Saturday, June Eighteenth, late morning, Walli-Wo island time
Princess Lulu had been a bit of a pill at breakfast. She pretended she wasn’t even aware that Alex was at the table. Alex was mildly impressed by how convincing she was, since it was such a small table. Given a choice between getting the silent treatment, and having to fend off another enthusiastic, if one-sided, game of footsie with a randy princess, well, the silent treatment was just fine.
Meanwhile, breakfast in the storm shelter was every bit as tasty as breakfast in the great hall had been. It turned out that King Lemmy was also a mean fry cook.
King Lemmy didn’t seem to notice that Lulu was giving Alex the cold shoulder, and he chatted amicably with Alex and Bruce as they ate.
Afterwards, while Alex was walking back to his bedroom, he heard Lulu behind him.
She said softly, but sharply, “I can’t believe you locked me out of your bedroom last night.”
I wish I’d thought to start locking my bedroom door the first night I was here, Alex thought, but did not say. Instead, he said, “Sorry Lulu. Call me old-fashioned.”
She blew a raspberry at him, and stormed off to her own room. Apparently she was angry enough that she didn’t even want to pinch his butt.
Alex was completely OK with that. He and his unmolested butt went back to his bedroom, and hopped in the shower.
During breakfast, Bruce had mentioned that the storm would probably pass later in the morning. While Alex was in the shower, he wondered where he should start searching for King Lemmy’s great great grandfather, and suddenly the previous night’s dream came back to him in a rush. The statues, King Lemmy’s ancestors, had told Alex where to find King Lemmy’s missing great great grandfather.
After they’d told him everything they knew, Alex had asked, “Why didn’t you tell King Lemmy about this directly?”
“We will, if we have to,” the statue that seemed to be acting as spokesperson for the group said. “But the reason we hadn’t already told him was that we were all exhausted from fighting off the intruder. Just talking to you is tiring, and we don’t even have to do anything, physically that is, to communicate with you. Imagine how much effort it takes to smash out a door.”
“There’s a bunch of you, though. Why not chase down Harry yourselves?” Alex said.
“Because we were exhausted, like I just told you, and because we don’t have legs. You try hopping quickly after someone who is panicked and running away,” the statue said.
“Good point,” Alex said.
After that, his memory of the dream got hazy and weird. At least he knew where to find the missing statue now.
Well, unless it had all just been a strange dream. In which case, he could be going on a wild goose chase.
On one of his quarter hourly walks past the weather data center, he noticed that the winds seemed to have slowed down significantly. It looked like the rain was calming down too. Hopefully, that meant that the storm would actually be done soon, and he’d be able to get out of the luxury bunker he was stuck in at the moment.
He’d read all of the Reader’s Digest magazines he’d found, and was starting to wonder if he was going to have to decide between reading, “Island Heat” and “Wicked Summer Nights,” to pass the time. Both of them appeared to be set on tropical islands. Alex wondered if all of these romance novels were the property of Lulu, or if there had been another romance fan in the household. Or if they’d just kind of accumulated in the closet without ever actually having been purchased, the way cheap paperback books seem to do. Alex wondered briefly if paperbacks bred when they weren’t being observed.
It was definitely time to get out of the storm shelter.
Alex decided that perhaps the thing to do was to sit down and try meditating again. It would be a way to pass the time, at least. He found a comfy spot, closed his eyes, and started taking some deep breaths.
He promptly fell fast asleep again.
He woke up to Bruce saying, “Mr. Minor, the storm has passed. We can head back up to King Lemmy’s house now.”
Alex blinked a few times to clear the sleep out of his eyes, and saw that King Lemmy and Lulu were both present as well. King Lemmy seemed amused, and Lulu was still ignoring him.
“Great!” Alex said. “I’m ready, let’s go.”
Back upstairs in the main part of King Lemmy’s home, Lulu promptly vanished. Alex and Bruce walked through the house with King Lemmy, then outside, checking for storm damage. Things had definitely been blown around outside, but apart from some wet places around the as-yet unrepaired doors, everything appeared to be just fine.
Once King Lemmy was satisfied that all was essentially well with his home, Alex took him aside and said, “I had the strangest dream last night. I think I know where your great great grandfather is, and I think I know who took him. But it might have just been a dream, and I hate to waste your time because of my imagination.”
King Lemmy looked at Alex and said, “Tell me about your dream.”
Alex told him about talking with the statues, and their explanation about where his great great grandfather had wound up.
“This is very interesting,” King Lemmy said. “My ancestors do not speak often, and I am not aware of another time that they have spoken with someone outside of the family.”
“They seem to think I would make a good king,” Alex said.
King Lemmy laughed and said, “Of course they do. You will make a great king! But, who did they say was responsible?”
“I don’t want to tell you yet,” Alex said. “If it turns out it was only a dream, I don’t want to accuse an innocent person. I’ll tell you after we find your great great grandfather.”
King Lemmy gave Alex a knowing smile, and after a pause said, “Yes, you will make a great king. Go and find my great great grandfather. I must see to my people now that the storm has passed.”
Alex found Bruce again, and asked him to come with to search for the missing statue.
“How come?” Bruce said. “I kind of want to go check over the plane more than I want to go look for that statue, Mr. Minor.”
“Because,” Alex said, “The islanders are already pissed off at the outsiders. They’re not going to be happy seeing you getting the plane ready to leave. And also, the islanders are pissed off at the outsiders at the moment. That’s us. I’d like to have someone else along, just in case someone decides they need to express their anger by kicking my ass while I’m off by myself.”
