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Authors: S. A. Bodeen

Lost

BOOK: Lost
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About the Author

Copyright Page

 

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For Aunt Connie and Uncle Bud

 

1

Sarah Robinson sat in the soft sand, hugging her knees and watching the sun creep farther toward sunset. The waves of the lagoon were so calm, the absolute opposite of her pounding heart and trembling hands. She took a deep breath and tried to relax. Everyone else was gathered at the camp under the monkey pod trees, but she needed a quiet moment away from their commotion, not to mention the unspoken fear.

Less than three days had passed since an unexpected and sudden typhoon had killed their skipper and wrecked the HMS
Moonflight,
marooning Sarah and the others. She figured it would have been much worse to be alone. At least she had her dad, John Robinson, a widower since her mother died when Sarah was six, and Ahab, the skipper's now-orphaned Newfoundland. She wasn't that thrilled about their other companions: Yvonna Murillo, her stepmother of barely a month, and her new stepbrothers, Marco—twelve, like her—and ten-year-old Nacho.

She sighed. Honestly, who she was with didn't matter all that much. Because this brief time on the island—the sun would soon set on their second day—had been more than enough to make it abundantly clear that there was something terrifyingly wrong with the place.

Creepy. Weird. Sinister.

There were so many other words running through her mind that would totally apply, given the things that had happened so far.

The first day, Sarah had gone for a walk with Ahab. She hadn't believed it at the time—had even wondered if her lack of sleep and the hot sun had conspired to play tricks on her—but a kangaroo with lion's claws had bounded down the beach in front of her. Certain that no one would believe her, she hadn't told anyone. But then her dad and Marco went foraging for water.

When they returned, her new stepbrother confided in Sarah, telling her that he and her dad found a small abandoned house in the forest. Inside the house, Marco saw a strange red bird that didn't seem to exist anywhere in the bird book from the boat. Marco's admission made her wonder whether her kangaroo could actually be real.

Around dinnertime that first day, an awful wail echoed around the island and went right inside Sarah's head, vibrating throughout her bones. The sound rattled everyone, and she'd been relieved when it finally stopped. As if that wasn't bad enough, after they'd gone to bed, circled up around the fire, an invasion of enormous coconut crabs forced them to scale the monkey pod trees where Sarah spent the rest of the night. Alone.

As today dawned, they made plans to avoid another night with the coconut crabs, deciding to sleep in a cave that Sarah's father had found. After lunch, they were in the midst of packing for that move when the sky had dripped red, and a bizarre orb appeared, chasing them into the cave.

As they huddled inside, Sarah added up everything and knew that something was wrong. She tried to get Marco to tell the adults about the red bird, and the other weird things he'd seen. But he refused, saying they weren't real, that he'd just made them up.

She was so mad at him for making her look stupid in front of everyone. Later, Marco tried to make Sarah understand that he had lied to the adults in order to keep his mother and brother from getting even more stressed out. But she was still not over it.

When they emerged from the cave, Sarah was relieved to find the orb gone from the sky. But then came a scream. They hurried down to their camp, and on the beach found an unconscious girl.

And that wasn't all. Next to her was a scrawled half-finished message in the sand.

Again, at the same time as the previous day, the sinister wail started up.

Remembering the moment sent a chill up Sarah's back. She turned her head to gaze at the spot on the beach where they'd found the girl. She got to her feet, and then trudged over to the words.

BEWARE THE C

What did that mean? At first she had thought that the
C
was the start of the word
crabs,
because of the terrifying coconut crabs.

But what if it wasn't? What if there was something else on the island they had to be afraid of?

Sarah shivered, and not because she was cold.

A wave licked at the bottom edges of the letters. Another followed, slurping away more, then another and another, until the tide had swallowed the remains of the words.

The next wave covered Sarah's feet, and she stepped out of the cooling water, backing up the beach until she hit the deep, soft sand. Ahab nudged his wet nose into her hand. She picked up her flip-flops, then turned and let him lead her toward the fire and the others.

Around the fire, Marco sat cross-legged next to Nacho. The girl they'd found on the beach lay between their mother and Sarah's dad, on some of the makeshift bedding.

Ahab went right to the girl and licked her face before anyone could stop him. The girl's pale green eyes popped open. Warily, they focused on the big black dog as she sat up. The girl tried to scramble backward, but Yvonna reached out a hand and spoke softly. “You're safe here. We found you on the beach.”

