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Due to popular demand, I have added two more chapters to this Scribd.com EXCLUSIVE! Look for The Heroes of Nightingale on sale Soon! Enjoy, Mark
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The

Heroes of

Nightingale
Book One By

Mark Basker
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The Heroes of Nightingale© by Mark Basker. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, excepting brief quotes used in reviews.

This novel is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or events is entirely coincidental.

Book design by Mark Basker

Cover art© by Mark Basker

The Heroes of Nightingale - Edition 1.0

ISBN-10 1-4421-0465-1 ISBN-13 978-1-4421-0465-5

Order additional copies at : www.createspace.com/3375929

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This book is dedicated to all the fans that might enjoy it. Please share it with your friends and family. Also to my wife, Jacquelyn.

This Book is part One of The Nightingale Series. Part Two will be released around Winter 2009 entitled: Obsession in Nightingale

Please visit

www.markbasker.com

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One The Attack

On the top of the hill on Fig Lane an old Victorian-style
mansion sits in a horribly unkempt and dilapidated state. Thick English ivy climbs its walls, which are caked in dirt and grime. Yellow panes of glass are cracked and covered in black mildew. An overgrown pumpkin patch growing in muck is scattered along the side of the house reaching back towards the rotten wooden fence that should have been replaced a decade earlier. All of the kids on the street have stories about this house. Some say it's haunted. Others say vampires live in it. The most prevalent rumor however, is that a mad scientist lives there. Perhaps oddest of all, is recently a gold and onyx symbol resembling the Star of David was posted on the mailbox and front door of the house. This wouldn’t be too strange, except for the fact that at least once a week cars with that same exact symbol come visiting the house, almost as though they were holding some type of secret meetings inside. Then of course there are the disappearances. Not of children, but of dogs. More than four dogs on this street alone have come up missing recently. Kids have begun suspecting the vampires are eating them, or perhaps the scientist is doing experiments on them. Whatever it is, the parents don’t believe it, and reassuringly say a coyote is probably to blame. Which isn't very reassuring at all. Not too far down the street, a young teen exits out the back door of her house into the intoxicating darkness of the night. The star filled sky was nevertheless persistently radiating passed the glow of the city down bellow. Nightingale, Texas is located a heartbeat away from

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a massive airport. Loud planes hummed in the distance like angry lions. The girl had a slender frame and dark brown hair. She was named Rosie, after her red cheeks when she was born. The soft light of the moon was enough for Rosie to reach the shed behind her house. Her feet trampled the wet ground as she raised her arms to avoid walking into the shed (like she had last week). She finally felt the door and moved her hands to find the knob. A quick shock of static tickled her fingers. The hinges creaked as she yanked the door open. She quickly stepped inside and felt the shelf for the spare bag of dog food. It crinkled as she picked it up. She hurried out, flung the door closed behind her, and made her way back to the house. Just inside the sliding glass door a black pugs limp and lifeless tail instantly curled and began to wobble when it saw Rosie returning. She had an upside-down white V on her chest and a little gray underneath her chin. Even though she looked very much like a goon her name was Pretty. She was as loyal, friendly, and loving as a dog could possibly be; except when the doorbell rang. She would throw a fit, huffing, puffing, and barking like mad. Her usually docile attitude would be in an uproar until she was convinced it was safe again. Rosie stepped inside and walked into the family room as her Father, Peter, sat at the couch watching television. They were both watching a science fiction show. One might call them fanatics. Rosie loved to watch them with her Father. It gave them something to do together. They were a small family, just her and her Dad. Her Mother had passed away when she was just five. That was ten years ago, and to be honest she didn’t remember much of her Mother. She remembered both of them making cookies one day, and giving each other lots of hugs after they did the dishes and what not. Yet there wasn’t much that stuck out in her mind anymore... except one time. One very peculiar time. Rosie had a memory, which she had wondered about for quite

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a while. It seemed like a dream. She went over it again and again in her mind like a movie. One day, her Mother told her she was going to do a magic trick. Rosie watched her Mother somehow make water from the sink float up into the air like a balloon. It hovered there, and Rosie remembered batting it around. It would drip slightly, but it held its shape very well and was as light as a feather. Yet it couldn't be. Perhaps it was just bubbles? After all, how could someone make water float? Rosie still wondered; it was so clear in her mind. Rosie ripped open the bag of dog food and grabbed a handful out for Pretty. Her tail wagged happily and she was grunting, seeming to say, “Feed me! Feed me!” Rosie hurried back to the couch and sat next to her Father so she wouldn’t miss too much of the show. He was glancing at the comics as he put some eye drops in. He seemed torn between watching the show, and reading his favorite comic. Rosie was looking forward to watching it all week. It was very exciting and one of the few times they got to spend time together on something they both enjoyed. She put her feet up on the ottoman and laid back making herself more comfortable. Then all of a sudden the power went out. “Oh man!” her Father moaned. Rosie jumped out of her seat as she heard a crack of thunder. She looked out the window, but didn’t see any clouds. There hadn't been any all day. She wondered what was going on. Bang, Bang, Bang! Someone starting pounding on the front door as if their life depended on it. Bang, Bang! Peter got up from his chair and subtly walked towards the front door of the house. Rosie hurried behind him also trying to see what was going on. The knock was nerve raking, and it made her skin crawl. It sounded like someone was in serious danger or being tortured. Her Father hesitated for a moment, fear apparently overcame him, but he opened it up regardless.

