Gunhaven was a small town, population less than 6000 citizens. The town sat at the base of Gunny Mountain at an elevation of 7,743 feet ( 2360 m). The mountain itself rose to 14, 810 feet (4514 m). The Mayor of Gunhaven liked to call the town the “base camp of the Rockies.” So did every other mayor of every town along the base of the Rocky Mountains. There were a couple of local ski areas, one in town and the other just outside town. The biggest ski area, Angel Butte, with its luxury resort, was only 12 miles (19 km) from the town limits.
Gunhaven High School was modern, completed only the year before and the elementary school was fairly new, having been completed less than five years earlier. A relatively new fleet of school buses transported the students to and from the schools….
Aldo half slid half ran from the school bus down their driveway to the back of the large, wood and stone, two-story house. He pulled open the porch door, stomping his snow-covered galoshes on the steps and went inside. Aldo went through the usual procedure for removing his galoshes. He hated wearing the rubber boots– they were so hard to get on and off. He opened the door to the kitchen where his mother was cutting up vegetables and Alice, their housekeeper, was frying onions and some unidentifiable things in the big frying pan. Bill Haley and His Comets was playing on the radio and his mother was dancing in place. She was wearing that red plaid dress that Dad said could be used in a bull-fight. That could mean only one thing: Dad was coming home. As usual, dinner would be promptly at 6:00 PM.
Alice asked the usual questions about the temperature outside and his mother pumped him for information about his day at school. Aldo was in a hurry and didn’t have time for the usual chitchat, so he told his mother he needed to use the restroom and took off running through the house, and bounded up the staircase to his room. There it was. The Book. Just like his grandfather promised. He had dropped off the Book just for him– something other than Hardy Boys, they were for kids. Aldo threw off his jacket and pulled off his sweater, tossing them on the floor, grabbed the Book and plopped down on his bed and reached for the lamp switch.
Aldo was busy reading the Book’s table of contents when his mother called to him from the bottom of the staircase. Grandpa was on the phone and wanted to talk to him. Would he ever get a chance to read the Book? As soon as he grabbed the telephone receiver, he began thanking his grandfather for leaving the Book for him. Grandpa asked Aldo the name of the Book and although Aldo thought that was a strange question, he told him: “Wizardry and Sympathetic Magic.” His grandfather then ordered him not to read it. He said he dropped off the wrong book and he would be over with another one. Aldo was disappointed but agreed not to read it.
Back in his room, Aldo sat down at his desk and pulled out his homework from his school bag. He was missing “Howdy Doody” but he didn’t feel like sitting in front of the television. Anyway, tonight was “The Adventures of Robin Hood” and he was hoping his mother would let him stay up to watch it. Aldo was busily writing a book report when his grandfather came into his room. He brought him a book about a big whale named “Moby Dick”. Grandpa looked around and asked for the other book. Aldo had left it on his bed, but it wasn’t there anymore. The two of them searched Aldo’s room but couldn’t find it. Even his mom searched. Finally, his mom and grandpa left the room. He could hear them in the hallway.
“Dad, you were supposed to burn that book years ago. How could it possibly turn up here?”
“I got rid of it just as we agreed. As a matter of fact… Linda, what’s today’s date?”
“December 19, 1956, why?”
“Twenty-five years. It’s been twenty-five years to the day since I destroyed the book. You were ten, same age as Aldo. Twenty-five is typically a milestone. Or maybe the planets are in alignment, I don’t know.”
“An anniversary? Is it going after my son?”
” I doubt the book is after Aldo. It has to be after you… and me. I’m the one who destroyed it. But, you’re the one who read it from cover to cover and used some forbidden spells and…”
“Okay, Dad. Enough. What did you do with the ashes?”
“Never mind that. We should talk with Madame Shevchenko.”
“Is she even alive, Dad?”
“She was alive after the War. She could be alive. I don’t think she was as old as she looked. A lot of that was make-up, for dramatic effect. I’ll see if I can find her. In the meantime, stay alert.”
” I wrote down some of the spells, Dad. I’ll look them over. There might be one that could help us.”
“Do not use those spells, Linda. That’s what started this whole thing. Don’t even read them.”
“Let’s see, it’s nearly 3:30. I’ll go to the building where she had her shop. Someone there might have an idea where she might have gone. Try to find that book. You know, I think I’ll take Aldo with me. He’ll be safe with me, Linda.”
“I know he will, Dad.”
Harry, Aldo’s grandfather, went to Aldo’s room. A minute or so later he yelled to Linda who was about to go downstairs:
DPChallenge: The Setting’s the Thing
Word Count: 949