Elena & Hercules

If there was such a thing as the most lonely yet serene moment, this would be it. The glowing signs of stores and restaurants, the wind flowing through her curly, blonde hair, the memories of what was once a bustling city. How could so much destruction occur in so little time? The only answer lies in a newspaper that someone had left on the ground — an unidentified terrestrial being with the power to wipe out approximately 90,000 people. A being of so much size and strength, even the government’s most powerful resources couldn’t defeat it. This being was officially classified as “???” — creative. Although, that didn’t end up mattering as the whole city was wiped out. Only one human was left in this desolate place. A human who, at the time, was unconscious in a coma, and had been for years.

Her name was Elena. But her name didn’t really matter, as there was no longer anybody to refer to her by it. Starvation wasn’t an issue, as there were grocery stores and markets of enough food to last over a lifetime. If you were in this girl’s position, there would be multiple options for what she would do first. Some would say to hunt, to look for water, to look for shelter. Elena, however, did none of this. Food and water was accessible to her, and she could easily go into any of the skyscrapers or apartment buildings that were once full of residents. As she walked around, she held onto the hope that maybe, just maybe, there was at least one other human left. As Elena ran frantically around the city, she came to the harsh realization that what used to be her city, her home, was crumbling down to nothing at all. And in the future, if that even existed, some wealthy human would rebuild the city, and not a single soul would recall what used to be. Or possibly it would never be rebuilt, left to hide away in the dust. Only time would tell.

Over months of living in the city’s poor conditions, Elena grew used to the environment. However, the isolation was making a gradual impact on her sanity. She heard whispers behind her as she left each room and saw shadows behind her whenever she looked in the mirror. In terms of shelter, she had chosen to live in what used to be someone’s small house, a fair distance from the other buildings in the city. The house was old, and not in great condition. But it held the one thing Elena had left: her hope. So far, the first room- the kitchen- was definitely old. Dust bunnies hid under the furniture, moss grew in the corners, and yet, she felt drawn to this house. Possibly, it was because, although she was all by herself, her surroundings kept Elena company. The night sky, each star holding hope and determination, the plants, keeping their heads up despite the times, the dusty stacks of books on the floor, every one containing a story of its own, waiting to be unraveled. 

As she walked around the house, Elena found another room. When she pushed the wooden door open, it produced a loud creak. Elena turned the light on, and she saw that inside was a washing machine. However, the machine held unwashed clothes, so she scooped up the damp clothes and hung them on the drying rack. She let out a weary breath as she left the room, slamming the door behind her. As a furious cloud of dust rose from the ground, Elena hurried away, searching for a washroom of some kind. Elena heard the sound of a door opening, followed by a voice: I’m home! But after rushing to the main door, she found that nobody was there. Had the voice really been in her head? It sounded too realistic to be merely a product of imagination. Elena shrugged it off as she came across another door. She then spotted one ant, then another, before realizing each ant was following the other. After staring down the trail of ants with hopes to intimidate them, Elena slowly twisted the doorknob. Unexpectedly, the door swung open before she could push it. She felt a cool breeze hit her, and she realized how much she had been sweating. The air pressure must have opened the door on its own. Regardless, the air conditioning felt good after being in the heat. She walked around the bathroom. It was pretty much just a standard bathroom, a toilet, a sink faucet, a shower, a mirror. Seeing herself in the mirror, Elena realized how much of a mess her hair had become. Hastily, she grabbed a hairbrush and began brushing out the thick knots. 

After Elena finished brushing her hair, she saw another door right across from the bathroom. This wooden door was the gateway to a bedroom. To her surprise, the bedroom was clean. It had no moss growing in the corners, no bugs either… just a bit dusty. This was suspicious, so Elena looked around the room. She found bug traps on the floor, and some sort of spray on the desk, probably to prevent moss. Whoever lived in this house before must have paid heavy attention to their sleeping conditions. Suddenly, Elena heard a scratching noise. She whipped her head around. The scratching continued. It was coming from her left. She left the bedroom and started to the left, and the sound got louder. She followed it into another room that seemed to be the last room inside. The house sure was bigger than it looked. Inside the room, there was a pet bed, a cat tower, a litter box and a cat that had been scratching at the wall. Elena saw the cat, and started to tear up. She had thought she was completely alone, but she wasn’t. The cat walked over to her and rested in her lap, while her tears dotted its orange fur. 

Elena checked inside the closet, and discovered three huge bags of cat food. She poured it into the cat’s bowl and left the room. She felt the empty dryness under her eyes where her tears had fallen. Do you feel alright, Elena? Are you lonely? Elena stopped dead in her tracks. Was she talking to herself, was someone else talking to her? Or was she just hearing things? She was deep in thought when she felt something licking her leg. She looked down, and saw the same orange cat. “I should give it a name,” Elena mumbled to herself. The cat felt like a hero to her. From that, the cat’s name was decided: Hercules. And so, from then on, it was Elena and Hercules against whatever was out there, and whatever, or whoever, had destroyed their city.

Night had fallen, so Elena started over to her bed. And as she had always done, she buried herself in the blanket and closed her eyes. But, this time, it felt different. She noticed that she was shaking slightly, and the whispers she heard grew louder, to the point where she had to pull the blanket over her head to feel safe. Although, she was exhausted, so she soon fell unconscious. Elena slept well that night. 

When Elena woke up in the morning, her vision was blurred. But even what she could make out, her body, didn’t feel like her own. Her green eyes, her pale arms, her blonde curls, felt as if they belonged to someone else. But technically, one’s body is just a way to express their mind. So does one’s physical appearance belong to nobody? She pondered as she wandered around her room, deep in thought. She realized that she could no longer wait around. It would be a miracle for anyone to come and save her, and she had to figure out how to make that miracle happen. Elena threw the door open and ran through the hallway, out the house, to the grocery store or what was once a grocery store. She gathered food and bottled water in her drawstring bag along with an emergency poncho. Elena then had an idea, and she hurried to the convenience store. She was thrilled to find a satellite phone, a map of the closest cities on land, and an old-fashioned watch. The city was on an island, so it would be practically impossible to look for nearby cities. However, if she could call for help via satellite phone, she would have a chance at leaving the city. There was one last matter to worry about: Hercules the cat. 

Back in the house, she poured some catnip into a small plastic bag, scooped up the cat. With that, Elena walked outside. She was aware that she had no chance of swimming across half of an ocean, but maybe she could find a boat. The biggest concern was whether or not she could drive, as the tide was usually low and storms occurred rarely. Down at the beach, there was a boat in decent condition. She climbed on and sprinted to the captain’s area. Elena gripped the wheel with determination. Her father had taught her how to use a boat when she was young, but whether she had held onto that knowledge was unknown. She started up the boat, but it wouldn’t budge. Possibly a piece of seaweed had clogged the motor? Or was the boat falling apart? She stared at the water. By now, the sun had set and stars had started to paint the sky. But one star shone so brightly, and it was moving horizontally… it wasn’t a star. It was a shooting star, a comet. Elena’s parents told her to always wish on a shooting star, so she closed her eyes as she wished for help in leaving the city, and for help in finding answers. She suddenly felt her boat ascending, lifting off the ground. Out of instinct, she tried to grab the water, as if it would hold her down. But she had stopped rising upward. The water was carrying her boat across the water using a wave. The wind sang a lullaby, and somehow, Elena fell asleep on that very boat.

When Elena opened her eyes, she blinked multiple times to confirm what she was seeing. The figure of a person, shaped of… water? Surely she was just lucid dreaming. Or, at least, that was what she told herself. The person, who seemed to be some sort of water spirit, also had something cradled in their arms. It was a cat, an orange cat. Elena stared at it with disbelief. Her cat. Or so she thought. The spirit spoke. 

“Thank you for returning my cat to me, Elena.”

Elena nodded, but was still full of unanswered questions. Who was this person? What was this person? How was Hercules related to them in any way? How did they control water? Who destroyed her city? What destroyed her city?

“May I ask a question?” Elena began.

“Go ahead.”

“What destroyed my city?”

The water spirit was silent for a moment, and the silence grew loud. Elena waited anxiously for a response.

“It was a creature from the largest galaxy in existence, the Crowned Galaxy.”

“How big is our galaxy in comparison?”

“The Milky Way is the smallest galaxy in the universe.”

Thinking of her galaxy as “small” made Elena’s head hurt. The human mind could never comprehend such colossal sizes. It can barely comprehend dinosaurs, much less a galaxy multiple times bigger than ours.

The spirit continued. “The species was classified as “Accidentals.” It was created by alien scientists who were experimenting with genetics. They had unpurposefully created a heavily destructive and massive species. An Accidental could destroy your whole city with one footstep. And so it did.”

“What happened after that?”

“It left. The species was so large, it could hop galaxies. As a result, it had hopped into the Milky Way, presumably found that it was boring, and hurried back to its home galaxy. Or perhaps it ran to a larger one to cause destruction in a more ‘interesting’ galaxy.”

Incomprehensive tornadoes swirled around Elena’s mind. Who knew the truth could be so heavy? But after this, she had one more simple question.

“What’s your name?”

“Call me Hydro.”

Hydro then descended gracefully back into the ocean, as their figure slowly melted into the water. Elena’s skin started to glow, and she felt energy rush through her body. A voice in her head, Hydro’s voice, told her that she had received the power of water preservation. Elena then knew what Hydro wanted her to do. If too many humans learned about the other galaxies, the future of humanity would never be the same. However, if humans never found out, there would be no future. Elena found that her boat’s motor had seemed to be working. Perhaps Hydro had fixed it. Regardless, she started up the motor, turned the boat around, and drove it right back to the city’s beach.

Back in her house once again, Elena took out a book and began to write. She wrote about the other galaxies, about the Accidentals, about Hydro, about everything she had learned. She knew that she would spend the rest of her years writing this book. Suddenly, she saw Hercules sitting next to her. Isn’t he with Hydro? She thought. 

Hydro isn’t with me right now, she heard Hercules’ voice say. The old Elena would question this, but she already found a water spirit, so this was expected. I can’t believe you wouldn’t even care to put me in the book, said Hercules’ voice. 

Are you even magical? Elena wondered. 

Of course I am! Elena laughed and started writing about Hercules and Hydro’s connection.

Did you know I’m actually a fire spirit? Elena stared at him as if he were joking. 

I’m serious!He transformed into a similar shape as Hydro, but in red. 

You were serious, Elena realized. It felt odd to see her cat in such a form, although it was his original form.

Elena continued to write in that book for her last years. But eventually, those last years turned into last months, and those last months turned into last days, until the day she dragged her pen through the last letter of her book. She scattered water across the cover, and the droplets began to glow bright blue. The glowing water encased the book, and Elena left it out on her desk. She laid down in her bed. For the last time, she buried herself in the covers. And for the last time, the stars watched her tired eyes shut closed. Elena, the forgotten girl in a forgotten city, never opened her eyes ever again. Someday, her knowledge would be discovered, rekindled. And her body, her rested mind, would always be watched over by the friends she had made. 

That is the tale of Elena and Hercules.

The Magdusa: Part I

Chapter 1

Eggs and Milk

Ryan got on his red bike as the sun was about to disappear behind the oak trees in the county of Watching, New Jersey. As Ryan looked around while he peddled his way home to his small house atop Yan Mountain, he spotted the usual warning sign about some creature that apparently roamed the Watching Reserve. Ryan thought these rumors were fake just like a regular person would believe that aliens don’t exist. The village drunk who was some man named John claimed that the creature was known as the Magdusa and was around 6 and a half feet tall. John also claimed that the Magdusa could lift 20 elephants with one arm. These rumors, Ryan thought, were the stupidest thing he’d ever heard, which was nearly as stupid as his annoying little sister. 

Ryan hit the brakes as he finally arrived at his tiny house which he was forced to live in with his Mom and She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named, his little sister. Ryan hung up his red Adidas hoodie on the wall.

“Ryan, do you have the eggs and milk I told you to buy 6 hours ago?” said Ryan’s mom, Anna, in a surprisingly calm tone even though she told Ryan to come home about 5 hours ago with the groceries. 

“I have the stuff right here,” said Ryan, patting his jacket down. Ryan’s body tensed as he realized the impossible, he had left the eggs and milk at the reserve 5 hours ago when he was having Ryan & Ryan time.

“Ryan, where is the food?” said Anna, giving Ryan her infamous glare that could stop a car right in its tracks.

Chapter 2

A Monster

Ryan sulked out of the house as he trudged over to his bike, his mind replaying the scene 5 minutes ago: his mom giving him hell on earth for being “lazy and selfish” for forgetting easily replaceable foods at the reserve. 

Instead of just sending Ryan out to the grocery store the next day when it was open, Anna decided to send Ryan back to the reserve to retrieve the groceries. Ryan grumbled while he rode his bike down the steep roads of Yan Mountain. Even though Ryan was forced to go to the reserve in the pitch-black night, Ryan wasn’t scared at all. Besides, for his 10th birthday a year ago, he got headlights installed on his bike. He also had asked for a dirt bike but Anna said, It cost too much and you have to earn it

The wind whistled behind Ryan’s ears as he picked up speed on a slope edging towards the end of the mountain.*CRASH* Ryan’s heart skipped a beat as he was thrown off his bike and onto the hard concrete of the road. Ryan felt the trickle of blood as his nose was bleeding. Ryan saw his bike’s headlights shine on a figure whose back was facing Ryan. The figure made a jerking motion as it smashed its fist into Ryan’s bike and the headlights broke, turning the road pitch black. Ryan’s heart was beating a gazillion times a millisecond as the figure, who Ryan assumed was the Magdusa, sniffed the air and walked towards Ryan’s direction. Ryan froze as the Magdusa came closer and closer to where Ryan was lying on his butt. In the dark, Ryan could make out bright green eyes that resembled emeralds as the Magdusa loomed over Ryan who was about 4 feet away. Suddenly, Ryan grasped his senses back from where they had wandered off to and made a run for his life. The Magdusa swiftly changed direction and stomped towards Ryan, as its footsteps could be heard from thousands of miles away. The wounded Ryan immediately sped up to the point where he felt like the Flash as the Magdusa suddenly stopped and sprinted down the mountain. Ryan didn’t stop sprinting until he spotted the light of his house. Ryan slammed the door shut then rushed upstairs to his tiny bedroom.

Chapter 3

Breakfast With Maggie 

Ryan woke up the next morning with a splitting headache. He had dreamed that he had been eaten and swallowed by the treacherous Magdusa. Ryan had never believed that the Magdusa prowled the forest until now. The stairs creaked as Ryan trotted downstairs to smell that Anna had prepared a delicious breakfast which in his household was a medium-sized plate of porridge and a glass of milk, but Ryan never drank the milk and immediately closed up his nostrils as Maggie drained her glass of milk in one large gulp. 

“Good morning,” said Ryan to Anna as he let out a long yawn.

“Hello, brother, it’s 10:00 A.M. and you were supposed to get your behind out and over to breakfast 2 hours ago and I already ate and drank your porridge and milk,” sneered Maggie. Ryan groaned as he sat down far away from Maggie at the wooden, 4 seat table. “Why so far away loser, scared?” taunted Maggie with a sneer on her ugly face which other people thought was very pretty.

“Leave me alone,” grunted Ryan as he got up from his seat and prepared to change and go biking back to the reserve. Ryan walked towards Maggie’s direction as he prepared to make a dash upstairs to avoid making eye contact with Maggie, then something caught Ryan’s eye. He had never really noticed how green Maggie’s eyes were. Today, Ryan wondered why her eyes seemed so familiar.

Chapter 4

Johnathan Or John

After, Ryan changed into his average look of navy blue sweatpants and a classic red Adidas hoodie, which only he knew had stains from a bloody nose that were otherwise unrecognizable due to his red hoodie but could be smelled if you were wearing it. Ryan knew Anna was still pissed at him for losing the food so Ryan was forced to bike all the way back to the Watchung Reserve’s millions of miles of lush greenery (The Watchung Reservation is actually 3.039 square miles). 

Ryan trotted outside and realized that his bike was destroyed from the incident last night with the Magdusa. It’s going to take hours and hours and hours of walking to get to the reserve, thought Ryan (the actual walk is around an hour and twenty-five minutes). Then, Ryan had an evil but brilliant idea, he was going to steal Maggie’s bike and use it to get to the reserve. 

Ryan sped down the mountain then came to a sudden stop. There was a gaping hole in the middle of the road, and in the middle was Ryan’s bike, perfectly fine as though nothing had happened. This was, of course, a shock for Ryan who was just replaying the incident last night in his head, his bike destroyed by the Magdusa. Ryan thought for a second then shrugged. He figured that must have just been daydreaming and that there was no way the Magdusa actually existed.

After dropping Maggie’s bike on the greenery beside the road next to the mysterious house 1313, which was the only house he actually recognized on Yan Mountain besides his own. There were a few things that made house 1313 so mysterious and creepy. The first thing was that nobody knew who lived in the house; the second thing was that the house looked very worn out and thousands of years old and Ryan knew that a serial killer was definitely a threat but it was extremely unclear if this house was a threat but Ryan was most certain that it was a threat.