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In rushed a young boy; Rosie couldn’t tell who it was at first in the darkness. Yet just as he seemed to walk over the threshold of the door the power came back on. It was Tommy, the younger brother of her best friend Wendy. He looked awful. He had cuts on his face and arms, and he was clenching his hands together, which seemed to be bloody as well. “Th… th” he stuttered in shock, “dog… attacked me!” his wide eyes cried with agony as he nervously shook. His chin quivered like he was freezing cold. Peter put an arm around Tommy and walked him towards the kitchen. “Come on, you’re alright now. Get the door Rosie.” Rosie crept towards the door and peeked out to see if she could see a dog. All she saw was his bike in the middle of the road underneath a street lamp. Its front tire still spinning eerily with a squeak. She slammed the door shut and locked it firmly. She gingerly followed her Father and Tommy into the kitchen. She stood back a bit to watch. Rosie could see Tommy's hands shaking, especially as he gripped his left. Her Father was getting a wash cloth and he looked over his shoulder to Rosie. “Would you call his parents, Rosie?” Rosie nodded her head and picked up the phone. She dialed his home knowing his number very well. Wendy picked up probably thinking Rosie had called to chat. “Hey, what’s up?” Wendy asked. “Uh... your brother is over here,” Rosie mumbled not knowing how to put it. “Why?” Wendy laughed. “He got hurt. A dog bit him or something. I think your parents better come get him,” Rosie explained. She could hear Wendy hollering at her parents. Soon her Mother was on the line and asked, “Rosie? Something happened to Tommy?”

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“Yeah, I think a dog bit him,” Rosie explained as Tommy shrieked in pain just yards away. Rosie thought she saw a little glimmer of tears in his eyes, to be honest she giggled inside. He always acted so macho. “We’ll be right there!” “Bye,” Rosie muttered, but they had already hung up. Rosie hung the phone up and walked towards Tommy and looked him over. He had a nasty scrape on his face. It almost looked like he slid head first into the ground. His arms were in no better shape either. His right arm looked like it had been bitten into, and she still couldn’t see what was wrong with his left hand. All she knew was it was bleeding an awful lot. “Your parents are coming. What happened anyway?” Rosie asked as her Father was now cleaning up his cuts with rubbing alcohol and paper towels. “I was just ridding back from the store and out of nowhere a dog jumped me. I fell off my bike and it started yanking at my arms. It was growling. It was crazy,” Tommy explained in a near whisper. He sniffled like he was fighting back the urge to break down and cry. “Dad, do you think he'll need a rabies shot now?” Rosie asked with a wicked smile. She said it just to watch him squirm a little bit more. “Rabies?” Tommy yelped. Her Father slowly nodded his head. “I wonder if it was that coyote that’s been eating all the dogs up? Was it Tommy?” Rosie asked. It would certainly explain what happened to the missing dogs. Tommy seemed shy suddenly. He looked away and shook his head. “No, it wasn’t nothing like that.” “What was it then?” Rosie asked. “It was a Shih-Tzu…” Tommy sheepishly sighed.

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“A Shih-Tzu?” Rosie roared in laughter. “How could a ShihTzu do that? They're little fluff balls.” “I don’t know. It was so fast. It was sparking like a lightning bolt too,” Tommy whined as he fiddled with the paper towel himself. He seemed to be a bit relaxed now knowing he was safe. “A lightning bolt?” Rosie asked remembering the thunder she had heard. “Yeah. I was riding and all of a sudden I see a little white dog sprinting at me. I didn't think much of it, but it started going really fast and it was glowing with electricity all of a sudden. I tried to speed off, but it knocked my off my bike, like it was going to eat me. I think it was on drugs or something. I tried to sock it, but it disappeared,” Tommy added shaking his head, probably wondering if what he had seen was real or not. “Huh,” Peter uttered in disbelief. Yet he had a nervous look about his face, almost as if he knew something. He swallowed deeply and asked, “I wonder if it is Mrs. Prescott’s dog?” “Her dog went missing last week,” Rosie thought out loud. “No one's seen it. I wonder...” Rosie began, but stopped herself. She was wondering if perhaps the dog had fallen into the wrong hands. Perhaps into the hands of someone who would do an experiment on it? Her Father told her not to spread such rumors however, he said gossip was destructive. She always thought it was fun on the other hand. “All I know is it was vicious,” Tommy blurted. “They need to put it down,” he frowned with a sour face. A few minutes later the Klien family arrived to pick up Tommy. His Mother seemed most concerned over his left hand, which had a small patch of skin completely missing off of one of the fingers. They hurried off to the hospital to get him taken care of, but asked if Wendy could stay while they were gone.

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Her Father naturally agreed. They were members of the same church and knew each other very well. Rosie and Wendy were both the same age so they attended the same Sunday school classes ever since they were little girls. As it was, there weren’t many Latter-day Saints in their small town, so they were best friends. Her Father worked for a company called Evo-Netics. They were primarily a pharmaceutical company. Occasionally they would be in the newspaper concerning various patents or new drugs coming to the market. His job really shouldn't have been very interesting at all, but it seemed to be. Rosie always thought it was kind of strange her Father would have important things come up at work so often considering he was a lawyer. It seemed they were being sued every five minutes. Sometimes in the middle of the night he would dash away to the office. Something seemed fishy, she just didn't know what. When they were alone, Rosie recounted to Wendy what Tommy had told them about the attack. Wendy couldn’t believe it either. They both thought along the same lines too. Mr. Powell probably had something to do with it. He was the old man who lived in the mansion. He was just about as eccentric as they came. He collected milk jugs on his front lawn. He kept a giant empty cage on the side of his house, and kids swore they saw bats flying out of his attic all the time. He almost never left his house, and when he did he shut his mansion down tighter than Fort Knox. He had cameras, gates, and locks on everything. It seemed like some type of military base. Everyone was afraid of that place, even her Father wouldn't look at it when they drove by. “I bet he had something to do with it,” Wendy hissed. She curled her long blond hair on her fingers. It’s what she always did when she was thinking extra hard. “Yeah, I bet one of the animals he does experiments on escaped. Or maybe he was testing it? Seeing if it could get the job

