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Twelve Hundred Degrees Fahrenheit is the fourteenth chapter of Zak Saturday's Immortal Love Life. It was first published on January 14, 2016.

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Chapter

Zak's POV

It’s been a couple days now since Uncle Doyle came to live with us, but not everyone was happy about that as I am.

Right now, I’m heading to Sarah’s room. We haven’t hung out as much since Doyle’s been here. When I got to her room, she was sitting on her bed with a laptop in front of her.

“Hey, Sarah,” I said.

“Oh, hey, Zak,” she said, closing her laptop.

I sat down on the bed in front of her.

“So, isn’t it cool that I have an uncle?” I asked.

“Uh, I guess,” she said, not sounding happy about it.

“Do you have any uncles?”

“One . . . Well, I guess I just learned that I have three more whom I probably will never meet, much less even know their names. But the one uncle I do know is my dad’s brother, Rick. He’s a cool guy.”

“Like Doyle?”

“Uh, sure.”

“What?”

She shook her head. “Nothing. I just don’t like him.”

“Why?”

“Do I really have to tell you why? I mean, I’m not the only one who doesn’t like him.”

“True. But I still want to know why you don’t.”

Sarah sighed. “Well, he’s rude sometimes, reckless, careless, and have you noticed the way he looks and acts toward my mom? She’s married to my dad, for God’s sake. Doesn’t he know better than to hit on a married woman?”

“I guess not,” I said. “But that’s how he is.”

“Yeah.”

“Anyway, come on. Dr. Cheechoo called. He needs our help with something.”

“Ok,” Sarah said.

She grabbed her sword and together we headed to the airship.

We were on our way to Osorno in South America.

Along the way, we all gathered in the back of the airship, and Doyle was telling us a story about him fighting a guy named Baron Finster, whose lower half was a robotic scorpion, and how he got away from him by riding a prehistoric bird.

While riding it, Finster’s men had appeared, driving helicopters to stop him from getting away.

“And?” I asked. “Come on. Don’t leave us hanging, Doyle.”

“You know, it get’s a little messy after that,” he said. “Let’s just say the bird and I took care of ’em.”

I thought the story was cool, and so did Fiskerton, but Dad didn’t think so. He groaned with his arms crossed over his chest.

“Problem?” Doyle asked him.

“An Ngani-Vatu?” he said. “You just mounted up and rode a giant Vegeain man-eating bird?”

“If you don’t want to listen, don’t listen,” Doyle said.

“Excellent idea.”

Dad opened the emergency exit door, then grabbed Doyle and threw him outside.

“Dad!” I said.

“Doc!” Mom said.

“What?” he asked innocently. “He has a jetpack.”

I had a feeling he was still gonna do that whether he had a jetpack or not.

The Hollingers were laughing. Apparently they found it funny.

“Oh, I would’ve done so much worse than just throw him outside,” Raylee said.

“What would you have done?” I asked her.

She had a mischievous smile on her face. “You don’t want to know.”

“You really don’t,” Amber said.

Judging by the way they said that, they’re probably right: I don’t wanna know.

After Doyle got back on the airship, we continued our trip to Osorno. A little while later, we arrived there. The place was covered in snow.

We landed the airship and got suited up. I waited to suit up Komodo at the bottom of the ramp with him at the top.

“Come on,” I told him. “Dr. Cheechoo’s waiting.”

He came down and looked around.

“I’ve got a Komodo-size parka for you,” I said.

But he, instead, took his parka out of my hand with his mouth, ripped it up, and went back up the ramp into the airship. He’s cold-blooded, after all. I rolled my eyes. We left him and Zon in the airship while the rest of us went to see Dr. Cheechoo.

Dad was still bothered by the story Doyle told us.

“Let me get this straight,” he said to him. “You caught up with the crate after you reached terminal velocity? Was this before or after the laws of physics stopped working?”

“Hey, any time you wanna see my terminal velocity, just ask,” Doyle replied.

“What? That doesn’t make any—even your threats have bad science.”

He just stared at him, reaching behind his back where his grenades were, which made Dad mad.

“Oh, are we escalating?” he asked, summoning his power glove.

