THOMAS J. PRESTOPNIK
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2005 - 2014
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Read Chapter One from
THE TIMEDOOR
Back Cover Text
Combine one magic timedoor, an evil sorcerer and a kidnapped
princess--and that's a recipe for adventure. Add some goblins and trolls, two
daring rescues and a magician and his king--and you've cooked up an
adventure of a lifetime!

Christopher Jordan and his sister Molly get to
live this adventure after they
discover King Rupert of Endora and his magician Artemas hiding out in an
old barn near their house. They are temporarily trapped in this world and
must return home so the king can rescue his daughter, princess Rosalind,
who was kidnapped by the invading forces of the evil sorcerer Malaban,
whose whereabouts remain a mystery.

Though suspecting King Rupert isn't being entirely honest with them, the
children still assist him to determine when the timedoor will reopen. But after
King Rupert and Artemas give them the slip and return to Endora in secret,
Christopher and Molly are faced with a most difficult choice--either allow the
timedoor to close or pursue King Rupert all the way to Endora and finally get
to the bottom of his story. They decide to follow--and their lives will never be
the same!
CHAPTER ONE
A Visitor In the Barn
Christopher Jordan ran as fast as a tiger through the frosty autumn leaves.
He had to tell
somebody what he had just seen, though he could hardly
believe it himself.

The eleven-year-old boy raced through a field of tall dry grass as he hurried
away from the deserted barn on Mrs. Halloway’s property. A cool breeze
whistled by, whipping up falling leaves from nearby trees into mini cyclones.
The setting sun cast thin wobbly shadows across the landscape.
Christopher dashed across the road to his house where he spotted his
younger sister Molly playing harvester on the side lawn as she always did in
October. He thought himself too old for that game now, but Molly was only
eight and still enjoyed it.

“Molly! You’ll never guess what I just saw. Never in a million years!” he said,
panting like a tired dog. He pulled off a ski cap, revealing a mop of light
brown hair that nearly matched the color of his eyes.

Molly frowned at her brother. “I won’t guess until you stop walking all over
my tomato plants. You’re squishing them, Chris. How can I harvest squished
tomatoes?”

Christopher took a quick step to one side. “Better?”

“Now you’re in the squash patch! I’ll never finish my gardening with you
around.” Molly took her brother by the hand and led him where it was safer
to stand.

“If you can’t harvest squished tomatoes, you’ll
never be able to pick
squished squash,” Christopher joked.

“Very funny,” Molly said, trying not to laugh, though she couldn’t conceal a
grin. She wore a purple sweatshirt jacket with the hood tied tightly about her
head, but two blond ponytails still managed to peek out. “Now stay over
there while I gather some beans and tell me what’s so important.”

“I saw something in Mrs. Halloway’s barn. Something amazing!” he said.
Christopher puffed air into his hands to warm them as the last rays of
sunlight soaked into the ground. “Guess what it was?”

Molly shrugged. “I don’t know.” She and her brother occasionally used the
barn as a secret hideout, though it was quite out in the open near an apple
tree and not very secret. Molly stopped harvesting and put her fingers to her
chin as if in deep thought. “You saw a dinosaur!” she guessed, then burst
out laughing.

“No! That’s not a real guess, Molly. Try again, and be serious this time.”

“All right, Chris.” Molly thought for another moment. “I bet you saw some hay
and an old wheelbarrow!” she said, bending over in a fit of giggles since she
knew very well that those items were inside the barn.

Christopher smirked. “You’re not even trying to guess, Molly.”

“Oh, just tell me what you saw, Chris, if it’s that amazing.”

“All right, I will,” he said, then went dead silent, hoping to build suspense.
But Molly just tilted her head and clicked her tongue impatiently, so
Christopher finally gave in. “I saw a king!”

“You saw a what?”

“A king. You know, like as in
king and queen?”

Molly sighed and went back to work in her imaginary garden. “That’s a fib,
Chris Jordan, and you know it. Remember what Mom and Dad said about
lying–don’t!”

“I’m not lying, Molly. I did see an actual king. He’s in the barn, pacing back
and forth. He looks really worried about something.”

“And what makes you think this person is a king?”

“Because he’s wearing a crown and has a sword at his side,” Christopher
explained. “He looks exactly like the pictures of kings Dad showed us at the
museum.”

Molly looked at him sternly. “Suppose I run inside and tell Mom and Dad.
Then you’ll probably say I made up the whole story to make me look silly.”

“No I won’t, Molly, because I’m telling the truth.” Christopher marched off
then slowly turned around. “If you don’t believe me, come over and see for
yourself.”

“You’re not going to scare me with some spider or dead mouse you found,
are you?”

“Oh, your hood must be tied too tight! Of course not. Follow me and I’ll show
you a real king.”

Molly couldn’t resist the temptation any longer. So in the lingering twilight
she and Christopher trudged through the field by Mrs. Halloway’s house
toward the old barn. A full moon climbed in the east behind a grove of pine
trees that stood tall and proud like soldiers.

