Maya, NEWLY UPDATED!
Maya Roxanne Peterson, age 11, was sitting on the swing of the Peterson’s big backyard. This was near the old oak tree which, today, was shading her as she sat. She always liked that oak tree. Today she sat there, staring at the clouds. She didn’t know what she was looking for, really. Suddenly she saw an elf-like figure staring back at her. He/she/it seemed to be saying something to her, silently, but Maya couldn’t quite figure it out. When she cast her gaze on the old oak, wondering, she was sure she saw something behind it move.
Now she glanced over to Lila, her sister, and Leo, her brother. Leo was nine and Lila was seven. They were locked in a game of Armies. Leo moved one of his little green army guys forward, and Lila shot a cannonball from the little cannon made of Ogels (building blocks). It knocked down three of Leo’s army guys. Maya never really played it much, except on rainy days, when she was bored out of her mind. Then she heard leaves rustling, but the wind wasn’t blowing. Either she was paranoid or something strange was happening! Or, she thought, shaking it off, the cat was in the leaves and she was being stupid.
Magic always takes the young first. Older children are hard, especially boys. Girls Maya’s age usually didn’t entirely believe in faeries or magic, but they would keep hope nonetheless. Since they didn’t entirely “fall for it”, if magic happened to choose them, it was an awkward change from the everyday, and these children stepped into the realm of magic very cautiously. It is against everything they have been told, and true to the form of magic, this acted as a filter – magic could only work with those who were willing to go against what they were used to.
“Lila! Leo! Maya! Time to go!” Their mother called.
Lila and Leo groaned. This again. Maya looked over at Lila. There was something in those overly innocent blue eyes. Something different – not unfriendly, but almost otherworldly…
“NOW!” (Having six kids really seemed to get to her nerves.)
Maya told herself to shut up, got up and they all went to the store.
Their mother strolled down the store’s racks of random, tasteless bleaurgh that she planned to prepare.
Maya spotted a bottle that looked different from the others. She stepped toward it to investigate.
The label read, in capital letters: ELIXIR.
“Maya! Buy anything you want, as long as you can afford it! I’ll be near the cereal!”
Anything, eh? She would have to keep her ‘elixir’ a secret, whatever was in it. She bought it, along with some candy so her mom wouldn’t be suspicious. At least, she tried to buy it.
“Hey kid, where did you get this?” The clerk looked puzzled.
“Over there,” Maya said, pointing. “There weren’t any more like it.”
“We never stock thi…” The clerk saw a chance to score some tips. “That’ll be five dollars, miss. And to let you know, there’s no return on this item.” The clerk grinned.
Maya narrowed her eyes but paid anyway. The idiot was double-crossing her!
The next day, her friend, Jerry, hung out with her outside the school building, waiting for the bell to ring so they could get out of the Autumn wind. The school bully lumbered over to try and look threatening. Or, at least, he tried to be the bully but had apparently lived on Pluto for the past nine years. Every school has one of these somewhere.
Sid pointed at Jerry’s glasses. “Hey four-eyes, I think you’ve been reading some nerdy book about al-gee-bra… ‘cuz you have al-gee-breath! ” he said. How insecure.
Jerry raised an eyebrow in a “Seriously?” gesture but walked past him, followed by Maya, flipping her auburn hair over at Sid in a gesture that dared him to follow. When Sid took it up, Jerry said, “You should never hit a guy with glasses, because…”
“‘Cuz you’ll tell the teacher?” Sid cut him off. “Ooh, I’m so scared. And I don’t. I normally use a stick. But for you, I’ll make an exception.” And with that, he belted Jerry in the gut, as hard as he could, which wasn’t very hard. Jerry didn’t flinch, but instead socked Sid a good one in the nose while none of the teachers were watching.
“I tried to warn you, but you interrupted. As I was saying, you should never hit a guy with glasses. They hit back,” Jerry said. Maya snickered behind him. Jerry can be very strong.
Ah, the young psychiatrist at large. Jerry himself had a secret, one he wasn’t about to give away.
Jerry had just moved there last year, and none of this school’s wannabe “bullies” respected him.
When Maya got home from school, she sat on the swing and stared at the clouds, like she normally did. The elf figure was back, and this time he/she/it was not silent. It said:
Maiai, with here
Elixir, key to our world
Inbushortree, we travel
In possession, hear
Upon hearing this, she suddenly knew that the elixir had something to do with this. She didn’t know what the Maiai part meant, but here is her translation for the rest.
