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Behind the locked door...

The Quest of The Black extract by boys of Holy Family Catholic Primary

During our 'Lads & Dads' writing evening, we took the boys down the darkened corridor to the door alongside the headteacher's office marked 'Staff Only'. Using only the light of a torch, we discussed our feelings and tried to imagine what we may find behind the locked door. We recreated the scene from the book then asked the boys to work together to continue the story. The black extract is taken directly from the book, the coloured text is straight from the imaginative brains of our Year 5 boys. This is what they wrote...

Sam continued on down the corridor, past the cloakroom until he came to a large solid wooden door marked 'STAFF ONLY'. Sam had never been beyond this door and as far as he knew, nor had any other child. The door was always locked and the area was 'out of bounds'. This end of the school was the tallest part of the whole building and Sam and his Year 6 class had nicknamed it 'The Tower' because their teacher Mr Stewart had once joked "That's where they lock up all Year 6 children who misbehave or don't do their homework!"

Sam missed Mr Stewart. It wasn't just the fact that they shared the same surname...he missed his stories and his jokes, and, more than ever, he missed Maria. He reached into his rucksack and took out a piece of metal wire and a small metal file. He skilfully worked the wire into the keyhole and with an expert twist of the file, the lock clicked and sprung back. He was in...Sam was the first child ever to go beyond the old wooden door! He turned the handle and slowly entered 'The Tower'...

Sam suddenly thought it was all a bad idea and ran as fast as he could back towards the door but was too late. SLAM...the door had shut and before Sam could turn the brass knob, he heard a key turn in the lock. Sam was locked in. He realised he had no choice but to continue with the mystery that lay ahead. As Sam flicked on his torch, he realised that it was not a room after all; it was a secret lair. Sam could smell a foul stench in the air around him; it smelt like someone lived their whole life without washing. Sam brushed his hand against a stony wall until he came to a slight crack and then a smooth surface then another crack and then back to the stony wall again.

Sam shone his torch against the smooth surface of the wall. "A door" he muttered to himself. He turned the handle gently until the door creaked open. Sam could see another candle alight on a desk and to the left he saw a small glint of metal through a small gap in the wall. He found a box and packed it with his school books from his backpack. He then climbed up onto the box then up into the hole in the wall. It was a bit of a tight squeeze but he just managed to get through. Sam was amazed at what he was a dungeon and lying in the centre of it was...

An icy cold metal chair with black leather straps to keep something or someone down. Sam crept forward carefully then suddenly, without any warning, someone spoke.

"Sam, what are you doing here?"

Sam turned around in fright like it had been a monster or an alien. He was absolutely was Mrs Stewart!

"Why are you here?" Sam said demandingly, his hands on his hips.

"I am sorry for replying a question with a question, but why are you here?" Mrs Stewart replied, her hands on her waist.

"Looking for Maria!" Sam said bravely.

"Well, we are on the same mission" Mrs Stewart responded.

They found a door and quickly rushed over to it, stopping suddenly as they could hear a muffled noise..." me anybody...Please"...

"You go first Mrs're a grown up after all" said Sam.

Mrs Stewart tried to open the door but it was locked. Sam took his metal wire and metal file out of his pocket and with an expert twist he managed to unlock the door.

"After you" Sam said.

Mrs Stewart slowly opened the door which was heavy and made a creaking sound. They walked through the door and found themselves deep underground in a mine. It was very cold, dark and the walls were solid hard rock. It felt damp too. They could hardly see a thing but Sam still had his torch which he turned on. Suddenly they saw a shadow of someone closing the door behind them. Sam was scared and grabbed Mrs Stewart's hand. They listened for the voice they had heard but couldn't hear anything.

"Come on Sam, let's not be scaredy cats" Mrs Stewart said.

They carried on walking into the darkness when Mrs Stewart trod on something on the ground. Sam shone his torch down and they saw a golden necklace shining.

"Look, that looks like the necklace Maria used to wear!" Sam shouted.

Both Sam and Mrs Stewart were worried now that the voice they had heard was Maria's. Mrs Stewart picked the necklace up and put it in her bag...

Just as Mrs Stewart placed the necklace in her bag, Sam noticed on the rocky ground a fragment of ancient parchment with some old-fashioned writing on it. It said:

  • Capture the witch (Maria)
  • Lock her up
  • Hold a trial
  • If guilty...burn her at the stake! 

Sam was sure that voice was Maria's and that she wasn't in the mine anymore. They had to find her soon but before they started looking for her, they had to find a way out of the horrible, cold, dark mine. The mine was gloomy and it was extremely hard to see. The only source of light was from a little a torch held in Sam's trembling hand. The mine was damp and they could hear water dripping on the ground from above. Suddenly a dark shadow dashed through the mine. Just then, Mrs Stewart and Sam heard heavy rapid footsteps echo through the mine. They were too fast to be had to be an animal. The animal was huge and hairy and Sam feared that later on he would have to battle this beast on his quest to save Maria. With relief, Sam found a secret tunnel and started climbing through. Mrs Stewart tried to follow but couldn't squeeze through the gap. She shouted "Go on without me...I can't get through, don't worry about me!"

Sam went through the tunnel wondering what he was going to find ahead of him...

