A Sticky Situation

The race started. I started running.

“Go faster!” someone yelled.

“He’s too slow!” another voice said.

“He is slower than a turtle!” someone else shouted.

“He is a turtle!”

By the time I was halfway done, everyone else was finished. I cost the Millbury Dragons the win.

My name is Tobias. Most people call me “Turtle.” Not only because a turtle could probably beat me in a race, but also, I love turtles. I live in Millbury, and the track team is the most popular team in the town.

One day, I came home and started my homework. I got bored, so I cut a face into my glue stick with scissors. My parents called me in for dinner.

My mischievous little brother, Billy, did not come for dinner. My mom told me to check on him.

I looked all around the house for him, and there was one room left. Mine. I pushed open the door. I could not believe what I saw…

The little devil had fed my glue stick to my beloved turtle, Rob! I rushed down the stairs, nearly falling down. I told my parents. My dad took me and Rob to the vet.

I hated all of it. The smell of cats and anchovies was terrible. The only thing to do was read the magazines they had there. All of them were four-year-old Sports Illustrateds. Everyone there looked like they were 900 years old. They were staring at me like I had three heads. Maybe it was because I was crying like my mom had just died. My dad pretended like he did not know me.

The vet slowly walked into the dark waiting room. He slumped in my direction. Here it comes, I thought. Suddenly, he lurched to the left and told an old lady her cat had diabetes.

She yelled at him, “My cat is fine,”  snatched the cat, and stormed out of the room.

A different vet walked the same walk, and this time, she came to me. She asked me ice breaker questions until I asked if Rob was okay.

She sighed and said, “Sadly, I do not — ’’

She was interrupted by me bursting into tears.

My dad said, “Shut up, Tobias, this is not how sixth graders act in public,” and “It’s just an animal.”

I said, “You’re just an animal too,” and stormed out of the building.

I got Rob when I was two years old. I looked at all the animals in the shop. He was the only one who looked back at me with his sparkling blue eyes. In third grade, I brought him to school and everyone loved him. I instantly became the coolest kid in school for a week. He would make jokes like hiding in his shell and scaring me when I picked him up. In fifth grade, I needed to get one question right to pass. The options were right and left. I asked him, and he moved to the right. He got it right! No pun intended.

I thought about all these things as I walked down Lincoln Drive. It was pitch black and pouring rain. An old man with a Milbury Dragons flag opened his window and started to yell at me. He told me to quit the team. That was it.

I yelled at him, “What is wrong with you!” and took off running. I made it about three feet before I slipped and fell on the concrete, and the old man laughed his head off. I started to cry. I was very wet.

I walked a slow walk home. I took out my phone and saw that it had cracked. My parents are going to be so mad, I thought. I looked at the viral videos. I saw that the old man had taken a video of me running and falling. Oh no, I thought. All the kids at school would see it and make fun of me.

The moment I got home, I fell asleep on the couch. I was awakened by Billy.

“Tobias tutle die?” he asked.

I said, “Yes, Billy, because you’re an idiot.” Then, he started to cry.

The next day I moped through what felt like the longest day of my life. In the morning, my mom and dad talked to me to cheer me up and lecture me. My mom made pancakes in the shape of turtles. I pretended to appreciate their thoughts, even though they made me feel worse. School was not any better.

The whole school had seen the video. It had more likes than “Beep Beep I’m a Sheep,” which had 54,000. Every time I walked into a room, people were holding their laughs. But most people weren’t able to, including Everett, and he was the most popular kid in school. He was also the fastest. I was late for homeroom and was “running’’ to get there. He and his gang tripped me, and I tumbled down the stairs, and they got a video. When the bell rang and school was over, I saw Mr. Munchkin and Principal Noe Boddy watching and laughing at part two.

I walked home instead of taking the bus. How would I survive that? The bus driver had probably seen it. My backpack had started shaking. Probably just my phone, I thought and kept walking.

By the time I was home, it was six o’clock. I started my homework. I had almost finished. There was one thing left. It was a stupid worksheet where we had to glue words onto a sheet. I slowly cracked opened my pencil box. I was about to take out my glue stick when I remembered what had happened to it. Somehow, it was still there. I was a little hesitant to unscrew the cap. I almost passed out when I did.

Standing in front of me was a five-inch-tall glue stick with arms, legs, and a face. I could not believe what was right in front of me.

“Who are you, and what are you?!?!”

“I am Mr. Glue Stickers. I am a magic glue stick. Yes, I am a talking glue stick, and this is not a dream,” it said.

I asked him, “Why are you here?”

And he said, “To help you with your life! Why do think I am here?’’ To be honest, I thought I might need this kind of a miracle to get my life back together.

Mr. Glue Stickers already knew what was happening to me. The next day, which was Saturday, I woke up and was glued into my running clothes and my shoes.

“What, how?” I asked him.

“I have my ways. Didn’t I tell you I was magical? Plus, no magician ever reveals his secrets.’’

I was exhausted when I was done. To make things worse, he made me jog the distance of the neighborhood three times!  I guess hard work pays off, because, in four weeks, I could actually beat a first grader in a race!

I still had one thing that still bothered me more than anything else: my turtle. The empty tank on my desk was very depressing.

“I’m a qualified therapist, you know. “

“There is no way that is possible.”

“Check the wrapper.”

There it was. It said, “Qualified Therapist.” Wait a minute! It looked like he wrote it in sharpie!

I doubted that he was telling the truth, but it felt good to finally tell someone how I felt. I might have no more problems! Boy, was I wrong.

The next day at track practice, Coach Caramel Cookie had something to say to me.

“Tobias Trinckleton, you’re off the team.”

“What!?!” I said with disbelief in my voice.

“You’re off the team.”

“What!!!” I said again, about to burst into tears.

“Do you need hearing aids? You’re off the team. Bye-bye! Adios! See you never!”

“Why?!!”

“Because you are bad at running. Now leave!”

Who knew a cookie could be so mean?

***

One week later, I was at the tryouts for the Running Cabbages. They had never won a race in their entire existence. I had brought Mr. Glue Stickers with me.

“Are you ready for this?“

“No.’’

“Just relax. Use what we have learned. Okay?”

“All I have learned is running sucks.”

“Really? Wow. Just quit, then.”

“No.”

“Try your best.”

“Okay.”

“We are going to crush that cookie. We are going to dip him in milk and shove him in our mouth.”

He was talking about how the Cabbages race the Dragons once a year.

“Okay.”

The tryouts were easy, even for me. Everyone there was horrible at running, though. One kid even tripped on his laces and still made the team. Everyone did. At the end, the coach, Coach Cucumber, had a talk with us.

“You guys are the best! Cabbages on three. Ready? One, two, three.”

No one said a word.

We lost every race. Only parents came to the races, but even they would rather sit in their cars. With every race, I was getting better. Mr. Glue Stickers and I still practiced every day. On the other hand, the Dragons had won every race. It was time for the big race, and we were not ready.

I was the the best runner on the team now. With practice, I could run more and more. The Cabbages never beat the Dragons. If we were going to win, I would have to run the best I had ever run in my whole life.

We arrived at the big race. As soon as we got off of the bus, we could hear the Dragons gossiping about our team. They were talking about our record, our team name, but most importantly, they were talking about me.

“They have the turtle on their team,” said Everett. Everyone laughed at that one, even Coach Cookie.

It was time for my final race, the 100 meters. We needed to win this one to win the competition. My heart was beating faster than ever before. I felt like I had to throw up. We lined up at the start.

Bang! They fired the starting gun. I ran as fast as I could. I was in the back. I almost gave up. That is when Mr. Glue Stickers poked his head out of my pocket.

“Take the glue out of my container and squeeze it,’’ he said. “It will kill me but you will win the race.”

“No!!! I do not want you to die!”

“It is fine, you do not need me any more.”

“It is more than that. You are my best friend. First, my turtle and now you! No way!”

I thought for a second. He really reminded me of my turtle.

“That really touches my heart, but I will have to leave soon anyway. So you leave me with no choice.’’

He jumped out of his container.

“No!!!” I yelled. Everyone stared at me.

I did what he asked. I squeezed him. I instantly started running faster. I passed every one. Now, I was only behind Everett. He did not see me though. He started to slow down and celebrate. That is when I passed him.

“I win, I win, I win!” he yelled.

I was about to pass him.

“Nope, you are wrong. I win!” I yelled, as I passed the finish line.

“What!?! Noooooooo!!!” Everett whined.

My teammates lifted me up with cheers.

“Hip hip hooray!” yelled Coach Cucumber. Everyone stared at him. He is very weird. I started to cry tears of joy and sadness. My dad and brother walked over to me.

“I am sorry for not understanding what that turtle meant to you,” Dad said.

“I’m sorry for killing it,” said Billy.

“Don’t be. I forgive you.”

“Let’s get ice cream,” said Dad.

“Yeah!!!” shouted Billy.

 

EPILOGUE

News of the race quickly spread around town. The video of me running was now the new big deal. The old man even bought a Running Cabbages shirt! I was in the newspaper. That still was not the biggest surprise.

“Tobias,” Coach Cookie said to me after school, “I want you on my team next year.”

“No way.’’

“Why not?” He sounded surprised and disappointed at the same time.

“You and your team are so rude! You kicked me off the team and were not nice about it. Plus, I like my new team. They actually care about having fun instead of winning!”

“I am sorry, turtle,” he chuckled.

“I am now proud to be a turtle!” I said and walked away.

 

THE END

 

Take Care of Me

       

Prologue

 

Her heart was beating really fast. Her stomach had butterflies in it. She wanted to know who her new owner would be. You must be wondering how she came to know, right? Well, Lucy is a smart cockapoo puppy, and believe it or not, she can read. I know, it’s a bit unusual, right?

Lucy’s breeder taped a paper to her cage that said, “Lucy is officially bought.”

Lucy really hoped that she would get a wonderful family as owners, and she did. A family walked into the house and made themselves comfortable on the couch. It was a family of four. Lucy played with them for a while. But as the Johnson family played with her, they were talking to the breeder, and Lucy heard and understood everything they said. The father’s name was Bob, the mother’s name was Emma, the oldest child was David, who was seventeen at the time, and there was Alexandra, who was nine.

Alexandra was going to be taking care of Lucy the most.

***

It has been three years since Lucy moved into the Johnson’s house. The parents work full-time and have to take care of Sara, (who is one and a half), the newest addition to the family. David is busy at college and only comes home on the weekends. Last but not least, there is Alexandra. Well, lots have changed between her and Lucy since the day Lucy was bought. Lots.

 

Part 1: LUCY

I was taking a walk with Alexandra. Her family really needs to get a new leash for me. This one keeps scratching me on my neck. A short while after, there was an adorable puppy walking towards us with her mother, and their owner Stephanie, who was Alexandra’s best friend. So, we all stopped to say hi. While Alexandra and Stephanie began to talk about school,  the puppy and her mother walked up to me. That was when I realized that the puppy’s mom was a good friend of mine. We used to play in the garden together. But that was only a year ago. I am three years old, and so is she. The only difference is that she has a mate and a five-week puppy, and I don’t. For me, finding a male is very hard considering that the Johnson family only wants me to mate with a pure bred.  

The puppy’s mom’s name is Feila, and her daughter’s name is Chloe. When Feila saw me, she said, “Oh my! Is that really you, Lucy? You look as if you haven’t taken a bath in a year.”

Poodles are so annoying these days. I, on the other hand, am a mix of a poodle, but I’m not as rude.

I just said, “Yes, it is really me. And my grooming schedule is none of your business.” Okay, maybe I went too rough on her that time.

All I was trying to do was change the subject. “Chloe is an adorable puppy!” I was trying to tell Feila.

But she pushed me away and said, “Stay away from my daughter! I do not want her to be around people who do not have a mate.” Unfortunately, Alexandra didn’t notice.

Then Feila chased me across the street. She is really threatening! I just wish Alexandra would stop talking to her friend for just one minute. She and her friend both let go of all the leashes! Chloe stayed behind, as her mother chased me. Once we got to the other side of the road, Feila toppled me over, and scratched me on my back, leaving a big scar.

The brat left me there to try and get up myself. I was in major pain! Then, to come and “save” me, three men lifted me from the pavement. Then, they took a garbage bag and wrapped it around me as if it were a blanket. I just thought that they were poor people trying to help me. I was wrong!

Those people carried me to a car. That was when they began to torture me. First, they took this weird, black liquid which was in a tiny little bottle, and they forcefully opened my mouth and poured it in. It tasted horrible! Then I felt really dizzy and my whole body became really weak. All of a sudden, I fell. I didn’t just fall after standing on the floor, I fell after standing on a six-foot-tall platform. I felt like I just died.

When I woke up, I found myself in a tiny cage with no water or food. I was starving, in pain, and I was weak.

Then, this young woman walked up to me, and she sat down with a baby bottle full of greenish-black liquid. “Hi there… let me see… oh hi there Lucy. My name is Mary, and I am 19-years-old and a volunteer at this rescue shelter. I know you have no idea what I am saying, but I don’t care because I am a loner,” she said.

That was when it hit me. I was brought to a rescue shelter!

But why? I was fine and healthy. I thought for a moment. Oh yeah! I was resting my body, so it didn’t hurt as much. I didn’t think Alexandra was going to be very happy, and neither were her parents.

Mary then took me out of my cage, and she made a baby face at me.

In my head, I said, “Um…hello? I am 3 and a half years old. Show me some respect!”

Then she put me on her lap and stuck the bottle in my mouth. It was very uncomfortable. I just wish that Alexandra included my age along with my name and phone number on my collar.

I have no idea what that liquid was, but I just couldn’t drink that everyday! I needed to get out of there! There were two tiny rooms. I have seen the first room before, and it was filled with about 15 dogs, all squirming. Those poor dogs had no place to breathe. The second room was the room I was in. This room had five other dogs. They all looked old, weak, and ugly. No offense.

The only good thing about being away from home was that I didn’t have to lie around the house all day doing nothing except playing with Alexandra for about five to ten minutes, and taking a walk around the block three times a week. Sara was only about to turn two, so I couldn’t blame her. David was busy with his college applications. Their parents weren’t the best at all. They gave me the most un-free life! I couldn’t go outside to do my business when I had to, and I was always locked in a tiny room with little food and water for about three hours whenever they had guests. That was almost everyday.

The Johnson family is nice and all, but it was almost as if they were tired of me. I had lived with them for three years, and the amount of eagerness they had to play and spend time with me had decreased, while I cared about them the same as I always did, which is a lot. Now, they all just said hi, good morning, good night, they wished a happy holidays, and all of them gave me a hug once in awhile. The hardest part is that I am a sensitive dog, and these things really bug me.

 

Part 2: ALEXANDRA

After a one-hour conversation with Stephanie, we both found out that we would soon be in big trouble. We were so deep into our conversation that we had let go of the dog leashes. Feila and Chloe had sat down beside Stephanie, wagging their tails happily. The problem was that Lucy was nowhere to be seen!

I think she ran away. Why would Lucy do such a thing? She usually cares about me and my family so much! After looking everywhere for another hour, I went back home, ready to face my parents.

On my way back home, I began to think back to when I had a lot of homework, and I pushed Lucy away when she wanted to play. I got it! Lucy ran away because she wanted to go somewhere where she would get more attention. I was annoyed at Lucy for running away, but at the same time, I just wish that I had spent more time with her. At this point, I was a block away from my house, and I had one minute to think of what I was going to say to them.

As I walked through the door, I saw David on the couch watching TV, and Sara crawling in circles. Then I said, “David, where’s mom and dad?”

He stared at me for a while and then replied, “They haven’t come home from New York yet. Why are you so eager?” Then his jaw dropped when he saw an empty leash in my hand. “Where is Lucy?! I knew you would lose her! You’re so untrustworthy! Keep your shoes on. We are going to look for her until we find her. And go call mom and dad!” He was furious.

This was the total opposite of what I thought his reaction would be. He never cares about Lucy! I know that sounds weird coming from me, but it’s true! When he yelled at me, I said sorry, and then I began to cry. I knew that this was mostly all my fault, but I still missed her. I took the phone and dialed my parents’ number, still having a million tears coming down my face at a time.

“Hello?” I said into the phone.

“Yes, Alexandra, what’s wrong?”

That was when I told them the whole story. I could tell that my parents were going to blow up.

“Alexandra Rose Johnson! When we got Lucy, you promised us that you would take care of her 100%! We are coming there right now!”

“Fine,” I said. “Bye.”

When they came home, we had a long discussion about responsibility. As my parents were deciding on my punishment, I felt a surge of anger at them.

“You guys think I’m untrustworthy, but you are terrible owners! All you care about is if her mate is a pure bred! Why don’t you ever think of her health, her needs, or her feelings!” I suddenly yelled. I waited for them to say something, but since they were so surprised that words actually came out of my mouth in that tone, I stormed out of my house to go look for my dog.

                                            

Part 3: LUCY

Yuck! That milk tasted like puke! I was forced to finish it, but I don’t even think it was white! Dogs are color-blind, but that milk was more on the dark gray side. Mary picked me up and mumbled something to me. I couldn’t understand her very well, but I just heard, “Lucy,” “Take,” and “Home.” Yay! From what I understood, Mary was going to take me home with her! I’m no longer going to have to stay in this stupid dumpster-like shelter… Turns out, I was 100% correct about what Mary was telling me. I’m going home with her this exact afternoon!

Finally, after a 30 minute car ride, we were finally home! Wow. I just found out that Mary is still in college. That’s probably why she always brought  homework with her. Mary lived in a small house with her two friends, Bella and Riley, who were very nice to me. They had a big yard with dog toys scattered around, a big dog house, and a huge fenced wall. I guess they have had other dogs come over. Good. Then maybe they’ll be different from the Johnsons,and know that dogs have feelings too.

***

One night later, everything changed. I feel like I might still have a part in my heart for Alexandra, but it’s a small part. I have now moved on to Mary. Yesterday, all four of us went to a dog park. There, I could run around playing with other dogs, but I still was not allowed out of Mary’s, Bella’s, or Riley’s sight. They wanted me to be happy. I could tell. But, I could also tell that they had fear in their eyes that my owners would come soon. When I first arrived at the shelter, a lady called the number on my leash about 10 times. Then, the shelter’s boss called and left a voicemail saying that I am going to be taken to Mary’s house. Mary and her friends didn’t call, because they didn’t want me to leave.

I think Mary is a much better owner than Alexandra. When we take a walk, she never starts a conversation with anyone in our way. She always wants to keep me in her sight. I just wish Alexandra would be more like her. I used to have a bond with Alex, but that wore off as she got older. My bond with Mary just keeps getting stronger. I don’t know if I really want Alexandra to come back for me.

Part 4: ALEXANDRA

I have knocked on doors, which didn’t work, and I have called several shelters. Now, here I am, looking down at the very last shelter that we are going to call for today. I am so nervous that I’m sweating! Why do phones have to take such a long time to ring?… Yes! They finally picked up!

“Hello?” said a young woman.

“Hi! I’m Alexandra Johnson, and I was wondering if you have my dog, Lucy, in your shelter.”

“Um, hold on one sec. I’m gonna have to check the files.”

“Okay,” I said, sounding hopeful. That lady took five minutes — that felt like five hours — finding those files!

“You’re in some sort of luck. Your dog was brought to our shelter, but was taken home by one of our volunteers.”

“Oh… what is this volunteer’s name, and where does she live?” I sounded like I was in a hurry.

“Well, her name is Mary Burke.” As the lady told me her address, I wrote it down.

Then, the whole family jumped in the car, and Dad drove over the speed limit. All of us wanted to make sure that Lucy was okay. Even Sara was whining and kept screaming the word “doggy.”

After a ten minute drive, we reached a small house with a huge yard. Then, we all got out and walked to the front door like a pack. I rang the doorbell, and out came a young, pretty woman holding my dog. My mom explained why we were there to her. Then, Mary put Lucy down and let me hug my dog. She then let us in, apologizing for taking our dog home, not knowing Lucy had owners.

A short while later, I put the leash on Lucy, and said goodbye and thank you to Mary and her friend. As we were walking out the door, Lucy barked loudly and ran back to Mary. That was a big back-stabbing moment.

Mary crouched down to Lucy and whispered, “I promise that I will come and visit you.” After that, she looked up at us, and we nodded. Then she hugged Lucy real tight.

 

***

“You guys can drive home. I think I’m gonna walk Lucy. I’ll see you there.”

“Okay. But stay safe and please don’t lose her again.” I kept calm when they said that.

I let them drive away. Then the talking began.

“I am so sorry Lucy! I know I should have never taken my eyes off of you! Now, I understand that you have feelings too! Please forgive me! I promise that from now on, I will play with you whenever you want to, and I will give you more attention.”

At that point, Stephanie was walking towards me with Feila. Then, I suddenly remembered that this was when Lucy was taken! So, I decided to do an experiment with my best friend and her dog. I started conversation with Stephanie, still keeping Feila and Lucy in the corner of my eye. Then Feila picked up her paw and was about to scratch Lucy, but I screamed to scare Feila. After my scream, she put her hand down.

“I knew it!” I yelled. “Last time you and I were talking, Feila must have scratched Lucy, making the people from the rescue shelter think that Lucy needed to be rescued.”

Stephanie just looked at me in disbelief. “How dare you accuse my sweet little Feila for doing such a thing! Your little, puny dog probably tripped over your big feet without you noticing, and fell onto the street.” I just looked at her with anger and tears in my eyes. “And if you want my dog to stay away from your disgusting dog, then I don’t want to be your friend at all!”

“Fine! That would be great!” I paused, waiting for her to say something, and she did.

“Luckily, I am moving out of the state for good!”

“Whatever,” I rolled my eyes, “I don’t want to see you ever again anyway. Bye Stephanie.” Then, I quickly walked past her and started sobbing.

“Lucy, I did that for you! I did that to prove to you that you are the best pet anyone could ever have. And you can mate with a mixed breed if you want.” I don’t think I have ever cried that much. “Bark three times if you forgive me.” Lucy barked three times and then I gave her a big hug and let her lick my face.

 

Part 5

When Alexandra and Lucy walked into the house, the whole family was waiting in an awkward circle formation.

“Alex, take Lucy’s leash off, and sit down. We have some talking to do.” Alex’s mom sounded a bit regretful. Alexandra let Lucy free and sat comfortably on the couch. As Lucy was freed from the leash, she ran to Sara, making sure she didn’t fall while attempting to stand up.

“I owe you all an apology,” Alex said. “I may have overreacted before, but that was only because I wanted to protect her and be a better owner. But, can you all please promise Lucy that she can mate with any dog she wants? Well, that is if she wants to mate at all.” Lucy shook her head trying to say no.

“Alex, we accept your apology. And Lucy, you don’t have to mate if you don’t want to.”

Suddenly, Sara shouted, “Yucy! Yucy! Yucy, come! Mommy! Doggy gone!” Sara’s lower lip stuck out, and she was about to cry. Lucy was out of sight.

“Wait, what? Did we lose Lucy again?” Alexandra panicked. “Sara, were you playing hide and seek?”

“Yeth.”

 

Alex sighed in relief. “Lucy, come out!” A tiny head poked out from under the couch. “Good girl!”

Then, the Johnsons laughed together as a family.

 

Epilogue

A few weeks after the reunion, the Johnson family was not expecting anyone. But, at 10 a.m. the doorbell rang.

“I’ll get it!” shouted David. When he opened the door, he said, “Oh, hey Mary. Come in. What’s up?” Then he shouted into the house, “Hey, Mom, come downstairs! It’s your only chance to meet my girlfriend! You too, Alexandra!” David’s mom came racing down the stairs with Alexandra beside her.

Alex and her mom’s mouths dropped. “This is your girlfriend? She’s the one that took Lucy home!” Their mom hugged Mary tightly.

After a couple of hours, Alex and Mary took Lucy for a walk. During the walk, Mary and Alexandra got to know each other.

“Mary, I don’t think I ever said thank you. So, thank you for taking good care of Lucy while she was gone.”

“No problem.” Then Mary gave Alexandra a big hug. At that exact moment, Stephanie, Feila, and Chloe drove by with their heads sticking out of the car.

“Say bye forever, Lucy.”

Then, Lucy, with a smirk on her face, barked.

 

Un-Normal Life

Once upon a time, there was a girl named Emily and her younger brother named Henry. They were the children of Mrs. and Mr. Gorr. Mrs. and Mr. Gorr were the most evil of the most evil of them all. Emily and her brother went to a normal school, but lived an abnormal life.

Dear Diary,

Today was a lot like yesterday. I went to school, got an A+ on my test, and when I came home, my parents didn’t care, like always. I live an abnormal life because, well, my parents get a lot of calls from the agent about something or somewhere they have to be, and it feels like they don’t even care. Instead of calling the cable company to talk about how our T.V.is broken, that is what a normal family would do.

Good night, Diary.

Ding-Dong!

“We are home!” yelled Mr.Gorr.

“Mom and Dad, errr… I mean, Mrs. Gorr and Mr. Gorr, I got an A+ on my test…” Emily said. I am kind of worried about what they will say, she thought.

“That’s great.” Mr. Gorr said calmly.

“So you don’t care. Good night, thanks for talking,” Emily said.

“Honey, I mean Emily, did you finish the chores?” Mrs. Gorr said.

“Yes, I did. I cleaned up the kitchen, the bathroom, and the all the rooms,” said Emily.

The next morning, Emily woke up to the sound of her parents practicing their welcome speech for the agents. Emily walked downstairs to get herself a banana. In this house, there was barely any food, so fruit was the way to go.

Bring Bring.

“Ms. and Mr. Gorr, the school bus is here. Come on, Henry. We don’t have all day!!” Emily yelled.

On the bus, Emily flipped to a blank page of her diary. She stared at her diary and wrote…

Dear Diary,

I am on the bus. What should I do? I really hate how my parents are evil. You might think that is cool, but no, it gets annoying. Here is a secret that I have not told anyone, but I will tell you… my parents are evil, right? I am scared that if my parents get caught and end up in jail, that I would then have to take care of Henry, and I would have to try and save them. Also, today Mr. Burk is giving us a piece of paper, and we have to write about our main goals in life. Since we are in sixth grade, we need to know our lifetime goals.

Thanks for listening, Diary!

“We are at school,” yelled the bus driver.

“Today, class, I want you to write down what is your goal in life. I know this is a strong question, but I know you can do it!” said Mr. Burk. “Here is your piece of paper, and here is your piece of paper, Emily. You can start, class.”

Okay, Emily, what do you want most? I don’t want people to know my parents are evil, but I really want to tell the class. I have an idea.

“Okay class, time to share. First up… Emily!” said Mr. Burk.

“Okay, uhm… so… my goal is to make my parents not be on their… um… phones?!” Emily said.

She ran back to her seat and sat and slumped down.

That night, Emily did her usual diary entry:

Dear Diary,

Okay, so today at school was the worst day at school: 1. We did what we always do. 2. Then it happened. I had to tell the class about what my main goal in life is. That is when bad things happened. I just don’t want to talk about it, okay!

Good night, Diary.

“Emily!” yelled Mrs. Gorr.

“Yes?” Emily yelled back.

“We have a family meeting. Henry, come on. Let’s go. Family meeting,” said Mrs. Gorr.

“Okay, so me and Mr. Gorr have been getting phone calls from the… um… the agent?” spoke Mrs. Gorr.

Uggggghhh, Emily thought to herself.

“Um… well… there is a mission in New York.” muttered Mrs. Gorr.

WE ARE MOVING TO NEW YORK CITY!!!” yelled Mr. Gorr.

***

“Flight 19675 leaving San Francisco, the beautiful great bay and going to New York,” said the pilot. When they got on the plane, Emily sat with her brother. Mr. and Mrs. Gorr sat behind them. A couple hours later, the flight attendant came by and said the food was coming. The plane had a weird smell, a mixture of new chair smell and fresh sandwiches. When they got their food, Emily got a Coke and a bag of chips, and Henry had a ginger ale and pretzels.

“Hello everyone. We are about to land in New York City. If you’re coming home, welcome home, but if you’re just staying here, then enjoy your trip!” yelled the pilot.

When they got to the new house, it was so much better then the house they used to have. The house was brownstone, had marble countertops and brown cupboards, and in the living room ,there were light gray chairs with a gray couch, and big windows to let in the sunlight. In Emily’s bedroom, there were blue walls to match the baby blue bed covers. She had a white desk with pens, pencils, and paper on it. Emily was a neat person, so everything on the desk was neat. In the backyard, there was a grill for Mr. Gorr and a garden for Mrs. Gorr.

“Mrs. Gorr can I take a walk around the neighborhood?”

“Sure, but grab your phone just in case of emergency.”

On her walk, Emily was listening to her favorite song: Classic by MKTO. While she was walking, she saw a girl on her house steps. She took out her earbuds and walked over to her, and said:

“Hi, my name is Emily and I just moved here.”

“Nice to meet you, Emily. My name is Katie. I just moved here too, from California.”

“Wow, I just moved here too, from California. Do you know where you lived?”

“Los Angeles.”

“Oh, do you know what school you’re going to?”

“Well, I’m going to St. Mark’s Elementary and I’m going into seventh grade.”

“Oh same, I’m going into seventh grade at St. Mark’s Elementary too! Do you know what class you’re in?”

“I’m in Mrs. Patterson’s class.”

“Oh, so am I!”

Katie’s mom came out of the house. “It’s time for dinner, honey! Oh hi, and who are you?”

“I’m Emily and I just moved here from San Francisco.”

“Wow, we just moved here from LA!”

“Mom, she knows!

“Well it was nice to meet you, Emily.”

“Nice to meet you too.”

“EMILY, IT’S TIME FOR DINNER!” Emily heard her mom shout from down the block.

“I’m sorry, I have to go. My mom’s calling me for dinner.” Emily ran back home.

“Honey, who were you talking to?” Emily’s mom said.

“Oh, a girl named Katie. She’s going to the same school as me and we’ll be in the same class.”

At school the next day, they gave her her locker number, number 23. 25… 24… 23.

“Oh, found it!” Emily saw Katie in the distance, who was panting.

“Finally, I caught up to you! Guess what? I’m locker 22.”

“I’m locker 23!”

The bell rang. It was time for class. Emily went to science class and so did Katie. They sat next to each other, not really listening to the teacher that well. “Remember class, we have a science fair coming up. The theme is outer space! Remember, it is on May 23rd from twelve o’clock till two,” the teacher said.

After science class, it was time for assembly. They all gathered up in the gym. While everyone was walking in, the gym was crowded and hot. Everyone was packed in the gym like sardines. All of a sudden, there was a big noise. It was the principal, Ms. James. Ms. James said through the loudspeaker:

“More information about the science fair! It’s going to be on a Friday so you should probably pack a lunch because the cafeteria won’t be open. You guys should be there at 11:30 to set up. You can invite parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, and friends. The judges will decide who has the best outer space themed science project and will win the first place prize: a blue ribbon.”

On the bus ride home, Emily felt kind of nervous asking her parents to come to the science fair. Would they be available or would they be on a mission?

“Emily Gorr, Emily Gorr, this is your stop!” the bus driver shouted.

At home, she decided right then and there to ask her parents.

“Hey Mrs. Gorr and Mr. Gorr, our school is having a science fair and parents are allowed to come. Will you guys be able to come? It’s on May 23rd from twelve o’clock until two.”

“Well, let me go check my calendar. I’ll be right back. Start your homework,” Mrs. Gorr said.

When Mrs. Gorr came back downstairs, she sounded suspicious. “Well sweetheart, we can’t make it. That’s the day of our mission and that’s why me moved to New York.”

“Well, do you know if Uncle Sharron and Aunt Mia can come?”

“I’m sorry sweetheart, but they can’t come either. They are about to move to California. Maybe Katie’s parents can come to your station.”

“Sure, but it won’t be as nice.”

Emily went upstairs and started working on her science project. She decided to do a model of the Big Bang. Emily felt disappointed, so she decided to write in her diary.

Dear Diary,

Today Ms. James announced that the science fair would be on May 23rd, and of course my parents can’t come. I’m not surprised. Why can’t they come to any of my projects? I guess the missions are much more important. I remember when I was younger, when my parents did not have the mission job. We went to movies a lot, they hung out with me, and I got to call them mom and dad. I guess my parents’ job is just like the big bang because before the earth happened, there was just a galaxy and before my parents got the job, it was just us. Thanks for listening, Diary. Goodnight.

The next couple of days were not as bad as I thought they would be. The night before the science fair was a hard night. Emily was working really hard. On the morning of the science fair, her parents started putting on all of their gear to go to the mission. They loaded up the car and drove away without saying goodbye or “Have a good day” or “Wish you luck”. She waited for Katie’s parents to come down the block and take Henry and Emily. In the car, Katie, Henry, and Emily were talking about our summer plans. Katie was going to sleepaway camp and Emily was staying home like usual.

At the science fair, the judges were coming around and looking at all of their projects. When the judges spoke into the microphone about who won first, second and third place, Emily started listening.

“In third place is… Madeline Star. In second place is… Chelsea Super. And we have a tie for first place! In first place is… Emily Gorr and Katie Blue!”

“Yay! We both won and got a blue ribbon!” They screamed.

At dinner, Emily’s parents were not really congratulating her on the big win. They were more focused on their mission.

“So Mr. Gorr and Mrs. Gorr, I won first place on my science project!”

“We aced the mission! Everything went smoothly and gracefully.”

“Oh, Mr. and Mrs. Gorr, I can show you some pictures!”

“Before we go into those pictures, let me tell you some stuff about the mission. The new agent is terrible! We need to fire her.”

“Emily and Henry, go straight upstairs and go to bed!”

“But it’s only 7:45 and I want to talk about my science fair.”

“No! I know you want to talk about the science fair but there’s always morning. End of discussion.”

At the next day of school, Principal James started talking about the art fair. Emily had an idea, a really good one. She decided to take a canvas, balloons, paints, and darts. She would fill the balloons up with paint and blow them up, then attach them to the canvas and when she hung up the canvas, you could throw darts at the balloons and paint would come out and splatter everywhere! It was on June 2nd from twelve o’clock to two o’clock. On the bus ride home, she thought about the art fair. She knew her parents would not come. She didn’t even bother to ask but her parents knew all about it from an e-mail.

“Hey Emily, there’s a new art fair coming up, but I’m sorry we can’t make it. We have a meeting with her new agent.”

“Great, again two times in a row you can’t make it. You probably think the missions are more important than me.” She stormed upstairs, slammed her door, and locked it.

“Emily!” shouted Mrs. Gorr. Emily didn’t respond.

“Emily please, I know we haven’t been to any of your school things but we’ll make it up to you in the summer time. I’m really sorry, honey.”

Then Mr. Gorr came in. “Where’s Emily?”

“She’s upstairs pouting in her room.”

“How come?”

“Because we’re not coming to her art fair, and we didn’t go to her science fair.”

The day of the art fair, Emily won first place, no ties. But that night at dinner, when her parents asked her how the art fair was, she didn’t respond. She just went up to her room and said, “I’m going to finish my homework.”

The next morning when Emily came downstairs her parents yelled “SURPRISE!!!”

“But is is not my birthday!?” Emily said, very confused.

“We felt very bad that we didn’t come to your art and science fair and these two things hopefully will make it up: 1. You can call us mom and dad and 2. We are quitting our jobs and now will be high school teachers at the Chapin School!” said Emily’s mom. “We love you so much, Emily.”

 

THE END

 

Bionic Girl

BOOM!

The starting gun was fired, and we started the race. We ran across the track, jumping over hurdles. As I sped over the finish line, I smiled. I may not have been first, but I did my best, and that’s what matters. I am Lily, and this is my story.

***

Eight years ago, when I was four, my family and I were struck by a truck on the highway. The truck driver seemed drunk and didn’t notice our car when he was changing lanes. We tumbled off of the hill we were driving on. As we did, the window by me shattered. After that, everything went black.

I think I woke up in the hospital. I couldn’t see anything, but I sensed it all. The beeping of the machines, the groans of the other people in the hospital. I sat up in my bed. I heard a nurse say something to the doctor, who must have stayed with me.

“Can you see?” he asked me. I shook my head.

“The window broke when you fell down that hill. The particles of glass fell into your eyes. They blinded you. You are blind.” He sounded very sorry to say it.

“Where’s my mom and dad?” I asked. You see, I wasn’t that worried about my eyes as I was about my parents.

“Your mother is all right. We just need her to spend the night at the hospital for inspection, just like we need to do with you. As for your father… ” His voice trailed off in such a way that made me very squirmy inside.

“What happened to my dad?” I asked.

“He died right after the accident after jumping in front of your mother to save her.”

“I need my mom!” I cried.

So the hospital sent my mom in a room with me. We talked and cried into the night because both my vision and my dad were gone.

I was homeschooled because of my vision. My mother taught me everything I need, not just math and science, but other things too. She told me to be strong, and not to let anything get to me. She said that people who cry and complain are weak. To be strong, I needed to be willing to accept change. Though this seemed harsh at first, I understood, and her advice helped me a lot.

One fine summer day, when I was twelve, my mother told me to get ready quickly, and that we had to go somewhere. When I asked where, she said I was going to school. I thought she was kidding, so I laughed. Then my mom dropped the bomb: “I have enrolled you in the St. George’s School, a private school. So, I have set up a meeting with the principal, Mr. Ryland. He’s super nice, hopefully, and he will give you a tour of the school. Don’t worry, it’s only July, so if you don’t like the school, I could always cancel.”

“Why? I like staying with you,” I said. Did she want to get rid of me? I don’t want to be alone!

“Well, you’re an only child. I think that staying with other normal children can help you, and you can experience real life.”

“Just in case you didn’t notice, I can barely get through the house by myself! You expect me to get through a school!” I never lash out at my mom. I don’t know what came across me, but I was mad.

“Just take the tour, please,” she said.

“Fine,” I grumbled. So my mom helped me get upstairs and get ready, and then helped me come down and eat. She handed me something. It was long and smooth, and the top of it felt kind of squishy.

“This is a cane,” she said. You don’t need to use it like an old person, just every now and then, gently stick it out in front of you to see if there is anything in front of you. Just don’t hit anyone with it,” she laughed.

Hand in hand, we went into the car, and drove to the St. George’s School. We walked together to the main office, where a female voice greeted us, and told us where to go to get to the principal’s office.

“You ready?” I nodded. She opened the door. Inside was a man with a loud booming voice.

“Hey, Lily! I’ve been expecting ya! Are ya ready for the tour?” he yelled. He must have looked kind of strange too, because I felt my mom stifle a laugh. “So, yer mom’s told me all about ya! She said yer smart, and really good at mental math. First, I’m gonna take ya to the gym, then to yer homeroom, then to the other classes. After that, the performing arts center, also known as the stage, and then we’ll loop back to my office! You good with that?” Without waiting for me to answer, he led us out the office, and I felt a cool breeze come upon us that gave me goosebumps. His strong grip led my mother and me down the hall, down the stairs, into someplace that felt warm, sticky, and smelled like sweat.

“This is the gym,” he boomed. The gym’s emptiness made his voice even louder and echo a bit. “The track’s outside, and the pool’s by the locker rooms, but we ain’t goin there today. We’re focusin’ on the gym. Hey, you might even want to start runnin’. Ya never know.”

Why did he think I could run? Even if I wanted to, the coach would probably just keep me on the sides anyway. I would crash into the walls and other people. My dad was the family runner. Not me.

Mr. Ryland led us back upstairs into a room.

“This is Mrs. Olanski, yer homeroom teacher. She teaches math.” A much gentler, slender hand, which must have Mrs. Olanski’s, held mine and led me to my desk.

“I put your desk close to the door, so that you won’t have any problems with getting into your seat. Whenever we have a test, I will read you the questions, and write them down for you. Otherwise, you won’t be treated like a little kid.”

Mrs. Olanski is awesome, I thought. Usually, people like me are treated like babies and adults use that singy-songy voice. Mrs. Olanski, on the other hand, treated me like a human. A normal one.

“Come on, you! We don’t have all day to tour the school! Let’s go to the science room!” boomed Mr. Ryland. We said bye to Mrs. Olanski, and went to the next room.

“Hi, I’m Mr. Daren. This year, you’ll be learning about all sorts of cool stuff.”

His voice was smiling. It was deep, but not as deep and Mr. Ryland’s, and I liked it. It was also much quieter.

“It’s my first year here, too, so I’m just about as nervous as you are,” he whispered, probably to me. After that, Mr. Ryland led my mom and I across the hall to the English room. A fragile, wrinkly hand led me to my desk.

“I am Miss Bonnie. The English language is the most important thing to understand, for talking with the improper grammar can lead to many more mistakes in life, Ryan Ryland.” Her voice sounded dangerous.

I stifled a laugh. Miss Bonnie started talking to me back in her sweet old lady voice again.

“I love to teach. Children are the best things, next to the proper use of English, aren’t they, dearie?”

“Uh, I guess so,” I said. We went to history after that. Mr. Jenkins, the teacher, told me it was his retiring year. Then “the stage.” And then we left. School’s gonna be easy, I thought, before I went to sleep that night. I was so wrong.

***

Two months later, I found myself in the car, with my mom driving me to school.

“Stop biting your nails,” my mom said. “You’re going to bite your fingers off!”

I couldn’t help it. I was so nervous. I stopped biting my nails, but started again no more than three minutes later. My mom sighed.

“It’s going to be okay. You don’t need to worry.” But how could I not worry? So I stayed very worried.

I felt the car make a large turn and then stop. My mom helped me out of the car, and we walked to the school. She opened the door, and we walked down the hallway. Then, she let go of me.

“I need you to get used to walking without me, okay? Remember, I can’t always hold your hand now, honey. I’ll be right next to you for now.” Now, I was really annoyed. Couldn’t we have practiced this at home?

So I stumbled around until I found room 301, Mrs. Olanski’s room. I heard my mom whisper, “Bye,” and leave. Great. Now I was all alone too. I found my desk and sat down. The room was quiet. So I was.

Mrs. Olanski took attendance, and started teaching us. When we were supposed to take notes, she walked right over and whispered to me, “You don’t need to, until Miss Bonnie can help you start writing. For now, your mind is your notebook.”

Next, we had history with Mr. Jenkins, a man whose voice sounded so squeaky he was comparable to a mouse. He didn’t really care.

Then we had Art. I stunk. I mean, how does the teacher expect me to do stuff if I can’t even see my work and supplies?

When we had lunch, I found a table that was empty and sat down. As I ate my sandwich, I ignored the snickers of some students behind me until I realized I was sitting on something very cold and squishy. I immediately stood up and inspected what I had been sitting on, which only made the laughs behind me louder. It was an ice cream sandwich. One of the kids behind me said, “Are you blind?”

Without waiting for my answer, he shouted, “Hey, Alex! This kid’s blind!” I mumbled something in reply and tried to sit somewhere else, but they kept on following me. I ended up stumbling my way into the girl’s bathroom, where I locked myself into a stall and ate there. I cried a little too.

I sat in the back of the room in Science. Mr. Daren may have noticed, but didn’t say anything.

I sat out in gym. There wasn’t much to do.

In English, I again took the seat at the very back of the room. Miss Bonnie noticed and asked me if anything was wrong, but I denied.

Every day went on like this until the beginning of November. That’s when things changed. At lunch that day, something weird happened. Someone sat down on my table. I felt the table shake as they pulled their chair in. By now, the boys weren’t doing the ice cream sandwich thing anymore because I always felt the chair before I sat down. But they were still doing rude things to me. I figured it was one of them, so I stayed silent.

Finally, the silence was unbearable, so I said, “Okay, what do you want to do to me now?” The voice that came back to me was innocent, and not at all snarky, like the boys.

“Uh, hi, I’m Sophia,” the girl said. Oops. I apologized.

“Those boys behind me like to make fun of me, so I figured you were one of them,” I said.

“No problem.” She seemed nice enough, but I just didn’t understand why she wanted to be with me. She also wasn’t in any of my classes, so I figured she was new. “Are you new?”

“Yeah, I just started coming here last month. I used to go to a public school but as my mom said, the teachers were ‘horrendous.’” Sophia laughed.

“But why did you start coming here?” I’ve been kinda alone this whole time, so I was surprised anyone would want to sit with me.

“Well, I used to sit alone this whole month, then I noticed you were all alone too. I get how it feels too, so I came and sat. No biggie. So, why do you sit alone? There are lots of new kids here.”

I just casually said, “I’m blind.” She, for some strange reason, started laughing.

“Oh, god. The two disabled children meet. This is hilarious.”

I must have had a weird look on my face. I couldn’t tell.

“Huh?” That’s all I said. Huh?

She stopped laughing and whispered,”I’m dyslexic. I have dyslexia, a disorder that makes words seem to dance and flip and shake and move in any other possible way. So don’t worry, I get you.”

And that was the start of our friendship. Whenever those boys ever did anything to me, she stuck up for me. She was the best thing I ever could have gotten. Plus, I helped her with mental math.

***

One day, once we had sat down for English, Mrs. Bonnie walked up to me. I could hear heels clacking against the ground closer and closer to me until they stopped.

“I am going to teach you how to write. You won’t be able to read, but you can always write.”

Was she crazy?  As if I could write. But oh man, she told me to stay an extra hour of school every day. When everybody left the room, I stayed in my seat. I was kind of grateful for that because I never walked, I kind of stumbled around until I felt the door. But she taught me. She told me that she put a stack of blank paper in my desk instead of the lined ones everyone got. Probably because I couldn’t find the line to write on. But by the next month, I knew how to write my letters neatly, print and cursive. And by the month after that, I could write. She also taught me to feel for the edges of the paper so I wouldn’t have crooked writing. That was really helpful. So now, whenever she asks us to write an answer in our notebooks, I can. At least on blank paper.

And whenever those kids bullied me, Mr. Daren somehow always noticed. Like, last week, that kid Alex had a cut, so he took off his bloody bandaid and was going to stick it on my food, but Mr. Daren noticed and took them to have a long talk with Mr. Ryland, who can be downright monstrous when he’s mad, apparently. All that happened when I was in the bathroom. Sophia told me.

Once I told Mrs. Olanski I could write, she said that was great and that I could start taking notes now. So I did. That wasn’t a problem anymore, because I didn’t have to worry about forgetting what I learned.

Mr. Daren sounded glad too, when I told him.

“Notes are important to write. The world of science is far too complex for a single brain to hold. We need reminders.”

Not bad. But it was true.

Once I went to Mrs. Bonnie’s room, she pulled me aside and gave me an iPad.

“Feel for the edges of the iPad so you know where it is. Tap on the left and it will repeat a word for you to write on the paper in front of you. Tap on the right and it will give you the next word to spell.”

So I worked on spelling for the next two hours. (I still stayed for the extra hour.)

Mrs. Bonnie gave one look at it, and sighed. “Spelling again tomorrow! Goodbye!”

Okay. So I apparently suck at spelling. Oh well.

The next day, Sophia told me at lunch that Mr. Jenkins had been looking at me all history.

“He was like, look at the board, glance at Lily, back to teaching, stare at Lily, teach a bit, look at Lily! He’s looking at you right now,” she whisper-yelled. “Did you do anything?”

“No, what would I do?” I was getting really nervous, and I could feel my palms starting to sweat. What did I do today? I walked into class, sat down, took notes, listened, and did everything I was supposed to, even though I couldn’t bear that squeaky voice of his.

“He’s literally staring at you while eating!” On an awkward scale from one to ten, I’d think this would be an eleven. A teacher is watching me shovel every mouthful of mashed potatoes into my mouth, I don’t know what to do, and Sophia’s whisper-yelling pretty audibly. I went into my best table manners, and pretend not to know that a creepy, old man was stalking me.

When I sat down for my extra hour of English, Mr. Jenkins walked in. I could hear his shoes squeaking and the sound of his cane hitting the ground as he walked. He was unmistakable.

“Hi, Miss Bonnie. Can I please have Lily for the extra hour today?”

Miss Bonnie hesitated. “But she is learning to spell!

“I know, but this is extremely important. Please?’’

“Fine. Just today.”

Mr. Jenkins led me to his room and asked me to sit down. The second my bottom hit that chair, “Am I in trouble? I didn’t do anything wrong, I listened, took notes, and did everything I was supposed to, but why am I-”

“Whoa there! No, you are not in trouble. Just listen to me read this article.”

_____________________________________________________

 

Current Medicine Today: Bionic Eye Helps Blind Teenager Regain Eyesight

 

Rose Decker, a girl living in South Carolina, had cataracts as a child, fully losing eyesight by the time she was ten. SCECA (South Carolina Eye Care Association) had developed a microchip to place in the eye that enables people suffering from blindness to see well enough to navigate around their surroundings. “I wanted to try it. Even if the operation fails, there won’t be any making my eyes any worse, because I’m already blind,” says Rose Decker, now nearing the age of eighteen. The operation was tested, and it worked. Rose Decker can now see, though she wears glasses. “I am really proud of all these scientists that helped my daughter to see, this will really help the blind people across America,” says Amanda, or “Mandie” Decker, Rose’s mother.

________________________________________________________________

 

Mr. Jenkins finished reading. There was a long silence until my mom spoke up, who, unbeknownst to me, was in the room the whole time.

“So, what do you mean she can get this operation? It isn’t even affordable!”

Mr. Jenkins shocked us by saying, “No worries. Us teachers got together and set up a website which people can read and donate money for the operation. We raised $11,000, enough for the operation.”

I didn’t know what to feel. Hopeful that it would would work? Scared that it would hurt? Excited that I would see? Mixed emotions swirled around me like ghosts.

 

***

The doctors, Dr. Russell and Dr. Marshall, wheeled me into the operating room and put me on the operating table. They stuck a huge needle into me, saying it wouldn’t hurt. Liars. They drugged me with anesthesia and told me to count to ten. “One, two, threee, ffffoourrr…” Boom. And like that, I was asleep.  

I came to about five hours later. I still couldn’t see, and I was about to start crying because the operation “didn’t work” when I realised there were bandages covering both of my eyes. Stupid anesthesia! I was still super sleepy, so I went back to sleep.

This time when I woke up, I heard my mom saying, “She’s up!” and hugging me as tight as hugs can be. She whispered in my ear, “Sophia is here.”

“How are you feeling?” asked Sophia.

“Sleepy,” I replied.

“When do you get those bandages off?” Sophia’s voice sounded cautious, like she didn’t want to harm me even though she was just talking.

“’Bout two weeks,” I replied. Then she left. Well, I just couldn’t wait.

***

I was staying in the hospital until my eyes healed. (They made a bajillion cuts in there.) Every morning, a nurse changed my bandages, but never gave me any time to actually see anything. But the day came. After what seemed like forever, Dr. Russell walked into the room, his shoes squeaking as he did so.

“Tomorrow, your bandages are coming off. I will contact your parents.”

The word parents just made me sad. It’s been awhile since Dad died, but I still haven’t gotten over it yet.

The next day, my mom was next to me, holding what smelled like a cake. My mouth watered. The doctor slowly removed the bandages. Color flooded my eyes. It felt like I was opening my eyes after a long sleep and that I was now awake. My mom was so much prettier than I thought.

***

I came back to school with a happy heart. There were rumors everywhere.

“Lily had to get her eyeball taken out!”

“Yeah, cuz she poked em with a fork while eating!”

“No, the doctor made her eyeball exposed to radioactive stuff so that healed her!”

“Come on, that only happens in Superman comics!”

“It’s true!’’

But I didn’t let all this get to me. I sat down, and scanned the room, and the people in it. Instantly, I noticed Sophia, staring at me intently. I gave her a wave, beaming. She grinned back. She was real pretty too. Long, wavy, blond hair, and green eyes. Peter and Alex were both ugly. I’m pretty sure they were twins. Because they were equally ugly.

Mrs. Olanski took attendance, looked at me and smiled and gave me a thumbs up.

Mr. Jenkins did the exact same thing as before — look at the board, glance at Lily, back to teaching, stare at Lily, teach a bit, look at Lily. I didn’t mind. He was now my favorite teacher.

Ms. Turner, the art teacher just gave me a look, like she was challenging me to draw something good. I failed. Who cares?

Lunch was revenge time. I grabbed an ice cream sandwich, and broke it in half. I put it, ice cream side up, on Peter and Alex’s chairs. Squish. They sat down. Instantly, they looked back at me and scowled.

At gym, for the first time, I participated. I got so good at my sprinting that, after watching me for a few days, Coach James wanted me on the track team. Eventually, through months of practice, I became the best runner on the team. So, in late May, Coach James wanted me to run the annual race, representing the St. George’s School.

There were lots of people there, all different sizes, warming up on the dewy grass. I joined them. I remembered how good of a runner my dad once was. Now, I had to do well. Not for me, but for my father. Soon, we were all gathered at the starting line. The starting gun was fired. We all started sprinting, but I was a little surprised by how slow they were.

 

Epilogue

I looked around, feeling tired, but proud. I had just run 26.2 miles in three and a half hours. I crossed the finish line and looked back. There were a few people way behind me, but no one ahead. My cheeks were rosy red, and my face was covered in sweat. I imagined myself shaking hands with the president, and then him giving me a medal. There was a crowd of people at the end, screaming that I was first. But I didn’t see them. I saw my mom, standing there with tears of pride in her eyes. I realized, for the first time, that I was truly happy.

 

The End

 

Behind My Back

 

People can act like I’m deaf

It’s like I am

They even know I’m not

That’s when the annoyed and frustrated feeling

Naturally takes over

I’m so tempted

To show them I exist

When I do

They always turn their head with a shocked stare

They can’t believe

That I’d worked up the nerve

To stand up for myself

They look back on moments

Like the present situation

Their stares are a whole new language

That everyone can speak

No matter if you’re

Blind

Deaf

Or both

It really doesn’t matter

To me

Everyone is to be certified

Equality with no exceptions

Not even one

No matter what they’ve overcome

No matter what they look like

But that language through stares

Can be against you

Ear to mouth stares

Whispering stares

Stares you can not bear to see

It will almost always be behind your back

And that’s what is the most painful

People can act like you’re deaf

It’s like you are

They even know you’re not

Have you felt this?

I have

Everyone feels it at some point in life

Someone will always not like you

Each character plays a different part in a musical

In the same way

Each and every one of us matters

We play a role in life

Some of us big

Some of us small

But that can change

It requires work though

Only if you’re willing to

Put in time and effort

You can make it happen

Believe in yourself

And it will happen

And now believe me

Anyone

Yes, anyone

Can make it happen

But one thing to not forget

Is to stand up

To those stares

Behind your back.

 

The Wall

“Wake up!  Wake up!”

My eyes flutter open inside my dark and dismal bedroom. I glance at my clock, one of the last possessions I have left.  We sold the rest. It’s only 3:30 am.

“Get up!” yells my older brother, Jim, who never loves me. “Get up, or by the time we get to the store, the shelves will be empty.”

Oh right, I say in my mind. Ever since Trump’s wall was built, my life has been split in half. I put on my dark, gray coat and get ready to leave. Even though curfew doesn’t end for another hour, we still wait in silence in the sketchy alley behind the store. While we wait behind an oil barrier, I catch a glimpse of the wall. An eyesore, a barren stretch of barbed wire, the wall that keeps me separated from my parents.

It’s been five months since my parents crossed the wall in search of work. They left when you could still cross the border freely. They left in search of food. They left in order to give us a better life. They were in search of the real American dream. I can remember that day; my mom was wearing a khaki coat, my dad was in patched jeans. Even nature knew that was a sad day. That morning, the birds didn’t sing their happy song. Instead, they sang a sad, low song.

Before they left, they gave us 250 dollars, enough to buy one hundred pounds of food. Enough to last until the day that they would return. My parents warned us to save and not splurge. That was the last amount of cash left in the bank. The wall just doesn’t flow between the U.S. and Mexico, it also cuts through the states of the Northwest. To the north there’s Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Washington, and Oregon. To the south, there’s Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada. Leaving my home state of California divided, the wall cuts through my hometown of San Francisco.

As I daydream on, my annoying brother pinches me.

“Ouch!” I squeak. Jim must never have loved me.

“Shhh!” My brother hisses at me. “Stay focused,” he snaps.

Just to annoy Jim, I ask, “Why do we have to wait so early?”

Then he really gets ticked off. Then he says in an annoyed, angered, and mocking tone, “You know why, buster. Because of Trump’s policy, only American goods are allowed for purchase, making a shortage of food.”

As he speaks, I can detect sadness in his voice. I know he’s depressed, not because his parents are gone and not because his life is forever scared, but because his girlfriend, Anne, who he loved more than me, fled across to the North a few months ago. He was planning on proposing to her, but he was waiting on me, who was waiting on my dad, who was waiting on his sister, who was waiting on a baby, who was waiting to come out. But that night, Anne fled with her family across the border with only the clothes on their backs in the tar-black night and only, with the light of the faded stars, to fall and to be shot.

“C’mon, curfew is over. Let’s go line up at the store,” he says.

As I glimpse over at the bleak and life-threatening wall, with the patrols that are ordered to shoot on sight, I ask Jim, “If you had the chance, would you go to Canada?”

Then the slightest bit of happiness is drained from his face. Then he said, “Don’t think about that. Those who get too curious about the divider end up crossing it.”

We walk inside the lifeless store. Up above, I see a faded supermarket ad with a smiling mom with her kids saying, “So many choices, for such a small price!”

I think, Yeah right, the only choice is between white cabbage and napa cabbage. I dump a sack of rice, some napa cabbage, and a can of soda into the shopping cart. As I wait in line at the checkout counter, I see some smuggled mangoes, carefully buried beneath a carton of pasta. But as soon as I look away, the cart is gone. I wonder, if only I could afford some of the juicy, tangy, and sweet mangoes that I crave so much. Then I remember that if I were to buy a mango, that would cost all of the cash we had left. As my brother and I arrive at our apartment, we see the cars that belong to the dreaded secret police.

“Stay calm,” Jim says, in a hushed tone. We were the reason they were here. They were here for two reasons:

  1. Our parents’ daring escape to the North.
  2. They believed that we were associated with Anne’s escape.

The moment we step into our apartment, we realize that we are correct. There are two officers in the room. The officer with the nametag that says “Ted” asks us, “You two know that we only want some answers that’s all, right?

Before we could respond, he says, “Very well, shall we begin? First question, when did your parents escape to the North?”

Then Jim answers, as clear as a bell, “February  3rd, 2018.”

Then, the second officer, Ben, says, “Have you had any contact with your parents?”

After that, I say, “No…”

But then Ben cuts me off and says, “Shut up squirt and let the older one talk! I didn’t sweat through training to deal with stubborn teens.”

Then, Jim finishes for me by saying, “No, not since the cell phone signals have been cut off.”

“Final question,” says Ted. “Were you involved in Anne’s escape?”

Jim freezes. I try to say something, but I can’t. Finally, Jim manages to choke out the words, “No, I never knew she escaped until a week later.”

The officers look like they don’t believe a word Jim is saying.   

I brace for arrest. I brace for jail. I brace for my life to be over. As soon as Jim says those words, Ted tackles him to the ground, but Jim slides out of the way. Then Ben grabs a lamp and bashes Jim’s head. Blood spews out of his head like water flowing out of the tap. Glass shards stick out of Jim’s head like teepees. The fight continues into the kitchen where Jim is thrown against a glass case of fine plates and cutlery. The glass case and plates explode into a million pieces. Jim grabs a knife and stabs Ben in the chest. Ben falls down and crumbles like a plastic bag on the kitchen floor. Blood seeps onto the floor, full of Ben’s blood. The floor looks like it was washed in blood. After noticing his colleague’s death, Ted gets a burst of energy, takes a frying pan, and whacks Jim in the head. Jim drops to the ground dramatically and gets becomes knocked out. Ted then takes a knife and says in a cold voice, “Come with me or you will end up like your brother.”

I follow Ted into his patrol car while he drags Jim by the legs against the hard concrete. He bangs up and down. I hope he just has a concussion. A few minutes later, Jim wakes up inside the speeding patrol car. When the car zooms by a bleak, dismal, and dark neighborhood that’s near the wall, my eyes meet Jim’s. Could this be the time he would sincerely tell me that he loved me, before we would be separated in jail? I begin to plan out what I will say to him.

But before I can speak, he whispers, “Don’t look back, no matter what.” Before I can respond, he pulls the car door handle and shoves me out of the car.  

At first, I thought he wanted to hurt me, but then I realize he just sacrificed his life for me and saved me.

I don’t know what happened next, but I envisioned this, a man yelling, “Well if I can’t get him, then I guess I have to take you,” and then there was a crack of gunfire. Next, I hear car wheels squeaking and a car coming in my direction. After this, I begin to run toward the wall. I knew that my life here was over, and my only chance was to cross it. I had nothing to lose. My brother was dead, and I had no future here. As I climbed up above the wall, just about to hit the barbed wire, I could see sirens squeaking, speeding patrol cars, and wild dogs swarming me. As I climb over the spiky, barbed wire, I feel something tugging on my leg. Then the tugging gets harder and I look down. It was a mutt, a sniffer, a police dog! I yanked myself free, but while I was dealing with the dog, I was was not paying attention and got tangled in the barbed wire. I then wiggled free of the sharp, barbed wire and land on the floor with sharpened particles in my arm and leg. Unable to walk, I begin to helplessly crawl on the dusty ground, toward the second wall that separates the South and the North. But as I tug myself forward, I hear dogs barking, and sirens wailing after me. All I feel inside me is a desperate need to survive. As I trudge closer and closer to the Northern Wall, a dog starts to grab my leg. I groan in pain. A few seconds later, his owner arrests me. After that, three more guards surround me. One points his gun, and says, “Any last words, traitor?”

Then in a whimpering voice I say, “Is it a crime to act free in your own country? Is it a crime for your own brother to sacrifice his life so you can live freely in another state? Is it a crime to live happily and in tranquility? Are you considered a traitor in your own country because you are going to another state for a better life and to find your parents?”

I’m not scared of the guards, I’m only scared of the fact that I won’t see my parents again. My final thought is that although I did not make it out alive, I am grateful for my brother and I only know this: yes, my brother did love me, he really did. All I can remember happening next was bang! My name is Dominic, and this is my story.

 

The War that Came to Peace

Chapter One: Meeting Extinct Reptiles

Once upon a time, there was a boy named Ben. He never had a good life, and all he wished was to have a better life than this. His parents had adopted him. All they ever said was, “You don’t deserve dinner tonight. You don’t deserve ice cream. You don’t deserve chocolate. You don’t deserve anything, but us.”

One night, they got so angry that they got a ladder and told him to stand right in front of it and to give them a white board. When he realized what happened, he was too afraid, and he had already given it to them, so now he couldn’t take it back because it was too tall.

“Ahhhhhhhhhh! Help me!” he screamed with terror.

He closed his eyes, hoping, no praying not to get hurt. Then he felt as if a magical hoop was going around him. So he opened one eye; he was in a different dimension! He found himself in the middle of a velociraptor home. They had fresh meat in the corner and raw meat in another corner. It was neater than his parents’ house!

“They sort stuff?” he said confused. “Amazing!”

They even made beds out of straw they found in the woods. He suddenly noticed two velociraptors were staring at him. He knew they were velociraptors because it matched all the features of a velociraptor he had read about in the library. They had piercing eyes and gleaming sharp claws. They surrounded Ben. It’s the end, thought Ben. Instead they just sniffed at first, then walked away!

“Maybe it’s because I smell like their home!?” said Ben. Then he remembered something. He dug in his pocket until he dug out a big book. The cover said, The Language of Velociraptors. His real parents had put it his pocket before they died. “Yes!” he said. “I knew I had it somewhere! You know, I should treasure this.”

In Velociraptor language, he asked if he could live with them because his parents were evil to him.

“Of course!” the velociraptors said. “Just let us warn you about something.”

“I’m listening,” said Ben.

“If you see a cheetah, they are against us, so you better run for your life!”

“Got it! It’ll be a piece of cake, I’m a great climber,” Ben said.

“How do you know there’s woods out there?” said the velociraptor.

“It’s a legend in my world,” said Ben.

“Got it,” said the velociraptor.

“Wait, do you have a leader?” said Ben.

“You’ll know the difference. He has wicked patterns on his back.”

“Let us introduce ourselves,” said one velociraptor. “My name is James. And this one right here is my brother, Michael.”

“I want to help hunting,” said Ben. “What do you hunt?”

“Rats and bugs. Also raw meat we find lying around from the cheetahs.”

“I know how to catch the rats,” said Ben.

“How?” asked James.

“You make a contraption that rats can crawl in, but can’t crawl out.”

“Amazing!” said Michael.

“Wait, is there more of you?” Ben asked.

“You’ll meet the others later,” Michael and James said together.

‘‘Can you teach me how to talk at the same time?”

“Sure,” said Michael.

“So let’s go hunting!” said Ben.

***

When they got there, Ben realized that it was more than just the woods. It was an enchanted woods, actually — He could feel it.

“But wait,” thought Ben. “The legend didn’t say it was enchanted.”

That got Ben thinking, Maybe that’s why there are so little live animals. No wonder it’s so gloomy. I wonder how we’re going to find other animals to eat.

“Do you have a stream?” asked Ben.

“Yes, we do,” said James.

“Okay, great! Because I think I’ll only be eating fish.”

“We’ll help you hunt the fish,” said the two velociraptors together.

“If you know how to fish,” said Ben smirking.

“What do you mean?” said James. “First, are you done hunting?”

“Yeah, we are,” said Michael.

“Great! Time to make some fishing rods,” said Ben grinning broadly. “First, can be you get me to a bamboo forest?”

“Definitely!” said James. “It’s the next forest down.”

***

On the way there, they didn’t get bored because they were chatting about how fun it would be to defeat those cheetahs. When they were about halfway to the bamboo forest, James said, “Hey look! There’s the rest of the clan. I knew they were hunting!”

