Skinny-Dipping at Monster Lake

Skinny-Dipping at Monster Lake

by Bill Wallace

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Kent doesn't believe in monsters. But he knows he saw two gleaming yellow eyes beneath the surface of Cedar Lake when he and his buddies were camping at the lake. When he sneaks out alone a few nights later to investigate, the eyes return -- and they seem to be following him.
Kent and his friends are determined to solve the mystery of the Cedar Lake monster. But… See more details below


Kent doesn't believe in monsters. But he knows he saw two gleaming yellow eyes beneath the surface of Cedar Lake when he and his buddies were camping at the lake. When he sneaks out alone a few nights later to investigate, the eyes return -- and they seem to be following him.
Kent and his friends are determined to solve the mystery of the Cedar Lake monster. But what they discover one dark summer night is just as surprising as a monster -- and just as dangerous.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
A group of twelve-year-old boys who call themselves the Seventh Cavalry investigate a mysterious monster that haunts a local lake in this lightweight adventure/mystery. Spending most of their free time riding horses, fishing and just hanging out, the boys are terrified one evening to confront two gleaming lights underneath the surface of the water. Mustering their courage, they make elaborate plans to discover the truth behind the lights. Jordan, the resident brain, is teased about his vocabulary and his absent-mindedness, but his knowledge of Morse code helps the boys not only solve the mystery but also save the life of their eccentric neighbor, in an exciting climax involving an underwater rescue led by Kent's paramedic father and made possible by Kent's quick thinking. The relationship between Kent and his dad is touching and realistic. While the prose is somewhat lightweight, the action doesn't stop, and many boys, even reluctant readers, will be attracted to this adventure story. 2003, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, Ages 8 to 12.
— Anne Marie Pace
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-School's out and Kent and his friends, tired of their usual pastimes, plan to fish and camp overnight. The expedition is a big success, complete with skinny-dipping, a huge catch, and some excitement. Rumor has it that Cedar Lake is home to a giant, yellow-eyed monster. When the 12-year-old protagonist sees eerie, glowing eyes, he is terrified, yet determined to figure out the mystery. On a second outing, a friend discerns an underwater SOS and suspects someone is trapped in a submarine. The boys call EMS, and Kent's dad, a paramedic trained in underwater rescue, saves the day with his son's help. Money troubles have forced their neighbor Mrs. Baum to search the lake in her ailing husband's sub for a platinum mine and to dig up her yard for the silver dollars her grandfather purportedly buried there. Kent accidentally finds the valuable coins, becoming a hero twice over. This old-fashioned adventure has wide appeal, and the youngsters' games and camaraderie will hook even reluctant readers. Though Mrs. Baum's story is a bit convoluted, the pieces fit together in the end, and readers will admire Kent's insight and courage.-Barbara Auerbach, New York City Public Schools Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
Booklist Suspense and humor...and wholesome kid characters...great for summer reading.

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8 - 12 Years

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Chapter 1

The sound knifed through the morning air like fingernails scraping on a chalkboard. The gentle swish of the summer breeze, the soft peaceful rhythm of waves lapping on the shore, the steady clip clop of horses' hooves — all were shattered by the awful screeching sound.

The scream sent a chill up my spine. I shuddered. Duke shied. I had to grab the saddle horn to keep from sliding off his back. The little hairs at the base of my neck tingled. I pulled Duke's reins. Heard him snort when he stopped. And...

For just an instant I almost knew how General Custer and the Seventh Cavalry must have felt when the Sioux screamed their war cries and thundered down on them.


The scream came again.

"You boys get out of here!"

With a tug on Duke's reins, I turned him and headed back the way we came. I don't know what made me glance over my shoulder. Well — I guess I did know. Jordan and I had been next-door neighbors ever since we moved to Cedar Lake. I knew him. That's why I looked back.

Sure enough, he was still headed toward the shore.


Resting the book he was reading on his saddle horn, he didn't look up. I sucked in a deep breath.


His head snapped. Startled, he blinked a couple of times, then, with a finger, shoved his glasses up on the bridge of his nose.

"Huh? What?"

"This way."

"Why?" He frowned. "We're supposed to find the rest of our unit."

"I know, but we have to go around." With a nod I motioned toward the rickety old boathouse. "Mrs. Baum. Didn't you hear her screaming at us?"

Jordan shrugged. "Not really." He pointed down at the book. "Do you know that one coaxial cable can carry up to 132,000 conversations simultaneously?"

"Come on, Jordan," I said with a sigh. Jordan was the only guy I knew who read books while he was riding his horse.

He frowned at Mrs. Baum over the top of his glasses and gave a little snort. "The Seventh Cavalry wouldn't run from some batty old hermit. Especially a crazy old woman like her."

"Come on, Jordan."

Reluctantly he tugged on Mac's right rein. They turned and trotted after Duke and me.

Jordan was right. What kind of cavalry officer would turn tail and run from some old grouch like Mrs. Baum? Maybe I just wasn't officer material, after all. I'd probably be an embarrassment to the whole unit.

Okay. So we really weren't the Seventh Cavalry. We weren't even cavalry, if you wanted to get technical about it. We were just a bunch of guys who lived around Cedar Lake and had horses.

Jordan came up with the name — The Seventh Cavalry — because there were seven of us. Well, there were seven until Foster moved in. But Seventh Cavalry sounded better than Eighth Cavalry.

