The dumbfounded looks may have put off a lesser mortal, but Explorer was not to be thwarted.
‘There. That’s how we fly to where the sun rises!’
Each member of the RB Gang stood transfixed with eyes wide open and mouths that looked like entrances to underground caverns.
Taking the stupefied silence as encouragement, Explorer bobbed up and down, shouted for everyone to follow her and ran outside.
As if held by a master puppeteer each of the gang stepped awkwardly towards their own personal angst filled future. The Hotel’s manager, Horace, couldn’t resist tagging along. He’d seen some strange people in his time, but this lot took the prize.
‘There! There’s one. Quick! We need to get them before they blow away.’ Explorer was now what many sports psychologists call ‘in the zone’. It was if time slowed and her every action was choreographed to perfection. Had any member of the gang also been ‘in the zone’ they would have seen the movements of a master, honed to perfection after years of dedicated practice and commitment. Instead, what they saw was a mad woman. Eyes wide, hands directing, arms flapping and a lot of shouting.
The Prince, as if seeing for the very first time, looked wildly across to The Writer. It did little good though, The Writer was in as shocked state as he. He looked at Doll. She too looked as if terror had set her features into stone. Jester, ah Jester, he looked as if he was enjoying this. Unless of course his smile was a clever defence to anything insane. Biscuit too it seemed had caught the gang’s insidious fear, for he was whining under a dock leaf, tail tucked between his legs. Captain was clearly transfixed to the spot, as surely as if he had ten inch spikes nailed through his soles. The wind had blown his tepee to one side that made him look more drunk than punk. Cheeky, as usual, was nowhere to be seen. Instead his eye caught Horace’s – and for a fleeting moment they both understood each other. It was if their minds met across the continental divides in perfect unison; ‘the lights are on, but there’s no one at home.’
Horace, the only one who had not succumbed to Explorer’s spell, broke his gaze with Prince and ambled over to where Explorer was trying to climb a stalk.
‘Ey dere wo-man. Wad is id dat you’re drying to do?’ he uttered whilst trying to mask the need to call a doctor.
‘Ah. Errr..’ she muttered as she tried to pull herself up the tall green living plant. ‘I’m just’ she panted ‘climbing this..’
‘Ah yes wo-man. I can see dat. But may I ask‘ and he couldn’t help rolling his eyes, ‘why?’
‘Instead of asking why’ she grunted, ‘why don’t you just help me up?’
Horace opened his mouth to say something, but instead put his head under the Explorer’s trailing shoe and gently lifted his head so that Explorer’s was able to climb to the top.
‘Thank you’ she said breathlessly.
Horace was unaccustomed to seeing people at his head height, and it made him quite light headed. When your head is as high as a giraffe’s, that’s not a good idea. He quickly put his head between his legs as his mother had taught him, but as he did so he banged the side of the plant Explorer had climbed.
In a whir of motion, a number of the dandelion seeds were dislodged, the wind caught them and they were off.
‘Excellent!’ said Explorer, thinking that the giraffe had done it on purpose. She clung to a seed not yet ready to sail to the ends of the earth. ‘See?’ she both asked and demanded – looking fiercely at everyone – as if any hint of cynicism would be met by a quick and sudden death.
The gang stood watching, and it made as much sense as using fire for water, or a fridge for a kettle. It’s as if their eyes told Explorer that they were being expected to start ploughing the field with an iron now. Explorer’s excitement was turning to frustration.
‘Look. It’s simple. You pull one of these out of here, and if you held on, which I won’t right now, but I will you understand, you will be taken by the wind and travel will be much, much faster to where we want to go!’
Light bulbs started to flash as minds began to gain the first semblance of understanding. The Captain was the first to find his voice, lost as it had been within woods of confusion. And find his voice he did. ‘You mean we all climb on top of the dandelion, wait for Horace here to faint and hold on for dear life whilst the wind takes us to who knows where? Are you completely stark raving bonkers? Don’t you realise that even if we could hold on we would be at the wind’s mercy? We could be dashed into any tree or rock, we could be blown for acre after acre without any control…’
‘And what would we do for food?’ asked The Writer. ‘And sleep?’ asked Doll, who really did like catching forty winks. ‘And let’s not forget the Winged Ones!’ cried out Prince.
At the mere mention of the Winged Ones the assembled throng, all bar Horace that is as his head was as close to the earth as it could get, ducked involuntarily.
Explorer looked down comfortingly at each of the gang, as if addressing a breed of lesser mortals.
‘Honestly now, have I ever let you down?’ she asked.
The crowd looked down at their feet, knowing full well the answer to that one.
‘Okay, apart from when we taped Cheeky to a firework…’ she added.
The others remembered the trail of sparks and smoke as Cheeky had disappeared into the depths of winter. It had taken four days to find him, and when they had he’d been hanging upside down in a tree still trapped to the rocket.
‘And let’s forget the episode with the dynamite.. ‘
Doll shuddered involuntarily and The Writer placed a comforting hand on her elbow.
‘And I’m not asking you to crawl into a bees nest am I?’ she added defiantly.
At the mere mention of bees Biscuit yelped and dived further under the dock leaf..
They spent the rest of the afternoon asking questions, working through the answers and by nightfall they felt they had a workable, if somewhat makeshift, plan. The next time the wind dropped they would pull out four dandelion seeds and bind them together using spider’s silk. Once completed, they would tie on all the possessions they were carrying and wait for the wind to blow due east. At the right moment they would strap themselves on board, Horace would cut through the restraining silk rope, and the wind would pull them majestically into the air, towards where the sun rises. Well. That was the plan anyway.
Having spent the afternoon with the RB Gang Horace felt strangely elated. Despite his fainting spell he was feeling good. Their eclectic personalities seemed to be bound together much as thread in a rug. They held each other in such warm regard. Sure, they were odd. In fact the more he thought about it, the more odd they were, but despite that they had a sense of camaraderie that was impossible to put a value on. They supported each other and, best of all he decided, they were just such good fun. He’d miss them if their hair brained scheme ever got off the ground, that’s for sure.
Now all they had to do was wait for the wind.
Chapter 2 of the RB Gang’s Adventure
Horace provides the necessary help to allow Explorer to demonstrate her fantastic plan for getting to where the sun rises.. but the RB Gang are less than convinced..