A Zandra Belle Story
Chapter 1 – The Wake Up
Zandra was snuggled under her blankets sound asleep, when she felt something push on her shoulder. She rolled over in bed, not ready to wake up. Zandra had gone to bed late and was still tired. She had stayed up past her bed time, cutting out spiders and webs in all shapes and sizes for her mother to decorate the windows for Halloween. Again, something pushed her shoulder. Buried under the blankets on her bed, she thought she heard voices and then something bit her pinky finger. SPIDERS — EEEK. Zandra bolted straight up in bed with visions of large hairy spiders chewing off her fingers. Sleep clogged her eyes, and her hair was a tangled mess, hanging over her face and making everything blurry as she looked around. She thought she saw two cats sitting on the end of her bed staring at her. There was something familiar about them; one was gray and the other orange.
“Jeez. We didn’t think you were ever going to wake up.” The orange cat was talking.
“We need your help.” Now the gray cat was talking. This was way weird and Zandra’s head turned from side to side, wondering from a sleepy daze could cats talk?
“KFC is missing.” The gray cat inched closer.
“Wh-wha-what?” Zandra mumbled and yawned and fell back on her pillow.
The gray cat jumped in the middle of Zandra’s stomach. “Wake Up!” She ordered.
Then the orange cat came closer and yelled in her ear, “Didn’t you hear. KFC is missing and we need your help.” Now wide awake, Zandra sat up in bed, pushed the hair out of her face, and stared at the two talking cats invading her bed.
“What’s going on?” Zandra questioned. She had no idea what was happening and could use some help herself. Both cats started speaking at once and when one stopped talking the other one finished the sentence and kept on talking. Zandra put the sentences together: Today was Halloween and rumors of the old haunted house were going around like they did every year at Halloween. There were sightings of lights and things flying around inside the haunted house. KFC, Tin Can, and Twitter decided to follow Farmer White when he took a wagon load of pumpkins to town to sell. He had to drive by the old house which had been vacant for years and everyone said was haunted. The three friends decided they would go check out the house to see if there really were ghosts and goblins living there. Tin Can and Twitter had returned to the farm, but not KFC. Apparently Tin Can became tired and turned around before reaching the haunted house, and Twitter became distracted, forgot where he was going, and showed up later with no thought of KFC.
“We’re not even sure if KFC made it to the haunted house, but knowing our brother if he decided to go to a haunted house on Halloween, that is where we’ll find him.” The two cats sat back on the bed, crossed their arms, both satisfied with their story.
During the long explanation, Zandra sat on her bed with her mouth hanging open. Confused as ever, she gulped and asked, “Who are you?” If she was dreaming this was the best one so far. She could even reach out and touch them, which is what she did, and with her finger she poked the gray cat in the stomach.
“Ouch,” the cat loudly hissed. “Why did you do that?”
“To see if you are real.” Zandra explained.
“Of course we’re real. Haven’t you been listening?” The gray cat seemed exasperated.
“I’m confused. Who are you?” Zandra asked again.
The orange cat got right in front of Zandra’s face and explained, “We are Gracie and Susie – Rescue Girls. Now get up and get dressed. We don’t have a lot of time.” The gray cat pulled on Zandra’s arm.
WOW, this dream was turning into a nightmare. Zandra looked at the gray cat and then the orange one. They did look like the two cats in the Rescue Girls adventures. “Susie and Gracie.” She mumbled.
“We put your Rescue Girl outfit on the end of your bed. Please hurry and get dressed. We need to find KFC before it’s too late.” This was Gracie talking; she was the orange cat. Zandra was still trying to make sense of everything.
Zandra looked at the end of the bed and saw a pair of jeans, a long sleeved green shirt, and boots that laced up. Where did the clothes come from because she didn’t have anything like them? After more urging from the two cats, Zandra crawled out of bed, pulled off her nightgown, and put on the strange clothes. Of course, they fit perfect.
“You look great and make a super Rescue Girl.” Susie complimented Zandra on her new outfit.
“We know you can help us find KFC. We’ve read all your stories, like when you fixed the broken Christmas Bell and helped Red Pen save Club Penguin from those nasty mean weasels.” Gracie said excitedly.
Zandra shook her head, nothing was making any sense. She was in her bedroom, talking to two cats, and all three of them were dressed exactly alike. Gracie and Susie stepped forward and each cat took one of Zandra’s hands. Gracie said, “Let’s go,” and stepped forward pulling Zandra with her.
