Wednesday, 28 September 2011

THE MIRROR - The Full Moon Rising

     I am in here. I am inside the glass now, inside the mirror, the one above the fireplace. There is nothing that could have prepared me for this. Nothing that anyone could have told me. No warning would have been enough. And no warning was enough. But, the terror that Sophia described is nothing compared to the reality.
     This is the very essence of unsettling. Disembodied, I am in here. I am nothing but myself, just my self, literally, the kernel of what I am. I don't know if I am my soul or I am my mind, all I can say is, that I am. Not that I can actually say anything, for I have no mouth. That was a joke.  I think therefore I am. Period.
     I am not alone. The other creatures are in here also. I think there may be thousands of them. They make quite an uproar in a language and range of sound I can not understand. Yet it is not unpleasant and somehow vaguely familiar. I know! They sound like wind chimes, that's what they remind me of, wind chimes.
     I seem to be the only human in here, could that be possible? I feel terribly alone and helpless. But at least I have sight.  I have no eyes, but somehow I am able to see everything in front of the mirror. Thank goodness I chose the living room and not the bathroom! Another joke.  I watch my family move in and out of the room. They haven't even noticed that I am not among them.  They think that the body the creature inhabits is actually mine. How can that be?
     Sophia was right. They are very clever. It must have been watching me for years, memorising my speech, learning our language and our habits, and biding its time.
     "The spirits in the glass will steal your body from you in the wink of an eye." She had told me, countless times.  "They will use your body as their own and will imprison your soul in the glass in their place. It only takes an instant, and poof! You are lost forever."
     She told me about the full moon, that the full moon releases the creature's powers. How I should never look at my reflection on a full moon night. She had even covered all the mirrors and all our windows on those nights as a precaution. I half believed her, which only made me more curious, too curious, too reckless, and now I am locked in here forever. That is, unless I stoop as low as they, and entice someone else to look at their reflection on a night when the full moon is rising. 

Sunday, 18 September 2011


The next time Max opened his eyes, he was looking straight up into the eyes of a hypno-technician. He recognised it at once, because the eyes locked onto his in an instant, and, never blinking, they began to implore him silently with their gorgeously soothing depths of limitless love.  But he wan't lulled and he wan't fooled. He was prepared for this and almost anything else they wanted to throw at him.

Tom Elliot watched through the one way window and shook his head grimly. A few minutes later, when the technician reported its lack of success, Tom sent it away and made the call to headquarters.

"Jack," he said, connecting at once through his direct line, "I hate to say this, but we blew it. We should have taken the wife, too. It's only been 8 hours, but I can see that there isn't a chance in hell that we can get Max to willingly join the Company. He's going to hold on to his plans and there is no way we are going to get them out of him."

"No, don't you think we tried that already?  We should have known he'd already be vaccinated against our truth drugs. And, no, he's way ahead of us there, too.  He's got some software block installed in him so our hypno-technicians can't get anywhere with him either. You have to believe me. We're lost unless the Director relents and lets us use torture." Tom paced the cubicle.

"That is, unless it's not too late to pick up the wife.  Let's hope it's not too late and she's still at home. Then I can get Dr Lerner to pick her up. I'll have him tell her that Max is staying with him and wants her to join him. I'll think of something - and I'll put together a back up plan, too. We're going to need her for leverage, I realise that now.  Yes. it was a mistake. Right. I'm on it now." And he hung up and stopped pacing to watch Max, who was still lying prone on the bed in the next room. Max was struggling with his straps now and looking pretty pissed off.

Might as well send one of the aides in there to let him loose, Tom thought. Get him to relax a bit. Wait for him to put his guard down. Then he checked the contact list on his cell for Dr Lerner's name. Yes, there it was.  Good. Max trusted him, so there was no reason why his wife should be suspicious. He rang the number. "Lerner? Yes it's me. Look, we have a bit of a problem with Max. No, he's fine. None the worse for wear, believe me.  Just misses his wife. Yes, I'll admit we made a mistake. We should have brought the two of them in together.  No, that's just the problem.  He won't give it up and he is insisting that we bring him his wife. We think we can get him to be more forthcoming if he is certain his wife is all right."

"I need you to drive over to their house and pick her up," he continued. "No, I have no idea if she's still at home or if she's noticed that Max is missing. I'm hoping that she thinks he's with you at the University." Tom watched Max through the glass again. He'd better get an aide in there quickly before he hurt himself. Then he turned away and sat down in the plastic chair near the small table by the door.

