The George Sweet Doorway Mysteries - "A CHILLY RECEPTION"...

BLUE DOOR by Paula Stephens.jpg

...little Marky Patterson had been such a responsible child ever since he first walked and talked. His parents were suitably proud of him, and he impressed all their friends at dinner parties with his perfect manners and sober answers about how school was going, what sports he was playing, and what science project he was preparing for the National Young Scientists Of Tomorrow Fair. Here he was at only 8 years of age, and he was competing against juniors and seniors in high schools from all over the country. Marky had one disadvantage; he was interested in so many different sciences... from astronomy to biology, chemistry to geology....it all fascinated him. Finally, though, it was his Uncle Herb who swayed his decision. Herb Destren was a popular and personable weatherman with a huge following, especially among the large farm community that depended on his accuracy and his famous predictions that would seem to be at times risky or even far-fetched, but invariably proved to be exact! He himself had studied privately as a teenager under a meteorologist who had no connection with a university. But of course, meteorology as a scientific pursuit had come fairly late to the world of academia, so it had started out as more of a tradition passed on from generation to generation. Marky's uncle told him that he would take the youngster to meet his old mentor at his home out in a remote part of the Cabler Woods. His name was Professor Dexter, and whenever Herb said his name, Marky could see his Uncle's eyes sparkle and hear his voice almost hush.... Herb picked Marky up in his old woody station wagon, still running after years and years of knocking around the countryside, and they drove for an hour or so through open expanses of prairie, hills, small villages, and finally dusty backroads. Marky dozed off for a while, waking and dozing, until his uncle whispered to him and placed a hand on his knee, shaking him gently. His eyes were wide and dark with excitement, and he reached over and opened Marky's door telling him to get out of the car while he parked around the back side of the house that was nearly buried in huge bushes and thickets of trees. The sun was setting behind the woods and the light was beginning to fade. Marky carefully closed the door, and watched as his uncle drove down the gravel drive and turned behind a stand of blackened tree trunks all huddled together. The motor of the car seemed far away...and the trees looked like they were watching him… and nodding… slowly. But there was no sound…. And no wind. The air seemed to be standing perfectly still like it did before a tornado. Marky scuffed some of the gravel at his feet and drew an arrow with his foot. He heard a ...sound..something behind him and turned, startled. He hadn't really noticed the front of the house. It was actually a cottage, almost charming. Not forbidding or frightening at all, although the windows had drawn blinds...and there was no sign of anyone living there. But it was the front door. Painted a soft, almost friendly shade of light blue, with four rows of window panes, three across as Marky noticed with his constantly mathematical mind. He always counted things wherever he went. Numbers had always soothed him, especially when he was nervous, and he thought of them as friends, each number having its own personality, its own voice, its own mystery. But none of his numbers spoke to him now...not the four of the rows, the three panes across, not the twelve in total... nothing. All was silent as Marky stared at the door. It seemed all so simple.... covered in frost, snow gathered in the corners of the criss-crossing mullions, just like a Christmas card drawing. Marky thought of Santa, and Christmas trees, and presents like the new telescope his Uncle had bought him, and being home with his family, cozy and warm. He stared at the white sparkling frost on the windows, and the snow drifting around the doorway...and crunching under his feet as he drew closer and closer. He might have been afraid if his curiosity hadn't overtaken him. But he couldn't resist. And even as the darkness gathered around him, the frost and the snow and the ice glistened brighter and brighter, silvery white...... and it was August....

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