Authors: Frank Peretti
Tags: #ebook, #book
THE COOPER KIDS ADVENTURE SERIES
The Legend of Annie Murphy
The Deadly Curse of Toco-Rey
The Secret of the Desert Stone
(Available from Crossway Books)
Trapped at the Bottom of the Sea
The Tombs of Anak
Escape from the Island of Aquarius
The Door in the Dragon's Throat
THE COOPER KIDS
Â© 1996 by Frank E. Peretti
All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any meansâelectronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, scanning, or otherâexcept for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
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Scripture quotations are from the
International Children's Bible
New Century Version
, Â©1986, 1988, 1999 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Peretti, Frank E.
The legend of Annie Murphy / Frank E. Peretti.
p. cm. â (The Cooper Kids Adventure Series
Summary: The Coopers become involved in a murder mystery that finds them caught between the present and the past, following clues
that are carved in the stone cliffs around a ghost town.
[1. Space and timeâFiction. 2. GhostsâFiction.
3. West (U.S.)âFiction.] I. Title. II. Series: Peretti, Frank E. The
Cooper Kids Adventure Series
; bk. 7.
Printed in the United States of America
09 10 11 12 13 QW 12 11 10 9 8
t took a dareâa
dareâfor Pete and Jim to get Mannie and Kyle to camp overnight with them in the middle of the old graveyard. Pete was fourteen and had made the dare. Jim was thirteen. Mannie and Kyle, who were both ten, took the dare and were scared before they'd even finished hiking to the place. Spending the night in a graveyard was spooky enough, but this was the cemetery above the old ghost town of Bodine, Arizona. Every kid in that part of the country had heard the weird tales about what had happened there a hundred years ago.
“She cut him up into little pieces with a long butcher knife . . .”
They were huddled around a campfire on the low, barren hillside above Bodine, surrounded on all sides by craggy, canyon cliffs that looked ready to fall in on them. The sun was long gone. The moon was just coming up. The moment was right for the retellingâand stretchingâof Bodine's scary legends. Kyle and Mannie sat motionless and wide-eyed as Pete leaned forward and spoke in hushed, secretive tones across the campfire.
“The next night she came back, and this time she wanted the sheriff. He woke up, and there she was, standing in his bedroom. She still had the knife.”
Mannie moaned in fear.
“And nobody knows what happened to the sheriff that night. All they know is, they found his body the next morning on Annie Murphy's grave. He was cold and dead and looked like he'd been scared to death.”
Kyle made a face. “Did that really happen?”
Pete only gave a slight shrug. “Not too long ago, some people camped up here and accidentally camped on Annie Murphy's grave. And the next morning, they were dead, just like the sheriff.”
Mannie cocked his head. “No way.”
“I don't believe you.”
Pete immediately threw it to Jim. “Just ask Jim.”
Jim nodded grimly. “You know Tony Merritt? It was his uncle and aunt.”
Kyle and Mannie bought it and then fell silent as gruesome images played in their heads.
“We're not camping on Annie's grave, are we?”
Kyle wanted to know.
They heard a far-off sound.
?” Mannie whispered.
Coyotes were prowling somewhere amid the rocks and cliffs. Their yaps and howls carried on the dry desert wind like the giggly scheming of demons in the dark.
Pete gave a sigh of relief. “
! I thought it was Annie Murphy! She's been seen up here, you know. People say she's still around, looking for somebody else to kill. Sometimes people can see her face in the cliffs. They say that late at night you can look up at those cliffs and see her up there, looking back at you, watching you.”
“We're not camping on her grave, are we?” Kyle asked again.
Pete spoke with the utmost concern as he glanced about. “Boy . . . I don't know. We
Kyle took a look over Pete's shoulder at the towering cliffs beyond and let out a muffled cry. “I see her!”
Mannie was all eyes now. “Where?”
Kyle pointed. “Right there! Right up there in that cliff!”
Mannie started to whimper, his hand to his mouth. “I see her too! It's her! It's Annie Murphy!”
Pete turned around to look, glad they couldn't see the smile he was trying to hold back. If he wasn't careful, he'd burst out laughing and ruin everything. “I don't see anything . . .” His voice trailed off.
“Right there!” Kyle insisted.
Jim came close and muttered to Pete, “Maybe we should tell 'em the truth. They're getting pretty scared.”
“Weird . . .” was all Pete said, staring toward the cliffs.
“What . . .” Jim started to ask, but then he saw it too.
“Can she see us?” Mannie begged to know.
“Man, it looks just like her!” Pete exclaimed.
In the light of the rising moon, the cliff looked cold, dead, and chalky white, its every crack and furrow starkly defined by black, sharply edged shadows. In the center of the cliff, outlined by the shadows and highlighted by glaring moonlight, was the shape of a woman.
