The Attic Air

I held up a hand, and my small band of adventurers froze, glancing nervously around the dark, cobwebbed hole we’d stumbled into.

‘Careful now,’ I whispered. ‘We’re close to it.’

‘How can you tell?’ asked the youngest member of the party, a small girl with wide eyes.

‘It’s the sound,’ I said, dropping to a knee so I could speak softly in her ear. ‘Listen – do you hear it?’

She squeezed her eyes shut, concentrating hard.

‘Yes!’ she said excitedly. ‘What is it?!’

‘It’s the stupid air conditioning unit,’ the tallest of my adventurers said with a roll of his eyes. ‘Dad still hasn’t figured out where to get air conditioning services around Canberra.’

‘James,’ I said sternly, flashing him an annoyed look. ‘We’re in the middle of an adventure.

‘No, we’re in the middle of a power outage,’ he countered. ‘And you dragged us up to the attic with torches and a bad Renaissance-fair accent to try and keep us distracted until it comes back on.’

‘Your brother,’ I whispered to my daughter, horror dripping from my voice. ‘He sees too much!’

She giggled, and I smiled at her.

‘Well, James, I guess you’ve got me,’ I sighed. ‘You’re too old to pull the wool over your eyes.’

‘Correct,’ he said dryly. ‘Can I go back downstairs now? My phone has plenty of charge.’

‘Ah-ha!’ I cried, jumping in front of his escape route and snatching his phone from his hands. ‘A magical relic! I knew something was corrupting your young, impressionable mind!’

‘Give that back!’ he growled, reaching for it.

‘Quick, child!’ I called out to my daughter. ‘Take this fiendish thing!’

She giggled again, catching the phone beautifully as I tossed it to her.

‘Cassie!’ James yelled after his sister, as she disappeared out of the attic. ‘Great,’ he said, turning back to me. ‘Just great. I was about to look up a company that performs heating services local to Canberra for you and everything.’

‘You were not,’ I scoffed.

‘No, definitely not. Still,’ he frowned. ‘Not cool.’

‘Want to go see where your sister hid it?’ I asked him with a grin.

‘Fine. But if it’s in the dishwasher, you owe me a new phone.’