About the Book...
When Andy landed back home, little did he realize the hunt Abaddon would initiate to capture and punish him for thwarting his plans for eternal life for yet a third time. Meanwhile, when Methuselah unexpectedly extends in Mom's hand while in Texas, something it has never done for him, it triggers more revelations about her past.
After a frustrating and, at times, terrifying year, Andy returns to Oomaldee and joins Hans' quest to locate the only surviving heir to the throne of Cromlech. In the process, Andy and company discover the Giant's Ring, the center of Cromlech's healing powers, has been destroyed by Abaddon's evil sorcerer. The situation grows dire when Andy finds that the phoenix who rose from that land millennia before has returned to be reborn and the evil mage has trapped her inside the decimated Ring. Without the freedom to collect the materials she needs to build a pyre, she will die. Andy knows failure is not an option for he needs a feather from this phoenix as the next ingredient to break the curse. Will Andy and his friends free the phoenix in time? Will they be able to fix the Ring and restore Cromlech's healing powers? Will Andy collect a phoenix feather?
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Watch L. R. W. Lee discuss Resurrection of the Phoenix’s Grace on Book Nerd Paradise on YouTube at bit.ly/1DsOOfi
- Erik Weibel, This Kid Reviews Books (Erik is 14)
Erik awarded the book 5 Bookworms!
"L. R. W. Lee's best book of the Andy Smithson series to date!"
- Richard Weatherly, Author
Other Books in the Series...
Meet the Author - Linda Lee
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Excerpt... Chapter One
Hungry flames danced on tippy toes, their prize just beyond the reach of their tongues. Andy twisted his marshmallow a quarter turn, watching it complete its transformation to the perfect poufy shade of tan. Memories of toasting the sweet treats with Alden around a campfire while searching for the dragon lair brought a smile to his face.
“You’re quiet tonight,” Mom observed.
Andy rotated his marshmallow another quarter turn. The balmy heat of the day had given way to a cooler Friday evening, and Dad had insisted they grill outside tonight. Burgers and corn on the cob had coaxed Madison from her book boyfriend, but with dinner complete, her complaints of mosquitoes allowed her to fall back into the arms of her imaginary love. The discordant sounds of Dad vigorously scrubbing the grill on the deck blended with the choir of crickets and bullfrogs.
“Are you excited to be going to Grandpa Smithson’s tomorrow?”
Another quarter turn.
“Looks like your masterpiece is ready.”
Andy took two graham crackers and four squares of a chocolate bar and coaxed the oozing glob of roasted perfection off the skewer, then bit into his gooey creation. Despite the tastiness of the treat, he sighed.
“What’s wrong, honey?”
“I’d hoped to hear something by now.”
“Give them time. It’s only been two weeks since you got back. If they send any messages while you’re gone, we’ll let you know.”
Andy forced a smile as he felt his stomach clench.
The night Andy left Oomaldee, Abaddon had been more furious than ever before. His booming threat to kill the one who wielded Methuselah had
reverberated off the walls of the dungeon tunnel, forcing Andy to cover his ears. It was true. Thanks to his blade, Andy had thrice thwarted the dragon’s ambition of gaining eternal life.
“I’m worried Abaddon will hurt Father and the others.” Andy’s shoulders slumped as he exhaled. The nightmare scenarios that had filled his dreams taunted his calm.
Mom reached over and patted his arm. “I know this sounds trite, but things will work themselves out. They always do.”
Andy stared into the dying flames for several minutes before breaking the silence. “Mom, can I ask you something?”
“Sure. What is it?”
“What happened with Methuselah? Why did its blade extend for you when it won’t for me, at least not here?”
Mom considered the question for a moment. At last she speculated, “I think it might have been a message to remind me that even though I’ve been in this world for nearly five hundred years, I’m still queen of Oomaldee. Perhaps my work is not yet done.”
Queen? Oh yeah, I guess she is.
“What do you mean, your work’s not done?”
Mom did not elaborate, so Andy redirected, “If I break the curse…”
Mom held up her hand and shook her head. “Not if, Andy, when.”
“But you’ll die!”
Mom glanced quickly at Dad who continued his quest to restore the grill to pristine condition. She reached over and pulled Andy’s face toward her, and in little more than a whisper said, “Andy, I’ve lived over five hundred years. I’ve experienced more than the average person. I treasure the time I’ve had. But it is enough.”
