And here’s the (somewhat tepid) climax and conclusion of this teenage literary masterpiece. To read previous installments, click on the “Trapped!” category above the post title.
Meanwhile, in the Silverstreak Mine, Hartfour and the Ron guy have spent two hours wandering deeper into the mine trying to find a way out. Another beam falls just behind them, blocking their way back to the collapsed entrance. Jeremy remarks on it with a sigh. By the way, Sarah’s hurt foot seems to be holding up okay at the moment. It’s pretty inconvenient to have a broken foot when you’ve got walking to do, so it’s useful if you can just ignore it.
They sit down to rest. Daryl is flicking the flashlight all over the place, and Amy spots another track across the gully. Ronny says that if they can get over to it, they can take it back to the entrance. Amy asks how they’re supposed to get to it, Ronny snaps back at her, Daryl yells at Ronny for talking like that to Amy, Sarah tells everybody to cool it, Jeremy snaps at her, Daryl goes all caveman about “pesky girls,” Sarah lashes back with “pesky, hot tempered, stupid boys!”
(My dialogue shows an uneven influence of contemporary young adult books, stories written in the 60s, and C.S. Lewis.)
Then we pause this moment for Sarah to reflect on how bad she feels anytime Jeremy and Ronny fight. She also realizes that Amy is jealous about Daryl, but didn’t Amy realize that Sarah and Daryl were simply good friends? Daryl would laugh at the idea of being with Sarah. Besides, Sarah already has enough boy troubles. I’m very good about bringing things back to what’s really important.
Back to the action, they’ve discovered a huge iron hook hanging from, um, somewhere above. In fact, Daryl is swinging on it. Over the deep gully, presumably. I’m kind of seeing how all the adults in my stories turn out to be idiots.
“We can swing across,” he was saying. But Sarah heard a sickeningly familiar sound. A cracking.
“Beam!” she yelled. “Get off, Daryl!”
Too late. The beam fell. It hit the hook. Daryl fell. Amy screamed.
Then a huge pile of dirt fell. It hit the track, which swayed, then crumbled.
That was the last Sarah remembered.
Uh, oh. Please hurry with your crazy idea, Jill!
This chapter has a clammy-palm sense of panic to it. Not so much the action, which consists mostly of Jill gathering up her friends to launch her “plan.” But the author, who had no idea what this plan was, why it was crazy, and how it was supposed to rescue anybody, sure was in suspense.
Jill gets permission from her dad, who is an idiot, to help look for her friends. Then she goes from house to house collecting Lynn, Susey, and Care (whose name was really Caren, but she’s a tomboy so… anyway, moving on.) I mention in passing that Jill called everybody by their first names, even adults. That’s how crazy she was, whew.
(Susey got permission to go with Jill and the others to go to this town an unidentified distance away because “her mother wanted so much for Susey to be well liked. The whole family was like that.”)
Lynn was the hardest sell.
“And how will you search the mine?”
Jill told them the plan.
“Jill Carver! That’s crazy!” Lynn exclaimed when she’d finished.
Dang it, Jill! Speak up! The author couldn’t hear your plan!
The plan seemed to hinge on a balanced equation; as Susey pointed out, there were five kids stuck in the mine, and only four of them. So they asked Lizzy if she’d join them. This was a big moment for this set of characters. Lynn and Lizzie had been friends, but then Lizzy joined snobby Susan’s group and they hadn’t spoken since.
But Jill was willing to bury the hatchet now. A line that reminds me of one of my favorite authors, Ellen Conford, who wrote the exchange, “She’s ready to bury the hatchet.” “Yeah, in my head.” I think the influence is obvious.
Anyway, they get Lizzy on board just in time to be picked up by Lennie, the Carvers’ chauffeur in a white limo. Jill is really rich, by the way; her dad owns an oil company, and his headquarters are in the very same town where the mine is. You can’t accuse Jill of not making the most of coincidences.
Lennie mentions casually that another part of the mine has caved in. “The whole thing is expected to soon.”
Jill was glad that she was crazy. If not, she’d have backed out right then.
Come on, Jill, stop being so coy. Let me in on this plan! Readers are depending on me to tell this story!
But the chapter closes with that.