The elixir is the key to the elf’s world
The elves travel in bushes or trees
If the elixir is in your possession, you can hear him.
If you drank it, you can see him.
Maya pulled out the elixir and drank some. She wheezed and keeled over. Lila, sitting on a low branch of the oak tree, the side opposite Maya, felt a disturbance in the fabric of magic and let out her wings to float to the ground. She whirled around the tree and took Maya inside with magic. She put Maya on her bed and left.
Maya didn’t wake up for a very long time. Nothing could disturb her. Nobody noticed her, thanks to Lila. Lila knew, as a faerie, that if Maya had ended up bent double for normal reasons, she wouldn’t have felt the magic congregating in the area and rippling out like a shock wave.
Maya saw things as she slept, not a dream but simply what reality was doing in a distant place. It was peaceful, and she’d never slept so long in her life. She must have slept for two weeks straight, not needing food nor water, perhaps not even needing to breathe. Her door was locked from the inside, so not even the cat could get in…
And then on the first day of the second week, Maya’s eyes suddenly snapped open. Lila felt it, and let everyone know that Maya had just been “taking a nap.” Maya slipped out of her door, noting that it had been locked by someone other than her, and went outside to sit on the swing, but sitting in that particular place made her feel faint, like she had to go back to bed. But she knew she was fine, because anywhere else she felt almost hyperactive, and she found she could scramble up the tree like a squirrel.
She remembered what the little cloud-elf had said. If this was happening, she wanted to see proof that she wasn’t just imagining things. And they traveled in plants, big plants, like shrubs and… trees.
In an instant, Maya had scrambled up the rest of the tree’s height. Nothing was there.
“Amis jinka Chikik!” Something shrieked. “Shaka!” She climbed more and peeked out of the branches. She saw… nothing. There was no way to describe it. It was nothing, and everything at the same time. It was windy but still, warm but cold, light but dark.
Maybe something was there.
Magic at its finest!
She climbed more and found the elf figure clutching a leaf.
“AIEEEEEEEEE! Human!” it shrieked more when it saw Maya. “Ahaina!”
Maya decided she’d better stop trying to make sense of what he was saying.
“Elf!” Maya shrieked at him. Shrieking seemed to be a custom. He stopped yanking on the leaf and looked at her. “I want some answers, please.” Well, now that he’d stopped shrieking, she could afford to be polite.
The elf looked at her. “You see?”
“Yes, I see you.” And hear you.
The elf let out another, quieter, shriek. It was squeaky. The tree’s leaves stopped swirling.
“I’m Maya,” Maya said. “Who are you?”
“Maiai!” the elf shrieked, dropping at her feet.
“What are you doing?”
“You not know?” For some reason, he/she/it spoke in broken English.
“Then I show you.”
“While you are… showing me, what does ‘amis jinka Chikik’ mean?” Maya wanted to know.
“Mean in human, ‘respond to Chikik’,” he said.
“What is a Chikik?”
“Chikik is more than one Chiki.”
“What is a Chiki?”
“Me,” it said.
“You mean there are more Chikik?”
“Yes,” it said.
“What does ‘shaka’ mean?”
“Mean in human, ‘go’.”
“So you were telling the oak tree to go?”
Maya noticed the oak leaf he was clutching was torn in several places… actually, more than several. It was actually torn to shreds, but… Somehow they made a picture if you looked at them one way, as if they were pictures, but if you looked at them in another way, like a shredded leaf, it was just a good candidate for the compost pile. Maybe it made a picture because Maya wanted it to, but she didn’t care. It was a picture to her. The Chiki gave a final tug on the leaf, then pinched it off.
“Here. Look out branches.” the Chiki said.
She did. No longer was there the confusing “nothing and everything” thing, but instead, to her surprise, the picture that the Chiki had torn into the leaf. The Chiki stepped out.
“Follow,” he said.
She did. She followed him through the little village made of logs, trees and lots of leaves. They appeared at a large, hollowed-out log. Its walls were covered with leaves that had letters carved in Chiki language that Maya did not understand. The Chiki must have seen her looking at them, because he said, “Native Chikian. This meeting log.”
Obviously he wanted to show the other Chikik to Maya. He gestured to a door that was like a rat hole.