“That’s what the King said too.”
Dad approached. “What did the King say?”
Mom cautioned with a look and Andy mumbled, “Oh, nothing.”
Dad raised his eyebrows but chose to let it go. “Well then, what say we head inside before the mosquitoes tell their friends there’s an all-you-can-eat buffet.”
Seven weeks later…
Since Grandpa had retrieved Andy and Madison from the Phoenix airport, the old man had kept them busy at his ranch—inspecting fences on horseback with his three ranch hands, allowing Andy to drive the tractors by himself, corralling cattle, and helping fill the water troughs out in the pastures. While Andy had participated in similar activities on previous visits, the stench of nearly two hundred cattle still proved overwhelming.
I should bottle this and take it back to Oomaldee, he laughed to himself.
For her part, Madison-the-House-Pet made a beeline inside every chance she got. But at least she made herself useful in the kitchen. Grandma Smithson had been an amazing baker and had passed on her skills to her granddaughter. The elder woman had passed away four years ago, and Grandpa kept exclaiming at the tantalizing smells his granddaughter masterfully coaxed throughout the house.
Two weeks earlier, as a special treat, Grandpa had taken them to a shooting range to teach them how to handle a rifle. Andy managed to hit the outer ring of the paper target several times, celebrating with a dance that Grandpa and his sister agreed resembled the flopping of a boneless chicken. Madison, on the other hand, completely missed the targets and came away complaining of a sore shoulder from the gun’s kickback. She had sulked back to Grandpa’s pickup after two rounds to resume an adventure with another of her book boyfriends.
Despite his tiredness, Andy lay in bed staring at the ceiling. Growing worry over hearing nothing from Oomaldee gusted through his mind yet again, stirring up another tornado of undesirable possibilities. Exhaustion must have finally won, however, for Andy found himself in the lobby of a large office building, a destination he recognized from previous nighttime excursions. As before, it was eerily quiet despite the number of silvery, translucent beings coming and going. An older gentleman dressed in a military-style uniform with translucent sword floated by and stopped at the imposing front desk. A gaunt man wearing a lustrous grayish-white attendant’s uniform greeted him. “H-how can I help you, sir?” the spirit stuttered, eyes wide.
“I’m Viceroy Nabulion. I have an appointment with the Committee on Afterlife Affairs. Felius Dudge should be expecting me.”
“V-very w-well, sir. P-please have a s-seat over th-there while I c-contact his office.” The attendant motioned toward a bench not far off.
In no time, a slight woman in a silvery tailored dress approached, introduced herself, and escorted the general to an elevator. Andy followed unseen.
“Hold on to the railing, please,” the uniformed operator bid in a sing-song tone as Andy stepped on.
The elevator rattled to the second floor and stopped to admit another silvery being. After the occupants had rearranged themselves, the doors closed and the car rose one more floor. A jolt and protesting doors announced they had reached their destination. The woman stepped forward and instructed, “Follow me, Viceroy.”
Andy followed down a long dark hallway, stopping outside a tall wooden door. The escort rang a bell and led them into a large wood-paneled conference room where a dozen or more spirits sat around a hulking table that dominated the center of the space.
Conversation ceased and a pudgy being at the head of the table turned. “Viceroy Nabulion, I presume? I’m Felius Dudge, Chairman.”
The officer nodded, then glancing around added, “Thank you for seeing me.”
“Please, have a seat,” Chairman Dudge offered, directing the newcomer to a row of chairs lining the front wall of the room. Andy took a seat next to the viceroy as Felius stood and floated to the podium. “I would like to call this meeting to order,” he began. “We are here to discuss the viceroy's request for a Stone of Athanasia. Such a request has been granted only once before as part of a beta test—,”
Murmurs rose from those assembled and the chairman waved a hand, adding, “I know it’s a highly unusual request, but let’s at least hear him out.”
“Sir,” the chairman invited.
Viceroy Nabulion rose and floated to the podium. He slowly scanned the attendees and the room grew quiet. Several spirits shifted in their seats. “Thank you for this opportunity to come before you on behalf of my son, Naparte Nabulion.”
“Excuse me, Viceroy, but why is your son not here representing himself?” one of the committee members interrupted.
“He would have liked to, sir, but he has not yet joined the Afterlife.”
