So, I’m finally posting ASK! Shayne will be narrating from here on. Enjoy.
“Ginny! Where did you put my shoes?” I yelled as I strode down the hall to her room.
“I put them back in your room,” the younger of my two sisters called back.
“They aren’t there,” I said as I entered Ginny’s room and put my hands on my hips. “Why can’t you borrow anything without losing it?”
“What’s all the yelling about?” my other sister, Natalie asked, poking her dark brown head in the doorway.
“Ginny lost my gray Converse. Again,” I said, rolling my eyes at Ginny.
“No, she didn’t. You left them by the front door yesterday.”
Seriously? I forgot that? And of course, Natalie would remind me. She always tried to fix other people’s problems.
“Oops,” I said and passed Natalie to retrieve them.
“You should try to stop yelling at her,” Natalie said, following me down the hall and downstairs. “Most of the time you yell at her, it’s for something you forgot.”
“I’m just a bit stressed, okay? Aunt Lorelei is gonna be here in ten minutes and I’m not even half packed.”
Natalie shrugged and walked away. I rolled my eyes and sighed. Natalie always told me to do something or other, despite my two years seniority.
I went to the front door, picked up my sneakers, and then raced to my room to keep packing. Our dad’s sister, Aunt Lorelei, invited the three of us girls to go on a cruise. Even though I’d anticipated it for weeks, I forgot we were leaving that day. Natalie, the ever-prepared one, packed a week in advance and helped Ginny do the same. She reminded me, but I had other things to do at the time, like message my best friend on Facebook. The doorbell rang just as I zipped my duffle.
Hi, Lorelei!” Mom’s voice echoed up the stairs. I grabbed my duffle and carry-on. As I headed downstairs, I listened to my mom and dad chatting with Aunt Lorelei. The contrast between Dad and Aunt Lorelei’s Texas accents and Mom’s Scottish one made me smile. Though Dad and his sister were both from Texas, their family had moved to California when they were teenagers because of my grandpa’s job. But after my grandparents passed away and Dad met Mom, they decided to stay in California, Dad because of Mom, and Aunt Lorelei because Dad is her only relative.
Both my parents stood by the front door with Aunt Lorelei.
“I saw on the weather channel that the next few days are supposed to be rainy. I hope the gray skies clear up for you,” Mom said.
“Yeah, that would be good,” Aunt Lorelei said. Then when she saw me, she said, “Ah, all packed, I see.”
“Yep, just in time. I forgot it was today,” I said.
“You’ve always been forgetful like that, Shayne,” Dad said as he put his arm around me. “Good thing you’re good lookin’ like your father, or we mighta sold you to the drug cartel.”
Mom giggled as I wrinkled my nose at Dad.
Natalie and Ginny raced down the stairs, suitcases in hand.
“Hi, Aunt Lorelei!” Natalie said, dropping her suitcase and giving Aunt Lorelei a hug.
“Hey, y’all!” Aunt Lorelei said, hugging Natalie. “Let’s go put your stuff in the car, then we’ll come back to say goodbye.”
She led us outside to her shiny aqua blue Camaro and popped the trunk with her fob. We put our luggage inside, and then walked back to the house.
“Have a good time and be safe,” Mom said as she hugged me.
“I’m sure we’ll all have a great time,” Aunt Lorelei said, hugging Dad. If only she’d been right.
After we girls hugged our parents about three times each, we headed for the car.
“I call shotgun!” I yelled and raced to the passenger seat door.
Aunt Lorelei laughed. Once in the car, Aunt Lorelei put on her large sunglasses, turned on the air and cranked up the country music. Aunt Lorelei was cool. Not only could she pull off those shades amazingly with her blonde bob but she wore stylish, expensive clothes, drove a Camaro, my favorite kind of car, and she was taking us on a cruise. I wanted to be just like her.
“We should pray for safety before we leave,” Natalie said.
“Good idea, Nat,” Aunt Lorelei said as she turned the music off. “Go ahead.”
As she prayed, my mind drifted to what we would do on the cruise. Yeah, I accepted Jesus as my Savior at VBS at age seven, but God didn’t matter much to me any more. After seven years, church and Christianity just got old and boring.
After Natalie said, “Amen,” Aunt Lorelei turned the music back on and said, “Okay, let’s do this thing.”
We drove about thirty minutes to the pier. Aunt Lorelei parked, and we got out and unloaded our luggage. Then, we joined the masses of people heading toward the cruise terminal.
“Okay, girls, we’re going to give our luggage to one of these porters over here. They’ll bring it to our rooms,” Aunt Lorelei said.
Aunt Lorelei had enough money that this wasn’t her first cruise. She knew the drill. When we reached the porters, we handed our duffles and suitcases to one of them, but kept our carry-ons with us. We thanked the porter, Aunt Lorelei gave him a tip, and we moved with the rest of the crowd to a building. Inside, we stood in a long line. Once our turn, each of us had to let them search our carry-ons. Then, we had to step through a metal detector. Our earrings set it off, because all of us except Ginny wore them. When the security guards realized that was all, they let us through. Then, Aunt Lorelei handed our passports, her credit card, and some other papers I didn’t pay much attention to, to a uniformed man at a desk to our left. After a few minutes of looking the documents over and doing something on a computer, he said, “All right, ladies, you’re all good. Welcome to the Pacific Mermaid.”
We left the building and another worker showed us where to board the cruise ship. Once up the ramp, we walked through a kind of open, roofed hallway on the outside of the ship, then through a hallway inside the ship. After that, we stepped through large glass double doors into the most luxurious, huge place I’ve ever seen. Crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling and red and gold jacquard carpet covered the floor. Matching red couches sat around the room, most filled with people.
We went to the safety drill so, as the ship staff told us, we would know what to do in the unlikely event of an emergency. Then, we decided to go to the pool. Aunt Lorelei warned us ahead of time to pack our swimsuits in our carry-ons since the ship’s staff would send the rest to our rooms.
As we made our way to the pool, a lady in a floppy sunhat bumped my side with some of her overabundant bags. She acted like she didn’t even notice. I turned to look at her, scowling. She scolded a brown-haired boy about Ginny’s age with more bags to be careful not to break her stuff.
I gave the boy a sympathetic smile, and then kept walking.
The water felt so good. I love swimming. The crowdedness of the pool didn’t stop me from having a good time. My sisters and I went down the five huge waterslides several times. I don’t like heights, but waterslides are the exception. Who can resist the awesomeness of waterslides? Well, Aunt Lorelei can. She said she was too old for that kind of thing. But people older than her went down the waterslides. She just didn’t know what she was missing. While we kept riding the waterslides, Aunt Lorelei sat in one of the chairs around the pool, tanning and chatting with a woman with long blonde hair. Aunt Lorelei waved to me. The woman said something to her, she responded, and the woman waved, too. I waved back. The boat set off while we swam. A few hours later, it started to rain, so we wrapped in our towels and followed Aunt Lorelei to our rooms for showers. One of us would share a room with her, and the other two would have the other room.
“It doesn’t matter to me who goes where,” Aunt Lorelei said.
“Could I share with you, Aunt Lorelei?” Natalie said.
I groaned inside. “Aunt Lorelei, couldn’t I share with you?” I said.
“No, Natalie asked first. There’ll probably be another time when you can share with me,” Aunt Lorelei said.
“Okay,” I said, annoyed. I would rather have shared a room with Aunt Lorelei or even Natalie than Ginny.
Aunt Lorelei gave me the key to our room, and we went in. It had brown carpet, two twin beds, a round window centered on the same wall as the bed headboards, and a large dresser with a mirror. We had to sort the luggage around, because whoever delivered it put it all in our room. Then, we took showers. Both bedrooms had their own bathroom. While Ginny showered, I got my stuff unpacked. Might as well use the dresser, since we’d be in there for a week.
“Can I borrow your brush?” Ginny asked, coming out of the bathroom and rubbing her hair with a towel.
“Didn’t you bring your own?”
“I’m not sure where I packed it.”
“Fine, just don’t lose it,” I said as I grabbed it from my bag and handed it to her.
She brushed her wet red hair straight, braided it, and then handed the brush back.
“Thanks,” she said.
“Did you leave me any space in the dresser?” Ginny asked.
“No. First come, first served. I’m going to go shower.”
After a delicious dinner of steak, loaded baked potatoes, and salad, we went to the concert hall, where a music group performed. The huge place could probably hold at least a thousand people in its soft burgundy seats, and a huge stage stood at the front.
The music wasn’t my type, being country, but Aunt Lorelei loved it. She and Dad only listened to country. After the concert, we went back to Natalie and Aunt Lorelei’s room. We played some Dutch Blitz, about the only thing Ginny and I both liked, because of our determination to beat each other. Stubborn and competitive Scottish blood, I guess.
After that, we headed to bed.
“Shaynie, can I borrow your pink headband tomorrow?” Ginny asked, pulling up her covers.
“Didn’t you pack anything?” I asked as I flipped the light off.
“I don’t have a pink headband and the outfit I’m wearing tomorrow is pink.”
“As a matter of fact, I forgot to bring it.” I sighed as I got into bed. No matter how hard I tried, I always forgot something.
“Did you bring your pink barrettes?”
“No. You lost them five months ago, or had you forgotten? If you always want to borrow my stuff, why don’t you just buy your own? Then, if you lose it, I won’t care.”
Ginny turned toward the wall, and from the way she breathed, I could tell she was trying not to cry.
“It’s fine, Shayne,” she cut me off. “I’ll just do something else with my hair tomorrow.” She stayed quiet for a minute, but then she said, “Good night.”
