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Hide & Seek

“Shhh, he will hear you.”  Eight year old, Kelly was looking for the children who had run to hide as well as possible in the time it took him to count to fifty, which was a fairly long time, as he had gotten confused about what number came next and had actually started over.  That might not have been in the rules…  but what could a guy do?

As soon as he arrived at number fifty he immediately pulled off the blind fold and began to look around for the six kids who had run off at number one… the first number one.

There was not a child,  boy or girl, in view.  So he did a slow turn trying to decide which way looked to have the most likely hiding places.  Kelly was hampered by a temporary blindness, left by the tightly tied blind fold put on by Bella, who the oldest at nine and did a mean knot.

The sun was low, so soon they would all have to go home, once it had gone down.  This game may not be finished before then, which was fine with Kelly, as he simply hated to be “it!”

He stepped quietly to the left toward the cave he knew was on that side of the beach.  The sand gave up no clues as about two million foot prints had been pounded into it since it was smooth as silk after the morning’s high tide.

If he was very quiet he might hear one of the girls giggle.  Seven year olds  Kyren, his own sister, Rory and little Victoria,  were unable to stay very quiet for very long, being , you know, girls.  The boys, nine year old, Hayden,  Skyler,  youngest at six  and especially he, himself, who was almost as old as Hayden at eight and a half, were more clever and harder to find.

So when he stepped into the cave he was startled by the deep male voice that he heard speaking softly just around the rocky bend and to the far back.

The few kids who had headed for the cave had been stopped by Hayden, who had whispered, for all hiders to hear,

“No don’t go in the cave he will look there first thing.”  Thus they had all turned in the opposite direction.

Now as Kelly paused to listen he heard the slightly muffled voice say,

“Over here by this large loose boulder.”  Kelly didn’t recognize it so he sucked in his breath and his tummy, as he pulled himself tightly into a narrow crevasse.  It was deep in shadow at this time of day and so the two men passed him as they left without knowing he was there.

They left the little boy to wonder what was at the large boulder which was loose,  as they made a jump over incoming water from the left side of the cave and around out of sight, Kelly knew there would be no children hiding back there, so he left the cave, more intent on finding where some kids were hiding, obviously not in here.

Even so, as he hunted in the new direction, his mind was curious about what the men had been talking about.  He looked around for them and saw no one like the two who had almost touched him, even though he watched, as they snuck by they were old…  both over 18.

He was right about one thing. A voice from the top of the deck overlooking the sand called them to come in.  Kelly noted the places the children peeked out from as they began to take the long stairs up to the house.

He would have found them soon anyway as most were comfortably under one or the other of the heap of over turned kayaks on the hill side.

Kelly was all the way in the house before he remembered the men,  who had been in the cave.   It was too late now .  He would go check it out tomorrow early, though.

The trouble was that he had all night to think about it.  What were they either hiding or finding?  How big was the boulder and even more curious how loose?  Followed closely by Who? and Why?  He made the decision to not mention the men to any of the kids, even the boys.  At least until he knew there was something to talk about… which was probably in the cave.  He was  tempted to take a flashlight and go look now, but two things stopped him.  First,  even a flash light would probably not be enough light in that dark cave, and two…  he was afraid of the dark.

So he slept and dreamed of Pirates and a trunk full of gems.

The pleasant smell of coffee woke him up, just as it always did.  He never drank it.  His Mom made him and his sister, Rory, hot chocolate, but every morning there was that nice. strong black coffee smell to awaken him.

Then he sat up suddenly alert.  He had something to do this morning.  What was it?  Then he had a picture of the men in the cave and quickly pulled on his T-shirt and jeans to run outside.  He paused over his shoes then left them.  They would only get full of sand.

On his way he grabbed the flashlight from the kitchen.

“Your hot chocolate is ready.” his mother said, as he rushed past her.

“I’ll be back in a sec, I just need to see what I left in the cave.”   Kelly hollered, as he dashed out the back door and down the steps.

