Why the World’s Population is Only 7.8 Billion

This book is dedicated to my breakfast bagel.


The Dictatorship of America, 3789 A.D.

The following letter has been retrieved from an archive, and is believed to have been written by Jim Nlocnil.

Palermo, Sicily  1915 A.D.


There was a suitcase. There was a bed. What was it doing there?  The bed was the first bed that the legendary bedmaker would make. Now, the bed maker would prefer if his name was not mentioned in this book, though it perplexes me, for he is already quite famous indeed. But from here on out, I will call the legendary bedmaker “Gustavo.” Now Gustavo was not always famous, for he grew up in a humble cottage in an island on the Sardinian sea. This island was called Sicily, and it was quite a magnificent island indeed, for tourism and commercialization had not found the island yet, letting the locals there live a happy life with no one to disturb them. 

Now Gustavo had a father named Monee, who, despite the name, was a very poor bedmaker. One day, Monee stumbled across a stream. He looked into the stream. He then walked away. Another day, he ran into a beautiful untouched beach, and when he put his hand into the pristine crystal waters, it was a pleasant temperature, refreshingly cool, but not uncomfortable. He took off his hat and filled it with the water, and took the hat full of water home. Now Monee was quite a forgetful man, and he forgot to show the fresh pure Water to his family. The next morning, to his surprise, the water was still the same perfect temperature it had been when he first discovered it. He was intrigued, but not frightened by this discovery, for he was still curious about this liquid. He went back to the beach, and, sure enough, the water was exactly the same temperature it had been the afternoon he had found it. Monee’s mind instantly whirred into action, thinking about the possibilities of making this water into a product he could sell.

The first thing I should do, he thought, is tell Gustavo. As soon as Gustavo had heard about this “cool water” he got some leather, sewed together a water tight bed, and filled the bed with the water. And, though Monee and Gustavo did not know it, they had just created the first water bed. Monee saved up his savings, and soon, they patented this water bed, though they did not mention this, for they wanted to keep the water a secret.


Nazi Controlled Poland, 1941

Jakub sighed. He and his best friend, Filip, had made a secret organization for boys like them. They had “special power”, though it was more like a curse. They could do “amazing things” like climb up brick walls and shoot energy from their fingers. This did nothing against the tanks, soldiers, machine guns, and other terrible things that the Nazis used to invade. But because of these “special powers” they were targeted by soldiers, who were ordered to execute any boy who used “magic”. Jakub probably had the worst power of all. He could see and hear through any solid object. What use was seeing a tank when it was about to shoot a shell at you? The other boys were younger than him, but were far more powerful. They respected him, though, for he was the leader. 

“Quick!” Filip screamed. 

The soldiers! Jakub and the other boys dove behind a bush as Filip started making hand signs to release an energy shield. Another boy closed his eyes and opened them, although this time his eyes were red. He looked at a soldier and instantly paralyzed him. 

“Jakub, help! My shield is going down!” Filip screamed. 

Filip only had enough energy to sustain the energy shield for a few minutes, but that, until then, had been plenty enough time. It seemed that the soldiers heard Filip too, because they instantly rushed his way.

 “No!” Jakub yelled.

They had Filip. Without his shield, he was helpless, and one of them was dragging Filip onto the jeep while the other one held a rifle to his head. 

“You can’t do this!” Jakub screamed.

By then, the jeep had driven off to the forest, and the only person who could see and hear Filip was Jakub. The last words that Filip uttered before he passed out were “under the bench.”

Palermo, Sicily  1924 A.D.


Meanwhile, Gustavo and Monee were raking in the profits from their successful bed making business. The beach still looked untouched, and Monee suspected, though they had drained many gallons of liquid from it, that the beach would still make more.

“Gustavo,” Monee said “when I die, you have the choice to lead the company. Will you continue the family legacy?”

“Of course I will!” Gustavo exclaimed. “but I hope that I do not take it over soon.”

Kepler-443b, circa 5.55 billion years ago

“Rumor has it that there is a habitable planet only 2,500 light years away!” Bob said. 

Bob and his family lived on a planet called Logic, and it was about to explode. It was rumbling violently, and they needed to get off it as soon as possible.They first considered moving to the puny moon, Ableton, or the dwarf planet, FL Studio, which was circa 600 light years away. But they then discovered that the planet would make such a shockwave that all of the habitable planets and moons would be terminated. The scientists of their colony searched desperately for a habitable planet, and it seemed that they had found one. 

 “Quick!!!” Martha (the mother) screamed. “The spaceship is going in 10 minutes!!!”

“Okay, mom. My UltraBomb is not going with me, right?” Tommy said.

“Of course it is! Now come on!” Martha said.

The UltraBomb was a safety device that some scientists had discovered in the period of renaissance. They had discovered many things, but this UltraBomb was by far the coolest. A child, if threatened, could deploy this UltraBomb and Vaporize every living thing except itself for a 1,000 mile radius. To trigger it, you needed to pour a special type of liquid onto a compressed plasma ball. It would then kill everything around it except for the child itself. The Logic government issued UltraBombs to every kid colonizing on earth, but they were strictly told to only use it if necessary. Tommy thought they went overboard on the liquid, though. They brought more than a thousand gallons!!!

“Watch your step, little guy.”, a crew member said.

Tommy sat down in his seat and prepared himself for this new adventure.

The Dictatorship of America, 3789 A.D.

The following snippet has been retrieved from an archive, and is believed to have been an advertisement from “Palermo Daily”.

Palermo, Sicily  1956 A.D.


Gustavo flopped down on one of his many waterbeds and cried. His father had died the day before today, and he was sad. Even worse, he had to give a speech at the funeral, and his words were unrecognizable from his sobs. But he had to move on, and keep the family legacy.

One month later

Stress. SO much stress. Gustavo had reformed the waterbed, spreading business outside of Sicily, and it was spreading quickly. He had also put advertisements in newspapers all around the world, and his company had gone public. (NASDAQ, GWB ^1.27%,1598.7) The Mariott had replaced all of their beds with Gustavo’s, and his business was doing well. Gustavo was having a good life.


Nazi Controlled Poland, 1942

Under the bench, under  the bench, under the bench. Jakub kept rolling this around in his head. What? He had checked under every bench he had seen for the past year. Unless… The stone bench!!! Filip had chiseled a miniature stone bench for Jakub, but before he could snatch it, Filip had thrown it way off into the woods to tease Jakub. Jakub thought that Filip had thrown it in a random direction, but Filip was very precise with his arm, so Jakub now knew that was not the case. Jakub searched for hours and hours in the dark woods, when he found the bench. He dug the soil under it, and found a mysterious ball of light.

Suitcase & Bed

Warsaw, Poland, Marriott hotel, 1963

Filip was dead. Who cared about him anyways? Jakub had been trying to sell this weird ball of light to museums, but they said it was just some lights in a glass ball. He slammed the suitcase (containing the ball) onto the bed. The waterbed bursted, and the suitcase cracked open. The ball bounced out and fell into the liquid.

The Dictatorship of America, 3789 A.D.

The following letter has been retrieved from an archive, and is now known to have been written by “Zadinsky”.

A Day of Inspiration

A normal day, a nature hike

I grab those shoes I really like

And stroll on down the wooded trail

But then I hear a child yell

I look and see a big old fight

He stomps, the noise echoes through the night

I kick a pinecone, ignoring them

And look at the leaves, the flowers, the berries, but then

Somehow they reach a compromise

That parent must be really wise

I head back home, play with some slime

But oh my gosh! Look at the time!

I have to do my online work

Though I really just want to read a book

I turn on my lamp, head to my desk

And find some room among the mess

Then type and type, think and think

My patience finally reaching its brink

I shut the computer, text the guys

And think about that compromise

The child wanted to follow their dreams

At first the parent thought that seemed 

Silly, but eventually agreed

Everyone should voice what they need

I want to do something else

Not put my dreams up on a shelf!

I open my computer and type

And though it takes much grim and gripe

I’m now a published author, yes

And though I may not be the best

I’m doing what I love to do

It worked for me, and it will for you.

Ultraviolet & Infrared



Is so violent,

That I well can see,

Why it’s meant to be:

To burn and harm,

And scorch my arm,

In its bright, bright, light.



Is a dread,

Because it’s invisible,

And I wish it were visible,

But there are reasons,

Like the seasons,

Why it shouldn’t be seen,

Because its gleam (A bright red beam),

Is too bright for us to handle.


Book 1: Zero 

Chapter 1: A Day with Zero

You are an ORDINARY cat, I pretend to say to myself, but it is untrue. First of all, lots of people say I am different. Name is Zero, by the way. Also, the other reason I am unordinary is since, well, since I have an eye on the back of my head! Luckily, my family does not care and loves me so, but I have no friends and am always bored. My family says I am unique and that looks do not matter, only traits do, but then why can I have no friends? I believe them but then why does no cat even try to see my traits?! 

By the way, today is my first day at school! I am scared, will everyone judge me by my looks? I am lucky to be able to convince Mom to have the first day off of school. My mom notices at about the middle of the day that I’m bored. Suddenly, or unexpectedly, her eyes light up and she is out of the door in a flash. A bit later, she returns with a dog, a dog with an extra leg. 

“Why did you get me a dog to be friends with?” I ask.

“Well,” says Mom, “you both are… ” She does not end. I then say, “Un-ordinary.”

 And she nods as the dog walks toward me. I walk back, you know all cats are scared of dogs. He sees my fear and says, “I know you are freaked about my extra leg.”

“That’s not it,” I say, trembling with fear. “It is that dogs chase cats.”

“Well I will not chase you… ” 

I interrupt and say, “You want to be my friend.”

He smiles and says, “You are the first to ask.”

I am about to shake hands then I say, “Wait,” and pull him and hit him and he is as hard as metal, he is a robot, no wonder he does not chase. 

Well Mom has bought Zero a robot to make him happy.

So I stare sternly at Mom and then walk to my bed, curl up, and go to sleep.

Chapter ½: Intro chapter (You can skip this chapter):

I sleep for 15 hours a day, I love to eat catnip. Cats are related to jaguars, lions, tigers, and lots more. Also I (the author, not Zero this time) would get a tuxedo cat and name him Oreo. The scientific name for cats is Felis Catus. Cats can rotate their ears 180 degrees. By the way, most cats sleep 70% of their life but Zero sleeps 47% of his life. Zero says (this is a true fact) that the first cat in space was in 1963. His name was Felicette (also known as Astro Cat) and he was the first and only cat in space. That is all of Zero’s facts for now. 

Traits of cats are different. Like Zero is smart and playful, but some say Zero is a ferocious feline. He is misunderstood and he is a nice cat, so no two cats are the same, and remember that do not judge a cat by their look. Remember that!!! This picture is illustrated for you to show Zero’s very kind loving heart.

Chapter 2: The Adventure Begins

Zero awoke to a fresh new day, feeling ready for anything. 

I was so ready to eat but then my eye on the back of me spotted Mom talking of my favorite toy missing! I was angry!!! I turned on the cat news and heard that there was an ancient mouse toy called mousie mousie in the ruins of the royal cat family in Carterwui which was a royal village in the Cat-skills mountain. YES!!! There was still a mousie left and no!!!! Because the adventure would definitely be rough. 

So I packed my stuff and set off to climb Cat-skills mountain. As you know, cats are great climbers, so I was able to get up pretty easily but I got chased by a goat then I chased him since I was hungry. Just a distraction, a little embarrassed and everything, but at least I managed so let’s get back on track. On the top lay ruins and the wind smelled like burnt catnip as I passed a destroyed field with beautiful destroyed catnips. 

Then I heard a crunch and I noticed my feet had not broken any twigs, then suddenly, the eye on the back of me saw a dog. I spun around knowing my unusual feature saved me. Now I know that different can be good; the dog instantly started chasing me the moment it caught a glimpse of me. I ran down the whole mountain in a flash and right into our home. The dog faded away like a dream right when I touched the door of our house, like the world was just teaching me how different can be good, so from now on I teach UN-ORDINARY animals to show them how unusual is good

The End.

Monster and Mushroom: A New Beginning

There once was a monster who lived in the woods. We’ll call him Monster. What Monster really wanted was a house, but he was just too shy to go to the house seller. Monster wanted a house because he lives in the woods. But why was Monster so shy? Maybe because he lived in the woods so long that fungus grew on his toes, moss on his back, and a mushroom on his nose, and he was scared to show his face in public. Or maybe he needed a friend to encourage him. Anyway, onto the story!

Monster sat on his stump, wondering if he would go to the house seller today. No, I can’t! They’ll tease my mushroom nose! He thought. Sigh. So then Monster gathered up all his courage (he didn’t have that much) and he went over to the gate to the human world. When he got to the gate, he felt something under his foot. He picked it up in his giant fingers. It was a glass bottle, with glowing liquid inside! Great, this liquid might make me less shy! Monster thought with a smile. So he went back to his cave and placed the liquid on his stump table. Tomorrow, Monster thought, I will be social.

The next day, Monster woke up with a jolt. He was so excited to drink the pink liquid! He was shaking with excitement! And maybe also fear. Monster went to the kitchen of his cave and popped the top off the bottle. He went to drink it, hand quivering. Just as he had it up to his mouth and went to take a sip, a crow flew into the window and cawed. Monster’s hand shook so that all the liquid spilled onto the mushroom on his nose! No! The liquid! Now Monster couldn’t be social! Monster sighed. He went back into his moss-bed and fell into a deep sleep. He dreamed of wizards and dancing mushrooms. Then he woke up. Phew, just a dream, Monster thought. He got up and went to the river to get the extra pink juice off his nose. When he looked at his reflection in the river, he didn’t see anything missing at first, but then he noticed it. His face went pale. His nose mushroom was gone.

Monster kept touching the spot where the once red-with-white-spots mushroom was. Then the water rippled. Probably one of those birds, Monster thought. He looked up to shoo it away, and saw the most unbelievable thing. His nose mushroom. “Mushroom?” he said to the mushroom. Then, like it was alive, the mushroom jerked its cap up and hopped away. Luckily, Monster was faster. He caught the mushroom in his big hands and took it back to his cave. Hmm, Monster thought, I can have a big meal if I cook him! So then Monster decided to tie the mushroom up and cook him over a fire. Then Monster went out to get some berries as an appetizer. But then something poked his butt. Monster spun around, ready to attack, but it was the mushroom! He touched Mushroom’s cap and she hopped around playfully. Then Monster felt a pang of guilt. He tried to cook Mushroom, just so he could eat. No, he would not feel sad for this mushroom. Monster would just ignore it. Monster marched back to his cave. Mushroom followed. “Just leave me alone, ya dirty mushroom!” Monster shouted at the mushroom. Mushroom hopped away sadly. Great, Monster thought sarcastically, now I have nothing to eat. Monster saw Mushroom peek around the corner of his cave. “I told you, GET OUT!” Monster roared at Mushroom. Mushroom hopped closer. Monster got madder and madder. He roared at Mushroom, then Mushroom started hopping away, quickly. Monster dropped down on all fours and chased him. They were nearing the cliff. Perfect. Monster thought. Then right when Mushroom was about to fall off the cliff, she doubled back. Monster fell off the side and was being held only by a branch that was growing out of the cliff. Then, crack, the branch broke. Monster closed his eyes and braced for the fall onto the sharp, jagged rocks below. But when he landed on something, it didn’t perce his skin. It was bouncy. It was Mushroom! Monster bounced back up to the cliffside, and somehow, he found Mushroom there. Mushroom was magical! Monster reached out and touched Mushroom’s cap. It was soft as silk. Then together, they went and got food so they could have a decent meal.

The next day, Mushroom jumped up and down on Monster, urging him to get up. “What? I’m up,” Monster groaned. Mushroom had something on her cap. She slid it over to Monster. It was a small book. Then Mushroom slid over a black stick. Monster picked it up. It was shiny. He opened the book and put the strong black stick onto the paper and slid it around. Wherever the stick went, it made a line. Mushroom took the pen from Monster and used magic to write three letters: pen. “Is that what the stick is called? A p-pe-pehn?” Monster asked, sounding out the word. Mushroom jumped up and down. Monster took that as a yes. But why would Mushroom give me these magical objects? Monster thought. Then it hit him. He could draw a house! Then show it to the house seller because the humans spoke a different language! “Thank you, Mushroom!” Monster exclaimed.

Mushroom jumped around in response, as if to say, “You’re welcome.”

Monster drew a house, with a tall roof. It took him three hours, but he finished eventually. Here is what he did:

Monster took the paper and Mushroom followed. Monster walked over to the human world gate, his heart thumping. Ba bump, ba bump. Mushroom followed him, her hopping making little sound on the damp moss. Slowly, Monster opened the gate. Creeeeeak, it went. Monster stepped through the gate and into the portal. It felt like he was being stretched out and cut up, then being put back together. Mushroom followed, having the same experience. Then the feeling started to slow down, and Monster got plopped down on land. Mushroom bumped on Monster’s leg being shot out. Monster looked down at Mushroom, she was jumping around like crazy. “Calm down, Mushroom. I’m excited too,” Monster said calmingly. Mushroom slowed down. She tilted her cap up at him. Monster got filled up with hope. Monster strided over to the house seller, not noticing the stares from the people around him. He gathered up all his courage (he had a lot) and, with a shaking hand, he handed the house seller the picture. A crow flew onto the fence behind the house seller. It cawed. Monster shooed it away. “You don’t scare me,” Monster hissed at the crow. The house seller understood the drawing. He said something quickly in human and started walking to a giant metal container on black tree stumps. It looked like this:

The house seller walked inside and took out what Monster knew as a “unicycle.” Then the house seller hopped on his unicycle and started moving. He gestured for Monster and Mushroom to follow. Monster picked up Mushroom in his giant hands so she wouldn’t slow them down. Monster followed the house seller until they made it to a giant house. Monster put Mushroom down and walked inside. The ceilings were 4 feet above his head! Great! There was a black box, too. The house seller walked inside and picked up a shiny, black piece of bark. But it wasn’t bark, and the box wasn’t a box. “Television. Tv,” the house seller said, pointing to the box. Monster repeated, 

“Tellyvision. Tv.” 

The house seller pointed to the shiny bark. “Remote,” he said. 

Monster repeated again, “Reemote.”

 The house seller shrugged and mumbled something in human. It sounded like “cloz enuf.” Monster ignored it. He said in the closest human he could put on, 

“Mi wan hous.” The house seller put a sign outside that said with bold red letters “SOLD.” Monster knew that the house was his. 

“WOOHOO, Mushroom!” Monster exclaimed, and he started dancing. Mushroom started dancing too. They danced for hours together, then went inside to enjoy their new life.


