Extract from Chapter 1

The Fall

Danny James clicked the mouse button and immediately regretted the action. In that moment Danny knew his world had just ended.
     Before he could stop it, the CD tray jerked out of the computer and knocked into the vase he had just put on his desk. The white china ornament started to rock back and forth. Danny watched as the vase, with its tiny, hand-painted birds, slowly began to tip over. Then, with a sudden sense of doom, he realised that his mother’s favourite vase was now falling rapidly towards the back of his desk and the open window. The colourful little birds spun away in a blur of blue and orange and then disappeared from view as the vase plummeted down towards the ground below.
     Danny glared at the space where the vase had been. Then his eyes darted to the window.
     He cursed quietly, leaned over his desk and looked out. He was almost too afraid of what he would see, but he had to know. Scanning the ground far below him, Danny wondered why he hadn’t heard a crash. Why aren’t there any bits of broken vase down there? After a moment he remembered…
     “The ivy,” he pulled at a few leaves just below his window and then poked his head out further. There, he spotted a bright glint of white china nestling in the ivy half way down the wall.
     “Saved,” he muttered. His mum’s vase was safe, and so was his skin. But, now what… How to get the lucky ornament back inside?
     A fishing rod? He didn’t have one that worked.
     A piece of string and some blue tack? That seemed a bit too unreliable.
     A net… Did he have a net? Not in his room? Did he have one in the garage – or was it still packed away somewhere after the house move?
     The thoughts came thick and fast. Danny had dozens of different ideas… However, he acted on the only one which seemed necessary.
     The simplest and the most obvious idea would be the best.
     With a quick jump he was sitting on the back of his desk, then a push and he was halfway through the window, arms hanging down. The vase, sadly, remained just out of reach.
     A moment later he was lying on his stomach, half out of the window. That was better… closer. He wriggled forwards, risking more of his body outside. Closer, only a fingertip away now. He wriggled again.
     Only his legs remained in the room now, the rest of his body was tipped out. With his arms outstretched he was as close as he could be to reaching the vase.
     At that moment he sensed a sound behind him in his bedroom. The door had been violently flung open, and a shocked voice called out: “Danny, what on Earth are you doing?”
     “I’m okay,” he called back up… But he wasn’t. The action of moving to look over his shoulder had caused him to slip forwards. Now he was overbalancing and starting to fall forwards. All at once the air swooped round his ears, and he felt himself rushing headlong towards the floor. It seems a very long way down. He sensed his slippers catching on the old wooden window sill, and his left slipper was knocked off. He didn’t see it, but it flew in a wonderful curved arc over him.
     His body flipped over in a far more clumsy way. Instinctively he was grabbing for something to save him, at first it was only air, which wasn’t particularly useful. Then his fingers caught hold of something soft and waxy. He realised he had managed to grip onto a good handful of strong ivy leaves. The very same ivy which had saved the vase.
     He was moving too fast, and he tumbled over like an acrobat doing a back flip onto a Gym mat. The only differences were that Danny was not a skilled acrobat, and the paved driveway beneath him offered a most unwelcoming landing site. He was gripping the ivy so firmly, however, that it managed to stage his fall. And the next few events happened in a series of little accidents: his back hit the wall with a thud, the ivy tore apart, and he dropped the last few feet to the floor. He landed in a heap on his stomach, handfuls of torn ivy leaves in each hand. He could tell his knees and elbows had received some painful scratches, and there seemed to be a particularly jagged stone digging into his chest. He managed to roll awkwardly onto his side. A few seconds later, just as he was getting comfortable with the idea of still being alive, something gently landed on his stomach. The vase, suddenly released from the safety of the ivy, fell on top of him, bounced, and then hit the floor.
     “Oh no!” Danny managed to groan as he turned to look. The world was a dizzy flash of colours for a moment. When the fuzzy special effects settled down, he could see his mum’s most beloved ornament was laying at the side of him on the floor. He counted at least five pieces.

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