CHAPTER 8

Gabriel, Valerie, Sara, and the Manhearts waited outside Napoleon's headquarters for the police. When they all came, the group led them all inside. In the front hall, Ken explained the plan.

"When we get to Napoleon," he said, "my brothers and I will take them down. When we've done it, you cops read them their rights and book them. Got it?"

"Yes," the police chorused.

"What about Sara and me?" Gabriel asked.

"Yeah, we've been practising all this time," Sara added. "We should join in."

The brothers huddled and talked about Gabriel and Sara. After a few moments, Ken said to them, "All right. Since you've been working hard practising, I guess you can join. But be careful, and no heroics. These guys are dangerous." Gabriel and Sara agreed, then they all went to Napoleon's office.

The door was closed. Ken read the sign aloud, "Quiet! Meeting in progress."

"Oh, we'll see about that!" he said, then kicked the door in. The Manhearts, Gabriel and Sara all ran inside, and Ken yelled, "Freeze, turkeys!"

Napoleon's henchmen all showed their guns. Before they could fire, however, Ken and Pete ran up, jumped on the big oval table and kicked several out of their hands.

The others followed. Soon, it turned into a full battle of hitting, kicking, slapping, punching and shooting. Pete threw a small table and hit three henchmen. Steve slashed one man with his nails, and fired his ammo at several others. Gabriel and Sara climbed on the oval table and jumped off, landing on two men, not letting them move until they surrendered.

Napoleon looked at the mess before him. His men were all injured and in pain, and his office was wrecked. He glared at the Brothers Manheart and said, "You fools have caused me grief for years! Well, no more!" He took out his weapon.

But before he could use it, he found his feet lifting off the ground. The weapon left his hand and hit the floor, but didn't go off. He saw Brent staring at him. Brent tilted his head towards a window, and Napoleon crashed through it. Napoleon was flying high above the Marigold City streets. Brent went to the window and kept staring at him.

"I'll get you for this, Brent Manheart!" Napoleon shouted at him. "You'll never have your powers again!"

"Think again, sleazehead!" Brent muttered. He stepped away from the window, and Napoleon was flying back inside, fast like a jumbo jet. He hit a wall and fell to the floor.

Brent and his brothers all ran up to Napoleon. He had a bump on his forehead and bruises on his face. His head was bleeding from when he smashed the window. He was still awake, and Ken picked him up.

"I think someone has something to tell police about how they went missing," Ken said to Napoleon.

The brothers went outside and motioned for the police. They all ran inside and began making arrests.


Back at the Manhearts' house, the gang celebrated their victory over a big dinner.

"I had no idea you guys were so cool," Valerie said as she served herself more potatoes.

"Your brother and sister were pretty cool themselves, Val," Ken said.

Gabriel and Sara beamed. "Thanks, Ken," Sara said.

"Good thing you got the police to arrest Vinnie Napoleon," Gabriel said. "Now Marigold City won't have to worry about him anymore."

"That doesn't mean the crime in this town is over," Ken told him. "The police will be out tomorrow catching more bad guys, and Napoleon might bust out in a month or so, after planning more trouble."

"Have faith, Ken," Brent said. "The police chief said they'll keep an eye on Napoleon until he goes to court. The city will be safe, trust me."

Ken took his hand. "For now, Brent. For now."

The children spent another half-hour with the Manhearts after dinner. Then, Steve said, "Let's go to the movies, everyone. There's a new comedy flick that I want to see." Everyone looked at each other and agreed. But as they left the house, they saw a big blue circle at the end of the driveway.

"Don't tell me…" Gabriel began.

"Gabriel and Sara, I think that's our cue to go home," Valerie said.

She went up to the circle, and saw a road of flat silver stones. She put her hand and foot in. Both went through, just like with Gabriel's mirror. She turned back to her siblings. "Yeah, it's a gateway, all right."

Gabriel and Sara sighed sadly. They turned to Manhearts and hugged them all goodbye. "I'll never forget any of you, ever," Gabriel said. He began to sob loudly, and Steve wiped his tears away when they hugged.

"Don't cry, Gabe," he whispered, and Gabriel stopped crying.

"Well, I had a good time here," Sara said. "Let's do it again sometime."

Valerie looked strangely at her sister. "Sara, we saw a bank robbery, heard about authorities disappearing, got sucked into a strange limbo through a fake gym, worked hard labour, and Gabriel had two brushes with death. How is that a good time?"

"It's better than reading stupid books," Gabriel commented, and Valerie quickly glared at him.

She went back to the brothers and shook their hands. "This is a really nice place," she said. "I'd like to come back here, if I can."