“Good night.” I shouldn’t have exploded on her. After all, she didn’t make money babysitting all the time like I did so she could buy stuff. But she did lose things sometimes. I didn’t want the stuff I put my money into getting lost.
“Hey, Shayne, wake up!”
I opened my eyes to find Ginny’s hazel ones inches from my face.
“Dude, Ginny! Personal space!” I said, pushing her away and sitting up.
“I tried to wake you up, but nothing works except yelling in your face. Anyway, Aunt Lorelei says to get up because breakfast is in half an hour.”
I got up and got ready, and then we headed to the dining hall.
After breakfast, Aunt Lorelei made us play shuffleboard. I thought only old people liked it, but it wasn’t too bad. After that, we headed for the arcade, Natalie’s choice. Suddenly the ship lurched and threw us forward and against a wall. My scream joined the screams of others.
A yell of, “We’re sinking!” echoed through the ship.
The four of us grabbed each others’ hands. The ship lurched again, causing us to let go of each other and bang into the walls.
“God, protect us,” Aunt Lorelei prayed out loud.
A man over a loudspeaker said, “Everyone please remain calm. The engine of the ship has malfunctioned in such a way that the ship can no longer sail. It’s storming, and this has already caused damage to the ship because the ocean floor is very rocky. Everyone please stay calm and come to the main deck for evacuation. Be advised that it is raining, so be careful to follow the instructions of the ship staff.”
“That’s really weird. Cruise ships don’t tend to get problems like that. Come on, girls,” Aunt Lorelei said, moving ahead and leading us down the hall to the main deck.
It was hard to walk, because the ship kept swaying. Some people tried to comfort small children who cried, but they looked just as worried and scared as the children. I couldn’t help being scared myself.
“Girls, don’t worry. We’ll get in a life raft and everything will be fine,” Aunt Lorelei said.
The ship’s crew distributed life jackets to the passengers and gave instructions as to how to enter the life rafts. At our turn, they gave us life jackets. As we put them on, they told us to jump into the chute one by one, and get out of the way of the chute right away. They said not to leave the life raft and to remain calm because help would arrive soon. They also warned us that since it was raining, we should huddle together for warmth. We went down the chute and found seats in the life raft amongst some twenty other passengers. I noticed that boy and his rude mother I saw earlier sitting in one corner of the life raft. Icy rain fell on us. Wind rocked the raft and blew straight through my clothes. Ginny huddled against me, digging her chin into my shoulder. I elbowed her.
“Personal space,” I said.
Ginny stopped leaning on me, and leaned against Natalie on her other side. I hoped help would come soon.
Aaaand, that’s the end of part 1! What do you think? This was the longest part, but I hope there were enough pictures to keep your interest.
-Shayne (And MorganAshley)
The sky darkened and the rain pelted harder. Several orange life rafts bobbed furiously in the stormy waves. Unless looking for our rescue, I ducked over to avoid the rain as much as possible, which didn’t help much. The wind drove us farther and farther from the cruise ship, as the violent waves dashed it to pieces. Waves beat against the life rafts, throwing water into them. I screamed when a cold wave hit my back. I think by then, everyone was soaked through. A huge wave overturned several life rafts, dumping their passengers into the Pacific. The people struggled to stay above water. Even though they wore life jackets, the violence of the waves made it hard for them. Some grabbed onto broken pieces of the ship to keep them afloat. People in the life rafts paddled toward the swimmers, using either their hands or broken pieces of the ship that they grabbed from the water. With the waves against us, it took a while to reach the people. By the time a life raft reached people, several already had drowned.
Saving people almost seemed hopeless. We just tried to reach as many people as we could. Aunt Lorelei and I reached out and each grabbed one of a woman’s hands. We pulled her in, careful not to make the life raft tip. Then, a red haired, green-eyed man and Aunt Lorelei pulled another woman in. I looked out at the water. Five people to be rescued still.
“Hurry up and paddle!” the man said.
We all paddled toward them. The man pulled another man into the raft. I stretched out my hand to the blonde woman I recognized from talking with Aunt Lorelei at the pool the day before. After pulling her up, I reached for another woman, but a wave sent her under, and she didn’t come back up. That wave also sent more water into the raft. I shivered, partly from the cold, partly from the sight of all the floating dead bodies. It didn’t look like anyone outside a life raft was alive. The waves kept capsizing the life rafts, sending their passengers into the ocean. Those still in rafts constantly struggled to stay aboard and rescue as many fallen passengers as possible. Waves poured over us, and then a huge wave turned our raft over. I paddled to the surface and took a deep breath. The man who sat near us in the raft trod water about two yards in front of me. He grabbed the raft and tried to turn it right side up. I felt the water rushing past me and knew a huge wave must be gathering behind me. I coughed and took a breath just before the wave crashed over me. I struggled to get above water, but another wave must have come, because I sank. The water stung my eyes. I ran out of breath way too quickly. I thought I’d die. I swam up as hard as I could and just in time, I reached the surface. I gulped in the wet, salty air. I shoved my hair out of my face and searched frantically for the life raft and my family. Our raft, now right-side-up, had Natalie and a few other people inside. No sign of Ginny or Aunt Lorelei. I swam the best I could toward the raft, but waves kept pushing me under, and I seemed to keep coming up farther from the raft. I constantly struggled to get above water, get the water and my hair out of my eyes, and breathe. I knew I would drown. Fighting the waves took so much energy. I knew at any moment I wouldn’t have any strength left.
“Help!” I screamed, swallowing some water. I coughed and tried to reach the raft, with no avail.
“Save your energy! We’ll come to you!” the man said. I barely heard over the wind. The life jacket didn’t help much. How much longer would it be till I died? Finally, the raft got to me and hands reached out to me. I reached and people grabbed me and pulled me in. I tried to catch my breath, relieved to no longer have to fight every second for my life. I looked at the people in the raft. The woman from the pool, another woman with black hair, the man, Natalie, and that boy sat inside.
“Has anyone seen Ginny and Aunt Lorelei?” I asked.
Natalie shook her head, worry all over her face, but just then, a scream echoed over the waves. I looked toward the direction it came from and to my relief, about the length of two semi trucks away, I made out two heads bobbing above the water, one blonde and one red.
“Hurry! We have to save them!” I shouted to the others, suddenly gaining energy at the fact that I had to save my family.
We all paddled hard. I grabbed a piece of the ship from the water beside me and used it as a paddle. I knew my aunt and sister couldn’t stay afloat much longer. When we finally got to them, the sight of them holding onto a piece of the ship relieved me. That probably saved their lives. We pulled them in. I grabbed Aunt Lorelei in a hug. Then, I reached over and hugged Ginny. I was so relieved they weren’t dead. We looked around for others, but all the bodies floating in sight were obviously dead. None of the other life rafts were occupied. The waves kept rushing at us, throwing our raft in all directions. We clung to that raft. I think everyone hoped as much as I did that we didn’t get thrown into the water again.
The storm went on for I don’t even know how long, but it calmed down a little bit and thankfully, we managed to stay in the raft. Eventually, the rain stopped pouring, and the waves became gentle ripples. The sun peeked out from behind a cloud. With the sudden calm, I fell asleep.
(I don’t own this photo.)
Sorry there weren’t many pictures. It’s not really something you take photos during, really.
I awoke shivering. My clothes still weren’t dry. I sat up from leaning on Aunt Lorelei’s shoulder and rubbed my sore neck. I wondered why no help came yet. I looked around. Everyone in the life raft was awake, but no one said anything. The many bodies, life rafts, and pieces of the ship dwindled to only a few overnight. I assumed they must have floated away or sank. Off in the distance, to the right of the raft, I could have sworn I saw land.
“Hey, guys, is that land up there?” I said, pointing.
Aunt Lorelei turned to the right and looked where I pointed.
“You know, Shayne, I think you’re right!” She looked around at everyone else. “Guys, does that look like land to you?”
The other people looked.
“I think it is. Let’s paddle toward it,” the blonde lady said.
Using our hands or whatever metal pieces from the ship we found still floating around, we paddled slowly but surely toward land. It took us somewhere between 45 minutes and an hour to reach a beach. Beyond the beach grew a thick forest, and a mountain peeked over the treetops. I got out of the raft and plopped onto the sand. I lay on my back and just rested.
Aunt Lorelei and Natalie thanked God aloud. The rest lay on the sand near me, except the man and the black-haired woman, who pulled the raft far enough onto the beach for it not to get taken away by the tide. Then they collapsed onto the sand with the rest of us. I fell asleep again.
When I woke, the sun just peeked over the horizon. The sunset colored the sky orange and purple. I sat up. Everyone else sat around a fire a couple yards away. My skin burned. I guess I got sunburned while lying there. I wished I’d thought of that earlier.
“Aah!” one of the women screamed as I approached.
“What’s wrong?” Aunt Lorelei asked.
I sat down next to Aunt Lorelei as the blonde lady said in the most disgusting, high-pitched, whiny voice I ever heard, “These mosquitoes are just dreadful! I can’t stand bugs! Why are they still attacking me when there’s a fire?”
I already didn’t like her. I couldn’t stand her voice. Maybe that was mean.
“Shayne, you haven’t met everyone yet,” Aunt Lorelei said and motioned to each person as she said their name.
She motioned to the black-haired lady. “This is Daniella.”
Next the blonde lady. “Caroline.”
After her, the man. “This is Liam.”
And finally, the boy. “And this is Rupert.”
“Hi, I’m Shayne,” I said.
“Hi,” the two ladies responded, Caroline still swatting around her face. Mikaio nodded, and Rupert straightened his round glasses, and then waved.
“Here, Shayne, eat some of these,” Aunt Lorelei said, handing me a baseball cap full of berries. I thanked her and put some in my mouth. The idea of eating out of someone else’s sweaty old hat made me cringe, but my hunger overcame that. At least the berries were pretty good.
