|Secret Of Shadow Ranch
Author: Carolyn Keene PM
This is an Alternate Ending to the HerInteractive PC game Secret of Shadow Ranch. Spoilers abound inside. So watch your step.Rated: Fiction T - English - Words: 4,362 - Reviews: 3 - Follows: 1 - Published: 09-14-12 - id: 8524588
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I have given up. On everything. No I'm kidding. Ever since the last time I touched this story I was just never happy. Well I am so proud to say right now, I am happy. Which means that everything is about to change, no seriously. I removed my old stories, as well as whatever renovated chapters I'd done at the time. So now starts the oh so difficult restart.
Long story short? This story was up here. I just deleted it. Now I'm putting it back up. However this time it's not going to remotely be anything like it was. At all. This time it will be MUCH better.
Last warning here, if you haven't played Secret of Shadow Ranch by HerInteractive 1. What are you doing with your life? Look at your life. Look at your choices. 2. You might want to stop reading now because thar be spoilers a head.
Adrenalin pumped through my veins, making my hands shake. No matter how many times you reach the end of a treasure hunt you find yourself on the verge of an excitement that is almost always uncontrollable. However, the hands shaking thing I could've really done without. Because, let's be honest here, the key holes were sorta precise. What with them being all sorts of strange shapes and twisted pieces of metal and what not.
I switched the key to my left hand before rubbing my sweaty right hand on my jeans, trying to dry it off enough to get the final rusty key inserted into the lock, twisting it with a resound clunk that virberated through the door. I took a deep breath before shoving my weight against the sliding lock. Rust broke away and littered the ground, and covered my hands. I went ahead and rubbed it off on my jeans, leaving long rust streaks. I could just wash them when I got back to the ranch.
I tried to push on the door, but the hinges were basically nonexistent at this point. I groaned.
"Of course," I muttered to myself before finally throwing my weight against the door, despite the shock that wen through my shoulder the door opened it just enough I could probably squeeze in. But it also made an extremely loud grinding sound. I froze. Years of doing sluthing had taught me that loud noises were usually the ones that one wanted to avoid.
When nothing answered the ear shattering sound, I felt myself relax slightly. I was always so jumpy at the end of cases, another affect of the adrenalin. Of course that was also always the moment something decided to leap out of the shadows and try to kill me, or something to that affect.
For a moment I tried to think about how many times I had done this in my eighteen years. The numbers quickly rose in my mind to the point that it wasn't even worth figuring out, let alone trying to figure out right now while I was here at the end of the case, trying to keep myself from jumping at very sound. In very short, I was Nancy Drew, eighteen, and teenage sleuth. I felt myself to be rather mediocre but no one ever seemed to take that for an answer when I told them.
But back to my original point: I'd done this a few times. But no matter what I always got the jolt of adrenaline. I'd never tell anyone, but I loved it. I loved the thrill of the end game, I loved the shooting feelings I got through my fingers as I knew what was coming. Knowing I could outsmart whatever was ahead of me. I couldn't imagine what chaos would follow if I ever told anyone this, especially Ned or my Dad. Of course Bess' reaction would only be inches behind. George might be the only person who would get it, what with her love of roller coasters, but even that was doubtful.
I couldn't help but grin a bit too myself as I shoved myself through the door. Instantly the interior made me catch my breath. The room itself was small, dusty, and dingy but it wasn't the room that got me. Sitting in the corner was Dirk's treasure. All of it melted down and formed into hearts. I knelt down beside the treasure, I took a deep breath blowing off one of the hearts before picking it up. The dust flew through the air, causing me to cough a couple times. I waved my free hand in the air to disperse the dust. When the dust finally settled and I was able to focus on the pure gold in my hands.
I couldn't imagine how much Dirk loved Frances. I'd followed their love for so long it almost felt like I knew them. I couldn't imagine how much Frances would have loved this surprise. Dirk was such a romantic. Instantly my mind flitted to Ned, my boyfriend of two years, this was something he would do.
An involuntary grin pulled at my lips as I found myself wishing, again, that Ned had service up in the mountains where he was with the boy scout troupe he helped out with. I hadn't been able to reach him all case, not that I'd tried I knew I wouldn't have been able to. But still when I got home I'd have to sit down and tell him everything. He would love it.
When we first started dating he was such a hopeless romantic. But I wasn't, god I so wasn't. He would do things crazy things and I'd feel so embarrassed. I'd just want him to stop. But as time wore on I got used to the little things, even fell in love with them. Fell in love with him. By now I cherished every corny letter, every lame thing he did, each one making me smile like a girl with a childhood crush. I suppose that's how one knew it was really love.
Maybe when I got service I'd try to ring Ned anyway.
