AUTHOR'S NOTE: I realize as I now write this, I should have written it BEFORE I wrote "Mystery of the Middle East," but I didn't get the idea until recently. This is why the story is posted before "Mystery of the Middle East," because of the fact that this story is going to take place before the events in "Mystery of the Middle East" (way to plug a story, huh?) This story is based on the movie, "Jumanji," which is where I got the idea for this story in the first place.
It was a crisp, clear fall day, in a small New Hampshire town. Bette Nesmith was trying to keep up with her ten-year-old son, Mike, as he pedaled a bicycle through the town.
"Michael, slow down!" she shouted.
Mike turned to look at his mother, and threw her a smirk, and then pedaled off. He didn't get very far before someone grabbed the handlebars of the bicycle, and Mike fell forward. He looked up to see who had stopped him. It was an older man with chin length gray hair, gray mustache, and gray beard. He wore a top hat, and a long black cape.
"Now you know better than to run away from your mother like that," he said.
"Aw, Uncle Will!" Mike shouted. "I was just playin'!"
"I give you a bicycle as an early birthday present, and look what you're doing. Robert Michael Nesmith, you're going to give your poor mother a heart attack one of these days!"
Wilhelm Westerman held the bike steady while Mike climbed off of it. That gave Bette a chance to catch up with them.
"Will, thank you," she said. "Michael, don't you ever do that again."
Mike just rolled his eyes. Will laughed. He had known Mike since he was born, and he often had seen Bette try to control him. In fact, it was nearly impossible. Will seemed to be the only one who could control him.
"Can I have my bike back, please, Uncle Will?" he asked.
"Oh all right," Will said. "You go off and have some fun. Your mother and I need to talk over things."
Mike hopped on his bike, and pedaled off. He liked visiting his uncle. He lived in a huge mansion called Westerman Hall. But he didn't live there alone. He lived with his older brother, Friedhelm (don't be fooled by the German names. The Westermans are indeed, English). Will would write books, and he was a world traveler, even before Mike was born. He often liked to visit Texas, where Bette and Mike lived, just to see Mike, who was his favorite nephew. He always gave Mike very extravagant gifts for his birthday and Christmas, and sometimes he just gave him gifts for the sake of giving them to him. Bette didn't approve of this, and neither did Friedhelm. They thought that Will was just spoiling Mike, and as a result, Bette would take away most of the more lavish gifts. She would only let Mike keep some of the more practical ones, which frustrated the boy greatly.
Will was well-liked in the town. The Westermans were very wealthy and well to do. The only problem was that whenever Mike visited his uncle, he would always get into scraps with some of the local boys. They thought Mike was weird, skinny, and gawky. They often said he talked funny, too (it didn't help that Mike had a very thick Texas accent). They thought Mike was a snotty rich kid since he was related to the Westermans and often had the best of everything. Far from it. In actuality, Mike was about as far as rich as you could get. He only appeared rich whenever he visited his uncle, due to the fact that Will always gave him the best of everything.
That day, Mike came pedaling down the street when he ran across a group of the local kids. He began pedaling about as fast as he could until he came to a factory. But it wasn't just any factory. It was owned by his uncle, Friedhelm. He ran inside, throwing the bicycle to the ground. He nearly ran over his uncle on the way in.
"Michael, what are you doing here?" Friedhelm asked.
"I was just wonderin' if you could give me a ride back to your place," Mike said, shrugging.
"Those bullies picking on you again?" Friedhelm asked. "You have to learn to stand up for yourself, you know that."
"Yeah, I know, Uncle Fried, I know."
"Must learn to take it like a man."
Mike rolled his eyes. He knew he couldn't count on his Uncle Fried to get him out of a sticky situation like this. Will was the one to go to in cases like this. In any case, Mike left the factory, and retrieved his bike. He was about to pedal off when the bullies surrounded him.
"Hey check out Nesmith," one said. "Nice bike. Get it from your uncles?"
"Lay off," Mike said.
"You're not good enough to hang around here. Just because your uncles are the richest guys in town doesn't give you the right to hang around here and act like you're better than us."
Mike glared at them all, and gripped the handlebars of his bicycle as hard as he could. Then he climbed off, and raised his fists.
"You lookin' for a fight?" he asked.
One of the other boys raised his fists. He and Mike circled each other, until the other boys ganged up on him. He got clobbered, and the ringleader pedaled off with Mike's bike. Mike glared at all of them, and stifled an urge to hurl a rock at them. Instead, he made his way back to Westerman Hall, but not without passing a construction site. As he was passing it, he heard drums beating. Curious, Mike followed the sound, and dug out some kind of board game from the dirt. He looked at it, and then put it under his arm in order to take back to Westerman Hall.
When Mike returned to Westerman Hall, he sat down in the living room, and opened the game box. He was looking it over when Bette came into the room.
"Michael, is that you?" she asked. Mike turned around, and his mother nearly had a heart attack when she saw his black eye.
"Oh dear lord, what have you been doin' this time?" she asked.
A little while later, Friedhelm, Will, and Bette came into the living room. Mike was sitting on a chair, not doing much of anything.
"Michael, your mother told us what happened," Friedhelm said. "I want you to know that we are proud of you that you stood up for yourself, even though you were out numbered."
"Yeah, but I probably could have taken them," Mike said, shrugging.
"In any case," Friedhelm continued, pulling a brochure out of his coat. "Your mother and I have been talking about this, and we think you're ready for this."
Will sort of grunted as Mike took the brochure and looked through it. It was for a boarding school called Eastern Bay Point. Mike looked up at his mother and his uncle.
"I take it to mean you guys don't want me around anymore," he said.
"It isn't that, Michael," Bette said.
"All Westermans have gone to this school," Friedhelm said. "It's a wonderful oppurtunity!"
"Fried, he is a Nesmith, not a Westerman," Will said. "And I don't think boarding school is right for Michael."
"It will be good for him," Friedhelm argued. "He's part Westerman isn't he?"
"Uhh, excuse me?" Mike asked. "Don't I get any say in this?"
"I know what's best for you, Michael," Friedhelm said. "And that's boarding school."
"You can't force him into doing something he doesn't want to do," Will said.
"Uncle Will's right!" Mike shouted. "I don't want to go, I'm not goin', and you can't make me! You're not my father!"
"But I, on the other hand, am your mother," Bette said. "And I happen to agree with Fried."
"Of course you would," Will mumbled. "You always take his side."
"And just what is that supposed to mean, Will?" Bette asked. "You're not doin' much for Michael's values by spoilin' him rotten!"
"What good is a great-nephew if you can't spoil him?" Will asked.
"We'll talk about this later," Friedhelm said. "I have a dinner banquet to go to. And your mother is coming with me, Michael, to discuss this further. But this weekend, we're driving up to Eastern Bay, and I don't want another word about it!"
"Fine!" Mike shouted. "I'm not gonna speak to you two ever again!"
And with that, Bette and Friedhelm left. Mike folded his arms across his chest and sulked. Will clicked his tongue against his teeth and was silent for a moment or so.
"Well," he said, finally. "That could have gone better."
"Boardin' school," Mike grumbled. "Can you believe it?"
"Yes, I know, I went to Eastern Bay Point when I was your age. The most miserable experience of my life. But let's work a bit on Fried. Maybe we can convince him about not sending you."
"You can convince him. I'm not speakin' to him again!"
Mike was about to storm away when suddenly, jungle drums were heard in the room. Will looked around the room, trying to figure out where it could have been coming from.
"What in the world is that?" he asked.
"You mean you hear it, too?" Mike asked.
"Well of course I hear it! I'm not deaf, you know! What is it anyway?"
"I'll show you."
Mike went into the front hall, and pulled the game out from under a chair.
"It's called Jumanji," he said, opening the front panel of the box. He picked up two pieces and began reading. "An adventure for those to find a way to leave their world behind. On your turn, roll the dice to move your token, doubles get an extra turn, whoever reaches the center of the board and calls out Junmanji first wins. Wanna play?"
"I'm not much on board games, Michael," Will said. "Put that away. I'm getting a weird feeling about it."
Mike shrugged, and tossed the dice onto the game board. Suddenly, his piece began moving.
"Uncle Will, look!" he shouted. "It's moving by itself!"
"That's odd," Will said, looking it over.
In the center of the game board was a dome of some kind. Both Mike and Will looked at it, and saw that words were beginning to form.
"At night they fly, you'd better run," Mike read. "These winged things are not much fun."
A screech was heard from the nearby fire place. Mike began to get chills up his spine. Will took the dice and just held them.
"Uncle Will, I think we'd better put it away," Mike said.
Will nodded. He was about to do so when the grandfather clock in the hall chimed. It startled him, and he dropped the dice. His piece began moving on it's own.
"Oh great Gatsby," he said. "The game things I moved."
"Wh-what do you mean the game thinks?" Mike asked, nervously.
Will leaned over to get a look at what the game had to say. The letters merged together slowly.
"In the jungle you must wait until the dice read five or eight," he read. "Now what in the world . . . . ."
Mike looked up at his uncle and gave a loud shriek. It looked like his hands were being pulled into the game. A tornado of some kind appeared out of it, and began swirling around Will.
"Michael!" he yelled frantically. "Michael, roll the dice!"
The minute Will yelled that out, he was sucked into the board game. Mike was standing there in shock until large white bats came flying out of the fire place, screeching. Mike shrieked, and began running as fast as he could, with the bats right behind him. He ran from Westerman Hall, all the way down the street, screaming at the top of his lungs.
SCENE SHIFT: FOURTEEN YEARS LATER
It was just a normal day in New Hampshire. A realtor was leading Drake around the old Westerman Hall. His nine-year-old daughter Gosalyn was with him, as well as Gosalyn's friend, ten-year-old Leland Lizard. Gosalyn's five-year-old sister and Leland's six-year-old brother were back in California. Drake was in New Hampshire on a concert gig, and he wanted to look into a house in New England to visit with his family during winter break. Mike was with him on the concert tour, but he wasn't interested in looking at houses with Drake.
"Hey, guys!" Drake called out to the two kids. "What do you think? Is this great or what?"
"I give it an or what," Gosalyn replied. Leland just shrugged, and walked around.