“OK, I guess that makes sense,” Bruce said. “Let’s go find King Lemmy’s great great grandpa.”
Walli-Wo is not a large island. It only took Alex and Bruce a couple of minutes to get from King Lemmy’s home to the western coast of the island.
“OK, which tree is it?” Bruce said.
“I don’t know, we’re going to have to search a little,” Alex said.
It seemed, however, that the storm had actually done them a favor. The high winds had blown away a great many of the leaves and branches on the trees, and it only took a couple of minutes to spot a grey statue lodged in the crook of a nearby tree.
“Wow,” Alex said. “That ended up being way easier than I’d expected.”
“Hooray for that. I still need to check over the plane, you know,” Bruce said.
“I know, I know. Help me get this out of the tree and back to King Lemmy’s house,” Alex said.
Getting back to King Lemmy’s home took significantly longer than getting to the beach had, since they were lugging a heavy statue this time.
“How did this thing wind up in that tree, anyway?” Bruce said, mainly to himself.
“It’s a long, weird story,” Alex said.
“Never mind then, I don’t care that much,” Bruce said.
“You’re in some mood today,” Alex said.
The two of them brought the statue into King Lemmy’s house. Thankfully, the front door wasn’t there, so they didn’t have to contend with getting it open. Once again, they received a hero’s welcome, although it was on a much smaller scale than their previous arrival.
King Lemmy glanced up as the two of them, carrying the statue, entered the great room he was sitting in and his face broke into an enormous smile.
“You have returned my great great grandfather to me a second time! I can not thank you enough!” King Lemmy said.
Alex and Bruce set down the statue right there, and were promptly crushed in an enormous bear hug from King Lemmy.
Harry walked into the room then. He appeared calm as always, but his demeanor changed, almost imperceptibly, when he saw the statue next to Alex, Bruce and King Lemmy.
“Now, Alex, you must tell me who was responsible for this,” King Lemmy said.
Alex suddenly felt like he was being a snitch, but he also felt like he couldn’t let King Lemmy remain ignorant. Also, somewhere in the back of his mind, he was aware that all of his information had come from a dream, and might be just a little inaccurate. He’d lucked into more than one recovery before, the dream could just be a coincidence.
“Well,” Alex said, “At least in my dream, Harry was the one responsible. Apparently, he overheard you telling me you want me to be king and wanted to stop that from happening.”
King Lemmy’s expression darkened, and he turned to Harry. Quaking with anger, he said, “Is this true?”
Harry’s expression went from shock to guilt almost instantly. He opened his mouth to speak, but ultimately remained silent and simply nodded.
“Why would you do this?” King Lemmy said.
After a moment’s silence, Alex said, “According to my dream, he wants to be president of the bank.”
Both King Lemmy and Harry looked at Alex in shock.
“But that is the job of the king!” King Lemmy said.
Harry looked like he’d really rather be elsewhere.
“Harry, your betrayal of my trust has wounded me deeply,” King Lemmy said. “But apart from the damage to my home, everything else seems to be unharmed and back to normal. Therefore, as punishment, you are receiving a demotion.”
“Huh?” said Alex, Bruce and Harry.
King Lemmy continued, “You will no longer be my butler and valet, but shall instead be responsible for answering level one customer service calls at the bank.”
Harry turned ghostly pale.
“Oof, that’s harsh,” Alex said.
“Now, get out of my home and report for duty at the bank. There’s a script you’re going to need to start studying,” King Lemmy said to Harry.
King Lemmy turned back to Alex and Bruce. He was quiet for a moment, and then said, “Alex, Harry’s betrayal has given me pause. Although you are indeed a great hero to Walli-Wo, perhaps choosing the next king of Walli-Wo is not up to me after all. And what’s more, I feel that being a man of action such as you are, the monotony of ruling a small island might cause you great unhappiness.”
“Really?” Alex said. Wow, getting out of being king ended up being easier than expected, too, he thought.
“Makes sense to me. It seems like the princess doesn’t like him all that much anyway,” Bruce said.
Later, Alex and Bruce went to check over the Cessna. Miraculously, it had survived the storm just fine, although it had been in a bamboo hangar before the storm and now, well, it wasn’t.
Somewhere in the distance, they heard the sailors making their way back to their boats.
“I’m going to tell everyone I know to stay away from Walli-Wo!” Tammy said, loudly. “This place in the pits!”
I bet everyone on the island just gave a huge sigh of relief, Alex thought.
After Alex and Bruce had landed back in San Diego, they went their separate ways. Alex took a commercial flight back to Minneapolis the following day, and reveled in the comfort of a plush seat and easy access to a flushing toilet, as well as the brevity of the flight.
He got back to the office of Darcy Custom Brokers just before midnight. Megan had already gone home, and Mr. Darcy greeted Alex himself. He led Alex back into his office, and took a seat behind his desk.
“Well, Mr. Minor, King Lemmy told me he was very grateful for your help, and that you went above and beyond the call of duty. He also told me that you are his great friend,” Mr. Darcy said.
“I’m glad to hear that,” Alex said.
Mr. Darcy took a thick envelope out of his desk and handed it to Alex.
“Your payment for services rendered,” Mr. Darcy said. “Now then, how soon will you be ready for your next assignment?”
Final official word count for 2016: 52,884
Thank you so much for reading!