“Okay, here I go,” said Ryan to himself. Ryan furiously peddled down the mountains for he had just wasted 10 minutes stealing his sister’s bike, thinking about his own bike, finding his bike, and staring at house 1313. The bike skidded to a stop as Ryan reached the end of the mountain. Ryan wiped some sweat off his forehead as he watched cars speeding past him, he knew he had to be precise to get past the river of cars in front of him. The cars continued to speed past Ryan as he waited for the exact moment a gap would appear between the two lanes of vehicles, the opportunity came and Ryan didn’t waste it and immediately peddled as fast as his legs could through the rare gap between the lanes of cars. “Well, I’m finally here,” said Ryan with a breath of relief as he stood in front of the gates of the Watchung Reserve. Now, all Ryan had to do was pay to get in and search millions of miles for a carton of eggs and a container of milk.

Ryan sighed as he got in a line for the reserve which was smaller than usual. Ryan looked around and he saw the usual 20 dollars = adult, 15 dollars = child. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the dirtiest five and ten dollar bills he’d ever seen, there was some blood and many creases on both bills. Once it was Ryan’s turn to pay to get in the Watchung Reserve. “30 dollars, please,” said the cashier, whose name tag said James Raskolnikov, he looked fresh out of college.

“What?” said Ryan, looking confused.

“I said, 30 dollars, please. If you’re deaf, then go to the visitors center for some help,” responded James in a rude tone.

“But the sign says 15 dollars = child,” said Ryan.

“Well, I guess you didn’t read the other sign. It says bike or any other vehicle = 15 dollars,” said James with a smug look on his face. Inside Ryan’s head, he thought, Man, this kid is a stupidly bad liar. I’ve been coming here for half of my life and I have never seen any sign like that. But Ryan knew he had to pay the 30 dollars which meant his snack money would now be no more. 

“Okay,” grumbled Ryan as he took out 2 crumbled dollar bills and gave them to James.

“Thank you, sir,” said James. Ryan hopped on his bike, while he was riding away he heard James shout, “Next!”

Ryan knew the eggs and milk could be anywhere throughout the forest so he decided to try and remember where he had put them to go… ugh, Ryan had forgotten what he had done after he had set the eggs and milk down on a log. Now Ryan was doubting he even bought eggs and milk. That gave Ryan an idea, a good one, too. Ryan’s idea was he could go to the store to buy doubles of the eggs and milk, then Ryan remembered his “snack money” was actually the money he could’ve used to buy the doubles of eggs and milk. 

“Well, there goes my idea,” said Ryan to a tree. Ryan imagined the tree saying back, 

“You deserved it,” with a mean face that somehow resembled Anna’s. Ryan hopped back on his bike and rode off. 

Suddenly, Ryan stopped to see a raggedy old man, eating raw eggs and milk while sitting on a tree stump. Ryan looked carefully at the food and immediately realized that the old man, who probably couldn’t afford to get in the reserve, was gobbling his family’s food.

“Old man, where did you get that food?” asked Ryan, who was trying not to lose his temper.

“Well, if you want some, there’s plenty to go around, Ryan,” said the old man, smiling with his teeth all dark yellow.

“Wait, how do you know my name?” said Ryan suspiciously.

“I know a lot of things, Ryan,” said the old man with a wink.

“What’s your name?” asked Ryan, who was already creeped out by the fact that this old man knew his name.

“Johnathan, but you can call me John,” said Johnathan or John with a smile. Ryan suddenly asked a question he’d been meaning to ask ever since he’d known the old man he was currently talking to was the village drunk.

“John, can you tell me about the Magdusa?” asked Ryan curiously.

“Sure,” said John.

 Chapter 5

Information From John

John moved the eggs and milk next to the tree stump as he prepared to tell Ryan all about the Magdusa. 

“So Ryan, what do you want to know about the Magdusa?” asked the old man looking Ryan right in the eye.

“Uhhhh, everything you know, sir,” said Ryan who was shifting uncomfortably on his tree stump.

“Very well then,” said the old man.

“Well, okay then,” said Ryan with a fake smile plastered on his face.

“The Magdusa is believed to be 20 feet tall but I believe it is 6 foot 5 inches (6’ 5”) tall. Any questions?” asked John.

“If the Magdusa is that big, how come no one has seen it?” said Ryan.

“Well, many believe the Magdusa can turn any person it looks at into a food of its choice, but I believe the Magdusa turns into a human during daylight and into its monster form when the sun sets,” said John.

“But how does the Magdusa turn into its monster form without being seen by people?” said Ryan who was beginning to feel suspicious about John’s knowledge about this strange creature. 

“That is where the Watchung Reservation comes in, child. When it is night, the Magdusa goes into the forest and transforms into its monster form,” said John.

“But what if the Magdusa is seen by a person?” asked Ryan.

“The Magdusa won’t be seen because it always waits for people to fall asleep, then it comes out,” said John.

“But doesn’t the Magdusa eat humans? So how does the Magdusa eat humans when it waits for everyone to be asleep?” asked Ryan.

“If somebody sees the Magdusa in its monster form, it will hunt the person down and kill them,” said John.

Treasure in Washington Monument

Once, on a sunny day in Washington D.C., a girl named Lily stared out at the Washington Monument. A few hours earlier, her mom had gotten separated from her in the crowd.


She had my ticket, which meant that I couldn’t get out. I looked through the crowds, and I thought, so many people! As night fell, the crowd left. Then, it was only me. Or so I thought. I roamed around the monument, looking at the displays.


Creak! I heard a sound from the other room.

“Where is the treasure,” he whispered.

Just then, a piece of paper floated into the room I was in. My heart was beating fast. I picked up the piece of paper. It said, Treasure in Washington Monument.

“Ah ha, so he is looking for the treasure,” I said to myself. I decided to find it first.

I sat down on the floor and thought, What if this is just a rumor. But I decided to go with it. I stared at the paper. It said, Treasure in monument. Hidden in bricks. Top secret.

Not so secret anymore, I thought. Before I could do anything, I heard a whisper.

“Where did that paper go?” He sounded angry. I shivered and held the paper close. If I was going to find the treasure, I better find it fast. If it was a brick that the treasure was in, it would be loose. I wiggled some of the bricks, and l realized that this would take forever. I glanced down at the paper and saw that in the corner in tiny writing was, P.S. it’s on the second floor.

I now had a major lead. Heading down to the second floor wasn’t going to be easy, but I was determined. I could hardly wait to see my mother’s face. As I raced down the steps, I felt like I was being followed. When I turned around, I saw a shape. Uh-oh! I was stuck in the Washington Monument with a thief that could do anything to me.

I ducked into the bathroom and started thinking. He was bigger than me, smarter, stronger. Who knew what he could do to me. But I was going to find the treasure, no matter what.

I looked out the bathroom window and saw it was getting light. After staying up all night, I was really tired. I yawned and got up. I thought again. Was finding the treasure worth risking my life. If he had a weapon, he could kill me. I had to make a decision, should I look for the treasure or hide? I decided to hide. I really wanted to find the treasure, but I didn’t want to get hurt.

“Lily!” It was Mom. “Are you okay? I’m so sorry! Security made me get out. Are you okay?” she asked. She looked worried.

“I’m fine!”

The next day at school, my teacher was teaching math. I thought it was boring and wrote my adventure from yesterday down. My hair was all tangled, and my shoes were worn-out. That was fun, but I was glad it was all over. It was pretty scary! I thought. But I might go back to investigate!


Part Two

I was sitting in my classroom. I thought of what happened the day before.

Maybe, I thought, I can go back and see if the thief is there tonight. This time, I will take my mom with me.

“Attention, everyone. Mr. Poop is absent today. Music is canceled,” the principal announced. Everyone groaned. This meant math for the rest of the day.

That night, I told my mom about my idea. After some thought, she said, “I will come with you. However, you have to promise to stay with me. Let’s pack.”

We walked to the Monument, and I told Mom we should sneak in through the side. As we walked up the stairs, I heard a man’s voice. “I didn’t do music today, so I could plan.”

I couldn’t hear the rest because my mom interrupted. “Lily, hurry up!”

“Mom, someone is here in the monument!”



“The treasure is on the second floor. I pulled out the brick a little,” the man said. He knows where the treasure is, I thought.

We made our way up to the second floor, and I was thinking about what the man had said. I didn’t do music today so I could plan. Those words seemed to bother me a little. They sounded weird.

When we got to the second floor, I saw a brick that was half pulled out. I ran towards it and jerked it out. I heard footsteps. I looked where the brick used to be. In there, was a glimmering necklace. The footsteps were getting louder. I snatched the necklace and pulled my mom into a closet. I watched to see how the thief would react. It was too dark to see his face, but he groped around and stuck his hand in the hole. “Huh,” he made a weird noise. I tried not to laugh. “Where did that brick go,” he yelled.

He pulled out his phone.

“Mr. Snogglewartle, the treasure is gone!” the thief said. I gasped. Mr. Snogglewartle was my principal’s name!

“Mom, did you hear that! My principal is working with the thief!”

“Oh my!” she said, sounding surprised.

“Let’s get out of here!” I said. As we were going down, we heard footsteps. We started to run.

“What are you doing!” the thief said.

We ran faster. Finally, he caught up to us. “Mr. Poop! What are you doing here?” He didn’t answer. Oh well, at least that answers the, I didn’t do music today because I had to plan. He was my music teacher! We fled.

“Wait!” Mr. Poop yelled.

We ran all the way home. For about 20 minutes, just straight running.

At home, we slammed the door shut. “Where should we put the necklace?” I asked my mom.

“We want to keep it safe. If the story leaks, we are in big trouble.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because, if the story leaks, then thieves are going to try to steal the necklace.”

“So? Where should we put the necklace?” I asked my mom. After a while of thought, my mom thought that we should donate it to a museum.

“If we donate it to a museum, it could be seen by many people. For everyone to enjoy.”

Thief in monument caught. That was what it said in the newspaper.

The next day, I was at the museum. The necklace in its display case glimmered more than ever. Under the display was a small, yellow card. It said, Donated by Miss Lily Burger. I was happy it said my name on it.

I felt really glad that the necklace was in its place. Everything had turned out well, I thought. In the end, I was happy with everything that had happened.


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!”


“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?“


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

“All I have learned is running sucks.”

“Really? Wow. Just quit, then.”


“Try your best.”


“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.


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.



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.




Take Care of Me




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.



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.


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?”



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.



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.


Bionic Girl


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.



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


On the Field

I kicked the ball up the field for my friend, John. He received it. Then, a player on the other team came running, slammed right into me, and everything turned dark. When I woke up, everything was fuzzy, and I could see figures and sounds. Finally I could see, and I had a cast on my leg.

I said, “What happened?”

My mom said, “You were hit really hard. You broke your leg, and you got a serious concussion. You can’t play soccer for the rest of the year.”

“But, Mom, I am going to be behind on everything! I am going to lose my skill!”

“I am sorry, honey, but you are in a cast, and the doctor said that you can not play. Your coach and team know, and they are very disappointed.”

“The best thing to do is stay healthy and fit to make your recovery easier,” said the doctor.



One year later, things went fine. I mostly stayed at home because I had a wheelchair, and I did not get out much. I turned eleven. One day, my mom went out to get the mail when one of the envelopes had my name on it. Usually, I do not get mail. I wheeled over to my desk, grabbed my envelope opener, and opened it. It was a letter from the Red Bull Academy team.

It read, Congrats Tanner! You made the team! Practices will be on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Blah blah blah blah blah signature.

I rolled over, with excitement, to my mom and screamed, “I made the Red Bull team!”

“Congratulations, Tanner!”

That night dinner felt good, and I slept well. The next day, I actually got out of the cast. It felt good to not be on crutches or sitting down in a wheelchair. I got to exercising. I made a chart with different kinds of exercises for the whole week. For example, on Monday, I would be doing six inches of leg lifts for five minutes, then lunges and pushups, then planks. After that, high knees and, finally, butt kicks. I also did a lot of other exercises.

I ate healthy too. For breakfast, I would have three scrambled eggs, some fruit, and an orange juice. For lunch, some chicken, salad, and water. Finally, for dinner, some fish, salad, and vegetables. And for dessert, a big glass of milk. With all the exercise and healthy food, I was ready in a week and a half. In that time, I worked harder than I ever thought I would. Man, I broke a sweat.

That night, my mom walked into my room with a concerned expression.

“I’m worried that it is too early to start playing soccer again,” she said. “You got your cast off a week and a half ago.”

“But, Mom, I really worked hard for that spot. Remember the tryout? It was before I broke my leg. I was playing soccer for hours each day in our backyard, working on juggling, shooting, passing against the wood fence, and receiving. I worked really hard for this spot on the team. I cannot pass up this opportunity!”                   

The next day was my first practice. I met the coaches at the field. They were very nice. They were named Coach Ryan and Coach Nick. Right when I got there, I could hear a lot of kids screaming for the ball and talking to their coaches. During practice, I was a little rusty. Playing at home, there is no one watching and you could be yourself. At practice, you have a defense, and coaches are watching you. But overall, practice was great. I guess my mom was right.

In the locker room after practice, I thought it was time to tell the coaches I was in a cast.

I said, “Coach Nick? Coach Ryan? Come here.”

“Yeah, what’s up?” Coach Ryan asked.

“I have something to say,” I said. “I broke my leg last season, and I got my cast off a week and a half ago. I just want to tell you because I may not be playing as well as I was at tryouts last year.”

Coach Nick said, “Oh yeah, man. I will tell you what drills are too intense for you, and which are fine to do. I broke my leg once as a kid, and I know how you feel.”

“Thanks, Coach.”

“Always, man.”

Then, I saw my mom’s car, and we went home. That night, I read my book and wondered how my first game was going to go. Was I going to score two or three goals?

“Knock knock. Lights out,” Mom said.

The next day was free because I did not have practice. I slept in till 10:30am because I was tired from practice. When I walked downstairs, my dad was making eggs, and my mom was on her phone.

She said, “Great news, Tanner. Your first game is on Saturday, and Coach says you will be starting.”

I started to jump for joy, “Yes! I can’t wait till Saturday!”

After that whole scene, I had my breakfast: eggs with some fruit and milk. Then, I went with my dad to the park and ripped shots on him to practice for Saturday. Because I play center, attacking mid, I have to take shots from far away, so I practiced that then penalty kicks. After that, free kicks. Then it started to get late, so we went home.

For dinner, I had tilapia, vegetables, and water. That night, I read and fell asleep quickly. The next morning, I woke and had breakfast, which was the same thing I always have.

At practice, I went over to coach. He had another kid with him.

I asked, “Who is that?”

Coach said, “He is competing for your spot.”

Then everything paused in my mind, and everything turned dark. My soccer career was going well until this kid came into my life. Now, I had competition.

I put out my hand and said, “Hi, my name is Tanner. Yours?”

“Hi, I am Tommy.”

“May the best man win,” I said.

Then Tommy walked away.

Coach Ryan said, “I love a little competition.”

I just rolled my eyes. In practice that day, I watched Tommy. He just moved here from Florida. He was a very talented soccer player. Righty, it seemed like very strong foot. Let’s just put this down: I did not stalk him. I just watched him when he was not looking. As for me, I played very well. I think we were neck and neck.

After practice, I asked Coach Nick, “Who is going to start on Saturday?”

He said, “Tommy will. You will hop in not long after.”

I paused again, and my heart fell into pieces. I was really mad. My face started to turn red, but I remained calm.

Honk honk! That was my mom.

“Bye, Coach Nick,” I said, ran over to the car, and hopped in.

I told my mom and dad all about Tommy at dinner. They did not seem that happy either. I didn’t sleep well.

On Saturday, I got to the field. It was a new turf field in Sonville. It was nice and smooth. I saw the coaches.

They said at the same time, “Ready for the big game?”

I said, “I am ready. I am pumped.”

Coach Nick said, “Good.”

Before the game, practice was good. We warmed up for an hour, working on passing, shooting, and receiving. We did each for fifteen minutes, then stretched for another fifteen minutes. After that, we got in our uniforms. They were red, with RDS and three stars above it. My number was 24, and the name Caldwell was on the back because my name is Tanner Caldwell. The team we were playing was called Springtown Lions. They didn’t sound that good.

I was on the bench the start of the game. I was on the first seat because I was going to be the first sub. We started with the ball, and our striker, Pedro, passed it back to Tommy, who made a great pass to Pedro, who made a straight run upfield.

“A volley goal, RDS!” the announcer screamed.

After that goal, I had to get into my mode. The only thing I was listening for was, “Tanner, you’re up.”

That happened at halftime in the locker room.

Coach Nick said, “Tanner, you’re up for Tommy.”

I nodded my head. T’was time to prove myself, that I can play at this high of a level. I jogged onto the field. Everyone was cheering.

Springtown had the ball first. They passed it back. I sprinted, tackled the ball and hit a scissor, juked out one, juked out two, long curved shot right into the pocket corner. We scored!

