Lemon Laws: Episode 1-One Bad Apple (Part 1)

Part 2

“Over here, Sheriff! We got another one,” said Deputy Barry.

Sheriff Lemon’s handlebar mustache twitched as he looked down at the sidewalk. Applesauce. Applesauce everywhere. Sheriff Lemon’s bushy gray eyebrows lowered into a look of disgust. It didn’t matter how many times he saw it, this kind of thing always turned his pulp.

“Doesn’t matter how many times I see it, this kind of thing always turns my pulp,” said Lemon. “Any evidence?”

Deputy Barry shook his head.

“Same as last time, Sheriff. And the time before that. And the time before that. This guy does a thorough job of covering up his tracks,” said Barry.

Sheriff Lemon sighed heavily.

“Alright. Go over it one more time, Barry. I’ve gotta go make a call,” said Lemon.


Lemon sat down behind his desk and reached for the phone. He paused, leaned back in his chair, and rubbed his lemonhead. A zesty scent filled the room. Lemon sighed, sat forward, and slapped his desk before picking up the phone.

After a few rings, someone picked up on the other end.

“Mango,” said the voice.

“Mango, it’s Lemon. How’re things goin’?”

“Can’t complain,” said Mango.

“How’s the family?” asked Lemon.

“Expanding at an exponential rate. How’s the Missus?” asked Mango.

“Just as sour as ever! Hahahaha!” answered Lemon.

“Hahaha! So, what’s the real reason you called?” asked Mango.

“What, I can’t just call an old friend to catch up?” asked Lemon.

“I don’t think so, Lemon. Last time we talked, you took my badge and threw me out of your office,” said Mango.

Lemon’s mustache twisted.

“Alright, Mango. I got four juicings this month. I can’t get a profile to stick, and there’s gonna be more if I don’t catch this guy soon,” said Lemon, flustered.

“So what do you need me for?” asked Mango.

“I need your help finding this guy, Mango,” said Lemon.

“I don’t know, Lemon. I’m not really qualified to wear a badge. You said so yourself,” taunted Mango.

“Dangit, Mango! I need a fly in the sky and nobody can sniff out a bad piece of fruit like you! I know we’ve had our differences in the past, but this is bigger than me or you. This whole town’s gonna be a fruit salad if we don’t take this guy down!” said Lemon, flying off the handle. “Sorry, Mango, I didn’t mean to fly off the handle like that.”

“Alright, Lemon. Open the door, it’s locked,” said Mango, hanging up.

Sheriff Lemon pulled the receiver away from his head and stared at it as the dial tone beeped loudly. There was a knock. Lemon looked at the door, hung up the phone, and stood. On the other side of the door was a short fruit fly wearing a trench coat.

“Let’s get going, Lemon. The longer we wait, the rottener this is going to get,” said Mango.


Sheriff Lemon and Mango arrived at the scene of the latest crime. Lemon’s pulp twisted.

“Well, there’s what’s left of ’em,” said Lemon.

Mango approached the sauce, four hands in his pockets. Barry stood up.

“Long time, no see, avocado,” said Mango. Barry stood, looked at Mango, then at Lemon.

“What’s he doing here? You’re bringing HIM in on this, Sheriff?” questioned Barry, irate.

“Nice to see you again too,” said Mango as Barry pushed past.

The fruit fly looked down at the applesauce, sniffed, and turned his head. Lemon hung his hands on either side of his belt and sauntered over.

“Four apples in a little over three weeks. What’s this guy up to, Mango?” asked Sheriff Lemon.

“Tell me, Lemon, what goes good with applesauce?” asked Mango. Lemon looked perplexed. “Are there any cinnamon sticks in town?”

Lemon scratched his lemon.

“Uh… yeah. Yeah, that travelin’ show. The Flyin’ Saigons. They’re stayin’ down at the Trail Mix RV park,” said Lemon.

Mango nodded.

“Let’s go.”


Sheriff Lemon knocked on the door of The Flyin’ Saigon’s travel trailer. Lemon had a bad feeling about this.

“I’ve got a bad feeling about this,” said Lemon.

The door swung open and a fat stick of cinnamon nearly fell out on Lemon.

“Whadya want?!” shouted the cinnamon stick.

