Rain was torrential, covering Paris in a blanket of water; and Charlotte was stuck in the middle of it. She waded around the corner towards her luxurious apartment on Rue d'Scone. Charlotte brushed through the wet vines dangling from the second floor balcony. She raced up the hard concrete stairs and fumbled for her key.
The rain had finally slowed to a trickle by the time Charlotte had arrived inside her spacious and lavishly decorated suite. She flung the balcony doors open and inhaled deeply. "Nothing helps a French girl think like fresh spring air," Charlotte thought as she pulled out a pen and some paper and began writing a poem. The aroma of fresh baked breads mingled with the scent of watercolor paints drifting up from the Boulangerie and expensive galerie d'art two floors below.
A loud thump on her door interrupted Charlotte's work. She strode across her apartment over to the heavy wooden door.
"Marie! Why I haven't seen you in ages! What brings you to my humble abode?"
Suddenly, a door slammed down the hall. "We can't talk here," Marie whispered frantically."
Charlotte shut the door. She and Marie dashed through the lush kitchen and down the narrow hall. They half-slid into Charlotte's bedroom and around to the other side of the deluxe four-post bed. Charlotte heaved open her closet door and they scurried inside.
"Now we can speak," Charlotte panted. "What is it you're yearning to tell me?"
"That Agent Pierre Mon Frre was kidnapped by the insidious Dr. Croissant!" Marie exclaimed. Charlotte, Marie, Pierre Mon Frre, and many others were part of a secret organization called L.G.E.L.C.E.D.S., which stood for "les gens et les coqs tudiant des secrets, also known as "people and roosters investigating secrets."
"Wow, that's quite a tale," Charlotte told her friend, "We need to locate Dr. Croissant. Wherever he is, Pierre Mon Frre will be nearby."
"I feel we ought to start by searching Pierre Mon Frre's residence. He might have left a clue to his whereabouts."
The following evening Charlotte drove her late-model sedan to Pierre's address, the penthouse of a high-rise along the Seine. She found Marie waiting good-naturedly in the atrium. Together they rode the glass elevator to the 50th floor of the building. They strode briskly down the hall and arrived at an unadorned white door. Naturally, the door was locked.
Charlotte reached into her purse and pulled out some lipstick.
"Charlotte, I think this is not the best occasion for makeup," Marie stated unequivocally.
Instead of applying the lipstick to her lips, Charlotte began rubbing it on the doorknob. Suddenly, the doorknob began to melt away before their eyes.
Charlotte caught Marie's flabbergasted look. "Special formula," she said, "I made it myself with lemon juice, gelatin, and acid."
"Ok, Charlotte, let's get back to business."
Charlotte reached her hand into the space where the doorknob used to be and pulled open the door. The two girls gazed into the largest and untidiest room they had ever seen. Furniture was on its side. Books and papers were strewn across the carpet. The windows where shattered in numerous places. Drawers were ripped out and their contents spilled onto the floor.
"I think somebody got here before us," Marie whispered.
"Maybe the gens d'armes?"
Charlotte heaved a sighed and sauntered over to the far corner of the room. She bent over the wastebasket and reached her hand in. Empty. Looks like whoever ransacked this place even checked the trash, she thought. Suddenly, Charlotte had another idea.
Marie watched Charlotte reach into her purse again and pull out her keys. "Oh please, now what?" Marie asked.
Charlotte pulled the curtains closed and dimmed the lights. She aimed a mini flashlight on her keychain at the wall. The light from the flashlight glowed with purple radiance on the wall. Suddenly, faint smudges began to materialize, and then words were revealed on the wall.
"Do you suspect Pierre Mon Frre might have left a message written in invisible ink on the wall?"
"That's exactly what I expect," Charlotte replied. She read the message as it appeared. "29o32'35"20 N, 35o03'10"95 W!"
Charlotte and Marie drove to their preferred eatery, Bistros des Scones, just down the rue from Charlotte's apartment. They discussed the day's goings-on over dinner. "What could those numbers mean?" Charlotte wondered audibly.
"I think they might be map coordinates!" Marie exclaimed. She took out her pocket map and found the coordinates. "It's in the middle of the ocean. My guess is that the insidious Dr. Croissant is holding Pierre Mon Frre in a secret hideout on the island."
"Sounds fine to me," Charlotte replied
"Well, let's go home and meet up again tomorrow, ok?" Marie got up and left.
Charlotte paid the bill and hurried out. She picked up a baguette before dashing up to her apartment.
The next morning Charlotte drove north to Orly, Paris's major airport. She met Marie there. "What's this all about?" Marie asked.
Charlotte replied, "I chartered a small airplane so we can find the coordinates.