I did my signature celebration, which is a roundoff then a backflip. My heart was racing. Everything was smooth sailing for that half until the ninetieth minute. Everyone in the crowd was jumping for joy and smiling because we were winning 6-2.

I made a pass to Pedro when a big player came in, studded up, and slide-tackled me. I slammed my head on the ground. Everything went gloomy. I stopped moving. The crowd was dead silent.

I could only hear my mom shriek and run onto the field. My heart got slower. I could hear a ringing noise and my heartbeat. My mom told me that the medics came in an ambulance. They carried me off the field on a yellow stretcher. They loaded me up, and drove off the field. When I finally woke up, I was in the hospital room, the numbers 334 staring from a wall. I could see my mom.

I asked, “What happened to me?”

“Honey, you broke your leg again and got a serious concussion. That game right there just ended your soccer career. I told you to not go out onto that field, and what did you do? Go out onto the field. Just admit that you were not ready.”

“You were right. I was not ready.”

That day was the worst day ever.



Ten years later, and I am now a soccer announcer. If I couldn’t not play soccer, I wanted to do something in soccer. So now, I am an announcer. I had been telling my story of my soccer life back when I was young, and it had touched a lot of lives. That is what made me famous. It also inspired people to play soccer.

Right now, I am at the FIFA World Cup in Madrid. Between the rivals, USA and Mexico, I cheered for USA! USA! USA! Alright, I got to go to work.

I slide my headphones on, roll over to the announcer booth, and see a little kid there. He looks about 10 years old. He has a cast on his left leg, and he is in a wheelchair.

“Hi, how are you?” I asked.

“Good. I just want to say that you inspired me to feel happy when I broke my leg. I was not happy at all, but when I heard your story. It helped me. Thank you.”

“You’re welcome. I know how you feel. I had a broken leg, and I kept pushing through. So that means never give up.”

Then he starts to roll away in his wheelchair.

We start in five, four, three, two, one.

“Hi, my name is Tanner Caldwell, and I bring to you the 2027 World Cup! Brought to you by Fox.”


The Mystery of the Hidden Key

“Sofia,” a woman in a dark room called.

She was wearing a black dress and long hoop earrings. Her deep brown eyes were staring straight at me, and her lips were in a straight line.

“You must come to the seaside town and find the key,” the woman’s deep, raspy voice echoed.

“What key?” I wondered, but the woman had already disappeared.

“Sofia, time for breakfast,” my mom yelled.

I rubbed my eyes and shuddered. “It’s only a dream,” I told myself.

But I had been having this dream every night this week and was beginning to think the woman’s message was important. Downstairs, my dad was cooking pancakes, and my mom was slowly sipping a cup of steaming coffee. My little sister, Ava, was sitting at the table with her cat, Muffin, curled up on her lap.

“I’ve been having weird dreams,” I announced to my family. “A woman keeps telling me to come to a seaside town and find some sort of key.”

“I’ve been having that same dream,” Ava cried, throwing her arms into the air. “I think we’re actually supposed to follow the woman’s directions.”

“That’s nonsense, girls,” my mom said firmly. “No woman from your dreams is ordering you to do anything.”

That put an end to the conversation.   

“Well, we’re going on vacation to the beach at Ocean City today, and we’ll be there for a week. You girls better start packing!” my dad exclaimed.  

I rushed upstairs to my room and started throwing my clothes and other things I would need into my suitcase. Ocean City. That sounds like a seaside town to me! I thought.

Finally, we were all ready to go. I whispered to Ava in the backseat of our blue minivan, “I wonder where the key is.”

“I don’t know, but the woman didn’t give us any clues,” Ava responded.

“We’ll find it,” I said.

“I don’t know if we should look,” Ava said. “It’s all so creepy, and I don’t know if we can trust that woman.”

“I’m nervous too, but it seemed like the woman’s message was important,” I replied. “We should definitely search for it.”

“Okay, fine,” Ava agreed.


At last, my family arrived at Ocean View Inn, the fancy hotel we would be staying at. We unpacked quickly and went to the beach.

Ava and I took off our flip flops. We raced across the scorching hot sand and into the water while our parents set up beach chairs under a brightly colored umbrella so they could relax and read. In the ocean, Ava and I swam over the smaller waves and dived under the big ones, while the seagulls circled and cawed from above. We splashed around and giggled, a big smile on each of our faces.

After about an hour, my mom said, “We are going back to the hotel, girls. Make sure you behave and be back by dinnertime.”

“We will,” Ava and I promised.

Once our parents left, Ava started jumping up and down excitedly. “This will be a perfect time to look for the key!” Ava exclaimed. “It could be on the beach.”

So, we started searching.  We looked inside the prettiest seashells and dug holes in the dry sand to see if the key was buried. We had no luck.

Suddenly I thought, It could be underwater. I swam out into the ocean, looking for the key.

“Ahh!!” I heard Ava scream from the shore.

I turned around just in time to see a huge wave racing towards me. Before I had time to react, it pulled me under and tossed me around like a rag doll. I got saltwater in my nose and mouth, and it burned my throat. Finally, I came up, gasping for air.

Ava and I decided to go back to our hotel for the night. We ate dinner with our parents and went to bed. I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.


The woman wearing the black dress and long hoop earrings had returned, this time with a different message.

“You have searched well, but in the wrong place,” she paused. “Your time is wasting. If you do not complete your mission soon, a war will break out. So, you must listen carefully. Go to the building of bricks and look in the water. Once you find it, the key will guide you to what it unlocks.”

The next morning, I told Ava about my dream. “The woman told me to go to the building of bricks and look for the key in the water,” I said.

“And she said if we didn’t find it soon, a war would break out!” Ava replied. “I had the exact same dream.”

My jaw dropped. This was starting to get very creepy.

The next day, Ava and I went to town while our parents were at the beach.

“I bet the key is here,” Ava said. “There are plenty of brick buildings.”

“Maybe,” I answered.

There were four brick buildings in town. One was a candy store, one was a toy store, one was a T-shirt shop, and one was a pizzeria. We looked in the candy store, but the only water there was in the bathroom sink. The key was not there. It was the same with the toy store and the T-shirt shop. I was starting to think that we would never find the key. Then, we went to the pizzeria. We looked in the bathroom sink and in the cups of water that people had on their tables, but the key was not there.

“Do you think we should look in the kitchen sink and in all of the pitchers of water back there?” Ava asked.

“I think we should,” I said.

So, we snuck into the kitchen. A cheesy aroma wafted through the air, and my mouth started to water. We looked in the sink but did not find the key. We were looking in the rows of pitchers of water when a guy in a chef’s hat and a curly, black mustache noticed us.

“Get out of my kitchen!” he hollered.

Ava and I dashed back to our hotel.


The next day, Ava and I looked in some of the houses of the people who lived in Ocean City. The first one was made of bricks. It was small compared to all of the houses on the street, but it was bigger than our house. Since there was no car in the driveway, and all of the lights were off, we went inside. Surprisingly, the door was unlocked. We looked in all the sinks, the bathtub, and the shower, but there was no key.

“This is hopeless. We should just give up so we can enjoy our vacation,” Ava moaned.

“Remember, the woman said that if we don’t find the key soon, a war will start,” I told her. “We have to keep trying.”

“Fine,” Ava said, but I could tell she didn’t want to.

Then we looked in the next house. It was huge with fuzzy carpets in every room. The windows were large and crystal clear as if they had been polished just yesterday. Beautiful pictures decorated the walls, and not a single thing was on the floor. Everything was in its place. It was the most amazing house I’ve ever seen.

We didn’t have time to admire it, though. Ava and I went straight to work. We looked in all the sinks, the bathtub, and the shower. We still did not find the key.

“Maybe we should look in their backyard,” I said. “They have a pool and a birdbath. You can look in the pool, and I’ll check the birdbath.”

“Okay,” Ava sighed.

I looked inside the birdbath and discovered a oddly shaped golden key. It was a few inches long and looked like it could fit inside my hand.

“Ava, I found it!” I exclaimed.

We jumped up and down with excitement and high-fived each other. I reached out to grab the key when a bird with dark blue and purple feathers swooped down from a nearby tree and grabbed the key in its beak. I gasped as it started flying away.

“Follow that bird!” Ava screamed.

We raced after it and kept up for a little bit but, in a few minutes, we started to get tired.

“No!” I yelled.

The bird was getting away.

“We need to get the key!”

Just then, the bird noticed a small, yellow bird feeder hanging from a large oak tree. The bird dropped the key immediately, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I ran towards the key and grasped it in my right hand. As soon as I touched it, a green glow appeared around the key.  My mouth dropped open, and I felt like my eyes almost popped out of my head. My hand opened, and the key fell to the ground with a thump. Ava and I exchanged nervous glances. I decided to pick it up before anything else could steal it like last time. Once I did, the green glow appeared again. Suddenly, I felt a sharp pain in my gut and felt as though I was being pulled down the street. It took me a few seconds to realize that the key was dragging me somewhere!

“Ahh!” I screamed, afraid to let go.

I picked up speed as the key led me through the streets of the town and across the beach. It dragged me all the way to a red, white, and blue lighthouse and helped me climb up its many stairs. Finally, I reached the top. The glow disappeared.

A few minutes later, Ava arrived at the top of the lighthouse, panting like a dog. I told her what happened.

“The key dragged me all the way here and then stopped pulling me and stopped glowing.”

“That means whatever the key unlocks is probably up here,” she shrieked with delight.

Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something shiny. Behind a white fan was a small, brown chest with golden swirly designs and a shiny lock.

“Look, Ava!” I called, and she came running over.

I clicked the key into the lock and turned it excitedly. The chest swung open to reveal an oval shaped block of gold that looked like an egg. It was surrounded by a green glow.

Wow,” Ava whispered.

I was speechless. Just then, the woman from my dreams came walking up the stairs, her black dress flowing around her.

“Greetings,” she said in a booming voice. “My name is Delilah. You have done well on your mission.”

“Why did we have to find this golden egg?” Ava asked.

“It is the king of England’s most prized possession,” she said. “It was stolen by a man named Vladimir, but if the king ever found out, he would suspect that the Russian king stole it. That would start a war. After all, they have never been on the best of terms. I found out that Vladimir stole the egg, but he knew that I knew, so he cast a spell on me so that I could not return the egg to the king or tell anyone the exact directions to it. Vladimir stole the egg to cause chaos between England and Russia.”

“Why did you choose us to find the egg, and how did you enter our dreams?” I asked.  

“I chose you two to find the egg because you two are determined and work together. I also knew you were going on vacation here,” Delilah said. “And how I got into your dreams, that was magic,” she said as the corners of her mouth turned upwards.  

“Why did Vladimir hide the key in the birdbath and the chest up here?” Ava questioned.

“Well,” Delilah began, “the key was hidden in Vladimir’s closest friend’s backyard. I’m afraid that he trusted too much that his friend, Michael, would protect it, since he is a world traveler and is rarely ever at home. Though, I’m not sure why he decided to hide the chest up here.”

Then, Delilah said a strange spell. A white dove swooped down and grabbed the golden egg from her hands, and it flew off to deliver the egg to the king of England. Delilah turned to leave.

“Wait!” I cried. “What happened to Vladimir?”

Delilah turned quickly, and her dark eyes looked straight into mine.

“He’s still out there,” her words echoed in the small space, “waiting to strike back.”



“Your science project needs to be creative,” Jeffrey’s science teacher croaked, “so I do not want to see any baking soda volcanos, or — ”

Ring!!! The bell chimed as all the students got up and rushed out of the school. Jeffrey grabbed his backpack, hopped on his skateboard, and rode down the road with his best friend, Matt.

“Want to work on that science project tonight?” Matt asked.

“Sure,” Jeffrey replied, “it’ll give me an excuse not to do the dishes tonight.”

“Well, this is my stop,” Matt said as he pulled into his driveway.

“See you tonight!” Jeffrey yelled.

“My house, alright?” Matt called back.

Jeffrey gave a thumbs up and then rode down the street to his house.

“Hey, Mom!” Jeffrey yelled as he walked through the door.

“Hello, sweetie!” Jeffrey’s mom called as she ran down the stairs with a basket of laundry. “How was school?”

“Good!” Jeffrey replied. “I have to work on a science project with Matt at his house tonight!”

“Isn’t it your turn to do the dishes though?” Jeffrey’s older sister asked as she texted.

“Oh, give him a break, Alissa!” Jeffrey’s mom replied. “I’d rather him be doing schoolwork than the dishes. You’ll just have to cover for him.”

Jeffrey’s sister groaned while Jeffrey whispered a “yes!”


Jeffrey threw his plate in the sink and called to his mom, “Alright, Mom, I’m going to Matt’s!”

He flew out the door and hopped on his skateboard. He rode up the road to Matt’s house and rang the doorbell. There was a faint ringing noise inside and some feet shuffling before the door opened.

“Hey, dude!” Matt said.

“Hey!” Jeffrey replied as they both ran upstairs to Matt’s room.

Matt swung the door open, and they both walked in.

“Hey, Cameron!” they both said as they petted Matt’s small, brown monkey.

He flew out of his cage and jumped on to Jeffrey’s shoulder.

Jeffrey sat on Matt’s bed and asked, “So what creative,” Jeffrey used his fingers to make quotations and spoke in his teacher’s voice, “science project have you come up with?”

Matt laughed and replied, “Well, I was wondering what would happen if we put different kinds of food products onto a Cheezzo and then used wires to electrify it?”

Jeffrey smiled and then told Matt, “At least it’s creative!”

They both laughed until Matt ran downstairs and grabbed a ton of stuff from his cupboard and dropped it on his bed.

“You were being serious!” Jeffrey said and then burst out laughing.

“You thought I wasn’t being serious,” Matt replied.

They both laughed again. Matt grabbed a Cheezzo, and they both threw on baking soda, some more cheese, milk, and other food. Matt pulled out a plug with wires poking out of it and plugged it in.

“Ready?” Matt asked.

“Ready,” Jeffrey snickered. He couldn’t take this seriously.

Matt flipped on the lights, and electricity burst out of the plug.

“Ouch!” Matt yelled as he dropped the wire and the Cheezzo. “I probably should’ve put on gloves.”

The electricity bounced on and off the Cheezzo until some of it landed on the bed. The sheets caught fire as Matt, Jeffrey, and Cameron hopped off the bed.

“I also probably should’ve thought about getting a fire extinguisher too!” Matt yelled as Cameron cowered behind their legs.

They both looked forward at the flaming bed and gasped. Suddenly, all of the fire and electricity stopped moving. All of the water in Matt’s cup started to rise, and all of the light bulbs started to smash open. Somewhat of a rip in reality was torn open in front of them in thin air! Jeffrey walked slowly towards it. Inside the tear was the same thing that was behind it, only a little different. Matt’s bright blue bedsheets (at least before the fire) were a pale, orange color. Matt no longer had a dresser next to his bed. It was, instead, replaced by a tall, red lamp. As Jeffrey reached his hand into the rip, he was pulled in!

“Jeffrey!” Matt cried as he jumped through.

All of a sudden, everything started going back to normal (except the light bulbs.) The water fell back into Matt’s cup, the fire and electricity continued to violently wave, and the hole started to close. Cameron ran forward, and jumped in at the last second, and landed on Jeffrey’s head as the hole closed.

Jeffrey looked around the now complete room, to find that the hole had shut. He tried diving to where the hole was but just fell and hit the ground with a thud. Before giving up, Jeffrey looked over at Matt, who seemed just as confused as he was.

“This has got to be some sort of prank!” Jeffrey yelled.

“What?!” Matt replied in shock.

“You set me up, didn’t you?!” Jeffrey claimed. “That’s why you wanted me at your house, and why your idea for a science project was so ridiculous, wasn’t it?!”

“Whoa, man,” Matt started, “I take it as a compliment that you would think my level of pranking is this good, but I am offended that you think I would ever do this to you, or even anyone!”

“Look,” Matt said, “I’m about as much, if not more terrified than you right now, okay!”

“You’re lying!” Jeffrey yelled.

“GET… OUT… NOW!” Matt yelled.

Cameron jumped back onto Matt.

“FINE!” Jeffrey yelled, and stormed out the door.


Outside the burning house, sirens were heard. People gathered around the aflamed house. Firemen were hosing the house down, but the flames grew stronger. Two cars pulled up, and Matt’s parents came out.

“What the heck is going on?!” Matt’s dad called.

His question was immediately answered as his head turned to the right and was greeted with his house.

“Are my child and his friend okay?!” Matt’s mom cried.

A nearby police officer walked over and informed them that there was no one in the building.


Jeffrey strolled down the sidewalk. Many people gave him odd looks until he finally got to his house. Jeffrey turned the doorknob, but the door didn’t open. Must be locked, Jeffrey thought. Jeffrey rang the doorbell and waited for someone to open the door. When the door opened, a tall woman was standing in the doorway, whom Jeffrey had never seen before. She looked down at Jeffrey and let out a bloodcurdling scream. Jeffrey covered his ears as he saw the woman grab a phone and call someone. She slammed the door in Jeffrey’s face and ran upstairs.

