Point of No Return

Point of No Return

by Paul McCusker

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Overview

Fans of the long-running audio series Adventures in Odyssey can hardly remember a time when there wasn't a Connie or a Eugene—or an Imagination Station. But there was. Now step back in time as these exciting novels whisk you away to the days before the popular radio show.

Standing up for what you believe isn’t easy, as the kids in Odyssey discover in these four engaging stories. In Point of No Return, Jimmy Barclay finds that doing the right thing can cost him everything he thinks is most precious. In Dark Passage, Jack Davis and Matt Booker ignore a keep-out sign on the Imagination Station. Suddenly, they’re in pre–Civil War America, where slave traders capture Matt. The story continues in Freedom Run as Matt escapes from the slave traders and is joined by Jack for a thrilling Underground Railroad adventure. In The Stranger’s Message, Mr. Whittaker and the kids at Whit’s End meet a stranger in need and ask themselves, “What would Jesus do?”

Author Paul McCusker has written over 200 episodes of Adventures in Odyssey and been involved from the early days of the show. Set in a time before the radio show, these stories often reference the beginnings of inventions like the Imagination Station, familiar characters like the Barclays coming to town, and other AIO references that fans will enjoy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781589973329
Publisher: Focus Publishing
Publication date: 09/28/2006
Series: Adventures in Odyssey Series
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 702,550
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.88(d)
Age Range: 8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Point of No Return


By Paul McCusker

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Focus on the Family
All right reserved.

ISBN: 1-58997-332-1


Chapter One

Friday Night

JIMMY BARCLAY looked into the deep blue water. It was still. Faintly, he could see his reflection looking back. It didn't look much like him, though. In fact, it could have been a complete stranger ... but it wasn't. That had to be his young face looking up out of the water. The blue, still water.

There was also the scent of pine.

He got on his knees and looked closer at the deep blue water- pondering it. He waited.

This was really stupid, he knew. At his age-a mature and wise 10 years old-he shouldn't be in this situation. He never should've let Tony talk him into it. How many kids of 10 try to smoke their best friend's father's cigar? What made it worse was that Jimmy thought people who smoked cigarettes were Neanderthals. So why did he try the cigar?

He rested his head against the porcelain, sending a tiny shiver through the toilet bowl. The deep blue water rippled. The scent of pine was overwhelming. Mom must have cleaned in here today, he thought. He couldn't imagine when, though. His mother worked part-time as a dental receptionist and was on every committee the church could think up. A new wave of nausea worked its way through Jimmy's stomach, and he prepared himself for it. Again, he stared into the deep bluewater. Again, it was so still.

At that moment, he tried to remember how many puffs he had taken on the cigar before Tony said he was turning green. He couldn't remember. Too many. Way too many.

The wave subsided, and he sat down. He rested his head against the cabinet that housed the sink and prayed for deliverance. He begged his stomach to make up its mind: Either do it or don't do it. Let's stop playing around.

Of course, I wish you wouldn't do it, Jimmy told his stomach.

From his room down the hall, he could hear music. Tony, his best friend, was listening to-singing along with-some CD he had brought over. Jimmy winced. It sounded as if Tony had the volume turned up full blast.

Jimmy wondered how long it would be before Donna, his older sister, would hang up the phone downstairs and yell at him to turn off the music. He thought about hollering for Tony to turn it down but was afraid to. He didn't know what it would do to his stomach or his mother's freshly cleaned bathroom. He leaned over the deep blue water again in case.

Tony screamed along with a song.

How could he be so energetic when Jimmy was sitting on the bathroom floor ready to die? Easy. Tony was good at talking Jimmy into doing stupid things and never doing them himself.

Jimmy grabbed the sides of the bowl, sure that something was about to happen. He held on and waited.

This is so very very very dumb. When will you learn? When will you stop acting like such an idiot? You're a jerk, Jimmy Barclay, and you'd better never let this happen again.

As if to say it agreed, his stomach settled down. It seemed suddenly at peace.

After a moment, Jimmy stood up slowly. His head swayed a little. He dropped the cover over the deep blue water and turned to the door. Everything would be just fine.

He paused at the mirror and looked hard at himself. A little green around the gills maybe-but nothing too terrible. Just Jimmy Barclay looking a little sick. Boy, it's a good thing Mom and Dad are out.