"I think this would be the perfect vacation home for you and your kids," the realtor said. "The two of them will get used to it here, I'm sure of it. The house is a little freaky at first, I won't lie to you, and right now, they're just a little intimidated."
"Uhh, whoa, hold it," Drake said. "Leland's not mine. His parents died about a month ago, and I just took him and his brother in for the time being, until other relatives are located."
The realtor nodded. Gosalyn and Leland continued to look around. They didn't know what to make of the old place. The realtor came up to them.
"So what do you guys think?" she asked. "Big enough for you?"
Leland looked at her, said nothing, and walked away. Gosalyn looked up at the realtor and sighed.
"Leland hasn't said much since it happened," she explained. "But he barely knew his parents anyway. They were always off somewhere. London, Paris, Rome, that sort of thing. Mr. and Mrs. Lizard went on a Caribbean cruise when it happened. They got caught in a terrible hurricane, and their boat sank. We only found out about it when the authorities found a note to Leland and his brother floating in a bottle of champagne."
Gosalyn sniffled a bit, and left the room, after excusing herself. It appeared that she was about to start crying. Drake ran across her in the hallway, and she was walking away laughing. Drake had a feeling he only knew what she was telling the realtor.
"The Lizards were very devoted parents," he said. "They were killed in a car crash in Colorado."
The realtor nodded, feeling a little confused at this, but she and Drake went over the fine print. Leland was still walking around when he suddenly heard drumming coming from upstairs. His curiosity got the better of him, and he climbed up the stairs and into the attic. It was old, dusty, and filled with cobwebs and various knick knacks that included ancient copies of board games, like from the 1950's (well, they were ancient to Leland). The drumming stopped just then. Leland looked around, feeling a little creeped out, yet curious at the same time. As he was looking around, he heard something in the rafters, and looked, but there was nothing there. That didn't make Leland feel any calmer.
Back downstairs, Drake and Gosalyn were wandering around the house, just looking at it.
"Can you just imagine the games of Hide and Seek in this place?" Drake asked.
"I dunno," Gosalyn said. "It's a little creepy of you ask me."
As if that were some kind of cue, Drake and Gosalyn heard a blood curdling shriek, and Leland came tearing down the stairs. He ran right into Drake, and latched himself onto him, out of fear.
"What's going on?" he asked. Leland didn't answer, but the sound of a bat was heard from the attic.
"I'm gonna stay at the motel with Mike!" Gosalyn shouted, and she was about to run for the door, when Drake grabbed her arm and pulled her back.
"That won't be necessary," he said. "I'll call an exterminator, and everything will be fine. It's probably just a little bat. You probably even scared it away when you screamed like that, Leland."
Drake unhooked Leland's fingers from his shirt, and went to find the phone. Gosalyn looked at Leland and groaned.
"You really need some more back bone, you know that?" she said.
Leland said nothing. He was too freaked out by what he saw up in the attic. After awhile, the exterminator arrived, and began inspecting the attic. Gosalyn and Leland were up there with him. Gosalyn had a book with her, and she showed it to the exterminator.
"He said that's what it looked like," she said.
"That's an African bat," the exterminator said. "No way in the world it could be here in New Hampshire."
"Maybe it escaped from a zoo," Gosalyn shrugged.
"Last time we had bats here was about fourteen years ago. Some kid saw a bunch of them. He was around your age, I think. In any case, I wouldn't want to live in this house, knowing someone was murdered here."
"Cool!" Gosalyn shouted. Leland looked a little sick.
"Did you say . . . ." he started to say, nervously.
"Yep," the exterminator said. "Murdered. The Westerman brothers used to live here. It's been said that Friedhelm, the older brother, murdered his younger brother, Wilhelm, after they got into an argument over a nephew of theirs, I forget the nephew's name."
"Whoa," Gosalyn said.
"Ew," Leland grimaced.
The exterminator turned off his flashlight, and he and the kids started down the stairs.
"There's nothing up there except for a few cobwebs and some dust," the exterminator said.
"There, you see, guys?" Drake said. "Nothing to worry about!"
Somehow, Leland wasn't convinced. Dinner that night was quiet. Leland just picked at it. He had been doing that since he got the news about his parents. Drake figured he'd just let Leland handle it in his own way. Gosalyn did the same thing three years ago when her mother was killed in a car accident. It just had to take it's course.
Of course, Drake felt he had to get Leland to eat, considering how skinny and scrawny he was getting since the accident.
"Come on, Leland," he said. "You've got to keep your strength up going up and down all these stairs."
"Yeah, but he ain't touchin' the attic with a ten foot pole!" Gosalyn shouted.
"Gosalyn, stop picking up Mike's grammar and eat your dinner," Drake said.
"Well, we know why you got this place so cheap," Gosalyn continued. "Two brothers used to live here and the older one murdered the younger one, chopped him up into little pieces, and hid them in the walls."
"Eeeccchhh," Leland grimaced, and he started to turn greener than he usually was. Gosalyn had killed his appetite completely.
"Okay, that does it," Drake said. "Go to your room, young lady. I'm sick and tired of these lies of yours. You're grounded for a week."
"Fine," Gosalyn said, getting up. "There's nothing to do in this stupid town anyway. And just for your information, Dad, that wasn't a lie."
Gosalyn went up the stairs, leaving Drake looking confused.
Late that night, Leland woke up to the drumming. He got up, and went across the hall to Gosalyn's room. The door was opened slightly, so he went in, and found that Gosalyn was pretty much awake anyway.
"Do you hear that?" he whispered.
"Hear what?" Gosalyn asked.
"It's coming from the attic!"
"Leland, you're a year older than I am, but you act like you're two years younger than I am!"
"Really, Gosalyn, I hear it! I hear it!"
"It's just your imagination. Go back to bed."
Leland was about to go back down the hall, but he stopped for a minute. He turned back to Gosalyn.
"Do you ever miss your mom?" he asked.
"No," Gosalyn said.
"You're lying. You know if you don't cut that out, your dad's gonna send you to a shrink."
"Where do you think my dad's gonna send you if you don't start eating, and if you don't stop seeing and hearing things that aren't there? Go to bed!"
Gosalyn had him there. Leland sighed, and went back down the hall. The next morning, Drake was rushing around, trying to get in order for his concert rehearsal.
"I'm going to be gone most of the day," he said. "So I talked to a neighbor across town, and she said she'd look after you two. Since this town is so small, you guys can walk to her house easily from here, and I want you two to behave."
Neither Gosalyn nor Leland were paying attention. The drumming had started again, and both of them were looking up towards the attic. Drake saw them staring at the ceiling, and gave them a weird look.
"Gosalyn?" he asked. "Hello? Gosalyn? Leland? Anybody in there?"
"Huh?" Gosalyn asked, snapping back into reality just as the drumming stopped.
"I could drop you two off at Mrs. Kaiser's," Drake said.
"No, we'll be fine," Gosalyn said. "We can walk."
"All right," he said. "I'll see you guys later, and Mrs. Kaiser is expecting you."
With that, Drake left. The minute he was gone, Leland turned to Gosalyn.
"I knew it," he said. "You do hear it!"
"Hear what?" Gosalyn asked, trying to worm her way out of this.
The drums grew louder, and the two kids couldn't ignore it any more. They ran up the stairs as fast as they could and darted directly into the attic. They started looking around, trying to figure out where it was coming from. The drumbeats grew louder, startling Gosalyn so much that she screamed. She and Leland spotted a pile of board games and began taking them out of the stack one by one until they came across a game neither of them had ever heard of before.
"Whoooaaa," they said together.
"Cool," Gosalyn said, opening the box. "Come on! Let's bring it over here."
Gosalyn picked up the game and brought it into the light. Leland followed her, and kneeled down beside the box they had set it on. Leland tried to move the two pieces that were already on the board, but they couldn't move.
"They're stuck," he said. "They won't come off."
"Jumanji," Gosalyn read. "An adventure for those to find a way to leave their world behind. On your turn, roll the dice to move your token, doubles get an extra turn, whoever reaches the center of the board and calls out Junmanji first wins. Sounds easy."
Leland nodded, and took the other two pieces out of the box. The minute he did, they practically flew towards the board, and attached themselves there. Leland's eyes nearly popped right out of his head.
"Probably microchips," Gosalyn said. "Maybe even magnets. I don't know."
"Y-y-you go first," Leland said, a little nervously, and he handed Gosalyn the dice.
Gosalyn shrugged, shook the dice in her hands, and let them roll onto the board. She rolled a six. Just as she went to move her piece, she saw that it was moving by itself. She stifled a gulp. The dome in the center of the game board began to swirl, and letters started to form.
"A tiny bite can make you twitch," she said. "Make you sneeze, make you itch."
The next thing they heard was a loud buzzing noise, and suddenly, a swarm of giant mosquitoes appeared from out of nowhere. Gosalyn let out a shriek, and she and Leland ducked to avoid getting bitten by one of these suckers. Gosalyn picked up a nearby tennis racket and began swinging it like a baseball bat at the insects. She smacked one as hard as she could and it sailed out the window. The others followed it. Then she caught her breath. Leland got up, and picked up the dice. He shook them, and threw them.
"No, don't!" Gosalyn yelled, but it was too late. Leland's piece moved two spaces, as indicated on the dice. He had rolled snake eyes.
"This will not be an easy mission," he read. "Monkeys slow the expedition."
"I really hope that means Davy, Micky, Mike, and Peter," Gosalyn said.
At that moment, Gosalyn and Leland heard some banging around downstairs. It sounded like it was coming from the kitchen.
"It sounds like Micky," Gosalyn said shrugging.
Leland wasn't so sure. He and Gosalyn got up and raced down to the kitchen as fast as they could. They opened the door, and found at least ten or twelve red monkeys racing around the kitchen, raiding the refrigerator, shrieking, jumping up and down, throwing dishes and food everywhere, generally making a huge mess. One saw the kids, grabbed a tomato and hurled it at them. Gosalyn closed the door just in time. Another monkey took out some of the heavy knives, and hurled them at the kids, like a knife thrower in the circus.
"Yikes!" Leland shouted, as Gosalyn shut the door, once again in the nick of time.
"Come on, let's get back upstairs," Gosalyn said. "And find a way to clean up the kitchen before my dad gets back and blames us for it!"
"They all probably came from the game," Leland said. "We have to figure out how to put them back in before your dad comes home!"