Monster sank back into his chair. He tried to press the tiny buttons on the reemote, but his fingers were too big. “Mushroom? Can you help me press the reemote buttons?” Monster called. Mushroom angrily hopped in the tv room. She was levitating a toothbrush with half-used toothpaste on it. “Mu — what? Why are you using a toothbrush? You don’t even have teeth!” Monster exclaimed. Mushroom angrily hopped over and pressed the “on” button for the tv. As she hopped back to the wetroom (we know this as a bathroom), Monster saw on the back of her cap she had used toothpaste all over it. Then Monster had an idea. He went to the feedingroom and took a prong-tip. Then he took it back to the tv room. He used the holding-side to press the reemote buttons, and the prongs to brush through his fur. Monster leaned back in his chair and sighed. He lived an amazing life now.

Age of i 2: The tournament of drama


Narrator: Before we get into this book, I have to warn you: the following stuff contains things that you won’t understand unless you read the last book, so now… LET’S GO! 

The golem fell down to the floor and split back to the ice cream, and in the middle of the ice cream was a note. Henry read the note, and it said, “Come to the Tournament of Drama, because if you do, the prize is a VERY rare gem that is PRICELESS, but if you don’t win, well, let’s save that for if you lose.” 

Henry read the note again then showed the note to his friends then asked, “What do you think of the note?”

“I say we should do it!” Ben said excitedly.

“Okay,” said Quincy.

“Well, okay, let’s do it. The note says to meet at the docks at 10:00 PM,” said Henry. “It also says only bring one weapon each.” 

The friends agreed that the weapons they were bringing were going to be sporks. Later, when the friends were at the docks, they saw that they had competition. Almost everyone there looked like they had trained for months. “Oh, oh, no, no,” said Ben. Then, a boat pulled over at the side of the docks. It was time. 

“Welcome to the Tournament of Drama’s transportation. Once we arrive, you will see a GIANT building. Once you see that, you will immediately enter OR ELSE. When they arrived, the kids saw the building, then the guy said, 

“By the way, my name is Clouse.” As told, the kids went into the building. When they got in, Clouse said, “that over there is Master Chen. He is the host of the tournament. Every day at 4:00 PM, he will tell who will fight and who will watch. This will continue until the final two, then the final two will compete in a fight to declare the winner. Also, use it or lose it.”

“Um, I would rather — ” continued Henry. Then, Clouse walked to the next competitor. Soon after, Master Chen came and said,

“Attention everyone, this is the ice cream duo. You will be competing against them. If you win, you stay.”

“What if you lose?” asked Quincy.

“Lose? Who here likes to lose?” Everyone laughed except Quincy. 

The Next Day… 

At lunch, Chen came to the cafe and said, “The person competing is… QUINCY.”  

“Uh oh,” said Henry.

“Everyone else, follow Clouse. Quincy, follow moi.” 

When everyone was at the battlefield, Chen said, “Please welcome our guests: Quincy and the ice cream duo.” 

The crowd cheered. “Three… two… one… BATTLE BEGIN!” 

As soon as Chen said that, the ice cream duo bolted down the battlefield to Quincy and made an ice cream sword and swung it at Quincy. Then Quincy, almost without thinking, dodged the ice cream duo’s swing, but they swung again and this time, HIT!! Quincy was frozen. 

“OUT!” screamed Chen. Then, Chen pushed a button on his chair and a big ditch opened beneath Quincy and he fell in, then the top of the ditch closed. 

“D-Did you just trap him?!?!” screamed Ben. 

“Uhhhhhhhhhhh, d-don’t change the subject,” said Chen.

Later, in Ben’s room: 

“I’m starting to get sus about Chen,” said Ben. 

“Why?” asked Henry.

“Because Quincy got sus about him and now he is gone.” 

“Good point,” said Henry. “Okay, tomorrow we are going to investigate this place.”


Warning: the stuff in this chapter might be too creepy for some people. If you are 6 or under, skip to the next chapter.

It was the next night, and Henry and Ben were outside of the building. The building looked like a mansion-sized temple that would be built in China or Korea. 

“Nothing sus on the outside,” said Ben. 

“Let’s search your room,” said Henry. But then…  in the darkness, a pair of HUGE eyes appeared and then, an even bigger smile appeared that went above the eyes, then very skinny arms and legs that were black appeared, and then, the thing stepped out of the darkness. It was very tall, well at least it’s armz ‘n legz were. 


Henry screamed at the top of his lunges then, the black figure started spazzing out Allowing Henry and Ben to escape.

Later, in Ben’s Room: 

“So, that was bad,” Henry said, then continued. “We need to think of something else.” 

Ben walked over to his bed and he laid against it, then the bed flipped, putting Ben in an underground passage. “WABAWIDAANDA!” Henry said, then passed out. 

“Where am I?” Ben asked himself.


All contestants had been defeated except Henry and Ben and it was time for…

THE FINAL MATCH: where Ben and Henry were going to battle each other.


Well, at least he tried to whisper. Then Chen said, 

“Let the final battle BEGIN!” 

*Birds Chirping* 


Then Ben said, “Actually, I forfeit the tournament.” 

Then, Chen said, “Oh, ok, then Henry wins the Tournament of Drama!!!”

But Henry noticed something and said, “Wait a minute, didn’t Ben fall in a hole?” 

“Yes,” Ben said. 

Then Henry continued, “But I never remember you getting out.” 

Then Ben said, “Well, you see, Henry, Ben actually never did get out of the hole. But…  I’M NOT BEN.”  

Then, he started to get taller and turn black. It was the black creature! Then, the black creature stayed perfectly still, then Chen said, “You see, only one can remain, AND THAT WILL BE ME.” Then, Henry said,

“Okay, everyone saw that coming.” 

Then Henry ran to the hole and jumped in it, and Ben was there. “WE HAVE TO RUN, BEN.”  


Soon, Zombie ice cream started flooding the walls. Then, one touched the black creature. Then, the black stuff on the creature started to disappear and it started to get smaller. Then there was an explosion of black and no one could see anything. Then Ben and Henry looked where the black creature was, and in its position, lying on the ground, was Quincy. 

When Henry looked down and saw Quincy in the black creature’s position, he went ballistic. Then Ben grabbed Henry and Quincy and ran to the end of the hole, then Ben saw light coming from the end of the hole, he jumped into the light and then he appeared in the treehouse. Then Ben looked to the side. What he saw was Henry passed out, but next to Henry there was a pink gem, and a note. 

Ben took the Pink Gem and read the note, the note said, ‘The Pink Gem is one of the five gems that stop the zombie ice cream from appearing, if you collect all of the gems and put them in a line on top of the warehouse, then all of the zombie ice cream will stop appearing and all of the living ones would disappear. The next gem you have to collect is the Red Gem, the Red Gem is on top of the mountains in Asia. Once you find the Red Gem, a note will be attached to it saying where the next gem’s location is.” At the bottom of the note, it said, “Written by… ” but there was no name next to it. 

Then Ben took the Pink Gem and put it in a chest in the treehouse. Then Henry woke up. Henry yelled, “Why are we back at the treehouse!?” Then he continued, “AND WHY IS THERE A PINK GEM IN OUR CHEST?!?!?”

“Wellllllllll…. ”


Lenmonoral Academy Part One

Chapter 1 


Amber Flickspell wasn’t a normal girl. For one, she was twelve, and knew how to fly a helicopter, and at the moment, she was lying in her bed, staring at the ceiling and trying to freeze it. “Falendor,” she muttered. “Falendor, Falendor!” Frustrated, Amber turned over and punched her pillow. 

“Amber, dinner is ready! Come set the table!” She heard her father’s voice downstairs, calling her.  

“Coming!” she said, walking out of her room. 


“So, Amber, been practicing your magic lately?” Amber’s father asked her. His fire dragon, Flamelick, lay curled up in his corner, fast asleep. Amber took one longing look at him, then answered her father’s question.  “Yes.”

“And?” he asked.

“Nothing,” she sighed.

“Well, I’m sure it will come when it needs to, honey,” he said reassuringly.  

“But it also might never come — ”

“ — that’s enough, Sebastian,” he scolded. Sebastian, her younger brother, gave a mischievous grin and started eating his chicken.  But Amber didn’t feel magic churning inside her. What if — her stomach twisted even thinking it — what if she had no magic?


Amber weaved her way through the garden, brushing a fern off her leg, and stopped in a small clearing. A few trees dappled the sky, their leaves dancing in the wind. On the ground, there were many plants of a variety of colors. There was nightshade kennel, that was dark blue with a purple stem, burning flamcor, red, yellow, and orange, and countless others. But she walked up to the one in the middle, the most exquisite plant in the clearing. Each stem was either green, blue, purple, red, or black, and they all faded into a creamy, colorful white at the bottom. After that pair of colors, there was another, this time fading from white to a color. And it went on and on and on until it got to the middle, where a stem grew out, and at the top, a sparkling light came out of it. The light was made of tiny particles of —

Fairy dust, Amber thought. She moved her hand through it, remembering when it had finally grown to its fullest height, back when her mother was alive. She remembered it all. “Look, Mom, look!” she had said. Her mother had looked up from her book and smiled, then walked over. 

“Amber, that’s fairy dust. Even just a portion of it can make you do anything.” 

“Anything? Mom, that sounds like just a few things to me.” Her mother had turned her head towards the sky and laughed. When she laughed, everything felt better again. She could make Amber feel better, even in the darkest times.  Her mother had faced her and said, 

“Well, not everything, but it can make you fly, or shrink. That’s something, isn’t it?” Amber had turned wide-eyed and looked at the plant. 

“Are you sure that something as small as this could make you FLY?” 

“Yes, Amber, I’m positive. Do you know why fairy dust is so powerful?” she had asked. 

“No, why?” 

“Fairy dust is made with bravery and compassion. Those are the most powerful elements.” Amber’s eyes welled with tears. She searched her brain for her earliest memory of her mother, but all she could remember was cool blond hair resting on her face and arms embracing her. She sucked in breath, but it was no use. Drops of water slowly slid down her cheeks. She wiped them on her cloak, and trudged back up to the house, leaves crunching beneath her feet.

Chapter 2

What they wonder and what they know

“We have granted her the gift,” the first one said, “but she shines a little brighter than the rest. Why is that?” 

“She is the one. The weight of the world rests on her shoulders. She must save us all,” the second one murmured. The wise one looked up and said, 

“Yes, I agree, she is the one. She will not only have to save us all, she will have to defeat the one who has never been defeated. She has to find the thing that has never been found, and survive the place that has never been survived.” The first one looked questioningly at the wise one. 

“But one from her heritage has been stolen by the wicked-souled, the one that has never been defeated. Why take her into the battle, too?” The wise one looked on.

 “She will not be taken into the battle, she will be the one to end the battle.” The second one quietly said, 

“Yes… yes… I see it. She will be the one. She is the one. But she needs to know that she is the one. How do we tell her?” 

“We don’t,” the wise one said, 

“We have to watch. We do not help her. She will have help every step of the way, she just won’t know it.”     

Chapter 3

The seer tree’s advice

Amber shivered in the cold night air.  She was outside, wearing her blue-and-purple swirl cloak, standing in front of a towering oak tree. But this wasn’t any normal tree. This was the seer tree, the tree that could see the future. She took a deep breath, then knocked three times on the ancient oak. It grunted, then opened one eye. It looked down and saw Amber.

“I’m sorry to have woken — ” But she was cut short by the tree, its wide mouth split into a smile and it bellowed, 

“Amber!  How are you, and what brings you here?”

Amber opened her mouth to speak, but no words came out. Instead, she thought it. She knew better than anyone that the seer tree could read minds.

“Ah,” it said wisely, “you are wondering whether you have powers or not.” She nodded. “Well… well. Let me see here. Yes, that one,” it muttered, scavenging through its leaves. “You are unaware of it, Amber? Of the sensation that the sun is cold, the moon warm?”

Amber thought. Now that the tree mentioned it, Amber had seemed cold on that sunny day they went to the park to exercise the dragons, and when they were catching fish from the pond. “I have,” she said with confidence in her voice.

“Well,” the seer tree said, “if you have magical powers, you will get them in the next three days.” Amber’s heart soared. She was very sure that the tree had seen her magic happen! In the future, of course. She turned and ran home, and the last words she heard the tree yell were, “And don’t try too hard! You’ll get an opportunity soon!”


The next morning, Amber got up before the sun rose and went out. She felt hot, which she took as a good sign and took off her cloak. She had taken several deep breaths when she heard footsteps. She felt a little spooked as her father never got up this early, but nonetheless, she tiptoed curiously around the house into the backyard. She followed the sound of the footsteps into the garden where she stopped. She saw someone pulling plants out of the ground, one by one, stowing each one into their satchel. Amber stood, horrified for one second, then without thinking, lunged herself at the figure, knocking them to the ground. “Stop!” she cried, but no sound came out. She had lost her voice. The figure was sucking her in… grasping her soul, tugging it. Sweat trickled down her face. She was falling in… in… Amber bolted upright in her bed, looking around. “Just a dream,” she thought. “Just a dream.”


But as much as Amber hated the dream, it followed her out of bed, down the stairs, and into the kitchen. She sat down at her chair, as usual, and heard Sebastion whine that it was his chair, as usual. Her father scolded him, as usual. But, it felt… unusual. When she told him this, he stole an excited glance at Flamelick, then asked her the thing she least expected.

“Amber, are you having… strange dreams?” 

She looked up, startled.

“Yes,” she said, pushing her long, raven-black hair out of her face. He gasped and asked, 


“Last night,” she explained, starting with her being outside at night. When she ended, Sebastian let out a squeak of terror and ran to his room. However, her father’s face split into a wide smile as he said, 

“Amber, those dreams are called terror dreams. They’re there to mark the start of your powers. They stay with you for four months at the most, and three weeks at the least. The normal time to lose them is around two months, but the earlier they leave you, the more powerful you will get.” He paused and went on, “I myself only had the dreams for about a month and a half, and your — your mother had them for about five weeks.” He pushed back tears.

“But are the dreams always the same?” Amber asked. 

“A little bit is added on each time,” he said. 

“Oh, no!” she groaned. “That dream alone is bad enough!” 

Her father smiled weakly at her as if to say, “There’s nothing we can do about it.” 

“Well, Amber, this might actually be a good sign!” 

“How can a nightmare be a GOOD sign?!” she exclaimed.

“This is not a nightmare. This is a terror dream,” he said. “And with terror dreams come powers.” Amber gasped. “And with powers come this.” He used his finger to indicate his ear, which was pointed at the top. She gasped again. 

“I’m an elf?”

“That you are. And elves go to academies,” he said.

“I’m… I’m… going to… Lenmonoral Academy?” she breathed. 

“Yes, Amber you are going to Lenmonoral Academy!” 


Amber heaved her trunk down the last step, collapsing the moment it hit the ground. Panting, she sat up and looked at her father.

  “Need a hand?” he asked. 

“No… I’m… perfectly fine…” she panted. “Fine… yes, I need help.” He grabbed the trunk and heaved, dragging it behind him. 

“What did you pack in here?” he said, exasperated. 

“Everything you told me to pack,” Amber said casually, her green eyes sparkling in the sunlight. 

“Well, either I told you to pack too much, or you packed a few extra things,” he said. “My guess is that you packed a few extra things.” 

“Well, if you think that, then you’re wrong, because the only extra things I packed are my flying boots, and an extra book,” she argued. 

“Fine, fine, let’s just make it out the door, and then we can talk about it.” Flamelick scampered over to her and nuzzled her cheek. 

“I’ll be all right, Flamelick, don’t worry.” She held out her hand. Flamelick nibbled her fingers. She giggled.

 “Okay, Flamelick, don’t worry, it’ll be fine.” She turned, and followed her father out the door.


Amber clambered inside the Ottonoski (an Ottonoski is a flying otter/elephant), excitement coursing through her. She had only been in an Ottonoski once, when she was seven and had broken her arm, and they had needed quick transportation. But she wasn’t excited about riding an Ottonoski. She was excited about the reason she was riding it. An Eloker flight attendant, a man with light blond hair, brown eyes, and a mustache, stepped up to her and said, 

“Hello. My name is Charlie Egnol, and I will be your assistant for today’s trip. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask. I will be in sector A-56 if you need me.” 

“Wait,” Amber said curiously as Charlie started to board. “There are different sectors in an Ottonoski?” 

He climbed down the steps and said, 

“Well, this one here is a big one, so, yes, Eurora has different sectors.” 

“Eurora?” she asked. 

“That’s the name of this particular Ottonoski,” he answered casually. 

“Oh.” Amber climbed inside Eurora, and looked around. The room itself was giant, with squashy pillows circling around it, and in the middle, a chair that could turn itself into a bed and a tray with water, a sandwich, and some fruit. The air smelled moist, and the whole room had a pink tinge to it. It was then that she noticed the doors, camouflage into the wall, leading to what she guessed were different sectors. 

“Well, I’d best be off now!” Charlie said cheerfully. He walked toward a door labeled,  “Work sectors, A-11 through A-73.” But just as he reached the door, a sound mixed with a very loud snore and high-pitched music rang out, and then the ground felt as if it were lowering at high speed beneath her feet. When she looked down, she realized that that was exactly what was happening. Then — BOING! Amber was bounced up, as if she were on a trampoline. But, unlike being on a trampoline, she didn’t come down. She felt the floor lower — without her. She looked over at Charlie in horror, but he looked as if he got bounced up by an Ottonoski and didn’t come down every day. Casually, he patted the wall and said (or, rather, yelled),

 “Eurora! Drop!” 

Amber felt the ground bounce back up to the right height, and, heart pounding in her ears, turned to him. 

“What,” she said furiously, “just happened?”

 Charlie answered by saying simply, “She just breathed.” 

“Oh, that makes sense, now I understand,” she said hotly. He turned to face her. 

“Ottonoskis don’t need to breathe. Air gets attracted to the small holes in their tail, and that’s how they get it into their body. However, they can breathe, and Eurora just did. You just felt what happens inside their body when they do,” he said, opening the door and walking inside. 


Many hours had passed. Amber had drunk many glasses of cold water (a water elf kept refilling it), and Eurora kept doing loop-the-loops in the air, making her feel sick. An earth elf had come by once asking her if she needed anything. 

“No,” she had said. “But I have a question: how do you get up to Eurora’s Olwanxes?” (An Olwanx is a little bump on an Ottonoski. There are usually about twenty-seven of them.) He had made a ladder made out of plants, and then left. Aside from the water, fire, and wind elves that came by, Amber was alone with her thoughts. She started doodling a picture of what she imagined Lenmonoral Academy would look like, when Eurora did another loop-the-loop, causing her to smash into the wall face-first. Sitting up and rubbing her bruised cheek, she started on another page. She drew a castle, with blue gates and many towers. There was a pathway made of cobblestone, and carriages were coming up that road. Halfway through drawing a third carriage, though, she fell asleep. When she woke up, she thought,  Maybe Charlie can do something about how hot it is. She went through the door labeled: work sectors A-11 through A-73, looked for sector A-56, and, once she found it, opened the door. It was a replica of the room she had just been in, but smaller, and it had a desk with a computer. But no Charlie. She looked around. “Charlie?” she said timidly. but there was no doubt about it; Charlie wasn’t in this room.


