The Secret in the House Next Door

The Secret in the House Next Door

by Linn-Anne London

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781524674861
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 03/06/2017
Pages: 110
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.26(d)

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CHAPTER 1

The Family

"Fisher, it's dinnertime," Mom called from the kitchen.

Fisher was in his room, where he spent a lot of time. Fisher was fourteen, quiet, maybe a bit shy. But he was friendly and definitely a teenage boy.

It was close to six in the evening in mid-August. It was still light out, but thankfully, the back of the house, where Fisher's bedroom window faced, was not shaded.

"Fisher," Mom called out to him again. Fisher quickly got out of his desk chair to run to the kitchen for dinner. As he turned, he glanced out the window and across the yard at the old abandoned house. He stopped suddenly. Had he just seen an old woman in the window? Nah, he decided. Fisher dismissed the thought and continued to the kitchen.

"What's for dinner, Mom?" he asked as he flopped into his chair at the table. Candice, Fisher's mom, picked up the two plates, turned to the table, and quietly answered, "Tonight, young sir, we are having chicken steak with a side of home fries." Candice smiled because she knew it was one of Fisher's favorites.

This was Fisher's favorite time of the day. He and his mom sat together and chatted about the day's crazy events. Many times, they ended up laughing and being silly. This was the one place that Fisher could be silly, and it was totally okay.

Fisher, a small boy for his age, always got great grades at school and was not athletic. So yep, he was a prime target for any bully around. Because of this, he stayed close to a small group of friends.

He may have been a small boy, but this small boy had a massive imagination and was adventurous and mischievous. He was always finding odd things and picking them up. For each one, he created an entire story about how it came to land where it did.

During dinner, the conversation was completely focused on school and what was needed to get Fisher ready. He was going into the eighth grade. Fisher hoped that this was going to be the year that everything was different. That this was the year everything would change.

Fisher and his mom made a list of school supplies, clothes, and tasks that needed to be completed before the first day of school. It was coming fast now, only a week away.

After dinner, Fisher helped his mom clear the table and load the dishes in the dishwasher. Then he asked if he could go back to his room. His mom nodded and thanked him for helping, and Fisher headed back to his room. As he turned to walk in, he glanced again out the window. His eyes quickly went to the window of the house where he thought he had seen the old woman earlier. Nope, no one was there.

Fisher settled back at his desk and began playing on his computer. Fisher loved searching the Internet for interesting facts, facts that no one else would care to know about. After about an hour or so, Fisher's eyes began to grow heavy. He had stayed up way too late the night before. He decided to get ready for bed and read his book before falling asleep.

Fisher changed into his favorite New York Yankees official pajama bottoms. He climbed into bed and decided to skip the book and fall asleep. Fisher reached over and looked at the clock. Ten o'clock already. He rolled over and turned off the light. Fisher drifted quickly to sleep.

Shortly after falling asleep, he began to have dreams filled with running in fields, almost like he was searching for something but did not know what he was looking for. Suddenly, his sleep was disturbed by a loud crash outside. Fisher woke dazed, and he tried to distinguish what he had heard. Quickly, he realized it was right outside his window. He rose from bed and glanced outside.

There was a full moon, which made it easy to see. Nothing appeared to be disturbed. Feeling it must have been in his dream, Fisher began to turn to go back to bed. Then he saw a flash, a flash of light. But where was it coming from? By the time he turned back to the window, the flash of light was gone. Fisher kept looking, feeling disturbed. Was it coming from the house across the road? No, it could not have been that house. It had been empty for years. As a matter of fact, he didn't remember anyone ever living there. After a few minutes, Fisher returned to his bed, closed his eyes, and was fast asleep again.

The morning seemed to come fast, almost as if he had just closed his eyes. Fisher lay in bed for a few minutes before he realized he could smell bacon. And like any teenage boy, that was the only alarm clock he needed.

Fisher climbed out of bed, had a quick stretch, opened his door, and made his way to the kitchen. He was halfway down the hall when he remembered his dream about the noise and the strange flash of light. Although it made him feel uneasy, his immediate thought of that bacon made the uneasiness quickly disappear.

In the kitchen his mother was just placing the last of his bacon on the plate. Fisher loved Saturday morning breakfast — a full lineup of eggs (cooked but runny enough for dipping his toast), bacon (applewood, of course), a side of toast with his mama's not-so-famous-but-it-should-be strawberry jelly, and of course an ice cold glass of fresh milk. Fisher sat down immediately just as his mama brought over the plates of yumminess and sat down to join him.

They talked about what they would do that day. As usual, Mama was going to head out to the grocery store and run some errands. Fisher was going to stay home and, well, do pretty much nothing. But that was everything he wanted to do.

