“Home at Last”

 

Tali held her breath while Kate opened the cabin door. Then she breathed a sigh of relief, “we’re home.” The gang climbed out and glanced around. Hangar 1 looked just the way it had before the Shirley Ann kidnapped them two days earlier. And she was back to normal too; one engine missing, flat tires, dented aluminum and other damaged parts.

“I have no clue what’s going on, but dude, this has got to be the most super cool awesome thing that has ever happen to any sixth grader, ever,” said Ben.

“Maybe it was just our imagination or a dream with all of us in it,” said Willy. “We might have just fallen asleep, things like this can’t really happen, can they? Except… the windows did fog over; we all saw that.”

“Let me check something,” said Kate. She climbed back in the plane then quickly reappeared. “Weren’t there some drinks and sandwiches in the cooler when we left? Didn’t we give those to the village kids?”

“Yeah, that’s right, we did,” came the responses.

“Well, they’re gone, along with all the ice. How do you explain that?” said Kate.

“Yeah, how do we explain that?” asked Tali.

“No idea,” said Jold. “But what I’m wondering is how we’re gonna explain where we’ve been for the last 48 hours? No one would believe the truth. Not sure I do.”

“My dad will never let me come back to Hangar 1… ever!” said Willy.

“I’ve got to let my mom know I’m alright,” said Tali.

“Me too,” said Kate, “I’m in big trouble.”

Just then, the old blue pickup pulled up in front of the hangar. Ben sprinted for the truck like a wide receiver running for the end zone, then came skidding to a stop next to the driver’s side door. The others were right behind him. Grandpa Jimmy stepped out.

“Hi Ben, what’s been goin’ on since I left, did ya get all the chores done?”

“Grandpa Jimmy, the Shirley Ann flew us to a grassy field in the middle of a jungle. When we opened the door, Bandit took off running and we chased him. Then, we got lost and spent the night in the jungle in pouring rain. Some kids found us the next morning and led us out of the jungle to their village where we spent another night. They gave us rice and chicken to eat and helped us find our way back to the Shirley Ann. Then, she took off again and brought us back home. It was crazy! I guess the whole town’s been looking for us, huh? How long have we been gone?” asked Ben.

“Slow down sonny,” no one’s looking for ya. And I’m pretty sure the Shirley Ann couldn’t fly across the street, much less cross country. Look, she’s only got one engine, flat tires and lots of stuff doesn’t work. You have quite an imagination.”

“It’s true,” said Kate. “Everything Ben is telling you is true. We’ve been gone for two days.”

“Well, all I know is that I left two hours ago to run to town, and now I’m back.”

Ben looked down at his watch, 3:15 pm. “Willy, check your watch, what does it say?”

“3:15, this is getting’ creepier by the minute.” said Willy.

Tali ran back to the plane, grabbed the old picture and brought it to Grandpa Jimmy. She held it in front of him. “This is where the Shirley Ann took us,” she said.

“Yep, that’s the picture I was tellin’ ya about. I took that picture…oh maybe… fifty year ago. And there was a village not too far from that airstrip. Yep, that’s what must have happened, your imaginations run away with ya ‘cause of the picture. Amazing how imagination can do that.”

“It wasn’t our imagination Grandpa Jimmy, is wasn’t, I promise,” said Ben.“Well, maybe we better call it day and you kids should head home. Your parents wouldn’t like it if you’re late for supper, may not let ya come back. A couple of ya, come help me close the hangar doors.”

They pulled their bikes outside and helped Jimmy lock up. He climbed back in his truck and cranked the motor. The gang put their fingers in their ears, ready for the backfire they knew was coming. With a grind of the gears he put it in first, then leaned his head out the window before pulling away. “May be that old bird is kind of magical,” he said with a wink and a smile. “Hope to see ya next Saturday.” He waved and drove off, leaving the gang bewildered.

Ben stood there in disbelief. “Geeeeezzz, this is freekin’ crazy…I…uh…I don’t think we should tell anyone about this,” he said.

“Yeah, no one would believe it anyway,” said Willy.

“We’re already kind of outsiders at school. If we tell anyone about this, we’ll go from outsiders to crazies by lunchtime  Monday.” said Kate.

“Okay, so we all agree, we’re not telling, right?” said Jold.

They all shook their head in agreement.

“Are we coming back next Saturday?” asked Tali.

“For sure, absolutely,” said Ben.

Then Tali surprised them all. She wiped a tear from the corner of her eye. “I was really scared that night in the jungle. Thought I might never see my mom again, that’s when I prayed. Then a kind of peace came over me and I just knew that everything was going to be alright. Now that we’re home, all I want to do is find my mom and give her a big hug. As far as coming back to the hangar goes, it’s more than just wanting to, I think we’re supposed to. The Shirley Ann  has more to show us.”

“I feel the same way,” said Kate. “Who knows where the Shirley Ann might take us. But we need to be prepared if it happens again.”

“Okay,” said Ben. “Here’s what we’ll do, everyone make a list of the supplies you think we might need. We’ll compare lists during lunch hour. Then Kate, you’re good at planning, so you take the list and tell each of us what to bring. We can store the supplies in the cargo compartment of the Shirley Ann. If she takes us on another adventure, we’ll be ready.”

“I’m bringing my drone and camera.” Said Willy. “That sure could have helped us in the jungle.”

“I’m bringing some hunting and fishing gear, including my Bowie knife.” said Ben. 

“I’m bringing Bandit,” said Jold, “he’s telepathic ya know, and he’ll warn us if danger is coming. And we need to pack way more food.”

“Okay then, our next meeting will be Monday lunch hour. We’ll give our lists to Kate and she can figure out who’s gettin’ what.”

A high five and they were off, riding for home. The only questions any of the parents had; did you have fun at the hangar? Little did they know.

That night, each of them laid awake in the quite of their own rooms. Their minds rehearsing the events of the last two days or was it two hours? It made no sense. Like the Shirley Ann during takeoff, the engines of their imaginations were running at full throttle. What adventures awaited them? Does Grandpa Jimmy know more than he’s letting on? Only time will tell.

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