Two Must Pull Each Arm

I jumped out of the water first. I scampered up the hill of ice as he clawed his way to the crest of the hill where he could stand. Just as he got a foothold, he turned and spotted Leon and Dalton coming up from the water.

“Come on, come on!” I exclaimed, “Get up the hill, hurry!” Leon didn’t need to be told twice, as he was already well in the ascent. Dalton paused to stare at me with a look of horror in his eyes. There was no time to waste as Greg and Carlton bumped up behind him, and pushed him forward. Poor Dalton, it was his first real swim.

I stood at the little ledge of the hill pointing the others toward where Leon stood catching his breath. Watch the water! Keep count, you fool! There’s Edward. Watch the water! Harry, Allan, Tyrone. Watch the water! Oh no, where is Bill? “Frank, Wendell, you’ll never make it; that side is too steep! Come up this side! Where is Bill? Stephen, Max. Watch the water! Ulysses, John. Watch the water! Bill, oh good, there’s Bill.”

Bill hurried up beside me as Roger and Quincy filed past us toward the others. “I have my group; it looked like it had us for a second, but we are alright.” He told me. I nodded, “That’s better than we usually do. Keep an eye on the others, and keep an eye on Dalton; make sure he doesn’t panic.”

Suddenly, Tyrone shouted from the top of the hill. His fin pointed in the direction of the water. Bill and I turned our heads toward the water, and spotted a large black line in the distance. As it neared, the water tailed off on both sides, and the line grew inch by inch, second by second. I ushered Bill up the hill with Xavier, and motioned the brothers Nathan and Oliver away from the sleek ledge Frank tried to scale earlier. Pascal came up from the water, but saw me waving at the brothers; he called the determined pair in his unique and vulgar way, and both immediately hastened towards us. I turned once again at the black fin that rose from the water we swam across in fear and desperation not too long ago. Where I stood wasn’t so safe either, so I waddled up the hill just behind the other three, when Bill screamed from the top. The look in his eyes spelled trouble, and the others around him knew it as well.

“Kevin! Where’s Kevin?!” Bill exclaimed. The count, ye gods, I forgot the count! I forgot to wait for Kevin. I turned and found an injured Kevin paddling in the water ahead of the oncoming black line; his arm was sore from the diving training session we had back home, and in all the panic he injured it again. I could hear him calling me for help as he choked on the water splashing into his throat, but I couldn’t move. The black line, as big as it was, began sinking into the water as it approached our little glacier. The black line. That black line. That small black line. That small black tip.

Kevin was near the edge of the ice flow, when I heard a commotion coming from Bill and the others behind me. As I turned my head, Dalton bumped into me as he slid down to Kevin!

“Dalton, no, it’s too late!” I said.

“Let me go! We can save him!” Dalton argued, pushing away as best he could. The black tip was getting closer to Kevin now, but Kevin couldn’t climb up with his injured arm.

“Dalton, no!”

“Kevin!” Dalton put up a fight, and broke loose! Quickly, he slid the rest of the way, and grabbed Kevin’s good arm. At that moment, the black tip behind Kevin disappeared, and the sea slowly became calm. We all stood in silence as the splashing waters receded, and all we could hear was Dalton struggling and Kevin gasping for breath as Dalton pulled his friend out of the water. I could hear Kevin’s words to Dalton.

“Thank you.” He said. Dalton nodded, and they looked at me as they walked up the hill.

I wanted to say something, but I forgot what it was.

Suddenly, the black tip arose from the water revealing the massive whale underneath! Its mouth opened up from out of the water casting a shadow over Dalton, Kevin, and the knob of ice beneath their feet. I heard their screams mere seconds before the mouth of the whale closed down on them and shot pools of water all over me and that half of the ice flow. The force of the whale crashing on the ice knocked me to the ground, and I rolled over as the water splashed on me like a waterfall.

I couldn’t hear Kevin. I couldn’t hear Dalton. I couldn’t even hear the whale.

There was genuine silence for a minute, before my ears could hear Pascal screaming from the top of the hill. Meanwhile, Xavier was on his stomach, Nathan and Oliver were standing in shock, and Wendell walked several feet away from the group to where some new snow drifted the night before and vomited. Everyone else was crying, but not Bill. No, Bill just tilted his head at me, and shook his head. Still numb to the shock, I stood up, and turned towards the gaping hole in the side of the glacier a few meters away…

“What do you always tell me, Bill? ‘Two penguins must grab each arm’. Yes, that’s it. Two must pull each arm.”

adelie_penguins_on_iceberg