Fueled by adrenaline, Corbyn acted on instinct.
Jump or die.
Corbyn leapt off the side of the track. He felt the breeze of the cars as they passed right behind him. As he hit the ground, he rolled and came to a stop. He only suffered a couple of minor scratches and scrapes. Corbyn looked back up at the rollercoaster track. The envelope was gone.
Maddy pressed herself against the fence. “Are you okay?”
“Yes, but I lost the envelope!” Corbyn stood up and frantically looked around.
“We have it! The cars blew it off of the track and it went over the fence! Let’s get out of here!”
Corbyn quickly climbed underneath the fence. He was astonished nobody was coming after him yet.
Team SoNaR ran until they were safely away from the coaster. They slowed to a walk and discussed what to do next.
“We need to find somewhere safe to read what’s in the envelope,” Maddy said.
Corbyn agreed. “And I need to take care of a few cuts and scratches anyway.”
“And I’m getting hungry,” Aaden added.
“Then let’s go find a place to eat,” Maddy said. “Somewhere with some privacy.”
The team cautiously walked around, looking for a restaurant that didn’t seem busy. They came across a bar and grill that looked promising and found a table near the back. They waited for their waiter to take their drink orders before discussing what had happened.
“Kind of dark in here,” Aaden noticed.
“Perfect,” Corbyn replied. “More private. Maddy, you got a Band-Aid in the backpack?”
“I think so.” She searched for the First-Aid kit. She handed him a Band-Aid and chastised him for what he had done. “Don’t you ever do that again.”
“Like I’m going to climb up a rollercoaster ever again,” Corbyn said. “Ouch!”
Maddy was dabbing an alcohol swab on Corbyn’s left knee. “Sorry.” She met Corbyn’s eyes and smiled.
Corbyn smiled back. “I’m fine. You’re actually a pretty good nurse.”
Aaden wanted to puke.
The waiter came back with the team’s drinks. “Water for the miss…iced tea for you, sir…and diet soda for you. Are you ready to order?”
“I think so,” Maddy replied. “I’ll have the chicken fried steak.”
“Very good.” The waiter turned to Corbyn. “And you, sir?”
“I want the ribs.” He smirked. “If EIS is paying, I’m getting the best.”
“You earned it.” Maddy smiled again.
“And what will you have today, young man?”
Aaden scowled. “I’m not really hungry. I’ll just stick with my soda.”
“Very good. I’ll be back with your food shortly.” The waiter walked to the back to put in the order.
“I thought you said you were hungry.” Maddy looked hard at Aaden while replacing the First-Aid kit in the backpack.
“Not anymore,” Aaden lied. “I’m just…anxious about what’s in the envelope.”
“Then let’s open it up,” Corbyn said. “It better be worth it considering what I just went through to get it.”
Maddy tore the back of the envelope open. She pulled out another piece of paper that was folded into thirds. She unfolded the paper and read it aloud.
“Potential, kinetic, light, and sound:
Find an attraction in the park
Where all four can be found.
Make your way to the back,
Then climb up…but make sure not to fall!
To find the next clue, you must use an illuminating tool
To see the writing on the wall.”
“So we can’t leave the park yet,” Corbyn said. “This is going to be harder than I thought.”
Maddy nodded. “We’ll have to solve this riddle before we leave the restaurant. And it looks like physics is still our focus. We need to find somewhere where kinetic, potential, light, and sound energies are all used somehow.”
Aaden temporarily set aside his jealous feelings. “Are there any rides in the park that use all four?”
Corbyn thought for a moment. “The bumper cars have kinetic energy—”
“Things are moving,” Maddy said.
“The brake lights on the cars light up.”
“You can hear the cars bump into each other.” Maddy considered this for a moment. “But they don’t really have potential energy,” she concluded. “I assume the clue means gravitational potential energy like it did with the rollercoaster. Since the bumper cars never come up off the ground, I don’t think that’s the answer.”
“What about the other ones?” Corbyn offered. “We know the rollercoaster’s out because we were just there.”
“What about the tilt-a-whirl?” Aaden suggested.
Maddy worked through this option. “The tilt-a-whirl uses kinetic energy as the cars move around, potential energy to tilt the cars up so they can rotate back down, and sound when the cars squeal as they start braking.”
“But not really any light,” Aaden added.
“No go,” Corbyn concluded. “If there is light on the ride, it’s only decorative. The ride works just fine without it.”
“Which leaves the Merry-Go-Round,” Maddy said. A smile came to her face. “Kinetic?”
Corbyn nodded. He was thinking along the same wavelength. “The ride and its animals both move.”
“The animals go up and down.”
“There are lights all over the ceiling.”
“Music plays when the ride is going. I think we got—”
Maddy suddenly looked up. Fear spread across her face.
“What’s wrong?” Corbyn asked.
“Nothing,” Maddy replied casually. “I’m just not hungry anymore and want to get going. Come on.”
“But we haven’t even gotten our food yet.”