Andy had been surveying the room, but the comment grabbed his attention. A chorus of murmurs filled the space.
Who is this guy?
The viceroy raised his hands for silence and continued, “My son has lived for over five hundred years but is not yet ready to join us. He has,” the officer cleared his throat, “several matters to attend to before then.”
“Didn’t we all?” objected another committee member.
More rumblings echoed before Dudge rose and boomed, “Silence! We told this man he could present his case.”
“Fine…” someone grumbled. Several others murmured but finally yielded the floor back to their guest.
“My son is the ruler of the kingdom of Hadession.”
Abaddon?! He wants a stone of Athanasia? No!
“I heard the ruler of Hadession is a shape shifter. How can he be your son?” another spirit heckled.
“He is,” the man asserted. “How he became one is a long story.”
“You’re asking for a stone of Athanasia. What’s he need it for? He should already have eternal life,” another spirit chimed in.
Several more committee members lobbed accusations, and Andy could taste blood in the water as the sharks circled for the kill.
But in little more than a whisper, Viceroy Nabulion defended, “It’s a matter of honor.”
The room instantly quieted.
“Excuse me, but did you say you’re making this request as a matter of your son’s honor?” Dudge questioned.
Nabulion nodded as he locked eyes with the chairman.
“I was a citizen of Oomaldee and proudly served King Gerrard I. I advanced in rank to major, which entitled my son to attend the prestigious military school. But despite his exemplary grades, particularly in math and battle strategy, the boys whose fathers outranked me bullied him and treated him as something loathsome. I will not go into the details of their abuse, but you will understand when I say their behavior changed him.”
Several spirits around the table nodded.
Uh-oh, Andy thought.
The officer continued, “His teachers, while aware of the brutality, did nothing to address the situation. Rather, they made it clear he needed to become tougher, saying battle did not differentiate except to root out the weak. My son’s hatred grew and revenge became his motivator.”
Andy glanced around the table. Every committee member sat entranced under the man’s spell.
“Thanks to the heir to Oomaldee’s throne, my son no longer has the ability to shift to a younger form. His plans for exacting retribution are not yet fulfilled, and he grows weak. As spirits of men and women who lived lives of honor, I ask you to grant my request so he can reclaim his dignity. Thank you.”
Viceroy Nabulion turned, glided back to his chair, and sat down.
Andy shot up to object. You don’t know what Abaddon will do to Oomaldee if you give him what he wants! You can’t! His challenge went unheard. Andy bolted to Dudge, but his hands met no resistance as he made to grab the chairman who now reclaimed the podium. Argh!
“Thank you, viceroy. If you would kindly adjourn to the anteroom, we will discuss your request.”
Andy jiggled his legs as he listened to much heated debate between committee members. At length they called the viceroy back.
Felius Dudge resumed the podium and pronounced, “While we fully support your son’s quest to regain his honor, we agree that granting a stone of Athanasia to a member of the Living would establish a precedent we are unprepared to defend going forward. Imagine all the requests…”
“And the chaos…” chimed in another.
Andy heard grumblings and mutterings from others around the table as his dream faded.
The next morning, Andy sat on a hay bale looking out over Grandpa Smithson’s ranch through the open doors of the hayloft and wishing for a breeze. It was still early and the heat seemed content to keep his skin moist. It would wait until afternoon to extract rivers of sweat. He watched one of the herds that looked like chocolate-covered ants from this distance as he tried to make sense of the previous night’s dream. While he was thankful the committee had declined Abaddon’s request, he could not yet deduce the repercussions.
Andy’s thoughts returned to Oomaldee and his frustration at the lack of communication grew. Not one word. Each time Andy probed the subject with Mom, she assured him no mail from Mermin or anyone else in Oomaldee had arrived. His stomach rolled.
“Grandpa says you need to hurry up. We’re leaving in ten minutes!” Madison screeched from below. Her tone resonated like one of the crows that pestered the cattle.
A half hour later Grandpa sent up dust clouds as he navigated his well-worn, white pickup across the washboard of a field. He pulled to a stop in an unmarked space between a battered farm truck and a shiny Toyota Corolla. Mushrooms of brilliant color exploded across the expanse—red and green, blue and yellow, orange, purple, and more. Crowds jammed the area behind the ropes to take in the sight. A chorus of pughh, pughh sang from burners attached to wicker baskets as pilots levitated their hot air balloons upright.
