Skittles stepped to the side and looked out into the darkness with a torch. She delivered the news. “There’s a whirlpool half-a-mile away. I can tell by the swirling of the water up ahead. Well, never mind about that, as the whirlpool seems quite weak. Paddling should get us out, as long as nobody falls in.”
Everett relaxed. Half-a-mile was a long way to go. On the other hand, sooner or later they would encounter it.
But wait. It seemed much closer. He said, “It looks too close to be only half-a-mile away. Maybe it’s quarter-a-mile away. It doesn’t look weak at all.”
“You dare mistrust the judgment of your superior?” Skittles hissed.
Everett was thinking about the way Gumdrop had dived into the water. It troubled him that Gumdrop was gone, but he was probably fine. Only pro swimmers really dived. Plus, Everett had seen small ripples of water that seemed to indicate that Gumdrop was swimming stealthily nearby.
An hour later, Everett looked at the river ahead. Was it his imagination, or was there a funnel in the water?
Whenever Everett took a bath, he liked to unplug the bathtub drain and watch the water being consumed by the pipe works. The vortex ahead looked a bit like water going down the drain. He took out his camera and snapped a couple of pictures. Everett knew that it was a bad time to take pictures, but they were evidence of how his life was risked just to find a jewel. At least he could show his mom these pictures. Either she would believe him, or more likely, think that he finally had learned how to photoshop a picture.
Jellybean looked at the whirlpool. He started paddling as fast as he could. Everett took over one of the Spinach boy’s paddles. Soon Chocolate and Skittles had joined the fight against the swirling water. Chocolate came to share the paddle with Everett, but ended up slowing the rowing considerably. Skittles sat in front of Jellybean, trying to row to a song she started singing. It sounded like an anthem. Everett joined in rowing to the beat. Even with the synchronized rowing, the effort was futile. Skittles’ calculation didn’t seem to have considered the fact that their only oars were sticks.
Paddling against a whirlpool drained Everett’s energy. He was so tired that swimming was not an option anymore.
Skittles let go of the paddle, nearly throwing it out, and started walking around. Skittles was using a rope to tie everyone together, including the boat and its contents. Everett was upset. They were about to drown in a whirlpool, and Skittles was playing tie-the-questers-up! Everett struggled not to get joined to the pile of questers stuck to the boat by the rope, but he was tied up, too.
The boat was suddenly dragged into a vicious circle. The whirlpool was like a lion, and the boat was its unfortunate prey. The boat tipped over like a soda can, dumping everybody out. One by one, every quester was tossed around like they were inside a huge laundry machine. The only thing that kept them together was the rope. The boat, however, was thrown by the swirling water closer to the gap, dragging everybody tied to it into the gaping hole there. What had Skittles been thinking?
“You call this weak?” Chocolate yelled at Skittles. “I certainly don’t!”
Everett thought that he knew what would happen. Once, out of curiosity, he had researched to see what happens to people in a whirlpool. The most common answer was “you die”. He had guessed that it was caused by the lack of air and food, and the low temperature of the water, though he, for one, did not want to find out.
Everett felt a tug on the line. Slowly, he was hauled out of the whirlpool. He saw Gumdrop pulling Jellybean out, therefore pulling everyone else out, too. Smart! Pull one out, pull all out. The rope trick was a good one. It probably lessened the effort of getting everybody out. Gumdrop was doing a freestyle kick in the amount of time it took for a hummingbird to beat its wings! Maybe even faster!