Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Six: Zack’s Back (Continued)
Previously: Zack returned home only to discover that his sister Gina had gone “into” the Map looking for him!
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5:27? he thought. That was only a few minutes ago.
Still, how would he ever find her in a world the size of Ismara? It was like receiving a note that said, “Meet me in Asia!”
Then the idea hit him: I could ask the giant bird for help! But the minute he thought of the creature, he remembered the way it had felt to be in the grip of its gargantuan beak, to know he was about to be bitten in half, or at the very least have his leg sheared off. “No, no, no, no, no, I can’t, God, please!” His still-raw throat rattled with pain as he spoke. The more he thought about it, the more certain he was that if he went back he would die. Why should it help me? It hates humans, it said so. It swore to bite off one of my “talons” just before I fell out of my…swimsuit.
He looked down. He was stark raving naked!
He ran out the door of Gina’s room, streaked down the hall, and shot into his bedroom, slamming the door shut behind him. Sanctuary! In Zackland he could forget everything, just lie on his bed and bask in the quiet of… It was anything but quiet. The Objects were clamoring like never before to get out. The lock Dad had put on the chest after Aunt Aloysia’s last visit was holding, but it was rattling savagely.
Zack pulled on a pair of jeans and a t-shirt, grabbed his sketch book, and climbed out the window onto the roof, his thinking place, the place where all of his best Zachary Zinn stories had been born. He began to sketch while his body soaked up the soft summer sun, but every line, every curve turned against him: wings, claws, and beaks were all he could draw!
“I can’t! He’ll bite my leg off!”
He waited. For what? For God to say, “Oh, OK, Zack, go ahead and abandon your sister?”
“It’s not like in comic books. It’s too real!” Images began to flicker in his head. He saw the dark-cloaked figures once again. Only this time they were cutting Gina open and removing her heart! Then as quickly as the vision began, it vanished. What had just happened? Was it guilt that had placed the pictures in his mind? Or was it something more?
“Wait! Who says I have to go where the bird is? I could go someplace else.” But even if he did manage to land someplace other than the giant bird’s nest, he’d be searching for a Gina-needle in an Ismara haystack. I’ll never find her! Still, she’d gone somewhere. If only there was a way to…
He had an idea. He climbed back in through the window, ran to his dresser, and grabbed his winter gloves, then threw down his sketch book, raced over to his closet, and pulled on his sneakers. He found his big red snow jacket and put that on too, then ran out into the hallway, but turned and hollered back into his room, “Cool it!” And for a moment the Objects actually obeyed.
Zack closed his bedroom door and headed down the hall. As he was about to enter Gina’s room, Mom shouted up the stairs, “Dad just pulled into the driveway!”
“OK.” I may never get to say this again. “Hey, Mom.”
“I love you.”
He ran into Gina’s bedroom and closed the door behind him. Then he stood in the middle of the Map, took a deep breath, and said, “Take me wherever my sister is.”
It hadn’t worked. His heart began to pound. Despite the summer heat, his hands grew clammy. “ZZ stared at the mountain of death,” he recited from Zachary Zinn comics, Issue #4. “Lava poured down everywhere. Shluuuuuugggg! Foooooooom! ZZ would stop at nothing, not even Hell itself, to rescue El Furioso!”
He had no choice. He’d have to face the bird, and either convince it to help him…or die trying. He stared out at the summer-gilded Kleemuk Hills. Will I ever see them again? Will I ever see anything again? “Please,” he prayed, “it would be really, really great if I didn’t die.” Then he hiked up his courage and said, “I wish I could go back.”
And he was gone.
As the spinning Map settled to the ground, his mother called from downstairs, her voice suffused with momjoy,
“I love you too, honey!”
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Thoughts: Have you ever fought with God or your conscience over a choice you were terrified to make? For what it’s worth (and it’s worth a lot), God gets that–he’s been there (Matthew 26:39).
To read The Wishing Map 24, click here!