Mercury faded as the contestants filled the screen. Bill took the phone and put it between his head and shoulder. He dug into his pocket, pulled out a slip of paper and began dialing.
“It’s ringing!” He announced, and then said hello, but it was clear he couldn’t understand the answer. He kept repeating, Ludgar, American and English, each time a little bit louder. Then he broke out in a smile and a real conversation began. Bill joked as if Ludgar were in the next room. Jane clapped her hands and did a little jig.
Bill handed the phone to his wife, “You’re better at instructions.” She grabbed a random sheet out of her bag along with a pen and wrote furiously, tears of relief brimming above her lower lid. After a warm farewell, she hung up. Bill immediately grabbed her up into a bear hug.
Zeus said, “I wonder what Hera did.”
“I can’t imagine,” Isis replied, “but whatever it was, it was exactly the right thing. We’re on our way to a wedding.”
“Should I go ask her,” Mercury wanted to know and Zeus quickly assured him that it wasn’t necessary.
Demeter and Hera watched the contestants wander through the terminal, following the signs to the train station, confidence exuding from every step they took. The confidence disappeared when the clerk didn’t recognize the German town they named.
Bill asked, “Didn’t Ludgar tell you what train to take?”
“He gave me a list of cities we’d have to go through, but I couldn’t get them all written down and I can’t read most of them.” She stared at the list as if it could help. Then she smiled. “Dusseldorf! He said we’d have to go through Dusseldorf.”
That made the ticket clerk smile, too. He stated punching buttons and asked for their credit card. As he handed the tickets through the window he said, “But you’ll have to hurry. The train leaves soon and the next one is tomorrow.”
The contestants looked at one another in surprise and then back at the ticket clerk. He pointed toward an escalator and said, “Down there. You’ve got five minutes.”
Grabbing luggage willy nilly, the pair ran off to the escalator and hopped from one moving step to the other. Quickly checking a sign above the train tracks, they bolted off towards their train. They dragged their luggage onto the train and the door closed behind them. Seconds later the train started moving.
Hera said, “Let’s go get some lunch. I want to try that new place at the mall.” Demeter grabbed up her handbag and the goddesses headed out the door.
A couple of hours later, they returned and their shopping bags proved they’d done more than eat lunch. Hera tossed her purchasses on the sofa and headed to the powder room. Demeter disappeared into the bedroom. When Demeter returned, Hera already had the scrying bowl tuned to Jagged Journeys.
Hera turned down the volume and said, “You’re not going to believe this! There’s been a train wreck!”
“Are the contestants hurt?”
“It wasn’t their train, but now their train is sitting idle on the tracks.”
“Did Eris do this?”
“No, and it wasn’t Bacchus either. I promised him his grape crops would be ruined by rain for the next ten years if he so much as thought about pranking these contestants again.”
“Do you really think Zeus would do that?”
“Probably not, but Bacchus doesn’t know. Besides, their points are way up over one thousand. They lost a few in Amsterdam, but not many.”
“Should we try to help them?”
“Short of carrying them on our backs I’m not sure what we could do right now. The wedding isn’t until tomorrow afternoon. Surely they won’t be stuck there all night.”
“So, should we make the cookies for the bake sale?”
“I guess so, but put you’re thinking cap on, because we may have to rescue them, yet.”
The goddesses made their way to the kitchen and soon flour was flying. After an hour’s delay the train lurched forward and the contestants were once again on their way to Dusseldorf. From time to time one goddess or another would stick their head out of the kitchen to check on the contestants’ progress, but the conversation on the train was pretty boring.
Eventually, several paper plates of assorted cookies were wrapped in plastic and set on the dining room table. The goddesses plopped down on the sofa just in time to hear Mercury say, “Well, Zeus, the train is just out outside of Dusseldorf. They must disembark, buy tickets for Dortmund and catch another train to get to Tammy and Ludgar.”
“That’s nothing compared to what they’ve been through,” Isis assured him.
“That may be so, but three days into this ordeal, they’re not thinking as clearly and they’re very irritable. We’re drawing up to the first stop in Dusseldorf…Oh no! What are they doing? Bill and Jane are getting off the train with all of their luggage. This is a commuter stop. They should stay on the train.”
“This isn’t good.” As they stepped off the train the judges took their points down to seven hundred and twenty nine.