The Ravens of Solemano or The Order of the Mysterious Men in Black

Baltimore Post-Examiner is proud to present an excerpt from The Ravens of Solemano by Eden Unger Bowditch, who created the Young Inventors Guild series. The series tells the story of five truly brilliant young inventors, the children of the world’s most important scientists, whose lives are changed one day, when the mysterious men in black arrive. They whisk the children far away from their homes to Dayton, Ohio, and their parents disappear. At mysterious Sole Manner Farm, the children are put to work on an invention that will change the world forever.

It’s an amazing series about the wonders of science, mixing a bit of fantasy, a bit of steampunk, and the still greater wonders of friendship in a truly inventive, poignant, and fun adventure for young and old adults. You can purchase the book here.


The following article appeared in The New York Times, fall 1903 (actual date withheld).

Ravens of Solemano Cover Received from Steve Parke 031813 at 1317FOUND DEAD IN TUNNEL

Body of Italian, Full of Stiletto Wounds, Near Jerome Park Reservoir

The body of a murdered Italian was found yesterday by John Martins, a foreman of the Jerome Park Reservoir, in the new tunnel which, when opened, will connect the reservoir with the High Bridge Aqueduct, within about 100 feet of the opening.

The body of a young man in his early 20s was in an advanced state of decomposition, although a scar was evident across the eyelid of the victim’s left eye.

Martins notified Policeman Bailey of the King’s Bridge Station and telephoned Coroner O’Gorman. When they examined the body, it was found that there were nine stiletto wounds in it—six in the back, two in the breast, and one in the stomach . . .

Near where the body had been there was found a long and murderous stiletto, with strange signs carved on the handle . .


The New York City police came to the conclusion that the young man was Italian. This was because Italian coins were found in his jacket pocket, and because his rather worn clothes had tailoring marks in Italian. The trousers, it was noted, were made in Italia.

But in truth, these were not revelations of vast importance. These were not such terribly mysterious or, in the end, even important clues. The fact that he was Italian would matter little to the police of New York City. He could have been Greek or Armenian, or even from the United States. The police would never know what had happened in that tunnel or why. In the end, they would close the case. They would call it “murder by person or persons unknown,” and only a handful of people far, far away would be faced with the darkest of facts.

The article did, however, fail to mention three terribly mysterious and infinitely more important clues. First, in the right hand of the victim was a corner of a map. It was a very tiny piece of a map that, when completely unfolded, would show, to someone who knew the region very well, a sliver of the Appennini, or Apennine, mountain range. Second, in the left hand, the victim held a fistful of black feathers. Third—and the utter and total absence of this clue from the written newspaper article was in no way the fault of the journalist, his editors, the coroner, or the police investigators at the scene, because this terribly mysterious and most important clue was gone by the time any of them even knew there was a body in that tunnel—hidden by a rock, much farther down the tunnel, in the shadows, there was an envelope, crumpled beyond recognition, with a broken wax seal and a torn note inside that, when it was intact, and the ink had not run from the wetness, and the note was legible, read simply, “They will be on the train.”

Somewhere in America, Mid-Autumn, 1903


Before the Big Bang Or THE EMPTY SPACE

Before the enormous explosion, there was calm. For the passengers on the train, this was a lovely calm.

This was not the kind of train one takes from town to country and back. It was not the kind of train one rides to work or to the fair.

It was not the kind of train one takes across the continents or for holiday abroad. This train, unlike others, was, well, very much unlike others.

This train had a grand salon with a fine fireplace that warmed the whole car. On this train there was a spectacular laboratory filled with tools of invention. There was a grand observatory with a high glass-domed ceiling and telescopes with gears that allowed levers a great range of movement. There were beautiful sleeping compartments for each of the traveling families. And for several days, since the travelers first climbed on board, the train had made no stops. In fact, besides the few who were traveling together, there were no other passengers aboard at all.

But there was a dining car. Without a doubt, that car was a delicious experience of taste and smell. Before the explosion, five children and most of their parents sat around the long dining table.

“Well, this looks familiar,” said thirteen-year-old Faye Vigyanveta with a groan, looking out the window. The rain had stopped and the land was wet—brown and wet for miles and miles. A smallish man, dressed in black with a frilly apron and a chef’s hat, stood beside her. He picked up a cinnamon stick with a pair of pincers and placed it beside her cup. Faye did not thank him or look up to acknowledge this presentation. She simply picked up the cinnamon stick and began to stir her tea. She looked at the boy across the table and rolled her eyes.

