“Jake turned around to see Peri’s big smile pressed right into his face. He didn’t know what she was about to tell him, but from that smile, he knew one thing: whatever she had to say included him, because whenever Peri got that twinkle in her eye, she was ready for adventure. It said she was ready for mischief. But worst of all, it meant that probably both she and Jake would be in a huge amount of trouble.”
Chapter One: News to Die For
“Jake! Wait up!” yelled Jake’s best friend, a spunky, red-headed girl named Peri.
Jake turned around to see Peri’s big smile pressed right into his face. He didn’t know what she was about to tell him, but from that smile, he knew one thing: whatever she had to say included him, because whenever Peri got that twinkle in her eye, she was ready for adventure. It said she was ready for mischief. But worst of all, it meant that probably both she and Jake would be in a huge amount of trouble.
“And just what might be so important that you must sneak up behind me like a tiger and surprise me so greatly?” asked Jake, smiling goofily. He always loved to tease Peri with a professional attitude just to annoy her.
Peri pulled out a Choco-Nut from her pocket and popped it in her mouth. “Oh, you’re such a party pooper, Jake. Anyway, I have good news.” She offered another Choco-Nut to Jake, who took it gladly. They both loved the candy.
Through layers of melted chocolate, hazelnuts, and caramel, Jake managed to say, “Well, what is this ever so important news?”
“If you’d stop teasing me, maybe I’d tell you.” Peri stuck out her lip and turned her back on Jake. She was teasing him back. Jake and Peri would go through this cycle each day, and they both ended up laughing at the end after one person made the other happy.
Jake knew he wasn’t exactly ready for whatever the news was. On the other hand, Jake was a person who liked to know things. He wanted to know every secret at J. Bemink High School. He wanted to know every secret in England. He wanted to know every secret on Earth. He read the paper. He watched and listened to the news. He did everything he could do to find out every little tidbit of every single person in every single community of the world. He wanted to be a reporter for The London Times and learn about big important pieces of information. But for now, he would have to share only small information for working for the school newspaper. Still, Peri had good news, and any news is information.
“Okay, seriously, what is it?” asked Jake, trying not to tease.
By now, they were almost to school. They knew every little thing on the way to school. The crack in the sidewalk where Peri’s older brother had crashed his motorcycle. They drainpipe where people would splash in the puddles when it rained. And most importantly, the sandbox. A sandbox to anyone else would be just a place for little tots to make unrecognizable shapes of wet sand. For Jake and Peri though, this place was a memory.
When Jake and Peri were only two, Peri moved from Scotland to England. One day, Jake was a playing in the sandbox, making a mound of sand. Peri stomped over in her Wellington boots and kicked over the pile of sand Jake had been working on so lovingly. Jake started crying, but before his mother could even come to scoop him up, Peri was plopping down beside him and rebuilding his precious sculpture. Ever since, Peri and Jake were inseparable, and the sandbox was something of a heavenly monument.
“Jake!” Peri interrupted Jakes reminiscence. “You know, sometimes I don’t get you. You ask me to tell you something and then yo — ” Peri’s eyes widened as she glanced at the front yard of J. Bemink High School. It looked like she had just seen a ghost.
“Peri, what’s wrong? What’s the big d — ” Jake’s words pittered off as he turned to the front lawn. His eyes too, were as big as dinner plates.
On the front lawn, there were three main things. One, the principal was talking to three policeman, sweat beads running down his forehead. Two, there was a crowd of students huddling around an unseen object, some of them crying, some of them frozen in fear. Three, the unseen object was the dead body of Mona Barry, a freshman at the school. On her forehead, there was a note. Watch your back, the note said. Watch your back, or you’ll be next.
Chapter Two: A Note, A Call, And a Mission
Jake checked his watch. It was only 9:00 A.M., and he and Peri were walking home from school. They had sent everybody home that day because of the murder. Poor Peri, who usually was so cheerful about everything she did, was still in tears.
“Oh Jake! It was just so awful. Imagine that being me! It could happen to anybody! I mean, the note said anyone could be killed! And the killer’s still out there and it’s not safe and — ” She broke into tears again.
Jake put his arm around her. “It’s going to be okay. The killer isn’t going to choose just anyone. There must have been some reason. You don’t need to be afraid.”
Peri sniffled and finally went quiet. Too quiet. Jake hated seeing Peri upset. It was a heartbreaking sight. He decided that to make Peri feel better, he had to listen to her and keep her going so that she could be distracted from the horrid events that had occurred earlier that morning.
“So… erm, what was the good news you wanted to tell me?” Jake asked carefully, making sure not to startle her too much.
Peri perked up slightly. She looked up at him with damp eyes. “My uncle invited me and one friend to come to his house on Hakhito Island. It’s just south of Plymouth. I was hoping you would come with me.”
