SPIRIT STONE

by Sean Lewis



When my mom died, Grandpa moved down the road from us. He and my dad couldn't be in the same house, but Gramps knew his son needed him. And Gramps felt he had a lot to make up for.


"My son is a lost vestige," my Grandpa would say.


Grandpa is like an octagenarian Indiana Jones. His whole life has been about uncovering the Earth's secret treasures, though sometimes it's made him forget the ones at home. As a result, my dad has never seen eye to eye with him.


Grandpa went on digs when dad was my age. He wasn't ready for a little boy, I guess. And as a result, my dad turned his back on adventures decades ago. He found them a stupid waste of time. He'd come into my room and look at the posters on my wall-


The Pyramids.

The Temple of Montezuma.

The Catacombs of France.


"You're the only twelve-year-old with tombs on your wall. Can we get a football

poster on the walls, please?" He'd say.


But I wanted to be like Grandpa.


I remember overhearing him and my dad fight at night. It would take me a long time to sleep, missing mom, thinking about how she would put me to bed at night: the stories she would tell and the way she would touch my face.


I'd cry out, and Grandpa would come in and tell me mystical stories of places he visited. There was adventure and the hope of magic… and every once in a while, he'd talk about the places he still dreamt of going to.


"There is an island not far from here. It used to connect us to Asia when everything was ice. And the tribes there claim to have a stone that holds every animal humanity has lost, in its core."

"Extinct animals?" I'd ask.

"Yes."

"Whoa. Do you believe that, Grandpa?" SPIRIT STONE/ S. Lewis


"Hah. Not intellectually, no. It's probably impossible. But wouldn't it be amazing

if it were true?"


He'd smile through his beard at me, a twinkle in his eye, like a kid overgrown, and then he'd sneak out my room saying –


"Goodnight, intrepid traveler!"


"Goodnight, admirable adventurer!" I'd respond.


Downstairs, my dad would be waiting for him.


"I don't want you telling those types of stories to him."


"He likes them, Charley-"


"Charles!"


"I named you. There was no 's' on that birth certificate. 'Cause, there's nothing

playful about a boy named Charles. Besides, the boy likes the stories. They help

him go to sleep."


"They're fairy tales," my dad said. "They just make him dream about make-

believe."


"Is that so bad? He doesn't want to think of his mom at bed, Charley. Let him

dream a little."


I could hear a longer silence than usual, and my dad choked up-


"It's so unfair."


"I know."


"And the fact it makes me need you is that much worse."


I remember being at my bedroom door, seeing my Grandfather hang his head at those words. I had never seen anyone cow him in my life.


Except my dad. My dad was one treasure that could bring my Grandpa to his knees.


*


"Nathan? What is on your agenda today?"


It was summer vacation. My dad was obsessed with me getting a job. I was obsessed with other things-


"I'm going to the Windkill Foothills."


"Nathan… we've talked about this. You need a job."


I was already dressed for the day. Tan pants and shirt. Broad hat. Bag with digging shovel, canteen, and a small lunch.


"Why don't we think of today as an internship?"


"You're gonna be just like Adam. God help me."


I hated that-


"Why do you call grandpa 'Adam'?"


"You have to be a dad to be called 'dad.'"


"Wasn't he a dad when he came and stayed with us?"


"I'm not arguing about this with you."


Dad felt I always took Grandpa's side. It hurt him. When he was stung by it, I could always tell 'cause he would drop whatever else he was asking me.


"Whatever. I guess do what you want. I have to get to work."


Dad went to his study. He'd spend the next 8 hours looking at people's taxes. The numbers that make up family households instead of the artifacts.


I hopped on my bike and rode to the foothills.


*


The Foothills start at the backyard of my friend Martin's house.


He wears shorts, whether it's summer or winter, and has a great Australian outback hat he wears whenever we go into the woods. He started our school's bird club. Kids make fun of him for being heavy, but he chuckles at it himself. I think it bothers him, but it's just the path of least resistance. Plus, he's a science wizard.

Dano Marks joins us lately. He's strong and wasn't really interested in animals and artifacts before he met us. He just liked digging holes and chasing Martin with the shovel.