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done?” Rosie asked. Wendy slowly nodded her head. Thinking methodically about the twisted mind of Mr. Powell. “I bet he is laughing it up right now.” Rosie stood up suddenly, “Let’s go see.” She had a flare for bravery and adventure, one that Wendy was disappointedly lacking. “Go see?” Wendy nervously asked. “Yeah, let's see if he's outside. I bet we will find him searching for the dog that did this. I’m sure it's one of his!” Rosie grinned as she looked over her desk for a flashlight. Her room wasn’t very feminine. There were no pictures of boys or famous singers. There were religious paintings, a microscope, and a small dog house next to her bed. It was kept very clean and hardly looked lived in except for the desk, which seemed to be filled with school-work from the past four years. There were also dozens of books. Both recreational and school. It almost seemed as though Rosie had nothing better to do, but homework. She finally found the windup flashlight she was looking for and began to spin the handle. The power elements squeaked noisily as she spun the generator. The lights dimly came to life, as if having a half dead battery feeding them. “We can’t leave,” Wendy protested. “It could be dangerous.” “Exactly!” Rosie smiled. She was typically very calm, serene and agreeable, but she loved a good mystery. Mr. Powell and his creepy house had been driving her bonkers all summer long. It was time once and for all to see what was going on there. It was time to figure out if he was the one responsible for the missing dogs. “We need to see if it’s true Wendy. We’ve been talking about it all summer. School starts next Monday…” “UGGHH! Don’t remind me!” Wendy complained. “Well it does. And if we don’t find out what this guy is up to we might as well have wasted our whole summer. We’re going to High

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School, we can’t be afraid to peek over some old mans fence, can we?” Rosie asked. She knew Wendy was nervous about going to High School. It seemed like the pinnacle of a kids life. The last true bastion of childhood before they had to go out and make it on their own. And it was freighting, to say the least. “Uhh,” Wendy hesitated. “It’s dark, that silly flashlight isn’t good enough.” Rosie squinted her eyes trying to think of where another one was. To be honest the one she had wasn’t too great. It was a bit dim already even though she had cranked it for a good while. “I think my Dad’s got a big one for camping.” Rosie and Wendy made their way downstairs. They could hear Rosie’s Father in the family room watching T.V. Rosie sneaked her way to the hall closet and looked inside for the large red flashlight. It was one of the mammoth flashlights that took the rectangular batteries. It would be more than enough. She found it just as Wendy accidentally kicked an old birdcage. “You girls alright?” Peter called from the other room. Rosie looked sorely at Wendy. “Yeah, fine. Just getting something from the closet.” She had been planning to sneak out, but her Father would be suspicious now. She walked into the living room and stood by her Father who was staring blankly at the comics. He seemed transfixed on them sometimes. It was like he was obsessed with them. “We are going to take Tommy’s bike over to Wendy’s house. We’ll be back in a bit,” Rosie smiled giving her Father a hug. Wendy giggled a bit knowing Rosie hadn’t told him everything they planned on doing. A few minutes later they were out the door with flashlights in hand. They were both a bit afraid. They certainly didn’t want to run into any wild coyotes, or Mr. Powell for that matter, but they wanted to

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feed their summers notions of mystery and intrigue. Was Mr. Powell really a crazy scientist? Was he some sort of vampire caretaker? The little orbs of light shown brightly on the pavement down bellow. Tommy’s bike had already been pulled in their driveway so they walked passed it and headed up the sidewalk towards the mansion. A chilling wind blew on Rosie’s face and she hesitantly swallowed as if afraid. The street lamp above sputtered to life and died again a second later. It seemed to beat to life, with each beat of her heart. Dead leaves blew down the road in little packs as if playing a game. Rosie zipped her sweatshirt up, she hadn’t expected it to be so cold. As they walked further up the hill she turned her head to see her home disappearing from view. They were walking passed an abandoned lot of grass and thick shrub that lay between her home and the mansion. Suddenly she heard a rustling in the bushes and turned her head with a jolt. “Wendy?” Rosie croaked. Wendy darted her head towards the brush. Her blond hair whipped every which way. She seemed to sink in her skin, wanting to disappear. “Huh?” Rosie held her big red flashlight up to the bushes. They were rustling, and it seemed that something as large as a bear was emerging. She saw someone's feet suddenly, and immediately shined the light upward, revealing two milky eyes covering themselves from the immense glow. Arms flayed batting in the air. Rosie’s knees began to shake, and she couldn’t think straight. She started running as fast as she could! She didn’t look back, and didn’t know where she was going. She pointed the flashlight down so that she wouldn’t trip, and that’s all she could muster to do. She finally came storming up the hill with such a great speed when she came to the mansions gate she didn’t even hesitate to push it open. The iron gate swung open and several lights from

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all corners came on. Cameras were trained on her, but she continued to run towards the old wooden fence. She finally stopped next to the large kennel on the side of the house and put her hands on it and knelt down to catch her breath. “Who was that? Did you see them Wendy?” Rosie asked. She turned her head only to discover that she was alone. She had never been this far on Mr. Powell’s property. To think that she was there by herself at this time of night made her horrified. She rubbed her eyes feeling an overwhelming sense of anxiety and stress overcome her. She knew she shouldn’t be here. It wasn’t safe. And she could hear something. Something very peculiar. It was like, a sniffing. She stood to her feet and looked around. She pointed the light around her trying to figure out where the noise was coming from and then held it at the kennel. For a brief second she could have sworn she saw two little eyes illuminate as she turned the flashlight towards the cage, but now there was nothing. She leaned in closer to the cage, transfixed on it. It sounded like the noise was coming from inside the cage, but she couldn’t see anything there. “Hello?” she oddly asked as if something would respond. There was a loud clash suddenly. Rosie immediately turned her head towards the gate she had entered to see none other than Mr. Powell. He was walking with a leash in hand escorting what looked shockingly similar to a Shih-Tzu. She could feel her heart pounding. It was true! The nut had trained the dog to attack kids no doubt! Rosie crept further away from the cage towards the wooden fence. To her surprise Mr. Powell began turning around the corner heading straight for her. Rosie clicked the light off and picked up a milk bottle. She tossed it as hard as she could. No sooner had she thrown it that it shattered on the ground and startled Mr. Powell forcing him to turn his