“Ok, boys,” Mom said, getting between them. “It was just a story. Let’s not turn this into some pointless macho contest.”

“Your mom has bad science,” Doyle said to Dad.

“My what?” he asked.

That made him even more mad.

“Doc.” Mom held him back while me and Fiskerton held Doyle back.

“Whoa, hey, Doyle,” I said.

“Doc, whoa, come on,” Mom said. “He’s my brother. My little brother. You’re gonna beat up a kid?”

“Kid?” Doyle asked, sounding offended.

“You, not helping.”

“I don’t know, Mom. He’s kinda right,” I said. “Didn’t he beat the pants off Dad the first time they fought?”

Fisk nodded in agreement and even acted out pulling the pants down.

Sarah glared at us. “Yeah, and I almost killed him with my sword.”

I remembered that. I still thought that it was pretty cool.

“Uh, no offense, Doyle, but we’ve been doing this a lot longer,” Mom told him. “You probably don’t wanna escalate.”

“Uh, to be honest, I don’t call you Saturdays in because I need the help,” we heard a voice say, and noticed Dr. Cheechoo standing with his team about twenty feet away from us. “I just can’t resist the entertainment value.”

“Neither can I,” Raylee agreed with a laugh.

“Welcome to Osorno.”

After we greeted Dr. Cheechoo and his team, he told us what he needed our help with.

“We’ve been picking up diversion seismic activity for a week now,” he said. “But that’s not why I asked you to come.”

“Was it to snowboard?” I asked. “’Cause it would be really cool if we could snowboard.”

“Nice try, Zak. Three days ago, this started.”

He stood in front of some kind of computer. He pressed a button on it, and a kind of growling sound started playing.

“At first we thought it was just a pressure vent releasing steam,” Dr. Cheechoo explained.

“No, there’s something abnormal about it,” Mom said.

“It sounds like an animal,” Sarah said.

“It could be some kind of sonar,” Dad agreed. “Do we know any subterranean cryptids that use echo location?”

“I’ll check the C.P.,” Mom said.

“I knew I called the right Secret Scientists,” Dr. Cheechoo said.

I was looking out into the distance when Doyle came over to me.

“So we’re holding a stethoscope up to a volcano to see if it has indigestion,” he asked me. “Is it always this exciting?”

“Yeah, usually,” I replied. “Until something attacks us or explodes.”

To prove my point, the volcano in front of us erupted, lava flowing down it.

“Whoa,” I said. “So it’s exploding this time.”

I noticed some people were snowboarding down the volcano, trying to get away from the lava.

“Mom, Dad, the slopes,” I said.

“Fiskerton and I can clear the camp,” Dad said.

“Doyle, just jump in whenever you—” Mom started, but didn’t get to finish because Doyle took off using his jetpack to go save those people. “Ok.”

She ran off to go save someone else from the lava.

“Well, I guess that’s my cue,” Raylee said. “You guys stay here.”

And she, with the animals following, went off to help.

While they were doing that, Sarah, Zack, and I worked on any injuries that the people they saved might’ve had. I was keeping track of how many each of them saved, and Doyle won.

“You should’ve seen him, Mom,” I told her after she just finished saving someone else. “Doyle rescued, like, six people already.”

“Turns out I’m pretty good at the good guy thing too,” he said. “Not bad for a little brother, huh?”

“We’re saving lives, boys,” she said. “It’s not a contest.”

We heard someone scream. Lava was gathering under the elevators you ride up a mountain, and there were some people on them.

Mom and Doyle looked at each other with determination on their faces. They ran to go help.

“Now it’s a contest,” Raylee said.

Mom ran to a tree, grabbed her fire sword, cut a part of the tree bark, and made a kind of sled. She jumped on it, and went to go save those people.

I had to admit, that was cool. “Go, Mom.”

Doyle strapped his jetpack onto his feet and used it as a sled. That was cool, too.

“Aren’t you going to help?” Zack asked his mom.

“Normally I would,” she said. “But I love seeing a brother and sister compete. Even though you shouldn’t make saving people a competition. I’ll be watching closely if someone gets close to being touched by the lava and neither of them are able to save that person.”