Ten-year-old Wallace Banneker adjusted his glasses but said nothing. He looked down at the eggs on his plate. He knew what his father was going to say about a boy and his appetite, but Wallace was already full from the toast and jam.

This was not the case for the boy next to him. “I’ll have another crumpet,” said twelve-year-old Noah Canto-Sagas before swallowing the three he had in his mouth. “And the apricot jam, too . . .please?” He reached across Wallace’s plate, barely skimming the jiggling eggs as he tried to grab the jam pot, which was just beyond his fingers. Wallace moved the pot closer so Noah could take it.

“Honestly, Noah.” Faye shook her head as Noah poured the jam onto his crumpets. Noah smiled a food-filled smile at Faye. Faye again shook her head, long, dark chestnut hair falling freely down her back and over her shoulders.

“Can you pass the other pot of jam, lady Faye?” Noah asked. Faye showed a look of disgust, but did, indeed, pass the jam.

Before they’d all gathered for breakfast, Faye had been working on her wing design, and Noah had been working with twelve-year old Jasper modest on a mechanical chess set. Jasper had been caught between fits of laughter with Noah and quick glances at Faye.

As he worked, Jasper tried not to stare, but Faye always looked so beautiful when she was concentrating. Her green eyes seemed to get even greener. He liked to watch her when her passion was pleasure.

When she was, instead, angry, those green eyes could burn a hole right through you. Ever since the children had recovered their Missing parents, Jasper had noticed that Faye had her mother’s eyes—or rather, she shared the color. But Faye’s eyes were like no others. No one had eyes so intense, so beautiful. While her mother was American, blond and tall, Faye’s father was from India and gave Faye her beautiful bronze skin. Jasper noticed that, too.

As they sat around the table now, Jasper stole a glance over at Faye. She looked back, and her wrinkled nose at Noah turned into a disarming smile at Jasper. Blushing from his belly to his ears, Jasper quickly stabbed himself in the cheek with his fork, then knocked over his glass and dropped his napkin into his cocoa.

“It’s because of the little bunny hole he makes in the softness of the sand. See?” came the voice of Lucy modest. Lucy had followed Faye’s gaze as she looked out the window. “Yesterday it wasn’t as big, but we certainly did pass by his house.”

“Quelle mémoire!” said her mother, Dr. Isobel Modest. “my girl does remember everything.” And this was true. Lucy could remember everything. It’s just that sometimes, things could be lost in the translation from Lucy’s brain to a language anyone else in the world could understand.

“What house, Lucy?” asked Wallace, who saw no house.

“Is it an imaginary house?” asked Noah. “Or is it just invisible? Maybe you need to go back to sleep.”

Earlier, Lucy had been like a sleeping kitten in her mother’s lap. But Lucy had not been asleep. Not really. She had decided to pretend to sleep. This way, she could feel what it was like simply to sleep within her mother’s grasp. Getting her mother all to herself was a rare and special thing for Lucy, and because this was so rare and special, she didn’t want to Miss it by sleeping. So there she had lain, experiencing the joy of her mother’s slender legs against her almost seven-year-old cheek—at least until the train had lurched as it came to a curve around some rising hills on the plains.

“I hope nothing’s tumbled over,” Faye’s mother Gwendolyn had noted as she straightened her skirt and adjusted strands of her blond hair that had come undone from the large bun at the nape of her neck.

Suddenly, Lucy had jumped up from her mother’s lap. She looked around, her special bracelet in her mouth, and ran out of the room.

Lucy had then run through the doors and into her family’s sleeping quarters. She opened the door to the room she shared with her parents and Jasper and quickly climbed onto her bed. She reached under her pillow and sighed with relief. The journal was safely tucked away. She leaned over and kissed it and straightened the ribbon that kept it closed.

This journal was precious to Lucy. In fact, it was precious to them all. But Lucy felt responsible, for it was her role to hold it and keep it safe. The lurching of the train might have sent her pillow flying, and then the journal could have flipped out of the bed and been torn—or even slipped out the window! She was glad it was safe and, checking once again that it was still beneath the pillow and hadn’t disappeared (since things and people often did in Lucy’s life), she then hurried back to the others.

Now, Lucy looked out the window at a stand of trees she knew they had passed before.

