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Authors: Gary Paulsen

Thunder Valley

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WHERE THERE’S SMOKE …

In a daze, Jeremy put his jacket on and walked down the road to the garage.

He found the garage door shut and locked, so he walked around to the smaller side door. It was standing wide open.

A noise came from the back of the garage, where extra parts were stored.

“Jason, is that you?”

There was no answer.

Jeremy slowly moved through the dark garage. There was a strange orange glow in the back. “Hello?”

A figure in black darted past him, knocking him backward into a tool chest.

Jeremy scrambled to his feet. Something didn’t smell right.

Smoke!

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YEARLING BOOKS
are designed especially to entertain and enlighten young people. Patricia Reilly Giff, consultant to this series, received her bachelor’s degree from Marymount College and a master’s degree in history from St. John’s University. She holds a Professional Diploma in Reading and a Doctorate of Humane Letters from Hofstra University. She was a teacher and reading consultant for many years, and is the author of numerous books for young readers.

Published by
Bantam Doubleday Dell Books for Young Readers
a division of
Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc.
1540 Broadway
New York, New York 10036

Copyright © 1998 by Gary Paulsen

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission of the Publisher, except where permitted by law.

The trademarks Yearling® and Dell® are registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries.

eISBN: 978-0-307-80408-2

Interior illustration by Michael David Biegel

v3.1

Contents

Dear Readers:

Real adventure is many things—it’s danger and daring and sometimes even a struggle for life or death. From competing in the Iditarod dogsled race across Alaska to sailing the Pacific Ocean, I’ve experienced some of this adventure myself. I try to capture this spirit in my stories, and each time I sit down to write, that challenge is a bit of an adventure in itself.

You’re all a part of this adventure as well. Over the years I’ve had the privilege of talking with many of you in schools, and this book is the result of hearing firsthand what you want to read about most—power-packed adventure and excitement.

You asked for it—so hang on tight while we jump into another thrilling story in my World of Adventure.

C
HAPTER
1

Fourteen-year-old Jeremy Parsons waited at the top of Sawtooth Ridge. This was his favorite run and his favorite time of day. The sun had almost gone down and the last of the stragglers had found their way off the slopes and were now sitting by the fire inside his grandfather’s ski lodge, sipping from mugs of hot chocolate.

Jeremy pulled his ski goggles down over his brown eyes and got ready. Inside his head, he heard the voice of the sportscaster:

And now, ladies and gentlemen, we have the
newcomer, Jeremy Parsons, competing in the downhill event against World Cup champion and Olympic gold medalist Jean-Claude Killy. Jeremy’s getting into position … and he’s off!

Jeremy lunged from the edge and plummeted down the slope. The wind whipped powdery snow up against his red cheeks. He swung around a dangerous stand of pine trees and then over a series of bumps. Everything was a blur. All he could think about was the finish line. At the bottom he skidded to a stop, turned, and breathlessly looked back up at the mountain.

Jean-Claude Killy had been a champion skier back in the 1960s. But he was Jeremy’s all-time favorite skier—and the one Jeremy always raced in his imagination.

“Did you beat him this time?”

Jeremy spun around and found himself looking into the face of his mirror image, his twin brother, Jason. Everyone said they looked exactly alike—the same curly blond hair, the same scattering of freckles. But there were some things about them that were definitely not alike. The way Jason loved to play practical jokes, for example.

Jeremy slid past his brother. “As usual, I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“Sure.” Jason folded his arms. “I watched you come off Sawtooth. You were racing against Jean-Claude like you used to when we were kids.”

“So? What if I was?”

Jason’s eyes twinkled with mischief. “Oh, never mind. I just came up here to tell you I finished checking the other trails. Looks like everything’s all right.”

Jeremy felt a twinge of guilt. It had been his turn to check the trails and make sure all the skiers were in. Jason was only supposed to check the lifts. Jeremy ran his hand through his hair sheepishly. “Thanks. I’ll take your turn tomorrow.”

“No problem. Oh, one other thing. Grandma wants both of us to meet her in the lodge lobby when we’re done.”

“In the lodge?” Jeremy raised one eyebrow suspiciously. “Why not at the house?”

Jason shrugged. His brown eyes were wide and his face was the picture of innocence.

Jeremy stepped out of his bindings and
hoisted his skis and poles onto his shoulder. “It must really be important if she wants to talk to both of us.”

“I’m sure it is.” Jason followed his brother down the well-worn path to the Thunder Valley Ski Lodge. Their grandfather had started the lodge more than thirty years earlier. Back then, the lodge was only a one-room log cabin and a rope tow that ran off a gasoline engine to haul the skiers to the top of the trail. It had grown into one of the finest small resorts in the country.

Jeremy and Jason were living at the lodge to help out this ski season. Their grandfather had broken his hip in a skiing accident, and their grandmother had asked the boys’ parents to let them stay for the winter. They would be tutored at the lodge. Since their parents would be traveling in Europe for most of the season anyway, they’d decided to let the boys stay.

Jason jumped up onto the wooden porch of the ski lodge and held the door open for his brother. Jeremy stepped inside, and the people sitting around the fireplace immediately
stopped talking. He shifted uncomfortably and leaned his skis against the wall.

Suddenly the room erupted with clapping and cheers. One of the college students walked over and slapped Jeremy on the back. “Way to go, Champ.”

A pretty girl in a pink ski suit called out, “Can I have your autograph?”

Jeremy gave his brother a questioning look. “What’s all this about? I thought you said Grandma wanted us.”

Jason shrugged again. A little girl with long black hair pulled on Jeremy’s pants leg. “Is it really true that you just raced against a world champion skier and won?”

Jeremy’s face grew warm. He turned to his brother and mouthed the words, “I’m going to kill you.” Then he turned back to the small crowd, smiled, and bowed. “Thank you. Thank you. But no applause is necessary—just throw money.”

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