The next afternoon, all the Bushel decided they wanted to spend the day at the beach. Mandarin still couldn’t think of what is masterpiece should be, so he agreed to go along, thinking he might find inspiration by the sea.
In pairs, they jumped from the edge of the fruit grove and dove, letting themselves circle and loop until getting close to the breaking waves. Then they opened their wings and caught the rising air, feeling the mist on their wings. The weather was bright and sunny, though the sun was close to Willowyk mountain, there was still hours of sunlight left to enjoy.
There not being much of a sand below the cliff, they flew over to the west edge of the bay where a nice wide beach and much calmer waters resided. Having recently discovered that they could flap their wings in the water to swim, they were a funny sight! Colorful little bats all flopping about in the water, splashing each other and squeaking with joy. Batnana and Strawberry Bat built a sand castle together. After about an hour, DragonFruit showed up with Chip. Chip couldn’t swim. He sunk like a stone, which one expects from a Gargoyle. So he played in the surf while they took turns riding on his back. He had grown a lot since they last saw him weeks before, but he still looked more like a rolly-polly pugoyle rather than a big scary gargoyle.
After a few hours, the Bushel retreated to a clump of low leaning palm trees beside some big rocks for a break from the sun and surf.
“I think I’ll build us a beach bonfire we can enjoy with the sunset!” Kiwi said.
“Great idea!” Watermelon agreed. “There’s a nice pile of driftwood, and it’s almost twilight.”
“It will be a nice way to start the night,” Blueberry pointed out. Chip wagged his curly tail and gave a “chuff”.
They gathered the wood and Kiwi stacked it just right so enough air could feed the fire. Then she stuffed some of the fallen palm fronds into it and used a piece of sea glass she had collected earlier to focus just enough of the almost setting sun’s rays to light it. The Bushel let up a cheer as the dry driftwood caught, and soon they had a nice fire. They perched in one of the bent over palm trees and watched as the sun began to slide behind the foot of the mountain. They could just make out the silhouette of Willowyk Castle.
“I wonder how many different trees are on the island,” Grape said as he looked at all the different shapes that the trees painted against the pale pink sky.
Suddenly and without warning, a loud voice came booming from above “Coming in for a landing!” it yelled just as a huge figure zipped into one of the taller palms! THUNK! There was a scattering of palm fronds and the tree swayed. A moment later, something big and orange plunked down onto bent low tree trunk that the Bushel was clinging to. The first thing they saw emerge from the pile of orange was a fluffy tail with a white tip! Then, the creature righted itself. He was much bigger than them, probably 3 times as tall and he stretched out giant black wings that were twice as wide as he was tall! He had a white mark on his muzzle that looked like a moustache, and on one of his black and white ears sat a top hat. He scampered down to the base of the trunk to retrieve a bag he had dropped before he fell. It looked like one of those old black leather doctor’s bags with a handle at the top.
The Bushel, rather in shock from the speed at which this had all happened, looked on silently, merely blinking every few seconds.
“You must excuse my rather unseemly arrival,” This weird stranger said as he dragged his bag back up the trunk toward them. “I was on a rather strong breeze, you see, but my wings are awful tired and I saw your fire and thought how lovely it would be to have some company and a bit of a break-” He noticed how they were all staring at him, Lemon hiding behind Lime with an alarmed look on his face. “So Sorry,!” he went on. “I didn’t mean any harm! I should introduce myself,” Doffing his hat he gave a little bow. “My name is Vulpes, and I’m a Flying FoxBat”