Both Marie and Charlotte were skillful in operating airborne vehicles, seeing as it was part of their secret agent training. The L.G.E.L.C.E.D.S. jumbo jet was being used for something else that day, so they ended up in a crummy rental.
After the girls had encumbered the plane with all their spy equipment, they climbed into the seats and took off for the island.
"What's on your mind?" Marie queried Charlotte as they soared over the tranquil ocean.
"I was just thinking about how safe and sound it is to fly in an airplane. I mean, think about the Titanic. It was a boat. It sank. Don't you think planes are much safer?"
"Why, of course I do. I'd rather fly than sail any day!" Marie replied passionately.
Charlotte was growing tired of flying as the sun started to set on the horizon. Suddenly, Marie gave a screech. They were nearly at their destination. Needless to say, an island was imminent, an island about the size of Paris.
Charlotte circled around the island. A long strip of beach stretched along all sides. The whole island looked uninhabited: desolate and forsaken. It was just a massive tropical rain forest with a few tall mountains in the center.
She began the descent to the long beach. Suddenly, she gave a cry. "Mon Dieu! The controls are jammed! We're going to hit those rocks!" She unbuckled her belt and grabbed a life jacket. She tossed one over to Marie. Charlotte grabbed her purse and threw open the door.
On the count of three, the two girls jumped from the plane just before it began a downward spiral. They dived through the air and landed with an enormous splash in the blue sea below.
"Marie! Marie, wake up! Oh Marie! I'm so delighted you're alive! I take back everything I said about planes being safer than boats!
"Me too," Marie agreed feebly, "Well, now what? We've got no food, water, or any means of communication!"
"Well, we ought to survey the island, see if there's any civilization anywhere," Charlotte suggested.
Thus the two girls set off in search of other humans. They trudged through muggy tropical forest until it became too shadowy to see. They clambered up the nearest tree and slept sporadically on a branch.
The next day the two girls trekked on farther into the rainforest, still holding on to one last crumb of hope. They were approaching the mountain at the heart of the island when out of the blue came a distant whirring noise. It got closer and closer until Charlotte and Marie could see a helicopter coming nearer. They watched it swerve off to the right and land someplace in among the trees at the base of the mountain. When the whirring noise stopped, Charlotte and Marie took off into the forest towards where the hlicoptre had landed.
"C'mon, this may be our only opportunity for survival!" Charlotte cried as they neared the helicopter.
"Hey! Sauvez-nous! We're marooned!" Marie yelled.
The two girls came crashing right into the clearing just in time to see three men in black ski masks disembark from the helicopter. "Hey! Pourquoi tes vous ici?" One of them asked in muddled French.
"Our plane crashed in the ocean. We're stuck on this island!" Charlotte told the man, "Could you please give us a lift back to Orly? We'll give you whatever amount of money you want!"
"Not so fast," the man said in an unperturbed voice, "We can't let you go subsequent to you witnessing our super surreptitious hideaway. You're stuck here for a very long time."
One man seized Charlotte's hands and tied them behind her back. Another man did the same to Marie. The three men marched the two girls towards a long low building neither of the girls had noticed until that moment. The aluminum siding was beginning to rust in some places and the slow dribble of rain was flowing down the slanted roof.
Presently the first man unlocked the door with an oversized key. The girls were shoved into a diminutive enclosed room reminiscent of a jail cell.
"Au revoir!" the man guffawed as he slammed the thick steel door.
"Who are you people?" Charlotte retorted intensely.
The man disregarded her and walked on down the hall. The girls heard a door open and then close in the distance. Then there was silence.
"Who do you think those people are? And why do they want us?" Charlotte asked.
Marie replied, "It seems rather obvious that we have done no wrongdoing. They only wish to keep us here because we have seen their hideout. Hey, do you think they're some type of secret agents?"
"That is a fine prospect," Charlotte replied, "It just occurred to me that perhaps they're holding Pierre Mon Frre for some reason. But that just brings us back to 'why do they want him?'"
"Charlotte, I'm sick of being in here! Let's break out."
"Oh, gee Marie, I wish I thought of that earlier," Charlotte said facetiously.
"Non, Charlotte. Do you still have your lipstick?"
"Oui," Charlotte replied. She pulled out her lipstick and applied some to the lock on the door. It melted away the steel just like it had done to the door at Pierre Mon Frre's appartement. Charlotte reached her hand into the gap and pulled open the door. She and Marie skulked softly down the hall.
Presently they arrived at another door. This one was made of wood, and the girls could hear quite a clamor from the other side.
"Let's kill 'em boss!"
"Aucun pas encore. We'll wait."
"We could throw 'em in the snake pit," another voice suggested.
"Oui, j'aime cela," another voice said.
"Into the snake pit for those girls then," said yet another voice.
