The Long Flight Home—CHAPTER TWELVE


Dooley and Talli flew over the Santa Maria on their way back to the spot where the maelstrom spat them out. They looked down and saw the heated confrontation continue on the ship’s deck.nina, pinta

Aboard the Santa Maria, Columbus stood alone against the growing group of angry sailors. Dooley and Talli heard a chant: “Turn back! Turn back!”

As they moved past the ship, Dooley looked over and said to Talli, “They don’t turn back.”

“I don’t know,” answered Talli glancing behind them at the drama on the ship where Columbus and the sailors confronted each other with lots of hand gestures and waving arms. “They seem pretty determined.”

“Doesn’t matter. History tells us those three ships crossed the Atlantic and discovered the New World of North and South America. It’s one of the most famous ocean voyages of all time,” Dooley informed him.

“Drat,” Talli said suddenly.

“What’s wrong?” asked Dooley.

“I just realized we’re more than five centuries away and still in the wrong ocean.”

“Let’s fix that. Let’s find that maelstrom,” Dooley suggested enthusiastically to a pitiful groan reaction from Talli.


“How long has it been, Mom?” Haley asked Andie.

They were standing with Conley on a rock looking out toward the Pacific surrounding their tiny Galápagos island.

“Yeah, we really miss dad,” Conley complained.

“And Uncle Talli.” Haley added.

“Yeah, him, too.” Conley agreed.

A tear slid down Andie’s beak as the three huddled together.

“Are you cryin’, Mom?” Conley asked, concerned.

Andie tried to cover her tears. “Me? Of course not. Boobies don’t cry.” She insisted. “Your dad and your uncle should be flying in any time now.”

Haley turned and looked off in the distance. Suddenly she saw something that made her very excited. “Look, look!”

The three boobies saw a bird approaching over the ocean. They quickly realized it wasn’t a boobie in the air.

“Oh, it’s only Mooch,” said Haley, terribly disappointed.

Mooch hovered in front of Andie, Conley, and Haley.

“Any word from Dooley?” Mooch asked.

Andie shook her head. “Not yet,” she admitted.

Mooch shook his head and frowned compassionately. “I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news,” he said. “But I heard a shark attacked a boobie about twenty miles north of here.”

Haley and Conley gasped in shock.

Andie turned angrily to Mooch. “That’s enough from you. Go frighten someone else’s kids, Mooch.”

Embarrassed and properly chastised, Mooch turns to fly off. “It’s Russell,” he repeated as he quickly gained altitude.

Andie put a wing around each young boobie. “That silly frigatebird doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” she reassured Conley and Haley.

“But, what if a shark got dad? Conley asked with fear in his eyes.

“Or Uncle Talli?” Haley added.

“Yeah, him too,” agreed Conley.

Andie responded in a reassuring voice. “I don’t know why your dad and your uncle haven’t made it home yet, but I know it had nothing to do with a shark.”

Conley looked up at Andie. “Are you sure?” he asked hopefully.

Andie nodded. “Absolutely,” she responded without hesitation.

All three members of the boobie family turned and took a last long look at the sky before making their way off the rock.


Dooley and Talli glided through the air over the empty Atlantic Ocean. They saw plenty of tasty fish, but no sign of the maelstrom.

“I don’t get it,” grumbled Dooley. “We could see the three ships as soon as we got thrown outta the maelstrom. Where’d it go?”

“It’s not here, Dooley. We lost it.” Talli acknowledged quietly.

“But it’s got to be here,” insisted Dooley, as he started a new circle over the ocean.


Several miles away the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria started slowly making a wide arc, changing course 180 degrees.

Aboard the Santa Maria, Columbus appeared distraught. He stood at the rail watching the open ocean. The first mate stood off to one side.

“Ferdinand will have my head,” Columbus stated with conviction. “So close to have failed. Unacceptable.

“What could we do, Captain?” the first mate countered. “We were losing the crew.”

“I could almost smell land,” insisted Columbus.


Dooley and Talli soared high above the ocean, searching for the maelstrom. Dooley’s frustration created a dark mood and a single focus. He already started feeling sorry for himself when Talli suddenly started laughing.

