The Invisible Staircase

The Invisible Staircase

Status: Finished

Genre: Children Stories

Houses:

Details

Status: Finished

Genre: Children Stories

Houses:

Summary

Craig Smicks is not getting on with his father. In order to restore peace in the household, Craig is sent to holiday with his aunt and uncle in a small regional town in Queensland, Australia.
Craig's aunt notices his need for glasses but an error is made with the prescription and Craig is able to temporarily see magical happenings around him, including the discovery of an amazing, invisible staircase on the side of the town's giant silos.
Accompanied by new-found friends, Craig discovers a magical new dimension that is filled with adventures and which seems to possess a special ability to remind him of his poor choices and their consequences.
Craig's negative attitude sends him headlong into an adventure featuring Australian animals, characters, history, flora and fauna. He embarks on a journey of self-discovery aided by the mysterious happenings in the country.
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Summary

Craig Smicks is not getting on with his father. In order to restore peace in the household, Craig is sent to holiday with his aunt and uncle in a small regional town in Queensland, Australia.
Craig's aunt notices his need for glasses but an error is made with the prescription and Craig is able to temporarily see magical happenings around him, including the discovery of an amazing, invisible staircase on the side of the town's giant silos.
Accompanied by new-found friends, Craig discovers a magical new dimension that is filled with adventures and which seems to possess a special ability to remind him of his poor choices and their consequences.
Craig's negative attitude sends him headlong into an adventure featuring Australian animals, characters, history, flora and fauna. He embarks on a journey of self-discovery aided by the mysterious happenings in the country.

Chapter1 (v.1) - Dying to Arrive in Kingaroy

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: February 23, 2017

Reads: 199

Comments: 2

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Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: February 23, 2017

A A A

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If the rather round, over-cheerful bus driver had not eaten his greasy breakfast of eggs and bacon that morning, he may have survived the journey!

His day always began just after dawn. Seated with his wife at their breakfast bar, the happy couple hungrily devoured several greasy bacon rashers, accompanied by two fried sunny-sides up eggs. This was then washed down with a steaming cup of hot chocolate made with full cream milk and a generous dollop of cream.

With a grubby yellow trail of egg yolk snaking down his royal-blue tie, the bus driver slid clumsily off his stool and pecked his rotund wife goodbye on her cheek.

The jovial man crammed himself into his little orange Volkswagen and drove to the Brisbane Transit Centre.

He parked his family car in the car park spot reserved for special employees, cheerfully greeted his workmates with a wave and then boarded his bright blue bus for the very last time.

The bus driver particularly liked the route he was taking that day.

He would drive the bus out of the city area as quickly as the Queensland speed limit and the bus line protocol would allow. Off they would go, into the countryside he secretly loved.

He rather fancied himself as a farmer, milking the cows and later sitting in a warm country kitchen while his wife baked lots and lots of country fare. He adored buns and cakes and fluffy scones with little pieces of fruit forcing their way through crusty skins. His daydream included a big bowl of whipped cream and oodles of strawberry jam on the side.

He was still smiling at that tasty vision when the last of his passengers, a boy of about twelve years of age, began boarding the bus. The boy was being gently pushed onto the coach by a tidy but rather thin woman who appeared to be the boy's mother.

"I really don't want to go, Mum", sulked the boy. "I don't even know Aunt Janice that well and I sure don't like the sound of that place. What a dumb way to spend the holidays!"

"It's been decided, Craig," the woman replied firmly as she gave him a gentle shove into the open doorway, causing his sneaker clad foot to slip on the bottom step.

The boy grabbed clumsily at the side of the door frame to avoid falling but over he went, banging his chin on the top step. He laid face down, just inches from the dusty feet of the plump driver.

"Up you get, young fella", the bus driver whispered kindly. He winked a secret wink at the mother as if to say, "Don't worry, lady, we'll soon have this bloke under control."

Craig picked himself up very quickly and glanced around the bus to see if anyone was laughing at his misfortune.