The door was flung open before Charlotte and Marie had time to duck out of the way. "Hey, they've escaped!" the man exclaimed. He grabbed Marie with one hand.
"Run, Charlotte!" Marie cried.
Charlotte bolted as quickly as she could down the hall. She skidded around the bend and ducked into another room. She heard footfalls race past the door. She was safe . . . for the moment. Charlotte realized she was in pitch darkness. She felt along the wall for a light switch. The room was illuminated by a lone bare light bulb overhead.
Charlotte surveyed her surroundings. Books were scattered everywhere. A man was tied to a chair in the middle.
Charlotte scampered over to the man and yanked off the cloth covering his mouth. "Qui sont vous?" she asked.
"I am Pierre Mon Frre, secret agent of L.G.E.L.C.E.D.S.!" the man exclaimed.
"I'm Charlotte, also an L.G.E.L.C.E.D.S. secret agent. My friend Marie and I were sent on a mission to rescue you!"
"Oh I cannot thank you enough," Pierre Mon Frre grinned at Charlotte.
"But first I must know why you were kidnapped!" she exclaimed.
"Oui, oui," Pierre Mon Frre began, "It was all le scone magique."
"The magic scone?" Charlotte asked.
"Scone," Pierre replied, "They have them in la Grande-Bretagne. They are comparable to petite gateaux. Anyhow, the Magic Scone really does exist. Legend has it that the Magic Scone has special powers that can do anything you want."
"Quelque chose?" Charlotte asked.
"Yes, anything. Dr. Croissant sent his men to steal the Magic Scone recipe from my safe. They however could not find my recipe, so they took me instead."
"So do you have the recipe or not?" Charlotte asked.
"Absolument," Pierre replied, "I've had it in my ear this whole time!" With that the secret agent reached into his ear and pulled out a folded piece of paper.
"Wow, that is disconcerting on a number of levels," Charlotte whispered, "So where is Dr. Croissant now?"
"He left in the hlicoptre about a week ago and hasn't been back since," Pierre replied.
"Au contraire, Mon Frre!" a voice screeched from the doorway."
Charlotte and Pierre whirled around. "Croissant!" Pierre exclaimed.
"Oui, and I see you were just about to hand over that recipe to me," Croissant replied slickly.
"NEVER!" Pierre Mon Frre screeched.
Croissant snatched the paper out of his hand. "That was too easy," he muttered, "Well since you were all so cooperative, how would you and your friend like to watch me make a Magic Scone and then use its power to take over the world?"
"Actually, I'd prefer not to," Pierre began.
"Nope, too late! I've made up my mind. Come, prisoners. To the evil kitchen!"
Dr. Croissant marched Pierre and Charlotte to the evil kitchen. Marie was already waiting there. Croissant began mixing the evil scone batter. "Hmm. Some evil milk, evil flour, evil sugar . . ."
Croissant shaped his oversize scone and placed his concoction in the oven. "I'm gonna rule the world," he sung softly.
The secret agents could only look on in consternation as the scone was removed from the oven. Magical dust floated around the scone.
Croissant picked up the scone. "Je souhaite que j'aie ordonn le monde!" he hollered passionately. Nothing happened.
"Where's the magic?" all four asked at the same time.
Abruptly, the scone flew into the air and landed in front of the three secret agents. Even more astounding, it began to talk. "The magic is in your friendship," its voice echoed around the room.
"Ce qui?" Marie asked.
"La magie est dans votre amiti," the scone replied.
"Friendship? Well that's sappy." Marie muttered.
"Well, we might as well go home," Charlotte suggested.
So the three secret agents strolled casually out of the building and boarded Croissant's helicopter.
"You haven't seen the last of Pepere Von Croissant!" the evil doctor screamed.
"You know," Marie began, "I just remembered I had my cell phone all along!"
"Mon Dieu!" Pierre exclaimed.
Charlotte sighed, "c'est la vie!"
3.Aucun pas encore: no, not yet
contraire mon frre: on the contrary my brother
6.Boulangerie: a bakery that bakes breads
7.Croissant: a French pastry
8.C'est la vie: that's life
9.Gens d'armes: France's law enforcement, or police
souhaite que j'aie ordonn le monde: I wish I ruled the world
magie est dans votre amiti: the magic is in your friendship
13.Le scone magique: the magic scone
14.Mon Dieu: My God
15.Mon frre: my brother
17.Oui, j'aime cela : yes, I like that
18.Orly: a major airport south of Paris
20.Petite gateaux: little cake, similar to a scone
21.Pourquoi tes vous ici: why are you here?
22.Quelque chose : anything
23.Qui sont vous: who are you?
24.Sauvez-nous: help us
25.Seine: a large river that runs through the heart of Paris