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Main Characters:

LiveInRexville

theDragon School is in landfill—enter through porta-potty, dragon-statue, Halo


auditorium (there is another second dragon school)

TheFOUR-A group of special kids to stop Armageddon, two are unknown.

???Sulley was a devil worshipper who used to live in Trevor’s house

The One = antichrist = transforms into alan and laney’s dad, only the one can take any
form it pleases | Destroys your soul, your existence (the one is aaron—alan’s dad—turns
out he and his sister are half demons)

Uncle Trevor – Alan and Laney’s Uncle – Short tempered, sleeps a lot, doesn’t like kids
at all - not good at speaking English - eccentric - cheap –
DEAD/disappeared/RETURNED from DEAD, possessed by Necro

Father Felix – IRISH – Stays At the St. Kevin Church

Alan’s mom – divorced, single mother, living on min. wage. Dad left for Vegas to start
new life with stripper, Academic: NAME is Abigail (slit her own wrists)

Alan’s Dad – Alan told Laney he was kidnapped and murdered in Afghanistan. Name:
Aaron

Kids live in Monster Mansion which is a 4 storey building


1st floor – regular floor 2nd floor – bedrooms
rd
3 floor – one door (locked), connected to fourth floor, has treasure chest
4th floor – room with empty boxes, mattresses, furniture, and one with no floor but ladder
that leads into third floor
Attic – full of books

Laney opened the first door to the left, the one that was closest to her. This room, the first
room on the fourth floor, was bare with nothing but empty boxes. The second room had
soiled mattresses piled. The third room had old furniture (chairs, tables, etc). And the
fourth room, and final room, had no floor. There was, however, a ladder which led into
third floor room (which was previously found to be locked off).

The Principal – A bit domineering, statuesque almost, name not known, cryptic, likes
quoting (to show off his knowledge).

Alan Harris - 11 Years Old - Has One Sister (Laney) - Lived With Mom, but She Died
Older brother syndrome, protective, paranoid, well meaning but sometimes overbearing,
bold [Alan’s personal mission is to find the demon(s) who ruined his life]

John – Alan’s rival – left handed – short brown hair, blue eyes, bad temper, always
considered with his image | John is the son of Thomson’s rival

Laney – 10 Years Old a tom boy very optimistic about life, very trusting Tough
girl studious, but not necessarily a nerd or a book worm -Polite
In the dark about his dad, Alan tells her fibs sometimes (but that’s changing),
germaphobe

Aiyana – fair skinned blonde with freckles, about same age as Alan (one of the four), an
over-achiever…very studious, people pleaser, but secretly aspires to be an actress.

Adam - Laney’s love interest – plays soccer, new in town (13 on B-day)/bit of a jerk
[lives with mean, hairy dad (Wayne )who’s a cheater--and mom]
Adam’s cousin MEL
Sarah Clark 12 - Huge girl huge heart doesn’t talk too much Laney’s best
friend a real book worm knows karate lives on 56 Crescent Moon Street
Has mom and dad, but they’re absentee parents, verbally abusive | has twin sister, doesn’t
know about her yet.

Mr. McLeary – Late 30s, Postman, secretly an angel

Sarah’s Neighbor = Lynda (grumpy, suspicious)

Thompson – 44 year old occult specialist and former priest – Demon fighter – Very
friendly, and confident. – Wise for his age. –Entrepreneur – was friends with Trevor,
business partners – took up legal agreement to take on his responsibilities
-Needs the ‘Demon Stoppers’ to cleanse the earth and stop the invasion of Satan’s army
(i.e. hell on earth)

Mu-Chin – A friend of Thompson, age unknown but very old, owns the Dragon’s
Emporium shop in downtown China. Bit of a hearing problem.

GRENDEL TEXTBOOK – Textbook that Alan (and John) uses for magic. Not many
people have it. Chapters include: Forces.

Minor Characters:

Charles – crazy bus guy


T.G. Winters—commentator/news anchor/journalist
Jacky Fawcett - News Reporter
Bugsy – Bus Driver (M)
Ratatan Silvanagurlingsinghupp – spiritual guru from India
Jezebel – Adam’s dad’s mistress
Manny (opened basement door), Moe (fat), Ted (dreads), Godwin (buck teeth) and Jack
(spiky-haired boy)

The Spider – genderless creature, used to be a human, punished for consorting with
demons, turned into spider, was human, wanted to be rich and famous

Demons can possess people, demons can influence, not everyone can see demons, kids
can see demons (Some can be caught and trained.)

Gerald – 10 years old – trouble maker, annoying, obnoxious – cruel, likes to play pranks,
a real punk

Francis – Gerald’s older brother – 13 years old – just an all around A-hole, hedonistic,
only cares about himself, likes to cause trouble, always digging into people.
Tutu Pond
Mrs. Vanderhorn (Muffy) – a teacher at St. Kevin Elementary – Very righteous and
upholding of all laws … straight-laced, mostly, but still kind … husband in Asia, cheats
on her.
Mr. Rainwater (Jim) – teacher at dragon school, seems nice but is self-centered. Wants to
be the head of the school.
Cops – Fred and Ted (fred the leader, more assertive, ted more nervous, passive)
Ms. (Emily) Someen – mean, crabby teacher, opposite of mr. rainwater. Is actually good.
Wants kids to take their studies seriously and succeed.
Mrs. Elaine P. Grimsworth - Editor in Chief of the Grendel Text

Demons:

Necro – Brings dead people back to life as vampires, is a mist/vapor, can’t really be
destroyed
Puffy – Smokes, tempts kids to smoke – Ate Uncle Trevor
Prometheo – Burns things.
Nosey – Spies on people, plays pranks, Nose covers his whole face, almost

NOTE: Some spells require crosses, charms, and other such items.

Demon Stoppers (60kmin-80kto90k Goal)

Chapter 1

Alan heard the sound of someone falling just above his head. He stopped what he was
doing and calmly went upstairs. He went through the hallway and looked into the first
door he came upon. There was no one in his sister’s room. There was no one in his own
room. Then he went to the master bedroom. He opened the door and crept in. It was dark.
All the blinds were shut.
As Alan continued on, he felt his foot step into something wet. He lifted his foot and
saw a dark liquid on his sole. “Yuck,” was his response. There was a sweet, metallic odor
in the air. Alan went to the corner of the room. He saw what looked like a log. His
curiosity beckoned him and he pulled open the blinds to better see. When the sunlight
filled the room, he nearly blacked out from shock.
There was his mom, lying dead on the floor. Her wrists were cut, slashed straight
across; though she appeared to still be alive. Alan, panic-stricken, picked up the phone
and called for an ambulance. Then, after, he wrapped white towels around his mom’s
wrists. But when he took a closer look at her face, he saw that she was in fact not alive,
but was only having an involuntary spasm. She was really dead.
Alan, the poor boy, wanted to cry. But he was too in shock to do anything. He went
under bed and hid. He waited there ‘till the ambulance arrived, which was about twenty-
five minutes later.

Chapter 2

A week had passed since his mom’s suicide, but Alan was feeling worse than ever. A lot
of kids at his school were ignoring him. A rumor went around that he was cursed and
caused people to kill themselves. His younger sister, however, seemed to be getting along
fine (strangely). None of the kids bothered her.
During recess Alan went to visit his sister, Laney. Laney, a tomboy, was playing
catch with her best-friend, Sarah. Sarah was a huge girl. At nearly six feet tall, she was
considered to be a giant in the playground. At twelve years old, she was a year older than
Alan, and two years older than Sarah. She waved “hello” to Alan when he stopped by.
“I need to talk to my sister,” said Alan. “Just to see if she’s doing okay.”
“I’m doing alright,” said Laney. “There’s no need to check up on me.”
Sarah stood silently, as if keeping a watch out. Alan grabbed Laney’s ball and put it
in his pocket. “This is serious,” he said. “I think you have a psychological problem.”
Laney scoffed, “Who made you Freud?”
“I don’t you,” said Alan. “Shouldn’t you be in mourning? You know how depressed
I’ve been? I can’t even eat pizza anymore. And you’re just all ‘la-la-la’ like nothing’s
happened. Are you some sort of emotionless being without emotions? Where the hell are
your emotions?”
Laney took her ball back and threw it to Sarah to hold. She gave Alan a bit of a
shove. “What do you want from me?” she said. “You really think I have no emotions?
You think I’m some sorta monster or what? I know what happened. Mom tried to
decapitate herself… I’m dealing with this as best as I can. I’m just numb. Okay. Do you
know what happens when you hit yourself with a hammer on the hand? You get some
pain, then you feel numb afterward. You can’t feel your skin. That’s what I’m going
through. Stop bothering me. Go hang out with your own friends. I’m trying to play ball
here.”
Kids began gathering around as Laney and Alan argued. “Hey,” said one of them. “I
think these two are brother and sister!”
Laney slapped her forehead. It was clear that she was pretending that she was not
related to Alan.
Alan shouted, “Yeah, of course we’re brother and sister. Can’t you dummies see the
resemblance?”
One of the kids got annoyed by this remark. He stepped forward with his sleeves
rolled up—but Sarah shoved him down. “Bug off,” she said. “This is a family matter.”
The kids all “ooed” and “ahhed.” They were expecting a fight. Of course, there was
none. Nobody wanted to screw with Sarah. She could crush a walnut with her bare hands.
Still, verbal insults weren’t off limits. They knew that Sarah only got rough when things
got physical. She just believed in fighting fire with fire. Punching a boy in the kisser for
saying a name would be against her code. It was something informal, but mostly gathered
from her days in the dojo when she used to practice karate after school.
“Watch out,” one of the kids said mockingly. “You’ll pick up their curse! These
people are cursed! Their mom committed suicide!”
This, for Laney, was the line. Even though she was faced with a dozen or more kids,
she stepped forward and singled out the trouble maker. It was this rotund boy with dark
hair. He was really obnoxious and smelled of French bread.
“You got a problem?” Laney asked Gerald.
Gerald replied, “n-n-n-no.” He was clearly stuttering.
Laney grabbed his shirt and gave him the stink eye. “If you say one more word,” she
said, “I will tear off your ears and feed it to my dog.”
“You don’t have a dog,” said Gerald.
Then Laney jumped on him and started pounding away on him. Gerald screamed for
help, “Help! Help!” But nobody wanted to help him. Some of them took satisfaction in
his savage schoolyard beating. But although this attack felt right to mostly everyone,
Gerald’s older brother, Francis, did not agree. He saw what was happening from the
basketball court and ran to help.
Francis pushed Laney off of Gerald, and helped Gerald to his feet. “Damn it,” he
said to Gerald, “getting beat up by a girl…again?”
“Huh,” said Gerald, trying to get a grasp of what was happening, “she started it.”
As Francis was about to wallop Alan in the face—for he wanted to take revenge but
could not hit a girl—the teacher who monitored the grounds came out. “Stop making
trouble,” screeched Mrs. Vanderhorn. “Francis, Gerald, you brats. If you don’t hit the
road, I’m going to hit you.”
Francis and Gerald, while grumbling, left together.
“And for you three,” said Mrs. Vanderhorn while pointing at Alan, Laney, and
Sarah, “I want you to stay away from those boys, you hear? Next time you see ‘em just
leave. Don’t engage them. Those types of people need to be ignored.”
Then Mrs. Vanderhorn, along with the kids who’d gathered around the trio, went
away. Sarah and Laney continued their game of catch as if nothing had happened. Alan,
however, was all worked up. “Man,” he groused, “this school sucks. I hate St. Kevin
Elementary. I can’t wait to get into high school. It’ll be totally different there.”
The school bell of St. Kevin Elementary rung after those words.

Chapter 3

It was fifteen minutes before the end of the school day—3:30 pm. Everyone was anxious,
and most of them hadn’t been paying attention to Mrs. Vanderhorn’s lecture. She was
going on about World War 2 or geography or something other. Alan raised his hand.
“Excuse me, Mrs. Vanderhorn,” he said, “do you think I can leave early today? I’m not
feeling so well.” Alan, because of his mom’s death, had already gotten three days off. But
Mrs. Vanderhorn felt sorry for him, and he knew this.
“As you wish,” Mrs. Vanderhorn said. “Just stay safe.” Alan packed gathered his
things and left while everyone gave him a glare. But he didn’t care, he went to the coat
rack outside and put on his jacket. He went down the hall and, after making a turn at the
washrooms, met with Laney who was also getting sympathy from all the adults. Laney
and Alan went outside. They walked along the sidewalk which was half crumbling away.
“What did you learn in class today?” asked Alan.
“I was going to learn about the meaning of life,” Laney replied, “but you insisted I
leave school early.”
“Don’t give me that,” said Alan. “It’s for a good reason, you know. You don’t want
those dummies following us and taunting us, do you?”
“They’re only taunting us because…” Laney tried to explain. “I don’t know why!”
“Kids can be cruel,” said Alan.
“Yes,” said Laney.
The two, after a few minutes of walking, got to the bus stop. The place they were
staying now wasn’t close to the school, so they had to travel a bit more. They hated
taking the bus, but there was no other choice, really. Anyway, they figured it was
something they would have to do eventually. They certainly couldn’t afford a car. How?
By getting a job in stink town? (Officially known as “Rexville.”) No way!
The bus arrived. Alan handed Laney the tokens and she dropped them both into the
change box. They went to the end at with their backs to the window. The bus rumbled as
it went along the pothole filled roads. While Laney did her homework, Alan was busy
looking outside. He noted the homeless people and the pedestrians who kept close by the
curb to avoid them, even though it was sort of dangerous. He felt sorry for both parties,
really.
The bus stopped as Alan was in thought. A slew of people entered, packing everyone
else in like sardines. Most of the men standing sucked in their stomachs while in transit.
Alan figured they didn’t want to hit anyone with their guts. “I hope I don’t look like that
when I get older,” Alan said to himself. He then nudged Laney. “Stop studying so hard,
your brain’s gonna explode.”
Laney whacked him in the head with her book, “I’m not going to grow up and have
to go to community college. That’s more your style.”
The bus came to a sudden halt. The people in front nearly fell over. “Let’s go,” said
Alan. Then he and Laney went outside. The stop was grungy, and the glass in the shelter
was broken. They stepped around the shards and continued on their way. A minute went
by and they were at their new place. It wasn’t quite as quaint as their old home, but it was
much bigger. It had four stories, which was very unusual in this part of town which was
very poor.
Laney and Alan went to the double doors. Laney waited for Alan to use his keys.
“Hurry up,” she said. “I haven’t got all day.”
“I can’t find my keys,” Alan complained. “We’ll have to knock.”
“No, no,” said Laney. “We can’t wake Uncle Trevor. He’ll flip his lid. Then take that
lid and whack us over the heads with it.”
“There’s no choice,” said Alan, “unless you want to break and enter… Is that legal?
We are staying here, after all.”
The two doors swung open. Trevor had one eye open. “YOU BLASTED KIDS!” he
shouted. “I tolds you guys to not make noise while I’m asleep! I thinks a lot, you know! I
have ideas that are gonna make me rich! Then I can finally buy that elephant I wanted!”
“You can’t get an elephant,” replied Alan. “They’re an endangered species.”
“Never mind that,” said Trevor. “Get your rears in here. The heat is coming out, and
I’m not too fond of losing money.”
So, with that, Laney and Alan went inside. Trevor left to go upstairs, presumably to
return to his sleep.
“What a grump,” said Laney. “I’m going insane in here. I swear this place is haunted
or something—that’s why Uncle Trevor’s so insane.”
“Don’t be so ungrateful,” said Alan. “Let’s be glad he’s taken us in. No one else
wanted to. Mom left us with nothing.”
“What does that man do for a living?” Laney thought aloud.
“Probably collects souls for the devil and sells ‘em,” Alan jokes.
The two laughed together.
Then there was a knock at the door. They quickly went to answer it. It was Sarah.
“Hi,” said Sarah in her soft voice. “Can I come in? I have something to show you guys.”
Instead of letting Sarah inside, Laney and Alan went out with her. They took her
‘round back into the yard. “Why are we here?” Sarah asked.
“Our uncle’s a bit of a nutter,” whispered Laney.
“He is,” said Alan, “nucking futs.”
Sarah scratched her head. She looked behind her and saw their Uncle Trevor staring
out the window with his bulging eyes. “Creepy,” she said. “Well, I want to show you
something even creepier.”
“I’m not really up for seeing creepy things today,” said Alan. “I’ve been seeing too
many creepy things lately.”
“I wanna see,” said Laney with a stomp of her foot. “I’m getting sick and tired of
being shut in all the time.”
“No,” said Alan. “As your slightly older brother, I must detest. I will not accompany
you so you can see something creepy. If you want to see something creepy, then go into
the church and stare at the crucifix.”
Laney pushed Alan out of the way and started making off with Sarah. Alan couldn’t
help but follow. “Wait for me,” he said with a grumble.

Chapter 3

A long trek through the woods took the three to a pond. It was brown and mucky, and had
no fish. There weren’t even bugs swarming around. The sun was going down. Alan was
getting worried. “Well,” he said, “show us this creepy thing, Sarah.”
Sarah lowered down. The others followed her lead. She pointed. “Look,” she said.
“Do you see it? Don’t tell me I’m insane.”
Laney squinted, “I see trees…and that’s about it. Whatever it is, we’ll have to get
closer.”
“No!” Sarah exclaimed. “I don’t want to get any closer. I feel safe here.”
Now Alan was feeling brave. “Girls,” he said in a patronizing tone. Then he went
forward with Laney following behind. Sarah was lagging, but kept them in her site.
A plume of smoke came at the trio. They all coughed together. After it was cleared, a
strange creature—no, a monster—was staring at them. He was roundish, had smooth,
pitch-black skin, fangs, yellow eyes, and skinny arms. “Ha-ha,” said Puffy. “I see you’ve
all come to visit me. How shall I help you out? One pack’s worth or two?” He threw
several dozen cigarettes and cigars at them. “Smoke up! There’s more where that came
from!”
Sarah and Laney wanted to turn back, but were held in place by Alan who was
mighty curious. “What in the hell are you?” he asked.
“My name is Puffy,” said Puffy. “The name, mind you, is sort of a misnomer. I’m
actually more round than puffy.” He had on an unsettling grin. “So, are you guys going to
join me in a smoke or what? Have I given you enough Marlboros? If you’d prefer, I can
give you Mistys. Girls like Mistys. And Kool. A lot of them like Kool. It’s a good brand
if you ask me, but I prefer the classics.”
“None of us smoke,” said Alan.
“That’s a shame,” said Puffy. “Now I will have to kill you all.”
Sarah, Laney, and Alan laughed nervously. They were sure this thing before them,
this thing called “Puffy,” was kidding. Puffy was not kidding. Two long fangs came out
of his mouth and he lunged toward everyone with a growl.
“This way!” said Sarah while running. Laney and Alan huffed. The three ran past a
creek, and what seemed a thousand trees. They ran as fast as they could—but stopped
when they saw Puffy was out of breath. Puffy was in the distance, dry heaving and
coughing. “Not fair,” he said. “I’m… I’m so tired.” His yellows eyes now had red veins.
Alan picked up a rock in his hand just in case. “I want to know,” he yelled. “What
are you?”
Puffy didn’t explain himself. He simply turned around and walked off, disappearing
as a puff of smoke. Laney looked at Sarah like: “What were you thinking!?” Sarah
shrugged.
“I didn’t think it would be dangerous,” she said. “At any rate, we outran it, didn’t
we?”
“Hey,” said Alan, “I’m quite stressed out.” He reached into his pocket and found a
packet of cigarettes. “Any of you have a lighter?”
Laney swatted it away, “Don’t be an idiot.”
“I was joking,” said Alan. “I know smoking’s bad for you. Duh. Any moron with
half a brain would know that…”
Sarah dragged Alan and Laney along. “Let’s finish this chat elsewhere,” she said.

Chapter 4

As crazy as it was, Alan, Laney, and Sarah returned to the woods—except this time they
were with their Uncle Trevor. Trevor, who’d been eavesdropping on them, heard all
about their expedition, and wanted to see the monster that they had seen. “Where is it?”
he barked impatient while looking through his video camera, hoping to record it and
make money. “I don’t see this SOB anywhere. Maybe he’s hiding because he knows I’m
here. I often have that effect on people…and animals. It’s because I’m tough.”
“Yeah, sure,” muttered Laney, sarcastically.
“See,” said Trevor, “your sister agrees with me.”
Trevor made Sarah hold his video camera, then, at Alan’s discouragement, he went
in for a closer look. “There’s nothing here!” he yelled. “Monster indeed!” He spun
around with his arms out. He jumped up and flailed. “Monster, monster! Come out
wherever you are!”
While Trevor made noise, Sarah saw Puffy return; only this time he was twice as
large as before. He rose behind Trevor and opened his mouth. Alan and Laney jumped
up, “Uncle Trevor!” (Even though they didn’t like him very much, they didn’t want him
to get hurt.) But there was Trevor still acting like a goof. He didn’t even pay attention to
them, and Puffy was getting too close for any sort of comfort. Puffy roared with fumes
blasting out his mouth.
Trevor spun around, “What the!” Then he was swallowed up by Puffy. Instinctively,
Alan ran after Puffy. But Puffy was, this time, too fast. He got away.
Alan returned to Laney and Sarah. “Oh, man, oh, man,” he kept stuttering.
“Good idea!” exclaimed Laney to Sarah.
Sarah was feeling too sheepish and foolish to say anything. “Sorry,” was all she
could muster.

Chapter 5

The trio had long left the woods, and now they were in Alan’s room discussing what to
do. Neither Laney nor Sarah had any suggestions. None knew how to explain what
happened. Who would believe that a monster named “Puffy” had eaten their uncle?
“Should we tell the truth and look crazy?” Alan pondered. “Or should we just say we
don’t know where he is? That would make a lot more sense. After all, Trevor’s an adult.
He could’ve just left us alone and somehow vanished. Maybe a kidnapping. We are on
the wrong side of the tracks, y’know.”
“Do you think your mom’s okay with you sleeping over here?” Laney asked Sarah.
Sarah nodded, “Yeah. I told my parents that I was doing a school project and I
needed to stay overnight to complete. So, yeah, don’t worry. They don’t really care.
They’re kind of laissez-faire when it comes to children. Also, I think they do things with
each other when I’m gone.”
“Too much information,” said Laney.
“I want more details,” said Alan.
Laney elbowed Alan in the ribs. “Ow,” he said.
Sarah looked out the window. There were raccoons tussling in the backyard. This
show, however, did not give her any ideas.
The night turned late, and the three were getting tired. They didn’t finish their
homework, but figured they could do it on Sunday which was tomorrow. Now they just
wanted to get to sleep. So, all three changed into their jammies and gathered into the
same bed. They would’ve preferred sleeping in separate beds, but they were much too
scared. They stayed close to one another and left on the lights. Laney was in the middle,
surrounded by her brother, and Sarah.
Some time passed; however, none were getting drowsy. There was too much
adrenalin pumping through their veins. Alan tried to make conversation. Maybe, he
thought, this would help everyone fall asleep. “Well,” he said, “did you hear about that
oil spill? It’s terrible isn’t it? I sure bet something like this would never happen if we
were on a hydrogen economy with more alternative energy sources in use. What do you
guys think about solar? I think—in conjunction with wind—it’s quite viable.”
“I see what you’re trying to do,” said Laney. “Trying to bore us into sleep, aren’t
you?”
“No,” said Alan. “But I’ll keep going on if that would work.”
Just then a knocking sound filled the room. Knock! Knock! Sarah sat up, “Who, who
could that be?”
“Go and answer it,” Alan instructed Laney. Laney pushed him out of the bed.
“What do I look?” she said. “You go answer it, Geoffrey.”
So, Alan reluctantly got up. After doing a quick change, really just getting into jeans,
he traveled down the long staircase. He nearly slipped while going down. The knock kept
getting louder and faster. KNOCK-KNOCK-KNOCK!
“Hang on to your knickers,” said Alan. “I’m coming… People these days have no
patience.”
Alan looked through the peephole of the double doors. All he could see was black.
There was someone—or something blocking. “Who is it?” said Alan in his deepest voice.
“I won’t open up ‘till you tell me.”
There was a labored breathing on the other side. “I heard what happened to your
uncle,” said a voice. “I’ve come to check on the three of you. I am from across the
street.”
“Across from the street,” Alan repeated in his head. “Still, how could he know that
there were three of us in here? And how’d he know what happened to Uncle Trevor? This
is all too suspicious.”
“Fine,” said the voice. “I lied to you. I am not from across the street. But I have
come to check on you three, and you should let me in. The wind outside is howling. I am
quite cold. It would be impolite of you to not let me in to take shelter. Now, please, open
up and we shall talk. It will only take a moment.”
At that moment Sarah and Laney came down.
“Who is it?” asked Laney.
Alan shrugged, “I dunno, but he’s a damn weirdo. He won’t tell me who he is, and
he’s covering the peephole. I think we should call the cops… Call the cops.”
Sarah went into her pocket and got out her mobile phone. She dialed for the operator.
There was, however, no reception. “I got nothing,” she said. “I’m not low on batteries. I
can’t get a signal in here.”
“Yeah,” said Laney. “This place is like a faraday cage. We’ll have to use the
landlines.” So, off Laney and Sarah went to the kitchen to use the regular phone. It was
an old-rotary deal that took “forever” to make a call.
Alan stood by the door. He grabbed an umbrella from the umbrella holder and held it
like a weapon. “Okay,” he said, “we’re calling the cops. If you’re not gone in ten
seconds, you’re going to be put into a patty wagon and tossed into a cell.”
Laney returned with Sarah. They explained that the phones weren’t working. “Cheap
Uncle Trevor,” said Laney. “He probably doesn’t pay his bills.”
“Damn it,” said Alan. “What do we do now?”
The voice outside chuckled, “That uncle of yours. So, I guess you have no other
choice but to let me in now, huh?”
“JUST LET HIM IN!” said Sarah. Sarah grabbed a dusty old vase and positioned
herself by the doors. She whispered, “I’ll whack him over the head when he comes in.” It
was a terrible plan, but neither Laney nor Alan could offer anything else. They agreed to
let their guest bonk the stranger over the head.
So, with Laney behind him, Alan opened one of the double doors. It swung open
with a bang. Eh? There was no one there. “Where is he?” Alan asked himself.
Then the stranger appeared. He came into the house. He was wearing a trench coat
and carrying a cane, which he used to block Sarah’s attack. The vase shattered and the
pieces fell to the floor.
“What a warm welcome,” said the stranger with a grin. “And how do you do? My
name is Thompson.” His arm extended for hand shake, but nobody wanted to shake it.
“Well, never mind then,” said Thompson. He looked around. “Hmm, this is a nice place
you have here. I think I’m going to like staying here.”
“Stay here?” said Laney. “Are you cuckoo?”
“Yes,” replied Thompson. “You heard my correctly. Now that you’re uncle’s gone, I
will be your guardian. I have all the legal documents if you need to see them.”
Alan demanded to see them; so, Thompson reached into the deep of his trench coat
and gladly handed over a roll of papers. Laney and Sarah gathered around to see the
documentation. All three of them scanned each line carefully with their eyes. They
couldn’t believe what they were seeing. This man, Thompson, indeed did have
guardianship over them—well, except for Sarah.
“No way,” said Alan. “No way, man.”
“Call the cops,” Laney demanded Sarah.
“Go ahead,” said Thompson, “you won’t be chasing me away. Your uncle and I had
agreements with each other. Who do you think paid for this extraordinary place?”
Sarah stepped outside in the drizzle and called the cops. The cops were
coincidentally just around the corner, and they came quickly to the house—or as it was
known to most: the Monster Mansion. (Technically it wasn’t a mansion at slightly under
8,000 square feet, but it appeared much larger the way it was designed. It was skinny and
tall with four levels, which made it shadow over every other house in the vicinity.)
Two cops arrived: Fred and Ted.
“What’s the matter here?” asked Fred.
Sarah, Laney, and Alan practically sprang at the cops. They stuck close to them
while rambling about their troubles.
“Whoa, whoa,” said Ted. “One at a time. One at a time.”
Laney pointed her finger right at Thompson. “This man is trying to kidnap us! He
says he’s going to stay in our house! You gotta do something about this! Lock him away
before our faces appear on the back of milk cartons!”
Thompson was calm and cool. He shook hands with Fred and Ted and had a chat.
The friendliness between them indicated that they all knew each other before hand. Fred
looked at the documents which Thompson had shown Alan. Both Ted and Fred agreed,
“Yup. This all checks out.” Then they left without saying anymore. Thompson waved
them goodbye.
“WHAT!” exclaimed Alan. “Are you serious about this!? You’re going to be our
guardian?! Mr. Creepy, old man is going to take care of us?! What’s this world coming
to?”
“I’m only 44 years old,” said Thompson. “You only get creepy when you hit 60.”
Sarah took a step back. “I don’t want to be axe-murdered,” she said. “I’m heading
home.”
“No, don’t go,” pleaded Laney. “We need you!”
But Sarah was off. Even though her house was some distance away, her long,
running legs made her disappear quite fast. Now it was only Alan and Laney. They
dreaded what would happen next, although they were beginning to calm. Thompson
genuinely seemed harmless. Actually, the smile behind his curly moustache was
somewhat endearing.
Thompson closed the door to stop the wind and rain from entering. He then took off
his coat and placed it on the coat racket. He was a trim, in shape man, wearing a striped
waistcoat that accentuated his muscular chest. Well, muscular for being over forty. He
looked at his watch. The time was nearly one in the morning.
“Off to bed,” he declared. “As your new guardian I detest late mornings.” He gently
pushed Alan and Laney up the stairs. “Go to your respective rooms, and I will wake you
for breakfast—which should come around at six.”
Although Alan and Laney weren’t tired, they went upstairs anyway. They had no
idea what to make of their situation. For tonight they slept in the same bed, which wasn’t
all too great since Laney often kicked while she dreamed. She dreamed a lot.