"What does your Grandpa think are buried here?" Dano asks.


"Bones. Pre-historic. He thinks maybe Sabretooth tiger bones. Maybe T-Rex."


"Dodo birds?" Asks Martin.


"Why are you so obsessed with Dodo birds? They were fat and flightless," I say.


"Yeah, just like Martin," Dano laughs. "He feels kindred."


"Hey, curse word you, Dano,” Martin responded. Dano and I laughed. Martin was

such a sweet kid he couldn’t even bring himself to say the ‘F’ word.


“They were actually incredibly agile and hard to catch,” Martin continued. “They

are vastly intelligent birds."


We dug for an hour. I found what looked like a fraction of a bone. It was long, a

hind leg, maybe. Sabretooth? I got so excited.


"I have to show my grandpa."


*


Of late, my Grandpa had been traveling off and on to that island he told me about

as a kid.


Macai.


He laughed when I asked if it was magical. But I wasn't convinced. My Grandfather almost always kept the possibility of things alive. So, him saying something was absolutely not magic was like having a Martin scratch his nose the two times we tried to play poker. But Gramps held firm. He found it "relaxing," he said. I kept asking if he'd do a dig, could I go along? But he'd just smile.


"Not yet, kiddo."


It might be the only time I felt what my dad did as a kid. Abandonment.


His house was close to the Foothills, so I led Martin and Dano on a shortcut. We rode down the old dirt pass until we hit the bridge near his house. Martin and I always came this way. It was off the road. Like a secret passage, no cars could make it across the terrain. It was bikes, feet, or nothing. We made it to my Grandpas and went inside with the tiger bone.

The place was a mess. Like someone had looted it.

"We should get out of here," Dano was shaking.


"I thought you were fearless?" Martin poked.


"Shut up. I'm out." Dano said, turning and sprinting back to his bike.


I was already a few steps in.


"Gramps?"


I looked around. Then I heard Martin whisper-


"Look at that!"


Martin pointed to a large map on the wall that I had drawn for my Grandpa. It was

ripped.


It was of Macai Island.


My Grandfather has early Parkinson's, so his hand can't stay steady. So, he had me

draw it for him from his description. I knew there was a hard copy in his desk. I

opened the bottom drawer and searched around.


Nothing.


But, Grandpa often hid things. I pushed on some soft floorboard beneath me, and the wood flipped like it was connected to a pivot. And there it was! The map and a piece of stone.


The Spirit Stone.


He had marked where he found this piece. I looked at the map and realized the stone was broken and on different parts of the island. My Grandfather was trying to put it back together!


If he'd found all the pieces of the Spirit Stone, that would mean the island would be filled with animals.


I grabbed the map and said to Martin-


"Let's get out of here."


The look on his face was terror. Which is when I realized someone was behind me-

"Give me that," I heard.


He was a burly guy, dressed in all black.


"There's kids! What you got there?" He reached for the map while grabbing me.

Martin took a flashlight and threw it at him, missing by a mile.


"Chubs," the man said, "I'll deal with you in a minute. Rogers!" He called to the next

room.


A slighter man moved from the hallway with a gun in his hand. I bit the burly one's meaty wrist, forcing him to drop the map. I grabbed it and made my way out the door.


The slight man tried to chase but stepped into the pivoting piece of floorboard and got his ankle stuck.


Martin had my bike up and ready. I hopped on, and we took off.


*


"Dad! Dad!"


He was in the study. His computer open, working excel sheets and accounts. He teaches companies how to think creatively about inevitable things: bankruptcies, dips in material costs, rises in income…


"What? What?" He said, mimicking me, without looking up.


"Grandpa's place is torn up. There were men there."


Now, I had his attention.


"What?"


"They were looking for a map of Macai Island. I have it. I think Grandpa is putting

the Spirit Stone together, and these men want it for some reason-"


He put his hand up and started dialing his phone. He knew the stories about Macai. He hated them. He wasn't even engaging with me now.


"Dad?"


"I'm talking to the police-"


I looked at Martin, who was waiting in the hallway.


"This is important, though! Dad?"


