The Trespasser’s Unexpected Adventure: Chapter One
Saturday Morning, Summer Half-Term School Holidays
Logan didn’t even look at the sign, let alone read it. He knew what it said off by heart: “Private Property. Keep Out. Trespassers will be Prosecuted”. He had always kept out, just like it said, but it was only seven-thirty on a Saturday morning and there was no one around. It was safe to ignore the sign.
Earlier in the week he had spoken with Janet, a friend of his foster parents who managed Hideaway Lodge, an exclusive retreat for the wealthy. She had told him that no one was staying in the lodge this weekend. It was within walking distance of his home in Cawsand, near Plymouth, so he’d sneaked out early that morning. All he wanted to do was get down to its private beach and check it out for himself. One of the guys at school said there was an awesome as cave down there.
The descent was about sixty feet. He could climb down easily enough—he was pretty good at climbing and he could map out a route from where he was standing. Still, he liked to abseil down, which was why he had taken the gear bag belonging to his older foster brother that morning. Hopefully Cole wouldn’t notice it was missing.
Logan pulled out a harness and put it on, then set up an anchor around a sturdy tree. After attaching a holding brake between the anchor and his harness, he threaded his rope through a couple of rap rings, doubling it over at the centre. He wasn’t quite sure how long the rope was. It might be a bit short, so he tied a knot in both ends so he wouldn’t rappel off it by mistake. After attaching his belay device to the rope he double-checked everything, removed his brake and stepped out backwards over the edge.
He enjoyed the jumping sensation each time he pushed out from the cliff. After all the effort he had taken to set up safely, the abseil down took hardly any time, but the fun of it made the effort worthwhile. He liked any activity with a bit of risk, because if he got hurt, it was his fault—his mistake. He loved the sense of being in control—he had never felt that when he lived with his father.
He had turned thirteen last month and there was nothing from his father. Nothing at all. Not an email or a phone call or anything. Useless. His father had been hopeless his entire life. Why couldn’t he have a decent dad? Maybe it was his fault his father was such a loser. Since his birthday it felt like this black cloud had descended round his head and was gripping his shoulders.
But this morning he had left the black cloud on top of the cliff. He was down on the beach and he was going to explore.
He untied himself from the rope and started to hide it behind some branches.
“Don’t do that!” A girl’s voice sounded behind him. “I want a turn.”
Logan groaned as he turned around. “I thought no one was here.”
The girl’s green eyes sparkled. She leaned forward, looked around, lowered her voice and said, “If you’d come yesterday, no one would have been here, because yesterday my name was ‘No one’. I was an escaped prisoner from the Mines of Certain Doom and Death, and I didn’t want anyone to see me.”
She stood up straight and placed her hand on the hilt of a sword tied to her belt. “Today I’ve got a new name, so please don’t call me ‘No one’. I’ll get my days mixed up, and very bad things happen when I get my days mixed up.”
She scowled at him, and then grinned.
Logan screwed up his face as he deciphered this – obviously, he was dealing with an expert at make-believe.
The girl was probably about eleven. She was skinny, with long black hair plaited down her back. She wore shorts and a T-shirt with a pirate bandana on her head and although it was just eight in the morning, she jumped from foot to foot as if the sand was too hot for her. Poet, his younger foster sister, would say the girl was pretty. Not that he ever paid much attention to that kind of thing. Her sword was interesting though—it looked almost real. He could do some damage with that.
“What’s your name today?” he asked.
“Captain Happy, of course! The friendliest pirate on all the seas,” she said, flourishing her sword, “and I’d be mighty happy if you gave me a turn with that there rope of yours.”
She dropped the sword, grabbed the rope out of Logan’s hands, and started climbing hand over hand, kicking herself out from the cliff with her feet.
“Hang about Captain Happy—you should have safety gear on!” He started free climbing up after her. She was an incredible climber. He had never seen anyone her age handle a rope so fast and skilfully. There probably wasn’t much point going after her, except that if she fell he would be in so much trouble.
“Get down from there. Right now!” a man’s voice shouted from below.
Captain Happy froze. A burst of angry Italian exploded from her lips. She swung back down to Logan and paused.
“It’s Captain Blackbeard the Destroyer. Don’t worry, I’ve got this. Give him a minute to yell at me, and then come down.”
Captain Blackbeard started shouting at her before she reached the ground. “I thought we had a deal. No more climbing unless I’m with you!”
Logan winced. Must be her father. Maybe he should escape to the top of the cliff while he still had time.
“Climb down here, young man, or I’ll come and get you. And I’m twice as fast as she is, so don’t even think about going up.”
Too late! Captain Blackbeard sure sounded stern. If he was faster than Captain Happy, Logan had only one choice. He headed down, hoping he could outrun him if he needed to.
When he got down he stole a few furtive glances at Captain Blackbeard from underneath his fringe. He was a strong-looking man, clean-shaven, with short straight black hair and vivid green eyes, the same colour as Captain Happy’s. He almost looked like a movie star, or perhaps an international espionage agent. Hopefully he wasn’t carrying a gun.
“You must be Logan,” Captain Blackbeard said.
