Vity and I were chatting over sliced apples when Kal and the boys, Reas and Ord, came up the stairs in a clatter. “Did you see me fly over the car?”
“Ya and that guy’s face…”
“No I didn’t…”
“…kick butt like…”
“Can we go back to the den again Dad?”
The kids had fully accepted an occasional door in the basement floor of our laundry room that would open to mossy stone steps and lead to a solid thick dark stained oak door opened, usually only for Kal, to an ordinary den filled with leather and wood furniture, fireplace, big screen tv, and a hidden snack bar. It’s ordinary until . . .well… it isn’t ordinary. Any one inside the den becomes an agent for some entity known as C.
So Kal and the boys talked of putting on the black suits and how they could do all types of martial arts they had never taken a class for and how even Ord could drive. He drove a bus. My six-year-old drove a bus. I sigh only because I know it is so unbelievable. How could a fantasy swallow up a whole family and then spit us out again into our above-world lives?
Vity asked, “Daddy, can just you and me go next time?”
“Yes princess. You and me.”
“I’ll be agent V.”
“Actually, the screen assigns your agent name.”
It was a rainy summer Saturday when I awoke with a headache. Kal was up, probably watching sports or something, he rarely slept in much. The boys were in the kitchen laughing; I could hear the toaster and cereal scuttle in a bowl–some on the floor. By the time I got up and made a breakfast of oatmeal, I realized Kal wasn’t watching tv with the boys.
“Reas, where’s your Dad?”
“He and Vity went to the den for an adventure.”
I wondered if they had gone to the den or the other door, the one up the other set of stone steps. The rough pine planks in the ceiling above the stone steps, or cottage floor, lead to a realm beyond the cozy cottage of armor clad soldiers, tyrants, and dragons.
Which would be safer for Vity? Dealing with bad guys using moves seen in the movies or dealing with dragon herders and potion masters, or scree. We had yet to cross a scree even though we had heard plenty about them.
After a hot shower and some kitchen cleaning I decided to watch a movie and wait.
Not long after lunch they came up the stairs. Vity had a cut on her cheek.
“I am agent B; don’t know why but I am.”
“We rode a jeep up into some mountains…”
“Our mission was to save a lion cub from smugglers. They were gonna sale it. We met Ranger Bob and he helped us.”
“He had military background, commando skills–whatever that means. He was big and tough.”
“W climbed pine trees and set a trap.”
“We didn’t catch one of the smugglers who tackled me down then grabbed Vity and threatened to feed her to the lion cub.”
“Ranger Bob came down from a tree and dropped the guy right flat, smoosh. Tichey was his name and he was out cold. The other one, Burs, tried to escape the trap but Dad and Ranger Bob wrestled him down and I was alone with the lion cub. I tripped and fell against his metal cage and the little lion was scared of me!”
“We helped Ranger Bob set the cub free near his family then we…”
“There’s a new door. We came out of the den and there is a new door across from the den door. We opened it and it’s in a tree.”
“I should believe anything down there but this was amazing. You slide down into a big room that’s part stone, part dirt and a lot of tree roots. There are beds and a bathroom–don’t ask me how it works; it’s not flushing but water comes in it–like on an airplane. And in the center…”
“It’s a table really long with all kinds of seats. carved wood, rocks, stumps, some metal thing, tires, a tractor seat over some roots. Mama it has a cupboard with food in it. Dried berries. I thought maybe fairies or elves or something.”
“Maybe Peter Pan?” I suggested.
“We didn’t stay. I wanted to climb up the slide and found a ladder up the side.”
“Do you know where we came out? This tree is so huge. Must be a thousand years old. We came out of the top of the tree and looked out over a whole island.”
“Neverland?” It sounded familiar.
“If its Neverland it’s like nothing I’ve ever seen. An ice cliff rises above the tree house and looks like some kind of city with creatures moving. We were far away. It’s a big island.” Kal seemed impressed.
“I think they were Yetti dad.”
“The Pagoda palace near a beach looked interesting. One side had more of a modern town. Only the tree house was surrounded by forest.”
“Can we go Mom, all of us? I think the tree is a super hero hideout.”
“Yea, can we?” Ord and Reas piped in. Things I thought would give them nightmares gave them courage and strength. I suppose experience does that to you, but this was fake–a fantasy. Most of our accomplishments, especially in the den were enhanced by gadgets and ninja suits.
“It’s a family activity and we will get fresh air and lots of exercise.” Kal was radiant.
“Isn’t there football or something on that you want to watch? Don’t you kids have friends to play with?” My head still ached but their pleading faces wore me down. I packed water bottles and some food and off we went to the laundry room.