Brave Beats Age When It Comes to Jellyfish

Brave Beats Age When It Comes to Jellyfish

Mia Bell McCubbin, Author

I flung the car door open and hopped out of the airport taxi, the second my feet hit the ground a warmth spread through my whole body, that I knew I definitely couldn’t have in Colorado winters.

“Welcome to Mexico!” My Dad whispered in my ear and a wave of excitement washed over me. Without warning, a blur in a red t-shirt sprinted past me and ran down the stairs I knew must lead to the resort pool.

“Ralph wait!” My mother shouted and dashed after my six-year-old ball of energy brother, yelling at my Dad to bring her swimsuit down. 

“Cannonball!” Ralph’s shout was followed seconds later by a loud splash. I laughed as my mother shouted 

“Ralph! You don’t have your swimsuit on!”

“Well, I guess that leaves us with the bags,” My Dad chuckled as he began to haul Ralph’s suitcase and the suitcase he shared with mom down a little hallway. I grabbed my suitcase and started to follow when I noticed my shoelace untied, I quickly tied it and hurried after my Dad, but as soon as I entered the hallway I saw a tall thin man growling angrily at a shorter man, they both seemed to work at the resort, because they both had name tags on their chests, the man yelling was named Patrick H. which seemed to be a strange name for a man who looked like he was Mexican, I squashed myself against the wall, as I did not want to interrupt their strange conversation, but I couldn’t help listening in

“You were supposed to have it on Friday! It’s Monday! I swear if you don’t have it by the end of the day I’ll fire you! And you know what that means…” Patrick H. hissed at the short man, I could feel my eyes widening as I hurried away from them. After walking a little bit further I reached the 2 rooms with doors flung open and saw my Dad pulling his and mom’s suitcase into  the closet one,

“Hey, kiddo! Would you mind putting Wreck-it’s suitcase as well as yours in that room there? That’s the one you two will be staying in.” He said pointing to the room next to his. We all call Ralph, Wreck-it, like from the movie Wreck-it Ralph, because well Ralph is pure chaos, so the name fits him well. 

Me and Dad walked down to the pool together and as we walked along the corridor, I couldn’t help curiously glancing around to see if the two men were still there or not, and luckily they weren’t, it seemed as if they had just disappeared.

We spent the whole rest of the day hanging out at the pool, because the ocean they had on the property, was really rocky, and was supposed to have a lot of potentially dangerous sea creatures, conveniently there was a beach a 10 – minute walk away from our resort, that we could go to if we wanted, but we were just too tired to leave the property, and the pool itself was amazing, so we didn’t have a reason to leave. 

“I love being here!” Ralph randomly blurted out, “It’s a billion times hotter than Michigan during Christmas break!” We all laughed, but it was true, the sun felt amazing against my body, and I couldn’t get enough of it, I had to soak up all the heat I could before going back to Michigan.

I woke up early and full of energy in the morning and decided to go on a walk on the beach of the resort, I knew the beach was off limits for swimming, but there weren’t any rules against walking. I grabbed my sweater and right as I was about to leave,

“Katie, where are you going?” Ralph asked, his voice still thick with sleep.

“I’m gonna take a walk, tell Mom and Dad I’ll be back in an hour at most.”

“Ok… I… w…” but before Ralph could finish his sentence his eyes closed and his head fell onto the pillow.

The rocks on the beach sank under my sandals as I walked across the beach, the sun had just started to rise it was 6:30 when I had left the resort, and I was glad I got to see the sunrise. The beach was small so it didn’t take long before I reached the end of it where a few bushes blocked the cliffs off. As I watched the waves, I sat on the rocky beach, not caring that it wasn’t the most comfortable seating. Suddenly a ray of light shined down in a circle reflecting off the water, I looked up to see where the light was coming from and all I saw was a single palm leave hanging on the side of a cliff. For a second I hesitated, then I looked back at the cliff, how could a single palm leaf grow on a cliff? I asked myself because it was quite baffling. I saw a ray of sun shining on the palm, but how could the palm reflect it on the water? I tried to make myself forget about it and just enjoy the sunrise, but after 5 minutes I spring to my feet and ran to the end of the beach, the bushes didn’t have thorns, so I thought it would be perfectly fine to walk through them, so that’s what I did. 

