This book is dedicated to: Police Officers, Firefighters, First Responders, Military, and all people who serve our country.

Dear Readers,
If you’ve read the first book of this mystery series, “Malaya’s Backyard Mystery,” then you’re all set to read this second book. If you haven’t read the first book, I encourage you to read it now. I appreciate you wanting to read this series. Enjoy!

-Graycee F. Babb


A knock on the door of the Knotes’ house woke Sally Anders up. “Who or what could that be?” she wondered to herself. Then she heard Mr. Knotes coming down the hallway. It was Wednesday night, two months after Malaya and her friends had put away Sal’s dad, Nathaniel Anders, and two days after his trial, in which he was found guilty of all charges and was sentenced to twenty-five years in the Hope Falls Federal Prison. Still startled, she shook Malaya, who, still deep in sleep, had not heard the knock on the door.

Laya! Laya!” Sal whispered. “Malaya!”

Oh! What? What’s going on?” Malaya said as she was startled from her peaceful sleep.

“I heard a knock on the door.”

“Oh, Sal. It was probably just a drea…”

Rat-tat-tat! She was cut off by the sound of a knock on the door.

“Well, if it is a dream, we must be having the same one,” Sal said sarcastically. Malaya just looked at her, implying, “REALLY?”

“Girls?” Mr. Knotes called from the hallway. “Someone wants to see you.”

“Who is it, Mr. Knotes?” Sal asked in a worried tone.

“You’ll see.” He said in a saddened, grim voice.

Once at the door, an Officer greeted them.

“Hello, Girls. Do you remember me?”

After a moment of thinking, Malaya and Sal replied, “I do.” and “So do I.”

“Miss Anders, I have some news for you, and it’s not so good. There was a breakout a few hours ago. No one was hurt, but your Father, we believe, escaped.

“What?” Sal was in disbelief.

There was a silence that lasted several minutes. Finally, the Officer broke the silence.

“I would like to come back and ask you some questions about your Father. At a more reasonable time, of course. Would that be okay with you?”

“Yes. Officer?”


“When you find him, can I visit him for a while?”

“Yes. Maybe not right away, but yes. At some point and time, you can visit him.”

“Thank you.”

“Good night.”

“Thank you for your service,” Malaya said in a thoughtful and polite voice.

The Police Officer just smiled in thanks as he walked away.

As a man walked into an old mineral jewelry-making factory, he thought to himself, “Those cops were so surprised. I don’t think that they would’ve ever thought that I’d escape them.”
As he walked down the hallway, he continued in his thoughts. “Those pesky kids put me away, but I escaped. And I’m never going back.”

“Nate!” a dark voice boomed. “It’s so good to see you again. Last I heard, you were sentenced to jail because some kids caught you in a backyard.” He laughed.

“They did, but I escaped.” He said proudly with his neck stretched in victory.

“Good. You here for the meeting?”

“Yes, I am. And I have a plan to get those kids.”

Okay. Let’s hear it.”


The next day, Sal looked very sad and down. So, Malaya inquired, “Hey, Sal. Want to make some handprint cookies?”

“Sure.” She said in a sad and lonely tone.

As they made the cookies, Sal got slower and slower until she finally stopped. As soon as Malaya noticed, she wondered aloud, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah. Laya?” she sniffed.


“Have you ever wondered why something had to happen to you? Like…”

“Like when my mom died?”


Now, the crew was very careful about what they said to each other when it came to family or personal problems. They didn’t want to hurt or embarrass one another. So, they were very touchy on what they said, and they thought about what they were going to say before they said it.

“Yes, I did. Do you remember that Sunday before, before that night?”

“Yeah. Why?”

“What were you doing at five forty-five?”


“Well, I was shouting that it wasn’t fair.”

“What wasn’t fair?” Sal inquired, now completely interested; sadness and pain all but forgotten.

“The loss of my mom and the further estranging of my Father and I. But God sent Pastor Colts, and since that Monday, he has been even better than he was before. Sal, what do you think isn’t fair?”

“That my dad went to jail, and that I feel like my dad chose jail over me, his own daughter.”

“Sal, I…”

“No, Malaya. Don’t!” she shouted. “Tell me why it had to be my dad. Why?”

Malaya thought for a moment as she watched Sal begin to cry.

“Because it was his choice.” She said both softly and gently.

They both hugged. By now, Malaya was also in tears. While Sal cried and started to calm down, Malaya said in a gentle, serious voice, “Sal, you’re not alone. I’m here, Dad’s here, and, most importantly, God’s here. He’ll carry you through.”