“Where did you get these?” I asked.
“I found them, and gathered them in my hat. Since I’m a Webelos Cub Scout, I know what kinds of plants are safe to eat. And if there are any animals around here, we can eat them, too,” Rupert said.
“What in the world is a Webe-what?” I asked.
“Webelos Cub Scout. It’s what you are right before you become a Boy Scout. You can’t be an actual Boy Scout till you’re ten. Well, not you, but you know, a boy.”
“Well, good,” said Aunt Lorelei. “With your experience, Rupert, you’ll definitely be a help.”
Rupert smiled a super conceited-looking smile.
“Does anyone have anything to kill animals with?” I asked.
“Well, some things from the crash washed up onto the shore. There are a couple knives,” Aunt Lorelei said. “We put everything in a community pile so everybody can use them if they just happen to need them. Not that a lot of the stuff is super useful.”
“What’s in the pile and where is it?” I asked.
“We put it over next to the life raft,” she said, pointing. “A deflated floaty ring, a few ship pieces, a wooden cutting board, a broken CD case, a bedpost, and three knives with sheaths.”
“Well, I certainly wouldn’t use a knife. I couldn’t dream of killing an animal. That’s so gross and cruel!” Caroline said.
“So, Rupert, do you have any parents?” Aunt Lorelei asked, ignoring Caroline.
“But what about the woman on the boat with you?” I asked.
“Oh, you mean my foster mom. My real mom died a few months after my seventh birthday. Then I got put into foster care with this awful woman named Miss Queenie. See, she doesn’t let me have or do anything, except Scouts. She only took me on the cruise because I won it in a sweepstakes. I needed a parent or guardian and she wanted to go, but she wouldn’t have taken me unless she had to. She would have made me stay with her mother, Miss Prudence.”
“Is Miss Prudence any better than Miss Queenie?” Ginny asked.
“No! She’s so old and she has twenty cats and she made me memorize all their names and which ones are which, and she calls me ‘sonny boy’ and her house stinks.”
“What are their names?” Natalie asked.
“Watson, Gladys, Elliot Ness, Matilda, Archibald Hammerstein the third, Oscar Schnarfenbergendorf, Ralphie, Jehoshaphat, John Peter Gabriel Muhlenberg-”
“Okay, I’ve heard enough,” I said.
“Aren’t they horrible names?”
“Yep!” Ginny and I said at the same time.
“Well, sorry about your mom,” I said. “I mean, your real mom. I guess you don’t miss Miss Queenie very much.”
The others murmured their regrets.
“Thanks,” Rupert said. “It’s not like Miss Queenie wanted me. She only took me in for the money. Nobody ever wanted me. I’m just a useless orphan.”
“You’re not a useless orphan. And I know someone who really wants you as part of His family,” Natalie said.
“Yeah? Who?” Rupert said, as he crossed his arms.
Here she goes again! I thought. Natalie took every available chance to talk about God.
Caroline looked over at Aunt Lorelei and said, “I always love to see religious children. They’re so nice.”
Aunt Lorelei smiled.
“Yeah, that’s nice, but a big invisible guy in the sky doesn’t sound like great family,” Rupert said.
Natalie looked disappointed, but she didn’t push the point.
We sat around the fire, talking about whatever we thought of. I learned that Daniella was a divorced hairstylist who worked at a fancy salon. The hairstylist part explained the blue streak in her hair. Liam was a single businessman who spent all his free time at the gym or surfing at the beach. Caroline said she’d had a husband and son, but they died in a car accident, so she lived alone and taught preschool. After a while, Daniella said, “Well, I’m tired. I’m going to go find a place to sleep.”
“Okay, good night,” Aunt Lorelei said.
“I’m going to go to sleep, too,” Caroline said.
“All right. You three girls find a good place to sleep and I’ll be there in a bit. I want to do something,” Aunt Lorelei said.
“Okay. Good night, Aunt Lorelei,” I said and gave her a hug.
My sisters did the same.
“Well, see you, Rupert,” Ginny said.
“See you guys tomorrow,” Rupert said.
Natalie, Ginny and I waved to Liam, and left to search for a place.
We found a spot under the low hanging branches of some trees and lay down.
Falling asleep took me longer than normal. My sunburn hurt a lot and I couldn’t get comfortable on the rough ground.
I had an awful dream. A blonde girl stood on the witness stand, testifying she saw a lady kill a man and a little boy. Then, the judge pounded her gavel, and sentenced the woman to life in prison. As the police led the woman out, she stopped in front of the girl and glared at her with piercing green eyes.
“I’ll get you one day. You will pay,” the woman whispered so just the girl could hear. The woman continued to glare at the girl as the police took her away. The girl screamed.
I jerked out of sleep. That scream sounded so real. But now, no noises came from the dark. The dream probably just made me think I heard a scream. I dreamed that a lot and it always felt real. My sisters, but not Aunt Lorelei, lay on the ground beside me. I figured she must have decided to sleep somewhere else. Maybe she couldn’t find us. I lay down again and went back to sleep. When I woke up in the morning, Aunt Lorelei still wasn’t there. I got up to search for her. I walked along the beach at the front of the island. The sand burned my feet. The sea had claimed my flip flops the day before. I found no sign of her. I decided to look in the forest. I walked through the forest for a while, looking under trees.
Not finding her, I almost turned back, when red sand caught my eye. It looked like blood stained the sand. I jogged farther into the forest, following the blood trail, and then screamed at what I saw. Aunt Lorelei lay on the ground, bloody slashes covering her body, soaking her clothes. Her eyes were open and glazed over. Tears welled up in my eyes. I dropped to my knees, sobbing into my hands. I couldn’t think straight. Why would someone kill her?
Natalie and Ginny’s voices surprised me.
Oh no, how can I tell them?
I ran away from the body, not wanting them to see it.
I found both my sisters a little way away.
I tried to compose myself, but I was breathing hard, and I started crying again.
“Guys, oh my goodness, blood,” I panted.
“Oh my word, Shayne, what’s wrong? You look awful. What happened?” Natalie said, putting her hand on my shoulder.
“Dead,” I forced out.
“Who’s dead?” Ginny said.
“What? Shayne, how?” Natalie said, tears forming in her eyes.
“Found her dead. Blood all over.”
Both my sisters started crying and hugged me. I hugged them, not sure what to do. I felt helpless. We just hugged and cried for a long time.
Then, a thought occurred to me. Someone on this island was a murderer. I didn’t know who it was, but I had to protect my sisters from them.
Caroline’s scream echoed. A little later, she, Daniella, Liam and Rupert came up. I don’t remember a lot of what happened. I was still really shocked. Voices asked if we were okay. Caroline acted all dramatic and everyone looked at us with confused and sorry expressions. Voices jumbled together. I tried to make them all out.
“Are you girls all right?”
“I wonder why the word ‘ask’ was written there,” a high-pitched voice said.
“I don’t know, but I’ll find the killer!”
“Calm down, and have some sense, boy!” a low voice retorted.
“Maybe people live on this island and weren’t happy to find an intruder,” another voice said.
A whimper. “Natives! Oh, Daniella, how dreadful!” The high voice.
“Come and sit down,” someone said, and took my hand and led me to a place where I sat.
“Caroline, you stay with the girls while Daniella, Rupert and I go search the island for natives. We should always have at least three in a group, so no one else winds up dead. And we should check the community pile to see if any knives are missing,” Liam said.
We were near the site of the previous night’s fire, but we sat in the shade of the trees.
. I put my arms around both my sisters. I didn’t know what else to do to comfort them when I felt the same way they did. Caroline, my sisters, and I sat silently for a long time. Aunt Lorelei is dead was the only thought that went through my mind.
A twig snapped.
“Oh, my goodness, natives! Natives! They’re going to finish us off!” Caroline exclaimed, throwing her arms into the air.
But a native didn’t appear behind Caroline. Liam came up, followed by Daniella and Rupert.
“No, it’s just us,” Liam said.
“Oh, my goodness, Leo! It’s just you!” Caroline said, gasping, jumping up, and grabbing Liam’s large bicep. “I thought for sure that horrendous native came back for another murder!”
Liam rolled his eyes and wrenched her hand from his arm. “From what we can tell, there aren’t natives here,” he said, some of his annoyance with her coming out in his tone.
“What, you mean…?” Caroline said.
“Yes. Someone right here did it.”
I looked around at each person’s face. One of these people killed my aunt? That was even worse than a possessive native killing her.
My sisters and I had survived with these people and we were supposed to be helping each other. How could we do that if we didn’t know who we could trust?
Caroline panted, like she might pass out. “How can we all be safe, Leo?”
“Like I said, always have at least three people present in a group. That way, whoever the murderer is, they won’t take the chance of revealing themself to the third person. And a knife is missing from the community pile.”
“Oh, Leo, it’s so scary! I feel rather faint!” Caroline said, grabbing Liam’s arm again.
“You’ll be fine. And don’t call me Leo. My name is Liam. Anyway,” he said, jerking from Caroline’s grasp. “Is there anything any of us can do for you three right now?” he asked my sisters and me.
“Well, if you want, I could use some help burying my aunt. I don’t want my sisters to see her like that,” I said.
“Of course. We adults can do that. Right, Caroline and Daniella?”
Daniella shrugged, and said, “Yeah, sure.”
“Ugh, do you know how long that would take?” Caroline exclaimed. “That would be so hard!”
“It wouldn’t be hard if you didn’t whine and just dug,” Liam said. “You should come, Caroline. It’ll help toughen you up.”