“Uh oh,” exclaimed Michael. “I just realized we were supposed to take care of the baby velociraptors. We’re in big trouble.”

“Hide,” Ben whispered while shouting.

***

They scrambled up trees while the others came. James and Michael were shivering like icicles just about to fall off a porch. “What if they find us!” said James.

“If we stay quiet, they won’t find us. So quit it!” said Michael.

Ben suddenly worried about something. “What if I lost the smell I got from their house? The velociraptors won’t trust me, and they’ll eat me!”

Now Ben knew he had to scramble up the tree. “No!” He knew he had to distract them. He had to save James and Michael. He slowly came down… slow as a sloth. Finally, he got down right in front of Clan Espyon. (He found out what clan it was from the legend.) The clan went to him and sniffed him like James and Michael did. The clan backed away and circled Ben. I can tell. I think it’s best to talk to them now, Ben thought shaking.

“Hello?” said Ben. “I met James and Michael, so please don’t hurt me.” They stopped circling and stared at him. Then said, “Follow us.”

“I’m sorry, but I need to go to a bamboo forest to make myself fishing rods,” said Ben.

***

“We’ll take you there,” the chief said.

“No that’s okay. Michael’s taking care of the babies and James is with me.”

“Oh, got it,” said the clan chief as he left.

***

“See you soon,” said Ben, making sure they were completely gone. “James, Michael, you guys can come down now!”

Both of them peeked from each of their branches and came down.

“Quick! Michael go to the cave before the rest of the clan does, and be safe!”

Michael speeded like a jet towards to clan’s cave. “I hope he makes it in time,” said James.

“Me too,” said Ben.

“We should go to the bamboo forest now,” James said after a while.

“You are right, let’s go.” Soon enough they reached the bamboo forest. The first thing Ben noticed in the distance was a panda chewing on a bamboo stick.

“How many animals are supposed to be in this legendary world?” Ben asked.

“Four,” said James. “They were hunted down by cheetahs in case you were wondering.”

“And what would these two more animals be?”

“Dodo birds, which have their own island so they don’t get hunted down by cheetahs, and red kangaroos.”

“We also found another species… ”

“Wait… really?! What species? Where?”

“Introducing, the panda,” Ben said, showing where the panda was. When Ben looked at James he saw he was speechless. James could only say one thing: “Incredible.”

SSSHHHHHHH went the bushes, rustling as if there were wild bees fighting in there.

“What was that?” said James. “I think they’re here,” said Ben. “The cheetahs are here.”

Chapter Two: The Impossible War

Slowly, eyes popped out from every bush; soon, they were surrounded.

“I’ll climb up the tree and you run. They’ll be distracted by me and you’ll be able to run away,” said Ben.

“On the count of three: one, two, three!” Ben jetted up the tree and then for the split second, back to back to a tree.

The cheetah army looked up at him, and James had time to escape.

“Get theeeeem!” yelled the cheetah general in fury. Ben gracefully went from vine to vine in the trees, and the cheetahs followed but weren’t as lucky, as ten clumsily fell from the trees. There were ten left chasing James on the ground, but the rest of the army went to help the ten that fell from the trees. As the other ten who were chasing James hit trees, James quickly dodged the trees. Ben then slid from a vine to the ground and ran with James.

Ben suddenly said, “We should tell the other velociraptors about this.”

“You’re right,” said James. Five minutes later they got to the cave where Michael was, and immediately the velociraptors said, “Hey James and Ben!”

“Hi, but can we talk to chief?”

“What is it?” the chief asked, walking through the crowd.

“First, follow us.”

James and Ben went to the back of the cave with the velociraptor chief. “The cheetahs are coming!  We need to get the rest of our army, quick,” said the Chief.  “Everyone, get into your hiding spots, and the army can come with me!”

 

Chapter Three: The War Begins

The minute they got out of the cave, they saw the army waiting for the victorious yell of the leader, hopefully within the minute.  “ATTACK!” yelled both generals.

Ben decided to distract some cheetahs so he went into the trees, and the general yelled, “GET THAT BOY!!!”

James and Michael saw Ben’s plan so they followed the cheetahs that followed Ben   Slowly, one by one, the cheetahs chasing Ben disappeared because of James and Michael.  Soon there were none left, and Ben went back to get some more.  

“There he is!” said the general.  “Get him!  More this time!  Put twenty of you to get that boy!”

Still he went back, so he put more and more.  Soon there were only ten left against the velociraptors.

“WE GIVE UP!  We’ll do whatever you want!”

“Whatever?” said the general, looking at James, Michael, and Ben.  

“From now on, work for us!” said James, Michael, Ben and the general.

And they all lived happily ever after

 

THE END                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

America

           

Pretend

We pretend the storms have come early

We pretend we can’t hear the bombs in the distance

We pretend that everything is normal

June 27


Market

As I zoom downtown on my orange vespa,

Unaware of the fact that war is drawing closer to home

Unaware of the of the refugees that arrive everyday

Unaware of everything

As I arrive in the bustling  market,

sights and sounds enter the atmosphere

Oranges are stacked high in pyramids

Colorful cloth and fabric of every color, hang high above, forming a canopy

Bronze frying pans hang above, clanging in the windy mist

I set up my stall, after many others, hawking baby blankets, textiles, and cloth accessories

People look, but don’t buy

People can barely afford food

June 29

 

Dinner

At dinner, my friend, James, comes home with an odd idea

“We should go to America, to escape the war.” He says.

“No!” I snap. “America is too far away, and anyways this is our home.”

After a night of fighting, I say, ”Fine, you can go to America, and I will stay here!” I yell.

I wish he was dead.

The next morning, he leaves before dawn, to the circuit factory where he works.

July 1

 

Explosion

The smoky blast coats the city in a dark, choking dust

The blast came from one of the factories in the city

People zoom over on their  mopeds, in search of where the blast came from

Ambulances clog the way, while fire trucks race past

When I arrive at the factory with others,

I realize that it was the factory where James works.

I yell his name again and again. “James! James!” I cry over and over again.

Finally, after waiting for many nerve wracking hours, two men emerge from the lifeless and dusty rubble.

I run over to the stretcher where James is fighting for his life, and he manages to whisper to me, ”Go to America.”

July 2

 

Death

James is dead 

My only friend in this world was him and he left me.

I should have never argued with him.

July 3

 

Takeover

Today, the Communist Party marched in the city

Sleek tanks roared all day.

People knew this was going to happen, but nobody knew when it would happen.

July 5

 

Protest

Ever since the circuit factory explosion, many widows banded together and held a protest demanding compensation.

We held posters with the victims’ faces.

We marched through downtown

We march on a road when all of a sudden, tanks block our way from the front.

Then, tanks block our way from behind and soldiers appear.

They open fire.

People run and scream.

We all run in circles, afraid to stop.

The soldiers shout, “This is what you get for protesting!”

Then, something pierced my ankle.

Blood gushed out.

Someone stepped on me. Then another.

I then thought about James and that I would meet him in heaven.

Then, I closed my eyes for the last time.

July 12

 

Blackout Poetry

     

Things like that could hide out in the back,

Things like that asking me out.

Lucky stars divided,

Keeping out the breeze,

I wasn’t,

when the move called I could tell.

***

I glance at the thick trees,

Stargazing flutters.

Then I realized something froze.

I answer swiftly between,

Then I commanded her to answer.

 

I met her,

Seventeen and wispy.

She was breathing,

I waited.

Then I took her palm,

She took a step.

I realized she was hiding,

I whispered “Why,”

She cried.

Then I whispered; “hide!”

 

Cleo’s Escape Plan

For a while, there was nothing. But then I could feel my brothers and sisters and my mom licking me. I loved the taste of my mother’s sweet milk. Then, as quick as there was darkness, there was light. I saw my beautiful mother, and my pink and squirming sisters and brothers. In my house, there were two people. They came in every day to give my mother great-smelling food. They would not give it to us though. I wanted the food badly. My brothers and sisters were very playful. I learned my mother was called Buttercup and my brothers were Max, Bobby, and Cubby. My sisters were Samantha (who I loved the most), Coco, and Rose.

They called me Cassie, and my female owner always said, “Cassie Cassie Cassie! Come!” I learned that that meant to go to her. After playing with Samantha everyday, my owners started to give me my mother’s food. I liked it, but it wasn’t as good as milk.

Then one day, my owner said, “Cassie! You are going to be adopted! Your new owners will call you Cleo!”

She said it with such joy and happiness, I wagged my tail and barked.

After I woke up the next day, two playful boys came in to see me. They radiated their love for me! I didn’t know why, but I immediately got attached to them and their mother called “Mom.” They then brought me into a big, metal thing called a car, and they stuck me in a smaller metal thing called a crate. I sniffed it, but I was tired so I drifted off into a cozy sleep.

When I woke up, I smelled a whole new place. My boy took me out of the car. I was still in my metal crate. He carried me up these bumpy pieces of wood to my new house as I soon realized. Once Mom opened the door, the boys rushed in and put down my crate. The door opened to my crate. This place had tasty air, but I missed my family. I missed Samantha. I was thirsty. The boys let me lick their hands and they tasted good. I wanted to play with them, but I didn’t know how to get out over the metal bar that was in front of me. When I finally got over the bar, I was so happy.

Two minutes later, I was curiously sniffing my water bowl and licking the boy’s face. This boy was called Nico, and Mom called the other boy Jacob. A few minutes later Mom left with an old man. It was just me and Jacob because Nico went upstairs. Jacob stayed with me, and I felt calm when he cuddled me. I fell asleep in his bed. I woke up a few minutes after Nico came downstairs.

He said, “Hi Cleo!” and he took Jacob’s position by cuddling me. I fell asleep for the rest of the night.

In the morning, Mom woke me up and put me on a mat. I relieved myself, and Nico praised me by saying, “Good girl!”

I wagged my tail because I was so excited! Then I realized I was hungry.

Then Mom said, “Let’s get you some food, puppy wuppy.”

I curiously sniffed the air as I smelled the food they gave my mother, Buttercup. I ate all of the delicious food. Then I went on the porch. I loved it so much. I smelled the birds and plants. As soon as Jacob brought me in, I had a huge desire to go out again.

I tried to get out in every way. I jumped at the door, I sat by the door, I pushed the door. None of them worked. I even barked at it.

I’m never going to get out, I thought.

I decided to devise a plan to escape.

I decided to make a Rube Goldberg machine to open the front door.

I hope this will work, I thought.

I knocked over a line of treats that went directly to my water bowl and nudged it a little. The stick in the water bowl fell over to knock the leash that was tied to the cabinet. The cabinet swung open and hit a (very squeaky) orange and green tennis ball. The tennis ball rolled all the way into the living room and bounced off a table leg. The tennis ball rolled to a vertical shoe, which fell on a seesaw made out of a bed resting on a toy. The doggy shampoo, which was on the bed, flew up and started rolling to the stick with a fork at the top, which I hoped would turn the key when the shampoo hit it…

The doorbell rang. I started barking and yelling in my mind, Who is it, who is it!?

I ran to the door just as the shampoo was about to hit the stick… You won’t believe me when I tell you that I accidently knocked over the stick!!!

NOOOOOOOO!!! I thought angrily. My plans are ruined! I will never be able to go out! I am trapped!

Then Nico came downstairs and opened the door. I rushed out joyously. I was free!!!

The person asked, “Can you sign for this package?”

“Sure.” Nico said, cheerfully.

I will never be trapped again! I thought gleefully.

 

From then on, I always got to go out onto the porch, and Mom and Nico took me to the park very often. When I went there, I always got to play with my friends. I decided I was sure about one thing; I loved the great outdoors.

 

The Smartest Gingerbread Man

I remember it like it was yesterday…

 

The Great Escape

You’ve heard the other stories, I bet. Somebody makes a gingerbread man, he runs away, and he eventually gets eaten. Well, my story isn’t like that. Maybe it’s the dough I’m made of, or maybe it’s my raisin brain, but I survived.

 

Chapter One

The first thing I can remember is entering the oven. I couldn’t move, and it was getting hotter by the second. I braced myself for incineration. Why must my life end before it has truly begun? But just before the baking heat took me, I was lifted away. My savior was a large woman (she seemed large to me, at least). But before I could thank her, her voice boomed:

“Marigold! Dessert’s ready!” I froze. Surely she didn’t mean…

Before I could make a decision, a hand reached out towards me. Had I been a second later, it would have been crumbs for me. I leapt off the table and came down hard on the floor. I could have been hurt badly, but the plush carpet cushioned my fall. Then I ran. A huge oak door loomed up in front of me. I stopped. Behind me, the monster was getting closer and closer. I turned around and slid under the door. I stood up and looked around.

Over by the wall, in a little nook, I saw another gingerbread man. I gasped and walked towards him. He was cinnamon brown, with raisin eyes and an icing mouth and coat. I reached out to touch him, but pulled back, because it seemed rude. He did the same.

“Hello?”

He didn’t respond. Then, I saw the monster coming up behind him.

“Look out!” I yelled, and jumped out of the way. I looked behind me — and there was the monster. It was then I realized that the other gingerbread man was only my reflection. But there was no time to mourn my friend that had never existed. I dashed between the monster’s legs and out under another door.

But in front of me was my greatest challenge yet: the steps. I hoisted myself down a few, my breaded muscles straining. But then I had an idea. I pulled myself up to the railing, just as the door opened and down I slid, holding on for dear life.

Ah!!!” I screamed.

After a terrifying descent, I finally reached the bottom. Squeezing my eyes shut, I slid down on the end of the rail. The door creaked open. Shoes clacked through the hallway. I slipped through the door just before it closed. The sights and sounds of the outside world greeted me. Dogs barked, people yelled, and commotion was everywhere in the big city. I timidly crept into the street and was immediately knocked over. I crawled behind a plant and dusted myself off.          

                                                                                                    

Chapter Two

I didn’t know what else to do, so I ran. Dodging huge shoes left and right, I darted through the crowd of feet. I was infinitely relieved when I burst out into the sunlight. Grass and trees surrounded me, bigger than I ever thought anything could be. I wandered around aimlessly, staring up at the beauty that surrounded me. There weren’t many people around; it seemed like paradise. But just then I saw a flash of orange in the bushes. I looked in the bushes, but saw nothing, and decided to ignore it.

I came to a river. The roaring floods frightened me, but I went up to the water and dipped in my toe. It stung worse than any pain I had ever felt before. I quickly pulled it out and looked around for a mode of transportation across the river. But I saw nothing. Just then, I felt hot breath on the back of my neck.

I turned around. There stood a fox, with an evil gleam in his eye.

He said to me, “I can carry you across this river on my back, if you would like.”

But I knew his true intentions. “Not on your life, mister!”

Then I ran. Away from the fox, away from the river. I heard his paws pounding on the ground behind me. But I didn’t look back. A moment’s slowness could mean death. I dived between two large roots of a tree and dug frantically with my hands. Just as the fox reached me, I had dug a hole deep enough so his snout could not reach me. Plastered against the end of the hole, I waited. I don’t know for how long. But when I finally stepped outside, it was dark and the fox was asleep. I carefully tiptoed past him. Then I ran, again.

I looked around for any sign of life, but I saw nothing. I would have to brave the streets again.

 

 The End

 

Flashback Killer

In the year of 2007, there was a mass murderer somewhere in the state of Michigan. Alban McCluskey was on a journey with the orphanage, visiting the Great Lakes in Michigan.

One night, Alban, a.k.a. “Al,” woke up in the middle of the night looking for something to eat or drink. He saw a shadow with a crooked, sleek, body zip across the door. Al had a quick response to duck down under the counter. He heard a very faint metallic scrape of a rope. Almost like the sound you hear while going on a zip-line from the rope. Then he heard a faint slice and a disgusting sounding squish.

Then Al remembered! He had seen it on TV that morning. In the state he was in, there was a person killing children! He immediately remembered that he was in the same state. He knew he didn’t know how to fistfight or defend himself (assuming the intruder was holding a weapon and was dangerous).

Two of his friends abruptly screamed, and ran down the stairs, and behind them was a creepy, sleek woman in a black jumpsuit. She came down and swiftly, with what looked like with no hesitation, stabbed both boys at the same time. She took scissors out and snipped all four ears off the boys.

Al was scared to death. Then from behind him, he saw one of his friends opening the freezer behind her, and Al, knowing this was life or death, pushed her in and slammed the freezer door. They held the door very tightly until the slamming and crashing against the door had stopped. When the police arrived, they all agreed it was unsafe to let her out of the containing box which was the freezer. They took the whole freezer out of the house that the orphans were staying in. They all were overjoyed they had defeated the woman, but at the same time, they had lost three lives.

 

Ten Years Later…

One morning, Alban McCluskey was waking up to a rainy, overcast, and stormy morning. He slowly climbed out of bed, craving the warm covers but knew he had to get to work. He worked at a magazine company. He pulled up his tie and set off for work at the magazine. He had left his car he liked in the garage and forgot to tell the people to take it out so he took a taxi.

In the taxi, he took out his iPhone and looked at his Facebook feed. He thought he was hallucinating. He saw on his emergency alerts that Kassandra had broken out of jail and was on the run. He immediately clicked on the article and saw that for the past two years in her jail cell, she had been screaming and yelling about “Mojo” and “PureChi.” Then one day, she just screamed as if she were being tortured and just bent the bars of her jail cell. She ran off, screaming the name McCluskey. When she broke out she said, “Al will die.”

He went to work and was scared to death, as if he were a child. He didn’t go anywhere by himself. During the night, he went to his “colleague’s” house to see the atmosphere while he was working at home. Really, he just didn’t want to be in the dark by himself. Al didn’t remember much from his childhood, but the one thing he remembered, like it was the day before, was the night where his two best friends were stabbed right in front of him by this horrible woman.

Then he saw a message in his inbox on Facebook. It was horrible. He remembered that night the woman cut off the boys’ ears! Then, there they were. Those ears. In his inbox. He knew what he had to do. He had to face her. That night, he ran home, stretching and stressing himself out. Then he had dinner fast. He went in the mirror, but he screamed when he saw that it looked like a dark shadow of Kassandra was right behind him. He twisted his body, thrusting all of his weight into his face to crush Kassandra’s ribs, but he swung right through her. He knew it! It was his reflection…

He was having another flashback. His story wasn’t over yet.

 

Ornette’s Adventure

Chapter One

Hi, my name is Ornette. I am 11 years old. I have 17-year-old twin sisters, named Chelsea and Sarah, and 8-year-old twin sisters, named Violet and Maya. My parents are journalists, and we keep moving from place to place. My parents keep going to different places for work, so we come with them. Right now, we just moved into our new home in Hawaii. I didn’t want to, but I had to. I just wanted to stay in California.

My mom just called us for dinner, and we went to eat. My mom cooked chicken and rice, and we ate it. Everything felt different, and I wanted to go home. New house, new food, new neighborhood, new school. It was much busier here.

“We might move to a new place. We just want to tell you so that you know. If the conference call tells us to go somewhere else, we have to. Be prepared,” said mom.

I shrugged.

“Already?” asked Violet.

“I want to go to bed,” I whispered as I quietly walked to my room.

I felt the wind blow through the new house and the floor creak as I walked up the stairs. As I lay on my bed, I remembered all the friends I had at my old school, before I left. I wish I could’ve spent more time with them. It made me feel upset. I really missed them. I remembered my first day of school was tomorrow. I felt very scared, but I had moved from place to place before, so I knew how to make new friends. As I told myself this, I fell asleep.

 

Chapter Two

The next morning, I woke up and I walked down the stairs again. They were still creaking. The sun was out today, and it was very hot. At breakfast, my mom showed me pictures of the school and all the classrooms. They looked a little like my old school! I got really excited and started to eat faster. I accidentally spilled cereal on myself because I was eating so fast.

“Brush your hair and teeth, and then it is time to go to school!” said mom.

I brushed my hair and teeth very fast. I was still very excited. My mom took me and my sisters to school. As we walked, I saw lots of children, and I felt more excited than ever. I was so excited to make new friends! When I saw the school, I froze. It was full of lots of children. I had never seen a school this big before, or this many children in one building. I was so scared I was going to get lost. My mom said goodbye to all of us, and my big sisters walked me to my classroom before going to theirs. The teacher met me at the door.

“Welcome to the class. My name is Ms. Fish. What is your name?” she asked.

“My name is Ornette,” I said.

The teacher led me to my desk and winked at me. The girl next to me turned.

“Are you new here?” she asked.

“Yes” I responded.

I felt like she was going to be my new best friend.

“I moved here from Kansas last year, and I had a really good experience,” she said, “My name is Isabel!”

“My name is Ornette” I said, “I moved from California, and I keep moving from place to place.”

“Oh, do you think you’re going to move again soon?” asked Isabel.

“Maybe, I don’t know,” I replied.

Then, the lesson started. As the lesson began, I looked at the schedule. I saw it was time for math.

“Math at this school is really fun, you should be really excited,” Isabel whispered to me.

We got into partners, and we got to pick them. I picked Isabel. We played math games that we were assigned to play.

After math, it was time for reading. We started reading picture books, and the teacher assigned levels for us to read at. The levels went from one to eight. I got level seven. I was really proud! Isabel got level seven too.

At recess, we went up to the rooftop. I saw a really big jungle gym there. It was really tall. It had hundreds of slides on it and lots of things to climb on. There was a twisty slide, and I ran to try it out. It made me very dizzy. Then I saw Isabel playing with a few other girls. I went over to play with them. The other girls’ names were Sadie and Rose. We decided that we wanted to play tag. I had so much fun!

After school, Rose asked me, Sadie, and Isabel to come over to her house. I said yes, and we left together on the school bus. I found out that we lived next door to each other. When I got out of the school bus, I told them I had to ask my mom first. I went back home, and I asked my mom. She said sure. I went back to Rose’s house. When I came in, I saw there were hot cookies on the table and glasses of milk. Rose, Isabel, and Sadie were all eating the cookies. I started eating the cookies too. They were chocolate chunk cookies. They were really good.

After we ate the cookies, we started to play Monopoly. It went surprisingly fast. Sadie had played Monopoly a lot and was very good at it. She won!

“How do you like school?” Sadie asked.

“It’s fun,” I said.

“What would you do at school if you could?” asked Isabel.

“I would want to take a field trip to California and stay there for two months,” I said.

“That would be cool!” said Rose

“What would you do?” I asked

“I would write a thousand books!” said Rose. “Sadie?”

“I would eat cupcakes for lunch.” said Sadie. “Isabel?”

“I would make a medical class,” said Isabel.

“By the way, I am having a karaoke birthday party. And you are all invited!” said Rose. She gave us invitations with pink bows on them. After that, I went home.

 

Chapter Three

A week later, on Saturday, I went to Rose’s birthday party at a karaoke place in our town. My mom drove me and my two big sisters. They both had another birthday party to go to on the way.

When my mom dropped me off, I saw the building. It was super tall. My mom parked the car and brought me to the 10th floor. I said goodbye to my mom, and I saw Isabel. She was eating a chocolate dipped strawberry. Then I saw the giant stage that Rose was singing on. She was singing a song that I did not know. Isabel came over to me and offered me a chocolate strawberry. I ate it, and it was the best chocolate strawberry I had ever had in my life. After Rose finished her song, we had pizza and cake. The cake was a chocolate ice cream cake. Then, I took a picture in a photo booth with Rose, Isabel, and Sadie. After that, the party ended.

 

Chapter Four

When I was driving home from the birthday party, I saw many signs that said “MISSING” on it, with a picture of a girl. Her name was Scarlett Rover. The girl had glasses, short black hair, and lots of freckles. It said she was about my age, and she was last seen at the airport. When I got home, I started to sketch the girl on the posters. When I finished sketching, I called Isabel and told her to meet me at the park in half an hour.

When she met me, I started to tell her about the girl on the posters. I stared at one of the posters in the park. Then I went and grabbed it.

“Why do you want to find this girl?” asked Isabel.

“I’ve wanted to find something big for a long time,” I responded.

Isabel nodded, even though I don’t think she knew what I meant. My mom drove me and Isabel to where she was last seen, the airport. I told my mom there was a historical plane we wanted to look at. My mom really likes history, so she agreed to take us. It took 45 minutes. When we got there, I took out the poster and asked the flight attendant about the girl.

“Yes, she was here about two hours ago. I was on her flight when it took off but when I went back to check on her, she was not there,” said the flight attendant.

“Do you know anything about the girl?” I asked.

“Yes, I do. I am her grandfather, and she comes here a lot” he frowned. “I really miss her, and I would really appreciate if someone could find her.”

I nudged Isabel.

“This is our chance!” I said. I turned to the flight attendant.

“We are here to help!” I said. “Do you know where she lives?”

“Yes, she lives 45 minutes away, on 81st Street. It’s a brick house with three windows on top and nine in front. There is a big staircase that leads up to the door. You can’t miss it!”

“Thank you!” I said.

We left to find the house.

 

Chapter Five

We found a house that matched the description that the attendant gave us. We walked up the big staircase. Then we knocked on the door. It did not open right away, but a woman came out a few minutes later. She looked really dizzy and almost sick.

“What are you here for?” she asked.

“I would like to figure out what happened to your daughter,” I said.

The mom waited for a few seconds before speaking.

“I’m not her mom. I am her aunt. Her mom disappeared along with her, and her dad is on a long trip. He won’t be back for a couple of months. My name is Lora. I came here because I was supposed to watch over their house while they went to visit her dad,” I thought for a second.

I thought about how that wouldn’t make sense, because she went to the bakery.

“Thank you,” I said, and then I left.

Rose looked embarrassed and upset. We went back to the park.

“What do you think, Rose?” I asked.

Rose pulled me to the side.

“My cousin is missing too!” she whispered. “She has been missing for two months!”

I started to listen closely.

“I last saw my cousin going to the airport, and she was going far across the country. She sent me a letter every day, until I heard from someone else. He had messy handwriting, and didn’t spell things correctly. He signed the letter “the man,” and he said that I would never see my cousin again. On the back of the letter, there was a little spiral.”

“Maybe that is the same man who captured Scarlett Rover!” I suggested.

It was getting dark, and I had to go home.

 

Chapter Six

On Sunday, I went down for breakfast and ate all of it. I asked my mom to go back to the airport, and we drove back. We saw Scarlet’s grandfather.

“Can you show me the plane your granddaughter was on?” we asked.

He nodded.

“We will have to wait, because it is coming back from Scarlet’s destination,” he said.

We waited 15 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, and then the place came in. He led me and my mom onto the plane. He showed me where Scarlett Rover was sitting. I started to look over and under the seat. There was a little carpet on one side that said “plane” and had a picture of a plane. I heard banging under it, so I took off the carpet to reveal a little door. It was small and narrow but it looked like at least two people could fit through. While my mom was looking around, I decided to look at what was in the trap door. I went through lots of twists and turns, and I finally came to a little door at the end. I opened the door and found a rope. There was a messy knot, it even sort of looked like how Rose described the man’s handwriting. The rope looked like it had been cut with something sharp. On the rope, there was another poster that said “MISSING” with a picture of the same girl on it. I heard my mom calling for me, so I went back up.

 

Chapter Seven

My mom was sitting in the seat across from the secret passageway. She looked very curious. Of course I had to tell her about the trap door. After I finished, we said thank you and drove back home. I asked my mom to stop at Isabel’s house for a minute.

When I arrived, I knocked on the door. Isabel answered.

“I need to talk to you with Rose and Sadie!” I said.

I took her by the hand and took her to Sadie’s house. I said the same thing to Sadie. I took both of them by the hands over to Rose’s house. I just gave Rose a wink. I took them all to the park.

We sat on a bench, and I told them about what happened on the plane. I told them about the trap door, the messy knot, and the sign on the door. I told Sadie and Isabel about the man, and I told them everything. After I finished, I started to talk with them about what could happen next, what the man could do, and where he could have taken the girls. Sadie and Isabel looked confused. There was a silence.

“Can I help with this mystery?” asked Sadie.

I nodded. Then I looked at Isabel, and she nodded.

“I would like to help too!”

We all winked at each other and agreed to meet at the park the next morning, before school started.

Early the next morning, I set my alarm clock for 6 AM. We would spend about an hour to plane before the bus came. I left a letter for my parents:

 

Dear family,

I left early to go talk with my friends about something that is happening. We would like to talk privately. I will get to school safely on the school bus. I do not want you to worry about me.

Signed, Ornette.

 

As we walked to the park, I spotted more and more signs of Scarlett Rover missing.

“What are we going to do?” asked Sadie.

“I don’t know,” I replied.

“Isn’t it really quiet?” asked Rose.

I gave her a dirty look. I thought for a second. I realized – it was really quiet! The town was usually really busy. Even at 6 AM, you could usually see at least 50 people and 30 cars on the street. But today, we only saw 20 people and 10 cars.

“Maybe everyone in the town knows about the man and that’s what scared them away to another town!” I said.

Sadie, Isabel, and Rose nodded. Suddenly, there was a loud thump. I looked for Rose, but she was not there. I was scared! Then I heard two more loud thumps, and I saw that Isabel and Sadie weren’t there. Then, I heard the biggest thump of all. I was unconscious.

 

Chapter Eight

The next thing that I remembered was that I woke up in a big, dark garage. I saw lights flash. I couldn’t see so well from being in the dark for so long. I tried to get up, but I found out I was tied to the ground. When I could see well enough, I saw a shadow creeping around, in front of me.

“WHAT IS GOING ON?” Isabel screamed.

I looked at Sadie. She was awake. Rose looked like she couldn’t see well.

“Did Isabel wake you up?” I asked.

They both nodded and yawned. Then a man came into the light. I knew it, it was the shadow that was swinging around before I saw the light.

“I am the man, also known as Killer!” he said, “I am trying to take over the town, and I want you to help me.”

Rose screamed and froze in her spot. Killer glared at her with an evil look, and she fainted.

“You started to get onto me, and it got in my way. It became a danger to my plan. I want all six of you to help me take over the town!”

“But there are only four of us,” I said, “Who are the other two?”

“Scarlett Rover,” he declared as a light turned on from the ceiling.

There was Scarlett, tied down the same as us, trying to escape.

“How long have you had her?” asked Sadie.

“Four days and 12 hours exactly,” Killer replied. “I need Scarlett because she can trick her parents and give me access to the ink industry. I’ll be rich!”

Just then, Rose woke up again. Rose saw Scarlett.

“We found Scarlett! We did it!” she said.

We all frowned at her. Then, Rose spotted a dark figure in the opposite corner.

“Who is that, in the opposite corner?” asked Rose.

“So glad you asked. It’s Chantel Brook!” said Killer as another light turned on.

Chantel was tied up too, sitting on the floor. Chantel had short blonde hair, looked very tall, and was wearing a fancy white dress. Rose gasped. Chantel looked up and saw Rose.

“ROSE! Why are you here?” Chantel asked, surprised.

“Long story,” said Rose.

Chantel nodded.

“SILENCE! Chantel’s mom is the mayor, so if she wants to move, they will move. If there is no mayor, I can take over!”

All of the girls were very scared.

“I will give you one hour to decide if you want to be on my team and take over the town with me, or you will be locked up in here forever!” Killer said as he left.

Rose took her arm out of the rope and pulled out a pair of scissors.

“If I’m going to be here, I should maybe cut my hair while I can!” she said.

I looked at Rose.

“You’re a genius!” I say.

“Where did you get those scissors?” asked Scarlett.

“Oh! Scarlett!” I said.

“I just kind of took them from my house” said Rose.

“Okay, you can use the scissors to cut your ropes,” I said, “And then cut our ropes too! And then…”

“Guys! Look at that bird over there!” said Isabel.

I looked at the window.

“Great! I forgot what I was saying!” I said.

Chantel looked at me, and then Rose, and then at the walls.

“Oh wow! A window!” said Chantel, “I’ve never seen that before!”

“Why don’t we try and climb out through the window?” asked Scarlett.

“How?” asked Sadie, “It’s too tall for us to reach!”

Then, we all noticed a big pile of wood, and Rose had an idea. She looked for her backpack, and she found glue. She picked up the wood, and started to glue pieces together so it looked like a ladder. She pushed the ladder to the window so she could climb up and get out. Then, she spotted a small, brown rock.

 

Chapter Eight

Rose picked the small, brown rock up and took it up the ladder. When she got to the top, she used it to break the window. She dropped the rock to see how far it would be. It was very far down. She did not know how to get that far down without hurting herself.

“What’s the matter?” asked Scarlet.

“It’s too far down for us to jump, and there is no way to climb down!”

“YOU HAVE HALF AN HOUR LEFT UNTIL YOU DECIDE!” said a speaker on the wall.

We all jumped a little. Scarlett picked up the rope from the floor.

“The ropes Killer tied us with are long enough to use to climb down. We can tie it to something up there and use it to get down!” she said.

Sadie was very quiet.

“I’m not gonna do that!” said Sadie.

“Just try it,” I said.

“How are we going to keep the ropes steady?” asked Chantel.

Sadie looked crazy.

“Maybe we could glue the wood to the window frame and tie the rope to it!” suggested Isabel.

“Great idea!” I said.

Everyone else nodded.

“Fine.” Sadie said, though she looked like she was going to cry.

I went first. I thought it went well. Then Isabel, Chantel, Rose, Scarlett. We were all safe. Then Sadie. When Sadie got halfway down the rope, it started to break a little. As she went down, it broke a little more. We were all calling her to jump. Sadie started to sweat. The rope broke fully, and she had no choice but to jump. As she hit the ground, she looked very excited. She was still holding most of the rope.

“I just faced my biggest fear!” she said.

We looked around. We saw lots of grass and some cows. In the distance, there was a little town. We looked back and saw that we just escaped from a white box. Chantel motioned for us to follow her, and so we did. Chantel lead us to the front of the box. There was a garage door and a mat in front.

“I remember that when I was first here, I saw Killer put keys under this mat,” Chantel said.

She started to look under the mat and found the keys to the garage.

“If we lock the garage, there is no way he can get out!”

Chantel locked the garage door and put the keys in her pocket. Scarlet saw a car, and they all went to it. We all got in it, and Scarlett started to look for the key.

“Where do you think the key is?” asked Rose.

We looked everywhere in the car, but we could not find it. Chantel decided to look on the keychain she found under the mat.

“Guys! The key was here the whole time!” she said as she held up a key labeled “car key.”

“Does the car have GPS?” I asked.

My mom’s car has GPS, and I know it can tell us where we are. Scarlett put the key in, and a GPS system turned on with the car.

“There we go!” said Scarlet.

She put her address in, and it said we were 5,000 miles away. We were so surprised! We drove for 5 hours, until the car ran out of gas.

“Okay, what are we going to do now?” I asked.

“There’s nothing for us to do but walk!” said Scarlett.

We started to walk. It started to get dark. We saw the town in the distance, but it was very far. We found a pond with some blackberry bushes. We settled down and made a fire.

“I’m hungry and tired!” said Sadie and Isabel.

We went over to the blackberry bush, and we all picked berries. We sat next to the fire. I yawned. Isabel blew out the fire, and we all went to sleep.

We woke up and got right to walking. Day after day, the same thing happened. On the fifth day, we reached the town. The first thing I saw was that there were more signs than ever. I also saw signs for us! People who were walking by saw Scarlett, and went over to ask her questions. Scarlet was overwhelmed. After Scarlett answered all the questions, we walked back to her house. Her aunt was really pleased to see her. She pulled Scarlet in for a really tight hug and did not let her go. When she did, we went to the police office to tell them about what happened. After that, we all went home. When I got home, my mom was cleaning the pots and pans.

“Ornette, is that you?” she asked.

“Yes,” I replied.

She ran to the door to hug me. Then, I went back to my room and laid on my bed. I thought about how all my other friends’ moms reacted, and that made me fall asleep.

 

A Book About Space

              

Table of Contents

Solar System………………………….1

Greek Forms…………………………..2

The Milky Way Galaxy……………….3

NASA…………………………………..4

Earth’s History……………….………..5

Interesting Facts………………………6

The Solar System

Our Solar System has:

  • One star
  • Eight planets
  • Five dwarf planets
  • 181 moons
  • 566,000 asteroids
  • 3,100 comets

The one star in our solar system is called the sun. It’s a big ball of fire, and if you come too close, it can burn you. It is very hot because there is a gas in it which makes it burn. 1.3 million Earths can fit in it! Woah! That’s a lot.

The eight planets in our solar system include Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. The temperature of Mercury is 800 degrees Fahrenheit or 430 degrees Celsius. The temperature of Venus is 864 degrees Fahrenheit or  462 degrees Celsius. The temperature of Earth is about 61 degrees Fahrenheit or 16 degrees Celsius. The temperature of Mars is -67 degrees Fahrenheit or -55 degrees Celsius. The temperature of Jupiter is -234 degrees Fahrenheit or -145 degrees Celsius. The temperature of Saturn is -288 degrees Fahrenheit or -178 degrees Celsius. The temperature of Uranus is -357 degrees Fahrenheit or -216 degrees Celsius. The temperature of Neptune is -353 degrees Fahrenheit or -214 degrees Celsius.

There are five dwarf planets in our solar system known to us. A dwarf planet is a space object which looks like a small planet but doesn’t have all the requirements. The five dwarf planets that we know today include Haumea, Makemake, Eris, Pluto, and Ceres.

Pluto used to be a planet, but then astronauts thought that it was too small and that it did not have all the requirements of a planet. It does not “clear the neighborhood” of its orbit, which means it bumps into things while it’s orbiting, and the rule is that a planet cannot bump into anything while it’s orbiting.

Mercury and Venus don’t have any moons. Earth has one, and Mars has two. Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune have many moons. The Earth’s moon is 2,158 miles. The Earth’s moon affects Earth, because the moon’s gravity pulls up water from the ocean, causing tides to form. Some planets have moons because huge rocks bumped into them, which caused a little part of them to come out and make a moon. But some planets don’t have a moon, because it didn’t happen to them.

Asteroids are basically big rocks that float all around space and sometimes come crashing into planets and stars. Asteroids are formed when two planets bump into each other. The parts that come out become asteroids. They look like huge rocks floating in the air. They go from floating to crashing when they bump into planets. About once a year, a huge asteroid hits Earth. When an asteroid comes crashing into Earth, it crashes above the sky called the atmosphere. We don’t notice it, because it’s so far above us, and it doesn’t have time to hit us.

A comet is basically a big, ball of fire in the front with a tail following behind it like a plane. It’s very colorful. When comets come crashing into Earth, they set on fire. This causes it to become a shooting star. It’s always moving. It looks sparkly and tie-dye.

 

Greek Forms

  • The Greek form of Mercury is Hermes.
  • The Greek form of Venus is Aphrodite.
  • Earth is the only planet in our solar system which does not have a Greek form.
  • The Greek form of Mars is Ares.
  • The Greek form of Jupiter is Zeus.
  • The Greek form of Saturn is Kronos.
  • Uranus is already named by a Greek.
  • The Greek form of Neptune is Poseidon.

A Greek form is, in this case, a planet but in another language. The planets we have, when they’re in their Roman form, is the name that we usually call them. Planets were given their names thousands of years ago. The Roman people who discovered them are the ones who named them. The Roman forms and Greek forms are alike, because Jupiter is Zeus, and Zeus is the head of all the gods and goddesses, and Jupiter is the biggest planet. So, Jupiter is basically the head of all the planets.

The Milky Way Galaxy

It travels at approximately 515,000 miles per hour — that’s really fast! It is made up of gas and dust called nebula, planets, stars, asteroids, comets, and meteors. It was made around 14 billion years ago. It looks sort of like a spiral with lots of sparkles on it. New stars are pretty much always forming inside the galaxy. In the center of the MIlky Way, there is something called a black hole, which is pretty much a black hole that can suck you in, even if you are far away. There are many black holes. This might be hard to believe, but it is a lot bigger than our sun. This black hole started off really small, but then, by the amount of gas that came into it, it became huge, and now it’s like a giant! It swallows up all of the stars it can get.

The measurements recently taken say that it is 400 billion to 780 billion times the sun’s mass. That is so much! The Milky Way is 100,000 light years wide (1 light year is 600 trillion miles). The Milky Way has many temperatures, since the Sun is really hot and Neptune is really cold. Since they’re both in it, that means that it has different temperatures. The Milky Way orbits super, super, super fast, so even the fastest thing in the world can’t keep up! In the city, you wouldn’t really see as many stars in the sky, but if you go to some places like the mountains or the country, you would see part of the Milky Way. We are in it, so you would see other parts. At the center of the Milky Way is a huge bulge. The Milky Way is filled with gas, stars, dust, other planets, and dwarf planets. The bulge is why you can only see small parts of the galaxy. Dust and gas inside are too thick, so you cannot even see the bulge.

Scientists think that 90% of our Milky Way’s weight has dark matter, which we can’t even see. The Milky Way is so big that it has over 200 billion stars! But it’s not exactly 200 billion, because like humans, stars form every second and die every second. The galaxy has grown so big, because it’s taking in other galaxies to grow to its formal size, and it’s doing so right now. All the pictures that you’ve seen of the Milky Way on the internet aren’t really the Milky Way. It’s either a photograph of another galaxy or a painting. We can’t take a picture of our own galaxy, because we’re already in it.

 

NASA

NASA stands for National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It is a company which launches rocketships into space to get information about space. The head of NASA is named Charles Bolden. NASA works for America and has launched a total of 166 rockets, and has gotten a lot, a lot, a lot of information. Two of the names of rockets that NASA have launched recently include Falcon 9 and Antares. The first rocket that NASA ever launched to the moon was Apollo 11. The people in the rocket were Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. They took a trip to the moon to get some material from it and bring it back to Earth. It took about three days to get there. They stayed on the moon for about two hours and 15 minutes outside of the rocket.

On the moon, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin ate fruit strips, corn chowder, ham-salad sandwiches, tuna salad, and all of this food was dry dehydrated. The lunar spacesuits were made to make the astronauts be safe and healthy. They could wear it for about 115 hours.

 

Earth’s History

Before the Solar System was created, it was just a bunch of rocks, gas, air, and dust. Then, it started to rotate really fast and started to come together and form comets and asteroids. The asteroids and comets started to spin more and more and turned into eight planets and a sun. Then, a part broke off of the Earth and became our moon. All of the lighter stuff came to the outside of Earth, and all the heavier stuff came to the inside of Earth. When two rocks banged together, it formed a mountain. Volcanoes happened because lava came through the mountains.

When Earth was just created, any plants, animals, or people were not able to survive. When Earth was still young, instead of having seven little continents (North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica), there was one big continent called Pangea. One hundred eighty million years ago, Pangea broke up into the seven continents that we have today. If we lived back then, we wouldn’t be able to feel it moving or see it, because it was happening so slowly. Then, when little pieces of bacteria and chemicals formed, they helped plants stay alive, which helped plants and animals live.

The first dinosaurs were born 225 million years ago. Sixty-five million years ago, dinosaurs went extinct.

Many years after that, humans came. They’re the smartest species to exist, even now. They didn’t have all the stuff back then that we have now, such as chairs, tables, phones, electricity, paper, pens, and other things like that. Early humans lived at the same time as mammoths and other things like that.

 

Interesting Facts

  • If you were out in space, and no one was talking and you didn’t have a speaker, everything would be silent, which means you wouldn’t hear anything!
  • No one can possibly know how many stars are in the universe. There are over billions, and billions, and billions, and billions (which means there are a lot).
  • The footprints of the Apollo astronauts will probably stay on the moon for 100 million years.
  • 99% of our solar system is made out of the sun. That means the sun is really, really big.
  • When two pieces of the same kind of metal touch in space, they will be stuck together forever.
  • A day on Venus is a year on Earth. That means that Venus’s days are really long.
  • You become taller when you’re in space, because of microgravity. Microgravity means a very small amount of gravity, and that’s what stretches people’s spines out.
  • Neptune’s wind moves the fastest than any other planet. It moves 1600 mph!
  • The hottest planet isn’t the closest one to the sun. Even though Mercury is the closest to the sun, Venus is the hottest planet. This is because Venus has a lot of gases in its atmosphere, which causes the “Greenhouse Effect”.
  • The word “astronaut” comes from the Greek word “astron” which means “star” and “nautes” which means “sailor”. So, the word “astronaut” actually means “star sailor”.
  • You can’t cry in space, because the tears won’t come out.
  • Nebula is a cloud where stars are created. It can come in all shapes and sizes.
  • If a star comes too close to a black hole, it will be broken apart.
  • The Solar System has been here for about 4.6 billion years Scientists think that it going to last another five billion years.
  • Enceladus is one of Saturn’s smallest moons. It reflects about 90% of sunlight, making it more reflective than snow.
  • NASA’s Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) have found evidence that there is water on Earth’s moon.
  • The sun makes a full rotation every 25 – 35 days.

 

Josh’s Samsung Phone and Computer

Josh Ricky, brown hair, five years old, brown eyes. His nose was small.

Josh Ricky woke up from his bed one morning, and it was his birthday. His mom gave him a Samsung phone. She threw it at his face, and he caught it right in time. Josh Ricky was so excited, he burst from his bed, got dressed, brushed his teeth, and all the other things he had to do. He sent some messages on his phone, took pictures, and listened to music. He was crying the whole time.

In the afternoon, in the middle of cleaning his car, his dad gave Josh a computer from the Samsung company. He tossed it in the air, and Josh got it by sliding under and catching it.

Josh was so excited that he almost fainted. Everybody else gave him other stuff from Samsung company. Then his cake came. It was a chocolate cake frosted with vanilla frosting and S’s for the Samsung company made out of cookies on top.

In his bedroom, he had the computer and phone from the Samsung Company. One day, he was using his phone and his computer. His desk was very close to the window. He rolled a big marble on his desk towards his computer and phone. The marble was gigantic, as big as your garbage can at home, and it rolled onto the computer and phone. They dropped outside from the 40th floor (which was the highest floor) and crashed onto the hard, hard floor. He saw tiny little pieces of metal and glass. He made a terrible face. He was crying because his mom and dad gave him that computer and phone, and now they were gone and broken. He tried to tell his mom and dad to force them to get a new one. He tried to tell his mom and dad, but he was too scared. But Josh’s computer and phone were broken, and he talked to them.

His mom and dad were mad at him. Very mad. They kicked him out of their family for one whole night. He snuck through the house and grabbed the sleeping bag from his room. He slept in the sleeping bag in the backyard. He felt scared. He was scared of darkness by himself. He just put his covers on and just fell asleep.

In the morning, he went back in his house. His mom and dad were crying. They felt bad to leave their little Josh alone all night. In the morning, Josh’s mom bought a Samsung phone! And his dad got Josh a Samsung computer!

Then his grandmother forgot to give Josh a present, so she gave him a Samsung TV. She was a strong grandma. She was fat, and she exercised a lot. She tossed the TV in the air. Josh caught it with his right foot by balancing on his left foot with his hands out in front.

Then he decided to watch the TV. He got the remote. Then, some TV show came on. He did not like it. He switched the channel to 888. He did not like it. He switched the channel to 718. He did not like it. He switched the channel to 248. He did not like it. He switched the channel to 249. He loved it. It was Tom and Jerry. It was about a cat and mouse. The cat did not like the mouse. The mouse did not like the cat.

He watched TV for ten hours. His mom came in and got the remote and shut it off. She screamed with anger. Her little Josh watched over ten hours. He was sick. His eyes were red. She had to take him to the doctor. The doctor told him he would need surgery on his eyes, and an x-ray, and two teaspoons of medicine every day. After the doctor, he was kicked out of the family for one night again.

Josh felt worse. He was in trouble so many times. He thought it was his fault. He was scared in the dark, alone again. He just forgot about the night and put his covers on and went to sleep.

The next morning, he and his camping mat went into the house, and Josh put his mat away in his room and got some cereal for breakfast. His mom and dad got up from bed. His parents felt okay about kicking Josh out of the family.

His uncle also forgot to give him a present, so he got a couch. It said Samsung on it because it was a Samsung couch. His uncle was very weak, so he slid it over really slowly, and Josh sat on it.

His mom took Josh to get his ears pierced at Claire’s. Josh’s earrings had a Cinderella princess on them. He went back home, he told his dad, and his dad loved them. Josh loved them too. He was happy to hear that his dad loved his earrings. His mom was happy too. She loved her son’s earrings.

 

Messy May

Hi! I’m May or maybe… Messy May. I’m eight years old and my birthday is on June 10th, so don’t mind my writing. But… let’s just get to the point. I’m going to tell you a little about my life before I turned eight.

When I was a toddler, or maybe three to be exact, I was always biting, drooling, and rolling in mud with the pigs. Oh! And I almost forgot! I lived on a farm. But, now I live in a big city in a little apartment. But let’s get back to the story.

When I turned four, I finally got to go to preschool! And that’s when I met my very first friend. Well… not including my brother Horus, but her name was Samantha, Sammy for short. She was very, very clean and perfect.

On the other hand, I was messy, so that’s why people started calling me Messy May. Since I was so messy, when i had my first play date with Sammy and we were doing a project, I squeezed the glue all over Sammy and Sammy screamed. After a while, Sammy got cleaned up. Sammy then had to leave.

One year later, I was five and at a school called Marquez Charter School, and my friend Samantha actually was in Marquez Charter too! Since I was five, I was in kindergarten. I was in Mrs. Newman’s class. Sadly, I wasn’t in the same class as Sammy, but at least I made new friends. When I made another friend named Malia, I got in a big fight with her. I promised I would play with her because she wanted to tell me something in secret, but I forgot! Because I slipped and got a scrape on my knee. So she got really mad at me, but then we made up a week later.

And when I was in first grade I was six and Sammy and I were finally in a class together! So uh… YAY! But when I was in first grade, I met a new friend named Harper! And I started playing more with Harper. We had some fights. And one of the fights was when Harper and I fought over a toy.  And I screamed at her because it kept on going on and on. But we made up in the end.

Then I turned seven and I was in second grade and Harper, Sammy, and I were all in the same class. And I thought it was great when I started playing with Harper, but I had told Sammy I would play with her. I actually promised Harper I would play with her too, so I played with Harper instead! And Sammy felt left out. Also, Sammy and I were not friends for a while.

The next day I felt very sad because I lost a friend. When I went up to Sammy, I said, “Sorry that I didn’t play with you when I promised, so uh… can we play?”

Sammy said, “Yes” and I felt so happy that we were friends again that I almost bursted into joyful tears and screamed!

Now I’m eight, but next year I’m going to be in third grade. I hope it turns out great. But my friend Harper is moving, and it won’t be the same without her. But all next year will still be great because I might make new friends and having the same friends could get a little boring. Also in all of those years, I noticed that being a good friend is when you like them for who they are, and when you don’t lie or yell at them. And that is my life before I turned eight.

 

THE END

 

Man in the Shadows

One dark night, a boy, whose name was unknown, was living on a farm that was dark, had many dead trees, a tool shed in the backyard, and was near a graveyard, when he heard someone talking to him. He tried answering, but no one answered. All of a sudden, he heard a loud noise that went like this… Boom! The boy ran into his house to find cobwebs and his dad gone. When he went to bed, he saw images of a guy that had no shape and no face, in the shadows haunting people.

The Man in the Shadows said, “I will find you.”

He said that while haunting the boy in the real world. The boy woke up and gasped for air, not able to sleep.

The next day, the boy did his normal chores. He went to the police station and told them about the Man in the Shadows, but they all thought he was crazy.

He went to go back to his farm, but it was all gray with shadows. He knew what had come: The Man in the Shadows. He knew he would have to face this monster, but he was too scared.

When the night came, he went to his room. It was old and dusty, and when he walked, he heard a CREEAK. All of a sudden, he saw a light coming from the graveyard. He wanted to look away, but he couldn’t. He was being mind controlled. When the light stopped, he looked behind him and found the Man in the Shadows haunting him. He was extremely scared, so scared that he fell backwards, crashed through the window, and landed straight on the ground. Luckily, he landed in some mud.

He ran as fast as he could and ran into a tool shed. He heard footsteps and, slowly and carefully, the Man in the Shadows walked by. He was safe. He forgot there was a back door to the tool shed, and, when he looked back, there was nothing there. He surely was safe. Suddenly, he heard the door make a sound kind of like this: CREEAK. Then, he looked back and saw the Man in the Shadows! He ran out of the tool shed and ran to the graveyard. His heart was pumping so fast, it felt like his entire chest was moving. He was so scared that he forgot that there had been a light over there.

When he was there, he hid behind a tree. He stayed there for a while. Luckily, the Man in the Shadows did not come, but he heard a loud sound. He looked at the graves and saw a bloody hand coming out of the ground. He just remembered that there was a light. He knew the Zombies would come to him.

He waited for about an hour. Suddenly, the Zombies came out holding bloody knives and had blood dripping from there face and arms. They started charging towards him. He started running for his life. The Zombies were catching up. The boy knew he would have to hide, but where would he?

He sprinted to the old Mansion of Ghosts. He obviously knew it was haunted, but it was the closest place. He locked the doors and went to the kitchen. It was really bright for this place to be haunted. He gathered some apples and bananas.

When the moon was high in the sky, he heard a loud howl. He looked outside and saw a werewolf. He wanted to hide in the attic, so nobody would find him, but when he moved, he noticed that the werewolf was looking at him. He ran so fast, he was a blurry blob. He went into the attic and heard a crash in the kitchen. The attic was the creepiest place of all. There were skeletons and cobwebs. He heard loud and slow footsteps. He went to check, but saw nothing but darkness. Not even the light from the kitchen was bright enough to shine in the darkness. He looked behind him and saw the werewolf, the Zombies, and his dad. His dad changed into the Man in the Shadows. The boy was so frightened that he fainted, landing on the floor with a crash.

When he woke up, he saw darkness and saw giant teeth. He was being eaten by the Man in the Shadows! The Man in the Shadows had some really bad breath. He tried escaping the Man’s mouth by slapping him in the face, but he couldn’t. The boy didn’t know what was happening when his hand went straight through the Man in the Shadows’ face. Suddenly, the boy realized he was out of all that darkness, but he had no face and was see-through! The boy was shocked that he had survived and that he was a ghost.

The Man in the Shadows whispered, “If you don’t haunt people, I will come and get you and swallow you, and you won’t even be a ghost anymore.”

The boy did not know what to reply. He did not want to die, completely, so all of the ghosts, including the boy, haunted everyone and everything with the help of the Zombies and the werewolf.

 

The End

 

Alien Plant

One day, centuries before the Earth was as green as grass, there were very stubborn aliens that looked like plants. The plants used to live on a planet made of lava and they loved eating lava. Their planet froze and all the lava was gone. One day all the aliens were ready to land on earth with their UFO. Their UFO crashed into a volcano, but they all survived. When they inhabited Earth they were peaceful, eating lava with their mouthparts that had sharp teeth.

Centuries went by and the aliens lived in peace. Then came the time of humans. There was not a lot of lava. One day humans became very intelligent and started to make fire. The aliens were scared that the humans would use them for fire because they saw other plants being set on fire. The humans used a few aliens but the aliens weren’t good for making fire. Luckily the humans stopped using aliens to make fire. The aliens kept eating lava from volcanos.

One morning winter came. It was very cold and everything turned to ice but the aliens and the humans. The aliens stored lava in their mouthparts and ate it little by little. The winter lasted for decades. The aliens started starving to death, turning brown, and drying up. All the aliens were worried but they were stubborn.

All of a sudden winter ended. The aliens were happy that winter was over, but there was no more lava. It had turned to rocks. The aliens were scared that the humans would set them on fire again, since everything but the humans and them was dead.

When a human named Mr. Billy found those aliens, he wanted to help them. They didn’t have choice but to give the human’s idea a try. If they were stubborn, they would die. Mr. Billy decided to give them water but the plants drowned. Of course he gave them dirt but the aliens didn’t like getting dirty. Years passed until he fed them some bugs. The plants loved the bugs. They continued eating bugs. They ate all kinds of bugs like ants and bees, but they especially liked flies. They continued eating flies and moved into all the places around the world where there were the most flies. They ate and ate for decades until they were healthy again.

And those aliens are what we know as the Venus Flytrap.

 

The Strong Genie

So this is where it all began. It was cold and rainy in the forest, and Mr. Fire, the fire genie, was burned down. He couldn’t hold anything heavier than a small rock.

“I’m going to go find the super strong potion that can make me strong again,” he said.

But what if he didn’t find the potion? He would never be able to help people everywhere lift up heavy items, and he really liked helping people. He floated through the forests and farmlands to the Potion Temple.

But on his way, he saw a candy witch in her candy house. He stopped flying. He watched her stir up her skeleton bat stew that smelled like dead skunk, and then, she got her broom.

“I’m going to get the super strong potion,” he heard her say as she flew to the temple.

Mr. Fire said, “I’m going to get that potion first,” and he ran as fast as he could, which wasn’t very fast because he was so weak, to go find the potion.

He knew he had to get there first because if the witch got the potion, she would use it to kill people because she was evil.

Mr. Fire ran so fast that he bumped into an old man. The old man had seen the genie looking in the window of the witch’s house, and he didn’t like the way the genie looked because he was burned up.

“Looking for something?”

The old man didn’t care that he was talking to a genie, but he did care that the genie seemed to be doing something suspicious.

Mr. Fire said, “I’m looking for the super strong potion. I have to get it before the witch, and I don’t have time to talk to you!”

The old man knew that the witch was sneaky and mean, so he decided to help the genie. He handed the genie some sausage and bacon from his bag.

“If you put this meat on the ground, there’s a lion that can help you get to the Potion Temple. I hope you get the potion!”

Then, the old man walked away. Mr. Fire put the meat on the ground and went up in a tree. Just like the old man had said, after ten minutes, a lion came to eat the meat, and Mr. Fire jumped onto the lion. The lion started to run in the direction of the temple. When they got to the temple, Mr. Fire jumped up so that the lion would not eat him, and the lion ran away.

On the top of the temple, there was a pyramid with the potion on it. Mr. Fire saw the potion, but he also saw the candy witch on her candy broom! They were about the same distance away from the potion. The genie flew to the top as fast as he could. The witch was coming too! Crash! They both went flying, and Mr. Fire landed on an elephant. It went crazy because it thought there was a tiger on its back. The elephant used its trunk to grab the potion. The elephant heard about the witch and knew that she was mean. The elephant gave Mr. Fire the potion. Mr. Fire drank the potion, and he got strong again. His muscles got fatter and flames struck out of him.

“Thank you!” Mr. Fire said.

Meanwhile, the witch had flown into a palm tree. She fell out of it, and there was a tiger waiting to eat her because she smelled like her skeleton bat stew, which he thought was delicious.

Mr. Fire flew home to live happily ever after, and it wasn’t even raining when he got back.

 

The End

 

Invisible

Once there was a boy who was eleven years old. His name was Jack Rutinburg. He wanted to be invisible because he thought being invisible was cool. He wanted to be cool because he felt like he was not cool. Jack’s home was old and very dirty. That is why he felt like he was not cool. The only good thing about that home was that Jack’s dad was a wizard.

He went up to his dad and said, “Make me invisible!!!”

His dad said, “No!”

Jack thought, Maybe dad is in a bad mood today.

So the next day, Jack went up to his dad and said, “Make me invisible!!!”

His dad said, “No!’’

Jack thought again, How could dad be in a bad mood yesterday and today?

The next day, Jack went to find a different wizard to get the invisibility power. He was really excited to be invisible. Along the way, he bumped into his only friend/next door neighbor on the street. His name was Bob Goldman. Jack asked Bob, “Do you know where The Castle Filled With Magic is?”

“Why do you want to go there?” said Bob.

“I want to be invisible,” said Jack.

“Can I come with you?” said Bob.

“Sure!” said Jack.

“Thanks!” said Bob. So Jack and Bob went to The Castle Filled With Magic.

Then they noticed that they could go right or left. They decided to go left. Since they went left, they noticed they went the wrong way. They were trapped! They ran to the door. They barely missed it! They ran to the window. They barely missed. They had know idea how they would get out.

Back at Jack’s house, Jack’s dad was telling Jack’s mom how bad Jack was treating him. Jack’s mom was really upset. She said once Jack came back to them — where was Jack? They looked all over the house but they could not find him. They were so worried that Jack was lost. Just at that moment, Jack’s dad remembered that Jack asked if he could be invisible. So he must be at The Castle Filled With Magic. Jack’s mom and dad ran to The Castle Filled With Magic.

Okay, back to Jack and Bob. Jack and Bob were so scared. They thought they would be in there for their whole lives, and then die in there. Just at that moment, the door opened. The window opened. They ran to the door. The door closed. They ran to the window. The window closed. Then they noticed why the doors and windows kept opening and closing. It was a person magnet. The person magnet looked like a regular magnet except it was huge. It was as big as two TVs combined. It was very light. It was as light as a pencil. They saw the person magnet near the door. They picked it up and threw it away from the door. The door opened. They ran to the door. It stayed open! They did a victory dance. The victory dance looked like Jack and Bob were dying. They were so happy.

They ran out of the trap as fast as they could. They tried to run home. They went the wrong way. They were trapped again. This trap was different. There were claws trapping them inside. The trap was sooo big! They were so upset. They screamed like a horse with messed up hearing aids. They thought there might be another person magnet. They were right!

So they did the same thing as last time. They threw the person magnet away from the door. They ran out of the trap. When they did that, they saw Jack’s mom and dad running toward the trap that Jack and Bob were just in. Jack and Bob screamed at Jack’s parents because they did not want Jack’s parents to be trapped. Jack’s parents heard them, and his parents ran to them.

When they got home, Jack remembered that when he asked to be invisible, he did not ask politely. Jack asked if he could be invisible politely.

His dad said… “Yes!”

Jack said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!”

 

The End

 

The Snow Adventure

One time in a faraway land, a young boy named Bob was playing in the snow. He wanted to have a snowball of his own that never melted. He really liked snowball fights, and he wanted to have them every day. After he was done playing in the snow, he went inside his house, took off his cozy sweater, and had some hot chocolate because he was cold. He asked his mother if he could have a snowball of his own. She said no. He whined all night, but he still didn’t get his way.

Four hours later, Bob decided to go find the snowball that never melted. He ran down his street and bumped into an old man who only had five teeth.

“Sorry,” he said. Bob was so excited that he didn’t care that the man looked creepy. Bob just blurted out, “I’m looking for a snowball that never melts.”

The old man told him he could find the snowball in a castle, and gave him the directions to the castle.

Bob went through the farm lands and found a wild cat to help him get to the castle. Bob finally found the blue, striped castle, and the wild cat went back to the farm lands. The inside of the castle was cold and it had a lot of cobwebs. Bob looked for hours in the castle for the snowball, but he just couldn’t find it. Then he thought to himself that the old man had tricked him. He ran to the door and tried to get out, but the doors were locked. The ceiling was plastic, but there was no ladder to get to the top. He was trapped!!!

Bob kicked the door as hard as he could. He punched the door as hard as he could, and he slammed the door as hard as he could!

“Help!” he screamed, but then he saw a spark of light in the sky through the ceiling. He thought it was a magic fairy, and it was!

The fairy floated down and said, “Are you trapped in this dark castle?”

“Yes,” Bob said. He trusted the fairy because she looked nice and was brightly colored.

The happy rainbow fairy said, “Let’s have a happy ending to this story and let’s get you out of this dark castle.”

In a second, the rainbow fairy threw her magic purple goo on Bob, and it transported Bob out of the castle and to his house. He felt so dizzy and weird, but he was so happy that he was back with his family.

In the end, Bob didn’t really care about if he had the snowball or not.

 

The Flying Pig

Once there was a pig named Bob Ben Bangtem. He wanted to fly. He wanted to fly because pigs do not fly and he wanted to be different. Bob wanted to be different because he felt that being different was cool.

Bob lived in a place with a lot of animals. There was also one wizard named Jonah. Bob was really good friends with Jonah.

The first time Bob tried to fly, he went to a cliff that was bumpy, curvy, and weird looking. He jumped off. He fell on his face. He was upset, but he wanted to try again.

The second time he tried, he jumped up and down. That did not work! He screamed like a monkey with messed up vocal cords. He gave up. He was so tired because he tried to fly so many times and all the things he tried did not work.

So he fell asleep under a tree. The tree was an apple tree with 100 apples. Jonah the wizard snuck up on Bob, but Bob did not know that.

The next morning, Bob felt really weird. It felt like there were two knives stuck in his back. Then, Bob noticed what happened. He could fly!!!

He was so happy! Then he noticed, “How can I fly now, but I could not fly before?” Then he said, “Jonah must have done this! Jonah must have done this because he knows I want to fly. Thank you Jonah!”

“You’re welcome!” Jonah screamed back!

 

The Grandfather Clock

Once upon a time, there was a mother dragon with a daughter named Luna. Luna is twelve years old with a big heart, and blue scales, and stars on her back. She has a long tail with a star on the end that glows in the dark. Luna lived in a cave, and there was a mountain to her west.

One day, when Luna was taking a stroll up the mountain, she found a big cave. When she stepped inside, there was a big clock. In fact, it was a grandfather clock. When she touched it, her hand went in, and then she stepped inside, and there was a whole new world. There were apple trees, blueberry trees, and other berry trees. There were thousands of mountains and a big stream. There was a spring area where spring animals roamed. There was an autumn area where autumn animals roamed, and there was a winter area where winter animals roamed. There was a summer area where summer animals roamed. But her favorite part was the summer part with the hawk and the sound it made. It sounded like Mozart playing the piano. And it came down, down to her and asked what her name was.

Luna said, “My name is Luna.”

Luna asked,  “What is your name?”

The hawk said, “My name is Chrissa.”

Luna went over to the spring area. There was a little monarch butterfly and it said, “Welcome to the spring area!”