Gosalyn and Leland raced up the stairs as fast as they could. They inspected every inch of the game, until Gosalyn found something written on the other side of the box opening.
"Uh oh," she said. "I didn't see this part. Adventurers beware."
A thump was heard from downstairs. Leland got up and ran to the attic window to see what was going on, as Gosalyn read.
"Do not begin unless you intend to finish," she continued. "The exciting consequences of the game will only vanish when a player has reached Jumanji and call out it's name."
Leland watched as the monkeys ran out of the house, and down the street. Then he ran back to Gosalyn.
"The monkeys are gone," he said.
"Good," Gosalyn replied.
"Let's put this thing away, Gosalyn. It's giving me the creeps!"
"Hold it. The instructions say if we finish the game it will all go away."
"But what if something even worse comes out of there?"
"Leland, we have to finish it, or else my dad is gonna have a cow. Especially if he sees the kitchen, and you know he's not going to believe that a pack of wild monkeys did it. We should just get it over with now. Go ahead and roll again. You got doubles."
Leland heaved a sigh, and tossed the dice. This time, he rolled a five. The two of them peered over to the dome and began to read it as the words began to form.
"His fangs are sharp, he likes you taste," Leland read. "Your party better move post haste. Uh oh . . . . ."
"I don't like the sound of that," Gosalyn said.
There was an old piano in the corner of the attic. The kids didn't notice it, until something ran along the keys. Both of them jumped to their feet, and looked around to see if they could find it. They looked towards the shadows of the attic, and stood there, stiff as boards. Whatever was behind there started coming out, and revealed itself as a large, hungry lion.
"It's not real," Gosalyn whispered. "It's not real."
"L-l-looks pretty real to m-m-me," Leland stammered.
Gosalyn was not ready to believe her own reassurance. She and Leland ran out of there in a split second. The lion chased after them, and jumped down the stairway, far ahead of the kids, blocking them off. They were trapped. From out of another room came a jungle man, wearing some kind of loin cloth, large palm leaves, and a helmet that looked like it was made out of a turtle shell. He had long gray hair, and a long gray beard. He was wielding a large stone knife, holding it in front of him, trying to protect himself from the lion. The kids let out another scream, and ran down the hallway as fast as they could.
The jungle man backed away slowly from the lion, and the lion kept moving forward. The man was not going to show the large cat any fear. He suddenly threw the knife down, and jumped onto the chandelier, swinging over the lion. The lion charged, and ran into the master bedroom, where the jungle man slammed the door shut and locked it. Then he looked around the house, and found that the linen closet was ajar. He opened it fully, and found Gosalyn and Leland there. The kids screamed. It was the only thing they could think of doing. The jungle man was taken aback, and he shut the door quickly. Then he continued walking around the house. He came across a locked bedroom door, and kicked it open. He looked inside, and found shelves full of dusty books. There was an old picture on the nightstand next to the bed. It was of a young woman, and her son, who looked to be about ten years old at the time the picture was taken. The frame was covered in dust.
As he was looking at the picture, Gosalyn and Leland walked into the room slowly. They weren't sure what to make of this strange man. Feeling their presence, the jungle man turned towards them, and just looked at them.
"Did either of you roll a five or an eight?" he asked.
Both Gosalyn and Leland were a little startled that this man spoke English. Gosalyn swallowed, and nodded.
"He did," she said, indicating Leland.
The jungle man let out a shriek of joy. He ran to the kids, picked up Leland, and swung him around.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you!" he shouted, finally putting Leland down. "I'm sorry if I scared you both, but I am just so relieved to be back!"
"Back?" Gosalyn asked. But the strange jungle man was long gone. He had run down the stairs, fast as lightning. Leland and Gosalyn followed.
"Fried!" the man cried out. "Fried, where are you? I'm back! It's me, Will! Bette? Michael? Are you here?"
The jungle man ran around the hall and came back to the stairway. Gosalyn and Leland were standing there, staring at him.
"Oh, hello," the jungle man said.
"Are you . . . ." Gosalyn started nervously. "Wilhelm Westerman?"
"Yes, but most people call me Will," the jungle man said. "Who are you?"
"I'm Gosalyn, and this is Leland. We . . . . we live here now."
"What? Where's Fried, then?"
"We don't know," Gosalyn said. "We only moved in a few days ago. The realtor said that this house has been empty for years, and everyone thought you were dead."
Will looked startled. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. He ran outside to have a look around. Gosalyn and Leland followed.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean it like that!" Gosalyn called out.
"Where are you going?" Leland called.
"To find my brother!" Will shouted.
Gosalyn and Leland ran after him. They knew Will had lived there fourteen years ago, and things have probably changed since he was last in this town. He didn't know what he was going to get himself into, but the kids knew.
Will ran down the street, looking around. Nothing looked familiar to him. There were stores that he had never seen before in his life, and homeless people scattered around everywhere in the street. Some of them were looking at him as if he were crazy. He ran through the park, trying to find something familiar. Gosalyn and Leland managed to catch up with him, but Will took off running again.
"Mr. Westerman! Wait!" Gosalyn called out.
"Slow down!" Leland shouted.
Will continued to run. The kids were right on his heels. Finally, Will came to Friedhelm's old factory. It looked like it had been abandoned for years. He went inside, and started looking around. All the old machines were gone. Windows were broken. It was deserted. The only things there were empty boxes and scraps of cloth and thread, laying amid the dust covering the floors.
"My brother used to design and make clothes in this factory," Will said to the kids, who had finally arrived at the factory. "And they were the best in all of New England."
Will looked up at a window, and saw someone there. He thought it could have been Friedhelm, and he ran upstairs as fast as he could. The kids followed. Will threw open the door, and saw a man sitting there by a fireplace. A yellow Labrador retriever was with him, and she got up and growled a little.
"Oh," Will said, a bit disappointed. "Forgive me, I thought you were someone else. Tell me, tell me, what happened to the factory?"
"It closed down awhile ago," the man said.
"Why? What for?"
"Well, Friedhelm Westerman had a big fight with his brother Wilhelm, and his nephew, and Wilhelm just up and left, and the nephew said he never wanted to come back to this town again. Not after Wilhelm just up and left. Friedhelm put everything he had into trying to find his brother to make amends with him. He wanted to make up with Wilhelm more than anything, and he stopped coming into work after awhile."
Will couldn't believe what he was hearing. Every time Will and Friedhelm had a fight, Friedhelm would never be the one to try to make up. Things eventually blew over between their fights, but the one they had on the night Will was sucked into the board game was their biggest yet.
"Tell me, do you know if Friedhelm Westerman is still around?" he asked.
"I see him every now and then," the man said. "Over on Freemont Street."
Will suddenly went white. He ran to Freemont Street as fast as he could. He knew it well. It was where the old cemetery was. Gosalyn and Leland followed. Will was standing by a grave, marked Friedhelm Westerman. Will knelt down beside it, and said nothing. Gosalyn didn't quite know what to say, but she did know how it felt to lose someone close. Leland did, too.
"My mom and both of Leland's parents are dead, too," Gosalyn said, finally.
"It's hard, isn't it?" Will asked. Then he got up, and started walking away. Gosalyn groaned.
"There he goes again," she said. "Come on, Leland."
Leland followed Gosalyn, and they managed to catch up with Will.
"Listen, I know you're upset, and I don't blame you," Gosalyn said. "But I think we should finish the game."
"We?" Will asked, giving Gosalyn a look.
"Yeah, just in case some more scary stuff comes out, you know how to handle it, we don't. Besides that, there's a lion in my dad's bedroom, and how the heck am I gonna explain it when he gets home?"
"I hope he's not allergic to cats."
Sirens started blaring as the trio made it to the street. An ambulance was racing down the road, and a blue Pontiac came barreling down the other side, and collided with it. One of the paramedics ran out of the ambulance and checked on the driver.
"Hey, we need the wheels!" he yelled. "Looks like another one of those bites!"
The other medic came out of the ambulance and helped his partner load the woman onto the stretcher. The woman was twitching like crazy.
"Yeah, it's another one," the second medic said. "That makes the total count over fifty. Wonder what's going on."
Will began to look a little worried. Then he heard it. He scanned the skies for a moment and turned to the kids.
"Get in the car," he demanded. "Both of you. Hurry!"
Both Gosalyn and Leland dove into the car. Will jumped into the driver's seat, and locked the door.
"This is extremely important," Will said. "What came out of the game before I did?"
"The lion, an army of monkeys," Gosalyn said, thinking. "And . . . . and . . . ."
"That!" Leland suddenly screamed, pointing out the window. There was one of the giant mosquitoes that he and Gosalyn had encountered in the attic. Gosalyn let out a shriek as well. Will took a deep breath. He was going to remain calm.
"All right, all right," he said. "Don't panic. It's all right. It's just a bug. He can't get in this car. We're fine."
Suddenly, the mosquito's stinger came through the top of the convertible. Gosalyn let out a scream, and Leland began biting his nails out of sheer nervousness. Will continued to stay calm. Someone had to keep a cool head in this situation.
"No need to worry," he said. "He can't get in that way too far. Just stay low, and it will be fine."
When the mosquito realized he wasn't getting anywhere through the roof of the car, he flew to the windshield. Fear and panic began to wash over the two kids. Will was getting a little nervous himself, but he managed to remain calm.
"It's all right," he said. "He can't get through the glass. We're fine."
The mosquito began to peck at the glass just then, harder and harder until it cracked the windshield, and squeezed it's stinger through. Will nodded, and turned to the kids.
"Do either of you know how to drive?" he asked. He was met with two blank stares. "No? Well, all right. No problem, no problem at all. I'll just . . . . well, it shouldn't be too hard."
Will may have been a world traveler, and he knew plenty of ways to get around. He just never learned to drive a car, that was the problem. But he had seen Friedhelm do it a million times, and he had seen Bette do it as well, so he figured how hard could it be.
"Better buckle up," Gosalyn whispered to Leland as she pulled the seatbelt over her lap, and Leland's as well. Leland took the belt, and stuck it into the buckle.
Will slammed on the gas pedal, and the car took off like a shot, speeding down the road. They almost hit another car coming down the opposite side, but they managed to make it back to Westerman Hall in one piece. Gosalyn and Leland were scared to death after that ride.
