Day 28 – 2044 words and a total of 49 311 words! I’m expecting to reach my goal tomorrow – a day early!

As the keel of the Spy grounded on the beach of Tri-Formed Island, the five stickmen aboard leaped over the railing, not even bothering to moor her.

Leaping over small plants and rocks whilst avoiding trees and boulders at the same time, they sprinted down the overgrown path that ran through Fruitful Forest as fast as they could, their packs bumping against their backs.

Emerging out of the undergrowth at the base of the mountain, they hurried through the secret entrance, very much out of breath. Making their way up the stone stairs, they stumbled up into the room above and almost collapsed to the floor with exhaustion.

Staggering up, they ran down the tunnel, Stikky explaining his plan as they went.

“We need to call a meeting,” he gasped. “Every single person you pass, tell them to come to the dining hall, okay?”

The others nodded, and they turned at the T-junction, Stif and Stib going right, and Stikky, Leddy, and Steik going left.

Presently Stikky found himself hurrying along by himself—the others must have turned down a different tunnel.

Suddenly he saw the flash of a stickman passing by. He stopped and turned around, yelling, “We’re calling a meeting in the Dining Hall! Urgent!”

Spinning around as the stickman nodded, he continued down the tunnel, then added as an afterthought, “And tell anyone you meet to go there too please!”

Time seemed to pass uneventfully, and he found himself repeating the same message over and over to everyone he met,  “To the Dining Hall! There’s a Meeting! Urgent!”

Suddenly strong hands grabbed him and yanked him through the doors into the kitchen, sitting him down on a chair where he gasped for breath.

“Well, ‘allo m’lad!”

Looking up in surprise, Stikky saw McRhoddy standing before him, a big grin on his face. “And ‘ow’d your trip go?” the old stickman continued.

Stikky jumped to his feet, pushing the chair away. “I’m sorry, there’s no time for that.” he ordered, trying to get his breath back. “Destick’s planning something terrible, and I’m calling a meeting in the Dining Hall to discuss what we can do about it. Everyone!” he yelled, lifting his voice as silence fell in the busy kitchen. “I want you all to stop what you’re doing for the moment and go straight to the Dining Hall, okay?”

McRhoddy stared at him in shock. “But ya can’t just stop cookin’!” he exclaimed, turning in surprise as the other stickmen in the kitchen filed out by the doors. “Stuff’ll get burnt!”

Stikky laid a hand on his shoulder. “That’s okay, you can stay here and tend to the food. I’ll just fill you in on everything later.”

Turning, he hurried through the doors, almost colliding with someone walking down the passage.

“We’re having a meeting-” he began, but was interrupted by a loud snort.

“Thanks, but I’m pretty sure I already know!” Leddy exclaimed, folding his arms across his chest as he gave Stikky a reproving look.

“Come on,” he continued, winking at his friend as he began to walk down the passage, Stikky beside him. “That’s everyone I think; everyone’s waiting for you in the hall. Come on!”

Hurrying through the mass of stickmen as they emerged into the Dining Hall, Stikky climbed up onto a table and looked out over the crowd.

“Everyone!” he called loudly, stopping all noises in the room as all eyes turned to him.

“As most of you know,” he continued. “Me, Leddy, Steik, and the twins have just gotten back from another voyage to Destick’s Island. What did we discover there, you ask?” he paused momentarily, and took a deep breath as he tried to think of the best way to say it.

“Destick,” he continued. “Is building a bomb.”

A gasp went up from the crowd, and everyone began to talk at once until Stikky held up his hands for silence.

“Listen!” he yelled, restoring silence once again. “While we were in Destick’s Lair, we found out as much as we could about the Destbomb—yes, it’s a very original name, but whatever, Destick isn’t a very good namer. It’s far more powerful than the one that blew up Mount Stick—Leddy, um… you had the map, didn’t you? Where’d you put it?”

As Leddy searched his pockets hurriedly for the map with the explosion radius on it, Stikky waited around impatiently.

Taking it from his younger friend when he finally found it a few minutes later, Stikky unrolled the map and showed it to the crowd. “This is the explosion radius,” he explained, pointing with his finger. “If Destick dropped his Destbomb on the castle—which he’s planning to do, anyway—it would destroy everything in a radius of a few hundred kilometers, meaning it would even reach Stickland!”

A second gasp went up from the crowd, this one larger than the first.

“But,” someone asked. “That means Destick will blow himself up too, doesn’t it? Why would he do that?”

Stikky nodded. “I’ve been thinking about that myself,” he continued. “There are several reasons. First of all, he might think the explosion won’t reach him in his bunker, because by the time the explosion reaches his island, it’ll be a lot weaker. Second, he might just not have thought about that, but I really doubt it. And thirdly, he might just be so bent on killing us all—by the way, we still don’t know why he wants to get rid of us—that he really doesn’t care!”

Leddy piped up. “Well, there you have it, guys,” he concluded. “Now, are there any ideas?”

“Why can’t we just stay in these tunnels?” someone asked. “If Destick can survive underground, why can’t we?”

“Well,” Stikky answered. “We’re going to get the initial explosion of the bomb; it’ll be much more powerful here than when it reaches Destick. It will probably blow the mountain apart, meaning we can’t just hide inside it.”