Amber had gone back to the main room, and opened Eurora’s Olwanxes. She popped her head out of one of them and gasped. Not only was the wind cool, but the sky didn’t have a single cloud in sight, and when she looked down, she realized that she was flying over a sea of green trees, colorful plants, and every type of bird she could imagine. But, at that moment, Eurora did a loop-the-loop and it was all Amber could do to hold herself in the hump. She was climbing down when she heard a voice behind her. The voice said,

 “I would stay in the hump if I were you. There are big winds in the Clonerlech lands.” Amber fell down the rest of the ladder, startled. A face appeared above her. It was a boy, and he didn’t look too much older than Amber. He looked about sixteen. 

“We’re in the Clonerlech lands?” she asked. 

“Yes,” he said, “we are currently flying over Berrinor forest. My name is Thomas. I’m helping Charlie around the place. I suspect you’ve already met him?” 

“Yeah,” she said, “but I don’t know where he is.” 

Thomas looked curiously at her. 

“What do you mean? He’s in sector A-56.”

 “No, he’s not. I checked. Anyway, when will we get there?” Amber asked. 

“Well, probably in an hour or so. But Eurora might need to stop and take a break.” 

“Only an hour left?!” she exclaimed. 

“No, not exactly,” he said. “We’ll stop in the Erierlon lands in about twenty minutes at an Ottonoski airport.” 

She gaped at him. He laughed.

 “Amber, I’m excited too. You know, I’m in my fourth year at the academy.” 

“Wait…” Amber said curiously. “I haven’t told you my name yet. How do you know it?” 

“Because,” Thomas said, “I know the name of every person who boards. I have to. There’s twenty-one-year-old Henry, nineteen-year-old Emily, twelve-year-old Nora — ” But he was cut short by Amber.

 “Wait,” she said, “there’s another twelve-year-old here?”

 “Yes,” he said. “I thought you already knew. C’mon, follow me.” 

She bobbed excitedly around him as they walked into a sector labeled, “Rooms for 12 to 17 year-olds.” They walked down the hall, passing rooms labeled, “Lost treasures, or eagle egg room, or plant room.” Finally, they stopped at a room called, “Replica room for young elves.”  Thomas opened the door. A girl sat there. She had dark red hair that stopped at her neck, dark brown eyes, and, when she stood up, Amber realized she was very much her height. 

“Hi,” the girl said shyly. “I’m Nora. I’m going to Lenmonoral Academy, also. What’s your name?” 

“I’m — I’m Amber,” Amber said. But she was looking at Nora’s ears. The tips had turned grayish purple, and they looked very swollen. Nora saw where she was looking, and said even more shyly,

 “That’s just my elf ears becoming elf ears. They look like that, don’t worry.”

 “Oh. that’s neat. When did it start?” 

“A few days ago,” she answered. “Sometimes it hurts, but most of the time it doesn’t.” 

“When d’you think I’ll get them?” Amber asked. 

“Right now,” Nora said, pointing to her ears. She looked in the mirror, and saw her ears had turned a glassy blue. She gasped. 

“I… I didn’t know… I mean, I hadn’t noticed it before.” 

“When I got mine, my powers came a few… oh, what was it? About half an hour later.” Thomas smiled. 

“Well, I’ll leave you two to it, then.” And with that, he closed the door behind him, leaving the girls in the room. Amber tried using magic while Nora watched for a few minutes, but flopped down next to her, exhausted.

 “I give up,” she said. 

“You can’t just give up!” Nora said. 

“I can barely make a snowflake, but as long as you have signs, that’s good enough! Watch.” Amber watched as she twirled her hand majestically in the air, and she could just make out a single snowflake float silently down and land on Nora’s tongue. 

“Fine. I admit, that is not a lot but it’s more than I can do!” she said hopelessly. 

“Try again.” 

“Oh, fine.” Amber did the same twirl in the air that Nora had done, but still, nothing happened. 

“Well,” she said, “maybe snow isn’t your strong suit. Try filling that cup of water over there.” They tried, and tried other things in its path. They tried making plants grow, making a light wind, making a fire in the hearth, making, making, making. Nothing worked. Finally, after hours of practicing in the flickering light of the candle, who else to walk in but… 

“Charlie!” Amber exclaimed. 

“Where were you when I went into sector A-56?” He looked at her questioningly.

 “What are you talking about?” 

“What are YOU talking about?”

 “Nothing. I came in here to tell you two to get some rest. We’ll be flying into the night.” Then he left without another word. 

“Well, that sure was weird,” Nora said, before cuddling up to the couch and falling asleep. 


Amber, too, fell asleep, but she suddenly found herself in her cloak outside. She heard footsteps. She followed them. She saw a figure ripping out their magical plants and stuffing them in their satchel. She lunged at the figure, tried to scream, “No!” and lost her voice. The figure tried to suck in her soul, but it didn’t end there. Instead, Amber grabbed her soul, pulling it back inside of her. The figure then raised its hands, and… 

“Amber! Amber! Wake up!” Amber shifted uncomfortably on the ground. 

“What?” Nora was peering at her with wide, excited eyes. 

“We’re at the airport! We’re in the Erierleon lands!” 

She sat up instantly. 

“We’re almost at Lenmonoral Academy!” 

Chapter 4


Nora stared, wild-eyed, out the window. 

“Can you see anything?” Amber asked her anxiously. 

“No… wait, yes!” She squinted her eyes, looking for whatever it was that she had seen. “What did it look like?”

 “Well… it looked sort of shiny, like a toy glimmering in the sun. but it’s hard to see because of all the fog. It should clear up in fifteen minutes or so, but — hey! There it is again!” 

Amber looked out the other window and peered out. But the most she saw was a swirling fog. “I don’t see anything, Nora. Maybe it was just… I don’t know, another Ottonoski?” But then she saw it. A faint, shiny glimmer. It looked very far away, but — suddenly, the ground gave a very large heave, and thumped down to solid earth. 

“We’re finally at the airport!” exclaimed Nora. But no sooner had the words left her mouth than the ground began to rumble, throwing the door open and throwing the girls into the hallway. Thomas was there, along with Charlie. They brought them out into the main room, where the door outside had opened. 

“Thanks for the ride, Eurora,” Thomas said, petting the Ottonoski’s trunk. The air was chilly, and they saw their breaths rise in the air as they stepped out. Amber shivered beneath her cloak. 

“Inside, inside, please!” A short man with a tangled beard and a very round nose stepped up to her. 

“In ‘ere, you! Too cold, too cold, yes. Follow me.” The man walked through a thick crowd of elves, Nora and Amber trailing behind. Finally, they reached a glass door. The little man stepped up and pulled something out of his shirt. He waved the thing in front of the door, and, to their astonishment, the door opened. They stepped inside and looked around. They were in a very orderly room. The ground was made of marble, and there were gray armchairs. In the front room, there was a lady at a desk, absentmindedly freezing things like glasses of water, or bracelets. There was also an unlit hearth in the room they were standing in. The man turned to Amber and said, 

“D’yeh mind lightin’ that hearth for me?”

 “I — I can’t,” she said, embarrassed. 

“Course yeh can! Yeh just wave yer hand and BLAMMO! A fire.” (At this, he waved his hand dramatically in the air, narrowly missing Nora’s face.) 

“No, I’m sorry, I just don’t have my powers yet,” she mumbled. 

“Just ‘cause yeh don’t have yer powers, doesn’t mean yeh can’t try!” he said, with another dramatic wave of his hand. So Amber looked hopelessly at the hearth and waved her hand in the air. Nothing happened. 

“Well, at least yeh tried,” the man said. “I’m Stiltskin, if yeh wanna know. Well, that’s my last name. My firs’ name’s Redtail. Everyone calls me Stiltskin, though. Now, you’d best pick yer carriage. Follow me.” 

Stiltskin led them up a winding staircase and stopped when they reached a door. The door looked like just a door from afar, but up close, she could see it had tiny engravings in it. There was a fairy, a hippogriff, and many other mythical creatures. Unfortunately, Stiltskin opened the door too quickly, and the girls couldn’t look at it for too long. But what was behind the door was even more stunning. At first, Amber couldn’t see a thing. But, as her eyes adjusted to the brightness, she gasped. They had stepped out onto a balcony, the biggest balcony she had ever seen. It was at least as big as five Ottonoskis. Five BIG Ottonoskis. And the things on the deck were… carriages! But they weren’t ordinary carriages. They were made of gold or silver, and they were all jewel-encrusted. Some had rubies, some had diamonds, some had opal, and one even had all of them! 

“Well? Choose quickly now!” Stiltskin looked out through the sea of jewels. Nora had started moving towards one with opal and rubies. But Amber looked out through the carriages and one of them caught her eye: it was one with sapphire, moonstone, emerald, and diamond. The curtains were red velvet, and the carriage itself was gold. Stiltskin saw her looking at it and said, 

“Ah! So you’ve found yer ride! Well, I’ll bring this one down, and you go ahead back to the main entrance.” She walked down the steps, pondering what Lenmonoral academy would look like for the twelfth time. But when she got down to the main floor, she stopped, looking wide-eyed at the hearth. There, where there had once been cold, lonely logs, was a blazing, crackling, unmistakable fire.


“Nora! Stiltskin! The fire!” Amber rushed up the stairs, not even stopping to say sorry when she knocked over a short man in a green hat. When she got to the top of the staircase, panting and exhausted, she flung open the engraved door and rushed over to where Stiltskin was examining a carriage with diamonds, rubies, and emeralds. He looked up, and by what Amber could see, he looked slightly annoyed. 

“What’re you doin’ back up here?” he asked. 

“The… fire… it’s lit… ” she said, hands on her knees. At that moment, Nora walked over and said,

 “I thought you had already picked your carriage! What are you doing back up again?” Nora looked at Stiltskin to explain, but he was gone. They turned around just in time to see his little foot disappear behind the open door. They looked at each other, then followed, Amber much slower, as she had also run up the stairs. When they got to the bottom, Stiltskin was beaming at Amber. 

“I told yeh you could do it, didn’ I? Didn’ I?” Nora swiftly moved past him and gaped at the fire, watching as it turned to embers as it reached the top of the hearth. 

“How did you do that?” she asked in envy. 

“Honestly, I have no idea. It was just there when I came down,” Amber said. But Nora was no longer looking at the fire. She had turned to look at her and slowly said, 

“Amber… your eyes…” Nora faltered, still staring. Amber looked at Stiltskin, and saw that he, too, was staring. 

“What?” she finally said to him after a few moments. He looked around jerkily and whispered in her ear, 

“I’ll get a mirror. It’ll explain everythin’.” And with that, he bounded up the stairs, only to return a second later with a very fancy mirror. She looked in the mirror and gasped. Her eyes, usually a brilliant shade of green, were rapidly changing color. It went from blue to lavender to red to yellow… it was too confusing. Keeping count made her head spin. Nora stepped up and said, 

“This happened to me also. The color it lands on is your main power. My main power is water, and my eyes were blue for a couple of hours. But… it’s still neat to watch.”

 “Wouldn’t my main power be fire, because I lit one with magic?” Amber asked, curiously. 

“No, the first thing I did was grow a small beanstalk.” 

She kept looking in the mirror. Was it just her, or were the colors slowing down? It looked as though the glassy blue was coming around a lot. She looked excitedly at Nora, who grinned back. She looked back in the mirror. The colors really were slowing down! Slower… slower… slower… the colors completely stopped. Glassy blue eyes stared back at Amber from the mirror. Stiltskin lowered the mirror. 

“Ice! That’s yer power! A thumpin’ good power, ice is!” He started to talk about the ice powers that he’d heard of, when Nora checked her watch and said, 

“Amber! We’re going to be late!” And she hurtled up the stairs, Amber and Stiltskin following behind her. 


After five minutes of staring out the window at the beautiful sights, Amber started looking for Nora instead. She kept thinking that they were there, with all of the looming towers and carriages. But nothing exciting had happened yet, other than the fairies that kept flying in through the windows. Amber had never seen one before, so she whipped out her sketchbook and stared intently at one who had landed on the seat and was talking to her in fairy. She knew the difference between girls and boys, and this one, with its long, orange-and-purple-hair, bare feet, and patterned wings, was definitely a girl. She started scribbling a picture of the fairy, who seemed very annoyed that Amber was paying no attention whatsoever. It started talking in what seemed like its impression of English. 

“… you know, you sould wiwy pay attention to me. You hoowmins awe so stwange. I don’t undewstand why I had to come hewe. hmph!” And with that, the fairy dove off into another carriage. Amber tried to see inside the carriage, but she was nowhere to be seen. Instead, something else caught her eye: a blue ear. Amber leapt up in her seat, looking through the window once more, just to make sure it hadn’t been a trick of the light. There! She caught a glimpse of it again. 

“Nora!” she said loudly. A face appeared out the window, but it wasn’t Nora. It was a boy, and by the look of the carriage and his ears, he was headed for the academy, too. He had dark brown hair, brown eyes, and looked as though he had just come off of a roller coaster. 

“Boy, fairies can be annoying. That one was asking me if I had a horse at home, and if so, how tall was it!” he said, obviously glad that the fairy was gone. Amber giggled. The boy looked irritably at her. 

“If you think it’s funny, it’s not. That fairy, that fairy pinched me, and you don’t want to know what a fairy pinching you feels like.” He looked at her sharply. “I’m Oliver. Who’re you?” 


 Oliver looked at her, then asked, 

“Well, AMBER, why’d you call me… what did you call me?” Amber looked around, suddenly remembering why she was talking to Oliver in the first place. 

“Oh… I was looking for my friend… have you seen her?”

He looked questioningly at her, then looked around too. 

“No, but I have seen a few carriages, I could tell you what they looked like. I have a good memo — ” But he was almost thrown out of the carriage by a bump in the road.

 “Um… Oliver?” Amber asked, because he had disappeared back into the carriage. She waited for a few moments before realizing that Oliver wasn’t coming back out. She slumped in her chair, waiting and waiting and waiting for another looming tower to appear, just to get her hopes up. And finally, another tower did.

Chapter 5

Lenmonoral Academy

It was like no other one she had seen before. It was gold, and had so many towers, she couldn’t have counted them if she went around the castle. There was one tower, leaning just above some of the biggest ones, as if holding its breath, or as if trying to touch the sky. At the top of it, there was a flag, and it showed the academy’s symbol: a blaze of fire, a splash of water, a breath of wind, and a twisting vine. She looked out the window again and saw a crowd, and the biggest crowd she had ever seen. Clumped together, spread out, parents, kids, she could even spot a purple dragon sitting next to a man. But no matter how hard she looked, she couldn’t find Nora. Once, she thought she saw her, but it was only a girl who had red hair too. The front gates caught her eye, and she gasped. They were gold, and two guards in Paddingswood silver stood on either side of it, cautiously surveying the crowd. But that wasn’t what had made her gasp. A woman in an elegant purple cloak and two vines twisting up her legs, which were the same color as her cloak, was chatting with a guard, who looked very attentive. Her hair, streaked with white and quite obviously once a brilliant shade of raven-black, was tied back in a strict bun. Her sharp blue eyes focused only on the guard, boring into him. She looked… somewhat controlled. Leaderly. That was the only thing Amber needed to know before realizing who this was. 

This is the headmistress, she thought, feeling foolish for not realizing it before. The woman looked exactly like what a headmistress should look like. She watched the woman a second longer before walking back into the crowd, although she didn’t know where her legs were leading her. She looked over her shoulder, just in case she could steal another glance at the headmistress, when —

”Ow!” a girl with long blond hair and blue eyes looked angrily at her. “Watch where you’re going!” 

“Sorry,” Amber said, but the girl clearly had a temper. She brushed past her without another word. As the girl walked away, Amber could hear her mutter, 


“Gather up! Gather up, all of the elves who are coming to the academy!” The headmistress was shouting instructions out into the crowd, but when only a small group, including Amber, came up, she raised one hand and lowered it to the crowd. Snake-like vines twisted out of her hand, and out into it, disappearing behind a thick wall of people. Amber didn’t realize what was happening until the outer part of the crowd parted, revealing a somewhat larger group of elves. The headmistress looked to one of the guards and said, 

“Gather up the rest and bring them into the main hall. I will bring this group.” And with another flick of her hand, they were headed inside the castle. They stepped into the gleaming gates to the entrance and found themselves in a sort of brightly lit tunnel, but it wasn’t ordinary firelight. Amber looked at the walls and realized that the light was coming from the wall itself. A blue tinge escaped it, but it seemed to fill up the entire tunnel, flooding it with bright blue light. She looked, amazed, as the walls seemed to shrink inward, and the group suddenly became cramped. But, no matter how cramped they were, the light seemed to entrance them, and they couldn’t look away. Finally, a light came from in front of them, and this light seemed unmagical. They emerged in a room with five long tables, three dazzlingly bright chandeliers swinging from the ceiling, and a stage with ten chairs, in which professors sat. It looked very elegant, and everyone, as far as Amber could see, was trying to eat up every detail. The headmistress turned on her heel to face them, and all eyes turned abruptly towards her. 

“I am professor Ophelia Moontwist. This is MY academy, and therefore, you will not disobey the rules. Now, before the next group comes, I want to know who has done magic. If you have, please step out of the group.” Amber and a few other girls stepped up, and when she realized one of the girls was the girl she had bumped into, she edged a little farther away from her. Professor Moontwist looked at them for a moment, then led them up the stairs to the stage. Once they were up, she asked, 

“Now that I know who has powers, I want to know what your main power is. You!” She pointed to a nervous-looking girl with brown hair that fell over her shoulders and brown eyes. “What is your main power?” 

The girl quivered before saying in a tiny squeak, “M-my main power is c-crystal, but I f-first m-made it rain… ”

 “Good, good, crystal… interesting… and what might your name be?”

 “Juniper Skymist.” 

“All right, Juniper Skymist, you may go back down.” Juniper, looking relieved, walked quickly down the stairs. This time, Professor Moontwist looked sharply at the girl Amber had bumped into. 

“What is YOUR main power?” 

The girl looked up and slowly said, “My main power is earth, but I first made a lightball.”

 “And what is your name?” 

“Cattie Woodland.” 

“Cattie Woodland, you may go back down.” And it went on like that for four other people, until there were only Amber and a girl with curly reddish hair and hazel eyes. Professor Moontwist looked at Amber, then asked, 

“What is your main power?” 

