It was the last day of school. Fluey practically raced down the stairs, grabbed his backpack, and ran out the front door. Peter and Valerie stared at him as he left. Peter checked his watch.
"I think that was a world record," he said. "Up and out the door in five minutes. Usually we have to use a crowbar to get him up and to school."
Valerie just laughed and shrugged. Neither of them really noticed that Fluey had left an hour before he had to. He wanted to hit the beach before he started for school, and Carson High was close enough to the beach for him to spend a little time there. But he wasn't going there for the surfing. He started climbing over some rocks over on the other side of the beach, and looked out into the ocean, listening to the waves crash into the rocks, and feeling the spray hit his face. He sat down on a rock, and pulled a sketchpad and a pencil out of his backpack. He flipped it open, and began sketching something, taking an occasional glance at the water. He blocked out everything around him as he sketched.
"Hey, what are you drawing?" a voice asked. Fluey nearly dropped his sketchpad into the water. He looked up and saw Erin and Shawn standing over him.
"I didn't hear you guys," he said, stashing his sketchpad into his backpack. He tucked his pencil behind his ear, and stood up.
"I didn't know you like to draw," Shawn said.
"Sometimes," Fluey said with a shrug. "I'm nowhere near Sarah's level."
"So what were you drawing?" Erin asked.
"That's for me to know and you to find out," Fluey replied, and walked off.
Erin and Shawn shrugged, and followed him. They had to get to school before the bell rang. If there was one thing that was agony to a teenager, it was detention on the last day of school. As the teachers were droning on and on about something, Fluey took out his sketchpad and began scribbling. Multi leaned over to see what he was doing during second period math.
"What's that?" he asked.
"Just some sketches," Fluey replied, not looking up.
"I didn't know you were that into art."
"It's a hobby I picked up. I don't do it all the time, though."
"Can I see them?"
"Yeah, I guess."
Fluey handed his sketchpad to Multi, who flipped through the drawings. Most of them were pencil sketches. There were ten drawings all together, and only about three of them were in color. And all ten of them had a common theme.
"Fluey, these are all of the beach, the ocean, marine life, and mermaids," Multi said.
"Yeah, so?" Fluey asked, taking his pad back, and went back to working on his latest creation.
"Well, I wanted to know if you were aware that mermaids are just myths."
"You might want to talk to Mike about that."
Multi was about to respond, when the bell rang. The kids packed up and headed for their next classes. Throughout the day, Fluey kept sketching pictures of mermaids, dolphins, whales, and the sea in general. He had been doing that a lot since the last summer. The majority of his sketches were of mermaids, or at least one mermaid in particular. All his color sketches were of the same mermaid, Multi noticed. She had extremely long, pale brown hair, deep brown eyes, and a dark pink tail. As Multi thought mermaids were just a myth, they were indeed as real as he was. As a matter of fact, the mermaid Fluey had been sketching was his girlfriend, Marina. She had left Los Angeles last summer, and hadn't returned, but Fluey was still hopeful. He never gave up thinking that one summer she would return.
The day seemed to drag on. Finally, the last bell rang, and every single student raced out of Carson High School as fast as they could. Multi turned to his usual crew.
"You guys want to cruise by Edison and then hit the beach?" he asked.
"Nah," Shawn said. "We did the beach on the last day of school last year. I just want to go home and veg with the girls."
"Amen to that," Erin said. "You up for vegging with us, Linda?"
"Thanks, but no thanks," Linda said. "I'm gonna go veg at home. See you guys later."
Linda walked off in one direction while Shawn, Erin, and Laurie went in the other direction. Multi turned to Fluey.
"Well, what do you say, Rembrandt?" he asked.
"Yeah, why not?" Fluey asked. "Maybe I can get some more sketches done."
Multi nodded, and the boys headed out. In the meantime at Screen Gems, Mike was going through a script as usual, and Peter was leaning against the armrest of the director's chair that he was sitting in.
"Well it's summer again," he said. "All the teenage girls will be lined up outside to get a glimpse of Davy."
"If they're all not at the beach droolin' over that lifeguard," Mike replied. "That colony of mermaids should be comin' back, though."
"That ought to please Fluey. You know he's been kind of depressed since that day the colony left."
"I should have told him that they don't hang around long. They come back for the summer, and that's it."
"So what do you say we hit the beach and see if they show up?"
"Yeah sure. Let me see if I can talk the Geator into it."
Mike put down the script and went to find Jerry, who was playing a record on his turntable with the headphones attached. Mike took the needle off the record player and whipped the headphones right off Jerry's head.
"Hey!" Jerry shouted. "I was listening to that!"
"Sorry," Mike said. "You want to hit the beach?"
"Eeehhh, I dunno . . . . . all the kids'll be there. Carson and Edison let out today. We could get mobbed."
"They'll be too busy starin' at the muscle head lifeguard to even notice we're there!"
"I still don't know . . . . ."
"Aw come on. It'll be fun!"
"What do you have in mind?"
"Well, instead of the usual surfin' and sun tannin', I thought maybe we'd go out by the rocks and go whale watchin', dolphin watchin', keep an eye out for the mermaid colony, that sort of thing."
"Okay, you sold me. Let's go."
Mike, Jerry, and Peter headed for the beach then. It was packed with high schoolers from both Carson High and Thomas Edison High School. And most of the girls were staring at the lifeguard on duty, who was the big, bleached blond and brainless type. He was sitting up in the lifeguard stand, flexing his muscles for all the girls. Mike, Jerry, and Peter rolled their eyes. They headed out for the rocks to watch for marine life. They spotted Fluey sitting on the rocks, sketching.
"Hey, I didn't know he drew," Mike said.
"He started last summer," Peter said. "After Marina left. I hope she comes back."
"I really hope so, too," Mike said. "I'd better get over there and tell him about the deal with the colony."
Jerry and Peter nodded. Mike walked over to where Fluey was sitting, and kneeled next to him.
"Hiya, Shotgun," he said. "What are you sketchin'?"
"Marina," Fluey replied, not even breaking his concentration. He picked up a blue colored pencil and began filling in some of the white space in the background.
"That's pretty good, considerin' you haven't seen her since last June."
"I think her face is burned into my mind forever."
"Well, I'd better tell you somethin' about the colony I should've told you last year."
"What's that, Mike?"
"They're only in LA for a couple of weeks in the summer. Mostly in June, but sometimes they don't leave until July, August, or early September. So don't get your hopes up about Marina stayin' long."
"Well, I'll just have to make the moment last as long as I can when she shows up."
Mike didn't know how else to put it. He just shrugged, and walked back onto the beach. All the teenagers were watching the lifeguard flex. Mike shook his head and walked off. The whole thing about men who were muscular and good looking (and knew it) drove him completely crazy. It was amazing how he put up with Davy and his "million dollar 'ead" ego. At any rate, he just sat on the sand, and watched the waves roll in. Maybe he'd catch a glimpse of one of his mermaid friends. He sat there for three hours, but did not see one scale of a mermaid. He went back over to the rocks. Fluey was still waiting, and sketching.
"Any luck?" Mike asked.
"Nope," Fluey replied. "Any idea where they are?"
"Any number of places, Shotgun. We'd better go. It's gettin' late. But don't worry, those mermaids should be here any day."
"I hope so. I barely survived the school year."
"Do you gotta be so overdramatic?"
Mike rolled his eyes. He and Fluey walked off. The next day, the group was over at the beach again. Fluey went directly over to the rocks, with his art supplies. His friends stared at him as if he were crazy.
"What's with him?" Sebastian asked.
"I dunno," Keith said, shrugging.
"He's been like that since last July," Multi replied. "Every time he comes to the beach, he goes over to those rocks, and does who knows what. But obviously, it must be sketching."
"What does he sketch?" Shawn asked.
"I got a look at that thing," Multi said. "Mostly dolphins, the water, and mermaids."
"Mermaids?" Laurie repeated. "You're kidding!"
"He's over there sketching mermaids," Multi said, shrugging.
The others thought that was kind of odd, but they didn't say a word. Mike walked by them, watching the waters.
"Hey Mike!" Multi called. "Come here, I want to ask you something."
"Yeah, what?" Mike asked, coming over.
"We all know you're part witch, so we may think you might know something about this mermaid kick Fluey seems to be on."
Mike sort of clicked his tongue, and then jammed it into his cheek. The kids sat there, staring at him, waiting for an answer.
"Well . . . . ." he said finally. "Uhhh . . . . . why do you ask? No wait, don't answer that, you saw his sketchpad."
"Yeah," Multi said. "So what's with him and mermaids?"
"Uhhh . . . . . I don't know if I should tell you guys this . . . ."
"What is it, Mike?" Linda asked.
Mike just shook his head, and walked off. The kids just looked at each other and shrugged. Mike ran as far away from the teenagers as he could get. As he did, he crashed right into Jerry. Both of them crashed to the sand.
"What's the hurry?" Jerry asked.
"Linda, Multi, and the others are wonderin' about Fluey's mermaid fetish," Mike said. "I nearly spilled the beans about Marina."
"Oh boy," Jerry said. "And the only ones who know about that colony are you, me, Valerie, Peter, and Fluey."
"I'm not too worried about tellin' Linda, Multi, Coiley, Laurie, and Erin, but I'm not sure I can trust Shawn, Keith, or Sebastian."
"Well, I'll see you later. I'm going swimming."
"Yeah, sure. I'm gonna go find Fluey and see if the colony's arrived."
The boys went their separate ways. Mike walked over to the rocks, and saw Fluey scribbling furiously at his sketchpad, looking up and out into the water every so often. Mike looked out to see what he was looking at. All he saw was a fishing ship.
"Heya, Shotgun," he said. "Any sign of the colony?"
"Not yet," Fluey said, not even looking at Mike. "But I just found inspiration."
"What are you drawin'?"
Mike looked over Fluey's shoulder, and saw a pencil sketch of a fishing boat in the distance, being followed by a mermaid riding a dolphin. The mermaid and dolphin looked as though Fluey had traced them from a photograph.
"Boy if Sarah could see you now," Mike said. "You know, you're an incredible artist."
"Well, I hang out with Erin a lot," Fluey said, picking up an eraser, and using it to blend some of his pencil marks. "You know she likes to draw. I picked up a few tricks."
