Authors: James Kahn
“What do you think they got in the bags?” whispered Data.
Nobody answered. But I think we all had an idea.
Jake, Francis, and Mama came right back out again and got in the car and drove off.
The wind started to blow, that old October wind, and I got this warm sort of flush all over, the way I feel when they give
me a shot for asthma in the emergency room,
kind of excited but real, real calm. “Hey,” I said, “the place is ours.”
They all looked at me. I felt… I don't know, magic somehow.
Chunk looked scared and sick. “Our parents are gonna be worried, guys. C'mon, let's go home.”
“What home?” I snapped at him. I didn't like snapping at Chunk, but it just came out. “In a couple more hours it's not gonna
home anymore.” And then it all spun around my mind, all at once—the crazy old lady with the taste for tongues, and the thing
in the basement, and the bags that probably had bodies in them, and how brave I wasn't, and the car with the bullet holes
in it that might've been chased by the cops earlier that day, so maybe that meant there was a reward for these guys, mean-lookin'
Jake and fruity Francis, and how even if everything went wrong, these guys weren't gonna kill five kids, and how there was
absolutely without doubt a major treasure in there somewhere, and it was ours if we could follow the map, and how the eviction
tomorrow was sad but in a funny way real free, like there was nothin' to lose anymore, and everything before this moment was
ancient history, and only this ancient map was real. It was a map of right now, and I was magic in this Halloween wind, I
knew I was. I was in some kind of groove, like when you know you made the basket the second the ball leaves your fingers,
like I was hearing this music no one else could hear, like it was a perfect chord, and not only that, but I'd heard it before.
You know what I mean?
So I tried to explain it to the guys. “C'mon, guys. This is
.” That's the only way I could explain it.
I pulled the map from my pocket and tried to read it. It was too dark, though. “Anybody got a match?” I said.
A small flame appeared. Then a second. We looked up. There, holding two matches, were Andy and Stef.
Andy's eyes sparkled in the match light, they were so clear. But her hand was shaking, and it was obvious right away that
she didn't much like being in a cemetery. “Hi, Brand,” she said.
Brand smiled and let go of me.
Stef sat next to Mouth. “Whatcha doin' in the graveyard?” She winked at him. “Diggin' up new girlfriends?”
“Don't knock it,” he cracked. “Stiffs are a lot warmer than you.”
I knew we were gonna do it then. Stef and Mouth would egg each other on, and besides, Mouth would think of how he could mouth
off about it at school on Monday. And Brand would want to impress Andy and show her how cool he was and tougher than jerky
Troy Perky. And Chunk would want to make up stories about it for years, and he'd never live it down if we all did it and he
didn't, and we had wilder stories than his, and ours were true. And Data would never have another chance like this to really
do something like 007. And I
reasons. And if all the rest of us were gonna have this adventure, I was damn sure Andy wasn't gonna just sit here in this
creepy old graveyard all by herself. So, all of a sudden right then, I just knew we were gonna do it. So I lit another match
and studied the map.
Brand looked kind of puzzled at Andy. “What're you doin' here?”
“We followed you. We drove around with Troy for a while, but he was being a real spas-ass—you know, tilting the rearview mirror
so he could look down my shirt.” She shrugged, real cool. “So I elbowed his lip.”
Brand smiled like he liked that answer. I didn't pay much attention to them after that, though—I was too
interested in figuring out exactly where we were on the map. And where we were going.
“Okay,” I said, holding the parchment in front of me, “if it's thirty paces… one… two… three…” I began to walk.
Data stopped me, though. “No, Mikey. Your feet are too small. We must do this scientifically.” He took a calculator out of
Mouth pushed Data out of the way, though. “Paces are paces. You think this Willy dude had a calculator?” He started walking
in the direction I'd started, with much longer strides. Right toward the restaurant.
He counted off the paces like Elmer Fudd. “One… two… twee… Shhh! Be vewy vewy quiet! I'm hunting wabbits! Hee hee hee heel”
That's the way he let off nervous energy, you know, clowning around.
He kept walking, though, and we followed. I was excited—we were all really in it together now. Mouth was trying to be a big
shot, and Stef was trying to see him fall on his face. Chunk was scared but stickin' with his Goony brothers. And Andy was
gettin' coy with Brand.