A few minutes later, police cars came speeding down the road and stopped in front of Jeffrey’s house. Five police officers came out of their cars, and two of them walked over to Jeffrey. Jeffrey walked towards the officers to ask what was going on, until one of them slammed him onto the ground and handcuffed him.

“What the heck?!” Jeffrey cried.

“You have the right to remain silent!” one of the officers bellowed.

“Anything you say now can and will be used against you in court!” another yelled.


Matt and Cameron were on the couch, watching TV, when the news came on.

“This just in,” the news reporter started, “The criminal mastermind, Jefferson Needlemeyer, has been caught and is awaiting trial!”

Matt stared at the screen in disbelief. It can’t be him! Matt thought. His full name isn’t Jefferson, it’s Jeffrey.

“Here are photos of the criminal now!” the news reporter informed.

The pictures showed Jeffrey in handcuffs in front of his own house.

“Oh dear God,” Matt gasped.

There was a small creak, and then the door started to open. Matt jumped up and bolted to “his” room. He heard talking, and then someone came upstairs. “Please don’t come into this room, please don’t come into this room!” Matt muttered. Soon enough, the door opened.


Bang, Bang! The gavel sounded.

“Case closed!” the judge yelled.

Jeffrey had just been declared guilty.

“Take ‘im away, boys!” an officer yelled.

Two cops pushed Jeffrey out of the room and into an empty one. One of the officers pushed a button, and the floor started to open into the walls. Both of the cops fled the room and locked the door. Below was a glowing green room with a toilet and a bed. Jeffrey backed up with the opening floor until he hit the wall. He stood on the last piece of metal until there was nothing left, and he plummeted down into the room.


Matt walked over and put a tablet on his bed.

“What the heck!” Matt cried

Matt turned around and repeated, “What the heck!”

Matt stared at Matt in shock.

Matt stared back in shock.

“Who are you!” they both demanded.

“Well, I’m Matt,” they both replied.

“Wait a minute!” they both said.

Each of them started jumping around and doing the same movements at the same time.

“So you are me!” each of them said.

“Look, I need you to help me find my best friend, Jeffrey!” Matt asked.

Matt’s eyes widened.

“Jefferson is nothing but a no good criminal!” Matt yelled.

“Alright, before I argue about how you’re wrong, I’m going to call you Matt-2 okay?” Matt asked.

“Why can’t you be Matt-2?” Matt asked.

“Because my room’s way cooler!” Matt replied.

“Fine,” Matt-2 concluded.

“Now,” Matt started, “my Jeffrey is a good person, alright! And I guess yours… is a criminal?”

“You got that right,” Matt-2 replied. “But how exactly are there two of us?”

“It’s a long story, and it involves blowing up a Cheezzo. But my theory is that this is a parallel world to mine, and that’s why there’s two of us. It’s also why there’s two Jeffrey’s,” Matt informed.

“Jefferson,” Matt-2 corrected.

“Shut up,” Matt retorted. “Your world has the wrong Jeff — ”

“ — Erson,” Matt-2 interrupted.

“I said it once, and I’ll say it again. Shut up!” Matt repeated.

“And how exactly do you know we have the wrong one?” Matt-2 asked.

“Because the one on the wanted photo has a scar on his arm, and the one in the court pictures doesn’t,” Matt concluded. “Also because I called him, and a cop picked up.”

“Well let’s get going then!” Matt-2 yelled.

Both Matts rushed downstairs and ran out the door.

“Is it just me or did two Matts just run out the door?” Matt-2’s dad asked.

“It’s probably just your bad vision,” Matt-2’s mom replied.


“We’re at the jail!” Matt-2 panted.

“Next time, let’s ride a bike or something,” Matt asked.

“There should be a broken door we can go through at the back!” Matt-2 said.

“How do you know that?” Matt asked.

“Let’s just say this isn’t the first time I’ve been here,” Matt-2 replied.

“You’ve been in jail before!” Matt cried.

Cameron growled at Matt-2.

“No!” Matt-2 quickly replied. “I’ve just broken Jefferson out of jail before, when we were still friends,” Matt-2 exclaimed, “but then I realized that he lied to me, and that he did commit those crimes.”

“Oh,” Matt replied.

“Anyway,” Matt-2 started, “the broken door around the back.”

Matt and Matt-2 rode around the prison, and sure enough, there was a broken door.

“I’m surprised the guards haven’t noticed this yet!” Matt said.

“Same,” Jefferson replied.

“Who was that!” both Matts gasped.

“Me!” Jefferson yelled.

“Who!” both Matts cried back.

Jefferson sighed. “Jefferson,” he said in an annoyed tone.

“Jefferson!” both Matts cried.

“Did you not recognize my voice, you idiot!” Jefferson yelled as he slid down from a rocky hill.

“What do you want!” both Matts asked.

“I want simply for your Jeffrey to stay in prison!” Jefferson exclaimed. “Then I can get away with almost anything without anyone knowing!”

“You’re crazy!” Matt yelled.

“We ain’t going down without a fight!” Matt-2 yelled.

“Have it your way then!” Jefferson yelled back, cracking his knuckles.

“Hey, wait a minute!” Matt started, “Where’s Cameron?”

There was a loud crack, and then Jefferson collapsed onto the floor. Behind him, stood Cameron with a baseball bat.

“What the heck!” Matt-2 screamed.

“Where did he even get a baseball bat!” Matt asked.

“Well, it’s a prison. There’s, like, five baseball bats in each cell,” Matt-2 replied.

“Huh, neat,” Matt said. “Now let’s get Jeffrey out of their before this dingus wakes up.

Matt and Matt-2 rushed inside the prison and found Jeffrey’s cell.

“What are you doing here! Jeffrey whispered. “There are guards everywhere!”

“We’re here to — ” Matt was interrupted.

“Wait a minute,” Jeffrey started, “I think I’m seeing double!”

“It’s a long story,” Matt-2 said.

“As I was saying,” Matt started, “We’re here to break you out!”

“Great!” Jeffrey whispered, “I’ve been planning for this, so… here’s a crowbar!”

He dropped a crowbar on the ground with a loud bang.

“SHHHHHHHH!” both Matts whispered.

“It’s you we’re trying to get out of here!” Matt whispered.

“Sorry!” Jeffrey replied.

Matt picked up the crowbar and started bending it against the bars. After a few bends and ouches, the cell was open.

“Thanks, guys!” Jeffrey said. “But I must admit, I’m surprised that none of the guards noticed tha — OH GOD, NO!”

Jeffrey ran to the broken door while both Matts looked behind them. As they turned around, they were greeted with multiple guards running towards them.

“Shoot,” Matt-2 muttered as they both turned around and ran towards Jeffrey.

“Get back here!!!” a few of the guards yelled.

“We’re so dead!” Matt yelled as they ran outside.

Cameron jumped off the bike seat he was on at the sight of Jeffrey and both Matts, but then he immediately shuddered behind the bike when he saw the guards.

“Get on the bike!” Matt yelled.

Cameron jumped inside a basket on the back of the bike as Matt and Jeffrey jumped on. Matt-2 jumped onto his bike, and they took off, the guards in close pursuit.

“We need to get back to ‘our’ house and recreate the portal!” Matt yelled.

They raced back to Matt-2’s house and emptied all the shelves of their contents, threw it onto a Cheezzo, electrified it, and bam! Everything around them caught fire, the water lifted out of the sink, and the light bulbs started to smash!

“I forgot to warn you about this!” Matt yelled.

“It’s fine!” Matt-2 yelled back. “I’ve got a fire extinguisher in that closet, so once you guys get outta here, I’ll put it out.”

Suddenly, a portal opened in front of them.

“Oh yeah,” Matt-2 started, “There’s a big chance that you guys will be sent to another parallel universe!”

“Well I guess we’re going to have to take that chance!” Jeffrey replied as police sped past the house, looking for them.

“Hopefully they’ll find Jefferson before he wakes up!” Matt said.

“Thanks for your help!” Jeffrey called back as he and Matt walked through.

“See ya!” Matt-2 replied as the portal closed behind them.

Matt-2 ran and grabbed the fire extinguisher and started putting out the fire.

“Matthew,” Matt-2’s mom yelled in, “What’s going on in there!”

“Shoot,” Matt-2 muttered.


Beneath the fire in the burning house, Jeffrey and Matt reappeared.

“Well,” Jeffrey started, “I think we’ve learned a valuable lesson from this.”

“And what’s that?” Matt asked.

“We’ve learned to never eat Cheezzos again.” Jeffrey replied.

“Definitely.” Matt concluded.

“Now the question is,” Jeffrey started, “are we back in the right univ — ”

“Yup,” Matt interrupted as he pointed to the fire around them.

“Shoot!” they both yelled at the same time.


The End  




Oli hit the mind control helmet with the special hammer. He was on the SS Take Over, a spaceship one-eighth the size of Earth. It was a white, thin sphere.                                                             

“The mind control helmet better be ready by ‘QUI YEDTH,’ or as the humans call it, July Fourth,” Zam barked.

The aliens were motivated by their terrible, atrocious planet.

“Okay, boss,” said Oli, a little on edge about Moragh. Moragh was their worst commander. No one told him though. Oli thought he was better than those humans.   


“Ruff,” barked Larry’s young, black-and-white beagle, Boston.

Larry and Evan, and their alien friends, Smorglf and Bloghj, were hard at work because they were on high alert after the incident. They kept working on the spaceship, day after day, night after night. Finally, it was going to work.


The spaceship took off with the gang in it. They were in space.


Evan whipped around. He saw a ginormous spaceship that was ninety times bigger than the one they were on. It was the SS Take Over.


“Crud,” said Bloghj.

“Double crud,” said Smorglf.


Three minutes later, the gang was in a jail cell. On the wall, there was the calendar. Smorglf gave Larry a paper that read:

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

Rio Wsb Ree Mio Cgy Xch Qui Yui Ndr Ghf Wes Ikon

One wsed, two Koio, three htc, four yed, five bhnj, six bhn, seven bhjikj, eight bujonj, nine bhgc, ten gyh, eleven bhyg, twelve ikolp, thirteen vtgyh, fourteen sedz, fifteen hyuni, sixteen nikol, seventeen bynuf, eighteen edrgs, nineteen gyjrv, twenty ftn,  thirty fink

Larry understood. They were going to be in there until “Qui Yedth,” July Fourth. All of a sudden, he thought he knew what the aliens’ plans were. Most people were in the same place, so the aliens could keep them hostage on Earth. Then, since they’d have Earth, the aliens would take the humans and make them work. Or something like that.


It was July Fifth. 363 days till the invasion.

“Morning role call!” yelled the prison guard. “Sunji, Gim, Ku, Qas, Rni, Hoy, Waq, Caes, Smorglf, Bloghj, Strange animal, Humans.”  

Everyone gasped.

“Humans, tell me your names.”

Larry replied, “Larry. L-A-R-R-Y.”

Then, Evan said, “Evan. E-V-A-N.”  

“Who is the strange animal that will not talk?” questioned the guard.

Larry replied, “You mean, Boston, my dog. They don’t talk.”

The guard understood and continued, “Des, Cheraw…”

(The list went on and on, but I don’t want you to fall asleep because of boredom. Back to the story, then…)

Zam said, “Rni, your time has come.”

“NOOOOOO!!” Rni screamed, clanging his cage. The bottom of Rni’s cage opened up. Rni dropped down and got sliced up.


Boston whimpered at the sight of the jail food, Gogooj Dojier, a big, black cup that was edible, with a green, mushy liquid in the middle.

“What the heck is this?!” Evan yelled with fury at the alien who gave him his food. “Who would even eat this atrocious thing?! I mean, really! It’s a black thing, like a flower pot, with a green liquid in it!”

The alien replied, “This is your special meal, and you are complaining?”

“Special? You call this special?”

“Why, yes. I do!”

“Then you don’t know what special means!”

“Yes, I do!”

“No, you don’t!”

“Yes, I do!”

“No, you don’t!”

“Yes, I do!”

“No, you…”

Evan couldn’t finish his sentence.

“Enough!!!” yelled the guard, outraged. He threw Evan to the side with tremendous force. Evan landed on the hard, concrete floor, elbows gushing out fiery, red blood. He felt as though every bone in his body had snapped into a million pieces. For a split second, he couldn’t think of anything else but the pain.

Evan, with the help of Larry and Smorglf, got up to his feet. He stumbled across the room, then was gently placed on the bench as they all started to chat.


“Sir Zam, one of the Earth brats was complaining about the lunch meal, so I shoved him aside,” the prison guard said, kneeling on one foot in front of the aliens’ all-powerful leader. “There was red stuff coming out of him, and he needed help up by his fellow cellmates. After that, they started chatting and cha–” He was cut off by Zam, who yelled in fury,

“You fool, I told you I needed them in top shape if I’m going to beat the…the, nevermind. Oli, destroy him.” He pointed his green, slimy finger at the guard.


Evan was badly injured. When lunch break was over, he was helped to the cell he shared with Larry, Smorglf, and Bloghj, when two aliens wearing red crosses hustled over. They took Evan, shoved a sleeping pill in his mouth, and ran away with him.

Larry screamed at them. Then, he ran after the aliens. They weaved corners, jumped bushes, shoved aliens, and then ran through a doorway. Larry was stopped by more guards, and he was escorted back to his cell.

The red cross guys placed Evan on the x-ray table. They examined him and saw that the bones that were broken were split into more than two pieces. They also saw, without the x-ray table, twenty-seven bruises, thirteen cuts (two of which were on his elbows,) and five scars.

Larry was pacing back and forth in the damp, cold prison cell, waiting for Evan to come back and praying that he was okay.


When Evan came back, Larry hugged him with every muscle in his body. But Evan couldn’t feel a thing. Then, Larry threw a truckload of questions at him. Evan calmed Larry down.

Evan said, “Larry, bad news. I will need seven months to fully recover.”

Larry told everyone, “Well, now we need to make a plan to either wait seven months or figure out a way to carry Evan. We are going to vote. All for waiting seven months?”

No one’s hand went up.

“So, it’s settled then. We need to come up with a plan to carry Evan.”

“So what’s the plan, boss?” asked Bloghj in a mocking voice.

Smorglf rolled his eyes.

Larry ignored Bloghj. “We’re going to swipe some spoons from the serving table, two each. Then, we will tunnel behind the picture of Zam. We’ll have to start at 5:00 P.M. sharp, because guards are on duty from lunch until then, and end at 12:00 A.M. sharp. After we go far enough, we will tunnel at an angle, so that we will get to the floor of the janitor’s closet. Then, we’ll take security uniforms. We need to fool them long enough so we can reach the escape pods. Got that?”

“Yes,” they replied, simultaneously.


The next day at lunch, everyone swiped two spoons. Later that evening, they tunnelled and tunnelled until it was about 12:00 A.M. the next day. They swiped two more spoons each, because the old spoons had snapped because of the wall. They did this for four days, until they reached the closet.

(I’m NOT going to explaining what they did for those days. That would just be plain


It was 11:34 A.M. when Larry and Smorglf reached the closet. They decided to wait until 5:02 P.M. to do the escape. They put a coat on the floor, covering the tunnel, just in case.

At 5:02 p.m., Larry and Smorglf were in the front, followed by Bloghj (he was carrying Evan,) and then Boston in the rear of the tunnel. Smorglf put on separate suit, while Bloghj carried Evan under his suit, so that Bloghj could still use his arms, and he had four legs.  Larry carried Boston around his neck under his suit, with all four legs out. Then, they walked over to a map of the ship with a teleporter next to it.

Larry said, “The escape pods are in section three, part six of the ship.”

They all got in the teleporter and wizzzippp. They were in front of 520 escape pods that could each hold twelve people/aliens. They got into one of the escape pods and put in location the location “Earth.” The pod took off. Ziiiiiiiiiiiiiinnnnkuick.

They were safe. For now.


Behind the Screen

I had been waiting for this day all year long.

It wasn’t Christmas. Or Thanksgiving. Or even my birthday.

It was the last day of school.

For as far as I remember, I had never enjoyed school. It just wasn’t fit for me, as some people say. I would prefer to be at home, hacking my computer or playing Minecraft. But this was my favorite time of the school year –– the last day of school, the last period: Only an hour away from freedom. I couldn’t help feeling happy.

I drummed my fingers on the lockers as I walked down the hallway. My last class was math, which I wasn’t particularly good at. Usually, I dreaded going to math class and facing my strict teacher, Mr. Foster. But today was different. As I neared my math classroom, I thought, Only an hour to go! What could possibly go wrong?

When I walked in my math classroom, I caught Mr. Foster staring at me, trying to catch my eye. I didn’t notice, because I was too busy thinking about escaping school and being free. Just one hour! I kept repeating to myself. Then I’m free!

When class finally started, I couldn’t help squirming around in my seat with excitement. Mr. Foster stood up, and announced that he was going to pass out our end of the year math tests. That got my attention. I hadn’t really paid attention to the test, but I couldn’t fail… could I?

Mr. Foster frowned as he reached my desk. When he dropped my test on my desk face-down, he whispered to me, “Meet me after class. We need to talk.”

