We last left the S.P.I.R.I.T. kids sitting quietly in a small cabin during their weekend beach trip on the Muskie River with their dads. Well, everyone except for Hans, of course. He snuck out to look for clues to the lost treasure of famous pirate Benjamin “Six-Finger” Hansen! His search brought him to the abandoned restaurant known as The Plank House. But when he arrived, he was greeted by a mysterious pirate and forced to board a terrifying ship!
Who took Hans? What does he want with him? Where did the ship take him? Find out today.
The Plank House
Matt was bored. The Hammerheads, his favorite baseball team, were losing ten to one in the sixth inning.
“This is no fun,” he said getting up. He glanced over at Agnes, who was glued to her e-reader tablet reading her new book on pirate history. He knew it was pointless to try to make conversation with her.
He pulled out a local business guide from under the coffee table. He flipped open to a large, two-page ad for Captain Oli’s Casino Pier — “Test Your Luck!” was the slogan. Pictures of adults playing slot machines and kids winning stuffed animals covered each page.
Matt threw the magazine down and paced around the cabin. He wandered over to the table where Maya was drawing in her notebook.
“What are you drawing?” He asked.
Maya flipped her notebook over, showing him:
“That’s pretty cool!” He said.
“Thanks!” Maya smiled.
“What made you draw that?”
“It was on the one side of Hans’ gold coin,” she said. “I saw it when Agnes grabbed it from his hand at the beach.”
“An octopus? That’s weird,” Matt said. “Hey, where is Hans anyway?”
Maya and Matt both looked around. “Maybe he’s hanging out with the dads,” Maya said.
Matt peered out the window. His dad was still strumming the guitar and Mr. Gupta was telling Mr. Smit some story that required him to walk like a crab. “Don’t see him.”
“Agnes!” Maya called out. “Have you seen your brother?”
“Probably out looking at the stars,” Agnes responded without looking up.
“I didn’t see him bring his telescope,” Matt said.
Agnes placed her tablet on the floor and shrugged. “He’s not outside?”
“No,” Maya said.
They all got up and started searching around. “His vest is gone,” said Matt.
“Guys! Check this out,” Maya called over by the bookcase. Agnes and Matt both saw her looking at an open book. “Does that place look familiar?”
Matt recognized it instantly. “That’s the old restaurant down by the beach. The one with the giant hole in the roof.”
“You don’t think Hans went there, do you?” Maya asked concerned.
“He was obsessed with that stupid coin,” Agnes said a bit worried. “And he did find it near this place.”
“We have to find him!” Matt exclaimed, excited about getting out and doing something.
“Or…we tell our dads,” Agnes shot back. “I’m not walking through a place that looks like it’s about to fall over.”
Matt knew that telling the dads was a bad idea. That would mean Hans would get in trouble. And, because they didn’t even see him leave, meant they would be in trouble, too. “No,” Matt said. “Hans would come searching for us. He’d grab every gadget he had to come find us.”
Matt wasn’t sure if that was exactly true, but he went with it. Agnes and Maya glanced at each other with suspicion. “Fine,” Agnes finally said. “I just want to make sure he’s safe. But if he’s not there we come right back here and tell our dads.”
“Deal,” Matt agreed.
They slipped on their sneakers and found some flashlights under the kitchen sink. They quietly made their way through the woods and carefully snaked through the rock garden until they got to the unsteady rope bridge.
“No way!” Maya said, stopping dead in her tracks. “I’m not crossing that thing.”
Matt looked underneath the bridge and saw large, nasty bugs flying off of the flat, green water. There were several jagged rocks waiting to impale them. “We have to try,” he said. “I’ll go first.”
Slowly he put his weight on the first board. He felt the bridge sway slightly and then stabilize. Holding his breath he made his way over until he was on the other side. “It’s not so bad!” He called over.
Agnes went next and made it to the other side after stopping twice in the middle to close her eyes and calm herself down. Maya took a bit more convincing, but she too eventually made it over.
Matt carefully pushed open the large black door to The Plank House. They shined their flashlights inside. It smelt like a dirty bathroom as they walked in. A broken down bar stood to the right with a few dust-covered barstools. A dartboard hung on a wall with hundreds of small holes around it. Near the bar, Matt smelt the familiar scent of a cigars, just like his grandfather liked to smoke.
Maya cased the back corner of the restaurant. She scanned the empty tables with her flashlight. Then suddenly she heard a noise! It was a hard thudding sound, like someone placing a bottle down on a table. Maya turned her flashlight toward a broken window. To her horror the light covered the face of a mysterious man with long black hair and a stringy beard. He was sitting at an old table with a metal mug in front of him. He wore a large red coat, long dark pants and tall black boots. Oh no, she thought. Not now.
Out of all the S.P.I.R.I.T. kids Maya was the only one who could always see ghosts. A clairvoyant is what Hans and Agnes call her. She hated it. She was never sure who was a real person and who was dead. It made it hard for her to leave the house everyday.
