Hello, readers, this is davewriter. I have published two short stories on here before, but this is my first attempt a posting a chapter piece on here. I haven't posted here in a long time, because I've mostly been working on FP's sister site, Fanfiction-dot-net. I also do other things on the computer, like play online games, post on blogs and message boards and contribute to a fun site called Yahoo! Answers. Anyway, this is a children's novel I completed a long time ago, so I'll keep posting it as the reviews come in. I hope you enjoy it.

DISCLAIMER: I have no copyright claims to any of the books mentioned in this story (there are references to several children's and young adult books, mostly The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) especially this chapter. All characters and the plot, however, are mine.

REAL ADVENTURES IN A COMIC BOOK

CHAPTER 1

Ten-year-old Gabriel Canfield was walking home from the library looking really sad. Summer vacation had just started, and he was bringing home six books to read. He saw that as a waste of time. A summer reading program was not really his idea of fun.

His two older sisters, Valerie and Sara, were walking in front of him, carrying their own books. Valerie turned around and saw Gabriel lagging a few feet behind. She did not look very happy.

"Pick up the pace, little brother!" she called. "Mom is expecting us home any minute!"

"I don't know why you made me sign up for this stupid summer reading!" Gabriel complained. "Do you really expect me to like any of these books?"

"Actually, this was Mom's idea!" Valerie argued. "She doesn't want us to spend all summer in front of the TV or computer."

Gabriel walked up to her and glared. "Fine!" he said. He showed her one of his books, Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. "Then how do you explain this? Couldn't they have picked out something better?"

"Those books are on your reading list," Sara answered. She showed him a copy of Judy Blume's Are You There, God, It's Me, Margaret. "Just like this is on my reading list."

"You guys, can we finish this at home?" Valerie asked. "Mom's waiting for us." Sara and Gabriel nodded, and the three of them continued home.

That evening, after dinner, Gabriel went into his bedroom to relax. He looked at his summer reading books, all out on his desk. He shook his head. None of them looked very interesting to him. But he remembered how happy his mother looked when she saw them.

"All these are classics, dear," she'd said to him. "These were loved by children everywhere. And the stories are so interesting. I know you'll love them."

Gabriel sighed a little. He couldn't really argue with that. He chose The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and lay down.

He tried to keep with the story as he read. It started out as a "ho-hum" kind of book, with not very much dialogue or action. The story started to get interesting, however, when Lucy stepped through the wardrobe and discovered Narnia. Gabriel read over all the descriptions of the land as they came up.

He whistled and read aloud to himself, "Always winter and never Christmas?" He shook his head. "Wow, I'd hate to live there."

Gabriel read through the chapter where Edmund stepped through the wardrobe, then marked his place and put the book on his night table.

He pulled his bed mattress up and got some of his comic books. He always had to keep them hidden, because his parents didn't approve of him reading them. He took his favourite ones, the Brothers Manheart. They were his favourite group of superheroes.

Gabriel always dreamed of being like them when he grew up. All four brothers were over six feet tall with strong builds, and superb martial arts talents. Each had a nickname that best reflected his special ability. But he couldn't decide which one was his most favourite.

"King Kong Ken" was the oldest brother and leader of the group. At almost seven feet tall, he had really long arms and legs, which allowed him to take out enemies from a short distance. Next came "Powerhouse Pete," who had the biggest build of them all. He was so strong, he could smash his way through anything and anyone, and pick up the heaviest objects. Then, there was Brent "the Brainman." He was the smartest one in the group, able to build and invent new things, and help Ken in any plan of attack. He had super-natural powers, which allowed him to move and control objects and people without touching them. With this power, he could defeat all the tougher enemies nobody could with their martial arts. Finally, there was Steve "the Steeler," the youngest brother. He had steel forearms, hands and fingers, built to use as machine weapons. He had long blades for fingernails, which made him able to hurt enemies with one swipe.

Gabriel always admired their crime-fighting ability, in bringing down the evil crime boss, Vinnie Napoleon, and his henchmen. Whenever he read the Brothers Manheart, he always pretended to take part in the adventure. This time, he thought about nothing as he read. Nothing, that is, except why his parents didn't sign him up for martial arts lessons this summer. Maybe then, he could be just like them.

"You guys sure are lucky," he said to a panel with all four brothers. "Your parents don't make you read dumb books all the time."

Some time later, as Valerie and Sara were coming downstairs, Valerie said, "Let's go check on Gabriel. I'll bet he's reading his comic books again."

She knocked and poked her head in the room. "How's your reading coming, Gabriel?" she asked.

"I've already started," he answered.

She and Sara walked into the room, and saw Gabriel with his comics. Valerie asked, "Then what are you doing with that comic book?"

