Could it really be possible – to build a doorway across time and space?
For teen-genius Rupert McAllister, building a window to another dimension is just another day in the life. But when a freak lightning strike crashes down his invention sparks to life and disaster strikes – his lovable pooch, Frankie the Dachshund is catapulted to a distant land at the other end of the universe.
A land of dark forests containing a terrible secret…
Thomas Hautaniemi’s Frankie and the Claws is a gripping tale of daring bravery and friendship against all odds. A thrilling kid’s book which is sure to leave them wanting more, this exciting adventure is guaranteed to be a hit. Fearless acts of courage, unexpected friendships and a pinch of ingenious brilliance will decide who makes it home to earth. What will happen if Frankie and the Claws go head to head?
Will Rupert’s dazzling intelligence be enough to help him fix the portal and save his best friend? There’s only one way to find out…
Read a sample below.
Chapter 1. The McAllister-Frankie Door
“Owch!” The boy said, sucking his thumb. He had just managed to, once again, re-route an electrical circuit through his own hand, causing a jolt to shoot through his body. Luckily the power left in the machine was only residual, as he had been sure to turn the magnetic transistors and the neutron-wave oscillators waaaay down.
“Well, at least it’s not like the last time, hey Frankie?” The boy asked his only laboratory assistant – a short haired Dachshund currently trying to scuff his way out of an ill-fitting white laboratory hat that his owner had stuck on his small head. The last time that Rupert McAllister had given himself a shock, he had been thrown clear across the basement, thankfully landing in the heap of empty cardboard boxes that the electronic parts had come in.
Frankie looked mournfully at his owner, sure that, in fact, it was going to be a lot worse this time.
“Yep, nothing to worry about!” The boy chirruped happily, “You don’t get anywhere without a little pain, that’s what all of the great inventors say!” Rupert whistled a few notes as he turned back to his wallchart to scrub out a few numbers and put in some new ones. “I say, hand me that voltage detector, would you, old chap?” He called over his shoulder at the Dachshund.
Frankie, always ready to obey, turned to look in the direction that Rupert had waved, but only saw a pile of junk.
The whole basement of the suburban McAllister home had been turned into a scientific playground by the russet-haired teenager. Although, nominally, there was still a metal rack at the back by the stairs that held old gummed-up tins of paint and dusty rolls of wallpaper, all of the rest of the space had been converted into a cross between an evil lair and an electronic scrapyard.
Wallace McAllister, Rupert’s father, had once said that the place looked like ‘where good computers go to die’ – a term which Frankie didn’t understand, but he knew it was a place that made his boy, Rupert, happy. And that was enough for him.
There were strange metal and plastic units that lay on the large tables all around the walls, their housings unlatched, unscrewed, or broken open to reveal wires, batteries, circuit boards and strange, gleaming metal parts that seemed to have no function at all. Cables and wires snaked out of these dismembered bits of technology to attach to others, some whirring, some with blinking lights, others just dark and silent.
Frankie wasn’t sure what any of it did, but he liked the large floor fans that Rupert had set up in two corners of the room, to ‘cool all the processors down’ or so the human boy had said.
The electrical components and nests of wires spilled over the tables to find new homes under them, but everything was dominated by what stood in the centre of the room. To Frankie’s diminutive eyes it looked like a door, but then again – what did he know?
The object in the centre of the room was almost six feet high, and about two feet wide, with a thick ‘frame’ of metal components and wires. It’s ‘insides’ (the place where the door would stand) was actually a patchwork collection of screens that were held together by wire and the metal shelving struts. At the moment they were black, but over the last month Frankie had seen them flicker with static and the beginnings of life. The dachshund sniffed at them warily, to his sensitive nose they smelt like the first rain on hot stone, or the smell that you get just before a summer thunderstorm strikes.
Frankie whined. He didn’t like that smell, it made him think of storms and hiding under Rupert’s bed.
“Aww buddy, it’s okay. I was only joking with you!” Rupert turned back from the chalkboard to take off his scientists white cap and give him a reassuring pat on the head. “Here, this is what I’m after!” He snatched up the voltmeter and proceeded to wave it at various parts of the wires that snaked up to the door, whistling as he did so.