Caroline looked slightly put out at Liam’s insulting her toughness, but what did she expect? Probably also the fact that Liam had no interest in her, despite her flirtations, upset her. If I was a guy, though, I would have no interest in her either. She was so annoying!
“I could help if you want,” Rupert said.
“No, you stay here. You don’t need to see that again either. You’re only, what, nine?” Liam said, walking backwards in the direction of Aunt Lorelei’s body.
Rupert shrugged and said, “Yeah.”
“Well, I guess we will, to be a help to you in this hard time, Shayne,” Caroline said, making it obvious in her tone that she still didn’t want to. She put her arm around my shoulders, as if she thought that would comfort me.
. I pulled away. She looked at me. “Sunburn,” I said. Also, I didn’t want her touching me.
She ran to join Liam, who turned around and picked up his pace to a fast walk, leaving her. Caroline then tried to converse with Daniella, but Daniella made no motion to talk back. Liam and Daniella were acting really immature. But who would want to talk to a person who irritated the fire out of everyone?
Rupert knelt by the place the fire was the night before. A pile of sticks lay nearby. I guessed someone gathered them last night. He rubbed two sticks together. I rolled my eyes. I doubted he’d actually be able to start a fire.
“I’m making a fire so if any planes pass overhead, they’ll see it and rescue us,” Rupert said.
I couldn’t have cared less about a fire in this sweltering weather, but the idea of planes seeing the fire made sense. I did want to get off this island.To be honest, though, Aunt Lorelei’s death had kind of driven thoughts of getting off the island from my mind.
Actually, Rupert did get a fire started. Then, he joined us. I sat there a while, until I felt like I’d die if I didn’t get water and something to eat.
“Anyone know where we can get some water?” I asked. “I’m so thirsty.”
“Earlier this morning, I explored a bit and found a pool of water. I drank some, and I’m still alive,” Rupert said.
“Great. Where is it?” I said.
“Do you think we’ll be safe?” Natalie asked.
“It’s no safer here than anywhere else on this island. Plus, I don’t think any of you guys killed your aunt, and I didn’t, so the murderer isn’t even with us right now. And we’ll be safe in a group, like Liam said. Besides, we need water,” Rupert said. “Come on, I’ll show you.”
Rupert led us through the trees, past where we slept the night before. The shade of the trees made me thankful; the ground didn’t burn my feet so much. After walking a while, we reached a small, round pool about five yards from the base of the mountain. I looked up at the mountain. A dark hole about 90 feet up looked like a cave. Too bad. No way would I climb that high, otherwise, I’d stay in there. I knelt, cupped water in my hands and drank. It was so refreshing, despite its lukewarm temperature. We all drank some.
When we’d finished drinking, we searched for food. Rupert showed us where he found the berries the day before, and we ate enough to fill us up. Rupert said he needed to add wood to his fire, so he gathered up sticks. Then, we went back to the edge of the trees near the fire and sat in the shade. Rupert went and put the sticks on the fire, and then sat next to Ginny.Ginny and Rupert chatted, but Natalie and I didn’t say much. I didn’t feel like talking, still caught up in the fact of Aunt Lorelei’s death. How would Dad and Mom feel? I longed for them and home more than anything.
Natalie put her head on my shoulder and looked up at me. “Shaynie, I want to go home,” she whispered.
I put my arm around her and leaned my head on hers. “I know. So do I.”
A little later, Rupert said, “Hey, guys?”
“Yeah?” we responded.
“I know you’re really upset about your aunt and I hate to bring it up, but I can’t get this really weird thing out of my mind. Next to her body, there was a word made out of sticks. It said ‘ASK’.”
“That’s weird,” I said.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Ginny said.
“The only thing I can think is that the murderer wants us to ask who it is. But I’m not asking anyone. I don’t want to be killed. But I guess it would be okay, because I would go to Heaven,” Rupert said.
“How do you know you would go to Heaven?” Natalie asked.
I wondered how she managed to link practically everything to the gospel.
“Umm, I think that if you die as a child you go to Heaven. Or it’s if you’re a good enough person.”
“Well, God made the first people perfect, but they did something wrong. Wrong things people do are called sin. We all sin. And sin can’t be around a perfect God,” Natalie said.
“Hey, I’m not that bad a person,” Rupert said.
“But still, you’ve done at least one wrong thing in your life, right?”
“Yeah, I guess.”
“Well, because God loves us so much, He came to earth as a baby named Jesus, grew up, and let men kill Him to take the punishment for our sins. But because Jesus is God, he came back to life three days later, and now He’s in Heaven.
“So,” Natalie continued, even though Rupert started doodling in the sand with a stick, not paying much attention to her, “if we believe Jesus is God, came to earth, died for our sins, and came back to life, and we trust Him as the only way for our sins to be forgiven, God becomes our Father. Then one day, whether we die, or He comes back to earth, He’ll take those who have trusted Him to Heaven to live there with Him forever. He loves you, Rupert, and He wants to be your Heavenly Father.”
Rupert didn’t respond.
The adults came back a few hours later. It scared me to know for sure that my aunt’s murderer was in our company. Caroline complained that she would die of thirst if she didn’t get water “right this minute!” So we showed the adults the pool. When we got there, Caroline hesitated. I guess she thought there might be something harmful in the water, but her thirst seemed to overcome her fear, because she took some in her hands and drank.
“I want to see the grave,” Natalie said.
“Are you sure that would be a good idea, sweetheart?” Caroline said.
“I want to see it,” Natalie said, a little more firmly. “It’ll help make it real to me.”
“Of course. You girls can come with me,” Liam said.
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to see it. I already knew Aunt Lorelei was dead. I had seen her body with my own eyes. But my sisters hadn’t. They would probably want me there. So, I got up and went with them after Liam. He led us to the place where I had found the body.
The freshly dug dirt had a cross made of sticks sticking out of it.
“The cross was Daniella’s idea. She thought it would be a nice touch,” Liam said. “Do you want me to say some words?”
I shook my head. Words would do no good. He hadn’t even known Aunt Lorelei. What good were words when my heart hurt so much?
Ginny put both arms around me and her head on my shoulder. Natalie hugged me from the other side. They both were crying.
I wanted to cry too. But that would mean I was weak, wouldn’t it? I didn’t want Liam to see me cry and I didn’t want my sisters to feel like I was weak.
We stayed there for a while, not saying anything.
Then Natalie said, “Well, at least she’s in Heaven. We’ll see her again.”
“How do you know?” Liam said.
“Because she believes Jesus is the only way to Heaven and that He died for her. Do you believe that, Liam?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I should.”
“Well, I’ll pray for you.”
We left the grave and joined the rest of the group back near the water pool.
-Shayne (and MorganAshley)
Later that day, Liam said, “Okay, any ideas about a shelter?”
“They taught us how to build one in Scouts,” Rupert said.
“All right, I assume you all want to stay together. So how about we make a guy shelter and a girl shelter right next to each other?” Liam said.
The thought of sleeping in the same shelter with a possible murderer creeped me out, but then, Rupert faced the same position alone. Still, creepier.
“Do you think you’ll need any help from an experienced shelter maker?” Rupert asked.
None of the adults answered, but Ginny said, “Yep.”
“All right. First, we need to find a tree to build against.”
The seven of us walked through the woods for a while, searching for a tree that would work. Caroline tripped, screamed, and then got up and said, “Oh, I think I sprained my ankle!” She limped over to Liam, grabbed his arm, and said, “Oh, Leo, I need help! I don’t think I’ll be fit to do anything strenuous like build a shelter. Can you help me get to the pool? I’m going to die of thirst! And I think water will do my wound some good.”
I rolled my eyes. Caroline wasn’t even bleeding.
Liam sighed, and then said, “I’m sure Daniella would be more suited to stay with you and let you rest.”
“Oh, but Leo, then you wouldn’t be there to protect me!”
“Someone else can go, too. Uhh…”
“I’ll go with you,” Natalie said.
“There. It’s all settled. Daniella’s pretty tough and she and Natalie will be glad to stay with you, won’t you, Daniella?”
Daniella glared at Liam, but she took Caroline’s arm and with more control than I would have managed said, “Let’s go get you that water.”
Daniella and Natalie put their arms around Caroline and helped her limp away.
I thought Liam did a pretty rotten thing, leaving Daniella with Caroline, instead of going himself but I didn’t blame him that much. Who’d want to spend time with her?
The three of us kids continued through the forest with Liam. I wondered if we had just left the murderer behind, or if he stayed with us. After about ten minutes of searching, we found a tree that had several trunks coming from it to build both shelters against.
“This is a great place. And it’s not super far from the water, either,” Rupert said.
“All right, kids, let’s go back and tell Daniella, Natalie, and Miss Whiny-Butt that we found a place,” Liam said.
We found Daniella, Natalie and Caroline at the water pool. Caroline gasped as we came up, and then put a hand on her heart and exhaled when she saw it was us. Daniella rolled her eyes.
“We found a good place for shelters,” Ginny said.
“Oh, is it very far?” Caroline asked.
“Not very,” Rupert said.
“I’ll need help getting there,” Caroline said quickly, looking at Liam, but before Liam could respond, Natalie said, “I’ll help you, Caroline.” Natalie always took unwanted jobs to spare other people.
When we reached the spot, Natalie helped Caroline sit on the ground.
“Well, we should lean sticks or some tough grasses up against the tree, then fill in spaces with leaves and mud. Caroline could do the filling in,” Rupert said. “And we could lay the life raft on top of the girls’ shelter for extra protection.”
“Okay, Daniella and Ginny, go with Rupert to get that life raft, and the rest of us will start gathering sticks,” Liam said.