“Yeah?” she replied as she stroked her hair.

“What would I do without you?”

“Well, you wouldn’t have a BFF.”

“True,” Sal smiled. Then they began to laugh.

At that moment, what they didn’t realize was that outside, someone was listening.


The next morning, the club, or “crew” as they called themselves, were scheduled to meet at eleven o’clock. Once there, Sal and Malaya, being early and, being the first ones there, began to talk.

“Wonder what we’re going to do today.” Sal began.

“I’m guessing that we’re going to be spending the day cleaning and fixing up the clubhouse.”

“Yeah, probably.”

Then, a sound of a branch that had cracked came from outside.

“I hear someone coming,” Malaya said as she walked to the window. She excitedly added, “It’s Will and Ryan.”

“Ooh.. Will’s coming.” Sal teased.

“Really? Anyway, hey! I just had an idea. Let’s hide behind this barrel and scare the boys, well, Ryan.”

“Okay,” Sal said instantly, with a hint of excitement in her tone as well.

Once in position, the boys came inside.

“Guess that were the first ones here,” Will said.


“Boo!” Sal and Malaya shouted in a creepy-like voice.

“Ahhh!” Ryan screamed as he ran behind Will, who had a surprisingly startled expression on his face.

There was laughing as the girls said, “Got you, Guys.”

“Yeah, yeah. Very funny.” Ryan replied as he walked out from behind Will, acting as if he hadn’t been scared at all. Malaya walked over and sat down in her spot. “Meeting come to order,” Malaya said as she took control.

Everyone almost fell as they raced to their spots on the floor.

“What’s going on?” Ryan asked once everyone was sitting down, seeing the gravely serious expression on Malaya’s face.

“Yeah, is everything okay?” Will wondered as well.

“Sal, do you want to tell them, or do you want me to?”

“I… can you tell them?”

Malaya nodded as she began to tell what had happened the previous night.

“We need to keep this between ourselves. But you can tell your parents and ask them to pray and to keep this a secret for now until we can learn more. Last night Nathaniel Anders, Sal’s dad, escaped from jail last night. He didn’t hurt anyone, thankfully.”

“Sal, I’m sorry that you’re, well, having to go through all this,” Will commented.

“Me too.” agreed Ryan.

There was a silence, making the sadness ever worse to choke on.

Finally, Malaya said, “Hey, I just had an idea. What if we find him? Maybe see if we can find clues? Would that be okay, Sal?” Malaya said confidently but gently.

Sal thought for a moment as the gang just stared at her.

“Yes. I’m fine with it.”

“Is it going to bother you any at all?”

“No. I think that I’ll be okay. Really.”
“We’re always here for you. If you start to feel any bad feeling at all, let us know, and we’ll drop the whole thing.”

“You know that, right, Sal?” Ryan asked tenderly.

Sal didn’t say anything but nodded her head.

“Anyone else want to try?” Malaya inquired.

“Sure.” Will agreed.

“Why not?” Ryan agreed, shrugging his shoulders without hesitation.

Everyone just stared at him, and then the little clubhouse was filled with a sound that it had been missing for over two months: laughter. It was full of it.

Nathaniel Anders was making a plan. As he was writing furiously in his notebook, a dark voice, which belonged to a Mr. Sam Wons, boomed out, “And now, I’d like to call up Mr. Nathaniel, Nate, Anders.”

Nathaniel made his way up to the podium, and people began to clap. After putting his notebook on the podium a few minutes later, he raised his hand and motioned for the people to stop clapping. Once the clapping had been devoured by silence, Nathaniel, or Nate, as he often went by, began his speech.

“Friends! it is so good to see all of you again,” the microphone boomed. “I’m sure that all of you out there know or have heard that two months ago, I was arrested for simply camping in a backyard. This happened because some kids found me. I am afraid that if I try this alone again, they will find me once more. I have a plan, but I need a young boy, around twelve years old, and a strong man, about thirty years old, to help me out. Would anyone like to volunteer?”


That night at the Knotes’ house, everyone was struck awake by the sound of glass breaking., “Clash!” Joe ran to see what had happened. In the living room, Joe saw that a window had been broken. He looked down, and two steps away from where he stood lay a rock with a piece of paper tied to it. It was a message which read:


Joe froze as his spine shivered and turned cold to the message.

“Dad? Is everything okay?” Malaya inquired in a shaky tone.