At the cave entrance he stopped.  Suppose they’re in there already,   So only one slow step at a time,  he went from the front to the very back.  Shivers ran down his spine as he came to the bend that had concealed the men last night.  With a careful peek, he found that he was all alone.

He took several big breaths.  Kelly was winded from running down but more, he had held his breath from fear since entering the opening in the rocky wall.

He looked back to gage where the ocean tide was rolling up on the sand and rocks .  Good.  The water wouldn’t be coming in for a while yet.  But he knew the waves often broke with a boom right there as the water began to fill the entire cave.

What should he do first?  With the flashlight in one hand,  he used the other  to tug at each boulder that was within his reach, looking for that mentioned loose one stone, with no luck.

A voice behind him asked,

“Whatcha  lookin’ for.”  Kelly jumped a mile.  He was not expecting that even from his sister, Rory, although he should have. He never went anywhere or did anything, but she didn’t turn up right behind him. She was a year younger and that had once made a great deal of difference, but he noticed that as time passed their ages grew closer together.  But strangely she remained a year younger.   He meant to ask his Dad about that but, lately he was too interested in what was going on in the cove.  He answered her.  He had to be nice his Mom insisted.

“I’m just testing the rocks to see if they are all nice and tight.  You can help if you want to.  If you find a loose one, let me know so I can fix it. “

“I don’t have a flashlight.” Rory complained.

‘You don’t need one.  If the rock doesn’t move, it’s okay for years yet. Just leave it.  But if it wiggles, tell me.”

“You have a flashlight.”

“Okay,  Okay, Here, you take the flashlight.”  Rory reached out and took it from him and using it at the beginning to shine it up to today’s very high  ceiling.

After a couple of minutes she complained again.  “I can’t do both.  It’s too hard to shine the light and wiggle the rock at the same time.  Here take it back!”  She gave it a baby toss in his direction but too high.  It hit the wall behind him and bounced off.

Kelly tried to catch it, but after it hit the high wall, it bounced toward Rory and hit another rock on the curve of the wall bend.  However Kelly heard at once that this one had a different sound, so he picked up the light from the cave sandy floor and began to tap each one with the rather hard but rubbery covered flashlight.   Standing on tip toe and stretching his arm as high as he could,  he heard it again.  That dull hollow thud.  That must be the loose one, but he could not reach it with his fingers.  However, thanks to Rory he now knew which one he was looking for.

The floor, or anyway, the bottom of the cave was different every day.  Sometimes a high rough tide brought in so much sand and so many boulders that he could even touch the ceiling standing on the bottom and reaching up.  Then next time the tide might take those same things out and leave a floor of sand and pebbles that is scraped clean so low that the ceiling was far, far, beyond reach… even by Daddy.  Some day he was going to do a science report about that as soon as he had time to chart the direction the waves came from and what each different direction did to take out or put in sand and rocks.

Today he only wanted to touch that dull sounding boulder in case it sounded that way because it was so loose,  thus the one the men talked about.

Two very large, rather round, boulders were left this time pushed up against the far back wall.  Kelly decided to try to roll one to a place under the smooth loose one he wanted to test.  Rory leaned in to help him.

Together it was slow work, but it did move, though slowly, over the sand.  If a little rock blocked the way Rory moved it.

Once it was in place Kelly tried to stand on it and reach the dull sounding one.  He was still about a foot too short.  Outside where some more debris piled up where he found a light stick of wood that appeared to be the right size for him to hit the questionable stone, so standing on the rock he gave it a good strong tap.  It was definitely loose, in fact it moved in tighter… so now what?

Then he tilted his head and listened at the cave entrance.  Someone was stepping from one flat rock to another and occasionally into the shallow in between puddles trying to make their way into the cave.

“It’s Hide and Seek, Rory.”   Kelly whispered.  “Quick hide down behind that far boulder and stay very quiet.  I’ll be right here.”  He stood straight and thin pressed into a narrow crevasse.  Of course it could be just another neighborhood visitor, they would stay hidden until they found out.

