Chapter 1 – A Message from Archie
In the seaside town of Blackpool, there lived a 10-year-old boy called Jonathan Evans. He had two younger brothers named Matthew (8) and Daniel (6). He and his family were religious. They always went to church and prayed. They lived with their mother, Mrs Evelyn Martha Evans, in Blackpool, near the seafront. Their home consisted of a reasonably large family house on the Blackpool coast. The house had more than enough room for a family of five. There were the usual features, a kitchen, a lounge, a bathroom as well as three bedrooms, one for the parents, one for Jonathan and Matthew and one for Daniel. In spite of all that, the Evans family still somehow thought they could do with living somewhere bigger, if they could help it. Their father Oswald was away helping to restore a luxury mansion out in the countryside or so they thought.
One afternoon, the Evans family was walking along the promenade, accompanied by their Uncle and Mrs Evans’ brother in law named Quentin and his three daughters. Their names were Lucy (10), and May and Courtney who were 8 year old identical twins. It was the middle of summer so night had not yet come. Jonathan’s cousins saw a lot of his family. They lived just outside Blackpool in the countryside.
The Evans family were just passing a grand hotel known as the Snorbeck when a middle-aged man wearing a black suit and a dog collar came running up. He carried a pinewood cane. Everyone knew who he was. The man was Reverend Archie Sycamore of St. John’s Church (where the family went on Sundays and after which their eldest son got his name). Mr. and Mrs Evans knew him particularly well as he was psychic. They were psychic too. All the Evans grown-ups were psychic but they did not for one minute believe they had passed such abilities on to their respective children. Indeed, the Evans grown-ups even went as far as trying to keep all references to psychic powers a secret from their children at all costs.
‘Evans family!’ cried Reverend Archie as he approached them. ‘Oh thank goodness I have found you!’ ‘What is the problem, Archie?’ asked Uncle Quentin. ‘Oh I have been invited to the House of Aston and so have you lot.’ replied Archie. ‘They came to my home via teleport…’ ‘Archie no, do not say it!’ interrupted Uncle Quentin. Mrs Evans frowned and folded her arms.
Reverend Archie cleared his throat then frowned himself. Archie was the opposite of the Evans’. He thought they were just being ridiculous refusing to believe their children had not inherited their powers. In all honesty, he was right and keeping secrets like this despite having agreed to it long ago was just being daft. The children looked excited. ‘But I also have a sneaking suspicion about this.’ Reverend Archie quickly said.
‘Well whatever it is, we had better go to Seaside Towers and see my sister.’ suggested Mrs Evans.
The Evans family and Reverend Archie proceeded to make their way to Seaside Towers where Mrs Evans’ sister Gertrude had an apartment on the ground floor. In no time at all, they arrived at their destination. As the Evans, family and Reverend Archie approached Aunt Gertrude’s apartment, the door opened before they could reach it.
‘Come on in.’ said Aunt Gertrude from a distance.
Aunt Gertrude also had psychic powers and she was even more sceptical over the idea of the children having inherited such powers from their parents.
If anyone in the Evans family needed a bigger place to live, it was most definitely Aunt Gertrude, if her apartment was anything to go by.
‘So what brings you all to my humble abode?’ Aunt Gertrude asked. ‘I have received an invitation from the House of Aston and so have you lot.’ Reverend Archie explained.
The entire Evans family nodded in agreement. ‘But Archie suspects something is wrong.’ Jonathan added. ‘Aha, and very well timed too!’ said Aunt Gertrude. ‘There is trouble brewing at The House of Aston!’ The children gasped. ‘That is where your daddy is!’ cried May and Courtney the twins, looking Jonathan and Matthew and Daniel. ‘Something tells me something really is not right.’ Uncle Quentin exclaimed.
‘Well, let us all gather round the table and do something about it.’ Mrs Evans added. She and Uncle Quentin quickly closed and blacked out all the windows while Aunt Gertrude turned out all the lights. ‘Wait a minute! Someone is going to have to watch the children!’ said Mrs Evans suddenly.
Jonathan and his brothers and cousins sighed. They knew what their respective parents were about to do but they were never allowed to join in because of their parents’ staunch refusal to believe that they too were psychic. The children retreated into the kitchen without saying a word.
‘Put your ears against the wall quick!’ Jonathan said to his brothers and cousins.
‘Good idea!’ they all said in reply.
‘They did not say we cannot eavesdrop!’
The Evans family elders and Reverend Archie sat around a table in the middle of Aunt Gertrude’s lounge. They all linked hands, held them tight, and shut their eyes. Once everyone was silent and focused, Aunt Gertrude began to speak in a mystical tone. ‘There is a plot, a plot to steal a valuable artefact from The House of Aston, the artefact is very valuable and is an Aston family heirloom. I receive this information from an unknown source.’
Aunt Gertrude suddenly stopped.
‘What is wrong?’ asked Matthew, listening through the kitchen wall, his brothers and cousins were doing likewise. ‘Something tells me her memory has gone.’ replied Lucy, next to him. ‘I know who the source is.’ Jonathan exclaimed. ‘A girl named Annabelle!’
