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Chapter 1

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 8 months ago

 Chapter One

 

A thunderbolt and an idea hit Moctor Fall in quick succession. He'd been clutching a lightning rod for support, just one soggy misstep from tumbling off a steeply gabled roof three stories up. The hard, cold rain stung his eyes. He worked up just enough bravery and balance to let go of the lightning rod and push forward against a screaming wind.

 

 C-rra-aack. The thunderbolt blasted beside him, catching the metal rod and launching him onto a stone parapet surrounding an attic window. He lay there for minute, the hair on his neck frizzing, an angry prickle coursing along his spine, his stubby, ten-year-old's limbs splayed in a wild attempt at balance. His left shoulder stung from hitting the stonework first. Electric red outlines of lightning danced before his eyes, but otherwise he was unharmed.

 

Then the thought finally occurred to him: Perhaps this particular evening did not offer ideal conditions for breaking and entering.

 

He had not counted on the slippery roof. He had not counted on the near-hurricane winds. He had thought his weight would work to his advantage. The other kids didn't dub him "Unmovable Moctor" for nothing. Nobody pushed him around. Anybody who tried usually wound up with their heads getting sat on.

 

The rain was another matter entirely.

 

He considered turning back, but the others were counting on him. And the deadline they'd set was fast approaching. He turned up his collar and worked on slowing his breath. He forced himself into a sitting position, his wet clothes sticking uncomfortably to his skin, before turning toward the darkened attic window. Was that a shape moving inside?

 

Moctor pressed his face to the window. His breath condensed on the cold glass; the rain beat on his back. Worse, he couldn't make anything out beyond all the grime and cobwebs. He rubbed a wet sleeve against the pane, but the layers of filth were on the window's inside. He'd just have to push his way in and hope for the best.

 

The wooden sill offered his best hope. The old wood was moldy and crumbling, and the window no longer fit neatly into its groove. Some hefty shoving from his right shoulder--the left was still too tender--loosened things up enough to slide his fingers underneath.

 

Just then the wind changed direction, sending the branches of a Weeping Willow in his direction. They whipped around him, lashing his head and back with malignant fury. He put his right arm up to shield his face, abandoning his hold on the window, which slid back down. He let loose a furious string of words that would've cost him a week without his iPod if his mother had heard. Shoot, he probably would've lost a few days of the Cartoon Channel too with what he'd been muttering.

 

A lousy night for a burglary indeed. The guys better be grateful for this. He'd sit on all their heads, just to show them.

 

Finally, the murderous willow had to be ignored. Moctor's fingers re-found their groove just before numbing over completely, and the window yielded to his straining and yanking. His sturdy frame squeezed through the opening, and he clambered in, first one leg and then the other, into the welcoming dryness of the attic room.

 

He had just closed the window, muffling the howling wind and beating rain, when he thought he heard a creak behind him. Of course, it couldn't be. Nobody lived in this smelly, rotting excuse for a house. It was a museum of some sort now, run by a foundation that kept up the cemetery next door too.

 

Mrs. Wyrminster's class had come here on a school trip last week, filing past the dusty displays of old china and jewelry and all that beaded, lacey, stupid stuff that girls got all gooey over. Who cared? The antique telephones with their fraying cords and black cones for speaking into briefly impressed him until he found out they no longer worked. Thad Finkel spotted a case full of Winchester rifles and bullet casings that looked sweet.

 

None of that stuff, moldering in displays two floors below him, mattered now. What he needed would be somewhere in this room, if that ugly, hunchbacked curator was to believed.

 

But there was that creak of a floorboard again. Closer now.

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