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Running as quickly as I could I bolted past Whizzy and headed straight for the basement door. Whizzy yelled for me to wait up, but I was gone.

I felt like I was going crazy, as if scientists had drilled into my head and were playing around inside to see what would happen. ‘So Dr. Crazy if you press this part of the brain Phillip will see strange flying objects. Great Dr. Mental! If you press this part of his brain he will shout in pig-Latin and pass gas uncontrollably!’

Once I entered Whizzy’s basement everything changed.

“This is the coolest place ever!” I announced as if I had never been here before.

Standing at the bottom of the stairs, I gawked in amazement. To the left were a humongous flat screen 3D-televison and all sorts of cool electronics. Whizzy had at least three different types of gaming consoles, a blue-ray player and an audio system that could shake the walls when something blew up in a movie. In the middle of the room was possibly the most comfortable couch I had every sat on. Beyond that were a billiards table and a bowling alley…that’s right an actual life-size bowling alley. In the opposite corner from the bowling lane was a basketball hoop and hockey goal. It was like the Whizzenmog’s had an entire gymnasium in their basement. Now you see why I never minded that we always played at Whizzy’s house instead of mine?

“What’cha wanna do?” Whizzy questioned. I could tell Whizzy didn’t care what we played.

Where to start? I thought. There was so much excitement built up inside me I was about to burst.

“What’s that smell?”

“I didn’t do it!” I quickly denied any possible connection to the smell Whizzy was referring to. “At least I think I didn’t.” Maybe something could have slipped out during my feverish anticipation of actually having some fun.

“No. I don’t mean THAT smell! It smells like wet dog down here.” Whizzy noticed that the sliding glass door was wide open.

It was still raining…hard, and the carpet had gotten wet. Whizzy and I walked over to see who had left the door open. Rachel was standing in the grass, her burgundy colored umbrella above her with rainwater cascading off its sides. It looked like she was standing in an amusement park ride.

“Rachel,” Whizzy yelled.

She didn’t respond. He yelled again, but much louder this time. Rachel’s face was somber. She must have been crying, but I had never seen her cry in all the years I had known her so I wasn’t sure what that would look like. She slowly walked past us back into the house still carrying her umbrella, which just missed gouging out my eyeball. Rainwater drizzled off the tips of her umbrella and ran onto the carpet as she sat on the couch facing the television. Whizzy and I waited for some sign of life, but all we could see was her burgundy umbrella, still over her head, and the back of the couch.

“Should we go talk to her?” Whizzy whispered.

I wasn’t equipped to deal with my own emotions, let alone a 14-year-old-girl’s; I could only imagine what insane things were swirling around in her head…and I didn’t want involvement in any of them.

“She’s your sister,” I responded.

“Yeah, but you like her,” Whizzy snapped back. He had been saving that for the perfect time to throw it in my face.

“I…I don’t. That’s…not true,” It was the best response I could come up with…I know it’s lame.

But before Whizzy and I could decide who would lose this battle and have to confront Rachel, she blurted out, “Billy stood me up!”

Whizzy’s eyes almost popped from his tiny head. I had an odd feeling of relief. Mostly because that meant she wouldn’t be dating Billy anymore, but that also meant she was free to be my girlfriend. I started towards the couch to sit with her when she screamed. Then something yanked her by her feet off the couch. Her umbrella flew into the air.

Whizzy and I ran to help her. You’d never believe what we saw. Wrapped around her ankles was a thick, scaly, brownish-yellow snake. I followed its body along the carpet, but its head wasn’t visible behind the couch. The snake was dragging Rachel across the carpet and around the couch. Whizzy reached her first and screamed like a little girl when he came face to face with the large diamond-headed snake with its golden sideways shaped eyes, forked tongue and sharp venomous fangs. He jumped backward and landed on my left foot. He weighed a lot for a small kid. I stumbled from the pain causing the both of us to crash to the carpet. Whizzy landed in my lap, which was both uncomfortable and awkward. The snake lurched at us, then continued to slither forward pulling Rachel behind it.

Everything was happening so quickly. The snake was almost to the open door. Rachel’s mouth frantically moved, but I couldn’t hear her. My mind was racing, and I felt nauseous.

Whizzy began angrily belching out questions, “Where did that snake come from? How did it get in here? What is it doing? Where is it taking her?”

The last question seemed the most ridiculous of them all. Where was it taking her?