Chapter 2 – The Step
When Zandra’s foot came down she was standing on a grassy patch in front of a large red barn. It was like she had stepped through a foggy mist – on one side was her bedroom and the other was here, wherever here was. Zandra glanced around; the place looked familiar. There was the barn, the farm house, the tool shed, and the big tree where FKC would climb to the top and sway in the wind. It was at White’s farm in the Rescue Girls adventures.
All the animals were here too and began to crowd around. Susie stepped in front of Zandra and held up her arms and announced, “Attention everyone. This is our friend Zandra and she is going to help us find KFC.”
Cheers filled the air, then Zandra heard ‘MOOOarvalous’ and a large brown cow ambled forward. It was Jersey Girl.
Zandra’s eyes lit up when a short white goat with two large horns pushed to the front and gruffed, “It’s about time.”
“Gr gr gr great.” Stuttered a strange looking bird that could have been part chicken with half his feathers missing. Twitter wobbled back and forth on long Ostrich like legs. Zandra didn’t know what to say and with mouth open stared at all the animals that were staring back at her.
Gracie reached into her backpack and took out her pad and pencil and started making notes. She read out loud:
We need to get to the old haunted house.
A small dapple gray Shetland pony edged forward and said, “I can hook up the pony cart and take you.
“Thank you Sugar. That would be great.” Gracie replied.
We need to get a message to the NGA club. We might need Master Sleuth and Sergeant’s help.
Twitter hopped up and stuttered, “I I I’ll go.”
Susie came up beside Twitted and firmly told him, “Twitter, you must make sure you give Master Sleuth the message and not get distracted.”
A low voice spoke up, “I’ll go with him.” Zandra wondered who said that when a large gray rat jumped up on bale of hay. It was Shadow. Shadow explained, “I need to go into town and make sure all the supplies get delivered for the big Halloween party tonight.”
“Great.” Gracie said and marked off supplies for party on her list.
Zandra was amazed to see all the animals giving Shadow their special orders for the Halloween party: Apples for dunking, popcorn for popping, lots of candy for eating, and costumes that ranged from super heroes to Disney characters.
“We should be back in time for tonight’s party and everyone has a job assigned to get the barn decorated for Halloween.” Gracie was trying to look more confident than she felt. All the animals turned and headed into the barn talking about hanging spiders and webs, getting the pail filled with water for dunking, and other tasks to get the big barn ready for the party. Zandra grinned at the discussion about costumes, and everyone trying to guess who was coming as what character, and wondered what type of costume could disguise Jersey Girl? Susie had told Zandra that Halloween was KFC’s favorite holiday, and he would never miss the party unless he was in trouble.
Sugar came trotting up, pulling a small pony cart, and Gracie, Susie, and Zandra climbed in. The cart bumped along at a fast pace; Sugar wasn’t wasting any time to rescue KFC. Zandra held on tight, worrying that the next big bump would cause her to go flying out of the cart. Zandra turned to Gracie and admitted, “I’m not sure what help I will be.”
Gracie put her paw on Zandra’s arm, “A lot, especially if we need to reach something high. We are really glad you’re here. What do you know about haunted houses and ghosts?”
Zandra paused before answering, “Not a lot. Only what I read or watch on TV and it’s mostly cartoons and comic books.” Scooby Doo was always being chased by a ghost or something spooky she thought. Actually, she didn’t believe in ghosts and things that go bump in the dark, but Zandra had some strange things happen to her that she couldn’t explain, so what did she really know.
It seemed like they had been bouncing down the dirt road for an hour and Zandra thought her backside would be black and blue for sure. She asked, “How much further?”
Sugar stopped and turned around, “See that old house up ahead. That’s it.” The big wooden structure was over grown with vines. Tangled weeds, tall grass, and trees with snarly branches that looked like witches fingers coved the ground around the spooky house. Just looking at the old house was enough to scare you. Sugar turned and slowly started down the rutted path, and the closer they came, the scarier the house looked. It was three stories high and a large gaping hole could be seen in the roof. Windows were broken and the paint had peeled off leaving the walls an eerie whitish color. The porch sagged and boards were missing. The front door was twisted on its hinges leaving a small opening.
Chapter 3 – The House
Sugar stopped in front of the narrow lane leading to the house where, at one time, a gate had hung and asked, “Do you want to wait here for the NGA Club?”
The three Rescue Girls sat in the cart staring at the spooky old house. Finally Susie answered, “No. It will be dark soon and we need to find KFC.” Hesitantly each of the girls climbed from the cart and stepped on the overgrown lane. Step by step they crept forward, and as they came closer they heard a howling sound.