"Listen carefully, Lerner.  This is what I need you to do. First, I want you to telephone her. Tell her that Max came to your house early this morning. Tell her that he thought his data was being compromised, so he brought his PC with him and came to your home. Tell her he is with you and that he's safe, but that he is worried about her and wants you to bring her to him."

"No, just make something up if she questions you further, or wavers.  But tell her you are on your way and for god's sake, get over there as fast as you can.  Yes, and bring her here."

He rang off and standing up, pressed the  buzzer by the door to call an aide. A young man, dark skinned and fine boned, neatly dressed in white lab coat and carrying a small chrome tray with various glass tubes in it, answered the bell. "Dil," Tom addressed him, reading the name tag over his pocket, I need you to sedate our guest again.  You better do it while he's still restrained."

"Yes, sir," Dil answered, waiting expectantly for further instructions.

"Then, when he's out, I want you to take off the straps and remove them from the room, so that when our guest wakes up he can move around freely in our guest room and use the facilities. Understood?"

"Perfectly," Dill answered and, turning on his heel, walked back out into the hall.

Tom let the door shut behind the aide before sitting back down in the plastic chair and, with his elbows on the table, cradled his head in his hands and began to work out his backup plan.

Friday, 16 September 2011


Anonymous said...

I could hardly wait for my wife, Kelly, to get home. I tried laying on the sofa for a while, mindlessly flicking through the mindless choices on the TV, but I couldn't sit still for long. I listened for the sound of the bouncing ball in the hall or the whimper from the dog in the kitchen, ready to jump up and investigate at the slightest noise. I was restless, keyed up, and I wanted to tell somebody about what was happening in our flat.

Thankfully, Kelly had also experienced the children playing ball in the hall. She had even seen the little girl playing all by herself. Kelly said she had seen her do a little dance in the hall one afternoon, while I was at the grocery store, and, Kelly said, she was wearing a blue dress this time.

Of course we've told our friends about the sightings and we'd all laughed about it, knowing that no one really believed it or even thought we believed it. But the dog was different, special in its own way, because it could see me - and interact with me and seemed to be with me in my own time and place and I was just going to go mad thinking about it.

Because, no matter how weird all this was, and Kelly and I had discussed it thoroughly when we first noticed the children, we were certain that the flat was not haunted.

We were convinced that these things we saw were not ghosts. We honestly felt that the children and the carriage and horses were really there, just in their own time, and for some reason, we were lookiing though a window into their time and esperiencing what we could only describe as a time hic cup or something.

We knew we needed to speak to some expert - a scientist who actually studied phenomena like this, but in our laymans' opinion, we were somehow crossing over into the time frame of these children. Children who had lived in our flat at the turn of the century - when the house was new. We seemed to be witnessing some sort of time loop that played every now and then like a stuck record.

But the dog. That couldn't explain the dog. But what could explain it?

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


It must have been several months after the day I first saw the children that I began to see the dog.  It was getting towards evening and I was in the dining room at the back of the flat.  I can't really remember what I was doing in there. Putting away the wine glasses? Looking for a platter? All I remember, from that day, was how startled I was when I heard a whimpering sound coming from the kitchen.

These old San Francisco houses have wonderfully spacious kitchens at the back of their homes with views over the gardens and most of them still had a swinging door opening into the dining room. 

We had kept our kitchen in a vaguely period style, spanning several decades and we'd installed our beloved 50's era O'Keeffe & Merritt gas range - a huge white enamelled affair that fit the kitchen perfectly.  But when I opened the kitchen door, just leaning on it slightly to peek my head around, I could see right away that the stove was gone. 

In its place was an elaborate iron contraption, from a much earlier decade, sitting up on ornate metal legs, and under these legs was a dog's basket bed, and inside the basket, was a real dog.

It was one of those absurdly cute, little white dogs, with big black eyes and pointed tufted ears, and it stopped its whimpering as soon as the door creaked open, and, to my astonishment, immediately turned its head to stare at me.

It can see me! I thought with surprise. And then, before I knew what was happening, the  creature jumped out of it's basket and trotted straight up to me, its short white tail wagging furiously. I crouched down and offered it my hand, the way you would to any friendly,  small dog, and I felt the little creature's cold black nose nuzzle against my hand. 
All I could do was hold my breath and marvel that such a thing was really happening, as I ran my hands through the little dog's curly white fur, surprisingly silky, and felt the small muscles and sinews of its neck.  It was a real dog, all right. 