“Ooh!” Madison squealed. “They’re so pretty!”
Andy rolled his eyes. Amazing, cool, awesome…not pretty.
Grandpa led them to a uniformed attendant and showed the man three tickets. “Pegasus? That balloon is nine rows up and over three. That way.” The attendant pointed and Grandpa nodded.
They made their way between standard multicolored balloons as well as more unusual ones—an inflating saguaro cactus, a blue octopus with legs jutting out above the basket, a giant lightbulb, a flying penguin, and a pair of bumblebees—finally reaching a half-inflated purple Pegasus with wings exploding from the envelope. It reminded Andy of Optimistic.
“This must be us,” Grandpa deduced.
“Hello, I’m Thomas Bitmire,” announced a younger-looking man as he approached and extended a hand. “And this is my wife Julie. She’ll be driving the chase vehicle to pick us up if the wind doesn’t work in our favor.”
“I’m James Smithson, and this is my granddaughter Madison and my grandson Andy.”
“Glad to meet you. You can call me Mr. B.”
The pilot checked the progress of the balloon’s inflation, remarking, “Great conditions this morning, no measurable ground winds. When it’s windy it’s easy for the burner to singe the envelope.”
Once Pegasus was standing nearly upright, Mr. B. waved them toward the basket. “Let’s get you in to weigh her down before she’s completely inflated and decides to lift off without us.”
Andy shared a grin with Madison and Grandpa as the man steadied their climb into the cramped basket. They wedged themselves between three propane tanks occupying the corners. Mr. B. joined them and jettisoned two of the four ropes holding them in place.
“Just waiting for the signal from the officials,” their pilot explained. “They want us all to lift off at the same time. More spectacular that way.” He winked at Madison.
A shot rang out in the distance and Mr. B. tossed his rope to the ground. “That’s our cue! Unhook that rope and throw it over the side, Andy.”
Pegasus began rising in unison with its neighbors, floating between a banana-shaped balloon and one checkered red and orange.
“There’s no wind!” Andy realized.
“That’s right. You don’t feel the wind because we’re traveling with it.”
“Awesome!” Andy couldn’t rein in the smile that radiated across his face.
“Let’s see how well we can steer you this morning, my dear,” Mr. B. announced to their ride. He reached up and fired the fuel jets, receiving a pughh, pughh reply from the burner. The balloon cleared its neighbors and Andy couldn’t hold back, “Woot!”
“That’s my girl,” the pilot encouraged the dirigible.
They left the congested skies of the balloon festival and now drifted over open countryside.
“It’s so peaceful,” Madison remarked.
“That it is,” agreed Mr. B.
“How do you steer it?” Andy queried.
“Watch and learn,” Mr. B. replied, smiling.
Pegasus drifted higher and shifted in a new direction.
“Cool!” Andy announced, receiving a smile from Grandpa.
“Wind currents. Winds are layered. Each layer blows in a different direction. I love flights when there are lots of layers. If I want to go toward that rock outcropping this morning,” Mr. B pointed at a pair of rust-colored boulders jutting up from the bare soil, “looks like I need to position us a bit lower.”
Their pilot pulled on a rope hanging from inside the envelope and released some air. Pegasus complied and drifted downward until they reached the wind current Mr. B had mentioned. Their pilot brought the craft so close to the summit Andy felt like he could reach out and touch it.
“Let’s see what going higher yields us in maneuverability, shall we?”
“Excellent!” replied Andy.
They glided over ranches. Grandpa and Madison gazed at the ground far below, clearly delighted. In the stillness, Andy could hear moos emanating from a herd of cattle directly below.
“This is absolutely beautiful!” Madison declared several minutes later.
“Now you know why I love flying Pegasus. I’ve never forgotten my first flight. I promised myself I’d fly again, and it’s become an obsession.”
“I can see why,” Grandpa agreed.
Nearly two hours into their flight, Mr. B asked, “I’d normally head back about now, but the wind currents are amazing today. Do you mind staying up awhile longer?”
Andy, Madison, and Grandpa grinned, and Mr. B. chuckled, “Looks like I need to do some heavy arm-twisting.”
Several minutes later, Andy spotted a black-feathered bird off in the distance and announced, “A crow!”
Everyone looked, but Mr. B. shook his head. “That’s not a crow, it’s a vulture—crows don’t fly this high. Vultures have amazing eyesight. It’s probably hunting for breakfast.”