That really got me worried. I didn’t dare look at my grade, so I just left the test sitting there. I noticed a few kids staring at my test, and I squirmed around some more. A kid named Ash sitting next to me leaned over.

“Hey,” he whispered. “What did you get? I got an A. My mom is going to FREAK OUT when she finds out that I got something wrong.”

“Shut up,” I whispered back to him. “Stop bragging.”

“Hey, just let me see your grade, will you?” Ash asked, irritated. He reached over for my paper.

“NO!” I shouted. But it was too late. He had grabbed my paper off my desk, and sat back in his chair. All eyes turned to us.

Ash’s eyes opened wide as he stared at my paper, open-mouthed. “Lemme see!” Kids from all around called. Even I went up to have a look.

“Boys and girls! Go back to your seats!” Mr. Foster shouted. Nobody besides Ash had time to see my grade. Not even me.

“Here, you can have your test back.” Ash handed me my test. He still seemed shocked. What was my grade? Part of me didn’t want to know.

Mr. Foster sent everyone back to their desks. He began a lecture about keeping your grade to yourself. I didn’t listen. More important thoughts were floating around in my head.

Like my math test.

The rest of the math class was okay. Everyone kept giving me weird looks, while I tried to ignore them. Finally, when math class ended, Mr. Foster called me over to his desk. But I knew I had to see my grade first.

Slowly, I flipped the test over with my eyes glued shut. Nervousness flowed through me as I opened my eyes to take a peek.

When I saw the letter written on the top of my paper, I gasped. I stood up and ran out of the classroom, ignoring Mr. Foster’s calls. I grabbed my belongings from my locker along the way, and sped up as I ran out into the hallway and outside, sobbing.

* * *

I didn’t take the bus home that day. Instead, I ran home, crying the whole way. I didn’t take any notice of anything around me. I just ran, as if it were a way to escape from my teacher, my worries, and my grade.

When my house appeared in sight, I suddenly slowed down. Why was I running home? I thought. Great. Now I’m here early, and my mom is going to suspect that something is wrong. I guess I’ll have to hide out here.

So, quietly, I snuck into the front yard and hid in the bushes. It was uncomfortable, and prickly. Suddenly, a sharp branch poked me. I rolled over and crashed into the door.

“Ouch!” I shouted. I gasped. Did my mom hear that? I crawled back under the bush.

The front door suddenly opened and my mom stepped out.

“James! What are you doing, hiding in a bush? Is something wrong?” she asked.

I hesitated. “Uh, well, Mom,” I began, “I…I just like hiding in bushes. It’s… a new fad, hiding in bushes.”

Mom rolled her eyes, as if she didn’t believe me. I didn’t blame her. She knew that the only place where I would willingly hide in a bush was in Minecraft, and I was nowhere near a computer.

Mom sighed as she let me inside. “Well, you couldn’t have been hiding in a bush just because you felt like it. Come on inside and show me what’s wrong.”

Reluctantly, I followed. I knew I was doomed. For the first time in a while, I wish she would return to the way she once was –– too busy to see any of my grades.

I followed my mom into the living room and we both sat down on the couch. “So, I heard you got your final math test back today,” my mom told me. “How did you do? I hope you didn’t just rush through. This test is very important, you know– you could flunk a grade because of it.”

I shifted nervously in the couch, not daring to respond. My mom just sighed. “Well, if you’re not going to tell me, I guess I’ll have to look for myself. James, go get your test.”
I wasn’t about to give up just then.“Mom… I… uh…”

My mom turned to look at me. “Yes?”

“Well, um… I…”

I had no idea what to say. So I said the first thing that came to mind.

“I LOOOOVE hiding in bushes!” I told her loudly.

My mom shot me a weird look. So instead of arguing, I got up and pulled the math test out from my backpack. I handed it to my mom.

For a moment, my mom seemed to be in complete shock. She shook her head as she stared at the paper. “Oh, James,” she sighed.

“Well, Mom, you always say that an A-minus isn’t an A, so…I guess…”

My mom just shook her head. “James, go upstairs. Go hack your computer or play some Minecraft or something. I need to think. And don’t come down until I tell you to.”

Think. That word never meant anything good. I hated, HATED when my parents told me to leave just so they could think, and anger began to flow through me. Sometimes, I just couldn’t believe my parents.

Once I was upstairs in my bedroom, I loaded up Minecraft. Gaming was a way to make me forget about all my worries and whatever’s going on in life. It was also the perfect place to express my anger.

I chose a random server at the top of my list and logged in. In the chat, I typed, “I HATE MY FAMILY! All I feel is asdfghjkl;!”

A new message popped up from a moderator named NerdyGamr21. “Dude, don’t use so many caps. This is your last warning. Also, I highly doubt that your family would do something worthy of your hate.” And, then and there, I was kicked from the server.

I logged back in.

I used caps again.

This time, no warning. I was permanently banned.

Haha, they could never get away with banning me. I hacked myself back in. This time, I only stayed for about two seconds, enough to type, “Well, you wouldn’t understand what is going on in my family” in the chat.

I slammed down my computer screen. I had expected some pity from the players, not a moderator who banned anybody who disobeyed the rules. He was not at all comforting. In fact, he sounded a lot like my mom.

As I was thinking about that dumb moderator, I suddenly heard the sound of the garage door opening. Was it my dad? Apparently, it was. I cringed. Even though he would never yell at me, I knew he would be disappointed to see my grade.

I heard footsteps coming in the house. I squatted down and mashed my ear into the floorboards to eavesdrop. I could hear my mom, standing up from the couch. A small bang sounded.

“Oh, good, you’re here,” my mom remarked. I heard my mom’s footsteps. “I need to talk to you.”

They began whispering. I couldn’t hear much of what they were saying, but I heard my name involved. It didn’t sound good.

After a while of talking, I heard my dad say, “Mmm. Okay. I’ll go talk to him.” I heard the sound of a paper crinkling, and then my dad’s footsteps up the stairs.

I quickly realized that ‘him’ was me. I sat up and jumped up on the bed, trying to act casual. I opened a book and pretended to read.

A few seconds later, my dad walked in. He had on his “let’s get down to business face.” He sat down next to me and held out my test.

“So, James,” my dad began, “Can you explain your grade to me?”

“Can you really expect me to do well on that dumb test? It was so hard, and I bet nobody really got an A on it. So somehow, you think I can? I might not be super dumb, but I’m not the type you would expect to ace a test as hard as that one! I wish I could, but…”

I searched my mind for a random excuse. Nothing came to mind.

My dad shook his head and sighed. “Honestly, James, I wish you would be more careful sometimes. Now let’s go over this test.”

I sighed inwardly. There was no way out.

“So let’s see. Five wrong here, three wrong here, and six wrong here.” My dad turned to face me. “Looks like you need to work on algebra,” he told me. “That’s a skill you will need for next year.”

My dad flipped a page.

“Come on, James, I’m sure your teacher has explained this to you before. Why can’t you remember this? You have been paying attention in class, right?”

“Well… sort of,” I answered. My dad eyed me suspiciously. “Well… no,” I admitted.  

My dad looked at me from the top of his glasses, but didn’t say anything. He just flipped the page silently.

“Next page. Graphing data –– I remember your tutor taught you this before, but ––” he looked down at the page –– “17 wrong.” My dad turned to look at me again. “You have got to do better. There are only 20 questions on this page. What percent of questions did you get wrong?” He questioned.

I couldn’t believe that he was trying to make me ashamed of my grade by making me do the math. “Hey, how should I know?” I replied, annoyed. “You can’t make me do this!”

My dad stood up. “James, I want you to actually think about this grade. This is serious ––  it can affect your future. I’m going to go downstairs and speak to your mom.” And with that, he left me in my room. Alone.

Part of me felt angry for saying what I did. But most of me felt that my dad deserved it. Why were my parents becoming such jerks all of a sudden?

But I didn’t think about it for too long. With a sigh, I plopped myself down onto my gaming chair and opened up my computer. When all went wrong, Minecraft was the solution. Hopefully, the dumb moderator wouldn’t be there.

* * *

After a long time, my dad finally came upstairs. “James, I’ve made an arrangement for you. The math teacher said that your final grade was an F, and that is not enough to move on to eighth grade. So, you’re going to have to take the test again.”

I nearly fell off my seat when I heard his words. Repeat the test?! How would I do that? I had already failed miserably. How could they expect me to do well this time?

My dad somehow knew what I was thinking. “James, you might think that I’m expecting too much of you. But you can do it. From now on, study every day and you’ll do well.”

I couldn’t believe it. Every day? I was no nerd!

Just as my dad was going to leave, he stopped himself. “I almost forgot –– here’s a packet to help you study. I want it complete by tomorrow.” Then, he left.

I looked through the packet. 10 pages?! My dad really was expecting too much of me! Sure, maybe I could do 10 pages in a week. But one day –– impossible.

“Well, better get started,” I told myself reluctantly. I picked up my pencil and stared down at the paper. Algebra?!! On the first page?!! I shook my head. Nah, I’ll do that later, I thought. Opening up my laptop, I loaded up Minecraft. I have better things to do.

I logged in to the server where I first met the moderator, NerdyGamr21. Surprisingly, he was also on. It was almost as if he knew what I was doing.

Trying to ignore the dumb moderator, I went straight over to the parkour. But then, something in the chat caught my attention.

In the chat, NerdyGamr21 had typed, “Hey, xXProclassGamerXx, if I’ve been here for 20 minutes, how many seconds have I been on for?”

At first, I laughed. Somebody must be having the same problem as me, I thought. But when I noticed players gathering around me and try to punch me in the face, I realized that xXProclassGamerXx was me!

I burst out of the circle of players congregating around me and walked over to where NerdyGamr21 was standing. I told him privately in chat, “SHUT UP!,” and I left.

Imagine a system of gas pipes. There they are, sitting there, minding their own business, until somebody nearby lights a match, and the whole thing blows up. That’s how I felt when StupidGamr21 or whatever his name was insulted me –– I was exploding inside. But I just sat there, glaring at the screen. How dare he insult me!

I’ve had enough gaming for now, I thought. The only problem was that there was nothing else to do. I could do the math packet, but… that was too much work for me, and avoiding the packet came first in my mind.

But something in my mind urged me to finish the packet first. It was a huge burden, and I felt that facing it was the only way to make it go away. Fine! I thought, giving in. My dad will be pretty mad if I don’t do it anyways.

When I looked deep into the problems, I realized that they were not as hard as I thought they would be. I got through the first page in about 40 minutes, and started the second.

I finished the rest of the packet at the same rate. When I was finished, I had already eaten dinner, and it was nearly time for bed. I yawned. Even though the packet was the worst form of torture, I felt a strange type of pride in finishing.

That’s enough for today, I thought. I sat down on my bed, and put my head down on my pillow. I fell asleep instantly, exhausted from all the work. I think I deserve a rest.

* * *

The next few days came and went the exact same way. Each day, my dad would give me a packet to finish. I would also play Minecraft, but I would try to avoid the server where I had first met the moderator, even though it was my favorite.

By the fifth day of following this routine, I was getting really tired of these math packets. The pride of finishing one was wearing off, too, once I realized that I was getting several problems wrong.

My parents seemed to have changed a lot. I realized that my mom was beginning to go on the computer much more often, and my dad was always whispering to her in a small voice. I was beginning to get slightly suspicious.

That day, I went downstairs into the office and went on my mom’s computer. I pressed ctrl+H to check her history. When I her history, my jaw dropped open.

Tuesday, 4:21: Minecraft. Just twenty minutes ago. This wasn’t right. I closed the page and checked her home screen. Sure enough, Minecraft was downloaded.

I clicked on the icon of the green block of grass. The Minecraft launcher appeared. At the bottom left corner, I saw her username.


No, this couldn’t be right.

For a few moments, I just sat there, staring at the screen of her computer with a blank look on my face. How could my mom be a moderator? I thought. It occurred to me that my mom knew more than she let on. But that didn’t stop me from being angry at her. In fact, I was furious.

“MOM!” I shouted at the top of my lungs. My mom came running into the office.

“James! Is anything wrong? What are you screaming about? Why are you sitting at my computer, and what are you doing on it?”

She leaned over and glanced at the screen. “What –– oh, James.” Her voice dropped.

“Y-you knew. You knew the whole time that I’ve been playing on the computer, haven’t you? You’ve been watching and humiliating me on the server!”

“James-” my mom began.

“I’ve had enough.”

I stormed up to my room. When I logged on to Minecraft, I realized that there was a new addition to my list of servers. Surprised, I clicked on it.

There was only one other person on the server. NerdyGamr21. Wow, my mom was sure smart.

In chat, I typed, “What are you doing on here?”

A few seconds later, a response appeared. “I’ve come here to talk.”

“About what?”

“You. And your computer. And my job as a moderator.”

I didn’t respond. I sat back in my chair, watching the screen, waiting for my mom to go on.

“I just wanted to bring you closer to us, and your responsibilities at school. I never meant to humiliate you. I just felt that you being with your computer had brought us apart.”

I was about to respond, but it was just then that I realized that I had been spending so much time behind my screen instead of with my family. If I had been out and about more often, I would have realized what my mom was doing earlier on. But no. I had chosen to hide in my room, away from my family, away from my responsibilities at school, with my computer as company.

But this was going to end. I slammed down my computer screen. After years of hiding, I needed to face reality. Not the players in Minecraft. Reality.

I walked down the stairs and into the office. “Mom?”


She closed the screen of her computer. “Do you want to talk to me?”
“Mom, I…”

My mom sighed. “I know, James. I understand that you find the computer very addicting. That’s the problem with most modern children these days –– they spend so much time behind the screen and don’t know how to spend time with their family. You’re not to blame –– it’s just all this technology. It can be tempting.”

I nodded. “Yeah. Some people text their parents instead of walking 10 feet to go talk to them.”
My mom nodded. “Exactly what I mean. You see, hardly any of these kids nowadays remember that they have parents right next to them. I have to admit, ever since I started playing Minecraft, I’ve really been addicted to this computer.”

“When was that?”

“Oh, just a couple months after you began playing Minecraft. At first, I was curious about what you found so fun about playing Minecraft, and I wanted to try it for myself. So soon, I realized how amazing the game was, and became addicted. When I realized that I was spending too much time on the computer, I decided to take a break. And now I’m back, to bring you back to reality, too.”

I nodded. “Well, I think I’m back. Don’t expect me to give up Minecraft completely, but I guess I have to face reality at some point in time.”

My mom smiled at me. “Well, speaking of reality, I think it’s almost time you take your final math test. Why don’t you go upstairs and study? You will take the test sometime next week. And don’t tell me you’re not ready, because the computer is no longer in your way.”

* * *

For the next few days, I studied hard. I tried to do as well as possible, and even my dad was proud of my progress. “Great work, James,” he told me after I had finished one of his packets with only three mistakes.

But as the test got nearer and nearer, I got super nervous. What if the same thing happened again? Then I wouldn’t be able to advance to eighth grade! I would be left behind with everyone teasing me.

However, despite my nervousness, part of me was still hopeful. I had studied hard, passing shouldn’t be a problem… should it?

When the day finally came, I had pretty much dropped the hopeful part of me. Nervousness dominated. “What if I fail?” I told my mom in frustration.

“Don’t worry. You only need to get a B+ or better to pass,” my mom told me. “You’ve been studying so hard, I don’t think it’ll be a problem at all.”

Easy for you to say, I thought.

My mom told me that I would be taking the test over at the school, so we hopped into the car. During the ride to the school, I fidgeted in my seat, playing with the seat belt. My eyes were glued to the view outside. There was a tense silence inside.

When we finally got to the school, I had calmed down a bit. Ok, I told myself. It’s just a test. I’ve been studying so hard, and I am bound to do well.

I followed my mom into the building, and I was greeted by the vice principal, Mr. Price. “Hey, there,” he greeted us. “I’ll assume you’re Ash. Are you here to retake the test?”

For a moment, I was shocked. Ash had to retake the test too?

Maybe he hadn’t gotten an A after all, I thought. But before I could think of something witty to tell of him, my mom tapped me on the shoulder, bringing me back to my senses.

“Uh-no,” I told Mr. Price. “I mean, I’m here to retake the test, but I’m James Larson. Where do I go?”
The principal led me inside the school and into room 214. “Here. Your mother will remain outside while you take the test.” I looked inside. A dozen other kids were sitting at desks scattered around the room. “We’re just about to start the test. You can go find a seat anywhere.”

I nodded, and chose a seat at the front of the room. Soon, the tests were handed out, and the time started. I grabbed my pencil and began right away. I couldn’t fail again.

* * *

“Okay, time’s up.” Our instructor, Mr. Snyder, came around to collect our tests. “Pencils down. As soon as I collect your test, you may leave the room.”

I dropped my pencil and glanced upwards. Just in time, I thought. I stood up as Mr. Snyder took my paper from me. With a last glance at the retakers, I left the room.

My mom was waiting for me outside. “Well?” she asked. “How did you do?”
“Fine.” I glanced down at the floor. We left the building in silence.