Daniella sighed and jerked her head, I think, half nodding, and half flicking her black side bangs out of her eyes. I heard her mutter, “Can’t do anything without bossing me around, can he? Just like my ex-husband,” as they left.
Natalie, Liam, and I gathered sticks from the ground, but Caroline just sat there.
When Ginny, Rupert and Daniella returned, dragging the life raft, we showed Rupert the sticks we found. Rupert instructed in finding the best sticks and sent Ginny, Natalie, and Daniella in search of taller sticks. Meanwhile, Rupert and Liam leaned the sticks against the tree. Rupert told me to pile up some mud and leaves for Caroline. After I had a pile, Rupert told me to let the air out of the life raft so we could put it on top of the shelter. I found the air valves and opened them. Then I lay on my stomach on the raft to push the air out. Rupert proceeded to tell Caroline how to put the mud and leaves in the cracks.
“Eww!” Caroline said when she picked up a glob of mud. She dropped it, splattering some mud on Liam’s boardshorts. He clenched his teeth, I think to bite back what he wanted to say.
Daniella and the girls came back with sticks and we continued building. We finished the shelters in about thirty minutes.
After we finished building the shelters, I felt so ready for bed, even though the sun hadn’t set. The heat could really drain you of all your energy. When I voiced this, Caroline exclaimed her exhaustion.
Pretty ridiculous, considering she did the least amount of work of all of us. She mostly had sat there and eventually Rupert and Liam finished filling in the mud.
Caroline went into the girl shelter.
“You guys come here,” I said to my sisters and led them away from everyone else. “I really want to go to bed, and I don’t want you guys out there alone when there’s a killer.”
“But Liam, Daniella and Rupert are still out there. If we stay with them, we should be safe,” Natalie said.
“Still, I don’t want you out with those creeps without me.”
“But Rupert’s not a creep,” Ginny said.
“No, but then which of the grown-ups did it?” Natalie said.
“I have no idea,” I said.
“Well, I guess, let’s go to bed, too, Ginny.”
It seemed like sleep took forever to come. Despite how tired I was, I couldn’t get my mind to calm down. Aunt Lorelei was gone forever. She would never come over or laugh or listen to country music again. She would never hug me again. I missed her so much.
I woke up starving. My sisters and Daniella lay asleep. Caroline sat awake.
“Oh, hi, Shayne. I couldn’t sleep. I was just thinking about what I used to do with my husband before he died,” she said, blinking at tears in her light blue eyes.
“You must miss him a lot,” I said, and then added, “I know I miss my aunt.”
“Yes, it’s been four years, but I still miss him so much every day. Well, I’m going to try to get a little more sleep now.”
I left the shelter to stretch my legs. I only intended to stay out there a little bit. I didn’t want to be out alone. At that moment, Rupert came out of the guys’ shelter.
“Hey,” I said.
“Hey,” he replied.
“Liam still asleep?”
“No. He’s not in there. I’m not sure where he went.”
“I’m so hungry. Are you?”
“Yeah. You wanna to try to find something to eat?”
“Well, we’d need a third person.”
“I’ll go with you!” Ginny poked her head out of the shelter doorway.
“Okay, let’s go.”
The three of us tromped through the forest, searching for plants we could eat.
“Here. We can eat these ferns,” Rupert said.
“Wow, really? You’re so smart. I wouldn’t have known that,” Ginny said.
“Did you ever think of being a Girl Scout, Ginny?” Rupert said.
“Well, not really. But even if I was, I’d never be as good as you.”
I rolled my eyes. Ginny never complimented boys unless she liked them. We munched on the ferns as we continued looking for more food. The ferns tasted just okay. I wouldn’t have eaten them if I had other options but at this point food was food. As we neared the ocean on the right side of the island (according to where we landed), we came to a swampy area. I would have turned back, if I hadn’t noticed what I did. Rupert saw it, too. He stared.
“Is that what I think-?” Ginny said, but didn’t go on.
I cringed. “I think so.”
“Maybe we should go make sure,” Rupert said.
I nodded, reluctant, not wanting to get muddy or to see this, because from here, it didn’t look pretty. Rupert rolled up his pants and we stepped into the mud. I sank in to about my mid-calves. I took a few more steps, and then the mud came up to my waist.
“Eww!” I exclaimed.
We trudged through the mud, finally making it to the other side, to solid ground, where
Liam’s body lay.
Just like Aunt Lorelei, blood covered his body. Ginny screamed and started crying. She hugged me. I put an arm around her. We just stood there for a little while, staring at Liam. I looked at Rupert and Ginny, sick to my stomach.
“So, Liam’s not the murderer,” Rupert said.
I didn’t respond, still shocked.
Then I noticed the ground. “Guys, look!” I said, pointing.
“What?” Ginny said, looking up and pulling away from me.
“It’s the word, ‘ask’ again.”
The mud sloshed behind us. We turned. A crocodile’s head poked out of the mud just inches from us. I screamed, turned around, grabbed Ginny’s hand and ran. I didn’t even stop to see if Rupert came with us. His scream stopped me. Ginny and I looked back. I was horrified that maybe the crocodile had him. It didn’t yet, but it chased him. We ran the few yards back to him, Ginny grabbed his hand and we ran the fastest I ever had in my life. I looked back. The crocodile lagged behind several yards, but I didn’t stop. I wanted to be out of sight of the thing. When I looked back and didn’t see the crocodile, I kept running a little longer, not wanting it to catch up. Once I was pretty sure we outran the thing, I let go of Ginny’s hand and collapsed onto my back. They joined me on the ground, gasping. After a few minutes, Rupert said, “Well, I can’t say I’m not afraid of anything any more.”
Despite that terrifying experience, I smiled.
After we caught our breath, we got up and continued on, much slower.
“When we explored, we didn’t come over here,” Rupert said. “We should warn the others to stay away from the swamp. That croc must have thought we might take its home.”
“Right, because a swamp is definitely my dream home,” I said.
I saw a person with dark hair with her back to us a few yards in front of us and put my hand out in front of Rupert to stop him. She was too tall to be Natalie. Daniella!
“Let’s see if we can sneak by without her seeing,” I whispered.
Rupert and Ginny nodded, but Daniella turned around.
“Well, you three look muddy.” She walked toward us.
“What are you doing out alone? You just left Natalie and Caroline without a third person!” I said.
“I can’t stand Caroline anymore. I just needed some fresh air by myself. And besides, Liam was in the other shelter.”
She seemed to have no idea about Liam’s death, but she could have been faking that..
“No, he wasn’t. He was gone when I woke up,” Rupert said.
“Well, I’ll look for him. You three head back to the shelters so there’ll be more than two people there. Head through the woods that way and you’ll be there soon,” she said, pointing in the direction she meant.
We walked in that direction and as soon as we got out of earshot, I said, “Is it just me, or did she seem kind of suspicious?”
“She seemed to not know Liam was dead,” Ginny said.
“But why would she go off by herself and just leave the others?” Rupert said.
“And another thing, she said she couldn’t stand Caroline anymore. That sounds like something a hateful murderer would say.”
“But we’re all kind of fed up with Caroline. I’m not sure that qualifies her of murder,” I said.
“Who could have killed him?” Rupert said.
“Well, everyone was in our shelter when I woke up. The only person missing was Liam himself.”
“Could he have killed your aunt, then felt so guilty that he killed himself?” Rupert said.
“I don’t think he would have stabbed himself that many times. And there would have been a weapon near the body if he killed himself. I think someone must have killed him in the night.”
We made it back to the shelters. Natalie and Caroline sat inside the girl shelter.
“Hey, guys. Where did you go?” Natalie said.
“We’ve got bad news. Two things. You want the bad, or the really bad first?” I said.
“Let’s go with the bad first,” Natalie said.
“Okay, there are crocodiles on this island, but they’re not near us. If you leave our shelter and go out to the left, then make another left and head that way for a while, you’ll get to a swamp. The crocodiles live there.”
“Oh, I think I know where you mean,” Caroline said.
“Now for the worse news. It’s Liam. He’s dead.”
Caroline stifled a scream and started crying. Natalie looked compassionately sad.
Rustling of bushes and cracking of twigs came from outside.
Daniella entered the shelter. “Guys, this is going to be kind of hard to hear, but you need to know. I just found Liam. And he’s dead,” she said.
“Oh, we-” Caroline said, but then said, “What? How dreadful!” And with that, Caroline burst into what I thought looked like convincing tears, as good as her real reaction.
“What happened to him?” Rupert asked.
“I found him all stabbed to death.”
“Oh, Leo! He’s gone forever!” Caroline wailed.
“Well, we all need to be careful. We really don’t know who did it,” Daniella said.
I felt uneasy the rest of the day. Daniella took charge of us all, not letting anyone go anywhere without her to “protect” us. When Rupert, Ginny and I went to go wash off the mud, she almost came with us except that it would have broken the three person rule. came with us. Other than that, she wouldn’t let us out of her sight. She said she wanted to protect us, but I think couldn’t help but wonder if she had different motives.
I dreaded when night would come. I didn’t want to sleep near the murderer. And the murders always happened at night. It took me forever to fall asleep and every little noise made me jerk awake and look around the shelter to make sure everyone was still there.
In the morning when I woke up, only my sisters lay in the shelter with me. That made me wonder if someone else was dead. But I hesitated to leave. I didn’t want to go find another dead body. And if I always found them, would people think I was the murderer?
A scream interrupted my thoughts. It sounded like Caroline. I didn’t get up. Caroline screamed about everything. She could have just stubbed her toe. Her screaming usually didn’t mean anything serious. I lay back down and tried to go back to sleep.
I woke up. Natalie and Ginny crouched in the doorway of the shelter.
