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The Wishing Map
Chapter Thirteen: Domestic Blitz (Continued)
Previously: In an effort to send the frantically thrashing Objects in Zack’s toy chest back to Ismara, he and Gina decided to push the chest into her room.
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The toy chest alone weighed sixty pounds; with the Objects it weighed twice that. Mom always insisted that the spaces beneath things be cleaned, so Dad had installed plastic casters on the corners, but the chest had never really accepted them, and as a result they were rather tenuously attached. This had been OK as long as Zack was only moving the chest a few feet so Mom could supervise the removal of imaginary dust.
Moving the chest all the way into Gina’s room was another story.
Zack went to the far side and began pushing while Gina grabbed the carved handle on the side nearest the door and started to pull. The chest resisted for a moment, then slowly sailed forward like a Spanish galleon, the warmly scarred tongue-in-groove floorboards playing the role of the sea.
“We’re getting it,” Zack grunted, “Keep going.”
“Hoo-oomph!” replied Gina.
Once they’d gotten the chest halfway through the door opening, it began to rattle violently. Gina had never been this near the Objects when they were acting up. She let go of the handle and stood back, staring wide-eyed at the haunted vessel.
“Hey! Don’t quit!”
“They’re going to explode!”
“God,” Gina prayed, “after everything we’ve been through, please don’t let us be eaten by our toys.” She grabbed the heavy handle again and began to pull, but then the chest did something it had never done before: it jumped forward on its own, clearing the doorway without any help. Gina let out a shriek and scrambled back just in time to avoid having her toes crushed.
“Whoa, mama!” Zack shouted.
But then the chest stopped, unable to make the turn by itself, and shivered plaintively, as if to say, “Need some help here.”
Zack clambered over it into the hallway and joined Gina in pushing. The chest was eerily compliant, but when they got it facing the right direction it began lurching forward again.
Then the right rear caster broke off and the corner of the chest began to rip the already threadbare hall carpet.
“Mom’ll kill us!” Gina screamed.
Zack grabbed the casterless edge and began thumping forward on his knees while holding up the corner, saying, “Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!” with each move.
Gina shimmied between the chest and the handrail, and took up the navigator position in front: “Go right, go right! Your going to hit the—“
There was a sickening crunch as the left front caster gave way and disappeared under the chest. The big box lurched into one of the handrail posts, causing it to fracture.
Zack looked up and said, “We’re dead.”
They observed a moment of silence for the murdered post, and then, without a word, returned to the task at hand. Gina dropped to her knees, slipping her fingers under the left front corner. She pulled hard, using every muscle in her body. The chest turned to the right. She gave a shriek and fell back, pulling her feet free just in time. But the chest could go no further. It see-sawed angrily on its caddie-corner casters, the remaining wheels more a hindrance than a help.
The Objects began hurling themselves against the lid with renewed vitality; the remaining hinge was on the verge of pulling loose. Gina watched as yet another screw fell out. One of the spouts on the brass football Object peeked out from under the cover. Is it going to report back to the others?
In desperation, she jumped up and sat down on the lid, and then looked around. “Zack?” Where is he? The thought that he might have been sucked into the chest flashed across her mind, but before she could work up a really good panic, she heard:
“Got what?” Her back was toward him and she couldn’t turn around without taking her feet off the floor, which she wasn’t about to do.
“We’ll have to just take ‘em out,” said Zack, “and carry ‘em to the Map.”
Gina heard the key in the lock, and screamed, “No!”
“What else can we do? No way we’re gonna get this chest in there.”
“They’ll escape and—”
“And what? Go into the Map? Isn’t that the whole idea?”
“No, you idiot! They’ll—”
“They’ll what, brainfreeze?”
“You…you could get your skateboard…it’d be like a wheelbarrow and…”
“That’s not gonna work.”
“But if you let them out, they’ll go crazy and—”
He knew she might be right. Still, what other option did they have?
“Only choice,” he said, turning the key in the lock.
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Thoughts: Have you ever been in a position where risking life and limb was simply unavoidable?
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