Something jolted me out of my revere as I shook my head. It was unlike me to lose my place. Well, I take that back, it was kinda like me, I just didn't like to admit it. I looked back to the heart in my hand and placed it back down in the chest with the rest of its cousins. I stood up and looked at my hands, again they were covered with dust and grit, and again I attempted to brush some dirt off of my jeans, but at this point with the dirt and the rust it seemed like my jeans were nearly lost. Thankfully they weren't one of my favorite pairs of jeans.
I began to shove my way back through the door, but instincts made me freeze, I'd heard something. Instantly I leaned back against the door again, my ears straining to pick up the tiniest of sounds. This time the noise was distinct, footsteps, clearer, closer. Now the adrenaline really started pumping. I finally shoved my way through the door, edging to the overlook.
"Well, Miss Nancy," the southern drawl answered me. I froze, my eyes seeking out the bald cook. Shorty? Really? Why did it always have to be the nice ones?
"Shorty, you're the one behind the ghost horse?" I asked.
"Yes ma'am," Shorty said, still sounding every bit like the southern gentlemen, he obviously wasn't.
"Why?" I asked, "Your tricks could have gotten someone killed, for goodness sake Shorty you released a rattle snake on Uncle Ed,"
"Well, the bite wudden't exactly in my plan," Shorty said, "But it did let me search for that gosh darned treasure,"
I shook my head. I never quite got peoples obsession over money. It wasn't the most important thing in the universe. There were things that far outweighed the idea of being rich. I didn't care how much money in the world I had, I'd seen what greed could do to a person. Let me tell you, it wasn't pretty.
"I see ya don't approve, Miss Nancy." Shorty said.
"No," I said, "I can't say I do."
"So whatcha find up there Miss Nancy?" Shorty asked me, he was acting like we were both still standing in the ranch house's kitchen, chatting about which vegetables I shouldn't have picked, again.
"Big fat load of nothing," I sighed with a shrug. Practice had made me fairly good at lying. It wasn't exactly something I was proud of, but hey, when it came down to it, I was glad for the talent, "I guess someone moved it before we got here,"
"Well that is a shame," Shorty said shaking his head.
"But listen, I mean obviously it's important to you, let's leave and we'll go keep looking, there has to be some record of who moved the treasure," I said, "Someone had to record finding it, and if there is no record then it easily could still be out there, I mean I might've misread the clues, it's not hard to do." I gave a quick laugh. Trying to sound as at ease as possible.
"Now that sounds down right friendly Miss Nancy," Shorty said, "Especially after you disapproved so highly of me. Why on Earth would you help me?"
"Because it obviously means something to you," I said, with a grin.
"Now Miss Nancy that would be wonderful," Shorty said. There was a moment there when I couldn't help but thinking 'Did he really just fall for that?' and then Shorty bumbled on, "But see, I just don't believe ya,"
I should've known better, I mean really. I could spin a pretty decent lie, but even then there was only so much one could lie about and actually be believed. Someone could lie about the color of the sky. But it's just not possible for the sky to turn mauve overnight.
"If you had found the money, what's to say ya don't want it for yerself?" Shorty asked. Okay that wasn't exactly what I was lying about, but Shorty obviously had a one track mind.
"Shorty I don't care about the money," I said, "Really, c'mon let's just go and talk about it," I started to walk towards the ladder I had climbed not fifteen minutes previously. But I heard a laughter that stopped me.
"Oh, yer always good for a laugh," Shorty said, "I'm actually sad to say our time together has to end right now,"
"Shorty c'mon," I said, looking back over the edge, "Really?"
"No, Nancy, you c'mon." Shorty said, mimicking me, "The treasure is up in that room, I'm as sure of it as I am the nose on my face. And yer lyin' to me, and this time no one is gonna stop me from gettin' that treasure." And with that he started off, walking on through the passages, walking on towards me, and lord knew what he planned to do after he found me.
Now was the moment that the years of training really took over. The chase. Part of me loved this part; part of me loathed this part. I knew that if I didn't move fast enough, if I didn't think fast enough, I'd be in trouble, possibly even dead, within the next five minutes.
I could hear blood wooshing in my ears as my heart picked up speed, racing me towards a destination. The best way to explain this moment was like that moment when the roller coster finally reached the top of that first dive. That moment when you know exactly what's coming, there's no stopping it no matter how much you could try. The only thing you can do now is hold on and hope to god you can get through it fast enough.
I rushed forward, climbing down the ladder, well, more so leaping from more than half way up. I landed on the hard ground, my knees bending to help catch myself. I reached out with my hands, as I landed just my fingertips touched the ground to help catch my balance, nearly on my feet before I had landed. My mind was already going into overdrive, thinking my way through every possible idea.
