Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Locksmith's Closet by Paul Briggs

Paul Briggs learned to read and write when he was two, about the same time he learned to talk. He then spent the next twenty years learning that most people don't talk the same way they write.

He lives in Maryland, has a master's degree in journalism, worked for a daily paper for 12 years and is also an actor, editor and proofreader. He is the author of several short plays, including the award-winning "The Worst Super Power Ever" and "The Picture of Health."

"Locksmith's Closet" is his first novel.

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About the Book

In the first book of the Locksmith Trilogy, 12-year-old Lachlan Smith discovers a portal to the future in his bedroom closet. Going through, he and his friend Gary discover a world where all humans disappeared decades ago. When they learn that the future can be changed, they set out to discover what happened and prevent it from happening. Meanwhile, a mysterious man has appeared who claims to be the true owner of the Smith house and the portal and will stop at nothing to get them.

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Keep reading for an excerpt:

And so, a few minutes later, Gary was looking over the panel. Lock had told him about Hance having the closet locked, and about the weird noise behind the panel. It was strange how totally unscary everything looked by daylight.

“That guy must have been planning all along to get back in here,” said Gary. “See? The nail heads aren’t flush with the wood. They stick out a little bit, so you can get the claw under them. A little more hammering, and they’d have gone all the way in and it’d be a whole lot harder to get them out. As it is, it should be pretty easy.”

When Lock put the claw of the hammer on one of the nails, it came halfway out at the first tug. “Looks like you’re right,” he said.

One by one, the nails came out. Lock lifted the panel off the floor, looked down and… stared in disbelief. He was looking down into another room — but not one on the first floor of this house.

Almost all he could see of it was the floor — but that was a whole world of weird by itself. It was made of timbers that looked ancient and half-rotten, and there were mushrooms and lichens growing out of it. Stranger still, it wasn’t flat, it was V-shaped, at such a deep angle that it would be very hard to walk on it.

Strangest of all was that Lock could see, now, what had been making the scraping noise. It was a tree branch — the tip of what looked like a healthy red maple branch. It was coming from somewhere off to the side, in the direction the light was coming from. Also, there seemed to be ivy growing on the ceiling — Lock could see it around the edges.

For a moment — for a very long moment — Lock and Gary just sat there staring. Then Lock touched the branch. It was still real. It felt perfectly normal. It was just where it was that was wrong. And the air coming out of the hole was warm and damp, and smelled very fresh. Lock guessed that this room was open to the outside, that the tree branch had grown in from there, and that it had been the wind brushing it back and forth on the wooden panel that had made that sound. But… how was any of this possible?

Just to confirm this was real, Lock picked up a nail and dropped it into the hole — and here he got the biggest surprise of all. Instead of falling all the way down, landing on that strange floor and rolling into the center, it fell only a couple of feet, then slowed to a stop, hung in midair for a split second, then flew up again. It actually went back up into the closet, rising a few feet into the air, then dropping through again… then rising again… like a yo-yo without a string.
Finally, unable to stand it any longer, Lock caught the nail and put it down on the floor. It was creepy to see something as basic as gravity not working right. He looked around, half expecting things to start floating away.

“I’ve figured it out,” Gary finally said.

“You have?”

“Yeah. Wherever this portal goes to” — Lock realized that that was really what this was, a portal to somewhere else — “that’s not the floor down there, it’s the ceiling. So when the nail drops to the other side of this hole, it’s going up, not down — so it starts falling the other way.” Gary stuck his hand through the portal and waved it around, a look of concentration on his face.

“Yes,” he said at last. “That’s what’s going on… I wonder what’s really on the other side.” He looked at Lock, as if waiting for him to volunteer to step through it.

Do I really want to do this? thought Lock. What if it suddenly stops working while I’m in the middle of it? Maybe we could put a camera on a stick or something… But somehow he couldn’t say these things to Gary. He prepared to put a foot through, but Gary stopped him.

“Head first, dude,” said Gary. “Otherwise when you come out the other side, you’ll be upside down. Here, I’ll show you.” Gary took a deep breath and dove into the portal as if it were a swimming pool. Then he scrambled up out of it on the other side.

Diving headfirst anywhere always felt wrong to Lock, like he was just asking for a cracked skull. But he wasn’t about to let Gary show him up. He took the plunge.

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