My Pet’s Life: A Series

1

Once upon a time, there was a two-year-old Boxer named Moksh. He was the youngest dog in the house, right behind Cricket and Valentine. Zeus was the only hamster in the house. Zeus was half-a-year old. Zeus was in a cage because otherwise, Moksh, Cricket, and Valentine would eat him! Moksh was pretty much always hungry. Today, Moksh tried to eat his owner’s bacon before he went off to school! He only got one bite, so he was still hungry. The owner just gave Moksh the bacon, so he would leave him alone. Moksh ate two pieces of bacon in total.

When the owner came back from school, he was angry to see Zeus was on the loose, Moksh was chasing Zeus, and Cricket and Valentine were chewing on the walls and the couches and the beds too! Everything was ripped up! So he put all the pets in cages before he went to school, but not Zeus, because he was in Moksh’s belly! Moksh was too full, so he barfed up Zeus, who was still alive!

“Sorry for eating you, Zeus! Can you help us get out of these cages? We’ll never try to eat you again if you help us,” Moksh said.

“Fine, but you better keep your promise!”

Zeus crawled through the opening in Moksh’s cage and opened it from the outside. The pets never misbehaved towards Zeus. But they were still hungry! So, they had to misbehave one last time to get food.  Moksh got Zeus his food on the owner’s desk and Zeus got the dogs their food by crawling up the wall with his long hamster nails. Then, once Zeus got to the food, he ripped a hole in one side and all the food poured on top of the dogs. The dogs ate their way out of the pile of food.

THE END.

2

“You want to eat Zeus? Because we never promised not to eat Zeus!” Valentine said to Cricket.

“Are you sure? He gave us a whole pile of food to eat!” Cricket said to Valentine.

“Well we saved him,’’ Valentine said to Cricket.

“No, Moksh did. Not us,’’ Cricket said to Valentine.

Later at the door, Zeus was panicking. His water bottle was empty! Zeus went to the store and paid for a water bottle and bit open the cap. But when he opened the water, he fell in! His hamster claws latched onto the top, and slowly yanked himself out. He dropped all the water onto the floor. Then, Valentine, Cricket, and Moksh ran to lick up all the water.

Valentine said, “Zeus, can you drop some more?”

Zeus ran to the sink then pointed the faucet at the dogs, then turned it on high.

‘’AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! TURN IT OFF!!” Valentine said.

“But I thought you wanted water Valentine,’’ Zeus said.

Valentine jumped onto the table and grabbed Zeus by his tail with her claws.

“You better go in your cage and never come back!” Valentine said.

Zeus took his claws and shoved them into Valentine’s nose. Valentine let Zeus go, and he fell into the drain pipe. Luckily, the drain pipe was clogged with food. Valentine switched on the garbage disposal, but before Zeus got killed, Moksh saved Zeus by knocking Valentine off and turning off the garbage disposal. To actually say sorry, Valentine filled up Zeus’s hamster bottle, and Zeus filled up their water bottles for fun.

THE END

3

“I want a new dog!” Moksh said.

“Me too!” Valentine and Cricket said.

“I want two more hamsters!” Zeus said.

Five Minutes Later…

“Let’s go to PetCo and and get more pets!” Moksh said.

All the pets went through the doggy door. Once they got to PetCo, which was right next to the house, they marched through the automatic doors. Then Moksh grabbed two Chinese hamsters, just like Zeus. Valentine and Cricket bit through a cage and recruited a Golden Retriever.

“Hey guys, my name is Milo!” the Golden Retriever said. “Why did you let me loose?”

Moksh said, “We need new family members, so we recruited you!”

Later, on the floor, Zeus said to the hamsters, ‘’Guys! What are your names?”

“I’m Hades! And I’m Poseidon!” they said together.

“You want to become part of our family?” Zeus said.

“Yes!” They said together.

They all went home and had a good night’s sleep.

THE END

4

“Ho ho,” Zeus said walking past Moksh.

“Oh Zeus, you need a bath. You smell as bad as a skunk.”

“Ya!” everybody agreed.

Moksh turned the water on. Well, he cracked the drain plug. Zeus went in the sink and the drain plug popped off. Zeus went down the drain pipe into the sewer! Moksh, the others dogs, and the hamsters ran outside and started to take off the manhole cover to the sewer. The hamsters used their little claws to hook onto it, and the dogs used their strength to pull the hamsters until they got it open. Moksh jumped down into the sewer with Poseidon and Hades on his back, and they saw Zeus floating along until he went through a grate that was too narrow for the dogs to get past. Zeus grabbed onto the grate and was hanging there, hoping to be rescued.  Milo and Valentine jumped down to help.

Hades and Poseidon jumped onto a little board and floated to Zeus and got him. But then, they forgot how to get onto land, because they were stuck at the grate. So Moksh jumped in and pushed a little board to the other dogs. When Valentine rescued the hamsters, she raced to the house with them to cook them for dinner!

Cricket and Milo raced behind Valentine, but Valentine had locked the doggy door. Milo busted through the window and Cricket followed him. When they came in, the poor little hamster’s claws were burning as they were trying to stand away from the bottom of the hot pan! Cricket tackled Valentine while Milo turned the stove off by breaking off the knob.

Then, they all heard a big crash sound, and they all turned to see Moksh break open the door. Moksh put Valentine in the cage and they lived happily ever after… until next time.

THE END

5

One day, Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon were talking about bowling. They got their tickets online by using their owner’s accounts, but the dogs made them get tickets for them, too. When they went to the bowling alley, the guy said, “No pets allowed.” But the dogs showed the security guard the pets’ tickets, and the security guard let them pass.

The dogs helped the hamsters get to the bowling lanes by carrying them on their backs. The dogs helped the hamsters push the balls down the lane. But when it was Zeus’s turn, Valentine helped him by putting him into the bowling ball and pushing it down the lane. Zeus flew out and fell right onto Moksh.

Zeus told Moksh what happened, and he was angry, so he ran toward Valentine, and squeezed her nose into the bowling ball. Moksh and Milo did a double bowling ball, Moksh held Valentine’s tail and Milo held the bowling ball. They both hit the ball and Valentine down the lane, and there was a strike!  

Valentine rolled and popped out from the tube where the balls return. Her fur was shredded up.  When it was her turn she didn’t hit the pins; she hit all of the pets instead. Then, she grabbed all the hamsters in her paws and ran outside of the bowling alley to the docks by the water. She took a yacht and went far out to sea. Luckily, she found a waverider and left the hamsters on the yacht, and she jumped on the waverider and returned to land. She went to a gun store and bought a rocket launcher and some oil. She returned to the yacht and poured oil all over the boat, but by then the other dogs had stolen an empty Disney Cruise Ship and went to the yacht.

They honked at Valentine, which scared her, and she accidently shot the rocket launcher too soon. It hit the yacht and the boat caught on fire. She rode away on the waverider, while the other dogs started to save the hamsters. Then, they found the rocket launcher full of ammo, and they shot into the water slide on the Disney Cruise Ship. Once they got onto the water slide, a couple of feet away from the hole in the slide, they shot it again behind them. They went flying out of the hole onto Valentine’s wave rider. Moksh was left on the cruise ship to drive it. Everyone else was on the wave rider with Valentine. Milo tackled Valentine and Cricket drove it back to the cruise ship. Moksh threw a rope and they all climbed up to the cruise ship. They locked Valentine in a room with only cauliflower and water.

The hamsters thanked the dogs for saving them. They all stayed on the ship and returned to land, only to get more food. They watched TV, explored, and played around. They never forgave Valentine, and she stayed locked up. All the other dogs and hamsters lived happily ever after.

THE END.

Alaskabama

            

FADE IN:

GRAND CENTRAL STATION – EVENING

People are clearing out at the end of the day.

Behind Great Clock. Three teens, KAYLA, ALEXANDER, and REX, are sitting on the floor talking. The boys share a room because there are only two rooms, and KAYLA, the girl, wants privacy. At night it is cold, big, and empty. The three love going to the Central Terminal and looking up at the beautiful ceiling.

CHILDHOOD HOME (Flashback)

The children’s FATHER is holding two baby boys and talking to KAYLA, who is a toddler.

FATHER

Your mom is dead.

REX

Daddy, I just went poopy.

FATHER

Ugh. (FATHER tries to change diaper, but fails and storms out of the room while REX starts crying. He gives them to the cities orphanage.)

ORPHANAGE STEPS

(FATHER leaves children on steps.)

INSIDE ORPHANAGE (Four Years Later)

ALEXANDER hides a jelly bomb and it explodes all over the teacher. After, all three of them were purposefully left on a field trip to the Grand Central Station.

HELPER

You guys wait here. We’ll be back to get you in a few minutes.

TWENTY MINUTES LATER

ALEXANDER

Where are they?

KAYLA

You dumbo, they left us!

KAYLA’S ROOM

KAYLA is changing in one of the rooms. This room is the smaller one, and also the one that has the great big clock. On the right side of what they call the bed there is the door. KAYLA has her back turned to it when she hears a sound of footsteps. She turns around just in time to see the boys walking in. This is what happens.

KAYLA

GET OUT OF MY ROOM YOU BOYS, I’M CHANGING!

REX

Sorry, we didn’t know.

KAYLA

Yes you did.

REX

No.

KAYLA

Yes.

REX

No.

KAYLA

Yes.

Meanwhile, ALEXANDER is hiding a jelly bomb in her closet, the same type he had set off in the orphanage. KAYLA smells it and storms into the closet but it still explodes all over her and the boys run out.

CUT TO: KAYLA, REX, and ALEXANDER sitting on the floor, thinking. After about 13min and 30sec. a newspaper flies in.

REX

What’s this?

KAYLA

It’s a newspaper.

ALEXANDER

Know your facts.

KAYLA

See? Even Alexander knows what it is, and he’s do ––

ALEXANDER

Don’t say it. I’m working on it.

KAYLA

No, you’re working on jelly bombs.

ALEXANDER

Whatever.

KAYLA

Anyway back to the newspaper, look at this. It says Alaska wants to be first in the United States alphabetical order, so it’s started a war with Alabama. It also says that the war won’t start for another month but they are still recruiting more soldiers and the families are missing their dads and husbands. But no other states are affected by this.

REX

Guys, this might be our chance to make peace, and if we do, we will be famous and get rich.

ALEXANDER

I’ll get a car and a cotton candy machine.

REX

Let’s buy a mansion.

(KAYLA ushers the boys into their room. In their room, the two boys lay on the floor with one blanket each. They talk thoughtfully.)

NARRATOR (V.O.)

That night the boys were thinking thoughtfully, as they rarely do.

ALEXANDER

Kayla didn’t look happy today.

REX

Well, we did do some mean stuff.

ALEXANDER

We always act like that.

REX

I guess she is getting tired of it.

ALEXANDER

Do you think if we listened to her, she would have good ideas?

REX

Maybe, but I was getting tired.

ALEXANDER

We should treat her better.

CUT TO: KAYLA’S ROOM. KAYLA lies in her room, thinking about the same reason as her brothers.

KAYLA

We used to have fun together, but now all we do is yell and have arguments. I wish Dad was here. He would help, but they don’t appreciate Dad just because they don’t remember him.

CUT TO: The next day. KAYLA, REX, and ALEXANDER sit in the boys room.

KAYLA

Where’d you guys get that cake we had for breakfast anyway?

FLASHBACK TO: That morning. ALEXANDER and REX grab a cake that was dropped by a little girl who started crying when her mom stated that she could not pick it up because it had fallen.

REX AND ALEXANDER

Nowhere.

KAYLA

Oh really?

REX

Okay fine, we saw the girl drop it and we picked it up.

KAYLA

At least it was good. Okay, let’s stop talking about cake, and start talking about the war.

ALEXANDER

You started talking about cake.

KAYLA

No one needs to know that. How are we going to stop the war?

ALEXANDER

We could go in groups.

KAYLA

Wow, you have been getting smarter.

REX

No, you haven’t.

ALEXANDER

Yes, I have.

REX

No.

ALEXANDER

Yes.

KAYLA

STOP ARGUING, that’s all we do. I don’t like it.

REX

You are right, we used to laugh and have fun. I was thinking about that last night.

KAYLA

Me too!

REX

I guess we are siblings.

KAYLA

You doubted that?

REX

Well, no.

(REX, KAYLA, and ALEXANDER all laugh like they used to.)

CUT TO: INSIDE OF KAYLA, REX, and ALEXANDER, where a small bubble pops.

NARRATOR (V.O.)

Inside each of the kids, a bubble pops, the one that had been waiting for this moment.

CUT TO: KAYLA, ALEXANDER, and REX crawling through the vent to get to the CENTRAL TERMINAL to look for lunch.

ALEXANDER

We need to make this bigger. It was fine when we were little.

KAYLA

Exactly.

REX

Look, a train to Alabama leaves in 30 minutes and I have a good plan. Listen. Kayla could take that train and talk with the governor of Alabama ask him to change the name from Alabama to Alaskabama, meanwhile Alexander and I will be in Alaska doing the same, and maybe make a compromise.

KAYLA

Great, let’s get some food so I can get on the train.

ALEXANDER

Look, a man. His paper bag has ripped. Let’s see what’s dropping from it.

THE TRAIN

Narrator (V.O.)

After having had a not-so-delicious breakfast Kayla was sitting on the train, minding her own business.

CONDUCTOR

This stop is Savannah, Georgia.

On the train, a few people get on but one that doesn’t fit in it is a man, about seven feet tall, and looking mad, very mad. He is bald and has ginormous hands. KAYLA is sitting in one of the two seaters and he decides to sit right next to her. He breathes heavily and his breath doesn’t smell good.

CUT TO: KAYLA daydreams about moving or staying where she is.

CUT TO: KAYLA gets up and moves.

MAN

Why did you move away from me? I am now the boss here, so you must do as I say. Ahh, this feels so nice. I have always wanted to be the head of something and order people around.

KAYLA

Well I’m sorry, but I don’t think that has come true.

(The MAN is close to hitting her but she ducks just in time. The next stop is coming up.)

We can push him off the train, but you guys have to help me.

PEOPLE IN CROWD

Okay.

CONDUCTOR

This stop is Louisiana.

When the doors open, PEOPLE IN CROWD use all their might to push him out.

CUT TO: KAYLA in the GOVERNOR’S OFFICE.

GOVERNOR

Go, quick, I have a meeting in five minutes to talk about battle strategies for the war.

KAYLA

Only five minutes to change his mind, this will be fun.

GOVERNOR

What do you want?

KAYLA

I want to stop the war.

GOVERNOR

We didn’t start it.

KAYLA

I know that, but you could change your name to Alaskabama and they could too so you would both be first.

GOVERNOR

But we were supposed to be first in the first place.

KAYLA

And there was not supposed to be a war.

GOVERNOR

Fine. CANCEL THE MEETING. I WANT ANOTHER MEETING TO CHANGE THE NAME OF THIS STATE.

KAYLA

Wow, that was easy.

In the CENTRAL TERMINAL, ALEXANDER and REX are asking when the next time an Alaska train is leaving. It is crowded, about midday, and a MAN comes up. It is the same man who was on KAYLA’S train.

MAN

Move it.

ALEXANDER

No, we are staying right where we are.

MAN

Suites me, but I don’t think you will be standing.

REX

Whoa, them’s fighting words.

(The MAN starts to punch ALEXANDER but he catches the punch and pushes it away from them.)

REX

Wow, I didn’t know you could do that.

ALEXANDER

Neither did I.

CUT TO: REX and ALEXANDER at THE HARBOR

REX

Look, a sail boat. We could sneak onto that.

ALEXANDER

But on a big boat, it would be hard to catch us.

REX

Exactly. On the sailboat, no one will be there to catch.

ALEXANDER

Ohhh.

ON BOAT

REX

I will die if I don’t get food soon.

ALEXANDER

Same here.

ALASKA’S GOVERNOR’S HOUSE

We see REX and ALEXANDER eating at a dinner table.

REX

We want to stop the war!

GOVERNOR

I know, you’ve said that a million times.

ALEXANDER

Who gave you the idea of the war or did you just think of it?

GOVERNOR

Oh. A seven-foot-tall man who had ginormous hands and was bald told me I should do the war.

REX

That man loves violence, doesn’t he?

ALEXANDER

He sure does, but we need to find him!

REX

Last time we saw him, he was in the Grand Central Station. He couldn’t have gone far.

GOVERNOR

I can call Grand Central! They’ll give me the security camera footage.

ALEXANDER

Really???

REX

Yeah, he’s the governor!

GOVERNOR

(Meanwhile, the GOVERNOR is on the phone asking for the security cameras from the head of the station. On screen, we see the GOVERNOR on one side and TODD on the other.) (On telephone) Hello Todd! How is life running Grand Central Station?

TODD

Oh, great. Can I do you a favor?

GOVERNOR

Can you give me the security cameras from two days ago?

TODD

Anytime. I’ll send them right over.

(TODD and the GOVERNOR hang up.)

CUT TO: REX, ALEXANDER, and the GOVERNOR sitting around the television watching the footage.

REX

Oh look! There we are. And he’s coming over.

ALEXANDER

Watch my amazing fighting skills.

REX

Hey where is he going? It looks like to track four! What’s leaving from track four?

ALEXANDER

The train to go to Alaska. Oh no! He’s coming!

MAN

(Suddenly, the door creaks open and they hear the MAN walk in.) What are you kids doing?

REX

We’re stopping the war that you started.

ALEXANDER

(As the MAN and the boys talk, the GOVERNOR begins to slowly creep out of the room but ALEXANDER grabs him.) No! You agreed to this. You’re staying. (ALEXANDER turns his attention to the MAN.) Why do you like violence anyway?

MAN

That’s all my mother and my father did. I was given away to the orphanage because my parents couldn’t take care of me anymore.

ALEXANDER

But shouldn’t that make you against violence? We’re orphans too, and we’re definitely against violence because that’s how our mom died.

MAN

I guess I don’t know what I was thinking.

REX

Well, could you help us stop the war?

MAN

Sure! What could I do?

(Suddenly, the door opens again and KAYLA comes in.)   

KAYLA

We have to change this state’s name to Alaskabama!

GOVERNOR

But why?

KAYLA

Because Alabama’s doing it and that’s the only way you guys will be tied for first.

GOVERNOR

Okay, I’ll set up a meeting.

MAN

I want to do something to help!

GOVERNOR

Why don’t you come to the meeting?

KAYLA

What about us? Could we come?

GOVERNOR

The more, the better!

KAYLA

Alright! Where is it?

GOVERNOR

(GOVERNOR pulls over ALEXANDER to the side.) Who is that?

ALEXANDER

Oh! Our sister.

GOVERNOR

Do you guys have some place to go to, or do you want to stay here?

KAYLA

Oh, we’ll stay here.

CUT TO: AT THE MEETING

GOVERNOR

So the decision is decided! We are changing the state to  Alaskabama!  

CUT TO: BEHIND THE CLOCK
ALEXANDER, REX, and KAYLA are back at home, hanging out.

KAYLA

What an adventure that was!

REX

I know! Some people do that every day.

ALEXANDER

I really don’t believe that.

KAYLA

Me neither.

REX

I know. Because it’s a lie.

(They all laugh.)

FADE OUT

THE END

Sandy Kayla

Chapter 1

It had been raining for weeks. At least, that’s what it felt like to Sandy. It had actually been raining for two days straight, and for Sandy, that was unacceptable. Especially on a weekend.

“What are you supposed to do in the rain?” she wondered. She spoke that aloud. “What are you supposed to do?” She stared gloomily out the window of her bedroom. She knew that other kids would probably be watching TV, but Sandy hated TV. When she looked at that screen of death, her eyes hurt like fire. Why would you want to watch something that you could act out yourself?

“Be quiet.” Sandy’s older sister Eliza’s snap from the other room jolted her back to reality. “I’m trying to text.”

Sandy saw that her 3-year-old brother, Dennis, was crying, yet he was still asleep. They shared a room, and she hated it.

“Be quiet, little brother,” she moaned.

“Sandy!” Her mother scolded, running into the room to comfort Dennis. “Denny has a name.”

“I know,” she admitted. “But at this time, I don’t like to use it.”

“Cassandra,” her mother sighed.

“Sandy,” she immediately corrected.

Her mother sighed again. “Just, please, Sandy, try to get along with your family.” Sandy could hear her dad snoring and she shook her head.

“It’s not possible.”

Before her mother could answer, Sandy pushed her way out the door and down the stairs to the basement. The basement was a comfort to Sandy. It was the only place that Dennis wouldn’t follow her to, the only place where Dennis’s cries were drowned out. It was the only place that Eliza would not bother her about her texting. It was the only place that Sandy could be alone on a rainy day. But only on a rainy day. Any other day, it was time to play outside. However, Sandy’s mom never allowed anyone to play in the rain (and she was still shaky about snow). She hated if anything in the house got wet. In the wintertime, Sandy and her siblings had to shake out their snow on the front porch before getting hot chocolate.

For Sandy, the rain was nothing. When she ran and played in the rain and snow, she felt nothing, only joy.

For Sandy, she always had to be doing something. And so she decided to search the basement, every corner, every box, every hole, for something to do. An adventure.

“But how do you search for an adventure inside?” Sandy wondered aloud.

“Do you always ask for help before you try?” The voice slipped through Sandy’s ears and rang in her head. The voice was like honey; however, she knew that even if you put honey on a rock, it’s still a rock. Sweet, but firm, and it made you swallow it with resentment. Sandy could easily picture the person’s voice as a honey-covered rock. Or, honey-covered rocks. The voice was like a chorus, with many voices singing in harmony.

“Are you one of my mother’s friends?” she asked suspiciously.

“Me, I am everyone’s friend,” the person said happily.

Sandy bit her nails and wondered if it was a mistake that she left the light off. “Show me your face,” she demanded.

“I will,” the person said. The light clicked on and Sandy screamed.

“What are you?” Sandy screamed, scrambling backwards. She tripped on her feet and fell onto her butt.

The girl (was it even a girl?) had purple skin, 3 ears, 16 arms, with 2 hands on each arm, 5 eyes, 2 noses, 7 mouths, 20 legs with 3 toes, and finally, wild blue hair.

“I do not know the meaning of your words.” All 7 mouths spoke at once.

“You’re not human,” Sandy concluded. “Are you from another planet? I come in peace!”

“Oh,” she nodded. “I come from the planet Qazxcvbnhgfdertyhjk.”

“What?” Sandy said.

“I said, I come from the planet Qazxcvbnhgfdertyhjk,” she repeated. “And I am Kliuhfhntfhszjmdgbhedxhnmghuk.”

Sandy sighed. “I should have known that this would never come easy to me, like everything else in this world.”

“In the language of the Earthians, I am Kayla, from planet Oba-Snorkel,” she explained.

“Get out!” Sandy shouted. She jumped up and put her fist up as if she were going to fight. “GET. OUT.”

“Why?” Kayla asked sweetly. “I bring you adventure.”

Sandy lowered her fists, and then put them back in fighting position again. “How do you know that I can trust you?”

“Because I am your only chance…” Kayla began to fade away.

“Good riddance,” Sandy thought. But one part of her felt the urge to go with Kayla. There’s nothing else to do, it said. She’s your only chance for an adventure. Sandy sighed, realizing that it was right. She had to go with this strange creature or else she would be stuck in the basement doing nothing.

“Wait!” Sandy shouted. “I want to go with you!”

Sandy grabbed Kayla’s hand. She felt like she was being ripped apart, slowly, part by part, piece by piece… everything was white… there was nothing… nothing…

“Sandy… what is this?”

“Denny’s voice,” Sandy thought. Then she realized in horror what she had just said. Denny’s voice!

“Dennis! Why, why, WHY do you have to follow me?” Sandy shouted.

“Because…”

All the pieces, all the parts of Sandy came back, and she wasn’t in the whiteness anymore. She was in a dark, dark world, with fire blazing the sky. No one was around but her and her brother. She felt clinging on her leg. She shook Dennis off.

“Mom and Dad are going to kill me for bringing you along,” Sandy moaned. “Why can’t you just stay at home, little brother?”

“I wike ‘venture, too,” Dennis said in his defense.

“Ugh,” Sandy groaned. To herself, she muttered, “I hate little brothers.” Dennis started to cry. “Oh, um, I didn’t meant it,” Sandy said quickly.  “I don’t hate you.” Dennis cried even more. “Please stop,” she said kindly. Dennis didn’t stop. Sandy sighed and picked up her brother. “Come on, stop,” Sandy pleaded. “That’s not how you start an adventure.”

Dennis stopped crying. Kayla appeared behind him.

“You Earthlings are getting along. Good,” Kayla said happily. She looked up at the sky. “I could say the same, I wish, for the sky.”

“What happened to the sky?” Sandy asked. Dennis whimpered and hid behind Sandy’s back.

“Sky no goodie,” Dennis whimpered. “Sky bad.”

“Glornorks are the cause,” Kayla whispered. “Vicious monsters, they are. When there are a lot in one place, fire becomes the sky. They hate us, yes.”

“Hate is bad,” Dennis said.

“But our adventure in not that,” Kayla said quickly. “That is not for you, no.” She took Dennis’s hand. “Come along, child.” She waved at Sandy. “Let’s go, yes?”

“No.” Sandy stood tall. “I’m going to fix the glornorks problem.” For some reason, Sandy couldn’t stand to see the fire filled sky, the scorched ground, the dark, dark world. She felt she needed to help…but why? She had just met Kayla.

Kayla threw back her head and laughed. “You’re kidding, yes?”

“No,” Sandy said darkly. “I will succeed.”

Chapter 2

Kayla, shaking her head, led them out of that empty place and to a village of huts. Huts with scorched roofs. Vendors were set in the center of the town. There was a small well in the middle of all the vendors. Little aliens played about, and everyone looked somewhat like Kayla, except some had turqoise skin and others had pink hair. Sandy shuddered. One alien was enough, in Sandy’s opinion.

“Come, earthlings, I will lead you to my home,” Kayla said cheerfully.

Dennis’s pudgy hand was suddenly not in Sandy’s hand anymore. She turned to see Dennis playing tag with two little…

“Are they called kids or…” she wondered aloud.

“No,” Kayla said seriously. “A goat’s babies, they are not, yes?” She held her sides as she chuckled at her own joke. Sandy rolled her eyes and ran to Dennis and pulled on his chubby arm.

“Let’s go!” she snapped. Dennis looked up at her with his big bulging eyes, tears forming. Sandy sighed. “Please, let’s go.”

Dennis waved goodbye to his new friends. “Bye, Sassoona! Bye Momo!” Sandy dragged Dennis over to where Kayla was.

Dennis!” Sandy hissed. “Who knows what kind of alien germs those kids have?”

“No germies, Sanny,” Dennis assured her.

Shh,” Sandy whispered. “Kayla could get offended.”

“No secrets!” Dennis shouted. Sandy hastily put a finger to her lips.

“Our destination we have reached,” Kayla shouted.

Dennis clapped his hands together excitedly and ran inside the hut, forgetting all about their argument. Kayla ran into the hut as well. Sandy walked in calmly. There were four rooms: two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen/eating area. A little boy pranced out of one of the bedrooms. Kayla scooped him up. “Roger, say hi to the earthlings, yes?”

“No,” Roger pouted. Kayla sighed and set him down. “Cooperative, Roger is not very,” she told her.

“BE QUIET, I’M TRYING TO LISTEN TO MUSIC!” The loud yell of a teenage girl made Sandy jump and think of Eliza.

“Ugh, Talia is so annoying,” Kayla whispered to Sandy.

“I CAN HEAR YOU, YOU LITTLE NITWIT!” Talia screamed, music blaring from the bedroom.

Boom, boom. Ba-ba boom, boom. Choca, choca. Chicka, chicka. Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba boom.

Kayla rolled her eyes. “Usually, Dad is here,” she said. “But he’s been gone lately a lot.” She dropped to her knees, feeling the dirt floor.

“What are you looking for?” Roger asked, turning around.

“Nothing, keep playing,” Kayla said hastily.

Roger shrugged. “Go hide,” he told Dennis. And then he began counting.

Ma, bé, see, lu, ca, ni, nu, la…

“Found it!” Kayla shouted. She glanced at Roger, who was staring at her oddly. “I mean, I found a dust crocodile!”

“You’re weird,” Roger said, and kept counting.

Kayla waved Sandy over to a small door. She lifted it, grunting as she did so. Roger had ran off, looking for Dennis. When she opened the door, there was a compartment with bottles and paper. Kayla thrust her hand into it and came up with a bottle in her hand labeled “Grandpa.” She poured the entire bottle onto three pieces of paper and started muttering a chant. Sandy could barely hear but she could just make out this:

“Ana benee lo

Con sa bùta

Men oo yatee

Con sa la ta bee tha

Men tee ta

Con a loo

Menta

Comalay”

And then, an old alien’s face appeared on the paper. “Kayla, is this an emergency?”

“Yes, Grandpa, a dire emergency,” Kayla assured him. “How to defeat the glornorks, I need to know.”

Kayla’s grandpa laughed so much that tears rolled down his cheeks. “Kayla, you’re funny! Now what’s the real emergency? And where’s your father, by the way?”

Kayla sighed and looked at Sandy as if to say, “See what I have to do now?”

“The real emergency, that is, Grandpa John,” Kayla said. “And Dad is…not here.”

John stopped laughing. “Kayla, the joke is over.”

“A joke, it is not!” Kayla insisted.

“Kayla,” John sighed. “Stop, okay? Stop. multiple people have tried to defeat the glornorks. They all failed.”

“Oh, Grandpa, please,” Kayla pleaded.

“I’m not putting my granddaughter in danger,” John said firmly.

“Please,” Kayla asked. “For me, and my friend Sandy.”

“Sandy,” John muttered. His mouth turned into a big O. “Show her to me.”

Kayla moved the paper into Sandy’s lap. It felt warm. John’s eyes turned huge. “She is here!”

“Huh?” Sandy’s face scrunched up in confusion.

“There is a prophecy that told of a human girl who would come to Oba-Snorkel and save the planet from their crisis.” He took a big breath. “You are that human girl.”

“What?” Sandy screamed. Her voice was down to a whisper now. “That’s not true, I’m not good enough to be a savior.” She sighed loudly. “Ugh, all the responsibilities.”

Kayla took back the paper and exchanged a rapid fire conversation in the language Kayla spoke naturally. Then, Kayla turned to Sandy. “Come. The way, I know.”

“What about Dennis?” Sandy asked uneasily.

“Too dangerous, it is, for a little kid,” Kayla said, shaking her head. Kayla tapped the side of her forehead, then shook her head. “Said Grandpa that when you defeat the glornorks, home, all humans will go.”

Sandy let out a breath of relief. Dennis would be safe and (most importantly) he wouldn’t follow her.

“First, the Kanooky Pits of Menniti-Lalo, we must go,” Kayla declared. She put the potion and the papers back into the compartment and led Sandy out the door. Kayla pointed to the left. “That way, the Kanooky Pits are.” Kayla pursed her lips. “Let us hope no tourists there are. You see, the burning coldness and freezing hotness mix is an attraction of tourists coming from other planets. It is like a, what do you humans call it? Oh, a pool, yes?”

“Yes,” Sandy muttered. She hoped that the “freezing hotness” was not so, well, hot. They went to the center of town where all the vendors were. They were shouting their prices trying to drown out everyone.

“Abalabas! Only la beniciis!” “Menalos, menalos, menalos! Ca beniciis!”

“DELABOTOES! BÉ BENICIIS!”

Kayla walked right past all of the vendors to the well.

“Where you going this time, Kay?” A vendor asked.

“The Kanooky Pits, Papa,” Kayla answered. Then, her face scrunched up in confusion. “Papa, you don’t work as a fruit vendor.”

Kayla’s dad dismissed the accusation. “I thought you hated the Kanooky Pits.”

“Sandy wanted to see them,” Kayla lied. Kayla’s dad didn’t even look at Sandy. “Have fun.”

Kayla jumped into the well. “Jump, Sandy!”

Sandy looked uneasily down the well. “I’m not fit enough to.” Suddenly, there was a big gust of wind. It started to pull Sandy into the well. She clung desperately to the side of the well. She turned around to find Kayla’s dad holding a flute.

“Good luck with the glornorks,” he said.

“How did you–” Her fingers were suddenly pried from the well and she was falling…falling.

Chapter Three

And suddenly, she was at an entrance to a…theme park. There was a huge gate with a sign that said The Pits Park on top of it. Kayla was waiting by the gate.

“Quick, you took, for beginner,” Kayla observed. “Most newcomers take 1 hour or more. 10 minutes, you take. Usually, Papa would go with me, yes, but he has more important thing to do, obviously.” Her gaze averted to the floor, then she pulled Sandy’s arm. “Come, before a line there is!”

She started to run, dragging a reluctant Sandy behind her. “You wanted this,” Sandy told herself. “You’re going to have to deal with the Kanooky Pits, no matter how hot or cold it is.” Sandy sighed, realizing that she was right.

They came to a zig-zaggy line of belts connected between stanchions. “Control the line, is their purpose,” Kayla told Sandy. Sandy shivered, realizing that no one was in the line. They would have to go now. They ran through the zigzag line until they reached the front.

“Two Kanooky Pit Sensations, please,” Kayla said to the security guard.

He held out his hand. “Ten beniciis, miss.”

Kayla placed two coins in his hands and walked right past him. The coins were changing color in his hand. Sandy ran to catch up with her.

“What kind of metal is that?” Sandy asked.

“Menthalinee,” Kayla replied. “From planet Gagalooka. It’s stronger than your puny titanium. Almost unbreakable.” They stopped in front of two lava pits.

Not lava, Sandy thought. Kanooky.

It was orange-ish red, with blue running through it. When its bubbles would pop, it would spray purple liquid. “Kolani,” Kayla said of the purple liquid. “Healing powers, it has.” Then, she jumped into one of the pits. “Come on,” she shouted. “It feels good” Sandy sighed and looked uneasily at the Kanooky Pit. She closed her eyes, then jumped in.

Hot. The first sensation. Hot, hot, hot. Hotter than man could explain. She could feel herself sweating, blisters forming on her skin. “How am I still alive?” She thought. And then, the hotness went away and coldness seeped into her body. She relaxed, then immediately began to shiver wildly. She ran her hands up and down her arms, trying to create warmth. Through her suffering, she heard Kayla say something to the guard:

“Asmanté.”

And then she was pulled under. She fought and fought her way, trying to reach the surface, but whatever was pulling her would not let go. So she went limp and let it pull her under. She held her breath, determined not to die. Her face was turning red from her holding her breath so much. She had to get to the top, had to find air…

She stopped holding her breath and found that she could breathe. Grasping the wonderful air into her dry lungs, she was pulled deeper and deeper…

She appeared in a cave, right next to Kayla. “The Asmanté Caves, this is,” Kayla said. “The main lair of the glornorks.” Sandy shivered, and looked over her shoulder.

“We have to stay very quiet,” Kayla whispered.

Sandy bit her fingernails, and fretted. I’m not good enough, she thought. What was I thinking? I can’t defeat the glornorks.

“I can’t defeat the glornorks,” she said aloud. “I can’t, I can’t, I can’t!” Kayla put her finger to her lips frantically but it was too late. The glornorks were already there. The glornorks were big, pale purple blobs, with red eyes. They reeked of onions, and made strange gargling noises. They formed a circle around Sandy and Kayla, shouting strange words, holding razor sharp blades. Kayla and Sandy moved closer together as the glornorks made the circle tighter and tighter…

Kayla gasped. “Dad?”

Kayla’s dad stepped out of the crowd, wearing a feather crown. “Hello, dear.”

“Why?” Kayla dropped to her knees and put her head in her hands. “Why?”

“I really wish you hadn’t gone looking for trouble,” Kayla’s dad said. His eyes turned red. Kayla quietly cried.

“How are you a glornork?” Sandy asked in disbelief.

“Kayla’s grandfather is not my real father,” he sneered. “He was a ridiculous fake father.” He lead one of the glornorks to the middle of the circle. “This is my father.” His father was a short glornork, with gray hair.

Kayla kept crying.

“I waited for the right moment to strike at my village as I did all the other ones,” he continued. “Now was the right time, I guess, since Kayla was all entranced by her grandfather’s silly prophecy.” He put his face right into Sandy’s. “How does it feel to be a failure?” He threw back his head and cackled evilly, morphing into a glornork.

The glornorks came closer and closer, led by Kayla’s dad…

Suddenly, Sandy felt something she had never felt before. It surged through her bones, and strengthened her body. She felt power in her lungs.

Confidence. It was confidence. A beautiful feeling she had never felt.

She began to shake. She shook with power with confidence. She got on her hands and knees and her whole body shook.

“Sandy?” Kayla asked timidly.

Sandy heard nothing. She shook and shook and then, BOOM! She wasn’t herself. There was light, powerful light, coming out of her. She was in the air, and she burst out of the cave, practically touching the fire sky. And then, there was a white light. Only light. Just white light.

And then, she and her brother were back in the basement. Sandy’s eyes filled with tears as she thought of Kayla.

“I’m so sorry, Kayla,” she said.

Knock knock knock knock.

“SANDY!” Eliza screeched from the other side of the door. “IT”S SUNNY OUTSIDE, MOM TOLD ME TO TELL YOU THAT. NOW I’M MAD YOU INTERRUPTED MY TEXTING,” Sandy heard Eliza shout. “YOU’RE SO ANNOYING”

Sandy grabbed Dennis’s hand and ran outside to the backyard. Eliza was sitting on a beach chair, texting. Dennis was standing next to Sandy, with his arms crossed, just like Sandy was doing. Sandy sighed. “Some things never change,” she thought. And she smiled. Somehow, she liked it that way.

Humans and Food, Finally Together

       

Act I

Scene I

CARLOS, a ten-year-old boy, and JAKE, a teenage banana, are in the kitchen. CARLOS is standing next to the counter that JAKE is sitting on. JAKE doesn’t realize CARLOS knows he’s alive and can hear him talk. Enter NARRATOR.

NARRATOR

If you didn’t know, humans and food have never gotten along. For years, food has struggled to get away from the humans, but never accomplished their goal. But this time, things may be different.   

Exit NARRATOR.

CARLOS (to the audience)

Every day, I see them struggle, but they don’t know I know they’re alive.

JAKE turns and whispers to a pie sitting beside him.

JAKE (annoyed)

Once again, one of us has been killed by another nasty human. We should leave this “nice” kitchen counter.

CARLOS is watching them talk.

CARLOS (talking to the audience in an inspirational voice)

Hi. I’m a ten-year-old boy, and you like food, right? Well, stop eating it. You’re just hurting families and killing them!

Enter JAKE’S MOM, a grown up banana. Her peel is half-opened, and there’s a bite taken out of her.

JAKE’S MOM

Good morning, sweetie, how are you — OOOH NOO… HELP MEEE!

JAKE (yells out)

MOM!

JAKE’S MOM

Don’t worry, sweetie. It was just one little nibble… I’ll remember you… take… care… of… the family…

She slowly closes her eyes and begins to feel weak.

JAKE’S MOM (to JAKE)

Stay safe.

She collapses and dies. JAKE begins to cry.

JAKE (to CARLOS in a brave and powerful voice)

You people WILL pay.

CARLOS (to himself)

I know I should have done something.

CARLOS’ MOM enters the kitchen.

CARLOS’ MOM (to CARLOS)

Aren’t you hungry?

She looks at another banana beside JAKE, BRITTANY the banana. She decides to take a bite of her. JAKE jumps in front of BRITTANY to sacrifice himself.

CARLOS

Mom, don’t eat that! You’ll make him ANGRY!!

(in his head)

Wait… this could be my chance to prove that I have been right all these years!

(to CARLOS’ MOM)

See, Mom? I knew they were alive! I knew they had feelings!

BRITTANY pecks JAKE on the cheek.

BRITTANY (to JAKE)

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

THE FOOD GANG enters the stage like brave gangsters: JAKE the banana, the plums, the apples, the tomatoes, the pickles, and the lettuce bomb.

THE FOOD GANG (yelling at CARLOS’ MOM)

WE TOLD YOU ALL TO NEVER BOTHER US AGAIN, BUT YOU JUST DON’T LISTEN!!

CARLOS’ MOM sees the angry FOOD GANG and tries to act casual.

CARLOS’ MOM

Don’t worry, mi hijo. They can’t hurt us. By the way, how will we survive without food?

CARLOS

Um, uh… oh, I know! WATER! DRINK AS MUCH OF IT AS YOU CAN, OKAY?

CARLOS’ MOM

Are you crazy?

CARLOS (irritated voice)

Yes, but you are too, Mother…

Enter NARRATOR.

NARRATOR

Now, as you can see, Carlos and his mom have a little problem. Obviously. Carlos is insisting on only drinking water, since it is not alive. Obviously. But his mother is right that Carlos obviously needs to eat.

Exit NARRATOR.

CARLOS

And by the way, you don’t want to become a criminal, do you?

CARLOS’ MOM

Well, no, but…

CARLOS

NO BUT’S! Now, let’s start a campaign saying, “FOOD HAS FEELINGS JUST LIKE US, SO DON’T HURT THEM!!!”

CARLOS’ MOM

Okay, okay. I DID NOT sign up for making a campaign!

CARLOS

I’ll buy you The Woman’s Times Magazine, 5TH EDITION!!!

CARLOS’ MOM

OKAY, YOU’VE CONVINCED ME. I’M YOUR MOTHER, SO NOW GIVE IT TO ME!

Act I

Scene II

JAKE and THE FOOD GANG are in the kitchen, digging a hole through the wall to escape the house.

JAKE

Okay, almost ready! Ready to escape! Continue digging up that hole!!!

CARLOS enters and sees that the foods are trying to escape. JAKE sees CARLOS and makes an angry face.

JAKE (to THE FOOD GANG)

Get ready to attack!

THE FOOD GANG runs up to CARLOS, and they get out their weapons: a grape canon, celery swords, and lettuce bombs. At first, CARLOS doesn’t realize they’re planning on attacking him and just watches them curiously. Then, he finally gets the hint.

CARLOS

Oh, please don’t attack me! I’m on your side.

The vegetables don’t listen. One of the bombs hits his head, and he falls to the ground. CARLOS’ MOM walks in.

CARLOS’ MOM

Carlos!

(to THE FOOD GANG)

Why would you do that? Don’t you know that we’re on your side?

JAKE

Why should we believe you?

CARLOS’ MOM turns the TV on the counter on. On the news is CARLOS’ new campaign to save food.

CARLOS’ MOM

This campaign was Carlos’s idea. Carlos convinced me to also help you. He’s always been on your side.

THE FOOD GANG slowly drops their weapons and then starts running toward her and CARLOS. They begin to comfort CARLOS. CARLOS lifts his head weakly.

CARLOS

It was just a mistake.

JAKE (to CARLOS)

Sorry we misunderstood you.

BRITTANY puts her arm around JAKE.

BRITTANY

You’re such a kind banana-man.

Act I

Scene III

JAKE and BRITTANY are alone on the kitchen counter, talking. Other foods are peeking out of the cabinets and baskets, spying on them.  

JAKE

I want you to hear me out.

BRITTANY

Okay, continue…

JAKE

Ever since I met you, I’ve felt like we belong together. I feel like we come from the same peel.

THE FOOD GANG spying on them begins to quietly “Ooooohhhh” and “Aaaaah” from their hiding spots. BRITTANY starts blushing.

BRITTANY

Me too.

JAKE

So I would like to ask you… would you marry me?

FOOD GANG

Ooooohhhh! Aaaaaaaah!

BRITTANY

Yes. You’re the most handsome banana on the kitchen counter.

THE FOOD GANG jumps out of their hiding spots.

FOOD GANG: Congratulations!

CARLOS pops up from behind the counter.

CARLOS

I was watching, too! Congratulations!

JAKE and BRITTANY

Were you guys spying on us?  

Everyone awkwardly laughs.

THE FOOD GANG

Nooo…

LEMON puts a wedding veil on BRITTANY’S head. JAKE’S LITTLE BANANA BROTHER hands him a Banana Tux. Wedding music begins.

CARLOS

Hooray! My first food wedding accomplished!

Dream music comes on. All of the food falls lifeless on the counter.

CARLOS

Wait. What? It was a dream all along? But I really wanted to be their friend.

He hears tiny footsteps. It sounds like they’re coming from his refrigerator. He opens the refrigerator and gasps in surprise.

Carlos

It smells like rotten eggs!

Two eggs pop out.

EGG #1

I promise it wasn’t me!

CARLOS

I knew you were real! I love you guys!

BRITTANY and JAKE stand beside him.

CARLOS

Our friendship will never change.

THE END

The King

It was cold. Cold, dark and gloomy. The day was a sad one, and no one felt that anything was right. It was as if everything was darker. No one had light in them. No one felt anything. The only thing anyone knew was the darkness. Happiness was scarce and the hope was drained. Nothing was good in the world anymore.

March 3

Nothing is better than knowing your subjects are safe. The attacks were getting worse now, and I wanted to make sure that there were peaceful nooks for the butlers and maids to hide when the cannons came into the harbor. The people who manned the cannons were obviously from the Kingdom of Delar. They were power-hungry, and always dressed in black. When I traveled there to sign a treaty, (that was obviously not working) I saw how stressed they all were. Everyone in my kingdom knows that stress brings unhappiness, and unhappiness brings suicide. No one wants to commit suicide, unless they are unhappy in life. Sometimes death is not always a bad thing, though. Sometimes death has to be there, for our own good.

My carpenters were making small rooms with big locks, preparing for the next shooting. It was every day now. Every day, the people in black came to kill me, with their big cannons. They didn’t want to kill anyone but me. Fortunately, the people wouldn’t let it happen. Thank god for the people. They stormed the boats everyday with their torches, chanting “God save the king!” And I was the one who was supposed to be protecting them. Sometimes I feel like I am not good enough for them. It’s like they are my ruler. Would the Kingdom be more successful without me? Would there be less deaths? Would the Kingdoms stop fighting against me if I were dead? Would people stop fighting for me, and live happily for once? Without me, three hundred-and-fifty-two people would have been alive right now.

That night in bed, I could not sleep. What I thought this afternoon was still in my brain. It was like a virus in my head, growing stronger and quieting other sense. I knew that eventually, it would take over my body.

March 4

At first I didn’t feel like death was a sad thing. As I pushed the blade into my heart, I started laughing. I was going insane. I was dying and I couldn’t stop it. For the sake of my subjects, for my people, I decided to approve of death, to bring it upon myself, so they would not mourn too much.

The pain was not as bad as I thought it would be. It was sort of like a feeling. When you know you are going to die, when you are dying, then you do not feel scared anymore, you don’t dread it, you just let it happen. I felt that it was easier for me to kill myself, rather than my insanity kill me. I felt that it was easier to know when death happened, rather than wait for it.

Then it happened.

April 1

I was at the wrong place at the wrong time. It was the first day of April when everyone noticed the king was missing. The guards said that they were looking everywhere for him. Where was he? I didn’t know the king, but I wouldn’t think he would run away, or be crazy enough to hide himself from the world.

Everyone said the king was an amazing man, but I felt he was a spoiled brat who didn’t do anything for himself. Once, when I was trying to compel a rich lady to give me some pie, the king came out of the castle. Everyone bowed on the ground, everyone except me. I had been dragged too many times to the docks to fight for the king. What has he done to help me? To him, I am just some thief who is doing the wrong thing. No. I am not just a thief. I am a boy who wants a life, a real life. Not just a life of sleeping on the cracked rooftops of the broken buildings of the city. I want to live in a building, not on top of it. I don’t want to grow up homeless. The king couldn’t see that though, he could only see a young crook whose only intention is to steal other people’s food, other people’s belongings.

The guards glared at me. They obviously thought I was trouble. I was the only one standing besides the king. At that moment, our eyes met. A meaning of understanding gleamed in his pupil, just as he turned away. That was the very first time the king saw me.

Now he was gone, just like that. The guards were kind of stupid, though. They looked for his body everywhere but the castle. So, so stupid. For once, I felt bad for the king. He spent so much time training his troops, yet they were so dumb.

The next move I made was the action I regretted most. It was such a bad idea to go into the castle. I hated the king. Why did I even care if he was missing? Why did I want to find him? I was just brainwashed by the guards’ stupid moves. I quietly crept through the corridors, hopeful that no guard would spot me. I assumed that the king’s room would be at the top floor of the tower, so I started up the stairs.

The massive door creaked as I pushed it open, but no one noticed. I tiptoed around the room, searching all of the closets and under the tables. I came into another large room, that was obviously his bedroom. The quarters were huge. There were four rooms, just for the king with the all of the fanciest furniture. The bed was in fact a King sized bed, and it had regal red and gold sheets. And there, slumped on the bench at the foot of the bed, was the king, with a knife in his chest. I couldn’t believe it. I walked over to the king, and tried to pull the knife out, thinking it was fake. It wasn’t. I screamed. And then fainted.

April 2

I woke up to the smell of death. The smell of rotting dust and carcasses. The smell of bad meat. My cell was not big, but I shared it with a large man. He had short dreadlocks, and a small mustache. His dirty pants went below his ankles, but he wore no shirt. I thought that he must have been very cold, for I had a long-sleeved shirt on, and I was still freezing. If he was cold, he didn’t show it. He was screaming through the bars of our cell. At first, I didn’t understand what he was saying. Then, as I shuffled a bit closer, and became more awake, I realized why I was here.

“I didn’t kill the king!” the man shouted. “I owe every single moment of my life to the king! I would never do anything to hurt him!”

I couldn’t believe my ears. I found his dead body, I did them a favor. Did they seriously think I killed him? I didn’t kill the king.

April 3

The next day were the trials. I was thrown into a big truck with three other men, who were bigger and obviously stronger than me. A large mob followed the truck to our destination, and I was pelted with carrots and potatoes.

I was thrown onto a tall stage, still being bombarded with vegetables. I couldn’t understand why they thought I killed the king.

A jury was set up on both sides of me, and judge was in front. He called the session into order. “I would like to start by asking you some questions,” he said. “First of all, did you kill the king?”

“No. I am innocent,” I said, trying to keep my voice under control.

“Well, what is your alibi for the date of April first?”

What would I tell them? The truth would be too obvious. “I was, uh, visiting someone,” I said, hoping that they wouldn’t see that I was lying.

“Then why, sir, was your body found next to the king when he was found dead. And why were your fingerprints all over the knife that was in the king’s body? You, sir, are not innocent.”

I couldn’t believe it. I really couldn’t believe it. I felt like a million bricks had fallen on my shoulders. I didn’t do anything, but I was going to die. I would die, because I was blamed for something I didn’t do. I didn’t kill the king.

April 4

They gave me two days before the stabbing. Two days. Two days of depression. Two days before death. Death is a harsh thing. It happens when the world wants you gone. It happens when you don’t like the world. It happens when it is time to happen. And then it was time.

April 5

I had never felt so depressed. All of my dreams of having a good life going to waste. Now I was going to have no life at all. They put me in chains and paraded me through the streets like a circus lion. I felt bruises being made from the food that was being thrown at me. Bruises that I would soon not feel.

As I looked around I realized why I always felt so out of place in this town. I was not a cruel person. I did not use violence to get my way. I didn’t want to hurt anyone. Then I realized, sometimes violence is necessary. If you are threatened, then you should be able to defend yourself.

I started to develop a strategy in my head. A strategy that could get me out of this awful situation. A strategy that had to involve a few lies.

I confidently stepped up to the stage, next to my assassin with a blade in her hand. I took a deep breath and spoke what were supposed to be my final words.

“People of the Kingdom, I would like to start by saying that today I am proud to die for our king. Our brave king was sick, and he died. Yes, I found him with a knife in his back, but I did not kill him,” I said, stepping up closer to the front of the stage.

“I did not kill him. He did!” I shouted, pointing at some random man in the crowd. “I saw him stab the king on April first, and I tried to stop him.” I struggled to figure out the next part. I thought I would tell a lie based on the truth.

“I tried to pull the knife away from him, and that is why my fingerprints were on the blade. Then he punched me and knocked me out.” It took a second for the people to comprehend what they just heard.

As they tackled the innocent man, I bolted off the stage and sprinted to the city. Unfortunately, the guards were too smart. They ran after me. I stopped and put my hands up.

“What do you want?” I asked them.

“Come with us,” one of them said.

“Why?”

“You still owe things to the king. Also, we need to justify that you didn’t kill him.”

I mumbled a swear word and then followed them back to the stage. Suddenly, I realized what I had just done. I just put an innocent man in my place, and now he might die. I was a monster. How could I have done such a thing? Even in a moment of panic, it is not okay to shove someone to death, innocent or not.

April 6

April 6 was the day they checked the security cameras. It was the day when I was put in jail for a day, for lying about what happened. It was the day when the innocent man slapped me five times. It was the day when they figured out who killed the king.

It all started when I was taken into the castle for a meeting with the king’s butler. The butler was the king’s best friend, and he was mourning for the loss of his comrade. No one knew why they were friends, but they were. I didn’t see how anyone could be friends with such a man, but he was. He just asked me standard questions, such as, “Did you see anything out of the ordinary where you found the king?” and “What sort of position was the king in when you found him?’” I felt bad for this man. His best friend had just died, and he was so depressed, and he had no one to blame.

Later, I went back to the sight of the crime: the king’s bedroom. The place was trashed. Books were thrown on the floor and couches were upside down. It was truly a mess. Nothing was how the king left it. Nothing, except the security cameras.

It was sort of funny how the guards were so stupid. Of course, they didn’t look in the security cameras, yet they wanted to find out who killed the king. They should have known to check the security cameras, before anything. How else were they going to find out who killed the king? Did they really care about him?

April 7

I don’t exactly remember how I got the guards to agree to check the security cameras. I probably just told the truth: they were stupid and didn’t check the security cameras before arresting people. They were about to kill me, but they hadn’t checked to confirm that I killed the king.

As we walked into the security room, I saw how unorganized this kingdom really was. I saw random computers sitting on coffee tables, the guards that were supposed to be protecting these files sleeping on the couch that was randomly in the middle of the room. I saw people’s files strewn across the floor, papers everywhere. Now I saw why the guards didn’t check the security cameras. They were too lazy to find them.

Anyway, while the guards were escorting me I fell asleep on the couch, I was the one who went through all of the computers and found the security footage from March 1st to April 1st. As I scanned it for anything odd, I noticed something peculiar. The king had been spending a lot of time staring at the white wall. I wondered what he was thinking about. Did he know that he was about to be killed? Did he know that he was going to die?

Then I reached the date of March 4, at 11:35 p.m. It really was one of the saddest things I had ever seen. He was sitting there, with a knife to his heart. And he was laughing. The crazy man was laughing.

The king was dead. He killed himself.

April 8

After I showed the guard my discovery, they were instantly stripped of their military gear. They place their hats and jackets on the ground, and they wept. Even I shed a single tear. But I did not cry because the king was dead. I cried because the king was insane. I cried because he killed himself too early. Although the shootings had stopped, this kingdom was still a mess. It was still unorganized. The king died too early.

April 9

April 9 was the day when we released the footage. April 9 was the day when all was lost. April 9 was the day when the happiness was stolen from the people. All was lost. The king was dead, and he killed himself.

But of course, the people were stupid enough to think it was their fault. It wasn’t. The king was going insane. He was not good enough for our kingdom anyway. He stayed in his castle, and didn’t talk. The schools in the kingdom were even older than him, and the living conditions were horrible. This kingdom could be amazing. We just needed a good king.

April 10

I started to think of people that we could elect as king. I started a list of possible nominees. I started with people who knew the king well. Maybe his butler? I put him down on the list. Other than that, I didn’t think anyone really knew him. Then I started to try and think of people who were completely loyal to the king. Well, every single person in the kingdom except me, I guess. Who else would be fit to be king? I though about the king’s family. Did he have any family? I made a note in my head to ask the butler about that.

As I walked to the butler’s quarters, I thought about the life of a king. They must always be tired. They have so much work piled on them, and they probably have no time to sleep. Being a king would be hard, but if the person were capable of doing all the work, then they should be able to do it. I think I would be willing to be king, but it would be really hard.

I knocked on the butlers door, and a man, who looked like he was on the king’s council opened it. He was wearing a white, silk robe, and had a magistrate hat on. He was very short, but he had a serious expression on his face.

“He’s here!” he called back over his shoulder. I was a little confused. This was not the normal way to greet someone.

“Uh, who is?” I asked stupidly. The councilor rolled his eyes, and let me into the small room. The walls were painted a light pink, and there were picture frames hanging on them. There was a small bed in the corner, it had white sheets and a large book at the foot. Standing next to the bed were the councillors, and of course the butler.

“Sir, I have taken it upon myself to tell you this news. The council has given you a choice.” He sighed. “The first choice, you can go to jail, and spend twenty year there for theft and lying to higher ranked people. Or, the second choice. You can become our king. You obviously know this kingdom better than anyone else. You are smart, and talented. You can trick people better than anyone else, and you know how the people feel.”

At that point, I was speechless. “Yes.’’ I whispered. “Yes, yes, yes. I will absolutely become king!” I couldn’t believe it. Surprise and excitement rushed through my veins.

Everyone smiled. I just hoped that the people would like me. What if I was a bad king? I would just have to try my best.

May 2

May 2nd was the day of the coronation. The whole kingdom was practically there. It was quite a festivity. There was more food than I could ever imagine. The plates of roasted meat and vegetable. And the drinks. Oh my god, they were amazing. I had never tried soda before, but it was like a sweet explosion in my mouth. It was so much better than water. The games were amazing. They were all on large shiny touch screen tablets and were really fun. I tried a few myself. The coronation was more of a party than a ceremony. At the very beginning of the party, I was crowned and had to recite a pledge, but that was all of the ceremonial things. Then we had fun. I was still very young for a king, so I could play all of the games with ease. I had never eaten so much in my life, but now I had unlimited food, drink, and fun. And work. But the work was easy if you knew how to do it. Signing reasonable treaties, and making the right changes at the right times. I had a feeling that I was going to like being king.

September 19

“And why, sir should I sign your treaty?” I asked King Jorge of the Kingdom of Delar. “Our country is so much stronger than yours, we could easily win against you in a war, and you broke the last treaty the king signed with you. You wanted to kill him. We don’t need to trade with you, nor do we need anything you have. The Kingdom is doing just fine, without your help.”

“I still don’t like how you call your region The Kingdom. It isn’t the only kingdom in the world,” he mumbled.

“Well, it’s the most important. Now sir, I don’t think this treaty is going to work. We aren’t getting anything out of this. The Kingdom is amazing, without your help,” I said sternly. Sometimes I was a little mean to other kings, but it was all for the sake of the people.

“John, will you please escort this man. I feel that he is not fit to be aligned with our country.” With that I turned back to my other work. We were building five new schools for the children of the Kingdom, fit with laptops, books, and other supplies. I felt that this was one of the more important projects of the kingdom, besides rebuilding all of the living building, of course.

I think I am king so I can make this kingdom a better place, nothing else. I do not feel the need to kill myself, like the other king decided to. For the people, I will make this kingdom amazing. For the people, I will be a good king.

The Tale of Arcaror

Koll was sitting under the eaves of a farmhouse to take shelter from the pouring rain. He heard a pathetic sound coming from a gutter and went to take a look. There was a pathetic little baby bundled up in dirty rags. Koll could hardly feed himself, but he could not leave a baby there to die. So he decided to adopt the little orphan. He called him Arcaror, which meant “Rain.”

Arcaror lay on a bed for the first time in weeks, waiting for Koll to return home from work. His adoptive father worked as a farmhand to support Arcaror and himself, but they could not afford housing. An innkeeper had been particularly generous and given them a room since business was slow. Indeed, it always was, as the planet was a very sparsely populated colony, and they were in a farming village. The innkeeper lived off the land and ran the inn as a side venture. The door swung open, and Koll limped in dejectedly. He looked much older than his usually merry self. Arcaror asked, “What’s wrong?”

“I lost my job.”

Koll explained that he would have to move to the only city nearby to find work.

It was a long journey and there were many perils along the way. But they all paled in comparison to what awaited them outside the city gates. The Ragnoils, a subspecies of Honim, feed only on Honim flesh, and their eyes burn red with the evil of their mind. A Ragnoil who lived in the city often waited outside the city gates, trying to prey on travelers. This had earned him a few meals and many a bruise, so he learned the ways of the sword and hired two “bodyguards” to assist him. When Arcaror and Koll arrived at the capital city, they found three strangers blocking their path. One carried a broadsword, but the two beefy men on either side of him were too proud for weapons. The red-eyed man with the sharp teeth grinned and yelled for the men to attack.

Koll knew these men were no joke. Their muscles could kill. He picked up a cobblestone, and with the precision of one who had once thrown stones to live, hit the bigger of the two men in the head. His companion did not stop to check if his partner was alive. He felt no remorse for the death of the man he had murdered. But it unnerved him nevertheless. He tackled Koll, bringing him to the ground. They fought viciously.  Koll’s vision blurred from the pain. Koll felt his body numbing as the big man bludgeoned him. But then it stopped and Koll could feel the pain again. After it subsided, Koll stood up and saw the man’s limp body, covered in punctures and blood. Arcaror stood, staring at a bloody spearhead. He couldn’t believe what he’d done. There was no time for guilt however, as the Ragnoil was charging at them, and his blade looked sharp.

Koll felt fear, fear worse than when his father left him in the woods as a small child. His lower body was on fire, and the world was spinning. Koll’s eyes widened in shock as he fell to the ground for the last time. Screams filled the air. Arcaror could not believe it. The man had killed his only friend in the world. He shuddered with rage. The Ragnoil was about to strike Arcaror down too, but then he noticed his red eyes. The Ragnoil remembered his half-human son. This boy looked exactly like the baby he abandoned. He felt a strange sense of guilt. Even Ragnoils weren’t monsters all the time.

That thought was interrupted by Arcaror slamming his fist into his head. The Ragnoil staggered backwards, confused. Arcaror wanted vengance. The Ragnoil would pay. He hefted a large rock over his head, and cracked his enemy’s skull. But there was no glory in killing, even a terrible cannibal. The Ragnoil explained as he died that he was Arcaror’s father and had abandoned him because he knew he could not care for a half-human. Arcaror refused to believe that this cruel creature was his father. But it made a little bit of sense. Why else would his eyes be dark red like blood? Why did he crave raw meat? Why did the religious people who saw him avoid him?  He knew why now. He was half demon. Koll had seen what Arcaror was capable of. Now he needed to talk to him one last time.

“Arcaror,” Koll mumbled with his last breaths, “Don’t kill again, unless you have to…”

Koll’s voice cracked and trailed off. Koll was gone. Arcaror buried his face in his hands, and his face was wet with tears. But Arcaror eventually left that place, and moved on. Arcaror entered the city. Everywhere there were new smells, and the city was packed with refugees from the countryside, for many crops had failed, and there were now industrial factories that attracted unskilled laborers. Smoke bellowed out of many chimneys and lamb roasted over hearths. But Arcaror noticed another thing about the city. Everyone seemed to be gathered around a large field in the middle of the city. Arcaror heard chanting and screaming. He was very curious, so he asked a vendor what was going on. The old man thought for a moment, staring into space, before replying, “Err, something about a project to fix up a crash-landed spaceship and send an astronaut into the universe. At least, that’s what the ads said. Admission is three kings. As for me, couldn’t care less. I have a stall to run.”

Arcaror was surprised. He thought that the planet was very primitive. He read a lot for someone his age, and the books he had read were all religious, meaning that they believed that the galaxy was populated by demons and pirates. Arcaror knew in his heart that he was a demon, and embraced it. He would stow away on the ship.

Arcaror ran through the crowd to where there were guards warning the people to stay back. A huge hulking behemoth of metal and fuel tanks was attached to a makeshift scaffold, and the astronaut was waving to the crowd outside the rocket. He entered the scaffolding. Arcaror didn’t have much time left. Arcaror ducked under a guard without being noticed, and ran towards the rocket. He was spotted and the guards raced after him, but he had made it to the scaffolding. Scrambling up a rusty ladder, Arcaror heard a low rumbling and the frame began to vibrate. The guards ran back as fire scorched the grass and the scaffolding started to melt. Arcaror leapt for the door and desperately tried to wrench it open. Just as it was becoming unbearably hot, the door budged. Arcaror let out a sigh of relief. He was off the planet for good.

Arcaror saw the lone astronaut hunched over his instruments. After two days of waiting, he’d grown impatient and decided to finally see space. It was dizzying, with millions of stars. And right ahead of them was a planet that glittered like a broken diamond. The planet was covered in cities and small lakes. As the rocket sailed into the atmosphere, the rocket began to burn up. “What’s happening?” shouted the astronaut.

The air defense system of the planet was firing at the ship. The ship was burning. A missile smashed into the rocket, and the engines failed. Now they were in freefall. Arcaror relished what he thought would be the last moments of his life.

The Attempt

As Annie ran and ran out of the house and into the grass field, running strenuously and becoming tired after just a couple of minutes, her grandmother lay half-conscious on the floor of her bedroom. She was swimming in a pool of alcohol as her soap opera ended, but she didn’t have the faintest idea of what Annie was doing. Annie probably thought that her grandmother wouldn’t know anything about what she was doing or where she was going and what she was hoping to accomplish, because she was intoxicated half of the time, anyways. That’s why Annie would and could never depend on her. Annie ran through the fields, ignored the animals and tractors, and instead headed towards the flowing river nearby. The river water was a pearl black color as you could see the river build up to a storming waterfall.

Annie walked around the river’s perimeter, still on the grassy field that surrounded it, and kept walking in the cold, dark night until she saw the drop where the waterfall was located. It was a steep decline in the field, as well as the water which made the horrifying sound of water plummeting from the edge, and what Annie decided to do was take her little sack of necessities of food, water, stationary, a compass, and flashlight, all of the necessities that she needed, and chucked them down toward the land surrounding the lake. Thankfully, the sack hit the grass with ease and none of her items broke or got damaged. Annie ran back, constantly looking to the side and behind her to see if her grandmother was coming for her, even though she was very far away from the house.

She then jumped into the river, fully aware that she was still in her clothes, but soon regretted the decision she had made. As she cursed under her breath, she tried to find a way to swim to the side, but water coming the opposite way stopped her from doing that. She wasn’t prepared.

The water felt cool on her skin and instantly wet her hair but her heart starting pumping as she felt herself moving along with the water, gliding gently experiencing a pure  even though it would be a good one or two minutes or so until she actually reached the waterfall.

During this time, Annie tried to look towards the side to see if she could spot her belongings to make sure no one had stolen them, but she came to the almost immediate conclusion that she wasn’t going to see from how high she was up. As she let time pass, she heard the sound of heavy water seep into her ears. She looked over and saw the exhilarating drop that was to come. All she could see was the lake below her where water was thundering into, and the loud sound of water falling the horrifying height. Slowly she closed her eyes, even though they rapidly shook over her eyelids.

And when the drop came, her body screamed with fright, wanting to swim back to the land and run back to the house, but it was too late. Her stomach dropped as if she was on a rollercoaster, and she went dizzy as she twisted around and dropped down. Her body instantly heated up over one hundred degrees. Even though the drop lasted a couple of seconds, it still felt like torture to her. Her arms went up and her body had possessed her. The forces of gravity seemed to rebel on her. She screamed for a faint second and couldn’t breathe as she was sucked into the heavy stream of water that was falling with her. The feeling felt like death, and she couldn’t bare the intensity.  Until she splashed with a loud, painful, discombobulated hit, and everything went dark.

About thirty seconds later, Annie woke up two or three feet deep into a lake and quickly moved her legs to resurface. She swam, cold and tired, yet very worried, to the surface to retrieve the sack.

When she looked inside she discovered that the bottle of water was colder and the granola bars she had packed were scattered throughout the contents of the sack, but it was still edible. Even though she was cold and her clothes were sopping wet, and she could not believe the intensity of the previous events, she threw her sack on her back and continued throughout the night into a gloomy woods, where she found a tall tree to sleep on that wasn’t home to any creatures. She climbed up branches of the tree, which were hard and grippy, and found a tall, thick branch a couple feet up that she was able to spread herself on. She used a soft spot of the sack as a pillow to lay her head on as she slowly drifted into sleep…

Annie experienced herself falling throughout her dream. The feeling of her stomach dropping, her heart pumping, and her body landing on a hard surface. While the feeling was not as intense of the plummet from the waterfall, Annie woke up shocked and screamed in fright, as a chipmunk had pushed her off of her spot on the tree and her sack, too, which fell on top of her with a bang just a couple seconds later, causing an invisible bruise on her left cheek. Annie cried and cried in fear and sadness, that in all reality, it was not possible for her to escape this little farm town and her evil grandmother. She was not able to find anybody that could take care of her. She was not able to find freedom for herself where she lived. She gave up. Maybe the girls will be nicer this year. They’ll probably be nicer or else she’ll be telling the principal and her grandmother, but in reality, she wouldn’t do much help for her.

She ran back through the forest, up through the incline where the waterfall was, her crying tremendously with her sack bouncing up and down on her back. She was so out of control she fell into the grass, getting some grass-stains and not knowing what to do with herself. She couldn’t believe it. She wanted to go to where she was home. Then, she heard a voice.

“Hey!” the voice screamed, sounding like a woman. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” Annie wailed, still in tears, her face laying flat in the grass. “Please don’t get me in trouble!” She lifted her head up and saw the woman come towards her with a flashlight.

“Oh my dear God,” the voice stated. “Aren’t you little miss Annie Walker?”

“Yes, yes, that’s me.”

“What are you doing in this part of town, huh?” the voice yelled again. “This is about twenty minutes from where you live.”

“How do you know where I live?” Annie demanded.

“I attended your family’s funeral,” the voice said. “I was good friends with your parents. They shipped a lot of chopped trees to me. Helped me out for making wood to throw in the fire.”

“What’s your name?” she asked.

“Can’t tell you that,” the voice said again. “Come inside and dry off. I’ll give you some hot tea to drink.”

“That would be very nice of you,” Annie said.

And then she entered the house. It was nice, cozy and warm. Everything seemed to be made of logs. The walls were made out of logs, the surface holding the picture frames were made out of logs. Hell, even the shower and bed were made out of logs, but the bed had a mattress with pillows on it. The house was very small, which made it feel very quaint. A man, Annie assumed it was the woman’s husband, was sitting on a couch was reading a newspaper article and complaining that none of his stocks were sold and he wasn’t able to make any profit. Things about those “damn investors” and “stockholders” although Annie didn’t know a single thing he was talking about, but she assumed it was about the Great Depression.

The woman talking to her led her to a bathroom so she could shower and she laid out some pajamas for her to change into after. The hot water felt good against her and putting the shampoo in her hair made her feel better again, even though she was tired and lazy. The pajamas were nice and soft and she instantly went back into the living room where she sat by the fireplace, and a beverage of some sorts was waiting for her.

“Turns out, I didn’t have hot tea, after all,” she said. “But instead I made you a cup of hot cocoa and marshmallows because it’s so cold outside.”

She looked inside and saw steam rising up from a brown, chocolate-smelling beverages with white balls of sugar thrown in for an extra taste. Even though it was hot, she appreciated the refreshing taste while the mallows made it extra sweet. The woman sat down next to her, looking eager to find out more about what’s happening.

“Where have you been, Annie?” she asked. “Why are you down in this part of town? Your grandmother must be worried sick.”

“Relax,” Annie pushed. “She’s drunk half the time.”

“That’s an outrage!” she exclaimed. “How does she get her alcohol?”

“She just told me she hired someone,” Annie admitted. “That’s all I know.”

“What are you doing here?” she asked.

“I need to run away,” Annie confessed. “I can’t live with my grandmother. She’s so evil and drunk. I can’t bare it. I was attempting to run away across the country to find other relatives I could settle in with. But I guess I failed.”

“Why is your grandmother so evil?”

“She’s an alcoholic!” Annie exclaimed. “She’s drunk, glued to that damned radio set, and spends all her money on illegal alcohol! We’re going poor. There’s no more good food in our house. Most of it is basically covered in mold.”

“Well, you’re safe here,” she said, and Annie took a sip of her cocoa. She finally felt warm. She finally felt safe. “Where were you planning to go?” she asked.

“Los Angeles,” Annie exclaimed. “Sunny Los Angeles. Home of Hollywood. That’s where my uncle lives. He’s the greatest man on earth! He’s so fun. I love spending time with him.”

