The Saturday before school started (about 74,160 minutes since I had last seen him), Mom drove us to Cincinnati and we went to King’s Island. At first I only pretended to have fun. Then I just couldn’t help myself. I was one inch too short to ride The Vortex, but the man said it was okay if my mom said it was, because she was riding with me. It was scary and also the best ride I’d ever been on. From way up high you could see the whole park, and all the people down there waiting in line or eating their cotton candy. We went through loop after loop. Mom held my hand.





On the first day of school, I waited inside the door until she drove off. Kids were everywhere, and even though there were two teachers and the old lady helping kids cross the street, it wasn't hard to sneak away. Once I turned the corner I was free. I hid my backpack in the bushes by the dumpster so I could find it later, and then started running. It was only 2.4 miles, which wasn't too far even without a bike. And I was lucky, because I wasn't a car and didn't have to stop at red lights.


The back door was open. Not just unlocked, but actually slid all the way open. It smelled like a zoo. I followed the smell to the basement door. There weren’t stairs anymore. Sergeant Defenbargh had put down flat boards, so that it was like a long ramp. Horrible sounds were coming from down there, like Grandma’s bed creaking and squeaking as you jumped up and down on it, but a hundred times louder. I held on tight to the railing and went down the ramp.