The Candy Factory Excerpt

You’d think a tour through a candy factory would lead to chocolaty, sugary awesomeness. I did.

I have five cavities. “It’s genetic,” I heard the dentist tell my mom. That means even though I brush my teeth every night—well, mostly every night to be totally honest—I still get cavities because my dad got them when he was a kid.

My mom and dad told me I wasn’t allowed to go to the candy factory. “I absolutely forbid it,” my mom said, then gave my dad a hard glare. He returned her glare, and said, “You know we can’t forbid him.” Then my dad grasped me by the shoulders, looked me in the eyes and said, “We’ve always told you to be good boy. I hope you are.”

I figured they were trying to keep me from going and getting more cavities. But since the dentist pretty much said I’d get them no matter what, I hopped on my bike when I got the text from Sid:

lots of free candy. meet at my house. bike 2 factory from there.

Sid lived two doors down, right next to Mrs. Adler. He was a year older than me and his real name was Eddie. Everyone called him Sid because that was the name of the bully in the movie Toy Story who tortured kid’s toys. Sid tortured animals.

I rode my bike into the shade of Sid’s garage, and saw Mrs. Adler’s new kitten stray inside. Sid saw it, too. Before I had a chance to nudge the kitten back out, Sid closed the door.

“Here, kitty, kitty,” Sid called with a gentle voice. When it approached, he rubbed his hand down the kitten’s white back, then snatched its tail and swung it over his head like a lasso. Sid let the tail go, launching the kitten. It hit the cement wall with a dull thud. “Whoa! A cat that doesn’t land on its feet. Look!” The kitten darted with a limp under the shelving in the garage.

Sid lay on his stomach and jabbed a broom handle under the shelving. Blood stained the kitten’s white face and it licked at a crooked paw.

“It’s hurt,” I said, yanking the broom out of Sid’s hand. “Leave it alone.”

I threw the broom aside and opened his garage door.  “C’mon.  Let’s go,” I said, hoping the kitten would make its escape, which it did.

“Hey!” Sid yelled.  “You let it get away!”

I hopped on my bike. “I thought you wanted to go to the factory,” I said.

“Yeah, okay,” Sid replied. “Let’s get out of here. My mom’s making barf-loaf for dinner. Think I’ll pass, thank you.”

We rode at a steady pace until a red brick building came into view. “Beat you to it!” Sid yelled.

Our bike tires skidded to a stop on faded, cracked, pavement. A red brick building loomed just ahead.

“Holy shit,” Sid said, staring upward, his mouth agape. “It’s huge.”

The building stretched so high, I couldn’t tell where its rooftop ended.

A dented, bent metal sign that read, CANDY, clanged against the façade as it swung in the hot breeze. Each bang was followed by a squawk from a bunch of crows circling a tall black smokestack. A dark puff whooshed from the smokestack, scattering the birds.

“Look at all those broken windows,” I said.

“They look like open mouths with jagged teeth,” Sid said.

“Yeah,” I said, “They kinda do.”

The bricks were stained black around the windows, and they sagged on top of each other, as if ready to tumble in the next gust of wind.

I stole a glance over my shoulder. The sun shone bright in the distance behind us, but there were dark clouds hanging over the factory and the sky above it was gray. My arms broke out in goose bumps. “There’s no one else here. And the front door is boarded up. Are you sure this is the right place?”

“Yeah, I’m sure,” Sid said as he jumped off his bike, letting it fall to the pavement with a clang. “We’re supposed to go around the back.”

“I’m not sure I want to go in there,” I said, gripping my handlebars tight. “This place is creepy.”

Sid rolled his eyes. “Don’t tell me you’re chicken.”

“I’m not chicken,” I said.

“C’mon chicken,” Sid said, taunting me as he started walking. “Hey, I hear people!” he called as he neared the building’s corner. “Meet you in back, if you’re not afraid.”