Chapter 6

The morning came. Sun shone through the windows, and Laney and Alan awoke.
Thompson was at the door ringing a bell. He was still in vest, albeit a different vest.
“Good morning,” he said. It was about six now. “You’ll do no good just lying about.
Make the most of your weekends. Sunday is the best day to get anything done.”
Alan rubbed his eyes, “Do we have to?”
Laney sat up and sniffed the air, “Is that breakfast?”
A sweet, strong aroma filled the house.
“Why, yes,” said Thompson. “I’ve made a full course breakfast for all of you.”
Even though it was early, Alan and Laney became quite enthusiastic. They hadn’t
had a good breakfast in some time. Their mother, while alive, was a terrible cook, and
would often give them burnt toast and orange juice to eat.
So, Alan and Laney, after doing their morning routine, went downstairs. Everyone
gathered around the rectangular table in the kitchen. There was an assortment of foods:
steel cut oatmeal, non-burnt toast, warm milk sweetened with honey, oranges slices,
sunny-side up eggs, and (animal) welfare approved bacon.
With a rumbling stomach Alan dug in. Laney appeared less voracious, and took the
time to enjoy her meal. “So,” said Thompson while taking a seat, “if I may, I’d like to
give myself a proper introduction…A little back story…” His voice slowed down from
its usual speedy tone. “You probably don’t know about the relationship that your uncle
and I had, but we were business partners. Very close business partners. We started a
company and sold it. But it made Trevor really paranoid. He was scared that someone
was after him, so we made this strange legal agreement that I’d assume all his assets and
responsibilities if he died. That way, he thought, nobody could get their dirty hands on his
fortune. He trusted me a lot for some unusual reason.”
This was interesting to Alan. “How much money?” he asked.
Thompson smirked, “Why don’t you two try and guess?”
“$100, 000?” said Laney, guessing first.
“Higher,” said Thompson.
“$200, 000?”
“No.”
“$300, 000?”
“Nope.”
“A MILLION!”
Thompson was having a good time. “Boy,” he said, “you kids really don’t know
what A LOT is.”
Alan took a swing at it (so to speak). “A hundred million?”
This made Thompson blush. “Yes,” he said. “You’ve got it right. And what do you
think of that?”
“I don’t care,” said Alan. “WAIT! DID YOU SAY ‘YES’?!” He spit out his milk all
over Laney. Laney made an annoyed face and barked an expletive. Then she cleaned
herself up.
“Hold your horses,” said Alan. “You… You…” He became flustered thinking about
how much a hundred million dollars was. When his mom was alive, he and Laney
practically lived in poverty. After dad skipped out of town to go to Vegas start a new life
with an exotic dancer, they literally had to pinch every penny. And as you know, it’s
damn tough being a single parent on minimum wage. They never went out anywhere.
They never got anything new. And they had no allowance. Their food was minimal.
There were no material pleasures.
Thompson put his arm around Alan after stuffing a piece of toast into his mouth.
“Yesh,” he said while chewing, “I’m going to take you two out to the mall. We’ll buy
some things to get you comfy here. How’s about it?”
Now this had Laney engaged. “And what can we get?” she asked. “New clothes? Oh,
I really, really want a new pair of shoes.”
“All that and more,” Thompson said. “We’ll go shopping when the stores open.”

Chapter 7

It was about ten in the morning. Most places were open by now, and Allan and Laney
were all too anxious to go shopping. Thompson drove them around in a big, black
Cadillac, which very much matched his clothing.
The mall was coming up down the road.
“There it is,” said Laney. “I’m so excited.”
But the excitement did not last too long; Thompson went right past the mall. Alan
was stupefied, however, kept quiet. He figured they’d be going to another place that was
similar. This, though, was a misjudgment. They went past every single mall, and even the
plazas.
“Alright,” said Alan. “What gives? You said we’d go shopping. I’m dead tired from
waking up at six in the morning, and darn it, I only have my eyes open now because you
promised us stuff.”
“Where are we going?” asked Laney, now awfully suspicious.
Looking left, Alan turned the wheel of his car. He weaved in and out of traffic while
maintaining a bad speed (which was a speed too fast). “Relax,” he said. “I’m taking you
somewhere better than a mall.”
“What could be better than a mall?” asked Laney.
“CHINA TOWN!” exclaimed Thompson. He gave a thumbs-up while looking in the
mirror. “It’s a great place to find bargains.”
“There are no bargains for Nintendos,” said Alan.
Laney whispered, “I think he’s going to kill the both of us. See the way he’s driving.
He’s in a rush to take us to the lake so he can drown us.”
Thompson heard everything…but he wasn’t annoyed at the remarks. He knew who
he was—and who he was wasn’t a psychopathic killer. “I’m not going to kill you two,”
he said. “I just want to take you guys somewhere interesting. A mall is such a vapid
place. Everyone in there is a zombie. Okay, there are zombies in China Town, but far
fewer.”
Laney punched Alan in the arm.
“Ow,” he said, “what was that for?”
“I don’t know,” she said, “but I’m sure this is your fault.”
Half an hour or so went by. Thompson went into an underground parking lot and
parked the car. “We’re here,” he said. “China Town!” The only response he got from
Laney and Alan was in a groan. When they stepped out of the car they plugged their
noses.
“Smell like pee,” said Alan. “Why does it smell like pee?”
“That’s not pee,” said Thompson. “That’s sweet and sour sauce.”
Alan groaned. He straggled behind while Laney kept up with Thompson. The three
left the parking lot, and went outside where they were inundated with a plethora of more
smells—some good and some not so good.
“Watch out for the trash,” said Thompson while stepping over a soiled paper cup.
Laney, unlike Alan, actually seemed to be enjoying herself. Indeed, China Town was
quite interesting as Thompson had said. There were so many different, weird, and
wonderful things. Down the road was a man doing a dragon dance. Now, it wasn’t
Chinese New Year, so this wasn’t an ordinary site. Laney figured that he was really just
crazy. He was chanting some words in Mandarin, which translated into: “Go away, go
away, now, now, now!”
Alan dragged his feet. His back slumped forward. “Let’s hurry this up,” he said. “I
really want to get home.”
“Stick close,” said Thompson. “We’re almost there.”
Laney clapped, and the three went around a man carrying a big, silver pot, and
through a pair of sliding doors which opened automatically. Cool air from the air
conditioning system fell onto their shoulders, which was a relief in contrast to the warm,
humid day. Alan breathed a sigh of relief and became less irritated.
Thompson led the way and took the two up the escalator. “This is my favorite place,”
he explained. “You can always find the weirdest things here. I’m friends with a man in
the west corner of this place. That’s where we’ll head first. After that, you can go off and
do what you like. I’ll give you more than enough money to shop.”
“Give us the money now,” Alan demanded.
Laney had the same thought, but didn’t want to be rude.
“Alright,” said Thompson. Then he slipped a few hundred dollars into Alan and
Laney’s hands. They looked at it and nearly fell back at the same time. It was the most
money they had ever seen, and it took practically no effort to get.
“This is too much,” said Laney. “We can’t take it.”
“If you don’t want it,” said Alan, “I’ll gladly…“ Laney interrupted him with another
one of her trademark punches to the arm. He said “ow” in his usual manner.
“Treat yourselves once in a while,” said Thompson. “You’re only young once!”
This sentiment went across well with Alan and Laney, especially Laney who no
longer felt the need (at least at this moment) to be modest. She was going to buy
everything she’d ever wanted.
The escalator ended. Thompson, Laney, and Alan got off. They headed straight left.
There wasn’t much walking ‘till they get to the “Dragon’s Emporium.” This was the shop
Thompson had been talking about less than a few seconds ago. The three went in. The
place was dark and messy, but it had a weird, Oriental charm to it. There were herbs and
spices, and trinkets, and unidentifiable gadgets.
Alan picked up a stretched lizard on a stick. “Ew,” he said after dropping it.
The shop owner, Mu-Chin, waved to Thompson. “Tom,” he said, “how nice to see
you! Are these your children? Oh, you dog. You said you didn’t want to get married, but
what’s this? You have two, and they look just like you.”
“These aren’t mine,” said Thompson with a bit of a snicker. “However, I am taking
care of them. Kids, introduce yourselves.”
Mu-Chin leaned over the counter and smiled at Alan and Laney. Alan and Laney,
though, were less enthusiastic. They gave quick smiles and said their names. Their shy
nature amused Mu-Chin. He stroked his white beard and tapped on his gold tooth.
“I do this for good reason,” he said. “A stroke on the beard and a tap on the tooth
make for good fortune.”
Thompson was amused by the old man’s quirks, but this was confusing to Alan and
Laney. Alan and Laney went around to the side of the shop, and pretended to look at
things so they wouldn’t have to chat with the adults anymore.
“This place is funky,” whispered Alan.
“In the good way or the bad way?” asked Laney.
“In the bad way,” said Alan. “It smells like, well, old people. You know that smell.
Vicks VapoRub and Metamucil. I feel like throwing up. Heh… I bet if I threw up nobody
would notice for days. Really, it’s that bad.”
Meanwhile, Thompson and Mu-Chin were having their own chat.
“I think I’ve found them,” said Thompson.
“Found who?” asked Mu-Chin.
“THEM,” repeated Thompson. “Don’t tell me you don’t know. We’ve been talking
about THEM for years—the ones who will cleanse the earth and stop the invasion.”
“Cleanse in a good way or a bad way?”
“The good way, of course.”
Mu-Chin took out a dusty, old book. After blowing off the dust, he opened it to the
middle and began to read. “Yes,” he said, “you’re right. I see it here. It is all foretold.” He
stopped. “Wait. This is Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone… Wrong book!” Then he
took out another and did the same thing. “Yes, yes. I see now. You may be right in your
instincts. There is strong indication that these two with you are the ones. Ah, but where
are the rest?”
“I don’t know,” said Thompson, “but they’ll be weak if we don’t find the others.
They work in tandem. They balance each other’s skills.”
“How many more,” asked Mu-Chin. “Jog my memory.”
“Just two. I think they’re located in this town.”
“Hm, but have you told the ones you’ve already found what you’re up to? What if
they don’t accept it? I think they’ll have a hard time believing.”
“No, I already know that they saw one…”
“Which one?”
“Puffy. He ate their uncle. It sucks for them, but to be honest I never really liked the
guy.”
“So, why’ve you come here? Come to pick up some supplies? I assume this much.
Or maybe you just wanted to vent today.”
“Sorry,” said Thompson. “I’m not social enough to do that. I have come for supplies.
Do you have the usual?”
Mu-Chin reached on a shelf and took a bag filled with who-knew-what, and placed it
onto the counter. Thompson handed him a wad of bills. It was a lot. Maybe a thousand
dollars. Whatever the bag contained, it was quite rare.
“Okay,” said Thompson, “I gotta go. Tell your wife I said ‘hello.’” He then called to
Alan and Laney. “ALRIGHT!” he said. “Let’s beat it. We have a lot of shopping to do!”
Alan and Laney excitedly ran.

Chapter 8

Thompson, Alan, and Laney returned home. They’d had a long day and were quite tired.
Laney was carrying two bags buy her side, filled with things she’d acquired from China
Town. Her brother, however, did not have much from their trip. All Alan had gotten for
himself was a packet of pencils and a new pen.
“It’s a shame you never bought anything,” said Laney.
“Gotta save for a rainy day,” explained Alan. “You never know when hard times will
hit.”
Laney choked for a moment. “You never know when hard times will hit,” was
something her mom always used to say.
“Well,” replied Laney, “we aren’t going to have hard times anymore.”
“Alright,” interrupted Thompson, “I have some matters to attend to. Will you kids be
okay on your own?”
“Yeah,” said Alan, “we should be fine.”
Laney nodded in agreement; so, Thompson went away, and disappeared into the
door at the far back of the house. Alan looked.
“Is that the basement?” he asked.
“I believe so,” said Laney. “Have you been in there yet?”
“Not yet,” said Alan. “I haven’t seen every area in this place…” He had a devilish
smile. “Should we do some exploring?”
The idea appealed to Laney, who was ever curious. She put down her bags. One of
them fell over, and poured out some clothes. “Alright,” she said. “First, I’d like to see the
attic. I’ve never been in an attic before. Remember how dad… Remember how dad used
to seal it up to keep the heat inside the house?”
“That cheap bastard,” said Alan. “He was always sealing up the whole house to keep
out the cold. I hated that frosted, plastic sheet he’d always put over my window. I
couldn’t even see outside.”
“Well, we don’t have to worry about him being cheap anymore,” said Laney. “He’s
off in the wild, blue yonder, somewhere in Canada. So I hear.”
“He’s not in Canada,” said Alan. “Didn’t mom tell you what actually happened?”
“No,” said Laney. “What actually happened?”
“Never mind,” said Alan.
“Tell me,” Laney insisted, now somewhat irritable. “What ACTUALLY happened?”
Alan was reluctant. Very reluctant. “Okay,” he said. “But don’t roll over and die
when you hear this…but dad was a secret agent working Afghanistan. He got kidnapped
by infidels and was murdered.” (This was a lie, but Alan didn’t want to upset his sister.
She had no idea that her dad really eloped.)
Laney pounded her fist into her hand, “Those bastards! Those terrorist bastards!”
“C’mon,” said Alan. “Let’s go and see the attic. I bet there’s all sorts of kooky crap
up there.”
Then he and Laney left the main foyer and went up the first set of stairs, which was
the staircase they’d been using since they arrived. At the end of the hall there was another
staircase that led into the third floor. It was a place they hadn’t been to yet, and it made
them curious. It was forbidden by their former Uncle Trevor… So, what was there?
Laney and Alan went to find out.
They got to the third floor.
And everything seemed normal…except for the glaring lack of doors. On this floor,
the third floor, there was only one door, dead center. Laney, though still somewhat
curious, dismissed it. She mostly wanted to see that attic. But Alan’s interest was piqued.
He wondered why there were no other doors. What sort of room takes up one whole
floor? One that needed to be explored!
So Alan turned the knob of the door. It was found to be locked.
“Damn thing,” he said. He kicked at it. Bang! Bang! And the noise traveled through
the entire house.
“Stop that!” said Laney. “You’re going to get us in trouble!”
“Fine,” said Alan. “Forget it. Let’s just go to the fourth floor.”
So, again, Laney and Alan went up another flight of stairs. The stairs, which were
quite creaky, wobbled ever so slightly. But they held up well enough for the two to get to
the fourth floor. The fourth floor, unlike the third floor, appeared quite normal. There was
a hallway and doors, not too many and not too little. Everything seemed fine.
“Well, this is boring,” said Alan. “I’d expect something to be off with this level as
well.”
Laney opened the first door to the left, the one that was closest to her. This room, the
first room on the fourth floor, was bare with nothing but empty boxes. The second room
had soiled mattresses piled. The third room had old furniture (chairs, tables, etc). And the
fourth room, and final room, had no floor. There was, however, a ladder which led into
third floor room (which was previously found to be locked off).
“Hey,” said Alan, “now we can get into the third floor room.”
“I’m not going down there,” Laney while staring into the dimness. “I want to go to
the attic.”
“Don’t you know what a detour is?” Alan. Laney folded her arms. “Okay,” he said.
“I’ll go in and you stay here.”
“No,” said Laney.
But Alan went ahead anyway. He climbed down the wood ladder and went below
into the room of the third floor. The room, which took up the entire floor, was very damp
and humid. His skin was sticking to his t-shirt.
“It’s too dark to see anything in here,” he said. He went into his back pocket and
took out a Zippo lighter. He spun the flint to make a spark, and set the wick on fire. There
was now enough light to navigate around. He began along the walls and slowly explored.
He stopped when he bumped his foot. “Ow,” he said.
He saw, under the light of his flame, a treasure chest/trunk.
Alan was going to open it, but spotted a lock.
“Now, how am I gonna get this off?” he said to himself.
He beat on the old, rusted lock, thinking it could come off. He kicked it and hit it
violently with his fists…but that only made him sore. “Damn it,” he said. He put his ear
against the trunk, and shook it to listen, trying to figure out what was inside. It sounded
like a mix of things: paper, metal, and even glass. “What could be inside? Oh, God. I’m
salivating. The curiosity is driving me mad.”
“Mad, eh?” said a voice.
Alan looked up. Sarah was standing over him. She reached down and, with only her
bare hands, ripped off the lock.
“Holy crap,” Alan said in astonishment. “You’re a beast!” Then he opened the trunk.
He moved the flame of his lighter close in, and he and Sarah began to look inside.
“What’re you doing here?” Alan asked her while peering in.
“I came to see what you guys were up to,” Sarah replied. “Oh, by the way. I was the
one that locked the door earlier. Sorry about that.”
“None taken,” said Alan.
The trunk was filled with a lot of junk. There was really nothing of importance.
There were empty bottles, bottle caps, and old newspapers…but buried underneath all
that junk was a key. The key was an antique, large, and silver—a skeleton key. Alan took
it into his hands and examined it with Sarah.
“What do you think it’s for?” Alan asked.
Sarah went into a trunk and picked up a conspicuous note which had message on it in
calligraphy. It read: “Remember, Sulley. The Key is for the Attik..” Who was Sulley? It
didn’t matter.
“I think the key is for the attic,” said Sarah.
“Really?” said Alan. “Man, that’s just what we need. C’mon. Follow me.”
He and Sarah went to the ladder and clambered to the fourth floor. They came out of
the room to see Laney who was surprised.
“Sarah!” she said, “I didn’t know you were here!”
Sarah grinned, “Yeah. Thought I’d drop by…”
Then no more words were said, and the three searched along the ceiling. Somewhere
on the side they found a white, square door with a hole for a key to be inserted. Alan had
the skeleton key in his hand from the treasure trunk, but his arms were too short to reach
the ceiling which was nine or more feet high. This wasn’t even something tall Sarah
could help out with.
“How’re we going to get into the attic?” said Alan.
Laney and Sarah put their heads together, in the literal sense, and whispered to one
another. “Okay!” one of them then exclaimed, then they turned back to Alan.
Sarah leaned against the wall and put linked her hands together. With that, Laney
jumped onto them and climbed onto her shoulders. “Toss me the key,” said Laney to
Alan while balancing. “I think I can reach.”
So, Alan did just that. He threw the key to his sister, and she reached up with her
arms. It almost looked as if she wasn’t going to make it, but the skeleton key went into
the attic door. When she turned it, a staircase immediately fell down. It fell with a
CRASH! Dust swirled about.
“Ladies first,” said Alan.
“Yeah,” said Laney while going up with Sarah, “because we’re braver!”
Sarah, Laney, and Alan were now all in the attic together. They stepped about
carefully since the floors felt rotted. At least that much could be told by the incessant
squeaking and cracking.
“Watch out,” said Alan. “We could fall through.”
“Watch out for yourself,” said Laney.
Then Sarah reached for a string touching her head and pulled it. A light bulb turned
on above which gave off a warm, orange glow. It was enough to reveal the surrounding
area. What laid around were books—hundreds and hundreds of books. This wasn’t very
exciting to Alan or Laney, but Sarah was smiling. She loved books. She loved visiting the
library and going to book shops. It was probably her favorite thing to do.
“Wow,” said Sarah. “Look at all these books.” She went to a stack to the center and
took a hardcover copy of Treasure Island. She leafed through pages with her thumb and
took in the smell. You know, that old, book smell: a combination of paper, glue and ink.
“This is great. You guys are really lucky!”
Alan and Laney joined by her side. They too took some books, although they seemed
less interested. Alan held a copy of Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland, and Laney held a
copy of Journey to the Center of the Earth.
“This is great,” said Sarah as she amused herself while inspecting all the books.
“You two have your very own library. Although it’s not quite so idyllic, you can always
get some chairs and place a desk in here.”
Alan yawned and stretched, but he clumsily knocked over the tower of books behind
him. They want tumbling and fell.
“Look what you’ve done,” said Laney.
“Relax,” said Alan. “I’ll pick ‘em up… Sarah, can you help me pick them up?”
Sarah obliged and helped collect the books into her arms. As she laid them neatly in
a pile, she caught glimpse of something interesting: a black scrapbook with gold lettering.
The lettering was in an unknown language. When she opened the scrapbook/album to
look she spotted, on the first page, photos of the very house she was in. The photos,
however, were quite dated though—they were in black and white, and the subjects
contained looked quite new. The trees and shrubbery will all little.
“Look at this,” said Sarah. Alan and Laney joined to see.
“Wow,” said Laney. “This album must be over 100 years old.”
“How do you figure?” Alan asked.
Laney pointed to a date on the photo. Alan felt like an idiot.
Together everyone slowly flipped through the scrapbook. There was an assortment
of items: pressed flowers, pictures of children (probably now dead), notes, and even art.
Some of the art—drawings—however, were quite incompressible. They were just
scribbles, foreign language, and silhouettes of who knew what. But one of these drawings
really stood out…and it made the trio jump. There was a sketch of Alan, Laney, Sarah,
and an unknown older boy, all standing around in a circle, holding hands.
“Whoa!” said Alan. “That’s us!”
“Nah, it couldn’t be,” said Laney. “The drawing’s real old…unless Uncle Trevor
drew us.”
“But I never met your uncle,” said Sarah. “And who’s the fourth person?” Sarah
pointed at the older boy who was wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses.
As Alan and Laney were about to answer their friend’s question, Thompson called
out for them, “KIDS! WHERE ARE YOU?! I NEED TO SPEAK TO YOU!”
“Oh, shit,” said Alan. “We shouldn’t be snooping around in here I bet. Let’s get a
move on.”
Sarah, Laney, and Alan evacuated the attic, leaving behind the scrapbook. They shut
the stairs before Thompson could see what they were up to. Thompson had his foot
tapping and his hands were on his waist, although in a somewhat friendly manner.
“I didn’t know we had visitors,” he said while looking at Sarah. “You know,
tomorrow’s a school day.”
“Yes,” said Laney while fluttering her eyes to make herself look pretty (and
therefore innocent). “We know that.”
“I hate school,” said Alan.
“You hate school because you’re learning about boring things,” said Thompson. “If
you were, on the other hand, learning about something fascinating—wouldn’t you want
to be in school forever?”
“I’m sorta fine with the way school is now,” said Sarah.
“Well, you’re a nerd,” said Laney. “You inclination for academics comes to you
naturally.”
“You get straight A’s too,” said Sarah. “Are you not a nerd?”
“I don’t do it because I like it,” said Laney. “I do it because I want to get into a good
university; I want to get into a good university because I want a good job. I want a good
job because, well, I don’t want to work at McDonald’s.”
“Okay,” said Thompson, “so shall I drop your friend—“
“Sarah,” said Sarah.
“Yes, Sarah,” continued Thompson. “Shall I drop your friend, Sarah, off to her
place? It’s nearly 9:00 PM.”
“Wait,” Alan interrupted. “It’s not a school day tomorrow. We have a long weekend,
remember?”
Thompson thought for a moment. “Why, yes,” he said. “I do believe you’re right.
Very well. I shall vanish off. If you children need anything, please, don’t hesitate to let
me know.” Then he ran down the stairs and left.
“So,” said Laney. “What shall we do?”
“I have a 10:00 PM curfew,” Sarah replied. “I have to get back home in an hour. But
I don’t really think my parents will noticed even if I’m half an hour late. They’re
probably out seeing a movie. Yeah. A Sunday night movie. It’s kind of a ritual.”
“I hate this house,” said Alan. “Sarah, why don’t we go over to your place? It’s not
too far on bicycle is it?” You did come on bicycle didn’t you?”
Sarah, Laney, and Allen went down every staircase ‘till they got to the main floor.
On the main floor they went past the basement door and headed out the back. In the yard
Sarah unlocked her pink bicycle which was somewhat too small for her.
Alan opened the shed and took out his and Laney’s bicycles. The bicycles were a
dull color, rusted red with seats that contained many holes.
“Are you sure that won’t fall apart on the road?” Sarah joked.
“You know,” said Laney, “maybe we should ask Thompson for new bikes. He is
pretty loaded.”
“Loaded?” repeated Sarah.
“Yeah,” said Alan. “Apparently he’s got a gazillion smackeroos in the bank… Still, I
don’t want to bother him. When dad was around, remember when we asked him for new
seats? He threw a bottle at my head.”
“I remember that,” said Laney, “but I think it was an accident.”
“I don’t think it was an accident,” said Alan. “Or maybe it was. I dunno. He wasn’t
like that all the time. He only got kinda crazy before he went off to V…er, Afghanistan.”
“Oh, hold on,” said Sarah. “Before we go to my place, I have something to show
you. I almost forgot. I pocketed this from the scrapbook before we vamoosed from the
attic.” She unfolded a piece of paper. It was an old note about the house. It said, in
quotes, Location of Buried Treasure. (Then there were some other comments that were in
decipherable handwriting.) It was a schematic of the backyard with a big X in red. The X
was in the middle like a bull’s eye, but slightly off center.
Alan was skeptical, but Laney was enthusiastic. She took the note and immediately
went to locate the spot that the X represented. Everyone followed. She took fifteen steps
ahead. Then five left. “Here it is,” she said. “X marks he spot. This is where the ‘buried
treasure’ should be. Oh, I don’t care about money. I’m just curious.”
“Hey,” said Alan, “don’t get your hopes up. I found a treasure chest without any
treasure. Just a damn old skeleton key which unlocked the attic with books.”
Sarah went into the shed and got the only two shovels. She kept one for herself and
gave the other to Laney; and, synchronously, the two began to dig furiously. Alan was
ho-hum and sat down on the grass, just his sister and her friend waste their energy. Well,
he thought they were wasting their energy; they didn’t.
Alan pestered, “There’s nothing there! This isn’t the bleeding Goonies, you know!”
He returned to the house—but it wasn’t to abandon anyone, just to turn on the backyard
lights. Right after, he was by Sarah and Laney who’d finished digging. They threw their
shovels aside and stepped aside to move their shadows. When the light bulb behind them
cast its light, it revealed something horrific.
“Ooh, a box,” said Laney, and she picked it up.
“What’s inside you think?” asked Sarah.
“Hopefully the cure to cancer,” Alan said in a snide tone. “We sure could use that.”
“Quiet,” said Laney. “Go make yourself useful. Get a hammer. This thing looks
hermetically sealed.”
So, not being one to refuse the smashing of objects, Alan went into the shed and
obtained a hammer. It was very old but in good condition. It had a wood handle and a
rectangular, metal head that tapered at the end into a triangle.
Laney put the box onto the floor. “Don’t break what’s inside,” she warned. “Only hit
it enough to open it.”
“I know, I know,” said Alan. “I’m not an idiot.” He held the hammer over his head
while Sarah took a step back. Then he swung it down. The corner of the box was hit, but
it didn’t break or even crack. Alan tried again. And again. And again. The box was made
of some sort of industrial material. It just would not come open.
Laney took the hammer away from Alan. “This needs a woman’s touch,” she said.
She wailed on the box. Smash! Smash! But she too could not break it. Sarah tried as well,
right after, and had the same results.
“Must be made out of adamantium,” said Alan. “Or steel… I’m leaning toward
steel.”
Sarah hopped on her bicycle and took the box. “Follow me,” she said. “My dad’s got
a ton o’ tools in his garage. We can use one of ‘em to split this thing open.”
“Man,” whined Alan, “it’s so late. Can’t we do it later? I wanna watch Lost. There’s
a new episode!”
“You wimp,” said Laney. “Okay, fine. You stay here.” Then she got on her bicycle.
“Sarah and I will go to work on this. Tell Thompson that I went to a slumber party.”
“I don’t wanna lie,” said Alan.
“But you lie all the time,” said Laney.
“Yeah,” Alan agreed, “but for selfish purposes… I’m very selective that way.”
Sarah and Laney took off on the bicycles without saying anything more. Alan went
back into the house. When he entered he bumped into Thompson. Thompson wiped off a
spot of grease from his face. “Where are the girls?” he asked.
“At a slumber party,” replied Alan.
“You’re lying,” said Thompson.
Alan nervously darted his eyes. “Well, errr, the thing is…” Then he suddenly yelled,
“ALRIGHT! YOU CAUGHT ME! YOU CAUGHT ME! IT WAS A LIE! I LIED! I’M
SORRY!”
Thompson wasn’t surprised. His cool demeanor maintained. “Oh, okay,” he said.
“Where are they then?”

At 56 Crescent Moon Street, Laney and Sarah were together in Sarah’s garage. They
were working furiously on the box, trying to get it open. And there was an assortment of
tools at their disposal but none of them were working.
“Augh!” Laney hissed. “This thing is impossible! What’s in here, anyway?!”
“I don’t know,” said Sarah. “Maybe it’s meant to be closed.”
Laney searched around. “There’s gotta be something in your garage that can work.”
She went into the corner and took the red toolbox. She put it on the table and opened it.
Inside was a blow torch.
“Careful now,” Sarah warned.
“What’s the worst that could happen?” Laney asked.
“You could burn down my house and kill my parents,” said Sarah.
“Oh,” said Laney.
Then she started up the blowtorch. A long, scorching flame came out. Sarah looked
anxious as Laney moved it over to the box. The fire touched the corner and started to
melt. Just then there was a bang on the garage door. It was Thompson’s voice.
“Open up,” he said, “you’ve no business opening that box!”
Sarah and Laney exchanged “What should we do?” looks. They decided that they
should listen. So, Sarah pressed the garage door button and let the garage door open.
There was Thompson along with Alan. They hastily went in.
Thompson took the box. “It’s intact,” he said to Alan. “We should be safe.”
“Safe?” said Laney.
“Yes,” said Thompson. “Safe. There’s something very dangerous inside this box. It’s
pretty damn well sealed, but it can be opened with fire.”
“Like the fire from a blow torch?” asked Laney. She turned off the blow torch in her
hand and set it down.
“Why, yes,” said Thompson, “like that from a…” He choked on his spit. “DON’T
TELL ME YOU’VE USED THAT! DID IT TOUCH THE BOX?!”
Laney wasn’t sure what she did wrong, but she knew she did something wrong.
Sarah answered for her. “Only briefly,” she said.
“Briefly is too long!” yelled Thompson in a cracking voice. “We have to get this
thing out of here!”
“I can do that,” said Alan.
“No!” said Thompson. “No!” He ran out the garage. But before he could even get to
the end of the driveway, the box burst open in his arms. (Think of a banana peeling in
super-fast motion.)
A skull with horns dropped out.
“What is that?” Alan asked.
Thompson had it in his hands as if a hot potato. His feet danced while he was
deciding what to do with it. “You guys,” he kept stammering, “you guys, you guys, you
guys—this is no good!”
“It’s just a skull with horns,” said Laney. “You need to calm down.”
“YES!” yelled Thompson. “I AM QUITE CALM! SEE HOW CALM I AM?!
CALM, BLUE OCEAN!”
The skull with horns fell to the ground. It became affixed and could not be removed.
Still, Thompson gave it a shot. His fingers were in the eye sockets, and he was pulling
with his entire body. While doing so (and exercising futility), the skull with horns started
gathering material from somewhere unknown; out of thin air, red cells gathered and
lumped around to form a face.
Thompson stumbled away. “Get into the garage,” he said. “Get into the garage!”
The skull with horns was no longer just a skull with horns but a fully fleshed man.
(Not a man exactly, but close enough.)
“Prometheo,” uttered Thompson.
Prometheo, red-skinned with horns and eyes ablaze, leapt toward Alan. Alan
screamed, but he was unharmed; for Prometheo could not get to him, for he was being
held by Thompson who’d cracked a whip around his neck.
“Get back,” Thompson said while using all his strength to hold the handle of his
whip. “This summabitch is strong!”
Prometheo spun his head around and shot fire at Thompson. Thompson ducked, but
while doing so accidentally let go of his whip. So free, the monstrous Prometheo headed
for Sarah and Laney. Alan, not being very level headed at this late hour, ran to Prometheo
and jumped onto his back. Sarah and Laney, though, did not stand idly by. They joined in
too. Sarah gave her best Karate kick, and Laney grabbed a wrench to smash the attack in
the face.
These efforts though, however noble, were not effective. Prometheo spun and
knocked them all to the concrete floor. He let out a roar and set his entire body aflame.
Thompson knew this was a critical moment, and he reacted accordingly. He ran away...
…And returned with a garden hose. At full blast he sprayed water onto Prometheo.
This put out Prometheo’s flames and weakened him.
“Return from where you came,” Thompson said in a righteous tone. Then he took
out a crucifix and shouted “To hell! To hell! Back to hell! By Christ I banish you!” The
crucifix from the top threw off lightning. Prometheo groaned in pain as if he had a
bellyache. Thompson lunged at him and plunged a dagger into his chest.
Fire shot out through the wound. Thompson stood and kept his distant, and watched
while Prometheo vaporized into nothing.
“Where’d he go?” Laney asked.
Thompson let out a sigh of relief. “To the abyss,” he said, “where hopefully he
stays…”
After all the chaos, Sarah’s neighbor came out of her house. She had on a robe and
bunny slippers. “Don’t you know what time it is?” she asked. “It’s…goddamn late is
what it is!”
Sarah tried to explain herself to Lynda.
“Lynda,” she began, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but we just saw a monster. It
had horns, and red skin, and pointy tongue! That was what was causing all the noise in
trouble. For that we apologize.”
Lynda grumbled some profanity and returned to her home.
“Well,” said Alan to Thompson, “now’s the part where you explain everything.”
Thompson returned his whip into his trench coat. “We mustn’t speak about it here,”
he said.