“There’s the house, near the trees,” she insisted, pointing out in the direction Faye had been looking.

“There’s no house, Lucy,” Noah said.

“Silly, of course there is!” Lucy pointed more emphatically, her finger wagging.

“It’s not there,” Noah said, buttering another scone.

“Yes, it is quite,” said Lucy. “He’s dug it out himself. Oh, I hope his ears didn’t get wet in the rain.”

Noah threw a look at Jasper. “Rabbit?” Noah mouthed silently.

Jasper nodded.

“We’ve passed this way exactly seven times,” said Lucy. “There’s the sand cherry turning red.” Lucy identified a tight clump of bushy plants that had, in fact, turned a deep but mottled red. The last time, just days before, the leaves hadn’t yet turned—or, at least, Faye didn’t remember seeing anything so colorful from the window.

“It feels as if we’ve passed this way a hundred times,” groaned Faye, pouring milk into her tea, “no matter what color the leaves are.”

“As we must,” said Dr. Rajesh Vigyanveta to his daughter. “It is for our own good.”

“And what is that supposed to mean exactly, Father?” Faye asked. “How is any of this for our own good?”

“Faye, dear,” said her mother soothingly, “there are things that just must be because . . .” looking at her husband, then the other adults, she simply said, “Because they must be. It is for the best.”

Gwendolyn Vigyanveta smiled at her daughter. Faye looked at her mother, who seemed more like a small-minded country girl than a world-class scientist.

Faye opened her mouth to argue, but caught Jasper’s eye. She knew what he was saying with that look. He was right. There was no point complaining. Had Faye gotten anywhere complaining? At best, she simply failed. At worst, her complaining got them all into trouble.

She threw an angry glance at the mysterious man in black bringing a pot of tea to the table. At this point, she had no choice but to agree that the mysterious men in black (in their bunny ears, or frocks and pinafores, or bloomers and frilly bonnets) were likely there to guard them and meant no harm. But still Faye saw them as her jailers. They made her furious, these horrid men with their lunatic dress and bizarre speech. To Faye, they had been kidnappers, stealing her from her life on the estate in India, taking her from her own home and her own creatures and her servants and her laboratory.

The other children and their parents, too, had all been dragged from their homes—Jasper and Lucy from London, England; Noah from Toronto, Canada; and Wallace from long Island, New York, here in America.

Faye had to admit that life before—before the farmhouse outside Dayton, Ohio, before the train, before Miss Brett—had been lonely. Captive as she was, she was now among friends. Friends are the one thing she had never had before. But she could not believe that this was all “for their own good,” as her parents seemed to believe.

At least they tried to convince her of it, whether or not they really believed it themselves.

Noah, with his mop of red hair, pulled a small white chess pawn from his pocket. He attempted to balance it on his nose. Either by intention or misadventure, he flipped it into his not-yet-empty cup. With a shrug, he picked up the cup and slurped, finishing every last drop, except for the pawn. Faye made a grimace, placed her own cup daintily into its saucer, and tapped the cinnamon stick gently on the rim of her cup before putting it, too, on the saucer. Noah, who still had a full plate, reached for yet another crumpet from the basket of hot fresh treats being placed on the table by the man in black bunny ears. His mother, Ariana Canto-Sagas, her beautiful platinum necklace sparkling on her neck, picked up the basket and moved it out of reach of her son’s hunting fingers.

The door to the salon opened, and Dr. Banneker appeared, filling the doorway with his brawny form. Stepping aside, he gestured and Miss Brett entered. All the children were delighted to see her.

As always, their teacher looked lovely. She was so pretty and kind, and her smile brightened the room. like everyone else, she seemed to have relaxed tremendously now that all the families were back together.

Miss Brett had been with the children in confinement and isolation at Sole manner Farm. She had been there when they first arrived, unsure of why they had come. She had been there, with them, as they feared and fretted, not knowing where their parents were.

And she was there when had come—the mysterious and terrifying man who had threatened all their lives.

Miss Brett had grown to love these children dearly. To her, they were more than pupils, and more than charges. She cared deeply for each and every one of them. She was so very glad to see them basking in pleasure with their parents again.

“Now that looks like a mighty fine spread,” said Dr. Banneker, looking at the table. He pulled a chair out for Miss Brett, then went over to Wallace and put a large hand on his son’s small shoulder. “You need more meat on them bones, son,” he said, patting Wallace’s shoulder. The boy winced. Sitting down beside Wallace, Dr. Banneker piled more eggs and cakes onto his son’s plate, then did the same for himself.

