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Excerpt for The Messy Painted Adventure by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

“The Messy Painted Adventure.”

Adventures with Zack and Luke’s Mysterious Reflections; Volume 4


Copyright 2018 Michal Claire



Chapter 14: “The cleaned canvas.” Thursday. W2D3

Chapter 15 “The zoo’s strange paints.”

Chapter 16; “Getting back to school in time!”

Chapter 17, “Retrieving the canvas.”

Chapter 18 “Soccer and Ice-cream Mysteries!”

Chapter 19:W2D4 “Klizi’s “Magnifying glass” Part 1



I was too lazy to make a poem?


Frankly, this stinks.”

It does Pookie? I thought it was a fairly pleasant day,”


Previously on volumes 1-3

Zack's been taking picture of strange appearances of mirrors and though I want to believe there’s a mystery there I don't know, but when Snow said that this thing isn't trash I gave it to him. After he got his confidence up he found a mirror in his dad’s workshop and then Maki snow and Noah took us to a special park that Noah says is infrared?? That’s like a color right?

Oh yeah, Noah’s a teddy bear or “Plushkin” I suppose, there special android robotic pets I think, I still think this is just some VR game but… these are starting to feel realer all the time!..



How to fix a broken painting. Let’s take a bead, mix it with hope and sing at the parade, make believe the dreams are real and life will always be the same!”


Chapter 14: “The cleaned canvas.” Thursday. W2D3

Previously

“Well that’s cool” Mr. Hopscotch said and then asked, “Ever seen “Micky Rabbit”?

“Annabella! You going to clean this for us? Thank you

“Here’s this,” Izzi gave Luke a picture and added, “I don't want your granpa to lose it again.”

And now→



“But maybe they’re right, I never knew how much it hurts to have a soul.”

“That’s nonsense Pookbear.”



*Beep. Beep. Beep. Ping.* Luke's phone said and woke him up with a new message.


Noah

Rise in shine tall boy! I got a suprise for you.


Luke looked out his window, and didn't see anything, so he got ready for school and thought, ‘I wonder if they have a mirror that walks through walls.’ then went out of his room and realized, ‘But then, I don't know where Snow’s room is anyways.’


***


As the sun shone light through clouds that Thursday morning, Luke went out on the porch to meet Snow and Noah on the porch swing and noticed a shining, snowy white, cloth lean over the railing.

“So did you get my message?” Noah asked then waved and said sadly, “You didn't respond…”

“I’m sorry,” Luke answered as Noah started to turn away, “I thought that if you needed something you would have… I’m sorry,“ Then Luke got out his phone and sent a response.

“Sorry I took so long, good morning yourself! Would you like to go to school with me again today?”

Snow’s phone beeped and he gave it to Noah, soon a bright smile went over her and she pressed a button and said, “Of course,”

Luke's phone buzzed and he got a message.

“8)! Of course”


Noah moved to the side to show Luke the bright white canvas that hung over the porch railing and told him, “Anna tried to clean it here, but we didn't have the right cleaners so she had to go home, and after making Josie’s house a little smelly, so she dropped it off here.” Noah smiled brightly, then hopped up on the swing with Snow and tried to make it move.

As Snow moved the swing, he said, “She has loads of filters and stuff anyways.”

Luke smiled at Noah, and then studied the canvas in awe, and accidently pushed his thumb inside as he held onto the edges, then asked, “So Annabella really did clean all that paint and stuff off last night?” Luke carefully held the canvas up and tried to fold it, then with a grin, told Noah, “Hmm, I guess she really is trustworthy and super quick too!”

“I told you!” Noah exclaimed, “And it really works too, but we should probably wait till we can show her nephew together with you before we try it out.” then paused, “Right?”

“Hmm.” Luke smiled at the canvas that he held, then nodded, “That would probably be best.”

When Luke noticed that Noah couldn’t get a grip on his backpack zipper, he opened it for her, then as she made space to climb in, asked her, “But you didn't see where it goes?” as Luke thought slightly about what Maki said, “These can go to dangerous places.”

“No!” Noah exclaimed, “What would be the fun in that?”

Snow quietly spoke up as he stopped the swing and started to get out, “It looks relatively safe.”

“Yeah,” Noah stuck her tongue out at Snow, “I know you poked your head in saying, “We can’t let them get hurt” or something like that.” then blew him a raspberry.

I didn't even know you had a tongue.’ Luke thought as the group walked down the walkway and to the end of Gaile St.


***


“Hey,” Zack said as he saw Luke at school.

Noah poked her head over Luke’s shoulder with a bright smile and exclaimed, “Guess what!” Then pushed the opening in Luke’s backpack wider to pull out the folded cloth.

“What?” Zack asked, then realized what Noah was pulling out asked, “Did Annabella actually get this cleaned?”

“Yeah,” Luke started to say as Noah finished pulling it out and hopped down on the floor,

Holding up a somewhat unfolded whitish cloth in her hands, Noah announced, "So my queen got this already and cleaned for you!" then handed it to Zack.

Zack finished unfolding the cloth, and felt his fingers press into the cloth almost like jelly, as he took a close look and noticed some faint marks, then with a strange, smirky smile, commented, "So she got this cleaned, huh?"

"Yup,” Noah continued to smile as she answered Zack.

Luke looked over at the cloth Zack was holding and thought, ‘It seems different now, is it because of the hallway lights?’ Then quickly asked Noah, "Then why’s there still things on it?”

"Those are pencil marks!” Zack realized, “Uncle Jack reuses cloth that had pencil marks all the time."

“Yeah,” Noah added, “that’s how we-...”

“Hmm.” Luke looked at Zack, then tilted his head and added, “But he knows stuff from there. I wonder…” then looked at the cloth to ask, “What’s in it?"

Noah smiled, glanced around and said, "Then let’s find out, shall we?"

“Where, what are?” Zack started as he tried to figure out what Noah was looking at, ‘Maybe that person unlocking the broom closet?’ then asked her, “You didn't check it out before?”

“No,” Noah started, "We can’t have bad, wet smells in the house... And anyways,” she looked at Zack and told him, “it’s yours."

Close by, they heard a door open, Noah watched as someone entered a janitorial closet, then smiled and said, "Let’s go in there."

“In the broom closet?” Zack asked as they waited a moment for the janitor to come back out, then Luke moved quickly to keep the broom closet door open before the mechanism locked it closed.