After walking for a few minutes I reached the cliff, it had a large rock in front of it, and some thorny bushes on the side, and for a split second, I thought I might have to just go back to the beach, but I managed to pull all my courage together, remembering that when I did rock climbing lessons for a whole year when I was 10 which was 2 years ago, hopefully, I still remembered how to climb. I tied my shoulder-length dusty brown hair back in a small ponytail and began to climb. My hands sweated and my legs trembled but after about 10 minutes I had conquered the rock. I stood facing the cliff and saw another single palm smack in the middle of the cliff, and out of pure curiosity, grabbed it and pulled, to my complete shock the palm swung away revealing an entrance to a dark, salty-smelling tunnel. So I plugged my nose and went in, I had to start out crawling but the tunnel quickly expanded so I could walk straight up, after walking for a while I thought the tunnel would never end, then I heard angry voices and my heart stopped. 10 stairs led up to a cave, and that’s exactly where the angry voices came from…

You should just go back to the room a voice in my head warned me against going a single step further, but my curiosity got the best of me and I began to walk up the stairs, going slowly and quietly so I wouldn’t be heard, I finally got to the top stair and hesitated, then slowly poked my head around the corner to see into the cave… then I saw it, the thing that had been shining down on the beach, it was a name tag, and the name said Patrick H.

“YOU ARE TO HAVE IT BY TOMORROW MORNING, OR I WILL…” then he said something in Spanish that sounded truly menacing, his helper, who was the same one from the first day tried to say something in response, but before he could even finish his sentence, Patrick H. slapped him, fast and hard across the face. I gasped in horror at the scene and because of my shock I had forgotten to be quiet and Patrick H. said:

“Someone’s here!” Then I ran faster than I ever had before, down the stairs, so fast my hair flew out of my ponytail, but I didn’t even care as I reached the end of the tunnel and threw myself out of the tunnel entrance so hard I landed painfully on the ground. I could hear the men gaining on me, and my leg now hurt badly from the fall so I did the next best thing besides running, I hid the huge bushes would hide me well because there was no way I was going to be able to climb that rock fast enough with my bad leg. I pulled myself into the closet bush because they didn’t have thorns and I didn’t mind getting leaves stuck in my hair. I clapped my hand over my mouth to stop the sounds of my tired breathing.

“Did you see the person?!” Partick H.’s voice growled.

“No… I… d…di…didn’t” His assistant answered his voice very quavery, still recovering from the slap.

“Well we have to leave and we have to do it now, if whoever saw us is telling more people, we can’t be here when those people come back trying to find us. And we have to do our shifts.” then without a moment of hesitation, both sets of footsteps hurried away towards the employee entrance of the resort. I waited more a moment after they left, then struggled to get to my feet, and suddenly realized tears were streaming down my face, I stumbled up the beach trying to swipe the tears away, but they just wouldn’t go, so instead of going to face my family I went to the little guest area and sat at one of the computers, then I realized what I needed to do. I went to the resort’s website, then clicked on the staff tab, and wrote in the search bar: Patrick H. My heart stopped for the second time this morning when I saw no results. All my tears instantly dried up and a blazing anger filled my body. Who was this man?! What was wrong with him?! I had to do something, so I grabbed the landline phone next to the computer and dialed the front desk,

“Hello, this is Isabella at the front desk how can I help you?” A woman’s cheery voice answered my call but I had no time to be polite,

“You need to find Patrick H. right now and arrest him!” I shouted into the phone, the woman was quiet for a long time, and I was getting impatient, “Did you hear me?!” 

“Um yes, but there is no person named Patrick H. on our staff here at the “Dream Vacation”.” The woman said and I sighed exasperated “Exactly! I know Patrick H. isn’t on your staff, I looked it up! But he’s been lurking around in cliffs and slapping people! And I need help to do something about it!” The woman’s voice quickly turned annoyed

“Your prank calling me, aren’t you?! Well, it’s not funny and it’s just a waste of time! For both of us!” Isabella’s voice sounded extremely flustered and before I could respond she slammed the phone down on her end. I shrieked with blind anger then decided if she wasn’t going to cooperate then I’d just have to find someone who would. 

“MOM!!!” I yelled into the room and in an instant my mom and thrown herself at me and was hugging me tight

“Where were you?!” She said pulling me away to look at me, “You have bruises and scrapes all over your legs and arms! How did that happen?” So I told her everything from me leaving the hotel room and calling the front desk, to telling her that we needed to act fast and call the police. But then after I’d finished gasping for breath she just stared at me blankly with her brow all scrunched up like she thought I was crazy. Finally, she spoke,

“Do you have a fever? Did you hit your head? Lie down.” She said sternly and made me go on the bed as she felt the temperature of my head with her palm. I almost burst from anger, it was the second time someone hadn’t believed me, 

“Mom! I’m fine! I can’t believe you don’t believe me!” I shouted much louder than I had meant to but I couldn’t hold my anger back.

“Katie, Katie, I can tell you’re annoyed, but what if we just put a pin in this whole thing and go enjoy the pool with your dad and brother?” I groaned, the last thing I wanted to do was put this case on hold, but the pool sounded incredible and I had no energy left so I just nodded and me and my mom walked out the door as I promised myself I’d get right back on the case as soon as I was done with the pool. We had been playing in the pool for almost 5 hours, and I had completely forgotten about Patrick H. then it happened right around 3:00,

“OW! OW! OW!” Wreck-it shrieked from the shallow end of the pool he had been playing with his monster trucks underwater, no matter how many times we told him they weren’t waterproof. 