Annoyed, Dooley looked over at him, “What’s so funny?

Talli managed to regain his composure. “I was just thinking, we’re hundreds of years and about three thousand miles away. I wonder if Mooch is still circling, waiting to steal our breakfast.”

Despite his preoccupation with their predicament, Dooley found the image worthy of a chuckle. “Now that’s a funny picture,” he admitted.

He went back to scanning the surface of the ocean. After a couple of minutes he finally allowed himself to verbalize his disappointment. “I have no idea where that maelstrom could’ve gone,” he confessed.

“Me either,” Talli agreed, somewhat distractedly, his attention focused off in the distance. “Do you have any idea where they’re going?” he asked.

Dooley turned to Talli with an annoyed expression. “I’m sorry,” he asked, upset that his brother was changing the subject. “What was the question?”

Talli gestured off in the distance. “The three ships,” he explained. “It looks like they’re going the wrong way.”

Dooley could barely see the sails of the Niña, Pinta, and Santa Maria several miles away, but there was no question in which direction they sailed, east, back toward Europe.

“What the heck?” Dooley exclaimed. “They don’t turn back.”

“Looks like they already did,” Talli observed.

“No!” insisted Dooley. “We’ve got to get them headed west again or the history of the world will be rewritten.”

Talli viewed Dooley skeptically. “Do I have to remind you, we don’t go to school? Why should we care about the history books? And,” he added for emphasis, “We’re boobies. How do you propose we turn three big wooden ships around? I don’t know about you, but I can’t flap my wings that hard.”

Dooley was quiet for a moment, thinking. Just when Talli was sure his brother would agree that it was foolish to even try, Dooley smiled with an idea to preserve history. “In this case, being boobies is all we’ll need. C’mon, follow me,” he said as he banked hard into a turn and started toward the ships.

“This I’ve gotta see,” said Talli as he started to follow his brother.


Aboard the Santa Maria, Columbus stood at the bow, brooding. “So close,” he said, shaking his head, forlorn. “I’m ruined.”

Near the stern, one of the most vocal seamen looked up and saw Dooley land on the yardarm of the mizzen-mast. He stopped talking with another seaman and watched, mouth agape, as Talli joined Dooley on the perch.

“Do you see that!” the seaman exclaimed loudly. “Seabirds!”

The crew looked up at Dooley and Talli in awe.

“And of a kind I’ve never seen before. They’re not gulls or terns or cormorants or any species that even comes close,” observed the first mate.

Overhearing the commotion, Columbus moved quickly across the deck and looked up at the yardarm. “Blue feet?” he observed immediately. He knew that seabirds could only mean one thing as he watched the boobies launch into the air and fly due east.

Columbus walked confidently over to the men standing on deck. “Seabirds can only mean one thing, men, land,” he announced.

Excited, the first mate bellowed in a loud voice, “Aye. Land like we’ve never seen before!”

As the crewmen watched the boobies disappear in the east, Columbus regained command. “Turn about!” he shouted. “Full sail. Signal the Niña and the Pinta!”

“No turning back, now!” shouted the first mate as the sailors clamored up the rigging.

“We’ll make landfall before the morrow’s sunset,” Columbus stated enthusiastically as he walked to the rail and gazed off to the east. “Those two strange seabirds just saved our voyage,” he muttered quietly. He saluted in their direction.


Once they were out of sight of the three ships, Dooley turned and headed back to where he thought the maelstrom spit them out.

“Don’t tell me we’re going back to the maelstrom,” Talli said.

“We’re going back to the maelstrom,” Dooley stated with determination.

“Would it matter if I told you I officially hate that thing? “asked Talli.

Dooley glanced over at his brother. “I’m not fond of it either,” he admitted. “But we’ve got to get to our time. To our ocean. To our family.”

“What if it’s not possible?” Talli asked soberly.

“It’s gotta be possible,” Dooley urged, determined. “We’ve gotta try.”


Come back Tuesday and see where the boobies land.

© 2013, 2018 Sawyer Creative, LLC

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