I caught myself talking out loud to it. "Well, hello there. Who are you?" I asked, as it rolled on its back and offered up its little pink and white belly.  Its tongue lolled out of the side of its mouth and it wriggled happily under my hands and I wished I could call my wife over to have a look, but she wouldn't be home from work for another hour. 

I remained crouched there for sometime, uncomfortable, but afraid to get up, lest the little dog disappeared. I ran my fingers through its tangle of white curls around its collar as it sat up.
That's it, I thought, There might be a clue in the dog's collar! 

I twisted the collar around carefully, and found the narrow silver plate, like an ornament on the side of the collar, and sure enough, it was engraved. I leaned my head closer to read it, "Bobby" was all it said. "OK, Bobby, I said, disappointed that the owner's name wasn't on it, but the little dog only cocked his head to one side and looked at me expectantly, as if I was about to feed it.

My knees were beginning to hurt and the door felt tiresome and uncomfortable.  I was still crouched half in and half out of the kitchen, with the dining room door resting against my shoulder.  Before I could stop myself, I stood up, letting go of Bobby's collar just for an instant, pushing the door open fully with my other hand. And that was all it took. 

As soon as I let go of his collar, he was gone.  My own familiar dog-less kitchen slid back into place, like an architects template. The big white O'keeffe & Merritt range stood in its usual spot with no dog basket in sight.  I stood alone in the doorway, feeling suddenly bereft and lonely and at the same time cross with myself for letting go of Bobby's collar.  Above all, I felt terribly exhilarated and filled with astonishment, my hands still warm from the little dog's fur.

Sunday, 11 September 2011


Anonymous said...

Sometimes, in the late evening, usually when twilight was just beginning to cast its eerie veil over the day, I would hear the clatter of hooves outside, a sharp sound like flint against rock, and I would look out the upstairs window, down to the street below.

At first, I was surprised to see the roof of the ornate black carriage, the coachman with his top-hat and the spirited horses straining against the reins, their delicate heads decorated with black plumes.

I added...

The Coachman never looked up, and if the horses sensed my presence, they never showed it, but continued to prance in place, anxious to be off on their errand. These times, I did not need to turn away, for as I gazed down at the carriage and the cobbled street below, with the tall gas-lit street lamps glowing feebly in the twilight, it would be as if someone had suddenly turned a page, or a theatre scrim had been dropped over the scene, for in less than a blink of an eye, the carriage would disappear, and the street would be replaced by the familiar asphalt road with cars parked bumper to bumper along its sides, the electric street lamps just beginning to shine.

Friday, 9 September 2011


I have found some other victims (writers), willing to contribute to a stream of tales that I am beginning tonight.

Please do not be shy - anyone can contribute,  just add your tale or paragraph or mere sentence to the comment box and I will add it as the lead to the next day's blog (unless you do not want that).

The children are playing in the hallway again. I can hear the gentle thump, thump, thump of the ball (red) bouncing down the hall between them. The hall is glorious and long, as halls  always are in these stately old houses, with embossed wainscoting covering the bottom third of the walls, and ancient delicately decorated wallpaper running up to the picture rail, with the ceiling a full two feet above that. 

If I step out into the hallway now, I will see the children, a boy dressed in short pants of the turn of the last century, the girl in a fluffy white dress and apron.  A large bow ties her apron at the back. They will not notice me and will be laughing gaily at each other.

When I turn to look at the little girl, the little boy will disappear, and when I try to see where he has gone, the little girl will disappear also.  It might be months before I see them there again. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

POWER SOURCE - Chapter 4 - Wake Up!

Max was gently awakened by vague muffled sounds, almost like seagulls calling from faraway over the ocean. He hadn't opened his eyes yet and he just lay where he was in a dreamy state. He felt sleepy still and thought perhaps he should allow himself to fall back to sleep. He decided to turn over and that was when he realised that something wasn't quite right. The sheets must be twisted around him, he thought, because he seemed to be caught in them and actually, he could not move at all. "Roxie!" he called out, and his voice echoed back to him, all muffled and weird, and he opened his eyes for the first time.