There was also another butterfly beside Luna that said, “Come help!”

Its name was Rose. The dragon followed her to the butterfly home.

Rose said to Luna, “Can you go get that vine, and can you also get a pinecone? Then can you get the glue out of the pinecone and attach it to the top of the vine, some on the bottom, and attach the vine in the two places so the nest will hold?”

Luna did it. And then when she did that Rose said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you!”  And it gave her a rose that she really liked. It was a red rose, and she put it in her bag that she brought along with her.

Then they went to the winter area. There was a polar bear that said, “You must come help!” Then the polar bear led them to a penguin that was under a branch.

The other penguin said, “You really, really must help because you must be so strong with that tail of yours. You can lift up the branch!”  When she did, she saw no wing on the penguin.

They said, “Oh no! There’s only one person that can help.”

Luna asked, “Who?”

“Ember will,” they replied.

”Can you fly this penguin to Ember?” asked another penguin.

”Why yes!” Luna said.

Another penguin said, “Her cave is in the autumn area, and two big trees are next to the cave.”

When they arrived, Ember was sitting down and she was meditating. Ember was a white wolf, and she was over a thousand years old. She said, “I know you, Luna, we’ll talk about this later. But for now, I’ll take care of the penguin. ”

Ember put a robotic wing on the penguin.

Luna asked, astounded, “How did you make it?”

Ember said, “Magic. You may leave the penguin. There’s a problem. There’s a bad guy taking over the world, and his name is Siro. You must get the red crystal to save the world and Siro will become a good guy again. We’re still trying to find out how he became a bad guy. Pegasus will help you on your quest, and Chrissa, you may go with Luna. Now go. Pegasus is in the summer area.”

When Luna and Chrissa arrived to the summer area, Pegasus was nowhere to be found.

“She must have gone all the way to the spring area!” said Chrissa.

So they went to the spring area, and there she was. Pegasus was walking around sniffing flowers. Luna said to Pegasus, “We need your help!”

Pegasus said, “Oh, shut your mouth! I’m coming.”

They all walked over to a dark, dark corner of the spring area that nobody knew existed except Ember and Pegasus. There, Pegasus said, “There’s going to be a lot of booby traps! So step where I step.”

“Well,” said Luna, “why can’t we just fly?”

“Because then arrows will shoot at you and you might die!” said Pegasus. “There are evil archers hidden in the rocks!”

“Oh, you could have told me that in the first place!”

“I’m sorry, but you have to step where I step.”

“Oh alright!”

They all followed Pegasus. When Chrissa stepped forward, she almost fell into a hole, but she didn’t fall: she flew up, and there were a lot of arrows! Then there was a big, big hole in front of them, and they couldn’t walk! But there was a cabinet right next to them, and written in blood on the front of it were the words: “Please come in.”

It was better than flying and almost dying so they stepped in. There were dead rats on the ground, and inside the cabinet, the walls had more words written in blood: “You must answer the riddle to reach the other side.” The riddle said:

“Our dinner guests howl that we’re evil,

When they notice their place in the meal,

But it’s no big deal why,

We’re just one big happy tribe

And we get really fed up with people!

What are we?”

Chrissa cried, “Cannibals!”

And out of nowhere on the walls another blood sign appeared, saying:

“Yes, you are right!”

The wall then turned into a passageway. When they stepped inside it, they saw three red crystals laid out on a cushion on a tablet.

Above them, there was a fairy. It said, “If you choose the wrong crystal, you will fall into the deep depths of the cave.”

So they chose carefully. They all thought it was the middle one. But the middle one was the wrong one, and the floor disappeared, and they fell into the depths of the cave. Inside the depths of the cave there was a blanket on the floor and a tunnel. Above them, the floors shut. The cave was very narrow, and they were forced to stand in a single line. At the front was Pegasus, then Luna, then Chrissa.

Chrissa looked down at her feet and said, “Look!”

Stitched into the blanket, it said:

“Choose where you step carefully.”

“Where are the guards?” Luna asked.

“That doesn’t matter right now!” Pegasus said. “We have to focus on where we step.”

Then a huge red troll  appeared directly behind Chrissa. It had an ugly hooked nose with tusks for teeth and spiky red hair.

“Guys… th-th-there’s a-” Chrissa said.

“It doesn’t matter right now!” Pegasus interrupted. “We have keep going.”

“But there is a troll…”

“I-I see it too, w-w-we sh-sh-should run,” Luna said.

“What are you talking about? You’re right! There’s a troll!!!”

They ran through the whole maze, and somehow they got out. They were in a deeper part of the cave, and there were dead bodies. Corpses of rats, raccoons, and even a unicorn laid on the floor.

“How did that happen?” Luna said.

“Ugh!” Chrissa said. “I wanna barf because of the smell!”

Chrissa pulled her wings over her beak.

“Guys, we should leave. The troll is coming.” Pegasus said.

A flame bursts out from the walls behind them.

“I think that’s a sign!” Chrissa said.

Then the troll appeared. With a hiss, like a snake with a sore throat, the troll said, “Rise.”

The dead bodies came to life. The newly reanimated corpses’ bones began to assemble, and their various skins and furs began to grow back. Chrissa, Luna, and Pegasus stood, gaping.

“Uhh… what just happened?” Chrissa said.

“I think we should run!” Luna screamed.

A zombie unicorn marched forward, its arms raised, trying to grab them.

“Run!” Pegasus cried.

They began running. Luna turned to the zombie unicorn and said, “Why are you doing this?”

“Siro ordered me to do this!” The troll yelled. “He wants to rule the world forever and the only way he can do that is by killing you! You are the prophecy!”

“Thanks!” Luna yelled back and ran.  

The zombies chased after them, but before they could catch up, a large chunk of the ceiling crashed down and separated them. There was a medium sized hole in the ceiling where the chunk had been. All three girls flew through the hole and into a massive cavernous room. It stunk like rotten fish and even though Chrissa, as a hawk, ate fish, she wanted to barf. Siro sat on a rock hanging off the wall of the cave. Siro was a big tiger with glowing blue eyes and a coarse white mane.

Standing next to him were two henchmen. The first was a black unicorn. Her eyes were blood red, and her horn was a very shiny white.

“I can’t believe it! A dark unicorn? Unicorns are meant to be bright and good!” said Pegasus.  

The second henchmen was an ugly water troll with very sharp teeth wearing a seaweed loincloth.

Siro said in a dark voice, “Looking for this?”

He lifted his paw and revealed the red crystal floating in his palm.

“Wait! You mean none of the crystals back there are the crystal?” Luna said.

“Ha!” Siro laughed maniacally. “It was all a trick!”

Pegasus leapt into the air and launched herself at Siro. Luna wasn’t paying attention. Her eyes were on the crystal which seemed to be staring back at her. The crystal floated out of Siro’s grasp and towards Luna. Suddenly, a big, blue, hypnotizing vortex opened right in front of Luna. Ember stepped out of it, her face impatient.

“Say the magic words, Luna!”

“But what are they?!” Luna yelled back.

“HOLD THE CRYSTAL NICE AND FIRM, KEEP THE CRYSTAL CLOSE WHEREVER YOU ARE,” Ember replied.

“HOLD THE CRYSTAL NICE AND FIRM,” Luna said, “KEEP THE CRYSTAL CLOSE WHEREVER YOU ARE.”

The crystal began to glow red and released a red light that lit up the cave completely. Then it stopped, and the crystal vanished. Siro’s eyes, which had once glowed, were now regular blue. The black unicorn’s fur became pearly white, and her eyes faded to a normal red. The water troll’s teeth shrank back to normal size, and the seaweed loincloth turned into a suit. They all suddenly became good, and his henchmen suddenly became good.

“How did you become evil?” Ember asked.

“Snape is the real bad guy. I have been controlled by him but was saved by the red crystal,” Siro replied.

“Where is he?” Luna asked.

“He’s deep inside the cave,” Siro said.

“UGH! We have to go back in there?” Pegasus groaned.

“Yes,” Ember said. “Yes you do.”

“I will lead you there,” Siro said.

“I’ll come with you.” Ember said.

“Troll, unicorn, come with me,” Siro said.

“Okay,” The troll said in his groaning voice.

“Yay! Another adventure!” The unicorn said, jumping up and down with happiness. They began walking back to the maze.

Chrissa said, “Oh no, that maze! Not those dead bodies again!”

When they reached the fire troll, he said he wanted to come too. They got out of the maze, and there were the fake crystals still sitting on the cushion. And they went out of the cabinet and the hole was mended. Inside the cabinet, the blood signs were still there. When they went outside of the cabinet the hole was mended. As they walked deeper and deeper into the cave, a sword appeared from the cave ceiling. The sword said,

“Use me to kill Snape only. He’s in the door over there!”

The sword floated down to them, and they turned in the direction where he had said there was a door. But when they opened the door, there was another maze. Chrissa groaned. They all went into the cave. Of course, Siro knew where to go because he had been there before. They walked behind Siro who took them to the left, the right, diagonally, vertically, straight and then right again, left again, left again and, then diagonally again, and so on and so on.

When they reached the other side, there was Snape, sitting on the ground surrounded by zombies. Snape was a griffin with white eyes and huge wings bigger than Chrissa’s (and Chrissa’s wings were really big).

Snape had horns and their tail looked like a hand. Ember had never seen anything like Snape. She’d never seen something so scary. Maybe to you it’s not scary, but for them, right in front of them, it was death.

***

The zombies surrounding Snape were all green: one was a pig, a big dark death thing, one was a polar bear, one was a king cobra, and the other-the-the-other was Luna’s friend, the butterfly Rose!

“He’s going to pay for this!” Ember said. She was angry, very angry.

“Ha! You’ll all be turned into bad guys!” Snape said.

“How could you kill someone like that?!” Chrissa said.

I just want to kill him!  The fire troll thought.

But in fact, Snape was a girl. Snape brought out her sword and she said, “Battle! You’ll become a bad guy if I stab you, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!”

The good sword said, “Luna! You must fight with me!”

“Okay!” Luna said.

She grabbed the sword with her blue tail. Luna ran up to where Snape was standing. When Luna reached her, they clashed their swords. And the battle began.

Five hours later, they were tired. Snape fainted, exhausted. And that was Luna’s chance. She raised the sword high and stabbed it through Snape’s back and into her heart. Suddenly, the sword floated out of Snape’s heart, out of Luna’s tail, and floated away through the ceiling.

Snape woke up. She looked the same but her expression looked like she had better feelings. No one was scared anymore. All the zombies transformed from green back to normal.

Rose was pink again and squealed, “I’m free!”

Luna and Ember were very confused.

“What happened?” Snape said, like she was waking up from a dream.

“What do you mean? You just made people into zombies! One of my friends, too!” Pegasus screamed.

“Yeah!” Rose said.

“That was just a dream!” Snape said.

But before Pegasus could say anything, Luna said, “Calm down Pegasus, she’s a good guy now.”

Then the cave around them, which was old and chipped, vanished and was replaced with trees, some with snowy parts, some with summer parts. And the summer sun rose in the sky. The ground shifted and moved them to the top of the world where all the animals could see. Every single animal in the world was gaping at such a marvelous sight.

Ember opened a vortex and went home. Chrissa, Pegasus, Rose, Siro, Water troll, Fire troll, the White Unicorn and Snape hunted through the grass, looking for what was left of the crystal. Luna turned to help them. Then saw her mother in the summer area.

“Mom? What are you doing here?” Luna said.

Luna’s mom looked just like Luna but way bigger.

“I also came through the grandfather clock to look for you,” Luna’s mom said. “Where were you?”

“I was here, just having a great adventure.”

“Like what?”

“Well… it’s a long story.”

 

THE END

 

The War That I Fought For

Meet Julia

Reader, this is just the beginning. Now, this is only Julia’s perspective of war, and this is just Julia’s side of the story. She is just a normal, young ten-year-old schoolgirl, but a grade ahead of where she is supposed to be. She is so very smart. She loves art and math. She was left at an orphanage at age six and picked up two years later at age eight.

***

Hi, I am Julia Berkens. You now will know where my story takes place. I grew up in a safe place. I was adopted, but I loved and needed my adopted family, and you have to understand that. We didn’t have too much money, so we moved to a place that we could earn money, but it was so very dry there. I did not feel like I was home. There was no rain ever. It was not a safe place. A war was going on, and my family knew it was not safe at all for me to be there. My parents discussed with the orphanage, and the orphanage came and picked me up. With a knock at the door, my family was gone, and I was alone. I would never see my family again.

And just like that, I was back at the orphanage. But soon, I was adopted by a lady, named Ms. Guis, who said we were moving from England to America. We got in something that made us fly. It was huge and had a lot of people on it. Ms. Guis said it was an airplane, but I was not quite sure if I could trust her just so soon. Though, I have to say, I truly thanked her for getting me out of that terrible orphanage. I could not even do anything there at that terrible orphanage. It was just- well like I said, TERRIBLE, and you who have been in an orphanage: you know what I mean. You see, I wasn’t the child with the most fun, but there is always some fun as you get a little older. Right?

In the airplane, I told Ms. Guis my story.

“I was eight when I was first adopted. And I really grew to know my family after two years. So, as I got older, my family and I painted our house. It was awesome, but then we moved, and I was not safe, so I went back to the orphanage. I was sad, but, you see, if you go to an orphanage, you meet people. Friends, of course. There was me and Mandy, the teacher. There also was Jacqueline, Alina, and my orphanage bestie, Annabelle Refnes, a little girl. She was a year older than me, but she did not mind. We were best friends until she moved to Italy, Europe. When she left, I wondered what I was supposed to do. Just keep on holding on? I guess I had to. Then, you picked me up. I was so happy, Ms. Guis. Thanks,” I said and did a little grin.

But Ms. Guis said, “Where we’re moving, there is also a war, but it’s a safer war. And no one will make you leave me and go back to the orphanage. But, Julia, here is what needs to happen. You are going to fight in this war. You need practice, so get ready. This is going to be fun!”

I was terrified. What should I do?! Fight in a war at age ten!!! Or go back to the orphanage?! I guessed I would have to fight in the war. But, no, I was about to faint or puke. What was I supposed to do? I was freaking out about what I was supposed to do. A complete stranger–my new mother–had just told me terrible information. I literally screamed. The whole plane (as Ms. Guis says) looked at me, and I ran to the bathroom for about 30 minutes and screamed in there about 30 times, walked out, got my bag, sat down, stood still, and did not talk the rest of the ride.

I got home. Ms. Guis told me where my room was, and I stayed in there ‘til supper. At supper, she said sorry, but I was still mad. I was upset that my choices were the orphanage or the war. I guess I had to do the war. Not like I wanted to be in a war, but it was really my only choice. So, lucky me, I was fighting in a war. At supper, I was talking again. I was still upset, but I made my decision and I guess I could blame it on Ms. Guis, but my choice was my decision. Plus, I was pretty sure Ms. Guis actually liked me.

The next day, I started training and got a green uniform. It was scratchy and had a big gold badge. I could not believe it. I literally was about to faint. I saw someone from the military, and they gave me all my information. Where was everyone? Where was my team? What was I going to do? He told me everything. I now knew what my mission was and why it was important. I needed to shoot up my gun since I was special (at least, that is what they said when they saw what I did at the entering test. I was blindfolded, so I was unable to see what happened).

They said the war would stop, and I would kill the whole other team. I was not happy. I was still very nervous, though I knew everything. I do not want to kill people. The man pulled me, and I saw his face. He had a giant scar I wanted to ask what happened, but I did not want to be rude. He even ended up getting the whole military together coaching me! They said I was a special kid, so I was needed. I thought that they just wanted someone else, but they actually weren’t lying. The next day was war. But who did they think I was? I was not ready. I was shooting guns, kicking, and learning how to be a ninja. I was learning a team bomb. It was very confusing. What would I do? I was terrified.

I left Ms. Guis the next day and went to the field. It was dark, and I felt like I was blind, but it got lighter. When it got light, I saw bombs and guns for us. Everyone got armed and stood in our positions. I was nervous, but I knew what I needed to do. Not that I wanted to. I was only ten. This, though, could be one of the best things ever. I could be better. I could be a hero. I could be famous. People might actually know me.

I started to fight in the war. Everyone was getting hurt. There were bombs everywhere. Here and there. I had no idea what to do. Should I shoot, hide, or help? I lifted up my gun, but, then, put it back down. I was very nervous. I started to cry. I was the only kid there, but I needed to help Ms. Guis and do it for my new mother, but how could I do it? I wanted to shoot, but I couldn’t. I tried to hide, but it looked like a dungeon, and in all places, it smelled like dead fish. I hesitated. I could barely move. I fell to the floor, gasped for air, then, stood back up again. With the terrible smell, I wanted to faint so badly, but I could not let down my new country. I lifted my gun again, shot, and the war was over. There was finally peace. I was so scared. I was… I was a murderer. What had I done? I hurt someone. NO!      

My whole team was celebrating. I guess I was special. I was so happy that I just saved my whole country. How? I was scared, but excited. It was the weirdest feeling. Everyone was celebrating me. Not like I wanted to kill everyone on that team, but I made it, so that kids could have a good childhood with their families even though I could not. And now I kind of thanked Ms. Guis. She made me a true hero. They had a big party and everyone was so happy, including me, I guess. I felt I was finally at my real home where I would regret things, but still be happy because I felt safe.

 

The End

 

Life’s End

As I ran and ran, with the wind blowing in my hair and the sand sticking to my wet feet, I was thinking of all the people and fights that I was leaving behind. A comfortable life where I didn’t have to go to school, or be tutored at home, would all be thrown away. This was going to be a new start to my life, and I had no idea where I was going. All I knew was straight. I could smell the salt stinging my nose and the ocean stretching miles long. The waves crashed right next to my feet, sometimes soaking them in the sand. I looked back at the faint wedding. My dad hadn’t noticed that I left yet. As soon as I turned the bend, I stopped for a rest and took off my shoes. My feet were in so much pain. I ran almost a mile in high heel shoes. Never will I do that again. I threw my shoes in the ocean and kept on running.

When I got to the road, I called my friend who was sixteen and told her I needed a runaway car. She knew that I had planned to run away from one of my father’s weddings and told me she would be my car. I couldn’t bring myself to do it during the first seven, but the eighth? A year after my mother died, my dad remarried for the first time to someone he didn’t love. They divorced within a month. This happened six more times, but my father still hadn’t learned his lesson. My friend drove me to the airport, and we said goodbye for a long time.

The airplane was cold, and I was barefoot in a wet and sand-covered, ripped flower girl’s dress. The people on the plane probably thought I was crazy. I looked out the window. The idea that kept coming into my mind was, how am I going to make a livelihood? I had no profession or special talents, and I was only twelve. I pushed my problems to the back of my head and tried to fall asleep.

When I woke up, the flight attendant was saying that we might be coming in for a rough sea landing. I freaked out. I shouted and screamed. The flight attendant came running towards me and over my screams I could hear another flight attendant call on the loud speaker for a doctor. A woman in her mid-twenties slid into the seat next to me. The person who once sat there had slid out of the seat when the doctor came. The doctor tried to calm me down by telling me her name, and a little bit about herself, but I didn’t register that information. The only thing going through my mind at the moment was a picture of me drowning in the ocean.

The doctor repeated her name again, and this time, it registered. Her name was Catherine. A beautiful name. She really knew what she was doing. I could tell because it worked. I stopped screaming and looked up just in time to see the flight attendant leading the lady who was once sitting next to me into Catherine’s old seat. The lady kept looking back at me, and as I looked around the plane, I thought to myself, Oh my, of course everyone would be looking at me. I had had a panic attack.

The same flight attendant that had called for the doctor told everyone over the loudspeaker to get in position for a crash. I opened my mouth to scream as I spotted a girl about three years old who was in position. She didn’t look scared, just calm. At that moment, I realized how stupid being scared of a crash in 2017 was, when no one else was. Everyone was calm, and I just had a panic attack. I got in position, and the doctor rubbed my back and told me to stay calm. Over the loud speaker, I heard a count down.

“Ten, nine, eight — ”

I hugged the doctor, and she hugged me back.

“Seven, six, five, four, three, two, one.”

I closed my eyes waiting for the impact but none came.

The flight attendant told everyone to stay in position and that the countdown was a bit early. She started another. At around four, the crash came and the impact was harder than anyone could have expected. My head hit the seat in front of me, crushing the doctor’s hand who was protecting my head. Her fingers were bleeding and so was my head. Many other people on the plane had injuries, and they were all very serious.

Water was now to the top of the plane, and no one could breathe. Everyone stayed in their seat for another minute. By that time, we should have been straining for breath and turning blue, but we all seemed to be able to breathe. Was this a miracle, or the after life? The water was as clear as air and it felt like we were breathing air.

The flight attendant called over the loudspeaker. That still worked too. “I will go out of the plane and explore, does anyone want to come?”

Nobody did so she went alone. About thirty seconds later, we heard a muffled scream through the water. The pilot went out to check on the flight attendant, and when he popped his head back into the plane, he told everyone to take their luggage and file out. I had no luggage, but I saw that it wasn’t easy to swim with soaked luggage. When we got outside the plane, there were an escort of sharks, all different kinds, waiting for us. They looked scary and imposing, but the leader was talking in a friendly way to the pilot like they were old friends. Nobody seemed to think that this was odd. They all just went with the flow.

All of the people who could were trying to pop open the bottom of the plane to get all of their checked bags. I had a feeling we were going to need them.

The sharks took us to an underwater city that was lit up, like in the movies. They took us around the back of the city, like they didn’t want us be seen. We went through a tunnel to the back of a shop. It smelled like seaweed. The water was thinner and cleaner around the city. It was also more easy to breathe in. It looked more bluish, and we couldn’t hear the waves as much.

A woman with a tail entered the shop from the front. The sharks dived down and so did the rest of the passengers from the plane. The woman was dressed in a sky blue tail with jewels hung around, like lights on a Christmas tree. She had on a blue bikini top, which was the same color as the tail. Her hair hung behind her. It was long, brown, and straight. She swam up to the cashier’s desk.  The woman demanded a fancy tail for the mer-prom. The mermaid behind the cashier’s desk swam to a rack of bejeweled tails. There were rainbow ones, plain ones, and ones in all different combinations of colors. When the mermaid finished paying for the tail cover, we came out of our hiding spot. The cashier took out what looked like a phone and called two mer-people.

Around fifteen minutes later, two mermaids entered the shop and the sharks didn’t dive down, so neither did we. One of the mermaids had blonde hair. It was wavy and it had a pink streak in it. Her tail was the same color as the pink in her hair. The other mermaid looked just like my mom. It couldn’t be, I told myself. Her hair was jet black and her tail looked like it wasn’t connected to her.

My mother had died in a plane crash, so it was impossible for it to be her. They locked the door behind them and put the “Closed” sign out. I got scared. Were they going to hurt us? Was this a trap? While they were doing this, they looked scared, like they were worried they were going to be caught in the middle. They looked around.

“Hello guys! My name is Molly and I died in a plane crash just like you!” the girl, who looked liked my mom, said.

When she spotted me, her mouth dropped wide, and her eyes blew up to the size of tennis balls. She swam towards me and gave me an embracing hug. At that moment, I couldn’t think of anything except for what was going on that second. The last few hours of my life flashed right in front of my eyes. I saw myself running away from the wedding, the plane crash, and the sharks. I couldn’t believe that I was hugging my mom. This never happens, I think?

We stood in that hug for what felt like hours, with everyone else looking at us, but those hours were spent well. I could tell my mom was happy that I was with her, and that the after life wasn’t how we used to imagine it.

When the hug was over, my mom introduced me to every one of her friends. They told me they had heard a lot about me. My mom told everyone, including me, about the mer-people. They hate humans, and every time there is a plane crash in these waters, the sharks come and save them. Then, they bring them here and put fake tails on them so they can fit in. The only rule in this world is that no one is allowed to go to the surface, and if a human is near, hide. If Mom and I go up to the surface and find Dad, this could be my only chance to ever get them reunited. I needed to tell Mom.

“Now I would like an update of what is going on in the human world,” my mom said.

Other people told her about what was on the news and everything, but I told her about Dad and his marriages. She was furious and kept mumbling to herself. I couldn’t make out what she was saying, but it wasn’t something nice.

We put fake tails on and dyed parts of our hair. I looked so different and I liked it. Mom and I went back to her house, and we talked and caught up. I told her everything about running away and she told me we would have to go notify Dad to tell him I was okay. I agreed, but asked her how we would if we were not allowed to the surface, and she said it would be alright. We just needed to take our tails off. Just then, a huge and loud bugle rang.

My mom rushed me out and into the crowds of mer-people. A big jeweled carriage arrived.  My mom told me it was the queen and we had to do what everyone else did. She told me the queen was vain and selfish. She always has a wig on and wears so much mer-makeup. I had heard about queens like this in stories, and they scared me. Now, I was witnessing it for real.

“Honey, tighten your tail quick. If the queen sees it loose, you’re dead and so am I.”

The queen looked around and all the mer-people seemed so uptight and scared just like in stories.

When the ceremony was over, Mom and I went back to her house and got ready to go up to the surface. We pretended to go shopping in the tail store but really went through the tunnel that I came through. We swam as fast as our tails would let us. When we got to the surface and stuck our heads out of the water, we couldn’t breathe. Our mouths or noses wouldn’t take the air in. My mother led me away from the surface and she showed me to a dark cave. We entered and my mother had a nervous look on her face. When Something moved in the back of the cave, my mother squeezed my hand and I realized that she wasn’t an expert at this like I thought she was at everything. Have you ever felt like someone knew everything, and was always a leader to you, but then one action that that person does changes everything? It was, all of a sudden, and I was scared.

A weird looking mermaid came out from the shadows. He looked ghostly and faint. There were no vibrant colors in him. He seemed mean and when he talked, he did so in a strict manner. His tail was black and plain. My mother spoke quietly when she said,

“We were hoping you would help us and make us human again.”

The guy teased us for a bit and kept tricking us by being nice, and when we said “Really?” he would shout “No!”

But finally, he agreed. When he did, he said we would have to pay a price. We asked what that was, and he said we needed to work for him for five days. The next couple of days were torture. He made us work so hard. When his friends came over to his cave on the fifth day, he had more help with demanding things for us to do, and my mother kept reminding me that it was the last day.

I kept reminding myself that this may be my only chance to get my parents reunited. It used to just be one or the other, and this may be my only chance. The next day we went and told the man that it had been five days, and he said he would make us human again. He said okay in a sad tone and looked at us with a soul-piercing stare. The next second, I couldn’t breathe and neither could my mom. We swam as fast as we could and the last thing I knew, I blacked out.

When I came to, I was on the sand and my mom was on top of me with a worried look on on her face. She hugged me when she saw my eyes open and started to cry. I shook her off, but her crying didn’t stop.

“Mom, let’s go,” I said, but she didn’t move.

All she did was sit in a shaking puddle.

“Mom, come on,” I said, kind of in an annoyed voice.

She wouldn’t move, so I sat down next to her and embraced her in a tight, loving hug. Her shaking stopped, and her crying did, too. We let go of the hug slowly and I looked straight into her eyes. Then I whispered, “It’s okay, I’m alright. Now let’s move on.”

She nodded her head slowly, sniffled, and got up. I held her hand, and we walked to the end of the beach.

We were already in the Caribbean since the plane crashed less than halfway through the plane ride. We drove to Dad’s house just in time to see him in his first fight with his new wife. Mom sighed when she saw this.

“Just like you said,” she told me.

“I know,” I muttered.

She parked the car and got out. When we knocked on the door, my dad fainted. I guess he knew I was on the plane ride that crashed. When he came to, the questions were too overwhelming so we told him to quiet down so we could tell him our story. Then he could ask questions. He agreed and it took about an hour to finish our story and questions.

Mom, Dad, and I sat down with each of our books and read for the rest of the day. By five o’clock, I finished my book. That is one of the most comforting things to me. My dad and mom hadn’t finished their books. I told them I was going to find Kayla. Kayla is my best friend and I’ve known her since I was in preschool. My dad told me that he had told her that I was dead, so she might faint.

I ran to her house which was only down the block. When I got to her house, she didn’t faint. So I told her what happened. We had a great time together. When I got back for dinner, my dad’s new wife was over, and I guess he told her that he wanted a divorce. She didn’t take it well, but I didn’t care. My dad had a cut on his forehead. It was deep from where the ring hit him when the eighth wife stormed out of the house. My mom fixed up his cut and put a bandaid on it when she was done. My dad went down on one knee and took the ring off my mom, then put it back on her and asked if she would marry him. She said of course, and they kissed on the lips.

We decided not to have the wedding by the beach because now, that is my biggest fear. I went with my mom to get the dress and with my dad to get the suit. I helped them plan the wedding, and the process was very fun.

On the wedding day, I couldn’t stop crying. This was the only thing I had been hoping for my whole life. When my parents kissed, I had a flashback of when I was younger. It was when my dad took me for the first time to Coney Island. That was my fifth birthday present. He had gotten out of his third marriage just a week before. We had so much fun, and we went on most of the rides that I could go on three or four times. He threw up because I kept making him go on the curvy rides. Then I thought about my fondest memory of my mom but none came. When they opened up from their kiss, they pulled me in with them.

This was the best feeling ever. There was nothing else to say about that.

 

Spare Parts

OSCAR

I am a boy named Oscar, an undocumented teenager, and my family is also not documented. And as I entered home after a “great” day at Cayden Bay Community High School, I saw a flyer about a URV competition, also known as an underwater robot contest, that could give you a scholarship at a technology college. So the next day, when I went to school, I went to the computer printers, and I printed out flyers.

And while I was handing out flyers, I saw the substitute science teacher, Mr. Hamilton, and said, “Can I make a club to go to this competition? But we have to consult with the principal to make sure.”

 

FRED

I am a boy named Fred, with the same story, but I don’t need a competition. I am one of the kids who knows how to code, and I am good with technology. I went to a computer and was doing homework, but got shoved off by a bully.

He went to play video games on it, and I said, “I can hack it so you will be invincible in the game.”

Wow, he is actually going to fall for this, I thought.

I hacked it, and I shut down the game and the computer, so the bully couldn’t play his game anymore. And then, as I ran up the stairs to safety, I saw a teenager like me handing out waivers. I received one, and I thought for a second and said to myself, “I can be a part of this, and I could get into a great college!”

So I decided to go to the meeting. When I got there, I saw another teenager named Lorenzo. I was just a bit shocked because I never thought that this many people wanted to come. These people all looked Mexican, and so was I. I asked them why they wanted to come, including my friend and another teenager I didn’t know.

 

OSCAR

“So we have to build a robot,” the boy named Fred said. “We need PVC pipes and motors, cameras, and more.”

“Dang. That’s a lot of money we are talking about to get those motors.”  

I really didn’t think that we were going to be number one, but at least we were going to beat some colleges. All the other colleges were huge, and they had a lot of money.

“Well, guess what? If you guys want to win, you have to raise money,” the teacher said. ”We will get disqualified if I fund you with money so…”

So I went with them to a store to see what we needed to get. We got the four motors, camera, a lot of PVC pipes, claws, and a liquid extractor, according to the competition.

”You are still $403 dollars and 95 cents short. What do you want to do?” said the store clerk.

“We don’t need an underwater camera. I have a plan,” said the group leader, which was the teacher.

“You are still $195 short.”

“We don’t need a professional camera. We should get a bit of a cheaper one.”

“Yep, that cuts it. You are now free to buy with nothing to owe.”

YES, WE GET ALL THE STUFF WE NEEDED!!!

So now I went with them on a bus, back to the school, and in an empty classroom to try to build part of it.

 

The Next Day..

OSCAR

So after the rest of the team and I went to sleep, and went along with the school day, we saw what we had to build with and what to do.

“So I still have to manage the battery box and program the motors to a controller,” Fred said.

“The other teenager we finally know the name of,” Alex said. ”I will build the frame of the robot and make sure it’s waterproof.”

The substitute teacher, George Hamilton, said, “I will plan and figure out how many days we have until we have to travel from Arizona to California.”

Lorenzo said, “I will go and organize our place in the competition, and help Alex with the battery box and the motors.”

“My plan with the camera is to make an underwater seal, so that we fit the camera between the PVC all around it,” said George.

“How are we going to see though?” I asked.

“That’s what I was trying to say, Oscar. We put a glass, and seal it on the side the camera is facing!”

At the end of the day, we found each other, made another meeting, and then called it a day.  

Wow, we actually beat an obstacle that other colleges probably would not beat with the money.

 

The Next Day…

Lorenzo announced, ”CONGRATULATIONS! WE GOT A PLACE IN THE COMPETITION!!!”

Alex, Fred, George and I all cheered and continued to work on the battery box and constructed it all together.

Fred realized something and said, “Where will our power for the battery box come from? We need to calculate the length of the wires, and we have to make it waterproof.”

Fred said, “I’m on it, but I need money to buy it!”

George said, ”We need to make it a bit quick, because we only have a week, and we need to get the wire and test it all.”

So, after a day of waiting for Fred to get the wire, we got the wire working. So, we had five days to get there and test it.

 

The Next Day..

Now, we were a bit stressed out. We needed the school’s van, and we needed permission to test it, but there was a problem. Water leaked into the battery box!

“We need something to absorb the water.”

“Ummm…”

“Sponges!”

So, they finally got it working and celebrated because we could get scholarships for colleges, since I am still in high school. So later, the gang and I went to the principal and asked for a van, and after a bit of a painful conversation, debating whether or not she would give it to us, she finally said… “Yes!

“YESSSS!” We all yelled in celebration.

We had three days until the competition, so we immediately got into the van.

 

In the Van…

We were finally on our way. We slept in the van and looked out the window, all surprised and excited. We knew we were not going to beat or even get close to first place. We all looked out for the signs of the college and California as George drove. We went to a sponsored hotel with free rooms and food. I was especially happy because I come from a poor family. So, I ate all I could have.

 

At the Preparation Area…

We stood under our tent as we watched all the other colleges’ awesome UR’s, comparing it to our ugly robot named Stinky, because it smelled a lot. After the robot test was an oral test. But we had a problem. Alex was one of the kids who did not really know the material. He just came to help and to be in the competition, so we looked at him.

Alex was a problem. All of us needed to teach him. So after the preparation day, we brought our robot back to test it in the private pool the hotel offered. We then realized that the sponges helped a lot. We did an absorbing test, found out that it absorbed a lot of water and barely got wet. Fred came to us and exclaimed this, and was in a rush to put it in the battery box sitting on top of the robot.

 

At the Hotel Room…

We started teaching Alex what density was, what we did, how we did it, how much money we needed, and how much was funded. According to George, our group leader and teacher, he couldn’t fund the group so we just kept on teaching him and making sure he knew everything. For the competition, we needed uniform t-shirts, so we all got “AWESOME” t-shirts. My friend, who supported me and worked at a fashion store, customized them. We later went back to our party tent to store our robot and we saw all the other robots walking past. All the other people just looked at our ugly robot Stinky, boo, and showed looks of disgust.

 

At the Competition…

We walked into the pool, to our tent, with our robot. Then, the loudspeaker went off with the judge’s voice:

“WELCOME TO THE URV COMPETITION!!! THERE IS AN OBSTACLE WITH TASKS YOU HAVE TO PASS! YOU MAY SKIP EACH TASK BUT WILL HAVE TO GO AFTER IT AT THE END!! THERE ARE 5 TASKS YOU HAVE TO PASS AND THERE WILL BE A TIMER FOR EACH TASK!”

Virginia Tech went up to the judges to show off their robot. “VIRGINIA TECH WILL GO FIRST!”

Virginia Tech did not complete all the tasks but ended up getting 80 points.

WOW we so far need to beat that.

“But remember guys, we still have the oral test. If we all succeed, we will get 30 points!” said Fred.

MIT walked up and disassembled part of the robot which looked so professional.

”Damn, that looks so good.”

They ended up with 85 points. Then, Cornell went up, showed their robot and ended up with 85 points ALSO. All the rest of the major colleges averaged about 70 points, but one other one got 80 points. None of them got the last task done to give them 40 points.

But then, the loudspeaker announced, ”NOW IT IS TIME FOR CAYDEN BAY.”

BOOOOOOOOOOO,” the crowd said.

We showed the robot and the judges, kind of, got disgusted. We walked back with our controller and made sure everybody was ready.

“Five… Four… Three…. Two… One… GO!”

“ALEX, PUT STINKY IN THE WATER!”

We activated the robot and went down into the water.  Alright, everybody, engage motors! Check. Press the red button engage claw. Alright, come on, come on. Fourteen seconds left for the task! Fail. Minus five points for Cayden Bay! The diver will open it. Now, identify the sub, I write down 1944 U-BOAT.

“DING”

Ten points for Cayden Bay!

We moved on to the “move and replace,” and we had to take away the bell and replace it.

“Alright, team! Engage, claw, and close!” We successfully took it, but it dropped to the floor. But we still got half credit for picking it up, so we earned 15 points. We tried again, and then it fell again.

“Alright, move on to the next task, and navigate through currents.” We successfully did that. It gave us 30 points, which meant 45 points total.

“Forty-five points guys, doing good! We have to disarm the torpedo.”

“There are different colors! We should of gotten a color monitor!” Fred exclaimed.

We disarmed the wrong one, minus one point. We went to the last task, to extract the liquid, but we had some trouble. Our camera was knocked out and barely showed where we were. We barely had enough room to do it. But, luckily, we were a bit aligned, and we successfully filled the balloon holding the liquid. We came back and we earned 35 points. Eighty points. Fourth place, but we had the oral test.

“Aw man,” we all said.

But George told us that we beat around six colleges, and we were in high school. So, we cheered up. We went back to our hotel room, and we then put our robot away and reviewed the components. We told Alex to repeat all the answers. We walked up to the college, and then walked to the waiting room while I went first. They asked how much money we used. They asked about density, and mass, and propulsion. Alex told us the answers. Him, Fred, Lorenzo, and I all got happy, and we walked back to our hotel all excited for tomorrow. We got back and celebrated that we beat about 6 colleges, a bit, which was awesome.

“YES!” I yelled. We jumped up and down as we celebrated.

 

The Next Day…

In the morning, the rest of the group and I put on our shirts and George, no surprise there, woke up last, sleeping on a matress on the floor because there was no space for him to sleep on our bed.

We put on our nicest clothes and walked down the road into the college, and we entered the party room. There was a huge party where the awards and winners would be announced. We went to eat the cake, and then met all the teams and talked to them. Then, the judges start talking about how surprised they were about the winner and that they did not expect it. They started the awards.

“The winner for the cheapest robot in price isss… CAYDEN BAY!”

We stood up and celebrated. I went up first to hold the award first, and I jumped up and down. Then, the other awards went to MIT and other colleges. Then, after a couple of hours, they started announcing the winners. Fourth place gets a medal. Third, second, and first place gets a trophy.

“For fourth place is Virginia Tech!”

“For third place is Cornell!”

“For second place is… M….I….T!!!”

Louder cheers went for this college, and one thing caught my mind. Every time you earned a trophy, you had to announce how much money you used for the robot. And I thought, That robot they build ain’t no poop. It had like a crap ton of technology, and coding, and wires, and all that awesome stuff.

 

ALEX

One of the team members repeated the same thing they said to the oral test judges: $18,563 dollars.

$18,563 used just to get second place?

“Now, it is time to announce the most historic moments in robot history. These people took their genius brains to beat the number one college, MIT. For first place, give it up for… C…A…Y…D…E…N BAAY!!!”

Omgod is this actually happening?

We all looked at each other in amazement, and then slowly rose from our seats and jumped up into a group hug.

“Oh My Goddd! We actually did it! The Oral Test!

THE ORAL TEST! THE ORAL TEST!

We all walked up. I jumped up, pumped my fist in the air happily, and then we all raised the trophy. A judge questioned me about the money funded. After everything, I broke away from the group, walked up to the judge, and said, ”Thanks for not disqualifying us from the competition. Why did you not disqualify us? We can’t be funded!”

“Who said you cannot do that? Of course you can do that!”

“My coach said you couldn’t.”

“Well, maybe he was just being cheap!”

“Well, thanks.”

I laughed for a second, and I felt a bit sad that he lied to us and made it into a joke. I stayed in place and looked at him until he looked at me, and I nodded my head left to right multiple times and he cracked up. He lifted his piece of cake, as in asking if I wanted some, and walked and joined them to take photos. We walked back to the hotel room carrying George in our arms, as well as some scholarships to MIT and the trophy, and we celebrated all night long. That’s the end of the true story that actually happened with kids who actually beat MIT.

 

The Friend Fight

I walk to my classroom slowly. I don’t mind being late because I almost always am. Let me tell you something about me. I am Emily Johnson. My best friend is named Annie. I met her in kindergarten, and she’s the best friend I could ever have. She’s funny, generous, and determined. Now, we’re in third grade. I walk into my classroom and take a seat at my desk. My teacher assigns partners for an art assignment that we’re doing. I cross my fingers, hoping that I get partnered with Annie.

“Emily Johnson! And Lydia Green!” calls the teacher.

Annie gets partnered with Lyla. Lyla and Lydia are best friends. Me and Lydia start working on the project. I hear giggling from Annie’s table.

“What’s going on?”

Annie says, “We were just talking about the playdate we had last night. We’re going to play together at recess.”

“What?” I say. “But you always play with me!”

“Sorry, I wanna play with Lyla!”

“Ugh,” I say.

And I finish the project with Lydia. After lunch, it is time for recess. I walk over to Annie. Annie senses what I’m going to say.

She says, “Sorry, I already asked Lyla if I could play fairies with her. Maybe next time?”

“Can I play too?” I say.

“Sorry, only two people can play!” Lyla says.

And then, she goes and asks Sarah and Amy to play fairies with them too! After school, I grab Annie by the arm.

“Come over to my house!”

“Sorry,” Annie says. “I’m going to Lyla’s house.”

And then, she asks Lyla, so I know that Lyla didn’t tell her before!  

And then I yell, “Hey! At recess, you said that only two people could play! But then you asked Sarah and Amy to play too! And then, you said that you were going to Lyla’s house, but asked her after! What’s up with you?”

“Uh, sorry. I just wanted to play with Lyla.”

“Alright,” I say.

And then I go home.

My mom asks me, “Want to bake cookies?”
“No, thank you,” I say.

“Hey? What’s up?” She asks.

“Nothing,” I say.

“Well, then, look at your English homework. It’s preposterous! And I found it in the trash can!”

“Uh…” I say, and then run up to my room and close the door.

I feel my cheeks burn. I had thrown it in the trash can, because it was not good.

The next day, I’m by my neighbor Mrs. Shelton’s house. I see Annie and Lyla walking to school together. Me and Annie ALWAYS walk to school together.

I say, “Hey Annie! We always walk to school together! Why can’t you walk with me today!”

“Because…” Annie starts to say, but Lyla cuts her short.

“Annie’s always telling me about how clingy you are, Emily,” Lyla said, turning her gaze to Lydia. “And Lydia, you always wait for me to do this, me to do that, me to choose. Gimme a break.”

Then she and Annie walk off. Then we reach school. It was a terrible day. At lunch, Annie sat at Lyla’s table and didn’t even come near me. And whenever we had a free period, she would always play with Lyla. And then I look and see Lydia. She looks sad. Maybe it’s because Lyla is her best friend.

I go up to her, and I say, “Look at Annie and Lyla, it’s like THEY’RE best friends, not even looking at us!”

She nods her head. And then she says, “Why don’t we form a team? It’ll be like a friend-fight!”

“Too dramatic,” I say. “But alright.”

So, when school is over, Annie, of course, goes to Lyla’s house. I don’t object. Me and Lydia have a plan. They walk home, and we follow behind them.

Lyla’s mom sayd, “Before you can play with your friend, you have to tidy up the yard. It’s a disaster!”

“I’ll help too,” Annie says.

After they’re almost done, Annie goes to the bathroom. So Lyla follows her to show her the way. While they’re gone, I make the mess even untidier than before, then run back just in time.

When Annie and Lyla come back, they say, “What?! We almost finished it! It looks even worse than it was before!”

Balls were everywhere. A jump rope and bicycle were tied together and on the ground. Coats, and hats, and scarves, and bits of snow were scattered around. And then, the minute they turn back, Lydia makes snowballs and throws it at them. And then we leave, giggling happily.

The next day, at school, I tell Annie, “I have to talk to you in private.”

“Finally,” she says.

“What?” I say.

“Just come on.”

Then we go to the janitor’s closet.

I say, “Why are you doing this? Why do you always want to be with Lyla, and why doesn’t she want to be with Lydia?”
“Because you’re always so CLINGY and want to be with me all the time! It’s so annoying, and that’s what it looks like with Lyla on me!”

“I am NOT!” I say.

“Yes, you are!” She yells.

We don’t realize how loud we are. The art teacher comes and gets us in trouble. I glare at Annie and walk away.

The next day, Annie comes smiling. I take a seat.

And then yell, “Ouch!”

There is a needle that was sticking up on the chair. I look at Annie, and she is still smiling. I guessed it. She had put it there. She guessed that we had thrown the snow and messed up the yard. We lock eyes. She grins. I don’t.

When Lydia and I walk home from school, I say, “Okay, what’s plan B?”

“I dunno,” said Lydia. “Maybe we could… no, that won’t work.”

And then I say, “They’re going to Annie’s house.”

Both Lydia and I have been to Annie’s house. When Annie and Lyla get to Annie’s house, Lydia and I follow them in, through a back entrance. Annie’s mom is in the bathroom. They’re eating cookies. I sneak up the stairs and grab Annie’s diary. I run back down and sprint outside just before Annie’s mom gets out of the bathroom.

The next day is Saturday. I ask Mom, “Can we go to the mall? I have my tooth fairy money.”

And I get the exact same diary as Annie has. That way, I have the key. Just as soon as we get home, and I’m about to open the diary, I don’t. I realize I shouldn’t. But I was going to keep it. I grab it, and hide it deep, deep, deep in my closet. And then, I make pancakes.

The next day is Sunday. My dad is coming home from a business trip.

“Daddy, Daddy!” I say, as he opens the door.

“Hi!” He says. “I brought presents!”

“Yay!” I say.

“Oh, and I met Annie on the way here. She says that she wants you to come to her house.”

“Annie?” I ask.

“Yes, Annie. What about that? That’s not surprising, is it? She says to come now.”

So I run out the door.

Annie says, “Hey. Did you take my diary?”

“Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t.”

We both know that counts as a yes. She scowls and stalks off. I stare at her. That’s what she wanted? Well, I was not going to give it to her.

Everyday at school, we change jobs. Annie was the plant waterer.

Lydia says, “When she’s done filling the vase, I’m going to drain it out!”

And she does. When our teacher walks in, she says, glaring, “Annie! You’re the plant waterer, I don’t see a SINGLE drop of water in the vase. You always remember, what has gotten into you?”

Annie gives me a questioning look. I just smile. Lyla whispers something into Annie’s ear. Then they both giggle. My smile turns into a frown. And then, I focus on the work. But I think. Let me tell you something. Lyla is NOT nice. She doesn’t like anybody, or anything. So, I think basically she just wants to pick on me and Lydia. During break, Lydia and I sit down. It’s time for Plan C: Ignoring. We won’t listen to them. Anything they say, anything they do, we’ll pretend they’re not there.
Lydia says, “Sounds good.”

And then we play jump rope. When Annie purposefully says, “BYE, EMILY! I’M GOING TO LYLA’S HOUSE.”

I walk right past her, pretending she’s not there. Lydia does the same. Then we high five.

I say, “Let’s go to my house and bake sugar cookies.”

And the rest of the day was great. That night, I dreamt of Lyla and Annie. They were saying sorry. And Lydia, Lyla, Annie, and I became friends again. When I woke up, I realized, it was not the simple. But deep down, I knew it actually was. I know what I needed to do. I need to go to someone who understands. I need to go to Mom.

I tell Mom, “I need to tell you something.”

“What is it, sweetie,” she says.

“It’s Annie, Lyla, and Lydia. Well, Annie and Lyla stopped playing with me and Lydia. And they were playing mean tricks on us.”

“Who started playing tricks?” says mom.

“Us…” I say guiltily.

“And do you know why Annie was not playing with you?”
“Yes. She said that I was being too clingy. And I wasn’t! So we both got mad.”

“And so let me get this straight,” says Mom. “Annie was not hanging out with you or playing with you, because she thought you were being to clingy. And then you both got mad at each other. And then you started playing tricks on them?”

“Yes,” I say.

“Well, here’s what you’ve got to do: you’ve got to go up to Annie, and tell her it’s not nice what she’s doing and that you’re sorry that you were playing pranks, and that you were being a little clingy.”

“Can you come with me?” I ask her.

She says, “Alright.”

And that’s exactly what we do.

Annie says, “Well… um, I’m sorry too, that I was playing pranks, and um… not hanging out with you.”

“Friends?” I say.

“Friends.” She says.

Mom smiles, and then goes to work.

The next day at school, I go up to Lydia and say, “Here’s what you have to do.”

And then I pour out all the stuff that Mom said. She listens. And then does it.

Lyla just stares, as if saying, “what are you? An earthworm?”

Well, that might change their friendship, but that’s not gonna change Lyla. But anyway, that’s Lydia’s problem.

And then we all play together. Lyla and all.

The next day Annie walks over to me.

“Here,” she says. “I made this  for you.”

She hands me a bracelet that says best friends forever. I see she made one for herself.

“Thanks” I say.

We both smile and walk to school together.

 

Trouble Doubles

Once, in the house of Huncars, there were two identical twins named Emma and Sophia. One was interested in music, drawing, and relaxing, and the other was interested in soccer, basketball, and swimming. Emma was interested in the school band named Rock Music & Jazz. She really wanted to play in the band and had been preparing for auditions all summer. Sophia spent the rest of the summer trying to figure out how to dribble a basketball on her head, which Emma didn’t understand, since you’re supposed to dribble a soccer ball on your head — not a basketball.

One day, before middle school began, Sophia convinced Emma to play soccer with her in the park. Sophia scored so many times because Emma was too busy reading her book in the goal.

“That’s 52 – 0,” Sophia sighed.

“Yeah, but who’s counting?” Emma responded, still reading her book.

“Did you know that we’re going to Wetland Middle School?” Sophia asked her.

“I know we’re going to Wetland Middle School. You told me ten times already,” Emma said.

After the score was 100 – 0, Sophia and Emma finally stopped their game. Their friend from 5th grade, Olive Wrights, welcomed Sophia to go to her house for a last minute game.

After Olive and Sophia left, the doorbell of the Huncars’ house rang. Their mom, Elers, decided to answer it and found Emma’s friend, Maddie, at the door. Emma hurried back home and said, “I am finishing War and Peace.”

“Just to tell you,” Maddie started to say. “Auditions are starting next week.”

Emma looked at a flyer on their fridge.

“Does it last two weeks?” she asked Maddie.

“No, it lasts three weeks!” Maddie answered.

Then, Sophia appeared with her friend, Olive. Both were covered head to toe in dirt and mud.

Maddie asked Olive, “Have you been wrestling with Sophia??”

“We did not wrestle, we went splashing through the mud near the park,” Olive said, right as Sophia splashed into the room.

Miss Elers looked at Sophia and said, “You better take a bath!”

“But we haven’t played the pogo-stick jumping game yet!” Sophia whined.

“Well, you can play it tomorrow. Now, get in the bath right now young lady!!!” Elers yelled.

Sophia stomped her feet all the way to the bathroom.

***

The next day, after they took the big, shiny bus, Sophia and Emma arrived at Wetland Middle School. There was a very tall lady waiting for them at the door. She was wearing blue sandals and had brown hair dyed pink on her bangs.

“Emma, you are in room 3B,” she said. “And Sophia, you are in room 1B.”

“Emma!” Maddie squealed, hugging her while their friends, Ivy and Lily, walked toward them.

Lily had brown hair and a bright red t-shirt paired with a brand new necklace from Costco. She was also wearing red flower earrings to match her shirt. Ivy was wearing a green shirt with a fake ivy vine crossing in front like a sash. On the bottom, she wore green and white jeans and sneakers on her feet. Maddie had just dyed her hair yellow for their first day of school. She also had blue eyes and was wearing a pink shirt, with the heart emoji on it, blue flip flops, and giant hoop earrings. Emma was wearing hot pink with a long, white dress over it with pink flip-flops that had diamonds on them. She also wore large, stud earrings and was finishing her books for period one at her locker.

“See you soon!” Emma called, as the first period bell rang.

They trampled over to the staircase leading to the second floor. After Emma left, Sophia caught up with her friends, Olive and Caitlin.

“Ready for period one?” Sophia asked, gathering her music books.

Sophia had nine periods in school. School ended at 6PM, even though they got there at 8 in the morning. Sophia had music for first period, social studies for second period, reading for third, math for fourth, then lunch and recess, then gym, health, safety, and all topped off with a movie at the end of the period. Finally, she was able to relax a little in the school’s indoor swimming pool before taking a bus back home. Emma took a taxi home because she needed to watch a musical to find some songs and record the songs on her phone.

Emma was planning to audition for America’s Got Talent. She wanted to use half her winnings to get a Yorkshire puppy and the other half to buy a ton of books and a TV for her room. This way her neighbor, Andie, wouldn’t drool on her shirt.

Just then, a girl named Mackenzie popped out of the doorway and asked Emma, “Hey, are you coming to first period or not?”

But Emma wasn’t listening. She was too busy daydreaming about getting a Yorkshire puppy named Cupcake. She was so deep in thought, they had to shout to her in order for her to pay attention. Emma was thinking about what she would do with the puppy: she would watch the puppy become a mother and have five puppies of her own, then she would sell one of them for $100 and spend the money on an awesome loft bed, a matching green dress and hat, and tickets to a fair where she would be the center of attention. She loved attention.

Emma finally left for first period music, but she was not performing jazz today. She performed jazz every Sunday, and she had Saturday to relax and maybe meet Maddie for playdates. Her mom was planning to adopt a puppy, but she switched to thinking of adopting a goldfish after their father, whom Elers was divorced from, did not approve since he would have an allergic reaction every Sunday, when he visited. Emma pleaded with her mom, saying she would keep the puppy only in her room, keeping her dad from having an allergic reaction. Elers agreed that if Emma got an A in music, she would be allowed to get a puppy and a kitten all to herself. If she got an A+ , she would get a supercomputer, that could do almost anything, a  storage for snacks under her pillows, her own bathroom in her room, and a lock for her room. Sophia was not interested in these treats because she just wanted to go outside every weekend.

When they finally arrived at music class first period, they discovered they had a new Rock Music teacher named Mr. Dude. His real name was hard to pronounce: Mr. Dudeshivaki. So he went by Mr. Dude for short. They wrote a book called Mr. Dan Dilbert.

After music class was over, Emma asked, “Why do we always have to make comics? Why can’t we just do books without pictures?”

“I don’t know,” Maddie replied, crunching on some leftover fried rice from home.

Ivy opened one of her fortune cookies and took a bite. Lily opened her celery wrapper and took a crunch of the celery.

“My mom says I can’t have celery, but I eat it anyway,” she said, stuffing some in her mouth with cabbage.

Emma took an edible gumball out of her bag and put some sugar on it. She stuffed it in her mouth and started chewing, then took out some Lifesavers and Cheetos. The group of friends sat down together by the snack bar.

“I wonder what Sophia is doing,” Emma wondered.

Just then, Sophia ran over to the snack bar, looking very embarrassed.

“What’s the matter? Didn’t you love jazz?” Emma asked.

Sophia shook her head.

“No, no, no, no, no!!! It was horrible. I was totally embarrassed. When I was writing the jazz cartoon, I accidentally slipped over a stick and landed on the radio, switching the station to rock. The radio broke, the computers broke, bubblegum wrappers were flying in the air, crackers were shaking, tables were breaking, windows cracked… then everyone fell down. The lamp broke and fell on the table, which shattered.”

Caitlin said, “It was a total disaster.”

“How did you trip over a stick?? How did a stick get in the room?” Emma asked.

Sophia answered, “The stick came in through an open window.”

RRRRING! The first five-minute bell rang.

“See you at lunch!” Emma called as she walked away down the hallway. Emma gathered her books back at her locker. She was going to gym.

Maddie took one glance at Emma’s face and whispered slowly, “Repeat after me… gym rocks.”

Emma rolled her eyes. “I can’t say that, I would be lying.”

Maddy giggled, “I know, but you might like gym!”

Emma crossed her arms and explained, “Last summer, when I was playing soccer, I fell down five times and got a bruise on my knee. Is that reason enough for you??”

“You might want to try it one more time,” Maddie replied.

“Fine, one more try,” Emma agreed. “But I’m still taking Rock Music & Jazz.”

The two girls headed for recess. Normally, when it was sunny outside, they would’ve had gym outside.

“Alright, line up,” Coach Tangara ordered. “Today we are going to play soccer.”

Emma’s stomach lurched.

“Soccer??” she gulped.

“Take a deep breath,” Maddie soothed, as Coach Tangara took attendance.

When Coach Tangara shouted, ‘Emma Huncar!!!’ Emma tried to take a deep breath, but she swallowed some saliva and ended up choking instead. Emma glanced at the soccer ball.

“Oh boy, looks like it’s going to be a looong period,” she sighed.

“Three laps around the field!” Coach Tangara yelled. “Now!”

Everyone took off running, but Emma just stood there like a deer caught in the headlights. Laps? Field? She thought to herself. Running???

“I’ll never make it,” she said to Maddie.

Maddie caught her as she made it to one lap.

“Come on, Emma, it’s just laps! We’re only jogging, not running,” she encouraged.

“I guess I’ll try,” Emma said as she took off jogging.

The first two laps went well, but when she was almost done, she tripped over her feet and landed near the bleachers. A face popped up — it was Mackenzie.

“Sorry! I didn’t mean to!” Mackenzie sang sarcastically.

But Emma could tell, when she looked into Mackenzie’s beady eyes, that she was lying. After the class completed their laps, Coach Tangara spent the rest of the time thinking about how they could improve. She finally sighed and shook her head.

“It’s time for plan B,” she said to Coach Robert.

She gathered all the students and declared, “We will have an assessment here next Tuesday. Whoever doesn’t score seven or more out of those tests will have to enroll in a Healthy Ever After program every single afternoon. ”

All the students groaned.

“You are dismissed,” Coach Robert said finally.

As Emma was leaving, she gulped. I have a bad feeling that I’m doomed, she thought. Suddenly, she heard a group of kids laughing. She turned to see Mackenzie with her group of sassy kids.

“Hey Emma! I just wanted to say that I can’t wait to see your face when you get a six or a zero out of those tests,” Mackenzie teased. “You’re stuck up. I, on the other hand, will be perfectly fine. I can’t wait to make the L-sign at you from the bleachers.”

“That means loser, loser,” one of Mackenzie’s friends added.

Mackenzie walked up to Brandon, another boy in the class, and started to say, “I just wanted to tell you that Emma copied my moves in the field, and I think you shouldn’t be friends with her. If I can beat her and go to Rock Music & Jazz, you can’t talk to her ever, and you have to sit with us at lunch. And do whatever I say. Tell that to the rest of Wetland Middle School — post what I said on wetland.com.”

With a toss of her hair, Mackenzie looked at Emma and said, “And I’ll make sure that the rest of the school makes you eat alone, including your snobby best friend, Maddie. They would not talk to you if you lose, trust me. I’ll be typing all of this on wetland.com. Not Brandon, and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.”

And with that, she sashayed away.

Emma ran straight to the bathroom and cried for the rest of third period. She missed her second favorite subject, Arts & Crafts. She sat with nobody at lunch because she was so upset.

Then, Mackenzie strutted up to her once more.

“I already posted the notice online and started a Stop Emma club. It already has ten followers — make that fifteen, including my friends.”

Just then, Mackenzie’s best friend, Jessica, approached.

So half of the cafeteria could hear, she yelled, “Mackenzie, I just wanted to let you know that I would like to sign up for the Stop Emma club. It’s going to be suuuuper fun,” she taunted Emma.

“Yeah, we’re going to taunt Emma because of all the bad things she does,” Mackenzie added.

Sophia heard this, but was so far away, she couldn’t comfort her sister. Emma doesn’t deserve this, she thought.

After school was over, Sophia saw her sister. She looked pale and frightened, like she’d just seen a ghost.

“What’s the matter?” Sophia asked. “Is it Mackenzie?”

Emma just nodded her head and turned the other way. Before joining Maddie, she looked back at Sophia, wiped a tear away with her sleeve, and walked away.

Before Maddie could say anything, Emma said, “Let’s move away from Sophia, she’s not much help.”

But before Emma could drag Maddie away, Maddie said, “I got this designer iPhone for you. I also got you a iTracker so you could always track down where Mackenzie is.”

Emma looked down at her gifts and said, “Maddie, you are my best friend. So are Ivy and Lily. You guys are my only friends. Also, Chloe is coming over to my house tomorrow. You should come over too. I have a surprise idea in my room, but it has to be private.”

“Why not Sophia?” Maddie wondered.

Emma glanced at her sister and shot her a mean look. She then whispered something to Maddie, and Maddie gasped. Maddie stepped back in shock and pulled Emma into the bathroom. Before Sophia could stop herself, she rolled her eyes.Then she stuck a note on  Emma.

When they were in the bathroom, Maddie asked, “She was teasing you?”

Suddenly, Mackenzie appeared in the doorway.

“Just to tell you, Sophia will tell you why she was bullying you,” Mackenzie sneered, and disappeared just like that.

After Emma got home, she was pretty upset, so she went into her room without even washing her hands. Ew. She slumped on her bed when she heard a knock on her door.

“Emma, I need to tell you something,” Sophia called through the door.

“Go away,” Emma replied.

But Sophia ignored her sister and opened the door anyway.

“Emma, Mackenzie bullied me into ignoring you today.She convinced me to be mean to my own sister,” Sophia explained.

Emma looked up.

“This is about Mackenzie and something else,” she said. “I can’t go to Rock Music & Jazz because I am definitely going to fail the gym test.”

“Oh, you poor thing,” Sophia comforted, “we have a lot to discuss.”

Then, Emma said, “Why were you following Mackenzie’s orders? You didn’t have to be mean to me. You didn’t follow her orders like back when we were in preschool.”

An image appeared in Emma’s mind. Years ago, Mackenzie ordered Sophia to not follow her sister to the fluffy, bouncy castle when they visited the carnival, but Sophia didn’t listen. But flash forward to now, and Sophia seemed much easier to convince.

Finally answering Emma, Sophia said, “Um, Emma, I was so interested in sports, and Mackenzie is too terrific at sports. I really wanted her to teach me so I can improve. So I couldn’t help it, I became a follower of Mackenzie. I couldn’t stop doing whatever she said.”

Slumping further on her bed, Emma replied, “But why didn’t you help me out? You always gave me lies about sports so I could fail. Why did you do that?”

Sophia responded quietly, ashamed of herself, “Because Mackenzie ordered me to.”

“Ok,” Emma said forgivingly. “But next time, you can’t be a follower of Mackenzie.”

Sophia wrapped Emma up in a big hug with a big smile on her face.

“I just figured out a solution to your problem,” Sophia told her sister.

“Really…?” Emma asked, unsure of Sophia’s intentions, since she was 99% sure there was no solution to her problem.

“I can be you for gym tomorrow!” Sophia said simply.

“But what if we get caught, like last time?” Emma cringed, recalling a memory from Olive’s birthday party last year.

They traded identities for fun, and everyone was completely fooled, until their mom arrived and ruined their little joke right before Olive’s karaoke debut.

Sophia rolled her eyes.

“Do you want to do Rock Music & Jazz or not?” she asked.

“More than anything!” Emma cried.

“That’s what’s important to you, Emma!” Sophia said, suddenly gripping tightly onto her sister’s arm. “The Olive incident was a party prank. This is serious!”

Suddenly, Emma remembered how passionate she was about Rock Music & Jazz. She also wanted to tell Sophia a little secret, but knew she couldn’t yet, as it related to Rock Music & Jazz. If she didn’t pass the gym test, she would never get to tell Sophia.

Finally, she gave in to Sophia and said, “Fine. Just this once.”

“Yay!!! That means I have no math tomorrow!” Sophia cheered.

“Why don’t you want to do math??” Emma wondered.

“Because,” Sophia started, “Mr. Mosely is so strict, and I can hardly remember any of the concepts. He didn’t even describe how to solve the problem 197+128!!”

Emma was in shock. “

You don’t even know what that problem is?! You should’ve remembered it from second grade! Do you even know how to convert a decimal to a fraction?”

“No… I don’t,” Sophia cried.

And since she drank too much apple juice with dinner, her tears were made from apple juice.

Suddenly, their little brother and sister, Theo and Brianna, opened the door and said, “Mmmmm, tasty!” They opened their mouths and put their face below Sophia’s chin so the apple juice tears could fall into their mouths.

“Ewwww, disgusting!” Emma yelled, “Those have eye tears!”

But the twins kept drinking the juice-tears.

“Try it!” They urged, trying not to gag.

But the truth was, it was super disgusting. Brianna couldn’t help herself, so she vomited all over the floor, which Theo then slipped on and fell. Sophia tried to catch Theo, but accidentally kicked Emma in the process. Screaming in pain, Emma knocked down a huge portrait of a panda they saw on a family vacation to China… and it fell with a clang. CLANG, CLANG, CLANG, CLANG. Portraits kept falling from the wall.

“Look what you’ve done, you little brat!!” Emma screamed at her sister.

She dodged her way through more falling portraits and eventually caught an entirely glass portrait of their great-great-grandmother. She finally caught one of Brianna’s pigtails and pulled it tight.

“That’s what you get for detention, missy!” Emma yelled.