We continued watching my mom and uncle.

A little while later, we all gathered in a log cabin, including Dr. Cheechoo and his team—except for Mom—and Doyle was telling us all a story around a table.

“So, I don’t know if this guy was in the hot tub when the thing blew or what, but I’m not kidding,” he said. “Skis, goggles, bikini briefs. I mean, I almost left him just on principle.”

We all started laughing, even the Hollingers seemed to find it funny.

Mom walked into the cabin, carrying a faun.

“Mom, you’ve gotta hear Doyle’s story,” I told her.

“I saved a deer,” she said. “A baby deer. Anyone wanna hear that story?”

“Aww, how cute,” Sarah said.

She got up from her chair and walked over to it. She petted it and the deer licked her face.

She laughed. “I’ll take it from here, Drew.”

Mom gave her the faun, and then, for some reason, Sarah unsheathed her sword and pointed it across the table.

“Don’t even think about it,” she said.

I noticed that Kimbia was at the other end, his eyes just peering over the table in a stalking manner, and so were the other cheetahs and Shillow.

“But we’re hungry,” Kimbia complained, sitting back in defeat.

“I don’t care,” Sarah said. “You’re not gonna eat this deer. It just survived death from an erupting volcano and now it’s going to survive seven carnivores if I have anything to say about it. It’s been through enough in one day.”

The animals groaned.

“Come on, guys,” Raylee told them. “I’ll get you something to eat.”

She left the cabin and the animals followed her.

Sarah put the deer on the floor. “It’s ok. You’re safe now.”

It licked her face again.

We all laughed.

Mom walked up to Doyle, planting her hands on the table in front of him. “How many?”

“Fifteen,” he replied. “You?”

“Fifteen. Without the deer.”

“I think there’s a man still up there,” one of Dr. Cheechoo’s team members said. “Near the blast cone.”

I grabbed a pair of binoculars and looked out the window.

“I don’t think that’s a man,” I said.

“Yeah, because if it was, he’d probably already be dead by now,” Zack said.

“What is it?” Sarah asked.

“I don’t know,” I said. “But it’s definitely not a man.”

The thing standing at the top of the volcano looked like some kind of lava lizard standing on its hind legs like a man.

“I thought you guys checked the C.P.,” I said to my parents.

“This isn’t in it,” Mom said.

We felt the ground shake and more lava started pouring out of the volcano.

“If we don’t do something now, this whole town is going up in flames,” Dr. Cheechoo said. “I’ve got drilling equipment. Let my team tackle the lava flow.”

“We get the lava lizard?” Mom asked.

“Well, that’s what you guys do, isn’t it?” Sarah said.

We headed to the airship and did some research on the lava lizard, Raylee and the animals rejoining us.

“This is gonna be a problem,” Dad said. “The creature’s skin is super heated. Incendiary.”

“Yeah, see, I would’ve guessed that when it came out of a volcano,” Doyle said.

“He’s got a point there,” Raylee said, but I can tell she hated to admit it.

Dad glared at her.

“How’s the fire-proofing on the extreme temperature suits?” Mom asked Dad.

“I designed them myself,” he said.

“Better safe than sorry, though, huh?” Doyle said. “Look, I’ve got freeze tech that’ll handle this long distance.” He opened the side door to the outside. “Hey, you wanna tag team, mini-man?”

I knew he was talking to me.

“If you think you can keep up,” I said.

I grabbed my helmet, put it on, and whistled. I jumped out the door. Zon flew out from under me and I landed on the little platform she carries under her.

Doyle flew beside us with his jetpack and handed me a little water hose. I strapped it on to my wrist and we went to find the lava lizard.

We found it walking between houses. Doyle flew in front of is and sprayed water on it from his hose.

“Time to chill out, Hot Head,” I said.

The second splash of water caused ice to form around it, and now it looked like an ice sculpture.

“I think we can put this mission on ice,” Doyle said.

“Or looks like that guy’s an absolute zero,” I said,

“Nice.” He gave me a thumbs up.

My mom, who was wearing one of those temperature suits, Sarah, Zack, and Fiskerton were standing next to him.