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head the other way. She took advantage of this time to scurry along the wooden fence until she finally reached a gate and went inside. Rosie had never been back here, and never dared to. She stood in bewilderment at what she saw. There was what looked like two large lighted greenhouses, a giant pond with a cage hanging above it, and milk bottles scattered everywhere on the ground. There was also a collection of some very small tanks, silos, and pipes. It looked like a miniature chemical manufacturing plant. Although she wished she had a camera, or could stand there all night and enjoy the view, she hurried towards one of the greenhouses. She didn’t know where Mr. Powell was headed and wanted to be well hidden before he was anywhere near her. She grabbed the handle and was relieved to find it unlocked. A thick and warm air greeted her as she fell to her knees and began crawling in a dusty gravel. She crawled along the ground only looking up to see what the plants were every now and then. She saw tomatoes, cucumbers, and even several thorny looking artichoke plants, which were very large and were already in bloom ruining the vegetable. Then Rosie saw something. Something strangely curious and fantastic. She had never seen anything like it or dare imagine anything like it exist. She absentmindedly stood to her feet and gazed in wonder at the plant. She plucked off one of the strawberry sized fruits, pinched it, and it burst.

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Two The Punishment

A glowing goo was deposited on her fingers. It almost
seemed like this plant was infused with light somehow. Its leaves gave off a bright white, and its fruit gave off a strange pink. If Rosie didn’t know any better she would say it was a strawberry plant, but it wasn't. There was a small card on the front of the planter which read, Glow Berry. She wondered if it was edible. She licked the juice that was on her fingers. It tasted very much like honey. She picked another fruit and took a bite. It was delicious! It tasted like the mix between honeycomb and strawberry, and even had a sweet nectar center that made her tongue glow when she stuck it out. She ate a few more, before she remembered where she was and what she was doing. She took a few and stuffed them in her pocket, so she could show Wendy later. As she was standing there she hadn’t noticed there were lights on in the back yard now. It had been very dark before. Rosie wondered if Mr. Powell had seen her? Rosie took her flashlight with her and hurried to the door. She tossed it open and nearly tripped over a milk bottle. That’s when she looked up and saw Mr. Powell standing at the back doorway of his home. He was looking right at her. She froze, almost thinking he wouldn’t see her if she didn’t move. Her heart was racing, she felt sick to her stomach. “What? Who are you? What are you doing here?” he hollered in a loud and angry voice. Rosie dropped her flashlight and began to run away. She didn’t want to get caught. He might do experiments on her, or worse! She

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jumped over milk bottle after milk bottle. She wondered what in the world he did with these things anyway? She could hear him yelling at her, but the further away she got the less it bothered her. She finally got to the wooden fence adjacent to her house and climbed up it with all her might and an incredible jump. She pulled herself up and over, and found herself in a thick brush. She trotted through it for a few minutes, then finally made her way to her own backyard where she again hopped over the fence and was safely home again. Her hands were shaking, but she was safe. She even cracked a nervous smile. Rosie let out a sigh of relief. It felt great to be home. She sneaked around the side of the house knowing the back door was locked and to her astonishment saw a worried looking Wendy pacing back and forth on the sidewalk. “Hey,” Rosie called from behind. Wendy jumped, “You scared me!” But with that Wendy went up and gave her friend a giant hug of relief. “I was so worried. I was thinking about calling the cops, but I didn’t want to freak out your Dad.” “How come you didn’t follow me?” Rosie asked. “I thought you were following me! I didn’t expect you to go inside his yard! Right when I turned around and looked, I saw him head for the house just after you went inside the gate,” Wendy explained. “Well, it was pretty fun. He’s got a lot of weird stuff in the backyard. Look what I found in a greenhouse,” Rosie smiled and reached into her pocket. She grabbed out three Glow Berries and handed them to Wendy. “Wow, what are these?” Wendy asked. “The sign said Glow Berries. They’re delicious too, try one,” Rosie grinned as she ate one.

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Wendy hesitated, but ate one too after she saw Rosie bite into hers. “Hey, they really are good!” “Yeah, I think I should plant this. Maybe I could grow my own?” Rosie giggled. “Well… did he see you?” Wendy asked. “Uh…” Rosie hesitated. Her face got itchy all of a sudden and she didn't know what to say. “I don’t know. I got a good look at him. I’m not sure he would recognize me. Besides, he’s a weird old man. He probably has a bad memory. We might want to get inside though. In case he comes looking for me,” Rosie explained and hurried inside her house. When they walked in Rosie’s Father called to them from the other room. “Rosie, tell Wendy her Dad called. He said we need to go down to the office, something came up. You girls don’t mind, do you? You can spend the night too Wendy.” Peter came out of the other room wearing a suit. He worked with Wendy’s Dad at Evo-Netics. When her Mother was living she worked at the same company too. “Oh, okay,” Rosie replied with a disappointing sigh. Wendy had a sulky look on her face. Rosie felt just about the same way. It wasn’t that she didn’t want Wendy to stay, she just felt kind of alone. Not alone, as in the only person there, but vulnerable. What if Mr. Powell came to the front door when the girls were there? It’s not like they could punch him in the face and send him packing. They would be scared out of their wits. Pretty wasn’t much of a guard dog either. She could bark and throw a fuss, but it was honestly little more than show. “How come both our Dads have to work together?” Wendy complained after Peter left the room. “I dunno,” Rosie moaned as she dragged herself into the living room. Pretty sat up and began stretching. “I’m going to get some blankets. Want to sleep in here tonight?” Rosie asked pointing to the

