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Authors: Bryce Clark

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BOOK: Red Shirt Kids
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35

FRANCIS LAY ON
the floor of the outer chamber. The chandelier’s strobe-like explosions continued, as sparks rained down upon him. Amy, Sam, Mike, Darren, and Diane stared at Francis. “Is he dead?” Amy whispered. Darren shook his head.

“Nah, I didn’t hurt him—just got him out of the way.”

“He looks dead,” Sam said matter-of-factly.

Mike bent down to get a better look. Suddenly, an amber stream torpedoed from Francis’s bony finger and encircled Mike’s neck.

“Help me!” Mike choked.

Francis sprang to his feet and pulled Mike toward him, the amber noose tightening around his neck.

“Stay back or I’ll strangle him,” Francis warned.

The chandelier’s exploding lights cast eerie shadows, making the expression on Francis’s scarred face even more horrific.

Sam looked down and saw a huge chunk of the doorway that Francis had blasted apart. He caught Amy’s eye and looked at the ceiling. She nodded in understanding.

Amy dove to the ground and tried to kick Francis’s legs out from under him. Francis grabbed Amy’s shirt and lifted her up with one hand. Malice glowed in his eyes. Sam picked up the doorway and flung it at the chandelier with all of his strength. The lights exploded, sending fire that hurtled toward the ground. The antenna on Francis’s shirt glowed red hot, and he screamed, dropping Amy. The amber noose around Mike’s neck loosened, and Mike retreated behind his very strong friend. Francis yanked the antenna off his shirt and stared at the five Red Shirt Kids, poised to fight. He screamed in frustration and stumbled to the wall. Molten amber dripped from his fingertips as he placed his hand on the wall and a wound-like hole opened, giving the children a glimpse into another chamber alight with fire.

“What in the world …” Mike’s voice trailed off as he and the others watched Francis slide into the hole.

“This isn’t over,” Francis cackled. “I’ll be seeing you all again. Very soon.” The hole closed with a great sucking sound. Another huge explosion rocked the chamber, hurtling the movie marquee to the chamber floor and blocking the entryway.

“Look out!” Mike shouted as Amy jumped away just in time.

“We need to get out of here!” shouted Darren.

“How?” Diane shouted back. “The entryway is blocked.” Sparks fell like hailstones as they ducked for cover. The chamber rumbled again, and the stairs to the second floor crumbled. “And there goes our chance to use another door.”

The group watched the scene before them with heavy hearts. Lights exploding, sparks flying, amber burning, and escape routes crumbling before their eyes left them little hope for survival.

“After all this way,” Amy sighed softly.

“Hey, don’t give up,” Sam chided. “There’s got to be a way out.”

Suddenly, a doorway on the second level opened, and Ben stepped inside. He jumped from the second landing to the ground, sailing through the air gracefully before landing on the main floor. His red shirt shimmered.

Ben’s eyes widened as he stared at Diane and Darren. “You guys are okay!”

Diane and Darren just stared back at Ben.

“Ben?” asked Mike. “I didn’t know you—”

“Come on,” Ben said. “This place is about to implode. There’s no time to talk.”

“Wha—” Mike began.

“I’m very, very fast,” he said. “And lucky for you, I can jump. Come on!”

One by one, the Red Shirt Kids jumped on Ben’s back, piggyback style. Ben bounded up to the second-floor landing with each one, sailing through the air as easily as if he were walking.

“Kid can jump,” Darren nodded, impressed.

The chamber’s rumbling increased as Ben jumped for the last time to the landing. Sam looked slightly queasy as he climbed off Ben’s back.

“Dude, you’re solid,” Ben bent over, wheezing.

Amy watched the lights shaking ferociously. “We’d better get out of here!” she yelled over the din of the collapsing tree. “Come on!”

With Ben leading the way, the group of five ran through the tunnel toward the pinpoint of light. The incline was steep, but they could feel their strength increasing with each step.

“Hurry!” Sam yelled, bringing up the rear. The heat behind him was intensifying, and he could see fire licking the sides of the tunnel behind him.

“Everyone, hold hands!” Ben yelled as he took Amy and Diane’s hands in his. With every last ounce of his strength, Ben pulled and ran as fast as he could.

The team of six tumbled out of the passageway and ran for cover as a backdraft shot through the tunnel and out into the forest night. The tree shuddered and exploded as fire and electricity ignited the branches and shot high into the air. Ben, Mike, Amy, Diane, Darren, and Sam collapsed onto the wet, cold ground.

36

POLICE SIRENS RANG
out along Shayler Lane. The front door of Diane and Darren’s house opened, and Frank and Sarah, Diane and Darren’s parents, stepped outside in their pajamas, rubbing sleep from their eyes. They stared ahead as four police cars rounded the corner and came to a stop in front of their house. Sarah fell to her knees, fearing the worst. Frank put his hand on her shoulder. Neighbors opened their doors and walked outside, congregating in small groups. Ben’s father stood silently in front of his house, watching the commotion. One of the police car doors opened, and Darren and Diane rushed out of the car and headed for their parents. Frank’s mouth hung open in shock, and Sarah’s tears flowed freely, as Diane and Darren tumbled into their mother’s embrace. Frank dropped to his knees, and his large arms encircled them all. Other police car doors opened, and Mike, Sam, Amy, Ben, Laura, Kathy, and David stepped out. Ben’s father rushed to Ben’s side but then stopped hesitantly. Ben looked up at his father, whose eyes were brimming with worry.

“Are you all right?” Ben’s father asked.

Ben nodded, and his father put an arm tentatively around him. Ben leaned into his dad for the first time in years.

“I was, um, worried about you,” said Ben’s father, trying to hold back his tears.

