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Rated: E · Short Story · Detective · #2002556
Two young best friends try to solve a mystery, with hilarious results.
         Deanna Schwartz

The Furnace

"Brenna! Brenna! Brenna!"
I jolt awake at the sound of my name being yelled. "Wh-wh-what?' I mumble, still not fully awake.
"Jake's here," my mom explains, walking out of my room and leaving the door wide open. I stumble downstairs and see Jake standing in the foyer.
"Why are you here so early? You woke me up!" I exclaim, pointing my finger at him.
"Bren, it's a little after noon. You can't just sleep forever," he explains.
"Oh, yes I can! It's summer!"
"Oh, no you can not!" my mother calls from the kitchen. I groan. "Have you eaten lunch yet, Jake? I can make you a sandwich." She questions, peeking her head around the corner.
"Thanks, Ms. Melissa, a sandwich would be great," Jake answers. He grabs my hand and leads me into the kitchen.
"I'm still half asleep!" I complain, plopping down at the table.
Jake takes the seat across from me and says, "Well, you better wake up. We're going to the furnace today." I perk up instantly at the mention of the furnace. A few weeks ago, Jake and I discovered a huge, abandoned, burnt house in the woods. We've been going back as much as possible ever since, to look through the house. It's amazing how much survived the fire.
"Yes!" I yell out, excitement coursing through my veins.
"What is this furnace you're talking about?" My mom asks, setting two ham sandwiches down on the table.
"Nothing!" We say at the exact same time. She rolls her eyes at us. We quickly devour our sandwiches, putting our plates in the sink once we are finished. Jake waits outside while I run upstairs to put on shoes and grab my backpack. Once we have everything we need for our adventure, we start walking towards the woods.

After about 15 minutes of walking, we arrive at the house I've grown to love. Jake does a circle around the house, making sure it's safe for us to go in. "Bren?" he calls out.
"You better come here." Confused, I step over piles of debris to where he is standing. "Look at this," he says, pointing at a window in the house. The window is covered in scratch marks, as if someone took their long, sharp fingernails and ran them down the glass.
"Someone else has been here," I realize.
"Thanks, Sherlock," Jake says, rolling his eyes.
"Why would someone come here?" I ponder.
"I don't know, why do we come here? Maybe someone else wanted to explore," he explains.
"That's not fair, this is our place!" I feel my face getting red.
"Brenna, we don't own this place. Other people are allowed to come here."
"Yeah, but that doesn't mean we want them to!" I kick at a pile of leaves that have collected over the years. "We might as well go inside and see if anything's changed," I suggest.
Jake nods his head in agreement and he head towards the entrance to the house. We push open the heavy brick door, and step inside. "I'll go to the left wing and you go in the right," he says.
"Alright," I utter. I head in the direction he told me to, and look around. I walk up and down the hall a few times, going in every room. Everything looks the same. I tell Jake just that.
"Same on this side," he calls out. We meet up again in the foyer.
"Jake, I don't think anyone has been here. I mean, nothing has changed from the last time we were here. Maybe someone just scratched the window from the outside and left," I assure him.
"Or someone's just really good at covering up their tracks," he suggests, pushing open the door and stepping into the sunlight. I follow him.
"No, I don't think anyone actually went inside the house," I say, sitting down on a rock.
"How can you be sure?" Jake exclaims, sitting down next to me.
"Nothing inside the house changed!" I cry. "It's just the window!"
"Maybe we should camp out here and see if anyone comes," he says quietly.
I stare at him. "Jake, you're crazy! Our moms would kill us, and you know that."
He looks at his feet for a moment, as if in deep thought. He whips his head up and looks intensly at me, his eyes glimmering with adventure. "Not if we lie to them," he says excitedly.
My heart pounds. I've never lied to my mom before. "What are you suggesting?" I whisper.
"You tell your mom that you're sleeping over at my house, and I tell my mom that I'm sleeping over at your house. Think about it, Brenna! It's the perfect plan," he explains.
Is he out of his mind? "What if they decide to call each other?" I yell questioningly.
"We'll have Scott and Braden cover for us," he says as if it's the most obvious thing in the world.
Ok, now I'm sure he's out of his mind. "Braden would never help me. You know that! He's a jerk. Worst brother ever, in fact."
He sighs. "You're right. He won't help you. Unless..." he drags out.
"Unless what?" I shout over him. There's no way Braden will ever help me in any situation.
"...we offer him some kind of incentive. Money, maybe?" I consider his idea. It's not a bad one.
"He won't take any less than $100, where are we gonna get that kind of money?" I ask. His plan is quickly falling apart.
He smirks at me and says, "Didn't you get like $8,000 from your bat mitzvah?"
I shove him and yell, "Absolutely not! That money is supposed to help pay for my college tuition!"
"Please, Brenna, please!" he begs. "This house is really important to me."
"It's important to me too, Jake! I just don't want to give my idiot brother over $100 so you can figure out who touched the window! What if whoever it is doesn't even come tonight?"
"I'll pay you back!" he blurts out. I raise my eyebrows at him. How will he get that kind of money? I ask him just that. "I'll get a job, I promise, I'll pay you back."
"Alright, you have yourself a deal," I say, grabbing his hand and shaking it.
"Let's put this plan in action!" he shouts.
I laugh and shake my head at him. "You're such a dork."