"There, see?" Will said. "No problem at all."
"To think I used to pay money for rides like that," Gosalyn said, as Leland unbuckled the seatbelt. The trio went inside the house, and looked over the mess.
"Definitely monkeys," Will groaned. "They have no manners whatsoever."
"Hey, Mr. Westerman . . . ." Gosalyn started, holding up the game box. Will backed away from it, as if it possessed great evil.
"Keep that away from me!" he yelled.
"But Mr. Westerman! You have to help us! My dad's gonna be home any minute!"
"Then you can tell him he is the ex-owner of this house. My brother and I shared ownership in it, and I intend to keep living in it."
Will then walked into another room, and closed the door. Gosalyn and Leland stood outside, waiting for him to come out. It took about an hour, but Will finally emerged, wearing one of his more eccentric outfits. His hair and beard looked a little shorter, but not much.
"I thought you were shaving," Gosalyn said.
"And I did," Will said, and left it at that.
"Well, listen, about the game," Gosalyn said. "How about if Leland and I play, and you watch?"
"I have seen it before," Will said. "And I don't care to see it again, thank you very much."
"But Mr. Westerman!" Gosalyn shouted.
"Forget it, Gosalyn," Leland said. "He's not gonna help us. He's too scared."
"I beg your pardon, young man?" Will asked, not sure if he heard right.
"I said you were scared," Leland shrugged. "It's okay, though. Everybody's scared of at least something. Come on, Gosalyn, let's go set it up and get it finished before your dad gets back and slaughters us."
"I don't think you know what you're getting yourself into, child."
"Well, whatever it is, we can handle it, Mr. Westerman. We handled the mosquitoes and we handled the monkeys, so I think we're okay. We don't need you."
Leland was about to leave the room when Will lifted his walking stick, hooked Leland's suspenders, and pulled him back.
"You most certainly do not know what you're getting into, boy," he said, a bit ominously. "If you think the lion, the monkeys, and the mosquitoes are scary, well, that's just the half of it. This is only the beginning. I have seen things that you have only seen in your nightmares, and then some. You can't even see them. They hunt you, and they stop at nothing until they catch you. And when they do, they show no mercy. And in the jungle, no one can hear you scream. And you think I'm scared now? You listen to me, child, you don't know what scared is! You will not last even two minutes without my help."
"So . . . ." Leland said, gulping. "Are you gonna help us?"
"I'll watch," Will said, and he started towards the living room.
"Whoa," Gosalyn said, once he was gone. "How'd you do that?"
"Reverse psychology," Leland said. "My dad used to pull it on me and my brother all the time."
"And everybody said you were nothing but a brainless dope. Who knew you knew something? You're smarter than you look."
"Thanks. I think."
Gosalyn and Leland went into the living room and sat down. Will was walking around, shutting the doors and locking the windows. Gosalyn picked up the dice, shook them, and threw them, but nothing happened. She shrugged and tried again. Still nothing.
"Something's wrong," she said. "It's not working."
"What?" Will asked, coming over.
"Look," Gosalyn said, taking the dice again. She rolled a third time, and, for a third time, nothing happened. Will got a good look at the game board.
"Oh great Gatsby," he groaned. "It's not working because it's not your turn. See, these two pieces are yours, and these other two pieces . . . . . this one's mine. You're playing the game I started fourteen years ago, and now I'm going to have to play."
Gosalyn shrugged, picked up the dice, and held them out to Will.
"It's not my turn," he said.
"Who's turn is it then?" Gosalyn asked.
"Michael's. My nephew."
Gosalyn and Leland looked at each other. There was only one Michael they knew of, but ten to one, it wouldn't be the same one.
"I don't know if we can help you," Gosalyn said. "The only Michael I know is my dad's friend Mike. But I don't think he's your Michael."
"Probably not," Will said. "The world is full of Michaels. If anything, my nephew could be back in Texas, running a string of oil wells or something along those lines."
"Texas?" Leland asked.
"Yes, my nephew, Michael was born in Texas," Will said. "Though he and his mother frequently visited. His parents were divorced when Michael was quite young so this was somewhat of a second home to him."
"Quick!" Gosalyn shouted. "Do you remember his last name?"
"Why of course I do!" Will shouted, feeling a little insulted that this little girl didn't think he knew his favorite nephew's full name.
"It was Nesmith," he said. "Robert Michael Nesmith."
"We know where he is!" Leland shouted, jumping to his feet. "Come on!"
Both Leland and Gosalyn grabbed Will by the hands and practically dragged him out the door. They had to get to the motel and fast. They raced up to Mike's room, and Gosalyn began banging on the door.
"Mike! Mike! Mike!" she yelled.
"Mike, please, are you in there?" Leland asked.
"Yeah, I'm in here," Mike, who had absolutely no patients for kids, said. He didn't open the door, either. "Whattaya want?"
"We need you to come out here," Gosalyn said. "It's an emergency!"
"Can't you go to your dad?" Mike grumbled. He liked Gosalyn okay, but he would rather have a root canal without any Novocain, and his teeth drilled with a seventy horse power drill in the same day as that root canal than baby-sit Gosalyn and her friends, and Gosalyn knew it.
"Dad's not home yet," Gosalyn said.
"Besides, we really need you!" Leland shouted.
Mike groaned. He finally got around to opening the door, but only a crack. He didn't feel like letting anyone in at this time.
"This had better be important," he said. "You know how I feel about baby-sittin', Gosalyn."
"Michael?" Will asked, suddenly. "Michael Nesmith?"
"Do I know you?" Mike asked, finally opening the door all the way. He looked at Will strangely. He wasn't sure, but he felt as if he knew this man.
"Fourteen years ago," Will said, not bothering to introduce himself. "You started playing a board game with an uncle of yours. A game with drums, and tokens that moved by themselves."
"How . . . . how do you know that?" Mike asked, starting to get a little freaked out.
"I was there," Will said. "I was that uncle."
"Uncle Will? Uhh . . . . Uncle W-Wilhem W-westerman?"
Mike just stood there, wide-eyed, and slack-jawed. His mouth went dry all of a sudden. All Will could do was nod.
"Yes, Michael," he said. "It's me. Uncle Will."
And with that, Mike's eyes rolled back in their sockets, and he hit the floor with a thud. Will, Gosalyn, and Leland just looked at him.
"Hmmm," Will said, thoughtfully. "He took it better than I thought he would."
Mike came to a little while later at Westerman Hall. The minute he regained consciousness, he dashed for the phone, and dialed it as fast as he could.
"Pick up, pick up, pick up," he mumbled under his breath. But all he got was an answering machine.
"You have reached the office of Dr. Wiesbaden," the recorded voice said. "Please leave a message and the doctor will get back to you."
"Uhh, Dr. Wiesbaden, this is Mike Nesmith," Mike said, once he heard the beep. "Really, if you could call me the minute you're able to, please, give me a call back. I think I need to have my medication checked, because that, uhh, event with the board game that, you know, never really happened, well, it's happenin' again. The thing is I'm out of town, so if you could just call home, and leave a message with my wife, and she'll pass it along to me I guess."
Mike heaved a sigh, and hung up the phone.
"My therapist," he explained. "He never picks it up, and it'll probably take awhile before he gets back to me. Or back to Phyllis, dependin' on if he's gonna try to call her or call here, or whatever."
"Well, while we're waiting . . . ." Will said, opening the box.
"Whoa no!" Mike yelled, jumping to his feet. "No, no, no, no! I have been through fourteen years of intensive therapy, and electroshock treatments for ten of those fourteen years, fryin' my braincells to the brink of insanity, convincin' myself that the game doesn't exist! It's not real! It's not real!"
"Michael, relax," Will said. "Calm down, it is real. It is real."
"No, oh no. Uncle Fried murdered you, and he chopped you up into little bitty pieces, and he hid those pieces in the walls of the house and . . . ."
"Oh Michael! You knew Fried! He could barely hug someone let alone kill someone! Now just calm down. We're all going to sit down and finish the game, all right? We'll just finish the game. And you know what? It's your turn."
Will handed Mike the dice. Mike bit his lower lip, and moaned. He held the dice in his hand, and shook his head.
"I can't do this," he said. "I really can't do this. I can't. I can't."
"All right," Will said. "Then just give me the dice, and you can go back to your motel."
"Okay," Mike said.
Will held out his hand to take the dice, but just as Mike dropped them, Will moved his hand away, and the dice hit the game board. Mike was ready to kill his uncle for pulling that on him.
"How could you do that to me?!" he screamed. "Me! Your favorite!"
"It's the law of the jungle, Michael, my boy," Will said. "You'll get used to it."
Mike moaned as his piece moved. Gosalyn looked at the dome, and turned to him.
"Go on," she said. "Read what it says, Mike."
"They grow much faster than bamboo," he read, shakily. "Take care or they'll come after you. Ooohhhh, sounds just like the bat incident."
Suddenly, small chips from the ceiling began to fall onto the game. The foursome looked up, and saw a creeping vine making it's way into the house through whatever openings it could find, including the electrical sockets.
"Oh great Gatsby," Will said.
"Not again," Mike moaned. "Uncle Will, please, please, please tell me this isn't happenin!"
"Oh, it's happening," Will said, as he grabbed Gosalyn's and Leland's hands. "Everybody stay away from the walls, don't touch anything, and don't make any sudden movements."
The vines began to grow more rapidly. One made it's way under the rug, but no one noticed it. They were all too busy looking at the vines growing from the walls and the ceiling. The vines stopped after awhile, and a purple flower blossomed from one of them.
"Wow," Leland said, completely awestruck.
"Yes, it is quite beautiful," Will said. "But very dangerous. Do not touch the purple ones, they shoot poisonous barbs. But they're nothing compared to the pods. The big yellow ones, those are really dangerous."
"Ummm, what big yellow pods?" Mike asked.
Suddenly, the vine that was crawling under the rug wrapped itself around Gosalyn's ankle, and pulled her down. Then it started dragging her across the floor. Will grabbed her hand, and held her back as Mike and Leland raced over to help. A grate opened, and there was a huge, yellow plant in it. Leland let out a shriek of terror when he saw it, and nearly let go of Gosalyn.
"I take it that's the pod!" Mike yelled.