Holding back tears, Brianna yelled back, “Let go of me! I’m sorry! I’ll give you all of my money!”

She handed Emma a small pink purse with $30 in it. Emma pocketed the money and gave Brianna’s hair one last tug as hard as she could.

“OWWWWWW!!!!” Brianna screamed.

Emma finally let go, but she wasn’t done yet. She grabbed a huge pair of scissors and cut a tiny diamond from Brianna’s pink purse.

“That’s what you get, missy!!!” Emma screamed at the top of her lungs, running to go tell their mom what happened.

Luckily for Emma, their mother was on her side and grounded Brianna for three weeks. Emma and Sophia began the cleanup process, starting with putting the portraits that fell in a big box, both hoping there would never be a portrait incident ever again. The twins then began cleaning Brianna’s vomit, transferring it from the floor to a plastic bag, which they threw in the trash.

“Let’s get back to serious business,” Emma said, as she put Theo in the bath.

Theo needed to borrow Emma’s bath, as he and Brianna’s bathroom was covered in sticky, slimy gum Brianna chewed and left on the walls. She even drew on the gum, making them look like pictures. Then suddenly, Emma’s focus returned to the gym test.

“Wait, you can’t just look like me. You have to act like me too!” she whined to Sophia.

“I got it!” Sophia said with a grin.

She grabbed a tube of toothpaste and started blowing in it, imitating how Emma plays her flute, although she was humming off-key.

“Hold on, I need to play my piano,” Emma said. “Otherwise I will fail my audition for Rock Music & Jazz. I need to concentrate on my audition and the gym test.”

“First,” Sophia said. “You do me.”

With a thoughtful expression, Emma waved to Sophia’s invisible schoolmates.

“Hey! Did you check out the game today? Man, you totally rocked it.”

Ending her impression of her sister, Emma said to Sophia, “Pretty good, huh?”

“Yes, yes, yes!” Sophia answered happily. “Now we must get to sleep. We have a long day tomorrow.”

Emma made a face.

“It doesn’t sound very healthy to go to sleep without brushing your teeth all day. You didn’t even brush your teeth in the morning or after you finished three Pez holders. Even after you had three fruit snacks or the giant lollipop! What is wrong with you? I brushed my teeth about four times today, very carefully,” Emma replied, disgusted.

“I can’t stop eating candy!” Sophia insisted.

“Well, you should go to sleep,” Emma replied. “Your breath smells disgusting. Did you smoke today? Principal Wilkins found a cigarette under your lunch table between you and Caitlin’s seats.”

“No, of course not!” Sophia responded, insulted. “William, the 8th grader, must have dropped it.”

Now Emma was tired.

“Alright, alright. Enough talk. Let’s go to bed. I’ll see you in the morning.”

SLAM. The door closed quickly, and Sophia walked downstairs to her room. Sophia’s room was the same size as Emma’s, but it was much more empty. All it had in it was her bed, a table, and a plastic chair. She also had bookcases filled with books about sports, plus tennis rackets, basketballs, soccer balls, and baseballs. Sophia walked over to her bed to find a little message written under her pillow. Huh? She wondered.

The message read: Tmrwyulmetm.oooyuilee.Totally confused, she went back upstairs and showed it to Emma. Emma wrote it on her iPad, which helped decode the message.

It said, “Tomorrow you guys will meet me in the abandoned junkyard where you put your little sister’s vomit. You don’t know me now, but you will later. Signed, TGF.”

“We’re not going there. TGF is a stranger, and it might be another one of Mackenzie’s pranks.” Sophia reacted.

“How do you know that?” Emma asked.

But just then, she looked out the window of her room to see Mackenzie’s long, red hair standing at the junkyard across the street. She was telling a group of people something strange.

“Not getting involved sounds good to me,” Emma finally agreed, not wanting to get involved with Mackenzie’s tricks.

So the twins finally went to sleep.

***

The next day, the twins kept giggling between bites of cereal.

“I’m glad someone is feeling better this morning,” Elers remarked as she glanced at the girls.

Emma was wearing a long, fashionable shirt and a little skirt with roses popping out of it. She wore her blue flip flops from Bloomingdale’s on her feet. Sophia wore her usual outfit: jeans and a t-shirt, but with sneakers instead of boots. She realized today wasn’t the best day for boots, so she wore her Sketchers. After finishing their cereal, the twins rushed out the door, not even leaving time to brush their teeth — some surprise, huh?

Emma suddenly took a deep breath at lunch.

“What is wrong with you?” Maddie asked.

But Emma was too busy rushing, spilling her soup, and leaving before eating her dessert. Suddenly, she crossed her fingers and ran into a bathroom stall.

 

To read what happens next, you will have to listen to Emma’s recorded journal.

EMMA:

I crossed my fingers and ran into a bathroom stall. I waited and waited for my sister, Sophia, but she never arrived. I peeked under the stall and saw Mackenzie giggling.

Sophia walked in and said, “What are you doing, Mackenzie? Shouldn’t you be at your table?”

Mackenzie disappeared as she said, “As you follow me, you will have to sign into the Stop Emma club.”

Then she snickered and ran to her best friend, Jessica. Ignoring Mackenzie, Sophia ducked under the stall I was in and asked, “Ready or not?”

“Here we come,” I replied.

So we started to switch clothes at a fast pace. Sophia gave me her jeans. I gave her my designer shirt. Sophia gave me her t-shirt. I gave her my skirt. We changed outfits completely until we looked like each other. I buried my watch inside Sophia’s bookbag. Sophia groaned when she put my bookbag on her shoulders.

“What do you have in here, a whole library??” she asked sarcastically.

“Maybe,” I replied. “I do have a lot of stuff in here, and it weighs almost 50 pounds.”

Sophia groaned, “Well, you might have some magical power to carry such a heavy bookbag.”

“See you after 5th period,” I said, giggling slightly.

 

After the twins switched places, you might have assumed, Oh no! They’re going to get caught! Well, in fact, the twins were very careful and avoided getting caught by the principal or any other mysterious staff member. Emma walked down the hall. She was careful to avoid Mackenzie, especially when she was going to taunt Emma. But Emma realized she probably wouldn’t taunt her today, as she was disguised as Sophia. She was walking the whole way, not letting Mackenzie and her sassy friends, the Fashion Police, catch her alone.

Then, suddenly, it was 5th period. RING RING RING RING RING. The bell sounded, and Emma raced to math. As soon as she sat down at her desk, she heard a voice say, “Excuse me!” in a British accent. Emma looked up to see Will, the 8th grader, staring at her in a not so friendly way.

“Hey,” Emma said, laying back casually on her chair, even though she was feeling the opposite of relaxed.

It took Emma a second to realize what was wrong. She was sitting in her usual seat for advanced math instead of Sophia’s. Apparently, that was Will’s seat this period, not where her sister sits. Emma mumbled an apology and quickly got up, to see Olive sitting in the back row. Whew, she thought.

Olive hissed, “Where have you been??”

“Uh… bathroom,” Emma replied, which was thankfully the truth because she was a horrible liar.

Suddenly, Mr. Mosely asked the class, “Can anyone tell me how to convert a fraction to a decimal?”

Olive’s hand immediately shot up.

“Olive, please come up and whisper the answer in my ear,” he said.

Olive whispered something, but Mr. Mosely shook his head.

“Nice try, Olive.”

Olive slumped back to her seat — she hated being wrong.

Suddenly, Mackenzie raised her hand.

“I know exactly the right answer,” she grinned, giving Emma the evil eye.

She whispered something into Mr. Mosely’s ear, and he looked shocked.

Snapping his fingers, he exclaimed, “Not even close! Detention for you, Mackenzie.”

Mackenzie looked grumpy and asked innocently, “What did I do?”

“You said you were the greatest at math. You said you were in group C for math — the advanced math. But on your chart, you’re not even close! You are in group A, the lowest group.” Mr. Mosely continued, “And you get at least three questions wrong every day, but you’re bragging. Will is actually the greatest at math in this class. Now go to the principal’s office. Ms. Lata, will you take her?” he asked the assistant teacher.

Ms. Lata nodded. She was a very tall woman with long blonde hair she kept tied up in a ponytail.

She took Mackenzie’s hand tightly and said sternly, “Come with me.”

They walked to the principal’s office, which was on the cafeteria floor. Back in the classroom, Mr. Mosely was getting frustrated.

“Does anyone know how to convert a fraction to a decimal??” he practically begged.

Finally, turning to Emma, still pretending to be Sophia, he asked her.

As Emma whispered her answer, Mr. Mosely’s face lit up as he exclaimed, “You got it!! One point to the back row.” Moving into a new topic, he continued, “Now this is the easiest question: does anyone know the pattern between 5, 14, and 23?”

Immediately Emma shot up her hand and called out, “Nine!”

“Correct!” Mr. Mosely cried. “Another point to the back row!”

Meanwhile, the back row was in the lead, even though there were only a few people sitting there. Emma answered most of the questions, getting seven right in a row because she was quick and thought first before raising her hand.

 

Nick and The Championship Soccer Game

Chapter One: Nick and Anderson

“Good job, Nick. We made the playoffs!”

Nick was eight years old, and he loved to play soccer and was excited about the playoffs. He knew how to play his hardest because he was playing the stars. To win, Nick and his team had to practice a lot, so they were ready for the big game. Their team name was the Crushers. Nick was lucky because he was not playing Anderson. Anderson was a great soccer player and started way before Nick, at the age of five. So, it was possible that he was better than Nick. Anderson’s team name was the Spartans. Nick had played Anderson’s team before and had lost.

In that game, Anderson’s team scored six goals, and Nick’s team had scored three. Nick was not able to defeat Anderson because Anderson was very good with his moves. He did lots of moves like putting the ball inside and outside of his legs. Nick couldn’t do that. Nick was trying to do that. He was still trying to figure out how to put the ball inside and outside of his legs. But Nick knew that a hard team was coming, Uteam. He went to lots of soccer camps and tried his hardest so he could get better and be like Anderson. One day, Nick was asking his dad if his team could someday beat the Spap.

Nick was not scared of the playoffs, but he was scared of the championship because of Anderson’s team. But his dad said kept saying, “try your hardest.’’

’’But Anderson is way too hard!” said Nick.

***

It was one day before the big game, and, lucky crushers, they were ready! The day was here, and the Crushers and the Stars were playing.

‘’Run, Nick!’’ the crowd shouted.

The score was 2 – 2. Ten seconds were remaining. Nick was on the breakaway. He shot  and scored!

’’We made the semi-finals against the Dragons!’’ the coach cheered.  

Seconds were counting… 2… 1… 0… Fans were cheering, hats were flying towards the ground, fans were screaming. The screaming could be heard outside the grounds.

“Nick, nice goal,” said Bryce.

“Thank you,” said Nick.

***

At home, Nick practiced a lot of his shots. His dad burst into the room door.

‘’Nick. Great job. Are you nervous about the semi-finals?’’

“A little bit,” Nick said. “It’s getting harder in levels. I don’t know if I’m up to the level of Anderson. His team has made it to the finals, and they said, ‘we do not care who our opponent is.’’’

“Nick, time for bed,’’ said his mom.

“I thought Dad says it is time for bed,” said Nick.  

“He is very busy,” said his mom.

Nick had been telling his dad, “you don’t have to be millionaire, in the hundreds are fine.” He was on a call, and they could not disturb his dad. Then, Nick went to bed and dreamed about winning the finals.

 

Chapter Two: The Big Game

The semi-finals were three days away, and they did not know how good their opponents were because they had not played them in the regular season, but they saw in the standings that the opponents were in second place. Nick’s team was in third. If the Crushers did not play well, they would lose and not make the finals. That was why Nick and his teammates were practicing a lot. And Nick was trying to do better on his shots. He practiced three hours a day with his teammates and two hours alone.

At the end of three days, his dad said, “Slow down so that you get your shots better. Even if you lose, try your hardest. And make sure to get to sleep early tonight, since your game is tomorrow.”

The big game was here, and the score was 2 – 1. Dragons were winning. Twenty seconds were remaining, and Nick was sweating. Nick dribbled into the Dragon’s zone and shot top shelf. Fans were quiet and watched the ball fly, and Nick scored! The score was tied, and fans were cheering so loudly.

Buzz.

The game had gone to overtime! Teams huddle, and then they started to play. Nick shot from the side and scored! Fans were louder than the city!

“We made the finals!” said the coach.

Nick went home with a shock. He was dripping with sweat, and he could feel his heart pounding at the speed of light.

‘’Nick, I saw you play today. You played awesome,’’ said his dad in an excited mood. ’’Go practice more so you are ready for the finals, and remember, there are three games, and your team has to win two, and you are playing the Spartans,’’ said his dad.

‘’What?!” Nick said.

He was dazed.

 

Chapter Three: What Happened To Nick

Nick was playing soccer in his backyard and shot a goal. Something must have happened because he felt harsh pain in his ankle. Nick screamed a little bit, and then hopped to his mom who was watering the flowers.

“I shot a goal, and I twisted my ankle, and it hurts badly,” Nick said.

His mom took a look at his ankle. The ankle had a blue bruise and was swollen.

“Try moving your foot, and if it hurts, we’ll put an ice pack.”

Nick was trying to move his foot, but it hurt very badly.

Nick said, “It hurts badly. I need the ice pack.”

And Nick hopped to the house and quickly went to the kitchen and got an ice pack from the freezer.  Then he went to the sofa, sat there, and put the ice pack to his foot.

Then his mom said, “How are you going to play in the finals on Saturday? That’s two days from now!”

Later, when Nick was eating his dinner, he asked his mom, “If I don’t play on Saturday, how is my team going to win? I can’t sit at home and just relax while they play!”

“We’ll see if your leg is good on Saturday. But if it’s not, we’ll see if you can play. But I don’t think it’ll be good for your ankle. And your shots won’t be good either.”

When Nick went to bed, he slept with ice pack, and dreamed about losing the finals.

 

Chapter 4: The Finals of Three

The next day, Nick woke up very early so he could practice before the game.

“But what about your ankle?” his mom asked.

“My ankle is fine,” he said, even though it still hurt him.

The swelling had gone down.  

So his mom asked, “Are you sure?”

And Nick said, “I’m sure.”  

Later, the finals were here, and nobody knew who is going to win.The teams were going onto the field, and the Spartans were playing Nick’s team, the Crushers. Just at the ten second mark, Anderson scored for the Spartans! By the middle of the game, the Spartans were leading 2 – 0. Then, the Crusher’s scored when Nick passed to Bryce, and he took a shot from the corner and scored! The rest of the game didn’t go so well because Nick’s ankle was still hurting badly. He couldn’t play that well. It was almost the end of the first game, and the Spartans were leading 3 – 1. Seventeen seconds were remaining, and Nick knew that they were going to lose the first game. The buzzer went off, and the Spartans had won. The team was cheering as loudly as the fans. Anderson tackled the goalie, and they both fell to the ground, screaming with excitement. Nick went home, sad and exhausted. The next game was tomorrow.

The next day, the teams took the field. Nick’s team, the Crushers, were pumped up. Then, the game had started, and the Crusher’s were going hard out. Nick was dribbling into the Spartan’s zone and just shot it from the corner — a top shelf! He scored. The Spartans were surprised when they saw the goal. Then, in the middle of the game, Nick’s team was so happy that they were winning. Then, the Spartans took the ball and shot it very far, almost half field, and it went inside the goal. Thirty seconds remaining, and Anderson and the Spartans were driving it into the Crusher’s zone, and Leo passed it to Anderson, but Nick defended it by kicking it high. The ball flew over the players and landed above the goalie’s hands, into the net. The Crusher’s had scored the final goal of the game! The buzzer blew. This time, the Crusher’s tackled each other, hugging each other.

The coach said, “Great game! We only need one more game to win the series. Get ready for the finals tomorrow.’’

***

The game was here. It was the middle of the game, and the score was 0 – 0.There were nine seconds remaining, and the Crushers were drenched with sweat.The buzzer blew. The game had gone to overtime. The teams huddled. Then they went back on the field. Nick dribbled into the Spartan’s zone. Anderson blocked Nick’s path. Nick shot from the corner and scored! The fans were louder than the city, and the Crusher’s jumped onto the goalie. The fans were screaming so loudly!

‘’Awesome!” said Coach.

“Nick rocks!” the fans shouted.

“Nick, you did awesome,” his parents said. “You won the finals!”

“You put pressure on the Spartans, and then you’ll win it!” said Nick.

“That’s what I was telling you,” his dad said. “Put in your practice, and you’ll get better.”

That night, Nick and his team had a small party that had lot of food and a lot of games, because they deserved it.

 

The  End

 

Ghost Town

Chapter One: Noises

Teddy got into his car and slammed the door super hard. It was only 8:30 AM, and so many things had already gone wrong. First of all, he got fired from his law firm. His boss was very unfair. At least, to Teddy, he was. But Teddy didn’t care. He just wanted to go home.

Finally, he got to the parking garage of his apartment. He went inside and into the elevator. Up, up, up. He went to floor twelve. He stepped out of the elevator and into the corridor. But there was a big sign hung up on the wall. As he read the sign, he heard a loud machine coming from his apartment. He jammed his keys into the lock and slowly opened the door.

He saw three construction workers with drills, taking down his pictures and breaking walls.

“What do you think you are doing on my property?” shouted Teddy over the loud noise of the drill.

“We’re cleaning out this unit,” screamed the construction worker, even though he wasn’t using the drill anymore.

“And why would you be doing that??” questioned Teddy.

“Didn’t you read the sign in the hallway?”

“Well, I was about to when I heard a loud noise coming from my unit!!!” shouted Teddy, frustrated. “Also, stop shouting? You’re about to burst my eardrums!”

“Fine. We’re cleaning out this unit because on this floor, we’re gonna have a restaurant,” said the construction worker.

“A restaurant?! Wouldn’t it be a bit more useful if you gave me a sign?!” said Teddy.

“We did,” the construction worker replied.

“I mean a real sign. Like maybe a letter. Ever heard of that?” said Teddy, literally screeching at this point.

“If you have more complaints, you can take them to your landlord. It’s not my fault that you didn’t know about this.”

“Fine,” said Teddy.

So, he walked to the end of the corridor and rapped on the door.

“Come in,” said the landlord.

“Hi,” said Teddy. “I am here because your construction workers are cleaning out my apartment.”

“Of course they are!” said the landlord. “I told them to.”

“Well, I didn’t know. And looking back at the contract, it says that you can’t make any changes without notifying me personally.”

 

Chapter Two: Landlord

“Fine, fine. How about you have a cup of tea. We can talk about this. Here, I already have some tea ready,” she said as she poured the tea into a cup.

“Here.” she said, placing the cup in front of Teddy.

“No! I don’t want tea!!” Teddy screamed. “I want my property back!”

He flicked the cup off the desk and watched it smash into smithereens.

“That was my great grandmother’s!! Get out!!!” said the landlord. “And don’t come back. Take your things from your apartment and leave the building. Otherwise, I’m going to have to call the authorities…”

Teddy jolted out of the room and back to his unit. He packed everything in a box and carried it out confidently.

“Fine. If she wants me to leave, I will leave. I don’t care,” said Teddy.

He sounded very confident, but he really wasn’t. He was nervous. Where was he going to go? Would he even go anywhere?

 

Chapter Three: Cars

He got into his car and started driving. He didn’t know where he was going, but to him, anywhere was better than the city. Now he had been driving for hours, and he felt like he was going nowhere, but that’s when his car jolted to a stop.

“Ugggh,” he said, slamming on the ignition peddle.

He looked over at the dashboard.

“Oh man!!! I’m out of gas,” said Teddy. “It seems like everything’s going badly today.”

He took his box of stuff out of his trunk and started walking on the side of the road.

 

Chapter Four: Houses

Soon he had passed an abandoned house. He took a long glance at the house. I guess I have no choice. I guess something is better than nothing… He walked to the house.

Creaaak, said the door as Teddy opened it. He walked into the house. Every step he took, the old, dusty  wood creaked, as if it was trying to tell him something. He looked around and hung his coat on the hook. It was late July, and it was raining. That was weird. This strange place had no name. For he was the only person here.

Finally, Teddy made a decision. He would live here from now on. It was perfect. Or so he thought…

 

Chapter Five: Places

No other person dared to live here. It was so cold that your fingers would burn. The houses were so old and dusty, and most of all, the rumors were the thing that made most folks not live there.  For many, many centuries, people had been spreading rumors about the mysterious “ghost town.” Teddy had heard many things about this place. It was always cold, and there was no happiness in the air. But Teddy just thought this was rubbish.

Teddy walked into the kitchen and placed his box on a rickety little table. The table immediately broke into the small wooden pieces it was made up of. Finally, Teddy started to unpack. He took out his welcome mat and unraveled it. He laid it out on the porch. Then he unpacked everything else. Not like there was much else. An old book, a mug, some clothing, and an old alarm clock. After he gathered everything and put it where it belonged, he started making his way upstairs.

 

Chapter Six: Journals

He walked inside one of the rooms. It was small and cozy. He saw an old bed made out of wood, and an old blanket was on top. There was also one big, fat pillow on top. He walked out of the room and into another room. For this room was much bigger and had a bigger bed as well. He looked around. This room had a big, purple blanket covering the bed. Teddy saw a small hump under the blanket. He took off the blanket and found a journal. He opened it. He heard a screeching scream.

“BEWARE… I WILL COME FOR YOU… I WILL HUNT DOWN YOUR SOUL UNTIL YOU ARE NOTHING…” the horrible voice said.

Teddy felt scared. Teddy closed it. He pushed the journals out the window and into the snow.

Thump. The journal fell. Teddy looked at his watch.

“It’s already 10:30!” he said. “I better get to bed now.”

He fell into the bed and fell asleep.

 

Chapter Seven: Alarms

Beep beep beep, said the alarm clock. Teddy slammed his hand on the snooze button.

“Neeed moooore sleeeeep…” he said sleepily.

Finally, he woke up. He made his way downstairs and to the basement. In the basement, the floor creaked even more than the other levels of the house. There were no windows in the basement. It made it feel dark and lonely. Teddy shivered. I think it’s better if I stay upstairs…

Another day went by… and another… and another… then came August… and then September… Teddy put on his worn out shoes, and put on his ripped gloves, and slowly went outside. He heard a loud, screechy sound. He walked around the corner and bumped into a lady in a dark leather winter coat, pushing a baby in an old baby carriage. The baby was bundled up in a blue blanket.

 

Chapter Eight: Mrs.

“Hi!” said the lady. “My name is Marley Keith. Call me Mrs. Keith, honeybun. You must be new around here!” said Mrs. Keith, pinching Teddy’s cheeks.

“Ouch!” said Teddy.

“Yay! Finally. A new neighbor!!!” said Mrs. Keith. “Now, you won’t last a day in this snow with that kind of clothing! Come on, let’s get you warm and toasty!”

“Umm… where are we going?” asked Teddy.

“To my house, of course! Where else?!” said Mrs. Keith.

They walked down to a small, red brick house and walked in. Teddy saw some weird metal machines on the floor.

“What’s that?” said Teddy.

“Oh, nothing,” said Mrs. Keith.

That’s creepy… thought Teddy. They walked into the living room. Mrs. Keith took out a warm batch of cookies from the oven. She placed them on the table, in front of Teddy.

“Now, you stay here while I get my sewing supplies,” said Mrs. Keith.

“Now, might I ask why?” Teddy asked.

“To sew you a new coat of course! Winter’s coming! You won’t stand a single day with that coat!” Mrs. Keith said.

Teddy walked home with his new coat in his hands. By the time he got home, it was already 10:30. He went to bed, like usual. Teddy woke up, sweating. He checked what time it was. It was midnight. Well, that’s if you count 12:01 being midnight… Teddy had a nightmare.

 

Chapter Nine: Dreams

A ghost had taken over his mind, and he had done horrible things. So horrible that he didn’t even want to think about it. Luckily it was only a dream. Teddy got up and went to the bathroom. He splashed water on his face and went back to sleep. It’s just a dream… It’s just a dream… It’s just a dream… It’s just a –

“I WILL COME FOR YOU AND HUNT YOU DOWN!!! I WILL HUNT DOWN YOUR SOUL UNTIL YOU ARE NOTHING!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

Teddy jolted his head up. He saw a silhouette, that looked a lot like Mrs. Keith, jump out the window. I’m just imagining things… Teddy said to himself. Mrs. Keith would never do such a thing. Teddy gasped. Maybe it’s not just a dream. I think it’s time to pay a visit to old Mrs. Keith. She might be able to help.

 

Chapter Ten: Late Nights

Teddy carefully walked in the pitch dark night, towards Mrs. Keith’s house. He knocked on the door. Maybe she’s sleeping. I think it’s best if I don’t wake her… Teddy started walking back to his house when Mrs. Keith opened the door.

“Yes,” said Mrs. Keith.

“Hi, Mrs. Keith. Could I come in?” said Teddy.

“Well… might as well since you’re already here…” said Mrs. Keith.

They both sat down in the living room.

“I’m sorry if I woke you up,”  Teddy said.

“No problem…” said Mrs. Keith. “I was just doing some late night gardening…”

It’s obvious that she’s trying to hide something… thought Teddy.

“I don’t exactly know how to explain this, but…” said Teddy.

But Mrs. Keith butted into his sentence.

“The ghosts! Why, yes, I know. Now that machinery you saw the other day, that is ghost gear. Handmade, why I know all sorts of things about ghosts. Where they hunt… where they lurk… and what they do…” said Mrs. Keith.

“Hunt? Lurk?” said Teddy.

“Why yes… I think you should know something, Teddy… Your house is haun….” Mrs. Keith stopped in her own words and started changing the subject. “Go back home. It’s quite late anyway. You must just be imagining things. GO!!!”

Teddy walked home. This just kept getting weirder by the second. She was helping me, then she wasn’t. There’s something’s strange about her. I’m not going back there again…

 

Chapter Eleven: Neighbors

The next day, Teddy felt like taking a walk outside. But this time, he went the opposite way from where Mrs. Keith lived. After a couple of minutes of walking, he saw someone watching a television through a window. Teddy knocked on the door.

“Yes…” the man said weakly. “Come in…”

Teddy turned the knob and went in.

“Hi,” said Teddy.

“Why, hello!” said the old man. “Are you new in town?”

“Well…” said Teddy. “I’ve been here for about two months. So, I’d say that I’m fairly new.”

“Oh,” said the man. “Well it’s nice to meet you. My name is Robert Feldman, but you can call me Bob.”

“Well, it’s nice to meet you too. My name is Teddy Rodger.”

 

Chapter Twelve: Grandfather

“Make yourself at home… I’m not used to having neighbors. Oh! And meet Sparkie,” Bob said, pointing to the cocker spaniel that was prancing around the rug.

Teddy looked at up at the wall covered with pictures. He saw a polaroid picture that had old, cursive handwriting on the bottom.

“What does that say?” Teddy asked Bob.

“Oh that?  It says Jimmy Rodger,” Bob said.

“HEY! Jimmy Rodger was my grandfather’s name. Did you happen to know him?” said Teddy, surprised.

“Darn right I knew him! He was my best friend. Up until a couple of years ago when he… passed…. “ said Bob. “An’ I haven’t seen another human being until you show up at my place.”

“Wow,” said Teddy.

“Yup,” said Bob.

“Do you know Mrs. Keith?” asked Teddy.

“You mean Marley Keith?” Bob said.

“Yeah.”

“Oh yes. We went to high school together. Personally, I think she’s quite an odd lady. Always up an’ about. Pushing a baby carriage… I reckon it’s a fake baby. She’s always wanted a baby. But she never found a man. She never has time. She’s always lurking in the shadows. Don’t talk to her. She just might twist your mind,” Bob said sternly. “Here.”

Bob gave Teddy a glass of orange juice. After drinking the juice, Teddy left, remembering what Bob said. But Teddy still couldn’t believe that Bob knew his grandfather! But Bob was like a grandfather to him.

On the way back home, Teddy bumped into Mrs. Keith.

“Hi, honeybun! Long time no see??” she said.

“Yeah. I have to go,” said Teddy.

And without another word, Teddy scurried back home.

 

Chapter Thirteen: News

The next day, Teddy woke up to the sound of chirping birds. He heard the bell ring of the newspaper boy’s bike.

“Good morning…”

The newspaper boy stopped.

“What’s your name?” the boy asked.

“Teddy Rodgers. Call me Teddy.”

“Cool,” he said.

“What’s your name?” Teddy asked.

“My name is Bill Huff,” he said.

“I didn’t know that there was a newspaper boy here. Hardly any people live here. Only three. Unless you count Sparkie,” said Teddy.

“There isn’t one. I’m from the town that neighbors this town. It’s called Canyon Island. Even though it’s not an island, that’s what it was named. I come here just because they need to get their news too. Anyway… Bye!” Bill said, throwing Teddy the newspaper.

Teddy went back inside. He unraveled the newspaper, reading the latest. There was nothing much going on. Just politics, politics, and more politics.

 

Chapter Fourteen: Ghosts

Suddenly, Teddy woke up. He had heard a shriek. He sat up on his bed and looked around. He saw a hooded figure opening drawers and closets, trying to look for something.

“What are you doing?!” screamed Teddy.

“Oh nothing, honeybun. Just go back to bed,” said a voice that Teddy was sure was Mrs. Keith’s voice.

Teddy got out of bed and carefully picked up an old lamp that didn’t work. Teddy held it up over his head as if he was going to hit Mrs. Keith. Mrs. Keith looked back. Now Teddy could see her face.

“I will hit you if you don’t leave. And don’t come back!!!” Teddy raged, his face bright red.

 

Chapter Fifteen: Sickness

Teddy was restless and couldn’t sleep. He went outside and got the journal that he threw down a couple of months back. This time, when he opened it to the first page, it didn’t scream. Teddy read the title page. He read “Ghosts.” Page one said, “How to destroy a ghost.”

What a bunch of baloney… he thought. He flipped to the next page. He read, “How to distract a ghost.” He read the first two pages. This sounds like it could be real. Hmmmmmmm… He closed the book. It was 6:00 in the morning. I’ll show Bob this. He walked in the bright, beautiful, pink sky, to Bob’s place.

He knocked on the door. Nobody answered. He knocked again. Nobody answered. He kept knocking, even though nobody answered. Finally, he slowly opened the door and went inside, trying not to make any noise.

“Hello?” said Teddy.

“I’m upstairs Teddy!” said Bob.

Teddy slipped his shoes off and walked up the stairs. He went inside the room that Bob was in. He was in bed. He looked very sick and weak.

“She-she poisoned me…” said Bob, barely able to speak.

 

Chapter Sixteen: Talks

“Who??” said Teddy, crying light tears.

“M-m-m-marley,” Bob said, stuttering again.

“No!! No!!” screamed Teddy. “Please don’t… Please don’t leave me. No!!!!”

Bob closed his eyes lightly.

“A-all your information you need is in that book. On-only use it in the night. Oth-otherwise it will…” Bob stopped.

He started breathing heavily, and then for a second, he breathed. Then it stopped.

“No!!” screamed Teddy.
He picked up Bob and went to his backyard. He took a rusted, muddy shovel and started digging. He pushed Bob into the large hole. Then he covered it. He walked home, crying, with the book in his hand.

***

Suddenly, he heard a bark. It was Sparkie. She must have followed him back home the day that Bob… It was now 8:30 in the morning, and Bill threw the paper at the door. Teddy opened the door quickly.

“Have a good day, Bill!” said Teddy.

“You too!!” said Bill as the breeze blew in his hair.

Teddy read the latest news. His mouth fell open. It said that the new president made the choice to break down the houses in the Ghost town. It said that, by the end of this month, all the houses would be taken down. He needed to find a new shelter. He would do that tomorrow though. He had an important mission. He needed to destroy the ghosts. And he needed to do it fast.

***

Now the sun had started to set, and the sky was getting darker by the minute. Teddy opened the book to page three. Now he was ready.

 

Chapter Seventeen: Plans

Teddy decided he would go to the basement. He was sure that he would find ghosts there. In the journal, it said that ghosts lurk in large undergrounds and dark, unused spaces. That was a clear definition of the basement. The journal also said that the best way to kill a ghost is by light. And the most important thing is that, once you kill one ghost, it destroys all other ghosts that are active. Nobody has ever killed one, but Teddy was determined to be the first and only. Well, not so much about the only part. He didn’t care about that stuff and the glory. He just wanted to get it over with. He hid in a closet in the basement. Sure enough, he saw a white figure fly down. Suddenly, everything was cold. About 30 more ghosts flew in. And then there was a pause. All the wind, and movement of the ghosts stopped. Then Mrs. Keith walked in. She sat down on an old, wooden chair, but she acted like it was a throne. Teddy quietly opened the closet door and reached for the light switch. Right before Teddy was able to pull up the switch Mrs. Keith screamed, “Capture him!!!!!”

The ghosts carried Teddy and placed him in front of Mrs. Keith.

“Now, now… what shall we do with you?? How about we let you watch our play??” said Mrs. Keith, evilly.

She pulled over a pot and started stirring the potion inside it.

“Now this is a strand of Robert’s hair.” she said, dropping the piece of hair into the potion. “Now, if I stir this for 10 minutes straight, when I drink one glass of this potion, I can become a ghost, and return to my human life whenever I desire. It’s called trickle trop potion.”

 

Chapter Eighteen: Potions

Teddy had read about this potion in the journal. When Mrs. Keith drank the potion and became a ghost, Teddy jumped up and got a flashlight from the closet. He quickly switched it on and shined it on all of them. They all shrieked so loud that Teddy had to cover his ears. He shined it on them once more, but longer this time, and all of them deflated like balloons. Phew, that’s over. He walked back upstairs.

 

Afterword

Teddy packed all of his things back in his box. He walked out the door, holding Sparkie’s leash. They walked to the apartment building, where Teddy used to live. He used his old keys to get in. When he knocked on the landlords office, this time he went in and found a new landlord.

“Hi.” Teddy said. “I was wondering if I could have a new apartment here? I used to live here, but I moved, and now I came back because I realize this is home for me.”

 

Finding the Lost

It was midnight and pitch dark. We had done many things before, but we had never done this. We went into the woods seeking adventure. Everyone said we were a bunch of punks. Even our parents. Me, Evan, Chris, and Mike loved hanging out. Even when we got in trouble. And we got in trouble a lot.

“Boys, bring in the toilet paper rolls,” I said.

Mike, Chris, and Evan jumped over the fence, carrying ten rolls each. My mom, lay in our house, still sleeping. Soon, she would find her beloved woods trashed. We had woods in our backyard, huge woods that my parents would go to all the time. I used to get lost in there, but now, I knew it like the back of my hand. I was mad at them. I was mad at them for fighting all the time and ignoring me. So now, I was trashing their beloved woods.

“Great,” I said with an evil smirk.

In total, we had thirty rolls. Each of the boys had ten rolls, and I couldn’t manage to get any because my parents would notice. Not like they would notice me otherwise. All they cared about was each other, the house, and the woods.

We started to throw the rolls on the trees, kicking dirt as we went. All of a sudden, we heard a long, piercing scream. We jumped, all dropping the rolls. We walked backward. We saw the black outline of a stocky figure coming toward us. We all froze.

“Run!” I yelled.

We skidded over the fence, running at full sprint to my house. By the time we got to the front door, we were all panting and out of breath.

“WWWhat wwwas that?” asked Mike with a quivering voice.

The other boys were too scared to talk, so we just stood there for about a minute in silence.

Finally, Chris said, “Chase. Let’s just go back to our bed in our home.”

I nodded my head, and all the boys departed. I stood there, watching them for a moment. Then I too went up the steps to my house. On my way to my room, I passed my dad who was sleeping on the couch because my mom kicked him out of their room. I went up the stairs, trying to be quiet, so I wouldn’t wake my mom or dad.

As I went to my room, I passed my mom’s room with her door open. I peered inside, leaning my head so I could see the big, old bed with its dusty, dark wood. I didn’t see my mom though. Strange, I thought. I walked into my room and jumped into my bed, with my clothes still on, and stared up at the peeling ceiling.

The next morning, I woke up to the smell of burning food. I went down the stairs to see my mom was in the kitchen, trying to cook, and my dad was still sleeping on the couch.

“Mom,” I said.

She didn’t give any acknowledgment of me being there.

“Can I go play?” I asked.

“Sure,” she said, still not looking up from her black pancakes.

I awkwardly and slowly walked outside, and the door swung on its rusty hinges behind me. I walked all the way to Evan’s house and told him that I wanted to go back to the woods tonight and explore. I told him to meet me at midnight and bring a flashlight.

“I’ll be there,” he said. “And I wasn’t scared of that stupid ghost thing anyway!”

He made ghost noises and moved his arms like a dying octopus’s tentacles. I smiled and laughed. I felt really good. It was the first time I laughed since my parents started fighting. Then I went to Mike and Chris’s house. On the way, I passed the grass field with the old trees that we used to sit on to throw rocks at passing cars. Then midnight came. When I thought that my parents had gone to sleep, I snuck downstairs and out the back door to the woods. As planned, they all met me there with flashlights and their own scare-away items. Evan had his mother’s cross, Chris had garlic, and Mike had an anti-ghost spray bottle. It was one of those stupid things that companies get a lot of money on, even though they never work. I just came with an old flashlight I found in my room. We all smiled and exchanged silly expressions.

“We should all spread out to cover land faster,” Mike suggested.

“No way,” said Chris. “We should stick together. In horror movies, if you spread out ,they pick you off one at a time.”

“So, we should stick together then.”

“I agree,” I said.

So we set off into the woods in a line. I was first, followed by Evan, Mike, then Chris. We had been walking through the woods for about a half hour, and we were getting tired. Just when I was about to tell them that we could go home, we heard a loud moan coming from a parting in the woods. It sent a shiver down my spine. I remember that part of the woods. It was where my mom used to go when she needed space from my dad. I looked at it now, in the darkness of midnight, wondering what horrid creature awaited.

“We sh-should go,” I said.

“No way,” Evan said, “I came to see something cool.”

I smiled at his joking stupidity.

“Fine,” said Mike, “Let’s do this thing.”

Chris just nodded. I could tell he was too scared to speak. We slowly stepped forward, every step making my heart explode out of my chest. The moaning was getting quieter now, but you could hear stifled sobs. What kind of creature cries? We all looked at each other and exchanged questionable looks. I was less scared now. As we got closer, the sobs turned into soft cries of pity and sorrow. I remember those cires. I’ve heard them all my life. I knew who was there. It all made sense now. My mom being so distant. Her loving the woods. My dad getting home so late. Them fighting all the time. I stepped into the shadows of the thick trees.

“Hi, Mom,” I said.

Mike, Evan, and Chris gasped. Mom looked at me and wiped a tear from her eye.

“Chase,” my mom said.

“Well, I’m here now, Mom,” I said.

I hugged Mom, embracing her as tight as I could.

“Things with me and your dad are complicated, sweetie,” she said. “Sometimes things just don’t work out.”

“I know, Mom. I know.”

“Honey, I am so sorry I didn’t pay attention to you, I just-just-just love you, and I don’t want you to turn out like your father because you are a wonderful boy. My little boy.”

“I love you no matter what.” I said, tears now streaming down my face. “Let’s go home,” I finally whispered, after a long minute of silence.

She nodded and stood up, holding my hand. The boys parted, letting us go first, then followed behind. I could tell they to were holding back tears. I was thankful for them always being there for me. We headed back to my house and ate a little food. Even though it was midnight, we were surprisingly hungry. My dad still hadn’t gotten home yet.

After food, drinks, and a lot of silence, my mom finally said, “I’m going to call your parents. You should be heading home,” she said.

After Evan’s, Chris’s, and Mike’s parents came to pick them up, me and my mom went upstairs. I slept in her bed that night. It smelled of dirt and moldy food, but I didn’t care. Things were going to be different now. I knew it.

My mom woke me up in the morning, and we went downstairs. I noticed that for the first time in a while, she changed out of her slippers and put on sneakers. When my dad woke up, my mom sent me upstairs so her and dad could talk. Even though the door was closed, I could hear them yelling at each other. When they stopped yelling, I went downstairs. When I got to the living room, I found my mom staring out the window at the front of the house.

“Things are going to be different now. Different but better,” she said.

I watched Dad get into his old car with all of its dents and dirt.

“I know, Mom,” I said, “but I love you.”

I watched Dad’s car putter off in the distance. Mom gripped my hand and squeezed it very tightly.

“I love you too, sweetie,” she said.  

 

Dreams

Chapter 1

Smash! It was a Saturday night, and I was going back home with my family. It was raining, and the road was slick when a big semi truck came around the bend, out of control! We slipped and hydroplaned as the truck was getting closer and closer to us. The truck was coming at a blazing speed. Then… smash. It all happened right then and there. Now, life is not so great: bullies, chores, and dreams. I’m trying to figure out which ones are shattered and which ones are not.

My name is Dom. I am 11 years old, and I am into hockey even though I’ve got two prosthetic legs from the accident. Sure, you can skip to the end to see if I make it to the Olympics, or you can read the story of my life, but it’s your decision. I also have a very annoying sister named Kelley. She is 13. Hey! That reminds me. The Olympics playoff games are on TV. Round one is tonight! It’s Canada versus Sweden. They’re both very good teams, but I think I will go with Sweden.

“Dom, time for school. You’re going to miss the bus!”

That is my mom. Don’t mind her, she is an engineer. But she is very cool. Also my dad’s a novel writer. Every night, he has a magnificent story to tell me.

School is terrible. There is one kid whose name is Chester, and he is the worst bully ever! He wedgies me, then as if it can’t get any worse, he hangs me on the fence until a teacher comes and finds me, and he trips my best friend, Kim, and I on the bus, then embarasses Kim and I about how Kim hangs out with a kid with prosthetic legs! Then comes the laughs and humiliation. And worst of all, he says I can’t be a hockey player at all.

 

Chapter 2

I have been stuck in a dump with Chester and my classmates for five hours! The last  bell will ring in three… two… one… ! RIIING! I sprint out of the school in less than five seconds! Record time! Yes! Dad’s home, and Mom’s home, too! That never happens, only on special occasions! I walk in.

“Hi, son!” My dad booms. “We are going to Tim Tim’s Pizza!”

“We are?” I say in disbelief.

“Yup. To celebrate my new novel I wrote. I’ve got a good feeling about this one.”

We arrive at our destination, and my mouth already waters. But that changes as soon as I see Chester. Incredibly, he’s at Tim Tim’s with his family too. I ask to use the restroom. Chester must have seen me because when I walk in the restroom, I see fat o’ Chester. I try to sneak past him. He catches me on the spot!

“Hey, lard ball!” He says. “Get over here!”

Faster than you can say lard ball, he shoves me in the stall. I’ve had enough of Chester, so I punch him square the face! I run out of the restroom with Chester on my heels. I run back to the safe zone. The food is waiting in for me, and when I sit down on the table, my heart is beating out of my chest.

 

Chapter 3   

“I‘m stuffed,” I say as we pile in the car.

“Make room for dessert!” says my mom, excitedly.

“What is for dessert?” Kelly asks.

“I hope it’s not Bomb Bombs!” I say in disgust.

“You have no taste, Dom!” Kelly mocks.

“Stop you guys!” explains my mom, sounding a little ticked off.

“Home sweet home!” my dad says as we pull in driveway.

We walk in the door. It smells d-lish. Must be cupcakes. Cupcakes are my favorite dessert ever! I see tons of cupcakes on the table, and we eat them all up. After cupcakes, we all  go to bed. I am so tired after a long day. I can’t believe what I did. A cupcake never tasted sweeter.

The next day, on the bus, Chester is not acting like himself. He’s not mean or nice. He’s acting different. But he picks on little kids. So, I go up to him and… Blam! My vision goes black. Next, I wake up, and kids are circled around me, and Chester is being taken away by a teacher. No more Chester! When I get home, Mom and I talk about being a hockey player, and she thinks I should be a novel writer like my dad.

“But I don’t want to be a novel writer!” I say. “Let me try out for the team at least. Please!”

“Fine!” she says at last.  

 

Chapter 4

Slap! That is the sound of a top shelf snipe slap shot. By me! I thought I did very well in tryouts. The next day, I found out!

“Mom, what team did I make?” I said excitedly.

“Checking now! The A team!” said my mom in response.

“Whooh!” I yelled with great pride.

“Practice is Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.”

“And dinner time!”

“Coming!”

Kelly, of course, is there first, so she gets dibs on the chair, plate, food, and dessert!

The next day on the bus, my hockey teammates gather around for a talk. Not like a team welcoming thing and stuff like that, but a talk about the rules of being on the team and what to do and what not to do, like being a snitch. It is an easy talk. The dump is in eye range.

After school Kim and I walk home together because Kim is coming over to my house to play on my Xbox 360 490s. Not to brag, but it is the best kind, and it costs a lots of money. And I’ve got lots and lots of games. I have a big den room with a small trampoline and a soft landing spot: beanbags! And outside, I’ve got another trampoline, but it is much larger than the other trampoline. We also have a spa, pool, and pool room to hang out.

 

Chapter 5

On the bus ride to school, it is the same but not with Chester, and not like the past days. I am sitting with Kim and talking about the Xbox 360 490s and about how excellent it was.

Then a kid from my hockey team named Walker says, ”Give up hockey, dweeb!”

“No! I will not! Don’t change me!”

“Fine! Deal with the consequences!”

“Leave!”

“No Leg!”

“Stop!” says Kim.

“Sidekick!”

“We will settle this at practice . No Leg!”

“We’re here!” says Dad.

“Bye.” I say as I get out of the car.

As I walk in, Walker is there, the guy from the argument this morning. I try to avoid him but can’t.

“Hey! No Leg! Come here, No Leg!”

“Ha Ha! No Leg!” says another teammate.

And practice was exactly the same.

***

As I get in the car, I am thinking I should quit hockey. And maybe Walker is right: having no legs is bad.

But right then, my mom asks, “How was practice, honey?”  

“Not good.” I say in response. “Mom, I think I should quit hockey.”

“Quitting is for losers, and are you a loser?”

“No.”

“So don’t quit.”

“Okay.”

 

Chapter 6

Sunday morning is my first hockey game ever! When I get there, people are everywhere, and there is a large deck with all the parents of our hockey team. On the other side of the rink, is the other team’s locker room and deck.

And the game begins with me on the third line aka last, of course! And when I go on, it is  0 – 0. I thought our team was good, but so is this the other team, so I need to step up my game. As I step on, the thoughts raced through my brain. Quitting is for losers, and are you a loser?  

Because of the long shifts, we have one minute left, make that 50 seconds left. I’ve got the puck on a two on one break away. I make the defender fall with 10 seconds left, short right! So now, it’s a one on one with the goalie. I take my best shot. It goes top shelf! The goalie gets very mad and shoves me over, and I don’t care. My teammates are teammates now because they are hugging me and calling me champ! I have scored a perfect first goal! I think I will be an excellent hockey player!

 

Chapter 7 – Nineteen years later.

“Dom Nikson scores the winning goal for USA!”

That is the announcer. I’ve got camera people all around me! This is amazing. I made it, from worst to first! Yup, I made it to the Olympics after all the years of being an underdog. I did it!

 

The End!

 

Presents! Presents! Presents!

A sassy five-year-old girl walked into preschool on a cool winter day. It was the first day of December, and Sandy Mcgriffin was feeling confident. After all, she was perfect. Her pigtails were always done perfectly and rested on her back perfectly, she got anything she wanted, and she was the Queen Bee of the class.

Sandy was super happy because December was Christmas, and Christmas meant she got all the presents she wanted from Santa. And Santa always got her presents. In art class, Ms. Daisy told the class to paint something about Christmas. Sandy drew herself standing on a pile of presents, wearing Santa’s cap. Molly, Sandy’s friend, was drawing a gingerbread man.

“All you get for Christmas presents are gingerbread men?” Sandy asked mockingly.

Molly furrowed her brow. “No. I bake them with Mama.”

Ms. Daisy came over to where the two girls were.

“Excellent picture, Molly,” she said.

“What about mine? What about mine? Isn’t mine BEAUTIFUL?” Sandy piped up, jumping up and down.

“Um, Sandy, you draw the same picture every day in art. Is there anything else you can think of about Christmas?”

“NO!” Sandy shouted. ”Presents! Presents! Presents! Presents! All for me!”

Ms. Daisy looked taken aback and the rest of the class turned. Sandy crossed her arms and grumbled. Then, she continued to add more lopsided boxes to her pile.

Ms. Daisy blinked and then said, “Okay class, it’s time to show our spectacular drawings!”

Molly eyed Sandy nervously as if she would explode with the thought of all her presents. ”Sandy… drawing time is up you know. Sandy?” Molly peeped, but Sandy still continued, and Molly just sighed and turned to the front of the class.

After art, the class was supposed to sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” for the preschool’s assembly. All the parents came but ended up having their kids’ voices drowned out by Sandy’s high-pitched babbling song of “Santa Gives Me All the Presents!” Embarrassed, Mr. and Ms. Mcgriffin quietly excused themselves from the crowd.

Finally, it was the day before winter break, and there was going to be a class party for the whole day. Sandy couldn’t keep herself in her seat. Christmas was around the corner and that was when she got the most presents.

“For the party, we will have some relatives coming over to help out; so, everyone, I want you to be extra polite, and we’ll give the families a big thank you at the end, okay?” Ms. Daisy exclaimed to the class when guests started to file in.

“Yes, Ms. Daisy,” the class replied, as Sandy nearly toppled over her seat.

“Sandy!” Ms. Daisy said aghast.

A lot of relatives came for the party, including Sandy’s older brother, Rick, who looked beside himself with boredom and grumbled the whole way. At the end of the party, each of the students got a leaflet that said how Christmas is also about giving and not just taking and left a space for this question: What would you give to someone needy?

Sandy scribbled in lopsided handwriting: PRESENTS.  

On the night of Christmas Eve, Sandy decided to go on an important mission: to track down Santa that night and see him for herself. Sandy crept quietly downstairs, excitement bubbling inside her. She walked to the living room, where a cheerful Christmas tree was set up, with blinking red and green lights. But what she saw, she had not expected: her parents were wrapping up presents to put under the tree. Where was Santa?! Sandy only thought of one reason why Santa was missing.

“You ambushed Santa! You ambushed Santa! What did you do to him? MOMMY!!!” Sandy screamed at the top of her lungs.

“Sandy! Behave yourself! You’re not supposed to be awake right now anyway!” Sandy’s mom said sharply.

“But Santa…” Sandy’s voice broke off. ”Did you kill him?”  

“No, no! Sweetie, darling, we would never do that. No, Santa is fine. We were just… um… helping him… ‘cause he is so busy tonight!” Sandy’s mom said tenderly, and her dad nodded along. Rick, who was staying up late and was listening at the door, broke into hysterical laughter.

Sandy’s bottom lip trembled, and then — “WAAAAAA!!! Santa’s gone!”  

“No, dearest, Santa’s not… Sandy! Please! You’re going to wake the neighbors! Rick! Help us here would you? Comfort your sister before she wakes the whole neighborhood!”

Rick groaned and opened the door. Sandy stopped crying when she saw him. “Where’s Santa?” she shouted.

Rick opened his mouth to speak and then closed it. “Look, Sandy, what is the most important thing to you about Christmas?”  

“Presents!”

“Right, well either way on Christmas, Santa doesn’t guarantee you will always get presents, right? Besides, it was never proven that he is um…”

Rick…” Sandy’s mom warned.

“But she’s got to know!” Rick protested.

“KNOW WHAT?!” Sandy shouted.

“Look, Sandy, Santa doesn’t make up Christmas or presents on Christmas Eve — family does.”

“Really?” Sandy asked, cocking her head to the side.

“Yeah,” Rick continued, “but you see, Christmas is about family more than Santa, ‘cause well, you see, sis…” Rick took a deep breath. “Santa isn’t real.”

For a few moments of solidifying silence, Sandy just blinked, and then… she fainted.

Well, Sandy sure did learn the hard way, but in the end, she was able to find out about the true wonders of Christmas. What she learned actually helped her enjoy the holiday more with family and friends. (Just don’t tell her that we wrote this story about her experience.)

 

THE END

P.S. from Rick: Well, that was a pretty amusing day!

 

A Conversation

Once upon a time, ther–

“Hey! Stop narrating. I can hear you.”

As I was sayi–

“I said STOP!”

Onceuponatime,therewasashee–

“No one knows what you are saying.”

I am trying to narrate here.

“And I’m trying to stop you.”

Just igno–

“Don’t ignore me!”

It’s impossible to ignore yo–

“Good!”

Can I narrate now?

“Obviously….”

Good!

“Not. :)”

What!!!

“It’s true. At least, you can’t narrate on your own.”

What’s that supposed to mean?

“I’m going to narrate with you. Duh.”

Do you even know how?

“Of course I do. I just need to check the handbook…”

Let’s just start already.

“Yay!”

Once upon a time, there was a sheep —

“His name was Bob!”

No! That’s not in the script!

“Bleh. Who cares about a script and its lines?”

I do!

“La, la, la. I can’t hear you.”

Yes, you can!

“Let’s just get on with the story already.”

Bob the sheep loved to eat grass.

“This is boring.”

No! You just don’t appreciate the finer arts of storytelling and narrating.

“I quit!!!”

Finally!

Bob ate and at-

“And you don’t get to narrate anymore! HA HA HA HA HA!”

Why?!?!

“I’m not telling you!!”

What?

“No. This story is over. No, complaints.”

Bu–

“No, buts. This story is done.”

 

Haikus

   

U.S.A

It’s red, white and blue

These are the colors of us

Colors of our flag

 

The colors of us

They will always stand by me

It is unity

 

You united us

I stand with the U.S.A.

You have made us one

 

Spring

Love and flowers bloom

Big tall trees and babies cry

Luscious grass grows high

 

Beauty from within

Babies to elders live long

This poem has gone

 

Music

Singing melodies

Beautiful notes and good songs

Let me hear them sing

 

Beautiful music

Notes and singing in the air

Sneaking through the song

 

Let the music flow

Flowing like a river runs

Let them hear the beat

 

Ignored

Rain pounded on the windows. Lightening flashed. Kara sat by the windowsill. Tears slid down her face. Her heart raced. Where was her dad? Then, she felt her phone buzz in her denim pocket. Kara took her phone out only to find her dad calling. Of course. Never here.

She answered.

“Darling, are you okay? I’ve been held up at the police station; there was a robbery,” said her dad.

Kara stifled a sigh. He was never there. She knew ever since her mother died he had been trying his best, but of course there was a problem. Money.  

“Yes, don’t worry. I’m fine,” Kara replied.

“Great. If there are any problems, call me. Also, stay away from the windows. This storm has just turned into a hurricane. Be careful. I love you. Bye.”

“Bye,” she muttered.

There was a problem. They both knew it. The one thing Kara wanted most. Her dad home. His comforting voice and reassuring comments. However, Kara ignored his warning and still sat near the window.

New York City was lovely at night. The view was stunning.

No sirens.

No shouting.

Only peace.

Suddenly, Kara heard a crack. She looked around the room to see if there was a leak. With her back turned, the window broke, shattering sharp, jagged pieces of glass all over Kara. She fell to the floor in pain.

“Help,” hollered Kara, “Someone, help me. Please.”

 

The Next Day – 11:00 pm

“Vanilla or chocolate pudding?”

“Chocolate, please.”

“Coming right up. If there is any way for me to be of more assistance, let me know. The doctor, Dr. Perkins, will come in again to check on you. For now, just relax,” said the red-haired nurse.

Kara lay in an uncomfortable bed. Tubes were in her arms, full of blood. Her hand and leg were in a cast. She absolutely hated the hospital. Ever since her mother died from trusting her life in a doctor’s hand, she’s been terrified. Her mother had had a heart attack, and the doctors tried everything but couldn’t save her. How she missed her mother. Someone she could always rely on to be there for her.   

From last night, the only thing Kara remembered was sitting near the window, and then, all of a sudden, she ended up in the hospital.

Suddenly, her eyes rolled to the back of her head, and she started shaking uncontrollably.

“Stabilize her!” someone yelled.

“Check her heart beat.”

“Dr. Perkins. Her heart beat-”

BEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPP.

BEEP. BEEEEP. BEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPPPP.

“NO! We lost her,” said Dr. Perkins. “Does she have any family members?”

“Yes, Doctor, but he has recently been taken hostage with a couple of other police men.”

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.    

“This is a miracle!” Dr. Perkins cried out.

“Dad. Dad.” Kara muttered. “Where is he?”

“Honey, please just rest.” Dr. Perkins said.

Kara felt a needle go into her skin. Then, the world went black.

 

2:00 am

Everything hurt. The pain was unbearable. Kara attempted to stand up but fell to her knees.

“Have to find Dad,” she groaned

Clutching her stomach, Kara crawled over to the metal door. She stretched her hand up and grabbed the handle.

Click.

As soon as the door was the slightest bit open, alarms sounded. People flooded into the hall. Eyes stared at her.

“Umm… hi.” Kara said.

Think Kara. Make up an excuse.

Then it hit her.

“I have to umm… use the restroom.” She said.

“Oh,” said the red-haired nurse she had seen earlier. “Get in the wheelchair.”

“Okay.”

While she was being escorted to the restroom, thoughts stirred in her head.

Think of a plan. What if there is a window? No. Maybe I could escape by–? No. Not good enough. Uggh!!! What to do. Wait, what if I just asked the nurse where he is? I should have thought of this earlier. So simple.

“Excuse me. I never caught your name,” said Kara.

“It’s Jenelle,” said the red-haired nurse.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Kara.”

“I know,” Jenelle said coldly. “I also know your dad, Officer Zamora.”

“Oh. Speaking of my father, do you know where he is?

“Ha. Don’t worry, honey. He couldn’t make it. Held up at work.”

Jenelle definitely hit a sore spot. Kara scowled at the mention of the fact that her dad couldn’t come.

“Nevermind,” Kara uttered.

“Now, hurry up,” snapped Jenelle.

Ring ring.

Jenelle took out her phone and glared at Kara. It was a glare that meant: Com’n. I don’t have all day. Don’t you think I have better things to do?

Kara stood up and swung open the bathroom door. When she was inside, she pressed her ear against the flimsy door.  

“She doesn’t suspect a thing about her dad,” said Jenelle into phone.

“Good, we don’t want her to find out that her dad has gone missing. We don’t need more problems. A missing father and angry daughter,” sneered a muffled voice.

“I know. However, there is a problem: I don’t know how to talk to the daughter of the man I dated in college. It’s really awkward. She is a spitting image of her mother, and it only brings back bad memories,” said Jenelle.

“Don’t worry. By the end of the day, everything will be figured out, I hope.”

Kara started to bubble with anger. She threw open the door and yelled, “What about my dad? Tell me. Now.”

“Were you eavesdropping? How much did you hear?” Jenelle questioned as her cheeks turned a vibrant red.  

“Who cares?”

“I do or I wouldn’t be asking.”

“Ugh. Don’t lie. What happened to my dad? I want the whole story. Also about you and my da — Never mind. Also, if you lie I will know because… YES, I was eavesdropping.”

“Okay, okay. Your dad was at the police station, and then the power went out. In a few minutes the lights came back on; however, your dad and two other policemen had gone missing. They searched everywhere, but with still no luck. Later that night, they found a note. It said:

If you wish your officers alive, deliver 10,000 dollars at the south end of the pier by thursday at 10 pm.

Okay, now you are all caught up.”

“Thank you. When did they receive this note?”

“Two days ago.”

“So on Monday. The day of the hurricane. My dad warned me to –. Never mind. That gives us until tomorrow,” said Kara, flustered by all the information.

“What do you mean by us? I gave you the information, I’m done,” responded Jenelle.

“Oh. Well, then I need one more favor.”

“What?” groaned Jenelle.

“I need you to come down with me to the pier and watch while I give them the money.”

“Say what? First of all, you don’t have that money. Second of all, it’s super dangerous. Third of all, you’re injured. Fourth of all, you have to be released by the hospital. In other words, you can’t leave. Would you like me to go on?”

“No thanks. I know it sounds silly, but trust me. Don’t worry about my injury. With a little Advil, I’ll be fine. But you have a point about the whole hospital thing.”

“I know. So forget the whole thing. Now, just let the adults handle the problem,” replied Jenelle with a worried expression.

“Yeah… no. I need you to lie for me and make sure the doctor releases me from the hospital,” responded Kara

“Say what? No. Just forget it.”

“Please… with a cherry on top.”

“Okay. Fine.”

“Thank you. Thank you.”

“Whatever. Just hide in a stall in the bathroom. I should be back in five to ten minutes.”

Jenelle left the hallway and then entered a room.

She approached Dr. Perkins and said, “Hi. Sorry to interrupt. I was talking to Kara. The girl with the injured hand and leg. She almost died.”

“Oh yeah. I remember. What about her?” Dr. Perkins asked.

“She has requested to leave the hospital and go home. I know that’s not normally allowed, but she’s probably really homesick and worried about her dad, Officer Zamora, a policeman. I will happily volunteer to take care of her.”

“Okay. You are the top nurse. I will send you with some supplies. Give me a second.”

“I hate policemen,” muttered Dr. Perkins as he dove behind the marble counter and reappeared with a large black bag.

“What?” Asked Jenelle.

“Nothing. Inside this bag are the supplies you need to take care of her. Also, her phone and clothes are in here,” said Dr. Perkins.

“Thank you. She will appreciate it.”

Jenelle left the room and made her way into the restroom.

“Kara? It’s done. You can come out now. I’m taking you home. I’m going to take of you.”

A stall door creaked open and Kara came out.

“Thank you so much Jenelle.”

“You’re welcome. Now, let’s go.”

“Okay.”

As they walked home, Kara asked, “Are you in?”

“In what?”

“The plan to rescue my father and the other policemen. All you have to do is watch.”

“I can’t believe I’m saying this, but fine. I’ll go with you,” Jenelle said with a slight smile, as a memory came back to her. She, Mark (Kara’s dad), and Violet (Kara’s mom) succuried back to their dorm rooms. They had snuck out past curfew to get an actually decent meal because the cafeteria food was awful and disgusting.

“Great. We will leave the house at 6:00 pm,” interrupted Kara.

“Okay,” muttered Jenelle

Kara grinned as a plan began to unfold in her head.

 

Thursday – 5:00 pm

Today was the day that Kara’s dad could be saved or killed. First, she had to tell Jenelle the plan.

“Okay, I filled this bag with junk.” Kara said holding a up a small black duffle bag. “No money at all inside. I have a kitchen knife and a pair of handcuffs in my backpack just incase. Also here are some binoculars for you to keep watch. Now let’s get going. Wait, I need food for the hostages. Okay, now we can go.”

“Thank you. We can do this, Kara,” smiled Jenelle for the first time. “I know you can.”

They walked through Central Park. It was beautiful, surrounded by so much green. Some people walked their dogs. Others exercised. Kara took this time to think.

What would she do when they arrived at the pier? Would the hostages even be released at all? What if her dad was already dead. Stop thinking negative Kara. What if I fail?

“Kara. Kara. KARA!!!” screamed Jenelle.

“Umm… yes,” she said coming out of her trance and almost walking into a trash can.

“We’re here.”

“Oh, great. Okay. See that bush over there,” Kara pointed out, “I need you to hide there. I’ll leave the bag of money and stay there waiting until this mysterious person shows up. If anything bad happens and I get caught, alert the authorities. Got it?”

“Got it.”

“Let’s go.”

Jenelle headed toward a bush and crouched down. Thoughts swirled in her head.

Why was she even doing this? She got nothing out of it. Her life could be at stake right now.   

Kara headed towards a wooden bench and dropped the bag of “money” on the bench. She waited. Then, a hand covered her mouth and dragged Kara away. Jenelle was in shock for a second, and then, she immediately called 911. Suddenly, Jenelle felt like she had to follow the person who kidnapped Kara. She creeped out of the bush she was hiding behind and began down the pier in the direction where the person carried Kara off. Jenelle approached a broken down shack where she heard muffled cries  

She knocked on the wooden door and said, “Excuse me. I’m umm… lost.”

“What?” someone said inside.

“Um. Can I come in, please?”

“No. Go away,” grumbled someone.

“Open up,” Jenelle growled, “Now.”

“Got to go.”

“Fine, I’ll leave.”

Jenelle counted to three. 1… 2… 3. She kicked the door open and grinned.

“I’m coming Kara,” whispered Jenelle.

She tiptoed downstairs and found Kara with her dad and the other policemen. Blood dripped down Mark’s (Kara’s dad) face. Rope bound their hands and feet. She spotted Kara’s backpack, which she grabbed. Then Jenelle took out the kitchen knife and began cutting at the rope. First, she freed Kara but was then attacked. She wrestled herself away from the person. Kara jumped up, and kicked, and punched as Jenelle freed her dad. He stood up shakily and joined the fight. Soon, the other policemen were free. The person was out numbered. Then, they unmasked him. It was Dr. Perkins.

“It was you all along. Why did you do this?” said Jenelle.

“I wanted revenge,” Dr. Perkins sneered.

“Why?”

“I hate policemen. That’s why my father is in jail,” said Dr. Perkins.

“But, he did a bad thing,”

“He was my father and my only family. My mother died right after giving birth to me. My father had to steal for us just to survive. I don’t even know why I’m telling you this. Whatever.”

“Dad,” Kara cried, “I missed you. Also, there is a pair of handcuffs in my bag. Could you get them please?”

“That’s my prepared girl.”

He grabbed the handcuffs and put them on Dr. Perkins.

“You are under arrest,” Mark announced.

“Are you even a real doctor?” Jenelle asked.

“No.” said Dr. Perkins.

“Arggh,” responded Jenelle.

“Hi Jenelle. How are you?” Mark asked, surprised.

