Isaac pushed his way through the flower jungle, hiding under ferns whenever the bee-elephants were close. They might not have stingers, but they were as big as regular elephants. If they landed on him, it would hurt.
He finally reached the plateau at the center of the island and could see a path winding up the side. He walked around until he found the start of the path. He scampered up the path, eager to see the view from the top.
As he walked up the path, his steps slowed as he could look down into the jungle. There were flowers and bee-elephants, and there was something that looked like a buffalo with dragonfly wings, but there was no party. It was the wrong island.
The gentle humming of the bee-elephants grew louder the higher he climbed. It seemed strange. Wasn’t he getting further away? It made more sense once he reached the top of the plateau.
The plateau was less plateau-like at the top. Instead, it looked more like an extinct volcano. The bee-elephants had built a nest inside, and were darting in and out of the nest in small groups.
This was probably the worst place ever for a party, but Isaac paused to look down into the volcano just in case. Nope. It was all bee-elephants and oddly-shaped honeycomb. Time to go.
He looked back down at the beach. There was a boat loading passengers from a dock on the far side of the island. How had he missed that? He needed to hurry back down to the beach before they left.
But, which way would he need to turn once he got back down the the jungle floor? He looked down the side of the volcano. He couldn’t see the start of the path. He took another step forward.
And he was on the beach, at the end of the line waiting to board the boat. He looked back at the jungle and the volcano. What just happened? Faintly, he heard the bee-elephants hum.
“We all fall down, I guess?” Isaac said.
“Isn’t that just the meaning of life,” said the giant beetle in line ahead of him. It set down its suitcase and adjusted its sunglasses.
“That’s not the meaning of life,” a small white mouse snapped. “I’ve made the meaning of life my life’s work. You have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“What is the meaning of life?” Isaac asked.
“I’ll be releasing a research paper on the subject in fifty years. I won’t have anyone stealing my work ahead of time.” The mouse turned with a huff.
“Don’t mind him. If the meaning of his life is researching the meaning of everyone else’s, I think he’s missed the point,” the beetle said.
Isaac shuffled forward as the line finally started to move. It was a long line. “Will there be room for everyone on the boat?”
The beetle laughed. “They wouldn’t have sold more tickets than they have seats for, right?”
The mouse snorted. “You don’t know anything,” it muttered.
Uh oh. There were tickets? “I don’t have a ticket,” Isaac said. “Where do I buy one?”
“You should have bought one weeks ago,” the beetle said.
“Years ago,” some further up the line yelled.
“I was born with a ticket for this boat ride,” said someone else.
“What will I do?” Isaac began to panic. “Does someone have an extra ticket? Can I shovel coal or mop the deck to pay for my trip?”
The mouse sighed. “I didn’t bring a bag. You can ride along as my luggage. Just stop yelling. It’s making it impossible for me to think.”
“Okay. Thank you,” Isaac whispered.
The line was moving faster now. Had all these people been on the island? What were they doing there? What if he’d just missed the party, and it was all over? He would be stuck wandering all over all the islands on his map looking for a party that was already over, like the poor sailors on that ghost ship he’d heard about once.
Isaac shivered. “Hey, were you here for a party?” he whispered.
“Hush,” the mouse said. “Luggage doesn’t talk. It’s time to board the ship. You can ask your question later.”