Jake agreed to go as long as his mother said yes, and they went to Peri’s house for the day. They walked to the store to get slushee drinks. They went to their special tree, and they watched their favorite show. They were having so much fun together. Peri was forgetting all about the disastrous morning. Jake, however, wasn’t sure about what he had said earlier that day.
Peri’s right, Jake thought. It could be just about anyone. Mona Barry didn’t do anything wrong. At least Jake didn’t think she did. It’s unfair, he thought, that one day, you’re just a good hardworking girl just at the most amazing part of your life, and it all ends to soon.
“Jake? Helloooo! Earth to the Jake-man!” Peri waved a hand in front of his face.
“Oh… sorry, erm… say again?”
“Honestly, Jake, are you alright? You looked like you were feeling ill. Anyways, my mother asked if you would like to stay for dinner.” Peri seemed concerned, and it looked she was about to cry again. It was quiet. Too quiet for Peri’s house in any case.
“Well, let me ask my mother.” Jake wasn’t sure about staying at Peri’s for dinner. He just wanted to go home and mull over this whole day. He felt uncertain, like someone was watching him.
He phoned his mother, who surprisingly wanted him to go back home. She was at work, but had heard of the murder over the radio. “I’m sorry, love, I’m just worried about you. You know I’ll always worry.” Her mother’s voice crackled on Peri’s old house phone.
“It’s alright, Mum. I’ll come home and heat up the casserole. Also, Mum — ”
Jake’s sentence was interrupted by a cough. Not a cough from his mother, but a man’s cough, a deep, low cough.
“Mum, did someone at your work just cough?”
“No, love, why?”
Jake’s eyes popped. Mum, I’m sorry, but I have to go. I’ll see you tonight.” He hung up so abruptly that the phone almost crashed to the floor. Someone had been listening to their conversation over the phone. Jake could only think that this was linked to the murder. This never happened to him or anyone else he had ever known. He said a quick goodbye to Peri, said thank you to Ms.Lee, and rushed out the door.
Jake was halfway down block when he felt cold, like eyes were covering him.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM US?!” Jake shouted out suddenly. He raced home after he didn’t find an answer.
When he got home, there was a note on the door of his flat. Jake didn’t want to even look at the note.
Come on, Jake. Jake mustered up as much courage as possible. It’s just a note. It’ll be fine… Everything’s going to be fine.
Jake fumbled around for his old rusty key, looking around for anyone who might be scoping him out for their next murder. He opened the door, slid inside halfway, ripped the note from the door, and shut the door with such a bang it rattled the flat.
Jake heated up the chicken-eggplant casserole, settled on the couch, unfolded the pink paper containing the note, and started to read.
Watch out, Jake. We know where you are. We know who you are. The note was in cut and paste, the sign of a master criminal. Go to Hakhito Island. Go beneath the island. Retrieve the recording and leave it at the large pine tree at the center of the island. Do this if you want you and everything you know to be safe. You have one week.
Chapter Three: The Choice
The rest of the night went like it usually did, except for the brief moments when Jake would glance off toward the piece of pink paper laying on his desk. Jake watched his favorite television show, a show about a boy and a girl who communicated with animals, called Animal Maniacs. He brushed his teeth, got in bed, and shut his eyes. But in a minute, they were open again.
Jake was so overwhelmed and tired from the day, it seemed like he was too tired to fall asleep. He tried to concentrate on his breathing. He ended up staring at the ceiling. He tried listening to music. He just finished with his head down on his desk. He couldn’t stop thinking about everything that had happened. And he couldn’t stop thinking about the note on the door.
How did they know I was probably going to Hakhito Island? What is this a recording of? Is there something else going on on the island? Should I even be going to Hakhito?
His phone buzzed. It was Peri.
Hey, u still awake? Peri texted. Will ur mom let u go to Hakhito with me?
This was it. Where Jake had to make his decision. Of course his mom would let him go. She was always trying to get him to go on trips that she knows he will look back on. Jake just was worried that he wouldn’t look back on the trip happily if he went. On the other hand, he would have to get this recording, or else Peri, his mother, himself, and many other people would be harmed. This organization had tracked him down. He didn’t doubt the fact that they could harm him and all his loved ones.
“I can’t do this by myself. I just can’t. I’m going to need to tell Peri,” said Jake, all alone in his room. His mother didn’t get home until late that night. She worked late at the hospital doing paperwork and didn’t get home until 11:50. Jake asked her if he could go to Hakhito Island for a week.
“Well, I suppose it would be alright. Will you be going on Monday for spring break?”
It’s Friday now, thought Jake. Tomorrow’s my first day of the time limit. “I guess I could leave on Saturday or Sunday, Mum.”
“Alright, love. Goodnight.”
“Goodnight, Mum.” Jake slid into his room. He finally was able to sleep, but all night, he could only dream of eyes coming from the shadows, slinking towards him, devouring him, whispering a dark poem. He was finally able to pick up what they were chanting.