“Now!” Maddy ordered under her breath.
She shoved the clue inside her pocket and walked to the restaurant’s entrance. Looking confused, Aaden grabbed the backpack and put some money on the table. The twins followed Maddy out right before the waiter showed up with the team’s meals. They saw Maddy walking away at a brisk pace. Corbyn caught up to her and asked what was going on.
“I saw him,” Maddy said. “There was somebody in the restaurant staring straight at me. He was dressed all in black.”
Corbyn stopped following. “Really? You mean Aaden’s gotten to you, too?”
“Do not stop walking!” Maddy looked back to make sure the team was not being followed.
“I can’t believe this,” Corbyn muttered under his breath.
Despite the uncertainty of what was going on, Aaden was unable to suppress a small, vindictive smile.
Team SoNaR headed straight to the Merry-Go-Round.
Maddy looked around. She saw no one out of the ordinary. “Let’s get on the ride and find a chariot to sit in while we talk. We’ll be covered in one.”
Maddy’s tone suggested she was not to be questioned. The teens arrived just as the line was being let in. They entered and found exactly what they were looking for: a chariot that was being pulled by a horse. Its walls were high enough to conceal the three friends during the ride. Just after the team sat down, the ride began moving.
Corbyn turned to Maddy. “All right. What’s going on?”
“Back at the restaurant. I looked up and saw someone on the other side of the dining room staring at us.”
“And? People aren’t even allowed to look at us anymore without being accused?” Corbyn was incredulous. “The restaurant was so dark you could have been seeing anything.”
Maddy wasn’t deterred. “As soon as we made eye contact, he looked away and pretended he hadn’t been looking at me.”
“And it could have also just been a coincidence,” Corbyn responded.
Aaden couldn’t take it anymore. He turned on his twin. “How come you think you always know best? Maybe Maddy did see something! Who knows…maybe even I saw something earlier today! How long is it going to be until you finally take us seriously?”
“He’s right,” Maddy added. “I know the restaurant was dark. But I also know what I saw.”
“What did he look like, then?” The skepticism in Corbyn’s voice did not ebb.
“All I saw was dark hair underneath a black stocking cap and dark clothes,” she replied.
The Merry-Go-Round continued to spin, safely concealing the team in the chariot.
“Uh-huh.” Corbyn crossed his arms and sat back. “So in a dark restaurant, a man with dark clothes was staring at us. Considering it’s so warm out today, you really think somebody would be walking around in that type of clothing?”
“Maybe not,” Maddy said while trying to keep her composure. “But we have to assume that Aaden and I are not making this up. If there is somebody following us, we have to stay alert.”
Corbyn still wasn’t convinced, but he wanted the discussion to end. “Fine. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that we are being followed. What exactly do you want me to do about it?”
“You could start by apologizing.” Maddy crossed her arms and turned to Aaden. “And I’ll do the same. I apologize for not believing you.”
Corbyn knew better than to argue. He turned to his brother and took a deep breath. “I do, too,” he said quickly.
Aaden figured that was the best he was going to get from his brother. He thanked him. “Maybe now we can find a way to keep away from whoever that guy is.”
“Before that,” Maddy said, “we need to figure out how this ride fits our clue. If the Merry-Go-Round is where we need to be, where do we look?”
Corbyn answered. “The clue says we need to make it to the back and then climb up.” He looked at the center of the carousel. “Do either of you see a problem with that?”
Comprehension simultaneously dawned on Maddy and Aaden’s faces.
“The Merry-Go-Round has round in its name for a reason,” Maddy said in a defeated tone.
“Exactly. There really isn’t a front or back on a round carousel, is there?”
“No.” Maddy was frustrated. She was used to figuring puzzles out easily. “So if the carousel isn’t where we need to be, what do we do now?”
The Merry-Go-Round began to slow down.
“Whatever it is we need to do it quick,” Aaden said. “The ride’s about to end.”
Just as the Merry-Go-Round came to a stop, Maddy looked up in frustration. She noticed something that caught her eye. A poster had been stapled to a tree not far away. She looked around for any sign of the mysterious man in black, but saw no one. “Follow me.”
Maddy casually led the twins to the poster. “Read it,” she said with a hint of satisfaction. “Looks like this park has a new show beginning soon.”
Opening Next Week:
Chippewa Park’s Newest Attraction!
Witness Over 25 Pumps Send Water Flying In Ways Unimaginable!
This 60 minute show is accompanied by a spectacular light and music extravaganza!
Fun for the whole family!
At the new Dancing Waters theater, located at the north side of the park.
“You guys thinking what I’m thinking?” Maddy asked.
“Could be,” Aaden said to himself while rereading the sign. “The clue never said anything about having to find a ride. It said attraction.”
“Right,” Maddy said. “Here we have water moving up and down…that’s potential and kinetic energy. Then you add light, put some music to it, and voila.”
Corbyn nodded. “Worth checking out.”
