This entry is part 7 of 15 in the series The Key to Markree Castle

If you give young boys the option of going to sleep or exploring a castle, what they do might surprise you.

“You ready, Dec?” Lu asked.

“Ready for what?” Dec had no idea what Lu was talking about. Ready for ghosts, ready for soccer, ready to search for yogurt?

“To go downstairs,” Lu said with exaggerated drama, complete with open palms and a bobbly head. He got a little overly theatrical when it got late and he didn’t get enough vanilla yogurt into his system.

“Do you think it’s OK with our parents?” Dec asked.

“We’re not at home, we’re in a castle and we only have a few nights here, I think we should go to the kitchen and see what we can find,” Lu said simply as if they did it every night. The thought of the kitchen sounded good to Dec. “What could possibly go wrong?” Lu added to seal the deal.

“Dan, do you want to come too?” Dec asked his younger brother. But his brother was still pondering what Li had said and was wondering how he knew what he knew or knew that he didn’t know what he knew or was basically trying to figure out what Li said and what it meant–if it meant anything.

“Nah, I’m going to read my book a little bit,” Dan said.

“Don’t forget to brush your teeth,” Dec said to Dan and nudged Lu in the shoulder.

The boys could probably count the number of days, rather than months or years, that they’d actually spent together. But after just a single day, they were gathering a familiarity normally reserved for friends they’d known through soccer, boy scouts or school for years. That tends to happen when you’re in a castle without your parents in rural Ireland and a bartender named Alastar says he needs you to do something like teleport into some secret room where no one has been for who-knows-how long to get no-one-really-seems-to-know what with the danger that someone might disappear. So, yes, it was safe to say that friendships under such circumstances have been known to advance at exponential speeds.

As they opened the door, it was filled with a huge man in a suit. Instinctively Dec closed it quickly but quietly.

“Who was that?” Dec said in a scared hush voice to Lu.

“I don’t know, I didn’t see anything, you’re in my way,” Lu responded in the same hushed tone.

Dec opened the door again quietly and poked his head out and looked in the direction that it seemed the man was going. Lu crawled around Dec’s legs and stuck his head out around the same door frame and looked down the hall. The man was walking in not a very straight line down the hallway, but then suddenly stopped, turned only his head and looked directly at the boys. They froze, but didn’t close the door.

The man looked like he was trying to focus, like he needed his glasses but didn’t have them. He bent down some to get lower and the boys didn’t move a muscle. Zebra can stay as still as a stone in the wild which is handy as some predators don’t have such good eyesight either, but their eyes can detect movement. Dec and Lu weren’t thinking about zebra, but it would have been useful. Lu’s elbow caved in and he fell onto the floor, spilling into the hallway.

“Hey boys!” the stumbling suit man said in a tone that sounded like he knew them.

“Who’s out there?” Dan called from inside the room, but the boys didn’t turn back to answer. Happy suit man started walking towards them.

“You guys must be Rich’s kids, right?” the man asked, his face seemed to be one giant smile. The guy was as happy to see them as Lu would have been to see vanilla yogurt. “Oh man, it’s so cool you guys came to the wedding, isn’t it?” he asked, but didn’t exactly wait for an answer. “Are you boys heading down to the party? The dancing is in full swing.” He just kept talking excitedly as if they were all long-long friends. “Ha, did you hear that, the dancing is in full swing. I just said that and now I got my own joke. That’s so funny,” and he laughed and bent over more towards the boy and his head swayed around and his eyes closed and it looked like he might fall soon.

Dec looked down at Lu and giggled.

“Yeah, we’re heading down to the party,” Lu said to the man and looked at Dec, whose eyes widened with delight and surprise.

“You guys are going where?” Dan called out from the room and Lu pulled Dec out from the slightly open door and closed it quietly without responding.

“Guys,” the man said with all kinds of hand gestures. “Wait for me for just a second, I’ve got to pee. But then I’ll be right back and I’ll take you down to the party. OK?”

“OK,” Dec said and the man gave them a wobbly two full thumbs up with exaggerated enthusiasm and he turned to go back down the hall.

As he did, Dec tapped Lu on the shoulder then pointed the other direction and mouthed the words, “Run!”

Series Navigation<< Ch. 5: I don’t know why I know, but I know that you know.Ch. 7: Going Incognitus >>