A New Dimension: Chapter Twenty Three

        “Yes, I’m talking to you,” shouted Sally. She was at the main gangway to the cargo transport, yelling across the gap at a security guard, who clearly didn’t speak any English.
        “Waht you say?!” He shouted back.
        “Well this is going nowhere quick,” she said to no one in particular, then stepped over the chain and walked out onto the gangplank. Speechless, and unable to lie, Will followed silently behind her, and up to the security guard. He was a short, quiet-looking man wearing a black uniform with a LITHUANIAN CARGO logo emblazoned on the front with his name “Jonas” embroidered just beneath. He did not seem like he appreciated that Sally took it upon herself to climb over the chain across the gang-plank.
        “I said, Jonas,” she said the name as she read it on his lapel, “we’d like a job on your ship.”
        “You,” said the security guard, pointing his finger at her for emphasis. “Vant job?”
        Sally smiled her most ingratiating smile. “Yes,” she said, “We’d like a job, in exchange for passage to Lithuania.”
        The man seemed confused and it was clear he didn’t quite catch all that. “You vant job, go Lithuania?”
        “Yes,” said Sally firmly. Will nodded vigorously.
        The man tipped his head back and laughed. “You vant go Lithuania, go get plane. Fly, fly!” He made little flapping motions with his arm. “Like birdie – fly, fly!”
        Sally took a deep breath. “A simple “no” would have been sufficient,” she said to Will. Sally didn’t really think the man would give them a job, they were just stalling so Crimson Hen could get into position, distracting the security guard in the process. Crimson had climbed along the thick ropes that were mooring the cargo vessel to the port. It was an easy task, and soon she was standing directly behind the security guard.
        “Well,” said Sally to the man when he had finally stopped laughing at them, “you’ll just have to meet our ‘little friend’ here. Maybe she can convince you. The man pulled a confused look again like he didn’t quite understand.
        “Leetle friend?” He repeated absently.
        Sally pointed down at Crimson Hen.
        The man slowly turned his head around, then looked down. After a moment he laughed again. “Leetle Friend!” he said, pointing and laughing.
        But a moment later, the laugh got caught in his throat as he watched in shocked horror as Crimson Hen made an enormous leap up to his eye level, shouting in plain Lithuanian: “Prasua pajudeti!” and laying down some kung-fu moves that were so powerful and rapid that Sally and Will couldn’t follow what she was doing. A moment later the security guard was on the deck, unconscious, a flurry of Crimson colored feathers falling gently around him.
        “Wow, Crimson,” was all Will could say.
        “You go, girl!” Sally said as she hastily picked up fallen feathers and tossed them overboard. “That was incredible!”
        Crimson Hen smoothed out ruffled feathers and walked around the downed security guard. “He will probably be out for quite a little while. If we can avoid security cameras,” she pointed up to a camera that luckily was pointed just a little to their side, “we ought to be able to find a hiding place on board.”
        “And no one will believe his story of a fighting, speaking chicken who took him down,” Sally said. “He might not believe it himself when he wakes up.”
        “Where did you learn Lithuanian, Crimson?” asked Will as they hurried down the gangway and down a flight of stairs to the lower decks.
        “I picked up a little when I was in Lithuania for our archaeological dig,” Crimson answered quietly. They crept down the stairwell and down another hallway.
        “We should try and get into the cargo area, and get ourselves safely tucked away into the cargo containers,” Sally said.
        Crimson Hen and Will nodded their silent assent.
        “It’d be nice if we could read the signs,” said Will. There were signs everywhere, but they were all in Lithuanian, and interestingly also in French and Spanish, but not English.
        “I wish I’d paid attention in French class,” said Sally.
        “I know a little French, and also a little Spanish,” said Crimson Hen, “here, I think this sign is pointing this way to the cargo area.”
        A moment later they were outside a door to the main lower cargo area. Will peaked through the little glass window in the door. “There’s at least three of them in there,” he said.
        “How are we going to get in there and get hidden with those men in there?” asked Sally, but Crimson Hen was clearly already thinking it through.
        “If we use the same strategy as before, I could probably take them all, but . . .”
        Will cut her off, “You could take three security guards down by yourself?”
        “Well, I did say ‘probably’,” she replied a little testily for having been cut off midsentance. “One might get lucky and get away before I could take him down, but . . .”
        “But their story would match old Jonas’ story and they would do a shipwide search for a chicken who can do kung-fu, as crazy as it sounds,” finished Sally.
        “Right,” said Crimson Hen. “We’ll need a different plan.”
        Just then a voice came over the loudspeaker, fuzzy and warm, but utterly unintelligible. “Wha wha wha whoon wha whoon whoon wha whoon whoon wha,” was all that Sally and Will heard, but Crimson caught a few words here and there.
        “It said something about ‘dinner’ I think,” she said.
        “Oh crap!” Will was the first to understand the danger they were suddenly in. “If those guys have just been called to dinner, they’ll be coming this way!”
        The trio looked desperately around the corridor they were in. The sound of jovial Lithuanian voices could be heard on the other side of the door to the cargo area. There was only one side door, and Will ran to it desperately pulling on the handle. It opened in to a tiny janitorial closet.
        “Quick,” he whisper-shouted, “in here!”
        The two humans and a chicken shoved themselves into the dark and cramped janitorial closet and closed the door just as the three men from the cargo area came into the hallway laughing and chattering.
        “Can you understand what they’re saying?” whispered Sally, “I thought I heard one of them say Jonas’ name.
        “Yes, a little,” replied Crimson Hen, “I think he was saying something about Jonas sleeping on the job.” She chuckled to herself. “I bet that poor fellow isn’t going to have great marks at his next performance review.”
        The sounds of the men retreated and soon it was silent again. Slowly, carefully, they opened the little closet door and spilled out into the hallway. Carefully, they crept into the cargo area. Crimson pointed to all the security cameras in the area, and they wove through the space to avoid showing up on any of the screens. Soon, they were lost in a sea of shipping containers.
        “What do we do now?” asked Will as they took a break in the middle of the cargo containers.
        “Well, it’s going to be a several day journey . . .,” she stopped and looked to be making a mental calculation. “Assume 20 knots, around 4000 miles . . . something like eight or nine days.”
        Sally and Will stared at her. Then looked at each other. Will shrugged, and Sally nodded. That seemed to be just something Crimson Hen would know.
        “So what are we going to do for eight days?” Will asked.
        “Well,” said Crimson, “we’ll have to find a cargo container with some food in it.”
        They started checking cargo containers. It took both Sally and Will to force open the difficult handle mechanisms. Many of the containers were old and rusty, and some had locks on them. After looking at containers full of bicycles, and small electronics, they came to one that was packed to the gills with boxes of cereal.
        “Bingo!” said Will.
        “Great,” said Sally. “Eight days aboard a ship with nothing more to eat than cereal.”
        “Well,” said Crimson Hen, with equal distaste, “at least we won’t starve.

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