The Sparkle Machine
‘WHOOOOSH!’ Molly and Miranda cried happily as they tumbled and turned in the washing machine. ‘This is so fun!’ The water splashed about in a circle, taking them tumbling with it. ‘Wheeeeee!’ The pair laughed again. They’d never done anything as fun as this before. ‘I wish I could do this all day every day!’ said Miranda. Molly nodded in agreement. As you might have guessed, to be in a washing machine, Molly and Miranda had to be small. In fact, they were tiny. Smaller than the tiniest grains of sand. Tiny little fibres. Specks.
But, they were just two of many millions of other tiny fibres, just like them. Together, they made up a fluffy blue fleece.
‘Do you think every fibre like us has this much fun?’ Molly asked, as another swirling wave washed over her, tickling her tiny body. Miranda thought for a minute.
‘I’ve heard that there are fibres that go on adventures. They get to travel through the oceans and see sights we could only dream of’.
‘Wow.’ Molly marvelled. She’d always dreamt of exploring the world that lay beyond the washing machine walls.
‘How do they get there?’ she asked curiously.
‘They’re scientists’ said Miranda, ‘They discover everything.’
Just as her mind was getting lost in a land of scientific adventure, Molly felt something strange begin to happen. As the washing machine cycle got faster and faster, the waves became so strong that she found herself unable to cling on to the fleece anymore. ‘Miranda!’ she cried, as she felt herself falling away from the fun swishy tumbling that was the washing machine. ‘Miranda!’ She tumbled and turned. Where was she going?!
The water was like a log flume and it pushed Molly along at high speed, away from Miranda and all her other fleece fibre friends. She tried to look around to see where she was, but everything was whizzing by too fast.
Suddenly, just as she thought her breakfast might make a reappearance, Molly was spat out at a big chute and everything was calm. There she was, suspended, surrounded by hundreds and thousands of tiny colourful sparkles.
Where am I? Molly thought.
She was surrounded by blue. Rays of light broke through the surface, illuminating bright corals in every colour of the rainbow. Funny looking creatures with long sticky
tentacles bobbed alongside curious seahorses while an array of vibrant fish darted in and out of the intricate reefs.
Molly was surprised at how calm she felt. She was very confused, but she was determined to find out exactly where she was and how to get home.
As she was thinking about what to do next, she noticed a luminous green blob making its way slowly towards her. ‘Hello there,’ said Molly inquisitively, ‘Who are you?’
‘I’m Poppy’ said the little green blob. ‘Or Pop for short’.
‘Wow’ Molly exclaimed. She’d never spoken to anyone that wasn’t a blue fleece fibre before. ‘I’ve never met anyone like you. Let me introduce myself. I’m Molly and I…’
‘I know.’ Pop cut in.
Molly looked at her quizzically.
‘You lot are everywhere. The oceans are full of millions of microscopic pieces like you.’
As she looked closely, she realised the other sparkles weren’t glitter at all. They were tiny pieces of fleece, just like her. ‘We’re in the ocean?’ Molly whispered in awe.
Molly looked around. She watched again as fish swirled in colourful towers above reefs while dolphins darted in and out of the swirling shoals. These must be the ocean wonders Miranda had spoken about.
‘Yes’, said Pop. ‘Where else would we be?’
‘I come from a machine,’ admitted Molly. ‘I used to tumble around in circles and it was so much fun. But one day a big wave came, and I couldn’t hold on anymore. And now I’m here…’
‘So that’s where all you little sparkly fibres come from?’ said Pop thoughtfully. ‘A sparkle machine’.
Molly paused. She thought back to Miranda’s words about the fibres that went on adventures and the scientists that made great discoveries. Maybe if she was in the ocean, she could be a scientist too.
‘I…I guess so’ she said finally. ‘I don’t think I’m meant to be here. But I’m on a mission to make an exciting discovery.’
‘Perhaps I can help you. Would you mind a companion on your quest?’