Sarah comes back to consciousness to see Amy crying. Again, if your story has inconvenient elements like “total darkness,” you can just ignore them to keep things moving.
“Amy! What’s wrong?” Sarah cried. Amy whirled around.
“Sarah! You’re okay!” she yelled.
“What happened?” Sarah asked faintly.
“You fainted right before we fell.” Amy wiped away another tear. “I can’t find the boys—any of them. Especially Daryl!”
I guess Amy knew Sarah had fainted because Sarah’s adverb clued her in. Also, notice that I’m not one of those authors who risks having her readers forget anything. Amy’s especially worried about Daryl because he’s her boyfriend, got it? Good!
Poor Amy has been sitting there crying for “a few hours.” But now that Sarah’s awake, they start digging around in the dirt. They find Ronny, who has a big cut across his forehead. Amy says that if they clean it up, it might wake him up too, and wasn’t there water around here? Sarah hears it and reaches for the flashlight, but it’s smashed.
“Wait!” Sarah said, excited. “I can see you! And Ronny! There’s light somewhere!”
Ha! I bet you think I wrote this line because I realized the problem and had to fix it.
But Amy, who now can think rationally now that Sarah is with her, says they need to clean up Ronny and find the others before they look for the source of the light. She goes to look for the water, and Sarah uncovers Jeremy.
(I don’t know why people make such a big deal out of things like avalanches. Obviously all you have to do is just move a little dirt and “a heavy beam.”)
But Daryl is still missing.
Amy is caring for Ronny, and Jeremy wakes up to find out that he has a broken arm. By the way, Sarah’s hurt foot is doing great, thanks for asking.
“Daryl?” Jeremy inquired next.
“Hungry,” Daryl said, walking up behind Jeremy.
“Daryl!” Sarah cried.
“Daryl?” Amy’s voice said through the grayness made by some unknown source of light.
Ha! Fixed it AGAIN!
Daryl explains, “I landed first, you know. I wasn’t hurt, and didn’t waste time. I ran before it all fell on me.”
Can we take Sarah aside here and suggest that she ditch the hunky boys and find somebody with a sense of humor and a clear head like Daryl?
They find one another again by the stream—hey, I was kind of clever to put water there! Never mind that they didn’t think to pack water. But they do have food, thanks to the fact that Sarah is still wearing that backpack.
“Don’t you have some sandwiches in your pack?” Daryl asked.
“No,” Sarah answered. She took out a plastic bag. In the faint light, they could see it was flat. “I have a bologna pancake.”
For the first time in hours, they all laughed.
A lighthearted moment as the dire situation closes in around them.
Up on the surface, Jill and her crew have put The Plan into motion. They’re tracking down other teenagers to find information about their lost friends. The adults didn’t think of doing this, because they’re idiots.
They talk to somebody named Bridgetta Parker, who wasn’t mentioned before and never gets mentioned after this chapter. But for her moment of glory, she gets a full 15-letter name. Not only did she see the five missing friends, but she knows a secret way into the mine. Of course, Jill’s dad ordered her to not go into the mine, but hey, this is Crazy Jill we’re talking about!
She crawls into the hole. It gets wider as she crawls, then it just “dropped off to a huge gully below.” The Huge Gully is practically another character by now.
Then Jill launches the climax of her amazing plan.
Jill eased herself onto the rickety track. “Sarah!” she called. “Amy, Daryl, Jeremy! Oh, and Ron! The mine is falling! Can you hear me!”
So her plan was to find a different way into the mine and call their names and hope they answer? Heck, I could have thought of that myself!
“Jill Estelle Carver!” It was her Dad, and he sounded mad. “Get up here!”
Jill crawled up, but not before she heard some one call, “Hey, you! Where are you? Hey!”
Jill was going to answer, but her father roared again,
“Jill Carver! Get up here!”
Jill glumly crawled out. Her father jerked her up.
“I told you to stay out! But you just go right ahead!”
“Dad! Wait! They’re in there! I heard Sarah!” Jill pleaded.
“You go home tonight. I can’t trust you,” Mr. Carver growled.
“Mr. Franky! I hear someone!” Lizzy exclaimed. Mr. Carver bent down by the hole.