“I’ll get you there,” she promised. “I’ll get you there.”

“Who is this lady?” the man yelled, getting up from the couch and making his way over to the woman. “What is she doing in our house so late at night.”

“George, this is Annie Walker,” the woman soothed. “She’s the daughter of the victims of the funeral we attended.”

“Oh, well, hi Annie,” the man said, as he reached out his hand for her to shake. “It’s great to finally meet you.”

“You too,” Annie said, calmly. “Thanks for letting me stay here.”

“Anytime,” the man said. “Why are you here?”

“Like I was telling your wife,” Annie started. “I’m running away from home because my parents are dead, my brother’s dead, my grandmother’s a drunk, I’m bullied at school, and I just can’t deal with my life.”

“Your grandmother’s a drunk?” the man asked. “How is that possible? It’s completely illegal.”

“She hired someone who goes to speakeasies and pays for smuggled alcohol and delivers it for her,” Annie said. “That’s all I know.”

“Where do you want to go-”

“Los Angeles,” Annie cut the man off. “Where my uncle lives. He’s the greatest guy on Earth, you know. He’s so nice to me. We go down to the beach and he buys me hand-pumped milkshakes.”

“We can get her there, can’t we, George?” the woman asks sympathetically. “Right?”

“We can get her there right now,” George says, and Annie’s hopes rise. “We have enough money for a train pass. Go get into some clothes and put on some shoes. I think we have a size that fits.”

Once Annie dressed into a long-sleeved shirt with a fur coat, she put on some boots they had that were very warm. After she took both of their hands, they confidently walked out of the door to the house. Out to the train station. Out into the night.

The Tale of the Alien and the Human

Once upon a time, there was an alien with two arms and three fingers. He was green, and had two giant eyes close to the bottom of his head and a little smile. He was two feet tall.

The alien came from Mars but he was on Earth. His language is called Oink and those of his species just say “Oink, oink, oink.” He was 2,000,003 years old – these aliens can live up to 5 million years. They sprout out of the moon when they’re born, and then they fly to Mars. This alien came to Earth in a balloon and then decided to explore. He hadn’t know that he was going to be exploring another place, nor did he know exactly what a balloon was… He thought it would take him to another place on Mars, but it actually took him to Earth. When he got to Earth, he saw that it was too green.

“Oink, oink, oink (This is too green!)!” he exclaimed, wanting to go home.

He saw a green ball and then fell on his butt. He landed in Alaska. He was seeing just green – too much green – when he saw a green ball: Earth. He saw a human!

He has five fingers! the alien thought. Why are their eyes all the way up there?? Why aren’t they green!

“Well, hello there,” said the human.

“Hello,” said the alien with a small wave.

“What are you?”

“I’m an alien. What are you?”

“I’m a human,” said the human, like it sounded obvious.

“What do you like to do?” asked the alien. He was feeling unsure if the human was nice. He noticed that the human had clothes on.

“I like eating ice cream,” said the human.

The alien excitedly replied, “Me too.”

They became friends and had a long chat about their favorite ice cream flavors.

After the human left, the alien started trying to make a plan. (The alien did not have a name, so he never thought to ask humans for their names.) He saw snow, trees, bushes, but no people. He thought he could build a sled and a slope. On his sled, he would go up the slope and off to Mars. But, the alien was pretty stupid – he didn’t realize that that wouldn’t be high enough.

Nevertheless, he built his sled with some tree bark and put some bushes on it to sleep on, because he knew it would be a long way. Then, he shaped the snow into a big slope. It took a week.

“This is going to work!” he said.

He ran and jumped onto his sled, and went up the slope. Then he slid back down, tumbled off his sled and fell on his head. He crossed his arms and frowned and said, “humph.”

If he couldn’t make it back to Mars, he would never see his family and friends again. So, he went into the forest. His new plan was to climb the tree and make a spring board. He thought he could make it out of two flat pieces of wood and a few twigs for the springs.

When he finished making the springboard, he tried it. The twigs immediately broke, so he tried to find stronger ones. Once he was done with that he tried it again, but he was thinking so much about how to prevent the twigs from breaking that his contraption didn’t even spring. He only got one inch off the ground.

So, he brought the springboard to the top of the tallest tree and then set it up in the middle. It fell through slightly, but he didn’t notice. He jumped on the springboard and it sank even lower… and fell out the tree. Because the alien picked the tallest tree, he had a longer drop.

He landed on his back. His whole butt turned purple. He was tired, so he went to sleep. Then, when he woke up, he saw the same human! He immediately went to greet the him. “Hello there, again. Good morning. Why are you here?” asked the alien.

“I went camping and I’m going back home. What have you been doing?”

“I have been trying to get back to Mars.”

“I wonder when the next rocket ship is going up to Mars. Oh, wait – I read in the newspaper that there’s a rocket ship going to Mars in a month!”

“Oh, wonderful, wonderful, wonderful news!”

The human called the police. “This alien needs to get back to his home planet, Mars. I heard that there’s a rocket ship going there sometime soon and was wondering if this alien could use it to get home,” said the human.

The police came. The officer said, “Okay, I will let the rocket ship people know that there will be an alien aboard the rocket.”

***

The alien was at the airport – he was going to Disney World to have fun and explore before the month was up and he had to leave. He had heard about Disney World from the human and thought it sounded like fun. The alien boarded the plane and got a lot of snacks. On the plane, the flight attendants sold jalapenos, and because he didn’t know what they were, he decided to try some. Then he freaked out because they were so hot. He stuck out his tongue and tried to breathe fire. The woman next to him said, “dairy helps.”

So, he bought some milk and drank it, which helped. Soon, the plane ride was over and the alien got off the plane. He bought dinner at the airport, checked in to his hotel, put down all his bags, and went to Disney World.   

He saw a lot of rides and parking lots, cotton candy, and ticket booths. First, he went to the ticket booth. When he reached the front of the line, he got 85 tickets and went to see what rides there were. He got in line to see the Disney Princesses, but he didn’t know what they were so he didn’t know what to say to them. Once it was his turn, he had figured out what the activity was about: there were a bunch of ladies dressed in fancy dresses named Cinderella, Snow White, and Belle. He thought it was pretty boring, so he left.

Then, he saw a big castle. A bunch of the towers were blue, but the rest of the structure was white. There was one gigantic tower in the middle, and the castle was humongous.

“Ooo, aaahhh,” he said.

It felt kind of weird because he was only two feet tall and the castle looked like it was five billion feet tall. He had never seen a building so tall, since there were not any on Mars. He went into the castle, and again he said, “Ooo, aaahhh.” He walked through it and went on a couple of other rides, and then he went back to his hotel to get some sleep.

***

After he had woken, he went to a diner to eat brunch. He ordered a bagel and cream cheese with sprinkles and ketchup on top. Then, he saw the mustard and decided to put that on too.

“I wonder if my fellow aliens have noticed that I’m gone,” he said. He missed them, but he didn’t notice because he was having so much fun.

When he was done, he left the restaurant. He went upstairs to his room to watch TV, but found it very boring because he couldn’t figure out how to turn it on. He then went to the garden and sniffed the air. It smelled like flowers for some odd reason, and he didn’t know why. It looked very different from mars.

“Earth doesn’t make sense. Why does it smell like flowers randomly? Mars makes sense. But Earth doesn’t.”

Mars had other aliens and Earth didn’t. It made him feel lonely.  

He still had extra tickets, so he went on tons of rides. He came back to his hotel room, took a nap, and when he woke up it was lunch time. He went to a restaurant for lunch.

After that, he went back to his hotel room and finished unpacking. By the time he was done it was dinnertime, so he went to McDonald’s and got a burger.

Once the month had passed, he went back to the airport and boarded the plane. He made sure he didn’t order the jalapenos again. Once he got to Alaska, he met the human at the airport who brought him to where the rocket would take off.

“Goodbye!” said the human.

“Goodbye! I had a nice time on earth,” said the alien.

“It was nice meeting you.”

“I might go back to Earth someday.”

“Okay. If you do, come visit me.”

“Okay, goodbye!” The alien was a little sad. He looked at the rocket. He was nervous to go on the rocket ship because he had never been on one before … and also because it was making really loud noises, and it was gigantic. His arms were flopping all over the place and his feet were doing a tap dance. He saw a pink tutu outside the rocket ship, so he ran outside and put it on. He started doing ballet, not knowing he was doing something that actually existed. He called ballet ‘Oink’ and danced for one hour. He was having a lot of fun and found that ballet helped his nervousness go away, so he danced all the way back to the rocket ship. He was tired and fell asleep during liftoff.

When the alien woke up, he was almost back to Mars. He also realized that he was floating. He ate nuts for breakfast and played around with flying until lunchtime. It felt really weird to be flying since he hadn’t done it before. He ate lunch, which also consisted of nuts, as well as some dried strawberries. And, for dessert, he ate an ice cream sandwich. In only a few minutes, he would be back on Mars – he was so excited.

After five minutes, the he arrived at Mars! He got off the spaceship. His friends and family were already waiting for him.

“Strange. I’ve never seen an animal like that,” said his friend about a human that was also in the rocket ship.

“Bye bye, humans! These are humans – the people you saw on the rocket ship,” he explained to his family.

Magic is Really Real

Finding magic hasn’t happened to anyone, until now. I think I was the first one to ever feel magic. I think all the power I used came from my bracelet. When I got it at the store, the label said that it was magical. I have started exploring its powers right away. The bracelet doesn’t look magical–it is just blue with red dots. You could buy it anywhere. Suddenly, I use the bracelet to open a wormhole to another world. I wonder why the wormhole is blue and red, the same color as the bracelet. I look inside the wormhole and see that the world is black and white. I try to look inside a little more, but I start turning white? Just then, I hear my mom calling my name.

“Frannie, it’s dinnertime. Come eat.”

I take the bracelet off and the wormhole closes. As I run, I try to find an explanation of what happened. I think about what I should tell my parents, or if I should tell them at all, but right now at this second I can not even describe how I’m feeling. I don’t know what’s happening!

When I am at dinner, my mom says: “Frannie, are you excited that school is over?”

“Yeah,” I say. “I can’t wait for our vacation to Hawaii. I’m going to go pack right now. I’m just too excited. See you later!”

When I enter my room, I see that my wrist is turning white!! I put on the bracelet and, this time, see that the nails on my right hand are turning black. I take the bracelet off and put it on again. This time, my neck turns white. Then, I see a storm outside. I take the bracelet off and the storm disappears.

My mom calls my name. I run to the kitchen where she is washing the dishes. She says: “Honey, make sure you pack everything.”

I reply: “I will.”

I run to my room then I realize the bracelet is still on me. I thought I took it off–well, that’s the least of my worries right now. I open the door to my room and see the portal right in my room. I take the bracelet off to keep it from destroying my house. Right when the portal is about to close, I jump in.

At first, I don’t see anything. Then, I see something. Well, really, I hear something. It’s a voice. The voice is dark and gloomy. It says: “Your mission is to save this world and put it on the map.”

All I do is look up. The sky is black and white! The people are black and white!! I am black and white!!! I freak out. I see a bubble. It gets closer to me. I feel my body inside the bubble. It turns out that I am in the bubble. I float up and up and up and up and up and up and up and up and up and up and up and up and up and up until the bubble pops.  I start falling and falling and falling and falling and falling and falling until I reach the ground. I feel pain. I hear the voice again.

“You have twelve hours. Good luck.”

Suddenly, I feel more pain. Why do I have twelve hours? Then, it hit me. Maybe this voice knew that I was spending the night in my room packing. Next thing I know, I’m walking in the streets. I hear some music coming from a house. I look inside a house window. It looks like people are having a party but it’s not a party because they are all gloomy. I don’t know. I’ve only been in this world for two minutes.  I see a girl walking out of the house. I run up to her, but she looks different compared to the other girls. She’s smiling. Then, I realize that she looks exactly like me. I start talking at the same time as she does. We both ask the same question:

“What are you doing here?”

The girl says, “I just bought this bracelet and every time I put it on a portal opens up.”

My jaw drops. I almost faint.

“Same here,” I say, “and, by the way, my name is Frannie.”

“I’m Jenny. Jenny Frannie Leaf.”

“My full name is Frannie Jenny Leaf.”

As we walk, Jenny pulls me along. I see two motor bikes.

“Let’s get on those bikes,” Jenny says. “We can go wherever. You want to go faster?”

I see a mountain at the tip there is a cage of color. Wow.

“If we get past the things up there we can make the cage full of color explode and the town colorful again,” Jenny adds.

Wow, I think to myself again.

We start climbing the mountain. After about five minutes she says, “are we there yet?”

“Are you crazy,” I say. “It has only been five minutes.”

As we climb, we pass through spikes and thorns. Then, we see the top of the mountain. I stop, think about the top of the mountain, and, suddenly, I’m there. The bracelet can make us jump or move faster. I call to Jenny.

“Just think of the top or just run up the mountain and you’ll be there!”

“I think I’ll just think of the top.”

“Remember, when we were running to the mountain the bracelet made us go faster? Everything is making sense now.  

“I mean, finally. It’s about time”

I can tell that Jenny is trying. I don’t see her anymore and think that she must’ve jumped. When I look behind me, she’s nowhere. Then I turn around and she’s right in front of me. She says: “Did you just see the pyramids?”

“Just come on.”

We both run. Then, we see another world. Then, Jenny uses the bracelet to see extra far. She sees the cage of color that belongs to the other town. Then, I look at my watch only. There are only five hours left (it had been only forty-five minutes). Then we rush even more. There are guards in front of the cage. I realize that I can jump so I secretly jump to the other town, grab a pair of scissors, and jump back to the cage. I cut every part of it except for one. I look at Jenny and she nods. I close my eyes and cut the last part and there is a giant explosion of color. Suddenly, we drop and land on a map. On the edge of the map is a little island and it’s labeled F.J. city.

“It’s ours!!!” I yell. “It’s our city.”

I start to tear up a little bit.

“You’re free to go,” the voice says. “Thank you for all the loving work you did for your city. We gave you both the bracelets because we knew you could change the city. You made it colorful and now you can keep the bracelets because we trust you. Just think of the portal and you can go.”

“Are you ready?” I ask.

“Let’s go,” Jenny says.

We hold on to each other, think of the portal, and walk straight into the wall. We hear the voice laughing.

“I’ll take those!” it says and swipes our bracelets away. “Do you think you can just come here and stay? No way! I had to give each one of you the bracelet somehow. It’ll lead you here. When I found you, you guys knew it wasn’t real didn’t you?”

Jenny whispers, “yes.”

“So you’ve been lying to me this whole time?” I ask. “I don’t know what to say to you. You’re a liar. Now, I know.”

Jenny looks at the place where the sound is coming from. She sees it.

“This girl, Frannie,” she says, “helped me see that anything is possible. Even though she doesn’t know it, she’s taught me a lot.”

Jenny pulls a lever and a door opens.

“Run, Frannie. Run!”

I run into the portal and get trapped inside it. What do I do? I see Jemmy fighting the voice. She pulls a lever and the portal keeps moving. I see that the color is spreading and the voice is fading. I see it, and it’s gone. My day was hectic. I think that I better go home and rest. When I went home, my parents were staring at the television. It was saying:

“These two girls, Frannie and Jenny, saved this town. As a reward, they will have a city named after them.”

After all the hugging with my parents, I decide to write a letter to Jenny. The letter says:

Dear Jenny,

I am so glad I met you during my journey. You are one of the sweetest girls I have ever met. You helped me save the town, and I couldn’t have done it without you. Frannie plus Jenny equals F.J. city. I am so happy I met you and, remember, if I had to pick someone to save a town with, I would pick you!

Best wishes,

Frannie J. Leaf

Finally, four weeks later, she writes back. I guess the mailman had a hard time finding her. And guess what? It turns out that we’re twins! Her letter says:

Dear Frannie,

Thank you so much for saying all those things.  I am so sorry it took me so long to write back. Thanks for everything and also my dad said that we’re twins!

Sincerely,

Jenny

I hope Jenny and I meet up sometime. After all, Frannie plus Jenny totally equals F.J. City!

THE END

Aliens!

Hi, my name is Frank and I will be narrating.

Blue beams shoot out from their heads. Big, fat, green aliens attack people with their minds. They want to take over Earth because they do not like their planet. They don’t like their planet because it is dirty. It is dirty because they eat too much and they trash stuff too much. They corrupt people’s minds. They make people do what they want them to do. They make them steal food for them, as they eat everything. Then, the aliens eat the people. They spit their bones out like chicken bones. Then, they make humans steal money for them. Then, they eat them. The aliens are really mean. They like to eat Hawaiian people the most because Hawaiian people taste like coconuts.

The aliens live on the sun. They are obese. They are constantly trying to eat each other. They hate sports (that’s why they are so fat). Their ships are their bodies. The smaller aliens ride inside the mouths of the larger aliens. They also like to eat American people because American people taste like bacon and eggs. They hate mint sauce on their lamb chops. They like to eat sausage dogs because they taste like sausage.

They think that toy money is real money. They hate exercising. They have a holiday called We Hate Fitness when they find all the fitness equipment in one nation and throw it in the ocean. They usually start with Hawaii, and finish with England. Soon, Hawaiian people will become extinct because of the aliens. Then, after that, the aliens will eat all the American people. They’ll start in New York and end in L.A. Then, they’ll go on to eat the Canadian people because they taste like bacon.

Soon, Canada will become extinct. Then, they’ll eat Japan. They like sushi a lot. Then, they’ll eat Italy because they like cheese, pizza, and spaghetti a lot. Italians will also become extinct. Then, they’ll eat the Australians who will also quickly become extinct. Then, they’ll eat Africa for the fried fish. Then, they’ll eat Europe. No one is going to stop them.

Soon, the Aliens will become extinct because there will be no humans left to eat. Soon, they’ll have to eat each other. They’ll look at their dogs and lick their lips. They’ll destroy supermarkets for more food and, when there is no food left, they’ll eat babies, sons, daughters, grandparents, and so on.

Then, when the there is one alien left, he’ll just eat himself. Soon, zombies will come to Earth. Soon, a zombie will become president. His name is Zonald Zrump. There’s also another zombie named Zernie Zanders. Zarack Zbama is the president right now. There is another person running against Zernie and Zonald. His name is Zeb Zush. There’s also Zilliary Zlinton.

They like to trash talk to each other.

The sport that zombies play is called walking. The fastest player walks one millimeter per hour.  A game goes on for five years. The slowest player goes 0.000001 millimeters per hour. Although humans hate it, zombies love it. The best person at walking is Zsain Zolt. YouTube is called ZouTube. It isn’t very popular,  though. The only thing that ZouTubers say is, “Bububububuubuuuubububuub” and their videos only last one second. Everybody hates ZouTube.

ESPN is called ZSPN. Cartoon network is called Zartoon Zetwork. Zartoon Zetwork is the same as ZouTube. Sponge Bob is called Zponge Zob. Patrick is Zatrick. Squidward is Zquidward. Nobody likes the show. It only has one like because all the other zombies are slow at clicking the like button. It takes five years to click the like button.

Zombies eat themselves. The eat their own arms, grow new ones, then eat the new ones. And they keep growing again. And eating again.

Later, Zonald Zrump becomes president. He will start World War Z. Sadly, nobody voted for Zonald Zrump yet. They didn’t vote for anyone because they were so slow at everything. It will take them twenty more years to write down who they want to vote for. They don’t like to write because they’re so slow at it. They hate writing a lot. Every time a zombie writes, it takes them two years to write one letter. After they write one letter, they have to keep going on and on and on to make one sentence. It takes approximately twenty-five years. After twenty-five years, it takes them thirty years to mail it to someone if they have to. If they place the letter somewhere, it would take forty years. And, if they place it in a box, it would take sixty years.

After all those years, Zonald Zrump became president. When he starts World War Z, all the zombies try to eat each other. He makes people hate each other. He makes them eat each other. He creates chaos. After 200 years, they finally ended the fighting. Then, they decided to take up soccer. Each game takes 100 years to complete. It takes three hours to make one goal. The fastest goal ever was in 50 minutes. The man who made it is named Zeo Zallcott. The second fastest goal was in 60 minutes. It was made by Zector Zellerin. The third one was made in 70 minutes. It was made by Zamie Zardy. The next goal was made in 80 minutes. It was made by Zebastian Ziovinco. The next one would be made by Zaul Zogba. It would be made at the two hour mark.

One game a person named Zaheem Zterling made a goal in 30 minutes. Even though he ran a little slower than Zeo Zallcott, he ran really fast and made a goal. The latest goal ever made in a zombie soccer game would be in the 99th year on December 31st. It was made by Zer Zertesacker. But then a person made it even later than him. It would be the 99th year on December 31st also, but it was made on the 59th second of the game. It was made by Zabi Zlonso. It was a great goal, but he scored when it was 50-0, so he made the score 50-1, and it was for the cup. It was in the Zampions League.

So, his team lost. The other team’s name was Zrsenal, they got all of the really fast players. So that’s how they got it 50-1. Their goalkeeper was Zanuel Zeuer. He was the best goalkeeper in the world. No one on the other team scored except for Zabi Zlonso. The other team’s name was the Ztrikers.

Soon they tried to take up football, but they decided that it was too dangerous because it ended up with a bunch of people being decapitated and having their arms and legs cut off. So, they tried basketball but failed because when they jumped and they fell back down their legs broke and they would always have to find extra players. After they found extra players, extra players would get injured too. So they gave up on that too. Finally they took up baseball, but when the players got hit by the ball they shattered. And when they hit the ball, their arms fell off and they ran without arms. It’s a good thing that only pitchers had their arms always. Everybody else’s arms got destroyed.

Soon, only pitchers were in the game. There were no first basemen, catchers, second base, third base, shortstop, or outfield at all. Only pitchers cause everybody else’s arms got destroyed. They gave up the game. All the pitchers loved the game though because their arms didn’t get destroyed, but then soon their arms also fell off too because when they threw the ball it flew along with them too. But they had extra arms because of everyone else’s fallen off arms, but soon they also gave up the game. It’s sad that they gave up the game, but nobody liked it. They only game they could play was soccer, but then they decided to play another game, something called hockey. But then sadly they also gave up that game because when they were skating they accidentally chopped off each other’s legs, so they couldn’t move. They gave up.

After one attempt they said, “Bububububbubububuubu.” (Translation: goodbye hockey, we hate you too much).

So, they only played soccer, they couldn’t play anything else. The zombies all died out. So nothing stayed there for at least twenty-five years until the chocolate came. To be honest, the chocolate didn’t do anything, they just stayed there until something called the Blob came. The blob could only go, “blubbyblubblubblub” or they can just say, “blub.” So, their three leaders talked together, (they were the only ones who could speak one other language called English).

The oldest one said, “this planet is good, it has tons of chocolate to eat!”

“Eating chocolate is yummy,” said the youngest one.

The middle-aged one said, “Let’s live down there. We can just eat all the chocolate before we eat each other.”

So the oldest one said, “I’ll start with you.”  He ate the middle, then the youngest. Then, he yelled at his people, “go down and eat the chocolate! Then eat each other! I don’t care who eats who. Whoever comes in from the top I will eat.”

Soon, a Blob came up. His name was tubby. Later, the oldest one tried to eat him and he succeeded but, after 200 years, the oldest one died. Then, the food people came but then they died because the planet was so hot. The sun was very close to the planet. The food people got boiled. For  9,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 years, nobody came. Nothing happened during that time. After that time, a robot civilization came and used the food people to survive and eat and fuel their bodies. After a while, the robots’ batteries ran out and they all dropped dead.

Now, I will tell you who the last human was. His name was Frank Richardson (me). Frank was in the army when the aliens invaded. He deserted the army so he couldn’t get eaten by the aliens. The army was too busy getting eaten to chase Frank. So, Frank hid in a basement with 200,000,000,000,000 pounds of food and water. He survived for 30 years.Then, he got eaten by aliens. He had no family (sadly, they’d gotten eaten by the aliens). He didn’t care about anyone!

During the time that he was alive, he texted the second last human on earth who was a Mongolian man. He didn’t know any english which wasn’t good for Frank. Frank decided to make an airplane to meet the Mongolian man. Then, he found a translator app on his phone. He used it to translate the mongolian letters. They read: Help, I am going to get killed!

Frank decided to make his plane faster. He finished the plane, packed his stuff, and set out on the journey. Then, he got a text saying: I am getting digested inside the alien body get away from this place! Frank tried to turn around but 90 aliens surround him and dive-bombed his plane with their teeth. He got eaten. Sadly, he never got to talk with the man in person. He made and designed planes. He also flew in airplanes.

***

THE END

***

R.I.P FRANK Richardson. 2056-2099

***

Frank’s dead.

***

I am not that sad that he died. I am actually happy.

***

Sorry, Frank Richardsons of the world.

Cherry-Red Sweater

It’s always the question you don’t know the answer to that the teacher calls on you to answer. You were absent the day they studied that topic. You ask her to repeat the question; you know exactly what she asked. You’re just stalling for time. Beside you, Kimber is bobbing up and down with her hand in the air like her chair has some sort of spring on it. You stare glumly at the cherry-red of Bree’s sweater in front of you, twisting a brown strand of hair around your forefinger. The teacher repeats the question, adding that this is going to be on the test next week.

You sit up straight, remembering your guidance counselor saying that if you failed your next test you would have to go to summer school. Summer school would mean missing the painting camp you and Victoria were going to be CITs at. You had been planning for years – staying in the CIT bunks! Getting to bring candy! Being in charge! You couldn’t miss CIT year. No way you were missing that.

But you don’t know the answer – while they were studying this, you were at home with strep, re-reading The Hunger Games for the thirteenth time. Is that your fault? The teacher repeats the question for the third time. You bite your lip. “Um, I don’t know… ” You cross your fingers and jiggle your knee, hoping that she’ll explain it. She doesn’t, but rather tsk-tsks at you and asks Kimber to explain. Teacher’s pet, you think, slumping down in your seat, your cheeks the color of the cherry-red sweater. Bree smirks at you. You stare, embarrassed, at her sweater. Cherry-red. The teacher tells you to pay attention because you don’t know this. The class snickers, and you bite your lip again, trying not to cry. Eighth-graders don’t cry. After all, you’re thirteen and a teenager now. But you’re still a ‘kid,’ everyone says. The teenager is Bree, with her cherry-red sweater, her brown curls, cherry-red lip gloss, patent-leather purse, skinny jeans, cherry-red flats, blush, eyeshadow, mascara, and a ninth-grader boyfriend. You’re still wearing that too-small sweater vest and no makeup, tall yet childish. You wish you had that cherry-red sweater. You would look so much more grown-up in it.

That afternoon, your counselor suggests you start tutoring with a tenth-grader. Your new tutor is named Brunhilde O’Byrne. You notice that both Brunhilde and the counselor are wearing cherry-red sweaters. You end up passing your test, and your parents take you out for dinner. You don’t eat your dessert: cherry pie, red guts spilling all over the plate.

The Two Sisters

The woman in pitch black coat and velvet cloak suddenly turned. She was looking at the petrified, shivering, ready-to-faint Sara. Sara knew why she had been called, but Diana did not get to the point right away. She knew her sister too well. Sara would say that she didn’t do anything and make up an excuse. Diana was tired of it and would not let that happen. This time, Diana would show Sara what it felt like to be alone, to be abandoned.

There was only one person Diana could trust, confide in, and who would understand. Mom had died three years ago and, ever since, Diana had to live alone. Sara told everyone that Diana’s favorite color was black and that she loved rainy days but, in truth, her favorite color was bright pink and she loved the sun, especially when it was at its brightest. Sara was a fibber.

Diana did not take too much time with this.

“So,” Diana snapped, “how do you feel about yourself?”

Sara was extremely surprised. She’d never been spoken to like this in her life.

“S-sorry,” she stuttered.

“It sounds like you’ve never used the word sorry before,” Diana said. “Well, I should let you go, but next time if I ever find you doing this again, I won’t let you off so lightly.”

“W-well then, I-I sh-shall be o-on my way,” Sara said, heading towards the door.

“And I shall be on mine,” Diana said entering her room.

In actuality, Sara had nothing better to do. She ended the conversation just to get away from her ‘evil’ sister. She had hoped it would be another one of those times when Di had taken it lightly and asked her to tea afterwards. Sara would have been happy to accept.

Well, she thought angrily, if Di isn’t going to be nice to me I’ll just be worse to her.

But how? That was the hardest question. It would take quite a while for Sara to think of how she would take revenge on her sister. She had not learned anything in school or in college, all she had thought about was her complexion and how she looked. Once, she had forgotten to turn in her exam paper and absentmindedly put her cosmetics case on the teacher’s desk instead. She had gotten very embarrassed and made it up to the class – or thought she did – by wearing a new dress and looking extra pretty the next day.

***

Now, coming back to Diana. She was answering a few invitations to tea parties and dinner parties, saying very politely that she had something else planned. But when she glanced at the last letter, she saw something totally different and ran out of her house to post the letter.

I am not going to tell you who that letter was by, but this is what she had answered to the last letter: I would love to have tea with you, truly yours, Diana Ross.

***

The basic reason why Diana had answered the letter with a yes was that she was the only one invited. Also, the girl who had invited her was her best friend at school. As she arrived at her friend’s house, she could smell the fresh daisies, feel the dew on all the plants, hear the sound of animals, and see the beautiful view of the mountains behind.

At first, she was too shy to ring the doorbell but she gathered up her courage and said to herself: “It’s only me, after all, so there’s no reason to be shy”. She raised her shaking hand and rang the doorbell, so lightly that the whole button didn’t get pressed. It rang anyway, although no one noticed it at first. Eventually, her friend realized someone was at the door.

“Why Di,” said Bell, “when I last saw you, were happy and bold. But now, you look so meek and cold.”

Diana laughed. Bell had put her at ease.

“I love your poetic passion,” she said.

“I love it too,” replied Bell. “You seem a little bit more like yourself now. Well then, why don’t you come inside and make yourself comfortable? We were just preparing tea. We weren’t really expecting you to come sooo early,” Bell said, reluctantly.

Now, Di was feeling slightly uncomfortable. Bell never spoke reluctantly. She always planned what she was going to say before actually saying it. And, knowing her friend, Di knew right away that Bell was hiding something. Diana spoke from her heart so she spent no time beating around the bush.

“Come on, you’re hiding something,” Di said. “These kind of tricks don’t work with me.”

“M-me? You think that I-I’ve been hiding s-something from you?” Bell said.

Diana thought that Sara’s soul had gotten into Bell.

“Admit it, Bell,” she said.

“All right, all right. I’ll admit it,” Bell said guiltily. “But I just can’t tell you what it is.”

But Diana did come to now after all.

The ground began shaking and Bell took Di’s hand and led the way up to the library. She went to the history section and pulled a book which turned out to be a doorknob. The door swung open leading to a secret passage. Diana gasped.

“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” said Bell with a grin. “Now, I’m going to tell you the whole story.”

They sat at the table and Bell began.

“So you know how my mom and dad died when I was a baby? My mom when I was born and my dad a few days later? That he left me with my aunt who treated me like a child who had murdered her sister? Once, I went exploring and the exact same thing that just happened to you happened to me. The ground began shaking and I ventured deeper and deeper into a secret passage. As scary as it was, I was not afraid. The deeper I went, the more it began to go underground. Then, something gave me a start. It was a ghost. And not just any old ghost, it was my mother. She was the only ghost who could go through things and hold things. She told me something that I don’t want to reveal to you but have to. She said that she liked being a ghost and that she had been happy to die. There was something else she said, something amazing. She herself had hoped that I, Bell, would find this passage. Then, she disappeared, leaving me in awe. Suddenly, she came back and said: “I just forgot to tell you not to tell your aunt about this. She was a horrible sister to me.”

“Like Sara is,” said Diana.

“I’ve been wanting to tell someone about this,” continued Bell, “but I never knew who until you came. I knew I could trust you. I hope you can trust me.”

“Of course I can,” said Diana.

“Well, then, that’s my story,” finished Bell.

“If I ever have something as a secret, you’re the first person I’ll tell. Why don’t you come to my mansion often? It’s quite deserted, you know, and we’re quite similar; we have big houses and no parents. We can hang out together a lot.”

“Why don’t we go to tea?”

“That’s a great idea, I’m starving.”

“We prepared green tea, scones with jam and cream, and cookies,” Bell said. “I hope you like it!”

“I don’t like it, I love it. I just wanna run down and eat everything on the table.”

“What are we waiting for?”

The girls happily went downstairs hand-in-hand to a round table. The scones, cookies, and tea were so tempting. Not a crumb was left on their plates. After that, Diana had to work so she left to go home. They promised to go to each other’s houses at least twice a week.

***

At home, Diana signed some checks. The whole day, she had a smile on her face. She wasn’t afraid of going out anymore. It had all come back to her. She could remember her childhood days when she was playing in her neighborhood playground. She and Bell would swing on the swings, slide on the slides, talk so much, and have so much fun. That was not going to stop. Even though she was an adult now, she was not going to stop. She was going to go out more often, have more fun, and hang out with Bell more. And her mansion was not deserted anymore. It was full of her and Bell’s laughter.

A lot more of her school friends came to visit. She hosted a dinner party – not a big one, just with five-seven guests – but had an amazing time.

***

Sara was planning to take revenge on her sister. She had no idea that Diana was having so much fun. She was just sitting in her room, bored. She was evil and always would be. Cheaters never win, but she hated to lose. This was one of her weaknesses (she had too many weaknesses for me to list). She was more talkative than Diana but she talked so much that nobody wanted to get close to her. Talking was her life and if anybody butted in on her speech she would look at them with an evil eye. She never expected to be interrupted and considered herself grand. Also, she expected to be waited on in her house. For instance, if I were to have tea with her, she would expect me to serve her.

Sara was not the richest sister. Her house was big, but not as big as Diana’s. She had nice clothes, but not as nice as Diana’s. Her mother and father’s will gave most of their money to Diana, not Sara. They had no living relations. Her mom and dad were only children and orphans.

Sara had gotten long fingers from her father. Diana had gotten her mother’s light hair and blue eyes, along with her father’s wide smile.

Diana was naturally beautiful but never bragged about it. Sara was not so beautiful but bragged about it anyway. Sara thought she was the best even though Diana was smarter and nicer. Diana was born to be nice. Sara was the opposite. You would never know that they were even sisters if they stood side by side.

Their mother and father had both died of an unnamed illness. It was highly contagious. Their mom had died first but the dad had gotten it from her and died a few days later. This was a tragedy to Diana and Sara. It affected their relationship a lot. Diana had loved her mother and Sara had loved her father but, after both of them had gone, the sister had nothing to do more than quarrel. Of course, they didn’t argue in public but they didn’t get over their arguments for months. It was a weird combination. One, smart and quiet and the other, loud and foolish. They grew further apart after their parents’ death.

***

Bell was satisfied with her friendship with Diana. The two of them were super close but there was one thing that Diana did not know about Bell: Bell had an older sister who had run away from their aunt one night and never returned. Bell had gotten a message that she was alive. Bell loved her older sister, Elizabeth (Beth). Bell was worried about her sister as she had not received recent news of her. That day, when there was a knock at the front door, Bell knew exactly who it was. Beth was the only person who knocked instead of ringing the bell.

When Bell opened the door, she flung her arms around Beth.

“So, how is everything?” said Beth.

“Wonderful, but quite lonely. It’s more wonderful when you’re here and, this time, don’t run away. Please?”

“I’m never going to,” Beth said. “I realized that it’s better to be home than anywhere else and, most of all, that I missed you. I remember the fun times we had – playing hide and seek, tag, and throwing balls. I hope we can do it again.”

“We are going to have the most amazing time ever.”

“Is it time for dinner yet? My stomach is growling.”

“It’s before dinner but that doesn’t mean that we can’t have a snack. Why don’t you get comfortable? Where were you all this time? You have to tell me everything.”

“I will. I’ll tell you every single thing.”

“Every single thing,” echoed Bell.

***

Sara and Diana were arguing. Sara had left the mansion, her cheeks red with anger. She got mad easily and was sensitive. Diana, on the other hand, had triumphed. She had won the argument. Her day had been good. If she had to rank it out of 100%, it would have been a 99.5%.

She danced her way to the kitchen. She had loved dancing when she was a kid, just like her mom. The two of them had danced and danced and danced until they fell flat on the floor laughing. This memory put a sad smile on her face but then she remembered that she could still be a child if she wanted to. She could see herself running round and round the mansion again and again, going crazy and not thinking about rules of etiquette. She was being a kid, a real kid, and it was so much fun. Those fun, happy, and memorable times were gone. Those times when her mother was alive and would hold her hand and put her to bed, were gone.

Sara, on the other hand, hated being a kid. She thought that it was better to be grown up and respected. She wanted everyone to look up to her, even though that isn’t the right way to think.

Diana was invited to a big dinner party on Friday. She was so excited. She picked out a beautiful gown, did her hair, and was ready to go. The bell rang and Diana rushed to the door, knowing that it was Bell because they were going to the party together. They shivered in excitement. When they reached the house, they rang the doorbell and were escorted inside. Their friend greeted them with big hugs. They returned them warmly.

The party went smoothly. There was food, drinks, and dancing. After the party, Diana was so tired that she almost fell asleep in the car. The moment her head touched her pillow, she was fast asleep.

Sara had also gone out that night, but she didn’t go anywhere interesting. She just watered her plants. She used to love gardening but she had long since forgotten. Now, it seemed like a chore even though her flowers were pretty.

Her back ached as she bent down. She was suddenly hit with all of her good memories. She could remember her childhood with Diana, her friends, and Diana’s friend – what was her name? – Bell. The three of them would have fun picking flowers from the gardens, dressing up, and posing for silly pictures. Tears welled in her eyes as she thought of those things. Then, suddenly, a memory from the day before her mother’s death popped into her head. Bell’s sister had come to her and swore to be her best friend forever. She’d introduced herself as Beth and had put her arm around Sara when her mother had fallen asleep for the last time. She had discussed her plans to run away with Sara but had actually left sooner than Sara had expected.

Before she realized what she was doing, she ran to Bell’s house and rang the bell.

Beth opened the door. Sara threw her arms around her friend. Bell was not surprised. She knew that Sara and Beth had been close – she had been close to Sara herself – and Diana was the only one who didn’t know Beth. Bell would tell Diana when the time was right, but the time was not now.

Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. Dreading who it was, Bell opened the door. It was Diana.

“I-I’m sorry, Di,” said Bell. “I know I should have um … told you about this earlier. I hope you’re not mad.”

Diana’s frown turned into a smile. She burst into laughter.

“You expected me to be mad at you? You should have told me.”

“Oh, Beth didn’t want me to,” said Bell.

Sara, who was in the background, got a scared look on her face when Diana’s gaze fell on her.

“I know we haven’t been the best of friends but, this time, I’ll be better if you will,” Diana said.

“Of course I will,” Sara replied.

After ten minutes, Beth had been fully introduced to Diana.

***

Now, we shall come to an end. A happy ending, of course. The girls later called themselves the Fantastic Four, went on crazy adventures, and lived happily ever after.

The Other Side of Me

Chapter 1  

“Pay attention, Kate,” calls my teacher. I immediately look up to see what she’s saying. I wish I could tell her what keeps me from paying attention everyday, but if I said anything, the Terces Society would be in trouble big trouble.

“Ring-ring,” the bell sounded.

Finally, it’s time to leave and I can get ready for my biggest mission yet. I am gathering up school supplies to bring home when my teacher tells me to come to her desk. I am prepared: all I need to say is “Sorry, I would love to chat but I have to get on the bus or it will leave without me.” Then I run out the door.

After I do this, I hear her calling out to me. “You don’t have a bus pass,” she says. I keep on running. I don’t worry about being caught. The only thing I’m worrying about is what is yet to come.

I know the route by heart but I am so nervous, I feel like I’m lost. I turn the corner and see the building. It’s tall and gloomy and grey. There are many huge signs on the front that say things like “under construction,” “back off,” “beware,” “hard hat zone,” “danger,” etc. The signs are meant to keep strangers away from our top secret files. When strangers walk by they think it’s an old scary building under construction. I am so used to the building now that I am never scared of it, but now may be an exception. As I walk up the stairs I can feel my hands shaking.

When I walk in the doors, I hear the front desk lady say, “Hi, Kate, stop by your dorm room to pick up your stuff, and then go to the archives to pick up your file.”

“Okay,” I respond. The front desk lady’s real name is Lily, but I don’t like to call her that because it doesn’t suit her. She’s pretty nice but very strict, and is very good at keeping spies in and strangers out.

I go upstairs to the fifteenth floor, room number 15B. I take out my key and it slowly turns in the keyhole, making a soft clicking sound. My dorm is a soft mint color. I have a small living room and kitchenette. All the other kids share a dorm, but I got my own because I am the best spy in the whole Terces Society… but I think it’s more because they felt sorry for me after what happened five years ago.

I am getting together all of the things I will need: spy uniform, disguise, flashlight, rope, duct tape, gun, pocket knife, etc. I am almost ready and am walking out the door when I realize I am forgetting something, the only thing I have left of my parents. I rush back into my dorm. I run into my bedroom and open the bottom drawer of my dresser. Under my t-shirts I find a photograph of my parents with me as a baby. Looking at the photograph makes my eyes water, so I bury it under all of the stuff in my spy bag.

I am eight again, and I am in my bedroom. The door is locked and I can’t get out of my room. I start to get really, really scared. I look around and start to scream and cry. All of a sudden everything becomes dark. I hear a terrible scream come from downstairs. I suddenly have an idea. I run my hands along the wall and find the window. I open the latch on the window and climb onto the edge, and I jump into the night, landing on two feet. I walk to the front door and find the key under the welcome mat. I unlock the door, wondering what will be behind it. I run in and walk to the living room. My parents are lying there completely unmoving and covered in blood. I am too late, I can’t save them.

I take a quick glance at my watch. 4:27. “Oh no, I will be late to start my mission!” I sprint down the twelve flights of stairs. When I get down to the third floor I turn the corner and walk into the archive. I am searching for the file on my mission when I see Mr. Brown, the president of the Terces Society. I don’t see him often because he is always cooped up in his office.

“Hi Kate. Here is your file,” Mr. Brown says to me, passing me the green folder.

I take the folder and my bag and walk downstairs through the doorway. My heart is pounding so hard, I feel like I can’t even walk. I am terrified, but I don’t even know what my mission is yet. I slowly open the folder. I can feel my hands shaking. One third open. Two thirds open. Finally, the folder is open.

I see a picture of the criminal who I need to catch. He has pale skin, almost transparent, and I can see his veins popping from his skin. There is a huge bloody gash across his face. His eyes are bulging and bloodshot. He is creepy but something about him is familiar. Then I remember who he is he is Murderous Marvin, the worst villain in the whole universe. All of a sudden, I start to cry because I remember how my dad used to tell me scary stories about him when I was little. I can just hear my father’s voice. Now I have to learn more about what Murderous Marvin has done.

Chapter 2

I read through the file. It shows that he has stolen a top secret file from the Terces Society.  I am terrified, and I know that we have some really important and secret things in the archive. If someone reads the files, the Terces Society will be in danger real danger. I have only two questions. One: what did Murderous Marvin take? Two: why did he do it?

The file doesn’t have a lot of information, so I don’t know what I will do. I have to go back upstairs to do some research. This time I take the elevator up to 15B. I turn the key in the knob and walk inside. I walk through the door to my bedroom and climb up the ladder to my loft. I love the loft; it is cozy and bright, with a big skylight above it. I have a big day bed right below the skylight. When I go to sleep I watch the light go from blue to pink to black. My favorite time is when it’s raining at night. It makes me feel safe and warm.

I come back out of my thoughts. I know what I need to do. I sit down at my desk and log into my computer. A long time ago, when I started having missions, finding the files for the mission was really hard and time consuming because the archive is so big. I decided to make a computer program to help me. I hooked up sensors to each one so that I know where the files are in my computer. I need that program now so that I can see what file was taken.

I scroll through the missing files. There are five. Immediately, I know which one Murderous Marvin took the top secret file about the president, which is very important. Our president’s name is James Smith. The file has a document that President Smith received in order to declare World War III. Luckily, I stole the document so that Mr. Smith couldn’t sign it.

If Murderous Marvin gets ahold of the document, he could forge the signature and start WORLD WAR III!

My Life On The Street

        

Author’s Note

This is a true story based on my grandma’s dog Cody. He did live with an owner but ended up on the street. I made up what happened in his life but some things are true. This story is written from Cody’s perspective.

INTRODUCTION

My name is Cody. I am one year old and live in Missouri on the street. I lived with an owner but, one day, she let me out and never back in. She taught me how to eat my food when she said it was okay, and to slow down when I ran too fast down the stairs. But, now I am alone. I have no one to care for me.

Chapter 1

One stormy Saturday, I needed to find food. All that was close to me was a half-eaten can of black beans. I gobbled that down so fast, but still had to find other things to eat. As I ran down the block, a flash of lightning struck near by. I desperately needed somewhere to hide.

Luckily, I lived in a mostly nice neighborhood. It could get lonely and sad sometimes, though. The wind picked up speed. It started howling. Trees swayed. By now, I was shivering. My teeth started to chatter. I walked for a while, not sure where I was going. I made a right then travelled north for a few minutes. Before my eyes was a huge garbage dump. I walked up to the fence and slowly headed in.

Wow! I thought to myself, There is so much garbage! I bet there will be a lot of food too!

I stepped onto the garbage. It smelled really bad. Cautiously, I climbed up the garbage that towered over me. I found a piece of fish. It was rotting, but I ate it anyway. I searched some more without luck. It was getting late. Stars lit up the sky around the crescent-shaped moon. I retraced my steps back home by sniffing. I peed on a fire hydrant. Something smelled peculiar. It smelled like another dog. That might not seem funny to you but there are no dogs where I live. Even if there were dogs in Missouri, there wouldn’t be any near here. It’s a mostly deserted town.

In the 1860’s, there was a legend that said a big bulldozer came through this town. It knocked down a house that had seven dogs and three humans in it. That was just the beginning. The man driving the bulldozer was named Wrecking Ransacker. He’d lived in the house that he knocked down and –– get ready, this is the creepy part –– it was his ghost who made the town deserted. After he died, his son and daughter took over his house. They were very poor, and the house cost a lot of money. They sold it to three nine-year-old girls. Of course, the girls had seven dogs named Petula, Petunia, Rosy, Daisy, Sunflower, Daffodil and Buttercup who were all King Charles Cavaliers. They were black, grey, and a dirty white.

One stormy night, Wrecking Ransacker was so mad at his kids that he knocked down everyone’s homes on the block. All the houses had dogs because there was a dog park nearby, only one block away from Deserted Dessert street, and these dogs were in their homes alone with their owners when the bulldozer came through.

The sky turned pitch black. I decided to come back to this garbage dump tomorrow. I slept on a small cotton blanket I had picked up at the dump. The storm calmed down and, soon, I fell asleep.

Chapter 2

After a good long rest, I had lots of energy. I headed to the mysterious fire hydrant. Along the way, I passed an opened can of raspberry jelly. I took a nibble of it, but it was too sweet for me. I went on my way. By the time I reached the fire hydrant, I was sweaty from the sun. The storm had cleared and it was bright out. Just in case you ever go to Missouri, let me tell you what this fire hydrant looks like. It was green with polka dots–no other hydrants are green so it will be easy to spot. The hydrant is on Deserted Dessert street. Finally, I reached the hydrant. I decided to be careful in that area – who knows what crazy things or people would be around.

Before I knew it, I had jinxed myself.

Chapter 3

Crap, I thought to myself.

An old lady appeared at a window in a long black cloak. She sat down, knitting needles in her wrinkly fingers. I ducked behind a garbage can that held a pink, blue, and white striped umbrella along with one brown shoe. The rest, I didn’t care about. As I peered out from behind the garbage, the lady’s eyes shifted to me. I jumped back behind the can in a flash. Her eyes blinked in disbelief. The next thing I knew, she had disappeared into her stone room.

***

I headed to another block on Deserted Dessert street. As I walked, I gulped down a bite of avocado.

“Ccrreeeekk!!” A noisy door opened from a house. Paint peeled from the sides of the house. It was painted brown with lumps. It looked like the painter wanted to make it look ugly.

Like a spy, I rolled onto my back and flipped over. I tried doing a cartwheel but failed.

The lady headed out with a big sack. It was full. Full of stuff. I couldn’t tell exactly what was in it because it was black and sealed shut with a piece of red ribbon. The lady looked left, then right, and crossed the street. The bag gleamed in the sunshine. She threw the bag onto the street and said: “¡Uf esto es manera de pesada!” (Meaning: Ugh, this is way too heavy.)

Luckily for me, I could understand spanish from my old owner.

“¿Por qué siempre tengo que hacer el trabajo duro?” the lady asked. “¡No es justo! ¿Por que mi marido dosis no haga el mismo trabajo?” (Meaning: Why do I always have to do the hard work? It’s not fair! Why doesn’t my husband do the work himself?)

The old lady kept on muttering under her breath. It scared me to think that the creepy old lady had a husband. I left. On my way home, something terrifying got in my way.

Chapter 4

“Hey look! I just scared that wimpy dog!” A boy in a ragged ripped shirt said, laughing hysterically.

His friends joined with him.

“Hahaha!” a boy giggled wildly.

“Let’s chase him!” another boy joked.

As I said, he was joking. But his friends didn’t realize that. They started to chase me.

“Wait, guys…” the boy’s voice trailed off until it was barely there. “… I was just joking …”

I ran for my life, growing and barking at the boys. They ignored me. When I couldn’t run anymore, I dived into a shallow pool. The boys dived in after me.

“Brjkde wfhdhcvqbe!!!” A a boy yelped in terror. After being in the freezing pool for a few seconds, he hopped out.

I paddled with my front paws and tried not to drown. Gasping for breath, I made my way to the edge of the pool. I jumped out, shook myself off, and started running again.

Good. A house. Maybe they will let me in!

I didn’t want to get my hopes up. I headed down the cracked sidewalks that were made in 1913. My long fur flew with the breeze. Every once in awhile I took a peek back to see where the boys were. Their hands were sticking out as they tried grabbing my tail.

“Woof, Woof!” I barked loudly as possible.

A person started walking to the door. She peered out and as she realized that I, a dirty dog, was at the door. She turned around. The house was made of stone and had two chimneys. The door was painted a bright red which popped out from the dull, grey stone.

“Skedaddle!” screeched the lady.

I leapt off the ramp leading to her house.

Wait a minute, I thought, I smell something familiar…

Chapter 5

I raced back to the boys and wagged my tail so hard that it almost fell off. This was a risk. This time, they didn’t start chasing me. They were actually nice! They pet me and I did a soft, nice, quiet growl.

I think I’m starting to like these boys, I thought with a lot of enthusiasm.

I did a little woof as my way of saying goodbye.

“Bye!” The boys said in unison.

I gave one last bark goodbye. They were my new favorite humans!

I headed off now, not worried about anything.

Chapter 6

I walked down the hot pavement. My feet burned like they were on fire. In front of me was that green fire hydrant! I almost went blind. This was the most unexpected thing to ever happen on earth. Just then, a big fireball came down from the ski and landed in front of my face.

What? The? Wha?

I was confused.

I looked up in the sky and…

Uh oh.

1,001 fireballs were coming down! They could land on me!

I had to think fast. I unscrewed the lid of the fire hydrant.

Woosh!!! The fire hydrant sprayed water everywhere!

The fireballs went out!

Yippie!!! I thought happily.

The fireballs left a burned spot on the ground. Now I could get to business. I sniffed the fire hydrant. Sniffed and sniffed. It smelled different.

Huh? I thought.

This was strange. I couldn’t smell it as well as I could a few days ago. It seemed … dull.

Wait a minute … I realized. Ah ha! I got it! When the water sprayed it cleared away the pee smell. I am so smart!

It was disappointing because I was intrigued by that doggy smell. I wandered to a nearby garbage can and ate a sunnyside-up egg. Yum. That type of egg was delicious. I left the garbage can and returned to the fire hydrant. Dreadfully, the strange lady was there but wasn’t wearing her black cloak. She had on a pretty skirt with flowers and a red crop top. She was wearing a lot of makeup and her hair was done in a neat bun. Her long pointy fingers were painted with black and white, zig zag stripes. Her pair of black heels matched her outfit perfectly. That was when it hit me.

“Miranda?” The lady in the flowered skirt called.

Just then, the lady in the black coat came through the door! This hit me by surprise. I hid behind the garbage can.

“Juro por mi corazón que acabo de ver el más lindo pequeño perrito derecho imaginables lado de la calle.” (Meaning: I swear to my heart that I just saw the cutest little pup imaginable right across the street.)

“¿Qué? ¿Cómo es eso posible? Tengo el perrito más lindo en este mundo. Por el amor de Dios. El perrito más lindo en el mundo!” (Meaning: What? How is that possible? I have the cutest pup on this world. For crying out loud. The cutest puppy on the world!)

Miranda, the lady in black, walked out of the room with a humph. Her head was tilted high. The next second, Miranda came back into the room with a puppy named Maya who was a big golden doodle who loved to play. She rolled onto her stomach for a belly rub. I got a bit jealous because I have always wanted an owner who would take me for walks. It made me feel sad, but also more determined to get an owner to care for me.

Chapter 7

The lady in the flowered skirt went to get a glass of red wine, came back, and walked to her car. She crossed the street and looked around. She saw me. I growled, even though I knew that she didn’t want to harm me. She got out her blackberry phone and dialed: (324) 802-9672. That was the number of an animal rescue truck. She waited patiently with me for exactly 13 minutes and 43 seconds. She counted. She also was humming Row, Row, Row, Your Boat. I quietly hummed along with her. She turned and looked at me. I quickly stopped humming and looked up at her with big eyes. She bent down and pet me.

Chapter 8

A big, white van pulled up across the street from where the lady and I were. Two men hopped out in tan uniforms with pins on them. The pins had pictures of dogs, cats, birds and every animal you can imagine. Even a donkey!! They picked me up –– Mr. Stan and Mr. Louis. They also had name tags on along with all those cool pins. The van had big bumper stickers that had their phone number, with a dog on them. They held me high in the air for photos for a new bumper sticker!! Inside the van, they had metal bars. I couldn’t go to the front of the van. It seemed like jail. I got to sit on a big, fluffy, soft, white cushion. Of course, in jail they wouldn’t have a cushion in the police car. At least from what I know.

By this time, the lady was gone. Dust flew from behind the car. Do you want to hear something terrible? Here, you know what? I’ll tell you. They were taking me to the vet! My old owner took me once and I bit the vet. Let’s do a quick addition problem: Me plus vet equals mad. The lady at the desk, talked to Mr. Stan and Mr. Louis.

“We’ll be back in 30 minutes,” concluded Mr. Louis.

“Yes we will,” confirmed Mr. Stan.

“That will work just fine,” said the lady at the desk, Molly.

And that was that. I waited in a dog pen that had a husky and a beagle.

“Dog?” A sweet looking nurse called me.

I growled. Molly got me out of the pen which was unfortunate because I wanted to stay, play with some toys, and sleep on the cushion. I growled and growled. I hated the vet. I sat up on a table that had a matting on the bottom. Since I knew that I hated the vet, I peed on the table. The vet wasn’t in the room yet but Molly was. She didn’t know how to handle this bad-for-her situation.

“Um … Janitor Jake? Can you come and … clean this mat? Cody peed on it.” Molly asked through her walkie talkie.

“Sure.” Jake replied crackly through the walkie talkie.

A minute later, Jake appeared with a garbage bag and and new mat for me to sit on. Just then, Dr. Sanders came in.

Chapter 9

I looked through the door as the vet came in. He was wearing a long white jacket with name a tag that read ‘Dr. Sanders.’

“Hi Jake, Molly,” Dr. Sanders said casually.

Then, he turned his attention to me.

“Hi!” Sander said cheerfully!

He gave me a light pat on the head. I growled at him and tried to bite him. Luckily for him, he was able to pull his finger away a millisecond before I was going to bite him.

“Ready to get started?” questioned Sanders.

I gave a low, mean bark.

He got out a stethoscope and put it on my heart. The assistant who I haven’t yet mentioned sat in the corner of the room to check off if things were looking good or bad.

“Heartbeat is fine. Yes it is, cutie. Yes it is!” Sanders said.

“Good.”

This went on and on. Even after Mr. Stan and Mr. Louis came back.

I couldn’t sit on the table anymore. They were in the middle of giving me a tick and flea medication when I hopped off the table. Dr. Louis, who was quite large, started chasing me around the room. He started to break a sweat after I made him run around the table once. Once!! Mr. Stan got mad and started yelling. He had lost his temper.

“Why would you do that, dog?”

Mr. Louis was panting. That was the end of the terrible check-up. On the way out, Dr. Louis paid the check ($307 plus tax). On the way out, Molly gave me a treat.

“You want a treat for being such a good little doggy?”

I wagged my tail and barked. Just as Molly was about to put the treat in my mouth, Mr. Stan took it away. I bit his finger as hard as I could and didn’t let go. He screamed like a five-year-old girl who was in terrible pain. I finally let go and he dropped the treat on the ground. I quickly, without anyone knowing, ate the treat off the ground. Molly gave me a soft pat on the head as if she were on my side. In my ear, she whispered something.

Molly joked, “it’s okay, buddy. He was mean. And scared like a chicken from a tractor.”

I liked her. Mr. Louis took Mr. Stan to the bathroom. His finger was swollen when he came out. Mr. Stan grabbed me and, of course, I growled.

“Shut up,” Mr. Stan said, paranoid.

I went back into the car and Mr. Louis started driving again. He stopped at a gas station. He went into a tiny supermarket and came back with three large bags filled with potato chips, coca cola, gummy bears, one tiny circular dog treat, peppermint patties, two milkshakes, and two cheeseburgers. Mr. Louis tossed the dog treat to the back seat. I gave a tiny bark.

“Oh. Now the dog is nice. Why did you even get him a treat?”

“Well … maybe … I like him a little? Fine. I like Cody and all his energy.” Mr Louis was afraid to break this news.

I gave another bark, except this time louder.

“Let’s face it Louis. You can’t run. At all.” Stated Mr. Stan.

“Can I run, Cody?” I nodded my head yes because really, he was kind of nice. I also barked.

Mr. Stan got madder by the second because I like Mr. Louis more than Stan (not) The Man. My new nickname for him!

Chapter 10

The car ride was so long. Another time, Mr. Louis got more food. He came back with one piece of gum and a bag of dog treats for me! He even sat in the back of the car with me! There was nothing for Mr. Stan. Poor him (not).

We finally got to the shelter. Mr. Louis picked me up and carried me out of the car to the door. I walked inside and saw many dogs. They all looked nice. They started howling as I walked through the door. It was painted hot pink with blue stripes. The handle was in a shape of a dog–a shih tzu, in fact. I saw big kennels with big dogs with smaller kennels with smaller dogs. The place had hard wooden floors. It seemed like a place that I wouldn’t like. I barked with my tail down and my teeth gritted. They scooped me into a kennel. Surprisingly, it was a big kennel like the ones that the big dogs got. I felt so special. I had three t-shirt rope toys, a water bowl, a food bowl, and a cushion to sleep on. Pretty lame. I sat in the corner. Louis watched me. I could tell that he felt bad for me. He knew that I liked the open.

“Rachel? Are employees allowed to adopt the dogs?” I heard Louis ask.

“Ye–” Rachel got cut off by Louis.

“Yippee!!!” shouted Louis.

“–but not until after a full year because someone else may want to adopt that little cute pup.” finished Rachel.

“What? But I really want to adopt Cody,” Louis protested.

“Too bad.”

Rachel shooed Louis off.

The next day, Louis called in sick. That was unfortunate. Early that morning –– not too early –– a visitor came to the shelter. He was wearing a pair of navy jeans with a white t-shirt. Right away, I knew who it was but I didn’t bark or do anything. It seemed as if the person had made sure that his beard was extra long.

“May I help you?” asked Rachel, sweetly.

“Yes please … I was wondering if you had any small black and white shih tzu’s?”

“Yes we do. You can go and look for yourself,” Rachel said.

The man started walking when Rachel stopped him.

“Louis? Is that you?”

“What?”

“Louis. It says your name on your shirt. And your last name.”

“Okay, I admit it. I was trying to adopt the dog under disguise.”

“Let’s get to work, Louis.”

“Fine.”

Louis walked over to me and rubbed my neck. I love neck massages. Louis took me out of my cage a cradled me like a baby. If you’re wondering where Mr. Stan was, he quit his job. I bit him too hard. He was so mean anyway. I didn’t really care.

Diary of a Shy Girl

September 28, 2014

Dear Diary,

Today was the first day of 4th grade, and it was a terrible day at my new school. The most popular girls in school already hate me! It’s because I was so shy at school. I didn’t say one word the whole day, and now I wish I had said something to them.  

I was put with the worst homeroom teacher in 4th grade. She is so terrible because she is very strict, she makes us do two hours of math class every day, and worst of all she she shouts at you if you are not looking at the board any time during a lesson!

We have so much homework even though it is the first day of school, and my class is the only class that has homework today. I can tell it will be a very terrible year.

When I got home, I ran up to my room and locked the door. I would not let anyone talk to me or come in for the rest of the night. It was very hard to do my homework tonight because I was so sad.

Goodbye for now,

Zola

September 29, 2014

Dear Diary,

I am eating breakfast, and I am about to go on the bus.

I am hiding you in my desk. I am having math class. We are in the middle of a boring lesson about fractions.

Oh. What? The teacher just called my name. She is asking what I am doing.

Goodbye for now,

Zo~~~~~

I am in the principal’s office right now, and I am not supposed to be writing in you. If I get caught, I will be sent home. The principal is on a phone call and is standing outside the office. I hope he doesn’t come back in. When I left you my teacher took me here. Then she told the principal what I had done.

Tomorrow there is a Fall Festival. I don’t know if I will go.

Goodbye for now,

Zola

September 30, 2014

Dear Diary,

Today is the Fall Festival. Mom says I am allowed to go if I start talking to my classmates at the festival. She gave me some money to go on rides and get cotton candy and pizza. I think it will be very fun, and I will try talking to some people in my class. See you at the festival!

Goodbye for now,

Zola

I am at the festival. This is what the festival looks like. It is crowded and noisy and smells like popcorn and lemonade. There are colorful tents. Some have red and white stripes on them, and others have blue and green stripes on them. There are scary rides because we are getting near Halloween! Some rides spin around and around while spooky monsters pop out at you. Some rides are nice and fun for little kids. Over there is one of the most popular girls. Her name is Emma. I am going to go over and try talking to her. Here I go! Wish me luck diary.

Good bye for now,

Zola

Dear Diary,

Let me give you an update on what just happened. I went over to Emma and I said, “Um, um…hi. I was wondering if you wanted to go on the Death Scream ride with me?”

Emma told me, “No, you little baby. I bet you are too scared to go on it by yourself. You just want me to go with you.

And then I said, “Oh, I’ll go on it by myself then.”

And then Emma said, “You’re way too scared. You just want me to think you’re brave.”

But I still wanted to go on the Death Scream, so I got tickets and got in line. The line was so long. When I finally got to the front of the line, and the person who starts the ride  said, “Next.”

I got on and braced myself. When the ride started, I was getting jerked around like I was a piece of paper. I let out a shriek and squeezed up in a ball so I could write in my diary. My hands are shaking so much so it is hard to write.

Goodbye  for now,

Zola

October 1, 2014

Today at school, Emma came up to me and said, “I saw you go on that ride. I was wrong about you. Do you want to be friends?”

“Sure!” I said.

“Can you forgive me for what I said yesterday?”

“Sure!” I said again.

We linked arms and skipped off down the hallway.

And that is how my day was.

Now I have a friend.

Yours truly,

Zola

Siblings

Chapter 1

Some siblings play with you, some fight with you, some are your best friends, and some do all of the above. My sibling does none of the above. Well, for now. My brother is my best friend. We used to play together, study together, talk to each other in the night, and trust each other with our secrets, but now we can’t do any of those things. He was recently paralyzed, but now we are teaching him how to walk, talk, and do math. We are turning him into the boy he used to be.

I am Meg and I will tell you how my brother, Matt, became paralyzed. We live in New York City. Nine months ago my brother was walking across the street and a car was speeding. My brother tried to back up and the man in the car tried to slow down, but it was too late. The man in the car hit my brother, and he screamed. My brother fell to the ground and he didn’t move. My mother got a call and she ran to the street where he got hit. I ran after her (let me remind you my brother was totally fine before this). We took ten minutes to get there. We were panting so much. When my mom and I got to the street he was being pulled into the ambulance. We went in with him. He didn’t make a sound. He didn’t move. My mom surely thought he was dead. There was blood all over his body. I couldn’t think straight.

My mom was crying and crying. Once we reached the hospital they took him into a testing room. I was sitting outside of the door crying because by now I thought he was dead too. I did not want my best friend and brother to die. Once they came out they said, “He is alive,” (I sighed with relief) but, he was paralyzed. At that point my mom stopped crying and she said, “Can you treat him?” they said, “Yes, but, he will be needing therapy.”

So, one month after that he got paralyzed he started therapy. Now, eight months later he can finally walk. He can finally have a full conversation. He still cannot read, write, and do physical activities. So I, Meg Warner, have volunteered to help.

I am younger than him, yet at this point, while he is being trained and he is going into eighth grade, I know how to do more activities than he does. That does not mean I am smarter than him, it just means we have to get all of the knowledge he has out of the back of his brain. Every day I work on math flashcards, reading flashcards, and spelling flashcards with him. We started off with preschool flashcards. He did well at those. Then we did kindergarten, which still wasn’t terrible. Then, everything up to sixth grade was fine, but seventh and eighth he is blanking out on. So those two grades are what we will have to teach him. He is getting the math of seventh grade, but his spelling is not great. So we don’t really work on math. We have been working on reading and spelling for weeks and he still can’t get it right.

Now, after weeks and weeks, we are going to the doctor to see if he has dyslexia. The test was positive. He has dyslexia. That makes the process of teaching twice as hard. So now I can not teach him, the doctor will. That is just the start of my brother’s story.

Chapter 2

About My Brother

So my brother is a normal boy and I still believe that. He just needs to learn what he already knows. My brother was born August 3rd, 2003. He is two years older than me. He is twelve and I am ten.

We live in a brownstone building downtown. I can’t tell you exactly where for safety reasons. We have a big house and we also have added a training room for my brother for when his physical therapist comes.

He goes to the Anderson School and I go to The Dalton School. Well, now he isn’t in school, he is technically homeschooled but with a doctor. When I was a baby, he loved holding me and taking care of me. Now it’s my turn.

His favorite sport is tennis. He also likes playing soccer. He cannot do any of those anymore. As a small child he was on a soccer team and, before the accident, he was ranked seventy-fourth in the tennis Eastern Conference. He keeps telling me he wants to play tennis, but I say, “No you can’t. That will hurt you more.” He gets mad and storms off. I never intend to hurt his feelings, but he thinks he is still the boy he was before the injury. I tell him, “We are trying to turn you into that boy,” but he has to be taught. He still is the same boy but he has to be trained to be as smart as he possibly can. He also has to be able to do physical activities.

My brother and I have almost as much fun as we used to. He can talk, walk, and have fun with me. The thing is he can’t play catch with me, tennis with me, play soccer with me, skate with me, and pretty much do any sport with me. He now talks to me like he did. In the night we talk but a lot of nights he is in the hospital. We are both lonely those nights.

His spelling and writing is the level of my grade, which actually isn’t that bad considering that he has dyslexia and I am not bad at writing and reading. Technically he is doing really well.

Chapter 3

The Bad News

We are walking with him down the street (we take a wheelchair just in case), when my mom got a call. You know when your mom gets a call and then all of a sudden she goes serious? Well, that’s what happened. As she picks up the phone I see a contact that says “Matt’s Doctor.” I get scared.

After my mom puts down the phone, I ask her what happened and she says, “Matt has to go to the doctor right away.” I am traumatized by now so I just sit and watch. She calls my dad, and he comes straight to the hospital. They say, “Matt has a tumor.” They say something about taking a CT scan. They think he has cancer, but I don’t believe it. It can’t be true, can it? We go straight to the hospital. We take an uber to get there. It comes so quickly, and we get to NYU Langone. They take him into a room to take a CT scan. We have to wait outside of the door on the chairs. He comes out with different-colored wire things on his head. One is red, one is blue, one is green, one is yellow, and there are also other colors. He is very drowsy, so we take him home and he falls asleep.

Through those days we are very scared for the result.

We finally get the results and they say, “He has a brain tumor.” I start crying. He walks up to me and hugs me. I am so sad. He almost fully recovered from being paralyzed, and now he has a tumor. The nurse tells us he will have to stay there overnight. When he is conscious he says, “I want to have the surgery so I can live, pursue my tennis dream, have a normal life, and not remember all of this happening to me. I definitely don’t want to not have the surgery because the tumor will kill me. I am very scared for the surgery.”

I try to stay strong and say, “You’ll be fine. I have to go, bye.”

In the night I am worried and lonely. I don’t want my brother to die. “The tumor isn’t big,” they said. They said, “The surgery isn’t that hard but it is risky.” My parents are trying to decide if he should have surgery. If he doesn’t have surgery, the tumor will spread and he will die at some point. If I have a say in it I will say yes because he would be fine after that (hopefully).

Chapter 4

The Decision

So my parents are talking all night and the doctor says, “If you want him to have the surgery it will be tomorrow.” They finally agree on letting him get the surgery. The doctors say, “It might make teaching him two times harder.” I know he will be the same boy. So the next day we see him on the chair in the hospital. They give him a shot that will make him fall asleep and then they take him into the other room. I am so scared. My brother could be dead in two hours or he could be a healthy kid in two hours, but my hopes are up.

I have been waiting in the waiting room for two hours and he’s not out. Is he okay?

The doctors come out with my brother on the chair. He is unconscious. They say, “The surgery went well.” I am so happy I jump out of my chair and hug him. (Remember he is still unconscious).

The doctor says, “He will have to take Tylenol or Advil for his headaches.” The doctors say, “He just can’t do any physical activities or physical therapy for two weeks.”

He stays there overnight. In the morning we pick him up from the hospital and he acts normal, but we have to take him in the wheelchair because he can’t walk until the physical therapist comes. We talk. I ask him how he felt. He says, “I’m fine,” but he has a headache. I tell him to go ask Mom to give him Tylenol. He says, “Okay.” He goes and asks.

Chapter 5

Physical Activities

Two weeks have passed and he wants to start tennis again. My brother can’t move very fast yet. He can’t walk because he isn’t allowed to, and now he has forgotten how to. So we get the physical therapist to come, so soon he will be able to play tennis. The physical therapist says, “It will be easy to teach him how to walk and run.” The problem is that he can’t move fast. He takes three days to get his legs to move fast. Then it takes three more days to get him to get a tight grip on the racket. It takes five days to strengthen his leg and arm muscles. He is able to play tennis. He tries out for a tennis team called The Ravens.

He gets on the team! He has a match in one day, which is the state’s match. He has been trained really well and I think he is ready.

We go to the match. He wins the first set six to one and wins the second set six to zero. He wins!!! We celebrate by buying a cake and eating it while watching Lemonade Mouth the Movie! The minute he won I knew he was totally fine.

Is There A McDonald’s In Beach Haven

SLAM! I crash to the ground. “Ow!” I say. Asher slammed his locker door and “accidentally” kneed me in the stomach. That’s how tall he is. Not that I’m short.

“Hey! Watch where you’re going!” Connor says.

“How about she watches where she’s going!” Asher says while he walks away.

“Are you okay?” Emma says. Connor, Emma, Lisa, and I are a group.

“He’s a jerk,” Lisa says.

“He should be suspended,” Connor says.

Suddenly, I get dizzy. Having people say a bunch of things at once doesn’t help a throbbing head. But then I start wondering, Why does my head hurt when he kneed me in the stomach? I hear more noises:

“Hey! Back off!”

“What was that for?”

They grow fainter and fainter…

”Olivia. OLIVIA!!!” My eyes dart open. Lisa is standing in front of me. “Hi,” she says.

I look around me. I am lying on a bed in the nurse’s office. I see Emma talking to the nurse, and Connor talking to the principal.