Mama was in a really great mood, so Fisher moved in for the kill. "So, Mama, seems like today is a great day to go over to the pound and get that puppy we've been talking about." Fisher had tried this maneuver several times before and awaited the normal response like, "Way too much to do today, Fisher," or, "Let's try and plan that next weekend," or his favorite, "I am just not sure we have the time to train a dog right now." Fisher knew that as much as he promised to take care of the pup he planned to name Arthur, it would be Mama who did the majority of the work.

Today, however, he got an answer he was not expecting. Mama said, "You know what? Today would be a good day for that. So why don't I go grocery shopping, and when I get back, if you have your room cleaned — and I mean cleaned — we will go to the shelter and see if we can find your Arthur."

Fisher could not believe what he had just heard. He jumped up and said, "I'm on my way to clean my room now."

Mama laughed. "Why don't you finish your breakfast first?" Fisher sat back down and began eating again. After he finished, he picked up his plate, rinsed it off and put it in the dishwasher, and kissed his mama and told her he loved her. Then he went back down the hall and upstairs to his room.

He took a look around. It was not that bad, really. A few clothes on the floor. He needed to make his bed and put a few things away. Fisher's room was clean inside twenty minutes. He stood back, smiled, and said to himself, "Yep, Arthur is coming home today."

Right at that moment, Fisher remembered the flash from the night before and glanced out the window at the house across the street.

What a funny little house it was. Empty for so many years, yet the gardens were beautiful, the lawn was luscious and green, and the outside of the house looked no different from any other house on the street. Fisher wondered why it had never been sold. As a matter of fact, he had never seen it up for sale. Fisher began to wonder more and more about this house.

As he continued to look out the window, he heard his mama pull out of the driveway to run her errands. Fisher decided he would venture across the street and check out the old house while she was gone.

CHAPTER 2

Growing Family

The house was a small Victorian-style home. It was painted white with gray trim and had four massive columns, also painted gray, at the front entryway. A large rose garden was in the center of the front yard. The roses were a colorful mix of white, red, and yellow, and fully in bloom. Large square stones lined the garden. The grass was perfectly dark green and appeared well manicured. All the windows were clean and open, without any curtains in sight. The driveway was cobblestone with a few patches of green where the grass was growing through. On the second story of the house was an oversized porch that wrapped around the house, with doors into every room.

Fisher walked across the street toward the cobblestone driveway. At the end of the driveway stood an old stone mailbox. The mailbox door, although still attached, was hanging loosely. Fisher reached out and put his hand on the small red flag, which was in the upright position. Then he opened the door on the mailbox and was surprised to find a letter inside.

The letter was addressed to Mrs. M. Snow, 1254 Meadow Way, Perkins, MI 52445. The envelope was bright yellow, with no return address and no stamp. Fisher returned the envelope into the mailbox, wondering who Mrs. M. Snow was and what the M. stood for.

As Fisher closed the mailbox door and began walking up the cobblestone driveway, he could hear the crunching of the stones under his feet. Slowly, he arrived in front of the house and looked up at it curiously. He decided he would walk around to the back.

The backyard was not fenced in. When Fisher reached the back of the house, he noticed an old, heavy door between two large windows. A set of steps led Fisher onto the porch, where he walked up to one of the large windows and looked inside.

It was a bright day, and through the window, Fisher could see many things covered in what appeared to be white bedsheets. Everything was covered with thick layers of dust. He could clearly see large cobwebs in corners and doorways, and he stopped to wonder how big those spiders must have been.

Moving over to the other window, Fisher glanced in quickly, seeing the same sheets and more spiderwebs covered in dust. He was just about to turn away when a shiny object caught his eye. He peered a little closer and realized it was an old clock on the mantel that appeared to be shining. How could that clock have avoided so many years of dust?

Fisher made his way back around to the front of the house and walked up to the front door. Examining it, he could see long cracks running straight up and down the door, which was painted white. The handle looked like brass, but was quite worn by the weather and almost black in appearance. Fisher put his ear up to the door and listened for a moment. Then, as if he could not help himself, he put his hand on the doorknob and slowly tried to turn it. He laughed when the doorknob would not turn. After all, what did he expect? That the door would be unlocked and he could just walk in, like in some creepy horror story?

Fisher continued to carefully walk around the house on the porch. A lot of the porch floorboards were either broken or cracking. As he passed each window, he peeked inside. Nothing out of the ordinary: just the same dusty sheets and lots of cobwebs. Continuing around the house, Fisher once again reached the front door of the house.

Standing at the front door, Fisher quietly looked at the magnificent piece of wood that stood before him. A large brass door knocker was oddly placed on the left-hand side, a little above the handle. As he slowly reached for the handle, he noticed his hand was shaking, as though he half expected someone to yell "Boo!" at any moment. Total silence surrounded him, almost like the birds were watching and waiting in suspense as well. When his hand touched the door handle, it felt warm and almost inviting.

Out of nowhere Fisher heard a slam and jumped back. As he turned to run, he noticed it was just his mother slamming the car door. But then he heard words spoken softly behind him.

