What do you call a group of boys who set out to explore the unknown? the Moaning Walls They called themselves the Questors, and they're ready for excitement, adventure and mayhem.
Brothers Mike and Louie, ages ten and thirteen, and their two best friends, Chad and Shane, are curious when they hear about a haunted house in their neighborhood. They decide to investigate, but before they get to the house, they must first overcome many obstacles-such as figuring out how to get around a large, black dog named Mutt that lies in their path. Summoning their courage, the boys manage to reach the haunted house, where jittery nerves and active imaginations keep them on their toes.
In their second adventure, The Moaning Walls, one of the questors is threatened by mysterious sounds coming from the attic. Once again the boys must use their skills to solve the mystery. Aided by one of their teachers, a believer in the supernatural, and Stacey, Shane's eleven-year-old sister,
the boys fib their way into a night in the house alone with the mysterious presence. Will they discover the reason for the sounds-or be frightened out of their wits in the process?
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.68(d)|
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The Questor's AdventuresThe Round House and The Moaning Walls
By Louis Paul DeGrado
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Louis Paul DeGrado
All right reserved.
Chapter OneHOW IT ALL STARTED: Doug's Dare
Doug had the flashlight. It was his turn to tell a story. I would be next. In our room of the double-wide trailer on Twenty-Fifth lane, lights off, were my two brothers, Mike, ten years old, Eric, sixteen, and our friends Doug, also sixteen, Chad, ten, and Shane, same age as me as I had just turned thirteen. We gathered for our Friday night ritual of story-telling.
"The story I'm going to tell you is true," Doug stated.
The air in the room thickened. True stories were always hard to top and drew more attention. I knew I would have to come up with something good if I went next. I started thinking about my opening line, it would have to be thrilling, and then Doug said, "It's about a haunted house by where I live."
"You only live two miles away," Chad blurted out. "That means we have a haunted house in our neighborhood." Chad's observation trumped my thoughts; Doug's story would be hard to top, if it were true.
"Quiet!" Doug scolded. "I have the flashlight. Only I can talk. Maybe this is too scary to tell."
"No, tell it," we pleaded.
"Quiet then," Doug said and looked at each of us before starting. "Louie," he spoke to me, "make sure the door is closed. I don't want to get in trouble for telling you this story."
I stood up and made sure the door was shut tight and returned to my position sitting with my legs crisscross by Shane.
"The shrill sound pierced my dream, rousing me from my sleep," Doug said. The light came up under his chin and lit a face framed with a brown crew-cut that held no trace of a smile. "Glancing at the clock I saw it was midnight, too late for my parents to be up watching television. The screams came again, moving past the cracks in the shutters and through the glass panes, laying an icicle on my spine. Goosebumps dancing on my arms and legs, I eased from by bed and snuck down the stairs to see what had caused such a horrible sound.
"I spotted my mom and dad peering through the living room window. My dad turned away from the window, his eyes revealing a concerned look like he got whenever he and my mother talked about the bills. He spotted me there on the stairs still fidgeting from the cold. I braced myself for a scolding for being up so late, but instead he said, 'Get your shoes on and grab your shotgun.'
"My mother, her face as pale as her white cotton nightgown, did not protest so I ran upstairs and did as I'd been told. I returned to find my father at the front door with his camouflage-hunting jacket pulled over his red flannel pajamas, his shotgun at his side. His large, black and green boots clashed with the red-checkered pattern of his pants."
"'Call the sheriff,' he instructed my mom as he looked at me and nodded. "Let's go." We headed out the door."
"'AHHHH!' A scream came from a house two blocks down and across the road. 'It looks like there's someone in every room turning the lights off and on,' my dad said, switching on his flashlight. "Those people moved out of that house a month ago. No word, just up and left. Something strange is going on here." We headed toward the house.
"'Power going out?' I asked.
"'No.' my dad said, 'Look, the rooms are all lighting up at different times. If the power was going out the lights would go on and off at the same time.' We stood there in the road watching the house. Shivers ran across my arms as the cold continued to sink its teeth into me. The only thing keeping my hair from standing on end was the old hunting cap I had pulled over my head.