"I'll be right back!" Will shouted, and he ran off.
"Hurry!" Mike, Gosalyn, and Leland screamed in unison.
Will ran into the den, and grabbed a glass box, containing a sword belonging to Friedhelm. Will dropped the box on the floor, causing it to smash. He then grabbed the sword and ran out to the plant. He sliced the vine with the sword, and the monster plant shrunk back into the grate, somewhat whimpering. Due to their pulling, Mike, Leland, and Gosalyn stumbled backwards, and crashed to the floor. All three of them were breathing heavily.
"Whew," Mike said. "You kids okay?"
"Yeah," Gosalyn said. "Yeah I'm okay."
Leland just nodded. He was too terrified to speak. Mike got up, helped the kids to their feet, and followed Will into the other room. Will was barricading the doors with the vines, thinking that would keep everything out. Mike figured he was preoccupied with that, so he made a mad dash for the door, wanting to get the heck out of Westerman Hall before anything else happened.
"Oh no you don't, Michael!" Will shouted, running after his nephew. He caught up to him, and proceeded to drag him back to the game.
"We're not through yet," he said.
"Oh yeah, well I am!" Mike yelled. "I don't want nothin' more to do with this game, you hear me?! You're not my father, you know! You can't tell me what to do anymore, Uncle Will!"
Will didn't answer. He just took Mike into the dining room, and allowed him to sit down. He followed, and the kids set up the game. Mike then stood up for a minute.
"This could be a long game," he said. "I'm gonna go order some pizza."
Just as Mike was about to leave, Will slammed Friedhelm's sword into the floor. Nervously, Mike sat down, and turned to his uncle.
"Uncle Will, please don't make me go through with this," he pleaded. "The last time I played this, it ruined my life!"
"Ruined your life?" Will said, with a scoff. "Don't you remember in the jungle you must wait until the dice read five or eight? And you say it ruined your life?"
"I was only ten years old," Mike said. "I saw you get sucked into a board game. A bunch of bats came out of the fireplace and chased me down the street. Nobody believed me. Not even my mother. I was scared to death, and I was alone."
"So was I. For fourteen years."
Mike didn't say anything. He just sighed.
"It's okay, Mike," Gosalyn said. "We're scared too, right, Leland?"
"Oh yeah!" Leland shouted, nodding his head. "But Gosalyn says if we finish the game it will all go away."
"Right, but we have to finish it," Gosalyn said. "We can't stop."
Mike took a deep breath and nodded.
"Okay," he said, quietly. "Okay, I'll do it."
"Good," Will replied. "We'll just have to keep our heads. This won't be a problem. Not at all."
Will took the dice, shook them, and rolled them across the table. His piece moved, and the words began to form. Will began to look a little nervous, and he stood up.
"A hunter from the darkest wilds," he said. "Makes you feel just like a child. Oh great Gatsby."
"What's the matter?" Gosalyn asked.
"Van Claussen," Will said.
"Who?" Mike asked.
At that moment, a gunshot was heard, and the window had been blown out. The two kids screamed, and dove under the table. Mike went down too, after Will pushed him. Will got up and ran out of the room as fast as he could. The door swung open, and there stood a hunter, holding a rifle.
"Come back here, Westerman, you coward!" he yelled.
Van Claussen spotted Will and fired his gun. Will ran as fast as he could, and stopped at the front door, holding Friedhelm's sword up. Van Claussen came in, and was about to fire when Will threw the sword. It hit Van Claussen's gun, which caused the bullet to hit the ceiling. Will took that chance to race out of the house. Van Claussen followed.
"Ready or not, here I come!" he shouted.
Will ran down the street, trying to avoid getting shot. Van Claussen continued chasing and shooting, until he had apparently ran out of ammo. Will was hoping for that. By that time, he was out of range anyway. As he was rounding back towards the house, Mike and the kids were watching what was going on from the window.
"Uncle Will does this stuff all the time," Mike explained. "He travels, he goes on trips, he makes friends, and once or twice, he makes an enemy, and it's just like his style to make an enemy out of a mad man with a gun."
"Who's turn is it?" Will said, coming back into the house, and startling everyone else.
"Mine," Gosalyn said, a bit curtly.
"How come you didn't tell us there was a mad hunter in there?" Mike asked.
"Well, I didn't know," Will said, slightly perturbed. "It's the roll of the dice."
"Is he the reason you didn't want to play?" Leland asked, as he and Gosalyn went back to the table. Mike gave his uncle a look.
"You didn't to play, either?!" he shouted. "Mr. We Started Somethin' Fourteen Years Ago and Now We Gotta Finish It?!"
Will didn't answer. So Mike continued.
"What's with this maniac anyway?" he asked.
"I don't know," Will said. "He's a hunter. He hunts, he kills. That's what he does, and he wants to hunt me."
"I don't have the slightest idea. Maybe he needs a new trophy or something."
Mike and Will began arguing over the whole thing. Gosalyn and Leland looked at them, and then at each other.
"Your turn," Leland said.
Gosalyn took the dice and turned towards Mike and Will, who were still yelling at each other.
"What I don't understand is why you just don't use your influence on this guy or your magic!" Mike yelled.
"Are you crazy, Michael?!" Will shouted. "The man has a gun!"
"Hey! Don't you ever call me crazy, Uncle Will. Ever! Everyone in this town has called me crazy ever since I told everyone that you were sucked into a board game. Uncle Fried called me crazy, Mom called me crazy, everybody in this town and back in Texas called me crazy!"
"Maybe I should just roll," Gosalyn said. Leland nodded.
"You think you're so smart because you've been around for I don't know how long!" Mike yelled.
"Always the stubborn one," Will grumbled. "You're just like your mother in that regard, Michael, stubborn as a mule!"
"Me stubborn?! You're more stubborn than I am, Uncle Will!"
"Hello? I'm rolling now!" Gosalyn called out.
Neither Mike nor Will answered. They were still arguing with each other.
"Just roll," Leland said.
Gosalyn heaved a sigh, and tossed the dice. Once her piece moved, she and Leland looked at the dome, and started to read what it was forming.
"Don't be fooled, it isn't thunder," she read. "Staying put would be a blunder."
Both kids looked a little confused at that. They had no idea what was going to happen now. A rumble was heard, which sounded a lot like thunder, but something was telling Gosalyn it wasn't thunder. Will and Mike stopped arguing as they heard it too.
"What's that?" Mike asked.
Will walked over to a bookshelf, and noticed it was rattling. A small bust of Mozart was shaking like crazy, and fell off the shelf, smashing to pieces. The books began to fall to the floor as well. Gosalyn stood up, feeling a little nervous. Mike was getting that feeling in his sixth sense. Leland was chewing on his knuckles. None of them liked the sound of this.
"Run!" Will yelled at the top of his voice. "It's a stampede!"
Mike let out a panicked scream, and took off, with the kids hot on his heels. Will grabbed the game, and made a mad dash after them, just as herds of rhinoceroses, elephants, zebras, and other jungle animals smashed through the book case, and ran down the hallways, and smashing things in their path. The foursome came to an opening to another room, and ran in as fast as they could. All the animals continued to go in one direction. The group breathed of relief for a moment, until a pelican flew in, and landed right in front of them. He was eyeing the board game. Will raised his arms and tried to frighten the bird away.
"Yaaahhh!" he cried, trying to sound ferocious.
The pelican paid no attention. He just grabbed the game and flew off. Will chased after him, but it was no use.
"Cursed bird!" he yelled, and ran out of the house. "Why didn't you grab the game, Leland?!"
Mike glared after his uncle, and put his hand on Leland's shoulder.
"Ignore that, kid, he's got a temper as bad as mine," he said. "Hey, Uncle Will! Where are you goin'?!"
"The bird will head for water!" Will called back. "We'll head him off at the pass."
"Oh brother," Mike groaned. "Come on, you guys."
Mike and Leland started to follow Will, when the phone rang. Gosalyn went back and picked it up.
"Hello?" Gosalyn asked.
"Gosalyn, it's me," Drake said. "Mrs. Kaiser called me at the arena and told me you and Leland never showed up at her house. Where have you been?"
"Oh, I'm sorry, luv, you have the wrong numbah," Gosalyn said, putting on a fake British accent that she had picked up from Davy. She hung up the phone and raced after Mike and Leland. In her haste, she didn't notice the creeping vine coming out from underneath the rubble the stampeding animals had created.
Elsewhere in town, Van Claussen had come across a gun shop. This was exactly what he needed. He walked inside, and came to the man behind the desk.
"I shall need a gross of these," he said, giving him the empty shell from his gun.
"I hate to tell ya this, pal," the clerk said. "But they don't make these anymore."
"Then I need a replacement weapon."
"Yeah, okay, well, there's a waiting period, and you'll have to fill out these forms."
Just as the clerk put the forms on the desk, the man took several gold coins out of his pocket, and placed them on top of the forms. The clerk nodded, and took the forms away.
"Or I could fill these out," he said. "Wait one minute."
The clerk walked out from behind the desk, and flipped the sign on the door to closed. Then he took a gun out from under the desk, and handed it to Van Claussen.
"Just remember, if anyone asks," he said. "You didn't get this here, okay?"
Van Claussen took the gun, and aimed it. It was perfect. He would have no trouble hunting Will down now.
Meanwhile, Mike, Gosalyn, and Leland were walking around the woods, looking for Will.
"Uncle Will!" Mike yelled. "Where are you?!"
"Shhh!" Will hissed from a rock. He had cornered the pelican and was ready to grab the game, when the pelican lunged, trying to take a chunk out of Will's arm.
"All right, if that's the way you want it," Will said. He plunged his hand into the river, and pulled out a fish. He threw it to the pelican, who caught it in his beak, and kicked the game into the river. Will tried to make a grab for it, but it was no use. The river was moving much too fast.
"Now what do we do?" Mike asked.
"I have an idea!" Leland shouted, and he ran off down the river.
"There's a first," Gosalyn said, and she and Mike followed him.
Will ran after the game trying to catch it. It was going to be easier said than done. Luckily, Leland was ahead of it, and he climbed onto a fallen tree that passed over the river. He wrapped his tail around the tree, and let himself hang upside down over the river. When the game came by, he reached down and grabbed it. Then he rested it on the branches, swung himself over the tree, took the game, and climbed down. The others ran over to him.