Matt and Agnes lined up next to her. “I…I think I see a ghost,” she said in a trembling voice.
“No you don’t,” Matt said, sounding equally as scared. “Because then I do too.”
“Me too,” whispered Agnes.
“Are you kids just going to stand there or join me?!” The man said, letting out a loud terrifying laugh. “What’s with you kids tonight? It’s like they’re cutting out your tongues at birth. Actually, I wouldn’t blame your parents if they did.” He laughed again.
“We’re looking for our friend, Hans,” Matt said, trying to act brave.
“One speaks!” Said the mysterious man. “He the pudgy one with the goofy vest and lights for eyes?”
They all nodded. The man then slapped his thigh, picked up his metal bug and took a big swig of whatever it was he was drinking. “Excellent! What a great kid! He left a little while ago on the ship.”
“Ship?” Agnes said.
The man nodded. “Yes my lady! The name is Sir Walter Wright. I’m first mate on the Nightmare Galley. Mightest ship in the sea.”
“You mean river,” Maya said.
Sir Walter gave her a threatening look. “Well, it goes out to sea, too. But…he went for a ride with my crew…up river.”
“Where did they take him?” Matt asked.
“To a jolly place. I assure you.” Sir Walter pulled a pocket watch out of his coat to check the time. “Say…would you like to join him?”
“We want him back!” Agnes said, getting annoyed.
The man sat back and shook his head. “I’m afraid I can’t do that. You have to go and get him…that’s if he wants to come back.”
“What does that mean?” Matt asked.
“AHOY!” A voice shouted from outside the abandoned restaurant. Suddenly a bell rang several times, the loud sound echoing around the old restaurant. Matt, Maya, and Agnes ran outside. Pulling up was a large wooden ship with tremendous black sails and a skeleton tied to the front of the ship like a hood ornament. Pirates were prancing around as if they were having a giant party. None of the kids could believe what they were seeing.
Matt jumped as a hand touched his shoulder. He looked over and saw the dirty, crusty hand of Sir Walter pressing gently on him. “Ready to find your friend?” He slowly maneuvered the three of them towards the ship.
“Got another three here for you!”
“Oh ya? Look at these fine specimens,” said a mean looking pirate with a beard that stretched down to his belt. “I think the captain will like this lot.”
“Off you go!” cried Sir Walter as he shoved them onto the ship.
Before they could react the ship was pulling away from the dock. “Hold this and come with me,” said one pirate to Matt, tossing a jumble of rope onto his arms.
“And you!” Screamed another pirate standing next to the wheel of the ship. He was pointing to Agnes. “Get up here and be my eyes. Can’t see as well at night anymore!”
Maya didn’t know what to do so she sat down on a bench on the side of the ship.
For the next few minutes, so many questions ran through her head. Who were these pirates? Where did they come from? Is this real? Are the pirates ghosts? Are they in another dimension? None of it made any sense. But the pirates knew Hans. That’s all she knew for sure.
“Hahahahaha!” A loud, jolly laugh echoed up and down the ship. It almost sounded like Santa Clause. Maya jumped in her seat as a large, round pirate walked out from beneath the ship. He had a wild red beard and puffy orange hair. His hat was much too small for his head and his sword looked more like a knife attached to his waist.
“And who might you be?” The jolly pirate asked Maya, standing over her and covering her in a dark shadow.
“Ma…Maya,” she said reluctantly.
“What a lovely name. Mind if I sit?” He pointed to the empty seats on the bench next to her.
She didn’t know what to say so she just nodded. Maya felt her side of the bench lift up as he put all his weight down.
“Lovely evening,” he said, taking in a deep breath and closing his eyes. “Summers on this river are just incredible. Never gets old. Excited about tonight?”
“Where are we going?” Maya asked him nervously.
“Well now, you’re going treasure hunting!”
Maya was afraid of that answer.
“But first,” he continued. “You’re going to have a little fun.” The jolly pirate looked out ahead. “Almost here! Good luck tonight!”
The jolly pirate got up and disappeared back down inside the ship. Matt and Agnes soon rushed over and took the jolly pirate’s place on the bench. As the ship maneuvered up the dark, Muskie River, they had no idea where they were heading. Then, out of nowhere, Matt spotted lights. Lots of lights. A large pier jetted out into the water. As they got closer, they could hear music and singing.
You bring your bucks!
You test your luck!
At Captain Oli’s Pier!
The pirate in the crow’s nest rang his bell furiously. “Ahoy! Matie! We’ve arrived!”
The ship docked along the pier. People were scurrying around little shops and saloons. It was like an old village from a history book. People were laughing, singing, and…playing carnival games?
“Where in the world are we?” Matt asked aloud. A man strolled by in shorts and Nike sneakers. Two teenagers chowing down on pink cotton candy followed behind him. A woman screamed at the top of her lungs as a slot machine’s bells rang loud and it spit out dozens of coins. One of the coins bounced out of the slot machine and rolled into Maya’s foot. When she picked it up, it had a crown on one side and an octopus on the other. Underneath the crown image was the phrase: TEST YOUR LUCK!