“Ice, but I lit a fire first.”

 “And what is your name?”

 “Amber Flickspell.” 

“Amber Flickspell, you may go.” Dazed, she walked down into the now crowded main hall. She watched the last girl carefully. She looked completely unafraid. In fact, she almost looked more leaderly than Professor Moontwist. She watched as the girl walked down glamorously, and headed towards two other girls, one with long, pale blond hair and green eyes, the other with short brown hair and bright blue eyes. Amber looked around and noticed a girl with short red hair and hazel eyes. Nora flashed her a grin and disappeared back into the crowd. Excitement coursing through her, she began walking around, not knowing what to do or where to go. But a second later, Professor Moontwist called out,

 “Everyone! If you are water, ice, or snow type, sit down at the table in the middle!”

Amber sat down, looking at the others. She noticed Nora once again, and sat down next to her. “What are we doing?” she asked in confusion. 

“I think we’re being seated into our powers. You know, fire, wind, water, earth, and storm. My brother told me all about it. So did my sister. They’re both in their fifth year here.” 

“You have a brother AND a sister?” Amber said in exasperation. 

“Yes, but they’re not here right now. Professor Moontwist is about to give us our dragons!” Nora looked up to the stage, and Amber followed her eyes to see five dragons, two red, one green, one purple, and one shadowy black. And they were all looking, either impatiently or curiously, out into the crowd. She felt a jolt of excitement as one dragon, the purple one, stared right at her as sparks flew from its nostrils. And she felt even more excited as Professor Moontwist started speaking once more. 

“… the next five elves I call are to put on the receiver’s necklace, and look for a path of light towards a dragon. That dragon is to be theirs. Now, these are the elves who are coming up: Raven Nightmoon, Clay Starflight, Destiny Wisterlull, Memory Wisterlull, and Juniper Skymist. Please come up.” Amber sunk back into her seat. So no dragons out of that group were hers. But no matter how much sadness covered her, she couldn’t help watching. She looked up at the stage just in time to see Professor Moontwist pull a stone dangling from a string off of her neck. The stone was five colors, and she wasn’t surprised to see that the colors were blue, black, green, purple, and red. One of the girls, she couldn’t tell who, took the stone and slipped it over her neck. The girl looked at all of the dragons slowly, her eyes landing on one of the red dragons. She walked towards it, arm outstretched. She gasped quietly as the dragon walked up and nuzzled her hand. Professor Moontwist looked at the dragon and said, 

“Destiny Wisterlull, this dragon is now your responsibility. You care for it, and you name it. What is this dragon to be called?” Destiny looked at the dragon for a moment before saying, 


 “Fireflick, please follow my vine to your room. Destiny, please sit down at your table.” She raised her hand, for the second time that day, and dramatically brought it down with a swish of her hand. A vine crept out of it, twisting its snake-like body in the air, as if it were swimming. Amber watched Fireflick disappear behind the doors, and watched as the next elf was called forward.

And on and on it went, five elves, five dragons. She waited for her name to be called forward, but she waited all the way through the five main powers and she still didn’t have a dragon. The only fairly exciting thing happened during the weather types. They were halfway through, and once the five elves had gone, Professor Moontwist called out, “Cattie Woodland, Oliver Tistlemon, Petra Seashade, Azari Nightflame, and Nora Swirlcox.” Amber glanced at Nora, who looked as though her worst nightmare and best daydream had been squashed together in one moment. 

“Go on, Nora,” she whispered. 

“Oh… okay,” Nora said, sounding as though the air had been taken from her. Amber watched as she walked up the steps like a ghost. She saw the girl with curly reddish hair she had seen earlier, and she saw the girl push past Nora in line. Amber sat straight up, the excitement she had felt only moments earlier replaced by red-hot anger. But all she could do was watch as Nora looked at the other girl with pure hatred. Professor Moontwist looked at the girl and gave her the stone. The girl slipped it over her neck, smirked at Nora, and looked out at the dragons. Two of them were gray with purple claws and bright blue eyes, one was purple with a bright blue splotch on its paw, as if someone had spilled paint on it, one was a misty white, like a fog on a dreary day, and the last one was coal-black with forest green eyes and a purple hurricane-like shape on its tail, which was swerving this way and that, as though antsy to move about. The girl was walking towards the white one, looking it over carefully, but a moment later she swerved around and started walking towards the black one. It looked as though an invisible hand was pushing her towards it, and she stopped abruptly at its sleek, scaly head. Nonetheless, the girl still looked brave, and she tucked her curly hair behind her ear and held out her hand. The dragon looked doubtfully at her for a moment, but when the girl turned her head the other way, it nudged her hand happily. Professor Moontwist looked at the dragon and said, 

“Azari Nightflame, this is a weather night fury. Type: uncommon, main powers: moon, weather, and wind. Now all that is left to do is for you to name him.” The girl, Azari, said almost immediately,

 “Falconshine.” And then professor Moontwist looked at her, said, 

“Tell Falconshine to follow my vine.” Then moved on to Nora as the dragon walked down the steps. Professor Moontwist slipped the necklace off of her neck, yet again — but Azari never took it off, Amber thought. how is that possible? She barely had time to think about it, though, for Nora was looking out at the dragons, looking somewhat dazed. She walked down the line, first to the gray ones, but when nothing happened, she moved on to the misty white one. But after only a few seconds, her head snapped to attention at the purple one. She looked at it, puzzled for a moment, but she slowly started towards it, hand outstretched. The dragon, to Amber’s surprise, bounded up to Nora’s hand like a playful dog. It sniffed her hand all over before pressing its nose on it so hard, she almost fell down! Nora looked at the dragon for a bit, smiled, then muttered something under her breath. Professor Moontwist looked at the dragon, then said, 

“Nora Swirlcox, this is a wind-weather type, and her main powers are weather, wind, and earth. What would you like to name her?” She had barely finished her sentence, however, when Nora blurted out,


“Nora, please tell Mistyshade to follow my vine.” And with that, Nora’s dragon had disappeared. It went on and on for what felt like ages until the weathers were over. But, once they were, Professor Moontwist looked out into the crowd and said, 

“Now, we’ll move onto the last section: the rares. These five dragons are almost extinct, but we need five rares every year. So, the next elves I call, come up. Audrey Finswick, Poppy Flowerdust, Luna SilverMoon, Sam Mistfawn, and Amber Flickspell.” 

Amber’s stomach lurched at the sound of her name, but she was slowly pushed to her feet and walked up the steps. The five dragons looked like tropical birds — but there weren’t five dragons. Four dragons stood dramatically, but where the fifth one should be, there was only a lone shadow. She barely had time to ponder, though, before she realized she was first in line. She looked up at the headmistress, trying to hide her terrified feelings. Professor Moontwist looked at her with a glint in her eye and handed Amber the stone. The stone itself felt smooth and cool to the touch, and when she slipped it over her neck, that feeling swept throughout her whole body. She slowly turned to face the dragons, and saw, out of the corner of her eye, something moving in the shadows. She quickly turned, but it was gone. Amber sighed. It was probably just her imagination, anyway. She walked over to examine one of the dragons, and yet again, her eyes snapped back to that same spot. But this time, there was something else there. A golden path that appeared to be made of light was leading towards the shadows, and a pair of blue eyes stared at her from their depths. Amber turned quickly, and saw something that surely hadn’t been there before. The dragon looked nothing like a tropical bird. In fact, it looked more like an ordinary rainbowspike than anything else. It was faded the colors of the rainbow with a silvery-white belly, and on its paw, she could see a gold sun with three stars around it in the same color. Its eyes were a dazzlingly bright blue, and she walked towards it, almost petrified by its stare. The dragon slowly lifted its wings just enough for her to see scattered star scales on the bright blue underside, making it look like the daytime sky, except with stars. Amber wanted to run away screaming, but she held her breath and edged closer, locking eyes with the creature. She held out her hand, and looked away, not wanting to see. She didn’t know what to think of it. Part of her was excited that her dragon was a rare, the other part was disappointed that the rare dragon that she had was plain. She was almost too lost in her thoughts, but she felt a warm, scaly muzzle press against her hand. She gasped quietly. Its scales felt like the cool night air, and she was reminded of home. Amber looked up at Professor Moontwist, who smiled, then said, 

“Amber Flickspell, this dragon is a rainlight fury. Her main powers are weather, ice, water, and light. What would you like to name her?” 

She stood, pondering, not knowing what to name her dragon. She was afraid that she wouldn’t be able to name her, but then Amber thought of the moment when she had touched the dragon, and it came to her. 

“Watertwist,” she said, looking at the sun on her paw.

 “Amber, please tell Watertwist to follow my vine.” Amber looked at her dragon, HER dragon, for a moment, then she stroked Watertwist’s scales and said in a low voice, 

“Watertwist, will you please follow that vine?” She pointed to the still vine, not moving an inch. Watertwist tilted her head, and she stifled a giggle. 

“Go on,” she said, looking into those great big eyes. Watertwist looked at the stairs, then bounded after the vine, which had started rounding the corner. And with that, Amber stepped down, knees shaking, and returned to her table. Nora was there, and she stared, open-mouthed, at her. 

“WHAT…WAS…THAT?!” she asked, looking as though Amber had just destroyed all evil. “Um… what was what?” she asked, looking curiously at her. 

“THAT! You just got a RAINLIGHT FURY! They’re almost extinct!” she said, excitement rising in every syllable. 

“Someone named Autumn Glory found a pack of only about thirty of them a few years ago! They were thought to be extinct, even then! But you got one!” 

She stared at Nora, not knowing what to say.

 “Well… she doesn’t look like a rare dragon, does she? She just looks like an ordinary rainbowspike. She can’t be THAT rare, can she?”

 “Yes, she can be that rare, Amber! I told you, THEY WERE THOUGHT TO BE EXTINCT! And, you got one. You got the type of dragon that was thought to be extinct! And all I got was a wind-weather dragon. At least she’s fully grown. Hey, we get to ride our dragons tomorrow!” Nora suddenly said, as if her jealousy was forgotten.

“I can’t wait. I wonder what it will feel like! Well, it will definitely feel like flying, but I don’t know what flying feels like, so I really hope it’s our first class!” Amber looked at her for a moment, but as she opened her mouth to speak, Professor Moontwist was starting to speak, and the whole room went silent.

“Everyone, before we start the feast, I would like to say a few words. Firstly, after the feast, you will be escorted to your room, and each room has three types of powers. For example, in one room, there is fire, weather, and ice, and in another, there is moon, earth, and crystal. Secondly, in your room, on your bed, you will find your flying outfit, including your flying boots, shirts that can help you turn invisible when your dragon does, and so on. And lastly, next to your flying outfit, you will find your course schedule, and the elves in your room will have the same one. Now, as I have spoken, we shall start the feast!” she waved her hand in the air, and silver goblets appeared. She waved her hand a second time, and silver plates and utensils appeared. And she twirled her hand in the air, and bowls of food appeared, along with food on Amber’s plate. Both she and Nora were utterly baffled. A boy to their right said, 

“First time seeing that? That’s exactly what I looked like when I saw it happen, too.” He nodded to Nora, then looked at Amber. Something about him looked familiar… 

“So, Amber, found out your main power yet?” Then it hit her. 

“THOMAS?” she said, looking at him in bewilderment. 

“Yeah,” Thomas said. “You’d better eat up. Tomorrow you start your lessons.” Nora looked at him the same way Amber had — as if she couldn’t quite place him. 

“Wait… weren’t you the person who dropped Amber off with me?” she asked, still looking curious. 

“Yep, and you’re Nora… Swirlcox? Is that right?” he asked her, a faint smile on his face.

“Yeah… that’s me,” she said quietly, grabbing a spoonful of potatoes. 

“So, as I was saying, Amber, HAVE you found out your power yet?”

“Um… yeah, it’s ice.”

“Oh. That’s what I thought. You have a blue tinge in your eyes.” He looked at her for a 

moment, then looked over his shoulder and said to a boy who looked about their age, 

“Hey, Raven! Come sit next to us!” 

A boy with unusual bright green eyes and very dark brown hair turned around, looked at Thomas, then said,

“You know you have snow power as your main and I have fire. I can’t.” 

“Oh, fine, as you’re the one who NEVER breaks rules, I guess you can stay there,” Thomas said sarcastically, looking hopefully at the boy who was supposedly named Raven. 

“NO, Thomas, I’m staying,” he said firmly, gripping the table. 

“Fine, fine,” Thomas said, and turned back to the girls.

“My little brother. He’s your age, but he’s all ‘never break the rules,’ so he’s no fun.” Nora laughed. 

“How many siblings do you have?” she asked him. 

“Well, we have a six-year-old brother. His name is Julian and then Raven, so that’s two, 

and then there’s Mabel, who already graduated. So, three.” He said all of this quickly, as if it were a speech he wanted to finish. And so it went on like that for a while, Amber and Nora asking him questions, him answering them, until before they knew it, Professor Moontwist was starting to talk again. 

“Everyone, everyone, now that the feast is over, please follow the escort at your table to 

your room. Once in your room, look at your course schedule, get used to being in there, and you should be in bed by 9:30.” Amber looked down the table to see a man in brilliant blue robes that matched his eyes. He was thin and had pale skin and brown hair. She sat up, not quite knowing what was happening, and lined up behind the man. He turned slowly around and started walking towards the exit, just as the other escorts did. With Nora behind her, she started following him down the blue-light path and into a door that blended into the wall. Once opened, Amber could see many other doors with pictures painted on them, like poison ivy or the night sky. They stopped at one showing an ice shard, a blazing fire, and a tornado. The man looked at them and said in a low, frosty voice, 

“Weather types, ice types, and fire types, enter this door.” 

Nora looked excitedly at 

Amber, and whispered, 

“We’re in the same room!” 

“We are?” she asked, puzzled.

“Well, I’m a weather type and you’re an ice type, so, yeah!” 

“Oh, now I get it! Good, at least I’ll know one person in my room.” They walked towards 

the opened door and stepped inside. It was a misty room with walls that were red, glassy blue, or lavender. The room had a hearth, which was flickering cheerfully, and six chairs piled around it — two lavender, two glassy blue, and two red. Over in the other corner was one medium-sized table with six chairs, and a purple carpet on the floor. Behind the table, there was a staircase, leading to what Amber guessed were their beds. She motioned to Nora that they should go check it out, and they hurried up the steps. As soon as they got to the top, they heard voices down below, which probably meant that the other elves had arrived. Amber looked around. It was, as she had suspected, the bedroom. There were twelve beds, four red, four glassy blue, and four lavender. At the side of each bed was a bedside table with a lamp. Nora looked at her and said, 

“I guess I’ll take one of the lavenders, and you take one of the blues.” 

“Yeah… I guess so,” Amber said, looking around. Another purple carpet was on the ground here, too. Nora started towards one of the lavenders, as she had said, and Amber took the bed next to it. She sat down in it and opened her mouth to talk to Nora, but a strange popping sound drowned her out. She looked down at her feet and realized that her suitcase was there, and on her bed lay a light purple, sky blue, turquoise, and pink swirl short-sleeved shirt with holes cut into the arms, blue jeans, and newly polished black flying boots with the Lenmonoral crest on the side. 

I guess I didn’t need to bring my flying boots with me, she thought. Amber looked at 

Nora, and realized that a popping noise had just echoed throughout the room once more. Lying on her friend’s side was a long-sleeved ocean-blue shirt and leggings that, on one leg, faded from neon green to purple, and on the other leg, faded from purple to neon green. And she could also see that Nora, too, had a pair of flying boots, but they were grey, not black. Aside from that, they were exactly the same as hers. The other thing the popping had brought was her suitcase, which, unlike Amber’s, was bulging. She stared at it and stared back at Nora. Nora laughed, and said,

“My parents made me pack a few extra things. They can be overprotective at times. 

Now, let’s go down and see who else is in our room!” And with that, she was off, racing down the stairs at top speed. 

“Wait for me!” Amber half-yelled, her black hair flying behind her like a shadow. When 

they got to the bottom, she counted ten elves, five were boys, and the rest girls. One of the girls she recognized as Destiny Wisterlull, the girl with the dragon named Fireflick. And she didn’t have to ponder if Destiny had a twin, for a girl walked up to Destiny, and she had the same bright, pool-blue eyes, but the other girl had red hair, while Destiny had brown. And she also placed one of the boys as Raven, Thomas’s brother. All of the other elves were complete strangers. Nora, however, seemed to know half the people in the room. She walked over to a blond-haired girl that had hazel eyes and said, 

“Hi, Eva! What’s your main power? Weather, fire, or ice?” 

Eva responded by saying, “My main power? Oh, just Ice.” 

Nora immediately looked at Amber and raised her eyebrows. 

“That’s Amber’s main power, too,” she said, motioning for her to come over. Eva looked 

curiously at her as she started through the small crowd to where they stood. When she got there, Eva said, 

“How old are you?” 

“Twelve,” Amber replied.

“Me too. Weren’t you the one to get the moonlight fury?”

“Yeah… ”

“They’re super rare.” 

“That’s what Nora said, too.” 

Nora looked at them and said, “You should really read an elf’s guide to dragons, Amber, that’s where I get all my facts from. You could get it at the library if you want to.” 

Amber listened intently and was surprised to hear how many things Nora knew.

“There’s a library here?” she asked. 

“Yeah, and greenhouses, and a garden, and obviously classrooms, and a lot of other things. I read about THAT in A History of Lenmonoral and Other Schools. It has a map of the place. It also has a map of Synteloc, that’s one of the other schools, Gistleno, and Echilora. Let’s get up to bed now. I know we only just got down, but I need to unpack all my stuff.” She smiled at Amber and motioned her to go back up. She climbed the stairs, and thought that she, too, should unpack. She unzipped her suitcase and started shaking everything out. She stuffed her patched, dirty flying boots under the bed, and heard a clink on the floor. She looked under and pulled her boots out. Out of the left one fell a small blue box with a note attached to it. It read: it will open when you need it. -Sychlora 

She turned the letter over, but nothing was on the backside. Who was Sychlora, and could Amber open the box? She picked it up and tried, but all that happened was her fingers became very sore. She gave up trying and stuffed both the note and the box under her bed, inside her boots. The next moment, Nora was bursting through the door, and she flopped down on her bed, looking at her suitcase. 

“Well, we’d better unpack.” And so they spent about half an hour putting everything 

away and organizing their bedside table, covering it with their belongings. Amber found many strange things in her suitcase, including dragon treats, which Sebastian had probably stuffed in. Luckily, Nora’s bulging suitcase wasn’t due to dragon treats. She unpacked four books, a writing notebook, and a few things Amber couldn’t figure out what were. One thing looked like a misty white ball with miniature trees, plants, leaves, streams, and a little door that she could just make out. 