“No offense, but you guys are idiots,” Sarah said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because fire melts through ice,” Zack replied.

To prove his point, the ice around the lava lizard was steaming and it broke apart. The lava lizard tried to hit Doyle with its fist, but he dodged it. Mom kicked it, and it backed away a little bit.

A news helicopter was flying above us, and I noticed a guy with a camera looking out the side of it. Mom was distracted by it that she didn’t notice the lava lizard coming toward her. It hit her with her tail and knocked her into a car.

Doyle hit it with his grenades, but it didn’t seem to have that much effect. I had Zon fly me close to it, the claw in my hand, and I activated my powers, but I couldn’t control it.

“I can’t get a connection with my cryptid powers,” I said. “Its emotions are all over the place.”

“I know,” Sarah agreed.

I noticed Raylee, Pikachu, the animals, Fiskerton, and Dad, who was also wearing a suit, helping Mom up.

“Drew, what’s the situation?” Dad asked her.

“The situation is handled,” she said, then gestured over to a fire hydrant about ten feet away from them. “Just knock off that hydrant for me.”

He summoned his power glove, walked over to it, and knocked off the top of it, hitting the lava lizard directly with water.

“Everybody away from the water,” Mom said.

We all backed away from it. Mom looked at Raylee, who seemed to understand.

“Pikachu, use Thunderbolt,” she said.

Pikachu did as she was told and used her electricity on the water and electrocuted the lava lizard. It roared in pain, then collapsed.

Fiskerton checked it out, being very cautious. It opened its eyes, which scared him, and he ran up a pole. Scardy gorilla-cat.

I tried my powers again and had Zon fly me close to the lava lizard.

“Wait,” I said. “I felt something there.”

I was so distracted by that that I didn’t realize how close Zon was flying by it until it hit us with its tail and knocked us out of the air. Zon went one way while I went another way, right into a clock store.

I heard a woman’s voice. I looked up and noticed a TV in front of me and it was on, showing a newscast. A woman was speaking in a language I didn’t understand.

The scene moved over to the lava lizard being thrown against a brick wall, and when it showed who’d done it, I almost couldn’t believe it. It was Argost and his sidekick, Munya.

I quickly stood up and ran outside.

“Guys,” I called. “I think Argost is—”

I stopped when I got outside and noticed Munya wrestling with the lava lizard and Argost standing just a few feet away.

He walked over to me and placed his hand on my shoulder. “Smile for the cameras, little Saturday. Let them know what a big fan you are.”

I groaned.

“Zak,” Dad called.

“Get your hands off of him,” I heard my mom said.

Doyle came down from the sky, grabbed me, and flew away.

“Sixteen,” he said.

“That doesn’t count,” I heard Mom say.

Everybody moved behind a building, and Doyle and I joined them.

“Argost wouldn’t risk this unless there’s a connection to Kur,” Dad said. “This creature must be one of the keys to Kur’s tomb.”

“Have you seen anything on our piece of the stone of volcanoes, giant reptile-men?” I asked.

“No. Maybe on the piece Doyle recovered. Whatever it is, we have to shut that creature back in its volcanic hole now. Zak, I want you in a temp suit. This is about to get serious.”

He opened up a case he was carrying and handed me a suit.

“That’s fine,” I said. “But, before we go there, can you get me one minute alone with this thing?”

He nodded. I put on the suit.

We attacked Argost and Munya, but the town’s people didn’t like that and started throwing trash at us.

“Hey, ow,” Doyle complained. “We’re the good guys. Vas Buenos, guys.”

“But, dear boy, I’m a celebrity,” Argost said.

“Yeah, well, so am I,” Raylee said. “But they’ve either never heard of me, or have, but don’t care.”

“Aren’t you like that to celebrities sometimes?” Zack asked.

“Yes. But not just to celebrities.”

I focused on the lava lizard, who was throwing trash all over the place. I grabbed the claw and activated my powers.

“Come on, lizard guy,” I said. “You don’t have to do this.”

It screamed in pain and covered its ears, backing into a lamp post, knocking it down.