Strange as it seems, only the regulars seemed to know about the cave.  The cliff that sheltered it was three times higher and wide enough to start here at this cove and bent enough around to face the next out of sight beach cove and that long, flat surface of volcanic rock where fishermen often stood fishing, without ever noticing the hidden little cave entrance .

With a top over-hang like a ledge above and the sides an uneven mixture of wavy black Lava rock and gray, granite boulders, heaped this way and that with occasional white or pink quartz lumps and even once the largest single piece of Jade ever found in a cliff side, Which of course was now gone to a museum, but many smaller jades stuck between to prove that find.

There were so many interesting things around this cliff besides the soft soil which slipped down into the sand with each rain and the tufts of very determined grasses that grew where it could pocket a little water from the ocean spray, the cliff was also a  daring climb for little kids, who’s  Moms were always calling them to…   “ Get down from there!”

Whatever the reason, this simple cave was very rarely discovered by a stranger, especially as the entire inside was often filled with moving water.

The man who made his way through was a stranger to Kelly, who was born and raised near here and was playing out on this beach so often, that most everyone knew his name.

This fellow was one of last night’s men.  Kelly wondered,  was the other man on his way?  And how long could little Rory stay hidden?

The man stood on the rock the children had rolled there and reached for the smooth granite stone,   He used both hands to tug at it and Kelly watched as the rock slid out and dropped down to the sand below.  Then he reached in and pulled a small plastic box out.  He sat down on the standing boulder to open it, but just before he did, Rory sneezed and stood up.

The man was so startled that he dropped the plastic box.  Rory was so frightened that she took one look at the situation and immediately began to run out of the cave.

The man saw at once that he was in no position to chase the little kid, so he picked up the plastic box lifted the lid and took out a pen that was inside.  A small note pad was used to write something , then he put it in his pocket and stood to push the plastic container back in the hole.  With the same loose stone pushed back in, he made his way out over the growing  pools of water.

Kelly just stood still and watched from his deep dark crack.

So the box seemed to be empty except for the note pad and pen.  Maybe they planned when to meet again or something sneaky like that. Or  Kelly wondered, had the second man come in first, earlier and emptied it?  The man had looked around in the gloom of the cave before leaving and still missed seeing this one little kid,

All alone Kelly could not reach the loose stone.  But the box was empty anyway, so after a few minutes he worked his way out of the fast deepening water and ran up the stairs for that hot chocolate he had been promised.

He found his sister having her breakfast.  Rory was so happy to see her brother that she smiled big,  showing the spaces where her secondary teeth were growing in.  What with that strange man in the cave and all, she was worried about Kelly, but as she ran out she saw him tucked out of sight, so she thought he would stay hidden okay.

Kelly’s chocolate was cold, but he decided to not mention it and drank it down anyway, then took some hot oatmeal from the stove, put brown sugar on it and milk then sat next to her.

She leaned close to Kelly as he sat eating his cereal and confided.

“Sorry, I was so scared!”

“You did pretty well to get out fast as soon as you could.” He told her.

“But I am sorry.”  she frowned, “ ‘cause the dust grains from the stone he was pulling out made me sneeze.”

“I’m going back with a kitchen ladder tomorrow.”  Kelly told her.

“I’ll come too” Rory announced.  “ I’ll hide better next time.”

“Sure Rory.  I may need your help.”   He was being careful and thought he should tell her to not talk about it with anyone.  But Mom was there now and Dad came soon after, so he just kept quiet himself and hoped Rory got the idea.

First Kelly wanted to keep watch on the cave for awhile to see if others made suspicious visits to it.  If he was going to take the box down himself, he wanted to choose a time when it contained whatever it was being use to store.

