Special Agents: The Mysterious Case of the Monsters under the Bed (Part 9)

SpecialAgentsPart 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Rachel stirred the maple syrup on her plate with her fork. Lauren shoveled a second helping of pancakes in her mouth, one-handed. Debriefing with Casey was hungry work and they hadn’t eaten since dinner last night. Each time Lauren opened her mouth for another bit the strange siren started up. A soft white latticework covered the outside corners of her eyes and her hair had a definite white tinge to it like someone had dusted it with snow. They were mostly alone in the cafeteria. Normally the big space sitting empty would bother Rachel, but this morning she was glad no one was around. She could just see all the other Agents and Support Crews staring at Lauren out of the corner of their eyes and whispering about her. Better to be alone.

“Any super powers yet?”

Lauren shook her head and shrugged.

Rachel sighed. “I want to do something. I’m sick of sitting around waiting to find out what’s going on.”

Lauren nodded in agreement. She took a last bite, filled the room with a siren, shut her mouth, and pulled out her tablet. Rachel watched over her shoulder shivering in the cold room. It would be only a few more minutes before it filled with the daytime crews coming in and the nighttime crews leaving. Lauren tugged her sleeve and pointed at her tablet.

“Good idea, Lauren. Let’s do our own investigation. Where is Peter?”

Lauren typed and Rachel shook her head. “We’re not asking Janice. She’ll never help us.”

Lauren bit her lower lip then smiled. She pulled up a schismatic of the Agency and pointed to the block of rooms where they debriefed the agents after missions.

“You think he’s still in one of them? No, you’re right, it’s a good place to start,” Rachel said before Lauren could shrug. “Let’s go.”

They found Peter behind door number 5 doodling on a napkin. A plate of donuts and an empty mug that looked like its contents had once been hot chocolate sat beside him.

“Hey!” he jumped up as they came in. “I asked to see you hours ago and they said I could—”

He stopped when he got a clear view of Lauren.

“Wow.”

“She doesn’t have any super powers yet,” Rachel said. “And she can’t talk.”

“Why can’t she talk?” Peter asked.

Lauren opened her mouth and filled the small room with the haunting siren sound.

“Oh. I see.”

“Look,” Rachel said. “We know you already talked with Casey, but can we ask you some questions?”

“Sure,” Peter said. He climbed back in his chair. Lauren picked up one of the donuts and shoved it in her mouth muffling the siren. “I told Casey—”

Lauren stopped him with a donut-squelched blast from her mouth.

“Don’t tell us,” Rachel said. “We want to ask our own questions.”

Peter nodded.

Lauren grabbed her tablet and opened a note taking app. She pointed to the first question.

“You know the tree house in your back yard?” Rachel said after reading from the tablet.

“Obviously.”

“Tell us about it. Any special qualities? How much time do you spend there?”

Peter furrowed his brows. “Agent Casey didn’t ask me any questions like that.”

“Of course not,” Rachel said. “He’s a grown-up. Sometimes they get busy and forget to look up.”

“I play in the House, that’s what we call it, every day, pretty much.”

“Do you play in it when you get home from school?”

“When I get done with school. I’m home-schooled.”

Lauren beamed.

“Us too,” Rachel said. “Why do you play up there?”

“Well,” Peter said guardedly. “It’s not like I’m playing house with my baby sister even though we call it the House.”

Lauren shook her head.

“We have a fort,” Rachel said. “We use it as base when we play capture the flag. Sometimes we spend the night in it. It’s also where we keep some of our Agency stuff cause our Mom doesn’t come up there very often.”

“Right!” Peter said. “The House has a mail box, or well, it’s a mail tube. My Dad built it. It connects to Roger’s tree house. We can send messages back and forth. I keep a lot of paper in the tree house. His house connects to Susie’s and hers connects to Ben. The lines go through the whole neighborhood until they get back to mine.”

“All the kids are connected?” Rachel asked after a nudge from Lauren.

“All but one.”

“Who?” Rachel said.

“Rick Bunker. He’s in house 1307.”

Lauren pulled up an aerial view of the neighborhood. She held it up to Peter and handed him her stylus.

“Can you draw the connections?” Rachel asked. “And show us Rick’s house.”

“Sure.” Peter picked his house out and drew a thick yellow line between the different homes of the kids. Last, he circled one house left outside the network before handing it back to Lauren. “We had to string a line over to Beth’s house and then to Nan’s before going back to Jake’s to bypass Rick’s house. His parents threw a fit when Ben’s Dad explained what the line was for. They made him cut it down and re-wire it. My Dad helped him.”