"That'll all depend if my mirror goes crazy again," Gabriel replied. Everyone laughed.

"Thank you for showing us a good time," Sara said.

"Yeah, thanks," Gabriel added. He gave all the brothers a group hug. "I'll miss you all."

After a few moments, Valerie said, "Uh, little brother, we'd better get going before that thing disappears, or else we'll be trapped here forever."

He let go of his heroes and said, "She's right."

Gabriel and his sisters went to the circle and stepped through. They looked back at the Brothers Manheart and waved goodbye. The brothers waved back. Moments later, they disappeared in front the children.

The children started along the silver stone road. It looked like a long walk. After walking for two hours, there was still no end in sight. Gabriel couldn't take much more of it.

"My feet hurt!" he complained.

"Well, keep going," Valerie said. "We're bound to reach the end."

After walking for another half-hour, they reached a really hilly part of the path. They climbed upwards, and when they reached the top, they saw something straight ahead. It was an uphill ramp and a golden door.

"How far is it?" Gabriel asked.

"About a hundred fifty more meters," Valerie guessed. "C'mon, Gabe, you can last that long."

The children walked down the hill to the door. Valerie opened it, and they found the same bridge, stairs and morphing colours they saw through Gabriel's mirror. In the distance was a small rectangular shape.

Sara gasped and asked, "That rectangle, is that what I think it is?"

"Let's just get to it before it disappears," Valerie said.

Valerie took Gabriel's hand, and the three rushed across the bridge. As they ran further, the shape got larger and larger. They ran up the stairs and stepped through it one at a time. It was dark, so Valerie turned on the lights. They were back in Gabriel's bedroom. They looked at his mirror, and it turned back to normal.

Sara jumped gleefully. "I can't believe it!" she cried. "We're home!"

Gabriel looked around his room. Everything was just as he left it. The comic books and stuffed animals were on his bed. The book he was reading was still on his night table. The other books were still on his desk. Nothing had been moved or taken out.

"My poor feet," he moaned. "I have to rest."

"You can rest upstairs," Sara said. "We have to see Mom and Dad." The girls ran out of the room and upstairs, with Gabriel lumbering behind.

"Mom!" Valerie called. "Mom, it's us!"

Mrs. Canfield steeped out of the living room to see her children. She gasped in delight and ran to hold them.

"Where in the world were you guys?!" she cried. "We haven't seen you for several days! We called the police! We filed 'missing children' reports! We were praying for your return every night! Your father and I had the whole town looking for you! We thought you ran away!"

"Mom, it was amazing!" Gabriel said. "We went to Marigold City, and we saw the Brothers Manheart."

Mrs. Canfield frowned at him. "You've been reading your comic books again, haven't you? I saw that stack on your bed when I was looking for you."

"I'm afraid it's true, Mom," Valerie said. "Gabriel's mirror acted up, and we were able to step right through it. We went down a pathway, and it led us to Gabriel's heroes."

"And Sara and I were practising ninja moves, and fighting with the real Brothers Manheart," Gabriel added. "Oh, Mom, you have to sign us both up for karate lessons!"

Mrs. Canfield shook her head at Gabriel. "Absolutely not, young man," she said. "And I won't hear any more about your little 'adventure.'" She paused. "Gabriel, I want you to put away your comics, and do your summer reading. Those things are beginning to take over your mind! And don't go telling anyone of your little comic book adventure, or your father and I will have to take you to a shrink, understand?"

Gabriel lowered his head a bit. "Yes, Mom," he said, and went back to his room.

He put the comic books on the floor and lifted his mattress. He put all of them back except the Brothers Manheart. He closed his door and started going through them all, seeing if he could find anything that was like the adventure he had.

He flipped through the pages of each one, and couldn't find anything. No bank robbery like the one he and his sisters saw, no reports of authority figures vanishing, no mock gym, no limbo, no robots and no Mace Napoleon. He couldn't find himself, Valerie or Sara in any of the pictures. He realised that what he saw in Marigold City was just a fantasy.

He went to the books on his desk. He picked up A Wrinkle in Time and Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, and read the back covers. Both were about the same adventure he and his sisters just had. Suddenly, Gabriel was interested in reading them. He'd start on them when he finished The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He decided that Valerie and their mother were right. He needed a break from the Brothers Manheart. Maybe he would enjoy his summer reading books more than those comics.

He went back to the comic books and said, "After an adventure like that, I think I'd better cool it with you guys for a while. I don't really want to lose touch with what's real." He put them away, sat on his bed, and picked up The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He opened it to where he left off and started reading again.

THE END