Bungee Jump

Bungee Jump by Pam Withers

Book: Bungee Jump by Pam Withers Read Free Book Online
Authors: Pam Withers
Chapter One
    My younger sister, Caitlin, wanted to visit the island one last time before the engineer moved onto it. She wanted to climb through the old rusty pipe to get there. Both the island and pipe are rumored to be haunted.
    I hate dark, enclosed spaces. When I was little I got trapped for an hour in a closet, playing hide-and-seek. And I’m not crazy about ghosts. Not that I believe in ghosts. What thirteen-year-old guy does? So I won’t crawl through dark pipes, but I’m not going to let my eleven-year-old sister do this alone.
    “Fog’s really thick, Chris,” Caitlin says as we reach the top of the bluff.
    “Thick enough we can’t see our house,” I say, glancing down the hill behind us. “That’s a good thing. Means Mom and Dad can’t see us.” The pipe is dry inside and just big enough to crawl through. Originally, the pipe was installed to carry water to a power station on the island. But no one ever built the station. Instead, someone built a hospital for children with leprosy.
    The hospital was shut down seventy years ago. My grandfather bought the island cheap, because of its history. He upgraded the pipe just before he died, but until recently Dad had never found a use for it. We use the land on the peninsula for a tree farm that doesn’t make much money, but the island and the pipe have gone unused for years.
    Suspended fifteen stories above Misty Passage, the pipe is encased in crisscrossed steel supports. It’s like a high bridge without walkway or railings. Mom and Dad won’t let us go near it.
    Like that has ever stopped us. We’ve been using the pipe to get to the island for years. Caitlin crawls through. I crawl along the top, like we are doing now.
    I hear a muffled “Ouch!” and know Caitlin has hit her head on the boxlike hatch that hangs down from the middle. Again.
    “Can’t wait for the bungee jump to be built,” Caitlin says as she emerges from the pipe on the island.
    “Me too,” I agree, trying to picture a thick rope dangling from a sparkling new steel platform above the pipe. “And I get to see a real engineer at work.”
    “Yeah, geek, he’ll be asking you for your expertise for sure.” My sister laughs. “More important, Dad says it’ll bring us real money.”
    “Mmm.” The only trouble is, I know Dad spent way too much money on the plans, the engineer and materials.
    The bungee jump was my idea. Caitlin and I got to go on one in Oregon during spring break. There was a huge lineup for it, and the site was nowhere near as cool as our property. It took Dad a while to come around to the notion that a bungee jump could make money on our pipe bridge, but he eventually decided to have plans drawn up. Then he arranged to hire an engineer-contractor to build it. That guy will be arriving any day now.
    “Hope no one tells the contractor that the island has ghosts,” I joke. Local legend claims that the island is haunted by the ghosts of the leper children who died there. And of the doctor who fell—or jumped—from the pipe when he got the disease. Sometimes I hear creepy noises near the pipe or island.
    We slide down the muddy path toward the ruins of the hospital. It’s invisible in the fog. I tell myself no spooks are hiding out in the soupy cloud.
    “Mrs. Dubin says there were fifty children here before the hospital closed,” I say. I run my hands along the mossy top of a tumbledown wall.
    “Mrs. Dubin is annoying,” Caitlin says. “What is she, like, a hundred?” My sister doesn’t like the old lady who runs our school library. It’s true that she’s moody, but she’s usually friendly to me. Anyway, I like hearing her stories about our hick town in the old days.
    “She told me she was born the year the hospital got shut down,” I say. “So she’s seventy. And she knows a lot about Hospital Island.”
    “Like what?” Caitlin is winding through the corridors of the old place. She pokes her head into rooms where pieces of ceiling have fallen onto

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