Chapter #16:

I looked at the wall carving that had Ben so fascinated, but I still couldn't share his sudden interest in it. I couldn't even tell what it was supposed to be.

From his pocket Ben pulled out an object. It was broken into two pieces.

"What is that?" I whispered.

"It's the pipe that we found," Riley explained, "the one from The Charlotte."

"The secret lies with Charlotte," Ben repeated the very first clue that had been given to his ancestor decades ago in a hushed tone. Then he reached up and placed the one broken piece into the wall carving.

"It's a perfect fit," I gasped. Not that I needed to say that from the way that everyone was watching what Ben was doing with wide eyes.

Taking the other broken piece, the stem of the pipe, Ben placed it into a hole below the first wall carving so that it was sticking out. Finally he grasped the stem and began to turn it count clockwise.

After it had rotated 180 degrees it stopped with a click. Ben pushed down.

With a whoosh of air a door opened.

"It's a way out," I cheered, "we're not going to die! I knew you could do it Ben!"

"You were threatening to eat him a few minutes ago," Riley pointed out.

"It was a joke," I lied.

Ben's dad walked through the door, followed by Riley.

"Wait for me," I cried as I rushed to catch up. Abigail came behind me.

Finally Ben entered the room, and saw what we all had already seen.

Even to my untrained eye it looked like treasure. Old statues, chests with intricate gold designs on them, swords, golden candle sticks, and paintings just to name a few. The light from our torches bounced off gold from object after object.

We all walked as if in a stupor. Abigail went over to a rack of dusty old scrolls.

"Scrolls from the library at Alexandria," I heard her gasp. "Could this be possible?"

"Apparently yes," I told her.

Mr. Gates was brushing the dust off of a giant old coin. I went past him to a suit of armor and knocked on it's helmet.

"Anyone there?" I asked. Then I promptly dissolved into laughter while everyone else glared daggers at me. I walked away from the armor and over to Riley who was staring at a statue. "What is it?" I asked.

"It's a big, blueish green man with a strange looking goatee," he answered. "I'm guessing that's significant." He went and hugged the statue.

"You know in a lot of cartoons evil people have goatees," I pointed out, "maybe that's the significance."

I looked around to find Ben and saw that he had been investigating a pedestal that was full of some sort of powder. He touched his torch to the powder and it lit up. But it didn't stop there. With a whoosh the fire began racing along a ledge that had been connected with the pedestal.

"Be careful, you're going to light the treasure on fire!" I shouted.

"This is supposed to be on fire," Ben sighed, "it lights the room up."

"You're the expert," I shrugged.

But the fire was staying on the ledge, through traveling down it steadily. We all watched. Suddenly the ledge, and the fire, split into three directions. It continued to split and spread until it had revealed that the room was ten, maybe even twenty, times larger then it had first appeared. And every inch of it was covered with treasure.

"Riley," Abigail said as Ben and his dad cheered, "are you crying?"

"Look," he answered staring into the room, "stairs."

"We're going to get out of this hell hole," I cheered feeling some tears of my own threatening to spill.

We followed the stairs for a long time. It didn't seem so long, however, since we were all still celebrating our victory. Finally though we reached a dead end, which Ben assured me was the way out. He hit it with his torch a couple of time before it cracked open and Ben stepped out into the room through which we had first emptied the creepy tunnel. The rest of us followed him out.

There was a maintenance man standing in the room who looked as if he was about to die of fright.

"Hi," Ben said to him. "Do you have a cell phone I could borrow?"

"Are you holding a skeleton hand?" I asked.

"Don't be rude Maggie," Abigail cautioned.

"I was just curious," I defended myself.

Without a word the man handed over his cell phone. Then he turned and fled the room as fast as he could.

"What's his problem?" I asked as Ben began to dial.

--

The F. B. I. arrived at the church in full force soon after that, headed by Agent Sadusky. I waved in greeting but he simply rolled his eyes. He didn't order the other agents to put me in handcuffs, however, so I took it as a good sign.

Ben stood up to greet Sadusky, the Declaration in his hand. He held it out to Sadusky.