I couldn't go back the way I came, I'd simply run into Shorty, that wouldn't help anything. I was in a small dusty alcove, the chances of being able to hide well will nill. Time was slipping through my fingers like grains of salt. My eyes began to dart around the room, anything I could use, anything that could keep me away from Shorty, something to stop Shorty, or even just stall him until I could get out of here and back to cell phone service and I could call for help, or back up.
Again and again my eyes darted around the room, taking in the exact survey of what I had. There was the room I had just come out of, the way out, the doorway that could barely conceal me for three seconds, the moment Shorty started looking I would be found out instantly. Lastly there was the red rug on the floor of the last room.
The rug was my last chance, I quickly bolted to it, pulling it up, beneath it was easily a six foot drop to the ground, I could probably make it, but Shorty would follow instantly. He couldn't have me out there knowing the treasure was in here. Even if he was money hungry, he couldn't run the risk of me knowing anything. Of course if I could get Shorty to land down there alone, he wasn't exactly what one could call athletic, climbing the rest of the way down would be impossible. I just had to get him down there.
That was it! That was the idea. I just had to execute it, I had to switch the colored rocks, obviously Shorty knew how to get around the cave dwellings, he must have read the same inscription from Dirk I had, or I would've lost him in the caves a long time ago.
I tried to keep my footfalls quiet as I crossed back across the room to the red stone. I long since had lost the sound of Shorty's footsteps, either he had made a wrong turn, which I doubted, or was somehow outsmarting me. Or the blood pounding through my ears was overwhelming any other sound. The last one was the most likely.
I stretched up on my tip tones and I was just able to wrap my fingers around the rock when a voice jolted me.
"I'd let that go Miss Nancy." Shorty said. I closed my eyes for a moment. I wasn't fast enough. Silently fifteen different curses, all directed at myself, ripped through my head. I resisted the urge to sigh before finally letting go of the red rock, turning to face Shorty.
"You got me," I said with a shrug. Sorely glad that years of practice was able to keep my voice calm, admittedly at the time I hadn't seen the large, sharp, knife clasped in Shorty's right hand. Now my eyes were drawn to the silver object.
"So now what?" I asked, forcing myself to pull my attention from the knife back to Shorty's face "You kill me when you find out that I'm right and you can't take the treasure back to your bank robber friends?"
Shorty blinked at me in surprise. Obviously I caught him off guard at least once, I glanced at the knife in his hand, his grip was as tight as ever, but for the moment he was stunned, if I had thought things through I could've used his momentary surprise to attack. But before I could even get my feet set for an attack the moment was lost and Shorty was back to his normal grinning self.
"Yeah, I know that you're helping them," I added.
"Very good," Shorty commented. A new plan was beginning to form in my head, if I could just throw Shorty off long enough to make a run at the knife.
This was the moment that everything spiraled, this moment I knew my life was in my own hands, held only by my own wit. Honestly? I loved it. More than that I adored it. I need psychological help. I know.
"So tell me, what's to stop them from killing you after you find the money?" I asked. I cocked my head to the side, portraying innocence.
"I thought you said the money wasn't here," Shorty said, grinning like he had slipped me up, which apparently was the greatest achievement of his life. It was nearly adorable, nearly because I could probably list the villains that had truly slipped me up on one hand, and also because of the knife in his hand. I mean, really, no one wielding a knife is adorable.
"It's not," I rolled my eyes, "But at the same time eventually you'll find it, you're resourceful like that,"
"Oh but Nancy don'tcha see?" Shorty asked, "If the money's not here then it's been long gone, and that just ain't an option,"
"The bank robbers are blackmailing you?" I asked.
"If I said they were wouldja help me?" Shorty asked. I paused, everything Shorty had done here in this cave wove a completely different tale. He didn't act like someone who was being blackmailed. In fact he acted rather solo, until of course I was knocked out in the camp proving he was working with someone else. The bank robbers were an easy jump from there. Blackmail was an easy leap for bank robbers, but Shorty gave off the wrong feel for it all.
"Are you?" I spoke aloud before the silence could drag on, the last thing I needed was for Shorty to realize I was scrambling. Though scrambling seemed like the wrong word. When I reached these end conversations it was like something else took over. I was calm, perfectly calm. That was probably a bad sign. But it hadn't failed me, yet.
"No," Shorty said. Well, that settled that.
"But still Miss Nancy," Shorty continued, "I wanna go check that room, if there's no treasure then what's the harm?" he had a point, and if I wanted to pull of my story of the treasure truly being gone, there was no reason for me not to allow it. If I could get him up there alone maybe, just maybe I could make a break for it under the red carpet.
"Fine by me," I said taking a step to the side and waving my arms towards the ladder, "Continue,"
"Oh, ho, no," Shorty said with a humorless laugh, "You first darlin'" The last thing I wanted to do was to turn my back on that knife, flashing back and forth in the light. But it looked like I had no option.
