Reggie had been asleep a minute ago, but he was wide awake now. He had been sleeping in the field behind his house; it was one of those warm summer days, the kind where the sun is just everywhere and it seems like everything is making a sleepy buzzing sound, when really the best thing to do is to find somewhere outside quiet and where no one will bother you, and lie down and take a nap. It was on days like this that Reggie wondered why he used to cry and scream when his parents told him he had to take a nap.
Even though his watch alarm was not supposed to go off for another forty minutes, Reggie was awake now because of the noise. He still had not looked to see what had happened or where it had come from, because when you hear anything that sounds like it might be an explosion, what you are supposed to do is roll onto your stomach, tuck your legs under you, and put your arms on top of your head. You’re supposed to do this because if anything gets blown up into the air by the explosion and then falls on you, you want to make sure it doesn’t hit any of your really important stuff, like your brain or your heart or your knees. Reggie was not sure why his knees were supposed to be so important, but he had them tucked under his chest anyway.
Just a few seconds after the noise, Reggie heard something fall and land in the ground. It sounded like it was only about twenty feet away, but he did not look up to check because he was afraid something else might fall and land even closer than the first thing, whatever it was. After a few minutes of nothing falling, though, Reggie decided it was probably safe now, or at least as safe as it was going to get, and he stood up and looked around.
On top of the hill that was about twenty feet away, where before there had been only grass and dandelion puffs and little buzzing things, there was now a door. The sun was in his eyes when he looked at it, so he could not be sure what kind of a door it was, but he was certain that it really was there. And that it had not been there when he had fallen asleep.
When he got closer to it, he saw that it looked pretty much like an ordinary door, except that there were some black marks and stuff like that around its edges. In all the stories he had read and movies he had seen about kids like him finding things like this, the door or whatever it was led into a magical world filled with fairies or elves or munchkins. If this door was one of those kinds of doors, then maybe the noise he heard earlier was just the noise doors make when they make a bridge from this world to where the fairies or elves or munchkins live, and the black around the corners was just what happens when the door pushes through into this world, like the sawdust a beaver makes when it cuts down a tree. That would explain everything.
Except that Reggie could not see a way to open this door. For one thing, it did not have hinges or a frame or anything, so it really could not swing open like doors are supposed to, and for another, it was stuck about two inches deep into the ground. Maybe the door was not really a door at all, though. Maybe it just looked like a door but was actually a window or a portal or something, and when he walked into it he would actually be transported to the magical world, instead of just walking into a door. That happened sometimes, too.
But apparently this door was not a portal or something like that, because when he walked into it, nothing happened. Actually, it did bend back a little bit, but other than that, nothing happened. Maybe he had done it wrong, though. Sometimes the portals only work when you run straight into them, or when you are believing really, really hard that you will actually be transported into a different world and not that you will just run smack into a piece of wood. So he took five steps back, made himself think that he would soon be in a wondrous land, or at least somewhere other than the meadow behind his house, and kept on thinking those kinds of thoughts while he ran straight at the door as hard as he could.
Here’s what happened when Reggie hit the door: It fell over and landed with a thud on the ground, and so did Reggie. He rolled over and saw everything blurry and weird for a few seconds, like he was wearing soap-bubble glasses, which he thought might have been his eyes adjusting to the light of the new world he was entering, but really it was just because he had smacked his head. After he got up and stopped being dizzy, he flipped the door over and looked at the grass that had been underneath it, because sometimes you have to put the thing or door or whatever in just the right place before the portal will appear. When that happens, the door is not a portal anymore; it is the key that unlocks the portal. But there was just smashed grass and dandelion fuzz under the door. The buzzing things must have escaped just in time. At least, he hoped they had.
Then, because nothing else had worked so far, Reggie thought that maybe the door was not a portal or a key or some other kind of thing that had to do with a magical world full of fairies or elves or munchkins, but that instead it was something that let him see new things in his own world, because that happened sometimes, and that the blurry vision was just his eyes adjusting to all the new and wonderful things he could now see.
So he looked around the meadow behind his house, but he did not see anything new or magical there. There was a squirrel running around the trunk of the tree in his backyard, but he saw squirrels there all the time. Then he looked down at his shadow, not for any particular reason, but just because he happened to do it, and it disappeared for a second. He looked up to see what was going on, and there was a cloud floating in front of the sun, so nothing was going to have a shadow for the next few minutes at least. The cloud looked like a box of cereal with the labels all whited-out, which was kind of interesting because clouds don’t usually look like that, but it was not amazing or magical or anything.