That late afternoon another man came and walked close to the entrance.  But Kelly could hear the deep boom that the high tide waves made as they hit the opening.  So he knew no one was going to make it inside. But just to be doing something, he made a little note of the time and looks of each visitor in the small book and pen he took in his pocket for that purpose.

When the other boys arrived he told them they should keep an eye on the cave entrance and not show it to anyone who was a stranger, but to write down who and when and he even  gave them each little note books to write in.

“So.”  Hayden said, “You think something suspicious is going on.”

“That’s right.  But I don’t know what and later we will go look in the plastic box and see what goes in and comes out.  But first it might be a good idea to get some information about how many are involved.”  Skyler nodded that seemed like a good idea to him also.

When Bella, Kyren and Victoria, came down to play, the guys kept quiet about it.  The boys decided that this was a man’s job.  But before they could stop her Rory, just like a girl, blabbed the whole event, emphasizing how frightened she had been while hiding from the strange man.

The girls were wide eyed and began to keep watch on the cave wall.

Today was a busy day as many times couples came to the cove who never did before, nor did they sit and read as most do.  They simply seemed to wander down the public stairs looking around like tourists just discovering a great new little beach.

They looked at the houses on the hill and the trees then stared at the cliffs with wonder.  The ocean was the most compelling, but oddly got the least attention.

The children waded and hunted for sea glass and dug to make castles but the mystery was given the most attention.  Every stranger was scrutinized and made note of.

“This is more fun than Hide and Seek.”  Kyren announced.  “What happens when we go up for lunch?”

“Well, Hayden explained,  as if in charge, “We can either take turns or the girls can go up and bring us some food down here.  We should probably stay on duty.”  Bella looked eager to do that.  She loved every opportunity to impress the boys, but Rory and Kyren had brothers and were not so willing to serve them.

Isabella and Victoria were brother-less sisters, so were easily impressed by the male authority.

Thus even though the cave was full of water, and could not be entered by anyone, the boys stayed on the beach to take note of the influx of people who seemed to be looking for something in their cove.  They knew none of the hunters could find it right now, but were curious as to who was looking.

Early the next morning Kelly and Rory carried the small kitchen ladder down to the Beach and into the cave, determined to climb up and see if anything was in the plastic box hidden there.

But lo and behold!  The cave was so filled with sand and rocks,  that all they had to do was walk right up to the secret granite stone and tug it out.

The plastic box was simple soft Tupper Ware and Kelly gently pulled the air tight lid up and off.  The two children were disappointed that there was nothing inside but some paper and a pen.  The note pad of paper had an E-mail address on it.

“Imagine that!” Kelly exclaimed, “They are so sure no one will find this that they put their E-mail address there, for their partners to contact them.”

Kelly was about to copy it when a whistle from Hayden told them that someone was coming.  Kelly quickly snapped the lid on, as Rory stood by holding the stone plug.   Then they took their hiding places once again.  Rory had used a small sand pail to dig hers deeper in the sand behind the boulder that still stood half buried in place.

Kelly’s crevasse was still there, but shorter, so to fit in it without bending,  he had dug it out a bit also.  Well hidden Kelly looked out and discovered that he had forgotten the unused ladder leaning against the cave wall.

This fellow saw it at once and opened it into a stool to sit upon as he scrutinized the wall, hunting for the most likely loose stone .  He tried several but nothing moved.  He stood and reached up high and leaned close to the ground, when there it was right in front of him.

Kelly almost laughed as the guy seemed to go around the correct stone and pull on the wrong ones.  A lady came in with her pants legs rolled up to try to keep them dry.  Again Kelly found that funny, because everyone knew that it never worked and everyone who did it, soon found them dragged down and wet and sandy.  She came to the man and asked.

“Can’t you find it?”  She said,

“Do you see a loose rock?  I’ve tried them all.” She tapped a few then agreed that,

“Maybe there is another cave.  Did you consider that?”

“Did you see another cave out there?”

“I didn’t really look. Shall I go see?”

