Stevie was breathless and sweating by the time he reached home, despite the odd chill to the air that even he noticed. His glow sticks and sprayer were clutched against his chest. All the way home he had been thinking about how he was going to set things up, his angle of attack, everything. But what he had not accounted for was what he discovered when he got home – no hoses.
Of course, this early in the spring, Dad hadn’t gotten started working out doors yet, so the hoses were still in the basement. And that also probably meant the water spouts were turned off to keep the pipes from freezing. His dad had let him help turn them off back in November.
Stevie wracked his brain, trying to think what to do. “If only Mr. Grunderson was here,” he said to himself. “He knows how to fight ninjas!”
Something rose in his memory, from a few years back. He had been so little it was almost hard to remember, but for some reason they had hooked up the hose to the kitchen sink. He remembered it draping across the table and thinking it was the most hilarious thing ever that there was a hose in the kitchen. So if he could just get to the hoses, and get in the house…
The house full of ninjas.
Stevie took a deep breath. He could do this. He was brave. His dad always told him that he was the Bravest Seven Year Old in Town. The Bravest Seven Year Old in Town doesn’t fear a few ninjas.
He ran to the cellar doors, dumped his supplies on the ground and grabbed the padlock. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to remember the combination. Did it start with a 17? Or was that the second number. He tried a few guesses. Nothing was working. A panicked feeling started to fill him as he realized he had no idea what he was doing. “Stupid combination lock!” he shouted out loud.
“Stevie?” said a voice from the other side of the cellar doors.
“Tom! You’re okay!”
“Yeah, buddy, and boy am I glad to hear your voice. Can you open the lock?”
“I don’t know how!” Stevie almost sobbed, trying to remember that he was brave.
“It’s okay, pal, I’ll help you. Twist it to the right three times and stop on 17.” It was 17! Stevie did it. “Now turn it back twice to 34.”
“Um, Tom, I went too far. I got to 38.”
“It’s alright, we’ll try again.”
In the end, it took about four tries, but finally the padlock opened, Stevie swung the brace back, and Tom helped him open the doors. Tom grabbed his little brother and pulled him into a tight hug. “I’m sorry I didn’t believe you,” he said.
“You mean you’ve seen them?” Stevie asked, taken aback.
“Only sort of. I can’t explain it. I saw a black shape moving in the hallway, then in my room, and I knew it couldn’t be you. So I hid in the closet with my baseball bat for a while.” Then Tom explained what he found after he left the closet, and how he had ended up in the basement.
“Well, I have a plan,” said Stevie. “We’re gonna spray them with glow stick fluid and light them up and–”
Tom shook his head. “Stevie, buddy, I think we need to go to the authorities. Whatever is going on, it’s too big for us to handle by ourselves. We need to call the police.”
Stevie was crestfallen. “But I had a great plan!”
Tom sighed, smiled at his brother. “Yeah, you did, pal. It was a good idea. But I don’t want you to get hurt. Okay?”
Stevie sniffed, shuffled his feet. “I guess.”
“C’mon,” said Tom. He ran down into the basement, and Stevie followed. “We should just make sure we’re ready in case they’re not just in our house.” Tom grabbed his baseball bat, stuffed a hammer through his belt loop by the handle, and in his other hand he grabbed his dad’s machete in its leather case and started strapping it across his chest.
“What can I have?” asked Stevie excitedly.
“Umm, here.” Tom handed him a crowbar. “Be careful who you back with that, kid.” Tom winked.
“Cool!” said Stevie, hefting the iron tool that looked rather large in his small hands.
“Alright, let’s get out of here,” said Tom.
“Where are we going?”
“Next door. Stacia is home. We’ll use her phone and call the police, if she hasn’t already.”
“Oh no,” groaned Stevie. “The girl’s house…”
Tom rolled his eyes. “Get over it.”
“Yeah, right, you just want to go over to her house ‘cuz you’ve always had a crush on her!”
“I do not!” protested Tom.
“Whatever,” said Stevie. “Why don’t we stay and fight the ninjas! This is our home! Mom and Dad trusted us to take care of it while they’re gone!”
“I already told you, it’s not safe.”
“Enough, let’s go!” said Tom, and they ran up the stairs, leaving their home in the possession of the ninjas.