Chapter 9

It was Monday at five in the morning. The church was all empty, except for the spot in
the back where Thompson and the others were sitting, having their talk. Sarah, Laney,
and Alan were all drinking coffee. They weren’t really morning people. To them 11:00
AM was quite early.
Thompson kneeled on the pew and said a quick prayer; then he sat back down.
“Okay,” he said, “gather around. I will explain everything. It won’t be difficult to
comprehend, but it may be difficult to take in. Is everyone ears?”
“All ears,” Alan, Laney, and Sarah said together.
“The world as you know,” Thompson began, “is full of evil…but in it is also good.
And the forces of good and the forces of evil are always battling it out. Sometimes evil
wins, sometimes it loses. But in order to make it lose we, the good, must persevere. Most
of the time doing a small deed—like holding the door for someone—is fine enough to
make good win… But sometimes evil becomes so great that it is insurmountable with the
little gestures we do. In that case we must tackle the darkness with all our might.”
The sun began to rise. Its light filtered through the church’s stained glass windows.
“The earth is going through an epoch,” Thompson continued. “But this epoch is what
you kids call an ‘epoch fail.’ We’re going through a change. Our world is slowly being
overwhelmed by evil. Remember that ‘monster’ you saw? Well, it isn’t a monster,
because monsters don’t exist. That was a demon.”
“A demon?” Alan repeated.
“Yes,” replied Thompson. “And there will be more to come.”
“Shouldn’t we tell the police or something?” Laney asked
“The police don’t know how to deal with demons,” said Thompson. “And also, right
now, demons can only be seen by certain people.”
“What certain people?” Sarah asked.
“There’s me,” replied Thompson. “Those with stronger than usual religious
affiliations—the Pope as an example—and then kids, like you guys, and a lot of young
people for some reason. Why kids and young people? I don’t know, I guess they’re more
pure of heart.”
“Not that I really believe any of this,” said Alan, “but what does this all mean?”
“Hell on earth,” said Thompson, “must be stopped. The rise and appearance of these
demons indicates the coming end of man’s reign, and I’ll be damned if I let that
happen… But don’t worry too much. Most demons can be defeated. With faith and
goodwill they can be overcome. What I’m worried about is the One.”
“The One?” Alan repeated. “Who is the One?”
“The One is the one who is trying to bring about hell on earth,” Thompson
explained. “When there is enough evil in the world, when there is enough depravity and
destruction, the One will be strong enough to destroy us. The One will then appear—or
reappear as it is rumored. He may already be here.”
“But who is he?” Sarah asked.
“WHO IS HE?” Alan repeated. “Why does the One have to be a man? Is he a man?”
“No,” Thompson replied. “The One is neither man nor woman. The One, unlike
other demons, can take on forms. The One can shape shift into anything, literally
anything, even a packet of bubblegum. Now, I don’t know why the One would want to be
a packet of bubblegum, but the One could do it if he wanted.”
“So the One is a ‘he’ now?” said Alan.
“For sake of the simplicity,” said Thompson, “I will refer to the one as a ‘he.’ I hope
you don’t mind.”
“Not at all,” said Alan. “It’s just that—“
He was interrupted by the swing of the church doors at the far end. The priest/father
had awoken, and he was going through the place to check for visitors. Thompson stood
and went out to greet him. The two shook hands.
“Top of the morning to you,” said Father Felix in a thick, Irish accent. “I see you’ve
brought some people.” He waved and smiled. Laney, Sarah, and Alan returned the
gesture.
“Yes,” said Thompson. “I feel strongly about them.”
“So, they are aware of everything now?” asked Father Felix.
“Not quite yet,” replied Thompson.
“Hurry up,” warned Father Felix. “The other day when I was gardening, I saw
Puffy.”
“He’s still around, huh?” said Thompson. “Well, we should deal with him before he
causes more trouble. But not ‘till I get everything in order.”

Chapter 10

Tuesday came and school resumed. Laney, Sarah, and Laney were by a tree, huddled
together, talking as quietly as possible.
“Thompson is insane, isn’t he?” said Alan.
“Can you explain what we saw?” said Laney.
“I can’t,” said Alan. “Unless we were all tripping at the same time and saw the exact
same thing. But I haven’t tripped in a while.”
“Shhh,” said Sarah. Her eyes whipped left. “Someone’s coming.”
It was Gerald and Francis. They looked suspiciously at the group.
“Why’re you all looking at us like that?” Francis asked.
“No reason,” said Alan. “We’re discussing, uh, stuff.”
“Stuff?” Francis repeated. “What kinda stuff? If you don’t mind my asking.”
“None of your business stuff,” Alan muttered.
“What’s that?” said Gerald. “You hear that, brother? He gave you lip!”
Mrs. Vanderhorn came by. She looked in a rush and motioned to Sarah. “Sarah
dear,” she said, “I must speak to you. It’s urgent!”
Sarah went over to her. “What is it, Mrs. Vanderhorn?”
“I need your help.”
“What sort of help?”
“I need to stick streamers into the classroom ceiling, and I’m not tall enough.”
“That’s what’s urgent?”
“Um, the party is in ten minutes.”
“What’s it for?”
“It’s the Principal’s birthday and I’m sucking up. Problem with that?”
“Not at all, Mrs. Vanderhorn. I’ll come right along.”
Sarah and Mrs. Vanderhorn left. Now it was just Alan, Laney, Gerald, and Francis
(who had on a sinister grin).
“Isn’t this convenient,” said Francis. “Your big friend has left! So, Alan, would you
like to repeat yourself? What was that comment you said earlier? I’d like to hear it
again.”
All Alan could say was “uhhh…”
But Laney stepped in front of him and spoke on his behalf. She poked Francis in the
chest. “Stay away from my brother,” she said. “You touch him and there will be
consequences. You ever heard of a Hurts Donut?”
Alan whispered to Laney, “That’s not how the joke works!”
Gerald cackled, “Fail!”
Francis explained, “You’re supposed to ask me for a ‘Hurts Donut.’ Then when I say
‘yes’ you’re supposed to hit me and say ‘Hurts, don’t it.’ That is the proper procedure for
this childish prank.”
“Never been one to conform!” Laney yelled. Then she kneed Francis in the crotch.
He fell down with a whimper.
“Brother!” cried Gerald.
Laney grabbed Alan by the arm and the two ran for it. But it wasn’t long before
Francis recovered and he and Gerald were on their tails.
“Why’d you do that!?” Alan screamed while huffing. “You wanna get us killed!?
You know what they say ‘You mess with the bully and you get the goddamn horns!’”
“Have a spine!” said Laney as she ran as fast as she could. “You can’t let people
push you around!”
“Fine!” replied Alan. “I’ll begin with you when we get home—if we get home!”
To that Laney stuck out her tongue, and she and Alan continued on. Maybe they
continued on too much, because they ran off school property, and found themselves in a
cornfield. The corn in the field was tall, and it went over their heads. This, however, was
a good thing. The two lowered down and crawled along. They stopped when they heard
the voices of Francis and Gerald; they didn’t want to make noise.
“They’re in here!” Gerald said to Francis. “The scumbags went in here!”

“Where are they, boy?” said Francis.


Gerald tried seeing through the stalks of corn. “Dunno,” he said while squinting.
“It’s too thick. We’ll hafta go in. What say you?”
Francis, who fancied manhunts, cracked his knuckles and licked his lips. While this
was beyond his usual fare, he thought it would be an opportunity for him to grow as a
bully. Beating up small kids, stealing money, and calling people names was old hat. Now
he could challenge himself and test his expertise in psychological torture and reindeer
games. “Hand me my pellet gun,” he said with his hand out.
Gerald went inside his jacket and took out a carbon-dioxide (CO2) powered pellet
gun. He handed it to Francis who checked if it was filled with ammunition; it was. So, the
two went into the field ahead and vanished amidst the corn.
During this time, Alan and Laney had haphazardly crawled into another spot. They
were on the ground, sitting on their bottoms, leaning against a tree stump.
Alan was whispering, “What do you think they’ll do to us when they catch us?”
“Well, I’m a girl,” said Laney, “so they’ll probably go easy on me. But I’ll bet they
beat the crap out of you.”
“Thanks,” said Alan. “I really appreciate your concern.”
“You’re welcome,” said Laney.
The crunching footsteps of Francis and Gerald could be heard. They were getting
closer and closer. Alan and Laney slumped lower.
“Is that them?” Alan asked.
“Yes,” said Laney. “Keep your mouth shut.”
“Come out, come out wherever you are,” said Francis. He randomly fired his pellet
gun.
One of them hit Alan in the forehead. Laney covered his mouth before he could cry
in pain. “Shhh,” she said. “It’s not so bad…” Alan felt the damage. There was a big,
walnut-sized bump.
“Shit,” he said. “It’s like a tumor.”
“It is not a tumor,” said Laney. “Keep your voice down.”
“We’re going to find you guys!” Francis yelled. “May as well say your prayers
now!”
Gerald snickered, “Yeah! Say yah prayers!”
“They won’t find us as long as we keep quiet,” Laney whispered.
“Stop nagging me,” said Alan. “I’ll keep—AUGH! GROSS!” A bird had plopped on
his head. The stank white substance poured down to his eyebrow. He stood and took a
corn leaf to wipe it off.
Francis and Gerald spotted him. Francis pointed his pellet gun. Alan, in submission,
had his hands in the air. Laney stood up.
“If it helps,” she said, “I apologize.”
“Too damn late!” said Francis. “You’re going to pay…fifty bucks.”
“What?” said Alan. “I don’t have the kind of money.”
“Then you get your ass kicked,” said Francis with a step forward.
Gerald rubbed his fingers together, indicating money.
In actuality, Alan had plenty of cash on him, but he lied because he didn’t want to
give it up. Having grown up poor, and seeing what his mom went through as a single
mother, he just didn’t think he should have to pony up a fifty to some bully-twit. Though
now he decided to “come clean.”
“Okay,” he said, “I have the money.”
A smile came onto Francis’ face who thought he’d maybe only get a tenner.
($10.00.)
Then Alan continued. He glanced at Laney. “But you’re not going to get it. I’m not
going to give it to you. You deserved to be kneed by my sister and I shouldn’t have to
pay retribution. What’s mine is mine. You won’t get a penny outta me. Nope. Get a job if
you’re so broke… I hear Wal-Mart is hiring.”
Wal-Mart, coincidentally, was the place where Francis’ and Gerald’s dad worked.
So, this remark kind of annoyed them. They were both clenching their fists. Their pimply
faces turned beet-red.
Francis raised his arm to strike Alan, but when he swung down he felt something
grab him by the wrist. It was Thompson’s whip. Thompson stood stoic in the distance,
then drew himself forward. He let go of Francis who had now become terrified. Who is
this stranger, he thought to himself. Gerald hid behind his brother.
“It was hard to find you two,” said Thompson. “What are you guys doing off school
premises? Don’t you know it’s dangerous? A strange man could come by and kidnap
you… Well, I am a strange man, but fortunately I’m not here to kidnap anyone.”
“Are we in trouble?” Laney asked.
“No,” said Thompson. “I’m just here to tell you I’m transferring you to another
school. A better one.”
“Hogwarts?” joked Alan.
“Not exactly,” said Thompson. “But you will learn some interesting things. All
shadows of doubt will be removed.”
“Oh,” said Laney.
Then Thompson led her and Alan out of the cornfield.
Gerald and Francis stayed behind. “…Who was that?” Gerald asked. Both stood
dumbfounded.

Chapter 11

The next day had come and it was the bright, early morning. Alan, feeling confident,
leapt out of his bed. “Yes,” he said, “no more St. Kevin elementary!” He went to the
bathroom in his room and brushed his teeth. While checking himself out, he observed that
the mirror was foggy.
He took his hand and wiped away the fog…but the fog returned. And when it did
there was a realistic looking picture—a picture of Alan being impaled onto a spike.
Alan became startled and dropped the toothbrush from his mouth. He ran outside and
bumped into Laney who was still groggy.
“Laney!” Alan said. “I have to show you something!”
Before Laney could answer, Alan was dragging her along. He took her to his
bathroom and showed her the picture. Laney, though, felt quite ho-hum. She yawned at
the morbid depiction. “This is what’s got you freaked out?” she asked. “Of all the things
we’ve been through—this is the one to make you crack?”
Alan’s mood was changed, from fearful to annoyed. “You know, you could be more
supportive,” he said. “And for your information I have not cracked. This is just… I
dunno! It’s just extra creepy!”
“I guess you’ve just reached your tipping point,” said Laney. Then she calmly took a
towel and wiped the mirror. But the fog, like before, came back and with a picture. This
one, though, was far less morbid: It was just Laney standing in the bathroom, wiping the
mirror with Alan.
However, Laney was thoroughly freaked. She reeled back, nearly knocking over
Alan.
“Hey,” he said, “calm down.”
“No!” said Laney. “Something’s watching us!”
Alan looked at the mirror with its picture and went into agnostic, skeptic mode. “I
dunno,” he said. “This must be some sort of prank. After all, we’re not the only ones
here. Thompson might have some sort of sick sense of humor.”
Laney took hold of the mirror and ripped it off the wall.
Alan was surprised at her strength, but equally annoyed at it. “Whoa,” he said, “I
need that to groom myself!”
“We have to remove all the mirrors in the house,” said Laney.
So hurriedly, with Alan following along, she went to every mirror in the house and
took them down. At the last mirror she bumped into Thompson who was smoking a pipe.
He blew out some smoke then put it down. “Fancy meeting you here,” he said. “What are
you kids up to? Are you ready for school? We’ll be leaving soon.”
“We’ll be ready,” said Laney. “We’re just doing a few things before we go.”
“Tearing down my mirrors?” asked Thompson.
“How did you know?” said Laney. “Have you been seeing the fog pictures too!?”
“Fog pictures?” Thompson repeated. He gasped. “Christ! Not another one! This is
worse than I suspected.”
“Oh, is it?” said Alan.
“We have another demon on our hands,” Thompson explained. “Oh, never mind! Get
changed—we’re going to your new school today. All will be explained there.”
Alan and Laney returned to their rooms where they prepared themselves for the day
ahead.

Chapter 12

“We’ve been driving for a while now,” Alan complained. “I don’t mean to be cliché, but
—are we there yet?”
Laney was going through her backpack, looking at the new school supplies she’d
bought: markers, pens, pencils, etc.
Thompson had one hand on the wheel of his Cadillac. “If you watch a kettle,” he
said, “it takes longer to boil. And I drink a lot of tea, so I know about these things.”
Alan leaned against the arm rest on the door. He sighed and looked out the window
where dull scenery passed him by. He didn’t care much for car rides—long ones in
particular. To him it was like being trapped in cage with wheels.
But the boy’s dilemmas were soon over when Thompson slowed the car down and
said, “Okay! We’re here!”
“What?” said Alan in disbelief. “Are you serious?”
“Very serious,” replied Thompson with a smile. “Now, whatever you do, hold your
breath. And follow the lady in the shiny, orange vest. It’s easy to get lost.”
Alan and Laney each took in a deep breath, held it, and then ran outside. Thompson
drove off, and a lady in an orange vest gestured to the two and led the way for them—
through a landfill/garbage dump.
There was frantic gesturing between Laney and Alan. Alan was trying to tell Laney
that he was running out of air. He was doing his best to use sign language. But most of
what he knew of sign language was sticking up his middle finger and giving people the
thumbs-up for approval. Suffice it to say, it was very hard to understand indeed.
The lady in the orange vest went around a heap of Twilight novels and stood by the
porta-potty. After opening the door with a glove she waved for Laney to go in. Laney
glanced at Alan to see what he might be thinking. He was thinking of fresh air.
“You want me to go in there?” Laney asked.
The lady in the orange vest gave a stern nod. It was no joke.
“But,” said Laney, “I’m… I’m empty.”
The lady in the orange vest urged Laney to go; with clenched teeth she kept
motioning.
Now, Alan finally exhaled. His face nearly turned green when he caught the smell
around him in his nose. “Omigod,” he exclaimed, “just do it so we can get outta here,
Laney!”
Not willingly, feeling somewhat pressured, Laney went ahead into the porta-potty.
Surprisingly, she found it was quite clean. The door behind her shut (courtesy of her
brother). “Now what?” she said. She looked at a plaque beside the mirror.
The plaque, which was black with golden letters, read: “PUSH THE LEVER AND
YOU WILL LEAVE ‘ERE.”
The message seemed truthful, but Laney was still dubious.
“What’s taking so long?” Alan said from outside. “Do you need help? The lady in
the orange vest says you have to push the lever on the toilet. Can you find it? You should
be able to find it…”
“Yeah!” yelled Laney. “I know where the damn thing is!”
Then she took a paper towel and placed it atop the toilet handle (for sanitary
purposes), and pressed her fingers down. There was a loud beep. Beep! Beep! Then a
strong, rumbling sensation.
Laney became scared. “What’s going on?” she said. “I’m getting out of here!” Then
she pulled the door handle of the porta-potty and stepped out.
It wasn’t all too surprisingly, and you probably expected this, but she was in an
entirely different place—no longer in the landfill, but in a school. And it was big and
imposing and over the top. The main foyer, where she was, stood a gargantuan statue of a
Dragon fighting an Angel. Trippy stuff to say the least.
“Where am I?“ Laney whispered to herself. “Have I died and gone to—”
“Hello!” said a man in round glasses and a sweater vest. It was one of the teachers
who worked at this school: the Dragon School. “How are you doing? I’m Mr. Rainwater.
Today’s orientation day. I’ll be showing you around.” He looked left then right. “I’m just
waiting for the rest to arrive. You’re the first one here, actually. What’s your name?”
“Laney,” replied Laney. “I was named after my paternal grandmother.”
Mr. Rainwater’s belly jiggled as he smiled with approval.
“Laney!” Alan said. Alan waved to Laney. He looked at Mr. Rainwater. “Who’s
this?”
Mr. Rainwater introduced himself.
“Nice to meet you,” said Alan. “I’m Alan.”
“Are you two brother and sister?” asked Mr. Rainwater. “I see a resemblance.”
“Yes, sir,” said Alan. “We are. I try not to tell anyone.”
“Stop embarrassing me,” said Laney.
Mr. Rainwater laughed, “Children.”
Just then a huge group of kids appeared and they all gathered around. This excited
Mr. Rainwater, and he kept stroking his moustache. He liked kids. He liked them a lot. In
his mind, kids were always open minded and ready to learn.
“Great!” he said. “We can get started!”
Then he introduced himself and briefly explained what the Dragon School was. The
kids, the students, listened eagerly as he told them what they’d learn about: history,
English, geography, math, science, art…and magic. Yes, magic. Though it wasn’t the
kind everyone had in their minds. It was HOLY MAGIC, magic which was more dark
arts than wands and rabbits in hats. The magic they’d learn—to defend against the evils
of the world—would be strongly rooted in the days of yore when fallen angels, spirits,
and giants (Nephilim) roamed the earth.
Mr. Rainwater took the kids to the auditorium. The Halo auditorium was the key area
where their “special” education would take place. It was very large, of course, and had
seats for at least half a thousand people, if not more.
Mr. Rainwater was quite proud. “This is the Halo auditorium,” he explained with a
jolly face. “This will be your main classroom. This is where you will be lectured and
shown live demonstrations. The majority of your learning takes place here. Now it is
quite unusual, not like your usual schools probably, but it is quite effective at teaching
large amounts of children. There are other areas to see, which we will get to after, but
first I’d like everyone to have a seat so we can chat and answer all your curiosities.”
All the school children took seats. Alan and Laney sat together in the front row. Mr.
Rainwater went to the platform/stage and had a light shone upon him. He walked about
while talking. His voice was soft but booming. Not a person could miss what he was
saying.
“The Dragon School,” he began, reiterating and going into more detail on what he
covered early, “is a very special school… Now, not everyone gets in. This is one of only
two institutions that teach about the dark arts, occult matters, and holy magic. Know that
each of you were specially handpicked.”
“Hear that?” whispered Alan. “Specially handpicked!”
Laney rolled her eyes.
Mr. Rainwater continued. “So, why are you here then? That’s the million dollar
question. Why are you here in this strange, strange place? Well, the first goal is to get you
all a good, normal education. The second goal is to fight and stop demons.”
Everyone gasped at once. Few thought they’d actually fight demons. Most thought
they were just learning to defend themselves. At least that’s what was implied.
“Fight demons?” a sheepish voice said.
“Yes,” said Mr. Rainwater. “Fight demons. You’ve seen them, these vile fiends.
They are threat to humanity that must be stopped. Yes, they can kill people, and that’s
what you’ve probably seen—but far worse than that is their sinister influence and their
ability to literally possess others. You’ve all the heard the term ‘inner demons’? Well, for
many that is no metaphor.”
Mr. Rainwater cleared his throat and took a sip of water in a glass that sat on a
nearby stool. “I know you’re all scared, but now is not the time to run away. If the
demons are allowed to run rampant, their influence will spread. Could you imagine if the
president or prime minister of a country were under its influence—or worse, possessed?
The outcome would be inconceivable. The war. The destruction. Evil would spread more
than before…and that energy would strengthen the One.”
Mr. Rainwater got nervous just talking about the One. “The One, as you may know,
is trying to bring about hell on earth. The One wishes to bring us to our knees and enslave
mankind.”
A hand in the back shot up. Mr. Rainwater pointed, “Yes.”
“Could you tell us about the Fantastic Four?”
“Uh, for legal purposes we now just call them the Four.”
“Oh…”
“The Four,” said Mr. Rainwater, “for those who don’t know, are four children who
will allegedly stop Armageddon. I don’t know if I believe it. But if it’s real, the chances
are very high that they are here. Or at the second Dragon School.”
Alan raised his hand against Laney’s advisement.
Again, Mr. Rainwater pointed, “Yes, you?”
“Ahem,” said Alan. “Why is this school located in a dump? And what’s with all the
secrecy? Also, I thought the church is against magic.”
“So many questions,” smirked Mr. Rainwater. “I’ll answer them all as best as I
can… First, we are in a landfill, because we do not want to be discovered. We do not
want to be discovered, because we do not want any demons to find us. Second, yes. The
church is against magic, my boy—but not holy or hallowed magic, which is what do. We
say ‘magic’ for short sometimes, but we’re really referring to holy magic. Holy magic
isn’t regular magic. It comes from a divine source. And it’s only for the specially
chosen… everyone here today, and those who can see demons and have the desire to
fight evil.”
The auditorium presentation ended. Everyone was led out, and shown the other areas
of the Dragon School: the library, the cafeteria, the gymnasium, more classrooms, and
other similarly mundane places. All this ended in an anticlimactic fashion where a
regular, old, yellow school bus took them home.

Chapter 13

The door flew up. Alan and Laney were greeted by Thompson who had on a grin. “What
did you learn today?” he asked.
“What did we learn?” said Alan. “It’s been a week in that damn Dragon School and
we haven’t done anything. Everything is reading, reading, reading—it’s not like Harry
Potter at all! I wanna fly on a broomstick and smack a demon in the face!”
“I think it’s okay,” said Laney as she took off her backpack and coat. “It’s better than
St. Kevin Elementary. We haven’t run into any idiots so far… Knock on wood, knock on
wood.”
“Well,” said Thompson, “maybe it’ll pick up in pace later on.” He had a piece of
paper held in his hand. “Oh, your friend Sarah called. I took down her message. She said
to meet her ‘at the Tutu Pond.’”
“Thanks,” said Laney. “I’ll go there, right after I have a bath.”
“Same,” said Alan.
“Wait,” said Thompson, “what about your homework? I don’t mean to be a pain in
the rear, but you have to finish it before you leave.”
“No homework,” said Laney. “I finished it up during lunch break.”
“Me too,” Alan added.
Thompson looked at Laney. “Yeah,” she said, “he’s lying.”
“Traitor!” Alan exclaimed.
“Knowledge is power,” said Thompson. “Now, get going.”
Alan kicked off his shoes and marched to his room.

Chapter 14

While Alan was trying to finish his homework, writing an essay on theology, Laney was
riding her bicycle along an unusually quiet road. It was an area she’d spotted on her
school bus trips, and it led almost directly to Tutu pond.
Laney, in spite of having somewhat of a stressful week, was in quite a good mood
this day. Demons were the last thing on her mind and she sang while pedaling, “Hey,
hey! You, you! I don’t like your girlfriend! No way, no way! I think you need a new
one!” She swerved from side to side, going around debris. (Yes, there was a lot of debris,
for the road she traveled was seldom used—and therefore not well maintained.) When
she was about to come to a turn, she stopped when she spotted something in the corner of
her eye…
…A boy playing with a soccer ball (or football for your Brits). He was doing keep-
ups, bouncing the ball off his knee, repeatedly, trying to keep it from falling. And he was
doing a pretty good job too, what with a minute as his all time record.
As wind blew back Laney’s hair, she stared at the boy and fluttered her eyes. Really
she wanted to say something, but was too nervous, and that was all she could do for the
time being.
The boy, much to her annoyance, was obstinate in what he was doing and did not
notice her. So, finally, Laney loudly cleared her throat. AHEM! He took a look.
“My name’s Laney,” said Laney. “What’s yours?”
The boy went back to doing his keep-ups. Laney rode his bike over to him and tried
to look cool by leaning slightly with one foot on the ground. “What’re you doing?” she
said. “Soccer? I love soccer. It’s my favorite sport.”
“Well, it’s not my favorite sport,” said the boy in a monotonous tone. “I’m just
trying to win a bet against my friend. I prefer hockey.”
“Yes, hockey!” exclaimed Laney. “Wonderful sport! Very rough and tumble. My
sort of thing if you ask me. Yeah, I’m not like most girls. I’m very down to earth and
boyish—but in a good way. Don’t you think?”
The soccer ball dropped. The boy took up the ball in his arms and started walking
away from Laney. Laney, however, was oblivious to his desired solitude and followed
him around. She stared at the back of his head, his dark, long-for-a-boy hair. “I’m going
to Tutu pond,” she said. “You wanna come with? Sarah and I are going to catch fish.
They have fish, you know, a lot of fish. All kinds. But they’re not for eating.”
“You talk a lot,” said the boy. “Do all girls talk this much?”
Laney persisted. “So! What’s your name?”
The boy gave no response other than a sigh.
“I like you,” said Laney. “I don’t like many people—but you’re pretty cute.”
The boy, although somewhat cold in nature, was like most males and could not
refuse a compliment. Being called cute made him blush. His cheeks turned rouge.
“I’m Adam,” he said. “What about you?”
Laney had already told him her name, but she repeated herself anyway. “Laney,” she
said. She said it again to be clear. “Laney.”
“Nice name,” said Adam.
“Thank you,” said Laney.
“So, you say you’re headed to Tutu pond?”
“Yup. Gonna meet my friend Sarah.”
“How far’s Tutu pond? I heard of it, but I never been there before. I’m new to
Rexville, actually.”
“Are you? Well, welcome to the neighborhood in that case!”
“Maybe you can show me around?”
“Yeah… Yeah, yeah! That’s a great idea. You can come with me to Tutu Pond.”
“Is it far?”
“Not too far. I think a few minutes on bicycle. Do you have a bicycle?”
“Tires are flat.”
“I can give you a ride on my bicycle. You can sit on the front while I pedal. How
good are you at balancing?”
“I have a better idea. Why don’t I pedal and you sit on the front, hmm?”
“Okay!”
So, Laney let Adam take her seat, and she went to the front where she balanced her
bottom on the handlebars.
“Ready?” said Adam. Then he started pedaling the bicycle. The two didn’t go very
fast, but the speed was steady, and the flat road proved easy to travel.
“So,” said Laney. “How long have y—“ But before she could complete her sentence,
she fell and tumbled along the asphalt. Adam had made an abrupt turn.
“Oops,” he said. “I kinda zone out for a second there.”
Laney got to her feet and dusted herself off.
“Maybe we should walk,” she suggested.
Adam agreed, and he and Laney walked to Tutu Pond instead. It took longer than
anticipated since they bantered all along the way. They talked about an assortment of
subjects, everything except for demons. Laney’s teacher, Mr. Rainwater, warned her to
not tell anyone—not even her closest friends.
Sarah was sitting on a log near the shore of Tutu Pond. Her face was rested, sunk in
her hands. Laney called out to her, “Sarah! We’re here!”
Sarah got up and immediately folded her arms. “Who is this?” she asked. “You were
only supposed to bring you—and maybe Alan if you wanted.”
“I just met Adam,” said Laney. “I didn’t have time to ask if it was okay. Well, should
I have to?”
“Never mind,” said Sarah. “I guess there’s enough room.”
“Enough room for what?” asked Adam.
Sarah walked in front of Laney and Adam. She took them to a secluded area on the
edge of the water. No one was there except the three. Adam wondered what was going
on, especially when Sarah had left for the woods. Laney appeared anxious, but after
several minutes her friend returned. She was grunting and had a rope in her hand. There
was a sound of dragging.
Then out from the shadows, along with Sarah, a rowboat appeared. “Tada!” said
Sarah. “What do you think?” She was all smiles.
Laney giggled while Adam didn’t see what the big deal was. “Omigod,” said Laney.
“This is fantastic. How did you… You didn’t make it, did you?”
Sarah had a proud look on her face. “Yep,” she said. “Actually, I did. I read one of
my dad’s books on woodworking, and I got some scrap wood, and put it together. I’ve
already tested, if you must know, and it floats like a bar of soap—except it doesn’t melt.
Well, as far as I know.”
Laney and Adam looked at each other and then, without warning, clambered into the
boat.
“Wait a minute,” said Sarah, “I—“
“Can you push us into the water?” Laney asked. She took the oars resting on the
boat’s floor and placed them into the oar locks (the metal rings on the side).
Sarah stared at Laney and Adam. There was a hint of annoyance in her face, but she
chose not to show it anymore than that. “Okay,” she said in a relenting tone. She spit into
her hands and rubbed them together, then she placed her hands on the back of the boat
and pushed with a heavy grunt. HURRRGH!
The (row)boat went into the water with a splash. Sarah got soaked, but Laney and
Adam—who only got sprinkled—were giggling.
“Argh,” said Adam in a piratey voice, “who be manning this ship?”
“I’ll row,” said Laney. “Argh!”
Then she took position by the oars and rowed to the middle of the pond. The ducks
there, who were used to getting bread from humans, gathered around. They quacked and
quacked.
“How cute,” said Laney.
“Nah,” said Adam. “I don’t really like animals.”
Laney suddenly changed her mind. “Oh! Uh! Me too! I, I, I was just joking about the
‘cute’ thing. Yeah. I don’t like animals either. So annoying. It’s like, hey, I’m walking
here!”
By the shore Sarah was squinting her eyes, trying to decipher though lips what Adam
and Laney were saying… Unfortunately, she could not read lips.
Adam took pebbles lying in the boat and threw them at the ducks.
Laney fluttered her eyes, “Oh, Adam, you’re so terrible. He-he-he!”
“Thanks,” said Adam. Then he threw more pebbles until the ducks went away.
“What school do you go to?” Laney asked.
“The same school everyone else goes to,” Adam replied, “St. Kevin Elementary.
Why, do you not go there?”
“No,” said Laney.
“Where do you go then?” asked Adam.
Laney remembered what Mr. Rainwater had told her. It was strictly forbidden to tell
anyone about Dragon School. If a demon found out…it could be ruinous.
“Nowhere,” said Laney. “Emmm, I’m home schooled. It’s quite convenient! I don’t
have to get up early in the morning!”
“Sounds like a party,” Adam said in a dull voice. “Do you get to have recess?”
Laney replied slowly, since she was thinking. “Er, no,” she replied. “Just a lunch
break, but it’s nearly an hour.”
Adam yawned and put his feet up on the edge of the boat. He leaned back. The sun
was going down, which seemed to make him just a bit sleepy. “Oh,” he said,
remembering something, “I’m having a birthday party soon. Do yah wanna come? Maybe
you can bring some people.”
“Sarah?” Laney asked.
“She’s pretty big,” Adam joked, “think she can fit?”
A hearty laugh came from them both. But while they were enjoying themselves,
Sarah was getting ready to leave. Her jacket was zipped up and she was on the path that
led away from the pond. She had her arms folded, held tightly against her body. The day
did not go as planned.

