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Chapter 16

Jennifer King | The Feather Online

Kamryn Schultz continues her serialized novel, Redemption, with chapter 16.

Senior Kamryn Schultz finishes up her serialized book titled Redemption. Chapters will be revealed every two weeks. Make sure to check back twice a month and leave comments on what you think about it. If you missed the fifteenth chapter, read Trust.

Interlaken reminded me of a fairytale my mom used to read me. There were these pixies, and they were trying to reach a mountain full of treasure. And just below the mountain, resting peacefully along the shallow waters, was a lake town.

Although small and quiet, this town was powerful beyond all knowing. And kind. They helped the pixies get food, shelter and supplies for the rest of their journey, and they eventually reclaimed the mountain.

But in my case, we didn’t get what we were after in Interlaken. We got something different, something we did not expect. It started with Emil.

“Hurry up friends!” He squawked at us to keep moving out tired feet. “We will never make it to the town on the lake if you both do not go faster!”

Indiana glared at Emil as he skipped ahead of us.

“One more word out of him and I swear I’ll-”

“Indi?” I warned.

She lowered her voice and muttered a curse under her breath.

“Look, I know you’re tired. I am too, but the faster we get there the faster we can get to Maryland. Who knows where she is, if she’s OK.” I paused. “If she’s even alive.”

“She is, Paige.” Indi assured me. “Don’t think the worst. And you’re right, I’ll speed it up a bit.”

We had traveled from Germany to Switzerland by train, which took less than a day. Unfortunately, there were no trains or cabs that led to the small laketown. And even if there were, Indi had spent the last of out money on food and transportation. So walking was out only option. And the walk was no easy trek.

We were on our fourth hour when Emil finally shouted, “Paige! Indi! Look!”

We both lifted out sunken, exhausted heads to gaze at the beauty before us.

The small but breathtaking town of Interlaken glistened in the sunlight, with waters reflecting the blue sky’s complexion. And towering above the lake rested thick mountain tops, breaking the clouds with their icy tips.

I shivered just witnessing the sight.

I also shivered thinking about the fact that we had no idea of Maryland’s whereabouts. How were we supposed to find her in such a vast and foreign area?

As if someone was reading my thoughts, a ringing came from inside Indiana’s pocket. She froze, then reached inside and looked at the contact. An unknown number rang for several seconds, and for a moment we both stood there, reluctant to answer. But I  took a deep breath as I and reached for the phone and placed it against my ear.

“Hello?”

There was empty silence. I looked at Indiana and shrugged my shoulders, confused. A deep, unrecognizable voice then came from the device.

“Paige Hawthorne. You’ve passed the first test in the caves.”

“Ya, a sick and twisted test,” I snapped at the unknown caller as I recalled Indi and Emil’s little game they played with me.

“Now we’re sure we can trust you,” the voice answered. “I’m assuming you’re dying to know where your little friend is hiding?”

“That would be nice, yes.” My voice cracked slightly, switching from confident to helpless in a nanosecond.

“Find the second gem and we’ll set her free. Fail to do so, and you’ll never see her again.

“You’ll need some diving gear for this next mission,” the voice instructed. “Grab a boat and row to the very middle of the lake. The next gem you need should be hidden somewhere 50 feet beneath the water. Once you find it, show it to Indiana and she will contact us back to confirm. Then, and only then, will we set your friend free.”

Suddenly, I heard a thin muffled voice in the background. It was definitely a girl, and she sounded in pain.

“And you’d better hurry. Looks like someone doesn’t know how to swim.”

The caller hung up, leaving me with the horrifying reality that if we didn’t find this second gem, Maryland would be in deeper waters than ourselves.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

We hurried to the nearest collections of stores in the area and went in search of diving gear. It wasn’t difficult to find surprisingly, as many tourists found the activity exciting and adventurous. But for us, this was a literal life or death situation, so it was hard to find the joy in buying a scuba mask along with flippers and a small gas tank.

We rented a small boat that barely held the three of us, let alone our possessions. Fortunately Emil stayed behind, because of his fear of drowning. I assured him it was perfectly safe, but he still refused, telling me he lost his friend to a sailboat accident and didn’t want to take his chances of falling out endangering our endeavor.

Indi took the paddles and rowed out to the middle of the lake. She tredd through the waters slowly, as if she was afraid of waking something up.

We finally stopped at what seemed like the rough middle of the lake. I put the suit, goggles, flippers and gas tank onto my body.

Every item placed upon me felt like a burden. The pressure of people’s lives at stake. The stuff I could’ve kept from happening. The pain I caused everyone. The absolute trama people experienced because of me. It weighed me down, almost pulling me closer and closer into the deep waters, until I sank and disappeared forever.

Who I be noticed? Would Indi come to the rescue. Or would she be glad of my riddance?

A warm hand diminished the cold thoughts in my brain. I turned to Indiana, the person who had stayed by my side this whole journey and followed me with a willing heart.

“Paige, breathe. You look like you’re about to pass out.”

I nodded and took two giant breaths.

“You’re the only one who can touch the gems, remember?” She told me. “This has to be you. I believe in you.”

She grabbed a rope with a weight attached to one end. She tied that end to the boat, secured it and wrapped the other end around me.

“Now, once you reached the bottom tug lightly on the attached rope so I know you got down safely. When you find the gem, tug twice and I’ll try my best to pull you up.”

I widened my eyes in concern.

“What if you can’t pull me up? My tank is kind of heavy.”

Indi looked me over with her arms crossed over her chest, a wondering look on her face.

“It’ll be fine,” she finally answered. “Don’t worry. Just get down, find the gem, and get back. Easy.”

I turned to look down at the still, very deep, very vast waters. Easy, I told myself. Relax. I took some more, much needed deep breaths, then mustered up the strength to dive into the lake headfirst.

Which of course was a mistake. The water bit into my skin as I quickly sank to the bottom. The frigid waters dug deeper into my body, making me lose feeling in my arms and legs. This was not good.

As my head neared the ground my surroundings grew darker, and I felt pressure against both sides, as if walls were closing in on me. My feet pounded into the ground and I lost my balance. Not that gravity really worked anyway, but it still startled me. I slowly gazed up towards the surface, and could barely make out our boat above. 

As I looked back down, I realized there was not a lot of light for me to guide myself around the bottom of the lake. Then I realized another horrible truth: Where would I begin to look?

For chapter 1 read Confronting weaknesses. For more articles read Profile: Schultz strives for excellence on and off court.

Kamryn Schultz can be reached via email and Twitter.

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