The Unexpected Life of Jake Crow

Jake Crow's life used to lonely but things had changed in the last 2 weeks.

Emile Wolfe was Jake's new friend. He was also Jake's new next-doorneighbour. Emile was sleeping over tonight and since it was hailing outside, they had decided to explore Jake's attic.

The two boys had met quite by accident about two weeks ago when Emile had first moved into town. Before Emile had moved next door, Jake had felt so alone. You see, Emile could levitate and Jake had the dubious power of being able to hear people thoughts when looking at their photographs.

It was really great fun having someone to talk to that was also supernaturally talented. Jake was the only one of the Crow family to have been born with any sort of supernatural power and it had made his life very lonely. He was different to other children at school and had almost nothing in common with them. Emile, on the other hand understood him far better than anyone else, including his own mother. The two boys had been virtually inseparable since the day, they had first met.

Today, they had been out at the park up the road, when a terrible storm had broken out. As soon as they got home, they had changed into dry clothes and gone exploring inside the house. Jake's mother was still out doing their monthly shopping and the boys were all alone in the house with no-one to tell them what not to do. The attic was very dusty and Billy had found a box of old cobwebby photos.

Jake picked up the top one and found himself unexpectedly staring at his dad. Maxen Crow, was standing together with another man, who looked surprisingly familiar, although Jake could not place him immediately. Suddenly Jake trembled and found himself being drawn right into the photo, against his will.

"Stop it!" shouted his father.

"Never!" hissed the familiar man in the photo. "Where have you hidden it, Maxen?" he demanded.

"Who was he?" wondered Jake to himself. Not a member of the Crow family, that was for sure.

The man had a flat nose and big rubbery lips. He had no hair to speak of and the colour could only be guessed at. His eyes were sunken into his face and Jake could not even make out their colour either.

Eye colour was very important to the Crow's. You could tell a lot about a person by the colour of their eyes. If you could not see someone's eyes, it meant they were a devious sort, best avoided.

Jake shuddered. He felt his skin crawl as he heard his father's thoughts as loudly as his own. They echoed inside his head.

"I will never tell him that it is hidden in the wall behind Jake's bed," he heard his father think.

Jake felt very worried. This could be the reason his father had disappeared but who had taken the dusty old photo and why was it up here in the attic.

He knew who he had to speak to but he wanted to hear more. Crouching behind the desk to avoid being seen, Jake tried to figure out who the other man was. He was obviously not a friend of his father. He looked around the room, wondering where the photo had been taken. It was rather bare and did not seem to be in their house at all.

He thought back in time. His father had disappeared when he was only nine and now he was 11 years old. That was a long time for a boy but they still lived in the same house and he knew it very well. Not the attic of course, as that had been out of bounds for as long as he could remember. It had taken the mischievous mind of Emile Wolfe to persuade him to explore the attic and now he wondered why he had not done it before. His mother was often out of the house for one or another reason and he had a lot of time on his hands.

Just then Jake heard his friend, Emile callout to him.

As soon as Jake managed to pull himself out of the photo he told Emile that they needed to go somewhere, right away.

They hurriedly climbed down the wobbly ladder from the attic careful not to fall. Then Jake pushed the ladder up into place with the metal pole before putting the pole back in the corner. The ladder was spring loaded and once up, it automatically closed the attic cover.

As Emile stared at the cobwebs on their clothes, Jake hastily scribbled a note to his mother:

Co-Pt.b To- ~ par/v ag~ STort1N over

No- ncare- r~

And he quickly drew his trademark crow. Jake always rhymed his notes and added his crow so his mother would know it was really from him. He tended to get into situations. Say no more.

"Where are we going?" asked Emile. "I am supposed to tell my mother is I go anywhere.

"Bring your mobile," suggested Jake. "That way, you can phone if you need to but hurry, we are running out of time!"

Patting his pocket to make sure that he still had the photo, Jake grabbed two oranges out of the fruit bowl and dumped them into his daypack. Inside was a headlamp, a packet of choc-chip biscuits and 2 waterproof jackets. That would have to do. Oh, and a bottle of Sprite in case they go thirsty.

The boys were off. Emile was the last to leave and he checked the door before trying to catch up to his friend.

Life was certainly exciting now that he had met Jake.

It felt like they had been running for more than 2 miles when Jake slowed down. He was hard to catch and Emile was not sure where they were.

Jake had already knocked on the door and it was opening by the time Emile got there. Jake caught his eye before stepping through the doorway and signalled to him to be quiet. It was going to be difficult because Emile had hundreds of questions running through his head. He was just in time to slip in through the door before it closed.

"and I think that is what those intruders were looking for, Uncle Raven," finished Jake. "Here's the photograph, do you know who the other man is?".

"Well no time to waste," said the man who was obviously Jake's Uncle Raven. "that man is up to no good and for now its better that you don't know who/what he is," he added in a mysterious undertone.

Emile was a bit confused and still trying to get his breath back. On top of that, they both seemed to be ignoring him. Well not entirely ignoring him but he felt a bit invisible.

Jake's Uncle Raven had rushed out of the hallway and down the passage. Here was Emile's chance to find out what was going on but before he could say anything;

"Sorry for the rush, Emile" said Jake. "I will fill you in as soon as I get a chance."

"it's ok" gasped Emile. "I'm still trying to get my breath but I do really want to know what you are thinking of. Besides you don't even seem to be tired from the run up here?"

"This is my uncle's house and I think he might be able to help," said Jake. "You see, my dad disappeared a couple of years ago. I know I did not tell you about him but I try not to think about it as it makes me sad. One of those photos you found in the attic was of my dad and I was pulled into the photo. am hoping that what I heard will help my family find my dad."

"Wow!" said Emile. "Just, where are we, in case I can't keep up on the way back to your house? I don't want to get lost and I'm still new here".

Just then Uncle Raven appeared back in the hallway.

"Hello there, who's your friend Jake?"

"Sorry, Uncle Raven, this is my friend Emile. He lives next door to me and we are having a sleep over tonight. He's the one who found the photo's in the attic.

"I see," said Uncle Raven ominously. "Well then, lets be off. We'll travel with my bike - let me just hitch up the sidecar. Lock up the front door will you Jake, and then you and your friend can meet me round the back, at my garage."

Sooner than Emile could blink they had arrived back at Jake's house. Emile still had no idea of where they had been and the ride back had been so fast he had closed his eyes as tight as he could, the whole way. He was terrified and had never been in a side car before. Besides Uncle Raven literally flew down the roads. His mother would have had a heart attack and he hoped she was not looking out of the window, as his house was just next door. Personally he preferred levitating, it was slower!

Jake's mother was still out and Jake crumpled up the unread message and popped it in the bin.

"Damn, I left my daypack at your house, Uncle Raven" he groaned.

SILENCE

Uncle Raven had already dashed up to Jake's room. He had a huge hammer and he started to bash a hole in the wall behind Jake's bed.

"NO! Stop, Uncle Raven," screamed Jake above the noise. "I moved my bed last week, it won't be over there!"

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