“Shayne, we just found Caroline dead!” Natalie said. “We need to hide! Daniella killed her and if we don’t hide, she could come find us!”
I sat up fast. Caroline was dead? Then she had needed help when I heard her scream. And what did I do? Nothing.
“Come on, Shayne! Rupert’s outside. He thinks he knows a place we can hide,” Ginny said.
“Okay,” I said, my head still swimming with the fact that Caroline was dead. That just left Daniella and us kids. Who would die next? I was terrified. I wanted to scream or cry or break something. I wanted to be off this stupid island and safe at home. But I had to hold it together for my sisters.
We went outside the shelter.
“Come on, guys,” Rupert said. “She won’t find us where we’re going.”
We followed Rupert through the forest, past where the ferns grew, to an overgrown tangle of thorns and bushes.
“If we go in here far enough that she can’t see us, she might not bother coming in to find us,” Rupert said. He pulled a knife out of his pocket, got on his hands and knees and said, “I’ll clear a bit of a path through here.” He crawled through the brush, cutting away branches. When he made a kind of long tunnel through the thorns, he said, “Come on in, guys.”
We crawled in after him and sat
“Look what we found near Caroline’s body, Shayne,” Rupert said, holding out the knife, whcih I recognized as a knife from the pile. “And the word ‘ask’ was there, just like with Liam.”
“Guys, I feel bad. I heard Caroline scream, but I just stayed in the shelter. I tried to make myself believe she just stubbed her toe or something. But I kind of had a feeling. I just didn’t want to believe it. If I’d gotten up and done something, Caroline might not be dead.”
“Did you confess that to God? That will probably help you feel a little better,” Natalie said.
I didn’t answer. I really didn’t see the good that would do.
Later that day, Rupert used the knife to cut away more thorns so we all had room to lie down. By that time, it was dark, and I surprisingly fell asleep right away. I slept for a little while, but then I woke up again. I groaned. Why couldn’t I just lie down and sleep normally?
“I know she did it. I saw her stab them both a bunch of times with a knife,” the blonde girl said.
“How many times would you say she stabbed each of them?” the attorney asked.
“I’m not exactly sure. I was kind of far away. Maybe a dozen times each.”
“And how are you sure Mrs. Smith-Kensington killed them, if you were, as you put it, ‘kind of far away’?”
“They lived down the street from us. I knew them well enough to know it was her. I saw her stabbing Jack. He screamed, which made Mr. Kensington come running. By the time he got to her, I think Jack was dead, because he didn’t get up or scream any more. Then, she stabbed Mr. Kensington until he stopped screaming. I know she did it.”
The judge pounded her gavel. “The jury will deliberate and come to a decision.”
Later, the foreman of the jury said, “Guilty of the first-degree murder of Jack Kensington and the second-degree murder of Thomas Kensington.”
“The court sentences you to life in prison,” the judge said.
The creepy, glaring green eyes. “You will pay.”
I woke suddenly. My fear of Daniella coming and killing me already made it so that I couldn’t sleep well. And now, I had to have one of those dreams. Ever since I testified against her when I was ten, I had creepy dreams about Mrs. Smith-Kensington and couldn’t help worrying that one day, she’d come after me, even though I knew she lived behind bars.
A scream pierced the quiet. I thought the screaming came from my dream, but I couldn’t have imagined that. A second scream echoed through the night. I crawled out of the thorns. I didn’t want to just sit around if someone needed help. But I had no weapon. I wondered if I should go to the community pile to see if a knife was there, but by that time, the person could be dead. The lack of light made it hard to see. I wanted to follow the screams, but no more came.
I realized as I ran that I should have checked my sisters’ safety before I left. I tore through trees and brush in search of whoever screamed, scared now, that it was one of my sisters. Thorns scraped my arms and legs as I ran through the forest. I found nothing. Maybe my dream confused me and just thought I heard a scream? It got a little lighter as I continued farther. I looked down and stopped short. Daniella lay on the forest floor. Blood saturated her clothes. And again, on the ground, in capital letters I read the word, “ASK”.
I screamed and ran back to the thorn shelter. I couldn’t believe Rupert did this, but what other choice did I have?
When I got back, the sun shone brighter and Rupert and my sisters sat awake in the tunnel.
“Shayne, where were you? We were a bit worried,” Natalie said.
“Rupert, you need to go,” I said.
“I need to talk to my sisters. Go away.”
“Okay?” Rupert said, looking confused and crawling out of the thorny tunnel. He walked away.
After he left, I crawled in.
“Guys, I just found Daniella dead. That means Rupert’s the murderer.”
“What?” both my sisters said.
“Daniella’s dead. Isn’t that clear enough? Rupert killed her. He was the one with the knife.”
“But he’s only a kid. How could a kid do something like that?” Natalie said.
“Well, none of us did it.”
“But Rupert’s a nice guy,” Ginny said.
“Anyone can act.”
“But Rupert’s not like that.”
“How can you say that, Ginny? You hardly know him. If he didn’t, who do you think did?”
“I just can’t believe it. I can’t wrap my mind around it,” Natalie said.
“We need to stay away from him. If he already killed all those other people, how can we say he won’t kill us?”
“But how can we expect him to leave us alone?”
“I think we should move back to our shelter. He can stay here,” I said.
“But I still can’t believe it’s him,” Ginny said.
“Ginny, everyone else is dead. He killed them, unless there’s some thing one of you aren’t telling me.”
“Are you accusing me of murder? Of murdering my own aunt?”
“No. We clearly didn’t. Therefore, he did.”
“Wow, I’m really hungry and thirsty,” Ginny said later that day, after the initial shock about Rupert lessened.
“We could probably be safe if we all went together. We could go to the community pile and get the other knife,” I said.
“Shayne, you’re not going to stab Rupert, are you?” Ginny said.
“If he attacks us, yes! I’m not letting a little creep murder any of us. We shouldn’t act like this is nothing just because he’s a little kid.”
We crawled back through the tunnel and stayed close to each other as we walked. We went to the community pile, but all the knives were gone.
“See? He took them to leave us defenseless. We need to hurry up and get water. Them we need to get to safe place. Maybe we should go somewhere else so he won’t find us,” I said.
We made it to the water pool and Natalie started drinking. I had just knelt down, when Ginny gasped. I looked at her. She stared at the ground. About a foot in front of her a snake slithered toward her. I was as terrified as she looked. We both hated snakes. We both crouched there, not moving. The snake moved closer. I tried to think of what to do, but couldn’t. The snake struck and bit Ginny’s ankle. She screamed. At that, Natalie turned and looked at Ginny. Leaves cracked to my right. It sounded like rapid footsteps getting closer. Rupert ran up, knife in hand. I was terrified. Who did he intend to kill? Next thing I knew, Rupert jumped in front of me and cut the snake’s head off. I breathed hard. I looked at Ginny. She looked close to tears. Rupert knelt next to her.
“I don’t think you should move a lot. It’s better for you to stay calm and still,” Rupert said. “But we should stop that bleeding.”
I looked at Ginny’s ankle. I hadn’t even noticed the blood. Rupert pulled off his shirt and tied it around her ankle.
“You okay?” he asked.
Ginny nodded and sniffed. Rupert looked the snake.
“Lucky for you, Ginny, that snake wasn’t poisonous,” he said.
“Well, that’s a relief,” Ginny said, her face paler than normal.
“We better get away from the snake. They can still bite after they’re dead.”
“You! Why would you save her?” I asked Rupert.
“Umm, why wouldn’t I?”
“When you’ve killed all these other people, how can I not expect you to come after us?”
“What are you talking about? I didn’t kill anyone.”
“How can any of us believe you?”
“What motive could I have for killing all those people? I don’t want to go to jail.”
“How do I know you aren’t just making things up? You’re the only one besides us here.”
“I don’t know if this makes any difference, but I decided to make God my Heavenly Father after you sent me away.”
“Really, Rupert? That’s great!” Natalie said.
“So, please will you let me come back with you guys?”
I thought about it. If he was the killer and just made up his getting saved, I didn’t want him near me and my sisters. And how could he not be the murderer? What if he just wanted to get me to trust him again?
“Shayne, what if he gave us all the knives? Then, say he just happened to be the murderer. He couldn’t do anything to us,” Ginny said.
“If he didn’t do it, who do you think did, Ginny?” I asked harshly.
“Could there be natives after all?” Ginny said.
“I’ve been all over this island. We’re the only ones here,” Rupert said.
“How can we trust anything you say?” I said.
“If I was the killer, wouldn’t I want you to think there were natives on this island to get the blame off myself?” Rupert said.
Ginny looked at Rupert, then at me. “Shayne, I don’t know why, I just feel like we can trust him. I mean, he just jumped in front a snake for me.”
“Maybe we should see what bodies are still around,” Natalie said.
“Why? What good would that do?” I said.
“What if someone just faked being dead?”
“To get us to eliminate them as a suspect?” I said.
“Yeah. That would be smart. I can more see that than Rupert being the killer.”
I thought about it. I guess it didn’t make sense for Rupert to be the murderer. He always seemed like a nice kid and why would he save Ginny from the snake if he wanted us dead?
“Fine. Rupert, give us the three knives,” I said.
“Three? I only have the knife that we found with Caroline’s body, and another from the community pile,”
“Then, where’s the other knife?” I said.
“Whoever faked being dead must have it. That’s how they’ve been killing people,” Natalie said.
“But why do you have another knife?” I asked Rupert.
“I took it form the pile so the murderer wouldn’t get it.”
“That seems suspicious to me. How can we know you didn’t take it so you could use it to kill the rest of us, who are defenseless?”
“Well, I’m going to give you guys them both and make myself defenseless. Isn’t that good enough for you?”