Chapter 15
Thompson was out on his own; he was dressed in his usual garb, a black trench coat, and
black everything else. He was walking to the hospital. His beloved Cadillac was on
hiatus, visiting an auto-mechanic in the town which neighbored Rexville.
Thompson whistled while on the sidewalk. There was a cane held in his right hand.
Strange since there was nothing wrong with his legs. “The hospital is always such a
dreary place,” he muttered. “Why can’t it be like a veterinarian place? Just put the dogs
down.”
A blaring ambulance drove past Thompson. It brushed against the loose fabric on his
shoulder. He paid no mind and kept on his way ‘till he was at the entrance of white
washed hospital. The entrance for visitors welcomed him with a smiley face that said
“welcome.” He went through the sliding doors. There were a lot of sad faces around, and
some laughing children who were oblivious to the gravity of where they were.
“Quiet down,” a mother said to her son who was in tow. “This isn’t a playground.
And if it were—I still wouldn’t tolerate this behaviour!”
As the smell of dry urine and Bengay drifted into Thompson’s nose, he turned a
corner and went into the stairwell. The stairwell, which was seldom used, was wide
enough for only one (skinny) person. So, Thompson’s trench coat scraped against the
walls as he went up.
After less than half a minute of walking, he found himself on the fourth floor. (It was
officially called “Floor D,” but he knew better.) Here he went through the twisted halls,
going past anxious employees of the hospital. Soon he ended up in the east wing and got
to room D01. The blue door was closed. Thompson knocked.
“I’m coming in,” he said, “to do what needs to be done.”
There was no answer, so he let himself inside. There were two beds before him. The
nearest one, the soiled one, was empty; so, he went to the end of the room. Then he stood
in front of the curtain and saw the silhouette of a man. He took his cane and pulled at the
head which was shaped like a cross. A sword was revealed.
Thompson pulled away the curtain.
Alan and Laney’s uncle, Uncle Trevor, was lying down. He was hooked up to a
Cardiac monitor but had no pulse—and no breath. This was highly worrisome.
“I’m surprised you’re intact,” said Thompson. “But you won’t be for long.”
Thompson held tight his blade and placed it onto Trevor’s chest, right over the heart.
As he was about to plunge it in, a nurse came into the room. She looked frozen. “Ah,
what’s goin’ on?!” she exclaimed.
Thompson looked up and faced her. “I am doing something important,” he explained
in calm, cool manner. “It requires a bit of concentration. If you would leave, I would be
ever so grateful.”
The nurse then ran outside the room.
“Why, thank you,” said Thompson, somewhat surprised. “For a moment there I
thought—” He stopped mid-sentence when he felt a hot breath blowing on the back of his
neck. He carefully turned around.
Trevor was no longer lying in bed.
He was no longer dead.
He was UNDEAD.
“Ah, you’ve been taken by Necro the demon,” said Thompson. “Well…” Then he
reacted with a swing of his blade.
Trevor, however, now an undead (possessed) super creature, was far too quick. He
dodged the attack and retaliated; Thompson was taken by the skull and thrown out the
window. Fortunately, Thompson had deployed his whip in time and wrapped it around
the bed post in the hospital room, which kept him from falling. He clambered back inside,
but Trevor had left into the hallway. Hastily, Thompson chased after him.
Hospital workers screamed as they were bit on the neck and sucked for their blood.
“Cease and desist,” said Thompson. “Biting people is against the law!” Trevor ignored
him and went from person to person, infecting them, and passing his demonic virus. Now
there were at least a dozen of these undead creatures.
They were all lurching toward Thompson who now was armed with a dagger. He
took a wide stance and held it facing down, ready to stab. This, though, was a ruse.
Instead, he ran around kicking doors open and pulling up the blinds to let in the light. The
light came in as thick beams which surrounded the blood-craving undead.
Thompson scolded Trevor, “Look what you’ve done to these people!”
Trevor picked at his fangs and dripped blood from his mouth in an inadvertently
mocking manner. Then he turned around, hearing the sound of more people, hospital
workers, approaching. He was entrapped between two light beams.
“Don’t do it,” Thompson muttered. “Don’t do it…!”
But Trevor jumped through the light beam. His backside became scorched, but now
he had access to fresh blood. Thompson hurried and ran ahead. It wasn’t too easy, since
there were the undead hospital workers were clawing at him. He threw his elbows and
fists, putting them into the light to turn them to fire, and then to dust.
Trevor blocked off the hospital workers who’d just come up from the lower floors;
they did not know what to do, partly because they were in disbelief. One had the clever
comment of “What is this? Halloween?”
…Trevor bit his head off. Everyone went hysterical. The nurses, doctors, and medics
ran for the elevator. The elevator, though, had suddenly become un-operational.
“Stay in the sunlight!” Thompson shouted. “He’s afraid of the sun!”
The hospital staff, or what remained of them, quickly scurried to the window and hid
in the square of light. Luckily for them the window was in the direct view of the sun, and
the intensity of the light was powerful enough to make Trevor hesitant. Trevor put out his
hand to touch then, but completely burnt of the tip off his fingers. He shrieked in pain.
Thompson had out his cross (crucifix). “Come on now,” he said, “wouldn’t you
rather have me?” Trevor turned around, and the two squared off. They circled each other,
staring in each other’s eyes.
This gave Thompson time to notice that the cross in his hand was having no effect,
and to him this was strange—maybe the demon Necro’s possession of Trevor was far too
powerful. Maybe they’d become one.
But Thompson ignored it and threw a barrage of knives anyway. They went swish
through the air, though not all of them hit; only some got lodged into Trevor’s veiny,
pulsing chest. And from this undead monster’s chest, black blood shot out. It sprayed
everywhere, going onto the ceiling, the walls, and floor.
(It occurred to Thompson that this was a mistake. For you see, the demon virus was
contained within the blood—and with all that blood all over the place, there was a high
chance of the infection spreading. Not that he thought being turned into an
uncontrollable, blood-lusting ghoul was all that bad, but this would have consequences on
society’s confidence. A loss in confidence, of course, would mean a loss in a faith. And a
loss in faith is a loss in protection from the evils the lie beyond. Mass hysteria is
something that the One would certainly like.)
“Jesus Christ,” said Thompson. Then Trevor spun his head around and spewed more
blood. (Like a sprinkler.) Thompson guarded himself by pulling the loose of his jacket
over his face. Then quickly right after, when the spraying was done, he made an attack
with his whip.
The whip wrapped around Trevor’s neck. Thompson tried pulling him in but found
some difficulty. And to make matters worse, the sun which shone into the hospital was
diminished by a sudden deluge of clouds. The protective square of light around the
hospital workers was no longer. They, however, were not aware of the extreme danger
that this posed. While they cowered, hugging their knees, Trevor broke free and struck at
them with his claw-like hands. He ripped off all their limbs and drank the blood from
their necks. It all went by so fast.
Thompson was horrified, but kept his guard. He’d misestimated Trevor’s strength.
“Keep back,” he said while whipping his whip in the same manner a lion tamer would do
to a lion. “I’ll tear yah a new one!”
The hallway suddenly flashed blue. Then there was the sound of thunder. Trevor
looked out, and saw rain pouring down. Now outside was very dark, almost like night.
Thompson realized what this meant, and he tried to block the quickest exit. Alas, he was
too late.
Trevor went crashing through the nearest window, and ran into the shade of a
wooded area. Thompson was about to follow when was interrupted by a scream.
AGGGH! There were more undead roaming about, and they were attacking patients and
other innocents who walked into this chaotic scene.
“Damn it all,” said Thompson, and then he ran to help.

After what seemed about two hours or so, Thompson had triumphantly vanquished all the
undead inside the hospital. It was exhausting, and he was soaked from head to toe in
blood and muck, but his efforts were justified. Allowing the undead to roam, to spill into
the town, would cause massive pandemonium and destruction.
“Finally,” said Thompson as he walked outside. He dropped his now shredded trench
coat on the ground. “I just have to find Trevor.”

Chapter 16

While Ms. Someen rambled on in the Halo Auditorium, talking about evil and so forth,
Alan was poking Laney who was busy taking notes. “Laney!” he whispered. “Laney!”
“What!” Laney whispered back angrily.
“Look,” said Alan. He pointed. “Is that—?”
Sarah waved. She was seated to the extreme left by some disinterested looking kids.
Laney squinted, “I think it is… I THINK IT IS!”
“Think what is?” asked Ms. Someen.
Everyone around Laney looked at her. She lowered in her seat. “Uh, I’ve forgot
now,” she said. “Terribly sorry…!”
Ms. Someen turned up her nose and went back to her lecture. She walked back and
forth in a stiffly manner, accompanied by slides in the background. There was a black
and white picture of an old man dining in front of people impaled on spikes.
Alan teased Laney. “Use your indoor voice!”
Laney glared and elbowed him in the shoulder. It hurt like heck, but he did a good
job of keeping quiet. It was kinda easy with Ms. Someen. Ms. Someen was a super strict
teacher and punished kids in such a whimsical fashion. Once she gave a kid detention for
sneezing too loudly!
Sarah quietly switched seats so she could get closer to Laney and Alan. While they
weren’t close enough to talk to each other (without getting caught), they could now see
one another in plain view.
Laney mouthed silently to Sarah, “Let’s talk at lunch.”
Sarah mouthed back, “The cafeteria is huge! Front or back?”
“Back!”
“Okay!”
Alan was confused; he couldn’t understand lips (or women). The kid next to him was
trying to interpret/decipher. “I think those two are going to meet with each other in
secret,” he whispered. “…And one of them is going to try and punch Adolf Hitler in the
face. I don’t get it.”
Alan rolled his eyes and leaned away.

Lunchtime arrived, and all the Dragon School students amassed into the enormous
cafeteria. It was a regular ol’ cafeteria—size aside—in most degrees, but the food being
served was something else. There was an assortment of exotic items, both locally and
from all over the world: dragon fruit (of course), durian, squid, eel, fried ice cream,
curried fish, red bean soup, sushi, cactus juice, century eggs, and even Balut!
(Balut is boiled, fertilized duck egg. You crack open the top, pour in salt, and scoop
out the softened bird fetus with a spoon.)
Alan was with Laney in line to get food. They peered through the glass of the sneeze
guards, thinking what to select. Though they’d been at the school for a while now, this
was the first time they were being served food. The kitchen, earlier, was condemned for
being infested with mice.
“What are you going to get?” Alan asked.
Laney felt a little sick. “Is there anything here,” she said, “that doesn’t look like it’s
still alive?”
“Uh, no,” said Alan, “now pick something to eat.”
The ladies who served the food looked up with smiles. “What’ll it be?” said the one
with deep, brown hair. “How about some Balut?”
Alan and Laney were not aware of what Balut was.
“Hm, that looks okay,” Laney thought aloud. “A boiled egg. Okay. I’ll take that.”
The lady with brown hair put a Balut into Laney’s tray. After, Alan agreed to have
the same; then the two moved down the line and picked up some other things which they
thought weren’t all too yucky. They carried their meals and headed to the far end of the
cafeteria, by the toilets, where less kids were.
Alan and Laney sat in the middle of the blue, rectangular table. They put their trays
in front of them, almost in perfect synchronization. “I’m famished,” Alan said. “But what
shall I eat first?” He looked at the food in front of him. There was the Balut, a carton of
banana-flavored milk, a Fuji apple, and a hot-cross bun. “Hm, I need protein,” he said,
continuing to think aloud. “I think I’ll have the egg first.”
So, Alan took his spoon and whacked the top of the Balut. When the eggshell
cracked, he peeled it off, and after put in his spoon.
“Do you see Sarah?” Laney asked while biting her sandwich.
Alan glanced. “Nope.” Then he went back to his egg—and saw the boiled duck fetus
contained within. He nearly choked, but maintained his cool rather than barking. He
thought it would be funny to see his sister’s reaction.
“There she is!” said Laney.
Sarah, who was nearly 6 feet tall, easily stood out from the crowd. She went through
the crowd of kids and headed to the back. “Laney!” she said. “Alan!” She took a seat
beside Laney and Alan. “This place is really cool, huh!”
Alan was quite indifferent. “It’s okay, I guess.” He then nudged Laney. “Hey, you
haven’t eaten your boiled egg yet!”
“In a minute,” Laney said, dismissively. She turned her chair so she could face
Sarah. “Man, I can’t believe I didn’t notice you earlier! Why didn’t you tell me?!”
“Would’ve done that,” said Sarah. “But you know how secretive this place is… I
think one of the teachers followed me around to make sure I didn’t say anything… Did
you bump into that weird, creepy guy, too?”
Laney looked at Alan.
“No,” said Sarah. “Another weird, creepy guy. He had a really big nose. Like I mean
HUUUGE.”
Laney again looked at Alan.
“Stop looking at me!” said Alan.
“Sorry,” said Laney to Sarah. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. Maybe you
saw Adrien Brody.”
“I should’ve taken a picture,” said Sarah. “Oh, well… So, Alan, how’ve you been
holding up?”
“My science teacher’s been giving everyone a hard time,” said Alan. “He told us
holy magic and divination is stupid—and I guess I believe him. I mean after fighting
demons, and staving off evil and so forth, it’s back to the real world, really. All this
mystical brouhaha has my head swimming. I’m here, and see it, but I don’t fully believe
it. I really thought the man in the sky would have everything under control by now. But
hey, maybe our ideologies are all wrong.”
“That’s some heavy thoughts there,” said Sarah. “You know, it would’ve been nice if
we were all the same age. We only get to talk during lunch and in the auditorium.”
“If Laney wanted to,” said Alan, “I guess she could skip a grade.”
“I’d rather not be in all the same classes with you,” said Laney.
“…Ah,” said Sarah, “sibling rivalry.” Sarah, being an only child, mused while
imagining what it would be like to have a brother or a sister—or even a close cousin.
Just then the cafeteria turned extra noisy. A cocky kid, with a gang of students
following behind, spread out his arms and stood on the table in front of him. “Who’s the
King?” he asked. “Who is the King?” He took a comb and brushed back his short brown
hair. His blue eyes stared at everyone. He held up what appeared to be a jar. Inside was
what appeared to be Puffy the demon…but a miniaturized (and compressed) version.
Everyone gasped; never before had a demon been caught by a student. This was history
in the making.
“Who’s the king?” John repeated.
Then all at once everyone clapped. He passed around the jar, an antique-y affair with
Hebrew scripture on the lid, and let everyone have a look. The students chattered
furiously. Some were jealous and acted like it was no big deal, while others had their eyes
bulging out their sockets. The girls, though, were unanimously impressed.
This was evident when a harem gathered around a John and queried him to as how
he did it. “How’d you do it?” they asked. “Can we touch you?”
“Ladies, ladies,” John said. “YES! But to answer your question: it was no easy feat!
Yes, I had to fight off many ghouls and slimy creatures. I nearly lost a limb while
swashbuckling on the high seas!”
“What spell did you use?” a girl asked.
“I did an ol’ entrapment spell,” John explained, “but I also used a bit of science. Yes.
I subdued Puffy with a dose of C02. For you lay people that means I used carbon dioxide,
a la fire extinguisher.”
“How clever,” the same girl who asked the question said. “You’re sooo smart.”
Meanwhile, Alan was gagging (figuratively). “Can you believe this?” he said. “It’s
like he’s a rock star or something. Well, only the bimbos seem to be attracted to—“
Laney and Sarah were off with the other girls standing around John. John took a look
at Sarah. “Why, hellooo, there,” he said. He took her by the hand, making everyone else
jealous. “Aren’t you tall and pretty!”
Sarah blushed. Her face turned a creamy red.
Alan became enraged—he normally didn’t act this way, but this for some reason this
really got his “goat.” He stood on his chair and cupped his hands around his mouth,
making an impromptu megaphone of sorts. “BOO!” he shouted. “BOO! Quit bragging,
you braggart!”
The jar that contained Puffy the demon was returned to John. John wedged it in his
armpit to hold it. He marched over to Alan and stood face to face with him. He was
irritated but did not break his cool demeanor. “Is there a problem over here?” he asked.
The tension was high, and the cafeteria was divided in two: all those behind John,
and all those behind Alan…which was just Sarah and Laney.
“Stop this,” Laney whispered to Alan. “You’re embarrassing me!”
“School’s like prison,” he whispered back, “you can’t let yourself become someone’s
bitch. You gotta stand up to the top dog. This guy—he’s the guy.”
“I can hear,” John said. “Now what’s your problem?”
“No problem here,” said Alan. “I just think you got a big head.”
The crowd went “oooh.” John rolled up his sleeves and slapped Alan across the face.
“Sir,” he said, “you have insulted my honor. I challenge you to a duel.”
Alan returned the slap. “Sir, I accept your challenge!”
“Pick your weapon,” said John.
“Don’t do it,” Laney whispered.
But Alan ignored her, and searched his table for a projectile. He picked up the
remaining Balut (egg). “Okay,” he said, “now you.”
John put his jar in his right hand for safer keeping, and with his left hand he found a
pudding. “I’m ready,” he said. “Let’s do this.”
Then he and Alan turned away from each other and paced in opposite directions.
When they were equidistant from where they originally stood, they began counting aloud:
“10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2...” THEN “1!” Both spun ‘round and launched their items at each
other. John missed Alan by only an inch—but Alan missed by a lot. His Balut flew way
past his target and hit Ms. Someen in the forehead. The duck fetus slid off her nose. The
egg slime covered about half her face.
“WHO DID THIS!!!!!!!” she yelled. She stamped her heel down. Then all at once
everyone pointed their fingers at Alan.
“Laney,” said Alan, “stop pointing at me!”
Ms. Someen, after wiping off her face, took Alan by the ear. “Young man,” she said,
“I’m afraid you’ll have to come with me—to the chamber!”
A silence overcame the cafeteria. All knew about the chamber…yet didn’t. Most of
the stories about it were strictly apocryphal and secondhand accounts. Still, they were
told with such conviction that anyone with a keen ear would believe. There was a lot of
speculation about the chamber—the room used by teachers to punish students—most of it
gruesome.
“No, no, no,” Alan pleaded. “You can’t! I’m sorry! I’m really sorry! Can’t you find
it in your heart to forgive me?” He gave big, round, puppy-dog eyes.
With her finger tapping against her nose, Ms. Someen thought. The students around
her awaited with bated breath. While some of them did not want Alan to get into trouble,
others hoped that he would so that they could find out about the chambers…and it’s, er,
secrets.
“I don’t know,” said Ms. Someen. “I don’t want people to think I’m going soft.”
Alan, who was deadly afraid of the chamber, got physically hysterical. He whined
and jumped up and down. “I can’t! I can’t! I can’t!” Then he started banging his fists on
the table, begging for mercy. But while doing so, he accidentally hit a lunch tray and
launched a banana into the air.
What goes up, of course, must come down. So, the banana fell onto John’s head. It
didn’t harm him, but the surprise made him lose his composure for a moment, just
enough to drop the jar he was holding. The jar went SMASH! and broke open, releasing
Puffy into the cafeteria. His noxious smoke made everyone cough.
“Criminy…” said Alan.
Then Puffy grabbed Ms. Someen and tried swallowing her. “You pile of puff!” she
yelled while half in his mouth. The students around hastily went to help. They held Ms.
Someen’s legs and all pulled together—but their strength alone was not enough. So, more
students joined. They linked together, attaching onto each other’s waists, and leaned
back. “Pull!” yelled John who was in the middle. “Pull!”
The students did as told, trying their best, but were ungraciously winded by the
smoke fuming from Puffy. They were incredibly exhausted. You’d think that each one of
them had the lungs of a chain smoker. “Don’t give up,” Alan said in an encouraging
voice. “We’ve almost got ‘er out!”
Now Puffy could hold no longer, and Ms. Someen was let go. When she tumbled
back, she knocked over everyone behind her. They fell in a domino-like fashion. Ms.
Someen got up and spit black sludge out her mouth. She was covered in the gunk from
top to bottom. “Damn you to hell!” she coughed to the demon.
Puffy laughed, “He-he-he! Try and catch me!” Then he floated to the ceiling and
began tossing hot, lit cigarettes on everyone below. The students rushed for cover under
the tables.
Laney screamed at Alan, “ALAAAN!”
He shrugged in embarrassment. Sarah wanted to say something in his defense, but
wasn’t sure how she could. Instead she busied herself, brushing away the cigarettes that
rolled toward her.
Ms. Someen covered her head with a tray, and ran to the wall where a fire alarm pull
station was located. She yanked the white handle down and activated sprinklers in the
ceiling. From this came a torrent of mucky water—but it was no ordinary water, it was
holy water. And it was sufficient enough to subdue Puffy for a while, while Ms. Someen
further thought what to do. She glanced at John, hoping she’d receive some advice; for
the task of ridding a demon, even for a seasoned veteran, was tricky indeed.
John shouted, “Candy! It likes candy!”
Ms. Someen slapped her head in frustration but had no better ideas. She raced over to
the L-shaped counter, where kids lined up to get food, and jumped over it as hot
cigarettes and smoke bombarded her. She took a pickle jar and poured out the contents,
then scribbled Hebrew scripture onto the lid with a permanent marker.
“Whatcha gonna do now?” one of the lunch ladies asked. (Since it was only her first
day, she’d never witnessed anything like this before.)
“Hope this works!” Ms. Someen replied. Then she jumped out with her jar, and went
back into the fray. She stood under Puffy who laughed at her in a mocking manner.
“Haw-haw-haw!” he went. “Stupid woman! What will you do with that?!” His yellow
eyes glowed. “I’ve been in one of those already—you expect me to be fooled again?!”
John exclaimed to Ms. Someen in whisper, “Candy!”
Sarah, seeing Ms. Someen had no candy, threw her a Curly Wurly. She caught it and,
after removing the plastic wrapper, placed it into the big jar that she was holding. The
sweet smell went up to Puffy, making him salivate. “Yum, yum,” he said while licking
one of his fangs. “Choc-o-lot!” He began to float down, following the scent, but then had
second thoughts. “This is a trick,” he thought aloud. “Sweeties is how they caught me the
last time… Mm, but so delicious!”
“Yes, very good,” Ms. Someen said in her most enticing voice (which wasn’t very
enticing at all). “If you come down like good boy, then you may have.”
Laney, Sarah, and Alan were sweating. The cafeteria was now double its normal
temperature and reeked like a hippy.
“You know you’re going to be sent to the chamber, right?” said Laney.
“Quit reminding,” Alan replied.
More candy was given to Ms. Someen and, like the Curly Wurly, was placed into the
jar. Ms. Someen again beckoned Puffy. “So much, sweet, sweet sugar here,” she said.
“Wouldn’t you like to try?”
Puffy’s mouth dripped. The temptation for him was too strong (though he was never
particularly resistant to temptation in the first place). And he went down and went into
the jar to eat. Quickly, Ms. Someen slapped on the lid with the Hebrew scripture, then
screwed it on as tight as she could. So, the demon was properly trapped.
All the students came out from hiding. Every one of them was soaked from the
sprinklers, and charred from the hot cigarettes that fell on them. However, in the face of
this triumph, none of them yet cheered—till Alan was taken away. Ms. Someen grabbed
him by the scruff and dragged him along ‘till he was gone from the cafeteria.
Now everyone clapped.

Alan sat quietly while waiting to be called upon. He glanced at the girl next to him who
seemed completely at ease. She was reading a book and highlight passages. “Most
interesting,” she kept saying intermittently, “most interesting.”
Curiosity got the better of Alan. “What’s ‘most interesting’?” he asked.
The girl, a pretty blonde with freckles, fair skin, and light brown eyes, spoke to him
while keeping her eyes stuck on her book. “It says here,” she said, “that demons can not
only be captured, but also trained.”
“For reals?” said Alan.
“For reals,” said the girl.
Alan saw a label on the girl’s book that had her name: Aiyana. “That’s a pretty
name,” he noted. “Aiyana. What is it? Like African or something?”
“I’m not sure,” Aiyana replied. “My dad told me it was Native American. It means
‘eternal flower’ or something like that.”
“…My name is Alan. It means ‘rock.’”
“Hmm…”
“So are you in trouble or what’s the deal?”
“No. Just here to collect my perfect attendance award.”
“I didn’t know there was a perfect attendance award.”
“Well, there is.”
“What’s the award?”
“Books.”
“That’s a terrible award.”
“I like books. They make you smart.”
Alan looked at Aiyana who was absolutely gorgeous (for her age). “Er, yes, I agree,”
he said, changing his opinion. “Books do make you make you smart. In fact, I’ve always
said that ‘books are a gateway to knowledge and enlightenment.’”
Aiyana glanced away from her book. “Really?”
“Well, I kinda stole that from my mom. She was quite the academic. She read like
three books a week or something crazy like that.”
“Really?”
“Yeah. But that’s when she was alive. She killed herself.”
“Oh! I’m so sorry to hear!”
“It’s okay. That was a while ago. I’m getting over it now…although sometimes I feel
guilty.”
“Why would you feel guilty?”
“I dunno… Maybe I could’ve done something. I knew she was depressed, even
though she hid it quite well. Whenever I went into her room, I could see that her pillow
was wet from tears.”
“What was her name?”
“Abigail.”
“Pretty name.”
“Thanks.”
A voice came through the door with the frosted window, “Harris! Alan Harris!”
Alan tugged at his shirt collar and gulped. Gulp! “Well, alright,” he said. “I’ll guess
—I hope I’ll see you later.” Aiyana nodded. Then he went, reluctantly, into the
principal’s office.
The principal’s office was plain and sterile. The walls, ceiling, and floor were a
perfect white. There was a clock with large numbers. A perfectly clean desk (nothing on
top). And a bookshelf where the books were arranged in alphabetical and numerical
order.
The big, leather chair swung around. “Yes,” said the Principal.
“Yes, what?” said Alan.
“Yes,” said the Principal. “I see you. I acknowledge your presence.”
Alan didn’t know what to say, but he nodded his head anyway, if only to appear
responsive.
The Principal had his hands together in front of him as if crushing a walnut or an
egg. “Do you know why you’re here?” he said.
Alan asked, “Do I have the right to remain silent?”
“They say ‘silence is golden.’ I say ‘no, it is not.’”
“Alright…”
“So, speak now or forever hold your peace.”
“Okay…”
“Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
“Wait, what was the question again?”
“DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID?!”
“I do. And I’m very sorry for it.”
“Sorry isn’t good enough.”
“Are you going to punish me?”
“I don’t enjoy punishing children. I think they should run and be free. For a child,
you see, every day is a learning opportunity—but when you learn you make mistakes—
and we as adults should recognize that. We should not punish them for their mishaps, but
rather guide them, and show them the right way.”
“That’s a really great philosophy. I wholeheartedly agree with it.”
“Thank you kindly—but, unfortunately, the school disagrees with me. So, you’re
going to be punished.
Alan stuttered. “But, but, but!”
The Principal stood and took him by the arm. “Come along now,” he said. “Resisting
will only make this worse.”
The two went through the winding hallways. After turning, what seemed about a
dozen or more times, they came to a stop. They faced a barren wall with a door that was
maybe twice the size of a regular door.
The Principal knocked. Knock! Knock! Alan nearly jumped when a faced showed
itself through a square hole, which wasn’t there before. “What’s your business?” the
squinting face asked in a squeaky tone.
“We’re lost,” said the Principal. “Do you know where the Chamber is?”
The face squished, giving the appearance of a squeezed stress ball. “Near here,” it
said. “Turn ‘round, go straight, and head left on the intersection.”
“Sure about that now?”
“Well, if you don’t believe me, you can …”
“Alright then. Thank you.”
Alan and the Principal left, and followed the directions of the face. They turned
around, went straight, and took a left on the intersection. This brought them to the
entrance of the Chamber. The entrance of the Chamber was a hole in the floor. A hole
which did not reveal what lied beyond.
“Here we are,” said the Principal. “The Chamber.”
“And we go in through the hole?” Alan asked.
“There’s no ‘we’ here.”
“Is this actually legal?”
“Probably not. But it’s this or be expelled from school. It’s your choice, really.”
Alan looked into the hole and threw a nickel in. There was no klink or klank.
Unusual. It was as if it was bottomless. “What should I do?” he thought. “I can’t get
kicked out of here. That means I’ll have to go back to St. Kevin Elementary. Francis and
Gerald will kick the shit out of me… On the other hand, I may fall to my doom.”
“And what’s your decision?” asked the Principal.
“I don’t know,” Alan replied. “Can you decide for me?”
“Okay,” said the Principal. Then he gave Alan a shove.

