Searching For Treasure - By L.C. Davenport
Jack, as usual, got right to the point. "We've been had."
Dana studied the rundown, rather unfriendly-looking castle at the end of the drive and stifled a small sigh. This was to be their weekend getaway home-away-from-home for the next few days. The once proud castle estate, which was surrounded by ancient oaks that dominated rambling unkempt grounds, had an angry, accusatory air about it. Almost as if to say, "You did this to me, you and your kind.”
"Maybe the inside isn't as bad as it looks on the outside," she offered.
Jack cut her a skeptical glance. "Right."
Noah had been uncharacteristically silent since she had stopped the car. Dana peeked into the rear view mirror to where her brother sat in the back seat and had to grin. Noah's soon-to-be manly jaw looked to be in danger of becoming totally unhinged and fall from his face.
Dana dug the brochure from her purse and read it out loud. "Treat yourself to a true adventure."
"Translation: watch out for the bats as you find your way through a rotting castle," Jack said.
Her lips twitched as she continued reading. "Experience the lost charm of the old Raven Keep Castle."
"Emphasis on the old. And doesn't 'lost charm' mean it can't be found? Like I said, we've been had."
Noah spoke for the first time since their arrival. "Yeah and if Freddy Krueger pops his head out from around that tree, I'm heading back to town."
Dana glanced again at Noah in her mirror. He was staring moodily at the old castle, which was growing larger in their view with each jarring bounce. Each passenger in the car, as well as the driver, was soaking with sweat as the air conditioner struggled and failed to compete with the heat wave of British summer.
Moss, hanging from low branches, occasionally scraped the top of the car. The interior reeked of the mosquito repellant they had applied to themselves earlier.
Dana decided to blame Jack. It had been his idea, after all, to respond to the call of a haunted treasure-castle, although she was honest enough with herself to admit that it hadn't taken a lot of coaxing to get her to agree. Each of them possessed a thirst for adventure and new experiences, which had been the foundation of a friendship that stretched back to sixth grade.
They'd been best friends since the day Mrs. Corman had paired them up as line-dancing partners. Through the years they had discovered many shared interests, not the least of which was a desire to try the new and unknown. They had tried to instill the same attitude into Noah, but had only met with partial success. They feared Noah was in danger of turning into a fuddy-duddy at age nineteen by concentrating all his energies on his college studies. That concern had prompted this trip.
Days before, Jack had bounded into Dana's house, vibrating with excitement and waving a brochure. "Attention!" he read. "Can you find the treasure hidden inside Raven Keep Castle? Do you dare brave the ghosts that roam the halls? Treat yourself to true adventure. Experience the lost charm of an old castle. Fine dining. Well-appointed rooms. Entertainment. Immerse yourself in a forgotten era. Come to Raven Keep Castle."
"It's a scam," Dana had said.
"No, it's legit. I looked it up on the Internet. There is such a place. It is reputed to be haunted and there is a story about lost treasure associated with the castle. According to the article I read, some Frenchguy bought it and is turning it into a weekend resort, patterned after those mystery weekends that were so popular a while back. Only his gimmick is ghosts and treasure." Jack finally noticed the pile of wood and glue on the dining room table in front of Dana. "What’s that?"
"It's a toothpick sculpture," she replied.
"Okay, but why?"
"I'm exploring my creativity."
"By making a blob out of toothpicks?"
Jinx the cat, sat near Dana's elbow. She was surveying the scattered slithers of wood all around her. With studied nonchalance she batted a toothpick off the edge of the table with her paw. Dana caught it neatly without so much as a glance and attached it to the top of her sculpture at a forty-five degree angle. She cocked her head and studied it.
"If you're waiting for that thing to speak to you, D, I think it's mute."
"Let's get back to the treasure-castle. I think this is just the thing we need to get Noah out of his rut."
"I don't know, Jack, it doesn't really