“Whats happening?!” I ask. Everyone stops to look at me.

“You’re awake!” the nurse says.

“Yeah,” I say. I pause for a second. Something is wrong. I’m forgetting to do something. “OH NO!” I scream. I grab the Band-aid on the nurse’s desk. I forgot to wash it. I walk to the sink and run the Band-aid under cold water. I smile as I turn the water off and dry it. Everyone is staring at me. “What?!” I say. I place it on the nurse’s desk. I walk back to the bed and lie down.

3 YEARS LATER

“Wake up!” my mom says.

“I am awake!” I tell her. “It’s summer! Why are you waking me up?!”

My mom sighs. “It’s too late to be sleeping still.”

Under the covers, I take a look at the clock. It reads 8:48. “What do you mean by ‘too late’?!” I reply.  Silence. I realize what she meant. I told her yesterday I would go shopping for her at the Pearl Street Market. “Ugh.” I roll out of bed at start picking out my clothes as my mom leaves the room. I decide to wear a beach cover up. It looks like a dress so I’m pretty sure no one will notice. I walk into the bathroom and brush my teeth and brush my hair. I walk into the kitchen where my mom usually is. “Mom, I’m ready!” Silence. “Hello?!” Silence.

“Hello big ten-year-old sister!” Liam, my little brother jumps out of the kitchen. He is only four years old.

”It’s not my birthday. I’ve told you a million times to buy a calendar. I’m already ten!” I say back to him.

“Oh,” he says. I walk away from him and look for my mom. I find her in the living room, staring at the TV, wide-eyed with my other little brother, Jackson. She looks scared. On the TV, it says BREAKING NEWS.

“Mom, I’m ready.” She looks at me and turns off the TV quickly.

“Okay sweetie, be safe,” she says.

“Yeah, be safe,” Jackson echos. I give him a weird look.

“Oookay. Bye, Mom. And, uhhh, Jackson.” I walk outside and hop onto my bike. Out of the corner of my eye I see my mom and Jackson waving. Jackson’s acting too mature to be eight years old. I get so lost in my thoughts. Why are they acting so worried? What happened on the BREAKING NEWS? I get so lost that I forget to make a left on Pearl Street and go so far that I’m in front of the “Welcome to Beach Haven” sign. I turn back and (finally) make it to Pearl Street Market.

I lock my bike and walk inside. I love Pearl Street Market. It looks like an old fashioned market and it smells like a new book which is the best smell ever. I stall sometimes because I don’t want to leave. There is always a bowl of Hershey’s Kisses on the counter, so I take a couple and put them in my pocket.  I pick up the basket and grab everything quickly. I wasted a lot of time getting lost.

Out of the corner of my eye I see BREAKING NEWS on the TV.  I do a  double take. I stare at the TV just like my mom did. The news reporter says, “…got in a fist fight at McDonalds due to… ”

Bump!

“Ow!” I say.

“Sorry!” the girl says. She’s about to walk out the door when I stop her.

“Emma?” I say. She turns around and looks at me.

“Oh. Hi,” she replies.

I haven’t seen her since the first day of third grade, when I got a concussion. We were lost so we ended up in the middle school floor. Then Asher kneed me in the stomach and I banged my head on the ground, and… stuff. I changed schools because my mom didn’t want me at that school anymore, even though Asher got kicked out of school. In that school, you get kicked out easily. Emma walks back inside.

“Did you hear what happened on the news?” I ask her.

“No,” she says and stares at the TV. I stare at the TV also.

“The person who got in a fist fight just seems so familiar,” I tell her.

“But my brain’s telling me not to look anymore.” She looks over to me with wide eyes.

I hear the TV say, “Asher Gray….”

I look at her with wide eyes also. “No way,” I tell her. I look back at the TV.

“Asher Gray, the person who started this fight, attacked Leonardo Smith. Asher did run away after. If you have anymore information, call 1-800-CRIME-STOPPERS.”

I turn back at her and say, “We have to find Leonardo Smith.”

“Why in the world do we have to find Leonardo Smith?” Emma asks.

“Because,” I tell her, “We want to know information about where he might have gone and then report it to the police.” I say it all in one breath. I gasp.

“Well,” Emma says. “Where are we going to start?”

“McDonalds,” I tell her. I drop my basket and run to my bike. She follows me. We both hop on our bikes and start pedaling.

“Where is this McDonalds?” Emma asks.

“I don’t know,” I say.

Emma rolls her eyes. We start pedaling around until we find a McDonalds. There is a bunch of caution tape around it.

“I think this is it!” I tell her. We are only on Main Street, so we aren’t that far away from home. Home! What if they think something bad happened to me!? And the breaking news that they saw…

Oh no.

We arrive at the McDonalds. Looking through the window, we see knocked over chairs, garbage everywhere, and tables knocked over also. “Okay,” I whisper to Emma as we jump off our bikes, “here‘s the plan. We pretend that we are cousins of Leonardo and are longing to know where he is. Got it?” She nods. We walk in the McDonald’s and see police talking.

“Excuse me?” Emma says.

“Hey! What are you kids doing here? Get out!” the policeman says.

“No, please! We are cousins of Leonardo! Do you know where he is?” I say.

“Why didn’t you come to the hospital when your family went?” the police officer asks.

“We were uhh… ” Emma says. She gives me a kick in the shin.

“Ow!” I say. “I mean we were uh… camping,” I tell the police officer.

“Yeah. Camping,” Emma adds.

“Okay,” the police officer says.

“Your cousin is in the Beach Haven hospital — ”

“Okay, thanks!!” Emma says. We jump on our bikes and head toward the hospital.

“Emma. My mom is going to be so worried. She was looking at the TV like she was scared this morning. She is going to think something is wrong,” I tell her. She says nothing back. I tell her to make a right turn. When we get to the hospital I hit a bump and I feel my bike go lower and slower. “Stop!” Emma slows down. We stop in front of the hospital. “Oh no, oh no, oh no!!! I think my tire broke,” I say. I set my bike down and look at the tire. There is a small hole, and it doesn’t go all the way through. In the trash I see a roll of duct tape. I take it out and measure a piece. I think about how I’m going to cut it, but I use all of my strength and pull it off. I put it on the hole.

“It probably should still work!” I say to myself. Emma and I lock our bikes and walk in the hospital. We walk up to the front desk.

“Hello,” Emma says. The receptionist turns around to look at us.

“Why hello there,” she says. “What can I do for you?”

“We would like to see Leonardo Smith please,” I say. She click-clacks away on her computer.

“Alright then. Is he expecting you?”

Emma pauses. “Um… we are… We are detective cadets for the police and we need to find out more information. About, you know.”

“You’re cadets for the police?” the receptionist asks. Not like she wants to know, she asks like she wants to know if we are kidding.

“Yeah. We are more mature then we look, you know,” I tell her.

“Alright,” she says. “Room 515.”

We walk through all the long hallways. 407, 408. “Where’s the elevator?” I say to no one in particular.

“515 is on this floor you know,” Emma says.

513, 514, 515! I peek through the window and see Leonardo laying in the hospital bed. He has several bruises on his face. I can’t see the rest of his body, and I’m kind of glad I can’t. He could have some really bad injuries. There is no doctor or nurse in the room that I see, so I push open the door with Emma trailing behind me.

“Hello?” I say. I’ve now confirmed that no doctor or nurse is in the room, so Emma and I walk in further.

“Hello,” Emma says to Leonardo. “We are police cadets. We need to find out more about the fist fight at McDonalds. So. Tell us everything.”

Leonardo looks at Emma like she’s a madman. “What?” he says.

“Did you not hear me correctly?” Emma asks politely. “What I said was we are police cadets and we need to find out more information about the fist fight at McDonald’s. What we really need to know is, did you see where Asher went after he ran away?” He nods like he’s taking it all in.

“No.”

“What?!” I say a little too loudly.

“No,” he says. “But I saw where he ran away to, not where he went after he ran away.”  Emma and I sigh with relief. Not only was he believing the story about being a police cadet, but he knows where Asher ran away to!

“He went to the apartment right next to the McDonald’s. That’s all I know.”

“Okaythat’sgreathanks!” Emma says excitedly as she pulls me by my arm out of the room. We run back down all the hallways.

We run past the receptionist, who shouts, “No running!!” She’s probably thinking, I should have never let them in. We finally make it outside. I look at the tire on my bike. It is still duct-taped, but it looks fine. It should just go a little slower. We get on the street, and I find out my predictions were correct. It goes a little slower. Okay, a lot slower. But I can’t do anything about it now. It takes us thirty minutes longer than we planned to get there. I check my watch. It reads 11:38. I cringe. Mom is going to be sooo mad. We park our bikes in front of the McDonald’s where the fist fight happened.

“Oh gosh,” Emma says with a sigh. The apartment looks gloomy and old and unwelcoming.

“We need a break,” I say. Emma’s stomach growls loudly.

”A lunch break,” she says. I feel bumps in my pocket. I take them out and see that they are Hershey’s Kisses from Pearl Street Market. Emma takes half of them and eats them quickly. Chocolate is her favorite food. I eat the rest of them. “Are you ready now?!” She groans as a response. I take it as a yes. I drag her onto the parking lot of the apartment. I almost stick my hand inside a cobweb. I shiver.

We make it to the end of the parking lot. Now in front of us are big numbers that read 675. There is a door that leads to the dark, gloomy, (you guessed it) lobby. The light is flickering. There is no lock on the door, so Emma pushes the door open. There is an elevator in front of us, and the staircase to the left.

“Let’s take the elevator,” Emma says. We walk in the elevator and I really don’t want to because it’s creepy and scary and I want to get out.  Emma is already one step ahead of me. ”What floor should we press? How about six?” She answers her own question.  She presses the button and the doors close. I double take on the button six. It says, FLOOR CLOSED.

“Why the heck did you press that if the floor is closed?!”

“Because it make it more mysterious!! Oooh!” It’s like we switched places.  She was scared to go in first and I wasn’t. Now she’s not scared and I am! We make it to the sixth floor and manage to step over the caution tape before the doors close. Standing in the hallway of the sixth floor, there is no caution tape. But over one apartment there is caution tape.

“Let’s go in that one!” Emma says.

I hide in my fear. “Sure,” I say.

Emma pushes open the door. Surprisingly, it’s unlocked. There is broken glass right near the doorway. We step over it walk inside. The whole time I’m scared that someone will jump out of nowhere. To the left I see a picture of Asher.

“Emma. This is Asher’s house,” I whisper. There is a ruffle sound. My heart skips a beat. We look around and see nothing. In front of us is the living room. Emma motions for us to go there. The room has a TV sitting on top of a shelf. There is an orange couch across from the TV. The walls are a dark yellow and peeling. I walk closer to the TV and see that it’s on. The Cartoon Network flashes on the TV.  I step back. I hear another ruffling sound. A vase tips over, spilling water and flowers and glass all over the floor.

“Emma, we should leave,” I whisper.

“I’ve told you a million times!” says a high pitched voice.

“Emma! Who said that?!”

“Geez,” she says. “It was the TV.”

“Emma we should really go. Someone is in here besides — ” Clank!

Emma and I run out of the apartment. Run as fast as we can!!! We take the stairs instead of the elevator, and I slip and fall. “Are you alright?!” Emma asks. I get up and keep running. We finally make it to the lobby of the apartment and run out the door and through the parking lot. We run to our bike and pedal.

“TO MY HOUSE!” I shout to her. She wouldn’t have heard me if I didn’t shout because the wind was blasting in our ears. I pedal as fast as I can because of my tire. We make it to my house in a good amount of time. I freeze at the front door.

“Just open it,” Emma says. I don’t want to open it. I’m scared. When my mom gets mad, she gets MAD.

“Prepare for.. .well… you’ll find out,” I laugh nervously. It takes all of my bravery to push open the door.

Jackson and Liam are watching TV on the couch. Jackson looks at us. “Olivia’s here!” he says to Liam and  and turns off the TV. “Where have you been?!” Jackson demands. “You are four hours late. You scared us to death!!!” Jackson says, not noticing Emma behind me.

“Well, we were just trying to find a little more information.” I start walking around the living room slowly. “About the um… fist fight that you didn’t tell me about… ”

Without skipping a beat, Jackson says, “Mom didn’t want me to tell you because she thought you would be scared.” I realize I don’t see Mom anywhere.

“Where did she — ”

“There was a fist fight?!!” asks Liam. “That’s totally radical,” he smiles. I roll my eyes. He doesn’t know anything about what really happened.

“Where is Mom?” I ask as I finally get a chance to finish my sentence. My heart is beating out of my chest. That stuff that happened in the apartment really creeped me out.

“You are so lucky.”  Jackson says. “We — ”

“Mom is taking a nap. You are so lucky we aren’t going to tell on you,” Liam interrupts. Liam loves to interrupt.

“Yep. She started taking a nap right after you left,” Jackson adds.

“Wow. That’s so weird.  Why would Mom be taking a nap in the morning? And she must be napping hard if she’s been napping since I left,” I say.  All of a sudden, Liam starts bursting out laughing. Jackson also.

“BUNNY EARS!” Liam shouts. I turn around and Emma is smiling. Now I realize that they were laughing because Emma was doing bunny ears at me. I roll my eyes.

“I just want to get to the good part!!” Emma whispers to me. “Allow me to explain,” Emma announces just as the boys stop laughing. “We are trying to find Asher and report him to the police. We just visited his apartment. Well, most likely his apartment.  There was a lot of paranormal activity. We didn’t get to visit it long enough so,” she says. “Who wants to go back?”

The boys shout,“MEEE!”

“What?!” I say to Emma.

“We can’t just leave them here!” she says.

“We can’t just take them with us!” I shoot back.

“Let’s go!” Emma says and runs outside. I sigh. This is going to be a long day.

Jackson gets his bike from the garage. Emma and I are ready to go. Except one person. Liam.

“Where am I going to go?!” Liam asks. Emma looks at the basket on my bike, then at Liam, and back again. I can see where she’s going.

“No,” I tell her. “You are not going to — ” Emma picks Liam up and drops him in the basket.

“Yay!” Liam says excitedly.

“Is this even legal?” I ask Emma. She doesn’t say anything. “Liam, hold on really tight. Okay?” I tell him.

“I will. Stop worrying!” he says. Emma does a head count. We all head back to the apartment. This Liam-in-the-basket thing actually works, except everyone is staring at us. Emma shouts directions to everyone. She has a good memory. The one thing I always liked about Emma is that she is really brave. Her not wanting to leave that apartment is somewhere between kind of weird and brave.

“Faster, faster!” Liam shouts. I try to go a little faster. I’m still creeped out. My heart is beating really fast. I do not want to go back to that apartment. We make it to the apartment and I have to use all my bravery to get off my bike and lock it. Jackson and Emma wait for me to get Liam out of the basket.

“That was so fun!” Liam shouts. I shush him and tell him that in the apartment, we have to whisper. Liam looks at the apartment in terror. He is about to scream but I shush him again. We walk silently across the parking lot. Same things as last time. Finally, we are standing in front of the apartment door. It’s so scary. I can see it on everyone’s faces also.

“Okay. This is really scary. Like, I’m scared. And you are. And… okay. Well everyone is,” I say nervously. “Just, don’t… or try not to… scream.” Everyone nods.

“Who wants to do the honors?” Emma asks. Nobody answers. “Okay then,” Emma says, “I will.”

Emma pushes open the door. We step over the broken glass, and walk into the living room. The TV is still on, but right when we walk in, it changes to Law & Order. There is a ruffling noise. We all turn around. Liam gives me puppy dog eyes.

“Fine,” I say. I pick him up. He smiles.

“Stop it. No. PLEASE!”

We all get scared. Who said that?

“It was the TV,” Jackson says. Emma starts walking down the hallway. We all follow her, even though we are scared out of our minds. The silence rings in my ears. The hallway is a light blue. I think that’s  a strange color choice, but I can’t focus on that right now. There are pictures of Asher and his family on the wall. This is definitely Asher’s house. We come to the end of the hallway and I hear Liam whimper. There is a closed door at the end of the hallway. Emma opens it and we all walk in. It’s a bedroom. It must be the parents’ bedroom, I think to myself. White walls with a red canopy bed. It looks like a normal bedroom, except it has a weird vibe.

“Let’s split up. Jackson and I explore the hallway. Olivia and Liam in this room,” Emma whispers. Everyone nods. Emma and Jackson go to the hallway and shut the door.

I cringe. I walk back to the door and open it. I look up and see that something is weighing down the canopy on the top. I’m about to put Liam down and investigate more, but the bed skirt ruffles. Like something or someone is ruffling it. Liam, at the worst time, screams at the top of his lungs. I jump and cover his mouth with my hand. Emma and Jackson run into the room.

“What is it?” Jackson whispers. I point to the bed skirt. Nobody moves. We just stare at the bed skirt. It goes like that for a long while. Suddenly, I have a plan.

I put Liam in Emma’s hands, who is very surprised and not quite ready and almost drops him. I carefully climb onto the mattress and grab the thing that was weighing down the canopy without looking at it. It’s a box. I unlock the the chain and I’m about to open it when…

“Hello?!” says a voice. It’s a familiar woman’s voice. I can see Emma’s face go from confusion to scared.

“I don’t think they’re in here!” the voice says.

“Well, we have to investigate, don’t we ma’am?!” a deeper voice says. We hear footsteps in the living room. Where are we going to go?! I do not like the situation I just got put in. We are in an apartment that we didn’t even know about until a few hours ago, trying to find someone who started a fist fight, with paranormal activity, with my brothers and best friend, trying not to get caught, and now there are people in this weird apartment. What the heck are  we going to do?

“Let’s sit in the living room and talk about this,” the deeper voice says. Emma quietly points to the closet in the hallway. It’s a large closet, big enough for all of us to fit in. I wonder how we are going to do this. Emma quickly runs to the closet and opens the door. She signals for us to come in. We run in as quickly as possible, with my heart beating really hard. We all make it in and Emma closes the door. SLAM!! I give Emma a look.

“What the heck?!” I whisper-shout to her. She cringes.

“Sorry!” she whisper-replies.

“What was that?!” the voice says.

“I don’t know. Want to go take a look?” the deeper voice says. I’m shaking my head. No. Please don’t take a look. Please don’t!

“As long as I find my kids!” the voice says. Suddenly, I get a horrific thought. The voice wasn’t just “the voice” anymore.

It could be my mother.

I use sign language to to tell Emma, “It might be my mom.” My teacher taught us sign language. She gives me an “OMG” look.  Jackson looks at us like we are the weirdest people alive because he doesn’t understand sign language. We hear footsteps come closer and closer.

“Do you want to open it?” The deep voice asks. I assume it might be a police officer.

“Wait,” my mom says. “My kids could be anywhere. I just saw their bikes outside.”

“If they could be anywhere,” the police officer says, “They could be in here.” I  close my eyes. Liam actually starts hugging me. This has never happened before, so I hug him back. The door creaks open. Without even looking I say, “Mom?!”

Flight

        

Chapter 1

A Day in my Life

While brushing my teeth, I realized this would be the last week of school. Then it would be summertime. Because my younger brother, Jackson, would be at sleepaway camp the whole summer, it would feel like I’d have the house to myself. The absence of him definitely makes the NYC apartment a lot more bearable. Since his school got out before mine, Jackson was already at camp, meaning I could get to school on time for once without having to drop him off first. I stuck my head outside my bedroom window five stories up to test the temperature. It was a sunny day so I grabbed a tank top and shorts from my drawer, put them on and ran out to get some breakfast. My name is Georgia Meriwether and this is about the best summer I’ve ever had.

On the way to school I watched the pigeon man, as I do everyday. He sits on a bench in Central Park covered with bird seed and awaits attention from his frumpy grey friends, as well as tourists and other onlookers who might give a tip. Walking by today, I saw him with his scruffy grey-brown hair spreading the brightly colored seed mixture across his shoulders, while some unusually albino pigeons were pecking aimlessly at his ankles. With his small earnings from tips, he could only afford to buy a pack of trail mix, a small coffee and some more bird seed. I tipped him a dime, as I did everyday and keep on walking.

I arrived at school at 8:00 a.m., right on time, and my teacher, Mr. Pipington, greeted me with a smile.

“Get all the work done that you need to get done,” he said, “Then read right away when you’re done.” Since I hadn’t yet finished my science homework, I sat down and started reading my weekly science book, “Why Can’t Penguins Fly And Other Bird Mysteries.” Sitting there reading, I learned that, according to researchers, the reason for why penguins can’t fly is that penguins are such good swimmers and no bird can excel at both. Then I started wondering why kiwis, emus and ostriches couldn’t fly. I would have to ask Mr.Guarski, our science teacher, later. You see, Mr. Guarski was an ornithologist (bird scientist) before he became a teacher so he’s basically a birdy dictionary.

The bell rang at 8:30, when I had just finished my report. Because I loved 6th grade science class, I hurriedly got up, unlike some of the others, who were intentionally getting up slowly and dropping their books. I hurried down the stairs and stepped into the science lab, breathing in the acrid smell of lizard feces in the process. I sat down at my desk at the front of the room and waited for the rest of the class and Mr. Guarski to enter.

Chapter 2

Rori

Today Mr. Guarski had brought in Rori, his pet cockatoo, for us to watch. He wanted us to take notes on how it behaved as a bird in captivity, then compare it to the birds we saw outside. His cockatoo looked different than the usual white body with yellow crest. It was slightly pinkish and its crest looked like a sunset. There were bright orange and yellow rings of color, spreading outward to the very tips of the bird’s plumage.

“I’m going to let her out so you can see how she acts,” Mr. Guarski said. “You ready Rori?”

Everyone except for Mr. Guarski jumped when the intelligent cockatoo let out a soft caw, as if replying to Mr. Guarski’s question.

“Kids, that’s something to take note of. Please write in your notebooks, ‘Responds to owner’s command,’ ok?”

I scribbled that down and then looked up to see Mr. Guarski opening up the cage. Rori opened up her wings and swooped up and out. She flew around the hanging light then landed back down lightly on the table to peck up the seeds Mr. Guarski had just lain down, then went back up again. Next Mr. Guarski showed us another one of Rori’s tricks. He threw a treat up into the air and Rori swooped up and grabbed it. A piece of my dirty blond hair blew into my face in the rush of wind left behind.

“Now we’re going to let her explore the classroom,” Mr. Guarski said. “Tirana!” he called to my best friend, “Can you and Georgia go around and close any open windows?”

Once we had closed all the windows, we went back to our seats. I watched as the beautiful bird strutted around the classroom, pecking at different chairs, books, rugs and even Ari Lorenza’s head. The whole class, even Ari, cracked up when that happened. We watched the bird in amazement for another fifteen minutes, then I had an idea that would affect the rest of my life. ‘If bats can fly, and they are mammals with solid bones, why can’t humans fly, too? Why hasn’t somebody invented that before?’ I thought about this more at home after school. I was suddenly shaken out of my thoughts by the silence of the kids around me. I looked up and found that I was face to face with Rori. She gave me a questioning look which turned into surprise and then finally settled on a look of peace. I would’ve never thought a bird with such beady black eyes could give a look of peace. The thing that surprised me the most though was that I wasn’t the least bit surprised that the bird was on my desk. Then just as soon as the moment had begun, it ended and class continued as usual.

Chapter 3

My only barrier

When I got home, I crashed on the couch and started thinking. I thought about the way the bird had looked at me. With such unnatural peace but at the same time, natural peace. I thought about the idea I had had earlier. Then I thought, I could be the inventor of human wings. My summer is completely free and I have the time. Maybe I could do it with Tirana. Then I remembered that she would be in Ecuador, visiting her family. My mind was turning into a tornado of thoughts, swirling and swirling and swirling and swir —

“Stop,” I said to myself, accidentally out loud. Then in my head I said, I need to write this down.

I started making a diagram of how I would create the wings. Since bats are the only true flying mammals (not gliding mammals), I used them for inspiration. On my computer, I found thousands of bat pictures; bats hunting, bats hanging, bats eating and even bats pooping in tiny bunny rabbit costumes while nibbling cheese puffs. The only pictures I really needed were the pictures of bats flying. In the pictures of bats flying, I noticed that all of the bats have their bellies down to the ground. I start drawing a horizontal person on my paper. I looked back up at the pictures and studied the wings. A bat’s wings have three bonelike supports embedded within, that prevent the wings from being limp, useless flaps of skin. I drew arms out of my person and then drew a harness connected to wings, big pieces of undecided fabric cut into semi-rectangular shapes. The wings would have fastened sleeves that would go over your arms. Then I drew a few channels of lightweight wood, like the bones in a bat’s wings.

Next I looked up birds. The birds I saw had the same position flying, belly down, but instead of three thick supports, there are many thin supports overlapping, the feathers. I wondered what the difference was because I knew both systems work. I thought “Birds and bats must fly differently because they’re different species.” I looked up some videos of bats in flight and compared them to videos of birds in flight. I found that the birds could soar without much flapping whereas the bats had to flap more often to keep aloft. I went back to my paper and drew the same person but this time I drew them with feathery wings instead of boney and leathery. I decided that I would make the wings this way because: 1. It wouldn’t tire the wearer out as much and 2. Gliding sounded fun.

“I’m home!” my mom called as the door slammed.

“Mom! Mom!” I said. “Look at the drawing I made.” I heard her take off her shoes as she walked over to the couch. She sat down and I started telling her about my idea. After I told her everything I planned and showed her my drawing, she opened her mouth to say something.

“Georgia honey, I don’t think we’re going to be able to do this. It seems impossible. People have tried over many years and still haven’t succeeded. You can do it on your own time, but I’m not going to give you materials to build it. You’re going to have to get them yourself.”

I was about to say, “But it’ll work! I know it will!”

But she cut me off and said, “I’m not going to help you.” And walked off to change out of work clothes.

Chapter 4

Maggie’s Job

It was the last day of school and Ari brought in doughnuts. I was eating my Boston Cream doughnut with sprinkles and getting chocolate all over my face. Today was basically just a day of gathering things to take home at the end of the day. Since today was a half day, I would have time at home to think about what I would do over the summer and how I would put my idea into action without my parents helping me.

At home, I went to my room and thought about how I would get the money to make my wings. Maybe I could do what other average kids would do — have a lemonade stand or sell cookies? But that seemed boring. Maybe I could volunteer? I went to my computer and looked up “jobs for kids in NYC.” I found websites like, “Dog-Walking! A Perfect Job For Kids” or “Help Clean Up NYC — Kids Welcome!” I wanted to know if there was anything involved with birds, because they were my favorite animal and I might be able to learn something new for my project. So I looked up, “Bird sitting jobs” and found a lady who lived in a building across the street from mine. She had an African Grey parrot for a pet and was going on vacation for a month. Therefore, she needed somebody to take care of her pet. Perfect!

I dialed up the phone number and called the lady.

“Hello?” I said. “I’m calling about the bird sitting job.”

“Oh!” a friendly voice replied. “Would you like to come over now? I’m home.”

I agreed, hung up, and walked over. I knocked on the door and a friendly voice answered.

“Wow, I didn’t know you would come so soon.” A nice lady with puffy brown hair remarked, “My name’s Maggie Waterbury, but you can just call me Maggie.”

I told her that I lived just across the street, loved birds, and would love to take care of hers while she was gone. She told me that the pay was $300 for the month, $10 a day. I was amazed because I expected it to be much less and asked her when her trip would start.

“Well, I’m leaving on May 31st, so you can start taking care of her on June 1st.”

That was in two days and a great time to start my project. “How much food do I give her?” I asked.

“You can give Fluffernut one cup of bird seed a day,” Maggie replied.

“Thank you so much!” I said, assuming Fluffernut was the African Grey Parrot.

“No, thank you,” she replied.

At home, excited about the conversation I just had, and how soon I would be able to start my project, I rewarded myself with some chocolate chip cookies from Barney’s, our neighborhood bakery.

Chapter 5

Fluffernut’s Needs

It was a hot day when I walked over to Maggie’s apartment. I could tell summer was truly starting because beads of sweat were falling into my eyes and I was still getting a sunburn, even with SPF 100 sunscreen slathered all over my body. I walked through the door and heard an excited squawk from Fluffernut. I wandered through the house, looking for the parrot and finally found her spacious cage next to the living room couch. Though dull in color, Fluffernut was beautiful. Being completely gray with exceptions of white feathers around the eye and a couple of red ones in the tail, it’s hard to be a beautiful bird. Fluffernut still pulled it off. Her feathers weren’t scruffy. Instead, they were smoothed down in amazing fashion. I stared in awe for a while, then remembered the job at hand: feeding Fluffernut. I walked into the kitchen, which I found when looking for Fluffernut, and pulled a list from Maggie out of my pocket:

Fluffernut’s Needs:

  1. Give one cup of food to Fluffernut each day
  2. Give one cup of water to Fluffernut each day
  3. Clean Fluffernut’s cage once a week
  4. Let fluffernut fly around living room for five minutes each day

I went into the kitchen and find a measuring cup sitting on the counter. I filled it with seed and then poured it into the bowl labeled ‘food’. Then I filled the measuring cup up once again, this time with water, and poured it into the bowl labeled ‘water’. I went into the living room, set the food and water bowls down, then closed all the windows and the door. I bent down to open Fluffernut’s cage, opened it, and let her fly around the living room. I set a timer on my watch for five minutes. Once that five minutes had passed, I went to catch Fluffernut and found that she was already coming down toward me. She must have an inner timer I thought. I caught her and gently put her back in the cage.

“I’ll see you tomorrow!” I called to Fluffernut, even though I knew she wouldn’t reply.

Chapter 6

Putting my Project to Action

On Friday I received an email from Maggie saying that a $70 check should arrive soon, hopefully on Sunday afternoon. I received the check on Saturday but that was fine with me. Actually better for me, now I could start making my wings sooner than later.

“I’m going to out!” I called to my mom who, at the moment, was making sausages for dinner.

“Out to where?!” she called back.

“The store!” I replied.

“That’s fine with me just as long as you come back before 7:15!” Perfect. It was 6:45 so I would have a whole half an hour to gather my materials.

At John and Susan’s, the hardware store, the first thing I saw was the burnt out light. It was surprising because one of the prominent things they sold was light bulbs. Then Susan came up to me and greeted me.

“Hello, are you looking for anything in particular?” she asked “We have metal, wood, plastic and even fabric.”

“That’s perfect,” I replied “What’s the most lightweight wood you have?”

“Ummm…” She hesitated “Ah! We have balsa wood. It’s only 7.5 pounds per cubic foot. Would you like me to lead you to where it is?”

“That would be great, thank you!” I said as she led me to an aisle labeled ‘Wood.’ Since there were so many shapes, sizes and types of wood, the wood aisle was a very wide, long aisle. Standing at the entrance of the aisle, I could see sections like ‘boards,’ ‘planks’ and ‘posts.’

“What shape of wood are you looking for?” Susan asked “As you can see, our store has lots of variety.”

“I’m looking for some sort of thin stick…” I trailed off, not knowing what I was looking for was called.

“Right this way,” she said, leading me to the section with a sign labeled ‘Rods’.

I mind slapped myself. Mind slapping was something my mom and I made up a couple of years ago. It meant to mentally slap yourself in the face instead of physically to avoid the pain and embarrassment.

“Thank you!” I counted out 30 balsa wood rods, 15 per wing, and continued, “I’m also looking for some fabric. What’s the strongest you have?”

“Well we have kevlar, it’s strong and light,” she replied, “Would you like me to lead you there?”

“That’s great!” I said, “And yeah, could you take me there, I really don’t know my way around this place.” I checked my watch and saw that I had only spent ten minutes of my time. 20 minutes before I had to go home.

The checkout was really easy and John was a really nice guy. I was surprised to find that the total cost was only $40. That meant I would still have money for more materials and even more money after the month was up. Then I remembered I only had seven minutes left to get home so I hurried back.

Chapter 7

Making Wings

I got home at 7:10, giving me just enough time to find a place for my load before dinner. I ran upstairs to my bedroom and put my bags on my desk. I realized I’d forgotten to take off my shoes, and ran back down to return them to the mudroom.

After a dinner of potatoes and sausages, I went upstairs to start my project. I wondered if I should cover the wings with feathers, like a bird. I decided not to because it would make the wings heavier and create drag. The first thing I did was design a harness. The harness was going to be a waist loop and an under-leg strap with straps up the sides of the body that attached to the wings. I cut out a loop for my waist and measured out one strap of kevlar to go under my legs. Then I measured up my arms to make the straps that would go under them.

Once I had finished cutting everything out and sewing it together, I tried my harness on. The underarm straps were too long so I shortened them to a perfect length. Now that the harness was done, I continued on to the wings. I split my basla rods into two groups of fifteen. I arranged the rods in a pattern that made them from the armpit outward. Next I cut out a piece of kevlar in a squarish shape. I put the rods on top and then cut out another piece identical to the previous one. Then I sewed the two pieces together with the rods inside and then sewed around the rods to keep them in place. The first wing was done. I repeated this process on the next wing and then made sleeves for my arms. I wrapped a piece of fabric around my arm and then did it again for my other arm. Then I attached everything together. Sewing the arm pieces to the underarm straps and the wings and then sewing the wings to the underarm straps. Now that everything was together, I tried it on. It felt surprisingly light, like I could flap my wings now and be flying.

“Georgia!” my mom suddenly called, “The ice cream’s out and it’ll melt if you don’t come and get it!”

I hurried downstairs and found a bowl of chocolate ice cream waiting for me.

Chapter 8

Flight

I sat up in my bed, ready for the day. The day I would prove humans could fly with wings if they’re created right. I jumped up, changed out of my pajamas and went out to have a quick breakfast of cornflakes. After, I went straight back to my room.

I slowly slipped my legs into the harness. I slowly slipped my arms into the sleeves. I wanted to try it fast but I also wanted to be careful. I decided I would start by jumping off the bed. I climbed up onto the bed and jumped. Time slowed down. I flapped my wings but that, too, happened in slow motion. I started to go down but I flapped harder and went up, up, up. I could now touch the ceiling. My wings were working! Now that I had gotten the hang of it, flying was easy. I was figuring out how to turn already. I wondered if I could go up straight from the ground. I flapped less and less until my toes touched the ground. Then I started flapping again and I went up! I decided to go downstairs to prove my mom wrong. Humans flying with wings is possible!

When my mom saw me, she jumped. She obviously didn’t think I would actually make wings. My dad, not even knowing about my plan, was even more surprised to see me like this.

“How did….” my mom sputtered.

“I’ll tell you,” I say, “Just after I show you this.”

I swooped off the ground like it was no big deal. But inside I felt super proud. My parents stared in awe as I flew around the living room.

I landed and then told them the whole story. From the beginning of the day that I had the idea to when I first flew.

Later that day I went outside to test it.

“You’re gonna be famous!” many people said to me.

I just nodded in acknowledgement and flew back up into the sky. It was an amazing feeling to be soaring over NYC and I realized that birds are very lucky animals.

When the Two Worlds Came Together 2

         

Chapter 1

It was the same as last time, but now I was in an enormous oven.

It started exactly a year after our last war. I was in the park with Bryan, Eliza, and my new baby sister April. April was two months old. She was long and had dark brown hair and green eyes. In my opinion, she was the most beautiful baby. In her hand she had a stuffed animal that we called “magical unicorn.” She brought it everywhere.

We were talking about the dance next week. Bryan and I were finally together and he had asked me about it. The most popular boy in the grade, Liam, had asked Eliza so now we were going on a double date tonight. I was so excited. This was going to be my first dance!

Suddenly, we heard a loud noise overhead and a person in all black came down on a long skinny rope and grabbed Eliza and Bryan by their waists. I started to run away, holding April in my arms, but I was grabbed and pulled up too. What was going on? What did I do? Was this some sort of punishment? I was scared out of my mind. We were brought onto a large plane. I felt something squirting on my face, and then I blacked out.

I woke up about an hour later. We were in a dark room and it was all black. April was crying softly, and I could sort of make out the shadows of my friends.

“Are you guys there?” I whispered.

“Yes,” they responded.

At the moment, I was terrified of what was going to happen to us. But, mostly, I was worried about what was going to happen to April. What did a tiny baby do to deserve this?

“We need to get out of here,” I said. And that was when the human walked into our room.

“Come with me,” he said.

He was about my height, skinny, and had jet black hair sticking up. Then I recognized him. He was Al Mary. He was the famous criminal who had just broken out of the highest security prison in Pennsylvania! The prison was Alcatraz 2. I knew if we didn’t follow him, then he would kill us. So, I walked out of the room…

Chapter 2

He walked into a glass room and sunlight poured in. The clock on the wall showed us that we had been asleep for thirteen hours. I bet our parents were very worried about us. I thought about what they were doing right now. They could have been looking for us, putting up signs, and calling our other friends. I looked down and immediately felt nauseous because, as some of you know, I am deathly afraid of heights. We were at least 300 feet above our city. I reached out for Eliza’s hand. M.R.S. Rose walked into the room. Now, thank God, we were going to be okay!

M.R.S. Rose was our third grade teacher. Even though she was my favorite teacher, why was she here? Was she the one who kidnapped me?

“Welcome,” she said in an ice cold voice. “You will join us or die.”

“What the heck does that mean?” asked Bryan.

“Why did you take us?” said Eliza.

“Because you guys are the strongest kids I know. I didn’t mean to bring the baby along. But now I realize that I can use her for ransom! Or kill her!” responded M.R.S. Rose.

We were thrown back into the dark room after I started begging for a phone call with our parents. Now, I remember seeing M.R.S. Rose talking on the phone during lunch and recess. Thoughts were racing through my head all at the same time. I really didn’t want to work with M.R.S. Rose, but what choice did I have? If I didn’t join, April would be killed. I couldn’t risk that. Also, I really wanted to know what M.R.S. Rose was doing. That was when I thought of my plan.

After checking for video cameras and microphones, I told everyone my plan.

“We are going to join M.R.S. Rose. And once we know of her plan, we are going to find a phone to call our parents. It’s not very complicated, but it is risky,” I said.

“That sounds great,” said Eliza.

“I hope it will work,” I replied.

Chapter 3

“We swear on the life of April that we will follow your orders and do as you say,” we said in unison.

“Great,” said M.R.S. Rose. “Now come and get your uniforms.”

We walked into the other room and were horrified by what we saw. Bryan was supposed to wear black pants, fancy shoes, and a white top. Emily and I were going to be forced to wear the shortest pink skirts we had ever seen. We were supposed to wear a white top too. It was like we were playing dress-up or something. After we had changed, one of the guards motioned for us to follow him into a deep dark tunnel. We did.

We came out on the other side of the plane. I had a really good view of the plane. It was silver and very big. It was sort of like a big house with windows everywhere, but there were no doors and there was an open end. We were then told to stand guard and make sure that no one tried to come on the plane for a few hours. April was to stay with us and not make a sound. If not, we would be in trouble. We stood there for hours. We watched the sun go down. Finally, people brought us some dinner. After gobbling it down, we kept watching the end of the plane. As the clock reached 10 p.m., another guard came out and told us that we would be here for the rest of the night. He walked off. Then Bryan saw the phone.

The phone was just sitting there on a table in the corner of the room. It was camouflaged and very big.

“We should call right away,” said Eliza excitedly.

“No. We need to know M.R.S. Rose’s plan,” said Bryan.

“We’ll call when we learn more,” I said.

The next morning we found out more.

“Come in my darling children,” a woman said. “My name is M.R.S. Miller. I am the general here and I will be telling you our plan.”

Just my luck, I thought. After this, we can go back and call our parents.

“Our goal is to take over the Earth,” she said. “M.R.S. Rose is our leader. We do whatever she wants. She promised that she would give each group a piece of land to rule and do whatever we want with. All of you people against us will be our prisoners. Now, in one week we are going to go down and take over. And this is going to happen with war…”

We walked back to our post at the end of the ship. We had decided that I would make the call. Bryan and Eliza would keep watch. We ran to our places and I picked up the phone. It started beeping. I knew what that meant. I slammed down the phone and groaned.

“It’s broken,” I said.

After our shift, we walked back to our new room. We had changed back into our normal clothes.

I said to them, “Guys, there is no way our parents with be able to help us. We need to escape ourselves…”

***

Later that night we had another shift. We started walking back to our post when I saw something that caught my eye. Three parachutes were there and could be useful to jump out of the plane. This was our chance to escape.

“Look guys, parachutes,” I said. “We can use them to jump off of the plane.”

“Great idea, Anna,” said Bryan. He kissed me on the lips softly.

“Get a room,” said Eliza.

I pushed away. Wow, that was exciting! Then I remembered what we were about to do.

I thought to myself, This is going to be terrifying! “Aaaahhh,” I shouted.

“Shhh,” whispered Eliza.

We hadn’t even jumped. We checked the parachutes, got ourselves strapped in, and were about to jump. Then we heard the pounding of footsteps behind us. It was the guards, and they had heard me!

“Jump,” Bryan shouted. We grabbed onto each other’s hands and jumped as if there was no tomorrow!

“Wahooo!” we all shouted.

I held onto April as hard as I could. I kept my eyes closed. We were going as fast as a cheetah.

As we got closer to the ground Eliza yelled out, “Pull the yellow tab.”

When we did, we gradually slowed down and landed on the ground. I thought to myself, That was horrible!

Chapter 4

We started walking towards the main road. It was about a mile away from our house. But we had to hurry. We didn’t want M.R.S. Rose catching up. We started running and we finally reached my house. But where was my family?

We walked around to the back of the house and found all of our families talking to the police. They ran towards us and brought us into a group hug.

“Where have you been?” shouted my mother.

“We were worried sick,” my father said.

“Yeah,” said Bryan’s mother. “We want to know everything.”

We went into the house and told the story.

***

“We need to go tell the mayor,” said Bryan’s father. “He will know what to do.”

We decided that Bryan, Eliza, my mother, Bryan’s father, and I would go, and everyone else would stay at the house. After a long car ride with lots of traffic, we reached the mayor’s office. After waiting, (again!) for an hour, the mayor called us inside.

The mayor was a big man who was very serious but loved children and always listened to people’s problems. So, we told him what had happened to us.

He listened carefully and said, “This is a big problem. We need to focus on this immediately. But we need help. M.R.S. Rose has already gotten at least half of the world’s population on her side because of all the brainwashed criminals. They’re probably spread out everywhere, So we’re going to need the help of our good friends the aliens and the demons…”

Chapter 5

“Can we go and find them?” I asked.

“Yes,” said the mayor. “But you need the help of your friends Emily, Jason and Leo. You are all so strong together. You can get anything done. We need you.”

Those words made me want to help more. I knew I would do anything to help.

That night, we put together a bag of all the stuff we would need to drive there: food, phones and clothes. We also had knives just in case we had to fight. I’d used them before. At dawn the next morning we started walking to the entrance of the demons main cave. The demons lived in the mantle of the Earth. It would take us three days to drive there and another three days to drive to the alien’s spaceship landing spot. This was going to be a long trip!

The next morning we were all shouting.

“No it’s not!” she said.

“Yes it is!” he said.

“No it’s not” she said.

“Shut up guys,” I shouted. ““Emily is right. That is Connecticut. Jason, please be quiet.”

“Hey look, there’s a metamorphic rock. Metamorphic rocks have been under the Earth in the mantle unlike humans. Humans would not be able to stand the heat,” Jason said.

I turned around and pulled the pointing hand out of the baggage. “Thomas, what the heck are you doing here?” I asked.

“Ummm, I wanted to come with you,” he said.

“Do Mom and Dad know?” I asked.

“Yeah, I left them a note. And Ki-Ki’s parents know too.” he said,

“Wait, why would my parents know too?” asked Bryan.

“Because Ki-Ki and Maya are here with me too!” he said.

“Why did you bring them!?!” asked Emily.

“Because they wanted to come,” Thomas said.

Maya and Ki-Ki popped out.

“Well it’s too late to go back now. I’ll call our parents and let them know that we have the little ones,” I said.

***

After the phone call, we kept on driving. Two hours later, we pulled up to a deep looking cave. We got out of the car and started walking inside.

“Welcome,” said a deep dark voice, “to the diamond caves. We are the demons. What may we do for you?”

“Hello, we are here to see your leader,” I said. “Please tell him that it’s Anna and friends here.”

We heard a crackle and then footsteps. Then a demon walked up to us.

“Hi Anna! Remember me?” she asked.

“Of course,” I replied. “You’re Amelia, the demon who showed me the way to your leader last time.”

“Yeah,” she said. “You remember me! Now follow me and I’ll take you to my leader.”

Chapter 6

We walked down a tunnel and into a very light room. In that room sat the demon leader. He was reading a big book that had writing on the cover: A Demon’s Guide to Eating Healthy. I didn’t know that demons could even read!

“Hi sir,” said Emily. “We have been sent to talk with you about joining us in a fight.”

“Sit down. Sit down,” said the demon. “Please call me Raymond. Now tell me what this fight is about.”

After explaining everything to Raymond, we bartered with him. “We will join you,” Raymond said, “if next time we are in a fight you will join us.”

“Agreed,” Jason said. “But we need you now.”

“Then let me just rally up my troops and we will follow you,” said Raymond. “But don’t you think that we should get the aliens on our side also?”

I responded, “And that’s where we’re going next…”

Again after a 3 hour drive, with all of the demon troops following us, we reached the aliens’ landing spot. It was a dark brown color with no windows. It was in the shape of a circle. After telling the demons to wait there, we walked into the building. We were pulled up into what looked like a tornado! It pulled us onto the spaceship and plopped us down on the ground. We were all too stunned to say anything.

“Welcome to the alien spaceship, please state why you are here. My name is Riley and I want to know all about you.”

“Hi,” said Emily. “We need your help. We need to talk to your leader.”

***

“Come in,” shouted a squeaky loud voice. “So, Anna and friends, welcome back. What may I be able to do for you?”

“We need your help sir,” said Jason. “Can you give us your army to fight against half of the humans?”

“Of course,” he responded. “For a price. We will one day need your help too. So if we ever need to fight against anyone then we need your army to help us.”

“Agreed,” said Eliza. “But we need you now…”

Chapter 7

“We’re back!” we shouted.

“Welcome,” said the mayor. “I see you have brought our good friends with you. Let us get you comfortable. We have emptied two hotels for you. Please take a room and enjoy while I talk to the children in my office. We will meet tomorrow outside the Ritz Hotel. Goodbye.”

And with that they all left and we were alone with the mayor. “Now tell me,” he said. “What did they want in return?”

We told the mayor everything. “Wow,” he said. Well if that’s what they want then that’s what we’ll give them.”

So we left and went home to rest for tomorrow. “You’re back,” shouted my parents. “Maya and Thomas, don’t you ever do that again. We almost called the police.

“Sorry,” they said. “We won’t do it again.”

“Now go upstairs and get ready for bed,” said my mother. “And we want to talk to you two.” As soon as they left, Jason and I started whining, “We didn’t do anything, it wasn’t our fault, they snuck into the car by themselves.”

“Oh don’t worry,” said my father. “All we wanted to say is, you will not be fighting in this war.

***

At midnight Jason snuck into my room and sat on the bed. “Anna, Anna, wake up.”

“What the heck Jason,” I whispered. “It’s the middle of the night and you’re going to wake up the whole neighborhood.”

“Sorry,” he said. “But we need to talk. I’m going to war…”

“No You Can’t,” I said. “Mom and Dad won’t let you.”

“I don’t care,” he responded. “I’m leaving.” And he stomped out of the room. Whatever, I thought to myself, I’ll talk some sense to him in the morning…  

Chapter 8

The next morning I woke up to police sirens outside of the house. I ran out of my room and downstairs.

“Stop,” said Maya. “Mommy said you need to go get April. Then we get to watch TV!”

“OK,” I said. “But what’s going on?”

“I don’t know but Mommy said to —”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, I get it,” I yelled. I ran upstairs and grabbed the kids. Then I ran back down plopped Maya and Thomas down in front of the TV and ran outside. And what I saw I will never forget.

That morning I fainted when I saw him.  There was blood everywhere. So much blood. I woke up two minutes later. Lying on the ground was Jason. The paramedics were working on him. From the looks of it, he had been hit by a car. One of the paramedics then shouted, “We’re losing him, we need to get to the hospital.”

“Run inside Anna,” shouted my dad. “Grab your sister and brother and come with us.”

At the hospital they wheeled him into the emergency room. We ran in after him. By this point I was freaked out. I was thinking to myself, who has done this? What had happened? When had this happened? And then I realized that because I had told him he couldn’t join the army. He had run away. He had RUN AWAY!!!!

Three hours later the surgery was done. Jason was unconscious but stable. He would never be able to move his left arm again. But thankfully that was all. He had an IV, a broken leg in three places, and his heart had to be re-started twice. He had six broken ribs too. But other than that he would be alright. It turns out the guys in the car who had hit him were drunk. They were now in jail. The Mayor’s orders. And the fight with M.R.S. Rose was starting tomorrow…

Chapter 9

“And now we fight!” shouted the Mayor. And the troops charged forwards! I was standing up next to the Mayor with Eliza, Emily, Leo and Bryan. Everyone except Jason who was still in the hospital. The armies were going to meet M.R.S. Rose and her army. All of our parents had told us to not get involved in the fight. And after what had happened to Jason, we all agreed. Now we were about to go have lunch with the Mayor. But, just then we were grabbed by three men in ninja outfits and pulled onto M.R.S. Rose’s plane. Again…

“Where are we?” shouted the mayor.

“Shhh,” said Eliza. “We’re back on M.R.S. Rose’s plane. We need to find a way to get off.”

“Hey look,” said Leo, “There’s a door. We can see where it leads.” We walked towards it and Bryan put his hand on it.

“Ouch!” he shouted. “It’s electric. There’s no way that we’ll get out now.” And that’s when the door opened.

“Welcome back,” said M.R.S. Miller. “And for those who don’t know me, I am the general here. And you will now follow me.” We walked into a room with flowers everywhere. And sitting at a table was M.R.S. Rose.

“Hi kids,” she said. “Come, follow me.” We walked down another hallway and into a side room that we had missed before. In the room I saw something that terrified me.

A giant oven.

Chapter 10

“Nooooo,” I shouted. I can’t go in there. I’m claustrophobic!”

“And that’s why you’re going in there,” said M.R.S. Rose. “Until the mayor surrenders I will keep you in there.”

We walked into it and she closed the door. I was pushed into the middle of it. It was at least 100 degrees In there. As M.R.S. Rose walked out of the room she said, “And if you don’t surrender then you will die.” And she slammed the door behind her.

“Come on Leo, you can do it!” I shouted. But just as I said that Eliza and Bryan both fainted because it was now at least 125 degrees.

“Keep on going,” said the Mayor. “Soon I’m going to faint too.”

“I got it,” Leo whispered. And the door clicked open. We dragged Eliza and Bryan outside and closed the door. A few minutes later Eliza and Bryan woke up and we walked into the hallway. And ran right into M.R.S. Rose.

“HAHAHA! Look at this, M.R.S. Rose,” I said. “We’re winning the war and we’ve escaped. You can see now that we are going to win this war.”

“Yes children, you’re right,” she said. “So now I will give up and give you the win and the world.” And with that she pulled out a knife and said, “I have never been good enough for this world, for my parents, for my students, and for anything. So now I say good-bye.” And with that she stuck the knife in her heart and fell to the ground.

And at that second, she was gone.

Chapter 11

I sat in my room for the rest of the day. The funeral had been horrible. And the worst part, M.R.S. Rose was dead, and I hadn’t done anything to stop her. I knew that I would live with this forever. But right now I needed to think of all the good things that M.R.S. Rose had done for me and all of the other kids she had taught. She had been a good person till the depression and the craziness had hit her. I would remember her forever. And I hope other people would too. I heard a knock on the door and I ran downstairs. There were Eliza and Bryan. I’m so lucky to have them. And now my life would be back to normal.

A Grimm Life

April 11, 2006.

It was cloudy day and it looked like it was about to rain. I, Violet, was just getting out of school and going home. My mother worked at the Mount Sinai as a nurse, so she always got home from work late. Ever since my father died on a business trip, Mom has had to work extra hard for money to help the family. I have a little brother named Zack and a golden retriever named Butterscotch. So when I got home my brother was watching my favorite Disney movie, Aladdin, so I started watching too. It is the best Disney movie ever, in my opinion.

Everything was normal until the TV got blurry and turned off. Then it sprung back to life but it was on a channel that neither I nor my brother had seen before. The man on the screen was tall and wearing a black cloak. He reminded me of Jafar the evil sorcerer from Aladdin the Disney movie. He was carrying a staff with a snake head.

The strange man started speaking in some kind of foreign language and then he said “You will never stop me, Grimm family.”

Then I got scared. Grimm was my father’s last name. How did that man know me? I momentarily forgot that my brother was still in the room. I kept watching until he screamed. I looked back at him, and he was petrified and pointing behind me. Then I heard a crash, so I turned around and I saw a red parrot holding a book in his beak. Then I noticed that the book wasn’t just any book, it was the last gift my father left for me before he died. He said not to open it until the secret was revealed. I realized that the parrot looked like Iago, also from Aladdin. All of this was so weird I just wanted to collapse on my bed and wake up and this would all just be some nightmare like the ones I got when I was younger. Then the ground started to shake and my brother started crying. I wished my mom was here to comfort me. I ran over to Zack’s room, but he wasn’t there anymore. Then a creepy shadow appeared behind me and I screamed. The figure covered my mouth and tied my hands, and then took me away. Blackout!

When I woke up I wasn’t in my room and I couldn’t see Zack. I recognized that I was in a rose garden. I heard someone talking so I decided to go ask where I was. I walked inside a castle and I found the person who was speaking. I soon realized she was not a person but a teapot, like the one from Beauty and the Beast.

I was desperate to find my brother, so I asked the teapot anyway, “Hello, have you seen a little boy with brown hair and hazel eyes?”

The teapot looked at me and shrieked, “Aren’t you a Grimm descendant?”

This is crazy, I thought. Even a teapot knows my last name. “How do you know my last name?” I asked the teapot.

“Because your father was the king of Fairyland, duh.” And that was the end of the line for me. First a creepy man communicates to me via TV channel, then my brother disappears, and then I find out my dad was a king of a make-believe land. I wished I was at home in my bed watching TV with Zack and Mom and laughing over Zack trying to catch popcorn in his mouth while Mom frantically tried to clean it all up.

I asked the teapot who the king of Fairyland was currently and she said, “The sultan of Agrabah, or as most people know him, Jasmine’s father.”

“Mrs. Potts,” I heard a singsong voice call, “may you please help set the table?”

I thanked the teapot and set off to find my brother. I had a strange feeling someone was watching me, but when I turned around no one was there but a snake with glimmering emerald eyes. It was strange, but I had no proof that someone was watching me.

***

I got so tired after walking for an hour. I had seen many famous fictional landmarks such as Sleeping Beauty’s palace and Rapunzel’s tower. When I saw Rapunzel’s tower I heard a strange noise. It’s probably nothing serious, I thought. It’s Fairyland. It was amazing but I was exhausted. I saw a little cottage that looked very cozy and decided to knock on the door and ask if I could stay the night.

When I knocked on the door a young little girl with blonde hair answered with a whimper. She said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t know who owned this house. I did not mean to intrude.”

“Wait, did you say ‘intrude?’” I asked suspiciously. “Because this isn’t my house.”

Her eyes got big. “So the so-called rumor that people were speaking about, with the bears, was true?” she asked, frightened.

“Possibly,” I said reluctantly. I did not want to scare the little girl.

Then I hear a loud growl and a stomp and I rushed to hide but the little girl was not quick enough. There were three bears standing in the doorway and they started chasing the little girl, which I figured out was Goldilocks. While that went on for about a few hours I decided to look around for a bit. I was looking through some drawers, and then found a book that looked very familiar. It was my father’s book!

How did it get here? I wondered. I quickly shoved the book in my bag and took off. I felt kinda bad for leaving Goldilocks there to deal with those bears. But that feeling wore off soon enough. When I looked at the note on the notebook it had changed. Now it said, Open me. Now is the right time.

I opened the notebook and a piece of paper fell out. I picked it up and saw that it was a map of Fairyland. It showed every place in all of Fairyland, even secret passages. I was very hungry so I went to the ice cream store. I ordered a mint chocolate chip ice cream and continued on my journey to the palace of the sultan.

I was walking when I ran into a lady with a fur coat and a weird accent. She was chasing some poor puppies all around the cornfield. So I just crept away. I was getting really nervous. What if they had killed Zack already? What if they were torturing him? It was too gruesome to think about. I wish it was me who was taken, and not him. He was too young to deal with this kind of stuff. I just wanted to get to the palace, tell the king what happened, and get it all fixed. So I finally reached the palace.

“It looks exactly like it does in the movie,” I muttered. The palace was big, white, and very welcoming. I felt like a princess.

“What was that?” A familiar voice said. It was the teapot.

“Oh hi,” I said in a less than enthusiastic voice. The teapot was very bubbly and talkative (not my favorite qualities).

She said, “I was thinking, how ‘bout if I was your guide to the palace?”

I was in a horrible mood so I said the worst possible answer. “Sure.”

So the teapot and I kept on walking to the sultan’s castle. Mrs. Potts talked about every landmark we passed. Luckily we got there before I took dire measures. I practically ran to the castle door. But that seemed too easy. I was right. There were two rows of guards once I entered the castle.

“Halt. What is your name, madame?” said the guard.

“I’m Violet Grimm,” I replied in a confident voice. The second I said my last name all of the guards gasped. They all bowed and apologized for doubting me, and I requested to see the king. The head guard personally escorted me to the king’s throne room. Once I saw the king’s throne room it was my turn to gasp.

Oh my gosh. The whole room was covered in turquoise and diamond jewels. If I had less than half of those jewels it would solve our family’s money problems. Then I heard a deep voice which broke me out of my “trance.” I quickly came back to reality and rushed to ask my question.

“Excuse me, I was wondering could you help me find my brother. Someone kidnapped him. My name is Violet Grimm and my brother is Zack Grimm. A man in a tall black cloak and holding a snake staff took me here but I don’t know who took my brother or where he is.”

His face turned from smiling to a big worried frown. “That person that took your brother was a group of fairytale villains called the VKN (Villain Kidnappers) and the head of that society is Maleficent but she makes Jafar do all the work.”

“Ugh, that Jafar. What a traitor,” said the king, disgusted. “I will definitely help you find your brother. In fact, those villains have been capturing people all over Fairyland. I’ve been trying to stop them for a long time.”

“I have a map of Fairyland so if we need it, we can find shortcuts,” I said.

The sultan was very surprised. “I thought there were only two copies of those! And I have one of them…. How did you get it?”

“My father was the old king, so I got it from his notebook,” I said.

The sultan had a look of surprise on his face, but then quickly shook it off.

“I heard a rumor that Jafar’s hideout was in the Cave of Wonders. Luckily that’s not very far from here. I can arrange some transportation.”

One hour later….

I couldn’t believe we finally reached the Cave of Wonders! The cave looked exactly like it was shown in the movie –– a giant tiger head with an opening mouth for the entrance. The cave was as big as the palace. I was feeling overwhelmed.

When we entered, we heard a deep, scary voice that said, “Only the Chosen One can enter.”

The king told me to enter and when I did, the cave said, “You are the Chosen One.”

When I entered, the cave collapsed and the opening closed. I felt very alarmed.

I tried to make the most of it, but there was nothing to see the positive side of anything in here. All that was left to do was wait until someone came to save me from this evil cave. So I decided to look around, I mean I was in a cave full of gold.

I was looking around when I tripped over something. When I looked down I found a lamp. I almost cried tears of joy. I wouldn’t be trapped here for the rest of my life. I rubbed the lamp and out came the infamous blue genie. I shouted as fast as I could have, “Genie I wish to get out of this cave.”

“Your wish is my command, madame,” said the genie in a mocking voice. And with a snap of his fingers we were back outside.

Genie said, “You only have two more wishes left.”

“Okay,” I said cautiously. I rushed back to the palace, eager to tell the sultan who I had found. When I got back to the palace, the sultan looked like he had some good news to tell me too.

“We caught Jafar and asked him where your brother was. He told us the location. He is in Rapunzel’s tower. We can head there tomorrow.”

“I also have some good news. I found the genie!” I said.

“Genie, can you help us?”

“I would get your brother, but there is a shield that blocks my magic around the tower,” said the genie. “It’s practically impossible to get in. If you want help to find a way to get into that tower, you should ask Rapunzel herself.”

I said, “That’s a good idea! We will find her tomorrow.”

They headed into a limo to go to Rapunzel’s palace.

***

When they walked into the door, there were a few guards standing in their way.

The guards all stood in a semi-circle, blocking the doorway. One of them said, “No one can enter but Rapunzel’s relatives, or if you have been requested.”

The King whispered to Violet, “I got this.”

The King walked up to the guards and said, “I am the king of Fairyland. You must let me in.”

Some of the guards looked scared but the head guard stayed put. The sultan got very angry and ordered him to leave. Finally, Rapunzel walked out of her door and said, “It’s okay. They must come in.”

Rapunzel had very long, blonde hair and was wearing a light purple dress and a flower crown. She invited them in with a smile.

“So what did you want to talk about? I have a very busy schedule.”

I said, “We wanted to know how you were supposed to get into your old tower.”

Rapunzel’s smile slowly changed into a frown. “Why would you want to get up there?” she said.

The sultan replied with a grim frown. “Her poor brother is trapped up there by Maleficent and Jafar. Luckily we captured Jafar but Maleficent is still loose. We want to get her brother out of there before he gets hurt.”

“I of all people would know how that feels. I will come with you. And you’ll need a rope.”

“Thanks a lot for all you have done for me,” Violet said gratefully.

***

We (the sultan, genie, Rapunzel, and I) finally reached Rapunzel’s old tower. I remembered that weird noise that was coming from Rapunzel’s tower. It was Zack. I called his name and I heard a muffled reply. I deciphered his words to be saying, “Help me, Violet!”

I yelled for Rapunzel to help set up the rope. I told Zack to catch the rope when he hears the word “CATCH!”

5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

“CATCH!”

Zack caught the rope and slide down.

When he got down, I gave him a big hug.

I told him about everything that happen and at the end his facial expression was so funny. It was a cross between scared and relieved. I was so happy to have him back. I remembered about my two wishes left. “Genie, my second wish is to make Zack forget about everything that happened in Fairyland,” I said. “I will miss you guys so much. I had so much fun here in Fairyland.”

The sultan said, “I just realized something. You are the rightful heir to the Fairyland throne.”

“Oh my gosh. I didn’t notice that,” I said. “We can be co-rulers” I said with a smile. “But I will need a way to transport here without being kidnapped,” I said.

“Of course,” said the king. He handed me a snowglobe with a mini map of Fairyland in it. “Whenever you shake the snowglobe, you will transport here.”

“Genie, my last wish is for you to transport us home.”

Blackout. When I opened my eyes we were home. It was my happily ever after.

The Annoying Ravens

James was getting tired of the exploding raven. The first time it had appeared, he had been in the shower. Then… boom.

The raven had appeared in an explosion of feathers. Nearly losing his balance, James stumbled backwards, hitting his head on the wall of the shower. Then, he grabbed the shower head, cocking it back like a baseball bat, and aimed at what looked like was the center of the explosion. To his surprise, a rather fat raven emerged. The shower head was already on its way. Then, the shower head suddenly stopped, jarring his arm. “Now, now,” the raven scolded. “It would be an awful shame if I had to kill you.” James was so surprised that he dropped the shower club. Then he punched the raven, and the world turned upside-down.

“Will he be okay?” he heard his mom ask in a worried tone.

“We don’t know,” he heard someone say. James thought of leaping up and saying “Ta-Da!” or pretending to be dying and then asking for infinite video game time. Then he realized that in the state his parents were in, they might take it rather emotionally. So instead, he just opened his eyelids. Then he fainted.

When he came to, he was scared to open his eyes. When he did, it was the same as before. His vision was different. At least he still had color, but his vision was like being inside Ironman’s suit. In other words, his vision was sharper, and had more detail. He was back at home. He didn’t know why, but he guessed the doctors thought he was better. Then he saw the raven in the backyard. His rage began to build up, except this time it felt like he was channeling something unearthly and powerful. He stepped out of the house and his vision focused on the raven. No, not the raven. Then he realized that his new ultra-vision 2000 was warning him. A orange glow was building in the beast’s maw. Then a beam of highly concentrated fire erupted from its mouth. Wow, James thought, Nice weapon. Then he concentrated extra hard on the beam of fire, pointed his finger at it, and lightning began pouring from his finger towards the beam of fire.

The lightning hit the beam of fire, splitting it in half. Fire kept on pouring from the raven’s mouth and lightning kept on coming from James’ finger. The lightning and fire were at a standstill in the middle.Then, James leaped up, and to his surprise kept on going. I got a really cool makeover, James thought and dived at the raven. The raven pointed its mouth at James again, and fired. Then James dived to the left and incinerated the raven with his lightning. Then, he saw a police officer point his gun at him.

“Hands up!”

James couldn’t control his rage. He just had a gut feeling that this man had helped tell the raven to attack him. He whirled around, dropped like a stone, and incinerated the policeman. Then he banked left and flew of into the sunset.

Congratulation, James, James thought, You’re now an official enemy of the USA! The US had declared war on him, calling him a mutant, a murderer and a terrorist. James thought this was an exaggeration. After all, he had only blown up three factories that were producing anti-mutant weaponry.

Then, James heard a slight sound, maybe a pebble dislodged, or someone breathing. He threw himself on the ground just as a jagged lightning bolt passed over him. It did not let up. Using his elbows and forearms, James dragged himself behind a rock. Peeking around the corner, he saw a boy around his age staring at the rock. He’s too focused on it, James realized.

Slowly, making sure that he couldn’t see the other boy, James crawled backwards to a distant circle of shrubs, then started circling back towards the other boy, being careful to stay out of his sight. Then, when he was behind him, James jumped on him.

James fell on empty air.

Whirling around in a crouch, James whirled around and took a bolt on the leg. James backflipped over a boulder. Then, in the few seconds that he had, he concentrated. To his surprise, the charred skin started to grow back, leaving him drained. James tried lightning, but it didn’t work. Flying didn’t work either. I’m too drained to use my powers, James realized. Then he had an idea. If the boy was like him, his senses must be as sharp. James threw a rock at a trunk. The boy looked back over his shoulder just one fleeting glance and James tackled him. They hit the ground rolling. Eventually, James had the boy in a chokehold, fist raised. “Who are you?” James yelled.

“My name is John,” the boy replied

“Why did you try to kill me?” James asked.

“Why would I not?”

“What do you mean, ‘Why would I not?’”

“Because the world hates us mutants. They fear us for our power.”

“But how does that justify you wanting to kill me?”

“I tried to kill you because I thought you were someone who wanted to kill me,”

James was so surprised that he dropped his fist. He removed his chokehold and extended his hand to the strange boy.

“It’s a hard and cruel world out there for us mutants. But together we can go further than we can alone.”

The boy took his hand and stood up. Then, an artillery shell exploded in front of them. James and John looked at each other and instantly knew what they had to do.

They flew low over the ground, (James didn’t know how he got his powers back) trying to stay under the sight of the people who were trying to kill him. As they got closer, they saw a large artillery cannon. It was aiming at John. “NOOO!!!” James screamed. Concentrating with all his strength, he put on an extra burst of speed and fired lightning. The artillery shell was already on it’s way. It had barely left the cannon. Gathering all his strength, James shot a white-hot bolt of energy at the cannonball and it exploded, instantly killing the artillery crew. Then, he fainted.

When he came to, James’ whole body tingled with power. “I want to go out and kill those people who took our lives away from us,” he growled.

John nodded sympathetically. “I have those moments too,” John admitted.

“I’m sorry, John.”

“Sorry about what? You saved my life!”

“No, I know that. But sorry for troubling you with my troubles,” James said.

“Your troubles are my troubles, James.”

“What do you mean? We’re different people!”

“Yes, but as far as we know, we’re the only mutants with these powers.”

James nodded. “You’re right. But we still need to find out what those ravens are, who they’re working with, and what we can do to stop them.”

The next day, John and James set out to explore the world and discover more about their powers, how to to focus them, and who gave them to them. The first thing that they saw was a long row of sensor triggered AA guns pointing at them. They were guarded by hundreds of soldiers. As they flew closer, the nearest AA gun pointed its long barrel towards them and fired with a high, whining sound. John and James dropped like stones until they were about halfway to the ground. They had evaded one shot, but unfortunately, 67 more barrels were pointing their way.

”Fall back!” John yelled. They whirled around and flew away at top speed. When they were far enough, they settled on a grassy knoll.

“We need a plan of attack,” James said.

“Maybe we could use a diversion?” John asked.

“Maybe, but I have a feeling those are seasoned warriors down there. They know there are two of us from a few hours ago, and if only one of us appears, they’ll keep a watch,”

“Maybe we could attack in force?” John suggested.

“No, no, no, and no,” James answered. “We can’t possibly take down a few hundred heavily armed warriors. We can’t even go above because of the AA guns,”

“Can’t we go over?” John questioned.

“Now there’s an idea,” James said.

It was D-day. James and John were ready, fully rested, and alert. They climbed as high as they could while still breathing. Then, they arrowed forward.

The plan went wrong almost immediately. As soon as they broke the cloud cover, they saw planes and helicopter gunships patrolling the airspace in front of them. Almost immediately, they all started firing.

“FALL BACK!!!” James yelled.

The next morning, on the knoll, James and John conferred.

“So. Guess we can’t go through or over,” John said.

“And I saw planes circling all around us,” James said.

“So that means we’re surrounded,” John let that hang.

“Wait… I might have an idea…”

The next day, James walked as close as he dared to the AA guns, wound up and hurled a rock really hard through the AA guns. As he expected, the AA guns’ barrels couldn’t turn fast enough.

James turned around and was about to run when he started hearing the soldiers talking.

“What was that??!!”

“I dunno. But did you see where that object came from?”

Then, a thin young man walked up probably a sentry.

“Yes, I did. It came from the east — the direction of the mutants,” the sentry said.

“Probably testing the rotation speed of the barrels,” someone grunted.

“Yeah. Worrisome.”

“Why?” a soldier asked.

“Kid, if a rock can fly fast enough straight through, so can they,” said someone with a gruff voice — probably an old-timer.

“Yeah. I’ll ask someone to start putting up a electric fence all around the perimeter.”

Hearing this, James flew back as fast as he could and explained the plan to John.

Then, John said “Good idea. Any deadline?”

“Yeah,” James said.

“When?”

“Tonight,” James answered.

“Tonight?” John yelped. “Why?”

“They guessed our plan when I threw the rock.”

James and John flew as close as they could without being spotted. Then, they zipped across the landscape. But as they got closer, they saw that the electric fence was already up. There was no going back now.

“SHOOT!!!” John screamed. James grasped the meaning instantly. Meanwhile, the AA guns were moving faster than they expected. There was an AA gun directly in front of them. They could see the inside of the barrel, the shell coming out… At once, lightning burst from their fingers, incinerating the shell and the AA gun. They kept the lightning up. Suddenly, James and John stopped, a shell passing and inch in front of them. Now there was nothing between them and freedom- except for one huge electric fence.

“Overload it!!” James screamed. They poured all their anger, desperation, and fear into these lightning bolts. The many streams of lightning hit the electric fence, which absorbed it. Sparks started to dance across the surface of the electric fence. James and John were getting closer now. 50 feet… 25 feet… 12 ½ feet… 6 ¼ … 3 ⅛ … the sparks on the fence abruptly stopped and John and James smashed through the fence and continued on. After they flew for around 50 miles, they set down.

“I can’t believe we made it!” John said

“Yeah, the overloading did it.”

“But now we should be on the move, or else we might get surrounded again.”

“Yeah. Wait — what’s that?” James was looking at a newspaper that was blowing through the wind. He snatched it out of the air and glanced at the headline.

Mutants discovered, president announces new factory in Ontario dedicated to the research of anti-mutant weaponry and armour will open on Friday, August 12, 2094. (5:00 p.m.)

“It’s Monday the 8th now,” John said. “We have four days to shut down that factory.”

“And we’re in Oklahoma right now.”

“Yeah, but we have to do it in a time when the factory is empty,” James said. “We shouldn’t use our powers to kill innocent people.”

