Jaime and her best friend Nicole are looking forward to a carefree summer in their hometown, Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. All is going according to plan until they discover a strange ancient map and suddenly their relaxing vacation becomes a desperate fight for their lives. Though danger lurks around every corner, Jaime is up for the adventure, but is set to discover more about herself and her past than she may be able to handle.
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The Secret of Wellington's Map
Jaime gently opened the map. Its metallic stiffness contrasted with the visual appearance of a regular map. That's odd, she thought. This is the first map I've seen without the countries labeled. And what do these symbols along the edges mean? The map folded up when she released one side to touch the symbols, so Jaime propped it open with books.
She ran her fingers over the edge of Australia and remembered a Discovery channel documentary about the island continent. She felt a tickling on the tips of her fingers and jerked away her hand, gazing intently at the shoreline. Nothing. The map looked the same, but she was sure she'd felt something.
Again she ran her fingers over the same area, concentrating more intently. The surface of the map undulated and the relief of the continent sprang up. There were hills, valleys, and coastlands. Jaime yanked her hand back and blinked in amazement as the relief melted back into the map's flat surface. She sucked in her breath and examined the sheet's lustrous face. There were five columns of symbols. Two of them lay outside of a decorative border on the left and right edges of the map. The other three columns rested between the left border and the edge of the central circular world drawing. At the top of the border was a luminous orange orb with a symbol, while the bottom displayed three blue orbs with faded symbols.
"Hmmm, this is a strange map compass." Jaime touched the lower right corner of the map. "It looks like the north arrow is pointing into a star field. How weird is that?"
She sat back. This was not like any road map she had ever seen. Each time she touched the surface, she sensed a strange inner connection.
Jaime tried again. This time she fingered the African Sahara Desert and visualized her textbook's pictures. Sand dunes rose from the map and stayed in place. She picked up the map and looked at it from the side to be sure she was not imagining it. The miniature sand dunes were still there. Even as she gazed in awe, they flattened. Unsure of what it would do next, she set it down. She bit her lip and cautiously touched the area again with both hands. The dunes reappeared. This time Jaime kept them in place, wanting to see more.
A glow appeared above the map, materialized into a picture and expanded. The great desert blotted out part of her room. The dune surfaces stirred as if some huge beasts within struggled to get out. Harsh winds blew the sand in swirls. The same movement played on her fingertips held lightly above the map. What was happening?
Scared by the strange tingling in her arms, Jaime fought the urge to disengage from the magical parchment. It frightened yet entranced her, making her want to see and experience more. The projection had the same dune ridges as the map, but the sand actually shifted with the wind. Slowly, a movement to the left caught her eye. A caravan lumbered across the horizon in the background.
"Ouch!" Jaime jerked her hands away and coverd her eyes, made gritty by blowing sand. She rubbed until tears washed out the small irritating particles. Her vision cleared and she wiped the tears from her cheek. She saw only her room, the aquarium, her charts, and the once again folded map now laying on the floor.
She slid off her chair and onto the carpet and stared at the map. Had she dreamed it? Had there really been camels and nomads making their way across a hot intimidating desert? Her right eyelid flickered and she rubbed it again. The sand wasn't her imagination. She reached for the map. Unfolded it. Sand streamed onto her lap.
Jaime shook off the sand, smoothed the edges on the open map laying on the floor, and placed sandals on opposite corners. Breathing deeply, she studied the strange chart before her. The limitless possibilities were too good to be true. Could she really just touch the map, think about the place she wanted to see and it would appear?
Where would she like to go? Atlantis! Not just yet. As alluring as it might be, historians couldn't agree about what or where Atlantis was. Afridcan Pygmies? What was the name? It was kind of sing song. Jaime studied the map and tried to remember the rest of the little song she'd made up to help her study for a test. Finally it came to her.
'The Mbuti of the Ituri Forest in Zaire
Are the shortest and best-known Pygmies, I hear.'
"I wish this thing had names on the countries, so I could locate them," Jaime said in exasperation. She rubbed the document and wondered why it looked ancient and yet glisten. An old-fashioned map like this should look old. It adapted a worn parchment texture. She gasped. Her thoughts toggled between the shiny and battered versions of the map and it responded, shifting from gleaming to parchment. "Wow!"
Part of her wanted to put it away, afraid of what else it could do. A deeper part of her wanted to know more. She gently ran her fingertips over the approximate position of Zaire on the map, envisioning the pictures in her schoolbooks. Jaime realized she closed her eyes when they suddenly jerked open to the loud caw of a bird. A wonderful stimulating chill ran up her spine and goose bumps skittered over her face and arms. An entire panorama blocked out the opposite wall.