Please excuse any formatting issues this blog has caused to chapter one.
Andy Thompson’s hand was shaking as he reached for the dirty, tarnished doorknob. He stopped, took a step back, and glanced around for the hundredth time. His heart was pounding so hard, he was sure his chest was actually moving with each thud.
In all his ten years, Andy had never disobeyed his parents. Until today. On a scale of one to ten, this was an easy nine. He could still hear his mother last night at dinner: “Nobody has been in that house for three years. No telling what kind of shape it’s in. The walls are probably termite ridden and ready to crumble, if they haven’t already. It’s dangerous and you have no business being there. You could get seriously hurt. I, for one, think it’s about time they tear that eyesore down. You stay clear of that place!” Blah . . . blah . . .blah . . . blah . . . blah.
The company that was to tear down the old abandoned house the very next morning had placed a ten-foot high chain link fence around the house. It didn’t take him very long at all to get inside that.
He now stood in front of the slanted, cellar doors, which were rough wood,
weathered, and ridden with bugs. remembered a time when they were white as snow, but now they had only traces of paint here and there. He wondered if, with a
little pressure, the doors might just splinter with a good kick.
Taking a deep breath, Andy grabbed the doorknob, placed his foot on the other door and pulled with all his might. He gave a surprised yelp when the rotted wood surrounding the knob gave way, and he tumbled and fell flat on his back. He regained his feet, massaged his sore pelvis and saw one door now hung on a single hinge.
He was breathing hard when he finished muscling the broken door open.
All he had to do now was dig up some courage to take those rickety steps down to that dark, spooky basement. On one side of the steps was a cement wall that disappeared into darkness. On the other side was gray nothing. There wasn’t even a railing to hold on to.
The urge to run for his bike and get home was strong, but a nagging voice told him that he’d never get this chance again. He bad that, after tomorrow, this house would be history.
Since the weather outside was perfect for bike riding, he’d put on a striped,
cereal-stained, short-sleeved T-shirt, and a pair of well worn Levi’s, with his
knees trying to peek through a few threadbare spots. But dressed as he was, he
now felt a chill, and goose bumps covered his body as he crossed the wooden
steps. He found a light switch to the left. Even as Andy tried it, he knew
there’d be no lights coming on. He tried it anyway, several times. Up, down, up,
down, up, down. After all, you just never know, and he wanted to be sure!
The eerie creak that accompanied each step was like a thunderclap in Andy’s ears. He reached the cement floor. He stood still, listening, but for what?
Silence was all he heard.
Rays of light filtered in through four small, dirty basement windows. Dust particles made the air hazy, like smoke floating up by the ceiling. Thanks to that small amount of light, Andy could see most of the large room, though the corners were still shrouded in darkness.
Swallowing hard, Andy ventured farther into the room. He tripped over a small broken cement step that had been part of a shower stall at one time. He saw the big, black furnace against the far wall. had forgotten about that awful furnace. Its door lay on the floor, leaving a gaping black hole. It looked like a monster, ready to suck up anything that came close. Andy shivered. He didn’t feel the need to explore over by that particular wall.
Old wooden cabinets lined another wall. Doors were open, revealing glass jars, some broken, and lots of candles of different shapes and colors, some partially burned. all those candles made him smile. Now he could almost smell the vanilla or cinnamon in the air.Next to the cabinets, he saw several stacks of boxes, but a few were turned upside down and tossed here and there. One box must have held nothing but magazines, because ripped pages covered the gray cement floor; while another was overturned, and old Christmas decorations were lying about. Had somebody been in here and dumped them? Maybe an animal had gotten inside? Andy didn’t like either of those possibilities, as he glanced into the still dark corners, staring again at the open furnace.
He ventured over to the steps that led up deep inside the house and wondered if that door might be unlocked. “No way,” he muttered, but moved to check it out. He was halfway up when a mouse ran over the toe of his blue tennis shoe.
Andy never knew he could scream so loud.
In his hurry to get off the steps, he tripped over his own feet and fell down the last
Bringing his hands up to break his fall, he landed on the scattered magazines, and slid into the box full of old Christmas stuff. Andy found himself covered in
Christmas lights, old tinsel, and broken ornaments.
Something caught his eye as he struggled to untangle himself. He scrambled to his feet and hurried over to peek under a cabinet where a piece of molding had come loose. Something shiny was in there.
Andy slowly reached in and pulled a long skinny box from its hiding place. It was
gold and looked brand new. “Wow,” he whispered, staring. There was no latch on
this box. No matter which way he turned it or how he shook it, the box wouldn’t
open. “Open, you dumb box,” Andy shouted. The box became almost transparent and whatever was inside glowed a brilliant red.
As if burned, Andy dropped the box.
When the box hit the floor, it fell open. Inside, lying on a bed of red velvet, was a
stick of some kind. It was that glowed like fire. Andy gave the box a tiny nudge
with his toe. Nothing happened.
The stick just kept glowing.
He knelt down to examine it a little closer. He took a magazine, rolled it up, and
touched it. After all, if it was hot, he didn’t want to get burned.
Again, nothing happened.
Andy touched it. There was no pain—no smell of burning skin.
Removing the stick, Andy he got to his feet. Now what?
“Well, if it isn’t Andy Pandy.”