Chapter 7

The Shed

“Got any ideas, sir?” Trevor asked.  He was getting impatient and couldn’t stand sitting quietly any longer, waiting for who knew what.

“If somehow I could get a message to her to stay put she might have a chance of figuring things out; though it’s highly unlikely.”

“Why’s that?”

“Because she’s only seen things in dreams without any explanation as to what they might mean.”  Kash paced the floor slowly while verbalizing fragments of different ideas, trying to remember something that might help him solve the problem.  He began to imagine what might happen if he couldn’t get her back in time.

“I can’t sit here any longer, Mr. Bott.  I’m going to search the property some more. Maybe I missed something that would tell me where she’s gone.”  Trevor set out to make a more thorough search of the yard.  Kash wasn’t paying much attention to him and didn’t notice that he had left the room.

*************************************

“Miss Graham?” one of the librarians whispered.  “Miss Graham?”

Lila sat unresponsive, staring at the deed to the house.  She was lost in her own thoughts, trying to figure out why Amber would unexpectedly and so willingly give up the house that she had chosen over the love of her only sister.

“Lila!” Her assistant finally spoke out in a volume that was unacceptably loud for the library, forcing her attention.  “Another small package arrived in the mail.  Do you want me  to put it in the room for you?”

Lila’s lips tightened into a thin line as she shook her head rigidly from side to side.  “You know the answer to that, Marlene.  Why do you keep asking?”

Marlene rudely tossed the box on the desk and said, “I don’t know what the big deal is.  It’s only a box and I’m simply trying to save you the effort of unlocking that hideous bolt.  You ought to cut a 4-inch hole in the wall and just drop them in.  It’d be easier than bothering with that nasty lock!”

“Yes, and give you an opportunity to see what’s inside!”

“Oh you’re such a control freak, Lila!” Marlene snapped.

“And you’re on thin ice, Marlene,” retorted Lila.  “Best you get back to work!”

“When are you going to trust me?   They’re only little brown boxes.  I would never open one.”

“It has nothing to do with trust Marlene. This is something that I’ve been charged with since I took this position from my grandmother.  I don’t understand why there has to be such strict rules, but there are.  I made her a promise before she died and I have no intention of breaking it to suit your overly zealous curiosity.”

Marlene let out a huff of disgust, shoved the chair out of her path and stomped away.

*********************************

Trevor had searched the grounds several times until all that was left to search was the old shed in the far corner.  The only problem was the padlock that held a two-by-four firmly in place across the only door.  The windows had been boarded shut many years earlier and the shutters were both hanging crooked from weather worn hinges that had finally rusted through.  He went around back to see if there was another way in and discovered that the old shed was built snugly up against the tall wooden fence that bordered the yard.  There was barely enough room to squeeze a head between them and it would have to be a fairly small one at that.  However, he could see there was one window that hadn’t been boarded up and it was only about six inches from where he stood.  He suspected it would be a risky undertaking for his head, but maybe, if he kept it pointed straight ahead he could move in far enough to see what was inside.  He placed one hand against the fence and the other on the side of the old shed and inched his head in carefully.  He stretched his neck out as far as he could and peered into the window from out of the corner of his eye.  All he could see was some tattered furniture, scattered yard tools and a few pots that were stacked without any organized thought.  The rug was crumpled and filthy from years of dirt.  It was pretty obvious Mattie wasn’t inside.  On his last glance around the interior he noticed an opening in the floor that the wrinkled rug revealed.  “H-m-m-m-m” he thought to himself, “that’s interesting; I wonder where that leads to.”  As he started to pull his head back, his ears began folding over, wedging them tighter against the frame with each tug.  The more he yanked, the tighter it got.  The tighter it got, the more nervous he became.  Claustrophobia set in, creating anxiety and an urgent need to hurry and get free.  The more he hurried, the greater number of slivers found a home in the tender flesh on the edges of his ears.

“Crap!  OUCH!” he yelped.  Panic set in and he started kicking the shed with his foot and banging on it with his hand.  To his surprise the deteriorated structure crumbled easily.  He was able to pull the rest apart and within seconds his head was free.  After he shook the splinters out of his hair, he realized he had opened up a pretty good sized hole in the wall that was just big enough to crawl through.  It would be an awkward squeeze, but once he was in he figured he could push the chairs and tools to the edges of the room to clear a path to lift the rug.  His curiosity peaked.  He could hardly contain his excitement.  He worked as fast as he could and sure enough, to his delight, when the center of the room was cleared he could see there was a trap door in the floor.  He threw back the rug; choking a bit on the dust it kicked up.  He reached down, stuck his fingers into the latch and lifted the lid.  “Man, that stinks down there!” he mumbled.  “I probably shouldn’t be doing this.”