“Well at least no one will suspect we did anything…” Luke said as Zack took Noah inside of the closet.

“Unless you count making out!” Noah laughed, then hopped out of Zack’s hands and added, “It's awful dark in here, but if this thing works right, it won’t be for long!”

Luke turned on a light and started to look around, as he the closet with next to no floor space, then asked, “How are we gonna put it up? Guess we can hold it up on the wall with a broomstick...”

“Or just hanging from a shelf.” Zack suggested, then took a bottle of cleaner and, on a shelf, laid one corner of the canvas.

Luke put another on the opposite, and together they put 3 more and soon met in the middle of the top edge of the cloth to let it hang down.

“Hmm, that looks good,” Zack started as the group looked at the mostly blank cloth and “touched” it with their hands, then asked, “but is it really like Maki’s?”

“Doesn’t your hands go through?” Noah started, then put her head into the cloth, looked side to side and said “Yup, I’m not sure it’s just like hers since I don't know what’s opposite of this wall, but.”

Zack looked inside of the cloth and saw a plain office, then said, “It looks like school,”

“It doesn’t go to school silly!” Noah looked at Zack, “it goes to infrared!”

“Hmm,” Luke looked at his watch and thought ‘There’s a good 15 minutes before classes really start since we don’t really need to go to homeroom and wait.’ he thought with a smirk, then as he picked up his foot in front of the mostly white canvas, announced to Zack and Noah, “Okay, I’ll go first.”

*****



Chapter 15 “The zoo’s strange paints.”

Previously on The Mysteries with Zack and Luke.

Rise and shine tall boy!” Noah texted Luke that Thursday morning.

Did Annabella really turn our dirt canvas into this brilliant white artwork?”

Let’s hang it here.” Zack suggested then put a jug of cleaner on one corner of the cloth carefully so that it didn’t fall through.

Luke smirked and said, “Okay, I’ll go first.”

And now→



“Ahhh!” Luke screamed as he fell through and tried to catch himself on the back of a chair that banged onto a desk.

"Are you okay?!" Zack put his face into the cloth to watch Luke sprawling on the floor and using a chair to try and climb up after a fall of about 5 feet, then crawled down on his hands and knees carefully to look around the mostly empty office room.

Zack sat down on the edge of the cloth and dangled his feet, smiled and said, “Guess I’m taller now, huh?”

Not, “Want help?” Luke thought as he stood up and watched Noah leap through the canvas.

Noah went onto Zack’s shoulders then jumped onto the desk and said, “I don't know why we didn’t see this desk…” then turned to look at Zack and said, “Oh…”

As Luke helped Zack down, he asked Noah, “Oh”, what?”

“So this is definitely an office, so it might go right through.” Zack said as Luke starred above Zack’s head with worry, and then added, “I mean I think this would be an office building or something over there.”

Zack pointed to the single window in the corner of the whitewashed office then as he leaned against the desk with his hand on his cheek added, “And look at these walls, no wonder it looked like that…”

Luke stood beside Zack with a frown, then sighed and said, “But look behind you…”

Zack turned around to look at the canvas that they went through, and seeing a abstract painting of animals, tilted his head to listen as Luke told him, "You know how when we found this it was painted white?"

"Yah..." Zack started, smiled obliviously as he studied the abstract painting and thought, ‘It’s kinda interesting to have a different painting on both sides.’

"Well.” Luke started aggressively, “This isn't white.” then touching the painting and rubbing his hand against it shouted, “It's a abstract painting!"

"What?!?” Zack stood up in a panic, then realizing what was going on, added in a panic, “How are we gonna get to class?!!?"

“Hmm.” Noah smiled as she watched them sitting on the desk and dangling her legs, then hopped onto Luke's shoulder’s to feel the painting, “Hmmm!"

“Where…” Zack looked around the mostly empty, plain office where there was at a desk with two chairs, a spider plant on top of the filing cabinet, and a door with a window, “Are we? Aren’t we over there?”

“Yeah,” Noah answered as she walked onto the desk, “we’re in the other side alright.” then pointed to a paper, smiled and said, ”Something to do with animamals.”

“Really?” Luke asked Noah, “You can read?”

“A little.” Noah admitted, “I’m FROM here you know, only a few seasons though, so I don't have much experience, but.” Noah took a breath, then looked around, and when she saw Zack reaching for the door said, “It’s pretty safe.”

“It better be,” Luke looked at Noah, then walked around the desk and murmured, “you led us here, we were going to have a nice normal Thursday with something interesting to study and then you said, “Let’s check it out.”

“Hey!”

“What?” Luke asked Noah as she jumped onto the chair causing it to roll to the filing cabinet.

After Zack realized the door was locked and couldn’t open it, he slowly walked to the window to look out and seeing a fenced in field and a small flower garden, said, “Maki said there were other ways out right? “These mirrors are everywhere.” or something like that.”

“But we don't even know where we are…” Luke started as he tried to figure out how to open the locked door, then looked out the window and thought, ‘An empty walkway and an empty grass, with an empty forest.’

“The door don't even work for you!?” Zack exclaimed after Luke tried to open it a few different ways, and thought, ‘We won’t be in school, we’ll be absent, teachers will call them, we’ll get lost here like Uncle Jack we’ll-’ then shook his head and asked, “How do you even get out of here?”

"Keep calm and pray for an answer.” Luke said, then took a breath and trying to figure out how to open the window or if he should break it open, added, “Right? The door’s locked from the outside, and this is the only window…” Luke looked past the pathways at tall fences and feeling trapped, said, “But those fences,”

Luke went over to Noah who was trying to open the desk drawers and told her, “But you’re right, this place looks like a Zoo or something.”

“Yup,” Noah smiled and pointed toward a paper left on the desk at some symbols, adding, “That’s the word for cat, and other animal’s. “Living, creature, “Kyat”

“That’s a lot of writing for the word cat…” Luke said,

“Not really...” Noah insisted, “There’s only 3 symbols and “Cat”’s spelled with 3 letters, so it’s not a lot of writing! It’s just I’m not used to it is all!”

As Luke pretended to listen to Noah, he watched Zack sit down and remembered that, ‘Zack’s sometimes prepared for various things, or at least he has odd junk in his pockets.’ then asked him, “Do you have anything in your pocket that might help open it?”

