Bumps in the Road
"We're getting nowhere," Dipper said flatly, chucking an old history book across the scratched wooden table.
"We can't give up yet! We've been through-" Mabel paused and quickly counted the books that were stacked in front of them. "Thirty-five books! And there's hundreds left!"
"Exactly!" Dipper exclaimed. "We've been here for, what; two hours and we haven't even made a dent."
"Where can we look?" Mabel questioned.
"That's the problem." Dipper rubbed his forehead in frustration. "I don't know where else we could look. The library would make a good hiding spot, but the problem is we don't have the time to flip through ever book."
"Take a break, bro," Mabel urged. "I'll go take a crack at the cookbooks. Hardly anyone takes out those things!"
Dipper watched his sister skip off before removing Three. "Come on," he muttered, flipping through the pages once more. "Give me something, anything."
He paid attention to every word with the hope that there would be a hint somewhere between the lines. But all he was given were facts on a variety of creatures and nothing was abstract enough that caused it to seem out of place. Dipper groaned and stared at the spot where the last page would have been. "Where are you?" he questioned with a sigh.
Then he spotted it-a small tear in the corner of the inside back cover. Normally, Dipper would have missed it. But since he was paying extra close attention, the tear stood out to him. "It's probably nothing," the boy muttered to himself even as the bubble of hope rose in his chest. He carefully dug his nail beneath the tear and peeled back.
The entire paper covering came neatly off, revealing golden words etched into the hard protective cover. Dipper's heart pounded as his eyes greedily ate up the words...
Sometimes, although not always, the journeys you take will lead you right back to the beginning.
"Thank you," Dipper breathed. He quickly replaced the paper covering and jumped to his feet. He glanced quickly at the old grandfather clock and hurried over to his sister, who was knee-deep in cookbooks.
"Look, Dip!" Mabel thrust one in his face. "This teaches you how to make bacon into animals!"
"That's nice," Dipper said distractedly. "Come on, Mabel. It's almost dinnertime."
"But I wanna take this out!" Mabel protested.
Dipper sighed in exasperation. "Well, hurry up! We need to get back and I have something important to tell you."
Mabel grinned and raced over to the circulation desk. Dipper leaned against a book shelf and dwelled over the clue the author had given. "The journeys you take will lead you right back to the beginning," he recited. "Hmm..."
"Got it!" Mabel raced back, shoving her library card into her skirt pocket. "I'll race you home!"
Dipper could not help but grin. "Deal. Loser does the dinner dishes."
"Then prepare to have prune hands!" Mabel shouted and the siblings took off, the rather excited gaze of a hidden platypus watching them.
"So, Dipper, what did you want to tell me?" Mabel asked with a smug smile, leaning against a kitchen chair as she watched her brother do the dishes.
Dipper scowled and glared at her, his hands deep in the lukewarm water. "I don't that gloating tone in your voice."
"Are you gonna tell me or not?"
Dipper craned his neck to make sure his great-uncle was still plopped in front of the television. "There was this secret clue hidden in the back cover of 3."
"That's a sly move," Mabel said, impressed. "How'd you find it?"
"Actually, I probably would have missed it if I wasn't paying such close attention," Dipper admitted. "The clue was sometimes, although not always, the journeys you take will lead you right back to the beginning."
Mabel hummed in thought. "We've been on a lot of journeys. But this author wouldn't know of any of them."
"That's right," Dipper said, slightly taken aback by the quick observation. "So whatever this guy-or girl-is talking about, it has to be a journey that they knew would happen."
The two fell into a contemplative silence. "Maybe we need to find out who the author is," Mabel suddenly suggested. "And the beginning of one of their journeys is where we'll find the last page."
"Maybe..." Dipper said slowly. "Mabel, do you ever have those moments where you know you know the answer, but it's not coming to you?"
"All the time," Mabel confirmed. "It'll hit you soon bro. Try hanging upside down-that always helps me."
Dipper scrubbed the dinner plates with a cloth, thinking hard. The journey would have to be a common one. After all, it could have been any person besides him to stumble upon the book. And every person went on different journeys through their life. But what was one journey that the author knew the finder of the book would partake in?
"Of course!" Dipper exclaimed, startling Mabel. "The journey the author is talking about is finding the book itself! When the author hid it, he or she knew someone would find it sooner or later, thus starting a journey!"
"Wow, you didn't even have to hang upside down to figure that one out!" Mabel exclaimed.
'I know this is the answer,' Dipper thought firmly. 'Tomorrow morning, I'll bring Mabel to the spot where I found the book-oh, shoot.'
Dipper allowed his head to hit the silver water tap in agony. He had come across the hiding spot of Three completely by accident the first time. He had no idea where the hollow tree was located.
"What's the matter?" Mabel questioned, sensing her brother's despair.
"You better put on your hiking boots tomorrow, Mabel," Dipper muttered. "Because this time, instead of searching through books, we're gonna be searching for a hollow tree instead."
"That's doable." Mabel smiled.
'The forest surrounding Gravity Falls is made up of thousands of trees. Oh yeah, it's totally doable,' Dipper thought bitterly.
It was going to be a long next few days.
The sky had turned a pleasant orangey-red by the time Candace woke up, disoriented and confused. The girl rubbed her pounding head and tried to recall what had happened, but all that came up was a large black spot. "I guess I took a nap," she muttered. "Ugh...my stomach is killing me. Maybe I ate some bad sausage or something."
It was then she noticed just how late it was. "Wow. That was some power nap," she mused before getting slowly to her feet.
The redhead turned to see her brothers a few yards away, waving to her. "Hey, Candace!" Phineas greeted. "It's dinnertime. Mom got a little worried when you didn't show up so we volunteered to help look for you!"
"Uh, thanks," Candace said as they walked down the trodden path leading towards the cabins. "What's for supper?"
"Father fried up some steak. But I'm afraid if we don't hurry Buford will inhale it all." Ferb joked.
Candace smiled slightly. "Well, he can have my portion. I'm not feeling so hot."
"Are you sick?" Phineas asked in concern.
"Let's just say if I eat something I'm not confident it'll stay where it's supposed to," Candace drawled.
"That's kinda gross." Phineas grinned.
"You're telling me," Candace snorted.
They came upon the cabins and Linda immediately stood up from her seat on a fallen log. Before she could scold Candace for her lateness, the girl quickly gave her reason. "Sorry I'm late, Mom. I fell asleep on the beach and I just woke up."
Linda's face softened. "Well, sometimes these things can't be helped. Did you not sleep last night?"
"I slept fine. In fact, I think I might sleep some more. My head is pounding."
"Are you sure you don't want something to eat?" Linda asked.
"I don't think my stomach would like me very much if I did," Candace said.
Linda frowned worriedly. "Hon, if you're sick, we can head back-"
"No, no!" Candace said hurriedly, not wanting her mother to force them all back home before their trip was due to be over. "I'm sure it's just a little flu bug. It'll be gone soon. I think all I need is some sleep."
"If you're sure," Linda said hesitantly. "Don't be afraid to wake us if you get worse."
"Sure thing, Mom." Candace waved and entered her cabin, ready to change into her pajamas and drop off to dreamland.
"Hey," Phineas said suddenly, glancing around. "Has anyone seen Perry?"
"Right there." Baljeet pointed. The monotreme was curled up near the fire, sleeping soundly.
"Oh. There you are, Perry!" Phineas grinned and gathered the platypus into his lap. "I guess you and Candace didn't get as much sleep as you would have liked last night."
Perry chattered. He had gotten plenty of sleep the night before. But considering that he was about to embark on a late-night mission to a kid's house to steal an old, mystical book, then he definitely needed his rest.