“Come,” he said.
“Too big,” Maya responded.
The Chiki clutched his shredded leaf tighter. He waved it sharply.
“AKIE!” He screeched. “Close eyes,” he said, softer. She did, then he broke the stem. Nothing happened.
Maya half-reluctantly obeyed. She shrank enough so that she could fit through the door.
“Shrink spell. Easy than bigger whole village.” He grinned.
Through the door was a whole room full of chairs, full of Chikik. Maya’s escort stepped up to the piece of wood that served as a podium. He said something in native Chikik that Maya could not understand, but she heard him say Maiai right before the rest went “Ooooooohhh…”, so this might be important.
“Maiai! Come. Tell name. Tell family name. Tell what like.”
I think I’m this Maiai. He wants me to come. Have I become a celebrity among a bunch of elf things? Maya wondered. She walked obediently up to the piece of driftwood.
“In my land people call me Maya. I like music. I have two sisters and two brothers. My brothers’s names are Brian and Leo. My sisters’s names are Nikki and Lila.”
Half of the Chikik had fallen over in shock by the time Maya said the name Lila. Some of the ones that didn’t were pouring a liquid into the others’ mouths. Others were dragging or carrying them away, possibly to a nurse’s room or something. Maya’s escort was one that fell. She heaved him over her shoulder and took him into one of the village’s log-houses. There was a Chiki in a little dress made entirely of leaves. In fact, all of the Chikik wore either rags, or leaves bound together with leaf stems. It seemed that nobody had clothes that were made by humans. She looked at the Chiki that Maya was carrying.
“I afraid husband has weak stomach. Here, put in bed.” She led Maya to one of the little bedrooms. She pointed to half a hollowed-out log, carved in the shape of a bed. She ran back into the kitchen. Maya followed. She muttered something, then grabbed a vial full of bubbly clear liquid. When she poured the contents of the vial into her husband’s mouth, he immediately woke.
The woman shouted at her husband in Native Chikian, which she apparently spoke rather fluently while her English was broken. She seemed to have a… erm, very large vocabulary.
“Maiai.” her escort said.
“We waited long time,” his wife said.
“What is your name?” Maya asked.
“My name Nua. Her name Hika. Our girl child name Ukiki.”
“Now, why do you live like this?”
“Like what?” Hika asked.
“In logs.” Maya read the puzzlement on their faces.
“How other?” Nua asked.
“You could build houses,” Maya said.
“And,” Maya added, “I haven’t seen a school anywhere. How do you learn anything?”
“What is ‘school’?” Nua asked.
“School is fish!” Hika said.
“A different kind of school,” Maya said with a giggle.
“Hika most smartest in village,” Nua said proudly.
“Well,” Maya said. “What do you do, then? How do you entertain yourselves? What job do you have? You must do SOMETHING.”
“Do?” Nua asked.
“Uhhh… we are tooth faerie.” Hika said.
“The tooth faerie, eh? Where do you get the money for under pillows?”
“What money? We put shiny thing under white thing. Make children happy. Children weird,” Hika said.
“What money for?”
“Do you have a lot of shiny things?”
“In meeting log.”
They went over to the meeting log.
“Look here,” Hika said, opening a hidden door. It was covered by a humongous maple leaf. Inside was more than a hundred dollars’s worth of quarters.
“We find in street,” Nua said.
“Chikik very observant,” Hika said.
“That biggest word Hika know,” Nua said with a grin. “Hika like to show off.” He nodded.
“I think I can get this town prospering,” Maya said, “if you will tell me why everyone freaked when I said Lila is my sister.”
“Time for history lesson.” Hika shook her head. Back into the oak tree they went.
Another etched picture, another strange place. Maya resisted the temptation to repeat, “Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet?”over and over and over again. It took a while, and Maya usually entertained herself by looking out the window and counting the trees. One, she thought.
It has been said more than once that necessity is the mother of invention. It’s false. Invention comes when one is bored, or sick and tired of doing something tedious, like sewing, and then one makes a machine to do it. Laziness is the mother of invention. Laziness is also the mother of hiding games like hide-and-seek, when Dada wants to watch the Super Bowl and Little Girl wants to play. Dada sends Little Girl off to hide and continues watching the Super Bowl. A perfect system.
Eventually they came to a stop and Hika handed Maya a leaf.