"Just like that?" Sadusky asked.

"Just like that," Ben nodded.

"You do know you just handed me your biggest bargaining chip?"

"The Declaration of Independence is not a bargaining chip," Ben said, "not to me."

"Besides," I spoke up, "we still have the-" Mr. Gates kicked me and I broke off with a gasp of pain.

Sadusky and Ben sat down on the steps up to the alter.

"So what's your offer?" Sadusky asked.

"How about a bribe?" Ben said. "Say uh… ten billion dollars?"

"I take it you found the treasure," Sadusky said.

"In your face everyone who said we wouldn't find it," I cried.

"You are incapable of being quiet," Riley hissed.

"The treasure's about five stories beneath your shoes," Ben told Sadusky.

"Hmm," Sadusky looked down at his feet, "you know the Templars and the Free Masons believed that the treasure was too great for any one man to have, not even a king. That's why they went to such lengths to keep it hidden."

"He seems to know an awful lot about it," I said suspiciously to the others.

"That's right," Ben nodded, "the founding fathers believed the same thing about government."

"So that's why there are three branches," I gasped, "it all makes sense now!"

"I figure their solution will work for the treasure too," Ben concluded.

"Give it to the people," Sadusky added.

"Divide it amongst the Smithsonian, the Louvre, the Cairo Museum. There's thousands of years of world history down there and it belongs to the world and everybody in it."

"Including me!" I burst out. Everyone turned and gave me strange/exasperated looks.

"You really don't understand the concept of a bargaining chip," Sadusky said to Ben completely ignoring my outburst. But Sadusky was smiling now.

"Okay," Ben grinned, "here's what I want. Dr. Chase gets off completely clean, not even a little Post-It on her service record. I want the credit for the find to go to the entire Gates family, with the assistance of Mr. Riley Poole."

"Don't forget me!" I cried.

"And Maggie," Ben added with a grin.

"And what about you?" Sadusky asked Ben.

"I'd really love not to go to prison," Ben told him.

"Ooh," I raised my hand, "I'd like that too. I don't want Ben to go to prison and I'd really like to avoid prison myself."

"I can't even being to describe how much I would love not to go to prison," Ben continued.

"Someone's got to go to prison Ben," Sadusky said.

"Not me!"

"We know," Mr. Gates sighed.

"Well if you've got a helicopter," Ben told him, "I think I can help with that."

--

"So Ian's really gone to prison?" I asked Ben a couple of months later.

"Yep," he answered, "they found him guilty. He won't get out anytime soon."

Riley and I had gone over to Ben and Abigail's new house. Ben was catching me up on Ian's trial while Riley was chatting on his cell phone. It was a beautiful old house, bought with the substantial reward we had all gotten for finding the treasure.

"You got it chief," Riley said into the phone, "thank you. Bye!" He hung up the phone.

"They want us in Cairo last week for the opening of the exhibit," Riley told us, "they're sending a private jet."

"That's fun," Abigail commented.

"Yeah big whoop," Riley sighed. "We could have had a whole fleet of private jets."

"We could have painted them with polka dots," I added.

"Ten percent Ben," Riley lectured, "they offered you ten percent and you turned it down."

"We've been over this," Ben said, "it was too much."

"There's no such thing," I countered. But it was a discussion we'd had before and I was ignored.

"I couldn't accept it," Ben said.

"I still have this splinter that's been festering for three months from an old piece of wood," Riley informed Ben holding his finger out.

"Yeah," I nodded, "I underwent intense mental trauma which has scarred me for life."

"Okay," Ben smiled, "I'll tell you what. The next time we find a treasure that redefines history for all mankind you make the call on finder's fee."

"This guy is funny," Riley said to me.

"He's mocking our pain," I agreed, "he's a monster."

"What do you care?" Riley said turning back to Ben. "You got the girl."

"It's true," Ben and Abigail agreed together before kissing.

"I am sickened," I confided in Riley.

"Rub it in," Riley said to the happy couple. "Enjoy your spoils, while Maggie and I sit on our one percent each."