“Welcome to Captain Oli’s Casino Pier kids!” said a pirate with a mustache painted on his face with black marker. “I was told to give you each one of these.” The pirate placed a small sack filled with coins in their hands. “You can use them to play games on the pier. Only the kid games, of course. The casino stuff is for grownups. Come back later and we’ll take you back to your beach.”
The pirate then hoped back onto his ship. “Is this for real?” Maya said.
Agnes’ face looked as if she was about to explode. “Let’s find Hans now!”
They walked up the pier, dodging people who were too busy catching dripping ice cream cones or running to the nearest water gun game. Matt really wanted to stop and play some of the games like the Lucky Shot Basketball and the Strike Zone Pitching.
For a little while it seemed like Hans wasn’t there at all. That was until they spotted a large group of people gathering around the back of an arcade.
“You gotta see this kid go!” said one of two teenage girls racing past them.
“I know where he is,” Agnes said annoyed.
Slowly they waded through the crowd of people. When they got to the front there was Hans, twisting and turning his hips like a dancing machine! He was playing Dance Master 7. And he was good — real good. The song “Can’t Stop the Feeling!” By Justin Timberlake was blaring out of the speakers.
“Look at the high scoreboard,” screamed Maya. “The last high score was eight million. Hans is at twenty two!”
Can’t stop the feeling!
So just dance, dance, dance, dance!
Hans was drenched in sweat. His normally disheveled blonde hair was pasted to his forehead. He just kept going and going. As the song came to a close, Hans stomped his feet a few times, spun around toward the crowd and threw his hands in the air! A large neon sign above the game lit up — PERFECT SCORE! Everyone cheered!
Matt and Maya also joined in the celebration. Agnes on the other hand just rolled her eyes. Hans spotted them as he collected his things.
“That was awesome!” Matt said, slapping him on the back and sending a splash of sweat into the air. “Gross…”
“You found me!” Hans said. “I swear I was going to head home as soon as this game ended.”
“How did you get here?” Agnes asked, not caring about his high score. “Why didn’t you tell us you were leaving?”
Hans didn’t like the way Agnes was speaking to him. “None of your business Agnes!” He shot back. “I was investigating the gold coin I found. I then met Sir Walter. He put me on the ship they use to ferry people from all the river beaches.”
“So that coin you found was just one of these?” Agnes said, flipping one of her coins at him.
“I guess so,” he said as he caught it. “I thought it felt heavier, though. But yea I guess I was wrong.”
“Where’s your coin?” Maya asked.
“I don’t think Sir Walter gave it back. Oh well! They gave me a whole bag of them when I got here!”
“Us too!” said Matt.
“We need to head back,” Agnes said, killing the mood. “Our dads will notice us missing soon.”
Hans quickly whipped out his GPS unit.
“What are you doing?” Matt asked.
“Seeing where our dads are,” he answered. “We aren’t allowed to have cell-phones. But our parent do, obviously. And every cell-phone has a built-in GPS tracker in it. I recently rigged my GPS unit to be able to scan and detect my parents’ whereabouts using the GPS chips in their phones.”
Matt’s jaw dropped. “Can you make me one of those? And can you add teachers and principals to it, too?”
“Excellent!” Hans shouted, ignoring Matt’s request. “They’re still outside the cabin.”
“Then it’s time to play!” Matt yelled.
All four of them spent the next half hour playing as many games as they could. When all their coins were gone they went back to the dock where the pirate ship was waiting.
“Time to head home?” said the pirate with the drawn on mustache. They all nodded together, happy and exhausted.
After the short ride down river, the ship dropped them off at the old dock of The Plank House.
“Why do you pick people up here?” Matt asked curiously.
“We don’t,” the pirate replied. “I got a text saying some kids needed a ride and I should stop on my way back up from Grafton Beach and pick them up.”
Matt and Agnes shared a suspicious look, but they didn’t take it any further. When they got off the ship they walked up the dock to the old rope bridge.
“Hey kid! Catch!” said a raspy man’s voice from the darkness. Something round and shiny flipped through the air. Hans caught it — it was the gold coin.
A man they had never seen before stepped out of the shadows. He had long silver hair and a pointy beard. He was dressed in a nice dark suit. A black eye patch covered his left eye. Standing behind him was Sir Walter Wright.
“You found that coin?” The mysterious man asked.
Hans nodded. “It’s from Captain Oli’’s Casino Pier,” Hans said nervously.
“No it ain’t,” said the man, flipping Hans another coin. The coin’s looked similar, except the second one had the words “Test your luck” on the back and the first one didn’t. “My name is Oliver James Wood. My friends call me Captain Oli. I modeled my Casino Pier coins after the gold coins lost by Benjamin “Six Finger” Hansen. I just added my company’s catchphrase on the back. What you found is a real gold coin from the lost treasure. And now you’re going to help me find the rest of it.”
Want to know how this story ends? Come back next week for the conclusion of
The Plank House