Jonathan’s brothers and cousins immediately knew that Jonathan was referring to the Astons’ oldest daughter. The Astons had three children overall. The Evans children were indeed psychic in case you are wondering. They all knew what was coming next. They did not even need to be psychic to know that. Their respective parents were immediately going to assume the message had come from Mr. or Mrs Aston. This happened every time they held what they called a ‘Psyche’s Conference’ and would always continue this practice until they had received contact from a grown-up. Only then would the Evans grown-ups believe what they had learned from the ‘conference’ was real. The Evans children on the other hand, knew the truth straight away, regardless of whether it came from a child or a grown-up. Jonathan’s father had told them all about the Aston family whenever he came home from the so-called ‘restoration project’ so they easily knew all their names.
‘I believe the Astons have only just inherited their old family mansion and it is in terrible disrepair.’ Aunt Gertrude continued. ‘If my husband’s words are anything to go by then the answer is yes.’ Mrs Evans replied. ‘Wait, something else is coming to me.’ Aunt Gertrude suddenly cut in. ‘The plot to rob the Astons involves the one we call Oswald.’
Everyone was shocked, especially Jonathan! Surely his own father was not about to commit a crime, it would not be like Mr. Evans to do such a thing. This was beginning to sound increasingly like a call for help. ‘The Astons request our presence at The House of Aston immediately.’ Aunt Gertrude continued.
Everyone immediately stood up. The children immediately sprinted out of the kitchen. ‘But how do we get there?’ asked Matthew. ‘You have not been eavesdropping have you?’ Mrs Evans asked. ‘Why would they want to do that, they are not psychic so you claim?’ Reverend Archie said.
He was getting rather fed-up with the Evans’ pessimistic attitude towards their respective children. Jonathan and his brothers and cousins gathered around Reverend Archie, frowning and nodding their heads with their arms folded.
‘Point taken, now how are we going to get there?’ asked Aunt Gertrude.
‘Ah, just you wait and see!’ replied Uncle Quentin as he and Mrs Evans went over to a rug next to Aunt Gertrude’s sofa. ‘Close your eyes children!’ said Aunt Gertrude.
They closed their eyes. Uncle Quentin and Mrs Evans did the same but then they held up their hands. The rug suddenly lifted up of its own accord and took the entire particular section of the floor with it! There appeared to be a small staircase going down. Mrs Evans and Uncle Quentin put the ‘floor’ to one side and everyone proceeded down the stairs. The stairs led to what looked like an underground tunnel.
‘Where do we go now?’ asked Daniel as the Evans family entered the tunnel. Before anyone could answer, Reverend Archie suddenly shut his eyes.
‘I am receiving another message from The House of Aston.’ he said. ‘Do we have to close our eyes again?’ asked May and Courtney in a rather groaning kind of voice, their sister and cousins sighed almost in unison.
‘Not down here you do not!’ Uncle Quentin quickly replied.
Before anyone else could say anything, a man in a maroon blazer and sapphire coloured suit appeared. Everyone knew straight away that it was Mr. Aston.
‘Welcome, Evans family, we request your presence at The House of Aston this evening, all you have to do is follow our good friend Archie.’
‘I wonder why you request our presence.’ Uncle Quentin said, suspiciously.
Mr. Aston replied.
‘There is no need to worry, Evans family; we only request your presence to celebrate since one of your family members helped to restore our home.’
Everyone was amazed. Finally, Mrs Evans spoke.
‘You mean Oswald, my husband. He never stops talking about his restoration project when he is with us.’ Mrs Evans explained.
‘Then it is only fair that you get to see the fruits of his hard work since you are his family.’ Mr. Aston said again.
‘Now once again, follow Archie while I go back to my study, see you at The House of Aston, sincerely Mr. R. Aston.’
The Evans family all looked at each other, not everyone was sure if they wanted to go or not, for all they knew it could have been a trap or a plot or something! However, they had learned from Mr. Evans that the Aston family were decent people and there was no need to worry about them.
‘The first thing we must do is get our belongings!’ said Mrs Evans.
‘Hold on there a minute.’ she said and she and her sons quickly ran back to their house, which thankfully was just down the road and came back about a quarter of an hour later all carrying duffel bags. They did not need suitcases as such since they were only intending to stay the one night. Uncle Quentin and his daughters already had their belongings with them as they had intended to spend the night with Aunt Gertrude. The apartment was rather large as Seaside Towers was also a family holiday residence as well as a normal residence.
‘I had better go and pack my things as well.’ said Aunt Gertrude.
Once everyone in the Evans family was all packed and ready to go, they all began debating over who should be the leader. ‘Well, off we go then.’ said Archie before the debate could continue much longer. ‘You lead the way, Archie, you clearly know something the rest of us do not.’ suggested Uncle Quentin after about another ten minutes. ‘Aunt Gertrude should lead with me.’ Reverend Archie replied. ‘She is the one who knows of the plot to rob the Astons.’
Aunt Gertrude shook her head. ‘You be the leader, Archie, you are the one who suspected something was not right.’
Jonathan and his brothers and cousins sighed slightly and held each other’s hands.
‘Everyone should hold hands with me.’ Reverend Archie instructed. ‘Just a moment, we need to put the floor back into place.’ said Uncle Quentin. It was not at all safe to go leaving great big holes in the floor, for all the Evans family knew, someone could be following them. Uncle Quentin and Mrs Evans used their powers to put the section of floor back in its place. That did not mean they were now in darkness because they all had a torch on them. Then once Reverend Archie and the Evans family, starting with Jonathan then the other five children and the other three grown-ups were all holding hands, Archie shut his eyes and the tunnel disappeared.