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Chapter 1 - The Map

“ ‘We'll be fine. We'll be fine,’ you said. Harlie, you're a moron!” Anya huffed.

“Do you see it?” he asked, ignoring his sister's barb.

“Hard to see anything now, isn't it?”

The twins stared at the imposing wrought-iron gate, their bodies drenched and knotted with fatigue. All they carried were their backpacks and a map.

The drizzle ran down Harlie's back like a line of little bugs, mixing with his sweat before soaking into his waistband. His eyes followed the massive twisted metal upward, into the fringes of the faint undulating light cast by the torches on either side.

“It's got to be here,” Harlie replied. “Keep looking.”

 

It had started innocently enough over dinner the night before, as Anya remembered it. Her mother had suggested the twins conclude their family vacation in Bermuda by taking an excursion to an uncharted island.

“It has some of the best scuba diving in the Atlantic. I wouldn't even know about it, but a friend invited me when I was about your age. His name is Stephen Quinn. He runs the school on the island, and he's suggested you come for an overnight trip. Think of it as an early birthday present.” The twins, avid divers, were itching to get under the water.

“Great,” Harlie said. “What time are we leaving?”

“You are leaving tomorrow,” their mother had replied.

“Aren't you coming?” Anya asked.

“No, you'll be in good hands, though. I know Joe, the pilot, and Stephen Quinn will pick you up at the airport. I just want to sit on the beach and relax. Besides, you'll have more fun without me.” The next morning, their mother had sent them off in a twin-engine plane to explore this “enchanting island.” Her only suggestion for them had been to bring their hiking gear—and to grab the fluffanutters and water from the fridge.

She'd escorted her fourteen-year-olds to a small plane and handed the pilot some papers as other passengers boarded. He inspected the papers and smiled, “Everything seems to be in order. Climb aboard.”

“Just stick together once you're on the island—it'll be fun.” But something in her mother's voice had unsettled Anya, who had been bothered by her mother's mercurial disposition during the last few months. Every time she'd asked her about her odd moods, her mother had a ready explanation: she was worried about getting funding for her project; she was tired; she was stressed about a deadline. The family had planned two weeks in Bermuda to enjoy some scuba diving and kayaking before school started, but they hadn't done any diving since they'd arrived in Bermuda, and Sicily hadn't joined them on the kayaking expeditions as she usually did. Anya didn't know how she knew it—call it intuition, or maybe she just knew her mother too well—but she was certain that her mother had an ulterior motive for sending her teenagers on this excursion sans matre.

Sicily had tried to hug Harlie, but he'd squirmed away. When she'd kissed Anya's forehead, Anya had felt her arms close a little tightly around her shoulders. “Keep Harlie out of trouble.“ Then Sicily Fox had straightened, turned, and walked stiffly back toward the terminal.

As Anya had watched her mother leave, she had remembered a 2 a.m. phone conversation she'd overheard three weeks earlier. Her mother had been positively apoplectic: “I know what I told you, but they're not ready—I'm not ready! I can't come; people know me there. I'd be putting them in danger—don't you dare tell me what I can and I can't do! I've trusted you before, Chancellor, and we both know how that turned out!” After that, her mother's moods had followed a more predictable pattern of false levity punctuated by tearful moments, which Sicily had attributed to sand or allergies.

Anya hadn't taken her eyes off her mother until she'd felt a soft pressure on her shoulder.

“This way,” Joe had said, as he guided Anya up the stairs behind the other passengers. “You've got the last two seats, but they're in first class.” The co-pilot, a stout, barrel-bellied man took their backpacks with a grunt and a nod.

 

“First class” meant seats at the front of the plane. For Harlie, an airplane enthusiast, it was hard to contain his excitement. He sat forward on the edge of his window seat crowding his sister beside him as to look through the open cockpit door. He yelled over the engine noise to Joe, “What kind of plane is this?”

Joe was checking off his list, but he answered without hesitation. “It's a Dornier 328. This one was custom-built fo—”

“Harlie, leave him alone and let him do his job; besides, I need to talk to you.” Anya pulled Harlie back into his seat. He resisted at first, but then noticed the look on his sister's face. She wasn't crying, but she looked like she might. He sat back. “What? You're not scared, are you?”

“Of course not, but—it's just that—how does Mom know the pilot? And she told me to take care of you. She never says that; something's up, Harlie. I just feel it.”

Crap. Anya's feelings gave Harlie the creeps sometimes. For one thing, she never seemed to get these feelings about anything good or fun; for another, she was rarely wrong. Still, it wouldn't do any good to encourage her.

“You worry too much, Onion. Just relax. Let's have some fun. In an hour, we'll be suiting up to take a dive.”

Once they were in flight, Bermuda slowly dissolved into ocean until it disappeared altogether. After two hours in the air, Harlie began to wonder if Anya's creepy premonition was right after all. Joe had closed the door to the cockpit before takeoff. All Harlie could see out his window was ocean. He judged that the shadows cast by the morning sun meant they must be headed into it. “We're going east. Get your phone and we can use the GPS to find out where we are,” he said. Anya fished around under her seat for her backpack before remembering that the co-pilot had taken it.

