AUSTIN STOOD BY his front gate.
He looked one way. Then he looked the other. ‘This has to be the most boring street in the world,’ he muttered to himself.
A voice at his shoulder surprised him by saying: ‘No, it isn’t!’
The voice belonged to a girl. ‘I’m Jade,’ she said. ‘I live two houses down. I saw you when you moved in last weekend. What you said isn’t true, you know. We live on a very interesting street.’
‘Yeah, right!’ said Austin. ‘It’s nowhere near a mall. It’s not on a bus route. There’s no skate park. And everything’s old. What’s there to do? A great big fat nothing. BORING!’
Jade looked at him. ‘Come with me to the end of our street,’ she said. ‘I might be able to change your mind.’
‘Not likely,’ said Austin.
But he had nothing better to do, so he followed Jade anyway. Two houses down he saw a parked car with a trailer attached. Big letters on the back of the trailer said: DIG THIS! GARDENING SERVICES.
‘My mum looks after other
people’s gardens,’ Jade explained.
The end of their street joined up with more streets.
‘Well?’ said Austin. ‘What’s there to see?’
‘Look up there,’ Jade told him.
Austin looked up. The sky was blue. Clouds drifted overhead. Everything was exactly the same as it had been all during the long summer holidays.
‘No, not up as high as that,’ said Jade. ‘There.’
‘There’ was a lamppost with signs of the street names attached.
‘I don’t get it,’ said Austin.
‘Our street is called Meteor Street,’ Jade said.
‘Some people say The Meteor was the name of a ship,’ Jade continued. ‘But not just any old ship.’
She paused. Austin took the bait.
‘What sort of ship was it then?’
Jade lowered her voice so Austin had to bend forward to hear her reply.
‘Some people say it was a pirate ship.’
‘Oh,’ said Austin, showing a glimmer of interest. ‘For real?’
‘That’s what some people say. Now, what’s the name of that street?’
Austin read the sign. ‘Skeleton Bay Road.’
Jade nodded. ‘Exactly. That road goes all the way to Skeleton Bay. Some people say The Meteor was scuttled in the bay.’
‘Scuttled?’ asked Austin.
‘Sunk,’ said Jade. ‘By its pirate crew. Some people say the crew mutinied because their captain went back on his word to share out the stolen treasure.’
‘Treasure?’ said Austin.
‘Gold coins, precious stones, necklaces, rings. All sorts.’
‘And it’s still there?’ said Austin, excitement creeping into his voice. ‘In Skeleton Bay?’
Jade shook her head. ‘Way better than that,’ she said. ‘Only the old bones of the ship are still in the bay. Whenever there’s a storm at sea, some people say you can hear the timbers of The Meteor rattling and groaning, like the voices of ghosts. You see, the story goes that when the crew came to demand their share of the treasure, they discovered the captain had escaped ashore in the longboat, taking the treasure with him. They scuttled his ship in revenge.’
‘But what happened to the treasure?’ asked Austin. ‘Did the captain get away with it, or did his crew track him down?’
Jade pointed to another street sign. ‘What does that one say?’
‘Sunset Way,’ Austin read.
‘And what colour is a sunset?’ asked Jade.
‘Gold,’ said Austin, thinking about it. ‘Or sometimes red. Sometimes orange as well. Lots of colours.’
‘The colours of treasure,’ said Jade. ‘Some people say that the captain buried it along Sunset Way.’
‘But only old people live on that street,’ Austin said. ‘I’ve seen them.’
‘They do now,’ Jade agreed. ‘But back in those days there was no street there at all. The captain meant to come back for the treasure, but …’
At this point, Jade paused dramatically.
‘His crew did track him down,’ Austin finished.
Jade didn’t say a word. She didn’t need to.
‘Did anyone ever find the treasure?’ Austin asked.
‘Don’t talk so loudly,’ Jade said. ‘We don’t want the whole world to hear. Some people say it would have been found years ago, but no-one knows for sure. It might still be here. Every chance I get, I dig and I dig. But nobody really wants you to leave holes all over their garden, so I have to pretend I’m grubbing out weeds. It takes forever, and I can only treasure-hunt in the holidays.’
‘I guess I could help you,’ said Austin. ‘But we’d have to split any treasure we find, fifty-fifty.’
Jade nodded. ‘I’m cool with that,’ she said.
‘When shall we start?’ asked Austin.
‘Tomorrow, if you like.’
‘You’re on,’ said Austin.
They went back up Meteor Street together.
‘See you tomorrow then,’ Jade said, as she went up her driveway.
‘I can’t wait!’ Austin replied.
* * *
Jade’s mum met her at the door.
‘Was that the new boy?’ she asked.
‘His name’s Austin,’ said Jade. ‘I think we might be friends.’
‘Nice one,’ said Jade’s mum. ‘It’s been pretty dull for you on the street with no other kids your age around.’
‘He thought our street was the most boring street in the world,’ Jade explained. ‘So I told him the story behind the street names.’
‘Which story?’ asked Jade’s mum. ‘The one about the captain’s treasure, or the dinosaur bone discovery, or the UFO sighting?’
‘The captain’s treasure, of course,’ said Jade. ‘That’s the best of the lot. But I might tell him the others if he ever gets bored again. After all, any one of them could be true. Not even the old people on Sunset Way know for sure.’
‘Hmm,’ said Jade’s mum.
‘We’re going to meet up again tomorrow,’ Jade said.
‘I’m paying you to help tidy Mrs Domanski’s garden tomorrow,’ Jade’s mum reminded her.
‘I haven’t forgotten,’ said Jade. ‘Austin’s going to come along and do some digging too. And we’ve agreed to split the treasure—my pay, I mean—fifty-fifty.’