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Karen and Luke are drawn to the ancient Mexican dig site when they learn Jeannie has disappeared, under mysterious circumstances. The young daughter, Tammy, accompanies them to help with her sensitivity to the crystals.
In their rush to help everyone, Digger and Madera are carried to places they can hardly imagine. Did they really visit Atlantis to escape from an impossible situation, or was Madera only dreaming?
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While Digger and Jeannie try to find a way to help Therena, the sleeping Atlantis princess, they also try to escape from unknown people trying to kill them.
Return To Atlantis is the third book of the crystal trilogy. The first book is: The Atlantis Crystal. The second is: She Waits in Atlantis.
In this book, all the characters in the first books become active participants in trying to solve crystal mysteries, and in trying to save themselves from known and unknown dangers. The central characters, Digger and Jeannie, try to protect the ancient golden urn at the Yucatan dig site, while at the same time try to undo the damage they caused to Therena, the Atlantean princess.
"I thought you were dead; thought we were both dead," Digger said, as he watched Madera raise his head from the water's edge. He sat on the bright sand, leaning against his backpack, too exhausted to pull Madera farther onto the beach.
"What the hell happened? How long have I been here?" Madera moaned. He crawled four feet onto the sand to clear his feet from the water, then looked up at Digger, "Santa Maria, amigo, are we still alive?"
"I’m not sure. I'm so wore out, dead might be better. I see my arms but I sure as hell don't feel them."
“How did we get here?" Madera moaned as he rolled over on his back.
"You don't remember anything after the explosion?"
"I don't even remember an explosion. All I know is that I just woke up with my face in this damn sand."
"Sorry about that; that's far as I could drag you. I wasn't even sure I got you that far up on the beach."
Madera sat erect and held himself with his arms wrapped around his knees then closed his eyes and asked, "Do you remember what happened?"
"Most, but some seems like a dream." Digger told Madera their boat exploded while they were on their way to the island thirty-five miles south of Ship Island. "Our boat was full throttle, when it just flew apart. I wouldn't have known it exploded if I hadn't seen that flash streak into the bow."
"You're saying it wasn't an accident?"
"Not unless accidents streak through the air with dead aim, then explode when they hit something."
"Damn, amigo, I figured they were serious, but I didn't know they were that serious; serious enough to have missiles."
Digger looked at Madera's dark soaked hair and bulgy moustache clinging to his face, and thought how typically Mexican he looked, as he replied, "I knew they were dead serious. I just never dreamed they would be this sophisticated. I figured just bullets and knives."
"Are you saying they hit our boat with a missile or rocket from somewhere we didn't see? They were on the horizon, when I last saw them."
Staring across the water, Digger answered, "I didn't see it coming till just before it hit; streaking, quiet little sonofabitch, like a flaming arrow, except moving more like a bullet."
"I didn't see it; just glanced back to make sure no one else followed us from Ship Island. That's all I remember."
Digger breathed deeply to stretch his constricted wet-cold chest, then lifted his hand to reposition some wild strands of his fifty-ish thinning hair. "Facing backwards probably saved your life. The explosive force and your leg reflexes threw you right over my head and off the stern." He paused to breath again, then continued, "I smashed face-first right into the water and debris when the boat disintegrated. I think I was out for awhile. Maybe I was just dreaming. Anyway, my tough old beard must have kept the water from tearing my face."
"How far out were we?"
"I don't know, exactly, but it took over two hours tugging on your life jacket to get us here. Thank God they didn't go flat. I'm not the world's best swimmer; don't even like water. I'd rather be digging in dirt."
Madera opened his eyes and peeked at the horizon, "Did we make it to the right island? Is this it?"
"It can't be. We hadn't traveled long enough. Besides, this is too small; not the one I recognize. This one is so small it might even be underwater come high tide."
Madera leaned back to look around, then said, "No, there's a water line here. It wouldn't have a water line if water covered the whole island."
"I was too wiped out to notice, thirsty too; damn thirsty. There's probably no drinking water on this little spot surrounded by salt water. It's no more than three hundred yards across."
"We're alive, amigo. Worrying about finding water is a good condition. It’s better than feeling nothing."
Digger raised forward with a surge of new-found energy as he opened his eyes. "I'll try to stand and search for some water. Thunderstorms blow over every few hours when it's this humid here in the Gulf of Mexico; might be some water trapped in a seashell or something."
"I would help you look, but I'm still unsteady; legs still too rubbery. I'll join you when I can."
