(Stories I’m working on…)


Chapter 1

Break In

Books and paper lay about the floor like a tornado blasted through the living room. Mom was on the sofa, trembling. Dad sat beside her with an arm around her shoulder. Police officers walked in and out of the room, taking notes, checking for fingerprints.

The thieves hadn’t nabbed the TV, the old record player, or Mom’s Russian stacking dolls on the mantle, but the creeps were looking for something.

A pot-bellied officer with the nametag Parker lumbered over.

“Hey,” Officer Parker said. “You all right?”


“What’s your name?”

“Martin Tramble.”

“How old are you, Martin?”

“Twelve, and two hundred and fifteen days.”

One of Officer Parker’s eyebrows arched. “That’s awfully specific.”

It was. But unlike people, numbers could be trusted. And right then, all kinds of numbers flashed in my head: six police officers, thirty-seven books, and fourteen steps to my bedroom.

Officer Parker scanned the ruins of the living room. “Don’t worry about this…probably just some kids playing around.”

Don’t worry about my house being ravaged by strangers? Officer Parker smiled a little, but he wasn’t funny.

“Just curious,” I said. “Do kids usually break into a house in the middle of a school day and wreck a place, and not take anything?”

He thought about my question. Before he could answer a shadowy figure flashed past the back window.

I pointed to the back yard. “Did you see that?” I asked, my chest pounding into overdrive.

“We have all kinds of officers out there,” he said all calm-like.

I hurried across the living room, past Mom and Dad, and pressed my hands to the window. I scanned the backyard. The grass was long, the trees bushy and green, and the fence withered, but there were no officers.

Officer Parker came alongside me. He dug into his shirt pocket and handed over a business card. “You reach out if you hear of anything. I find kids to be more observant than adults, if you know what I mean?”

“That’s true. But it doesn’t make me feel any better.”

Officer Parker chuckled as he gave me that you’re an interesting kid look.

Jared barged into the house wearing his football uniform. He clutched his head as he took in the destruction that was our living room. He gave a brotherly nod from across the room before rushing to Mom and Dad to figure out what was going on.

The worst vision invaded my thoughts, sending an irritating tingle along the scars on my arms. I could see my figurines, sailing instruments, and Rubik’s Cube shattered around my room.

I raced past Jared, Mom, and Dad, bolted the steps, and flung open my bedroom door.

My Civil War soldiers faced off on the top shelf of the cabinet. Below that, Caesar’s tenth legion stood in formation, and down another shelf, Washington, Madison, and my other Revolutionary statues hadn’t moved an inch. And Granddad’s replica pirate ship sailed on my desk, right where it was supposed to be.

I went to my bed and grabbed the Rubik’s Cube off the side table. Dad had given me the puzzle for my seventh birthday. It helped after the kids had teased me, but sometimes I could still feel the cat’s claws tearing into my arm. Later I found that counting things and reading calmed my nerves too.

I set the Rubik’s Cube back on the table and walked my bedroom. Everything seemed in order. I set Officer Parker’s card on my desk and grabbed the bronze cube, which was smaller than the Rubik’s Cube but weighed ten times more. Someone must’ve spent a lifetime making the hieroglyphic-like symbols on each side. The cube had been just one of the sailing things in the box Dad gave me after Granddad died six months ago. Despite scouring the library for books about sailing, the cube was a mystery.

The only thing Dad knew about the model ship and cube, and the other things, was what Granddad told him––the stuff had been passed down from Benjamin Tramble, a merchant, and the first Tramble to set foot in America.

And to think if Mom hadn’t come home early from work the thugs might’ve nabbed all the treasure, or destroyed it. The thought of Mom barging in on two massive, shadowy figures sent a chill of the worst kind over my skin.

I rubbed the prickle from my arms, but nothing was going to rid this anxiousness.

I grabbed the cube and the rest of the treasure, and stuffed everything into my backpack.

There was only one safe place now.