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sofa and recliners. Wendy nodded her head and grabbed the remote. When they were finally settled in and her Father left, the girls resorted to huddling around the T.V. watching the typical Friday night Heroes go at it. Whether they were watching Sci-Fi’s or mysteries, they always cheered for the good guys. They could kind of relate to them in a way. They always tried to do the right thing in their lives, and it was encouraging to have someone immortalized on T.V. that was fighting for truth and light. It was probably one of the only aspects of the modern world, which still held morality and honesty in high regard. Most of the time anyway. Finally as the shows started becoming reruns Rosie went upstairs to retrieve an envelope. It was hidden underneath her mattress stitched behind a hidden compartment, which was concealed with Velcro. Wendy fetched the daily paper and they began one of their summer rituals, which had consumed much of their lives recently. They would go through the paper, trying to find anything that was miraculous, amazing, or just plain weird; and sometimes, grizzly. They weren’t tin-foil-hat wearing psychos, but they did love a good story. They had ten miraculous events, eighteen amazing stories, five weird ones, and of course the grizzly ones. The ones that they hated to read, but they completed the spectrum of good and evil, and put things in perspective. There were a lot of grizzly stories unfortunately, and they cared not to count them. “So, what do you want to go over first?” Rosie asked. Wendy handed her a few sections of the paper and they began searching it. Most of the stories weren’t out of the ordinary. There was a story about roadwork going on, one about small business owners, and one about a fire at a local factory. Nothing really out of the ordinary that Rosie could tell. That is until she got to one about a burglary.

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Crook Creeps passed Super Security - Staff Writer Bartholomew Little Last night after closing the super secure research firm Evo-Netics suffered an embarrassing breach in security. One man apparently got passed multiple layers of defense to steal dozens of classified documents relating to the firms latest research. While insiders aren’t naming anyone, it is thought rival companies, perhaps Lexew Enterprises was behind the break in. The two companies have flung mud back and forth recently, accusing the other of being technology thieves. Its no surprise that Evo-Netics recent patent of drug, (Cure-All) was placed minutes before rival Lexew Enterprise stormed in the building to apply for an identical patent, only to learn they had been beaten to the point. Lead researcher, Nathan Powell, was quoted as saying “Evo-Netics are cheats, liars, and thieves. We are trying to pursue litigation to stop them from stealing from us in the future. After all, how can I be expected to put food on the table for my kids when years of research is being stolen out from under me?” Peter Goodrick, attorney for Evo-Netics responded by saying, “We’re not the one's stealing. We’re trying to investigate who is behind theft at our own facilities as we speak.” While this reporter doesn’t know who is telling the truth, you can expect the mud to continue flying. Fly mud fly! Rosie sat there for a moment trying to take it all in. For weeks, months even of being on the outside, she now felt as if she were part of the news. Her own Father was in the newspaper. Why hadn’t he said anything about it? No wonder why he had to leave for the of-

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fice. She wondered if there was another break in? She was so overcome by the news she almost forgot to tell Wendy. “HEY!” Rosie yelled letting all of the excitement in her mind blow out. Wendy nearly jumped through the roof. “What?” Rosie couldn’t say it, it was too exciting. “Look at this,” she cried jamming the newspaper into Wendy’s hands. Wendy began reading the story out loud. She began slowly at first, then a tinge of excitement radiated in her voice, and hurry as well. “Evo-Netics, Lexew Enterprises, Peter Goodrick.” Their Fathers had both told them about Lexew Enterprises. They told them what scum and cheats they were. They also said strange things about them too. Things the newspapers supported. Animal experimentation, illegal human genetic manipulation, radiation based weapons. It seemed like they were always fighting against EvoNetics too. Anytime a new drug or invention came out, Lexew Enterprises would bash it saying it cases cancer, or say it was stolen. Making the situation worse, Lexew Enterprises relocated their headquarters directly across the street from Evo-Netics. Rosie had visited the facilities before. Her Father had a large office there, and many members from church worked there also. It was where her Mother had worked before she passed away of course, and coincidently both of Wendy's folks worked there too. “What does this mean?” Wendy finally asked. “It means, our Dads are going to be busy. Those Lexew guys are trying to steal from them. Who else would it be?” Rosie asked. Wendy continued staring at the paper. “Hmm, Nathan Powell? You don’t suppose he is related to the old man do you?” Rosie stood up as if being struck by lightning. She had the sweetest epiphany she could have dreamed. “I bet he is. That’s probably why my Dad says to stay away from Mr. Powell. He doesn’t want

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us causing any more trouble.” “We ought to go egg his house. Show him what trash he is!” Wendy wickedly smiled. “No, we better stay home. If he is connected with Lexew Enterprises, who knows what he has at his house? He might shoot us with a radiation beam for all we know!” They both sat there in quiet now. Wondering about what Mr. Powell was doing, what their Fathers were doing, and what was happening tonight at Evo-Netics. Rosie knew the new Cure-All drug was a revolutionary treatment for cancer. It was supposed to help with many different kinds that were considered difficult to treat. They were manufacturing it for a reasonable price too. It probably had something to do with that. It was getting late though. Wendy’s eyes were already droopy, and Rosie was having trouble keeping the sand man at bay herself. All of their anxieties about loneliness had been replaced with theories and conspiracies. The kinds they loved. The kinds they stayed up for hours talking about. The kind that finally exhausted them for the evening. The following morning Rosie was woken up by a knocking at the door. She weakly opened her eyes to see Wendy fast asleep in front of her on the other couch. Rosie lazily got up and stretched. She mindlessly put one foot in front of the other. Out of the corner of her eyes she saw someone coming. She turned her head, and discovered it was her Father. “Hi Rosie,” her Father said as he briskly walked to the door beating her there. He was apparently in the act of taking off his tie. He opened the door, and to Rosie’s horror Mr. Powell stood there. She almost thought for a moment she was still dreaming and this was some sort of nightmare.