“No…” Zack started as he emptied his pockets, to see a Markie, two elastic bands, eraser, paper clip, semi-used tissue and his phone, then looked at his phone and added, “And the phones are dead too!!! I have nothing but school junk.” then watching the hands on the wall clock move sadly added, “And the clocks moving…”

“Let’s check the drawers.” Luke said as he went in front of the desk to help Noah open them up.

Zack reluctantly followed Luke to help open the heavy drawers and starting to feel really upset, tried to hold it back by saying more calm then it felt, "We have got to get out of here.” then started to mess up the contents of the drawers various papers and booklets to ‘find some tool of some kind...’ and added, “And find a key.”

Out of 8 drawers, there’s paper, nothing, and paint…’ Zack thought nervously as he stared at the last drawer on the bottom left with brushes, and small jars of different colors, then whined and exclaimed, “Nothing but paint!”

"Paint?” Noah asked excitedly as she hopped down from the chair to examine the things that Luke was pulling out.

“Yeah…” Zack answered with a sniff, “Just some ink bottles, pens and brushes…” then got up and walked away, wondering if he should throw a jar at the window and break it, explained to himself, “Someone’s probably into calligraphy… Writing letters… And other stuff that a Zoo does…”

Noah looked closely at the bottles to look at them, then moved one away from the shadow of the desk and explained, “My teacher told me about these metallic paints.” then tried to open the lid with both paws, smiled and added, “Maybe that how we can get out.”

Noah gave up and held the little jar up to Luke to ask, “Open this one for me okay.”

“Alright,” Luke opened the jar that Noah handed him, then starting fishing for a brush as she put her paw inside and asked, “What are you going to do?”

“You’re using your nice suit!” Zack exclaimed as he watched Noah put a paw in the jar, then slowly added, "All painty...”

“I’m Noah,” Noah smiled as she told Zack, “A rainbow remember!” then hopped up onto the chair and swiped paint onto on the canvas, then looked at it, blew out her cheeks and as Luke picked up the jars to put them on the desk, exclaimed, “Well!”

“What are you doing?” Zack asked.

“Trying to paint our way out!” Noah exclaimed, “My teacher had things like this, painting doorways. And this one obviously isn't it!.”

“No it isn’t.” Luke said as he looked at the paint that Noah had swiped onto the canvas to see what looked like a windowsill, then began to open another jar.

“Well,” Noah looked at Zack and Luke and told them, “open another.”

Zack went over and placed a brush into the jar, then closed the used jar and as he put it back in the drawer, thought, ‘Well you obviously know what you’re doing..?’ then went back to watch Noah paint over the same paint she painted and asked her, “What is that?”

As the paint dried, green grass shone on this one with little blue flowers that dotting the splat. Noah sighed and said, "It’s something we learned about, “Washing places with new paint.” so we wouldn't get lost... “

“Sammy carries a vial of our closet’s mirror,” Noah told them, “and it’s a good thing that Jack knows so much,” then looked up at Zack from the desk and told him, “and it’s so convenient too, that your his nephew!"

This is too thin to be paint… It dries too quickly too...’ Luke thought as he stared at Noah’s messy job of “washing” the canvas and overlapping parts of the windowsill and flowery field that she had previously painted, with more of the pretty field, then told her, "Okay, but that still isn’t the closet..."

Noah opened her mouth for a moment as if trying to pick another jar, and eventually said, "Okay." Then pointed to another jar for Luke to open and Zack helpfully put a brush inside.

Luke picked up Noah who scribbled on the canvas, and as it started to dry, slowly morphed into a scene of a kitchen with a forest in its window that held two different reflections; one of them a sink, and the other one showed a bright wallpapered wall.

As Zack studied it, he said "It’s clipping like my pictures..."

"That probably since the paint wasn't dry, or too thin, or something.” Noah answered.

As the minutes wore by Zack started becoming upset again and yelled, "One of these has to be to our closet!!!” then mumblely asked, “Right..."

"Here." Luke opened another jar of paint for Noah.

As Zack sits quietly on the desk and looks at the clock to guestimate that it was past 10 Am, Noah paints a little spot on the canvas, that when dried showed what looked like a dimly lit room.

Becoming quietly excited, Noah quickly dips her paws into the jar one by one and paints over the rest of the abstract canvas to reveal a dark door with the dimly lit shelves of a dark broom closet.

"There it is!” Luke exclaims as he accidently presses Noah’s nose on the inside edge of the canvas.

Zack and Luke watch with smiles as Noah finishes “washing” or filling in the spots of the repainted canvas with her paws, then carefully pokes her head inside, and takes it back out to smile at Zack and Luke and ask, “You ready?”

Zack hopped off the desk and climbed onto the chair, then reached into the painting and using the edge of something hard, pulled himself through the painting and into the dark closet whose light had been turned off.

Zack sighed with happy relief when he sat down on the closet floor so Luke could climb in last, “So we’re finally back at school.” then started to breath easily as he remembered that they had the lights on and only seeing only little cracks of light through the door cracks, chuckled and asked, “And who turned off the light?”

Luke turned back into the office room that they were stuck in to take down the canvas and angrily asked, "Who had that empty locked wretched room anyways?!" then looked for the light switch so he could find the canvas, take it down and bury it.’

"Some are like that,” Noah answered as Luke felt around, “it’s safer like that, especially if you live in a public place or don't want them to see you..."

“Who?” Zack started as he turned on his phone to see that service was available, then opened the door to let in light and gasped, “OhMiGah”

Luke stared at a closet mirror that the light had seemingly turned the canvas into as Noah looked out the door and didn’t know what to think as they walked quietly out of the closet and into a strange house.


*****




As we stand right here, praying it will reappear, soon things will be okay. Soon everything will be ok.”


Chapter 16; “Getting back to school in time!”

You were wrong Noah, we were all wrong,’ Luke sighed as he walked out of the closet and looked for a window, ‘at least were probably home, at least, maybe we would have been better in there if we’re not in Portland…’


As we stand right here, praying this will disappear, things won’t be okay. Will no one ever say…”


Frankly, this stinks.”

It does Pookie? I thought it was a fairly pleasant day,”


Previously on Zack, Luke and the home away from home.

Thinking that Zack Luke and Noah are back in the first floor janitorial closet at school, they open the door with smiles, then as they walk through the closet door...

The windows and furniture show it being some residential apartment building…

And Now→


"This isn’t school!" Zack yelled in a hush, then started to breath heavily and slowly made his way to the light source- (window.)

