Authors: Catherine Jinks
The Reformed Vampire Support Group
The Genius Wars
This Way Out
The Future Trap
Eye to Eye
Piggy in the Middle
What’s Hector McKerrow Doing These Days?
Pagan in Exile
First published in 2011
Copyright © Catherine Jinks 2011
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording or by any information storage and retrieval system, without prior permission in writing from the publisher. The
Australian Copyright Act 1968
(the Act) allows a maximum of one chapter or ten per cent of this book, whichever is the greater, to be photocopied by any educational institution for its educational purposes provided that the educational institution (or body that administers it) has given a remuneration notice to Copyright Agency Limited (CAL) under the Act.
A Cataloguing-in-Publication entry is available from the
National Library of Australia
ISBN 978 1 74237 574 8
Cover design by
Cover illustration by Sam Hadley
Text design by Bookhouse, Sydney
Set in 12/15 pt Bembo by Bookhouse, Sydney
Printed in Australia by McPherson’s Printing Group
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
To James Jinks, the latest addition
T WANT TO SPEND HIS SUMM ER HOLIDAYS AT
He wasn’t a beach person. His skin was pale and freckled, so it burned easily. He wasn’t a body builder, so he didn’t like taking off his clothes. And he wore glasses, which had to be removed in the surf.
Marcus would have been quite happy sitting in his bedroom all summer long, playing computer games. His favourite game was
Cruising for a Bruising.
Even though he was only eleven years old, he had already reached the lowest first-class deck on the S.S.
. There were just five decks to go. Once he’d fought his way past the angry chefs in the gourmet kitchen, dodged the fat people bouncing off each other on the dance floor, and pushed all the armed lifeguards into the heated pool, he would be within easy reach of the bridge.
He was looking forward to his life-and-death struggle with Captain Creap. Defeating this evil despot would mean conquering the world’s largest, richest luxury liner. Marcus couldn’t wait to do that. He had plans for all the stewards who’d been throwing deckchairs at his stowaway avatar.
But Marcus’s mother didn’t care about his plans. She had plans of her own. That was why, on the last day of school, he arrived home to find an unfamiliar caravan parked outside their house.
‘It was cheaper to buy this old caravan than to hire a nicer one for the week,’ explained his mother, whose name was Holly Bradshaw. ‘I got a great deal because it was taking up valuable space in the lot. No one wanted to hire it.’
‘I’m not surprised,’ Marcus muttered. The caravan was small and dirty and covered in dents. There were dead flies on all of its windowsills. Inside its poky living area, the two-burner stove was encrusted with grease, as were most of the benchtops. The curtains were in shreds. The linoleum was sticky.
‘It’s a bit small,’ Marcus pointed out, just in case his mother hadn’t noticed.
‘That doesn’t matter,’ she said. ‘There’s plenty of room for the two of us. Besides, just look at all the cupboard space!’ She yanked open one of the cupboard doors, which came off in her hand. ‘Don’t worry about that,’ she added, hastily propping the door shut again. ‘I’ll fix everything before we go. And I’ll give the whole place a good scrub too.’
‘Will scrubbing get rid of the smell?’ Marcus sniffed suspiciously. ‘It smells like sweaty gym clothes in here.’
think it smells like mouldy baked beans.’ When Marcus screwed up his nose, Holly tried to reassure him. ‘We’ll air the place out. I’m sure it’s not permanent. Maybe the little old lady used to smell a bit.’
Marcus was confused. ‘What little old lady?’ he asked.
‘The little old lady who used to live here.’
Gazing at his mother in alarm, Marcus squeaked, ‘She didn’t
in here, did she?’
‘Of course not.’
‘How do you know?’
‘Because the man at the lot told me she didn’t.’
Marcus wasn’t convinced. ‘I hope she didn’t die in here,’ he mumbled. ‘I hope it’s not haunted.’
Holly laughed. ‘Don’t be silly,’ she rejoined. ‘Whoever heard of a haunted caravan?’
Marcus shrugged. He adjusted his glasses and looked around at the cramped, grimy, battered space. He didn’t want to spend a whole week in it. Though his own home was quite small and shabby, at least it wasn’t a rat-cage on wheels.
‘Most of the time we’ll be outside,’ Holly promised, watching his face. ‘When
was eleven, and
went to Diamond Beach, I spent every day in the open air from dawn till dusk. It was fantastic. I made lots and lots of friends and had the best time ever.’ She smiled her encouragement. ‘I know that you will too, Marcus.’