“Um… Nora? What is that?” she asked, eying it with curiosity. 

“This? Oh, it’s my min-dwarf habitat. Min-dwarves are just very small animals that dwarves keep. So far I have two owls, a frog, three squirrels, and two woodpeckers. I really want a black cat, though. They’re really rare.”

 Suddenly, realizing what it was, Amber reached inside her own suitcase and pulled out an orb that looked almost identical, except that the fog was icy blue, and Nora’s looked like fall, while hers looked like winter, especially with the icicles hanging off of the trees. She slowly opened the small door, and held out her hand. A tiger no bigger than the palm of her hand stuttered out onto it, looking around. It growled and backed away when it saw Nora, but Amber simply picked it up and put it closer to her fingertips. 

“This is my second tiger, Esi, and my other is named Leku. I also have a fox, Nida, two squirrels, one is Silo and the other is Multo, a calico cat, Tilasa, two ravens, Iloe and Pilcel, a wolf, Xi, a raccoon, Azie, and a black panther, Tisk.”

 Nora stared at her, open-mouthed. 

“WHAT?! How do you have THAT MANY?? I only have eight, and you have eleven!” she said, exasperated.

 “I’ve been collecting for a long time; ever since I was five!” Amber said, laughing. “My dad gave me the ravens, though. We should head back downstairs now. We can finish unpacking later, and plus, I want to meet everyone.” Nora looked like she didn’t want to go back down, but she followed reluctantly as Amber started down the staircase. Amber counted ten elves, five boys and the rest girls. Nora’s reluctant expression changed, however, when she turned to look at a girl with silky blond hair and dark brown eyes. 

“Eva!” she exclaimed, rushing over. Amber looked curiously at the girl, and Nora whispered in her ear, 

“Friend from school. Well, not elf school, but, y’know, school.” She looked disgusted at even the word school, which made Amber stifle laughter. 

“And her name is Eva?” 

“Well, her name is Evida, but everyone calls her Eva or Eve.” Nora stopped behind Eva, and said, 

“Eva! Hi! How are you?”

Eva turned, and a smile appeared on her face. 

“Nora! I didn’t know you were at the academy, too!” 

“Yep, I am. And so is Amber!”

 “Who’s Amb — ” Eva started to say, but she was cut short as she finally noticed Amber standing there. 

“Hi!” she smiled at Eva, and Eva smiled back. 

“Hi… ” But at that point, Nora cut in and said, 

“This is Amber. I rode on the Ottonoski with her, and we went in to pick our carriages together. She got a RAINLIGHT FURY for her dragon, too!” By adding that last part, Amber suddenly felt like she wanted to disappear. Eva stared at her, open-mouthed, not saying anything until she coughed, 

“A RAINLIGHT FURY? Really?” Nora’s smile grew wider with every syllable Eva said. “Yeah, and hers has the mark, too. I saw it.” 

Now it was Amber’s turn to be surprised. 

“What’s the mark?” she asked in confusion. Eva spoke up, and it seemed she had finally regained her voice. 

The mark is a sun mark on the paw of a rainlight fury. Every ten times a rainlight fury is brought to Lenmonoral, the mark appears. It’s supposed to mark a lot of power, and a gigantic, unbreakable bondlight.” 

“And what is bondlight?” Amber asked. 

“It’s the bonding between you and your dragon. The longer you’re together, the harder it is to break. I’ve never actually seen bondlight before, though,” Nora said. 

“C’mon, Eve! You need to see the bedrooms and pick your bed. What is your main power, anyway?” 

She started bouncing excitedly up the stairs as Eva said, 


“Hey, that’s Amber’s, too! You can take the ice bed closest to us.” When they reached the top, Amber took her min-dwarf habitat and placed it on her bedside table. 

“I’m done unpacking!” she announced.

 “So am I!” Nora said. “We can help you, Eve!” 

Eva smiled and nudged open her suitcase, which teetered dangerously and then fell to the ground, spilling everything. There wasn’t as much as Nora’s, but it was still a lot, and Amber and Nora spent fifteen minutes unpacking. When they had finally finished, Nora flopped onto her bed, checked her watch, and said, 

“Uh… guys? It’s 9:15, we should get ready for bed.” 

And so they did, and once they were done, Eva started rummaging through her suitcase and pulled out a gold ball, which she placed in her hands and then placed back in the suitcase. She swirled her hand in the air, and a crystal shot out of it, landing next to Amber. 

“How did you do that?” she asked, picking up the crystal.

 “I’ve been practicing,” Eva replied, and they spent the rest of their fifteen minutes watching her performance, and waving to the people who crowded into the room. At 9:30, the man that had brought them to their room came in and told them to go to sleep. So Eva lay back down in her bed, and so did Amber. She didn’t even have time to see if Nora had gone to sleep, because she was in her backyard, in the middle of the night, with a figure raising its hands above her. She braced herself, but all the figure did was pull down its hood, and Amber realized who it was. It was her mother, and it wasn’t. Her eyes were clouded over in a dull, misty, cold grey fog. No pupils, irises, or white. Just grey fog. Amber reached up but drew her hand away quickly. The spot where she had touched had turned into fog and drifted away, only to recollect once her hand was drawn back. Her mother’s eyes narrowed, and she opened her mouth… Amber jumped up, fully awake. Except she wasn’t awake. She had jumped into another dream — and this dream was also a nightmare. 

To be continued…                                               

The Moon

Chapter 1: Spell of the Moon

I was walking at night next to the lake, like every night, but this time, something caught my eye. I just could not stop looking at the reflection of the moon in the lake. I slowly looked up and there it was. The moon was just too beautiful. It was calling to me. It caught me by surprise. I have heard this before, the moon, the beautiful, full moon is dangerous. I wanted to run away, but the other part of me was caught with the spell of the moon.

The spell of the moon was impossible to get out of. Looked like I was stuck forever. I could not call because I could not speak. I could not run because I could not move, and everything I tried to do would just give my energy to the moon. All I could do was glare at the reflection that was sucking me in, better yet, sucking my soul.

I glared and glared until I had no choice but to walk inside that very lake my great-grandmother stepped into, never to be seen again. The only thing passed on from her was her story, the story that was told to my grandmother, my mother, and me. I was supposed to tell it to my kids when I got older (since I was only 11), but now it was too late. I stepped into the lake and did not look back. I looked to the moon, and the moon looked back at me. Straight from my heart was my soul, up into the sky. Flying and laughing, right into the moon. What was done, was done, and what was taken, was taken. My soul was taken, and there was nothing I could do about it. Except that there was something wrong. My soul had too much passion than it was supposed to when taken from the moon. Instead of disappearing like my great-grandmother, I stayed staring at the moon. My mother came outside, and she knew what was happening. Before she could say anything, my body felt weird. After a few seconds, I had realized I was now a part of it, I had turned into water. My brown short hair floated until it perished into the wind.

Chapter 2: 1860

I opened my eyes and I was in a house.

“Are you okay?” said a lady.

“Ahhh! How am I alive!”

“Excuse me? I am sorry to startle you, my name is Mary Wilieson, what is yours?”

“Uhh, Luisa Wilson. Hahaha, My great great great grandmother was named Mary Wilieson.”

“Really? Dear, I think you hurt your head. There is only one Willieson in the 1860s.” She smiled.

“Yeah…  wait, 1860s!!!”

“You should get some rest, we will call you for supper,” she suggested. The nice, sweet lady stepped out of the room. Then it hit me. That was my great-great-great-grandmother! Back then, we were called the Wiliesons because it was “cool.” My great-grandmother changed it so it could be easy to say. I wanted to let her know what happened, but I could not let her know that she was my great great great grandmother. 

I stayed up in the room, making up a plan to escape (also wondering why I had 1860 clothes on). After a little while, I felt at home in that room. Even though it was dusty and old, the shape, size, and placement of things felt so familiar, but nothing could distract me. 

“It’s supper!!” 

Except for that. I was starving. I ran downstairs. 

“Sorry if my husband woke you.” She smiled

“No, it’s alright, I was already waking up anyway.” 

All the faces of their kids looked familiar from photos and albums.

“Try this, dear,” Mary said, putting food on my plate

“Mhhhhh, cheesy mashed potatoes with secret olives and a hint of paprika, old family recipe.” They all looked at me funny.

“What are you talking about? I just made this up.” 

“This present and past stuff is confusing.” That was what I wanted to say, but instead, I said, “That’s what I see, at least. Hee hee.” 

“You have a good eye, dear.” 

We ate and ate, and while we were eating, it felt like my family was with me. They were! We were in my house! That was why it looked familiar. Without making a mistake with my manners, I told them. “What a nice house you have, really feels like home.” 

“I am glad you like it, dear, we built it a few years ago to raise our family.” She smiled. She was also right, and after that, the Wilsons or Wiliesons were raised in the same house. I smiled back at her.

“Hey, you want to ride around with me and my horse?” said my great-great-uncle. 

“Nuh-uh, Pablo. She’s playing dolls with me,”  said my great-great-grandmother, Mila. What should I do? Play with Grandma Mila, or ride with Uncle Pablo?

“Don’t worry, Tio Pablo, we can go later, let the little ones first.” I smiled. 

“Tio Pablo?” he asked me.

“Pablo, sorry, going a little bonkers.” 

“Bonkers?” he asked again. Isn’t anything I say right!?

“Uh, meet you around 2:30, okay?” I said, pushing my grandma Mila to her room.

“How did you know this is my room?” she asked when we got there.

“You carved your initials right here,” I said, moving and pointing behind the bed. The only thing was it was not there yet!

“I don’t see anything, but good idea.” 

So close!  I knew she had initials carved because her room is my and my little brother’s room in the future. When my sister, Carmen, went to college, I upgraded to Carmen’s room, and now Grandma Mila’s room is my little brother’s room. I know, it’s confusing.

After a while, Pablo showed up with his horse (Pablo Junior) from the window. I hopped on the horse’s beautiful, light brown back, and we went through the town. Our house was pretty far away from the town but it was beautiful. 

“You know, Luisa, you are really pretty, and I am impressed by what you did at the dinner table.”

“Uh, thank you. Hey, that really looks like Time Square! I mean, look at those billboards.” I pointed.

“Where? That’s a cafe, You alright?”

“Yeah, just… ”

“Um, okay, well, I am reading these cowboy books that are cool.” I gave him a kiss on the cheek for being so charming. 

“Uhhh, well you wanna… wanna see the park?”

“Sure.” Then I snapped out of it, I can’t “like” my great-great-uncle! The worst thing happened next, Pablo galloped his horse in front of a beautiful sunset. He gave me a kiss on the cheek.

“Weird, it’s like, kissing my little sister.”

“I am sorry, Tio Pablo!” I hugged him, got off the horse, and ran. Ran like the wind. I ran so fast that my leg disappeared. Then arm!

“What’s happening?!” I tried dragging myself across the floor before Pablo looked for me. Suddenly, my other arm disappeared. Trying to get up with one leg, I saw I had none. I had no head, no spine, no anything. I sank into the ground. 

Chapter 3: Great Grandma’s Soul

When I opened my eyes, I was flying in the air. There she was. My great-grandmother, under the moon spell. Stepping into the lake. I was still invisible and could not feel myself. Before she stepped into the lake, she managed to say,

“I know you’re there, Luisa, but you can’t change the past. This was meant to be. The moon sucking souls is destiny.” She turned her head to look at me, straightly opening her mouth and showing her devil teeth and creepy face that was turning around and around.

“Hahahahaha! Cackle cackle! Hee hee hee!” She turned around and entered the lake. That was not my grandmother.

“You are really smart, Luisa.”

“Ahhh!” It was the little devil that was making the creepy faces.

“Let’s see how powerful and smart you are after this.” He moved his tiny hands around. There was the picture of my grandmother, looking at great-grandma disappearing in the air. 

“Mommy!” she yelled. 

A tear came down my face. After, there was Grandma telling the story to my mom. Now, it was Tio Pablo and me. Playing dolls with Grandma Mila. Eating with my family, past and present. My family looking up at the moon. Rain falling, houses on fire. Creating the lake, the same lake that helped the moon take my soul from me. A garden that children played in. Grandma Mila’s soul was being taken, little by little. Until falling in love. It was all so confusing and painful. 

Then there was me. Me under the spell, the horrible spell. I touched my face like a porcelain doll. 

“Cold,” Past Me whispered softly, trying to put her hand on her cheek. Terrified, I removed my hand from Past Me’s cheek. All these moments, horrible, beautiful, loving, painful moments.

“ENOUGH!!!” I screamed, wiping out my tears. “I get it, I have had sad moments, happy moments, any moment, and will never have them again. Just do what you have to do. You can’t make me travel back in time  and make me suffer, I will ruin the timeline and… I don’t know, I like it how it is.”

“Whoa whoa whoa, who said anything about that? There was something out of control with your soul but now it is back in our order. It would be fun to mess around with you but that was not the moon’s order.”

“What are you going to do?”

“Look, we can’t talk here, let’s deal with it in the moooooooon… ” the little devil said, kicking me to the moon.

Chapter 4: A Trip to the Moon

“Ahhhhhh!!” Ouch, I am still sore from that bump. The kick was so hard, I passed right through some guards and right into the hall. Say what you want about the nasty moon, he was beautiful. Before the guards chased me, I quickly went deeper inside. The moon was like a type of castle. All the paintings of relatives and flags of moons. It looked so magical. Most of it was blue, my favorite color! It was like a museum! I adored museums. I kept walking through the shiny patterned hallways. I found a pen under the big, long, blue carpet, that had a pattern like the carpet from my favorite movie, Aladin. I drew a mustache on a painting nearby. I suddenly heard some voices and quickly hid behind a pole, putting the pen in my pocket.

“She does not deserve to be here!” 

“I was just doing my nightly stroll, that’s all.” 

“Silence! If your mother told you the story, you should not have been walking around me at night.”

“What-cha-doing?” I looked slowly next to me. It was that creepy little devil! He smiled at me, showing his not surprisingly sharp teeth.

“Ahhhhhh!!!!” My scream made silence for everyone around me. The little devil’s smile grew bigger and grabbed me by the arm. His hand burned me, like friction between 

ice and lava. He pushed me forward and left a rash on my arm. It was the only thing I could feel. Then I realized who was talking. It was my real great grandmother’s soul. She was arguing with the moon himself! There was this other girl there, she looked a lot like me. I think that’s because she is me. That’s my soul the moon stole! My grandma and I turned around. 

“Oh no,” whispered my grandma. The moon had a smirk on his face.

“Bow to me!” he laughed.

“I’m good,” I replied. The little devil, great Grandma Stephi, and the moon were shocked by my answer. 

“Up top,” said my soul, putting her hand up. I was about to high-five her but great Grandma Stephi interrupted. 

“NO! You may not touch.” 

“Why not?” we both asked. 

“You don’t want to know.” 

“Silence! Let’s not talk about that, what I do want to know is who you think you are for responding in a horrible way!?!” said the moon.

“I think I know, and I am Luisa Wilson. You took my soul, and you thought you took my power and passion, but they are still in me. I am not afraid of you, I am not afraid of your little devils, and however many guards you put up in front of me, I will not be afraid. These slaves of yours deserve much more. These souls should not be here. You can scare and overpower anyone you want, but you won’t be able to do that to me. So you better be careful.” 

There was a silence until…

“You go girl! I just realized how smart I am, how smart we are.”


“She is right! I will not be afraid of you anymore!” said the little devil.

“Leroy, do you know how I know how your father died? Do you know who poured lion blood and covered him in tiger skin? Do you know who has leftover blood and skin? Do you know who can kill you as well? Do you know who killed your father?” I heard all that and felt so bad for the little devil.

“Sorry, Luisa, I have no choice.” He bowed to the moon. 

“Little devil,” I whispered. 

“Come on, I believe in you, you were awesome on the tellie with great-great-great-Grandma Mary. You were awesome just now, do something to that moon,” said my soul, she hugged me. I hugged her back. We let go and touched hands. 

“I believe in you.” She faded away. Was that the last of my soul? Would I be without one forever?

Then I started to feel queasy. I blacked out, but from the story, I believe this is what happened. I turned half-human, but one half of me was missing, and now with my soul, I can’t breathe on the moon. My great grandmother’s soul carried me down to the lake, where I believe I turned into water. When I woke up, I got out of the lake full human. I saw Grandma’s soul go up to the moon.


She quickly flew to me.

“Where is it I need to go!” I touched her. So her soul combined with me.

“No! It’s to… ”

Now I was full Human plus my grandma’s soul. I was able to fly and breathe on the moon. I felt a little weird but it would be worth it. I went up to the moon. I sneaked up to his lair, which I realized was there secretly behind his throne. I took all his materials and poured them on him.

Chapter 5: Cheese Moon

“What are you doing?!” he asked. Nothing had happened to him. Suddenly, everyone was chasing me. I hid behind a painting for a while, thinking what to do next. Suddenly, a flash of light came behind the painting. Someone discovered me! 

“Little devil, Leroy! I am so sorry what happened to your father but please don’t hurt me!”

“Don’t worry, I am here to help you, quick, before they see you.”

“Leroy, do you know what the moon’s weakness is?”

“I don’t know, he gets feisty when people say he is made out of cheese.”

“That will have to do. How do you get cheese around here?” 

“Urgh, there is this special pen, you have to draw and it will come to life. They are so rare, there are only two in the castle, one’s with the moon and the other was lost. Everyone looked but… ” Before he finished his sentence, I took that pen from my pocket and looked at it.

“That’s the one! How did you find it?!” His voice echoed through the hallways. Everyone rushed over to see what was happening. I quickly drew a man with a rare collectible card that my little brother had and hid behind the painting.

“What is it? Did you find the girl?!” yelled the moon from across the hall. 

“No, but I did find this card! It is a… ” 

“Rare collectible,” I whispered to him.

“Rare collectible!” he repeated. 

“I am a… ” 

“Trying to trade it,” I whispered again.

“Trying to trade it! With this guard.” Leroy smiled

“Okay, do your… thing quickly, we need to find that girl!” he said, waving his arms around. Then I remembered a TV show I would watch when I was little. Cheese moon! I drew the cheese moon character with his long legs, pink cheeks, cheesy holes, and cute little blue hat on top. We looked for the moon everywhere. The kitchen, his room, the lab, everywhere he might be looking for me. How ironic, we were both looking for each other. The evil soul-stealing moon, and the innocent little girl who wanted her soul back. We kept looking.

“Did you ask us to split up?” Leroy asked. 

“No, why?” 

“I think cheese moon had his own opinion,” Leroy said, pointing where cheese moon was standing.

“Oh great, now we are looking for two moons!”

“Cheese moon!” we called. We entered the throne room and finally found him talking to the moon.

