Strider Security

SIXTEEN IN NO TIME

 

PROLOGUE

Everyone has their secrets.

For some, they’re “skeletons in the closet”—those deep, dark, nasty, life-ruining kinds of things. For others, they’re just innocent little things like hiding presents until Christmas or sharing little tidbits with friends. For the rest, there’s all that “somewhere in-between”—bad business investments, high-school romances turned sour, or maybe hard-to-believe occurrences right out of “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not.”

For Celinda, it was nothing evil or dishonest . . . but not quite so trivial, either.

Definitely a Ripley’s, she decided.

It had happened back in high school, when she and her best friend Mandy experienced just about the most unbelievable occurrence of all time.

Time, she thought, with a soft laugh. That’s appropriate.

It had been a note from Mandy, delivered just the day before, that had reminded Celinda of it.

“Can you believe it? It’s been ten years,” the note read. “Time waits for no man—or woman.   – Love ya,  Mandy.”

With her husband at work and the kids just down for their afternoon naps, Celinda slipped quietly into the walk-in closet and hefted down the small, dusty treasure box from the top shelf. The box itself had nothing to do with anything, except that it had a nice, sturdy lock.

But the contents were something else again.

Carefully, she placed it on the foot of the queen bed, inserted her secret key, and opened it up. Sitting beside the box, she smiled. Reminiscing about that year’s Junior Prom always brought back fond memories.

Carefully, she lifted out the little-league baseball and lobbed it in the air a couple of times.

“A real David Copperfield,” she muttered under her breath.

They’re probably still talking about the day those three fast pitches disappeared into thin air—never to be found.

Replacing the ball, her eye caught on the lump of bright red cloth carefully folded in one corner. As she pulled it out, a half-laugh half-snort escaped her lips, and she quickly covered her mouth with one hand.

“Oh my goodness,” she said through her fingers. “It’s so tiny.”

From her other hand dangled what was surely the smallest bikini ever made. It still had the original price tag. She’d never worn it—nor would she. It was such a bittersweet reminder of those crazy days.

And of Travis Foxx—the most popular boy ever at North High.

She sighed—a sad kind of sigh.

Too bad about Travis, she thought.

Carefully, she refolded the miniature swimsuit and placed it back in the box.

Next she extracted and unfolded a single sheet of paper. On it was scrawled a note, in her own handwriting.

HI MOM!

No, you’re NOT hallucinating. It really was us that you just saw.

We’re caught in a TIME-WARP!!

That’s why the fridge blew up. The door slammed shut at, like, TWO THOUSAND MILES AN HOUR!

Anyway, what you need to do right now—THIS INSTANT—is get on the phone and call Dad.HURRY! Because in exactly 2.5 seconds, we’re going to show up in his office, and he’s going to think he’s hallucinating, too. Then, two seconds after that, we’ll be at Mandy’s house.

It’s the only way we could think of to prove all this to you—You know, the Time-Warp thing. So hurry! He’s probably going nuts by now, too.

(by the time you read this whole thing, it’ll be DAYS later for us)

I know. Weird.

Anyway – Love ya.

– Celinda

Oh, and the front door and the stairs are a mess. It’s that high-speed Time-Warp thing again.

(Sorry)

Celinda refolded the paper and put it back in the box. Then she examined a big red paper with a boy’s name written with black marker. Two deflated balloons hung stapled to it.

This is what started the whole thing, she recalled.

She sighed and closed her eyes. With the paper in hand, she let herself fall back on the bed as the memories carried her away.

The balloons . . .

 

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