Raven's Wordzzle Challenge # 103
slimy, Pluto, champing at the bit, peaceful, chapter, upright, depression, starfish, matches, channel changer, liver spots, pesticide, plaid, unpredictable, upsetting the apple cart
The Slumber Party Mystery
Chapter 48 - What the General learned from the Indians
Everyone was sitting upright now, waiting for Diana or the General to go on. The old man seemed to be champing at the bit, but was still looking at his granddaughter.
"To tell you the truth," Diana continued, "I've been suffering from a bit of writer's depression lately. Didn't feel I was getting anywhere. For the next chapter in my story, I needed a murder. I had thought of using pesticide, but I really wanted something a bit more unpredictable. The problem with unpredictable is, of course, that it is unpredictable. So when I got back here for my holiday, I decided to try some things out. And talking it over with grandpa, he was all up for a bit of a fun and upsetting the apple cart, too."
"I was," confirmed the old man, adjusting the plaid over his knees. "I really gets a bit too peaceful around here at times, with Diana away at college. Just me and the TV channel changer."
"The problem was, I think," said Diana, "that as usual I tried a few too many things at once."
"I tried to tell her that!" said the General, nodding. "She's like a starfish sometimes. Too many arms." He hesitated a moment. "Not quite as slimy though," he added, "even if devious."
"I have already explained to John about the sausages," said Diana, ignoring that last remark. "That was about timing, and the usually very predictable and punctual habits of old Bumblebee. I wanted to give him a bit of a start, that's all - coming out on the terrace to find the sausages on the grill, hopefully all ready to explode by then. I swear I didn't think of the fire hazard - that was just plain stupid of me, playing with matches on a day like this. One of those things that should have been predictable, and yet I did not foresee it."
"What I don't understand about that," said Skittles, "is why you didn't stay close by to watch?"
"That," said Diana, "is what I mean by having too many things going at once, because other parts required that I was not around just then."
"That invitation card..." said Adam, hesitatingly. "Did you..."
"Of course I did," said Diana. "That was the other thing. Or part of it. I didn't want you to know I was behind it, or that I was even at home, so I tried to make it look like the note came from Grandpa, but with an odd enough message to make sure you did not just decline the invitation. I knew your sense of duty would make you want to check it out. This was really the big test, you see. Grandpa had been telling me about this trick he learned from the Indians, a secret handed down by generations. I'm sure you've heard of it it in stories, just like I have. I never really believed it, though - about being able to put yourself in a coma-like trance. Grandpa challenged me - didn't you?" She broke off her flow of words to look at the old man. "Said you bet you could even fool the doctor."
The General was looking down at his wrinkled hands, full of liver spots, but grinning to himself. "Yes I did. And I could, couldn't I? So you owe me, girl!"
Adam looked shocked and disbelieving at the same time. "You don't mean to say..."
"Yes," said the General, in a triumphant tone of voice.
"But just a while ago you were talking about your pancreas!" said Adam.
"Well, you don't think I told the true story to the doctors at the hospital, do you? They wouldn't have believed it anyway. Neither do you, by the looks of it."
"I'm not sure what to believe," said Adam, trying to take it all in. He had searched for the General's pulse without finding it; but he had not searched very long, because he had fled in uncontrollable panic from the sudden fire. When he returned, the General had still been alive, but weak; and Adam's first thought then had been of sun stroke. Then the hospital had taken over, and of course they might have suspected the old man's diabetes to have something to do with it. And now the General was saying he had put himself into some kind of volontary trance! That kind of thing was really not Adam's speciality at all.
"Excuse me, Brigadier General," said Matthew, who had until then just been listening quietly, while drawing a cartoon of Pluto in his notebook. "I'm just curious. While you were in this - ahem - trance, were you aware at all of what was going on around you at the time?"
Good question, thought Adam to himself. A very good question indeed!
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