The Bee-Team – The secret meeting place

The temperatures had risen, and summer was approaching with the second unusually strong heatwave of up to 35 degrees Celsius. To everyone’s surprise, they had already struggled with almost 30 degrees Celsius in February, but most people had been happy about the warm temperatures rather than worried. And with the current weather, there was a hustle and bustle among the people of Tumbawunda Valley like in an ant’s nest. They were all really getting into the swing of things. Oskar ran to his mother and gave her a kiss. He had put on his Ninja suit with the Rambo Bee logo, especially for today’s mission. Romy was already wearing her pink princess dress and carrying her sheep backpack. She went to her mother too, gave her a kiss and reached the front door at the same time as Oskar. „But I want you both back by 5 p.m. at the latest,“ their mother called after them. After their extremely short day at school, they had eaten lunch (at record speed) – actually far too early. Much to her own surprise, Romy hadn’t even complained and had cleared her plate quickly as they wanted to meet up with their friends again right away. Two weeks of holidays, two weeks in which they would now be able to solve everything! Oskar and Romy ran out and jumped on their bikes.

This is a reading sample. If you like the story, the butterflies would be happy if you bought the book!

Then they rolled down the driveway on their bikes and stopped at the edge of the footpath. The street was still busy. Crowds of people were pushing their way through the Tumbawunda Valley. There seemed to be even more visitors now than there had been this morning. No wonder! By this stage, people were arriving from all four corners of the earth. They could see a Japanese film crew over there, elsewhere Chinese UFO hunters were wandering through the crowds. They were wearing pretty stupid-looking alien scanner glasses and these were connected to their expensive smartphones. Together with the pictures they were taking of everything, they were ‚analysing‘ the surroundings. One of them even stopped just in front of Romy and Oskar. He ’scanned‘ the two of them with his glasses, examined Romy and Oskar with his smartphone and then gave them a big thumbs up and a grin. Green light! „Everything’s okay, you’re not aliens!“ But that wasn’t all that was going on outside their house. The street was starting to smell like a fairground: some clever neighbours had set up stalls in their gardens and were now selling drinks and snacks to the tourists. Making money had become the order of the day! They saw their neighbours chasing away the wasps, but there were also some wild bees who were desperately trying to find some food.

If the bee rescuers had been able to look more closely, they would have seen that small grains of sugar had fallen into some liquid and had dissolved into a kind of sugared water. But the neighbours kept waving the insects away. One woman had even tried to kill them with a fly swat or she was stamping on the ones who were on the ground, in desperate need of help. „Yes! I got another one“ she even rejoiced, while she was chasing a few sparrows away. The visibly weakened birds with ruffled feathers were trying to sneakily pinch some cake crumbs. Oskar and Romy took deep breaths, then they coolly nodded to one other. They definitely had a lot of work to do during these holidays. Both shot off on their bicycles in opposite directions. Oskar took the path to the right, Romy cycled along the footpath to the left. Oskar had only just passed the first houses when Noah and Nick, who were both also dressed as Ninjas, joined him on their bikes. Noah had binoculars dangling from his neck, Nick had a magnifying glass. One of the boys was able to look into the distance really well while the other one was able to spot the smallest detail – they made the perfect team. They quickly continued cycling on and before they turned off to the right, they briefly waved to Oskar’s grandmother. The grandmother had been looking over her garden hedge the whole time and was watching closely what those people were doing in ‚their‘ street. Her cats, Lisa and Kitti, were lying at her feet, snoozing. When the grandmother recognised Oskar with the pirate flag on his bicycle, she immediately waved back but then turned her attention suspiciously back to the goings on in her street. If anyone dared to drop any rubbish here, they would have her to answer to. Close by, Romy came across her friend Emma, who was also out on her bike. Emma was also wearing her pink princess dress. On their bicycles, they both looked like a Pink Princess Gang. And Emma was carrying a rucksack too – in the shape of a unicorn, with a colourful horn. They were cycling as fast as they could, but they had both almost fallen off their bikes on the pavement, as two Scottish tourists (dressed in kilts with colourful drawings on their upper bodies) had only just noticed them in the nick of time. The Scottish men were about to start playing another welcome song on their bagpipes for the aliens and had almost not seen Romy and Emma. At one point, they had even had to get off their bicycles. The Tamil family at the end of their street was making the most of the opportunity by selling sausages from a barbeque. Five Euros each! Very expensive, but people were paying and they were even queueing up for them. At last, Romy and Emma’s path was clear again and they took a left turn. Here, the street was slightly emptier, but lots of people were still wandering around. And there was something else: the smiling panda was half sticking out from a hedge. Romy and Emma whizzed past him so quickly that they only just noticed his waving paw, almost as if he was trying to tell them that they were on the right track. Emma didn’t look at Romy, because she needed to concentrate properly on cycling, but she asked: „Did we just pass a panda?“ A smile spread across Romy’s little face. Emma’s question confirmed to her that she and Oskar weren’t the only ones able to see him. „I believe so,“ she said in a level-headed manner. Fine, that was ok then. But in front of them, nothing seemed to be ok. They saw a dead blackbird and a dead field hare lying in one of the front gardens. Romy and Emma had slowed down a bit. The fine English lawn had already turned yellow due to the lack of water. There were bright lavender bushes along the edges – but they were artificial. Apart from that, there was nothing there. It seemed like no-one really cared about the garden. They had already heard from their fathers that there had been a drought for the past number of months. That’s what grown-ups called an unusually long period of dryness. Romy and Emma couldn’t actually remember when it had last rained this year at all. In January, perhaps?