“If you want to help, sure, go look.”   She ducked out and turned left, opposite from how she arrived here,  in the only cave.”

The guy moved around to all of the walls and then took a little box out of his pocket and tried to get some information from it.  Kelly thought it might be a Cell phone, but it wasn’t.  Anyway like a Cell, no info came through the cave walls.   The next time the guy passed right by the right loose rock, Kelly felt like jumping out and handing it to him.

“Here, Dummy!  It’s right in front of you!” Kelly mentally exclaimed.

Finally the man gave up and left to go see if the lady found something, and darn… taking the ladder stool with him.

Rory stepped up out of her hiding place.  “I almost fell asleep.”  She complained.  “That guy only looked in the hard places and missed the one easy one every time, and he stole Mom’s ladder.”

“I don’t think he’s the type to carry it very far. But if I see him going toward the street with it I will rush up and claim it.”

“Let me do that.”  Rory told him.  “He’s less likely to argue with a little girl, I might start to cry… if I have to.”    Kelly just smiled.  He saw her do that a lot, but didn’t know it was on purpose to get her way.  He’d remember that.

Hayden had the ladder in his hand when they came out of the cave.  What a good look out that fellow was!

“What was in the box?”  Hayden asked.  Kelly thought a minute.

“Not much.  But I only got to shake it before that dumb bunny came in.”

“Yeah! “ Rory repeated,   “What a dumb bunny!  He couldn’t find the right loose rock. “

They made notes in their little books and sat to rest as they continued to observe the few people who came down early to set out their beach chairs and sun umbrellas in their favorite places.

Some came prepared with their tide tables to park just where the water was expected to turn back at high tide.  Others liked to sit close to the water,  even though it meant moving slowly back as the tide came in.

All of those who arrived at full high tide had to find a dry place and move often as the tide went out for the rest of the day, if close to the water was their choice. So many did not like other beach goers to be in their view of the ocean.

The readers didn’t care.  They were looking at their books or Kindles anyway.

Kelly’s Mom said her favorite was to put her low beach chair in an inch of water and sit with her feet and lower legs being splashed by the incoming swells.

The children were just as choosy.  They wanted to dig either where the incoming water did not wipe out their castles and structures or close enough for water to come into their moats or lakes with each new wave.

Kelly was so science minded that he thought of everything as an interesting  Science Project for the future.  Kelly’s Dad had once won the whole State First place with his Science Project about bringing water to Southern California.  He said he didn’t win the National First Place because nobody but California was the least bit interested in California’s Water problems.

Kelly did win the County First Place the year his Mom filmed him making Chocolate chip cookies.  His speech was funny as every scene added another ingredient, but people liked the part where he passed out the cookies to the viewers, so they could taste the results.

Now it occurred to him, that if his group catches someone doing something they shouldn’t, either against nature or the environment, then he could hope for another First Place Science Project.

They hid the ladder at the bottom of the steps in case the cave had the loose stone high in the air next time they checked.

Their Uncle John and Aunt Kira came to visit.  Now the kids had someone really interesting for them to follow about and learn stuff from.

So they were surprised when the first thing he did was go to the cave and simply pull out the stone and the plastic box.  Even in the crowded cave the kids stood around and watched with amazement.  Kelly asked at once.

“How did you know about this secret box, Uncle John?”

“It was easy.”  John smiled, “ I put it here.”

“You did?  Then why do so many people come to look for it and some find it while others do not.”

“The question is how do you kids know about it?”

Kelly stepped forward to explain how they were playing Hide and Seek and were hidden when someone came in and they watched as the first men took out the box and wrote something down and left.

“We thought they were hiding something, but we couldn’t guess what.”

Hayden continued,   “We kept watch on all of the people who came to this cove and were looking for something.”  He handed his list of men and ladies who had wandered down and looked then left without finding what they wanted.
“Wow!” John said,  surprised at the long lists the boys handed him of all the descriptions of the geo-cachers.  “That is a lot of people who gave up.  I must have made it too hard.”

