Isaac slid down one step, and then another. The ceiling seemed a little further away. He still wasn’t sure whether it was him or the house that was growing or shrinking, but the stairs seemed to cause it. He looked up the stairs. Would he be able to get up the stairs before he was too big to fit up the hallway?
Probably not. He tried jumping down and skipping a step. He didn’t shrink as much as he had walking down two steps. Perhaps skipping steps was the answer? And when he was bigger he could skip more steps at a time. Would it be possible, skipping steps, to get to the top of the stairs before he was too big?
Was there a way to skip the steps all together? Perhaps the spider could climb along the wall and check for keys upstairs. That would be a lot easier. Just then, Isaac heard the front door slam closed. Perfect timing.
Isaac hurried to the bottom of the stairs, growing smaller (or the house growing bigger) as he went. And then he heard the tromping sound of heavy boots, and voices that he didn’t recognize were speaking somewhere nearby.
The people who really owned the house must have returned. How could he explain standing in the middle of someone else’s house where he didn’t belong? They’d call for the ants, and this time they’d make sure he couldn’t escape again.
Isaac looked around the hallway. He ducked into the room opposite the parlor and hid behind the door. The voices and footsteps grew louder, and now he could understand what they were saying.
“I still say it looks like someone was here. You should have seen the bears’ house. They had broken furniture and someone ate their food and slept in their beds. We need to start locking the doors when we’re out,” a voice said.
“No one was here, and they caught the intruder at the bears’ house,” a second voice said.
“What about the gingerbread house? Someone ate it, and they never did find out who,” the first voice said.
“I still say you worry too much,” the second voice said. “Wait. What’s that?”
“There, in the parlor,” the second voice said. “Is that a web?”
“Are there giant spiders in our house? Let’s burn it down. Now.”
“Not with me inside, you won’t,” the second voice said.
“Then you’d better get out now.”
Isaac looked around feeling panicked. He did not want to be stuck inside a burning house. He was hiding in a small, dark laundry room. Luckily, in a back corner of the room, there was another door. He tiptoed across the room and eased the door open.
On the other side of the door, there was a small garden. How was this in the potted plant? He was beginning to think he was somewhere else altogether. He eased the door shut behind him and started to walk through the garden. He stayed near the edges of the orchard and tried to stay under the branches of the tall berry bushes.
He picked up some of the large berries and put several in his pockets. He ate one of them, grimacing at the sour taste. He was hungry though, and ate around the bruises on the fruit.
At the end of the garden there was a dirt path. Well, it would be easier to find his way back if he followed the path. Should he just turn around now? If he wasn’t in the potted plant any more, was he just going further and further away from home? But he didn’t know how to get back through the woods.
The spider might know. He needed to find the spider. The spider would know the way back to the lobby. But then what?
He’d figure that out once he got there. First he had to find the spider. He’d said he was going to visit Miss Muffet. Maybe someone along this path would be able to give him directions. He took a deep breath and started walking down the path.