~ 24 ~

He was holding the red flashlight that she had dropped the night before. He had an angry look on his face as he held it up. “Ditched this on my property Miss Goodrick?” Her Father looked at her oddly. Rosie grabbed it out of his hand, seeing written on the handle in black, permanent, bold letters, GOODRICK. “Oh, yeah. I guess I did.” “You ought to stay off my property young lady. See my signs don’t you?” he asked in an old shaky voice. He pointed his finger at her like a knife. It gave her the creeps. “Sorry about that. I thought, I was being chased,” Rosie explained trying to keep herself steady. She had half the mind to run and hide. “Guess you get sneaking from your Dad? Don’t she?” Mr. Powell spat poking at Peter. Peter brushed his finger away and reassuringly said, “I’m sorry for whatever happened. I was gone last night and didn’t know there were any problems. Is there anything I can do for you?” “No. Just tell her to mind her own business. For all I know she’s a spy! I’ll let Nathan know about this, mark my words!” Mr. Powell hissed. He had a frown on his face that would have made a clown burst into tears. Gray whiskers were speckled all over his face, and his nose was long like a bird beak. “Judas, I’m sorry. Can’t Rosie make it up to you? Need your house cleaned or anything?” Peter asked shaking his head in bewilderment. Mr. Powell crossed his arms and spat on the ground. “Well… It is hard for me to do that type of thing. I’m always busy in my research. If you could send her over later, I suppose I could forgive the infraction.” “Absolutely. She’ll be there whenever you’d like,” Peter smiled.

~ 25 ~

“Noon. Sharp! She’ll be there all day, tell her to eat something before she comes. I’m not running a soup kitchen. And my house is pretty dirty!” Judas laughed. Rosie was somewhat annoyed that her Father randomly volunteered her to clean Mr. Powell’s dirty old house. That was the last thing she wanted to do with her last free Saturday before school started. She wanted to go to the mall with Wendy. “She’ll be there,” Peter smiled as he closed the door and Mr. Powell went limping away. When the door closed Rosie crossed her arms and looked aggressively at her Father. His own expression was even more angry however when the door was closed, something that was very rare. It made Rosie back down like a downtrodden puppy. “Rosie, listen to me very clearly, clean his home better than you would clean this one. The last thing we need is the Father of Nathan Powell to be broadcasting to the media my daughter is breaking in his house. Why were you over there anyway?” her Father demanded. “I didn’t mean to. I was just in his backyard, it’s not like I broke his front door down or anything,” Rosie defensively replied. “Just whatever you do, don’t bother that old man. He’s not some circus freak for you to poke at. Leave him alone! Got it?” Peter ordered turning red slightly. “Yes sir,” Rosie squeaked. “Take Wendy with you too. I’m sure she was right there with you, wasn’t she?” he stormed off before even hearing an answer. Truthfully Rosie almost wanted to cry. She wasn’t a bad girl, and almost never got into any trouble. She slowly walked into the family room where she saw Wendy sitting up, probably woken up from all of the commotion. “What happened?” Wendy asked with a scared look on her face.

~ 26 ~

Rosie threw the flashlight on the couch. “My stupid name was written on the flashlight! I dropped it when I was running and Mr. Powell snitched on me.” “Oh,” Wendy squeaked with a worried look. “Are we in trouble?” she asked. “Yeah, we got to go clean his stupid house now,” Rosie complained. “No. We're going to the Galleria!” Wendy protested. That was a large mall they planned on visiting in Dallas. They loved it, and they wanted to get some new outfits for Monday. “Well, we better get some breakfast. We’re going to need it. We have to be there all day. It's our punishment,” Rosie cringed.

~ 27 ~

Three The Glasses

Rosie and Wendy both found themselves retracing the steps
they had made the previous night. Grudgingly they walked passed a few friends riding bikes and having fun much like they wanted to be having themselves. One teen even drove by them in a car, blasting the stereo. Rosie wanted to hide her face; she felt like a nerd. As they were nearly up the hill they both heard Tommy calling to them. They turned and saw that he was alright after all. “Hey! Where are you guys going?” Tommy asked as he peddled up beside them. “We got in trouble, we have to clean Mr. Powell’s house,” Wendy explained as she fiddled with her long blond hair making a ponytail. “What? Are you serious?” Tommy laughed. “Yeah. Anyway, how is your hand? Did the shots hurt?” Wendy asked. Tommy held it up revealing a few bandages on his arm and several stitches on his finger. “It all hurt pretty bad. They grafted some skin on my finger. Look, it’s gross isn’t it?” “Eww,” Rosie gagged seeing a dirty mess of bloody, scabbed, purple skin revealed underneath his bandage. He quickly covered it with a wicked smile. “Do you guys want me to help?” Tommy asked. “Uh, why would you want to do that?” Wendy asked. “I don’t know. Just wondering is all,” Tommy smiled. He

~ 28 ~

looked over his shoulder though and saw several of his friends down the street. “Never mind. I’ll see you guys later!” He smiled as he went speeding down the hill. They were finally at the heavily fortified gate. Thick square shrubs hid much of the yard. Signs of No-Trespass and Danger were posted on the iron fence. Cameras were everywhere, and Rosie hated to admit it, but it almost looked like weapons were pointed at the gate also. There was an intercom with a little button, so she pressed it. A loud electronic buzzer sounded and a few seconds later Mr. Powell appeared on a small LCD monitor. He had a weak smile on his face and croaked, “Come on in, it’s unlocked.” A loud clank sounded and the gate fell open. Rosie took a deep breath and walked bravely onto Mr. Powell’s property. Rosie could hear a few kids behind her in the street. “What are you doing?” , “They’ve lost their minds!” yelled another. Rosie kind of felt like she was walking towards a firing squad. Her stomach was left at the front gate, and so was her nerve. She had the undeniable feeling of hopelessness. She wondered what she would find in Mr. Powell’s house. Dogs chained to walls? People chained to walls? Mr. Powell was such an enigma, there were hundreds of theories about who he was and what he did. Yet some of that mystery was replaced. Now Rosie knew who he was and what he did. But she was still afraid. Just because he was a scientist, didn't mean he wasn't mad. As the girls made it to the front door they turned to one another. Rosie could see Wendy’s hands were a bit shaky. They both looked horrible. “Are you scared?” “Uh huh,” Wendy nodded. Rosie patted Wendy on the back trying to comfort her. “It’ll be alright. It’s not like no one knows we’re here,” Rosie mumbled half trying to convince herself it wasn't so bad. Rosie swallowed and knocked hard on the door. The door