We discuss our plan on the walk back to our street. When we reach our street, we decide the best thing to do is talk to our brothers first. We go to Jake's house first to talk to Scott. We explain to him our situation and he agrees to help us immediately. I have to admit, I'm quite jealous of the relationship Jake has with his brother. My relationship with Braden consists of us yelling at eachother.
Anyways, next we go to my house to talk to Braden. We regroup in my room, and then knock on his door. Braden swings the door open and glares at us. "What do you want?" he growls.
"We need your help with something really important," I explain.
"Absolutely not. Take your boyfriend and go away," he says, shutting the door in our faces.
"He is not my boyfriend!" I yell, kicking the closed door. Jake puts a hand on my shoulder. I turn to look at him, and am surprised to see that his cheeks are bright red.
"Stick to the plan, Brenna," he says, calming me down.
"We can pay you!" I shout. The door flies back open. Braden leans against the doorway, looking at us curiously.
"How much are we talking about here?" he asks.
"$150," I say confidently. We discussed the amount on the way here. Jake nods in agreement.
"I need more than that," he says, looking down upon me. "Clean my room."
I look beyond Braden and into his room. It's disgusting. Half-eaten packages of food and dirty clothes line the room. "Ew! No way!" I exclaim. There is no way I'm setting foot in there.
"Then no deal," he shuts the door again.
"Brenna!" Jake exclaims grabbing my arm. "We need his help!"
"Did you see that room, Jake? It is disgusting!" I cry.
"Please, Brenna, it won't take you more than two hours," he pleads.
I snake my arm out of his grasp and yell, "Two hours? I may die of inhaling toxic fumes!"
"I'll help you, ok? We'll split the work. Please do this for us. Think of our adventure, Bren!" he says.
"Why can't you just go by yourself?" I mumble.
"I need you with me, you're my partner in crime!" he exclaims.
"Alright, alright, I'll do it," I say, succumbing to his pleading.
"Yes! I knew you'd give in eventually," he says excitedly.
"Braden! Open up!" I shout, pounding my fist on the door. "We'll do it." He opens the door and we explain the plan to him. He agrees hesitantly. We he hand him the money and promise the clean his room tomorrow.
Our next step in the plan is to talk to our mothers. Jake sits in my room and calls his mom while I talk to mine.
"Hey, mom?" I call out to her.
She looks up from her book and says, "What is it, Brenna?"
Jake walks down the stairs and stands beside me right as I ask, "Can I sleep over at Jake's house tonight?"
"Sure, honey. Let me just call Laura," she says, putting down her book and reaching for the phone.
I look at Jake, panicked. "Scott will cover for us," he whispers, assuring me. "Also, my mom said yes. She says she doesn't need to talk to your mom." I smile. We turn our attention to my mother, who is talking on the phone.
"Oh, hi Scott! Is your mom there?" I let out a breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding. "Can you tell her I called?" Jake smiles at me. "Thank you so much! Bye!" My mom sets the phone back down on its charger. "She was in the shower," she explains.
I act surprised and say, "She was?" My mom nods. "Well, I'm gonna go back my bags and then we'll head over to Jake's house. Bye!" I grab Jake's arm and pull him upstairs.
"What do you think we need?" he asks. We think together and come up with a list. We go around my room and start packing up what we'll need. Flashlights, cards for when we're bored, camera, snacks, two camp chairs, sleeping bags, and an old tent that my family used to use for camping. We stuff it all in three bags and head out.
At this point, it's almost five. We decide to make ourselves some mac and cheese for dinner and quickly eat it at the table. After our meal, we grab our bags and head to our destination.

