Jefferson Middle School newsletter
Chapter Forty-Two: In Which Memories Resurface
Six years ago…
“Rosie, we aren’t going to actually do that, are we?” Jack asked, a bit fearful. When Rosie wanted to do something, she did it, and Jack really didn’t want her to do this.
Rosie answered in sign language. Yes, we are.
“But- but why? Dad told us to stay out of there! He already took us to look at it! There was nothing interesting!”
I’m curious, she signed. What does he spend all his time in there doing?
“Making scientific discoveries, right? That’s what he said!”
But what discoveries? Rosie jumped off the top bunk. That is what I want to know. I’ll go by myself if you aren’t going to come.
“You’ll get in trouble!” Jack cried.
I’ll be fine. I have a secret foolproof plan.
I can’t tell you. It’s a secret. She opened the door. I’ll tell you what I find.
“Rosie, I think this is a really really bad idea! Maybe we can just nicely ask Dad and he’ll answer us this time-” But she was already gone. He slumped on the bed.
“Well, maybe it’ll be fine,” he said to himself, a bit glumly. “It’ll go great. Rosie will come back talking about all the wonderful stuff Dad is doing, and then everything will go back to normal. Yeah. That’s what will happen. Right.” He sighed and stared at the ceiling. “She won’t get caught. She’s smarter than that.”
An hour later, Rosie hadn’t come back. Jack started to get a little worried. She shouldn’t be spying for that long. Or maybe she isn’t spying. Maybe she got caught and got in trouble. He shuddered. Don’t think about that. No. She already got out successfully, and she just doesn’t want to meet me yet because she doesn’t want to admit she’s wrong. That’s all. Everything is perfectly fine.
That was when the door swung open and slammed against the wall. Rosie was standing there, huffing like she had just ran a marathon. At first Jack was relieved that she was here, but seeing the frantic look on her face, he could tell something was wrong.
She started frantically hand signing, but her hands were shaking and and she was doing it so fast that Jack wasn’t sure what she was trying to convey.
“What? What’s wrong?” he asked.
She tried to sign again, but her hands were even more shaky now, and she seemed exhausted. In the end, she just collapsed on the ground, clutching her head and breathing heavily.
Jack rushed to her side. “What happened, Rosie? Wha- what happened?” Rosie didn’t answer. She looked like she was running out of oxygen, gasping and hyperventilating. Something was wrong. And he didn’t know what. But maybe there was someone who did.
He grabbed her arms and pulled her up. She had blacked out already, head lolled over to the side as if she was dead. Maybe she was. Jack tried get in a position where he could run and carry her at the same time. Rosie was much heavier than he expected and he ended up walking all the way to Dad’s laboratory.
Jack knocked on the door frantically. The door opened and there stood his dad in a dirty laboratory suit.
“What is it-” He then saw Rosie, unconscious in Jack’s arms. “Oh. Oh, no. What happened?!”
“I don’t know! I was hoping you would know!”
“Hmm.” He looked at her closely. “I think I might know what to do. I do believe Rosie’s had some electrical shock of some sort. I think I can fix it, Jack. Don’t you worry.” He sounded only mildly concerned, and it put Jack more at ease.
“So she isn’t going to die?”
“What?” Dad chuckled. “No, no, of course not. Nothing’s wrong. Everything is going to be okay. Just go out and play some games with Stripes, okay?”
Jack nodded. He looked back at Rosie. Now, instead of looking dead, she looked more calm, like she was sleeping. Nothing’s wrong. Everything is going to be okay. And when he backed out to the hallway and the door slid shut, he believed it too.
Chapter Forty-Three: In Which Progress Is Not Made
“So you’re saying that the kidnapper is located in the ruins of the Cave Kingdom?” Chief Ripple asked disbelievingly. Flake nodded. He was so sure before, but now Chief Ripple’s skepticism was rubbing off him.
“And this is based on the word of some old guy in your dreams that you might be making up?” the chief said.
“Well, yes, but I’m not making him up.”
Chief Ripple sighed. “Look, the entrance to the caves has been buried under rubble for centuries. The caves itself too. No one would be able to go in, not even some crazy kidnapper.”
“But- isn’t there another way?” Flake asked. “Like, some sort of secret passageway?”
“Flake, if there is anything left, it would have most likely been covered up due to natural erosion. There isn’t anything there. Better not to get your father’s hopes up.”
“You don’t believe the prophecies, don’t you?”
“I don’t think anyone will. You’re the only one who has actually seen this Oracle guy, everyone else is taking your word for it. The only reason I’m considering this is because you seem so confident that you are right. But have you considered you may be wrong?”
“Yes,” Flake said, looking at the floor. “But it’s worth trying, is it? It’s the first plausible lead we’ve gotten.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t call it plausible.” The chief moved to his writing desk. “But if you wish, I can write your father a letter about it. And you should be heading back to the hospital.”
“Wait! Where is the entrance? Of the Cave Kingdom? The one that collapsed?”
The chief looked at him sternly. “You aren’t planning to go there, aren’t you?”
“Of course not!” Flake protested. “I just… want to know.”
“Sure.” Chief Ripple got out a piece of parchment. “Guards, kindly escort him out of the building.”
Rose was starting to understand the usefulness of knowledge. In just one hour at the library, she had learned so much about the Cave Kingdom that it was almost like she was one of them. She could almost imagine living in those cool, shiny caves, not affected by the seasons or the weather. It was much better than living in the forest.
However, learning about the lifestyle of the people who lived there wasn’t going to help with her mission. She needed to find out how to get in the caves. And for that, she needed a map.
A modern history textbook provided one at the back. It showed what the world looked like in the ancient times, with weird kingdom names and much more uncharted lands. Half of the modern day Snake Kingdom wasn’t even discovered yet, and the Fearsome Forest was nonexistent, labeled as dangerous territory. However, it did show the Cave Kingdom, along with dots marking the major cities.
Hmm. Apparently there were several entrances to the Cave Kingdom, one facing the forest, one facing Coral Kingdom, one facing the mountains, and one in the center. All of them collapsed. So how do we get in? The main entrance was in the center. It was also the biggest. But that one was definitely buried up. The closest entrance to us was the one facing the Coral Kingdom, but that should be buried too. We could always try digging, but that will take very long and we need to get approval from authorities, which is up to Flake to get. We could also try accessing it through old caves in the Coral Kingdom that link to the cave system, but all kinds of dangerous monsters live in the caves and we need permission from the chief. And they probably also collapsed. As Rose bounced ideas around, she became more and more frustrated. We could… we could… maybe there’s some passageways that haven’t collapsed and we can enter through there! Maybe. She grabbed the history textbook and slammed it shut. Ugh. It’s hopeless.
And what if they did get in there and found nothing? Rose couldn’t help but think of the possibility. Then everyone would be back on square one, all the work for nothing. After that, what? Would she just go back to the village and live her life? She couldn’t possibly do that, not after all she discovered. No, I’m going to find them. I will. This is an opportunity, and I will take it. Even if I don’t know what it is an opportunity for.