"Pretty cool. Me, I couldn't even draw a stick figure. I'm headin' back to the sand. Keep an eye out for Marina and Ariel."
Mike walked back to the sand, and walked along the shoreline, letting the waves crash against his feet. He stopped suddenly, when he felt a small, burning sensation on his ankle, and his sixth sense started to twinge slightly. He figured the burning sensation was a jellyfish sting, or something along those lines. He looked down, and didn't see a trace of a jellyfish anywhere, but then got a look at the side of his ankle. There was a small, red mark there. Mike managed to catch sight of the water. There was something green and slimy looking sitting on the shoreline. He got near it, and his sixth sense started bothering him. He snapped his fingers, and a pair of rubber gloves appeared on his hands. He picked up the blob, and looked at it.
"Hey, Mike!" Sarah called, running over. "What's that?"
"I don't know," Mike said, shrugging. "Don't touch it, Sarah. Whatever it is can burn you. See?"
Mike held up his foot so Sarah could see his ankle. She nodded, and looked at the blob Mike was holding.
"It's some kind of chemical, that's about all I can tell you," Mike said. "Not natural, either."
"Oh, chemical waste," Sarah said, nodding. "Bleah. I can't stand pollution. Hey, Mike, look, it's starting to spread!"
Mike looked out into the water, and saw blobs of green slime all over the ocean. He snapped his fingers, and threw the blob he was holding into a bucket he conjured up, and then ran to a lifeguard stand.
"Hey!" he called. "You'd better evacuate the water! There's some kind of chemical waste out there!"
"I'm on it!" the lifeguard shouted. She picked up her whistle, put it to her lips, and blew as hard as she could.
"Everybody out of the water!" she shouted into her megaphone.
The swimmers just laughed and shrugged it all off. They didn't want to be bothered. Mike was about to zap some sense into them, but he didn't need to. What happened next got them all out of the water.
"AAAAUUUUUGGGHHHH!" the loudest scream known to man came from the water.
"I know that scream," Mike said. "Gotta be Jer."
Indeed, it was Jerry. He had experienced the slime first hand. He had been swimming under the water, and didn't even see the slime. When he emerged, he came into direct contact with it, and immediately, it began to burn his skin. He practically shot too the shoreline, and collapsed to his hands and knees.
"Jerry, are you all right?" Mike asked, running over to him
Jerry didn't answer. He just groaned, reached up, and wrapped his fingers around Mike's jeans, squeezing the denim. Mike saw all the red marks along his body, and helped him to his feet.
"You'd better get him into the shower, Mike," Sarah said. "This could be like an acid burn."
"No doubt about it," Mike said, and he and Jerry ran to the shower area.
The scare got all the other swimmers out of the water, and into the showers as well. The slime hadn't touched them, but they weren't taking any chances. Mike had Jerry strip down completely while he was in the shower. Linda was waiting outside the door for them.
"Do you need anything, Mike?" she asked.
"A couple of towels," Mike replied. "And make sure they're completely dry!"
Linda ran off. Mike started taking the water from the shower head in his hands and rubbing it on Jerry's body, looking him over.
"Geez, you're a mess," he said. "You got red marks all over your hands, arms, legs, feet, back, chest, neck, face, fingers, toes . . . . . . wow."
"Just shut up and keep applying the water!" Jerry shouted. "This stuff's burning my skin off!"
"Relax, relax. It's not burnin' your skin off, it just feels like it. Okay, head up, eyes open."
Mike held Jerry's head towards the running water, and held his eyelids open, to flush the chemicals out of his eyes. A crowd had gathered outside of the stall. Jerry was practically screaming as he and Mike washed the chemicals off of him.
"Coming through! Let me in here!" Sarah shouted, pushing her way through the crowd. Then she began banging on the stall door. "Hey Mike!"
"What, Sarah?" Mike asked.
"Let me in. Linda gave me some towels."
"I don't think you want to come in here."
Sarah opened the door, walked in, and closed it. She saw Jerry completely in the nude and nodded.
"Oh, that's why not," she said. "Mike, you forget. I'm an artist. I've painted a hundred guys in the nude before. It's nothing new."
"Does Reggie know you do that?"
"Reggie's my best subject."
"I'm not goin' into that one."
"Miiiiike!" Jerry shouted. "I'm dying over here!"
"We're not gonna need the towels just yet, Sarah," Mike said. "We're still workin' on washin' this chemical stuff off Jerry's body. Who knows how long that's gonna take."
"Do you want me to call Rampart or something?" Sarah asked.
"That would help," Mike replied.
"Roger. Oh, here are the towels, just in case you need them."
Sarah left the towels on the floor, which were getting soaked. Mike didn't care. He had work to do. About an hour later, Mike and Jerry finally emerged from the shower. An ambulance had arrived moments before, and Mike and Jerry climbed into the back. Sarah breathed of relief, and helped the lifeguards get everyone off the beach. Then she walked over to the rocks and found Fluey, still sketching.
"Fluey, we've got to evacuate the beach," she said.
"How come?" Fluey asked, closing his sketchbook.
"Mike found some pollution in the water. Poor Jerry experienced it first hand. It's chemical stuff, obviously some kind of acid. Burned but good."
"Come on, we'd better get going."
Fluey and Sarah left the beach while the Coast Guard looked into the chemical waste. At Rampart General Hospital, Joe was looking over Jerry's entire body. Mike was leaning on the examining table next to him.
"How long were you guys in the shower?" he asked.
"About an hour," Mike replied. "I wasn't takin' any chances."
"Well, Jerry, it looks as though you swam right into those chemicals," Joe continued.
"I know," Jerry replied. "I'm just glad I didn't swallow any of it. I don't think."
"Believe me, you'd know. I need you to look over at the overhead light . . . . good."
Joe shined that little flashlight into Jerry's eyes, and then put the flashlight down. Then he looked at his arms, legs, neck, and face. About half his skin was red. He shook his head.
"I've never seen acid burns this bad," he said. "Are you in any pain now, Jerry?"
"Well, it still burns a little," Jerry said. "But it's not as bad as it was before I was in the shower."
"I can get a sample of the slime, Joe," Mike said.
"As soon as you can," Joe said. "Jerry, in the meantime, I don't think you should be going up and around the way you usually do. Any severe motion is probably going to aggravate those burns."
"Say no more," Jerry said. "They practically had to drag me in on a stretcher! I don't know why, but it hurts to walk!"
"Well, you've got those burns on your feet," Mike commented.
Joe's instructions were simple. Jerry had to stay off his feet as much as possible, and also apply a special ointment to his burns. He and Mike left Rampart and went directly to the Stanleys house to let Christine know about all this. She immediately called Hank to tell him.
"I'm aware of it," he said. "John and Roy just left on a run on the beach. Someone went in and got burned."
"Well, I don't know what we're going to do with Jerry now," Christine said.
"Don't worry, I can handle this," Jerry said. "I hope."
"Don't worry about a thing," Mike said. "Call me day or night, Jerry. I'll help you get through this."
Mike left the Stanleys. He wanted to get back to the beach and see what exactly was going on. The Coast Guard was coming the place. There was a sign posted on the showers saying:
BEACH CLOSED DUE TO CHEMICAL WASTE
Mike just stared at the sign, and walked onto the sand. The Coast Guard didn't even notice. They were too busy staring out at the ocean, wondering what the gunk was. After ten minutes of staring at it, they left, as if nothing had ever happened.
"This isn't a job for us," one said. "This is a job for those environmentalists."
"Let's go get some coffee," another replied, and the Coast Guard left. Mike rolled his eyes.
"Never send the government to do a witch's job," he said, cracking his knuckles. He prepared one whammy of a clean up, but his magic pulled a whammy on him! The minute the sparks hit the slime, they shot back into Mike's fingers.
"Okay," he said, slowly. "Obviously, my magic doesn't want to clean this up. I guess this means I'll have to do it the mortal way."
Mike snapped his fingers. Rubber gloves appeared on his hands, and a plastic bucket and shovel appeared in his hands. He knelt down by a pile of the gunk, and shoveled some of it into the bucket, hoping that it wouldn't eat away the plastic before he could get it to Rampart so Joe or Dr. Brackett could look at it. Once at Rampart, Joe stuck the junk underneath a microscope and looked at it, while Dr. Brackett tried to break it down to it's simplest form.
"Are you sure there's acid in this, Mike?" he asked.
"Heck yeah," Mike said. "Look what it did to my ankle! But that ain't nothin' compared to Jerry!"
"What happened to Jerry?" Dr. Brackett asked.
"Swam right into the stuff," Joe said. "He was a mess!"
"The Coast Guard's not doin' much, except keepin' an eye on fishin' boats," Mike said. "They're pretty sure some boat dumped a barrel of this stuff out into the ocean."
"Hey, Mike!" Fluey called, running into the examining room. He was wearing a wet suit and scuba goggles. "Listen, man, we need to talk."
"You weren't out divin' in the ocean, were you?" Mike asked.
"Yeah, but it was by the rocks," Fluey said. "You're not gonna believe what I found!"
"Well, I was looking for Marina, right? And as I was looking, I saw this barrel, you know, the metal kind that some labs store chemicals in?"
"Right at the bottom, and this green stuff was covering it."
"Green stuff? Let's have a look."
Mike and Fluey left Rampart, leaving Joe and Dr. Brackett slightly confused. Both of them shrugged, and went back to their chemicals. Back on the beach, Mike used his magic to get the barrel to the sand.
"Don't touch it," Mike said. He snapped his fingers, and gloves appeared on his hands. He got close to the barrel, but then backed up. He snapped his fingers again, and a painter's mask appeared on his face.
"Yikes!" he shouted.
"Oooh, that smells worse than the football team captain's gym locker!" Fluey groaned.
"No kiddin'! I don't know what this stuff us, but it's bad news!"
"How bad are we talking?"
"We are talkin' major environmental disaster here. This is chemical waste, and it's pollutin' the Pacific!"
"So what do we do?"
"I'm not sure yet, but I'll think of somethin'. In the meantime, you'd better go check out by the rocks, just in case the pollution spread over there, or in case the mermaid colony's there."