An older couple behind them was engrossed in conversation. Harlie didn't recognize the language. It sounded like Spanish, but different. The man looked up and smiled at Harlie.

“Sir, do you know where we're going?” Harlie asked.

The man just smiled and said something Harlie didn't understand.

“Doesn't camino mean ‘walk’ in Spanish?” Anya asked, “That doesn't help. We can't exactly walk anywhere from here. You must've misheard him.”

 

Anya looked around the cabin. The other passengers all looked perfectly content. A business man in a charcoal suit sat engrossed in his computer. An olive-skinned prunish woman smiled benignly back at her.

“Do you know where we're going?” Anya asked.

“Eu não falo ingles.”

Great. Now Anya was really worried. Maybe her mother was going through menopause or having some sort of nervous breakdown. Counter to her mother's usual cavalier attitude toward summer vacations, she'd given the twins a long, seemingly useless packing list that she'd personally inspected before they'd left home. Anya was still mad because the airlines had lost their bags and they hadn't heard back for a week now. But, to Anya, the most convincing evidence of her mother's crumbling mental health was her insistence that the twins celebrate their fifteenth birthday in Bermuda two weeks early, instead of throwing their much-acclaimed annual pool party with their friends. Sicily was usually one of the most sensible mothers in the world, but this just didn't make any sense. And now, they were flying to an uncharted island to meet a man their mother had never mentioned to them before yesterday. Anya wished she'd asked her mother more questions last night, but now she'd get answers wherever she could get them.

She stood, adjusted the hem of her T-shirt, then stepped to the cockpit door and knocked. The co-pilot cracked it and peeked out.

“May I speak to Joe?” she asked.

The co-pilot shook his head and closed the door. Anya's heart sank. She made her way back to her seat and slumped beside Harlie, leaning forward to see out their window and twirling her hair between her fingers like she always did when she was anxious.

She was relieved when Joe slipped into the cabin. He bent down in front of them and handed them an envelope. “Mr. Quinn told me to give you this. Said you'd have no trouble finding your way to him as long as you followed his directions.”

“But he was supposed to meet us at the airport,” Anya retorted.

“You mean, he's not picking us up?” Harlie asked.

“Looks like he wants you to find him,” he said, nodding toward the envelope. “I gotta get back to the cockpit. We'll talk more once we're on the ground.”

Harlie took the envelope and broke the seal. He slid a folded paper from it and handed the envelope to Anya. As he unfolded the paper, he held it out so that both he and Anya could see it clearly.

Map of Caminus Island

It was an odd-looking map. Some things on it looked very old; it looked hand-drawn, but the map was new, judging by its crisp edges. The island was roughly crescent-shaped, with a mountain to the southeast, protecting a natural harbor to its west. The street names seemed to be a mixture of English and Spanish, or maybe Italian. The twins had only taken Spanish twice a week at Oak Knoll Middle School and could do little more than count to twenty and ask where to find a bathroom, so the Spanish names were unsettling. It would be a stretch to try to find their way around the island if no one could speak English.

Maybe Quinn's sending this Hanno guy to be our guide,“ Harlie suggested.

“I doubt it,” Anya answered. “It says, ‘Two seekers.’”

“But maybe we'll find Hanno when we find his mark in the stone,“ he answered.

“Maybe, but I wouldn't hold my breath.”

 

Harlie examined the map again, straining to remember his longitude and latitude lessons from Social Studies. The port town of Lylit lay just northeast of an airport with bearings of 30º 18' N, 42º 54' W.

“Atlanta's at 33º N, 84º W,” he said, recalling the longitude and latitude coordinates for his hometown, “and if Atlanta's at 84º West and the prime meridian's 0º, we compare those figures to the island on our map, which is 42º West, then the island must be half way between Atlanta and the prime meridian.”

“We know more than that, Harshly,” Anya teased, employing her pet name for her brother. “Where is the prime meridian located?”

“It's in England—right?” Harlie answered.

“Then that means…”

“The island's right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean! But there isn't an island I know of there! How about you?” Harlie asked, hoping his sister would have an answer.

Well, Mom did say it was uncharted.” They fell silent again. Harlie noted that Lylit, the only town on the map, was tiny, with just three streets running parallel to the harbor. In the upper left corner in violet ink was a handwritten verse:

Two seekers, you'll search on an island unknown,

To find Hanno's mark etched in his stone.

He'll guide you through woods to his mark's gated twin.

To the sculptor's descendent and your host, Stephen Quinn.

 

While her brother's eyes were trained on the verse, Anya examined the familiar symbols along its border. One symbol in the lower right corner was circled in the same violet ink as the verses. She pointed to it and Harlie nodded. She traced the shape with her finger. She wanted to be sure she had it etched in her mind. Closing her eyes, she imagined it: .

“Maybe this symbol is Hanno's mark. Maybe it's some sort of ancient alphabet,” Anya surmised. “Maybe Hanno is a sculptor and this mark is on one of his sculptures somewhere on the island.”

