Looking For Joy

Part One

The Book

One night, the boy Jack was reading in his room, when the smell of his grandma’s brownies replaced the plain, old, airy smell. Just a month before, his pops died. Later on, feelings still carry through the tragedy. The day this all triggered, his mom came up to him; tears came dripping down her face. ¨Son,” she takes a heavy sigh, ¨Pops died.¨ That was it. Those were the only three words she said before walking out the door. In memory of him, he was buried in the graveyard across the street from Jack´s house. Every night, Jack would view the picture of Pops that he placed under his pillow. Tears would roll down his cheeks, just like his mother’s when she told him about Pop’s death. But this night, this night felt different for him. Winds howled at the milky white moon and blew through the dark lonely streets in a hurry. Clouds started to group together; the sky grew darker as he kept reading.

He thought and thought. There were some hmms and ahhs then an aha! He discovered the thing behind all this. Jack thought about this for a long time. The winds continued to howl, followed by the lightning striking out of anger. Jack yawned, and, as he did that, put his book away and into bed he went. He tucked the covers on in one swift move and fell dead. 

The bell struck twelve o’clock, and in one shake Jack woke up. In a panic, he got out of his bed and took a look around. Winds still blew and howled, but not as much as before. The book, that was what was on Jack’s mind right now. Slowly and carefully, he took the handles on the window and nudged it, aware to not make a single sound. A small mouse squeaked as he pulled the window. He kept doing this motion despite it making a little noise. Now, the window was big enough to fit an entire human, enough to fit Jack. Thinking, Jack leaned towards the window and took a look down, not too deep. His body trembled and shook. He was thinking and wondering. He started back to his bed, then turned around, making his final decision. He ran the edge of the room, where there were closets and posters and down to the left corner, a door. He took two big steps toward the window in a fast pace and one giant leap, flying out the window. Kicking his legs, Jack managed to have a decent landing right in front of a rose bush. At the time, a car hustled by, and Jack ducked in the sharp rose bush, making sure not to be seen. 

The lights lit up the sidewalk, shining almost as much as the full white moon that stood out in the pitch black sky. Jack, who was very scared, made a sprint, staying very low across the street, and climbed over the low graveyard fence. He checked his watch: 12:10. He still had time, but not a lot. He crawled across the graveyard. Jack had memorized where his grandpa was buried to rest. One left, two rights, another left, then the final right turn. He kept repeating this to himself over and over again until he felt confident. He kept going through the graveyard, passing stones carved with letters. Though Jack was used to the graveyard, as if it were a normal thing, and it never really scared him, now was when he was really tested. Shaking and shivering, from not just the cold but the intensity and how freaked out he was, Jack continued step by step on the clumpy dirt through the graveyard. He took his final turn as a light shined on him. Jack froze. I’m dead. The light though continued to shine throughout the graveyard and left him frozen in his tracks. Jack, now with more caution, took his last steps to get to Pop’s grave. He took his frozen, bare hands and started to dig on the hard, dirt ground. Jack’s hands started to bleed with pain, but the boy Jack didn’t stop. Shoveling the dirt with exhaustion, he took a breath. The boy Jack studied the head stone, reading everything, then fixed his head down, staring at the dirt. Though, not just dirt was in his sight, but a golden, thick book stuffed with pages you could see sticking out. 

Now, the boy Jack was not just any boy. He was a smart boy. And with that, what he was searching for was positively lying right in front of him. Any other kid wouldn’t know that his or her desire lied right in front of them. 

Jack immediately identified this book, unlike others could have done. He snatched the book and made a run for it. Jack traced his steps back, following them back home. He looked up at the sky and couldn’t help it but stop and stare. The stars were twinkling in the pitch black sky and the moon showed the path for the lost aliens who were probably trying to find their way home.

Jack suddenly realized what he was doing and went back to running, clutching the book so tight that his palms were starting to turn a bright pink just like his face from the cold, intense weather. Jack climbed over the fence and froze in his tracks. How do I get back up there? Jack clutched the book even tighter and then jumped on the tree, hugging it. He climbed the tree, grasping every part he could. Jack then switched over to climbing the nearest branch to the window. Though there was quite a big gap between them, Jack was up for anything, my reader. You should know that. Jack gripped the book one more time, and then risked himself, and then made the jump.