Andy examined the bird more closely as they drew near. Still a ways off, he realized, That vulture’s enormous. It’s definitely bigger than… Andy gasped as he locked eyes with the zolt.
“You okay, Andy?” Grandpa asked.
Andy shook his head and dove for the floor, receiving curious looks from his companions.
“What’s the matter? Afraid of a bird?” Madison joked. “Well, you don’t need to worry, it’s leaving.”
Andy regained his footing, peered over the basket lip, and watched the bird grow smaller. It’s going for reinforcements!
“I’d like to head back now, please,” Andy requested.
Mr. B and Grandpa threw quizzical glances and Madison shook her head scowling, hands on her hips.
“You’re scared of a vulture?” she whined.
Andy refrained from response.
Mr. B raised an eyebrow toward Grandpa. The old man didn’t respond, so the pilot concluded, “Very well. Let me contact my wife and have her bring the truck.” He picked up his radio handle and hailed.
Several minutes later and close to the ground near their liftoff point, Andy scanned the skies and jiggled his leg.
“What’s wrong with you?” Madison probed impatiently.
Andy ignored her, continuing to study the surroundings.
“Okay, bend your knees and prepare for impact,” Mr. B. instructed.
Andy gripped the lip of the basket, watching the ground approach. Just before touchdown, he chanced another look to the skies and saw a flock of vultures quickly approaching.
He barely heard the pilot say, “Don’t jump out until the envelope is completely down or the basket will bounce and drag us.”
Come on, hurry up! Andy’s thoughts raced. The festival grounds lay a ways off. He quickly scanned for something to use as a weapon or for a place to hide Grandpa and the others. Nothing.
“Watch your step,” Mr. B. finally announced.
“Take cover!” Andy yelled. He flew out of the basket and bolted across the grassy field as a dozen zolt transformed. If I can just distract the zolt, they’ll be safe.
Andy ran as fast as his legs would carry him. The distance had not seemed that far from the balloon, but as he raced, his lungs started to burn and a stitch stabbed his side. Barreling back onto the festival grounds, he heard a woman scream. The crowd hushed and all eyes turned toward the spectacle.
The enemy took off after Andy at top speed, which thankfully amounted to not more than a fast waddle. Minutes later, Andy chanced a peek over his shoulder
and saw he had out distanced them. But as he turned back he barreled straight into a uniformed officer, leveling both of them. Andy hit the ground, sprawling face-first, then scrambled up. But the officer grabbed his ankle and held him tight.
“What’s the hurry, son?”
“Let me go!” Andy protested, kicking the official’s hand, then looked up. His eyes grew wide.
The officer followed Andy’s gaze and instantly understood. The zolt were thirty yards away and closing quickly, swords poised.
The officer bolted upright, grabbed the radio handle from his shoulder, and called for backup, then drew his gun, assuming a ready stance.
Andy did not pause to listen as the officer called after him. He darted into the crowd, hoping to lose his pursuers. He headed for the concession stands and only stopped when the fully mature stitch screamed from his side. Pausing next to a silver trailer selling funnel cakes, he scanned the skies. Good, no reinforcements yet. He pulled his cell phone from his pocket and autodialed Madison.
“Where are you? What are you doing?” his sister barked.
Andy spotted three zolt circling.
“I’ll meet you at Grandpa’s truck!”
He hung up and ducked under the awning. He ignored Madison’s ringtone when it sounded from his pocket as he picked his way among a bevy of concession trailers and oblivious spectators. Rushing into a tent congested with celebrating balloon crews, he didn’t pause when an imposing official approached, informing, “I’ll need to see some identification, son.” Andy raced around the uniformed hippo, bounding through the makeshift kitchen and toppling several cooks who yelled insults at him from their food-covered seats on the ground. He braked long enough to scan the skies once more before bolting for a grove of shade trees standing watch over the endless sea of parked cars.
No cover in the parking lot. Grabbing his phone he hit Madison’s number once more.
“What?” Madison fumed.
Breathing heavily, Andy yelled over his sister’s protests, “Have Grandpa meet me by the shade trees at the front of the parking lot!”
“Tell him! Now!” Through the web of branches and leaves, Andy spotted a zolt swooping lower, headed toward him.