"I know,” Luke started as he followed Zack to the window “it’s some apartment.”

“Bu’ my phone works..." Zack said as he held it up and tried to be hopeful, then opened “Maps” and waited for it to load and find a location.

Luke looked outside at a generic cityscape, a few apartment buildings, cars and a badly cared for street and asked, “Is this even Portland?”

“It’s working.” Zack said as he pressed the locator icon, and soon smiling at Luke added, “There’s a signal."

Zack watched the map Zoom in on where the map thought they were located, then zoomed out a little so he could see which part of the world he was in, and smiled as the word “Portland” appeared on the screen. “It is!” He announced, “And were even close to the school.”

“How close?” Luke turned to look at Zack.

“About 4 miles.”

Luke took a big slow breath, then let it out and said. “Well that’s just fine, isn't it.” then glanced at his watch to see *8:45 AM” and as he walked around the apartment, tried to figure ‘How long it would take to walk, and when does the bus schedule come to this part of town where ever THAT is...’

He took out his phone to navigate the distance, then smiled at Zack, “Only 8:30, that’s good right?”

*Snap* Zack’s phone said as he took a picture of the window, then walked all over the flat to take more pictures.

”So then,” Noah started to say, “we’re only a few miles from your neighborhood school, so who should I call?"

“So you actually think we can get out of this one?” Luke asked Noah, ‘Without raising too much suspicion of wherever we went?’

“If we can’t,” Zack called from the closet as he took pictures around the house where a strange man who has a mirror in his closet that goes to that zoo! Lives, added “We’ll just go through the window, and say someone kidnapped us.”

“No…” Luke sighed while looking around and wondering the best way to get back was mumbled, “No…”

As Luke stopped in front of the door and hesitated unlocking it, he watched Zack and Noah’s reflections moving around in the mirror hanging on the wall, and thought, ‘Photographing this whole mysterious Zoo Keepers Lair.’

“Hmmm-” Luke started to notice something strange about edges of the mirror as Noah came closer, “What is that?” ‘Like Zack’s “clipping”, reflecting on itself.’ and asked her, "What is that? Is there’s like another mirror on top of it or something?” and studying the edges, suggested, “Maybe like two or three layers of glass..."

Noah looked closely at the edges of the thick wall mirror and said “I've seen things like that, people try to hide the fact that they have something, or it’s a spy you know.”

“You mean this might be one of his hideouts?” Luke started in panic, “Our stalker!?”

“Or maybe it’s just had photos in it at one time.” Zack murmured to himself as he came toward the wall mirror, and then snapped a photo.

“Why not,” Noah stood in front of Luke, then smiled, “this way, since he’s not here, you can spy on him.”

Zack looked at the clock, then opened some locks and said “Hey~ Then so how are we gonna get back? It’s already almost 10!”

10? It’s not even 9 yet…’ Luke thought as he watched Zack peer through the door,

"Why don't you call Anna?” Noah suggested, “She's a relatively reliable person who accidentally keeps secrets all the time!”

And sent us the canvas in the first place…’ Luke thought as he glared at Noah, ‘But that was your fault.’ and said, “Okay.” then swiped up and down in his phone’s contacts to look for “Anna’s” or “Joy’s aunt” or somebody!’ and said "Well, who wouldn't get us in trouble? Because as I see it, it might be better to just walk to school, it's only a few miles."

Noah unvelcro’s a pocket, pulled out a long tag and explained, “Anna sewed her business card in here for me!”

Zack started dialing the number on Noah’s tag and as he hit the *CALL* button, said.“I got it!” then Annabella’s phone started ringing.

“It’s a good thing you took some pictures,” Luke told Zack as he breathed heavily while looking around the room and thinking about they’re stalker, the top hat man. “because if this is our stalkers hideout,” he looked at the mirror and finished, “I want to know as much as possible about him!”

As Anna said “Hello?” over the speakerphone, Luke came back over to listen.

"Hello,” Zack started, “Annabella? This is Zack, I’m with Noah,”

“Okay!”

“She thought you might help us get back home…” Zack continued, “We got into a mess... And now we’re on,”

“Lincoln Oak Street.” Noah said over the speakerphone.

“Do you think you can help us?” Zack asked Annabella.

"Oh. Of course I’ll help you in any way that I can, dear.”

Noah came really close to the phone to yell to Annabella, ”We need to go take my friends back to school before they get into real troubles!!!"

“...Ok, absolutely.” Annabella answered.

Luke took Zack’s phone and looked for the “Send location” button, then told Annabella, “I’m going to send you our address now.”

Soon Annabella said, "Hmm, It looks like your right in there, hopefully be there in 10 minutes, okay. Bless you all." Then they heard her move and she hung up.


***


“You get the pictures you wanted?” Noah asked as Zack led them casually down the apartment house steps.

“Why didn't we go the back way?” Luke asked being afraid that someone might stop 3 minors not being in school… ‘3?’

Luke watched Noah yell at him, “Do you know how loud those metal outdoor stairs are??”

“I still wonder what that mirror is…” Luke said as they started down the next flight of stairs.

“Yeah, it's like…” Noah started to answer, but as if she was getting tired, finished, “But Queen Annabella can tell you soon.”

“What are we gonna tell her?” Zack murmured as he saw the outside door, “We fell into a cloth mirror and wound up here?”

“You can,” Noah said as she climbed from the railing and into Luke's arms and looked face to face with Zack, “or you don't have to tell her anything. I’m sure that she doesn't feel obligated to know, but she might be able to help us or know what to do with the cloth if nobodies stoled it yet!”

As Zack walked into the entrance room, he started to hear familiar sounds and with a sudden idea, asked, "So you think this is maybe that criminal man in the top hat who at least attacked that other person is somehow smuggling plushies that live into this world. And if this is just another one of his criminal smuggling houses." then after opening the outside door, adds, “Huh?”

Luke sat down on the front steps and as he was trying to be inconspicuous, asked, "So we’re waiting for your aunt?"

"I barely know Angels birth mom,” Zack answered Luke as he leaned against the railing, “but let’s hope she drives fast."

“Oh she can’t drive." Noah glanced at Zack.

"What?"

“No,” Noah explained, "but her Jossiline will drive her anywhere."