“Innocent!!??” John asked incredulously. “They’re trying to kill us!”

“But you never know. This might the only job available for some people!”

“Fine,” John said in a tight and closed voice. “But only if it doesn’t delay our mission.

Tuesday,  August 9, 2094

(5:00)

(Oklahoma)

James and John woke up, bathed in a nearby stream, and started channeling their powers. First, they did target practice. James set up a target around 50 meters away, then 75, then 100, etc.

Then, John did the same thing, except around 50 meters away from the original range. John went first. He looked at the 50 meter target, pointed his finger, and fired. The single bolt slammed into the wood target, knocking it over. James jogged over and looked at the remains of the target, which were a few charred, smoking pieces of wood. James whistled and said “Sweet.” Then, he moved out of the way. John incinerated the 75 and 100 meter targets, but narrowly missed to 125 meter. John filed that away. Then, James went. His score was the same as John’s.

They were going to test their healing powers, but John said, “Maybe we should do this in the evening, so it will be easier for us to sleep.”

“Good idea,” James said. Then, they started flying.

The landscape was beautiful. They passed over neat rows of farms and crisp little villages, (They tried to go high over the civilized land, so they wouldn’t be spotted) and went around bustling cities.

Finally, John said, “That looks like a good spot. Let’s set down.”

Tuesday, August 9, 2094

(22:41)

(Missouri)

“We’re on the border of Missouri right now,” James said. “We’re making good time.”

James and John were lying down in the soft heather and pine needles, when James heard something. He was instantly alert. “What’s that?” he asked.

“What’s what?” John asked sleepily.

“I heard some leaves being crushed!”

“Probably an animal.”

“Okay.”

They went back to trying to sleep, but James just couldn’t. Then, he saw four dark, shadowy forms crouching over John.

“JOHN!!!” James yelled. John rolled to the side as a sharp object pierced the ground where he had just been. James sprung up. John did the same. Then, they started shooting the lightning. Within a few seconds, it was over. Four men in camouflage fatigues carrying daggers were on the ground bleeding from charred holes in their stomachs. John was panting, a wild animal-like gleam in his eyes.

“Are you okay, John?” James asked uncertainly.

“Yes! I’m feeling better than I ever have!”

“Umm, okay?” James said. “Well I guess we should search their bodies.”

It turned out that their assaulters were F.B.I. agents sent by the president of the USA to assassinate them. They were part of a company of 900, camped in the nearby woods.

“We’ve gotta move,” John said.

Wednesday, August 10, 2094

(7:27)

(Missouri)

John and James were getting better at target practice,  and destroyed the 125 meter target. Then, they started their new practice session: discovering new powers. That morning, combining their minds, they discovered something powerful, more powerful than the lightning, inside them. They couldn’t use or identify it yet, though. James was still worried about John though. The way he had looked last night had scared the wits out of James. It looked like maybe John liked the killing!

Just then, a tranquilizer dart whizzed past James; it was only his fast reflexes that saved him. Without a word, James and John took of into the unknown…

Wednesday, August 10, 2094

(21: 53)

(Illinois)

When James announced that they were in Illinois, John said in a closed and emotionless voice, “Let’s spend as little time in here as possible.”

When James asked why, John wouldn’t say. Then James started pestering. Eventually, John threw his hands in the air and screamed “Fine, Fine! I’ll tell you. I live in Illinois!”

“Ah,” James said in his wise voice. “That must hurt.”

“Oh you have no idea,” John said.

“I live in Arizona,” James said. “That’s where I first met the raven.”

“The raven?” John asked.

“Yeah,” James said. “That’s how I first discovered my powers.” When John gave him a curious glance, James elaborated.

“The raven first appeared in a explosion of feathers. Nearly losing my balance, I stumbled backward, hitting my head on the wall of the shower. Then, I grabbed the shower head, cocking it back like a baseball bat, and aimed at what looked like the center of the explosion. To my surprise, a rather fat raven emerged. The shower head was already on it’s way. Then, the shower head suddenly stopped, jarring my arm. ‘Now, now,’ the raven scolded. ‘It would be an awful shame if I had to kill you.’ I was so surprised I dropped the shower club. Then I punched the raven and the world turned upside-down.”

“Creepy,” John said.

“Yeah,” mused James. “But it’s curious how it could talk and stop the showerhead.”

“Yeah. Must be some kind of sorcery”

“Yeah. Anyway, we should catch up on our sleep. Be awake at 5:00 sharp with your gear.”

Thursday, August 11, 2094

(5:00)

(Illinois)

The next morning, the J team suited up, and did their daily target practice. They both still got 125 meters, but John singed the side of the 150 meter target. Then, they took off. At first, their flight was beautiful and peaceful. Then, they heard a soft swish and a whole carpet of surface-to-air tracking missiles rose to greet them. Using his huge brain, John solved a complex math equation in his head that mathematicians and soldiers had been puzzling over for centuries. (John+James)+Missiles=No More (John+James). Using inductive reasoning, James realized that John and him were the people in John’s equation. The missiles clumped together and became the bane of (J+J!!!).

James yelled “Follow me!” and dived towards lake Michigan. John understood James’ plan and followed him. With the missiles hot on their tails, they zoomed towards the lake. They splashed into the lake and the missiles exploded on the surface, instantly covering their backs in blisters. Being careful to stay low on the lake, the J bros zipped across the water towards Ontario, the factory, and their future.

As they zipped across the water, leaving a column of steam in their wake, clouds of steam gathered in front of them. Frowning, John dispelled the steam with a lightning bolt and the Imperial Michigan State Ani-Mutant Naval Force was revealed in all its might and glory. In front of them and blocking their way, were 2 aircraft carriers, 8 cruisers, 15 destroyers, and 4 submarines (don’t ask me how all this fit in lake Michigan). Over a loudspeaker a voice boomed,

Mutants! Surrender yourselves and we shall do you no harm. Fight, and we shall destroy you! Run, and we shall chase you down to the very end of the earth! Escape to land, and we shall call in the military! The US has declared war on you two, and they weren’t bluffing when they did it!”

At once, countless guns and missiles turned their way. “Oh shoot,” muttered James under his breath. Then, he and John backflipped and shot away, randomly shooting lightning bolts over their shoulders to cause confusion. Behind them, were a cloud of missiles and torpedoes chasing them like a nest of angry hornets. They burst out of the water, past the SAMs and continued on. The torpedoes tried to follow them, but they exploded on the shore.

“Phew,” James said. “That was close.”

“Yeah. Too close,” John said.

They continued on until they were on the Canadian border.

Friday, August 12,

(6:30)

(Ontario)

It was D-day.

John and James woke up and destroyed the 150 meter target. Then, they headed towards the factory. They were above and behind the fenced off factory. Long rows of people waited outside the factory. It was 15:00. The factory’s inauguration was supposed to be at 17:00. The factory was enormous. There were hundreds of armed guards milling around the factory. The factory’s front side was enormous, with four guard turrets. The back was less tall, but there were two extra towers on the front that could guard the back. There was a trapdoor on the front of the building. The front wall was made of glass, but James guessed that it was bulletproof. The back was made of reinforced, bullet proof steel. On the front roof, James saw a machine gunner and a few snipers. There was an enormous lightning rod. There were holes on the side, with guns pointing out. “There’s a lot of security,” James said. “We need a plan of attack,”

“Yeah,” John said.

“I suggest we take the back then take the front from the back.”

“Okay,” John said.

It was 16:15. James was sweating. The guards were looking bored, and not alert. Circling around, James and John were in position at 16:30. They were behind the towers. James held up a shaking 3 to John. 2…  1…  ZAP!!! 2 guards collapsed, stone dead. Quickly, J and J crept behind the ledge.

“We’ll take it by force,” James whispered.

With a fearsome shout, J and J rose over the ledge, lightning blazing from their fingertips. One tower collapsed. The machine gunner collapsed, never to rise again. Another guard tower bit the dust. One of the guard tower’s supports collapsed, knocking over both towers. Then, John collapsed dead. Screaming in rage, James killed the sniper then knelt over John. “NOOO!” screamed James. John eyes flickered open, then they closed forever.

James infiltrated the interior of the factory, but he felt a strange emptiness next to him. He encountered a few guards, but they didn’t live long. He got to the center of the facility and destroyed the core. Then, he escaped, his conscience plagued by the possibility that he could have saved John.

War and Peace

Chapter 1: What Happened?

“Get Out Of The Divide!”

The world turned dark.

“Ategnatos, are you there? Hello?”

I slowly opened my eyes and felt pain in my head. There stood my mother.

“You’re alive!” she said. “I can’t believe it.”

Then, I felt another wave of pain in my head. I managed a quick smile but felt one more wave of pain. This time, it caused me to clutch my head while almost screaming, it felt as if my head were ripping apart. I looked into my mother’s eyes and tried to open my mouth to speak but I couldn’t. I looked around the room for a wax tablet and pointed to it. My mom quickly got it along with a sliver of wood too. I carved as questions kept popping up:

Quid accidit? Cur malum caput meum? Úbi sum? Cur ego lecto? Ubi est Pater?

I was going to keep writing when my mother put her hand on my head and I slowly fell back to sleep.

***

When I woke up for the second time, my father –– who was chief of our village in Gaul –– and mother were at the foot of my bed. I looked at the tablet which I had written on before. It now contained several answers to my questions. I realized what had happened. It was the divide. I had been so stubborn that I had stepped in the divide. The village enemy had shot five arrows in my head creating a large hole. The piece of paper said that I was very lucky that the arrows did not reach my brain. I could not believe I had stepped into the place with the most bloodshed. The most war. It all happened in the divide. Everyone who died in war died proudly for their village in the divide. I tried to get out of bed but I was stopped firmly by the village doctor.

“Get rest,” he said. “You will need it if you want to make a full recovery.”

Now, I knew what had happened. I had wanted so badly to make my father proud, to make the village proud. I had gotten it in my head that the only possible way to do this was to fight in the divide and serve my village like all young warriors did. But my father had refused to let me go. He had said that I was too young and weak. He had said that he was not ready to lose me. I was born a delicate baby and even as I grew up, I could not keep up with other kids. I was so sad to see all my friends go off to war while I was stuck here doing chores, waiting for them to return every night. My father had said that my day would come and, now that I had proved myself to be so irresponsible as to go out in the divide and not tell anyone, I would probably never get to go out to war for as long as I lived.

Chapter 2: The Talk

Just as I was about to go back to bed, my best friend Veteporix walked in.

“Ategnatos, is that you? You’re alive! I can’t believe it.”

I wondered why everyone was so surprised to see me alive. I looked at the very bottom at the piece of paper. It said:

Fili , oportet loqui.

I had a bad feeling about this. If my dad wanted to talk with me, I was doomed. He would tell me that I was such a disappointment and everything about how I shouldn’t have done what I did. Under this at the very bottom of the page he wrote:

Cras autem dicemus. Utinam meliora sunt .

At least he was aware that I was hurt. Veteporix was looking at me as I realized he was still in the room. I looked at him and he said: “Are you ok?”

For the first time that day, I responded in a raspy voice. “I don’t know. All I can do is hope.”

***

I woke up early the next morning because I was thinking so much about my talk with my father. He’d said it would be this morning. I waited anxiously for my dad to come and, after what seemed like forever, he walked in with his most prized war general right behind him.

He said, “can you please wait outside, Caturix?” The general slowly stepped outside. My father turned to me. “Did you get my note, son?”

I managed a simple, “yes.”

He responded quickly. “Then what are we waiting for?”

I nodded my head in agreement when inside I was very nervous to find out what he would say.

“So, son, I have been thinking about your irresponsible behaviors, going into the divide without a generals’ or my permission. I have also been thinking about how you are the last kid your age who is not fighting for our village. I then thought that the reason you have never made me proud is because I have never given you the chance. I have decided to give you one. As soon as you are well, you will guard the gates to the village along with one other soldier. If you are successful, you will be promoted, if you disappoint me I can at least say that I gave you a shot at it. A chief’s son should be given a chance to be a great warrior, to serve his village. Here is yours.”

I could not believe my ears! After what I had done my father still decided to give me a chance. This is what I had wanted all along. My thoughts were interrupted by the voice of my dad.

“So? What do you say, son?

I responded with a quick “my pleasure dad,” as I did not want him to change his mind. “You won’t be sorry.”

Chapter 3: The Mysterious Legend

It has been 6 months since I was in the divide. I would start my new job today. I could not wait to prove myself to the village and make my father proud. I looked at my hourglass and rushed out of bed. I arrived at the gates of the village only to see the angry face of my dad.

“You are late!”

I can’t believe I had already gotten off to a bad start.

“I thought you would impress me,” he said. “I will leave you to this.”

He handed me a shield sword and a set of armour and went off to battle.

My first day was not as I expected. All I did was watch warriors from our village go in and out. I was so bored and wanted so badly to go with them. I knew that if I did, my father would not trust me anymore I would never be able to become a warrior.

On the walk home from my first day, I saw my dad who was calling me, “son! Over here!”

I walked over to where my dad was standing. He was right outside our druid’s hut.

“Come quickly, Cicero is unconscious and is saying strange things. I walked inside the hut and sure enough Cicero the druid was saying random words while lying on the floor. As I listened closely, I heard what he was saying: “It will come, the day will come. Run, save your lives. They will kill you all. Until there is nothing left.”

I looked at my dad with a worried face. “Is it true? Is the legend true?”

“Let’s not believe an old man who has almost gone crazy. And, really, do you think anything is more scary than the enemy village winning? And plus, we need to get him some medical care.

Despite what my father said, I was still very worried. What if the legend is true?

Chapter 4: Is it True?

I woke up even earlier than I had the day before to make sure that I wasn’t late. When I reached the gates of the village, I heard someone calling me.

“Ategnatos.”

I cocked my head toward the sound. It was Veteporix.

“Come here,” he shouted soon after.

I quickly ran toward him.

When I reached him, he looked around then whispered, “follow me.”

Confused, I followed him into the bushes. After a little while, we came upon the greatest thing I have ever seen: a 50-foot-tall tree with a ladder reaching all the way to the top. When we reached the top, there was a large room with an armour stand, a weapon rack, many slabs of stone, many carving tools, rolls of papyrus, wax tablets, bowls of ink, and an amazing view of the enemy base and the rest of the forest.   

I looked at him in surprise. “Did you build this?”

He looked at me and nodded.”Do you like it?”

“Why wouldn’t I? This is so amazing!”

I started to explore some more when I realized that I should be guarding the gate. I ran down the steps and yelled out to Veteporix: “Meet you here at 7 p.m..”

I then rushed back to the village. Luckily, no one had noticed my absence. I walked in front of a gate as if nothing was wrong.

That evening, I snuck out to a village. Just as I was climbing in the bushes, I bumped into someone. Worried, I hid in the bushes. I slowly peeked out to see who it was. To my luck Veteporix’s face popped out of another bush. We got up and started walking.

“I was scared for a moment when I bumped into you,” I said to Veteporix.

“Me too,” he responded. “We have to make sure we’re not followed.”

When we reached the tree house, I lit a candle so we could see in the dark.

“I have something to tell you.” I said to Veteporix.

“What is it?” he responded.

“It is a legend. Yesterday I was walking home from the gates of the village and my father called me. Cicero was unconscious saying random things. When I listened closer I heard that he was talking about a legend. He said that someone would come and kill us all until nothing and nobody was left.

“Is it true?” he responded.

“That’s what I want to find out. But I need your help. Tomorrow get Cicero and bring him to the tree house. Around five a.m.. Hopefully then we will get anwers.

Chapter 5: The Bloody Battle

I rushed out of my hut careful not to wake my mom. Before I knew it, I was walking up the steps of the tree when I heard a voice.

“Ategnatos, come quickly!” it called.

I realized it was Veteporix calling me from the top of the tree house. I quickened my pace. When I got to the top, I saw Veteporix writing as if his hand was about to fall off while Cicero was blabbering about all sorts of things. All of a sudden Cicero stopped talking and turned to me.

“How are you Ategnatos?”

“I am good,” I responded. “What is going on?”

“Oh I was just answering Veteporix’s questions.”

I turned to Veteporix.

“Did you get any useful information?”

“Not really.”

I turned back to Cicero when I heard a loud war horn.

This war horn was not at all like our war horn. It’s sound was fuller and made a different sound. Cicero was saying random things again, but this time, it had something to do with the legend:

“They are here. Run, save your lives.”

Just then I heard a loud bang and a crash.

I looked to where the sound was was coming from. There were huge rocks being hurled at our village. I looked closer to see where they were coming from. There was a wooden platform with a giant spoon on top. People who were not the enemy village were wearing full armour with with weapons. As I looked farther in the distance, I saw even more armed people. I looked around and realized that we were surrounded by at least 10,000 men who were attacking both us and the enemy village. I now knew the answer to the legend. It was true. Cicero was right. Unless we fled, these people would kill us all. They would conquer our village and take our homes. I looked at Cicero and Veteporix in a worried face.

“Follow me,” I said, “we must protect the village.”

I rushed to the village gates, only to find many bloody dead bodies of our villagers.

I turned around and found my father who was in a frenzy telling everyone to grab armour and a weapon.

He looked at me. “Son don’t just stand around, help.”

I quickly grabbed a set of armour and a sword. I looked at Veteporix and signaled for him to do the same. We stood in battle formation. Then my dad spoke: “We will fight as one. We’ll have no mercy! We shall die proud! Charge!”

“Charge!” everyone echoed.

The bloodiest battle our village has ever seen had just begun.

A tear dripped down my eye as I saw the dead bodies of people I had grown up with, shared memories with. They were gone, and I would be too if I showed any mercy.

I heard a loud scream come from the enemy village. I looked toward them and found them in the same situation as us. The perfect battle plan then struck me, it would not only save our village –– or at least what was left of it –– but it would also make these people never want to set foot in our territory, as they would be too scared. I ran to my dad.

“I have the perfect battle plan, let me tell you!”

“Son, it is too late. We can’t regroup without being attacked.”

I realized that convincing my dad was not going to work. I had to do this the hard way. I ran back to the village and went to the weapon hut. I found the war horn rack and picked the loudest, scariest horn. I dashed out of the hut when I bumped into my mom. She stroked her hand through my hair.

“Stay safe son,” she said in tears.

“Don’t worry, I will.”

As I was leaving the village gates, I realized it was only a matter of time before it was too late. I dashed through the bushes until I arrived at the tree house. As I arrived at the top, I quickly grabbed a wax tablet and began carving my battle plan. I got my war horn out and my perfect plan was in position. I cupped my hands over my mouth and blew the war horn as loud as I could. I looked at the battle field and realized all the attention had turned to me. This was the perfect time to execute my plan.

Using the materials in the treehouse, I created a shadow puppet. I hid behind one of the walls and lit a lamp. I shadowed the puppet over the lamp creating a large version of a tiger. I peaked out of the tiny hole in the wall of the treehouse. And as I expected, the enemies were beginning to back off. I kept moving the tiger in a way that made it seem like it was coming closer and closer. As soon as it was as close as it could be, I jumped down from the treehouse and ran towards the battlefield. While the enemy was still in terror, I ran toward my dad and told him, “Regroup everyone, including the enemy village.”

Soon enough, everyone was grouped together circling around me. I heard some protests from members of the enemy village.

They were saying, “Why should we listen to you? Why should you lead us?”

I responded by saying, “I may seem little and the least qualified person to lead you, but I have a plan that could save us all.” I pulled out my wax tablet and showed everyone my battle plan.

They all nodded in agreement.

I then said, “battle formation!” Surprisingly, everyone listened. People are desperate in times of hope.

“Charge!” I screamed. Just like that, we were driving off the enemy despite our odds being ten to one. If you are smart you can always overcome strength.

Chapter 6: United As One

As we were chasing off the enemy, I heard one of the enemy soldiers say something.

“Julius Caesar will be angry with us for our defeat. He will say that us Romans should be stronger after conquering Greece.”

I then realized who these people were. They were the so called Romans who had conquered almost all of Europe. One day, two years ago, I remember my dad getting a letter from a foreign Gaulish village saying that they were under attack by Romans. I reckon this won’t be the last time we see them.

As everyone headed back to their village, there was a lot of work to do. When I was in the weapon room, putting my things away, my dad walked over to me.

“Son,” he said. “That was some battle strategy out there. How would you like to be a general in war? Maybe you could come up with all our battle plans. I’m sorry I didn’t give you enough of a chance before. I should have trusted you.”

This is what I had wanted all along, to make my village and my father proud. And I had done so today. I turned to my dad.

“I accept the position,” I said.

My dad walked out to the center of the village and loudly blew the horn for a village meeting. Soon enough, everyone was in the center of town looking at my father. He then gave his speech:

“This is one of the bloodiest battles our village has ever fought and we would never had won if it weren’t for one fighter. I would like for us all to thank my son, Ategnatos. He served our village and made us all proud. I would also like to thank him for reuniting us and the former enemy village. I have organized a feast for all of us to celebrate.”

There was a roar of celebration. The next day, we would work on combining our villages to make one mega village. The next day, we would unite as one.

The Three Wolves

 

Chapter 1: Cinnamon

I don’t recognize Mom. Who is this woman? She’s pretty for a mean woman. She has red hair and it looks like she tried to dye it black (like our … well … real Mom) but completely failed, and blue eyes that she hides under a cap. This morning, she says to my dad: “I didn’t know that you have disgusting children.”

Dad replies, “Well, you should’ve noticed by all of the toys on the floor. Stop talking about them like they’re dog poop.”

Why does Dad not look confused about who this woman is, and why she’s in our house?!

“Where’s Mom?” I ask Dad in a whisper.

“That’s what I’m trying to find out,” Dad whispers back, reaching for the home phone.

“Don’t you dare!” The woman slaps Dad’s hand away from the phone.

“Why not?” I say, snatching the phone away from its post. The woman snatches the phone away from us and spits in our faces. I run up to Kevin’s and my room and tell him what’s going on.

“Stay in here, Ivy,” Kevin says, and I climb into his bunk and curl into a ball.  

Later, the Weird Woman spanks Kevin and me after we did something wrong. She’s trying to charm Daddy, but it just isn’t working!

“Stephan, get me a glass of wine, please,” she says.

“Why don’t you get it yourself?” I ask her.

She spanks me.

“Ivy, don’t you dare say that again!”

So, that’s our day. Speak, spank, ‘don’t you dare do or say that again!’, spank. Ugh!

I walk down the quiet street to the spice shop. Cinnamon is what Kevin wants. He says he’s, well, too sore to go out, but he promised me a yummy breakfast. Weird Woman is listening to bad music in my parents’ bedroom and Daddy went to work so we’re alone in the house.

This woman is … definitely not our real mom. I can tell. I know it. I bet Dad and Kevin know it too. It’s like the woman is putting us under some sort of spell, because as I find the spice store and look at the shopping list Kevin gave me, I don’t seem to have the courage to ask the spice guy for help. The spell (I’m not sure if it’s really a spell) feels like pressure, because in my head, I hear “if you tell him about me, your family will be in great danger!” Who is this woman? What does she want? Why is she here? Two small bottles of cinnamon is what Kevin wants. I buy them and leave.

I squish the morning dew with my turquoise and lavender sneakers. I can’t wait to see what Kevin will make me.

At the house I sit down at the kitchen table.

“Thanks, Ivy!” Kevin says when he sees the two bottles of cinnamon. “I promised you I’d make you something, so I will. You like cinnamon buns, right?”

“Uh huh,” I say, sticking my finger into the cream cheese frosting he’s making. He slaps my hand away playfully. We always fight a lot, but ever since  this morning, we’ve been good. We’re trying to support each other during this first rough day with Weird Woman by being playful. But I know a few things: we both hate this woman. We miss Mom and we feel confused about what’s happening here, I feel scared and Kevin feels under pressure.

Chapter 2: My Stories

After a hearty breakfast, I walk outside and sit down in the grass. I think …  well … I think that there’s this woman who thinks we’re rich so she’s probably trying to take over our real mom’s place. Maybe Weird Woman captured her and put her in a secret place?

The sky’s a bright blue. As I stretch out onto my back, an idea for a story comes fluttering in my head. No, Ivy, I tell myself. You’re already working on a story. A good one, too. But I pull out my notebook just the same, and start jotting down my ideas quickly before they disappear. Mom and I write together all the time and I’m trying to distract myself from all of the confusion happening here. Even though I never finish my stories, she always tries to encourage me to. I’m writing a story about an ancient treasure, but I just got an idea for a story about two kids and their cousins searching for Atlantis, the famous underwater city. I never finish my stories. All the time, ideas just pop into my head and I start a new story. It’s annoying, ‘cause I keep thinking I’ll finish my stories, but I never do. Ideas for what Atlantis should look like bloom in my head. Okay, twists of seaweed surrounding the walls… smells, of course, like the ocean…

Chapter 3: We Hate “Mom”

Weird Woman is home. She’s putting her messenger bag down in the hall, and she interrupts our little family dinner. Daddy’s home, and Kevin and I made spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. We eat happily, and talk too. My Dad’s trying to get rid of this woman who’s trying to take over, but she insists on staying. He’s always trying to stop her from beating us but she just pushes him away as if that’s a way to gain his respect.

“Get me a chair, please, Stephan,” the woman moans. She ruins everything. Daddy doesn’t get her a chair. She gets it herself. “Get me a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, Kevin,” she says, and when Kevin doesn’t move she yells “now!” Kevin runs to get her a dish.

It’s bedtime. Kevin and I get hugged and kissed by Daddy.

“We’ll be alright,” he whispers as he closes the door. I hug my little teddy bear and look up at Kevin.

“Do you think we’ll be OK?” I ask him.

“I dunno, Ivy,” Kevin says quietly. “But we have to stick together, okay?”

“Yeah, alright.”

“That’s a good girl.”

Usually I would’ve shouted at him for being treated like a dog, but Weird Woman is here, and sleep pulls me down before I can say anything.

Chapter 4: Change Hill

It’s morning, and Weird Woman is spraying us with water in a small, plastic bottle to get us working like slaves.

“Get up, squirts,” she says. “Get your bad butts ready for school!!!”

“But it’s Saturday,” I moan.

“And it is September. School starts in October,” Kevin says groggily.

“So what? Your school is chores! Now get going!!! I hate kids,” she mutters under her breath.

After a boring morning full of being yelled at by Weird Woman and dull chores, Dad says we’re having our afternoon together without her, and she locks the door to tell him she’ll keep the house safe. Dad, Kevin, and I decide to buy school supplies and a few treats. Then we decide to go to Change Hill, which is like a natural magic. At first, it’s the autumn leaves with large oak trees covered in orange and brown and yellow and red leaves (mostly orange and brown) then you cross a crystal blue river (well, a little stream) to a large beach shaped like a hill, and it looks like you’re going to fall off if you look down. The crystal blue river has green grass bordering it on both sides, then it changes to sand or the autumn type of world. It’s really neat.

We invite our friends Jack, William, and Violet to come to Change Hill. I talk to Violet about Weird Woman who gives me clever comebacks. They didn’t know about Weird Woman until Kevin and I talked to them. Jack, William, and Kevin talk and talk about Weird Woman and some boring soccer stuff I don’t care about. I’m wearing my favorite dress: a sailor’s dress with an electric blue headband that has a thin bow on it. I’m wearing jeans and my favorite lavender and turquoise sneakers. Under it is my bathing suit, for swimming across the stream. It feels uncomfortable, but I’m always prepared for things like this. We finally swim across to the beach side, dare each other to look down over the hill, and swim back. We change back and take off our bathing suits, then we wash our hair in Jack, William, and Violet’s outdoor shower. We stay at their house for a while and then, we go home.

Weird Woman is asleep. We go through the windows so we don’t wake her up. I pull the thin, pink, flowered curtains of my bed closed.

“Ivy?” Kevin suddenly says. “Here’s your teddy bear.” I open the curtains and snatch the teddy bear from Kevin’s hands and feel in the pocket where we secretly pass each other stuff. Inside there’s a candy necklace with a little note. It says:

Ivy,

I know you hate  Weird Woman, so I have a plan for finding our real mom. We get up at midnight, and we sneak out of the house with a change of clothes, my pocket knife, a flashlight and a map. We’ll go to Change Hill and meet the three wolves, OK? I’ll tell you who they are at midnight, when we’re up, alright?

So, have a good night.

Your brother,

Kevin

PS: don’t ask me who the three wolves are. Remember what I said about telling you at midnight.

I turn the slip of paper around, grab a spare pencil, and write:

Yeah, OK, Kevin. Luv you. Goodnight.

Your sister,

Ivy

Then I toss the piece of paper to Kevin and I tear a page out of my notebook.

Dear Daddy,

We’re trying to find our real mother, and don’t let Weird Woman enter our room or see this note, please. We love you.

Yours,

Ivy and Kevin

Then, I put a change of clothes and the rest of the materials Kevin wants in my monogrammed messenger bag, which is a winter blue. I tuck the messenger bag under my pillow, and then I grab my note to Daddy and slip it in his bedroom, which, thankfully, he does not share with Weird Woman. Then I pull my curtains closed and go to sleep.

Chapter 5: Midnight

Kevin wakes me up and says, “you can eat the candy necklace I gave you.”

I slip the candy around my neck and nibble at it a bit. Then I say, “I wrote a note to Daddy last night.”

“Good. Where is it?” Kevin takes the messenger bag from me.

“I left it in Dad’s room,” I respond.

“Cool,” Kevin says.

“So, who are the three wolves?” I ask.

“They’re these wolves made of enchanted leaves that help everyone in times of need,” Kevin replies. We walk quietly up to Change Hill. It’s very pretty at midnight. The moon is high and full, and, in front of us, three creatures that are brightly colored or different shades of green come foreword.

“Hello,” the green one says, “We are the three wolves. How can we help you?”

Chapter 6: the Three Wolves

I gape at the creatures. Kevin is the first one to speak.

“Our mother is captured by this mean lady who’s trying to take over the household. I think she thinks we’re rich, so we’re trying to stop her and get our real mother back.” The green wolf nods.

“My name is Greenleaf. I will give you the power of nature.”

“And my name is Pineapple. I will give you the power of weather,” the wolf made of a random-mix-of-colors said.

“And my name is Rosie. I don’t have a power to give you, but I have Knowledge,”  the rainbow wolf says.

“Go past the beach down to the water. There you will get swept up by the foam. The foam will tell you what to do, and then come back here. You will have your powers. Ivy, you will have the power of nature. Kevin, you will have the power of weather. When you come back up, we will be gone. You must get past the obstacles coming up.” Greenleaf gently nudges us toward the beach. “Now, you must hurry. You have one minute to get to the foam and back. And you have fifteen minutes to get past the obstacles and save your mother. I will give you an hourglass.” Rosie slips a chain around my neck. An hourglass hangs on the bottom. It’s a big hourglass. “NOW!” Rosie shouts as the sand in the hourglass starts falling. We run and run and run. There, we discover an adventure.

Chapter 7: the obstacles

We have our plan. The foam told us. Our plan is a secret. You’ll see what it is later!!! I practice my nature talent by making the vines twirl. Having nature as a talent is fun.

I suddenly see the obstacles ahead. Bushes and bushes of crazy thorns. A fiery black dragon, the most powerful type of dragon ever. A tall enchanted black castle. Mom is trapped in that castle, with the thorns and the dragon blocking her escape. And plus, she’s probably tied up in there. Ouch.

Kevin and I look at the obstacle before us. Then we remember our talents. As I try and get the thorns to just move, a twirl of vines comes toward me, and I drop the process immediately. But then I wrap everything in moss, and the tips of the thorns are softened, so we can get through.

Now the dragon. It’s Kevin’s turn to use his power. “Ivy, what’s the dragon’s main weapon?!” Kevin yells over the roar of the dragon.

“Are you dumb?! FIRE!!!” I shout.

“OF COURSE!!!” Kevin cries, slapping his hand to his forehead.

“And rain stops fire!!!” I shout.

“DUH!!” Kevin roars back. See what I mean when I say we fight a lot? Kevin closes his eyes and lifts his head as a downpour of fire falls toward us. Then a downpour of rain hits our faces and the fire. The dragon roars in agony as rain pours down his/her throat and stops the fire. As he/she thrashes about, Kevin and I slip into the castle and rescue our real mom. We place the hourglass down on the autumn side of Change Hill to give it back to the Spirits. As we walk back, our powers seem to seep out of us.

At home, I make Mom hot chocolate and she tells us all about being stuck in the castle. “It was dark and scary,” she says, “and I was tied up in ropes. There were spider webs and spiders and bugs and all sorts of stuff like that. As I was being forced to march up to the top tower, I saw a whole skeleton lying in the corner.” I shudder.

“Elizabeth,” Dad says, “you know I wanted to help, but Agatha was forcing me to stay with her.”

“I know that, Stephan, don’t…”

“Agatha?!” I interrupt. “Your enemy from college?! Is that who that horrible woman was?!”

“Yep,” Dad says.

“Worry,” Mom finishes. “I chased her off. By the way, Ivy and Kevin, who told you where I was?” Kevin and I look at each other.

“It’s a secret,” we reply together.

“Alrighty,” Mom says. “Let’s go over to Jack, William and Violet’s, and let’s tell them the whole story.” As Kevin and I walk behind the chatting Mom and Dad, we smile at each other. The real mom is home. Finally!!!

Ellen

chapter 1

monday, april 15th, 1989

It was a cold day in spring. I had my vest on and a big breeze of wind filled my shirt.

I was in Washington Square Park and suddenly I felt something soft and small. I looked down and saw it was a kitten.

I looked to see if it had a collar but found nothing so I picked it up and went home. While I brought her home I thought about if I wanted a kitten or not. And then I remembered that I had wanted a cat long ago — well not that long ago — but still. I got home and I had made my decision: I would have a kitten. My mom was very happy that I brought home this kitten. I had been thinking about the name with my mom. The ones that I liked the most were Jill, Luna, Elise, Ester and Elliott. I picked Elliott.

I personally don’t like my name, which is Ellen, after my grandma. I wanted her name to be the best to make up for my name. I went out to the pet store and got some cat food and cat toys for Elliott. When I got home it was about 6:30 and my mom and dad were setting the table.

My mom said, ”You should really grow your hair out longer.”

I said, ”You know I like my hair short so I don’t need to put in all those clips.”

Elliott had black and brown hair and white boots. (I especially liked the cat fur boots). I tried to pet them but she ran away. I tied a string into a ball and then I found some wood and left some sting over so I could fling it. That got Elliott moving — my plan had worked!

               

Bakery

        

The kids are lining up by the bakery
With orders for donuts, and muffins,
Or cakes of delight,
Or blissful brownie trifles,
Or just some plain coffee ice cream
With a hint of cookie dough.
The smell of jasmine and cinnamon
Fill the kitchen with sweet smells.
But we also make lunch.
The salty curry that the spring rolls are dipped in smell like spicy, salty, lentils.

What Happened in 1870, Italy

Italy, 1870

Annabell sighed. It wasn’t fair that she had to be stuck inside while almost every other child in the kingdom was playing outside in the warm weather. She was restless. She couldn’t sit still. So she decided to evade all responsibility and run outside, dodging supervision, if only for a few seconds. About two minutes later she was taking the secret passage under the palace and was at the edge of the palace grounds, running furiously as her nurse, Florence, shouted after her.

Exasperated once again, she yelled, “Stop at once, young lady! That is no way for an heir to the throne to behave!”

Annabell was heir to the throne of Italy, since she had no brother, only two younger sisters, and her mother, the king of Italy’s great love, was dead, and heartbroken, he would not marry again. Annabell was also her father’s favorite, so if she died from one of the many causes of death to the children of Italy, the whole kingdom would be plunged into mourning. With that thought, the last that she would ever think, looking back toward Florence, Annabell ran out of the gardens and into the street. A carriage came to a sudden halt, but not soon enough.

* * *

Italy, 2015

Annabell sighed. The sticky, hot day was doing nothing to spoil her want for adventure. She wanted something with death, drama, long-ago royalty and maybe even some romance. Phooey. Fat chance. Being the daughter of the president in a historical country, they still lived in the palace, so maybe there was a secret passage other than the one leading from one of the bedrooms to the courtyard that she could discover. Or she could abandon her doubtful idea and simply explore the already-found secret passage.

She started off toward the bedroom, which she had learned from her tutor was the room of the Annabell she was named after, who she had been told had died in 1870 from an unknown illness. She started down the corridor, wishing that instead of the modern electric lights (which pretty much ruined the mysterious atmosphere) there could be oil lamps instead. Walking along the corridor, watching her shadow fade and strengthen as she walked through the electric lights, something exciting happened for the first time in her ten-year-old life.

She saw a glint of shiny leather-a bound spine, some parchment pages. A notebook? A diary? But who owns it? Annabell wondered. She picked it up, because of course that’s what you do when you find a diary hidden (Or lost? Annabell wondered) in a secret passage! Annabell opened the diary. Of course, with her luck, it was blank. Disappointed to almost-tears, she searched the corridor for any other exciting clues or treasures, but none came up. She walked back to the dead Annabell’s room, wondering if writing in a possibly old diary was defacing historical property. Deciding it was up to her, and that there was nothing special about it besides the fact that it was old and had a beautiful shiny green cover, she took out a pen and wrote down the date:

July 15, 2015.

Annabell didn’t know what to write next, when, instead of her blue ballpoint script, black, hastily scribbled crayon surfaced on the page:

I’m so sorry.

She didn’t know what to believe now. It could be some kind of computer screen that wrote back, and it was glitchy, so that was why someone had tossed it into the secret passage to forget about it. But what happened next made her doubt that.

This is Annabell.

Annabell? Annabell thought. The dead one?? This couldn’t be possible.

I’m sorry for what I did.

What did she do? Annabell wondered.

Of course you know.

But she didn’t! What could dead Anabell have done?

I should have just written in this diary like my father suggested.

What did you do? I don’t know, she wrote.

I died. I was the heir to the throne. My soul has been trapped here, blind.

Annabell was kind of amazed at how regretful dead Annabell was.

But it’s not your fault you died. It’s not your fault you got sick.

I wasn’t sick! Don’t you know I was run over by a carriage?

No! I was told you died from an unspecified illness.

Lies!!!

Italy, 1870

“The people will be outraged if they find out that Her Highness Crown Princess Annabell tried to run from the palace and died in the attempt!” The King cried out.

“Your Majesty, we could tell them that Her Highness died of an unknown sickness,” said the adviser.

“Yes,” The King said, his voice heavy with grief. “You have my permission”.

Italy, 2015

Annabell couldn’t believe it. What would she do now?

Please free me!

Annabell wasn’t sure she had read that right.

How?

No one wrote back. Annabell thought about it. She knew from instinct that Annabell had to get rid of her regret to be free from the diary. Annabell wasn’t quite sure how to do that. Maybe if she buried the diary with Annabell’s body, then her soul would be reunited with her body? She decided to give it a try. Annabell knew that her parents would never let her out of the house to go to the royal graveyard. Maybe she could pull a dramatic escape and leave in the middle of the night? Since she had no other pathetic options, she realized she had to give that one. For the rest of the day, she tried to keep herself busy and not think about the escape.

* * *

12:53 a.m.

Annabell’s bedroom was in a tower, so she pulled a dead Annabell and went through dead Annabell’s bedroom and into the secret passage. A minute later, she was out in the courtyard and making her way through the gardens to the graveyard. She felt like a character in a mystery book. She had an excuse ready for the guards: “I couldn’t sleep, so I decided to take a quick walk.” Annabell hoped she wouldn’t have to use it. Thank her lucky stars, she passed unnoticed. When she got to the graveyard, she walked among the gravemarkers, eager to find dead Annabell’s, bury the diary next to her coffin, and then get back to bed. This was freaking CREEPY! She stopped near the grave stone that said:

Here lies Annabell Gallini

April 3, 1860-July 15, 1870

Died at ten years old from an unknown illness

Loving and adventurous daughter and elder sister

May she rest in peace.

Annabell took a moment of silence for her namesake, and then began to dig. She dug a deep, rectangular hole, and placed the book inside it. Annabell then covered the book back up again. Having sudden inspiration, she dug up a rose and replanted it on top of dead Annabell’s grave. She slowly walked back to the palace, thinking about all she had done. She went back to bed, relieved and satisfied that her work was done.

The Future Earth’s Concrete Takeover

I am Tiki, a robot pirate, in the year 3000. “I have brought you guys from Union Square: Mathius, Eden Hazard, Jo Green, Bobby Smith, and Trexer, to join me on the quest to the Lost Island to find the treasure that can help us save Earth! I want to introduce Bobby, a great friend of mine, to my whole group. He and I are awesome friends. We always go to the movies, whenever a new movie comes out. All these years we have polluted Earth, and it is almost too late to save it.”

Nature is slowly disappearing and more of Earth is being constructed by people. We need to act fast!!! Seventy-five percent of Earth is made of water and man-made sites. As nature is disappearing, places are moving around like Mount Everest, the Rocky Mountains, and the Colorado River. We are passing all of those places so we need to be careful not to get lost.

“You are the chosen ones since you each have a talent that will help during this mission to the Lost Island, with which you will help us overcome obstacles on the curious and dangerous path.”

“Now I need you guys to hold on to the back of the flying motorcycle and ride along to the beginning of the path to the Lost Island.”

When we arrive I feel a breeze of wind sweep by and catch sight of a golden dot that stands on the top of the horribly dangerous Mount Everest, after the loss of nature on Earth. I have a feeling it is the treasure and that is what worries me, it looks so difficult to get up there. I tell my group, “We need to move fast, there is a timer set on a week then the world will become dirty, old, and gray.” It sits dirty, camouflaging in the gray rock.

I decide to use the flying motorcycle since it is big enough for all of us to fit, fast and we are in a rush, and every half an hour it provides a healthy snack if we are hungry.

When we leave, Trexer keeps fire breathing because he thinks it will warm us up. Bobby Smith keeps scaring wolves trying to attack us. Mathius keeps taking sharp rocks that could be useful along the way if in danger. Joe Green looks scary toward the big green scary crocodiles and they go back in the water. Eden Hazard can steer the wheel well and is very trustworthy. These are the reasons why I choose these adventurers for this mission and the help they provided me.

“Oh no, there is a river! How will we get past!” said Eden Hazard.

I tell them, “I have a boat stuck to the bottom of the flying motorcycle for these types of emergencies.”

But be careful, it had a rough current that could swish us away if we moved just one muscle!!! Luckily the paddles were robotic so we didn’t have to paddle and we could stay still. I notice that my teammates are looking a little freaked out, but my instinct tells me they are the correct people to assist me on this quest to the Lost Island. We arrived at the Rocky Mountains where we all start worrying about if we would make it or DIE!!!

We start climbing up the mountain, named Carl, the easy mountain. For this one we don’t need the rope we use for steep downhills and uphills. Everyone thankfully makes it up safely. The second mountain is steeper and we need a rope from the storage to pull us up, so Eden Hazard and I (I asked if I could call him Ed and he said no) set it up. In the meanwhile the others were eating: apples, bananas, grapes, strawberries, and other fruits (it took five minutes.)

I am excited and scared while I climb up the Mountain Lily. At that moment I realize I had feelings and that robots don’t have feelings, unless I am half human, half robot. I am amazed, I never thought of this chance that I might be human or half human. I am STUMPED, I never had this image in my mind.

While I daydream I slow everyone down, but thankfully I don’t let go of the rope and still have a firm grip on the rope, so I don’t fall down. At the top we take a water break and eat some more fruit, especially me and Ed-en Hazard, who set up the rope while they ate last time. My instinct tells me to go right, it is a shortcut, but the others want to continue forward. I don’t want to break up but I am the leader and they need to follow me, not me following them. AND THAT IS HOW I DECIDED!!!

“We are breaking up,” I tell them in a firm voice LIKE if I were Hillary Clinton. “I am courageous, adventurous, and I don’t need you guys!!! I can find the treasure alone!!!” I set out, worried about my ex-teammates. I make a fire and with my robot half put out a tent for the night. I instantly regret leaving my teammates because now I am alone. I am weaker and I don’t even have my flying motorcycle device to help provide healthy snacks and get me around quicker, which reminds me about the timer put on a week. I am on day two, Tuesday, only but I suspect others are up for the hunt to so I want to hurry. “Next stop Crocodile Lake,” I say. The golden dot soon looked more rectangular than circular and I got more certain it was the the chest that held the weapon to make Earth young and beautiful again. The more time passed the more I missed my teammates.

I can’t bear another moment without them. I am setting out to find them once and for all, whether or not it means losing the last chance to save Earth. I care for my teammates unlike others I knew of. I walk for miles, hungry and thirsty, and then I finally see them, my teammates. It is worth it, I told myself. I can hear my friends, not teammates, friends, calling me, seeming relieved that I am back to lead them, looking like they regretted the decision too. We greet each other and I change clothes, since I was dirty from the venture. I hope they learned their lesson after what happened and know that I learned a lesson too.  

We start our quest across the Colorado River, with me so happy to have my flying motorcycle back. I see a shark in the water. I warned Mathius but too late, he already lost an arm. I ask Ed to wrap the cloth around the arm and stop the bleeding. We cross the river and find a mountain, but not just any mountain, Mount EVEREST, the most dangerous and tall mountain on Earth, but with the golden chest right on top! We chose to do something daring, a combination of climbing, flying, and hiking!!! The quickest and safest way up.

We fly up with the motorcycle, finding dead bodies with blood spread around them and arrows in their chest. Then we jump out, leaving the motorcycle/plane in the air. Climbing up we get arrows shot at us out of nowhere, thankfully they miss everyone. Then on the easier course we are able to hike up and get going. When we reach the top we find the device and a little plant that had a note saying:

Dear Adventurers,

Inside the chest is the device you came for spray the acid on the plant to make the whole world beautiful. Then a path will appear toward your motorcycle/plane.

Sincerely,

THE PLANT

P.S. Only one drop can make the world beautiful again.

I bend to take the key but Bobby takes the key already and opened the chest. Surprisingly enough, Bobby was trying to break the device. We try to stop him but I realize the acid would come out of the glass container when he broke it and spread out to the plant. While we wait though, I thought of how you have friends that you can’t trust, and you have others that make up for that friend. And how either way you will always remember them even if you do everything to avoid remembering them. Then the path to the plane appears after Bobby had smashed the device. I can’t believe Bobby turned on me we use to do so much together before, and we were best friends! Our favorite thing to do is go fishing during spring, and if one of us were sick the other would not go fishing. We (not including Bobby ) walk toward the plane and drive home, leaving Bobby to walk 600 miles by foot, not even accomplishing his goal.

*  And that was how my friends and I saved future Earth *

Just Run

Not so long ago there was a poor girl in a village. The village was located in the kingdom of Chanistia. There was a girl in the village, her name was Jasmine. She had red hair like fire and blue eyes like the sparkling ocean. Although she had beauty, she didn’t have kindness. The only reason why she was mean is because she had lived in a poor village for so long. She wished for riches but she knew they would never come. Jasmine always wished  to meet the queen but she knew she would never get to, just like she would never get riches. She worked in the fields day and night. Her hands were bleeding and had large blisters on them.                                                                                              

One night, when Jasmine was lying on a pile of hay (her makeshift bed), she heard a sound outside. Pitter patter, pitter patter. Then, the sound suddenly stopped. Then it started again. It sounded like heavy pairs of footsteps pounding on the dry soil. She was startled. She didn’t dare take a peek out the window, but why not? She crept out of the pile of hay and took a peek out the window. What she saw made a cold creepy chill climb up her back.

Savage-looking men and women came marching into the poor little village. They were covered in dirt and wearing scraps of deer skin and boar skin. They looked like barbarians but were very skinny, like they had not eaten in days. Still, the looked strong enough to invade a poor village like Jasmine’s. But were they even going to invade the village? Were they just walking through? But why would they walk through? They were walking in the direction of the dark forest. Everyone who went in the forest never came back.

Jasmine got so scared she didn’t even think about her parents and to save them, or of her dog, and her sister, she didn’t care, she just ran and ran. She ran through the kitchen and grabbed her water bottle and some food and ran. She didn’t care where she was going or how she was going to get there. And that was the biggest mistake of her life.

***

“Just run. Just run. Just run. Run,” Jasmine said, determined to keep on running although her legs felt like jello that sat in the sun for too long. She ran past skinny trees with no leaves. She ran and ran and ran until she found a house. The house was very skinny and tall. It was made out of black bricks with no windows with one small door. The door had a shiny brass handle and it was made out of wood. The wood was painted grey. Jasmine had heard of the fairytale Hansel and Gretel, so she did not dare to knock on the door. She walked around the house, studying it. It looked very old with cobwebs scattered all over it.  She sat next to a nearby tree and opened her bag that she packed full of food and water. Suddenly, she heard a screaming noise from the house. She was very scared. Then she ran away. Then she heard another screaming noise from the house. Someone was yelling for help. “I shouldn’t be worrying about other people now,” she said. “I just have to worry about saving the village. I need to think of my plan,” she muttered.

Then she thought, But what if that person was me? I would go help them. But that person isn’t me so I don’t care. Anyways why am I even thinking about saving the village or a random girl. I don’t know, I feel like I have changed. But… if I save her then I can mock her and tease her about how stupid it is to be captured. It’s a deal! She ran to the house and didn’t even think about knocking. She opened the door and peered inside. All she saw was darkness. She couldn’t see a thing.

“Damn it, I should have brought a lantern,” she said. She decided to walk inside with her hands outstretched so she wouldn’t bump into anything. As soon as she walked two steps, her hands felt something slimy and sticky. She was disgusted, and also startled. “Ew, what is this?” she said. When her eyes adjusted to the light, she saw what it was. It was a girl that was cut in half. She screamed so loud that someone could hear it from miles away. The screaming continued.

Someone screamed, “Help, help! They’re gonna kill me!” This was too scary for Jasmine. She ran out of the house. But what if that person is going to die? I have to save her, she thought. So she went inside again and felt around with her hands, hoping not to touch anything slimy again. Finally, she reached a wall. She touched it and she moved to the side. She felt a hand railing. She slowly made her way upstairs. Each step she took, the staircase creaked. It seemed like no one had walked up this staircase for years.

“Then who could have been trying to kill the poor girl up there?” she whispered. When she got upstairs, she kept on walking, then felt a doorknob. The doorknob was covered in layers of dust. “No one must have touched it for a long time,” she said. “Who could have been screaming?” But before she could open the doorknob, this white cloud puffed through the door.

“Hahaha, you fell for my trick! Everyone falls for my trick! Now I will stab you to death.” said the white cloud. Jasmine was too scared to scream. She wasn’t sure what would happen next, but she would probably be cut in half just like the girl downstairs. She should have never come into this house.

This must be what happens when you try to help save someone, she thought. That made her even more mad and angry and frustrated. She didn’t feel scared anymore, she just felt mad. This is what happens when you run away from home and try to save the village all by yourself when you’re only fifteen years old. She put her hands out and tried to grab the ghost, but she knew she would fail. But she didn’t fail. She succeeded in grabbing the ghost.

The ghost screamed a high pitched scream, “Aaaaah! What, did you touch that girl downstairs?” screamed the ghost.

“Ugh, yes, indeed I did,” Jasmine said. “It was disgusting. Did you do that?”

“Do what?” said the ghost.

“Cut her in half.”

The ghost said, “Yes, I did.”

“Why, though?” said Jasmine.

“Because that’s what ghosts do,” said the ghost. The ghost slipped out of Jasmine’s hands, grabbed the knife on the table, and tried to cut Jasmine in half. “Just one quick stab,” said the ghost. “That’s all I need.”

“Well, you won’t get it!” said Jasmine. She grabbed the knife and ran downstairs.

“You think you can get out that easy?” said the ghost.

“Oh, yes I can,” said Jasmine. The ghost paused. Then, a gust of wind shot out and blew Jasmine back. She fell down the stairs. The doors closed behind her. Then she tried to stab the knife at the ghost, but the ghost was too fast. He moved away quick. He flew through the door of the house. “He locked me in here!” Jasmine screamed. “How sneaky!”

Then, the ghost said, “Really? You think you can’t go through the door?” the ghost said.

“Of course I can’t,” said Jasmine. “I’m not a ghost like you are! I’m not dead.”

“Oh,” the ghost said. “I didn’t know you didn’t know.”

“Didn’t know what?” said Jasmine.

”Never mind,” said the ghost, ”I guess you don’t know.”
”Whatever,” said Jasmine. She used the knife to try to break the door down, but she failed; she only made a couple of little dents in the door. Then, finally, she tried one more stab and the door fell right over. But the ghost was not there.

”Ugh! How could I have let him get away?” said Jasmine. Where did he go? she thought. Her head hurt and she felt dizzy. She stumbled over to the tree where her bag was and lied down. I need to think of a plan, she thought, But why would I want to think of a plan? I don’t want to save that dirty little village of mine, but I have all my memories there. I should save it. I´ll just save the village.

How about I go to the queen and ask her for some soldiers? she thought, She would never let me. But the queen is a kindhearted person. She would definitely let me take her soldiers to defend the village! I’m too tired to decide right now. I´ll decide in the morning.

Then, Jasmine thought: Where should I sleep? The dark forest is way too dangerous to sleep in. I should find a safer place to sleep. I could climb on a tree and sleep on it; nobody would find me there! So Jasmine climbed the tallest tree she could find and lied down. Then, she got up again. This tree is not sturdy enough. I need to find a tall tree with a sturdier branch.

She climbed down the tree and climbed up another tree next to it. On that tree, she found a perfect branch. Her eyes felt heavy, and she closed them. ”Finally,” she said, “Time to rest after a big day of fighting ghosts.” The tree felt comfortable, even if it wasn’t her regular haypile back in the village. She missed her village so much.

Then, she fell into a deep sleep. She dreamt about her saving her village. In her dream, she travelled to the queen and her for soldiers to help fight the invaders; the queen happily obliged. ”Of course you can take my soldiers to save the village!” said the queen.

Suddenly, Jasmine woke up to the sound of birds chirping. The birds were squawking their miserable songs of the dark forest. She wearily sat up and opened her eyes. What she saw was definitely not the same part of the dark forest she had been in. She wasn’t on the edge of the dark forest, but rather in the dead center, where the goblins’ cave was. She wasn’t on her branch anymore; she was in a goblin cart covered by a net.

”Ahhhh! Where am I?” Jasmine screamed.

”You’re in the goblin cave,” said the goblin pulling the cart, ”We’re gonna eat you once we get you into our cave and put you in our cauldron.”

”How could you get me down from that tree branch?” Jasmine asked.

”Ropes,” answered the goblin, ”That’s why you have that bruise on your arm.”

Jasmine looked at her arm. ”There’s nothing there!”

”It’s the other arm,” said the goblin.

Then, Jasmine looked at her other arm. It was bleeding, blistered, and had bruises all over it. “That’s not just a bruise,” Jasmine said, ”That’s a full-on cut! So you cut people up and just put them in a cauldron to eat them? Really? That’s what you do?”

”Yep. That’s what we do,” said the goblin, “Every single day.”

”Goblins are mean and cruel,” said Jasmine.

”You’re no prize either, lady.”

”Geez, thanks,” said Jasmine sarcastically.

For the rest of the ride, Jasmine was quiet. She was too busy forming her plan. She kept on picking up little sticks, little pieces of straw, and leaves from the floor. ”What are you doing, little girl?” asked the goblin.

”Nothing,” she said, ”I’m just cleaning the path.”

When the little cart finally made it inside the cave, Jasmine was ready. She put the leaves and the straw inside her bag. ”Give me that bag,” said the goblin.

Ugh, why did I do that? thought Jasmine, I’m such an idiot! Jasmine gave the goblin her bag and the goblin shoved her into her cell, locking the door. How can I ever get my bag back? Jasmine thought. Then, it hit her. ”May I please have some food from my bag?” she cooed, ”I’m just a poor little village girl and I haven’t eaten in days!”

”That’s what everyone says. You’re not getting a clip to pick the lock on the door from your bag.”

”I’m not getting a clip,” said Jasmine, “All I want is some food. My food is wrapped up in the little pouch in my bag wrapped up in a silver cloth.”

”Alright, fine.” The goblin was too dumb to understand. Thankfully, Jasmine put her plan and her food within the silver pouch. Jasmine pretended to eat her food, but also got out her plan and stuffed it within her pockets. Then, the goblin said: ”At 5:00 pm, I will take you out of your cell, and you will be eaten.”

Mmmm, he thought, She will be so good and juicy. I have not eaten in days!

Finally, it was 5:00 p.m. The goblin unlocked the cell and grabbed Jasmine. He pushed her down the hall, taking one left and one right. Then, they got to the very skinny corridor and had to squeeze through it. When they got to the cauldron room, all of the goblins were there, licking their lips.

Then, the goblin said: ”Everybody, leave! She has to take off her clothes before she gets into the pot. Nobody wants to eat clothes!”

”Ewww! Clothes,” the goblins said as they left. But Jasmine didn’t change. She put the doll that looked like her and was made of leaves and straw into the pot and entered the skinny corridor.

”I’m ready!” she called, and then she ran and ran and ran out of the goblin cave, never to return again. She ran and ran and ran to the edge of the dark forest, all the way to the snowy mountains of Chanistia. These were going to be some very cold travels.

Jasmine ran and ran and ran until she found a cold mountain. Thankfully she had brought her winter clothes. She put on her long pants and put on her furry winter coat. “I’m ready,” Jasmine said, “to climb this mountain.”

She started to run up the mountain, but slipped back down. This is gonna be hard, she thought. She sunk her feet into the soft snow and then sunk her arms into the snow, too. Although it felt cold, she had to keep climbing. She started climbing up the mountain, sinking her arms and her legs into the snow. Finally, she made it almost halfway up the mountain.

Jasmine kept on climbing and climbing until her fingers felt so numb. So numb she thought she had frostbite. She kept climbing and climbing until she looked at her hands again. They looked purple. Oh my gosh, she thought, I do have frostbite. Even though she had frostbite, she still kept climbing, determined to get to the queen. For some reason the frostbite didn’t hurt … at … all.

Weird, she thought, Maybe I don’t have frostbite after all. Jasmine kept on climbing until she reached the top of the mountain. Finally, I made it! she thought, But now I have to go all the way back down the mountain again.

She hiked in the freezing cold snow for a couple of more minutes, and then she made it to the other side of the mountain. Maybe I could just sled down, she thought, But that would be dangerous. Jasmine slowly climbed down the mountain backwards, sinking her feet into the snow, just like how she climbed up the mountain.

Suddenly, a pile of snow fell from the top of the mountain and came tumbling down towards her. The snow fell on Jasmine’s face and made her stumble backwards. She fell over backwards and slid down the snowy mountain. “Oof!” she said when her head hit a chunk of ice at the bottom of the mountain.

Jasmine slowly stood up and stumbled back. She looked around and noticed that she was in the middle of a village. It was small, but noticeably more wealthy than Jasmine’s own village. She remembered that she stole some coins from the goblins, so she grabbed the gold coins and ran to the nearest house. She knocked on the door and a friendly-looking woman appeared. “Hello, child! Why did you knock on my door?”

“I knocked on your door because I haven’t eaten in days. May I please buy some food?”

“No, sorry. There is a different house down the block. That is the grocery store. You can buy some food there.” The woman slammed the door in Jasmine’s face.

Jasmine went to the house down the block, just like the woman said. She opened the door. “What are you doing here?” said the man, “Knock first before you enter! This is a private house, not a grocery store!”

“Excuse me, then. Where can you find the grocery store?”

“There is no grocery store in this town,” said the man, “Now get the hell out of my house!”

Jasmine checked the next five houses, but everybody shooed her out. “Ugh,” Jasmine said in despair, “Will anything go my way?” She slumped down in a pile of snow leaning against a house.

Suddenly, she heard a shrill voice. “Hello, child! Would you like to have some food at my house?”

“Finally,” Jasmine answered back, “A nice and willing person! I’ll be glad to eat some food at your house!”

“Okay,” said the woman, “I’ll open the door.”

When the door opened, Jasmine walked inside, and all she saw was an old lady sitting in her rocking chair. There was nobody by the door. “Oh, hello,” said the old woman in the same shrill voice, “Would you like something to eat?”
“Uh, yes. That’s what I came here for,” said Jasmine.

“Okay! Then sit in this chair, and I will cook you some food.” The old woman went into another room and slammed the door. Jasmine heard some cackling from the other room. Suddenly, the old woman swung open the door and magically turned the chair into a hot cauldron, boiling with water.

“Ahaha!” said the old woman, now dressed as a witch, “You didn’t even know I was a witch! Such a foolish child.” The witch laughed once more. “Hahaha! You will make a nice human cake for my son’s birthday party!”

Jasmine tried to get out of the cauldron, but she was stuck. She then noticed that she had chains on her wrists and ankles. “Hahaha! You think you will get out?” said the witch, “You are more foolish than normal children!”

“Actually, I’m not,” said Jasmine, “The ghost tried to kill me, and I escaped. The goblins tried to eat me, and I escaped. I can easily escape from you!” Jasmine got a clip from her fiery red hair and secretly picked the locks from under the boiling hot water. When the witch was in the other room, getting her spices and ingredients for the yummy cake, Jasmine emerged from the boiling hot water and ran outside. She ran and ran and ran and didn’t stop. She ran out of the village and into the forest. Then, she kept on running. She ran and ran and ran and ran. Soon enough, she made it out of the forest.

Finally, she stopped running. Jasmine was breathing really hard. I’ve been running from a ghost, a goblin, and a witch, and the only thing that helped me was to run, she thought. Then she looked up. She saw a large mountain, but what she saw on top of the mountain was amazing. Finally, she gasped, I made it. On the mountain there was a humongous crystal castle. It had big golden doors and many windows. There were four soldiers guarding the golden doors. They wore shiny silver armour and had bronze swords. She climbed up the mountain as fast as she could, gripping each little rock and pushing herself up. She was so excited; she couldn’t wait to meet the queen. This had been her dream for years.

When she made it up the mountain, she ran up to the golden doors and asked the soldiers, “I need to see the Queen. Can you let me in?”

Both the guards said “NO,” in a booming voice at the same time. “Only royalty may enter,” said the guards.

“But invaders have taken over my village,” Jasmine said, “May I please ask for help?”

“NO” said the guards again, in the same loud booming voice.

“Ugh” said Jasmine in despair, and she walked away. “Just open the doors!” she screamed, getting very mad. The guard ignored her. She started kicking the guards foot, but finally she gave up. She sat under the nearest tree under the shade and lay down.

“How hard is it to get in?” she yelled. Then she sat up, and she thought of an idea. Maybe I could go through the moat, and go through the gate and into the castle, she thought. “Okay, bye-bye!” she said to the guards. Jasmine did her best job to clean up her clothes to look nice for the queen. Then she walked around to the back of the castle. She took three deep breaths and then said, One . . . Two . . . Three . . . GO! And jumped into the moat.

She swam straight through the icky moat until she touched a gate. She was skinny enough to swim through the gate bars. She squeezed through and finally got to the surface. She was huffing and puffing. When she looked up, she saw she was inside the castle. She was in a fountain! She got out of the fountain dripping wet. She saw guards in the same shiny silver armour and servants, some in aprons, others in suits. She also saw a spiral staircase up to the mezzanine. Everyone stared at her.

“What are you doing here young lady?” asked the guards.

“We need to get you cleaned up,” said the servants.

“How did you even get here?” asked some others.

Jasmine ignored them. She ran up the spiral staircase searching for the Queen’s room. Then she ran back down the staircase.

“Um excuse me, but do you know where the Queen is?” she asked the servants.

“She’s in the throne room,” said the servants. Then the guards turned around.

“Don’t just stand there!” said a guard to the others. Then all of the guards ran up the staircase chasing Jasmine, but Jasmine was too fast. She slipped right out of their reach. Jasmine ran and ran and ran up another spiral staircase to the third floor. She ran to the other side of the floor and found a big silver door with brass handles. She knocked on the door and waited for an answer, the guards at her heels. The guards didn’t dare run anymore now that they were at the Queen’s throne room. Then, the Queen opened the door to the throne room.

She had so much makeup on she looked like a doll. She had cherry red lips and a poofy lavender dress with ruffles all over it. She wore baby blue high heels with crystal hearts all over them. The dress had long fluffy sleeves covered in ruffles of lace. She had sharp blue eyes and a stern look. Her cheeks were pink just like her shiny earrings.

“Hello, why are you here?” asked the Queen in a strong British accent. “And you just interrupted me, how rude. Also, why are you so dirty? Only royalty can step foot in this castle.” Jasmine could tell that it would be hard to persuade the Queen to lend her some soldiers for her village.

“Excuse me,” asked Jasmine, “I’m here because invaders invaded my poor little village.”

“What is your village called?” asked the Queen.

“Panadel,” said Jasmine.

“I’ve never even heard of it!” said the Queen.

“It’s a poor village next to the dark forest,” said Jasmine.

“A poor village next to the dark forest? Why would I help such a poor little village like Panadel? I only help rich villages become richer!” she laughed. “Okay, send her out!” she said to the guards. “It’s not worth it to help poor little villages like Panadel.” The guards grabbed her arms and shoved her out.

“Never come back,” the guards said. “You are a disgrace to Chanistia.”

Jasmine lay on the ground. She didn’t know what to do. Jasmine had been through all of this for nothing. The queen had just said ‘no.’ Should she go back? Should she stay here? What should she do? If I go back, maybe I can save the village myself, Jasmine thought, No, that would be impossible. I’m just a normal girl.

“All that for nothing,” she said, “I’ll just go back. Then, they’ll capture me and I won’t have to worry about anything ever again.” She started climbing down the mountain and ran through the forest, the snowy village, and then climbed the snowy mountains and slid down. Then, she ran through the dark forest and all the way to the village. When she saw the village, she was surprised.

She saw the invaders wearing deerskin and whipping the villagers if they did not do their work. Jasmine was outraged. How could the invaders come in and force them to work? Jasmine couldn’t just go back and give up! She had to think of a plan! She couldn’t give up now! Jasmine thought and thought and thought. She didn’t know what to do. What if the plan failed? What if she got killed? There were so many questions!

I’m gonna think of a plan that nobody will notice, said Jasmine, Maybe I will kill the invaders off one by one. But how will I kill them? A bow and arrow? My village is too poor to have bows and arrows!

I can make a bow and arrow, she thought, using wood and string from the forest. Jasmine cut down branches from trees using a small knife she found. She collected old cobwebs from dead spiders and braided them all together to make a strong string. Finally, her bow and all of her arrows were completed. While she was making the bow and arrows, she saw all the invaders and counted all of them. She made arrows for each invader and five extra if she missed.

She climbed a tree and sat on it. Every day, she would kill two invaders, starting now. She put an arrow on her bow. Jasmine was very, very good at aiming. Finally, she found her target, who was a young man. He had long brown hair and wore a boarskin around his body. Then, she let go of the arrow. The arrow shot through the sky and finally fell down and hit him. The arrow speared through his chest, and he collapsed to the floor. Jasmine quickly climbed down the tree and ran to the man. She slipped him away so that none of the invaders would notice. She dug a large hole and stuck him inside.

Every single day, this continued. After the fourth day, she had already lost nine arrows. Day after day, this continued. Nobody noticed, until the last day. There were only two more invaders to kill. “Where did everybody else go?” one of them said to the other.

Jasmine had gotten so good at aiming that while the two invaders were standing next to each other, Jasmine had shot two arrows at the same time; one headed for one of the invaders, while the other headed towards the other. They both died at the exact same time and fell to the ground. Jasmine dragged both of them into the forest and buried them with everybody else.

All of the villagers cheered. “Yay! Jasmine saved the day!” But then, they stopped. Jasmine slid down the tree and came into the village. “Why did you stop cheering? What happened?”

A single villager stepped forward. “We are so sorry for your loss,” she told her.

“What loss?” Jasmine asked.

“Your parents,” she said.

“Oh no…” Jasmine whispered.

“I’m sorry,” said the villager, “The invaders would not let them look for you, but they did so anyway. Eventually, the invaders killed them.”

“Oh my gosh,” said Jasmine, “My parents! I should never have left them!” Jasmine cried and cried and cried. She hated the invaders so much. “I should never have run away,” she said, “I should have protected my parents.”

Two days passed; then, two more after that, and two more after that. Jasmine was still crying. She didn’t even get to say goodbye to her parents. They were just… gone. When she was cleaning out the house one day, she found a letter in her father’s desk drawer.

It said: ‘To Jasmine, I love you’ on the front. Jasmine opened up the letter.

Dear Jasmine,

I should have told you long ago. It is hard to explain everything in one letter, though. You are actually half fairy. I didn’t tell you before because we thought you would tell everyone and you would be in grave danger, because people would force you to grant them wishes and keep you captive just like they did to me. That also might explain why you can do magical things.

Love,

Your father.

Jasmine was scared. She didn’t even know if it was true. Was it a prank? Was her father really a fairy? Was Jasmine a fairy? Was this true? Jasmine remembered what the ghost said. “Really? You mean you don’t know that you can go through the door?” the ghost had said.

Also, the frostbite didn’t hurt much, Jasmine remembered, I guess I am a fairy!

Jasmine would keep her village safe now. She would find it more resources. And she would teach them how to defend the village so no more invaders would ever come back.

Jasmine had lost her impulse to be rude and mean, but now, after her journey and the death of her parents, she had learned to never give up. To always keep trying, even if so many bad things and setbacks happened.

Jasmine looked out at her poor village and thought of how she could change it to make it safer. Jasmine put down the letter and for the first time she felt safe.

Behind the Screen

I had been waiting for this day all year long.

It wasn’t Christmas. Or Thanksgiving. Or even my birthday.

It was the last day of school.

For as far as I remember, I had never enjoyed school. It just wasn’t fit for me, as some people say. I would prefer to be at home, hacking my computer or playing Minecraft. But this was my favorite time of the school year –– the last day of school, the last period: Only an hour away from freedom. I couldn’t help feeling happy.

I drummed my fingers on the lockers as I walked down the hallway. My last class was math, which I wasn’t particularly good at. Usually, I dreaded going to math class and facing my strict teacher, Mr. Foster. But today was different. As I neared my math classroom, I thought, Only an hour to go! What could possibly go wrong?

When I walked in my math classroom, I caught Mr. Foster staring at me, trying to catch my eye. I didn’t notice, because I was too busy thinking about escaping school and being free. Just one hour! I kept repeating to myself. Then I’m free!

When class finally started, I couldn’t help squirming around in my seat with excitement. Mr. Foster stood up, and announced that he was going to pass out our end of the year math tests. That got my attention. I hadn’t really paid attention to the test, but I couldn’t fail… could I?

Mr. Foster frowned as he reached my desk. When he dropped my test on my desk face-down, he whispered to me, “Meet me after class. We need to talk.”

That really got me worried. I didn’t dare look at my grade, so I just left the test sitting there. I noticed a few kids staring at my test, and I squirmed around some more. A kid named Ash sitting next to me leaned over.

“Hey,” he whispered. “What did you get? I got an A. My mom is going to FREAK OUT when she finds out that I got something wrong.”

“Shut up,” I whispered back to him. “Stop bragging.”

“Hey, just let me see your grade, will you?” Ash asked, irritated. He reached over for my paper.

“NO!” I shouted. But it was too late. He had grabbed my paper off my desk, and sat back in his chair. All eyes turned to us.

Ash’s eyes opened wide as he stared at my paper, open-mouthed. “Lemme see!” Kids from all around called. Even I went up to have a look.

“Boys and girls! Go back to your seats!” Mr. Foster shouted. Nobody besides Ash had time to see my grade. Not even me.

“Here, you can have your test back.” Ash handed me my test. He still seemed shocked. What was my grade? Part of me didn’t want to know.

Mr. Foster sent everyone back to their desks. He began a lecture about keeping your grade to yourself. I didn’t listen. More important thoughts were floating around in my head.

Like my math test.

The rest of the math class was okay. Everyone kept giving me weird looks, while I tried to ignore them. Finally, when math class ended, Mr. Foster called me over to his desk. But I knew I had to see my grade first.

Slowly, I flipped the test over with my eyes glued shut. Nervousness flowed through me as I opened my eyes to take a peek.

When I saw the letter written on the top of my paper, I gasped. I stood up and ran out of the classroom, ignoring Mr. Foster’s calls. I grabbed my belongings from my locker along the way, and sped up as I ran out into the hallway and outside, sobbing.

