Chapter One: Temptation
Magpies singing outside the bedroom window woke Jamie from a deep sleep. He rubbed his eyes, remembering he had slept in his brother’s room, not his own. JJ’s gentle breathing confirmed he was still asleep. The early morning birdsong, plus the excitement of the previous day, ensured Jamie was wide-awake.
He snuggled back under his blankets thinking of yesterday’s adventure.
It had been awesome, so awesome. Jamie wondered if anyone would believe four kids had found a real-life portal into the world of Minecraft. Yesterday he’d walked and sprinted as his Minecraft skin JamieG14. His heart raced. He’d crafted a stone sword and used it to kill a cave spider. Scary, very scary. Scarier than the creeper that had exploded right beside him, sending him flying through the air and blowing a huge hole in their house. Jamie drew his covers tightly around him. He wondered how Charli and Annie would feel when they woke up today. Would they be excited? Would they want to explore further, as he did?
JJ had insisted they all keep their adventure a Crafters’ Club secret. None of them were to enter the portal alone. All four club members would decide together if and when they’d go back in. Jamie agreed they needed to keep it a secret, but Annie didn’t want to go back in and Charli would be away until Sunday. Today was only Saturday. It was extremely early in the morning, light had only just begun to shine through the crack in the curtains. With a portal in the forest behind his house and adventures to be found, Sunday seemed a long, long time away.
The house was quiet. Jamie’s parents were still asleep. He crept quietly out of JJ’s room and back to his own. He dressed, tiptoed through the house and slipped out the back door. He’d promised JJ he wouldn’t go back through the portal without the other club members. But that promise wouldn’t stop him from checking it was still there.
Jamie found the track to the portal easily. The thick undergrowth lay trampled and flattened from the previous day. Overhanging branches had been moved making the journey quicker. Jamie stepped across the rocks in the creek and made his way up the steep bank on the other side. What if the portal wasn’t there? What if they couldn’t get back into the Minecraft world? He’d seen a village he really wanted to visit.
As he rounded a large tree and stepped out into the clearing, his face broke into a wide smile. The purple light of the portal flickered in the early morning sunshine. It was exactly the same as the day before. He stood and stared. What if he went through and came straight back out? Surely he could check it still worked. He moved closer to the portal. No one would ever have to know.
He stopped. He couldn’t break his promise. A promise made by all the Crafters’ Club members. After a few minutes Jamie came to his decision. He would return and wake JJ up. JJ had given his word that they would go back in and see the village. He spared one last look at the portal and turned, retracing his steps across the creek, through the thick forest to the back of his yard.
“What do you mean, no?” Jamie stared at his brother. “The portal’s waiting for us to go through.”
JJ shook his head. “We agreed to wait until our next Crafters’ Club meeting to decide what we’re going to do about the portal. Charli’s at a basketball tournament today, so we’ll meet tomorrow.”
“You and I could go back in now, visit the village, and come straight back out.”
“How do you know we wouldn’t get stuck again? The portal to help us back out might not exist anymore.”
“We can check whether the obsidian bridge still crosses the lava moat on the Xbox first. Come on, let’s go now.”
JJ followed Jamie to the living room and took the Xbox controller his younger brother handed him. He opened the map.
“There’s the house,” Jamie said. “Let’s go there first, then we can go and find the portal.” The boys moved their Minecraft characters from the hill they stood on toward the house.
“Look, cows,” JJ said as they ran past a herd. “I wonder which one you punched?”
Jamie stopped. “The brown and white one,” he said. He opened his inventory. It contained the items he’d made in the map the day before. “No wheat,” he said. “Have you got any? I wanted to give her some, so she knows I’m sorry.”
“No, I gave it to the girls to make bread yesterday. Let’s change to creative mode, then we can do whatever we want. Also, if we do go back in, everything will be a lot easier.”
Jamie turned to JJ. “So you do want to go back?”
“Of course I do. I just want to be safer this time. We need to make sure we can get back out, that we can access our food and inventory. In creative everything will be easier.”
Jamie exited the game, changed mode and reopened it in creative. His inventory filled with hundreds of items. He scrolled through and found some wheat. Holding some out to the cows they moved closer, rubbing their heads together as they ate. Love hearts surrounded them and a calf appeared. The cows mooed and nuzzled their baby.
JJ grinned. “I think she’s forgiven you.” They used their controllers to move to the house.
“There’s the hole,” Jamie said. “Let’s fix it.” He opened his inventory and placed the cobblestone quickly. He laughed as he put down the last block. “Imagine how long that would have taken us yesterday. If only we’d been in creative.”
The boys moved their characters to the portal. “It’s still here,” JJ said. “So there’s a way out.”
The crafting table and furnace were still next to the waterfall, they’d forgotten to put them back into their inventory. “Let’s go over to the village.”
A deep voice floated through the window from outside. “JJ, are you there?”
“Oh great,” Jamie said. “Dad wants you. We’re never going to get there, not even on the Xbox.”
JJ laughed. “I promised to go with him to get mulch for the veggie garden this morning. Shame we didn’t bring any bone meal back yesterday, I’d be able to surprise him with full grown veggies before breakfast.”
“What about the village?”
“There’s nothing stopping you from exploring. You can show me what you find later.”
Jamie smiled as JJ exited his screen and went to help their dad. Nothing stopping me from exploring, he thought. JJ hadn’t said the exploring needed to be on the Xbox.
Jamie watched the car back out of the driveway with the trailer attached.
“When will they be back?” he called to his mother.
“In about an hour,” she said. “Help yourself to breakfast, I’ll be at my computer. These invoices won’t finish themselves.” The door to his mother’s office closed.
Perfect, no one would notice he was gone. He double-checked the Xbox map was set to creative mode and hurried out the back door. He followed his tracks from earlier and, a few minutes later, stood in the clearing. The purple light of the portal flickered and danced in front of him.
JJ had said to go and explore the village, so he would. He moved closer, closed his eyes and, taking a deep breath, stepped into its welcoming light.