"Whoa!" Gosalyn shouted. "Majorly impressive, Leland!"
"Yeah, who knew you knew somethin'?" Mike said with a shrug.
"Good work," Will said, taking the game. "Come along. Let's go."
Mike shrugged, and he and the kids followed Will out of the woods. What the foursome didn't know was that Van Claussen was tracking them down.
As the foursome was walking, a police car came down the road. Will didn't like the looks of it.
"Act natural," he said. "And hide the game."
The police car stopped, and the officer came out of the car.
"You know," he said to the Will. "I just heard about some really weird things coming from the old Westerman place, and you look like one of those weirdo Westermans that used to live there."
"Well, I am a Westerman," Will said. "And I do live at Westerman Hall."
"Yeah, and you're coming in for questioning," the cop said. "I've gotten calls about wild animals running amuck around town, all coming out of the Westerman place, and some psycho with a gun coming out of the Westerman place . . . . this is just too weird."
"Hold it, hold it," Mike said. "You can't take him in. He's my uncle and . . . ."
"I don't care if he's the pope," the cop said.
"Hey! Don't you even know who this is?!" Gosalyn shouted. "This is Mike Nesmith of the Monkees!"
"Oh really, Mike Nesmith of the Monkees," the cop said, obviously not impressed. "Big, fat, hairy deal!"
Will was about ready to blast this guy when another blast was fired. Will looked up in the direction it was coming from, and spotted Van Claussen on a hill, aiming a gun right at him.
"Uhh, why don't we finish the game a little later, eh, Michael?" Will asked.
"What?!" Mike yelled, shocked.
"Trust me on this, Michael," Will said. Then he mouthed "Van Claussen" to him, and Mike nodded.
Will climbed into the police car, and the cop drove off. Mike and the kids watched it go.
"Now what?" she asked.
"Beats me," Mike replied. "We can't finish the game without Uncle Will. Let's just head back into town or somethin' and bail Uncle Will out."
Gosalyn and Leland shrugged, and they walked down the road. It was about all they could do. Once they got into town, they noticed people running around in a state of terror.
"What's going on?" Leland asked.
"Apparently, there's a sale goin' on," Mike said. Before anything else could happen, a motorcycle came speeding by. Mike jumped backwards to avoid getting hit by it. It was being driven by three monkeys.
"Did you see three monkeys on a motorcycle go by?" he asked.
"Yeah," Gosalyn said, nodding.
Gosalyn gave Mike a weird look, and she and Leland followed him to an ATM machine, which was out of service.
"We may have to go to the house and root through your dad's stuff for his wallet," Mike said to Gosalyn. "Because I know I don't have any cash on me, and I doubt we can bail Uncle Will out with a check."
As Mike was contemplating what to do, Van Claussen showed up, and yanked the game right out of Leland's hands.
"You can tell that sniveling coward Westerman," he said. "That if he wants this back . . . ."
Before Van Claussen could say another word, a stampede of people came racing between him, and Mike and the kids. Leland took a chance, grabbed the game back, and ran for it, weaving in between the running people. He was nearly run over by oncoming cars, but he managed to dodge them. Then he saw what everybody was running from. It was the stampede that came out of the game! Leland dove into one of the cars someone abandoned, and crawled onto the floor, just as a herd of elephants climbed onto it and crushed it as they ran over it. Van Claussen came up to the car just then, ignoring the panic stricken people around him. He grabbed the game and tried to pull it away from Leland, but the ten-year-old hung onto it.
"Give me that, you little wretch!" Van Claussen shouted, as he finally yanked it out of Leland's hands and walked away with it.
"Hey!" Leland yelled. "Mike! Gosalyn! Get me out of here!"
Mike and Gosalyn ran over and pulled Leland out of the wreck. Mike looked up and saw Van Claussen was heading right for a convenience store called J-Mart.
"Come on!" he shouted to the kids, and the three of them followed Van Claussen into the store.
The trio walked around the aisles for awhile, trying to locate the game. They came to the toy section.
"There it is!" Gosalyn shouted, pointing to the check out desk.
"Okay," Mike said. "You two stay here. I'm gonna go get the game."
Gosalyn and Leland took a couple of steps back, and Mike slowly made his way for the game, before somebody else could grab it. The minute he grabbed it, however, someone grabbed his wrists, and Van Claussen came up from behind the desk.
"Well now, Sonny Jim," he said. "Once Westerman finds out about this, he should come running."
"You know, my uncle doesn't even know I'm here," Mike said, a little nervously. "So this plan ain't gonna work!"
Mike wouldn't have normally been nervous, but this maniac had a gun, and he was not stupid enough to mess with a mad man with a gun! Van Claussen didn't acknowledge Mike, and fired his gun at the ceiling. The people in the store began to scream and one.
"Someone call the cops!" somebody yelled.
"That should do it, don't you think?" Van Claussen asked.
"Oh yeah, it should," Mike said, nodding.
Gosalyn and Leland couldn't stand it any longer. They ran up to Van Claussen, and Gosalyn immediately kicked him in the shin as hard as she could. Leland swung his tail around and whacked Van Claussen in the other shin. Van Claussen screamed in pain and let go of Mike. Mike grabbed the game, and he and the kids raced off down an aisle.
In the meantime, the cop who had arrested Will was still driving along. He had heard about the monkeys on the rampage, and the stampeding animals.
"If you really are one of those weirdo Westermans," he said. "Then you should know what's going on here!"
"You're right," Will said. "I do know what's going on. But believe me, you wouldn't believe me even if I told you. Listen, if you let me go, I can put a stop to all these weird things that's going on."
"Well . . . ." the cop said, a little hesitantly. "All right, but I know I'll regret it."
The cop unlocked the handcuffs. In one quick move, Will locked one half of them around the cop's wrist, and the other half on the car door.
"Hey!" the cop shouted. "Hey, what are you doing?!"
"Sorry," Will said. "But the less outsiders get involved in this the better. And now, I must be off."
"Wait a minute! You can't leave me like this!"
Will was no longer listening. He started running off to join Mike and the kids when the police radio went off.
"Code Red situation at J-Mart involving young man in his early twenties and two children. There is an armed man wearing khakis and a pith helmet."
Will stopped short, and ran back to the police car, and climbed in, pushing the cop over.
"What's J-Mart?" he asked.
"A convenience store," the cop said.
"You're going to have to tell me how to get there, and we need to get there fast."
"Uh, okay, I guess. It's on fifth and Elm."
"Fifth and Elm? That's where the church is."
"It's not a church anymore, now it's a discount store. Or it was, I don't know what the heck is left of it. Let me tell ya, people in this town are going completely whacko!"
"Believe me, I know."
In the meantime, Van Claussen was still firing off his gun, trying to chase down Mike, who was trying to avoid the bullets, and keep his hands on the game at the same time. Gosalyn and Leland were pulling things off shelves and creating some kind of booby trap with them. Their equipment included a canoe, an air tank, and laundry detergent. Gosalyn took the detergent and emptied it all over the floor. She was about to run for it when she came across Van Claussen. She turned around and ran. Van Claussen was about to chase after her, when he stepped into the detergent and started sliding. That gave Gosalyn a chance to make a break for it. Once Van Claussen regained his composure, he looked around and saw Leland sitting behind a weight lifting machine. A dumbbell was resting above the air tank.
"Contact!" he shouted, as he pushed the dumbbell onto the air tank.
The air inside the tank was released, and shot the canoe like a rocket towards Van Claussen, who couldn't avoid it. The canoe crashed into him, and he fell into it, sailing across the store, smashing right through a wall. Mike and the kids regrouped, and started for the exit.
"Let's get outta here!" he shouted.
Unfortunately, Van Claussen was coming out of the wall he had crashed through and began firing.
"This is not good," Mike said.
Van Claussen held his gun at Mike and the kids, but at that moment, Will and the officer came barreling into the store, crashing through the window, and plowing through a shelf of stuffed animals, and then they ran straight into a shelf filled with paint cans, which Van Claussen was standing right next to. The cans toppled over on him, along with the shelf. Once he was dispatched, Mike grabbed the game. Will ran over to him and the kids.
"Michael, are you and the kids all right?" he asked.
"Yeah," Mike said. "Let's get back to your place and finish this thing before anythin' else happens!"
The others couldn't agree more, and took off. They reached Westerman Hall, and started walking up the front steps.
"I'm startin' to get a bad feelin' about this," Mike said, holding his hand to his right temple.
"So am I," Will said. "But we have to finish this game. No matter what."
Will opened the front door, and saw a mess of vines in the front hall, which made it look like the deepest, darkest jungle.
"I don't think we're in Kansas anymore, Toto," Gosalyn commented.
"I'm starting to feel right at home," Will said, once he got over the shock.
The foursome set up the game and sat down. Mike took the dice, and shook them nervously.
"I don't think I can handle this," he said. "Dontcha think we should play somewhere else?"
"I lived in this for fourteen years," Will said. "Trust me, Michael, I know what I'm doing."
"Hey, Mike," Gosalyn said. "If you roll a twelve, you win."
"Well, then, come on boxcars!" Mike shouted, as he tossed the dice. He ended up rolling a three.
"Rats," he muttered. Then he leaned forward to read what the game had to "say" next.
"Every month at the quarter moon, they'll be a monsoon in your lagoon," he read. "Monsoon, huh? Well . . . . at least we're inside."
A split second later, lightning flashed from inside the house and thunder crashed. Leland let out a scream, and latched himself onto Mike. A cloud formed at the ceiling, and it began to pour down rain. Mike just clicked his tongue against his teeth.
"Well, a little rain never hurt anyone," he said, as he pried Leland's fingers out of his shirt.
"A little, no, but a lot can kill you!" Will shouted, folding up the game. "Come along, everyone! Follow me! We must get to higher ground!"
Mike and the kids got up and followed Will down the hallway and up the stairs, which was starting to resemble a waterfall, thanks to the indoor storm. The entire house was filling up with water.
"Cool," Gosalyn said, as she watched.
"It won't be so cool if we all drown!" Leland shouted, clinging to Mike's arm.
Suddenly, a tidal wave came down the stairs, and washed the foursome into the lake that was once the front hall. They all surfaced, and practically gasped for breath.
