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Authors: Pam Withers

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BOOK: Bungee Jump
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“Well, I’ve finished relocating the electrics. The inspectors have okayed everything. And Chuck has done a second test jump. He needs someone your size to do one too. Then we have cleanup to tackle. And signs to put up. If we work really, really hard, then yes, it’s possible.”

“I’ll help!” Caitlin says quickly. “Maybe Mom too.”

Gord stands and nods. “Okay. Caitlin, can you load the empty paint cans into that truck over there? And after your jump, Chris, can you help
clear that pile of old girders down the bluff?”

“You bet!” says Caitlin, scampering away.

“For sure,” I promise. Then I follow Chuck to the platform and let him weigh me.

“It’s your big moment, Chris,” he says, giving me a smile that boosts my confidence.

I tug on the gloves he hands me. He adjusts the helmet’s chinstrap. He helps me into the harness. It fits snugly around my shoulders and waist. Then he lifts the heavy bungee rope and clips it onto the harness’s metal rectangle.

“Red footprints,” I say before he points. I’m shaking slightly as I shuffle toward them. I peer over the toes of my shoes to the water far below. I’m leaping down
? Tom’s dad has positioned his ketch near shore, ready to help in an emergency.

“Ready when you are, Chris,” Chuck declares.

My mouth is dry. My hands inside the gloves are moist. My heart is doing flip-flops from stomach to throat. My knees are threatening to buckle. I crack a smile and draw in a deep breath. I tell myself it’s just the high diving board at school.

“Here goes nothing,” I say. As I step off the platform, it feels like I’m leaping out of an airplane door.

I’m free-falling toward sparkling water. The descent sucks the air out of my lungs. My entire body tingles as it drops. The channel rushes up. For a split second I think I’m going to land right in it. Then my plunge slows. The cord stretches, stretches, stretches. Will it stop me in time?

Gently, it reaches its maximum stretchiness. Teasingly, it halts just before my shoes would touch water.
It yanks me back up. Up, up, up as Misty Passage grows smaller and smaller. And then, like a roller-coaster rider who has reached the top of an arch, I’m free-falling again. Screaming in delight this time.

“Whoopee! Yeaaaaaah!”

Three times, four times, the rope rebounds. Each time a little less distance. And then it’s all played out.

I hang limply. A puppet on a string. What if the device doesn’t pull me up? I could—

I am being lifted gently away from the water. It is like a ski lift or a glass elevator. The view is stunning. Have I ever really appreciated it before? The peninsula, our farm, the island. It’s all surrounded by quiet, tranquil water. Birds soar overhead. Did the peace and natural beauty help the leper kids?

The elevator keeps going up, up, up. Fifteen floors’ worth. Did I really
just fall all this way in a split second? The buzz in my body lingers. It was
. I want to do it again. I want everyone within a hundred miles to do it. I want opening day to be super incredibly amazing!

“Perfect,” Chuck says with a big grin as my feet touch the platform. He unhooks me.

“Next?” he says kiddingly to Gord.

“Don’t look at me!” Gord laughs. “Too much work to do.”

I’ve barely shed the harness when I head down the catwalk to help with the cleanup. I’ll get up early tomorrow and do more work before school. I’ll be here minutes after school every day. I’ll grab Tom and other friends to help. We’re going to make the deadline! No one and nothing—neither ghosts nor money problems—are going to stop us.

Chapter Fourteen

“Lucky it’s a full moon,” I say.

The trees, the channel and the path are bathed in eerie white. Caitlin and I have snuck out of the house. Mom’s sleeping. We’re headed up the bluff.

“So Mr. Roth told you exactly all the things to look at?”

“Yup, I’ve got a checklist.” The list from Mr. Roth left nothing out.
It included bringing a second harness that just arrived. I’m wearing that for fun. “Couldn’t do an inspection while Gord was there this afternoon. We’re making triple sure everything’s good to go for tomorrow.”

“Shhh. What’s that?” I hold up my hand to halt my sister. We’re nearing the bridge. I’m sure I hear footfalls.


“That’s the door to the pipe, isn’t it?” Caitlin whispers. “Gord must’ve forgotten to lock it. Or someone has broken in.”

“Someone has gone in there? They’re trying to hide. And they might have been messing with the mechanics!”


“What’s that?” Caitlin asks in a panicked voice.

