November 13, 2016
Back in the forest at the cabin, Caleb whined about his summer being almost over and having to go back to school. “Bummer,” says Poppy, “but school is where I learned all about animals in biology and zoology classes, I really liked science.”
Poppy had an idea for one more adventure. “See this treasure map? it’s from a place far away. It’s called the Great Barrier Reef and it’s in Australia on the other side of the world. I have always wanted to go there and swim with a great white shark.”
“Sharks eat people,” said Caleb .”No,” said Poppy. “They only eat stupid people. We will be in a shark cage and just feed them through the bars. They can’t get inside unless it is a huge shark but those are rare.”
Caleb wasn’t too sure about it, but he told Poppy to book the tickets and they started packing. “Poppy, don’t forget to get an underwater camera, flashlights and our special knife.”
Check the list,” said Poppy, “our special travel list.”
It took about 18 hours to get to Australia where they were picked up by the crew of the shark boat. The boat was called the “TM47 Sharker” and the captain’s name was Jack, There were two crew, Adam and John, who helped load all the gear. Off they went to the main camp. Camp was close to the Barrier Reef.
The morning of our third day they headed out. The crew was ready and the boat was sound, a full tank of gas and a hold full of food and gear.
“We have a long way to go to get to the best location.” says Captain Jack. “You boys ready?” Everyone gave a cheer. The first day they plowed through the waves, heading out to the reef. The crew was a little nervous as the weather looked to be turning bad. Caleb and Poppy lay down for some sleep after a day of rocking on the boat. That night the storm hit. “Hang on, Caleb!” yelled Poppy. “We are in for a ride!” Some people get sick in a heavy storm, but Caleb felt fine. “This is awesome Poppy!”
Poppy was feeling a little worried as waves broke over the bow. Captain Jack was up all night steering the boat. Caleb slept like peacefully while Poppy helped the crew. Suddenly a giant wave appeared in the horizon. Poppy grabbed Caleb from his bunk and tied a life preserver around him, then put one on himself.
“If we go down just hold on to me,” he said, as he tied a rope from his waist to Caleb’s. Everyone was afraid. “Captain Jack where is the life boat?” “What life boat? said Captain Jack. Poppy turned to look for Adam and John, who were nowhere to be found, they must have gone overboard.
The second wave broke the boat in half. Caleb and Poppy were in the stern… Captain Jack was still on the bow trying to save everyone. The boat capsized and they were nowhere near land. They watched Captain Jack go down with his boat.
“So long mates,” was the last they heard from captain Jack.
Caleb and Poppy were cold. The water flipped the boat again, it sunk very fast. “Tread water Caleb, but do not panic.” The waves splashed over them but they managed to stay together. From nowhere the front of the boat popped from the depths.
“Swim with me Caleb; swim to the boat.” They made it to the floating front of the boat, just out of the waves and managed to climb on to the highest parts. “Hold on Caleb we will make it.”
The next morning the storm had passed. Caleb and Poppy were asleep on the smashed front of the boat.
“Caleb, this is not what I had in mind for our last adventure but we are OK. Keep a lookout while I see what we can salvage”. Poppy tied Caleb to the top rail and stripped off his torn shirt, tied his sneakers together by the laces and dove under. Poppy was gone for a long time Caleb was getting scared.
“Poppy” he yelled, “Come back!” Poppy burst from the water holding his special backpack. Caleb knew what was inside the pack from their other trips. “Hold this Caleb. I am going back for more. We have to save everything we can.”
Again Poppy was gone for almost too long. “Come on Poppy, don’t leave me alone,” said Caleb. Again Poppy came to the surface… this time with a bunch of food, fresh water, and ropes. ‘Hold this, Caleb, I’m going once more.”
Poppy took a huge breath and dove very deep. Caleb could see him going down and down, he could almost see the bottom. As he watched a shadow crossed his vision. It was longer than the boat. “Ummmm, whatever that is I do not like it,” thought Caleb. Poppy was out of sight but the shadow came nearer. A burst of bubbles came up near the boat. Shark? No shark is that big …must be a submarine uh better think quick.
