Denny the penguin and friends have an adventure on the ice.
| Denny was a happy little penguin who worked for the colony daycare. His friends, Tee the orca, and Country the walrus worked with him. Many times, their job was to take kids from one daycare center to another. Things were pretty quiet at work most of the time, although sometimes something exciting would happen. Today just happened to be one of those times. Denny and Country were taking one of the more unruly kids to another high-supervision daycare when a safety patrol stopped them.
“The ice floe is cracked up about a quarter of a mile ahead. You know how the ice breaks up unexpectedly in the spring. You’re going to have to take another route.” Called out the patrol seal. “Also, the whales have been playing tag too close to the ice pack again, so that’s making things more unstable, and one got himself hurt, so we’re closing off this area to get him medical attention.”
Denny nodded and waved to the seal, then he and Country took a side passage. They became a little concerned because this was open country and there had been whisperings of man in the area. It would not do to lose track of their passenger in this area, his mother would make their lives very difficult. The terrain was also harder to traverse, since this route was much less traveled than the Oceanside passage. Denny had trouble with his small webbed feet, sliding to the side every few feet.
The kid, Joey the seal, who had gotten himself caught taking herring snacks away from the littler kids, was starting to try to figure out how to take advantage of this situation when they all heard a loud “CRACK”. They stopped and looked around quickly, frightened by the noise. They couldn’t see anything near them, so thought it must not have been Man. They knew that Man could do things to the ice and may not be friendly to them, so they were always cautious. Then, suddenly, the ice beneath them lurched and they fell to the side. There was another crack and the ice moved again more violently this time. They must have moved out onto a jutting piece of ice that was near the water’s edge and was being hit by whales. Joey looked around wildly. He was just a kid and had never felt the ice move like this before.
“What should we do now, Country?” Denny asked his partner. “I don’t think it’s going to be easy to get back on track, now, do you?
“No, I think we should sit tight for a bit, though.” Country replied with a frown. “Have to find out what’s happened before we can decide what to do.”
“I want Mama!” cried Joey.
“Awww, poor little Joey, you’re not so tough now, are ya, kid?” Taunted Country.
“Maybe he’ll learn something, today. Don’t pick on him too bad.” Said Denny.
The ice moved again, but this time it kept moving. It was rocking gently and felt like it was moving toward the sea. They looked back toward land and saw a gap starting to form about 200 yards inland. The ice floe was breaking off and moving into the ocean.
“Oh no, we’re separating! We’ll have to make a run for it!” Denny cried out.
Country, who was calmer, said, “No, if we run, we may cause another crack and fall into it where it may close back in and then we’ll be trapped.”
“What do we do?” Squeaked Joey, who was by now very frightened and was sitting down rocking back and forth, crying. “We’re going to die!” He wailed.
“Be quiet! We’re not going to die. Someone will miss us and send out a search party if nothing else.” Country growled, glowering at Joey, whose sobs stopped and became soft whimpers, instead. “Anyway, we can swim back to shore once the floe’s moved far enough away so we won’t get trapped.” Country finished.
“I don’t think so.” Denny said as he looked toward the edge of the ice. “I see sharks.”
A couple of hours pass while they rest and the floe drifts slowly away from the larger ice field. The flow has moved only about 100 yards out and the sharks are still circling. Denny thinks that they look hungry.
“Well isn’t that a bite in the tail.” Grumbled Country. They’re always hanging around when you need them the least.’
“At least we’re on a big piece of ice, so they can’t slide up and eat us.” Denny pointed out.
“I’m hungry." Joey, who had stopped crying, whined at the mention of eating, even though he might be on the menu.
“You’re welcome to jump off the ice and hunt out some fish if you want.” Country smirked at him.
Joey gave him a dirty look and mumbled, “I’m going to tell Mama you tried to feed me to sharks, then see if you think you’re funny.” And he turned away and curled into a ball as if to go to sleep.
“You shouldn’t tease him like that, Country.” Denny said quietly. “He might be dumb enough to take you up on it, then you’d have to go in and save him. Of course, you don’t have much to worry about from sharks. I can’t imagine you taste very good, and besides, you’d probably give them indigestion.” He snickered.
“Very funny. Little flightless birds ought not be too free about making fun of animals who can throw them overboard if they get the notion, wise guy.” Country jibed back. They had always gotten along well and had been friends for several years. They almost never missed an opportunity to tease one another. “Anyway, what are we going to do? Got any ideas?”
“I’m hoping Tee remembers when we were supposed to be back and wonders what happened to us, and comes looking. He has no fear of sharks, and may even eat one or two of them while he’s at it." Denny said.
“Sometimes killer whales have their uses, too, even though they’re just big dumb piles of blubber…” mused Country with a bemused expression on his face Denny thought was a bit strange.
Denny slid himself nearer the edge and peered into the water, carefully looking for sharks nearby. Joey had gotten up and was moving out toward the edge, too. Suddenly, Denny backpedaled and scrabbled back from the edge, wings flapping. Joey screamed and fainted.
“I heard that.” Tee grinned as he jumped out of the water and flicked his huge tail. “You ought to be careful what you say about people Country, speaking of big piles of dumb blubber…And you should be more careful, too, there were sharks out there a minute ago, Denny.”
Country was laughing so hard he couldn’t speak. He had seen Tee’s fin chasing the sharks while Denny was inching toward the water and thought it was a marvelous joke.
When he finally got himself together, Denny exclaimed, “Boy, are we glad to see you! Did you have any trouble finding us? It sure took you long enough.”
“Not that long, really. How many chunks of ice are out there with a mouthy penguin and walrus on them?" Tee laughed. “Now, are you ready to go back? Or since you really don’t seem very grateful for the speed at which I arrived, maybe you’d rather I let you fend for yourselves, hmm?”
“No, sorry, Tee, thank you. We’ll go quietly.” Denny said and smiled sheepishly at his friend.
"How about the sleeping prince?" Country asked.
"Well, I guess he can ride back on my back if you two keep him up there.” Tee said.
So they slid off into the water with the big whale and started back to shore. The cold water woke Joey and he kicked and screeched until Denny and Country told him that if he made the whale mad, it would eat him. Tee nodded in agreement, and Joey’s eyes widened in fear. They also told him that if he kept being a bully, they’d come get him and let Tee eat him anyway. He stayed quiet as a mouse the rest of the way back.
When they arrived back at shore, Tee waved goodbye to his friends and they went on to the high-supervision daycare with Joey who was much subdued by now. They took him inside, and as they were starting to leave, Joey called out to them. “Hey, thanks for not letting the whale eat me. Maybe guys ought not act mean just because they’re bigger. He seemed like a pretty good guy for a whale.”
“Well, remember that in the future, when maybe you’ll need some help. If you treat people with respect, they will give it back to you. Maybe someday in the future, someone will remember you were good to them and might be able to help you when you need it.” Denny said to him with a satisfied nod.
Denny and Country waved to Joey who was looking thoughtful, then they walked out the door and Country turned to Denny “So, have we had enough fun for one day, Buddy?” He asked. “I sure could use a fish sandwich or three. I told Tee we’d come down to the ice grotto after we got done here.”
“Sounds good to me. It’s not been too bad a day. At least we got done what we set out to do. Maybe tomorrow we won’t see any sharks.” Denny smiled as they walked on down the path.