Slowly Sam crawled to the top of the tunnel; he could feel the ground getting softer under his palms. He looked down and noticed the texture of the ground was changing rapidly. Suddenly he felt a swirl of wind in his face. Sam's heart began to pulsate quicker and quicker. The thought of the large hairy animal forced its way to the forefront of his mind. Sam shone his torch in a hurried state from left to right in panic. All of a sudden he recognised the area he was in; it was the caretaker's garden. The garden was in a mess; Sam thought to himself, chuckling, the garden had the same messy appearance as the caretaker himself! Sam noticed a figure skulking on the left hand side of the garden. It was the large, hairy animal! The animal spun around and stared at Sam, eyes directly in line with each other. The animal's eyes glowed from the torch light. It was then that Sam recognised the large animal was actually the caretaker's playful dog. With a huge sigh of relief, Sam sunk to the ground.

Feeling relieved, he though his route had come to an and so he decide to turn around and go back down the rocky tunnel towards the mine and Mrs Stewart. As he got closer to the end of the tunnel, he smelt the distinctive scent of candle wax. Sam thought for a minute...where had that smell come from and where was Mrs Stewart? With the utmost concentration and awareness not to make any sound which may alert whatever was around the corner when he re-entered the mine, Sam peered carefully, his eyes not even flickering. He noticed Mrs Stewart holding a lit candle in her hard-skinned left hand whilst holding the parchment they had previously found slightly cocked above the flickering, yellow flame. Mrs Stewart was destroying the evidence! 'Why?' Sam thought...' What has she got to gain?'

The paper caught alight immediately and swiftly disappeared into ashes which blew all around the mine. Mrs Stewart stood there with a smug grin on her face whilst pulling something from  her inside jacket pocket. To Sam's amazement it looked like more of the ancient parchment Mrs Stewart had just destroyed. As she commenced to burn these parchments in the same manner as the last one, Sam's mind exploded with questions.

'Was Mrs Stewart the kidnapper and did I catch her in the act earlier when she pretended to be looking for Maria?'

Sam thought very carefully about what his next move would be...

He was really confused...why was Mrs Stewart burning up the evidence? Was she actually an evil mastermind trying to spoil the mystery that Sam was trying to solve? Sam went to another tunnel he had spotted on the way and went inside where he discovered some sort of underground building. There were tiles on the floor and lots of bottles of liquid on the shelves. Suddenly Sam found a ladder so he climbed up it and when he peered into the room his face fell in horror.

It was Maria locked up in a little cell and beside her was an acid pool. He saw the same list he had seen when Mrs Stewart had put the golden necklace into his bag but this time the 'hold a trial' bit had been ticked off! Just then Maria shouted "Help, help, I'm locked in here!"

Sam quickly took out his metal wire and his small metal file and picked the lock on the little cell door.

"Thank goodness you saved me...I was beginning to think no-one would ever come to rescue me" Maria said gratefully.

Suddenly the ground shook and this was followed by a great roar. Who...or what was it?

Sam started to shake and it wasn't because he was cold; the roar was getting louder and louder, closer and closer. Sam was too scared to notice Mrs Stewart jumping through a secret escape route in the floor but Maria did notice as she could hear Mrs Stewart squeakily sliding down the hole.

"Quick Sam, I know how to escape" Maria whispered.

"How?" Sam replied

"I saw Mrs Stewart jump through an escape route in the ground" Maria explained.

They jumped through the big hole and slid down the route; they were surprised by how smooth the route was but they were pretty sure no-one would want to jump down a hole of rock even if there wasa huge roar and they didn't know what it was. When they eventually reached the bottom they realised how close the roar actually was. They saw Mrs Stewart patting the beast's gigantic head. Mrs Stewart smiled. What was she going to do to them now?

Sam and Maria ran swiftly down the cave. It was icy, dark and creepy. They heard a piercing roar slowly coming up behind them. They looked back cautiously and saw deep yellow glowing eyes in the distance. Maria slipped over on the ice and suddenly Sam could feel the breath of the beast on his back.

Feeling scared but calm,Sam very quickly picked up a startled Maria and ran. They could see an exit in the distance...could they reach it? Suddenly the big beast pounced up onto Sam and snatched both him and Maria.

The two children fought back but it was no goo; Sam realised it was ahuge brown bear. To his amazement, when he kicked the bear's nose it backed off and ran back to Mrs Stewart. Knocking Mrs Stewart over, the bear ran out of the room and vanished from their sight. Mrs Stewart got to her feet and also ran out of the room; Sam was thrilled to have Maria back with him. He hugged her and she hugged him back. Then, following the direction Mrs Stewart had gone, Sam and Maria sprinted after her. Suddenly the ground shook and a loud bang went off in the distance that sounded like dynamite. The two children ran an dran and didn't stop however neither did the explosions. the ground continued to shake and it appeared the shaking was getting nearer. Sam suddenly spotted Mrs Stewart leaving the Tower so he held open the door and both himself and Maria dashed outside to safety. They looked around...Mrs Stewart had disappeared.

"Where has she gone?" Sam muttered to himself...

If you are still reading at this point, we really hope you enjoyed our Year 5 boys adventure. Perhaps you can think of how you would end this story? That's the magic of books and can decide what happens to your characters - how cool is that!

If you want to read the original quest adventures of Sam, Maria and their friends, please see Mr Tindall for a copy of The Thistle & The Bear' trilogy or alternatively log on to where you can find details of the stories.

Finally, my thanks to Ethan, Harry, Charlie, Joseph, Harley, Dilan, Jason, Louis & Kieran (and all your dad's!) for your fantastic contributions to our joint quest story. I am extremely impressed at the way you were able to link everything together as the story was passed on from author to author each evening. Superb...and you could always use some of these ideas and vocabulary again in the future!

Happy reading & writing!