(Chap 5 of The Jeremy Beans Files book)

The Beans’ household was sleeping.

David and Alice Beans snored gently in the master bedroom. Paws, the cat, slept close to Alice’s feet. Tyler Beans, aged fourteen, sawed logs in his long twin bed in his own bedroom. He dreamed of

walking up to the podium and accepting the first prize in the national science fair. He posed for pictures with his mom and dad. Samuel and Jeremy tried to get into the picture but Tyler shooed them away.

Jeremy Beans, aged twelve, snored gently and dreamed of catching a long fly. He caught it and the crowd went wild. His teammates ran to him and pounded him on the back. He turned over in his twin and pulled at the orange and brown plaid bed cover. He disturbed Beamer, the dog, sleeping at the foot of the bed. Beamer lifted his head a moment and then laid it back down with a grunt. 

A bright moonlight shone on the Beans’ back yard. It shown on twinkling dewdrops covering the grass and two large maple trees in the back. All was silent and still. A dark shadow appeared at the back corner of the slum-stone fencing. The shadow came over the wall silently and dropped to the grass in a crouch. The figure paused, listening.

Inside, Samuel Beans, almost eight years of age, tossed and turned in his sleep. His dreams were restless and intense. He clutched his gold and black metal tiger in both hands. At one point, he even cried out a little.

“No, no. Not him!” he said softly to the air.

A battle raged on in Samuel’s brain. He was back in the desert. It was like the one where they had been before. Where he had gotten lost one time with Jeremy. When they landed in the wrong location through the portal. A portal given to Jeremy by his uncle Al.

Samuel dreamed on.

The sand whirled around and it was hot. The sun was dropping but it was still hot in the desert and Samuel was frightened. He was with a little boy, a few years younger. The boy was small and skinny, and also very sick. Jeremy was trying to help him. They desperately needed to hide. Jeremy was frantically trying find a place and it seemed hopeless. They were in a small village with lots of sand and few buildings.

They had been eluding the men on horseback for two days. But, the men were strong and the horses were fast. They would be here in no time at all. Jeremy wanted to weep with frustration. The little boy with him needed rest. They both needed water and a place to sleep.

Toward the outskirts of this very tiny village, Jeremy spotted something different. It was a small house. Or was it a house? He hustled the little boy toward the structure. A house? No, there were no people living there and there was no real door. Just an opening with writing over the entrance. It was in Arabic so Samuel had no idea what it said. He went inside dragging the boy behind him. It was immediately cooler here and the wind stopped. He pressed his face to the thick plaster wall. It felt cool and inviting.

The Arabic boy shivered even with the heat, goosebumps on his arms. His large brown eyes looked sunken in his small, pointed face. His black scraggly hair was plastered to his head with sweat and his lips were dry and cracked. Samuel looked back at his companion again with concern.

If we could just find a place to lie down, maybe he’ll get better, Samuel thought to himself. Half of him believed it.

He took out his precious reserve of water and had the boy sit down. Then he squeezed some drops from the leather pouch into the boy’s mouth. The kid swallowed gratefully and closed his eyes. His hands still clasped a smaller leather pouch tied around his waist. He had kept one hand on the pouch their entire journey. Samuel had wondered many times what was in the pouch and why the boy clutched it so tightly. He allowed himself some drops of water and rolled them around in his mouth before swallowing. They weren’t going to last if they didn’t get more, he thought desperately to himself. 

Samuel left the boy and got up to explore the small building. There was more writing, in Arabic, on the walls. In the front, there was a small platform, like what they had in church back home. Samuel wondered if this was a church of some kind. He went and touched the platform, it too was cool; done in a black and white streaked marble.

Fingertips trailing along the edge, he felt his way to the back of the podium. It was not a lot taller than he was.

Geeze, these people must be short, he thought. Not like those guys on horseback. Man, they were huge!

Samuel thought of the men on horseback, all wearing turbans, black leather belts and curved swords stuck in their belts. Frightening.

Behind the marble podium, Samuel stared into the gloom. Was that a hole in the floor? He went overand stared down. It was and there was a rough wooden ladder leading down. He thought he could see a flickering light at the bottom. Cautiously, he turned around and went down the ladder carefully so he didn’t miss his step, like Jeremy always told him. He dropped to the bottom and thunked lightly on dirt floor. There was an old torch stuck in a holder in one wall. He went forward and saw dim corridors going off in two directions.

What the heck? He thought to himself. This very much reminded him of someplace else he had been. On another adventure with Jeremy and Uncle Al. It had been a crypt with a lot of skeletons. Was this the same? On tiptoe he went forward and saw carved into the hard packed dirt, squarish cubicles. There were a couple that were empty, further on he found the bones. There were rows of dead people. Mostly skeletons that were bones with some cloth hanging off them. There were two that were a little fresher; he averted his nose. Further in, they were just very old bones lying on their backs.

He had an idea. Yes, they could hide here. Who could find them? Who would think to look? Hustling back up the ladder, he went to retrieve his companion.

“Kid, hey kid.” he shook the little boy’s shoulder. The boy had fallen to sleep where he sat, curled up in a ball. Samuel had a moment of discomfort. “Kid,” he didn’t want to shout or make too make noise.

Slowly the boy opened his eyes and focused on Samuel’s face. “We got to go. Get up. Please.” Samuel made upward motions with his hands. Wearily, the boy let Samuel pull him up to his feet. He was very weak now. Samuel placed one skinny arm over his own shoulder like they learned in camp and pulled the boy toward the podium.

“You got to climb down,” he pointed at the ladder. The boy slowly shook his head no.

“You got to, they’re coming.” Samuel pointed back at the door. He knew the kid couldn’t understand the language but the gestures were pretty clear. The boy’s big eyes rolled back to the door and he sighed. He turned and put one foot on the ladder and then another.

Samuel hung onto the back of the boy’s cotton shirt until he was down several steps, then he

started to go down himself. Suddenly he stopped. His stomach lurched. They had left some

footprints in the dirt on the church. Sweat popped up on his upper lip. They can find us, he thought. He let go of the boy’s shirt and went back into the church. He flecked the dirt and dust around until the footprints were pretty well gone. Have to do, he thought hurriedly as he followed the boy down.

(Continued in part II.)

See more of Courtney’s writing on: