Published August 10. 2009 4:00AM Updated August 10. 2009 10:56AM
That night, I lay in bed and thought about the day. The last thing Minerva had said was, "Someone has to rescue those seals, and I'm going to figure out how to do it."
I knew she wasn't kidding.
What was that?
It came from just below my window. I grabbed my glasses and strained to see, my blood drumming in my ears. A dark shape loomed up against the screen.
"W.!" hissed the shape. "You in there?"
"What are you doing?" I gasped, my heart in my mouth.
"C'mon out. We've got to talk."
I pulled on my pants and raised the screen. Minerva stood on top of my father's ladder.
"Are you crazy?"
"Shhh! C'mon." She disappeared down the ladder.
Oh, great. I swallowed. Just. Don't. Look. Down. I backed out the window, my feet waving in the empty air until my toes found a rung. I closed my eyes and hugged the ladder all the way down.
"Where can we talk?" Minerva whispered.
"Let's go down to the marsh."
Silently, we crossed the road and cut through the cemetery. Weird lights flickered across the polished faces of the tombstones.
We picked our way across the marsh, the tall grass damp and scratchy beneath our bare feet. The river spread out before us, a black mirror of the sky. We sat down at the river's edge and dipped our toes in the chilly water.
"I've got a plan," Minerva said, getting down to business.
"You mean," I said, gulping, "about the seals?"
"Duh! First, we get a truck."
"To haul them in."
"How? We can't even drive."
"Don't worry about that now. So we drive the truck to the aquarium. Of course, we do this at night when no one's around."
"Of course," I said, feeling gloomy.
"Then we'll need bait."
"To lure the seals out with. We'll get some fish like they usually eat, and we'll climb the fence and lure them out. Then we'll just lead them into the truck and drive them to the sea."
"This is nuts!"
"What do you mean, nuts?" Her pale face frowned at me.
"It's just nuts, that's all. You know what they'll do when they catch us?"
"They're not going to catch us."
"What do you mean, they're not? You think they don't have guards?"
"Guards. And dogs. I know. I've seen them. Besides, we have no right ... "
"Right!?" she shouted. "Are you telling me it's right to keep those seals in that tiny little pond and make them sit there all day long so idiots can gawk at them? You call that right?"
"No, but ... "
"Well, if you're too much of a coward to help, you don't have to go."
"I'm NOT a coward!"
"Then I don't see what your problem is. Besides, I thought you were my friend."
"I AM your friend. It's just that ... "
"Look, I'm sorry," she cut me off. "But don't you see? I have to do this."
"I guess so, but ... "
Even in the dark, I could feel her eyes.
"It's just that your plan isn't ... isn't … "
Was I really saying this? "There's a lot of details you haven't worked out."
She leaped up and started pacing, a skinny silhouette against the stars.
"That's why I need your brain on this! We've got to plan this down to the last detail. OK, W., what should we do first?"
"We need an escape route."
"An escape route! Of course! What else?"
"We need to find out what kind of security they have, when the cops patrol the place, what kind of fish they feed the seals, how to get them out of their pond ... "
Minerva dropped down beside me. I could see her grin, hovering in the air. Then she punched me in the arm.
"Frimhaus," she growled. "I like the way you think."