My dad pulled away, slightly frustrated, and I showed him the broken piece of the statue-


"You can't take evidence from the scene," he turned to the operator. "Yes, I need

you to check on my dad."


"Check on? I just told you what happened-"Dad waved me off.


I made my way to Martin and said quietly,


"You still have your rowboat?"


"Yeah, why?"


"Come on," I said.


"No, no, no. Going against parents' wishes isn't my thing!"


"Lucky you have me then."


We went.


*


Martin and I rode to his house. His mom and dad are still together and almost grossly affectionate. They're both athletic and svelte, and you often look at Martin and think, "hm, what happened to you?"


He always says that he's too well adjusted and loved by his parents to stay in shape. "Fat is what happens when you're delighted with yourself," he says.


"Hey, you handsome men, what are you up to?" His mom asked, her blonde hair

pulled up in a bun. She was gardening but looked stylish in red capris and a floral

print shirt.


"We're gonna take the rowboat out to Macai Island."


"Oh, that sounds fun. You need sleeping bags and marshmallows?"


"We're kind of in a hurry," I told her.


"But yes, we will take the marshmallows," Martin added.


We got the boat out, loaded up, and then heard-


"Hey, guys."


It was Dano.


"You abandoned us."


"I know. I'm sorry."


"You're our muscle."


He hung his head. And then asked-


"Where are you guys headed?"


"Macai Island."


Dano looked up.


"Can I come?"


Before I could answer, Martin called in to his mom.


"Ma, I think we need a second bag of marshmallows."


*


I head the boat. We are a few miles from Macai. I know from my Grandpa that fog will roll in at night, and I worry we could get lost if we don't beat it.


I imagined the men from Grandpa's house would be heading out here if they hadn't already. My plan was this: get to Grandpa and warn him. If these guys wanted the stone, he could just give it to them. It wasn’t worth risking more. God knows why they want the old rock anyway. Unless it really works.


Though, Martin and Dano did their best to temper my daydreams.


"Animals don't just appear."


"Dano's right. Especially not extinct animals. It would take gene splicing," Martin

says. "And there are so many problems with that. You mix their genes with a similar

animal. Who's to say it'll have enough of either to survive. And the ethics!"


Dano smacks Martin's head playfully.


"Give me another marshmallow."


"Very brazen since your track star routine at Gramps' house."


"I'll make up for it,” Dano grumbles. “I promise."


The air is cool above the water, and the sky is clear. We'll beat the fog, it seems, when I see something shocking, jumping from the water… It's only one, so I think my eyes are playing tricks on me.


"What is it?" Dano asks.


I point.


"You see that?" I ask.


Sprouting from the water is a small fish, but on its sides are wings, fluttering fast and keeping it in the air.


"What the- what is that?"


"Potanichthys," Martin says in awe.


He has all the animals memorized. He tracks fossil discoveries and one of these had been found in China a few years ago.


"It has an enlarged pair of pectoral fins that serve as wings and a forked tail that

generates the power needed to launch out of the water," Martin says, still shocked.


"Are they normal to have around here?" Dano asks.


"Yeah. 200 million years ago," I say.


Dano gives me a look. "WHAT? That's insane."


And then-


WHOOSH.


We see the reason the Potanichthys had been moving so quickly. A huge fish with a massive mouth, big enough to swallow our boat, leaps from underwater after it before crashing back into the depths.

"Tell me that was his friendly brother," Dano says.


We paddle like mad. The larger animal is crashing in and out of the water. It doesn't seem to be hunting us. Until, moments before we get to shore, it bursts from the water, overturning our rowboat.


Martin is trapped in the boat. Dano and I work on the seatbelt holding him in. But we can feel the beast swim around us. I take an oar and try and poke at it. And I swear I make eye contact with it. Looks like a small scar is below its lower eyelid. I wave my stick at it again, and it blinks, almost like a flinch.


I must seem as strange to this monster as it does to us. I swing with the oar again, and it swims off, unsure if we are on the menu or not.


We get Martin out of the boat and swim to shore.


