Dana wishes she’d have just followed one rule...
The Mystery of Windesta Creek
CHAPTER
22
Finding Miss. Hollis
We had all gotten a good nights rest. I, not wanting to go back to Lil’s house right now, opted for another epic, rock climbing sleepover at Gwen’s super-cool mansion. I had to admit, it was just as amazing as usual. We made smores this time and ate like ten of them.
Parker, on the other hand, surprised us. He decided to stay in the tree house, pouring over his map of Windesta Creek, tweaking it. Now it included the Catacombs as well.
Now we knew what we had to do. We clearly needed to find the real victim of this whole ordeal, kidnapped Miss. Hollis. I never knew her, and the little I had spoken to her on the first fateful night, she wasn’t exactly the cordial type. But she didn’t deserve to be kidnapped, just as Charisma didn’t deserve to be left on that island. I wondered what she was doing right now. Maybe she was okay. But I doubted that. There wasn’t anything in Elwes that possibly could have helped Charisma.
Just as we were leaving the house to get Parker, though, we encountered a huge problem...
“Gwen!” Gwen’s mother shouted.
“Gwen, why in the world is a plane sitting in our yard? You better have a good explanation for this, young lady!”
Oh, no. This was worse then my worst fear. Getting in trouble with someone else’s mom. There was no way we could justify crashing a plane into Windesta Creek! Then we’d have to explain why we were poking around in other people’s houses, not to mention the Catacombs! And we stole a plane off of Elwes. This couldn’t end well, no matter how I spun it.
“Mom! Come on! Why would there be a plane in the yard? And how would I get it there? We’ve been hanging out with Parker all day yesterday.” Gwen replied. It wasn’t exactly a lie... but I didn’t like it. It didn’t seem right, or natural.
“Well, I’m going to check that out. Stay in the house, Gwen!” She huffed, walking outside.
As soon as she left, Gwen gave a a sly glance. Then she pointed at the window, where a tree hung, just like in my own room. I stomped my foot. I was not leaving when an adult had specifically told me not to. We would just have to wait until another day to find Miss. Hollis.
Then, I remembered the zip line. It technically was attached to the house, so if we rode on it, we technically wouldn’t be disobeying Gwen’s mom. So that was fine to do, wasn’t it? If what Gwen said wasn’t a lie, then we could leave on the zip line, no problem. It was a sneaky idea, and probably a bad one. But it would do.
“Gwen,” I whispered, “Let’s take the zip line out of here, and meet Parker in the tree house.”
She gave me a fist bump while I attempted a high five. That was a great idea!
“That’s what I’m talking about!”
I shushed her, and we slunk down to get on the zip line. I heard Gwen’s mom yelling about her garden from outside. We were careful not to be seen.
When we made it to the zip line, I was hesitant to go down. But then I remembered Miss. Hollis. If we didn’t save her, no one else would. She would be gone forever. And that was unacceptable. So, I jumped and slid right after Gwen did.
We scurried to Parker’s tree house to discuss our game plan. I hoped that it didn’t involve going back into the airless Catacombs. The mere thought of it made me itch a bit. Maybe it was a better idea to do a search of her home again instead? That seemed safer.
We made it to Parker’s tree house without Gwen’s mom discovering us. I didn’t hesitate to climb up. I had been looking forward to hanging out in the tree house for a while. But the inside was nothing like it was last time. It was far worse.
It was disheveled, papers strewn on the floor, covering the map. Three empty cans of coke (well, here they called it pop) sat on the window ledge. The chair was tipped sideways. And Parker looked just as rumpled. His hair stuck up, his clothes were wrinkled. And even from the other side of the tree house, I could see the prominent dark circles that lined his exhausted eyes. Everything in here looked terrible. I was guessing that Parker got basically no sleep last night. Why had he stayed up all night when it had taken such a toll on his energy?
“Parker? What the- your lab!” I cried.
“I just had to do some research last ni...” And his head plopped onto his desk. He was sound asleep.
“Parker,” Gwen reprimanded him, “You can have your nap time later. But we have to find Miss. Hollis!” He made no effort to get up, and Gwen sighed. But I saw her grin.
“I didn’t want to do this.” Gwen took a full bottle of pop and sprinkled it on Parker’s snoozing head. He jolted up, and looked the part of a mad scientist in that moment. I couldn’t help but giggle a bit at his expense.
“Okay...ugh, I’m awake! Now, let me tell you my plan. We go to Miss. Hollis’s house.”
I cheered to myself inside my head. We wouldn’t have to go to the Catacombs, after all.
“What then?” I asked him.
“Well, we use the entrance in her house to enter the Catacombs.” He replied. I groaned. The last thing I had wanted to do was go back there. But it seemed like that was on the to-d0 list for Gwen and Parker, who evidently didn’t care that they almost died last time! I couldn’t believe that they would spring this on me!
