Published August 24. 2009 4:00AM Updated August 24. 2009 11:42AM
I couldn't believe it. The fearless Minerva Wimberly was frozen with fear.
What could I do? I had to snap her out of it. We had to get out of here.
She turned her head and stared out the windshield, her hands locked on the steering wheel. The seals snorted in the back seat. The car reeked of wet fur and mackerel.
I looked up and saw Mr. Perkins and the Doberman bursting through the door. I just had time to put up the windows before the dog was snarling and beating his teeth against the glass.
Now, I thought, I'm going to die. Now I am officially dead.
"Minerva?" I tried to keep my voice from cracking.
She turned and looked at me, her eyes blank, like she wasn't really there.
"We've got to go."
She blinked. The seals gurgled and huffed.
"I didn't think you would really do it." Her voice was far away and dreamy.
"Do what?" I looked past her head and saw Mr. Perkins sloshing across the goldfish pond.
"This," Minerva said. "Why'd you do it?"
"I did it because I …" I sputtered. "Because I … because … " Where was she behind those eyes? "IdiditbecauseIloveyou."
It was like I'd said some magic word. The light came back into her eyes. Her wide mouth spread into a smile. Minerva was back.
I saw Mr. Perkins come down from the fence, and rush toward us with little hopping steps.
"Yes! Yes! Yes!" I shouted. "Go! Go! Go! Let's get out of here!"
Minerva hesitated, an invisible struggle going on beneath the stocking on her head.
"Me too, W.," she whispered. "I love you, too."
Just as Mr. Perkins reached us, Minerva hit the gas. The Cadillac peeled out, fishtailed, sideswiped a telephone pole and bounced over the curb, leaving behind its muffler and a cloud of smoke. The seals in the back seat let out a gasp.
Sirens! Really close now!
"He called the police!" I said. "They're after us!"
"They'll never take us alive," Minerva growled. She jammed her foot on the accelerator. The car flew down the hill and squealed through a red light.
"You ran a red light!" I cried.
Minerva looked at me. "Whatd'ya WANT me to do? STOP?"
"Don't look at me!" I cried. "Look at the ... "
CRASH! The car jumped the curb.
We mowed down a rose bush and swerved into the street. The seals groaned.
"Don't distract me while I'm driving," Minerva said.
We rounded the corner of Riverbend Drive and sped toward the river, the car listing from side to side. The seals clawed the seats to keep their balance, shredding the upholstery. They started barking: "ARK! ARK! ARK! ARK!" and it sounded just like "STOP! STOP! STOP! STOP!"
Minerva stomped on the brake, and the car shrieked to a stop that bounced me off the dashboard. We leaped from the car and pulled open the doors. The seals spilled into the street, their eyes wild in their heads. They raised their noses to the air and sniffed, then headed for the river. Lights went on in several houses.
"Quick!" I cried. "Into the bushes!"
We dived into a hedge just as the door to the nearest house flew open. A woman with big pink curlers on her head stepped onto the porch. She took one look at the seals wriggling across her lawn and screamed, "Aliens! Aliens from outer space!"