He opened the door, turned out the light, and headed for his room. He didn't notice that the music had stopped. It didn't click in his mind that all was deathly silent. When he entered his room to find Tony sitting quietly on the edge of his bed, he still didn't think much of it....

Until he saw his mom at his CD player and his dad looking over the remains of the cigar.

There are no words to describe the look on their faces, but most kids know it when they see it. Jimmy knew it well. His stomach turned upside down, and he considered running back to the bathroom.

"Get ready for bed, Jimmy," his dad said as he walked out of the room with the cigar. His mom looked at him with an expression of complete disappointment and followed.

And that was it.

Jimmy looked at Tony.

Tony shrugged and said, "I didn't hear them coming. I would have done something if I knew they were coming."

"How could you hear them with the music going full blast?" Jimmy asked. "They probably heard it at the restaurant and came home to investigate."

His dad yelled from the kitchen, "Do you need a lift home, Tony?"

Tony looked at Jimmy. Jimmy shrugged.

Tony shouted back, "Oh, no thanks. I'd better walk."

"Good night, then," Mrs. Barclay called out.

"I guess that means I'm leaving now," Tony said to Jimmy, grabbing his jacket from the foot of the bed.

"I guess so."

"See ya," Tony said as he drifted out of the room. "Call me when you get paroled."

"Thanks, pal."

Tony opened the front door and called out a final farewell to Mr. and Mrs. Barclay before retreating into the crisp Friday night.

Jimmy sighed.

From somewhere on the front lawn, Jimmy could hear an outburst of Tony's laughter.

* * *

George Barclay, Jimmy's dad, was sitting at the kitchen table drinking coffee. Mary, Jimmy's mom, was at the counter pouring herself a cup. Donna also sat at the table with a stricken look on her face. Obviously, his mom and dad had already read her the riot act. Jimmy guessed that they held her partly to blame for what had happened. She had been on the phone when she should have been keeping a closer eye on him.

"You're home early," Jimmy said brightly.

After a moment of silence, his dad spoke. "We're home early because I decided to go see your grandmother tomorrow. I may leave first thing in the morning."

Grandma Barclay was Jimmy's dad's mom. She had been sick over the past couple of weeks, and they were worried it might be a relapse of her cancer. She lived a couple of hundred miles away.

"Oh-you're going by yourself?"

His dad looked darkly at him and said, "Your mother was going to come with me, but it's clear that we can't leave the two of you alone."

Guilt poked at Jimmy's stomach. "I can go with you," he offered.

"No, you can't." His dad looked Jimmy full in the face now. That look was still there. "You're on restriction. For the rest of your life. Maybe longer. And when we get a minute, your mother and I are going to talk about what to do with you. I can't figure which is worse: the fact that you lit matches in your room or the fact that you tried smoking a cigar. Maybe they're equal. And there's Tony coming tonight when we told you before you left that you weren't to have friends in. And that music you were playing at a speaker-blowing volume. Not forgetting to mention the water balloon battle you had in my study last weekend, the fire you started in the garage with the blowtorch the week before, the call we got from the librarian about you and Tony knocking books off the shelves, the fight you had with Kelly next door over that bike, and, and ... Jimmy-"

He stopped as if his anger had tied up his tongue. "Just go to bed," he finally said.

* * *

In his room, Jimmy began unloading his pants pockets. It was something he always did before undressing and going to bed because, if he didn't, his mom might accidentally wash something like coins, a crumpled dollar, some gum he had bought at Town Center Drugs, lint....

So much for the left pocket. He emptied the right. More lint.

He tossed everything onto his dresser, where his eye caught the framed photo of Grandma Barclay. She'd lost a lot of weight since that picture was taken. The cancer did it. It had been eating her alive a few years ago, but everyone prayed for her, and it went into remission. Jimmy wasn't so sure prayer had made her better, but he didn't dare say so out loud.

You wouldn't know how ill Grandma was if you saw only the picture with its soft-focus close-up that made her wrinkles less noticeable, gave a nice shine to her white hair, and accented her bright blue eyes. They were stunning eyes, the kind that made Jimmy feel funny because he suspected they could somehow see much deeper than eyes should be allowed to see.

