‘Are you guys talking again?’ Piscine asked the twins. Piscine lost her train of thought and she hated it when it happens but everything being said is important right now. Alder and Oak both looked at her, guilty expressions on their faces.
‘N..no,’ Alder says, stuttering.
‘We were…we were trying to stretch our facial muscles. You see…’ Oak demonstrates but does it so badly that Piscine couldn’t help bursting out laughing.
And she wouldn’t stop.
Alder and Oak had to wait for a while for her to stop. She would look like she is going to stop and but then she starts to burst out laughing again.
‘I’m sorry. I can’t breathe. Goodness. You both are so zheng, you don’t even know it,’ Piscine shakes her head, still smiling. ‘You don’t have to give me excuses. I’ve read that twins,’ she points at them one by one, ‘can talk to each other without really speaking. Something similar to mind speaking. They are not aware of it but of course, it’s different for us. To twins, it’s an everyday kind of life thing. It’s normal for you both.’
Alder and Oak turned to look at each other.
Alder: I don’t get it.
Oak: Me neither.
Piscine sighs. ‘Hello, you are doing that again!’
Alder and Oak look at her with confusion, shaking their heads. In all honesty, they don’t understand what Piscine meant. For them, what they do is as normal as speaking to another person.
‘Piscine, we are still trying to understand what you mean but let us tell you something. Earlier on, we told you that there’s this road map we found earlier today when we were fishing. We found this kowfish that has three horns, very rare.’ Alder says nodding, impressed with the find.
‘Inside that kowfish, is a plastic bottle,’ Oak tells her, nodding at her as well, his face completely serious. ‘And in that plastic bottle, is the road map, according to Mamu anyway.’
It was quiet for a moment and it seemed that it didn’t register to Piscine’s mind what they had just told her.
‘Your mother told you it was a road map?’ Piscine finally said.
‘Yes!’ the twins exclaim excitedly.
‘She must know more?’ Piscine asked, curious.
‘She didn’t say much about it and we lost interest because it’s a road map that we can’t use,’ Alder tells her, his right eyebrow arched. Piscine wasn’t sure if he was trying to look serious because he looked kind of funny to her but she does not say it.
‘And we don’t know how to read it!’ Oak tells her honestly, Alder’s face went from serious with an eyebrow arched to rather annoyed that his younger brother told her that they didn’t know anything about it. So much for having the hot factor, Alder thought.
‘Where is the map?’ Piscine asked, hoping for the worst. They might have torn it to shreds or thrown it into the water. ‘And why are you telling me about this map again? You both mentioned this map twice before.’
‘Because, it has the word ‘Ark’ on it,’ Oak told her, looking at his older brother for support. ‘Mamu said it was a road map to the Ark. We figured you may know something about it and the roads which we have no clue of. Anyway, it’s with Papi. I’m not sure what they did with it. I’m sure they still have it.’
And just as Oak said what he told Piscine about the map, their parents are at home, looking at the very map that has the name in big bold letters, ‘Ark’ on it.
‘What do we do with it, Orange?’ Mango asked her husband.
‘This map is cursed. Best not tell the boys.’ Orange tells his wife.
‘I heard about this…,’ Mango looked behind her, listening for her sons, ‘Ark from my father,’ she tells her husband, whispering this time. ‘He says that so called legendary circus trainer is actually a mad man. He collected all sorts of animals, insects, anything you can think of, cloned them, put them together,’ she tells him, disgusted at the thought.
‘Yes, mi amore. My father told me stories about it too. In the beginning, I thought it was just stories to tell the children to behave and not swim at night, which is forbidden, but you know how children are and rules. Anyway, as I grew up, the myths of the Ark became more and more real. I am seeing creatures in the sea that are not something we’ve seen these years. It’s not a good omen.’
‘But there are always new creatures, Orange. Surely it’s not because of that.’ Mango tells her husband, feeling a little worried but trying to stay positive.
Orange sighs. ‘Maybe. I guess we do have to be positive. Right! Let’s just throw it away. We don’t need it.’
‘No! I want it! I want to keep it!’ Mango protested.
‘But you just said it was cursed!’ Orange replied to his confusing wife.
‘Yes, but you don’t come across maps like this all the time.’ Orange nods towards his wife. ‘Fine, we’ll send it to the family’s collection – will that be alright?’
