- Ch. 1: Waking up is hard to do. Unless, of course, there are fries.
- Ch. 2: It might be a game to you, but it’s not to us.
- Ch. 3: Does anything actually happen or do we just talk about it?
- Ch. 4: What could possibly be better than jewels, gold and glittery treasure?
- Ch. 5: The first thing we do, let’s uninvite all of the parents.
- Ch. 6: The long walk to freedom
- Ch. 7: Pieces of the puzzle are coming together. But what’s the puzzle?
- Ch. 8: The unknown versus the known.
- Ch. 9: It doesn’t always make logical sense. Sometimes, you just have to go with it.
- Ch. 10: This is the worst day of my life (again).
- Ch. 11: We are family.
- Ch. 12: Castle Burgers with a side of Bog
- Ch. 13: Upside-down ladders and distant brothers
- Ch. 14: Sibling rivalry isn’t only among 9- and 11-year olds
- Ch. 15: No time for patience
Burgers and documentaries and there would be world happiness.
“So,” Dan started, “What do we have now?”
“Do you mean like, what do we eat now?” Lu asked. “Cuz you all know what I want for lunch.”
“The same you had for breakfast?” Dec said and pushed him.
Lu didn’t speak, but nodded and smiled, then smiled and nodded. He could almost taste the fries in his mouth, fresh out of the hot oil.
Dan put an end to the fry festival and said, “No, dorks, I mean what words do we have now?”
“Oh,” Lu said. “Hey, maybe fries is the fourth word?”
“Do you think of anything else?” Li asked.
“Yogurt,” Lu said and lifted his fist for a fist bump with Dec as if his answer was the most clever thing anyone had ever said. Dec complied and couldn’t help but smile. When someone is so passionate about something, it’s hard to not feel a little of that passion rub off on you and it’s not a bad thing. Well, unless that passion is for homework or lentils or vacuuming.
“I found ‘Proud’ over on the gravestones,” Li chimed in, content that he could contribute.
“I got ‘Droll’ last night in the windows above the dance floor,” Lu said, then added, “And fries. And yogurt.”
Ignoring Lu’s continuing food fascinations, Dan said, “And now I found ‘Curious.'”
“Proud, droll, and curious,” Dec said as if he read them in the air.
“Yeah, those are great, but what do we do with them?” Li asked.
“I think we should tell Alastar what we’ve found,” Dan said.
“Can we trust him?” Dec wondered aloud.
“Who do you want to tell, Dec?” Dan asked. “Killian?”
“Well, no, but, I don’t know,” Dec stumbled on his words. “Maybe Margaret.”
“Who’s Margaret?” Li asked.
“We met her last night, she took us above the dance hall where we saw through the stained glass window,” Dec said. “She was really cool, well, if a little weird.”
“Dude, have you met someone here who’s not a little weird?” Li asked.
Dec raised an eyebrow and frowned his lips as he thought to himself and didn’t answer, which meant that his answer was that they hadn’t really found anyone who wasn’t weird. “Maybe Darcy,” he said.
“Darcy is the best,” Lu said. “She is the queen of the castle. She makes fries appear out of nothing.”
“Why do we have to tell anyone?” Li asked. “Why don’t we just go down under the castle tonight on our own and see what happens?”
“Guys,” Dec said sharply, “I got it,” he paused and the others were quiet. “Forget tonight, let’s just go now. We’re here anyway, we just need to get down there on that floor and now we even know about the letters and the glasses and the rainbow.”
“I don’t see how to get down there,” Lu said, looking around. “What if we just got back the way we came and then we’re in the gardens and then we can go to lunch.”
“You think about lunch more than I do,” Dec said.
“No way,” Dan said. “That’s all you think about. At least Lu thinks about two different foods: fries and yogurt. You only think about burgers.”
Dec’s face snarled up and he was about to unleash a fireball of insults, but when he thought about what Dan said, he thought to himself and then admitted, “Yeah, you’re right.” He nodded and gave in. “Maybe’s Lu is right, maybe we should go back up and go to lunch.”
“Dudes, will you guys stop talking about food? You’re making me hungry,” Li raised his voice. “Besides, how do you plan to get back up where we fell down back there anyway?”
“You know what I think it was,” Dan started. “The stuff we fell on.”
“Clouds,” Dec said.
“No,” Dan looked at Dec as if he just spoke Greek. “I think it was a bog.”
“A bag?” Li asked. “A bag of what?”
“He said ‘dog,'” Lu chirped in, shaking his head at how deaf his brother was. “But I don’t really get how we landed on a dog, either.”
“No, a bog,” Dan explained. “It’s like a marsh, but softer,” he wasn’t going to stop here. “I read about this guy who was skydiving and his parachute didn’t open and he landed in a bog and he survived. That’s a bog. It’s like a bunch of soft grass.”
