Dana wishes she’d have just followed one rule...
The Mystery of Windesta Creek
The Cliffhanger
Lil snickered as she coiled rope around my torso, binding my arms and legs with rope, attaching me to the stiff chair. She gagged me up so I couldn’t speak, and she did the same with each of my friends. The helicopter landed finally on the cliff part of the island. Of coarse. This would be the only way to dispose of us without leaving a trace.
The chopper touched down violently on the rocky ground, and Lil carried each of our chairs to the edge of the cliff.
“This is the end for all of you.” She whispered in my ear.
But behind her, Charisma seemed unfazed. She somehow had gotten off her gag, and retrieved her dagger from her belt using only her mouth. It must have been her spy training. After that, she easily cut her ropes, and released herself from the chair. While Lil’s back was turned, Charisma leaped on her, dagger in hand.
“How did you get out?” Lil cried.
Charisma didn’t bother to answer. She instead jumped high into the sky, and kicked with a force so powerful I could feel it, forcing Lil to sprawl on the ground. Lil stayed there, groaning. We had won! Charisma came towards us, to release us from the ropes.
But Lil struggled to get up behind her as she took off my gag, staggering towards Charisma. She snatched the dagger from Charisma’s belt, even though she already had a gun. Lil pressed the dagger up against Charisma’s throat.
“You can’t kill me.” She grunted.
“Sure I can.” Lil retorted. But Charisma was too fast for her, she flipped past Lil, past all boundaries that could be considered safe, and spun right off the edge of the cliff, plummeting down the water fall. I saw only one last glimpse of Charisma smiling, and she was gone. It was a 200 foot drop. She couldn’t have survived. I was racked with violent sobs, because Lil had gotten her in the end. And now, we were alone.
“She thought she was invincible. She may have been close to unbeatable, I must say. But she is like an almost sharpened sword who versed up with a sharpened sword. Me. Because I am not near invincible, I am not close to invincible, I am invincible.”
I wondered what I had done to reach this point. All I had been doing was trying to find Miss. Hollis and clear Kate and Jim’s names when I had found out about an art thief. Then that art thief was revealed to be a murderer, too, and I found out where her headquarters was. I escaped, yes. But it didn’t matter now. Because I hadn’t solved The Mystery of Windesta Creek, and that was that. I had seen crime, I had seen injustice- but I hadn’t quite seen those answers I had been looking for this whole time.
“ You can’t push us off that cliff.” I said hoarsely.
“Why not? It was a horrible, awful accident that occurred here. You three children were playing by the water fall. But just one slip, and poor little Gwen falls to her death. Tragic, really. Parker had been her best friend for years. He went mad, and pushed Dana, their new pal, off the cliff. But she clung to his leg, and they all fell together. No survivors.” She grinned. She pushed the chair closer and closer to the edge with every word.
That was the best story she could think of? No one would ever believe that lie, at least. There was no way any of that could have happened. Lil pursed her lips, thinking the same exact thing.
But just then, another man rushed out and stood firmly in front of us. The Sheriff had found us! We were saved! He began discreetly untying Gwen without Lil noticing.
“I heard everything. You’re going to jail for the rest of your life, Lil. You’re a monster. And you’re never going to see the light of day again, that I guarantee.”
But Lil stood there, unfazed. All she did was take the safety off her gun.
“Kids, I think I have found another way to make the story more believable. The Sheriff went mad, and killed Dana.” She aimed the gun right at me, a red dot floating on my head. She pressed the trigger, and the bullet shot out of the barrel.
The death was unstoppable. I couldn’t move out of the way, I was still tied to the chair. But The Sheriff looked at me with his blue eyes, and rushed in front of me. The bullet went into him, and it didn’t exit. A stream of red splattered onto his face as it contorted with pain. But at the same time, he winked at me, and I felt so guilty. He had just died for me.
“Well, he didn’t achieve anything. A word of wisdom, kids. Never jump in front of a bullet when the shooter has ten more. It’s just plain stupid. Just like that Sheriff.” She aimed her gun once more.
But Gwen took her chance, using her free hand to pull herself out of the chair, and she untied Parker and I. We all were able to duck as Lil’s shot missed us by a mile.
Darrin, though, was watching from the helicopter, waiting for his chance. He shot at Gwen. The first bullet missed her completely. But the second bullet came closer, grazing off a piece of her neon colored sleeve. The third bullet made contact with her shoulder, and she fell to the floor.
Gwen! Nooooo!” I cried. But I realized Gwen would be fine. It barely grazed her, even if it hurt. Right now, I just had to make sure everyone survived.
Lil had the upper hand now. It was Parker and I, unarmed, against Darrin and Lil, who were both armed, not to mention adults.
Lil seized her chance and grabbed Parker by the shoulder, chucking him off the cliff. He managed, however, to grab the edge, and cling on by just a few fingers.
“Help me!” He called, as some of the rock crumbled, dropping into the abyss. I couldn’t let that happen to Parker. So I did the only thing I could to get Lil away from Parker and Gwen. I ran for my life. I sprinted away from that cliff as quick as I could, darting this way and that so I would be far from her as possible. Her bullets never hit me, I was too difficult of a target. I made it too the woods, never once stopping. My bloody, dirty hair streamed in the wind.
Kasey hopped out of the plane and trailed right behind Lil. She obviously wanted to get in on the murdering action. I was in high demand today, wasn’t I?
“All of you are going to die!” Lil shrieked after me.
