The Crossbones, p.9Patrick Carman
Mayor Blake really knew how to lay it on thick, which I suppose is a good thing to have in a mayor. I had a feeling he was going to sail through the next election without much trouble.
I felt bad about Gladys’s floor, but she didn’t seem to mind. Soon they’d move the library somewhere else and give her a real book budget. We might even get some books on tape and a computer in there, which, I had to admit, made me feel pretty good, too.
There was just one thing I didn’t feel great about as people streamed up the steps to shake my hand. Sure, we’d solved a major mystery right under our parents’ noses. And it was true we’d given something back to the world that had long been lost. But it didn’t change the fact that Sarah was going to have to drive home in a few days. It didn’t change the fact that the ghost of Old Joe Bush had given me one more envelope that night underground in Portland. It was a black envelope, old and marred at the edges.
Inside? Another puzzle.
Only this time, it was no Skull Puzzle.
In place of the skull was a black raven.
We’d made him angry, this Raven, whoever he or it was.
There were five more places to go, none of which I’d figured out yet, and Sarah was going to have to visit them on her return trip to Boston. It was the only way.
She’d find the ghost of Old Joe Bush out there.
She’d find the Raven out there.
And she’d uncover the last secret of the Crossbones.
My guess? Whatever it is sits right under our noses. All roads lead back to Skeleton Creek in the end, I’m sure of it.
But the most terrifying part of all? The part that will give me nightmares for weeks after?
I know who the Raven was, and I know what he carried around with him.
I figured it out that night, walking toward the library with my dad and my mom, carrying an ax that would rip open the past.
“Fitz never showed up for the fishing trip,” my dad said as we walked. “He up and quit at the last second, left me high and dry. Longest two days of my life trying to guide four fishermen by myself.”
Could it have been Fitz outside my window that last night before I left, watching me, wondering where I might go the next day? All I could think of the second Dad told me about Fitz was that smell. The smell of burning oil all the way to Portland. And then I knew: It was Fitz who had put the GPS phone in the glove box. (I’d asked my parents about it, and they had no idea what I was talking about.) He’d followed me all the way out of town on that crazy motorcycle of his. It was that bike of his I’d smelled, not my mom’s junker. Thank God I’d lost him when I turned off that cell phone, because if I hadn’t, who knows what might have happened in the Underground.
I might never have made it out of there alive.
I rode my bike out to Fitz’s trailer, but I knew I wouldn’t find anyone at home. The motorcycle was gone and so was the truck Fitz’s dad used to haul wood out of the forest. The sorry little mobile home was abandoned, but on the steps there was a fly box, the one Fitz always carried around in his fishing vest. I opened it up and found a note inside.
My dad wasn’t the only one carrying an ax. There was a certain man of the woods, a loner, a woodcutter. The dad of the only friend I had in town.
A guy who called himself the Raven.
The last three Crossbones members at war: the Apostle, Henry, the Raven.
One of them dead, one of them gone off his rocker, one of them after me.
Three hidden treasures: the gold, the Jefferson books, and what?
I wish I could say I know all the answers, but I don’t.
I rode my bike back into Skeleton Creek, Fitz’s old fly box in my shirt pocket, and thought about how far I was from safe.
My journey wasn’t over yet.
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First edition, September 2010
Illustrations by Joshua Pease and Squire Broel
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Patrick Carman, The Crossbones
The Crossbones by Patrick Carman / Mystery & Detective / Horror / Young Adult have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes