The Key Quest Children
Chapter 1: The mouse in the attic
Once upon a time, in a little town, on a small inlet on the coastland of a tiny town in the Vale of Paradise, lived two boys named Anthony and Christian. They lived in a wonderful house in a neighborhood full of friends. They loved to do the usual things that boys enjoy, like riding bikes, skateboarding, swimming and swinging on ropes. They were good brothers, and even when they would fight, they always found ways to reach out to each other and become each others helper and friend.
One day, when they were visiting their grandmother Mo-Mos’ home, she became very tired and laid down to rest. Mo-Mo was always eager for fun and adventure, and encouraged them to laugh and play, and rarely made faces at them to be quiet or still. They tried to play quietly, to help her rest, and Christian said to Anthony, “Let’s look in her closet for a game of checkers.”
“Alright,” Anthony said. Anthony almost always said yes to Christian, because he was a good brother and friend.
Christian quietly opened the door to Mo-Mos’ closet, and turned on the light. When he looked around, there was a jumble of boxes and clothes, and shoes and piles of other things that only Mo-Mo would know what they were used for. When he looked up, he thought he spied a red and black box that held the checkers on the top shelf.
Christian said, “Anthony, help me stack up these boxes so that I can climb up to the top shelf and reach the checkers.”
“O.K. Christian, here put your foot on this and reach up with your other hand. I think you can grab the top of the door now,” said Anthony, balancing Christian’s foot on one of the stacks.
Christian climbed up, placing one foot precariously on top of the first stack, while lifting his hand to the shelf and reaching with his other hand to the door frame. Suddenly, his ankle started wobbling back and forth and his weight changed from one foot to the other. His hand, reaching for the door frame, landed hard on the corner, slid down, then hit something that felt like it broke off and pressed inward.
“Ouch! Oh my gosh, that hurt. I hope I didn’t break something. We’re so in trouble…Watch out, Anthony,” Christian whispered forcefully as he landed in a heap on top of Anthony.
Anthony, in the meantime, landed in a thud on the ground face down as Christian fell on him. All he could utter was, “Ouuuuch!”
They both fell silent for a moment, waiting to hear if they had awakened Mo-Mo. They only heard her soft breathing. They both let out a sigh of relief. Together, they both looked up and saw that a door had opened up in the ceiling of the closet, and a faint light illuminated the gray interior above them.
They both looked at the door, and then they looked at each other. They both said together, “Did you ever see that there before?” Then they laughed and said together, “Jinx you owe me a soda!” Then they looked up again at the mysterious doorway.
Christian said, “Maybe I need to look at the doorframe to see if I broke something. Anthony, boost me up.” So, Anthony knelt down on the floor and Christian stepped on his back and reached up to the doorframe and felt for the latch or button that he had pressed when he fell. His fingers touched the spot, and when he pressed up on it, a rope fell down from the doorway hanging from somewhere up above them almost touching their outstretched arms.
“What do you think we should do?” Christian asked.
Anthony didn’t say a word, he just grabbed the rope. Christian grabbed with his hands interlaced between his brother’s hands. They both pulled down on the rope and the rope pulled them immediately upward through the door and into the attic room. When their feet passed the doorway, it shut by itself and they dropped from the rope onto the attic floor, and let their eyes get used to the faint light of their surroundings.
“Cool,” said Anthony. Anthony never talked as much as Christian.
“Wow,” said Christian. “I wonder if there is a pirate treasure, or a map up here? Do you think we’ll get into trouble?” And then he started naming every object his eyes could make out in the dark room. “Look, a tennis racquet, and a baseball mitt, and stacks of old books and letters and magazines, and look some old toys, and some clothes and a wig…”
Anthony, interrupted, “What was that?”
Christian, stopped for a second, “What was what?”
Just then, they heard a newspaper rattle and saw it move a bit across the room. Anthony was the first to follow it, and as he did, his foot tripped over some magazines and he fell on top of a box of clothes, and tipped over another box of old newspapers, spilling it’s contents along with hundreds of tiny cockroaches, skittering all over the floor and up their pant legs and Christian screamed, “Anthony, what is crawling up my pants?” Then Christian threw himself across the room towards Anthony, and fell in a thud on top of the little newspaper that had mysteriously moved all by itself.
“Squeak!” went the newspaper.
“What was that?” said Christian.
Anthony just held up a piece of old worn newspaper in his hand and said, “I found this.”
Christian stood up and watched the newspaper on the ground carefully. It didn’t move. Anthony said, “Christian, help me read this.” Christian said, “Read what? It’s too dark in here. Did you hear that? Is this place giving you the creeps?”
Anthony just continued looking at the newspaper in his hand, and waited for Christian to look. When he finally came over, he said, “Anthony, it is a newspaper article from 100 years ago. Look there’s a picture of a chest in the article, and a map, like a pirate map.”
Anthony didn’t say anything, he just pointed. Christian looked to where he was pointing and what he saw made him take in his breath suddenly. “Anthony, look, it looks like the chest that is in the picture you are holding. It’s right here in front of us. What does this say?”
The newspaper article said that the chest was found by an old professor who had studied many ancient languages and old manuscripts and had followed a mysterious map that led him to uncover this chest on a mountain in a faraway land. He had brought it home to donate the contents of the chest to a museum or to a school for people to study and share. When the people opened the chest, there was no gold or anything of value that they could sell or use, so they gave it back to the old professor and he died penniless.
Christian said, “Oh Anthony, it doesn’t have pirate gold and no one wanted it, let’s go down, and play checkers and get a snack.” But Anthony didn’t move. “It’s glowing,” he said.
Christian looked, and sure, enough, there was a light coming from the old trunk. “Let’s open it,” he said. They bent over and tried to open it. It was locked. “Shoot,” he said, “we’ll have to find the key.”
“O.K.,” said Anthony. Anthony started looking through the old boxes and underneath the clothes and boxes of toys and letters. He was careful this time not to knock anything over, he hated cockroaches and they both hated snakes.
Christian started looking around too, going to the opposite end of the room and working toward the center. Christian gave up more easily than his brother and started saying, “This is impossible, we’ll never find a key in this mess.” All of a sudden, the newspaper on the floor started moving again, all by itself. This startled Christian. At the same time, Anthony was backing up from a box, and they both tripped over a hockey stick in the middle of the floor. Anthony fell on his back head toward one end of the room, and Christian fell next to him on his back with his head toward the other end of the room. They both said, “Ooof!” at the same time, and then said, “Jinx you owe me a soda!” Then they laughed and Christian said, “Boy, I wish I had a soda right now, a root beer!” Anthony was silent, looking up at the ceiling. Christian fell silent too. Then he said, “Look, the ceiling beams make a big “x” and something is hanging there.”
Anthony didn’t say anything, he just pointed. There it was: the key!
Christian said, “I see it! How can we get up there?” Then he said, “The rope! Who’s going to swing up there?”
Anthony just stood up and went to the rope. He grabbed the rope and started to swing. But it didn’t go high enough. Christian said, “Let me try!” It didn’t swing high enough for him either.
So, they both grabbed the rope and pulled, with their hands intertwined. The rope started swinging, back and forth, closer and closer until they both reached out with one hand each, and grabbed the key. The rope suddenly released them and they landed in a heap on the attic floor again, and the newspaper went “squeak!” again.
They quickly stood up, both still holding the key, and they both looked at the newspaper on the floor as it rustled and moved, and out from underneath the paper came a tail, a furry body, and then a little pink nose.
Before they had a chance to move or say anything, the mouse said, “Well, I’ll be a monkey’s uncle.”
For once, Christian didn’t have anything to say. Anthony said, “You’re a mouse, you’re not supposed to talk.”
The mouse replied, “I have been talking all along, you just haven’t been able to understand me. You seem to have the key in your hand that allows you to understand me. I must say, you two are very heavy, noisy, and very loud. You are not very good at listening either.”
Anthony and Christian sat down with a thump.
“There you go again, loud and noisy,” the mouse said.
“Is this the key to open the chest?” Christian asked.
“I guess you are so big, I couldn’t stop you from trying,” said the mouse.
“Will anything scary pop out at us,” asked Anthony?
“I couldn’t say, after all of these years,” said the mouse.
“I’ll do it,” said Christian. And he moved over to the chest and put the key in the lock. It was old but it fit perfectly. Anthony went over to the chest too and together they opened the lid.
The lid creaked a bit, and the smell from the inside was musty but not moldy. It smelled of cinnamon and nutmeg and some other spices that their noses didn’t recognize, but reminded them of incense that they sometimes smelled at church, and roses that grew in their mothers’ garden.
Inside was a cloth bag with a drawstring at the top. They picked it up and held it in their hands. Anthony let Christian open the bag, and he drew out a book. It was old and in a language they didn’t recognize. When they opened it, the words were unrecognizable, and there was a map, but the legend and the directions were in a language that they didn’t know.
Christian said, “It is just an old book, and there is no pirate treasure, no gold, and no jewels. No wonder it was left in this trunk up here. We can’t even understand it. Here, Anthony, you can have it.”
The mouse just watched the boys and didn’t say anything.
Anthony took it and carefully put it back in the cloth bag. He placed the whole thing in his pants pocket. Maybe Mo-Mo could tell them about the book.
Christian said to the mouse, “You are more interesting than that old book. I would like to keep you as my pet. Anthony, give me the cheese snack you have in your pocket.”
The mouse accepted the cheese, nibbling with great enjoyment, watching the boys, not speaking anymore. Christian said, “What is your name?”
The mouse just squeaked.
“What is your name? We know you can talk. Say something.”
The mouse just squeaked.
Anthony got up and went to the chest and gave Christian the key. When he had the key in his hand, he heard, “Jack. My name’s Jack and I really prefer cheddar.”
“Wow!” Said Christian, “My friends are really going to love you!”
“I’m afraid they’ll just have to wait to meet me,” said Jack. “We have other fish to fry.”
“What, do you mean by that?” said Christian.
Just then, a door in the roof opened up and the rope dropped down. “Our ride is here, said Jack. “We must be off.” With that Jack crawled up Christians’ pants, up to his arm and out to the key, and grabbing it, jumped to the rope.
“Hey!” Said Christian, “That’s not yours.”
Anthony jumped to the rope and grabbed it. Christians’ hands grabbed the rope intertwined with Anthony’s, and the rope pulled them up out of the attic to the top of the roof.
The air was cool and the stars brilliant, like a vast spray of diamonds across the night sky. “Hey,” said Christian, it was daytime when we were at Mo-Mos’. How did it get to be night?”
Anthony was looking up at the stars. “I can hear the stars, Christian. I hear what they are saying.”
Christian looked up and saw in the night sky a star shooting above their heads. Right then, his heart knew, they were going to follow a very different course than they had begun that day. They were going to begin a very great adventure. They all fell silent for a moment and breathed in the night air. Jack held the key with his tail. Anthony held the book in his pocket, and Christian reached down and pulled the rope off of the door and closed it and wrapped the rope around his waist. They were not going backward to go home, They were going forward, until this journey led them to its end.
Chapter 2: The Mysterious Visitor
“The stars are talking to me Christian”, said Anthony in wonder, as he gazed at the night sky.
“What are they saying, Anthopants? Twinkle twinkle little guys, how I wonder who’s gonna fly?” ,said Christian tauntingly.