Now Alan fell into the darkness, into the hole, and there was nothing he could do—
except for scream. “AUUUUUGH!” But he soon ran out of breath. He felt himself hit
against something soft. A spotlight shone in his face when he sat up (which made it
difficult to see).
“Greetings,” said a nasally voice. “You are in the Chamber… Just the Chamber. Not
the Chamber of Doom. Not the Chamber of Darkness. Not the Chamber of Punishment.
Just the Chamber… Now! If you would kindly stand, we may begin action of the
disciplinary type. Then you will be cleared of your sociopath tendencies.”
“I’m not a sociopath,” said Alan. He tried looking around, to ascertain his precise
location, but his eyes were still adjusting. The spotlight that shone in his face had left a
pinkish-green imprint in his vision that appeared as a light bulb.
“All guilty say ‘innocent,’” said the nasally voice. “What makes you any different?”
To this Alan had no response.
The nasally voice continued, “Well, never mind. It’s all semantics. Also, it’s not as if
I’m any better than you, anyhow. Being here is my punishment, you know.”
“Really?” said Alan, his vision was now adjusted and ready to see. “What did you
do?”
The nasally voice showed its face.
Alan jumped to his feet and screamed. He reeled back. “Ah! What the hell are you!?”
A ten foot spider grinned at him. “Scared are we?” Its eight eyes all blinked at once.
“No!”
The Spider glared.
“Okay,” said Alan, “maybe a little.”
The Spider pumped its bristly legs and rose up. But while it was a large creature, it
was still dwarfed by its surroundings. The Chamber was a massive place, grey, dark,
empty, and devoid of life.
“I, I, I can’t believe this,” Alan stuttered. “I’ve seen some things before, but this…
I’m sorry, I don’t really like insects.”
“But to me,” said the Spider, “you are the insect.”
“Is that so?”
“Maybe.”
“Welp, I can see we aren’t going to get along. Alright, just stick me in your web and
suck out my juices now, before I become too agitated.”
“Don’t mock me. This can get worse, boy-o.”
“Alright, alright. I apologize. Let’s start anew. What’s your name?”
“I don’t remember.”
“You don’t remember your own name?”
“Relative to my body-size, I have a very tiny brain.” The Spider tapped its head.
“There are things I am not aware of. I don’t even know my own gender.”
Alan was skeptical. “How is that possible?”
“You have strange standards, my friend. You see a ten-foot, talking spider—and
believe in it—but question its capabilities to memorize facts? How strange you humans
are. Always confused and muddled. I remember what it was like to be human.”
“You were human?”
“Yes. But I’ve since forgotten the details—due to my tiny brain. Was I old? Young?
Boy or girl? I don’t know. All I know is I am here and I am paying for what I did.”
“Which is?”
“Consorting with demons.”
“And why would you do that?”
“I wanted to be rich and famous. I was for a while, but then I got caught.”
“What was your name?”
“I don’t know.”
Alan felt sorry for the Spider. “Man, that sucks.”
The Spider was surprisingly optimistic. “It’s not so bad. I got off quite easy,
actually”
“THIS is easy?”
“I could’ve been damned for an eternity… But my sentence was lightened, because I
had a good lawyer.” The Spider paused. “Hmm, I guess that’s a bit of an oxymoron.” It
continued. “Well, she did explain my dilemma; said I only consorted with the demons
because I was lovelorn—whatever that means.”
“Ah, that’s quite interesting,” said Alan. Then he started to walk away (though
unsure where the exit was).
The Spider grabbed him by the scruff and held him in the air. “But, Alan Harris, the
time has come for your punishment…”
Alan nearly wet himself. But what he most wanted to do at this point was hide under
his bed. His struggling to break free did no good.

Chapter 17

The weekend came and Alan was nowhere to be found. Thompson, however, understood
that the boy was being punished, and was fine with his absence. He left the washroom,
and after sprinkling around some holy water, exited the front doors of the mansion.
Outside, on the driveway, Laney was waiting. She looked different today, something
about her was different.
She was in a dress—and what a stark contrast it was when compared to her regular,
ol’ plain shirt and jeans.
“How do I look?” she asked. There was a self-conscious look on her face.
Thompson gave her a once-over and smiled. “Ravishing,” he said, “simply
ravishing.”
Laney blushed and excitedly, and nervously, went into the front-right seat of the
Cadillac. Thompson joined her when he got behind the wheel. He started the car without
trouble and then took off. The two traveled along the quiet route where there were very
few people.
While Thompson navigated, in his usual careful manner, he’d glance in the rearview
mirror every now and then to see Laney’s face. Her hands were placed squarely on her
knees.
“So,” he said, “what sort of party will this be?”
“Birthday,” replied Laney.
“Ah, those are quite trendy. How old will the lad be?”
“Thirteen.”
“Thirteen? Oh, he’s three years older than you. Just about.”
“Yep.”
“Will there be a piñata?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Oh, too bad…”
The rest of the car ride went without conversation. But while this made the trip seem
longer, Laney and Thompson soon arrived in front of Adam’s place where the party was.
It was easy to tell since there were several dozen vehicles piled in and around the
driveway, and there were balloons hanging off the branches of trees.
“Well, we’re here,” said Thompson. “Have fun. Don’t get into trouble.”
“I won’t,” said Laney, and then she stepped out of the car. She carried a present
under her arm and slowly went to the front door. She glanced back. Thompson was
waiting for her to get inside. “It’s okay,” she said with her lips. “I’ll be fine.” So, then he
left.
Laney rang the door bell and awaited an answer. While waiting, she looked through
the frosted window and saw an approaching figure. The figure was slender and about five
and a half feet tall. Maybe it was an adult.
The door swung open. A spiky-haired boy with a choker around his neck made the
“rock on” (AKA sign of the horns) sign and said, “Pizza’s here!” He started putting cash
into Laney’s hand. “That don’t look like a pizza,” he said while staring at the present
Laney was carrying under her arm. “I guess it’s a birthday pizza. Pizza in a gift box—
man, that’s rad.”
“This isn’t a pizza,” said Laney. “I’m not the pizza delivery guy.”
“What?” said the spiky-haired boy. “You kidding me? You’re kidding me? Then
where’s the pizza?”
A voice screamed, “Is that the pizza!?”
“NO!” the spiky-haired boy screamed back. “Shut the fark up!” He turned back to
Laney. “Sorry about that. So, why’re you here again?”
“I’m here for the party,” said Laney. She showed her present. “See.”
The spiky-haired boy seemed taken aback. “Whoa, my bad. I had no idea. You just
look so, so, so, so, so…”
“So what?”
“So girly.”
“Is this not a party for girls?”
“No, there are girls here, but most of ‘em look like me. Very unattractive.”
“Thanks—I think.”
“You’re welcome… Hey, man. Come in. Adam’s busy right now, but I’m his
confidante. So, I’ll show you around the place.”
Laney stepped into the main foyer which was filled with confetti and silly string. She
kept her shoes on because the floor was so messy. The spiky-haired boy led her around.
First he showed her the bathroom.
“Here’s the bathroom,” he said. “I know what you’re thinking. ‘Why’s he showing
me the bathroom?’ Well, the bathroom is the most important place during a wild party
like this.” He spoke louder over the music that was playing in the background: heavy
metal/rock. “The bathroom is where you make-out, puke, and piss; basically, all the
essentials of a good time.”
He took Laney up the short set of stairs, to the living room, where mostly everyone
was hanging out. There were mostly boys, but a couple of girls who were dressed really
slutty. It seemed like they were all dressed up as their favorite bands/artists. Only one
person had no eye-liner, which was the older kid who appeared to be supervising the
“shindig.”
“That’s Mel,” said the spiky-haired boy while pointing. “Adam’s cousin… He’s kind
of a party pooper.”
“Oh,” said Laney. “I’ll, uh, avoid him.”
“What a noob.”
“Yes. I agree.”
Just then someone from the second floor called out to the spiky-haired boy. “Dude,”
he said to Laney, “I hafta go. But serious FYI: the real party’s in the basement.” And he
quickly left.
So, Laney was there, by herself. Well, she wasn’t really by herself, but it felt that
way. The only person she knew was Adam and he wasn’t there. She decided to see what
Mel was up to, since he appeared to be the least freakish out of all the kids.
“Hello,” said Laney to Mel.
Mel put his soda-can down and took a bowl of crisps into his lap. He threw some
into his mouth and began chomping. Chomping and swallowing. “What’s up?” he asked
“Not much,” said Laney. “Just wondering if you’ve seen Adam.”
“Naw.”
“Naw?”
“Haven’t seen him. I think he must be in the basement. I saw him and a few of his
friends go down there. But he locked the door. You have to know the secret password…
God, what an idiot.”
“He’s not an idiot!” said Laney.
“Yeah, whatever,” said Mel. “Do you need anything else? Is anyone on fire?”
“No, thank you,” said Laney, and then she went off to the table where there were
presents piled up. She put her present on the very top and made everything topple over.
The crash was louder than the blaring music. This made everyone turn around and glance.
Some glared, but most were indifferent. Still, Laney felt red in the face.
Laney scolded herself, “Try not to be such a klutz.” Then she picked everything up
on her own and shuffled off into the kitchen where there was food galore.
There were even every-flavor jelly beans.
Nah. They were just regular jelly beans.
A couple kids were at the table, sitting, just shooting the breeze, talking about how
lame the party was. Some were picking at the food which wasn’t yet ready to serve. One
boy was gorging himself on lime Jello.
“What’re you looking at?” asked the Jello-eater. “Do you want something?”
At this point Laney had enough of these weirdoes. She ran off and went outside to
take in a breath of fresh-air. She leaned against the brick wall to rest her brain. The party
was all too much for her. Never before had she encountered such strange children. Well,
they weren’t strange actually, but to her they very much were. “Why would Adam hang
out with these people?” Laney thought. “I’m not judgmental but—no, I am. Damn them.
Freaking queer kids.”
“Freaking queer kids?” repeated a voice. “What do you mean by that? I hope you
don’t mean what I think you mean.”
Laney stood straight and looked right. Sarah was standing there with an awkward
smile. “Hi,” she said.
“What’re you doing here?” Laney asked.
“What do you mean by that?” replied Sarah.
“Well… You weren’t invited.”
“I know. I just wanted to see what you were up to. I was bored. And your brother’s
locked up in the school dungeon.”
“You have to go.”
“Why?” said Sarah. She was being sarcastic. “Am I not cool enough?”
“Yes,” said Laney.
“But, but, but, but, but—”
“I’m trying to make an impression here. Look, I like you a lot, Sarah, but you have to
go.”
“Can’t you bring me in? I wanna see.”
“No, no, no. Absolutely no.”
“F-f-f-fine. I’m going.”
Sarah went down the driveway and stopped at the bottom. She glanced back, hoping
that her best-friend would stop her. But Laney was already headed back into the house.
Now, Sarah was a fairly tolerant person, and understood that Laney wanted to
impress a boy, but today she was feeling awfully offended. Today was her birthday.

Laney reached into the main foyer. She was overwhelmed with guilt—but wasn’t sure
why. As she was about to go back to the living room, she felt a tap on her shoulder. She
turned around.
Adam gave her a fist bump. “You’re finally here,” he said. “I’ve been waiting for
you.”
“Really?” asked Laney who was in disbelief, considering her treatment.
“Yeah.
“Oh, okay.”
“So how long you been here? Did you meet my friends?”
“I did.”
“What do you think?”
“What do I think? Uh, I think they’re pretty cool.” (Laney was lying.)
“Ha! Horseshit! They’re weird! Really, I have no idea how I got into that crowd.
They’re all from my old school—I guess they never grew up.”
“Well, you’re quite the opposite of them I’d say.”
“Thanks,” said Adam. “Now, follow me if you please. I’ll take you to the real party.”
Then he led Laney to the door that led into the basement. He knocked on it thrice. “Open
up,” he said. “It’s me.”
“Me who?!” the person on the other side replied.
“You know who,” said Adam.
“I do not.”
“Uh… Don’t make me do this.”
“RULES ARE RULES!”
Adam sighed. Then he clapped, while regretting his stringent security requirements,
and stomped his feet and sang: “My chicken. Hey, hey, hey. My chicken. Hey, hey, hey.
It’s so good. It’s so salty. It’s my chicken.”
Laney stared at Adam as if he were insane. “What was that all about?”
“If you may know,” said Adam, “the most secure passwords and pass-codes are the
ones that are obscure. This is the most obscure.”
“I can’t disagree with that,” said Laney.
The basement door opened. A generic-looking teenager with zits welcomed them in.
“Welcome,” he said.
Adam and Laney went past him and down the stairs. The door closed behind. They
went to the middle area where there was a lion rug and a set of beanbag chairs set up in a
circle. There were five kids just about, including the boy who opened the door—seven
including Laney and Adam. Seating was exact. The two sat down.
Laney sunk into her beanbag chair. Then Adam quickly introduced everyone, the six
boys. He pointed going counter-clock wise. “Manny, Moe, Ted,” he said. “Godwin and
Jack.”
Manny was the boy who opened the basement door.
Moe was the fat one.
Ted was the one with the dreads.
Godwin was the one with the buck teeth.
And Jack was the spiky-haired boy who Laney had met earlier.
“Sorry,” said Laney, “I didn’t catch that.”
“Don’t worry,” said Adam. “Let us begin the party.”
Moe went into a cooler and retrieved seven cans of beer. He handed one to each
person. The boys eagerly pulled the tabs, ready to drink. Laney held the beer can in her
hand. It was tall, maybe 500 ML at 3.5% alcohol.
“I don’t drink,” she said.
“Neither do we,” said Godwin. “This is our firsht time.”
Ted threw back his dreadlocks and took a sip. “Not for me,” he said.
Jack smelled the contents of his can. To him it smelt quite putrid.
“Where’d you get beer from?” asked Laney.
“Oh,” said Adam, “we found it in an abandoned trolley. At least we think it was
abandoned. There were some garbage bags in it and a dirty blanket.”
Laney was reluctant. “Is this hygienic?”
“Probably not,” Adam replied in a nonchalant manner, “but we probably won’t die.”
The on that, everyone but Laney drank. Their faces curled. Though the beer was far
from expired, the bitter taste was something they were not used to. Most alcohol any of
‘em ever had was in Wine Coolers.
“How ish it?” asked Godwin.
“I’m buzzed,” said Ted. “Me is mad buzzed.”
“Laaaney,” said Adam, “join the fuuun! Why aren’t you drinking?”
Jack and Manny got up and did a random jig while Moe went to get more booze. The
group was really sluggin’ ‘em back. This started to worry Laney who was not in the
mood for any of this.
The boys, however, maintained some sense of decorum… None of them pissed
themselves. No puke either.
As Laney was about to get up and leave, she saw something in the corner of her eye.
By the window there was a face. Not just any face though, it was Sarah.
Sarah rustled by the bushes. She thought she was being stealthy, but at six feet tall
she really wasn’t. She had trouble hiding her big body. “Well, look at we have here,” she
said to herself while staring at Laney and the others through the grimy window. “I can’t
believe she’s drinking… Erm, I think she’s drinking.”
Back inside, Adam had Laney in a corner. He swayed a bit as she winced, and spoke
in a somewhat slurred tone, which was most likely psychosomatic. “That dress is great,”
he said. “It’s like the perfect dress. Totally suits you, man. I could never wear something
like that and pull it off. Only you.”
“Oh, uh, thank you,” said Laney. “I wore it especially for you.”
“It looks great on you… Eeeeh, but it would look better on my floor.” (World’s
worst pick-up line.)
“I… I’d prefer to keep it on.”
“Baby, why you playin’ hard to get? Let’s keep it on the reals.”
“Uh, okay.”
“I like you an’ you like me. Riiight?”
“Yes. Of course.”
“Then let’s get it on.”
“I’d rather not—I’m, er, saving myself for marriage.”
“But, baby, I’m thirteen. I can’t wait that long.”
“Well, you’ll have to wait.”
Adam punched the space of wall beside Laney’s head in frustration. His friends, who
weren’t half as inebriated, kept their distances. “Man,” he said, “man, oh, man. Love is
hard. I thought I’d have mastered it by now.”
Laney was silent. She felt ambivalent. She felt conflicted. She felt confused. She felt
excited. She felt scared.
She felt a kiss on her lips.
Sarah, who was still outside watching, was agape upon witnessing her best friend’s
first kiss. Never in a million years did she think Sarah, the tomboy, would go for a guy
like Adam. But there it was. The two “lovers” had their lips locked and they were steadily
exchanging fluids.
This shouldn’t have upset Sarah, but for some reason she felt jealous, and it gave her
a sinking feeling, as if she were falling. “That horn dog,” she said. “How dare he kiss my
best friend like that—this is sexual harassment!”
When Sarah got up from her knees (having had enough), she was overwhelmed with
the urge to look over her shoulder. And when she did, she saw the man with the big nose,
the man she’d seen many times before. Except now he was clearer than before. His nose
was much larger than originally thought, and it was taking up more than half his face. His
eyes and lips were tiny by comparison.
What was he doing following Sarah around?
Sarah went to find out. She headed toward the big nosed man, who she’d nick named
“Nosey,” and called him out. “I can see you!” she said. “I’m going to call the cops!” She
didn’t have a mobile phone, but she picked up a square-looking rock from her pocket and
pretended to dial “emergency.”
Nosey at that point vanished—then suddenly reappeared. He was standing in front of
Sarah in plain view. His nose looked even bigger than when last seen. His shoulders were
wide, his legs skinny and long, and he was dressed in a 1920s suit with a pink tie. He
breathed heavily. Steam came from his nostrils. “Mine eyes may be small,” he said in
another language, “but I see you.”
“Well,” yawned Sarah, “would you look at the time?” Then she glanced at her wrist
which had no watch (“I must be going now,” she last said) and then ran in the opposite
direction as quickly as possible. Now an escape would’ve been easy for a girl this tall, but
at a short distance the wind was suddenly knocked out of her. This wasn’t normal for her,
since she was an avid runner, but she figured it was from anxiety. She kept going, though
at a slower pace, and glanced back. Nosey was gone.

Chapter 18

Adam’s party was over. Laney returned to the mansion and was greeted by Thompson.
“Quite late, isn’t it?” he asked. “I thought we agreed you’d return by nine in the
PM.”
“We never agreed to that,” replied Laney.
“Oh,” said Thompson. “Well, then…”
“I would’ve come home sooner, but I lost track of… What time is it?”
“Two AM, young lady.”
“Really?”
Thompson shut the door. “Yes.” He seemed calm, but was really irate—mostly with
himself, since he saw himself as a terrible guardian. “Ah, this is what I get for getting
caught up in my work. I should have checked up on you.”
Laney waited for some sort of punishment.
Then Thompson let out a sigh. “Ah, I suppose kids will be kids. Off with you, and
don’t stir up any trouble while upstairs.”
So, without hesitation, Laney went to her bedroom. She shut the door and flopped
into bed. She fell asleep immediately.
Meanwhile, Thompson returned to the basement.

Chapter 19

Class finished and Laney was walking about the hallways of the Dragon school, headed
to her locker to retrieve some books when she was suddenly approached by John and a
group of kids she did not know.
“How’s your brother doing?” John asked. “Any word from him yet?”
“Why?” said Laney.
“Just curious. It’s not every day that some numbskull gets sent to the Chamber.”
“He’s not a numbskull, you jerk.”
“Hang on—were you not there in the cafeteria?”
“I was.”
“And?”
“Okay, he’s a numbskull. So what, John? Quit bothering me.”
“We just want to know if you’ve heard from him.”
“No.”
“Are you sure?”
Laney didn’t want to be late for the next class, which was in the Halo Auditorium.
Today they’d actually be learning how to do practical holy magic. Since the time she
arrived, it had all been introductory; only the senior students and the precocious knew
how to do anything of use. “Yes,” she said in a hurried tone. “I know as much as you.
Alan is completely cut off from communication.”
“Why?” John asked.
“I don’t know!” yelled Laney. “Would you leave me alone?!”
“Okay, okay, no need to get snippy.”
As Laney started walking off, John continued talking, but in a very low-tone (but not
low enough.) “I heard she went to a party and got felt up,” he said. “What a slut.” The
group around him agreed and made rude gestures.
Just then the bell rang, and everyone began heading for the auditorium, except for
Laney who was quite furious. She rushed over to John and held him on the shoulder
before he could leave. “Say that again!”
“What?” said John.
“Say what you said!” said Laney. “I want everybody here to hear it!”
“Are you mad? This girl’s mad!”
The hallway became packed with curious onlookers.
“DO YOU HAVE A BAD MEMORY OR WHAT?!”
“Laney… Look, I was just joking.”
“Was not! Now say it!”
“Okay… What a slut!”
“You hear that? You hear that, folks? Your hero is a misogynist! Oh, he struts
around like he’s all magnanimous, but he’s really a misogynist!”
Nobody knew was a “misogynist” was. The remark really fell on deaf ears.
John spoke through his teeth to Laney. “Look,” he said, “I don’t have time for this. If
you want to fight we can fight. But I’m not going to stand around and get into a shouting
match. You want to settle a score? We’ll settle it—but not now.”
Laney, after calming down a bit, realized that class was waiting. “Fine,” she said,
“when school is over.”

School ended for the day, and John and Laney were face to face while surrounded by
many others. The many others had their noses covered up, since they stood amidst heaps
of garbage. (The Dragon School was underneath the landfill.)
“Come on, let’s hurry this up,” said John.
“Why?” said Laney. “Wanna go home and run to your mommy?”
The crowd went “Oooooooh!”
“No,” said John. “It stinks here and I’m about to throw up.”
“Oh…” said Laney.
“Woo! Tear ‘er a new one,” someone said from the crowd. “Make her see God!”
“Alright,” said John. “I’ve got it under control.” Then he, with Laney, rolled up his
sleeves, and the two squared off.
But while the boy appeared sure of himself, Laney kept running thoughts through her
head, thinking how she could defeat such a powerful opponent. John was probably the
most advanced student at the school. Who could defeat him? He probably knew every
single spell, incantation, and tool.
As John had his hand in the air, halfway through what was probably a powerful spell,
Laney jumped at him with a kicked and threw him into a pile of steaming trash. He
peeled off a soiled diaper from his face. “What was that?!” he said. “That’s not a spell!”
“It’s called a karate kick,” said Laney. “I learnt it from a friend of mine. Now, if you
can’t handle fighting a girl—”
The heap of trash beside John fell over as he stood up. “That’s it,” he said. “The
gloves are off. No more Mr. Nice Guy.” Then he rushed forward with a war cry:
“YAUUUUUGH!”
But Laney knocked him down with a sweep of her leg, thus thwarting his attack. The
second fall was even less pretty than the first. John was fuming mad. He was now in a
blind rage and could barely think. The only thought that came across his mind was how
stupid he looked. He maintained such a grand image of himself, but now everyone could
see that he was a temperamental, red-faced, blowhard.
He rose again to his feet. But instead of attacking wildly, he started picking up trash
from the ground. He picked up random objects and hurled them at Laney. Used tampons,
amongst other things, hit her in the head.
“EW!” she said. “Fight fair!”
“Fair?!” said John. “There is no fair in war!”
“This is nasty.”
“Nasty things for nasty girls!”
Laney put her arms up to deflect a telephone. She was getting wary at having stuff
thrown at her, but she hesitated to retaliate in kind. She was really quite the germaphobe.
But when a telephone book from 1984 smacked her in the nose, she forgot all about
her fears. She picked up a long stick and batted away all oncoming objects; some of them
flew back at John.
“Huh, I see you used to play baseball,” John said in a snide tone.
“Cricket,” replied Laney.
“I see.”
“[Insert witty remark here!]”
The crowd roared as the intensity of the fight increased. By now there were cuts,
scrapes, bruises, and even a tooth that went missing… It wasn’t a tooth directly from
anyone’s mouth—but still it was quite horrific for John to lose his good luck charm. “He
would not let this slide,” he remarked.
There would be no sliding of any sort, except for Laney who was on her bottom,
being pulled along by her hair. She kicked her legs. “Let me go!” she screamed. John
laughed and threw her into a pile of sludge. Then as he was about to finish her, Mortal
Kombat® Style, all the kids around parted to let someone through.
John paused with his fist pulled high.
Then Alan appeared standing with his hands folded in front of him. “You will regret
that,” he said.
“Oh, is that so?” John replied.
Alan stayed calm, despite seeing Laney’s battered face. He motioned his right
intricately in the air, while uttering what seemed Hebrew words, and thrust out his palm
in a sudden manner; then what can only be described as a force came from his body and
shot at John. John grabbed his sides and bent over in a sickly manner. When he opened
his mouth to speak white-foam spilled out.
Laney dusted herself off and stood. “What did you do?” she asked.
“…Kicked ass is what!” shouted an enthusiastic voice. Then the kids went haywire
and started cheering. They picked up Alan, hoisting him onto their shoulders. Alan was
overwhelmed with hands reaching out for him.
“Oh, oh,” said Alan, “this is all too much.” But he got swept up in the madness, and
was taken away with all the kids (presumably to go and celebrate). They’d never seen
such a spectacle.
Now the only people left behind were Laney and John. The two were forgotten.
While John tried to get up, Laney kept her distance. He was grumbling with tears in his
eyes. “I’m going to get him… I’m going to get him… I’m going to get him back… He
thinks he can show me up. He thinks he’s better than me. That, that, that, arrghhh!” His
speech became incomprehensible, and he started babbling like mad.
This was now Laney’s cue to leave—and she did.

Chapter 20

Sitting about in their squad car (a Ford Crown Victoria), police officers Fred and Ted
were called on their radio. The speakers crackled when a voice said, “We got a four-
fifteen at 56 Crescent Moon. Repeat: Four-fifteen at 56 Crescent Moon. Over.”
“A disturbance,” said Fred.
Ted picked up the mic and spoke into it. “We’ll be there in ten. Over and out.”

Eleven minutes later, Fred and Ted were on Crescent Moon Street. They drove along the
curb and stopped in front of house 56. All the lights were on, not one was off. They got
out of their car and went along the path, slowly, and carefully. To the side of them were
the prying eyes of neighbors who were obtusely staring through their Venetian blinds.
“I got a bad feeling about this,” said Fred.
“Yeah,” said Ted, “maybe we shouldn’t have eaten those burritos.”
The lights in the house suddenly went out. Now it was completely dim. Ted and Fred
took out their big police flashlights and shone them ahead. They went to the front door
with even more caution before. Ted’s hands were shaking; he was psyched up to draw his
weapon, his TASER or his gun.
Fred was a bit cooler though, that being his personality, and he was not yet ready to
jump to the most horrific conclusion, although he had seen many things in his time, and
was set to deal with anything from simple assault to a serious battering. Most
disturbances seemed to be a mixed bag, however. It could probably just be a yelling
match going on inside.
Fred and Ted stood at the entrance. There were two doors: The normal door and the
storm door on front. Fred put away his flashlight and tentatively rang the door bell in a
rapid fashion: DING! DONG! DING! DONG! DING! DONG! After a moment of silence,
the two doors creaked open. Who was inside could not be seen, though a heavy and
labored breathing could be heard.
Ted tried shining his flashlight to get a better look, but the doors were only open part
way and the face of whoever was there stayed hidden.
“Excuse me,” began Fred, “we’re here to—”
A grey cat suddenly bolted out of the house. It ran past the lawn and hid in a nearby
bush.
“Don’t worry,” said Fred, “I’ll get your cat back.”
After adjusted his utility belt, he went to where the cat was. The cat looked at him for
a brief moment but paid him no mind. It was busy chewing on something. As Fred bent
down, about to it up the feline, he reeled back. “Ted!” he yelled. “Get your ass over here
—now!”
“One second,” said Ted, and then he joined his partner. “What’s the matter?” he
asked.
Fred went to grab the cat, but it became spooked and bit him on the hand. “Christ!”
he yelled. Then as it ran off, Ted noticed that it left behind what was in its mouth. He
crouched down and prodded it with his night stick.
“This is not going to be a good night,” he said to himself. He activated the walkie-
talkie on his shoulder and spoke into it. “Uh, we got a possible one-eighty seven on our
hands…”
“Double check,” replied a voice. “Did you say a 187? What’s your location?”
“Yeah. A one-eighty seven. 56 Crescent Moon.”
“Okay. A unit’s on its way. Will medics be required?”
“Not sure yet. Send, anyways.”
“Anything else?”
“No.”
“Roger. Over and out.”
Fred and Ted nodded at each other, and slowly turned their heads, looking back at
house 56. The main door slammed shut. They quickly stood and jogged to the entrance.
They knocked loudly, then rang the door bell when that did not work.
“Ma’am or mister!” said Fred. “We will have to come in!”
Ted tried to open the storm door, but found it was closed. “Damn, it,” he said.
“Both’re probably locked.” So, without a second thought, he took measure into his own
hands and used his flashlight to smash off the handle (and lock)—it did the trick.
With the storm door out of the way, Fred and Ted had only the main door to deal
with. The main door though was much, much thicker. Too thick in fact, much to the
duo’s chagrin. It was some kind of security door, and was probably made out of steel or
some other equally tough material.
In spite of this conclusion, Ted thought he could still kick it open. Just like in the
movies. So after pulling open the storm door, and fiddling with the pneumatic closer (the
cylindrical device) and hold-open clip to keep it in position, he took several step backs…
and rushed forward with a kick!
Boing!
His foot bounced off it as if rubber.
He started to swear “Son of a—” but was stopped when Fred busted open the side
window with his trusty nightstick, allowing them to unlock the door with practically no
force. Ted had a dumbfounded “Why didn’t I think of that?” look on his face.
The duo cautiously entered the house. Their flashlights searched the main foyer and
saw nothing of suspicion. The place was clean
“Find the lights,” said Fred. “It’s still too dim in here.”
So Ted shone his flashlight and in a corner located a switch. He stumbled over to it
while his partner kept a lookout. He flipped the light switch into the ON position.
Nothing happened except for a blue spark behind the plate, which was followed by a bit
of smoke.
“No go,” he said to Fred.
Fred grimaced, “We’ll have to make do.”
The two went around the main floor the house, exploring mundane areas such as the
living room, the dining room, and the kitchen—nothing of importance was found. The
only thing notable was maybe the lack of family photos. Most homes, by Ted’s
observations, were full of family photos. This house had none.
As Fred looked through the refrigerator, footsteps were suddenly heard. They were
heavy but fast paced, and coming from downstairs. Fred put down the Dr. Pepper in his
hand, then he and Ted left the kitchen.
They went to the basement.
The basement was filled with boxes and all sorts of junk. It was hard for the duo to
tell where they were: a basement or a warehouse. Still, they carried on. They went
through the L-shaped space and found a room. The room had a red door which was
already partly open. They knocked, hoping for a response.
“We know you’re in there,” said Fred. (He didn’t actually know.) “If you come out
now, there won’t be any trouble.”
“Yeah,” added Ted. “Uh, we come in peace!”
There was no response but for the footsteps which were heard again. The two
decided they’d go in—so, they kicked the door open and charged through. What they
found was shocking and horrific.
Nah.
It was just a dog. A big, mangy mutt with big paws and a big slobbering tongue.
AND TEETH.
It jumped onto Fred…and started licking his face.
“Down boy,” he said, “down boy.”
The dog immediately stopped and sat obediently. Ted was relieved. He petted the
animal’s scruffy head.
“Hoo, for a second there,” he said, “I thought you were gonna bite off my friend’s
face.”
“You thought that?” said Fred. “And how come I never saw you reach for your
weapon?”
“You know what they say,” said Ted. “A trigger happy cop is a regretful cop.”
“I never heard that saying before, but okay. Glad to know you have my back.”
“You’re welcome.”
“Well, we better get—”
Fred was interrupted by a noise. DA-DOOM!
The sound of the footsteps returned. DA-DOOM! DA-DOOM! This time louder than
ever. So, it appeared that the dog was not the culprit after all.
Fred and Ted ran back upstairs, and then up to the second floor. The sound
continued, getting louder and louder. The duo stopped at last door at the very end of the
hallway. They switched their flashlights for their guns and went in, sure that time was of
the essence. When they entered the room what they saw made them nearly choke. A
putrid smell, like that of raw meat, entered their noses.
Standing still in the moonlight, with an axe in her hand, was Sarah. Sarah was
covered from head to toe in some sort of liquid. Water maybe? But it seemed a bit too
dark and bubbly. Whatever it was, it was thoroughly in her hair and dripping to the
ground. Drip, drip. Drip, drip. “Why the stares?” she asked in a cold tone.
Fred and Ted spotted buckets of water around and bleach.
That’s what Sarah was soaked in: water and bubbly bleach.
“Okaay,” said Fred in a slow tone, “just put the axe down. Put it down.” He repeated
himself. “Put it down.”
“Is there an echo in here?” asked Sarah. She looked coarse and worn down. She
seemed not herself. She seemed, as they would say, “out of it.” She continued speaking
nonsense, “I know, I know. Axing you the questions, when you should be axing me. But I
axe you this, why is a raven like a writing desk?”
Ted whispered, “I think she’s lost her mind.”
Fred whispered back, “She looks awfully familiar… Is she from the nuthouse?”
“YES!” said Sarah. “I came from the Walnut Home next to the Peanut Plaza! It’s full
of nutty goodness! Ah-ha-ha!”
Ted and Fred took a step back.
“Ah, what do we do?” asked Fred. “Should we tase ‘er? I think she’s a kid. I don’t
wanna tase a kid—even if she does have an axe.”
“I got an idea,” said Ted. Then he aimed his gun and, without much forethought,
pulled the trigger. He hoped to knock the axe out of Sarah’s hand…but instead his bullet
ricocheted and went astray in darkness. It made a clank sound and then there was light.
A lamp illuminated the room.
Ted screamed and nearly fell down. There was a hand—just a hand—rested on top of
his shoe. He kicked it off his foot and cried, “Christ!”
Fred didn’t react as much, but he too was scared.
There were body parts all over the place: a severed arm, feet, legs, eyes, ears, and
fingers. Most sickening of all were the mangled heads of Sarah’s parents. There was her
mom and her dad (or what was left of them) just laying there on the bed, resting upright
against each other.
A slew on entrails was also on the floor. And bits of guts on the ceiling. And two
empty torsos with the ribs showing.
Fred and Ted tried their best to stay calm…but they didn’t.
“Get down on the damn floor!” Fred yelled at Sarah with his gun pointed in the air.
But Sarah, who was lurching forward, did not listen. She had her axe above her head
and was muttering something along the lines of “Kill them all.”
Ted reached for his taser.

