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Charlie Bone and The Invisible Boy
Emma looked down the corridor and saw Charlie Bone standing outside the history room. He had just said that Napoleon was the emperor of Russia. Mr. Pope, the history teacher, had screamed at Charlie, telling him he was an ignoramus, and he didn't want to see him in his class a minute longer.

"I didn't really hear the question." Charlie's loud whisper echoed across to Emma. "I was thinking about a dog."

Emma glanced up and down the corridor. There was no one around. "What dog?" she whispered.
In as quiet a voice as he could manage, Charlie told Emma about Benjamin and Runner Bean. "Why were you sent out?" he asked.

"I was just late," said Emma. She recounted her conversation with Mr. Boldova.
Charlie's eyes gleamed with interest. Yet another mention of someone dangerous on the move. Was it possible that they were one in the same? "So you think Ollie Sparks is in the attics?" He paused and looked thoughtfully at the ceiling. "Let's go and look, shall we?"

Emma was horrified. "What, now?"
"I can't think of a better time," said Charlie. "We've got half an hour before the end of the lesson. Everyone else is in class, so who's going to see us? I'm bored stiff hanging around out here."

Before Emma could think of an excuse, Charlie had sprinted off toward a staircase at the end of the corridor. Emma wished she hadn't told Charlie about the attic. He was inclined to rush into things without thinking them through. But she felt she had no choice but to follow.

They crept up one staircase after another. Once they bumped into Dr. Saltweather, who interrupted his humming to ask where they were going. "We've been sent to get books from the library," said Charlie. And Dr. Saltweather waved them on, although they were nowhere near the library. But Dr. Saltweather was oblivious to everything but his precious music.

They ran along dark passages and through empty, creaking rooms and, as they drew near the west wing of the building, Emma became increasingly nervous. She had nightmares about the night when her only escape was to become a bird and fly.
Memory, or instinct, led her to the cell-like room where Manfred Bloor had once imprisoned her. Light from a tiny window showed dark walls patched with green slime, a narrow bed covered in filthy blankets, and black, broken floorboards.

"What an awful place," Charlie murmured.
"Manfred locked me in," said Emma. "But then someone turned the key on the other side, and the door opened. I rushed to see who it was but there was no one there. Manfred caught me and brought me back, but - and this is the strange part - he said to someone 'Any more trouble and you won't get jam for a week.' That's why I thought it might be Mr. Boldova's brother, Ollie. Because he liked jam."
"Perhaps he's been locked in some other gruesome room like this one." As Charlie turned to the door it suddenly slammed shut. Charlie lifted the latch and pulled. Nothing happened. The door appeared to have jammed. "Must have been a draft," muttered Charlie.

"There isn't any draft," said Emma.
"But what else could it have been? No one came in. We'd have seen them."
"Maybe they were invisible."

Illustrations(c) 2004 Chris Sheeba
 
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