“He’s, well . . . That is certainly a full plate,” Miss Brett said. She knew Wallace was not much of an eater, and that he would never finish that plate. That said, Miss Brett did noticed how much Wallace had grown already. He was still small for his age, but the slightly pudgy little boy was leaner and taller than when they had met all those months ago.

Before breakfast, Wallace, like the others, had been working on an invention—actually, an experiment with magnets. At the age of ten, he was quite a chemist. Miss Brett had been sitting by the fire.

“What are you doing there, Wallace?” Miss Brett had asked as she counted stitches. She was knitting scarves for each of the children.

“I’ve weighed this rare earth element and introduced a small layer of bismuth on one side, since, after consideration, I felt it would be the strongest elemental choice. See . . .” Wallace showed how the magnet in his hand caused the thimble on the armrest to roll away instead of roll toward him. “The bismuth has created a diamagnetic reaction,” he said, “pushing away instead of pulling toward itself, repelling instead of attracting as one would expect.”

Wallace adjusted his glasses and looked at Miss Brett, smiling.

Her hands had stopped knitting, and she simply stared. She had become quite used to being told things that were well beyond her ken. She often gazed blankly at the inventions and experiments of the brilliant children in her care. Though she was used to it, there were times when she was still shocked by what they could do.

She realized she was staring with her mouth open. She shook her head to break the spell and smiled broadly at him. “Well, now that is something,” she finally said.

Wallace adjusted his glasses again. “I’ve considered that this would create the strongest magnetic force. We had decided that neodymium might be better than the cobalt.” By “we,” he’d meant he and his colleague, but before breakfast, his colleague had been busy feigning sleep in her mother’s lap.

“How did you do all this?” Miss Brett leaned over to see his magnets.

“We used the small sintering furnace from the laboratory to heat the powder. I combined it with steel.” Wallace held the plaster mold in his hand. It had cooled and was ready.

“Mmmm,” said Miss Brett.

Opening the mold, he had smiled, dropping the magnet into his palm.

“You’ve made a perfect sphere.” Miss Brett was amazed.

Wallace smiled and showed her another he had made earlier. The old one was perfect, too. He polished it against his shirt and nodded to himself. Yes, the alloy would make the strongest magnet. He could already feel it tugging toward the coin in his pocket—the lucky coin his father had finally returned to him.

Wallace had managed to balance the magnet between the iron coils. Then he pulled the coin from his pocket. Carefully, Wallace got it to float between his magnets.

Miss Brett gasped. “Wallace, how clever! It . . . it’s like magic!”

“It’s science,” he said.

“To me, science is magic,” she said. “And these magnets are amazing.”

“I’ve always loved magnets,” Wallace said, “ever since my father read me Gilbert’s De Magnete when I was four.”

Miss Brett did not know who Gilbert was or what De Magnete was, either, though she could hazard a guess that it was a book about magnets.

“Lovely, Wallace! You’ve done it!” said Lucy, who had stopped by the window on her way back from checking on the journal.

“What if we could get droplets of water to float?” Lucy watched the rain fall across the plains. “If there was enough iron in the water, we could use the property of diamagnetism and float water—or even a little froggy!”

“A froggy?” Noah asked from the pile of his chess pieces. “A floating froggy?”

Frogs aside, Wallace did start thinking of creating a diamagnetic field and floating droplets of water. As interesting as magnets were when pulling things to them, the idea of pushing things away—or both at the same time—was still more fascinating.

“We could make a dynamo, a generator, using the magnetic reaction to generate power,” Wallace said to Lucy.

“We could make a magnetic torch that lights itself, and we could carry it with us!” cried Lucy.

“An electro-magnetic torch,” Wallace considered. He could clearly imagine the mechanism. It would never run out of power.

Miss Brett again shook her own head in amazement. Those heads carried more power than any magnet could create.

For months now, all of the children had been on a long, strange adventure. Though they seemed to have adjusted to the strangeness, their lives had truly been turned upside-down. At the moment, they all felt much safer than they had for weeks upon weeks.

During those weeks, they had been left with nothing to cling to for support—nothing from their parents to reassure them. Wallace had not even had the lucky coin his father had given him; nor Noah his dog; nor Jasper and Lucy their special bracelets, given to them as babies; nor Faye her amulet, a gift from her mother. Miss Brett had seen the impact from the absence of these tokens of comfort.

