Authors: Elizabeth Kay
Tags: #Fantasy, #Fiction, #Action & Adventure - General, #Children's Books, #Magic, #Juvenile Fiction, #Fantasy & Magic, #Ages 9-12 Fiction, #Children: Grades 4-6, #Humorous Stories, #Science Fiction; Fantasy; Magic
(The Divide #3)
Felix is back at school, but things aren't back to normal! Rhino, the class bully, snatches the mysterious Brandee lamp he'd kept from his last adventure (in BACK TO THE DIVIDE), and next thing you know, a djinn has taken Rhino hostage and is demanding that Felix return him home to the mystical, back-to-front world. But no sooner is the djinn's wish granted than Rhino escapes into the villainous protection of Skullcap, new chief nasty of the Japegrins. It's up to Felix and Betony to once again use their wits to save both worlds from the ultimate explosive threat of mixed-up science and magic.
The Jinx on the Divide (The Divide #3)
RECALL OF DANGEROUS GOODS
Old Jinx' boxes made before the Common Language was adopted can be extremely malicious. They are capable of tricking people into saying and doing things they later regret..
We believe that all such boxes have now boor, destroyed, but if you know of one still in existence, please contact our magical hoi Li no by crystal ball, as a matter of urgency."
-MALICE NOW REMOVED!-
NEW IMPROVED JINX BOXES ARE JUST FOR FUN!
It was a dark and drizzly December, and the first lesson was art. Drawing wasn't Felix's favorite subject, and especially not still life -- which was why he'd left the subject matter up to his mother. He wondered idly what she'd put in his bag for him to draw. She'd seemed quite pleased with herself that morning. No, science was what he liked best, and what he was best
As he turned the corner, he saw Stephen Rheinhart, otherwise known as Rhino, lounging against the radiator. With his mass of naming red hair, he was hard to miss.
Rhino noticed Felix looking at him. "Carry your bag,
he sneered, snatching it and dropping it onto the floor. It burst open, and pens and pencils rolled everywhere. When Felix made no attempt to retrieve any of his belongings, Rhino snickered, "What's up, prof? Seen a ghost?"
In a way,
thought Felix, staring in horror at a brass lamp that lay there, mute and accusing, on the stone floor.
"What's that?" asked Rhino. "Your tacky little prop for
the art lesson?" When Felix didn't reply, he booted the lamp across the deserted corridor. It landed with a loud clunk against the opposite wall, and rocked back and forth a couple of times before coming to rest.
"Don't," said Felix.
"You don't understand," said Felix. He felt a bit dizzy -- the way he used to feel in the old days, when he'd been very ill. Coming across the lamp like this had been a shock, because he'd forgotten all about it. His mother must have thought it would be perfect for the art class.
Rhino picked it up, grinned, peered down the spout, and recited in a silly voice, "I command you, djinn, now appear ..."
"No!" cried Felix, appalled. "You mustn't!"
Rhino's smile widened -- then it froze on his face. Something golden and gaseous had started to seep out of the lamp's spout. A moment later, it was streaming out, like steam from a boiling kettle, glittering as it swirled. He dropped the lamp as though it were red-hot.
The golden gas changed shape until it became a man, dressed in a full-length garment that billowed out like washing on a windy day. He had pointed ears and raven-black hair, and he was wearing a curved dagger in his belt. He surveyed Rhino for a moment -- the red hair seemed to surprise him -- then his expression darkened. He bowed from the waist and said, "Greetings."
[Image: The man and the lamp.]
"You're an illusionist, aren't you?" said Rhino. "I think I've seen you on TV."
"He's a djinn," said Felix miserably. "Although he calls himself a brandee."
"Give me a break!" scoffed Rhino. "This isn't an Arabian night, it's daytime England."
"England," mused the brandee. He looked appraisingly at Rhino. "I suppose you want either wealth beyond your wildest dreams or the most beautiful woman in the world?"
"Just the wealth, thanks," said Rhino.
