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Adventure's Afterglow

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Teetering and tottering on the ice, the penguins captivated Eleanor. As they waddled and wandered to the farthest reaches of the exhibit, she couldn't help but wonder if they were happy here. As some gracefully slipped into the water, others ruffled their feathers and huddled together. Were they homesick? She observed the little community of penguins, and hoped that none were feeling that way. It filled her with sadness to think that they could have been separated from their families; her memory took her back to that night on the balloon, nursing a little chick back to health. His only remedy was his mother, and when she heard the jubilant cries of both he and his mother upon reuniting, Eleanor's heart swelled with joy. It was then that she realised just how awful the world would be without her sisters. Coral reefs, majestic landmarks - none of it truly mattered if she didn't have her sisters by her side.

They were all pawns in the Furschteins' game. Jeanette could never forget the betrayal she felt upon finding that the dolls they had been carrying around the world with them were stuffed with diamonds. Exquisite, expensive diamonds. Buried deep beneath the plush material, sparkling secrets that followed the group's every move. Because who would possibly suspect them? Playing an innocent game of Around The World In 30 Days all whilst doing the bidding of others. Claudia and Klaus Furschtein. Thankfully behind bars now, yet Jeanette felt that she ought to thank them somehow. For despite taking advantage of their naivety, and despite cheating them into smuggling goods from continent to continent, they offered something incredible to all six - the chance to see the world. The chance to watch the sun set over a sprawling desert, the chance to see it rise over snowy mountaintops. To experience a plethora of cultures, and to immerse themselves in it. Rome, Paris, Amsterdam, London, Germany... As she flipped through her photographs, she smiled at the memories she had created.

The outfit glittered in her hands, the most dazzling of pinks. It was elaborate, it was flashy, it was Brittany. Not to mention the accessories to match. It was the only outfit from the entire trip she managed to recover, solely because she was wearing it when they got back. But she loved it nonetheless; it was her own personal souvenir. Of all the extravagant ensembles she put together for their travels, this one held the most significance for her. Just holding it reminded her of the hot Arabian climate, the discomfort when the young Prince proposed marriage. It reminded her of the cold air that nipped as they breezed into Antarctica, with only a short hooded cape for protection. It reminded her of the thrilling chase, feeling her pink cape flutter behind her as she raced to safety from the clutches of the Furschteins. No boutique could possibly replicate this. But truthfully, she was glad to be home. She hadn't forgotten the shark, or the frizzy hair in Bermuda. But hey, at least she got one kick out of it - she totally won that bet.

The stars looked lonely up there. This was the thought running through Theodore's mind as he stared at the night sky. Lonely, considering he had once been close enough to practically touch them, to scoop them up into his warm embrace, surrounded by sprinklings of even more. He could bathe in the shimmery glow of the stars, and marvel at this lunar treat. Admire the night, be in awe of the world. But only in those small precious hours, steeped in silent dreams and the quietness of his brothers. By day he would be whisked away to someplace new, leaving the stars behind, the gentle calm of the world, until eventually he would find himself here - home. Grounded, and torn away from his celestial paradise.

It should have been impossible. For months, the reality of it bewildered and wreaked havoc with Simon's sensible and reasonable logic. Six chipmunks, six children, alone out there in the world. That big, terrifyingly dangerous world. Who knows where they'd be if Miss Miller hadn't come racing in her car, if the girls hadn't arrived in their balloon... Dave should have called home more often; Miss Miller should have known. The guilt of a lie told to an elderly lady was nestled deep in Simon's conscience, although he is adamant to have played no willing part in this escapade. But oh, as he picked up his geography books every evening, he couldn't help but sigh wistfully at the photographs. Monuments, rivers, landscapes on the pages before him held no candle to the real world he saw gliding slowly beneath him, more breathtaking than he could have ever imagined.

It just wasn't the same, Alvin mused, looking at the computer screen, a spark of longing in his eyes. Around the World in 30 Days. It amazed him that one dangerous bet turned into one of the best experiences of his life. The hot-air balloons he saw on the screen looked tiny now in comparison to the majestic vessels they raced in. The balloons that saw them through risk after risk, storm after storm, chase after chase. He craved the excitement, the thrills, the music. Songs sung together throughout their journey - the sing-off in Athens rings clear in his memory, as electrifying as the night it happened. He recalled the triumph of delivering the dolls, edging closer and closer to victory, and the justice as two criminals were handcuffed before he ran into Dave's arms, elated to see him again after an eternity apart. He was criticised from the start, but to boldly accept a stranger's challenge and embark on a daring quest, a whirlwind adventure around the world... He'd do it all again in a heartbeat.