Fluey ran off. Mike sighed, and inspected the barrel. The smell of the gunk made his eyes water. He had to talk to Kate about this and fast. He went straight home, where he found Phyllis on the phone.
"Oh, hold on, Jerry, he just walked in," she said. "It's Jerry."
"Thanks," Mike said, taking the phone. "Hey Geat, what do you need?"
"Your aunt's advice," Jerry said. "I'm dying over here!"
"What's wrong? Still burnin'?"
"Burning is an understatement. It's burning, it's itching, it's driving me crazy!"
"You want me to come over?"
"Yeah, if you don't mind."
"Okay, sure. Whatever you do, don't scratch those burn marks, even if they itch. That'll make it worse."
Mike hung up the phone and went over to the Stanleys. Jerry answered when he rang the doorbell. His skin looked the same as it did when he first got burned by the chemicals, red and blotchy. He was wearing an oversized T-shirt that hung to his knees. Mike just stared at him.
"You've been using the ointment Joe gave you?" he asked.
"Yeah, but I don't think it's helping," Jerry said, running a hand through his hair. Or at least that's what it looked like. He was really trying to scratch at his scalp without Mike noticing. It didn't work.
"Jerry, I told you not to scratch," he said.
"I can't help it!" Jerry shouted, running his fingernails rapidly along his arm. "I feel like I've got chicken pox or something like that!"
"Sounds like this whole experience is just one big pain in the neck."
"Oh, you don't know the half of it. Other than the burning sensation and the itching, these marks irritate easily. I can't wear my normal clothes, or else the marks'll get too irritated."
"So you've been wearin' those T-shirts since you got back from Rampart yesterday?"
"To tell you the truth, I lounge around upstairs usually wearing nothing, but since I'm the only one here and had to answer the door, I just threw on the T-shirt."
Mike nodded, and walked into the kitchen. He began opening the cabinets, looking around. While he wasn't looking, Jerry began scratching the back of his neck furiously.
"Where does Christine keep the bakin' soda?" Mike asked turning around.
"I'll show you," Jerry said, walking over. "What do you need it for?"
"Well, if it works when you've got the chicken pox . . . . ."
"I get it. And I doubt it. Cap's got me in the shower at least three times a day, trying to flush the chemicals out of my system."
"Well, it's just a suggestion."
Mike saw the baking soda, and grabbed it. Then he and Jerry walked up the stairs and into the bathroom. They filled the bathtub with water, and Mike practically emptied the entire box of baking soda into the water.
"Okay, get in," he said.
"Can I get a little privacy, please?" Jerry asked.
"Yeah, sure. I've got to get back to talk to Aunt Kate about this mess at the beach, anyway."
Mike walked downstairs, and picked up the phone. He dialed his aunt's number, and then sat down in a chair.
"Hey Aunt Kate," he said. "And before you say anythin', this has nothin' to do with monsters, magic, and stuff like that there."
"Then what's the problem?" Kate asked.
"I never pegged you as an environmentalist, Mike. I would've thought Sarah was the one who was into that sort of thing."
"Oh, she is. I'll admit, I'm not really to keen on Sarah's environmentalist issues, I mean, yeah, it's disgustin', but I wouldn't carry this too far like Sarah would, with the protestin' and all. But see, I've got a couple of problems."
"Okay, lay them on me, Michael."
"Well, for one thing, I'm almost positive that it's a kind of chemical. Fluey found a barrel of the stuff while skin divin'."
"He didn't touch it, did he?"
"No, he didn't."
"Jerry, however . . . . . ."
"Uh oh, what happened?"
"Well, we found the barrel today, and yesterday, when the gunk first started appearin' on the shore . . . . . well, I was walkin' along the shore, and I was the first to actually . . . . . notice it was there. It burned my ankle. But it's not that bad. It's just a red spot on the side of my ankle. Jerry swam right into it. That chemical junk burned him but good!"
"How bad is it?"
"Well, it probably looks worse than it is. It's just red blotches all along his arms, legs, fingers, toes, chest, back, shoulders, neck, face, you name it!"
"Yuck. Well, there's not much I can do, Michael."
"Well, Joe's lookin' through that slop. He and Dr. Brackett are tryin' to figure out what it is."
"That's about all you can do, and maybe help clean up that stuff if you want to."
"Yeah. Oh by the way, do me and Fluey a favor. Keep an eye out for the mermaid colony. The wait's drivin' the poor kid crazy."
"Oh yes, he and Marina had that thing goin' last summer before she had to leave."
"Yeah. Thanks, Aunt Kate."
Mike hung up the phone just as Jerry came down the stairs, dripping wet, and holding a towel around his waist.
"Talk to your aunt?" he asked.
"Yeah," Mike said. "Not much we can do except clean up the gunk. Don't worry about that. I'll do most of it. By the way, did the baking soda work?"
"Not much. I don't think this is gonna clear up any time soon."
"Yeah, it could take awhile before your skin clears."
"Man, it looks like I've got the world's strangest sunburn. I can barely touch anything in this house without contaminating it!"
"You're not really contaminated are you?"
"Let me just say this. I wouldn't get too close to me, Mike. And don't touch me. Not without rubber gloves at least."
"What's the matter?"
"Well . . . . ."
Jerry walked up the stairs. Mike followed him into the bedroom. Jerry picked up the shirt he was wearing earlier and handed it to Mike.
"You will notice some of the spots on that shirt," he said. "And I know for a fact that it's not the ointment."
Mike just looked at the T-shirt over and threw it on the floor. Then he nodded.
"Oh yeah," he said. "This is a problem. Apparently, this stuff can be passed off from person to person."
"Just as long as you don't touch an affected area without protection. Which, with me, is pretty much a guarantee."
Mike nodded. He left the Stanley's then. He had a lot of work to do. The first thing he did was head for Rampart. Maybe they had some more headway on the green goop. He also wanted to tell them what he found out.
"Apparently, Jer's contagious," he said to Joe. "You touch an affected area without protection, or washin' with soap and water and such, you're infected."
"Hmm, interesting," Joe said. "At any rate, this green stuff you brought in . . . . . it's definitely chemical based. The main substance is the same stuff they put in batteries."
"Battery acid? No wonder that stuff burns you. I knew it was a type of acid, but I didn't think it was that strong. I also didn't think battery acid could burn him like that."
"Battery acid can eat through clothes, Mike. This chemical was diluted with something or another, so it's not as strong as it could have been."
"I see. So what do I tell Jerry?"
"Just tell him to continue applying the ointment until his skin clears up, and two weeks after it clears, just in case."
Mike walked into the lobby, and grabbed a payphone. He called Jerry, and told him the news, and then informed Kate. Once that was done, he headed for the beach and looked around. A clean up crew was out, trying to get that gunk out of the water. Mike snapped his fingers. He was now wearing a smock, plastic shower cap, painter's mask, gloves, and safety goggles. He walked out into the ocean, and began cleaning up what he could. He didn't think the wildlife would survive too long under these conditions.
"Hey, Mike!" Sarah called out, as she and Reggie ran over. "We didn't know you were on the clean up crew."
"I volunteered," Mike said. "What are you guys doin' down here? I thought the beach was closed."
"It is," Reggie said. "Except for us who care about the environment. Zap us in some protective gear and we'll give you a hand."
Mike snapped his fingers, and in a split second, Reggie and Sarah were supporting the protective gear. Then they began shoveling the gunk into large, metal barrels. Mike took a break after awhile, and went over to the rocks, half expecting to see Fluey there, waiting for Marina. Amazingly enough, he wasn't around.
"Well, here's a first," he said. "I would've pegged he'd be spendin' every day here."
Mike looked around. It appeared as though the pollution hadn't hit that area. Not yet anyway. As he was watching the water, a dolphin swam up to him. He was carrying something in his mouth.
"Hey fella," Mike said. "What's that?"
"Note from Ariel," the dolphin said.
Mike took the note, and unrolled it. He skimmed it, and then nodded.
"I kinda suspected this," he said. "Okay, thanks a lot, buddy. And be careful out there. That green slime out there is some nasty stuff!"
The dolphin dove underneath the water and swam off. Mike stuffed the note in his pocket, and left the beach. He went directly to Peter's house and showed him and Valerie the note.
"So the colony's not coming?" Valerie asked.
"Well, so far, they're not," Mike said. "It's because of the pollution. Once they hear it's been totally and completely cleaned up, they might swim over."
"But who knows how long it'll take for this mess to get cleaned up," Peter said.
"Poor Fluey, he'll be crushed," Valerie said.
"Where is he, anyway?" Mike asked.
"He just left for the beach," Peter said.
"Well, back to the old salt mines."
Mike left, and went back to the beach. Reggie and Sarah were still shoveling. They saw Mike and looked over at him.
"Where were you?" Sarah asked.
"Takin' a break," Mike said. "Listen, I'll get back to work in a little while. I've got somethin' to do."
Reggie and Sarah nodded, and continued to shovel the green gunk into the barrels. He walked over to the rocks. Indeed, there was Fluey, scribbling in his sketchpad.
"You're worse than Sarah what it comes to art," Mike said, walking over.
"It gives me something to do while I'm waiting," Fluey replied. "I don't know what in the world is taking the colony so long."
"Well, you're in for a long wait, Shotgun. Man, I really hate to tell you this, but . . . . well, you really oughta know."
"What's the matter, Mike?"
Mike bit his lower lip, and handed Fluey the note. He skimmed it, and then looked at Mike.
"Are you for real?" he asked.
"Unfortunately yes," Mike said, shrugging.
"They're not coming."
"It's the pollution. Sorry, Shotgun, but there's nothin' I can do."
Fluey packed up his sketches, and walked off. Mike sighed, and then walked back into the beach to continue cleaning up. He put his mask and goggles back on, and picked up the shovel.
"Something wrong, Mike?" Reggie asked.
"Oh, just some of Fluey's plans for the summer fell through, that's all," Mike said.
"Yeah?" Sarah asked.
"Uh huh," Mike said. "He was gonna spend time with his girlfriend, who lives out of town, but she's not comin'."
"Oh, that's too bad," Reggie replied.
Mike nodded, and continued shoveling. It was about all he could think about doing at the time. A couple of days went by. Most of the green gunk had been cleaned off, but by then, it looked as though people were using the beach as a garbage dump. There were cans and bottles and trash all over the place.