When they reached the dead blackbird and the dead field hare, the girls were able to see clearly that the creatures had been trying to get to a spade which was lying on the ground. The blackbird and the field hare had remembered that some water had collected in the spade the last time they had been there and were hoping to find even a few drops. The spade was dry. The poor creatures had collapsed with exhaustion and had died of thirst. Romy and Emma realised this and suddenly felt sick to their stomachs. For a short while, neither of them said a word. They cycled along beside each other in silence. Then Emma broke the silence. „Where are we meeting up again?“ she asked, while cycling next to Romy. She was still looking straight ahead, she could already see the sisters Sophie and Paula, who were waiting with their pink bicycles in their driveway. They too had decided to wear their pink princess dresses. That was nothing out of the ordinary. „On the other side of the field,“ Romy said, rolling her eyes. They had already gone through the details that morning. „Under the old lime tree, as usual.“ When Romy and Emma reached Sophie and Paula, they didn’t even have to brake as the sisters immediately started pedalling and joined them. They followed the curve of the road leading them around the Tumbawunda Valley.

Oskar, Noah and Nick were also no longer on their own. Thomas and Olivia had joined them. They too were wearing their Ninja costumes, like they always did when they were on a mission together. They both also had walkie-talkies hanging from repurposed cowboy pistol holsters. This enabled them to communicate perfectly with each other at all times. People also kept walking in front of their bikes, too. It was a very tricky situation. Nick had already bumped into a Canadian reporter. The man in his red and white maple jacket had sworn profusely, but because the boys and girls were going so fast, he hadn’t even noticed what had made him sway. Then it was Thomas‘ turn to ask, „where did we want to go again?“ Oskar, Nick and Noah looked at each other and rolled their eyes. „Just follow us“ said Oskar and gave him a smile. They cycled in a large arc to the right, around the Tumbawunda Valley, Romy’s group cycled from the opposite direction. The further they cycled, the emptier the streets became. Thankfully! After all, they wanted to be able to carry out their investigation undisturbed. At least that’s what they were hoping for. It was plain to see that rubbish had been left on the ground everywhere the ‚tourists‘ had been. Here and there, the stench hit them. The temperature continued to rise and food leftovers were starting to rot. „Keep going quickly!“ Noah called. He had started to take the lead, but not for long. The further they travelled, the closer they got to the last houses. Jonathan, Dominic, Steven, Kevin and Freddie were waiting at the last junction. They were all wearing black. Ninja black. In their secret pockets, they had every kind of secret agent equipment the toy industry could produce. Oskar, Noah, Nick, Thomas and Olivia came to a stop with squealing tyres. The five looked at their friends, and grinned. Yes, they were all properly prepared for their task. „We are the Fantastic Ninja Ten!“ Ninja-Olivia giggled. After three, two, one…, the boys called „Oh yes!“ in agreement. To make sure they all kept their minds on the job, Oscar rushed them along by calling „on we go!“ It wouldn’t help if all the boys developed a crush on Olivia. Where would that lead to?! His call worked. All Ninjas immediately got back onto their bikes and set off. Here, there were only a few houses. The street turned into a dirt track. The Pink Princess Gang, which was also on its way coming from the other side of the residential area, wasn’t yet in their line of sight.