Frankie, reassured a little, walked to the edge of the stairs where he had his old blue felt bed, and curled up, nose to tail. He listened to his master Rupert work as he drifted off to a light doze.
“Hmmm… Now this is odd.” Rupert muttered to himself as he tinkered, trying to find the right source of the electricity that was still coursing through the McAllister-Frankie Door. The boy chuckled to himself at its ridiculous name. When he was successful, and Time magazine and MIT University came knocking on his door, he won’t tell them that he named his invention in partnership with his dog.
After all… Rupert thought. It’s only fair, Frankie has been down here helping me out right from day 1!
Rupert was a russet and chestnut-haired boy, coming up to almost his sixteenth year. Next year he would be sitting his extended exams, but his father, Wallace McAllister, had already put him forward for the early entrance exams for University. It had been clear to his Wallace and his mother June McAllister that Rupert was special. He had been learning a second language by the time that many other had only just mastered their first, and had raced through pre- and junior- school as if roller skates had been permanently attached to the bottom of his mind.
Rupert McAllister, even according to the experts, was a genius. He scored somewhere over 180 already, and the specialist doctors that came to test him every year said that his intellect showed no signs of stopping.
‘There is something strange with Rupert, though.’ The specialist doctors had confided in Wallace and June a couple of years ago. Aghast, his parents had feared that they would suggest that Rupert had some sort of terrible brain-disease, or was ‘too smart for his own good’. Instead however, the specialist doctors had told them some good news:
‘Young Rupert is so well-adjusted, for one so bright. Usually, children of his age and his intelligence are having difficulties with their peers at school!’
Both Wallace and June had laughed and told the specialist doctors not to worry. They knew what Rupert was so good-natured. It was because of his constant companion, Frankie the Dachshund McAllister.
Frankie was barely a foot tall off the round, but was longer than that to his rump and the wiggly whip of his tail. He was coloured a deep chocolate and tan colour, with a long nose and large, dark eyes. Rupert’s parents had brought him for their super-intelligent son as a way to give him something to care for and look after, and to take him out of his dry theories and blue-sky thinking.
The ploy seemed to have worked, and now, the pair were inseparable, spending every moment when Rupert wasn’t at school or with his specialist tutors together. Frankie had seen his master first discover the idea of the Door, and he had seen Rupert build the temple of electronics into what it was today.
The McAllister-Frankie Door had only been turned on once, and all that had happened was that it had emitted a large squeal of static, and had blown the house’s main fuse box before it had even cycled to full power. Of course, Rupert had been annoyed, but he had been more worried for Frankie, who had hid under the stairs and howled.
“I just know that this time it’s going to be better. That we’re going to get it!” Rupert muttered in part to the dozing Frankie. He worked feverishly over the wires and bits of computers, checking and rechecking the power that was about to feed into the Door.
“Rupert!” A muffled voice called from upstairs. “Come and have some supper before bedtime!”
It was his mom, and Rupert frowned as he looked at the wall clock that was mounted over the stairs – one of the few things that wasn’t connected to the Door down here.
“Coming Mom!” Rupert called out, before turning back to fiddle with the last of the wires. “Drat!” He said, setting down his screwdriver and miniature soldering iron. “Well, the world will have to wait a few more days, I guess.” He said desultorily.
Frankie poked his head up out of the bed. Someone had said supper, and that always meant that there would be a few treats for him too. His tiny tail thumped lightly against the side of the bed as he looked at the gangly, freckled youth that was his boy.
“Yeah okay, come on then Frankie,” Rupert cast one last look at the door of screens, before sighing heavily to himself and trudging up the wooden stairs of the basement to the trapdoor above, that opened up into the small pantry next to the kitchen.
Frankie barked excitedly, pulling himself up on his little, stubby legs, and hopped up the stairs, one stair at a time.
Behind them both, the McAllister-Frankie Door hummed to itself, its nervous system and arteries of wires and cables still flickering with residual life…