Caleb opened the back pack and grabbed Poppy’s special knife. OK Poppy showed me how –tie the knife to a stick and you have a spear. He got it fixed in place just as the giant shark came to the surface, its fin circling the remains of the boat. Poppy had been gone way too long to survive and the shark must have smelled the cut on his leg. Blood in the water, not good. Sharks are attracted to blood. The shark must have been 20 feet long; It circled the boat.
“Come on Sharkey, come and get it” yelled Caleb. As the shark swam by, Caleb slid down the rope and stabbed him in the gills, because, as Poppy said, it is the most sensitive part, the only way to take a big one. The great white exploded with anger and thrashed against the boat almost throwing Caleb off. The only thing that saved him was the rope Poppy had tied around him and the top rail. Again the shark hit the boat and this time Caleb stuck him good right in the eye. “Take that you monster,” screamed Caleb. Blood was pouring from the shark as he slowly sank to the bottom.
“I am all alone in the middle of the ocean,” said Caleb aloud as he suddenly heard someone say “No you’re not.”
Caleb thought the shark had returned to life and he was talking to him in a dream. He was very exhausted. “Poppy where have you been? I thought the shark ate you!”
“Nope,” said Poppy. “Sharks only eat stupid people. When I dove down I found the scuba tanks, hooked one up got in the sunken shark cage and just waited for you to finish him off.”
“We have a lot of work to do,” Poppy continued. Get that rope and let’s get moving. Start pulling as many boards together as possible and beware there could be more sharks in the area. I am going down to see what else I can find. We’ll need all the stuff we can get to survive.”
Poppy dove down again and started bringing up water, food and supplies. The most important thing he found was the waterproof case with the guns and ammo. Caleb was busy pulling together any wood beams and long boards he could get from the wrecked boat.
“OK boy, were are going to build a raft and get out of this mess. Hand me that rope,” Poppy continued.
It took a whole day to build the raft and both of them were exhausted. The next morning the sun beat down and it was very hot. “Poppy, we need a sail and we can get moving.” “I am on it said Poppy. Little did they know how far they drifted, but Poppy was determined to find a way. He put on the scuba gear and dived to the bottom.
The other part of the boat was nowhere in sight. Poppy explored in circles. There it is, said Poppy as a grey shape appeared to the left of his vision.
That’s not our boat bubbled Poppy in the watery depths. She’s a Spanish galleon from long ago. I have to show Caleb!
Poppy rose to the surface “Caleb you need to see this, I need you to get your gear on and follow me. I’ll set up an anchor so the raft would not float away.”
They dove down to the bottom and there she was in almost pristine shape except for the hole in the bow where she must have hit a rock. “This ship must be hundreds of years old,” thought Poppy “I wonder if she has treasure?”
Caleb dove down and entered the ship. Poppy he bubbled there is more gold than in the chest we found in the center of the forest! Poppy signaled with his thumb to go to the surface to talk.
“What did you see?” asked Poppy. “GOLD--tons of gold Poppy,” said Caleb.
“OK kid here is our plan… We mark the spot with this sword I found. Then I will put the GPS tracking device on the top of the sword. Some Day we may need this treasure.”
Up on the surface Caleb spied land and shouted, “Land ho!”
Poppy sank to the bottom so he could pull the raft to shore. Caleb jumped out to push from the back. Caleb was in the water kicking his feet when Poppy looked up and saw another shark BIGGER than the first one. There was no time to warn Caleb, only enough time to intercept it from eating Caleb.
Poppy let go of the rope and swam to the surface Good thing he had the extra knife. As he rose he slashed the shark across the gills (the good spot) but the shark was so big he turned to eat him. His jaws opened wide and Poppy knew it was the end. Suddenly the Shark swerved and all he saw was Pepe’s knife sticking out of his giant eye and a big smile on Caleb’s face. “Two down, Poppy. I am on on a roll.”
Poppy was saved and Caleb dove down to retrieve the knife.
The island was small and they thought it was deserted. They slept and in the morning Caleb wanted to explore. Slowly Poppy got ready “Caleb “I want coffee!” “Nope,” said Caleb. “How about some coconut milk?” “YECH!” said Poppy .
“I am going hunting.” said Poppy. “I am taking this spear I need meat, hope they have pigs on this stinking island I want bacon and eggs. Start a fire boy I’ll be back soon.”