“Hold on to special leaf for safety. Do not put down or let go of special leaf.” Hika said.
“You sink through cloud without special leaf.” Hika gave Maya a look that said she’d better stop questioning her seriousness. Hika had said nothing about a cloud until now.
Sure enough, when Maya climbed down the tree, there was a cloud. A very, very, VERY big cloud. On the very, very, VERY big cloud there was a city. A very, very, VERY big city. They entered the city. Inside it was a population. A very, very – sorry. They were smaller than the Chikik, and they were all… faeries. Maya guessed that maybe this place had something to do with Lila. She had been disappearing for weeks at a time since last winter, after all. Anything is possible when you are being led around by Chikik. Nua led them to a spacious apartment building. Inside it was clear that it was not an apartment building at all, but three two-story houses and a little lobby/waiting room arranged in a square. There was a little elevator that led to the second floor.
They stepped inside the little elevator. Hika pushed a little button that said, “Lila”. Up went the elevator. When they came out, they went down a cramped little hall with two doors. Nua knocked on the right door. Lila let them in.
“So, you found them,” Lila said. “I was waiting for this. And I think Leo’s next, but I’m not sure it’ll happen to everyone.”
Maya stared. What the heck? Nua just pointed at Lila. He said, “History lesson.”
Lila explained everything from the recent years.
“So now you’re the predestined ruler of a bunch of elves and later you probably gotta fight some sorta bad elf, who tries to bite or claw off small limbs, in an absolutely ridiculous way. No one ever comes up with anything different for the prophecies, do they?” Lila said.
“Apparently not. They’re not very good at speaking English. I don’t think they have a means of tutoring at all, let alone a school.”
“Uh, yeah. They’re one of the more neurotic types about being seen by humans, so they don’t like exploring in the daytime.”
“What school?” Hika asked.
“Hika know big words,” Nua said proudly.
“Looking,” Hika said.
“See?” Nua said.
“Ummmmmmmmmmm, Hika, can you use that word in a sentence?”
“Because… just do it.”
“I am duh loo king*.” (If you’ve ever wondered why teachers make kids do that, now you don’t.)
“I guess Hika here has been to England.” Maya giggled.
“If you’re loo king, then I’m queen London!” Nua proclaimed.
In case you were wondering, in England, a “loo” is a bathroom. Yes, I know. Just smile and back away slowly.
“Here comes queeeen. All dressed in… greeen.” Hika sang.
“This is getting creepy. Got some earplugs?” Maya asked.
“Green, yellow or orange?”
Several creepy lines of dialogue later, Maya decided they’d better go. She hustled everyone into the tree before they could start more goofiness. Nua hopped on and began his routine again. They ended up not at Maya’s house, but in Chikik-land-place.
“Okay. Now, I need to go back to the place where there is a REALLY BIG log. I need to meet up with Leo and Nikki and Brian. I’ll be in the oak tree tomorrow,” Maya said.
“Nooooooo!” shrieked Nua and Hika.
“If you have to, take me with!”
“Hmmm. Okay. Listen carefully. There is a thing called a doll in my land. I have some old doll clothes that may fit. I’m going to help you. Give me lots of shiny things. You can both come with me. I think I’m young enough to pull off the doll thing. Okay guys, make me bigger. Unless, of course, you want to sit through one of Mom’s hour-length lectures and my outrageous three-hour explanation and then at least a few days of grounding for lying and telling stories–”
Hey, what am I doing? I’m the narrator! It’s not fair that I get to tell all the stories I want right here on paper while Maya gets grounded for it! And parents wonder why their children fail the Creative Writing assignment in Language Arts? Well?
“–Hika, jump in my backpack. Nua, go take us to the really big log place.” One half of her smallish backpack was filled with quarters, the other with Hika. Nua and Maya climbed into the tree.
Dolls were a staple toy in the Peterson household. When Maya snuck in with Nua and Hika in her backpack, along with about twenty dollars’s worth of quarters, and dressed them in doll clothes, she claimed that they were the newest toy in the toy store, and she’d bought them with her allowance. Her parents found nothing unusual about this. Maya hid the money.
“These weird leaves,” Hika said.
“Not leaves,” Maya said with a laugh.
“I like better. This soft,” Nua said.
“They’re warmer, too. Much more comfortable than leaves.”
