Note: To read The Wishing Map from the beginning, click here.
The Wishing Map
Chapter Thirteen: Domestic Blitz
Previously: Zack and Gina returned home, wounded and bruised, having promised to send the mysterious Objects (currently in Zack’s room) back to Ismara.
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“Gina? Zacky? This isn’t funny you two!”
Mom’s voice was the first thing they heard as they popped out of the Map. Zack had experienced the effect once before, but not with a co-pilot. Just as they reached the underside of the Map, their bodies stretched like silly putty, adjusting to fit through a bottle-cap-sized hole, and then, as they burst out through the top, re-configured in the air. Instead of gently settling into place, they tumbled to the ground like bad Twister players.
“Zack? Gina? Hello?” Mom was in the hall right outside Gina’s bedroom!
“Crap, the Map!” Gina husked. “We can’t let her see the Map!” They began to roll the Map up as Gina yelled, “One sec. ‘Kay, Mom?” They shoved the big roll of parchment under her bed. “Now what do we do? It’s been, like, two days!”
“Well, not exact—” Zack began, but before he could explain, Gina threw open her door and rushed out into the hallway.
“Oh, my gosh! You gave me such a start! We’ve been looking for you for—”
“Oh, Mom, I know!” Gina threw her arms around her mother’s waist. “We thought we’d never get home! We—”
Gina, no! Zack semaphored, but it was too late.
“We were lost near Centerburg. We got kidnapped by these, um, kidnapper guys, you know, only we managed to escape, and then…” Gina flashed Zack a help-me-out-here gesture under Mom’s arm.
“Very funny, you two!”
“What’s funny?” Dad asked, as he came up the stairs.
“They were kidnapped and taken to Centerburg!“
“For ten minutes?”
“I called to you to come downstairs ten minutes ago,” Mom complained.
“We were pretending,” said Zack. He glanced back at Gina’s clock: less than an hour had passed the entire time he and Gina had been in Ismara!
“What?” Gina muttered.
“You’re utterly filthy, both of you!”
“We, uh…wanted it to be realistic?” Zack offered.
Dad burst out laughing.
“It’s not funny, Roy! Look at Gina’s robe. It’s disgusting! And your slippers—is that mud? What were you thinking? Is this the ‘cool surprise’ you were talking about?”
“Well…yeah,” Gina said, recalling her words to Mom just before she fell into the Map. She suddenly remembered the massive spider-bite on her neck, and turned so neither Mom nor Dad could see it.
“We thought it would be funny to dress up like we were kidnapped,” Zack explained, “you know, like at Halloween. We thought maybe—”
“You thought maybe I’d enjoy doing an extra couple loads of laundry? You thought maybe it would be funny to nearly kill yourselves? Look at you, you’re all scratched up! Is that blood?”
“Well…” Gina looked down to avoid visual contact. Her eyes had a fluey pallidness to them and were still draining.
“I’ll stick the root beer in the fridge,” said Dad, sagaciously slipping away.
“Get in the shower right now, Zack!” Mom ordered. “And your new jeans—they’re all ripped up! Gina, you can use the shower in our bathroom. Throw your clothes in the hamper, both of you. Or maybe I should just burn them! Is there something in your eyes, Gina?”
“Um, yeah, you know, pollen. I’ll rinse ‘em out in the shower.”
Twenty minutes into video night, Mom punched Dad in the arm and said, “I hate it when you get to be the good cop!” They glanced over at Zack and Gina. Both were asleep. Gina was curled up in the loveseat, one hand covering her eyes and the other her neck. Zack was passed out on the floor with his back against the sofa, dirt bubbles dribbling from the corner of his mouth.
Momandad half steered/half carried their wayward waifs up the stairs. Dad watched with amusement as Zack timbered onto his bed without waking up. “How can you sleep with all that racket?”
The Objects were going berserk inside the toy chest.
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Thoughts: Have you ever had a life-threatening experience and thought it was over, only to discover it that it was just beginning?
To read The Wishing Map 54, click here!