Authors: Sharon Ledwith
The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis
An imprint of
The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, Copyright © 2012 by Sharon Ledwith
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This e-Book is a work of fiction. While references may be made to actual places or events, the names, characters, incidents, and locations within are from the author’s imagination and are not a resemblance to actual living or dead persons, businesses, or events. Any similarity is coincidental.
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Published by Musa Publishing, May 2012
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Editor: Kathy Teel
Cover Design: Kelly Shorten
Interior Book Design: Coreen Montagna
For Michael. My partner, my pillar, my post.
Amanda Sault silently studied the words she’d just scrawled:
May 1st, 1214—Games and songs and revelry, act as the cloak of devilry. So that an English legend may give to the poor, we must travel to Nottingham to even the score.
She frowned. She was the Scribe. She was supposed to understand what this riddle meant. But she didn’t have a clue. All she knew was that she, her four annoying classmates, and two offbeat adults were standing in what was left of the lost continent of Atlantis and they were supposed to be the Timekeepers, the legendary time travelers handpicked by destiny to keep Earth’s history safe from evil. But no one had told them how they were supposed to do it.
Their problem: no matter what happened—good or bad—they weren’t supposed to mess with the past. Period. Dot. End of story. Amanda felt hot liquid build in her throat. Her thumb traced the words of the arcane riddle. Their first Timekeeper mission. Amanda knew this wasn’t the end of the story.
This was just the beginning.
Annoyed, Amanda Sault looked up from composing her newest poem as a slice of pizza splattered against her cheek.
“Food fight, food fight!” chanted a couple of boys at the front of the Snack Program line.
Hot, gooey sauce ran down her face. She hastily stuffed her journal and pen down the bib of her faded jean overalls, flicked away a piece of pepperoni stuck to her cheek, then turned to face the enemy. Her chocolate brown eyes burned into the grade-six boys who had started the food flying. A second slice hit Amanda on her other cheek. It just wasn’t her day.
The whole school gym went berserk. The two parent volunteers covered their heads and made a run for the side exit door that led outside. The walls echoed with laughter and screams as grade sevens and eights ruled supreme. Pizza collided with cement walls and human targets. The few who did escape had either runny cheese in their hair or splattered sauce all over their clothes. Amanda snatched a slice stuck to the floor and looked for a victim. Her eyes crinkled with delight upon spying Ashley Prigham—the girl who had everything and knew it. Amanda hurled the droopy slice. However, her pitch didn’t cooperate; the pizza missed Ashley and sailed into Jordan Jensen’s face.
Amanda gulped. “Golden Jock” Jensen was probably the most popular and well-liked boy in the entire school. Possibly even in the whole town of White Pines. Amanda’s shoulders slumped.
Figures. I might as well stand in a pool of quicksand
Suddenly, Amanda’s knees buckled as if she were really being sucked into the ground. Treena Mui had hit the floor, and then Amanda, with enough force to knock Amanda down. She looked up at Amanda like a helpless baby seal.
Amanda knitted her brows.
What’s a rich kid like Mui doing at the Snack Program?
“S-S-Sorry, Amanda,” Treena stammered. “All that sauce on the floor, I guess.”
Standing, Amanda waved her hand. “Forget it, Mui.”
Treena grunted to stand, her plump belly jiggling with every move. She started to slip again.
Amanda grabbed Treena’s elbow and pulled her up. White Pines Elementary School’s drama club queen wouldn’t break a leg on her watch. Treena’s dream was to attend the premier of her first movie within ten years’ time. Amanda envisioned some campy teen musical, and then bit her lower lip. At least Mui had a dream. She didn’t have a clue where she’d be next year, much less what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. It was enough to get a passing grade in math.
Treena giggled. “You have cheese and sauce all over your face!” She wiped a finger across Amanda’s cheek and stuck it into her mouth.
“Eww! That’s gross, Treena!”
She made a face. “I’ll say. It needs more garlic.”
Treena said it so seriously that Amanda started to giggle.
“Principal’s coming—run!” a boy yelled from behind them.
Amanda turned around. It was Ravi Sharma—the new kid with the fake hand. Amanda’s eyes widened, and her mind buzzed with the recent rumors circulating in the school’s hallways. Industrial accident—happened at his father’s plastic pail company—chewed off his entire hand—bones crunched, blood spurted everywhere. Now Sharma’s artificial hand was covered in tomato sauce, not blood, but Amanda’s imagination still ran wild.