“Pretty soft warm things,” Hika said.
“Then I’ll get you more.”
Hika and Nua had been given simple doll clothes. Even though Maya hadn’t found clothes that fit the two-foot-high, muscular little elf people very well, she had found some clothes that stretched. Hika found the slightly tight pink sweater she’d been handed to be like a gift from God.
“What about Ukiki?” Maya asked.
“She at friend log for week,” Hika said.
“Do you like carrots?”
“Do you like lunch meat?”
“What lunch meat?”
“Okay. Ever had chicken?”
“Chicken is animal!” Hika said.
“Sort of. I’ll make sure to get you some. Would you like to come with me?”
“But we are Chikik! We be in danger.”
“Not with me around. If I give you hats, you should be disguised pretty well, because give or take pointy ears, right now you look pretty normal.”
She found the old stroller that was used when Lila was little in her closet, then rummaged through her closet for hats.
The Chikik climbed into the stroller. Maya found some shoes for each, handed them their hats, and set off for the grocery store.
If you ever asked someone who was at the store at the time she was there about the two small “children,” they would have told you the same as she did: She was babysitting. Babysitting toddlers, who still liked the stroller and spoke broken English. Then out she came, with all kinds of groceries, and then out of the toy store with an outfit for each Chiki in the whole village, along with two beds for Hika and Nua. Nua showed her a secret box in the oak tree for luggage.
For the longest time, she kept taking coins from the compartment, buying stuff for the Chikik with it. They liked the change of living. Hika became a very good cook, and often the meeting log was crowded with Chikik waiting to be fed. Hika loved her job. Nua’s grammar improved with Maya’s help, and he started a school. Everyone’s grammar improved. Maya started buying school supplies for them, and started teaching math and PE. It seemed that while everyone attended school, Ukiki and the other younger Chikik adapted a lot better to human language than the older Chikik. The young Chikik liked how the Chicagoan girls acted, which they knew from Maya’s description – “Y’see, their favorite places to hang out are spots like the mall if you’re girly, and sporting events if you’re not, and they sort of have a language of their own which the teachers don’t understand. And slang. And ABC gum. Nobody likes the teachers in Chicago, or pretty much anywhere else. They make you take a piece of paper home and do math problems when you could be playing computer games. Everyone has kind of a spunky attitude, and they’re really fun to be around. Moms there aren’t like Hika at all. Mine will let me do pretty much anything. Hika would be considered a nervous, paranoid wreck. She’d be the one who scuttles around screaming in her little high-pitched voice, ‘No, no! Put that stick down! You’ll poke your eye out!’ and you’re picking up, like, a log or something.”
Just in case, Maya started an army. Since the Chikik were not too hard to make armor for, Maya readily bought custom armor for them from the faeries, not with faerie currency, but with human money. This was also accepted by the faeries, for human’s food is just as good as any other.
Gradually Nua and Hika seemed more and more nervous.
“What’s wrong?” Maya asked.
“Uh, I haven’t found many coins in the street lately. Neither has anyone else.” Hika said quickly, not finding any better excuse. Nobody spoke broken English very well.
“You know I can support everyone here.”
“What is it?”
“Ukiki wants to join your army.”
“So? It’s not like there’s going to be any real battles. It’s just something to pass the time.”
“Don’t be so sure.”
“Er– never mind.”
“What is it?”
“Um… A little girl saw Nua last time he went out on tooth errands.” Hika wasn’t very good at lying.
“Yeah.” Maya raised an eyebrow with a mischievous grin on her face.
“The green guys attacked us!” Hika flailed her arms around.
“This isn’t a revival of Toys Come Alive,” Maya laughed. Lila just lost a tooth, and she kept the supplies for Armies in her room. (Leo’s was too cluttered with the remains of explosive science projects.) “This tooth wasn’t in my house, was it?”
Hika looked confused when Maya burst into hysterical laughter.
“You mean that Nua cocked his gun at the supplies for Armies?” Maya got the giggles.
“Armies? Then it was a big fight!”
“No, no, Armies is a game!”
Now Hika started giggling.
“Spit it out, Hika. You aren’t fooling me.”