“I’m okay, Dad,” said Ben. “Let’s go home. I just need to do one thing first.”

Ben strode over to Mike, reached into his pocket for the voice distortion toy, and placed it in Mike’s hand. Mike looked down at the toy, then back at Ben, and offered a sheepish smile.

Sam’s grandma was watching the news in her hospital room. The news reporter on the scene in front of Diane and Darren’s home was talking into a microphone.

“This, folks, is just amazing. After several months of searching, the children have been reunited with their family. Details have yet to be released, but talk concerns Francis Mayfield, a descendant of the Falton family thought to have died in a fire that consumed his house years ago.”

The television showed viewers a picture of Francis before he was burned. Grandma stared at the image, and a lone tear dropped from her eye. The glimmer of her red shirt peeked out beneath the fabric of her robe.

37

DAVID CREPT INTO
the kitchen. He opened the fridge and looked around stealthily. He took out a slice of chocolate cake.

“Busted,” said Mike’s voice.

David dropped the cake to the floor in his surprise.

The lights flicked on, and a flannel shirt floated in the air. Mike suddenly appeared wearing it.

David shook his head and then laughed as Laura and Amy walked into the kitchen.

“It was you, David?” asked Laura.

“It wasn’t just me,” David protested.

Mike grinned. “It was mostly me, but I knew I hadn’t taken
that
many pieces!”

Laura smiled softly then straightened. “Well, come on. Let’s all get some sleep,” she said briskly.

“The police really believe that we just found Darren and Diane wandering in the forest?” asked Mike.

“When we called them, we decided to leave out the part about the red shirts,” Laura smiled knowingly. “If that’s okay with you. We’ll have plenty of time to talk about your, um, talents tomorrow.”

“Wait,” Amy stopped in her tracks. “Does that mean you want us to
use
them?”

Laura looked at David. David shrugged. “Maybe. Just look at what you were able to do,” said Laura.

“We helped bring them home,” said Mike. He glanced at Amy, who nodded and smiled.

“But there have got to be some rules,” insisted Laura.

Amy and Mike looked at each other and laughed. “We know!”

A
CKNOWLEDGMENTS

A WRITER SITS
alone at work, but his journey is never a solo job. I couldn’t have written this book without the support of many people. I have to start with my father, who came up with the Red Shirt Kids stories when I was a kid. Along with my mom, he always supported my dream to be a writer. I hit the jackpot in the parent lottery. My wife, Steph, has also been incredibly helpful—often shaking her head as she watched me stare off into the distance, lost in my stories—always encouraging me to keep going, to keep trying. I shaped the story for this book when I began telling my kids the same Red Shirt Kids tales that my father had told me. They were great listeners and enthusiastic participants, especially my three oldest, Spenser, Maddy, and Parker.

My siblings, Erin, Jonathan, Andrew, Michael, Jennifer, and Julia, are co-conspirators as the original Red Shirt Kids audience. They’ve all been hugely supportive. My brother Mike and his wife, Hannah, author of the book
Cobbogoth,
read the book and helped me get it into better shape. Their backing was crucial. I also have to give a special thanks to Jonathan, his wife, Deborah, and their son, my nephew, Isaac. They introduced Isaac to an early draft of this book, and Isaac’s continued enthusiasm motivated me to keep trying—and helped me believe that maybe I could actually do this. Thanks, buddy.

I was very fortunate to get the book into the hands of Amy Cook of Sourced Media Books. Her support and enthusiasm helped carry this book into publication. She also edited the book, and her talents have helped make the book a better read. My business partners, Justin Lyon, Richard Bennett, and Jason deVilliers, have also been great allies. Justin was the one who got the book to Amy, and he’s been there every step of the way helping me prepare for publication. Rich and his wife, Amber, read the manuscript, and their support was great. Rich and Glen Edelstein also designed the cover for the book, which I love. My sometimes collaborator on screenplays, Gabe Martinez, read the book and said, “Dude, this is like an actual book.” That was great.

Finally, I began writing stories (in screenplay form) over eighteen years ago. I’ve lived the Malcolm Gladwell adage of 10,000 hours—except, in my case, it was more like 15,000. Along the way, I had many points where I almost gave it up; but, I got support and advice from many people who helped me keep going, who gave me enough encouragement to hold onto this dream of being a professional writer. It may have just been a brief sentence of encouragement, but when you’re an unproven writer, those small sentences are manna from heaven. Each of the following helped in some way to keep me on the writer’s journey: Ethan Vogt, Mark Schmitt, Joe O’Donnell, Lew Hunter, John Whittington, John Davis, Ken Lipper, Bill Block, Bret Wunderli, James Huntsman, Brad Williams, Jason Ipson, Jaime Burke, Cathy Tarr, Danielle Sterling, Sandy Climan, Eric Young, Ben Banks, Phil Tuckett, Ben Braten, Brad Thomas, Amelia Lyon, Kelly deVilliers, Matt Funk, Brian Bradford, George McPhee, Marci McPhee, Krista Iverson, Mitch Ashby, Colby and Shana Ashby, Jake Moffat, Bruno Tremblay, Manda Salls, Travis Ashby, Carla Tishler, Glenn Beck, Wendy Guild Swearingen, Chris Saul, Mischa Barton, Cyle West, Alex Beh, Kim Huffman, Melora Hardin, Jory Cordy, Bob Gay, Dave Owen, Zach Thomson, Paul Garner, James Clarke, Amy Sobo, Jane Sobo, Jonathan Braun, Dave Braun, Kelly Crabb, and many, many others. Thank you for your support and for keeping the Red Shirt Kids dream alive.

BOOK: Red Shirt Kids
13.55Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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