We huddled in the hedge, waiting to make a break for the river, but now the whole neighborhood was panicked. Lights flashed on in all the houses. Windows and doors opened and slammed. Heads popped out, shrieked "Aliens!" and popped in again.
All this screaming scared the seals. They wriggled one way, huffing and snorting, then stopped, turned and wriggled the other.
To make matters worse, the night balloon - its lights still eerily flickering -picked this particular moment to come down to Earth. It slowly drifted toward Miss Stiletto's house.
Just then, Miss Stiletto's door flew open. Wearing a long white nightgown and swinging her cane, she rushed onto her porch just in time to see the balloon coming down and the seals stampeding across her lawn.
Her eyes bugged out, and she made a croak. Then she stumbled backward toward her front door.
"Oh, man," growled Minerva. "I never dreamed it could be THIS good!"
At that moment, it got even worse. Backing up, Miss Stiletto stepped into a bucket that was sitting next to a mop on her porch. And when she tried to lift her foot, the bucket came with it.
And then Miss Stiletto did something that, if she'd known anything about seals, she never would have done. She tried to run with that bucket stuck to her foot. She fell down and the bucket went "Clank!" She kicked to get back on her feet, and with every kick the bucket went "Clank!"
At the first "Clank!" the seals swiveled their heads in her direction. At the second "Clank!" they headed straight for Miss Stiletto.
She looked up in time to see them coming, and she shrieked an eardrum-puncturing shriek. She pulled herself up and hobbled back into her house just as the seals came snuffling after her. "Clank! Clank! Clank!" she went, and "Ark! Ark! Ark!" they went, as they charged right in behind her.
Then we heard screams, crashes and the sound of shattering glass.
"Quick!" Minerva hissed. "Let's go see!"
"What are you? Nuts?"
"We can't just leave them in there," Minerva said. "We've got to make sure they get to the river."
"How're we gonna do that?"
"I dunno. Let's just go see!"
We ran across her lawn and up to her front window. We stood on our toes and peered over the sill just in time to see Miss Stiletto go clanking through her living room with all four seals chasing her.
They were hard on her heels, crashing into tables and chairs, knocking over lamps and plants and bouncing off the walls in pursuit of the bucket on her foot ... until one of them spotted the fish tank next to the sofa.
"Oh my Lord!" I gasped.
It was huge. It must have held a hundred gallons. And it was filled with brilliant tropical fish. To a seal, it must have looked like the world's best buffet.
As Miss Stiletto disappeared around the corner, he wriggled up on to her sofa, threw off the top of the tank with his nose and dove in. Water and fish flew everywhere, and the tank rocked crazily on its stand.
Just then, Miss Stiletto came clanking into the room with the other seals behind her. "AAAAA!" she shrieked when she saw the seal in the tank. "AAAAAAAAA!" She charged him, flailing her cane.
The seal saw her coming, and he tried to leap out. NOT a good idea. The tank went over, seal and all, with a BOOM! that shook the house. A tidal wave of tropical fish washed across the floor and knocked Miss Stiletto's feet out from under her. She landed face-down with a SPLAT!
Miss Stiletto sat up and looked around her. Fish were flopping everywhere, and the seals were skating across the floor scooping them up like potato chips.
Then she went berserk. She scrambled to her feet, fish leaping and seaweed dripping off her white nightgown, and wildly swung her cane at the seals.
"I'll kill you!" she screamed. "I'll killlll youuu!"
The seals decided now would be a good time to leave, and they headed for the door. That's when I turned to Minerva and said, "Let's get out of here!"
As we ran back to the hedge, the seals came spilling down the steps of Miss Stiletto's house, and this time, they didn't hesitate. They headed straight for the river.
"The river!" I cried. "Let's go!"