“Did you two hear me?” Ravi yelled. “Mrs. Greer’s gonna be here any second!”
Amanda shook off her morbid thoughts and looked behind her. The only means of escape was the door leading into the kitchen. Grinning, she glanced back at Treena and Ravi. “Anyone for hide and seek?”
Without waiting for their response, Amanda bolted into the small kitchen the two parent volunteers had deserted. She was immediately followed by the other two food fight fugitives. They yanked open one of the huge cupboard doors, but found only two could fit.
Amanda flashed Ravi a smile and said, “Ladies first.”
“Hey! That’s not—” Ravi didn’t have time to finish because the kitchen door burst open as the cupboard door slammed shut.
“Where is she, Sharma?” Jordan Jensen demanded, still sporting his pizza makeover.
“Where is who?” Ravi asked, whirling around.
Through the crack in the cupboard doors, Amanda watched Sharma’s lips curl to form a high and mighty smile. She bore down on her teeth and felt them grind.
“What’s the matter, Amanda?” Treena whispered. “You look like you’ve got stage fright.”
That was only half the truth. She nudged Treena gently. “Shhhh.”
However it was Ravi—the East Indian with an attitude—who was acting up a storm. He inclined his head. “What makes you think she’s in here, Jensen?”
“’Cause I told him I saw you follow her in here,” a voice answered from behind Jensen.
Amanda let her view slide from Jordan Jensen wearing clothes that screamed, “I play every sport imaginable”—to the runt lurking behind him. Her face puckered like she had downed a dozen sour candies. It was Drake Bailey, their school’s ten-year-old genius. Amanda stared at the two friends, friends who were so different from one another, she couldn’t figure out why they were friends in the first place. Jensen loved sports. Bailey loved books. Jensen wore anything with a team logo on it. Bailey wore oversized clothing plastered with comic book heroes. Jensen was tall, athletic, and blond. Bailey was short, smart, and dark. Amanda thumbed her chin. The boys were on opposite ends of the school-cool spectrum, that was for sure.
Everyone in this kitchen was in her grade-eight classroom, where Mui and Jensen sat at the back of the room, while Sharma and Bailey sat in the front row. Amanda sat somewhere in the middle—not cool enough for the back, not smart enough for the front. Was this fate or just a bad dream?
Her nose suddenly twitched. Uh oh. Between the stuffiness of the cupboard and no fresh air getting in, her allergies were begging for release. Amanda covered her nose.
No, no, not now!
Then she jumped, feeling the sting of a sharp pinch. Nope, this wasn’t a dream. This was a nightmare.
“Oww! What was that for, Mui?” Amanda hissed, rubbing her arm.
“Reality check, girl,” Treena whispered. “Your face looks like a zit about to pop.”
Amanda’s filled her cheeks with air, trying not to laugh.
A high-pitched noise sounding an awful lot like a Taylor Swift song started to blare from the inside of Mui’s purple pants.
Amanda sputtered. “Are you serious?”
Treena grinned, fumbling for her cell phone. “Sure. It could be my agent.”
Both cupboard doors were wrenched open. Staring down at them was the orangey scrunched face of Jordan Jensen. He looked like a deranged cheese doodle. It was too funny. Amanda giggled, and Treena burst into laughter. Jensen’s crystal blue eyes zeroed in on Mui.
“What’s so funny, Porky Foo Yong?”
Amanda clenched her jaw. Treena being Chinese wasn’t the reason Jensen’s cruel remark made her Native American blood boil. He was referring to Treena’s body size. Amanda’s cheeks burned. It was time to take out the trash.
Jordan Jensen never saw the tackle coming. His head kissed the floor. “Umph! Hey! Get off me, Sault!”
Amanda smirked. “What’s the matter, Jensen? Afraid I’ll scalp you?”
Drake Bailey jumped her. His short arms wrapped around her neck. Gasping, she reached up flipped Bailey over her head and body slammed him on top of Jensen’s chest. Suddenly she felt two pairs of hands haul her away from Bailey and Jensen, who still lay flopping over each other. As Mui and Sharma dragged her toward the kitchen door, Amanda got one last kick in.