I licked my dry lips before turning and scaling the ladder, easily pulling myself up onto the ledge. I couldn't help but notice the creaks it gave as Shorty climbed up behind me. I spun on my heels the moment I was at the top, ready to shove the ladder down, along with Shorty. It wouldn't exactly help me, but it could give me a few precious moments. But Shorty's hand had already appeared, not only had he scaled it faster than I thought possible, but the ladder hadn't cracked under his weight. Luck was not on my side today.
"Lead on little lady," Shorty said. My mind was racing at this point. Any and all possible outcomes were racing through my mind, my feet moved towards the door despite the fact every instinct in my body was screaming at me to stop and think things over.
The moment Shorty shoved opened that door I was done for. He would know I was lying, and then what? He was the one with the knife. Maybe I could yank the door closed with Shorty inside, but with how hard it was to open that seemed impossible at the moment. I only had one option. Attack.
I stopped half way to the door and spun around to face Shorty. This was my moment, this was all I had. I made a lunge for the knife, I'd hoped that it would be before Shorty had fully regained his balance from climbing the ladder, again though luck wasn't on my side. It seemed as if luck had left me entirely. Shorty not only seemed to have his balance but seemed to be expecting my attack. He grabbed my arm and twisted it, using my momentum against me as he spun me away from the edge…to another edge. I stumbled nearly falling off the edge of the cliff. I teetered on the edge of the platform my arms swinging wildly at my sides to regain my balance. No longer was I standing over the edge with the ladder, where I knew that if I fell I could make it. No this time I was an easy fifteen-twenty feet off the ground.
Shorty grabbed one of my arms pinning it behind my back, I gave a yelp as half of my balance was suddenly taken from me. I lurched forward for a moment but Shorty held me from completely falling over. My heart was racing even more than it was before. My entire balance was in the hands of the maniac with the knife. Not a good place to be for those of you keeping notes.
My mind went wild instantly. Plans coming and being dismissed before they were even formed. Nothing would work. Nothing could work. My only option was to outsmart Shorty before he could end me.
"Now then that wudn't smart," Shorty said. I swallowed hard against the lump in my throat. My heart was racing ninety miles a minute, loud enough I was sure that Shorty couldn't hear it. I tried to remind myself I had been in worse situations and been fine. I couldn't think of any at the moment but I knew they existed. Because at the time I felt as hopeless as I did in this instant.
"Shorty," I said, "I didn't mean-" I was cut off as Shorty gave me a nudge towards the edge, I yelped again, nearly going over, my one free arm was waving in circles trying aimlessly to help me gain my balance but Shorty seemed to be enjoying keeping me just off balance.
"Shorty," I said, "Shorty c'mon,"
"You've messed 'round for the last time Miss Nancy," Shorty said, "I gave you time and time again to help yourself, and ya spat it in my face," I didn't say anything. All I could do was think about if I could land if Shorty threw me over. I wouldn't be unscathed that was for sure.
"I was even gonna let you live after this, maybe you coulda had some of the treasure," Shorty went on, "But now yer in the road. Which means I have ta deal with ya."
"Shorty, this is idiotic, all of this over a treasure you don't even know is there!" I snapped off.
"But ya keep distractin' me from lookin', haven'tcha noticed that?" Shorty asked.
"Shorty you don't want to go down for murder on top of everything else, do you?" I asked, trying to look over my shoulder as best I could, trying to get eye contact with Shorty.
"Who says I haven't already?" Shorty asked. That made me pause. Shorty spoke again before I had a chance to come up with some sort of response, "G'night Nancy," he said. I focused my eyes on the ground, preparing myself to try and land as best I could on the ground far below me.
But Shorty never pushed. He never seemed to shift position. I even opened my mouth to try and counter, to say something, but then things shattered. My world fell apart right there on the ledge.
Fire flew from my right side overwhelming my whole body. My brain couldn't clear anything, I couldn't think of what could have happened, or where I even was at the moment. Black circles started to encroach on my vision as the pain began to lessen, dull out even.
I thought I was falling, but maybe I was flying.
Flying would be nice, a nice thing to do, it was a nice day to go flying.
Then the world crashed in again, as the fire inflamed again, I could feel it from the tips of my fingers to the tips of my toes. I could hear strange gurgling sound. Surely they weren't coming from my own lips?
My life didn't flash before my eyes as it does it movies, I didn't view my body from the outside. I didn't even know what exactly was going on. All I did know was my vision was turning black. Shapes were moving in front of me but I couldn't see what they were.
I wasn't sure of anything.
The only thing I was sure of was the fact that everything was slipping out of my grasp, like trying to hold water in your fingers. As the last few drops of water slipped from my grasp the black fully engulfed me, and I lost all touch on reality.