Spot nudged Adam’s back
“I’m here because I want to know where I can find land,” Adam said.
The Turtle looked at each of them before asking, “That’s it?”
Relief surged through Adam. This wasn’t so bad after all. He smiled. “That’s it.”
“Go outside the ship, back out into Ocean, and swim down until you can swim no further. Reach down and – when you hit something hard – that is land.” The Turtle began to swim up and away.
“Wait, wait!” Adam cried out. “Dry land!”
“Ohhh…well, that’s different.”
“A lot different, yes.”
“There isn’t any,” the Turtle said matter-of-factly and again attempting to swim up and away.
Ramata put a hand on Adam’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, Adam.”
He shrugged the water-folk off and swam up towards the Turtle. “There must be something!” Adam yelled. “An island somewhere…some…thing…,” his voice broke off into loud sobs.
“Please keep down the noise! I’m trying to leave this ship without becoming shark food!”
“I don’t care if the sharks come here! They can come eat the rest of me.”
The Turtle sighed and stopped swimming. “There’s another way, of course. Isn’t there always? If you want dry land, you must simply unplug the Drain of the World. But, since you can’t really do that, you won’t get any dry land. So, learn to enjoy Ocean and quit pining for that which cannot return. You’re alive, child. There is no greater gift for which to ask.”
“What’s the Drain of the World?”
“Dear child, my patience, and air, run thin.”
“Please, if there is any chance, any at all, I have to understand it.”
“And I’ve explained to you that there is no chance. The Drain sits in the middle of King Altern’s complex and is that which allows the King to rule over Ocean.”
“Ahem…,” Ramata interrupted.
“That which allows King Altern to rule over most of Ocean,” corrected the Turtle.
“But, what’s the Drain do?”
“What do any drains do? When unplugged, water flows through them. If the Drain of the World is unplugged, it would drain the water from Ocean.” All three of the travelers gasped and the Turtle continued. “I can no longer stay here. I must get air.” The Turtle swam off to a balcony set and disappeared into it.
Adam tried to call out further questions but the Turtle didn’t respond. He turned to Ramata and Spot. “You heard the Turtle.”
“Yes. I’m so sorry,” Ramata said again.
“Me too, Adam,” offered Spot. “Maybe you can join my school…if you didn’t want to live in Tiskaloo, that is.”
Adam couldn’t believe his ears. “What? Weren’t you listening? The Drain of the World! We’ve got to go!”