"Okay…” Luke sighed, then rolled his eyes and as a car turned down the street, annoydently asked, “So you’re great Annabella doesn't even have a car but she'll pick us up?"

As a striped silver crossover slowed down nearby, Noah smiled and said, “See!” then the window rolled down and waving, she called, “Hi!”

“Hi,” Annabella said, then asked slowly, “Need a ride?”

“Hi, and thank you, so very much,” Zack greets them as he opens the back passenger door.

Luke picked up Noah, and as he walked around the car, looked at all the paint on her body and wondered if any rubbed off anywhere… then huddles into the back seat, buckles up and thinks, ‘And her cars all clean too… Because of our stupid mistake…’

“Yes,” Noah smiles in the rearview mirror as Jossiline shifts into gear, “I knew you would come through.” then Annabella turns her head to smile in the back seat as Noah tugs at her skin and asked her, “I wonder if you can help me clean this my Queen.”

As they turned onto a busier street, Luke thought, ‘I wonder if the paint would make anything go to that room again…’

“Yes of course.” Annabella answered Noah with a smile, then with a sigh, sat back in her seat while the car stopped for a red light.

“W-ell, don't worry,” Jossiline then shifts gears to turn into traffic and assured them, “we won’t tell anyone where you were found."

Annabella looks back at Zack and Luke and tells them, "You know Celeste Stone right. Well she's my best friend. That’s why I went to school yesterday, she helped us a lot…”

“Sure does.”

“And that's the only reason why I agreed to go to school and introduce myself there…” Annabella then sat back down and stayed silent for a couple moments as the car slowed down for a red light.

“Because of her. And... Well…” Annabella put on a smile as she turned to look at Zack, Luke and Noah, then finished by saying, “She takes care of my little girl, so know that any house of hers is a safe place indeed."

When Jossiline turned onto the street of their school, Annabella murmured, "“Hmm, I didn't get to see her though.”

"Yup, Hikari, she was great friend with your daughter, “ Annabella quietly told Jossiline, then glanced at her as they pulled into the school’s parking lot, and informed her passengers, “Celest brought her here,..”

Jossiline stopped the car in an empty parking space, then after Noah, Zack and Luke unbuckled their seatbelts, Zack saw Annabella look out the front window and say, “Kiera came here too, we're all great friends."

"Then Kiera graduated,” Annabella said as Zack and Luke opened the back doors and Noah climbed in front to give Annabella and Jossiline a hug, “that's crystals.” She rolled down her window and asked Zack, “Kiera's girlfriend still works in your library? Right?”

Luke looked at Zack and thought ‘Is your aunt okay?’

“Ahh.” Zack said startled, because ‘I didn't know who, weren't you Just talking to yourself?’ and answered "Yess" hoping that he wasn’t lying, ‘I don’t even know what she was talking about...’

“Hmm.” Annabella started with a smile, "Maybe I'll visit.”

"It'd be good for you to see your best friend Anna!" Jossiline told Annabella.

Didn't you see her yesterday?’ Luke thought as he started to walk toward the door, ‘No… No, it’s just been a long day…’

“You know,” Noah smiled at Jossiline and Annabella as she climbed out of the window and added, “I've been seeing your Key a lot lately, and hopefully we can help find the door as soon much as possible.”

What?’ Zack heard Noah and thought as he felt her climb onto his shoulders and said, "Thank you for the ride.”

"Maybe they won't know that you're been gone." Jossiline softly smirked at Zack, Noah and Luke, then started the car.


*****




Chapter 17, “Retrieving the canvas.”


Previously on The mysteries of Zack and Luke.

Jossiline smiled with a smirk and said, “Maybe they don't even know you’ve been gone.”

and Now→


Days are fun, and when the sun pours down on them, it has begun!


Pookbear, where’d you go?”

Home… And back again!”


“We’ll walk quietly down the hallway... Retrieve that thing...” Luke whispered as he opened the door, then added “And bury it!”

“Yeah,” Noah whispered excitingly, “need to get rid of the evidence.”

“Yeah, especially before anyone accidently touches that cursed garment!” Luke whispered as they saw the broom closet down the hall.

When Noah, Luke and Zack walk down the hallway and close in to the broom closet, Zack tries to be quiet by tiptoeing through the empty hallway, but hearing the *TAPs* and *SQUEALs*, realizes, ‘I’m still making a lot more noise than Noah ever would...’ then looked at his shoes and thought, ‘I should’ve just taken my shoes off.’

“You can open the closet door for me alright,” Noah said as they were a few yard away from the closet door, “I’ll get the canvas and meet you somewhere, okay.”

“Okay.” Luke said with his eyes focused on the closet door, hoping, praying that the canvas was still in there, but being slightly afraid that the janitor came back and got sucked inside. Luke hesitated, while wondering if he was going to look inside, then held his hand out and as he hesitated to touch the handle, held his breath.


*


“As I prepared to…” Noah started to tell Luke at home that afternoon, “Go inside to retrieve your canvas, I smiled, watching you go, hoping you wouldn't get into any trouble because of me.”

“Cool,” Luke said with his hand on the doorknob, then smiled at Noah, opened the door a crack, and told her, “alright,” and waved, “See you soon!”

“As The door creaked open,” Noah continued, “ I was prepared to rip down the canvas, make a racket, probably get myself squished with heavy bottles and maybe even cleaned with cleaner, then carefully fold it up and hide it away.

“I waved with a fake smile, as you guys left, then left the door open because I couldn’t reach the light switch, and went inside the dimly lit broom closet!” Noah looked frantic as she exclaimed, “I looked all around, pulled things down, made a mess but..! Couldn’t find it anywhere!!!”

“There were footsteps outside and I wondered, “Who’s there,” then slipped down to look under the door and suspiciously watched a stranger talking with some student.”

He certainly looks suspicious,’ I thought, ‘He’s not wearing a suit like a teacher, and…’ Then I saw him give the kid a lunch bag, a hug and… Oh well, he’s just a parent. It’s probably a good thing he wasn’t your stalker, huh?”

“Yes it is. Luke answered Noah, and thought, ‘God, I hope that he isn't our stalker.’

“Soon after the kid went skipping away, the man turned around, then squished me with the door and seeing me there asked, "What are you doing here?"Someone must have left you Hmm?”

Noah then opened and closed her mouth and tried to be still as she said, “I knew I had to be still like a doll when he picked me up, but… It was SO hard..!”