At first, Jack just closed his eyes as he was flying through the air, then opened them, then hit the floor followed by a thud that could have woken everyone up. Jack threw his clothes off, closed the window, ran to bed, and then placed the book under the pillow where Pop’s picture was.

“I cracked the code, Pops. I did it.” 

The next day was Saturday. It was seven o’clock when Jack’s alarm clock went off. No one was up yet, but Jack felt something peculiar. He dug under his pillow and found the dusty, golden book. He opened the book and blew off the dust, and it flew in his face. Jack started to read; it was hard, but he put his all into it. 

In big, bold, handwritten letters the book said, “One left, two rights, another left, then a final right turn. This is how you found this book.”

Jack found this odd, because it was right. He peeled through the pages. “There are three steps to joy. One: Find it. Two: Use it. Three: Share it.”

Step number three was scribbled out. Jack also found this odd. What could this mean? He closed the book and thought. Now was when his brain was really working. 

Jack was stunned. He decided to go down for breakfast. Grandma was cooking downstairs; the smell of juicy bacon and gooey eggs combined in the air. Everybody else was sitting at the table, Grandma, Mom, Dad, everybody except Pops. He knew he couldn’t tell them about the book. Jack’s dad was reading the newspaper, sipping his coffee. Jack tried his best to act like it was a normal day, but he failed, still thinking about the book. He sat at the breakfast table when the smell of eggs and a subtle amount of bacon combined onto a plate that lay right in front of him. Everybody dug into their plate, devouring the beautiful smell of the meal, though, Jack wasn’t very hungry. In fact, he wasn’t hungry at all. 

“Jack, aren’t you hungry?” His mom asked.

“No, I’m fine.” 

Jack would have gotten up, except he knew the rule: you sit at the table until everyone is done eating, only then can you be excused. So as a result, Jack waited. 

When breakfast was over, he climbed the stairs and into his room, shutting the door behind him. He hopped onto his bed and curiously decided to keep reading. He picked up the golden hardcover book.

Jack found nothing. He started to get his hopes up and then, he found more information. “Looking for joy?” That’s what the book said. Jack stumbled upon the words, trying to make sense of them. 

“Land of dead”

This wasn’t possible. It couldn’t be. 

He started to sweat.

To chatter.

To imagine.

To wonder, most of all.

All of this was blended in Jack’s brain.

This couldn’t be. There was something else; Jack knew it. He flipped through the pages once again. Examining every detail. Most of the pages had designs on them in golden ink. Swirls and curls were carefully printed on each piece of paper. Jack opened his laptop. “The land of the dead,” he typed in the computer. Nothing. The screen went black, dark. 

His quest for joy just had begun. However, there was no telling what was out there.

Again, it was night. Thunder ruled the sky and lighting cackled away. Jack was puzzled about the book. He knew going back to the grave would bring him more clues and ideas. A full moon just appeared up on the big, blue, black sky. That was the signal. Jack carefully opened the window, and again, jumped. This time, he was not scared. Yet. As he crossed the street, he was starting to see everything. Dead bodies rising, ghosts floating. And that was when he fainted. Face first. When he woke up, the first thing he saw were zombies with scabs. Ghosts. White, clear. A big, deep black dropped jaw. If there was one thing Jack knew about ghosts, it’s that you can walk right through them. And that’s what he did. If there was one thing Jack knew about zombies, it’s that you can’t walk through them. So that was when he encountered a zombie. The zombie’s scabs were as red as fire. Jack, though, wasn’t giving up. He ran right past it, being as free as a bird. The investigation just started. Jack scanned the area, while still being aware of the fact that he was engulfed by the dead. He just didn’t understand. He was stunned.

Now, my reader, the expected is never going to be expected, not in Jack’s case.

So, when a big, black hole popped up, he didn’t know how to react. However, even in the most troubling, hard times, you can always learn or realize something. Jack was just uncovering another layer to the mystery. The big, deep, purest, darkest, blackest hole. Now, what this was, was unknown to Jack. Except, there is one thing he realized, that the zombies were guarding it, and when this discovery was made, another layer was peeled off and swallowed just like an onion. Now, it wasn’t that easy, Jack now had to make it back to his apartment, and safely.