“Quieter, Molly,” her brother whispered. “You’re making too much noise
swishing those leaves around. You’ll scare the king away.”

“I suppose that’s the excuse you’ll use when we don’t find anybody in the
barn.”

The breeze grew stronger as they approached the double barn doors in
front–old, weather-stained and nearly falling off their hinges. Molly stayed
close to her brother but wouldn’t admit she was a little frightened. The smell
of damp grass danced thick in the air.

“I’m cold,” Molly whispered. “Maybe we should go back before it gets too
dark.”

“Don’t chicken out on me now,” Christopher said, nearing the doors. Molly
reluctantly followed.

He carefully opened one of the barn doors and the two slipped silently
inside. The darkness smelled of hay and rotting wood. Slowly their eyes
adjusted with the help of moon rays filtering in through a window near the
roof. Molly looked at the familiar surroundings–a few bales of hay, a broken-
down wheelbarrow against one wall and rusty nails sticking out of the
rafters. Some weeds had pushed their way up through cracks in the floor,
and several wooden crates stood piled near the doorway. And off at the far
end of the barn below the moonlit window, Molly saw–a king!

The old man paced frantically about, unaware of the children. A brown
traveling cloak was draped over his shoulders, and on top of his head of
silver hair rested a delicate crown of gold. A sword hung lifelessly at his
side. Molly stared with her mouth wide open until she could no longer
contain her excitement.

“There
is a king!” she burst out. “A real live king!” Her voice echoed loudly
and startled the stranger.

“Who’s there?” he snapped. “Make yourself known!”

Christopher and Molly walked cautiously into the moonlight. “We’re
Christopher and Molly Jordan. We live in the house across the road.”

The king examined them closely, his eyes darting back and forth. “You are
sure of this?”

“Of course,” Molly said. “We’re old enough to know who we are and where
we live. But who are you?”

The king, who had a small kindly face, was taken by surprise at the
question. “Who I am doesn’t matter,” he said hastily. “No. Not important at
all.”

“It matters to us,” Christopher said. “You’re a king after all.”

The stranger’s eyes widened. “A king? Why that’s utter nonsense!” He
laughed uncomfortably. “What a silly notion. I’m no king.”

“Yes you are.”

“No I’m not!”

“But you’re wearing a crown,” Christopher pointed out. “And it looks
expensive.”

The king’s eyes turned up. “So what difference does that make? Just
because I choose to wear a crown doesn’t mean I’m a king.”

“And you have a sword at your side,” Molly added.

“Well yes, but...”

“And that’s probably a royal cloak draped over your shoulders,” Christopher
said, noting the intricate designs embroidered on it.

“Yes, I do have a crown and a sword and a cloak–but whether they’re royal
or not... I mean, people wear crowns all the time, right?” The stranger
opened his arms as if pleading with the children. “And who doesn’t wear a
sword these days? So to say that I’m a king just because of all that, well,
that’s just, um...” The stranger grew even more confused and upset as he
paced frantically about the barn. “What I’m trying to say is... I mean, what I
want to say is, uh... Oh dear. I’m not saying it very well, am I.” The king
plopped down on the cold ground and sighed. “All right. I guess there’s no
use denying it. I am a king,” he sadly admitted. “But you don’t have to tell
the whole world! I was hoping I’d be safe from visitors in here.”

Christopher noticed how miserable the king looked. “What’s bothering you?
I thought being a king would be great fun. You look like you’re about to have
your teeth pulled.”

“Being a king isn’t so bad,” he said. “But you know that I’m a king. And
worse, you know where I am.”

“We won’t tell,” Molly said.

The king looked up hopefully. “You mean it?”

“There’s no reason to tell anyone if you don’t want us to,” Christopher said.
“Except for our parents.”

“How wonderful! I feel much safer now.”

Christopher lugged over three of the wooden crates so they could sit.
“Where did you come from–uh–what shall we call you?”

“King Rupert,” he said, standing majestically. The moonlight danced on his
silver hair. “I’m King Rupert, ruler of Endora.”

“Where’s that?” Christopher asked.

“Endora is a small kingdom far away from here. And right now I miss it very
much.”

“I don’t recall learning about any place named Endora in geography class,”
Molly said. “How’d you get here?”

The king sat in front of the children and lowered his voice. “I don’t belong to
your world, Molly. I traveled here through a magic timedoor.”

“A magic timedoor! No way,” she said, folding her arms to keep warm.

“Quiet, Molly,” Christopher said. “If King Rupert says he came here through
a timedoor, then we should believe him. After all, he is sitting in front of us.”

“It’s true,” King Rupert said. “I passed through a timedoor in my kingdom
which opened up into your world underneath a small bridge by a nearby
river.”

“There’s a river not even a half mile from here. Molly and I sit on the banks
and watch boats sail by.”