“Hmm, you’re all painted up!” he then smiled at me as if he knew that I wasn't JUST a doll…. I started to really think he might have been your stalker or something now…”

Luke stopped his breath when he heard Noah, ‘But’ he told Noah, “A lot of adults act like that.”

“Okay,” Noah glanced at Luke, ”Well... Then he told me I was “Kinda dirty too... Hmm?” Noah asked Luke, “Can you believe that… Me dirty?!?”

Luke tried not to think as Noah told him, “He smiled again and said, “Well I’m sure whoever you belong to will wash you up when you two get home!” then we walked into an office and told me, “Well, here it is, lost and found,” and pushed me down against the desk.” then looked down, and added, “I really, really tried to go limp. But... I sat. I don't remember if that’s normal or not, but I don't think it is. And when he asked the lady, “Can you please make sure this sweaty gets home?”

She said, “Sure!” and told me his name. Bimisteroso,” Noah shook her head, “I don't think that’s his name though,” Noah waved, “because “Bye-Bye”, you know… But, anyways, the lady turned me around to look at her and I saw that her name was Mrs. Peters and she was kinda nice though, even though her name is Mrs... Well, she gave me a smile and said. “We’ll make sure you get home soon, okay.”

“Bimisteroso apparently wasn't out of the room thought, because he said, “Thank you…” so I tried to watch inconspicuously out of the sides of my eyes, which isn't that difficult with eyes like these!”

Noah showed Luke her eyes that were big round irises with no white but some brown specials that Luke wondered ’Are they just decorative..?’ as she told him, “And I wondered if Misteroso was looking at me and studying where I was or just looking for something he lost until Mrs. Peters, I don’t know if she’s a bad teacher or not but it was kind of creepy when she twisted my arms like-” Noah moved her arms around, then admitted, ”Snow and Mom does that too sometimes, but, it’s SPECIAL for them, it was creepy for her.”

“Well anyways,” Noah sat back down, sighed and added, “What a, a very well built bear I am.” I guess she didn't know that I am hand sewn because she didn’t think they made jointed bears anymore or something.” Noah then opened her eyes, patted her joints and informed Luke, “But they do! It was very expensive for Zack’s dad to put these on me.”

“Zack’s dad?” Luke mumbled as Noah continued, “Then she took me and put me on a lost and found shelf, I would have stayed there but I didn't want anyone to find that Zoo poopey cloth and get into an adventure. “ then smiled at Luke, “I wanted only you guys to get into trouble!”

He helped make you..?’ “Wait,” Luke realized what Noah said, “Why do you want us to get into trouble??”

“Well because,” Noah smiled with a tilt of her head, “You’re special.”

Luke tried not to think about it as Noah told him, “And then as I looked around up there on the shelf, Mrs. Peter took her lunch and went in the other room.” Noah breathed a sigh of relief, “Then she came back!”

She put me on a better shelf, looked at me and thought I was something called a “Color-Me-Bear”? That they have in the arts?” then asked Luke, “Do you paint bears in art class here or something?”

“I don’t know.” Luke answered, then remembered he hasn’t been here long, so he added, “The little kids might.”

“Well anyways, I accidentally dropped something as she was laughing, and she…” Noah looked serious, “Suspected me!”

Luke looked at Noah as if to ask, “of what?”

“So I stiffened up, scared to life! And Mrs. Peter picked up a little toy dinosaur and blamed the shelves.” Noah sighed, “Honestly Luke, I think I’m playing “Gaslight!”

“Well anyways, whiled I waited for a whiles I saws peoples come in and outs, and I rea~lly just wanted to look around and see if your canvas was here.” Noah nodded her head and explained, “Make sure that nobodies didn't fall in you know. Well I looked with my eyes as I waited FOREVER for Mrs. to get up again.”

Well, number 1! I certainly didn't want to be "found,” I thought,” Noah started to close her eyes and yawn as she slurred, “‘And anyways, maybe the canvas was around there and it was really a good blessing that Bioso brought me here… I really needed Mrs. Peters to go away though… Because,” Noah looked around, and exclaimed, ”it was SO BORING! I MEAN, When is she going to go away for more than a... Second?!'

“Fi~nally she yawned, took her coffee cup and left,” Noah nodded, “I counted to make sure, “Okay,” So I hopped down off of the shelf and thought that Mrs. was right in thinking that it wasn't me who dropped the dinosaur, I mean, I don’t weigh much and nothing fell, So maybe it wasn't the shelf either.” Noah sighed, “Then something dropped on my head…”

“But anyway…” Noah started to tell Luke, “I started scurrying looking up and around the shelves, climbing on the desk and hopping up and into boxes, making a mess by throwing stuff around,” Noah patted her paws around as if to say “that kind of stuff.” “Soon I spotted a bundled up cloth that had looked the same and smiled a sigh of RELIEF! “Ahh, I knew it had to be here. Unless we were really-”

“What are you doing down there sweetie?” Mrs. asked me and very indulgently* picked me up.” then Noah mocked her voice, “I guess you didn’t like it up there? I thought it’d be better to get a good view of everyone coming in and out, but...” She suspected me again I know, but then again, what’s wrong with that?” Noah laughed, “I might be a robot.”

“I” Luke started to say as he thought, ‘I used to think you were a robot, now I’m not sure… You said you have robotic arms… But are you a robot?’ Luke thought of “*Futurama” and thought… About everything then smiled and told Noah,” You’re not a robot.”

Noah laughed and told Luke, “No I’m NOT, I’m just a weird looking teenage girl..!” She smiled and continued, “Oh well, it was better this way because Mrs. put me on the desk, where there was the most wonderful things in the world… Markers!””

“Well,” Mrs. smiled at me, “now you can watch me work.” Noah looked at Luke and told him, “Now I gotta tell you something, watching the clock is more exciting than watching her type... Click the mouse... Stare at a screen, type, move the mouse… After like 10 hours of that I was just going,” Noah moved her head in jerky succession, slowly becoming rapid to the beat of “Tic tock, tic tock”


Tick tock tick tock

My head against the clock clock

When the clock strikes noon tock

Will they come for me soon clock

Tic toc tic tock

My head against the clock, clock

I think I’m going to stop stop

And run my head against the desk top

Tick tock tic tock

Or maybe just scream!



***

*BRRRRRIIIIIIIINNNNNNNGGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!* the lunch bell sounded throughout the school as Zack and Luke walked down to the front office to attempt to explain why they were late.

