Sunny and Ted Plan an Excellent Museum Heist (Chapter Six)
Updated: Jan 15
This is the sixth chapter of an ongoing collaborative novel project. Click here to start with
chapter one, or here to see all the chapters.
It’s the shouting that draws me to his office door. I’ve never heard my dad’s voice reach that tenor.
My mom’s? Sure. I mean, at least once a day for most of my life. But my dad’s? Eesh.
Captain Doug must have told them about my plan.
No . . . He wouldn’t. Would he? No . . .
The shouting increases behind Doug’s closed door. Something clangs and clatters as if it’s been knocked to the floor—or thrown.
I mean, I think we can break the curse. And Ted thinks so. And Manny’s on board. I snort. On board. Okay, maybe now’s not the time for nautical puns, but my parents are going to have a super hard time understanding that I’m a ghost, let alone—
The door to Doug’s office bursts open and Mom and Dad storm out. Any tears they may have shed within have been replaced with red-faced indignation and wild-eyed incredulity. Jacinta follows in their wake, sputtering apologies and holding out their thick, puffy winter coats, which Dad turns to snatch from her reaching arms just before they arrive at the front door.
They pass within inches of me without noticing. Not that . . . not that they should have. Now.
I clench my teeth and lift my chin as Mom whimpers something that sounds like, “We didn’t even get to see her body,” and then Dad slams the door in Jacinta’s face with a final, “Mad people, all of you!”
Jacinta takes a deep breath, holds it, lets it out. She releases a long stream of Spanish words I don’t think I could catch even if I hadn’t failed my Spanish class. Then she turns and walks slowly back into Doug’s office.
“Ooh, she’s real mad,” Manny says, at my elbow. “I wouldn’t want to be Doug right now.” He turns and floats away.
“Where are you going?” I say.
“Too much drama!” Manny waves his hands. “Let me know when we’re ready to leave. I’ll be in my trees.”
If I had weight to my feet, they would definitely be heavy. As it is, I float with a certain plod to Doug’s office and peek around the doorjamb.
Jacinta is pacing in front of Doug’s fire and staring into it as though she wishes she could reach inside and yank out the logs—to hit Doug over the head with them? She looks angry enough to do so. I shrink against the wall until I accidentally start sinking into it, and Ted—lounging in the corner—guffaws a laugh. Doug shoots both of us warning looks.
“I can’t believe you said that to them. I can’t believe you . . . What if they sue us? You ripped up the paperwork! You burned it! What are we going to do now?”
“I meant what I said.” Doug is rummaging in the bottom drawer of his desk.
“What? That you think—No, I’m sorry. Not you. One of the ghosts. Sunny, right? That Sunflower Smith-Jones thinks we can break this curse?” Jacinta lets loose with several Spanish curse words I definitely remember from Spanish class.
Ted guffaws again.
Doug emerges from his desk, a brochure clutched in his hand. “Yes.”
“You are out of your mind.” Jacinta throws her hands in the air. “I have a house full of teenagers expecting a summer at sea—for experience on their high school resumes, for—for college credit, some of them. The only reason the rest of the parents haven’t come to collect the others is because they still believe this program will be invaluable for their children’s futures. We can’t . . . we can’t sail off on some wild adventure to break some curse.”
“How can we not try, if there’s even a chance?” Doug says. He rolls up the brochure in his hand, unrolls it.
“Why now?” Jacinta says, deflating. “After all this time?”
Doug’s eyes drift to me—to Ted. “Someone has to put a stop to it. It might as well be us.”
“Us.” Jacinta spins and stares at me. Well, at least she stares at what she probably thinks is me. In actuality, she’s staring at a spot about six inches to my right, but she gets points for trying. “They’re here, aren’t they? The ghosts?” She shivers and crosses her arms.
Doug nods and gestures.
“Who? Who—tell me who?”
“Sunny and Ted.”
“What about Manny?”
“He’s in his trees,” I say. “He didn’t like the shouting.”
“Sunny says he went out to his trees,” Doug says.
Jacinta squints at the blank wall between me and Ted. “I don’t think this is going to work,” she says in an unnaturally loud voice—like she’s talking to someone who is hard of hearing. She waves her arms in a no-go gesture. “This is a bad idea.”
Ted covers his face as he’s overcome with laughter.
