Treasure Cave by Michael J. Trigg - HTML preview
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– CHAPTER ONE –
The road from the top of Old Tom’s Hill led straight down into the main street of the small seaside town of Ocean Park. Keegan Clarke stood aside the crossbar of his well used mountain bike. The look on his face was grim as he cinched up his chin strap. His long blonde hair stuck out at all angles from under his helmet. He had blue eyes and an infectious grin and was wearing an old sun bleached Tshirt, baggy shorts and runners with no socks. Leaning over the handlebars, he stared down the steep hill that fell away before him. He checked his watch. “OK, this is it.” he muttered under his breath.
Releasing his brakes, he pedaled fiercely and then let the momentum carry him off down the hill. He glanced up from his head-down position over the handlebars and saw the town loom closer – much closer and very, very quickly. In fact – too quickly. He was sure he was close to the speed of sound. His eyes were watering. As he sped down the last part of the hill and entered the main street he glanced at his watch and then lifted one hand into the air, pumped once and let out an exhilarating whoop.
There was a startled look on the faces of several townsfolk as they jumped out of the way. Dogs ran for cover and cats scurried up trees for safety. Keegan zoomed through Main Street and headed right for the front door of the General Store halfway down the street. Both his hands pumped the brake handles with no noticeable effect. Keegan glanced up to see the doors of the store rushing towards him – far too quickly but it was too late.
“Uuuuh Oooooooooh!!! Noooooooooooooooooo!!!”
Inside the store, Mr. Shama, the wise and mysterious proprietor leaned over the counter reading his morning paper.
A kindly looking man with a soft voice, longish gray hair and bright laughter filled eyes, he was a favorite in town with both adults and children alike. His old time shop was a general store with a curious selection of strange bits and pieces from horseshoes to big old saw blades as well as old fashioned candy jars, gardening tools and agricultural implements displayed side by side with ghetto-blasters, TV's and computer games. In one corner was an old fashioned soda fountain.
“He sure likes to keep a lot of old junk in there, believe me.” Keegan’s dad said though he still liked browsing through the “old junk” as much as Keegan did. When Mr. Shama heard Keegan's hollering, he smiled to himself and murmured. “Ah yes - school, is obviously out.
Mr. Shama left his paper and walked casually over to the main door at the front of the store. He stood to one side, grasping the big old brass doorknob in his hand. He began to count down.
On "one", he pulled open the door and Keegan exploded through the doorway in a cloud of dust. His bike seemed to leap through the door and then slid along the old wooden floor with Keegan hanging on for dear life. Keegan and the bike came to rest against the back wall of the store. A display of plastic spray bottles tumbled all around him.
As the dust settled, Keegan looked up from under his bike helmet and grinned an embarrassed grin at the storekeeper. Keegan’s knapsack had burst open on the floor beside him. A loop of rope, a water bottle, some climbing equipment and a rolled up map lay scattered about.
Keegan shook himself and struggled to his feet, attempting to straighten his bike helmet that had slipped forward over his eyes.
“Hi Mr. Shama! I need a new compass, a snorkel, licorice, a magnifying glass, a………………… “
“Whoa there, Keegan Clarke!!” Mr. Shama interrupted sternly. “Slow down there. What you really need is a new set of brakes for that bike of yours young man…….. and tighter straps on your helmet.”
He reached out and pulled Keegan's helmet up from over his eyes. “You will seriously wipe out my store one of these days young Clarke.” Keegan smiled disarmingly at the old storekeeper.
“Gee, I’m sorry Mr. Shama. I just wanted to beat my time down Old Tom’s Hill. I didn’t realize my brakes were so bad.”
He bent down and put his scattered belongings back in his backpack. “I have a lot of exploring to do this summer Mr. Shama.” he said earnestly. “ So, I’m going to need a lot of stuff.”
“Well, slow down just the same Master Keegan or else you'll be spending your summer exploring the hospita!”
Keegan grinned mischievously. “OK Mr. Shama, I’ll try and stay under warp speed.”
Mr. Shama attempted to look stern but couldn’t hide a faint grin.
“Ahem.” he said with a straight face. “Yes. Now, what can my humble store supply the great treasure hunter with this time? You do have credit for the cleanup work you did for me after that big rainstorm. Now don’t forget.” he said, eyes twinkling and waggling a finger at Keegan. “I get 25% of whatever treasure you find. Deal?”
Keegan looked at him seriously.
“Yes sir Mr. Shama. I haven’t forgotten. We have a deal. Twenty five percent of all treasur.”
“Treasure? Did I hear the word treasure?”
The words were whispered in a creepy voice by a tall strange looking man dressed in a long oilskin coat. He had a black broad-brimmed hat placed at a sinister angle on a thin head and he peered around the open doorway of the store. Reywal De Koorc did a swift double take and then peered back around the door. A recent resident in town, he had taken over the old Play-land imitation castle on the outskirts of Ocean Park and converted it into a rather mysterious and spooky residence. Considered to be quite weird, bad tempered and eccentric by those few town’s people who had met him, he and a somewhat stranger companion kept to themselves except for an occasional excursion into town to buy supplies.
Inside the store and unaware of the onlooker, Keegan unrolled the map from his backpack on the general store’s dusty countertop. He and Mr. Shama scrutinized it with great interest. Keegan stabbed his finger at several points on the map. “So you see, this year I'm going to find treasure for sure!”
Mr. Shama looked at the map and smiled. “Ah yes, so I see Keegan. You've put a lot more X's on the map than you did last year.” Mr. Shama tapped a finger against his head. “Smart thinking.”
“But………” Mr. Shama looked around and then leaned conspiratorially closer to Keegan “……you know something, Keegan?”
“What Mr. Shama?”
Mr. Shama pulled a black grease pen from his pocket and made a large X at a point on the map where the cliffs met the shoreline.
“I have a feeling, in fact I know, if you start just about here……..” Keegan looked at the mark in awe.
“You think there is some really cool stuff there Mr. Shama?”
Mr. Shama nodded his head seriously.
“Yes I do. Now, I have something special for you Master Keegan that may come in very handy in your adventures this summer.”
Mr. Shama glanced around and ensuring there were no customers entering the store took a small glossy black box from his coat pocket. He opened the lid on the box and removed a bright green stone that he handed to Keegan. The stone appeared to shimmer in the dusty light of the store. Keegan examined at it with interest as he moved the stone around in his hands. It felt warm to the touch and light seemed to glow from inside the stone. Keegan looked up at Mr. Shama who was studying his reaction to the stone with interest.
“Is this a lucky rock?”
Mr. Shama nodded wisely. “Yes, you could say that Keegan, you could say that. Yes, really.”
Cupping his hand to his mouth he said to Keegan in a conspiratorial tone. “This is our secret. Take great care of the stone Keegan. In fact, place it safely into the bottom of your backpack.”
He watched as Keegan tucked the stone away in one of the pockets of his backpack and nodded sagely. “Well done, now let me get you your licorice – oh, and the other important supplies every great treasure hunter requires. And, maybe you have time for a complimentary soda.”