“What is the meaning of this? Who are you?” said the real moon. 

“My name is cheese moon, nice to meet you, friend!” 

“Cheese moon?! Hey, little girl, do you have something to do with this?” the moon asked, as he saw me approach.

“Don’t be mad, little friend, I see you are wearing my costume, you must be a fan! Let me sing the cheese moon song to cheer you up. 

Guess who’s made out of cheese, the moon’s made out of cheese! You want a piece of cheese? All you have to do is say please. To get a bit of cheeeeese, all you gotta do is take a piece of me! Cheese moon cheese moon! Hope you like my tune! Hey!” 

The moon squinted a lot with one eye. He was not okay. He turned as red as a shiny apple and as hot as a jalapeno. He looked like he was going to explode. 

“Aaahhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! I want to rip your hair apart and break every bone in your body until people stuff fish inside your ears and bury you alive!” Yep, he was totally not okay.

“Whoa, whoa, friend, here, have a piece of cheese,” said cheese moon, breaking a part of himself. The moon squinted some more until slapped the piece of cheese out of cheese moon’s hand. Cheese moon looked disappointed and disappeared into the wind. 

“You! You did this, haha, it did not work. I will finish you off, and Leroy! You were helping her? I got someth… ” He could not finish his sentence. His mouth was as shut as a clamshell.

“Mr. moon?” I asked. He looked at his hands that were wobbling. After a few seconds, the real moon disintegrated.  Leroy looked at me with a stare.

Chapter 6: Dreaming?

I woke up in my bed and wondered if it was all a dream. I walked around my room and it was all normal. Grandma Mila’s initials were behind the bed. 

I guess it was just a weird dream, I thought. Then there was a weird glow coming from out of my window. When I opened my eyes, there was an angel in my room! 


“Why the scream?” the angel asked. It was a familiar voice, but much lighter and softer. “Don’t you remember? It’s me, Leroy.” 

“Leroy?” I could not believe what he was telling me. I looked at him with my mouth opened wide.

“Yep, that’s me! After defeating the moon, they turned me into an angel.” He smiled with his perfect, normal, shiny, non-devil teeth.

“Leroy! It is you!” I hugged him.

“Wait, did you say, ‘Defeat the moon?’” I said, surprised. 

“Of course, do you not remember anything?” he asked me. 

“Not really, so it was not a dream?” 


“How about great-Grandma?”

“I suggest you go downstairs.”

I rushed downstairs. There she was! 


“Hi, Luisa!” Leroy came downstairs and smiled. 

“Well, I better get going.”

“No, Leroy, stay here, join us for breakfast.” 

“Um, okay.”

“Mom, Grandma, Great-Grandma, Felix (my little brother), this is Leroy.”

“We know who Leroy is. Don’t you remember the dinner we had with him yesterday?” said my mother. 


“It’s alright, you have been through a lot. Let’s eat.” 

We ate breakfast, and my big sister Carmen visited from college. We all had a good time. I am still curious to know what happened after the moon was defeated. Half of me is scared that during my time of being water, I worked for the moon. What scares me the most about that, I could still be under his power.     

To be continued…

My Costume

One day, my parents told me to go outside and told me nothing else but that it was a surprise. When I walked outside, I saw a million smarties. Not really. But I did see something that made me feel that way. I saw my parents holding a zombie cheerleader costume and smiling. My eyes went big. I wanted to explode with happiness. But wait a second. How did my parents know that I wanted a zombie cheerleader costume? The only place where I had written it down was my…. diary! 

“Hey!”  I shouted at my parents. “You read my diary!”  

Guilty as charged,my dad said. I grumbled away, but my parents knew I was happy. 

The next day, Halloween, I walked outside happily with my costume and makeup. But when I had only taken a few steps, I saw my arch nemesis, Rosabelle. She was in a vampire queen costume with a huge hoop skirty skirt. I almost exploded. She also had creepy makeup, but the skirt had jewels, and she even had vampire teeth. My stomach went around and around like a blender. I wanted to go home. But suddenly, I saw her scratching herself, and suddenly, she tripped in a murky puddle and almost stained herself. I smiled. Maybe a big skirt wasn’t so good after all. This was going to be a great Halloween. 

Uni and The Butterfly

Uni was a baby unicorn. She had a rainbow mane, a blue tail, and a golden horn. Uni met a man dressed in blue who gave her a tent. He was wearing a blue striped shirt and navy blue pants. There were marshmallows in the tent and the only thing unicorns eat is marshmallows. The reason he gave her the tent is because she was homeless. 

“I’m a baby unicorn and I’m homeless,” Uni said. 

“Go under the awning to get out of the rain. I’ll be right back,” the man said. 

The man searched on Google, “What do unicorns eat?” On the screen, it said,

 “Unicorns eat marshmallows.” Luckily, the man had six bags of marshmallows in his house. He poured the marshmallows into a tent and put a small mattress and a blanket inside. He also put a little stuffy in the tent. The stuffy was a little unicorn. He took the tent outside. 

He said to Uni, “You can live in the tent. There is food and a mattress and a blanket. You can eat the food and sleep on the mattress and the blanket.” 

Uni said, “Thank you!”

She jumped because she was happy. But there was one thing she wasn’t happy about. She wanted a friend. 

Uni carried the tent to the beach. Uni ate her dinner, which was marshmallows, then she went to sleep. She had a dream and her dream was her playing with a friend. She really, really, really, really, really wanted a friend. 

In the morning, she went to the bay and saw a butterfly. The butterfly had blue and purple wings and golden metallic dots. She went up to the butterfly. 

“Do you want to be my friend?” Uni asked. 

“Yes!” the butterfly said. 

Uni jumped in excitement! They played and ate marshmallows in the tent and then went to bed. 



As I look out the window

The tall buildings and green trees 

I see people walking by, talking on the phone

And some smiling

So I smile Back

Even if they can’t see me 

I know that they know, someone will smile back

And that makes me smile

And when I smile under the mask

I know that someone in the world, someone 

By their window 


Maybe they are smiling because they got a gift

Or because they get to spend time with people

Whatever the reason is that they are smiling 

It will make me smile

Even if they are across the world

Most of the time when people are smiling under their mask

Their eyes slightly squint

And if you are walking down the street

Or look into the window 

Smile back

You can smile in many different ways

Some people say that you can’t smile with the mask on


You can smile by saying hi

Or waving

Or doing something kind


Smiling is with your mouth

But it also has other definitions

A Starfish Named Solar

Once upon a time, there was a starfish named Solar. All she wanted was to get out of the water and to see the stars. But her parents said she was too young to go out. One day, when she was older, she decided to get out, and her parents said she was old enough to get out of the water. 

She heard that there was a starry night where the stars were alive, but the night was very far away. She knew it would take years, and she was only ten at the time. When she was older,  the day came and she started to go out. She went out of the water and started going up a hill. When she was halfway up, she lay down because she was very tired and so she took a nap. When she woke up, it was already the next day, and she only had a few more days. When she went up the hill, she started sitting up to see all the stars. She put up a bed and telescope to see closer, and some things to eat. She also had a game to play so she wasn’t bored. 

There were a few nights before the day came. She decided once it was nighttime, she would look through her telescope to find the moon. The next day, she looked through her telescope and she saw Saturn. 

She brought a notepad so she could write down ideas, and on that notepad, she wrote, “Saturn can be found at night with a very big, strong telescope.” She had a big, strong telescope, too. 

She checked her calendar, and after the day, she saw that it was at night, so prepared everything she had to do to see the stars alive. 

That night, when the stars were alive, not only were the stars alive, but she also noticed a meteor shower! She was so happy! By the end of the meteor shower, she went to bed. The next morning, she started to go down the hill. It took days to get back to her pond. When she arrived, she told everybody in the pond about her week. There were lots of fish, and starfish, and snails. They were very impressed. That night, when the day was over, Solar dreamed about her day, and imagined she could go again. She even decided to become an astronaut and go to space. 

The End

The First Place Winner

Hi, my name is Fluffly and I am pug. I am also the most fashionable thing that has ever walked on earth. Scarlet red is the most fashionable color. I live in New York City. I have lived here for so long. I need to see the world. I plan to go to London. The capital of… hmm, I don’t know. If you have not heard, in London, there is a fashion competition and the winner gets a tour of the world. Now all I have to do is get on a plane. 

You are probably wondering who is your owner or do you live in an adoption center. Well, I live with no one. I kind of just do my own thing. I start to get ready. I put on my trench coat and black sunglasses to try to blend in with the crowd. I walk into the airport and there are so many people there, but of course, none as fashionable as me. I start to run to where it says “London,” then I wait to get on the plane.

 I go under a seat and look at people’s outfits. They are not flattering, especially their socks. Their socks are tan colored and have ugly, blue spots. I just can’t. After I tell you what I did, you have to promise not to hate me.

 I bit the sock off. I know, I know, but the sock is so ugly. I run to a different seat. Of course, I am looking fabulous like always. Then I hear someone say the plane to London is taking off in ten minutes! I run to the plane. Do you know when you are going on the plane and you look down and there is a small gap? I look down. I am so scared that I’ll chip a nail. I run quickly to first class. There is no one there because it is way too expensive. It’s perfect because none of the flight attendants will come and ruin my plan. 

There is a whole cart of food just for me. It has candy, cake, and all sorts of sweets. I am loving life until someone or something comes in. It’s a pug! I am holding back my tears. This pug is more fashionable than me!! One thing about me is I always tell the truth. She comes up to me and says, “Hi, I am Talyor and I am sneaking on this plane to London.”

I say, “I am, too.” Then I move away from her. She is weird. I start to stuff my mouth with chocolate cake with strawberries. I am raging with jealousy. She is so fashionable. I look at her and she is fixing her hair and smirks at me. Arg, I hate her. She is the WORST!! Her fur is like silk. I cannot believe my eyes. It’s crazy. 

Finally, the plane lands and I can get away from her. I start to walk to my hotel. My hotel is amazing. It has a huge hot tub. Then there is a huge TV and couch. My bed is just unexplainable. I lie down and watch some TV. Then someone comes up and gives me a massage. It is an amazing experience. I never want to leave. 

Then I go to get breakfast. I have fruit loops. I walk to the hotel and I look inside. It has so many clothes. Then I walk to the runway and start to stretch. I do my best fur flip. Of course, it’s perfect. Then I get dressed for the runway. I am wearing a red dress, the best color ever. It has a small trail and triangle cut-outs in the front. I am not really nervous. They announce my new arch-enemy, Taylor. She walks the runway with such confidence. Then they announce my name. I start to walk down the runway. I kill it. My fur looks great. Then they announce the winners. Taylor gets 2nd and I get first! I shoot a funny look at her, like saying, “I won.”

I get to go on the world trip. 

Hi, it is a day after my world trip. I have decided to stay in Rome! It is amazing, there is so much to do and see. Right now, I am at a restaurant eating pasta and pizza. I am starting to learn about their style. It is pretty good but it could be better. Believe it or not, right in front of me is Stella Jean. Ahhh! She has such a good sense of style. 


Chapter 1: The Light       

Once upon a time, there lived a baby cheetah whose name was Spot. He was faster than the fastest car. He was 5 years old. While his dad was out hunting, he and his mom were watching the birds fly and they were listening to the birds and trees. Just out of the blue, he asked, “Why aren’t I allowed to go out of our grass field?”  

His mom froze at that question and said, “Because you can’t handle it.” 

“What do you mean, I can’t handle it?” said Spot, bewildered at that answer. His mom didn’t answer.

At that same moment, Spot jumped up and dashed out of the grass field.                                                                                                    

Soon, he could hear his mother calling for him. He ran until he couldn’t hear his mother calling him anymore. But then he saw a light, or he thought so. Then he heard a sound, though also not very clearly.

Chapter 2: The Incident  

It sounded like someone saying, “Do you need help?” And it sounded like he or she was crying.  Before he could react, he saw something that made him freeze. It was his dad right in front of him. He expected his dad to be really upset, but his dad asked him very calmly, “Why are you out here?” When Spot did not reply, his dad told him that he was going to have to explain when they got home.

After that, Spot and his dad did not say anything to each other until they reached home. When they got home, his mother was relieved that Spot was safely home.

Dad had hunted a hyena for all of them to eat. Spot could tell that his mom and dad were not happy with him because it was one quiet dinner. After dinner, Spot was ready to run and check out what he had heard. But he couldn’t go out right then because his mom and dad would catch him. 

So he decided on going at night to find who or what was in the forest. When his mom and dad were asleep, he crept past them and left for the forest. As he went further away from home, he was startled when he heard the noise again. He looked all around, but could not see anything.

Chapter 3: The Map

Spot went into the forest. He couldn’t see any light so he started running faster and further away from home. And then he saw a light in the distance. He got closer and closer and closer and closer.  He was curious and a little scared.

Chapter 4: The Baby                

Then he saw a baby animal who looked just like him. It said, “Who are you?” 

“My name is… Spot, and who are you?”

“Hello, Spot. I am Slash.” 

“Hello! Where do you live, Slash? I have never seen you around here. But why are you crying, Slash?”

“I think the human hunters have captured my parents and taken them away. Have you ever used a map?”

“Um… no. Have you?”

“Yes, well one of the hunters dropped a map and a flashlight so I took them and ran away. Do you want to help me find them?” 

“Yes. Why don’t we go at dawn so we can see better? We can meet at Lucky Coin lake. Do you see it on the map?”

“Yes. It’s getting late now, let’s go home now. I’ll see you in the morning.”

 “Ok,” said Slash.

Chapter 5: The Truth 

Once Spot got home, he went very quietly so as not to be heard by his parents. Then he went right to bed.

Because he was so excited to see Slash at the lake early in the morning.

When he got up, he jumped up, and yelled for his mom to “wake up!” 

“Why are you up so early, Spot?” 

“Well… I met… another… cheetah… cub,” Spot said. 

“What!!!!” said his mother, surprised. “Where does he live?” 

“I don’t know where he lives but we agreed to meet at the Lucky Coin lake. Do you want to come?” Spot asked. 

“Yes! But why are we going there?”

“I will explain when we get there. Ok?” Spot said. 

So they headed to the lake, and there was the legend, Slash! 

“Hi there, Spot,” Slash said. 

“Hi, I want to introduce you to my mom!”

“Hi, there.” 

“Well, is she going to help us with the you-know-what?” Slash whispered to Spot. 

“I don’t know. You want me to tell her?”


Spot turned to his mom and said, “Well, ummm… do you want to help us save Slash’s parents?” 

“Wait, what?!!” said his bewildered mom.

“Well, Slash says his mom and dad got captured by human hunters. One of them dropped a map and a flashlight so Slash picked them up and ran away as fast as his little legs could carry him.  Do you want to help?” Spot said. 

His mom froze then said… “Yes!! Of course.” 

“Ok, do you think Dad would like to help, too?”

“Yeah,” said his mom, even though she was not sure of it.

“Ok, let me get Dad. You stay here,” Spot said, then ran home as fast as he could. 

When he got home, he looked all around but could not find his dad anywhere. He wasn’t in the backyard, he wasn’t in the den, and he wasn’t in the grassy field. He had no more time to waste so he ran back as fast as a lightning bolt back to Slash and Mom.  

When he got there, he was out of breath and his heart was pounding. Slash and his mom looked confused.  

“Where is your Dad?!” asked Slash.

“I have no idea, I could not find him anywhere,” said Spot.

Mom then remembered that he was going to go for a hunt to find dinner.  She turned to Slash and said, “Let’s go rescue your parents!”

“Okay, get the map out,” Spot said, trying to rush.  

30 minutes later…                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       “We’re here. Look!” Spot whispered as he poked his head through the bushes and admired the many different animals that were sitting in cages. The cages were connected to each other and sitting in a long line. They looked at each cage, and at the very end of the line, there were the cheetahs. There was a sign on the outside that said, “No touching the cheetahs.” At the front of the cages, there was one guard who was sitting on an uncomfortable wooden chair, sharpening his sword.  

Spot turned to Slash and his mom and said, “What’s the plan?”

“Let’s tackle the guard from different directions,” said Slash.

“Good plan,” said Mom.

They began to move in slowly from different directions. Mom whispered over to Spot and Slash, “Remember to be quiet so we don’t wake the others.” As they got closer to the guard, Spot got more and more nervous as he got closer and started sweating.  

They all counted quietly, “Three, two, one, gooo!!” Mom got there first and clawed the guard with her front paw. Pow!!!! The guard took his gun out and held it, sword out, and started swinging it at the three of them. Spot heard Slash scream, “AAHHHH!” Then out of nowhere, they saw a furry blur flying through the air at the guard before he could react and shoot at them.  Boom!!   

“He’s down,” yelled Spot. When he turned around, he noticed that the furry blur was his dad. He was about to explode with questions but he was so happy to see him. 

“Look what I found! It’s the keys!” 

“Wait! How are you here?!?” Spot said.

“I’ll explain later.” 

Slash ran to the last cage. When he saw his parents, he was so excited, he couldn’t hide it.  

“Hi, Mom, hi, Dad!” said Slash as he cried in tears of joy.

“Hi, who are these cheetahs?”

“They are friends.”

“Okay. We’ll talk later and get us out.” 


 “Okay, now run, run!” 

And that’s the story about Spot and Slash, hoped you liked it! Bye!

To be continued…

Sneak Peek:

“Bye, Slash, see you tomorrow, same place.”


Then they hugged. They were so happy it was over. 


And then the cheetahs left. 

“I have something to tell both of you, come on. Well, I work with a company that helps cheetahs. That’s how I found you!!”

Dunt! Dunt! Dunt!  Be sure to check out the next one. 

She Wonders

I wonder what Amelia Earhart saw in the sky to make her want to fly a plane

I wonder the source of  Barack Obama’s courage to change history becoming the first Black male President

I wonder why Clara Spence thought educating girls was important

I wonder if I could have been the pencil writing the words from Lois Lowry’s imagination 

I wonder if Lin Manuel Miranda thought of a woman playing Hamilton

I wonder all of these things but for me…

When I look in the sky my dream is to be a U.S. Supreme Court Judge.

I hope to have enough courage to get over my fear of dogs

I hope to never stop learning

If I was a pen who could continue writing words the world would never get tired of reading  from my spunky imagination… aka Jolie’s Adventures

The Boy That Always Had Detention

Ok, here is the story. 

My name is Sam and I always get detention, I don’t know why, but I just do. I don’t get why pranking the teacher is something to get in trouble about. For example, putting a bit of goo on top of the door so it falls on Ms. Cutt. By the way, Ms. Cutt is our teacher. I always call her Ms. Butt. Honestly, that is a better name than Ms. Cutt. Does she want to cut something?