Gracie swallowed and her eyes grew large, “It’s just the wind blowing through the broken windows,” and hoped she was right. When they reached the crumbled down porch, Susie told Zandra to let her and Gracie go first and make sure the old boards wouldn’t break. Zandra was only too happy to wait, wondering what she was doing here. She startled when Susie told her to come on. Watching carefully where she stepped, Zandra made her way onto the creaky wooden porch. When she reached the door where Gracie and Susie waited, she pointed to the end of the porch. She had noticed a set of paw prints over by a large window.
Susie observed, “Those aren’t ours and must be KFC’s. It looks like he climbed up and through the window, and there are no tracks coming back out.” The window was too high for the girls to jump through so that left the door as their way in. The crooked way the door hung left a small opening, but it was not big enough to squeeze through. “Can you push it open?” Susie asked Zandra. Zandra leaned against the door and pushed. It didn’t move. She tried again, pushing harder, and a slight creak sounded from the rusted hinges.
“Let’s all push,” Gracie said and counted, “one, two, three, push.” The three Rescue Girls pushed as hard as they could until the door went clunk. One of the hinges had broken, but now the opening was larger. “I think we can squeeze through.” Gracie led the way going first, then Susie, and then Zandra.
Inside the dark old house the three rescuers crowded close together waiting for their eyes to adjust. “Why didn’t I bring the flashlight?” Gracie moaned. Zandra felt a small paw sneak into her hand and felt Susie move next to her. The girls stood there trying to decide what to do next when a scream startled them – EEEEEeeeeee – and they jumped in unison.
“What was that?” Susie’s voice shook.
“It sounded close.” Zandra shakily whispered.
Finally their eyes adjusted and Zandra could make out a large room with broken furniture scattered about, an old tattered couch, a broken chair, a table pushed against the wall, and a doorway at each end of the room.
“Which way?” Gracie quietly asked. Zandra looked right then left. The left door was closer and with a shaking finger pointed left. Creak – Creak – Creak, each step they took made a noise, there was no sneaking up on anyone in this place. EEEEEeeeee. The scream froze the girls like in a freeze frame game. Zandra could feel the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. Susie’s tail was three times its size. Gracie’s eyes were as big as saucers.
When she got her voice back, Gracie uttered, “That sounded like KFC. He makes that sound when he swings in the wind at the top of the tree.”
“Maybe he’s being tortured?” Susie’s voice quivered.
“Come on.” Zandra pulled Susie and Gracie toward the doorway, now worried about one small black cat.
Chapter 4 – The Discovery
The door creaked when Zandra pushed it open, and she saw a steep stairway descending into the darkness until the stairs disappeared. Zandra stared hard but could not see what was down there. Noises could be heard from below, like voices floating in the darkness, but they did not sound like normal voices. Zandra’s legs were shaking and her knees were knocking as she stepped down. She realized that knees could actually knock, at least hers did.
“Maybe we should have waited for Master Sleuth.” Gracie’s voice shook from behind, as she and Susie crowded close. The three shaking figures crept downward until, from a faint light, they could see the floor.
“NO. Stop it. Not again.” It was KFC’s voice and he was being tortured.
With shuffled steps, so they didn’t trip over unseen skeletons scattered on the floor, the three brave Rescue Girls entered the dark room. Zandra wished she had a baseball bat in case something needed whacked, or knew Taekwondo like her cousin. Maybe she should sign up for lessons when, or if, she ever made it home. Scared wasn’t the word for what she was feeling; it was more like extreme panic.
A faint light was glowing at the far end of the dark damp basement and muffled sounds were heard. The girls silently crept in that direction. They had found KFC but were they in time, or was KFC a cat-kabob snack for a scary monster. Closer they came and until they could make out the shape of one small cat. “Ready,” Susie whispered and clenched her fists and yelled, “Now.” In the misty light the Rescue Girls sprang forward. Zandra assumed a karate stance; Susie a boxing position with fists clenched, and Gracie crouched with arms crossed. They froze in place ready to battle, until their jaws dropped open at what they saw.
KFC was not being torn apart and tortured, but giggling and playing with three glowing creatures and all were different sizes. Zandra didn’t see any hands or feet, but one of them had been tickling KFC and making him laugh. Startled by the girls loud entrance, the three creatures made an ooshing sound, crowded together and floated to the ceiling, where they now looked like one large glowing ballish thing.
KFC jumped up, “Don’t be scared. These are my sisters and someone.” KFC looked at Zandra trying to figure out who she was. The glowy thing slowly moved apart and three orb-like creatures floated downward. They seemed timid, not wanting to get too close, and the color coming from them was now more blue than white. When they pulled apart, Zandra could make out features that resembled eyes and mouths, and as the creatures floated they could change their shape and form.