“Someone trying to scare us,” I say. “A fake ghost we’re going to catch.”

I put my flashlight on full beam and sprint toward the pipe.

“Wait for me!” Caitlin cries.

I grab her hand. When we get there, sure enough, the door’s unlocked and ajar.

“We’re going in!” I say.
I am not afraid.
I’ve been working on the “cures” for claustrophobia that Mr. Roth told me about.
It’s just a pipe. Must catch this person.

We crawl along inside the pipe. My flashlight beam cuts through the dark. We stop and listen.

Bang! Click!

“The door!” Caitlin screams. “Someone shut it behind us!”

The shriek comes from outside the pipe. It’s more than one voice. Soon there are heavy footfalls above us. On the catwalk.

My chest tightens. I’m gasping for breath. I force myself to breathe slowly and concentrate.

Before, there were a few holes in the pipe. Places I could’ve seen out. Places
I could have punched my way through. But Gord and I patched all of them.

“We have to get to the door on the far end,” Caitlin says. I feel her shivering beside me.

“There’s also the middle hatch,” I say. The one Caitlin always bumps her head on. The one I always climbed over on my way to the other side.

“That has always been stuck,” Caitlin says.

“Well, I have some tools with me.” Lucky that Mr. Roth told me to bring some.

We crawl to the hatch. Caitlin holds the flashlight. I chip away with my crowbar and screwdriver.

“Watch out!” Caitlin screams.

I jump back just in time. The rusty bottom half of the hatch falls heavily.

“Huh?” I mumble. There’s a rusty box at my feet. Hidden inside the hatch for who knows how many years.

Caitlin grabs my screwdriver and pries it open.

” We stare as our beam reveals hundreds of coins and dollar bills.

“The cash box!” we say at the same time.

“Hello?” comes a voice from above us. “Who’s in there?”

“Gord!” we shout in relief. “We’re trapped in the pipe! Can you get the top of the hatch open?”

He pries open the hatch, grunting. I’ve never been so happy to feel night air against my face. The moon lights up the box in our hands.

“What in heaven’s name are you doing in there? And at this time of night? What’s that?” he asks while lowering an arm to help Caitlin up first.

“An old box full of money!” Caitlin says excitedly. “Maybe the one that the doctor—”

“Seriously?” he interrupts. He releases her hand to grab the box and lifts it up to his chest. “Let me take care of this, kids. I’ll get it to the proper authorities.”

“Hey!” Caitlin shouts as he disappears. We hear his footfalls on the catwalk, racing toward Hospital Island.

Shock and silence reign between us. The moon slides behind a cloud.

“He’s coming back, right?” my sister asks in a small voice.

“I don’t know,” I say, thoughts tumbling over one another. “But either way, we can get out now.”

And yet, as I lower cupped hands to give her a leg up, the top of the hatch door crashes down with startling force.

“Oh no!” Caitlin cries out.

“Don’t worry,” I reassure her between gritted teeth. “I’ll get it open again.”

“But why didn’t Gord help us out?” Caitlin asks, a tremor in her voice.

“Maybe he doesn’t care about us,” I say. “I’m thinking he was after that money all along.”

I grab the crowbar and slam it against the hatch door. “The metal detector. The sloppy work. The way he told Dad he’d work for less than other engineers. Maybe he never really cared about the bungee jump or—”

“—us,” Caitlin finishes for me. “We have to get the hatch open again. Or run for the far door.”

“I’ll—get—this—open.” I apply one tool after another. Finally, I get some lift. I push with all my strength. At first it resists. Then it flies open so fast I lose my balance. I topple into Caitlin. But four strong arms reach in and lift the two of us out.

The next thing I know, we’re out of the pipe and on the catwalk. Right beside the platform. Between Mrs. Dubin and Craven. The moon behind them has turned them into spooky silhouettes.

Chapter Fifteen

“Th-th-thank you,” Caitlin stutters, gawking at our rescuers.

“We told you and told you,” Mrs. Dubin says, her hold on my wrist so tight that it hurts. “Okay, tie them up, son.”

“You bet, Mom,” says Craven.

Craven is Mrs. Dubin’s
? Whoa, no one ever told me that. Does anyone even know? I try to yank my
hand away to run, but Craven is bigger and faster. In seconds, he has Caitlin and me bound together midbody—Caitlin’s back to my chest—with a rope he was carrying. He tosses us roughly to the floor of the platform. Caitlin cries out. The back of my head hits the platform. My back ends up arched painfully over the hard coil of bungee rope. We’re tied tightly together, but at least our hands are free.