“What’s wrong?!” my mom, my dad, and me all said in sync but Ralph couldn’t even answer because he had broken out in tears. We all quickly swam over to him and saw his arm was slightly red and he was itching it non-stop 

“Something… attacked… me!” Ralph said between sobs, 

“What?! What could have done that?!” my mother questioned and for a second I fought back the urge to laugh at Ralph’s dramatics. My mother pulled Ralph out of the water to calm his dramatic hysterics, and my father waved a staff member over,

“Do you know what happened to my son?” he asked and the staff member examined his wound. He had a mustache and a bucket hat, but when I looked under that I saw eyes I recognized, it was the assistant! The one who had just gotten slapped this morning! 

“This is the guy!” I blurted out to my family, but before I could say anything else, my father said,

“Why don’t you just get your brother some food and water and maybe a cold rag from the restaurant?” He handed me a 20 dollar bill and practically shoved me away, but as I was forced away I saw the guy’s eyes narrow and I quickly scanned his chest for a name tag, but there wasn’t one, which made me even more confused, and as I searched for a name tag, the guy looked my straight in the eye, his eyes full of suspicion. I dug my heels into the ground however before I could do anything, my dad sighed with exasperation

“Katie Jane, if you don’t go right now, you won’t get to do anything but stay in the room for the rest of the vacation!!!” I stomped my feet angrily as I walked to the restaurant, I ordered the first thing I saw then I decided to spy so I snuck up on my family who was still talking to the guy, and my father asked,

“What could have done this to him?” but the guy just shook his head and said

“I don’t know sir, but it doesn’t look serious, so I just recommend a good night’s sleep.” The guy was lying, I could tell just by looking at his eyes, he knew exactly what had happened and I was going to figure it out.

The next morning I woke up long before anyone else in the resort, I went down to the guest computers and looked up the resort website to find the name of the beach, after searching for a while I found it, Paradise beach, so I looked that up too, and I found that the beach had only closed 1 month ago I quickly scanned through the texts hoping desperately to find the reason why it had closed, but only the last sentence of the article said anything about the why and its answer was incredibly strange: “the beach closed due to unknown reasons” then I realized what I had to do, I had to catch them in the act, but I didn’t have a phone, so Where would I get a camera? Then it hit me, my parents, had phones, I knew both their passwords, but the hard part would be the actual stealing, I already felt a wave of guilt and I hadn’t even done it yet, just thought about it! I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like when/if I did it. But I had to, I had to figure out whatever was going on and stop it. As I walked up the stairs of the hotel more guilt weighed on my shoulders with every step, by the time I got to my parent’s door my chest felt like a huge weight had been dropped on it and I was gasping for breath. My hands shook as I held up the keycard and part of me was hoping the door wouldn’t open, but it did. And I was forced to steal from the people who gave me life. The stealing itself wasn’t hard, both my parent’s phones were just charging on the hotel dresser as they slept, however, it took what seemed like an eternity until I built up the courage to quickly snatch my mom’s phone because her’s was older, so it wouldn’t be too bad if it got a few scratches, and she always forgot to bring it with her whenever she was going anywhere, so I thought there might be a tiny, tiny chance she wouldn’t notice it missing. I walked down to the beach, and mixed feelings filled my mind, Part of me was happy I’d gotten the phone without my mom realizing it, but the other part of me still felt horribly guilty for taking it in the first place. As I started walking towards the cliff my feelings swirled threw my whole body, anger, guilt, fear, stress, sadness, confusion, uncertainty, I got to the large rock and forced myself to climb up it for the second time, and it certainly felt a lot harder than it had felt the first time, my muscles ached and my chest was tight but I demanded my shaking hands to push the palm aside. By the time I made it to the steps, I realized no one else was there, which was probably a good thing, I didn’t think my nerves could handle that. I peeked my head out to double-check that the cave wasn’t occupied, then when I was positive it wasn’t, I entered. The cave was cold and salty and looked astonishingly empty I went over to the palm and moved it to the side and saw a direct view from the cave to where I had been sitting on the beach. I exhaled, although this cave was a suspicious possibly dangerous place, it had a fabulous view, I got cared away looking at the gorgeous view until a particularly strong wind came and I felt something being swept against my feet, it was a paper, and as I flipped it over, I was filled with another emotion, so strong that it made me feel light-headed and have to sit down on the slippery ground the paper was an article all about the moon jellyfish, then the next page was about an Irukandji jellyfish, I read through both pages, but when I finished with the second one, my stomach had twisted in all sorts of knots, the Irukandji Jellyfish was only the size of a fingernail, 100% see through, making it practically invisible, and it was a box jellyfish, the most poisonous animal in the world. I whipped out my mother’s phone and snapped a picture of the article, now this was proof, proof that these people were dangerous, why would they have an article about a jellyfish, why would Patrick H. be yelling his assistant to “HAVE IT BY TOMORROW!” the “it” was the jellyfish, these people were crazy dangerous lunatics that could end up being murders. Suddenly my breath got really quick and my palms got really sweaty and I started to tremble, my stomach felt uneasy and I felt as if I was choking on air, my vision started to blur and the world began to spin. Then everything went dark. I woke up gasping, my head throbbing, but I managed to get to my feet I looked at the paper in my hand and everything came rushing back to me, I studied the papers hard and saw something I hadn’t seen the first time, in the very bottom right corner of both pages there was writing, for the moon jellyfish page, it said “day one” and for the Irukandji Jellyfish, it said “day two” oh my gosh I thought as I realized what it meant, if day one was yesterday, the day my brother mysteriously got red itchy bumps up his arm, which was the exact reaction people could get from the moon jellyfish, then today must be day two… the Irukandji Jellyfish, and I knew that it would be a lot worse if someone got stung today, it wouldn’t just be red bumps, it could be death. 