Grandma Barclay was a very devout woman. As far as anyone knew, she had never missed a day of church in her life. Hers was a deeprooted, practical faith. It was as real and natural to her as breathing. Jimmy's father felt the influence of that faith and tried to instill it in both Jimmy and Donna. Donna liked church. Jimmy thought it was boring. He would've stopped going if his parents didn't make him attend. He once talked to them about letting him stay home, but they wouldn't hear of it. He had to go, and that was that.

Jimmy's parents fussed with him for a while about his lack of faith. They did everything they could to get him interested. But lately it was as if they had given up on him. His mom said that they had decided to stop worrying and let God do the rest.

That was fine with Jimmy, because God seemed to want to leave him alone, too.

Grandma didn't fuss about it at all. When she found out Jimmy didn't like church, she just smiled and said he would enjoy it eventually. He would have to. The call in his life was too strong.

Jimmy didn't know what she meant by that. He wondered but didn't want to risk a lecture by asking. He got off easy, and that's all that mattered.

But sometimes he thought about the call and tried to figure out what a call would sound like. Not that it would make any difference. When Jimmy grew up, he wanted to be a singer in a rock band.

All these thoughts swirled around in his churning mind as he fell asleep. The last thing he would remember was the sound of thousands of fans cheering him as he performed in a huge auditorium.

BANG! THE DOOR TO the hatchway slammed shut. The noise echoed down the dark tunnel and left nothing but a ringing in the ears of Jack Davis and Matt Booker.

"Oh no," Jack said. The tunnel was so dark he couldn't see his friend at all.

Matt scrambled up the ladder-like steps, turned the thick, metal handle, and pushed as hard as he could. The door wouldn't lift. "Well don't just stand there," Matt snapped. "Climb up here and help me."

Jack felt his way up the splintered wooden steps and stopped when he was side by side with Matt at the top. "Quit breathing on me," Jack said.

"You're the one with the bad breath," Matt replied. "Now push!"

With grunts and groans the two boys pressed on the door with every ounce of strength they had. It refused to lift.

"It must've locked when it slammed down," Matt gasped.

"What do we do now?" Jack panted.

If they had been in the afternoon light outside, Jack would've seen Matt scrunch up his nose as he often did when he was thinking. "Scream for help?" Matt finally suggested. He pounded on the door and yelled at the top of his lungs.

"Hold it! Wait! Stop it!" Jack called out to Matt. "Who's going to hear us?"

Matt groaned. Jack was right.

The two 11-year-old boys had been playing catch with a football behind Whit's End, a large soda shop and "discovery emporium" where most of the kids in Odyssey liked to hang out. Jack had gone long for a pass from Matt, but the ball flew over Jack's head and into a patch of woods nearby. While searching for the ball among the fallen leaves and dry branches, Jack stumbled onto a large, metal covering on the ground. It was half covered with leaves. A small sign bolted to the top said to "Keep Out." For the naturally curious Jack and Matt, that meant "Get in if you can." It was an invitation to a new adventure.

Jack had flagged Matt over and turned the latch while both of them yanked at the door. It creaked and opened. A large, black, square hole beckoned them.

"What do you think it is?" Matt had asked.

Jack had shrugged and told Matt to go down and look.

Matt had refused and said Jack should be the first to have a peek since he discovered it.

They had argued back and forth for a few minutes until accusations of "chicken" and "coward" were thrown around. Finally they agreed to go in at the same time, using a rock to prop the door open for light. But no sooner had they reached the bottom of the stairs and faced the yawning, dark tunnel than the rock slipped and the door closed.

"Maybe we should follow the tunnel to see where it leads," Jack suggested.

Matt snorted. "And get lost in some kind of ancient maze under Odyssey? No way."

"Then let's just follow it a little ways in," Jack said irritably. "If it doesn't go anywhere, we'll come back here."

"And then what?" Matt wondered.

"I don't know. I guess we'll just sit on these stairs until we starve to death."

"That's not funny," Matt said as he crept down the stiff, wooden steps to the tunnel floor.

Jack slowly followed him. "Hello?" he called out, not really believing that anyone would call back. He coughed. The air smelled of earth and mildew, like an old basement.

They pressed against the cold, stone wall of the tunnel and inched forward into the blackness. They couldn't even see their hands in front of their faces.