Twisting my head, I see the cash box beside Mrs. Dubin’s pointy black boots.

“Where’s Gord?” I ask, trying to sound calm.

“Craven took care of him,” the librarian says with an ominous smile. “He was greedy and conniving, your engineer.”

“You took the box from him,” I say. Doesn’t that make
greedy and conniving? “So the doctor really did take money from the leper kids.”

“No one will ever prove that,” Mrs. Dubin says, leaning down and putting her face in mine. “My mother and father gave everything for those kids. My father even gave his life. Yes, the doctor and nurse. My parents.”

Caitlin and I are speechless.

“So you’ve been searching for the box all these years?” I say. “Trying to scare people off so you’d find it before them?”

“Wrong. Keeping people away to let the innocent souls and my father rest in peace,” she says. “With no smudged reputation.”

In other words, she didn’t want anyone to find it. If they did, they’d know her father had been stealing. It occurs to me for the first time that she might intend to kill Caitlin and me.

I may not be able to struggle up, but the old lady can’t see what my hands are doing behind my back. I maneuver them to grasp the bungee rope.

“You slammed the board down on the hot tub when Caitlin was in it?” I ask.

“That was me,” Craven says proudly.

“And wailed during the picnic and earlier tonight?”

“That was me,” Craven says proudly again.

“And trapped us in the pipe just now?”

“Both of us,” Mrs. Dubin replies curtly.

“But you never knew the doctor hid the box in the hatch? Not before we found it tonight?”

“What box?” Mrs. Dubin roars. She pushes through the gate and stands on the red footprints. She opens the box and lifts out a fistful of money.

So she got the box away from Gord before he could get the money

She lets coins and paper money drop from her fingers. Then she tips the entire
contents out. Money fills the air. It rains down to Misty Passage. To sink forever. Finally, she heaves the empty box off the bridge.

“Oh!” Caitlin exclaims.

“Those stories of a box were nothing but nasty rumors,” she declares.

She never wanted the money. She just wanted people to admire her father.

She comes back through the gate and steps over us. She stands on the platform, arms crossed. “My father didn’t deserve nasty rumors.”

“Did he fall or commit suicide?” I dare to ask. I’m busy grasping the bungee rope’s metal rectangle.

Mrs. Dubin kicks me with one of her pointed boots, prompting Caitlin to scream. The kick shoves us closer to the gate.

She bends down again to put her ugly face beside mine. Her breath smells sour. “He fell during a delirious fever,”
she says. “So sad. He gave his life for the hospital.”

“Then your mother ran away and had you,” I say. Behind my back, I quietly click the bungee clip to my harness.

“Your interest in history is admirable,” she says. “But you went too far. Craven, it’s time.”

She turns and stomps back to the catwalk. Caitlin shuts her eyes. I wince as Craven’s big body looms over us. “Have a nice fall,” he says and laughs.

“I’ve got you!” I whisper to my sister. And I wrap my arms around her with all my strength.

His kick would impress a professional football scout. We skid under the platform gate and over the red footprints. We fly off the board. Caitlin’s scream deafens me. Her small hands are clenched around my wrists.

“One thousand, two thousand, three—” I count.
Caitlin screams again.
I smile. We’re traveling up, up, up. And down. A couple of rebounds and we’re hanging limply, no movement. But what if Craven or his mother cuts the rope from above?

Swish, swish
. Out of the darkness, Craven’s rowboat comes at us.
No way.
He didn’t have time to run down and get in it already.

Swish, swish
. A crumpled-up man is working the oars. Cursing like he’s in pain.

He reaches us. He positions the boat so that we’re dangling over it. He stands and lifts a knife. Caitlin opens her mouth, but a third scream doesn’t come.

“Don’t cut it!” I order Gord. “Unhook it instead. Or the rope will be damaged for tomorrow.”

His face is bloodied where Craven’s fist landed. He’s cradling a rib with one curled-up hand.

“Smart thinking, Chris,” he says. He eases our weight onto his shoulders for a second. Then unclips us.
. We fall into the boat, still tied up.

BOOK: Bungee Jump
13.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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