*


We're wet and cold. We go to the edge of the woods and build a little camp. I break up some leaves while Dano uses a knife he carries to carve out a little bit of wood. Martin trolls the sides of the shore, picking up abandoned soda bottles and a garbage bag that has come to the sand.

"What are you doing?" I ask.


"You cold and thirsty?" He asks.


I nod.


"In the morning, this will let us drink and take a hot shower."


"How," I ask.


He fills the bottles and garbage bag with water from the beach. He then puts the bottles out where the sun will hit them and heat them up in the morning.


"Dano, can you get this garbage bag up onto one of these tree limbs?"


"Of course."


Dano takes the bag filled with water and climbs a nearby tree, positioning the body of the bag to face the sun.


"The garbage bag holds enough water that a small hole will make it drizzle. Bingo,

instant shower," Martin exclaims.

The kid knows science. He then adds-


"And the sun will heat up the water bottles decontaminating them, killing germs. A

nice morning drink!"


We go to bed. I can't help but think about the beast that capsized our boat. My dad thinks there has to be a logical answer to everything. He's an analyst. He sees everything as cause and effect. Loss and gain. Not adventure. Not magic.


I'm sure he's worried, me not being home. I feel guilty. He hates an empty house ever since mom died. II can't change that. I can just find Grandpa. I close my eyes and rest.


*


Back on the shore, our parents ARE going nuts. My dad has already made it to Martin's house. They've found the rowboat we were in, floating back toward the shore because of the tide. The police are called, but they don't think they can go anywhere until the morning at best. The fog is just too intense.


My dad decides to come find us on his own. Just like I felt, I had to see Grandpa. I guess we all have that in our blood. A necessity to find each other, even if it means we have to risk our lives.


He ignores the other parents, who say it's too dangerous, and he shoves off into the fog looking for his boy. A world he couldn't imagine waiting for him.


*


On the island, the following day, we're awoken by unfamiliar voices.


"I found a boat on the other side. East of here must be the old man's."


It's a group of three men. The burly and slight men we saw at my Grandfather's house. They call each other Doll and Critch. And their new addition is a bit older than them. He has a mustache and is dressed more refined, a trenchcoat covering his clothes. They call him Jurgens.


Names aside, they seem agitated.


"I swear to God, I get my hands on the old bastard after he leads us out here, I'll kill

him," Doll says, stomping about.


"Might not have to worry about it," Critch offers.


"What do you mean?"


"There was blood in the boat. A bunch."


"Son of a bitch. No stone?"


"No stone," offers Jurgens as he dusts some sand off his coat.


"Mr. Creeborn said the stone was more important than the man. We need to get

the stone to Creeborn for his private collection. HE PAID THE BILL FOR THE OLD

MAN TO SEARCH FOR IT. Now, it’s time to finish the deal."


Critch seems unbothered. He focuses on Jurgens while the hulking Doll starts to inspect the area by our shore.


"It's fine. That much blood, he's not going anywhere."


The men stop. They see the water bottles.


"What are those?" Jurgens asks.


"Water bottles. Out in the sun," Doll answers. Critch hits him.


"I think Jurgens is saying 'who put them there?'"


Dano, Martin, and I huddle together. We are a few feet from the tree where Dano had hung up the trash bag. Doll tosses the water and pulls out his gun.


"Hello?"


He looks down.


"Footprints. Kids size."


"Same ones from the Old Man's house?" Critch asks before Jurgen interrupts-


"Find them."


The men spread out, but then Doll sees where we were sleeping, looks at it, calls back to the others-


"We got something over here! "


Dano points at where Doll is standing. It's right under the garbage bag in the trees. I pick up a rock right as the goon spots us.

"You better have a hell of an arm if you're gonna hurt me with a rock."


I wind up and throw it. Not straight, but up, toward the bag.


POP. The rock goes right through the center, cascading boiling hot water from the garbage bag onto Doll's head and chest!


“AAAGGHHHHH.”


We run.


Jurgens and Critch fast behind us. The grass is tall and untamed but utterly gorgeous. It's like being chased through a paradise. We hit a patch of dirt, and it's so full of iron that the ground is bright red.