Poppy went off into the forest as Caleb watched him go he thought about all the things he had learned. Fighting sharks, what it takes to survive and the preparation Poppy planned.
“Caleb,” Poppy yelled. “We have dinner, but I need your help.” Caleb who was always ready to help, jumped up and listened. “Caleb, over here. We have work to do.”
Caleb ran into the jungle where he heard Poppy call. “Where are you?” he called “Right behind you,” Poppy said, as he appeared from nowhere covered in mud.
“Poppy you look invisible.” “Yes,” said Poppy as he dragged the boar to where Caleb stood. “Mud can camouflage you when hunting pigs and the best part is it protects you from the biting bugs and flies. This meat will last a week if we cook it properly. One job done. Now it is your turn…see that tree climb up there and cut some coconuts for our drinks.”
“ Up there? said Caleb “Yup,”said Poppy. “You are younger than me. I will show you how. Tie this rope around your waist and throw it around the tree push your feet up like this then pull. Move your feet up then move the rope up. It is easy if you are your age; not so easy when you are my age.”
Caleb figured it out and was able to get to the top. “Got your knife?” asked Poppy. “Always,” said Caleb. He had been carrying Pepe Lightfoot’s special knife since the shark had tried to eat him. Poppy knew but wanted to be sure. Cut some of the nuts down, try for ten. That will last us a few days. We can always get more. Good job Caleb. We are set for a few days.”
That night they ate well--roast boar and coconut juice, Sleep was welcome as both were exhausted.
Caleb woke first and made a fire. “Sorry Poppy. No coffee here.”
“Yesterday,” said Poppy, “when I was stalking that pig I saw something we need to investigate. A dark spot--always keep scanning--anyway it was over the first hill and I think it was a cave.”
Poppy and Caleb cleaned up after breakfast and gathered some gear. This could be something; we need to be ready. Caleb grabbed Poppy’s special pack and said “let’s go.” Poppy had a bad feeling--someone or something was watching them.
“Caleb, I feel something; do you?” “Yeah kind of feels funny like …I don’t know.” “As with all feelings pay mind to it be prepared for whatever comes.” Off they went to find out what Poppy saw. All the while remembering the feeling of being watched. Poppy held the spear in his hand. Caleb held Pepe’s knife. The dark spot Poppy had seen was actually a cave.
“Caleb, in the pack! “Get the flash light. Be ready.” They entered the cave in total blackness. “Light now. Caleb, Be ready!” Poppy whispered.
Deeper in the cave after many turns they came to a fork in the tunnel. “Which way Poppy?” asked Caleb. “Smell the air in each direction. Lick your finger--feel any wind from either one?”
“Little here.” said Caleb. “Go with that one –it means there may be another way out. Hold boy let’s go deeper. The one with no fresh air.”
For what seemed like hours they walked through the tunnel. Again they came to a fork. “Okay Poppy, now what?” “Feel anything Caleb?” Caleb stopped to think. “Poppy, I want to go left.” “Okay,” said Poppy trust your gut. Within 10 minutes they came to a dead end.
“Now what?” asked Caleb. “Sit and be quiet,” said Poppy so they did. “Shut the light off for a while.”
“It’s too dark.” said Caleb. “Shut the light, Caleb and be still.” There we no sounds at first then a slight dripping sound to the left. “Caleb, shine the light over by my voice.” As he did the cave exploded with light kind of a dark light. “What is that?” whispered Caleb, “Hand me the light.”
Poppy walked to the back of the cave where he found a small opening. “Come boy we are not done,” he said. Poppy got down and wiggled through the hole--”follow me now.” Caleb pointed the flash light forward into the tunnel a weird sparkle surrounded him. “Poppy?”
“Shhhhh.” was all he heard, “just follow me.” They crawled for about twenty feet where the cave opened again.
Sudden hundreds of bats circled above and flew toward both of them. “Light off--down!” screamed Poppy. Caleb fell to the ground and switched off the flash light. The bats settled. “Hand me the light,” said Poppy. He held his hand over part of the bulb and scanned the walls. Everything was black and reflective. Poppy stood up slowly and unsheathed his knife prying a crystal from the wall. He held it close--could not be, never… but it was true, he could only gasp. “Caleb stay down where you are, hand me my pack, I am going to try and break some of these crystals off.”