His cheeks burned with embarrassment and he wished he could instantly disappear.

The other passengers suddenly found more interesting things to look at. Some gazed nonchalantly out the window whilst others picked a fingernail or found some fluff that urgently needed removing from a sleeve.

All except one man.

Three seats down and on the right side of the bus sat an elderly man with curly, greying hair. He appeared to be tall. His long legs were scrunched uncomfortably into the space in front of his seat. Strangely, he was wearing a long trench coat and clutched a briefcase to his chest. The trench coat seemed totally out of place in the muggy, thirty degree heat of the Queensland summer.

Craig noticed the briefcase had large letters on the front but he could not read the label as the man's arms were obscuring the writing.

The boy glared hostile eyes at the man, trying to make him turn away but the older man continued to stare on unfalteringly.

With his cheeks still flaming, Craig turned to his mother.

"See what you made me do," he called accusingly.

His mother shrugged apologetically as the bus doors swung shut with a hiss and a thud. She quickly blew a kiss and waved goodbye as Craig settled into a seat as far from the weird man as possible.

As the bus pulled away from the stop, Craig saw his father standing by a lamppost.  The man was standing tall, trying to spot his son through the slightly dusty glass of the bus windows. Half-heartedly, Craig's father raised a hand but the boy chose to ignore the farewell.

"Loser," thought Craig unkindly and quickly looked away, discovering some sleeve fluff of his own to pick at.

The journey through the city and out into the country was quite pleasant with plenty of interesting things to look out at.

Fences and fields rushed by and although Craig would never have admitted it, he began to enjoy the rhythm of the tyres on the road and the quiet hubbub of his fellow travellers.

After a few miles of pushing his face sullenly against the windowpane, Craig decided to risk a quick look around the bus.

The weird man in the coat still seemed to be looking at him.

Craig tried to stare the man down but the man's gaze remained unwavering.

The boy decided that the weirdo was probably staring into space and not looking at Craig at all. Nevertheless, the sightless stare made Craig uneasy so he decided to switch his attention to the rest of the passengers.

Risking a quick glance behind him, Craig saw an unusual fellow sitting on the bench seat at the back of the bus.

The man was dressed in a very loud Hawaiian shirt printed with an enormous yellow and white frangipani flower. His baggy, country-style pants did not seem to be a good match to his shirt. The pants, Craig thought, belonged on a woodcutter or farmer and were held in place with some rather worn, old-man braces. To top off the man's rather peculiar appearance, his fuzzy-haired head seemed way too big for his body.

Craig secretly named the peculiar man, “The Woodcutter”, and wondered if the shabby sports bag at the man's feet contained a large axe.

This thought amused Craig for a while as it was his habit, now and again, to pass the time with wild imaginings.

In his mind Craig saw the man waiting until the bus had travelled well into the countryside before leaping to his feet, swinging his axe through the air. Craig imagined "The Woodcutter” letting out a blood-curdling cry, rampaging through the bus, cutting off passengers' heads and generally committing chaos.

Craig thought it would be good if “The Woodcutter” could begin the massacre with 'Mister Creepy Briefcase'. At least then, 'Mister Creepy Briefcase' would have something other than Craig to think about (for a minute or two at least)!

"I wonder", thought Craig, "if a person can still think when their head is rolling down the aisle of a bus?"

Whilst the imaginary massacre was still taking place, Craig examined the other passengers.

Next to "The Woodcutter" was a strange little old lady in dusty, little old lady clothes. Craig thought she would probably smell funny. He wondered if some old people got lazy and didn't bother to wash properly.

This particular old lady looked permanently cross and Craig decided that, without even knowing her, he didn't much like the old lady. Craig nicknamed her "Mrs. Smelly" and even though he secretly knew he was being unkind, he didn't care. He was not feeling kind toward any grown-up at this particular time in his life.

Some of the other people on the bus seemed quite interesting.

For instance, the two little kids seated in front of "Mister Creepy Briefcase".