He was laying flat on his back in a bedroom, but not his bedroom. The light was dim, but he could see the low ceiling and inset LED lights and recognised the design of one of those new Plastiment Homes. The rounded corners of the room gave it away. And it wasn't a sheet that was wrapped tightly around him, although he was covered by a sheet and quilt, he was strapped with his arms at his side to an otherwise relatively comfortable bed.

He still felt groggy and his eyes were crusty and he wanted to reach up and rub them, but he couldn't and that was when he started yelling. "Hey! Is anybody there? Hey!" he yelled louder, with his voice reverberating in his head, causing an uncomfortable pain to begin to throb in his forehead. "Hey, what's going on? Will somebody come in here please?"

He wasn't so groggy that he hadn't already conjectured what was happening to him. He had always known, ever since his father had revealed what he knew just before he died, that he would also be watched and if he wasn't careful, he would be in danger of being too useful an asset to be allowed to live his own life and make his own choices.  There were lots of  greedy servants of unscrupulous and obscenely wealthy organisations who would not hesitate to take what they wanted if they couldn't buy it - and he had made it clear that he wasn't selling.

No one came into the room when he called and he wondered if anyone was in the house at all. But he had heard voices, he was almost certain he had heard voices. He could turn his head and he did so, surveying the room, looking for a window or one of those one way glass things that looked like a mirror.

It was a nicely decorated room, if you liked the modern minimalist style.  It looked like it could be someone's real bedroom, but somehow he doubted it. It was just a clever duplicate, made to resemble a comfortable home and to put who ever they usually kept in here at ease. They were probably watching him through one of their one way mirrors right now.  He suddenly remembered Roxie, and felt a pang of fear. He wondered if she had been taken, too. He wondered if she was safe. And he began to fret and worry and he had to bite his lip to keep himself from crying.

Monday, 5 September 2011

THE ANGEL AND THE HOURGLASS - Chapter 3 - What We Found

The Angel and The Hourglass
What We Found

Dan was on his knees admiring the now obvious disparity between the inside and the outside of the trunk.  He took out his knife, ready to attack the chest wherever the opportunity presented itself, but Sam was bent over the inside, running his hands systematically along the inside edges of the trunk and I knew he was looking for a catch. Secret compartments like this one always had some kind of mechanism to open them, even I knew that. Well, I especially knew that, from reading so many mystery books...

"I can't feel anything in here." Sam said after a while, "Missy, you've got little fingers, see if you can feel anything."


"Anything sticking out anywhere it doesn't belong, anything that might open this thing." Missy practically fell headfirst into the trunk, trying to reach the opposite side. It was a big old thing and her little arms barely reached to the false bottom. I slid my hands in too and pretty soon there were 3 sets of arms wiggling about in there, but no sign of how the thing opened.

"Let me just pry it up!" Dan pleaded, standing back and watching us impatiently.

"Wait!", I said, bringing my amazing powers of deduction into play, the ones I had gleaned from my extensive library of mystery and fantasy books. "I bet we're looking in the wrong place. I bet the catch is in the lid!" and we all reached out to examine the lid, which none of us had noticed before, because the lid had fallen behind the chest when Sam had opened it. Sam lifted it now and held it up for us. The lid was arched on the outside, and had several cloth covered compartments in it that looked promising.  Dan and I searched the compartments,which had sweet little cloth doors that snapped open when we pulled their little cloth flaps.

Sadly, they were all empty and there was nothing in any of them that could be considered a lock or catch, until of course, the very last compartment, down at the bottom of the lid, adjoining one of the back hinges. When this one snapped open, we were surprised by a little cloth doll that fell right out and dropped with a soft plop onto the false bottom.  I immediately scooped it up to examine it, while Dan examined the compartment.

"I've got it!" he shouted and with a soft click the false bottom lifted up as if it were attached to a spring. When Sam pulled this all the way open, it revealed something large wrapped in a white cloth cover.  "It's heavy," Sam said, lifting it out. "Bring me that table over there."

And Dan darted over to a small round table abandoned alongside a pile of "National Geographic" magazines. It was light and he carried it over and plunked it down next to the trunk. As Sam laid the thing gently on top, I could see that the white cloth covering was actually some kind of shawl. It was satiny looking and it had a fringe.

I held onto the doll, waiting to examine it more closely later, and we all bent over to watch as Sam gently unwrapped the shawl. "Look at that!" exclaimed Dan, and we all sucked in our breath, for it truly looked like a small treasure chest. It was a wooden box, and I could not tell what it was made from, but it was gorgeously decorated with colourful symbols and what looked like lettering on it.

