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Authors: Deborah Abela

The Final Curtain

BOOK: The Final Curtain
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All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any person or entity, including internet search engines or retailers, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including printing, photocopying (except under the statutory exceptions provisions of the Australian
Copyright Act 1968
), recording, scanning or by any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written permission of Random House Australia. Any unauthorised distribution or use of this text may be a direct infringement of the author's and publisher's rights and those responsible may be liable in law accordingly.

Max Remy Superspy 10: The Final Curtain

ePub ISBN 9781742745152

A Random House book
Published by Random House Australia Pty Ltd
Level 3, 100 Pacific Highway, North Sydney, NSW 2060
www.randomhouse.com.au

First published by Random House Australia in 2008

Copyright © Deborah Abela 2008

The moral right of the author has been asserted.

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted by any person or entity, including internet search engines or retailers, in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying (except under the statutory exceptions provisions of the
Australian Copyright Act 1968
), recording, scanning or by any information storage and retrieval system without the prior written permission of Random House Australia.

Addresses for companies within the Random House Group can be found at
www.randomhouse.com.au/offices
.

National Library of Australia
Cataloguing-in-Publication Entry

Abela, Deborah.

The final curtain.

For primary school age.
ISBN 978 1 74166 125 5.

Spies – Juvenile fiction.

A823.4

Cover illustration and design by Jobi Murphy
Internal illustration by Jobi Murphy
Author photo by Todd Decker

CONTENTS

Dedication:

First, to the boundlessly enthusiastic and supportive Linsay Knight, who believed in Max enough to allow her to take on the world. To Eva Mills, Zoe Walton and Brandon VanOver for their sharp but gentle editors' eyes. And to Jobi Murphy, who created the perfect illustrations with the right blend of funk and sass. To the utterly brilliant Nerrilee Weir, the world's most charming Rights Manager, and to Yae and all the wonderful publicists who have taken Max into their careful hands.
To Rachel and Rick for allowing me never to have to read contracts. To my ‘Newtown' friends. To all the readers who have fallen in love with Max and Linden and encouraged me to write more, and Josiah Saxby for his brilliant invention of the Super Suit. It has been a wonderful ride and one that has been all the sweeter with my own real-life Linden, the generous, clever and wonderful Todd Decker.

1
One month earlier at Spyforce Headquarters …

The flickering sparks from a welder leapt into the darkened air of the VART. It was late, and most of the interior sections of the Force lay in the muted light of the desk lamps of agents recently arrived for night duty. Inside the VART, security agents were stationed at all exits, waiting for the last of the renovations to be completed.

A worker in dark overalls, thick glasses and a protective helmet concentrated on the last Vibratron tile to be laid in the floor.

He lifted his mask. The smell of molten metal rose into the air alongside the wisp of rising smoke. He patted the tile protectively.

‘Rest easy, little one.' His voice poured out like melted chocolate into the quiet hangar. ‘You won't be called upon yet but, when you are, this wretched place will finally be brought down.'

The worker stood, picked up his leather tool bag and walked to the exit. Behind him, beneath the final tile, a red glowing pulse beat silently, secretly, waiting for its moment of destruction.

Mr Blue lunged at Max Remy with a wrenching scream. His hands gripped her throat and forced her backwards onto a rock platform above the sea. An incoming wave churned beneath them like a restless volcano threatening to explode.

‘This is the last time you will destroy my plans, Maxine Remy.'

His hands squeezed tighter. Max felt her breath strain through her constricted throat.

Another wave surged upwards and fell in a drenching torrent. The sucking rush of the sea into the blowhole released Blue's hands from Max's throat and swept them both closer to the edge. They came to a precarious stop only centimetres from a blackened ocean plunge.

Max stumbled to her feet but Blue caught her ankle. She tripped and fell, striking her head against the ground. She clutched her forehead, her mind spinning, struggling to stay alert.

‘Max!' Linden scrambled to the top of the rockface.

‘Oh look, Mr Goody-Goody is here to save the day.' Blue pulled a black glove from his pocket and slipped it on. ‘With my Heart Stopper device, it's a pity he'll fail.'

Blue sprang towards him and pressed his gloved hand onto the young spy's chest. Linden's
eyes widened. He sucked in a coarse breath as the glove lit up like a neon skeleton.

