Tom was astounded and scared. The smell of burnt mush wafted down the hall on the waves of Jordan’s screams. He stood up.
“Honey,” he said to his wife, “You have to get up. Miranda’s missing.”
“It’s just one of her games. You’ll find her somewhere.”
“I don’t want to argue. The mush is burning, Jordan is crying and Miranda is gone.”
“Welcome to MY world,” said Joan. But she sat up, slipped her feet into her fluffy bunny slippers and put on her robe. Tying it around her, she went to the kitchen, picked Jordan up so he would stop screaming, and turned off the fire under the mush. “Whoever said children change your life was right. I don’t know about the ‘for the better’ part.” Jordan grabbed a wad of her hair and pulled it. She went to Miranda’s bedroom and found Tom sitting on Miranda’s bed. He’d moved Miranda’s pink fluffy rug and the bed to one side and was staring at the trap door..
“Did you KNOW about this?”
“The question you should be asking, Tom, is whether it’s a real door or not.”
“Oh come on. Miranda couldn’t have drawn this. She’s five.”
Tom leaned down and touched the lava doorknob. “Good Lord!” he screamed, pulling back his hand. “This is crazy. That doorknob is as hot as fire.”
“Probably something wrong with the furnace. I think you should call somebody.”
“Get me a hot pad from the kitchen.”
“You’re not serious.”
“I had a funny feeling last night when Miranda came to our room, a premonition, that there really was…”
“A TROLL? Tom, call the cops. If our daughter is really missing — and hasn’t just found the perfect hiding place — but seriously?” Joan lifted her voice and called, “Miranda! Miranda! Come out from wherever you are. This isn’t funny any more. Miranda!!!!“