Whizzy continued to uncontrollably blurt out questions, “Snakes don’t eat people…do they? Is it gonna eat Rachel?”

I finally pushed Whizzy off me. He landed face first next to Rachel. She grabbed on to him, and then they locked hands. The snake continued to pull both of them. This snake is really strong. I thought.

Outside the rain started to wane. Suddenly, the eagle I had just seen at Whizzy’s upstairs bedroom window swooped down and landed on the cement patio just outside the open sliding-glass door. It shrieked.

The venomous snake hissed and then shocked us all. It lunged forward and grabbed the door handle in its mouth and swung it closed before the eagle could enter.

The eagle spread its massive wings, which took up the entire frame of the door and shrieked again. Then it began pecking at the glass.

I grabbed Whizzy’s legs. Now we made a strange train of interlocked bodies from the snake to Rachel, then Whizzy and finally me. I attempted to wrap my legs around the arm of the couch but couldn’t. The snake released its scaly grip for an instant and smashed its tail into the glass. It scared me.

The glass fractured but didn’t break. The fractures continued to splinter like a spider’s-web streaking out in all directions across the doorframe until I couldn’t even see the eagle outside any longer.

For some reason none of us used this opportunity to get up and run away from this obviously crazy snake. Instead we laid there motionless in complete shock watching the glass splinter.

The brownish-yellow, diamond-headed snake hissed once more and the glass turned an evil dark gray. It looked like a black hole from outer space consumed the doorway as it began swirling viciously.

I felt the pull and grabbed Whizzy even tighter.

The snake pivoted back toward us and snapped at Whizzy’s face. He screamed and instinctively released his grip on Rachel to protect his face. The heinous snake seized the opportunity to wrap himself around Rachel again and quickly dragged her into the vortex.

“No,” Whizzy yelled. “Rachel!”

I couldn’t even speak. This couldn’t be happening. I must be dreaming.

Then as quickly as the vortex started it exploded in a flash of white light blinding us both.

I don’t know if we were knocked unconscious or how long we were laying there on the carpet, but it couldn’t have been more than a few minutes.

The familiar sound of rain crept back into my ears. Then the rhythmic tapping on glass, and finally Whizzy springing up into a seated position.

“RACHEL!” my friend frantically ran for the sliding glass door, which was magically repaired. He checked it over before slinging it open and bursting outside into the wet grass. He didn’t even acknowledge the massive eagle standing on the cement patio outside the door.

As I approached, the eagle tilted its head at me in a very peculiarly human way. I waited for a moment to see if it would speak, but that was absurd.

“Where is she, Phillip? Where did that thing take her?” Whizzy was twitching with rage. His eyes had transformed from blue to a fiery red. “I have to help her.”

“You can, Whizzenmog!” a harsh female voice replied.

I instantly looked directly at the eagle standing beside me. Whizzy gave me an inquisitive look. I think he believed I had answered him. I pointed at the eagle, which didn’t make Whizzy any happier.

“Stop foolin’ around, Phillip.”

“But I,” I started to defend myself, but was interrupted by the same voice.

“You can save your sister, Michael Whizzenmog, but only if you listen to my directions.”

I watched as the eagle’s beak moved in exact sync with the words I could hear.

“That’s just not right!” I said in amazement. “Did you just talk to us?”

“Yes, Phillip Harper, and we don’t have much time. You both must listen to me if you are to save Rachel! We must go inside and close the door. It is the only way the portal will reopen. Please, you must hurry.” The bird stood tall on its legs and flapped its massive wings leading us back into the basement. “Now close the door.”

Whizzy did. The eagle shrieked in a unique pattern. The glass began to fracture the same way it had when the snake hit it with its tail. Just seconds later the glass turned dark gray again and the vortex returned.

“Michael Whizzenmog, you must jump now.” She demanded.

Whizzy’s expression was hard to read. It was a mesh of confusion, anger and fear that really isn’t a good look for anyone. He hesitated at the vortex.

Wind swirled around the room. My shirt billowed like a flag, and my hair stood off the side of my head.

Whizzy stepped up to the vortex, his back facing me. He turned slightly to look at me. Just then the eagle pushed Whizzy from behind with her giant wings. He fell into the vortex and disappeared.

“You are next, Phillip Harper!”

My stomach sank. I felt sick.  She grabbed me and tossed me into the vortex. Then everything went black.

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