‘Linden,' Max whispered. She lay on the ground trying to clear her head, trying to stop herself from blacking out.

The last few breaths were torn from Linden's lungs. His remaining strength was drained from his body before he fell to the ground, limp, lifeless.

The sea growled as if in protest, gathering into an even bigger mass.

Blue sought refuge behind a boulder and clung on. ‘Bye bye, my little friends.'

A rogue wave crashed through the rocky crevice, ballooning into a tidal wave above them.

‘Linden.' Max tried to reach her friend, tried to grip whatever piece of ground she could. The wave tore at them, dragging them towards the sea. Max's hands slipped. In a crush of sound and water, their bodies were hauled along the slippery platform, towards a watery oblivion, towards their last moments of life, towards

‘Aaah!'

Max sat up in bed, having woken herself by her own scream.

‘Bad dream?'

‘Aaah!' She jumped back at the sight of Linden sitting on the end of her bed eating toast.

‘I don't look that bad, do I?' He looked into a mirror beside him and made an attempt to pat down his wild hair. ‘No, I look good. Must have been a bad dream.'

Max looked down at her rumpled bed and realised she was in the sleep-out at Ben and Eleanor's. ‘What are you doing here?'

‘Eating toast. Want some?'

‘I don't really have any appetite.' Max untwisted her pyjamas.

‘No appetite? That
must
have been a bad dream. What was it about?' Linden threw the last of the toast into his mouth before pulling an apple from his pocket.

Max thought back. ‘You and I were at the blowhole where Blue almost killed Chief Harrison.
2
Only this time, Blue was after you and me.' She pulled the blankets up under her chin. ‘It's strange. I haven't thought about him for months.'

‘Blue's fall into that blowhole was pretty serious. I don't think he'll be coming back any time soon.' Linden munched into his apple.

‘I know, but I'd like him to stay out of my head as well as my life. Aaah!' An overly hairy mountain of a dog jumped onto Max's bed and licked her face. ‘Get off.'

‘Sorry, Max,' Linden pulled the dog away and bundled him onto the floor. ‘Ralph's a sucker whenever he sees someone upset. I guess his old self got the better of him.'

Ralph was Ben and Eleanor's dog, who had only recently stopped trampling Max in his eagerness to say hello.

Max wiped her pyjama sleeve across her face. ‘I appreciate the affection, Ralph, but can't you find other ways to … Aaah!'

A small chicken leapt from the cupboard beside her and landed in Max's lap.

‘One of Geraldine's chicks, Amelia Earhart.' Linden gathered the clucking bird into his arms.

‘Amelia Earhart? As in the famous aviatrix?'

‘That's the one.' Linden smiled. ‘She uses this bed as part of her flying practice, to cushion her landings.' Linden covered the sides of Amelia's head. ‘We haven't told her yet she's not the flying type,' he whispered.

‘Are all the barnyard animals going to crash my room?'

A loud snort came from outside the window.

‘Larry's not. He's got other plans.'

Larry was Ben and Eleanor's pig, whose more-than-odd behaviour allowed them to predict the weather.

Linden got up from the bed and held open the screen door. ‘Come and see.'

Max crawled across her blankets and walked down the steps into the yard. Larry sat proudly before a mishmash of wild flowers, bits of old fence post and colourful rags.

‘It's in the shape of a heart.' She smiled.

‘Yep,' Linden said, ‘he's been getting it ready for days in honour of your visit, but it was too dark to show you when you arrived last night.'

Larry snorted into the air.

‘What's he doing now?' Max whispered.

‘He's singing a special welcome song he composed.'

‘He's composing songs?'

‘Ben and Eleanor bought him a karaoke machine for his birthday. He's actually pretty good.'

Larry finished his song. Ralph barked and Amelia clucked.

‘That was your best yet, fella.' Linden snuggled into Larry's cheek and offered him the rest of his
apple. ‘What did you think?' He, Larry, Ralph and Amelia looked to Max.

‘It was … great.' Max put on her best pig-appreciation smile.

‘You don't think he deserves a kiss?' Linden threw her a cheeky grin. He knew Max's affinity with animals was very limited, especially when it came to kissing them.