“Er, well, my name’s Lemon. I’m the Sheriff in these parts, and I just wanted to ask if you had noticed anything strange goin’ on around-”

“Yeah, as a matter of fact! There was this big-headed Lemon who knocked on my door and started askin’ me questions when I’m tryin’ ta sleep!” yelled the cinnamon stick before slamming the door.

“Friend of yours, Lemon?” said Mango sarcastically. Lemon’s mustache twitched.

As they turned to leave, Mango spotted Barry slipping behind another trailer. The fruit fly followed, but he was already gone. Lemon caught up to him.

“What is it, Mango,” asked Lemon.

Mango sniffed, then turned his head to the side.

“I smell guacamole.”

“Excuse me.” Lemon and Mango turned to see a young female cinnamon stick waving to them from the door of a trailer. They walked over. “Are you the police?” asked the girl.

“Yes, Ma’am. I’m Sheriff Lemon and this is Detective Mango,” said Lemon.

“Please, come in. I need to speak with you,” said the girl.

Inside, black-and-white photographs of cinnamon sticks performing stunts lined the walls. Lemon looked from one to the next slowly, feeling the romantic history of the Saigon family.

“Have a seat, please. My name is Esmerelda,” said the girl. Lemon nodded.

“What can we help you with, Ma’am?” asked Lemon.

“Well… I think someone is stalking me!” said Esmerelda, distraught.

Lemon leaned back in his chair. His mustache bobbed uncomfortably.

“Can you give us a description, Ma’am?” asked Lemon.

“I have never seen his face. All I know is that he is an… avocado!” said Esmerelda dramatically.

Lemon turned up one side of his mustache, rubbed his chin, and hmmmed.

“Hmmm,” said Lemon.

“Barry,” accused Mango.

“What?!” spouted Lemon, surprised.

“I saw Barry sneaking around when we were talking to that disgruntled bark strip,” said Mango.

“Oh, I have to apologize for my father,” said Esmerelda. “He can be cranky when he hasn’t had his nap.”

“It’s fine, Ma’am,” said Lemon. Sheriff Lemon grunted as he stood, pulled out a card, and handed it to Esmerelda. “Give us a call if the guy shows up again, Ma’am. And lock your door.”

Sheriff Lemon and Mango stepped outside, shutting the door behind them. Lemon put his hands on his hips, sighed, and turned his mustache up in a grimace. He looked one way, then the other, kicked the dirt, then spoke.

“Whadya make of this, Mango?” asked Lemon.

“You know as well as I do, Lemon. A good avocado can turn bad real quick,” said Mango.

Lemon kicked the ground hard and walked away.

“Let’s go find Barry.”


Lemon Laws: Episode 1-One Bad Apple (Part 2)

Part 1

Lemon didn’t speak on the way back to the station. The fact that Barry was a suspect in a serial juicing case had him feeling like he’d been sliced and served with a glass of iced tea.”This whole thing’s got me feelin’ like I’ve been sliced and served with a glass of iced tea,” said Sheriff Lemon.
Mango didn’t respond. His eyes seemed distant. Granted, he had those weird fly eyes, so you couldn’t really tell where he was looking anyway. They pulled up to the station, the brakes of the old cruiser squeaking as he put it into park.

“Sounds like this thing needs a good lube job,” said Mango. “I hear Olive & Sons has a deal on oil changes this week.”

“Oh, yeah?” said Lemon. “I usually take ’er to Canola’s across town.”

Inside, Lemon removed his hat and nodded to the receptionist, a plump purple ear of corn.

“How ya doin’, Ms. Maizy?” asked Lemon.

“Oh you know me, sugah. But you look like yo corn dog just died. How can Ms. Maizy help you?” asked Ms. Maizy.

“You seen Barry lately?” sighed Lemon.

“Jus’ walked inta his office,” answered Ms. Maizy.

Lemon nodded, twisted his mustache, and put his hat back on. He walked across the station floor, followed by Mango. Lemon knocked on Barry’s open door. The avocado looked up.

“Hey Barry, mind if I have a word with you in my office?” asked Lemon.

“Sure thing, Sheriff,” replied Barry, following after them.

They all sat down uncomfortably in Lemon’s office. Lemon’s mustache wobbled up and down as he cleared his throat.

“Barry, where were you from the time you left the crime scene until now?” questioned Lemon.

“Uh, well. After I left, I went down to Robusto’s to get a cup of joe and a donut,” said Barry.

“Was Arabica there?” interjected Mango.