The girl's head swung toward the ocean. Patches of wet sand stuck to parts of her thick, long ebony braids, and her eyes darted around.

Sarah handed the girl a bottle of water.

The girl seemed to relax, just a bit. She started to speak, then stopped and took a drink first. Her voice was hoarse. “Who are y'all?”

John glanced around, as if waiting for someone else to answer. Finally, he said, “Well, I'm John and this is my daughter, Sarah.” He nodded at Sarah, and then Yvonna. “This is my wife, Yvonna. And her sons, Marco and Nacho.” He gestured to them as he said their names.

“And this is Ahab,” said Sarah. She wondered what the girl was thinking as she gazed at each of them in turn. Latina Yvonna and her boys, and then Sarah, obviously half Asian, and lastly her dad, with his blond hair and blue eyes. Not your average family unit. Not to mention, they all looked worse for wear, positively haggard.

Everyone had scratches on their legs and arms from the earlier race through the trees to the cave when that bloody red orb had appeared in the sky. Strands of Yvonna's dark hair had straggled out of her ponytail and the bottom of her pink flowered sundress was torn.

Other than a stain on one sleeve, Marco's red Texans shirt seemed clean enough, but one leg of his board shorts had a ragged hem where it had caught on something. Even Nacho—who seemed to value cleanliness above all else and carted a bottle of hand sanitizer everywhere—was dirty. His purple Eco-Scouts shirt sported several dark spots, and a pocket of his khaki shorts was torn. Both of the boys had bare, filthy feet. Not unlike her own.

Even her dad look disheveled. His polo shirt—usually perfectly pressed—was full of wrinkles from being slept in, with a dark smudge on the left side near his ribs. Sarah glanced down at her own tank and shorts. Other than a small rip in her shorts mid-thigh, her clothes seemed okay. She patted her hair and realized her braids had completely come out, so she removed the elastic bands. She dropped to her knees in the sand and Ahab plopped down beside her with a contented huff.

Her father continued. “Yvonna and I recently married and we are actually on our honeymoon—family style, you could say. We rented a sailboat. But then a storm hit and marooned us here.”

“How long ago?” asked the girl.

Yvonna answered, “We woke up here yesterday morning.”

Sarah tried to comb through her long hair with her fingers. When no one said anything, she added, “We're from California.”

Nacho asked the girl, “What's your name?”

Marco elbowed him. “Leave her alone.”

Nacho pushed him and Yvonna cleared her throat as she glared at the two of them.

The corners of the girl's mouth went up a tiny bit. “It's okay. My name is Cashmere Broussard. But everyone calls me Cash. I'm from Louisiana.”

“I love your accent,” said Sarah. She gave up on detangling her hair and stuck it in a sloppy ponytail.

Sarah's dad said, “Cash, we probably should hear how you came to be here, but right now we are running out of daylight.”

Yvonna's forehead wrinkled. “Should we head back to the cave?”

Cash stiffened. “What cave?”

“It's a small one, near here.” Yvonna set a hand on her arm. “It's safer at night.”

Cash's shoulders relaxed. “Okay. I thought y'all meant…”

“What?” asked Sarah.

Cash shook her head. “Never mind.”

Sarah's dad stood up and then helped Cash, still shaken, to her feet. “Do you need me to carry you?”

She shook her head. “I can walk.” Cash brushed some of the sand off her feet.

Sarah noticed a few cuts. “Do you need some shoes?”

Cash asked, “Do you have some?”

Sarah nodded. “Hold on.” She jogged over to her suitcase under the monkey pod trees and pulled out a pair of pink flip-flops. She carried them back to the group.

Cash slipped her feet into them. The toes hung over the end just a little. “Thanks. I've been running around barefoot ever since I got here.”

Sarah wanted to ask how she ended up on the island, not to mention the warning in the sand, but decided she better wait until they were safe in the cave for the night.

John asked, “Ready?” He stayed beside Cash as they formed a line and headed into the trees.

Sarah walked with Marco at the back of the group, Ahab close behind. She whispered, “Maybe now that she's talking, she can tell us about the message on the beach.”

Marco didn't answer right away, which was enough of a pause for Sarah to brace herself for some kind of snarky retort. Ever since Marco had refused to tell the grown-ups about the bizarre red bird, she wasn't sure what to think, whether she could trust him. But when he told her that he was just trying to protect his mom and little brother, she kind of understood. And though she hoped they were past being nasty to each other, given all that had happened, she still half expected Marco to be something other than kind.

BOOK: Lost
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