|"Kyle, you've really done it this time," a blue Lupe muttered
to himself as he hung on a root high in the cliffs of Mystery Island. One wrong
move and he'd fall into the ocean below.
"This is getting boring," said Hobbes, a red
Kougra. "We nearly die every day because of you. You're constantly looking for
the Ghost Lupe."
"Look!" whispered Kyle.
Hobbes glanced up and saw the faded image of
a Lupe. It was misted gray with red eyes. Could it be the Ghost Lupe? Strangely,
Kyle wasn't scared. He felt warm... but then he fell!!!
Suddenly, the ghostly Lupe dived after them!
It drew out a rope and threw it to Kyle and Hobbes and pulled. Once safely back
on land, Kyle turned to thank the Lupe... but he was gone!
"He was sure in a hurry!" Kyle muttered.
"Yeah, but it looks like all our searching finally
paid off," said Hobbes.
"Not exactly," said Kyle. "I was hoping for
a bit more than that."
"Well, at least we know the legends are true,"
added Hobbes reassuringly. They walked home, each deep in thought.
When Kyle reached the comfort of his home he
grabbed some Chia Treats and sat down at his desk to reread his copy of the
Gallery of Evil. As the sun set outside his window, he couldn't shake the vision
of the misted gray figure from his mind. The Gallery told much of the Lupe's
ferocity and quest for revenge, but little of the exact circumstances that had
led him to this sad existence. How had his bride, Lavinia, been kidnaped? Why
had they been on the island? Where was she buried? Was she left handed? Well,
he could probably survive without ever finding the answer to that last question.
Before long, his head drooped and he fell asleep on his desk, drooling all over
The next morning, he awoke (on top of his soggy
copy of the Gallery of Evil), dressed quickly, and wolfed down a broccoli and
sausage omelette. He then rushed off to Hobbes' house.
"Ready to go back to the cliffs?" Kyle asked
"Why not? I finished writing my will just last
night," answered a sarcastic Hobbes.
An hour later they were hiking the steep route
up to the cliffs when something caught Hobbes' eye. A gray tail was poking out
from behind a tree. Hobbes yanked Kyle aside and pointed. Could they be so lucky?
Quickly and quietly they moved from tree to tree, approaching what they assumed
was the Ghost Lupe. But it had moved!
"Wait, look there!" said Kyle. There now appeared
to be a large gray paw some fifty feet ahead of them. They continued stalking
the Lupe, treading lightly on the crushed brown leaves under their feet. But
again, he had moved. They continued in the same direction, catching glimpses
of their quest now and then, until they came on a large clearing. The Ghost
Lupe was nowhere to be seen. Right in the middle of the clearing, however, was
a bottle containing some sort of potion. It was labeled "VI" and was wrapped
in the branches of a solitary rose bush.
"You don't suppose you-know-who left it?" started
"Probably," said Kyle. "Let's take it back home
and study it." Kyle leaned down and picked up the bottle, pricking his finger
on one of the thorns. A strange sensation came over him and then quickly subsided.
All the way home the two brainstormed about
the contents of the bottle.
"If he had wanted to kill us, he could have
done that any time," said Kyle.
"Yeah," cautioned Hobbes, "but you don't just
go drinking every strange potion you find in the jungle! There's no telling
what's in there. It doesn't have an expiration date, so I say we have a good
look at it before we go pouring it over our NeoCrunch."
"Maybe," answered Kyle. "Maybe."
Before they went their separate ways, Kyle poured
half the potion into a measuring cup that Hobbes had brought out from his house.
"Hope my owner isn't making a cake any time
soon," joked Hobbes. "I'll see what I can find out about this using my chemistry
set. If it's poison, we'll know soon enough."
"Okay, see you in the morning, dude!" called
Kyle as he headed for home.
Once inside, Kyle's finger began to throb. He
ran it under some cold water and dabbed it with antiseptic. Kyle took a long,
hot bath, letting the day's tensions wear off. His mind wandered, and drifted
in and out of consciousness. The bottle. What was in the bottle? Surely it was
a gift from the Ghost Lupe, something to make him stronger or faster, or heal
the weariness he now felt in his bones. He started feeling dizzy and he grabbed
on to the side of the tub.