Molly thought quickly. She quite liked the idea of taking on this adventure alone. But before she could say anything, Pop had already settled onto her long fibre tail.
‘Where should we go now?’ said Molly as she suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of tiredness. She may have been able to swish around in a washing machine, but navigating the big open sea was a different story.
‘Wherever the currents take us,’ Pop smiled.
Just as Molly opened her mouth to reply, a big swooping current came behind her, taking her breath away. Before she knew what was happening, she saw a big mouth lunge at her, sucking her into the darkness. ‘AHHHH!’ Molly screamed.
‘Pop?’ whispered Molly.
‘What?’ Pop replied.
‘Where are we?’
‘We’ve…been fished.’
A strong fishy scent of the seaside confirmed it. They were inside a fish. As her eyes began to adapt to the darkness, Molly saw something glistening next to her. It was another sparkly fleece fibre, just like her. Suddenly she noticed more and more of them, until she realised there were hundreds, all together in the darkness.
‘Hello!’ said Molly excitedly. ‘What are you all doing here?’
‘None of us know. One moment we were in a machine and now we’re here. We don’t belong in the ocean,’ said another sparkle, yawning sleepily.
‘I’m on a scientific adventure. I don’t know why we’re here but I’m going to find out.’
Suddenly, there was a jolt. Molly was thrown across the dark room as a razor sharp spear came slicing through the darkness, missing her by a millimetre.
Full of fear, Molly squeezed her eyes shut as she let a wave of unconsciousness wash over her.
Everything was still and the soft bobbing of the waves outside was gone. The only sound was the distant murmur of jazz and the soft clinking of glass.
Molly looked around. It was light. She noticed the fishy smell had become less intense as an array of aromas she didn’t recognise wafted into her nostrils. She felt weak and tired.
‘You’ve been asleep for days’ said Pop, with a concerned look on her face. ‘I thought you were…gone.’
‘I…I’m fine’ said Molly, as she let out a long yawn. Every part of her body ached.
Molly got the sense that they weren’t in the ocean anymore.
‘What’s wrong?’ said Pop.
When Pop was near, Molly felt like all the energy had been sucked away from her.
‘I feel so weak’ admitted Molly. ‘I was fine in the machine. But ever since I’ve been here, ever since I met you…something hasn’t felt right.’
‘Since you met…me?’ said Pop.
Before she could say anything else, the sharp metal prongs of a silver fork stabbed through a clump of white flesh, taking Molly and Pop with it. As they rose up on the fork, the sweet aromas of a thousand restaurant foods struck the air around them. All at once, they found themselves face to face with a pair of eyes, a nose and an open mouth.
‘Jump!’ Pop exclaimed.
And suddenly they were flying through the air, spiralling and turning until they landed on a soft blue mass. It was the fleece.
‘Pop?’ Pop was nowhere to be seen.
‘Molly? Oh my goodness! Molly!’ It was Miranda.
‘Mi…Miranda!’ Molly let out a hoarse whisper. The pair embraced.
‘Where’s Pop?’ said Molly weakly.
‘Who’s Pop?’ said Miranda, quizzically.
‘She’s my new friend. She helped me get back here.’
‘I’m so glad to see you.’ said Miranda with a concerned look in her eyes. She could tell that something was the matter with Molly. ‘While you were away, I heard about these green blobs that take over sparkles like us and make us feel weak. Then, sparkles in the ocean carrying all these toxins get eaten. They go from the smaller fish to the bigger fish, and sometimes even to people…and it poisons them’.
‘Green blobs…’ whispered Molly as the cogs in her brain began to spin uncontrollably.
‘They’re called Persistent Organic Pollutants’ said Miranda softly, ‘Or POPs for short.’
Pop for short. Molly’s mind flashed back to the words her green blob friend had said when they first met. She thought about how tired she felt when Pop was near.
Molly and Miranda looked at each other, and suddenly everything clicked.