shake. "Where is your emergency?"
"There," Jane pointed to the two men, holding a cursing and struggling Uncle George. Aunt Sara sat by a tree, glaring at anyone who looked at her.
The three police officers then walked over to Oliver and Ben.
"I'm assuming these are the crooks?" the third cop asked, gesturing at the furious couple.
"Yep," Oliver confirmed, tightening his grip in Uncle George's arm.
The three officers, who later introduced themselves as Jim, Jerry and Jonathon, took everyone away for questioning.
Once at the police station, Jerry asked the four non-bad guys to sit down.
The rest of the time was a blur of excitment for Katie. She had had an exhausting day, after rescuing Esther and witnessing Jane's epic tooth-removal.
They were asked lots of questions.
Finally, after the policemen had apparently recieved all the information they needed, they told Oliver and Ben they could go home.
"What about me?" Katie asked, in the most impatiently polite way she could muster.
Jonathon turned and studied her, his blue eyes shimmering brightly as he laughed in reply, "You can go home, too. Wanna sucker?"
Katie's raven head bobbed up and down.
Jonathon laughed and ruffled her hair.
After Katie got her sucker (for Esther, of course), she and Jane got up, thanked the policemen uncountable times and left quite satisfied with themselves.
And they had every right to be.
"...and then Jonathon, the blue-eyed cop, gave me a sucker. I brought it back for you, though," Katie ended, handing Esther the blue cotton candy sucker, for Katie dearly loathed cotton candy.
"Thank you, Katie," Esther laughed, hugging Katie numerous times and smiling so big Katie was just POSITIVE her teeth would pop out this time.
But before Katie could remind her sister of the dangers of smiling too big, Jane came bouncing into the living room, holding a tray of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies.
"You girls finally ended that tale?" she teased, setting the tray down and patting each of them on their heads.
"Yeppers," Katie said, snatching up a gooey cookie.
"So," Esther began sitting up and grabbing herself a cookie, "you're our REAL and TRUE and RIGHTFUL guardian? And Aunt- I mean, Sara and George are... well, in big trouble? And what shall we call you?"
"Mee-Maw!!" Katie proudly blurted out. "We'll call her Mee-Maw Jane! I've always wanted a Mee-Maw Jane!!"
Jane laughed. "Don't worry, Esther dear, those two crooks will be locked up safe and sound. You may call me whatever you wish... to an extent, of course, but you get my point. And do you remember my husband, Henry, from church? I'm sure he'll be home soon, and he will be simply thrilled to learn that we have you!"
"Yeah, I remember him. He's real nice," Katie responded, her mouth full of cookie. But her actions reminded her of Uncle George, and she promptly stopped and swore to herself never to do it again.
And so, they all sat there, laughing and choking on their cookies and milk, while trying to speak over top of it all. And obviously, this didn't work, so they finally gave up and surrendered to just laughing and smiling and being one big happy family.
And the happiness continued when Grandpa Henry joined in, for he had a very nice voice and a nice blue hat and even a very good sense of humor.
The girls' new lives were balanced with discipline and love, and they finally began to heal from all the past trauma they had experienced.
Sugar was VERY excited about these new changes, for she got fed twice a day, while before she was only fed once.
Pompom was not as ecstatic about what was happening, for she now had to actually put out an exhausting effort to drag herself up in the morning and go ALL THE WAY DOWNSTAIRS TO HER FOOD BOWL.
But Pompom survived.
Sara and George were later confirmed as despicable cheating persons who had been making evil plots for a very good amount of time. They were sentenced to prison for a very long while, though their cat, Whiskers, and neglected pig, Wincey, were taken in by some caring neighbors.
And so Katie, Sugar, Esther, Pompom, Mee-Maw Jane and Grandpa Henry all lived a life of ease.
Until Katie got a car.
LPH Writing Class stories 2012-2013