Author's Note: If you've read my story A Book Too Many, then you just need to know that this story is inspired by the picture "A Strange Day in July". If you haven't read that story, then you need to know that I attended a writing camp called "Riddles & Mysteries" last summer that was centered around a book called The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg. Read the book. Now. It's filled with pictures, and each picture is accompanied by a title and a line. Can't remember the line from this one shrug
Annabeth and Julie spent every summer at their grandfather's cabin. This particular summer, Annabeth was eleven and Julie was seven. Their favorite pastime happened to be skipping rocks out on the wooden dock. Annabeth remembered the day of the event in question perfectly. It was the early afternoon of July 4th, and her mother had her take Julie out to the dock so she would be out from underfoot.
"Now, remember, Julie, stay close to me." Annabeth instructed as the two sisters stood on the edge.
"Can I go get stones?" Julie asked.
"Sure." Annabeth dropped Julie's hand, and she scurried to the shore and grabbed two smooth stones. She handed the first to her sister.
"Show me how." she asked.
Annabeth smiled. "Okay, so you hold it in your fingers, and after that, it's all in the wrist." Annabeth did so. The rock skipped four times; it was a winner. Annabeth had turned back to her sister, but she did, or rather didn't hear the soft "plop" on the last skip. Instead, it just kept skipping, only this time in reverse! The girls watched it bounce under the dock, out of reach.
"Julie, hand me another one." Annabeth used the same method, only this time she kept her eyes on the stone. Sure enough, it skipped four times and then bounced back under the dock.
"Is it supposed to do that?" Julie asked.
"Um, no, not usually. Here, let me try one more time."
"Maybe we should get Mom."
"No, Julie, don't bother Mom. We can handle this on our own."
Annabeth threw the last stone a bit harder, adding two more skips onto its path. As it began the return trip, Annabeth reached out to grab it. Suddenly, something pushed on the small of her back, and she tumbled head long into the water. She heard Julie shout her name and go running towards the house, and then she was surrounded by quiet.
It lasted only a few seconds, and then she was yanked up by her armpits and onto what felt like her grandfather's wooden dock, only this wood was much smoother. Men were shouting all around her, and someone was feeling her bones, checking for breaks. Annabeth opened her eyes sharply, and came face to face with a rather unkempt teenage boy. His face was very tan, and he had long, dark hair. Both shouted, and jumped back.
"I'm sorry." The boy stammered. "I did not mean to startle you. Are you hurt?"
Annabeth looked down at herself. Except for being soaked to the skin, she appeared to be alright. Now, she looked around.
It may have felt like the familiar dock, but she was certainly nowhere near home. It seemed she'd been rescued by the crew of a formidable, and rather old, sailing ship. The men were running this way and that along the deck. It seemed her rescuer was the youngest of the bunch, more than likely a cabin boy. All sorts of questions ran through Annabeth's head. How had she ended up here? What did all of this have to do with the skipping stones? She resolved to ask the boy.
"I appear to be alright. What's your name?"
"Adam." The boy answered. "And yours?"
"Annabeth. Where are we?"
"You're aboard the grand Miranda, one of her Majesty's finest. I saw you floating on the starboard side and grabbed you. What are you wearing?" Adam asked.
Annabeth looked down at her jeans and t-shirt, and then remembered that this must be the 1800s or so.
"Oh. I must look rather strange, huh?" she noted.
"Rather strange indeed. Come now, I must take you to see the captain." Adam helped her to her feet, and the two headed below deck.
The captain was a large man, broad shouldered and muscled. He was as tan as Adam, but his hair was light and close cropped. He thanked Adam for bringing Annabeth to him, and let the boy go. Annabeth didn't want him to leave. She was scared, and, for reasons she still can't identify, she connected with Adam the moment they met. Still, she let him go and turned to face the man before her. He was steely-eyed, and Annabeth sensed that he was not happy.
"Who are you? Where did you come from?" he snarled.
"My name's Annabeth, sir. I fell into the lake at my grandfather's cabin–"
The captain interrupted by slamming his hands onto his wooden desk. "You expect me to believe that?" he shouted. Annabeth took two steps back.
"Well, that's the truth, sir–" It was a failed attempt to defend herself.
"You're a spy!" the captain practically screamed.
"What?" Annabeth didn't even stammer. She couldn't even think about how he had gotten such a crazy idea. Did she look like a spy? She didn't even look like she was from that time period!
"You heard me! Jacobs!" A huge, burly man came into the room. Back at home, he would have made a great bouncer.
"Yes, my captain?" he practically bowed.
"You have yourself a prisoner. Do with her as you so choose." The captain turned around, signaling that the meeting was over.
Jacobs grabbed Annabeth by the back of her shirt. She didn't dare protest, since she knew he could probably break her neck if he tried. He took her to a small closet of a room, almost entirely filled with barrels and crates.
"Sit down." Jacobs barked. Annabeth sat down on a barrel. Jacobs grabbed a coil of rope and quickly trussed her up. After pulling a rag between her lips, he exited, locking the door behind him.
Annabeth groaned. How had she gotten wrapped up in this? How she wished to be back home with her grandfather, her mother, even Julie! Oh, well, she supposed all she could do was wait.
It took hours for a knock to come at the door. Since she couldn't talk, Annabeth banged her heels against the barrel. She heard something ram against the door, and Adam came flying into the room. He quickly picked himself up and freed her.
"Quickly. I know how to get you home." he claimed.
"But how did you–" Adam pressed a finger to his lips. Annabeth stamped her foot. Why wasn't anyone letting her finish a question around here? Adam didn't seem to notice her indignation. He grabbed her by the arm and pulled her to the top deck, being careful to avoid both the captain and Jacobs. Now, they stood at the railing.
"Jump." Adam said. Annabeth looked at him with fear in her eyes.
"What? Are you nuts? I can't jump! I'll kill myself!"
"It's the only way to get you home." Adam said. "You have to trust me." Now he leaned in close. "Don't make me push you."
Annabeth punched him in the arm. "Fine, fine. But, one thing before I go."
"How did you know?"
"You said you were staying with your grandfather, correct?"
Now, Adam pushed Annabeth hard on the shoulders, and she tumbled, yet again, into the cold, quiet water.
Now, someone yanked her up by her t-shirt. It wasn't men shouting around her, but her mother, Julie, and her grandfather. She sat up and hugged her grandfather, who'd been checking for broken bones, just like Adam.
"Oh, it's so good to be home!" she cried.
"Home?" Julie snorted. "You just fell in the water, silly. You didn't leave the country."
"Annabeth, sweetie, are you alright? Did you hit your head maybe?" her mother coddled.
"No!" Annabeth turned to her grandfather. "Grandpa, you know what I mean. Adam said you would know!"
"Honey, who's Adam?" Her mother turned to her father. "Dad, what is she talking about?"
Her grandfather smiled. "I'm sure she's probably just disoriented. Come on now, let's get you cleaned up before the party. Julie, Hannah, how about you go on ahead?"
The two did so, Julie laughing all the way. Annabeth looked up at the old man.
"Did you fall in, too?" she asked.
He nodded. "I can see Adam took care of you as well. How's the captain?"
"Mean and crusty, if that helps you any."
He laughed. "And I'll bet Jacobs is just as big and dim as he was forty years ago, huh?"
Annabeth was stunned. "Forty years?"
"Why, yes." Her grandfather said. "I fell in when I was your age. It was stupid really. I was chasing a skipping stone."
Annabeth started, but stopped asking questions. As they walked towards the house, she looked back at the water.
To this day, she swears she saw a lone rock, bouncing across the surface.