~ 29 ~

echoed deep, sounding like a massive drum being pounded by a war chief. The door creaked eerily much like a haunted house, and behind it Mr. Powell stood in an old wrinkled white shirt and worn down khakis. He had on a dirty pair of black slippers that barely touched his heavily frayed pants. His hair looked very greasy and he smiled revealing dirty yellow teeth. “Hello Miss Goodrick. And this is?” Mr. Powell asked motioning towards Wendy. It seemed like Wendy tried to speak, but she couldn’t gather the words. “This is my friend Wendy. She’s here to help too,” Rosie smiled for less than a second before turning back into a frown. She just couldn't keep a smile on her face. It was asking too much at a time like this. “Very well,” Mr. Powell gruffly yawned and held the door open wide for the two of them. Rosie walked in and turned to see Wendy wanting to take a dash for the gate. She grabbed her by the shoulder and with a gentle nudge yanked her inside. They stood in the foyer of Mr. Powell’s house seeing dust and cobwebs covering nearly everything. A very exquisite crystal chandelier hung overhead looking almost as if it were covered by an oddly shaped gray lampshade, which was nothing more than a horribly thick layer of grim. The floor was in no better shape. Being black and stained around the edges, with a visible trail of walking down the center. A rickety looking set of stairs laid in front of them and a hallway straight ahead and to the left. The house for the most part was made of a honey colored oak, which was unfortunately blackened from lack of care. It was less a mansion and more of a dump. Rosie couldn't imagine anything living in a place like this, besides ghosts. Artwork hung on the walls needing to be dusted and just about everything for that matter looked as if it hadn’t been taken care of for

~ 30 ~

nearly a decade. Rosie looked around wondering where in the world to start. She spun around feeling overwhelmed and saw a mop and bucket, broom, and a table full of brand new cleaning supplies. “I got these for you this morning. Figure they’d do the job. I’ll be upstairs doing research. You can use the intercom if you need anything,” Mr. Powell explained and began limping up the stairs. He laid almost all of his weight on the rails as he lifted himself up each step. He didn't turn once to make sure they were getting the job done. Rosie and Wendy both stood there watching him pull himself up the stairs until he was finally gone. Rosie grabbed the mop and bucket and Wendy took the broom. “This place is a pigsty.” “Tell me about it,” Wendy grumbled as she began whacking the chandelier free of dirt. It began snowing mounds of dust so the girls jumped aside until it was safe to breath again. “Honestly, who would live in a place like this?” Rosie asked covering her mouth. “I know one. He’s upstairs right now,” Wendy laughed. Rosie began walking around to find some water. She found a bathroom, which looked like it hadn’t been used for years. The toilet was covered in a thick black mold. She flushed it and nearly gagged from the rancid smell. She turned the water on to wash her hands, and was surprised to find a smelly, rusty colored water come out of the facet. “Gross! Even the water is rotten!” Rosie gagged and left the water on hoping it would clear up in a minute or two. Wendy was walking around the house dusting the pictures with the broom. It was more like batting at them, but it got the job done. Rosie followed her just trying to get a good look at the house. There were two spare bedrooms, a library, a dinning room, a family room, the kitchen and bathroom. The rooms were all very large, and Rosie could tell if it were clean, it would be a very nice looking

~ 31 ~

and elegant home. In the dinning room there was a picture of Mr. Powell, an older woman, probably his wife, and what looked to be their son. Rosie wondered what happened to Mrs. Powell? Also to her surprise, there was nothing peculiar around the house. There were no experiments, no cages, nothing odd at all- except the filth. Rosie peaked out the back window however and could see the greenhouses, and the pond with a cage hanging above it; milk bottles by the dozens and several pipes connected to tanks. She wondered what all that stuff was for? As she walked passed the stairs going back to the bathroom she knew she needed to get up there somehow. Mr. Powell surely conducted all of his research upstairs, Rosie thought. For now, she would keep her end of the bargain and clean the house as she was told. Rosie pushed the mop back and forth slowly cleaning dirty layer after dirty layer. She found it easier to let the water soak in and then mop it, so she made most of the floor a wet, slippery, soapy mess. The mop was black by now from the grime, but the areas she had cleaned looked much better. She must have changed the water at least six times already. Wendy had completed all of the dusting and was now going around cleaning the windows inside and out. Rosie whistled a bit while she worked, trying to liven things up a tad. Every time Rosie walked by the staircase she peaked up hoping to see a glimpse of something amazing. She was thoroughly disappointed however, when she realized she could see nothing good from her vantage point. She heard a few loud fizzles and what could be best described as a bang, but that was the extent of her excitement for much of the day. When Rosie was finally done mopping all of the floors Wendy and her played a quick game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who would be unfortunate enough to clean the bathroom. To Rosie’s disappointed paper, Wendy’s scissors was the victor. Rosie grabbed the bathroom

~ 32 ~

cleaner off the table and stomped off. As she was cleaning she daydreamed about what might be upstairs. She wondered if there was any cool technology she might be able to use. Some sort of intelligence pill, or a weapon she might be able to use that could freeze bad guys in their tracks. She giggled a bit to herself as she imagined being in the newspaper for stopping a bank robber. Eventually Mr. Powell came down stairs and called to the girls. “I’m going to be having a snack. You girls are welcome to join me,” he hollered in a shaky voice. Rosie perked up. She hadn’t expected any kindness from the old man. She washed her hands and joined Mr. Powell and Wendy in the kitchen. She took a seat next to Wendy as Mr. Powell chopped some food up on a cutting board. “It’s not often I have visitors you know. Sometimes my son comes, or some of his colleagues from work. But, I haven’t any friends…” Mr. Powell stood there for a moment. He shook his head as he said, “I suppose all I have is my research. But I love it.” Rosie smiled at Wendy after having been separated from her for most of the day. Although she had to admit with all of the gross tasks she had to do, it wasn’t as awful as they had both imagined it would be. Mr. Powell carried a glass dish to the table and set it down in front of them as well as some silverware and dishes. Rosie stared at it intently. There were what looked to be Glow Berries, and some type of white fruit, looking almost like an apple glowing the fairest white. There were also some small round fruits, similar in size to grapes. The girls both looked at each other and were very hesitant to take anything. “Go on!” Mr. Powell encouraged and began serving himself. He began eating quickly, as if it were all delicious. He particularly seemed to like the apple, which he licked very intently in his palms be-