“While keeping an eye out for the guy.” Maddy stared daggers at Corbyn. “Even if you still don’t believe us.”
Corbyn secretly rolled his eyes.
Making their way cautiously across the park, Team SoNaR finally reached the attraction that would open within a week.
“If the building isn’t even open to the public yet, how’re we supposed to get in?” Aaden asked. “And why do we keep being sent to areas that are normally off limits?”
“I was thinking the same thing,” Maddy said. “Maybe the hiding spots are chosen because they’re not within reach of the public. Keeps the clues from being messed with.”
“So how do we get in then?” Aaden asked.
Maddy scanned the building. She saw nothing helpful. “Let’s walk around and see if there’s an opening we can sneak into somewhere.”
Team SoNaR walked a bit until they noticed a door labeled Backstage. Corbyn turned the handle, but the door was firmly locked.
Maddy sighed. “Let’s keep walk—”
“Wait.” Corbyn put his ear to the door. “I think I hear footsteps in there.”
“What if it’s the guy that’s following us?” Aaden asked nervously.
“We’re about to find out. Get behind that tree now.”
The team hid themselves behind a nearby tree just as the door to the building opened. It was obvious from her uniform that the woman exiting was an employee of Chippewa Park. As soon as she turned a corner and walked on, Corbyn ran out and grabbed the door just before it closed.
“Get in quick!” he whispered.
Maddy and Aaden ran through the open doorway. Corbyn quickly looked around to make sure nobody had seen the team enter the building. Unfortunately, he now realized that the claims Aaden and Maddy had made about the team being followed were dead true. His eyes happened upon a man dressed all in black staring straight at him from only twenty yards away. He knew right away this was the same man Aaden and Maddy had tried to convince him about. Worse yet, he also noticed that the man had a crowbar in his right hand.
Corbyn ran into the building and slammed the door. “The man is right outside the building. He’s still after us.”
“Oh sure, now you believe us,” Aaden said sarcastically.
Looking straight into his brother’s eyes, Corbyn said, “Look. I’m sorry I didn’t believe you but now is not the time! He’s right outside that—”
Before Corbyn could finish, the three heard the handle to the door shake violently.
“Let’s go,” Maddy said, fear thick in her voice. “We need to find somewhere to hide. For all we know, that door may be our only way out of this place.”
“Wait,” Aaden said. “The door is locked. He can’t get in.”
“He has a crowbar!” Corbyn replied frantically. “He can break that lock in seconds!”
The reality of the situation hit Team SoNaR hard. Maddy, Corbyn, and Aaden ran through the backstage area in a desperate search for a hiding place.
“Where do we go?” Maddy shouted.
“Anywhere we can hide!” Corbyn stumbled over a crate.
Team SoNaR heard the backstage door open behind them with a bang.
“No,” Maddy groaned.
“Over there!” Aaden directed. “That rope ladder!”
The team sprinted over to the dangling rope ladder. It was hanging off of a catwalk over thirty feet up.
“We need to climb it,” Corbyn ordered.
“I don’t know if I can,” Maddy said as tears filled her eyes. “You know I have a fear of heights.”
“You have to!” Corbyn said sternly. “You want that guy to catch you?”
Corbyn looked up and began his ascent. While he climbed, the ladder swayed back and forth. Maddy’s apprehension doubled and tears flooded her eyes. She told Aaden to go next.
“Go!” Maddy was sobbing heavily.
Hesitating to leave her behind, Aaden began climbing. The ladder swayed even more. By this time, Corbyn was already two-thirds of the way to the top. Maddy could hear the man’s boots stomping backstage.
“You’ve got to do this!” Maddy screamed at herself. She wiped the tears from her eyes and looked up. Corbyn had reached the catwalk. Aaden was halfway up.
Before she talked herself out of it, Maddy began to climb. She kept telling herself not to look down. After making it up the first three rungs, she looked up and noticed that Aaden had nearly reached the catwalk.
“How do they climb so fast?” She was astounded, frustrated, and terrified all at the same time. Because of her nerves and the swaying of the ladder, Maddy found the climb difficult. Every time she stepped up to the next rung, her foot slipped through the ladder. Her ascent was greatly slowed up.
“Hurry up!” Corbyn frantically encouraged Maddy to climb faster. “You’re almost there!”
Sure I am.
As Maddy reached the halfway point, the twins saw something that struck fear in their hearts: the man had spotted them and was running straight for the ladder.
“Hurry up! He saw you!” Corbyn’s heart sunk. Maddy was in grave danger and it was all his fault.
Maddy tried to climb faster, but she kept slipping. The man had reached the ladder. With a sinister smile, he climbed up after her. She was only ten feet below the catwalk.
Corbyn and Aaden did not know what to do. Maddy’s legs simply did not cooperate with her will to make it the top. The man quickly gained on her. Just five feet from the catwalk, Maddy looked up to see Corbyn and Aaden staring down at her in horror. The man had caught up to her. He grabbed her right foot and yanked down.