Before I knew it I had scrambled to my feet, no longer caring about my painful headache as I grabbed the paper, shoved my mom’s phone in my back pocket, and sprinted, praying I wouldn’t be too late. By the time I’d gotten to the pool 10 minutes had already passed and a woman was already being loaded into an ambulance, horrible marks up her back, the woman was older and looked like she had just been doing morning laps, she was crying and screaming with pain and it made me run faster than I ever had, totally oblivious to the footsteps behind me until I felt a rough calloused hand on my back I whipped around to see who it was and it paralyzed me with fear when I saw Patrick H.’s face glaring down at me,\

“What have you got there princess?” he asked pointing at the article, I knew things were about to turn bad, so I shoved my hand in my pocket and quickly clicked the video button.

“Get your hands off me!” I shrieked and for a second he looked a little taken aback, then he tightened his grip on my shoulder, so much that it was painful,

“Listen little brat, you’re going to give me that paper right now, or there’s gonna be some trouble, I recognize your voice, you were the person who was spying on us in the cliff, and my idiot assistant must have left those articles behind, which means now you have some proof about our little scheme, and I can’t let that happen, and you’ve already seen far too much, so I guess I’ll have to do something with you, oh! I have a fun idea! What if you went… cliff jumping.” His voice was so cold and so mean that it made my whole body tremble, but I wasn’t going to let him hurt me or anyone else, so I started acting,

“P…pl…please don’t hurt me!” I wailed and started fake crying, I held slowly held out the paper to him, and he took one hand off my shoulder, to grab it, but out of the corner of my eyes I saw a wine glass that a waiter must have set down, only a few feet away from me and a second before he snatched the paper I lunged for the wine glass grabbing it and throwing it right at his shocked face, and before he could duck glass shards impaled his face, I turned and ran the second he crumbled to the floor, reaching my hand into my pocket and turning off the video, a huge swell of pride filled me as I ran to a police car next to the ambulance with the lady who had been stung inside it.

“Sir! Sir! Sir please I’d like a word!” I pleaded banging my fists on the car’s driver’s window until the policeman rolled it down. 

“Hello… can I help you with something?” the police asked clearly confused, but before he even introduced himself I opened my mouth, and everything, from the first day, to now poured out.

Before I knew it, me and my family watched Patrick H. and his assistant driven away handcuffed in a police car. 

“ I can’t believe it.” my mother said, her eyes wide after I’d explained the whole thing to her, my dad, and Wreck-it. 

“Will we get to know why they did what they did?” my dad asked,

“The policeman told me I’d be the first to know.” I sighed letting out a breath it felt like I had been holding forever. 


2 days later,  1 hour before leaving for the airport.


“Katie! Katie the policeman wants you!” My mother said rushing into me and Ralph’s room holding her phone out,

“Um… ok!” I said and grabbed the phone, “Hello, officer Salvador?” 

“Yes! Hello there Katie! We know why they did what they did,” Office Salvador’s gruff voice said and my heart became skittish, my hands started to fidget. 

After 20 minutes Salvador finally finished his explanation, the two men, were terrorists, hired by a rich man in the united states, they hadn’t figured out who, but they were trying to shut down every hotel in all of Mexico, and this just happened to be the first hotel, because it was the most popular, and had the most people in it to scare, the officer had said that their employer had also told them, casualties didn’t matter, and it was just a bonus if people died. 

“Katie, you just stopped a possible mass murder. You’re a hero.” Officer Salvador finished.