Thursday, November 29, 2012
Scavenger Hunt begins with a teenage boy arriving at a church in the middle of nowhere. After dipping his hands in the holy water, he wonders if can escape. He starts to drop two quarters in the donation box, thinks about how he needs to call the police, and drops all of his money inside before lighting a candle. He sneaks past a woman in black and steps into the confession box. The priest on the other side listens as the boy asks if he believes in the devil and admits to killing someone before telling his story.
The book jumps back to Carl prior to the day at the church. He has a dream that a dam collapses on him and his friend Joe, and they see a monster coming at them. He wakes up in a cold sweat, remembering that Joe really did die in a flash flood in the desert and the police found his skeleton a few months later. The requisite hot chick Cessy calls and he talks to her and his friend Tom. Tom has some odd moments because he was hurt in a football incident, but he asks them to join their scavenger hunt team and to pick them up.
Carl goes downstairs and eats a fast breakfast. He finds a message on his machine from Tracie, a girl he once had a crush on. She wants him to join her team with her friend Richard/Rick. A few minutes later, he nearly runs over Richard who is the class brain, three years younger than them, and about to graduate. Richard tells him that Paula, Joe’s former girlfriend, is also in their group, so Carl makes up an excuse to leave. After trying to catch a glimpse at Cessy naked in her swimming pool, she pulls him into the pool and he has to switch clothes with Tom.
Tracie thinks she’s in love with Carl, so she isn’t too happy when he turns up with Cessy. She talks to Cessy’s brother Davey and thinks about how much they look alike and how they randomly showed up at the start of the school year. She also thinks about how much Paula changed after Joe’s death, and Paula thinks about how much she dislikes the new people in the school.
At the assembly to kick off the scavenger hunt, the teacher Mr. Partridge tells them that they need to find ten things hidden in locations around town. He wears all grey and has reflective sunglasses on, which he explains that he needs to wear all the time because of a rare disease he contracted. He also tells them that the winning team gets a free all-expense paid trip to Hawaii.
Rick figures out the first clue and they take off, followed by Carl’s team who also figured things out. They find a box filled with hunting knives and as they start walking away, Davey tells Rick about a story he just read in the paper. A group of miners found a hidden mine named Valta in Rust Valley. They put some of the treasure in the bank and went back for more. When they disappeared, the banker found the map and went off on his own, but he too disappeared. Davey wants Rick’s help finding that mine. Tom tells Carl that they were there before, and Carl wonders if it’s Red Ravine, an area he hiked with Joe. Rick figures out the next clue and the two groups go their separate ways.
Both groups wind up at the video store, thanks to a clue that quotes lines from Star Wars. Cessy and Davey disappear into the ice cream store, and Tracie offers to get stuff for everyone else. She disappears for nearly 30 minutes and comes back slightly confused and with the wrong foods. They work together to solve two more clues, gaining a necklace and two white socks, which Tom puts on before separating again. Carl’s clue takes them to old oil tanks on the outskirts of town.
That clue leads them to a large hill outside of town. Davey and Tom wait in the car, while Carl and Cessy climb the hill. They find a pair of hiking boots and a note telling them to keep going. They wind up at a little purple house with a pair of jeans on the front porch and go back to the truck to pick up the others. While inside the house, they see a purple lizard that climbs on Cessy. Carl knocks it away and Davey steps on it, smashing its head and causing black blood to ooze out.
The book then goes back to the boy talking to the priest. He once again says that he killed someone, a close friend, in the past. He also talks about his group on the scavenger hunt. He tells the priest how they kept driving into the wilderness, even making a wrong turn and getting lost at one point. Then he mentions that he saw someone come back from the dead, which the priest doesn’t believe.
While that group finds their wave to a hidden cave, Tracie’s group has to take a break when Rick gets sick. Paula admits that he is sicker than anyone thinks and that he might only have a year left. Rick found a newspaper article about Valta and snuck it out of the library, and he starts reading it again. Tracie realizes that four people went into the mines but only two bodies were recovered. The names of the two that disappeared match Cessy and Davey.