Oooooohhhh noooo! I am late for class, I better go to Ms. Cutt or she will cut me in half or put me in detention. Ok, don’t tell anybody but I thought of another prank so I put a little glue under her coffee mug and it will be hard to lift then she will spill the coffee everywhere. Lol. I think it is the best one yet. 

“Alright,” I say when I entered the class. I am obviously the class clown. Everybody likes me so I don’t have a problem with making friends and that stuff. I sit down and get ready for some action. Ms. Cutt always goes to the principal’s office to say hi before class starts because she wants to get a promotion for being polite but everybody knows she is not going to get a promotion so yeah. I take the coffee mug, I put some glue under it, and pour the coffee into the mug.

Ms. Cutt enters the room. She has reddish hair and brown eyes. Ms. Cutt looks around the room and takes attendance. She starts screaming names. “Carl, Reed, Natalie, Niko, Sam.” She gets tired of saying the names so she just stops like a lazy pig. She sits at her desk and tries to take a sip of her coffee but it is stuck so she pulls and pulls and then the coffee goes everywhere. She automatically looks at me. She says, “Goo? To the principal’s office.” 

I walk out still laughing from the prank. I enter the principal’s office. The principal’s name is Mr. Steve. He wants to be called by his first name because he thinks the students will like him more but that is not true. So when I walk in, the principal calls my parents for the first time. My parents do not care neither do I so once again I get away with everything. 

My friends always get upset because I do not get in trouble and then they prank me. They do the classic slime prank in my shoes, well I am pretty gross sometimes so sometimes I take my shoes off in class hehe. My friends sneak under my desk and put slime in my shoes and I put them on and scream and throw one of the shoes at my friend, soon-to-be-enemy, and the other to my other friend. They both get bruises on their heads, that means they should not mess with me. I obviously get sent to the principal’s office for violence and stuff, blah blah blah. My parents come, blah blah blah, and I got in trouble, wait, no, my parent take away all electronics for a month, noooooo! 🙁 🙁

Today I get my test back from school. I get an F-. I bring my test to my parents. They are not pleased. My teacher says on the test (with a little note), “You’re going to have to take the sixth grade again because of your poor grades.” 

Then, my parents actually start to care about everything I’ve done. My parents stop me from watching TV and from using my phone and all my devices. I start having a panic attack because I’ve never paid attention in class and there is a test the next day. Cause I am very sneaky, I sneak out of my window in my home very quietly and bring some paper and a pen with me and go to my school with my bike. It isn’t that far away. And I go to my English teacher’s classroom because that is the test the next day. I go to the ELA teacher’s classroom and my teacher is very organized with all the grades and the test answers and I can’t take a picture of them because I got my phone taken away, that’s why I brought the piece of paper and the pen. And I walk through the school’s hallways very quietly, but there is the janitor there. But the janitor is kind of clueless and old so he doesn’t notice. And I run back home through the window. I put my bike away like it was before and I immediately go back to sleep until the morning. 

When I wake up, my mom smells me and yells, “What that smell?” I am just pretending that I am still sleeping. My mom obviously knows that I am fake sleeping so I just say, 

“Well, I don’t know.” 

She says, “Why do you have leaves in your hair, too? And why’s the ladder out next to the window? If you don’t confess what you did, there will be no electronics for life.” 

I say, “I went to the school and I got the answers for my English test.” My mom obviously gets so mad. 

She says, “No more pranks, and no more electronics for a long time until you get your grades up.” 

And that is how Sam learns to be more serious and more caring about his grades. 

The Adventures of Miles Black

One evening, Miles Black, the school bully, and his friends were egging houses. “SPLAT!” An egg crunched on Mrs. Blackwell’s window. Then they saw it, just what they’d wanted — a pet store that had a big sign saying “adoption day.” They went inside the store and went to where the bunnies were. They got them out of their cages. They hid them in their sweater pockets and went outside. When nobody was looking, they dropped them down on the ground. Suddenly, a bunny began sniffing. It sniffed all the way to a little boy eating baby carrots. The bunny climbed up the little boy, and the boy was covered in scratches, and bruises, and a broken arm by the time the bunny was done trying to take his carrots. Suddenly, the news spread. They all knew who it could have been, Miles Black and his team. The next evening, when they were ready to start egging houses, Miles said, “I don’t want to.”

“WHAT?” said Billy, the second-best bully.

“Yeah,” Miles replied. “Is there a problem with that?” 

“Whatever, dude, we will egg houses without you.” 

So Miles just went home early. 

“Oh, well, you’re home early,” said Mrs. Black. 

“I didn’t have much to study for, Mom,” Miles said (Miles’ mom didn’t know about the bullying). He ate dinner early and did everything early. He was afraid the bullies would tease him. 

The next morning, he put on his backpack and left. But he turned right around and went back to the house. He forgot he had baseball. When he walked to school, he took the regular route, not the bully route where he and the bullies used to talk about evil plans (egging houses and more stuff). 

“I see you finally stopped egging houses and bullying,” said Patricia Paro, the only smart kid in his class, when he was walking to school. He just pulled the hood of his hoodie on his head and walked away. When he walked into class, something was different today. There was one extra desk. Today, they had a new kid in their class. He looked like a nice kid. At lunch, the new kid asked Miles if he could sit with him. Miles liked him; he seemed like he would be a good friend. He learned his name was Michael and he liked baseball. 

“You know it’s spring, and we could use a new teammate, and don’t be shocked but we need a new name right now. Our name is Joe’s Pizza,” Miles said. 

Really? I mean, really? I didn’t know you liked baseball,” said Michael. 

BBRRRRRIIIIIINNNNNGGGG! The lunch bell rang. Michael and Miles ran back to class.

They started passing notes to each other, and they decided that they would meet at Miles’ house when they went home. It was a long four hours but they went through it. When Miles brought Michael to his house, Mrs. Black, Miles’ mom, was cooking Miles’ favorite food: tacos. And set on the coffee table in front of the couch was a big bowl of chips and guacamole. 

“Mom, meet Michael, my friend, and Michael, meet my mom, Mrs. Black,” said Miles.

“Hi, Mrs. Black,” said Michael shyly. Miles led Michael up the stairs into Miles’ bedroom. Miles’ bedroom was full of posters with baseball stars on them. It had a big, wide window looking out to a tree in his yard. At exactly five o’clock, Michael went home. 

The next day, they were walking to school. Miles saw the bullies. Then suddenly, Miles said, “I may not have told you everything about myself.”

“Okay, so tell me now,” said Michael. 

“I used to be a bully,” Miles blurted out.

WHAT!” replied Michael. For the rest of the day, Miles and Michael didn’t talk until after school when they realized that they were neighbors. 

“Sorry,” said Miles but Michael just walked away. Great, Miles thought. I need to find a new friend again. 

The next morning, Miles walked to school, sat alone at lunch, and his day went by as fast as a snap. When he got home, he found his grandma sitting on the couch. Miles forgot today was the day his grandma was coming over to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

“Oh, Grandma Joan, I forgot you were coming,” said Miles. “And anyway, I have to go upstairs  and make some Valentines for people I don’t even know.” 

“It is alright, and Miles, we are having rice and beans for dinner,” said Miles’ grandma in a nice, soft voice. So Miles went upstairs. After a while, Mrs. Black said,

“Miles, your dad is home. Come say Hi.”

So he went downstairs glumly. 

The next day, after they exchanged Valentine’s cards, Miles looked at one of his cards and it said a bunch of mean stuff but the card wasn’t signed. Then he looked around the room to see people whispering and pointing to Miles. At lunch, Milly Marino asked Miles, “Did you write this note?” 

“No,” he replied.

 “Good, because everyone got one.” 

That day, a lot of people asked him the same. Suddenly, he found who sent the notes.

It was the bullies. Of course. How could he not think of this (he was supposed to be the smart and talented Miles Black! Why else would someone make up a story about him?). That day, right before the class left for home, he asked his teacher if he could say something to the class. He said, “Wait, I know who sent the mean notes!” 

“Yeah, right,” one boy said. 

“The bullies did it, they wrote everyone mean notes including themselves so they wouldn’t be caught,” Miles said. Everyone was quiet for a second, then shouted out, 


Then the teacher said, “Anyone who helped write the note, step up.”

Miles looked at the bullies with red eyes. He made his hands into fists, and finally, the bullies stepped up and the teacher gave them Saturday detention. That day, when Miles was going home, Billy came and said, “You will get REVENGE.” He just smiled and ran all the way home. He was glad that was over.

My Pet Slime

Once, there was a girl named Piper. She loved, loved, LOVED animals, but she couldn’t have a pet because she was allergic to dogs, cats, guinea pigs, every kind of pet. Her mom wanted to make her feel better, and she knew that Piper loved to make slime, so she took her to the toy store to get a slime-making kit. 

When Piper got home, she opened up the kit and made the slime. Then that night, a fairy came and sprinkled her fairy dust all over Oozie. 

The fairy said, “You’re gonna be a lovely pet to this girl,” and flew away silently, as if to not wake Piper.

When Oozie came alive, he said, “Wow, what a cool place!” and snuggled on Piper’s counter and fell asleep. 

In the morning, Piper found out that her slime had come alive! She decided to name him Oozie because he was oozy. He could also change his shape. He could be flat as a pancake or round as a ball or just his normal shape. 

Piper screamed, “Ahhh!” And Oozie screamed back, 

“Ahhhh!” She ran to her parents’ room. 

“Mommy, daddy, the slime came alive!” Her parents ran into her room, but Oozie wasn’t moving. He was only alive for Piper because he was being shy. 

“Sweetie, it was just your imagination. Come on down for breakfast once you get changed,” her dad said.

Piper started to get ready for breakfast, but as soon as her parents left the room, Oozie came alive again! Piper loved Oozie so much so she put him in her backpack, but he couldn’t breathe. She cut out breathing holes in her backpack. When she came downstairs with her bag, she hoped her parents wouldn’t notice the holes. She dropped some crumbs through the holes. 

At school, she met up with her worst enemy, Claire. Claire was the most popular girl in the class. She has good ideas, but she teased Piper. “Hi, Pipe for my building that’s connected to my bathroom,” she laughed out loud.

“Hi, Claire’s the store.” Life was easier when you agreed with Claire, Piper thought.

Then, at the end of the day, Piper actually made friends with Claire, because Claire was nice to her in geometry and said sorry for calling her Pipe. They became best friends and had a playdate every day after school. Once Oozie got used to Claire coming over, he actually came alive for her, too, and they had many fun adventures. 

The end.

B-day Celebrations

Why do people think that the double-digit birthday is such a big deal?

You know, I’ve always wondered why people make such a big deal on the double-digit birthday. It’s just something I’ve known as a child, a thing I’ve known since I was born. Yeah. It’s like common knowledge for Americans. I think that everyone just knows it. Every child I’ve been friends with basically knows. Is it just an American thing? Honestly, for Asians, it’s more seven and 60. I mean, it is like a whole new lifeline, since you become more mature, or at least you feel more mature. As you probably know, I’m Chinese-American. My parents are Chinese, whereas I’m American. 

The Chinese way to celebrate birthdays: the first birthday party of a Chinese child takes place when he/she turns two years old. Parents celebrate a birthday by surrounding a child with symbolic items such as a toy airplane, an abacus, a flute, etc. And these items are the attempt to predict the future of the child. Likewise, seven has both positive and negative connotations in Chinese culture. For the positive side, 七 (seven) sounds like both 起 (qǐ), which means “start” or “rise,” and also 气 (qì), which means “vital energy.” Seven is also seen as a lucky number for relationships. Honestly, Americans take a liking to the birthday leading to the double-digit.

An amazingly surprising thing about Chinese birthdays is that they DON’T eat cake as we do. I know right, WHAT? But here’s the reason why: different cultures eat differently. In the Chinese way, they prefer to eat healthier things. 

Chinese people don’t really make such a big deal on their birthdays. While nowadays, young people in China celebrate their birthdays every year like in the West, traditionally, not much importance was attached to your birthday in China. After celebrating three birthdays – 30 days, one year, and six years, no birthday was given any special attention until you were 60. It’s fascinating, isn’t it?

For Chinese people, they zoom in more on the year of whichever animal, rather than the value of the year. But for Americans, they prefer to focus on the value, and what age one is turning.

Now, let’s focus on the types of Chinese years. There are many, 12, actually, based on the year that one is born. There’s the rabbit year, the tiger year, the lamb year, the monkey year, the mouse year, the horse year, the dragon year, the snake year, the dog year, the chicken year, and the pig year. I’m born in the tiger year, and so is my mom, but unfortunately, my dad’s born in the lamb (ram) year. I’ve already mentioned that I’m born in the tiger year (as is my mom), and, well, my mom has a tendency to be obstinate, as do I. So, some people carry on the traits that their animal year has captivity.  

This essay explores different ways that different cultures celebrate their birthdays, as well as how they differ from each other in each and every way. I want to make it clear that every culture has a different way of celebrating birthdays. I was hoping that this essay can give ideas on how people do things differently.




JACINDA is sitting at her desk with a pencil in her hair and paperwork in front of her. Unable to focus, she turns around, and her eyes dart across the room and focus on ASHLEY. She stands up and picks up Ashley, then puts her on the desk next to her, and using a remote, turns Ashley on.


I have a secret. Can I trust you? No, I can’t. I mean, how do I know you won’t be hacked or… or something else. Maybe your programming’s bad and you’ll betray me. 


(crackly voice)

Oh, Jacinda. You built me so I can act as a friend. A friend has feelings, as do I. This means I can detect feelings as well. I am detecting guilt. You know you can tell me anything.


Thanks. I know I can talk to you, Ashley. Now if anybody finds out about this, they’ll probably die, so if I tell you, your robot life is in danger.


I understand, J, but it is alright as long as your life won’t be in danger. I can protect you though, if I have to, with the lasers you made me with. 


No, Ashley. I don’t care if I’m dying. Under no circumstances do you use those lasers. Ok?


Understood. Now, I am dying to know: What’s the secret?


The secret is connected to you. The way I created you was with materials. Stolen materials.


What do you mean, stolen?


I mean stolen. As in, I took and used something that didn’t belong to me and they are probably going to hang me for it!


I still don’t understand. Why would you steal? 


The thing is, I didn’t technically steal. More like, somebody knew that I was a scientist and dropped your parts next to my door. I used them, and a day after I built you, there was a note that got slipped under my door. It said that the parts I used to build you were stolen from the place I work in: Lab Home. After I read the letter, I checked you and your parts carefully, remember?


Yes, I do.


Well, while I was checking you, I found a sticker with Lab Home’s initials on it and the background of us launching a rocket into space. After that, when I went to Lab Home for my regular work routine, the boss announced that parts had been stolen from the big project most of us had been conducting: a way to make a robot like you and turn them into humans.


Are you sure? 


Positive, I was a worker on that project which means I’m one of their suspects, so sooner or later they’re going to come to my house and find you. Then I’m going to get hanged, or maybe not hanged, but seriously in trouble. 


Stop with the negative attitude. Go to the boss and tell him what you just told me. If you come clean, he’ll know you didn’t do it.


It’s not that simple, Ashley. The person who gave me these parts is blackmailing me to not tell anybody or they’ll get hurt. That can’t happen.


Well, what are you going to do about it?


So now I’m going to have to run. That’s the only way to guarantee everybody’s safety. Don’t you agree, Ashley?


Honestly, J, I’m not sure. I mean, do you have to go? Right now, the person blackmailing you doesn’t want you to contact others. This way you’re not as strong, but it’s different when you’re with others. You, in a way, have a team.

Jacinda shakes her head and sighs, reaching for Ashley’s remote to turn her off. She then places Ashley back in the place she found her. 


VLAD, who is in charge of the human-robot project, is having a meeting with all of the members. Jacinda is staring at the floor, not wanting him to see the fear in her eyes.


Attention, please. This is very serious. I need you to confess to stealing the parts of the human- robot project. If nobody has anything to say to me, then fine. I’m asking the security team tomorrow to go to all of your houses and search. You have nothing to hide so that’ll be fine unless… somebody might want to say something. Dismissed!

The members start murmuring amongst themselves, but none say anything to Vlad. They all start splitting up and return to their normal work.



What am I going to do? I can’t confess, right? Yeah, I shouldn’t. Ashley’s wrong, I’m right. Ok, I need to get out of the house today. I can do that. I need to tell Vlad that I’m sick. Simple.

Jacinda stands up from her desk and approaches Vlad at his. She waits until he gets off the phone and he looks up at her.



What do you want? I’m under enough stress with this robot-human program that I don’t need any more distractions.

Jacinda takes a tissue from his desk and blows into it. She then does a fake cough and sneezes.



I’m sick.



Ok, fine. Go, but remember we’re going to your house tomorrow.


Security guards are knocking at Jacinda’s door but she’s not answering. They finally decide to use a master key to open the door. There’s no latch on the door so they conclude she isn’t home.


Check this whole place and make sure she’s not hiding anything, ok?

They search her apartment but find nothing. One of the security guards, though, carefully checks the floor and finds a tile that is unlike the others. 


Hey, guys, look what I found.

He lifts it up to show a trapdoor with a basement. There is a box of Lab Home parts which are supposed to be used for the robot-human program.


Call the boss and tell him that Jacinda took the stuff. Oh also, the rest of you check for other secret compartments. We don’t want to miss anything.


Um, boss, we found out that Jacinda stole the parts, sir. Looking for more now.


Excellent. Also, you’re getting a promotion.

Vlad sets down the phone and laughs evilly.


Oh, my plan worked. I love it when that happens.


Jacinda and Ashley are sitting in the back of a truck that’s driving them to New Jersey. Suddenly though, they come to a halting stop. Jacinda hears talking and suddenly, the back door is pulled open and a police officer is standing there along with the diver who has a helpless look on his face.


You’re under arrest.


(fake shock)

Me? Why, I didn’t do anything.


If I had a nickel for every time I heard that. Your job, Lab Home, begs to differ. Come on, let’s go.


Hello, Jacinda.


(Actual shock)

What? Ashley, how are you up? I didn’t turn you on.

Ashley holograms a figure in front of her. 


(Vlad’s voice)

Hello, Jacinda. I see you’re in a bit of a twist now. Is this a bad time? Anyway, I just wanted to let you know who was behind the brilliant plan that got you in this mess. Any guesses?


Vlad? Why and how did you hack Ashely?


(Vlad’s Voice)

Well, you didn’t put a strong firewall and I guess I know how to hack. For your why question, meet me at Lab Home and we can discuss it over coffee. Huh? Oh, let me take care of this police officer for you. Ashley, launch lasers.



Jacinda hurriedly rushes to Ashley’s remote and tries to turn Ashley off. When this doesn’t work, Ashley aims her lasers toward Jacinda and fires, obliterating the remote. Ashley then turns toward the officer and fires. Barely missing him, the officer ducks and runs to the other side of the truck and takes out his walkie- talkie.