We move quick, the men following us getting caught in vines and branches. Martin and Dano follow me. Gramps taught me how to eye terrain. You look for the slightest of animal paths. They will be trampled down and easy to traverse.


Conversely, shortcuts in the true wild are dangerous. They lead to vines, hidden animals, ditches. Our pursuers are not equally minded. They keep getting caught taking those shortcuts. We finally give them the slip and come to a ravine.


A golden toad hops by my feet, and I pick it up.


"What is it?" Martin asks.


"These have been extinct for two decades."


And we see all the animals below us, running.


Ibexes.

Quagga.

Dodo Birds


All extinct species. It's a world of absolute beauty.


"Put your hands in the sky, you pieces of shit."


It's Doll. His face is already blistering. He has his gun drawn. It strikes me at that moment that all the animals below us are sprinting frantically. Which means they must be running from something.

"We shouldn't stand here," I say.


"You thought it was funny to burn me," Doll says.


Dano, Martin, and I see, right at that moment, what the other animals are running from.


A PAIR OF SABRETOOTH TIGERS.


There is one on the ground, chasing the Ibex, and there is one up by us, roaming right behind Doll.


"Any last words," Doll says to us as I nudge Martin and Dano, urging them to notice

a vine hanging near us.


"Yeah," I say, "Good luck."


Right then, the Tiger roars and leaps at Doll as we launch ourselves to the vine, the weight of our three bodies making it spin fast and out of control, Martin screaming-


"I'm not built for vines!"


"Throw your weight forward. We should be heavy enough to get to the ridge over

there, "I say.


We are trying to swing onto a ravine just above the earth floor. One Tiger is on the cliff above it, the other Tiger is below it, chasing Ibexes. We swing, trying to use our momentum to send us when-


Crack.


The vine snaps, and we tumble to the ground. Right before the Sabretooth on the floor. The Sabretooth stops chasing the Ibex and looks at us. It snarls, saliva dripping from its mouth when above us we hear gunshots, followed by a scream and a plop-


Doll's gun falls to the ground before us- the aftermath of his face off with the Tiger above. I grab the weapon. Martin thinks I will shoot the Tiger, and he says-


"Stop."


I don’t need to be told. I’d never shoot it. I fire in the air. The Tiger heeds this and runs, chasing the Ibex over the next ridge. We scramble into the brush and up the ravine. We get as far away as we can. Doll is gone, but the other two men are not.


Sabretooth's. Ibex. Gold Toads. Who knows what else is on this island.


*


"Think our parents are worried about us?" Martin asks.


"My dad is," I say. "Dano?"


"They don't even know I'm gone."


Dano always seems a bit directionless. Me and my dad clash, but Dano and his parents don't even connect. We are in a tall tree, like the Bilbao trees in East Africa. Unreal vegetation my Grandfather had shown me pictures of years ago. We know animals often hunt at night, so we don't want to be anywhere easy to reach.


"That was a sabretooth tiger we saw?" Martin asks.


"Yes," I say. "10,000 years ago, they were everywhere. "


Dano shakes his head.


"Jesus. I feel like I'm in a dream. And your Grandpa told you about this place?"


"He told me that he thought if he could get the spirit stone that belonged on the

island, he could see the animals again. There were legends about it in his old

books."


"Where would he have to bring the stone?" Martin asks.


"The Temple in the Hills."


*


The next morning, we wake and start to travel to the island of Macai. It's a clear day, the sky is an impossible blue, and there isn't a cloud around.


But birds. So many birds!


Passenger pigeons. The most friendly species ever. They got wiped out through hunting fifty years ago. One lands on my arm. And out on the water are several Great Auks. Early penguins! Jumping and playing in the water. Bits of Ice floating away from the shore. We touch it, and it's freezing cold. Nothing like the water on the side of the island we came from.


The shore is like a beach, and yet this patch of water is like the arctic!


Dano puts his foot in and runs back-


"Oh my God!"


"I know!" I say, splashing some on my face.


"It's freezing. Oh, man."


"If you swam in there, you'd get shocked," Martin says. "Your whole system would

probably shut down.


Up the hill, we could see the Temple.