"I don't believe this," Mike said. "I just don't believe this! We're just about finished cleanin' up the green goop, and now we've got junk all over the beach!"
"Well, that's people," Sarah said. "They're too lazy to find a trash can. I oughta take those morons and dump 'em head first into a trash can!"
"Easy girl," Reggie replied. "Mike, what do you suggest we do about this?"
"A massive clean up. It's about the only thing we can do right about now. Let's go get the guys and start Project Beach."
Mike, Reggie, and Sarah ran off to gather the gang together. Mike had a heck of a time trying to convince Fluey to join in. He wasn't going anywhere near the beach after he heard Marina wasn't coming.
"Look, Fluey, it's an environmental disaster down there," Mike said. "We need all the help we can get cleanin' it up."
"So why don't you just use your magic?" Fluey asked.
"Because it won't work on big jobs like this," Mike said. "We've already talked Linda, Multi, and Coiley into it."
"I don't think so."
Mike was about ready to throttle this kid. Valerie had another tactic, however.
"Listen, Fluey," she said. "This is just a wild idea, but maybe if we get the beach cleaned up, the mermaid colony will come. I mean, that's what Ariel's note said."
"We clean it up, the mermaids'll show up?" Fluey asked.
"In a nutshell, yes," Valerie said.
"Well, not a definite yes," Mike said. "But not a definite no, either."
"Okay," Fluey said. "Let's hit it."
Mike nodded, and hit the beach. The usual group was there, cleaning up the gigantic mess.
"How can one beach get this messy?" Phyllis asked.
"Don't ask me, I don't know," Mike said.
"What gets me is that people don't know how easily this stuff can be recycled," Sarah said. "Separate the aluminum cans from the glass bottles, Mike. It'll save the recycling center time in separating the stuff themselves."
"Listen to her, the authority on the environment," Micky teased. Sarah stifled the urge to hit him over the head with a glass bottle.
"This'll probably take a lifetime to clean up," Camille commented.
"We need a tougher littering law around here," Mike said. "That's the problem."
A grand total of six hours later, the group managed to clean up a bulk of the mess. Mike looked around and sighed.
"I guess this is as good as it's gonna get," he said.
"Is it over?" Drake asked.
"I don't think I can move my arms," Micky said.
"I don't think I can move your arms either," Reggie replied.
Mike looked out into the ocean. At least it was clean. He turned to Fluey.
"Well, I think the colony should be hearin' about this in a few days," he said. "They should be coming in no time."
"I guess," Fluey said, shrugging.
"What's the matter now?"
"Nothing . . . . . but I just get this weird feeling that something's wrong."
"Hey, wait a minute, I'm supposed to be the one that senses stuff, Shotgun, not you. Get it?"
"Sure, Mike. But my intuition is telling me something's not right. I'll be right back."
"Where are you going?"
Fluey didn't answer. He just ran off. Mike shrugged and followed him. Multi and Coiley watched both of them go.
"I think Fluey's lost it," Multi said.
"I agree," Coiley said. "I always thought he was a little nuts, but this just proves it."
Multi nodded. They didn't have any clue as to what was going on. Anyway, Mike had tracked Fluey to the rocks, and found the teenager standing there, staring straight down into the ocean, just staring.
"What's up, Shotgun?" he asked, and suddenly, he got a funny feeling in his sixth sense.
Fluey didn't give Mike an answer. He was just staring into the water. Mike walked over, and looked down. He spotted something floating in the water. He reached down to pick it up, but Fluey stopped him.
"Don't touch it," he said. "Not with your hands at least. Use your magic."
Mike shrugged, and snapped his fingers. He pointed at the object floating in the water, and brought it up, but dropped it immediately. It was a fish skeleton.
"Oh gross!" he yelled.
"I don't know what happened," Fluey said. "But I think that the pollution reached this area."
"No doubt about it. I'm gonna fish out this place, and see if I can figure out what's up. You'd better go on home. I'll let you know if I get any messages from Marina."
Fluey nodded. Mike snapped his fingers and a fishing net appeared in his hands. He threw it into the water, and brought it back out. The net was filled with dead fish and carcasses. He just couldn't believe it. The next day, he went over to the Stanleys and told Jerry about the whole thing.
"Ew, ick!" Jerry shouted once Mike told him about the fish.
"And the funny thing about the water is that it doesn't even look like's it contaminated," Mike said.
"There was an oil spill, Mike," Hank said, coming into the room. "But not just an oil spill. The Coast Guard found evidence of a fishing ship dumping chemicals into the water, some that can't even be detected by Geiger counters and radar."
"Bet they haven't seen my sixth sense in action," Mike replied.
"Probably not," Hank said.
"Boy this is really messing up the beach, isn't it?" Jerry asked.
"Well, I can tell you, your summer's probably ruined Jerry," Mike said. "You don't look so good."
"Yeah, I know," Jerry said. "This stuff hasn't cleared up yet, and what's worse, my skin's starting to peel."
"Yeecchhh," Mike grimaced.
"Don't worry, it's just dead skin," Jerry replied.
"But what are you guys going to do about the beach?" Hank asked.
"I don't know," Mike said, shaking his head. "I've already done a massive clean up. This is really a tough question to answer."
Mike left the Stanleys and walked over to the beach. He went over to the rocks, and saw Fluey sitting there, staring out into the water.
"Any news from the colony?" he asked.
"Nah," Fluey replied. "I'm getting a little worried, Mike. Pollution or not, Marina would have found a way to get a message to me."
"She would have. But maybe she doesn't know how."
A seagull flew by, practically shrieking in Mike's face. He took a message that was tied around his leg, and threw it to Mike. Mike unrolled it and skimmed it.
"It's from Marina," he said.
"What's it say?" Fluey asked.
"The pollution levels here are too much for her and the colony," Mike said, paraphrasing the note. "Uh oh. Accordin' this, some of the pollution and junk has reached the colony."
"What?!" Fluey shouted.
"About half the colony's sick because of the mess. Let's see here . . . . . she tells me to send you her regrets and an apology."
"We've got to do something, Mike! Do you know where this colony is?"
"Unfortunately, no. I don't think I can find out, either. As far as I know, it's near the Virgin Islands, in the middle of nowhere and completely underwater."
"But what about the colony?"
"Fluey, there's nothin' I can do about this. If the pollution's spread that far, we've got to do what we can to stop it, but there's no guarantee that we can save the colony without endangerin' it! You know Sea World will pay a million for a mermaid!"
"Don't 'but Mike' me! There's nothin' I can do, and you'd better not try anythin' stupid, okay?! I don't want you tryin' to find that colony! Not all mer-people are like Ariel, Marina, Coral, and Bubbles, who like humans. Most of them downright hate them, so you could be settin' yourself up for some big trouble."
Fluey didn't say anything. Mike turned around and went home. Fluey just stared out into the ocean. He just had to do something. The problem was he didn't know what.
"What can I do?" he asked himself. "I'm just a kid."
Fluey headed for home. It was about all he could think of doing. The next morning, Mike went to the beach only to be blocked off by someone from the Coast Guard.
"Nobody's permitted on the beach," he said.
"What's goin' on?" he asked, looking around past the guy's shoulder. There was police tape everywhere, as well as police cars, fire engines, and paramedic squads.
"Some nut went surfing late last night," a police officer said. "A teenage kid."
Mike felt his stomach drop out all of a sudden. He could feel his heart beating in his throat. He somehow knew . . . . .
"Mike, don't look so nervous," Johnny said, walking over.
"Yeah, it wasn't anyone we know," Roy said. "It was a kid from a high school in San Diego, trying to prove the water wasn't contaminated."
"Oh good," Mike said, breathing of relief. "But then again, I should've known. Fluey may be a little upset, but he's not that desperate."
Johnny and Roy looked at Mike oddly. They didn't have the slightest idea what he was talking about. At any rate, they didn't have the time to think it over. The pollution situation seemed to be getting worse by the hour. Mike got another note via seagull from the mermaid colony. This time, Marina and Ariel were bearing more bad news. Fluey practically yanked the note out of Mike's hands and read it himself.
"Due to the poison, whatever's left of the colony is forced to move to safer waters," he read. "We aren't sure, but this could mean taking a permanent residence far, far away from where we are now, and even further away from Malibu Beach. We may never see the California coast again. I had planned on coming back this summer to see you, Fluey, but that doesn't look like it's possible. I'm very sorry. With any luck, we'll be able to see each other again, but it looks impossible. Wishing and hoping with all my heart, Marina."
"That doesn't sound good," Mike said.
"There's the understatement of the year," Fluey said, crumpling the note into a ball. "Well . . . . . who cares? I mean, it never would have worked anyway. I mean, she's part fish, I'm a human, and neither of us are willing to change that. I'm . . . . . probably better off without her anyway."
Fluey then dashed up the stairs before anyone could say anything else. Valerie started after him.
"Fluey, sweetheart, wait a minute!" she shouted.
"Let him go," Mike said.
"But Mike, he . . . ."
"Just let him go. He wants to be alone."
"But what he just said . . . ." Peter said.
"Pete, are you tellin' me you believed him?" Mike asked, incredulously. "I pulled the same thing right after Pam died. The poor kid's in denial. Just leave him alone for awhile. But check in on him every now and again. I don't want him to get suicidal on us."
Peter and Valerie nodded. Mike left the house. He informed Jerry about Marina's latest note.
"You know you said my summer was ruined?" Jerry asked.
"Yeah," Mike said, nodding.
"Well, it looks like Fluey's summer is completely destroyed."
"Don't I know it. So how've you been doing?"
"Not so good. My skin's still burning, and now I'm starting to feel sick. I think I may be coming down with a virus or something like that. I don't think it has anything to do with the chemicals."
"Are you sure? It's been nearly three weeks. Your skin should have cleared up by now. Chemical burns generally don't last this long."
"I'm sure I'm fine. Don't worry about it, Mike."
Mike wasn't so sure. His sixth sense was telling him this wasn't just a small deal. He immediately called Joe to tell him the latest news.
"I wouldn't worry right now," Joe said. "You just keep an eye on Jerry as much as possible, Mike, and I'm sure things will clear up."