Jensen and Bailey managed to help each other up. Jensen pointed at Amanda, scowling. “If I was you, Sault, I wouldn’t leave that trailer park you live in anytime soon!”
“I certainly hope that’s not a threat, Mr. Jensen.”
Amanda’s stomach tightened, her mouth went dry.
In unison, all five heads turned to find Mrs. Greer, White Pines Elementary School’s principal, standing in the doorway. With a pinched, militant face, Mrs. Greer pointed toward the double doors.
“The five of you, get in my office! Now!”
Jail would have been better than Grizzly Greer’s office,
Amanda thought as she leaned against the cool blue wall in her chair in the corner. Her nose flared. The sickly combination of sweat, sauce, garlic, and cheese almost made her heave. She covered her nose with her hand and checked the silver clock above Mrs. Greer’s two-toned wooden desk for the third time. The five of them had been in this hellhole for almost two solid hours. No phone calls. No lectures. No threats. Just sitting, doing nothing. In a plastic yellow basket on the far corner of the desk sat four disabled cell phones of various colors and brands.
Jensen muttered something incoherent.
“Is there a problem, Jordan?” Mrs. Greer snapped, standing up behind her desk. She smoothed out her green pantsuit. It was dotted with pizza sauce.
Jensen licked his bottom lip. “Uh, I was wondering how much longer we’d be in here? I’ve got batting practice after school, and my dad will be ticked if I’m late.”
Mrs. Greer smiled that smile at him, the smile a predator flashes just before consuming its prey. Amanda uncovered her nose, sat up, and smirked.
“It will take as long as it takes, Jordan,” the principal replied curtly.
The phone rang and made them all jump. Mrs. Greer’s hand lunged for the receiver with the precision of a striking rattlesnake.
Out of the corner of her eye Amanda saw Bailey nudge Jensen. “Jordan…do you think we’re gonna get suspended for this?” he whispered.
Jensen shrugged, then glared at Amanda. She averted her eyes to the polished beige floor.
Even the sound of that word made her think of the grip Mrs. Greer had on all their throats. Squeezing, squeezing, squeezing, until their eyeballs popped and their heads burst open.
Would she do it? Could she do it? Yes, it was a possibility.
The clicking sound of Mrs. Greer’s ruby red nails made Amanda wince. She hung up the phone, adjusted her tight bleach-blond hairstyle, then cleared her throat. “Snack Program is for those of you who don’t have a snack in your lunch or didn’t have time to eat breakfast. Does everyone understand me so far?”
They all nodded.
“Good. Now that you five understand the concept of the program, I would like you to help me understand something.”
“What’s that, Mrs. G?” Treena asked with the gusto of cheerleader. This startled Amanda, who was seated next to her.
Amanda watched Mrs. Greer’s mouth curl to the side, revealing her white incisor. “Did you have breakfast this morning, Treena?”
Mui furrowed her brows. She nodded meekly.
“Did you bring a snack?” Mrs. Greer pressed.
Treena shoved her hands in the pouch of her thin pink hoody and nodded again.
Mrs. Greer inclined her head. “It is also my understanding that your parents own the Lucky Goldfish Restaurant. Correct?”
Treena squirmed in her chair and nodded a third time. It was like a snake striking a helpless guinea pig. Amanda could almost hear the squeal, feel the fangs sink in.
“Then—” Mrs. Greer leaned closer to Treena “—do you mind explaining to me why you decided to attend Snack Program?”
Treena suddenly sat up. She removed a hand from her hoody to flick a stray ebony tendril out of her face. “Honestly, Mrs. G, a girl needs a well-balanced diet these days. Do you know what happens when you eat Chinese food for breakfast, Chinese food for lunch, and Chinese food for supper?”
Mrs. Greer’s face fell. She stood back and shook her head.
Treena stood and lifted her top to expose her ample belly. “You turn into girly-Buddha.”
Laughter flooded the principal’s office, with the exception of Mrs. Greer, who remained tight-lipped. She started clicking her nails again. “I don’t think you all understand the seriousness of your actions.”
The laughter stopped.
“But, Mrs. Greer, it wasn’t just us throwing food,” Bailey explained, his voice cracking.