“Ah, the smallest Saturday once again shows his so-called . . . power,” Argost said. I had a feeling he was going to say something other than power. “But know this, boy. When I find Kur, its power will crush yours like a field mouse in the paw of a Bengal tiger.”

He lunged at me. I used the claw and slingshot myself onto the roof of a nearby building.

I tried my powers again. This time I kind of got a connection to the lava lizard and I learned why it was really here through its thoughts.

“Whoa, wait,” I said. “It’s not trying to hurt anybody. It’s—”

I felt the building shook. I looked down and saw the lava lizard ramming itself into the building then to the one across the street and back. It kept doing it until both of the buildings crumbled to nothing but rubble.

I slingshot myself off the building just in time. I landed on the ground and my family and friends gathered around me. Argost and Munya, unfortunately (or should I say fortunately?), were under the rubble.

The lava lizard let out a roar, then shed its skin, which is the reason why it was here in the first place.

“So, this is what you do for a living,” Doyle said.

Everyone ignored him.

“We still need to get it back home,” Dad said. “That debris won’t hold Argost for long.”

“I think I can lead it back now that it’s calm,” I said. “But it’s gonna take all my concentration just to keep the connection going.”

“Maybe Doyle could just ride it back.”

“Yeah, Uncle Doyle,” Mom said, which sounded like sarcasm, but I wasn’t sure. “Just like in your story.”

“Ok,” Doyle said.

Sarah went over to the lava lizard and placed her hand on its head gently. “Hey, it’s ok. You’ll be safe home soon.”

The lava lizard licked her check, but its touch didn’t seem to hurt her in any way.

“How come its skin isn’t burning you?” I asked her.

“Fire doesn’t hurt me, thanks to my powers,” she said. “But it will hurt you.”

“Yeah, kind of figured that since it did come out of a volcano after all,” Doyle said.

Sarah glared at me, then at me.

“What?” I asked.

She just rolled her eyes.

Doyle had Dad strip off his suit, which he didn’t like, and he laid it on the lava lizard’s back so that it wouldn’t burn him while we rode it back to its home. I rode in front.

I want to come, Fiskerton said.

“Sorry, Fisk,” I told him. “Only room for two.”

He was sad by that.

Doyle patted the lava lizard’s side. It understand and ran off toward the volcano with us riding on its back. About five minutes later, we reached the top of the volcano.

The lava lizard jumped into it before giving us the chance to get off. But, luckily, Doyle had his jetpack. He grabbed me, we flew up, and went into the airship, hovering above the volcano, where everybody was waiting for us.

Mom and Dad looked frantic.

“We have to find Argost,” Mom said. “The key he’s after isn’t the creature itself, it’s in the creatures nest.”

I looked down at the volcano and saw a figure running toward the mouth of it.

“Mom!” I said.

Everybody noticed the figure too.

We all knew that it was Argost and he was wearing the lava lizard’s shredded skin, then he jumped into the volcano.

“Lava-proof lizard skin,” I said. “Man, I wish I’d thought of that first.”

“What’s the temperature rating on these suits?” Mom asked Dad.

“Well, I’ve tested it to one-thousand-degrees Fahrenheit,” he replied. “But it’ll probably hold to—” His eyes widened. “Wait. You’re not—”

She put her helmet on and jumped out of the airship.

“Mom!”

“Drew! No!”

She was inside the volcano.

We all ran to the control room. Dad pressed a few buttons on the controls to get some kind of connection to Mom.

“Drew. Drew! Can you hear me?” he asked over the intercom.

“I’m fine,” she replied back.

Dad sighed in relief.

“It’s like swimming through a—through a giant milkshake.”

“Drew, look,” Doyle said. “If you’re trying to prove something to me—”

“Well, somebody’s full of himself,” she interrupted.

“Drew, how about I come in there and help you?” Raylee suggested. “Because I’m pretty sure I can move around more easily than you can without overheating.”

“Thanks, Raylee, but I can handle this on my own. I—hold—hold on. Temp increasing. Suit—suit is holding. I—” She faltered.

“Dad?” I asked.

“I’m still getting a reading from the suit,” he said.

“Then she’s alright?” Doyle asked.

“For now.”

I didn’t like that.