“Well, I’m excited to get your test scores,” my mom told me.

And I’m nervous, I thought.

* * *

A few days later, I found a package in the mail addressed to me. Must be my test scores, I thought. I brought it back inside, afraid of what it might hold.

“Mom?” I called as I enter the house. “The test scores came.”

Footsteps sounded from above. “Coming!” she replied. “What did you get?”

I shrugged nervously. “Who knows?”

For a moment, we both just stared down at the envelope.

“Are you gonna open this?” my mom asked me.
I shrugged. “You do it,” I told her. She ripped it open.

I didn’t dare look at her. I could hear the paper crinkling, and then a faint sigh of relief from my mother. I looked up and my eyes met with the beautiful A- scrawled at the top of my paper.

I couldn’t contain my happiness. I grinned at my mom, and took the paper from her. I went through my test. Only 3 wrong answers in the whole thing! “I knew you could do it, James,” my mom told me as she patted my shoulder. “I knew you could.”

I nodded, placing the test on the nearby table. Well, now that that’s off my mind, I thought, I guess I’ll go play some Minecraft. I began heading upstairs, but stopped midway. I looked down at my mom, who was looking me in the eye.

For a moment, there was silence. We just stared at each other. Then, instead of continuing my way up, I turned around and headed back down towards my mom. She looked at me, surprised.

“Aren’t you going to play some Minecraft?” she asked me.

I shook my head. “Of course not. I have my family with me, and that’s all that matters. I don’t care if I win a game in Minecraft, or if there’s a new update. I’m tired of hiding behind that screen.”

My mom smiled. “Well, I’m glad. So, you wanna go out for a celebration? We’ll go to Veneto’s, your favorite.”

I nodded. “Hey, why not? Let’s go!”

As we piled into the car, I felt a surge of happiness. Though I had enjoyed playing Minecraft for a while, I had finally found something even better –– just spending time with my family. Right there in that car, I promised myself that I would never be so closed off again. I would try to make some friends and spend more time with my family, and avoid that computer screen that blocked everyone out of my life. It was as if the wall separating me from my family had been broken down.

We were united once more.


That was how my brand-new life began. That night, I packed my computer away into my suitcase. It would remain there for a while.

I began to spend more time with my parents instead of hanging out, alone, in my room. We had tons of fun together, and went out for dinner together often. Together, we learned more about each other, which formed an unbreakable bond between us three. At the end of the month, I couldn’t imagine how I had been able to withstand so much time away from them.

But with all the fun I was having, there was no room for regrets. I enjoyed my time, and, as they call it, lived life to the fullest. I had never felt better –– and it would never have happened if I were still hiding behind the screen of my computer. Never once did I feel any pain at all for giving up hacking, because feeling what I felt inside, I knew it was the right decision.

A Big Fall

“Okay girls, practice is over!” Coach beckons us over and we jump off the beams. “Good practice, Kiera, watch out for your landings. Britt, keep your legs together on your roundoff. And Katherine, work on you back handspring,” she informs the other three girls.

Then, she looks at me.

“Noelle, keep working hard, you’re our All State elite champion. The big championship meet is tomorrow.” A shiver of excitement runs down my back. Soon, I will be flying through the air at the National Championships. My dream! Coach dismisses us and I follow the other girls into the locker room.

“Noelle, are you nervous for the championships?” Kate asks me.

“No, not really,” I respond as I turn on the shower.

“You’re so lucky!” Britt tells me. She’s also an elite gymnast, but Britt doesn’t qualify for the National Championships.

“Come on guys, you guys aren’t competing,” I try to hide my pride.

“Well, don’t worry. We’ll be watching and cheering you on,” my best friend, Kiera, encourages. We scramble into my mom’s car, chittering nonstop.

“How was practice?” she asks.

“Great, now can we please go? We’re going to be late for third period and Mr. Netoon is so strict,” I urge my mother.

Without another word, my mom steps on the pedal and we’re off. A few minutes later, the car screeches to a stop in front of the middle school. Kiera and I run into Mr. Newton’s classroom and choose a spot.


Algebra, so annoying! A few hours later, after school, I’m doing my homework as I start to draw my routine on beam out of stick figures on the sheet. I’m certainly an Elite in gymnastics, but definitely not in math.


Before I know it, my mother is calling me for dinner. I’m done with my homework, finally. Standing up from my chair, I slam shut my textbook. Dinner consists of broccoli, tofu, a salad, and, my favorite, beets. As an Elite gymnast, we’re practically required to eat healthy, sucks. I start to eat my dinner in silence.

“So, Noelle,” my father starts, “we’ll be cheering you on at the competition.”

“Cool,” I exclaim and jab at my food.

Ding dong! The doorbell rings. Who could it be? I glance at my mom, who is wearing an I-know-something-you-don’t-know smile. A girl with midnight black hair and stone brown eyes walks in with her mom. “Noelle, this is Mrs. Reeves and Delia. Mrs. Reeves and Delia, this is Noelle,” my mom cheerfully introduces us. “The Reeves are our new neighbors I decided to invite them over!” my mom explains.

Mrs. Reeves and her daughter look serious. Too serious.

“I heard you’re the best in Maine and you’re heading to Champs tomorrow,” she drawls with a slight Texas accent.

“Um, yeah,” I stammer.

“Why don’t you girls go up to Noelle’s room and hang out?” my mom suggests.

I lead Delia into my room. Clearly she’s impressed. My room has a white loft with a desk underneath. On my desk I have a Macbook Pro and an iMac. On my wall, I have a poster signed by Taylor Swift. My closet is filled with designer clothes. All of my furniture is white with designs I painted on them. Basically, my room is the room every girl would want.

“You know, I could have made it to Champs. I don’t believe you’re the best,” she glares at me, regaining her snobby attitude.

Yeesh. “Well, I guess I’ll just have to prove to you tomorrow when I get first,” I saunter out of the room, grabbing my phone, and text Kiera.

NoelleHandstand1: Kiera! Save me! There’s this girl here named Delia who thinks she’s better than me in life!

KikiA42: Jee good luck dealing with her!

NoelleHandstand 1: u know what, I’m gonna go practice my bars routine in my garage.

KikiA42: OK tell Delia to go away. C u tomar at early morning practice B4 the Champs!

NoelleHandstand 1: BYE!!!

I slip my phone into my pocket. I race downstairs. As I push open the garage door, I yell to my mom where I will be. I ignore Mrs. Reeves’s snarky comment. She’s just as bad as her daughter. I pull on my grips; without them I would slide off the bars. I take a deep breath and my routine takes over me. Soon I land with a satisfying thunk on the blue mat. Panting, I grab my water bottle. I take a huge swig out of it and I get on the beam. My instincts take over and before I know it, I’m doing all sorts of complicated tricks. Suddenly, my mom comes out.

“Whew, Noelle it smells like a sweatshop in here,” she holds her nose and glances around. “Well, I just came to tell you that it is time for bed,” she finishes, closing the door behind her.

I groan and slam the garage door. The championships are tomorrow and my parents and coach are all about me winning. I mean, I’m excited to go because it has been my dream my whole entire life, but my coach and parents are a little extreme.

“Win or die!” is literally what they are all saying. Uhhh, so much PRESSURE.

A few minutes later, I’m staring up at the light pink wall of my bedroom. I may have fallen asleep, but my thoughts are still rushing through my head like a long flowing river. I wish that Delia — the devil, should I call her? — never ever came into my life. Who did she think she was, with the right to make fun of me? I also have wished, multiple times actually, that I wasn’t the best gymnast in the state. Oh, sure, I have all that fame, but I don’t think anyone has ever thought about how much PRESSURE is put on me. Half of me loves the fame but the other half is dead. They clash in a battle, 24/7. I’m in the middle. The coaches always say that I’m going to do fine, I’m perfect. But do I think that? Sometimes, not really….


“And you’re gonna hear me r-r-roar!” My alarm blasts Katy Perry’s “Roar!” as I groggily sit up. Then, I fall right back down, flat on my face. Today is the big day and I was having thoughts of doubt in my sleep. But, of course, first comes early morning practice. I don’t get it, why do they have practice on meet days; especially a meet as big as THIS. Grudgingly, I trudge to the bathroom and start to brush my teeth.


I take a running start, leap on the springboard, and do a flawless Yurchenko vault. As I stick my landing I hear my coaches whooping. Of course. How could I ever worry about Delia? Everybody knows that I’m gonna do fine. I perform flawlessly on beam, bars, vault, floor. At the end, Coach comes up to me.

“Noelle, we’re very proud of you, you have created a spotless reputation and we wish the best for you this afternoon. Just remember this, we’re extremely proud of you.” Yeah, all that cheesy stuff. After that was said, I go into the locker room to meet up with Kiera.

“So, I saw your texts of desperateness; is Delia really that bad?”

“Oh yeah!” I reply, not missing a single heartbeat.

“Well, gotta go, my mom’s taking me shopping for some new clothes, I’ll see you later,” Kiera leaves me alone as I smooth out my leotard for later. It’s red and blue, with a white line separating where the colors meet up. I’m so jittery as I shove my things back into my duffel bag and run out to meet my mom. Just like me, she’s jittery.

“Okay, Noelle, here’s your schedule. First you are warming up. You go to the practice room and practice for thirty minutes, and then it’s go time.”


I fly through the air on my final flip as I let go of the white bar. As I land with a refreshing thump on the dark blue mat, the enormous crowd goes wild. Maybe my coach’s pep talk helped. Or possibly it was the tight leotard that I had stressfully pulled on. Whatever it is or was, I end up with a 9.89. Currently, I am in first place so far. I stroll to my next event, bars, with ease. Obviously, I will do flawlessly.

As I have predicted, I do impeccably, and I am extremely relaxed as I start on the beam. I raise my arms to the judges and take a deep breath. Nothing can go wrong now, one more event. My starting pose is an upside down split with my hands gripping tightly on the chalky beam. Once my energetic music starts up, I don’t even bother to pay attention to everything. I know I will do fine. Normally, my senses would be on high alert; even on small meets. But, what really could go wrong? I have done everything impeccably.

I swing up on the beam. Perfectly with the rhythm, I do a pivot with my leg sticking out behind me. Then, I do a split leap followed by a quick back handspring. The whole time I am with the music. Then, I lie down and bring my legs all the way on top on my head. I unroll and do a handstand pivot. My next move is an aerial. Before I know it, it is time for my final move. I study the beam in front of me, and right on cue I start my double tuck and somersault. Do I finish it? Nope. Not at all….


The next morning, I groan as I pick up my gray crutches. Struggling, I force myself up from my bed. My mom calls me for breakfast and I slip on an outfit. It takes me a while, but finally I make it downstairs and to the breakfast table.

“Hey grumpy,” my mom ruffles my hair.

“Hmf,” I mumble as I glance at my phone to check the time.

It’s 7:30 and I have a gazillion texts. Kira has told me “relax,” and “it’s okay,” about twenty times. Delia is texting me fake pity faces that I chose to ignore. My mom and dad have been spoiling me since I woke up (there was a balloon and a brand new leotard on my bedside table) but it makes no difference. What was done is done.

I still have the clear image. I leap into my double tuck and somersault.  I hear the crowd cheering and I think of Delia. That little — all of a sudden, my feet and legs are going everywhere and I’m out of control. What is happening? Before I know it, it is too late. I lie sprawled across the blue mat, crying in pain. My mom and coach immediately rush over and help me up. My leg is bursting with pain and my coach sits me down. He asks me what hurts and I blurt out the whole thing, except for the Delia part. He tells my mom to call an ambulance. Soon, I am lying on a white hospital cot while the doctor announces the bad news. I have broken my leg.

“Honey, do you want Cheerios or Wheaties?” my mom asks, snapping me out of my daydream. Well, more like day nightmare.

“Cheerios,” I reply frankly and text Delia back.

NoelleHandstand1: Shut up you jerk.

I hit send; I’m not even thinking about what I’m doing. I just do it, like the Nike motto. Then, I delete her chat and clutch my phone. I feel as if I will get in trouble, but I don’t care. I’m now Rebel Noelle, committing crimes left and right. I’m done.

I wake up to the sound of my mom yelling for me. It’s only six and I don’t have to get up until 7:30. What could possibly be wrong at this time in the morning? I do a march-ish stagger to my mom’s room to chew her out for waking me up, but I soon as I see her face, I know it’s a bad idea. My mom is holding her phone like it was a bug and she has on a bewildered face.

“NOELLE! Look at this! Delia’s mom just sent this to me; apparently, you called her daughter a jerk AND you told her to shut up!” I have never in my life seen my mom so mad!

“Well, Mom, she was being mean to me and and — ” I don’t get to finish because my mom starts lecturing me again.

“That’s it, young lady, your phone is gone, for a week.” She opens her hand and I drop my phone into her palm. There is no use arguing.

“And, you have to find something to occupy yourself. Right now you have nothing to do,” she adds. Wow. Gymnastics was my life and my mom was already trying to replace it. I stomp away.

School seems to last for a year. Finally, I streak down the halls, well more like stagger, as fast I as I can to freedom, but something catches my attention. There is a two feet by four feet poster that says:

Art Club

Join Today! Meets Tuesdays

My mom did say that I have to start something new. Why not art club? I mean, as reluctant as I am, I also thought this sounded fun. When my mom says to do something, I have to do it. As I scribble my name on the signup sheet, Kiera comes by.

“You’re signing up for art club?” she asks.

“My mom’s making me,” I reply. Kira shrugs and we walk out of school together.

I slam the door shut as I announce that I’m home. My mom greets me and  takes my backpack.

“Did you pick up anything new?” she asks as I sit down.

“I signed up for art club,” I grudgingly reply. “We meet Tuesdays after school.” I grab my bag and march upstairs to do my homework.


“Today we are going to draw a person. You can make him/her doing whatever he/she is doing. Just remember, use your imagination and try your best,” Mrs. Ziegler beams at the art club. I pick up my pencil and start sketching. I promise myself that this will turn out terrible. First, I sketch a head, a body, arms, and legs. My girl is posing as if she just ended a back handspring. Her foot is slightly up and her arms are raised like a champion. Now, to add some facial features. Soon, she has a short, curly, blond ponytail and a smiling face. For my final touches, I sketch a leotard and a beam. The art teacher comes over and glances at my paper.

“Wow! You did an excellent job!” she picks my paper up and pins it on the board. My face turns red as all the kids crowd around and praise my character. I’m both proud and embarrassed. I can’t believe this, I’m having fun in something other than gymnastics. The rest of the time passes in a flash and soon I’m running out of the building to meet my mom.

“You sure look overjoyed!” My mom pulls out of the parking lot as I smile widely.

“The teacher posted my artwork on the board in art club and everybody liked it,” I explain.

“Great job! This is Facebook-worthy!” My mom does her happy dance and pulls over. Just so you know, my mom is a facebook freak.

“Say cheese!” She snaps a picture and pull up back onto the road.  

As soon as we get home, my mom posts her post and writes her caption. The whole time I was happy. I wasn’t thinking about one thing: Delia.

“Hi y’all!” a girl with black, raven hair drawls as she walks into the art room for art club.


She plops down on the seat next to me and ‘accidently’ pushes my paper onto the wet floor. Groaning, I pick it up.

“What are you doing here?” I ask her.

“Well, I saw your mom’s post on Facebook and I decided to give art club a try,” she replies innocently.

My friends, Whitney and Kloe glance at me wearily. I give them a look as if to say, “Delia is not good news.” They seem to get the message. Before I have the time to think of a snarky comment to Delia, Mrs. Ziegler claps her hands.

“Class! As you may know, we have an art expo coming up. Only one student’s work will be featured from this club. Here are the list of contestants. Delia Reeves, Whitney Bernen, Kloe Mccarthy, Michael Zeidman, Joyce Lee, and Noelle Greenfield. Good luck!” The thing we are drawing is a person. It can be a boy or girl, and it can be doing anything, anywhere. I doubt I can win. The first day I was here, I drew a good character but I don’t know if I can do it again. Besides, Delia is competing. Isn’t she rumored to be good at life? Suddenly, I have a great idea. I raise my hand.

“Mrs. Ziegler, are we aloud to use artwork that we have drawn before?”

“Yes, of course,” she smiles.

“Are you too scared to lose?” Delia hisses in my ear.

“Nope, just preparing to beat you,” I walk away.

Gingerly, I take my framed picture of my gymnast down. I decide to use my original picture and trace it and color it in. Taking out my black Sharpie pen, I examine my paper. Tracing is an easy feat. Slowly, I trace my drawing, making sure I don’t mess up. Then, I take out my colored pencils and start shading lightly. When I’m done, I have a colorful image of a gymnast. Perfect.

“Mrs. Ziegler, here’s my art expo entry,” I hand the teacher my artwork.

“Great! Results will come out this afternoon. You are the last contest entry,” she replies.

I am so nervous throughout the whole day. Everything passes in slow motion. At one point in the day, Delia stops me.

“Noelle the Nobody! After today, that will be your brand new name. It suits you perfectly anyways.” She smirks and saunters off.

