The old man’s coat was worn and matted with what looked and smelled like animal dung. He was clearly some kind of tramp. There were holes in his gloves and stains on his pants and his shoes were quite unspeakable. Frederik quietly took a very tight grip on his backpack.
“I’m sorry,” he said, as he had been taught to do in such circumstances. “Not today, thank you.”
He averted his eyes and stepped aside and waited for the old man to shuffle off and worry someone else.
“Sorry?” the man growled, leaning close with his terrible breath. It was all Frederik could do not to gag. “You’ll be sorry when her zombies rise from the bowels of the Hill!”
“Zombies?” said Frederik, alarmed.
“Lurking in the darkness. Legions of them. They will gut you like dogs and sell your kidneys for castanets. You felt that earthquake. They have awoken! Get aboveground. Board up the exits!”
He looked alarmingly direct at Frederik from terrifyingly close.
“It wasn’t an earthquake,” Frederik said.
“Of course it wasn’t. It was them.”
Kevin John Scott writes adventure mysteries for middle grade kids and adults who think like middle grade kids (a surprising proportion). He is from the oldest town in Britain, has lived in various peculiar countries, and now lives near Seattle. www.kevinjohnscott.com
From the author: “Frederik Sandwich and the Earthquake that Couldn’t Possibly Be is about a boy who can’t pronounce his own name, and a girl so weird that no one will talk to her. Together they investigate a most unusual earthquake, convinced it was something much more sinister. But when they unearth a plot to murder the much-loved mayor, no one will listen to them. Why? Because she is the weirdest kid in town and he can’t pronounce his own name. It’s a funny adventure mystery about dreamers of every kind, and the things we do to belong when we don’t belong.”