“I’ll explain everything! Tell Grandpa!” Andy ended his SOS and scrambled up the lowest branches, trying to make himself invisible. He watched, frozen, as his enemy swept the topmost branches before alighting directly above him. Please don’t see me. Please don’t see me.
Andy dared not fidget. He tried to silence his heavy breathing as his ears tuned in to every creak of the branches and scuffle of the leaves. It felt like an eternity, but the enemy finally lifted off, allowing Andy to exhale.
Several minutes passed before Grandpa’s white pickup slowly navigated the ruts. He dropped to the ground and scanned the skies. Clear for now. As soon as Grandpa stopped, Andy bolted for the passenger side, ripping the handle of the partially opened door from Madison’s hand. He bounded inside and slammed it shut.
“Ouch! Get off me!” Madison yipped.
“Go, Grandpa!” Andy commanded, ducking down.
“Mind explaining yourself?”
“I will once we’re on the road,” Andy replied from the floor.
Grandpa raised an eyebrow and shook his head, but put the truck in drive.
Headed for the ranch, Andy chanced a glance out the front window as he moved to the middle of the bench seat. Good, nothing airborne.
“Well?” Grandpa questioned.
Andy did his best to construct a believable narrative, leaving out the not-so-tiny detail about his pursuers being from another world.
In the end, Grandpa concluded, “I’m not going to pretend I fully understand your story, but I will say this, I think you overreacted. The authorities had things well in hand. You didn’t stick around long enough to see them apprehend that gang. And I’m glad they did. They looked vicious…evil even. The TV crews had a field day. I’ll bet there’s a story on the evening news.”
Andy did not respond. His mind was elsewhere, pondering the question that had been running laps around his brain since he first spotted the zolt: How did they find me?
Four fifty-five and Grandpa nested himself in his well-worn lounger. Five minutes later and the opening notes of the Phoenix local news heralded this evening’s edition of thrills, chills, and ills.
The anchor began, “Back in the fall, residents of a north side apartment complex found mold in their walls…”
Must have been a slow news day, Andy thought.
A story about an underperforming elementary school followed before the anchorman announced, “Maricopa County Sheriff’s deputies apprehended twelve illegal aliens at the Phoenix Hot Air Balloon Festival this morning. Our own Tim Bower was on the scene as events unfolded and is here to bring us the latest.”
The scene shifted to an older gentleman in a blue plaid shirt standing in front of a mostly empty field that earlier had been populated with all manner of colorful dirigibles. The reporter began his story, quickly shoving the mic in front of Mr. Bitmire and asking his opinion of the strange and unexplained behavior of one of his young passengers.
Andy squirmed as he saw footage of himself dashing toward the food trucks. Thankfully they only captured his back. As the reporter continued, the camera switched to close-ups of the zolt. The commentator followed with several soundbites from an interview with a deputy. “These are not the type of gang members we are used to dealing with. They came heavily armed with medieval broadswords…” The video showed the zolt being disarmed, handcuffed, and put in police cars as the officer continued, “We are asking for help locating the boy. Anyone with knowledge of his whereabouts is encouraged to contact the Sheriff’s office.”
“What?” Andy exclaimed.
Grandpa looked over at Andy with a grin. “Well, you’ve made quite a name for yourself. Do we turn you in?”
Mom’s ringtone chirped from Andy’s pocket.
“I was surfing the Phoenix local news and just saw the story. What happened?”
Andy quickly summarized and Mom asked him to hand his phone to Grandpa.
“Yes, that’s right. That’s what he told me too.”
The old man’s grin faded as he listened and nodded.
“Do you really think that’s necessary? Seems like a big fuss…”
“They’re scheduled to fly back in two weeks, but…”
Grandpa raised his eyebrows.
“Alright, if you really want…”
“I understand. I’ll make sure they’re on the nine o’clock tomorrow morning. Uh-huh. Yes. No, don’t worry, Emily. I know. They’ll be safe. Uh-huh. Okay…goodbye.”
Grandpa handed the phone back to Andy. “You can guess what that was about.”
Andy woke early. He yawned and rubbed sleep from his eyes.
Knock, knock. “Come on, sleepyhead. Time to get moving. We need to leave in half an hour if you’re going to make that plane,” Grandpa announced.
Andy slithered from under the covers and ambled over to the window. Pink and red hues blanketed the sunrise. In the distance he made out the form of a large black bird, circling.