“Guys, I really don’t want to go back into the Catacombs, not now, and not ever. Please, please don’t force me to go back. It’s awful down there. You don’t understand how close we were to dying from lack of oxygen. You would have too, if I didn’t get you out.” I pleaded.
“No. Aren’t you a little bit daring, Dana? When you went down that zip line, that was cool. We didn’t get caught by my mom just to do nothing here? No. I’m going to the Catacombs.”
“Me too.” Parker chimed in I looked around wildly for no reason at all. What should I do? If I went with them, we would be going into the heart of the dreaded Catacombs. But if I didn’t go, I might never find Miss. Hollis... and I would lose my friend’s trust too. There just weren’t any feasible options here, but time was ticking and I chose. It was a decision I might come to regret.
“Fine, I’ll go. But I’m not happy about it.”
Gwen cheered and Parker attempted to go back to sleep. We woke him up again, and to my dismay, we climbed out of the tree house and headed to the Hollis Manor. I utterly refused to pick the lock this time, however. They thought it was because I didn’t like trespassing. That wasn’t it. I was just afraid that me picking the lock would bring me closer to those long, shiveringly dank tunnels that we had named the Catacombs.
It was an inappropriate name, of course. A real catacomb was an underground cemetery basically. There were no tombs down there. But then I remembered how buried alive a felt down there. Maybe the name Catacombs fit the place perfectly after all.
But Parker had, apparently, picked up a trick or two from me. He was able to pick that lock instead of me. I wished he wasn’t so smart as to figure out how to do that. Then I snatched back that wish. If Parker wasn’t smart, where would we be? Probably in Davy Jones’ Locker, the fish picking at us slowly. I banished the thought from my mind. It was a scary thing to see in my minds eye.
“Entre-vous.” Parker told me, as the door swung open. He was just telling me to go in, thinking he was being a “real suave dude” just because he knew one French phrase. He thought wrong.
“Sois bon.” I responded, making my way inside. All I had said was “be good” but it was evident Parker had no clue of what I was talking about. That was my intention, of course.
“Speak English, Dana!” Gwen begged.
“Fine.”
I walked inside, hardly looking at my friends.
We went into the Catacombs right away, not even giving me time to be spooked by the empty shell of a home. I was too preoccupied, anyways, by the Catacombs to dwell on the mansion itself.
We ran into the air filled tunnel, steering clear of any airless passages.
“I just don’t understand,” I choked, “How is this going to help us find Miss. Hollis?”
“We’ll find clues, just like we did before.” Parker assured me, coolly.
“But that was before we knew how evil Lil was. The stakes, they’re-“
“Just the same. Nothing’s changed.” Parker interrupted me. But he was wrong, and we all knew it. Everything had changed. Lil, Kate, Charisma, my view of Windesta Creek- and I had changed the most. But what hadn’t changed was that I was an honest person. And I refused to lie and say that this was okay.
“I made a mistake coming here. It has changed. Gwen, you have to listen to me... Lil murdered Darren! Your favorite drummer! What makes you think that she’s a rational person? She’s not, she isn’t in any was rational. Well, I am. And I am getting out of these Catacombs right now.”
I tried to storm out of the Catacombs. But my blue shoelaces had caught on a loose stone. I tried to pry it free. It was really stuck in there! I tried to carefully lift it off. I did so, but when I did, I realized that that stone wasn’t part of nature. It was a lever in disguise. That lever had to do something. And I was guessing that something was bad for me.
I took one step forward tentatively after a few seconds. Maybe nothing would happen. But just then, the floor gave out.
And I screamed as I fell free into a dark, dusty room. I hit the ground, feeling bruised but otherwise alright.
I coughed and sputtered as dust filled my sore lungs. I groped around for a light switch as Gwen and Parker came down with me to check it out.
“What in the world?” I said when I finally found the elusive light.
A large, stone box thing with a heavy cover sat in the middle of the room. That was weird. Could it be a trap? A treasure? I shivered. The room was frigid! And what was that awful smell...
I slid the top of the stone off, and peered inside. And I screamed. And screamed and screamed and I couldn’t stop screaming. Gwen had to cover my mouth to make me stop. But then she saw what was inside, and she was screaming too. Parker looked inside and his eyes widened like saucers, but he managed to keep his cool. I couldn’t do it. The world swam around me. I refused to believe it. It couldn’t be...
What was inside the box?
Miss. Hollis.
She was just laying there, looking the same as she did when I first saw her. But something was wrong. Like the fact that there was a gaping hole in her. And that she wasn’t the same, she was smelling, and her color made me hurl on the spot.
I guess the Catacombs was an appropriate name after all. Catacombs were an underground cemetery. Cemetaries were homes to the deceased. And Miss. Hollis had joined them.

Keep Reading

Chapter 23

Charisma’s POV Part Two Because Cliffhangers Are Fun

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