Being experienced divers, Dennie and Chet knew the best thing to do under the circumstances was to stay still. They held Artie as steady as they could and watched in terrified silence as the two creatures approached.
As the sharks neared, a school of fish swam in front of them heading in an westerly direction. The sharks turned sharply and followed. The boys continued to the surface. When they broke the water, Dennie gulped in fresh air while Chet looked around for Biff and Phil.
"You got him!" shouted Biff enthusiastically when he saw the trio. Biff and Phil, already stripped down to swim trunks, dove in and took over the task of getting Artie to land. Dennie and Chet, totally exhausted, followed at a slower pace.
"He's out of it," Biff said, as Dennie and Chet sank to their knees on the sand.
Dennie nodded, but waited a minute before responding. "We need to get him to the manor," he said. "Maybe the Duvaliers can cure this poison. They did when it was used on me."
By the time they reached the manor, Mr. Mondello had returned. Dennie filled his dad and the Duvaliers in on the rescue, ending with the fresh air he had inhaled.
"Can you help him?" Mr. Mondello asked his friend as he sat beside Artie on the bed, looking into his eyes with a penlight.
Dr. Duvalier looked up at Mr. Mondello, his eyes holding compassion. "The poison is throughout his system," he replied. "We could give him the antidote Dennie was given, but the leeches were a vital part of the treatment. They won't be able to help Artie."
"Isn't there another antidote?" Phil inquired. "Maybe something stronger than what you used on Dennie?"
"There are rumors," Mrs. Duvalier stated.
"But we really don't know," Dr. Duvalier added.
"Who would know?" Chet asked.
"Perhaps some of the locals," Dr. Duvalier answered.
"But we can't trust any of them," Biff said, scowling.
"Not on this plantation, anyway," Dennie interjected thoughtfully. "Jima and his mom and bandmates moved here after Jima's dad died," Dennie continued. "But his mother's family are natives."
"You boys go see Jima," Mr. Mondello said. "See if they, or someone they know, can help. I'll stay with Artie."
"You can use the truck," Dr. Duvalier told them, fishing a set of keys from his pants pocket. "You probably won't meet many people on the road between here and the next plantation. But be careful, anyway," he added.
"We will," Dennie promised as Biff took the keys.
After making a quick stop at the guest house to change out of their swim trunks, the boys climbed into the truck with Biff driving, Dennie in the passenger seat and Chet and Phil sat in the back. It wasn't long before the foursome arrived at Jima's.
Dennie knocked on the door and a dark-skinned lady with long, silky black hair opened the door. She looked curiously at the boys.
"Hello, Ma'am," Dennie greeted the woman. "My name is Dennie Mondello. I met Jima on the plane."
"My son spoke of you," the woman greeted Dennie with a warm smile. "I am Cara Demonet, Jima's mother. Please, come inside," she invited.
The boys were escorted inside and into the living room. "Please, sit down. I will retrieve Jima," she said, leaving the room.
Mrs. Demonet returned in a few minutes with Jima. "Dennie!" Jima exclaimed gaily, his eyes lighting up as he smiled. "I'm glad you could come."
"Thanks," Dennie said, returning the smile, although somewhat strained. "These are my friends," he added, introducing the other boys.
"I am very pleased to meet you," Jima said. "But you appear troubled. Have you not found your bandmate's corpse?"
"We found him," Dennie informed Jima. "About half an hour ago."
"And he isn't a corpse," Chet put in. "He's a zombie."
"I am sorry, my friend," Jima said, placing a consoling arm around Dennie's shoulders.
"Do you know anyone who could cure him?" Dennie asked, his blue eyes pleading.
Jima looked at the desperation in Dennie's eyes. "One moment," he replied, leaving the room.
The boys waited anxiously. Dennie stayed where Jima had left him and Chet remained seated on the sofa. Biff went to the window to look out and Phil went to Dennie's side and stood in silence. When Jima returned, he was accompanied by his mother and an older woman whom Dennie took to be Jima's grandmother because of the strong resemblance.
"This is my grandmother, Dora," Jima introduced the woman to the boys. "She is a mambo," he continued. "A priestess," he added in explanation.