“Everything’s okay, I think.” Joe lied. “Well, everything except the window. I’ll board it up tomorrow and get some help to replace it.”

“What does the paper say?” Sal asked.
“Can we read it?”

Joe realized that he was still holding the note. Not being able to tell them anything different, he replied with a sigh, “Yes. You may read it.”

A moment later, Sal broke the silence. “What does this even mean?”
“I don’t know,” Joe replied disappointedly.

“Dad? Can we keep this note? We, the Crew, are trying to solve another mystery, and I have one of my gut feelings that this has something to do with it, and I…”

“Malaya, I know you and your gut feelings; they usually seem to be true. You may keep the note.” He laughed.

“Thanks, Dad.” Malaya smiled, giggling.

“Now, off to bed, both of you. And I better not hear you laughing and giggling all night.” He said in his silly, grumpy voice as he chased them to their bedroom.

The next day, Malaya and Sally ran to the clubhouse. When they came in, Ryan said, “Well, now look who’s late.”

“We’re not late; you guys were just really early. It’s noon. That’s the time we agreed to meet.” Malaya stated, observing her watch.

“Your watch is an hour slow, Miss Knotes.”

“It is not.”


Once everyone was seated, Malaya took control. “ Meeting come to order. Everyone’s here, so let’s get started. Something happened last night that could help with the mystery.” Malaya pulled out and unfolded a piece of paper from her pocket. “This note, along with a rock, came through my house’s window last night. Everyone may take a turn reading it. Take your time.” Malaya reminded as she handed the note to Ryan.

Fifteen minutes passed as everyone read the note. Finally, Will broke the silence. “What does it mean?”

“Yeah, and what old house?” Sal added.

“Old house! It’s talking about the house on my road!” Malaya exclaimed, making everyone jump out of their skin.

“What are you talking about?” Will inquired, yet again.

“Two houses down from mine is a run-down house. It looks pretty bad, but the foundation is still good from what I’ve seen and heard.”

“Okay, that is figured out. Now the bear.”

“The bear could be a clue, like a dangerous person who escaped from jail!” Ryan thought.

“And that person is quiet as a mouse, like my Dad! Dad is the one who is dangerous. Wow, never thought I’d say that.” Sal added. “And the ‘bullet that will break the window’ is what, a gun threat?”

“If you go into the house.” Ryan reminded.

“Exactly.” Malaya and Will jinxed.

Nathaniel Anders walked through the bedroom into the hallway. He opened the passageway to the attic and walked up the ladder. All there was in that room was a desk with a locked drawer. He opened the lock and pulled out the drawer. Inside were a couple of pistols, some ammunition, and a double pistol holder. He cocked the gun and smiled at the clicking sound that it made. “The bullet will be what breaks the window.” He whispered to himself. Then, he laughed a long, vicious, evil laugh.


The next morning, Malaya and Sally woke up, got dressed, and began to plan the day.

“We need to make a meal plan.” Sally began.

“Okay.” Malaya agreed.

“How about eggs, toast, bacon, and sausage for breakfast, cheese and tomato sandwiches with fries for lunch. Oh, and tomato soup, sautéed veggies and steak.”

“And peach pie for dinner!” they said at the same time. Then they laughed at one another.

Ding-dong! the doorbell rang. Joe, who was drinking his coffee at the time, jumped up and raced Sal and Malaya to the door. Malaya, winning the contest, opened the door. Which, when opened, revealed Will and Ryan.

“Will? Ryan? What are you two doing here?”

“Oh, now I remember!” Joe exclaimed. “I’m sorry, boys, come on in. I guess I was still asleep enough that I forgot. Haven’t finished my coffee yet.” He joked.

“That’s okay, Mr. Knotes. We understand,” Will assured as the boys came in the door.

“Uh, girls, the boys’ parents went out on a vacation together, so Will and Ryan are going to be staying with us for the next week.”

“Okay!” Malaya and Sal shouted with excitement.

Then, when they had made and eaten breakfast and put the dishes away, they went into the game room. While playing, the gang began to talk.

“Any more leads on our mystery?” Will asked, eyes focused on the board.

“Sadly, no. But at least we didn’t get any more ‘glass-busters.’” Sal replied.

“So, all we have figured out is this: the old house has an escaping inmate, most likely Nathaniel Anders, who is quiet as a mouse. And if we go near the house, a bullet will be what breaks the window next, possibly hurting or even killing someone, most likely one of us.”