"I heard that a man'll go crazy in a couple of hours in this kind of darkness," Matt said.

"Thanks for the encouragement," Jack growled. "What kind of place is this? An old mine shaft maybe?"

Matt suddenly stopped. Jack walked right into the back of him.

"Hey," Jack complained.

"Watch where you're going," Matt said.

Jack wanted to ask him how he was supposed to watch where he was going, but he decided against it. "Why'd you stop?"

"If this is a mine shaft, there might be big holes," Matt said in a voice full of worry. "I think we'd better go back to the steps."

Jack sighed. "And do what? Eat wooden-step sandwiches until somebody finds us? I think we oughtta-" Jack stopped mid-sentence with a sharp intake of air.

"If it's a snake or a rat, I don't want to know," Matt whispered.

"No," Jack replied. "Look up ahead. It's a little red light."

Matt squinted deep into the wall of black but didn't see anything. The darkness was simply dark. Then the small dot of red light appeared to him as if out of nowhere. "What do you think it is? I mean, you don't think it's anything alive, do you?"

"Huh-uh," Jack answered. But his tone wasn't confident. "Let's check it out."

Matt didn't budge. "You check it out."

"Why do I have to do everything around here? You're in front; you check it out."

"Nope," Matt said. "You saw it first, so you can do the honors."

Jack grumbled his disapproval as he carefully navigated around Matt, keeping his hands on the wall and tapping the ground with the tip of his sneakers to make sure it didn't suddenly open up to a bottomless pit. He listened hard to make sure it wasn't some kind of red-eyed monster waiting to devour lost kids. He moved closer and closer until-

Suddenly the red dot turned green.

"Hey," Jack called out to Matt. "The light turned gr-"

Jack heard a soft click, and the tunnel exploded with white light.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Point of No Return by Paul McCusker Copyright © 2006 by Focus on the Family. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Point of No Return: Four Books in One Volume 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely love adventures in odyssey because of how it relates to the bible and i am an absolute bible geek!(no offense to you people out there who are just like me
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I haavent read this yet but i know it will be good just from the writer. Plus i love advenures in odyssey. I been listening to it for like six years. My fav. Charictor is jimmy!and this book has jimmy in it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Have you ever faced a situation where you time traveled back into the 1800's and were caught as a slave and had to work as a slave? This book about a boy Matt and his friend Jack who time travel was written by PAUL McCUSKER. Dark passage continued as Freedom Run. When Matt and Jack time traveled they got into the pre-civil war in the 1800's. This America {IN THE BOOK THEY DESCRIBE IT AS ODYESSY}. The main characters are Matt and Jack. They are trouble makers as they get into a station which they are not supposed to. After they time travel they meet other people such as Andrew, Clarence and Eveline. After Matt is captured as a slave Jack wants to rescue him. By this he is a helpful person. The plot for Matt and his friend Jack at the start was to go back to the 21st century .But as they start finding the life of slavery Matt makes a promise to Eveline that he will reunite her and her father. After he keeps his promise. My reasons for liking this book is that this is a adventure book and it talks about time travel. I would recommend this book to people who like adventure. The second reason for liking this book is that it has comedy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have just started listening to the adventures in odyssey recordings and I love it. Iam a chtistian and I love the way that they incorporat bible stuff but they make it fun at the same time. I listen to adventures in odyssey every day. When I am not listening to it I am reading books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Will you marry me donna?
AlaskanTebowFan More than 1 year ago
I grew up with the Adventures in Odyssey radio show and still LOVE it to this day! So upon coming across this series of books by Paul McCusker, one of the incredibly talented writers for the show, I was intrigued and had to read. And I'm really glad I did. "Point of No Return" takes the reader back to a time before even the first episode of AIO and gives some great backstory to a number of characters, as well as some characters whom we never meet in the show. My favorite part of the book was the chronicling of Jimmy Barclay's coming to know Christ as his Savior. He was one of my favorite characters on the show, and I loved that this book gave you a glimpse into his past. :) There's a lot more to the book, and I won't give it all away, but just simply say that if you're a fan of the great radio show, Adventures in Odyssey, I can see no reason why you won't love this book too!
hannah97 More than 1 year ago
Point of No Return by Paul McCusker was great and entertaining. A must read for Adventures in Odyssey lovers. Kids will love this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great