Chapter 21

Alan stood in the corner of the room, staring creepily at Laney as she watched TV.
“If you want the TV,” Laney said, “you’ll have to wait till ‘Jem and the Holograms’
is over.”
“No, thank you,” said Alan in a stoic tone.
“Why are you standing there?”
“Just thinking about things. School.”
“Could you think somewhere else?”
“You should be studying.”
“Boy, you’ve really changed since visiting that Chamber. What exactly did they do
to you? How’d you do that spell thingy to John?”
Alan edged a bit closer to Laney.
“You would know,” he said, “if you were studying. It’s in the advanced section at
the front of the Grendel Textbook.”
“I don’t have a Grendel Textbook.”
“Well, you should get one and study it.”
“I’ve studied enough for today. Go away. I’m vegging out.”
Alan went to Laney and sat beside her. He placed his hand on her knee. “Sis,” he
said, “I must insist we have a chat.”
“Not now,” said Laney. The commercial break came on. “Oh, alright. What is it?”
Alan had his hands folded in his lap. “Have you ever heard the saying ‘The truth will
set you free’?”
Laney looked nervous. “Alright!” she suddenly said. “I did it! I broke the vase!
There! Are you happy?!”
“I wasn’t talking about the vase.”
“Oh.”
“Now, you’re going to be mad at me when I tell you this—maybe you knew this
already, all along, I don’t know—but I’m going to tell you, anyway. Laney…”
The commercial break on TV finished. Laney went back to ignoring her brother.
“Eeeee!” she screamed. “Watch out for the Misfits, Jerrica Benton!”
Alan lost his patience, his Zen cool, and stood in front of the TV. “Laney!” he said
while flapping his arms. “For God’s sake! I have to tell you something! Can you just turn
off the TV for a minute… Tivo your program!”
“It is Tivoed,” Laney replied.
“What?”
“Yeah, I’ve got it recorded. Actually, I’ve seen this episode a few times already.”
“Omigod.”
“Sooo, what did you wanna talk about?”
Laney was still only half curious in what her brother had to say, and was pressing
buttons on the remote control in her hand, flipping through the channels to see if
something interesting was on—though she did lower the volume.
When Alan crouched by his little sister, and looked her dead-serious in the eyes, a
draft came into the living room; the area around became cold. “Laney,” he began. He
always began with Laney’s name when he was trying to say something of importance.
“Laney, I have to tell you the truth about dad.”
“Oh,” said Laney, “you already told me about it. I know. He was a secret agent and
he got kidnapped and murdered in Afghanistan. I’ve already come to terms with that. It’s
okay. You don’t have to tell me about it again.”
“Dad,” said Alan slowly, “wasn’t… He wasn’t murdered in Afghanistan.”
“Huh?”
“I made that up.”
“You’re… Ah-ha-ha-ha! You’re such a kidder! Oh, you!”
“I’m not kidding.”
“Really?”
“Yeah-huh.”
Laney stood up and brought Alan with her. She looked him square in the eyes. “Then
what happened to him?”
A heavy sigh came from Alan. And his words came out really fast. “Dad-wasn’t-
murdered-in-Afghanistan! He-ran-off-to-Vegas-and-hooked-up-with-a-stripper!”
Nothing was said for about a minute. And then Laney burst out, “He’s alive?! Why
didn’t you tell me?! What the hell is wrong with you?! You’re the worst brother in the
world! I hate you! I hate you! I hate you!”
“Laney, come on. We were going through hard times. I was trying to keep you in
good spirits.”
“You fink! You fibber! You politician!”
“Laney, I’m really, really sorry!”
“Okay. Apology accepted.”
“That’s it? You accept my apology? You’re not mad, Laney?”
“Yeeeah, I’ve actually known what happened to dad for a long time now, Alan. I just
pretended to not know, because I wanted to see you implode from guilt.”
“Jesus Christ. You’re a sadist.”
“Anyway, I have plans to see dad this month.”
“He contacted us? When?”
“No, no, no. I’m going to Las Vegas to search for him.”
“You’re joking.”
“Nope. I am not. I’ve already packed my bags.”
Laney pointed to a pile of luggage in the corner of the room.
“Oh,” said Alan, “that’s why those things were there.”
“Yep,” continued Laney. “I’ll be gone very soon.”
“You can’t go.”
“Why not?”
“Uh, aside from the dangers, we have a destiny to fulfill.”
“What destiny?”
“The big Spider—he told me we have to fulfill our destiny and stop the One.”
“The big spider?”
“Yeah. The big spider from the Chamber.”
“Okay. So, a big Spider from the ‘Chamber of Secrets’ told you that it was our
destiny to stop the One?”
“Pretty much.”
“Well, I don’t care about the One… I don’t even care about school. And I certainly
don’t care about stopping demons or whatever… I want to see dad.”
“BUT we HAVE to stop the One.”
“Who cares about the One! So what if he obliterates a couple million people! There’s
a heaven, right? Everything will be fine.”
Alan sat Laney down. “You don’t understand,” said Alan. “The One is not just a
killer. He’s a destroyer. He wipes you out of existence. No soul. Nothing. You’re
completely gone. If he gets to you, there is no after life. It’s an atheist’s wet dream.”
Laney was stubborn. “I don’t believe in fate,” she said. “I don’t believe in destiny.
I’m a kid. I don’t have to stop demons. I don’t have to stop the evils of the world. I don’t
have to do anything. If all those adults think stopping this fabled One character is so
important, well, then they can just do it themselves or get someone else from the school
to do it. There are a ton kids who are far more capable. I hate to say it, but even John
could do the job.”
As Alan was about to retort, raising his finger, the TV suddenly caught his attention.
He’d seen a piece of it in his peripheral. He turned his body. The news commentator,
T.G. Winters, was expounding the depravity of modern society. There were horrific
pictures flashing behind him.
“Oh, Lord,” he said in a grumbling tone. “Would you look at that? What has this
world come to?! This is goddamn terrible. Ergh, I can feel my stomach going into knots
already.”
“Boy,” said Laney, “this guy really hates Miley Cyrus. So what if she won a
Grammy?”
T.G. Winters finished his diatribe and the credits on his program began to roll. The
real news (without opinion and haphazard guesses) came on. It was just about 6 o’clock.
The theme song, which was reminiscent of 1980s action movies, played; then after a
woman with a beautiful voice came on.
She was a long-haired ginger who introduced herself as Jacky Fawcett. Jacky
Fawcett was a late twenties woman, a diva really, who encompassed all the desires of
men. She had soft, luscious lips with a matching voice. Bright crystal-like eyes. Curvy
hips. Big you-know-whats. And a killer butt.
Now Alan could not not pay attention. His eyes were fixated on the screen with his
favorite news anchor. Laney, though, was less enthusiastic.
“Today in the news,” Jacky Fawcett said, speaking to the camera as if it were a
person, “a local family torn apart—in the most literal sense imaginable. A teenage girl
has been arrested for the possible murders of both her parents, mother and father, who
were found beheaded and eviscerated in her bedroom. Due to the Young Offender’s Act,
the identity of this girl cannot be revealed; however, due to the constitution, we can show
our viewer’s an artist’s rendering of said possible-murderer.”
An image of a pencil sketch appeared in the upper right-hand corner of the TV
screen, just above Jacky Fawcett’s head.
Alan and Laney squealed.
“No way,” said Alan. “No way, man.”
“This…no,” said Laney, “I don’t believe it!”
The two got off the couch and ran to the TV for a closer look. They held hands with
their mouths wide-open. Their good friend, Sarah, was the murderer. (Of course, you
knew this already if you’d been paying attention.)
Laney was in a panicked mood and rushed to the phone rested on the table not too far
away. She quickly dialed the number for Sarah’s house, but it seemed no one was there.
Many rings went unanswered, and as she was about to hang up, a voice said “hello.”
“Who is this?” it asked.
“Is Sarah there?” replied Laney.
The voice, which sounded awfully queer, replied with a “no” and hung up.
“Was she there?” Alan asked.
Laney shook her head.
Then the doorbell suddenly rang.
Ding-dong!
It was rapid in fashion.
Ding-dong! Ding-dong!
Something urgent, maybe?
Alan and Laney hastened to the front of the mansion, where they spied through the
peephole of the door; however, it was fogged up from the damp weather outside. So
Laney, against her brother’s advisement, answered the door. It swung open hard and
knocked over the canister of umbrellas that stood to the side.
A bunch of journalists, maybe a dozen or so, were standing outside with lights, mics,
and cameras. They buzzed around Laney.
“Are you Laney?” they asked. “Laney Harris? Sarah Ling’s best friend? You are
aware of what happened to her, yes?”
“Yes, yes, yes, and yes,” said Laney. “But I really—”
They interrupted her for more questions. “What was it like growing with a
psychopath?”
“She is NOT a psychopath.”
“And what makes you so sure about that? She murdered her parents! We’re talking
the reincarnation of LB here.”
“First of all, I don’t know what the term LB means. Second of all, she did not murder
her parents. That is to be determined through due process and the judiciary system.”
“So, do you think she’ll be the next Hitler?”
“What? What’re you talking about? What’s this gotta do with Hitler? Are you guys
from Fox News or what’s the deal here?”
Alan took Laney aside. “Laney, you don’t need to talk to these people,” he said in a
low, crummy tone. “Just tell them to go away. We have important things to do.”
Laney, who wasn’t adverse to attention, told the journalist to go away in her most
docile voice. “I really apologize for the inconvenience,” she said, “but it’s a school day
tomorrow, and I—”
“Did you say ‘school’?” one journalist asked, interrupting. “’Cause I looked up
information on you and your friend, and I haven’t found a thing in regards to your
educational whereabouts.”
Laney tried to answer, her mouth was half-open, but Alan pulled her aside (again)
before she could even utter a single word. “Rule number one of the Dragon School,” he
whispered. “DO NOT talk about the Dragon School!”
So, with lights shining, cameras rolling, and mics in her face, Laney properly
addressed the journalists… She gave them all a good shove, toppling them like dominoes,
and slammed shut the door (though the knocks and talking still continued outside.)
“A little rude, don’t you think?” said Alan.
Laney grumbled “You’re never satisfied with anything!” then went off in a huff.

Chapter 22

After leaving the confessional at St. Kevin’s church, Thompson followed Father Felix
through the backdoors that led into a hallway. They went straight to the entrance of the
annex, which was housing and recreational space for the parish.
The door was unlocked with a key around Father Felix’s neck. Then he and
Thompson entered the main foyer. There was a strong odor of musk, mothballs, whiskey,
and cigarettes (i.e. old people smell). The two went to the living room and sat down on
the pew, a hardwood bench, positioned in front of a ratty, coffee table. Thompson
glanced at the wall and noticed the loads of garish religious paraphernalia.
“I know it’s not the best of places,” said Father Felix, “but church attendance has
been on the decline. We haven’t enough to even repair the leak in the roof. This is the last
place to spend money on.”
“I understand that,” said Thompson, “but why do you think attendance is down?”
“Technology I suppose. Younger people are used to having everything so fast. They
want life’s lessons to be summed up in less than a minute. An hour a week—even half an
hour a week—is too much for them.”
“I don’t know what to do about that, but I will be making a donation.”
“Oh?”
“Yes.”
Father Felix rose to his feet. “That’s very kind of you. Well, I’m going to put on a
pot of tea now.” He paused. “Or would you rather have coffee?”
Thompson shook his head. “Tea is just fine. Thank you.”
So, Father Felix left and went to the kitchen where he prepared a pot of tea. As he
waited for the water to boil, for the teabags to release their flavor, he noticed something
by the window. He stuck his head forward with a squint. “My eyes must be deceiving
me,” he said. Then he went back to the pot of tea which was by now ready and, with cups
carried it to the living room.
All things were promptly set down on the coffee table.
“No biscuits?” Thompson said jokingly.
“No,” replied Father Felix in a stern voice. “I’m afraid not.”
Thompson felt as if he had made a gaffe. Without any more words, he poured tea for
two, then took a sip from his cup. He went “mmm” when the hot liquid went down his
throat.
“So,” said Father Felix, finally breaking the silence, “how goes the quest?”
“Ah, not to my liking,” replied Thompson.
“Why? What happened?”
“I thought I found the third of four.”
“Thought?”
“You knew her I believe. The tall one named Sarah. She’s been accused of
murdering her parents. I’m not certain, but they may try her as an adult. I very well think
she’s going to go away for a very long time.”
“The girl’s clearly been possessed by a demon.”
“Maybe that isn’t the case.”
“Oh?”
“Her behavior is completely normal. No, it doesn’t seem as if she is possessed by a
demon…perhaps only influenced by one. You know, influence can go a long way in a
bad situation. Her parents were neglectful folks, and quite verbally abusive. I can see why
someone like that would snap. I’m betting she bottled all of her emotions.”
Father Felix picked up his cup of tea from the coffee table, which was now cooled
down at this point. “It’s a bad idea to bottle one’s emotions.”
Thompson fidgeted. “This really shouldn’t have happened. I hate the idea of the
town powers being involved in this. The public may come to know of what is out there
lurking—and that would cause mass hysteria. But, alas, the situation wasn’t as
convenient as the time at the hospital. I was there and the cleanup crew came around
quite fast. We blamed the situation on a rabid wolf. Hmm, I’m quite surprised there
wasn’t much news coverage on that. Ah, wait, I remember now. It was during the World
Cup.”
“And how’s school going for the two?” asked Father Felix.
“Very slow,” replied Thompson. “It’s not like when I went. Now there’s legal
liabilities and all that mumbo jumbo. They’re being taught so slow—everything practical
they learn has a warning or some appendage of text, which is mandatory to know.”
“Then you need to pick up the slack.”
“But I’m so busy.”
“Who else will do it?”
“Well, where should I begin?”
“Weaponry is the most important in my opinion. Demons and night creatures can
repel spells and hallowed magic from a novice…and even an expert. They must learn to
use weapons and the mindset that comes along with it.”
“You’re right. I can’t waste anymore time. The undead are growing in numbers.
Everyone would be deceased by now if it weren’t for the lack of nightlife in this boring
town.”
“It’s hip to be a square.”
“Sure is…”
“So, do they know about their uncle returning from the grave?”
“Father Felix, one traumatic situation at a time. They’re going through so much right
now. I don’t want to worry them. The two buggers can hardly sleep as it is. If they knew
all that went on…”
“Thompson, they’re already knee deep in what’s going on. You can’t hide the truth
from them. You will regret it.”
The pot of tea finished. Thompson placed his cup down on the coffee table. “I know
it seems wrong,” he said, “especially since I belong to an organization that expounds the
morality of honesty. But I’ve taken up guardianship and I think it’s the right thing to do
right now. I don’t want to put too much on their plate, so to speak.”
Father Felix, too, placed his cup down on the coffee table. “I respect your decision,”
he said. “However, I think you—and many other adults—underestimate the ability of
children. They’re curious. They like to explore. Whatever you hide will be uncovered,
eventually.”
Thompson got to his feet with a slight groan. While he respected his friend’s
opinions, he was not the sort who enjoyed lectures. “Well, would you look at the time,”
he said. “I must be going now. Felix, it was nice seeing you again.” He then went into his
coat pocket and handed an envelope to Father Felix.
“A letter?” Father Felix asked, somewhat surprised.
“A donation,” replied Thompson. “It should tide you over till things are straightened
out. I’m sure Church attendance will rise very soon.”
“And why would it?”
“Have some faith.”
“Ho, your cruelty knows no bounds.”
“Heh. I’ll see you on Sunday.”
Thompson and Father Felix shook hands.
When Thompson let himself out, Father Felix gathered what was left on the coffee.
He carried everything to kitchen and put the cups and pot into the old, corroded sink. He
turned on the faucet. As he washed up, he looked out the window. What he had seen
before had returned, though it was now clearer. There was a shadowy figure milling
about with its arms out, looking for something.
Father Felix debated with himself whether or not he should check it. The hour was
late and he was an old man, he figured, but his curiosity was piqued. Perhaps the man—it
was likely a man—was lost and in trouble. Perhaps he was mentally disabled, homeless,
or just looking to speak with one of the clergy.
Whatever the case, Father Felix was obligated to help. He went to the sliding door
that led outside into the yard. He pulled open the purple blinds. The shadowy figure could
be seen in even more detail than before. The shadowy figure was no longer shadowy, but
well lit in orange under the street lamp that was not so far away. The figure was a
woman. She was average height, had short hair, dark skin, and pursed lips. Her clothes
looked quite tattered.
What was she doing out like this? Father Felix opened the sliding door to found out.
Between him and her now was only a thin mesh-screen. “Hullo,” he called out. “Do you
need any help? We haven’t much here, but we are always willing to lend a hand with
whatever we can.”
The woman did not respond. All she did was circle around, aimlessly. Father Felix at
this point was quite concerned. He slid the mesh-screen away and stepped outside in
furry slippers. “Young lady,” he continued calling. “Are you lost? Do you need
directions?” He hobbled forward. He could hear the woman breathing loudly.
And he could see her much better than before. She was sick looking with pale,
mottled skin, a slack jaw, and well sunk in eyes.
Father Felix called out again. “Young lady!”
This time his voice registered into the woman’s ears, and she turned around and
started moving in his direction. At first only slowly, only shuffling, but then her speed
picked up. And she became faster, and faster, and faster, till she was running as fast as an
Olympian athlete. Then she leapt into the air, a height of at least three stories, and opened
her mouth to reveal her long fangs.
Now there was no doubt that she was an undead creature, a monster that some might
call a vampire, but from where did she come? Father Felix—in the few seconds his brain
tried to make sense of the situation—figured she was infected by Trevor, Trevor who was
possessed by the demon named Necro, Trevor who hid in the shadows and preyed on the
unaware.
Father Felix yelled as he was knocked down by the undead woman. He crawled
helplessly along the grass, praying for God’s help. “God help me,” he said. “I am in my
time of need.” The undead woman, however, did not heed this. She took Father Felix by
the neck and pinioned him against a tree. She licked his face with her long tongue.
“Let go,” Father Felix said in choking voice. “You wench of the night!” As the veins
along his face bulged, he reached into his side pocket and obtained a pocket Bible. He
turned it to *Ezekiel 25:17, then pressed it against the undead woman’s face. The words
left a burn mark on her skin. She screeched and reeled back from the pain.
(*“I will carry out great vengeance on them and punish them in my wrath. Then they
will know that I am the Lord when I take vengeance on them.”)
Father Felix, now free, hurried back into the house. He went into the kitchen and
closed the sliding door behind him. The undead woman tried following, but was stopped
at the glass. She slobbered onto it and stared through with her deep, yellow eyes. “Lucky,
old man,” she said in a repugnant tone that was unique only to demons and those infected
or possessed by demons. “But your time will come soon. So, let me in now and spare
yourself the drama. Let me in, Let me in.”
“Feck off!” Father Felix said as he hastened to the kitchen cupboards, where he
stretched out his arm and swung open a door. And then he searched for something with
his fingers, only stopping when he felt something cold and hard in grasp. He promptly
ran back to the area by the sliding doors. He faced the undead woman with a gun in his
hand: a six-bullet, loaded revolver to be (more) exact.
As he aimed, he trembled ever so slightly. Never before had he used a weapon of this
sort. It made him nervous, and he thought that his aim would be off. But he aimed,
regardless of his incompetence, and readied to pull the trigger of his Colt Anaconda.
Then BLAM-O! He fired.
And a bullet went through the sliding door’s glass, shattering it, and hit the undead
woman square in the forehead. She fell backwards and hit the ground with a thunk. Father
Felix went to check on her and saw black blood oozing from her forehead. When he
tapped her with his foot, she twitched once and rolled onto her front. Then, at an
unusually quick pace, rigor-mortis set in.
“What a lucky shot,” he said. “I really thought these undead creatures would be
harder to defeat.” He crouched down and flipped over the body of the undead woman. He
looked her in the face with sympathy. “Poor girl. She was probably once beautiful.” Then
he shot her again in the head to make sure she was a goner.

Chapter 23

The bus ride today seemed extra long; Alan and Laney sat in the back, in the seat across
from Aiyana, and John who kept glaring.
While Alan was aware of these nasty looks, he kept his head forward and paid little
attention. He ignored his “foe” in a mature attempt to keep the peace, but this only
infuriated John even more.
Meanwhile, amidst this tension, Laney was quietly reading with two books sitting in
her lap. One was the Dragon School textbook, appropriate for her grade, and the other
was a Las Vegas travel guide. Mostly she was absorbed with the travel guide. There were
interesting pictures in it, and no depressing talk about the end of the mankind.
“Hmm,” she said while turning pages.
Aiyana, the blonde girl, fiddled her thumbs and stared at the ceiling while prepping
her mind for the upcoming test, which would be both theoretical and practical. The
students at this point were coming along steadily. John interrupted her with a nudge.
“Look at those two,” he said before she could reply, “will you just look at ‘em? They
think they’re so damn cool.”
Aiyana glanced at Alan. He saw her eyes and gave her a friendly, little wave. She
naturally returned the gesture.
“What’re you doing?” said John with a temper in his tone. “Don’t get friendly with
the enemy.”
“Enemy,” repeated Aiyana. “Oh, no, we’re friends… I think. I sent him a friend
request on Facebook. Let’s see if he approves.”
“And why would you want to be friends with a sucker like that?”
“He seems nice enough. Plus, he’s good at doing magic. Not a lot of people are good
at that. It’s a lost art, mostly. I might like to ask for his advice one day.”
“So, what’s the matter then? Am I not good enough? I caught a demon for
Chrissake! You think I don’t know spells from Church bells? I know a lot of stuff. If only
you’d ask.”
“Okay then. Will you help me out with my magic? I also need a homework buddy
for theology.”
“Nah. I don’t have the time.”
“But you just said…”
“Never mind what I said!” John got miffed while watching another student
complimenting Alan and Laney.
While the two weren’t smiling, they did seem jolly. And though their popularity had
declined somewhat since the incident where they defeated John, most kids still
remembered who they were. It really was quite a big deal to defeat someone like John
who was considered, at least before, the top student at the Dragon School. People used to
think that he would be part of the Four (destined to defeat the One).
This greatly annoyed John. Everything he worked for was deteriorating. And his
reputation now, as far as he was concerned, was soiled. If only his temper and ego hadn’t
gotten in his way. But before the arrival of Alan and Laney, he was confident and
charming; he had a sense of superiority in holy magic and theology. Too bad these traits
went away whenever his temper flared, which was always caused be feelings of
inferiority.
John got up from his seat and was about to confront Alan. He could no longer stay
still. He felt he had to do something…something to get revenge. He hadn’t any plans in
his minds, thus far, but he figured he could just wing it. But as he squeezed past Aiyana,
to get to the aisle, he accidentally tripped when the school bus hit a bump on the road. He
went flat on the floor. He quickly returned to his feet, trying to act cool, as if nothing
happened; however, the situation could not be salvaged. The kids were already in
laughter. While what happened wasn’t particularly funny or amusing, they were
incredibly bored. A funny noise would’ve made them giggle.
“Are you alright?” Aiyana asked John.
John went back into his seat, responding only with a grumble. He took out a red
notebook from his backpack and started scribbling into it. His hand motions indicated
that he was writing.
At this time, Laney was whispering to Alan. “Why don’t you console him?” she
suggested. “Maybe we can put this whole thing behind us. It’s becoming exhaustive—
and I swear he’s up to something.” She looked at John who was now grinning evilly.
“Nuh-uh,” said Alan. “I’m not gonna forgive that jerk. Hey, but maybe if he stops
being a jerk.”
“Come on, Alan.”
“Laney, what don’t you understand about ‘nuh-uh’? ‘Nuh-uh’ means ‘nuh-uh’!”
As the two argued, the bus driver was honking the bus’s horn; the Laidlaw was
caught in a traffic jam. An ice-cream truck at the crossroad ahead had been overturned. It
laid flat on its side, waiting for the CAA tow truck.
The students quickly became bored. They opened their windows and stuck out their
heads. They teased the motorists who were, unfortunately, beside them. They did a series
of rude gestures, of which included the middle finger—rude, little bastards, especially
considering that they had stronger than usual religious backgrounds.
The bus driver, who was nicknamed Bugsy, marched to the rear of the bus. His
uniform’s cap went slightly off his head. He saw a boy rudely gesturing through the
window and yanked him down by the collar. “Now, see here, children,” he said. “This
sorta behavior will not be tolerated. You kids best straighten yah acts, if yah know what’s
good for yah…or there’s gonna be trouble, lotsa trouble. Y’ever see that movie, Battle
Royale?”
Alan turned his head to the right and looked out the window. Traffic, finally, was
moving along. Also moving: the hands of motorists who were honking their horns.
Honk! Honk
“Move your bloody bus!” someone shouted.
Bugsy shouted back. “Don’t make me come down there!” Then he returned to the
front of the bus and took his seat behind the wheel. After turning the key, he stepped on
the gas pedal. The bus puttered down the road till it came to the intersection. The
intersection was in a very poor area of Rexville. There was lots of graffiti, but nothing too
tasteful, mostly Banksy-inspired “works of art.”
Aiyana watched a homeless man pushing around a cart. “Boy,” she said, “what a
miserable life he must have.” She went into her backpack and took out her lunch, which
was held in a brown bag that contained: a Nutella sandwich (no crust), a bottle of half
orange juice and half lemonade, a packet of crisps, and a ripe banana.
John snickered when she offered it to the homeless man. He somehow knew how
he’d respond.
“Would you like some food?” Aiyana asked with her hand dangling outside the
window.
The homeless man took the bag and tossed it aside. “Wha’s this, a joke?” He had an
unusual way of speaking where he dropped certain letters, but it was not a speech
impediment. “I dun need no food! Food’s all o’er the place! I gots dumps’ers chock full
o’ goodies! I want money! Gimme money!”
“I don’t have money,” Aiyana replied. “I’m a student.”
“Student shmoodent! Yer holdin’ out on me!”
“No, I’m not. I’d never.”
“Liar, liar, pan’s on fryer!”
“I’m not lying.”
“Yar, yar, yar, tha’s what they all say!”
John closed the window. “Just ignore him,” he said to Aiyana. “He’s not worth your
time.”
Aiyana replied, “I just wanted to help.”
Up ahead, Bugsy was keeping a careful eye on the traffic lights. The red circle just
sat there, almost as if it were mocking him. “See here—” he began in an irritable tone,
but then the lights suddenly turned green. He promptly stepped on the gas pedal and…
nothing happened. He tried again. The engine sounded strain.
The noise it made was: Huuurrrr, huuuurrr, huuuuur!
Bugsy slid open his window and looked outside. There was a pool of brown water
gathered near the front wheels of the bus. Something was definitely leaking. He thought
about it for a moment and thought that maybe he could solve the problem. No, he was
feeling too tired and instead decided to call for help.
His cell-phone, however, was not working. “Damn it,” he grumbled.
He stood and turned to the kids. “Anyone’s got a cell-phone handy?” he asked.
Nobody responded. They all just gave a blank stare. “See here,” he said, “one of yous has
got to have a cell-phone on yah.”
“We’re not allowed to have cell-phones,” Aiyana replied.
“Yah kiddin’ me,” said Bugsy.
“No, sir. I’d never kid you.”
“Okay, how we gonna—dang it. I’ll be back. Don’t any of yous stir up trouble.”
Bugsy pointed to Alan. “You’re in charge, kid.” And then he left.
Alan jerked his head left and right, and before he could utter a word, the bus
exploded into chaos. The students went wild, screaming, shouting, throwing paper
airplanes, talking on their cell-phones, chewing gum, jumping up and down, and
generally just doing the opposite of what every adult ever forbade them to do.
“I see you have everything under control,” said John sarcastically.
“I do,” said Alan. He whispered to Laney, “What should I do?”
“Not sure,” replied Laney. “Well, if men have taught me anything, it’s that the
solution to your problems is to ‘man up.’”
On these words, Alan took to the front of the bus and spread out his arms, ready to
address all who had ears. “Fellow students,” he said. “If we could only have a modicum
of civility, that would—” A banana hit him in the head, and everyone went back to what
they were doing.
Defeated—by a piece of fruit—Alan slinked back to his seat and covered his ears
from all the noise. Laney punched him in the arm. “Nice try, champ.”
John laughed beside Aiyana.
Just then Bugsy returned. He took off his cap and laid it on the dash.
“Did you find a phone?” someone asked.
“Course I find a phone,” said Bugsy. “A payphone—with the cord hacked off.” He
slapped his hands together. “So! Who wants to help push the bus?”
A mysterious tumbleweed rolled through the bus.
Bugsy continued, still failing to convince even a single person to push the bus. “It
only needs to be pushed till we reach the declination in the road. From there it’ll carry
itself.” He tapped his foot, waiting for at least a response or an apology. “See here,” he
said, “if no one helps, we are going to be stuck here. Do you want to be stuck here in this
rotten part of town?”
John raised his hand to volunteer, hoping to look heroic. Since no one else was
volunteering, he figured, Bugsy would not make him push the bus alone. He could avoid
all the hard work, but get credit for trying to help.
Such plans, however, tend to backfire. Other raised their hands to volunteer,
including Alan, Laney, and Aiyana.
“Crap,” said John.
“Great,” said Bugsy.

