Title: A Pirate, a Blockade Runner, and a Cat
Author: Beverly Stowe McClure
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
Thirteen-year-old Erik Burks’ life is falling apart. When he discovers a lace bra in the glove compartment of his dad’s car, his mom leaves his father and drags Erik from being king of the hill in Texas to the bottom of the pits in South Carolina. No Dad, no baseball, no friends, just Starry Knight (a girl who reads minds) and her equally weird brother, Stormy, the twins that live down the block.
Just when Erik thinks life can’t get any worse, while hanging out at the beach one evening, he and the twins notice lights radiating from the lighthouse. Stranger still, a ship materializes in the moonlit harbor. Curious, the twins and a reluctant Erik investigate and discover the ghost of a blockade runner, a cat, and a pirate who prowls Charleston Harbor, and the fun begins.
It’s funny how a split second can change a guy’s life. One week, I’m living in Texas with Mom and Dad. I’m the star pitcher on the Pirates baseball team, and I’m trying to figure out what to say to make Diana, the blonde in history class, notice me.
The next week, I’m in South Carolina, a thousand miles from Texas. No Dad. No baseball team. No Diana. Just Mom and me, now living with Aunt Molly. Oh, and Starry and Stormy Knight, the weird twins who live down the street.
So here I am, a thirteen-year-old kid ripped from my friends and my life, sitting in the sand on Folly Beach, a short distance from Aunt Molly’s house, watching the sky grow dark, the waves building, and wondering where it all went wrong. I’m not alone for long. As always, they find me.
“Hey, Ek. How’s it?”
Stormy plopped down beside me, stirring up sand. My nose twitched. I sneezed. What kind of talk was “How’s it?” And who was “Ek”?
His sister, Starry, settled on my other side. I was surrounded, no chance to escape, short of jumping into the ocean.
“Have you seen the lights?” Star asked.
On the day we met she told me to call her Star or Starry. Either way she was from outer space. I glanced over my shoulder at the football field length of tall grass separating the beach from the nearest houses.
“You mean those?” I pointed at the hazy glow around a street lamp. “What’s the big deal?”
“Not those. Over there.” Star tipped her head in the direction of the water. “Look.”
“I’m looking. I’m looking.” Why was she so excited? All I saw was a faint beam of light floating across the inlet. “So? It’s a reflection of the moon.”
Star shook her head. “No moon tonight.”
She was right. Yet stars (the heavenly kind, not the girl) glittered between the layers of gathering clouds. “Okay, it’s only the starlight.”
“The light comes from the lighthouse,” Star said.
“You can see it blink on and off,” Storm added.
Morris Island Lighthouse stood several hundred yards into the water.
According to Mom, who was big on history, the water was land during the Civil War. Over the years the sea had eroded the shore and water now surrounded the lighthouse. I couldn’t deny the yellow glow flowing from the top of the building. I couldn’t explain it either.
“Impossible. Mom said the lighthouse has been out of commission for years. The lantern was removed. Sullivan’s Island Lighthouse across Charleston Harbor replaced it.”
“Then tell us what it is, Erik,” Star said. “You see it. Storm and I see it. This isn’t the first time, either. On cloudy, rainy nights the light flashes on.”
“It’s not raining,” I said.
“It is raining.”
Star had barely said the words when a gust of wind whipped across the beach. Sand spiraled like a Texas dust devil. Something wet slapped me on the nose. Several somethings wet—raindrops. The space girl predicted the weather. So what? Dark clouds usually brought rain. “Yeah, it’s raining.” Under my breath I mumbled, “And I’m getting wet.” In a lame attempt to pep me up about my new home, Mom had promised many adventures waited for me in Charleston. Adventures? Yeah. If you called ocean waves slurping against the shore and neighbors with two grains of sand each for brains adventures, I was up to my wet nose in adventures.
The twins stared into the gloomy night, watching the light fading into a dim sliver.
The rain seeped into my T-shirt, gluing it to my skin. Lightning raced across the sky. I shivered. I’d had enough. I shook Stormy’s shoulder. He kept his eyes focused across the inlet. Star didn’t budge. They could drown if they wanted. I was outta there. I jumped to my feet, turned, and took one step, before Star snagged my ankle.
“Wait. Where are you going?”
“Home, before I turn into a duck with webbed feet,” I yelled above the
whistling wind and growling thunder.
She freed my ankle and stood. Raindrops plastered her carrot-red hair against her face. “Besides the light, we’ve seen a ship, Erik. It always comes during bad weather.”
Stormy sprang up. “We think someone in the lighthouse is warning the ships.”
“Who? How? They can’t.”
“The proof is before us.” Star twisted her mouth, the way she did when she was thinking. “We have a theory.”
They always did. Since I was sopping wet already, and the rain showed no sign of letting up anytime soon, I wasn’t interested. “Stay here if you want. I’m opposed to drowning.”
I loped off, but not before I caught a glimpse of a shape in the water that vaguely resembled a ship. I paused. Either I was hallucinating or something was out there. Curious, I trudged back, raindrops dripping from my hair down onto my chin. The water had calmed. The dark crept in. The inlet was empty. “Where is it?”
“Vanished, the way it always does.” Lightning flashed, revealing Star’s eyes, wide and troubled. “Tomorrow, I’m going to the lighthouse and investigate.”
I swiped the rain off my face. “What do you expect to find?”
“You know, Erik. Your mind dreams tell me so. See you tomorrow.” She sprinted away.
I raised an eyebrow at Storm. “My mind dreams?”
He shook his head. “She knows your every thought, Ek. She calls them mind dreams.”
“You’re kidding me?”
“Lights. Ships. Mind dreams. I don’t believe it,” I muttered as the rain tumbled around me.