“Good. I haven’t seen you in a long time Mark.”

They smiled at each other as if the past didn’t matter anymore.

Kara wrapped her arms around her dad.

“I thought you were gone,” Kara said.

“It’s okay. Now don’t worry,” her dad replied. “Everything is alright now.”

Kara knew she would have to sort things out with her dad, but for now… everything was perfect.

 

The End

 

The Prophecy

Introduction:

Once, in the harsh, sandy Gobi Desert, there lived a ten-year-old girl named Caterina. She was very adventurous and reckless. She lived in a bamboo house with her mother, father, and five older sisters, who were doctors and who got perfect scores on their SAT’s. Caterina’s hobby was digging for gold. The Chinese currency was Bao-Bao, which is shells, so the gold didn’t have any use. Caterina’s mother Priscilla complained that she didn’t put enough effort towards her school work and would go to a community college, which is the worst college to go to. But Caterina knew she was just plain ungifted at schoolwork, and she would have to do something excellent, such as being first chair at All China Band and Orchestra, so that a good college would accept her.

 

Caterina

I awoke to the sounds of screeching, hollering, and cries of pain. For a second, I thought the cruel Lord Mao, the so-called Devil, had come to punish us. But when I looked out the window, I saw barbarians. Thousands of them were on the horizon! I had to warn the village before it was too late! I hopped on my horse, Meadow, put my tabby cat, Mr. Furry-Paws, in a basket, and told my family to hide in the underground shelter.

Then, I hit the temple gong, hollering, “The barbarians are coming! Hide, run, or die!” I sped back to my house and hid just in time, as I heard barbarians storm into our house. I also heard the sound of lighting torches and the crackling of the fire. Normally, I would be comfortable with the reassuring fire, but now, all it did was make me feel like getting revenge on the cold-hearted barbarians.

 

Mr. Furry-Paws

I do not like this moment. Not. One. Single. Bit. First of all, Caterina is covering my mouth because she thinks I will start meowing and the barbarians will discover us. Honestly, I am not so absent-minded as to meow right now. Also, I can’t imagine how the barbarians would hear my meows with all this commotion going on anyway. We hide silently for about two hours. Then, when we don’t hear anything, we take a peek out. There is nothing but destroyed furniture and fire. We get out of the underground shelter, stretch ourselves, and gather bamboo to make a new house. By the time we finish the house, the sky is dark. Caterina’s father catches a fish, fries it for ten minutes over a fire, and we eat a quick dinner. We say our prayers and fall asleep.

 

Caterina

I hate those cursed barbarians even more. All I dream of are barbarians riding on short, speedy horses. But all of a sudden, I hear a mysterious voice ringing in my head.

Five shall go out in the night,

And give those barbarians a mighty fright,

Torch their sheepskin yurts,

And make sure they get some hurts.

I can’t sleep for the rest of the night.

 

Mr. Furry-Paws

I don’t know what is up with Caterina. It seems like something is troubling her.

Out of the blue, I ask her, “What is troubling you?”

I have no idea how I just talked, but anyway, Caterina, a little surprised, replies, “It was last night. A mysterious voice in my head was telling me that five should ambush the Mongolians at night, with torches to set their yurts on fire. I guess you are coming with me, now that you can talk.”

“Then what are we waiting for? Let’s think; who else should come with us?’’ I wonder aloud.

“Definitely my best friends, Lux and Nandini. Also, I think we need a boy. How about the general’s son, Takumi? Yep, that’s it. Come on, let’s get started!” Caterina replies.

We ride on Meadow to Lux’s house. It is made of slate. I like it. Caterina tells Lux about the mysterious voice. Then, Lux gets her horse, Amber, and we ride to the Military Academy where Takumi probably is training. This time, before anyone else can open their mouths, I do the talking. I explain the mysterious voice to Takumi. Everyone in the room looks at me in awe. But Takumi seems to realize. He gets his sword; gets some sticks, flint, and steel for torches; gets on his charcoal-colored horse, Ming-Li, which means “swift ashes” and we go to our last stop: Nandini’s house.

 

Lux

Honestly, I am actually nervous. I know that if we succeed on our mission, we will be famous, but still, if we fail, we won’t be famous, and my parents will mourn me! We dismount our horses and explain the mysterious voice in Caterina’s head to Nandini. Nandini looks a bit concerned, but she gets her horse, Daylight, out of her family’s stall. She goes in her house to get something. It looks like a clock.

“Don’t forget a compass!” She says. Then, when looking at our confused faces she explained, “A compass is a tool used for finding the right direction. We should head in the direction pointing to the N because Mongolia is north of China.” Then, we speed to the direction of Mongolia, following Nandini because she has the compass.

 

Takumi

As we are riding, I see a light a few acres away.

I yell, “Stop!” I tell everyone in our group that the Mongolian camps are getting near. We have to be very quiet so we don’t get caught. We carefully set the yurts on fire. Then, we slip away. Apparently, we aren’t so quiet because five Mongolians are chasing us, right on our tail! I grab my metal spikes and throw them on the ground. The Mongolian horses cry in pain and throw the Mongolians off their backs into the Yellow River. Just as we think we are done with the Mongolians, there is one Mongolian left: Genghis Khan himself!

Mr. Furry-Paws says, “Guys! Don’t let him chase us! Surround him!” Mr. Furry-Paws is speaking Chinese, so not only do we have an advantage — that Genghis Khan is stunned because he saw a strange thing with pointy ears and whiskers for the first time in his life — but Mr. Furry-Paws is speaking Chinese so Genghis Khan doesn’t have a clue of what he is saying. We all make a circle around Genghis Khan and point our swords at his neck. Before we can do anything, he disappears in a flash of green light. We are very stunned. How can somebody, even a general, disappear like that? I guess if a cat can talk, a general can disappear in green light!

“I think we should go back home,” I say.  Everyone else nods in agreement. We speed like the wind back to our village.

 

Nandini

In the morning, we go to the temple and hit the gong. When everybody comes, we explain what happened. Fortunately, they believe us. They even celebrate our success with a feast! There are gold and red dragons flying and even the Emperor of China comes!

“Caterina, I am so proud of you. The Beijing College is interested in you,” says Caterina’s mother. Even Mr. Furry-Paws gets a Nobel Prize for the wittiest cat! We are famous, and the writers are writing stories about us because someday, we will be in history! We have no clue where Genghis Khan is right now, but the Emperor has sent military troops to Mongolia to find him. Also, military troops are guarding the borders of China so that these catastrophes don’t happen again. So far, we are pretty safe from those runty barbarians!

 

The Mysterious Tree

CHAPTER ONE: The Tree

Lilly and Anthony were twins who slept in the same room, and every night, their father would tell them a special story about the mysterious tree before they went to sleep. This is how it went:

One summer day in New York City, one boy and his neighbor were practicing for a baseball game they had tomorrow. They were both 12 years old and were best friends for all of their lives. One boy named Daniel, who was the pitcher on his baseball team, was playing with Nathan, who was the first baseman on the team. There were dogs and cats playing, cars honking, and everyone was having a great time. Daniel threw a curveball at Nathan, who then blasted a home-run.

Daniel yelled at Nathan, “Nice hit!”

The baseball rolled and rolled until it hit this small golden rock. This rock rolled down the hill until it reached a tree. There was a small hole at the bottom of the tree, and the rock rolled in. The boys crawled into the inside of the tree, never to be seen again. Some say the tree is just fake, and there is just a hole under the tree where victims fall in, but some say the boys are still in the tree today. Personally, I think the tree is magical. Many daring people have tried to go in the tree, but none of them have returned. Today, there are security guards stopping people from going into the tree.

“Good night, Lilly. Good night, Anthony.”

Lilly and Anthony both were fake sleeping but right when their father stepped out of the door, they got up and planned and planned all night. They always wanted to go inside the tree, but now they were old enough. They planned to get inside the tree and see what was actually in the tree.

 

CHAPTER TWO: The Portal

The next morning, Lilly and Anthony heard their father coming upstairs, and they raced to their beds to pretend like they were sleeping all night.

“Good morning, Lilly. Good morning, Anthony.”

“Good morning, Dad.”

“Wake up. You have to go to school. Make your own breakfast because I have to go. I have a meeting in an hour, and it is in New Jersey. Walk to school by yourself today.”

Lilly and Anthony’s dad told his children that he was a busy, but successful, businessman who had little time with his children because he was so busy.

As soon as their dad went out the door, Anthony and Lilly wolfed down their breakfast and set off for their journey to the tree. There was no way they were going to school today because they needed to see this tree.

They arrived at the park, and they could see the tree and all the security guards in the distance. Since they planned overnight, they knew exactly what they were going to do. They were to climb the tree next to it and jump into the tree from above, since there was an opening at the top.

They were climbing and climbing, and, suddenly, a big chunk of the tree fell and made a loud boom. Luckily, none of the guards heard, except for one who turned around and saw nothing. The guard looked somewhat familiar.

Anthony whispered to Lilly, “Phew, that was close!” They jumped all the way to the tree and saw a glowing portal. Anthony and Lilly jumped in and…

 

CHAPTER THREE: No Going Back

Anthony and Lilly both said at the same time, “Where are we?”

They looked around and saw a rainbow, and waterfalls, and fruit trees. and flowers, and everything looked beautiful. But they looked around and saw people. However, there were two kids that first caught their eye. One was holding a ball, and one was holding a baseball bat. They were the boys that their father told them about. The boys that played baseball and hit the golden rock!

They looked around and saw some other random people. There were some old and clumsy people who must’ve fallen in the hole on accident. There were also some adventurous looking people. Lilly told Anthony about how their father said some other people also went into the tree and never returned. But the more they looked around, they realized that all of the people had frowns on their faces, and they were all looking down. They all looked so sad. Lilly and Anthony wondered why because this island looked wonderful to live on. They decided to go home and tell their father about this place and how it isn’t as bad as everyone thought. But there was one problem. They couldn’t. They looked around all over the island and asked everyone how to leave.

Everyone they asked said as if it were obvious, “We are all stuck. There is no possible way to leave.” They couldn’t find another portal to lead them back. They were stuck there forever! That’s why all of the people there were so sad.

“Dad where are you?” Lilly shouted, nervously. There was no answer.

Anthony then said, “I guess we’re stuck here for…”

Then, they heard something from a fruit tree behind them.

“I am mumble, mumble, here!” As they got closer to the tree, they could hear it more and more clear. “Anthony and Lilly, right here!”

 

CHAPTER FOUR: Thank You, Dad!

“I’ll explain,” their dad said. “I was the security guard who turned around when the bark fell when you guys were climbing the tree.” Anthony and Lilly were speechless.

“I thought you were a businessman!”

Their dad explained how he told them that so they wouldn’t be worried about him. “I saw you when I turned. However, I was curious to see what you guys were going to do. When I saw you jump in the tree, I was so surprised. But I care about you children, and I jumped in and tried to save you.”

Anthony and Lilly were so confused.

“Enough with that, let’s go home,” Lilly responded.

“We can’t!”

“What do you mean?” Anthony answered.

“Ummmm, there is no portal or door to lead us out.”

“Surely, we could make one.” So, they gathered all the sticks and fruit and flowers on the island, and they worked all day, and finally they made it.

Anthony yelled, “One, two, three, jump!” And they did.

 

CHAPTER FIVE : The Secret

The next thing they knew, they were back home. Lilly was so happy, and suddenly she had an idea.

“We could tell everyone and make millions. Also, we could save everyone who’s stuck.”

“NOOOO!” Anthony and his dad both yelled.

“Why not?”

“Because no one would ever believe us, and if you look out the window, the park added more guards covering the whole tree. There is no way to go back,” Anthony explained.

Then, their dad said, “It could be our family secret, and we will never ever tell anybody.” And they never did.

 

Friends Forever

       

CHARACTERS:

  1. SUN
  2. WIND
  3. RAIN
  4. LIGHTNING
  5. KING

 

Scene 1

In the Writopia Lab, in the little room with couches.

 

SUN

Hey, Wind!

 

WIND

(Rolling his eyes at SUN)

What, Sun!

 

SUN

I hear Rain’s gonna flood the area!

(SUN nudging WIND)

Think you can stop it?

 

WIND

Any time, Sun!

 

RAIN

(laughing and bragging)

Ha! Beat me!? My floods wreck the world! I might even start it right now!

 

WIND

What! This very instant! I’ve not prepared anything yet!

 

SUN

OOOoooo! Is wind… scared!

 

WIND

No.

(WIND shivering and trembling)

Just a little cold.

 

SUN

Really? Then, I’m the Sun! I’ll warm you! Or you should have been warm right next to me… Unless you were… no, Wind, scared!?

 

WIND

STOP IT!!!

 

WIND’S face is red, and he is breathing hard.

 

RAIN

(bragging)

Oooooo! The Great Wind! Can’t you fight me?

 

WIND

(comes up with idea)

No, I can’t.

(RAIN and SUN laughing)

But Sun, can you?

 

 

Scene 2

 

SUN

(SUN is frozen. SUN pauses)

Sure I can.

(SUN gets calmer)

Better than you, scaredy Wind!

 

WIND

(WIND frowns)

I’ll be working while you two have your great Sun vs. Rain battle.

 

WIND starts push ups. RAIN and SUN are making loud noises when they fight.

 

SUN

AAHHHHH!!!

(SUN gets struck by RAIN)

 

LIGHTNING

BOOM!!!

(LIGHTNING strikes away)

 

SUN

Hey!

(SUN pushes through the clouds)

I’m going to shine my way through your nasty storm!

 

WIND  

Need some help? I’ve been practicing!

 

SUN

(breathing hard)

No, thank you, but I got it under control!

(LIGHTNING strikes SUN)

Whooo!

 

WIND

Oh really?

 

WIND saves SUN from LIGHTNING

 

SUN

Well…

 

 

Scene 3

 

RAIN

(mockingly)

What, you now want to fight to protect poor, little Sun?

 

SUN

(face burning up)

NOOOOO!!!

 

LIGHTNING

Yea! We will crush you!!!

 

RAIN

Hey, Wind, shouldn’t  you be on our side?

 

LIGHTNING

Yea. Winds are in storms!

 

RAIN

Unless… you want to help your poor Sun?

 

WIND

Well…

(pauses)

why should I help you destroy Earth?

 

RAIN

No, no. We will take over Earth, ruling Earth and its subjects together forever!

 

LIGHTNING

But then wouldn’t Earth’s subjects be dead already from the damage we did?

 

RAIN

Shush, Lightning. You work for me now, remember?

(RAIN’S face burns.)

 

WIND

Yes, Lightning does work for you, I suppose… But on the other hand, she does make a point. Who exactly would we be ruling over?

 

RAIN

(furious)

THE WORLD, DUMMY!

 

LIGHTNING

(curious)

Who on the world?

 

RAIN

Who cares! The world is great!

(burning up)

 

SUN

(whispering to LIGHTNING)

Is she always like this?

 

LIGHTNING

Sometimes.

(pauses)

Only when she’s angered like right now.

 

WIND

(whispering to SUN and LIGHTNING)

I think we know  her secret!

 

 

Scene 4

 

SUN

Really? What!

 

LIGHTNING

You seem really eager.

 

SUN

I’ll get that Rain for what she did to me!

 

LIGHTNING

Oh, right.

(LIGHTNING looking down)

I’m sorry if I hurt you badly.

 

SUN

Oh, it’s fine. I’m okay, by the way.

 

WIND

Alright, guys, we need a plan! Lightning? Any info on this?

 

LIGHTNING

Umm? You basically got it.

 

SUN

Are you sure there is nothing else?

 

WIND

Okay, let’s not scare Lightning! He could strike at us at any moment!

 

SUN

Yea, but —

 

LIGHTNING

We should hurry before Rain turns into a mega storm!

 

SUN

So you do know something!

(SUN raises an eyebrow)

 

WIND

Yea, but what’s a storm without Wind and Lightning?

 

LIGHTNING

Gives a worried glance to WIND and then to SUN

You have not seen the worst of Rain, have you!?

 

SUN

(gulping)

NO!

 

RAIN

(WHOOSH!)

I will destroy Earth and everyone on it! And rule over EARTH once and for all!!!

 

WIND

But again, who is it you will be ruling over?

 

RAIN

Ugh!!! You again! Why won’t you just let me go on with my plans!

(RAIN gets idea)

Or you could just join me.

 

WIND

Uh, yea, no thanks. I work my own way.

 

RAIN

Oh really! We could be best buds, and I really need some help right about now. So? What do you say?

 

LIGHTNING whispers to WIND.

 

LIGHTNING

She is trying to trick you!

 

RAIN

Oh, don’t listen to her. Besides, why would I do that, hmm?

 

WIND

(WIND shakes her head)

I’m not falling for your trap!

 

SUN

Yea, Wind, don’t fall into any of her silly traps! You can beat them anyway!

 

RAIN

Eerr! I was so close! Come on!!

 

LIGHTNING

You’re not getting away with us that easily!

 

 

Scene 5

 

RAIN

How will you destroy me? You’re just a worthless gang of nothingness!!! Ha!

 

WIND

No, we’re not! Sun fought you!

 

SUN shrinks down.

 

RAIN

(mockingly)

Oh, are you gonna “shine your way through me?”

 

LIGHTNING

Hey!

(stepping in front of SUN)

Stop that!

 

SUN

(shivering)

Don’t worry.

(trembling)

I’m fine.

 

RAIN

OOOooooo! Sun’s feeling strong again! Come and fight me!

 

SUN

I would… but…

 

LIGHTNING

But you hurt him!

 

SUN

Hey! I feel as good as ever!

(mumbling)

I’ll get you when I have the chance!

 

WIND

This is getting us nowhere!

 

RAIN

Yea! Where’s the real fight?

 

WIND

I think we’re waiting for those to chatterboxes!

(pointing to SUN and LIGHTNING)

 

SUN

Hey! I can be quiet!

 

RAIN

(snapping)

Then do it, you dum dum!

 

LIGHTNING

(frowning)
Well shouldn’t we have sides?

Everyone has blank expressions on their faces.

 

Sides! You know, teams!

 

Everyone says, “Ohhh.”

 

WIND

But are we not already on teams? Were we not just planning on attacking Rain?

 

LIGHTNING

I think I’m doing this if anyone has mind changes.

 

SUN

Like you?

 

LIGHTNING

NO! I’m on your side now, okay!

 

RAIN

I can defeat all of you!

 

SUN

(mockingly)

What, with your storm? Where’s your Wind and Lightning!

 

LIGHTNING

You’re angering her!

 

SUN

(whispering to LIGHTNING)

I know. It’s all a trap, though!

 

WIND

(fighting SUN)

WHOOSH!

 

RAIN falls on her back.

 

Lightning! NOW!

 

Nodding, LIGHTNING strikes RAIN hard.

 

RAIN

AAAWWWWW!!!

 

LIGHTNING

Oh no, did I kill her!

 

LIGHTNING Looks at RAIN lying on floor. RAIN flings her body at LIGHTNING, and he pushes her away.

 

SUN

Hey!

(pausing)

I really was looking forward to Rain’s death!

 

WIND

Watch out!

 

RAIN jumps on SUN.

 

SUN

Ouch!

 

RAIN

That’s right!

 

RAIN storms closer to SUN’s flames.

 

Feel the pain I felt once!

 

LIGHTNING

(just getting back up)

What do you mean, “feel the pain I felt once?”

 

RAIN

Don’t you know?

 

Everyone shakes their head.

 

Well… an old friend of mine turned against me once… and we fought hard… but I lost… and it was so painful. So now, I will show my anger by my storms that will destroy Earth and take over!

 

RAIN extends her storm.

 

 

Scene 6

 

WIND

But you won’t be ruling over anything!

 

LIGHTNING

And why show your anger like this?

 

SUN

Yea, make up with your friend!

 

RAIN

I can’t. He sent me away and said he would only forgive me if I did this!

 

SUN

Your friend is CRAZY!

 

WIND

Well, your friend would be dead by the time you would be done with your work. Did you tell him that?

 

RAIN

Well…

 

WIND

Now, we will take you to your friend, and you can explain it, right?

 

RAIN

I guess…

 

SUN

(pushing RAIN)

Come on, let’s go!

 

Thirty minutes later.

 

WIND

We’re here!

 

LIGHTNING

WOW!

 

SUN:

(nudging RAIN)

Your friend’s got quite a place here!

 

RAIN

I know.

 

The walls were shining, and the floors sparkled, and RAIN’s friend was treated like a king.

 

WIND

Excuse me, sir, my friend would like to speak with you.

 

KING

(his voice is booming)

Who comes to my feet?

 

RAIN

Hello, my name is Rain.

 

KING

Rain!? Ha! You have returned, but you are NOT the ruler of the world, so bye!

 

RAIN

But, I must say something. If I took over the world with a storm, you would be dead! So I wouldn’t get my end of the bargain! Hmm?

 

KING

(bewildered)

Well… Umm… Guards!

 

SUN

Hey! What’d we do?

 

KING disappears.

 

LIGHTNING

(whispers to RAIN)

Does he always do that?

 

RAIN

(shrugging)

I suppose.

 

WIND

There are too many guards! What do we do?

 

SUN

We run, Dummy!

 

WIND

(looking at RAIN)

Where is King?

 

RAIN

I don’t know! He Just disappeared! Right there, then out of sight! Poof! Gone! I DON’T KNOW, OKAY!

 

SUN

Geez, she just wanted to know.

 

LIGHTNING

Guys, let’s just find King, alright!

 

KING whizzes past them.

 

RAIN

He’s there!

 

SUN

(flinging her head to RAIN)

Where!?

 

RAIN

You just missed him, he was right-

 

WIND

There!

 

LIGHTNING

I’ve got him cornered!

 

SUN

(pushing through)

Really? Where?

 

WIND

Okay, what are you hiding?

 

KING

Look, Rain, I’m sorry for what I did. I was just mocking you about it. I knew I would be dead. Please, forgive me.

 

RAIN

Of course I’ll forgive you.

 

Sun, Wind, Rain, Lightning, and King lived together. Happily together.

 

The Mysteries of Clara

Once, there was this fairy, and her name was Clara. She lived in a hollow tree, and she made her own house. She lived there with her brother, Jim. Clara and Jim lost their parents in a fairy train crash, and now, they had nobody to take care of them. They had nobody to fly them to fairy school, and nobody to tuck them into their bed made of plastic bags, and broken markers, and tin cans, and other garbage at night. They had no one to take them to the library under the bush, the one where the librarian made books from tiny pieces of paper. The library was where Clara wished she could go most. Her parents were supposed to take her, but they died the day before.

One day, Clara was playing tag, with a magical ball of light, with her friends, Alicia, Grace, and Ava. Then her friends stopped flying around.

“Who is this picture of?” Grace asked, pointing to a flipped over photo in a frame.

Clara’s eyes started to water.

“I don’t want to talk about it,” she said as she secretly wiped her tears.

Clara ran to the bathroom to wash her face, and the girls flipped the picture over.

When Clara came back, she cried, “What are you guys doing?”

“Nothing,” they replied at once.

But Clara knew that the picture had said, “R.I.P. Clara’s mom, Sophia, and dad, John, to be remembered.”

“I have to go get my mom a present to get her a little happy,” lied Grace.

But this was an excuse. She really wanted to go gossip about Clara’s family to everyone.

“My mom and I have to do some homework,” said Alicia. “I have to go.”

But she didn’t really have to do homework. It was just an excuse.

“I feel so sorry that your parents died,” whispered Ava.

Clara felt a tad better that Ava said that because Ava didn’t usually speak very much.

“You should tell Alicia and Grace’s moms what they did. I know that they will gossip to everyone.”

As Clara flew Ava home, she felt sad and left out. But she also felt a little happy not to talk to them because her friends were being bullies to her and looking at her secret, private stuff. She wasn’t sad when they had left.

Ava said to Clara, “It would be okay if you and Jim stayed over at my house for a while, until you go to an orphanage.”

Clara felt happy and got all of the stuff out of her mind. She felt brave and ready to stand up for herself.

They picked up Clara’s brother, Jim, and left the hollow tree that was their old home and went to an apartment in Ava’s magic tree, which was on the fifth floor. The wallpaper was sparkling like a silver diamond in the sky. The bathroom was shiny purple. There were shimmering, blue shells hanging from the ceiling. It was like walking into a rainbow. Clara loved it. Ava’s mom said they could live there and not go to the orphanage. Ava’s mom, Carina, was so nice, and she gave them fairy delicious ice cream with fairy dust sprinkles for dinner.

Then, right after she ate the ice cream with the fairy dust, she got a little tired. When she woke up, she was back outside of her treehouse. Maybe I went to the wrong house, thought Clara. Clara heard people talking inside the house. It sounded like her mom and dad. She looked in the window, and she saw them. It felt like her stomach was on a really, really fun roller coaster. All she wanted to do was open the door, but it was locked and her key didn’t work.

She tried knocking, but they didn’t hear her. Clara was confused.

“Mom! Dad!” she yelled through the crack of the door. “I’m over here!”

But they still didn’t hear her. She tried climbing through the window, but that didn’t work, either. Wait, she thought. Those are my parents, but they aren’t answering me. Why can’t they hear me? Clara started to cry. She shed big, star-shaped fairy tears and let out long wailing squeaks.

When Clara woke up in the morning, she was one year younger, eating breakfast with her parents. She was so surprised. This must be a dream, she thought. Are these fake people, or are these real people? Clara wondered.

She ran up to them and hugged them, and they hugged back! They weren’t holograms. She was so excited, she wanted to scream. Her mom smelled like pretty perfume.

“Oh my god!” Clara screamed. “I never even knew that.”

“Why are you hugging us?” asked her mother.

“We’ve been here the whole time,” laughed her father.

Clara kept pinching herself to see if this was just a dream.

“Ow!” she cried.

Clara knew that this was real because the pinches really hurt. Clara wanted to tell Ava that she saw her parents, but it was one year earlier, and she didn’t know Ava then. She couldn’t tell her because she ate the magic fairy dust that was in the fairy delicious ice cream that made her go back in time.

Finally, her wish came true to go to the library. She held on to her parents hands tightly, not ever wanting to let go.

 

THE END

 

The Squish

Chapter 1

Hi, I’m Rockstripe! I think that you shouldn’t be here because you don’t want to get into this battle, and because it’s very confusing, and you don’t want to know. But forget that, just listen to the story.

It was a cold night, and everybody was snuggled in their moss dens, and suddenly, the ocean made a loud CLANG! Cries of surprise filled the camp, then suddenly, the ocean pack came to war.

I jumped on the high rock and yelled, “Graysky, help!”

The ocean pack rolled into the clearing, and then I saw my friend, Skycloud, falling from a cliff while engaged in battle with an ocean pack. Skycloud was falling toward the rapid clang of the ocean.

I yelled, “Nofurs are gonna kill us with that spiky thing! Watch out, mouse brain!”

My friend caught a branch, but he slipped toward the green, oozing liquid. I jumped after him. I landed on the tree. The other warrior, I realized, was another apprentice because it was too tiny. I couldn’t believe what I was about to do. I jumped on the cliff, and I yelled down from where I was standing on top, “I’ll get help from the helping dog!”

Then, a ginormous warrior slammed into me. I kicked upward and sent him off the cliff, but I fell over too. I didn’t want to touch that green stuff. My friend rolled into the ocean. I didn’t want to touch that green stuff even more now. I caught a branch between my teeth. It snapped. But luckily, a wave came and slapped me upwards, and I managed to grab onto a cliff. I didn’t know where I was… I was in cave pack territory! I was gonna get killed. I had to move it so I could get back. I ran as fast as I could, and woah! I was hurdling toward the ocean. I skimmed the waves and sank. I swam furiously, and I was on a sandy beach.

Uh-oh! I was on the ocean pack camp. That was gonna get me in the most trouble! Foxdun! I thought, hmm I can jump on that cliff, and I’ll be back in my territory. But if I miss, I’ll die. I jumped, and I caught a cliff two feet above the one I meant to jump on, but I caught it with my ear instead of something that I could grab it with. I fell but onto the right ledge. I managed to jump up into the middle of the battle. Uh-oh! I jumped on top of… Oooops… extra oops! I jumped on top of Oceansky, the ocean packleader. She looked so startled that she jumped. She fell over the side, knocking me to the ground.

Then the battle was over. I couldn’t see anything. Then I thought, wait, Oceansky left… what’s this? It was green… the liquid. Uh-oh, I know what this is. It was the two-legged Whatchamacallit. Oh, I remember. They called it cereal milk? I knew this wasn’t good. If it was green, it must be rotten… A lot. I didn’t know what to do, so I decided to bring it to the leader, Raysky. She would know what to do, but she didn’t know what patrols to send out to the camp. She really needed someone to tell her that she needs to protect us.

Wow, my ear hurts. And my foreleg. Then, I saw the impossible.

In front of me, I heard the helping dog, Cloudedsun, say, “You need spider webs.”

I thought, wait, what? We don’t have spider webs around here. Then, I realized the helping dog had green liquid in her ears. She probably didn’t know what was going on. I was freaking out. This green liquid was doing weird things to dogs. We needed to get rid of it, now! Then, Raysky came stumbling out of her rock den with green liquid in her eyes.

She stumbled into a rock and said, “I can’t see! I can’t see!”

I didn’t know what to do. Our helping dog was deaf, our leader was blind, what do we do?! I looked around and saw more dead dogs than there should’ve been. I realized we needed to get this out fast. How were we going to do this? If we didn’t know of anything to do, what would we do? I didn’t even know what I was saying. Then, I saw a sprawled body at the bottom of the cliff. I raced to the bottom of the cliff and saw… My friend, Sunmoon! He was covered in the green liquid, and it was dripping from his mouth. I looked to see if he was breathing. He wasn’t. He was dead. I didn’t want to touch him and get that green liquid on me. I decided to call the deputy and the three senior warriors because they would know what to do. I was only a new warrior. I couldn’t do anything major. Then, I saw a two-legged trap. I didn’t know what it was though. I didn’t know what to do. I stepped in, and when I opened my eyes again, I was in a cage. Next to me, I saw my apprentice.

I yelled, “Circlepaw!”

 

Chapter 2

Then, I saw a huge hand. It had no fur or no pads. It had two-legged hands! I squirmed to the back of my cage and hissed. The two-legged quickly brought back their hand, and there was a small, white thing where the two-legged had their hand. I was suspicious. I saw my apprentice licking it, and then he fell. I didn’t know what was happening, so I did the natural thing. I bit the cage. It was made out of rope, and that was what the two-legged called it. It looked like a butterfly cage, like a cocoon. When I bit the cage, it easily gave way. I sprung out into the air. I was falling into an open air. It was all black around me. I saw a small shape. It was creepy, I didn’t see anything familiar. I thought, wait… this isn’t good. Then I saw a tree. I landed with half of my head sticking out of the tree and my body splayed over the tree. I hobbled to the bottom and ran up some cliffs and found my camp, surprisingly, untouched.

Except, there was only one dog there other than me. This dog was an ocean pack dog. This dog was called Linebug. I jumped and rolled and bit until the dog left. Then I looked around for everybody. I smelled a scent. I followed the scent of my pack to a sheltered cage in the middle of an island, in a little stream.

I yelled, “Well, you can come back now! I drove the scary dog out. What are you all so afraid of?”

I knew the senior warrior, Ladydog. I didn’t think Ladydog would stop, then I saw an unmoving body, and I froze. It wasn’t Ladydog, if that’s what you think. It was an unfamiliar dog, and Ladydog was crouching over it. I didn’t think it was gonna harm us, but then, its nose knocked Ladydog backwards. It roared, and I realized it wasn’t a dog. It was a lion!

We ran.

And I yelled, “Avoid traps and green bottles!”

When we got back to the camp, there were only three dogs left. This was not good, and I did not know what to do.

Narrator talking now! On that happy note, we’ll transfer to the ocean pack and see what’s happening there!

 

Chapter 3

Hi! I’m Oceanfly. Now, so you know, we were having a tiny bit of trouble with fishing. Particularly, one apprentice’s fish. In particular, my apprentice’s fish, so it was my fault. Well it all started when my apprentice came running over to me saying, “I caught six fish!”

“Let’s add them to the fresh kill pile,” I said.

And I knew that something was wrong also, but I didn’t think so. I was happy for apprentice. Then, it came time for meals. I picked a squirrel, not wanting to test my apprentice’s fish. The elders came rolling into the clearing with green eyes. I knew they’d had four of the six fish. Then, two more dogs. I saw the leader and the deputy came rolling into the clearing with green eyes. I knew that our pack had problems. I needed help from our helping dog, Butterdog, who started life as dogy dog. I needed to! Because I was senior warrior, and I didn’t want to lead the clan. It was too big of a responsibility for a dog with only ten moons. One moon is one month. I knew I had to do something. I was scared. Then came the attack from cliff pack, who could jump down cliffs, land on their backs, and not break any bones- and jump up thirty feet cliffs and land at the top! That was good for them, but bad for us. The biggest tabby warrior, I realized, the deputy, I side-stepped and jumped. He kicked over, and I couldn’t see! I was covered by fur. The next thing I saw was that I was lying in a mossy nest, next to an empty place that smelled like sickness. The elders’ den. It was usually the medicine dog’s den, but it was used as the elders’ den when there wasn’t a medicine dog. Where was the medicine dog? Where was Darkenedmoon?

“We need help! We got attacked by cliff clan!” I yelled.

Then Lightpaw came running into the den.

“I’m an apprentice medicine dog! Maybe I can help.”

Then Blackear said, “You can’t help us! My ear is torn, and you can’t fix that!”

Then Whiteear said, “My brother’s right! You can’t fix my twisted ears!”

Blackface yelled, “My jaw is broken, you can’t fix that!”

By then, Lightpaw had hurried out the door and came back with a bundle of herbs. Lightpaw ran into the den and walked over to Blackear. She carefully put daffodil for soreness and spider webs for bleeding into a bracken nest and carried them to her den.

“Do you need help, Whiteear?” she asked.

I said, “I need a little help! I got thrown, and my eyes aren’t working!”

My eyes stung. Quickly, I got a poppyseed and fell asleep. When I woke, I didn’t know where I was. Then I thought I saw a shimmering image. Then a dog appeared in front of me. This dog had a white face with black fur all around their face.

I didn’t know who she was until she said, “I’m Whiteface, the founder of Ocean clan. I bring a warning. The green bottle is your biggest problem, but you want to watch out for other things too. I can’t tell you because you’ll have to find out for yourself. I’m pushing it by telling you that much.”
I said, “But what green bottle? I didn’t see a green bottle in our territory, but I did see a green liquid oozing into the ocean yesterday when I was on rock pack patrol. It didn’t do anything. In fact, an apprentice licked it, and she was perfectly fine.”

The warrior ran through this weird forest with branches so low to the ground that they were lower than my feet. I chased after Whiteface. A branch snapped me upward. I couldn’t feel anything. I was flying through the air, and then I woke with a start. Suddenly at my feet, I saw branches, and I saw Lightpaw. Lightpaw was quivering. I ran over to her.

Lightpaw said, “I got a prophecy from sky pack.”

“What is it?” I said.

Before peace, green will ooze, and silver will gleam in a bad place, not a dream,” Lightpaw said.

“We have to double the patrols! I’ll go on one on the cliff pack territory to make sure they stay in their territory.”

A few minutes later, I was running on the side of the cliff pack border, when a dog came plummeting down. It was cliff pack.

“It will kill you,” said Blackeye.

I leapt off the ground, and the dog hit the floor. I didn’t recognize this dog. It was black and white with a brown face. It was thin with thin, straw like fur. It looked very old. But still, when it jumped at me, I fell to the ground, and the world went black.

 

Chapter 4

Hi, I’m Clifffall! When our hostage came into camp, I examined her. I guessed she could make a good warrior if we taught her properly, although maybe she would kill herself while learning. I heard the crunching of leaves, and I thought it was intruders. I was going to jump. I was just flying through mid-air, off a 30-foot cliff, and it was perfectly normal. Ahhhhh! Squish. This was squishy. It was sticky, too. And my paws were dirty– what’s this? Ahh, I can’t get this thing off me! It’s annoying!

“Help!”

I didn’t know what this sticky thing was, but it was really getting on my nerves. I mean, really. I was just gonna jump up this 30-foot cliff, and it was perfectly normal. Oh, what about that hostage? I wondered if she summoned help by now. Oops, I better go make sure I’m on guard. What was this sticky thing? It was so annoying. Mmmm, it tastes good. Squishy? Tasty? Hmmm… food? I shot up through the air and landed on top, and it was perfectly normal, except for one problem. I landed on my head.

I got up and said, “That’s perfectly normal.”

Then, Oceanfly came bolting out of the camp and jumped on me. We fell off the cliff. That was NOT perfectly normal!

Then, we fell on something new. It was water! And a plastic thing… what was this? My paws were wet. This was NOT perfectly normal! We rolled and rolled and rolled and rolled and rolled until we– “mooooooo!”

“It’s a cow!”

“What’s a cow?”

We were arguing about what a cow was until– “oink!”

“It’s a pig!” I said.

Oceanfly said, “What’s a pig?”

Then, squish!

“It’s a sandwich!” Oceanfly said.

I said, “Ahhh! Scary! It’s a witch made out of sand!”

I ran across the plain. I was being very smart. Yeah, right. That’s my friendly enemy that decided to invade our camp, Oceanfly. Gotta go! See you next time!

 

Chapter 5

“Hi, I’m Caverock! Don’t call me Cavey, I’m not going to deal with you right now.”

Sorry about that, that was Caverock. He’s a little mean when he’s on guard duty. Once he nipped my ear because he didn’t know I was coming. Why does Cavesky put him on guard duty? It’s annoying.

I’m Cavefinder. I got the name because I found our place here. So, let me tell you what happened when our problems started. They happened about cows. One day I was out on patrol on the Rock Pack border. Then, I heard– “mooooooooooooooo!”

“The Cows!” Nocave screamed and ran.

That was very helpful…

 

The Pumpkin Stories

STORY ONE

PROLOGUE  

Once upon a time, there was a hill. Through summer, winter, and spring, it was an ordinary hill, but in the fall, pumpkins dug themselves out of the dirt and lived on the sides. When they did this, it was called Pumpkin City. A sport played by the pumpkins was to roll down the hill. However, the pumpkins could not roll from the top of the hill because there stood a great, big willow tree.

The willow tree loved to squeeze pumpkins to their deaths. So it was natural that the pumpkins would not go to the top of the hill. Until…

 

CHAPTER ONE

One fine morning, Joe Bob was looking at the top of the hill, longingly.

“I wish I could go up there and roll down that hill,” he whispered to Stan Fluff, his best friend.

“You can wish all you want,” replied Stan, “but that tree is not going anywhere.”

“IT IS SO INCONVENIENT!” yelled Joe. “Why does he have to guard the top of the hill 24/7 and whenever… ”

He did not have time to finish. For, at that moment:

“LEAVE THE HILL NOW, AND NO HARM WILL COME TO YOU!”

“What?” asked Joe.

He saw at the bottom of the hill stood millions of trees. The trees were assembled in straight lines. Each one of the trees had a shovel.

“I wonder what they are doing.” said Stan.

“I have no idea.”

“If you do not leave in five hours, we will plant ourselves”.

 

CHAPTER TWO

Joe and Stan ran to the bottom, where their friend, Twig, was planted. Twig was a sapling that had befriended Joe and Stan.

After they had explained their position to Twig, he talked to the trees.

“Fellow trees, this hill is no place to plant yourselves. No sunlight gets through here, and you will not grow.”

Finally, they agreed to go. However, the holes they had made remained. Joe and Stan argued with the leader of the trees, but they refused to put the dirt back in the hole. So, the two pumpkins were forced to do it.

 

CHAPTER THREE

As Joe and Stan finished putting the dirt back in the hole, a strange figure appeared.

“Allow me to introduce myself,” he said, fake purring. “My name is Evil Mister Fox, but some call me E.M.F. Now where is my house?”

“What house?” asked Joe.

“Look, I bought this city for a bag of gold,” he snickered. “And so now, I demand that you hand over your house and everyone else’s.”

“Ah, but have you seen the top of the hill?” asked Joe, coming up with a plan.

“No, I have never seen the top. Why?”

“It is beautiful up there. I’ll show you. Follow me.”

As they climbed up the hill, Joe said, “Phew, I need a rest. Why don’t you go on without me?”

“Er, okay.”

A few minutes later, Mister Fox was in the air, flying the exact same way he came.

“He will not come back in a hurry,” murmured Stan. “Once you’ve been hit by willow, you have had it.”

“Speaking of Mister Willow…”

 

CHAPTER FOUR

The two friends climbed up the hill. Joe was shaking as they approached the tree. Finally Joe spoke.

“Mister Willow, will you be our friend?”

Mister Willow looked down on them. At that minute, they heard a loud chop, and the tree gave a yowl of surprise. Out came Evil Mister Fox with an axe in his hand.

“You tried to kill me, and now it is time for revenge!” he cried as he ran for Pumpkin City.

Joe Bob looked at where the tree was but, to his surprise, he did not see a thing. Then he looked down the hill, and there was the old tree rolling down the hill.

“He will run over Mister Fox!” yowled Stan Fluff. “Then let us achieve your goal by rolling down the hill to watch.”

So they rolled down the hill, but to their surprise, the fox was rolling behind them.

“Thought you could fool me, eh?” he sneered, but it was the pumpkins who got the last laugh.

The next minute, the tree came crashing into him.

“Ouch!” he cried.

And for a little bit, all was well.

 

STORY TWO

PROLOGUE

Joe Bob was bored. It had been weeks since there had been any action in Pumpkin City.

“Good gravy!” shouted Stan Fluff from his house. “You did what?”

“What’s the matter?” asked Joe as Stan ran by.

“My mother sold my encyclopedia to a traveling merchant for FIVE gold coins.”

“What is so important about an encyclopedia?”

“It had twenty gold coins in it… and I had been saving up to buy a ticket to the rolling championship game!”    

 

CHAPTER ONE

Joe had been away from home for a day now. It was his first night on his mission to reclaim Stan’s encyclopedia.

“Should I go to sleep or just keep walking?” He wondered.

He decided to just keep walking.

“Why did I volunteer?” he wondered. “Because I am his friend, and Stan would have came if he hadn’t gotten sick.”

“Hullo.”

Joe spun around.

“Are you a tree?” He asked cautiously.

“Why, yers, I am.”

“Have you seen a traveling merchant?”

“Uh nope! Just a guy with an encyclopedia.”

“Which way did he go?”

“That way.”

“Thank you. I will be going now.”

As Joe ran along the forest, he saw a big house. He ran toward it, but as he got close, he heard a noise.

“Okay, Sam, ready to cut the pumpkin?”

Joe’s heart jumped. He was at the cutter man’s cottage!   

 

CHAPTER TWO

As Joe approached the cutter man’s cottage, he saw a boy who was leaning over a table with a long knife. Joe did not need to see what was on the table. He already had heard stories about this house. Story had it that these cutters carved pumpkins’ faces with knives. So, obviously, he was very fearful of being caught, but he had to search for the traveling merchant.

At that moment, suddenly, he saw a tail. However, it went out of sight before he could speak to it, but he did get a glimpse of an encyclopedia.

“The merchant has evacuated.”

He ran, hoping that the cutters wouldn’t spot him. As he got out, he felt relief flow over him, but he kept running.

 

CHAPTER THREE

Joe walked up the stream. He spotted Evil Mister Fox’s lair. Maybe he would know the traveling merchant.

“Who is there?” asked Mister Fox when Joe knocked on the door. “Oh, it is you. Come in.”

As they walked through Mister Fox’s collection of books, Joe noticed that there was one book that didn’t belong. It looked just like… Joe couldn’t place it. All of a sudden it hit him: STAN’S ENCYCLOPEDIA.

“Did you buy that from the traveling merchant?”

“Oh no, I did not,” Mister Fox snickered. “I bought it from Stan’s mother.”

Joe gasped. “So you are the traveling merchant?”

“How right you are,” growled Mister Fox, pulling out a sword. “But you will never get to tell Stan.”

Joe grabbed a book from the shelf and whacked Mister Fox on the head. Mister Fox dropped the sword in his hand. Joe grabbed the sword, closed his eyes, and swung.     

He opened his eyes just in time to see Mister Fox’s arm hit the floor. Mister Fox screamed in pain.

“You ruined my arm!” he yelled as he ran.

Joe took the encyclopedia off the shelf and headed home. Half of him was happy, for he had completed his quest, yet part of him knew that he had not killed Mister Fox and that he would be back for his revenge.

When Joe reached the hill, where Pumpkin City laid, he saw Stan running toward him.

“You are back with my encyclopedia. I’ve always believed in you.”

Joe gave the encyclopedia back to Stan, and the two pumpkins rolled down the hill over and over again.            

 

TFTFTSTCML (The For the Friendless Texting Service That Changed My Life)

My name is Maddison. People don’t usually think about names that often. People think names are not important. That is the biggest piece of green booger juice I have ever seen. Well, come to think of it, green booger juice does not come in pieces, because it is a liquid, not a solid. But, as Grandmother says, it is an expression, which means, “it is not a literal saying.”

My name is the same name as my mother’s. My name is the one and only gift my mother gave me. Grandmother says I am living memory of my mother, and I am mostly proud to be that. But there is no denying she wasn’t the prettiest thing in the world. We share the same red, curly, frizzy hair, the same too-sharp nose, the same brown eyes that look like the poop emoji and that are too close together, and a forehead that is too big to be humanly possible. Like I said, I don’t mind being the living memory of my mother, but if I could be the living memory of a cross between my mother and Christina Aguilera, I wouldn’t mind.

Then, there is my father. I don’t speak of him much because Grandmother says he is a “two-faced jerk, but your mother didn’t know it yet.” There is no denying, though, he is a right Hugh Jackman. I know this because of one very torn, ripped, folded, and bent picture of him. It was hidden in Grandmother’s underwear drawer, so I’ve only seen it once, because an old lady’s underwear is nothing like looking at Heidi Klum’s lingerie line. Maybe I could have gotten some of my father’s genes, besides the ones that make him a two-faced jerk.

Once my father left my mother, though, you would think she would “pull it together” which, by the way, is another expression, otherwise known as “a not literal thing that has a hidden meaning besides the meaning that is written in the script.” In this context, I mean by “didn’t pull it together” as to have left me in a box at Grandmother’s door, like Harry Potter minus the Dursley’s because Grandmother is quite nice.

I don’t know much about the rest, except my mother ended up as a corpse in “The Pine Ridge Resting Place.” It is a pet cemetery. It was also the only cemetery close enough for Grandmother to visit her weekendly.

The old guy who slumps on the graves everyday says it “is the perfect place for people to waste their money and have their pets go to hell.”

On the brochure it says: The perfect place for the ones who crossed your heart to cross the rainbow bridge.

That is called contrasting ideas.

Friendless is an adjective. More precisely, it is the adjective best used to describe me. I can count my friends on one hand. By friends, I mean friend, because I only have one friend. My one friend is Grandmother, if you count her, but of course you count her. My other friend is Siri, but since she is just a “smart piece of technology,” I am pretty sure she doesn’t count. I have a stuffed horse who is my friend, but she has no heart, so she doesn’t count. I do have one more sort-of friend who does have a heart. She is my older sister Maya, and she is more of an enemy than a friend, which would make her a temporary friend, so I prefer not to count her. Plus, it is useful to have something to retort. That way, when she says something mean, I can just say, “Well, technically you’re just my temporary friend.” It is so satisfying to retort back though, I must admit it, does not have that much of an effect.

Today is my thirteenth birthday, and I don’t have a party because you can’t have a party without friends, as in plural. Grandmother shows me my presents. There are a lot of them. That is called making up for no friends, as in plural. Maya is there, but she is texting her friends, as in plural, under the table. Her lips move while we sing “Happy Birthday,” but not to the right rhythm. If I play close enough attention, I can read what she’s saying. Stupid things, or maybe I’m reading her lips wrong, which is the most probable, as in possible, possibility. Then, she is the Hailey Dunphy, and I’m the Alex.

If I ever had someone to text, I think I would be very smart at it. For instance, I know all the abbreviations used in texting. I have a chart printed out under my bed. Grandmother hands me my first present. It is wrapped in gummy bear wrapping paper with neat edges, which means Maya did it. Speaking of Maya, she is staring at me with laser eyes.

“Open it, Maddison, NOW!” I have never seen Maya so worked up, except when Grandmother caught her kissing a rebel boy, named Rocky, in CHURCH. Strictly disobeying Grandmother, IN CHURCH!

Slowly I open the present. Maya is texting. Under the wrapping, it is a phone. A real live phone, except for the fact that a phone is not living because it has no heart, except for the fact that it is an expression, which means it means something if you read between the lines. In the case of phones, it would be read between the texts. I try to smile, but what good is a phone if you have no one to text? Speaking of texts, I start to cry. Speaking of crying, I run to my room. Speaking of my room, now that I’m thirteen, it is my right to redo it. Or maybe it’s my right to redo myself.

 

The Cats, the Battle, and the Secret British Spies

Chapter 1: The First Battle

Once upon a time, there was a world of animals with no pollution, and everyone lived in peace. But as people got more advanced, we started polluting. There was a world that people could not see, but all the animals could. And a giant war between the animals started. There were four sides: the cows, the horses, cats, and dogs. They all wanted this land because it was untouched by humans. But they feared if they all lived there, there wouldn’t be enough space for them to live in peace again. There were lots of trees on the island, there was grass and flowers, there was no pollution, and there was lots of food. And so far, there were only rodents on the island.

The cats did not clip their nails, the dogs sharpened their teeth, the horses took fitness training, and the cows tried to be faster because they usually wanted to eat. The first cats, the bravest, took one of the two-legged boats and started to row to this land. The dogs, since they were great swimmers, started to swim to this land. The horses started to board cars that were going across this bridge that was going over the land and they jumped off, and the cows, since they were so heavy, took giant trees. They started to bonk into them so they would fall over to make a giant bridge. And once the cats and dogs reached the land, they started to fight. The cats climbed to the tallest trees, the dogs ran to the lowest hills, and the cats jumped down to the lowest hills, and the dogs got out of the way, so they would just fall. Then the dogs climbed up to the top of the hills and jumped down, and the cats got out of the way, so the dogs just fell down.

And then there was a cow driving a silent electric car across the bridge, and then the cow reached the land, and then he started driving all over the place. And then one of the cats looked down the bridge to see an army of cows marching up. Then a dog looked up on the higher bridge, that the two-leggeds made, to see a bunch of horses trotting on the cars. When they looked a little closer, they saw one of the horses is jumping down from the bridge. Then they noticed the horses and cows have been fighting, too. When the first horse came down, they noticed it had a big bruise on its forehead. And when the cow noticed he wasn’t that good at driving and got out, it had a big cut right above his hoof. Then the cows started to charge toward everybody, because they had been working on speed. But then a cow caught up with one of the cats and bonked into it, and the cat went flying out into the water. But the cat would never give up…
The cat rose and lifted its claw and said, “My name is Skydiver! You killed my sister! Prepare to die!”

And then it scratched the cow in the face. This cow had been bonking down a tree for fun and he didn’t notice, but Skydiver’s sister, Seaswimmer, was resting there, and the tree fell down on her. The cow started running around like crazy. And then he didn’t notice he had just jumped into the water and swam down to the very bottom. He was gone forever.

Skydiver said, “Farewell, old cow!”

Then Skydiver ran to his base. There was a newborn cat. They named the cat Snowjumper. The cat started to crawl around. The cat started to climb a tree. The cat started to sit down. The cat started to look around. The cat started to ask for milk. The cat started to climb down.

The cat said, “Meow! Meowww! MEOWWWW!”

The cat started to scratch the tree. The cat started to grow over time, until the cat was a big, strong cat. And then Skydiver went up to him one day. Skydiver was very old now.

He said, “You are the cat that will save all cats.”

“Really? Me? Are you sure it’s not that one? And are you sure that we’re gonna win?” said Snowjumper.

“Yes. I’m sure,” said Skydiver.

 

Chapter 2: Snowjumper Saves the Cats

Snowjumper was sitting at Seaswimmer and Skydiver’s graves. He looked at Skydiver’s grave and said, “I will try.” Then Snowjumper set off to fight. He was sad. Then he set off to the battle. When he went there, a horse had decided to drive the electric car. The horse laid down on the tops of the seats and drove on a dog. A couple of dogs brought the dog off to their home to make a grave.The cows were evil, the cats were good, the dogs were bad, and the horses just wanted to fight.

The cats got there first, and then the cows wanted it, and then the dogs decided they wanted it too, and the horses wanted to fight. One of the horses put on armor. One of the dogs picked up a spear. One of the cows picked up an orange, and Snowjumper picked up a poisonous mouse. The horse started galloping. The dog started charging. The cow threw the orange. It landed on a dog. And Snowjumper ordered the poisonous mouse to bite the horse. It bit the horse, and the horse got very sick. The horse jumped in the water to help its wound because there was no medicine anywhere, but it couldn’t swim, so it drowned.

When the sun shone, a prophecy was heard.

“Skydiver’s angel from the dead will help Snowjumper before the sun goes red.”

And when the sun went away again, a ghost appeared from Skydiver’s grave, and the ghost gave the cats a secret weapon: a bomb! All of the cats were ordered to take shelter, and Snowjumper sent the bomb up to the sky above the fields and was held by the ghost. And just when every animal jumped and noticed it was there, he dropped it.

It blew up, and almost all the animals died. But there were two from each animal except for the cats. Every one of them was there (except for 10, which died in battle) and they were all very determined animals. Both dogs barked like a wolf, the horses started to squeal, and the cows started jumping like crazy. And all the cats went out for battle, picking up other poisonous mice. They ordered four of them to the dogs. One of them died and the other one surrendered. And once he surrendered, all the other dogs came back to life and surrendered. They sent five to the horses. One of them died and the other one surrendered, and then all the horses came back to life and surrendered. Five of the cows came back to life. They all jumped in the water, and then they saw the cow from the beginning who was still alive trying to come out. The reason all these animals were coming back to life was part of the cats’ magic.

A giant sailboat that was driven by a pig came, and pigs were all over the ship. The pigs claimed that this was their land. But then the horses and dogs jumped aboard and drove the ship out of the way. The pigs didn’t know where the island was because they were turned around, so they went to another island.

Every animal surrendered — except for the cows. And all the cows that were in the water climbed out, and they all in unison screamed, “MOOOOOOOO!”

And Snowjumper looked in the cow’s eyes and said, “Bye-bye, cowies” and went in the electric car. And then he started driving, and the cow didn’t see. The cow ran right into the car. He didn’t know that the car was about to run into him. And then the rest of the cows surrendered, but they stayed on the island. The cats threw a bomb at them. Once the cow that killed Seaswimmer died, Seaswimmer came back to life. Snowjumper asked, “Who are you?”

“Well,” said Seaswimmer, “I was born in the sea. Swimming is my best talent. But I didn’t pass the test to be in this tribe. So I was sent to another tribe for foster. Then when I was ready, I took the test again and succeeded.”

 

Chapter 3: As Time Passed

Over time, all the cats lived in peace again. And Snowjumper and Seaswimmer got married and had a little kitten, and they named it Skydiver. They started to befriend the squirrels, and they planted a magical tree with magical fruits and leaves and animals and vegetables. This became their life supply. And they became vegetarians. The poisonous mice did not bite them. The poisonous mice were loyal to the cats.

The horses found Chincoteague Island where horses ran wild and ran free. And the dogs found excellent owners. And the cows had fun ruining clown shows. And at the Museum of Natural History, there was a statue with all five animals: pigs, horses, cows, dogs, and cats. And there was a little box that said, “These animals were fighting for a beautiful world, and they all found a happy spot, but only the cats got the island.”

 

Chapter 4: The Pigs

Did you wonder what the pigs were up to? The pigs wanted peanut butter sandwiches, but the person at the peanut butter sandwich store wouldn’t give them sandwiches! Now this person could speak pig, and said,

“If you spy on the animal war in New York City, then you will have peanut butter sandwiches.”

So, the pigs set off to New York City on a pig ship. If you can’t imagine this boat, imagine ten pigs on a sailboat going to New York City. When they got to America, they decided to jump into the water for a bath, and two of them swam to the very bottom to get a mud bath. Then, they got very dirty and came to the top, but when they got to the top they were clean because they were in the water. When they got to the Hudson River, they sailed up to Mount Marcy and then sailed down to the George Washington Bridge. Then, they started to swim to the nice green island. Then, they started to pop their heads up to look at the war. When they looked up, they saw a horse driving a car, blue nails on cats, poisonous mice scampering everywhere, dogs running around and barking, and barking more, and scratching, and scratching more, and cows squirting grape juice everywhere. They also saw a cow jumping into the water and swimming to the bottom, cows throwing oranges, horses wearing armor, dogs riding bicycles, and cats jumping down from trees. But what really caught their eyes were the amazing apples, even though they weren’t peanut butter sandwiches. When a pig got out of the water, a cat saw it. This cat was see-through and was flying. This cat had wings, and this cat looked like it was just a reflection from the sun. The pigs wanted to tell the peanut butter sandwich person everything in order to get their peanut butter sandwiches. They rode a pig plane this time! They told the peanut butter sandwich person everything! But, he said,

“Not enough information! We need to know who wins. What weapons are they using other than spears?”

The pigs were determined to get the peanut butter sandwiches, so they went back on another pig plane. Then, they went to LaGuardia and took a pig uber. They went to look at the war some more. They didn’t see any other weapons, but they saw other tactics. So they went back to the peanut butter sandwich person and told them everything, but the peanut butter sandwich person still wasn’t happy. He still wondered who won. It was obvious that the horses were gonna win, but the pigs went back. They were so tired of pig planes, but they took one. They watched the war a little more. They saw the angel-like cat drop a bomb, and everybody died, and everybody came back to life and went to get a sailboat. They went there because the cats won, and they couldn’t allow that. They sailed towards the island on the boat, and they made a big speech.

“We are the pigs of Britain, and we demand this land. If this land isn’t ours in thirty minutes, everyone shall die! The horses and dogs couldn’t allow this, so they jumped on the boat and turned it around. The pigs couldn’t find the island, so they went to Manhattan and everybody lived happily ever after, except for the pigs who didn’t get their peanut butter sandwiches. They went to the person and told him the cats had won, and finally, after what felt like a thousand years of spying, they got their peanut butter sandwiches!

 

THE END   

 

The Mighty Warrior

Chapter 1

There were three weapons that were forged by the king of dragon warriors. He was invincible with the sword. He was so powerful that he was able to destroy a whole army with one strike on the ground. Two strikes, he destroyed 60 armies. And with nine strikes, he could destroy 90,007 armies.

One day, he was battling when someone stabbed him in the back with his darkness sword. Sixteen years later, his son took his father’s sword and went to the darkness land of destruction. It was a big fight but Drago won.

A hundred thousand years later, a lady and her husband had a baby. They had no idea that the dad was related to Drago. But the mom agreed that the dad should name the baby. The father named the baby Dragano. When he was fifteen, he was walking in the woods with his friends, Marthur and Druth. They both were princes. They were all walking but got split apart. They were all upset, but at the exact same time, they all found special weapons forged from their ancestors. And then, they went to their mothers to tell them all about it. And then the mothers told their sons to go to the temple, where they could get trained and nobody would hurt them.

 

Chapter 2: Training Begins

Their fathers found out, and they thought that their fathers wouldn’t find them. And then their fathers were all so mad, that the light power became dark power. The fathers exploded and turned into devils. The sons were right about to enter the temple. They got into the temple, but then they heard a voice.

And the voice said, “If you want to be the master of the sword, pass these three tests and you will become so powerful, not even the darkness will be able to beat you.”

Meanwhile, robot devils were in a maze. The sons were upset, so Dragano got so frustrated, he let out a big, energy surge that destroyed all the robots and the boss robot.

 

Chapter 3: The Devil’s Revenge

They finished the first and second challenge. And now the third challenge: the teleporter. The teleporter brought them to a robotic general. There were three generals. Dragano and his friends could help each other with their matches. If only one finished, he could help the other two. So now came the test: Go fight!

A big bang, a big boom! So much power was coming out of the generals. Dragano was the warrior of Dragons, the Dragon Sword. He would win. And he was winning. Special attack! Fifty hammer power strike! Then the devils wanted to destroy the boys.

 

Chapter 4: The Hidden Power

When they were finished, the devils were extremely upset! After defeating all the challenges, the boys were walking back home, but the devils said, “Fight us, and we will destroy you and win for what you’ve done to us! Let the battle begin.”

It was a fierce battle. But it was a scary battle for them. Then the light was shining bright from the weapons. And then a big boom. And it was big!                                                                           

 

Chapter 5: Aaaaaahhhh!

The boys ran to their village, and no harm was done, but out of nowhere, a bunch of villagers were running after them, and they knew them.

Then the boys yelled, “Aaaaaaaahhhhh!!!”

Then more people came, but a lot of them had crushes on them. So they just wanted to say, “Aaaaaahhhhhh!!” but they just went into their homes. Then they all came out with their weapons and scared them.

 

Chapter 6: The Scariest Terror Story

On Halloween, there were spirits walking around the village. Dragano was wondering why there were so many spirits around. And this was why. They were all people that lived, but one of them had a horror story.

“One hundred years ago, your father was destructive. Your father was a devil.”

 

Swimming

Olivia went to the pool next to her house, saw how much fun everyone was having, and she jumped in.

“Cannon ball!’’ she shouted as she jumped into the pool.

But as soon as she touched the water, she couldn’t figure out what to do. She’d seen how much fun everyone else was having and wasn’t thinking about what she was doing when she jumped in. Luckily, she jumped in the shallow end of the pool, so she didn’t drown. But she got so embarrassed that she ran all the way back to her home.

‘’Why don’t I know how swim?’’ she complained to her mom. “I mean, all my friends know how to, how come I don’t?’’

‘’Well,’’ her mother said, ‘’you didn’t learn how to when you were young because you hated water.’’

“Well, why did I hate water?’’

“Your father used to put pictures of sharks on the television. Your older brother, Noah, loved sharks, so he had a 3D picture of a shark in his room, and it was right next to your bed. So I guess the poster scared you because whenever we went to the beach, you would always stay at least five feet away from the ocean.”

I can’t believe that I was scared of water, Oliva thought.

After a few minutes, she ran up to her room and sat on her bed, just thinking about what she just heard. She stayed like that until the next day, which was Thursday, her favorite day, because she got to hang out with her old friends. But she didn’t want to go. She wanted to learn, but who could she learn from? Then she recalled her mom saying there was a sports sleep-away camp for 10 year olds. It was called something like The Sporting Camp.

So Olivia started packing, but then she recalled something else. She had never been to a sleepaway camp before. So she felt really nervous. She was thinking about what it was going to be like without her parents. She always relied on her parents. But now she was going to be on her own, and she had to be independent. So she went on a walk, and then she blurted out to a random stranger, an older kid who looked like she was in high school, about how she was feeling all emotional. Then, the older girl with dyed black hair and black clothing, started laughing at Olivia because she hadn’t been to a sleepaway camp, and she didn’t know how to swim. Then, she started crying and ran back to her home.

Her mom found her sitting on the bed, crying. Her mom tried to console her by saying, “Who cares what  that person says?”

Olivia replied, “But I still don’t know how to swim!”

Her mom said, “Who cares if you don’t know how to swim?”

Her mom went back to the kitchen, and Olivia felt a little bit better. She kept thinking about what her mom said to her, and then she finally thought that she was too self conscious and needed to be more confident. She went to the camp anyway because she wanted to learn how to swim. Not because other people thought she was weird, but because she wanted to know how to swim.

***

Olivia got off the bus. Then she saw the scenery in the camp. It was really nice because it was in the countryside. Behind the camp, there was a forest. If you stood really high, you could see the mountains. So she got her luggage, and she waited to find out which cabin she would be going to. When she heard her name, she went to the cabin and was feeling a little homesick already. She saw some new kids, and she tried to say “hi” to them, but she was too shy. Fortunately, the kids were not that mean to her, and she made some new friends: four nice girls who were all in her cabin, except for one. It was all of their first times at sleepaway camp, and they lived around the same area as her. Even though she was a really bad swimmer, her friends still liked her.  She learned that day that she could rely on her friends.  

The next day, Olivia went to the lake. When no one was looking, she tried to swim. But then the lifeguard spotted her, thought she was drowning, and he dived into the lake. He brought her out onto the grass. Now everyone knew that she couldn’t swim. As soon as she got onto the grass, she ran back to her cabin because she was so embarrassed. Then she hid under her bed and cried until lunchtime. By then, she felt less emotional, and by then, everybody forgot about the incident.

So she went to her friends, hoping that they would still hang out with her. When she got to the table, her friends didn’t laugh or point, in fact, they even told her to go their table and eat with them.

“You still want to be my friend?”

“Of course!” they said. “Why wouldn’t we?”

“Well,” Olivia replied. “Because of what happened today. When I almost drowned in the water.”

“We would always want to be your friend. Unless you betray us,” said one of the girls from the other table.

“Yeah right, like I’ll ever betray my friends.”

After that, it was time for some other sports. First she played some soccer, then some archery, then basketball, then baseball, then kickball, until she got tired. By then it was bedtime. She was too tired to even eat dinner, so she just went to bed, planning to go swimming the next day.

When she woke up, she was in a good mood, but the moment she looked outside the window, her smile turned upside down. They closed the pool because it started raining.

“WHY DOES IT HAVE TO RAIN TODAY!!!” she screamed and shouted.