"Look, there's writing on it!" exclaimed Missy, but Sam and I already recognised the lettering.

"It's Hebrew!" Sam announced.

"Wow, this thing must be really old. Let's open it!" cried Dan.

"Not so fast," Cautioned Sam. "I think I can read this inscription."

My brother Sam is not only brilliant, but he had been Bar Mitzvohed last year - and he had actually bothered to learn Hebrew, instead of just memorising the text he had to read in the ceremony. "What does it say?" I asked, staring down at the lovely gold lettering.

"I think it says "Do Not Open This Under Pain of Bringing Eternal Misery upon Yourself", either that or "Open this and Eternal Beings will Destroy you"! Either way, I don't think we should open it just yet."

Sam was often very wise and we all stood back a little and stared down at the box with a new respect.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

THE HOURGLASS - Chapter 2 - The Attic

The Angel and The Hourglass
Chapter 2.
The Old Attic

Dan was the first one up the tree.  He was usually the first one anywhere we went. He walked faster, for one thing, and he ran faster, swam faster, and thought faster than everyone else, too. He was also better prepared.  He never went anywhere without his trusty Swiss Army Knife, and not one of those massive clunky bits of kit, either, but a streamlined pocket-knife, with only the most useful parts: a flat headed screwdriver, a bottle opener, a sturdy metal pick, and a good sharp knife.

None of us imagined that we would need anything more than Dan and his trusty pocket knife to deal with whatever we were about to uncover in the attic.

Everything was going well, it was still early afternoon and there was plenty of sunshine left and climbing the tree turned out to be as easy as it looked, even for me.  That little attic window proved to be no match for Dan, either. So, while we all clung to the branch behind him, he worked the screwdriver under the edge of the window, just where the two sides met at the latch, and soon, with a resounding crack, it split open.  A second later, Dan launched himself off from the branch and somehow managed to squeeze through the opening, and jump down to the attic floor.

Before any of us could even gasp appreciatively, he turned around and reached out his hand for Missy, who was right behind him. Missy, short for Melissa, is just that, short.  She's Dan's little sister and my best friend, but she's also extremely nimble and a fast climber.  But now, faced with the empty space between the end of the limb we were on and the attic window, even she hesitated to lose her hold on the branch.

"It's all right. Don't be afraid, I've got you." Dan assured her, and before she could protest, he had grabbed her hand and pulled her right in beside him.  Crap, now it was my turn.  I was holding onto that branch for dear life, inching my way slowly toward the attic window. I'd felt safe enough with Missy just ahead of me and my brother, Sam right behind, but now, with no one in front, the branch suddenly seemed awfully spindly, and the ground... Oh no, don't look at the ground, I warned myself. I suddenly began to feel dizzy and I'd wished I'd never climbed up the stupid tree in the first place.

But there was Dan, leaning his head out the window, smiling his toothy smile, and reaching out to me until his hand was almost close enough for me to grab onto it. In fact, I did just that, thinking to steady myself for a moment.  And before I realised what was happening, Dan was pulling me right through the attic window, too.

"Ouch!" I complained, standing up too soon and bumping my head on the window frame. No one paid any attention to me, though, for both Missy and Dan were watching Sam now, who was bringing up the rear, as usual.

My older brother Sam was as slow and methodical as Dan was quick and reckless. He was the same age as Dan, 14, but nearly twice his size in height and girth, but he wasn't stupid. He was merely extraordinarily cautious as well as exceedingly gifted, but he had a mind that needed to be allowed to follow its own logical pathways.  This meant that sometimes it took him a few seconds longer then people were used to before he would speak. A lot of kids thought he was slow, but that was because they couldn't wait long enough to hear what he had to say.

He had stayed on the ground and waited for me to start the climb, because he knew I would be too scared to climb up that high without knowing he was there to catch me if I lost my grip. He was that kind of brother.  But now, there he was, he had reached the end of the branch and he looked up at the window doubtfully, "Do you really think I can fit through?"

"You're gonna have to," answered Dan optimistically.

"Well, here goes then." and Sam reached up and grabbed the inside of the window frame with both hands and began force himself through, wriggling in kind of a hilarious way, so that I had to keep myself from giggling.  But then, just when it looked like he had made it, he got stuck!  His belt buckle was caught on the ledge.