‘That’s good. Let me at least have a look at it before you do,’ Mango tells her husband who agreed with her.
‘It’s late. The map is not going anywhere. Let us go to bed and study it in the morning.’
Orange and Mango tapped various large bottles which housed a creature that looked like jellyfishes. It gave off a bright light and when you tapped the bottle, it switches off its light but it doesn’t stop swimming around. These creatures are called Sigurs. They are easy to find but you have to travel a long way to find them. They live in between the Warm Waters and the Other Waters which makes it a very long, arduous journey. They also live a very long time and they don’t need to be fed. Unless they feel threatened, they would attack but these creatures are actually peaceful creatures in the wild. Outside the reed house, three shadows can be seen standing outside.
It stopped snowing at the spot where Piscine’s ship is floating. The trio are sitting on the floor, contemplating their next move.
‘We could just go and get it so you can see it, Piscine,’ Alder suggested.
‘We can just take it from home or you can come along with us,’ Oak gave Piscine a big smile. Oak thought it would be nice if Piscine saw their home. She’s always stayed close to the water because she always thought it is safer. ‘It’s night time, Piscine. I don’t think anyone is awake and we’d take the long way. It will just be for a while and if you feel the need to leave, we’re just right next to the waters anyway – if it makes you feel any safer.’
‘I know what you’re thinking Oak, but I know how we can get to your house without having to sneak up on land.’ Piscine says, grinning with her toothy grin. ‘Are you both warm enough? It seems to be warmer again,’ Piscine said as she pointed outside the ship. Alder stood up to look. Oak took a little longer to stand because he is still on the floor of the ship.
‘I’ll check,’ Alder said and went towards the door. He opened the door with slow caution and he started to feel the air come into the deck. It was not as cold, just a little breezy. ‘Ahhh, it feels better now, brod,’ he tells Oak who is still on the floor, looking cautious.
Oak crawls like a caterpillar towards the door. As he felt the warmer air, he rolls out from the blanket and jump stands. Oak forgets that they are floating and it shakes the ship which makes them both a little disoriented. Piscine smiles at the twins’ mortified faces.
‘It’s alright, you will both get used to it,’ she tells them as she makes her way outside, passing them both. Alder and Oak follows her and she stands at the edge of the ship. ‘Follow me, water babies,’ she adjusts her goggles as she says that, she falls down to the calm waters, not making a splash or sound that they can hear. Alder and Oak looks down at where she fell and they felt a little dizzy. They have never been this high before, ever.
‘C’mon Oak, we can do this,’ Alder tells his brother bravely, even if his knees feel weak. Oak does not reply and is holding on to the rail at the edge of the ship. ‘We can’t jump this high, I don’t think adventure is for us,’ Alder tells him as he slowly makes his way up the edge of the ship, adjusting his goggles.
‘What are you doing?!’ Oak asked his older brother, flabbergasted with panic.
‘C’mon, Oak! If I can make the jump, so can you!’
‘It’s a little too high, brod,’ Oak says still not letting go of the rails.
‘We have to jump!’ Alder’s voice has changed. Oak looks behind him and a little further away, he can see figures that look like birds. But it can’t be birds because it’s much too large to be a regular flying creature. It was gigantic and it made a lot of noise.
‘Let’s jump, brod. No more thinking,’ Alder says as she gets down from the edge to pull up his younger brother to him. ‘That doesn’t look good and we have to get out of here.’
Alder jumps, holding on to his brother’s arm, who doesn’t make a sound. The feeling of falling is indescribable to the twins. It feels like everything of your insides is going out of your mouth and your feet won’t stop tingling as if it’s being tickled and scratched at the same time and there is nothing you can do about it but wait for it to stop. Alder and Oak felt like it was the longest time of their lives and when they finally hit the water, there was no splash or sound. Alder opened his eyes and Oak is looking at him. They saw Piscine holding on to Coupe signalling them to stay where they are. The twins look up and they can’t see what is going on but they heard the muffled sounds of something passing. They did not even swim towards Piscine and Coupe in fear that they will be seen or heard by those things in the sky. They noticed Piscine swimming towards them and she signalled for them to resurface.
(Written for 2013 NaNoWriMo.)