Aside from Miss Brett, they only had each other. They had worked some fabulous inventions and made some fascinating discoveries, but Miss Brett soon learned that the children were Missing something important. No one had ever read stories to them. No had read them lullabies or poems.

Well, there was one poem, if, indeed, it could be considered a poem. Miss Brett had never heard it before. But somehow, the children all knew it:

Strange round bird with three flat wings, Never ever stops when it shivers and sings,

Never to be touched even if you are bold, Turns the world to dust and lead into gold.

Three are the wings, one is the key.

One is the element that clings to the three.

Turns like a planet but it holds such power,

Clings to itself like the petals of a flower.

On weekends, the children had been taken from Miss Brett to houses in the city of Dayton. There, nannies waited with arms opened wide. While the nannies had been wonderful to the children, promises of their parents’ return had been nothing but a pack of lies. Every day, Jasper and Lucy had been told the same story about late-night returns and early-morning departures. But the truth was that, in all those months, their parents never came.

While Jasper and Lucy discovered that their parents were Missing, they also discovered a secret journal. Seemingly ancient, this journal had contained no pages, only torn and tattered shreds of what once must have been. But within the bound covers, they had found written mysterious dates—dates like “Naples in 1872,” “Amsterdam in the mid-summer of 1740,” and “Edinburgh in the late autumn of 1738.” There was no explanation as to why these dates were there. The only clue was written on the cover. There were only three words: “Young Inventors Guild.”

The children did not know what the Young Inventors Guild was. But they considered themselves to be the newest members. They had added their own date: “Dayton, Ohio, USA, 1903.” They had written their own notes and drawings and ideas. They had added their own inventions and kept them in the Young Inventors Guild book. This was the journal Lucy now protected.

But how could wee Lucy truly protect it? And against untold dangers? The children and their teacher had all been in danger, as was their greatest invention—their flying machine. Someone came for it, and for them. Someone terrible. A monster disguised as a birdwatcher, who had placed Miss Brett in mortal danger.

Komar Romak.

“Oh, I’d love a biscuit,” said Lucy, clapping her hands together. She reached over and took one, placing it on her napkin. She then reached for the crusts of toast from Jasper’s plate. As Jasper reached up to stop Lucy, Wallace reached over Jasper’s plate for the milk and Faye tried to take a spoon from the tea tray.

“Ouch!” Jasper and Lucy cried, pulling their arms back and rubbing their wrists. Wallace pulled his hand back, too. Across the table from Jasper, Faye jumped back. The twinge in her neck had felt like a bee sting.

Noah’s mother, sitting next to Faye, jumped as well. She had been reaching to take a lump of sugar next to Faye.

“What happened?” asked Faye, rubbing her neck.

“It was an electric shock,” Jasper said, moving his bracelet up his arm to better rub his wrist where it hurt.

“From all the way over here?” said Faye, rubbing her necklace.

It felt hot. “I’m across the table from you. I was only reaching for—”

“You must have turned your head too quickly and pinched your nerve,” her mother said quickly, looking at her husband. She reached over to rub Faye’s neck, looking at her daughter with concern. Faye looked at Jasper. Silently, they agreed.

“There’s something you’re not telling us,” insisted Faye.

Dr. Clarence Canto-Sagas seemed to plaster a smile on his face that did not extend beyond his lips. His eyes seemed to hold a different emotion, more like concern.

But suddenly, Lucy leapt up, nearly knocking over her plate.

She jumped up and down, pointing toward the window.

“Look!” she cried. “There’s someone coming toward us!”

Someone was an odd thing to call the large mechanical contraption that lumbered toward them. It was not yet very close, but they could still hear the sound of clanging.

“Goodness, is that another train?” asked Miss Brett. Her vision could not clearly capture the thing.

“Not a train,” said Jasper. “Father, do you—” But his father was running from the room.

Within seconds, his father returned, and then he, too, ran to the window.

Then, suddenly they all felt a jolt—not as if they had hit something, but as if something had slapped the train with an electric hand.

“What is that?” Lucy asked, still pointing and jumping. “It’s so shiny!” She hurried to the window, her nosed pressed against it. “It’s so shiny, shiny, shiny!”

Miss Brett stood up, holding a plate of scones, and went over to Lucy.