“Yeah, of course. She asked me about some new surveillance equipment,” said Barry. “After that, I got a bite to eat at CHIPS. Then I came back here,” said Barry.

“So you were never at the Trail Mix RV park today?” asked Lemon, narrowing his eyebrows.

“Oh, uh, er… Of course not!” stammered Barry.

“He’s lying,” said Mango.

Barry looked back and forth nervously.

“We were down there followin’ up on a lead. Mango saw you sneakin’ around,” said Lemon. “Now are you gonna tell me what’s goin’ on or am I gonna have ta get sour?” threatened Lemon.

“Ok, ok! Yes, I was there today. I love The Flying Saigons! I’m Esmerelda’s biggest fan! I just wanted to get her autograph!” confessed Barry.

Lemon fell back in his chair so hard that he squirted lemon juice in Mango’s eye.

“Is that all, son?! Here we were thinkin’ you were gettin’ ready to sprinkle her on some applesauce!” said Lemon laughing.

The room filled with lemon freshness as the phone rang. Lemon answered it, still laughing.

“Sheriff’s department, Lemon speak-”

“Sheriff! Please hurry! The avocado, he’s back! Ahhhhhh!” screamed Esmerelda as the phone went dead.

Lemon stared across his desk at Barry, stunned.

“We gotta go! The juicer’s down at Trail Mix, and it sounds like he’s got Esmerelda!” said Lemon.

“No!” shouted Barry, jumping up.

He flew out the door followed by Sheriff Lemon. Mango slammed his head into the window six or seven times before realizing he couldn’t get out that way, then ran after them.

Sheriff Lemon, Detective Mango, and Deputy Barry jumped into Lemon’s cruiser and took off with the siren blaring. Lemon was on the radio calling back-up while swerving in and out of traffic. He cut across two lawns, crashed through a chain-link fence, jumped a swimming pool, and almost made apple pie out of Granny Smith. He slammed on the brakes and skidded into Trail Mix with a cloud of dust.

“Barry, you go around back! Mango and I’ll go in the front! Let’s move it!” shouted Lemon.

They surrounded the trailer, bananas drawn. Lemon kicked open the front door and leapt in, his mustache and eyebrows scrunched into a scary face.

“Freeze, fruit pop!” yelled Lemon.

A moldy avocado with snaggleteeth and bloodshot eyes turned to look at the Sheriff. He had Esmerelda tucked under his arm and a mini-grater in one hand. The avocado hesitated, then threw Esmerelda down and sprinted for the backdoor.

“I said ‘freeze’!” shouted Lemon, firing his banana. It splattered on the doorframe missing the avocado by inches. Lemon ran to the door. Barry was lying on his back on the ground outside. He held up a palm.

“I’m okay, get him before he gets away!” said Barry, trying to catch his breath.

Lemon ran around the edge of the trailer just in time to see Mango fire his banana at the fleeing avocado. The banana splattered under his feet, and he smashed into the ground, splitting his rind. Before he could get back up, Lemon dove on top, wrenching his hands behind his back.

“You have the right to remain silent! Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law!” shouted Lemon as he slapped a pretzel on the criminal’s wrists. He stood the avocado up and shoved him into the back of the police cruiser. “You’re gonna spend the rest of your days in the Composter, buddy!” slamming the door.

“Not bad for a day’s work,” said Mango.

“That was a heck of a shot, Mango. I don’t think I coulda made it myself!” said Lemon, slapping him on the back.

Barry walked up, taking a deep breath.

“You alright, Deputy?” asked Lemon.

“Just a little bruised,” said Barry, nodding.

Two squad cars sped around the corner, sirens wailing. Lemon dropped his head, shook it once, and took a sideways glance at the cars as they skidded to a halt.

“You’re a little late, Officer Molasses,” said Lemon.

“Sorry,” was the crackled response from the car’s PA.

Lemon put his hands on his hips, looked at Barry and Mango, and laughed.


Lemon, Mango, and Barry sat in Lemon’s office. Barry shuffled through some paperwork.

“The juicer’s name is Hass D’Cado. Age 35. He’s wanted in six states for everything from petty theft to cantaloupe rustling,” summarized Barry.

“If it were up to me, he’d go straight in the disposal, and I’d throw the switch myself,” shot Mango.

“That’s enough, Mango,” said Lemon, leaning forward. Then to Barry, “Why don’t you go see how Esmerelda is doing, and take her statement. Make sure she signs it twice.” He winked.

