After about ten minutes, a bear in a boat came and got her. This was a good thing, because she’d been thinking about panicking–it was a very small rock–and the cat’s unflappability only made it worse.
The bear didn’t say anything. Bears generally don’t, but they also don’t usually carry oars or row small boats named the S. S. Bilberry, so she didn’t know if the bear couldn’t talk or if it just didn’t have anything it felt like saying. The cat jumped to the stern, and she got in, because the alternative was to sit on the rock and wait for the bus to come back, and she wasn’t feeling confident.
Besides, maybe there was a Starbucks on one of these islands. There was a Starbucks everywhere else on earth, there was probably one on the surface of the moon, and while she might have gone Beyond The Fields We Know, it didn’t seem likely she’d gone beyond the reach of Starbucks Corporate Headquarters.
The first thing they came to, however, wasn’t a Starbucks or even a Caribou Coffee. It wasn’t even an island. It was a number of small pilings, and on each one was a creature about the size of a beaver, with mottled spots and an incredibly loud voice.
“Look!” shouted one. “It’s ORANGE!”
All the creatures began laughing like hyenas, despite the fact that there was nothing orange anywhere in sight.
“It’s a STAIRCASE!” said the second one, and all of them cracked up again.
“No, it’s a CIGAR STORE INDIAN!” screamed a third one, and they all laughed so hard that one of them nearly fell off the piling and had to crawl back up, giggling.
She had no idea what to make of this. If she had gone mad, her madness clearly lacked any internal logic whatsoever. Perhaps a chai latte was not strong enough to clear this up–possibly pastries would be required, or maybe anti-psychotics.
The bear had a serene expression and was poling them past the pilings. The very tip of the cat’s tail was twitching.
“IAMBIC P-P-PENTAMETER!” The creature was laughing so hard that it took several tries for it to get through “pentameter” but the hysterics that greeted this sally were clearly worth it.
The little boat drifted past. The mist rolled in around them, muffling the yelling.
“That was very strange,” she said to the bear. The bear nodded. Its breath smell like basil and (faintly) rotten fish.
Behind them, very distantly, she heard a cry of “FEWMETS!” The cat sighed.
The S.S. Bilberry sailed on.
(And again, I have no idea. But the original is for sale, and prints are available.)