“Well, either way, I’m going in there to help her,” Raylee said. She gestured to the extra suits hanging on the wall. “Do you mind if I borrow one?”

“No. Go ahead,” Dad said.

She went over to the rack, grabbed a suit, and put it on.

“Are you sure our powers won’t protect us from being hurt by lava?” Sarah asked.

“Yes,” Raylee said. “Our powers make us one-hundred-percent fireproof. Even in volcanoes.”

“Are you sure?” Zack asked.

“Yes. Believe it or not, this isn’t the first time I’ve been in a volcano.”

“It isn’t?”

“No. And don’t ask, because it’s a long story.”

They didn’t seem too surprised by that.

“See you guys later.”

She ran out toward the open door and jumped out of it.

“Ok,” Sarah said, then turned to the rest of us. “Now what?”

In response to her question, Dr. Cheechoo suddenly appeared on the video screen.

“Doc, we’ve slowed the lava down, but we just don’t have the man power to stop it,” he said.

“Try to hold the line as long as you can, Paul,” Dad said. “I’ll see what I can—”

The airship suddenly shook.

We looked at the outside camera and noticed someone familiar with a grappling hook on our airship, pulling it toward him.

“Munya,” Dad said. “We don’t have time for this.”

“Just take care of the lava,” I told him. “Doyle and I can get this one.”

“What about us?” Sarah asked me.

“You and Zack can help.”

She glared at me. She seems to be doing that to me a lot lately. “Let’s just go.”

The four of us went to go deal with Munya.

When we got outside, we jumped onto the ground next to Munya and I sprayed him with water from the hose I still had attached to my wrist.

“And that was just the first hose,” Doyle said, then sprayed him with his hose.

Ice formed around Munya, but he was able to break out of it. He was mad.

“Should we run?” Zack asked.

I nodded. “Yes.”

We made a run for it and Munya charged at us. Doyle was following from above with his jetpack.

We ran to the edge of a cliff. Munya spit his webs at us. I deflected each one with the claw and Sarah and Zack used their swords. Doyle attacked him, distracting him from us. They kept dodging each other’s hits.

I looked down the cliff behind me, and about halfway down, I noticed my dad and Fiskerton trying to push a gigantic snowball down the rest of the cliff where lava was running through the chasm.

“Dad, what are you trying to do?” I asked him.

“Create an avalanche,” he replied. “One disaster cancels another. Why?”

An avalanche . . .

That gave me an idea.

I turned back to Doyle, who was still fighting Munya. I waved to get his attention. He noticed. I did a gesture down the cliff and he nodded, understanding, and so did Sarah and Zack.

I had to get Munya’s attention, so I tried an insult.

“You know, every spider I know shoots webs out of its butt,” I said, cupping my hands around my mouth to make my voice louder. “What does that say about your face?”

That seemed to work, because he turned on me and lunged.

I sprayed water on the ground in front of him, then Doyle sprayed where I did, which caused the snow to turn to ice. Once Munya stepped on it, he was losing his balance, trying to keep it, sliding over toward us.

We moved out of the way, and once he got near us, Sarah and Zack knocked him off his feet, and he fell over the edge. I turned back to Doyle, but then I felt something hit my back and the next thing I knew, I was being pulled down the cliff.

“Zak!” Sarah called.

I realized that Munya somehow was able to shoot his web at me and was dragging me down with him.

Munya hit the giant snowball that Dad and Fiskerton made, and the impact was enough to cause it to fall down the hill. Fiskerton grabbed the claw, which I was still holding, when I passed him and he pulled me next to him so that I wouldn’t fall with Munya.

Fisk, Dad, and I watched as the snowball hit a huge pile of snow, causing an avalanche, which was enough to cover and stop the lava completely, just like Dad said it would.

“And that takes care of the spider and the fry,” I said. Then I realized that Doyle wasn’t in sight. “Ah, come on. Why wasn’t Doyle around to hear that one?”

We all gathered in town around a few houses.

Mom and Raylee were launched out of the volcano after it erupted again, and Doyle caught them just in time before they could hit the ground and break a leg.

He claimed to win his contest with Mom, but she disagrees.