“Yes, sir!” said Barry excitedly, jumping up.

“Shut the door behind you,” said Lemon as Deputy Barry ran out.

Sheriff Lemon looked across his desk at Mango and laughed through his nose. He leaned to one side, pulled something out of a desk drawer, and tossed it to Mango. Detective Mango deftly caught the badge.

“Welcome back,” said Lemon. “I hope I don’t regret this.”

Mango stood and put the badge in his coat pocket. He paused at the door.

“You probably won’t,” said Mango before leaving.

Sheriff Lemon’s mustache drooped.

“What have I done.”

For My Daughter, or Saudade

In Panama last year,

We made a friend

Who made a dress.

A beautiful purple dress

For a little girl.

We bought the dress,

Not because we have a daughter,

Nor are we expecting to,

But because it was beautiful,

And we wanted to help out.

I still look at the dress

And think it’s beautiful,

But there are times

When I lift it up and

Feel it’s delicate weight

In my hands and

Suddenly, a wave washes over me.

Sadness, Happiness, Longing.


I miss my daughter,

But she doesn’t exist.

I look for her,

But she doesn’t exist.

I love her,

But she doesn’t exist

And maybe never will.

I have to quickly drop the dress

And look away.

I breathe and shake my hands

Until the feeling passes.

How powerful is love,

That it reaches through time?

How deep is sadness,

That it cannot?

© Tyler M Deal. All Rights Reserved.

Young Readers Focus Group



Hello everyone! If you follow my blog then you’ve probably noticed that I publish a lot of content for children of all ages. I plan to put many of these works, along with some others, into either compilations or chapter books. Here’s where you folks can help me out!

I’m looking for young readers to critique my work. So, if you have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, students, please share some of my works with them and let me know what they think! Below, I’ll provide a list of links to several pieces that can be found here on the blog. Leave me a comment and let me know what they thought! Thank you and enjoy!

The Legend of General Tso


Seaside Gentry

Archipelago: Longan’s Treasure-Prologue

Barney the Sheep

Crazy Uncles and Pomegranates

Strange Bed Fellows

Nitro! Frog: Profrogue

Nitro! Frog-Chapter 1: I Got Skills

Nitro! Frog-Chapter 2: Meanies Attack!

Nitro! Frog-Chapter 3: Equips!

Nitro! Frog-Chapter 4: Find the Golden Frog!

A Hamster Story: Prologue

A Hamster Story-Chapter 1: It All Began…

A Hamster Story-Chapter 2: Scooter’s Day Out 

The Avid Author’s Guide to a Better Write: Character Sheet


Hello everyone! Do you ever feel like maybe your characters are falling a little flat? They just don’t seem to have that depth that you love when reading a story? Well, here’s a little guide that might help you out!

The secret to creating a great character is simple. In fact, there’s only one step. Get to know your character! Because, after all, if you don’t know who your character is, how are you going to convey them to anyone else?

So grab a beer with your bro or invite that lady out on a nice date… Oooor try this nifty outline for a character sheet. Just put yourself in your character’s shoes and fill in the blanks like you’re at the DMV. You’re going to learn things about your character that you never knew or wanted to know. Here we go!










Hair Color:

Eye Color:

Skin Tone:

Character Description:






Current Residence:

Previous Residence:

External Conflict:

External Motivation:

Internal Conflict:

Internal Motivation:


5 Words-The Legend of General Tso

Once upon a time in China, there was a mighty emperor who oppressed the people with an icy wind. His name was Leng. It was said that he had mastered the 7 Winds of the Northern Plains and kept them sealed within a glass vial. When the people revolted, Emperor Leng would step out onto the battlements of his castle in Liang and open the vial just briefly. A blast of freezing wind would rush over the land bringing a harsh winter and laying down the revolt.

It was during this time that a clever youth in Hu Nan devised a plan to bring an end to the Emperor’s harsh tyranny. His name was Tso.

Hu Nan was famous for its chilis. Peppers so hot it was said that one who ate too many would grow a heart of fire.

Young Tso told his plan to all in Hu Nan. That year, every rice paddy across Hu Nan grew chilis. Dark green leaves and bright red peppers filled the countryside. They cascaded over hills and poured into the forests.

When the harvest came, a mountain of chilis stood in Hu Nan, and Young Tso stood before it.

