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Authors: Pam Withers

Bungee Jump

BOOK: Bungee Jump
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Bungee Jump
Pam Withers

O
rca
c
urre
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ts

ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS

Copyright © 2016 Pam Withers

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system now known or to be invented, without permission in writing from the publisher.

Library and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication

Withers, Pam, author
Bungee jump / Pam Withers.
(Orca currents)

Issued in print and electronic formats.
ISBN
978-1-4598-1216-1 (paperback).—
ISBN
978-1-4598-1217-8 (pdf).—
ISBN
978-1-4598-1218-5 (epub)

I. Title. II. Series: Orca currents
PS
8595.
I
8453
B
86 2016
j
C
813'.6
C
2016-900452-
X
C
2016-900453-8

First published in the United States, 2016
Library of Congress Control Number: 2016931869

Summary:
In this high-interest novel for middle readers, thirteen-year-old Chris is setting up a commercial bungee jump on a historical island that was once the site of a hospital for children with leprosy.

Orca Book Publishers is dedicated to preserving the environment and has printed this book on Forest Stewardship Council
®
certified paper.

Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support for its publishing programs provided by the following agencies: the Government of Canada through the Canada Book Fund and the Canada Council for the Arts,and the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council and the Book Publishing Tax Credit.

Cover photography by Getty Images
Author photo by Cory Permack

ORCA BOOK PUBLISHERS
www.orcabook.com

19 18 17 16 • 4 3 2 1

Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Acknowledgments

Chapter One

My younger sister, Caitlin, wanted to visit the island one last time before the engineer moved onto it. She wanted to climb through the old rusty pipe to get there. Both the island and pipe are rumored to be haunted.

I hate dark, enclosed spaces. When I was little I got trapped for an hour in a closet, playing hide-and-seek.
And I’m not crazy about ghosts. Not that I believe in ghosts. What thirteen-year-old guy does? So I won’t crawl through dark pipes, but I’m not going to let my eleven-year-old sister do this alone.

“Fog’s really thick, Chris,” Caitlin says as we reach the top of the bluff.

“Thick enough we can’t see our house,” I say, glancing down the hill behind us. “That’s a good thing. Means Mom and Dad can’t see us.” The pipe is dry inside and just big enough to crawl through. Originally, the pipe was installed to carry water to a power station on the island. But no one ever built the station. Instead, someone built a hospital for children with leprosy.

The hospital was shut down seventy years ago. My grandfather bought the island cheap, because of its history. He upgraded the pipe just before he died, but until recently Dad had never found a use for it. We use the land on the peninsula
for a tree farm that doesn’t make much money, but the island and the pipe have gone unused for years.

Suspended fifteen stories above Misty Passage, the pipe is encased in crisscrossed steel supports. It’s like a high bridge without walkway or railings. Mom and Dad won’t let us go near it.

Like that has ever stopped us. We’ve been using the pipe to get to the island for years. Caitlin crawls through. I crawl along the top, like we are doing now.

I hear a muffled “Ouch!” and know Caitlin has hit her head on the boxlike hatch that hangs down from the middle. Again.

“Can’t wait for the bungee jump to be built,” Caitlin says as she emerges from the pipe on the island.

“Me too,” I agree, trying to picture a thick rope dangling from a sparkling new steel platform above the pipe. “And I get to see a real engineer at work.”

“Yeah, geek, he’ll be asking you for your expertise for sure.” My sister laughs. “More important, Dad says it’ll bring us real money.”

“Mmm.” The only trouble is, I know Dad spent way too much money on the plans, the engineer and materials.

The bungee jump was my idea. Caitlin and I got to go on one in Oregon during spring break. There was a huge lineup for it, and the site was nowhere near as cool as our property. It took Dad a while to come around to the notion that a bungee jump could make money on our pipe bridge, but he eventually decided to have plans drawn up. Then he arranged to hire an engineer-contractor to build it. That guy will be arriving any day now.

“Hope no one tells the contractor that the island has ghosts,” I joke. Local legend claims that the island is haunted by the ghosts of the leper children who
died there. And of the doctor who fell—or jumped—from the pipe when he got the disease. Sometimes I hear creepy noises near the pipe or island.

We slide down the muddy path toward the ruins of the hospital. It’s invisible in the fog. I tell myself no spooks are hiding out in the soupy cloud.

“Mrs. Dubin says there were fifty children here before the hospital closed,” I say. I run my hands along the mossy top of a tumbledown wall.

“Mrs. Dubin is annoying,” Caitlin says. “What is she, like, a hundred?” My sister doesn’t like the old lady who runs our school library. It’s true that she’s moody, but she’s usually friendly to me. Anyway, I like hearing her stories about our hick town in the old days.

“She told me she was born the year the hospital got shut down,” I say. “So she’s seventy. And she knows a lot about Hospital Island.”

“Like what?” Caitlin is winding through the corridors of the old place. She pokes her head into rooms where pieces of ceiling have fallen onto rusty bedsprings.

“The real name of the island is Thorn Island. But the locals started calling it Hospital Island when the hospital was built.” I kick a loose brick on the floor, which sends up plumes of dust. “This place only ran for ten years.”

