The Plank House — Part III

It’s the FINALE! When we last left the S.P.I.R.I.T. kids they were cornered by a man called Captain Oli and his henchman Sir Walter Wright. What do they want? To find the treasure of Benjamin “Six-Finger” Hansen! And they believe Hans can lead them to it. Will they find the treasure? Can the kids get away? Or will something supernatural surprise everyone? Let’s find out.


The Plank House
Part III

“I don’t know anything, I swear!” Hans exclaimed, clenching the gold coin from Benjamin “Six-Finger” Hansen’s treasure.

“Yea, right kid,” said Sir Walter Wright, pushing them into the Plank House dressed in his pirate uniform from Captain Oli’s Casino Pier. They had just spent the last hour there playing all the carnival and arcade games they wanted.

“Our parents will be looking for us,” Agnes said sternly. “You can’t hold us hostage!”

Matt saw a brief opening and darted for the door. “Not so fast, kid!” Sir Walter stretched a long, sharp sword in front of him. It glimmered in the moonlight. “Part of the uniform. Pretty cool, uh?”

Matt gave him a nasty stare. I’m not laughing at your stupid jokes, he thought.

“Get over here! All of ya,” crowed Captain Oli, who sat down at a table. He spread a large, brown map with ripped edges and black burn marks across it.

“Looks just like a map from the movies,” Matt said.

“Shut it kid,” Captain Oli shot back. “This ain’t the movies.”

Matt felt his muscles tighten with anger, but he kept quiet.

“Now, I’ve been searching up and down this river for forty years,” Captain Oli started. “I started the moment I found my first coin.” He took a coin out of his pocket and laid it next to the map. “I’ve been obsessed ever since. I’ve never found another coin. I discovered this map more than ten years ago. It’s led me to here. I bought the property with the purpose of knocking this rotten place down. But the state labeled it a historic landmark! They said I couldn’t knock it down. But they didn’t say I had to take care of it. I’ve been waiting for this place to collapse for a long time. It’s stronger than a stubborn mule!”

“So if you know the treasure is here, why do you need us?” Agnes asked.

“Because you,” he pointed at Hans, “managed to find a coin not in the building, or under it. When Walt here called me to tell me what this fella found, I said ‘keep him occupied till I get there.'”

“That’s why you gave us the bags of game coins,” Matt said.

“That’s right. Hope you had fun. And if you help me find this treasure, I’ll let you play anything you want there for the rest of your life.” Captain Oli smiled a crooked smile.

“And if we don’t help you?” Matt asked.

Sir Walter slammed the edge of the sword into the table! They all jumped back in fright. “There are no ifs,” Captain Oli said. “Now, where’d you find this coin?”

Hans told him about the metal detector and the spot on the beach where he dug up the coin. Captain Oli listened closely. “We need that metal detector,” Captain Oli declared. “Walt take this kid back to the cabin. Help him get the metal detector without tripping their parents. The rest will stay here with me.” He pulled out an old musket gun, something I pirate would carry. “If he tries anything, let him know his group will be going back as three instead of four.”

“Aye yi Captain,” Walt said, pushing Hans toward the door.

The dark, dilapidated restaurant fell quiet after they left. Matt, Maya, and Agnes stared at the ornate pistol sitting on the table. Captain Oli studied the map intensely as if looking at it for the first time.

“Who made the map?” Agnes asked. “Looks kind of silly.”

She wasn’t wrong. The drawings on it looked sloppy. The dotted paths twisted and twirled all over the place with no sense of direction, and the giant “X” was directly in the center.

“No one knows for sure,” said Captain Oli. “But I believe this was made by Six-Finger Hansen himself!”

“I thought the treasure was lost when his ship sunk?” Matt asked. “Why would there be a map if he died?”

“Who said he died?” Captain Oli looked up with a smile. “No one knows for sure. I think he survived and created this map to the burial site of his ship. This river used to flood these shores long ago. His ship would’ve easily been buried somewhere that’s land now.”

“But why all the spirals and twists? I mean this map makes no sense! It’s a like a bad joke,” Agnes said, getting animated.

“Quiet kid!” Captain Oli said angrily, placing a hand on his pistol.

