As I struggled down the stairs carrying my overloaded suitcase in both arms, I thought about how boisterous it would be to see my cousins again. I hadn’t seen them in six years, and my dad was taking me to visit. But the most exciting part about getting there was that my cousins lived on an island, which meant we had to take a boat.
I managed to drag my luggage to my father, who hoisted it into our old yet reliable car. I hopped in the passenger’s seat and went over my mental packing list carefully in my head. Then I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw an exuberant face with chocolate brown ringlets grinning back at me. Suddenly the car door opened, and my father, with his shaggy brown hair and sparkling blue eyes, got into the driver’s seat and buckled his seat belt.
“Here we go! Are you excited to see Eliza and Jane, your least favorite cousins?” he teased.
“No dad, they’re my favorite cousins,” I said, playfully poking him in the ribs. “And yes, I am excited to see them,” I added.
After three hours of driving, we got to a dock where there were boats lined up in the water. There was a standard building off to the side that must’ve been the lobby or something. My father parked the car and got out, searching for someone that could tell us where to go. Before we could leave the parking lot, however, a business-like woman in a dark suit with a clipboard marched over to us. Her hair was in a perfect bun, and her glasses were at the tip of her pointy nose.
“Can I help you?” she asked in a voice higher than I expected.
“We are looking for a ride to Thomas Island,” my father replied shortly. I think he was mad about all the traffic we had to go through to get here.
Pointing to an old, tiny little boat with the wood in some pretty bad shape, she said, “You can use that one over there.” She scribbled something down on her clipboard. “I just need you to sign right here.” My father took the pen and wrote his name down.
“Thank you very much,” he said.
“Thank you,” the woman replied back. Then she turned swiftly on her heel and strutted away. My dad and I took our stuff out of the car and transferred it into the little boat that creaked when we stepped in.
“Is this really gonna hold us up until we get to the island?” I doubted aloud. The engine looked like it might fall off.
“Don’t worry. I hope it can work, but we’ll need to treat it carefully. I’ll handle the steering wheel and you can make sure nothing falls out of the back,” my dad told me.
We had just gotten about three miles away from the dock, when all of a sudden the sky darkened and a gust of wind blew into the little boat. A shadow cast over us as clouds formed above, covering the sun. There was a storm coming, no doubt about it. Rain began coming down harder and harder, drenching our luggage. If there was a leak in the boat, it was hard to tell because water was surrounding us in every direction. My dad tried to steer away from the storm, but it only got worse.
“How do we get out of this?” I hollered over the wind. I never got a response, because the next thing I knew, an immense wave crashed from out of nowhere into our boat, threatening to tip us over. I wasn’t brave enough to handle this alone. I searched for my dad, but to my complete and utter shock, he was gone.
Before I could stop them, tears came streaming down my cheeks as I recovered from the shock of losing my dad. I began to search urgently everywhere for him, steering the boat in all sorts of directions. What could have happened? Something told me that he wasn’t really dead. But an hour later with no such luck, I knew I had to make it to my cousin’s house before it got dark. As I hurried hastily to the island, I was more and more determined to rescue my dad before we got home, no matter what it took.
After a while, I reached the dock at Thomas Island and was checking in at the front desk. Every island had the same shipping port, which made it easier to travel because it was all the same system. A girl ran up to me as I pushed the doors open to get out of the building.
“Kate! I am so glad to see you!” she exclaimed. I didn’t know how she recognized me after all these years, but I think it was Jane because she didn’t have the same blond ponytail and upturned nose like Eliza. Instead, she looked more like my father: skinny, with brown hair tied in a bun, and eyes the color of sapphires. I ran up and gave her a bear hug. Then she asked, “Where is your dad?” I paused, and my face darkened. I took a deep breath.
“I don’t know,” I told her. “But I am going to find out, somehow.” She gave me an alarmed look, so I added, “I’ll tell you more about it when we get to the house.”
So off we went, arm in arm, and she led the way to her tiny residence. When we got there, I walked in hesitantly because I hadn’t been there in such a long time. Everyone was glad to see me, but they had the same question as Jane. I told them about what happened to my dad, and right away, Eliza (with a daring nerve, quite unlike me) volunteered to help. My aunt and uncle said we could search for him, but they told us to be as careful because something might happen to us.
My plan was to first stop at the dock on the edge of the island, where Jane greeted me the day before.
We got to the harbor, and I noticed something strange under the water. When I pointed this out to Eliza, she agreed that it looked funny.
“We better check it out,” she declared. I nodded, and together we dived into the deep blue waters of the ocean. Since we couldn’t talk underwater, obviously, we motioned with our hands what to do next. I pulled her a little closer to the left, and there we saw it. It was some kind of city underwater, with talking fish, turtles, sharks, dolphins, you name it. There were sea creatures swimming every which way, and tiny buildings made out of stone. Eliza was clearly just as surprised as I was, because her eyes were bulging out of her head. We swam closer and came to a direct halt. About three feet in front of us was a crab that was a bed, for it wasn’t the normal size of a shellfish. We hadn’t seen it before because it just about blended in with all the action going on in the city. To our dismay, the evil looking crab turned towards us and spoke. When he snapped his pinchers, bubbles appeared over our heads so we could breathe again.
“I am Vancroy, king of the city Seaport. Why do you seek me?” it asked.
“I-I am looking for my father, who has, um, gone missing during a storm,” I replied in a shaky voice. This guy was not one you should mess with.
“Oh, yes!” Vancroy announced in a sharp and gleeful manner. “I have him held captive here because he has something I needed to complete a project. However, he has served his purpose. I do try to be clever, so don’t be surprised if there is some sort of puzzle headed your way. I will only give you sixty minutes to find him and bring him back to the edge of Seaport, and then you may have him. But I am warning you, it might be tricky. If you can’t manage to do it in an hour, well, then I can keep him here and use him for another one of my special . . . projects.”
Eliza and I glanced at each other and told Vancroy we would get started. So he let us pass through, and we took off swimming between schools of fish and parties of sea otters. We got to a place where there was a set of open double doors, and we raced in. Inside, we found my dad! Wait, hold on . . . There were more than one – about twenty – clones that all looked identical to my dad. How was I supposed to find my real father? Each one claimed to be the one, but I wasn’t sure. Then a thought came to me. I was the only person besides my brother that knew my dad could pull a really funny joke if he tried hard enough. So Eliza and I went through one by one, seeing if they had any decent jokes. Most of them were pretty bad, but even the okay ones didn’t sound like my father. I checked my water-resistant watch and saw that we had ten minutes left. Finally, the second-to-last “dad” we tried made us laugh until our sides hurt. Something lit up inside that told me this was my real dad. I gave him a hug, then Eliza pulled him out of the building and through the busy city life. We now had two minutes left to get out of Seaport. At one point we got lost, but my father hurled us in the right direction. With the clock screaming down the seconds, we reached the edge of the city and watched Vancroy’s face fall as we tugged my dad up to the surface. At once our bubbles around our heads popped and we breathed in the open air. I felt overjoyed that I actually found my dad! Yesterday, I never would have thought myself capable of being courageous, but today I proved that if I set my mind to it, I could achieve almost anything. With this hopeful thought in my head, Eliza and I took my dad back to my cousins’ house where we celebrated with sparkling cider and donuts.