“Trevor!” Kash called from the back door.  “Where are you?”

Trevor, startled by Kash’s voice, stood up quickly, banging his head into some rusty pans that were dangling from the hooks in the ceiling.  He let out a yelp as the pans clanked together several times before he could reach up to quiet them.

Kash, hearing the pans, darted out the door towards the shed.  “Trevor…..what are you doing in there?” He yelled as he ran.  He stuck his head through the newly broken hole and glared at Trevor.  “What’s the matter with you, boy?  How dare you break into my property?  Don’t you know that when something is locked it means you’re not welcome?”

“I’m sorry sir, I was looking for Mattie when my head got stuck between the fence and the shed and…”

“And so you caved…in…the wall?  Did you think Mattie locked herself inside somehow from the outside?  You come out of there right now!”  Kash demanded.  “We’ve got work to do.”  Kash hoped to distract him from the tunnel he had recently discovered by nudging him impatiently all the way across the lawn to the house.

***********************************

“We’ve got to make sure we write these instructions clearly for your father and hope your young man loves you enough to take the leap of faith we’re suggesting.”

“I don’t follow you, Mom.”

“Every Trekker has to have their own Splitter in order to move them forward in time; back to their original location.  The Splitter is typically a spouse, but can be a blood relative in a pinch.  Your dad won’t be able to bring you back because he is…was my Splitter and if I really am dead in your realm, he’s lost his powers; and…you’re not married yet, dear.”

“I think I would have been in a couple of months if all this crazy stuff hadn’t happened.  I’m sure he loves me, too.”

Amber sighed.  “Let’s hope that’s the case because love will be the major factor in what I’m about to propose.  We’ll create a marriage vow that is sealed by time and your love for each other.  If you’re both willing to do this, it just might work!”  Amber turned her attention to the book and began writing.  After several minutes she wrapped her arm around Mattie’s shoulder.  “Is there anything you want to say to Trevor before I end the instructions?”

Mattie’s eyes circled the room as she thought.  “Tell him… that I love him.  Put down that I’ve had a crush on him since the beginning of our senior year in high school and that I know we are made for each other.  Tell him if he doesn’t know in his heart that I’m the girl for him, I’ll find him somehow and wring his neck!”  Mattie started to get emotional.

Amber chuckled softly.  “I’m sure he’ll feel your love when he reads your words, dear.”  She wrote the words that Mattie had said, basically, with a touch of discretion, placed it in an envelope and sealed it.

Outside the window Amber heard the car pulling into the driveway.  “Here they come,” Amber said, “we should be in the living room when they first see you.  Let me do the talking.”

They hurried down the stairs to take their positions.  Amber sat down on the couch and waved Mattie to sit on the love seat on the other side of the room.  They both fluffed their hair briefly and took a deep breath in an attempt to calm down.

The front door swung open and Kash strolled into the room.  “We’re home!” he called out happily in search for a response.

“We’re in here,” Amber replied.

Kash continued over to the stairwell with an 11 year old Mattie following close behind him.  “Who’s this?”

“This is Mat…Madeline…Madeline Graham, a cousin of mine from back east.”  Amber turned to Mattie and said, “Madeline, this is my husband Kash and my daughter Mattison.”

“How do you do?” said Mattie.  “It’s a pleasure to meet you both.”

Kash patted his young daughter on the back of her head and said, “Here, Mattie, I’ll take the poles and you take the fish into the kitchen.  Fill the sink with some cold water and dump ‘em in.  I’ll be in to help in just a minute.”

Little Mattie nodded her head courteously to her eight year older self and forced a simple smile.  She said, “Excuse me please,” and headed for the kitchen to carry out her father’s instructions.

Kash tossed the poles and his fishing vest on the steps and walked into the living room to shake Mattie’s hand.  “My goodness, Amber, she could be your twin.  How’d you say she’s related to us?”

“Please don’t leave those there,” said Amber, pointing towards the fishing equipment, trying to distract him from continuing the conversation.

“I won’t…I’ll put everything away after I get the fish cleaned.  Tell me again how she fits into the family?”  If anything, Kash was a persistent man, not easily distracted.

“Well… she’s from my grandmother’s sister’s son’s daughter who stayed back east when the family moved west.”

“What?”  Kash laughed. He turned towards Mattie and said pleasantly, “I’m not sure what my wife just said, but welcome!  Any relative of Amber’s is a relative of mine.  Will you be staying with us for a while?”