“Right,” Malaya replied.

A few minutes of intense silence went by as they finished the game.
“Yes! I win!” Malaya said triumphantly.

“Yeah, yeah,” Will replied.

Knock, knock! The door interrupted.

“I’ll get it,” Malaya assured. Once at the door, leaving behind the noise of the foosball table in the game room, she opened the door and recognized the one behind it.

“Good afternoon, Officer. To what do we owe this pleasure?”

“Uh, is Miss Anders available?”

“Yeah!” a shout came from the game room.

Once they turned their heads away from the game room once more, the Officer spoke, “I can come another day if I need to.”

“Oh, no. That won’t be necessary. I’ll go get Sal. Oh, uh, may I get my Father as well?”

“Yes, that would be fine.”

“Okay. Make yourself at home. I’ll be back with some tea and sandwiches, Sal, my Father, and I.”

“Thank you, Miss Knotes.”
Back in the game room, “Uh, boys, do you think you could go outside? Sal, Dad, and I need to talk some things over.”

“Okay. We don’t mind. Come on, Ryan,” Will assured.

After calling her Dad, Sal and Malaya joined the police officer at the table, bringing some tea and sandwiches along. Once joined by Mr. Knotes, the police officer began, “Miss Anders, do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”

“Okay,” Sal replied nervously.


That night, Malaya and Sal talked in bed. “I’m glad that the Officer only asked me to tell him who my Father was hanging out with before this, when the last time I saw him had been, and where he could’ve gone to hide. I…I didn’t want to lie about the note and the old house.”

“I know what you mean, and, well, I was worried too.”


“What…how much trouble will my Dad be in, if they, well, when they, you know, catch him?”

“How honest do you want me to be?”

“Completely.” Sal sighed.

“Okay. I’m guessing, probably a lot.”

There was an awkward silence that seemed to last for hours. It was broken by the sound of their door creaking open. “Hey, y’all awake?” They heard Will whisper.

“Yeah. We’re awake.”

“Come on.”

The girls got up, kind of reluctantly, put on their long button-up dresses, tip-toed out of the door, and followed Will and Ryan down the stairs and out the door.

“Where are we going?” Sal questioned.

“We should explore the old house.” Ryan insisted.

“What about the note, the threat?!”

“It’s gonna happen either way. Now let’s go.” Will replied.

“Okay.” They all agreed.

The crew then walked through the Knotes’ yard and over to the old house.

Nathaniel Anders looked carefully through the window and saw the crew. “I’ll get them.” He said to himself quietly. He then opened the window and began to open fire.

“Watch out!” Will shouted as he saw Nathaniel Anders and the gun in his hand, which was spitting bullets.

The crew scattered into the bushes, which became a good hiding place.

“Who is it that’s shooting?” Sal questioned Malaya.

“It’s your Father, I think. I’m calling Nine-One-One.”

Malaya dialed nine-one-one on the phone, and a sweet, young-sounding lady answered, “Nine-One-One, what can I help you with?”

“Hi, my name is Malaya Knotes. My friends and I are at one-seven-eight Hope Falls Drive. We are in a shooting, and we have visual confirmation that the shooter is the escaped inmate, Nathaniel Anders. No one’s hurt, I believe. We need cop cars right away.”

“Okay, Miss Knotes. Stay where you are; I’m sending the police now.”

“Okay, thank you.”

Click! In about a minute, sirens were heard coming in their direction.

All of a sudden, the bullets stopped coming. The police arrived a few minutes later with an ambulance right behind them. After everyone was checked out and deemed fine, the Officer came up and began to speak.

“Y’all okay?”

“Yes, Sir. We’re fine.” Malaya spoke for the crew.

“We have searched the house. We found the gun, but Nathaniel Anders has, unfortunately, escaped into the woods. We pursued, but it’s hopeless. He’s gone.

“What?!” The Crew exclaimed in shock.

Nathaniel Anders burst with blazing hot fury into Sam Wons’ office. Sam looked up in surprise at Nathaniel as he spoke, “The old plan failed, but I have a new one.”

“Okay, let’s hear it,” Sam said in a startled tone.


I hope that you enjoyed this book. I hope you liked it enough to read the next one. I also hope that you learned what to do in this kind of a situation on your own (and if you already knew, then I hope that you saw this as an exciting reminder). Thank you again for giving both me and this book a chance. Until you read the next one, read this over and over if you liked it. Until we read again, thank you.

Graycee F. Babb