Max could see, looking into Larry's eyes, that he agreed with Linden. She bent down and reluctantly patted him on the head, like he was a giant slug. ‘Thanks, Larry. You're a real talent.'

A folded letter fell from the pocket of her pyjama top. Linden picked it up and held it flat between his palms. ‘So, are you ready for the party?'

‘As ready as I'll ever be.' Max's lack of enthusiasm for parties could be linked to the fact that, at some point, she would end up wearing some of the menu. Usually the slimier parts. ‘It'll be strange going to Spyforce without having a mission to complete.'

‘As long as Irene's doing the cooking, I can handle not being faced with any life-threatening situations.'

When Linden unfolded the letter, heat-sensitive ink swirled across the page.

Mr Reginald Harrison,
Chief of Spyforce,
requests the pleasure of

Max Remy's

company to celebrate

The 50th Anniversary of Spyforce

Location:
Spyforce Headquarters

Date:
This Saturday

What to Bring:
Yourself and a preparedness to enjoy
Irene's delicious food in the company of the world's
finest secret agents

As the heat from the invitation dwindled, the words disappeared, leaving a very formal, very blank piece of paper.

‘Did you have a hard time getting away from your mum?'

‘It was actually easy,' Max said. ‘She left yesterday on a tour around the country to launch a TV show.' She put on her mother's publicity voice. ‘And to show off the hottest new stars of tomorrow.'

Max's mum was the head of publicity at a major TV network. A job that her mother loved but often made Max's head want to explode.

‘And she won't call you here?'

‘I've told her we're going camping and she wouldn't be able to reach us. And your dad?'

‘He's away at a high school reunion.'

‘I thought he didn't like crowds.'

‘He's avoided them since Mum died,' Linden said, ‘but I told him it was time he started mixing with people again.'

‘What did he think of that?'

‘He agreed, but he still gets this look that I know means he's thinking about her.' Linden looked across the paddocks to the neighbouring farm where he lived with his dad. ‘He's quiet, but he's better than he used to be.'

A slight sad lilt washed across his face. ‘We both get like that sometimes.'

Max looked around her, as if she was searching for something soft to wipe the look away, when a booming tuneless song blurted out of the house.

‘Ben's up.' Linden's face snapped into its regular smile. ‘Which means it's time for breakfast.'

‘You just had toast and an apple.'

He handed back the invitation.

‘That was a warm-up. Now it's time for the real thing.'

Linden sprang up the stairs, followed by Ralph, and stopped at the door with a lingering smile.

‘What's wrong now?' Max looked over her shoulder and checked that her pyjama top hadn't come unbuttoned.

‘Nothing.' Linden shrugged. ‘It just feels like everything's in its place when you're here.' He ruffled Ralph's furry head. ‘Come on, fella. There might not be any breakfast left if we don't go in now.'

Ralph scrambled in first and the door swung shut behind them, leaving Max in the wake of Linden's words, her cheeks glowing red. Linden could do that. With a few words he could change a whole morning, which this time meant driving away the dream about Mr Blue.

When she first met Linden she thought he was a country bumpkin with uncontrollable hair who was no more interesting than slow-growing grass. Since then, they'd been on nine spy missions together; outwitted criminals in exotic countries; catapulted over the edge of waterfalls; survived plane crashes, faulty Personal Flying Devices, leeches, worms, tarantulas, pulverising cells and nightmare vortexes. And every moment was governed by Linden's pact that they always be there for each other.

Larry stared up at her and snorted.

‘What?'

He nudged his nose into his newly made heart before flicking his snout towards the back door of the house.

‘Linden and I are friends and spy partners, that's all.' Max laughed at herself. ‘Why am I explaining this to a pig?'

Larry let out a few more snorts.

‘An intelligent pig, of course.' Max patted him again, this time with a little less slug-factor.

She lifted the ribbon around her neck that held her Spyforce Medallion. She ran her thumb over the engraved insignia that sat above the words, ‘May the Force Be with You'.

She tucked it back into her pyjama top and looked around.

There was no other place that made her feel at home like the farm did. She stood surrounded by its early-morning sun, Larry's homemade heart and Amelia jumping off a fence post onto a hay bale with Geraldine looking proudly on.

‘Everything in its place.' Max's face lifted into a wide grin before she raced up the stairs to join the others.

BOOK: The Final Curtain
13.88Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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