"Agent Vito, cover me! I'm going for the hostages." whispered Mike, as he peered out from behind a crate marked "Fragile". As soon as he did, a spray of machine gun fire greeted him.
"Vito, can you create a distraction?" he asked calmly.
"Sure thing, Boss." Vito replied, grinning as he produced a hand grenade from his cargo pants.
"On three." whispered Mike, who counted off the seconds with his fingers.
"Stop daydreaming, Michael Clusker! I asked you to watch out for Oak Street."
"Sorry, Mom. I wasn't daydreaming, you just scared me when you changed the radio station." he tried tentatively.
"Oh, so now my action movie fan of the year is afraid of a few bullets on a classic radio show?" Asked Mom, raising an eyebrow.
Then she hit the brakes, causing him to lurch forward. "Ah! There it is, Oak Street. You're lucky we didn't miss it." she said, driving down Oak until a large three story home came into view. The sold sign in the yard was a dead giveaway.
"I know it doesn't look like much yet, but it's five times bigger than our old place. And it even has a huge backyard. You always wanted one, now you have a really big one!" said Mom, obviously proud.
"I'm sorry, I just miss my friends. May I please go see my new room?" he asked sadly.
"Of course, but it's not just any old room, Michael. You get the whole third floor! Only we will need to fix it up... Don't worry, I'll help you clean. It's sort of a mess."
"I don't mind cleaning up. You already have a lot to do." he replied.
"Alright... Just holler if you need help. And have fun, I'd be surprised if you didn't find a few cool treasures! Clear out a place for your mat and sleeping bag. The furniture won't be here until Monday."
Gloomily, Mike grabbed his backpack (a constant sidekick on all of his adventures) and the old green canvas duffle bag marked "camping gear". It contained his sleeping bag, as well as other necessities.
"Ugh... So much dust - and cobwebs." he sputtered, coughing and sneezing.
"What's this?" asked Mike, as he saw an old book on the staircase. It looked to be light blue, but might have been grey. Hard to tell, with the thick coat of dust.
"I wonder if it's any good..." he mused, dropping the duffle bag on the step above the book. Sitting on it to avoid the dirty floor, he gently brushed the filth off of the old book.
"No title?" Mike noted, then carefully opened it.
Dear reader, a good book can take you away from the ordinary, on a trip you will never forget. The one you are holding is extra special. It's magical.
Before you turn this page close your eyes, and visualize where and when you would like to be. Once it's done open your eyes, and say "Books are magical." Then turn the page, if you dare.
But beware! You will not be able to return until you have found the twin of this volume, and read its epilogue. Should you perish during your adventure, your body will return to this location. Have fun!"
"I guess it can't hurt to read a few chapters... Mom did say to have fun." he reasoned.
"Now where are you going to take me?" he asked the book, then looked down at his duffle bag.
"I have my backpack and camping gear. So how about a safari? An African safari!" he exclaimed, then shut his eyes and imagined a pride of lions stalking a herd of wildebeest.
Opening his eyes, Mike looked at the plain cover, then back to the epilogue. He turned the page, after saying "Books are magical."
Suddenly he was very hot. It took a few seconds for his eyes to adjust to the intense sun, then he gasped.
"I don't believe it! It worked..." whispered Mike, gazing in wonder at the rich African savannah. A herd of wildebeest grazed placidly in the distance.
"I wonder where the people are?" he thought, rising from his duffle bag. Not seeing anyone, he began to worry.
"I wanted an adventure. But I didn't want to be lost!" he thought desperately.
Not wanting to stray too far from his gear, or lug it around in the heat, Mike explored in a wide circle. Always keeping the bag in sight, he was soon familiar with several acres.
"Wow, that sun's hot!" he exclaimed, and pulled a juice packet out of his backpack.
"Uh oh..." Mike thought, shivering and sweating at the same time. The hairs on the back of his neck were standing straight up.
"Heh heh heeehhhhh!"
Another wild sound rang out across the savannah, this one sounding like maniacal laughter.
Glancing around wildly for some type of weapon, Mike was suddenly alarmed by the lack of trees. "No place to climb up, and not even a good stick to defend myself." he thought.