“Mr. Franky” sounds incredibly weird to most people, is my guess. I admit that “Franky” is a pretty awful name for an oil tycoon. But it was very common in my Deep South town to call adults by “Mr.” or Ms.” and first name, and at the time I thought it was a universal thing.
“Please! Somebody! This is Sarah!”
I like how she doesn’t bother to use her last name, or identify anybody else with her. The Queen of the T.N. doesn’t need to do that.
And it filters through Franky Carver’s thick layer of idiocy that something must be done.
“Get someone out here!” Mr. Carver ordered. Bridgetta was off like an arrow.
Ah ha! That’s why he’s even here! Bridgetta Parker is a fink. Also, seeing as he sends her off for help, he’s evidently of the opinion that you shouldn’t send a man to do a ten-year-old’s job. That’s probably wise in this particular version of the world.
Lynn yells into the hole and gets an answer from Sarah, who this time identifies everyone, gives an update of everyone’s status, and adds, “Oh, and my ankle is sprained.”
Then the police came. They notified the fire station and the hospital. Jill slipped away unnoticed. She had a great idea.
On par with this brilliant crazy plan she just executed, I guess.
While the fire department took “at least half an hour” to get the hole big enough for two people to go through, I wrapped up a few plotlines down in the mine:
Amy had finally realized that she wasn’t loosing [sic] Daryl. And Ronny and Jeremy didn’t fight anymore.
Maybe they’d live happily ever after, after all.
The mine obligingly stopped collapsing long enough for the kids to be pulled up via “a hook.” As each kid emerged from the mine, he or she laughed. Sarah was dying to know what was so funny. When she finally made it to the surface, she saw her parents waiting for her.
When she looked behind her mother, though, she saw what was so funny.
All thirty-something of the kids were there. The entire Three Neighborhoods, thanks to Jill.
This was living happily ever after.
I like how they don’t have cell phones yet, but evidently have access to a massive-transport teleporter. That crazy Jill!
Post-adventure wrap-up, everybody making funny remarks about everybody else’s injuries. Ronny has nine stitches across his forehead. Amy has a cast on her sprained arm, Jeremy has a broken wrist, and Sarah wears a cast on her fractured foot. Because her foot is hurt, now that she has time for it.
Daryl escaped unscathed, so he makes fun of everybody else. But they do blame the whole thing on him, since he ran into the mine first.
Then Sarah makes a grand announcement: She’s moving back to Perridale!
“Mom said that since I wasn’t happy here, she had a great present for Christmas, which was Perridale!”
Because it’s all about Sarah.
But she does realize that she’ll be leaving Ronny in the lurch. But Ronny dismisses her apology… because he’s moving to the Three Neighborhoods too! He’s going to live with Jeremy! Which is kind of awkward, because Jeremy and his mother already live with Daryl’s family! But that’s okay, it’ll work out, since Ronny doesn’t want to live with his mom anymore because she never has any time for him! As the author ends the chapter:
Talk about happy endings!
But see, the author really really loved her characters and had a hard time saying goodbye. (Peter Jackson stole that from me too.)
So the last chapter features our heroes exchanging quippy remarks in Amy’s bedroom. And then Susan the snobby girl walks through the door, where Sarah has rigged a bag of flour to fall on her. I tell you what, it’s no joke to be brained by a bag of flour. They’re lucky they didn’t give her a concussion.
Susan is incensed, so she and Sarah exchange their customary barbed remarks. Then Sarah drops an even bigger bomb than the flour: she’s moving back to Hartford Drive. Susan is horrified.
They “declare Neighborhood War.” For faithful readers (me), this is a neat little circle: the very first Sarah story featured a Neighborhood War. Sarah is back in the Three Neighborhoods and she’s ready to establish her dominance again.
“I think I’m going to like it here,” Ronny said.
“Who doesn’t?” Amy laughed. “Who doesn’t?”
Sarah and her friends endure the harrowing experiences of boy troubles, snobby enemies, moving away from friends, oh and also nearly dying in a mine… but ultimately find a happy ending.
I bet if I wrote these stories as a manifestation of my personal fantasies, I’d be really pleased with how this one turned out.
Thanks for joining me.