Soon, I stand in the crowd waiting at the art room. Delia shows up.

“I am so gonna win!” she singsongs in my face. Mrs. Ziegler comes out.

“The winner is…”

“Delia Reeves!” Delia yells in my face.

“Noelle Greenfield!”

I can’t believe my ears. Mrs. Ziegler holds up my entry. I catch Delia slinking away into the crowd. Finally, I have proven Delia wrong. I have won.


That night, I lie on my back and stare at the light pink ceiling of my bedroom. I am happy I have won but I feel like there is a hole in me. Inside me, I really truly just want to be flying through the air on my Yurchenko vault or doing back handsprings on the beam. But, I have finally realised that the true meaning of life isn’t about doing one thing. It’s about being flexible and trying new things. I slowly drift off to sleep as I dream of my victory. I have won in something other than Gymnastics.

Epilogue: Six Months Later

I do my final move on my floor routine. A split. A flexible one. My smile is wider than ever. After my leg healed, I was able to go back to gymnastics, but I had to freshen up my skills. Finally, my coach let me compete as an Elite gymnast again. My coach gives me a ‘high ten’ and I head to the award ceremony.

You’re probably wondering about Delia. Well, I told my mom that Delia was provoking me. My mom told her mom. Mrs. Reeves was steaming mad at my mom and me for ‘framing’ her dear Delia. So, she transferred her daughter to some rich boarding school place because apparently we were a ‘bad influence’ on her. I haven’t seen her in months.

As for art club, I still do art competitions, and I still do art club after school on Tuesdays. Now, I do Gymnastics, Art Club, and flute. At the end of the day, the more skills, the better. Even if you try and fail, it’s better than not trying anything new. I run up to my first place block and wave to the crowd. My life is not gymnastics. It’s not art. It’s not flute. It’s being me, Noelle Greenfield.

Undaunted Courage

It all started when Brandon’s arch-enemy blew up the White House, the Capitol building, and all the museums and memorials on the east bank of the Potomac river in one explosion. Brandon and his assistant Stanley Dalton were visiting Washington D.C. to tell President Rosemary J. Staten, Vice President Michael T. Evans, and Secretary of Education Jerome J. Johnson about their new invention and how to use it. Brandon was just nominated for smartest ten-year-old kid charted. He had invented a one hundred percent correct, infallible lie detector.

The clock chimed twice when Brandon’s evil arch-enemy, Doug Brooks and his assistant Alan Walker, marched in carrying sixteen portfolios. All of them were practically spilling. Brandon clenched my diamond charm that his Grandma Holly gave him when he was five, a day before she died of a heart attack.

“Brandon, meet Doug, who has just invented a tester that can harmlessly go into any software and disable networks and CPUs,” President Stanten cheerfully announced. Doug spared a second to shoot Brandon a withering glare, and Brandon sent one with an equal amount of hatred to Doug. Stanley looked like he was going to implode. He was shaking and sweating and once Brandon looked at him he dropped all of his papers and ran into the bathroom.

“Look at that pathetic human. Brandon must be insane to have hired him,” Doug whispered to his assistant. As he said it, his eyes turned a freakish green and when Brandon looked at him, he formed a green light in his palms and shot it at Brandon. Brandon ducked and the green ball shot out of the window and smashed into Pennsylvania Avenue. A huge green ball rose from the crater and its diameter grew to almost thirty feet before exploding. Doug and his assistant teleported away right before the White House crumbled to ruins. Brandon saw Stanley, the President, Vice President and the Secretary of Education all spiral into the air. But Brandon couldn’t, because his teleportation cube was with Stanley. Brandon heard an alarm ring in the distance before he was sucked into a pitch black world.

Beep, beep, beep. Brandon opened his eyes. He was in a hospital and a machine was trying to keep him alive. He groaned at the dull pains all around my body and that got the doctor’s attention.

“Brandon? Are you alright? We just finished cleaning the chunk of muscle that one of the rocks cut off. You’re going to have some huge scars on your legs and face. You’re in Florida and got transferred from Annapolis to here. Orlando,” the doctor said, anxiety splattered on his face. Brandon guessed it was because his dad had threatened to sue the doctors if Brandon wasn’t better within the week. Brandon groaned and fell back asleep.

Brandon woke up again in the middle of the night. The doctors were absent and he had a pile of presents on his bed side table. He groaned. They were all from girls who would pester him to ask him out or something. The top letter was from Mom. The second he read the word ‘Mom,’ he started crying. His mom was also in a hospital with blood, breast, and lung cancer, and a brain tumor. He had just visited her the day before the meeting. She was better and she said he was a prodigy but she also mentioned she knew he was capable of more things. He was puzzled but at the time, Brandon and his dad’s flight from Los Angeles was to leave in two hours and he and his Dad had to rush to the airport. He didn’t want his Dad to know because he was strict and only gave terse replies to answers.

Brandon fell back in his pillow and cried himself to sleep.

The next day, the doctors did a blood test. Brandon had never needed one because he was rarely sick, so his parents never thought he needed one. During the blood test, two doctors fainted, one doctor gasped, and the rest looked like clueless monkeys. Brandon saw what was on the machine, and it said, “System error. No known explanation.” Then, for no reason, he felt the scars on his legs that the doctor said would be there. They were gone, disappeared, vanished.

“Uhh excuse me? One question. Where are the scars that you said would be on my legs?” he asked. They looked at his leg and three more of them fainted, leaving four gaping doctors who stared at his leg where no signs of injuries could be seen.

Soon, Brandon’s injuries were healed and he got ready to leave. He was told to go to the airport and wait for his dad. They were going to go to West Palm Beach. The doctors were still surprised by Brandon and his tests results. Brandon felt like gasping at them and the machines. He decided that they needed brain updates. All of them. He was soon out of the hospital. A wave of fresh, warm air greeted him. It was around 9:00 and nobody was around. He strolled around the area and went to downtown.

It was the opposite of New York City. The apartment buildings were low, and about six floors, and Business Buildings were just nine to ten floors. He crossed 8th street and continued his way to the airport. The second he rounded the corner, a man in a trench coat grabbed him by his  head and stuffed him into a suitcase. Brandon suffocated in the suitcase for ten minutes until the bottom of the suitcase opened and the suitcase stopped bumping along the pavement, indicating the kidnapper had stopped, and sounded like he was smoking.

Suddenly, in a flash of green light, a tunnel opened leading to a platform above a land of paradise. A group of girls were at a base of a mountain. They raised their hands and muttered some words before the mountain rumbled and out exploded a stream of lava that turned into rubies upon touch! Another group of boys were walking in a barren courtyard. They put a grape into a burning hearth at the center and in a flash of sparks, the columns of marble around the courtyard were covered in grapevines and soon, they bore fruit. The boys high-fived and patted each other on their backs, eating fresh, juicy, purple grapes. Brandon walked around the platform until he noticed a woman, in a wheelchair, around the age of thirty-six, beckoning toward herself. She was clearly motioning Brandon to come to her.

Brandon froze. “Mom?” he said weakly. The woman smiled. “Mom!” He started running toward her. She started running towards Brandon. He embraced her so hard she said laughing, “Loosen up! I’m going pins and needles.” They both started crying tears of happiness.

“I’m so glad you’re alright! I was worried sick. Your father is waiting down there, see?!” Brandon looked down. Dad was in the courtyard with the boys, clearly teaching them how to play football. He looked up and waved. Brandon waved back and all the boys started pointing and whispering.

Stanley waved to Brandon, looking perfectly normal, except that he had a purple staff. Stanley put his  staff up into the air and wrote, “Is Brandon alright? All of the campers are anxious to meet him.”

Then Brandon’s mom pulled out a neon yellow staff and wrote, “Brandon is fine. All is well.” The golden letters shown in the air, and disappeared.

Brandon didn’t realize his mouth was opened in shock, until his mom noticed. “Why are you suprised? I thought you would know by now what you are. Remember the bus driver with the horns? Doug and the green explosion? The time were you found yourself suffocating inside a palm tree in Mexico when you went to sleep in the Ritz Carlton, Philadelphia? These things were not just coincidences. You are a magician and so am I.”

Brandon was speechless. He had a hard time believing what  his mom said. His mom laughed.

“You had proof when you saw me take out a staff and write golden letters in the air with golden particles the size of teensy weensy atoms.”

Brandon gaped at his Mom for a few more minutes before he answered. “How are we going to get down if I don’t have a teleporter and both you and dad refused to use teleporters?”

Brandon’s mom stared at him looking utterly bemused. “Opinions change. I put some sense into your dad’s brain after I decided to use teleporters.”

“But where are the teleporters?” Brandon asked, exasperated.

She smiled. “You will see me perform one more spell before we go down for a tour. Here I go. Summonialo Teleporters!”

Two teleporters zoomed out of a black portal and clattered on the glass platform.

“Ready?” asked mom. Brandon nodded. She flicked the box open and requested “Nuanen Welden!” Strangely, Brandon understood what she had said. Nuanen means beautiful, and Welden means forest. Nuanen Welden means the beautiful forest. The teleporter started humming and Brandon, using previous knowledge, knew that was the ten-second warning. The box opened once more and a purple portal rose out. Brandon and his Mom grabbed hands and walked into the portal.

They spun through hyperspace. Images of other places raced past  them. Brandon caught glimpses of other areas. Cairo, Beijing, New York, L.A., Las Vegas, and tons of other cities. Then the portal opened up and they walked out to a huge marble doorway. On top read, “Astori! Fri Cai Vinr! Nai Onr Jan Oloso!” which means, “Welcome Friends! Make yourself at home!”

Brandon was still puzzled by his knowledge of this language. One day, I master French after one month of hard work and the next I learn a unknown language in two minutes, thought Brandon.  

After the entrance, they came upon the clubhouse. It had a huge pool, a patio, a pool table and a casino from what Brandon could see. Then they arrived at the mess hall. Brandon saw a huge campfire with strange symbols around it. The fire was still red hot in the ashes. Next they proceeded to the amphitheater. A huge outdoor stage was surrounded with layers of seats in a half circle. Then the party of two arrived at the cabins. Each of them had a symbol and a word in the unknown language. As Brandon began to call it. They read, “Fire,” “Water,” “Earth,” “Ice,” “Air,” “Electric,” “Animal,” “Plant,” “Mind Reading,” “Future Predicting,” and right in front was the knowledge cabin. Brandon peeked inside to see just a blank, swirling, black mist.

“Brandon! Please don’t do that. It’s forbidden in Nuanen Welden,” Brandon’s mom called out after she was greeted by the group of girls from the volcano. One of them offered a ruby bracelet to Brandon’s mom and she accepted it warmly.

“Mom, why couldn’t I see anything? That mist was not a portal, so why could I not see anything?”

Brandon’s mom looked like he should know this, but resumed a normal expression. She replied, “That’s because you haven’t passed the trial of the cores yet.”

“What is the trial of the cores?” Brandon asked.

She explained that you have to go through three days of obstacles to find out which group you are in. She also mentioned she was a mind reader, so Brandon realized how he could never force a lie past her. She also knew what was troubling him. Then a huge wooden manor loomed up in front of them.

“That is the haunted manor. Twenty-three years ago when I came here, one magician went in and never came out. Every night there is a explosion, and blood starts to seep out of the tallest room in a waterfall. Then a wave of pain seeps through you and you fall into a nightmare. Only two months ago did we find out how to stop the pain, but you will still have nightmares and they are about what you fear the most,” Brandon’s mom whispered, dropping her voice with a shudder as if she could still feel the pain.

Then they passed a cathedral that loomed higher than the haunted tower. It had a huge gold bell on top. The edges were beautifully carved marble and the stained glass art was made with so perfection it looked so realistic. Then Brandon realized that the people in the glass were moving. He gasped and pointed at the glass tiles like a baby that first saw a bird. The people actually glanced at him and some waved. The party pasted the archery range and they saw a huge wooden tower that had broken ladders leading to the top. Then they ventured on and then, the big golden bell struck seven times. It was seven o’clock, and campers poured out of the cabins and training areas.

“C’mon, the feast has begun!” cried Brandon’s mom, looking happier than he was when he was given the Nobel Prize for the rocket boots and the teleporter he invented just a few months ago.

They followed the campers into the mess hall. In just a few hours’ time from when they had passed the hall during the beginning of the tour, there were piles of mashed potatoes, rivers of cranberry sauce, heaps of rotisserie chicken, mountains of spaghetti, hills of Caesar salads and lakes of stews and soups. Brandon sat down with his mom and his dad at the high table.

Brandon noticed that the campers that were in the cabins were know whispering and pointing at him. He ignored them like the paparazzi that followed him wherever he went. Then Brandon began to pile some of the baked yams and the steak onto his golden plates. He asked where was any of the drinks and a server stared at him with a expression of pure horror. She strode away, now bearing a expression of exasperation.

Leaning to his left, Brandon asked his dad, “Why did that servant looked so scared when I asked where the drinks were?” Brandon’s dad looked amused and then replied in a soft tone Brandon had never heard him use. “The drinks are forbidden within a ten-yard radius of the sacred hearth where we do our daily sacrifices at the strike of midnight so we are not pained by that mysterious person up at the top of the haunted manor. We have to sacrifice a ice pearl, a lava ruby, a water sapphire, a leaf emerald, and the rarest, most precious gem of all: the knowledge diamond. It has been a millennium since a knowledge camper came here. They have been extinct because they attract to many spirits and aliens then they can fend off — ”

He had trailed off because Brandon’s diamond charm rose off him and was giving off a brilliant white light. All around Brandon people started bowing on one knee. Then Brandon’s dad said, “Rise Brandon, son of Ilirea, start of the new age of the Knowledges.” Then the diamond started spinning. It spun and spun until it shot a solid pillar of white light up into the sky. It shot through the atmosphere, hurtled past the planets, exploded through the kuiper belt, spun through the Milky Way and it smashed into the alien planet of Nar Gazvoda.

One billion aliens escaped on space ships before they saw their beloved planet shatter into a trillion tiny asteroids. They wanted revenge on that planet and they set off toward Earth, following the light that still shone and destroyed neighboring planets. Then, the light hit the oldest star in the universe, which was a trillion miles in circumference.

It started shaking, and then parts of the star started to rumble. It shook, then pieces of the star exploded and the star ended its life in the biggest supernova that sent the spaceships zooming at the speed of sound.

Meanwhile, at the camp, everyone had gotten up, and tensions broke. The campers all lifted Brandon on their backs. They had just arrived at the cabins when they heard a huge BANG, and they witnessed a supernova. The star’s light and streaked the sky red, orange, yellow, and purple. The asteroid belt had been greatly disrupted and the asteroids flew in the direction toward earth.

The campers saw and set Brandon down to get staffs. Then the first asteroids came barreling down and the campers all muttered “Relashio,” and the asteroids reversed and crashed into each other. The meteors were equally as dangerous as the asteroids, because they traveled twice as fast.

Up in Augusta, the rest of the world saw a spectacular meteor shower until it started plummeting through the atmosphere. People screamed and fled. One by one, the meteors plummeted down, crashing and exploding worldwide known landmarks. The Forbidden City, the World Trade Center, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Pyramids of Giza, the Sydney Opera House, the Statue of Liberty, the Big Ben in London, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow, Blue Domed Church in Santorini, the Great Sphinx of Giza, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal in India, Machu Picchu in Peru, The Burj al Arab Hotel in Dubai, Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, Mecca in Saudi Arabia, Agia Sophia in Istanbul, Turkey, and thousands of other fascinating landmarks that some people will never see.

Every death and destruction of a human of a landmark was a spear in Brandon’s heart. He had been to all those places and yet millions of people might never see one of them. The meteors swirled and crashed into the earth. Then the bigger asteroids came crashing in and a huge eruption of dirt, grass, rock, trees, water, and lava shot out of the ground as the asteroid crashed into the Gulf of Mexico for the second time.

Brandon woke up from his groaning. He was electric-tied onto a mat on the wall. He was in a solid titanium cell. He could hear voices on all sides of the cell. He had the strange sensation that he was hovering over a large fire. It was sweltering in the cell. The cell itself was a oven, and Brandon got the impression whoever put him in the cell wanted to cook him alive. Brandon started struggling against the electric-tied rope and all he got was a painful electric shock up against his ribs. He realized that his legs were both broken, and even if he managed to get off, he would have no chance in finding a way out. He let go and let himself fall into another coma.

When Brandon came fully into his senses, he was in a completely different room. It was decked out with a spa, bed, dinning table, a maple desk and a teleporting closet. Two aliens were whispering in the corner. He struggled against the binds and realized that it was not eletric anymore. He fell limp but then a strange glow started forming in my chest but expanding so rapidly that Brandon felt as if he were going to explode. Then a scream erupted from his mouth and the light burst in a huge beam. The beam erupted into a web and a it started criss cross into a huge circular dome around Brandon.

