Wrong Place, (Really) Wrong Time
I’m hanging out in the library, minding my own business and trying to come up with something to write for my ancient history report, when our school’s librarian comes up to me.
“Luis Ramirez,” Ms. Tremt says, standing over me and looking down as if I’m in trouble. (I’m not, by the way. This time, at least.) “I need to speak to you about a special project. In my office.”
She turns on her heel and marches to her office on the other side of the library. Immediately, I jump up from my books, fist pump, and yell, “All right!”
because, let me tell you something, the librarian at Sands Middle School is no ordinary librarian, and when she asks to see you, it isn’t about something as boring as an overdue library book.
Unfortunately, I yell a little too loudly and fist pump a little too enthusiastically, because every single kid in the library turns to stare at me. I grin and shrug my shoulders at them, as if I just can’t help being myself, and then dart after Ms. Tremt. When I’m inside her office, she motions with her hand for me to close the door.
“A bit more subtlety would be appreciated, Mr. Ramirez,” she says, frowning. “If I’d wanted to create a scene, I could have just hollered at you from here.”
“I’m sorry, Ms. Tremt,” I say sincerely. “I couldn’t help it. I’m so excited you chose me! I’ve been waiting for my turn. You have chosen me, right? That’s why I’m here?”
Ms. Tremt’s face cracks a smile. “I won’t keep you in suspense, Luis. Yes, it is your turn.”
I break into a victory dance, glad that the kids in the library can’t see me. But I can’t help it! Because, like I said, Valerie Tremt isn’t an ordinary librarian. Valerie Tremt isn’t even an
ordinary name. It’s an anagram for “time traveler,” and that’s what she is. Although not everyone at our school knows it, just a few of us.
I’ve already time traveled, by the way. Just once, with my buddies Matt and Grace. But that was really Matt’s adventure, and I’ve been waiting patiently since then for her to choose me for an adventure of my own.
Ms. Tremt opens a locked drawer in her desk and holds up The Book of Memories, which is a large leather book with gold-gilded pages. Only it’s not a book; it’s a time-travel device. Can you believe that? It’s not even a fancy car or a tollbooth. Just a book!
“Your classmate, Jada Reese, has just returned from her visit to 1977,” Ms. Tremt explains. “So now it’s your turn. I’d like you to think about what time period you would like to visit, and also whom you would like to bring with you, as I really don’t like anyone traveling through time alone.”
There’s something about the way she says it that makes me curious. “How come?” I ask.
A shadow passes over Ms. Tremt’s face, so quickly that it’s gone before I can really be sure it
was even there. “No specific reason,” she replies. “Although two brains are always better than one. And time travel does require a person to think on their feet.”
That’s for sure. My first trip already taught me that when we tried to save Matt’s grandfather from making a false step that would ruin his future career as a baseball player forever.
I feel a tingly sensation in my arms and legs. Is it nerves? Or are they as excited as the rest of me? “Ms. Tremt, I accept the challenge!”
She nods. “Of course you do, Luis. You’re a bright young man, with a head for facts and a thirst for adventure. You leave tomorrow after school. By lunchtime tomorrow, I need you to let me know where you plan to go and with whom. I’ll get the necessary wardrobe and accessories together.”
I nod okay. Before I walk out, I say, “Thanks for picking me, Ms. Tremt. I know you have a lot of kids to choose from.”
“You’re very welcome, Luis. I do tend to lean on my best and brightest.”
She gives me a wink, and feeling like I could fly if I had to, I waltz out of her office and over
to my books. Tony Fracassi from my gym class looks over and whispers, “Hey, Luis, are you in trouble? Did you get yelled at?”
Grinning from ear to ear, I say, “Nope. In fact, I’m one lucky guy! And it’s about time, too!” I laugh loudly at my private joke, and Tony rolls his eyes. I remind myself to chill out and keep Ms. Tremt’s secret, or she might revoke my time-traveling permit.
I find a free computer and sit down to start researching potential time periods. There are so many amazing places I want to go. I’ve always wanted to see how they built the Great Wall of China, or visit the original Greek Olympics, or maybe go exploring with Lewis and Clark. How am I ever going to choose just one?
I decide to print out a bunch of pages of options and read them at home tonight. That way I can take my time and really think about it. After all, I might not get another chance. So this has to be the best time-travel adventure anyone has ever gone on.
As I’m printing out pages, I notice Ms. Tremt come out of her office, set up a ladder, and then begin dusting the smoke detectors with a giant
purple feather duster. It’s the kind of oddball thing she’s known for, that and the bright, furry scarves that she wears to school every day.
“I didn’t know you had to dust smoke detectors,” I say as I pack up to leave.
Ms. Tremt looks at me pointedly. “Ah, well, if they go off for any reason, they set off the sprinkler system, and water is the great enemy of books, Luis, is it not? Remember that.”
“Uh, sure, Ms. Tremt,” I say. “I will.”
“See you tomorrow, Luis. I’ll be very curious to hear your decision.”
