Jefferson Middle School newsletter
Chapter Fifty-One: In Which A Plan Is Hatched
The first time Jack went in the dark place that led to the Fearsome Forest, it was scary. Now, with about ten other people, the whole dark and creepy atmosphere was ruined by the many torches they had, illuminating the pathway, and the conversations everyone was having. Flake kept on having some conversation with Rose, Chief Phoenix was complaining, and Chief Alya kept on pestering Jack with questions he didn’t have the answer to. He was scared that his dad would somehow be alerted by the noises they were making.
While he was leading everyone down the path, he thought about the plan. It was a flimsy one, for sure. Jack and two others(there was much debate about who, so they left that for later) would get under the invisibility cloak and sneak close to the laboratory door. Then, some other people would make a loud ruckus on the other side of the caves. Hopefully Dad would come out to check, and then Jack would open the door, get inside along with the two other people, and somehow free three kids and make it back to the surface.
Jack said it was a horrible plan, but no one listened. He also said that invisibility cloaks were meant to hold only one person, and could barely hold two people, much less three.
Another major problem was that Jack wasn’t sure about how to get back to Rm. 28. He fell down from the room, and as far as he could tell, there was no way to get back up. He brought his torch next to the wall and felt around, trying to find some secret button, but he couldn’t find any.
“What’s this?” Flake called. He was standing next to a spot in the wall with a random metal hinge and no door. Jack touched it, searching for any hidden latches. He found one disguised as rock and then opened it. A chunk of rock swung open like a lock to reveal a four number combination lock embedded on the wall, as well as a sliver square button.
“Well, do you know the passcode?” Flake asked. Jack shook his head. Flint told him the password for the laboratory, 592, but this combination needed four numbers.
“Try pressing the silver button. Does it work?” Jack suggested. He did. It emitted a small click, but nothing happened.
Jack thought for a moment. “Try 5970.”
Flake looked confused. “What?”
“Never mind.” Jack turned the combination to 5970 and pressed the button, but again nothing happened. He tried 0597, 7950, and then just random combinations of numbers.
The chiefs were starting to get really impatient and worried in the dark. Jack was about to lose hope until Flake said, “Wait!”
“Rose says to check the back of the book you have, Jack,” Flake said. “She says that she saw a bunch of numbers on the last page, and they might be passwords.” Rose nodded.
“Oh, those? I thought those were simply calculations.” Jack said, bringing out the book and looking at the last page. There were many rows of numbers, some three digits, some four, and some with much more. Jack tried all the four digit numbers. The third one worked, and then a ladder fell from the top of the roof, leading to a trapdoor on the ceiling of the cave.
Jack got out his invisibility cloak. “Okay… so who’s going to come with me and who’s going to be the distraction?”
“I’ll go!” Flake exclaimed.
“No, you are not!” Chief Frost argued.
“Well… actually that might work better. You see, the invisibility cloak can only barely cover two relatively small people, much less three, so someone of smaller size would fit better in the cloak,” Jack said matter-of-factly. “Then again, we won’t be able to carry three unconscious kids, so maybe that wouldn’t work…”
“Yes, it will,” Flake said vehemently, as if he could make it work by saying so. “It has to.”
Jack signed. “Well, to be honest, the plan is pretty flimsy. After all, my dad might not actually come out when he hears random noises, often he’ll be so engrossed in his work, he wouldn’t care. And then there’s the fact he has security cameras everywhere, especially in the lab, and the chairs he has have very complicated latches and locks that might be hard for people to get out of, not to mention the very likely chance that he’ll find the ‘distraction people’ easily and then make his way back to the lab, where he’ll-”
“Okay, that’s enough! I get it, this plan is doomed to fail,” Flake interrupted. Hearing that said, everyone became much more dejected. It was going to fail, miserably. So what could they do?
Suddenly, in the silence and hopelessness, Flake grinned. “Rose, you’re brilliant!” he exclaimed. “Yes, that’s a great idea! The invisibility cloak can go to the distraction team, so they won’t get caught, and if they do their job, then the laboratory team will have no problem getting in the lab, even without the cloak! And then the distraction team can split once Jack’s dad is at the other side of the caves, one going to help the lab team rescue Snow and the others, one stays as distractions and then everyone can just meet back here! Simple!”
There was a moment of silence as everyone thought over the plan. Then Chief Oak asked, “Who’s Rose?”
Chapter Fifty-Two: In Which A Plan Is Carried Out
Rose did not like being singled out. She was used to being ignored and virtually invisible most of her life, and yes, she wanted to be more noticed, but she definitely didn’t want to be in the spotlight. Yet there she was, in a group of the highest nobles in all the kingdoms, all looking at her like her hair was glowing blue. Which it might as well have been. She didn’t belong here. It seemed like she didn’t belong anywhere, here, or in the Coral Kingdom, or in the village. And maybe now they were going to do what many people did to other people who didn’t belong: kick them out. And Rose didn’t want to be kicked out. At least not now.