"Rocks... There must be plenty of rocks around." he whispered, getting down on all fours. Clearing away the dried grass, he found hard packed earth. One spot had a small hard lump, partially visible.
Unable to kick it loose, he removed the Swiss army knife Uncle Walter had given him at Christmas last year. After working it free, he saw that it was much bigger than it first appeared. About soccer ball sized.
It wasn't the rock he had hoped for, but a clay pot. The intricate designs carved on it were fascinating, but the nearby animals were still fresh in his mind.
"I guess I'll just have to take my chances." he thought while nervously watching the sun, which was dipping much too fast for his taste.
Putting the pot in the duffle bag, and removing his sleeping bag, pad, and matches, the frightened boy made a rough camp, using the abundant dry grass as fuel.
"I sure wish those lions and hyenas would go away." Mike thought, huddled deep in his sleeping bag. Several times he peered out, and saw eyes glowing in the firelight. Eventually exhaustion won out, and he fell asleep.
"Ugh... Turn off the heat, Mom..." mumbled Mike, stretching. "Mom?" he asked hopefully, suddenly remembering.
Not wanting to face what he knew to be reality, he stayed in the sweltering bag for as long as he could. Looking out, he saw the hot sun blazing overhead.
" Oh great... What am I going to do?" he thought, as he crawled out to greet the new day. After packing up his gear, he slung the backpack on, and picked up the duffle bag.
"I have to find a safer place. I was a sitting duck last night." he thought to himself. After several hours and three stops for juice and snacks, he came to a decent sized hill. Atop it was a tall figure.
"Help!" he shouted, arms waving frantically.
In response, the figure turned. And aimed a spear in his direction!
"Maybe that wasn't the best idea." he thought, realizing that if the stranger wasn't friendly, he wouldn't be able to escape.
"Maybe if I give him a piece of chocolate? Everybody likes chocolate!" he thought desperately, and began rummaging frantically for the treat.
"What's this? It wasn't there before." he said, as he felt something suspiciously like a book. Glancing up, he saw the warrior approaching, spear still ready.
Pulling the object out, he discovered that it was indeed a book - the twin of the one on the stairs!
"Now I go to the epilogue..." remembered Mike, turning to the last page.
Dear reader, did you have a good adventure? If you are ready to go home, read on.
Before you turn this page close your eyes, and visualize yourself exactly where and when you began your adventure. Then open your eyes, and say "Adventures are grand. But home is even grander." Then turn the page, to end your journey.
Mike glanced up, and saw that the figure was a man who looked like he had walked right out of a National Geographic special! His wary eyes were glued to the boy.
Mike forced himself to close his eyes and concentrate, then opened them and said "Adventures are grand. But home is even grander." then turned the page.
The world went dark. After several minutes, the shape of a stairway took shape, as Mike's eyes adjusted. The book sat innocently next to him, and all was as before.
"Was it just another daydream?" he whispered, somewhat disappointed now that the danger had passed.
Still sitting on the duffle bag, he felt something hard which hadn't been there before. "Could it be?!?!" he asked excitedly, checking.
"It's there!" he shouted triumphantly.
"Is everything okay, Michael? Please come down, dinner is ready." called out Mom in response.
Quickly Mike put the book in the bag, next to the clay pot, and ran up the rest of the stairs. He deposited his bags in the huge, crowded attic, and ran downstairs.
"I'm sorry I was gone so long, Mom." he said first thing, imagining the torment she must have gone through, worrying all night.
"Oh, don't worry about it. It was only a few minutes actually. I made ramen noodles. That attic is easy to get lost in, isn't it?" she asked, smiling.
"You have no idea... But you were right, I did find some cool treasures." he replied, realizing that he must not have been away very long, despite the way he felt.
"Since you're always so excited about camping, how would you like to spend the night in the backyard? Sleep outdoors all alone, like a real explorer?" she suggested.
"Maybe another time, Mom. I think I'd like to have a roof over my head tonight." he said sincerely.
Describe what you see:
I see a book covered in filth. It's probably old, based on how fragile it looks.
Describe what you feel:
I feel like there's probably some magic in that plain old book :) ...