"I hope so, Joe," Mike said. "I'm really worried about him."
Mike's sixth sense was really working over time. Not only was he worried about Jerry's health, he was starting to worry about Fluey as well. He was extremely upset about the news he had just received, and there was no telling what he was going to do. He called Peter after he hung up with Joe, and gave him some instructions on dealing with the situations.
"I can only describe this as first love," he said. "And to a teenager, first love is everythin'. Whatever you do, try not to convince him about all those other 'fish in the sea,' okay? That's the last thing he wants to hear."
"Okay, Mike," Peter said.
"Is he still in his room?"
"Yeah, Valerie just went to check on him. Any other instructions?"
"Just keep checkin' in. Fluey may be a little testy about it, but make sure he doesn't do anythin' too hasty. We aren't sure if he'll ever see Marina again, and he might. Just tell him that."
"Okay, Mike. By the way, how's Jerry?"
"Don't get me started. The red marks on his skin still haven't cleared up, and now he's told me he's startin' to feel sick."
"That doesn't sound too good."
"I know. Boy, this is one mess I wish never happened."
"I talked to Sarah yesterday. She's instigating a protest at the docks today. She had the thing planned for weeks. I was going to join her, but then you came over with the note from Marina."
"Yeah, I think it might be good if both of you staid home. I think in the state Fluey's in, he's gonna need both of you. Listen, Pete, I'll either call, or come by later and check in. I'm gonna hit the docks and join in Sarah's protest."
"Okay. See you later, Michael."
Mike hung up, and snapped his fingers. He was now wearing a typical "hippie" outfit. He had a brown fringed vest, bell bottoms, headband, love beads, and protest sign. He zapped in a full length mirror, and looked at himself.
"Hmm, not bad," he said. "I make a pretty darn good lookin' hippie!"
Mike took his sign and headed for the docks. A lot of the others were there, in hippie guard, carrying signs.
"I half expected Peter to be here," Sarah said.
"Well, Fluey hasn't really been feelin' up to anythin' since his girlfriend told him she wasn't gonna come visit," Mike explained. "Peter wanted to make sure he's gonna be okay."
"I see. Well, Mike, I have to tell you, you look good."
"Thank you very much. Let's get this show on the road."
Mike, Reggie, Davy, Sarah, and the others began marching up and down the docks with their placards and such, all of them yelling about stopping pollution, saving the beach, that sort of thing. The fishermen didn't know what the heck to make of them. They just looked at each other and shrugged. A group of police officers came by after an hour.
"What's all the commotion?" one officer asked.
"Freedom of speech, freedom of assembly," Mike answered.
"We're just trying to save our waters," Sarah said. "Someone's been dumping junk into a public beach."
"I don't care," the cop said. "We want all of you outta here. And take my advice."
"What's that?" Reggie asked.
"Lose the clothes. The hippie look went out with Jimi Hendrix. Now move it before I lock the lot of you in jail!"
Everybody groaned and left the docks. They weren't exactly sure if the cops could actually arrest them for a peaceful protest, but they didn't want to push it. Mike went over to the Stanleys to tell Jerry about the protest, but he wasn't home.
"Where is he?" he asked Christine when she told him.
"Hank and Linda took him to Rampart," Christine replied, nonchalantly. "Jerry wasn't feeling well, so Hank and Linda decided to have Dr. Brackett or Dr. Early look at him, and check that rash or chemical burns or whatever they are."
Mike felt sick to his stomach. He ran out of the house, and headed directly to Rampart. Everyone there was staring at him like he was nuts, since he was still in the hippie outfit. Lynn let out a low whistle when she saw him.
"I'd stick to the eight button shirt and wool hat, Mike," she said.
"I just came from a protest," Mike explained. "One that flopped by the way. I went to tell Jerry about it and Mrs. Stanley said he was here."
"Oh yeah. Room five twenty-three, but you can't go up there."
"Oh for Pete's sake, why not?!"
"Kel and Joe are working on him. The minute Hank and Linda brought him in . . . . . well, let's just say we had to call in the clean up crew to mop up the floor."
"That good huh?"
"In any case, his been tossing his cookies ever since he got here, which is making it hard for Kel and Joe to see what's wrong."
"I know what's wrong. He probably swallowed a little of the green gunk he swam into, and it hasn't taken it's effect until now."
"I'll tell that to Kel and Joe."
"Yeah. By the way, what can you give me in antidepressants?"
"Fluey. His girlfriend planned on comin' in for the summer, but somethin' came up, and the kid's down in the dumps."
"I don't think so. Peter wouldn't like it if we tried to give Fluey drugs. He's at that age where it could become a habit."
"Good point. I'll talk to you later, Lynn."
"Yeah. And Mike?"
"Ditch the bells and beads. They went out with Janis Joplin."
Mike turned around and walked away. Things weren't getting any better around town. Every teenager in town was angry because they couldn't hang out at the beach. Valerie was on the phone, talking to Sarah about the protest. She hung up and turned to Peter.
"Well, the protest bombed," she said. "It's like no one cares anymore."
"Sure seems like it," Peter replied. "Every last teenager in town is ready to start a riot."
"Well, almost every teen in town."
"Oh. Yeah. At any rate, we can't stop progress, I've learned to live with it. You can't change anyone unless they want to change."
Peter grabbed his jacket from the hall closet, and was heading for the front door.
"Where are you going?" Valerie asked.
"To the mall," Peter replied. "I need to pick up some strings for my bass."
"Can I go with you?" Fluey asked from the top of the staircase. Peter and Valerie turned and looked up at him. They were a little surprised, since he had been spending the past few days in his room.
"Yeah, sure," Peter said.
"Glad to see you're out of your room," Valerie said.
Fluey just shrugged, and followed his uncle out to the car. They drove to the mall, where all the teenagers had been hanging out since they couldn't go to the beach. Neither of them said much. Fluey had his hands jammed into the pockets of his jacket, staring down at the floor. Peter couldn't think of anything to say to him. They walked inside the mall in silence. As they were walking, they ran into Mike, who was still in his hippie garb, and holding a soda cup from the food court, and sucking a drink through the straw.
"Hey guys," he said.
"Hi, Mike," Peter said. "What are you doing here?"
"And in that outfit?" Fluey asked.
"Decided to swing by," Mike replied. "Gotta pick up some strings for the Black Beauty."
"I gotta pick up some bass strings," Peter said. "You want to come with us, Fluey? Maybe we can pick up some strings for your guitar."
"No thanks," Fluey said. "I think I'll just go wander around on my own."
"You need money?" Peter asked.
"No, I'm fine."
"Okay, meet me back here in an hour, then."
Fluey walked off. Mike sighed and looked at Peter.
"Well, at least you got him out of his room," he said.
"One step at a time, Michael," Peter replied.
Mike nodded, and he and Peter walked into a music store to look at strings. Fluey walked over to the elevator, and punched the button. He figured he'd go up to the food court and hang around there. The teenagers mostly hung out there, and most of them had girlfriends. In fact, all of the kids that were hanging out in the food court were with their boyfriends or girlfriends. Fluey walked over to the counter of the closest stand, and bought some fries and a Coke, and headed for the nearest empty table, which was way in the back corner. Nobody would notice him there, he thought. As he watched the kids walk back and forth, he started breaking his fries in two pieces, and stirring his Coke around with the straw. He stared up at the neon lights around the whole food court, letting the images blur. The ceiling was painted like a night sky, stars and all. He stared up, and could swear some of the stars linked together, like a constellation, and he could see Marina. He was a little surprised at that, and rubbed his eyes, thinking he was crazy. He kept staring at the "constellation." Another outline formed there, one that looked like Fluey. He tried to touch Marina, but she disappeared the instant his fingers brushed against her hair. Fluey shook his head out, and stared at the ceiling again. The images were gone. His imagination was just playing tricks on him. He went back to stirring around his Coke.
As Fluey was sitting there, completely lost in thought, thinking he was completely unnoticed, out of the blue, someone noticed him. Coiley was coming around the corner. He was on a date with a friend of Fluey's, Aimee Armbruster. They were talking about the movie they had just come from. They went there after the protest broke up. Coiley had been part of it, and planned on marching for the entire day, but when the police broke it off, he called Aimee and asked her to go to a movie with him.
At any rate, they were just coming around the corner and noticed Fluey sitting there alone, stirring around a Coke.
"Hey look," Coiley said. "There's Fluey."
"What's he doing all the way over in the back?" Aimee asked.
"I don't know. Let's go find out."
Aimee and Coiley walked over to the table and sat down. Fluey didn't notice.
"Hey, Fluey, your fries are getting pretty soggy," Coiley said.
"Oh hi, guys," Fluey said, looking up.
"Is something wrong?" Aimee asked.
"Eh, not much," Fluey said. "I mean . . . . . well . . . ."
"Mike told us about your girlfriend at the protest," Coiley said.
"What exactly did he say?"
"He just told us that she lived out of down and had to cancel her visit. That's a drag."
"You must be disappointed," Aimee said.
"Disappointed doesn't begin to describe it," Fluey said, standing up. "I'll see you guys later."
Fluey got up and left. Aimee and Coiley looked at each other and shrugged. Fluey headed downstairs, and then waited for Peter and Mike. The two of them came out of the CD store, talking about a recent group, whom they didn't think was so great.
"They don't sing, they whine," Mike said. "And what bugs me is that they compare them to us Monkees."
"Yeah," Peter said. "We played our instruments. I've yet to see them pick up a guitar!"
"The Great 'Nsync Debate again, huh?" Fluey asked.
"More or less," Mike said. "I've got to get goin'. I'll see you guys later."
Mike left. Peter and Fluey looked at each other, and shrugged. Then they left as well. Mike went over to Rampart General Hospital to check in on Jerry.
"What's up, Jer?" he asked.
"Nothing much," Jerry said. "Apparently, I've swallowed some of that gunk."
"So I've heard. Delayed reaction, huh?"
"Tell me about it! This is gonna be a long summer, I can tell you that much."
"You're tellin' me. I have to tell you, though, the burn marks look like they're clearin'."
"That's probably the only good thing. So, how's Fluey doing?"
"Not so good. He's still a little depressed about Marina. I mean, he's not on the verge of doin' anythin' crazy, at least not yet."