“Miss Jacinta?” Jenny’s voice, from the hall. “Who are you shouting at? I have a question about our schedule for the rest of the week. Are we still, you know, actually going to sea? With everything . . . I mean . . .”
Doug takes Jacinta’s shoulders and steers her out the door. “I’ll let you handle the live ones,” he says in a low voice. “I’ll take these two.”
Jacinta mutters something low and vehement in return before Doug snaps the door closed on her heels. Then he turns to us and holds up the brochure in his hands.
“Alright, what’s that?” Ted says. He digs a small, cloth ball from his pocket and throws it at me.
“Ah!” I duck, but not in time. It hits my shoulder and flops to the floor. “What was that for?”
“It’s a hacky sack.”
“So you’re supposed to, you know, hacky it.”
“What the hell does that mean?” I pick up the ball, relieved by the solidness of it, and weigh it in my hand.
“Ted,” Doug says. “Sunny.”
“Like, bop it. Here—throw it back to me. I’ll show you.” Ted floats upright and holds out his hands.
“I’m listening. We’re listening,” Ted says. He catches the hacky sack I throw him. Tosses it in the air and bops it off his elbow. “Brochure?”
“It was Mom’s. I found it years ago—before you left. In a box in the attic labeled O.C.E.A.N.”
“Oh? So is it an old advertisement for the program?”
“No, it’s a brochure for a museum.”
Ted raises an eyebrow and shakes his shaggy hair out of his eyes. He kicks the hacky sack over to me. I drop it again, obviously. Pick it up and cradle it.
“Let me see.” Ted floats to Doug’s shoulder, and I follow, clutching the worn ball.
“The Cape Cod Museum of Nautical Peculiarities and Fascinations,” I read aloud, peering between the two brothers.
“Sounds like a hopping place,” Ted says. He chews his lip and looks sideways at Doug. “Let me guess—it was founded give or take two hundred years ago by good ol’ Wally Theseus.”
Doug offers a grim smile. He flips the yellowing brochure over to reveal a stamp featuring a seal of a ship with billowing sails and the words, Funded by The Theseus Foundation Endowment. “Mom had this brochure for the museum in the box, and I found receipts indicating our family gave a yearly donation to this Theseus Foundation.”
“But that’s your family, isn’t it?” I say. “Aren’t they you?”
“We’re one branch of the family, but if I’m in charge of some charitable organization in Walter Theseus’s name, this was the first I ever knew of it.” Doug taps the museum brochure. “But . . . but . . .” He raises his eyebrows at us. “You do know what I’m getting at here, don’t you?”
Ted grins. “The Cape Cod Museum of Nautical Peculiarities and Fascinations. It would be a good place to stash a golden centaur.”
“Yeah. Especially one of the cursed variety,” Doug adds in a grim tone. “Maybe he established the museum just to have a place to hide it. If I got cursed by some angry pirate because I stole an artifact from her, I wouldn’t want to keep it around my house—but I don’t think I’d just throw it away, either. I think I’d hide it someplace safe.”
“Like a super weird museum,” I say.
Doug gives me a withering look, but he nods and taps the flyer. “Dollars to donuts, that’s where the centaur is.”
“But we can’t go there—we’re bound to the grounds and the ship.” I huff and gesture broadly around the office.
“No,” Doug says, “but the museum has coastal access, and it’s only twenty miles or so north of here.”
“So it’s to be a museum heist?” Ted says, and his eyes cut to mine with a glimmer of mischief.
“Well . . .” Doug scratches the back of his neck. “There’s no reason to think we’re going to have to try and steal anything. First we need to get there, see if they’re even open, see if the centaur is there and on display or in storage. We could tell them who we are and ask—it couldn’t hurt to ask—if they might consider lending us the artifact—”
“It’s a heist!” Ted shouts. He slings an arm around my shoulder and snugs me to his side. “Damn, this is going to be fun. First stop on this summer’s O.C.E.A.N. itinerary: rob The Cape Cod Museum of Nautical Peculiarities and Fascinations. To the ship!”
I cast a weak grin over my shoulder at Captain Doug and let Ted pull me along.
Project CoNarrative is an ongoing multimedia experiment in collaborative storytelling from two award-winning authors. We're taking turns writing chapters and building on each other's work, improv-style. You can read them for free, here on the internet, as we write them.
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