“Poor Troy,” I heard her say. “Guess he won't be makin' out with anybody for a while. Boy, am I gonna miss that.” Then she
snuggled up real close to Brand and said softer, “C'mon, Brandy. Let's get out of here. Graveyards freak me out.”
I didn't have to look—I could hear the gleam in Brand's eye. He was sizin' this up as the best night of his life. I saw him
turn back with her, but then he stopped and said, “I can't leave without my brother. Just hold on, one second…”
We were already at the front door of the place by the time he caught up with us, though.
The front door was locked. Mouth tried it. I tried it. Nothin' doin'.
Chunk was standing there real tense, and that gave Mouth an idea. “Hey, Chunk,” he said, “I got some naked Polaroids of your
mom takin' a bath. Wanna buy 'em cheap?”
That was Chunk's last straw. He charged at Mouth like a linebacker. At the last second Mouth dodged out of the way, and, Chunk
smashed into the door, breaking the old rusty lock that was holding it closed, and falling into the front room.
Another Chunky accident. Mouth laughed like Eddie Haskel on
Leave It to Beaver
and casually walked inside.
Chunk was really upset now. He brushed himself off as he stood. “Now my mom's really gonna kill me. I'll have to pay for this
door out of my allowance, and my dad's gonna cut my allowance off—
“Chunk,” I whispered, “we're all gonna be rich.”
Andy shouted from outside. “I'm going home. You guys are gonna get in big trouble!”
I saw her turn to go, and she walked right into a big stone gargoyle sitting on one of the tombstones. She jumped about a
foot in the air and then trotted over to us—to Brand, actually, who hugged her like a brave soldier, which meant he was with
us now for sure, since he wasn't about to be shown up in front of Andy by his wimpy little brother.
Inside, Mouth kept counting paces, back with his Elmer Fudd routine. “Twenty-eight… twenty-nine… toity. This is it! That wascally
wabbit must be under here!”
Stef rolled her eyes to the ceiling. “You can stop auditioning to be popular. You don't impress rue anymore.”
“I'd rather dive into a swimming pool full of razor
blades than impress you,” he said. Which was obviously bullshit.
I looked at the map. “We gotta get to the lowest spot.”
“We gotta get outta here,” said Brand. His sensible half was having second thoughts. He grabbed me, but I pulled away.
“C'mon, Brand, what's another couple a minutes gonna hurt? What if we find somethin'? Huh?” No way was I gonna leave now.
The lowest spot beneath the place we were standing was about to make us the richest Goonies on earth.
I opened the basement door. It was as black as a grave down there and three times as deep. I looked back at them—Mouth, Chunk,
Data, Stef, Andy, Brand—seven of us all together. Like
The Magnificent Seven
. Made me feel like Steve McQueen. Invincible. Cool. Certain.
I started descending the stairs, more scared than I'd ever been. In a couple seconds the others followed. I suddenly realized
I wasn't last anymore. I was leading.
I held on to the stone wall again and led us, twisting down. We all stopped halfway, though, in the middle of the same step,
because at the same time we heard the same thing.
A low growling and a rattling of chains.
The Roar of the Thing… An Unusual Fireplace… A Frozen Corpse… The Return of the Fratellis… Chunk Escapes… We Enter the Tunnels…
Chester Copperpot… The Swarming… Pirate Gold.
“Chunk,” said Stef, “I hope that's your stomach.”
“No,” I whispered. “That's the ‘it’.”
The Thing roared louder, like it was bragging or something. Pretty damn scary.
“Sounds sorta like Kong,” said Chunk.
“No, it's partly human, I think,” I said.
We kept on walking until we reached the bottom and kind of collected in a group at the end of the corridor.
“C'mon, wanna see it?” I asked everybody. I felt kind of like it was my Thing now. And as things go, it was pretty cool.
They just shook their heads “No way” though.
“Don't worry, it's chained up.” I led on.