“How do we know you don’t have the third one hiding somewhere? How do we know you won’t attack us in our sleep?”
“I seriously don’t have it. What do I have to do to prove that to you?”
“We’ll go look for the bodies. If one of them is gone, I’ll be more likely to believe you. But that doesn’t mean I do yet. Anyway, are you going to give those knives over?” I said.
“Shayne, do you really still think he’s the murderer?” Ginny said.
“Well, you certainly can’t expect me to believe him just like that. I say he’s guilty unless proven otherwise.”
“That’s fair enough, I guess,” Rupert said. Rupert handed one of the knives to me and the other to Natalie. “Now, Ginny, I don’t think you should go walking around a lot. You need to rest.”
“All right. Maybe we should just go to the shelter and look around tomorrow.”
“We could stay in our stick shelters now,” Natalie suggested.
“All right, then Rupert can stay in his own shelter. Let’s go,” I said.
“Can you walk?” Rupert asked Ginny.
“Maybe. It hurts.”
Rupert helped her to her feet and said, “Lean on me a second.”
Ginny leaned her weight on Rupert and her good leg and tried to stand on the bad leg.
“Shayne, come here. I don’t want girl cooties,” Rupert said.
I walked over and Rupert transferred Ginny’s weight to me. I helped her limp to the shelters.
Suddenly, Ginny threw up. Natalie made a face that showed her disgust at the vomit but then her expression changed to one of compassion.
“You okay?” I asked Ginny.
She nodded. We crawled into the girl shelter.
“So, I wonder if this ‘ask’ stuff has anything to do with figuring out who the killer is,” Natalie said.
“All I can think of is ask who the killer is,” Ginny said.
“No, because why would anyone admit to being the murderer?” I said.
“Maybe it has something to do with killer. Like a trademark or an identity,” Rupert said.
“You know, that’s not a bad idea, ARRR” Ginny said.
“ARRR?” I said.
“That’s what my friends call me, because my full name is Rupert Ronald Rutter. I like it. It’s like I’m a pirate,” Rupert said.
“Oh. So, what names have ‘ask’ in them?” I said.
“I don’t know if any do,” Natalie said.
“How about Alaska?” Rupert said.
“Alaska? Who’d name their kid Alaska?” I asked.
“I know a girl named Alaska at school. And hey, I could think of worse names than that. What about Queenie, Prudence, and all the names of Miss Prudence’s cats?”
“I can’t think of any other names that have ‘ask’ in them,” Ginny said.
“Maybe this person kills people for a company and the letters stand for the company,” Rupert said.
“What kind of company sends people to kill people except mafia and terrorists?” I said.
“What about initials?” Natalie suggested.
“You think maybe someone here used a fake name?” Rupert asked.
“Well, if they’ve killed other people before, don’t you think they would change their name?”
I sighed. “Well, initials really limits things. It could be any combination of A, S, and K names. It would take us forever to figure it out. If we’re even right that they are initials. And we don’t even know if it stands for a guy name or a girl name.”
“Well, there are more girls than guys on this island, so there’s a better chance it’s a girl name,” said Natalie.
We listed all the A names we could think of. As far as I could tell, none of these names meant anything.
“A, S, K. A, S, K,” Natalie said.
“Maybe we should work on the last name and come back to the first name later. That could narrow it down a bit,” Ginny suggested.
After listing a bunch of K names, I felt no closer to figuring out what ASK meant until Rupert said, “What about Khan? Or Kensington?”
“Kensington! Arlene Smith-Kensington!” Natalie said.
“What?” Rupert asked.
“When I was 10, I testified against a woman named Arlene Smith-Kensington for killing her husband and son. It’s Caroline!” I said.
“Are you sure it’s her, Shayne?” Ginny said.
“I’m positive. Her hair is a different color now, and she’s wearing color contacts, but it’s the same face! I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before. If only I didn’t have this stupid bad memory!”
“But, Shayne, they sentenced her to life in prison. How could it be her?” Ginny said.
“I bet she escaped. Remember that talk Mom and Dad had, all quiet, and Mom said, ‘No, we shouldn’t tell Shayne. We don’t want her to worry’? That’s what they were talking about!”
“So, we’re here on this island with a convicted murderer who probably wants us dead?” Rupert said.
“Maybe we should pray, then.”
“That’s a great idea. Would you like to, Rupert?” Natalie said.
“What, out loud? Well, I mean, I guess I could, but I’m not really good at it yet.” We bowed our heads and Rupert said, “Uh, okay. God, I think we’re all kind of scared right now, even me. Please keep us safe and get us off this island. Let the girls get back to their parents and please give me a good family one day. Please, don’t let Caroline come after us. Thanks for dying for me and becoming my Father. Amen.”
“Well, now, you don’t only have a Heavenly Father, but you also have sisters and brothers, because everyone who trusts Jesus is God’s child. So, we’re your sisters,” Natalie said.
“Yeah, welcome to the family, ARRR,” Ginny said.
A smile lit up Rupert’s face.
I got up and dried my eyes. I had to tell Ginny about Natalie’s death and to apologize. I ran back to the shelters. Ginny wasn’t in either of them.
Then, it occurred to me that Rupert wasn’t around when I found Natalie. The little creep! Had he killed everyone and then just tried to get me to believe he was innocent? Did he have Ginny now? I tried to think if Caroline really had looked like Arlene Smith-Kensington. I went to the thorn tunnel to search for Ginny and Rupert, but still no sign of them.
I ran back to the shelters, and something I didn’t notice before caught my eye. A big leaf lay on the ground. I picked it up.
On the other side, in still wet blood, it read, “Come by sundown, or they die. ASK.”
My breath caught. Arlene had Ginny and Rupert. Why had I left Ginny alone? I was so stupid. Why hadn’t I brought Ginny with me? Like an idiot, I left her alone. And now, Arlene would kill them. I put my hand in my pocket and feeling the knife there, I left to search the island. Where could they be? I looked at the sun. It was close to the horizon, but not touching it yet. Then, a scream echoed over the treetops. Ginny! Oh, God, please not her, too! I raced toward the scream, coming to the base of the mountain.
“Ginny?” I yelled.
She screamed in reply. I looked up. Did Arlene really have them all the way up there? Under normal circumstances, I would never have climbed this mountain, but my sister could die. I started climbing. I climbed the best I could, but I was terrified. I looked down. I shouldn’t have. I only managed to make it ten feet so far. The only heights I liked led to waterslides. I pressed on, just suppressing a scream when I grabbed a rock and it fell out of sight. Even though I tried not to make noise, I figured Arlene knew I approached by the sound of all the falling rocks and the scream. After what seemed like forever, I reached the ledge at the opening of the cave. I climbed onto the ledge and crawled into the cave. I strained to see the inside. It looked empty. Okay, so they weren’t there. Where were they?
The sun nearly touched the water in the distance. I had to get to them.
“Ginny?” I called. “Rupert?”
I thought I heard a stifled scream from above. I mustered up my courage and kept climbing. I looked up. Only a little farther to the next ledge. I kept climbing toward it. When I pulled myself up, I realized I’d reached the mountain top.
Arlene stood in front of me, holding Ginny around the neck with her right arm, the blade of the knife Rupert had had at Ginny’s throat. She held a knife in her left on Rupert, who sat at her feet.
“Let them go, Arlene,” I said, trying to sound brave.
“So you finally figured out who I am. Took your aunt only a day. And even your little sister figured it out before you did,” Arlene said, her typical whiny voice gone. Coldness emanated from her voice.
“So, you kill people when they find out who you are.”
“When I found out you were on the cruise, I wanted do whatever it took to hurt and kill you. Even if others had to die, I wanted to make sure you never made it home alive.”
She crashed the ship! I thought.
“Why’d you kill Liam and Daniella?” I said.
“I don’t think that’s any of your business. Now come here, Shayne.”
“Don’t do it, Shayne!” Ginny said.
“Shut up!” Arlene shouted.
“Let them go!” I said.
“No. You know what? I’ll let you choose who will die. You can have one or the other.”
“No. Take me instead.”
“You think that will save them?”
She held the knife to Rupert’s arm, and then said, “Get up.” I noticed that blood covered Rupert’s arm. I wondered if the blood on the note came from there.
“Over there,” she said, gesturing to the edge of the mountain to her right with the knife.
Rupert obeyed, but stopped about a foot and a half from the edge.
“Back up!” Arlene ordered.
Rupert shook his head.
“I said, back up!”
Rupert shook his head again.
“Stop it! Leave him alone!” I said.
“Move!” Arlene shouted to Rupert.
When Rupert didn’t, Arlene let go of Ginny and forced Rupert over the side. Ginny and I screamed.
Rupert’s scream echoed and ended abruptly as a thud resounded.
“So, Shayne, what are you going to do now?” Arlene said, yanking Ginny up by the arm with her left. Ginny yelped, but Arlene put the blade back to her throat with her right and growled, “Shut up!”
“Please, I’ll do whatever you want. Just please let my sister go,” I said.
“Don’t do that, Shaynie!” Ginny said.
“Shut up!” Arlene said again.
I tried to think fast. I had the knife in my pocket. But if I tried anything, Arlene would jam the blade into Ginny’s throat. God, please help us, I prayed.
If I could just get her away from Ginny, then maybe I could stab her.
“Arlene, you know, I know who you are. I’m a danger to you. When we get rescued, I’ll tell everyone who you are and what you’ve done. You won’t get away with killing the people you have here.”
“Oh, you think so? By the time anyone gets here, you all will be dead and buried, and I’ll tell them that I’m Caroline Tyler, the only survivor from the cruise crash.”