"My dad stood stiller than I'd ever seen him stand when the scream came again. 'AHHHHHH!'"
"Dad turned to me and said, 'Maybe just some kids goofing around, but let's be careful. Whatever happens, stick close to me and make sure you don't let that thing go off in my direction.'"
"Wait?" Shane interrupted Doug's story. "Your dad really let you carry your shotgun?"
"Of course, moron," Doug said. "We live clear out here in the county, who knows what could be going on. Might have been a wild dog or animal. He lets me carry it all the time when we're hunting."
"It's bad enough mom won't let us use the car tonight and we got stuck with you guys," Eric said. "Now shut up and let him tell the story."
"Okay," Doug looked around the room. No one said a word. "My dad's the type of person that wants to know what's going on, and help out if he can. He led us down the driveway to the house. It was pitch black except for the flashlight he held and the lights in the house flickering on and off. I heard what sounded like furniture moving from within as we approached.
"Soon as my dad stepped onto the porch, the sounds stopped and the lights went out. He stood and listened. The silence was so loud I could hear my own breathing. My dad moved slowly, quietly, like he does when we go hunting and we're getting ready to make a kill. He loaded shells into his shotgun, passing two back to me. I wasn't scared anymore. I've seen what a shotgun could do. My dad reached forward and knocked on the door.
"'What's going on in there!' he called loudly. The door flew open, but there was nothing there. My dad jumped back, dropping the flashlight to the ground. We were standing side-by-side when a gust of wind blew past us. It was the coldest wind I've ever felt. Colder than any winter wind. I gripped my shotgun sure that something was coming at us. There was an odor, furniture polish and smoke. Not the smoke of a fireplace, but of something rotten burning. The beam of the flashlight rocked back and forth and then came to a rest. My hands were shaking.
"Suddenly, there were flashing lights behind us. I whirled around.
"'Put that gun down!' a loud, deep voice said. It was Sheriff Mike Johnson, with ten, maybe twenty deputies. 'What's going on?' He asked my dad.
Dad didn't say nothing but just stood there. Then he pointed to the house. "'You should've brought more men. Something strange is going on in there.'"
"'Bill,' Sheriff Johnson said removing his black, ten gallon hat with the star in the middle, 'you should know better than to be out here with your boy like this.'
"A stream of tobacco left his mouth in a clean, directed spit. 'Those people living here moved out under some strange circumstances. Right after someone tried to rob their house. Looked mighty scared if you asked me. I don't mind if you tag along, but send your boy home; we'll take care of this.' Two of the deputies went around to the back of the house as the sheriff spoke.
"Dad bent over and picked up the flashlight, looked down at me and back to the sheriff. 'You're on your own, boys.' He put his hand on my shoulder. 'Time to go home Doug. No guns are going to do you any good with what's going on in there, that place is haunted' he called back over his shoulder. Then we went home.
"My mom and I watched through the window until the sheriff left. My dad sat in the front room on the couch staring into space. His look, much worse than the one he has when he's worrying about money. Later he came to my room, I was still awake, and he told me that there was something bad in that house. He told me I was never to go near it again because it was too dangerous. We hadn't been to church for six months or longer, and only went on holidays. Now, we're regulars."
"You could've died?" Chad gasped. "Why did your dad say the guns were not good?"
"You can't shoot what you can't see," Doug replied. "That house has spirits living there."
The room remained quiet as the story sank in. Doug's tale was fine in form and had all the suspense needed to keep us interested. The fact that he stated it was true made it hard to follow. It was my turn next. I didn't worry about going next. I wanted to find out more from Doug.
"Wow, was your gun really loaded?" Chad asked. The runt of the group, he often got more than his fair share when it came time to pick on someone.
"Wouldn't do me no good if it wasn't," Doug crossed his arms and nodded.
"Did the sheriff find anything?" Eric asked.
"I can't believe that happened to you," Shane said.
