A New Dimension: Chapter Twenty

         “Wahoo!”  Crimson Hen stuck her head out the window of Sally’s car and let the wind ruffle through her neck feathers.  “We made it and we’re free!”
         Will roughly pulled her back into the car saying, “Gees Crimson, do you want the military to find us?”
         “Of course not, Will,” Crimson said, “I’m just happy to have escaped the jaws of those green-shirts.”
         “Will both of you please pipe down?”  Sally seemed agitated.  “I’m trying to think about what we should do next.”
         “Right,” Crimson said, her tone more serious now.  “Sally’s right.  What do we do next?  And more specifically, how do we get to Lithuania?”
         “Well,” said Will, “None of us has a passport, so we’re not going to be getting on a plane.”
         “And,” said Sally, “Crimson Hen is a talking chicken, so that makes the plane idea even harder.”
         “Hen, my dear,” corrected Crimson.
         “Ah, yes, hen.  Got it,” replied Sally.
         “You know,” said Will, looking at his phone for a minute, “we’re not that far outside of Baltimore, and there’s a major shipping port there – hey!  What are you doing?!”
        Crimson Hen was unceremoniously throwing Will’s phone out the window.  “Do you want the military to find us?”
         “That was a low blow, Crimson.”  Will was pouty, but clearly saw the logic.
        “We can use my phone if we need a phone,” said Sally practically.  “The military doesn’t know I’m helping you . . . yet.”
         There was silence for a minute before Will spoke again.  He seemed to have recovered quickly from the loss of his phone.  “Well, what about the port in Baltimore?”
         “Yeah,” said Sally.  “Baltimore would be a good choice if we wanted to get on a tanker or something, though,” she paused, “I don’t know anything about doing something like that.”
         “Well, luckily for for you two, I do.  Make it so.”  Crimson perched herself in the back seat and tucked her beak under a wing.  “I’m going to grab a nap.”  She quickly fell asleep.
         “I don’t know how she does that,” said Will.  “She doesn’t seem perturbed by our circumstances at all.”
         “Yeah,” said Sally, “she’s a tough old bird, that’s for sure.”
         Will was thoughtful. “She has a confidence I super admire and wish I had more of.”
         “Yeah,” said Sally.  “I wonder where that comes from.”
         Again, they were quiet a moment.  “There,” Will pointed at an exit of the freeway, “take that exit toward Baltimore.”  
         The roadside billboards and gas stations and mile markers flew past them as they drove in silence.  “Did you know she knows kung-fu?”
         “What?”  Sally exclaimed.
         “Yup, she threatened me with her kung-fu when we first met.  She can coil that little chicken body into a deadly steel trap.”  Will made little kung-fu-like movements with his hands.
         “That’s wild.  She knows kung-fu.  Huh.  I wonder when she’s had to use it.”  Sally asked.
         “Pie-throwing, evil-doers.”  Will replied matter-of-factly.
         “What?” asked Sally.
         “That’s what she said.”  Will shrugged.  “Pie-throwing, evil doers.  She asked me if I was one.  Looked like I was about to have my head chopped off too.”
         “Huh,” replied Sally.  Again the car descended into silence.
         “Would you mind if I put on the radio?” asked Will.  He reached forward and switched the knob.  A tinny voice came through the car’s terrible speakers.
        “We’re your number one station for all the hits that were never hits, all the oldies and some of the moldies, classic rock hits that never get air time on any other station . . .”
        “Gah,” said Will and he reached for the tuning knob.
         “Please leave it,” said Sally, “I love this station.”
         “Are . . . are you sure?”  Will pulled a gross-out face.
         “Yes,” Sally said defiantly.  “Leave it.”
         “Ok, ok, I guess I can put up with a few moldy non-hits,” Will said.
        The voice continued, “But first this news.  We are reporting live from the scene of a chicken-tastrophy which somehow involves local military experts from the Naval base here in Beautiful Bethesda, Maryland.  Joining us now is, erm, I think he’s a Colonel . . .
        ”        “You bet I’m a colonel, and I have a message for anyone listening.”
        “Yes, can you tell us what happened here, Colonel, and why the military is involved in the chaos involving a local poultry farm . . .”
         “Poultry farm?  I don’t care about any old poultry farm!  There’s only one poultry I care about, and that’s a little brown chicken, who is on the loose.  It escaped from our top secre – er, I mean, it’s military property, and we need it back.”
         “That’s fascinating colonel, tell us more about why the military is so keen to find this chicken.  Residents are saying there was a whole battalion of soldiers here earlier, and even a military helicopter overhead.”
         “Well, I can’t tell you all the details, but I do make an appeal to the public – if you see a young man traveling with a brown chicken, please report your sighting immediately.”