The scholars of Hu Nan consulted the Almanac of One Thousand Seasons, choosing a day that would likely be the hottest of the year.

Young Tso set out on his journey to distant Liang carrying nothing more than a satchel of chilis as a gift for Emperor Leng.

After many weeks of walking across the land, Young Tso arrived at the gates of Emperor Leng’s castle.

“I come from distant Hu Nan, bringing a gift for the Honored August Emperor Leng,” Young Tso told the guards.

Young Tso soon stood before the evil Emperor Leng, the Vial of 7 Winds nearby.

“What do you bring me from Humble Hu Nan?” asked Emperor Leng.

Young Tso kowtowed low bumping his head on the marble floor. He spoke without rising.

“Honored August Emperor Leng, I have brought a gift of chilis from the grateful people of Hu Nan. But first, I would like to read a Haiku to express my feelings for the Emperor,” said Young Tso.

The Emperor was pleased.

“Rise and speak, Young Tso,” said Emperor Leng.

Young Tso stood, bowed, and placed his hands inside the sleeves of his robe.


“Great Emperor Leng,

Fire will end your icy reign.

Farewell evil Leng.”


“What is the meaning of this?!” shouted Emperor Leng, rising from his throne. Emperor Leng grabbed the Vial of 7 Winds and opened it toward Young Tso. Instantly, a hurricane wind blew down on Young Tso, filling the room with a dense fog. Emperor Leng closed the vial, smiling to himself. But soon his wicked smile turned to shock as Young Tso stepped forward, an orange flame burning from his chest.

“You will no longer oppress the people of China with your frozen heart, Emperor Leng,” said Young Tso.

“No, I am the Master of the 7 Winds of the Northern Plain! You are nothing more than a Peasant of Peppers!” shouted Emperor Leng, dashing the vial to the floor.

All the power of the 7 Winds rushed upon Young Tso, but his heart burned with the hope of Hu Nan. The Winds turned back on Emperor Leng.

“Noooooo!” screamed Emperor Leng as the 7 Winds crashed down upon him and flew skyward, returning to the Northern Plains.

A statue of ice stood where Emperor Leng had been, only briefly, before melting away.

Young Tso returned to Hu Nan, all of China rejoicing as he went. They tried to make him an emperor, but Young Tso refused, choosing to become a general instead.

Such is the legend of General Tso.

For 5 Words-5/18/2016 #5words

© Tyler M Deal. All Rights Reserved.


5 Words Prompt 6/24/2018

Today’s words are:

  • Pyramid
  • Chunky
  • Azure
  • Switch
  • Bewildered

The goal is to exercise your brain and split writer’s block. Write a story, a poem, a paragraph, a sentence, anything! The only rule is that it includes the words given or is inspired by the words given. Link it or leave it in the comments! #5words

5 Words Prompt 6/23/2018

Today’s words are:

  • Brick
  • Rustle
  • Cavalry
  • Manipulate
  • Sticky

The goal is to exercise your brain and split writer’s block. Write a story, a poem, a paragraph, a sentence, anything! The only rule is that it includes the words given or is inspired by the words given. Link it or leave it in the comments! #5words

You Are:

The crashing wave

And the gentle ebb.

The singer and the


Miles of green fields

Flashing in the breeze.

The moon in the day.

The snow as it falls,

When it shimmers in the dawn.

The willow as it sways.

The riverbank and

The rapids.

The squirrels as they play.

A flower between the stones.

A glow in the darkness.

The forest air

And the scent of earth.

The tempest

And the fair wind.




My love.

5 Words Prompt 6/22/2018

Today’s words are:

  • Red
  • Connect
  • Card
  • Stone
  • Excited

The goal is to exercise your brain and split writer’s block. Write a story, a poem, a paragraph, a sentence, anything! The only rule is that it includes the words given or is inspired by the words given. Link it or leave it in the comments! #5words

“What Would They Do?” Prompt 6/22/2018

Scenario: You bump into a little old lady and apologize. As she’s walking away, you realize that all of your money is gone.

Suggested Character

Gender: Male

Age: 7

Mood: Sleepy

Take the above scenario and write a sentence, paragraph, poem, or short story about how you, your original character, or the suggested character would act or react. Post a link with your story in the comments!

The White of Space

“What was that…?” Professor Hopkins whispered to himself as he stared out the portside window.