“We were about to land just fine,” she complained.

“It counts,” Doyle said.

“Nice save, Doyle,” I told him.

“Whoa, wait,” Mom said. “‘Nice save, Doyle?’ I just rescued lava hatchlings and swam a volcano. That counts for nothing?”

“I would be a little offended by that if I really cared about this and was apart of it,” Raylee said. “But I’m not, so carry on.”

“Come on,” Doyle said to me, ignoring Mom. “I’ll tell you how I did it.”

Mom tried to attack him, but Dad, surprisingly, held her back. He said something to her, but we were too far away by now to hear exactly what he said.

“And I saved a deer, young man,” Mom called out to Doyle, who still was ignoring her, and continued to tell us what happened.

“Speaking of that deer,” Sarah said, sounding worried.

She ran to the cabin that she left the deer in to check on it.

————————————————————————————————————

We all were in the cabin that we were in earlier, talking around a table, saying goodbye to Dr. Cheechoo and his team.

“You guys ready to go home?” Mom asked us.

Before any of us could answer, Sarah barged into the room, looking really mad.

“Where’s the baby deer?” she asked, looking accusingly at the animals, half of them cowering under the table. “Well?”

“You can probably guess what happened to it,” Amber said sheepishly, hiding behind Raylee.

“You guys ate it?!”

“We couldn’t help ourselves,” Kimbia said defensively.

Sarah sighed heavily. “I can’t believe you guys did that. That was so mean. Don’t you have any self-control?”

“Sometimes,” they said.

“Well, it’s hard to believe you have any at all,” Sarah said. “I’m going to have to punish you guys for that. Let’s see . . . set your tails on fire? Put you in a tank full of great white sharks? Or, how about I—”

She was interrupted when she heard someone giggling. She turned around and noticed a little girl standing by the door into the next room.

She looked to be about four or five years old, with golden-brown hair like Sarah’s, but a little darker, that barely touched her shoulders. Black eyes like mine, but more sparkling.

She was wearing a pink long-sleeve shirt and pants, the shirt having an “S” in the center of it, with white tennis shoes.

“Oh, you think that’s funny?” Sarah asked the little girl. “I’m being very serious.”

The little girl just giggled again. She had a cute laugh and an irresistible smile.

“Where’s your mommy and daddy, sweetie?” Sarah asked her.

She smiled up at Sarah, showing her perfect teeth, then she smiled at me. The little girl turned around and disappeared into the next room.

“Wait!” Sarah ran after her, but stopped when she was halfway through the door, looking around the room for a moment, then turned back to the rest of us. “She’s gone.”

“Who’s gone?” Zack asked.

Sarah and I looked at him.

“You didn’t see her?” Sarah asked him.

“See who, Sarah?” Raylee asked.

“That little girl. She was standing right here. Then she just . . . disappeared. None of you saw her?”

Everybody shook their heads, except for me.

“I saw her,” I said.

“You did?” Sarah asked, hope in her eyes.

I nodded.

“But, then, how come nobody else did?”

“Maybe you’re hallucinating?” Doyle suggested.

“And Zak, too?” Sarah said. “I don’t think so.”

“Maybe Zak didn’t see what you saw and just said he did so that you wouldn’t look like an idiot,” Zack suggested.

I glared at him.

“Did you, Zak?” Sarah asked me.

I turned toward her. “No! I saw her, just like you did.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, Sarah. I swear I saw her.”

Sarah seemed to be debating whether or not I was telling the truth. “My powers say you aren’t lying. But I want you to prove it.”

“How?” I asked.

“Describe her.”

So I did, and that seemed to satisfy her.

“How come the rest of you guys didn’t see her?” she asked everybody.

“I don’t know, Sarah,” Raylee said. “But you and Zak aren’t lying, so I believe you.”

“So do I,” Zack said.

But my family looked uncertain. I looked at Sarah, she looked at me, and I could tell we were both wondering the same thing:

Who was that little girl?


So, who do you guys think she is, and why are Sarah and Zak the only ones that can see her? I, of course, already know. Can you guess? There will be a lot of hints throughout the rest of the story about who she is. All I'm going to tell you is that she's important.

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