As the twins passed the map back and forth, Anya wondered if they would be able to find Hanno or this mysterious . She worried herself with practical details she knew Harlie wouldn't think of: How much money did they have in their backpacks? Did they even accept American money here? And passports! They didn't have their passports. How were they going to get out of the airport terminal? Why hadn't her mom given her Mr. Quinn's cell number? Suddenly Joe's voice came over the intercom. “We will be landing in ten minutes. Please make sure your seatbelts are fastened.”

“Put the map back in here,” Anya said to Harlie, opening the envelope. Inside was something she hadn't noticed before: a small white business card with red lettering.

“What's this?” she asked absently.

She it took out and read it: Caminus Youth Hostel, 831 Beco Rua, Caminus. On the back, written in violet scrawl were the words: In case you need it.

 

“Well, I guess we have plan “B” taken care of,” Harlie said, trying to hide the queasy feeling in his stomach. He told himself there was nothing to worry about, and even if there was, he had to play it cool, so Anya wouldn’t get upset. After a few minutes, the plane descended noticeably and passengers on the left side began to look out their windows and point, but all Harlie could see from his window seat was water. A coat closet and the door of the plane obstructed his view to the north. Only when the plane was about twenty or so yards from the ground could he see the island just beneath his window.

His first glimpse of it was not encouraging. The southern edge of the coastline ran raggedly into the ocean with no trees or scrubby vegetation to soften its appearance. He did make out a small beach as they passed it, just west of the runway, but otherwise the coastline seemed forbidding. Waves pounded the rocks, spraying water several feet into the air. Harlie ran the day’s events around in his brain. Mom doesn’t do anything without a plan, and she planned this—or at least she planned for us to meet Mr. Quinn. That means she trusts him.

 

Only after the plane touched down and turned north, taxiing off the runway, did Anya get her first glimpse of Lylit Harbor. In spite of her welling anxiety, she found the scenery breathtaking. Fishing boats, yachts, dinghies, and catamarans rolled lazily in the horseshoe harbor. The town north of it was a mix of dark gray stone, white washed walls, and red shutters. Flowers dotted the harbor side. Rooftops rose above the main street as they climbed up the ridge to the north. A mountain that was almost the color of the sky rose up on the opposite side of the harbor.

“It’s beautiful. Did you see that mountain?” Anya asked.

Harlie nodded. “Yeah. They got the name right. It’s called Blue Mountain on the map.” 

“Harlie, I don’t like this. Mom said he’d meet us at the airport. He’s obviously changed plans without telling her.” 

“Come on, Onion, lighten up. We’ll be fine.” 

Anya knew Harlie wasn’t as comfortable with this situation as he let on, but him calling her Onion like he had been—that was a dare. He always used this moniker when he wanted to provoke her in some way. Somehow, it made her braver, and she allowed herself to believe this was normal—like just the two of them—fifteen almost—traveling on a beautiful island was just some wild adventure.

“You’re on, Harshly!” Her stomach fluttered wildly, but she stuck up her chin and flipped her hair back, trying to appear confident.

When the plane stopped, the co-pilot entered the cabin and reached into the coat closet, pulling out their backpacks. He handed them unceremoniously to Harlie before opening the door for the departing passengers.

“What do you have in your pack?” Harlie asked Anya.

“My purse, five dollars, and thirty-two cents, my binoculars, cell phone—but it doesn’t work—journal, pencil and pens.”

“I’ve got my iPod, wallet with a dollar in it, iTunes gift card, and a ticket stub to The Avengers: The Azimuth Compass,” Harlie added.

“Did you pack a lunch like Mom asked you to?” she asked.

“I thought she asked you.”

“You thought wrong. I guess we can buy lunch and split it if they’ll take our money.” The rest of the passengers filed past as she repacked her belongings. As she stepped out the door of the small plane, she caught a glimpse of two teenage boys in purple polo shirts at the front of the line of passengers strung out between the door and the terminal. She was about to point them out to Harlie when Joe extended his hand to help her down the steps leading to the tarmac. Joe pointed to a sign over a tiny terminal that read: “Welcome to Caminus.”  

“This island is named Caminus?” Anya asked.

“I don’t know what you mean,” Joe grinned. “My charter instructions are clear. I am to take you to 30º 18’ North, 42º 54’ West. Look on any world map and you will find nothing but water at these coordinates. You certainly won’t find an island named Caminus.

“Too bad you didn’t get to see it from your seats, but once we descend to three thousand feet, the island just appears out of thin air. The first time I saw it, I thought I was hallucinating.”

“Sorry, we missed it,” Harlie said.

“Do you know what Mr. Quinn looks like?” Anya interrupted.

“I’ve never met Mr. Quinn, but I’ve brought loads of people to him. Most come in August. I pilot three double circuits a year in August, December, and May. I always see them on a return flight.”

“Joe, we don’t have our passports,” Anya said in a voice that she hoped was steadier than she felt. But Joe waved her question off as if it were a gnat.

“Why would you need a passport to get into a place that doesn’t exist?”

Without another word, Joe climbed back into his plane and closed the door.

 

Go To Chapter Two

 

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