"Well, he won't. At least, I don't think. I don't know you've known him longer than I have."
"True. I'll see you later."
Mike left. He had a lot to think about. A couple of days went by. Mike was reading an article Reggie's friend, Kenny, wrote in the paper about the pollution situation at the beach. As he was reading it, thunder crashed from the basement door, and lightning flashed. Warren looked at the door as if he were losing his mind.
"It's just Sabrina, Dad," Mike replied, not even looking up from his article.
The basement door opened, and up came Mike's cousin, Sabrina, along with his aunts, Hilda and Zelda, and all three of them were ready to hit the beach.
"Time for a little fun in the sun!" Hilda shouted.
"Plans changed," Mike said, looking at the newspaper. "Beach's closed."
"Closed?" Zelda asked. "This time of year?"
"What happened, Mike?" Sabrina asked.
"Pollution is what happened," Mike replied, putting down his newspaper. Then he sighed. "We're not havin' a good summer."
"Jerry especially," Warren replied. "We should have called you guys and told you as soon as we knew, but Mike's been too preoccupied to think about it."
"Some jerk's been dumpin' toxic slime into the ocean," Mike explained. "Jerry swam right into it, and he's got chemical burns all over his body. Now we learned he swallowed some of that junk, when he swam into it, but due to a delayed reaction, it didn't take any effect until now."
"Poor Jerry," Sabrina said.
"That's not the half of it," Mike said. He glanced at his father. "Hey, Pop, I need to tell Sabrina a witch thing, you know. It's kind of secretive."
"There are times when I wish you weren't half witch, Mike," Warren sighed. Then he stood up. "I'll go tell the girls you guys are here."
Warren left the room. Mike took a deep breath and turned to his aunts and cousin.
"You know my friend, Ariel, right?" he asked.
"Oh yeah, your mermaid friend," Hilda said. "Hey, has the colony come back yet?"
"Half the mermaid colony was wiped out due to the pollution," Mike explained. Then he sighed. "Fluey's girlfriend was part of the colony. She, along with the survivin' mermaids and mermen, moved away from the area, and they're not comin' because of all the pollution."
"Oh dear," Zelda said.
"The poor kid's heartbroken," Mike continued. "Peter, Valerie, and I are tryin' to get him to cheer up a little, but he just won't."
"I don't blame him," Sabrina said. "But what are you going to do now?"
"Put a stop to this pollution," Mike said. "The problem is I don't know how. Reggie's got a reporter friend who's workin' on it, but one letter to the editor isn't gonna change everythin'."
The phone rang just then. Mike sighed, and picked it up.
"Yeah?" he asked.
"It's me," Reggie said. "I just got a call from Kenny, and he wants both you and me to head down to the beach and like now, baby!"
"Why? What's the matter?"
"You gotta see it to believe it. Just come down now."
Mike hung up the phone and turned to his aunts and cousin.
"Reggie wants me to go to the beach for some reason," he said. "You want to come with me so I can show you what I'm talkin' about?"
"Yeah, sure," Sabrina said.
"Maybe we can do a massive clean up down there," Hilda said.
The four of them left the house and high tailed it to the beach. Reggie was standing on the rocks, while Kenny was standing around, taking pictures of the water.
"So what's the emergency that you couldn't tell me over the phone?" Mike asked.
"If I told you over the phone, you wouldn't believe it," Reggie said. "Take a look at that."
"Ewwww, what is it?!"
Mike looked down into the water and saw a fish, about the size of a bread box, and it had pink lumps all over his body, as well as what appeared to be three eyes.
"That's a fish," Reggie said.
"Apparently, some of this pollution causes major mutations," Kenny replied. "The Humane Society's in an uproar about this!"
"Yeah, we found a seagull awhile back with feathers missing from it's wings, as well as a deformed beak."
"All the animals around here have gone through similar transformations."
"No kidding," Sabrina said, looking at a school of fish, two of which appeared to have two heads, and one of which looked like it sprouted legs.
"This is horrible," Zelda said. "All of them have gone through this?"
"All the ones that survived at least," Reggie said. "We found a nest of turtle eggs, but there's no way they're gonna hatch."
"I don't believe this," Mike said. "I just don't believe this."
"Every animal who's swam through this pollution ended up like this," Reggie said. "I hate to say this . . . . . I really hate to say this, but I think they'd be better off if we put them out of their misery!"
"Mike!" Sabrina shouted. "I just thought of something terrible. You said Jerry swam through this?"
"Uh huh," Mike said.
"And all the animals who've swam through it went through horrible, deforming mutations?"
"Yeah . . . . . . oh no!"
Sabrina didn't need to go on. Mike grabbed Kenny's cell phone from his pocket, and punched the buttons as hard as he could.
"Rampart General Hospital," nurse Sharon Walters said.
"Sharon, Mike," Mike said. "You know what happened to Jerry, right?"
"Well, I'm on the beach, and a lot of the animals who swam through the pollution have sort of mutated."
"Oh, that's too bad."
"I was wonderin' . . . . ."
"I'll go tell Dr. Brackett."
"Thanks, Sharon. I'll be there in half an hour. I expect a full report when I get there."
"Got it, Mike."
Mike turned off the phone, and gave it to Kenny. Then he made a run for the parking lot.
"Mike, where are you going?" Hilda asked.
"Gotta check in on Jerry!" Mike shouted. "You guys get to work cleanin' up what you can of this mess!"
"Roger Wilco," Reggie said, saluting. Then he looked out into the water and sighed. "This may take awhile."
"Gross, gross, gross, gross!" Sabrina muttered.
Mike made it to Rampart in under thirty minutes. He nearly ran over an orderly while making a mad dash to the front desk. He collided with Johnny, and the two of them crashed to the ground.
"Sorry," Mike said.
"At least we're in a hospital," Johnny said. "Roy, I need a medic!"
"Mike, what do you take this for?" Lynn asked. "The Indianapolis Five Hundred? What were you going? Mach two?"
"I said I was sorry," Mike said, pulling Johnny to his feet. "I'm in a terrible hurry. Where's Dr. Brackett?"
"Right behind you," Dr. Brackett said. "Sharon told me what you told her. We released Jerry late last night."
"Oh good," Mike said. "But I want to know if you could test some of these animals. I'll bring some by later."
"Yeah, we can see if mutations could happen to a human," Lynn said. "What exactly do we have down there?"
"Stuff for Ripley's!" Mike shouted. "Fish with two heads, fish with three eyes, deformed seagulls, you name it!"
"Did you happen to see a fish with two heads, one in front and one in back?"
"You mean a fish that you can't tell if it's comin' or goin'?"
"Well, there's one for Mr. Ripley."
Mike sighed, and left Rampart. He went to a payphone and called Peter about the mutations. He sighed.
"Well, I think that about does it," he said.
"I agree, Pete," Mike said. "The Coast Guard's done everythin' they could, but they just can't clean up that mess."
"Why don't you get your aunts together and see what you can make of it? Maybe you guys can clean it up and get the mermaid colony back."
"I think Aunt Hilda, Aunt Zelda, Aunt Kate, Sabrina, and I might be able to clean it up. Might. I can't guarantee anythin', Peter."
"Michael, I'd do anything to get that colony back here. I'd sell my soul if I had to."
"I take it Fluey's not doin' too good."
"Well, he's fine, but I'm not sure how long he can go without having the urge to dive into the polluted ocean."
"I'm doin' all I can."
Mike heard a slight click then. He thought Peter hung up.
"You still there, Pete?" he asked.
"Yeah," Peter said. "I'm still here. Valerie must've picked up the other phone."
Peter was a long way off. Apparently, he and Fluey had picked up the phone at the same time, only in different rooms. The click was Fluey hanging up the other phone. He couldn't take it any longer.
"I'm going out there to find the colony," he said. "I don't care what it takes."
Fluey raced down the stairs and out the door. Peter looked at him oddly.
"Pete?" Mike asked.
"I'm still here," Peter said. "Fluey just raced out the door, in some kind of hurry."
"I don't have the slightest idea. Look at it this way. At least he's out of the house."
"That might be a good thing or a bad thing."
"Mike, I really don't think he's contemplating suicide."
"Well, I'll use the ol' sixth sense and try to find out where he's goin'. I'll talk to you later."
Mike hung up, and headed for the beach. He wanted to tell the others his idea of having him and his other witch relatives try to use their magic to clean it up. Fluey, in the meantime, was running down the streets, heading for the docks. Multi and Coiley saw him and drove their car over to him.
"Hey, where have you been?" Multi asked.
"Staying home," Fluey said, stopping. "Can you guys give me a lift to the docks?"
"Why do you want to go down there?" Coiley asked, confused.
"That's not a very popular hangout among us," Multi said.
"I know, I know," Fluey said. "I just gotta get down there, fellas! It's important!"
"What's so important?" Coiley asked.
"I've got to get down there," Fluey said. "It's my only chance to find cleaner waters."
"I don't know, Fluey," Multi said. "I think all the waters down here are contaminated."
"Yeah, you know what happened to Jerry," Coiley replied.
"Look, if you don't want to drive me down there, just say so!" Fluey yelled, and he continued running. Multi and Coiley looked at each other.
"Think maybe we oughta tell Mike about this?" Coiley asked.
"You read my mind," Multi asked. "Let's go see if we can find him."
Coiley slammed on the gas, and the two boys headed directly for the beach. Meanwhile, Fluey had reached the docks. He didn't necessarily want to just jump off and dive into the water. He had to be sneakier than that. He climbed aboard a ship that was about to pull out, and hid in one of the lifeboats.
"All right, crew," the captain of the ship said. "We have to clear the area. These waters are no longer good for fishing anymore."
"That's justice for you," one of the sailors said. "Some bozo dumps garbage into the water, and makes it unlivable for the rest of us."
The other sailors nodded, and climbed aboard the ship. Then they were off. By that time, Multi and Coiley had made it to the beach, and they found Mike, Sabrina, Hilda, Zelda, Reggie, and Kenny fishing out the animals. They put the ones that were still alive into plastic buckets and bins full of water. They put the dead ones into trash bags. They didn't know what else to do with them.
"Mike, we've gotta talk to you," Multi said.
"What's wrong?" Mike asked, but he already had a pretty good idea.