The whispers started, though they were hardly whispers, loudly echoing in the cavern. Why is she here? Who brought her? Is she important? Who is she, anyways?
Even Chief Ripple has something to say. “Rose, you shouldn’t be here. The Conference is over, the mystery is cleared, go back to your village.”
But I could be helpful, she thought. I’m not sure how, but I could.
“Just let her stay, okay? She can help,” Flake said. Suddenly, he got an idea. “Jack, will your father still recognize her? If she’s really your sister?”
“Well, yeah,” Jack said. He grinned. “That’ll make a pretty good distraction, won’t it? Rose could just somehow lure Dad out of the lab, and then reveal herself, that might give him a shock. But then she’s basically sacrificing herself…” He frowned.
I’ll do it, she thought. I might as well try and find out whether he’s really my father. If he recognizes me, then, that’s all the proof I need.
“She’ll do it,” Flake said.
Now, the chiefs became quite confused because they still had no idea who Rose was, and they never heard her say anything. But they supposed, if she would help them get their children back, she could stay.
“Okay Rose, how about you get in the lab, knock over a few tables, mess up his work, and run out. He will surely follow you. Then you can run over to the other side of the caves and reveal yourself, make up a long, fake reason why you’re here, try to sound as mysterious as possible, and then after a long time, put the cloak on, rush back to Room 28, lock the door, and come down here, where everyone was most likely already rescued, and run.” Jack said eagerly. “It probably isn’t as hard as it sounds. The password is 597, by the way. And here’s the map. You’ll probably need it.” He handed the map to Rose. “And then a group of people, the rescue team, goes to the lab and unstraps Snow, Flint, and Windy, takes them out, brings them here and we all go out of here. Is that good?” Everyone nodded, some looking more uncertain than others.
I don't think this is going to go very well, Rose thought.
The caves didn’t look like caves. The walls weren’t rocky, the ground was layered with modern tiles, and there weren’t stalagmites and stalactites anywhere. It simply looked like an office building, with plain white walls and many doors that led to different rooms. It made Flake feel a little less scared.
He slowly tiptoed down the hall with the rest of the rescue team: Jack in the front, then Advisor North (which Chief Frost probably sent to keep Flake out of trouble), then him, then Chief Alya (who had insisted on coming herself), then Chief Oak (who said that he needed to ‘keep the peace’ lest there is any confusion and claimed he knew of helpful woodland magicks), and Advisor Blaze (since Chief Phoenix said he needed a representative). It was an odd group to be sure, but it wasn’t them Flake was worried about, it was Rose. She had by far the most difficult job. But Flake couldn’t do anything about that.
Hello? Rose called in his mind. Can you hear me? I'm not sure whether long-distance telepathy works...
Yes, I can, he thought back, but he knew that she couldn’t hear it.
Well, if you can, she continued, then you might want to know Stage One is finished. I’ve messed up stuff in the lab. He’s on my tail now. He doesn’t look a thing like Jack, or me, in that matter. But that’s not important.
“Rose is done with stage one. The lab is clear,” Flake whispered.
Jack nodded and the whole crew carefully made their way to the lab. Jack put in the passcode and pressed the button. The door slid open, and they all stepped in the lab.
Flake gasped when he saw everything. The place had certainly been messed up- there were knocked over tables and chairs, but the whole place looked very organized and full of information. His eyes swept over everything and landed on the chairs. He immediately headed there.
Snow. She was sitting on the chair, comfortably strapped in, still breathing, still whole. Relief flooded over Flake as he crouched down and started unstrapping the belts (there were a lot). He resisted the urge to cry out in joy. It wasn’t done yet. They still needed to escape.
Click. One seatbelt open. Click. Another one. Press. Click. Pull. Another. Click. Shift. Pull. Tug. Shift. Pull. Press. Click. Flake kept on pulling the fourth belt but it wouldn’t open.
“Here, this is how you do it,” Jack whispered, pressing down on the silver latch and pulling the cord. He started helping him with other belts too.
Flake! The-there… he is… In the midst of all the seatbelt tugging, he heard a faint, distant voice. Rose trying to communicate to him, he was sure of it. But he could barely hear anything. There was another voice in his mind, one that drowned out all the others. It sounded like mumbling, and Flake couldn’t make out a thing. It made it hard to concentrate on unstrapping Snow from the chair. At least Jack and Advisor North were helping him.
Finally, Rose’s voice broke out, loud and clear. RUN!