“That was totally it,” Li said, becoming more and more a fan of Dan. “Do you watch all of those BBC documentaries on the planet or something?”
“Yeah, I like that stuff,” Dan said, proud that someone was recognizing his knowledge.
“OK, fine, it’s a bog,” Lu whined. “Can we climb back up it, Mr. Bog Scientist?”
“Dude, you don’t have to be rude,” Li said and went over to Lu and stood smack in front of him. “Are you making fun of my bro Dan? You want to take this outside? You want a piece of me?” Li taunted and bounced and twisted his head as he tried to get as close to Lu’s face as possible without actually kissing his brother.
As Lu backed up to get away from the stench of his brother’s eggs and beans breath, there was a creak on the floor. Lu looked down.
“Hey, it’s a door,” he said.
“Like a trap door,” Dec said. “Cool. Let’s go.”
“Hold your horses, Tonto,” Li said. “How do you know where it goes?”
“I think it goes down, Lone Ranger,” Lu said, then added, “Duuuuuhhhhhh,” combined with googley-eyes which was translated immediately by Li as a direct insult, resulting in clear justification for a smack down.
Li expertly put his foot behind the back Lu’s foot and then pushed him backwards. Because Li had his foot behind Lu’s foot, Lu’s body also turned and he started falling on his face. Lu fell down onto the trap door and it sprang open. The top half of Lu’s body bent like a licorice rope and was about to completely jackknife and go down when Li jumped onto Lu’s legs to stop them. Lu screamed out of pure fear.
Dec jumped onto Lu’s legs as well and Dan jumped onto Li. Lu’s upper body was swinging like a pendulum, but his screaming stopped when he realized he wasn’t going to fall.
“See, little brother,” Li said, catching his breath, “I told you that I would save you.”
Hanging above a space that was higher than he would like to fall, he still managed to come back with a quick reply, “That’s like you shoot me and then give me a bandage for the blood.”
“I’m just going to let him go,” Li said, starting to get up.
“No,” Dec screamed.
“He won’t let go,” Lu said. “He loves me, remember?”
“Oh yeah,” Li said. “I forgot. I guess I should save him,” and with that he started pulling Lu up from the back of his pants. While pulling on his jeans, he realized he was actually pulling his pants off and Lu’s underwear and booty were starting to shine through.
“You’re pulling off my pants!” Lu screamed, more concerned about this ordeal than falling into the next room.
“Sorry, bro,” Li said, giggling and pointing with his other hand at Lu’s booty to make sure Dec and Dan saw everything the needed to see. “Hey, what do you see down there, anyway?”
“It’s just a room,” Lu said. “Oh wait,” he said as he swang back and forth.
“Oh wait, what?” Dan asked.
“When I swing one way, there’s light that shines down, then when I swing the other way, it goes away.”
“Kinda like Dan’s glasses,” Dec said. “Hey, I see it. See how the light is coming in here?” He pointed to where the light was coming from. “Then it goes through here where Dan was, but it also goes here where Lu is hanging.”
“Guys, do you think we could talk about this after you pull me up?” Lu asked patiently.
“Lu, you’re doing field research, stay down there,” Li said. “Swing some more, what do you see?” Li said and smiled at his buddies.
“I wonder what would happen if we put the light through Dan’s glasses,” Lu said while still upside down. “Ooh, I see something else you guys are going to like, too,” he added.
“I’ll put my glasses over the trap door where the light is coming through,” Dan said and did it. “Now what do you see?”
“Oh man, it’s like those disco balls from the olden days,” Lu said. “Cool!”
“But what do you see?” Dan asked.
“I think it’s the same letters that you already found, Dan,” Lu said. “Wait, I just thought of something.”
“What?” Li asked.
“Could you pull me up to tell you?” Lu asked.
The boys pulled on his jeans and then his shirt and arms and had him up in a flash.
“Maybe it’s the moonlight through Dan’s glasses,” Lu said. “It’ll be like the sunlight like right now, but maybe with the moon at that certain time they were talking about, we’ll see some other letters or something else or I don’t know what. Maybe that’s the key or that will open the door or spell something we need or,” he was running out of steam.
“Maybe we need to leave this trap door open,” Dec said.
“Maybe Alastar and Killian don’t know about the trap door and the light will come through there and then it’ll all work,” Li added.
“What will all work?” Li asked.
“I don’t know, whatever is supposed to work,” Lu said.
“I know what will work perfectly,” Dec said with complete confidence, but wanted to wait for them to ask him to say it. He liked to build up the drama.
“What?” Dan asked and waited patiently for his brother to solve the riddle of the castle with a single word.
“A burger,” Dec said and nodded in very Lu-like fashion and Lu nodded back and held out a fist and they fist bumped and high-fived as if they solved world hunger, which they kind of did, at least on a small scale.