Isaac’s feet hit the soft beach sand and continued to slide forward. He ended up lying on his back, looking up at the clear blue sky. He stood up and brushed the sand off and looked around.
The trees on this island were brightly colored. They looked more like giant flowers than trees. They surrounded a central plateau that didn’t have any trees at all. The island looked like a giant hat with a wreath of flowers around the crown.
Isaac unrolled the map. There was a new red x on the island with the elephant picture. He was where he thought he was, but where were the elephants?
Perhaps they were in the jungle of flowers. In the picture, they had wings. Maybe they were some sort of bee-elephants. Did they have a stinger? How big would the stinger be on a bee-elephant?
It looked like there weren’t any on the plateau. That would be a safe place to look over the island and see if there were any signs of a party. Of course, if there really were giant stinging elephants, he really hoped the party would be somewhere else.
Isaac’s mom always said that bees were scared of people, and that they wouldn’t sting you if you left them alone. Isaac really hoped this was true for possible stinging bee-elephants. If they heard him coming, maybe they’d fly in the other direction and he wouldn’t have to see any bee-elephants up close.
But what kind of noise should he make? There weren’t any sticks or rocks nearby to clap together. Would clapping his hands be loud enough? He could sing, but didn’t bees hum? Maybe they liked singing.
Shouting would be louder than clapping. What should he shout? He heard there were bees that liked spelling and geography. Did bees like math? He’d never heard of math bees. Math it was.
He took a step forward. Fortunately, on this island, walking forward meant moving forward. That would make things much easier. He began to yell his times tables.
At first, this was fairly easy. Zeros and ones and twos. Threes got a little tricky, especially as this was about the same time that he entered the cool twilight of the flower jungle.
“Three times three is…um, six.” Isaac peer closely at a suspicious shadow. “Three times um, six? I think that’s where I was…” He pushed through a screen of tall ferns. “Is… seven?”
His voice had gotten softer as he struggled through the undergrowth and dappled shadows. Looking up, the light filtered through glowing, bright colored petals. It was like looking up through a bunch of balloons, or as though someone had started to build a stained glass ceiling, but left patches where blue sky could peek through.
Isaac realized he’d stopped doing his times tables. He had no idea of where he’d left off. He’d have to start over from the beginning.
But he was too late. He could hear humming getting rapidly louder. What if the bee-elephant was so surprised to see him, it decided to sting first and ask questions later? Where could he hide?
He grabbed one of the giant ferns and pulled on it as high as he could reach. It bent over, and he walked his hands, one over the other, until he was bending it around himself, hands clutched around the end of the frond to keep it close.
Looking up through the fern’s fingers, Isaac watched a bee-elephant dive down to hover over one of the flowers high above the ground. It landed on the petals and flicked its elephant tail. Then it lowered its trunk to sip nectar from the center of the flower.
It didn’t have a stinger! How strong were these flowers that an elephant could land on them? Or were these very lightweight elephants?
The bee-elephant came closer, and landed on a flower above Isaac’s fern. He could see its shadow through the petals of the flower above. Finally it flew away, still humming. Suddenly Isaac recognized the tune. Apparently, bee-elephants hummed “Ring Around the Rosies.”