"I'm not quite sure how things work in this world," said the brandee. "This is the first time I've been out of my lamp on this side of the Divide, you see ..." He cast a venomous glance at Felix. "And being out of my lamp is even more welcome than hailstones the size of pomegranates." His eyes suddenly turned as glittery-sharp and piercing as the dagger in his belt. "You have not kept your word, Felix Sanders," he hissed. "You promised me you would look for a scientific way to turn me into a proper being. Spending most of your life as a cloud of gas is as disappointing as liver without onions."
Before he could elaborate on this, a man in a gray suit rounded the corner. The brandee turned to look, and Felix took the opportunity to kick the lamp a little farther away. The man in the gray suit turned out to be the principal. "What's going on here?" he asked.
"Nothing, Mr. Goodbody," said Felix hastily.
The brandee burst out laughing. "Goodbody? I'd like a good body. This one's no fun at all."
"And just who, exactly, are you?" asked the principal, who'd heard every joke ever made about his name and was consequently unmoved.
"He's from the local drama group," said Felix quickly. "He's helping out with the pantomime."
"Oh, yes," said the principal, who liked to appear as though he always remembered every tiny detail about both the school and its pupils.
[Image: Mr. Goodbody.]
He treated them all to one of his sarcastic smiles, and walked away. Once he had turned the corner, they were on their own again.
"Now you see him, now you don't," Rhino said with a smirk.
An expression of sheer disbelief came over the brandee's face. He grabbed Rhino by the throat, slammed him back against the wall, and said,
did you say?"
Rhino's eyes bulged, and he croaked,
The brandee looked as though he really couldn't quite believe what he'd just heard. "That is a word of great power," he said.
power. It is a pity that you did not utter it in my world, for the result would have been even more spectacular. Understand this: You have released me from my obligations to you.
I do not have to grant you any wishes at all."
He let go of Rhino, who took a deep, shuddering breath. Then he turned to Felix, tight-lipped. "I see now that your promise to find me a scientist was a lie. This time, I shall compel you." He grabbed Rhino by the ear and twisted it, hard.
Rhino yelped and struggled for a moment -- then the brandee drew his dagger, pushed the point against Rhino's spine, and forced him over to the lamp. "Pick it up," he ordered, without letting go of the ear.
Rhino picked it up.
"Now rub it."
Rhino rubbed it.
Then, as Felix watched, horror-struck, both the brandee and Rhino turned to gas and streamed back into the lamp.
The lamp clattered to the floor. Felix picked it up and peered down the spout. He could see nothing, but he could hear voices.
"What's going on?" Rhino was yelling, although his voice was tinny and distant. "Where am I?"
"You're my hostage," replied the brandee. "In your dreams," snorted Rhino.
There was a scrabbling sound followed by a slither, as Rhino presumably tried to climb back up the spout and failed.
Felix put his mouth to the nozzle and called, "Let him go!"
"No way!" the brandee called back. "Not until you get me a real scientist!"
Felix put the lamp into his bag and stood there, thinking. He'd brought it back with him, from the magical world on the other side of the Divide, wrapped in some clothing and forgotten at the bottom of his backpack. His mom must have unpacked it and put it somewhere. She'd remembered it when the art class was mentioned, and dropped it into his schoolbag. Good thing she hadn't polished it first.
It was doubtful that Rhino's disappearance would cause a nationwide manhunt, for he'd disappeared too many times before. The flaming red hair wasn't at school all that often, because Rhino liked playing hooky. He'd been known to disappear for days, when even his mother didn't know where he was -- and she didn't care much, either, if her shouting
match with the principal a few days earlier had been anything to go by.
"I'm not his jailer!" she'd yelled at Mr. Goodbody. "And you can't blame him for goofing off when he wasn't given no careers advice!"
"He said he wanted to be in rocket science, Mrs. Rheinhart," the principal had icily replied. "We didn't think it was very funny, not after the storage shed incident."
Rhino's mother thought it was hilarious. "He always has a firework or two in his pocket, bless him. And that old shed needed knocking down. Saved you the cost, didn't it?"
Half the school must have heard her. Felix couldn't imagine what it would be like to have a mother like that -- but meeting Rhino in the school corridor had been a very bad way to start the day.