So, John, Alan, Laney, Aiyana, and a few others, found themselves behind the bus with
their hands against the back, poised to push. They were now just waiting for Bugsy to
give the signal. They stuck close to one another, afraid to get shanked by a random, shady
character.
John and Alan were at opposite ends.
“You think you can manage?” John asked. “Your arms look like wet noodles.”
“Yeah,” said Alan, trying to keep his temper at bay. “I’ll be fine.”
The girls, Aiyana and Laney, were getting along just fine.
Aiyana introduced herself. “I’m Aiyana,” she said. “What’s your name?”
“I’m Laney,” said Laney. “Nice to meet you.”
Bugsy had an arm out window. He banged the side of the bus with his hand. “Okay!”
he yelled. “In three, two—”
And on “ONE!” everyone started pushing. All the kids grunted and broke out into a
sweat; understandably so, since the bus weighed over 20,000 pounds. They dug their
heels into the asphalt ground, and pot holes whenever those appeared.
“Put your back into it!” said Alan.
“My back is going to break!” said Laney.
And the kids again gave their best effort to push the bus, but it ultimately proved too
much for them. They had hardly got it more than a few feet away from its original spot.
They weren’t even past the traffic lights. Thankfully, the cars around were mostly gone
because rush hour had just finished.
Bugsy’s voice called, “What’s the matta (matter)?!”
“That’s it,” said John. “Everyone step aside. I’m going to use magic.”
“You can’t,” said Alan. “We’re not allowed—unless we’re helping someone.”
“And who is someone? We’re someone! Everyone in that bus is someone!”
“This is selfish use of magic.”
“This isn’t magic. Magic is what David Copperfield and Melissa Joan Heart do. This
is HOLY MAGIC. It has JC’s seal of approval. Now, get that through your skull, man.”
“I won’t let you.”
Laney interrupted, “Come on, Alan. Just let him try. My arms are killing me.”
Alan gave everyone a quick look. They all looked exhausted. At any moment they
were soon to groan and drop to the ground. “Alright,” he said. “…Fine.” Then he, Laney,
Aiyana, and the others returned inside the bus.
John was left outside to do his magic. He went into his pocket and took out the
conveniently sized Grendel Textbook. He blew off the dust on the leather cover—it was
always mysteriously gathering dust—and opened it somewhere about the middle. He
searched under the chapter title “forces.” His finger ran along to the bottom. The words
were in Hebrew, so it took him a little more than a minute to translate.
“Okay, bus,” he said. “I don’t like you and you don’t like me. But by the end of this
someone is gonna be Rowling.” Then he took out his crucifix, held it with a straight arm,
and chanted in Hebrew. Translated into English it roughly said: “Move your big
caboose!”
The bus stood still for a second, and then started to sway. The children inside felt its
motion; some who fine with it, but some became sick.
John, who thought he’d done the spell improperly, said the spell again. This time he
repeated himself with much more determination. And when the spit was done flying out
of his mouth, it worked. The bus, after spewing blackness from its tailpipe, was rolling its
wheels. At first quite slowly, but then faster and faster. John waved his arms while trying
to catch up. “Hey!” he said. “Hey!”
Nobody saw or heard him. Most were just keeping to themselves, relieved to be
getting away from the bad part of town. And the one person who should have noticed,
Aiyana, had fallen asleep. Pushing the bus had made her tired. Understandably so, since
the only physical work she was used to doing was writing lengthy papers with a pencil.

The bus left John behind. It was gone and out of site. He looked around, unsure what to
do. He ran into a telephone booth that he spotted in his peripheral. But when he picked up
the receiver, he found it was detached (hacked off) from the box to connect calls. He
threw it down with a “damn it.”
As the situation seemed not able to get any worse, the homeless man, who he earlier
shut the bus window on, appeared. “You’re ‘hat school kid,” he said while pressing his
scruff face onto the glass. “So your friends left you behind, ‘uh? Probably ‘cause you’re a
jerk. I knew you ‘ere a jerk the first time I saw yah.”
“Leave me alone,” said John with brave front. “I’m trying to make a call. Can’t you
see!” He held the receiver in his slightly quivering hand.
“‘Ey,” said the homeless man, “don’t touch that.”
“And why not?”
“I use ‘hat to wipe my arse.”
“Huh?”
“You’re in my toilet!”
“Oh, Jesus!”
John leapt out of the telephone booth, quite literally, and ran in any direction he
could. He wailed while hastening down the road. Even though a car nearly hit him, he
never once stopped spinning his legs. He kept going.

Out of breath and tired, John lurched onto the landfill. He went past a group of seagulls
picking at a trash bag and went into one of the porta-potties. He closed the door behind
himself and pressed the chrome handle on the toilet in front. After several beeps, he was
whisked into the school through the disguised elevator/lift. He walked past the Dragon-
Angel statue and went into the hallways. The lady in the orange vest waved “hello” to
him, but he did not return the gesture. He was too angry to notice. He grumbled all the
while walking. “Frkrrkakdkkkakzkzkaksfdaksdfksdf.” Something like that.
Ms. Someen came from around the corner. There were papers tucker under her arm.
“What are you doing here?” she asked. She asked her question again, but in a louder
voice. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE?”
“What do you mean?” replied John. “I’m going to the Halo (Auditorium).”
“There aren’t any classes today,” said Ms. Someen.
“Huh?”
“School’s cancelled for the day; we’re dealing with a rat infestation. What’re you
doing here? Are you looking Mr. Rainwater? He’s busy…probably up to no good.”
“What does that mean?”
“Oh, nothing. He’s just trying to win the teacher of the year award. He’ll do anything
to outshine me.”
“Well, I don’t think it’ll take much to beat you.”
Ms. Someen went to John and stared at him with narrowed eyes. “Go home, young
man.”

So, John did just that. He left the school and caught a public bus. Paying about half the
sum of a deluxe lunch at McRonald’s, he went to the very back. It would be a fairly long
ride home, since there were so many stops, and different people getting on and off. It was
tedious to say the least.
John used his free time to sketch in his red notebook. His tight hand wrote notes and
drawings and diagrams onto white sheets of paper. The majority of content was his plans
to return to his former glory, and destroying Alan and Laney in a mostly figurative sense.
He snickered while writing flaming messages and ideas. He had a plan to throw pig’s
blood onto Laney during prom. This was something he got from a novel called “Carrie.”
It was quite impractical though, considering that there wasn’t even going to be a prom at
the Dragon School.
Chapter 24

Thompson’s friend, the shop owner named Mu-chin, sat idly on the sofa while keeping an
eye on Alan and Laney. The two, who were sitting opposite to him, were exchanging
whispers. While they knew the old, Asian man had a bit of a hearing problem, they
thought it would be better to be safe.
“Man,” said Alan, “this guy don’t let us do anything.”
“I know,” said Laney. “Doesn’t he know it’s our right to party? Or at least watch
some TV? I already finished my homework. What’s his problem?”
“We need to get out of here.”
“How? He’s watching us like a hockey game.”
“I have a plan.”
“Is it a good plan?”
“When you have no plan, any plan is a good plan.”
“I don’t like the sound of this.”
“You don’t have to like it for it to work.”
Alan got up and stood in front of Mu-Chin. “Uncle,” he said. (For some Chinese
folk, calling your elders “uncle” is a sign of respect.) “Would you like a cup of tea to
drink?”
“Oh, so polite,” Mu-chin answered. “But I am not thirsty. Thank you.”
“It would be no trouble at all,” said Alan.
“Ah, no. I do not want to impose… Relax. Sit down. With your sister.”
“You’re my guest. It would be rude of me to not offer anything.”
“Well…”
“I insist.”
“Okay.”
“What sort of tea would you like?”
“What do you have?”
Alan didn’t know what tea they had in the house; though he saw Thompson drinking
it on occasion, he never really paid attention, nor did he take note of the contents of the
kitchen cupboards. His liquid sustenance tended to come right from the refrigerator, and
not a bunch of dried leaves. “Um, everything,” he replied.
“Everything?” Mu-chin repeated.
“Yes.”
“Then I will have oolong, thank you.”
Alan left the living room and went into the kitchen. He pushed up a chair to the
counters and stood on top of it to search the cupboards. There were many things inside:
pickled eggs, preserves, herbs, spices, and even dried lizard, but nothing that looked liked
tea or “oolong.”
Alan saw a little plant in the corner of the eye. He got down from the chair he stood
on and went over to it. He was certain that it was a tea bush. “Could I boil this and make
tea?” he thought. He found a pair of scissors, cut the leaves, and put it into a big cup.
When he poured hot water onto it, it gave off an aroma like that of tea. “Good enough,”
he said. Then he poured in lots of cream and sugar. He figured that this would make his
guest, Mu-chin, quite relaxed and therefore sleepy.
Laney sat up straight when Alan returned to the living room. He politely gave Mu-
chin the piping hot tea.
Mu-chin blew on it and took a sip. “I don’t think this is oolong,” he said, “but it is
good tea. Thank you.” He drank till it was all gone.
Alan sat by Laney. “What’s this plan of yours?” she whispered.
“Warm liquids make you sleepy,” said Alan. “So I heard.”
“That’s the grand plan? We’re betting that’ll he fall asleep because you gave him a
cup of Red Rose?”
“It’s not Red Rose. There was no Red Rose—or Lipton’s for that matter. I had to use
some leaves from that tea shrub on the counter.”
“Tea shrub? That’s not a tea shrub.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah.”
A loud scream was heard—“YEAAAGH!”—which made Alan and Laney nearly fall
down. Mu-chin was hopped up on whatever he’d drunk, and he was, quite literally,
bouncing off the walls. His eyes were wild and he kept shouting at the ceiling. It seemed
to have some significance, but unfortunately he only spoke in Mandarin Chinese.
Laney elbowed Alan, “Look what you did!”
Alan tried getting Mu-chin to relax. “Mr. Chin,” he said in a calm tone. “If you
would just—”
Mu-chin relentlessly did back flips and cartwheels and star-jumps. “La-la-la!” he
kept screaming. “La-la-la!” He picked up objects, whatever was around, and hurled them
in random directions. Many vases were broken.
Laney covered her head while scolding Alan. Each word she said was paused by
each crash she heard. “Alan. You. Idiot. Look. What. You’ve. Done. Do. Something…!”
“No need for name calling,” said Alan while chasing after Mu-Chin. “Sticks and
stones.” He dove to save fragile tchotchkes (pronounced: chawch-keys, a Yiddish word
for: trinkets) and an assortment of glass objects from shattering. There was only so much
he could do though; his reflexes were neither fast nor catlike.
Laney put her hands over her eyes.
Mu-chin left the living room and went elsewhere to wreak havoc. He was absolutely
mad, and there was little Alan could do stop him; Alan was a small fellow and the old
man was in surprisingly great shape. Likely he did Tai-chi, or Yoga, or one of those
activities for senior citizens.
The front entrance door to the mansion suddenly swung open as Alan was pulling at
his hair. “I’m home,” said Thompson. He saw his friend, Mu-chin, passed out on the
floor. “What in the world?” He looked around and saw all the destruction that had
happened: the cracked floor tiles, the dozens of holes in the wall, and an assortment of
smashed objects.
Thompson said nothing at first, only giving Alan a stare of disapproval.
Alan nervously scratched the back of his head while trying to explain. “Well, see, er,
the thing is,” he said, “I, I, I boiled some leave from that shrub you had in the kitchen. I
thought it was tea.”
“Actually, it is tea,” said Thompson. “The trippy kind, though.” He took in a deep
breath. “Where is your sister?”
“I don’t know,” said Alan. “Hey, am I in trouble?”
“I’m quite a relaxed, fella, most of the time, but this is too much. As your guardian I
must discipline you.”
“And how will you discipline me? A spanking?”
“I’d rather not touch your rear end. I think I am going to ground you. Let’s say a
week or so? That sound fair?”
“If I say ‘no’ will you reduce my punishment?”
“No.”
“Alright then, I guess I can’t do anything. Shall I go to my room?”
Thompson left and returned with a broom. “Here,” he said, handing it to Alan. “You
can head upstairs after you clean up.”

Chapter 25

The courts tried Sarah as an adult, and, consequently, she was sentenced to prison for the
murders of both her parents. (This all happened incredibly fast, by the judge who was
time obsessed and inordinately efficient.) Although she pleaded not-guilty, there was
nothing that said she didn’t do them in. Maybe she shouldn’t have hired that lawyer she
saw on the TV commercial.
Now, Sarah was dressed in prison-garb, and was behind protective glass, chatting to
Laney who’d come to visit her. The two had receivers against their ears. They were in the
visiting room. Thompson was also there, but he was standing in the background, listening
to audio-books on his iPod to stave off boredom.
“This is the craziest thing ever,” said Laney. “I can’t believe you’re here in prison.”
“Me, too,” said Sarah. “But nobody believes me. And the whole temporary insanity
plea didn’t work.”
“You’re not even a teenager!”
“Yeah… What a world we live in… So, uh, what’ve you been up to?”
“Not much. Just been hanging out with Adam. Planning on running away to Vegas to
see my dad.”
“Oh, yeah, that sounds—WHAAAAA?”
“Yep. I’m going to find my dad. That’s where he is.”
“You’re just going alone?”
“I’m going to ask my boyfriend to accompany me.”
“Your boyfriend? Adam?”
“Uh-huh.”
Sarah put her hand on the glass in front of her. “You know, I’ll be in here for twenty
years,” she said. “Will you promise to write me at least once a week?”
“I will,” said Laney. “Even when I’m in Vegas.”
The two chatted till their throats were dry.
Laney said goodbye and went home with Thompson.

After, when she was left to her own in the mansion, she went out to visit Adam. She took
the quite street she’d always taken and met him at his home. Adam was on his driveway
like always, just standing around, and doing bupkus.
“Hey,” he said in an unenthusiastic tone.
“Hey,” Laney said in return. “I need to talk to you.”
Laney, after putting her bicycle away, went up to him and stood close by. He edged
back a bit, feeling uncomfortable. “Uh, alright,” he said. “What do you want?”
“I’m going away,” said Laney.
“Where?” asked Adam, though he didn’t much care at all.
“To Las Vegas.”
“Sin city?”
“Yeah, remember? My dad’s there.”
“So, what do you want from me?”
“Well, won’t you miss me?”
“Uh, I dunno.”
“Just say ‘yes.’”
“Oh, okay, uh, uh, ‘yes.’”
“I’ll miss you too.”
“Alright, see yah later.”
Adam turned away and was headed into his house. But Laney stopped him. She
grabbed him by his jacket and pulled him back.
“Wait!” she said. “You’re supposed to talk me out of this.”
“Talk you out of it?” said Adam. “Why would I do that?”
“Because you care for me—and I’m not really sure if I wanna go. I was hoping you
could gimme a reason to stay here.”
“Rexville is a one horse town. I’d never tell you to stay.”
“It’ll be hard to leave you.”
“I’m bored. You wanna go up to my room and chat there? My legs are gonna give
way any minute now.”
“Okay!”
Laney enthusiastically followed Adam into his house. As soon as they got in, a hairy,
grumbling man in a sleeveless t-shirt came out. It was his dad, and he was for some
reason quite furious.
“Where’ve you been?” he said with a cigarette hanging off his wet, cracked lip.
“Just outside,” said Adam.
“Don’t bullshit me. You’re just like your mother, you know that? You’re a liar.”
A lady in a red robe appeared. She was sultry looking with big breasts, curvy hips,
and long, dark hair. There was tons of makeup on her face. “What’s going on here?” she
asked.
“Is that your mom?” whispered Laney to Adam. “She looks pretty young.”
“That isn’t my mom,” said Adam.
The lady in the red robe, named Jezebel, put her arms around Adam’s dad. Adam’s
dad, Wayne, blushed. The scruffy, temperamental man was easily appeased by attractive
women.
“Now, now,” said Wayne. “Not in front of the kids.”
“I’m hungry,” said Jezebel. “You got anything to eat?”
“Why don’t you go out and get us somethin’?”
Wayne, who was normally a cheapskate, reached into his back pocket and took out
his wallet. Then he gave Jezebel some money: $50.00 and a bit of change. She kissed him
and left.
“I’m going up to my room,” said Adam.
His dad, Wayne, took him by the wrists. He gritted his teeth. “Don’t disrespect me in
front of company. Y’hear me?”
“Please, can I go?”
“Don’t cause trouble.”
Wayne let go of his son.
Adam quickly took Laney into his bedroom. Though she’d been over before, this
was her first time seeing the place. It wasn’t too large, but, contrary to other areas of the
house, it felt like a comfortable place to stay. There were lots of cool movie posters on
the wall: Jurassic Park, Jaws, E.T. Indiana Jones. You know, all the classics.
“I like your room,” said Laney.
“Thanks,” said Adam.
The two sat together at the edge of the bed. They looked into each other’s eyes for a
moment, and then turned away.
“Uuuh,” said Adam as he got up to lock the door. “What were we talking about
earlier?”
“I was thinking about going to Las Vegas,” said Laney.
“Right, right, well…” Adam sat back down with Laney. “…I really don’t know what
you should do. You’re askin’ the wrong guy.”
Laney sighed. She wanted Adam to tell her to stay. She wanted him to kiss her on the
lips again and touch her like he did before (at his party). But she knew that wasn’t going
to happen. There was no beer in his system. There wasn’t any vice to remove his
inhibitions.
“Hey,” said Adam, trying to pass the time, “you wanna see some photos I took?”
“I didn’t know you were into photography,” said Laney.
“I’m not. They’re just crappy photos taken with a click and shoot.”
“Oh. Well. I’d like to see them, anyway.”
The two went to the table by the window. There Adam flipped his laptop computer
open and clicked a folder which contained a bunch of pictures. He enlarged it so Laney
could easily see. The first few were just mundane stuff: him hanging out at St. Kevin
Elementary and goofing around with his friends.
To Laney’s surprise, Adam was friends with her former bullies, Gerald and Francis.
She, however, did not say anything. She didn’t want to be whiny or naggy. That was
really his business.
“Man,” said Adam while sifting through his pictures, “what was I thinking!”
Laney giggled.
But the laughs didn’t last.
A picture of Adam and another girl came up.
He was kissing her.
And he didn’t even seem to care.
“Who, who, who, who, who’s that?!” stammered Laney. Her face went red.
“That?” said Adam, pointing to the pretty girl. “That’s my girlfriend. Didn’t I tell
you about her?”
“I thought I was your girlfriend.”
“Wha’? Is that why you’re always bothering me?”
“I bother you?! You think I’m bothering you?!”
“I think what we have here is a grave misunderstanding.”
Laney tried holding in her emotions, but she burst into tears, and ran out of Adam’s
room. She charged down the stairs and ran outside. She got onto her bike and raced down
the street. She wailed loudly without restraint. This was the first time she’d ever had her
heart broken. It stung good.

Chapter 26

There isn’t much to do when you’re grounded. Alan was holed up in his room with little
to do besides homework. There wasn’t a television in his room, a computer, or even a
telephone. It was pretty bare bones. Alan listened to the radio on his alarm clock. At least
he had that. He was laid on his bed with his arms behind his head. He was listening to the
news, because he’d had his fill of “robot voice” music.
T.G. Winters was the voice that informed him of all the dangers of the world. The
man was ranting about Rexville and its high crime rates. Recently there’d been a rash of
heinous murders. Two people were murdered in the week. There bodies were mangled, as
if by some wild animals. The cops were highly baffled. People were become suspicious.
Many were opting to stay home instead of going out to the movies or bowling or
whatever they did.
Alan had an idea of what was going on, easily considering his experiences, but there
were a lot of rumors that obfuscated (confused) the truth. The reasons for these fatalities
seemed, at this point, almost anything.
“Why’s the news always so depressing?” Alan thought aloud. “How ‘bout something
happy and upbeat? It’s always death this and fire that. Where’s the rainbow and
sunshine? No wonder people are so depressed these days.”
As Alan daydreamed, a noise was heard outside his room. He got off his bed and
went to see what it was. He peaked through the crack of his door. Laney was wheeling
along some luggage.
“Oh, no,” he said. “Nuh-uh.”
Laney stopped to look at him. “Problem?”
“Don’t tell me you’re actually going to Vegas,” said Alan.
“I’m just moving my stuff,” said Laney.
“You sure about that?”
“Would I lie to you?”
“Well, you told me the Dragon School had a secret, magical passage. I tried to walk
through and smacked my forehead.”
“That was an April Fools’ Day prank.”
“It wasn’t April.”
“…Anyways, I have to go now!”
As Alan put his foot into the hallway, Laney stepped on his toe. “Where are you
going?” she asked. “Remember, you’re grounded? You can’t come out of your room,
unless it’s an emergency. Is there some sort of emergency-like situation that you must
attend?”
Alan glared. He closed his door and vanished into his room.
Laney continued rolling her luggage through the hallway. When she was by the
stairs, she went downstairs, and stood by the front entrance. She looked over her
shoulder. No one was there; Thompson was busy running errands. She stepped into the
outside. She took the air into her nostrils.
“So long,” she said.

Some time later, Laney found herself in a questionable part of town, which was littered
with rubbish and “decorated” with posters along the many brick walls. The posters were
various, but many of them had similar themes: sex, drugs, and auto-tune music.
Laney yawned and looked at her watch. It was past 6:00 PM. She thought for a
moment she’d come to the wrong pick-up spot—but then the Grayhound bus suddenly
arrived. The doors welcomingly swung open. The bus driver tipped his cap as a greeting.
Laney went in with her suitcase—she chose not to store it in the under-floor luggage
compartment—and found a seat somewhere in the middle. It was the only spot available,
which was, by no coincidence, right beside the man with the half-shaved head and wily
eyes. He seemed like the type who obsessed over pointy or sharp objects. As soon as
Laney sat, after putting away her suitcase into overhead storage, he put her hand on her
knee and said in a lecherous tone, “Nice to meet you. I’m Charles.”
Laney wanted to shove him away, but realized that she’d be with him for quite some
time. The bus ride was not short. She had to get along with him. “Likewise,” she simply
replied.
Charles removed his hand, but kept his head in the same direction. “Sooooo,” he
said, “how about them Yankees?”
Laney sighed.

The night came. Thompson entered the house with streaks of blood on his face. His black
boots stepped heavily while walking upstairs. He didn’t feel the need to take footwear
off, since he wiped them outside on the grass.
“Alan,” he said. “Where are you?”
Alan appeared at the top of the stairs. “Come to give me more punishments?”
“No,” said Thompson. “I’ve decided that I was too harsh on you—you may do as
you please now.”
“Why the change of mind?”
“As they say ‘you’re only young once.’”
“Yup.”
“Have you finished your homework?”
“Yup.”
“Is your sister still in her room?”
“Yup.”
“Are you going to only answer me with ‘yups’?”
“Nah.”
“Okay then. I’ll be in the basement. Whatever you do, do not disturb me. I cannot be
disturbed. A single distraction will lead to ruins.”
“What sort of ruins?”
“The bad kind.”
“Okay.”
“Anymore questions before I go, Alan? I really must not be disturbed.”
“What do you do in that basement? You’re always in there.”
“I cannot tell you.”
“Why?”
“You aren’t ready.”
At that, Thompson swiftly left.

Alan returned to his room and sat at his desk. There he stared blankly out the window,
just thinking. Though he was no longer grounded, and he could very much do as he
pleased, there wasn’t anything to do. It was too late in the day to go out and he didn’t
have any sources of entertainment that really quite amused him. He had a computer—
recently given to him—but it had no internet connection nor could it play any type of
video games. The piece of junk was obsolete. The only thing it could do was word
processing. And this, of course, was deliberate. Thompson, the technophobe, and the one
who bestowed the computer, thought that basic was best. Very, very basic.
Alan sighed while leaning back in his chair.
“What to do?” he thought aloud.
Then he rose and said, “I know. I’ll go and see what Laney’s up to.”
Then he left his room and went to visit his sister. He knocked on her bedroom door.
“Laney?” he whispered. There wasn’t a response. “Are you taking a nap? Sorry to
bother you. I’m just really bored. You wanna do something?”
He knocked again, this time much louder.
KNOCK! KNOCK!
“LANEY!” said Alan. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN THERE?! HELLOOO!”
There was only silence.
Alan gripped the doorknob and tried turning it to let himself in. But it didn’t budge;
the door was locked. “What’s going on?” he thought. He lowered to the floor, and put his
head down, sideways, and tried seeing through the door’s bottom crack which was
unusually large at nearly an inch.
No signs of Laney were present.
This made Alan incredibly nervous. He remembered how she said she was going to
Las Vegas. But he never really imagined she’d go through with it. She was a bullheaded
girl sometimes, but not really the most outgoing. Maybe, he thought, she was just
ignoring him.
He went outside, to the backyard, and climbed up the big tree, and looked through
the window into Laney’s bedroom—she was not there. But what was there was a note
with big lettering, which was stuck to the window.
It read: “GONE, BABY, GONE.”
Now, that was either referring to the novel (now a major motion picture), or what she
had done. Of course, it was the latter.
Alan came down the tree like a fireman on a fire-pole. He ran back into the house
and went to the basement door. As he was about to bang on it, he remembered what
Thompson said (in a nutshell): “Alan, don’t bother me!”
“What do I do?” thought Alan aloud. “I’m gonna be in deep—”
A ring at the front entrance interrupted any more of his thoughts. He ran to the main
foyer and, in his rush, opened the door without looking through the peephole. His jaw
nearly dropped. The visitor was someone he knew. Someone he hadn’t seen for a very
long time.
It was his Uncle Trevor.
Alan appeared surprised to see him alive—but, in reality, he wasn’t.
No, Trevor was just a corpse, an empty flesh-shell being controlled through
possession by the demon Necro (neck-row): the demon that could infect and puppeteer
the dead to do his malicious desires.
“I thought, I thought, I thought you were dead,” stammered Alan. “This can’t be.”
“But it is,” said Trevor.
“I don’t know what to say.”
“How about inviting me inside?”
“Well, it’s your place, I guess. I really don’t think you need an invite.”
“But it would be more polite if you invited me. Please do.”
“I dunno.”
“Why not?”
“Something isn’t right.”
“Oh?”
“Yes.”
“It may be my shabby appearance. I do, do apologize… Now, will you be inviting
me in?”
As Alan was about to speak, Thompson’s voice called out: “Stop!”
Alan turned around. “Oh, you’re out the basement,” he said. “Hey, guess what.” He
glanced behind to see Trevor, but Trevor was no longer there. “Where’d he go?”
Thompson kicked the door shut and put his hands on Alan’s shoulders. “Did you
invite him in?” he asked. He repeated himself. “Did you invite him in? Did you invite
your Uncle Trevor into our house?”
Alan was confused. “How did you… No. No. I was about to ‘till you screamed
‘stop.’”
Thompson put his arm around Alan and led him into the kitchen. The two sat down
at opposite ends of the table.
“My boy,” said Thompson. “It’s about time I told you what’s going on.”
“Okay,” said Alan. “What’s going on?”
“Your Uncle Trevor is not alive.”
“But I just—”
“That is only his body, his corpse, my boy. Inside of him is a demon.”
“I knew it.”
“Well, you must be careful of him. He can infect others. He can make monsters out
of people.”
“What can we do about this?”
“I must train you first. Then we must find him.”
Alan sprung from his seat. He had nearly forgotten about Laney who was missing.
“Oh, God,” he groaned. “Thompson, don’t crucify me for this, but I have to tell you
something.”
“What is it?” asked Thompson.
“Laney’s ran off to Las Vegas,” replied Alan.
Thompson was quiet—but then he started to laugh. “Ah-ha-ha! Really now! Call her
down from her room, please. I’d like to talk with her as well.”
Alan had a dead serious look on his face.
Thompson now could see this wasn’t a joke; he stood up and placed on placed on his
jacket in a swoop. He checked his whip by his side, and adjusted the crucifix around his
neck. “My boy,” he said. “We will have to postpone a few things tonight.”