Logan pushed his fringe aside and stared at Captain Blackbeard. He was frowning, though Logan noticed a smile in his eyes.
“Wha … How’d you know that?” Logan asked.
The frown suffocated the smile out of the man’s eyes, so Logan added a respectful, ‘Sir’.
“Janet told me. We arrived two nights ago, so I called in on her to check up on a few things. She said there was a young guy who’d wanted to know if anyone was staying this weekend. She figured you were going to come down that cliff looking for the cave.”
“Snapped!” said Captain Happy, clapping her hands together.
“So, how were you going to explore the cave when you need a rope to climb to it and your only rope is double-knotted and can’t be pulled down?” Captain Blackbeard asked.
“Um …” What an idiot!
There was silence for a full minute. Captain Blackbeard’s stare was intense, like a storm cloud full of lightning. Logan dropped his gaze and watched his shuffling feet. Should he run now?
Captain Blackbeard chuckled—Logan looked up. The smile in Captain Blackbeard’s eyes now reached down to his mouth, and it felt like the sun had come out.
“Did you not read the sign about trespassers?” Captain Blackbeard asked.
“No, actually, I didn’t. I’m really sorry about that.”
Captain Happy spoke up in a serious tone, her nose pointing upwards. “It’s obvious Captain Cliffhanger here has a moral objection to reading. I suggest we make him walk the plank, and once he’s been well and truly mutton-lated by the sharks we give him pancakes till his stomach bursts.”
“You mean mutilated,” Captain Blackbeard said. “Or, we could do the pancakes first and see if he keeps any treasure in his stomach when it bursts open, then feed him to the sharks.”
Captain Happy poked Logan’s stomach with her sword. “What d’ya say, Captain Cliffhanger? Pancakes and sharks with us here pirates, or another boring day at the top of the rope?”
She came close and whispered in his ear, “Don’t worry about the sharks. He’ll forget all about them after the third pancake.”
Logan hesitated, but the look of cheerful expectancy on Captain Happy’s face banished his uncertainties away. This could be fun—even if it did mean acting like a silly eleven-year-old.
“The pancakes sound pretty good to me, Captain Happy. But can I ask one thing?” he said.
“You can speak, prisoner,” she said, her nose back in the air.
“Why is he called Captain Blackbeard when he doesn’t even have a moustache?” He lowered his voice and pretended to look around for danger.
The two Captains looked at each other. “Observant fellow, isn’t he?” Captain Blackbeard said. “Make a good spy.”
“True,” said Captain Happy. She turned to Logan and said, “He’s unco-nerdo.”
Captain Blackbeard frowned at her. “Incognito,” he corrected.
“That too,” said Captain Happy. “But don’t let the disguise fool you. One angry look from him can fry your organs inside of you, even when it’s pouring with rain and snowing on your head.”
She clutched her stomach and took a few staggering steps. “You’ll die a sudden but agonising death.”
That was true, Logan thought. Captain Blackbeard’s stare a minute ago had fried Logan’s insides for sure.
“But you’ll also die smiling, because Captain Happy here makes everyone laugh, even when they’re being tortured by having a bulldog clip pegged on their tongue,” said Captain Blackbeard. “I suggest we go now before the First Mate gets angry about Janet’s pancakes getting cold.”
He turned to Logan. “We don’t want to make the First Mate angry, or we’ll all get thrown to the sharks before we get to eat anything.”
“Scary!” Captain Happy trembled before running off. After only a few feet she ran back and pulled on Logan’s arm.
“Race ya!” she shouted.
Logan frowned. “But I don’t know where I’m going.”
Captain Happy was bouncing up and down. “I know, I know! That means you’ll have to follow me and I’m sure to win! I never get to beat Captain Blackbeard.”
She turned and took off.
Logan laughed and chased after her. Today he was going to forget his problems, and have some fun. Perhaps even be ridiculous. It didn’t matter—nobody he knew was about, so he could be as silly as he liked. These people were probably only here for the weekend anyway. He would never see them again. He was going to focus on being the best pirate he could be. Or maybe the worst.
Charles Gomander sat on his balcony, looking out at the lake. Only a few more days and he would be wealthier than he had ever dreamed possible. One final delivery from Hideaway Lodge, and he would be able to disappear. No more obnoxious students ignoring him. He could spend the rest of his life visiting the locations he had tried to teach those ungrateful brats about.
As long as it went smoothly and no one saw what was going on. The men from London were getting anxious about how long this whole covert deal had taken, and how much hard cash it was costing them. Not that they wouldn’t get it all back a hundred times over.
Thankfully, he had Oscar and Zach to sort out any problems. They weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, even if it meant spilling a bit of blood. That’s what would have to happen to anyone who got in the way now.
It was warm outside, but Charles shivered. He wasn’t a murderer, but he knew he wouldn’t stand in the way of Oscar or Zach, if that’s what they had to do. Not when he was this close to having it all.
Story by Karen Cossey
Copyright © Karen Cossey, 2015
Bestselling mystery story for 9-12 year olds.
When Logan trespasses onto private property he never expected he'd make friends with a wealthy and mysterious family. Neither did he expect to be captured by shipwreck pirates. Now he must fight for his life and the lives of his family and new friends.
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