Mattie blushed and said, “Only over night.  I have to be on my way tomorrow morning.”  She glanced over at Amber for help, hoping she’d reroute the conversation before her father asked her any more questions.

“That’s hardly enough time to get to know you at all.”  Kash said.

Amber stood up and started walking over to the pile of equipment on the steps. “We can talk more at dinner, dear.  Perhaps you could do us all a favor and take all of your smelly, fishy things into the kitchen.”  She smiled sweetly at Kash, as she always did, when she wanted something done immediately.  He could never resist and she knew it.

“I’ll get those, dear.  You tend to our guest.”  Kash snatched up the smelly gear and headed for the kitchen.

**********************************

Lila could see the lights on in several rooms of the old house as she pulled up to the curb.  “I knew it was too good to be true,” she said angrily to herself as she turned off the car.  She could see someone in the living room pacing the floor.  “They’re not going to make a fool of me this time,” she thought and restarted her car.   “I’ll show them that I’m not going to put up with their lies any more.  We’ll see what they say when I come back with a policeman and a court order from Judge Whipple to vacate.”  She cranked the car in gear and hastily pressed on the gas pedal, causing the tires to squeal a bit as she pulled out.

The squealing noise reminded Kash that Lila was supposed to come over to check out the house after work.  “Oops, I’ll bet that was Lila.  I was planning to be gone by now.   She’s probably ticked that Amber didn’t show up to talk to her like she asked her to this afternoon.  I hope she hasn’t gone to get the police, though that would be just like her to do that.”

Trevor was nervous.  Kash could see he was turning pale and was at a loss as to what to do.

“We’ve got to grab what we can and get out of here before she gets back.  You go upstairs and start dragging down the suitcases Mattie packed and I’ll pull the car closer to the house.”

Kash grabbed the keys and flew out the door.  Trevor ran up the stairs and started hauling the bags down to the porch as fast as he could.  Kash opened the trunk and all of the doors to make it as easy as possible to throw the items in faster.  He took off for the house, trying to think if he was forgetting anything.   As he ran through the door, Trevor was running out with two pieces of luggage.   They hit head on in the doorway, knocking both of them to the ground unconscious.  Kash began to stir first.  He crawled over to Trevor and tried to wake him up.  Trevor was out cold!  Kash pulled him up over his back as best he could and staggered towards the car.

“What’s going on over there?” called out Mrs. Schnettle, after hearing the commotion from her front patio.

Kash could barely see her beady little eyes peering over the hedge.  Her head was bobbing up and down from standing on her tip toes and her nose was pointed almost straight up in the air…as usual.

“Oh, a-a-a…. This young man is Amber’s…um… nephew and he wanted to spend a few days of his break with us.  He slipped on a puddle of water in the kitchen and knocked himself out.  I’ve got to get him to the hospital…NOW!”

Kash resented the feeling of being required to explain anything to his nosy, meddling neighbor.  She was such a pain!

“Are you going to put him in the trunk?” she said in her high, critical voice.

“No, of course not!” Kash snapped, “I was bringing in his luggage when I heard him fall.   I’ve got to go.”  Kash laid Trevor carefully in the back seat, closed everything that was open and pulled out into the road.  He could see her in his rearview mirror, watching him drive away.

“Oh-h-h-h-h…what happened?”  Trevor said in long slurred words as he woke up.”

“Are you alright?”

“Yeah; my head aches, but I’ll be fine.  Where am I?”

“You’re in the car and I’m sorry I ran into you.”  Kash rolled to a stop and turned off the key.   “We’re on the other side of the block from the house.  We’ll have to sit here for a few minutes until my nosy neighbor leaves for her evening prowl of the neighborhood.  She always takes the same route at the same time every night and early in the morning.  She goes the opposite direction from where we are; the route she calls the “juicy” side of the town.  We’ll be safe where we are.  She always coincidentally runs into her only friend two blocks down and around the corner.  From there they start making the rounds together, sharing rumors and creating some of their own about the people that live in each home they pass.”

“Wow, what an exciting life.  To think I wasted all those years and my parents wasted all that money for school when I could have apprenticed under this extraordinary woman for a thrilling career in neighborhood watch!”  Trevor exclaimed, sarcastically.

“This isn’t funny, Trevor.  She saw me putting you in the car.  She could cause us a lot of trouble.  We’ll have to wait here a few more minutes and then it’ll be safe to go home.  I’ll get the rest of my stuff and you go out back.  See if you can nail some boards over the hole you smashed in on the side of the shed.  Be sure and close the trap door and cover it with the rug first.  I’ll explain later.”

CHAPTER 8 (Coming next week…)

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