"It'll take forever to get there," Dano said.


We don't know what will be in the brush either," Martin added.


Dano nodded.


"And the men tracking behind us."


"We need a horse," Martin said. "Or-"


From the water emerged three massive sloths. Each the size of an elephant, with armored plates on their sides and claws on their feet. They surround us and start bellowing. Dano dropped a guava fruit he had found-


"What is this?"


"Ground Sloths," I answered.


"They're huge."


They were kicking up on their hind legs, defensively. When one started to limp.


"Wait, one is in pain," I said.


It landed, and I held my arms up and started to approach it.


"What are you doing?" Asked Martin.


"Helping," I said.


I turned to the beast.

"I'm gonna help you, okay? Don't crush me. Just let me see-"


"Nathan, don't do it-" Martin exclaimed.


But I was already there. The Sloth held its paw out. Its claw was hooked on a net of some kind. The other sloths circled us. I kept talking to it-


"It'll be okay. I'm gonna help."


And I untangled the net. Dano and Martin held their breath the whole time until Dano just said-


"That's the bravest kid I have ever seen."


When I finished, I went and grabbed some fruit for the beasts. And then we climbed them.


"What are you doing?" Martin said.


"You said we needed a horse for that mountain. Here's your horse."


*


Dad had landed on our side of the shore an hour or so later. The fog had thrown him off course, though no sea beasts had threatened him. He was starting to realize how over-matched for some of this he really was.


He hopped out of the water near shore and dragged his boat to land. Then he saw the footprints: kids' shoes mixed with adults and at least one spent bullet casing.


He armed himself with an oar and rushed into the forest. He was a few hundred feet in when he heard a huge shaking in the brush. Something he'd never heard before. Something impossible.


Not the Sabretooth tiger, no. This would make even those beasts flee. He saw-


A Titanboa.


A snake that last existed just after the Dinosaurs died out. It’s fifty feet long, one ton in weight. And it was moving.


Dad literally felt his chest start to explode. Pure fear. He hid behind a tree. And felt his foot dip into the Earth there.


It was a hole. Not naturally made, someone had dug this. The snake was slithering near him now. Dad did the most ridiculous thing he could think of:

He threw the oar a few feet away from him to try and trick the monster into thinking he was running. It did not work. The Titanboa was bearing down on him, and dad did the one thing available to him. He ducked into the hole.


The snake followed, smashing its jaw as deep into the opening as it could before being stopped. Forcing dad to trudge on into unexpected darkness.


*


Up the hill, the sloths were making surprisingly good time. Until-


"Tigers."


Dano spotted them first. The two Sabretooth Tigers we had seen chasing the Ibex. We had stumbled into their territory. The sloths let out screams to try and warn the Tigers to back off. The one Martin was riding kicked up its back legs, sending Martin to the ground.


The first Tiger saw the opening and immediately went for Martin. Martin started to run, but it was futile. He was cornered. The Tiger was slowly stalking forward when-


CRACK.


Dano threw a freakin' boulder of a rock at the Tiger's head, falling short but crashing onto the animal's tail. It yelped and spun around swinging, cutting through Dano's shirt and cutting part of his chest.


I circled my Sloth. Baiting the Tiger until it charged forth. The Tiger snarled and swung, cutting the Sloth but getting knocked over and trampled in the process.


Martin was crying. Dano was now the focus of the Tiger he had hurt. Dano was backing away now, picking up a stick, swinging it in front of him. The Sloth I was on was hobbled, while the other two who'd carried us had taken off.


I climbed down off the Sloth and put myself between Dano and the Tiger.


"What are you doing?"


"I'll try and talk to it the way I did the sloth," I said before turning my attention to

the second Tiger. "We are not here to hurt you-"


The Tiger growled, sending Martin into a more profound panic.


"Just let us leave your territory, and it's all yours. We're friends-"

"No, we're not," Dano said, clutching his cut shoulder.


And with that, the Tiger started to pounce and-


SWISH.


A dart hit its side-


SWISH. SWISH. Another and another.


It kept rushing forward and then-


And then BAM.


It dropped to its side.


"What the-?" Dano exclaimed.


