I found Max sitting on my doorstep when I got home after school.
"We have a total n..." My voice trailed off when I saw him. He had been crouching with his head in his hands, and when he looked up, he revealed puffy red eyes.
"Max, what is it?"
"Sean's gone," Max replied grimly.
Sean was Max's little brother. I didn't really understand what was going on.
"What do you mean ‘gone'?"
"Gone as in disappeared. Vanished without a trace. His friends don't even know who Sean McLeod is."
I stared at him blankly as I tried to unlock the front door.
"Look, I know that you think that I'm off my head," Max continued, "But I'm being completely serious. Phone Ben if you don't believe me."
I finally got the door open. "Haven't you considered that this might just be a prank?"
Max stood up to let me in. I picked up the letters and junk mail off the floor and checked on the answer machine for any messages. I searched though the top drawer of the phone table in the hallway.
"I don't think it's a prank. What are you looking for?" Max said.
"This," I produced a battered picture of us all, standing in front of a grass mound. "Look - Me, Pippa, Ben and Wyatt, you and Sean. Proof that your brother does exist and that we haven't all been imagining him!"
Max studied the photograph for a moment.
"Great. I've officially lost it. I suppose I better go and hunt down those little tricksters. See you tomorrow!"
I laughed at him, shoving the photo back into the drawer. He'd reached the bottom of the garden when I called out to him.
"Phone me when you find Sean!"