Pete looked away for an instant, then looked again. It was still there, and it took no imagination to see it.
“You see it?” Pete asked.
“Oh yeah,” Jim answered, a chill in his voice.
She was at least a hundred feet tall, clothed in a long dress. Her hair reached past her shoulders, and she had her hands clasped over her heart. She was looking down at them, her face filled with sadness.
Kyle was crying and tugging at Pete's arm. “Let's get out of here!”
Pete wanted to say there was nothing to be afraid of, but he couldn't. He was afraid.
“Hey guys,” said Jim, his voice a little shaky, “it's just a natural rock formation. It's . . .”
Was that the cry of a coyote? It had to be.
Kyle and Mannie started wailing in fear.
“Quiet!” Pete scolded.
There it was again. But it wasn't a coyote. It sounded like a woman crying, calling. It sounded faint but seemed close. Somewhere just up the hill to their rightâ
They all saw it at the same time: a dim, bluish shape moving toward them over the top of the hill, a woman with long hair and a long dress blowing in the wind. She was running, moving in eerie slow motion, her arms outstretched. Her face was etched with fear, her mouth forming words they couldn't understand but could hear ever so faintly. The image wavered, dimmed, brightened, floated over the ground.
They were halfway down the hill before they even realized they were running, before they even tried to think about what they had seen or where they were going. Mannie was in a blind panic, screaming one long, endless scream. Pete was carrying Kyle, who had fainted. Jim was the only one who looked back, and each time he did, the woman was still there, still reaching toward them, still crying out.
In the pink light of early morning the canyon did not seem spooky at all, but beautiful. Like a Grand Canyon in miniature, its deep, jagged gorge stretched several miles long, carved out by an ancient river through rust-colored rock. Sagebrush and cacti carpeted the gently rolling canyon floor. Overhead, hawks and eagles soared on the updrafts against a blue, cloudless sky.
Professor Richard MacPherson's jeep looked like a tiny insect in this setting, bouncing and rumbling along the dusty road that ran up the floor of the canyon.
“The boys' parents were camping just below the hill, but they didn't see anything,” he was explaining over the noise of the jeep. “They figured the boys had gotten themselves so worked up with ghost stories that they were imagining things. They checked out the boys' story the next day. Needless to say, things looked a lot different in the daylight.”
Dr. Jacob Cooper, his wide-brimmed hat securely in place to shade his eyes, was riding in the passenger seat. He listened to his friend “Mac” finish the story of the terrified campers. “So the parents weren't convinced?”
Mac smiled with amusement. “No, not at all, and that's the way it's been with folks around here. As far as they're concerned, the ghost town of Bodine is full of legends. But that's all they are, just legends, stuff for outsiders and kids to get excited about.” Then he added with a glint in his eye, “But now I'm not so sure.”
Dr. Cooper looked at Mac and raised an eyebrow.
Mac responded, “Jake, I tracked you down because I need another opinion. You're an archaeologist. You've worked with stone carvings, hieroglyphics, patterns, and images carved in rock by ancient civilizations. I know you can tell me if I'm right, or crazy, or what.”
Dr. Cooper's two kids were riding in the back, and they'd been listening. Fourteen-year-old Jay shouted a question over the roar and rumble of the jeep. “You mean, there might really be something carved in the cliff?”
Professor MacPherson called over his shoulder as he kept driving, “If the angle of the light is right and you're standing in just the right spot, you can see somethingâat least, that's the way it looks to me. I want to know what you think.”
Jay shot a glance at his thirteen-year-old sister Lila. She gave him that funny little half-smile that showed she was intrigued, just like he was. An old ghost town with a real ghost? A mysterious image carved in a cliff? They'd interrupted their vacation in the Grand Canyon to be here, but this was starting to sound more exciting.
“How much farther?” Lila asked.
“We're almost there,” said Mac. “Bodine's just around that bend.”
Jay and Lila began to study the weathered cliffs above them with different eyes. These cliffs had been around a long time, through eons of driving rain, sand-blasting wind, and scorching sun. Their tired old faces bore a myriad of different shapes and patterns that could look like any number of things if you used your imagination. Was the mysterious image of a woman just another random stone shape that a human eye could make into something?
The road made a lazy turn around a tower of rock and brought them to a wide, level spot on the canyon floor. A dry creek bed ran through it.
Mac drove slowly. “This is it.”
Jay and Lila looked in every direction. To the right they could see a dismal pile of gray, weathered boards that could have once been a cabin. On the other side they saw a squarish pattern of stone and concrete amid the sagebrush, possibly an old foundation.