The howling winds made the shutters on the old Blair House rattle. Shane Jackson dragged his 11-year-old sister, Portia, up the steps.
"Stop being such a wimp," he shouted. "We promised Mom we would deliver this package to Mr. Blair." Thirteen-year-old Shane knocked on the door. When no one answered, Portia pushed gently against the oaken door. Nothing could have prepared them for what they found inside.
"Mr. Blair?" whispered Portia. He was sitting cross-legged in the middle of the floor, staring vacantly. "What's up, Mr. B.?" asked Shane.
"Come close, children, and give me the package." The children obeyed. When he peered inside the box, his expression turned grim. "This is very bad news."
"Bad news?" asked Shane. Mr. Blair nodded.
Portia peered into the box. Inside was a clock. There was also a note: "As the clock ticks, your time grows short," read Portia. "What's going on, Mr. B.?" asked Shane.
Mr. Blair sighed and said, "Children, I need your help."
"What do you need us to do?" asked Shane.
But before Mr. Blair could answer, the lights went out and the children heard a scream. When the lights came back on, Mr. Blair was gone. All that could be heard was the ticking of the clock.
Shane walked further inside the empty house. As he pulled Portia along with him, the old floorboards gave way. With a crash, they fell into the cellar.
"Shane? Are you okay? Shane?" Portia called out into the darkness. All that answered her was the ticking of the clock.
Hearing only the ticking of the clock, Portia explored the dark cellar. Her foot hit something hard -- a flashlight! Turning it on, she saw "S H A N E" written on the wall. Then she saw Shane's lucky penny and handkerchief lying on the floor not far from Mr. Blair, Shane and . . . MOM???!
"What's mom doing here?" wondered Portia. Her eyes traveled from her mom to the box, and it was just then that she realized there was another note in the box.
"Mr. B!" Portia exclaimed. "There's a second note in the box!"
"Take apart the clock," the note read.
Portia pulled off the face of the clock and the hands moved to point directly east. Shane looked and saw a map showing a secret passage between his house and Mr. B's house. "I knew the clock would show us the way!" shouted Mom. But only Shane can enter.
Grasping his lucky penny, Shane entered the passageway and found a clock. It murmured, "Help! Your mother sent my twin to her partner, Blair, letting him know I still exist. Your father made me to take over the world! I need a new pendulum to complete my plan; only you can help me because you are your father's son. Replace my pendulum and I'll reign forever!" Shane jammed his penny into the clock, breaking it.
"Someday, I will return," it shrieked.
"Not on my watch," smirked Shane.