"Welcome, young adventurer. We have been waiting for you."

Fisher turned quickly back to the door, only to see ... nothing. No one was there. He had heard the words clearly, but it was like he had also somehow felt them. Fisher shook his head, cleared the porch steps with one jump, and headed across the lawn to meet his mother. He was ready to meet someone else, too. Arthur!

Fisher smiled at his mom. After grabbing the last of the grocery bags, he quickly entered the house and headed to the kitchen to help his mother put away the week's groceries. He knew the faster he helped his mom get them put away, the faster they would be off to the pound — and he was ready.

As he was emptying the bags and placing the items on the kitchen counter, Fisher pulled out a container of Old Spice bodywash. He looked at his mom and asked, "Is this for me?"

His mom looked him in the eyes and said, "Yes, sweetie, it is."

Fisher felt tears welling up.

His mama noticed it as well, and asked, "What's wrong? Is it the wrong one? Did you ask for something different?"

Fisher shook his head, and as he opened his mouth to speak, a single tear fell. "No, Mama. Fine, it's just ... just, this is the one that Dad always used."

As he looked at his mama, she sighed, put her tiny hands to her mouth, and cleared her throat. "I know it was, Fisher. I thought you would like it. You always shared with your dad, right?"

Fisher nodded. "You're right, Mama, and it will be great. I am sorry for upsetting you."

Fisher's mama gave him a quick, tight hug. They did not often talk about Fisher's dad, who they had lost tragically almost a year earlier.

Fisher's dad had been a tall man, about six feet two, with a full head of brown hair that always seemed to sit perfectly. He had the greenest of green eyes and had been the heart of the family. He had worked as a medical assistant in a lab downtown, a five-minute drive from their home.

The last time Fisher had talked to his dad, they had argued. Fisher had wanted to get a new game for his computer — a stupid game. Now, looking back, he knew it hadn't been important at all.

It was on a Friday. His dad had been getting ready to leave for work, and running late, when Fisher had asked for that stupid game. His dad had said no, but Fisher didn't stop. He had kept on and on, wanting to get his own way. The argument had made Fisher's dad even later, and he had rushed out without his laptop computer.

After driving all the way to work, Dad had realized that he forgot his laptop, so he had turned around and driven back home to get it. The last thing Fisher had said to his dad, in his childish fit, was that his dad cared more about his job than he did about his son.

As Fisher's dad headed back to work, their lives were changed forever. At the end of their street, a tire blew out just as he was approaching the intersection and Fisher's dad lost control of his car. He was hit twice, once on the passenger side and again on the driver's side. The police said he had died on impact.

It had taken Fisher ten months of therapy to accept his father's death. But he could never take back those last words spoken to his dad, or get rid of his lingering feeling of guilt. That was one conversation that Fisher would have to live with for the rest of his life.

Funny, how the scent of Old Spice could bring so many memories flooding back.

Fisher and his mama continued putting away the groceries in silence. When the last bag was folded and put away, he looked at her and asked, "Are you ready?"

Mama smiled a soft smile and said, "Yep, let's go!"

They locked the front door, got into Mama's little blue Kia, and backed out of the driveway. Fisher smiled at the thought that when they returned, a new family member would be joining them.

Mama did not like to go through the intersection where the accident had happened, so they always went the long way around. Finally they pulled into the shelter parking lot. It was a nice day, and Fisher could see a lot of the animals outside getting exercise.

As they got out of the car, Mama looked at Fisher and asked, "Ready to find your Arthur?"

Fisher gave a big grin and said, "Yes, I know he is here." He was finding it hard to contain his excitement.

When they first entered the shelter, it smelled just like a visit to the veterinarian's office. The place was bustling with prospective pet owners. They were greeted by a volunteer named Charlie. Fisher knew she was a volunteer, because her name tag said, "Volunteer Charlie."

"Good morning," said Charlie, with a smile. "Can I help you add to your family today?"

Fisher smiled and said, "Yes, please. We are here to pick up Arthur."

Charlie looked puzzled. She had not been told that someone was coming to pick up a pet named Arthur.

Fisher's mama interrupted Charlie's thought by explaining. "Well, that is, of course, if we can find your Arthur." Candice glanced at Fisher, and then winked at Charlie.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The Secret in the House Next Door"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Linn-Anne London.
Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
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.

Table of Contents

The Story Behind the Story, ix,
Chapter 1: The Family, 1,
Chapter 2: Growing Family, 11,
Chapter 3: The Adventure Begins, 29,
Chapter 4: Uncovering Secrets, 41,
Chapter 5: Old Friends, 53,
Chapter 6: A Step to the Left, 59,
Chapter 7: Putting the Puzzle Together, 65,
Chapter 8: Whoops! Wrong Way, 71,
Chapter 9: The Planning Process, 77,
Chapter 10: The Perfect Plan Executed, 83,
Author Biography, 99,

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