Twelve-year-old Jack knows they shouldn’t go, but is unable to persuade his parents not to take the planned trip to the Lake District, England.
Something was going to happen, but what?
The weird feelings he had were always so fuzzy and they didn’t always make sense. Maybe it was just because he’d have to spend time with his pampered cousin, Rosie? Anyway, it was nearly Christmas and what could go wrong with just staying in some cabin in the woods?
He was being stupid…all he had to do was ignore the way his belly churned and his head pounded.
He might be wrong after all.
This mystery adventure tale will drag you into the depths of an icy landscape where you may be afraid to breathe.
Targeted Age Group:: 8-12+ /YA/young at heart
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
There are three reasons I wrote this book –
– The love of the Lake District in England.
– My son's amazin intuition.
– My interest in the paranormal
So, I combined the three and wrote a mystery adventure set in the Lake District around Christmas time.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
My son has amazing intuition and I wanted to take it further – what if someone could really feel what was about to happen? He was my inspiration for 'Jack'.
Rosie is a pain, a real pain! But I needed someone as a foil for Jack, someone he'd have to 'bring into line' when the two of them have to dodge the 'baddies'. Their relationship is a central part of the story.
Baddies are easy and there are two distinctly horrible ones in this story.
As with most of my books, my characters come from dreams and experience.
Knowing Jack (plain text)
Julie Elizabeth Powell
Jack lay flat on his belly, rummaging under his bed until his hand closed upon the shoebox. Dragging it towards him, he wiggled his bony body free and elbowed backwards into a kneeling position, his bottom now resting on his heels. After wiping away the balls of grey fluff and dirt specks from his Arsenal football shirt, he prised open the box and gazed intently at what was inside.
With a trembling hand, Jack hunted for something that could help him by removing the items one by one. A pebble in the shape of an elephant fell from his hand in his eagerness and bounced across the floor before he impatiently swept it back to sit beside him.
A length of string, a gyroscope and a quantity of old coins quickly joined it on the faded green carpet, together with some photographs, a chipped oyster shell, two Arsenal ticket stubs and a robin’s egg that was nestled inside a scrap of cotton wool.
He knew none of it would be any use.
Only the penknife now remained at the bottom of the box.
“Don’t tell your mother!” his dad had whispered, as he’d passed over the ancient object. “It was my grandfather’s…Grandpa Jim we used to call him…your great-grandfather of course. He gave it to me on my twelfth birthday, not long before he died…now I’m giving it to you on yours. He was a bit eccentric, always coming out with cautionary tales and such like, yet I’ve never forgotten what he said. ‘Keep it close Frank, someone’s life depends on it, and there’s no need to tell your father, he wouldn’t understand; too straight-laced’’. I’ve never understood what he meant to this day – about the knife I mean – I think we both know about your granddad.”
His dad had winked before adding, “Yes, he was a strange old man but I liked him, you would have too, you should have heard some of things he’d say! Anyhow, hide it from your mother, you know she’d have a fit if she knew…and maybe you’ll find a use for it.”
That was a couple of months ago.
With care, Jack picked up the knife, heart pounding. It wasn’t anything like the modern ones that housed everything from a corkscrew to an ice pick but quite small, with a single blade and a plain black handle. Would it be enough?
Why hadn’t he thought about it before now? He could have found something, couldn’t he, to stop this stupid gnawing fear? He hated the way it made him feel; like he was going to stop breathing sometimes.
But he knew why, didn’t he?
He’d hoped something would stop them from going, hoped that the weird feeling that attacked him was wrong – that he was being an idiot. But he should have known by now that it wouldn’t just go away.
Why did things keep happening to him; odd, strange and scary things? Things he’d never been able to explain, things he could never begin to understand.
He closed his eyes and the memory of Mrs Hodges standing in the middle of the street, rooting inside her enormous black handbag muttering to herself, came into his mind. Without hesitation, he’d told her exactly where to find her car keys. She’d only need to pick them up from her front doorstep. She’d scuttled off, looking at him, as if he’d suddenly grown an extra head.
He also remembered Mr Dixon’s look of total surprise after he’d told him that it didn’t matter if he’d missed the bus, his daughter would be along any second now in her car to give him a lift to town, anyway.
His heart beat even faster as he thought about the incident with Bobby Cross at school. That time, he’d grabbed the boy by the arm as he’d been about to go into the toilet after class had finished, dragging him into a deserted classroom until Gerry Masters and his pack of cronies had bustled past swearing to get Bobby another time.
Then there was the dream.
It had been the same one for weeks though he couldn’t remember all of it, only a hefty figure, a flapping black coat, a thunderous noise, a blinding light and a large axe. He hadn’t seen a face, and the axe hadn’t been dripping with blood or anything, only none of it made any sense. Not that dreams ever really did. Night after night he’d jolted awake to the muffled darkness of his room, drenched in sweat and fear, and determined not to scream.
“JACK, WHAT ARE YOU DOING UP THERE?”
His eyes jerked open at his mother’s bellowed question.
“Nothing!” he shouted, trying to blot out the memory of the dream.
“WELL, COME DOWN NOW…IT’S TIME TO GO!”
He shoved everything except the penknife back into the box and slid it into its hiding place, pulled down the sides of the bedspread and grabbed his trainers before leaving the room.
While leaping down the stairs two at a time, he slipped the penknife into the pocket of his jeans, satisfied that his shirt now covered the telltale bulge.
“What do you look like?” his mother exclaimed, clicking her tongue in disapproval, as she wiped away the streak of grime that smudged his right cheek with a tissue plucked from her pocket. “And why don’t you ever comb this mess?” she added, using her fingers to straighten the mop of dark-blond hair.
