The Shasta Caper
by John Pirillo
The next morning. They weren't sure if it was morning or not, because the sky was always bright, lit by an invisible sun that always kept the land the same temperature, night or day. It was a kind of paradise weather wise, even if some of its inhabitants were a bit strange or violent.
Jimbo was relieving himself, when he exclaimed loudly, causing everyone to come running. He hurriedly zipped up, then pointed to a scroll behind a rock nearby.
Samuel whipped it up and Nanny almost collided with him, trying to read it over his shoulders.
"What's it say?"
"I don't know." Samuel said, as he unwrapped the scroll. It looked quite old. It had been carefully wrapped in an airtight, oiled leather container, which had lettering of its own on it. It was about ten inches long and six thick.
"Let me." Nanny said, taking the script. "It's French."
"Verne." Jimbo said, coming over to look for himself.
"Yes. It says so here." Nanny said, pointing to a scroll at the beginning of it. "I've seen his handwriting before. It's definitely his."
"What's it say? Jimbo asked.
Samuel stepped back to let the two of them hover over it, while he searched the gigantic trees for any signs of flying ships or hidden visitors. He had this strange feeling they were being watched again.
"To all my friends of the above world, welcome to Atlantia, a name I have chosen to describe this paradise."
"Atlantia?" Jimbo asked.
"Atlantis." Nanny explained.
"Wasn't that a continent?"
"Yeah. But I'm sure this is just a euphemism." She explained.
"A nice way of saying the place is a lost land."
"Okay. I get that."
He looked over at Samuel to see if he was watching, then noticed his attention on the trees to their left. He looked that way, but said nothing as Nanny read on.
"This is our second month in this world beneath the world. Little did I know when I was doing my research for my latest novel, that I would actually stumble onto an entrance to that very same place. "
"Interesting." She said, quickly reading ahead. "We started off on the Parisian Flower, a small merchant ship from Vesailles. Then sailed to the land beyond the Americas. A strange and bitterly cold place. We lost half our crew there to the cold and the beasts that wandered its barren wastes."
"The Antartic." Nanny explained.
"I never knew he was an explorer." Jimbo commented. "He never seemed of that type of fellow. Great imagination though. I used to read the Classic Comic Books that graphically told his stories."
He gave her the evil eye. "What you think I can't read?"
"No, silly. I just didn't think you liked comic books!"
"I don't like comic books, I read the classics."
"Which were comic books."
"I give up." He said and wandered over to Samuel. "That chick really crawls up and down my spine sometimes."
"Yeah. And a few other places as well I bet."
Jimbo gave him a blank stare a moment, then grinned. "That obvious, hey?"
Samuel shoved his mop of hair back from his forehead and peered upwards. "No sign of that ship that flew past last night."
"Woke you up too?"
"Damn right it did!"
"So we're not out of the frying pan yet, are we?"
"No, we're not." Nanny answered instead, as she joined them. She showed them a map at the base of the document. "This is where we need to go next."
"How auspicous of him." Jimbo said, his voice dripping thick sarcasm.
"What's got your undies in a dive?" Nanny asked.
"Nothing. Forget it. Okay, so we go there. But where is there?"
Samuel's eyes wandered to where Al was pointing.
"I think that direction, towards the mountains we saw."
Jimbo groaned. "Not more mountains."
"Look at the bright side of it, sweetie." Nanny teased. "You'll never have to worry about getting fat."
"Yeah. That's a winner." Jimbo drawled, then went back to their camp and began taking down the tent and folding its pieces to put into his back pack.
"What's eating him?" Nanny asked.
Samuel shrugged. "I think he misses his family."
Samuel looked at her. "Don't you ever miss yours?"
"I don't have one. Remember? Missing Mom and all that stuff."
"I don't believe you." Samuel said sharply. "You're holding back on something."
Nanny gave him a nasty look. "Not nice to pry into a girl's lovelife."
"Too much information." Samuel said and joined Jimbo.
They finished the packing, then with Nanny leading the way, they began hiking further North. As they did the trees began to thin somewhat and they crossed numerous streams of rushing water, complete with a strange breed of fish, that resembled gigantic goldfish. The fish had no fear of the strangers and when they stooped to refill canteens, wash their faces and drink, the fishes would come to the surface, bob their heads out and watch them like little puppies eager to play.
Jimbo took out a small nerf ball he kept as a good luck charm and tossed it. The fish didn't scatter away from it, but shot after it. They began nosing the ball, shoving it one way, then the other like small kindergardners playing in a school yard.
One of the fish shot back and flipped its tail eagerly, watching Jimbo's face.
"I think it wants to play." Samuel said a smile lighting his face.
"Intelligent fish." Jimbo drawled. "Guess I won't eat this one."
The tiny fish made a frightened sound, like a tiny girl screaming, then shot off. The others followed it away, leaving the nerf ball bobbing next to the shore. Jimbo retrieved it, squeezed it dry, then shoved it back into his pocket. "Guess they don't like being the subject of dinner."
"Would you?" Nanny asked, a smirk on her face.
He shook his head, not at her answer, but at the way she had said it. She was definitely beginning to get on his nerves. Any romantic aspirations he had felt earlier were melting like snow in the morning sun.
"So now what?" He asked.
"We keep walking." Nanny said, pointing to the North. "That way."
They continued, with the forests continuing to thin and more meadow land appearing, complete with patches of blooming flowers, none of them common to the upper earth, but all beautiful and unique. Some were shaped like bows with tiny tongues of scarlett that emitted musical notes when touched.
"That's beautiful." Nanny cried out as he started to pick one.
Samuel stopped her. "I wouldn't it."
She gave him a glare, then jumped back when an insect lighted on the bow and the flower suddenly slammed shut on it.
"Oh." She said.
It took the enthusiasm out of her flower picking, but not her enjoyment of the beautiful view they shared as they continued to hike along paths made by unknown creatures and fallen leaves, most of which were large enough to build a house with.
"What a strange land." She sighed.
Jimbo nodded. "Part of it wants to kill you."
"Part wants to eat you." Samuel added.
"And God only knows what the rest really wants to do." Nanny added, pondering the map in her hand again. She stabbed a pinkie into a spot. "It looks like some kind of fortress or something."
"Fortress? Down here?" Jimbo asked.
She glared at him. "Do I look like a mind reader to you, big guy? And even if I was, I can't read a dead man's mind!" She said with finality. Then looked over at Samuel.
"Well, you might be able to."
Samuel looked over at her and smiled, but made no comment. Al was speaking to him.
"It's not a fortress, Sam."
"Then what is it?" Samuel asked.
"Retreat from what?"
Al didn't answer. Marilyn appeared and glided over. She blew a kiss to Samuel. He smiled at her.
"Good afternoon, Sunshine." He greeted.
"You too, tall, not so dark and handsome." She replied with deep, breathy tones.
"I don't suppose you can tell me what kind of retreat it is?"
Marilyn burst into laughter and popped out of view.
Al spread his arms wide, then vanished as well.
Jimbo noticed the expression on Samuel's face. "Not good?"
"I always hate it when they tell me something, but hold back something else."
"Not good then, huh?"
Samuel didn't answer.
The blogged novel "Shasta Caper,"is the second of two novels I've written about Samuel Light. The first novel, "The Angel Files," is available now at Amazon now for $2.99.
Sam is a detective who specializes in helping people with supernatural, occult, or spiritual problems.
Sam is given the toughest case of his life: discover the identity of a mystery girl that both he and his partner have fallen for, who the mysterious military organization that is after them is, and what in the heck is a hundred foot tall angel doing in the middle of Area Fifty One.