"Everybody all right?" Will asked. "Gosalyn, Leland, are you two okay?"
"Yeah," Gosalyn said. "I think so."
"Michael?" Will asked, looking at his nephew. "Michael, are you all right?"
"Uhh, Uncle Will?" Mike asked, looking at something in the water. "What's that?"
Will looked in the direction Mike was looking at and saw something large, green, and scaly swimming in the water. Will let out a scream and began swimming.
"Swim for it!" he shouted.
Mike and the kids screamed themselves and swam for it. The large creature Mike had seen in the water was a crocodile. A table rose to the surface, and Will grabbed it. Mike swam to it as fast as he could. He and Will first got the kids onto it, and then they climbed on, but the crocodile was coming fast, snapping his large jaws at them. Will spied the chandelier near by, and he and Mike hoisted the kids up onto it.
"You two stay there," Will said.
"Awesome!" Gosalyn shouted. "A real crocodile!"
"Gosalyn, shut up!" Leland yelled.
"You're next, Michael," Will said, as he handed the game to Leland.
Mike was about to climb onto the chandelier, when the crocodile sank his teeth onto the end of the table. Mike slid down, screaming. The croc opened his jaws, ready to swallow Mike, but he managed to hold them open with his feet, although that alone was freaking him out.
"Mike!" Gosalyn shouted.
"Great Gatsby!" Will shouted.
"Uh, M-m-mister Westerman . . . ." Leland stammered, looking into the water on the other side of the chandelier.
"What is it?" Will asked. Suddenly, a second crocodile popped out of the water, jaws opened wide.
"Oh great Gatsby!" Will shouted. "There's only one thing to do!"
And with that, Will dove into the water. The kids were beyond stunned.
"I can't look!" Gosalyn shouted.
Will surfaced and jumped on the first crocodile's back, and began wrestling with it. This gave Mike a chance to climb up to the chandelier, although it was more of a scramble for it.
"Uncle Will!" he yelled. "Are you nuts?! You're gonna get killed!"
"It's all right, Michael!" Will shouted. "I've done this before! All you have to do is keep it's mouth shut! They have tremendous power in their jaws when they close them, but they're opening muscles aren't as great as the ones they use when they close them."
"I don't think I can watch this," Mike groaned.
At that moment, Drake pulled his car into the drive way, and practically raced out of it. He had seen the huge mess in town, and he wanted to make sure the kids were all right. He raced up the front porch, and tried to open the door, but he found it was stuck.
"Gosalyn! Leland!" he yelled, upon hearing screams inside. "Don't panic, Mallard. They probably just have the volume turned up on the TV. I've always wanted to do this."
Drake cracked his knuckles, and gave the door a good, swift kick. Little jets of water came shooting out before the pressure of the monsoon created a tidal wave, and knocked the doors right off it's hinges. Drake grabbed onto one of the doors, and used it as a floatation device to avoid drowning. Water rushed out of the house, and so did the crocodiles. Will was swimming against the tide, trying to avoid being washed away with them. Mike and the kids grabbed on to his hands, and pulled them towards the chandelier. A few moments later, all the water had washed out of the house, and flooded the streets. Once it was clear, Mike jumped down, and helped Leland down from the chandelier, and down to the floor, while Will helped Gosalyn down. He handed her the game, and turned to Mike.
"Well, how was that?" he asked.
"Pretty cool, Uncle Will," Mike said. "I didn't know you could wrestle alligators!"
"That was a crocodile, Michael. Alligators have wider snouts."
"Thank you, Steve Irwin," Gosalyn mumbled, and the foursome started up towards the attic.
Once up the stairs, Will looked around. There wasn't much damage done to the attic, except for the broken window when Gosalyn hit the mosquito out of it with the tennis racket. Once everyone was inside, Leland shut the door, although it closed with a SLAM! The others screamed, and practically jumped a mile.
"Don't do that," Mike said.
"Sorry," Leland said.
Will set up the game, and took the dice, and began shaking them.
"Wait, I got it!" Mike shouted. "Colonel Mustard in the library with the wrench!"
The others stared at the Texan Monkee as if he were completely insane. Mike just started laughing, and he looked at the others.
"You know, Clue," he said. "I was just tryin' to lighten the mood a little."
"It didn't work," Gosalyn said, glaring.
"I don't understand your sense of humor, Michael, I really don't," Will said, as he tossed the dice. A seven came up, and his token moved. Then he read the center of the game.
"Beware the ground on which you stand," he said. "The floor is quicker than the sand."
"That don't sound good," Mike said.
Suddenly, the floor became somewhat of a liquid state, and everything began sinking. Mike grabbed the game and tossed it to the side, and then he and the kids scrambled away as fast as they could. Will was still sinking, but he knew that if he struggled, it would only mean he would sink faster.
"All right, all right," he said. "No need to panic. If I just stay calm and don't struggle, everything will be fine."
Gosalyn groaned, grabbed the game and the dice, and shook them as hard as she could. She threw them onto the board so hard, they almost ricocheted off of it and bounced off the walls! She was waiting with baited breath as her piece moved across the board. Will was sinking fast. Mike grabbed a board and crawled onto it to his uncle. He reached his arms into the quicksand and grabbed onto him.
"I gotcha Uncle Will!" he shouted. "I don't know for how long, but I gotcha!"
Gosalyn looked at the center of the board, and read the words that were forming.
"There is a lesson you must learn," she said. "Sometimes you must go back a turn!"
Suddenly, the floor hardened, and turned back into a regular floor, although both Mike and Will were stuck in it.
"Thank you, Gosalyn," Will said, straining a bit. "Thank you. That was very quick thinking. Michael and I would like to get out of the floor now, so it's your turn, Leland."
Leland got up, picked up the dice and rolled them. His token started moving, and he looked at the center of the board.
"Need a hand, well you just wait," he read. "We'll help you out, we each have eight."
"What does that mean?" Gosalyn asked.
"I don't know, but it sure doesn't sound . . . . . AAAUUUGGGHHH!"
Gosalyn practically jumped a mile. She had never heard Leland shriek like that before! She turned around to see what had caused him to yell out, and saw an enormous spider hanging from the ceiling. Naturally, she let out a gigantic shriek of her own! The kids saw more of them crawling around on the floor, and continued screaming their lungs out! These spiders resembled small dogs!
"What's happening, what's going on?" Will asked.
"Nothing!" both Gosalyn and Leland shouted. They really didn't want to worry Will or Mike over this.
"You don't scream for nothin'!" Mike yelled, and then he saw one of the huge spiders. "Aaaahhhh!"
"Oh great Gatsby!" Will yelled. "Gosalyn, listen to me. My brother kept an axe in the woodshed. It's out back. I want you to go get it, and hurry!"
"Right!" Gosalyn shouted, and she raced out the door and down the stairs.
The spiders were crawling all over the place. Leland grabbed a broom and began smacking at them, hoping to either kill them, or at least knock them out of the way. He didn't know if they were poisonous, but he was not willing to take a chance that they weren't. One began poking it's legs at Mike's leg, until Leland gave it a good whack with the broom.
Meanwhile, Gosalyn raced down the stairs and was heading for the backyard. The minute she passed the front hallway, Drake came in, and looked around, seeing the vines and the destruction in the house. He couldn't have imagined what the kids had been doing.
"What the . . . ." he started. "Gosalyn! Leland! Where are you?!"
Gosalyn was racing towards the backyard. She found the woodshed, but also found a lock on it. But she wouldn't need to get inside it for the axe, anyway, since she found it laying next to the shed. She picked it up and raced back into the house. Drake was still wandering around, aware of screams coming from the attic.
"Gosalyn!" he called again. "Leland!"
Drake began to get a little panicked at what was going on. He looked up and saw Will's legs dangling in the ceiling. He let out a terrified shriek, and backed into the door of his room. Then he opened it and saw the lion that came out of the game earlier there. He screamed again and raced out of the room. By then he met up with Gosalyn, who was wielding an axe.
"Oh, hi, Dad," she said. "Listen I can't talk now, but I promise, I'll explain everything the minute this is over!"
Gosalyn began pushing her father towards the closet. She had to get him out of the way while she and the others finished the game.
"Gosalyn! Wait a minute!" Drake shouted. "What's going on here?!"
"Gotta go, Dad!" Gosalyn shouted, slamming the closet door and locking it. Then she raced back up to the attic.
"Michael!" Will shouted. "Michael, it's your turn! Roll a seven, and you win!"
"But I can't roll!" Mike yelled. "My hands are stuck in the floor!"
"Gosalyn said you were a psychic, Mike!" Leland shouted, as he whacked another spider. Roll the dice that way!"
"Okay," Mike said. "Bring the game over here, Lee."
Leland grabbed the game, but the minute he did, one of the purple flowers from before popped up out of the floor board. It immediately shot one of it's barbs out, and it hit Leland in the neck.
"Leland!" Gosalyn shouted, when she got up to the attic. She swung the axe, and hacked the flower off the vine. Leland yanked the barb out, and shook his head, trying to regain composure, but it was difficult.
"Are you okay?" Gosalyn asked, running over.
"Yeah," Leland nodded. "Go help Mike and Mr. Westerman."
Gosalyn took the axe and started whacking at the spiders. They kept dodging, but Gosalyn was just trying to keep them in check for the time being. Leland grabbed the game and brought it over to Mike and Will. Mike looked at the dice, and narrowed his eyes, concentrating as hard as he could. The dice were lifted into the air. Mike jiggled his head slightly, and then jerked it to one side. The dice flew onto the board. Leland stood up and backed away, watching Gosalyn try to smash the spiders. Suddenly, he fell to the floor, and the spiders began closing in. Gosalyn ran over, smacking the spiders away. Mike looked at the two kids, and then glanced at the board.
"You're almost there with much at stake," he moaned. "But now the ground begins to quake. Oh no!"
A spider then crawled up to Mike and Will just then, and both of them screamed. It was about to sink it's teeth in, when something began rumbling. Gosalyn wasn't a barrel of laughs herself. She had pulled Leland into a sitting position, but she wasn't sure if that was going to help him or not.
"I . . . . wish my . . . . parents were . . . . here," Leland said, shakily, before his eyes closed, and he nearly lost all consciousness.
"I wish my mom was here, too," Gosalyn said.