"Wow, I've got to snap out of this!" said Kyle
as he rose from his bath and began to dry off. He dressed and went downstairs
to the kitchen. As he reached for some herbal tea, his mind went back to the
bottle. "It couldn't hurt to put just a little in my tea, could it?" He brewed
the tea, the room filling with a pleasant aroma. His head became more and more
clouded. He filled his cup with tea, and went and got the bottle they had found
that afternoon. He was about to pour the substance when Hobbes burst into the
"IT'S POISON! DON'T DRINK IT!!!"
Hobbes slapped the bottle out of Kyle's hand,
and they watched it shatter on the floor and the liquid begin to smoke, boil,
and then disappear.
"Good timing," said Kyle. "I can't explain it,
but I had this strange feeling. I just HAD to drink what was in the bottle."
"None of this makes any sense," said Hobbes.
"First he saves us, then he tries to kill us -- with poison? What next?"
"I don't know, but I'm going back into that
jungle tomorrow," said Kyle as he collapsed into a chair. By now, even Hobbes
was becoming interested in the quest. Nothing added up. Something was missing.
What was it?
The sun beat down as they entered the jungle
once more. They worked their way along the path where the ghostly encounter
"Look!" said Kyle, pointing to a paw print clearly
visible in the dry mud. "Isn't this where we first saw the tail?"
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure it is," answered Hobbes.
"But look, it has four toes instead of three!"
Kyle, never having given the number of toes
he had much thought, picked up his foot to count: "One, two, three... HEY! How
come you knew that and I didn't?"
"There's a reason I get better grades than you
in school, Kyle," said Hobbes. "There's something mighty strange going on here.
Ghosts don't leave footprints, and especially not with the wrong number of toes!"
"Maybe that's why the Ghost Lupe is so mad at
the world. He has funny feet," joked Kyle.
"Where to now?" said Hobbes.
"Follow the funny feet!" declared Kyle.
Kyle and Hobbes followed the trail left by the
"Ghost" Lupe into the clearing and beyond. It led deeper and deeper into the
hot, humid jungle.
"I'm kind of surprised we didn't see all these
broken branches and footprints yesterday," whispered Hobbes.
"I guess we had a lot on our minds-besides,
we were having a tough enough time keeping track of the paws and tails we could
see," said Kyle. "Dang it, I've lost the trail. Which way from here?"
Kyle and Hobbes searched and searched, but not
only had they lost all traces of the creature, they had no idea where they were.
"Not good," said Hobbes. "Not good at all."
"Look!" yelled Kyle, forgetting that they were
trying to be quiet. "The Ghost Lupe! Uh, maybe. I guess. How many toes does
There was definitely something ahead of them,
tall and gray with a proud bearing and a sad expression. That warm feeling came
over them again, and they started in its direction. The Lupe stayed just far
enough ahead of them so that they could see it, but couldn't catch up. This
one did not appear to leave foot prints!
It led them into a clearing and hovered over
one of the many mounds of what appeared to be a native burial ground. It's paw
scratched at the top of the grave, the Lupe's sadness almost unbearable. Kyle
and Hobbes started to walk toward the Lupe, but they were suddenly interrupted.
"See, there they are!" shouted Chief Mukaluk.
"They are here to defile our graves! Get them!!!"
Nine ferocious coconut warriors charged Kyle
and Hobbes while the chief stood back and smiled, his arms folded across his
chest. Meanwhile, the Ghost Lupe sprang into action. He threw a shield helm
and sword each to Kyle and Hobbes, and then rushed off to intercept the warriors.
The one leading the charge was grabbed and thrown against a tree, knocked out
cold. Another met the end of Kyle's sword, while Hobbes tripped another. With
the Ghost Lupe on their side it was a one-sided battle. The remaining six warriors
rushed back behind their chief, cowering.
"Back into battle, you cowards," screamed the
chief, but no one moved. By now, the rest of the village had crowded around,
standing fixed to their spots in confusion and fright.
