Finally, Something Dangerous
Finally, Something Dangerous is a part of the The One and Onlys collection.
The mystery-solving trio, the One and Onlys, from Finally, Something Mysterious is back with another whodunit. Robot crows, a poetry-slash-wrestling Club, and a hamster infestation? This looks like another case to tackle!
As the excitement from the last mystery the One and Onlys solved is starting to dwindle, Shanks, Peephole, and Paul worry that their town is back to being boring old Bellwood. But as plans for a shiny town makeover get underway, they realize that the "old Bellwood" is anything but.
The glee over "New Bellwood" is palpable, and it's hard not to get swept away by the flashy new milkshake joint and other developments that are quickly making their small town unrecognizable. But the One and Onlys can't deny that something nefarious seems to be afoot--especially if the robot crow they stumbled upon is any indication.
Strange? Yes. Dangerous? Hopefully! Shanks doesn’t know how these things are connected, but she’s determined to find out—with the help of the One and Onlys.
An Excerpt fromFinally, Something Dangerous
Welcome to New Bellwood
I should have known something strange was going on when I first saw the crows arguing in my front yard. I’d just stepped out the door, ready to hop on my bike and zip across town to Bellwood Middle School for my first day of sixth grade, when I heard all the noise. Squonk! Squonk! Squonk! they went, a pair of black birds on the grass, letting a third crow in a tree really have it. I didn’t have to speak bird language to know that those two were not happy. It was all squonk this and squonk that as they shifted menacingly on their feet and ruffled their feathers. But the crow up in the tree didn’t seem to mind. It just sat there, unmoving. There was something admirable about the way it was completely in its own world.
Little did I know that by that afternoon I’d be plunged into the Case of the Robot Crow, which would turn out to be a battle for the very soul of Bellwood, our weird little nowhere town. The world-famous detective trio the One and Onlys—me (my full name is Gloria Longshanks Hill, but everyone calls me Shanks) and my best friends, Paul and Peephole (real name Alexander, but only his parents and teachers call him that)—were still celebrating solving our greatest case yet, which had involved some mysterious rubber duckies that showed up in Bellwood, when an even stranger, even more dangerous problem fell into our laps.
“Shanks!” My dad’s voice drifted out from the kitchen window. “You better get a move on. It’s bad luck to be late for the first day of school!”
“I don’t believe in luck, Dad,” I said, hopping onto my bike. I gave a nod to the bird up in the tree, sniffed the peculiarly sweet air, and pushed my bike out into the road.
The first day of sixth grade was a sloppy hurricane of crowded hallways, weird middle-school body odor, cafeteria crinkle fries smushed into the soles of everyone’s sneakers, and an impossible labyrinth of classrooms. All the kids skittered around, showing off their first-day-of-school clothes and congratulating each other on getting so much taller. Well, I hadn’t gotten any taller, but do you think that bothered me? Not at all. I had no problem being pretty much the shortest person in the whole middle school. But it was a good idea to never mention it to my face.
Maybe it’s a middle-school thing, but every teacher seemed to have one pet peeve they absolutely would not tolerate in their class. For Mrs. Nguyen, it was the sound of paper being ripped out of a notebook. For Mr. Gormski, it was the smell of energy drinks. If you wore a hat in Mr. McClelland’s class, you might as well bring your signed last will and testament. But as far as I could tell, our social studies teacher, Mrs. Espinoza, was super chill. She spoke in a calm, even voice, and she moved across the room slowly and deliberately, like she was carefully wading through ankle-deep water. She didn’t even get mad at Peephole, Paul, and me for squealing with delight when we saw that we were all in the same class.
But then Mrs. Espinoza laid it on us. She was giving us homework on the very first day. And not just homework, but a major project. Bellwood didn’t have only one story of its past, she said. Instead, it had countless stories, each featuring different people. To get to know the many stories of Bellwood’s past, each of us was to choose a building in town, research its history, and then make a five-minute presentation of our findings to the class. And we had only two weeks to do it.
The bell rang to signal the end of class, and Peephole let out a groan. He was pale and looked a little nauseous.
“You okay, dude?” I asked, stuffing my books into my bag and flinging it over my back. “You look like somebody died.”
“Somebody did die,” he said. “My free time. And what if I can’t decide on a building to research? What if I pick a place but somebody else picks it, too, and then their presentation is better? What if I pick a place but it has no history at all? I’m so scared.”
“Don’t worry, Peephole,” Paul said, giving him a supportive slap on the back. “We’ll help you find a good place.”
Being scared of homework might sound weird, but only if you didn’t know Peephole. See, he was pretty much the opposite of me. My parents liked to say I was born without two things: hair and fear. I eventually grew hair. Long, electric-blond hair that cascaded all the way down my back. But fear never sprouted. Peephole, on the other hand, was afraid of . . . well, everything. You know how people joke about somebody being afraid of their own shadow? I’ve seen Peephole get so startled by his shadow that he literally shrieked. More than once. But I had to give him credit: he’d done a lot of growing up ever since he became a big brother over the summer. He was eleven years older than his sister, so he was a really big brother. His baby sister, tiny Trillium, forced Peephole to become a little bit braver. Just a little bit.
That also meant that he was no longer an only child like Paul and me, which made our detective team name, the One and Onlys, sort of not true. But it was such a good name that we decided to ignore that detail.
The three of us spilled out of the classroom into the crowded hallway, where we joined the herd being corralled toward the gym for an assembly.
“Hey, wasn’t there a fire at the Bellwood Library a long time ago?” I asked. A seed of an idea was forming in my head.
“I think so,” Paul said. “The place nearly burned down back in the eighties, when our parents were kids. Why?”
“Picture this,” I said, jumping ahead and walking backward to face them. “The presentation starts with the lights off. A spotlight flips on, and you see a perfect scale model of the library on a table at the front of the classroom. There’s a voice—it’s me—explaining the boring history of the building, that it was built in blah-blah by blah, but suddenly, whuuffff, the library bursts into flames!”
“You can’t have a fire in the classroom!” Peephole gasped.
“Sure I can.” I shrugged. “I’ll be crouched behind the model with a blowtorch. So the library lights up like a sparkler on the Fourth of July, and I throw some siren sound effects in there, and then, just when everybody starts freaking out, I’ll jump up and extinguish the flames. Mrs. Espinoza is so dazzled by the whole thing, she gives the project an A+ right then and there.”
“I like the enthusiasm,” Paul said. “But I’m not sure if Mrs. Espinoza is going to allow real flames.” Of the three One and Onlys, Paul was the voice of reason. He was so level-headed that you could balance your lunch tray on his noggin and never worry about it spilling. It was hard to get Paul angry or worked up or emotional about anything, except for mysteries, of course. He was an absolute nut for them. He loved hunting them out, investigating them, and solving them.
When we finally reached the doors of the gym, our math teacher, Mr. McClelland, was plucking hats off kids’ heads and directing them to the bleachers.
“Find your seats quickly,” he said as we passed by. “We have a special guest speaker today.”
Sure enough, standing at a microphone in the middle of the basketball court was Bellwood’s mayor, Frank Pilkington, who had a tradition of visiting schools on the first day. Tall and wiry, with a fountain of blond hair bursting up and out from his head, Mayor Pilkington was the town’s jack-in-the-box: you never knew when he was going to pop up. He flashed a wide grin at the buzzing throng of students, patiently clasping his hands in front of him.
“How about you, Paul?” I asked as we climbed the bleachers to our perch at the top. “That sharp mind of yours come up with any ideas for the history project?”
“My parents’ hardware store has been in the family for three generations,” he said, nodding. “I’ve always wanted to learn more about the store’s history.”