“What was what?” asked Captain Callahan.

“Oh er… ah, nothing. Nothing, I’m sure. I think staring off into this infinite darkness is starting to play tricks on my eyes,” replied Hopkins.

“Well, it’ll do that. I assure you. Best to keep your mind occupied with other things while you’re up here. Nothing out there to see anyway, right Professor?” said Callahan.

“Oh, uh. Yes. Nothing…” said Hopkins, tearing his eyes away from the inky blackness of space. He wrinkled his brow slightly, then laughed. “Ha… haha, you know, I’d almost swear I saw a shark. Imagine such a thing!” shaking his head.

“A shark! My, Professor, your imagination really does run wild doesn’t it,” laughed Callahan. Hopkins nodded, slowly turning his eyes back to the porthole.

“Haha, yes, I suppose it does…” Hopkins trailed off as he saw something glint out of the corner of his eye. He shook his head again, looking back at the starship captain. “Uhh, er, say Captain.”


“What do you think happened to the crew of Gemini-I? I mean, in your opinion as a spaceman, what do you think could have happened?” asked Hopkins.

“Well, Professor, outer space is an unforgiving place. An unforgiving, inhospitable, vast, vacuum of nothingness. Any number of things could have gone wrong with Gemini-I. Explosive decompression, solar radiation, equipment malfunction, even pilot’s error can’t be ruled out. The truth is, Professor, there is no place more daunting, more dangerous, more deadly than outer space,” replied Callahan. Hopkins nodded, paused, nodded again.

“Yes…” He looked out the window, rocked back to get a better view, then leaned forward quickly. “Captain.”


“Why do you suppose they would have me accompany you on this mission? Why do you think they would choose me, a marine biologist, to fly to outer space to investigate the disappearance of a starship? Why a marine biologist, Captain?” asked Hopkins.

“Well… Honestly, Professor, I’m as puzzled as you are. I… I just don’t know,” replied Callahan. Hopkins stared out the window again, nervous. He gripped his slacks, released, clinched his fingers again. He stomped his feet and looked at the Captain with excited fear.

“Suppose, Captain, just suppose. Say there were something out here. And suppose this thing were alive. Suppose that a living creature could survive here in the vacuum of space. Not just survive, but that this was its natural habitat. Suppose something lived out here, Captain. Suppose it was capable of attacking a starship. What if, Captain, what if they chose me because they knew something lived out here. Something like… a shark,” said Hopkins, his lips quivering.

“Now, Professor…” started Callahan.

“Sir! Something showing on the radar,” Navigator Carlson cut in.

“What is it, Carlson?” asked Callahan, leaning over his shoulder.

“It… it looks like an asteroid field of some sort… but there’s nothing like this on the charts…” said Carlson.

Professor Hopkins stood and staggered toward the men. He stared straight ahead, eyes fixed on the wide forward window.

“No… Not asteroids… not asteroids…” said Hopkins, the words tumbling from his pale lips.

The two men turned their eyes slowly toward the window. In the distance, thousands of tiny shapes began to come into view. Shiny, gray specks on the horizon. Not asteroids. Something new and ancient. An unspeakable horror, seen only once by human eyes, converging on Gemini-II from all directions. An uncharted nightmare swimming through the infinite dark depths of space.

© Tyler M Deal. All Rights Reserved.

Knights of Gallaston Act 1: The Passage

Percival struggled to stand straight, look stoic, and focus, but inside was an electric chaos of excitement. This was it, his first assignment as a real Gallaston Castle guard. Working in the castle was every frog’s dream. Becoming a Gallaston Knight was a fairy tale, and yet, Percival was on his way to doing just that.

It wasn’t long before his daydreams of fighting machines and defending the King took over, and he began swinging his spear at invisible foes.

Hah! Yah! Begone evil Steamworks!” Percival shouted under his breath.

Misjudging the length of his spear, he jabbed backward and slammed the butt of the spear soundly against the stone wall. The spear reverberated in his hands as a loud echo poured down the hallway. Percival quickly stood stock-straight against the wall, hoping no one had seen him.

After a few moments, no one appeared, and Percival let go of his breath. Then there was a loud crash behind him. Percival sprang forward and spun almost losing his balance.

A section of the wall had collapsed where he had struck it. Percival approached. A cool gust of dusty air blew across his face.

“Is this… a hidden passage?”