Except, he wasn’t done. There was a feeling, a buzzing signal that flowed through his body. He did not know what this was and neither do I. Except, Jack had a clue, it meant to stay. He daringly, boldly stayed. Although, one moment later, no matter what, Jack knew he had to go. And fast. Except, something caught his eye. More and more zombies and ghosts were appearing out of the hole, more and more. Jack’s head was debating whether to leave or stay. Eventually, he had to leave. It was too dangerous. The hole clearly mattered to the dead though. He had to think more.

The next day, Sunday, was time for more investigating. However, last night left a mark on his head, and Jack was especially curious about that. And so, not much happened on that day, until, of course, the signal. It was, again, twelve o’clock. Jack woke up, but this time just took the stairs down and walked across the street. But that’s when he saw it. He had woken up a little before 12, now, he didn’t know this. As the narrator, it is my job to inform you of this information. And so, what he saw were whirling winds, tornadoes, and hurricanes. They were all forming one black hole. The winds were getting faster and faster, the hole was getting bigger, and the winds howled louder and louder. Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, it stopped. Jack knew he had his opportunity, so with no thought, he stuck his hand into the hole, blindly. Now, when I said it’s my job to inform you on important information, I didn’t mean all information, though. This is something I can’t tell you, though, and what Jack saw in the hole. But all I know is that soon the zombies and ghosts came to defend the hole, and like yesterday, he had nowhere to go besides home, and that’s where he went.

And today was Monday. And that means school. As Jack left the house, he felt as far away from Pops as he’s ever been.

The bell rang, giving the entire school the symbol of recess. As Jack packed up his stuff, he felt a great deal of relief of excitement. Finally, an opportunity.

However, reader, life isn’t problem free. And that’s when Jack ran into Polly Jones, a seventh grader, which made her one year older than Jack. As she was heading out for recess, Jack realized she was talking about the same topic which had been on his mind all morning, and was holding the same book that was hidden under his bed. 

“And I figured out a way to see the dead!”

 And so, there are more people than just Jack with the same mission. 

And after school, Jack did his homework, however, from what I saw, everything was incorrect:

What is X in 4,043+X=7,657 pops

4,567+6,123=  land Of Dead

(5+7) * 42 – 17=  The book

And tonight was the first night that Jack went to bed, with a mind clouded with thoughts.

And the next morning, Jack didn’t eat breakfast; he wasn’t hungry. And so, with an empty stomach and a full mind, he went to school.

The first person he saw was Polly Jones of the seventh grade. She was reading a book, but not just any book, the book Jack also had. I guess Jack knew it was his time to act, because right then he said, “Hi,” to her.

“Whatcha readin’ Polly?”

Polly just glared at Jack and kept reading.

“Where’d you get that book from?”

This time, the minimal response. “A graveyard.”

“Which one?”

“The one my grandmother was buried in.”

And then Jack walked away, and that could’ve been the longest conversation he had and will have with Polly Jones of seventh grade.

The bell rang and all the middle-schoolers piled into their classes. However, Jack is different from your average sixth grader. He was smarter, faster, stronger, more athletic, and, most of all, more curious. And, due to these traits, Jack turned away from school, in search of a trash can to dump all of his questions into.

His mom and dad both had jobs, so they weren’t home at this time of day. But, Mrs. Moretti always left keys under her mat outside the door. He dumped his backpack onto the floor, and, immediately, with no more thought, rushed out the door. Instead of going to Pop’s grave, Jack had the intention to go to another grave instead. He dug and dug until there was a hole in the ground with a golden, dirt-covered book. He went from grave to grave, and at every grave he saw the same thing: dirt-covered golden books.

And on every book, it read, “Looking for joy.” And when you flipped the cover it said, “Lost your loved one? Bring them back by reading this book.”

And so, Jack concluded that in every death, there is a way to see the dead once again.

And that is when the binder clicked.

Today was the day Jack was going to face Polly Jones of the seventh grade.

“I need that book!” 

A group of sixth, seventh and eight graders surrounded the two right after they heard Jack scream at Polly. 

“Well, get it.”

And so, Jack swiftly swiped the book out of her hands, but she swiftly canceled his move by taking it back. 

“Who do you think you are?”

“Uhhh… A guy searching for his grandpa!”

“And I am a woman searching for my grandma, so out of my way!”

Jack swiped the book from her once again, and ran. This time, all the way home. To Polly Jones, it seemed as if she’d never get the book back again. But that was soon to change…

End Of Part One

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