Chapter One

"Don't go outside tonight, Bobby," my cousin, Alice, said one day when I was five.

"Why not?" I asked her.

"Because tonight is midsummer night's eve," she said.

"What's that?" I asked her.

"That's the night that fairies come out," she told me. "If they see you, they might steal you away! Mwahahahah!" She grabbed me and started tickling me.

"Stop it!" I screamed. I hate being tickled, and I should have known that she was kidding me. She was always making up stories.

"No, seriously," she said after she stopped tickling me, "this is the one night in the year that they come out and dance under the light of the moon. But not until really late, like, say, ten o'clock."

"Ten?" I said. "That's real late!" I think I'd only ever been up that late one time, and I was real tired the next day. "I'll be asleep then."

Alice giggled. "Chicken!" she said. "I dare you to go outside in your backyard after ten o'clock. If you don't, I'll tell everybody you're scared of fairies!"

I didn't mind people knowing I was scared of ghosts, because I am. But being scared of fairies? That would be embarrassing. I decided right then and there that I had to look for fairies that night.

I should have stayed in bed.

At my bedtime, I kissed Mommy and Daddy good night, then went to bed. But instead of sleeping, I got my flashlight. It's a tiny red plastic toy, but it works pretty good. I clicked it on, and read comic books under my blankets. Well, looked at them, actually. I could read a few words like "a," "and," "it," and like that, and I knew "power cosmic," because I'd asked Daddy what those words were.

After what seemed like a long, long time, I heard Mommy and Daddy going to bed. I clicked off my flashlight and pretended I was asleep. Mommy came in and kissed me good night, but I kept playing like I was asleep.

Soon it was so quiet, I could hear the clock in the living room go tick-tick-tick. I wondered what time it was. I didn't have a clock in my room. Actually, I couldn't tell time yet. But I was pretty sure that if the little hand was on the ten, then it was time to go looking for fairies. I waited a little longer, just to make sure that Mommy and Daddy were asleep. Then I got out of bed. I put my teddy bear and my panther under the covers. If Mommy or Daddy came in, I hoped they'd think it was me.

I tiptoed to the living room. The floor was really cold under my bare feet. But I didn't want to put shoes on. They'd make too much noise. And socks would get all dirty outside.

The clock's little hand was on the ten. The big hand was on the three. So I was pretty sure it was after ten. I went back to my room and looked out the window. It was really, really dark. There was just a little sliver of a moon. Well, at least it wasn't a full moon. Werewolves came out then.

I opened my window. It was cold outside, but not too cold. I stuck my head out the window. Far away, I could hear a siren. When it faded, I heard something else. It sounded likeā€¦a fiddle? Didn't fairies play fiddles? And flutes? I listened harder. Was that a flute now? I gasped. Alice was right! There really were fairies! And they must really be out there, some place in my backyard. Dancing under the light of the moon.

I wanted to see them, but I was afraid. Mommy and Daddy would be very mad if they caught me outside. Even worse, what if Alice was right about the other thing she'd said about fairies? What if they tried to steal me away? I wanted to see fairies, but I didn't want to stay with them!

I thought about it for awhile. If I waited, they might not come back for a whole year! In stories, when kids got too old, they couldn't see or hear fairies anymore. What if I couldn't find them next year? Or if they moved to somebody else's back yard? I looked out my window. I had a problem.

It was too far down to the patio for me to climb out my window. But the back door went squeeaak! If I tried going out that way, Mommy and Daddy would wake up and stop me. If I was going to get into trouble, I at least wanted to see the fairies first!

I looked at my chair. Maybe I could put it out the window and climb down. So I took my chair and tried to lower it out the window. But I couldn't reach the patio. If I dropped it, it would make a big noise, and Mommy and Daddy might wake up. So I leaned way out the window. I finally set the chair down, but I almost fell out the window! That would have hurt!

I climbed up on my windowsill. Then I reached out with my foot until it touched the chair. I climbed down. Whew! I'd made it! I was outside!

The music was louder now. It seemed to be coming from the big bushes near the back of the yard. I tiptoed to the bushes. A cloud moved in front of the moon, so it was really dark now. "The fairies won't be able to see me now," I said to myself. "I hope!"

I reached the bushes, and got down on my knees. I saw a yellow light. I crawled under the bushes towards it. The bushes weren't that big, but I crawled and crawled and crawled. At last, I came out in a big cave. There was no cave in my back yard! Or next door, either! I was in fairyland!

To be continued