A CURIOUS HOUSE
The worst christmas break ever. That’s what Ethan Moseby was thinking as he looked out of the car window at the bare, rolling countryside. An ancient oak tree stood alone on a hill, its skeletal black branches in stark contrast to the overcast gray sky. His parents were dumping him and his sister somewhere out there in the middle of nowhere. He shook his head and returned to the comforts of his video game.
His younger sister, Jynx, was doing a search on her iPad. “Listen to this—he lives in Deadmoor, Virginia. That’s a creepy-sounding name for a town, don’t ya think? It says he’s a famous artist.”
“His art looks as if it were painted by a baboon.” Their father, Reginald Moseby, checked his hair in the rearview mirror. As always, there was not a blond hair out of place. “Ethan, look at his picture. He looks freaky,” Jynx whispered, holding the tablet so he could see.
A MESSAGE IN THE DARK
There was no explanation for the unusual happenings in the house. The house seemed to listen to them.
When they entered the dining room, Socrates was the only person in the room; a plate of steaming food sat in front of him, and he was licking his fingers. “Oh, just sneaked a little smackeral. Sorry for my rudeness.”
“Excuse me,” Jynx said, “but you have a big blob of yellow paint on your, um, beard.” She pointed her pinky.
Socrates laughed. “Jynx, thanks, but unfortunately, it’s not paint; it’s scrambled egg.”
The room was quiet for a few seconds, and then Jynx couldn’t help but laugh, and Socrates and Ethan joined in.
THE THREE- COOKIE PROBLEM
That evening at dinner, Jynx was excited about her after- noon with Mrs. Gooch and told everyone about changing the carburetor in Socrates’ station wagon. Ethan noticed the bandages on Mrs. Gooch’s arms and saw her grimacing in pain during dinner—she must have had injuries from Jynx’s legendary clumsiness.
Mrs. Gooch said, “Jynx was enthusiastic. A body’s got to learn somehow.”
As the children feasted on steak and french fries, Socrates was happily gobbling up toast with jelly. He would look up from his plate every few minutes and tell a corny joke, laughing harder than anyone.
Ethan didn’t mention meeting Amos because he didn’t want to tell Socrates that the boy had been spying on him. His thoughts were focused on finding the entrance to the maze. He was thinking of a plan for the next day when the grandfather clock in the hall started chiming. In a sleepy daze, he counted ten deep bongs. Ten o’clock? What time had they eaten dinner?
Owen R. Minter was inspired to write The Shrouded Sword, a fantasy story filled with ancient magic and time travel, after creating a drawing based on Arthurian legend. The Shrouded Sword is the first book in the Gramarye Cycle series. When he’s not writing, Owen makes paintings with a leaf blower, reads, and enjoys coaching Special Olympics Athletics.
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