MADISON AND THE LOST TREASURE
When Gram took Corrie and me to a paranormal supply shop to get new cell phones, it was our first clue that our lives were about to change. That, and the wizards.
The second was Holly. We met her at our summer “mystical arts” classes and, right away, we knew she was trouble. Holly cut out every day, to search for a priceless treasure that her grandfather had lost at the school years ago. With her crinkled-up old map, she moved around campus like a ghost, and had even found a creepy place called “the haunted hallway,” when we finally located her. Holly was hunting alright, inside one of the haunted murals!
By the time we figured out the truth about Holly’s grandfather and the dark magic that guarded his secret hiding place, we were all in deep trouble. Holly was searching for the treasure in a forbidden crypt, and everyone, including the Light-bearers, was out looking for her. I was alone, sitting inside that awful mural, clutching the final clue and watching in horror as, suddenly, the whole illusion started bursting apart, like a sugar crush in a Candy Crush game! And I was stuck in the game...
Nothing happened – again. Huffing, I couldn’t tell who was more frustrated – me, or Petre. He’d turned away quickly but I’d caught the look in his eyes. Moving an object without touching it was an important lesson and, even after Petre had reduced it from a spoon to a pencil and now to a tiny piece of paper, I still couldn’t do it. I’d learned so much from him in the past few weeks, but… well moving things with my mind was lots harder than anything else.
“No huffing!” Petre ordered sternly from his seat across the table. “Remember, it’s not just mind-control, Madison. You have to believe!” His green eyes softened kindly, though, as he urged, “Come on, Madi, try it just one more time. You can move it. I know you can!”
I nodded, hoping the doubt in my head didn’t show in my eyes. I’d been practicing so hard! But, day after day, the darn paper never budged. It seemed to me that there had to be something missing in his instructions… like maybe he’d forgotten a step? “Petre,” I asked, just a little nervously, “shouldn’t there be some kind of incantation, or some special way to move my hand, or something else?”
“Like magic?” His quirky grin cracked into snickers. “Sorry, Madi, the real deal doesn’t work that way. It takes practice – lots of practice – and belief! Now, show me that you believe in yourself, Madison.” He paused, his head cocked as he studied me. “You know, maybe you should try the other method this time.”
I scowled at the paper on the table, instead of up at him. Lifting a paper was even harder than pushing it! Plus, it hadn’t worked before so why’d he think it would it work now?
But it did… I’d closed my eyes tight and imagined myself crouched underneath the tiny, crinkled paper. Just me and the paper – no table between us. When I could “look up” and “see” it lying flat above me, I puckered my lips and blew gently. And shivered. For just a second, in my mind it looked like an edge of the sheet had lifted up a tiny bit. Could it be? I puffed a little harder. This time the paper jumped up into the air!
“Yes, Madi, yes!” Petre, my super-composed, midnight tutor practically shrieked. My eyes were closed, but I could almost see the little bubbles that still popped up around him when he got excited. He jumped up, his chair scraping the floor. “You did it, Madison, you did it!”
“Oh, no! You didn’t!” At Mom’s anguished cry, my eyelids flew open and I swung around guiltily. It had sounded like she was right next to me! But except for Petre and me, the bedroom was empty. I breathed a small sigh of relief, then my frustration returned. The scrap of paper that I’d moved, was dropping to the floor. And now my concentration was totally shot.
Petre seemed just as stunned by the interruption as I was; his eyes were all whites and his mouth formed a small “o.” Before either of us could say a word, Mom’s angry voice called out again, “Stuart, tell me you didn’t do that!”
“Gotta go,” Petre spoke softly, shaking his head as he faded into my closed bedroom door. The lesson was over; a few stray bubbles and his encouraging words were all that was left of him. “Keep practicing, Madison. And next time you’ll be able to do it with your eyes open.”
^ ^ ^
At once my half-sleep state vanished and I found myself standing alone in my room, wide-awake. Dropping onto my bed, I wondered what on earth was going on. It figured that just when I was finally getting somewhere with Petre’s hardest lesson yet, something would go wrong!
Almost in answer, another, deeper voice mumbled close by. It sounded like Dad, but whatever he was saying wasn’t making Mom any happier.
“But, but you can’t do that!” Her cries seemed to pierce the wall into my room, which was a surprise in itself. Mom never yelled. Not ever. But now she was practically screeching. Heart pounding, I jumped back up and pressed my ear to the wall to see if I could find out what on earth had made her so mad.
As if we’d both suddenly remembered that Dad’s new “office” was really a closet that shared a wall with my bedroom, Mom’s voice level dropped octaves. I leaned my whole body into the thin wall and even plugged my other ear with my finger, but all I could hear now was murmuring. I couldn’t make out a single word. But the tone was clear – and it sounded bad.