They froze in terror. For a moment the only sound filling the room was from the croaking frogs outside. Then suddenly a jolly laugh came from down a dark flight of stairs.

“You hear that?” Maya whispered to Matt. He shrugged. But she heard the sound again, as if someone was giggling. I know that laugh, she thought, but couldn’t figure out where she knew it from.

“Can I use the bathroom?” Maya asked Captain Oli.

“Bathroom?” He said surprised. “This place hasn’t had running water in years. There ain’t no bathroom.”

“But I really have to go,” Maya said, crossing her legs.

He stared at her for a moment. “There’s a restroom downstairs. I guess just go. But don’t expect to flush and no one has cleaned it since I bought this place. But first…empty your pockets!”

Maya pulled out some pieces of paper she had doodled on and some rolled gum wrappers she had yet to throw out. When he was satisfied she didn’t have a cell phone, he let her go. “If you’re not back in five minutes you’ll only find one friend standing there when you get back.”

Matt and Agnes gave her a nervous stare. They had no idea why she was leaving them or if she really needed to go to the bathroom.

The door to the stairway looked like a hole into an endless abyss. Maya shined her flashlight down until the beam hit a gray cinderblock wall. When she reached the bottom she could feel the warm wet air against her face. It smelt like bad perfume mixed with old cheese you find buried in the back of a refrigator months after expiration. But she could still hear the giggling. It was coming from a dark corner of the basement. It almost sounded like a clown. I hate clowns, she thought.

Part of her wondered why she was moving closer to it. But she felt like she knew that laugh. Like she had heard before. Maybe they can help us, she reasoned as she tried to figure out why she recognized it.

She walked past the bathroom door as she made her way through the dank basement. Her flashlight spotlighted an open door. She could clearly make out the back of a man. A large man. He was digging through the closet as if he lost something.

“Hey!” Maya called.

The man stood straight up and froze.

“Who are you? Can you help us?” Maya took a step back, prepared to run back up the steps if the man seemed at all dangerous.

Slowly the man stepped out of the closet and turned into her light. He looked around expecting to see her talking to someone else. But she wasn’t — and he knew it. The man had a long orange beard and puffy orange hair, with a small hat on his head. He was in a pirate costume similiar to the one Sir Walter had on. Maya immediately recognized him.

“You’re the pirate from the ship,” she said disappointed. “The one who works at Captain Oli’s Pier.”

The jolly man’s face turned red. “Well, it’s a nice boat, didn’t you think? I just love setting sail on the Muskie. Nothing like the air sliding against your face as the sails push you forward.”

Maya stared at him confused. “What are you doing down here? Looking for the treasure, too?”

The man pointed his right index finger against his chest. “Me? Treasure?” He let out his jolly laugh again. His whole body shook when he laughed, every part of him jiggling. Maya started to worry that Captain Oli would hear it from upstairs. “No treasure for me. You’re the treasure hunter. Didn’t I tell you?”

“How did you know I’d be treasure hunting?” Maya asked.

The jolly man lifted his left arm and pointed at the ceiling. But she immediately noticed he had a strange-looking cup covering his hand making it look like he didn’t have one. “That guy up there’s been hunting for that treasure for years!” The jolly pirate couldn’t help but laugh. “I don’t know what he thinks he’s looking for. No one has found that treasure.”

“If you’re not looking for it then why are you here?”

The jolly pirate pulled a spoon out of his pocket, attached it to the cup on his left hand and picked up a jar of pudding with the other. “Pudding here is aged to perfection!” He said, laughing uncontrollably. Maya found herself holding back her own laughter. Who is this guy? She wondered. He seems so happy.

“Do you have a phone?” she asked. “My friends and I need help. Captain Oli is trying to kill us!”

The jolly man suddenly stopped laughing. “Kill you? But you’re just kids! He can’t do that.”

“Can I use your phone to call for help?”

The jolly pirate started reaching into his pockets. He pulled out two dead fish; a wooden back scratcher that he attached to his left arm and used to scratch his back; a few colorful parrott feathers; a handkerchief that he blew his nose into; a small wooden flute that he blew into and laughed when sound came out; a shriveled up piece of fruit that he smelt then ate; and then…nothing. No phone.