Martin was still a mess. He was just pointing and repeating-

"Nathan… Nathan… Nathan…"


I turned to where he was pointing and saw him-


"Grandpa?"


There Gramps was a few days of extra beard and some dirt on his face, a tranquilizer gun in his hand.


"Well, this is a mess," he says. "Let's get you and your friends, human and sloth,

somewhere we can tend to them."


*


It didn't take long for Dad to realize he wasn't alone in the tunnel. He didn't know their names yet, but Critch and Jurgens were gathered together.


"All this for an old man," Critch complained.


"That Old Man took money from Mr. Creeborn to help fund his expeditions around

the Spirit Stone," Jurgens responded. "He owes the stone to his benefactor. And he

refused to give it up."


"How'd you even know?" Critch asked as dad snuck closer to their darkened voices.


"Well, Mr. Creeborn has a strong interest in this island," said Jurgens. "And the

mystical. He saw a bird from his yacht and knew immediately that he had not been

properly told by the Old Man about what was going on."


"He knew it from a bird?" Critch asked.


"Well, it was a bird that died out nearly a thousand years ago. So, yes. Creeborn was

sure there was a problem."


Dad was aghast. These men had guns, and clearly, Grandpa had gotten Nathan into a level of trouble neither of them could even fathom. He needed to get out of there and find his son.


He stepped quickly and lost his footing.


"What's that?" Critch grabbed for his gun.


"Up there," Jurgens had spotted dad as he scrambled back to where he'd been

standing.


"Grab him."


Dad ran back down another tunnel. The men fast behind him.


*


Gramps took us into the brush. The Temple towering on the top of a mountain above us. I touched his arm. A long scar was running down his forearm to his wrist.


"On the sail out, there was a baby Megalodon. I cut it under its eye when it came at

me, though. Put a little fear in him."


He was talking about the cut under the eye of the sea beast that capsized our boat!

Grandpa had done it to the animal. No wonder it was scared of me when I swung my oar at it!


"And your friend here is pretty brave, as well."


Gramps was administering some first aid to Dano. His cuts weren't too deep.


"After running away when we saw the guys at your house, Mr. Quartermaine, I knew

I had to make up for it," Dano said.


We tended to the lone Sloth with us, and then Grandpa and I got to be alone.

"The stone did all of this?"


"It did."


"How do those men know about it?"


Grandpa got quiet.


"Gramps."


“This is the treasure I have searched for my whole life. The idea that animals we

caused the death of could return. It seemed amazing. I needed money and had

heard of a collector. Creeborn. I reached out to his business manager Mr. Jurgens

and received money with no questions. I took it.”


“What do they want?”


“A private collection. A chance to breed the animals as monsters and oddities. They

want to use them for profit or destruction. I found this out, before I found the last

piece. But I was so close-“


And then, I heard from behind us.


"And then the devil made you do it? Wouldn't you say, Mr. Quartermain?"


We all hopped to attention. It was Jurgens. With more men and, more importantly- with my dad. Beaten up and hurt.


"Dad?!"


My Grandpa held me back.


"Our employer Mr. Creeborn," Jurgens said, "is coming to collect. And you will give

him what he has paid for."


My grandpa and this man Jurgens talked about Creeborn like the devil himself. I didn’t like what he could do with a stone this magical. I knew I had to get dad and my friends out of here. But I couldn't leave these forgotten animals to men like this.


I tightened my fist and nodded to the others. We needed to escape these men and brave the rest of this island's animals to secure the stone. My father and my grandpa would have to work together. My friends would have to be braver than they ever imagined.


And I’d have to bring us all together. Like mom would have wanted me to.

Everyone else came for the Spirit Stone. But the artifact I came to uncover was my family.


And it starts now.


-------

SEAN LEWIS is an actor, writer and director born and raised in NY. He is the co-creator and writer of the comic books SAINTS, THE FEW, COYOTES and THUMBS published by Image Comics. He can be heard as a commentator on NPR’S THIS AMERICAN LIFE and most recently he directed the television series ADULT ED., which premiered at the TriBeCa Film Festival and currently streams on Fearless.