* * *

I didn’t take the bus home that day. Instead, I ran home, crying the whole way. I didn’t take any notice of anything around me. I just ran, as if it were a way to escape from my teacher, my worries, and my grade.

When my house appeared in sight, I suddenly slowed down. Why was I running home? I thought. Great. Now I’m here early, and my mom is going to suspect that something is wrong. I guess I’ll have to hide out here.

So, quietly, I snuck into the front yard and hid in the bushes. It was uncomfortable, and prickly. Suddenly, a sharp branch poked me. I rolled over and crashed into the door.

“Ouch!” I shouted. I gasped. Did my mom hear that? I crawled back under the bush.

The front door suddenly opened and my mom stepped out.

“James! What are you doing, hiding in a bush? Is something wrong?” she asked.

I hesitated. “Uh, well, Mom,” I began, “I…I just like hiding in bushes. It’s… a new fad, hiding in bushes.”

Mom rolled her eyes, as if she didn’t believe me. I didn’t blame her. She knew that the only place where I would willingly hide in a bush was in Minecraft, and I was nowhere near a computer.

Mom sighed as she let me inside. “Well, you couldn’t have been hiding in a bush just because you felt like it. Come on inside and show me what’s wrong.”

Reluctantly, I followed. I knew I was doomed. For the first time in a while, I wish she would return to the way she once was –– too busy to see any of my grades.

I followed my mom into the living room and we both sat down on the couch. “So, I heard you got your final math test back today,” my mom told me. “How did you do? I hope you didn’t just rush through. This test is very important, you know– you could flunk a grade because of it.”

I shifted nervously in the couch, not daring to respond. My mom just sighed. “Well, if you’re not going to tell me, I guess I’ll have to look for myself. James, go get your test.”
I wasn’t about to give up just then.“Mom… I… uh…”

My mom turned to look at me. “Yes?”

“Well, um… I…”

I had no idea what to say. So I said the first thing that came to mind.

“I LOOOOVE hiding in bushes!” I told her loudly.

My mom shot me a weird look. So instead of arguing, I got up and pulled the math test out from my backpack. I handed it to my mom.

For a moment, my mom seemed to be in complete shock. She shook her head as she stared at the paper. “Oh, James,” she sighed.

“Well, Mom, you always say that an A-minus isn’t an A, so…I guess…”

My mom just shook her head. “James, go upstairs. Go hack your computer or play some Minecraft or something. I need to think. And don’t come down until I tell you to.”

Think. That word never meant anything good. I hated, HATED when my parents told me to leave just so they could think, and anger began to flow through me. Sometimes, I just couldn’t believe my parents.

Once I was upstairs in my bedroom, I loaded up Minecraft. Gaming was a way to make me forget about all my worries and whatever’s going on in life. It was also the perfect place to express my anger.

I chose a random server at the top of my list and logged in. In the chat, I typed, “I HATE MY FAMILY! All I feel is asdfghjkl;!”

A new message popped up from a moderator named NerdyGamr21. “Dude, don’t use so many caps. This is your last warning. Also, I highly doubt that your family would do something worthy of your hate.” And, then and there, I was kicked from the server.

I logged back in.

I used caps again.

This time, no warning. I was permanently banned.

Haha, they could never get away with banning me. I hacked myself back in. This time, I only stayed for about two seconds, enough to type, “Well, you wouldn’t understand what is going on in my family” in the chat.

I slammed down my computer screen. I had expected some pity from the players, not a moderator who banned anybody who disobeyed the rules. He was not at all comforting. In fact, he sounded a lot like my mom.

As I was thinking about that dumb moderator, I suddenly heard the sound of the garage door opening. Was it my dad? Apparently, it was. I cringed. Even though he would never yell at me, I knew he would be disappointed to see my grade.

I heard footsteps coming in the house. I squatted down and mashed my ear into the floorboards to eavesdrop. I could hear my mom, standing up from the couch. A small bang sounded.

“Oh, good, you’re here,” my mom remarked. I heard my mom’s footsteps. “I need to talk to you.”

They began whispering. I couldn’t hear much of what they were saying, but I heard my name involved. It didn’t sound good.

After a while of talking, I heard my dad say, “Mmm. Okay. I’ll go talk to him.” I heard the sound of a paper crinkling, and then my dad’s footsteps up the stairs.

I quickly realized that ‘him’ was me. I sat up and jumped up on the bed, trying to act casual. I opened a book and pretended to read.

A few seconds later, my dad walked in. He had on his “let’s get down to business face.” He sat down next to me and held out my test.

“So, James,” my dad began, “Can you explain your grade to me?”

“Can you really expect me to do well on that dumb test? It was so hard, and I bet nobody really got an A on it. So somehow, you think I can? I might not be super dumb, but I’m not the type you would expect to ace a test as hard as that one! I wish I could, but…”

I searched my mind for a random excuse. Nothing came to mind.

My dad shook his head and sighed. “Honestly, James, I wish you would be more careful sometimes. Now let’s go over this test.”

I sighed inwardly. There was no way out.

“So let’s see. Five wrong here, three wrong here, and six wrong here.” My dad turned to face me. “Looks like you need to work on algebra,” he told me. “That’s a skill you will need for next year.”

My dad flipped a page.

“Come on, James, I’m sure your teacher has explained this to you before. Why can’t you remember this? You have been paying attention in class, right?”

“Well… sort of,” I answered. My dad eyed me suspiciously. “Well… no,” I admitted.  

My dad looked at me from the top of his glasses, but didn’t say anything. He just flipped the page silently.

“Next page. Graphing data –– I remember your tutor taught you this before, but ––” he looked down at the page –– “17 wrong.” My dad turned to look at me again. “You have got to do better. There are only 20 questions on this page. What percent of questions did you get wrong?” He questioned.

I couldn’t believe that he was trying to make me ashamed of my grade by making me do the math. “Hey, how should I know?” I replied, annoyed. “You can’t make me do this!”

My dad stood up. “James, I want you to actually think about this grade. This is serious ––  it can affect your future. I’m going to go downstairs and speak to your mom.” And with that, he left me in my room. Alone.

Part of me felt angry for saying what I did. But most of me felt that my dad deserved it. Why were my parents becoming such jerks all of a sudden?

But I didn’t think about it for too long. With a sigh, I plopped myself down onto my gaming chair and opened up my computer. When all went wrong, Minecraft was the solution. Hopefully, the dumb moderator wouldn’t be there.

* * *

After a long time, my dad finally came upstairs. “James, I’ve made an arrangement for you. The math teacher said that your final grade was an F, and that is not enough to move on to eighth grade. So, you’re going to have to take the test again.”

I nearly fell off my seat when I heard his words. Repeat the test?! How would I do that? I had already failed miserably. How could they expect me to do well this time?

My dad somehow knew what I was thinking. “James, you might think that I’m expecting too much of you. But you can do it. From now on, study every day and you’ll do well.”

I couldn’t believe it. Every day? I was no nerd!

Just as my dad was going to leave, he stopped himself. “I almost forgot –– here’s a packet to help you study. I want it complete by tomorrow.” Then, he left.

I looked through the packet. 10 pages?! My dad really was expecting too much of me! Sure, maybe I could do 10 pages in a week. But one day –– impossible.

“Well, better get started,” I told myself reluctantly. I picked up my pencil and stared down at the paper. Algebra?!! On the first page?!! I shook my head. Nah, I’ll do that later, I thought. Opening up my laptop, I loaded up Minecraft. I have better things to do.

I logged in to the server where I first met the moderator, NerdyGamr21. Surprisingly, he was also on. It was almost as if he knew what I was doing.

Trying to ignore the dumb moderator, I went straight over to the parkour. But then, something in the chat caught my attention.

In the chat, NerdyGamr21 had typed, “Hey, xXProclassGamerXx, if I’ve been here for 20 minutes, how many seconds have I been on for?”

At first, I laughed. Somebody must be having the same problem as me, I thought. But when I noticed players gathering around me and try to punch me in the face, I realized that xXProclassGamerXx was me!

I burst out of the circle of players congregating around me and walked over to where NerdyGamr21 was standing. I told him privately in chat, “SHUT UP!,” and I left.

Imagine a system of gas pipes. There they are, sitting there, minding their own business, until somebody nearby lights a match, and the whole thing blows up. That’s how I felt when StupidGamr21 or whatever his name was insulted me –– I was exploding inside. But I just sat there, glaring at the screen. How dare he insult me!

I’ve had enough gaming for now, I thought. The only problem was that there was nothing else to do. I could do the math packet, but… that was too much work for me, and avoiding the packet came first in my mind.

But something in my mind urged me to finish the packet first. It was a huge burden, and I felt that facing it was the only way to make it go away. Fine! I thought, giving in. My dad will be pretty mad if I don’t do it anyways.

When I looked deep into the problems, I realized that they were not as hard as I thought they would be. I got through the first page in about 40 minutes, and started the second.

I finished the rest of the packet at the same rate. When I was finished, I had already eaten dinner, and it was nearly time for bed. I yawned. Even though the packet was the worst form of torture, I felt a strange type of pride in finishing.

That’s enough for today, I thought. I sat down on my bed, and put my head down on my pillow. I fell asleep instantly, exhausted from all the work. I think I deserve a rest.

* * *

The next few days came and went the exact same way. Each day, my dad would give me a packet to finish. I would also play Minecraft, but I would try to avoid the server where I had first met the moderator, even though it was my favorite.

By the fifth day of following this routine, I was getting really tired of these math packets. The pride of finishing one was wearing off, too, once I realized that I was getting several problems wrong.

My parents seemed to have changed a lot. I realized that my mom was beginning to go on the computer much more often, and my dad was always whispering to her in a small voice. I was beginning to get slightly suspicious.

That day, I went downstairs into the office and went on my mom’s computer. I pressed ctrl+H to check her history. When I her history, my jaw dropped open.

Tuesday, 4:21: Minecraft. Just twenty minutes ago. This wasn’t right. I closed the page and checked her home screen. Sure enough, Minecraft was downloaded.

I clicked on the icon of the green block of grass. The Minecraft launcher appeared. At the bottom left corner, I saw her username.

NerdyGamr21.

No, this couldn’t be right.

For a few moments, I just sat there, staring at the screen of her computer with a blank look on my face. How could my mom be a moderator? I thought. It occurred to me that my mom knew more than she let on. But that didn’t stop me from being angry at her. In fact, I was furious.

“MOM!” I shouted at the top of my lungs. My mom came running into the office.

“James! Is anything wrong? What are you screaming about? Why are you sitting at my computer, and what are you doing on it?”

She leaned over and glanced at the screen. “What –– oh, James.” Her voice dropped.

“Y-you knew. You knew the whole time that I’ve been playing on the computer, haven’t you? You’ve been watching and humiliating me on the server!”

“James-” my mom began.

“I’ve had enough.”

I stormed up to my room. When I logged on to Minecraft, I realized that there was a new addition to my list of servers. Surprised, I clicked on it.

There was only one other person on the server. NerdyGamr21. Wow, my mom was sure smart.

In chat, I typed, “What are you doing on here?”

A few seconds later, a response appeared. “I’ve come here to talk.”

“About what?”

“You. And your computer. And my job as a moderator.”

I didn’t respond. I sat back in my chair, watching the screen, waiting for my mom to go on.

“I just wanted to bring you closer to us, and your responsibilities at school. I never meant to humiliate you. I just felt that you being with your computer had brought us apart.”

I was about to respond, but it was just then that I realized that I had been spending so much time behind my screen instead of with my family. If I had been out and about more often, I would have realized what my mom was doing earlier on. But no. I had chosen to hide in my room, away from my family, away from my responsibilities at school, with my computer as company.

But this was going to end. I slammed down my computer screen. After years of hiding, I needed to face reality. Not the players in Minecraft. Reality.

I walked down the stairs and into the office. “Mom?”

“Yes?”

She closed the screen of her computer. “Do you want to talk to me?”
“Mom, I…”

My mom sighed. “I know, James. I understand that you find the computer very addicting. That’s the problem with most modern children these days –– they spend so much time behind the screen and don’t know how to spend time with their family. You’re not to blame –– it’s just all this technology. It can be tempting.”

I nodded. “Yeah. Some people text their parents instead of walking 10 feet to go talk to them.”
My mom nodded. “Exactly what I mean. You see, hardly any of these kids nowadays remember that they have parents right next to them. I have to admit, ever since I started playing Minecraft, I’ve really been addicted to this computer.”

“When was that?”

“Oh, just a couple months after you began playing Minecraft. At first, I was curious about what you found so fun about playing Minecraft, and I wanted to try it for myself. So soon, I realized how amazing the game was, and became addicted. When I realized that I was spending too much time on the computer, I decided to take a break. And now I’m back, to bring you back to reality, too.”

I nodded. “Well, I think I’m back. Don’t expect me to give up Minecraft completely, but I guess I have to face reality at some point in time.”

My mom smiled at me. “Well, speaking of reality, I think it’s almost time you take your final math test. Why don’t you go upstairs and study? You will take the test sometime next week. And don’t tell me you’re not ready, because the computer is no longer in your way.”

* * *

For the next few days, I studied hard. I tried to do as well as possible, and even my dad was proud of my progress. “Great work, James,” he told me after I had finished one of his packets with only three mistakes.

But as the test got nearer and nearer, I got super nervous. What if the same thing happened again? Then I wouldn’t be able to advance to eighth grade! I would be left behind with everyone teasing me.

However, despite my nervousness, part of me was still hopeful. I had studied hard, passing shouldn’t be a problem… should it?

When the day finally came, I had pretty much dropped the hopeful part of me. Nervousness dominated. “What if I fail?” I told my mom in frustration.

“Don’t worry. You only need to get a B+ or better to pass,” my mom told me. “You’ve been studying so hard, I don’t think it’ll be a problem at all.”

Easy for you to say, I thought.

My mom told me that I would be taking the test over at the school, so we hopped into the car. During the ride to the school, I fidgeted in my seat, playing with the seat belt. My eyes were glued to the view outside. There was a tense silence inside.

When we finally got to the school, I had calmed down a bit. Ok, I told myself. It’s just a test. I’ve been studying so hard, and I am bound to do well.

I followed my mom into the building, and I was greeted by the vice principal, Mr. Price. “Hey, there,” he greeted us. “I’ll assume you’re Ash. Are you here to retake the test?”

For a moment, I was shocked. Ash had to retake the test too?

Maybe he hadn’t gotten an A after all, I thought. But before I could think of something witty to tell of him, my mom tapped me on the shoulder, bringing me back to my senses.

“Uh-no,” I told Mr. Price. “I mean, I’m here to retake the test, but I’m James Larson. Where do I go?”
The principal led me inside the school and into room 214. “Here. Your mother will remain outside while you take the test.” I looked inside. A dozen other kids were sitting at desks scattered around the room. “We’re just about to start the test. You can go find a seat anywhere.”

I nodded, and chose a seat at the front of the room. Soon, the tests were handed out, and the time started. I grabbed my pencil and began right away. I couldn’t fail again.

* * *

“Okay, time’s up.” Our instructor, Mr. Snyder, came around to collect our tests. “Pencils down. As soon as I collect your test, you may leave the room.”

I dropped my pencil and glanced upwards. Just in time, I thought. I stood up as Mr. Snyder took my paper from me. With a last glance at the retakers, I left the room.

My mom was waiting for me outside. “Well?” she asked. “How did you do?”
“Fine.” I glanced down at the floor. We left the building in silence.

“Well, I’m excited to get your test scores,” my mom told me.

And I’m nervous, I thought.

* * *

A few days later, I found a package in the mail addressed to me. Must be my test scores, I thought. I brought it back inside, afraid of what it might hold.

“Mom?” I called as I enter the house. “The test scores came.”

Footsteps sounded from above. “Coming!” she replied. “What did you get?”

I shrugged nervously. “Who knows?”

For a moment, we both just stared down at the envelope.

“Are you gonna open this?” my mom asked me.
I shrugged. “You do it,” I told her. She ripped it open.

I didn’t dare look at her. I could hear the paper crinkling, and then a faint sigh of relief from my mother. I looked up and my eyes met with the beautiful A- scrawled at the top of my paper.

I couldn’t contain my happiness. I grinned at my mom, and took the paper from her. I went through my test. Only 3 wrong answers in the whole thing! “I knew you could do it, James,” my mom told me as she patted my shoulder. “I knew you could.”

I nodded, placing the test on the nearby table. Well, now that that’s off my mind, I thought, I guess I’ll go play some Minecraft. I began heading upstairs, but stopped midway. I looked down at my mom, who was looking me in the eye.

For a moment, there was silence. We just stared at each other. Then, instead of continuing my way up, I turned around and headed back down towards my mom. She looked at me, surprised.

“Aren’t you going to play some Minecraft?” she asked me.

I shook my head. “Of course not. I have my family with me, and that’s all that matters. I don’t care if I win a game in Minecraft, or if there’s a new update. I’m tired of hiding behind that screen.”

My mom smiled. “Well, I’m glad. So, you wanna go out for a celebration? We’ll go to Veneto’s, your favorite.”

I nodded. “Hey, why not? Let’s go!”

As we piled into the car, I felt a surge of happiness. Though I had enjoyed playing Minecraft for a while, I had finally found something even better –– just spending time with my family. Right there in that car, I promised myself that I would never be so closed off again. I would try to make some friends and spend more time with my family, and avoid that computer screen that blocked everyone out of my life. It was as if the wall separating me from my family had been broken down.

We were united once more.

Epilogue

That was how my brand-new life began. That night, I packed my computer away into my suitcase. It would remain there for a while.

I began to spend more time with my parents instead of hanging out, alone, in my room. We had tons of fun together, and went out for dinner together often. Together, we learned more about each other, which formed an unbreakable bond between us three. At the end of the month, I couldn’t imagine how I had been able to withstand so much time away from them.

But with all the fun I was having, there was no room for regrets. I enjoyed my time, and, as they call it, lived life to the fullest. I had never felt better –– and it would never have happened if I were still hiding behind the screen of my computer. Never once did I feel any pain at all for giving up hacking, because feeling what I felt inside, I knew it was the right decision.

A Big Fall

“Okay girls, practice is over!” Coach beckons us over and we jump off the beams. “Good practice, Kiera, watch out for your landings. Britt, keep your legs together on your roundoff. And Katherine, work on you back handspring,” she informs the other three girls.

Then, she looks at me.

“Noelle, keep working hard, you’re our All State elite champion. The big championship meet is tomorrow.” A shiver of excitement runs down my back. Soon, I will be flying through the air at the National Championships. My dream! Coach dismisses us and I follow the other girls into the locker room.

“Noelle, are you nervous for the championships?” Kate asks me.

“No, not really,” I respond as I turn on the shower.

“You’re so lucky!” Britt tells me. She’s also an elite gymnast, but Britt doesn’t qualify for the National Championships.

“Come on guys, you guys aren’t competing,” I try to hide my pride.

“Well, don’t worry. We’ll be watching and cheering you on,” my best friend, Kiera, encourages. We scramble into my mom’s car, chittering nonstop.

“How was practice?” she asks.

“Great, now can we please go? We’re going to be late for third period and Mr. Netoon is so strict,” I urge my mother.

Without another word, my mom steps on the pedal and we’re off. A few minutes later, the car screeches to a stop in front of the middle school. Kiera and I run into Mr. Newton’s classroom and choose a spot.

***

Algebra, so annoying! A few hours later, after school, I’m doing my homework as I start to draw my routine on beam out of stick figures on the sheet. I’m certainly an Elite in gymnastics, but definitely not in math.

***

Before I know it, my mother is calling me for dinner. I’m done with my homework, finally. Standing up from my chair, I slam shut my textbook. Dinner consists of broccoli, tofu, a salad, and, my favorite, beets. As an Elite gymnast, we’re practically required to eat healthy, sucks. I start to eat my dinner in silence.

“So, Noelle,” my father starts, “we’ll be cheering you on at the competition.”

“Cool,” I exclaim and jab at my food.

Ding dong! The doorbell rings. Who could it be? I glance at my mom, who is wearing an I-know-something-you-don’t-know smile. A girl with midnight black hair and stone brown eyes walks in with her mom. “Noelle, this is Mrs. Reeves and Delia. Mrs. Reeves and Delia, this is Noelle,” my mom cheerfully introduces us. “The Reeves are our new neighbors I decided to invite them over!” my mom explains.

Mrs. Reeves and her daughter look serious. Too serious.

“I heard you’re the best in Maine and you’re heading to Champs tomorrow,” she drawls with a slight Texas accent.

“Um, yeah,” I stammer.

“Why don’t you girls go up to Noelle’s room and hang out?” my mom suggests.

I lead Delia into my room. Clearly she’s impressed. My room has a white loft with a desk underneath. On my desk I have a Macbook Pro and an iMac. On my wall, I have a poster signed by Taylor Swift. My closet is filled with designer clothes. All of my furniture is white with designs I painted on them. Basically, my room is the room every girl would want.

“You know, I could have made it to Champs. I don’t believe you’re the best,” she glares at me, regaining her snobby attitude.

Yeesh. “Well, I guess I’ll just have to prove to you tomorrow when I get first,” I saunter out of the room, grabbing my phone, and text Kiera.

NoelleHandstand1: Kiera! Save me! There’s this girl here named Delia who thinks she’s better than me in life!

KikiA42: Jee good luck dealing with her!

NoelleHandstand 1: u know what, I’m gonna go practice my bars routine in my garage.

KikiA42: OK tell Delia to go away. C u tomar at early morning practice B4 the Champs!

NoelleHandstand 1: BYE!!!

I slip my phone into my pocket. I race downstairs. As I push open the garage door, I yell to my mom where I will be. I ignore Mrs. Reeves’s snarky comment. She’s just as bad as her daughter. I pull on my grips; without them I would slide off the bars. I take a deep breath and my routine takes over me. Soon I land with a satisfying thunk on the blue mat. Panting, I grab my water bottle. I take a huge swig out of it and I get on the beam. My instincts take over and before I know it, I’m doing all sorts of complicated tricks. Suddenly, my mom comes out.

“Whew, Noelle it smells like a sweatshop in here,” she holds her nose and glances around. “Well, I just came to tell you that it is time for bed,” she finishes, closing the door behind her.

I groan and slam the garage door. The championships are tomorrow and my parents and coach are all about me winning. I mean, I’m excited to go because it has been my dream my whole entire life, but my coach and parents are a little extreme.

“Win or die!” is literally what they are all saying. Uhhh, so much PRESSURE.

A few minutes later, I’m staring up at the light pink wall of my bedroom. I may have fallen asleep, but my thoughts are still rushing through my head like a long flowing river. I wish that Delia — the devil, should I call her? — never ever came into my life. Who did she think she was, with the right to make fun of me? I also have wished, multiple times actually, that I wasn’t the best gymnast in the state. Oh, sure, I have all that fame, but I don’t think anyone has ever thought about how much PRESSURE is put on me. Half of me loves the fame but the other half is dead. They clash in a battle, 24/7. I’m in the middle. The coaches always say that I’m going to do fine, I’m perfect. But do I think that? Sometimes, not really….

***

“And you’re gonna hear me r-r-roar!” My alarm blasts Katy Perry’s “Roar!” as I groggily sit up. Then, I fall right back down, flat on my face. Today is the big day and I was having thoughts of doubt in my sleep. But, of course, first comes early morning practice. I don’t get it, why do they have practice on meet days; especially a meet as big as THIS. Grudgingly, I trudge to the bathroom and start to brush my teeth.

***

I take a running start, leap on the springboard, and do a flawless Yurchenko vault. As I stick my landing I hear my coaches whooping. Of course. How could I ever worry about Delia? Everybody knows that I’m gonna do fine. I perform flawlessly on beam, bars, vault, floor. At the end, Coach comes up to me.

“Noelle, we’re very proud of you, you have created a spotless reputation and we wish the best for you this afternoon. Just remember this, we’re extremely proud of you.” Yeah, all that cheesy stuff. After that was said, I go into the locker room to meet up with Kiera.

“So, I saw your texts of desperateness; is Delia really that bad?”

“Oh yeah!” I reply, not missing a single heartbeat.

“Well, gotta go, my mom’s taking me shopping for some new clothes, I’ll see you later,” Kiera leaves me alone as I smooth out my leotard for later. It’s red and blue, with a white line separating where the colors meet up. I’m so jittery as I shove my things back into my duffel bag and run out to meet my mom. Just like me, she’s jittery.

“Okay, Noelle, here’s your schedule. First you are warming up. You go to the practice room and practice for thirty minutes, and then it’s go time.”

***

I fly through the air on my final flip as I let go of the white bar. As I land with a refreshing thump on the dark blue mat, the enormous crowd goes wild. Maybe my coach’s pep talk helped. Or possibly it was the tight leotard that I had stressfully pulled on. Whatever it is or was, I end up with a 9.89. Currently, I am in first place so far. I stroll to my next event, bars, with ease. Obviously, I will do flawlessly.

As I have predicted, I do impeccably, and I am extremely relaxed as I start on the beam. I raise my arms to the judges and take a deep breath. Nothing can go wrong now, one more event. My starting pose is an upside down split with my hands gripping tightly on the chalky beam. Once my energetic music starts up, I don’t even bother to pay attention to everything. I know I will do fine. Normally, my senses would be on high alert; even on small meets. But, what really could go wrong? I have done everything impeccably.

I swing up on the beam. Perfectly with the rhythm, I do a pivot with my leg sticking out behind me. Then, I do a split leap followed by a quick back handspring. The whole time I am with the music. Then, I lie down and bring my legs all the way on top on my head. I unroll and do a handstand pivot. My next move is an aerial. Before I know it, it is time for my final move. I study the beam in front of me, and right on cue I start my double tuck and somersault. Do I finish it? Nope. Not at all….

***

The next morning, I groan as I pick up my gray crutches. Struggling, I force myself up from my bed. My mom calls me for breakfast and I slip on an outfit. It takes me a while, but finally I make it downstairs and to the breakfast table.

“Hey grumpy,” my mom ruffles my hair.

“Hmf,” I mumble as I glance at my phone to check the time.

It’s 7:30 and I have a gazillion texts. Kira has told me “relax,” and “it’s okay,” about twenty times. Delia is texting me fake pity faces that I chose to ignore. My mom and dad have been spoiling me since I woke up (there was a balloon and a brand new leotard on my bedside table) but it makes no difference. What was done is done.

I still have the clear image. I leap into my double tuck and somersault.  I hear the crowd cheering and I think of Delia. That little — all of a sudden, my feet and legs are going everywhere and I’m out of control. What is happening? Before I know it, it is too late. I lie sprawled across the blue mat, crying in pain. My mom and coach immediately rush over and help me up. My leg is bursting with pain and my coach sits me down. He asks me what hurts and I blurt out the whole thing, except for the Delia part. He tells my mom to call an ambulance. Soon, I am lying on a white hospital cot while the doctor announces the bad news. I have broken my leg.

“Honey, do you want Cheerios or Wheaties?” my mom asks, snapping me out of my daydream. Well, more like day nightmare.

“Cheerios,” I reply frankly and text Delia back.

NoelleHandstand1: Shut up you jerk.

I hit send; I’m not even thinking about what I’m doing. I just do it, like the Nike motto. Then, I delete her chat and clutch my phone. I feel as if I will get in trouble, but I don’t care. I’m now Rebel Noelle, committing crimes left and right. I’m done.

I wake up to the sound of my mom yelling for me. It’s only six and I don’t have to get up until 7:30. What could possibly be wrong at this time in the morning? I do a march-ish stagger to my mom’s room to chew her out for waking me up, but I soon as I see her face, I know it’s a bad idea. My mom is holding her phone like it was a bug and she has on a bewildered face.

“NOELLE! Look at this! Delia’s mom just sent this to me; apparently, you called her daughter a jerk AND you told her to shut up!” I have never in my life seen my mom so mad!

“Well, Mom, she was being mean to me and and — ” I don’t get to finish because my mom starts lecturing me again.

“That’s it, young lady, your phone is gone, for a week.” She opens her hand and I drop my phone into her palm. There is no use arguing.

“And, you have to find something to occupy yourself. Right now you have nothing to do,” she adds. Wow. Gymnastics was my life and my mom was already trying to replace it. I stomp away.

School seems to last for a year. Finally, I streak down the halls, well more like stagger, as fast I as I can to freedom, but something catches my attention. There is a two feet by four feet poster that says:

Art Club

Join Today! Meets Tuesdays

My mom did say that I have to start something new. Why not art club? I mean, as reluctant as I am, I also thought this sounded fun. When my mom says to do something, I have to do it. As I scribble my name on the signup sheet, Kiera comes by.

“You’re signing up for art club?” she asks.

“My mom’s making me,” I reply. Kira shrugs and we walk out of school together.

I slam the door shut as I announce that I’m home. My mom greets me and  takes my backpack.

“Did you pick up anything new?” she asks as I sit down.

“I signed up for art club,” I grudgingly reply. “We meet Tuesdays after school.” I grab my bag and march upstairs to do my homework.

***

“Today we are going to draw a person. You can make him/her doing whatever he/she is doing. Just remember, use your imagination and try your best,” Mrs. Ziegler beams at the art club. I pick up my pencil and start sketching. I promise myself that this will turn out terrible. First, I sketch a head, a body, arms, and legs. My girl is posing as if she just ended a back handspring. Her foot is slightly up and her arms are raised like a champion. Now, to add some facial features. Soon, she has a short, curly, blond ponytail and a smiling face. For my final touches, I sketch a leotard and a beam. The art teacher comes over and glances at my paper.

“Wow! You did an excellent job!” she picks my paper up and pins it on the board. My face turns red as all the kids crowd around and praise my character. I’m both proud and embarrassed. I can’t believe this, I’m having fun in something other than gymnastics. The rest of the time passes in a flash and soon I’m running out of the building to meet my mom.

“You sure look overjoyed!” My mom pulls out of the parking lot as I smile widely.

“The teacher posted my artwork on the board in art club and everybody liked it,” I explain.

“Great job! This is Facebook-worthy!” My mom does her happy dance and pulls over. Just so you know, my mom is a facebook freak.

“Say cheese!” She snaps a picture and pull up back onto the road.  

As soon as we get home, my mom posts her post and writes her caption. The whole time I was happy. I wasn’t thinking about one thing: Delia.

“Hi y’all!” a girl with black, raven hair drawls as she walks into the art room for art club.

Delia.

She plops down on the seat next to me and ‘accidently’ pushes my paper onto the wet floor. Groaning, I pick it up.

“What are you doing here?” I ask her.

“Well, I saw your mom’s post on Facebook and I decided to give art club a try,” she replies innocently.

My friends, Whitney and Kloe glance at me wearily. I give them a look as if to say, “Delia is not good news.” They seem to get the message. Before I have the time to think of a snarky comment to Delia, Mrs. Ziegler claps her hands.

“Class! As you may know, we have an art expo coming up. Only one student’s work will be featured from this club. Here are the list of contestants. Delia Reeves, Whitney Bernen, Kloe Mccarthy, Michael Zeidman, Joyce Lee, and Noelle Greenfield. Good luck!” The thing we are drawing is a person. It can be a boy or girl, and it can be doing anything, anywhere. I doubt I can win. The first day I was here, I drew a good character but I don’t know if I can do it again. Besides, Delia is competing. Isn’t she rumored to be good at life? Suddenly, I have a great idea. I raise my hand.

“Mrs. Ziegler, are we aloud to use artwork that we have drawn before?”

“Yes, of course,” she smiles.

“Are you too scared to lose?” Delia hisses in my ear.

“Nope, just preparing to beat you,” I walk away.

Gingerly, I take my framed picture of my gymnast down. I decide to use my original picture and trace it and color it in. Taking out my black Sharpie pen, I examine my paper. Tracing is an easy feat. Slowly, I trace my drawing, making sure I don’t mess up. Then, I take out my colored pencils and start shading lightly. When I’m done, I have a colorful image of a gymnast. Perfect.

“Mrs. Ziegler, here’s my art expo entry,” I hand the teacher my artwork.

“Great! Results will come out this afternoon. You are the last contest entry,” she replies.

I am so nervous throughout the whole day. Everything passes in slow motion. At one point in the day, Delia stops me.

“Noelle the Nobody! After today, that will be your brand new name. It suits you perfectly anyways.” She smirks and saunters off.

Soon, I stand in the crowd waiting at the art room. Delia shows up.

“I am so gonna win!” she singsongs in my face. Mrs. Ziegler comes out.

“The winner is…”

“Delia Reeves!” Delia yells in my face.

“Noelle Greenfield!”

I can’t believe my ears. Mrs. Ziegler holds up my entry. I catch Delia slinking away into the crowd. Finally, I have proven Delia wrong. I have won.

***

That night, I lie on my back and stare at the light pink ceiling of my bedroom. I am happy I have won but I feel like there is a hole in me. Inside me, I really truly just want to be flying through the air on my Yurchenko vault or doing back handsprings on the beam. But, I have finally realised that the true meaning of life isn’t about doing one thing. It’s about being flexible and trying new things. I slowly drift off to sleep as I dream of my victory. I have won in something other than Gymnastics.

Epilogue: Six Months Later

I do my final move on my floor routine. A split. A flexible one. My smile is wider than ever. After my leg healed, I was able to go back to gymnastics, but I had to freshen up my skills. Finally, my coach let me compete as an Elite gymnast again. My coach gives me a ‘high ten’ and I head to the award ceremony.

You’re probably wondering about Delia. Well, I told my mom that Delia was provoking me. My mom told her mom. Mrs. Reeves was steaming mad at my mom and me for ‘framing’ her dear Delia. So, she transferred her daughter to some rich boarding school place because apparently we were a ‘bad influence’ on her. I haven’t seen her in months.

As for art club, I still do art competitions, and I still do art club after school on Tuesdays. Now, I do Gymnastics, Art Club, and flute. At the end of the day, the more skills, the better. Even if you try and fail, it’s better than not trying anything new. I run up to my first place block and wave to the crowd. My life is not gymnastics. It’s not art. It’s not flute. It’s being me, Noelle Greenfield.

Glitter and the Magical Fig, Part 1

Chapter 1

Once upon a time there was a beautiful unicorn who lived in a magical world where all her dreams came true. The unicorn was called Glitter. She lived with her mother and father. They were named Sparkles and Fire. They never let their daughter out of their sight.

Where the unicorn family lived, the land was always covered with fresh grass and beautiful trees. One particular tree grew delicious and sweet figs. One day Glitter woke up with the bright sun shining in her eyes. At first Glitter wanted to sleep some more. But then she sat bolt up. She just remembered that today was a very special day.

“It’s my birthday,” she cried out loud. She rushed to her parents and saw a big surprise. Her mother and father had made her a triple layered cake made out of grass. This must be a very special birthday! thought Glitter. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have made such a delicious treat.

“Happy birthday honey,” said Sparkles. She cuddled her daughter and then became serious. “Your father and I have been discussing about this and we have decided to let you explore on your own.”

Glitter gave a squeal of joy. This was a very special birthday. She was speechless with joy, although she managed to say, “Thank you.”

Sparkles nodded and flicked her tail. Glitter knew what that meant. Her adventure was about to begin. As she began to race off, her mother called after her, “If you find the fig tree, do not touch any figs.”

Chapter 2

Glitter was happily chasing a monarch butterfly when she ran into a tree and a bunch of leaves showered all over her. Muttering stuff under her breath, Glitter got up. Suddenly, a trembling sensation tingled all over her. It felt good, like everything she ever imagined would come true. A voice in her head said, Look up, Glitter. She did and then gasped in awe. This was the beautiful fig tree where all your dreams come true! All of the muscles in her horn were yelling at her, Get those figs, just reach up and break off the stems. Grab two of them!

But just before she grabbed them, she remembered her mother’s words. They played over and over in her head. “If you find the fig tree, do not touch any figs.”

Glitter shook her head to clear away her vision. Quickly, she grabbed only one fig and hid it behind her back. Then she raced home. When Glitter arrived her mother, Sparkles, asked “Back so soon?”

Glitter just nodded and put on a fake smile. “I just didn’t feel comfortable without my parents,” Glitter lied.

“Tell us all about this exploration of yours,” said Fire with his booming voice.

Glitter retold her parents about her adventure and then went to bed early. But just before going to bed, Glitter ate the fig.

Chapter 3

Glitter shifted in her moss bed. She had trouble sleeping. Glitter decided to take a stroll in the forest. Just when she was about to reach the fig tree, an enormous tiger jumped out the tall grass and started to stalk Glitter. A heartbeat later, the tiger jumped at the frightened unicorn.

But Glitter couldn’t move. Her legs were frozen with fear! Just before the tiger took a chunk of Glitter’s body, a huge booming voice yelled at the striped predator. “Stop playing around.”

All the tiger did was nod in reply and then run back in the grass.

Then he ran away. Glitter turned to thank whoever had saved her, but he had run away. She did manage to catch a glimpse of the vanishing tail. It was orange with thick black stripes. That must be the tigers father, Glitter thought.

Glitter then woke up with a jerk. That was the worst dream ever, thought Glitter. She was so haunted by her dream that she ran to her to get some air without telling her parents.

Chapter 4

Glitter was still shaken up by her dream. She realized that the only place that would calm her down was the fig tree. She ran all the way there so she could come back without her parents noticing that she was gone.

As Glitter emerged from tall grass, she saw the amazing fig tree. She walked around the bottom of the tree, when the other side of the tall grass started to shiver. Suspicious, Glitter edged toward the swaying grass.

Then the grass stood still. Surprised, Glitter stood straight up. Suddenly a huge tiger jumped out of the grass, baring his teeth in a snarl. The startled unicorn fell backwards and twisted her ankle.

Then it hit her. The fig actually made her real dream in the night come true!

While she was reasoning with herself, the tiger had landed delicately beside Glitter.

Oh no, Glitter thought. There is no one in sight to save me. Not even the tiger from my dream. Is this really how I’m going to end my life?

Chapter 5

Glitter was lying on the ground with the tiger towering over her, mouth watering. He raised his paw, unsheathed its claw, and swiped gently at her without making a deep wound.

Why is he just playing with me. Glitter was confused.

The next time the tiger raised his paw, he made a stinging blow. Glitter tried to howled in pain. But no noise came out.

The tiger seemed amused. A big sneer grew on his greedy face. He made another blow, this time a little harder though. This time, Glitter made an ear-piercing scream. The tiger jumped back, his fur standing on end.

Then there was a loud rumbling sound and Fire, erupted from the tall grass. He head butted the tiger with his horn, and then turned back and looked sternly at his daughter. “GO BACK HOME NOW!” He was so angry.

“You look like you’re about to explode,” said Glitter cheerfully.

“No time for smile, Glitter. You disobeyed orders and there will be consequences.”

Glitter hung her head and walked beside him without another word.

Chapter 6

Back home, her mother was pacing in the grass. “Thank goodness you’re alright!” said Sparkles when she saw her daughter. “We’re lucky you weren’t hurt. I can’t believe your immaturity. This is very disappointing, Glitter. Promise me you will never go to that tree again, okay?”

Glitter nodded but secretly she wasn’t making a promise that she would keep. Then she went to her moss bed, and closed her eyes. Just before going to sleep, she whispered to herself, Tomorrow I am going to that tree and getting another fig. Then she drifted off to sleep.

Epilogue

Glitter was walking along the stream. She was headed for the fig tree although her mother had banned her from going there. Her pearly white body was glimmering in the moonlight. Her horn was glittering more brightly than usual. Her hooves were moving ever so lightly, and making no noise. As Glitter moved closer to the fig tree, her confidence started to ebb slowly away.

“What if my parents find out what I‘m doing?” Glitter said to herself out loud. “They will ground me for sure.” Glitters two minds chittered together for a while until Glitter made her decision.

“No one will find out what I’m doing,” Glitter reminded herself. “But if they do, that will just be an unexpected coincidence.”

Quickly, Glitter snapped off one more fig and brought it back home. “That was the best thing that has happened to me. It felt so good,” Glitter said to herself.

Then Glitter curled back in bed, with the fig hidden just underneath her legs, and went to sleep with a smile.

Gilbert the Raccoon and the Fighting Rabies

Hi, I am Gilbert the raccoon, and I am very different than other raccoons. Not only do I have gray and white stripes down my back that kind of look like a horse’s saddle, I also weigh 27.1 pounds, and I am the first raccoon to play baseball. But let me tell you after today plenty more raccoons will play baseball.  As a matter of fact, instead of Major League Baseball or MLB it will be Gilbert the Super Awesome Totally Great Raccoon Baseball League, also known as GTSATGRBL.

I play baseball to make the world a better place. I hope that soon I will be able to move out of my parent’s trash can and be able to live in a trash can of my own with my wife Wanda and my child Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald is a delicate little raccoon only weighing 22.3 pounds, but with the way me and Wanda are raising him he will at least be thirty-eight pounds.

My wife Wanda is sweet like caramel, soft like a cloud, kind like a fellow bird but yet, I think she is weird like a half-bitten pencil, unappealing like a unwrapped stepped-on candy, and personally I think she smells like the dump. If I had the choice I would abandon Wanda and put her back in the trash can she came from, but that is not a choice at the this moment. My ugly wife (I would like to refrain from the phrase “wife”), but anyway, the person I live with who happens to be named Wanda has a gross blob of gray fur right on her rump. She also has a mustard stain on her face that is most likely because she eats like a barbarian.

Fitzgerald is weird like a horse in a tree, unappealing like a rotten apple, and he smells like a porta-potty but yet I love him like I love half-eaten box Chinese food. If I had the choice I would stuff him in a bag and tie him up so he can go everywhere with me. Just as an extra precaution I would smack him with a baseball bat just to make sure he will be quiet, that is how much I love my little Fitzgerald.

As I mentioned earlier I play for the Boston Red Sox and like any baseball player or baseball raccoon our goal is to cross home plate, but for me I fear home plate. Every time I cross home I get a carrot and so do all the other players. But the only thing that scares me more than home plate is carrots! David Ortiz also know as “Big Poppi” crosses home the most that is why he is the biggest on our team. When I cross home plate, I want peace and I want to be able to relax not get showered by raccoonade or get feed carrots bigger then me (personally carrots are step lower than the dumpster and the dumpster sets a pretty low bar, I didn’t even know the made bars lower than that!).

But that’s enough chit chat for me, Hanley Ramirez is up to bat and I am up after him.

As I suspected a ground out to third Hanley is safe but Pedroia is out at second. As I step up to bat I feel heavy but there is no need to call the medic I am a 27.1 pound raccoon with a very heavy bat over my shoulder.

The pitcher throws a ball and I do not swing at it. The next one is a strike, but third time’s a charm as I swing at the ball with all my might. I see it fly. It flies past first base and past the outfield and its gone oh no! I hit a home run!! Did I mention that when you hit a home run and cross home, you don’t only get a carrot and a raccoonade shower, but you get a pecans! I hate pecans more than carrots!!!

As I run the final stretch I realize that the whole team isn’t at home plate waiting to serenade me. They are just in the dugout clapping, and there are no carrots or pecans. Is this it? Am I finally gonna get what I have wanted all along, peace and quiet!?!! And oh, look at the grass blooming tall and the flowers budding and trees growing! I did it I have reached home plate zen!!!

Fifteen years later, Gilbert was voted into the raccoon hall of fame. Gilbert was an inspiration to raccoons everywhere. He went on to teach the homeplate zen club and he decided to coach the Fighting Rabies team which is based out of Guatemala. At age 473, Gilbert went on to change the rules of baseball to whenever you cross home, your teammates must wait in the dugout with flowers and blades of grass that have been prelicked (if you are someone who watches baseball, you know that you don’t actually wait in the dugout with flowers and prelicked blades of grass, but that is because at age 473 Gilbert was not alive but if Mr. Gilbert was still alive we know that was what he would have done.)

As Gilbert exited the field he finds a police officer running toward him. What is happening why is he running towards me? “Sir! Sir!” yelled the police officer. “Your son has called the police department saying that your wife left early yesterday morning and has not returned!” As Gilbert looked at the police officer as cool as a  cucumber he realized a splotch of mustard on the police officer’s face.

“Why should I be concerned? Just because she is my wife, that doesn’t mean I have to love her,” I say sharply.

“Huh, well I think Wanda deserves better,” said the police officer, now starting to sound like Wanda.

“Wait, Wanda is that you in there? Look, I am sorry I didn’t mean to say that to you,” I say slightly confused and embarrassed.

“Well you did!” said the police officer that we now know is Wanda.

“Well you can’t expect to be a caring, sweet, and kind wife and me not to hate you,” I said doubting myself.

“Well actually I kind of expected that if you get lucky enough to get someone like me then you should cherish the moment because one day you are going to die and in heaven you will be hoping that I die with you but I won’t so poo on you.” said my stupid kind of really sweet and I loving wife Wanda.

As I think about a list of pros and cons about Wanda, I realize that the pros outweigh the cons by a lot! The pros are: She is kind, sweet, caring, joyful, selfless, courageous, brave, and don’t forget smart. The cons are: she is a raccoon but then again so am I. Maybe I have been dumb. Maybe Wanda is right. “Wait!” I yelped. “Please stay, I love you and I will never ever let you go again. We should return home as a fat marry couple,” I say, kind of becoming more cheerful.

“You are right for once. We should return home together but let’s leave out the merry part because I don’t do marry my only emotions are sassy, angry, and totally awesome,” said Wanda with a sassy, angry, and for the first time ever totally awesome tone.

I have never been this happy before it is almost as good as home plate zen.

The Package

           

“Ding dong!”

I ran down the stairs and nearly tripped over myself. I have been waiting for this for months! Excitedly, I flung open the door and the mailman handed me a ripped up box that looked like it had been dropped in mud and water. I took the box from the mailman, trying to only hold it by a clean corner. I took the scissors from my desk, and cut the box open. Inside of the box, were packing peanuts and a bright red envelope that was blank. Curiously, I opened the letter and there were two slimy pieces of paper. One of them said “Creator” and one said “Eraser.” At this point, I didn’t even know if this was what I had ordered. I reached inside of the box, and there was only another small envelope. What was different about this one was that it was rainbow. I hoped that this was my new shirt, but I wasn’t so sure. I opened the envelope, and there was a yellow pencil. I threw the pencil on the ground, expecting it to make a loud sound. I was surprised when it made a DING! I picked up the pencil, still infuriated and started to draw on a piece of paper. Just when the pencil hit the paper, the pencil started to say,

“ERROR. ERROR. USE PACKAGED PAPER. DO NOT USE REGULAR PAPER.”

I fell on the ground from the startling noise, and I grabbed the red envelope. Disgusted, I took out the “Creator Paper” and I started to draw on it with the pencil. With the pencil, I drew a cat, which I always wished I had. Sadly, my parents were both allergic to every animal so we could never get a cat. A couple years ago, I learned how to draw very realistic cats. After I finished, I admired the work and patted myself on the back. Just as I did that, the cat’s colors started to fill in, and the picture was getting thicker than the page. The cat’s grey fur started to grow rapidly, and the cat was now real and alive. My eyes got really wide and I started to grin.

“This must be a dream!” I said to myself. I pinched myself to make sure, but I was definitely awake.

“YOU’RE DRAWING IS COMPLETE. THANK YOU FOR USING REAL DOODLER ANIMATIONS,” the pencil said in a pleased tone.

The cat was now off of the page and on the floor, meowing. I jumped up and down in excitement and pet the cat. The cat was purring a lot and I went to the fridge to get last night’s chicken dinner leftovers. The cat gobbled it up, and meowed in delight. I was in a trance, thinking about how I finally had a cat. I went back to the desk and picked up the pencil.

“This pencil is so cool. I could do so much with it! Maybe I could make all the popular girls new IPhones so I can finally hang out with them and be cool!”

I ran over to the slimy piece of paper, and started to draw clothes, phones, and shoes. I packed all of the things and ran over to their sleepover party that I heard about over their Snapchat. I was so excited. I could become popular! Then, everyone would like me.

BUZZ. I rung the doorbell and waited. I stamped my foot on the ground repetitively until Lauren opened the door with a smirk on her face. She was the leader of their group, so I had to get cool with her before anyone else.

“What do you want, nerd?” Lauren said coldly.

“I-I got you and your friends some gifts,” I trembled.

Lauren called her friends Isabella, Amy, Alexa, and Claire downstairs. They crowded around the doorway and stared at me, like they were judging my clothes and face. My heart pounded faster than ever before, especially when Amy snached the bag out of my hands.

“Let’s see. IPhones? Clothes? Shoes? We have all of these! Why do you think we would want these? Do you think we are poor or something? I’m disgusted! Get out of here! You are ugly and gross, and you will never be part of our group, EVER!” Amy roared.

She threw each of the phones on the ground, which made a heart-shattering noise, and she threw the clothes and shoes in the garbage can. All of the girls laughed and shooed me away. I ran as fast as I could back to my house. I could feel the hot tears streaming down my face as I ran. I just wanted to be happy. I didn’t need those mean girls. I could just be with my cat. When I got home I ran upstairs, grabbing my pencil and paper and calling my cat to my room. My cat cuddled with me as I drew my revenge. I drew the perfect thing that I knew would stay with them forever.

***

Confidently, I strutted back to their house with my revenge. I knew this was what they all deserved. I buzzed the doorbell then ran away. My revenge stood on the porch and waited. Lauren opened the door again with the same smirk on her face. I guess that’s just how she greeted people. How sad.

“Who the heck are you and what do you want?” Lauren said while cringing at their beauty.

“Well first of all, who do you think you are, talking to my girls and I like that? Like jeez, get a grip. And I want you to explain to me what are you wearing. Do you think that actually looks good? You got some bad taste.”

Lauren’s smirk got less intense and she called her group downstairs.

“Are you looking to start a fight?!” Lauren said while snapping her fingers in my popular girl’s leader creation.

Lauren and her friends stepped outside and onto her lawn while my group followed. I went more into the bush to hide myself.

My group glared with the evil eye at Laren’s group. The names of the people were Olivia (the leader), Emma, Caitlin, Maddie, and Amelia. Lauren walked up to Olivia and looked up to her. Lauren and all of her friends were very short compared to my girls.

“Oh my god. Look how short you and your friends are. You guys are like little toddlers. How weird,” Olivia sneered as she flipped her brown hair.

Lauren’s eyes got slightly wet, and her friends were just in shock.

“And by the way, you guys look like snotty pigs,” Olivia laughed.

Emma, Catlin, Maddie, and Amelia laughed. I cringed empathetically for Lauren and her friends when they ran back into the house. I came out of the bushes and thanked Olivia and her friends, but I knew that I had to get rid of them, so thankfully I had the “Eraser paper.” I swiped the eraser across my revenge, and they disappeared immediately. I sighed and walked home. On the way, I was thinking about all of the times that I had been bullied, and how I felt before when they were bullying me. Yes, I did feel good that they got a taste of their own medicine, but I had a pit in my stomach. I remembered what my mom always said to me, “Treat others the way you want to be treated!”

I felt like I had let myself down. I knew better. I thought about how I would feel if I was Lauren and her friends. I knew I would feel bad. When I got to my house, I went upstairs and sat on my bed with my new cat and made an oath to myself to go by what my mom had always said, ‘Treat others the way you want to be treated.’

Happy Day

He stood on the balcony of his huge castle wondering when the rain would come. King Cookie waited and waited, but nothing came. Olivia, the otter, noticed this and decided to cheer him up. Olivia was King Cookie’s best friend. She knew that he loved rain, but also adored dogs. He was not able to have a dog for his whole life until his wife died. His wife, Queen Cookie, was allergic to dogs, but of course when she died he was too sad to remember that he could now have a dog. Olivia rushed off the balcony that was surrounded by vines, and out of the castle. She took her carriage and off she went into the village.

Olivia had never been into the village for she lived with royalty. She decided to ask someone for directions to the pet store. “Excuse me, do you know where the pet store is?” she asked a little boy wearing a necklace with a raindrop on it.

“Go away you nasty beast,” he said.

“He isn’t a very nice child,” Olivia thought as she ran away. Soon she encountered an old lady carrying a bunch of bird cages, one yellow, one green, and one red bird. “She must know where the pet store is, after all she is carrying pets,” Olivia thought to herself. “Do you know where the pet store is?” Olivia asked.

”Walk down the street, turn left and there it is,” the old lady said.

”Thank you so very much,” said the otter, and scurried off down the street. When she arrived at the pet store she examined all the dogs. To her left was a huge brown dog with a collar that had spikes on it, this did not fit the King. On her right was a tiny puppy Golden Retriever, the King could not handle puppies, they would pee everywhere. Everything she said was either, ‘too small,’ ‘too fat,’ or ‘too weird.’ Suddenly she came across a medium sized black dog named Gracie. She bought a leash, a collar, and the dog. Olivia got back in her carriage,and drove back to the huge brick castle. The otter went to the balcony where King Cookie stood. “I have a gift for you,” said Olivia.

“Is it the rain that shall never arrive?” announced King Cookie dramatically.

“I am very sorry to disappoint you but no, it is a dog,” said Olivia quite disappointed.

“A dog!” exclaimed King Cookie. As soon as King Cookie had a chance to turn around and pet the dog he fell in love with it.

“Her name is Gracie,” said the otter. Soon King Cookie ran to the throne room and played with Gracie.

At dinner King Cookie was happy but Olivia could still tell that he was sad about something. “What’s wrong?” asked Olivia.

“The rain has not come in 10 days,” said King Cookie. The rain came every day in Cookielandia, but not since waterkeeper John left, his grandson Charles has been doing his job until he returns. “Tomorrow morning I shall return to town and ask Charles what is happening,” announced the King.

“But you have never been to town, what if someone kidnaps you, what will you do then,” Olivia said, now worried.

“I expect that my servants will save me,” said King Cookie.

“The servants are on their holiday,” said the otter.

“Well then you will save me,” said King Cookie proudly.

“What if I don’t want to,” said Olivia.

“You will have to,” said King Cookie, with his nose up to Olivia’s face.

King Cookie was walking down the road, when suddenly he felt something on his back.

”What is on my back!” He demanded to know from Charles.

”I don’t know,” said Charles. “Waterkeeper John is back, I am not in charge of the rain anymore,” explained Charles.

“Are you saying this is rain,” said King Cookie, suddenly happy. “YAY!!!” He squealed happily. Now that the King was happy, he needed to make everyone else happy too. First he would help his best friend, Olivia. He ran back to the castle in joy. “I am sorry for shouting at you, Olivia,” said King Cookie. “I know what you are saying but I do not believe you,”Olivia said and ran back to her bedroom,where she was planning what to say to the King.

When she came back she said this, “My friend, A.K.A. the King would never apologize, so to prove that you are really King Cookie I want you to take this test,” and she handed him a test. The test was a multiple choice test. These were a few of the questions: what is my favorite dessert? a.) cake b.) ice cream c.) brownies or how many shoes do I own a.) 100 b.) 2000 c.) 1, and many more questions. When King Cookie had finished his test, he handed it to Olivia, and Olivia had finished correcting the test. Olivia realized that ‘King Cookie’ was really King Cookie.

”I am sorry for thinking that you were not the real King,” said Olivia apologetically.

”I forgive you,” said King Cookie. Now King Cookie AND Olivia were happy. They decided that they would go see the waterkeeper. They had a cup of tea and had a little chit-chat. ”You’re grandson is an awful waterkeeper,” said King Cookie.

”King Cookie, that is not how you talk to waterkeeper John!” whispered Olivia to the King. ”Oh it’s alright,” waterkeeper John said, “he is an awful waterkeeper, “he continued, and they all laughed their heads off, (not literally!) That day was September 4th,and so from now on September 4th is Happy Day!

THE END          

The Journey

I can’t sleep. I have been tossing and turning for hours, and it’s impossible for me to drift off. Since it’s almost midnight and my parents are asleep, I might as well go outside and take a walk in the backyard.

I lit my lamp and tiptoe downstairs to the yard. The stars are very pretty tonight. It feels like true nighttime, and I can see all of the lightning bugs and stars that provide light. I can feel the cold night air and the cold wood under my feet. I sit on the back porch swing and admire the crescent moon that always helps me fall asleep. I start swinging back and forth, and, somehow, the natural world helps me drift off to sleep.

  When I wake up, a man dressed in all black with a scarf around his face is sneaking  through the yard. I woke up as he stepped on the creaky step leading to the porch. He definitely wasn’t expecting that, because what he did was so loud my parents and grandmother woke up. He picks me up and takes me off the porch swing and holds me with a deadly grip as he is running through the yard and out to his large truck and throws me in the back and locks the doors. I look out the window, and I see my parents running as fast as their legs can carry them to try and rescue me from the truck. I pound on the doors trying to let them know where I am so they can rescue me from this man.

When they don’t come to me I yell “Mom, Dad, I’m locked in the back of the truck!” But when I look out the window, I see them get dragged back to the house by a person that came with them, and they must not have seen me through the windows. Before I can react, we drive away at full speed. I am devastated.

I curl up into a ball in the corner and cry. I can’t believe what is happening. I am getting kidnapped. I wish I hadn’t gone outside and had stayed in my bedroom and looked at the nature from the window. I wish I had been able to fall asleep tonight and not have tried to do this. I could have just tried reading my book for longer, but I had to go outside.

After what seems like a million hours the truck finally stops. I pop up and bang on the door and plead for someone to let me out, but when I look out the window I realize that we are parked in a dumpster, and no one is there except the people who kidnapped me. They would never let me out. But then, someone opens the lock! I push open the doors and sprint through the garbage with the man hot on my tracks and right when I am about to escape he grabs me.

I scream so loud he cups his calloused hand over my mouth. He ties me up with a rope and drags me back to the truck and props me up on the back wheel.

“Listen, I am going to tell you why I kidnapped you.” He said this like he desperately wants me to be quiet. “We need you on a mission to save the world, and this is the only way we can recruit you,” he said.

“Why couldn’t you just call me?”

“Because your parents can’t know about it. Parents always say ‘No,’ to it so we have to take you. I can’t say any more until we get to headquarters, so let’s hurry up.”

I was glad to know the truth, and I think it is so cool that I can save the world, so I didn’t argue. But, I do want proof. “Where is your badge?” I ask him. He leans towards me and inside a pocket in his shirt there was a gold badge with advanced in blue letters. Now, I believe him.

“Follow me,” he said as he motions for me to come with him. He led me to a couple of chairs in the middle of the dumpster and tells me to sit on one. He sits on the other, gets out a remote control, presses a button, and we take off.

When we land, we are outside an ugly shack surrounded by an old picket fence with a fat old man that is bald and has hazel eyes. How is this headquarters? I thought.

“Password?” the guy says in a deep voice that sounds like sandpaper.

“Black,” he responds. All of a sudden, the dumpster morphs into a valley, and the ugly shack and picket fence morph into a fancy building with a golden gate with spikes on top. The man that kidnapped me enters a combination, and when the gates open, he leads me down a pathway and enters another combination to get into the building. What I see next is awesome.

It is a huge space where people with badges are constantly coming and going, testing fancy gadgets, and using computers. It is all so cool. The guy takes me to the front desk where a lady with her auburn hair in a perfect bun is sitting.

“Who is this?” she demands to know.

“This is Sophie,” he told her.

“Okay, let’s tell the organization she’s here.” She types something into her computer and a couple minutes later a lady in a suit with a retired badge came.

“Hi Sophie! I’m Cara, your retired agent mentor. Come with me,” she tells me.

She leads me to what I think is supposed to be an office space since there are chairs and a desk, and she tells me to sit in an armchair by a desk. She sits down in the other chair and starts talking to me.

“So, I am going to help you prepare for your mission and give you some information about it. An agency called, ‘Other Plans Agency’ is run by bad guys, and they’re trying to take over the world. Your job is to stop them.” She tells me.

“Why me?”

“Because we think you have the ability to stop them, unlike the agents who have tried previously. What you have to do is find their base and look for the cursor.”

“What’s the cursor?” I ask.

“It’s a small device that can destroy an agency, and it’s the only way to stop him,” she tells me.

“Okay, I think I can do it.”

“Great, let’s get you set up,” she says.

We walk down a hallway and go down an elevator, and when the doors open, we are in a huge room. It is full of shelves and shelves of gadgets, and it was so cool.

“Okay, you want to look for gadgets that you think will help you sneak around, and you can only chose four gadgets.” I walk around the room and look for cool gadgets. I choose a freeze gun that I can use to make people freeze, an invisibility ring to make me invisible, a bomb to cause a distraction, and sneaking shoes to sneak around. It was really cool.

“I picked out my gadgets,” I tell Cara.

“Okay, now I will show you your ship and give you your badge,” she responds.

I am super happy I get my own ship and badge!!! I think to myself with excitement.

We get on a moving sidewalk to what the agency calls the dock. It is an outdoor room with huge vehicles that look small to non-agents run by people in neon uniforms so you can see them when it is agent rush hour and so many people are coming and going. Cara shows her ID to a lady with straight chestnut hair that pours over her shoulders.

“Why do you need an ID?” I say after we pass the lady.

“Because we have very heavy security,” she responds.

“Oh I almost forgot you’re going to need an ID to get back in.” She pulls a card out of her back pocket and gives it to me. “This is your ID. Put it in a safe place on the ship, and don’t take it with you on the mission because it can easily get lost,” she tells me.

“Okay, which ship will I be in?” I ask Cara.

“Ship 197,” she tells me.

We walk down to the end of the dock to a huge yellow ship with the number 197 in black writing on the side. “This is your ship I am going to show you how it works but first I have to give you your badge” Cara says. She pulls another thing out of her back pocket but this time it was a gold star with beginner in navy blue writing. “You have to keep this in a safe place at all times and only wear it at the agency. This CAN’T get lost,” she tells me.

“Okay, can you show me the ship now?”

“Okay, but you need to use your ID to get into it.” I scan my ID on the scanner and the doors slip open. It’s really cool.

It is like a mini house it has a huge window in the front with a chair and tons of buttons,  it has a lot of food and water, there is a bathroom, and a safe, which is a perfect place for my ID and badge.

“Okay, I will teach you how everything works,” she says. “When you press the big red button in the middle, you say where you want to go in the microphone. All the other buttons have labels, and the safe combination is 1357. I think that’s all you need to know. Any questions?”

“Where am I supposed to go?” I ask.

“Oh I have a notebook of tips for you it has everything you need to know.” She gives it to me. “Good Luck on your mission, Sophie.” She walks out of the dock. I am on my own.

***

I open my book of tips and on the top of the first page, it says, “Tips on Finding the Enemy’s Base” in bold writing. The first tip is to look them up on the computer, but I don’t think I have a computer. Out of the corner of my eye, I spot a clear cabinet with a laptop inside. I pull it out and follow the directions very carefully. I go to a website that helps you apply for agencies called “agent.com” and search “Other Pans Agency.” Under the picture of the building, which is their base, it says that the address is only revealed if you want to create an appointment to learn more about applying to their agency. This is a setback. I didn’t know that agencies are so protective.

After thinking for a long time, I got a plan. I decide I will call the agency and pretend to want an appointment to learn about applying for the agency. At the meeting I will ask about the cursor and get them to reveal its location. After I leave, I will wait in the ship until everyone goes to bed and then I will sneak into the base, get the cursor, and be on my way.

I pick up an iPhone that was also in the cabinet and call 212-929-1646. The phone was ringing for a couple of minutes and then a someone finally answers. “Hi, this is Other Plans Agency. What is your purpose of calling today?” he says.

“Hi. I would like to schedule an appointment to learn more about applying to this agency,” I tell him.

“Good. What is your name, and what time do you want to come?” he asks.

“My name is Sophie Maud, and I would like to come tomorrow morning” I say.

“Great, you will be coming tomorrow at 9:45 a.m. with Mr. Alento,” he responds. “You will be coming to 000 Center valley.” He tells me before hanging up. I put the phone away and say, “I want to go to 000 Center Valley.” The ship takes off, and my mission officially starts.

The ship goes so fast I don’t even feel it moving. Suddenly I notice I am pretty hungry, so I make myself a ham and cheese sandwich, and, when I finish, the ship stops. The ship is outside a town of abandoned houses with a faded sign in the front that says “Center Lane.” I know this is a disguise for their base, because our base looked like a variation of it. The sun is just rising, and the clock says 5:30 a.m. Since I have 4 hours and 15 minutes before my appointment, I decide I will pass the time in my ship. I walk back into my ship, close the door, and look through the book of tips that will hopefully answer some of my non-urgent questions.

I figure out that along with the safe on the inside of the ship, there is one on the outside to put my ID in so that I can get it after the mission. I also figure out that along with food and water, the ship is also full of weapons. I spend the rest of the time watching TV (another thing I found out in the book), and then it is finally time for my appointment.

I grab my bag of gadgets that I also put a knife in, and, when I get back out of the ship, I figure out that the homeless guys who sit around were obviously security guards. I walk up to one of them and tell them that I am there for an appointment. The guards then reach into their pockets and pull out a red sticker that says visitor on it and escort me to a big building in the middle. They unlock the door with a gold key from one of their pockets, and I see an oak front desk in the middle of a courtyard surrounded by doors.

“Tell Clementine the person at the front desk why you’re here, and she’ll let you in.” One of the guards whispered and then they left.

Just looking at Clementine was scary, so I had no idea how I was going to get enough courage to talk to her. Her hair was done in a tight bun, her icy blue eyes stared at you like she wanted you dead, and her mouth was closed in a perfectly straight line.

“Um, um, I came here for a 9:45 a.m. appointment,” I managed to tell her. She looked through a huge binder that probably was a list of appointments, because on one of the pages it said Sophie Maud 9:45 a.m. with Mr. Alento.

“Okay Sophie, you may enter door A and take the elevator to the basement. Mr. Alento will be there waiting for you in room 101,” she says. I did as she asked, and she was right. Mr. Alento was there waiting for me.

Mr. Alento had dark black hair, brown eyes that were almost black, and a long mustache. He is sitting on a rolling chair behind a brown desk with a reading light and a huge pile of papers on it. He motions for me to sit on the chair in front of him, and when I sit down and put my bag on the floor, he starts talking. “Welcome Sophie. I heard you are interested in applying for other plans agency,” he tells me.

“Yes I scheduled this appointment to learn more about this agency.” I say.

“Well lucky for you I agreed to tell you some valuable information about our agency.” he responds, “This is the most unique agency you’ll ever find and it is very hard to get in,” he says. “We only trust the best of the best with our dangerous missions and valuable weapons.”

“Wow it must be very hard to get in” I thought. “I am very interested in weapons and gadgets,” I tell him. “What are some of those things this agency has to offer?” I ask.

“We have every gadget and weapon possible,” he says. I knew that wouldn’t get him to mention the cursor, so I had to think of another way.

After a long pause, I figure out what to say. “So what mission are you guys working on?” I ask him.

“We are currently working on trying to take over the world and only the cursor can stop us,” he says.

“Who has the the cursor, and where is it?” I ask, but I quickly regret what I said because I revealed that I was trying to get information.

“You’re busted!” Mr. Alento yelled.

I had to escape fast. I tore open my bag of gadgets to get my distraction bomb to make a distraction and make a run for it. Since Mr. Alento sounded the alarm, there was double the noise, which I thought would make it easier for me. But, it didn’t. Everyone came in this direction, and we would cross paths. I ran out of the room as fast as my legs could carry me and decided to take the stairs, but unfortunately Mr. Alento probably called for backup. I only got halfway up the stairs when I bumped into an army of security guards with strong muscles. Before I got a chance to react, they grabbed me by the arms. I wiggled and squirmed and did everything in my power to get out, but I couldn’t. I was caught.

The security guards took me back down to the basement and pushed the elevator button. When the elevator came, the security guards pressed the button marked “D,” which I think stands for “dungeon.” We were dropping down for a long time, which made me think I would never see the sun again. When we got out of the elevator, we were in a freezing, dark room with stone cells around a small table that was the only thing that provided light and on that table was the curser. The security guards dragged me over to a cell, attached metal chains to my ankles, and locked the cell behind them. Then, they were gone.

All the cell had was a cot and an egg crate to sit on. It is so upsetting to be imprisoned. Now, I need a whole new plan to get the cursor. Every day, someone comes to feed us scraps from the agents food for breakfast and dinner — that is how I kept track of the days. The person who fed me is named Gerry, and he is really nice. On my fourth day in prison, when Gerry came to feed me dinner, he said he would help me escape.

He said he is secretly a spy for our agency, and he wants me to take the cursor back to our agency so Other Plans Agency can’t destroy the world. His plan is to give me the keys then set off the alarm in the gadget room to cause a distraction. I would put on my sneaking shoes, grab the cursor, and sneak out. It was the perfect plan, and we were going to do it right now.

Gerry gave me the key and went up to the gadget room to set off the alarm. You can only hear it very faintly from here, but I could still hear it. I opened my cell, put on my sneaking shoes, grabbed the cursor, and ran. I ran so fast, I wasn’t aware of my surroundings. Luckily, I got out of the agency without getting caught. I ran to my ship, got my ID out of the safe, and scanned it to get into the ship. I was finally safe.

Then, I heard a knock on the door. I looked out the window to see who it was, and it was Gerry! I opened the door and let him in.

“Go to the agency now they are hot on our heels!” he says urgently. I press the red button say that I want to go to the agency, and we are on our way.

“Thanks for helping me escape,” I say to Gerry.

“You are welcome,” he says. “I would do anything to get the cursor back to our agency.”

When we get there, I show a man in a neon yellow uniform my ID, and he opens the gates for us. When we get in, Cara is there waiting for us.

“Did you guys get the cursor?” she asked us. I get it out of my bag and show it to her. She gasps. “I knew you could do it!” she says. “Would you like to destroy their agency?” she asks me.

“Sure,” I say.

I turn on the cursor and speak into it, “Destroy Other Plans Agency.”

The screen responds, “Destroying…” for a while and then it says, “Complete. Other Plans Agency is destroyed!”

Now, I can go back home.

The Alien Invasion

 

Once, there were two rivals. The humans’ world was facing aliens from space. Aliens were setting a plan to launch a missile, followed by an attack. The humans knew because their antenna saw it in outer space. It meant the world could explode. The world’s military had to join forces to protect their world. The humans decided they had to defend and attack. They were going to make a nuclear bomb in case anything went wrong and make aircrafts able to travel through space and fight. They were sure that they would win. The humans would regret that later on when they were not able to figure out how to to build all of this stuff. It was almost impossible to make all of it.

Meanwhile at HQ, Mark James Owens, a soldier, was enjoying a nice sleep. He woke up to a strange noise and pulled out his knife and gun from his pocket and looked around. Something lunged at him and started thrashing at his arm. Mark smelled pee and knew it was an alien. He pushed the stupid thing that smelled like pee off him, nailed him down with his knife, pulled the trigger of his gun, and shot the thing in the head. It was a loud shot. Now, he realised what was going on. The aliens were attacking. He reported the news to Commander Johnson. He shouted into the main radio, “Aliens attacking main all stations.”

In three minutes, all stations and guns were ready. Everyone had their bravest faces on. Mark was at the main gun. In an instant, a giant spaceship came into the atmosphere.  It was a giant, black spaceship the size of the planet. Billions of ships exploded out of the big ship.They shot out lasers out of cannons. They could kill five men in one hit. Alien soldiers started running toward the base. They had laser guns ready to fire. They blasted their guns at the wall. The wall held, luckily.

While the aliens tried to destroy the wall, the humans took cover and aimed their guns at the wall. Then, at that second, a rocket smashed into the wall. When the dust cleared, there was a giant red hole in the wall. The soldiers shot at the alien soldiers, but the aliens fought back. Mark aimed the gun at the ship. He blasted the cannon at the ship, which blew up into a mushroom cloud. There was a hole in the ship. The men were dying from the impacts. They launched our aircrafts at the aliens. The rockets made a bit of damage.

After a while, the aircrafts turned around. The commander surrendered ending the first battle. The world was losing 0-1. Over 3,000 soldiers died at the first battle of the war. That’s when the humans realised that they were outnumbered. The aliens had better technology than the humans. They had to attack, which meant that the humans had to go to outer space. They launched their spaceship into space. When they saw the ship, behind it were five more ships.

Mark swerved to avoid the shots of cannons. In one minute, seventy spaceships were destroyed. Mark blasted a hole in one of the ships. His best friends, James and Lily, were behind him. Ships were exploding. Mark and his friends shot torpedoes and rockets at a ship. James dropped a bomb on one ship. There was a big gash in the ship.