“Drake’s right, Mrs. Greer,” Jensen cut in. “We didn’t start the food fight. As a matter of fact, if Amanda Sault hadn’t hit me with a slice, I wouldn’t be sitting here.”
Amanda felt her face heat twenty degrees in temperature. She crossed her arms over her chest and dug her nails into her skin so hard that she swore she heard her flesh scream.
“Blaming others, are we, Mr. Jensen?” Mrs. Greer said. “You had a choice to turn the other cheek and simply leave the gym, didn’t you?”
“You’re in grade eight, captain of the basketball and baseball teams, and president of the student council,” Mrs. Greer cut in. “You above all should know that everyone should be responsible for their actions.”
How Amanda hated that word. She’d bet Jensen did too. It sounded heavy and burdensome—like chains dragging you down. Too bad she couldn’t pull out her journal. She had a few choice words to jot down about being responsible.
Try sobering up your mother in time for a job interview, for starters.
Her nails went deeper, exhuming her thoughts.
Ravi cleared his throat. “Excuse me, Mrs. Greer, but I need to go to the washroom. I’m starting to have phantom pains in my hand.”
Startled, Amanda released her grip, sat back and glanced behind Mui. Seated in the middle, Sharma was rubbing his fake right hand like he was in pain.
Navy sleeves covered his arms like they were guarding something secret. Other than its brown skin tone, she had never really gotten a good look at his prosthesis.
Mrs. Greer moved to stand above Ravi. “All right, Ravi, if you insist you need to leave first, then I guess you’ll be the one who decides all your fates. What will it be? Detention for the remainder of the school year? Playground clean-up? Or how about suspension?”
“Hey, that bites!” Amanda said. “Ravi shouldn’t be made to do that!”
“Excuse me, young lady?” Mrs. Greer whirled around. Her fair brows narrowed, ice blue eyes ready to attack.
Amanda crossed her arms over her orange-splattered overalls, and said, “I agree with Jordan—”
“Oh, that it’s your fault?”
Amanda uncrossed her arms. “No. I agree with him that we didn’t start it, that’s all.”
“Well, then, do you mind telling me
did start it?” Mrs. Greer asked.
There was a universal code among students in all schools. White Pines Elementary School was no exception. Every student took this oath as if their lives depended on it. Never rat on another classmate. It was simple and easy. They all became statues. Amanda just shrugged. She wouldn’t tell. None of them would.
“I see. No one seems to know who threw the first slice. Fine,” Mrs. Greer said. She turned on her high heels and headed for her desk.
The office went quiet, with the exception of Mrs. Greer rifling through a stack of files.
Amanda cleared her throat. “So…I guess we can go back to class now?”
Mrs. Greer looked up. She had that smile on her face again. Amanda prepared herself to be swallowed whole. “Sorry, Amanda, but you’ve left me with no other choice but to—”
“I beg your pardon, Mrs. Greer, but may I make a suggestion?”
Amanda blew out some air in relief and turned toward the doorway to face their rescuer. Her face twisted. It was
—“the Witch of White Pines.”
Mrs. Greer acknowledged her politely. “Yes…Ms. Spencer, is it?”
The dark-haired woman curtly nodded. “As you know, Mrs. Greer, I volunteer at the Snack Program when time permits. In fact, it was I who made all those fresh pizzas for today. It’s really a pity. Nobody had a chance to enjoy my secret homemade tomato sauce.”
Amanda puckered her lips. Poison. The sauce was probably pure poison. Amanda was grateful she never ate a piece. Rumors around White Pines whispered that Ms. Spencer practiced witchcraft. She even looked the part with her long black hair and ghoulish green eyes. A thin white streak ran down the left side of her hair, giving her a ghostly appearance. Her flowing floral skirt and white blouse wrapped around her loosely like an unraveled mummy. She was new to the town—fresh off the boat from England—and moved here because she had inherited the creepy empty house on Center Street. She was way past forty and had never married. Yup, Ms. Spencer was a witch for sure. All that was missing was the black cat and broom.
“So what is your suggestion, Ms. Spencer?” Mrs. Greer asked, fiddling with a pen.
Ms. Spencer smiled. She swept her hand gracefully over Amanda and her four classmates, and said, “I want you to hand them all over to me.”