Gracie took KFC by the shoulders and stared into his eyes. She wanted to make sure he had not been turned into something other than her brother, although there were times that she wished she could make him disappear. Watching his reaction she asked him, “Are you okay? We’ve been worried sick.”
KFC shrugged out of Gracie’s hold, “I’m fine. I’ve been playing with my new friends.” He smugly pointed to the three floating beings.
“What are they?” Susie asked as she stared at them
“How do I know? I just found them.” KFC answered.
“Can they talk?” Zandra questioned.
“Who are you?” KFC puzzled as he stared at Zandra.
“I’m Zandra and I came to help Susie and Gracie rescue you.” She explained.
KFC nodded, satisfied with Zandra’s explanation, and said, “They talk, well sort of.” The three glowing orbs seemed to grow longer as they floated closer and began nodding their heads up and down.
“Do you have names?” Zandra asked the strange little things.
The creatures started circling around the room and in high tinny voices chanted ‘do you have names’ over and over. KFC started laughing and said, “They are so funny.” The chanting changed to ‘they are so funny’ over and over. The three orb shaped creatures seemed to be enjoying themselves, like they were playing a game. All their circling was beginning to make Zandra dizzy, and now they were glowing in various colors, orange, purple, and green. Zandra watched and decided their colors changed to reflect their feelings.
Suddenly a loud commotion came from above; it was like someone was crashing into a wall. The creatures stopped their chanting and again moved together to form a large ball and flew to the corner of the basement and dimmed their glowing, leaving the basement dark.
“Hold hands and stay together.” Gracie ordered.
Chapter 5 – The Arrival
“Knock it down Sergeant.” Barked a loud voice and then crash-bang echoed through the old house.
The three girls and KFC hurried across the room to the bottom of the stairs. “We’re in the basement and we’re okay.” Gracie yelled.
“This way Sergeant.” Gracie recognized Master Sleuth’s booming voice, as hurried steps thumped across the wood floor above.
KFC turned to his new friends and reassured them, “Everything is okay. Don’t be afraid.” The three creatures moved apart and floated toward the stairs.
Zandra noticed the basement was no longer dark; it was like someone turned on a lamp, but there was no electricity in the old house. It was the three little creatures, now brightly glowing, lighting the room. Clomping sounds echoed as Master Sleuth and Sergeant made their way down the steep stairs.
Master Sleuth jumped from the last step and hurried to Gracie and Susie. “I am so glad to see that you are unharmed. We were quite worried about you girls.”
Sergeant stopped on the last stair and exclaimed, “What is that?” and stared at the three creatures circling the ceiling, like a floating chandelier. Master Sleuth looked up and was at a loss for words, which was unusual for him.
“Those are my new friends.” KFC announced and then added, “But don’t ask me what they are.”
Susie shivered in the cold damp basement. “Brrrrr – I’m getting cold. Let’s go back upstairs.”
“Good idea.” Master Sleuth agreed, and with Sergeant leading the way, the group single file climbed the stairs. KFC motioned to his new friends to follow him.
The old living room was much lighter than when the girls first entered. The front door had been knocked down and was lying in the middle of the room. A harvest moon had risen and its light shown through the vacant doorway. Zandra glanced at Sergeant; the large German shepherd was as big as Sugar. The old wooden door didn’t stand a chance against his strength. Sergeant waited for KFC to catch up and said to him, “Everyone has been worried, and because of you, your sisters were put at risk.”
Master Sleuth told KFC, “I think you have some explaining to do.”
KFC looked down at the floor and twisted his mouth to one side then the other. He looked at Gracie and Susie and admitted, “I sort of took off without telling anyone. But I had to hurry to catch a ride on the Pumpkin wagon. When I got here I wasn’t planning to go inside, but I heard noises and looked in the window and decided to investigate.” KFC stood up straight and looked around and put his hands on his hips and said, “That’s how KFC rolls.” Everyone silently stared at him until he explained, “I snuck downstairs and found these three little dudes playing tag or something. They really aren’t scary at all.”
“How do you communicate with them?” Master Sleuth asked. The three little dudes stopped circling the room and huddled together in a corner.
“They just seem to understand.” KFC shrugged his shoulders.
The three little dudes floated close and Master Sleuth asked them, “Are you from around here?” The three looked at each other, then shook their heads back and forth to answer ‘no’.
“How did you get here?” Master Sleuth continued to question. The three again huddled together and formed an oval shape and started circling around the ceiling, making a noise like a jet plane, as they went faster. Suddenly they stopped making crashing noise so loud that it startled everyone, making them jump.