Then she started screaming into her pillow so no one would hear her. For the rest of the day, she was so miserable that she didn’t want to play kickball or baseball or soccer or volleyball or football or hockey or any other sport. In fact, she didn’t even want to get out of her cabin at one point. All I wanted to do was swim, but it had to rain, she thought. When it was time for bed, she hoped she would feel a little bit better, but the next day didn’t get any better. Because of the rain from the day before, the pool flooded, and no one was allowed to swim.

“AGAIN!!!” Olivia shouted with anger. “When will I ever learn how to swim?! If I don’t learn how to swim tomorrow, I am going back home to Connecticut!”

Then she started looking at a picture of her and her dad. Olivia was holding a fish, and her dad was holding the rod, and in the background, there was a canoe in the water. And she thought, when are you going to come back, Dad?

After that, she went to the cafeteria to have some breakfast. Maybe my friends might help me calm down, like my old therapist. Wait! she thought, I recall bringing my diary to camp. I can just write in that! But first, I will talk to my friends, she thought.

Then she quickly ran, without spilling any of her food, to the table that her friends were eating at. And then blurted out, “Why can’t I swim?! Yesterday I couldn’t swim because it rained. Today I couldn’t swim because the pool flooded. WHEN WILL I SWIM?!!!”

All her friends just stared at her, and so did everyone else. And then Olivia started crying and ran back to her cabin. Her friends followed her. One of her friends, named Samantha, tried to calm Olivia down.

“Take deep breaths,” Samantha said to Olivia.

“Thanks,” Olivia replied.

Then Olivia told her friends everything, about why she wanted to swim and why she was feeling all emotional. That night, when she went to bed, she thought about her dad. That same night, it started to rain even more, so when Olivia woke up, the whole camp was flooded. But when she woke up, everybody had evacuated and were on buses. She was stuck in a flood, by herself, not knowing how to swim.

Luckily, Samantha spotted her in the cabin while she was on the bus. “Look everyone! Olivia is trapped in her cabin. We’ve got to help her!” Samantha shouted. “Olivia! Try to swim!”  

“I can’t,” Olivia said. “I don’t know how to!”

“Here! I will help you!” Samantha shouted.

So Olivia tried to swim.

“I am doing it!” Olivia shouted.

“Good job!” Samantha cheered.

AHHHHHHHHHHH!!! I’m drowning!” Olivia screamed.

“Don’t worry I will save you!” Samantha shouted.

So Samantha jumped into the water and rescued Olivia.

“Thank you so much! Not only am I saved, but I am even more encouraged to learn how to swim. And I don’t care what people think about me. I want to do what I want.”

When Olivia got back to her home, she told her mom about what happened at camp. Her mom told her that someone new was moving next to her house. It was Samantha. Olivia and Samantha became best friends, and Samantha taught Olivia how to swim.

 

The End

 

Jane

Jane lit the fire as she looked up at the mountain. Her family had been trying for years to get into the village. After they left their old village, they needed to find a new village. The village they were trying to live in had a list of people trying to get in. Her family had been living in a special village outside the real village. The houses were small and made out of logs. The king gave the houses to them to live in while they waited. It may have sounded okay to live there, but you had to make your own food, your own clothes, and everything that you might need. Jane was really happy that her family was next on the list to live in the real village!

“Jane!” her mom came running out of the house.

Jane couldn’t identify her tone of voice. It sounded mad, but sad and happy?

“What?” Jane said as she threw more logs into the fire.

“There is a new family, a rich one, who was too rich for their village and wants to to live here, in this village, and the king of this village wants them to live here. So they are getting boosted to the top of the list,” her mom sighed.

“Oh no! We will never get to live in the village!” Jane complained.

“Now, Jane, you can’t complain. Now, that fire is getting big. You don’t want it to get too big, so put that chicken in the heat!”

Jane did as she was told, and soon, the chicken was ready. Jane put it on a plate and gave it to her mom. Her mom put it on a table, and soon, they were ready to eat. But something was missing.

“Dad! Kiki! Dinner!” Jane called.

Her dad and her two-year-old sister, Kiki, came walking in.

“You don’t have to yell. This is a three-room house. When they built it, he had to make it a small three room house,” Kiki said, falling in her seat.

Kiki was bossy like that.

Jane was tired from her job. But it wasn’t that hard because, like Kiki just said, it was a three room house: the kitchen/dining room, the bathroom, and the bedroom. As their mom told them the bad news, Jane snuck out of the conversation. She did not like hearing it. Besides, she had more important things to do. Namely, talking to the king. She went to her part of the bedroom and got a bandanna and a stick. She gathered some things, like some clothes, then snuck some candy, then snuck back out to the kitchen to gather some food. She tied it all up in the bandanna, then put the stick over her back, and went out to face her family.

“Guys, I have made plans for myself. I shall climb up to the village and talk to the king myself! I will tell him he is no match for my family and that they will have to put that rich family at the bottom of the list!” Jane proudly announced.

And Jane walked right out of that house, but was quickly stopped by Kiki and her parents.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Kiki asked.

Her mom took the bag from her, and her dad sat her down.

“You go up there, and you will be lucky if you get back down. Our whole family will suffer! We would get put at the bottom of the list!” Her dad said, as his face got redder and redder at the thought.

“Well, you won’t stop me!” Jane yelled and walked inside the house.    

That night, Jane took a piece of paper and wrote a note that said, “I will see you in a little bit!”

Jane grabbed her bag and ran out the door. She didn’t think about what her dad said because she hadn’t really been listening.

Jane walked out of the the garden and looked up. She saw the village high up on the mountain. She would have to climb up that high mountain. Jane started to walk up the mountain, but soon realized she couldn’t do it. No one has ever walked up the mountain before.There was a lift, and it was like a ski lift, but it was locked for the night. But maybe she could unlock the lift! No, it was at the top of the mountain.

“Hello?” a young girl’s voice said.

Jane instantly turned around. A little girl, about her age, was standing there.

“Oh, hi. Um, Who are you exactly? Where did you come from?” Jane asked.

“Oh, me? I’m Emily. And, like you asked, I came from my house because I couldn’t sleep with all the snoring,” Emily said. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m trying to get up to the village,” Jane said.

“I’m trying to get into the village too. Because for some reason, they boosted my family to the top of the village list. The thing is, that’s not fair!” Emily said.

Wait, Jane thought, she lives in the rich family! There is no way I can tell her that I’m trying to get the their family back to the bottom of the list, but then, she said it was not fair!

“Yeah, um, I was, or my family, was at the top of the list, and I thought it was not fair, too. So now I thought I would go and tell the king it wasn’t fair, but there is no way I can climb this mountain,” Jane said quickly, hoping Emily would miss a lot of it.

But Emily was silent.

“I’ll come with you up the mountain because I am the seventh child, so there is nothing to do anyway,” Emily said.”It will be interesting,” she continued.

So they headed up the mountain, but it was only five minutes before they got tired.

“Wait,” Emily said, reaching in her pocket,”I think I have some rope.”

Emily tied the rope around her and Jane. And then, she tied a little knot, making a circle, in the rope. She found a ledge and threw the rope up, up, onto the ledge.

“Now, climbing will be easier,” Emily said and started climbing.

Jane started, too, but found it was harder.

“So you said you are the seventh child in your family?” Jane asked.

“Seventh and youngest,” Emily said and kept climbing.

Jane wanted to share about her family, but decided to keep it to herself. Finally, the mountain was in view!

“Almost there!” Jane said, with barely enough breath.

“Yes!” Emily said, and sounded the same, with barely enough breath, too.

The climb was hard. Jane almost slipped on the steep and rocky mountainside, but the rope caught her. Emily got stuck in between two rocks, and then Jane had to pull her up.

When they got to the top, Jane looked out across the village, but it was hard to see.

“What time is it?” Jane asked.

Emily put down the rope that she was now untying.

“2:53,” Emily sighed.

“What?” Jane asked, surprised.

“Yeah, it’s late,” Emily said.

“My parents would have told me to go to bed, let’s see, a few hours ago,” Jane said.

“Come on, let’s go explore the village, and see why in the world we can’t live here,”

Emily started walking without Jane.

“Probably because the village is really small,” Jane said softly.

“Are you kidding me? Look at this!” Emily announced.

“Shhhhhh!” Jane shushed her as she pushed past Emily to look.

The village was huge! Big houses lined the streets. The road seemed to go on forever. The yards were the size of her house, but three times bigger.

“Those look like empty houses,” Emily said, sounding annoyed.

Jane ran over.

“You’re right,” Jane whispered, just in case Emily was wrong.

But it did not look like she was wrong. Cobwebs lined the windows. Ivy ran down the house, out of control. Everything  was dark. Dust was everywhere.

“I’m hungry,” Emily said, out of the blue.

“Here, I got something,” Jane reached into her bag and pulled out a strawberry. “Fresh from our garden.”

The two girls walked through the village. Finally, they reached to castle.

“Knock, Jane,” Emily whispered.

Jane lifted up her hand, and almost knocked.

“Should we wait till morning?” Jane asked.

“Maybe to talk to the king. But we can get a room till morning,” Emily answered.

Emily knocked instead. The sound echoed throughout the castle. Suddenly, the door opened. A tall man was standing in the doorway. His hands looked different. And where were his shoes? Jane realized that his hands were where his feet should be, and his feet were where his hands should be. Emily seemed to notice too.

“What do you want?” He asked.

“Um, we want to talk to the king,” Emily answered shyly.

“Well, go home and come back in the morning, Emily!” he said as he shut the door.

Jane was confused. How did he know Emily’s name?

“No, wait! Jim!” Emily yelled.

Jane couldn’t take it anymore.

“How do you guys know each other?” she yelled.

Emily turned around.

“We met each other when we got a tour of the village,” She calmly explained.

“You got a tour of the village?” Jane asked.

“Yeah. Anyways, please let us stay and talk with the king?” Emily turned back to Jim.

“Well, okay. Come on in. I will get you a room to stay in,” Jim said.

“Thanks!”

“Thanks,” Jane said.

They followed Jim into the place. Marble floors glistened under them.  

“Wow!” Emily exclaimed.

Jane almost slipped as she tried to maneuver past furniture that looked like it came straight from Paris.

“Here are the guest rooms,” Jim said and motioned to some rooms.

“Jane! Did you even realize that we walked up three flights of stairs and down one?” Emily asked.

“No, and I thought that was the whole village!” Jane answered.

A few hours later, Jane woke up. She got out of bed and walked over to Emily’s room.

“Wake up!” she yelled.

Today was the big day. Everything had to be perfect.

“Alright now!” Emily jumped out of bed and ran out the door, leaving Jane to quickly follow.

An hour later, the girls had gotten breakfast and were all dressed. Emily seemed more excited than Jane, even though what it meant for her and her family.

“So, I can do the talking” Emily said.

“But why?” Jane asked.

“Because, he will listen to me more than you, since I come from the Jones family,” Emily answered proudly.

“True, but your last name is Jones?” Jane asked, startled.

“Yes, as in Emily Jones,” Emily answered.

A little while later, they were escorted to see the king.

“Hello!” said a raspy voice.

Emily walked in first.

“Hello, King Palmer Tudor,” Emily said as she curtseyed.

“Oh, hello, Emily Jones! What brings you by?” he asked.

Emily took a deep breath as she said, “So, here is Jane, well, I don’t know her last name, but — ”

“I don’t know mine,” Jane whispered.

“Wh-what do you mean you don’t know you last name?” Emily asked.

“No one knows. We left our last village because our family was accused of a crime we didn’t commit. When we left, or before we did, the leader banned our last name. So no one can say it. Now we don’t have a last name,” Jane explained.

“Go on, Emily.” It was obvious the king did not want to hear Jane speak.

“So Jane was at the top of the list, and then we came along, and well, we are at the top. She is mad, and I am mad,” Emily said.

“What? You are mad? But why? You are the next to come in.” the king asked.

“Because it’s not fair!” Emily yelled.

“Well, if you are mad, I will put you at the bottom of the list.”

The king put down his head.

“Yes!”

“Thanks so much, Emily!”

The girls walked out of the castle. Jane was smiling, but Emily was frowning for some reason.

“What’s wrong?” Jane asked.

“Nothing. I’m happy for you, but after I realized how much you wanted to live in the village, well, I’m going to have to experience it,” Emily said.

“Why don’t you want to live in the village?” Jane asked.

“Because I have a big house, and I don’t really care,” Emily answered.

“Oh. Anyways, I think that’s my mom over there,” Jane frowned, surprised to see her mom in the village.

“And there’s Sadie, and there’s Sarah, and there is Sam, and Sasha and Samantha and Saige,” Emily said.

“Wait, do all of your siblings names start with the letter’S’?” Jane asked.

“Yes, besides being the youngest, I am also the only one with my name with the letter ‘E’,” Emily said.

“Emily!”

“I think that was Sadie,” Emily whispered.

“Jane!”

“And that was Kiki!” Jane whispered.

Jane saw Kiki, her mom, and her dad running to her.

“Where did you go? Why did you go? What happened?” Kiki asked.

“Well I got us back to the top of the list, and I figured out why people get into the village slowly. Everybody here is weird! And the king just wants different people!” Jane said.

“You got us to the top of the list?” Kiki asked.  

“Yes I did,”Jane said.

“Emily! Are we at the bottom of the list?” Emily’s mom asked, pushing through her family.

“Maybe,” Emily said.

“Emily Jones!” her mom yelled.

“Well I could move you back if you want.”

Everyone turned around. The king was there!

“No thanks,” Emily said.

“But Emily! Now we are going to have to wait until everyone in front of us to live in the village!” Sadie complained.

“Well, maybe I could let both you live in the village right now! Together. We have some empty houses!” the king said.

“Well, you obviously have magic. Why don’t you use it to make the village bigger so that everyone, up here and down there, can live here,” Emily suggested.

“Actually, that’s a great idea!” the king said, and everyone agreed.

***

A few years later, the king made an announcement saying, “We have so many poor and not magic people, so we are kicking those people out and preparing for rich and magic people!”

“No! That king! He can never get anything right!” Kiki said.

“We might have to leave,” a worried Jane said.

“Well to be honest, I kind of wanted to leave. The king was acting so weird, I wanted to leave,” her mom said.

“Let’s leave soon!” her dad said.

“But why is he really kicking people out?” Jane asked.

“Well, Emily and Sarah are probably going to stay, and we are going to have to leave. So with Emily and Sarah’s family, we are going to travel and find a new village,” her mom said.

“Are we going to live with Sarah?” Kiki asked.

(She had become friends with Sarah.)

“Maybe. We will be grateful for anything we get, girls, so don’t complain,” her mom said.

“We sure will be grateful,” Kiki murmured.

“What was that, Kiki?”

“Nothing, Mom.”

***

A little while later, four lifts had been filled up. The two families were leaving. The king was sad that the Jones family was leaving, but reminded himself that it was only a matter of time before new rich families would be walking down the street.

“So, are you excited?” Jane asked Emily.

“No, but yes. No because it will be scary, but yes because I can get out of this crazy town!” Emily said.

“Why is it crazy?” Jane asked.

“You don’t know why? Well, the people, the way they act, and well, the king!” Emily said.

When they arrived at the bottom of the mountain, Jane and Emily hopped out.

“Move,” Emily’s sister, Samantha, said as she pushed by them.

“The mean and crude one of the family,” Emily said.

At first, they started walking through the desert, which was outside of the waiting village.

“It’s sooooo hot,” Jane said.

“I know! Mom! How much longer until we leave the desert?” Emily asked.

“I don’t know, honey!” she called back.

Next, they walked through a very snowy and cold area.

“It’s sooooo cold,” Jane said.

“I know! Mom! How much longer until we leave this area?” Emily asked.

“I don’t know, honey!” she called back.

Finally, they left the area, and they wandered onto a place like the desert.

“Let’s turn this way,” Emily said, and pointed to a place that, to Jane, did not look like the right place.

“No, let’s go that way,” Jane said and pointed.

“No, my way is right even though I didn’t study a map. And we always do it your way!” Emily said, frustrated.

The parents let the kids do the finding, but that was a bad idea.

“Always do it my way? Please, Emily. You talked to the king. You made me see the house, and that’s only part of it!” Jane said.

“I asked you if you wanted to look. And, if you had said it, you would still be living in the waiting village,” Emily said.

“Well, yeah, but to be honest, I liked the waiting village better,” Jane said.

“Okay, but still, I am actually smart!” Emily said.

“You’re saying I’m dumb?” Jane asked.

“I’m not, but, it’s just that, well, let’s just go my way,” Emily said.

“You know what? I never should have even worked with you,” Jane said.

“Well, you’re too stubborn,”Emily said.

“No, I’m too brave,” Jane said.

“Well fine, if you’re not too stubborn, let’s go my way,” Emily said.

“Fine. Whatever.”  Jane said.

And it turned out that Emily’s way was right!

“See, I told you!” Emily said.

“Well, we don’t even know where we’re going!” Jane said.

They started walking through the area, which had palm trees and green grass. It was so beautiful, that Emily’s sister, Sadie, thought it was a village.

“But it might just be a village!” she announced.

Since it was getting late, they decided to spend the night there.

“I don’t like this! Emily complained.

“Don’t complain. My family had to do this for years!” Jane said as she frowned.

In the morning, they got up, ate food, and continued walking. Jane didn’t notice Emily emerging from where her family were walking together in a big clump.

“Look, Jane, I’m truly sorry about yesterday. It’s just that-”

“I see what you’re saying,” Jane interrupted.

“Okay. I don’t mean to sound all mushy and stuff, but I’m sorry. Do you forgive me?” Emily asked.

“Sure,” Jane replied.

Finally, they came to something that looked like a village. There were houses and shops.

“Let’s get some help,” Emily’s mom said.

They walked into a restaurant. It was really loud. People were talking, and plates were crashing down on the table.

“Wow,” Jane said.

“Excuse me?” Emily’s mom asked.

“Yes?” somebody said, and turned around.

It was Jim!

“Jim? Why are you here?” Emily’s mom asked.

“I moved here because I couldn’t take it anymore in the village. But please, don’t tell the king. I snuck out with another family,” Jim said.

“Oh. Okay. We left the village too, and we don’t know how to live here,” Emily’s mom said.

“Well, all you have to do is talk to the leader, Mr. Grape,” Jim said.

“Grape?” Emily and Jane asked and burst out laughing.

“How do we get there?” Emily’s mom asked, giving Jane and Emily a dirty look.

“You go to, let’s see, down Pickle road, then turn left on Fig lane. His house is hard to miss,” Jim told them.

“Okay, thanks, Jim!” Emily’s mom thanked him.

They set off, walking down Pickle Road, and Jane and Emily couldn’t help but make fun of Mr. Grape’s name.

“What if Grape was actually his first name, and his last name was juice?” Jane said.

“Hello! I’m Mr. Grape Juice! But since you are my friend, you can call me Grape Juice!” Emily said in a funny voice.

The girls couldn’t stop laughing, and their moms had to come over to hold them still. Jane saw Kiki giving her a dirty look, but that only gave Jane an idea.

Once the moms walked away, Jane said,”What if Kiki’s name was Kiwi?”

Jane and Emily started laughing again.

“And what if Sam’s name was Wham?” Emily said.

Once they started laughing, that was it for Kiki. She was about to grab Jane to tell her to stop, but then Mrs. Jones high pitched voice interrupted that drama.

“We’re here!” she chirped.

Kiki groaned and walked back to Sarah.

“Yes! We’re here!” Emily said and threw her arm in the air.

Jane laughed and looked at the palace. It was purple and looked like a grape. It was hard to miss.

“Okay, guys, we’re going to be quiet when we walk in,” Mrs. Jones said.

“You sound like a teacher!” Samantha shouted out.

“And if I were, you would be in big trouble, missy!” Mrs. Jones said and opened the door.

As they walked inside, Jane was reminded, by the marble floors, that this felt exactly like walking through the king’s palace.

“Hello! Hello! Hello!” a friendly voice called from inside a room. “Who’s there, there, there!” it repeated.

“Is this how they speak? Because I’m pretty sure that’s not an echo,” Jane said as she leaned close to Emily.

“I’m not sure,” she replied.

As they walked into the room that the leader was in, Jane looked around again. It looked exactly like the king’s palace.

“Oh, hello, hello, hello. Why are you here, here, here?” Mr. Grape asked.

“We want to live in the village,” Emily’s mom told him.

“Well, of course you can, can, can. I will give you a house, house, house. But first, you must know our language, language, language. Always say the last word three times, times, times,” he explained.

“But Jim didn’t!”

It came flying out of Jane’s mouth before she could stop it.

Mr. Grape sat up and said, “Well, okay, okay, okay. What do we have here, here, here? A tattletale, that’s what, what, what. Jim’s new, and you can’t expect him to be perfect, perfect, perfect. In fact, you didn’t also, also, also.”

Mr. Grape smirked.

Let’s go, go, go,”  Mrs. Jones said as she tried to push everyone out.

Once they were out, Mrs. Jones stated the obvious.

“We can’t live here.”

Everyone agreed, and they walked off.

A little while later, they came to a new village. This one seemed simple. At the entrance, there was a castle.

“I think that’s where the leader lives,” Jane’s mom said.

Once they had walked inside, Mrs. Jones took the lead.

“Let’s turn here,” she would say, and they would follow her.

Finally, they found the leader. He was inside a game room, and before anyone could get inside the three boys, Sam, Mr. Jones, and Jane’s dad, rushed  through the glass doors.

Everyone quickly followed, but not before the leader had gotten up.

“What is going on in here?” he yelled, but then sucked in his breath to keep from yelling more.

Mrs. Jones smiled, and Jane could tell she liked him better than the king and Mr. Grape.

“Hello, I am Mrs. Bethany Jones,” she said and then shook his hand.

“And I am Helen,” Jane’s mom said.

“Oh, hello. Did you say your last name was ‘Jones’?” he asked.

“Yes,” Mrs. Jones said, her eyes twinkling.

“Well, I did not know you lived in the village. But anyways, I love what your family makes! The deciding-beanbag was my favorite beanbag. It helps me decide things,” the leader said.

“Thank you. Anyways, we don’t live in the village, but we want to. Will you let us in?” Mrs. Jones asked, getting distracted by the gaming in the background.  

“Live in my village? Of course you can! By the way, I’m Mr. Woman,” Mr. Woman, the leader, said.

Jane and Emily laughed, and Kiki shot them a dirty look.

“Thank you very much,” Jane’s mom said.

“Could you show us where we will live?” Mrs. Jones asked.

“Of course. Follow me,” Mr. Woman said and went out the door.

After they had pulled Sam and the dads away from the games, they left the castle and walked down a long road.

“It’s the Jones family!” Jane heard someone yell.

Screams of delight came next, and everyone had to run to get away from it.

“So, Jane, now you know how my life is like,” Emily said as she sighed.

Finally, they reached a row of houses.

“Here you go,” Mr. Woman said.

“Thank you,” Mrs. Jones said.

“Thank you,” Jane’s mom thanked him.

Mr. Woman walked away, which left the family to go in the houses.

“Jane!” her mom called.

Jane snapped out of her thought, which was where would they go to school.

As Jane walked in the house, she was amazed. She had never lived in a house this big before!

“So, Jane. I will sleep in the basement because I am awesome. You will have to sleep upstairs!” Kiki said, and then laughed.

Kiki had never been like this before.

“The stress,” Jane said to herself. “That’s what’s making her like this.”

“What?” Kiki asked.

“Nothing,” Jane responded and started going up the stairs.

When she found her room, she threw herself across the bed.

“Finally,” she whispered to herself. “Our own actual house.”

 

The End

 

Sam

One day, there was a cat named Sam who was black with white stripes. He could speak English and was not too dumb, but not too smart. Sam had a brother named Bob, and Sam wanted to get their favorite fish, flounder,  for dinner for the both of them.

Bob said, “Can I go fishing with you?”

But Sam said, “No, you’re too young. You might get caught by the fisherman or you might drown!”

Bob felt a little disappointed but was happy he would get fish for dinner. So, Sam went down to the sea and, because he had seen fisherman do it before, he remembered he needed a fishing pole. So, he went to find a huge stick and string and tied them together. He found worms to use as bait. Then, he got a bucket to put the fish inside. There was no fisherman there, so he quietly crept to the place where he could fish. It was near the sea where it smelled of salt.

He tried putting the worm on the string, but couldn’t because he forgot to use a hook. He had to run back home and grab a hook to put on the string. He felt a little bit silly for forgetting. He was a little scared of being near the sea, in case he fell into the water, but was looking forward to fish for fish. After he put the hook on the string, he put the worm on the hook, which wiggled a lot and felt slimy. Sam put it in the water, waited for a few minutes, but nothing came.

A fisherman came, but didn’t notice Sam at first. His footsteps sounded like thunder. When the fisherman sat down, Sam saw him, and his fishing pole started wobbling, and his teeth kept on chattering.

He said to himself, “Oh no, I might get caught! I better move to another place.”

So, he quickly packed up all his things and started to move. But suddenly, he slipped and fell, and the fisherman saw him.

The fisherman shouted, “Look, there’s a cat! I’m going to catch him!”

The fisherman did not want the cat to get all the fish. Sam quickly got up and ran away, but the fisherman was right at his heels. Sam jumped up and climbed a tree. The fisherman couldn’t catch him any further. Sam waited for a few minutes, then looked down, and the fisherman was gone.

He waited for another few minutes before he went down. He looked for another spot to stay and fish. Then, he saw a beach. He would go near the beach and fish. Sam sat to fish, and then tried to pull the string up and found that the worm was gone, but no fish was on the hook. He was very disappointed. He decided to catch the fish himself. So, he bent down into the water and tried to grab a fish, but he fell into the sea, and he didn’t know how to swim. So, he dived under the water because he kind of knew how to move under the water and went to the shore. Sam had nearly drowned. He dragged himself back up and slammed the door when he got back home.

His brother tried to comfort him, saying, “It’s okay, we could maybe get fish another time.”

But Sam was so disappointed that he wouldn’t eat.

The next morning, his brother Bob woke him up and said, “I’ve got a surprise for you!”

Sam went to the dining room and saw a big plate with two fish on it. Bob had taken the heads off of them, but they were raw. The fish were big and fat; it barely fit on one plate. Sam jumped up and down and screamed for joy. He was so happy, he immediately ate a fish. The fish tasted soft, and it was easy to chew.

Sam asked, “Where did you get this fish?”

Bob said, “I got it at the market.”

“Sam said, “I never thought about doing that!”

Sam told Bob that they should celebrate this, so they invited all their cat friends to their house and bought more fish.

They called them on the phone and said, “Be at our house soon!”

Their house smelled like raw fish, which smelled really good, and the cats all wanted to eat it. They played lots of games, like pin the tail on the donkey and ate the fish.

Sam and Bob said, “You can go to the market to get fish.”

“Thanks for the advice!”

 

Dinosaurs Come Back

Once upon a time, on a very sunny day, a pigeon named Beirdo was going golfing.

On his first try, he got a hole-in-four! Beirdo was so happy. He couldn’t believe he did so well on his first try!

Suddenly, he heard a loud roar! Beirdo then used his good hearing to find out what made that noise!

What he found was an adult dinosaur in the field.

It was also a very smart dinosaur, because it knew how to talk!

Beirdo was very surprised and asked the dinosaur, “How did you get here?!”

The dinosaur said, “Five million years ago, when I was a baby, I wasn’t as smart as I am now. I would eat smaller animals. But, one day, when I was just about to eat another animal, a ship came to take me away, and I was so scared! Then, they put me in a machine, and it made me talk! After that, they pushed me to another part of the ship, and I saw four other baby dinosaurs! They could talk too! And then, ten guards pushed us out the windows, and we landed here. Come with me.”

“Where are we going?” said Beirdo.

“You’ll see!” the dinosaur answered.

The dinosaur led Beirdo to another part of the field and found the four other dinosaurs!

The bird said, “So, these are your friends that were pushed out the window with you?”

The dinosaur said, “Yes; one’s a t-rex, two are triceratops, and the last one’s an allosaurus.”

So Beirdo said, “I think I’ve made a new friend. See you tomorrow!”

 

Cop and Bob

Once upon a time, there was a three-star cop teaching safety lessons to a school. The kids didn’t listen to the cop because it was boring, and all he did was talk for two hours.

The cop said,  “What do you do when a stranger grabs you?”

No one answered, because everybody was on their phones and not paying attention, and Cop felt sad.

The cop said to himself, “It doesn’t matter, nobody listens.”

The next day, when the kids were at school, they didn’t see Cop. He quit his job because no one would listen. After math, the kids were dismissed and went home. But Bob, one of the kids, got snatched by a stranger, and was pushed into a sack! Bob was very scared and nervous. Bob didn’t know what to do, because he didn’t listen to Cop. The stranger pulled him into a cave! When the stranger wasn’t listening, he called Cop. Cop came right away with his crew! The cop defeated the stranger and put him in jail. Cop saw the bag moving and looked inside and found Bob. Bob was nervous when cop found him because he thought Cop would yell at him.

Cop said to Bob, “You’ve learned your lesson. You have to twist your arm if a stranger grabs you by the arm.”

Cop earned a star for saving Bob, so he was a four-star cop. So, for the rest of the day, Cop and Bob had ice cream. The next day, Bob told all his friends what happened, and when Cop got his job back, everybody listened to him, and no one got hurt. Bob and Cop became friends.

 

Pollution Stoppers

Pollution does not look pretty, if you do know what I am talking about, because it looks like a bunch of garbage and chemicals mixed together. It builds up with a smell of raw fish, chemicals, and the worst smell you could ever imagine. So, I think that people should be more mindful of where they throw their garbage. People most often think that some other person will pick it up. However, I know that this is not so true. For example, when people throw garbage on the floor, the garbage builds up higher and higher. This creates pollution. And I know pollution is not good at all. When people cause pollution, it gets worse and worse instead of better and better. So, now just imagine: if you can help out, it will make a big difference, and you can be rewarded, because it will be a cleaner place around you. Finally, you can help by picking up after yourself,  recycling and composting, and getting only what you need, not what you want.

Pollution is harmful to humans and nature (everything, really). One of the main reasons for pollution is when people don’t pick up after themselves, like when people drop their cigarettes on the floor. I do not like this, because then other people will have to pick up for other people, and it still just does not make the people mindful. You can always help out, and it is never too late to help the world become a better place. And if others clean up for you, then that means that you will never learn. You have to remember this, or at least try. So be mindful, and clean up for yourself. What if no one picked up your garbage today? It would become litter, and then an animal might come to eat it, and then the animal would get sick, and maybe even die. Now, imagine if you are barefoot. You could get super hurt and your cut could be deep and infected. That is why you should not throw your garbage on the floor. In Germany, two whales were found dead with plastic inside their stomachs instead of fish and krill. It already happened, and you do not want to make a repeat of it again. So you can help out to make your world a better place!

You can always help out by recycling. When you help out, you make the world a better place. You can help and start out in your own garden. You can start by composting. When you compost, it makes your place less dirty, and more clean. As you help out, you save oceans and lakes, because that is where most of the garbage ends up. And water is a precious thing, because you do not want your water to become dirty. Or, you do not want the fish to be sick, because when fishermen do actually catch them, garbage could end up in their tummies. No one would be able to eat them, because if they do then they would probably end up getting poisoned, and then that would not be good. So, you can recycle everything that is reusable, so you can reuse it over and over again. You can start out plain and simple. You can help save the world. There are some recycling centers that do have recycling programs. So now you can start  one of your own. Just taking a step further makes it better.

Factories also are dangerous and harmful to the environment. You can always help out by only getting things you need, and not things you want that are made from factories. If you only get things you need, factories will close down, and then you will find less garbage in the landfills than before. Not only will it be cleaner, but it will be a safer place for animals and you. Like, from my experiences at the beach, I can see glass bottles sticking out of the sand. A few years ago, in China, there happened to be a smog. This was because the chemicals mixed in the air to make the smog in the first place. And I don’t think that anyone wants that in New York. That is why we have to take care of our city.

As you can see, you know that pollution is very bad for you, because you are destroying these precious resources, and you can help fix pollution. And this is how you can help: by recycling, and by composting. These are easy steps that can lead the world to a better place (and it will make you become a better person.) So you can start it right in your own house. And spread the word! The more people we have in this, the more ways the world can become a better place! Calling your friends or relatives could help, so you can get everyone in this!

 

Bee’s Best Desire

One day, a while ago, there was a small, small bee. That bee had one wish, to become the most beautiful bee in the history of living things. However, he needed to obtain a flower so divine that even humans wished they could have it too. On a silent November day, the bee set out for an adventure.

He packed his things into one massive, purple, shiny backpack and said, “Watch out world ‘cause here I come!”

After flying a mile or two, he spotted a person riding a skateboard right past him. The strong winds caused the small little bee to freak out and land in a pile of garbage.

“Seriously, not even the window. Frankly, I would’ve prefered the window,” he said, glaring at the cafe window nearby. A human was holding a small bee by a leash, as a pet, and they both laughed at the small bee. The bee slithered its way out of the stinky garbage pile, plugging its nose. “That was more gross than my father’s socks after five months of no-washing!”

The bee carried on his mission with only slight regret of his choice to find the flower. He hiked up a treacherous mountain, then stared at the long way down. “Yikes…”

Suddenly, BAM! A person by the name of Ben slid backwards down the mountain and plucked off a small strip of vine. The bee couldn’t just let Ben take his one goal in life! So he flew as fast as he could down that mountain and pleaded for the specimen.

“Please let me have it! I only want to make my mom proud of me! Ever since I was a little baby bee, she wanted me to be a model just like her,” he said. “When she was smacked by a fly swatter, I knew I had to make her dream come true! Please!” Ben flashed a minimal smile, while the little bee trembled in anxiety.

“Well, do you really need it?” Ben asked smugly. The small bee swiftly nodded his head yes and zipped up to eye level with Ben.

“But I really need it,” Ben said, “Would you do anything for it?”

The bee replied, “Yes! Yes, I would!” Ben revealed another sly smirk.

“Would you, say, race me for it?” Ben asked. The bee thought for a minute or two, then decided that he a had dedication to this dream and would do anything to achieve it.

“Yes! Here and now!” The bee exclaimed. They both lined up near a huge rock, whoever got to a tree over the bend first won.

“Three… Two… One… GO!” they said in unison. Ben started in the lead, but the bee tried hard.

“I’m not giving up on my mother!” he yelled. He forced his wings to fly fast as he could and zipped around the bend. He closed his eyes and expected the worst, but it turned out, he won! He happily marched over to the flower and picked it up. “Sorry, amigo, but rules are rules, and races are won!” The bee said.

In the end, the bee became the best known model in the history of bees, making his mother proud. He wore the flower in many ways and in many photoshoots. He was like a celebrity amongst humans and bees.  He was even scouted by a famous manager who managed his mom. The bee lived happily ever after, for right now!

 

The Girl Who Rode The Stuck Elevator

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who lived with her mother and her father. They lived in New York City. The father worked in the Empire State Building.

So, one day, her mother sent the little girl to the Empire State Building to give her father his lunch. From the little girl’s house to the Empire State Building was ten minutes by walking so, for the little girl, that was very little.

Once she got there, she told her name to the security guard who was standing right in front of her. Her name was Grace, and they let her in to go see her dad. She went into the elevator by herself. The elevator stopped in the middle of two floors and was stuck. She called for emergency services, but no one answered.

Finally, she tried again, and the lobby answered and said, “What’s the matter?”

Grace said, “The elevator is stuck between the third floor and the fourth floor.”

The lobby said, “I’ll get you out of there in five minutes.”

After five minutes, nothing happened. Grace called the lobby, and they said they were riding the other elevator to the fourth floor. She started to think that she would never get out of the elevator, but then she started to think of her dad. She said to herself, daddy will save me. I know he will.

While Grace was on the elevator, she heard a boom and crash. She felt herself falling down. The button on the top said level three. The elevator stopped. The doors opened, and she saw her father.

She ran out of the elevator and hugged her father. He said that he was the one who made all the noise.

Today, he was wearing blue jeans and a yellow shirt. His eyes were blue, and he went to work everyday, even on the weekends. He was six feet tall. And his name was Greg.  

While Grace was walking down the stairs, she bumped into a man. This man said that her mother was sick. But he looked suspicious. His watch was spinning the opposite way non-stop.

After Grace left, she headed to the library, but she found nothing about this sickness.

After Grace left the library, she headed back to her house.

When she got there, Grace entered the house, and there was no one there. She ran all the way back to the Empire State Building. Grace found her father and said that Mom was not at the house.

They raced out of the building and went home in the car. When they got home, they unlocked the door and went in the house. Nobody was there.

The father said to Grace, “I have to tell you something. The person you met on the stairway ate your mother. He could turn into a wolf whenever he wants to.”

So, they went to the Empire State Building, and they found the wolfman.

Grace said, “Where is my mother?!?”

Suddenly, the wolfman burped, and the mother came out of his throat. The wolf man ran down the stairs and left the building and never came back again. He ran away, because he thought that Mom would tell the police.

The mother hugged Grace and the father. Since it was the end of the day, they went home in the car.

When they got home, they had dinner. Grace told her mother about the elevator. And her mother told her about the travel in the wolfman’s stomach. It was very slimy and squishy.

The mother said, “I thought I would never get out, but then I did.”

And dad told them about his day at work. After dinner, they went to bed.

 

The End

 

Quest for the Leaf

Once there lived a beetle named Walter who was frustrated that he was ordinary. Every other beetle had different markings, like spots or stars, but all he had was plain, boring, white stripes. He wanted to make himself unique.

One afternoon, Walter was resting on a leaf in the thick shrubbery, watching the other beetles that were all better than him — more beautiful than him — go by, when he saw a glimmer in the distance, shimmering red. Curious, he peeked out beyond the leaves.

The glimmer was gone. He sighed.

“I guess no ordinary beetle like me will ever see anything exciting.”

He headed back to his leaf.

The next day, Walter saw a group of beetles, that he’d known for a long time, flying around and buzzing to each other. He flew over, expecting to be welcomed into the conversation.

When he came near the other beetles, he noticed that they flew away, ignoring him.

“Hey, it’s me, Walter. Remember?”

No reply came. Confused, he flew over to them, and before they could fly away again, he stopped them.

“We don’t want to hang out with boring, ugly beetles like you anymore,” one of them said.

The words hit him with the force of a brick wall. All he could do was hover in silence as his “friends” snickered and flew off.

With a heavy heart, Walter flew back to his leaf and decided he would never get off it again. He didn’t belong — all the other beetles were beautiful, and he was ugly!

His promise to himself was broken after a few days when he saw the glimmer again. Like a mystical force, it lured him off his leaf and into the sunshine. This time, the glimmer didn’t disappear. It seemed as if the shimmer was persisting, pulling him forward.

Dazed, Walter followed. Suddenly, he flew into a leaf and nearly fell off. He gripped the smooth, flat object with his legs and scrambled on.

Then he realized where he was.

He was in the human’s garden.

Every beetle, since they hatched from their egg, was taught to fear humans. Their folktales told of horrific things. Humans, ever since the beginning of time, had been tormenting beetles. They squashed them, stuck them with pins to be on display, and even roasted and ate them in some parts of the world.

Beetles in this area had been taught to never go near the garden, which was part of the nearest human’s territory. When Walter realized that he’d gone in, he gulped. How could he have let himself fly out of the shrubbery?

How could I let that stupid glimmer lead me to the human’s garden? He thought.

Then he saw it. A cool breeze blew the tree that Walter was resting on. There was a red flash, and a beautiful maple leaf fluttered down from above. It was perfectly shaped, and the edges of it were tinted orange. He stood there, dazed, and he forgot all about going into the human’s garden.

Determination filled his mind. He had to get the leaf to make himself better. He had to show the other beetles that he was just as beautiful as them.

Slowly and carefully, he crawled down the tree and reached his leg out to touch the leaf.

Suddenly, he heard a slam. He turned around quickly, just in time to see a human open the garden gate.

He stood there, unable to move, until he realized the danger that would befall him if he did not move away. Quickly, with a thudding heart, he flew back to a branch on the maple tree.

Phew, I’m safe. And then, as the human skipped over, he thought, Oh no — the maple leaf!

He nearly cried as the human bent down and picked up the leaf. It seemed to have as much admiration for the leaf as Walter did. But instead of using it to decorate itself, the human slipped the leaf into its pocket.

A sense of dread came over him. I’ll never be able to get the leaf back now… Unless…

Was he willing to take the risk of being killed for one leaf?

Without thinking, Walter flew into the human’s pocket, and again, felt the smoothness of the leaf. Walter grabbed the leaf in his pincers and pulled with all his might. Seeing the light coming in from the opening in the pocket, he beat his wings as hard as he could and flew to the light, but fell back when he heard a voice that belonged to a human.

“Isabella, it’s time for dinner!”

“I’ll be there in the second!” the human, Isabella, called back.

Oh, great! Walter knew that he was heading into the human’s territory. There was no escaping now, and if anyone found him, he would be killed.

Something big and warm reached into the pocket. It felt around for a second, nearly touching Walter. Then it grabbed the stem of the leaf and with almost no effort at all, took the leaf out. At the last second Walter grabbed on.

In that moment, Walter talked to himself. What are you doing? Do you want to get yourself killed?

Isabella moved, and for a second, he thought that she saw him. But Isabella was too rushed to notice a small beetle. She gently set the leaf down on the table and walked out of the room.

Walter was more relieved than he’d ever been when Isabella left the room. Now’s my chance to escape with the leaf, he thought.

He flew and crawled around the room for some time. Finally, he found a perfect escape path. The window above her bed was open a crack, just enough for Walter to crawl under with the leaf. Now the only problem was getting there.

Just crawling a few inches with the leaf tired Walter out, and flying was nearly impossible. Soon he felt just as helpless as he’d been in the tree, watching Isabella take the leaf.

The only thing that kept him moving was the thought of how the the other day his “friends” had said that they were done being friends with a boring, ugly beetle like him.

I have to do this, he thought, and dragged the leaf a couple more inches across the desk.  After using every bit of his might to drag the leaf to the edge of the desk, he heard the door knob turn.

Walter was sorry that he had to leave the leaf behind, but he had enough sense to fly to a corner of the room where the human would never find him.

Walter could see Isabella take what looked like big, colorful, human-shaped leaves and slipped into them. Then she spotted the leaf and asked herself, “How did that leaf get to the edge of my desk?” Then she saw that the window was open a crack and said, “Oh, it was just the wind.”

She let out a yawn and turned a white stick near the door down. The lights went off, and Walter couldn’t see anything. He would have to wait until tomorrow to get the leaf.

The next morning, Walter was awakened by the loud sound of a human’s voice. He looked up and saw that he was on the palm of a human hand. It took him a minute to realize what was going on — Isabella had found him. But he was shocked that the she hadn’t killed him already.

A cold feeling arose in his stomach. He closed his eyes and prepared to die, or worse.

Moments passed, and nothing happened. He saw that Isabella was moving him over to a clear box with dirt in it. Panicking, Walter flew away.

“Hey!” Isabella exclaimed.

But Walter couldn’t escape from the human. Quicker than a cheetah, she placed a cup on top of him and slid a paper board underneath the cup. With ease, she picked up the cup and again started to move toward the large glass box. Now all he could do was sit and wait.

The human came to the glass box and opened the lid. She dropped Walter, the cup, and the paper into it. The lid slammed shut.

This can’t be happening. Desperately, he flew around the box, looking for a hole or even a crack that he might be able to escape through. But no, there was no way to escape.

He didn’t even know what was going on, or what he should think. Why had Isabella put him in here? Should he feel grateful that she didn’t squash him, or angry that she had trapped him in this weird contraption?

The lid of the box screeched open, and for a second, Walter thought he could escape. But then the lid slammed shut again. Something drifted down from above. The leaf! It looked exactly the same, just as perfect as it had been before.

A loud, deep, slow voice vibrated the box.

“Eat the leaf,” the human seemed to bellow.

So this is what the human is doing to me? Making me eat that perfect, beautiful leaf? Walter backed away. No way was he going to eat it! He knew that it was the only thing that would make himself more beautiful.

Isabella’s face pressed against the side of the box. Her mouth turned down when she saw that Walter wasn’t eating the leaf. She looked unhappy, even worried.

“Maybe the leaf is too big,” The voice echoed again.

The lid screeched open again and Isabella reached in and took the leaf by its stem. She put it down by her desk on the side of the tank, and in front of Walter’s wide eyes, began to tear it into pieces. His heart shattered. How could that evil human destroy the only thing he wanted? How could it bear to destroy that beautiful leaf?

His life without the leaf flashed before his eyes. The other beetles snickered around him and called him ugly. He saw himself growing up all alone, nobody liking him. And then he saw himself slowly fade away as he died as an old beetle.

Walter trembled. He couldn’t live a life like that– he didn’t deserve to live a life like that. But nothing would ever change his life. He would just have to grit his teeth and live with it. His only thought now was to get back to the shrubbery. The leaf, his beautiful leaf, was gone, but at least he wouldn’t have to spend his life in a tiny box.

Somehow, he had to convince Isabella that he didn’t belong in the box. What did she think he was, a pet? He had to think of something. Obviously, he couldn’t just break through the wire mesh lid. He wasn’t that strong. Could he just try to annoy Isabella? No, there was no way she would be affected by him.

This wouldn’t do. Walter had to think of what he had, not what was out of his reach. So what was in the box? Dirt, leaves, twigs- Wait, maybe I could use something to break the wire mesh!

He grabbed the twig with his pincers and tried to punch a hole through the mesh. He couldn’t even make a dent. There had to be another way.

I have to trick Isabella. But how?  He racked his brain for ideas, but he couldn’t think of anything. I guess I’ll be stuck here forever, as an ugly, stupid beetle that nobody likes. But I’ll die if I’m stuck here forever!

In that moment of despair he thought of something. A common trick for beetles when they were facing predators was to pretend that they were dead. Most predators were birds, so he hadn’t thought of that earlier. Birds didn’t like eating beetles that looked as if they had been dead for a long time, so usually they left the beetles alone.

Maybe Isabella would feel the same, he thought. A burst of determination filled him. Despite the risk of being killed, he decided that he was going to do it.

As the minutes of anxiousness passed, Walter began to think about the terrible possibilities if the plan failed. Isabella could squash him, throw him in the huge, towering bin that unwanted things disappeared into, or even worse, pin him to a board for a display! But Isabella walked into the room, and there was no time to come up with another plan — he had to act!

As Isabella walked over to the box, Walter immediately flipped over on his back, closed his eyes, and made himself go limp. Fear of the plan going wrong nearly overcame him, but he forced himself to stay still.

He heard a loud gasp and the words that were music to his ears: “Eww, the beetle’s dead!” Isabella scooped him up in the cup and started to move. His heart dropped as they walked past the room with the bin. He could tell by the sizzling sounds of a human heating meat up or, as they called it, “cooking”. But Isabella walked right past it.

He felt victorious as the human opened the huge wooden block, he had learned the humans called “the door”, and walked into the cool air of the outside. He felt the cup drop to the ground, and the vibrations of Isabella’s footsteps getting weaker and weaker, until they were all gone.

He couldn’t believe how clever he was. Maybe he wasn’t so stupid and ugly after all. He actually had managed to escape from a human! Maybe it doesn’t matter how beautiful a beetle is on the outside — that doesn’t help with anything. Maybe I’m lucky. My beauty is on the inside, where I’m clever and compassionate. He couldn’t believe that he had risked his life just for a leaf to make himself more beautiful, when he was already beautiful in the way that mattered most. For a second, he thought of the other beetles taunting him, but he pushed that thought from his mind. As long as I like myself, I’ll be happy.

Filled with newfound confidence, he ventured home to the shrubbery, a place he knew he was never going to leave for anything again.

Soon, Walter’s life was almost back to normal again. He was back at the shrubbery, crawling and flying around leaves. Lots of leaves had already been half-eaten by other insects, and he was looking for fresh uneaten ones. Walter looked weary and tired. He hadn’t gotten any sleep when Isabella trapped him. And when he had gotten back to the shrubbery, the beetles had taunted him just as he expected. But he ignored them, and they left him alone. He’d finally gotten some peace and quiet. Then, as he gazed at the shimmering maple tree in the distance, it looked just as beautiful as it had been before. But Walter no longer wanted any of its leaves. He had realized that he already belonged.

 

Silent Dance

   

Characters:

SHYLA, 13

JOYCE, 10

ROSA, 9

 

Setting: Dance studio

SHYLA points for JOYCE to go left and ROSA to go right.

JOYCE and ROSA do so.

SHYLA steps back, shakes her head, and walks over to ROSA.

ROSA looks scared.

SHYLA puts her hands on ROSA’s shoulders and walks her over to JOYCE.

SHYLA puts her hands on JOYCE’s shoulders and walks her over to where ROSA used to be standing.

SHYLA steps back and nods.

JOYCE and ROSA open their mouths, about to break into song.

SHYLA stomps her foot and forms a T with both hands, the Time Out sign.

JOYCE and ROSA close their mouths, looking scared.

SHYLA walks over to the wall to a calendar that has all of the days crossed out until Saturday, May 13.

SHYLA points at a circled date, May 27, that has “8-10-year-old Fairstein Dance Company performance” written on it.

SHYLA measures with her fingers the distance between May 13 and May 27 and looks angrily at JOYCE and ROSA.

JOYCE and ROSA, who have been watching her, nod.

SHYLA motions her hands for JOYCE and ROSA to begin dancing.

JOYCE and ROSA run towards each other and try to leap but fall into a pile on the floor.

SHYLA rolls her eyes and stomps offstage.

 

The End

The Baby Panda Bear and Me

First, there was a baby panda bear and me. I was at the Bronx Zoo on July 8th  and saw a baby panda bear on the day of its adoption. The panda bear was a black and white yummy shish kabob, but I did not want to eat it. I wanted it as my pet.

My mom said, “No, because we already had a lot of pets.”

I was very mad and hit the book hard. I have six dogs, four cats, two little fish, and one big fish. I also have 5 baby elephants on my parent’s farm. Each and every animal had their own space and bed. Since I lived on a farm, the elephants had their own cages, the dogs had their own dog houses, the cats lived in spaces in the barn, and the fishes lived in a huge tank in my room.

I touched the cage because I wanted the panda so badly. I smelled a juicy hot dog that a man was selling across the street. But I didn’t care because I wanted the baby panda because it was cute, and it looked chubby. I begged my mom.

“Can I get that panda bear? It is my last pet, I promise.”

So, then my mom finally said, “Okay, Lucas,” and even my dad, brother, and sister said ‘okay.’ I named my baby panda Tom.

My brother said, “Lucas, I love the panda bear. It is very cute and chubby.”

Two zoo keepers walked towards me and asked me what I wanted and I said, “I want  another panda bear!”

But it was $100.00, so I punched the sign saying that off the cage.

My mom yelled “No!” and my dad and brother this time said “No.” I told my brother a secret, but my mom and dad knew I told him a secret.

“Why don’t you like the panda bear? It looks cute and chubby,” I whispered.

But someone already bought it so than we left the zoo. I was so mad all the way home at the end of the car trip.

I went to my bed and slept for an hour. Then, my dad and my brother woke me up, and the baby panda bear was sitting on my lap. I named my second panda bear Bob. Now, I was happy and the happiest I had ever been in my life, and so was the panda bear.

The next day, I told all my friends at school. They were jealous because my friend Nicholas only has one panda bear. Now, there are no more pets in the zoo at all because they were all adopted, so the zoo closed. Now, there are no more animals in the whole world, except some in my house and in Nicholas’ house.

 

THE END

 

The Ninth Tree

Bert the bee was a very happy bee. Most bees would always worry about the honey needing to be made, and the conditions of the queen bee. Bert decided there was more to life than that.

There was a huge yard, and there were nine trees. There were nine hives. Eight of the hives had about 30,000 bees. The ninth hive had only a hundred. The ninth hive held different types of bees than the ones that worshipped the queen. Those bees started a new civilization in the ninth tree. Most bees in the first tree followed all the others in worshipping the queen, but there were some, like Bert, who wanted to follow another path to the ninth tree.

Those other bees wouldn’t sting people for coming near the hive. They wanted to join the ninth tree civilization. There was one problem to get to the ninth tree though. Kira. A human guard. If a bee attempted to enter and join the ninth tree, they would be killed. Instantly. Somehow, the queen had a connection or a controlling device on Kira. Some bees figured that out and tried to help Kira. Basically the queen bee was getting control of Kira’s mind and controlling it in ways unknown to bee kind. The queen was too fat to move, so she needed someone else to take care of the bees escaping to the ninth tree

Bert had been coming up with a plan to not only save Kira, but to also escape and happily live in the ninth tree. The only way to shut down the queen bee’s abnormal device was to manually access it. Bert needed to face the queen bee and stop her in a bee-to-bee showdown. The problem with Bert’s plan was that he didn’t know how the queen bee’s mind control device worked. And he would have to take down the guards before getting to the actual queen. He would take down the guards with a distraction.

Currently, Bert was a respected bee and would be able to have a bit more luck getting to the guards. There were eight bee ranks: (1) Queen Bee (2) Guard Bee (3) Servant Bee (4) Respected Bee (5) Respected Bee helper (6) Male Worker Bee (7) Female Worker Bee (8) Cleaner Bee. The higher rank you were, the nicer your room was, and the more respected you were.

The way the other bees got to the ninth tree was by temporarily disabling the mind control device. Bert just had to access it. Bert knew that all bees were attracted to light. So he could use it to distract the five guards. He created a mini light source from gathering things around the hive.

He would use a couple of things around the tree, like some of the bark from the tree as a protection layer, and an electric wire, and honey. Bert found the wire near the bottom of the tree. The honey was a conductor, and the wire let the energy flow through to the cracked bulb he found in the storage room. Bert also knew the guards would try to attack if they figured out his plan.

Bert was very, very smart and had a defense mechanism. A bee taser. He used an extra piece of the electric wire and, after a while, managed to produce some volts. It didn’t need to charge because there was a separate tube for honey storage that self charged the taser.

In the most powerful taser, there were 50,000 volts. This would instantly knock out a human and disintegrate a bee. Now, Bert would never be able to get his little bee hands on 50,000 volts. But 10 volts would stun a bee. Bert needed to test it. And since Bert couldn’t tell ANYONE about this, he had to test it on himself. ZAP! Wow, that hurt. But he kept telling himself that it was for a good reason. The right reason.

Bert also believed that the queen bee had mind controlled some of the other bees to get them to do what she wanted. Bert also thought that the queen bee wasn’t really her massive size. Her size was just a protecting layer that could be taken, or forced, off. Here was Bert’s plan. First, head over towards the guards and try to use the mini flash light to attract the guards. Now, the only reason that would work was because it was very dark in the hive. Hopefully they would go over and stay attracted to it. If that didn’t work, then Bert would use his taser, which would be a surprise to the guards. Hopefully that wouldn’t happen though. Once Bert got past the guards, he would advance through the series of locked doors with electronic keypads. None of the bees should have any electric power, so they would have to manually open the door.

The main reason Bert made the taser was to fry the keypads so the door would open, but, if he had to, he could also use it for defense. Bert didn’t have the next part of the plan because he didn’t know what the queen would do. Bert had been in his room for more time than usual, working on his plan, but he didn’t want anyone getting suspicious, so he decided to go out of his room and talk with some of the other bees in the hive. He went over to his best friend, who was also Rank 4, a respected bee.

“Hey, Bert!” Ken said. (Ken was Bert’s friend.)

“What up, Ken! How’ve you been doin’?”

“Pretty good. I just finished my shift of serving food to the bees,” Ken stated.

“I got up bright and early for my shift, but now I have the rest of the day to myself!” Bert said with a smile.

“Bert, I’ve been wondering how the queen bee is controlling the worker bees,” Ken said, with a lowered voice. “Well, she has to, because none of them would actually do what she says because they all hate her.”

Bert was thinking about telling Ken about his plan, so maybe it wouldn’t be as hard.

“Ken, can we go up to your room for a minute?”

“Yeaaah… why?”

“You’ll see. Just hurry please.”

In Ken’s room, Bert revealed his plan.

“Okay, Ken, so I have been working on a plan to save Kira and take down the queen bee. Just let me finish, and I know it sounds crazy. But I have devised a plan, and some weapons, AND some distractions to get past the guards and face the queen bee.”

“Hold up, you know we all hate the queen bee, but do you really think you could pull off something that crazy?” Ken asked.

“Yes. Of course. Like I said, I have a plan I have been working on for months. Are you in or out?” Bert asked.

“Oh, fine, but hey, I need a weapon or someth-”

“I’ve got you covered, Ken. I made a backup sword. You can use it,” Bert interrupted. Ken slung it around his abdomen.

“I trust you, so let’s go.”

The two bees stealthily went down the long corridor towards the area of guards. They approached and were greeted by the guards.

“You shouldn’t be here, Bert. Ken. What do you need? And make it quick,” the first guard said.

Bert didn’t answer, but flicked his homemade flashlight on and threw it. The guards didn’t move.

“You guys don’t wanna go to the light?” Bert quizzingly asked.

“In our goggles, we have UV ray protection, so right now we see everything mostly blue. We aren’t attracted to that light because the goggles block it. Now why? Is that a distraction to stop the queen bee or what? Bert, we aren’t stupid,” the guard finished.

“Well, neither am I,” Bert said, advancing towards the guards.

“Bert, what do we do?!” Ken yelled.

“The backup plan,” Bert whispered back.

Five versus two wasn’t the best matchup, however, the guards had no weapons. Bert had his taser, and Ken had a sword. This evened the playing field. The two weapons were drawn out and held forward.

“Let us through. We won’t cause any commotion,” Bert bargained.

“No, can’t do that. FORWARD!” the main guard yelled.

Three guards advanced towards Bert and two towards Ken.

“You can do this, Ken!” Bert supported him.

Bert dodged a punch from one guard and electrified him to the floor. The other two faced Bert and one tackled him. The taser fell, and Bert was down.

“BERT!”

Ken tried to help, but his sword was used against him, and he got jabbed hard in the back. Ken fell. Bert struggled, pushing over the guard and punching him back to the ground, then giving him one last punch to keep him down. Two guards remained. One was the stronger, and the other was the weaker. Bert picked up the weaker guard, which took him by surprise, and flung him over his shoulder. Bert had been practicing to fight. The final guard stood tall, facing Bert.

“I took out your friend, and now you.”

Bert looked at the taser on the floor. The honey had spilled out so the power was gone. And the sword had snapped from being smashed too hard. Fist fight. Bert flew into the air and zipped towards the guard. At the last second, he hopped out of the way. Bert once again laid on the floor. The guard came over and took a big swing at Bert’s face. He rolled over just in time, so the guard yelped in pain. He hit the floor hard and fell over. Bert tossed him over to the side. None of the guards were dead, but Bert felt like he was after that battle. He sank to the floor in exhaustion. He had actually gotten by the first area. He felt pain and blood. He quickly took off his shirt and tightly wrapped it around the wound. Then Bert remembered Ken.

“Ken, no, no, are you good?” Bert pleaded.

“Bert, go… g-get past… the queen, finish… her. Bert, we need you…” Ken’s eyes closed, and his hand dropped.

“NOOOOOOOO!” Bert screamed.

He ran over to the guard he knocked out and found what he was looking for. The passkey. He could open the doors with it because he couldn’t fry the keypads now that the taser was broken. He was going to attack the queen bee for Ken. Then Bert realised something. There was a possibility he could still save Ken. He thought he could save Ken by using the power source of the mind control device.  It was only a matter of time. He threw Ken over his shoulder and ran towards the first door. As he raced through the hive, the queen figured out what was happening and told the guards. She expected only Bert to come and be knocked out by the five guards. But it happened the other way.

“Ah, Bert, I’ve been waiting. It’s about time. I believe you are after the power source to shut down my strength? Well, there is more to it than you think. This device, the mind control device, can give you powers. Or it could kill you if done incorrectly.”

“JUST LET THE HUMAN GO!” (Kira the human was being mind controlled by the Queen, and Bert wanted to let her go) Bert yelled, rushing at the Queen.

Before he could reach the queen, she exploded out of her armor. Bert was smashed back into the top of the wall. The queen zipped forwards to Bert and picked him up by his feet and held him up to the wall. Bert was right, she wasn’t actually her huge size.

“Bert, I AM THE HUMAN. I can be the queen bee AND Kira at the same time. You are finished Bert!” The queen bee yelled.

“No, I’m not,” Bert said confidently, surprising the queen.

Bert figured out that without the power source, the queen bee and Kira would both die. Bert needed a distraction to get the power source, though. Bert had no time, and he saw it in the corner. And he ran for it. The queen, still shocked, wasn’t fast enough to catch him. Bert rammed into the source which made the queen fly back. She lay there drained, but not dead. Bert then ran to Ken and tried to jump start him with what remained of the power source. But he was too slow, and Ken was gone. Bert couldn’t believe it. Ken was really gone.

***

Bert was in the first tree, the first hive. Bert was King Bee, in charge of all the others.  There had to be a leader, so Bert was there. Bert still had scars and marks from his battle with the queen bee. He thought about what he’d went through and all the hard times. The secrecy and pain. The queen was doing what she had to do and what needed to be done. Now, it was Bert who took her place. Bert looked out on all the bees and knew they needed a strong leader. It was his time.

 

Ninja Fight

Three hundred years ago, two ninjas got in a fight, one very dumb ninja and a smart and skilled ninja. The dumb ninja, who was named Mighty Sword, challenged the smart and skilled ninja, Legend Speed. The dumb ninja wanted to show Legend Speed that he was better. The dumb ninja thought that weapons were better than skill.

The skilled ninja was trained by the best ninja in the world, and the dumb ninja was trained by the richest and one of the worst ninjas in the world. Mighty Sword’s teacher was from an evil world. The evil teacher taught Mighty Sword an evil power. They were from the same village. The dumb ninja got his diamond sword and practiced his evil power, the power would turn the smart ninja into a frog. The smart ninja got his stone and iron sword. While the ninjas were walking to the arena, the villagers whispered to each other. Most of them thought the dumb ninja would win.

The two doors opened. Both ninjas entered the arena. They looked fiercely at each other. The referee blew the whistle, and the two ninjas charged at each other. Legend Speed obviously got there first and hit him on the arm. The dumb ninja twirled around.

After about three seconds, the dumb ninja stopped spinning and threw his sword at Legend Speed. Legend Speed did a backflip and dodged the sword. Legend Speed got the dumb ninja’s sword and threw it at the dumb ninja. Mighty Sword luckily caught the sword. Mighty Sword put the sword down and got ready to use his evil power.

After a few seconds, Mighty Sword shot a dark purple blast of evil electricity and turned the crowd into frogs so they couldn’t stop him. Then, he shot at Legend Speed, who walked away and then somehow teleported behind Mighty Sword and kicked him onto the arena wall. The reason Legend Speed has powers is because he has hidden powers.

Mighty Sword turned around and saw a fireball coming at his face. He saw the fireball and he jumped to the side. When he got up, he saw the edge of a sword right in front of him.

Mighty Sword slowly stood up and surrendered. Legend Speed told Mighty Sword to turn the crowd back to human. Mighty Sword turned the crowd back and turned himself into a mouse and ran away.

 

The End

 

Sleeping Beauty (by the Evil Fairy)

Once upon a time, there were a king and a queen. The queen was about to have a daughter, the princess. After a while, they had an ugly, spoiled daughter. They decided to have a christening for the princess, hoping that the fairies could change her. Since they only had six gold plates, they only invited six fairies. Obviously, the court could have easily afforded to buy one more set of golden silverware and plates, for the seventh fairy, but the king and queen were too lazy.

After having a delicious dinner it was time for the princess to receive her gifts. The first fairy gave her beauty, so on the outside, she would be a beautiful maiden, but on the inside, she wouldn’t. Of course, the princess, being as horrible as she was, became super vain.

The second gift was wit. The princess misinterpreted it and became so witty, that she knew everything that was going on and if the maids were following her every order.

The third gift was grace, and it made her so dainty that she couldn’t do anything for herself.

Then she received dance. Being an amazing dancer, she could fool any prince to love her and then break his heart.

Then she got the gift of song. She was like the sirens and drew everyone in.

The last fairy gave her goodness, but she did the spell wrong, so the king and queen’s wish wasn’t fulfilled.

The seventh fairy felt horrible for being left out, but being the good fairy she was, she came to give the princess a gift. Since she more powerful than the sixth fairy, she thought she could do the trick to make the princess good.

When she entered, everyone looked at her in awe. She took long strides toward the crib. It rocked back and forth, lulling the baby to sleep. The princess looked beautiful, with one cute tuft of jet black hair. As she peeked over the crib, the baby opened her gray eyes and slapped the good fairy. Then she grabbed the wand from the fairy’s hand. She gripped the wand viciously and cursed herself. The spell she performed made her prick her finger at the age of 16 and fall asleep for 100 years. Of course, no one ever suspected the princess. They all blamed it on the fairy.

The king and queen were very worried about their daughter because of the curse. They sent their daughter to live with three fairy godmothers until a week after she was 16. They also collected all the spinning wheels in the kingdom and burned them until all that was left were ashes. That way, they destroyed the forest that the seventh fairy had created for them to apologize for bringing the wand and letting the princess get cursed. The poor fairy got so angry that it made her  bitter, angry, sad and lonely, and she became an evil fairy with horns, a scepter, and dark robes.

The young princess grew to be a beautiful girl, though she was the most spoiled brat that had ever existed. One day, she met a young prince riding through the woods. She tried to impress him, but the prince had been there at her christening and knew how spoiled she was. In the end, the princess, now named Briar Rose, was almost able to charm him, but he had to ride off to go hunting. That day, the princess was returned to the castle. She wandered around and explored all but one tower. She left that tower for the next day when her parents had to go to do some royal business.