Craig guessed they were brother and sister, maybe twins, because they looked so much alike. Both children had fine blonde hair that hung down into their round, brown eyes. They seemed about eleven years old but they were a bit small for their age. They wore denim shorts, crisp shirts and sneakers without socks.

Craig thought each child looked to be part person, part elf. He knew, of course, that was a ridiculous idea but there was something delicate about their little, brown bodies. Even though their general appearance was fragile, the children looked as if they were quite fit and healthy.

Craig wanted to talk to them but he wasn't in the mood to start a conversation. He secretly hoped he would see them around Kingaroy.

"Kingaroy," thought Craig, turning back to face the front of the bus, "what a crappy place to have to spend my holidays. What could be even a bit interesting there? The town is “famous” only for its production of peanuts, according to that Google site."

Seated in front of Craig, just behind the driver were four men aged, Craig supposed, in their twenties. They were the noisiest people on the bus.

The men occupied four seats, two on either side of the bus aisle. They made jokes, laughed and called across the aisle to one another. One had a rather long beard for a young man and Craig thought it made him look a bit ridiculous.

All this disruptive behaviour was a bit disturbing for the young woman who sat on the seat behind the boisterous men. She was trying to write on what looked to be a clipboard and was constantly distracted by the noise.

Of course, Craig realized, most of “The Gangs” noise was an attempt to get the rather nice-looking girl to notice them. However, she didn't seem interested in striking up a conversation.

Craig decided to nickname her 'Hot Chick' which he knew was not considered politically correct. Craig didn't care. "Hot Chick" was an adult and therefore, Craig decided, she belonged with all the other adults on Craig's list of people to be unpleasant to.

As the bus hummed along the country highway, the noise from the other passengers seemed to diminish and Craig was dimly aware that he was falling asleep. His head was jammed quite uncomfortably between the back of the seat and the window. Now and again his head lolled and jerked as sleep came over him so he wriggled down in his seat to try and get more neck support.

Just as Craig nodded off yet again, the bus slewed violently sideways into the gravel that was lying on the side of the road.

Slipping and sliding, the bus came to a screeching, metallic halt with its front end crumpled against a guardrail.

Passengers cried out in alarm. Some slid off their seats whilst others, like Craig, awoke with a sudden, head-wrenching fright.

Through the bedlam, Craig heard the old woman at the back of the bus crying out. "What happened? What happened?”

Other people were scrambling out of their seats in an attempt to get to the front of the bus and hopefully out onto the road.

Craig saw "The Gang" rush as one to help "Hot Chick" out of her seat but the strangest thing was that "Mister Creepy Briefcase" was already at the front of the bus, leaning over the driver. MCB, (Craig decided it was easier to use a shortened version of Mister Creepy Briefcase's name), looked very concerned as he pushed and prodded at the slumped bus driver's round body. Shaking his still sleep-numbed brain, Craig could not remember seeing the strange, tall man move down the bus.

Suddenly, MCB straightened up and called for calm on the bus. "Could you all be quiet, please?" he demanded with a surprisingly strong voice. "I am afraid that our driver has had a heart attack and uh, has, well, passed away!"

This announcement caused a further outbreak of distress from the other passengers and might well have ended badly with people squashing even harder to get off the bus when suddenly MCB shouted out in a very stern manner.

"Please get hold of yourselves. I want you all to sit back in your seats while we sort this mess out. Firstly, is anybody hurt?"

The passengers all looked rather surprised and belligerent but most settled back into their seats and waited for someone to say they were hurt.

Most of the reported injuries were just little scrapes and bruises. Craig had a small bump on his head and was a bit annoyed to find that his eyes seemed a little fuzzy. He hated fusses though, so he decided not to report his problems.

By this time, other passing highway motorists had pulled up and were trying to enter the bus. MCB reached down and pressed the door release so that anxious helpers could come aboard.


© Copyright 2017 L.J. Sirett. All rights reserved.

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