“We need to leave now,” said Poppy. “What?” asked Caleb. Poppy had filled his pack, it was bulging with the dark stones. Caleb had been digging his hands into the ground “Hold on,” he said “There is something in the ground, feels like a box.”
“Easy boy could be a trap. let me feel.” Poppy dropped down by Caleb. The squeal of the bats was getting louder. They were agitated. It was old whatever it was. They dug till they could pull what then they recognized was a small chest out of the sand.
“That’s it. We need to go. Bats carry rabies and I do not want us to become infected.”
They followed their tracks back, as any good explorer would till they came to the entrance. Once outside they both took huge breaths both from excitement as well and fear. It was getting late and the sun was almost down.
Back at camp they looked at each other. “Make a fire Caleb, please make a fire and boil up some water I am tired very tired. Did I tell you I hate bats?”
“I have been saving something in my pack for just such an occasion.” The small chest was about the size of a cooler and it looked old. Poppy knew it had no treasure inside. It was too light to be packed with gold or silver. Poppy dumped the contents from is pack into a pile between his legs. Then he dug down inside and pulled out a small bag of coffee. “You love coffee Poppy why did you wait so long?”
“Well said Poppy sometimes waiting makes it taste even better. Just the knowledge that it was there was enough.” Poppy sipped his coffee with a smile. “Open up that box Caleb. Let’s see what is inside.”
“Poppy, why did you save those crystals?” “Not crystals.” said Poppy. “Diamond, black diamonds, largest and clearest I have ever seen. There are an awful lot of them in the cave. They’re worth a fortune if we can ever get off this island.”
Hard as he tried it would not open. “Hey Poppy, remember that key we found in great Great, Great-Grandpa Pepe’s box?” “This one?” said Poppy, as he touched the key he wore on a chain around his neck.
Caleb slid the key into the lock and wiggled it back and forth. Sure enough it opened the lock. Inside was a treasure map and another key. “Something is very strange,” said Poppy. “Why in the world would that key fit?” Too tired to think more, they fell asleep.
In the middle of the night Poppy woke up. “Must be a skeleton key. I need to save that key from my Pepe.” Not sure if it was a dream or a message, Poppy fell back to sleep.
In the morning Poppy woke to find Caleb missing. “Where did that boy get off to now?” Half an hour later Caleb showed up with two fish, two coconuts and some plantains he found growing. “Let’s eat Poppy. I am starved.”
“Let me see that map. It’s old but I think I can figure it out. See some funny writing over here in the corner of the map FtBD,S37GtS, E57GtR, SSW67GtE, 37PW,30PNX.”
It was time to start thinking about a rescue. By now people would have started worrying. “We need to be ready to signal if a search plane comes nearby,” said Poppy. I’ll get some wood then we put palm leaves over that open so it will burn fast. These need to be as green as possible so the fire will be as smoky as possible. This is a signal fire.”
Caleb had that funny feeling again so he told Poppy that he felt that someone or something was on the island. Poppy whispered to Caleb “We need to set a trap. I do not like to be tracked or hunted. We need to turn the hunted into hunters.”
They made a plan. Poppy found a bamboo pole about six feet long and hollowed it out. He found some feathers and took a pin and some cotton. With a little wax he attached the pin to the cotton and attached the feathers to make a dart.
“This is a quiet weapon. Let me show you how to use it. Put your mouth over the end and blow hard and fast. Wow! good shot. Not we need to find a neurotoxin. Did you know a puffer fish is a good source? I go to the reef and catch one. We’ll make a batch for our dart gun. It took all day to catch and prepare the neurotoxin it will cause paralysis if I get it just right death if I don’t.” That night Poppy heard something near the camp.
That morning their plan took shape Poppy would be the bait Caleb would climb up a tree with the blow gun and wait. Poppy faked sleeping near the tree. From out of the brush slipped a shadow. Poppy sensed it but kept his eyes closed. I sure hope Caleb did not fall asleep cause this thing is going to eat me. Good thing Caleb was ready and aimed at what was moving towards Poppy. Whoosh went the blow gun. The dart sticking into the back of the large animal. Poppy jumped up and started backing up. It was a large animal dark and hairy covered in filth and smelling like something dead or dying. There was a thud as it hit the ground writhing and howling.