In his heart of hearts, Felix knew there was only one thing he could do -- take the lamp back across the Divide to the other world, where it belonged. His elf friend Betony was flying over in a couple of days for Christmas, by magic carpet -- something he was looking forward to even more than Christmas itself. He could ask her to release the brandee in her own world, and bring Rhino back home again. It sounded like a tall order, though, and not the way to greet an old friend.
The art class was miserable. Felix was given detention for forgetting his still-life object, but there was no way he was going to take the lamp out of his bag. He sat there, drawing
someone else's teapot and fantasizing about dropping the lamp down a well or burying it in quick-setting concrete. But each time, his mind's eye watched it resurrect itself, like a mummy from a horror film, and he imagined the brandee searching for him, dagger drawn, bent on vengeance.
Right when he got home, he put the lamp at the bottom of his closet. He didn't want any awkward questions just before Betony's arrival. His mom knew nothing about the other world; she thought Betony was a friend he'd made in Cornwall. As long as Betony kept her elfin ears covered, she could pass for human.
Dad's the problem,
He knows everything. He'd go mental if he suspected there was a djinn on the loose. He's forbidden me to visit Betony's world again, because he thinks it's too dangerous. Like he's the expert? He may have had a ride on a magic carpet last summer -- in
world -- but what does
know about heavy-duty wands, or traveling by dragon, or out-riddling sphinxes?
And then he thought: /
hope Rhino hasn't got any of his firecrackers with him. Letting one of those off inside a magic lamp is just the kind of stupid thing he might do -- but nothing would be as bad as taking an unexploded one to the other world. If it got into the wrong hands, it would be a recipe for disaster.
"Kidnapping's a criminal offense," said Rhino, once he'd decided there was no way back up the spout.
This is not
he told himself firmly. /
must have fallen down the school garbage chute and knocked myself out for a moment.
The brandee laughed.
Rhino glanced around. He was standing in the middle of a small dome-shaped room furnished with cushions, a low table, and a Turkish carpet. Light came from a number of lanterns, placed in little alcoves. Presumably, they were in some kind of cellar inside the school. There were two doors set into the brass walls. Before the brandee could stop him, Rhino darted across to one and opened it. For a moment, he thought he'd found himself in a flower shop -- then he noticed the vine and the compost heap and the wooden box full of seedlings and realized it was a greenhouse. Bizarre. Was there a grating in the ceiling somewhere that let in the light?
"The other door leads to my study," said the brandee helpfully.
"How long are you going to keep me here?" asked Rhino.
"A century or two ought to do it," replied the brandee.
Since the brandee was obviously as crazy as a loon, Rhino decided to explore the study on his own. It wasn't very big. It smelled of old books and furniture polish, and it didn't lead anywhere at all. He returned to the main chamber. The brandee was sitting on one of the cushions, reading. Rhino sat down on another cushion and decided to sulk.
After a couple of hours of sulking produced no reaction,
Rhino got hungry, so he broke the silence by saying, "What's for lunch?"
The brandee looked up from his book. "Lunch?" he said. "I don't eat, human child. I'm a magical being."
"You're round the twist," said Rhino, with feeling.
"Absolutely," agreed the brandee. "I didn't think you knew anything about magic, though."
"What?" Rhino felt the conversation slipping away from him.
"It would be more accurate to say I was around the half-twist," explained the brandee patiently, "like a sinistrom."
"What?" said Rhino again. "A sinistrom. A devil-hyena."
Rhino couldn't think of a single thing to say, but fortunately his stomach rumbled loudly instead.
"That is a sign of hunger, isn't it?" said the brandee. "What happens if you don't get anything to eat?"
"I die," said Rhino spitefully. "And you lose your hostage."
The brandee closed his book. "In that case," he said, "I'd better grant you three wishes. What would you like to eat?"
"An endless supply of hamburgers," said Rhino immediately.
The brandee clapped his hands, and a plate appeared on the table. The delicate porcelain was rose-pink on one side and pure gold on the other. The hamburger that materialized on it looked out of place even to Rhino, but it was filled with