From the Journals of Rudy McCafferty
by: Richard Clark
CHAPTER 1: The missing idol
Tall wild grass shimmered in the brisk mountain wind. Silence… too much silence… then – HACK! – a machete carved its way through the grass. Wielding the huge blade was a lean, strong man, his face in the shadows. He swiped the machete once more, revealing a stunning sight:
The ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu.
Stone ruins, majestic still, rose from their overgrown foundations. C.J. Drake stepped into the light, looking up at the ruins deep in the heart of Peru’s Andes Mountains. A world-famous archeologist, Drake was struck by the city’s ageless beauty. His gaze was hard and intense, though a childlike curiosity lurked within.
A smaller man followed – Arguelo, wearing a filthy white linen suit. Shuffling, tired, head hanging low, he panted, “Can’t we rest a bit? I brought snacks!” But when he looked up, he gasped. The sight of Machu Picchu filled him with renewed strength.
Arguelo eagerly joined Drake cutting through more tangled weeds. Eventually, they came upon an crumbling stone arch built right into the mountain. Drake’s eyes gleamed. It was the entrance to an ancient temple.
“The Shrine of Atahuelpa,” Drake said with awe as he studied the primitive markings on the arch. After many years, his quest had finally led him here. This was the moment he had been waiting for.
The two men slowly entered with a mix of fear and excitement. In an outer chamber, Drake shined his flashlight at the scattered stones and overgrowth. But an unsettled feeling crept up on him.
“Something’s missing…” he uttered under his breath, even though he had just started his search. He couldn’t explain it, even to himself. It was just a sense that something was wrong.
CRASH! – A suit of armor tumbled to the rocky floor. Arguelo jumped. Drake whipped over his light to see. The bones of a human skeleton scattered with the armor.
Arguelo lifted up the helmet, the skull rattling inside. “Spanish. One of Pizarro’s men.”
Drake was intrigued. He searched more with his light, finally coming upon a small opening. Crouching down, he stepped inside this second chamber.
The damp smell struck him first, then a pleasant coolness. The room was dark except for a piercing shaft of sunlight that shined down from a crack in the craggy rock ceiling. The light illuminated an earthen pedestal, standing right in the middle of this mysterious inner sanctum.
But the pedestal held nothing.
Drake’s gaze fell. “I could feel it wasn’t here,” he said as he turned away and slumped to the ground. He’d hunted across the globe for the Earth Goddess, a solid gold sculpture of a woman’s head wearing jewelry and a tribal headpiece. It was the one sacred Incan relic that Conquistador Francisco Pizarro hadn’t melted down into gold bars back in 1532.
Drake crawled back to the outer chamber to share the bad news with Arguelo – but then he spotted a crumbling map in the armored skeleton’s hand. “What’s this?” he wondered, pulling the map slowly from the dead man’s bony grasp. He opened the brittle paper slowly, careful not to tear it. Looking closely at the faded markings, he spotted a line drawn from Peru to an area that had since become Southern California.
Drake smiled. “Arguelo, my friend, how’d you like to visit sunny California?”
CHAPTER 2: Rudy’s journal, May 5
My teacher said we’re supposed to keep a journal about what goes on in our lives. Talk about a boring homework assignment! What am I supposed to write? – Got up, went to school, got sent to the Principal’s office, blah, blah, blah. If your life’s as boring as mine, you don’t want to write about it. But I’m almost flunking out, so here goes nothing.
My name’s Rudy. Rudy McCafferty. I’m ten years old. I live in Loma Grande, California. I go to MacGuffin Elementary School, Fifth Grade, Mrs. Timmerman’s class. It’s alright, I guess. My mom’s name is Emily, but I just call her Mom. My dad lives in Virginia. I see him sometimes, but the last time was Christmas, and I kind of miss him.
Okay, what else? We live in a house, me and my mom. And sometimes Ken. Ken is my mom’s boyfriend. Why do they say “boyfriend” even when someone is old? Anyway, Ken’s probably 40. That’s old. He’s the Mayor of Loma Grande, and he also sells used cars. “Previously owned cars,” he says. Always rubbing my hair or pinching my cheek like I’m a dog or something. I know Mom likes him and all, but I wish Dad would come back. I don’t think that’s gonna happen, though. My mom and Ken are supposed to get married next month. Yuck.