“Okay… Story time. Once upon a time there was a bad Chiki. He married a bad something, who had lots of children. Nua was her only good son. He did some bad things too, but he was much better than his siblings. Along came me, and we fell in love. The bad mermaid didn’t like me. Hated me. The bad Chikik’s name was Havark. Nobody knows what the bad mermaid’s name is. Some call her the Drearie queen, or D for short. You remember your sister Lila and how she defeated the Drearies,” Hika reminded her. Maya also remembered how Lila had thought the Drearies’ name was kinda dumb for a supervillain, especially since it was one letter away from “dearies.” She could understand why most people would settle for one letter.
“But Havark survived the warriors that Lila sent out to the other kingdoms to protect them from him. He ruled us until he got word that Lila had sent out more warriors to capture him. Then he had to leave us to go hide. He said right before he left that until he came back, our next ruler would be called Maiai, meaning good in Chikian.
“Then you came. Nua must have mistaken you for D, who would probably claim to be ‘maiai’ and come to wreck everything. That’s what we think now. I’m very glad Nua made that ‘mistake’, or we’d probably be fleeing from D as I speak.
“We’re afraid that D might come and attack you. You’ll probably have to get your DNA splattered on her somehow, but don’t be surprised if the way to do that is really stupid, dumb and ridiculous. In this dimension, the endings to most prophecies are.”
“Why my DNA?” And what is it, Maya thought. And what was that about dimensions?!
“You’re Lila’s sister. All females in her family have a certain power over D.”
“When is, er… D coming?”
“She will come within a month. She and her minions are building trebuchets, catapults, crossbows and things like that. YOU need to go sneak in and fight magic with destiny, before she’s ready. Element of surprise, all that. You… no, that’s impossible. Whatever. You just have to sneak in and not get caught. ”
“How the heck do I do that? I’m not trained for battle! I don’t even have any armor. I don’t stand a chance!”
“You don’t need armor. You need magic,” Hika said.
“Hook your thumbs together.”
“Now outstretch your fingers.”
There glowed a disk of green, in front of Maya’s hands.
“That’s your shield. Cross your arms in front of you and tuck your thumbs in your armpits.”
Visions of a first-grade version of Maya doing the Chicken Dance immediately showed up, and Maya shut them down quickly before she started blushing.
There was her armor, if she had enough dignity to keep it up.
“Those are your defense. Your instincts are your offense.” Hika sounded scripted, like she’d been told to say that.
“Just do whatever you need to. What you want to do. Remember, we’re up against a very proud enemy, so she’ll use more mental weapons than physical. We’re magic folk, so she’ll be shielded by magic, not physical armor. She can only do magic, though. Physically, she couldn’t beat you up if she wanted to. But she’ll show off her magic, ho boy. And whatever she throws at you, you can block with those two spells. They’re very simple, and she will get VERY angry when they block all her fancy stuff. You also may want to take someone with you, from the army. Don’t take someone who doesn’t want to go.”
This was for loyalty. Someone who thought of the trip as a chore wouldn’t do anything but hinder Maya. Someone who wanted to would get the job done. This could very well end up being a hard choice, depending upon who would be willing to go.
Maya went outside. She headed for the army camp and ordered all soldiers to line up so that she could choose who went on a dangerous journey. When all of them were out, they were shaking in their leather boots. All but one.
Maya said to them, “I am going on a very dangerous spy mission. I will choose one, let me repeat, ONE soldier to come with me. This individual must be small and fast, strategic and smart, and not afraid.”
Half of the soldiers took a step back, and almost half stood their ground, hoping they would not be chosen. Only one stood firm, a daring and adventurous look in her eye.
“I do not want a companion who does not want this job. I want one to stay with me. If you don’t want to do this, leave.”
Almost all soldiers whirled on their heels and slowly left, one by one. Almost all.
All but one.
The one Chiki who had the most neurotic mom in the universe. Maya decided to be dramatic. She figured if she said this loud enough, she could hear Hika fainting in the next log over.
“Ukiki! Will you come on this journey?” Maya said loudly. In the distance, she heard a thump. “That was your mom,” she whispered.
Ukiki said with a mischievous expression, “When do we leave?”
The next night, after Ukiki’s parents went to bed, she wrote a note by soft candlelight. The note explained that she had gone with Maya, and by the time Hika or Nua read it, she would be long gone. The note written, Ukiki dressed in dark clothing and went outside to meet Maya. Ukiki hoped that her parents would find some comfort in knowing where she was and that she was with Maya.
