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Anna & Amber's Secret Powers



   Amber's mother and Mrs. Katzenjammer were speeding up Mt. Baldy Canyon Road in the dark.  Past the two tunnels the road became curvy  and  there were large inclines and declines.  She wanted to say something encouraging to this nice lady.  This poor lady who has lost her twins, thought Mrs. K.


   "There's not that many bears up here," she ventured.


   It felt like a roller coaster the way Amber and Anna's mom was driving.  Still, they were rising up into the clouds, a fog bank which  they entered. She slowed a little for a turn and the grip of the parrot's claw on the back seat's cupholder loosened just a little.  Mrs. K turned around and for the tenth time chided, "There there, Stanley.  We'll be there soon."  But Stanley let out a sqawk and  deposited a little white stain on the BMW's backseat in response.


   Once they got above the fog and past Mt. Baldy Village they took a look around but it seemed the road and the town were empty. There were still wisps of mist weaved into the trees as Amber's mom accelerated around the turns which led up the face of the final hill before the road to the ski lodge and Zen Center area levelled out.  She snapped on the wipers but this only smudged the windshield some since the wipers were old and had been rotting in the sun all summer. 


   That was perfect since it illuminated very well indeed, in an array of crystal kaleidoscopes, the red and blue flashing lights which suddenly exploded all around them in the darkness as she rounded the corner!  A loud siren also erupted and Mrs. Katzenjammer realized that they were being pulled over by the only police officer in Mt. Baldy.


  "Good!" said Anna and Amber's mom.

  She slowed to the side of the road about a quarter of a mile from where she could see a sign that read The Deer Lodge.  As soon as the car was stopped she jammed it in park and leapt out.  "Officer thank god you're here, my twins…"  she started. 


  But then she came up a little short because the officer had lost no time pulling his weapon from its holster and barking at her:  "Get back in the car.  Get back in the car  immediately!"

   She came to a dead stop, but she did not get back in the car because she was frozen and confused.

   "My twins are lost," she managed to eke out. 

   But the officer was now pulling the weapon into her face and getting into a firing stance.   "Get back in the car. That is an order by an officer of the law!  Do you want to go to jail?"

   So she got back in the car.

   The officer waited for her to comply.  He slowly lowered his weapon and looked at her, shaking his head.    

   He was about twenty five, was perhaps Greek (bushy eyebrows), and was wearing what looked to be a pin that had a dog (peeking out from under a fire-hat)  which was licking its  chops.  "Steak fry", she could read the letters somehow.


   He approached the car and knocked on the window. 

   Amber's mom reached for the switch and they both watched as the window slowly lowered  itself down to the bottom of the doorframe.

   "I'm going to need to see your identification," he said.

   "Officer, I'm sorry.  My twins are lost and I was told where I might find them and you probably got a call about it since I was at the  rancho cucamonga police station earlier and mrs um the woman with the bird says she saw him on the bus and they were going to the Zen center and we called you and I don't know why you would be pulling me over and..."  She did it all in one breath.


   "Stop talking.  Stop.  Talking.  Now!" The officer ordered.

   She handed him her ID which she had fished out while she was jabbering at him, and he looked it over.

   "Ok, do you know why I pulled you over?  You were speeding back there.  Now, before you go off again, I'll say this. We did get a call, what you're talking about with your kids. But you have to calm down and I have to check something out.  Never, ever get out of the car when you are pulled over.  Now, just wait here."


   And he was about to go back to his car when he stopped, pulled out an ad, tried to look like he was smiling, and handed it to her.  It said Mt. Baldy Fire Department 27th Annual Steak Fry Oct 11th. "That's our charity event up here," he said, "you're welcome to come."  


   That is when they both heard the explosion.  It came from The Deer Lodge.

   "What the?"  said the officer. 


   They both turned to see a  plume shooting into the air above the trees and pool area of the compound, curling into little sworls of smoke. He sort of started  forward for a moment to run over there, but decided to go to his car instead.  As he reached the car and got on the radio there was a  second even bigger explosion from the Deer Lodge (which Mrs. Katzenjammer later said she could feel blow her hair back from a thousand  yards away).


   They all got out of their respective cars and ran towards the lodge.


*          *          *


   What they found at the lodge was astounding.  The roof of the lodge itself was blown clear open in the back and there were cinders lying  all around, some of them still on fire.  The kitchen was explosed but blackened, and the lodge's decorations were broken, in pieces and  scattered for a hundred yards in all directions.


   Meanwhile, from up the path to the cabins, smoke was still coming from a little storage shed that was in the corner of the pool  area. No one knew what it meant.  The officer made his way to what might have been the kitchen area of the lodge, where there seemed to be two  people on the ground unconscious.


   It was then that Mrs. Katzenjammer's bird took off!  It lifted off her shoulder with a loud cry.

   "Hey, Stanley!"  she called after it.  But it seemed to have a mind of its own and flew off towards the cabins.  Mrs. K was calling  after it but she didn't want to chase it because it looked like there was smoke over there.


   The officer looked  at them but there was other more important things to take care of.  "Don't go over there," he said.  "If it's a gas leak or something maybe there will be another explosion. Both of you go back to your car."  He then went about talking over his  walkie talkie with what might have been the fire department, who certainly would have to put off preparations for their steak fry.


   "Does this mean I get out of my ticket?"  Anna's Mom asked (somewhat facetiously) to Mrs. Katzenjammer.  "I mean..." while she gestured around at the wreckage.


   Then, to everyone's astonishment, what the bird did next was amazing.  "Anna," it said.  "Amber," it said.