~ 33 ~

fore biting into. Rosie wondered if he knew this was odd fruit? Surely he must have known they didn’t sell Glow Berries in the supermarket? “Um,” Rosie weakly muttered. Mr. Powell looked up quickly, with a piece of white fruit hanging in his teeth, “Huh?” “This stuff. What did you get it from?” Rosie asked. “Oh this? It’s from my greenhouse. You like fruit, don’t you?” Mr. Powell asked. “Oh, yes, of course. It’s just we’ve never seen this kind of fruit before,” Rosie explained motioning to Wendy who nodded her head in agreement. “Of course you haven’t! I raise most of it myself. You don’t think I’m some, one shot blockhead do you?” Mr. Powell spat getting angry. Rosie shook her head not knowing how to respond. “What do you mean? One shot blockhead?” Mr. Powell jumped to his feet sending the chair crashing behind him. “What? What’s this you say? You mean you don’t know? You don’t know what I've invented?” “Sir?” Rosie asked being a bit afraid. Mr. Powell really lost it at that point. “Blasted!” He stomped up and down the kitchen and picked up a plate and threw it on a ground. “Lousy, good for nothing partner! He took everything from me! He scammed me! He scammed me I tell you!” Rosie stood up as did Wendy. Wendy looked like she wanted to leave, but Rosie walked up to Mr. Powell and took him gently by the hand. “I believe you.” Mr. Powell took a deep breath and seemed exhausted. He sat back down at the table and took a pair of glasses out of his pocket. He flicked the rims with his finger and finally said. “Of all the things I’ve

~ 34 ~

ever invented, there’s one thing I discovered that I could never top.” “What’s that?” Wendy asked from the other side of the room. “These,” he said holding up the glasses. “These things are amazing,” he smiled and laughed. They all began to laugh. Glasses were indeed amazing. They made a blurry world clear. Rosie knew he didn't invent glasses though. He must have been batty. She always figured he was. Mr. Powell fiddled around with the glasses in his hands. They were silver, and finely crafted. They looked like they were very old. He handed them to Rosie and said, “Take good care of these, will you?” Rosie nodded her head and slipped the glasses in her pocket. Wendy finally sat back down at the table just as Mr. Powell got up and told them he was going back up stairs to take a quick nap. The girls continued eating for a while as they whispered with one another. “Do you suppose this fruit is safe to eat?” Wendy asked. “I guess. He isn’t dead at least. I’ll tell you one thing, it sure is good,” Rosie smiled as she ate a Glow Berry. “These little grapes are good too. They taste like lemon-lime soda,” Wendy giggled. “I wonder what's up stairs. Should we have a peek?” Rosie asked in a whisper. Just as she said that however there was a knock at the front door, which startled them. Rosie hurried to the door, worried it was someone from Lexew Enterprises. She stuck her eye up to the peep hole and couldn’t believe who she saw standing there. It was Wendy’s brother. “You won’t believe who it is?” Rosie gasped. “Who,” Wendy asked pushing her aside to look out as well. As soon as she had a good look for herself, she threw the door open and cried, “Tommy! What are you doing here?”

~ 35 ~

“What? I just thought I would see if you are alright?” Tommy explained. “Of course we’re alright!” Wendy hissed in an older sister kind of way. “Why don’t you get back home?” Tommy was non-responsive though and barged in. “I just want to get a look around. It’s not like you wouldn’t do the same if I was here. You two, are the nosiest kids on the block!” “Keep your voice down,” Wendy hissed. “Alright!” Tommy said defensively. “I just want to get a look around, then I’ll split.” “Well, he’s taking a nap right now. We were going to go upstairs and see what he has,” Rosie explained with a wide smile. She was about to do what every kid wanted to do on the block. Get a first hand look at Mr. Powell’s house without interruption. Slowly all three of them crept up the stairs sure to not make any more noise than a tiny mouse. If Mr. Powell was not awake by now, surely he wouldn’t be from them going to the second floor in this stealth fashion. Like burglars they stepped further and further making almost no noise. Rosie tried to slow her breathing down. She didn't want to be any louder than she could possibly manage. “Shh,” Rosie whispered a final time as she was at the last step. “Let me see what Mr. Powell is doing. I will wave you on if it’s clear.” There were many closed doors and a long hall, which stretched around the corner. To her immediate right Rosie saw a door that was cracked open. She walked up to it and saw Mr. Powell sleeping soundly in his bed. Rosie crept back towards the stairs and waved her friends forward. Together they walked down the hall and opened the first door on the left. Inside there was what looked to be various rodents in cages. There were different signs on the cages as well. Some of them read, “Titanium Infused” “Dual Cardio” and “Invisibility”.

~ 36 ~

Oddly, the cage which read invisibility seemingly had nothing in it, but the exercise wheel in it was spinning vigorously. There were other cages that read, “Double Speed” and even one that read “Fire Breath”, which had little patches of burnt sawdust on the floor of the cage. It was true. All of their wildest hypothesized notions of Mr. Powell being a mad scientist. He really did do strange experiments on animals. There really were bizarre things in his labs. Rosie couldn't help it, she pinched herself to make sure this was all real. “Wow, this is incredible,” Rosie gasped.

~ 37 ~

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