Tiptoeing back to bed, I crawled under the covers and worried. Had Dad quit his job? It was all he’d talked about since he and Uncle Norman had flipped that big house last year. That must be it. What else would get Mom so upset? She had sounded kind of scared, too, so it made sense. Rolling over, I punched my pillow. If Dad quit his job, how would we live?
^ ^ ^
Ever since Dad and Uncle Norman had discovered all those house flipping shows on TV, they’d been absolutely certain that “flipping” would be a great business venture. Mom was just as sure that they were going through a phase and that it would pass, so she mostly smiled and ignored them. After all, they both already had good jobs. Uncle Norman was a history teacher and Dad’s in charge of the City’s computers.
Of course neither of them make a lot of money and the people on TV who rehabbed houses always got rich. Uncle Norman and Dad had talked about it constantly until a couple of summers ago, when they’d finally tried it. From the minute they’d bought that first small house they’d been hooked. They’d worked hard to get it fixed up and on the market quickly. In just weeks the house was sold – and so were they. It didn’t sound to me like it was “just a phase.”
The next house had sold more slowly, but still they’d made good money. So last year they’d bought the big house in New Haven. That one was a lot harder to fix up and sell, plus they hadn’t made nearly as much money. Aunt Sheila had blamed the economy – not them. So when she sweetly asked Uncle Norman to take a break from flipping houses “just ‘till the housing market gets better”, Uncle Norman had agreed to do it, at least for a little while.
But not Dad. He’d wanted to keep at it. So, for months now he’d been looking at houses. Lots of houses. Most were empty and pretty much a mess – what he called “potential flips.” Mom just shook her head and sort of laughed, telling him they were more like “perfect flops”, but Dad didn’t care. He was sure he just needed to find the right one. Mom was every bit as sure that it was never gonna’ happen.
I sighed, then rolled onto my stomach and stretched out under my blankets. From the sounds of it, she must have been wrong – again. And one thing Mom doesn’t like is being wrong. I brightened a little. Maybe that’s all it was. Gradually the angry grumbling from the other side of the wall softened and my parents’ murmuring voices lulled me back to sleep.
Sunlight was barely glancing through my window when I woke. I hopped out of bed, anxious to try to move a piece of paper for real while everyone else was still sleeping.
It happened faster this time. I’d barely closed my eyes when I could “see” the paper, and just my regular breathing seemed to make it flutter. I hardly had to try. Puffing gently, I imagined it floating in the air above me. Higher and higher it rose, until it hovered near the ceiling, looking like a little patch of sky against the white popcorn paint. I was really doing it! Then doubt crept in, yipping that maybe I was just imagining it and that all I had to do was open my eyes and I’d see that the paper was still sitting on my bureau.
As soon as the uncertainty had found a voice, the little paper had started falling. It was almost at my shoulder when I decided I might as well open my eyes and check. And there it was. The wisp of light blue paper was slowly drifting to the floor, right next to me. It really had moved! And I had moved it all by myself!
I was still watching the paper swirl slowly to the floor when my bedroom door banged open and Megs stormed in. My older sister, Margaret-Mary, hated mornings even more than she hated me. And that was a lot. Mom always said that of course Megs didn’t really hate me, she’d just felt “displaced” when I was born. It seemed like Mom was always trying to make it up to her -- but it didn’t work. Megs was barely okay with our little brothers and pretty ratty to me.
“Mom says to get you bag packed and put it in the Jeep right now,” Megs growled. Her cell phone jingled that she had a text message and her eyes lit up as she read it, tossing her long, tangled blonde hair over her pajama-clad shoulders. “Yes!” she shouted, waving the phone. “Guess where I’m going Saturday night?” Her sing-song, uppity voice was so irritating.
“Duh! Do I look like I forgot? Ge-eez! You’ve been fighting with Mom all week about how you can’t possibly come to Gram’s house because you used your birthday money to buy those tickets to see “Wicked Cool” at the Hartford Civic Center!” As usual, Mom had given in. Dad had to work, anyway, so he’d be home. Dad. The sudden memory of Mom’s wail last night stabbed me in the stomach, and all the fight left me. Who cared what Megs was doing with her “perfect” friends, anyway? “Okay, tell her I’m getting packed right now,” I said, turning to get the rolling back-pack out of my closet.
“Tell her yourself! Besides, don’t you want to know who I’m going with?” The taunt in her voice warned that she was up to trouble, but I didn’t care. Worry about Dad had settled in my chest, like a bad cold. “Brad,” she leaned over me, whispering dramatically.