I didn’t take a single second worth of pause. I had to keep going, I told myself, or her words would become a self fulfilling prophecy. That was the last thing I wanted. I remembered, as I almost tripped over a bulky, round tree root, the first time I had escaped from Lil. I had shimmied down a tree. Maybe going up one would save my life.
I knew I was fast enough. I had beaten Gwen once, back when it had only been a game. I could beat Lil. I scooped up fallen twigs as fast as I could, trying to take the ones that weren’t rotten and filled with crawling fire ants that could bite me. Then, I hopped up that tree, faster then I had ever gone in my life, even while holding all those sticks.
I pulled up my knees, and eased into a position for optimal aim.
Lil and Kasey came after me, looking around, dazed. Now was my chance.
“Where’d she go?” Kasey frowned. I found a stick and chucked it off her head. Her skull was so thick, it just bounced off, causing her to gingerly rub her head.
Then, she finally got it. Her eyes stared upwards, and saw me perched in the tree. I wasn’t hidden anymore. So I took a bundle of sticks and tossed it at her again. I tossed stick after stick, at Kasey and Lil. But I didn’t pick up infinite sticks, and quickly ran out of ammunition. Kasey began to climb up the tree. It was hopeless.
Then, I saw a hornets nest, just three branches up. I knew what I was going to do.
I gently plucked the nest stem with two fingers, holding them out as far as possible. I tried not to tremble.
Don’t provoke them or they’ll sting you. I warned myself. I managed to pull it out without getting stung, miraculously. I then hung it over the edge of the tree, careful, careful- and then I dropped it on Kasey. My hand was stung twice by angry bees while they pummeled Kasey, and I took that opportunity to run again, while Lil chased me.
At least I had made sure Kasey didn’t follow me, without killing her. I could have killed her, if I really wanted to, if rage had consumed me, but I didn’t let it. She was my age, I had to remind myself. Besides, if I killed her, I would feel guilty for the rest of my life. So I dropped the bee hive. I had to do that. She would have murdered me and my friends if I didn’t.
Lil raced after me as I tore away, but this time, my speed was lacking. I was running slower, because I was so fatigued by the trials of this day of mystery and answers, running and rest, life and death.
I finally tripped, twisting my ankle, and although I got up in just a few second, Lil had finally gotten a chance to nab me, and she did, with ease and agility. I had once believed that she was like a tall, graceful dance, with pirouettes up her sleeve and ballet shoes on her feet. Now I knew what she used her talents for. Evil, and nothing but.
“Get off of me! Just let me leave! Why are you doing this, Lil? It doesn’t make sense. It never has.” I sobbed.
“I said, I had to get rid of you, and I will, you’ve simply seen too much.”
She pursed her lips like her words were directed at a child who’d stolen a cookie from the jar without her permission. It was gross, and patronizing, to hear her still speak to me that way. Maybe she did it on purpose, because she knew it was demeaning.
“I am going into high school,” I snapped, “ You can’t just take me. I can throw bees at you like I did to Kasey.” I threatened lamely. She chuckled, slapping her bony knee.
Then, she rolled up her sleeved, to reveal a thousand scars and boils, horrible marks that were... self inflicted.
“I’ve already been stung, Dana. Stung on purpose. And poisoned. I’ve had venom course through these veins, and I did it myself. Now I’m immune to everything. Your asinine little bees won’t do anything to me. I am, like I said before, invincible.”
I gasped as I saw that her other arm was even worse. It was blotchy, with random blue spots lining it. It was completely bare, with the hair all singed off. It smelled of iodine. She really had done this to herself to become unbeatable. I knew she could drink poison like it was grape juice and not even bat an eyelash.
“Why would you do this to yourself? That’s just sickening. You’re not even human, you’re a monster! You’ve sacrificed your humanity for what, exactly?” I struggled to get out of her grasp.
“I’m human enough. I’m no monster. You are, though. Trying to always poke into business that wasn’t yours.” She hissed.
Before I could object, she stuffed a napkin into my gaping mouth and dragged me off.
A few minutes later, while Dana was being dragged...
We had finally arrived at our destination, the place where it would all end. The place where it had started. It seemed perfectly appropriate, really. A full circle of terror, she had dragged me through, and now it would end. How, I could not tell.
We had gone right back to the ruins of Lil’s house. No, not in the house. Into the Forbidden Backyard. She pulled my through the old, swinging gates, and released me for a minute while she opened the gateway to the Catacombs. Where she took her victims. Where she was about to take me.
“Go in.” She whispered. Her voice was now rough as sand paper, and weary too. Like she was ready for this to be over. Except for her, over meant that I was in the same place as Miss. Hollis.
“No.” I stood firmly as I could. I had finally pieced the Mystery of Windesta Creek together. Everything suddenly clicked into place. I had solved it, cracked the whole thing wide open.
“I said, go in.”
“Yes, yes you did. And I don’t care.” I told her, as I pushed her into the Catacombs. But she simply gripped the ladder and began to climb her way out. Now was a perfect time to make my escape. My hurt ankle cried out in pain as I attempted a first jump over the gate. I fell and I knew that I would bruise... if I even made it to tomorrow.
Lil got out of the Catacombs, and brushed herself off.
“It isn’t very nice to throw someone in a hole, you know.” She simpered. My rage simmered, and I knew with one more word it would boil over.
“Well, let’s just get on with it, if you’re done with your little outburst.”
I looked at her, and she looked at me. I rushed towards that lady that I absolutely hated, that was trying to take everything away from me, at break neck speed.
It was too late for running now. That time had past. It was survival round, but Lil had a weapon, a weapon that I never could have expected.
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