There was, indeed, something shiny. Now—off in the distance, but not as far as the horizon—there was a very shiny sparkle, like a mirror or something silver. The strangest thing was that it seemed to be floating in the air. And even stranger, it seemed to be going away from the train, as if the train had been its origin.

“Goodness,” Miss Brett said, without a clue as to what the shiny object was. She watched with the others as it looped past the lumbering contraption.

Dr. Ben Banneker stood up, throwing a look of concern to the other parents. The tension among them was thick.

“I don’t know what that could be,” said Jasper. All five children were pressed against the window, looking at the shiny thing that now seemed to be getting closer while still hovering well above the ground. “I thought it was getting smaller, but it looks to be the size—”

“The size of Faye’s head,” said Noah, pretending to measure Faye’s head. “And, like Faye’s head, it’s getting bigger every second.”

Though Noah was being funny, what he said was actually true—not about the size of Faye’s head, but about this floating orb of energy, silver and glowing, looping back around and closer.

“Maybe it’s getting bigger because we’re moving toward it,” said Noah, feeling he was wrong before he said it. No, it was moving with intent.

“Could it be a reflection from the silica in the sand?” asked Wallace, wiping and replacing his glasses, looking toward his father, then peering more intently through the window. He already knew that his suggestion was impossible. Reflections did not hover. Nor did they move through the air of their own volition.

“It’s definitely not a reflection. It’s hovering,” said Noah, saying aloud what Wallace had realized silently, “and reflections don’t hover like that. And they don’t fly through the air.” For now it was clear that, more than hovering, the floating orb was flying toward them—or perhaps circling around back toward them after it had gone around the metallic contraption. Either way, it felt as if something was wrong.

The man in the frilly apron came for the empty platters and teacups and pot. He was followed by the very short man with the very tall black top hat and the long black leather jerkin, and behind him, the man with the black chef’s hat was carrying a fresh tea tray.

“Come look!” called Lucy. She took the frilly apron man’s hand and pulled him to the window. “I’ve found a shiny thing!”

Dr. Tobias modest caught the chef’s-hat man’s arm and whispered something in his ear. The man gasped. Then the parents all huddled together, exchanging inaudible words with the top hat man.

Faye’s face went hot again, but it was Jasper who spoke: “What’s going on, Father? Tell us, please!”

The frilly apron man hurried from the room, the top hat man and chef’s-hat man following suit. Within seconds, the train seemed to pick up great speed.

“Take them to our room,” Dr. Canto-Sagas said to Miss Brett. “I . . . we . . . Just take them, please.”

“You know what’s happening, too, don’t you?” Noah said, rounding on his father. Clarence Canto-Sagas turned from his son.

Wallace looked up at the looming form of his own father. He opened his mouth to ask, but his father shuffled him along toward the door of the train car. But as he was shuffled, he caught a glimpse of the hovering thing going back toward the lumbering contraption.

“You all know what it is, don’t you?” Faye would not be moved so easily. She could see how the parents were avoiding the eyes of their children. “Are we in danger? Are we in danger from the machine, or from the shiny thing circling around it? I want to know and I want to know now!” Faye could feel the bile rising with her fury. Her cheeks felt hot and flushed. “I hate when you do this! I hate when you don’t tell me what’s going on! I hate it!”

“We . . . we don’t . . .” But Faye’s mother turned toward the window, fear clear upon her face.

With one arm, Miss Brett pulled the children to her, spreading that arm protectively around them as best she could. Unconsciously, she still clung to the plate of scones in her other hand.

“Go to room,” the man in the chef’s hat insisted in his odd mysterious-man-in-black accent as he tried to hurry the children and Miss Brett along to the sleeping car.

“What is the shiny thing?” asked Lucy, pulling away and pointing out the window. “It is lovely. Is it naughty or nice?”

But there was no answer, from either the parents or the mysterious men in black. Instead, the bonnet man returned to Dr. Banneker and left the children where they were.

From her apron, Lucy removed the spyglass she had made when they lived at Sole manner Farm. She stood at the window. The other children moved to join her.

Miss Brett, suddenly aware of the plate of scones in her hand, started to place it on the table.

“Get down!” shouted Dr. Banneker.

Noah turned toward him. “What’s—”

And that’s when something loud and strange happened. What it was might be called an explosion—but it was not the explosion.

It was nothing like what was to come.