The Island of Dr. Libris

The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein Read Free Book Online Page B

Book: The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein Read Free Book Online
Authors: Chris Grabenstein
counter worker boxed it up, Walter nibbled on a Three Musketeers candy bar he had bought out of an old-fashioned vending machine with pull knobs.
    Meanwhile, Billy studied the decorations hanging onthe Red Barn’s walls—especially the photographs showing old-timey people swimming in the lake, back in the days when ladies wore swimming dresses.
    Under the photos was an engraved plaque honoring Dr. Xiang Libris “for his generous donation of his private island for the creation of the Lake Katrine Bird Sanctuary.”
    “Is that our island?” Billy asked Walter, gesturing toward the plaque.
    “So what’s with the dome?” Billy asked. “The whole island is covered with a wire mesh net. Like a bubble over a tennis court.”
    “That’s to stop the birds from escaping.”
    “So how do the birds get on the island in the first place?”
    “Easy. They fly there.”
    “But how do they get through the net?”
    Walter shrugged. “I never thought about that. I guess we could ask my dad when he gets back from Washington. He helped Dr. Libris put up the dome. Of course, Dad might not tell us anything except that it’s a top-secret government project, which is what he says whenever I ask him about stuff he doesn’t want to explain.”
    Billy thought about that for a second.
    A top-secret government project?
    He’d heard his mom and dad talk about the government’s hiring colleges and universities to conduct classified research. Stuff for the military. A top-secret governmentproject would also explain all the security cameras in and around the cabin, maybe the satellite dish in the backyard, too.
    But what about the treasure?
    Why would the government hide something valuable on the island?
    Was it some kind of training exercise for army commandos?
    The counter worker handed Billy a white box tied up with string.
    “Thanks. Come on, Walter.”
    Billy was eager to hurry back to the cabin and conduct his own top-secret research project. He wanted to find out if Walter could see and hear the things Billy could see and hear whenever he read one of the books from Dr. Libris’s locked bookcase.
    If he was going to find the island’s treasure, first he had to figure out how the crazy place worked.

Walter and Billy took a shortcut through the woods back to the lake.
    They came out of the forest about one hundred yards away from Dr. Libris’s cabin—but on the other side.
    The side where Nick Farkas lived.
    That explained why Farkas and his two beefy buddies were standing in the middle of the road, blocking it.
    Billy and Walter eased on their brakes.
    “Uh-oh,” said Walter.
    There was no way for Billy and his new friend to bike around the bully blockade.
    “You know the rules, Waldo,” Farkas said to Walter. “You take the shortcut through the woods, you have to give me something. Something good.”
    “Sure thing, Nick,” said Walter. “And, might I say,those mesh shorts look awfully comfortable. Smart choice for such a hot day.”
    “Shut up.”
    “Right.” Walter wheezed and puffed on his asthma inhaler. “Something good. So, um, do you guys like wedding mints?”
    Walter showed the three thugs a fistful of pastel pink and green cubes covered with fuzzy lint.
    “They had them in a bowl at the Red Barn. I find wedding mints to be both creamy and refreshing.”
    Farkas slapped Walter’s hand hard. Mints scattered into the underbrush.
    For half a second, Billy imagined a happy chipmunk bride and groom squeaking with joy:
“We have mints for our wedding! Mints for our wedding!”
    “No, Waldo,” said Farkas, “we don’t want your grungy, pants-crud-infested mints.” He nudged his head toward Billy’s bike basket. “What’s in the box?”
    “Pie,” said Billy. “For my mom.”
    “Hand it over.”
    Billy remembered how Hercules, Robin Hood, and Maid Marian had stood up for him on the island. Maybe it was his turn.
    “I’ll give you the pie,” he said to Farkas,

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