Riley went over to his brand new sports car, which was as red and flashy as it was possible for a car to be. It was a convertible and he was able to hop in without opening the door.

"It really isn't enough," I agreed. "Hey will you give me a ride to the docks, I left my speed boat there." Riley nodded and I hopped in.

"One stinking percent," Riley muttered, "half of one percent actually. Unbelievable."

"I'm sorry for your suffering," Ben told us.

"For the record Ben," Riley said, "I like the house."

"It's neat," I agreed. "A little old, but still nice and big."

"You know," Ben said enthusiastically, "I chose this estate because in 1812 Charles Carroll met-"

"Someone that did something in history and had fun," Riley interrupted.

"Yadda yadda yadda," I added solemnly.

"Great," Riley put his sunglasses on and started the car, "wonderful. Could have had a bigger house," he said as he began to pull away.

"And the polka dot fleet of private jets," I added.

Riley drove down the driveway.

Then I woke up.

--

"Aww man," I moaned as Philo Farnsworth appeared, "why did you have to do that?" For the first time ever the ghost looked confused.

"Do what?" he asked.

"Wake me up," I replied, "that was an awesome dream! I would have loved to stay."

"You enjoyed the dream?" he asked looking even more confused. I nodded and he frowned looking distressed. "Why?"

"Duh," I rolled my eyes, "because I was rich! Sure it sucked when Ian was trying to kill us and the F. B. I. was trying to arrest us, but in the end we all became filthy freaking rich!"

"Well," Philo Farnsworth grinned in his horrible way, "I will be sure that it will not happen again."

And on this rather foreboding note I woke up.

The good news was that after I woke up they decided to send me straight home rather then going back to class. While this was excellent because I didn't have to be at school anymore, it was also really bad.

This was because my family was at home, and they were not overly pleased with me.

"First you yelled at a teacher," my mother ranted, "then you tell that crazy story to the school counselor! What about your future!"

"My future?" I asked confused.

"Yes," my mother continued, "they're going to remember this when it's time to write your college recommendation letter." This made no sense to me so I ignored her and went up to do my homework.

That night I lay down to go to sleep, giving up my brilliant, (yet exhausting), plan of beating the evil Philo Farnsworth by refusing to sleep. Once again I found myself staring at my DVD collection, wondering which of the innocent films I would be tortured in that night.

As I looked at the tittles I suddenly for the first time realized the appeal of Chick Flicks. If all of my favorite movies were Chick Flicks then I wouldn't be in danger of dying. With that I drifted off to sleep.

"Good news," Philo Farnsworth said without preamble, "I have found a movie where you will definitely not be rich!"

"You are a petty hallucination," I accused.

"I would much rather be petty then be absolutely insane like you are," he countered. "All the same even someone with as much insanity as you won't win the crazy award in your next movie."

I did not like the sound of that.

"You will be a cook-"

"A what?" I asked in a whiney voice.

"-on the spaceship Serenity."

"So that would make tonight's movie…"

"Serenity," he finished for me happily.

Author's Note:

Well thus ends the 5th night of Maggie's adventures. One year ago today I posted the fourth chapter in this story so I think this one might have been the longest in how long it took to write, (Pirates of the Caribbean still has the most chapters). Anyway I'd just like to once again thank everyone who has read and especially those who have reviewed. I really appreciate all of your support.

About the next movie, Serenity. It's not a really well known film. That said I can not recommend this movie strongly enough. This is, without a doubt, one of the best movies ever made. It is sci-fi so I was a bit reluctant to see it since there haven't been too many really good sci-fi movies made recently, (especially after the new Star Wars movies which I don't even like to think of since the REAL Star Wars movies were among my favorite movies as a kid). But I did see Serenity and I was blown away. I think it is rated PG-13, but it's really not that bad. If you give it a chance it is, (at least in my opinion), worth seeing. And if you like it you can watch Firefly, but that's a rant for another day since this rant has already gone on too long.

Oh! I almost forgot. To find the next Maggie story, (if you don't have author alert), you have to go into TV Shows, then Firefly.

Anyway, thanks again! Hope you have enjoyed the story!