The humans had only 75 ships left for the battle. A ton of ships were on fire.

“There, fire!” James’ ship was shot by a laser! He turned around and headed back for Earth. Lily and James turned around and headed for Earth. A few hours later, the whole fleet turned around and surrendered. The Earth had lost to space again.

The whole world was mad that they got crushed. Three months later, good news came: scientists had made a new missile strong enough to blow up Texas. Lily went out to space and fired the missile at the ship. It blew up in a towering fireball. The Army was happy.

They had a better chance of winning the war. They made a lot of missiles like that. They had to defend now. It had been two years since the aliens first attacked, but when the aliens attacked this time, the world was ready. They launched their aircrafts and started doing great. Lily blew a ship up with the new missile they made. After a while the aliens ran out of energy. The humans blew up all the ships except for the biggest one with the missiles. Mark blew up one with a bomb. The biggest one flew out to space. The humans were happy. All they had to do was destroy the ship. They were deciding who should drop the nuclear bomb.

When they decided, Mark was chosen. He flew the aircraft to outer space and dropped the bomb on the ship. It blew up into a giant explosion. Mark was overjoyed. He flew back to Earth. On Earth, the humans celebrated their stunning victory. Mark was a true hero. Now one would ever forget that day. The news headline was:

“Aliens Lose. Mark James Owens: Hero.”

Mark James Owens dropped bomb on last ship that belonged to the aliens. Already 20 interviews in 3 days, and fame is rising.                   

 

The End.

What Makes A Hero?

What makes a hero? A hero is someone who is influential, determined, and life-changing in a positive way for people. I think Christopher Columbus should be seen as a hero because he has all of those characteristics. Other people believe Christopher Columbus should not be seen as a hero but I think he should be thought of as one.

Columbus is influential because he found America. Many historians believe that he should not be considered a hero because he was supposed to find Asia but failed to do so. But, not finding Asia turned out to be a positive thing because he found America instead. People also say that Columbus was not the first person to find North America. Some people argue that the vikings were the first to find America. But, Christopher Columbus was the first person to build a settlement there and trade with the Americas, so he gets the credit. Actually, the Native Americans were the first people to settle there, but Columbus was the first person from another country to interact and trade with them. Even though the Native Americans were the first people to settle there, Columbus introduced the Americas to the rest of the world and influenced other explorers.

Many people also believe that he disturbed the lives of the Native Americans that were living there. Christopher Columbus and the Europeans brought diseases to the Americas that          the Natives didn’t have cures for, which caused many of the Natives to die. He also brought some Natives back to Europe to make them servants for the king and queen. Even though he did that and it was wrong, it does not take away from all the good things he accomplished.    

The second characteristic that a hero needs to have is determination. Christopher Columbus was determined because he wanted to find Asia no matter what happened. He wanted to find Asia because they had many silks and spices. He went to many different rulers until he found one to sponsor his voyage. First he asked the king of Portugal. The king said that he would not sponsor Columbus because he didn’t think it was possible for him to make it to Asia from there. But Columbus did not give up. He then went to Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, the king and queen of Spain. They said that they would help pay for the voyage as long as Columbus shared the wealth, and then Columbus was on his way.

Another place where he showed determination was on the ship. When other people on the ship were convincing him to go back to Europe because there was no land in sight, he didn’t listen to them and he eventually found land. Some people think that Christopher Columbus should not be seen as a hero regardless of how hard he worked because he failed to find Asia. I think that being determined is one of the most important characteristics to have because no matter what you accomplish you should never give up.   

The final characteristic of a hero is being life-changing in a positive way for people.  Christopher Columbus has that characteristic because he was life-changing to the Europeans.  He brought crops to Europe such as corn and potatoes which were healthier crops that changed the diet of many Europeans. He brought back tomatoes, avocados, turkeys, and pineapples to show the queen and king. They were amazed at what he had found, so the country started trading with the Americas. He also changed the life of the people in America by bringing new items to them. He is put down for bringing diseases to the Americas that the Natives died from, but he also brought horses which changed people’s lives and had never been seen in the Americas before.

The things that Columbus did wrong should be acknowledged too because he did make mistakes, but they are not as important as the good things he did. Regardless, he was influential, determined, and life-changing. Those are the characteristics that make a perfect hero. Although Christopher Columbus was not perfect, he had all the characteristics of a hero, so he deserves to be called one.

Boing and the Evil Noodles

Once upon a time there was a panda. The panda’s name was Boing. Boing’s life was almost perfect. There was only one thing Boing wanted… NOODLES! He really wanted noodles. Boing had only eaten noodles once in his life. And he had loved them. But, he was allergic to the chili peppers Mr. Smigs put in his noodles. His tongue started burning whenever he ate any. There was only one noodle shop in the tiny panda village called Panda Town and Mr. Smigs was the owner. But, Mr. Smigs only knew how to make noodles with chilli peppers.

Three years later it was Boing’s birthday. His parents gave him noodles! He said, “Oh wow! Noodles!” Boing decided he would save the noodles for later. He wanted them to last as long as possible.

That night Boing was lying in bed and he tasted a noodle. It was very spicy. He said to himself, “I wish these noodles were less spicy.”

Suddenly, a mysterious voice coming from the noodles said, “If you want me less spicy you will have to do it yourself.” Boing was too scared to respond. “Well?”

Boing said, “How do I do that?”

“Figure it out!”

“O-okay,” Boing said as he shook with fear. “Never mind. You are perfect,” said Boing.

The next morning Boing said “Good morning, noodles!”

The noodles said, “What’s so good about the morning? You get woken up from your beauty sleep!”

Then Boing finished the noodles. Guess what he saw? Boing saw a genie bottle with devil horns! Boing went outside. He rubbed the bottle and a genie devil came out! The genie devil lunged at Boing and he was scared! Right at that moment, Boing became a tiny ball, the size of a beach ball, and tripped the genie devil. Then Boing became aware he had powers. SUPER powers! He realized that his emotions controlled his powers. Whenever he got scared, he could turn into the size of a beach ball. He was very happy.

Suddenly, a gleaming ball of light fell into his hands. It was pure happiness. Boing threw the happiness at the genie devil! The happiness burned the genie devil. The genie devil tried to cast a spell but Boing duct taped the genie devil’s mouth shut. Then Boing realized he loved using his powers. Little heart bullets shot out of his mouth! They all hit the genie devil!

Boing could control when his powers happened. When he was happy or any of the other  emotions the power for that would be most powerful, but even when he was feeling sad, Boing still could be able to bring the sun down or turn into a little ball but it wouldn’t be as powerful.

Then, Boing’s sister Ellie came out and said “Boing, what are you doing?”

“Uhh, nothing.” said Boing.

“Hmmm,” said Ellie.

“Okay.” Ellie said, and went away.

In the meantime, the genie devil had gotten the tape off his mouth and said, “Okay, okay. You win. Take me to jail,” said the genie devil because he thought anything would be better than having to be in this backyard anymore because he doesn’t want to have Boing hurt him again.

“Sure! I’ll take you to jail,” said Boing.

He called the police and said he had found an evil genie devil. He sent him to genie jail.

Boing thought that since he had just taken a genie devil to jail, he had to be on the good side. “I guess I’ll be a superhero then, if I’m on the good side.”

And then when the police got the genie devil, they said, “Boing! You caught the most wanted genie devil that has not been seen for a million years!”

“What’s this genie’s name?” asked Boing.

“Dino.”

“We will give you any prize you want,” said the police officer.

“I would like NOODLES!”

THE END

Unknown Worlds

Part I. Snake Attack.

Far away near The Amazon, a scientist was testing an external growth serum on creatures when something went horribly wrong. The creature expanded to fifty feet and dragged him into the depths of the swamp. Gradually, the water turned red, with screams echoing off the branches.

***

Twenty years later, a 15-year-old boy named Henry took a trip to The Amazon. He had brown hair and a mischievous grin. He wore blue jeans and a leather jacket. He was 5’10”.  He was getting prepared with all the gear and medications in a small Brazilian town when news reached about an enigmatic creature let into the swamp, quickly dragging people into the mud, and the people were mysteriously never seen again. He didn’t tell his parents because he knew he would be forbidden to go after they heard that. He had wanted to go since he was five and he was not wasting his chance to go to the Amazon.

After he was done packing up, he got into his Jeep and they calmly drove over to The Amazon. After two hours passed, they finally reached their destination, a bubbling swamp with croaks echoing and a slithering noise from the branches.

The guide said, “Maybe we should move to another area.”

Henry responded saying, “No. This area’s perfect.”

The guide said, “Sorry. I’m just a little creeped out by snakes.”

Henry thought, There’s something worse up here than snakes. Henry lazily trailed off with the crunches of leaves falling behind him. Henry thought, Wow! This place is beautiful, when he heard something by the swamp. He turned around to look, but nothing was there. He kept on walking and he felt like someone, or something, was watching him.

Henry slowly kept wandering into the forest, losing himself, hearing something calling to him. He kept following the voice, directing him towards an unknown destination. “Come to me, follow the path,” he heard a voice hissing. Gradually, he saw bones of animals devoured by the creature. He saw crocodiles fleeing from the forest. As if in a trance, he ignored all that he saw, and the voice was hissing, and the hisses became clearer. “Come to me to save your family,” it whispered. Quickly it heated up, and he saw more bones littering the floor, and he snapped out of the trance, unaware of what he’d been doing.

And then, slowly, a creature revealed itself from the trees. It was gigantic, a humongous snake with fangs, seven inches long, poison dripping from the teeth. It reared itself into a formation to strike and jutted forward, missing by an inch. It rapidly struck, quickly maneuvering to get a clear shot. And then he remembered, in the article it said it was part-wolf and part-human, so he thought, If I kill that thing, the other snakes will kill me. So he kept dodging and maneuvering to avoid the strikes from the monster. He thought of a plan, and darted behind a tree.

He kept going around the tree while the snake coiled onto it and followed him. He kept continuing the process until the tree cracked and lost its balance, then crashed down on top of the snake. The snake was struggling under the weight of the tree. He went to follow the path, but there wasn’t any, so he followed the first steps he took, and continued in that direction for half an hour.

After he reached his destination, he saw that the Jeep wasn’t there and he saw car tracks rolling into the town. He was trapped in the jungle. Seven years ago, I thought the jungle would be fun, not like this, he thought. He was wandering around trying to find an exit, and then he remembered the snakes. They were slowly coiling up on his feet, dragging him into the swamp. And then he heard his parents calling to him, “Come follow the tracks, you’ll find us at the end of the trail.”

He shook the snakes off and followed the trail for hours and hours. He saw his parents, but they were dead. He started sobbing and thought, It should have been me. They were right near the shore, getting washed up into the bank. He felt a sudden urge to attack that monster and destroy it. He kept following the trail.

On the way he found a small branch and a large rock. He sharpened the ridge of the branch into a sharp blade, and then continued on to find the snake and kill it. But by the time he reached it, he saw a horde of black mambas, cobras, and king snakes. Behind it was the giant cobra. It was staring down at Henry with a giant black hood and red fiery eyes. It formed itself, ready for a strike. It shot forward, striking a tree, and got its fang stuck. When it pulled back, the fang got ripped out of its mouth, and it hissed in agony. It hissed in a foreign language, demanding all the other snakes to attack. And then, Henry hurled his giant stick into the giant cobra’s heart. It toppled over and crushed all of the smaller snakes.

And then, his parents came out from the bushes and said, “You passed the test.”

Henry gasped and said “What the heck? Is this another April Fools’ prank? Because it is the first of April,” he said as he eyed them suspiciously.

He figured out that the snake was an animatronic being, and the coding was to command all the smaller snakes. He also figured out that the story with the scientist and the growth serum was just a rumour they spread after they let the animatronic snake into the jungle. And then his parents said, “You are now ready to take a trip to the other planet called Earth.”

Part II. Trip to Earth.

Henry was really scared. He was going to a new planet, unknown by everyone. It was in a different galaxy, many light years away. But surprisingly, they got there in only weeks. It was very different from his home planet. So moist, so many different creatures and plants. Henry was awed by all that he saw on the new planet. And his parents explained that there were different parts of the planet called continents. They also explained that they might settle on this planet depending on whether their investigation went well. They also told him that they went on a top secret mission when he was younger, onto a different planet that was the home planet he had lived on when Henry was very little. So they were coming back to Earth to settle there again. They had tested him before to see if he had the courage to learn the truth. They told him there were sudden eruptions from a certain volcano that were caused by monsters battling each other and that the eruptions were caused by monsters underneath the crater. They were going to a place called Hawaii to investigate the eruptions and the battles. There were many mountains that spewed molten rock out of craters. They were going inside of one volcano to explore the infrastructure.

It took a few days and hours to get to Hawaii from the United States. By the time they got there, they were trudging up a giant volcano, one near the middle of the island. It was 17,000 feet tall, and it was active during the week. A few days ago, it burned down half of Hawaii. They went to see what caused all this destruction from one of the volcanoes, but many others were burned down by the explosion. There were many different creatures that tried to slow them down. Snakes and lizards kept trying to bite their legs. Henry got bitten once and his leg started aching as he limped up the mountain. By the time they got near the crater, he saw lava bubble beneath him, and it started heating up. He was sweating like mad. And then they attached a rope to the edge of the crater and climbed down.

By the time he got inside lava started spewing up to the height he was at. Henry almost fell off the edge. As he kept trudging around, part of the rope touched the lava and started burning up, incinerating quickly. Henry started to freak out. He thought he was trapped inside again. He stared open mouthed as his parents walked across the edge and got lowered by another rope down to ground floor. The lava bubbled up, and something emerged from it. It was a hideous black form with giant claws. It reminded him of a manticore. It struck its scorpion tail right where Henry was. He asked his parents if this was another test, but it wasn’t. Slowly, a few more rose from the lava. They all struck, and clawed where his parents were. A few more things emerged from the lava. But they weren’t manticores. It was a giant being with a sickle. It swiped above all of their heads, missing by an inch. Then, something larger than all of them emerged. It was a hideous beast, 200 feet long, roaring as it destroyed everything in its path, causing an eruption, destroying a bit of Hawaii.

Henry took a giant piece of molten rock and hurled it straight at the beast. It hit him and scratched him. It roared in pain, but it managed to pick it up and throw it back at Henry. He quickly did a forward roll and the molten rock crashed right where he was. His parents found an odd piece of molten rock shaped like a sword. They hit it against the wall of the volcano, and realized it was a sword. They tossed it to Henry, and he swiped at one of the legs of the beast. It crashed on its knee and hit Henry and caused him to fly backwards and lose consciousness. He saw a fogginess of his parents fighting off the beast, and then lost consciousness.

By the time he regained consciousness, he saw the beast hitting the wall, causing a rockslide. The beast was strong, but idiotic. It hit so hard that a giant piece of rock fell on it and almost crushed it. He picked it up and hurled it over the volcano. Henry thought, Oh god, as the monster picked up some rocks and hurled them at him. He thought that would be his last moment. But then a gorilla with snakes for limbs quickly crashed through the wall of the volcano and knocked the giant beast against the wall.

As Henry starred, the giant gorilla pummeled the huge monster. Henry thought about ways he could use this to his advantage. He found the rope that his parents used to escape while he was unconscious and gradually pulled himself up. By the time the gorilla destroyed the giant beast, Henry was lazily pulling up to get to the crater. When the giant gorilla noticed this, he hit right where Henry’s rope ended, and by the time Henry got to the top they deliberately hurried down, and the giant gorilla hit the inside of the volcano once more, causing a rockslide that destroyed the volcano and everything inside. You could hear the roars of the giant gorilla when it was getting crushed by rocks. By the time they got to their ship, they took off and Henry thought, Some adventure, while they were rocketing back to home.

The End.  

Animals Running Away

There is a donkey called Dunkypunky. His owner, Bob, doesn’t know that Dunkypunky and the other animals can talk.

So, one day Dunkypunky was planning to go on a boat with the chickens and the cow. “The owner doesn’t even give us food so let’s make a plan to escape on a boat,” said Dunkypunky.

“Okay, let’s make a plan and tell the chickens if they want to escape too,” said the cow.

“Do you guys want to escape and get food to eat because our owner doesn’t give us food?,” said Dunkypunky to the chickens.

“But first we have to make a plan,” said the chickens.

They were planning how to get out of the farm. The owner is mean and doesn’t give them food and gives them old hay that is like a month old. The owner doesn’t like them so he doesn’t take care of them. Since he’s always in his house reading, they can open the door of the farm and lock the door of the house so he can’t get out.

They ran to the bay and got on a boat without the owner. But they were kind of in trouble because they didn’t have the keys to make the engine start. But since the donkey was so smart, the donkey was looking at all the buttons and found the one that said start. He put his hoof on it and it started. Five chickens were on one side of the wheel and five chickens were on the other side. When Dunkypunky wanted to go to the left, the five chickens went to the left and when Dunkypunky wanted to go right the other five chickens moved to the right.

The owner of the boat came out of his house, which was right in front. He didn’t see his boat, and instead he went on a motor boat that goes very fast. He saw the chickens and the donkey and the cow on his boat. So he called 911 and the police were in the water surrounding them.

Since the boat they were in was hard to stop they crashed into the police boat and kept going and the police boat sank. They were going deep into the ocean where there were sharks and they met with a great white shark but he was good. “I will lead lead the way to Greece,” said the shark. He led the way for them to get out of Croatia.

One day they got to Greece and they got out of the boat and they saw a cruise that was about to go. They jumped on without anybody seeing and they found an empty room in the basement and they stayed there. Five days later, the cruise went to Spain and they went to bullfight. The bull was their friend. He said, “If they kill me, I will not see you. If I don’t I will still not see you.”

Luckily, the bull didn’t get killed and they saved his life since he was such a good bull. In bull fights when the bull is very good they let them go in the wild. The bull went to the forest and got lost from the animals. Then the animals went to the airport. From Spain they took a plane to New York City. They got out and the owner of the farm was there in New York in the airplane. When they was getting their bags he turned around and saw the animals. When the animals were running out of the airport, they took a taxi to Brooklyn. The owner of the farm’s friend who didn’t know they were the farm’s animals kept them as pets. But they didn’t know that the farmer was going there.

The farmer went and said, “You have a chicken, a cow, and a donkey for pets.” An hour later he noticed that they were his animals and the animals jumped out the window. And the owner started to chase them.

When they were running in the street, they saw a homeless dog and said, “Do you want to help us run away from our owner?”

The dog said, “Yes.”

So they went to the pet store to rob the food from the pet store and the alarm went off. So the police in the pet store were chasing the animals and the animals didn’t know what to do. Police were surrounding them so the police trapped them and put them into a cage and took them to the pet orphanage. But then since the donkey was so smart he asked the cow to kick the door open and the cow did kick the door open. But then the police saw them and they were surrounded. The chickens went to the police and crashed into them. The police fell. The dog bit their hands and they ran out. They went to the same airport and met a new friend that was a cat was on a leash so the cat bit the leash off and robbed the tickets off her owner. There were enough for the ten chickens, the one dog, the cow, and the donkey, and for the cat. And then the plane they had business class tickets and then the TV they were watching the news. They were on there. So they saw that and it was very dangerous because in every single place in the world there were police looking for them except in Antarctica.

So their plane took them to Africa and they took a train to South Africa and from South Africa took a plane to Antarctica. In Antarctica they met another friend that was a polar bear. That polar bear pretend he was good but he was actually a police polar bear. He said, “Come, I’ll take you to where my friends are.” In the water they were on the polar bear’s back and the polar bear took them to South Africa. In South Africa there were police that trapped them and put them in the jail where El Chapo was. El Chapo was a new friend for them, so they helped El Chapo go out, and El Chapo helped them to go so they were a new team.

When they got out the police, were looking at their cage and the police saw they were not there. They saw a little hole that was tunnel and there was a car in that hole. They took that car all the way to Egypt and from Egypt they took a plane all the way to England and then England they went to the London Tower.

And they got the queen’s crown and then the alarm went on and the police chased them everywhere so they went to the airport and they went to New York in New York. They went to the NASA but they had to pass security, so the chickens bit the police and Dunkypunky kicked the police and got the biggest space shuttle and took them to a planet that doesn’t exist and that was called Zombie Prigg and they made zombies that were eating people’s brains.

They were in trouble because the queen zombie didn’t like human brains but they liked animal brains so the zombie started chasing them. So the space shuttle went to another planet called Jupiter and there they were safe. Before leaving they took the queen’s crown. They said goodbye to El Chapo and El Chapo stayed there. They went to Mars and there they started to build a base that nobody knows about right in the middle. Nobody saw it. It was invisible, and only they could see it.

They went to Earth with the space shuttle and then they bought an alarm and a lot of metal. So they went back to Mars with the space shuttle and they put an alarm and they made a force field made out of metal. So they got the queen zombie and contacted her by blue tooth and said, “If you protect our space we will give you our brains.” But then they went to planet Jupiter and told El Chapo, “Come and look what we made for us.”

They went back in the space shuttle and they showed him the base and since it was invisible, they pressed the button that made it visible. He saw it was like a castle.

The animals said, “We can work together to make the police stop chasing us. We could give you the queen’s crown and you could live in this place.”

They went back to planet Earth and the animals made a deal with their owner, “If you treat us nicely and give us food, we will stop running away from you.”

The owner said, “Okay,” then gave them food.

They had a lot of food and in the space shuttle they put all the food. When it was nighttime they went back to Mars and gave them the queen’s crown. El Chapo was living in their base.

And El Chapo said, “The animals are dead. Tell the police to stop wasting their time chasing them.” But they actually went back to Zombie Prigg with the queen zombie and they were the most important animals there because they gave the queen other animals so the queen could eat those brains. So they had a gigantic base like a castle made out of gold and diamonds.

“And if they help the queen to make another planet like a storage for brains,” the queen said, “We will let you live in our castle.”

They helped her to make the storage planet and it was bigger than the sun. But there was still one brain that couldn’t fit but since there was no gravity it just stayed there floating and the next day the queen ate it for breakfast. Then that day at night, NASA sent a space shuttle to discover this new planet called Zombie Prigg and they brought two police and saw the animals weren’t dead. So the police started chasing again. Then the animals went on the space shuttle that NASA brought to Mars and they said to El Chapo, “Can we stay in your base till the police go out of Zombie Prigg?”

He said no because he already saved them once. The spaceship that the animals robbed from NASA. NASA people and the police went on another NASA space shuttle to Mars and saw the animals and put them to work for the president, Donald Trump. Since he treated them so bad like their own older, they called El Chapo to say, “Can you help us take his brain out and give it to the queen of Zombie Prigg?” And he did help them.

They didn’t have a space shuttle to go to Zombie Prigg with his brain so they built their own space shuttle that could only work for five months and then it runs out of battery. But Zombie Prigg was five months and a day away so they asked El Chapo if he could rob them five tons of gasoline, and he did so they could get to Zombie Prigg. So they got on their space shuttle and went to Zombie Prigg and gave Donald Trump’s brain to the queen zombie and she ate it!

Since Donald Trump didn’t have a brain, he turned into a zombie, so Hillary Clinton became the new president. Since she was so powerful she conquered the whole world and she gave ten thousand billions of dollars to the animals and with that, they paid the police to stop chasing them.

Then the animals told the owner, “if you treat us nicely, we will really stop running away from you.”

“Can you guys talk?” said the owner.

“Yes we can talk,” said the animals.

“Okay but I’m sorry I didn’t give you food because I didn’t have enough money to give you food. But now the police gave me five hundred billion dollars so now I can feed you,” said the owner.

The owner did give them food and they lived with the owner in the farm. Now the owner  let them be free in the backyard and they had a lot of food and lived and had parties every day with piñatas.

“Hey, I can break the piñata with my feet, look!” said Dunkypunky.

Kaboommm!!!

“Hey, I can get the candy,” said the cow.

Then the chickens said, “I can pin the tail on the on the donkey.” They got it. They did pin the tail on the donkey.

“The reason we are celebrating is because we are back home,” said Dunkypunky.

Marigold and Luki-luki

Once, a princess named Marigold ran into a forest. This was a B-I-G mistake because Luki-luki the Dragon lived there. The dragon came out of his cave once a week and the day that he came out was the day that Marigold ran into the forest. Marigold was picking flowers right outside the dragon’s cave when he came out. The first thing Luki-luki saw was a small 16-year-old girl with a dress on. A pink dress on. Her glass heels looked like the most uncomfortable thing he had ever seen.

“What’s with those weird shoes?” asked Luki-luki.

“My mom says I should be daintier,” said Marigold without turning around, “because I’m almost seventeen.” Finally, she looked up from her flowers. “What are you?” Marigold screamed after she turned around. The flowers dropped from her hand.

Luki-luki said,“Drag-on I ham.”

“I don’t like dragons,” Marigold said, her voice quavering.

“Shhh,” said Luki-luki.

But Marigold ran away instead of answering. She ran all the way out of the forest and back to her castle, just over a bridge. She told the guards to get their swords ready because there was a dragon chasing her!! The guards did as they were told. When Luki-luki came, they saw him: 13 feet tall, green-scaled, and slimy. They were disgusted.

“Ew!!” one guard said.

“I didn’t come for this,” another said.

“Uhhh, guys?” the last said. “Where’d he go? ” Luki-luki was flying right over there heads.

“Poop alert!!” the last guard said as a round purple-spotted and blue squishy thing fell on their heads.

“Ewww!!!” the guards said… but Luki-luki was already gone.

“We must warn the princess.”

Meanwhile, in the hall…

“I told you, Mom, I dropped them,” Marigold said. “I did pick them!”

“Sweetie,” the queen said, “did Cinderella drop her flowers?”

The queen was C-R-A-Z-Y about flowers. Her dresses were either made out of flowers (which she actually despised) or had flowers on them.

“Cinderella didn’t even pick flowers!!”

“How do you know?”

“Because she’s my best friend!”

“Has she ever been in a garden?”

“No. And besides, I see you drop your flowers all the time!!”

“GO TO YOUR ROOM!!!” the queen yelled. As she did, the castle walls echoed and Marigold’s eyes started watering. Not because of the queen’s words, but because of the loudness. As the princess walked up to her room, she saw her mom walking daintily but sophisticatedly away.

Luki-luki was flying over the castle looking for Marigold. He was so lonely in his cave and he missed his friend, Luna. But Luna had moved far, far away. Luna was another dragon, who happened to hate where she lived.

Luki-luki and Luna had thought they would marry each other. Apparently, they were wrong. Luki-luki shook his head. He needed to focus on his plan.

  1. Get into castle (He really was sorry about the ‘poop’ incident. He just hadn’t done Number Two in a while.) Check.
  2. Find Marigold.
  3. Give back flowers.
  4. Convince.
  5. Have friend.

“Find princess,” Luki-luki whispered to himself.

There were ten floors and ten rooms on each floor. Luki-luki decided to look on the highest room on the highest floor. He found the Marigold sitting on a bed. He decided to go through the window.

CRACK!!!

Marigold  jumped, surprised, and turned around.

“You’re the dragon I saw earlier, aren’t you?” Marigold said.

“Drag-on I ham. I ‘ave flours,” (I have flowers) Luki-luki said while holding the flowers.

“Sorry I ran away earlier, I-I guess I just got scared.”

“Thank you,” Marigold said, “but I don’t need — ”

Knock, knock.

“Sweetie?”

“That’s my mom!” Marigold hissed. “Quick, hide.”

As you might think, how will a 13 foot dragon hide in a princess’s room? Well, he can’t. Luki-luki was sad to go, for he’d only gotten to step three, but it would have to do. He didn’t want to turn into a dragon burrito, like his parents had. They had written him a letter saying,       

We didn’t want to go, but we had to. Shelia and I, we left Luki-luki to live on his own. During our time, humans were our worst enemies, especially in daylight.

Boka-boka had turned burrito first, right in front of my eyes. The humans were all chanting, “Wrap, wrap, dip em’ in sour cream, 18 feet tall, scared of everything!”

We left you right outside a beautiful cave. Our taste of beautiful is dark, and murky, and buggy – everything a growing dragon needs. Well, almost – we had everything but a friend. We are sorry, Luki-luki. Really sorry.

Meanwhile, back at the castle…

“Honey,” the queen said as she came in, “I’m sorry about earlier.” Then, she saw the flowers. “You got me more flowers?”

“Uhh — yeah?”

FLAP, FLAP.

“Wait a second,” the queen said. “What’s that? And why’s your window broken?” The queen went over to Marigold’s window. “Is that a dragon?”

“Uh, yeah?”

“I am so —” she gasped, “jealous!!!”  

“Anna eyde?” (Wanna ride?) Luki-luki asked.

“Sure!”

Marigold, the queen, and Luki-luki lived happily ever after.

The Finals

Ding ding ding!!! I switched off my alarm clock, but then five minutes later, DING DING DING!!! Fine, I gave in, I rolled out of bed fell on the wooden floor of my tiny room. I got up and changed. I ate a banana and chose my shoes; soccer is all about shoes. I ran at top speed to the field my team was playing at. I took my hand and wiped the sweat off my forehead as the sun beat down on me. I drained down a bottle of water and joined my teammates in warming up.

“Bring it in, Bring it in,” yelled coach.

He gave us our positions.

“And Johnny” he said to me, “you’re striker.”

I nodded my head. The ref took the captains and did the coin toss. We got ball first!!! I took my position and waited for the ref to signal. I looked up, the stadium was huge, bright blue, and newly polished. l saw my family there, they were in the fifth row by midfield, perfect seats.  Once he blew the whistle. I rolled the ball so smoothly across to my teammate for the kick off. The ball glided across the grass as it slowly made its way to its destination. The ball reached my teammate, he passed it back to our midfielders so they wouldn’t steal the ball right away, a typical way of starting off a game. After that I pushed up to grab the space of the upper half of the field. The ball was sent to my feet. Once I had the ball it felt magical weaving past the defenders. I took a powerful shot at goal, but the goalie stretched out as far as he could and made a diving save. As soon as he got his hand on the ball I knew he was as great goalie. But luckily, the spin on the ball made it roll the other way out of bounds on them, it was a corner. Our right defender got the ball and got set for a corner. He put his hand up signaling that he was about to take it. The ball came soaring through the air right to me! I bumped the ball into the back of the net using my head. The crowd erupted, everyone was screaming, our team started celebrating, there was nothing better than being up early.

Beeep Beeep Beeep!! It was halftime, and we were up 1-0. We got water and went into a huddle with our coach.

“You guys have played a great game so far, great goal Johnny, but if we raised the intensity just a little bit we would be up 2-3 goals. This game is far from over, we have got to go out there and attack the net more aggressively.” We got back to our positions. As soon as they kicked off they made a mistake and we won the ball. Instead of playing back we pushed up forcing the other team to bring attackers back to defend. I didn’t want to just dribble and make the game boring, so I took a shot and the top right corner netting welcomed the ball to his home. 2-0. I leaped into the air with excitement and threw a fist into the air. The crowd was screaming in delight, for this was a home game for my team.

Though we scored the other team was quick to react. They quickly dribbled down the field and took their first shot of the game. It hit the post and went in the back of the net!! In a snap of a finger the crowd became silent. Everyone was astonished and no one dared to speak. After that our team tried to slow down the pace of the game. We were worried the other team would score again.

I looked up at the scoreboard: one minute!! Surely we can’t lose now, I thought. I looked up at the game, what the other team had a penalty!!! A penalty is a shot for the other team from a pace inside the penalty box and the defenders have to be behind the ball, this is a great opportunity for the other team to score!! If they miss this they will be ashamed of themselves. But they didn’t, it was tied and going to extra time.

At the start of extra time we got the ball first. My friend passed me the ball, I dribbled past two defenders. I passed my friend the ball, and he shot the ball. It went into the back netting! The ref blew his whistle, signalling that the goal didn’t count because my friend was offsides. When a person is offsides it means that they were in front of everyone and they got passed the ball. But my teammate clearly wasn’t offsides. I got really mad at the ref and ran over to him.

“That’s not fair,” I yelled at the ref. And the ref gave me a yellow card. A yellow card is a warning. If you get two yellow cards, you get sent out of the match. If you get a red card you get sent out of the match automatically. I didn’t want to argue more because then I would’ve got a red card.

The goalie kicked the ball far off to the other side of the field. Their striker controlled the ball and took a shot, and it went into the back of the net. It was 3-2 them, when it should have been 3-2 us. I was furious.

We were taking so many shots on goal but none went in! We were controlling the game. I kept telling myself that it was one goal but I knew that the clock was ticking, and I knew this was the championship match. We’d come all this way, we couldn’t lose now. Just then I had a flashback of last year when we lost lost, how devastated I was, it was such a disappointment, but what I remember most was the walk home. I was ashamed of myself too embarrassed to show my face to people.

Five minutes left, I thought to myself. I played my heart out. I looked up at the clock, time was running out. There were only seconds left in the match. I dribbled the ball and then tapped it through one of the defenders legs. It came out the other side. I ran and got the ball. I ran past another defender. I saw the clock. There were only five seconds left. I knew I had to take a rushed shot. I shot the ball right before the clock turned zero. The goalie deflected the ball, but not hard enough. It went into the back of the net! The game was going to penalties.

Our coach called us in. “Guys, that was a close one. We nearly lost two times in a row. But now we’re not going to lose it. We have to go out there and score every penalty. We have to make sure we don’t miss one. Because if we miss one we leave the door open for the other team to score and take the lead.”

The ref blew his whistle and he called the captains over to do the toss for who would take the penalty first. We won the toss again. And I chose to shoot first. It was our team’s penalty. It went into the back of the net. Great, I thought, but they scored as well. The penalties went on and I knew that if I scored we would win. I lined the ball up, I thought to myself, this is it, this is what I’ve been waiting for all my life, the opportunity to be the star of the team, the star of the league. I closed my eyes, the ref blew his whistle, I shot the ball right down the middle. The goalie anticipated that that ball would go to the right hand side of the net, where most of my shots went earlier. He dived to the right but my ball was down the middle. I love that sound the ball makes when it hits the netting, kind of like the sound a basketball makes when there’s a swoosh. And right there on point it happened again. The crowd roared I ran to the corner flag and jumped back facing the crown [the Ronaldo]. It was awesome for we had won the championship match for the first time!!!

 “And the 2016 junior soccer championship goes Arsenal,” as the presenter gave us the trophy. Everyone was so happy, I could hear my family, they were so proud of me, my coach was proud of me, my team was proud of me, but most of all, I was proud of me.

The Goblet of Doom

Four young siblings were sitting at the dinner table. The room was dark and gloomy. The dinner table was made out of dark wood. They were eating chicken and the adults were drinking wine. Lilly, the second oldest, noticed her goblet looked different than all the rest, but she didn’t know how to describe how it was different. Lilly was a small girl at the age of nine. She had long brown hair and small brown eyes. She was wearing a long silk dress.

She looked at her oldest brother, Liam. “My goblet looks different,” she whispered.

“Well, you just have a different goblet than the rest of us do,” he said. Liam was very stubborn and loved getting his way.

“What’s wrong?” Isadora asked. Isadora was eight and very adventurous. She loved mysteries and would do anything to solve them.

“Lilly has a different goblet.”

“What?” Mirembe asked. Mirembe was the youngest, just seven years old. She was small, skinny, and always alert.

“My goblet looks funny,” Lilly whispered. Their parents, Minerva and Arthur, looked at Lilly, concerned.   

 “What’s wrong?” their father asked.

“Oh, nothing,” said Lilly. “We were just talking about jousting.” Their father nodded.

“Let’s find out why this goblet is here,” Isadora said, smiling.  

That night, the four children were in the family library, trying to find books to read before bed. “Hey look,” said Liam. “I found a book that says ‘Goblet of Doom’ on the cover. It has a drawing of your goblet on it,” he said to Lilly.

“Let me read it,” Lilly said, yanking the book out of Liam’s hand.

She read, “The Goblet of Doom is a very peculiar-looking goblet, though it can’t truly be described. It can multiply two times, making three goblets. One of them will make you die, but the other two will just be normal goblets,” Lilly read. She looked at the back of the book. There was a message tied to it with a strand of thread.

Mirembe grabbed the message from Lilly and read: “If you have found one of the goblets, know that there are two more. Three people must participate in this challenge. Two goblets will give you special powers. One goblet will make you die. You’ve got to find the three goblets and each of you must choose one to drink. One goblet is in a church, one is in a tavern, and one we do not know.”

“Well, I guess mother and father didn’t just give you a different goblet,” said Isadora. “Let’s find out what really happened.”

“Well I found one of them and I didn’t die,” said Lilly. “I guess when I find the other two goblets, I will get a special power.”

“I don’t think it’s safe to try to find the other two,” said Mirembe.

“Of course we should try to find it,” said Liam. “I want special powers.” He ran to his room and began to pack his bag.     

“Stop! What will we do when our parents see that we’re missing?” Lilly said.

“It’s nighttime. They’ll think that we’re asleep,” said Liam.

“You guys can do whatever you want, but I won’t drink from one of those goblets.” said Mirembe.

“Are we going to get going or not?” Isadora asked.

“Yes,” said Liam. The three other kids followed their brother out the door.

“I think I’ll go back,” said Mirembe.

“Don’t you want a special power?” Liam asked Mirembe.

“Well, I guess.”

“Let’s go,” whispered Isadora.

“Hey, let’s try to find a goblet in the graveyard,” said Liam.

“No, of course we shouldn’t! That’s not one of the places in the book,” said Lilly.  

“One of them is in the tavern,” said Mirembe.

“Come on,” said Isadora. All of her siblings ran after her. They walked through the town marketplace to get to the tavern. It was dark and gloomy when they got there. There was one man sitting behind the counter with a little candle on a saucer. The man had a long beard and looked bored.

“Hello,” said Liam. “May we please have a drink of water?”

“Yes,” said the man very grumpily as he got up to get the drinks from the back of the tavern.

After the man left, Lilly asked Liam, “How’s that supposed to help us, unless one of us coincidentally gets a special goblet?”

“I don’t know,” said Liam. “But let’s try.” The four children sat at a table. They saw a knight drinking a cup of wine.The man came back with four goblets filled with water. He placed all four on the table. Each of the kids took a goblet. Liam looked at his.

“Hey, mine looks just like the one at home!” Liam said.

The man turned around. “What did you say? You’re not talking about stealing my goblet, are you?”

“No,” said Liam.

“I know you said something,“ said the man. He approached Liam and took a knife out of his pocket.

“Run!” screamed Lilly. Liam took the goblet and ran. Isadora jumped on top of the man.

“Go away!” she yelled.

“You’ve taken my goblet!” screamed the man, who continued to run after the children.

“C’mon! This looks like a safe place,” said Mirembe. They ran into a little shack. Liam slammed the door.

“That was close,” said Lilly. “Do you have the other goblet, Liam?” Liam took the first goblet that they found in the house out of his bag.

“We need to get going,” said Isadora. “We need to find the next goblet.” Mirembe slowly opened the door to make sure the man wasn’t still there.

“All clear,” Mirembe whispered. Liam went around Mirembe and began to run towards the old town church. His siblings followed him.

“Wait, why are you going to the church?” Lilly asked.

“Because, that was in the book too,” said Liam. They walked slowly, making sure the man was out of sight. Lilly walked in front. The wind started to blow. “I’m getting cold,” said Liam, and he began to shiver.

“Come on!” said Isadora as they approached the church. Lilly ran up to the door and opened it with a creak. Isadora jumped in front of Lilly and began to check the church for the last goblet. Mirembe followed up and began to search with Isadora. Liam looked upstairs as carefully as he could. The church was dusty and dark. It smelled like garbage. They found rare prayer books, old papers, and scrolls. But they couldn’t find a goblet.

Lilly sat down and leaned against the wall. She felt something weird behind her. She saw five bricks had moved and there was a tunnel that she could fit through. “Hey guys, look what I found!” Lilly screamed. All her siblings ran up to her and looked in the tunnel.

“I’ll go in first!” Isadora screamed. Isadora slowly slipped into the tunnel.

“I don’t think this is safe,” Mirembe whined.

“Oh, this is perfectly safe!” Liam said and slipped into the tunnel to follow Isadora.

“C’mon,” said Lilly, “this tunnel can’t be too dangerous.” She slipped into the tunnel and Mirembe followed behind her.

“I see light!” Isadora screamed.

“I can’t,” yelled Mirembe. “It’s pitch dark down here.”

Liam pushed Isadora aside and jumped into the light. He could see light above him. He couldn’t make out what was above him, it was just light.

“What do you see?” asked Lilly.

“Nothing,” said Liam, “it’s just light.”

“It can’t just be light!” screamed Isadora. Mirembe passed everyone in front of her and

jumped into the light. She disappeared.

“What happened to Mirembe?” Liam screamed in terror.

“I don’t know, but this can’t be good!” screamed Lilly, her voice echoing around the church. Isadora jumped into the light and she disappeared as well.

“Oh no! What are we going to do?” Isadora and Mirembe disappeared.

Suddenly they heard Mirembe’s voice scream, “I’m here. Jump into the light.”

“But how?” said Liam.

“Oh, c’mon,” said Lilly and she jumped into the light.

Liam stood there trembling. What was he going to do? He couldn’t just stand there. Maybe he should go back to mother and father and tell them. “No,” he said to himself and jumped into the light.

Liam felt cold, then everything went hot. The light started turning blue and green. He felt himself fall. Everything went black. When his vision came to, he saw Lilly staring at him. “Are you an angel?” Liam asked Lilly.

“No, of course not! I’m your sister.” Said Lilly. Lilly helped Liam up.

“Where are we?” said Liam.

“I don’t know!” said Lilly. “But this can’t be good.”Suddenly Isadora ran up to Liam.

“Finally, we’ve been waiting five minutes for you!”

“Sorry,” said Liam.

Mirembe ran up to them. “What are we going to do now?”

“I don’t know, but we got to do something.” said Liam. Lilly saw a small shiny piece of metal on the ground. She got closer. It was the goblet! She picked it up.

“Hey, look what I found!” Lilly screamed. Everyone else came over.

“Now all we need to do is drink from them,” said Liam. They walked back towards the light. Suddenly, they started spinning. Lilly squeezed her eyes shut. She opened them. She was in a big graveyard. Isadora and Mirembe were gone, but Liam was lying right next to her. Lilly was holding all three of the goblets.

“Where’s everyone else?” Liam yelled.

“I don’t know,” said Lily, “but we better drink it fast.”

“Why do we need to drink it now?” yelled Liam. “Why do we even have to drink it at all?”

“Because, don’t you want one of the special powers?” yelled Lilly.

“Well, one of us will die!” yelled Liam. It was just then that Mirembe and Isadora ran up to them.

“Hey! Where were you?” yelled Lilly.

“Well, where were you?” yelled Isadora.

“I don’t know but I don’t care. We need to drink from these things fast,” yelled Lilly.

“I saw a fountain over there,” said Mirembe. Lilly left and went to fill up the goblets with water. The fountain water was cold and dirty, but she filled it up anyway. Then she ran back with the goblet to where the others were sitting.

“I filled them up,” yelled Lilly.

“Wait a minute,” yelled Mirembe. “There are three goblets, and four of us. What should we do?”

“Well I guess one of us won’t have to risk dying, but won’t get a power either. Maybe only three of us should do it,” said Lilly.

“Well you three can do it, but I’m not,” said Mirembe.

“Well, I already drank,” said Lilly, “So I guess it’s Liam’s turn now.” Liam picked up the small goblet. Liam slowly drank the water. Once he had drank it all, he placed the goblet down on the ground.

Isadora picked up the next goblet. “If you guys didn’t die, then how am I gonna survive?”

“You can’t,” Liam said, “Just drink it already.”

“No!” said Lilly.

“Do you want the powers or not?” yelled Liam.

“Well… yes,” Lilly sighed.

“Well, in order for us to have the powers, someone needs to drink from the third goblet,” said Liam.

“Oh, fine, you can have the powers,” Isadora responded, and brought the goblet up to her lips. She was about to take a sip, when Mirembe jumped on top of her and pushed the goblet out of her hands.

Lilly caught the goblet in midair. Liam grabbed the goblet and started running towards the fountain. Isadora stood, surprised and wet. She blinked, and then she fell to the floor.

Mirembe screamed. “You didn’t drink it, how could you die?” she yelled.

“I don’t know!” yelled Lilly, as she tried to pick up Isadora. It was just then Liam was running back with the cup. Water came out of the sides of the cup as he started running towards them. Isadora shrieked.

“What’s happening?” Mirembe yelled, and leapt on top of Isadora. Lilly tried to pull Mirembe off of her.

Liam came over to them with the goblet. “Drink it!” he yelled.

Isadora pushed Liam backwards. Mirembe caught the goblet that still had water in it, and shoved it down Liam’s throat.

“No!” Lilly shrieked. Liam began to choke and he started looking pale. Isadora leapt to her feet. Isadora started charging at Liam but he pushed her back. Isadora looked at her brother and ran to the other side of the graveyard; she was terrified. Mirembe leapt on Liam and tried to strangle him.

“That’s what you get for trying to murder my sister!” yelled Mirembe.

“Leave him alone!” yelled Lilly, and pulled Mirembe off of him. But it was too late. Liam was already dead. Liam’s eyes creepily stared up at them.

“What do we do now?” said Isadora.

“Aren’t you supposed to get powers?” Mirembe said to Lilly.

Suddenly, Lilly felt a small tingling feeling, and felt kind of sore. Lilly’s eyes were forced shut. She opened them again. She had small pink wings, and she was hovering above the ground. She looked down, and Liam stood up. His eyes were staring creepily at them, and his skin had turned green.

“What happened to you?” Lilly shrieked.

“He probably has the power to come back to life!” yelled Isadora.

“He’s a zombie!!!” yelled Mirembe, and she lept onto Lilly’s foot, which was hovering above ground.

Liam pulled a knife out of his pocket.

“Where’d you get a knife from?” yelled Isadora. Liam didn’t seem to hear her. Liam didn’t seem to be charging after any of them. He was only staring straight at Mirembe.

Lilly jumped in front of him but Liam just walked around her and started charging for Mirembe again. Liam paid no attention to anyone around him — he just kept on walking towards Mirembe with the knife. Isadora jumped on Liam and pulled the knife out of his hand. She tossed the knife to Mirembe. Isadora jumped off of Liam. Liam started charging at Mirembe again. Mirembe charged after him at the same time! When she got close enough she threw the knife at Liam. The knife hit Liam straight in the head but he didn’t die. He kept walking at Mirembe with blood pouring out of his head.

Lilly flew toward Liam. Liam sprouted a small pair of wings and started flying at Lilly. Lilly emptied out her pocket and threw everything she had at Liam. Lilly found a small rock in her pocket. She threw it at Liam. One of Liam’s wings fell off and he started wiggling in the air. Liam started gliding to the ground, he started screaming. Mirembe found a small pile of rope on the ground. She tied one end into a small circle and lassoed it into the air. She closed her eyes and pulled on the rope, she had caught Liam in the rope. She pulled him to the ground. Mirembe wrapped Liam in the rope. Lilly glided towards the ground and looked at her near-dead brother. Lilly felt an urge of sadness as Liam closed his eyes for the last time. Lilly bent down next to Liam and then she realized something… Liam was dead. “Come on, let’s go home,” said Lilly gloomily. Mirembe and Isadora followed her home.

Lilly knocked on the door, and her mother answered. “Where’s Liam?”  she asked. Lilly looked at Isadora and Mirembe.

“He’s dead,” Lilly sighed.

“What do you mean?” her mother asked “are you playing some kind of game?” Lilly thought to herself what am I going to say?

“I killed him,” said Mirembe.

“What do you mean?” her mother hollered.

“I’ll show you what we mean,” said Mirembe.

Their mother followed them to the church where they had found the third goblet. “Where’s the light?” said Lilly, searching around. Nobody could find the light.

“Will you tell me where Liam is or not?” their mother asked.

“We told you, he’s dead,” said Isadora and Mirembe at the same time. Their mother stayed silent. The three children ran from the church, leaving their mother behind.

“What are we gonna do?” Lilly asked her siblings.

“I don’t know!” Mirembe cried.

“Well, what kind of graveyard did you remember teleporting us to?” asked Lilly.

“I don’t know, it looked like the graveyard next to the church in the town next to us,” said Mirembe. Lilly got her mother and brought her to where her siblings were standing. Their mother followed them to the graveyard. They searched around for Liam’s dead body, but they finally found it. All of them wished they had never found it and had searched forever. Their mother stared at the corpse in disbelief. Liam’s eyes were wide open, staring up at her creepily. Their mother started to shriek. Mirembe looked at her brother. Why had she killed him? Why did she have to be so mean? Then, Lilly could only think of one thing to do. She ran. Lilly ran and ran and then took off into the air. Her mother was trying to chase her down below.

Lilly flew too fast to think. The tops of the trees scratched her as she flew by. She didn’t care. She would fly and run until nobody could find her.

She finally landed. It wasn’t until then she realized that Isadora had been hanging on to her foot when she was flying.

“What are you doing here?” Lilly asked her.

“I didn’t know what to do! I had to come with you. I left Mirembe back with mother.”

“Well, what are we gonna do now? We’re lost in the middle of the woods!” said Lilly.

“We’ll build a shelter, of course,” said Isadora.

“What? What do you mean? How?” Lilly exclaimed.

“You just watch, said Isadora. She began to collect logs and push them over to where they were sitting. Lilly began to help Isadora push the logs. Together, they began to pile them up until they had made a small shack.

“We need to make sure it’s stabilized, we need to tie the logs together with vine,” said Isadora. She began to collect vines. Lilly helped.

They tied the vines together to make them stronger and then used them to tie the logs. Lilly and Isadora looked at their creation.

“Pretty good,” said Isadora to Lilly.

“Now let’s find food,” said Lilly, and she began to fly and search the area for fruits. Lilly came back with a stack of coconuts, apples, and mangoes. They began to eat and dump the rest into their small shack. They collected pine needles to make beds. Days passed and their lives were well.

“I don’t care what happened to Mirembe or anyone else, but I think we should stay here,” said Isadora. And they did.

One day, Lilly was sitting outside the shack, sewing together animal furs to make clothes, when an old man approached her. The man was wearing a black cape and walking with a cane. The man approached her holding a knife. Lily screamed and shut her eyes, suddenly she started spinning. Around her she saw flashes of Liam screaming or when they were finding one of the goblets. The memories flashed as she spun. Then everything went black. She was still screaming.

She opened her eyes. She sat up in bed. She was in bed in her bedroom. Isadora was sleeping in her bed on the other side of the room like she normally was. She looked at the clock. It was two in the morning.

“Liam! Liam!” was the only thing Lilly could think of.

She jumped out of bed. Then she realized she was still in her nightdress, the one that she had back at home. She ran across the hall to Liam’s room and opened the door silently.

Liam was sleeping in his bed breathing normally. Then Lilly realized something.

It was a dream, all a wonderful, adventurous dream.

THE END

W.P.A. Boot Camp

Ah, another day waking up in my igloo. For some reason my clan hasn’t gone full tech, but it’s kinda nice without a screen every five inches.

“Paws!” That’s my dad calling me for a hunting mission.

Oh well, I think… better grab my spear.

A few hours later, I’m dragging a ton of fish to my clan. My dad will be so proud!

Wait a minute, what’s that smell…? Smoke, fire! My clan! The fish can wait. As I clamber over the hill, the smell of fire increases, and, as I look down on my clan, I see cats setting fire to everything and killing any arctic fox they see. That’s when my brain goes into shock and I faint. It’s like I’m dreaming but I can still hear things around me.

“An arctic fox,” says a voice, “He’s the last one,” says another. “Let’s bring him in.”

I wake up in a hospital bed with my head throbbing, and as hold my head I feel something strange behind my ear. Suddenly, a voice says, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” When I look up I see a grey and black cat.

The next thing I know, I have the cat in a headlock. “What have you done to my family!” I scream at the top of my lungs.

“I don’t know,” says the cat. All of a sudden, his suit lights up with green electricity and I fly back. “And I’ll have you know that not all cats are bad, and my name is Scout,” he says. “And, the thing behind your ear –– it’s the one thing keeping you from going bonkers. Anyway, I’ll see you in the training room.”

“Wait, what?” I call after Scout, but he does not answer.

I eventually find my way to the training room. There is a polar bear, another cat, Scout, and an owl. I look up and there are three owls in a window. The polar bear is the only other animal that looks as confused as I do. I am about to walk up to him, but then Scout sees me and signals to the owls to start the training. That’s when I notice that all the other animals have similar devices to the one behind my ear, but they are all different colors.

Weird, I think. I don’t think it matters, but hey, you never know. That’s when training begins, and a voice on the loudspeakers says, “Press your Winged Paw.”

“Wait, what?” I say for the second time today.

“The thing behind your ear,” explained Scout. His Winged Paw is in his chest, and it formed the green chestplate like the one he had in the hospital room.

So, I press mine, and a visor goes over my right eye and a blue tube goes down my back, the latter forming into a backpack of sorts. Then, two tubes of blue energy go down my arms and form bracelets, each emitting two prongs of electricity. That’s when I notice that everyone’s suit is different. Full body armor with white plasma tipped parts for the owl. Chestplate and helmet with pink plasma tipped swords and pistols with pink plasma bullets for the other cat. Chestplate filled with green electricity and nanobots that can form into katanas and plasma rifle for Scout. A visor that completely covers his eyes and an orange electricity chestplate with earthquake gloves for the polar bear.

If this is a team against the cats, then defeating them will be easy, I think.

Soon, I learn that the other cat’s name is Gothy, the polar bear’s name is Polar, and the owl’s name is Snowy. Scout explains what’s going on to Polar and me (we are apparently the new guys).

“This organization is called the Winged Paw Alliance, and was formed to defend against the Cat Empire. The thing behind your ear was made by Snowy the owl, our technician and hacker. Gothy is our assassin, Paws is our demolition expert, Polar is our tank, and I’m your comman––”

“Wait, wait… what? Demolition expert?” I stammer.

“Yes,” responds Scout, “and your backpack is full of explosives.”

I pull one out and chuck it, and Gothy nimbly does a front flip and catches it. “Those are sticky bombs, not grenades,” says Snowy.

“Sweet, better to stick to my enemies,” I respond.

“I like this kid,” says Gothy through her helmet, which has roboticized her voice

“Gah, I give up,” responds Snowy.

“Stop messing around, guys! We have a lot to cover –– keep in mind that we are still outnumbered by a thousand to one. So, let’s get started,” says Scout,

“Wait, what?” responds Polar, “You’re sending us on what’s basically a suicide mission and on something I didn’t even sign up for!”

“But, Polar, we need you!” responds Scout.

“Yeah, Polar –– I too was brought here against my will, but these guys are fighting for what’s right,” I say, agreeing with Scout.

”I don’t care!” screams Polar. “I didn’t sign up for this war, so I don’t intend on fighting in it!” before storming off. I try to comfort him, but Scout holds me back and slowly shakes his head. I look back at him but he’s out of sight.

I’m starting to get used to this new gear, even if it’s taken two days… But hey, that’s what happens when you’ve lived in a no-tech environment for your entire life! It helps to incorporate my clan’s form of martial arts because it gets the moves flowing together. But, I miss Polar. I know I wasn’t really friends with him, but it feels weird without the giant white furry mass in the room.

I am practicing a backflip and electricity strategies to evade shots when Scout finally breaks it to me: “Um, Paws?” Scout asks, his voice wavering.

“Yes?” I respond.

“Well, you know that in your clan, there were no survivors?”

“I already put that through my head,” I say.

“That was the last arctic fox clan,” he tells me, and I look at him, surprised. He continues, “You’re the last arctic fox in the world, Paws.”

“No, it can’t be true!” I yell.

“Paws…” he says, trying to comfort me.

“I need someti–time alone… “ I mutter.

I reflect upon my fate in my room. I want to avenge my clan, but then I remember that it’s much bigger than that: my clan is gone and there’s nothing I can do. But, here, I’ve made new friends. I can’t sit here forever wishing my family were alive; I have to look at what I have now. I know that revenge won’t bring my family back. Revenge won’t bring my clan back. Revenge won’t bring any arctic foxes back. But, I will fight in this war, and not for the sake of revenge –– I will fight for the sake of all the animals that will die if don’t fight in this war.

“Cat Empire?” I say to myself. “Hit me with your best shot.”

To be continued…

Last Resort: Antarctica

Chapter 1: How This Day Works

There I was. On the ice raft with Uncle Lee, Aunt Monica, and Jackie and Will, (my cousins). My parents died when I was still an egg. Soon afterward, my aunt and uncle came and saved me before I got too cold and died. Yeah, that’s my life. I never met my parents and never hoped to see them soon. I was shy but full of courage. So, back to  my “family” and me.

The hot day was making my family boil up. They bathed by the shore, flipping and twisting in the icy water, but not me. I did not like to swim. I stood in the hot air, waiting and watching what was around me. All the other penguins were having fun and playing in the water while bathing.

I have never really been like all of the other penguins my age. I never seem to be satisfied with what I do. But I really like that about myself. I think if my parents were alive they would be proud to call me their penguin. My name is Mia Ottiline (but you can call me Otti or Mia for short) and I live in Antarctica. I don’t have much of a family, as I mentioned, but I do have a best friend and his name is Kevin. We have been friends since we were eggs, or at least that’s what his parents have always told me. We are inseparable. He doesn’t mind that I don’t like to swim because he doesn’t like to swim either.

However, one day Kevin and I wanted to take a dip in the water, but we knew if the other penguins saw us they would make a scene. It was Kevin’s idea to swim at night. Kevin has always been the bold one. He even looks different from the rest of us. He’s got polka dots on his white tummy, which he says are for good luck. And it has to be true, because he’s the smartest penguin in our grade. One day, when my instructor told me that I got a question wrong, I fumed inside. On the outside, however, I looked cheerful and happy. Kevin quietly turned to me and explained the answer and why it was so. I wrote it down.

Back to that life-changing day. I still felt hot so I was running back to the fish hunter lake when I heard a sound like a dying penguin. I was terrified, so I ran to the frozen river bank. But then I realized it wasn’t fair. I could never run away from my family, who had done so much for me. So I turned around and felt my mind boggle. A big structure was steaming in the water. Animals were standing on top holding big chunks of black ice, and surprisingly they were all the same size. Little pellet-like objects were being released out of them, striking the penguins. Honestly, it seemed kind of stupid. I ran back to my clan to see a sight I never could have imagined that I would see. Penguins, even the bravest of them, were scurrying all around. Did they know something I didn’t? Then I saw it. The blood as red as, well… blood. My heart was pounding. There were seals, sharks or even, wait — that was Kevin.

Chapter: 2 The Last

I was surprised. I never knew Kevin to kill a seal. Honestly, at first I thought the blood was his own. Even if it was a baby, that still was an accomplishment. That would make a good dinner for the clan. But then they ran away. The blood was spreading like water on the hard frozen ice. Some dove into the water while some were heading toward me. I felt a little scared. The animals started moving off the structure. They were jumping off of it, some of them not even surfacing. I was scared because some of the penguins were dropping dead. I mean, really scared. Aunt Monica was down and Will was too. There they were, over half of my family, my inspiration, gone. I had to waddle. Cliffs and cliffs. I was so confused until then… it hit me. I remember now. A twig sketch in class clearly  described this situation. Men. Yes that’s what they’re called. On, oh, a boat. With — wait — guns. The killers of us. They wanted us. They were willing to… Ahhh. That was a horrible sound. I turned around to the boat. It crashed into the ice raft, killing all of the water bound penguins. There are hardly  any left between the boat crash and and the shooting, but I know some have escaped. I also remember from the lesson where to go. The ugly penguin.

Chapter 3: Memories

Uncle Lee found me first. I was only two weeks old. He ran up to my nest. He is my mom’s brother. He wrapped his strong, loose wing around me. The icy wind was blowing against my bumpy shell and his slick wet fins. He just held me and gave me a sense of warmth. “Please don’t worry. We’ll take care of you. I’ll bring you back to your big cousin Jackie.”

The night grew dark, and I hatched too early. My body felt cooler than being frozen in ice. I looked up at my uncle. He ran me to the water and try to show me how to swim. Aunt Monica was back making a nest, preparing for Will. After my swimming lesson, he tried to throw me in the water. I was too small to refuse, so I gave in. I never came back up until my uncle dove in and saved me. He knew I wasn’t ready but he didn’t know I had no interest at all.

In a way, I was shunned by my community. They blamed my parents’ deaths on me. They said my parents never wanted children and they abandoned me for that reason. I was the unwanted child of one of the most important people in the community. When I was one, my cousin Will hatched. His body was big and powerful, yet his head was small and simple. He was too different from me. As soon as his father threw him in the water, his dives were so elegant, yet powerful. He went on to become the most well known adolescent swimmer in all of the ice raft.

Jackie is somewhat like me. She isn’t the most powerful swimmer in the flock. But she has a hook for the boys. That’s why she’s allowed to be the pretty one on the sideline. Uncle Lee said she must get married soon, the day before the attack, for she’s going to be nearly eighteen. But now, that can never happen, at least not now.

Now me. Who was I? Who am I? I’m the orphan penguin that no one would ever dare to talk to. No one will tell me about my cadaverous parents whom I never met. I can only assume that they died hunting, but how would I know if no one would ever tell me? Legend has it that they disappeared like melting ice. Wow, that’s helpful. Sorry, sometimes I lose my temper. Well, years later, here I am.

Chapter 4: Making Memories

Here I am, by the frozen river bank. I dive into the deep line and through the hole to the safety under the frozen ice. I scurry around some more to find my part of the den until I reach it — a map I drew of the ice raft when I was seven, on my journey with Will and Uncle Lee when we went on an exploration of the entire thing. That’s one thing I like about the boys in my family. They don’t mind taking me on all of their boyish trips. I know my way around but it can still be very dangerous. Suddenly, I hear men’s voices.

“Hey, boys. Look at this. Looks some little ice friend of ours calls this miniature canyon home. It ain’t nothing like the Grand Canyon back at home, is it boys? Why, just look at that little hole. Looks penguin-sized, don’ it? Any of you fit through there? Hey Luke. You’re slim, ain’t ya?”

“Sir, I’m only your personal servant. I don’t have the skill to do any of the dirty work. I’m only fourteen.”

My heart is pounding so loudly, I am surprised that they can’t hear me through the ice.

“Get down there, boy. It’s an order.”

So then I hear him jump into the “canyon” with a thump. He reaches inside the hole. I place myself against the wall. I know I am never going to make it to the ugly penguin. I try to burrow myself into a hole, but the ice is rock solid. This is the end.

“Nothing in here, boss.”

“How do you know when you wiggle your finger around like a little princess? Now, tell me.”

“Sorry sir. I’ll go in.”

I think that I am safe. But of course I’m not. He comes in feet first, which I guess is better. Next his body. Then his arms. Then his head. I am peeking around the corner from my room. He crawls around. Then he sees the tiny opening to my room that he could never possibly fit through. He turns his head into the hole and notices me. I just close my eyes and wait for the blow.

“Awww. I can’t kill you, little thing. Wait ten minutes after I leave to go.”

I felt like crying. This young boy just saved my life! He crawls out and yelled:

“Nothing, Boss, and that’s final.”

“If you say so. Let’s go.”

I hear their feet clamber away. I look at the map one last time to create the perfect mental picture. I’m not good at drawing so here’s what it looked like:

Shore=flat plains=thin ice=hills=the climb

I packed some food and began.

Chapter 5: Journey

I’m on the flat plains close to the thin ice but close to the edge/wall of the ice raft. I feel the earth turning colder and colder on me. The sun’s setting and the worlds in the sky come out. I have to find shelter. My back is aching. I am freezing. This bright sunny day has turned into a harsh unforgiving night. I know I have to still believe in myself and keep going. I have a quick feeling overcome me that I know I am going to be the hero. I am going to win this time. All my life I have lost and lost. I can’t bear to fail again.

As soon as I find some cave in the wall, I’ll eat and go to sleep. That’s what I think, at least. There’s a giant hole in the wall that I am approaching. When I reach it, Jackie and Kevin are in there talking!

“You guys! I missed you! Thank you for making it out alive!”

And before they can answer I run up to them and hug them. I don’t remember much after that, but that sure was a good night.

Chapter 6: Finally

Can I get things straight here? Because I don’t think I’ve been very clear on the ugly penguin. He’s a penguin. And a very ugly one. He smells like old fish and his hair bristles are all knotted. He doesn’t believe in royalty or fineries. Everyone thinks that he’s the wisest penguin of all time, but of course he doesn’t believe that. He’ll help you in any situation and tell you what to do. I feel amazed to talk about him now and I feel a sense of confidence.

I really feel that way when I wake up this morning on top of the ice raft with the wind blowing on my face. Jackie is to my left and Kevin is to my right, and in front of me, with his subtle grin, is the ugly penguin, and he speaks to me.

“Hello, my precious daughter.”

El Fin

Lavanasium

Chapter 1

Once upon a time there was a planet called Lavanasium. It was a horrible place, and it only had volcanoes. Everything was sad. There was no light anywhere. No kids were playing. It wasn’t a nice planet. Everyone in this planet wanted to do something to make this change but they didn’t know how. In this planet there was a little house made of metal. In that house there lived a Mom named Eliza, a Dad named Mark, and a really special girl named Elizabeth.

It was a peaceful dark night as usual. Eliza was playing checkers with Mark. Elizabeth was reading a book. Then, all of a sudden, a green weirdo with a cane, green eyes, no hair, and a cape just came barging in without any invitation.

He said, “I am the greatest villain of all time. If you don’t obey me you will have to fear me for the rest of your life. No matter how small I am, I can do big things,” said the green weirdo.

Elizabeth said, “Are you sure?!”

“Definitely sure,” the green weirdo said.

Then when the green weirdo didn’t even notice Eliza and Mark were standing and doing this really weird spell. It sounded like they were speaking Chinese. They had to twirl stuff with their arms together. This spell turned the green weirdo into a little green man about 5 centimeters tall.

Everyone was huddling around him and he said, “what are you, giants?”

The whole family just said, “actually, you shrunk.”

The green weirdo said, “you shrunk me?”

“Of Course. After you said that you you were evil, we had a feeling that you were here to kill us.” The family replied.

“I wasn’t going to kill you, but now I am,” the green weirdo said.

“Are you sure that you can kill us when you are that size?” The whole family asked.

“Of course I can. Muahaha! But, you will see that I will get revenge very soon! Even still today!” the green weirdo said.

My Mom and Dad were very scared. They said that we will have to be very alerted just in case he did come back. I was scared. Why did my parents even do the spell? He wasn’t even going to kill us. But, now he is because of that spell, that spell that ruined everything.

We were all calm until the door opened. We didn’t see who it was. It just opened. My whole family paused, then I looked back at my parents. They weren’t there just when I saw him, that green weirdo. That’s when everything changed. He had my Mom and Dad trapped in his car. He stayed with me and talked and talked.

I didn’t even pay attention until I heard the word volcano.

That’s when I said, “Wait what did you just say?”

Then he said, “You weren’t listening, were you.”

“No I wasn’t,” I said.

“Okay. I will tell you again. As I was saying, my minions are with your parents in my car bringing them to the biggest volcano in the entire world. It is going to explode in approximately ten days.” The green weirdo said.

“Why would you do this to my parents what did they ever do to you?” I said.

“Well, they did turn me into this little man. I can never turn back to normal. So, I am going to be a green little 5 centimeter guy forever,” he said.

“That’s only because you said that no matter how little you are, you can always do big things.” I said.

 Chapter 2

The green weirdo left. Now, what am I going to do, I thought, I’ve got to get my parents back, but I don’t know how. I don’t even know where the biggest volcano was and which one was about to explode.

I saw the car driving away with my parents and the green minions waved back at me while laughing. I felt frightened and hopeless.

Out of desperation, I ran after my parents hoping that the car would stop. My mind was focused and I ran so hard, I broke a sweat. Suddenly, the car stopped. I was confused and worried that the minions saw me running and planned to hop out of the car to hurt me. In the car, much to my disbelief, I heard the minions confused also.

I said, “What just happened, some sort of magic?”

Then, my parents hopped out of the car and look surprised.

They said, “We never thought it was true, Elizabeth! But, we have passed our powers onto you!”

I said, “I can’t believe it, I actually have powers! My wish came true!”

My parents replied, “You have telekinesis, honey!”

I was confused and asked, “What’s telekinesis?”

“It’s the power that if you concentrate, and you think about moving things, they move wherever you want them to. Basically, what you just did,” they said.

Suddenly, the minions put a spell on my parents that made them do whatever they wanted. The minions made them get back in the car.

I suddenly felt scared and nervous of the journey ahead. I suddenly knew what I had to do.

Chapter 3

I chased after the car. I realized I was running super fast, faster than I’d ever gone before. I was running so fast that I didn’t notice a tree right in front of me, so ran right through it. I got goosebumps and felt a little funny. I had no idea what just happened. I stopped in my tracks and tried walking into the tree again. I had another power, but I didn’t quite know how to explain it.

Well, after the morning I had, anything was possible. It was clear to me now that I had super speed and invisibility powers. I knew that I could use my invisibility powers AND my super speed powers to save Mom and Dad. I felt empowered with these new discoveries.

I didn’t know exactly where this volcano was, so I followed the car wherever it went. I realized I was surrounded by a lot of trees on an isolated highway. I kept running. Suddenly I saw a small shape that looked like a volcano. We were getting close! I heard the volcano bubbling. I kept on running. Each step of the way brought me closer and closer. I saw smoke coming out of the volcano because of the heat of the lava. I was getting scared and just wanted to see my parents and know that they were okay.

The volcano was very close, and there was only one bridge to cross before we got there. But, there was one thing I was scared of, just one thing: heights. I remembered all the good times we had together and I was not going to let them down because I was scared of crossing a bridge. So, I powered through my big fear and walked across the bridge even though I was afraid.

Once we got to the volcano, the minions found a secret entrance. They did not know that I had invisibility powers to walk through solid objects, so I slipped in right with them. My parents were tied up with rope and had duct tape on their mouths. Suddenly, I saw a button. A red button. I wondered what that button did.

Then, I heard the minions talking about the button. “If you press the button, the whole world will change and there will be no more volcanoes and everything will be beautiful. There will be day and night again. We can’t let that happen. Thankfully, there is a code that needs to be entered in order to press the button which nobody knows: 5223,” the minions said.

After I heard that, I had a tinkle in my nose. And all of a sudden, I sneezed and everything went quiet.

Chapter 4

“What was that? Who’s there? Come out at once!” said one of the minions.

I didn’t say anything. I had goose bumps. This was impossible. I had to show myself. I realized that my parents didn’t know that I had these powers. But, they did know that I sneezed, so they they knew that I had the power to become invisible.

Well, I knew that I had to show myself. When I did, everyone gasped. Thankfully, the green weirdo wasn’t here.

The minions said, “He is not here yet, but he will be here when he finds out that you are here and want to save your parents.”

I begged, “Please don’t tell him!”

But it was too late. They had already called him.

He came and said, “I knew you would come. There is one thing that is very important in this cave that button! If you press it, there will be no more volcanoes. But, you don’t know the code to open the lid. So, ha!”

I headed to the red button while he was he was saying this. I entered the passcode and he didn’t even notice because his eyes were closed.

I put the passcode in, opened the lid, and pressed the button. I closed my eyes because I was scared of what was going to happen. Then, I opened my eyes. The Green Weirdo suddenly disappeared. Nobody knew where he was. There were no more volcanoes. We were standing on grass and it was daytime. There was light, there was happiness, and it was all beautiful.

I went directly to my parents and untied them and took the duck tape off of there mouths. We hugged each other for 30 seconds.. We went back home and everyone was playing and having fun in their front yards. It was a great sight to see after years of misery.

Gummy Wars

Chapter 1

Plot

Once upon a time, in a very magical universe, a war was started in Gummy World.  It was between the Gummy Worm Empire and Gummy Bear Country. But, let me tell you why. The Gummy Worm Empire was trying to take over the Whole Gummy Universe, because all they wanted was power. On the other hand Gummy Bear Country was fighting for the freedom of the rest of the  Gummy Kind! The Gummy Worms were fighting with bows and arrows. They would be kept in an arrow bag made out of twizzlers. The arrows were made out of pocky and sharpened chocolate chips. The Gummy Bears’ weapons were also bows, arrows, and swords. The swords were made out of pocky with a sharpened chocolate chip on top. But both of them had edible silver armor and marshmallow shields.