“Don’t think I have what you’re looking for dear,” he said sadly.

“I have to get back,” Maya said, disappointed. “Before he kills one of my friends.”

“Wait!” He suddenly shouted. He ran over to a ripped up piece of floorboard, stuck his hand under it and pulled out a bottle with a small piece of old paper rolled up inside. “Give him this…” The jolly man started to laugh, again. “Sorry…I…I love to laugh,” he said between laughs. “Okay…sorry…now, give him this and say you tripped, knocked off this piece of floor, and saw this.”

“What is it?” Maya asked, staring at it. “What does the paper say?”

“Don’t worry,” said the jolly pirate. “He’ll know what to do.” And the jolly pirate started laughing, again.

Maya took the bottle in her hands and quickly went back up the steps.

“Took you long enough,” said Captain Oli. “I was just playing eenie-meanie-minie-mo with your friends here.”

“Sorry,” Maya said, catching her breath. “When I came out of the bathroom, I tripped on some loose flooring and found this.” She lifted up the bottle to Captain Oli, who with big eyes snatched it her from her hands.

“You open it?” He asked.

Maya shook her head.

He pulled a knife out of his pocket and yanked the cork out of the bottle. The small piece of paper slid out.

“Get in there!” They all turned around to see Sir Walter pushing Hans through the door. He was carrying his GoldFinder 5000 metal detector. And he looked scared. “We got it Captain. No one saw us.”

“Turn around…” Captain Oli said softly.

“What was that Captain?” Sir Walter asked confused.

“I said — turn around!” Captain Oli looked up with a glare of insanity. “Follow me!”

Captain Oli led the way. The kids were right behind him followed by Sir Walter in the rear who used his sword to keep them in line.

“What were our dads doing?” Agnes asked Hans as they walked.

“The same thing as when we left. How many songs does your dad know Matthew?”

Matt shrugged. “A lot, I guess.”

“Here!” Shouted Captain Oli.

They arrived on the public beach. The same one where they were all relaxing and playing on earlier.

“Um…Captain? This right?” Sir Walter asked, using the tip of his sword to scratch his head. “This is a public beach. I see old guys on here all the time with these weird metal detector things looking for stuff. Don’t you think they would’ve found it?”

“Shut it!” Captain Oli said. “The letter in the bottle says:

It sees all that passes by;
In the spring it watches babies fly.
You may never see it there;
Scattered amongst a family affair.
But if your journey brings you to this measure;
You’ll be rewarded with my buried treasure.

Matt, Maya, Hans and Agnes all looked at each other. Was this it? Were they about to uncover the buried treasure of the pirate Benjamin “Six-Finger” Hansen. Matt looked over at what Captain Oli was investigating and wasn’t convinced.

“That’s a porta potty,” Matt said. And it was. The line of porta potties used by people on the beach. Matt watched Hans pop out of one earlier with all his treasure hunting gear.

“Help me move it,” Captain Oli said to them. None of them moved. “Now!” He pointed his pistol directly at Matt.

But Matt didn’t care. “No offense dude. You can shoot me before I move one of those things. That’s just gross.”

The Captain grew irritated, but he didn’t pull the trigger. Matt called his bluff, and then let out a sigh of relief. “Walter! Get over here.”

“Yes Captain!” Sir Walter sheathed his sword and ran over. The four kids just watched.

“How clean was it in there?” Matt asked Hans.

“Let’s just say my clothes had a funky smell on them most of the day,” Hans replied.

After a few minutes of struggling they managed to move one of the porta potties out of the line and onto the sandy beach. Suddenly water rushed across the kids’ feet and ankles, even hitting the bottom of the porta potty.

“Tides coming in Captain,” Sir Walter said. “They water will be right up to us in a few minutes.”

“Don’t worry about that,” Captain Oli said. Behind the porta potty was a tall and wide oak tree. “These trees have been here for hundreds of years. But only one has this.” He shined a light onto the carving of an eye. “It’s been here for a long time. Based on the way the carving was etched and how deep it is, historians believed it was carved in the 1700s, right around the time of Six-Finger. How have I never thought about this. Give me that metal detector.”

Sir Walter took it from Hans. “Be careful!”