“What did you call them?” Isabella asked.  She was always interested in a new word to use.

John sat down on the sand and the seven children circled around him.

He looked first at Bella.  The name of the game is GEOCACHING.  It is the new high tech World Wide Hide and Seek.   Isabella repeated the word softly, geocaching.   Then Victoria did the same watching her sister’s lips.

Then John told them all to say the word, geocaching and they did.  The people all over the Earth who play it are called geo-cachers.  I am a geo-cacher.

The children repeated that word also.  It kind of means Globle Hide and Seek.  Because you need a little devise called a GPS to work at it.  Your parents have GPS’s in their cars to tell them how to find a street or place they want to go.  Okay, listen carefully.  G means Globle P ,means Postioning and S stands for  System.

Say GPS.”  It tells you exactly where you are on the globe.  As the children said GPS.  John took his out of his pocket and let them hand it around to look at it.

They all thought it looked like a Cell phone.  So John explained that some Cell phones have GPS in them.

You can buy a simple GPS for under a hundred bucks to over two hundred.  But it is the root of this Hide and Seek game.  I can tell you a number so high that you won’t be able to imagine it.

The kids eyes stayed on John for this big number. Then he said, “Two million. Four hundred and fifty eight thousand and four hundred and fifty one.”  That is how many geocaches there are all over the World.’  The kids were awed.  Then John added,  “That last “one” on the end was for mine.” They all laughed.  “But,  there are six million  geo-cachers  out looking for them.  So that is one giant Hide and Seek Game… don’t you think?”

“Why do the people who find them write down something?  Hayden wanted to know.  Rory was wondering that also. She was the only girl who had watched someone do that.

“They write an E-mail to me to let me know they have found my geocache.”  He explained.  “Then they tell me if it was difficult or easy. Or anything they want to tell me about it. Of course they cannot do anything if they don’t find it.  If no one ever finds it, you need to try again at a different location.

You boys have given me a lot of good help.  I should probably move my geocache out of the cave.  As you have noted the cave is often filled with water, which is a bit unfair.  If I lived here I would have known that.”

The boys all had different ideas about that and began to toss them around.  Then little Victoria decided that uncle John should put his geocache, which she called geocatch,   in a loose rock on the outside of the cave over where  the hill begins to get too high for kids to get it.

“Kids are very curious people.”  She explained.    They all agreed that the kayaks were not a good idea just because they hid there for their Hide and Seek. Because they get moved so much.   Skyler liked the Life guard chair it was nice and high up.  But the Lifeguard chair is only out in the summer. In the winter they were hauled away for paint and repairs. so that was out.

Finally they all agreed on a place under the public stairs, because they went from the beach to the street, but down at the beach end there was a large hole where a hefty rock could be made to fit and the cement steps would keep everything  dry in the rain.  John sent Rory in to get his plastic box.  She was back in no time.

“Now what do you do?”  Kelly asked,   So John took out his GPS and looked at it.  He showed them what it said about exactly where they were right here on Earth.  No place else… but right here next to the steps to the street.  Then he wrote those numbers down.  He would have to notify the Geocache Committee about the change for his geocache, now moved to this new location.  Then when a geo-cacher called to see what might be in this town or neighborhood, he or she would be given these co-ordinates and it was up to them to get close enough to find it.  They would then let me know they had found it there in good condition or even missing if someone took it away. Which, of course, was strictly against the rules.

If I go away to a far country, like say France,  I can be given a location for one a Frenchman hid.

Remember, all of you.  Don’t any of you tell someone it is there or show it or move it.  Right?”  They all agreed. And those kids could keep a secret.  We know because the geocache is still drawing people down the twenty public steps, then back up two to find it.

As for the cave.   Kelly likes that spot.  High water or no.  Some day when he can get his own GPS he will probably put one there, behind that same loose stone.  For now his favorite toy airplane parks there.