In the middle of the fighting was a young soldier named Bear Han Solo, but everybody called him Solo; which was kind of ironic because he was single. His job was to protect the king and his daughter’s chariot. As he was fighting, he dodged an arrow. Then he saw one flying through the sky. He jumped up and tried to grab it, but his friend and fellow soldier, Henry, knocked him over because he was about to be killed by another one.

Suddenly, they heard a shrill scream and turned around. It was from the gummy bear princess, Rosetta. They turned around and looked. Her father was the one who took that arrow to the neck. He was dead! Dun dun duuuun!

Solo ran to save the princess from a gummy worm soldier, but boom! He was clonked in the head by a marshmallow axe.

Ten hours later, he woke up in the gummy bear infirmary.

“Uuuuuh,” he said and looked up. He saw Henry there.

Henry said, “Wow. You took a big clunk with that marshmallow axe.”

Then, Solo remembered everything that had happened.

“But the princess! Where’s the princess?” he yelled.

“Ssssh,” said Henry. “You’re going to wake the other patients. She got captured by the Gummy Worms! We have a week to surrender, otherwise it’s off with her head!”

The next day, Solo was already better. He and Henry had just gotten a cup of hot cocoa and started brainstorming ideas for battle.

“How about we use marshmallow axes too?” said Henry. Then, Solo had an idea. And Henry thought it was a good one, too. Five minutes later, they were at LeShaun Bearflez’s makeup and hair salon. He was the best hair and makeup artist in the country! When LeShaun saw Solo, he said, “Han Solo! Han Solo! Good to see you! Good to see you! What can I do for you today?”

“I need you to disguise me as a gummy worm,” Solo responded.

At first, LeShaun was very confused. And then he got it. He ran toward a closet, and grabbed a gummy worm suit and some mold to make a face mask. Two hours later, Solo looked exactly like a gummy worm soldier. And if you saw him, you would think so too. Now he was ready for battle, in disguise.

Chapter 2

The Plan

Solo and Henry went to Henry’s place for some tomato soup and to devise a plan. They wrote down the steps on a sticky note. It looked like this:

To-Do List

  1. Tell General Bearkins our plan
  2. Make a fake ID so the Gummy Worms think Solo’s on their side
  3. Get a position as a Guard for the Gummy worm castle
  4. Save princess Rosetta and get out of the castle without being seen
  5. Kidnap the Gummy Worm Queen Emily

“Wait, we’re going to kidnap the queen?” Solo said, after reading the list.

“Yes,” said Henry, “She is pregnant with the heir to the throne. If we can kidnap her for a week, we win the war!”

“Maybe,” said Solo, “But first, let’s do the top four, and then we’ll consider that”

Chapter 3

Completion

Solo and Henry hurried to the battlefield to complete the first step: tell General Bearkins their plan.

“General Bearkins! General Bearkins!” Henry hollered. General Bearkins turned around and grabbed his weapons.

“What are you doing here, worm soldier?” he said, when he saw Solo. Solo took of his masked and showed General Bearkins that he was really himself. General Bearkins was very confused.

“Why are you dressed as a gummy worm?” he asked.

“That’s exactly what we’re here to tell you!” said Henry. After explaining their plan to General Bearkins, they got his consent, with a bit of advice.

“Your plan is brilliant, I have to admit,” said General Bearkins, “But there is one minor issue. They have chips in the IDs, and I’m pretty sure you don’t know how to make them. But I know a guy. All I need is a picture of Solo in his suit with the mask on, and you’ll have your new ID in an hour or less!”

“Well, now we can cross of the first two items off the list!” said Henry. “Now, we just have to wait until we get the ID. But in the meantime, let’s go and get you some worm weapons.”

15 minutes later, Henry and Solo were at Gilmore Blacksmith’s Metal Shop.

“Hey, look over here!” Said Henry, “I found those Twizzler arrow bags they use!”

“Great,” said Solo as he reached into his pocket for some Jelly Beans. Here, Jelly Beans are used as currency. He pulled out five jelly beans.

“This will do it!” said Solo.

After they paid (there was a very long line), they went back to the battlefield and found General Bearkins with the ID.

“Here you go Solo,” he said, “You’re all set!”

“Great!” said Solo, “Now, I’m off to find the Worm General Wormkhan.”

Chapter 4

Mischief

As Solo approached the worm side of the battlefield, a security worm came up to him.

“Hey you!” said the worm, “I need to see some ID”.

“Uh oh!” thought Solo as he slowly pulled out his “ID”. And as the security guard scanned he prayed that it would work. Beep. It had worked!

“Yes!” Thought Solo. “Wormtail?” Said the security guard. Solo looked at the “ID” card, apparently his name was “Gabriel Wormtail.” And if you saw Solo’s face you would be laughing your head off! “General Wormkhan will give you a position he’s near the castle, on the right”. Said the security guard.

Once Gabriel…..I mean…… Solo got to the castle, he saw the dungeon. Inside there was a tiny cell with an even smaller window, he could make out a very tiny figure. He started to walk closer, but then he thought “don’t want to act suspicious, so I’ll check it out later”.

Solo turned around, looking for General Wormkhan. Then he saw him, he was a tall worm with big muscles, an oval-ish face, and his red skin was a pattern of red with black strips. Solo had to admit in his mind he was a little scared of the General.

When Wormkhan saw Solo he yelled, “Hey you come over here for roll call”. Solo quickly ran over to Wormkhan, now he was doomed. Solo sat in a seat next to a worm named Wormer. He looked a bit more friendly than Wormkhan. While Wormkhan call attendance Solo prayed the Wormkhan wouldn’t break his back.

Then he heard Wormkhan say, ”We have a new recruit today and his name is Wormtail.” Solo couldn’t believe it! He was on the list!

“Now,” said the General, ”Wormtool, one of the the guards for the castle, has been injured and I’m giving you his position he said and turned to Solo.

What luck! thought Solo, Now I can cross that of the list.

 In the middle of the night Solo snuck out of the soldiers quarters, and towards the tiny cell he saw the day before. He knocked on the door, and inside was Princess Rosetta. She was practicing karate and making some very loud sounds, but she heard the knock.

“Who is it?” she asked.

“It’s a Gummy Bear soldier, I’m here to rescue you” Said Solo.

“Do you have a key?” She asked.

“No” He said.

“Then I’ll kick the door down,” She said, “Step back.”

Solo stepped back. Then five seconds later, there was a big bang! And the door fell. Solo stepped in and saw the princess. Then, a deafening alarm started going off. She said, “Wait, you’re not a gummy bear! You’re a gummy worm!”

Solo took off his mask. “I’m in disguise!” he said. He punched the window open and they jumped out. They started racing down to the white chocolate river and jumped on Twizzler logs. By dawn, they made it all the way to the gummy bear side of the battlefield, but there were worm soldiers chasing them. He took the princess to her palace, and told the guards to make sure she was safe. Then, he took off his worm suit and face mask, got into his battlefield clothes, and started fighting.

“Hey, where’s that guy, Wormtail?” said Wormkhan, “Gabriel Wormtail? Did he run away?” He looked around. “Wait, where’s the princess? Where’s the princess? Does Gabriel have something to do with that? Go see if the princess is back on her side!” Then, the worms started charging for battle, and so did the gummy bears. The battle lasted five hours. And during the fighting, Henry found Solo and the two of them raced to their base.

Henry said to Solo, “Did you rescue the princess?”

“Yes,” said Solo. “And now we have to go capture the pregnant queen of the worms!”

Chapter 5

Details

“Now you listen to me!” Said Henry. “Let’s devise a plan at my place with some tomato sandwiches.”  

Back at Henry’s place Solo and Henry decided that Solo would sneak through the Licorice Forest back to the worm base and into the soldiers quarters.

“Wait, what if they ask where I’ve been, what do I say?!?” said Solo nervously.

“Good point,” Said Henry. “How about, ‘I had to go back home because my mother was in the hospital?’”

“That could work,” said Solo.

“Then you’re off! Go! We need to win the war!!!!” Said Henry.

Solo quickly hurried out, not because of what Henry said, he was always intense like that. Solo didn’t feel well. He felt weird inside and kept remembering the princess. “How beautiful she is,” he thought. “And she knows karate.”

Now this is one of my favorite parts, because as the narrator, I don’t get to do much but now I get to sing a song. Yay! And it goes like this: Solo is love sick, Solo is love sick and he knows and he know it. He’s in love with the princess, in love with the Sorry, I’m getting a little off topic. Anyway, back to the story.

Now, Solo was in the Licorice Forest and yes, the trees are made out of Licorice.

“The Licorice is shiny, like her beautiful eyes… Oh no! It’s happening!” Solo kept thinking the same things, and now he knew for sure. He was in love with the princess, Rosetta.

Noooooo!!!!!!!!!!”

Back at the Gummy Bear castle, Rosetta was in her room still going over everything that had happened to her, then she remembered Solo.

“I’ve got to thank him, for rescuing me,” she thought, “I wouldn’t have been able to break that window without edible silver armor.”

Chapter 6

Capture

“Wow, the castle is so grand, like Rosetta. Oh my god, would my mind stop doing that?!” Solo thought, when he finally made it to the castle. Solo came in through the back of the servant’s quarter. There, he found Wormkhan.

“Wormtail, where have you been?” said Wormkhan, in a booming voice.

“I…I…I was at the hospital because my…. my mother was in the hospital and I had to be there,” said Solo nervously.

“Oh,” said Wormkhan in a soft voice. “Uh… well, now is your time for duty. I am uh… I’m going to uh… use the restroom for a minute.”

After Wormkhan walked away, Solo was a bit confused why Wormkhan was being so sensitive. Solo went back to his place and looked at the cell and then he asked another soldier named Wormtool

“Where did the princess go?” Solo asked, though he really knew the answer.

“She escaped with a meddlesome gummy bear. Ugh, too bad the security cameras didn’t catch it.”

“The security cameras!” Solo thought, “I have to destroy the footage!” He ran to the technology room and found the footage. Nobody was there, so he rewinded it back, erased all of it, and ran back to the servant’s quarter. Someone had left a sock there, and he tripped on it.

“Oof!” he said, and his mask fell off and spun across the floor. He looked up to find Wormkhan.

“Aaaaaaaah!” screamed Solo, but in his mind he was thinking of running away. So he ran and tripped on another person’s sock.

“Why are people so messy?” he thought, as he accidentally knocked down a photograph of Wormkhan’s mother. Solo stopped and hid behind a corner. He saw Wormkhan’s mouth drop open, and he did something very unexpected. Wormkhan started crying. Everybody was confused why he was crying and he came up.

“Mother! Sally!” Wormkhan wailed. Everybody was confused and stunned, but it only took Solo a few seconds to realize the opportunity he had. Since there were no guards in the upper castle, he ran up and found the queen in her bedroom. It was true: she was pregnant. He snuck up behind and threw a piece of cotton candy over her mouth and tied it. Then, he picked her up and started running down the stairs. Still, nobody realized what he was doing! He started running through the Licorice Forest.

Wormkhan had recovered from his breakdown, and remembered Solo.

“There’s a gummy bear in the castle! Everybody search the castle!” he screamed

Meanwhile, Solo was running through the licorice forest. He was about to make it to the bear side.

“Huh.. huh….. Huh…” he huffed. He didn’t want to be rude or anything, but the queen was heavy. Then, he realized the queen was sweating.

“Uh oh,” he thought. “She’s going into labor!”

“Infirmary infirmary! I captured the queen, but she’s going into labor!” Solo yelled when he got back to the Gummy Bear side. Everybody was confused at first, and then five minutes later they had come with a rolling bed, put her on it, and rolled her into the operating room.

Two hours later, he was allowed to come in. The baby was a boy. His eyes were blue, but the rest of his body was rainbow.

“I’m very happy for you, but you are still our prisoners,” Solo said, “We will lead you into your room now. We will take care of the baby, but you must go into your room now for some safety tests.” She nodded and was lead into the room.

“Solo, I have a message from the princess,” said a palace servant, “She wants you to come see her.”

Chapter 7

Heart-Break

Twenty minutes later, Solo was at the Gummy Bear palace with the Gummy Bear servant. He was making his way to Princess Rosetta’s bedroom. The servant knocked on the door.

“Princess Rosetta, Solo is here to see you,” said the servant.

“Come in!” replied the princess. Solo was a bit nervous going into the princess’s bedroom. When he came in, she told Solo to sit. He tried to sit down on a chair, but he slipped and fell on the floor. The princess was in shock, and the servant was trying his hardest not to laugh.

“Pardon me for my clumsiness,” said Solo. Then, he made sure he actually sat down on the chair.

“Thank you for rescuing me,” said the princess, “Now you can have anything you want in Gummy Bear Country, under the price of 5,000 jelly beans”

“Five thousand jelly beans!” thought Solo, “Wow, that’s a lot!” The servant’s mouth had dropped open with shock.

“I don’t want money,” said Solo, “All I want is you! Ever since I met you, I have loved you.” Now it was the princess’s turn for her mouth to drop open.

“I… I…” she hesitated, “I’ve already fallen in love with someone. You may not have me, but you can have the 5,000 jelly beans.” She turned to the servant.

“Please escort this soldier out of the castle.” Solo was heartbroken and defeated as he walked home. When he got home, he put on his favorite movie, Gummybusters, and ate little tomato candies. Then, he noticed the time. He had to go back to the battlefield and fight. As he was walking, he saw a young maiden named Emma-Louise. She was beautiful, he had to admit, and she turned around and saw him.

“Hey I know you,” she said, “You’re the one who saved the princess and kidnapped the Gummy Worm  queen! You’ve done a lot for the country. On behalf of all of us, thank you!”

“I know this is a little bit weird, but would you like to go out tonight?” asked Solo.

“Sure,” said Emma-Louise, “I would like that!”

Chapter 8

Celebration

Later, as Solo was fighting, he realized that he wasn’t really in love with the princess. He was just shocked that he actually saved someone. In all the old Gummy fairy tales, once you save someone you fall in love with them. He was just going off of that. He realized that he actually liked Emma-Louise. Then, he saw a huge troop of gummy worms charging onto the battlefield.

“Uh oh!” said Solo. Then, Henry had an idea.

“Hey! I know a guy who makes Pop Rock Bombs!” said Henry, “Why don’t we get some?” They rushed over Gillmore Blacksmith’s metal shop, and found him there. They split the cost, and started running through the Licorice Forest. They snuck into the Worm Castle, and went into their storage units. Solo knew his way around. Then, they placed the Pop Rock Bombs there, and Solo closed the door and ran. boom! They started running back to the Licorice Forest. There was a big bang, and half of the castle was blown up.

“YES!” they screamed in unison, high fived, and ran back to the Gummy Bear side. The Gummy Worms had called a pause, and were holding a group meeting in the remaining half of their castle. The Gummy Bears took the opportunity to hold a meeting too.

“Wow,” said General Bearkins, “I wonder who blew up the castle?”

“We did!” said Henry, with his arm over Solo’s shoulder. “We blew it up!” Then, General Wormkhan blew a whistle, and they went back to their positions. One of the Gummy Worms came in holding a white flag. They had surrendered!

“Now,” said General Wormkhan, “We will surrender if you give us back the queen.”

“Deal!” said Solo, and brought out the queen with her newborn baby in her arms. Wormkhan was so surprised.

“You went into labor?” he asked her.

“Yes!” replied the queen.

Everyone went back to their own side to celebrate. The worms celebrated the baby, and the bears celebrated victory.

“Hooray!” said Solo. Everyone in Gummy Bear Country was flooding the streets, waving the Gummy Bear flag with pride.

“Well,” said Solo, looking out at the streets, “We can call that a huge adventure!”

The End!!!

Heaven’s War: Chapter 1

Lightning cracked. Rain poured, but I could still see the stars. That’s what was important. Nothing bad could happen while I had my stars. I gripped the railing as hard as I could while the boat rocked back and forth. My hair whipped against my face and I struggled to block out the screams and go back to my memories of my best friend:

Marlee laughed. I smiled at my joke. Her light hair bounced behind her back. She was giving me a spa from our yard, something she loved to do to me. I made jokes to her as she plopped and rubbed mud into my hands and legs. We giggled as she tried to put cucumber slices on my closed eyes, but each time they slipped off. She eventually gave up. When I opened my eyes I saw my brother Zander snapping a picture of her.

“Out!” I screamed. He giggled like a pig and scampered off. He had a little crush on Marlee.

We looked at each other. The ends of her lips turned up into a smirk. I chuckled. She cracked up. I joined her. The second we stopped, one of us would smile or giggle or mock snapping a photo, and we’d burst into laughter again.

Back in reality, I held Zander tightly as he heaved everything in his body over the side of the boat. He choked as a massive wave approached. As I began to realize what was coming, my world seemed to move in slow motion. I threw my head back so I could see the purple star and wished with everything in me as the wave engulfed us. My eyes were still open all throughout the boat tipping, I kicked a fish, and reached the surface. I looked for my family. I still just couldn’t set them apart from the other dark, screaming figures. I thought about dying. It reminded me again of Marlee:

“I have a secret.” Marlee burst into my bedroom. She made jazz-hands and then quickly put them down. She jumped once.

“I’m going to visit my cousins on the other side of the country,” she told me. She was grinning ear to ear. She jumped again and fell on her butt. She spread herself out on the floor. “Yay!” She giggled uncontrollably. She kicked her legs in the air.

“No way,” I squealed. “Really?”

She nodded, jumped up and grabbed my hands. We hopped up and down, squealing.

I sat down and hung my head. “But I’ll miss you so much!”

Marlee sat down next to me. “When you miss me, think about this: Wherever you are, we look at the same stars.” She pointed to the sky and chose one particularly big dot.

“When I’m gone, this star will turn purple. That way you will always know we are looking at the same sky.”

“You’re just saying that.” I glared at her.

“You say that like it’s a bad thing!” She said. She ran out of the room, screaming with a sort of excitement I wish I had shared.

A few days later I was lying under my blanket. My pillows were were wet from tears. It had been three days. The star hadn’t turned purple. I still checked every night.

One week later a letter arrived.

The Case Family

Mr. Mira Case, Ms. Lilith Case, Ms. Angeles Case, and Mr. Zander Case

Invitation

Event: Funeral

Location: Mall St. Diana, Ilouw

Time: 11:00 am

Who Died: Mrs. Marlee Kinder

Car crash

I felt tears welling up behind my eyelids, but they never poured. It was almost as I died for a second. The world filled with whipped cream. I could feel myself floating. I could hear Marlee, but not talking, laughing, shouting, or crying. Just her voice. Doing nothing.

Then a sniffle caught my attention. Zander was whimpering. And suddenly, reality seemed all too harsh. That’s when the tears came.

I wandered somewhat aimlessly over to the window. I looked at the sky. I looked next to the sky near the neighbor’s house, a pale, violet star shone bright, blue like Marlee’s eyes, but also purple, just like she’d promised.

The Turtle’s Adventures with Friends

BOOK ONE: A LITTLE TURTLE AND A MONSTER

Once upon a time, there lived a turtle and a monster. I am the turtle, and my name is Laylay. The monster comes every spring and scares our village. It is a huge, navy blue octopus and tries to eat the turtles by scooping us up. When the octopus comes, we hide down in the sand by the water.

It’s spring now, so I am hiding with everybody and our fish friends. We are afraid and shaking. We are all quiet. Today is Tuesday, and we know the monster is coming today.

It’s here right now. When the octopus comes, he tries to find us. He usually can’t, but sometimes he finds one turtle. Then I see it. The octopus is in my friend’s sleeping area. He is trying to get her with his tentacles. My friend is screaming as loud as fireworks.

What shall I do? “Help! Help!” I call out. “The monster has my friend!” I’m running and I wish I were faster.

All of the turtles and fish come. We make a plan to get her back. We are going to sneak right up on the octopus and tie a rope around it. Then we will get my friend back. But I am too scared to go. I stay back while everybody else goes to where the octopus is, one by one. While they are gone, I think about my friend, and the monster attacking her. I wish that the monster wasn’t there. I wish I were braver.

The turtles and fish are gone for ten minutes. When they come back, everyone looks fine, and they have brought my friend back. I feel happy again. I hug my friend.

She says, “Guess what! The monster went away.” My friend smiles.

I say, “Good morning! I’m really happy to see you.”

“You, too,” she says.

We start to play hide-n-go-seek. 

BOOK TWO: A TURTLE RAN AWAY

Once upon a time a little turtle named Fancy lived in a rock house. She wanted to swim across the ocean because one of her other friends did it. One day she woke up early and she went around the sea, but she didn’t get to go all the way because she was too small and the ocean was so large. She saw nothing but the blue water around her and the beige sand. She felt sad and started crying because the other turtles were not with her.

The next day all of the turtles woke up and they knocked on the wooden door of her house made of rocks. No one answered the door. They thought Fancy was asleep so they opened it. They swam in and looked at the bed and Fancy wasn’t there. They thought she ran away so they started looking for her in the coral, but they couldn’t find her. The turtles started to quietly cry. Then they set off to travel around the ocean. They finally found her. Fancy was sitting on the sand not that far away. They hadn’t seen her before because they didn’t look outside of the coral.

“I’m so happy to see you!” Fancy said.

“Us too,” the turtles replied. “Let’s go back!”

Then they all swam back and had a party in the middle of the rock houses. The turtles danced, ate, and started to make a book about the time Fancy ran away.

THE END

The Weird Things

THE MISSING GARDEN

Hi I’m Caden. Remember [it changes everyday] not to ask my [I count time differently] age. I am a good swimmer. In the ocean there is a brick wall. Each brick is a different color. If you touch the wrong brick you will get trapped in a brick [same color] wall. Inside there is no ocean anymore. It is la la lupsy land with mount [the fruit] everzest. I HAVE A MESSY GARDEN [it is in weird places] with beautiful plants and foods people take and eat, and/or sell at day.

Zzz. I woke up, I went outside… my garden was gone! Wwwhaaahhhttt. The garden, not the plants! Somebody stole my garden. I climbed my house [I am good at climbing [grabbing on, not walking] walls] to the roof.

“Who stole my garden?” I asked.

My magic chimney said, “Stinky Fat Fart Guy ate it.”

I was a little afraid that he might eat someone else’s garden.

 THE the the the END eeennnddd. 

DO NOT MISS THE NEXT BOOK: THE MISSING MAGIC CHIMNEY                                                                                                   

BOOK  TWO  #2

THE MISSING MAGIC CHIMNEY

My magic chimney is magic. It is made out of slime and every time something falls inside, it bounces out. The chimney talks and knows who did everything. It knows what whoever did what. So a while ago Stinky Fat Fart Guy ate my garden. I gave him an oven that gives him any food, drinks, or money.

Zzzz. I left bed [I stood up]. I went to the fireplace to talk. Sometimes when I was outside, I looked outside at the chimney, and when I was inside, I looked up to talk. But my magic chimney was gone. Since it was gone I could not ask it. I was unhappy because I was afraid something would disappear that belongs to someone else. Zzzz. I walked outside. A big red  book was sitting on the roof in the chimneys spot.

It had no pages, only the front and back and a note that said, “Find the three pages.”

Zzz. I woke up. Three pages appeared and said:

“Dear Caden,

I took a vacation to the Philippines. I will come back soon. Sorry it came late.

From, the Magic Chimney.”

THE END               

Do not miss the next book, The Missing Pet Turtle, book three.

THE  MISSING PET TURTLE

Do I have a  pet turtle? YES. I bought him perfectly YESTERDAY, which was twenty-four hours ago in my time. I wanted to have something in case the chimney was gone.  He lives in a GIGANTIC TANK.

Zzz. I could not find him. Since he was big, he might be far away from where I am looking. I jumped into the tank and put on a scuba-diving outfit. I swam and he was gone. OH NO! My magic chimney is still in the Philippines. My pet turtle was one of the things I cared about.

Zzz. A medium white envelope was floating in the tank. The letter said, “Dear CADEN, All your strawberries disappeared. From, THE MAGIC CHIMNEY.”

Their was a hole in the word “your.”

Zzz I woke up another  envelope was in the tank. The letter said, “DEAR CADEN, One turtle is in the ocean. From, the Magic Chimney.” There was a hole in the word “turtle.”

Zzz. another envelope was in the tank. The letter said, “DEAR CADEN, THE MERMaids wanted TO EAT BANANAS. FROM, THE MAGIC CHIMNEY.” There was a hole in the word “wanted.” Zzz. another envelope was in the tank. It said, “YOUR STRAWBERRIES WANTED TO SEE ME.” There was a hole in the words “to see me.”

THE  CODE said “MY TURTLE WANTED TO SEE the Magic Chimney.”

The end.

Next book: The Missing Mountain

THE MISSING MOUNTAIN

Now the Magic Chimney came back. I told the Magic Chimney, “Take care of my turtles. I bought another one and I named the green one ‘Tur,’ and the blue one ‘Tle.’ I’m going to dinner on Mount Everzest.”

I went to a restaurant called Dancing Bananas and Chickens!!! The menu was:

CHICKEN CONGO LINES $5.00

CHOCOLATE BANANAS $7.00

FRIED CHICKEN $9.99

FROZEN BANANAS $4.99

BANANA CHICKEN $20.99

FRIED CHICKEN $6.43

FROZEN CHICKEN $1.10

CHOCOLATE CHICKEN $77.89

DANCING BANANAS $44.44

I ordered chicken congo lines and dancing bananas for dessert. I came home. I looked at Mount Everzest. It was GGGOOONNNEEE. Not the stuff on it.The MOUNTAIN. I told Tur and Tle and the Magic Chimney that it was gggooonnneee.

       The Magic Chimney said that mountains move over time. Now it was in Los Angeles. I visited Los Angeles, and the mountain has the Palisades, part of Santa Monica, Westwood, and Brent Wood. I came back.

THE END

Undaunted Courage

It all started when Brandon’s arch-enemy blew up the White House, the Capitol building, and all the museums and memorials on the east bank of the Potomac river in one explosion. Brandon and his assistant Stanley Dalton were visiting Washington D.C. to tell President Rosemary J. Staten, Vice President Michael T. Evans, and Secretary of Education Jerome J. Johnson about their new invention and how to use it. Brandon was just nominated for smartest ten-year-old kid charted. He had invented a one hundred percent correct, infallible lie detector.

The clock chimed twice when Brandon’s evil arch-enemy, Doug Brooks and his assistant Alan Walker, marched in carrying sixteen portfolios. All of them were practically spilling. Brandon clenched my diamond charm that his Grandma Holly gave him when he was five, a day before she died of a heart attack.

“Brandon, meet Doug, who has just invented a tester that can harmlessly go into any software and disable networks and CPUs,” President Stanten cheerfully announced. Doug spared a second to shoot Brandon a withering glare, and Brandon sent one with an equal amount of hatred to Doug. Stanley looked like he was going to implode. He was shaking and sweating and once Brandon looked at him he dropped all of his papers and ran into the bathroom.

“Look at that pathetic human. Brandon must be insane to have hired him,” Doug whispered to his assistant. As he said it, his eyes turned a freakish green and when Brandon looked at him, he formed a green light in his palms and shot it at Brandon. Brandon ducked and the green ball shot out of the window and smashed into Pennsylvania Avenue. A huge green ball rose from the crater and its diameter grew to almost thirty feet before exploding. Doug and his assistant teleported away right before the White House crumbled to ruins. Brandon saw Stanley, the President, Vice President and the Secretary of Education all spiral into the air. But Brandon couldn’t, because his teleportation cube was with Stanley. Brandon heard an alarm ring in the distance before he was sucked into a pitch black world.

Beep, beep, beep. Brandon opened his eyes. He was in a hospital and a machine was trying to keep him alive. He groaned at the dull pains all around my body and that got the doctor’s attention.

“Brandon? Are you alright? We just finished cleaning the chunk of muscle that one of the rocks cut off. You’re going to have some huge scars on your legs and face. You’re in Florida and got transferred from Annapolis to here. Orlando,” the doctor said, anxiety splattered on his face. Brandon guessed it was because his dad had threatened to sue the doctors if Brandon wasn’t better within the week. Brandon groaned and fell back asleep.

Brandon woke up again in the middle of the night. The doctors were absent and he had a pile of presents on his bed side table. He groaned. They were all from girls who would pester him to ask him out or something. The top letter was from Mom. The second he read the word ‘Mom,’ he started crying. His mom was also in a hospital with blood, breast, and lung cancer, and a brain tumor. He had just visited her the day before the meeting. She was better and she said he was a prodigy but she also mentioned she knew he was capable of more things. He was puzzled but at the time, Brandon and his dad’s flight from Los Angeles was to leave in two hours and he and his Dad had to rush to the airport. He didn’t want his Dad to know because he was strict and only gave terse replies to answers.

Brandon fell back in his pillow and cried himself to sleep.

The next day, the doctors did a blood test. Brandon had never needed one because he was rarely sick, so his parents never thought he needed one. During the blood test, two doctors fainted, one doctor gasped, and the rest looked like clueless monkeys. Brandon saw what was on the machine, and it said, “System error. No known explanation.” Then, for no reason, he felt the scars on his legs that the doctor said would be there. They were gone, disappeared, vanished.

“Uhh excuse me? One question. Where are the scars that you said would be on my legs?” he asked. They looked at his leg and three more of them fainted, leaving four gaping doctors who stared at his leg where no signs of injuries could be seen.

Soon, Brandon’s injuries were healed and he got ready to leave. He was told to go to the airport and wait for his dad. They were going to go to West Palm Beach. The doctors were still surprised by Brandon and his tests results. Brandon felt like gasping at them and the machines. He decided that they needed brain updates. All of them. He was soon out of the hospital. A wave of fresh, warm air greeted him. It was around 9:00 and nobody was around. He strolled around the area and went to downtown.

It was the opposite of New York City. The apartment buildings were low, and about six floors, and Business Buildings were just nine to ten floors. He crossed 8th street and continued his way to the airport. The second he rounded the corner, a man in a trench coat grabbed him by his  head and stuffed him into a suitcase. Brandon suffocated in the suitcase for ten minutes until the bottom of the suitcase opened and the suitcase stopped bumping along the pavement, indicating the kidnapper had stopped, and sounded like he was smoking.

Suddenly, in a flash of green light, a tunnel opened leading to a platform above a land of paradise. A group of girls were at a base of a mountain. They raised their hands and muttered some words before the mountain rumbled and out exploded a stream of lava that turned into rubies upon touch! Another group of boys were walking in a barren courtyard. They put a grape into a burning hearth at the center and in a flash of sparks, the columns of marble around the courtyard were covered in grapevines and soon, they bore fruit. The boys high-fived and patted each other on their backs, eating fresh, juicy, purple grapes. Brandon walked around the platform until he noticed a woman, in a wheelchair, around the age of thirty-six, beckoning toward herself. She was clearly motioning Brandon to come to her.

Brandon froze. “Mom?” he said weakly. The woman smiled. “Mom!” He started running toward her. She started running towards Brandon. He embraced her so hard she said laughing, “Loosen up! I’m going pins and needles.” They both started crying tears of happiness.

“I’m so glad you’re alright! I was worried sick. Your father is waiting down there, see?!” Brandon looked down. Dad was in the courtyard with the boys, clearly teaching them how to play football. He looked up and waved. Brandon waved back and all the boys started pointing and whispering.

Stanley waved to Brandon, looking perfectly normal, except that he had a purple staff. Stanley put his  staff up into the air and wrote, “Is Brandon alright? All of the campers are anxious to meet him.”

Then Brandon’s mom pulled out a neon yellow staff and wrote, “Brandon is fine. All is well.” The golden letters shown in the air, and disappeared.

Brandon didn’t realize his mouth was opened in shock, until his mom noticed. “Why are you suprised? I thought you would know by now what you are. Remember the bus driver with the horns? Doug and the green explosion? The time were you found yourself suffocating inside a palm tree in Mexico when you went to sleep in the Ritz Carlton, Philadelphia? These things were not just coincidences. You are a magician and so am I.”

Brandon was speechless. He had a hard time believing what  his mom said. His mom laughed.

“You had proof when you saw me take out a staff and write golden letters in the air with golden particles the size of teensy weensy atoms.”

Brandon gaped at his Mom for a few more minutes before he answered. “How are we going to get down if I don’t have a teleporter and both you and dad refused to use teleporters?”

Brandon’s mom stared at him looking utterly bemused. “Opinions change. I put some sense into your dad’s brain after I decided to use teleporters.”

“But where are the teleporters?” Brandon asked, exasperated.

She smiled. “You will see me perform one more spell before we go down for a tour. Here I go. Summonialo Teleporters!”

Two teleporters zoomed out of a black portal and clattered on the glass platform.

“Ready?” asked mom. Brandon nodded. She flicked the box open and requested “Nuanen Welden!” Strangely, Brandon understood what she had said. Nuanen means beautiful, and Welden means forest. Nuanen Welden means the beautiful forest. The teleporter started humming and Brandon, using previous knowledge, knew that was the ten-second warning. The box opened once more and a purple portal rose out. Brandon and his Mom grabbed hands and walked into the portal.

They spun through hyperspace. Images of other places raced past  them. Brandon caught glimpses of other areas. Cairo, Beijing, New York, L.A., Las Vegas, and tons of other cities. Then the portal opened up and they walked out to a huge marble doorway. On top read, “Astori! Fri Cai Vinr! Nai Onr Jan Oloso!” which means, “Welcome Friends! Make yourself at home!”

Brandon was still puzzled by his knowledge of this language. One day, I master French after one month of hard work and the next I learn a unknown language in two minutes, thought Brandon.  

After the entrance, they came upon the clubhouse. It had a huge pool, a patio, a pool table and a casino from what Brandon could see. Then they arrived at the mess hall. Brandon saw a huge campfire with strange symbols around it. The fire was still red hot in the ashes. Next they proceeded to the amphitheater. A huge outdoor stage was surrounded with layers of seats in a half circle. Then the party of two arrived at the cabins. Each of them had a symbol and a word in the unknown language. As Brandon began to call it. They read, “Fire,” “Water,” “Earth,” “Ice,” “Air,” “Electric,” “Animal,” “Plant,” “Mind Reading,” “Future Predicting,” and right in front was the knowledge cabin. Brandon peeked inside to see just a blank, swirling, black mist.

“Brandon! Please don’t do that. It’s forbidden in Nuanen Welden,” Brandon’s mom called out after she was greeted by the group of girls from the volcano. One of them offered a ruby bracelet to Brandon’s mom and she accepted it warmly.

“Mom, why couldn’t I see anything? That mist was not a portal, so why could I not see anything?”

Brandon’s mom looked like he should know this, but resumed a normal expression. She replied, “That’s because you haven’t passed the trial of the cores yet.”

“What is the trial of the cores?” Brandon asked.

She explained that you have to go through three days of obstacles to find out which group you are in. She also mentioned she was a mind reader, so Brandon realized how he could never force a lie past her. She also knew what was troubling him. Then a huge wooden manor loomed up in front of them.

“That is the haunted manor. Twenty-three years ago when I came here, one magician went in and never came out. Every night there is a explosion, and blood starts to seep out of the tallest room in a waterfall. Then a wave of pain seeps through you and you fall into a nightmare. Only two months ago did we find out how to stop the pain, but you will still have nightmares and they are about what you fear the most,” Brandon’s mom whispered, dropping her voice with a shudder as if she could still feel the pain.

Then they passed a cathedral that loomed higher than the haunted tower. It had a huge gold bell on top. The edges were beautifully carved marble and the stained glass art was made with so perfection it looked so realistic. Then Brandon realized that the people in the glass were moving. He gasped and pointed at the glass tiles like a baby that first saw a bird. The people actually glanced at him and some waved. The party pasted the archery range and they saw a huge wooden tower that had broken ladders leading to the top. Then they ventured on and then, the big golden bell struck seven times. It was seven o’clock, and campers poured out of the cabins and training areas.

“C’mon, the feast has begun!” cried Brandon’s mom, looking happier than he was when he was given the Nobel Prize for the rocket boots and the teleporter he invented just a few months ago.

They followed the campers into the mess hall. In just a few hours’ time from when they had passed the hall during the beginning of the tour, there were piles of mashed potatoes, rivers of cranberry sauce, heaps of rotisserie chicken, mountains of spaghetti, hills of Caesar salads and lakes of stews and soups. Brandon sat down with his mom and his dad at the high table.

Brandon noticed that the campers that were in the cabins were know whispering and pointing at him. He ignored them like the paparazzi that followed him wherever he went. Then Brandon began to pile some of the baked yams and the steak onto his golden plates. He asked where was any of the drinks and a server stared at him with a expression of pure horror. She strode away, now bearing a expression of exasperation.

Leaning to his left, Brandon asked his dad, “Why did that servant looked so scared when I asked where the drinks were?” Brandon’s dad looked amused and then replied in a soft tone Brandon had never heard him use. “The drinks are forbidden within a ten-yard radius of the sacred hearth where we do our daily sacrifices at the strike of midnight so we are not pained by that mysterious person up at the top of the haunted manor. We have to sacrifice a ice pearl, a lava ruby, a water sapphire, a leaf emerald, and the rarest, most precious gem of all: the knowledge diamond. It has been a millennium since a knowledge camper came here. They have been extinct because they attract to many spirits and aliens then they can fend off — ”

He had trailed off because Brandon’s diamond charm rose off him and was giving off a brilliant white light. All around Brandon people started bowing on one knee. Then Brandon’s dad said, “Rise Brandon, son of Ilirea, start of the new age of the Knowledges.” Then the diamond started spinning. It spun and spun until it shot a solid pillar of white light up into the sky. It shot through the atmosphere, hurtled past the planets, exploded through the kuiper belt, spun through the Milky Way and it smashed into the alien planet of Nar Gazvoda.

One billion aliens escaped on space ships before they saw their beloved planet shatter into a trillion tiny asteroids. They wanted revenge on that planet and they set off toward Earth, following the light that still shone and destroyed neighboring planets. Then, the light hit the oldest star in the universe, which was a trillion miles in circumference.

It started shaking, and then parts of the star started to rumble. It shook, then pieces of the star exploded and the star ended its life in the biggest supernova that sent the spaceships zooming at the speed of sound.

Meanwhile, at the camp, everyone had gotten up, and tensions broke. The campers all lifted Brandon on their backs. They had just arrived at the cabins when they heard a huge BANG, and they witnessed a supernova. The star’s light and streaked the sky red, orange, yellow, and purple. The asteroid belt had been greatly disrupted and the asteroids flew in the direction toward earth.

The campers saw and set Brandon down to get staffs. Then the first asteroids came barreling down and the campers all muttered “Relashio,” and the asteroids reversed and crashed into each other. The meteors were equally as dangerous as the asteroids, because they traveled twice as fast.

Up in Augusta, the rest of the world saw a spectacular meteor shower until it started plummeting through the atmosphere. People screamed and fled. One by one, the meteors plummeted down, crashing and exploding worldwide known landmarks. The Forbidden City, the World Trade Center, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Pyramids of Giza, the Sydney Opera House, the Statue of Liberty, the Big Ben in London, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Blue Domed Church in Santorini, the Great Sphinx of Giza, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal in India, Machu Picchu in Peru, The Burj al Arab Hotel in Dubai, Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Mecca in Saudi Arabia, Agia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, and thousands of other fascinating landmarks that some people will never see.

Every death and destruction of a human of a landmark was a spear in Brandon’s heart. He had been to all those places and yet millions of people might never see one of them. The meteors swirled and crashed into the earth. Then the bigger asteroids came crashing in and a huge eruption of dirt, grass, rock, trees, water, and lava shot out of the ground as the asteroid crashed into the Gulf of Mexico for the second time.

Brandon woke up from his groaning. He was electric-tied onto a mat on the wall. He was in a solid titanium cell. He could hear voices on all sides of the cell. He had the strange sensation that he was hovering over a large fire. It was sweltering in the cell. The cell itself was a oven, and Brandon got the impression whoever put him in the cell wanted to cook him alive. Brandon started struggling against the electric-tied rope and all he got was a painful electric shock up against his ribs. He realized that his legs were both broken, and even if he managed to get off, he would have no chance in finding a way out. He let go and let himself fall into another coma.

When Brandon came fully into his senses, he was in a completely different room. It was decked out with a spa, bed, dinning table, a maple desk and a teleporting closet. Two aliens were whispering in the corner. He struggled against the binds and realized that it was not eletric anymore. He fell limp but then a strange glow started forming in my chest but expanding so rapidly that Brandon felt as if he were going to explode. Then a scream erupted from his mouth and the light burst in a huge beam. The beam erupted into a web and a it started criss cross into a huge circular dome around Brandon.

Then another light shot from his mouth and started twisting itself right the center of the dome. Then a stream of white light collided with the blue light and started spinning. The aliens who were talking had stopped and watched as the light shone ever brillianter than before. Then the light stopped twisting and started solidifying in a spear? No, a staff!? Brandon looked at the staff in bewilderment then the staff rose into Brandon’s outstretched hand and he clasped it hard in his sweating palms.

Then he shouted, “Summonialo Teleporter!” and a teleporter whizzed through the air and landed in Brandon’s other palm. He opened it and yelled the only place that had ever felt like home, Nuanen Welden. He crumpled when he hit the ground because it was so rocky. The place looked deserted and Brandon thought so until a voice rang out.

“Brandon!” A camper came running out of a wrecked cabin. “We were so worried. The aliens took you. How did you escape. You would need a staff — ” The camper’s eyes fell onto the staff topped with the blue swirling sphere.  “Wh-wh-where did you get that staff!?”

“Later. Where are my parents?” Brandon questioned.

“They’re alright. But their current whereabouts in the camp are unknown,” the camper answered. Before the camper could speak, the camper turned white and started speaking the ancient language so fast that all Brandon heard was gibberish. Then, the camper’s eyes turned a ghostly white and projected a beam of light that spoke to Brandon.

“You shall go south in search of peace between aliens and humans. You shall encounter many dangers along the way. You shall find peace in the golden light. Brandon, Elizabeth, Benedict, Harvey, Stanley, Jeffrey, Ronaldo, Amanda, Heather, Judith, Richard, and Benjamin shall go. One person shall perish in his sacrifice for peace for both aliens and humans and the golden light. If you fail, the world will be consumed in darkness and famine. One shall betray the group of ten. Three will be sacrificed on there own will. He, the leader, shall bring his biggest desire to rest by accomplishing it at his end.” The camper collapsed in a heap.

Then, the voice of Brandon’s mom echoed through the campus. “Brandon, Elizabeth, Benedict, Harvey, Stanley, Ronaldo, Amanda, Judith, Richard and Benjamin, please report to the clubhouse immediately for discussion. Bring your staffs along.”

Brandon scrambled over the rocky ground toward the clubhouse. Along the way, more people joined him, running and jumping along to the clubhouse.

Then all ten people pushed on the door and the door swung open with such tremendous force it flew off it’s hinges. The oldest looking one held up an emerald green staff and whispered in a low deep voice, “Reparis Door,” and the door rose into the air and latched itself into the hinges. Then all ten of them crept into the clubhouse, Stanley squeezing Brandon’s arm so hard that it turned purple.

Then, Brandon’s mom’s voice called out through the darkness.

They all raised their staffs (except Brandon) and shot balls of bright, golden light that spewed warmth and a shower of golden sparks. The light illuminated the room and Brandon saw his mom sitting behind a large wooden desk that Brandon suspected was oak and was elegantly carved. A quill was scurrying across, writing exactly what the camper said. Then, the quill exploded and turned into a wax stamper and banged the paper.

Then, Brandon’s mom looked up and said, “So, the group of you have been chosen to start the first quest that has happened in a eon. I want to give you all my knowledge about how to complete the quest. You should know that if you directly walked out of the camp and flew up to the real world, you would find yourself in Augusta, Maine.”

Everyone nodded their heads except Brandon. He thought it was Orlando since he was kidnapped in Orlando and slid down that slide.

There was  a moment of silence before a bell started chiming. Thirteen times? A clock never chimes thirteen times! Then, a sound of chaos met their ears, and Brandon assumed it was a warning bell.

Brandon’s mom stood up and yelled, “Go to Atlanta to find peace!” before they heard the sound of spaceships zooming down from the periwinkle sky.

“RUN!” Stanley yelled. They all scrambled out of the clubhouse and Harvey conjured a shield around them. Campers were battling aliens, and Elizabeth whispered “Ascendium Stairo!” and a long staircase made out clouds appeared. They all sprinted up and into an unrecognizable world. The city was in ruins. Fires were burning and the remaining buildings that were still standing were either leaning at an incredible angle or  had huge chunks torn away or were charred black.

Then Elizabeth tried to conjure a cloud jet but as soon as she had muttered the spell and a cloud started forming, the sky turned red and the cloud exploded into a shower of lava and the team scattered. Harvey conjured a compass from nowhere and said, “That’s south, and we should go south.”

The team started south. They passed ruined cities. They made it to North Carolina before an obstacle came. The team had just entered a ruined city that seemed like Charlotte when they came upon a park that was completely unharmed. The group was tired and sore and all ten of them sat down on benches when the ground started rumbling and a hydra burst out from the ground.

The hydra pelted them with poison but Ronaldo waved his staff and the ground started trembling and geysers erupted straight out of the ground. Water splashed everywhere and the hydra spluttered out a wave of yellow water. The team ran and dodged geysers. Stanley shot fireballs at the hydra. Benedict sent a tornado spinning at the hydra and a ghostly green head went flying into a tree and disintegrated into a shower of sparks. The tree quickly caught fire and sparks were flying. The hydra roared and cracks started appearing on the ground. Amanda froze the ground into slippery ice and started pushing the hydra back with icicles.

By the time the icicles had stopped flying, the hydra was covered in cuts. Then Richard and Judith at the same time, turned the ground into coral and the hydra was poisoned as soon as the coral touched him. Benjamin started wrapping the hydra with lightning and Brandon had no idea what to do so he raised his staff and thought, Please save me, when an orb of light formed at his staff and disintegrated the hydra. The team started whooping.

They arrived at Atlanta after weeks on I 85, when the team was refreshed. Atlanta looked like Charlotte in every way until they realized a mile out of the city, and a circle of landmines surrounded the city. They made their way through until Benedict held up a watch and said, “Goodbye team.” He pressed a button and the mines started exploding.

The team raced through the landmines and sprinted away. On the way, Ronaldo fell and was consumed, and Harvey died while trying to punch Benedict. The team of seven watched as the fire advanced on Atlanta. Suddenly, spaceships descended and the team quickly found themselves surrounded by aliens. They battled desperately through the apocalypse and found themselves in the courtyard of Brandon’s old boarding school.

The world was at its final stand. Disease, war and destruction were consuming earth. Most of Asia and Africa had fallen. The Asians and Africans that had escaped to the other continents (including Antarctica) found the other continents as bruised and battered as their own. Brandon and his fellow magicians sent spells flying into the sky and ricocheting off stones and trees with their staffs. They were in the courtyard of the boarding school Brandon went to a whole year ago. It was a alien apocalypse. Every second another magician went down. Then, a golden light burst from the front of Brandon’s staff and made a shield around him. The shots from the blasters just turned into golden light. He suddenly remembered what the camper told him. The quest for the golden light! The Prophecy of the light.  The camper spoke to him four weeks ago.

“One person shall perish in his sacrifice for peace and the golden light. One shall betray the group of ten. Five will be sacrificed through their own will. The leader shall bring his biggest desire to rest by accomplishing it at his end.”

He was going to die. He was to bring peace to the warring world and never see it. He told himself, “Make your mom proud by doing a recognizable act to salvage the world,” and he let the power he was channeling from his knowledge diamond go. For a second, he was engulfed in a golden light so brilliant that he thought he was in a solid golden coffin.

Stanley was overrun with aliens when he saw Brandon rise into the air with a golden shield and explode. The light shot a beam into the air and the world started repairing. The light picked up the ruins of cities and rebuilt them again. It regrew burnt crops and healed destroyed forests and with it, brought peace. The aliens slowly started fading and soon, all that was left of them were melted guns and a couple of blasters. The remaining group rushed toward where Brandon was but all that was left was the knowledge diamond. Elizabeth started crying, Amanda and Stanley silently started grieving over their friend. They opened up a portal and teleported to Nuanen Welden. The whole Nuanen Welden was cheerful until they found out that Brandon was gone. The funeral was held that day and all the knowledge diamond was burned. Everyone was crying. For the funeral, Stanley made a speech.

“Brandon was a good friend of mine. We went to the same boarding school and he made me his assistant last year. So much has happened in a year. We grew up and matured together. We built a teleporter, a chemical vacuum and a lie detector together. We fought through aliens together. Brandon was always an honorable and loyal friend. He helped rebuild the world by sacrificing himself. We were together. The one thing I learned from our friendship is that you are more powerful when you are together.”

Royal Disaster

        

“I’d like to welcome Erica Middleton to this class,” Mrs. Evans, a 7th grade homeroom teacher at Riverside Middle School, announced on the first day back from Winter Break.

A timid girl stood up at the front of the room, shivering at the thought of even standing in front of her class, let alone speaking to the students sitting at their desks.

“Hi? I’m Erica Middleton, and I moved from England?” Erica spoke softly with a slight British accent.

Another girl with a short bob of blonde hair spoke up, “Um, Erica, do you even know if your name is Erica or not?”

“Lacie, when did you become the teacher?” Mrs. Evans asked sharply. She glared at Lacie Kibbel, the leader of the popular group.

“What? I was just pointing out that she should have told us rather than asked us.” Lacie rolled her eyes.

Erica

I knew from the beginning that Lacie was not going to like me. After all, I was shy and unpopular. Probably the exact opposite of her. Lunch came so slowly, all the teachers kept asking me questions. Like, where did I move from? Why did I move? What school did I use to go to? When I answered, every time, Lacie Kibbel snickered. Which, of course, made practically half of the class snicker.

But then lunch finally came. I deliberately sat at the table farthest from Lacie’s group. So I sat at an empty seat where I thought I was safe from other people. I was wrong.

“Is anyone sitting here?” a girl named Brianna asked. “And you’re Erica, right?”

“Yes. And are you… Brianna?” I asked back. “Are you friends with Lacie?”

“Yes, I am Brianna and no, I am not friends with Lacie. She claimed I was her worst enemy in 5th grade. I think she forgot about it a week after,” Brianna ranted. She sat down next to me. “I hope you aren’t like her, she is so…annoying, popular, and stuck up.”

Across the room, I could see Lacie and her popular group looking at me and pointing. I pulled out my phone and saw Lacie’s smug expression turn into a shocked one. I could see her mouth forming the words, “She has an iPhone 6S?” I laughed to myself softly. Then I texted my cousin, Kate. Kate Middleton, the world-famous Duchess of Cambridge. I know, you’re probably really shocked right now –– or… not. Her dad is my dad’s older brother, so that’s why we have the same last name. I texted Kate, about my ‘situation’, and she was really sympathetic.

“Who was that?” Brianna asked, curious.

“Oh, just my cousin,” I answered nonchalantly. Then conversation turned to the usual. None of were us talking, just eating in silence.

Soon enough, recess came. As I stepped outside into the frigid winter air, Lacie strode up to me, sneering.

“Oh, were you just… let’s see… texting your dear mum? Who had to save her salary for years just to get you that phone? Huh, Erica?” Lacie taunted, as I debated with myself to tell her about Kate.

Don’t do it, don’t do it… I begged myself. So I didn’t. I walked away and began to jump rope.

Lacie

“Hi Erica” I saw my best friend, Sage Blick, yell to the new girl. “Wanna do a jump roping contest? And I like your shirt, it’s really pretty.”

“Of course!” Erica replied. “Your shirt is pretty, too.”

Lots of my other friends followed Sage’s lead and complimented Erica on her designer clothes. None of them have complimented me on my clothes. Mine are much nicer.

I strode up to them and eyed Sage. “Um, I’m pretty sure Sage doesn’t want to talk to you, she’s just… faking it. Right, Sage?” I nudged her –– more like shoved her –– and she finally agreed with me. Was I seeing things, or was there a flicker of disappointment in her eyes?

During the next period, I had a little talk with Sage. Long story short, she was glad that she didn’t have to be in the popular group. Seriously? And worst of all, she went to hang out with Erica.

“Lacie, do you have any good book recommendations?” Miranda Jis asked me. That girl loves to read, and she can be, well, pretty crazy without a book. Anyways, we ended up talking about a lot of books. So then I recruited her as my new best friend. Of course she said yes because my puppy-dog eyes and blinding white smile and good fashion sense are pretty hard to resist.

I had expected that, by the end of the day, Sage would have come up to me and apologized. She didn’t. She almost seemed to like her new life as a loser was better than when she got special treatment as my best friend.

In Social Studies, Ms. Norman gave us partners for the Lewis and Clark project. I got paired with Sage, and Miranda was paired with Erica. Why do all the bad things have to happen to me?

“Ms. Norman?” I asked sweetly. “Can Miranda and I be partners, and can Erica and Sage be partners? Please?”

“No, Lacie. You must do the project with Sage, and Erica must do it with Miranda. Understand?” Mrs. Norman replied curtly.

“Yeah… Sure, whatever you say…” I muttered, rolling my eyes.

Erica

Miranda and I got together to brainstorm for our project. She really is nice, even though she’s Lacie’s best friend. It really is hard to believe that she would ever be as mean and as harsh as Lacie, since Lacie trained all her followers to be mean and harsh, like herself.

So, on Friday, Miranda and I hung out at my house. We got some work done, but mostly talked and laughed together.

“Erica, you’re so nice. I wish that we could be best friends,” Miranda said thoughtfully. “I know, you and Sage and Brianna could become part of the popular group, and we could be friends. That way, all your friends and my friends could form a super mega awesome group.”

I smiled weakly. Did she not know that Lacie was basically my mortal enemy? But, oh well, she liked me, and I would do anything to make sure I didn’t get another enemy.

“Uh, sure.” I faked cheeriness and smiled, but inside I was thinking: Oh no, please don’t do this to me, please don’t. Don’t you know that your new best friend is not nice? That she hates me? Please, Miranda.

But Miranda seemed oblivious to all this and left happily. Then I went to contemplate what I needed to do on Monday. Maybe I could fake being sick, or tell Miranda I didn’t want to. I didn’t want Lacie to tease me 24/7. Thousands and thousands of possibilities popped into my head. Then suddenly a small voice at the back of my brain woke up.

Hey, wait a moment., the voice yelled at my thoughts. Since when does Lacie Kibbel control what you do and don’t do? Last time I checked, you’re supposed to think for yourself, Erica.

“Fine,” I wanted to yell. “Fine, I’ll think for myself, now stop bothering me.”

On the dreaded Monday, I walked into homeroom trying to look confident. I guess I did a pretty decent job, since Lacie whispered in my ear, “Think you can overcome the popular group, huh? Well, you can’t.”

Later that day at lunch, Lacie didn’t miss any chance to insult me. When I was buying a slice of pizza, Lacie sneered, “Ah, I see that you don’t really care about your appearance –– pizza is really fattening, you know. I got a salad.” Lacie waved her salad in the air. “But on second thought, pizzas are the cheapest meal, so that’s probably the only thing your poor mum can afford.” The kids in the cafeteria gaped open-mouthed at us. Some of the popular group was glaring at me, but what did I do? Just bring out the nasty side of Lacie?

“Well sorry, Lacie, but I’m pretty sure that last Friday, you got and extra cheesy pizza and a double order of deep fried french fries. Is that true?” I asked, almost mockingly.

“Oh… Well, you must have seen one of your BFFs,” Lacie said. Then she said something that sounded a lot like ‘Sage Blick’, and turned back to me. “You got that meal. Didn’t you, Sage?” Lacie smirked, as Sage turned a shade of bubblegum pink.

“You know what? I think I have a headache. I’ll go to the nurse,” I scooted out of the cafeteria as quickly as I could.

Before I left, I heard Lacie howl with laughter. “You’re admitting defeat, aren’t you? Poor peasant girl.”

Lacie

After Erica left, I went back to eating my salad in peace. But I never thought that those losers would have the guts to stand up to me.

“Seriously?” Asked Sage. “Lacie, I was your best friend for four years. Those first two years, you were the greatest friend I could imagine. You were so nice. I never imagined that you would be so rude to another classmate, but those last two years… I didn’t see a speck of that old type of you. Nothing meant more to you than popularity. It surprised me. I would gladly be your best friend, if you ever became your old self again.” By the time Sage ended her speech, she was close to tears.

“Seriously, you’ve been really mean to Erica, Lacie,” Brianna spoke up. “I know that you love your popularity, but seriously? Unless you actually become nice, not your fakey-fakey type of nice, Erica’s going to become the new popular girl. And… you’re going to be out of the game.”

“Oh well,” I stuck my nose in the air and puffed up my chest. “I’m pretty sure that you two and your poor friend Erica will never overthrow my popular group.”

All of a sudden, to my surprise, one of my loyal followers decided to go to the loser’s side. I gasped, then quickly regained my composure. What was going on? Well, at least I still had the majority of the grade on my side, the right side, so I thought.

One by one, my popular group walked over to the loser’s side quietly. Soon, only Miranda and I were left.

“Miranda, I knew you would stick by me, we’re BFFs forever,” I put my fist in the air, ready for a fist bump. But Miranda shook her head.

“I’m really sorry Lacie, but…” Miranda started inching toward the loser’s side.

“What is going on here?” I exploded. “Somebody explain, right now.”

“Um, well, I guess that I think Sage has a point?” One of my former buddies mumbled. “And, I guess, you should be nicer to Erica?” I glared at her.

Then Miranda, the biggest traitor of all, started talking.

“Um, Lacie? I think that everyone here thinks that you’re being way too nasty to Erica. She doesn’t deserve any of that. I know that Erica is actually really nice. Please, Lacie, please just give her a chance.” Miranda asked, on behalf of all the losers.

“No way.” I practically yelled. “She comes from a poor family. If we were in England, we would say that she is a poor peasant girl. Why would I want to befriend her?”

Sage just sighed, “Lacie, you are hopeless.”

Erica

The next day, as soon as I sat down at my usual lunch table, the whole popular group swarmed around me. What was going on? I felt just a bit of sympathy towards Lacie –– having the popular crowd practically worship you one day, and have them ditch you the next. I had no idea what had happened.

“Um, Erica?” Lacie asked, her voice sugary sweet. I knew immediately that this niceness was all fake. “Can I sit here?”

“Sure,” I replied. It was the least I could do for Lacie, after all, she just got ditched by her so-called friends.

Lacie sat down gingerly, smoothing her skirt down. She was still rude to me, but her ego seemed to have been cut in half.

At lunch, it it felt like the first day of school for me all over again. Questions were asked over and over again, but this time by different students. Only Lacie was quiet.

I, meanwhile, was texting Kate. In case you don’t remember, Kate Middleton is my cousin. Like, the duchess.

Erica – Hi, just BTW, Lacie doesn’t

seem to hate me as much now.

I dunno what happened.

I think I should tell her about

how you’re my cousin.

Kate – Awesome If you decide to

tell her, just don’t say it like a big

deal. Just casually. Tell me their

reactions.

By the end of the lunch period, several questions about my family came up. I told them all about Mom and Dad. But I didn’t mention Kate at all. Then, finally, at the end of lunch, I stood up to dump my garbage out, and said, “ooh, and by the way? My cousin is Duchess Kate Middleton.”

That practically freaked everyone out, especially Lacie.

“What?” Lacie screeched, horrified. “You? That’s impossible. You’re a liar, and your family is poor. It is absolutely impossible.” She glared at me, her posture radiating hatred.

I shrugged: “Oh well –– if you don’t want to believe me, then don’t. See ya.” I started towards class, but Lacie stopped me by pulling on the back of my sweater.

“Erica Middleton, you are a liar and a fraud. If you actually pay attention, you will notice that nobody believes you. Just tell the truth,” Lacie snapped. “Just admit that your family is unbelievably poor. After all, it’s the truth.”

“Well,” I replied. “Like I said before –– don’t believe me if you don’t want to. Your choice. I might come to school with proof tomorrow or the day after that, Lacie. You might just want to wait and see.”

“I don’t need proof to know that you are lying, Erica,” Lacie snarled.

“Okay, Lacie. I don’t care if you believe me or not. Just drop the topic,” I said without turning around. Then I walked to class.

Lacie

Erica just said to “drop the topic” But I can’t, really. All my life, I have obsessed about the royals, but I’ve never met one. I have always wanted to be one. But then Erica said that she was related to a royal. More specifically, Kate Middleton. Like, she is absolutely so pretty, and so perfect, and I really want to be just like her.

But, that proved my suspicions. As soon as she said, on the first day, that she was Erica Middleton, I had a sneaking suspicion that she was related to her. After all, their last names were the same, and they both were from England.

That night I went to bed, but it took forever to go to sleep. I tossed and turned, thinking: What if Erica was related to Kate Middleton? Then what would happen to my empire? What would happen to me? I thought worriedly. As I fell asleep, I hoped that the next day would be be a lot better.

The next day, as I walked into homeroom, I noticed the slight chatter. Mrs. Evans saw me come in, and said: “Oh, hi, Lacie. Erica told us that a special guest from her family was coming to visit. She’s arriving in a couple of minutes.”

I nodded, having a feeling that it was Kate Middleton.

A couple minutes later, an announcement was made for the 7th grade to go to the auditorium. Erica was going to meet her guests with two friends, for an up-close meet-and-greet. She, of course, chose Sage and Brianna. I was so jealous. Even though I never wanted to be friends with Erica ever, I still wanted to meet Kate Middleton.

When we got to the auditorium, Brianna and Sage sat down excitedly with us. They were whispering to my former friends. I could make out some of what they were saying.

“You’ll be surprised,” Sage said. “She is even prettier in real life.”

“Yeah,” Brianna added. “She even signed the Polaroid photo that Mrs. Norman took of me, Sage, Erica, and her.”

Then, finally, Kate Middleton came out. It was so awesome, like a dream come true, I was sooo happy. Well, until I remembered that Erica had made it happen.

“Hello,” Duchess Kate said, in the most gorgeously awesome British accent, “It is a pleasure to meet all of you. My cousin Erica speaks of you so often. Your school, Riverside Middle School is just so beautiful, and I’m sure that the teachers here are so very kind.”

Then she went on and on and on about living in Great Britain, and yada yada yada. Instead of listening, I looked at her absolutely awesome designer outfit. She was wearing a super pretty navy and white striped sweater, and skinny jeans. Also, her high heels were, just, fabulous.

Now, as she started walking around, Erica started to hand out pictures of the royal family: Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Prince William, Princess Kate, and baby Prince George. They weren’t signed, but oh well, they were still awesome.

When she finally got to me, Princess Kate asked me, “Are you Lacie?”

“Yeah,” I replied. Erica probably told her all about me. Of course, it probably was super, um, negative stuff. But still, she knew me from my face.

“I love your outfit. Erica told me you weren’t the nicest to her, but to your close friends you were really nice. And I think that you probably should branch out more –– even to kids that you don’t want to be friends with. Be nice.” Kate Middleton said to me. My idol was having a conversation with me. I knew that she was vaguely hinting that I should have been nicer to Erica, but my main focus was: Omg, Kate Middleton is talking to me, and she actually said she loved my outfit. All I was wearing was an oversized lime green hoodie, and some jeans.

Then, I actually thought about what she said. She told me to try to be nicer to Erica. Even though Kate was doing it for Erica’s good, I couldn’t erase it from my head –– Kate Middleton told me to be nicer to her. So of course I was going to do it. But, I would be forcing myself –– I never wanted to (and probably never will) be nice to Erica.

I don’t know why, but I just despised Erica from the beginning. Probably because she was super pretty, and Sage liked her so much. She was the best at everything. Her life was definitely absolutely perfect. It would be so fun to be her. Glitz, glam, and glitter. She must be so happy. What about maids or servants or something? She should have that stuff in her house, shouldn’t she? After all, her family is royalty. How come she got lucky, so that she could be related to Kate Middleton? How come I couldn’t be Erica?

“Lacie,” Mrs. Kim, the math teacher snapped. “Concentrate.”

“Okay,” I replied meekly. I worked on one problem, then stopped to doodle on the margins of my paper. Soon enough, Mrs. Kim spotted me doodling again.

“Miss Kibbel, I’d like to see you outside. Now,” Mrs. Kim frowned.

“Yeah what?” I asked, glaring. It was so embarrassing to be called out of class, especially since the teacher was Mrs. Kim. She is the most carefree teacher in like, ever.

“Lacie, I’m disappointed in you. I thought you were a good math student.” Mrs. Kim reprimanded me.

“Well, I guess life hasn’t been so nice to me, and I know I need to concentrate?” I said Hopefully, Mrs. Kim would let me off the hook.

“No, Lacie. You have to concentrate, and life’s not fair. Your excuse is not valid. If I see you doing that again, you will be sent straight to the principal’s office. Do you understand?”

“Yeah sure, whatever,” I shrugged.

Later that day during lunch, I sat at my usual spot at the popular table. If Erica wasn’t stopping me, I wasn’t going to stop. I was sitting next to Miranda, and we were sitting across from Erica, Brianna, and Sage. All the other girls sat at another table, because Erica asked them to. It wasn’t like they wanted to, Erica had complete and total control over them.

“Guess what, Erica?” Sage said to Erica, obviously wanting me to overhear. “Today in math, Lacie got called out of the room, by Mrs. Kim. Didn’t you, Lacie?”

“Wow, Mrs. Kim? She’s literally the nicest teacher ever,” Erica gasped, surprised.

“Yup. She got in serious trouble. I heard that she got close to seeing the principal.” Brianna added.

“I did not,” I interrupted indignantly. “Just because you’re BFFs with a girl whose life is perfect, and she’s related to royalty does not mean that you get to insult me, Sage. I’m not sure if you’ve realized it, but you’re kinda popular. And I’m not. You shouldn’t be picking on a non-popular person seriously.

“Well, Lacie, that’s basically you,” Erica said, as if it was the most obvious thing ever. Which, by the way, it wasn’t.

“Well Erica, I don’t think that you should be part of this conversation because your life is absolutely perfect. You’ve never experienced what I’m going through right now. Just saying, you have everything you could possibly want. And you’re so greedy, you want even more. And of course, your parents spoil you. Don’t hide it, because it’s––”

Not the truth,” said Erica. “Do you really think that my parents are as carefree as yours? Have you seriously not thought about me as an actual human?”

I shrugged. “Well yeah, duh, you’re a human. Like, everybody knows that.” What was the big deal? She was still related to Kate Middleton.

“Have you ever moved across the ocean, and had to leave all your friends? I’m telling you, I’ve cried myself to sleep practically every single night since I moved to Riverside,” Erica looked at me with tears in her eyes.

“Yeah, so? It’s not like you don’t have friends here,” I pointed at Sage and Brianna.

“Do you know how much it hurts to be insulted over and over again by the same person? I’m telling you, it is like you’re being poked with multiple needles hundreds of times in a row.”

“So? That’s happened to me. It doesn’t hurt,” I sneered. Out of excuses yet? To be honest, I had never been poked like that before, but…

“My parents are strict as can be. The reason? My cousin. They don’t want me to grow up thinking that I’m royalty, because I’m not. My cousin is, and I’m not spoiled. Kate Middleton sends me all these clothes. My parents would never do that. Ever,” Erica sighed. “Convinced yet?”

The other table was watching us, and so were the boys.

“Clothes? Seriously? Your parents don’t buy you clothes?” I screeched.

“They do, but only the necessities,” Erica said sadly. I began to feel a pang of sympathy for Erica.

“So Kate got you every expensive thing you own?” I asked, in awe.

“Yup,” Erica nodded. “And, are your parents stay-at-home?”

“Only Mom,” I replied. What did that have to do with anything?

“Well, both of my parents work full-time. It’s not like I sit around chilling all day after school. I wash the dishes, wash the clothes, clean the house, and so much more. Do you do that, Lacie?” Erica asked. Now, I felt full on bad for her. She had to do practically everything in her house. I couldn’t imagine doing any of the things she does.

“I’m sorry, Erica,” I said genuinely. “I really mistook you for a princess, like your cousin. I guess… well, you’re not.”

Erica looked at me with an expression that was a mixture between amusement and annoyance. It was as if she was saying, Well, isn’t that obvious?

“Your family isn’t even richer than mine. So, I guess I hope that you’ll accept my apology. I know you probably can’t trust me too much, but please, just give me a chance,” I asked.

After I realized that Erica was actually a normal person, I just felt that she was so much… better than me in so many ways. She was just… herself. She didn’t care what others thought about her. I admired that. Maybe that was why I just hated her, she was so much more comfortable in her own skin.

“You’ll have to build up my trust first. If you really want me to be your friend. Seriously,” Erica replied. She wasn’t exactly forgiving me, but it was a step.

“Good morning, everybody.” Mrs. Evans said, grabbing our focus.

“Good morning, Mrs. Evans,” we chorused.

“Today’s project is a partner project –– and you are to write a 4-paragraph essay about the definition of bullying, and what you will do if you see somebody getting bullied. I’ll assign partners. So… Sage and Brianna, Miranda and Bridget, Erica and Lacie,” Mrs. Evans rattled off a list of names. As soon as I heard my name and Erica’s together, I froze.

Erica? And me? Was Mrs. Evans blind? Couldn’t she see that Erica and I were not friends? At all? I thought that she was trying to be a ‘kind and thoughtful homeroom teacher. That was not kind or thoughtful at all. It was as if she wanted to put us together and torture us. I could see that Erica was upset too. Finally, she turned to look at me and shrugged. I sighed. If Mrs. Evans wanted us to work together, then we had to.

“Now… you can get together with your partners and start working. If you don’t finish, you’ll have more time tomorrow,” Mrs. Evans smiled. “And, just saying, this will help the Board of Education with the anti-bullying system, they’re your audience. If you have any questions, just come up to me.”

“So…” Erica said. “I guess we’ll have to work together.”

“I guess,” I replied. “So if we see bullying, we report it to an adult at home or at school. Right?”

“Yeah. The definition is when someone repeatedly picks on someone else because of a certain characteristic,” Erica added. “So, I guess we’ll start writing.”

She took out a piece of lined paper and started working on our essay in her super neat handwriting. I wanted to compliment her about it, but I didn’t know how.

“I… like your… um… handwriting,” I blurted.

“Thanks, Lacie.” Erica smiled genuinely. “Yours is nice too.”

“Let’s focus. Do you want to write the whole thing? Or should we take turns?” I asked.

“I’ll write,” Erica replied. “So, the intro paragraph should be about the main thing. In this essay, you will learn about the definition of bullying and what students will do if we see someone getting bullied. Hopefully, this essay will help with the anti-bullying system.”

“Great. Next paragraph is about the definition of bullying,” I added. “So… From our past experience, bullying is when a person repeatedly picks on someone else because of a certain characteristic that they have. For example, whether or not someone wears glasses, or has braces. Something that makes bullies bully people is when they feel insecure about themselves.”

“And sometimes, the bully has been bullied by someone else, so he or she will bully others.”

All of a sudden, a thought flashed through my mind. Even though it was vague, it was specific enough for me to know that, even though I didn’t want it to, the thought was true. It was completely true. I was a bully. I was the one person who repeatedly picked on someone else because of a certain characteristic. I had bullied Erica Middleton. For a completely invalid reason, I had picked on Erica from the first day she had come to Riverside Middle School. She had made me feel insecure about myself from the very beginning. The way that Mrs. Evans cherished her as a student just irked me. There was no point in hiding it –– I was the bully that made Erica’s life miserable. I could feel myself shaking.

“Lacie,” Erica said in alarm. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

“I…” I whispered. My eyes filled up with tears. “I’m sorry. I’m a bully. I’m nothing but a bully. I shouldn’t even be writing an essay about how to prevent bullying. I’m a bully. I’m worthless.”

“No you’re not, Lacie.” Erica exclaimed. “You’re who you are, and nobody can change that. Lacie, you’re yourself. You shouldn’t be intimidated by someone else, you’re special in your own way.”

“Well,” I frowned. “I guess.”

* * *

Erica

On the last day of school, Lacie and I hugged goodbye.