I put down our bags and take out the tent. I start to pitch it, and fail miserably. "Here, let me do this," Jake says, taking the equipment from my hands. Seeing the look on my face, he raises his eyebrows at me and says, "Boy Scouts, remember?" I shake my head and laugh. Once the tent is up, I crawl inside. It's just big enough to fit both of us and our stuff.
On my way out, I spot something small and black on the ground. I get closer to inspect it, and shriek. "Jake!" I scream, barreling my way out of the tent.
He turns around and stares at me. "What is it?"
"There is a bug in the tent! Do something!" I cry, my heart racing.
Jake doubles over, laughing. That jerk. There is a bug in the tent, and he can clearly see that it is distressing me! "Brenna, I can't believe you sometimes. You're so brave in every other walk of life, yet a tiny bug scares you. You crack me up!" he says through laughs.
"Ugh, Jake! Great, glad I amuse you. Now, can you please do something about the bug?" I yell, shoving him towards the tent.
"Ok, ok," he chuckles, stepping into it. He comes back out a moment later, the bug in his hand. He sticks his hand out towards me and says, "Bren, this is nothing."
"Ew, get it away from me!" I scream, running away backwards. I stumble over a rock and fall, landing on my butt and banging my head on a tree stump. Sharp pain sears through my body. I lay on the ground for a moment, staring up at the sky, blinded by pain. "Ow..."I mutter.
I hear laughter and feel a hand reaching for mine. Jake pulls me up to my feet. "Silly girl." I glare at him. "Watch where you're going next time. I disposed of the bug, by the way."
I brush the dirt off my legs. "Thank you, Jake. Or should I say Jerk!"
He looks at me, seemingly offended. "What did I do?"
"You laughed at me because I was afraid of a bug, and then laughed at me again when I fell!" I exclaim, looking at him accusingly.
He sighs. "Brenna, I helped you right after I laughed remember?" He's right, he did help me.
"Alright, you have a point. Promise me you won't laugh at me again," I utter.
He shakes his head. "Nope, can't do that. I'm your best friend, I'm allowed to laugh at you."
"Ugh, Jake! Shut up, ok? Just, shut up," I say, giving up. He smirks at me. "Let's finish setting up our stuff." We take the sleeping bags out of my backpack, unroll them, and lay them down in the tent. I put the rest of my stuff in the tent while Jake unfolds the chairs. Using a tree stump as a table, we play card games while we wait for nightfall.
Around eight o'clock, we make our plan for the night."How about we take shifts? So like, you sleep for an hour while I keep watch, then we switch, and so on and so forth," Jake suggests.
"Sounds like a good idea to me," I comment.
Jake takes the first shift while I sleep in the tent. After the hour is up, he comes and shakes me awake. I grab my book and camera out of my bag and head outside. Plopping down in the chair, I begin my shift. I read for a while, looking up every few minutes to scan the area. Nothing. The alarm on my watch that I set for ten o'clock goes off, and I switch places with Jake.
This goes on all night, with no people showing up. Finally, around six in the morning, we give up. "I don't think anyone's going to come," I finally say.
Jake, who had woken up half an hour earlier admits that I'm right. We realize that we can't go home yet and hang out at the furnace for another two hours.
On our way into the clearing that separates the woods from the street, I see something. Something dark brown, with white streaks. "Jake! Look, it's a cat!"
"Where?" he yells out. I point it out to him. Our voices must've startled it, because it starts moving.
