(excerpt from Chapter One)
Sss came the sound again.
Miranda’s hand froze in midair. Her skin prickled. “It’s coming from my room,” she said.
Slowly she walked down the hallway. With each step, the noise grew louder, nearer. Maybe it’s the wind, she told herself. But she knew it wasn’t windy out.
Her door was closed. She didn’t remember closing it. The hiss was making it rattle and hum. Swallowing hard, Miranda grasped the doorknob. It felt icy cold. She shivered and dropped her hand. Suddenly, she let out her breath. “This is ridiculous,” she said. “I’m being silly.” Once again seizing the knob, which was now at least ten degrees warmer, she opened the door.
The noise stopped immediately. She switched on the light. Everything looked the same–her desk, her dresser, her bed. Nothing was out of place. She went over to her closet and flung open that door. She could see clear to the back, and there was nothing inside except for her clothes, hung neatly as ever.
Maybe it’s some kind of bug. A cicada or a katydid, she thought. But she vaguely recalled it wasn’t the time of year for either one. She sat down on her bed for a while. I wish Bastable would come back, she thought sadly. Then she remembered the cookies.
She jumped up, heading for the door, and nearly tripped. “What the…” She looked down at her feet. Uncle Gerald’s basket was lying there.
How did it get here this time? I know I put it over there just this afternoon, stupid thing. She picked it up, nearly threw it in its corner, and left the room.
She stopped in the kitchen, put Bastable’s cookies on a plate, then went back to the living room where she watched TV for a long time with the sound off, making up her own dialogue for the succession of sitcoms and cop shows. At last, she decided she might as well go to bed. She brushed her teeth, washed her face, and turned out all but the front hall light. Then she padded to her room.
The door was open as she’d left it. With a small sigh of relief and fatigue, she walked inside and flicked on the light switch. But no light came on. With a bang, the door slammed shut behind her, and the hissing began again. There was no doubt this time where it was coming from. It was coming from the basket–shining like a small silver spaceship right on top of Miranda’s bed.