“You crashed here?” Master Sleuth exclaimed. The three little dudes smiled at Master Sleuth, even though they didn’t have normal mouths that opened. They moved closer to Master Sleuth and nodded their heads up and down for ‘yes’, and from their new glow, Zandra could tell they were enjoying playing charades with Master Sleuth.
“How long have you been here?” Master Sleuth continued, just like any good detective.
Again the three came together and the large one spoke in that high tinny voice, “Fifty of your years.”
Master Sleuth pondered this new information in his methodical way of thinking, and if the stories that the house was haunted were true, it was about fifty years ago the owners vacated the house and the hole in the roof was caused by the crashed space ship.
“Are they real ET’s” KFC excitedly asked Master Sleuth, thinking of all the acclaim he would receive for finding proof of extra-terrestrials. He would probably be crowned the town’s grand master and ride in all the parades.
“It’s a good possibility but we need to investigate further.” Master Sleuth answered.
Sergeant interrupted, “Sugar said it’s time to go or we won’t make it back in time for the Halloween party.”
“Thanks Sergeant.” Master Sleuth responded and then he looked directly at everyone to get their attention, “No one can say anything, because if word gets out about these beings, it could become a real nightmare and who knows what may happen. They’ve been here for fifty years, so until we know more about them, we must protect them.” Everyone gave Master Sleuth their solemn oath to protect the secret of the haunted house.
“Can I come back to play with them?” KFC asked.
The three ETs crowed around KFC, and the smallest pleaded, “Please, please, please.” It was such a high pitched screech and made the three girls put their hands over their ears.
Master Sleuth laughed and said, “Of course, but we must keep your secret safe. Sergeant and I will keep watch to make sure no one comes around.” The three ETs started blinking in bright colors showing their excitement, knowing they were safe and their new friend KFC would be back to play with them.
“I will tell everyone how disappointed I was to find the old house empty and not haunted.” KFC put on such a sad looking face, that it made everyone laugh.
Everyone waved bye and each ET extended an arm with puffy fingers and waved back. “I’ll be back.” KFC called out.
Chapter 6 – The Party
The three girls and KFC climbed into the cart and Sugar took off at a fast trot with Master Sleuth and Sergeant running alongside. On the ride back, KFC did not stop talking: Since he found the ETs he should give them names like snap, crackle, pop or minney, miney, mo. What they are? Where did they come from? Are they really ETs? Zandra was ready to stuff something in his mouth to shut him up. How did Gracie and Susie put up with him?
It was dark when Sugar trotted up to the barn and shouts of laughter could be heard. “We need to hurry and get our costumes on?” Susie said not wanting to miss the Halloween party and all the games, food, and costumes.
KFC jumped from the cart and announced, “I’m going as KFC. The best superhero ever. Shadow was going to be Batman, but when TinCan said he would look more like Batrat, he changed his mind. See you at the party.” KFC told the others and ran home to grab his cape and mask.
“It sounds like the party has begun.” Master Sleuth said.
“Let’s go find out.” Sergeant answered and they headed toward the barn door.
“Can you stay for the party? Susie and I are going as Disney princesses.” Gracie asked Zandra as the girls climbed from the cart.
Zandra looked at Gracie and Susie and sighed, “I would love to stay but I have to get home. I have a Halloween party at school today. I’m going as Hermione from Harry Potter.” Zandra began to worry that she would be late for school and the party because of helping rescue KFC.
“I love reading those books.” Gracie replied.
“How do I get home?” Zandra anxiously asked.
“We’re really going to miss you. Thanks for coming to help us.” Gracie and Susie each held one of Zandra’s hands and Susie told her, “Just step forward.” Which is what Zandra did.
When Zandra’s foot came down she wasn’t standing by the barn but beside her bed. She looked at the tangled blankets and all the pillows and stuffed animals she kept on her bed. Like from a daze she noticed she was back in her nightgown and looked around. There was no sign of the Rescue Girl outfit on her bed or on the floor.
“Zandra are you dressed? You need to hurry or you’ll miss the bus.” Her mother called from downstairs.
“Just a minute.” Zandra answered.
“What are you doing up there. I thought I heard you talking to someone.” Her mother asked.
Zandra wasn’t sure how to answer. She could say she had been helping save a little black cat from three extra-terrestrials, or was talking to a couple of cats like Doctor Doolittle. Instead she said, “I’ll be right down.”
Zandra quickly pulled on the clothes for school she had laid out the night before. The Hermione costume was packed in a sack to take to school. She grabbed her backpack and costume and hurried to the door, as she started to shut the door she looked at her bed and all the stuffed animals. Gracie and Susie were sitting there mixed in with all the others. Just as she closed the door, Zandra blinked, she was sure Susie winked at her.