Reggie wandered around the meadow for a while longer but did not see anything that had not always been there. He looked at a dandelion puff and saw how even though it looked like nothing was holding all the little pieces of fuzz together, they were actually connected to the stem by little hair things that kept them from just flying away, at least until the wind blew them away. He had never noticed that before, but that did not mean it had not always been there, just that he had never looked closely enough to notice it until now.
He sat really still for a few minutes and a butterfly landed on his leg. It did not stay there for long, but it was still long enough for him to see lots of things, like how you could kind of see through some parts of the wings but not other parts, and how small the actual body part of a butterfly really is, that had always been there but that he had never noticed before.
Then, because it was still a really nice day and he did not want to go inside yet, and because he still had not seen anything really magical, Reggie walked through the meadow to where it ended because a road went through it, and then he followed the road back toward his house. This way went through the part of his town where all the businesses and restaurants were. He thought that he would have to walk past something marvelous there, because everything there was always new and exciting anyway.
The first thing he saw was that the warehouse next to the furniture store had exploded or something. It looked like a lot of stuff had been burning but was not anymore, and he could see all the way from the front of the building, where there was a big hole, through to the back of it. There was a fire truck parked next to it, and because the firemen were just kind of standing around and not doing anything, Reggie went up to one of them and asked what had happened.
“We don’t know that for sure yet, but we think that there was a gas line in the warehouse that had a leak in it, and someone must have left something burning in there, probably a cigarette, and after a while it ignited the gas, and the building exploded.”
Reggie’s first thought was how cool that would have been to see, but instead of saying that, he asked, “Was anyone hurt?”
“No one was in the building when it went up, but a lot of the stuff inside the building was thrown into the air by the explosion. We’ve been finding chairs and things like that all over town. Some of it went pretty far. As far as we know, no one’s been hurt by any of that, but we’re still checking around to make sure.”
“Were there doors in there?” Reggie asked the fireman.
“Yeah, I think there were. Did you see one?”
“I was taking a nap and it woke me up. I thought it was a magic door or something.”
The fireman did not know what to say to Reggie about that, but he did not have to try and come up with something because just then another fireman came up and said, “We’ve been all over town and haven’t found anyone injured yet, but there is one boy no one’s been able to locate yet. We’re still working on finding him.” He saw Reggie there and said, “This was a dangerous thing that happened today.”
“I was asleep when it happened.”
“Who’s your new friend, Quancy?” Quancy was the name of the first fireman.
“I’m Reggie Welton, sir. He doesn’t know my name because I didn’t tell him yet.”
The fireman who was not Quancy gasped when he heard Reggie’s name. “Did you say you’re Reginald Welton? Are you Benjamin and Angela’s son?”
“Yes, sir. They’re my parents. Why?”
“You need to go home. Get there as fast as you can. Your parents will be there.”
He did not know why he was supposed to, but the way the fireman had acted made it seem really important that he hurried, so Reggie ran all the way home. It was not really that far, and he liked running anyway. He was hardly even out of breath when he got there.
Reggie’s mother was waiting on the front steps of the house, and he could see that she had been crying. “Reggie, where were you?” she asked. “There was an accident downtown, and we didn’t know where you were. We’ve been worried sick that you were hurt. Your father’s out with the police looking for you right now.”
Even though she sounded mad, Reggie’s mother kept hugging him while she talked, like she was scared of letting go of him. Mothers do things like that sometimes.
“I was just out in the backyard. I told you, didn’t I?” “You said you were going to take a nap.”
“I meant that I was going to do that in the backyard. I thought you knew that. I’m sorry. Why were you so scared?”
Reggie’s mother told him to go to his room. At first he thought that was his punishment, but when he got to his room he knew what his mother had really meant. The house felt strange, different somehow, as soon as he went inside, but he could not figure out why until he went into his room and saw that his bed, along with the whole rest of the wall, had been cut in half. Stuck into the floor was a headboard for a bed, but it was not the headboard for Reggie’s bed. That one was just regular wood with a few curly designs along the top of it, except that now it was mostly splinters. But this headboard, the one in the floor, had all kinds of things painted on it. There was a forest, a bright one, and in some of the trees there were houses with tall people with pointed ears in them. They were small, but you could tell their ears were pointed. On the ground some short people and a few taller ones were walking and looking around, but they could not see the people in the trees yet.
Reggie had not read about those people yet, but his father had told him about them. He said that Reggie could read about them when he was a little older. He thought he was probably old enough now.
Once he had stopped laughing, he went back outside to tell his mother about what had happened. His father was back by now, too. He told both of them about the noise, and the door, and the squirrel, and the firemen, and even about the little hairs that keep the dandelion puffs together in a ball. They all agreed that he had seen some unusual and even amazing things, and that he had had quite an adventure.