Steik put up his hand. “I’m assuming there’s not enough time to sail away from here?” he asked.

Stikky shook his head. “I’m afraid not. Destick is planning to drop it on the 15th, which is a little more than two weeks away. It’d take us more than a month to get out of the blast radius, and if we were caught in the open ocean, we’d be worse off.”

Stif suddenly stood up straight as the beginning of an idea started to form in his mind. He held a hurried conversation with Stib, who nodded vigorously.

Everyone turned to them as Stif put up his hand. “You remember those old scrolls we found…” he explained, and Stikky nodded. “About how the stickmen who lived here before us were attacked, and flew away in a rocket?”

Stikky’s eyes widened. “Are you saying we should build a rocket and go to space?” he exclaimed, staring at the twins as they nodded vigorously.

“But that’s impossible!” someone exclaimed.

Stikky scratched his head. “Or is it…” he began slowly, a grin beginning to spread across his face.

Leddy nodded in excitement. “We couldn’t build it from scratch though,” he mused. “We’d need at least two things: some form of instructions on how to build it, and stuff to build it out of!”

Stikky leaped off the table and headed for the tunnel. “Well, let’s focus on the instructions first!” he called over his shoulder, stopping in the cave entrance. “And, if I’m right, I know exactly where to find them!”

“Where?” someone called.

“If you’ve been looking around,” Stikky explained. “You’ll have noticed that the stickmen before us built heaps and heaps of things, each with their own set of blueprints. So, if they did that for those small things, surely they’d have done them for the rocket! Now come on, we’re going to need to search the whole castle from top to bottom!”

A thorough search ensued, and the castle, the tunnels beneath it, and every single room known was turned out from top to bottom.

Stikky and the others tackled the observatory, which was known to be filled with blueprints and an assortment of other things.

Shuffling through a cupboard full of random designs, Stikky pulled them out one by one, looked at them carefully, then flung them over his shoulder into a box marked ‘CHECKED’.

“Solar-powered toaster, instant butter-melter, automatic page-turner…” Stikky muttered, reading the names scribbled at the top of the blueprints aloud as he chucked them one by one into the crate. “Man, these guys must have lived in luxury!” he exclaimed, turning to Leddy who was shuffling through the cupboard beside him. “If we just had enough time to build all this stuff, everything would be so much easier!”

Leddy nodded in agreement. “This is kinda what we used to do back on Stickland, wasn’t it?” he replied, grabbing a diagram labeled ‘lemonade mixer’ and throwing it into the box between them. “Before Mount Stick…”

His voice faded into silence as memories of their lives on Stickland flooded back into their minds. It seemed so long ago, and yet they knew it had hardly been two months.

Stikky stood up, shaking the memories from his head as he stood the last set of blueprints up in the box and looked around.

The rest of the cupboards surrounding the perimeter of the room were now bare; Stif, and Stib had done them. The bookshelves, draws, boxes, and crates around them were also empty.

Stikky sighed in frustration. “Well, it looks like it’s not here!” he exclaimed, sighing in hopelessness.

Steik came climbing up the stairs into the observatory. “Well, that’s the whole castle searched, Stikky,” he began. “And no one’s found it, so I sure hope you guys-”

He stopped mid-sentence as he saw the look on their faces.

“Well,” Stikky decided, sighing. “I suppose that’s it then. There’s absolutely no way we can build our own rocket without any blueprints or instructions on how to do it.”

Stib stared at him. “So we’re just going to sit here until we get blown up…” he said miserably, sagging his shoulders.

Stif rolled his eyes. “Stop being so pessimistic!” he replied, winking as he gave his brother a playful shove.

Stumbling backwards, Stib lost his balance and fell against the wall, creating a curious click as his head made contact with the stone bricks.

Glaring at his brother as he clambered to his feet and ignored Stif’s apologetic look, he was about to return the push when another click followed.

The others stepped back in shock as a small section of the wall slid out of its place and swung on a hinge, revealing a small, shelf-like hole.

Peering forward, Stikky reached into the hole as he tried to see what was sitting against the back of the wall. His eyes widened as he reached in and pulled something out.

Blueprints.

Quickly unrolling the scroll of blue material, he laid it out on a desk and looked at it, eyes wide as the others gathered around him.

“This is it,” Leddy said simply, after studying the documents for a moment.

Stikky grabbed a pencil and began to circle a few important things.

“Well, we’ve got the blueprints,” he decided when he had finished, rolling them up and handing them to Steik. “Next thing is, what will we build it out of?”

Leddy shrugged. “How about some food now?” he asked. “My stomach’s not about to take no for an answer,” he added pointedly.

Stikky nodded, but didn’t move. “I just want to establish what we’re going to make it out of,” he replied, glancing over the blueprints once more.

“I wonder if there laser cannon would still be in the desert…” Steik mused, polishing his glasses with the piece of cloth he kept handy. “If it wasn’t too badly damaged, we might be able to use some of the parts of it!”

The others stared at him. “We could do even better than that,” Leddy said slowly. “I got a good look at the rocket when it was in the sky, and it looked roughly that same shape as what’s shown on the blueprints!”

Stif and Stib winked at each other. “Well, let’s go and find where it landed!” they exclaimed, leaping to their feet. “After lunch.”