         Will leaned over and hastily switched the radio off.  “Can you believe that?!”  He fumed a little in his seat.
        “Don’t think too hard about that colonel guy, or whatever, they’re all in the rear-view mirror now,” Sally said.
         “Yeah, I don’t know, it seems like they have a lot of resources.  It could get ugly.  We’d better get out of the country as quickly as possible,” Will said, “and Crimson needs to keep a low profile, a chicken outside of a poultry farm, out in the world will be an easy target.”
         “I can take care of myself thank you very much,” Crimson said, waking up.  “Why, exactly, do you think I should keep a low profile?”
        Will told her about the broadcast.
         “Hmph, Clowns, all of them,” Crimson said.
         “I wish they were,” said Sally, “they’d be easier to get rid of.”
         “Ha!”  Crimson gave a wicked sneer.  “You haven’t met the clowns I’ve met.”
         Will nodded.  Then pointed.  “There – there’s a sign for the port, turn here.”
         Sally asked, “When we get to the port, what will we do?”
         Crimson replied, “We’ll ditch the car, and go in on foot.  With luck, we’ll find a cargo ship headed to Lithuania, slip on, and disappear into the cargo hold.”
         “Wow,” said Sally, “it sounds like you’ve done this before.”
         “Well, not this specifically,” said Crimson Hen, “but similar things.”
         “We just need to keep you safe and hidden,” said Will, “we don’t want the military getting a whiff of you being here at the port.”
         “Hmph,” was all Crimson said to that.
         “There!” said Will, “that sign said Port Long Term Parking.  Head in there.”
         A few minutes later, the trio was out of the car and on foot.  “A bowling ball bag?!” cried Crimson, “oh, the indignity.”
         “I didn’t know you bowled,” Will said to Sally.
         She shrugged. “Come on Crimson, in you go.”  Sally opened the bag and Crimson Hen jumped in the bag.  
         “Don’t zip the bag up all the way!” squawked  Crimson Hen as Will picked the bag up and began to close it.  “I need to be able to get out of here in quick minute if necessary.”
         “Ok, ok!” Will said.  “No need to get short with me.”
         “Well, how would you like it if you were being crammed into a bag?”  Crimson spat.
         “Hey, you two, cut it out.”  Sally pointed to a sign in the distance.  “I think we need to go there.”  The sign read – Port of Baltimore arrival and departure. They walked along the road leading to the port as quickly, but casually, as possible.  
          “What do we do if someone asks us where we’re going?” asked Will.  “Remember, I can’t lie.”
         “You can’t lie?” asked Sally.  Before he could explain, a golf cart rolled up alongside the little group.
        “Say,” said a security officer in the golf cart, “where are you two headed?  You don’t look like you’re port workers.”
         “Uh,” said Sally.
         “Er,” said Will.
         Crimson whisper shouted at Sally, who was holding her, “You’re visiting your uncle who just came in on a ship.”
         “Uh,” said Sally, “we’re visiting my uncle, he just came into port.”
         “Huh,” said the security officer.  “Well, ok . . .”  Just then the security officer’s partner nudged him in the back with a night stick.  “Oh.  Uh, right,” the guard waved the other officer off. “What ship did your uncle come in on?”
        “Uh, well . . .”  said Will.
         “The one from Lithuania,” said Sally with confidence, “do you happen to know where that is?”  She crossed her fingers for luck behind her back.  Will stared at her, but said nothing.
         “Oh, uh, let me see.”  He fumbled with a walkie talkie while his partner sighed and sat back in his seat with his arms crossed.“Two four niner, this is Johnny and the Appleseed, come in two four niner . . . over.”  
         The officer’s partner shook his head and rubbed a temple.  
         The radio crackled and sputtered, then a voice came on.“Johnny and the Appleseed, roger that – we read you.  Over.”
         “Roger that two four niner, do we have a ship in port from, uh . . .”  The officer looked back at Sally.
         “Lithuania,” she said again with confidence.
         “Uh,” said the security officer into the radio, “from Lithuania.  Over.”
         There were a few seconds of staticy silence.“Roger that Johnny, slip 325, outbound this evening. Over.”
        “Roger that two four niner, and thanks!  Over and out.”
         “So,” said the guard.  “Slip three two five.”
         “Gosh, thanks!” said Sally.
         “Wait, didn’t you say your uncle just came into port?”  He looked suspiciously at the two.  His partner sat up straighter in his seat.
         “Uh,” said Sally.  “No.  You must have misunderstood.  We only just came into town to see him.  We’re from out of town.”
         “Oh.  I see,” said the guard.  “Well, be careful out there, and make sure you don’t get in operations’ way.  Our best to your uncle.” The security guard turned the golf cart around and slowly sped away.  
         When they were out of ear-shot, Will said.  “Did you hear that?”
         “Yeah, I just found out where we need to go,” said Sally.  
         “Yeah, that was awesome,” Will said, “but I mean, did you hear what that other guard was saying as they drove off?  He told his partner he didn’t believe us.  He’s going to call us in!”
         “I didn’t hear that,” Sally said, “but we should hurry anyhow.
         ”The trio walked as quickly as they could down the sidewalk and into the maze of the port.  After some searching, they found directions to slip 325.  Sure enough, there was a cargo tanker flying what appeared to be the Lithuanian flag.  The three ducked behind a shipping container to discuss what to do.
         “We could go with the uncle story and see if we could get on board.”  Will said.
         “I’m not sure that would work,” said Sally, “they’d ask us for sure who my uncle was, and we’d be caught out.”
         “You’re right,” chimed in Crimson Hen.  “I think it’s time for another distraction.”
         “But no explosions,” said Sally.
         “No,” said Crimson, “that would delay the departure of this ship.  It’s our luck that they’re leaving tonight.  We don’t want to do anything to delay their departure.”
         “I think I have an idea,” said Will, and he unzipped the bowling bag.  “It’s time for you to come out of there Crimson.”

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