"You bet it did. The sheriff didn't find nothing. That house is haunted! And anyone who goes inside ..." Doug's eyes shifted around the room.
"Well, I just dare anyone to go."
For a brief moment I looked at Shane and put my finger to my lips. I knew he was thinking the same thing: finally, a real adventure!
"If it's really haunted," Mike said, "how come we haven't heard about it. You know all about that stuff." He looked at me. I shrugged my shoulders. "Where is this house?"
"It's that house at the end of County High Road by the old Miller farm," Doug stated.
"The Roundhouse?" I said.
"The kids at school nicknamed it 'The Roundhouse' because of the arched doorway and round windows. We pass by it when we go to church."
"I guess the name fits. I'm sure the sheriff don't want a bunch of kids going there so they keep it secret" Doug said. "Besides, I'm telling you now, so you did hear about it."
"I heard the owner died there," Eric said.
"I didn't know anything about that," Doug replied. "My dad told me the guy who built the house only lived there two years, and that he was strange. He never talked to anyone and was always in a hurry."
"Was he psycho?" Eric asked.
"My father didn't think so. Just weird. He was from California." We all nodded our heads wisely, as if that alone was sufficient to explain being weird. "No one lives there now."
"That's the same place where that old brick house used to be, the one that burned down," I offered, hoping to gain standing in the conversation.
Eric nodded. "Only a few walls and the fireplace were left standing. We used to ride by it on our bikes and dare each other to go there."
"We did go in," I stated.
"But only in broad daylight."
"Do you think someone died in the fire?" Shane asked.
"Maybe that's why the house is haunted now," Doug said. "Who knows?"
I caught Eric nodding at Doug and suspected a prank was in the works.
"Now the house is empty," Doug said, "but there's no For Sale sign on it." The room was silent.
"It's against the law to sell a haunted house, isn't it?" Eric asked.
"I don't know, but my mom and dad said we are probably going to move soon. Probably because of that house."
I looked at the faces around the room. Mike, closest to the door, had the wary look of someone who'd fallen victim one too many times. His eyes were fixed on Doug and he looked ready to run at a second's notice. Chad sat with his legs crossed and looked to be without a care. Shane's face had that surprised look that it did whenever he was called on during class and didn't know the answer.
Doug spoke up. "No one lives there now, but I stay up sometimes and look out my window. I can see the lights flashing on and off."
"Then the house is haunted," Eric stated. "And it's right down the street from us."
"Let's just say if I'm walking down the street, I'd walk on the opposite side of that house. I dare any of you to go there."
"I'm too young to die."
"Can I borrow your shotgun?"
"I'll be right behind you, pushing you ahead, but behind you." Everyone joked except Mike.
"What if there is a ghost in that house and it follows you back to your house?" Mike asked wide-eyed.
"Louie's next," Shane said. "I bet he can top Doug's story."
"No way," Eric said tugging on Shane's blond hair. "You need a haircut boy. You're starting to look a little girlish."
"Stop it. That's what my dad's always saying."
"Okay, knock it off," I said. "I have the flashlight, no one else can talk."
With all eyes on me I took the flashlight from Doug as we changed places. His story would be hard to beat. As I started my story, I couldn't help but think about the possibility that a haunted house lie so close to us. One that we could actually visit!
"Remember at the end of the year when we went camping, and the campground was closed due to construction?" Several heads nodded. "The signs were fake. I know someone who told me the real truth about why the area was closed." I did my best to compete with Doug, all the while my mind raced with the possibilities ahead of me: to actually visit a real haunted house.
"Hey, you going to tell us the rest?" Eric asked shaking me out of my daze.
"You remember Kyle Halm?" Two heads nodded. "You didn't see him or his brother Andy return for school right?" More heads nodded. "Strange that no one knows anything about them. If they moved, you think they would have told someone. UNLESS," I raised my voice, "the police needed to keep the whole thing a secret.
"Talk to any forest ranger and they'll tell you something's going on in the mountains, the animals are changing. They are getting fed up with the people taking up all the land, and hunting them. The spirit of a deer, fast and evasive, a lion, predator and hunter, and a bear, strong and mighty, have all been unleashed and formed into a new beast. No one who has seen it has lived to tell about it. They only know from the evidence left behind."
