Chapter 19



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"Where do we start?" Cet asked, depressed.   

"The drums," Phil answered.  

"That's right!" Biff exclaimed, snapping his fingers.  "They're back."  

"Back?" Artie asked, his eyes narrowing on Biff.  

"I think it's time we filled Artie in on everything that's been going on," Phil said, looking Mr. Mondello squarely in the eyes.  

Mr. Mondello heaved a deep sigh and nodded, then proceeded to explain to Artie, pausing long enough to calm him down when he got to the part about Dennie being poisoned.  

"I think we should look for Dennie where he vanished," Artie said when his dad finished.  Artie's words remained slow but his resolve was strong.  "Dr. Duvalier will  not allow me out tonight, but you can listen for the drums and try to find Dennie that way.  If you have no luck, we will all go to Jima's tomorrow."  

"Good idea," Phil approved.  "But, do you think you should be up and about so soon?"  

"I'm feeling much better," Artie replied.  "But I am hungry," he added with a smile.  

"And that is the best news I've heard all evening," Mr. Mondello said, smiling at his son.  "I'll see if Marla has dinner ready," he added, standing up and going to the door.  He opened the door, then stopped and looked at Artie.  "We'll find him," he promised.  

"I know," Artie answered, not quite sure.  


"Okay, no problems tonight," Phil ordered Chet and Biff as they got ready to leave the guest house later that evening.  "Neither of the Mondellos can take much more stress."  

"Agreed," Biff said.  "We stick together."  

"What if we get lost?" Chet asked, casting a sly look in Biff's direction.  

"I have a compass," Phil stated, grinning at Biff too.  

"Aw, cut it out," Biff growled, opening the rear door of the guest house.  "They've already started.  Let's go," he added, leading the way out into the dark night.  

"It's darker tonight," Chet whispered, spooked by the eerieness.  

Phil looked up.  "It's clouding up," he said.  "We'd better step on it.  If it starts pouring, we may miss it."  

The three traveled toward the sound of the drums.  Chet realized this ritual was not in the same location as the one he and Dennie had attended, but it was obvious to see the ritual was the same.  

"Let's follow 'em," Chet whispered to Phil and Biff as the zombies began their trek.  

"No," Phil whispered back, his eyes locked on the short man who seemed to be watching the ritual with an air of leadership.  "See that guy," Phil whispered, pointing the man out to his friends.  "I think he's in charge."  

"And you think he may lead us to Dennie," Biff said softly.  

"Right," Phil agreed.  "Dennie's following them last time didn't really help anything, so tonight we do something different."  They waited until the zombies had left then remained to watch the balance of the ritual.  

"Chet, old buddy," Biff whispered, clapping Chet on the back.  "I'll never doubt anything you say again."  

Chet smiled smugly as the beautiful lady from the other night put in an appearance.  When the festivities were about to draw to a close, the man whom Phil had kept his eyes on all night left the clearing.  

"Keep quiet," Phil ordered as they took off after him.  "No talking and watch where you step," he warned, not wanting their presence to be given away by anything as mundane as a cracked branch.  

They followed the man, keeping at least one hundred feet back, for almost an hour.  They hid behind the trees and watched as the man entered a small cabin.  

"I don't think we're on the Duvalier's land any more," Phil told the others. "Or Jima's either.  You two keep watch here," he continued.  "I'm going to check it out."  

Biff moved closer to the house after Phil had moved on.  He wanted to be able to run to Phil's aid if he needed it.  Chet remained where he was, ready to go and get Mr. Mondello if necessary.  

Phil crept to the house, carefully looking around to see if there was a sentry.  He peered in the window.  The man was looking thoughtfully at a set of papers.  Finally, frowning, he folded the papers and put them in a small chest.  He put the chest on the second shelf of a bookcase and headed for the door.   Phil quickly moved away from the window and backed into the bushes surrounding the house as the man left the cabin and took off.   

After the man disappeared from view, Phil went to the door.  It opened easily.  'He is probably the baddest dude in the area,' Phil thought grimly.  'Of course, he doesn't have to lock the place up.'  

Phil entered the house and went straight for the small chest.  He pulled out the papers.  "Great," he moaned, unable to read them.  Not wanting to remove the papers in case it would put Dennie in more jeopardy, he pulled out a crumpled piece of paper from the waste can by the table and, using his own pen, copied the first two paragraphs.  Dr. Duvalier, he knew, would be able to interpret  the words.  

Phil put his copy into his pocket, then put the other back in the chest and returned it to the bookshelf.  He walked down a narrow hallway and came to a door.  He opened it and turned the light on, Phil knew most of the houses in the area operated on generators, electricity being a pricey commodity for this area.  

"Dennie!" Phil gasped.  He had hoped to find Dennie, but hadn't really expected to.  He rushed over, fear clutching his heart, making it patter faster, feeling not unlike a sneeze which shakes your entire body upon release.  

Dennie lay still, his eyes gazing up at the ceiling where two large roaches could be seen scurrying away form the light.  

Phil touched Dennie's chest, his face white.  "You're not dead," he said.  "You're not dead, you're not dead," he kept repeating, trying hard to convince himself of this fact.  "It's what was used on Artie.  You're not dead," he said again, tears making a path upon his cheeks.

"I....I'll go get Biff," he told Dennie.  He took off at a run, wishing Biff had come inside with him.  He didn't want to leave Dennie alone for a second, but he had no choice.  He raced to the door, opened it and stepped outside, ready to yell for Biff.  

He froze when he saw four men heading towards the cabin.  He thought briefly that he, Biff and Chet could take them, but as they neared, Phil saw they were armed.  

Phil closed the door and backed  into the bushes.  He watched as the four men entered the cabin.  After a minute, Phil crept back up to peer in the window.  The four men were lounging around.  Phil suspected they were waiting for the short man to return.  

He cursed under his breath, wishing they hadn't come, wishing he hadn't left the light on and the door open to the room where Dennie lay.  They had to have help, he decided.  Biff and Chet could keep watch and he would go for back-up.  

Phil returned to where he had left Chet, pulling Biff along with him as he passed.  He told them his plan, then took off.  


"They haven't returned," Mr. Mondello said, entering the kitchen at the manor.  It was half an hour after sunrise and he had just been to the guest house to see if the trio had any luck and if they were ready to begin the day's search.  

"Do you think something's happened to them?"  Artie asked in a slow, worried tone from his chair at the table.  No one answered, for at that moment a loud bang was heard followed by running footsteps as Phil came rushing through the house shouting for Mr. Mondello.  

"Here!" Mr. Mondello answered the call, going to the door leading into the dining room and pushing it open.  

Phil came into the kitchen, breathing heavily, and told them about finding Dennie and the four armed men who were at the cabin.  He pulled the paper from his pocket and handed it to Dr. Duvalier, telling about the papers in the chest.  "Maybe you can figure out what the papers are for while we rescue Dennie," Phil ended.  

"Where is he?" Artie asked, relief in his brown eyes.  

"Not sure," Phil answered.  "I'm pretty sure it's somewhere on the plantation next to this one.  Not  Jima's plantation, though.  It was in a different direction."  he ended.  

"There isn't another plantation around here," Dr. Duvalier said, looking at Phil thoughtfully.  "This one meets the Demonet  plantation at one side, the sea at another, and our other border belongs to the Haitian government."  


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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.