The Zombie of Sapper's Bog [Large Adventures of the Incredible Smalls #3]
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by George W. J. Laidlaw
Category: Young Adult
Description: Exploring Sapper's Bog brings Michael and his friends upon the strange tree where dozens of shoes and boots have been nailed to its trunk. A sudden movement in the nearby bushes and the appearance of a strange creature drives them screaming home in fright. Their experience becomes important when suddenly there are thefts in their town, and health concerns over an epidemic downstream, which leads them into searching for the truth about Sapper's Bog and the time of the First Word War. The exploration of an underground labyrinth of tunnels and its sudden flooding leaves Michael trapped as the water rises and threaten to drown him. Alone and nearly in total darkness his only hope is that his friends can get help and somehow rescue him before it's too late, when suddenly a cold hand touches his shoulder and he discovers he is not alone.
eBook Publisher: Double Dragon Publishing/Double Dragon eBooks, 2004 ddp
eBookwise Release Date: November 2004
1 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [68 KB]
Reading time: 42-59 min.
CHAPTER ONE: "RICHARD'S RIDING LESSON"
Six horses cantered under the ever watchful eye of June Bishop, the chief instructor at the Hacett's Riding School.
"Now trot!" she cried, as she watched with satisfaction while her pupils carried out the movements in dressage.
"Betty, you must control your horse with your knees. There can be no outward sign of control. Dressage is an art, both you and the horse must appear as one. Now class go around the circuit one more time."
The audience that watched the six riders glide over the circuit was enthralled. Michael was about to cheer, when Rebecca gave him an elbow to keep still.
"Ouch, watch it!" he complained.
Suddenly, the horse that Richard was riding reared up in apparent fright and Richard tumbled off and landed in a heap.
June Bishop quickly ran over and helped Richard to his feet.
"Are you all right?" she inquired.
Richard, who had hurt his pride more than anything else, knocked off the mud and straw from his pants.
"I'm OK, but I don't know why Chief did that."
"The horses have been acting strange lately," June said.
Michael, Rebecca and David had all rushed over to see if Richard was hurt.
"When did the horses start acting strange?" Michael asked.
"Well, I'm not sure. It's about two weeks now. They seem unsettled. Horses can be high-strung, as you know. Something has upset them."
Michael's mind was working in high gear.
"Do the horses go to pasture in the field above Sapper's Bog?"
"Yes they do. Why? Does that make a difference?"
Rebecca and David couldn't understand where Michael was going with this.
"Jeb Coot had a frightening experience there recently. There was a newspaper article about a zombie in Sapper's Bog."
"Oh, I didn't see the article. I don't believe in zombies, but all I know is that the horses have been very hard to handle over the last two weeks. Mind you, not all of the horses have been affected. I'll check to see which field each of them has been going into for pasturing. With this spell of dry weather, we have been trying to use our six pastures carefully. I'll tell you if I can see a pattern with pasture location and the odd behaviour."
"Thank you, Mrs. Bishop, that would be very helpful."
"Class is dismissed. Walk your horses and then rub them down. The men will take care of them after that."
"Michael, you are impossible! Ever since the insect creatures, you find ghosts and mysteries everywhere. Now you go and bother Mrs. Bishop with the Zombie story. We don't even know if any of it is true. I asked my mother what she thought of the article and she said it was something dreamt up by Harvey Lee, the reporter at the Windslow Times."
"Since we're here, Rebecca, is there any harm in asking farmer Coot if the story is accurate?" asked Michael in his most hospitable manner.
David came to Michael's aid.
"Here comes Richard now. It won't take much time to at least see if Jeb Coot lost his steer. Michael certainly gets credit for conquering the insect creatures. I don't think we should jump to conclusions too fast. If there is a creature in Sapper's Bog, I think we should do our best to find it or at least discover why it's there."
Richard had not heard the last part of the conversation and he was all ready to visit the Coot farm.
"What's taking you guys so long? If we don't hurry, I'll miss my Dad at the train station. He's coming home from the ICII meeting after being away for a week."
"What's the ICII? questioned David.
"Oh yeah! It's the International Convention of Industrial Inventors. It's a chance for private and professional inventors to show their latest inventions. Dad says it's really good because the government gives special tax incentives to help new inventors break into the field. Sometimes the large corporations like what they see and then the new invention is developed for the market."
"It sounds cool. Does your Dad ever bring anything home?" said Michael.
"No, not normally, but this time he met an inventor who wanted to use some of Dad's multi-valance switches and Dad's bringing home one of the devices."
"Wow! Do you know what the device is?" questioned David, whose eyes were huge saucers.
"No, but it has to be something to do with chemical detectors. Dad's been working on a sniffing device that can detect chemical contaminants. He thinks his idea could be used by the authorities in ensuring that industrial plants don't pollute the air."
"Lets hurry," said Rebecca and she headed up the road in a run.
Michael, David and Richard followed her and soon could see old Jeb Coot's ramshackle barn near a grove of elm trees.
Rebecca wasn't shy about going up to the door and raising the heavy handle of the knocker. It fell with a mighty crash against the resonator and the thundering sound it created made Rebecca go back one or two steps. She gathered up her courage and approached the door again, when suddenly it opened and an old man with a lined face poked his head hesitantly outside.
"Go away, I'm not buying any Girl Guide cookies," he sputtered.
"Oh, Mr. Coot, I'm not selling Girl Guide cookies this time; I wanted to ask you a favour," Rebecca said in her politest manner.
"Favour! Now what could an old codger like me do for a bright girl like yourself?"
"Well, you see, I...or we , I mean.."
"Spit it out girl, what's the matter, a cat got your tongue? Now who are these fellows, friends of yours I suppose?"
"Yes, Mr. Coot, I'd like you to meet Michael Small, Richard Beech and David Crammer. They are from my school. We want to know if you got your prize steer back?"
"Steer! What steer?" He spat out the words, as if someone had just grabbed his throat.
There was a look of panic in farmer Coot's eyes. All at once he became pale, as the blood rushed from face into his body for protection.
"What are you talking about? Who has been telling you about me? I know nothing about it."
His scared look gave him away and Michael tried to get in another question.
"What did the zombie look like?" he asked.
The answer was only the slamming of the front door. Farmer Coot had retreated inside his house. The four kids could hear him fumbling with the bolt.
"Now you've done it, Michael. You had to put your foot in your mouth. Didn't you see by his face that Mr. Coot was scared. Now we'll never know what really happened," Richard and Rebecca said almost in unison.
"I thought he might tell us more. He definitely was frightened. Did you see the way his throat contracted when I mentioned the zombie?"
"Well, we didn't get all the information we wanted, but we did get the initial proof that this zombie story isn't just some fairy tale made up by Harvey Lee at the newspaper," Michael said, in defense of his actions.
"Now we need to find out more about Sapper's Bog."
Copyright © 2004 George W. J. Laidlaw