"Taking a break," he said. He picked up the book he was reading. "I've just read three chapters of this. I think I deserve to rest."

Valerie pulled Gabriel off the bed, then she and Sara dumped all the comic books on the floor and lifted the mattress. They discovered few more Brothers Manheart comics, as well as some Archie, Superman and Spiderman books. Excited, Sara picked up the Archie comics and said, "Cool! You still have these Archie comics I gave you. And you bought new ones, too." She gave the new ones to Valerie.

Valerie was surprised, and showed the new Archie's to Gabriel. "So, this is what you've been spending your allowance on," she said. "Your forbidden love."

"They're your forbidden love, too, Val," Gabriel replied. "You still have those Betty Boop comics from years ago, and Jill Connor, Private Eye, and all that other girly stuff. They're still in your old toy chest. Now, I won't tell Mom and Dad about that if you keep quiet about this."

Valerie folded her arms and glowered at him. "I haven't read any of them in years. I'm selling them when we have our yard sale. And what have I told you about snooping through my room?"

Valerie picked up a Brothers Manheart from the floor. She asked, "What is it with you and these guys? Didn't Mom and Dad say they were too violent for you?" Gabriel didn't answer.

She opened it, looked at the first page and shook her head. "Besides, these things are not real at all," she said. She read from the yellow box in the first panel. "In a popular video arcade in downtown Marigold City, the Manhearts are pulling the plug on a robbery." She closed it and tossed it aside. "What a laugh. I mean, Marigold City isn't even a real place."

Sara picked up a third Brothers Manheart and leafed through it, looking at all the pictures. "These things aren't so bad," she said. "And the Brothers Manheart aren't all that bad either. I can't decide which one's cuter, Pete, Brent or Steve."

Gabriel made a face and said, "Sara, stop saying things like that! That's sick!"

Valerie looked at her and said sharply, "Sara, you're not helping!"

As he picked up his comic books, Gabriel said to Valerie, "Valerie, please give the Brothers Manheart a chance. If you took a look at Marigold City, you'd know that it looks like New York, or Chicago, or another place like that. Besides, the Manhearts live in a really large, awesome house in the suburbs. You'd love to see it. They use it as their headquarters."

"That's not the point!" she protested.

Valerie started to say something else when the three of them heard a strange humming. They looked at Gabriel's full-length mirror, and noticed the looking glass changing colours, first red, then orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet and magenta, like Crayola colours. Gabriel went to the mirror and stared at it, wondering what was happening.

"Maybe it's a doorway used for time travel," he suggested.

He crept closer to the mirror and put his hand right up to it. The hand went through, as if the glass was invisible. He took it out and gasped in surprise.

"What is it?" Sara asked.

"It's definitely an entrance!" he announced. "Maybe a gateway to a different world!"

The girls went up to the mirror and received another surprise. A three-dimensional staircase and bridge appeared before them. Gabriel was amazed. He turned to his sisters. "Now it's a pathway."

"But where does it lead to?" Sara asked.

"I want to find out." He carefully stepped through the mirror and down the stairs onto the bridge. Valerie and Sara stuck their heads through and gave Gabriel a strange look.

"What are you doing, Gabriel?" Valerie asked.

"Don't you want to find out where this goes?" he asked. "Maybe it'll take us into the future."

Wordlessly, Sara stepped through the mirror and joined Gabriel on the bridge. They looked at Valerie, who was still standing in his room. Her eyes were wide, out of both fear and doubt.

"Come out of there right now!" she ordered. "I'm not buying that. It's just a figment of your imaginations."

Sara looked around at the bridge and morphing colours. "It looks pretty real to me!"

"Come on, Valerie!" Gabriel called. "Join us! It won't hurt you to explore a little!"

Valerie closed the bedroom door, turned out the light and put one leg through the mirror.

"Whoa!" she cried in amazement. "Holy cow, this is for real!

"That's it!" Gabriel called. "Now put the other leg through!"

She did, and just as she stepped onto the bridge, the bedroom disappeared. Valerie turned her head and became worried. All she saw now were the colours.

"Great!" she cried. "Now, how are we supposed to get home?"

Gabriel sighed and said, "Don't you see, Valerie? We're about to have an adventure here. This is our destiny. Do you think my mirror would space out like that if it wasn't?"

"He has a point," Sara added.

Valerie rolled her eyes. "I suppose you're right," she said.

Valerie, Gabriel and Sara crossed the bridge until they came to another staircase and a door. They climbed up the stairs, and when Gabriel touched the door, it disappeared like magic, revealing an uphill pathway lit by torches. They ran up the pathway until they saw two doors with a blue pad. Gabriel touched the pad, and the doors opened. They walked through it and found themselves in a strange alley.