Willing himself not to argue, Jack waited for her to finish, grateful that she hadn’t licked the tissue first.
Reasonably happy with her efforts, his mother went to fetch the last of the things from the kitchen, while Jack sat on the bottom step and pulled on his trainers before snatching his denim jacket from the newel post.
“No, not that one, it’s going to be very cold, use the padded blue one we bought you for your birthday. And fasten those laces properly, you’ll break your neck with them trailing all over the place!” she said, trundling slowly back into the hall, her arms stretched from the weight of the bags.
With a sigh he said, “Okay.”
Bending, Jack tucked the excess strands into the sides of his trainers then shrugged into the enormous wad of coat that took up at least two hanging spaces along the hall rack, after exchanging it with his first choice.
“You probably won’t need it in the car,” said his mother, lumbering out of the front door.
Jack thankfully peeled it off, squashed the coat under one arm and followed his mother to the waiting car.
“Here he is! Good, you’ll need that,” said his father, in his usual good mood, pointing to the coat. “Give it here, it can go in the back until we get there.”
Jack handed it over, watching while his father expertly rolled and pummelled the beast into submission to fit into the last vacant spot amongst the jigsaw of paraphernalia – including the two bags his mother had just loaded – all piled into the large, red ‘people carrier’.
“Right, I’ll just check that everything’s okay inside the house. You get in the car son, it’s all warmed up.”
“Don’t forget your belt,” said his mother, having commandeered the front passenger seat, when Jack opened the door and curled his nose at the strong smell of leather, lavender polish and petrol.
He really hated that stink! Why couldn’t they have an old banger that reeked of old crisp packets and wine gums like Harry’s dad’s van? It was weird the way he never wanted to puke when he was in it, even though it felt every bump in the road. You’d think this one would be better being so smooth and all but…well it wasn’t.
Fastening his seatbelt, he managed a question. “Do we have to go?” The words spilled from him in one last, desperate attempt to avoid the trip. He just had to try, didn’t he?
“Don’t be silly! Uncle Alan and Auntie June are looking forward to it; we’ve been planning it for ages, as you know. You’re not going to spoil things, are you?” His mother shifted around in her seat, staring at him, a puzzled look on her slim face.
He stared back at the deep blue eyes identical to his own, and knew his pleas were a lost cause – nothing he could say would change things, no matter what thoughts were going through his head.
He didn’t answer, flicking his eyes to the floor.
Facing front again, the leather squeaking slightly as she moved, his mother assumed a stony silence.
He’d gone and done it now…she’d be grumpy for the whole trip!
Doors locked, alarm set, and one last glance around, convinced his father, Jack saw, that it was indeed safe to leave, as he hurried to the driver’s side of the car, opened the door, and slid inside. After clicking shut the door and attaching his own seatbelt, he rubbed his hands together in excited anticipation of the coming journey and to stir some warmth and circulation.
“Right…Lake District here we come! What’s the matter?” he said, at once seeing the look on his wife’s face.
“He doesn’t want to go,” said his mother, as if that explained everything.
Jack’s father unclipped his seatbelt in frustration and swung round to face his son, saying, “What’s up?”
“Nothing, it doesn’t matter,” Jack mumbled, now staring out of the side window at next-door’s ginger cat, Hamish, as it began to scrape the frosted soil out of his mother’s flowerbed.
“Well, it must be something. I thought we talked about the trip; you seemed quite keen then!”
The cat continued to scuff and sniff then began to squat and pee until a penetrating shriek filled the air before his mother yanked away her seatbelt, opened the door and hissed at the offending creature as she stormed away in pursuit.
The door not quite closing, allowed the two left inside to overhear her shooing away the cat, stomp to the neighbour’s door and rap her knuckles repeatedly on it.
“Uh oh, we’d better stay where we are,” said his father, before adding, “Listen, son, tell me now, while your mother’s busy. What’s your problem, why don’t you want to go?”
“It’s just a feeling, and you know how much I hate that Rosie,” said Jack, his eyes now looking at the low uneven line of ice along the base of the window to where it had been scraped.
“This feeling; is it the same as you’ve had before?”
“Sort of, I don’t really know. I suppose not.”
“Because if it is…”
“And as for Rosie, I know she’s a little spoilt…”
“A little!” Jack stared at his father in disbelief.
“You can handle her son; after all, now you’re twelve, you should be able to manage a sprite of only ten. If it’s just about her, then…?”
What could he say? Everything was so vague, and it felt stupid to blame a dream for feeling so jittery, yet…
“Yeah, well, sorry, Dad. Don’t say anything to Mum, will you?”
“Not if you don’t want me to.”
The raised voices outside had dwindled; brought to an end when Mrs King slammed the door in his mother’s face. He watched her flounce back to the car, wrench open the door, bounce into the seat and ram the belt’s buckle into the slot, all the while murmuring angrily about ‘filthy creatures’ and ‘precious bulbs’ finishing with two final words, “That woman!”
“I don’t suppose they can help it, I mean cats…” His father was stopped mid-sentence.
“Just drive, Frank! And you, are you over this nonsense about not going?” she snapped, not quite turning to face Jack but her meaning clear.
“”He’s fine, Liz, don’t fret. We’ve had a little chat,” said Frank, winking at him through the mirror before reattaching his seatbelt and backing out of the drive.
Jack didn’t say anything about seeing Hamish, tail high, making its way towards the same flowerbed, while his own stomach began churning with dread.
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