Haven Shorts – Chapter 1 – Episode 3 – A Stranger Magic
Chapter 1 – Episode 3
He quickly reached for his shirt and shorts that hung on his desk chair and put them on. Moving as fast and as quietly as he could, he scrambled down the stairs. Each step he took on the rickety staircase was like a house alarm going off. It was a good thing his mother was a heavy sleeper. He just hoped Sarah would not wake up again. But knowing Sarah, she was not getting out of bed unless someone was screaming her name. Even if there were a burglar or something she would probably stay in bed. In fact, she probably thought if she was really quiet they would just take Sam, and she could be an only child again.
It seemed like an eternity had passed by the time Sam reached the bottom floor and made his way over to the small living room window.
The room was dark except for the dim light above the stove that shone in from the kitchen. Sam’s mother always left it on at night. It made a great night-light when Sam needed to raid the refrigerator. The living room was small, just like every other room in Sam’s house. The brown worn-out couch sat in the center of the room, and was used as a divider between the living room and the kitchen. Pictures of Sam and Sarah, and a few candle sconces sat neatly arranged on the mantle. Everything was quiet until the grandfather clock to Sam’s right chimed three o’clock. Sam jerked forward, almost falling over.
“Jeeze,” he muttered, disappointed at his spying skills.
He moved back into position and looked between the curtain and wall hoping the stranger was still there.
Sure enough, the stranger was still standing next to the large maple tree in Mrs. Cambridge’s yard, looking up at Sam’s window.
He was a tall man, well over six feet if Sam had to guess, and lean. He wore a long, black coat that hung close to his ankles. Sam could not see his face; it was too dark for that, but he could see the large stick the man gripped in his right hand. It looked like a large root of a tree, naturally twisted and tan in color. There was a stained glass sphere that sat perched on top of it.
The man stood there for some time, periodically moving his hand to his mouth as if to scratch his chin, or maybe to eat something. But it was so dark that Sam wasn’t sure what the man was doing. For all he knew he could he be talking on his cell phone, but why?
Who in their right mind would be out at three o’clock in the morning on their cell phone wearing a coat in ninety-degree weather holding a stick? Circus people maybe, but no one like that lived on Giddyup Lane.
Sam watched closely, trying to make out some of the finer details of the stranger, but it was impossible. It was just too dark. Muscles twitched in the back of Sam’s neck. His eyes were straining so hard to see that his head began to ache. He needed to get closer. He needed to go outside.
With that thought, Sam pressed himself back against the wall and darted across the living room and the kitchen to the back door. Slowly, using his stealthiest moves, he unlocked the deadbolt and turned the door knob.
The door let out a loud prolonged squeak, one that Sam had never noticed in the daytime. It was no wonder his mother never got a house alarm. Who needed one when the house was falling apart?
Sam inched the door back halfway and stepped outside. The moonlight was bright on the back of the house and the night air was humid. He shut the door and gradually inched his way past the flower beds to the side of the house. It was much darker and somewhat cooler there, but that did not stop the small beads of sweat from forming on Sam’s forehead.
Looking down, he noticed the outside faucet was still leaking and the cracks in the foundation were getting worse. The entire house was falling apart all around them. He was probably safer sleeping outside of the house than he was inside.
Cautiously Sam pressed on, hoping all the hours he had logged playing Ninja Warrior 5 would pay off. He was scared, but excited. His blatant curiosity drove his every step toward the front of the house.
The gravel beneath his feet hurt as the jagged rocks dug into his bare skin. Sweat streamed down the sides of his face as he reached the two garbage cans near the front of the house and crouched down behind them.
Finally he could see the outline of the stranger perfectly. Sam was right—he was holding a long staff with a round glass pommel. He wore black pants and tall black boots that came up to his knees. His face was still in shadow but Sam could see the bottom of his rigid jaw line. He leaned forward staring at the stranger, thinking how eerie the night had become. There was no breeze, no chirping crickets; there was nothing but the sound of Sam’s breathing.
Something hairy brushed up against Sam’s leg. He jumped up and staggered forward into the garbage cans, knocking them over. The tin lids slid to the ground with a loud crash. Barron, the neighborhood’s stray cat, hissed and darted across the lawn.
Sam panicked and tried to grab the lids as they banged and clattered around his feet. So much for the ninja moves, he thought. He looked over at the stranger, who was startled as well. The man was crouched down next to Mrs. Cambridge’s maple tree with his staff across his chest in a defensive position. Then in one fluent movement he stood, lifted his staff and tapped it once on the ground. A flash of emerald light burst from the glass ball and engulfed the man, leaving only a green haze in his wake.
Sam stood there, mesmerized as the last of the two lids came to a stop at his feet. He could not believe his eyes. Did that just happen, or was he really going nuts? There was no way anyone with half a brain was going to believe this. He wasn’t even sure he did.
Sam was more than just scared; he was also fascinated, and a little dumb-founded at what had just happened. But who wouldn’t be? he thought. It’s not every day someone is staring up at your window and then disappears into thin air!
While Sam was trying to process all this the toppled trash cans had rolled down his driveway, churning out trash as they went. This forced Sam back to the reality of the situation at hand. With a half-hearted run, he quickly recovered the cans at the end of the driveway.
He looked over to the tree in Mrs. Cambridge’s yard where the stranger had stood just minutes ago. He still could not believe it had happened. How in the world did he do that and where did he go?
Sam noticed several small pieces of white paper scattered near the base of the tree. Quickly he scanned the rest of the yard.
The lady may have been a witch, but she was a witch with a green thumb. She had an extensive collection of shrubs and conifers that bordered the perimeter of the house. Daffodils and apricot tulips lined the curved stone pathway that led from the sidewalk to the front porch. Her grass was so green it looked like a golf course. The white pieces of paper were the only things out of place.
Sam set the cans upright before they rolled into the street, and swiftly crept across the street to Mrs. Cambridge’s yard to take a better look. The street was still warm from the hundred-degree day and the tiny rocks continued to poke away at the bottom of his already tender feet.
He reached the cool, plush grass and made his way to the tree. He scanned the surrounding houses just to make sure no one had come out during the great trash can debacle.
Sam looked down at the small white papers, which were thrown carelessly on the ground. He picked one up and carefully scrutinized it. It was a candy wrapper.
The wrapper itself was made of cloth paper, not regular wax paper like you see today. The name “Becker’s Famous Chocolates” was written in bold red letters across the wrapper. The letter style looked old-fashioned to Sam, like something you see in a black-and-white movie, large and overstated.
Sam thought it odd because the name Becker’s Famous Chocolates did not sound familiar to him, and he was well-versed in the ways of the chocolate. Whatever it was, he was sure it was not as good as the Goldkenn Chocolate Bar his best friend Travis Martin had brought back for him after his family went on vacation in Switzerland. The Black Praline Goldkenn was sweet, but not too sweet, and its creaminess was offset by thin layers of almonds and hazelnuts. It was chocolate perfection. When it came to chocolate no one could out-do the Swiss, as far as Sam was concerned, and Travis was probably the only person on earth who knew chocolate better than Sam.
Sam surveyed the area one last time, then gathered at least five wrappers from the ground and headed back toward the garbage cans.
He grudgingly gathered the trash that had fallen out of the cans earlier and replaced the lids. He placed the garbage cans back where they belonged and headed back into the house and up to his room.
Finally, he reached his bedroom door. There was no sign of his mom, and more importantly there was no sign of Sarah either. Sam quietly opened the door and crawled into bed. The rickety ceiling fan was still turning overhead, sending out a cool, gentle breeze. The crooked street lamp outside had somehow resurrected itself, casting flickering shadows on his bedroom wall, but Sam was too tired to care.
His mind continued to work through every detail of the night, from the monster in his dream to the disappearing stranger.
He was tired. The adrenaline he felt when he first saw the stranger was gone, replaced by exhaustion. His mind was drifting with fading thoughts of the stranger, his disappearance, and Becker’s Famous Chocolates.
**I will post one EPISODE each week, but there are 50 EPISODE, so this may take a while. If you just can’t wait, you can buy (Just .99) the complete book and the rest of the HAVEN series (More Coming Soon) at Amazon.
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