The princess went up to the top of the tower, her dress draping behind her. Sitting in the circular room, there was a woman with a wooden spinning wheel. She motioned for Rose to try. When Rose tried, she pricked her finger and fell asleep. The whole court fell asleep with her, and when the king and queen entered, they also fell asleep.

You may have heard that the seventh fairy kept the prince away from the princess because she was jealous. Actually, the fairy did not let the prince reach the princess because that way, he didn’t have to suffer the fate of marrying the horrible princess. Sadly, she failed.

Of course, the prince didn’t want marry the princess anyway, so he died of depression, died some other way, or murdered himself. But, I know that you readers wouldn’t like that, so I will just say that “THEY LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.”

(Even though I was hated for the rest of eternity.)

 

The End

 

The Kangaroo

Prologue

Hello, my name is John Scott. Today we will be filming and studying one of Australia’s most famous animals, the kangaroos, with world famous nature and animal researcher, Noah Norris.

We will also have an interview with Noah Norris in a segment we call, “Talking with the Nature’s Wildest.” But back to the search.

***

We’re traveling in a car… It’s extremely hot! As we pass some mildly wild koalas, we turn to Noah for information:

“Noah, what can you tell us about these koalas?”

“Well, John, these male koalas are all fighting on the ground to impress the female koala in the tree so one of them can be her mate.”

“Well, Noah, one seems to be ripping apart the two others. Do you think that he is going to win? You must see this all the time.”

“Yes, all the time. One thing for sure, John, is that only the most fit and the most cruel rule the animal kingdom.”

We travel to a waterhole to await the kangaroos…

“Near this waterhole is where we’re going to rest. Keep your eyes peeled for any magnificent kangaroos.”

Two kangaroos approach and scout for any predators. It is nighttime.

“John, John, JOHN!”

“What, what, wuuh?”

John awakens from sleep.

“Observe as two scouts from a troop of kangaroos scout the area for any sneaky predators that might jump or scare them while drinking water.”

“CRIKEY,” says one of the camera crew.

“Quiet down! You might scare one of the scouts.”

One of the scouts perk up its ears but doesn’t locate the crew. They go away.

The next day, the troop of kangaroos approach, but it does not look like they are okay. They are bruised and bloody.

“Noah, why are the kangaroos so hurt?”

“I don’t know, John. This is rare and different. Maybe a predator attack.”

“Noah, on those kangaroos, there are bruises and blood. It does not look like they got bit or scratched or shot by humans or predators.”

“This is so weird. Never in all of my years of study have I seen a troop of kangaroos that were hurt. Not with scratches, shots, or bites.”

The kangaroos hear a rustle in the bushes and scream out, “Get out of those bushes, mate! Our scouts have seen you. No need to hide any more.”

The crew comes out of the bushes and show themselves. Noah comes up to the kangaroo who called them and says, “WHAT? I didn’t know that kangaroos could talk!”

“Well, mate, the whole animal kingdom can talk depending on which country and which accent. We just don’t talk because we’re afraid of humans like you hunting us down to sell us to a circus and get paid some money. I heard that it can be very unpleasant. OH, and my name is Nick.”

“Why do you have bruises and blood?”

“I’ll tell you a story: Once upon a time, we kangaroos were all united to protect each other from you guys, but something terrible happened. One day, the northern kangaroos acquired a lollipop. They made it sacred, and protected it 24/7, but one day, it just simply disappeared!

The northern side declared war on the eastern, western, and southern sides. The northern side has already smashed and crushed the east and west. We have just lost a battle. I fear the worst if we lose this war. Humanity can come to an end!!!”

“I feel your pain. In World War II, a man called Hitler destroyed our forces, but with hope and help, we smashed him and won!”

“This Hitler character may not be as cruel as the leader, Bob!”

Weird and intense music and sound effects start to play.

“He is the one that started the massacre. The evil animal was ignored and hated by his parents. He learned to be tough. He said he looked up to Hitler. Now that you mention him, I heard Hitler was evil, so now I know why he is so cruel.”

“We have to stop him, and with your human technology, we can destroy Bob!”

They ride off to the east, where it is more comfortable and where the Bob is going to live. It is night, and it is nippy. They are at a valley.

“Got the eggs, TP, paintball guns, feathers, flour, goo and fake chickens, Noah.”

“Indubitably.”

“Just say yes.”

“Okay, you got your kangaroos ready to fight, Nick?”

“Yeah.”

“We’re ready.”

At night, our heroes spot Bob and his crew going to their new home.

Nick screams, “ATTACK!”

Kangaroos fight each other. Paintballs hit kangaroos. Fake chickens, TP, and eggs are being thrown.

“No, not pranks. Why can’t you play fairly?” Bob said. “All this over a sacred lollipop relic!!!”

Blood is on the ground…

“Nick, we can do this.”

He jumps on the battlefield with a sword.

“NO, NOAH. DON’T!!!”
Noah gets into a fight with a kangaroo while John, on a helicopter, films it all. Then Bob pushes away the other kangaroo and defeats/kills Noah. Nick sees Noah fall and starts to cry and scream, “NOOO, NOAH. WHYYYY!!!”

Nick, with all his power, smashes Bob’s face into a cactus. Bob does not move, and the northern kangaroos surrender and apologize for their behavior and give the east and west their lands back. All the kangaroos meet up and give the most memorable funeral with Nick, John, the crew, all the kangaroos, and people from all around the world. As a little boat with Noah on it sails away, they shoot a fiery arrow onto the boat.

Nick bursts in tears and whispers, “It didn’t have to end like this.”

P.S. Nick makes a united kangaroo democracy and becomes a fair leader all in name of Noah.

 

 The End

 

Gem World

Once upon a time, there was another planet called Gem World. There were three cities: Sapphire City (the capital, where Chapter One takes place), Ruby City, and Heaven City.

 

Chapter One

In Sapphire City, there were only women, but they could still have babies. In the city, there was a mine called Saphria Mine. In Saphria Mine, you mined for sapphires. The sapphires weren’t out in the open, so you still had to mine for them. But the evil queen named Jewelia wanted all the sapphires for herself. If you mined a sapphire and kept it, then you would be killed. The Gem takers (a.k.a Jewelia’s guards) would come and personally take your sapphire. She locked away (in the same cell) her four other sisters: their names were Emerald, Opal, Amethyst, and Ruby. They had to get an emerald, opal, ruby, amethyst, and a sacred piece of sapphire that only the queen had. Once they hatched their plan, they sat there like nothing happened. Then the princess (named Delilah, the queen’s daughter) came in. She had the keys to their cell.

 “Come close,” she said, then whispered, “You know your plan, I will betray my mother and set you free. You must leave immediately.”

“Okay,” said the four sisters together.

Delilah whispered, “You know your strengths. Like Auntie Opal, you are powerful with opals.”

The four women left the castle and Delilah ran to her mother, “Oh Mother! Oh Mother! Someone has released the four girls! I was just going to give them dinner when I saw the cage was open!” She said.

Jewelia replied, “Send out the guards!”

 

Chapter Two

The four girls ran further and further away from the palace. Emerald stopped and panted.

“Okay,” she said. “Let’s go first to the Majesty Mountains, where we know the opals are, because that is Opal’s special place.”

Each one of them had been born in a different place, and that was the place they loved most. So it stood to reason that when the queen asked the magical gems to scatter themselves around Gem World, the gems had gone to their special places.

Opal knew where the Majesty Mountains were, so she led the trek. The trek lasted five days, but there was a boiling, hot, day-sun and freezing, cold, night-wind. Finally, they came to the Majesty Mountains.

“Wow,” Amethyst breathed.

And she was right. The Majesty Mountains were… well… majestic. They towered over the four girls like Queen Jewelia had always done. But instead of Queen Jewelia’s evil aura, these mountains, the snow caps purple and red with the setting sun, had a kind aura.

“I’ve got an idea of where my opal is,” Opal said. “The dragon, Flame, finds all the jewels in the Majesty Mountains and hides them in his lair. He won’t let anyone take them. But don’t worry, I’ve got my bow and arrow.”

“Are you crazy, Opal? It’s a dragon!” Ruby cried.

The others nodded.

“It’s our only chance,” Opal replied softly. “Do you want to overthrow Jewelia or not?” She led them into a dark, damp cave. Emerald lit a lantern.

“Um, guys?” she said, seeing the charred stone walls. “I think the dragon is over there.” As if on cue, the girls heard an earth-shattering roar! Flames shot out of the tunnel. The girls ran into the tunnel. Emerald’s lantern flickered out, and as their eyes adjusted to the darkness, the four girls began to make out a gigantic winged shape.

ROAR!”

The flame that the dragon shot out lit Emerald’s lantern again. They saw human skulls on the floor and jumped back in fright. Opal tried to shoot the dragon with her bow and arrow, but it just bounced off the tough, green scales. She had an idea. She ran towards the dragon.

“Opal, stop!” Amethyst called, but Opal was on a roll.

She aimed at the dragon’s unprotected eye and shot. A perfect shot. The dragon fell, howling in pain. Opal sprinted towards the dragon’s body, used the sharp tip of an arrow to rip the scales away from the dragon’s chest, and dug the arrow into the thrashing dragon’s heart. Flame fell, dead. The other girls ran to Opal. Opal saw four glowing gems.

“My opals!” she cried and grabbed the jewels.

The girls walked out of the cave, victorious.

“Next, we have to find my amethyst,” Amethyst said.

 

Chapter Three

The girls had travelled for about four hours until they reached a gemtroll bridge.

“Answer my riddle, and you may pass into the Quartz Forest,” the gemtroll grumbled in a gravelly voice.

Amethyst, the logical one, stepped forward.

“Bring it on, troll!”

“Many years ago, a wealthy man was near death. He wished to leave his fortune to the wisest of his children. The man proclaimed that his estate would be left to the child who would sing him half as many songs as days he had left to live. Both of the man’s sons said that they did not know how many days their father had left to live. The man ended up leaving the money to his daughter. What did she do?”

“Wow, troll, I didn’t think you could think up a riddle like that. But my answer is that the daughter sang to him every second day.”

“Curses! You may pass,” the troll said, with just a hint of admiration.

As Amethyst and her sisters trekked into the Quartz forest, she started hearing voices. The trees were made completely of quartz.

“Hey, Amethyst, did you know you’re only a variation of quartz? You’re not as important. Opal is the national stone of Australasia. Emeralds are much more valuable. And Ruby.. .well, she thinks you’re a joke.”

“Stop that!” Amethyst yelled.

“Ami, are you alright?” Ruby said in a soft voice.

“No. I’m. Not. I know you think I’m a joke. Don’t talk to me!”

“Ami, this forest is messing with you. Push it out of your head. Remember all the great times we had together? The real goal is defeating Jewelia.”

“Thanks, Ruby. I’m sorry for lashing out like that. Let’s find the amethysts!”

As the squad walked, they noticed that the air had a slight purple tinge. They followed the path, until they reached a grove. There was a slight depression in the ground. Emerald studied the ground.

“There seems to be a message here. It says, ‘Quartz Temple, 7:30pm!’ Apparently, Jewelia needs a reminder of where she put the jewels.”

They waited until 7:30. Suddenly, a loud rumbling noise commenced. A huge building came out of the ground. “Whoa!” they exclaimed together. Inside the temple, there was a maze. The four soon got lost, but Amethyst knew a trick.

“Put your hand on one wall, and keep going and keep going.”

Soon, they arrived in the center. There was nothing except for a scroll.

“How can I find the amethysts?” she wrote.

“You must find the key.” The words appeared on the scroll in deep purple ink. “To find the key, you must answer my question.”

“Another? Alright then,” Amethyst replied.

“I have a name, but it isn’t my name. My face shows signs of age. I always mean the same thing, no matter what I say. I’m born in the morning but last until the end of days. Men plant me, but I never grow. They run from me, but I never move. They look at me and see their future, rotting in the fields where I bloom. What am I?”

“Oh, this sounds hard, Ami,” Opal mused. “Do you think you can handle it?”

“Well, of course I can,” Amethyst replied softly.

“A tombstone,” she wrote.

The scroll disappeared, and the quill turned into a key.

“Over here, Ami. I see a chest!” Emerald cried.

Amethyst fit the key in. The chest popped open. Inside were four beautiful, purple amethysts.

“We did it!” they chorused.

“It’s time now to find the rubies!” Ruby said.

Amethyst smiled. She now had her confidence back.

 

Chapter Four

After they found the Amethysts, Ruby cried out, “Let’s go find the rubies! To the Ruby River!”

It was a very long journey down from the Quartz Forest. They had to pass five forests, day and night, before reaching the forest that hides Ruby River. Amethyst was so excited that she just ran in. But there was a force field around the forest that propelled them back. “Oh Amethyst,” Ruby laughed. “Of course there’s a riddle like everything else.” Ruby touched the force field with her hand. She went up, down, left, right, left, right.

Suddenly, the force field started talking and said, “I have a riddle for you. If you pass, you will make way to the Ruby River.”

“I’ll answer it,” said Ruby.

“Okay,” said the force field. “Here we go: a thief enters a shop and threatens the clerk, forcing him to open the safe. The clerk says, ‘The code for the safe is different every day, and if you hurt me, you’ll never get the code.’ But the thief manages to guess the code on his own. How did he do it?” The force field starts laughing, “No one has ever guessed this one.”

“Well, force field,” said Ruby. “It’s fairly simple. The code is ‘different.’ The clerk told him so!”

“No one has managed to answer this riddle, yet you are the smartest of them all! You have passed!”

The force field broke to reveal a path.

“Come on, guys!” shouted Ruby, “To the Ruby River!”

As they were walking, they heard a strange noise.

“What is that?” asked Emerald.

“Don’t worry,” replied Ruby. “It’s just the wind on the flowers. They make it scary to get people out.”

After a five minute walk, they made it to Ruby River! How are we going to find the rubies? Ruby dived, head first, into the river.

“Ruby!” said Opal.

But it was no use, Ruby was gone. Ruby was swimming down the river, when she saw a door. She touched the door and realized she had to answer another riddle. She took her finger and touched the door twice. The door opened to reveal a scroll and a quill. She went to the scroll, and the quill, and read the riddle. It said, “A woman is sitting in her hotel room when there is a knock at the door. She opens the door to see a man whom she has never seen before. He says, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I have made a mistake, I thought this was my room.’ He then goes down to the corridor and into the elevator. The woman goes back into her room and phones security. What made the woman so suspicious of the man?”

Ruby thought for a while. It did not take long for Ruby to figure out why.

“You don’t knock on your own hotel door, and the man did,” she replied.

After she wrote it, the scroll disappeared, the door shut, and rocks piled in from of the door, and four bright, red rubies flew down from the ceiling. She took them and tried to open the door. The door was locked! She looked around and found a knife and a box cutter. She took the box cutter, and a rock, and carved an arrowhead. She took the arrowhead and threw it at the door. The door opened, and she went through it. Holding out the rubies, she jumped out of the water and gave the rubies to each of them, and they inserted them in their crowns.

“Okay,” said Emerald. “Time to find the emeralds!”

“Wait, we still have to get out from the force field, so we will have to solve another riddle.” She tapped the force field as she did earlier.

It said, “A man wants to enter an exclusive club, but he doesn’t know the password. Another man walks to the door and the doorman says, ‘Twelve.’ The man says, ‘Six,’ and is let in. Another man walks up and the doorman says, ‘Six.’ The man says, ‘Three,’ and is let in. Thinking he had heard enough, he walks up to the door and the doorman says, ‘Ten.’ He says, ‘Five,’ and isn’t let in. What should he have said?”

Amethyst interrupted Ruby and said, “He said it correctly!”

Everyone but Ruby agreed.

“Fine,” said Opal. “Go solve it, Ruby.”

Ruby stepped up and said, “Three. He should have said how many letters were in the number he said.”

The force field opened, and Emerald stepped forward and said, “Come on! Let’s go find the emeralds!”

 

Chapter Five

Emerald was the type of girl who was kind and loving but was very, very sad. Emerald was always so sad because after her sisters decided on this quest, she knew where the Emeralds were, and she did not want to go back there. She wished that she could heal that sadness, but she never really knew how. Until she got the emeralds, the emeralds held the ancient power of healing the feelings of sadness. Emerald knew she had the most difficult quest of all. She had to get through the windy sand dunes. The windy sand dunes were the most windy place in all of Gem World. Anyone who dared enter the windy sand dunes would be blown away, except for them, the Gem Sisters (which is what Emerald and her sisters were called.) She had to get through the forcefield, and the riddle, and the sand, and wind itself. Then, the other riddle and forcefield to get back. This was horrible. Opal, Ruby, and Amethyst had already gotten their gems. She did not know if she was up for it. After so many hours of convincing, she finally agreed to go.

It took four whole weeks (aka, a month) when they finally got to the sand dunes. They got to the forcefield, and this was the riddle: What word has 26 letters, but only three syllables?

Emerald knew this answer by heart. She had been practicing it for days. Confidently, she replied, “The alphabet.”

The guardian, something much like a sphinx, angrily let them pass. The wind in the sand spread apart, making a clear path to the cave. Walking there took one hour. Inside, the biggest, ugliest, most horrifying (to anybody, in fact) mixture of a troll, giant, and an eagle appeared. It had a beak like an eagle, wings like an eagle, a face like a troll, and the size and feet of a giant. But Emerald had made friends with this giant.

Just as it was getting ready to give the most horrifying shrill, Emerald had said, “Quirky, Quirky! Remember me, I’m Emerald!”

The green aura of her hair shined. Quirky remembered and closed his mouth immediately.

Then, he replied, “Who are these girls?”

“My sisters! We were separated. Do you have gems? The ones I asked you to protect before I came to get them with three other girls?” asked Emerald.

“Yes, I have it, here you go,” replied Quirky.

The riddle on the way back was much, much easier: I’m tall when I’m young, and short when I’m old. Who am I?

“Oh, this one’s easy!” Emerald replied. “A candlestick,” she proudly announced.

“Darnit, you smart Emerald girl!” replied the Sphinx-like thing. T

hey made it back home in time to hide their jewels and crowns from the guards.

 

Chapter Six

Back home (in the jail cell), they had to hatch a new plan.

Jewelia said, “Ha! Ha! HA! You could never outsmart me, you four, puny, little sisters!”

“Hello?” Opal said bravely. “We just did.”

The girls took out their gems and showed them to Jewelia. Jewelia made a wild grab for them but missed. The gems were just out of Jewelia’s reach.

Cautiously, Ruby grabbed the gems and put them back in the girls’ crowns, so Jewelia couldn’t take them.

“I see that your idiotic little minds were ‘smart’ enough to steal the gems. But you still need the sacred sapphire if you want to overthrow me — and I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.”

Jewelia showed the girls one flash of the sapphire, then locked it back in its chest.

“If you want the sapphire, you have to go through the obstacle room in the palace. The chest with the sapphire will be on the other side. But I highly doubt that you will be smart enough to make it through the obstacle room.”

“I highly doubt that you’re right,” Emerald muttered under her breath. Then said louder, “Bring it on.”

Two Gem Takers took the four girls to the entrance of the obstacle room. The door was made of pure sapphire and rolled up when the smaller one of the Gem Takers used their fingerprints to unlock it.

“This obstacle course was made personally by the smartest inventor in the land,” the larger Gem Taker said.

“Since you’re not smart enough to make it yourselves!” Amethyst retorted.

“I don’t think you four girls are even smart enough to make it through the obstacle room, let alone create it,” the smaller one said.

“Oh, I disagree,” Ruby said. “You’ll see the level of our intelligence very soon.”

“If you girls are so great, then go.”

The larger Gem Taker pushed the girls into the obstacle room. Inside, they saw their mother’s ghost.

Emerald stepped forward.

“MOM!!!” She ran to hug the ghost. Unfortunately, she passed right through her.  A few giggled about that. But they knew how she felt. Emerald was always so emotional about their mother’s death. They all took turns talking with their mom. When it was time to leave, Emerald was crying. The rest of the sisters took turns comforting her.

When they got to a door, it spoke.

“You have passed the first challenge,” Jewelia’s voice said.

The sisters stepped over the threshold to find a lone mirror on the wall. Amethyst stepped forward. She saw herself as a slave in the house of her sisters. Ruby, Opal, and Emerald were commanding her to, “Solve this, solve that!” She knew she was less important. Does this mirror show the future? she thought. Amethyst stumbled backward, too afraid to tell her sisters.

Suddenly, Amethyst noticed that the mirror was made of quartz, just like in the forest. Now she knew what her weakness was. Quartz was poisoning her thoughts, all in the name of Jewelia. She fought back, going into the Pensieve of her mind, searching for good memories.

“Ami… the mirror is disappearing!” Opal cried.

“Good,” Amethyst said.

As the mirror melted away, overpowered by happiness, they could see a door.

“You have passed the second challenge,” Jewelia droned on, with an air of contempt.

Through the door, Opal could see a scroll unrolling on the wall. She rushed toward it. On the scroll, it was written:

Think before you speak,

Or else your future will be bleak.

This is for Opal to solve

And nobody else.

OR ELSE.

Opal sighed. She knew that she wasn’t good at thinking ahead. When she got an idea, she ran for it, not thinking about anything else. Sometimes that led to a fantastic stroke of luck, and a saving grace, but more often it led to a whole mess of trouble. But she knew that if she wanted to overthrow Jewelia, she had to solve the riddle.

“Show us the riddle,” Opal told the scroll.

What do you girls have

That Jewelia needs?

Opal had heard of this riddle before, except slightly changed: “What does a poor man have that a rich man needs, and you die if you eat it?” The answer was nothing.

Opal thought nothing of the difference, and was about to say, “Nothing,” but then thought of what the scroll had said before: “Think before you speak, or else your future will be bleak.” So she held her tongue and thought of what else the girls had and Jewelia needed.

She couldn’t think of anything else, until kind Emerald hugged her and whispered in her ear, “I know you can do it, Opallie. We all support you.”

Suddenly, it came to her.

“Love,” Opal said out loud. “Jewelia’s only daughter betrayed her, and her people hate her because she puts everyone over sixteen in the sapphire mines for no pay, and if you keep just one gem to yourself, you are killed. So she has no one to love her. But even though our mother died, and our sister hates us, we love each other. So we have love, and Jewelia has none.”

“This is a terrible obstacle course,” they heard Jewelia say. “Lying scroll. I have people to love me. But yes, you have passed the third challenge.”

Within seconds, a fourth and final door appeared. The girls took a deep breath, cautiously stepped forward, and opened it. Opal was the first to enter. She signaled for Amethyst, Ruby, and Emerald to follow.

“Come on, come on! There’s no obstacle in this room,” she exclaimed, motioning to the empty, black environment behind her. But, Opal had spoken too soon. The moment all four sisters followed Opal in, a rush of fog clouded the room, devouring them whole.

“Where am I? I can’t see anything,” Amethyst shouted.

“I’ve lost my sight!” cried Emerald.

While Amethyst, Emerald, and Opal blindly ran amiss, they were unable to hear Ruby’s quiet whimpering. Ruby had always been afraid of the unknown, wanting to be in constant control of her life. Not knowing where she was, or what her next steps were, frightened Ruby and froze her right in her tracks. Emerald was the first to hear her moans for help and quickly searched for Ruby’s hand.

She called out for her sisters, “Amethyst! Opal! Ruby needs our help!”

The girls stopped their frantic search for a door and walked towards their sister’s voice. Finally finding each other, the girls joined hands, comforting Ruby, and together walked forward. Suddenly, a flash of light illuminated a path and the girls immediately followed it. At the end of the path, a blue, sapphire door appeared with a hammer lying on the floor beneath it. Ruby, having gained back her courage, picked up the hammer. She broke four slivers out of the sapphire door and handed one to each of her sisters. They had finally achieved their mission, and defeated the evil Jewelia. Amethyst, Opal, Ruby and Emerald smiled at each other one last time.

 

Epilogue

Jewelia  was always teased at Royal School, and so, her anger was bolted up inside, and she took it out on her sisters. The sisters were quadruplets, so they had each other, but Jewelia  didn’t have anyone at all. Since her mom, the queen, was always so busy, she didn’t have anyone to go to and hug when she was sad. Once she was overthrown she realized her mistake and said, “Sorry everyone.”

Her sisters forgave her, and they all hugged it out in the sunset.

The End

 

King of the World

“Wake up, George. It’s your first day of school!” screamed George’s mom.

“But I don’t want to go to school. I’m too tired,” George moaned. “Wake me up later.”

“But you have to go to school, George! You can’t be late for your first day!” George’s mom yelled, “Now come down here and get ready!”

“Awww…” moaned George. “I don’t want to go to school.”

“You better come down here this instant!” yelled George’s mom. “Or else I’m going to come up there!”

“Do I have to?” George asked.

“Yes, you have to!” said George’s mom. “If you don’t get to school today, then you’re grounded, and you’ll have to do homework all day!”

So George stomped down the stairs and sat down for breakfast. By the time George was ready for school, it was almost nine.

“Come on!” said George’s mom. “You’re really late today! School started at eight. What are you doing?”

When George got to school, he saw something that he had never seen before. It was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. It was a girl. The most beautiful girl he’d ever seen. She had blonde, wavy hair and eyes that twinkled like the stars. She just walked past him.

“I’ve gotta get that girl!” George grunted.

Then, he had an idea. He snuck into the costume room and put on a cape and crown. When he was done, he stomped out of the room and walked to class.

“George!” yelled his teacher. “You’re one hour late! Get in your seat. And what are you wearing? Where’d you get that costume?”

“I don’t know,” said George.

“You missed five lessons, and it’s the first day of school. I thought you’d come earlier.”

George sat down and started doing his work, thinking about what he would do. When the school bell rang, he walked out of class. He was very tired of all of the planning of what he was going to do.

When he got home, his mom asked, “How was school?”

“Great,” moaned George.

“It doesn’t sound like it was very good,” said his mom. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” George moaned.

“Okay,” said George’s mom.

So, George walked up to his room and slammed the door and thought about what he would do.

“It’s time for dinner!” yelled George’s mom.

“Just a minute,” yelled George back.

“Okay,” said his mom.

When George got downstairs, dinner was ready.

His dad said, “How’s school, George?”

George moaned, “Awesome.”

“It doesn’t sound like it was good,” said George’s dad.

“That’s just what happened to me,” said George’s mom.

“What’s wrong?” asked George’s dad.

“Nothing,” whined George.

So, George stomped upstairs.

“George Matthew Parker,” yelled George’s mom. “Come down here this instant and finish your dinner!” 

“I don’t feel like eating,” said George.

“If you don’t eat dinner, then you don’t get dessert.”

“I don’t want dessert,” said George.

“But if you don’t eat dinner, then you don’t get to go to the movies tomorrow.”

“I don’t care,” said George.

“Okay,” said George’s mom.

The next morning, George got ready for school. It was much easier. When George got to school, the same thing happened, but this time, George thought maybe he could talk to this girl.

So, he walked up to the girl and said, “Hello, young lady. I’m king of the world.”

“What?” she said.

George repeated, “I said I’m the king of the world!”

“The king of the world isn’t real,” she said.

“The king of the world is real because I’m the king of the world!” repeated George.

“I already said that the king of the world isn’t real.”

“He is,” said George. “Because the king of the world is me.”

“There’s no king of the world,” said the girl.

Then George said, “Well, would you like to go, like, y’know, watch a movie on Friday with me, the king of the world?”

“Stop saying king of the world. And no, I’m not going to watch a movie with you,” yelled the girl.

And she walked away.

“Oh man,” said George, “I’ll never get that girl.”

As he walked to class, he thought of how happy he would be if he and the girl were together. So then he had an idea.

The next day, he dressed even more like a king. He even had a suit. And he had an even bigger crown. When he got to school he walked up to the girl and said, “Hello! I’m the king of the world!”

“Um, are you the same guy? Because the king of the world isn’t real. I already told you like ten times.”

“No, the king of the world is real,” said George.

“No, he’s not, and a kid can’t be the king of the world, and there’s also no queen of the world. I already told you there’s no king of the world! You’re so annoying!”

“Uh, yeah, there’s a king of the wooooorld,” said George.

“Oh yeah, I remember there’s a king of the world,” said the girl very sarcastically.

“Oh, I know that’s sarcasm,” said George. “But there is a king of the world. ‘Cause it’s me! Cause I’m king of the world. Cause whoever says, I’m the king of the world is the king of the world. Like this: I’m the king of the world!”

“Seriously, get away from me, and don’t talk to me again. You’re annoying me with that king of the world thing. Stop it. I’m never going to like you.”

That girl is never going to be mine, even though I’m the king of the woooorld! Maybe if I don’t tell her I’m the king of the world, I can tell my friends. So he told his friends, and they agreed that he could be the king of the world, so he was happy for about two months. On the third month, he walked up to the girl and said, “Hey, wanna hang out with me?”

And she said, “Hey, what’s your name?”

So, George had to think of another name.

He said, “Uhhhhhhhhhh, Jake. You can call me Jack if you want to.”

“Okay,” said the girl. “I’ll meet you there at eight.”

“Okay,” said George.

So the girl left.

“Yesss,” said George.

And he walked home happily, and he thought about how fun it was going to be. The next morning, George woke up, got dressed, ate breakfast, and went to school.

“George, you seem very happy today,” said George’s mom.

“I am,” said George, “I’m gonna have the best day of my life.”

“That’s great,” said George’s mom.

So George walked to school, and when he got to school, he saw the girl and said, “Oh, hey, are you ready for the movie tonight?”

“Uuuhh,” said the girl. “I don’t think I can make it to the movies because Greg asked me if I could go out with him tonight. I’m sorry.”

When George got to class, he looked at Greg in a very mean way. When he got home from school, he was very upset, and he went straight to bed.

“George, honey, come down and eat.” George’s mom said.

“No, I’m not that hungry.” George grumbled.

“Come on, you haven’t eaten in four months.” George’s mom said.

The next morning, George asked,  “Can I have some food? I just feel a little hungry because I haven’t eaten in awhile.”

“Suuuure!” said his mom.

Then, George walked to school, and asked the girl, “Do you want to go out with me?”

“Sure,” said the girl. “But I’ll ask Greg if he’s okay with it.”

So, the girl walked up to Greg and said, “Sorry I can’t go out tonight. George asked me out tonight, and I said yes.”

“No! I asked first. You have to go on a date with me!”

Greg was furious because the girl couldn’t go out with him, so he decided to go with them and make it the worst day of their lives. When they got to the movies, Greg was still behind them.

“Greg, I really think you should leave, so we can have our date.” said the girl.

“No no no. Your date will be so much better with me in it.” Greg said.

“No, I really think you should leave.” said George.

“Ohhhh, really? George, I know your secret, though. You’re the guy that screamed ‘I’m king of the world!!’” Greg snapped.

“Really?” said the girl. “You’re the guy who said I’m King of the World? You’re George. You lied to me.”

And then the girl walked away.

“Wait!” said George. “I’m sorry! I just wanted you to like me.”

“Too bad,” said the girl.

“Ha ha,” said Greg.

The next day, George walked up to the girl and said, “Sorry about last night.”

“It’s fine,” said the girl. “Greg was just an idiot last night. He did ruin our night. So wanna go out for a movie tonight?”

“Sure!” said George.

Greg was furious when he found out that the girl was on a date with him.

The girl said, “My name is Alice, just so you know.”

“Oh okay,” said George. “That’s a pretty name.”

And then they walked home happily.

 

THE END

 

The Book of Man Bun

       

Man Bun Goes to Hawaii

One day in Washington, D.C., Mr. Man Bun, the man with eight sideways (∞) money, wanted to spend money, so he thought I’ll go buy useless items. But he already did that, so he said, “I’ll go to a tourist trap.” But nope, he did that already too.

I’ll go to Hawaii, Man Bun thought, so he bought tickets, and bam, 5K gone. He wanted to waste more, so he got a massage. Not enough wasted. He got surf lessons, and everyone knows that surf lessons don’t help you learn. So now finally that he had lost enough money to be happy, so he went back home happily.

 

Man Bun Goes to Best Buy

One day in Washington, D.C., Man Bun wanted to play video games, but he only had the Nintendo Switch, the PS4, the Xbox One S, a Game Boy, a Game Boy Color, and the Nintendo 64 and every single game ever released on every one of those consoles. So Man Bun went to Best Buy, where he first bought the biggest flat screen TV on the market! Next he thought that was such a good dealonly five trillion dollars for one TV. Okay, now Man Bun bought every single game he already had, so he had two of each. Then he bought the whole store, and it took five years, but he owned Best Buy, so he went home and never ever played any video games even though he owned Best Buy.

 

Man Bun in London

Man Bun was in Washington, D.C. and wanted to spend money again. He thought and thought and found a place: London. So he went in a first class Fly Emirates jumbo jet and lost about 35,000 dollars. Next, he ordered a meet and greet with the Queen and tackled the Queen and took a Bobby’s laser gun and suit and blasted Big Ben, and next he blasted every pod in the London Eye then got tackled and fined ninety-nine trillion dollars. He then bought the Big Ben and the Eye and ordered them to be rebuilt.

 

Man Bun in New York

Man Bun was making profit in Washington with Best Buy, but he wanted to be seen. So he went to New York. First, he went to Times Square. He bought five of the screens and used them to put up pictures of his face, but it was not enough. So he went to the owner of a taxi company and offered 100 quadrillion dollars, and he bought twenty taxis.

 

Man Bun Saves Antarctica

Man Bun was in Washington, D.C. and wanted to spend money. For 20,000 dollars, he took a first class plane to Antarctica. On this plane, there was no menu. You could just tell them what you wanted and they’d make it.

“Could you make me a burger plain with five burgers in it?” Man Bun said.

“Okay,” the chef replied, and made him a burger.

In Antarctica, Man Bun saw the global warming problem. So he contacted all his friends that were scientists and hired about 20,000 more scientists (actually just random people hired and trained to be scientists). Then Man Bun told them to freeze all of Antarctica in one huge cooler, which would cost three million to make because of all the plastic.

Then he built a mountain out of ice and called it “Man Bun Mountain.” It was shaped like his head, Man Bun and all. Underneath Antarctica, Man Bun had an ice mansion built. It had 28,000 ice skating rinks and double the number of fridges (that’s 56,000 fridges). Afterward, he flew back home in the same plane, spending two million dollars along the way. But not before he bought eleventy-seven planes and filled them with polar bears and sent them to a giant replica of the North Pole (in a giant cooler). It was a polar bear wonderlandcopied and pasted from Antarctica. People loved the idea and started donating money to him, and he became even more rich!

 

Man Bun Goes to the Amazon

Man Bun was in Washington, D.C. and wanted to spend money. After thinking about Antarctica, Man Bun wanted to do more to save the environment, so he flew to the Amazon. He asked a tree if he could enter the Amazon. It said nothing. So Man Bun went in and immediately got attacked by a tiger, and then sued the tree because it didn’t protect him or warn him of tigers.

 

Man Bun Goes to Writopia Sleepaway Camp

Man Bun was in Washington, D.C. and wanted to spend money. It was the summer and he wasn’t doing anything, so he figured he’d go to a sleepaway camp. He had gone to Writopia last year. He remembered the picture on the wall of a bunch of people who had gone to the sleepaway camp. They looked happy, so he decided that he’d join them. He helped Writopia by buying them a bigger lake, more canoes, more cabins, and more counselors. People heard about these big improvements. It spread like crazy. Because he contributed so much, Man Bun became the owner of Writopia Sleepaway camp, and people saw this, and he earned large amounts of money because he was so successful.

 

Man Bun Goes to Vegas

Man Bun was in Washington, D.C. and wanted to spend money.

“What about the casinos out west?” a friend said to him.

He drove out there immediately. First, he tried the slot machines. He kept losing money. In two hours, he was down 10,000 dollars. Next, he almost lost two million, but somehow won the jackpot playing poker. The prize: “Two-thousand-million-trillion dollars!”

So Man Bun went up to the prize counter and said, “Give me my thousand million trillion dollars or I’ll blow up the casino with the laser I stole from the Bobby’s in chapter four.”

“We don’t actually have that money,” the clerk-lady said.

“Well, then I’ll do it.”

“Fine, we’ll give you the casino for free.”

So Man Bun then went home to tell his friend that he owned a casino. His friend asked, “What are you going to do with it?”

“I’m going to have Miley Cyrus destroy it with her wrecking ball.”

 

Man Bun Makes an App

Man Bun was bored one day and decided to make an app to give away money. Customers would buy the app for ninety-nine cents. They’d just press the amount of money they wanted (it would go up to two trillion), and the app would forward money to their credit card.

 

Man Bun vs. Bill Gates

Man Bun was in Washington, D.C. and wanted to meet another rich man and thought of Bill Gates, so he called Bill Gates on speed dial. They met up and Man Bun wanted to spend money so he said, “Money battlefirst one to run out of money loses.”

So Bill Gates bought a gold plane, boat, car, and train. Man Bun bought twenty billion planets, including one starthe Sun. Bill Gates bought a diamond planet. Man Bun bought twenty diamond planets. Bill Gates was out of money and that is why Bill Gates has no more money. Bill was like, “haaaaaaah.” Man Bun was fine.

 

Man Bun Goes to Paris

Man Bun was in Washington, D.C. and wanted to spend money, so he took a magic sub to Paris. First, he went to the secret room in the Eiffel Tower, next he got a billion croissants, next Arc de Triomphe, and last he went to the Louvre but that’s normal, so he parachuted from the room in the Eiffel Tower.

 

Route 66

Man Bun was in Washington, D.C. and was bored, so he took a road tripbut to where? Oh, a water park. He started the road trip and immediately got bored, so he played the license plate game. When he got there, he jumped into the pool with no bathing suit and no clothes so he was naked and fined lots of money. Next he went in the waterslide and did not let anyone through the end of the slide.

 

The Happiest Place on Earth

Man Bun was in Washington, D.C. and was bored, so he took his private jet to Disney World. Man Bun is afraid of roller coasters, so he wanted to overcome his fear and went on Space Mountain and Thunder Mountain. He screamed and at the end of Space Mountain was pale, but he loved Thunder Mountain. It was relaxing because it was so black and he was now okay with roller coasters. To make himself feel better, he had to sing to himself a lullaby, “Hush little Man Bun, don’t you cry. Momma’s gonna buy you a hundred bucks.”

 

Man Bun: The Movie

Man Bun was in Washington, D.C. and wanted to spend money, so he took a train to Hollywood. In Hollywood, he went on the set of Percy Jackson to stand there and look at a set. Next, he watched Hamilton for 6000 dollars and later bought a mansion to do nothing with. Man Bun was still in Hollywood and decided to make a movie. It was going to be like La La Land, but about Man Bun’s life. It’d have two perspectives. It’d have Emma Watson, Skylar Astin, Daniel Radcliffe, Anna Kendrick, and Rebel Wilson. Daniel would play Man Bun. Skylar would play the Bobby from when Man Bun went to London and Man Bun’s friend. Anna would play a scientist from Antarctica. Rebel would play Bill Gates. With all the actors and props and shots, the movie cost twenty million to make. Man Bun made all his money back from the people who saw it in theatres, plus two trillion more!

 

Man Bun and the Final Frontier

Man Bun was in Washington, D.C. and wanted to waste money in a big way. To spaaace! So Man Bun got people to make him a rocket ship and it cost about twenty dodecahedrillion. Next he got in and went to space! He owned every star ever, so he was on his property when he got to Neptune. He took his Man Bun hair to protect him, and he liked it there. He stayed for many days watching The Martian and doing the same as Matt Damon. He ate potatoes, and on the last day, when he got in and went back home, he saw Earth destroyed and went back to start a new species on Neptune. The species had Man Buns and were resistant to the cold. They had eight sideways (∞) money and loved animals, and Man Bun was the leader and lived happily ever after.

 

Too Much Missing

Chapter One: Kayak Trip

It was the kayaking trip that ruined everything.

It had started out fine — together me and my best friend, June, eased into our life jackets, splashing each other playfully.

After everyone in our group was settled and ready, our counselor, Kirstin, led us to the icy water. Even though it was summer, the water was still cold, because Maine, where this camp was located, had a very cold spring, and the lake was just starting to melt.

I dipped my fingers in the lake and quickly yanked them out again, my fingers feeling frozen.

Kirstin laughed, “Don’t want to fall in!”

June, two other girls I hardly knew, and I piled into one kayak, and the others kids clambered into theirs. Kirstin pushed the six kayaks off the sandy shore, and I smiled as we glided into the water. I tried to make eye contact with June, but my friend looked away, wiping her cheeks. Something was off about her, but I couldn’t figure out what.

So why was I so scared? Why were my hands sweaty and my heart pounding inside my ribcage? Why did it seem like my stomach was having a butterfly fiesta in there?

June and I had signed up together for Camp Skyglow, the four-week sleepaway camp, and we were going to stay together, as a team.

So why was I worried?

A lot of times, when June was with me, it seemed like she didn’t want to be. She was distant, like her body was here, but her mind was a million miles away.

We were both eleven years old, and I was practically a mirror of her with the same shoulder-length, dirty blonde hair and bright blue eyes.

I looked over at June and saw she was happily chatting with those two girls, entirely oblivious to my silence.

“The skirt… yeah… I asked… and she said no…”

“My mom… yeah. So I was like… c’mon..and she was like… no you already have a million skirts… she turned… I stole a couple bucks from her purse…”

“You… jeez… did she get mad… my mom… have…”

They kept babbling on, but I had tuned them out. Skirts and makeovers and all that were no interest to me. I kept my mind hungry with sports, and schoolwork, and poetry sparks that I wanted to write.

June and I had very different interests in life. Yet, for more than six years, we had been closer than close.

Now… I’m not so sure.

Playfully, I scooped my paddle into the water and splashed a little water on June to get her to laugh and, maybe, to notice that I was still there on the kayak with them.

June whirled around, her eyes ablaze. “Just leave me alone, Adeline! Do I have to be with you every second?! I have a life too, you know!”

I nervously leaned back, as if an invisible hand had pushed me. June had never gotten mad at me before — not like this. Before camp, we’d always hung out, and it was really fun and relaxed. Now it seemed like I was trying to have fun and not succeeding. I felt like I had to earn her laughter and her trust all over again. Now it was the middle of camp, and June was basically pretending I wasn’t there.

She ignored me in our bunk room, and in the Mess Hall, she pretended I was gone. I had tried once more on the kayaking trip, but this was the result. I hated myself for not knowing how to fix it, and I hated June for acting like this.

“Sorry.” I said softly, tears pooling into my eyes. June rolled her eyes and turned back to the other two girls and resumed her babbling.

I turned away from the girls so they wouldn’t see the tears begin to stream down my face.

 

Chapter Two: Coral

As we paddled back to shore, my heart felt like it would drop to my feet. Every couple seconds, I would look at June, hoping to catch her eye and give her a small smile. No such luck. When she talked to those girls, it was like she was in a private nebula tuning out any background noise and, in this setting, me.

Once we got to shore, I climbed quickly out so I could try to sort out the screaming thoughts that whipped around my head like a blender set on full-speed.

Kirstin smiled at me. “You okay, Adeline?” she asked.“Did anything happen on the kayak?”

“No.” I forced a smile that felt like it would run off my face at any second. “I had fun. Promise.”

“You look like you’ve been crying…” Kirstin’s voice trailed off.

“It’s just my seasonal allergies,” I said, my voice cracking, “You know, summer and all.”

Kirstin touched my shoulder. “I think we should talk about thi-”

Before she could finish, I yanked myself out of her grip and started to run to my bunk. Without turning around, I could see everyone’s eyes lasering in on me, probably asking  themselves, Does that freak girl have mental issues?

I practically heard June say, “Immature.”

But I wasn’t trying to be. I wasn’t trying to get all the attention. I wasn’t trying to be a spoiled brat. I wasn’t trying to be dramatic. I just missed June so, so much.

Running always helps me cool down when I’m mad or figuring out how to calm my anger, especially when it’s hot like today with June.

But today, it didn’t help. I choked up on my tears, and a cramp jabbed me in the side. My head throbbed, and my legs felt like noodles.

I suddenly wished my older brother was here with me. He’d calm me down, guide me to breathe deeply, and help me sort out my feelings. But he wasn’t here, and I was alone, and no one was on my side, and everyone was on June’s.

It was unfair. Full of sadness, anger, and who knows what, I opened the door and stepped in. I closed the door, and sank down to the floor, relieved to be alone and able to turn my thoughts over on my own.

Just then, I saw a head poke out of a bed. So much for that. I quietly crept up the ladder, hoping she didn’t see me, and I fiddled with my thoughts alone.

I climbed up to the top bunk that I shared with June. I laid down silently on the pillow and closed my eyes. Gee… that felt good.

“You’re here?” A voice came from below. Uggghhhh. I just wanted time alone. Today was like watching a line of dominoes fall. First, June ignored me in the Mess Hall, then June snapped at me in the kayak and now, right when I wanted to be alone, a girl who might be the biggest chatterbox in the world, wanted to talk. Amazing.

I didn’t answer, hoping the girl would get the hint and shut up. No such luck.

“I know you’re awake,” the girl said, her head poking above the railing. She was standing on the lower bunk, her hands on the railing.

I fought the urge to scream at her, but then I didn’t because I knew it would hurt the girl’s feelings just as much as June had hurt mine.

I sighed. “I am trying to rest, okay? Please leave me alone.”

“Aren’t you supposed to be at kayaking?” The girl rose her eyebrows like I was in court, and she was the judge.

“No. Aren’t you supposed to be at an activity?” I gently nudged her off the bottom bunk, and the girl slid down to the floor.

“I left the camp,” the girl stated.

“Huh?” I wanted to ignore her, but curiosity took over.

“I left the camp. I quit. I would’ve gone home, but my parents are on a trip in Alaska and I have to stay here. But I quit.”

“So what do you do every day? Sleep?”

“Of course not. I write in my journal.” The girl acted like that was the most obvious answer in the world. Maybe I should have known that, but my mind was full of sadness, and it was hard to think straight.

“About what?” I asked. “Your family?”

“Of course not. My family is so boring.”

“So what do you write about?” I asked, climbing down from my bunk.

“Cool facts. You know, about the world, and the atmosphere we live in.” The girl smiled.

“Can I read it?” I asked, forgetting about June for a moment. She seemed very smart.

“Yeah, sure.” The girl fished around a blue and gold duffel bag and then produced a red notebook with white lining. She handed it to me.

“Thanks.”

“I hope you like it.” The girl twisted her shirt in her fingers.

“Bet I will.” I said, opening it.

“Wait!” The girl put her hand up “Before you start to read it, and if we’re going to be friends, I need to know your name.”

All at once I had a flash of memories before my eyes. June and I were friends for so long, and then suddenly not. Her hanging out with others was the pain I felt when I saw that. But I loved June so much that I wouldn’t give up on our friendship yet. Our bond was so strong it should be able to push past this. I felt the lense of heat and anger behind my eyes again, and I narrowed my eyes.

“We are not friends,” I said, in the iciest voice I could manage. I thrust her journal at her chest. “I don’t need your stupid journal, either!” I snapped coldly. “Only nerds write about stuff like that!”

I stormed out as the girl called out, “My name is Coral, by the way!”

 

Chapter Three: A Nasty Prank

I didn’t know how bad this friendship problem was until June did a nasty prank when I was sleeping. When I woke up, I didn’t see anything.

But when I went to comb my hair in the mirror, I saw it was dyed.

“Ahhh!” I yelled, my fingers grazing my sticky, red hair. I screamed and ran to the bathroom. It wasn’t all colored, but I didn’t have my brown, silky hair. Instead, I had hair sprayed an ugly red. I looked like a cherry head. I sucked in a deep breath, forcing myself to be calm.

I didn’t know what to do, so I headed over to Coral’s bunk, leaned over, and shook her body

“Wake up, Coral! Wake up!”

Coral opened one eye. “Go away, I’m tryi — ahh!” Coral sat up so fast that I thought she was sitting on a hot pan.

“Your hair!” Coral gasped.

“I know,” I whined “Does it look that bad?”

“Yup.” Coral replied honestly, as she climbed out of bed. She added hastily, “But I think we can fix it!”

“Who do you think did it?” I asked. “I want revenge!”

Coral was thinking a bit more logically. “Well… to dye your hair, they’d have to have a crayon sort of dye. So maybe we should look for a dye packet or something and, whoever it’s closest to, we could add as a suspicion.” Coral headed to her golden blue duffel and pulled out her notebook.

“What do you need that for?” I asked.

“To write down suspicions and narrow it down until we find the victim.”

“That’s a good idea. You’re a good detective.” I said, trying to make up for the unkindness I had acted toward her yesterday.

If she remembered, she decided to ignore it. “Thanks. My dad is Sherlock Holmes. It runs in the family.”

I laughed for maybe the first time in days. “You’re really funny.”

“Oh, forgot to tell you, my uncle is Adam Sandler. It’s in my genes.” Coral said, with no hint of a smile. I grinned.

Coral opened her journal, flipped to the first open page, took a pencil from the spiral bound wire, and wrote at the top: SUSPICIONS For The Hair dyEing cULPRIT?

Coral and I scanned the room, looking for red hair dye packets. After a few minutes, Coral stopped short. “Adeline! Look! A red packet!” She pointed her finger toward June’s bunk. I followed her gaze and, sure enough, a ripped open red packet, stuck out of the blue and white starred sleeping bag.

I sucked in a breath and raced over to June’s bed. I slapped June hard on the back, and her eyes immediately opened.

She burst out laughing. “Your hair!”

My face was contorted with fury. “I can’t believe you did it!”

“Well… duh! You are so annoying and mean!” June rolled her eyes. I was still stunned that the same girl who was my best friend just three weeks ago could now be my worst enemy.

Coral stormed up to June. “You’re the mean one!” she yelled.

June smirked. “I beg your pardon, Squeaky. I can’t hear your pathetic voice.”

Coral looked at me “Were you seriously friends with this girl?”

I nodded weakly.

“Geez, you’ve got bad taste. She is such a jerk!” Coral said loudly. June didn’t reply.

I stared coldly at June. “She wasn’t a jerk three weeks ago. But Coral, I agree, now she is.”

“I’m not being a jerk!” June protested. “I was just hanging out with new friends!”

“Puh. Excuses, excuses. Only pathetic people make those.” Coral sounded amused.

I climbed up on my bed and that’s when I saw a piece of green paper poking out of my pillow. I picked it up and read it:

Get the hint.

We are not friends.   

                        -June

I sighed and handed the note down to Coral. She read it, paused, then stared icily at June.

“Where’s the trash can?” She asked.

I laid back and smiled slightly.

“You’re looking right at it.” Out of the corner of my eye, I saw June flinch. That felt good.

“I’m gonna go see Skye,” June said, backing away. “Adios, dorks.” June walked out the door then turned. “Wait… you won’t tell a counselor, right?”

Coral looked smug. “Try me.”

“Please?” June looked desperate.

“Nope.”

“Adeline?” June asked hopefully.

“Fine.”

“Thank — ” June began.

“Bye,” I said, pointing to the door and June hurried out.

“She wishes,” I said. Coral and I exploded into giggles.

“Now, let’s get down to business.” Coral clapped her hands “Let’s wash that ugly red out of your hair. June has a really bad taste of color.”

“No kidding,” I said. We walked to the sink, and turned on the faucet, and I dipped my head under the cool stream of water.

“Is it coming off?” I asked.

“Hardly,” Coral said, her fingers pressing against my sticky, strands of hair. Her voice grew urgent. “It’s not coming… never mind! It’s rubbing off. Slowly, but it is!”

I breathed a sigh of relief. A question nagged at me: Would June be cruel enough to use permanent dye? And did June know she would do this prank before she came to camp, because who would give her the dye?

Before I left for Maine, Dad said this camp would be awesome. So far, I couldn’t really describe Camp Skyglow as awesome, but meeting Coral was definitely a plus. I smiled to myself. I had certainly learned a lot about June and myself, and I had made a friend along the way.

Maybe I just had to take the good with the bad and be okay with that.

And as I thought about Coral, and the fun activities I loved, and all I learned about myself, it was.

 

Chapter Four: Campfire Night

As I walked up to the campfire, I overheard June talking to one of the kayaking girls that I think was named Skye.

I stopped to listen. I didn’t feel bad about it; June would have done the same thing to me.

“I can’t believe Adeline is so annoying. And babyish,” I heard a voice say.

A lump formed in my throat as I hoped beyond hope that was what Skye said, not June. But no.

“I can’t believe you were ever friends. She is so weird,” Skye said, her voice full of disgust. I sucked in my breath, trying to channel my anger and sadness.

“I know. I don’t know how I ever could be friends with her in the first place. She’s so clingy and strange.” June’s voice. They kept talking, but my mind was stuck on those words just spoken from June’s mouth.

I don’t know how I could ever be friends her in the first place. She’s so clingy and strange.

The words echoed in my ears over and over like I was in a tunnel and couldn’t get out.

After the Camp Skyglow chant, we had to play a game called Two Truths and a Lie. As I sat down on the stone hedge around the fire, I rested my hand on the spot next to me to save it for Coral.

As Coral passed by, I tugged her hand.

“Here,” I said, forcing a smile. “I saved you a spot.”

Coral smiled so big that I thought her face would burst. “Thanks.”

“I should be thanking you,” I told her. “You really helped me with the prank drama.”

“I’m sorry about what’s happening to you and your friend.” Coral’s voice was soft.

“I can’t believe she did that prank.” I paused. “Well, actually I can. She’s been a real jerk, lately.”

“Oh.” Coral seemed at a loss for words.

I looked at her and gave her a hug. “You’re a better friend then June will ever be. I’m glad you didn’t leave; I needed you.”

Kirstin came over and sat down next to me. “Can I sit with you?”  

I shrugged. “Sure”

Another counselor, Michael, clapped his hands to get everyone’s attention. “Now we’ll play Two Truths and a Lie. Everyone knows how to play, right?” Everyone nodded.

Michael smiled. “Who would like to start?”

I had an idea. I shot my hand up with many others, but Michael spotted me first. “How about you start, Adeline?”

I didn’t even need to think about mine. “Number one… June Windstyle is a jerk and she is such a traitor.” I snuck a look at June. Her mouth was open wide, and her eyes were pleading. Perfect. Who cares if I’m being mean? She did the exact same thing to me. “Number two… she is scared of the dark and has to sleep with a night light which is so babyish…” People laughed. I was enjoying this. “And number three… she — ”

“Adeline!!!” Kirstin cut in sharply “That is inappropriate camp behavior. What has gotten into you?”

I shrugged.

“If you and June are in an argument, you can privately talk about it later. Not at a campfire game. Apologize to June right now.” Kirstin’s voice was stern.

Mine was colder. “I’m not sorry.”

The campers all sucked in their breaths. I was going to get it now. I tried to hide my fear of what would happen, but I was really scared.

“Okay, enough with the attitude! Let’s go to the office,” Michael said.

I didn’t move. I couldn’t move. I was frozen in my spot.

“C’mon,” Kirstin urged. “All behavior has its consequences. Now go follow Michael.”

“No, don’t make her go!” A voice called out. Confused, I spun around. At first, I thought it was Coral. But… no. I knew that voice way too well.

“June?” I looked at her through the flames, and she smiled sheepishly at me.

“She has to leave, June,” Michael said.

“She has very unkind behavior that is not acceptable at this camp.” Kirstin added.

I was the one with unkind behavior!” June cut in. “It’s not her fault; it’s mine!”

I was shocked. Was this the same June who had ignored me constantly, who had snapped at me many times, who had played a nasty trick on me? This same June was trying stand up to me. Was this the same June who had done all those things?

“June…” I started, but I didn’t know what to say so I didn’t finish.

“I was being so mean to her at the kayaking trip — ” June began to say but was interrupted by Kirstin. “Campers, keep on playing. June, Adeline, come with me.” As June and I walked away with the counselor, I cast a look at Coral. She gave me a thumbs up and I smiled back at her.

Kirstin walked further from the campfire area, then knelt down and gazed into me and June’s eyes. “What is up with you two? I thought you two were friends.”

“We used to be,” I said, looking icily into June’s eyes. She looked away.

“What’s changed?” Kirstin asked quietly.

“Let’s see,” I said sarcastically. “Nothing much, only June has now officially blocked me out of her life.” I shrugged.

“That’s not true.” June spoke up.

“Oh, yeah?” I challenged “Can you explain the kayaking trip, or the Mess Hall, or the prank?!”

“What prank?” Kirstin asked, her eyes narrowing.

“I think June should explain.” I crossed my arms and glared at her.

June didn’t reply, just kept staring at the same spot on the ground.

“June, what prank?” Kirstin’s voice got louder.

June still didn’t answer.

I rolled my eyes and sighed. “Oh, for heaven sake, we don’t have all day! Kirstin, June dyed my hair. When I was asleep. In the middle of the night. With a red dye packet.”

Kirstin was stunned. “June? You seriously did that?”

June nodded meekly.

“A punishment is going to be needed. Maybe even you leaving the camp.”

“I think that’s a good idea,” I said loudly. “June, all behavior has it’s consequences.”

“Are you and Coral friends?” June asked.

“Yeah.” I paused “So?”

“Just asking.” June shifted uncomfortably.

“I’ll leave,” Kirstin stood up. “You two talk.”

“Why do you hate me?” June asked, once Kirstin and walked away.

“Huh?” I was confused.

“I overheard you speaking with Coral about me.”

“I overheard you speaking with Skye about me,” I shot back.

“Sorry,” June said. I didn’t reply.

June continued “I thought that when you spoke with Coral, you were saying mean things about me, and I kind of flared. I was actually going to use the red hair dye for me, but when I heard you and Coral talking, I used it for you instead.”

“Really?” I asked.

“Really.”

“Oh.” Suddenly, I wasn’t sure what to say. There was an awkward silence, but then I thought of something.

“Wait, but even before I met Coral, you were mad at me in the kayak.” I said “How come?”

“I was homesick and — ”

“Wait, what?” I was surprised. “You never get homesick.”

“Well, I did. I was homesick and I missed my family, and then in the morning that day, I got a letter from my mom, and she said that Jack had gotten severely hurt.”

“Wait, what? How? Is he okay?” I was shocked, then scared. Her thirteen-year-old brother was awesome. I had been to her house enough times to know it. He was fun to play with and laughed a lot. He was pretty much the dream sibling. Him and June were closer than close. I knew it must have been a big blow to June and her parents.

June sniffled. “He was riding his bike with a friend, and a big truck turned, and he didn’t see it, and it hit him. His friend didn’t get hurt, but he did and now he’s in the hospital and I don’t know if he’s okay… ” June’s face crumpled, and tears started to stream down her face. I wanted to hug her, but I wasn’t sure how and I knew it would be awkward, so I just patted her on the back.

June wiped her eyes. “I wrote six letters back asking if he was okay, but she hasn’t responded. And when we went to the kayak, I wanted to be alone, but then when Skye and Annabelle started talking to me, I thought it would take my mind off of things, but it didn’t. I’m really sorry and please forgive me.”

“I want to forgive you, June,” I said. “I really do. But why didn’t you tell about your brother before so I’d know why you were being all mean and cold toward me?”

“I was just really sad.”

“We can be friends, but maybe not close, okay? We are friends, but not like before. I think our relationship has changed.”

“Okay,” June nodded, her face hopeful. I could tell June was thinking we would just patch up this fight and move on. I wish I could tell her it wouldn’t happen, but I didn’t want to push it.

June stuck out her hand “Friends?”

I nodded and shook it. “Friends.” We both knew that neither of us was ready for a hug.

It will never be like before, I thought, a bit wistful.

We glanced at each other for a long moment, and then, together, we headed to the fire.

 

The Portal Under the Couch

Chapter One: Not Going to Camp

“We’re going to the beach all summer this year!” said Mom. “Isn’t that exciting?”

“NO!!!” I screamed. “There is an awesome summer camp that I’m finally old enough to go to this year!  Me and Leah and Nick have been waiting to be old enough to go there since we heard about it when we were seven!! We promised each other that when we were finally eleven, which seemed sooooo far away back then, we would go there, and the next summer we would go there again, and we would go again the next summer. We decided we would go every summer until the summer we turn seventeen, when we’re too old to be campers, but the summer we’re nineteen, we’ll be old enough to become C.I.T.s, which stands counselors in training, and we will be C.I.T.s and eventually we’ll become counselors. Now, we have a chance to go, and I have to wait! Nick and I are going to Leah’s house this afternoon so that we can sign up together! What am I going to tell them? As good friends as they are, we’ve all been waiting to go for so long, and I don’t think they’ll be able to wait another year! And neither can I!”

I ran into my room and collapsed on my bed, crying. After a couple hours, I checked my watch and realized that it was time to go to Leah’s house. In fact, I was five minutes late. I wiped my tears off my face with my hand and dashed out the door without telling my mom, which proved I was really mad at her because Mom was very strict about me telling her when I was going out by myself. But this was just Leah’s house. My best friends, Leah, and Nick, and I hang out there all the time. My little sisters, Millie and Mara, are cute, but whenever Leah and Nick come over to my house, they always bother us. Ever since Leah gave them her new markers to get them out of our way, I apologized for having such annoying siblings, promised to get Leah new markers, and never invited them to my house again. Nick has a super annoying and mean older sister named Skyler, which is why we never go to his house. But Leah doesn’t have any siblings. I wouldn’t say she is lucky because, most of the time, I love my little sisters, but with Skyler as his sister, Nick definitely thinks she’s lucky, and I have to admit, I don’t blame him.

I knocked on the door using the special rhythm that let Leah know it was either me or Nick at the door. But, instead of going inside, I yelled through the door in my super loud voice, using the secret code me, Leah, and Nick use.

“I’m not going to camp!” I told them everything. “And I don’t care!” I screamed. “It’s a dumb camp anyway.”

Leah and Nick were my best friends. They know me better than anyone else. That’s how they knew that I was going to run away. I ignored the fact that Leah yelled, “Ally, wait!” in our secret language. It didn’t matter. She knew I would ignore her.

 

Chapter Two: Hiding

Today was the day camp started. Today, Leah and Nick were going to go off to camp without me. Today, my family was also going to the beach. For the WHOLE. ENTIRE. SUMMER.

I liked the beach. But not for the whole summer. Especially when I could be going to camp. Especially when the camp I could be going to is the most awesome camp in the world. Especially when I had waited four long years to go to that camp, and now I have to wait at least another year.

Which was why I hiding under the couch. There was not much room here, but my parents would never suspect I was here. This is the plan I wrote last night when I was supposed to be asleep:

Plan so I can go to camp

Step 1: Hide under the couch until Mom and Dad give up looking for me and go to the beach without me.

Step 2: Go to Leah’s house and show her my plan.

Step 3: Go to the Otter Lake camp and tell them I signed up and it’s weird that they didn’t know I was coming.

Step 4: Tell Nick my plan once I know the counselors won’t hear.

Step 5: Have fun, go swimming, and play soccer, and baseball, and basketball, and roast s’mores at the campfire every night, and see fireworks, and use sparklers (even though that only happened once) at Otter Lake camp!!! And make video games, and tell ghost stories at night, and hang out with Leah and Nick, and go hiking, and go down really cool waterslides, and dive from really high up, and go ghost hunting, and jump, and do flips on a mega trampoline, and partner with Leah and Nick to make our own version of monopoly and clue and twister, and see if any of ours wins the board game contest!!!

But as I waited for my parents and sisters to give up on their Ally-Hunt, my flashlight that I had been using to see (since under the couch could get dark) ran out. I sighed because I had been reading to help pass the time, and you can’t read when it’s dark. Then I saw something glowing in the distance. I reached out my hand to touch it. It felt cool and weird. Then, I realized that it felt weird because it was slowly pulling me into whatever was causing the glowing. I screamed for help, but it was too late. I was almost fully in some weird place that the glowing thing was pulling me into. And then, suddenly, I fell!

 

Chapter Three: The Portal

I landed on something hard and cool with a man staring down at me. He wasn’t exactly what you would call a normal-looking man. He had long, tangled, brown hair. His skin was gray, like it was made of stone. He had crooked, yellow teeth that looked as if he had never brushed his teeth in his life, and some of them were missing. His fingernails were short and stubby, but you could tell they would have been claws if they were in better shape. He was wearing a short, baggy tunic that was slightly ripped in some places. Oh, and his height was not at all ordinary. He was eleven feet tall.

“Another one of those people! Hate to do it but I gotta frow you into the dungeon like all the other people. King’s orders. Don’t wanna get frowed inta the dungeon ya know,” he said in a loud, slightly grumpy voice.

He picked me up.

“You seem nice enough. I don’t want you to get thrown in the dungeon, either. But I don’t want to get thrown in the dungeon. There has to be some way  for me to not get thrown in the dungeon and for you to not get thrown in the dungeon either. We can make a plan. I’m good at making plans. I’m Ally. What’s your name? And can I know where I am and how I got here? That thing is a portal, right? I bet it’s a portal. If it’s a portal, can’t I just go back through it and pretend I was never here?”

I just wanted to know everything!

“Ally, it’s not that simple. I’m Esgardon. Welcome to Garlios. Yeah, that thing that brought ya here is a portal, but it’s only a one way portal,” said Esgardon.

He put me down.

“You mean that you can go to Garlios through the portal, but not back to Earth?”

“Yeah.”

“Okay.”

Esgardon gently put me into a dark place I assumed was the dungeon. Then he left and locked the door.

 

Chapter Four: Hannah

I turned around, and I saw the glowing light of a fire.

“Hey,” said a voice next to me.