"We ran into Fluey," Coiley said. "He said something about going to the docks. He said it was his only chance to find cleaner water or something like that."
"Oh great, he's lookin' for the colony," Mike groaned. He began to run off.
"Colony?" Coiley asked.
"Mike, what colony?" Multi asked.
"What's going on?" Jerry asked, suddenly.
"What are you doin' here?" Mike asked.
"I was released from Rampart last night," Jerry said. "I was feeling okay, so I decided to come by and see if you needed some help cleaning up this mess."
"Great, you clean, I gotta get to the docks."
"Fluey's out lookin' for Marina and what's left of the colony!"
"What colony, Mike?!" Multi shouted, getting a little impatient.
"And who's Marina?" Coiley asked.
"Mike, what's going on?" Reggie asked. "You were this secretive last summer, too!"
Mike realized he was in a corner now. No beating around the bush would get him out of this mess this time. It was time to tell the truth.
"Marina is Fluey's girlfriend," Mike said. "They met last summer, and she's a mermaid."
"A mermaid?!" Coiley shouted.
"No wonder he spent all his time at the beach last summer," Multi said. "And that mermaid he kept drawing. That must've been her."
"Right," Mike said. "Up until now, only Jerry and I knew about it. And Aunt Hilda, Aunt Zelda, and Sabrina, 'cause I'm friends with a mermaid named Ariel, and I've been friends with her for some time."
"So what's the problem?" Kenny asked.
"Fluey might have dove straight off the docks," Mike said. "The pollution level is higher now that it was when Jerry swam into it. The levels of chemicals could kill him!"
"Oh no," Multi said.
"That's why I've got to get there now! Sabrina and Jerry, you come with me. Reggie, use Kenny's phone to call Peter and Valerie and tell them what's goin' on. Tell them to meet us at the beach across town. The rest of you stay here and continue cleanin'!"
"Why do you want Jerry to come with us, Mike?" Sabrina asked.
"Look at him," Mike said. "He's still got all those chemical burns. I'm goin' to show these guys once and for all what these chemicals can do! And I need you to come with me, just in case I can get a fix on Fluey. I can't transport myself."
"We'd better hurry," Jerry said.
Mike nodded. The docks were close by, but he, Sabrina, and Jerry ran for them as fast as they could anyway. There wasn't a second to spare. They raced onto the docks and skidded to a halt. It was practically deserted.
"Now what do we do?" Jerry asked.
"Well, my sixth sense hasn't acted up yet," Mike said. "I think everythin's fine. For now. All we have to do is find out where Fluey is."
"How are we gonna do that?"
"The ol' sixth sense is gonna work it's magic."
Mike put his fingers to his temples and concentrated. Then he nodded.
"He's on a ship," he said. "In waters that haven't had a touch of pollution on them. The colony's close to there, too. Sabrina, you've got to zap us over there."
"No problem," Sabrina said. "Hold on, guys."
Sabrina waved her index finger in the air, and she and the boys disappeared. They reappeared on the boat, right next to a lifeboat. Mike knocked on the side of it, and then climbed in.
"You've got a lot of explainin' to do," he said.
"Why do you have to be a witch?" Fluey groaned.
"It goes with the territory," Mike said. "Let me guess. You were on the phone when I called Peter."
"Thought so. All I have to say is this. Are you crazy?! What if there were chemical waste all over the ocean? You could get yourself killed!"
"Look, Mike, I really don't care. I'm going crazy, and if I don't see Marina soon, I might as well just swim into the chemical mess and stay there!"
"I get the point. I know this has been rough on you, Shotgun, but love's like that."
Fluey was about to respond when a sailor came by whistling. He stopped abruptly when he saw the unfamiliar foursome standing on the deck.
"Captain!" he shouted. "Captain! Stowaways captain!"
The sailor ran off, calling for the captain to come quickly. Mike looked down, and scanned the water.
"Persons overboard!" he yelled, and jumped in.
"Is he crazy?!" Sabrina shouted. "That water could be contaminated!"
"If he jumped, he probably did a quick scan," Jerry said. "I think it's safe. Geronimo!"
Jerry dove in as well. Fluey and Sabrina looked at each other.
"What are our choices?" Sabrina asked.
"Jumping overboard or spending a week in the brig," Fluey said, looking down at the water. "See you in ten to twenty, Sabrina! Rally ho-ho!"
"I hate it when he does that," Sabrina said. "But what the heck? Rally ho!"
Sabrina dove overboard just as the captain came by. He didn't see anyone around, and glared at the sailor.
"They were here, sir," the sailor said. "Three guys and a girl! I saw them! Honest!"
"Do you want to be court marshaled, sailor?" the captain asked.
"Then never interrupt my siesta with reports of stowaways that weren't really there again!"
The captain and the sailor walked off. The boat sailed away. Mike, Jerry, Fluey, and Sabrina popped out of the water, and laughed.
"I can just see the look on the sailor's face," Sabrina said.
"Yeah," Mike said. "Well, now that we're here, we might as well look for the mermaid colony."
"But how are we gonna breathe under water?" Jerry asked.
"You're not," Mike said. "You're goin' back to shore."
"Oh come on, Mike! I'm fine! Really! There's no pollution here."
"Yet. I don't want to have to go through what you went through earlier."
"Mike, just let him come with us," Sabrina said. "If we want to find the mermaid colony, we'd better do it now before more pollution comes."
"Besides, we have your sixth sense to warn us if any of that slop is coming," Fluey replied.
"All right, all right," Mike said. He snapped his fingers, and four seashells on strings appeared in his hands. He gave three of them to the others. "Wear these around your necks, and whatever you do, don't lose them!"
"Right," the others said, slipping on the necklaces. Then they dove underneath the water and began swimming.
Mike was doing most of the guiding using his sixth sense. He looked around for any trace of the mermaid colony. He didn't have much luck, though. Suddenly, he stopped, and the others crashed into him.
"What did you stop for?" Sabrina asked.
"There's some of them," Mike said. "But I'm pickin' up vibes. These mermaids aren't the kind who dig humans."
"Where do we find one that will?" Jerry asked.
"Uhhh . . . ." Mike said, looking around. "Oh! Hey, look, there's Coral. I'm sure she'll take us to Marina."
"How do we get her attention without drawing the other mermaids over here?" Fluey asked.
"My thought waves don't work very well in salt water," Mike replied. "But I know just what to do."
Mike moved his index finger in a circle, and sent a tiny bolt of magic at Coral. It hit her in the back of the neck, and she looked to see where it came from. She saw Mike, and swam over.
"What are you doing here?" she asked.
"We followed this knucklehead out," Mike said, indicating Fluey. "He was lookin' for Marina."
"Follow me," Coral replied.
The quintet began swimming. Coral kept glancing back at Jerry.
"What in the world happened to you?" she asked.
"Don't ask," Jerry said. "It's a long story."
"He swam into the green slime that chased you guys off," Mike said.
"Ah ha," Coral said.
"Don't worry about it, Coral," Mike said. "He's not contagious anymore."
Coral nodded, and led the group behind a patch of seaweed. Ariel, Bubbles, and Marina were sitting around, playing with bubble balls.
"Hey Marina!" Coral called. "Guess who's here!"
Marina looked over, and saw Fluey. She stared at him, as though she couldn't believe it. Then she smiled, and swam over to him. The two of them embraced.
"What are you doing here?" she asked. "You shouldn't have come!"
"I couldn't take it anymore," Fluey said. "I was about to go completely crazy. If I didn't see you soon, I was probably gonna jump into the toxic slime and stay there."
"I think maybe we oughta leave these two alone for awhile," Mike said. "Jer, I'm surprised those marks haven't gotten irritated."
Jerry didn't say anything. Truth be known, the salt water was driving his rash completely crazy. The marks began to burn a little, but he didn't say a word. At any rate, Mike, Sabrina, Jerry, Bubbles, Coral, and Ariel swam away, but not too far away.
"That was really sweet, Mike," Ariel said.
"Sweet nothin'," Mike said. "Fluey's friends told me he was gonna go and look for her, and I had to follow him to make sure he didn't end up in chemical waste land. I'm not plannin' on stayin' long. I'm just gonna give him and Marina a few minutes."
"It's so romantic," Bubbles sighed.
The others agreed on that one. Fluey and Marina swam off, talking about the latest crisis.
"They haven't gotten the beach cleaned up," Fluey said. "I don't think they ever will, and it's the closest beach."
"The colony's going to have to clear out of this area, too," Marina said. "All the waters are too dangerous to be in, since the chemicals have spread. There's only a handful of merfolk left."
"This is just typical. I finally meet the girl of my dreams, and it can't work out."
"How do you think I feel? I meet the boy of my dreams, and he's a human. Too bad neither of us want to change. Must be murder on you during a school dance."
"It doesn't bother me. Much."
"We're thinking of moving the colony to the east."
"But you'd still come back to the west coast during the summer, wouldn't you?"
"I'm not so sure, Fluey. It's not my decision. It's always the King's decision."
"I get it. Well, I guess we'll just have to make this moment last."
Marina nodded, and she and Fluey swam off. Elsewhere, Mike began telling Ariel, Coral, and Bubbles about the toxic waste.
"They can't clean it up," he said. "We haven't found a way to get it all cleaned up."
"This is really gonna kill Marina," Coral said. "She was about ready to swim through the chemical slop herself."
"We had to talk her out of it," Ariel said. "We all know that both of them are in love, but there are a lot of strains on their relationship."
"Yeah, for one thing, Fluey's a human, Marina's a mermaid," Jerry replied. "And neither of them want to change that."
"True love finds a way," Mike said. "It always does."
The others nodded. Suddenly, Mike began to get a funny feeling in his sixth sense. He looked in the distance, and saw a metal barrel sinking to the bottom of the sea.
"Oh no," he said. "Oh no! Oh no!"
"What's the matter, Mike?" Sabrina asked.
"They're at it again!" Mike yelled. "Look!"
"Oh no, not more chemicals!" Jerry shouted.
"We'll alert the colony!" Ariel said, and she and Coral swam off. Bubbles began to giggle.
"Oh look at the pretty green smoke!" she shouted.
"It won't be pretty if you get near it, Bubbles!" Coral shouted, grabbing Bubbles's arm. They swam off as fast as they could.