“Caleb, get down here.” Poppy went over to the paralyzed creature. Caleb came closer as Poppy kicked it over on its back. Caleb was gagging from the stink. “Poppy that is worse than you old socks.” They both laughed. “It is a man,” said Caleb. “Not a man said Poppy. “Probably a cannibal.”
“Poppy let’s name him Cannibal Joe,” Caleb said. Poppy got some rope and tied him up. All Cannibal Joe could do was stare at him. He could not even bite as the neurotoxin paralyzed all his muscles. What should we do with him? “Maybe we should eat him,” said Poppy. “He was going to eat us.” “Yech!” said Caleb. “I like boar better.”
They dragged Joe back to camp and tied him to a tree. It was hours before he could even start to move.
Caleb got a little too close and Joe swung his head trying to bit him. “Stay back,” said Poppy. ”That is one dangerous cannibal.” Later Caleb brought him some coconut milk. He poured it down his open mouth. “Do we feed it?” asked Caleb. “Later,” said Poppy.
The next day Poppy approached Joe and tried to talk with him. Joe just growled and spit. Caleb brought more coconut milk and as he was walking away he heard a whispered “Thanks.” “Joe, did you speak?” asked Poppy. Joe closed his eyes but a small smile appeared on his lips.
“Poppy, I think Joe can talk.” “No way,” said Poppy. “He is like an animal.” “I am not sure,” said Caleb. That afternoon Poppy went back to the cave for more of the black diamonds.
Caleb went to get some water for the camp. When he came back Joe was gone Poppy is going to be angry. Caleb felt strong hairy arms around and knew this could be the end. Joe picked him up off the ground and held him up to his smelly face. Caleb puked in his face from the stink and Joe dropped him. “Hold boy,” he heard as Joe wiped the slush from his beard. “I won’t hurt you. Not yet.” Caleb stopped shaking and backed up a few steps. Joe looked Caleb in the eyes and said, “I am not a cannibal but I will make an exception if you try to run. I have been stranded on this island for five years. Actually my name is Joe but I am from New Mexico. I came here to swim with the great white shark and my boat sunk in a storm so I ended up here.”
“You stink Joe; Here is some soap. Go wash off; Scrub really good,” said Caleb. “Can I trust you?” Joe apologized and said, “Yes I promise.” Caleb handed him Pepe’s knife and said, “Cut the beard; you look like an animal.”
Poppy came back to see a man standing with Caleb. As he walked closer he unslung his rifle. “Step away from the boy,” Poppy said. Joe did so quickly. The look in Poppy’s eye kept him backing up. “Caleb who is this?” “Well Poppy, meet Cannibal Joe.”
They ate dinner and exchanged stories. Joe explained how much he missed his family “they must think I am dead by now.” Poppy realized his mistake of jumping to the conclusion he was so dangerous and apologized as well. “Sorry about that kick in the head; we were all scared.” “I know,” said Joe. “Me too.”
The next morning Poppy pulled out the old map. “Does this look familiar-- the creek, this hill?” “Yes,” said Joe. “Other side of the island.” Thanks,” said Poppy.
“Caleb I want to tell you this is a treasure map and could be millions of dollars worth of gold silver and gems. Joe could help us but well we don’t know him very well. Trust is something you earn and well, he seems like a good guy but what do you think?
“Poppy he smiled at me when I gave him that first drink. My gut tells me he can be trusted.” “Okay,” said Poppy. “Tomorrow we all treasure hunt; we cut Joe in for a third.” They shook hands and went off to sleep.
At first light Poppy was up stoking the fire and boiling water from the stream. The smell of coffee woke Joe. Caleb snored under his tree. “Joe, I have to ask a question.” “Go,” said Joe. We have been on this island for four days and believe me, people are starting to get worried. Why were you never rescued?”