“I knew that.” Caitlin sniffs and runs her hand through a giant cobweb.

“One doctor and one nurse worked here—”

“What happened to the nurse?” Caitlin asks.

“Disappeared after the doctor jumped.”

“Where did the kids go then?”

“To some other leper hospital in California.”

“What else?” Caitlin asks, moving into a different wing.

“The story about the cash box is baloney. Made up.”

Caitlin shrugs. “Makes a good story. Might be true. Evil doctor rips off all the money meant to feed the children and buy medicine—”

“—and buries it somewhere on the island, never yet found,” I finish for her. “Made up. False.”

“If you believe old Dubin,” says Caitlin.

“Why would she lie about that?” I ask.

“I don’t know,” says Caitlin. “She’s a crank. You know she hates our bungee-jump idea.”

“Yeah. She doesn’t want history disturbed,” I say. “And I kind of get that.” I don’t know why I’m defending the old librarian.

“Nah, it’s ’cause she’s too old to bounce on a bungee-jump rope. She’s jealous of us.” Caitlin and I both laugh at that.

“Shhh.” I hold up my hand. “Hear something?”

We go dead silent. I hear lapping water and two faint voices. I shudder. Phantoms of the doctor and leper kids?

We move out of the hospital ruins and stand onshore. Caitlin leans into me. I don’t like that she’s scared too.

Smack!
A tall dark figure holding a noose leaps from the water and knocks me down. Then starts howling.

I scream and flee into the frigid channel, ready to swim home. But the cold instantly gives me corpse legs.

As I back up, there’s deep laughter. A strange man leans down and pulls me aboard a barge.

“That was just Dad,” Caitlin calls out, giggling. “He was landing with the rope to tie up the boat, silly.”

“Chris,” says Dad from shore, “sorry to knock you over. But why’d you head into the water? This here’s Gord Plant, our engineer, by the way.”

Gord, a skinny man with a mop of red hair, has hold of my jacket. He’s laughing a belly laugh. “I thought you were going to do a polar-bear swim there for a second. Sure soaked your jeans and shoes, eh? Did you think we were ghosts?”

“What’re you doing on the island anyway?” Dad asks, looking from Caitlin to me. “You’d better not have come by the pipe, or you’re both grounded.”

“Aww, give ’em a break, Buzz,” Gord says. “Good to meet you, Chris and Caitlin. Chris, I’ll fetch a towel for you from the trailer.”

That’s when I see that the barge I’m on is hooked up to a towboat Dad was driving. Tied securely on the barge is a
scruffy little trailer. Gord’s home during the platform construction.

“H-h-hi,” I say, my burning face warming me. I drip onto the barge deck amid the noise of three people laughing at me once again. “Welcome to Hospital Island.”

Chapter Two

It’s lunchtime when I know Caitlin has said something at school about last night.

Two guys walk by with smirks. “Quick! Run into the water! They’re after you!”

Ten minutes later, Caitlin’s friends Bella and Anya cruise by, waving their arms and chanting like ghosts. “Owoooo! Ooooo! Boo!”

In the lunchroom half the school is walking stiffly, imitating zombies, then falling down and cracking up. Even my friend Tom and some of our gang have smeared their faces with paint.

“Tom, not you too,” I say. “Knock it off.”

“Aww, Chris, we’re just having a little fun.”

Right
. I offer a weak smile and sit down next to Tom. We chat for a while as we eat our sandwiches. Some of our other friends join us, done with the teasing.

But other students keep making digs as they pass our table.

“Sorry, guys,” I finally say. “I’m getting out of here.”

Tom grins like he understands. So I flee down the hall, my running shoes squeaking on the polished floor.

“Chris!” I crash into Mrs. Dubin. With terrible timing, she has just stepped out of the library. She wags a knobby
finger in my face. “No running in the halls.” Then her face softens. “Got some new books in on leprosy. For that school report. Hope you have a strong stomach. Shows people with claws for hands and horrible face sores.”

“Uh, thanks, Mrs. Dubin. Later,” I say.

I dodge past her and duck into the science room. No one’s in here. I slump into a desk. The students mocking me are jerks. All I did was wade into the water. How dare Caitlin say anything when she was just as spooked!

“Hey there, Chris.” A pair of polished brown shoes and the hem of a white lab coat move into view.

I sit up straight. “Um, hi, Mr. Roth.”

“Stopped in to work on your science-fair project during lunch hour? It’s coming along nicely.”

“Yeah.” I move hurriedly to my two-foot-wide suspension-bridge model.
It sits on a counter between other kids’ less ambitious projects.

“You’re a natural-born engineer, Chris. I’m impressed.”

I flush but lift my face and smile. “That’s what I want to be.”

“I’ve no doubt.”

He taps the suspender cables on my bridge model. “Perfect stiffness and aerodynamic profiling. This will last under high winds.”

“Thanks. I got the stainless-steel wire in the hardware store.”

“You achieved the balance between dead load, live load and dynamic load right.” This is a big compliment. It means I managed to counterbalance the bridge weight, traffic weight and the bridge’s ability to cope with wind and earthquakes.

BOOK: Bungee Jump
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