I mean, who ever heard of the Eighth Cavalry?

Chet Bently knew nearly everything there was to know about history. He said there was an Eighth Cavalry. But he also said the Seventh Cavalry was the most famous mounted division in history. General George Armstrong Custer. Battle of the Little Big Horn. Chet said everybody knew about that. He was into history, like, big time. Straight A's in class and even made it a point to straighten Mrs. Oden out if she got some of her facts mixed up. Zane Parker didn't like history. His dad did, though. He'd overheard his father talking about General Custer and those guys, so when Jordan came up with the name, Chet and Zane wouldn't even consider some of the other suggestions. From that day on, we were the Seventh Cavalry.

Daniel Shift would be the general. There was no doubt in my mind about that. He always had to be the leader — the guy in charge. Daniel was popular and rich, both.

Jordan would vote for me. If we could keep his attention long enough for him to vote. Next to Ted Aikman, Jordan was probably my best friend. Jordan could be kind of weird at times. Once when I was complaining about him, Mom said: "He just marches to a different drummer." I wasn't sure what that meant, but it probably had something to do with Jordan always having his mind on computers or reading something, instead of paying attention to what everyone else in the world was doing at the time.

Anyway, Jordan would vote for me. Chet would vote for Daniel. They were next-door neighbors. Pepper would probably vote for him, too, as would Zane. That only left Foster. He was the wild card. Foster was usually on my team, when we divided up for sports or wars or stuff. He didn't like it much, though. That's 'cause we usually lost.

Course Foster didn't like much of anything. He especially hated his name. It used to be Foster DeJarno. Then his mom and dad got a divorce. His mom remarried a guy she used to work with named Cliff Foster. When he legally adopted Foster, that made his name Foster Foster. (I couldn't help but grin every time I thought about it.) Anyway, Foster Foster could go either direction. If I got to him first and convinced him to vote for me...well...

That would give us a four to four vote. Maybe we could think of some kind of competition to break the tie, and I could beat Daniel. Maybe...

Jordan snapped me from my daydreams about being general of the Seventh Cavalry. He rode past me, swung down from his horse, and started to open the gate.


He lifted the wire from the top post. I took a deep breath.


Shoving his glasses up on the bridge of his nose, he looked around. When he spotted me, he smiled.


"What are you doing?"

"Opening the gate."


He stood there a moment with his mouth open. Finally he shrugged.

"I don't know."

Duke and I headed up the path along the fence. With one foot in the stirrup, Jordan hopped about three times, then swung his leg over Mac, and they trotted after us. Mrs. Baum never yelled if we went across the back of her place. She didn't even seem to notice, for that matter, if we practically rode through her backyard.

She just didn't want us riding between her house and the lake.

Really we didn't have to go across her place at all. We could ride a little farther west and go by way of Mr. Heart's farm. He didn't mind. But if we went that way, we had to go through five fences instead of just two. Ended up taking us twice as long. Staying down by the water was even shorter. That's why we forgot, sometimes, to ride behind Mrs. Baum's house.

"I always thought it was kind of weird," I said, as much to myself as to Jordan. "I mean, if her front yard was beautiful and landscaped or something like that, I could understand. But her front yard looks terrible. There are so many gopher mounds in it — well, it looks like some little kid was playing with a toy dump truck and left hundreds of fresh dirt piles. I can't understand why she gets so bent out of shape. Can you?"

Jordan didn't answer.

"Jordan! What do you think?"

Head cocked to one side, my friend finally shrugged.

"I think they should have named it something besides Cedar Lake. I mean, every place we went on vacation last summer, we found a Cedar Lake. There's one in Kansas and one in Colorado. Montana's got a Cedar Lake, and there are two in Oregon. Most folks just call this Monster Lake, anyway. Why couldn't the people here come up with something more original? Like Loch Ness Lake. I mean, we're supposed to have a monster living in the lake, just like in Scotland. My father said that he saw the eyes one night when he and Mom were driving home from the movies. Why don't they just call it Monster Lake? Or Lake Nessie? Or..."

My mouth fell open.

For a moment I was totally lost and confused. Then I couldn't figure out why I felt that way. After all, for Jordan, it wasn't that unusual. Here I was, talking about Mrs. Baum and her ugly front yard. Naturally...Jordan would be thinking about something altogether different. I shook my head, closed my mouth, and kept riding.

We had to get to Foster before Daniel did. Somehow, I had to talk him into voting for me.

Duke stopped quite a ways from the gate at the far side of Mrs. Baum's place. I kicked him and he went a few steps farther, then stopped again.

I should have known — right then.

Swinging down from the saddle, I tugged at the reins and practically dragged him to the fence. Once there I reached for the wire latch on the gatepost. The second I did, I realized I was in trouble.

Duke tugged at the reins and tried to back up. My eyes flashed. Twigs snapped from a pile of brush to my left. My head jerked around, just in time to see the spear.


Split-second reaction was all that saved me. I jumped back, leaning to the side. The spear missed me and hit Duke in the shoulder.

Jordan and I were unarmed. We hadn't even picked a spear yet.

Another spear hit Jordan. He yelled. I saw the disgusted look on his face when he swung down from the saddle and turned to fall.

There was no time to run. I bent over and grabbed for the spear on the ground. Another spear flew from a huge cottonwood, behind me and just a little to my left.

The second one got me — right in the...

Well, I was bent over.

Copyright © 2003 by Bill Wallace

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