“What?” I popped up, nearly hitting her face. “I thought you were going with Tori and Juniper!” Oh, this was bad. Almost sixteen, Megs went out all the time. Golden blonde and pretty like Mom, she was seriously popular at her high school. Mom and Dad weren’t like her friends’ parents, though. They insisted that she could only go out on double-dates or in groups, but it didn’t matter. She’d been finding ways to sneak out alone with Brad for weeks.
“Don’t look at me like that – and you’d better not tell Mom, either! Besides, I didn’t lie, I am going with Tor and Juni – I’m just not staying with them!”
As if that made a difference. I closed my mind so I wouldn’t accidentally read her thoughts. That way I wouldn’t have to know what was really going on, so I wouldn’t feel guilty about not telling Mom.
“Oh, and Mom says she’ll pick you up at school after she brings me home from Mercy.” She snorted, shaking her head. “Boy were you dumb! Getting stuck going to Gram’s house for three whole days – again!” She snorted. “Thank God I got out of the ‘big cleaning weekend’ this year! While you guys are doing slave labor up at the Cape, I’ve got a smashing weekend planned. And Dad’s gonna’ be so busy with that stupid house that he’ll never even know!”
Wait… Megs knew what was going on with Dad? Whipping around, I started to snap back at her that at least I was getting an extra day off from school. Then I thought better of it. She might be planning to skip tomorrow and I didn’t want to know that, either. Anyway, I loved going to Cape Cod and “cleaning weekend” just meant that we spent part of the weekend before Memorial Day helping Gram to get her house ready for all her summer visitors. Which included us! Plus, that rat Megs knew that I liked going. My cousin Corrie’s family was going too, so it was always fun! Cor’s my best friend – well, these days she’s practically my only friend…
Oh, Megs was so mean! I should have just read her mind and gotten it over with. Now I’d have to play dumb and hope that she’d tell me what was going on with Dad. “What are you talking about? What house?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Megs grinned heartlessly, then turned and swished out of the room. But I already knew. In the instant she’d thought it, I’d ‘seen’ it – Dad had bought a house! A big old wreck of a house… and he hadn’t told Mom, either, until last night. Thank God tonight we’d all be riding up to Gram’s in Aunt Crys’ huge new SUV instead of just meeting there! I had a feeling that Mom was gonna’ be mad for a long, long time.
^ ^ ^
She was really quiet when she picked me up at Franklin Jr. High, and she didn’t talk at all on the drive up I-95. So, instead of answering her questions about school, I concentrated on keeping my four-and-a-half-year-old twin brothers busy while she maneuvered our Jeep through the traffic to Old Saybrook, where Aunt Crys and Uncle Edmond had moved into in a house “on the beach.” Actually it was across the street from the beach on a rounded slope of land, at the end of a whole road of large, showy houses.
This year we’d be leaving for the Cape right after dinner instead of really early in the morning, like Mom usually did on cleaning weekend. But even though getting up in the dark to leave was a pain, hanging around Corrie’s house at night made me a little jittery. They’d bought the place last summer and it still had weird vibes…even though Gram had done a “cleansing” right away and another secret ritual after they’d finally discovered the ghosts. It wasn’t just because odd smells still popped up here and there and sometimes clung to corners. Nope, you could feel Corrie’s house. The air vibrated with an energy that made your skin tingle, like something was about to happen. And even if the eeriness had been prayed out of the painted walls last fall, Aunt Crys still had her own bizarre stuff tucked into spots all over the house.
As soon as she heard the back door open, Corrie yelled down for me to hurry upstairs. I raced across the kitchen and down the hallway to the main stairs, trying to ignore the huge ginger jar twinkling at me from the fireplace mantle in the living room. Once again, the covered, crystal jar was filled with teeny white lights. Those little pinpricks of light were always glowing and bouncing around inside the jar. Always. I’d looked – hard -- but I couldn’t find any plug or batteries or any energy source.
The dining room across from the kitchen held something Mom called the “Tinkle Bells” – a twisted, tree-like plant in the far corner that grew little, clear glass bells. Sometimes it would start vibrating and the bells would tinkle, sounding like tiny glass wind chimes. When that happened, Aunt Crys would get so excited that her hair sparkled and her skin glowed. Kind of like Petre’s did sometimes… But when it happened to Aunt Crys, she’d have to go out, so I figured it was some kind of secret signal. I’d carefully investigated that, too, and had come up empty again. It was a real plant with glass-like bells for flowers, growing in regular dirt in a ceramic pot. There was nothing around that would make the little tree shake, either! I’d always wanted to ask Cor about the “Tinkle Bells” but I never did. I just figured they must be normal to her, like lots of things that weren’t allowed at our house, but were okay in hers.
