Isaac unfolded his map and told the tall, thin man about his visit with the queen of everything. The man nodded and made notes on his own battered copy of the map. When Isaac finished, the man put his pencil and map away with a smile.
The smile transformed his face, and suddenly he looked much younger. “Thank you. This may change everything. Maybe we can finally go home!”
“I hope so,” Isaac said. “It’s nice here, but I don’t think I’d like to stay forever.”
“There’s no place like home, right?” the man said. “We’ll drop you off at the next island. I can see that you’ve not checked it yet. We’re almost there.”
Isaac followed his gaze. What had seemed to be a wispy cloud on the horizon was now more clearly a mound of dark fog closer to the water. “That’s an island?” It didn’t look at all inviting.
“You’ll see soon enough. No sense putting it off, right?”
“Right.” Isaac suddenly wasn’t so sure about this. What if he became the king of the dung beetles? Maybe he wasn’t in so much of a hurry to find the party. “I could come with you and make sure you find the right place,” he offered.
“You gave us great directions,” the man said. “We’ll find it. Here, Johnny!” The man waved at nothing. “Take the boy to shore.”
Isaac watched as invisible crewmen lowered a rowboat to the water followed by a rope ladder. He climbed down the ladder and sat in the boat. The ladder slid up the side of the ship, and the little rowboat seemed to row itself to shore.
The closer they got, the thicker the fog grew. By the time they reached shore, he could only see the ship waiting in the harbor when a breeze blew softly and parted the fog for a moment..
Feeling quite nervous now, he stepped onto the sand. He turned and looked at the empty seat between the moving oars. “Thank you,” he said. And the boat rowed back to the ship.
A booming, crackling sound echoed across the water, followed by a splash. “I think that was the cannon. Did he fire it to say goodbye?” Isaac asked himself. The next time the breeze parted the fog, the ship was gone.
Isaac turned back towards the island. He could see the outline of some large rocks just ahead. Everything else was lost in the dense fog. Cautiously, Isaac started walking towards the rocks.
“Ahoy! Ahoy there!” yelled a voice from the fog. “Have you got my package?”
“It’s my package! Check the name on the label,” said another voice. “It should say Professor Grey.”
“But I’m Professor Gray,” said the first voice.
“No you’re not, I am,” said the second.
And then, next to the rocks, Isaac could see the outline of two figures. It looked a bit like a goat and a bear. But not quite. “I don’t have any packages,” Isaac said.
“Of course you do. Why else would you be here?”
“He may want to sign up as a test subject. Were you planning on doing any medical trials?”
“Not until I fix the moon gate. Every time I power it up, I see water instead of the moon.”
“Well, that would be handy if you were a fish. Now stop trying to steal my packages.”
A breeze blew the fog away for a moment, and the bear and goat outlines turned into people dressed in white lab coats. The tall, bearlike man huffed and left. The old, bearded man turned and smiled at Isaac. And then the fog was back.
“Would you like to see my moon gate?” the old man asked.
Isaac nodded, and then remembered the man couldn’t see him. “Sure.”
“Then follow me.”
The outline of the man disappeared into the fog. “Wait! I can’t see you,” Isaac said.
“Then follow my voice. I’ll sing you a song I wrote.”
This sounded familiar. “Is it a long song?” Isaac asked.
“Yes. Make sure to clap when I get to the end.”
Isaac followed the voice.