"Naa. Not worth it. There's no-one here! Who'd want to live in a dump like that?!"
We were about to go when we heard a humming noise. It was like a huge generator, throbbing gently somewhere, but the sound seemed to come from everywhere.
"What's that?" asked Bones.
"It's coming from under us!"
"Can't be," I said.
"Yeah," said Bones. "Can't you feel it?"
The sound increased and I felt the vibrations through my feet.
"I'm getting out of here!" said Bones, jumping on his bike and free-wheeling down the road.
"Hang on!" I called.
We wanted to ask Rod about the old house but he didn't come to school for another month. By that time we'd almost forgotten about it.
When he did finally show up again, he looked sicker than ever, and we didn't like to ask him any questions. It was none of our business anyway . . . and besides, if Rod wanted to keep his real address a secret that was up to him.
But there were some other odd things about Rod.
For a start, he never understood any of our jokes. We'd tell him a really funny one and he'd just look at us, as if we were speaking a foreign language. Bones would explain it to him, slowly and carefully, and he'd laugh, but it wasn't a real laugh, like he'd actually "got" the joke.
And there was the way he fiddled with the rings on his hands. It reminded me of someone typing. He'd tap away at them during class, or when he was walking about on the playground (which wasn't very often because physical exercise made him wheeze and puff). I pretended I didn't notice, usually, because it is rude to stare, but some of the other kids weren't so polite.
"Hey, Pimple-face!" they'd say. "You're a shop-lifter, aren't you?"
"Yeah, where'd you nick them from?"