Maybe Cor had more leeway to use her “abilities” because Aunt Crys was a High School teacher. She always encouraged Corrie to “open her mind and stretch her mental faculties” – which right now meant that Cor was the youngest member of a ghost-hunting group that investigated haunted houses in the area. Aunt Crys and Uncle Ed had even bought her a special night-vision camera for her fourteenth birthday last week. It was all she talked about.
I took the stairs two-by-two, in a hurry to show off my new power for Cor. She was the one person who’d be really excited. While other kids thought I was a little strange because of the things I could do, Corrie was good with it. She was ‘different’, too; she could see ghosts and even remember everything she ever saw. Plus, she had this ability to actually make stuff happen. Like when our cat was missing and Corrie sat down on my rug and concentrated on Miss Kitty until the air around her started to dance – and Miss Kitty came home.
She was constantly talking about paranormal stuff – even at school. But it was okay for Cor, probably because Uncle Edmond was a big-time psychiatrist. A few years ago he’d written a book called “Shades of Normal” about different levels of autism and it had made him sort of famous. He’d even been on TV shows to talk about the book. So the kids at Worth, Cor’s private school across the river, thought she was great, no matter what.
I’d barely rounded the upper stairway landing when she grabbed me by the hand and pulled me through her huge room to her desk. “Wait’ll you see this!” she cried, pushing me into the chair in front of her computer, where she’d uploaded a picture from her new camera. “Okay, Mad. Look real close and tell me what you see.”
Swallowing my excitement about my own news, I forced myself to concentrate on the picture that filled the screen: A dark, eerie-looking hallway, lined with closed, wooden doors. Two-thirds of the way down the hall, the shadowy corridor was split by a dimly lit stairwell on the right. But it was the small white mist at the base of the stairs that grabbed my attention. The speckles of lighter air seemed to be shaped into the image of a small girl in a frilly dress. There was no color to the picture, just different shades of grey, light and white. But that didn’t matter. It was real -- I could feel it. Sitting back, I could easily see the little girl inside the mist… and somehow I “knew” that her name was Karen. Staring at the image, I was touched by a deep sadness that filled the air around her. It seemed to flow out to me from the computer screen.
My skin started tingling as a feeling of misery swirled around me. I could almost hear people crying for her, missing her… and something else. A feeling that I couldn’t quite catch. “Where… Where did you take this?”
I tried to hide the shakiness in my voice, but Corrie didn’t notice, anyway. She was too busy bursting with pride. “At the old Orchard Street School in New Haven. People have been seeing a little girl there for years, but no one had ever investigated it before.”
“Did you see her? Could you feel it?” ‘She must have’, I thought, because the painful emotion was still so strong.
“Everyone saw the ghost, but only my camera caught it – and clear, too! My new camera is so great!”
She glanced proudly at the picture, then slowly turned and frowned at me. “Feel it? Feel what? Did you feel something?”
Trying not to let on how much the picture moved me, I whispered, “sort of”, even though waves of pain were still rolling out at me from the picture. My eyes ached like I needed to cry. She was so young, so innocent… The word jumped out at me.
“What’s the story?” I looked up from the computer, hoping that the strange sensations would stop.
“Supposedly the ghost was this great little girl who was killed with her dad in a car crash years and years ago,” Corrie’s voice had become animated again. “Back then the whole school was upset because she was the granddaughter of someone important. Plus all the teachers and kids really liked her. They even had a little plaque made in her memory. It’s buried in the huge bushes by the fence that’s out front now, but we found it.” She leaned forward anxiously. “Do you… Madi, do you think it really could be her?”
“Maybe. It makes sense.” I smiled at her, feeling better and sharing her enthusiasm now that I wasn’t looking at the screen. “It’s a great picture, Cor!”
She beamed. Her sea-blue eyes danced with excitement under shiny, dark brown bangs. Then she looked down at the picture again and grimaced. “If it’s her, though, I should make sure. Don’t you think? Maybe you could help me look up the accident online this weekend? D’ya think we could find the newspaper story?”
“Probably, but you’d have to know about when it happened. Oh, and her name.”
“Well, duh!” Corrie responded. “It was on the stone. She died on February 2nd, 1978, so the accident must have happened then. Someone in our group said they were hit by a car that skidded out of control… Anyway, her name was Karen -- Karen Burke.”
This title does not have Book Reviews.
Please check back for updates.
Company Information Order Options Booksellers Careers Charity Programs
Copyright © 2003 - 2020 Silver Leaf Books, LLC. All rights reserved.