We all stayed pretty close together, pretty quiet. I mean
knew the Thing was chained up safe enough; I just wasn't sure
As we got close to the door I heard Andy whisper, “I don't want to see it, Brand. Stay with me, okay?” So they
stayed behind, in front of a door across the hall. I saw Brand put his arm around her, so I knew what they were up to.
We reached the door—it was closed now. I grabbed the doorknob, twisted it slowly, and suddenly from behind the door came the
loudest, horriblest roar I'd ever heard, like Godzilla dying and the whole hallway was a Dolby speaker or something.
Anyway, we all jumped back and fell every which way into Andy and Brand, who were just getting kissy, and all of us tumbled
through the door across the hall.
The doubloon fell out of my pocket and rolled along the floor, but Chunk caught it just before it fell into a drain and put
I looked around. We were in a big stone room that must've been a kitchen once. There was a giant wallfreezer near the door,
a couple huge sinks, an old rusty stove, a glass water cooler, and a bunch of pots over the stove. It was pretty filthy, too,
but it was obviously being used, because there was still a small fire going in the stone fireplace at the near wall.
But the weird thing was that against the outer wall was a big, black, metal printing press. Above the press was a window to
the outside, and beside the window was a newspaper photo of Mama, Jake, and Francis.
Chunk went straight for the water cooler and started to guzzle. I grabbed a fireplace poker and went to the center of the
floor. “Guess this is as good a place as any to start diggin'.” I lifted the poker as high as I could and jammed it down on
the concrete floor.
All that happened was that it made my teeth chatter.
Brand shook his head. “You sure you're not adopted? I mean, are we from the same family?” He looked over at Andy, who definitely
didn't want to be there. “C'mon,
Mikey,” he said, “you're embarrassin' me. There's nothin' buried under here, damn it. This is the twentieth century, in case
you haven't heard.”
“Hey, I know how to get through the cement,” said Mouth. “Just put Hershey's all over the floor and let Chunk eat through
it—turn stone into sludge, just smear it with fudge, and give Chunk a nudge.”
Chunk still had his head turned up under the Sparkletts' nozzle, but he stood fast when he heard that. “Okay, Mouth,” he said
like Popeye, “‘that's all I can stands, and I can't stands no more… ’”
The thing is, he knocked over the water jug when he stood up, and it crashed to the ground in a million pieces.
The water flowed across the floor to the fireplace and trickled into the open grating under the logs. There was a little hissing,
but what amazed me was that there was at least a couple seconds before I heard the water hit bottom.
Chunk started freakin' out about breakin' something else, but I told him to shut up. “Shhh, listen,” I said.
A slow, echoing trickle.
“Big wow,” said Brand.
“No, it's deep!” I said. Nobody else got it. “There must be some kind of opening or another room or something down there.…”
We ran to the fireplace. Brand reached down to pull a log out of the way and burned his hand and yelped and dropped the log.
“Brand, you sure you're not adopted?” I said. “Are we from the same family? C'mon, you're embarrassin' me.” I noticed that
Andy was smiling.
Brand gave me a look but didn't hit me. He just took off his shirt, partly to wrap his hand with it and partly, I think, to
show off his pecs to Andy. Anyway, he pulled all the hot logs away and pushed all the ashes to the side, so the
blackened grating in the floor was exposed. He pulled it out.
A few feet below we could see a second floor of old crumbling bricks and earth. Brand stuck his foot down there and began
stompin' on it to see how solid it was. Right away it started to give, like it would maybe break through. He kept kickin'.
People react to nervousness in different ways. I just get more nervous, or sometimes I get an asthmatic attack. Mouth mouths
off. Data fixates on his gadgets. And Chunk gets hungry.
So about now is when Chunk noticed the freezer in the wall. “Hey, I wonder if they got Chipwiches,” he said with his special
food-glow smile. He walked over to it and pulled on the handle, but it wouldn't budge.
Brand kept stompin' the false floor under the fireplace. I could see the bricks starting to crumble and give way. All of a
sudden there was a crunch, and his foot broke through, up to his knee. There was an opening beneath the bricks.
We helped Brand up just as a loud whirring noise filled the room. Data, drawn to the biggest gadget around, had turned on
the printing press,
We walked over to him as he was picking up the last page rolling off. It was a freshly printed sheet of perfect counterfeit