“Bye, Lacie.” I called as we went our separate ways. “Be sure to write.”

“Bye, Erica,” Lacie hugged me. “Thanks for being such a good friend. After all I did to you…”

“You’re a great person, Lacie. I probably haven’t acknowledged it too much, but you’re a great friend. Just be comfortable in your own skin,” I smiled reassuringly. “See you next year.”

“Yeah, see you,” Lacie called. “All I wanted you to know was that… you’re not at all what I expected.”

Michael Gets Sucked Into A Game

One day, Michael had to do chores but he didn’t want to. He had to wash the dishes, but instead he went into his room and played video games. His mom and dad were talking on the phone. Sometimes, usually on Wednesdays, his parents would stay at home to take care of him, but the rest of the time they were at work. He only played video games when they were at work. His parents made work calls in the basement where it was quiet, so Michael made sure to play video games in his room, which was out of earshot of the basement.

So, he went to his room and started playing the video game “Survive” on his computer. The point of the game is to survive through obstacles. There’s one big mission and a bunch of other smaller missions. You start out as any person the computer chooses, and then there’s a path you have to follow. There’s also a wall, which is twenty feet tall and five feet wide. Then you have a choice of what obstacle to try and beat, and then you have to get over all your obstacles before you can finish the mission. At the end, there’s a giant glowing star that contains all the secrets of the world. There are forty nine missions and the one big mission in total, and Michael had just finished twenty five percent of all the missions.

Then, while Michael was playing, he got sucked into the video game. He felt his body getting smaller and smaller. And then he just suddenly appeared in the world of the video game. There was a stone path inside the trees. He went down the path and then tried to go through the obstacles.

When he saw the wall, he tried to climb it but it was too steep. He tried to walk around it, but he was too tired. He wanted to give up, but he didn’t — he really wanted to go over the wall. He had the choice to make stairs, make rope, or just climb the wall. He tried climbing the wall but it didn’t work because it was too tall. He tried to use stairs but it took a really long time and he really wanted to get over. Finally, he chose rope, and climbed up and over the wall.

Michael thought about how he was going to complete the other missions. He was kind of scared. He’d done a few of the missions so he knew what was coming up next. After a while of walking, he got to the next mission: a bridge with some lava under it. You have to cross the bridge without falling into the lava. He was very scared. He wanted to go home but did not know how. He had to finish the mission before he could go home. He went to a factory and got some iron. And then he wanted to build it onto the bridge so that he could cross, but then he realized that the iron would melt from the heat of the lava. So he used bedrock instead, which worked out perfectly and allowed him to cross the bridge. Michael was proud. After that, he’d finished 39 missions out of 49 missions. When he started the 40th mission he saw a giant spider web and didn’t want to get stuck in it. So, he just went around it, which was kind of weird, because you’re supposed to have choices and choose one. Anyway, when he got to the 49th mission, he heard all the secrets of the world.

  When Michael got all the secrets of the world, he felt lonely and wanted to go back home. No one was with him, and no one could help him. Then he realized that he shouldn’t play video games all day. He missed his parents.

After he thought that, his body grew larger and larger. Suddenly, he appeared at his desk, in front of his computer. At first, his parents were really worried that he had run away, but then they were really angry because he’d scared them.

“You scared us. And now you have to do chores all day!”

“Okay,” he said.

The Heist

           

Prologue

Jack Desi Jr. was sprinting as fast as he could through an alleyway; behind him a rather large man was chasing him. He had just taken a small bag of skittles from his grocery store.
“Venir ici bask coquin!” If you don’t speak French, that means, “Come back here, you scoundrel!”

Jack vaulted over a wall and landed in a small garden. He kept running, and soon he arrived at his own house. He told his dad what happened. He knew his dad would not be mad, he never was. He found his dad lifting weights in the garage.

“Wow, if you think that’s cool then listen to this story…”

***

After weeks of planning it was finally going into operation. We had planned with backup plans that went through the whole alphabet, twice. In case you are wondering, my crew and I were going to throw the biggest heist in history.
“Alright guys, let’s go over the plan on more time. Matt, you’re going into the museum and staying in the pre-hollowed base that we built earlier right? Right.
“Claire, you’re gonna invite the guard in sector B6 to a bar downtown, ‘kay? Eric, please don’t mess up the fake security footage. That could land us all a spot behind bars for up to 100 years!

“Carlos, when you blow a hole in the vault wall use as little explosive as possible, noise could attract guards and that would be terrible. Wheels, have the bullet proof van ready. Now Jose, have the fake van ready. Drive it over the edge of the dam. At the LAST minute, open your parachute. We want the cops to think we’re dead. Now everyone, get ready.”

They seemed relatively calm, except Eric, but this was his first big heist so I couldn’t blame him.

This was going so smoothly. We had even done dry runs at the warehouses in the abandoned parts of town. I could see Carlos packing C4 into his bag (he was a heavily built man with a thin beard), Jose strapping on his base jumping suit. Wheels was putting on his driving gloves and doing meditation to relieve his stress. “Now, masks everyone.” Since this was the biggest heist in history we decided to wear clown masks. We would be known as… THE CLOWN GANG. Now Wheels had gotten our van running. Before long we were arriving at the service entrance of the museum.
“At ten o’clock… we move in.” This reminded me of my past… oh, my very first big robbery, it was wondrous. I had robbed a jewel emporium. I can still smell the gunsmoke and burnt rubber of my tires. The cops had a road block about a 100 feet from my speeding car. It was at that moment that I veered into the woods and into a river. I floated down stream I then hit a rock and climbed out and ran away. Robbing always gave me an adrenaline rush that I didn’t get doing other things.

As I daydreamed, Carlos reminded me, “Boss, it’s ten o’clock.”

I thanked him and said, “Move in.”  We walked toward the door as planned. Matt opened it from the inside. We all looked pretty creepy sneaking around in our clown masks. “Carlos, go to the vault.”

He knew where it was, we had spent hours pouring over maps of the museum. As he arrived at the vault I saw the last guard disappear with Claire to that bar. I looked over to see Carlos running towards me.

“DUCK!” he said. A split second after those words, a shock wave plowed me backwards. I was fine, and as promised the vault door had a smoldering hole in it. I stepped into the vault. It was heaven for any thief. It was a mess of priceless jewels, artwork, and artifacts. We started stuffing it into sacks as fast as we could. By now the guards had arrived at the scene of the crime. We ran to the roof; we had expected some guards to still be in the building and had come up with a plan to escape, which we were about to execute. As we arrived at the roof, Eric pulled a gun out and pointed it  at me and the rest of the crew.

“Jack, stop now, I’m with the police!”

“Eric,” I said calmly, “You know I have the guts to shoot you, yet you don’t. I trusted you Eric. You were part of this team.” I didn’t want to do this but I had to.

Carlos handed me a gun which I took, but kept it behind my back. The wind from the police helicopter whipped my hair around. I pulled out the gun and time seemed to slow down as my finger wrapped around the trigger. I took careful aim, and pulled. Eric went flying of the roof, his bulletproof vest had saved him and he landed in a bush, but he was stunned.

Then I heard a voice from the helicopter say, “JACK DAISI! STAND DOWN!”

“NEVER!” I shouted back. I was doing this for a dirtbike daredevil, and Zara, my fiance. We had met a demolition derby someplace in Texas. Fortunately, she approved of my line of work and thought it was very mysterious. Then my crew and I jumped of the roof and onto a mat we had placed there earlier. We sprinted to a van. Wheels hopped in the drivers seat.
“Go, Go, Go” I shouted.

We drove off into the night. The cops were soon on our tail, a roadblock was put up but Wheels just rammed it and kept on driving. We got to our secret base in northern Canada. It turns out the old saying is wrong, Crime does pay!   

 

EPILOGUE
Jack Daisi took his share of the loot and moved to France where he bought a small mansion in Provence. he later started a small family with Zara had one son who is now eight. They led a easy going life and Jack retired from his life of crime.

Claire Moji stayed in N.Y  and bought a brownstone in Brooklyn. She has stayed single (so far). She has a current profession as a bartender.

Eric Wilson is alive but is recovering in a Swedish rehab center. The doctors say he is making steady progress and will be out by 2018.

Carlos Brenes moved to Mexico where he used his explosive skills to help immigrants get past the wall after he blows holes in it.

Adam Smith (a.k.a. Wheels) took his share of the money and opened a meditation place in San Francisco. He is living in a studio apartment.

And finally Jose gave up his life of crime and became a base jumping instructor.

Island of the Flins

Jack

It was a dark and stormy night. Boom! Thunder shook the earth. A tree five feet away caught on fire. All I could ever remember was being scared, my Ma dying when I was two, and my Pa going away to find another place besides this one. He never came back. Nobody ever came back. With only my six year old sister to keep me company I learned to hunt, survive and stay strong, however the fear always stayed with me. The fear of getting bitten by a shark or sacrificed by the Flins — a tribe of people so crazy they sacrifice one person a year to please their gods. I was a Flin when I was two, but then the Flins decided to sacrifice my annoying sister who had just been born. My Ma couldn’t let it happen so she sacrificed herself for little baby Zoe. My Pa then took Zoe and I to a cave, away from the Flins.

Boom! The second bang brought me back to life. I looked around, scared, the fear having never left me, then I turned around and sprinted east towards the family cave. I suspected the Flins were waiting by the trees of the hammock that Zoe and I slept in. The family cave had at least both shelter from the rain and protection from the Flins. Hah, no more Flin troubles tonight, or so I thought.

When I got to the Ocean it was fully dark. I lifted the vines covering an old canoe with its paint chipped and wood splintered, and then I slid it soundly into the water. I paddled maybe seventy-five or so meters. I stood on a tall rock, however this was no ordinary rock, for it was a hidden cave, the family cave home, except for the two rotting bodies in the back.

I dreamed about Zach. He had always been the greatest brother ever, or so I tried remembering. He was 15 back then. I never had to be strong when he had been alive. He had no fear. I had fear because he had no fear. I remember the shark bit his head off for lunch! I wanted to commit suicide too back then, now that both my mother and brother had died, but Pa held me back. Now with Pa gone on a month long expedition that he did not return from, the only reason I didn’t sacrifice myself to the Flins or jump into the ocean was because I had to look after Zoe. I could not lose another family member or I’d be alone with only the Flins to keep me company. Then it hit me: Zoe! Where was Zoe? Then I snapped awake.

Zoe

“Where is he, that no good scoundrel, of a trouble maker, of a brother. I swear he is trying to starve me. Well with no dinner I better get to bed,” I told Mango my pet parrot. As I lay down staring at the stars I thought about the huge meal Jack was probably forging as a surprise combination of both dinner and breakfast. I sighed. Nothing was wrong, maybe he was just sleeping with mom and Zach in the family cave. Brrr, that place gave me the creeps. I closed my eyes and counted parrots who looked like Mango. I loved Mango. I dreamed about my last birthday, when my dad went on another expedition and got me Mango. Jack got a knife. Good times, I thought. Good times. Then I was awakened by the sound of crackling fire and the burnt smell of smoke.

I looked down. The Flins were burning the tree! I climbed down just in time but the ape skin I was wearing around my body got slightly burned. I may have escaped the fire but I did not escape the Flins when they piled on top of me, I wanted to bite like a shark, trick like a fox, but I did not because that’s what the Flins did, and no matter if they sacrificed me or my brother, I am not a Flin.

I woke up chained to the ground by a tree stump. This was torture. I knew something the Flins wanted. This was torture at its worst level. I knew this torture. In the five years I was a Flin I went to school where I learned about the Flins’ savage ways. Torture was one of them, and this was the Flins favorite kind of torture.

A crate of ants was placed to the ground on my left. Then the Leader of the Flins, who every Flin just called “Leader,” stood over me and asked me where my father went. I knew I was in trouble as soon as he said that. I had no idea where my father went. My only chance of being set free was to make up a believable lie. However, I had to act like my father told me never to tell where he was going. This meant I would have to survive the first round of torture.

I closed my eyes and shook my head. The Leader let about fifty ants out and poured a jar of honey on me. I never liked honey much. Jack loved it, he said it was sweet. I thought honey was bittersweet. Despite my protests the Flins loved honey, and they loved to use it in this torture. I thought pouring the honey on might actually be more scary then when the ants started to slowly eat me alive. I was wrong. It was just the first few seconds when I thought up a lie to use. I said that my Pa really had never left the island and he was just hiding from the Flins. The Flins did not believe this lie and the Leader poured half the ant farm on top of me. I was too worn out to think and I said the one truth I did know. I blurted out that my Pa was really just trying to find the bigger island.

The Leader stared at me then said, “Ok, I believe you.”

He unchained me and poured a bucket of water on me which took care of the ants but still not the sticky honey. He then said that he would let me go if I promised to become a Flin for the second time in my life.

I said “I’d rather you just find the bigger island, your people can move there and my family can stay on this island.”

“Don’t you get it?” the Leader said, “The bigger island is a myth. Your father was very foolish to go on a suicide mission into shark infested waters.”

“My father was an intelligent man and you know what I think, I think that my father’s going to find that myth of an island and that you won’t even listen to him and my family’s going to live on the bigger island while you Flins starve on this one.”

“Don’t you get it?” Leader interrupted. “I am your family.”

“That’s what you think,” I snarled back. “The Flins are not my family.”

“I am both a part of the Flins and your family, just like you are, Zoe.”

“No you do not get this I am not related to you, Leader.”

“Yes you are,” Leader whispered. “Zoe, I am your Grandfather.”

Jack

“Zoe,” I called. “Zoe.” Where is she? I thought. Oh no, the tree was burnt. I climbed up the tree and I saw her hammock with Mango in it, besides that empty. Mango looked sad.

Mango then croaked “You filthy brother, you brother.”

I sighed. These were one of the consequences when your sister had a pet parrot. I said goodbye to Mango because I had a strong feeling I might never see her again. I climbed down the tree and ran off to rescue my sister.

I knew the setup of the Flins camp by heart, for I used to live there. I ran straight into the camp and spotted a whole colony of ants swimming in sticky honey. Hopefully, I thought that was left from when someone stole from the Flin store. I ran, adrenaline pumping through my legs, helping me run faster. I went straight into Leader’s tent. Zoe was in the corner tied up and gagged. She made a tiny shooing motion with her hand. I put a finger to her lips and pulled out the present I had gotten from my father after he went on his last voyage. It was a knife. However it was a very sharp knife, and it was made out of some material that glinted silver in the moonlight. Only Leader had a knife, and his was made of bone.

I struck past the first rope freeing Zoe’s right hand, then I struck down on the knot around her right knee then I cut up the left side and Zoe was free. She hugged me then I pulled her gag away and I screamed, for Zoe’s tongue had been cut off.

The sound of the scream carried throughout the Flins camp and pretty soon we were surrounded. The Flins were preparing a feast because they had decided to sacrifice young Zoe for the second time in her life!  I pulled out my knife and made a swinging motion. All the Flins took a couple steps back and then I quickly, unexpectedly spun around and chopped a hole through the back of the hut. Then I ran, pulling Zoe along with me while behind us the splintering hut collapsed.

I knew exactly where to go: the family cave. I knew Zoe would hate it there but it was our only chance to escape the Flins. We ran, the Flins nipping at our heels just like little dogs would. I knew even before we got there we could not ride the canoe, we would have to chance it by  swimming in shark infested waters. Then the ocean came into view, and I knew we would never make it. But then I started fighting my eyes. I could not believe what I was seeing. My Pa was waiting for us in a brand new canoe. Zoe and I jumped in, and my dad rushed out and slashed Leader in the chest.

Then the Leader took one last wild swing with his knife and got Pa right in the head. Now both of my parents were dead. Zoe started to cry because she could no longer talk. I then took it upon myself to be strong, the fear no longer haunted me. As we paddled off the island I looked at a map that Pa had left in the canoe. It gave us all the information we needed to find the bigger island. To find a home.

Fear the Fuzzy

A long time ago, there lived a colony of ducks. They were the kindest, sweetest animals of all time. They were led by king Quacks-A-Lot, a wise king. Though all the birds were generous and trusting, the exception was Prince Elrond the Fuzzy. The prince of the colony had only one goal: to rule the world. The king rejected his son’s dark desires and locked him up in the confines of a castle. The need for power residing inside the heir to the throne was to powerful. One night, Elrond broke out the window and escaped on a quest to rule the world!

The Prince of Adorability would face many perils on his way to the farm big city, where he would begin his rise to power both economically & politically. First he tripped, causing him to get a rock lodged in his fuzzy windpipe, he had to hit himself repeatedly before the rock was launched out of his mouth, and landing with a thump on a boulder.

Then, Elrond came face to face with JJ the Cute, a wandering hero and his chicken arch-nemesis. They met in Boulder Road, a short distance from the city. The two decided to settle their differences once and for all with a fuzzy face off! Elrond lept upon the back of JJ who tossed him at a boulder, then Elrond tossed a rock at his enemy, the resulting impact knocked him out. “Fear the fuzzy! Fear it!” screamed Elrond, with a webbed foot on his rival’s fainted body.

After much walking a cow fell out of the sky. It was completely random and would forever stay unexplained, but a dead cow nearly crushed everyone’s favorite fuzzy villain. After a short moment of disbelief, elrond walked on to the Farm Big City, Moo York.

Shortly after arriving in Moo York, Elrond noticed that the election for senator would be held soon, and then it hit him, “I should run for senator, then eventually for president, and wage a full scale nuclear war with all other countries so I can rule the world!” So, the prince got his name on the ballot and, being a prince, thought politics would be easy. He was soon corrected.

He got the latest poll. “What? I’m only second, Piggy Piggerton is in first? That guy is such a loser. I know, I’ll send an attack ad out against Piggerton.” That’s exactly what he did. The attack ad wiped Piggerton from the race, but all his voters joined the Moo Cow campaign instead. “More ads! More false accusations! I need to win!” Once again the attack ad worked and, being the only candidate left Elrond the Fuzzy became the senator of Moo York.

After a couple months of being senator and earning the people’s trust, Elrond went and put his name on the ballot for president, 2016. His main opponents were Ted Moos, and his former political rival, Piggy Piggerton. But through horrible comments and disgusting remarks, our villain got himself on top. With the primaries almost over, Elrond thought that this election was in the bag. “This election is in the bag!” Elrond said to his campaign manager, Angelica Armadillo one night.

“Um… sir, you might want to see this.” Said Angelica turning on the TV. On it was a vicious attack ad against him from Piggy Piggerton!

“Do you want a fuzzy nutjob running the Moonited States of Ameriduck? No, you don’t. So vote for Ham, because yes we can! I’m Piggy Piggerton and I approved this message.”

“This is an absolute outrage. He’s beating me now,” exclaimed Elrond. “I know, I’ll challenge him to a duel before the primaries end.” So he did. Elrond beat him up in front of a crowd, after which Piggy exited the race.

After the primaries, the fuzzy prince had won, and then, he easily defeated his opponent is the nationals, Moo Cow, another old political rival. Now Elrond the Fuzzy is president of the Moonited States of Ameriduck, the MSA.

Now that he was president, Elrond hatched a plan to start the Third World War, aggravate our allies, and attack our enemies. It was simple. One day Elrond was arguing with a political enemy when the enemy tripped, he helped him up and looked up to see… a camera. “There goes my evil image!” Elrond told Angelica after the meeting.  

“Actually, that might be a good thing, Erond,” Angelica stated matter-of-factly.

“Why?” Elrond asked.

“Because now your popularity among the non-evil population went up!”

“Cool,” Elrond said. Later that day Elrond had a realization. He controlled an extremely large portion of the world right now, so maybe he should just be president of the MSA for now. But when he’s older… look out world, you’d better fear the fuzzy.

The Village

“Afia, go tend to your sick brother!” my mother shouted, as she plucked the chicken whose distinct smell filled our crumbling mud brick home.

As I sat on the quilt that was temporarily my and my mother’s bed, I listened to the sound of ambulances carrying more corpses to their burial area. My heart began to sink. I wish this were a dream…

“Yes, maman.”

I grabbed a protective suit that I stole from the local market. It consisted of a trash bag, duct tape, goggles, gloves, and a swimming cap. I slipped the suit on very quickly and crawled up to my brother Abioye, who had been fighting the Boag virus. I did this with extra precaution because I didn’t want to disturb him in his sleep. I crept in closer and closer until I was right above him. I put one hand on his shoulder and whispered Réveillez-vous in his ear – that means “wake up.”

My brother didn’t move. He just lay there, lifelessly. I let out a shriek and ran to the village’s spigot – or doctor – where my mother was washing the chicken for dinner.

“Maman, Abioye is lifeless! He… he… he… died.”

“What?!” she screamed, falling backwards onto the bumpy dirt road and bursting into tears, which made an ocean around her.  As soon as we got home that night, she ran into Abioye’s room and kissed him, hoping that it would wake him up.

I stood a great distance away and shouted, “Maman, don’t do that! It’s very dangerous – you could get the virus!”

She turned and hit me with one of Abioye’s wooden dolls. I gasped for air. The pain was almost unbearable as I ran to the makeshift bathroom, and I rubbed my cheek with the backs of my cracked hands. My palms were aching for some oil. As I pondered how Maman could do such a horrible thing, I realized that her anger was actually grief and despair.

That night, I woke to the sound of my mother’s extreme gagging. Oh no, I thought, my mother has contracted the Boag virus

Ever since my father was killed trying to fight Islamic Rebels, my mother has become very protective of her kids. I have tried to step up by taking on more responsibility in our home, such as doing more house chores, helping watch over Abioye, and being a sort of village doctor. Even though I am 16 years old and have no professional medical experience, numerous hospitals in the area have rejected our sick due to overcrowding, and I must help in any way I can.

Before the outbreak, president Aimee Bello didn’t prepare us; she only prepared the wealthier towns. Everyday, when tending to the “rejects,” I pose a serious health risk myself.

I was sitting on the floor in the sparse room that I shared with Abioye before he fell ill. I realized that I should not reuse the same protective suit, because it had Abioye’s germs on it and, consequently, the virus too. I would have to bleach it to kill the virus,  but, since I don’t have the resources, I would have to burn it instead. I grabbed the oil and the match and gathered the grass in one pile. I lit the match and then dumped the oil in one area. A big wave of heat blew towards me. I grabbed a nearby stick and tossed it on the suit, and then I got a cloth to cover my mouth with so that I would not breathe in the fumes. After the suit was done burning, I had to figure out how to get another one…

I crept up to the market door that creaked every time somebody opened it…This would make the task a whole lot harder. While I was grabbing all of the items, I began to get frantic. I bumped into a crate of coconuts and made a loud thud noise, which caused the owner to notice me.

Arrêtez! Arrêtez! Arrêtez! Stop!” screamed the enraged owner.

I ran and ran until I got to my doorstep, where my mother was wearily washing our well-worn clothes by hand.

“Maman, go inside! You are in the early stages of the Boag Virus!” I said, alarmed.

“Afia, these clothes won’t wash themselves.” she responded, clearly determined.

“Hey, Afia,” she hesitated. “I have a question. Why were you at the market?” my mother asked in a firm voice.

“Um, Maman, I had to get the protective gear to cure the ill villagers.”

“Where did you get the money from?”

I felt like I was getting interrogated, little droplets of sweat rolled down my thin face. I took a big gulp, and in a crackly unsure voice I answered her.  

“I stole again…It was for a good cause, though.” I responded in a guilty voice.

“Shame on you…”

I convinced Maman to lay in Abioye’s shady room. I slowly backed into our cooking area and suited up for the day’s work.

I walked down a light brown dirt road that led me to Ms. Okafor’s round house. I walked right in because Ms. Okafor was not able to get up. In a weak voice, Ms. Okafor asked me for a glass of guava juice.

While I was hooking up medication to her arm, a young villager, who was very skinny and had big round eyes, came to the door and said that Maman was in deep distress and coughing up clots of blood. My Maman was knocking on death’s door.

My First Earthquake

CHAPTER ONE

“A huge tornado is coming, so be prepared,” the weather people were saying on my TV in my room. Even though it was sort of a big deal, they didn’t have a new expression on their faces. Only the same ones that they had every day when they were talking about the president going to, like, Israel or something like that. But this was sort of big. Not as big as a earthquake.

I took a bathroom break, and as I was washing my hands, I heard something like very serious damage to the state. Quick as a flash I dried my hands, unlocked and opened the door, sprinted back to my room, and hurled myself onto my bed. Two things happened then. Number one: the expression on the weather people’s faced had changed severely. Number two: the people had just said something that made my heart sink. I’ll repeat it for you even though it might make me a little uncomfortable. Okay, here we go: An earthquake is headed right to where my family lives in Los Angeles.

AN EARTHQUAKE!!! Don’t people die in these kinds of things? Both my older brother and my younger brothers are autistic and it is hard. They were both screaming at my poor mother who had to look after them while an Earthquake was about to explode. I decided to help out, because with no Father my mom can sometimes wish we weren’t there, but she has a kind heart so I don’t think that she would really give us up to some orphanage.

“Tessa, can you come down here to help me?”

I plopped off my bed, thinking of when to tell her about the terrible news that I did not want to talk about at this moment, thank you very much. When I reached the kitchen, there was food everywhere. I decided not to tell her the news just by the strained expression on her face. Also, it might not have been the best idea not to tell her because if she found out that there was an earthquake and that I knew about and that I didn’t tell her there would not be some happy, smiling faces.

“So what do you need help with?” I asked.

She seemed to be trying to clean up from dinner but I could always be wrong. “Cleaning up from dinner and getting the boys to the basement to talk about this upcoming earthquake. I have some big news that may not be the best.”

Okay, I was a little bit worried right here but I wanted my mom to have at least one good child so I did as she asked. When we were all settled in the basement “main room,” my mother started.

“Okay, this is really hard for me, but will be the hardest for you all.”

I sucked in my breath so hard into my soul that lung started to hurt and I got a little dizzy. When I found my breath again I asked her, “What is it, Mother?”

My brothers chimed in too. “Yeah, what is it, Mother?”

I couldn’t tell if they were mimicking me or wanted her to go on but I found it annoying either way. “Alright, I’ll say it, even though I will probably cry. But I’ve made up my mind and there is nothing in the world that will make me change my mind. I think it’s for the best. Okay, I’m going to have to let you guys go to an orphanage.”

CHAPTER TWO

This was the worst thing that could ever have happened to me. I felt like screaming my lungs out which is exactly what I tried to do.

“WHAT!!!” I screamed at her. I wanted to cry. I had expected her to say something like, “Calm down, Tessa, it’s no big deal,” because usually she didn’t understand what was a big deal and what wasn’t, but she didn’t say anything. I think by saying this she had realized that with a family like ours a lot of things were a big deal to me.

Something that did not help my brain think was the fact that my brothers kept saying, “We go on vacation without Mommy.”

I tried to close my mouth to be quiet but my jaws forced against it. Tears welled up in my mother’s eyes and mine. I ran to her for dear life. She took me in her arms and held me. When I stopped shout-crying I looked her in the eye and said, “I’ll do anything. I’ll be the mother of this house for you. I’ll do the dishes make the dinner just please don’t give us up.”

“Oh I’m not giving you guys up,” she told me.

“You’re not?” I looked at her. Was she playing a joke on me? A terrible joke.

“No, I’m only giving you up.”

I didn’t understand that. My vision blacked, and I went falling to the ground.

***

I woke up by the motor of the car gliding on the earth. In just a moment we were arriving at the orphanage. I didn’t even remember saying goodbye to my family. The car came to a thundering halt.

I rubbed my eyes. They were teary. I must have cried in my sleep. The door opened and a teenage kid stepped out.

“Hello, are you here for the orphanage?”

I jumped out a little tingly from all the cramped stuff in there. “Um, yes, but I don’t want to talk about it right now. Are you the manager person?” I asked him, even though I knew that this would be a very weird and interesting orphanage.

“No. The current person who runs this orphanage is on his honeymoon. He just got married last week. He just recently suffered from a horrible wife and pretended to be dead, just because he hated his wife. It is a very interesting story about his three kids and how his wife kicked him out without being able to say goodbye to his children. Anyway, I am a normal orphan and am happy to tell you all about my story. Oh, almost forgot, I’m Logan by the way.” He shook my hand.

“Um, I’m Tessa. My father died and my mother threw me out for no apparent reason.” I turned around to look at the car. It was my last way to get back home. But it was drifting away into the forest. Logan took my bags and led me inside for a tour. I looked around. It had looked like a cozy place to live.

“So in here is the dining room and here is where our manager works,” he said pointing to a chair with armrests. “And here,” he led me into a room with multiple cot beds, “is where we orphans all sleep together. Two more rooms. The kitchen and the chill room.”

He went away to leave me alone. I had not heard or paid attention to anything he had said because I was to focused on my plan to get out of this place. But I was really tired and I might as well spend one night here. I walked into the bedroom and set my bags down at a vacant cot. I lay down and closed my eyes and didn’t wake up till morning.  

CHAPTER THREE

Meanwhile back at Tessa’s original home, the mother had found out that her husband had not actually died and was seeking revenge from the lie. She was going to try to kill him without the autistic boys knowing that they have a father. She needed help of an ex-friend of her husband’s, but how?

***

Meanwhile at the orphanage, which was Tessa’s last home, the manager, a.k.a. the person who owned all the orphans, came back from his honeymoon in Europe, and Logan informed him that the newest arrival had run away and he described her life to him. Logan also reported that Tessa would be out all alone in the earthquake, which was due to happen any day now. The description that Logan gave Tessa about the manager was exactly a description as Tessa’s dad, and yes he was Tessa’s long lost dad.

CHAPTER FOUR

Now back to me. The weather had picked up a little and got chilly and windy. I didn’t mind. I never thought that she would be hearing about the earthquake in my own home and then experiencing it as a runaway orphan. But I knew the truth: I would die in this earthquake. It was funny to think about that I had been scared about the earthquake when I would have been inside my regular home but now I was outside with no specific home. When I couldn’t run any further, I stopped to take a rest at a rocky beach. Then a thought struck in my brain. I’m not going to tell you because it is going to be a surprise. I untied a boat from the dock and jumped in. I had never kayaked before, but that doesn’t mean that I’m bad at it. I looked around for a something to steer myself with and I found this long stick with flipper things on the end. I was about halfway in the ocean when a whirling noise arose.

The start of the EARTHQUAKE. I paddled faster, thinking I would not be at the first Island in time. But I don’t even know why I was thinking that because I was going to die anyway so why don’t I just suck it up and let it happen now? But something in me made me want to go so I tried to force it down but it surged up to fight the rest of my other ideas so I was headed to the island. Suddenly I thought I was so close to the island that I almost reached out to touch it.

BUMP. The front of my boat hit the sand slope of the island. I got out and huddled next to the palm tree. It was so windy that mist that turned into tears glided down my cheeks and onto the marshy sand at my feet. I minded this time. I wanted to be in my own home with my own whole family and my mom not being evil.

“Tessa,” the wind whispered in my ear.

I sat up, alert.

“Tessa,” it said again louder this time. I looked to see where it was coming from. In the fog ahead was a tall figure in a boat coming right towards me. I braced myself feeling a little bit threatened. He came closer and I say who it was. It was someone very identical to the last picture is saw of my dad and then it hit me, he was my dad!! He stood up in his boat and that like a cue for me to stand up, too.

“Tessa,” he shouted through cupped hands.

“Dad… ” I said, not because I was one hundred percent sure that he was my dad, but just to see if he responded to that. He did and once reached me he ran to me and swung me into his arms. I didn’t need to know if he was my father. The way he had picked me up in my arms was the only way he has ever picked me up and nobody had done it that way. That is how I knew he was my true father.

“How did you find me?” I asked when he put me down.

“Logan said he had found a missing boat, and that I should try to look for you here,” he smiled down at me.

“So you came out all this way in and earthquake just for me.” I felt proud to have a dad like mine.

“Oh, yeah about that earthquake, um, we need to get to the orphanage right away or else we’ll die, and I don’t think you really want to die.”

My dad didn’t look worried, but I think he might be but he doesn’t let me know if there’s anything to worry about.

“You guys can come back home and live with us the way we were always meant to be.” A familiar voice echoed around the island.

“Mom?”  I asked.

“Linda?” my dad was confused. “Where are you?” all three of us said at the same time.

Dad and I said we were on the other side of the island and the my mother appeared, running to us. We both held our arms out and she ran into them. Then we all went home.

The End

You may be wondering what happened with the earthquake, and I’ll tell you. My family spent it in our basement sitting, laughing and drinking hot chocolate while the wind was roaring hard in the whole sky about our neighborhood streets.

The Real End

Excerpt from Aliens Attack

Part One

I heard an explosion in the distance. I did not know what was going on or what I was going to do. The aliens were attacking. They were invading Earth. My friend and I were hiding in a cave in the Catskill Mountains with our family. I felt so bad because I had a secret that I had not told my family. My friend Melha was not human. She was an outcast of the alien tribe who was invading Earth. Also, the aliens could take on human form.
A couple days ago, my real friend Melha and I were at school before the invasion happened when there was a loud explosion. The aliens came into the school and aimed a gun at me, but Melha took the bullet for me. I fell onto her body and cried my heart out. I had to kill them for Melha. She was a true friend. To this day, I will honor Mela’s sacrifice.

But the worst thing about the alien invaders was that they could only die from one mineral named Zoink Noink. Zoink Noink is a rare, neon green and neon yellow colored mineral. Luckily, there were three orbs of Zoink Noink located on Earth. The only way I knew about this was because I had a big book of minerals and their legends. I was not really sure if this rock existed, but it was worth finding.

Earlier today, I was in the mines mining, and I saw a lime-ish light. I dug deeper and deeper, until I found an orb of Zoink Noink. I was overjoyed. I had a quick idea: I could craft a sword and slay aliens with the sword. But it was a totally a crazy idea because how was I going to craft a sword with nothing that crafts a sword in my possession? There was one way to get my materials: to go to the crashed alien ship and use the materials there to craft a sword. But there were aliens guarding the area, so no human could go in. I had to risk it for Melha. But how was I going to get out of our cave? There was only one way: I could ask Mela’s alien to take my form while I gone.

“Melha, can you take my form while I am gone?” I asked.

“Yes, but what for?” said Melha.

“I have to craft a sword and slay the aliens with it. Thank you,” I said while I bolted out of the cave.

When I got to the ship, I saw an alien walking away from the ship. I walked up to him, and I stabbed him in his heart. His face looked shocked. He was really surprised by the Zoink Noink mineral. He died. I felt bad for a second, but then I thought, This is for Melha. I took his clothes and smeared his blood and guts all over my body. I looked and smelled horrible, but it was a good disguise. Hopefully, it would work. I walked into the spaceship, and everything was going smoothly… for now.

I saw the sword crafting room, and I bolted to the room so fast. I saw the anvil and the hammer. The anvil was black. The top was very flat and high. The hammer didn’t look like it had come from Earth. It was blue and very easy to use. I flattened down the Zoink Noink and made it into the shape of a sword. I was sweating very hard, but at least the sword was complete. But I needed a handle. I saw an epic, silver handle on the wall. I yanked it off the wall, and I put it in my sword. I was surprised that it was a perfect fit. Now I had the ultimate sword.

Oh! Aliens were coming, and I had taken off my disguise already. I grabbed my sword and knew the aliens would not hurt me if I had the sword. I realized just then that it was not a crashed spaceship I was on. Computers were beeping everywhere, and there were a lot of aliens everywhere. Why would a lot of aliens and broken computers be on a crashed a spaceship? I was on the main control center of the aliens!

I was not even sure anymore if I could get out of the ship. And I could not even use a sword. So I had to get out. I saw two vents. One of the vents went to the main control room, and one led outside, probably to get the bad smell of the aliens out. Wait, what? How could I see though the walls? I knew one person who had that power. Melha, the alien. I knew how I got this power: when Melha touched me, it gave me the power.

But I didn’t care about that power now; I only cared about getting out. I banged my sword against the vent. I crawled out, but fell into the dump. Eww! It smelled so bad in there. I got out of the dumpster, and I ran all the the way home. But I didn’t know the aliens were following me. I ran into the cave, screaming that I could defeat the aliens and that we could take back our home. But I felt a slimy touch on my back. I turned around and saw an alien invader.

Wait! Oh no! There were twenty alien invaders. Counting the Emperor.

“Wait! I thought I had killed that girl,” screamed the Emperor.

“No,” said Melha’s mother. “She is not dead.”

“Yes, she is,” I said softly. “At school, the day the invasion happened, Melha got shot by a bullet.”

“Why did you not tell us, Jackool?” screamed her father.

“I did not want to worry you,” I said. “That matters not now.” I took my sword and killed five of the aliens.

“Ekkkkk! No, he has the sword!” shrieked the aliens.

I threw the sword and sliced another ten in half. Five were left alive. The Emperor snuck out the back and took my mom. I was too focused on killing the aliens, I didn’t notice he left. I finally killed them all.

I yelled, “Is everyone okay? Where is my mama?”

The emperor must have taken her when he fled. I had to find him. I had an idea where he went.

Long Live King George!

There once was a stapler. His name was George. George was very stubborn. Because of that, he never, ever, ever wanted to staple a piece of paper again.

One year in George’s life, all of his staples were used by a human in a school, so he became very ill. He was sent to the hospital for staplers. The hospital was haunting to staplers because the doctors and nurses were humans. All staplers thought humans were terrible things because the leader of all staplers (the king stapler) also ran out of staples (from stapling lots of the Decision Committees’ papers together) and didn’t live through the walk to the stapler hospital. The doctor couldn’t save him. The old king’s name was King Hoxlin. He was a wonderful king, and everyone loved him. He might have lived if he had a queen. The queen would have been the one to save him.

Because there was no leader of the staplers anymore, everything became so chaotic. Tests were starting to be taken for who should be the next king of all staplers. George tried to take the test, but he couldn’t until his staples were replaced.

George took the secret tunnel from his cave to the hospital. He saw the light of the hospital at the end of the tunnel. He stepped into the light of the giant hospital. He looked up at the bright, square lights on the high ceiling. Before he knew it, he was being dragged into a room by a doctor and two nurses.

“Sit here,” said the doctor pointing to a chair. Humans knew exactly how to cure staplers because they had so much experience. George sat down. The doctor left the room. One of the nurses, named Ms. Doctor, went rummaging through a closet. The other nurse, named Ms. Patient, got out her clipboard and a pencil.

She asked George, “What’s your name?”

“George,” answered George.

“Age?”

“10.”

“Leader?”

“Well… I don’t exactly have one.”

“Huh,” said Ms. Patient, and wrote an X next to the word “leader.”

That poor pencil. And that paper, George thought. The pencil losing its tip, and the paper getting scribbled on.

“Hello, George!” said the cheery doctor, walking back into the room. “I’m Doctor Nurse! You can call me Doc.”

“Hi,” said George nervously.

“I have your new staples,” said Doc. “If you would come with me, I will bring you to them.”

“Okay,” said George. He and Doc walked down a long hall until they came to another little room. There was a table in the room, and on the table, there were some staples.

“Here they are!” said Doc.

A few minutes later, George walked out of the hospital back into the tunnel, good as new. George felt his way through the darkness until he was finally back home. George looked over at the tables where one took the test. The line was now curving around the whole cave.

I guess I’ll have to wait in this ginormous line, thought George.

He walked over to the end of the line and stood there looking into space. The line was so long that George slept in it for three nights, and finally, finally, he was at the front! He sat down at the table and looked at the test on a piece of paper.

Q: How will you improve our lives?

A: I will make sure we never get hurt with extra security, and I will make all of our lives fair.

Q: What will you change?

A: There will be a queen so that more work can be done.

Q: Do you think you are capable of being king?

A: Yes.

The next day the king was announced by the Decision Committee (George’s sister Ellie, his mom Amanda, and some other staplers) who had made the decision the night before. The decision for who was going to be king was fair because it was anonymous.

On stage, the Decision Committee was setting up the podium. George saw Ellie. She was wearing a long, blue dress over her black, metal body. Her long, blonde hair was tied into a bun. She had a pretty, blue flower next to the bun. She was wearing a long, pearl necklace with a diamond in the middle of it. There was sparkly, blue eye shadow over her eyes. Amanda wore an orange dress with white flowers. Her hair was a long and flowing gold. She was wearing a necklace of emerald.

All the staplers crowded together.

“The king is… GEORGE!!!”

A cheer went up in the crowd. Surprised, George got up on stage, smiling. His mother took the golden crown from the red, velvet pillow. She placed it on his head, acting more joyful than he had ever seen her.

“Long staple, King George!” cried his mother.

“LONG STAPLE, KING GEORGE!” repeated the crowd of staplers.  

“Well done, King,” said Ellie, handing him an envelope. He opened it up. It said:

Dear King George,

Congratulations! I am super proud of you! I think that you will make this place amazing. I am excited for that! I read your test and I think you really are capable of doing this. I think that the idea about the queen is really smart. Because I am part of the Decision Committee, I have some ideas of who your queen could be because I think that they would help. Here they are:

Lilly

Stephanie

Abby

Danielle

Lindsay

Chloe

If you don’t want to have any of them as queen, it’s okay with me. The Decision Committee and I also decided that because you said that you wanted extra security, we will apply it. If you need help, you can always ask me.

Love,

Ellie

“Thanks Ell,” said George.

“You’re welcome, King George.”

That day, there was a dinner party set up for the new king. It was in the Dining Hall. There was a big chandelier over the table. It lit up the dark room. George was at one head of the table, and Ellie was at the other. George sat in a chair that looked more like a throne. It was wooden with dark patterns on it. There was a pillow on the seat of the chair that was red velvet like the pillow that held the crown. It had golden lace on the edges and green jewels connected to the lace. There was also silver thread that sewed the pillow together. It could’ve been the fanciest pillow in the world. For dinner, there was chicken, pasta, and meatballs. For dessert, there was a cake that said Congrats!, some cupcakes, fruit, and frozen yogurt. It was a fantastic meal.   

The next day, King George joined the Decision Committee meeting.

“I would like to have Sara as my queen. I didn’t like any of the choices on the card,” he said. George had known Sara his whole life and they were always friends. “She would help with everything I wanted to do. I mean, the things I wrote about on the test. How about this: We give her a test to see if she can do the things that she would have to do as queen.”

“Alright, King George. Should we get started on making the test?” asked one stapler in the Committee.

“Yes. You should.”

Everyone in the Committee meeting walked out of the office, except George and Ellie.

“Come on, King,” she said. George got up and left the room with Ellie.

That night there was another dinner celebration for King George.

The next day, the test was ready for Sara. She was pretending to sleep, but she couldn’t get away with her trick. It was time… time for torture. Sara got out of bed and got dressed slowly. She was stalling. She went to the Decision Committee’s office, and there, sitting on the table, was the paper that had the test… the dreadful test. Sara started.

It had been an hour and twenty seven minutes. She had three minutes left.

“I need to hurry up!” said Sara, rushing more than ever. Her time was running out!

“Time’s up!” said George, entering the room.

“Here,” said Sara, handing him the test, feeling incredibly nervous.

That night, the Decision Committee looked over the test.

“She messed up,” said Amanda.

“And she didn’t finish,” added Ellie.

“B-b-but,” said George “No! She will be my queen if I want her to! I’m king, so it’s my choice! Remember, my choice! No more of your terrible decisions! The end!” He stormed out of the room. The Decision Committee and their office was silent. Completely silent. All except for the ticking of the clock on the wall.

Later that night, King George saw Ellie. ‘“Um, Ellie… Listen, I’m really sorry. Can I, well, um, still be king?”

Ellie nodded.

“Good. I mean, thanks.”

Ellie nodded again and walked away.

“Ellie… ”

In bed, George said to himself, “I can’t have Ellie mad at me, not with her on the Decision Committee. What have I done… what have I — zzzzzz.”

“Did you hear what happened yesterday, Queen Sara?” asked King George when he saw Sara the next morning.

“No, I — what?! Did you say ‘queen’?” asked Sara.

“Mmhmm,” he said.

They looked at each other down the long hall.

“You are a wonderful king,” said Sara.

“And you will be a wonderful queen,” said George.

EPILOGUE

       Two months later

It was the wedding day of King George and Queen Sara. There were food and drinks. It was so much fun! There were dancing staplers and singing staplers. King George went over to Ellie.

“Um… Ellie?”

“Yeah?”

“Are you still mad at me?”

“Not really.”

“Okay, but really, I’m sorry. I didn’t want to hurt your feelings or anything. I just thought that because I’m king, I get to choose my queen. When I said all that stuff, I didn’t really mean it. Do you forgive me? It’s okay if — ”

“Yes, of course,” she said, interrupting him in a nice way. And they both smiled.

Travels in Time: Rosie in the Revolution

Chapter One

Homework done?

Check!

Piano played?

Check!

This was the short checklist Rosie Lubliner mentally went through every time she wanted to time travel. This 9-year-old, unusually clever, inventive girl had actually created the very first time machine. She loved her brand new invention. She had accidentally invented it after she had finished her homework. One day, she was messing around, trying to build a time machine… then she went in and just pressed some buttons, and it worked. She had been so excited.

Rosie stepped inside the giant box, and pressed some buttons. Her time machine was a big metal box. It was a very simple machine. It had five buttons in it, and a keypad for typing in what year you wanted to go to.

She shut her eyes, and wondered what it would be like to live during the time of the American Revolution. The last time she had time traveled, Rosie had accidentally changed Egyptian history. A couple of days before his actual death, a pyramid had fallen on King Tut’s head. This time, hopefully things would stay as they were intended to.

The sharp buzzing sound shook Rosie back into the present, or rather, the past. The doors to the time machine opened and said two words: Thirteen colonies.

Rosie nervously stepped outside. The geeky girl had traveled to 1765, which was the time of the Stamp Act. She knew that this time was a dangerous one. The Patriots HATED the Stamp tax. People were tarred and feathered every day. Stamps were burned on the streets. Angry mobs attacked tax collectors.

A deep loud voice startled her out of her day dream. “Hello! I’m John Baker, fighter in the Continental Army. Who art thou?”

“Um… Er… Uhh…” In all of her time-travel experiences, nobody had ever spoken directly to her, nor had anyone asked her name. “I’m Rosie. Rosie Lubliner.”

“Hello, Rosie Lubliner. Art thou a patriot?”

“Yes… er… certainly.”    

“Wonderful,” John Baker said. “But the battlefield is no place for a young girl such as you. Let me lead you to a safe place.”

“Okay.” Even though she wanted to see action, she didn’t want to die!

“Follow me.” So Rosie followed John. He lead her to a horse cart. “I will take it upon myself to lead you to Pennsylvania. I have a friend named Benjamin Franklin who works at the gazette.”

Rosie was thrilled. What could be better than meeting an all-time famous man who was practically the hero of the American Revolution? She jumped at the chance.

“Sure! I would love to! I think I have heard of him.”

“Splendid. He is quite a nice man,” John Baker replied. Little did he know that his friend Benjamin Franklin was soon to be world-famous.

The carriage bumped along the dirt path for a good three hours.

This future Militia leader sure is nice! she thought.

When John and Rosie arrived in Pennsylvania, she was so tired she could have fallen asleep while she was walking. But then she caught a glimpse of Ben Franklin, and she straightened.  

OMG, OMG, OMG!!! Rosie was super excited. She loved Benjamin Franklin. He was her idol. After all, he was a founding father! And a great inventor, just like her! She was so psyched to meet him.

“Hello, young lady. I am Benjamin Franklin,” Benjamin said. “What art thou name?”

“Hello! I’m Rosie! Rosie Lubliner,”  Rosie said.

“Benjamin, would it be okay if Rosie stayed here and helped you with the gazette?” John Baker asked.

“Why, yes! I would be delighted to have such a lovely young lady working in my shop.”

“Farewell, Rosie,” John said.

“Goodbye,” Ben and Rosie spoke at the same time.

Rosie looked around the gazette shop. She glanced at the printing press. It looked so cool. So old fashioned. It was the original Benjamin Franklin printing press! It was so awesome to see it in person when it was still being used! The press was big and wooden. She touched it. It felt smooth.

“Rosie, would you like to print this piece that I just wrote?” Benjamin asked Rosie

“Um… okay. But I don’t know how to use one,” she said.

“I shall teach thou, then.”

“Okay!” Rosie was thrilled to learn how to use a real printing press from the 1700s!

There was a moment of silence between them.  

“Are you any good at writing?” Ben asked suddenly.

Rosie blushed. She didn’t want to brag, even though, at school she aced every class, including language arts. “Uh… yes.”

Benjamin Franklin didn’t seem to notice her slight hesitation. “Wonderful. Then let us get started!”

 

Lorenza’s Eventful Day

I woke up excited.

“I GET TO SEE MY LITTLE CADENZA.”

I’m Lorenza if you didn’t notice! I ran off to Centa Academy as fast as possible, since I missed the flying shuttle. I snuck up behind her. “BOO!” I yelled, scaring Cadenza. She jumped pretty high. I took her hand and jumped up and down. “OH MY GLOB IT’S BEEN FOREVER.”

She looked pretty tired, but oh well. Cadenza grumbled pretty softly, ”Hey Lorenza.”

I waved ultra fast, showing my enthusiasm. “Aren’t you happy to see your bestest friend for beyond life!” I declared very loudly.

Her friends, or what I assumed were her friends, walked over. “Hi! Hi! Hi!” I greeted everyone jumping around in joy. They all shrugged and smiled except for two. The girl I believed whose name was Ruba was smiling extra wide with her dog in her arms. The girl named Ying came over.

”You look so nice!” I jumped around.

“You do toooooo!”

Later on in the day I woke up after taking a nap. I couldn’t help being excited again! I knocked on team Sera’s door which is where she normally is. “HEY GUYS WHAT’S DOWN,” I exclaimed. I hugged Cadenza extra, extra tight.

“Hey Lorenza, can you, like, give me air?”

I got off her. “Oh sorry Cade, just haven’t seen you in, like, forever.” I noticed Zwea. “Aw, hi little guy.” I kneeled down to his height. I chased him around the room wreaking havoc. “WEEEEEEEEEEEE.” This is more than I could ever ask for. After a while I got tired. I tucked myself inside an extra bed inside beacon. And off to sleep I went. “Zzzzzz squi squi squi squi. Zzzzz squi squi.”

Nikki’s Message

Violet stared at her screen, sighed, and buried her face in her hands, feeling stuck. What was she going to say to her best friend about the move? She wasn’t even sure what to tell herself. Suddenly, #ultra_giggles sent her an instant message.

“Hi Violet, it’s me, Nikki,” Violet read aloud.

She typed, “Hi, back,” and hit send.

“U have a creative IM name,” came the reply. That was sarcasm, of course. Her IM name was just simply Violet. Violet smiled and changed her IM username to “books4life”. She was the 5th grade’s #1 nerd. Nikki was the most popular, so since Violet was her best friend, it protected her from the usual treatment for nerds. No, Nikki wasn’t just Violet’s friend so that Violet could do her homework. Not once had Nikki asked Violet to do it for her. Instead, she only asked for help and guidance. The other popular girls could never figure it out.

Once, Miranda had complimented Nikki, “That’s smart, now that you have Violet, you don’t have to do school projects anymore.” Nikki had gotten so mad that Miranda isn’t part of the popular group anymore.

Nikki messaged, “So, about the move…😢”

Violet took a deep breath and poured her heart out. “Well, I’m not really sure what to tell myself. I’m mad at my dad for losing his job and getting another in London. He says London is going to be amazing, which is why he got a job there. I can’t believe he did that without even consulting me and mom. I’m afraid to leave my friends, but I guess I really have no choice. I’m afraid that without you, people will do horrible things to me, like what we see when we look at other nerds, who are teased and harassed. I know I’m afraid of a lot of things, but you would be too, if you were in my place. Yes, I also know that it’s not soft on you either because I’m your best friend and I’m moving, but I just hate that we might not ever see each other again.” She pressed send.

“Whoa. These heartfelt things are supposed to be for letters, not IM. And who said I was ur best friend? JK. I am.😄” replied Nikki. It may sound arrogant and annoying for other people, but Violet knew Nikki better than anybody. Nikki was just avoiding her own emotions. She often did this, especially because she liked discussing other people’s emotions rather than hers.

Even though the two friends lived next door, they were using IM just to get into the habit, since this is how they planned to keep in touch.

“Maybe we should text everyday at 4:30 pm so we’re not constantly asking ‘R u there’ and ‘Hello?’ over and over.”

“Now she was avoiding the move topic,” Violet thought. “It’s crazy how if you’re around someone for a long time you develop a sixth sense about what they’re thinking and doing.”

“Okay. Maybe. I still don’t know what my new schedule is, so it’s confusing sometimes. I have to go. See you at 4:30 pm tomorrow. I mean, text you.”

She didn’t really have to go, but Violet needed a break. She felt overwhelmed by the whole thing, even though they didn’t really touch on the main subject at all. She stood up and flopped on her bare bed. She stared at her sky-themed ceiling, the only thing that was the same as before in her room. Everything else was boxed up, ready to be imported to London.

She liked her home here in New York. She closed her eyes and remembered the terrible things she’d yelled at her dad earlier. “You could’ve got a job in New York too, you know!” and “It’s ALL your fault!” coursed through her mind.

She inhaled deeply, and sat up, looking around the room. She stood up and walked across the room and entered the hall. She took a look at the boxes and flew down the stairs, feeling sick of the brown boxes with “To London” scrawled across the tops, reminding her of what was to come, making it impossible to be happy.

She burst out of the front door and slammed it behind her and leaned against it, panting. She laid on the grass, and looked into the robin’s egg sky. Tomorrow, at this time, she would be in London already. Her family was boarding the plane in a few hours.  Just then, Nikki leaned over her vision. “Aaah!” cried Violet, scrambling to her feet. “Nikki! You scared me out of my skin!” she exclaimed.

“Hey, frieeeeeend!” Nikki laughed. “I just wanted to give you this.” She handed Violet a leather-bound book, then watching, amused, as Violet’s face turned from happy to shocked.

“OMG! This is so cool!” Violet hugged Nikki. “I can’t believe it! How did you get everyone’s picture?”

Nikki shrugged. “I know a lot of people.” She blushed. In the book were pictures of everyone Violet knew, reading, just as Violet usually was, with a note and a signature underneath. Nikki had written “U will always be a bookworm in my heart.😀–Nikki XOXO.” Violet smiled.

“I have something to give you, too. Wait here.” Then she ran inside the house and searched the crate of things that weren’t supposed to be packed, like the family’s backpacks, toothbrushes, and a framed picture. Violet took the picture and bolted down the hall and into the front lawn, where Nikki was sitting cross-legged, picking at the grass.

“Here.” She held out the picture frame and then it was her turn to watch Nikki’s reaction.

“Whoa. You still have it?” Nikki asked, eyes wide, clutching the picture. Violet shrugged. Nikki had drawn that picture in kindergarten, giving the finished product to Violet, insisting that she keep it, saying that it was the ugliest picture anyone had ever made in the whole wide world. Violet had accepted it, and because she thought it was rather pretty, stuck it on her bookshelf, and it had been there ever since. It consisted of Violet and Nikki in front of the tree they had planted together, all by themselves.

“VIOLET!!” came a voice from the house.

“Oh, that’s my mom,” said Violet, feeling sad that she might have to go.

“VIOLET!!!” the voice called.

“Coming!” Violet called back. “Listen, I have to go. I’ll see you after a few.” Then, she waved and dragged her feet back to the house, through the front door and into the kitchen, where her mom was cleaning out the cabinets.

“You know you can’t just go outside without telling me. That’s dangerous,” her mom said, eyes still trained on her task of packing the plates. The plates were the only things that weren’t packed up, but her mom was almost finished.

“I was only on the front lawn, so I technically wasn’t even off the property. I can take care of myself now, mom. We’re even moving to London.” Violet’s voice broke.

“Are you still mad at dad?”

Violet nodded to her mom’s question.

“Well, we’ll have to forgive him someday, and I’m sorry for you but you know, it’s hard on dad, too.” she gave Violet a hug, and Violet breathed in her mom’s scent deeply.

Then, remembering Nikki’s gift, she said, “Look, mom. Look at what Nikki gave me.” She held out the album and looked through it for a moment with her mom before adding, “And speaking of Nikki, I have to go to her house to say goodbye one more time.”

Her mom smiled sadly. “Alright. You go on then.”

Violet went outside and crossed the street, running up Nikki’s front steps. She had barely rang the doorbell before Nikki flung the front door wide open. She wasn’t smiling, but she wasn’t frowning either. She was there to embrace Violet, and she was there to support her when Violet started crying.  “I’ll miss you.”

“Me too. Work on your English accent for me.” Nikki tried to be firm.

“I will.” Violet’s voice was squeaky, and Nikki had never heard her voice like that before.

“Bye. IM me when you get on the plane. Hopefully there’s Wifi.” Nikki had a determined look on her face, as if she was bent on keeping her eyes dry. Violet nodded, wiping away tears. Nikki hugged Violet tighter.

“You’re hurting me.” Violet whispered.

“Let’s savor our last hug.”

“Okay.”

“I’ll really, really miss you. Don’t ever make another BFF. We have to stay best friends, promise me that.”

“I promise.”

“Good. Now go away before I start crying.”

“Your eyes are glassy.”

“I know.” Nikki smiled. Then she broke the hug and said, “Let’s do our handshake for the last time.” The two girls repeated the handshake that they made on the first day of their friendship, on the first day of preschool. Clap three times. Shake hands while pressing thumbs together. Fist bump. Turnaround and high five.

“Bye, V.” Nikki was crying now.

“Bye.” Violet was crying, too.

“IM me.”

“Okay.”

“Go now.” Nikki pushed Violet away, turning towards her front door.

“Bye, Nikki.”

“Bye.”

Violet ran towards her house, crying silently. That was the last time she would probably ever see Nikki in person. It was so overwhelming.

She skipped up the front steps and flung open her front door, face to face with her father.

Violet pretended not to see him, pushing past him and going up the stairs. Her dad yelled after her, trying to get her attention, but she still made sure to ignore him and slam her bedroom door loud enough to get the message to her father. I hate you. Go away. You ruined everything.

Her phone chimed. “#ultra_giggles has messaged you.” She rushed to her phone.

#ultra_giggles: hi.

books4life: hey.

#ultra_giggles: 😢😢😡😡😔😔

books4life: don’t make it worse.

#ultra_giggles: sry.

books4life: sok.

#ultra_giggles: did u 4give ur dad yet?

Books4life: no.

#ultra_giggles: maybe you should. It’s not his fault he got fired.

Books4life: ya it is. If he didn’t show up late for that conference, we  wouldn’t have to move. So, if he picked his job over a doughnut, we would still be here.

#ultra_giggles: get over it. Accept ur fate. *virtually shakes shoulder*

Books4life: gtg

Conversation ended.

Violet stared. Accept her fate? “Had Nikki already gotten over the fact that I’m moving?” Violet thought. She brushed that away. That’s not possible. Then Nikki must be saying something else. Maybe, she was saying that everything is going to be okay? Or maybe she was saying, since it was already done, there was no use in regretting the past?

She made a mental note to text Nikki, “Whoa. These heartfelt things are supposed to be for letters, not IM,” when she got on the plane. That was what Nikki had said earlier, when Violet had poured her heart out about the move.

Violet plopped on her bed for the second time today. She closed her eyes. She was going to have a new life, that’s for sure.  She could do this positively or negatively, and what Nikki was saying, is that it’s better to do this happily than grumpily. Violet smiled to herself.

She gathered herself up, opened her door, and cheerfully called down the stairs, “Hey dad, when is our flight?”

My Chicken Experiences

Part 1

Many people thought that my family was crazy for owning chickens, but believe it or not, raising chickens shaped my life in a healthy way. My mom first had the idea to raise chickens about two and a half years ago. She thought it would be a fun learning experience for me and my sisters, but wasn’t sure it was practical. My dad never really loved the idea of farm life, but he loved seeing us happy, so he was willing to put up with it. At that time, my two younger sisters, Brynnley and Ainsley, were sleeping in the same room, and never really cleaned it that often. My mom proposed that if Ainsley could keep her shared room clean at all times, for eight months, we could try owning chickens.  Ainsley was determined to have chickens; she was insistent that she would help all three of us get chickens. Every day she went over her room, making sure it was clean and tidy. Eight months went by quickly, and soon we had ordered chicks.

We got three plymouth rock chicks and six silkie chickens through the mail. They took about a week to get to my house, but it seemed like forever, because we were eager to see the babies. It might sound crazy that you could buy chicks through the mail, but it was true. And to make things even better, they were only five dollars, and they were born on Ainsley’s birthday, April 20th!

It was love at first sight. When we came home from school, we were excited to see what the baby chicks looked like. We ran downstairs to the basement and heard small peeps, smelled the faint scent of wood shavings, and saw my mom reaching into a small box with a heating lamp over it.

We peeked over the edge of the box and saw nine tiny miracles, one of which my mom was holding and teaching how to eat.  To teach a chicken how to eat, you only need one chicken to eat, and that chicken will teach the rest of the flock how to eat.  She led the little head down to the small pebbles of food, and slowly it started to peck. Soon, the whole flock was doing it.   

It was the best feeling to hold a baby chick, nice and warm up to your chest so it could hear your heartbeat.  When we wanted them to sleep, all we had to do was turn off the basement light, and  all the happy chicks’ peeping stopped. When we returned to the chicks in the morning, they would all be on top of each other in a bundle of warmth.  

Part 2

Weeks went by, and the chicks grew faster than the blink of an eye.  Before I knew it, they were big enough to be outside in a giant wooden pen.  My mom had bought a chunnel, or a chicken tunnel, for the chicks to exercise. She also got a smaller pen for broody chickens. When a chicken is broody, it means that it won’t get up to eat, or drink, or exercise. It will only sit on the other chickens’ eggs.  

We raised our chickens free range, and taught them to return to their warm safe pen every night. Soon, we started giving our chickens some names, so we could keep track of them.  We knew in an instant that the name of the chicken that had the biggest hair and attitude would be Bruno, after Bruno Mars. The three Plymouth Rock chickens would be named Max, Fama, and Wicked.  We named the twin silkies Oodles and Doodles, because they stuck together at all times.  Finally, there was Chubbs, the runt of the flock, who could fit a grape in his cheek. We had a few others, but we never truly decided names for them.  

Did you know that chickens like to take dirt baths?  They will rub themselves in the dirt in the garden as protection from the sun, and when they are done, they will shake all of it out and look as clean as ever.  Then, they do it all over again. Did you know that chickens eat very messily?  Well it’s true.  If you put raspberries in your hand, they will take a piece, shake it, and then gulp it down.  It is the silliest thing to watch.  

Often, we snuck the chickens in the house without my dad noticing, just to surprise my mom with a chicken snuggle. She held the chickens close to her chest, in pure happiness. Soon the chickens fell asleep in her arms, and she let it rest until it would be time for her to go. We did this frequently with different chickens, but we always knew that Bruno was my mom’s favorite. After all, silkies were called the best lap chickens and were the most kid-friendly.

Everything and everyone seemed happy on the McKee Farm. Nothing could go wrong.  

Unfortunately, our first loss came early in the process. One of our chickens never returned to the pen.  We went looking for it until late in the night, but we had to give up trying to find it.  

A few weeks went by, and we realized that only one chicken was beginning to lay eggs, even though all of them should have been. Another peculiar thing was going on: we had a garden in the backyard, and we could see almost every part of  the garden from our kitchen window.  We loved that view, but Max seemed to want the window all to herself, and blocked it, looking inside at us!  

We thought it was adorable that Max wanted to see us, and we didn’t mind her blocking  the view, but we didn’t really know why Max was doing it until later that summer month. One hot summer day, my sisters and I were working in the garden and we found a huge bunch of eggs right under the window! We quickly rushed over and counted the eggs. There were 15 of them.  We gathered all of them and told my mom what we found. That had to be the reason that Max had been blocking the window, to guard the eggs and keep close watch over them, careful that we didn’t take them.

Every morning we looked for changes in the attitude and look of the chickens. Once, I noticed there were a fair amount of feathers in the coop, and a small amount of blood.  

I was frightened that something might have hurt our chickens, and asked my mom what was happening to them. My mom immediately realized what was going on, and told me that they were figuring out the “pecking order,” to see who was in charge so that they could assign different jobs, like which chicken sat on the eggs. The pecking order was determined pretty quickly. Max was the leader but would let Bruno sleep on her. Wicked and Fama were Max’s sidekicks, and the rest of the flock were her royal subjects. Although Max was not supposed to favor any one member of the flock, she loved Bruno the most; they would even sleep together.

Though Max was at the top, she didn’t have an easy life. Fama and Wicked sometimes gave another shot at becoming the top chicken, but they never won. Max also had to protect the flock if they were in trouble, because the silkies could not fight very well — since they had  so much hair on their heads, they couldn’t see predators very well.

Part 3  

About three months after getting the chicks, our new babysitter brought her puppy to the house and let him play outside. He started chasing one of our silkies, one of the ones we hadn’t named yet.  

I was so scared.  I ran inside told my mom what was happening and she ran outside.  

Ainsley was trying to stop the dog but couldn’t. She started crying and went inside, and so did Brynnley and my mom, because the dog had come out with the chicken’s fuzz in its mouth and blood on it. I cried, ran inside, and went to my room. I couldn’t believe what had just happened, and I was scared half to death, replaying and replaying that picture of the dog over and over again inside my head. I had never seen my mom cry before, but that day she did.

We were upset and angry over the loss we had experienced. That loss was the hardest,  because it came unexpectedly, and because we had never experienced death before. Though the first death was hard, it did get easier.

After a while of peacefulness, darkness struck again in the henhouse. Another silkie, Oodles, had died because a raccoon got into the coop. It was another hard death, because we didn’t realize that raccoons could unlock and lift things. There was a small latch that we used to close the laying box every night. Somehow, the raccoon had unlatched it, opened the laying box, and killed the chicken right there, while it was sleeping. Luckily, the other chickens were able to get away in time, and none of them were killed that night. If that raccoon had gotten hold of any others, it would have surely killed them too. I would never underestimate the skills of a very hungry raccoon again.

Unfortunately, my mom was the first to see the bloody masterpiece. She was going out to feed and water the chickens, and collect any eggs they might have laid that night. She saw a ripped open, half-eaten silkie with no head.  She was heartbroken and again, couldn’t restrain herself from crying. I went out to see it for myself, and I was scarred from that picture in my head, where it will be forever. After that, Doodles didn’t have that bounce in her feathery feet any more.

We didn’t have enough time to recover from that until we were introduced to the HAWK HORROR.  

We had seen hawks flying around our house, spying on our chickens, and got protective. But we didn’t realize how bold the hawks were, or how they weren’t that scared of humans. It would take a lot of time to drag a hawk away from a chicken.  

Sometimes, my mom thought about having me take out my bow and arrows and shoot him down — that was, until we figured out that it was illegal.  

One autumn afternoon, while my sisters and I were at school and my mom was at home, some men came to mow the lawn. We had moved the chickens and the coop into the garage so that they could mow the lawn. The garage door was left ajar, and the chickens were clucking just like before, until…everything went silent. It was like you could hear a pin drop. My mom was used to the peeping of the chickens, and hearing this silence, she knew that something was wrong.  

She dashed to the garage, just as a vicious hawk snapped its beak shut on little Chubbs’ body. I don’t know how she reacted because I wasn’t there, but she told me that she cleaned up the bloody and feathery mess alone. She told us what happened when we came home from school, but she didn’t know that Chubbs had been killed.  

Ainsley ran into the garage immediately after we parked the car, only to melt into tears like a candlestick over her dead chicken.

She counted the chickens. “Oodles… Doodles… Bruno… Fama… Max… Chubbs is dead!” she wailed.  

It was something she would never forget. We comforted her, and tried to calm her down.  She never did fully recover, and still to this day talks about Chubbs with a tear in her eye.  

At that time, on top of everything else, Bruno was broody. Every day, we had to make Bruno get up, eat, drink, and run around. Sometimes we put her in the exercise chunnel. Doodles was still depressed that Oodles was dead, so once in awhile, we took the two hens and gave them a bath, then dried and brushed their long silky feathers.  

Part 4

Soon, it was time for Ainsley’s birthday again, and we would celebrate not only her birthday, but the first birthday of our now well-grown chickens.

The morning of, we had a great time, until I went to feed the chickens. I counted all of the chickens on the bottom half of the pen, and realized that one was gone, when it hit me that Bruno was still broody.  

Yet again, another attack — except this time I was the first to see it dead. It was my mom’s favorite chicken, Bruno, and her death was on my sister’s birthday. I became stiff. I was angry, sad, and sorry all at the same time. I went inside, and instantaneously, my mom recognized my pale face and sad eyes.  I told her that Bruno was gone, and that was the start of my sister’s birthday.  I realized that day, that the deaths were never going to get any easier, but I knew that there was a price to pay for such dear love, and that was it.  

Part 5

As spring went by, and days became longer and hotter, the chickens started to have the same happy bounce that they’d had when we first got them. They were energetic and happy chickens once more.

One day, while I was playing softball, my mom and littlest sister Brynnley went to a chicken fair where people showed off their chickens and won prizes. There were contests for the fattest, biggest, and most beautiful chickens, and there were also chickens available for purchase and rent.  

While my mom and Brynnley were there, they spotted two identical, adorable chickens who reminded them of Bruno. They quickly bought them in a small cage, without telling my dad, Ainsley, or myself. My mom had already named the two Olive and Teeny. On their way back home they stopped by my softball game and told me about the chickens. They opened the trunk, and there they were, two beautiful silkies: fat, cute, and very huggable. They were the central attraction of the game.  

When I came home, I was especially excited because I wanted to see how my old chickens would react to the new ones. They would probably have to go over the pecking order all over again, and I didn’t want to see that happen. To my surprise, instead of putting Olive and Teeny outside with the rest of the chickens, my mom put them in the chunnel so that Fama, Max, Wicked, and Doodles could get used to having them around. Once in awhile, one of the chickens would visit Olive and Teeny to check them out, but Olive and Teeny would just act like they weren’t there.  

It was a while before Olive and Teeny passed, or so it seemed. It was late August, and one day when we came home from the supermarket, we went out to check on the chickens and play with them. When we did, we saw that Olive was in her small cage, not moving. We thought that she might be sitting on an egg, because she looked unharmed; there was no blood, and she looked like she was sleeping. But we got closer and couldn’t hear any peeps from her. When we tapped her, she didn’t move. I called my mom over, and she came to see what was happening.  She knelt down, lifted her, and told me that she must have had a heat stroke or a sun stroke, and that there was nothing we could do now.  

Later that day, Brynnley decided that we should make a grave for Olive. My mom helped her make one. It still stands there in my old backyard with a large stone over it, and I bet that if you spread the dirt around, you would find the small piece of paper, in bad handwriting, marking Olive’s place in the small grave and stone.  

Unfortunately, Teeny went quickly after Olive because of an unknown disease. We guessed that she was exposed to diseases in the chicken show and might have had it for a while, but by the time Olive died, the disease had taken over. We mourned our twins, and considered not owning chickens anymore, because so many were dying in our hands, but we couldn’t give up, and we didn’t.

Part 6

Soon it was fall, and the chickens had to prepare for the winter ahead of them. We refurbished their henquarters (headquarters) with new wood shavings and moved their pen to a patch of nicely cut grass.  

Doodles had become broody, so we moved her into the smaller pen. The first night she stayed in that pen she was fine, but the second night she was in for a fight.

That night, a raccoon lifted the roof of Doodles’s pen, and we guessed that he was trying to grab her, but she fought back and eventually won the battle. She hadn’t been killed, but had been badly wounded. She had lost many feathers, and it was wintertime then, so she was exposed to the cold weather. Without feathers, she might freeze or get frostbite.

That winter, we nursed her back to health and kept her inside the house for a while.  When spring returned, Doodles was much better, and was allowed to free range once again, but only for a matter of time…

Soon after, the raccoon attacked the small pen again, and this time the raccoon succeeded in killing and eating Doodles. That morning, my mom had gone out to check on Doodles and the other chickens.  The small door that let the chickens into the small pen was unlatched and open.  The raccoon had unlatched the door and eaten Doodles. This loss was especially hard because she was the last silkie, and she had been through so much. I loved Doodles so much, and this story always makes me teary.

Part 7

After Doodles’ death, it was hard t