Dennie looked into the old woman's gray eyes. "Can you help my bandmate?" he asked her.
"I have the knowledge," she admitted in stilted English. "But the magic your bandmate is under is powerful. The Bokur who does this to our people is evil and to be feared. He will seek vengeance upon those who defy him," she added, watching his face closely. "He will seek to destroy you."
"Artie's my bandmate," Dennie replied, his words simple, his face honest. "I would gladly trade places with him."
"Your feelings are true," Dora observed approvingly. "I will help your bandmate."
"Thank you," Dennie whispered, his eyes tearing up.
"You must bring him here," Dora instructed.
"Thank you," Dennie said again. He turned to Phil. "You guys go and get Artie," he ordered. "Dad too. I'm going to talk to Jima and see if he knows any of what has been going on around here."
Dora and Cara left the room to begin the preparations. Phil , Biff, and Chet left for the Duvalier plantation and Dennie and Jima sat down in the living room.
Dennie told Jima about the two men he had seen in the woods and about his being poisoned.
"You must have seen the Bokur," Jima told Dennie. "I have heard Jojje is small in stature but he is a very powerful man. You are most lucky to be alive after the encounter. It is too bad you did not get a good look at the other man," Jima continued. "You would have a better chance of having him punished for the crime."
"You mean the Bokur can get away with this?" Dennie demanded, his eyes flaring angrily.
"Calm down, my friend," Jima soothed Dennie. "The Bokur is feared by all. There are none who would help you to bring him to justice even though we do have laws forbidding the enslavement of people by the use of magic."
Jima stood up. "Come," he ordered, as Dennie stood. "I will show you around the plantation."
"Thanks," Dennie replied with a smile. "I'd like that."
After several minutes of walking, the two arrived at a large barn. There, three men were standing together, talking. "Dennie, I would like you to meet my three bandmates. This is Kreg, the eldest, and Anthony is next in line, then Milan. I come next and then there is Jayto, he is staying with a friend for a few days," Jima made the introductions. "Guys, this is Dennie Mondello. He is staying at the Duvalier's."
"Nice to meet you," Dennie said, shaking Milan's hand.
"And you," Milan responded with a smile. "I must be off," he added. "Duty calls."
"Milan is in charge if our livestock," Jima explained. Dennie's eyes widened questioningly. "We have some goats and chickens," Jima explained. "No cattle," he added, laughing.
Anthony shook Dennie's hand. "I must go as well," he said. "I have much to do before nightfall. I am in charge of the harvest this year."
"And what are you in charge of?" Dennie asked Kreg, trying to draw the solemn, dark-haired man into conversation.
Kreg gave Dennie a hard look. "Everything," he replied before turning and stalking off.
"Did I strike a nerve?" Dennie asked Jima, cocking his head to one side.
"Kreg has been like that since dad died," Jima answered. "But he is always there if we need him. I think he just needs to relax a bit."
Dennie was saved from a response by the arrival of the truck driven by Dr. Duvalier. Phil sat in the passenger seat while Chet and Biff were in the back helping Mr. Mondello with Artie.
Dennie and Jima rushed over to the truck and helped get Artie down and into the house. Cara led them through the house and into the back yard. They lowered Artie to the ground as directed, and Dora began chanting and dancing around Artie, sprinkling flower petals around his body.
When a petal fell onto his face, she stopped her chants and gyrations and took the errant petal. She dipped it into a wooden bowl filled with liquid until the petal had become saturated. She then removed the petal and placed it beneath Artie's tongue, once again, chanting.
When she quit speaking, her eyes sought out Dennie's and she bade him to kneel beside her. "Your bond is great," she said. "You must sacrifice of yourself to allow your bandmate to return to the living."
The Mondello Boys belong to Simon and Schuster and the Stratemeyer Foundation. The Mondello Boys Fan Fiction authors of the Mondello Detective Agency have just borrowed them for an adventure or two. The authors promise to put the boys back when they are done with them. The authors do claim copyright to the original characters in this story. Please do not borrow original characters without express permission of the authors.