It was at that moment when the rumbling grew stronger, until things started to shake. The one good thing about that was the shaking scared off the spiders, but the foursome wasn't out of the woods yet.
"What is this? The San Andreas fault?!" Mike shouted.
"Great Gatsby!" Will yelled.
The house practically split in two due to the shaking. The good thing was Mike and Will were no longer trapped in the attic floor, but that didn't mean they weren't out of the woods yet.
"Our only chance is to finish the game!" Will yelled. Mike nodded and held onto his uncle's hands as tight as he could. The game was starting to teeter on the edge of the crack, and was about to fall at any minute.
"Michael!" Will yelled. "Michael grab the game!"
"No, Uncle Will!" Mike yelled. "I'm not gonna let you fall!"
The game fell just then, but when it hit the floor, all it did was fold up. Mike lost his grip on Will, and the older man started falling. Mike screamed in terror. Luckily, Will grabbed a vine, and began swinging on it, in sheer Tarzan fashion. Once he was close enough to the floor, he grabbed the game, and swung through the parlor window. When he landed, he unfolded the game and grabbed the dice.
"Don't move!" a voice commanded, and Will froze, looking up. Standing in front of him was none other than Van Claussen (covered in paint, though), aiming his gun.
"Stand up!" he demanded. Will stood up, and kept his hands where Van Claussen could see them, although Van Claussen noticed he was holding something.
"Whatever's in your hand," he said. "Drop it!"
Will shrugged, and dropped both of the dice to the game board. One of the dice came up as a one. The other bounced off the board, and started rolling down a hole in the floor. Will groaned inwardly.
"The game is over, Westerman," Van Claussen said. "Start running."
"I'm not going to run anymore," Will said. "I may be petrified right now, but I'm going to take the advice of my brother. The advice he gave my nephew a long time ago. To face what you are afraid of."
Van Claussen just laughed, and raised his gun. Mike ran down the stairs and saw his uncle with Van Claussen. He froze out of sheer nervousness.
"Any last words?" Van Claussen asked, as he aimed.
What nobody knew was that the other die was bouncing along the floor on the lower levels of the old house. It had stopped on two, and Will's token began to move ahead three spaces. That was all he needed to win the game. His token moved along the glass dome on the board game, and the words began to form. Will looked down at it and smiled.
"Jumanji," he said. Then he looked at Van Claussen. "Jumanji!"
Van Claussen was not amused. He raised his gun, and fired.
"No!" Mike screamed, and he ran in front of his uncle.
The bullet stopped just before it could hit them. The strangest thing started happening. It started to fly backwards, much like when Will got sucked into the game the first time. Not only that, but all the animals that had come out of the game earlier came crashing through the wall and were being sucked back into the game as well! Then it was Van Claussen's turn. He was pulled into the suction and began swirling around like a whirlpool with the other animals. Mike and Will didn't know what to think. They just held onto each other for dear life, to avoid getting sucked in themselves!
When all the noise cleared, Mike and Will let go of each other, and slowly opened their eyes. Will looked at Mike, and smiled.
"Michael," he said. "You're . . . . you're ten years old!"
Mike looked at his uncle oddly. He got up, and ran to a nearby mirror. Will was right. He was only ten years old! And he still had a black eye and a split lip from his fight with the town bullies. Neither of them could believe it, but they were back where they first started the game. Mike was so happy, he rushed over to Will and threw his arms around him. They heard the door open a few minutes later, and Friedhelm walked in.
"I forgot my speech notes," he said.
"Uncle Fried!" Mike yelled, racing to his other uncle, and wrapping his arms around him. "I'm so glad you're back!"
"I've only been gone five minutes," Fried said, a little surprised at Mike's behavior.
"It seems like it was a lot longer than that," Mike replied.
"I thought you were never speaking to me again."
"I know I said that, and I'm sorry."
"Well, I'm sorry, too then, Michael. I was angry. And when people get angry, they say things they don't mean. Listen, your mother and I talked it over. You don't have to go to Eastern Bay Point if you don't want to."
Will walked over to his brother and smiled.
"I knew you wouldn't go through with it, Fried," he said. "But now I think you should get going. You are the guest of honor at that banquet of yours!"
"Right," Fried said. "I'm off. I'll see you two in a couple of hours."
"Bye, Uncle Fried," Mike said.
And with that, Fried left. Mike took a deep breath, and began to relax a little, when he realized something.
"Holy cow!" he shouted, and turned towards the stairway that led to the attic. "Gosalyn and Leland!"
"Michael!" Will shouted, before Mike could get far. "We're fourteen years into the past again. We're back where we started when he started the game. Gosalyn and Leland haven't even been born yet."
"Oh yeah," Mike said. "Well, what do we do now, Uncle Will?"
"I have an idea."
Will took the game, and he and Mike left Westerman Hall with it. They took it to a nearby river, and tossed it in from the bridge. The current began sweeping it away, as the drums were beating.
"Well, that's that," Will said. "Come on, Michael. We'd better get back before your mother and Fried find out what we've been up to. And then the game won't seem as bad as Fried's temper!"
Mike laughed, and followed his uncle back to Westerman Hall.
SCENE SHIFT: FOURTEEN YEARS LATER, DECEMBER
Westerman Hall was decorated for Christmas. Will and Fried were walking around the house, mingling with their guests. They were throwing one heck of a Christmas party. Not only were their friends and family there, but so was Mike, his family, and the whole of Camp Monkee Mallard. Quackerjack was sitting at Will and Fried's piano, playing Christmas carols. Reggie and Micky were standing by it, singing with Quacky and some of the other guests, and Reggie was strumming a guitar.
"I'm glad Michael's doing so well out in California," Fried said.
"Yes, I am, too," Will said. "He's got good friends, a good job, and a wonderful wife . . . . really, what did he need at Eastern Bay Point, anyway?"
Fried shrugged. Mike then ran over to his two uncles then. Phyllis was with him as well, because he was practically dragging her by the hand.
"Phyllis baby, this is my Uncle Will," he said. "The one I'm always talkin' about, and this is his brother, my Uncle Fried. Uncle Will and Uncle Fried, this is my wife, Phyllis."
"Enchante, cherie," Will said, taking Phyllis's hand, and kissing it. Phyllis giggled.
"Will, you were always one to charm the ladies," Fried said, smacking his brother in the shoulder. "You are a very lucky girl, my dear. Michael is one in a million."
"Yeah," Mike said. "Hey, Uncle Fried, give Phyllis the grand tour of the hall, okay?"
"By all means," Fried said. "I think you shall enjoy this, Phyllis."
"I think so, too," Phyllis said. "Really, this house is fantastic!"
Mike waited until Phyllis and Fried were out of sight and earshot, and then he turned to Will.
"Come on over here, Uncle Will," he said. "I want you to meet Drake."
Will nodded. He followed Mike over to the main hallway, where Drake was standing, carrying his five-year-old daughter, Michelle. He was standing with three anthropomorphic lizards, two adults, and one six-year-old.
"Drake," Mike said. "This is my Uncle Will. Uncle Will, this is Drake, and his daughter Michelle. And these are Drake's friends, Link and Marcia Lizard, and this is their younger son, Greg."
"Hello, welcome," Will said. "Very nice to meet you."
"Me too," Drake said. "Mike has told me nearly everything about you."
"Hopefully not everything," Will said. "A man has to keep some secrets. Now which of you works at the department store?"
"That's me," Marcia said. "I work at Carter's Department store, and I put together their catalogs."
"Wonderful, wonderful," Will said. "And we can't thank Carter's enough for choosing my brother's designs for the catalog, and the store, of course."
"Hey, Drake, where are the other two?" Mike asked.
"I thought you didn't like kids," Drake said.
"Yeah, I know, but, ahhh, I want Uncle Will to meet 'em."
As if that were their cue, Gosalyn came running up to her dad, and positioned her head in between his arm and his side.
"Hi Dad!" she shouted.
"Where'd Leland go?" Drake asked, looking around.
"There he is," Mike said, pointing. Leland came over to the group, and leaned against his mother for a moment.
"How'd you know, Mike?" Drake asked. "I knew you knew Gosalyn and Michelle, but I didn't think you knew Gosalyn's friends."
"Well, Jerry coaches a little league team Gos and her friends are on, and Jer's told me about all the kids, includin' Leland."
"Yeah," Link said, giving Mike a strange look. "In any case, this is our older son, Leland."
"And this is my older daughter, Gosalyn," Drake said. "Guys, this is Mike's uncle, Mr. Westerman."
"Hi," Leland said.
"Great Gatsby," Will said, wistfully. "They're just like I remember them."
Gosalyn and Leland looked at each other and gave Will a strange look, as did their parents.
"Oh, well, Jerry told me about all the kids, and I told Uncle Will, and . . . ." Mike said. "Well, you know."
"Yeah," Drake said, nodding.
"So when do you think you'll be able to start gathering the photos for the catalog?" Will asked Marcia.
"Oh, it will probably sometime after the holidays," Marcia replied. "Link and I were thinking of going to Aspen for a little ski vacation."
"NO!" Mike and Will screamed in perfect unison.
Link and Marcia looked startled. Drake and the kids were a little surprised themselves. All four of them glanced at each other, and then back and Mike and Will.
"Uh . . . ." Mike said, trying to think of an excuse. "It's just . . . . uhhh . . . ."
"Fried would really like to get photographs of his spring line and get them into stores and the catalogs as soon as possible," Will said.
"All right, then," Marcia said. "I think I'd be able to get started a little after Christmas, then."
"Ah wonderful," Will said. "Come along, I'll introduce you to Fried, and he can show you what he has in mind."
Marcia nodded, and she and the others followed Will around the house.
"This is a pretty cool place, Mr. Westerman," Gosalyn said.
"Yeah, it's really great," Leland said.
"I'm glad to hear you like it," Will said. "Please, come and visit anytime you like. Fried and I love to have people here."
"Yeah, the more the merrier," Mike said, and everybody else laughed.
Elsewhere, far away from Westerman Hall, two children were walking down the sandy beach, when they suddenly heard loud jungle drumming coming from under the sand.
"What's that?" one asked.
The other shrugged. They found the source of the drumming a short time later. It was a board game, half buried in the sand . . . . .
. . . . . called Jumanji.
The End (or is it?)