"Follow it!" I call out, dropping the bags that I'm holding into the grass and running in the direction of the cat. I am shocked to see that it leads us right to the furnace. It goes around to the back of the house, and we follow it's tracks.  When we round the corner, it's like the cat has disappeared.
"Uh, where did it go?" Jake asks.
"How would I know?" I snap at him. I walk back and forth along the back of the house, looking at the wall.
All of a sudden, something catches my eye. A hole, about ten inches tall and wide. "Jake, look at this," I say to him. He walks over next to me and crouches down to inspect the hole. "I think it went in here," I suggest, cocking my head to look at him.
He nods. "I agree. " he confirms
"Well, we can't stop our exploration now!" I exclaim.
"The hole has to lead to the inside of the house, there's no other option," he explains.
We take mental notes of where in the house the hole is and trek to the front of the house. We crack open the big brick door and head directly for the wall where the hole is located. Oddly, I can't locate the hole anywhere. We push aside all the furniture that is against the wall, and find the hole, hidden behind a chair.
"The cat has to be in here somewhere,' Jake states. I nod in agreement. We split up like we did yesterday, and I walk down the right wing. I go into every room and look in every nook and crevice.
When I walk into the room with the scratched window, I find the cat, sitting on an ottoman, scratching at the window with it's paws. I stop in the doorway as it all fits together like a puzzle in my mind.I laugh harder than I may have ever laughed before in my life. I hear footsteps pounding on the concrete floor and see Jake running towards me. At this point, I am doubled over, laughing and crying.
"Brenna? Are you okay?" he asks waringly, putting a hand on my shoulder.
"The cat is the culprit!" I cry out, tears streaming down my face. My stomach hurts from laughing so hard.
"What are you talking about? I think the lack of sleep has made you go crazy," Jake says.
"See...for...yourself..." I choke out in between laughs, holding my arm out in the direction of the window. He gives me a puzzled look, walks into the room, and immediately starts laughing.

When I finally make it to my house, my mom is standing in the doorway, waiting for me. I take a deep breath, prepared to tell her all about my night at Jake's house. "How was your night with Jake?" she asks.
I start to give her the speech I prepared on the walk here. "It was fun! We watched a movie and..." she puts a hand on my shoulder and I stop talking.
My mother glares at me. "No, Brenna. I know that you weren't at Jake's house. I know that you spent the night in the woods," she says, sighing. My heart racing. Fear courses through my body. I'm in big trouble now. All of a sudden, I remember that Braden was supposed to cover for us.
"Braden!" I exclaim. "That jerk!" I start to run upstairs, but my mom grabs my arm and pulls me towards her.
"Braden didn't tell me anything," she says. I sigh in relief. I was not looking forward to committing fratricide. "He didn't have to." The feeling of of panic comes racing back.
"How-how-how did you find out?" I ask, stuttering over my words.
"That's not important," she says. "You are grounded for the rest of the summer," she says, sighing at me.
Grounded for the whole summer? That truly is an awful punishment, but I guess I deserve it. I accept my penalty dutifully, and head upstairs. Exhausted, I lay down on my bed and think about the last two days. Even though I got grounded, it was so worth it. What's life without a little adventure?

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