I know you folks probably get frustrated with me when I go on these long breaks. I’m working hard on the sequel to Sidekick Academy: The School Secret, and I’m rehearsing a play at the moment. These things are sucking up a lot of my time, but those are my problems, not yours. You deserve some choices so we can get back to telling a story together.
Remember, choosing the story is always a somewhat longer process than picking the next chapter. A little bit of delay will also get me to a place where my schedule opens up a bit. Therefore, our new story is going to start on AUGUST 2nd. You have the rest of the month to get your votes in, and to corral your friends and family into voting your way.
You struggle against the rope, but the old man in front of you shakes his head. “You’re not all that strong, pet. Fast, sure, faster than the wind. And if that were a magic rope, I daresay you’d be out already. But it’s not. Just a plain old honest rope. An ox might snap it, but you’re not near as strong as an ox. You might as well quit wiggling.” He looks deeply into one of your eyes. “Is it true, then, that a Unicorn can talk?”
“It is,” you say reluctantly.
“And is it true that when they do speak, a unicorn can tell no lies?”
“Liar.” He laughs. “So now I think we understand each other. Neither of us is a fool. I don’t relish holding you captive. No good to come of that, but I do have need of you. I understand that a unicorn can grant a man a wish, but I need you to tell me how it really works.”
You stare at the rope and realize the truth. He’s not letting you go until he gets his wish. “It’s not as simple as a wish coming true, you know. It’s more complicated than that.”
“You mean like a man might wish for a castle, but what he might find is a piece of gold in a stream, and if he worked hard for a while to dig and set up a mine, he might one day find enough gold to buy that castle, eh?”
You dip your head.
“Well that sounds about right then. I know what I need to wish for. And you’re staying with me till my wish comes true.
You stare at the pile of books in front of you. It’s not fair that Mr. Kennedy said you weren’t allowed to read any more mysteries for your book report. Just because your last four were mysteries doesn’t mean you can’t do another one. Reluctantly, you choose two action/adventure books. They might not be terrible, but you have your preferences.
“Wasn’t there a place to put the fines?” A man stands in front of you in line with a dollar bill in his hand. The library rarely charges more than a few cents, but often people put a full dollar or two into the canister that serves to collect fines and donations at the same time.
“There was, but someone stole it yesterday.” The librarian takes the dollar, asks the man if he needs change, and smiles when he declines. She puts the dollar bill into a drawer behind the desk.
You hand the librarian your books and your card as you’re next in line. “No one saw them take the canister? No video tapes or anything?”
“No dear. We can barely afford the library as it is, much less with added security.” She stamps your books and hands them back to you with a smile.
Your smile matches hers. As soon as you get home you’re going to place a call to your best friends, Ash and Cogs.
Who needs a mystery novel? It’s time for the Pepperoni and Cheese Detective Agency to solve a case!
“The radio is completely dead?”
The captain nods at you. “We tried replacing the antenna we lost, but it looks like the lightning strike fried most of the actual working parts of the radio. It’s not much more than ballast at this point.”
“And no cell service, I imagine?”
“None to speak of, no. Though I’d keep checking from time to time.”
“So we have no idea where we are?”
“That’s an interesting question. I know where we are supposed to be based on our latitude and longitude. That equipment isn’t damaged at all so far as I can tell. But that island . . .” He points to the small mountain covered in greenery that’s only a mile away from the bow of the ship. ” . . . shouldn’t be anywhere near those coordinates.”
“What does that mean?”
“There are three possibilities I can see for that Island — and with the amount of fuel we have left, it’s either land there or drift in the ocean, by the way. The first possibility is that our equipment was damaged, and that island isn’t where we think we are. The second possibility is that the physical charts I have don’t show that island. Neither of those possibilities strike me as all that likely.”
“So what’s the third possibility?”
“Someone wanted that island not to appear on any charts. Looks like we’re about to find out why.”
She looked like such a cute little girl. You had no idea she was such a light sleeper.
“Please. Let me go. You can have more money for the tooth. You can take everything I have on me, just let me go.”
The girl does not release her tight grip around your chest. If anything it becomes harder and harder to breathe. Her fist has you completely covered from wingtip to the bottom of your ankles.
“What do you want it for?”
She shakes you impatiently. “The tooth! I know you give kids money for their teeth, but what do you do with the teeth? Nobody in my class knew.”
You swallow as hard as you can with the pressure around your chest. “We never speak of it.”
She stares at you with eyes that seem far more dangerous than a six-year-old should be able to have.
“Tonight, you will.”
Time to vote, you Choosy Geeks!