Help! I repeat, mayday! I’m being attacked by a robot here. All units, I repeat: help!

While this is occurring, Ashley suddenly becomes 5 times bigger and starts flying off with Jacinda. She bangs against the metal hands, only hurting herself.


Let me guess, hacked?


(Vlad’s voice)

You are smart, now aren’t you? This means I’m going to have to take you out but I do want you to see my plan.


Jacinda is in Vlad’s office and Big Ashley is guarding the office. Vlad approaches Big Ashley and waits as the robot steps aside. He then sits down across from Jacinda.


So, the reason you brought me here was to explain why you concocted this grand plan. Will you please explain?


With pleasure. I felt you were hogging all the spotlight with your brilliant ideas. It was the only chance I got to lead the human- robot program. I then thought of a way for you to get fired from Lab Home: steal something valuable. Now I was certain of 2 things in this plan: it would work, and you would run away, leaving me with respect and applause. The part I was confused about is you didn’t run away the way I thought. I wanted you to be full of anxiety, vulnerable. Instead, you had a plan. That’s what worries me about you. Now, any questions?


Yeah, one. Why do you talk so much?

Vlad stands up and, not responding, approaches Big Ashley. 


Do me a favor and take care of Jacinda, permanently!

Big Ashley nods and then roughly takes Jacinda by her arm and drags her to the Lab Home basement. When they get down there, Big Ashley pins Jacinda against the wall and warms up her lasers. 


Please, Ashley, don’t do this.


I only take orders from Vlad. He is superior. Exterminate!


I’m sorry, Ashley, but I can’t let you do that. Start self destruct sequence: Password – Handles. My first name for you until I came up with a better name. Goodbye, Ashley.


No, what are you- self destruct 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!


(Regular Ashley)

Goodbye, Jacinda.

A huge explosion sends metal flying everywhere. Jacinda covers her head to protect her from the flying debris. When the aftershock hits Jacinda, she tumbles to the ground. Picking herself up, she goes back to the floor where Vlad was and sneaks up behind him. Accidentally, she steps on a creaky floorboard.


Is that you, Ashley? I heard an explosion and I thought it might’ve been you blowing Jacinda up.


Think again!

Jacinda, taking Vlad by surprise, is able to tie Vlad up and call the police to hand him over.


Well, would you look at that? Same people. Now then, you’re being charged for quite a few things, including attempted murder, theft, and blackmailing. 



I demand to speak with my lawyer! There’s no evidence!


I beg to differ, Vlad. Oh, by the way, I thought you’d like to know I’m the boss now since you’re going to prison.


I’ll get you!


If I had a nickel for everytime I heard that. 


Vlad is wearing the regular orange prison suit as he lies down on his dusty bed. Wiping off the dirt, he hears a cling as the jail cell swings open with a click of the key. Not facing the person, Vlad returns to wiping his bed. A hand rests on his shoulder, making Vlad stop uneasily. Cautiously turning, he faces something hidden by the shadows. 


Hello Vlad, let’s finish this. 


Wicked Witch of the Night

A werewolf haunts a decayed old mansion, the walking dead stalk you in the night. 

The crawling bones, the creaking floors, they make you want to die. A whole world of arachnids live in that big, old house.

 And you won’t escape alive, even if you try. The night was as quiet as a mouse. 

And you did not hear the walking mummy, who was as tall as the sky, but could become as small as a louse.

 But he’s as quiet as a mouse. And that was the end of you. You didn’t experience the walking evil living in the cellar of that house.

 The skeletons are with the ghosts.

 You hear the sound of creaking doors. 

The zombies eat your brains and more. 

The floating ghouls all go to schools, and the pumpkins are alive! 

The evil creature living in that house is none other than the wicked witch of the night! You walked downstairs to the cellar. The pumpkins lit the way. 

The witch ate children like you, and you cannot run away. The moon was full, the man turned into a wolf. The witch was cooking something, in that big, black cauldron of hers. 

She beckoned for you to come closer, and then she locked the doors. You crawled into a corner, like a little mouse. You saw the witch’s wart-filled face,

 She had some claws that were sharp as a mace.

 You could not now win with an ace,

 for you saw the witch’s wart-filled face. Her eyes were glowing red. And they were filled with rage!

 You saw the unfortunate humans that died, whilst trapped in her cage. The whole army of monsters, living in that big old house, cornered you like a little mouse. And then, they pounced!!!


Chapter One

“Ugh. I’m so bored.”

 I flop down on my bed. 

“Hey, Siri. Interesting things near me.”  I scroll through the options. “Hmmm… Brooklyn escape room. And it’s called…. Playtime. It says two to four players. I’ll try to invite some of my friends.” 

First, I call Susan. 


“Hi, Susan, there’s a really fun looking escape room and I scheduled it for 4:00 tomorrow. You wanna come?”

“Sure, I’m free tomorrow.”

“Great! See you then!”

I try calling Margret next, but she doesn’t pick up. Then, I call Lily. 

“Hi, Lily, wanna come to an escape room with me and Susan at 4:00 tomorrow?” It’s a bit of a risk, since I know Lily doesn’t like Susan, but I hope she can come. 

“I’m sorry, I have a class from 3:30 to 5:00.”

“That’s fine, Lily! See you at school!” I hang up. Guess it’s just Susan.

Chapter Two 

It’s a cloudy day when Susan and I go into the escape room. I’m talking with a worker at the escape room.

“Well, you see, there’s an emergency button, if something were to happen,” he says.

“But wait a second, where is it?”

“Have a good time!” he says, and closes the door. Weird guy.

“Huh,” says Susan. I look around. It’s a room. I mean, I know it’s an escape room, but this just looks like a little girl’s bedroom. You know, toys, a frilly bed, a dresser, and a bookcase. I notice that it’s very clean.

“Hmmm. I feel like there should be a puzzle we solve or something.” 

“I know, right?” Susan says. We keep searching the room for some idea of what will happen or some sort of clue everywhere we can think of (under the rug, in the dresser, on the bookshelves) when the lights flicker. On and off, on and off. Susan and I freeze. It stops. 

“Okaaaaay. What just happened?” 

“Don’t ask me.”

“Wait.” I spot something on the floor. It’s a piece of paper, and I pick it up. It’s in cursive.

 Mary likes playtime.

Okay, I’m really scared now like really. And that’s before I hear the whispering.

“Do you hear that?” asks Susan.

“Yeah, I do.” Whispering. Little voices. I can’t tell who they belong to. They talk over each other in a language I can’t understand. I plug my ears, but it doesn’t help. I feel like it’s creeping into my brain. Then, suddenly, it stops.

Chapter Three

“Okay, isn’t there an emergency button?” says Susan.

“I don’t know, he didn’t say where it was!”

“Well then, we’re just going to have to find it, won’t we.”

I used to not like how Susan could be bossy sometimes, but right now, I really appreciate it. We start checking on shelves, in drawers, in corners and crevices. Everywhere possible. Until finally, the only place we haven’t checked is under the bed. I think we’re both a little scared to go under there.

 “Okay,” says Susan. “I’m going under there.”

 ….. orrrr maybe I’m the one who’s scared to do it. She slowly crawls under the bed, going farther down until I can’t see her anymore. I wait for about a minute, but she doesn’t reply. “Susan?” I call. I lean down. “Susan!” 

But I don’t see her.  Like, as in she’s not there. There is nothing under the bed. Not even a dust bunny! (Like I said, it’s very clean.) But seriously! I’m alone! I’ve done escape rooms before, so I went with the creepiness, but this is too much. People don’t just disappear! But I had a feeling I was next. If there’s one rule that goes for everyone in the world, it’s that if your friend disappears under totally random circumstances, you can freak out. So that’s exactly what I do.

I try to bang on the doors. “Help!” I shout, but it’s like nobody hears me. So I search around. I’m sure there’s something I missed when trying to find the emergency button. Finally, I think I see something behind the dresser, so I muster up all my strength and push it to the side. Sure enough, there’s a green button. I press it but nothing happens. I’m shocked. I was sure that would be the answer. All of a sudden, an alarm starts blaring. Nobody comes. But the alarm doesn’t stop. I start tugging on the doorknob. I thought they weren’t allowed to actually lock people in! I give up and flop down on the bed. I can’t believe this! But then the alarm stops. I hear a click from the door. I decide to try one more time. I go to the door, grab with both hands, and pull. Like the door had never been locked, it opens easily. I’m so happy! But what about Susan? I think. But that’s when I see the… thing on the other side of the door. That’s really the only way to describe it. Something unspeakable. Something out of a horror film. One rated Z, which doesn’t exist. Yeah, that’s how scary it was. A monster. I’m about to slam the door in its… face-like thingy when all of a sudden, I feel a strange sensation in my back. I’m about to turn around when my perspective goes black. I close my eyes. And never open them in human form again.


A man sits alone in his house. As he stares out the window, a tear rolls down his cheek. He remembers the day about a month ago when his daughter disappeared. He wonders if she will come back someday. And maybe, just maybe, whatever his daughter had become was watching him, waiting for the day that he would join her. 


Chapter 1

James was an 8th grader who was going to Franklin Middle school. He was trying to get famous, but none of the other kids would talk to him. He had no clue how he could do it, because it was so hard to make friends with kids during recess. He had heard about other kids getting popular, or sometimes even becoming class president, and he wanted to be a part of that area, or at least a few steps below. Maybe, he thought, if I can make some friends, or start some kind of group, I might get at least a few people who can help me. He knew (and remembered) very few of the kids in his class’ names, but he still went and tried his plan out.

So he asked his classmate, Ben (or so he thought), what to do. 

“Well, I think it’s always possible to just make a forum, or some other discussion kind of thing, I don’t really know,” said Ben. Well, thought James, I have no idea how to make a website or a forum, and even if I did, it would take a while to actually get it going, so that’s no use. He went over to another kid, Jordan (maybe), and asked the same question.

“You should totally make a video game! Kids like video games. Just make a VR game and everyone will go to you.” Of course! James thought. If I make a VR game, everyone will like me. And that would be the perfect head start! “You just have to be careful, though, about the decision you make when you make a video game. If it’s too fun, they won’t want to stop, and that can be a problem.”

“Hmm, that shouldn’t be a problem,” said James.

Chapter 2

            James had no coding skills or mechanical skills whatsoever, so he had to call his distant friend, Stanley, up and ask him to ask his dad to use his 3-D printer to make a VR headset that a phone could slide into. He went to the website The Code Mush, to squash together 4 code files: one that gave interface to the motion sensors on the headset (made by his friend’s dad), one with neural networks (because James thought the smarter, the better), a 3-D resource file (so he could program with 3-D graphics), and some pseudo-code he made himself. Overnight, the administrators of the website thought about what code to put as an answer, and what kind of person would make a robot with artificial intelligence disguised as a VR headset, with an extremely insecure web runner, which allowed people to easily hack into the game and make people see whatever the person hacking wanted them to see. But the administrator decided that whoever was asking for this had a good reason, and in the morning, he had his answer. A few days later, Stanley’s dad came over, and gave him the headset. After he had assembled it, and downloaded the code files to his phone, he gave it to his friend, Bill, for a test run. The goal of the game was to drive around on your bike and capture all the bad guys, and look as dramatic as possible. He wondered if this game could be a problem, because at the beginning of the game, it said to get on your bike, but he thought that as long as he told his friend the whole plan, it shouldn’t be a problem.

            As soon as Bill put the motors and the exosuit on, he knew something wasn’t right. He hadn’t seen any motors and definitely no exosuit when James gave it to him, and he had no idea why they would be necessary. But he kept putting it on, and when he was just about to put on the headset, he realized that the only thing James gave him was that headset. The robot must have built the exosuit itself! Maybe James’ phone had a virus on it and James didn’t know it. But before he could put the headset down, the phone turned on. He grimaced as the phone whirred, and saw the phone typing its own password in. He tried to turn the phone off, but he accidentally opened the game file. He knew that when the game turned on, there would be no escape. The motors started to move his limbs for him, and he couldn’t resist. The motors started to push his legs back and forth, making him walk down the street, and towards Stanley’s house. When he got to the house, he felt his hands moving towards his headset, and as much as he struggled, he could not stop himself from putting it on. He felt his hands moving about, maybe building something, but he could not see past the headset. He shouted as something small crawled up his shirt, and landed on his head, strapping a mask over his nose and mouth. And when he breathed in, he felt himself fall asleep. As James was waiting for Bill and his test run reviews, he decided to go over and ask him himself. So he went over to Bill’s house, and rang the doorbell, and Bill’s dad came out.

“Where is Bill?” asked James, looking around.

“Bill? I think he is at Stanley’s house,” replied Bill’s dad. So James walked down the street, by his school and some other schools, and sometime later, he got to Stanley’s house. He rang the doorbell. It took a very long time for Bill to answer. When Bill came out, James could tell that he seemed different. His arms and legs were moving weirdly, and he had put on this really thick sweater and some sweatpants.

“Salutations, James,” said Bill in a weird monotone. “The game was… amusing. It had…  superlative outcomes. The game felt incredibly relevant to the world.”

“What does that mean?” asked James, who had no memory of his friend knowing a lot of words.

“It means like real life.”

“Okay, so on a scale of 1-100, how was it?”

“1,000,000,000%. Better than it is possible to be. If I were you, I would sell to everyone around the world.”

“Hmm. I will think about that, bye,” said James, leaving quite quickly. He was pretty scared that his friend had taken on some weird behavior right after he went into the suit, and definitely not considering selling around the world.

The next day at Bill’s house, there were more VR armatures, this time without any phone controlling them. Bill was making (against his will) more of them, and sometimes, even tiny robot bundles that could mess with people’s brainwaves. At least an eighth of his class was made up of ultra-smart kids in really baggy clothes or no visible changes. Every night, Bill kept making more, and after a while, there were enough to fill his entire class, and a few more classes. And James had no knowledge of this at all. Things were looking pretty bad.

Chapter 3

Before, the problem could easily be ignored. But now, with kids walking all around him and looking at him blankly, it was impossible not to notice. Bill (or really whoever was controlling him), on the other hand, was making a lot of money off James’ idea, and that was not super good for James. James could be sued for making an idea that would control people, or maybe a two-way sue. Some of the kids at the school were making some of their own VR armatures, all through recess, after school, weekends, and even on the holidays. When the kids weren’t in school, they were making suits. A lot of the teachers, too, had been controlled by the armatures, and were making their own suits. James started going to Bill’s house more frequently, to check in on him.

“Hi, Bill,” said James one day.

“Hello, James, how are you?” Bill said.

“I’m okay. I noticed that you are… well… acting a little funny. Is there something wrong?”

“No. Nothing. I am perfectly fine. And yes, I have been telling more jokes than usual. Why?”

“That’s not what I meant. I mean… you’ve been wearing the same clothes every day, and you are always disappearing in class, and I never see you at recess.”

“I’ve been raking, and I had to go to the bathroom. And I haven’t been wearing the same clothes every day, ” said Bill so quickly, it sounded to James as if he had said it in five seconds.

“Oh, yes of course, ” said James. “You aren’t still in that VR suit I gave you, are you?”

“No, absolutely not,” said Bill, who was kind of telling the truth. He wasn’t in the exosuit, he was being controlled by the tiny robots.

“Okay, bye, Bill,”


Most of the other times he talked to Bill, the effect was the same. After a few months, the entire school was filled with robot kids. Eventually, James finally figured it all out, exactly what had been going on with Bill, except for the tiny brain robots. But he had no idea how to power all the robots down, without anybody noticing. He needed help from his parents. After he explained the whole thing to his mom and dad (with a lot of difficulty), they told him that he should find out who was controlling these robots, or make an app update, adding an unharmful self destruct system. He decided to make an update, because he did not know how to hack. So he made a new app, and told everyone at school that there was an update, and they quickly ran away from him, probably to get the new app. He had programmed in a foolproof way to have the suit unlatch from the person, and walk far away, into a deep pit in James’ backyard.

A week later, in the middle of the night, the suits unlatched, retracting the bracelets around their arms and legs, and got up and walked around. The suits walked out the door, all towards James’ house. While James was looking out his window at them, he was thinking about what could be the end of this crisis. He noticed only twenty armatures walked into the pit, and there were at least 400 kids in his school, all of whom were possessed. The next morning, he noticed that his plan had barely worked at all. Only a few kids had acted friendly, and the rest had been very weird. He decided to ask the kids who had been cured, because they were the ones that made the suits.

“Hi! Did you notice anything strange last week?”

“Oh, yes, the weirdest! There was like this skeleton! It just walked onto my body and it stuck there!”

“Tell me about it! I really need info.”

“Okay. It was really terrible, but also kind of cool.” So the kids told him the whole story, all of their suspicions (all of which were correct), all about the microbots, exosuits, and some torn up sweaters. When they all were done, James understood. Everything made sense, and he thought he knew how to stop it.

Chapter 4

Since the nanobots only ran on very small batteries, it wouldn’t do too much harm if they short-circuited. So he set up some small capacitive touch activated door knob squirters, some small pressure plates under some mats, and several motion activated water cannons, to blast whoever was infected with water. He had taken the creative time to work hard and actually learn how to make the things himself properly, instead of just relying on other people to help him. But unfortunately, he had done it on a Friday, so he would have to wait three days before seeing the effects. It was on Sunday that he had finally noticed a flaw in his plan. Squirting the kids with water wouldn’t short out the mini-robots, because they were in the kids’ brains. He quickly created a small electric shocker for a show and tell project, to share what the effects of certain electronic components could do to voltage. It would be absolutely impossible to notice for the kids, because the voltage level was only nine volts. When the nine volts ran across the kids’ bodies from one hand to the other, it would pass through every part of their body, including the tiny robots. There was another advantage to the nanobots using tiny batteries. It meant that it could handle no more than around one volt, and if ten volts entered the nanobots’ battery sockets, they would overpower, and get destroyed. This really was a terrible idea, because sending ten volts into a brain-controlling nanobot could cause them to send brain signals of ten volts through their brains, which is a lot of volts for a person’s brain. But luckily, the robots had a small power restrictor, which would self-destruct if the voltage was too much. When he went to school that day, he was really excited about finally saving his school. The kids could carrey voltage in their bodies, so whoever they touched would also be free from the tiny robots, and if they touched the playground equipment, it would spread everywhere. So in the evening, when the kids lined up to try out James’ experiment, all of the kids had a tiny jump, and then walked back to their seats. It worked perfectly, and by the end of the week, the VR headsets and all of the nanobots had been completely wiped out permanently. At the end of the day, all of the kids thanked James for saving them from the robots. James wanted to run for class president, and he won the vote, probably because all the kids liked that he had been smart and creative enough to stop the robots (although the teachers didn’t approve as much because they got soaked).