"What are we gonna do?" Jerry asked.
"Find Fluey and Marina and tell them that they're dumpin' again," Mike said. "Let's move!"
The trio swam as fast as they could, trying to avoid barrels and toxic waste. They weren't the only ones aware of the waste. Fluey and Marina had noticed it too and were swimming as fast as they could.
"There's no getting away from it!" Fluey shouted.
"Quick, in here!" Marina shouted, swimming into a cave. Fluey followed her.
"We should be safe in here," Marina said.
"Provided nothing's living in this cave," Fluey replied. "Looks clear enough to me. All we have to do is wait for Mike."
Barrels were dropping into the water from all over the place. One landed right at the cave entrance, and green smoke was released from it.
"Get back into the cave!" Fluey shouted.
"I hope that stuff doesn't come in here," Marina said.
"It wouldn't matter. We're trapped. There's no way out!"
"What do we do now?"
"I don't know. I really don't know. Where's Mike when we need him?"
Luckily, Mike was close by. He, Sabrina, and Jerry swam over and saw the barrel. Mike looked inside the cave, closely. He rolled up his sleeves, and blasted the barrel to kingdom come. The green smoke cleared almost immediately.
"Get out of there now!" he shouted. "Quick before another barrel drops!"
"Come on!" Fluey shouted, grabbing Marina's hand. "We've gotta swim for it!"
"Sabrina, I need some help," Mike said. "I can't blast these barrels away by myself! Jerry, you go with Fluey, Marina, and the rest of the mermaid colony!"
"Right," Jerry shouted, and he swam off.
Mike and Sabrina began blasting at barrels, cleaning up the mess before it could grow as mad as it was at the other beach. The mermaid colony was fleeing right and left. Once all the barrels were cleared, Mike swam up to the surface, and climbed onto the boat. The crew was dumping barrels into the ocean.
"That's the last of it," one sailor said.
"What do you think you're doin'?!" Mike yelled. "Don't you realize someone's gonna get killed!"
"Who are you?"
"An environmentalist. Do you realize you're killin' a lot of marine life by throwin' this toxic stuff into the water?"
"Aw, who cares about some dumb fish? This stuff's dangerous to humans don't you know."
"So by dumpin' it overboard, you're protectin' mankind."
"Buddy, have you got a lot to learn. Number one, people swim at these beaches, and this toxic waste can hurt them, and badly! Number two, it's illegal to throw trash into the water like this!"
"But this beach is deserted!"
"Then where did I come from, smart guy?! Me and my friends were swimmin' under there!"
"Oh who cares? No one cared when we were dumping down at that other beach."
Mike was seeing red by this point. Dark clouds loomed over the sky. Mike's face turned beet red, and thunder began to roar. Lightning flashed, and ran poured down. The winds began to pick up, and the seas began to grow rough.
"Uh oh," Sabrina said.
"Looks like Mike's lost his temper again!" Jerry shouted.
"We'd better get to shore," Fluey said.
The three of them began to swim as fast as they could, but they were no match for Mike's storm. A lightning bolt smashed through the boat, and the entire crew jumped overboard into the sea, which was getting rougher by the minute. Luckily all the toxic waste was cleaned up.
"Mike, why'd you have to go lose your temper?" Ariel asked.
"Oops," Mike shrugged. "Sorry, I got carried away."
"You sure did!" Sabrina shouted, over the wind.
Mike smiled sheepishly. He didn't just cause a thunderstorm. He had gotten so mad, that he caused a hurricane! And there was no stopping it, either. When Mike got carried away, he really got carried away! The waves crashed against everybody in the water. Visibility was practically zero. Lightning flashed all over the place. The group tried to swim to shore, but they were having a hard time doing so. Pieces of driftwood floated by. Mike grabbed onto a piece of it.
"Hang on!" he shouted, grabbing Sabrina's hand. "I'm gonna jet propel this thing back to shore!"
"What about Jerry and Fluey?" Sabrina asked.
"I'll get them after I get to shore!"
Mike snapped his fingers, and he and Sabrina shot to shore. They both ended up skidding into the sand. Peter, Valerie, Hilda, and Zelda were waiting for them.
"What's going on?" Valerie asked.
"Mike, you didn't lose your temper again, did you?" Zelda asked.
"He really lost it, Aunt Zelda!" Sabrina shouted.
"Just hold on a minute," Mike said. "I need total concentration!"
Mike put his hands to his temples, and detected Jerry and Fluey. He sent a piece of drift board at them. The two of them grabbed onto it.
"Mike's going to get us back to the shore this way," Jerry said. "Hang on."
"Right," Fluey said.
Mike snapped his fingers, and the board jet propelled towards the shoreline. However, Fluey hadn't held on tight enough, and let go of the board. Marina swam up to him and grabbed him by the hand.
"I'll help you back!" she shouted. "Come on! We've got to hurry, or else we'll be in the eye of the storm!"
Fluey and Marina started swimming, but they were no match for the waves. A bolt of lightning flew down from the sky, and actually struck the water right in front of them. It missed them by half an inch.
"Now I know why you don't want to be in the water during a thunderstorm!" Fluey shouted.
"Never mind that!" Marina yelled. "Keep swimming!"
Fluey and Marina kept going, although it wasn't easy. The wind was tossing the waves around like crazy, and in all directions. But they just kept swimming. A high wave crashed then, sending a piece of driftwood hurling forward. It smacked Fluey right in the back of the head. WHACK! The force managed to knock him out.
"Oh no!" Marina shouted, as Fluey started to sink beneath the waves. She dove under the water and wrapped her arm around his chest. She swam under the water, and pulled him to shore. Or tried to. The waves were trying to keep her away from the shore.
"I can't see them anymore!" Valerie yelled.
"Mike, you really have to learn to control your temper!" Jerry yelled.
"I know, I know!" Mike shouted. "Don't yell at me, you guys, or I might get madder, and then this storm's just gonna get worse!"
The others backed off. Mike calmed down a little, and as he did, so did the storm. Pretty soon the clouds cleared, and the seas weren't so rough. Once everything cleared up, everyone on shore began searching for Fluey and Marina.
"Boy, that storm you conjured really did it, Mike," Jerry said. "This beach is a mess!"
"Yeah, that had to be a category four hurricane!" Sabrina shouted.
"Hurricane Mike," Valerie commented. "I just hope we find the kids and soon."
"Hey, there they are!" Jerry shouted.
The group ran down the beach, where Fluey and Marina had been washed up. Both of them were laying on the sand, nearly unconscious. The waves were crashing around them. Both regained their senses and began coughing, and spitting water and sand out of their mouths.
"Yuck," Fluey said. "Ecchh. Hurricane Mike strikes again. You okay, Marina?"
"Yes, I'm fine," Marina said. "Are you?"
"Yeah, I'm okay. Except that I think I swallowed salt water. Ick!"
"Fluey! Marina!" Valerie called as she and Peter ran over as fast as they could.
"Are you two all right?" Peter asked.
"You had us scared to death!" Valerie exclaimed.
"We're fine," Fluey said. "A little groggy maybe, but other than that, we're okay."
"Sorry about the hurricane, Shotgun," Mike said. "But those guys dumpin' the barrels just pushed me too far."
"Well at least you managed to get this beach cleaned up," Valerie said. "Before the damages affected anyone."
"The only damages were Mike's windstorm," Peter said. The others nodded and looked around. Some of the trees along the beach had been uprooted, and trash cans had been knocked over, but that was nothing compared to the chemical waste being dumped into the ocean.
"Well, come on, Aunties," Mike said. "You two Sabrina. I'll need a little magic help restorin' this beach."
"Yeah, that battery of yours," Sabrina said. "I don't get how it keeps dying out."
"I'm hypoglycemic, Sab," Mike said, snapping his fingers. "Sick twenty-four seven. A witch's powers don't work when he or she is sick."
Sabrina wasn't sure she understood, but she nodded like she did anyway. At any rate, while the others helped clean up Mike's hurricane mess, Fluey and Marina hung out on the shore line.
"So where does the colony normally live?" he asked.
"In a secret spot," Marina said. "I can't tell you where it is, or else I might get into huge trouble."
"Understandable. Don't worry, I won't try to worm it out of you."
"Unfortunately, the colony has to head back now."
"Well, maybe we'll get lucky and they'll open up this beach to the public. I don't think the other beach will be open to the public for a very long time."
"I hope you're right. Well, I'll see you next summer, Fluey."
Marina leaned over, and kissed Fluey's cheek. Then she dove into the water and swam away. Fluey waited until she was completely out of sight. Then he stood up and walked towards Peter.
"She left?" he asked.
"Gone back with the colony," Fluey replied. "But that's okay. Since the other beach is closed, maybe the officials will open up this one, and I'll see her next summer."
"There's a good chance of that," Reggie replied, coming over. Kenny was following him.
"The other beach is closed for good," Kenny said. "There is just too much pollution. Oh, by the way, Mike, the Coast Guard wants you and your aunts to construct a barrier around that particular ocean so the pollution doesn't spread all over the Pacific and into the Atlantic."
"I think that can be arranged," Zelda said
"I also showed my editor some shots of Jerry I took," Kenny said, handing Mike a set of photos. "At first, he thought it was some kind of weird sunburn, but then I told him they were chemical burns. He called the mayor, and they're trying to enforce polluting laws."
"Yeah stronger punishments," Reggie replied.
"Well, I guess all's well that ends well," Mike said. "I'm gonna call Sarah."
"What for?" Reggie asked.
"To let her know about the whole pollution solution we've come up with," Mike said. "And then she'll probably want to throw some huge party to celebrate it."
The others laughed. Sarah was known to throw extravagant parties, and this time, it would be no exception, especially if she was going do a theme party, which was pretty much a guarantee. She told everyone to be at her summer house by six thirty, bring something recyclable, and wear beach gear. Once Mike and Phyllis arrived, they got the theme right away.
"I call it Surfin' USA Recycles," Sarah said.
"Sarah, you are amazing," Phyllis said.
"Well, it was all thanks to Mike," Sarah replied. "I think with him around, no polluter's gonna stand a chance!"
"I'll drink to that!" Mike shouted, holding up his can of Coke.