"I'm just looking, still moving shaky myself." Digger moved awkwardly, one careful step at a time, until his legs gained strength and remembered walking motions. He eased up a gradual incline as he moved farther from the water's edge. He turned and looked at Madera after he was fifty yards away. Madera had changed his position and was watching him. He moved another hundred yards toward the center before he stopped again and scanned the perimeter.
The island was oval-shaped, about three hundred yards long and two hundred yards wide. The center was ten feet higher than the water, and the slopes all around were gentle and pristine clear with no litter. His backpack was the only thing Digger saw on the sandy knoll island, except himself and Madera.
"Find anything?" Madera asked, struggling toward Digger.
"Nothing; not a damn thing. There’s nothing here but sand; just clean, sparkling sand, but no water. There's nothing here to catch water no matter how hard it rains."
"That's strange, amigo. I've never seen an island that didn't have litter; broken bottles, pieces of plastic, things like that."
"It looks as if somebody just swept this place clean as new-poured sugar. There's no water here, for sure."
"Maybe someone will come along soon. There has to be shrimpers or deep sea fishing boats running through here."
"I've been looking, Madera, but haven't seen any movement across the horizon; nothing at all, not even a seagull."
"We can't be that far from Ship Island. There has to be lots of traffic around here. How far do you think we are from Biloxi or Gulfport?"
"Maybe thirty miles, considering the time we left Ship Island." He looked across the horizon again, then back at Madera, "I don't understand, though; should be traffic around here, even banana boats from down south."
Madera peered around the full horizon, then looked deep in Digger's eyes, as he said, "Amigo, my body feels okay now, but my feelings tell me something's very strange here; very weird."
"What do you mean?"
"Just different. What's that gringo word . . . uncanny?"
Digger looked around the full horizon again, as Madera stood quietly watching. He looked back at Madera and agreed, "You're right as hell. My skin's crawling all the way from my tail bone to my ears."
"You feel it, too?"
"Yeah; didn't notice it before."
"The hum; that whirring sound?"
"Yeah," Digger replied. Dropping to his knees, he spread both palms flat on the pristine sand, waited a moment, then looked up at Madera. "I don't feel anything, but sounds like it's coming from the sand."
"I can't tell; just hear it in my ears. Sounds like it's everywhere."
Digger looked back at the beach where they came ashore. The solitary out-of-place backpack captured his peripheral vision in that direction. Without moving his stare from the beach, he said, "That's strange, too, Madera. God! I don't think I've seen that before."
Madera looked in that direction, but he didn't say anything.
Digger continued, "See that?"
"What? I don't see anything."
"That's what I mean. There should be some waves lapping up on the beach, even if only gently. It's still, too still, like the island is surrounded by a sheet of ice."
"Damn, you're right, amigo. I've seen lots of water, but this is the first time I've ever seen this much water this still." He looked closer at the water's edge, then added, "Maybe we're too far away. Let's get closer."
As they moved toward the water, Digger looked up from the water to the sky. He abruptly stopped and exclaimed, "Madera!"
"Something's wrong, Madera, serious wrong."
"I just see the sky. I don't know what you mean."
Before Digger responded, he looked around the horizon again, then back up higher at the sky, and asked, "See any clouds?"
"No; no clouds."
"What time is it?"
"Three, in the afternoon."
"Santa Maria! How the hell can it be mid-afternoon without clouds or the sun here in the Gulf of Mexico? The sun can't just disappear, without hiding behind clouds."
"I don't know, Madera, but something's not right."
They stared into each other's eyes a moment, neither knowing who should ask the next question. Then they eased toward the water's edge without saying anything, just glancing around the sky searching for the sun.
Digger pointed at the water and said, "See, no waves, not even gentle ones." Then he leaned over to look closer where the water met the sand, and exclaimed,"What the hell!"
"What do you mean? I don’t see anything.”
"I didn't notice that before; maybe too tired. Do you see those little vibrations radiating out from the edge; looks like they're caused by the humming sound.”
“You’re right; and sounds like that hum comes directly from the sand." Madera looked up, while Digger stared at the water's edge, and continued, "No sun, no clouds, humming sounds, and vibrating water ripples; amigo, explain something that makes sense."
Digger didn't answer. He just sat on the sand and curled his arms around his knees, still looking at the ripples. Neither spoke for awhile, just looked at the sand, the water and the sky.
Finally, Madera said, "You're an educated man, trained archaeologist; you can explain this can't you?"
"Maybe I could if this were archaeological or even geographical, but I don't know what the hell to call this. I’ve never heard of anything even similar."