Before the Fantastic Ninja Ten reached their secret meeting place, they had to cover quite a bit of the field. They had a good view of everything. Looking across the field, Oskar’s garden was clearly visible and they were also able to see the farmers driving their big tractors in the field. As a result of the drought, the field was already so dry that the tractors were whirling up huge clouds of dust. Despite this, they were still planting seeds or young plants in the field. „That looks like the middle of a desert!“ murmured special agent Ninja-Noah to his brother Nick. The brothers Steven and Kevin had been thinking the same. In other parts of the field, they were able to see that the first seeds were sprouting anyway. But what the children didn’t know was that to enable their crops to grow, the farmers were pumping water onto the fields – at great effort and expense – and this was decreasing the ground water level in the entire Tumbawunda Valley. In front of the Ninjas‘ eyes, some of the farmers were now also driving around with special trailers and spraying some kind of liquid. „That’s most probably fertiliser,“ said Jonathan, pointing to the big machines. They saw something else but because of the dust clouds, they couldn’t quite make out what it was. Were deer running away? Were countless unusually slow and probably weak insects and wild bees flying into the forest, away from the liquid that the farmers were spraying? The Ninja troop had no chance of seeing anything up close. The kids on their bicycles had to concentrate on the path and couldn’t keep watching what was going on in the field. The asphalt had merged into a normal dirt track. The tracks left by the big farming machines had made the path uneven.

There was a stone here, a dry branch there. On their bicycles, they moved bumpily along the dirt track more than you could call it cycling. But their secret meeting place, the old lime tree, almost exactly opposite Oskar’s house, was slowly coming into view. Next to it flowed a small stream, which was merely a trickle now. The Tumbawunda spring at the back of the forest flowed through the meadow and the small trickle that now remained used to feed into some little more or less dried up ponds in front of the forest. They had all been there before. The spring was unique in their region. The ground water came from a source pot and was known for its constant temperature of twelve degrees. If you jumped or stamped around the edge of the source pot, the water bubbled. That was really funny. But what was happening? Before any of the Fantastic Ninja Ten could actually say a word, they all slammed on their brakes. Dominic almost collided with Steven. „What… what?“ Noah stuttered. Everyone was able to see it. That couldn’t be true. Something was moving closer to their secret meeting place. Seven little pink bicycles were struggling, seven little heads with cycling helmets were wobbling backwards and forwards because of the uneven dirt track. On their backs, the rucksack heads of sheep, unicorns, koalas, kangaroos, cats and dogs were being thrown around. That… that was Romy and her gang! And before the Fantastic Ninja Ten knew what was happening, they had already arrived!

Bang, boom, that was it! The cool and confident girls in their pink princess dresses got off their bikes. They then lined up next to one another, with their hands confidently on their hips. In this manner, the seven pink princesses stood opposite the Ninjas, until Oskar broke the silence. „Hey! What are you doing here?“ Romy looked sternly at her brother. „This is our meeting place!“ The Ninjas from the Fantastic Ninja Ten looked at each other in confusion. Were they going mad? This was their place and it had been for as long as they had been alive. More or less from the beginning of time! And the girls were much younger! Ninja-Oskar and the other special agents couldn’t put up with this. „But we were here way before you, it’s our secret place!“ What Romy and Oskar didn’t notice was that three electric blue fireflies were sneaking out of Oskar’s chest pocket and Romy’s rucksack. They were still feeling a bit sick because of the bumpy dirt track. They sometimes looked a bit green instead of blue. If they were able to, some of the fireflies would probably be sick any time now. My goodness, where had the children been cycling with them? Their presence immediately had consequences: Romy, Oskar and all other members of the Fantastic Ninja Ten and the Pink Princess Gang looked at them. Looked at how unsteady they appeared first making their way to the middle of the front line, then recovering slightly before frantically heading towards the old lime tree. The gazes of the children from the Tumbawunda Valley followed them and suddenly, they were filled with surprise. There, they saw a white horse’s bottom – covered in rainbow-coloured spots of paint.


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