“Well, you might as well just kill me and get it over with. It’s not like if you kill me, it would be a bad thing for me. I know I’d be in Heaven.”
“You think you’re so brave, don’t you? Well, you know what? I think I’d rather let you see your little sister suffer and die before I kill you.”
She pulled the knife away from Ginny’s neck and would have jammed it into the lower part of Ginny’s side, except Ginny jerked to the left and Arlene got her right hip instead. Ginny screamed and tried to pull away, but Arlene kept a firm grip around her middle and the knife in her hip. Blood ran down Ginny’s leg.
“Stop! Why are you doing this to her? She didn’t do anything to you!”
“I already told you. The more pain I cause you, the happier I’ll be,” she said, glaring with the blue eyes that no longer hid behind green contacts.
My mind raced. What could I do? At least Arlene’s blade wasn’t at Ginny’s throat any more. I pulled the knife from my pocket and unsheathed it. I ran at Arlene and tried to stab her, but she jerked away, putting Ginny in front of the blade. As Ginny cried out from the knife Arlene still held in her leg, I stopped just in time to not stab Ginny.
“Just let her go and fight me. She’s only ten,” I said.
“You think I care how old she is? My son was younger than ten when I killed him.”
“Well, maybe you don’t care about your family, but I care about mine. Leave her alone and deal with me. I’m the one you want.”
“Okay, fine. Since you’re so eager to die, I’ll kill you first.”
“Let Ginny go.”
She yanked the knife out of Ginny’s leg. Ginny screamed. Arlene shoved Ginny to the ground and lunged at me. A more intense fear than I ever felt in my life gripped me. I saw this woman kill her own family and knew she killed so many others.
She tried to stab me, but I dodged it and tried to stab her. She saw it coming and dodged.
I kept trying to stab Arlene, but her skill surpassed mine by far. But another idea struck me. If I could get her closer to the edge, maybe I could force her over the side. The fall could kill her. I backed up and moved to my left, closer to the edge.
I stood only about a foot away. Thinking of forcing her over the edge made me think of Rupert. Arlene caught me by surprise and I didn’t dodge fast enough. Her knife got me in the lower right arm. I screamed in pain and grabbed my right with my left as my knife went flying over the edge. Arlene smiled.
“Well, little girl, this is the end. Any last words?”
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends,” I forced out.
“How admirable. Now, goodbye.”
I braced myself, ready for my only chance. I put out my arms and when she came at me, I pushed her to the left with all my might, but not fast enough. Pain seared my other forearm. “Ow!” I yelled. I drew back, expecting her to finish me off at any second. But to my surprise, I heard a scream. I looked up to find Ginny beside me.
“Where’s Arlene?” I asked.
“We pushed her over the edge.”
“Thank you, Ginny!” I said, grabbing her in an embrace and ignoring the pain in my arms.
She wrapped her arms around me and we both thanked God for His deliverance. Then, I caught sight of her leg. Blood saturated the right leg of her shorts. I pulled my shirt off, leaving on my tank top, and tied it around Ginny’s leg.
“Ginny, you got a tank top on?” I asked.
“Rip your shirt in half and use the halves to tie up my arms.”
“Okay.” Ginny pulled the shirt off and did as I instructed. My arms stung really badly, but the cut on my left arm wasn’t too bad and had already stopped bleeding for the most part.
Suddenly, I remembered.
“Oh, Ginny,” I said, but couldn’t go on.
“Do you know about Natalie?”
“Yes,” Ginny said, tears welling up in her eyes. “Arlene told me.”
I wrapped my arms around her. She hugged me back. I started crying, too. We cried for about ten minutes.
“Ginny, I think we should stay up here tonight, to let your leg rest, but tomorrow, we should go down.”
“I wonder how I ever believed Rupert did it. I can’t believe I didn’t recognize Arlene right off.”
“I know. He was a cool kid.”
“I liked him, Shayne.”
“I’m sorry, Ginny.”
I hugged her. She started crying again and I felt bad for bring Rupert up.
“Well, thanks for fixing my leg,” Ginny said after a few minutes as she lay on the ground.
“Thank you for saving my life,” I said, lying beside her.
“Good night, Shayne.”
“Good night, Ginny. I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
When morning came, we started our struggle down the mountain. Not only did I have the fear of heights to deal with, but I also had to help Ginny with her leg despite my wounded arms.
When we reached the cave, we found a surprise. Rupert poked his head out. “Hey, guys.”
“Rupert!” Ginny and I shouted.
We went into the cave and threw our arms around him. He winced. We both pulled away.
“Thank God you’re alive! How badly are you hurt?” I said.
“My side hurts a lot. I think I broke some ribs. And my arm hurts a whole lot, too.”
“We thought you were dead!” Ginny exclaimed.
“Well, I was lucky enough to land on that ledge, and I crawled into the cave,” Rupert said.
“But where’s Arlene?” I said, now afraid that if Rupert survived the fall, Arlene had.
“She’s dead. I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t have to! See, this knife fell from the top of the mountain and landed on the ledge, so I grabbed it. I heard Arlene screaming as she fell, but then, she caught hold of the mountain and climbed up to this cave. So, I … I killed her,” Rupert said. “Killing someone wasn’t what I expected. I always watched movies where killing the villain was amazing. But, to know that you stopped a person from living…She had a knife, though, and when she saw me, there was so much hatred in her eyes, and then she came toward me. I had to kill her or she would have killed me. But when I stabbed her, her eyes went all wide and she started gasping and I felt awful.” Rupert sounded close to tears.
“Don’t feel bad, Rupert,” Ginny said, putting her arms around him.
“It was completely self-defense!” I exclaimed. “And she was so evil. You know she killed all those other people. Now she can’t hurt anyone else. You shouldn’t feel any guilt for killing her.”
“But what if I get put in jail after someone finds us?” Rupert said.
“I don’t think they would put a kid in jail for defending himself. Especially when she was a convicted killer.”
That seemed to comfort him a bit. He took a deep breath. “Well, after I killed her, I pushed her over the side. So, she’s down there somewhere.”
When we reached the bottom of the mountain, after some searching, I found Arlene, covered in blood and very much dead.
“You know what, guys? I think we should bury her and mark the grave ‘ASK’,” I said.
“I don’t want to bury her. She doesn’t deserve it,” Ginny said.
“That’s true. I just thought writing ‘ASK’ on her grave would be ironic,” I said.
“Well, here!” Rupert said. He grabbed sticks and made the word “ASK” on the ground next to Arlene.
We actually ripped pieces of cloth from her clothes to use as bandages. It was really disgusting because she was in terrible shape, but we were kind of desperate. Then, we went back to the shelters. I wanted to get away from that body as quickly as possible. I never wanted to see Arlene Smith-Kensington again.
After that, I don’t remember how many days passed before people discovered us. Maybe three or four. By that time, Ginny could walk a little better, but she used one of us a crutch at all times. Rupert felt better, too, but his side still bothered him.
At what sounded like a whirring helicopter propeller, we went out to the beach to see if rescue really had arrived. A helicopter stood in the sand. A black woman and a woman with short blonde curls rushed up to us.
“Hello, I’m Chental Vickers, and this is Jaicelynn Starr. We’re with the Coast Guard. Are you all right?” the black woman said.
“Well, sort of,” I said. “We all have some wounds and Rupert got pushed off the mountain the other day.”
“Pushed off a mountain?” Jaicelynn said.
“It’s a long story. One of the people here was a murderer and killed four other people, until we finally killed her,” I said.
“Oh my! Where are the bodies?” Chental asked.
“I know where 3 out of 5 bodies are. I’m not sure if Arlene buried Daniella or if she’s still where I found her. My aunt is buried. The killer, and my sister aren’t. They must be awful by now. I really don’t want to see them, especially Natalie.”
“That’s your sister?” Jaicelynn asked.
“And who are you three?”
“I’m Shayne Jackson. This is my sister, Ginny, and Rupert Rutter.”
“Well, we’re pleased to meet you. I just wish it was under better circumstances. We thought the storm killed everyone, until we discovered movement on this island. This island is several nautical miles away from the initial crash. We’ll just find the bodies, and then we’ll send another helicopter to retrieve them later.”
I told Chental and Jaicelynn where to find the bodies. They came back in ten minutes. Then, we all boarded the helicopter. Once we got to the search and rescue place, they booked a flight home for us. I was so excited to see Mom and Dad that the next few hours hardly felt real.
Our parents stood outside the gate at the airport when we arrived.
“Mom! Dad!” I yelled. I was never so happy to see them in my life. I ran to them. Ginny followed slower on crutches.
For a while, I did nothing but cry and hug Mom. I heard her crying, too. Thankfully, the Coast Guard people informed them about Aunt Lorelei and Natalie’s deaths so I didn’t have to. Mom pulled back to look at me, tears still shining in her green eyes.
“Oh, my sweet girl.” She hugged me again then let go to hug Ginny.
“Daddy!” I threw myself into his arms.
“I’m so glad to have you back, beautiful.”
One Year Later
“Come on, Shayne! It’s time to go!” Ginny called. She entered my room through the open doorway.
“Go where?” I said.
“To get Rupert, of course!”
“Oh, I forgot that was today!”
“I bet you’re excited,” I said in a teasing tone of voice.
Ginny blushed. “As a matter of fact, I am.”
“Well, so am I. I’m positive our parents will make better foster parents than Miss Queenie did.”
“Um, Shaynie, I was wondering something.”
“Could I … borrow your blue Converse?” Ginny asked.
I almost didn’t expect that. Ginny hadn’t asked to borrow anything of mine since we got home.
“Sure. And I don’t wear them that much. You go ahead and keep them until I want to borrow them back.”
“No problem, little sister.”
What did you thi