“Why were they so upset?” Rachel said.

“Something about an invasion of privacy.”

Lauren typed on her tablet and held it up to Peter. He read it and smiled. “Thanks, I think the Network’s pretty cool too.”

“What else do you do in the House?” Rachel said.

“Well, it’s cool cause it’s up so high. I can see a long ways off, if I look out the side. There aren’t any trees blocking the way.”

“Can you see into Rick’s yard?” Rachel asked just as Lauren started typing. Lauren gave her a high-five of agreement.

Peter shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “Look, I try not to see into his yard, but it’s right there. Dad said not to pry. He said respect their wishes. But it was right there.”

“What was?”

“The Strangers.”

…To Be Continued…

Tree house with a view.

Tree house with a view.

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A Texas Cousins Adventure: Obey

Texas Cousins (Picture stolen from Liz)

Texas Cousins
(Picture stolen from Liz)

“Once upon a time,” Aunt Abby started.

“Is this a fairy tale, or a western,” Jules asked. She squealed as a giant, Texas sized, grasshopper landed on the quilt.

“It’s a western,” Aunt Abby said watching Bruce and Joshua stalk the grasshopper. “Chase that away from the quilt, please.”

“Are there fairy tale westerns?” Constance asked chewing on the end of her braid while she looked up at the wide-open sky filled with puffy white clouds.

“Of course there are,” Aunt Abby said. “But their stories are darker and you’ll have to wait until you’re older to hear those.”

“Darker?” Ellie said. “Is it night there?”

“Well, sometimes,” Aunt Abby said. “But there’s also lots of bad men, war, suffering, and death.”

“Is there blood?” Joshua asked with a gasp.

Imogene wrinkled her nose.

“Yes, sometimes. That’s why we have to wait till you’re older.

“I’m old,” said Bruce.

“Me too,” said Jules.

“Not old enough, and don’t rush growing up. Now, everyone settle in for a story.”

The seven cousins splayed this way and that on the quilt, closed their eyes, and listened.


Once upon a time, seven cousins, three cowboys and four cowgirls, spent several happy days at Grammie and Grandpa’s little ranch with Clyde the Donkey and Hobbes the golden Labrador. They arrived every October from all over the country just as the pumpkins started turning orange and Texas cooled down. Grammie sent them to play outside and rid themselves of excess energy with the instruction to stay in the field or yard and not leave the property.

Bruce, Joshua, and Jude set about exploring the wide-open field for bugs and the old racecar track they built last fall. Julie searched for wild flowers to give to Grammie. Ellie took Imogene’s hand and ran with her through the tall, dry grass. They giggled as they chased an early autumn monarch. Constance followed the little path down to the pond searching under the willow for signs of fairies and little folk.

“I thought this was a western,” Constance hissed.

“Maybe it’s a fairy tale western,” Ellie said.

“Ohhh,” Bruce said. “It might get scary.”

“It’s not scary, is it Aunt Abby?” Jules said.

“No it’s not,” Aunt Abby said.

“I’m scared,” Joshua said with a grin.

“Me too, ” chimed in Jude.

“I’m not,” said Imogene.

Aunt Abby hushed everyone and continued the story.

Hobbes watched the children from the wide back porch with his ears perked for trouble. Clyde moseyed further out with a swish of his tail. He cocked his ears back to listen to the gales of screaming laughter coming from the happy cousins.

Suddenly out of the grass popped a boy with dark eyes, dark hair, and a dark smile.

“Is he bad?” Jules whispered.

“Wait and see,” Aunt Abby said.

“I bet he’s bad,” Constance said.

Ellie held Imogene’s hand harder. The red-headed child crowded in close to her. Constance looked up from the willow. She hadn’t found any fairies but she had found a perfect rock. Jude growled making Bruce and Joshua look up from the horned lizard they hunted in the tall grass. Hobbes trotted off the porch. He didn’t recognize the boy and decided he better check him out. Clyde tossed his head and decided the same thing. They were on the case.

“Who are you?” Jules asked.

“I’m Jethro Cagen,” the boy said with a small bow.

Jules giggled. “I’m Jules,” she said with a bow back.

The others gathered in around her.

“Are all y’all brothers and sisters?” Jethro said mocking them.

“No,” Bruce said. “We’re cousins.”

“But some of us are brothers and sisters,” Constance said fingering the perfect rock in her pocket.

Hobbes arrived and gave the boy a good sniff.

“Get your dog away from me,” Jethro said. “I don’t like dogs.”

“You don’t like dogs?” Joshua could believe his ears. Who didn’t like dogs?