“You got your story straight right,” Luke asked as they hurried down the hall. he knew they weren’t that late, but missing 2 and a half periods without an excuse, that could call their parents, who knows in a small school like this.’

“HA-HA…” Zack started to laugh, “Haa, I’ll just wing it. anyways, You talk and I’ll be hurt, and hope they didn’t call our parents.” then they opened the door as they heard a voice whisper and someone typing on a keyboard.

Noah stared at Mrs Peters in front of her and dared to whisper, “What can I do... I’ll write they’re names on the cloth as soon as she leaves...but,” she dared to rest her head against the mug and said, “Not on me though, for I already have a nametag, “Noah lives with Snow:)” then as the door opened, blew a raspberry toward receptionist and mumbled, “When I get a chance...”

“Hi there” Zack said to Mrs Peters soon after the lunch bell rang and as most of the kids were going into the cafeteria for lunch, then noticed Noah and told Luke, “Oh look, Noah!”

Zack turned Noah around and whispered to her, “Why are you there? Did you find it?” and seeing that she looked blankly at him, sat down on the chair in front of the desk and watched her try to tell him something.

Luke started to think of an excuse for ‘Why we didn't show up for first period…’ Then started to sit down as he watched Zack try to talk with Noah and added, ‘Or most of second period.’

Mrs Peters smiled at Luke soon after he sat down and asked, “So what can I do for you today?”

“So we’ve come to report where we were,” Luke told Mrs. Peters, “My bike fell into a ditch and I fell down with it on top of me, Zack stayed with me and together we tried to get it out, then I went back home to change my clothes and get washed up because I only live a few minutes away, and that’s why we’re late.”

“Okay.” Mrs Peters said slowly, then asked Luke, “Are you alright now? I hope you didn't get hurt too bad.”

“Yeah, just a little bruising, I haven't checked out the bike yet though.”

Mrs Peters nodded, “Well, I suggest you see the nurse soon and you might bring the bicycle into the shop, Mr Hopscotch loves to teach students with those sort of cases.”

“Yeah.”

Mrs. Peters checked her computer and said, "Anyways, I haven’t had any reports about you two not showing up or-…” then seeing a small post-it note under her keyboard, changed her tone and told them, “Oh, that's where you two were.”

“Sorry about any missed classes.” Zack added quickly.

Mrs. Peters looked at Zack and told him, “You were helping your friend, please don't worry about it, anyways,” then propping her elbow up against cheek, yawned and added, “That’s what the teachers are supposed to be for, to help you.”

As Mrs. Peters got up from her seat and went to the other room, Noah turned and hissed at Luke.

“Noah?”

Noah moved her paw a little, pointing toward a bundled up cloth resting inside of a cardboard box and said, “Over there, I meant to put your names on it.”

Luke went over toward the cloth and Zack said “I have a Markie,” then he reached in his pocket and handed it to Luke to write his name on the canvas.

As soon as Luke was finished, Mrs Peters came back into the room, so Luke picked up the canvas and said, "The bear, Noah and the Handkerchief are mine."

“Alrighty!” Mrs Peters smiled and added "Noah seems appropriately named for such a colorful bear.”

"I think so too." Luke smiled back at Mrs Peters as Zack held Noah’s paw, then tiredly picked her up and followed Luke out the door and waved, “Thankyou.”

“Your two have a good day, and a refreshing lunch!” Mrs Peters waved back as they went out of the room.

“Hmm...” Luke murmured as he, Zack and Noah walked down the hallway, "I wonder who sent the note saying we'd be late?” then opened his locker and added, “Anna said she knows Mrs. Stone quite well. But... “ and thought, ‘What did it say?’


***



Hope and sorrow go hand in hand like ripples in the waves, sometimes I wonder if it’s true that Life really will be okay.

Chapter 18 “Soccer and Ice-cream Mysteries!”

It seems to me we can’t depend on ANYTHING!”

We can depend that the sun will come up.”


Previously on Zack and Luke’s wacky line and imaginations.

We’ll find that canvas… And bury it!” Luke exclaimed as he came near the closet door.

Why were we supposedly gone?”

I don’t know, probably thought we had tutoring or something.”

And now→



“I heard you were with Anna,” Angel said as Zack walk his bike up Zelda’s driveway at 2:17PM that Thursday afternoon, dressed in his soccer clothes and told him, “Somehow you put her in a good mood and she texted me.”

Zack stared at Angel and wondered if it should bother him. Then shook his head as he walked up the steps and wondered, ’What should bother me?’
“I told her” Angel quoted to Zack, “I think he has a football game today.” and she said, she’d like to come.”

“Okay…” Zack went into the house, then thought of something, “Ahh… Is Zelda coming too?”

Angel laughed and said, “Good luck asking her, she didn't get any sleep last night.” then asked Zack, “Who else is coming?”
“Mom, stepdad and Joey.” Zack said tiredly, “Coming”
“Hmm,“ Angel closed the door after she and Zack walked into the kitchen, “I bet Anna knows them then, Jack said they used to be really close.”

“Really?” Zack asked and tried to figure out how Anna would know his Mom or any of his new family.

“Yeah,” Angel put Zack’s shoes away, “together they found and got lost in the realm of the fey.” then laughed and reminisced, “God, Mom even thought she could fly, maybe she could but I doubt she was any good.”

Fly?’ Zack thought and wondered ‘Does she mean a plane or something else.’

“Well, anyways, it looks like your following in their footsteps.” Angel told Zack as she made him some tea.
“What do you mean?”
“You even like to wear strange costumes,” Angel answered Zack, “I’m you'll do fine.”
“What?” Zack asked with confusion.
“Hahaha” Angel laughed, “You'll find out. Anyways, I Found your game times on the website anyways.”

As Zack walked down the hallway in a daze, he saw Patrick coming downstairs and asked him, ”Where’s Maki anyways?”
“She’s working.” Patrick answered, “I guess they had a little break-in where she works part-time and they are doing special training or something.”
“... Thank you.” Zack said tiredly, shallowly thought about the zoo, ‘Maki only ever mentioned volunteering at the pet rescue center.’ then went into the living room to see Zelda sleeping on the couch. and took the remote off the coffee table to turn on the TV and rest in an easy chair.

