JACK AND THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH
by HL Carpenter
Ebook ISBN: 978-0-9884095-0-7
Copyright (c) 2012 by Top Drawer Ink Corp.
Jack and The Fountain of Youth — Audio Installment 1
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Below is the text version of the audio.
“You want me to do what?” Eighteen-year-old Jack Ponsi Dileónardo Thomas clutched the cold metal arms of his chair as a memory he’d buried five centuries earlier lurched to life.
Colby Newman, gray-haired editor-in-chief and person-in-charge-of-handing-out-assignments at the World Pryer, crunched a peppermint candy. The crackling candy and the resulting scent of peppermint were his only answer.
No surprise there. Mr. Newman always lapsed into silence after dropping a bomb on one of his reporters. Mr. Newman was a great editor, but he had an odd sense of humor. As usual, his craggy face bore no hint that he’d cracked a joke. It should have. Because this was a joke.
This had to be a joke.
Jack breathed in. Out. In. The shock died away. The undead memory lived on.
He unclenched his hands. “Did you ask me to find the Fountain of Youth?”
“Yes.” Mr. Newman swallowed the peppermint and twisted his thick lips into a smile that made him resemble the water-skiing gorilla on last week’s front page. “Go prove the Fountain exists. And I don’t mean another tired story on that moldy tourist attraction in St. Augustine. I’m talking about the real thing.”
“The real thing?”
“You turning into a parrot?” Mr. Newman scowled. “Yes. The real thing. You probably learned about the Spanish conquistador Juan Ponce de León in school. It’s textbook history. He explored many parts of Florida during his search for the Fountain of Youth.”
“I know.” The de León name had a special place in La Florida’s past. In Jack’s past too, though not in the form of school lessons. “Juan led an expedition through the area around Everyoung.”
“Yep. That means the Fountain of Youth could be right here, in our town. In fact, a reliable source called in that very tip to the hot line yesterday morning. The message was a bit garbled, but I have reason to believe he’s onto something.”
“You do?” A beam of hope seared Jack with the third-degree heat of false expectation. He flinched. “Why do you think so?”
“Call it an old newsman’s hunch.” Mr. Newman shrugged. “Even if the tipster is wrong, the Fountain of Youth makes good copy. I’m excited about this story. I’m assigning you to follow up.”
Mr. Newman squawked and raised his elbows in an imitation of a parrot.
Jack closed his eyes, as much to block out Mr. Newman as to give himself time to recover. The Fountain. Crystal water spilling in sparkling glory from a gash in the earth. Bubbly, clear, pure water. Water with the power and ability to turn life into living hell.
He didn’t have to follow up. Mr. Newman’s source was right about the location of the Fountain. It was here on the Gulf Coast of Florida.
And if he could — NO! He’d rather drink spit-warm swamp water than stir up old dreams about finding the Fountain again. And this assignment — he’d refuse this assignment.
Except…he couldn’t. He’d promised Tia Bella he would complete his work at the Pryer. Over the last five hundred years he’d never broken a promise to his aunt. He never would. She was the last remaining member of his family. He owed her everything.
His shoulders slumped. He had to accept this assignment. He had to pursue the tip. Otherwise the past six weeks spent as a summer intern for the Pryer would be a total waste. So he’d do what Mr. Newman wanted.
Maybe the memories wouldn’t drown him.
And maybe he was a delusional fool.
He tugged a dog-eared notebook from the back pocket of his jeans and pretended not to notice Mr. Newman’s scowl. He was supposed to use his technologically-up-to-the-minute tablet for note taking. Too tough. A guy five centuries old had his limits when it came to moving with the times.
Jack flipped the notebook open and pulled a short yellow pencil from behind his ear. “Anything else I should know? What’s the name of the informant?”
***** ABOUT THE AUTHOR *****
HL Carpenter is the pen name of a Florida-based mother/daughter duo who writes from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, the Carpenters enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity.
Also by HL Carpenter:
The SkyHorse. Fourteen year old Tovi thinks finding a flying horse is fabulous luck–until a mysterious stranger says finders aren’t always keepers.
Dream Stealer. Is stealing a dream better than losing your own?