"Whoops", he groaned, but Dan had already grabbed him by the back of his belt and somehow, with his wiry strength, managed to heave Sam right through the window, kind of like a big fish, so that Sam dropped with a thud, both hands on the attic floor to cushion his landing. One second later he was up and laughing and there we all were, finally inside the old house.

We turned around and began to examine our surroundings.  The sun's afternoon rays shone weakly through the swirling dust motes from two tiny windows. The light they cast was much too dim for us to see very far into the depths of the attic.  Gradually, however, our eyes grew accustomed to the dim light and we began to make out the eerie shapes around us.

"Golly," cried Missy, "It's just like a movie. Look!" she added excitedly, "There's the rocking horse!"

It was true, as the objects began to take shape around us, we could see the old rocking horse, motionless and spooky, just like in a film trailer. Missy ran over to it, jumping over stacks of old magazines, and began to pet it.

"I think its mane and tail are real hair!" She exclaimed, running her hand down its wooden spine and picking up the long tail. "Wow! it's beautiful!" But the boys weren't interested and were already examining a pile of old sleds on the other side of the attic.

"Just like "Rosebud" in that Orsen Wells movie, said Sam, knowingly. "I didn't know that summer crowd ever stayed here in the winter..."

But I had already begun opening a cardboard box nearby.  It was filled to the top with lovely Christmas Ornaments. "Well, I guess they must have spent a few Christmases here, look at this!" and I lifted out a delicate glass angel, that sparkled in the dustmotes dancing in the last rays of light still shining from the small windows.

Missy picked her way towards me across some broken lamps and once useful objects strewn about the floor, and then, I don't know why, we all turned around, almost as one, and began to scan the attic space again.  And again, almost as one, our gaze landed on the most attractive object anyone could imagine - a big old steamer trunk, sitting by itself underneath the window on the opposite side of the attic.

We all had the same thought. A trunk could be filled with all sorts of treasure. In fact, it could be a treasure chest!  Dan reached it first, naturally, and tried the latch. "It's locked!" he called gleefully over his shoulder, but Sam was right behind him, and gripping the lid from both sides, tried to force it open.

No joy there. "Oh, we've got to get it open!" cried Missy, as Sam and Dan doubled their efforts.

"Wait! Don't break it!" I cautioned. "Can't you pick the lock, Dan? With that thingy in your knife? You could use it like a lock pick."

"Oh, yeah" agreed Dan, and he took the knife out of his pocket and opened the pick part of it and inserted into the old lock. "I don't exactly know what I'm doing, though."

He knelt down in front of the lock and I knelt down beside him, "Just kind of dig around with it," I instructed, "go slowly, try to feel for something.  See if you can connect with a gear or another hole or whatever." I'd seen enough detective shows on TV to think that picking a lock was easy.  It always looked easy, anyway.

"I've got something, Aimee!" Dan whispered,  "I think I've got it!" and with a grumble and a creak, the catch gave way and as Dan and I stood up, Sam lifted the heavy lid.

"Oh", was all Missy could say. And 4 disappointed kids gazed down at the contents of the trunk.  It seemed to be filled entirely with neatly folded fabric, just old linen table clothes, embroidered aprons and monogramed napkins.  Dan shook his head and turned away impatiently and started rummaging through some boxes nearby, but Sam and I began to search through the trunk, feeling our way carefully and lifting bits out to show them to Missy, who laid them neatly on a hatbox beside it.

We tried to admire the embroidery and the lace we found inside, but, as beautiful as they were, they were'nt much of a treasure.

"Why would they lock this crap away?" wondered Sam aloud, methodically sorting through the trunk.  It was only when he had finally lifted out the last of the lace doilies and handed them to Missy and me, and we had folded them neatly on top of the other linens, that he realised something wasn't quite right. "Wait a minute! Look at this!" He called out to Dan, who came back to take a look and we all grouped around Sam and stared down into the now empty trunk.

"What are we looking at?" asked Missy, finally.

"The bottom of the trunk! Look, the inside of the trunk is at least 8 inches above the bottom of the trunk on the outside!  It has to have a false bottom!" He was right, we realised, excitedly.  But, oh, why did he have to be so darn clever! If only he hadn't noticed, and we had just piled all the linens back in the trunk!

But then, we wouldn't have much of a story, would we?