Have YOUR say in the story
‘Colin,’ says Dad. ‘Great – ready to be disappeared?’
‘Cosmic,’ says Eric’s dad.
I look out into the audience desperate to make contact with Eric. I can see his specs reflecting the light but I can’t work out if he’s looking at me. I wave at him.
There’s a giggle from the audience.
I wave again.
A slightly louder giggle ripples through the rows of seats and one or two people wave back.
‘Tom,’ says Mum, tapping me on the shoulder. ‘Shhh.’
‘But, Mum...’ She holds her finger over her mouth. I turn and watch Dad and Eric’s dad examine the disappearing cabinet. I’ve got a rising sense of panic, but I can’t think how to deal with this, short of jumping out in front of everyone and shouting.
‘So, Colin, you do know that this disappearing cabinet does actually make you disappear?’
I’m aware of something at the corner of my eye, something moving, but I can’t quite see where it is – when I look around to find it, it vanishes.
‘I’m cool with it,’ says Eric’s Dad, shuffling his feet and grinning. ‘I might get to go on an intergalactic cruise, find the fourth dimension.’
Dad tilts his head. ‘Y – es,’ he says, slowly. ‘You might.’
‘Or,’ says Tilly, putting on her most sickly sweet voice, ‘he might go all the way to Hawaii and end up with a grass skirt and a coconut bra dancing on the sands. I expect that’s where Baby Otter is.’
Dad glares at Tilly, and opens the door to the cabinet.
I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something moving somewhere on the edge of my vision. It keeps catching in the stage lighting and then disappearing.
‘Now,’ what you’ve all been waiting for...’ Dad bellows and slams the door to shut Eric’s dad inside the cabinet.
BOOM! A flash of light blinds me, everyone seems to jump and for a moment, it seems that time stands still. I feel that something’s happening that I can’t make out. It’s like a miniature dream, one that lasts a millisecond. I saw Eric’s dad go inside the cabinet, I’m sure of that, but then, I’m almost sure I see him come out. But it’s foggy and I’m not sure and I’m still shaking my head and trying to make sense of it when Dad steps forward, blinking.
‘Gosh, Ladies and Gentlemen,’ says Dad. ‘That was dramatic! Let’s hope the electrics are all right,’ Dad laughs. No one else does. I shoot a glance at the audience – they all look as if they’re in a state of shock, mouths open, staring at the stage.
‘Can we have another volunteer to examine the box?’
I stare hard at Eric – but it’s Professor Lee who comes up to the stage. I notice he’s not holding the meteorite, although he’s still got the safety goggles on his head. He looks mildly cross, as if this is a terrible waste of his time. He wrenches open the door, and instead of Eric’s dad, a mountain of Brussels sprouts roll onto the floor.
We fetch Grandma from home, and spend the rest of the night looking for Eric’s dad around the village. It’s like when he went off riding Jupiter, but worse, because at least that time we knew where he’d gone.
‘He won’t have gone far,’ says Grandma.
‘He could be on Mars,’ says Eric. ‘Seriously – he could. I bet they don’t sell edamame beans on Mars – he won’t survive without them.’ I think Eric might cry.
‘Shh, now. I think he’ll be in the village somewhere,’ says Grandma, although she doesn’t sound convinced.
The moon’s very bright tonight, and the whole town’s covered in a curious shimmer, like someone’s emptied a pot of fairy dust over it.
I hope it isn’t what I think it is.
‘So, Scaredy Cat Model Village,’ says Jacob, addressing me. ‘Not only did you nearly destroy the planet, but your dad has now started to pick off individual members of the population – people like you shouldn’t be allowed to have powers.’ His flip flop slips off his foot and he stamps it back on again, releasing a sheet of flame that leaps over the duck pond. The singed ducks take off from the steaming mud, squawking.
‘Ow ,’ he says, spitting. ‘I hate that burning thing in my mouth.’
I stare at the empty un-pond and the homeless ducks. I’m glad that something uncomfortable happens to him when he uses his power, but I can’t help wishing that Jacob was two inches tall again. It was nice. Very nice.
‘I don’t think it’s really Mr Perks’ fault,’ says Eric. ‘It’s the plywood isn’t it – it was from the skip at the castle and haven’t you noticed all the other weird things that are happening around the place?’
He’s right. I’ve been trying to ignore it.
‘What d’you mean, weird?’ asks Jacob.
‘Look,’ I say pointing at Tilly’s cockatoo. It’s following us down the street – suspiciously quiet. ‘It’s hard to see at night, but the stupid thing’s turning pink.’
‘And the eggs,’ says Eric. ‘Have you noticed the hen’s eggs under every bench?’
‘And Mr Dawes, in the fish shop. He’s started speaking Italian.’
‘Awesome,’ says Jacob. ‘And you think it’s the dust? Think of the possibilities – I mean, you could...’ he waves his arm for inspiration sending a shower of sparks over Eric’s hair.
‘Steady on,’ says Eric, dousing himself. ‘Anyway – it could be really dangerous.’
‘Did anyone else have the sense that time stopped? In the Town Hall, when your dad clambered into the box?’
Jacob sheds a small flame; Eric drips.
‘So, what are you saying?’ asks Eric.
‘I was worried about your dad going into the disappearing cabinet – because it really does disappear things. But I think someone else stopped him being disappeared.’
‘Lily’s Dad – I think he has a meteorite. I think he stopped time. I think he saved your dad, replaced him with a load of sprouts … but what I don’t understand, is why?’
All the questions from previous chapters are still open to answer as well.