“Yea, yea…” Sir Walter said as he handed it to Captain Oli. The second he turned it on the metal detector went crazy.

“Shovel…now!” Walter handed him a shovel and he started digging.

The water was getting deeper as it came up the shore. Matt, Maya, Hans, and Agnes moved up the banks to get out of it. They had the perfect chance to make a run for it.

“Should we…go?” Matt asked as they watched Captain Oli and Sir Walter dig.

“I kind of want to see what they find,” said Agnes.

Hans smiled at his sister. “Yea…me too.”

The porta potty on the beach started swaying as the water got higher.

“I’m going to find this ship and the treasure!” Captain Oli exclaimed. “My dream will finally come true!”

Suddenly, something appeared in the sand. It was a small dark, metal box. Certainly not big enough to hold a treasure, they all thought. Captain Oli and Walter were puzzled.

“What is this?” Captain Oli asked.

“Don’t know Captain. But it kind of looks familiar…I think.”

On the side of the box was a small lever. Captain Oli carefully pulled it down — nothing happened it. He hit it again. Nothing. “Wait…there’s an inscription on the wood here.” As Captain Oli tried to rub the dirt out of the letters, Sir Walter pushed the lever again…and again.

As Captain Oli read the words aloud: “It says….Test…your…luck…” — Sir Walter pressed the lever one more time. BOOM!

The top of the wooden box exploded open! Out popped a small doll dressed as a pirate with an eye patch and a red bandana holding a sign that read: “Out of Luck, Argh!”

The sudden surprise sent Captain Oli and Sir Walter stumbling backward onto the beach. They couldn’t find their footing in the water. Captain Oli’s arms were spinning to catch his balance. But he couldn’t. He stumbled until his body crashed inside the porta potty, causing it to tip over into the water.

“Captain!” Walter rushed to his aid. He reached into the porta potty to pull the Captain out. As the Captain tried pulling himself up, he slipped and yanked Sir Walter into the porta potty with him. Both men struggled to stand up as it floated down the river.

“I hope that’s mud their covered in,” said Matt.

“I wouldn’t bet on it,” Agnes said.

The four of them stood on the beach watching the two pirate treasure hunters float away in their dirty little boat. “He wanted to find a ship,” Hans added, making them all laugh.

“Let’s get back to the cabin,” said Agnes.

As they hiked through the woods toward their cabin, Maya heard the jolly pirate’s laugh. It rang through the trees and over all the noise of the crickets, frogs, and birds. She spotted him, leaning against a tree, waving to her and laughing. His round stomach bobbing up and down with each chuckle. “Look guys!” Maya pointed. “It’s that funny pirate from the ship! He’s the one who gave me the bottle with the note.”

She turned around to see Matt, Hans, and Agnes staring at her funny.

“What?”

Matt shined his flashlight into the woods. “Who are you talking about?”

“The pirate from the ship!” She said, pointing at the jolly pirate by the tree, still giggling and laughing.

They all looked down and didn’t see anyone. Suddenly they all realized it.

Maya looked over to the jolly pirate who was waving his hands at her. Actually, just one hand. The other hand was just a weird-looking cup with a single spike sticking out like a finger. A sixth finger. “Six-Finger Hansen,” Maya said in shock.

“That’s awesome,” said Matt.

Maya ran over to him, unafraid that he was just a ghost. “Where did that bottle come from? How did you know what was under that tree?”

“Kids hide the strangest things on these beaches,” he said between giggles. “That thing has been buried their for years. I watched the kids put the glass bottle in the restaurant just before it closed. I’m just happy someone got to enjoy their special treasure.”

“And your treasure?” Maya had to ask.

But Six-Finger Hansen just laughed. “When I was alive, people used to say that my jokes and games were as good as gold!” He answered, letting out a loud jolly laugh.

“So there’s no gold?”

He just shrugged and started laughing as his body slowly faded away.

The four of them went back to the cabin and found their dads still outside by the fire.

“Get bored cooped up in that cabin kids?” Mr. Romero asked, running his fingers over his guitar strings.

“You could say that,” Matt said.

“Hey! Know any pirate songs?” Hans asked.

Mr. Romero though for a second. I think I got one:

You bring your bucks!
You test your luck!
At Captain Oli’s Pier!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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