“That’s rude,” Ellie said. “Hobbes is a good dog.”

Hobbes wagged his tail and licked Ellie and Joshua right across the cheek. Imogene laughed at them and Hobbes licked her too until she squealed.

“That’s gross,” the boy said.

The seven cousins looked at him unsure of why he was so mean.

“Well,” Jules said. “We’re going to go see our Grammie and Grandpa.”

The cousins and Hobbes turned away from the rude little boy.

“Hey, do you want to come play in my yard?” he said.

“Which is your yard?” Jules asked

“We can’t,” whispered Imogene.

“Grammie said stay on her property,” Bruce said.

“That’s my yard,” the boy said.

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Across the street, a green yard perfect for picnics rolled up to a two-story house. No itchy grass grew up taller than Jude. No giant bugs jumped on little girls’ shoulders. A bright yellow slide rose up into a pecan where a tree house waited for adventure. Blue swings rocked gently in the cool Texas breeze.

“I have every Hot Wheel ever made up in my tree house and cap guns,” he said. “Are you sure you don’t want to come play?”

Bruce, Joshua, and Jude started forward.

“Grammie said to stay here,” Jules said.

“Yeah,” Ellie said.

“I also have a box of dress up clothes. You can play pirates.”

The girls hurried after the boys.

Hobbes barked. All seven cousins stopped. Hobbes barked again.

“Cars and pirates,” the boy said with a smile.

The cousins looked back at the golden dog sitting beside the gray donkey in the itchy field filled with bugs. They looked at the pretty green lawn, bright slide, and tree house. Field or tree house? Field or tree house?

“We have to go home,” Constance said.

“He has cars,” Bruce said.

“Grammie said to stay on her property,” Ellie said moving up beside Constance.

“Yep,” Jude said. He took Imogene’s hand and they moved closer to Ellie and Constance.

Bruce, Jules and Joshua stood between the boy with the tree house filled with cars and their cousins. They gazed at the house, longing to feel the soft green grass, to slide down the slide, and play pirates in the tree house.

Clyde hee-hawed. Hobbes barked.

Bruce glanced at Jules. She sighed.

“We can’t, can we?” Joshua said.

“No, we need to obey Grammie,” Bruce said.

“Yep,” Joshua said.

“Come on, Jules,” Bruce said.

Jules nodded. “We need to obey.”

The cousins linked hands.

“Thanks for inviting us. Maybe we can play later,” Jules said.

Ellie dropped Constance and Imogene’s hands, rushed to the boy, and gave him a big hug.

“Thank you,” she said.

“Thank you,” all the cousins yelled. They tramped through the tall grass back to Hobbes and Clyde leaving Jethro behind.

The dog danced around them barking, licking, and wagging his tail. Clyde followed them back to the house nudging the slower ones in the shoulder with his nose to hurry them along.

“Kids,” Grammie called from the front porch. “Cookies!”

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She held out a plate piled high with cookies. The seven cousins shared a glance and then raced to the front porch. Grammie made sure that the cousins with shorter legs still had cookies to eat when they reached her.

“Boy am I glad we didn’t disobey,” Bruce said.

“Yeah, we wouldn’t have gotten cookies,” Ellie said.

Hobbes barked in agreement.


 

“The end,” Aunt Abby said.

“Aunt Abby was he rude?” Bruce asked sitting up.

“Yes. He wasn’t very nice. You should never encourage someone to disobey what Grammie says.”

“Do we always have to obey Grammie?” Jules asked.

“Yes. Even if there’s a tree house, you should obey Grammie. And you should obey her even if they’re aren’t cookies when you do.”

“What about Grandpa?” Joshua said.

Aunt Abby laughed. “Grandpa even more.”

“Why?” said Imogene.

“Cause he’s scary!” Aunt Abby said making her voice quiver.

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All the cousins giggled.

“Scary Grandpa,” they yelled.

“BOO!”

Everyone screamed!

Grandpa laughed and laughed as he came out from behind the house.

“Grandpa’s scary!” Imogene said with a grin.

The End

 

This is Jules and her Jaguar. Behind her is the picture of a dragon that I drew for her sparking this story.

This is Jules and her Jaguar. Behind her is the picture of a dragon that I drew for her sparking this story.

Constance and Joshua!

Constance and Joshua!

One of my favorite faces!

One of my favorite faces!

Jude, our littlest man!

Jude, our littlest man!

Bruce showing off some muscles!

Bruce showing off some muscles!

Imogene testing out her first lemon.

Imogene testing out her first lemon.