"What evidence?" Eric asked.
"SHH! Footprints of all kinds of different animals' side-by-side. Animals that would normally be enemies were seen together," I said.
"Sure enough," I said. "Kyle and his family were at that campground along with a dozen other people. The rangers never found them.
"The signs, well, they were just put up to keep others out. They sent in a tracker, but he never came back. The creature is still loose and some believe it's only a matter of time before it comes out of the mountains looking for revenge. No one knows where it is, or when it will strike again. They called it, Preydator, because it's both prey and predator. OH NO! There it is!" I turned off the flashlight and panic and laughter ensued. Someone opened the door and left the room but I couldn't tell who.
"Good story," Doug said turning on the light. "Was it true? I mean, there were construction signs there just like you said."
"They were just repaving the road. And I think Kyle just goes to a new school. Your story was better, if it's true. Is it?"
Doug, pale as snow turned to me as the others walked out of the room. "My dad told me I was never to go back to that house. Now, we're moving and I don't know why, but I'm sure it's because of that house. I'm not even supposed to talk about it. Something's really wrong. I wouldn't go there. I'd stay far away."
I headed to the hall where Mike and Chad were standing, still not sure if Doug was acting or telling the truth.
"Do you think it's true?" Shane asked.
"Jury's still out," I said. "I'm still catching my breath from the story I told." I proceeded down the hall away from Doug and Eric's ears. "The house does look strange and the look on his face when he talked about it ... we need to investigate."
My mom poked her head around the corner. "You boys keep it down," she muttered before disappearing back into the living room.
"Oh no," Shane said.
"You've got that look."
"It's a warning sign. Your freckles get darker because your skin turns lighter. I think it's because all the blood is rushing to your brain. Next thing I know you're talking me into something that can get me into trouble. Don't smile, it's not funny."
I couldn't help myself. "We haven't been caught doing anything yet, my short friend."
"Hey, I'm taller than Chad."
"And two years older. Besides, one of these days, I'm going to write a story about our adventures and you'll be glad I was around to make your life interesting."
"Sure. But this is a lot different than sneaking out in the summer to light fireworks or walk around on top of the school building. What if this house is really haunted?"
"I can only hope. Look," I stated, "We live miles away from anything remotely exciting. What else do we have to do?"
"Right!" Shane's eyes lit up as the hamster spun faster. "The bragging rights alone would make it popular. Maybe no one else has heard about the house yet." Shane but his hands on my shoulders and looked me in the eyes, "We've got to get there first."
"That's not what I mean," I took a step back. "I just don't want to regret not doing something exciting with my life."
"I see," Shane said. "We've almost made it through the first year of this decade, why would we want to make it to 1981?"
"Oh, we'll make it. The Eighties are going to be the best times of our lives."
We knew we had to visit the Round House. The hammering calls of adventure and curiosity pounded out any semblance of reason.
"Someone's going to hear us," I said as my sister walked down the hallway to her room. "We need a safe place to talk."
"We'll talk about it tomorrow."
"I want to go," Chad said nudging his way into our conversation.
"You guys have to keep this a secret," Shane said. "If my mom find out she'll kill me."
Mike stood in the hallway listening but didn't look at me.
"First we need a plan," I said. "A secret plan and a safe place to meet. We don't want someone else to get there first, and if our parents find out they'll say we can't go."
Eric and Doug came out of my room laughing and went down the hall to the living room.
"Where can we meet?"
Excerpted from The Questor's Adventures by Louis Paul DeGrado Copyright © 2012 by Louis Paul DeGrado. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Contents1. HOW IT ALL STARTED: Doug's Dare....................1
2. BUILDING THE MYTH....................23
3. THIS OLD MAN, HE SCARED ME....................28
5. SAVING HERMAN....................48
6. VISITING A HAUNTED HOUSE....................56
7. FINDING OUR DESTINY....................62