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The Secret Room

The Secret Room by Beth KanellThe Secret Room

by Beth Kanell

Shawna and Thea are working together on a math project for their eighth-grade class. But the numbers don’t add up, and they make a startling discovery: a secret room in the basement of Thea’s house, an old Vermont inn. The code on the walls makes the girls and everyone in town wonder why there was a secret room. Was it part of the Underground Railroad, or perhaps something less, well, heroic? Discovering the truth is harder than they would have thought, especially when the truth is not what some people want to hear.

Price:  $9.95

Selected excerpts from “The Secret Room”:

Shawna said: That’s how we found the secret room, of course. The secret room at the north end of the cellar of the old North Upton Inn, with the boarded up entrance, the doorway so short we climbed into it with our heads bent down practically to our chests, and for a long moment I was afraid I’d be stuck in the doorway, my jeans dragging against the rough stonework and my sweatshirt getting absolutely filthy with more spider webs and dust.

Luckily, I pushed on in, and in the beam from Thea’s flashlight, we both saw the numbers and the letters on the wall at the same moment.

“A code,” I breathed out, barely whispering.

“A code,” Thea agreed. At that moment, we both knew what we’d do next. Look for clues, and solve the code. Of course.

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.”

Great, I thought with fresh resentment: Not only is our secret room not a secret any more. But the whole church—the whole town, for all I knew!—was talking about our prize discovery. Of course, Thea’s family wasn’t there. Her parents didn’t go to church. So I was baffled.

How did they all find out so fast? And what would Thea say?

I flattened myself against the cold hard dirt floor, and reached into the hole with the hand holding the flashlight. I couldn’t see Teddy—he must be further along. But I could see that the tunnel seemed to open up after the first tight part. I pulled my arm back and put the flashlight between my teeth, so it sort of pointed down and forward, and using both hands and my feet, I pushed into the tight and uneven space. Oh God, don’t let me get stuck, I prayed. I would be so incredibly embarrassed. I was more afraid of that, than of any spiders.