The Grayhound bus came to a stop. It was time for a break: mostly for the bus driver who
badly had to go to the washroom. He ran outside, with his legs nearly together, and went
into the building that he parked in front of. It was, thankfully, open at this late hour.
Laney was leaning away from Charles, the man was beside her.
“This creep has no sense of personal space,” she thought.
“I’m going out for some fresh air,” he said. “Would you like to come?”
“No, thank you. I’m fine in here.”
“You sure?”
“Sure as I’ll ever be.”
“Weeell, alright then!”
And Charles left the bus. Then, what seemed not-a-second after, he returned. He was
bleeding profusely. There was a nasty, deep bite mark upon his hand.
“What happened!” said Laney.
“Went by the alley to smoke,” said Charles, “an’ something bit me. I dunno what it
was. Some wild animal.”
“Are you going to be okay?”
“Yeah. Just need to wrap it up is all.”
“What if it had rabies? You hafta get it checked ASAP.”
“I’ll be fine.”
Charles went to the front of the Grayhound and took down the first aid kit. He
opened it and took the bandages to wrap his hand. When all was done, he returned to his
seat.
The bus driver came back. “We all ready?” he asked everyone. “We won’t be
stopping for another few hours or so. If you got an emergency, now’s the time. The toilet
at back doesn’t work that well… Anyone?”
A hand went up.
Then a woman in a skirt ran through the aisle and left the bus.
“What a silly woman,” said Charles. “Don’t she know how dangerous it is out there
—fer a female? Shoulda got a bathroom buddy.”
Laney yawned. “You know what they say: ‘Haste when you gotta drop da waste.’”
Charles didn’t respond. He was too busy looking at his hand, which was now
profusely oozing with blood, pus, and other extraneous liquids. He groaned, “Agh,
goddamn it. Does anyone have any Boroline?” He stared hyperventilating and bulging at
the eyes. “I need, I need some medicines…!”
Laney got up from her seat to let Charles out. He stood in the aisle and leaned
against the seats for support, then just dropped smack down onto the floor. Nobody paid
any mind. They sorta wanted him to shut his yapper.
“Does anyone know CPR?!” cried Laney.
“Pipe down,” said a voice. “I’m trying to read here.”
Laney turned Charles over so that she could see him, and slap his face. “Wake up,
damn you,” she said with a smack. “Wake up!”
Charles gurgled semi-consciously as white foam seeped through the corners of his
mouth. He was saying something. He spoke in a punctuated manner. “Get. Way. From.
Me.”
“What was that?” Laney asked.
His words became slurred and angry. “Geawayfrome!” And then he shut his eyes.
A man stood up and went over to Laney and Charles. “Alright,” said this man named
Gus, who was about 5 ½ feet tall, “stand aside. I know what to do. I’ve taken First Aid
classes.”
Laney moved aside to let Gus get to Charles.
Gus did CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) on Charles, just as he’d been taught:
1) Ensure the area is safe.
2) Try and get a response form the casualty by shouting at them, calling their name,
or shaking their shoulders.
3) If no response, check their airway. Check the casualty’s mouth for any obstruction
like vomit or food. If there is an obstruction, remove it with your fingers.
4) If there is no obstruction(s), do head-tilt-chin-lift to move their tongue out of the
way; tilt their head back so their chin points up.
5) Listen for breathing. Put your air near casualty’s mouth and nostrils. If there is no
sign of breathing—after calling for help (e.g. 911)—begin CPR.
6) Create circulation. Place two hands, one on top of the other, on center of
casualty’s chest. Press down on the breast bone, with your body weight, and squash it so
it so it goes down about 2 inches. Release. Do this 30 times in rapid succession.
7) After, move to the casualty’s head. Pinch the nose and put your mouth over their
mouth. Breath into them (full breath). Do this twice.
8) After, repeat step six. Go back and for the between six and seven till help arrives
or the casualty comes to.
Success: Charles became conscious.
Gus stood and grinned. “I did it!” he said proudly.
“Oh, good job,” said Laney who was surprised.
Gus put playfully hit Charles on the shoulder. “Almost thought you were a goner
there! Luck you, huh!”
Charles didn’t respond.
Gus became offended. “Hey,” he said, “I saved your life. Aren’t you going to thank
me?”
Charles had a vacant look in his eyes. It was like nobody was around him.
Gus pressed, “Well?”
“Sorry,” interrupted Laney. “I really, really gotta use the toilet.” She left to the back,
forgetting what the bus driver had told everyone (the toilet wasn’t working), and went
inside the cramped, little washroom. She maneuvered herself so she didn’t hit her elbows
against the wall or anything else. She sat down after locking the door.
Back in the bus’ aisle, Gus was following around Charles, who, he believed, owed
him a “thank you.” Gus indignantly tapped Charles—who was facing away—upon the
shoulder.
There was no response, but that of a low growl…
And then Charles spun around and bit Gus on the neck!
And again! And again! And again!
Everyone screamed when they saw a head roll along the floor. Half the passengers,
those at the front, ran out. The rest were trapped when the exit was blocked by Charles
who had now, it was certain, become an undead creature of the night. (Necro’s malicious
virus was coursing through his veins.) He had his hands curled and was slobbering with
blood. His long tongue darted. He tried to grab whoever there was so that he could drink
their blood—or eat them.
The passengers were pressed all the way at the back of the bus. Some, against the
wall, were being squashed and could hardly breathe, but they preferred that over being at
the front. The ones in front were being pushed out. Maybe, they thought, the
monster/vampire would go away if his appetite was satiated.
The women cried for the men to do something: to protect them.
“Why us?” they asked.
“Don’t be cowards,” said the women. “You should be ashamed of yourselves!”
“Okay!” said the men, and they took whatever objects they could find, and used them as
makeshift weapons: umbrellas, walking canes, butter knives, etc. Anything that looked
blunt, hard, sharp, or sharplunt.
They formed a phalanx with open umbrellas to keep Charles away.
But, as an undead creature, Charles was too strong. He ripped through the umbrellas
—and all the men who were holding them. Their blood and guts gushed to the floor, and
went out through bus doors as a gory torrent.
The men, who were left, grabbed the women and pushed them ahead. “This is what
you want, isn’t it?!”
Charles looked at them for a second, and then dropped to his hands and knees. He
started drinking and eating all the blood and guts. The way his tongue was out made him
look like a hungry dog. As he was distracted, the passengers, both genders, quietly snuck
outside. When they ran down the road, they saw a black car, and flagged it down.
It was Thompson’s Cadillac. The window rolled down.
One of the women cried, “There’s—there’s some sorta monster up the road!
Whatever you do, don’t go there!”
“Where exactly?” asked Thompson.
The woman pointed to show the Grayhound bus in the distance.
“Thank you for the warning,” said Thompson. “I’ll make a note to avoid it.”
Then the woman and the others ran away. They went searching for shelter.
Alan, who was in the Cadillac with Thompson, looked out the window with a squint.
He could see the dark figure of Charles sitting perched on top of a seat in the bus.
“Let’s hope she isn’t in there,” said Thompson.
“Yes,” Alan nodded.
Then the two drove along and parked beside the bus, and then got out. Alan stood
behind Thompson holding a crucifix, while Thompson had his trusty whip tight within
his hands. They could hear Charles growling and jumping about; the undead creature was
not satisfied with his kills, and he could smell something tasty but didn’t know where it
was coming from.
Laney was still in the bathroom. She knew something bad was outside, from the
noises, and she’d locked herself in. She was standing on the sink with her feet ready to
kick—what, she wasn’t too sure.
A bang came at the door. Bang! Bang! And a growl.
“I can smell you,” said Charles. “You’re in there.”
“Go suck on an egg,” said Laney.
But this never happened when Charles’ hand burst through the door. “Where are
you?” he said while feeling around. “You’re in here. I can smell the sweet odor of your
body.”
Laney had a crucifix around her neck. She took it off and held it in her hand. She
said a spell, the only one she could remember in her panicked state. A flame, no bigger
than that found on a birthday candle, came out from the top of her crucifix. She used it to
burn one of Charles’ fingers: the middle one.
“Take that!” she said.
“Ah, naughty girl,” said Charles.
Then the bus’ bathroom door gave way. Laney now was no longer protected. Charles
took her by the hair and yanked her down. She fell hard to the floor. As she screamed,
she heard Thompson’s voice.
“Monsters, undead creatures, and demons,” he said, “always so crass.”
Alan, who was behind with a crucifix and a Star of David (for good measure),
added, “Yes! Always so, uh, grass!”
“Silly humans,” said Charles. And as he looked as if he was going to head for
Thompson or Alan—he took Laney into his arms and crashed through a window!
Thompson and Alan ran off the bus and went to chase him. They got into the Cadillac to
pursue him on wheels.
Thompson stomped on the gas. He maneuvered his car through the streets, turning
left and right, doing his best to keep Charles and Laney within view. If he let them out of
his sight for even a second, it would end in tragedy.
“How come that thing’s so strong?” asked Alan. “It’s not even a demon—is it? It just
has a demon virus. That’s almost like possession, huh?”
“Possession is when a demon goes into a person,” said Thompson. “A demon virus is
different. It’s a disease. It infects a person with the traits and characteristics of a demon,
but the demon isn’t inside them per se.”
“Right, right, right. But why’s that man who’s got Laney so strong? Isn’t it: demon,
possessed by a demon, and demon virus? That’s the order of strength, right? We
should’ve been able to stop him easily.”
“My boy, did they not teach you this in school? A demon virus multiplies what’s
already inside of a person. If a good person is infected, there is less of an effect; vice-
versa for a ‘bad guy.’”
“Oh.”
“Now, if you can, get that crossbow ready.”
Alan took the crossbow in his lap and loaded it with an arrow. He aimed it through
the window, but had some difficulty—partly from never having used a crossbow before,
not including video games, and the car he was in which was driving unsteadily.
“Keep still,” said Alan to Thompson who was driving like a Chinaman.
“Can’t,” said Thompson. “Just try not to shoot your sister.”
Laney screamed while held captive in the arms of Charles. She pushed at his face to
keep away his teeth “Don’t you dare!” she said.
Charles growled and took Laney into an alleyway. (Otherwise he’d have no choice
but to go past a cathedral, which made him feel quite ill at ease.)
The Cadillac deftly pursued.
And everyone ended up in the same area, surrounded by high walls, with little
elsewhere to go. Thompson and Alan came out of their car, armed, and ready to fight.
Charles had his long fingernails pressed into Laney’s neck.
“One wrong move,” he said, “and SCHLLLIT!”
“Is that the sound of him cutting her throat?” asked Alan in whisper.
“Why, yes,” replied Thompson.
“What should we do? Brains or brawn?”
“A bit of both, maybe.”
Thompson took Alan by the sleeve and dragged him away.
Charles, with his tiny brain, wondered why they had left the alleyway. He looked
about, left, right, up, and even down. “They’re gone,” he thought aloud. “The fools have
left. Now I may be left alone to feast on this sweet morsel.”
Laney screamed and screamed and screamed. “Aaagh! Keep away, you son of a—”
Of a sudden, the headlights on Thompson’s Cadillac flashed, and from the grill a
nozzle popped out. Both Laney and Charles looked curiously. Then it sprayed at them
without relent. Laney was undisturbed, but Charles was keeled over. His skin was
bubbling and boiling, and peeling off his bones.
Soon he was no more, but a pile of goop.
The holy water had a greater than expected effect.
When Alan and Thompson reappeared, Laney ran to give them each a wet hug.
“Er, why, thank you for the affection,” said Thompson. “Now what’s all this about
you running away to a faraway place?”
“I wanted to see my dad,” said Laney.
“You should have asked me.”
“You would’ve said ‘yes’?”
“No, but you should’ve asked me.”

On the drive home, Thompson had a lengthy discussion with Alan and Laney: about their
destiny, about them possibly being part of the Four, their Uncle Trevor, what was going
on through the town, all the demons and monsters, and many other things thought to be of
importance.
To Alan most of this was just a reiteration, but for Laney it was news. So, she paid
careful attention. Some of it she found fascinating. Some of it frightening. It was a lot to
take in.
“And that is what you need to know,” said Thompson, finishing his speech.
“Whew,” said Laney. Then she turned to Alan. “By the way, brother, what did you
do in that Chamber at school? With the big spider? Was it a Room 101?”
“If I told you that,” replied Alan, “I’d have to kill you—”
Laney punched Alan in the arm. Alan rubbed his sore spot with a kicked-dog look on
his face. He bit on his fingers nails and then confessed. “Nothing much happened. The
Spider and I became friends. We passed the time by playing backgammon, checkers, and
Monopoly. By the way, I never went bankrupt once.”
“That’s it?” said Laney. “That’s all that happened? You weren’t even punished?”
“The fear is the punishment,” said Alan.
Chapter 27

While Alan was excited, Laney was nervous. Today was the day when Thompson
promised that they would “begin their vigorous training,” and learn new things that the
Dragon School neglected to teach.
Alan and Laney rose from their beds, and after doing morning rituals, headed to the
backyard to meet Thompson. Thompson was less dressed up than usual. He wasn’t in his
common dark garbs, but wear that was a lot more casual. “Alright,” he said with a clap of
his hands, “shall we begin?” Then he put a cassette tape into a ghetto blaster and pressed
the play button.
Motivational 80s music filled the air (Push it to the Limit, Eye of the Tiger, You’re
the Best, etc) while Alan and Laney worked their arses off in way that could only be
properly conveyed by a fast paced movie montage.
Soon hours went by and the two were near their breaking point. They had their
tongues hanging out of their mouths as they breathed like fat, asthmatic kids after an
intense round of video games.
“No more,” said Alan, “my lungs are about to collapse.”
“The pain,” said Laney. “The pain!”
Thompson chuckled, “Come now. It isn’t so bad, is it?”
“It is,” said Alan, “it is.”
Laney leaned against Alan to keep herself from falling. Thompson led them back
into the house to get cool down. They went into the kitchen and drank water while
watching the sun god down.
“Thank Jesus the day is done,” said Alan. “
“Yeah,” agreed Laney. “One more press up and my wrists woulda broke.”
“All for your own good,” said Thompson. “As the saying goes ‘Cry in the dojo,
laugh in the battlefield.’”
As Alan and Laney were about to leave, Thompson whistled, and called them back.
“Wait,” he said. “We have a thing more to do.”

Everyone stood in front of the basement door. Alan and Laney stared, intensely curious.
They‘d never been inside the basement before, nor did they have a clue what was in
there. Yes, Every now and then they’d see Thompson go in, but he was always protective
and mealy-mouthed about its contents.
Well, tonight they would get to see what was inside.
ACTUALLY, NO.
Thompson was not yet ready to reveal his secret lair that was the basement. He
simply went down, alone, and returned to the main floor with a cardboard box. Alan
looked disappointed, as if a girl had broke his heart. Laney, on the other hand, was mostly
indifferent at this point. There was already too much drama in her life—between Sarah,
her “ex-boyfriend,” school, and murderous demons—it was all too much. She didn’t need
anything new; one more thing would probably make her go insane.
Thompson opened the cardboard box. Inside was a remote of sorts: a black rectangle
affair that had a red round button bang in the center. He took it out and pressed it. As
Alan and Laney waited, they heard a loud, mechanical disturbance. Then out from the
floor came a wall—no ordinary wall though—affixed to it was a pegboard which held a
supply of old timey weapons.
“Whoa,” said Alan. “Are these for us?”
Thompson nodded. “Dangers are about, my boy: take your pick.”
Alan and Laney went to the wall and looked at all the weapons. There was: a sword,
a jagged knife, a dagger, a whip, a mace, a double-sided axe, a crossbow, a bow and
arrow, a staff, a war hammer, a crucifix with a pointy end, a spear, a pike, and even flail.
“No machine guns?” Alan asked jokingly.
“Sorry,” said Thompson.
“I don’t know what to pick,” said Laney while perusing. “I like the pike, but it’s not
something I could fit into my backpack. There are real portability issues here.”
Alan took the leather whip.
“A fine choice,” said Thompson. “Any particular reason for that?”
“If it’s good enough for you,” said Alan, “and Indiana Jones, and people who are
into BDSM, well, it’s good enough for me too.”
Laney took the sword down from the pegboard, and swung it around as she
deliberated. She liked how it felt in her hands, how it swished about in the air, but she
was not sure that it was the right weapon for her. It seemed a bit too violent, and a bit too
caustic; however, what was most bothersome to the girl was the fact that a sword was up
close and personal. She much preferred distancing her enemies.
So, she settled on the crossbow.
The crossbow was compact, an easy to carry around item, made out of black-painted
steel. It was light but had a sturdy feel.
“That’s a very good crossbow,” commented Thompson. “It’s nearly 500 years old.”
Laney went “oooh.”
“All this stuff is cool,” said Alan. “But why don’t you just give us modern
weaponry? I mean… Wouldn’t a handgun be more effective against a demon or, say, a
crack-head?”
Thompson explained. “First of all, my boy, it is illegal for you to carry around a
handgun. Second of all, they do not work against demons. Demons are impervious to
fire-bearing devices.”
“Quite interesting,” Alan said half-heartedly. He and Laney were preoccupied,
looking at their weapons.
Thompson cleared his throat. “AHEM! So, shall we be off to bed then?”
“But,” said Laney, “I wanna shoot stuff now!”
“You shall be trained more when you are well rested,” said Thompson.
Alan and Laney changed into their sleepwear and, after brushing their teeth, went to
bed. While in bed, Alan imagined he was on an adventure, swinging through monkey-
filled jungle, and going across chasms. Laney, who too was in bed, did imagining of her
own. She imagined shooting bad guys—and Adam, the silly boy who broke her heart.

Chapter 28

Crime rates in Rexville were going up fast. Police were confused. Distrust and cynicism
sent the price of local real estate into a downward spiral. This news, however, was not all
bad news. This gave the Dragon School the opportunity to relocate: from a garbage
dump…to a place that wasn’t a garbage dump. Yes, they would still be underground—
hidden away from demons and prying eyes—but the change would be pleasant,
nonetheless. Mostly pleasant because they would cease to be the joke of their second,
sister Dragon School.
As one would have guessed, the garbage dump location wasn’t really chosen for
purposes of secrecy (contrary to what the students were told); it was chosen for its
convenient price.
Mr. Rainwater was walking through the empty hallway with a box full of his things,
for the “big move,” when he took a turn and bumped into Ms. Someen.
“Watch where you’re going,” said Ms. Someen in her usual, snappy voice.
Mr. Rainwater sneered. “And if I don’t?”
“…I’ll tell the Principal!”
“Oh, and what’s he going to do? Fire me? There are hardly any teachers here. You
could take the entire faculty and fit ‘em into a broom closet.”
“Look, Jim. We’re moving. Our school is moving. And I take that as a sort of omen.
A positive sign of change. So, I have expectations from that, and I expect you to treat me
differently from then on there. None of this political, career bullshit, and no more of your
condescension. I am not your rival. I repeat: I am not your rival. Stop trying to compete
and outdo me at every task.”
“Emily, I want to go places in life. I want more. And if I have to crack a few eggs to
make an omelette, to become principal or vice-principal, then so be it.”
“Don’t you think we’re setting a bad example for the kids? We should be role-
models and show them how to cooperate. Should we not fight against evil together?”
The Principal appeared. “Hello,” he said, interrupting. “How are we all doing?”
“Fine,” said Mr. Rainwater, “just fine.”

With the school closed, being prepared for relocation, Alan and Laney had some free
time upon their hands. They finished their demon training for the day and were enjoying
the warm afternoon, leisurely riding their bicycles about the town. They made at a stop at
their old school: St. Kevin Elementary.
In the yard was their ol’ teacher, Mrs. Vanderhorn. She was tending to the flowers.
(There was no gardener.) Alan and Laney both waved to her at the same time; she
returned the gesture. “What are you doing here?” she asked with a smile. She put down
the watering can that was in her hand.
“Just visiting,” answered Laney. “How’s everything going with you? I see you’re
growing sunflowers.”
“Everything’s going good,” said Mrs. Vanderhorn.
“Really?” said Alan. “You look a bit bothered.”
“What makes you say that?” said Mrs. Vanderhorn.
“Well,” replied Alan, “we’ve been watching you water—but your watering can has a
hole in it.” He pointed to the watering, which indeed did have a hole. It was a big one,
right on the bottom.
Mrs. Vanderhorn, who was never really one to complain, made a frowny face. “I’m
losing my job,” she said. “After summer I won’t be returning. I won’t be a teacher.”
Alan and Laney were surprised, though they never outwardly showed it.
“Oh,” said Laney. “Why are you losing your job?”
“Economics, my dear,” said Mrs. Vanderhorn. “They can’t afford to keep me.”
“Is it just you?” asked Alan.
“Me and the one unnecessary janitor,” replied Mrs. Vanderhorn.
“Harsh,” said Laney.
While the three stood around, just shooting the breeze, a postman came by. There
was a long, white envelope in Mr. McLeary’s hands. He tipped his blue hat and extended
his arm. “Evening,” he said, “how is everyone doing? I’ve a letter here for one Mrs.
Vanderhorn. Muffy Vanderhorn.”
“That would be me,” said Mrs. Vanderhorn. She took the envelope. “Thank you very
much.”
Mr. McLeary, the postman, left. His whistling could be heard as he went away.
“A letter,” said Laney. “Who’s it from?”
“That’s not the sort of question you ask someone,” said Alan. “It’s probably private.”
“Aw, don’t worry,” said Mrs. Vanderhorn. “I don’t mind.” She looked at the
envelope. Her eyes immediately went to the upper left-hand corner where there was the
return address. It was from her husband who was doing some business over in Asia—
China and India to be more specific. She used her long nail to open the envelope. She
took out a piece of paper, a letter, and unfolded it. The writing was very messy, but not as
if anyone was in a rush, as if there was a lot of stressed. The letters were all small and
compressed.
Mrs. Vanderhorn read the letter and nearly choked on her own spit.
“Bad news?” asked Alan.
“Shhh!” said Laney who could tell, at least a little, what was going on.
“My husband…” said Mrs. Vanderhorn. “My husband says he found someone—
else.” Mrs. Vanderhorn shook like there was a fever in her body. “And he, he, he cheated
on me.”
“What you mean by that?” asked Laney. Alan had the same question but didn’t speak
up.
Mrs. Vanderhorn now looked numb. “All those years,” she said. “All those years of
sacrifice and loyalty, and he does this to me. What did I ever do to him? What?” She
began crying uncontrollably. Though Alan and Laney didn’t have a full comprehension
of the situation—they didn’t understand a lot of the euphemisms used—they still could
see that their old teacher was in pain, and they hugged her. They hugged her real tight till
she asked them to stop.
It was very sweet…not exactly characteristic of Alan. “Will you be okay?” he asked.
Mrs. Vanderhorn nodded. She wiped the wetness from her face. She took in a deep
breath and put on less of a pouty face. “Well, children,” she said, “I must be going now.
You know, I got things to do, people to see…” And she ran off with a whimper.
“How completely depressing,” said Laney.
“Yeah,” replied Alan, “put that onto the pile.”
Then the two got onto their bicycles for a bit more bike riding. They went opposite
St. Kevin Elementary, and traveled around the factory area of town, which was always
quiet, since the town wasn’t doing so well.
“So,” said Alan with one hand on his bike handle, “you still seeing that boy? What’s
his name? Adam?”
“No,” said Laney. “I thought I told you about that ages ago. I broke up with him for
being a hussy.”
“Oh, okay, sometimes I don’t pay attention… So, you still wanna visit dad in
Vegas?”
“You know the answer to that. Why even bother asking?”
“Well—maybe I wanna go too.”
“What? Alan, are you serious?”
“I know he was kind of a…well, a jerk, but he’s our dad. I’d like to say ‘hello’ at
least once before I turn eighteen.”
“So, are we going to go, because I—”
“No, no, nooo! I said ‘I wanna go.’ I never said that I would. C’man, be realistic.
You know how far Sin City is?”
“Fiiine.”
“Hey, we can always do something else.”
“Like what?”
Alan snapped his fingers. “Oh, I know,” he said, “we could visit Sarah? You haven’t
seen her in a while.”
Laney raised a single eyebrow. “At this time?”
“Yeah! So many people are in prison these days; they’ve extended the visiting hours.
We can ditch our bikes and take a bus.”
“I hate the bus.”
“Do you have a car per chance?”

Laney and Alan were on a bus, taking the long road that led down to the prison. Laney,
who was feeling tired, yawned. Her eyes were wide open, still feeling paranoid from
earlier events. Alan took the time to read his Grendel Textbook. He had his legs folded,
the right rest on the left. He tried concentrating, but was distracted by his surroundings,
and perverse thoughts that pervaded his mind.
“Are you going to let me see that book, one day?” asked Laney.
“Can’t,” said Alan. “I was explicitly told to not share it with anyone.”
“Not even your sister?”
“Especially my sister.”
“But I thought we were a team.”
“A team requires more than two people. What we have is a partnership.”
“I would say that you act really strange—all the time—but considering our
circumstances, you actually seem to match.”
“Thank you.”
Laney peered over Alan’s shoulder to see what he was reading. He shifted his body
and leaned away so that she could not see.
“Aw, c’mon,” said Laney. “What’s the harm!?”
“The harm is,” said Alan, “you are not ready to see what I am reading.”
“Just tell me a couple things. Nothing huge.”
“No.”
“C’mon.”
“No.”
“C’mon!”
“No.”
“C’MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Alan let out a breath. “Fine!” He flipped to page five of his Grendel Textbook, going
all the way to the beginning, just after the legal warnings, table of contents, and title page.
He read aloud the introduction.
“Welcome, reader, to the Grendel Textbook. You are one of the fortunate few who
have obtained a copy of this manual for magic and divinity. Please be aware of what you
are about to read. It can be used for both good and evil. As the publishers of this book,
we are more inclined on the former rather on the latter. Do not show this to anyone, not
even those who are close to you. Though there are innocuous spells contained within,
which might prove useful to the novice, we must warn that some of the information
contained can be quite dangerous. There aren’t many dangerous spells, no, but just
enough to get one into a heap of trouble. Study this as best as you can, and do not misuse
what you are about to learn. Best of luck, you will need it. Sincerely, Editor in Chief,
Mrs. Elaine P. Grimsworth. April 13, 1844.”
Laney was silent for a minute…then she shouted, “MORE! MORE!! MOAR!!!”
Alan closed his Grendel Textbook and put it away into his pocket. “I’m sorry, that’s
all you’ll be hearing today.”
“Aw, c’mooooon!”
“You already used that line on me.”
“You’re such a good two-shoes.”
“Nuh-uh!”
“Uh-huh!”
“Fiiine—I’m a good two-shoes. So what?”
Alan and Laney continued quarreling, like siblings do, till the bus came to its last
stop. The two cooled off quickly, temper-wise, and got off onto the pavement. There they
walked toward the prison. The prison was a monolithic, bare, grey building with very few
windows.
“Do you ever think we’re living in a comic book?” Alan asked Laney. “Or some
other medium of fiction?”
“I’ll admit,” said Laney, “I’ve thought of that in passing. But I don’t think that could
ever be the case. We’re far too boring and unlikable.”
“You don’t think anyone would be interested in us?”
“Why would they?”
“I guess so.”
“Wink.”
“What?”
“Oh, nothing…”
Alan and Laney reached the prison. A cloud hung over the building. They went
through the double doors and went to visitor desk. Thankfully, no one but them—staff
excluded—was there. A watchman greeted them with a grunt.
“We’re here to see a friend,” said Laney.
“Names?” said the watchman.
“Alan and Laney Harrison,” said Alan.
“No,” said the watchman. “The name of the person you are visiting.”
“Oh,” said Laney, “Sarah.”
“Last and first name,” said the watchman, losing his patience.
“Clark,” said Alan. “Sarah Clark. No relation to Superman. He-he.”
“Wha-wait,” said the watchman. “You’re friends with the parent killer?”
“Close friends,” said Laney.
The watchman went onto his computer and typed in some information. Then he
pressed a button on a panel of many buttons. A BZZZT! sound was heard, and Alan and
Laney were let through the door. They arrived at another checkpoint. There was another
watchman—but this time it was a female.
“Okay,” said the female watchman, “do you know what’s going to happen?”
“We’re going to see our friend in her cell,” said Laney. “We should be receiving the
pat-down, right?”
The female watchman nodded. She had Alan and Laney remove their loose clothing;
then she checked in their shoes, and patted each of their bodies with the thoroughness of
a pervert. Nothing of danger was found. They were let in to the next area, where another
watchman escorted them through a large but dank hallway.
All three walked until they were at about the middle. They came to Sarah’s cell.
Sarah was asleep in bed, under the sheets, with her head covered. The watchman tapped
the bars warily and said “visitors.” Then he unlocked the metal door, and allowed Laney
and Alan inside. He left to go get a coffee. He wasn’t really all too scared that “the kid”
would cause any trouble. Sarah was very well mannered. Unusual, he thought, that a little
girl could do something heinous like killing her parents.
So, Alan and Laney now alone, went over to the bed to talk with Sarah. That didn’t
take long, since it was only four steps away. It was by a toilet made of steel.
“Hi,” said Laney. “Are you asleep?”
There wasn’t any reply.
“Of course she’s asleep,” whispered Alan. “What else is there to do in here? Read a
crappy novel?”
“Should I wake her up?” asked Laney.
“I don’t know,” said Alan. “She’s been in this prison…” He spread out his arms to
show the (lack of) grandeur. “…this female prison for a while now. I bet she’s real
hardened. She could snap at a moment’s notice.” He snapped his fingers.
“Don’t be stupid.”
“Okay, you wake her up. I’ll keep a safe distance.”
Alan took a step back, but Laney pulled him forward. She tapped Sarah on the
shoulder.
“Sarah,” she said, “wake up—don’t you want to talk to us?”
Alan impatiently yanked the sheets off Sarah…except there was no Sarah, only a pile
of stinky, prison pillows.
Laney grabbed her head and went “GREAT SCOTT!”

What about Adam?


The kids get in trouble (finally!) -> they get grounded -> thompson doesn’t show them
their weapons -> laney decides not to go to vegas, but she sneaks out the house to visit
sarah who’s been found guilty of murder -> while leaving the prison, she sees adam
riding along, they get into a fight and she decides to go to vegas, makes up a bogus
excuse -> Trevor visits Alan -> Alan says his sister is missing -> While searching for
Laney, Thompson tells him the truth, Alan tells about Trevor

-> Alan and Laney are trained, help from the school teachers too, expound on rivalry ->
TROUBLE -> Sarah escapes from prison, she is possessed -> They go hunting for her
and Trevor who seem to be in cahooters; Find out the Father and others are missing ->
The two are spreading their destruction and raising people from the dead and giving
people false hopes, and just being malicious -> John Edward, crossing over dies ->
THEY surround an orphanage and turns the kids into “vamps”, they also have kidnapped
Father Felix -> separating room
-> Thompson fails for the first time, his back is bad -> John tries to help but fails, Aiyana
is there, some other miscellaneous characters -> Lady in the orange vest


Trevor visits the kids
So that’s where she’s been. I’ve been ignoring her for Adam… She must’ve gone insane.
Teachers from school, and other minor characters, gather to help
Vampires in underground parking lot
Alan tells laney, see news of sarah
Sarah is tried as an adult-teacheroftheyearaward
Exorcism
Thompson visits the church, clean up crew, talks to father, regrets not finding the next
one | Muchin babysits
Father tells him it’s okay, make due
Sarah is killed because she is transformed by Necro (near end), friends have to kill her
Laney thinks Adam is her boyfriend, Adam sucks
Adam’s impressed that Laney was on TV, he encourages Laney to run away by cheating
on her, he thinks Laney is too much of a square – what about that kiss?! Blah, blah, blah.

-JOHN wants revenge-when-he-is-expelled


-Alan returns changed, he tells Laney the truth about their father
-Room 101
-Puffy(trapped), Nosey (spying on the kids), Necro
-Adam’s birthday Party
-Sarah possessed
-Trevor in the hospital
-School destroyed (near end)
-Get kicked out
-Think it was Adam, it was not, it was Sarah
-Adam is a jerk, into music/rock/metal
-Speaking in tongues
-Science teacher
-Sarah’s parents get killed, they go to funeral, Sarah really did it, she’s possessed
-What’s in the basement? (Do not reveal yet)