They didn’t. Of course not. Hika had a reputation for being kind and generous, but also being a worrywart – unfortunately, she was the one to find the note and explain it in extremely exaggerated detail to Nua. Then Nua found the note and figured out what she was screaming about.
A Chiki’s scream can get to far over 100 decibels. A lawnmower is about 80 or 85 decibels, and 80 can hurt your hearing. You can imagine it was loud in the village. Neighbors several miles away (it was a very big village, even by Chikian standards) were saying, “Oh, boy. Hika’s upset again.” But where Ukiki was, you could hear a pin drop. You could hear dust collecting. The guards moved like a shadow on the wall. Here, it was always night.
But Maya did not need to worry. She had the powers of the Chikik on her side, and she called a squirrel to gnaw a way into the wall itself. Chikik could talk to the animals. (Whether the animals had something to say worth hearing was another story. It can be a pain to listen to dogs griping at each other. “My food! My toy! I get to bug the cats! I saw that poodle first!” and so on.) Ukiki sent a bat in, and the bat and the squirrel went into the wall to find the way to D’s room. The squirrel gnawed the wall so that it was thin enough for Maya to punch through. It had chewed out a passageway for them, and they darted into the opening.
It was not as hard to see as they thought it would be, because the Chikik’s senses were more acute than humans – especially hearing. They could hear something thumping around.
No. Something wasn’t right here. The squirrel, who had followed them in, was freaking out. Someone had heard it munching away and was trying to get it!
A hand wearing a white glove came through the wall and started grabbing at the squirrel! Ukiki tried to rescue the squirrel, but Maya’s expression told her, as the hand made a hole big enough to see through, that the squirrel could run fast enough to escape. They had to keep moving before the guard found them. The noise this one was making was enough to cover their exit sounds.
They made their way through the maze, dodging rafters and stepping over pipes. When they reached the final room, Ukiki got her fist ready, but Maya said to wait until the time came.
“Madam, there’s a squirrel destroying the walls and we have someone chasing it,” they heard a guard say. “Anyone with any kind of magic could be using it to spy on us. We are trying to kill it, but the guard chasing it is wrecking the walls more than the squirrel.”
Maya tried not to giggle.
“Leave the thing alone! It’s just a squirrel!” A shrill voice screamed.
“Now,” Maya whispered.
WHAM! The two Chikik punched straight through the wall, trying to look as cool as possible. “Not just a squirrel,” Maya said.
“More mass,” Ukiki said. “Um, what do we do now? Do something TOTALLY random just for the heck of it.”
“Hey, let’s play Spitball! You get the guard, I get the ugly one.” They pulled out some paper, the stuff left over from when Ukiki had written the note, and licked it, then hurled huge wads of paper everywhere. They were having fun. What they didn’t notice, however, was that Maya’s target wasn’t there any more. You know why, of course. If you don’t, flip through Hika’s rescue sermon.
Well, whatever. It didn’t matter anyway. The guard standing there didn’t really matter either, as he was blinded from all of the spitballs sticking to his face and uniform and had lost some dignity. He wasn’t really about to do anything, so nobody cared. Especially not Maya or Ukiki, who had done what they came to do, if accidentally, and who were jumping into the hole in the wall. Ukiki had lost interest in the game – her target was too engulfed in spitty paper wads to be able to have any more stuck on him. Oh well! At least spitball throwing would become a fun and rather popular (if kinda disgusting) sport, which the soldiers had to learn, just in case.
As they approached the village, Maya decided that they should do a cool entrance as returning warriors. The tallest tree in the village was very near, and there were vines hanging from a few of the top branches that nearly reached the ground. So they each grabbed a vine and found another tree opposite the village. They climbed it and wrapped themselves around the vines.
Each screamed like Jungleman, for effect. The Chikik saw them, and gave the deafening shriek (the 100 decibel one) used for keeping enemies at bay.
Then cheers rang out through the large and very loud town as the two came home. A few Chikik were slightly deaf by now.
“I always wanted to do that,” Maya said.
Hika came running. “Ukiki! You’ve come back! I was so worried…” She blabbered on and on about Ukiki’s disappearance, then turned to Maya. “Um, there’s something…”
“Yes, I’ll stay. You want a babysitter. I get the hint. All right. Fine!” Maya grinned.
“Well, that saved time.” Hika grinned.
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