Oh, one cool thing. They just opened this big mall a few blocks away, the Loma Grande Mall. It’s kind of neat. It’s only been open a week, but there’s these storm drains that go under the parking lot, and they’ve been there ever since they started construction. I like to go in there and pretend I’m on some kind of archeological dig, like on the Discovery Channel or something.
Like yesterday, at the storm drains I found this suction dart thing, you know, the kind you shoot from a toy gun? And the end was sticky, so I smelled it – cherry kool-aid. So I’m like, “Brilliant archeologist Rudy McCafferty detects the dart was dipped in cherry kool-aid, the unmistakable signature of the Red Panthers, headed by world-renowned weasel and school-wide bully, Ralph Tarkanian, the stupidest kid at MacGuffin Elementary.”
But then Ralph actually jumped out of nowhere and grabbed me! He dragged me down the tunnel to his stupid friends, Mike and Greg, hanging out under a manhole cover. Greg was sticking his finger out one of the finger holes, and some car ran right over it up in the parking lot! He was all, “Owww! That hurt!” but Ralph and Mike just cracked up. So I cracked up too, but Greg didn’t like that. He spit on a suction dart and aimed it at my forehead. If that thing hit me – gross! So I ducked, and instead it got Ralph right between the eyes! Splat!
I took off really fast, but the three idiots were right on my tail. I had to drop some dead weight in the tunnel (my books), and that tripped the guys up. I’m pretty fast when I want to be, so I made it out of there okay. (But what am I going to tell Mom about the books? Maybe I won’t tell her. She doesn’t like it when I lose my books. It happens kind of a lot.)
I got home safe. Then I saw my favorite magazine was there, Dig. It’s this archeology magazine. I wanted to just tear into it, but first – dinner with Mom and Ken.
Ken was all, “I’m at this photo opp with the Boy Scouts today, and the scoutmaster tells me he’s been buying Kleeger’s Previously Owned Cars since 2004. Says that’s why he voted for me!” Then Ken said I should join the boy scouts instead of snooping around in storm drains all the time. Yeah, right, me a boy scout. Amateurs.
Besides, storm drains are fun! I like reading the graffiti on the tunnel walls and searching for lost stuff. I want to do stuff like that when I grow up, just like this guy they do stories about in my magazine. His name is C.J. Drake, and he goes all around the world looking for old buried treasures and artifacts and all. He was in China, Egypt, even Siberia, I think. Sometimes he just disappears for months, and nobody can catch up with him. What a cool job!
So I ate really fast, and I ran to my room with my magazine. And there was an article on C.J. Drake! Wow, he made it to the Andes Mountains in Peru!
1. C.J. Drake was in Machu Picchu, an ancient:
a) Mayan city
b) Incan city
c) Aztec city
2. What did they discover that was built right into the mountain?
a) a hidden city
b) a secret pathway
c) the entrance to an ancient temple
3. Why was Drake feeling unsettled as they entered the outer chamber?
a) he was afraid they were going to be attacked
b) he felt there was something missing
c) he was worried about evil spirits
4. Who did the suit of armor belong to?
a) Drake’s assistant
b) an Inca warrior
c) one of Pizarro’s men
5. Why was Drake disappointed when they entered the inner sanctum?
a) the gold sculpture of a woman’s head was missing
b) the treasure chests were missing
c) the gold and jeweled throne was missing
6. What made Drake decide to go to California?
a) the weather was better there
b) his family lived there
c) a map held by the skeleton’s hand directed them there
7. Who does Rudy live with?
a) the Incas
b) C.J. Drake
c) His mom
8. What is taking place near Rudy’s house?
a) There is a new skateboard park opening
b) a new mall is opening
c) a new restaurant is opening
9. Why is Rudy happy about this?
a) he can go down in the storm drains under the parking lot
b) he likes to go shopping
c) the new restaurant has Mexican food, which is his favorite
10. How does Rudy know C.J. Drake?
a) Drake is his uncle
b) they are old friends
c) he reads about Drake in a magazine