“Hi sweetheart,” Zelda smiled at Zack when cartoons started playing on the TV, “what are you all dressed up for?”

“I got to go to a game soon.” Zack answered Zelda as he came over toward the couch to sit down with her.

“Alright…” Zelda sat up with a smile towards Zack and said, “I love you.” then gave him a hug.

Zelda went to the bathroom and Zack closed his eyes, then heard the water run, and listened to people talk as he wondered, ‘If they knew where we went. Angel probably knows where I went, though Anna and Maki’s aunt said they wouldn’t tell…’


***


“Hey!” Zack smiled at Luke after the soccer game, “Did you see Annabella? Mom and even Joey came too!”

After the soccer game at around 4pm, Zack walked slowly to the sidelines and pointed out his mom, stepdad and little brother to Luke who was very quiet and said to him, “Did you see Annabella? My Mom and little brother came too.”

Luke slowly walked toward Zack and looked at Joey and a couple other kids, trying to kick a small soccer ball with a truck rolling down a mound of dirt, and then mumbled, “Mom talked to Kaitlin.”

“About what?” Zack asked Luke and when he noticed Luke’s frown, wondered, ‘How isn’t that good?’

Luke turned to walk off of the field with a sigh and answered, “Izzi.”

“So?” Zack asked Luke, and thought, ‘Isn’t that great? Then are you so sad? Or is it just beca-’

“Izzi was thought to be dead.” Luke answered Zack, “They have a grave and everything.”

“Okay…” Zack looked inward as he thought about Sunday, “Well she’s not.”

“Yeah, nor is Noah.”

A chill passed through Zack, then he said, “Of course not. She’s not a Plushkin though.”

“No…” Luke said, then looked back at the families enjoying themselves and told Zack, “But the dead are rising like on “Home rising”

Zack looked over the crowd at Annabella who smiled and waved at him, then suggested, “The queen of the plushkins is here, so maybe she knows.”

After Zack and Luke made it through the crowd at the sidelines, Annabella was gone, but in her place was Maki who smiled and asked them, “So how’s everything, did you get anywhere on your journal?”

Journal?’ Zack thought. and wondered ‘...If I even really want to remember this day.’ “Yeah, I’ll work on it tonight.”

“Cool,” Maki smiled and informed them, “I met Izzi’s sister on the way home and thought, it's so nice she’s keeping an eye on you!”

“What do you mean?” Zack wasn't sure if he thought or asked.

“You know, …” Maki started, “That strange house I showed you the other night, they’re ready for you guys to come over.”

“Come over?” Luke asked slowly,

“Yeah, don't worry though,” Maki replied, “I know you’ve had a busy day you two, and I also know how much Zelda missed you.” then told Zack, “Zack, you should spend tonight with her.”

Zack smiled tiredly and thought, ‘Don't I always?’

“Maybe she’ll even come sometime.” Maki smiled as she led them toward the parking lot, “Probably not until this project is done though, it’s been taking her forever.” Then looking at them curiously added, “And anyways, you weren't at your best tonight. I wonder why that was?”

As Maki gave Zack and Luke hugs, Zack wondered if ‘Someone told her? Or maybe we don’t look as tired as we feel…’ then she walked away.

“I wonder if she knows we out too...” Zack asked Luke as they walked to their respective parents cars.

“If she does,” Luke answered Zack tiredly and almost wished that Maki would be mad at them, “she’s not saying it and taking it away from us…”

“No.” Zack replied as they came closer to their parents talking.

“So you guys wanna get ice-cream on the way home?” Zack’s mom asked with a smile and told Zack, "Your brother has been doing really great today, and even wanted to see you.”

“Sure.”

“It's great to see you too, Luke,” Zack’s mom told Luke, then patted Joey’s head and said, “I really want this little guy to have friends and not feel like an only child you know.” then as Heather came over, smiled at her and added, “Besides being lonely, both of us are busy and honestly can’t pay as much attention as he needs like when Zack was young, and Pat worked from home.”

Zack sighed, then smiled at Luke and told him, “We’ll get ice-cream after soccer and everything will go back to normal.” then walked toward Patrick’s wagon, and received a text from Zelda.


Momma Zelda

How was your game?


Zack climbed into Patrick’s green wagon, dialed Zelda’s number and put it on speakerphone as he took off his shin guards.

“So how did my favorite little prince do?” Zelda asked.

“Alright, I was a little tired though,”

“Yeah?” Zelda answered, “It’s been a busy week, hasn’t it.”

“Yeah, but things are starting to go back to normal,” Zack told Zelda, “Were gonna go out for ice-cream afterwards and I just hope that Joey really is doing better.”

“What do you mean?” Zelda asked, “I take it he doesn't do well in restaurants?”

Zack laughed, and then asked Zelda, “Would you like some special when we get home?”

“Nah, it’s okay,” Zelda answered Zack, “and anyways, I don't think that a cone would stay for long.”

“Yeah, but-”

“You’d eat it??” Zelda exclaimed with a laugh.


***


At 5pm, Zack came into the living room to give Zelda a hug and heard the Stepmania machine running

“I love you.” Zelda told Zack, then asked, “So you wanna play a game? Get those creamy calorie counts back up or back down or whatever?”

“I hope you didn’t really mean it.” Patrick told Zelda as he came into the room carrying a large transparent decorative glass bowl with 4 spoons, and a funny looking castle built with towers of stacked cookie cones, standing on top of Ice-cream with various layers of fruit and cereal with worms crawling through.

“I love you.” Zelda opened her arms with a smile as Patrick put down the special ice-cream platter, then gave him a hug.

Zack relaxed as Patrick had them say grace, then watched him turned on the TV and shuffle a playlist of various shorts and cartoons.

“Hmm,” Zack started to say as his family was relaxing in a normal and safe environment, then asked Zelda, “Did Maki see you, she said the neighbors are ready to meet me.”

“Really,” Zelda said as she licked an ice-cream cone with a gummy worm sticking out.

“And that your project is really taking your time.” Zack added.

Zelda smiled as she licked her lips then said, “I’m almost ready for prototypes.”

“Really?”

“Almost,” Zelda sighed and asked Zack. “So who’s these neighbors that want to meet you?” and suggested, “Aliens?”

Zack laughed “Guess there more like fairies!”

Zelda stayed still for a moment, then laughed and scooted closer to Zack to put her arm around his shoulders, and announced, “That’s wonderful!”


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