We’ll rise from underneath,
We have knives beneath our sheaths
We know what we’ll do,
When we rise from the beneath
Jake bolted upright in his bed. He checked the clock. It was only three in the morning. He knew he was dreaming, that he would go to Hakhito and everything would be fine. Except it wasn’t. Jake didn’t even know who these people were, or why they wanted this recording, or even what was beneath the island.
Jake suddenly had a new thought. What was on that recording? Was it evidence to get this killer (or killers) in jail? Was it a missile launch key recording to help these killers dominate the world? If it was, Jake could imagine it was. He could get in serious trouble.
Then Jake realized he had made a choice to go. But now, he had another choice. Whose life do you value more? Yours, or the others?
Chapter Four: A Departure
“Bye, Mum.” Jake waved goodbye to his mother as he and Peri got on the speedboat towards Hakhito Island. It had been what should be a boring drive with a time of 4 hours 30 minutes, for going to Plymouth from London is a not an easy trek. But two things were keeping Jake from going insane while looking at nothing but what seemed like boring scenery to Jake. The first thing keeping him joyful was Peri, for she was very talkative and would play the part of the entertainer in the friendship, with all her tidbits of funny thoughts. The second thing keeping Jake thoughtful, but not joyful in the least, was the pink letter.
Jake had thought all about that letter, what it meant, what the orders given by it meant, what he should do, what he shouldn’t do, and so much more. He had closed his eyes and wished every time that he could have both ways. A way where the tape wouldn’t possibly get him in trouble when he took it. A way where he and everyone else would be safe. A way where this wasn’t his problem.
They clambered into the speedboat. Jake was uneasy about the whole situation. One, he did not like boats. Two, he wondered, Are they going to the island too, to make sure I get the job done? Have they always been watching me? For how long?
All of Jake’s thoughts made his head swirl, and it didn’t help that Peri was still talking about something, probably rabbits (she had one of her own), the speedboat’s engine was revving up, and there was no driver.
“Who the heck is going to drive this thing?!” asked Jake over the crisp, loud wind.
“Oh, I didn’t tell you?” shouted Peri, for the wind was getting louder. “I’m going to drive the speedboat! I’ve been doing it for two years now!”
“WHAT?!” Jake almost stumbled back on to the dock. It wasn’t that Jake didn’t trust Peri, it was just that Peri seemed just a little too excited.
“Oh come on, Jake. Don’t be a chicken.”
Jake acted like he was shocked and gaped with his mouth unhinged. “Me? Chicken? Oh, how dare you.”
“Jake. Let’s go! We’re going to be late.” Peri climbed into the driver’s seat and put the key in the ignition. “Buckle up, Jake. We’re going to go hyper-speed!”
Jake buckled up in his seat, wishing there was a seatbelt for every part of his body. He was a chicken. He admitted it. He always had been. Peri was more of a… well, Jake would call here an unpredictable firecracker. You would have never guessed the two were best friends, except for being so opposite that they fit each other perfectly, both filling out the attributes the other didn’t have.
All of a sudden, Jake was drawn from his thought by a jolt, and the boat started across the ocean. It was so extraordinary, the salty ocean spray, the forever blue water, the fog. Fog. Why was there fog? It made no sense. Jake hadn’t seen any fog at the docks.
“Are you sure you can drive through that fog?” Jake felt his uneasiness coming back, for it all seemed very strange and lost to him. He had not been out on the ocean much in his life. Before all of this, he was a normal fifteen-year-old boy. He hung out with his friends. He went to school and did well. He had a nice flat and a nice small family with his mother. It all seemed so… ordinary. Then all of a sudden, his normal lifestyle had been torn to pieces by the murder and the note. He couldn’t do anything but make one choice. To have him get caught and possibly sent to juvenile detention and then to jail, or to have him and his loved ones’ lives in danger. He couldn’t do anything else. He couldn’t call the police. The note-writers would surely kill him. He couldn’t tell anyone else. Well, maybe Peri. He was on his own.
Alone. Jake felt isolated when he realized. He didn’t like knowing that he couldn’t get help, that he would have to do this with his own abilities.
All of a sudden, Jake snapped out of his thoughts and noticed that they had been driving for quite some while. It had been 1 hour 15 minutes, and the boat ride was supposed to take two hours. There was no island in sight.
“Peri… erm, are you sure you know the way?”
“Yes, Jake. It’s just very foggy today.” Peri’s voice was reassuring, but her face was scrunched up, staring straight ahead. Either Peri was concentrating, or she was concerned. Jake was pretty sure she was concentrated, but he thought that Peri might have had something else on her mind. Did she know something he didn’t?
Suddenly, Jake saw something out of the corner of his eye. He looked to his right, and his eyes became wide with horror. “Peri,” said Jake, certainly frightened. “Who, or what is that?!”