Finally, the Ghost Lupe spoke. "Here. Come here,"
he said to Kyle and Hobbes. "Dig here."
"No!" cried Chief Mukaluk. "It is forbidden!"
"Many things are forbidden, are they not, Chief
Mukaluk?" said the Ghost Lupe, calmly nodding towards the grave. The eyes of
the villagers turned to their chief, with a questioning look.
"Grab a shovel, Hobbes, it looks like we have
work to do," said Kyle, digging through his back pack.
"Stop them, warriors, they are going to steal
from our graves!" yelled the chief, motioning toward Kyle and Hobbes. The coconuts,
still too terrified to move, stood rooted to the spot.
"Why not save us the trouble, Mukaluk, and tell
us what's in there?" said the Ghost Lupe.
"You know that as well as I do," replied the
chief, regaining his composure. "It's you. You and your beloved Lavinia. We
buried you both here after you had violated our jungle many moons ago. But there
is nothing any of us can do about that now."
The Ghost Lupe rose and spoke to the assembled
crowd. "Your memory is faulty, Mukaluk, or have your ancestors not told you
of your family's secret? Do you not know who else lies in that grave, the victim
of a jealous rage? A rage that led to the end of one line of chiefs and the
beginning of another-yours? A rage witnessed by an innocent young girl, who
had to then be silenced forever to protect the honor of a dishonorable coconut?
But surely you did know, and that is why you tried to lead these two young explorers
to their deaths as I brought them closer and closer to your secret -- the reason
you should not really be chief."
Murmurs passed through the crowd as the chief's
calm and determined expression changed to panic. "Attack, kill the liars and
infidels!" he cried out to his warriors. But once again no one moved. This time,
however, it was not fear that stopped them, but confusion.
A tall tribesman worked his way to the front
of the crowd. "Of what do you speak, spirit?" questioned the shaman.
"I speak of treachery, of the killing of the
heir to the throne by Chief Mukaluk's ancestor, Unuk. Unuk's cousin was Krankun,
the son of chief Kokonoota. Unuk was jealous of Krankun and decided to kill
him and dispose of the body over the cliffs. Since Chief Kokonoota had no other
sons, Unuk, as the closest male relative, would inherit the throne. But his
plan went awry. My lovely bride was witness to the murder while searching for
rare flowers in the jungle. Unuk was forced to kill her, too, and claim that
she had been defiling the graves. I then came to battle but was ambushed. It
was easy enough to claim that Krankun was killed in the fighting, but his wound
did not look like it had been received in battle. Unuk said he saw Krankun fall
to his death over the cliffs; in reality he had buried the three of us together...
right over there."
"How can we be expected to believe this story?"
said the shaman.
"Dig," answered the Ghost Lupe. "But you must
dig, for I cannot. It is forbidden for a spirit to enter his own grave. That
is why I needed their help," he said, indicating Kyle and Hobbes.
"There is no need," said Chief Mukaluk. "It
is all true. And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for
you meddling kids!"
The tribespeople disappeared quietly back into
the jungle, Chief Mukaluk under guard and his royal line at an end. Kyle and
Hobbes just stood there for a minute, trying to decide what had just happened.
"Pinch me," said Hobbes. "Is this is dream?"
"You tell me," said Kyle. "Hey, where's the
The object of their quest had disappeared as
quickly as he had appeared. But their curiosity had been satisfied. They knew
that they had helped the Ghost Lupe and that at least some of his misery had
been eased. Kyle and Hobbes climbed back through the jungle silently. They came
to the beach and sat down on the warm sand.
"So you think that the ghost Lupe who left the
poison was really Chief Mukaluk in a costume?" asked Hobbes.
"Yup," said Kyle. "He must have seen the Ghost
Lupe trying to lead us to the burial grounds. So, when he saw us enter the jungle
he led us on with that costume and made us think the bottle came from the Ghost
Lupe. There must have been some sort of black magic on that thorn that I cut
myself on that made me want to drink the potion -- and die. Good thing you got
that chemistry set last year for Christmas!"
"Well, one thing's for sure," said Hobbes, "I'm
done searching for ghosts!"
"Me too," said Kyle. "Well, at least for today!"