• • •
As soon as school gets out, I head over to my friend Matt’s house. I have to tell someone about my adventure and I’m hoping I can get Matt to come along. He’s smart and quick and a good friend to have around when you’re time traveling. (Isn’t that a weird thing to think about? But it’s true!)
Matt is putting a frozen pizza in the oven when I arrive. He’s always starving, which is another reason I like him. “Want to shoot some hoops after I eat?”
I shake my head no, even though I’d like to.
Shooting hoops will have to wait while I make the biggest decision of my life. “Ms. Tremt told me today that I get to go next. I leave tomorrow.”
Matt’s face lights up. “No way! That’s awesome! I wasn’t sure if she was still letting kids do it. I haven’t heard anything from anyone. Where are you going to go?”
I open my backpack and pull out a folder of all the pages I printed out. I have so many to choose from, but there’s one that I think would not only be the adventure of a lifetime, but make the rest of my life more amazing too.
I slide the top sheet out of the folder and place it on the table in front of Matt.
“ ‘The Lost Treasure of Captain William Kidd,’ ” Matt reads aloud. “No way. No way!”
See? I told you he was smart. He already gets my idea.
“I read a ton about this guy,” I tell him. “He stashed stuff all over the world, and most of it was never found. This article says there’s a good chance some of his treasure is still buried in New Jersey. It even names specific places, like Cape May, Toms River, and Whales Creek.”
“But if people know that, and, like, there’s an article online about it, how come it still isn’t found?” Matt asks.
“Because it could be underwater, or in a man-made cave or something,” I tell him. “It could be anywhere! Only Kidd knows the exact landmarks and latitudes and longitudes of the locations. People have been looking for years. They did find some stuff off the coast of Long Island a few years ago. But most of the treasure is still out there.”
The oven timer dings, and Matt pulls out the pizza. He slices it up and hands me a piece. Gratefully, I accept it. Treasure talk makes me hungry.
“So, what’s your plan exactly?” Matt asks.
This is also why I like Matt. He doesn’t just tell me it’s a crazy idea. He asks for my plan.
“Simple,” I say. “All I need to do is go back to Captain Kidd’s ship, find out exactly where he buried the treasure, and then, when I come back to the present, I’ll go and claim it.”
Matt snorts. “That’s all you need to do, huh? How many times have you hung out with pirates, Luis?”
“Zero, obviously. How many times have you?”
“Zero,” he says, taking a second slice of pizza.
“But I know this—Captain Kidd isn’t going to just tell you where the treasure is. If it were that easy, his buddies would have all known too, and one of them would have claimed the treasure after he was dead. That was his greatest secret. That means he guarded it with his life.”
I wipe my mouth with a paper towel and ponder this. Matt does make a good point. However, our middle school librarian is a time traveler. I, myself, am about to embark on my second time-travel adventure. I have seen the magical Book of Memories in action. Those are things that all sound impossible but that I know are true. Therefore, while it may sound impossible to find out where a pirate has hidden his treasure, I know that the impossible can be possible. If you know what I mean.
Besides, there is no way I’m going to let some regular old, real-life pirate stop me.
“I’ll just convince him to tell me,” I tell Matt confidently.
Matt shakes his head. “Luis, you’re a popular guy, and everyone at Sands likes you, but this isn’t a roomful of seventh graders. You’re talking about sneaking onto a ship of eighteenth-century
pirates, grown men who have risked their lives for this gold. And then trying to trick the smartest one of them all! It’s impossible, even for you.”
I shrug. I can do it; I know I can. My mom has always told me I have a big imagination, although generally she says it when I come up with some really creative story or fib to cover up something I’ve done wrong. And big imaginations can make big things happen.
“Matt, you are very wise,” I say. “That’s why I need you to come with me—to keep me from doing anything stupid.”
Matt sighs. “I’d like to, man, but no thanks. I’ve had my adventure, and it worked out great for my grandfather and our family, but I’m done. I don’t want to go again. Especially with a bunch of pirates. That’s just crazy.”
I decide to ignore that last comment. Matt doesn’t understand how this treasure will not only change the rest of my life, but it’ll make me famous, too. And I’ve always (secretly) wanted to be famous for something. Anything!
“Then who should I pick, if you won’t come?” I ask. “Ms. Tremt said I should bring a buddy.”
“A bodyguard might be more useful,” he jokes. “And by the way, I’m pretty sure Ms. Tremt told us in the beginning that we can’t plan a trip for selfish reasons, like winning the lottery or playing the stock market. I have a feeling treasure hunting isn’t allowed either.”
Oops, I forgot that. “But those things are cheating, you know, like using future information to go back and steal money from someone else who had rightfully won it. And this is different. No one has ever found this treasure, so it’s not like taking money from someone else. It’d be helping a great national treasure be found. I can donate some to a museum if you want.”
“It’s not about what I want,” Matt says. “It’s what Ms. Tremt will or won’t allow.”
“Well, what she won’t know won’t hurt her, right?” I say. “After all, she’s just a time traveler. Not a mind reader.”
Matt laughs and slaps my shoulder. “That’s right, Luis. She’s just a time traveler.”
“You won’t come with me?” I ask again.
“Nope. But I wish you luck, buddy. You’re going to need it.”