Dale didn’t leave the house that day. His windows were closed, and he’d spent the morning spraying the entire house with Raid, making sure the fly nets were up. He explained to his parents and older sister that there was a new insect-borne disease doing the rounds which made you vomit for days on end. When he thought they were sufficiently convinced, he went into his room and read Book of Worlds cover to cover for the second time.
When he finished, he dropped it on the carpet and put his head in his hands. He was still like that an hour later when the answer came to him, arriving in his mind unannounced, like he’d had the thought all along and hadn’t acknowledged it until now. It came in the form of a quote from the book, in the chapter titled Letter to Diana: To get to heaven, one must first cross hell. What hell, Dale wondered, had the author been thinking of? Pandemonium, of course.
To find Zindel, they would have to enter Pandemonium, find the door that led to the paradise land he lived in now (Dale was almost certain it was a place called Grale), and search for him there. To get to Pandemonium, they’d have to find out where Zindel had lived all these years. Considering he was a well known author and must have lived near Westlake for his original handwritten book to end up in the school library, that couldn’t be too difficult.
He sat up at last, heart beginning to beat steadily with renewed hope. There was something he could do, after all. It seemed almost too simple, but then Zindel had really wanted his daughter to find him, hadn’t he? He didn’t want to make the riddle too hard – just hard enough that she’d have to put in a little effort to figure it out. Yeah.
He reached for his phone, then hesitated. They would be in the forest, still looking for places. Better to meet up with them, first – safety in numbers, especially with a nutter like Jordan walking around. He stood up, snatched the copy of the book, and headed out. He wore long sleeves, because the flies were out.