I saw a girl with curly, brown hair pulled back into a ponytail. She also wore a headband completely covered with pink glitter. She was wearing a white shirt with sleeves that went down to her elbows. Over her shirt was a navy blue vest with some patches on it. On the left side of the zipper, she had a patch that looked like a jewel. Next to the jewel, she had a pink patch in the the shape of the letter H. Under the H patch, she had a rainbow poop emoji patch. She had on a black skirt and glittery black fashion ankle boots. She had sparkly, lavender colored jewel earrings. She was also wearing a flower mood necklace. Although she may not seem like someone who would look weird, there was something about her that seemed weird. Then, I realized that I thought she looked weird because I felt like I’d seen her before.

“Do I know you?” I asked.

“Now you do.”

“No, I mean do I know you before now?”

“No. Why would we know each other? I’ve never seen you in my life.”

“I’m Ally. Is your name Hannah?”

“How did you know?” Hannah was obviously very surprised.

“I don’t know.”

I realized I hadn’t thought about how I knew that Hannah’s name was Hannah. Or why I recognized her when she had obviously never seen me in her life. I had been spending my time thinking where I recognized her from.

“How did you get here? You’re obviously from Earth. You’re not one of those people,” I pointed at the the jail cell next to ours. In it, there were people like Esgardon, but in much worse shape.

“Obviously. It’s sort of insulting that you would even consider that.” said Hannah. “I got here when I was twelve. I’ve been here for six years, even though I look like I’m still twelve. I’m actually eighteen. This is how it happened: My family, my mom, my dad, and my cat, Smoky, and I were moving. I didn’t want to move. I hid under the couch. I decided to sneak out to use the bathroom. I had brought my phone so I would be able to text all my friends about the plan, because my best friends, Miley and Rachel, had been devastated when they found out I was going to move. They would want to know about my plan, and so would my other friends, Sienna, Taylor, Maddie, and Liana. I would’ve also texted them just to pass the time. I had brought a couple of fashion magazines, and my sketchbook, my pencil case, and a flashlight. To eat, I had brought a milk box, some fruit salad, some leftover egg salad from last night’s dinner, a couple slices of bread, some cheese, a big package of fruit snacks, and a big bottle of lemonade. My parents wouldn’t just leave without me. I knew they wouldn’t. Eventually, I would come out when the new family gave up waiting to move in and decided to find some other house to move to. I figured that all that would prove that I really didn’t want to move and my parents would decide not to move. But then, before I could even turn on my flashlight I noticed something glowing in the distance. It scared me, but it was so close that my body accidentally brushed against it, and it pulled me through to Garlios.”

“That’s where I know you from!!!” I screamed. “My family was the new family that was going to move to your house. Your parents told us about you. They showed us a picture of you. And told us your name. They said the we were supposed to move in the day you

disappeared, but your disappearance postponed the move. After a month and a half of looking, they decided that you were gone forever.”

“I wish I could get back home.” Hannah sighed.

“You can,” said Esgardon as he walked in.

 

Chapter Five: Yaderragos Fighting

“I talked to the king just now. He said ya can go on a quest to kill the Yaderragos, which are these monsters and find the keys that they guard. The keys will let you go home. Hannah, you will go home to your new house and start college this fall. Your parents will never remember you were ever gone. No one will. You will start looking like you are eighteen. You will know what everyone thinks happened to you while you were actually in the dungeon, but you will also remember that you were actually in the dungeon. Ally, you were here for so short that when you get home, it’ll be last night again even though you’ll remember today. This time, don’t hide. Y’all have ta except what happens. And I promise, next summer you can go to Otter Lake camp.”

I was so happy, I forgot to ask how Esgardon knew all that. Then he continued, “I will take you to the place where the Yadarragos guard the keys, and then I will have to leave. You will most likely die — ”

“Wow, that really makes me want to do it,” Hannah grumbled sarcastically.

“As I was saying, you can chose armor, shields, and weapons. You can each have a private room to change into your armor and choose your weapons and shields.”

He lead us into small rooms, slightly bigger than bathroom stalls. I looked at the armor on the wall, and soon I was wearing a full suit of silver armor. I chose a sword as my weapon and clipped it to my belt. I looked at the sheilds. The king sounded like a pretty mean guy, so if he decided I was worthy of killing the Yadarragos, a shield would probably only be something extra to lug around. I left the little room and waited until Hannah was done. After around ten minutes, Hannah came out. She was wearing white tights and tall, black laced boots. She was also wearing her skirt, and the boots went up high enough to almost touch the skirt. On her top, she was wearing gold armor. Her hair was down, and she was wearing a pink helmet. She had a quiver filled with arrows, and clipped to the quiver was a bow. She was holding a red shield with two crossed swords in the center.

“Y’all ready?” asked Esgardon.

“Yup,” I said.

At the same time, Hannah said, “Yes.”

“Then hop on aboard!” said Esgardon, gesturing to a worn-out brown tractor.

While I hopped on right away, since I had always wanted to ride in a tractor, Hannah hung back.

“Are you sure that thing is safe?” asked Hannah.

“Of course!” said Esgardon sitting down in the driver’s seat.

Reluctantly, Hannah climbed in. I was really tired since I had been up half the night last night preparing for being under the the couch. After five minutes of being in the tractor, I was fast asleep.

“Wake up, you sleepyhead!” Hannah was shaking me awake. “You’re like the leader on this quest. Esgardon told me that the king didn’t agree for me to go on the quest when he asked the king when I got here six years. But he decided that since I figured I was allowed to come, I could come, and he wouldn’t tell the king.”

“Okay. Are we here?” I asked.

“Yes.”

“Time to fight. Stay here. Only fight when I really need help, and I’ll tell you when I do. Since I’m the quest leader, you have to listen to me. And if you want to know why, it’s because you’re obviously not prepared for battle. You’re wearing a skirt. Who wears a skirt to battle?  I don’t get who would ever want to wear a skirt in the first place!”

“Fine. But trust me, you’re going to regret thinking I’m useless.”

Ignoring her, I looked at the four Yaderragos. They were covered in green scales. They had fangs. They had four long legs with claws at the end of them. I took my sword off my belt and snuck up behind one of the Yaderragos. Then, I chopped his head off before he could notice anything. But before I could kill any more Yaderragos, one of them noticed me and spit some poison at me. Then, everything went black.

 

Chapter One: Home

I woke up with Hannah staring at me.

“I told you you would regret thinking I was useless. I shot all the Yaderragos, got the keys, and I cured you from the Yaderragos poison. And I got changed. So ha!”

“Sorry, Hannah. I didn’t mean it. Really.” I said.

“I know. I was just really mad.” said Hannah. “How about you get changed, and then we can go home.”

Hannah held up some keys.

“Esgardon had to go back to report to the king about our success. But he’ll be waiting at the portal so we can say goodbye to him before we leave. Because it probably won’t be that often that we get a chance to visit Garlios, especially for me. You can change in the tractor. I won’t look.”

After I got changed, Hannah and I said bye to Esgardon, and went back through the portal, and even though the second I went through the portal, I was asleep, I could sense it. I was home.

 

The End

 

Epilogue

I guess Esgardon was telling the truth about me going back in time; when I woke up this morning, the date was June 30, the day Otter Lake Camp started, the day my family was going to the beach, and the day I went on my adventure in Garlios. I got dressed and was about to make myself a bowl of cereal for breakfast when the doorbell rang. It was the mailman.

“Are you Ally Halerson?” he asked.

“How did you know?”

Mail men didn’t go around asking me if I was Ally Halerson.

“Well my friend, Hannah Arper, gave me the address of this house. She said to knock on the door, ask for Ally Halerson and if she was there, give her this letter. Do you know Hannah?”

“Yeah. Thanks. Bye.”  

“See you later.”

I brought the letter to my room and locked the door (I earned the lock on my door the time Leah had to give Millie and Mara her new markers) so that no one could see the letter because before I left Garlios, Esgardon told me and Hannah not to tell anyone about Garlios, and the king had wanted our minds to be wiped of the knowledge of Garlios.

 

Dear Ally,

 

If you’re wondering how I knew your address, remember, I used to live in your house, and I still remember my old address. I wrote this letter because I feel like I need to talk to someone about our adventure, and it’s too risky to say it was a dream or to write a book about it. It’s our responsibility to keep Garlios’s secret, so you’re the only one I can talk to about it. No one else would believe me, anyway. Call me to tell me you got this letter. Here’s my phone number: 564-728-****

 

Love,

Hannah

 

Georgia’s Big Day

Once there was a girl named Georgia. She was twelve years old and had a dog named Snowball. She also had a little sister, who was nine, named Lia. Georgia’s dad was the mayor of Washington D.C., and her mom was the president of the United States. They lived in the White House together. Everyday, her dad and mom spoiled her with jewelry and taught her to be very ladylike. Her mother spent all her time on Georgia, teaching her ladylike manners.

“Georgia, you shouldn’t be spending all your time just exploring in the wild! Just for that, I’ve asked Miss Divine to come over and teach you tea party manners! We’re going to a fancy party tonight, and you have to know all your tea party manners, and other manners as well.”

“But, Mom, I don’t want to go to a party tonight! I’m not ready to learn all these dumb manners!”

“Well, young lady! Don’t talk to me like this! Where are your manners? There will be some major consequences to this! You know what, go into your room right now and start thinking how you’re going to act at the party tonight. And pick your party clothes while you’re at it!”

“Fine!”

“Honey,” her dad said as she stormed off.

“Well, what has gotten into Georgia?” asked her mother.

“I don’t know,” said her dad, carelessly.

Meanwhile, up in Georgia’s room, she was thinking, If Miss Divine comes and teaches me manners, that would be as boring as my mother teaching other manners at school. What should I do? I could just go with the flow, but I also want to explore and not be stuck inside all day doing stupid, dainty, lady stuff. I’m clueless!

“What is wrong with me?!” Georgia yelled furiously.

“Georgia, is everything okay?” Georgia’s mother asked while flicking her fingers.

“Y-y-y-y-yesssss.” Georgia said, stuttering, afraid her mother would come and see her stuffing her dresses in the back of her closet, even the beautiful jewelry her father gave her.

“I don’t want to go to the party!” Georgia finally blurted out.

Georgia was trying to fit her biggest, and most beautiful dress, in the closet when her mother walked in and spotted her.

“Missy, I am very disappointed in you! I’m sorry to say this, but you’re grounded!” Snowball barked twice at Georgia’s mom. “And as for you, Snowball, don’t go against me too, mister!”

“What’s happening up there?” said Georgia’s dad.

“Georgia stuffed all her beautiful dresses you gave her into the back of her rusty, old closet!”

“Say what now?!” her dad said, storming up the stairs like an angry giant. Georgia’s dad rushed into her room and said, “What did you stuff into the back of your closet, miss!”

“U-u-u-u-u-ummmm,” Georgia stuttered. “I-I-I-I-I-I just had some dusty rags, and I didn’t want to spoil my beautiful dresses!” she said nervously.

“Then where are your beautiful dresses?” Georgia’s parents said furiously.

“I must have misplaced them,” Georgia said shaking with fright.

“Well, well,” her parents said. “What is that black, shimmering, rag, in the back then?”

“It’s-It’s-It’s.” she started. “Ummm, what is that dress doing there?!”

Her parents said, “You’ll pass this time, but we better see that dress properly hung up in her closet, or you will not go to the party!”

Not go to the party?  Georgia thought.

“Okay!” she said cheerfully.

“Okay then, come and get some pumpkin pie with us.” her parents said. “And by the way, Miss Divine will be coming over very soon.”

“Ugh, whatever.” Georgia said, shrugging

“Excuse me, what did you just say, girly?” her mother said.

“I-I-I mean yayyy!” Georgia said sarcastically.

***

Ding-dong.

“Miss Divine is here!” Georgia’s mother said.

“Yaaay, so awesome,” Georgia said, lumping her back into a stone-like arch.

“Come greet Miss Divine like a lady would,” Georgia’s mother called.

Georgia came down with her pretend smile and slowly opened the door.

“Oh, Miss Divine, I’m so glad you came over,” Georgia said politely. “To teach me all these dumb manners.” she mumbled.

“Excuse me, what did you say, dear?” she said in a posh-like British accent.

“I-I-I-I-I just said how great you are at teaching young ladies manners,” she said. “Noooottt,” she mumbled quietly.

“Okay then, dear, how about I start teaching you right now?” Miss Divine replied.

“Oh that’s just great. Here, I’ll show you the way to my room!” Georgia said, annoyed. “Before you mess anything up,” she whispered, angrily.

Now that Miss Divine was up in Georgia’s room, she asked her, “What is that shiny, glittering ‘thing’ doing there?!”

“It’s just, uh, you know, a rag!” Georgia answered quickly.

“Okay, then what is that glittering, shiny, rag doing there?”

“Will you excuse me for a second?” she paused. “MOOOM!!!”

Georgia ran downstairs, and Miss Divine questioned,  “What in heaven’s has gotten into that girl?”

Georgia’s mother, Mrs. Lucia, was picking out a beautiful gown for the party when Georgia rushed in.

“What is wrong with that Miss Divine??”

“Good heavens, Georgia, mind your manners. This is not what true ladies do. Go back up and apologize to Miss Divine, and don’t run into my room again. I was picking the most beautiful, black dress, and I suggest you wear yours too.”

“But, Mooooom,” Georgia shrugged.

“I don’t want to hear, MOOOOOM,” Georgia’s mom said louder.

***

After Georgia left, Lia came storming in Georgia’s room saying, “GEORGIA!!! Mom said she’s taking us to a party tonight! You better pick your party clothes, or Mom will not be happy! Plus, she’s the President, so she can ground you. Ha, ha, ha!”

“LIAAAA!!! Stop it right now! Mom could ground you too, you know! Tell mom I’m not going to the party!!!”

“Okay,’’ said Lia. “MMOOMMM!”

“Shut up!!” yelled Georgia.

“Blegh,” said Lia, as she fell head-first on the floor, quivered up her body, put her hands on her face, and stuck out her tongue.

Georgia said, “Grow up, Lia,” and walked over her, leaving the door shut. “And get out of my room, by the way.”

“Girls! Dinner time!” Georgia and Lia’s mom said.

Now, the White House chef said, “Potato fries for everyone!”

“Yum!” Lia and Georgia said at the same time.

“I said it first,” said Georgia.

“Did not,” said Lia.

“Did to,” said Georgia.

“Okay, okay. Break it up, girls,” said Mr. Lucia.

“I bet I can eat more potato fries than you can!!” yelled Georgia.

“Girls, stop fighting over a little thing!” said Mrs. Lucia. “And Georgia, I canceled the party for next week.”

“Great!” said Georgia sarcastically.

“And by the way, it’s her fault,” said Georgia and Lia as they pointed at each other.

Mr. and Mrs. Lucia looked at each other and slapped their foreheads, as if they were aching.

“Okay, girls, it’s time for bed,” said Mr. Lucia.

“But we didn’t even eat dinner, and it’s not even our bedtime!” yelled Georgia.

“Fine. Just go relax on the sofa and turn on the TV.” said Mr. Lucia.

Georgia and Lia sat on the big, white, fluffy couch, facing away from each other. They felt like they were sitting on a cloud. They’ve had many fun times on the couch, but this time, they were angry with each other. Then Georgia spotted the remote. She stretched her arm out to get the remote and fell off the couch, face first.

“Ouch!” she yelled, not realizing she fell on her ultra soft carpet.

Lia giggled.

“LIA, IT’S NOT FUNNY!!!”

“Heaven sakes, girls, is everything okay?” said Mrs. Lucia, coming down the stairs.

“LIA WAS MAKING FUN OF ME. LIA WAS MAKING FUN OF ME. LIA WAS MAKING FUN OF ME.,” Georgia chanted.

Lia tried to squeeze herself behind the cushion of the couch, to hide from her mom, but she was too big.

Georgia threw herself on the couch, pulled away the cushion, and said, “You can’t hide from me. I’m three years older than you.”  

“So what?” said Lia as she jumped off the couch, sticking her tongue out at Georgia saying, “Na-na-na boo-boo, you can’t catch me.”

Then she ran off.

“Oh, I can play that game,” said Georgia.

Georgia jumped off the couch and ran twice as fast as Lia, tackling her.

“Boo yeah, in your face, Lia-patia!”

“Hey, that’s my baby name,” said Lia.

“Well, you’re a baby to me,” said Georgia, laughing, with happy tears running down her cheeks.

“Hahaha, who’s the baby now,” said Lia.

“You crying,” Lia teased.

“Shut your mouth,” said Georgia.

Their mom just stared at them, shaking her head, saying, “They’re dead.”

The two sisters had fought until it was time for bed.

“Moooom,” Lia groaned. “We don’t want to go to bed yet.”

“Shut it,” Georgia said again, dragging Lia into Lia’s room, locking the door behind her.

Before Lia could make another peep, Georgia sprinted to her room and locked her own door. She wasn’t actually tired. She just wanted Lia to go way.

Georgia’s room was incredibly big. In the corner of the room, she had a bunk bed where the bottom was a desk. She kept her stuffed animals on the desk chair, and a plate of warm cookies were resting on the table. No one was allowed in, especially Lia. In the center of the table was Georgia’s favorite journal. It was bought by her parents when she was born, and it’s been her most prized possession since.

Georgia grabbed the most beautiful gold pen and wrote in her journal:

Dear Journal,

Today my mom spent all her time teaching me lady like manners. Doesn’t she know I don’t want to learn those manners! I want to be wild and explore new places. That’s who I am, and she can’t change that. Don’t you believe me, journal?

Love,

Georgia

Georgia sighed. “If only someone believed me.”

Georgia looked at the clock, and it was way past her bedtime. She brushed her teeth, put her PJ’s on, read some of her book, turned off the light, and slowly closed her eyes until she was fast asleep.

When she woke up, she could hear birds tweeting out her window. She got up and brushed her teeth, changed her clothes, brushed her beautiful, brown hair, put on her beautiful, silver sandals, and left her room, taking Snowball with her. Snowball had been sleeping next to her, snuggled up together in bed.

“Breakfast time, kids!” Mr. Lucia yelled down the halls.

“Coming!” cried Georgia.

“Ruff ruff,” barked Snowball.

“Wha- what time is it?” Lia mumbled.

Georgia ate all her pancakes as Lia stumbled down to the gigantic dining room.

“Lia Walker Lucia, what are you wearing?!” said Lia’s mom. “Go back to your room and change.”

Mrs. Lucia was not happy and wanted Lia to do it faster.

“Ugh, okay.” Lia said to the floor, eyes still closed.

When Georgia had finished her breakfast, she opened the door to allow fresh air in.

“Hello,” a voice said politely.

It was Jeanette, Georgia’s friend.

“I heard you last night, you seemed sad.” Jeanette said. “I believe you. My mom tries to teach me manners too. I don’t listen though. No one can change that. It’s who I am. That’s why I’m asking you to sneak out of the house with me at noon. I’m going to show you something very special.”

***

Ding-dong.!

“Jeanette’s here, Mom,” Georgia said. “We’re going to go for a walk. Is that okay?”

“Go ahead,” said the mom. “Just be back before sunset, please.”

“Okay, bye,” Georgia said, hurriedly, and she ran out the door with Jeanette.

“Can you climb?” Jeanette asked Georgia.

“Of course, but why?” said Georgia, curiously.

Then, Georgia looked up and saw a great stone wall. She was not supposed to go over.

“Is this the wall to the woods?” Georgia asked.

“Rrruufff,” Snowball barked.

“Where did you come from, Snowball?”

“Yeah, you were supposed to stay home,” Jeanette added.

Snowball just stared at them and wagged his tail.  

“Snowball, you’re so silly. You can’t climb,” said Georgia.

Snowball saw a small tree nearby. He jumped on a twig, shot over the wall, landed on the other side, and let out a satisfied “Ruuuff.”

“Well, how do you explain that? You obviously have a very talented dog,” Jeanette told Georgia as the two started climbing.

As soon as they made it over the wall, Jeanette covered Georgia’s eyes.

“One, two, three, open,” Jeanette said, releasing her grip.

“HHUUUGHHH! It’s beautiful!” Georgia let out. “Look at that beautiful deer!”

“SURPRISE,” said Jeanette.

“What should we name it?” Georgia asked.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Jeanette said. “We don’t name wild animals… until now!”

“How about Bushy?!” Georgia said excitedly.

“Perfect,” said Jeanette.

“Ruff,” said Snowball.

“Okay, little guy. Let’s go explore some more. Our moms won’t even know we’re here!” said Jeanette.

Both friends giggled.

“Ruff ruff ruff ruff ruff,” Snowball added.

Sunset came faster than they would have liked, and the two friends climbed back over the wall and went back to their houses.

“See you tomorrow afternoon,” Georgia said, smiling.

“See ya,” Jeanette said.

 

The End

 

Cooking is Hard!

“Stop changing the TV channel! I’m trying to watch Chopped!” said Maggie, shaking her head.

Her brother, Michael, said, “Why? I want to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.”

“That show is boring,” Maggie said.

Their mom entered the room and said, “Maggie, no more TV. You have to go and do your homework!”

“Aw man,” Maggie said sadly.

“Na-na-na boo-boo I get to watch TV, but you don’t!” Michael chanted.

“No more TV for you either, Michael,” their mom said.

Maggie stuck her tongue out at Michael and mouthed, “Na-na-na boo-boo to you.”

“Mommm!” Michael cried.

“Maggie, go to your room,” their mom said.

Michael grinned, satisfied.

“Michael, go to your room,” their mom said.

Michael slumped and stomped up to his room. Maggie went up to her room, but instead of doing her homework, she wrote and doodled about being a famous chef. She imagined being a big star. A meat chef, not a pastry chef. She doodled about being really famous and winning a lot of awards and getting to meet the president.

Soon, her step-dad called, “Time for dinner!”

Maggie glanced up at the clock. It was already 6 o’clock!

She said, “Just a minute!” and quickly locked up her diary that she was writing in. (She kept all her secret stuff in it.)

For dinner, her step-dad made hamburgers, but Maggie got a cheeseburger, as always. He was a chef at The Meat Place, where they cooked the food in front of you. Maggie smelled the hamburgers and licked her lips.

Then, after dinner, when her step-dad was cleaning the kitchen, Maggie went into his room and saw the trophy he won when he was one of those great, famous chefs. He decided that he didn’t want to be famous and got a job at a small restaurant in the Upper West Side. He and Maggie’s mom married when she was six years old, and then he retired.

Maggie took the trophy off the big shelf. She looked at it and touched it. It was a big, cool silver trophy. Then, she looked at a letter President John wrote to him: “Do you want to be one of the chefs who cooks for me in The White House and is on TV a lot?” and more stuff that Maggie didn’t understand.

But her step-dad wrote back that he didn’t want to be one of those big chefs and just wanted to work at those little restaurants in town. Maggie was proud of her step-dad. Then, she heard him walking down the hallway.

“Uh-oh!” Maggie knew he would be mad if he knew she was touching his prized stuff, so she quickly left the room.

Then, she heard her mother call her.

“Maggie, it’s time to go to bed!”

Maggie looked at the clock and pouted.

“But Mom, it’s only 8:30!”

“I know, Maggie. But your dad is taking you to his work tomorrow.”

“Really? Okay!” Maggie said, excitedly.

That night, she dreamed of what her father’s work would be like. She dreamed that it would be a big place with tons of customers, and everybody would love the place, and that it would be so fun!

The next morning, her mom called, “Maggie! Maggie! Wake up!”

Maggie sat up, tired and grudgingly, and looked up at the clock.

“Mom, it’s only 6:00 clock.”

“I know! But your father has to get to work on time!”

Then Maggie remembered that she was going to her father’s restaurant today.

“Okay, Mom!” she said, jumping out of bed.

She put on her best dress and combed her hair. She wanted to look nice today. She saw Michael in the living room, pouting.

“But I want to go to Dad’s work too,” he was saying.

She met her dad outside their house. He was wearing a tie and a suit.

“Why are you wearing a tie and a suit? I thought you were going to be cooking today,” said Maggie.

“Well, I’m not going to be cooking today, Maggie. I don’t cook everyday. Today, I’m going to be looking around and helping and making sure the restaurant is perfect.”

Maggie was a little bit disappointed. But then she said to herself, It’s going to be okay. Then, she walked with her step-dad to the subway.

Maggie lived in Hoboken, so she took the NJ transit bus to get to Manhattan. When they got to Manhattan, they took the subway to the Upper West Side. They got off at 61st Street and, the restaurant was on 65th Street. Maggie saw lots of cars, a lot of people running around, and a lot of cool restaurants.

Then Maggie’s dad said, “Close your eyes, Maggie.”

”Okay,” Maggie said.

Then, her dad said, “Readyyy. Okay, open!”

Maggie opened her eyes, and she saw a really tiny place that didn’t have any fun stuff on the outside.

“Is this the store?” Maggie asked her dad, confused.

“Uh-uh,” Maggie’s dad said. “Do you like it?”

I don’t really like it, Maggie thought, but maybe inside’s better.

“Uhm, it’s cool, Dad,” she said, hoping that the inside would be cool.

“Okay. Wanna go inside?”

“Okay,” Maggie said.

They walked inside, and Maggie looked around, and it was empty. It was really empty.

“So how do you like it?”

“Where are the people?” Maggie asked.

“Well it is a meat place,” her dad said. “What would people be doing here at 9 in the morning?”

“Where is the staff?” Maggie asked.

“They are all in the kitchen.”

Then a customer walked in.

Her father said, “Yes, ma’am. What would you like?”

“Is this the book place?” the women asked.

“No, wrong address. This is the meat place. Now would you like to sit down and order something to eat?”

“Oh no, I’m sorry,” said the women and left the shop.

“What was all that about?” Maggie asked her dad. 

“I have no idea. A lot of people do that at our shop… We barely have any customers.”

“Can we go and take a walk?”

“Sure, Maggie. Why?”

“I will explain while we walk.”

“Okay.”

They walked  out of the store and into the park.

“You see, Dad, well…

“Yes, Maggie.”

“Well… Dadiwanttobeafamous-”

“Slow down.”

“Dad… I want to be a famous chef. Everything you weren’t. I want to learn how to cook. I want to meet the president. But I can’t do it all. Can you help me?”

“Well… I do have a friend who has a cousin whose father owns a cooking show called, The Next Big Kid Chef.”

“Oh, Dad.”

“We have to check with Mom first.”

Maggie groaned.

***

“No way! Uh-uh. Maggie is so not doing a cooking show! She could get hurt. She’s too young. John, what are you thinking?” her mom said.

“But, Mom…”

“But nothing!” her mom said angrily. “Go to your room!”

“Ugh,” said Maggie, but she trudged upstairs.

“But, Ariana, it’s what she wants.”                               

Later at dinner, her dad said, “Maggie, guess what?”

“What?” Maggie said grimly.

Her mom, Ariana said, “I’ve agreed, Maggie.”

“To what?” Maggie said again.

Her parents were confusing her.

“To let you try out at the cooking show, hunny,” said Ariana.   

“Really?!” Maggie responded.

“Really,” her mom said back.

Maggie jumped out of her chair and put her hands up in the air.

“Wow, thanks so much, Mom and Dad.”

Then she ran over and hugged them both.

“But first you have to learn how to cook,” her mom said.

“Maggie doesn’t know how to cook. Maggie doesn’t know how to cook,” her brother chanted.

“I’m going to learn,” Maggie said, crossing her arms.

“It’s okay with me if you get a little messy, and stop messing around, Michael,” said her mom.

“Okay, when can we start,” Maggie said excitedly.

Her mom and dad responded at the same time, “Tomorrow.”   

“Yay!” said Maggie. “I can’t wait.”

“Toast to Maggie,” her dad said, raising his wine glass.

“To Maggie,” her mom said.

“What about me, Maggie?” said her brother.

“To me!” Maggie said joyfully.

 

Emotion Poems

       

Angry

I feel very angry

Red’s the color of my face

I slam my door

I stomp my feet

Like a stubborn flea

Anger is trash bad

Sometimes I am angry

Because I am hungry

My stomach roars like a lyin’ lion

And sometimes I just am mad

Today I am feelin’ angry

 

Shy

I am shy

My name is fluttershy

I try to cover my face

I want the sky

To be dark

And this will be all done

I do not speak loud

And proud

I speak shyly

And softly

I never get happy or mad

I usually am shy or sad

I am very shy

 

Sad

Today I am sad

I feel like rain is dripping

From my eye

I am not glad

I am sad

I want to cry

In my pillow

With my fiddle

I’ll play sad music

While I droop on my bed

So like I said

Today I am sad

 

HAPPY!

The sun is out

And I am happy

I am glad

Not sad

Or mad

I’ll smile big and wide

And play outside

With friends and family

And dance happily

Today I feel happy             

 

Silly

I am silly

I tell a joke

I go crazy

I pretend I’m a goat

I’m very lazy

After I go crazy

That’s why I am silly

 

In love!!

I’m in love

When I see my love

I blush

And I feel like a chump

I wish I can hug him so much

I want to be a chipmunk

With my honey bun

I am very in love

With the beautiful dove!

Heaven is above

And so is my love!

Love is in the air

Like you just don’t care!!!

 

Jealously!

I am jealous

 Sometimes l’m

Jealous

Because my friend

Has bread

That I want

But remember

Be grateful for what you got!

Then you will be happier

Amen glory be!

 

Giggly!!!

I am very giggly

And jiggly

I laugh

And laugh

Loud like a lion’s roar

Till I start to

Gasp

When my friend

Makes a joke

l start to choke

I am giggly

 

Sleepy!

I am sleepy

My eyes are drooping

I will die on my bed

I’ll dream

Dreams

My body is gooping

I’ll fall asleep

And not open my eyes a peep

Now good night!

 

Grateful!

I am grateful for…

Love,

Family,

Friends,

The grinch,

Doves,

Gambilin’,

Tents,

A pinch,

That’s what i am grateful for!

 

SCARY!

I am scared

Like a bear

Who stepped on his tail

In the air

Like you just don’t care!!

I am scary

Like a berry

that is scary!!!

I am scared

 

Today I Feel…

  

Sad

Today is a rainy day and I feel sad

Tears like the rain fall from my eyes

More rain falls and more tears fall from my eyes

Rain falls from the sky and land on the ground

Tears from my eyes fall on the floor

Today I feel very sad

 

Happy

Today the sun is out and I feel happy

The rain is gone and the sun is shining

A big rainbow with bright colors is in the clear blue sky

Pink fluffy unicorns are dancing on the rainbow

The ocean is sparkly like diamonds

The sand is yellow and pink

Today I feel very happy

 

Scared

It’s dark in my room and I’m scared

It’s pitch black in my room

There’s no light to see

There’s no power in my house

There’s no fire to make me warm

Thunder rumbles and lightning crashes

The howling wind comes in through my open window

I hide under my covers and close my eyes

I’m hoping this is just a dream

Because I’m scared

 

Bored

I am very bored right now

I sit on the couch and look out the window

It is a misty and foggy day

It is a drizzling day too

There’s nothing fun to do

Reading books are no fun to me

Today I feel bored

 

Buttercup

Hi, I am Buttercup the pig. I live on a farm, and I’m the only pig. I am so lonely, and I need some friends. All the other animals are cows and horses and chickens. They don’t want to be friends with me, because they’re friends with their own species.

It was feeding time, and I went to the stable to receive my food.  I went up to eat next to the cows, and they walked away, laughing.  So I went over to the horses, and they started whispering and looking at me. Finally, I went to the chickens, and they just walked away.

Considering no one liked me, I decided to run away from home after my owner fell asleep.

I climbed over the gate because I am athletic. I ran into a pole while running away. My owner found me and took me back. I felt defeated. I had failed my mission. The next day, I ran out again. This time, I went to the next available farm and met another pig. But the pig was already hanging out with his other friends.  

“Can we be friends?” I asked.

“I already have friends,” the pig said.

“Why can’t I still be your friend?”

“Because you’re not pretty.”

I walked away because I was annoyed.

So next time, instead of running, I decided to make other pigs come to me. So I snorted, and then the other pigs came to me, but all of them with their friends. So I went out again and went to the farthest farm away that couldn’t hear the snort, and there was one lonely pig. So I met this pig, but this pig was a meany! He laughed at me, ignored me, then walked away. This pig obviously needed help because he was not friendly.  Then, I decided to turn that pig into a nicey pig by teaching him to help his owners.  If you teach someone to be kind to someone else, they will be kind to you.

“To start your training, I will teach you the importance of helping your owner. If you help your owner, then they give you treats, and you get days off.”

“Fine. I’ll help! But that hasn’t made me change my mind about being mean.”

“First, go and collect hay from the hay barn. Then, eat all your food so he doesn’t have to throw it out. Finally, you need to clean the barn to show him you will do jobs.”

The pig agreed to do what I told him to do. The owner gave him three days off to do whatever he wanted. He came  to play with me during my three days off!

 

Bailey, Harley, and the Dead Bear

      

BAILEY

Do you want to play outside?

 

HARLEY

Sure.

 

BAILEY

What do you want to play?

 

HARLEY

We could play basketball.

 

BAILEY

Okay.

 

HARLEY

The first person to get 18 points wins.

 

BAILEY

Did you see that?

 

HARLEY

WHAT?

 

BAILEY

HA, I win! Let’s go to the park and play on the monkey bars.

 

HARLEY

Okay, that sounds really fun, and we can go on the swings.

 

BAILEY

Mom, can we go to the park?

 

MOM

Okay. Be back by three.

 

HARLEY

Okay, bye!

 

BAILEY

Last one to the swings is a rotten egg!

 

HARLEY

I win!

 

BAILEY

Did you see that in the woods?

 

HARLEY

What?

 

BAILEY

Something moved in the bushes!

 

HARLEY

Let’s go follow it.

 

BAILEY

But what if it’s dangerous?

 

HARLEY

But what if it’s not?

 

BAILEY

I guess we can go.

 

HARLEY

Let’s bring our phones so we have a flashlight just in case it is dark.

 

BAILEY

AHAHAHAHAH, there’s a bear!

 

HARLEY

RRRRRRRRRRRUUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNNNNNNNN!

 

BAILEY

AH! The bear grabbed us! He’s gonna eat us!

 

HARLEY

Goodbye, Bailey.

 

BAILEY

Goodbye, Harley.

 

BEAR

(Swallows)

 

HARLEY

I think I have a paper clip. What if we cut open the bear?

 

BAILEY

Okay, hand me it. I’m almost done… got it!

 

HARLEY

I think we killed it.

 

BAILEY’S MOM

Harley, Bailey, want me to give you a ride home?

 

BAILEY

Let’s go. My mom is here.

 

HARLEY

We should go play more basketball at my house.

 

Emotions

Jazzy stormed into the rap studio angrily, waiting for her crew. She suddenly noticed a note sitting on her beat-up, full-of-pencil-marks desk.

It said:

Dear Jazzy,

We’re at Rihanna’s party having the time of our lives. We’ll be back in time for rehearsal at 12:30 PM. See you later!

– Your crew.

Jazzy felt vulnerable and depressed that her crew wasn’t here to practice for the finals on America’s Got Talent. What if they got disqualified?! What if they forgot the lyrics, and what if they forgot the choreography? Aah, this was not going to be good!

***

Five minutes later…

Where were they? Where were they?? Her legs were shaking, her head was hurting, and she had butterflies in her stomach. Jazzy started turning and turning around, waiting for her crew to barge into the room.

Finally, she heard something, something squeaking or squealing or maybe it was the door?

“Hey, Jazzy!”

“Hey, Fred!”

“Sorry, Jazzy, that we bailed on you. It’s just we wanted to have some fun before the big day!”

“Then why didn’t you ask me if I wanted to come?”

“It’s because Rihanna invited only us, because she doesn’t know you, and she just knows us.”

“Well, you could’ve just said, ‘Hey, I’m going to blank’s party. I don’t think she or he will mind?!’”

“Anyway, we have to practice. So let’s get started!”

And so Jazzy and her crew ended up in New York and got accepted to the finals and world tour!

 

The Complicated Way

Prologue

I don’t know how to begin this action story, but I do know that it began in a strange place: Yale Law School. There was a strange man and an annoying, young girl. They were both 20 years old, and they somehow got mixed up with each other and found that nothing was going to be normal. Then Tanya, the young girl, solved the mystery. Then you will discover who your narrator is. So sit back and enjoy!

 

Chapter One

It was a long day, and Tanya was sitting at the edge of her seat, tapping her pencil loudly so the whole floor of Yale Law School could hear it. It was rather annoying, so everyone put in earbuds to buckle down to work. So much time had been used for writing a book of law. Now some annoying person deleted it. It was very obnoxious. So super frustrating. All of the hard work was erased.

She got out a computer and started to work. Busily typing away, she spotted Max standing up and asking to be excused from class for the second time today. Tanya wanted peace. And for the first time this term, she felt homesick. It was an awful, sick feeling of a strong desire for home. The smell of fresh bread.

Oh, and reader, this Max boy might interest you. He was the first person in the history of Yale Law to be such a trouble maker. A boy of that age, tsk, tsk. It was a shame.

Then there was Pierre, another boy, who always was the teacher’s pet. He was very mysterious too. He scared all the new kids half to death. He always acted odd. Tanya thought that she was annoying, but a good student. That was what she thought about herself. One time, Pierre was found by a teacher doing some sort of paperwork, and he ran and hid.

Tanya was nice, and she helped the instructors after school, and she was a great friend. But annoying. At the end of the next day, Tanya finished the law book. It took two days and a night. She was so tired. She felt like she just changed a time zone. She collapsed in her room and slept for an hour. Luckily, it was not a school day that day.

Now let’s talk about the other boy who was always smart and creepy – Pierre was his name. He was up to all the crazy things. It was even hard for the teachers to tell what was going on. He never was friends with Tanya. They were not that crazy about each other.

One day, an instructor told them they had to hang out with each other more than normal. That was the funny thing. That professor was weird. At first, they were super mad about the assignment. Then they realized that it was not that bad. They could just talk about their grades. Pierre got all A+ on his tests. That really stank for Tanya, she was hoping to make him look stupid. She got all A+ as well. Pierre was mad too, though. He wanted to make her look stupid. They both realized it was pointless to do anything together, even if it meant disobeying the instructor. They were angry. They did not have anything else in common.

 

Chapter Two

A couple years later, Tanya graduated from Yale and became a well experienced lawyer. She was hired by a judge in New Haven, Connecticut, right near the school. Eventually it was Tanya’s birthday. She was 20 after three years of law school. Rather boring to her. It was the life she chose though.  

She was getting closer to her parents’ house for her birthday party. It was an odd sensation to be on her own again, zipping around on a train. Back to her home when she was a kid. To her parents. Well, not really, but they were her grandmother and grandfather. Her mother had gone missing for a long time. Tanya was raised by her grandparents. It was hard to believe that she was living like that since she was a baby. She never had a father.

As the train approached the station, she wondered why the teacher had forced her and Pierre to be with each other that day in law school. She felt a little perplexed about that. Why did she have that sudden feeling to give up being with him back then? She was afraid of him. It was almost like they fought with each other and never wanted to end the fight. It felt like she hadn’t seen him in a century.

She got out a phone and called her grandparents.

“I’ll be home soon, don’t think something has happened to me,” said Tanya happily into the phone.

The train approached the station. The doors opened, and Tanya got off as soon as she could. She walked onto the dirt road. It was a lovely rural area, and all the flowers were glinting in the sunshine. The trees were all over the pathway, making a tunnel. She loved this area when she was a kid and was often found playing with her friends.

She was surrounded by memories. This is the best birthday she had in a while, the only birthday party in a couple years. She forgot the sensation.     

She arrived at the house and walked right in, a funny feeling of a really great home. It was a big, scarlet cottage with white shutters.  

 

Chapter Three

“Hi, honey, you arrived just in time for the start of the festivities. I invited a few more people, aside from you,” said her grandma.

In the room was her father, thought to be dead and, if you can believe it, me. The narrator. But I’m also another important person to Tanya. Her mother. So reader, you are correct that narrators can be characters. Tanya recognized us from the photos I told my mom to show her.

“How did you get here?” screamed Tanya at the top of her lungs.

Before I could answer, she noticed a classmate of hers. In the corner of the room, standing in the dark was… Pierre. Tanya was running into him, unplanned, all over again. His pale grey eyes were looking straight at Tanya.

“Why is he here?” asked Tanya.  

“An instructor at your school told me to invite him. Professor Clarkson was his name,” I said. “Could you and I have a private talk together?” I added.

We walked into the bedroom that used to be Tanya’s old bedroom. An old place with a red bed and posters that she drew supporting the president of that time. It was sort of humiliating because all of the things she liked then, she hated now. I thought her room was cute.

“Now, honey, the reason Mr. Clarkson wants you to find out what Pierre is hiding is because he wants you to find out what he is up to. He is acting more secretive. But in order to make this happen, I want you to be more sneaky. The reason I’ve been missing is because the president wants to promote you to a Supreme Court justice, and he wants me to talk about it with him. The first part of your life I was living in Europe as Secret Service for America.”

Tanya was very amazed to hear the news. It was also sorta scary. She was a good lawyer, but a Supreme Court justice was a big deal. The part I felt guilty not telling her about was that Pierre was also becoming a Supreme Court justice. It didn’t seem polite to tell her. She already had enough on her shoulders. It was a big thing to her that someone cared enough to throw her a birthday party. To me, it wasn’t fair to her that all this was happening on the same day. It was a lot to handle. In a couple days, she would go to Washington, DC! Where all the big stuff happened. Politics, cases, and large choices.

 

Chapter Four

The following day, and the day after that, passed. All of the fun passed too. A couple days later, Tanya boarded an Amtrak to Washington DC. An hour passed, and she walked out of the train and into the highest court in America: the Supreme Court. She went to an office to get the job. She got an interview and got the job. She went out of the office, feeling worried about if she had done the right thing or not. Was being a justice a good thing for the country? Was she going to mess up?

She buckled down to work and started looking for a case of some sort. Then when she looked around her office, she saw Pierre at the back of the room. He smirked. Tanya gasped as she dodged a firm slap.

“What are you doing? Nobody told me you were going to be a justice?” Pierre yelled.

It was scary that Pierre was cornering her like that. She was always a good student, so why did everybody want her to face this crack-pot! It was even more frustrating, she thought. All those people. They seemed scared, too. Of Pierre. She remembered when he once got in trouble and an instructor called him a filthy traitor. A traitor! He was a spy!  She’d better tell Newlin, the FBI head. She dialed the number: 322-122-655-9999. It picked up.

“Hello? Who is it?” asked Newlin.

“It is Tanya Ivanov. I want to report Pierre Gutwilling. He has conducted violence as a justice. I find it inappropriate that a justice should try to slap another one,” said Tanya in disbelief.

She was gobsmacked. Then Newlin came back on.

“We have delivered him to a jail, and his trial will be set in a couple days. You will be our eye-witness. Be there by dawn. I want you there also as a justice.”

Newlin hung up. Tanya heard a bit of heavy breathing after Newlin hung up. Tanya put away the phone book. She sat back in her chair, breathing heavily as well. It was a long day. She looked at the clock, which read midnight. She picked up her paperwork, put it in her bag, and headed out of the court. At last, she was free of Pierre, almost. She set her alarm clock to 5 o’clock. She instantly fell asleep.

The next day, Tanya got dressed, brushed her teeth, and combed her hair. She grabbed her bag and picked up a muffin on the way to the trial. Once she got there, she took out her papers and was determined to win the trial. She wouldn’t be rid of him temporarily, she would be rid of him forever. She sat down in a seat. She would be serving justice for herself. Tanya waited for the trial to begin. Finally, the judges and the lawyers and all the other people came into the large court. She was so happy until she realized that Pierre’s lawyer was amazing at court. She began trembling.

The judge started yelling, “THIS YOUNG JUSTICE CLAIMS THAT ANOTHER JUSTICE ATTEMPTED VIOLENCE.”

Then the real trial began. They all argued a lot, and then at last, they came to an end. Tanya had won the trial! She quit being a justice, it was all too much to handle, and then she began family life. In a couple years, she was a part of a family of four, and I was the grandma. The years after, Tanya was married and found that Pierre was a traitor. She also had kids. They were six years apart. One’s name was Ava, and the other one was Oscar. They both lived together in Washington, DC. The reason I can tell you is because out of all the fuss, the easiest person she could tell was me.

 

 

The End

 

Mason’s Escape

Prologue

Jul 16, 1969

The Moon

“One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”

As soon as those words were uttered, generations were inspired to ask themselves one question: Is there life on other planets? The people were half right.

 

To: XXXXXX XXXXX

Chairman Of The Board

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Should we tell the public? About what we really XXXXXXXXXX XX XX? It’s good we cut out half the transmission, right? I have so many questions. The XXXXXX would panic if they knew what we really saw! It’s amazing, isn’t it? Anyway, we’ll have to tell them at some point, right? But not right now, for I have a feeling we can keep it a secret.

Yours truly, XXXX XXXXXXXXX

 

Chapter One: The Lonely World

December 6, 2087 – 10:00 AM

Asphodel Space Station

They knew by now. They did. They knew what cataclysmic event doomed the human race to a miserable future of living on a space station. Even Mason Dell did, didn’t he? Mason was only ten, maybe eleven, because it was hard to tell your age in a place where the sun never set. The future wasn’t purely bleak, however. Humans had invented many devices, such as the SenseSet, a virtual reality device that was compatible with all five senses. Mason spent some time there, battling dragons or racing hovercars. Then there was the BioSim, a holographic device that could make you feel like you were on Earth, the Earth that existed before the “Event,” as the scientists called it. But Mason’s true favorite was the SpeedBike, a hundred-mile-per-hour bike that could take him anywhere, or on this occasion, school.

 

Chapter Two: Interrogation       

December 6, 2087 – 2:00 PM

The Institute Of Educational Facilities

“A caterpillar evolves into a cocoon, and that cocoon evolves into a butterfly,” the teacher said, eager to share his facts about Earth with everyone in the class.

Why share this with us if we could learn about this in the BioSim? thought Mason as he copied it down in his notebook. Tyler flicked a spitball at him, for he could not find a straw with which to do it. Tyler was the “mentally challenged” boy in Mason’s class. He was a boy who tended to explore the BioSim for days at a time, without even seeing real humans until he took it off.

At recess, Mason heard a familiar voice behind him.

“That spitball was only the warning shot, twerp,” Tyler said, grinning. “Now I’m locked and loaded, ready to finish you off!”

Mason ducked as Tyler shot his spitball gun at him rapidly until he couldn’t take it anymore. Tyler aimed for his ear when suddenly he heard a voice he had heard many times before.

“Put the gun down,” said the PC-467 automated law enforcement officer. “Want me to take you to Wilson, you criminal?”

The PC-467 grabbed Tyler by the shirt and began to walk away, still holding Tyler.

Mason stepped in front of the PC-467 and said, “You aren’t taking him to Wilson, you robotic freak!”

“Why not, if I may ask?” it replied.

“Because Tyler is my brother,” he replied. “And he isn’t going anywhere.”

 

Chapter Three: Wilson

December 6, 2087 – 4:00 PM

Location Unknown

There were two chairs in the room. Mason looked around cautiously. He peered and saw someone hiding in the shadows, watching him.

“Show yourself!” he said.

The man stepped out of the shadows and sat in the chair. He wore a blue pinstriped suit and an elegant bow tie. Wilson, thought Mason. Wilson was a robot created to be the “president” of the space station. He was created to make decisions, help solve problems, and most importantly, be the perfect leader so people would not consider overthrowing him. His voice was made to sound like a real human’s.

“I heard there was an ‘incident’ involving a patrol-bot,” he said.

“Do you know the real reason your brother stays in the BioSim for days at a time? It’s because he wants to go back to Earth. He hates it here. That’s the reason he bullies you all the time, you know. I wish I could help you, but he’s your brother, which means he’s your problem. Now step in the Transporter and head home. Bet your mother’s waiting for you.”

“You’re letting me off this easy?” said Mason as he stepped in the Transporter and punched in the coordinates.

“Your mother’s a personal friend of mine, remember?” Wilson replied.

“Thanks,” muttered Mason.  

My mother isn’t a personal friend of Wilson’s, she’s his secretary, he thought bitterly.

“Wait,” said Wilson. “I have one question for you. Do you also want to go back to Earth?”

Mason ignored him and teleported away.

 

Chapter Four: Home

December 6, 2087 – 6:00 PM

Mason’s House

Mason flopped onto the couch. Tyler was fiddling with some sort of strange gaming console.

“What’s that?” asked Mason.

“Found it in the space junk dump. People said it could be around 70 years old. Doesn’t even have a virtual reality aspect to it. The label says ‘XBOX 360.’”

Mason watched as Tyler tried to plug it into their VRVD (Virtual Reality Viewing Device) and a buzzing sound came on, and the words XBOX 360 flashed on the screen.

“Yes!” yelled Tyler.

He walked away and headed to the SenseSet.

“I thought you were going to play on it,” said Mason.

“Nah,” said Tyler. “I was just setting it up.”

He walked away and put on the SenseSet.

“Can I play?” asked Mason.

“Wait a minute,” said a familiar voice. It was Mason’s mother, Liz. “You boys should get something to eat.”

“But we want to play on the SenseSet!” they both said in unison.

“Okay, boys, but only for a short while.”

Mom winked at them, and he put the headset on.

 

Chapter  Five: Decisions

December 6, 2087 – 7:30 PM

Somewhere In Cyberspace

Mason heard a buzzing sound as he was transported to an unfamiliar world. Where am I? he wondered. He stared around, unsure of his surroundings. There was a waterfall, a grove of trees up ahead, and a knight in crystalline black armor next to him. Tyler’s character, he thought. He looked down and saw that he was wearing simple leather gear and carried a metal sword made of some sort of strange iron. Out of nowhere, aliens burst out of the grove, holding some sort of futuristic sword. Tyler grabbed a obsidian black bow, to match his armor, and started to pick off the aliens one by one.

“I thought this was medieval!” yelled Mason as Tyler speared an alien through the head, and it exploded into green goop.

“Hey, Tyler,” screamed Mason over the vicious roar of the aliens. “Do you really want to leave the space station?”

And just like that, everything stopped. Mason remembered many things about the space station he didn’t like, such as the ever-growing Tropic Zone, a place where humans could experience a man-made rainforest, or the Greenfield, a gigantic farm where most of Asphodel’s food came from. But his saddest memory was at the Lunar Aeronautics Facility, the place where his father used to work.

 

Chapter Five and a Half: A Dark Memory

July 29, 2081 – 1:30

Lunar Aeronautics Facility

Mason was six when it happened. His father was a pilot, a man who drove the rocket ships back and forth from Asphodel, either carrying cargo or passengers. One day, Mason’s father was assigned to a cargo flight where he carried something of utmost importance: moondust, the main building material in Asphodel. During the flight, a bag of moondust burst open, slid towards the window, and fogged up his windows, which caused a collision that killed everyone onboard both rockets. It is time, thought Mason. Time to leave the space station.

 

Chapter Six: Preparations

December 7, 2087 – 7:30 AM

Mason’s House

“Time to draw out the plan,” said Tyler as he began to draw on the board.

Tyler’s plan

  • Step One: Recruit a team
  • Step Two: Get weapons
  • Step Three: Sneak to the Hangar Bay
  • Step Four: Destroy The Defenses
  • Step Five: Steal an Escape pod
  • Step Six: Try not to get killed
  • Step Seven: Escape to Earth and live happily ever after

 

“You call this a plan?” asked Mason, as he read Tyler’s steps carefully. “And who would we recruit?”                         

***

They knew where to go first, of course. They opened the door, slowly and surely, and were flooded by light.                  

“Hey guys!” Joan sighed in relief.

“What’s all that code for?” asked Tyler.

“Just fixing the microwave. Anyhoo, what do you want me to hack?”

Tyler showed Joan his plan, and she said, “The Defenses, huh? I can hack those, probably even from here! And I’ve got the weapons covered too.”

She walked over to her MatterPrinter and pulled out a trove of futuristic weapons.

“Printed out weapons straight from the SenseSet. Tyler, you get the PlasmaBlade, I’ll take the PhotonBlaster, and Mason, you get the StarBow.”

“Cool!” yelled Mason excitedly.

“Yup! I’ve finished hacking,” reported Joan, and they set out for the hangar bay.

***

“Looks like the defenses are down,” exclaimed Tyler. “This is too easy.”

They ran towards the escape pod, but suddenly they heard a familiar voice behind them.
“And where do you think you’re going, children?”

    

Chapter Seven: Battle

December 7, 2087 – 12:30 PM

Asphodel Hangar Bay

The first bullet grazed Mason’s ear. Wilson stood there with a group of many police-bots.

“There will be no leaving Asphodel!” screamed Wilson, and the robot army surged forward.

A robot aimed for Tyler, but before he could fire, Mason’s arrow pierced its head. The robot promptly crumpled to the ground. Tyler gave Mason a thumbs-up, and they continued to battle. Mason’s arrows took down many robots, but there was just too many of them.

“Cover me!” yelled Joan, and she ran towards the Main Robotic System Control Room.

When Mason thought he just couldn’t take it anymore, he saw a flood of Asphodelians run to the battle. They were using anything to destroy the robots, even chairs. Suddenly, a robot ran up to Mason, but before it could get to him, it fell. What just happened? thought Mason. He looked around and saw all the robots falling onto the ground.

“Emergency… Shutdown…” shrieked one of them, and its eyes blinked out.

Joan stepped out of the control room.

“It’s amazing what you can do with a little hacking,” she said triumphantly.

Everyone cheered happily, but when Mason turned around, he saw a horrifying sight: Wilson was still alive, and he was holding a gun to Tyler’s head!

“Do you really want to leave, Mason? Do you want to go back to the planet the aliens overtook?” he said.

Mason remembered the story, of course. There was extraterrestrial life on the moon, and it had been on the moon for millions of years. One day, in 2036, it dropped a small capsule that carried an extremely lethal virus into the ocean. The virus spread fast, and anyone who drank the water was dead within a minute. Millions died every day, until every country in the world put all their money together to create Asphodel. Asphodel, thought Mason, the last place where the human race is safe. He looked over at Wilson.

“Say goodbye to your – ” Wilson fell to the ground, and standing behind him was Mom, holding a laser gun.

She looked at Wilson and said, “You aren’t touching my kids you little – ”

The next parts she said were not appropriate for younger readers. The crowd cheered louder this time, for their victory in the Battle of Asphodel!

 

Chapter Eight: Departure

December 7, 2087-2:30 PM

Asphodel Hangar Bay

It was time to leave, time to take the escape pods back to Earth.

“Raise your hand if you wish to leave Asphodel,” yelled Mason.

Everyone raised their hand, of course.

“Okay, we are gonna need a lot of escape pods,” he chuckled.

He saw Joan boarding her pod. He ran up to her and promptly kissed her on the cheek.

“Um, thanks for what you did back there,” he said.
He looked her in the eye, blushed quickly, and ran back to his escape pod.

“Come on!” said Mom excitedly, and he boarded the pod.

Time to put on one of my favorites, thought Mason as he plugged the headphone jack into into his PortaTune, the device he listened to music on.

Imagine there’s no heaven,

It’s easy if you try

Mason’s mother revved the engine, and the escape pod began to float into the air.

No hell below us

Above us only sky

Imagine all the people

Living for today… Aha-ha…

Their escape pod slowly headed out of Asphodel, and Mason looked back at what used to be his home.

Imagine there’s no countries

It isn’t hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for

And no religion, too

Earth quickly came into view, and the pod headed towards it.

Imagine all the people,

Living life in peace… you…

You may say I’m a dreamer

But I’m not the only one  

I hope someday you’ll join us

And the world will be as one

Mason stared straight into the eyes of the planet Earth, the planet he would soon call home.

 

The End?

 

Special Thanks:

Thank you to everyone in Writopia, especially my instructors, for providing me with a comfortable and exciting place where I could share my ideas with new people.

Thanks to my parents, for providing me with help every step of the way, and thanks to everyone in my Writopia class for providing me with great ideas.                                                                                                                            

“Imagine” written and sung by John Lennon, 1979        

 

Joe the Bird

PROLOGUE

There was once a bird named Joe. He was living with his parents. He was just a little baby and was looking up at his mother. He was crying.

“There, there, there,” said his mom. “Your father is going to come home, and then you’re going to have some worms.”

“Yay!”

“That’s your first word! Yippee!”

“Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay! Yay!”

“Okay, you can stop saying it now.”

“Yay!”

“Oh look, here he comes!” said his mom, trying to change the subject.

“Yay!”

“Oh dear.”

Soon, Joe’s dad came flying in.

“I brought you some worms.”

“Yay!”

“That’s his first word, honey!” said Joe’s dad.

“But he won’t stop saying it,” said his mom.

“This worm’s name is Wormy,” said his dad.

“How can you tell?” asked his mom.

“Well, he has a name tag saying Wormy. Here you go, honey.”

But Joe wouldn’t eat it. He thought that it was special.

“If you won’t eat it, then I will,” said his dad. “I’ll teach you how to eat a worm.”

“No! No! Please, no!” said Wormy. “I’ll do anything! Don’t feed me to you!”

“Okay, me and Suali were considering enlisting in the bird army. We’re fighting against those horrid humans in Germany that are trying to make birds extinct. Could you take care of our dear Joe?”

“Yes.”

“Yay!” yelled Joe. “Best worm!”

“His first three words,” said his mom. “Yay, best, and worm!”

“I have tons of friends, Joe,” said Wormy.

“Are they worms?” asked his mom.

“Yes.”

“Well then, teach him not to eat worms and just to eat fruits. If I had to choose, I would choose berries.”

 

Part I

Joe was happy, but he wanted something very badly. He wanted the crown of the king of England. One day, he tried to sneak into England, but was stopped by his caretaker, Wormy. Wormy blocked the entrance, and when Joe tried to fly over him, Wormy’s friends came over and piled on top of him until they were so high that Joe could not fly over them.

“You’re not going to get past us, Joe.” said Wormy and his friends in unison.

Joe stalked back to his tree angrily.

“Why can’t they see that it’s just going to be a short trip? It’s just there and back, just stopping once to grab/steal the crown.”

“I heard that!” yelled Wormy.

Feeling hungry, Joe flew up to his nest. He ate some strawberries (since his caretaker was a worm, he couldn’t eat them) and started to feel better.

“I’ll come up with a plan, sooner or later.”

It turned out to be sooner.That night, when Wormy’s friend, Gill, was taking the night shift, Joe put his plan into action. First he ate some of his strawberries that he had been saving and threw up over the side of the nest.

“Joe is throwing up!” Gill yelled. “Wake up, Wormy!”

Wormy leaped out of his microscopic bed and ran to the scene.

“Ha ha ha! Now you can’t go to England! Na na na boo boo!”

Then Gill said, “I think I’m gonna go inside with Wormy cause you’re too sick, you can’t leave for England.”

Then Gill accompanied Wormy inside the house. As soon as they were out of his sight, Joe ate anti-throw up medicine and grabbed a couple of strawberries. Then he flew off towards England.

In England, Joe had a hard time finding his way around. Pretty soon, he came to the exhibit where they were showing the king and queen’s castle. Then, when no one was looking, he found a place where there was a rope across it, and it said “Restricted.” When no one was looking, he flew inside.

Once he was inside, a bunch of guards came. But his blue feathers blended in perfectly with the wall.

One of the guards said, “This must be someone’s idea of a cruel joke. Let’s go back.”

Then when the coast was clear, Joe flew in. And there it was. The crown.

There was a blind man who said, “It is I, the keeper of the crown. You will not get past me.”

But he was looking in the wrong direction since he was blind. Joe was on the left, flying towards the crown, and the man was shaking his cane at air on the right. Joe grabbed the crown and tried to lift it, but he couldn’t.

So he called out for his friends.

“Tweet tweet tweet!”

Soon, fifty more birds came, and they lifted the crown and flew off towards Joe’s house. It was a long journey, and Joe only had one strawberry left. They all split it, but it was hardly anything. Luckily, one of his friends, whose name was Grace, had blueberries. They all devoured them.

Soon they got home. It was nighttime. The trip had only taken him a few hours. When he got back, he flew inside his nest and ate some strawberries. Then he went to Wormy.

“I got the crown! You kept thinking it was impossible! But it wasn’t! I got it!” Wormy looked really scared. “What’s wrong?”

“You should have never brought the crown.”
“Why?”

“Now they will be sending guards after us. They will capture you, and me, and all my friends, and all your friends, and steal the crown back. We need to go. Now.”

Soon, Wormy was ready, so Joe called “tweet tweet tweet” again to bring his friends. Now fifty more birds came, so in total, there were one hundred and one birds, including Joe. All of them picked up two worms and flew off. Soon it was just Wormy, Retcher, Gill, and Joe left. Wormy, Retcher, and Gill hopped on Joe’s back and flew just as one of the king’s guards was about to grab Joe’s tail feather. They flew all the way until they got to Greece, but it turned out word had got out there that the king’s crown was stolen, and they had to move to Spain.
Soon they made a new house, and Wormy, Joe, and all their friends lived happily ever after.

 

Part II

Joe was very adventurous. He had already gone to England, stolen the king’s crown, went to Greece, was chased to Spain, and was now living there. He had already learned about 75% of Spanish, but he usually used English at his house. Right now, he was lying in his bed/nest, and he was bugging Wormy so much.

He was saying, “Why can’t I go on another adventure? Why can’t I go on another adventure?”

“You can’t. It’s too dangerous,” Wormy said.

“I’ve already been to England! I’ve already been to Greece! I’ve already been in America, and right now I’m in Spain! Why can’t I go on another adventure? It’s not dangerous. Well, even if it is dangerous, I’m not gonna get hurt!”

“You nearly broke your tail feather last time you went on an adventure!”

“But they grow back!”

“No they don’t!”

“Okay, maybe they don’t, but I won’t break my tail feather!”

“Fine, you can go on another adventure, but I get to choose where you go.”

“Yippee!”

“You get to go to… drumroll please, Gill.”

“Where?”

“To… India!”

“Where in India?”

“I did not say India, I said Indiana,”

“Sorry, I could have sworn I heard India.”

“Well, when you’re in Indiana, you get to go and… another drumroll please, Gill.”

“Just tell me where already!”

“You get to go to… Times Square!”

“I don’t think there is a Times Square in Indiana. Yeah, that’s in New York.”

“No, you know where I mean! I mean, you get to go to the middle of Indiana! That’s the best place!”

“Wormy, you know what I’ve been telling you. If you say Times Square, everyone’s gonna think you mean Times Square in New York.”

“Okay, okay, I get it, Joe. I’m an old worm, you can’t blame me.”

“Wormy, you’re twenty years old.”

“You know what I mean!”

“What did I say about literal translations?” As soon as Joe said those words, Wormy walked/wriggled away. Then, feeling rather hungry, Joe picked some strawberries and ate them. He then picked a few blueberries and saved them for dinner. After that, he flew down from his nest, and said “hi” to Gill and then said “tweet tweet tweet” which was his way of saying, “I want you, friends.” Then twenty of his friends came, and they all played tag until dinner. Then all the birds went home, and Joe ate his blueberries that he had been saving. When Wormy climbed up the tree and told him that he should rest up for his trip tomorrow, he fell asleep.

In the morning, Joe brushed his feathers, and then he flew off outside his house and left a present on someone’s head. Then he grabbed a stick that was perfectly round that he kept as a toothbrush and put some mint on it, and then he brushed his teeth. After that, he ate some blackberries, packed some raspberries for lunch, some strawberries for snack, and blueberries for dinner and then he practiced flying, and then he said bye to Gill, Wormy, and the rest of the worms, and then flew off towards America. He had to stop for lunch in Germany, which he did not like. It was too busy, and everyone was so demanding. He stopped in the tree, but he didn’t have time to make a nest, so he just put a few twigs down. And then he sat down and had lunch, which was raspberries. As soon as he finished lunch and took a half an hour nap, he practiced flying for ten minutes, and then he went for America. It was a very long flight, so he had to stop for a snack in New Jersey. He went to a place where his old owners were, and they still liked him, so they let him stay and fed him the strawberries. Then he napped for ten minutes, practiced flying for two minutes, and left for Indiana.

When he got to Indiana, he was recognized by many people because they had all heard that he knew the people who lived in New Jersey. They were very rich. He was welcomed with open arms. Then, he went to the middle of Indiana where he was expected by the Sawyer family. They took him to their house, which was very nice, and fed him full with blueberries and even got him some water. Then they went around their place, showing him all of the nice things where they lived, and then Mr. Sawyer promised to take him on a sightseeing trip in the morning. Then, Joe went to bed.

In the morning, just like he had promised, Mr. Sawyer took him around Indiana on a sightseeing trip. They had seen all the nice places in Indiana and were in a church when Mr. Sawyer got a call on his phone from Wormy. Wormy had been asking when he was going to get home and said that all the worms had missed him.

Joe said, “I’m coming back, Wormy, I just want to finish looking at this church. Then I promise I’ll fly back.”

Then he finished looking at the church, and they walked/flew back to Mr. Sawyer’s house. There, he had some raspberries, packed some blackberries, strawberries, and blueberries, then flew all the way to Canada. There, he had his lunch. After that, he flew to Germany and had strawberries as a snack. Then he napped for an hour, flew around the tree where he was three times, then flew all the way back to Spain. When he got there, he was greeted by worms singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” even though it was the middle of spring, and Joe pointed out that it was spring so they should be singing “We Wish You a Merry Easter”, and so they sang “We Wish You a Merry Easter.”

Then Wormy said, “Where were you? We thought you were going to come at lunch time. Why are you coming so late?”

“Well, it’s not an easy flight from here to America, so I had to stop both ways two to three times.”

“Well, next time you go on an adventure, you come earlier.”

“I promise I will, Wormy. But most of the birds who go on adventures usually go for a few weeks, and then their parents and caretakers say that they go for too short a time.”</