“Not sure,” said Joe. “There was one plane about a week after I landed here--Nothing since. I was working on a signal fire but it was raining pretty good. I’m sure they tried.” “How sure?” asked Poppy. “Time for some truth.” “Well,” said Joe. “I kind of ran away. My job was eliminated it was a good job. I did try but no one wanted a 50 year old manager even if I was the best at my job with top sales in the whole company. So after a few months of interviewing with no luck I got to thinking my career was over.”
“Joe, this map could be something big. We found it undisturbed underground by mistake I doubt anyone has ever seen it. I am your man. You lead and let’s find it!”
Caleb finally woke up. Joe and Poppy were on their second cup of precious coffee and they smiled with every sip. “Pack your gear, Caleb,” exclaimed Poppy. “We are moving to the other side of this island. Now you can call me Poppy-Treasure-Hunter. Cannibal Joe is going to help, he is our partner and everyone gets one-third of the bounty.”
It took a few hours to get there but Joe put them right where the stream on the map emptied in to the ocean. We start here we are looking for a rock shaped like the head of a dog Somewhere up this stream we will find it. They searched for hours with no luck “Are you sure Poppy that it looks like a dogs head?”
“Well, it’s my best guess. Let’s take a break and set up camp.” Everyone was silent through dinner thinking of a way to solve the first part of the riddle and that’s just to begin the search for the treasure.
Caleb was the first to rise and went to cut some coconuts. As he climbed the palm tree he kept his eyes and senses open. At the top he looked back at camp. They were camped near the stream as it wound through the jungle. “Dog--dog--dog--I see the dog’s face. It is the stream as it twists there and there and there Poppy, Joe I found the face of the dog!”
From the first spot on the map Poppy had de-coded the trail FtBD,S37GtS, E57GtR, SSW67GtE, 37PW,30PNX
FtBD, Find the big dog.
S37GtS, South 37 degrees Go to S… (I hope we will know what S is when we get there) S could be shore, since we are on an island.
E57GtR, East 57 degrees Go to R….. (R could be river or rocks or rapids or …
SSW67GtE, South South West 67 degrees Go to E… (E has a little twist it could be east but if we get this far likely we will know, the rest is easy. 37PW, 37 paces West. 30PNX 30 paces North, DIG
Poppy handed Caleb the compass from his pack. “Remember how?” asked Poppy. “Yes,” said Caleb. “This way.” They hiked for two hours till they ran out of Island on the beach. Caleb took the second reading East 57 degrees. “This way guys.” For one hour the pushed their way through the jungle. They came to a dead end at the bottom of a steep cliff.
“R for Rocks?” asked Caleb. “Okay,” said Poppy. They continued following the code. “North takes us down this shaft One, two …thirty... Okay, dig guys.”
They dug for hours but found nothing. Frustrated, Poppy called a break everyone sat down. The lantern was getting dim. “Guys we did everything right.” He lay back thinking. As he looked at the ceiling he started laughing “Guys, It did not say in what direction to dig. We assumed it was down, but try the wall.” And so in a few minutes they found the soft spot where the wall had been made to cover up the treasure chamber. Poppy was the first to break through. “Yes Caleb, hand me the light.” The hole was big enough for Poppy head and the flash light. “Boys you will not believe what I just saw. Take a look,” he called. Caleb was next. He came out with a smile. Joe was last but whispered, “holy cow, boys we are rich. Get this wall down and let’s get some of this treasure out.”
The small room was full of golden artifacts, plates, cups, chalices, small statues, jeweled swords and knives, chests filled with coins both silver and gold--a sultan’s fortune. In the center of the room was a larger plain chest that captured Poppy’s eye. It was the only one closed and locked. Poppy took the key from the first chest and slowly turned it in the lock. There was a grinding sound as the key turned and finally as the lock opened. Poppy opened the chest…”Guys you need to see this!”
As a group they started moving the treasure to the beach camp.
What is that sound asked Cannibal Joe. “Plane!” screamed Caleb “Light the fire.” Poppy lit the bonfire and the smoke rose up. The plane tipped its wing to let them know that they saw them. It flew over low and dropped some supplies. Water and food…a little late, but much appreciated. They knew they were safe, the rescue plane had found them.
Back at the cabin Caleb said to Poppy “I know we are rich now; we sold the treasure for 400 million dollars. I want to go to Harvard.” “No problem,” said Poppy. “You can afford it.”