They find the empty boxes that lead to the purple house. Everyone else wants to take a break, but Tracie wants to check out the house. She explores and finds a large picture of Mr. Partridge and realizes it must be his house. She also finds a bunch of newspaper clippings from murders that occurred in a big circle around their town. As they leave the house, she discovers Carl’s watch laying on the ground.
Carl’s group finds another box, which has a bloody and ripped shirt inside, which Tom points on. When they reach the cave, they send Tom away and make Carl start digging. Tracie’s group shows up to meet them and she reveals that they know the secret. Cessy kind of steps back and ignores everyone, while Davey takes control. He starts talking about a group of reptilian creatures that evolved beyond the dinosaurs.
Davey makes everyone dig, and they find a body underground. Tracie thinks it’s Joe until she sees that its Partridge. Davey reaches down and rips off the man’s face to show that it actually is Joe. He explains that Partridge was basically a puppet, a man that he used to teach at the school and a body that he controlled. He also tells them that Joe’s body floated down into the cave and they gave him a choice, which led them all there.
Davey also explains that they need a balance and he wants Tracie to choose who will die. Though he wants Rick, he gives her the choice between her best friend Paula and Carl, the man she loves. When she refuses to make a choice, he picks Rick, which annoys Cessy who finds him interesting. He plans to toss the boy over the side of the cave so he will drop through some weird tunnel thing. Cessy distracts him by saying Tom is back, then whispers something to Rick, snaps his neck, and tosses him over the side.
Davey is ticked because he wanted to do it, so he turns his attention to Carl. He asks him to remember the day Joe died and how hard he worked to save him. Davey then reveals that Carl actually died that day too, trying to save his best friend. Carl refuses to believe it until Davey jams a big hunting knife through his chest. He then tells Carl that it’s his last chance to run and Carl hauls ass out of the cave.
Carl is back in the church and talking to the priest when Davey shows up. He strangles the priest with a wire in the confession room and forces Carl out. He ties everyone up and Tracie starts thinking weird thoughts. When she looks at Cessy, the girl holds her eyes and she realizes that she has control over her mind. Tom shows back up and sticks with the two until he discovers that Cessy killed Rick.
So, Tracie keeps thinking about water and seeing Davey holding a bottle of water and thinking about how neither of them like fire. The two reveal that they have to make a sacrifice every year to keep living in this world. Cessy starts talking about a statue of the Virgin Mother and Tracie explains how people prayer to her. She asks Tracie for help lighting a candle and saying a prayer. Cessy offers to help Davey and he kind of agrees. Tracie grabs the tequila bottle and pours it over him. He turns around, showing his true face.
Carl shoves a knife in his back, which distracts him long enough for them to set him on fire. After burning for a few seconds, there is a pop and he disappears. Cessy tells them that since he didn’t exit through the mine in Valta, he will disappear forever. She also talks to Tracie who admits that she loves Carl and he feels the same way about her. Paula begs her to bring Rick back to life but she can’t do it.
Cessy tells them that she is moving on but she will be back. She kisses Carl and tells him that when she comes back, he will be an old man and not recognize her but she will take him swimming and let him look. Tracie says it won’t happen and Cessy insinuates that they will be old together. Paula talks to Tom who now knows that he is Joe. He was so angry about Carl letting him die that his last thoughts were of revenge, which let him contact the two and come back to life.
Paula begs him to stay with her, and he explains that he can’t because it will make him like Cessy. The idea of sacrificing people for their love is too much for either of them. He tells her that she never moved on because he was still holding her and now he’ll let her go. She gives him back a chain that he gave her, and he promises to go back and try to find Rick. As the book ends, Tracie wonders if it was all just a dream, and Carl looks around the destroyed church, knowing that it’s finally over.
I forgot how long some of these Pike books are! I think I might take another long break from them, just because it takes so long to recap some of the stories.