The king smiled. “I was fortunate the timedoor opened where it did. A few
feet farther ahead and I would have fallen right into the water!”

Molly snickered until Christopher nudged her with his elbow. “Why did you
come here, King Rupert?” he asked.

“Shortly after I arrived in your world, the timedoor closed. So I searched the
area and this barn was the first deserted place I found.” The king stretched
his arms and yawned. “I’m just waiting here until the door reopens.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Christopher said.

“Oh?”

“Why are you in our world? Why did you go through the timedoor in the first
place?”

“Oh dear!” the king said, quickly standing. “Look how late it is. I’ve probably
kept you up well past your bedtime. Run along now!”

“It’s only after six o’clock, King Rupert. I don’t go to bed until eight,” Molly
said. “Besides, it’s Saturday tomorrow. No school.”

“But maybe your parents are wondering where you are. Better go and
check. Run along now!”

“We’re fine right here,” Christopher said, surprised that King Rupert was
trying to get rid of them all of a sudden. He sensed that the king was hiding
something by not answering his simple question. “Just why is the king
here?” Christopher thought, but decided not to press him on the matter.


Christopher, Molly and King Rupert chatted for another half an hour in Mrs.
Halloway’s barn when Molly heard her mother calling from across the road.

“Now it’s time to go in,” Molly said. “I guess we have to leave.”

“Well if you must, then you must,” the king said, somewhat relieved.

“Come with us!” Christopher urged. “My parents would love to meet a real
king. So would little Vergil.”

“He’s our baby brother,” Molly said.

King Rupert shook his head. “No, no, no, no, no! I’d be a dreadful
inconvenience.”

The children were disappointed and prepared to leave when Christopher
snapped his fingers. “Hang out in our cellar until we tell our parents. Maybe
they’ll invite you up for a meal.”

The king admitted that he was very hungry, not having eaten since stepping
through the timedoor earlier that morning. After some hesitation, King Rupert
agreed to the children’s plan. In a short time he found himself sitting on an
overturned bucket in their cold dark cellar, stuck between a box of potatoes
and a sack of red and yellow apples, feeling very much alone.


Christopher and Molly, in the meantime, rushed inside to tell their parents
about King Rupert just as their mother was about to call them home a
second time. They chattered like squirrels as they took turns telling their
story.

“A king!” Mrs. Jordan exclaimed. “In our cellar? I see the cold weather has
stretched your imaginations.”

“But, Mom, we’re telling the truth,” Christopher said. He looked at his father.
“Dad, you’ve got to believe us! King Rupert is in our cellar this very moment.
I can prove it to you.”

“Very well,” Mr. Jordan said, setting aside the evening paper and getting up
from his reading chair. “We’ll take a look if only to put an end to this game.”

“I’ll grab Vergil,” their mother said, heading into the kitchen. The young boy
sat on the floor, leaning against the humming refrigerator and pointing
excitedly at the full moon outside the curtained window. “Come along,
Vergil,” she said, scooping him up. “We have to see the royalty your brother
and sister invited into our cellar.”

Mr. Jordan flipped on a light switch and the five descended the wooden
cellar steps. The wind whistled outside the dusty windows. Christopher and
Molly looked around the gloomy shadows and gasped when they
discovered that King Rupert had vanished.

“So where is your king?” Mr. Jordan asked. “Apparently he wasn’t that
hungry after all.”

“But he was here!” Molly insisted. “Maybe he had some important business.
He seemed awfully nervous in the barn.”

“I think we’ve had enough of kings this evening,” Mrs. Jordan said as she
headed up the stairs with Vergil. “How about a cup of hot chocolate?”

“Mother is right,” Mr. Jordan agreed. “You kids have had your joke for the
night. Now up you go.”

Christopher and Molly sighed and headed upstairs when Christopher saw a
glimmer of reflected light in the shadows near where King Rupert had been
sitting. “Look!” he shouted, rushing over and picking up the king’s sword
and crown. “King Rupert must have forgotten these when he left.”

Mr. Jordan examined the items with much interest. Though he worked at a
museum in the nearby city, he was very puzzled by what he saw. “I can’t
place these objects anywhere in history. They contain strange markings I’ve
never seen before.”

“Now do you believe us?” Molly said. “They belong to King Rupert.”

“They belong to somebody, though I still find your story hard to believe.”

Whether they believed it or not, Mr. and Mrs. Jordan did agree to
accompany the children to Mrs. Halloway’s barn, but King Rupert was
nowhere to be found. Christopher and Molly urged their parents to check
down by the river bridge, hoping that the king might be searching for the
magic timedoor. That idea proved unsuccessful as well.

In the end, the sword and the crown were stored in an empty apple sack in
the cellar where Mrs. Jordan thought they would be out of harm’s way. Mr.
Jordan promised to study the objects later, hoping to determine when and
where in history they might have been created. And when Christopher and
Molly went to bed that night, they remained very wide awake, very puzzled
and very upset that King Rupert had deserted them.