   Their Mom and Mrs. Katzenjammer both looked like they had been hit by lightening. Now, it was true that this bird was an African parrot and could in fact learn to speak words, and sometimes would pick up  words it had heard and repeat them.  But why those words?


   "Why does that bird know their names?" said Anna's mom.

  "Anna.  Amber." It repeated.  And then it started pecking at the ground. 

   Mrs. K shrugged.  "Well, it repeats what it hears sometimes," she said.  "We've  been saying their names all night."  It took a few specks off the ground and then lifted up and came back over and landed on Mrs. K's shoulder again.  After that, it dropped  those few specks on the ground.


   Mrs. K leaned over and grabbed them, then held up what were sunflower seeds.  "Huh, it's our sunnyseeds, right Stanley?" She said to him like he was a child with his favorite food.  He flew off to where there was a pile of them and started pecking away.

   "Oh, come back Stanley."  She called.

   "My girls like sunflower seeds, too," said Amber's mom somewhat wistfully.  "Anyway, let's go.  We can go to the Zen center now and check what's going on."


   At that the officer snapped his head around.  "No, mam." he said.

   "Excuse me?"

   "No, mam.  They're not at the Zen Center.  I was going to confirm this but as I said we did get a call on that.  Well, I didn't finish, but I was going to say we went over to the  Zen Center but the monk there said that they didn't stay, that they walked off.  They told him they were meeting their parents, it was ok. Well, he got concerned. He called us pretty soon after were getting  the call from RCPD, so..."


   "So they're not at the Zen Center" concluded the officer.

   "Well, then. Where are they then?" She yelled at him surprisingly loud and it seemed to echo up the canyon.

   "Mam, it's a big mountain.  I would be able to do better setting up a search if speeders weren't tearning through town almost hitting me  while I am on my way to my station to start the apb, but then now something's terrible here so one thing at a time please."


   But while they were getting into an argument Mrs. Katzenjammer had started up the path after Stanley.

   "Mam," he started to call after her again.  But Mrs. K gasped. 

  "Come quick," she said.  They both tore up the path until they found the bird and the seeds, which led them to the pool shed  area.

   To everyone's astonishment, two children emerged from the smoke there, coughing but holding their eyes shut and holding rags  over their mouths. One was limping since she had ropes which were still dangling around her ankles as she tried to take her first steps down the path. The other was waving a stick in front of her since her eyes were closed, trying to guage if there were any obstacles in her way. They both  fell down as the smoke was finally almost dissipated above them into a now mostly clear night sky, while the smoke from the larger fire  down in the lodge had started to drift away to the east.


   "Anna!  Amber!" Their mother shrieked --just like the parrot-- and ran up the path.


*          *          *


   The whole story came out much later, of course, once Anna and Amber were front page news and doing interviews for the local papers.  


   They explained how Anna had learned enough chemistry from her online tutoring courses to know that often pool chemicals included acid and chlorine.  She found the  bottle with the hand that looked like it was being corroded on it, and they punctured it with a nail they found near the door.  As the acid had oozed out they applied their wrists to the edge of the puddle, getting most of it on the rope and pulling hard enough to stretch  the fibers and free their hands.  (Amber had a little burn on her wrist but it wasn't that bad and she was able to help Anna avoid it  alltogether). 


   They described how trying to break down the door was futile and they were afraid to make noise. They told how Anna had learned from her Chemistry courses that you could take some of those leftover recycled soda bottles, throw the chlorine powder in them along with some of the anti-freeze, and that it  would create an explosion.  (They explained how they held their breaths and covered their eyes as best they could to avoid chlorine gas  poisoning, something their teacher at school had warned about when talking about mixing bathroom cleaning stuff at home.)


   They had positioned the bottle they stuffed with the chemicals at the place in the door where the lock and the hinges were,  and had then put all the other boxes in between them and the explosion so they hopefully wouldn't be hurt. 


   Meanwhile, they also explained how they had tricked the stupid kidnappers into building their own exposion from bleach and drain cleaner which are indeed volatile and create deadly fumes to boot according to what they had learned about chemistry and working with cleaning chemicals safely.  They expected that the kidnappers would come back for them and make them do the so-called  magic but probably their greed had overtaken them and they had tried to make the potion themselves. It had obviously exploded and  covered them in hot noxious chemicals and taken their roof off to boot!  Luckily the chlorine fumes which can be deadly had dissipated before the officer arrived and only knocked the two criminals unconscious.


   Finally, it was just lucky that they had put a lot of sunflower seeds in their backpacks that day for snacks.  That one of their backpacks exploded open and littered the ground with sunflower seeds just made it all that easier for  the bird to help the twins to be found.


   And that is how the Book of Spells was found as well and how Anna and Amber found out as much as they could about their magic powers.   That they were in a way (though they didn't realize it) and had always been...magic. Just by being who they were and being the best they could, by really learning the science available to them and by relying on their wits they were able to win their freedom... which is magic enough when you think about it, making those atoms dance!


   And, of course, they decided that they would have to put their newfound celebrity to good use.  What a great way, they thought, to start their own investigation agency!  (And to enjoy further exploits on paper which will earn their author untold millions by the end of their long book series' run at the top of the bestseller charts!)


   The press and police were duly happy not only with their smarts in discovering where the Book of Spells had been  hidden, but the authorities were also impressed with the way they had managed to get up to Mt. Baldy and foil a rotten chef while engineering an escape from seriously bad kidnappers (and, let's face it, lousy hoteliers) without anyone's help.  "Real Life Secret Powers!" the headlines read. 


   And so... that is how The Anna And Amber Investigative Science Agency was born!!



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