Then another light shot from his mouth and started twisting itself right the center of the dome. Then a stream of white light collided with the blue light and started spinning. The aliens who were talking had stopped and watched as the light shone ever brillianter than before. Then the light stopped twisting and started solidifying in a spear? No, a staff!? Brandon looked at the staff in bewilderment then the staff rose into Brandon’s outstretched hand and he clasped it hard in his sweating palms.

Then he shouted, “Summonialo Teleporter!” and a teleporter whizzed through the air and landed in Brandon’s other palm. He opened it and yelled the only place that had ever felt like home, Nuanen Welden. He crumpled when he hit the ground because it was so rocky. The place looked deserted and Brandon thought so until a voice rang out.

“Brandon!” A camper came running out of a wrecked cabin. “We were so worried. The aliens took you. How did you escape. You would need a staff — ” The camper’s eyes fell onto the staff topped with the blue swirling sphere.  “Wh-wh-where did you get that staff!?”

“Later. Where are my parents?” Brandon questioned.

“They’re alright. But their current whereabouts in the camp are unknown,” the camper answered. Before the camper could speak, the camper turned white and started speaking the ancient language so fast that all Brandon heard was gibberish. Then, the camper’s eyes turned a ghostly white and projected a beam of light that spoke to Brandon.

“You shall go south in search of peace between aliens and humans. You shall encounter many dangers along the way. You shall find peace in the golden light. Brandon, Elizabeth, Benedict, Harvey, Stanley, Jeffrey, Ronaldo, Amanda, Heather, Judith, Richard, and Benjamin shall go. One person shall perish in his sacrifice for peace for both aliens and humans and the golden light. If you fail, the world will be consumed in darkness and famine. One shall betray the group of ten. Three will be sacrificed on there own will. He, the leader, shall bring his biggest desire to rest by accomplishing it at his end.” The camper collapsed in a heap.

Then, the voice of Brandon’s mom echoed through the campus. “Brandon, Elizabeth, Benedict, Harvey, Stanley, Ronaldo, Amanda, Judith, Richard and Benjamin, please report to the clubhouse immediately for discussion. Bring your staffs along.”

Brandon scrambled over the rocky ground toward the clubhouse. Along the way, more people joined him, running and jumping along to the clubhouse.

Then all ten people pushed on the door and the door swung open with such tremendous force it flew off it’s hinges. The oldest looking one held up an emerald green staff and whispered in a low deep voice, “Reparis Door,” and the door rose into the air and latched itself into the hinges. Then all ten of them crept into the clubhouse, Stanley squeezing Brandon’s arm so hard that it turned purple.

Then, Brandon’s mom’s voice called out through the darkness.

They all raised their staffs (except Brandon) and shot balls of bright, golden light that spewed warmth and a shower of golden sparks. The light illuminated the room and Brandon saw his mom sitting behind a large wooden desk that Brandon suspected was oak and was elegantly carved. A quill was scurrying across, writing exactly what the camper said. Then, the quill exploded and turned into a wax stamper and banged the paper.

Then, Brandon’s mom looked up and said, “So, the group of you have been chosen to start the first quest that has happened in a eon. I want to give you all my knowledge about how to complete the quest. You should know that if you directly walked out of the camp and flew up to the real world, you would find yourself in Augusta, Maine.”

Everyone nodded their heads except Brandon. He thought it was Orlando since he was kidnapped in Orlando and slid down that slide.

There was  a moment of silence before a bell started chiming. Thirteen times? A clock never chimes thirteen times! Then, a sound of chaos met their ears, and Brandon assumed it was a warning bell.

Brandon’s mom stood up and yelled, “Go to Atlanta to find peace!” before they heard the sound of spaceships zooming down from the periwinkle sky.

“RUN!” Stanley yelled. They all scrambled out of the clubhouse and Harvey conjured a shield around them. Campers were battling aliens, and Elizabeth whispered “Ascendium Stairo!” and a long staircase made out clouds appeared. They all sprinted up and into an unrecognizable world. The city was in ruins. Fires were burning and the remaining buildings that were still standing were either leaning at an incredible angle or  had huge chunks torn away or were charred black.

Then Elizabeth tried to conjure a cloud jet but as soon as she had muttered the spell and a cloud started forming, the sky turned red and the cloud exploded into a shower of lava and the team scattered. Harvey conjured a compass from nowhere and said, “That’s south, and we should go south.”

The team started south. They passed ruined cities. They made it to North Carolina before an obstacle came. The team had just entered a ruined city that seemed like Charlotte when they came upon a park that was completely unharmed. The group was tired and sore and all ten of them sat down on benches when the ground started rumbling and a hydra burst out from the ground.

The hydra pelted them with poison but Ronaldo waved his staff and the ground started trembling and geysers erupted straight out of the ground. Water splashed everywhere and the hydra spluttered out a wave of yellow water. The team ran and dodged geysers. Stanley shot fireballs at the hydra. Benedict sent a tornado spinning at the hydra and a ghostly green head went flying into a tree and disintegrated into a shower of sparks. The tree quickly caught fire and sparks were flying. The hydra roared and cracks started appearing on the ground. Amanda froze the ground into slippery ice and started pushing the hydra back with icicles.

By the time the icicles had stopped flying, the hydra was covered in cuts. Then Richard and Judith at the same time, turned the ground into coral and the hydra was poisoned as soon as the coral touched him. Benjamin started wrapping the hydra with lightning and Brandon had no idea what to do so he raised his staff and thought, Please save me, when an orb of light formed at his staff and disintegrated the hydra. The team started whooping.

They arrived at Atlanta after weeks on I 85, when the team was refreshed. Atlanta looked like Charlotte in every way until they realized a mile out of the city, and a circle of landmines surrounded the city. They made their way through until Benedict held up a watch and said, “Goodbye team.” He pressed a button and the mines started exploding.

The team raced through the landmines and sprinted away. On the way, Ronaldo fell and was consumed, and Harvey died while trying to punch Benedict. The team of seven watched as the fire advanced on Atlanta. Suddenly, spaceships descended and the team quickly found themselves surrounded by aliens. They battled desperately through the apocalypse and found themselves in the courtyard of Brandon’s old boarding school.

The world was at its final stand. Disease, war and destruction were consuming earth. Most of Asia and Africa had fallen. The Asians and Africans that had escaped to the other continents (including Antarctica) found the other continents as bruised and battered as their own. Brandon and his fellow magicians sent spells flying into the sky and ricocheting off stones and trees with their staffs. They were in the courtyard of the boarding school Brandon went to a whole year ago. It was a alien apocalypse. Every second another magician went down. Then, a golden light burst from the front of Brandon’s staff and made a shield around him. The shots from the blasters just turned into golden light. He suddenly remembered what the camper told him. The quest for the golden light! The Prophecy of the light.  The camper spoke to him four weeks ago.

“One person shall perish in his sacrifice for peace and the golden light. One shall betray the group of ten. Five will be sacrificed through their own will. The leader shall bring his biggest desire to rest by accomplishing it at his end.”

He was going to die. He was to bring peace to the warring world and never see it. He told himself, “Make your mom proud by doing a recognizable act to salvage the world,” and he let the power he was channeling from his knowledge diamond go. For a second, he was engulfed in a golden light so brilliant that he thought he was in a solid golden coffin.

Stanley was overrun with aliens when he saw Brandon rise into the air with a golden shield and explode. The light shot a beam into the air and the world started repairing. The light picked up the ruins of cities and rebuilt them again. It regrew burnt crops and healed destroyed forests and with it, brought peace. The aliens slowly started fading and soon, all that was left of them were melted guns and a couple of blasters. The remaining group rushed toward where Brandon was but all that was left was the knowledge diamond. Elizabeth started crying, Amanda and Stanley silently started grieving over their friend. They opened up a portal and teleported to Nuanen Welden. The whole Nuanen Welden was cheerful until they found out that Brandon was gone. The funeral was held that day and all the knowledge diamond was burned. Everyone was crying. For the funeral, Stanley made a speech.

“Brandon was a good friend of mine. We went to the same boarding school and he made me his assistant last year. So much has happened in a year. We grew up and matured together. We built a teleporter, a chemical vacuum and a lie detector together. We fought through aliens together. Brandon was always an honorable and loyal friend. He helped rebuild the world by sacrificing himself. We were together. The one thing I learned from our friendship is that you are more powerful when you are together.”

Royal Disaster


“I’d like to welcome Erica Middleton to this class,” Mrs. Evans, a 7th grade homeroom teacher at Riverside Middle School, announced on the first day back from Winter Break.

A timid girl stood up at the front of the room, shivering at the thought of even standing in front of her class, let alone speaking to the students sitting at their desks.

“Hi? I’m Erica Middleton, and I moved from England?” Erica spoke softly with a slight British accent.

Another girl with a short bob of blonde hair spoke up, “Um, Erica, do you even know if your name is Erica or not?”

“Lacie, when did you become the teacher?” Mrs. Evans asked sharply. She glared at Lacie Kibbel, the leader of the popular group.

“What? I was just pointing out that she should have told us rather than asked us.” Lacie rolled her eyes.


I knew from the beginning that Lacie was not going to like me. After all, I was shy and unpopular. Probably the exact opposite of her. Lunch came so slowly, all the teachers kept asking me questions. Like, where did I move from? Why did I move? What school did I use to go to? When I answered, every time, Lacie Kibbel snickered. Which, of course, made practically half of the class snicker.

But then lunch finally came. I deliberately sat at the table farthest from Lacie’s group. So I sat at an empty seat where I thought I was safe from other people. I was wrong.

“Is anyone sitting here?” a girl named Brianna asked. “And you’re Erica, right?”

“Yes. And are you… Brianna?” I asked back. “Are you friends with Lacie?”

“Yes, I am Brianna and no, I am not friends with Lacie. She claimed I was her worst enemy in 5th grade. I think she forgot about it a week after,” Brianna ranted. She sat down next to me. “I hope you aren’t like her, she is so…annoying, popular, and stuck up.”

Across the room, I could see Lacie and her popular group looking at me and pointing. I pulled out my phone and saw Lacie’s smug expression turn into a shocked one. I could see her mouth forming the words, “She has an iPhone 6S?” I laughed to myself softly. Then I texted my cousin, Kate. Kate Middleton, the world-famous Duchess of Cambridge. I know, you’re probably really shocked right now –– or… not. Her dad is my dad’s older brother, so that’s why we have the same last name. I texted Kate, about my ‘situation’, and she was really sympathetic.

“Who was that?” Brianna asked, curious.

“Oh, just my cousin,” I answered nonchalantly. Then conversation turned to the usual. None of were us talking, just eating in silence.

Soon enough, recess came. As I stepped outside into the frigid winter air, Lacie strode up to me, sneering.

“Oh, were you just… let’s see… texting your dear mum? Who had to save her salary for years just to get you that phone? Huh, Erica?” Lacie taunted, as I debated with myself to tell her about Kate.

Don’t do it, don’t do it… I begged myself. So I didn’t. I walked away and began to jump rope.


“Hi Erica” I saw my best friend, Sage Blick, yell to the new girl. “Wanna do a jump roping contest? And I like your shirt, it’s really pretty.”

“Of course!” Erica replied. “Your shirt is pretty, too.”

Lots of my other friends followed Sage’s lead and complimented Erica on her designer clothes. None of them have complimented me on my clothes. Mine are much nicer.

I strode up to them and eyed Sage. “Um, I’m pretty sure Sage doesn’t want to talk to you, she’s just… faking it. Right, Sage?” I nudged her –– more like shoved her –– and she finally agreed with me. Was I seeing things, or was there a flicker of disappointment in her eyes?

During the next period, I had a little talk with Sage. Long story short, she was glad that she didn’t have to be in the popular group. Seriously? And worst of all, she went to hang out with Erica.

“Lacie, do you have any good book recommendations?” Miranda Jis asked me. That girl loves to read, and she can be, well, pretty crazy without a book. Anyways, we ended up talking about a lot of books. So then I recruited her as my new best friend. Of course she said yes because my puppy-dog eyes and blinding white smile and good fashion sense are pretty hard to resist.

I had expected that, by the end of the day, Sage would have come up to me and apologized. She didn’t. She almost seemed to like her new life as a loser was better than when she got special treatment as my best friend.

In Social Studies, Ms. Norman gave us partners for the Lewis and Clark project. I got paired with Sage, and Miranda was paired with Erica. Why do all the bad things have to happen to me?

“Ms. Norman?” I asked sweetly. “Can Miranda and I be partners, and can Erica and Sage be partners? Please?”

“No, Lacie. You must do the project with Sage, and Erica must do it with Miranda. Understand?” Mrs. Norman replied curtly.

“Yeah… Sure, whatever you say…” I muttered, rolling my eyes.


Miranda and I got together to brainstorm for our project. She really is nice, even though she’s Lacie’s best friend. It really is hard to believe that she would ever be as mean and as harsh as Lacie, since Lacie trained all her followers to be mean and harsh, like herself.

So, on Friday, Miranda and I hung out at my house. We got some work done, but mostly talked and laughed together.

“Erica, you’re so nice. I wish that we could be best friends,” Miranda said thoughtfully. “I know, you and Sage and Brianna could become part of the popular group, and we could be friends. That way, all your friends and my friends could form a super mega awesome group.”

I smiled weakly. Did she not know that Lacie was basically my mortal enemy? But, oh well, she liked me, and I would do anything to make sure I didn’t get another enemy.

“Uh, sure.” I faked cheeriness and smiled, but inside I was thinking: Oh no, please don’t do this to me, please don’t. Don’t you know that your new best friend is not nice? That she hates me? Please, Miranda.

But Miranda seemed oblivious to all this and left happily. Then I went to contemplate what I needed to do on Monday. Maybe I could fake being sick, or tell Miranda I didn’t want to. I didn’t want Lacie to tease me 24/7. Thousands and thousands of possibilities popped into my head. Then suddenly a small voice at the back of my brain woke up.

Hey, wait a moment., the voice yelled at my thoughts. Since when does Lacie Kibbel control what you do and don’t do? Last time I checked, you’re supposed to think for yourself, Erica.

“Fine,” I wanted to yell. “Fine, I’ll think for myself, now stop bothering me.”

On the dreaded Monday, I walked into homeroom trying to look confident. I guess I did a pretty decent job, since Lacie whispered in my ear, “Think you can overcome the popular group, huh? Well, you can’t.”

Later that day at lunch, Lacie didn’t miss any chance to insult me. When I was buying a slice of pizza, Lacie sneered, “Ah, I see that you don’t really care about your appearance –– pizza is really fattening, you know. I got a salad.” Lacie waved her salad in the air. “But on second thought, pizzas are the cheapest meal, so that’s probably the only thing your poor mum can afford.” The kids in the cafeteria gaped open-mouthed at us. Some of the popular group was glaring at me, but what did I do? Just bring out the nasty side of Lacie?

“Well sorry, Lacie, but I’m pretty sure that last Friday, you got and extra cheesy pizza and a double order of deep fried french fries. Is that true?” I asked, almost mockingly.

“Oh… Well, you must have seen one of your BFFs,” Lacie said. Then she said something that sounded a lot like ‘Sage Blick’, and turned back to me. “You got that meal. Didn’t you, Sage?” Lacie smirked, as Sage turned a shade of bubblegum pink.

“You know what? I think I have a headache. I’ll go to the nurse,” I scooted out of the cafeteria as quickly as I could.

Before I left, I heard Lacie howl with laughter. “You’re admitting defeat, aren’t you? Poor peasant girl.”


After Erica left, I went back to eating my salad in peace. But I never thought that those losers would have the guts to stand up to me.

“Seriously?” Asked Sage. “Lacie, I was your best friend for four years. Those first two years, you were the greatest friend I could imagine. You were so nice. I never imagined that you would be so rude to another classmate, but those last two years… I didn’t see a speck of that old type of you. Nothing meant more to you than popularity. It surprised me. I would gladly be your best friend, if you ever became your old self again.” By the time Sage ended her speech, she was close to tears.

“Seriously, you’ve been really mean to Erica, Lacie,” Brianna spoke up. “I know that you love your popularity, but seriously? Unless you actually become nice, not your fakey-fakey type of nice, Erica’s going to become the new popular girl. And… you’re going to be out of the game.”

“Oh well,” I stuck my nose in the air and puffed up my chest. “I’m pretty sure that you two and your poor friend Erica will never overthrow my popular group.”

All of a sudden, to my surprise, one of my loyal followers decided to go to the loser’s side. I gasped, then quickly regained my composure. What was going on? Well, at least I still had the majority of the grade on my side, the right side, so I thought.

One by one, my popular group walked over to the loser’s side quietly. Soon, only Miranda and I were left.

“Miranda, I knew you would stick by me, we’re BFFs forever,” I put my fist in the air, ready for a fist bump. But Miranda shook her head.

“I’m really sorry Lacie, but…” Miranda started inching toward the loser’s side.

“What is going on here?” I exploded. “Somebody explain, right now.”

“Um, well, I guess that I think Sage has a point?” One of my former buddies mumbled. “And, I guess, you should be nicer to Erica?” I glared at her.

Then Miranda, the biggest traitor of all, started talking.

“Um, Lacie? I think that everyone here thinks that you’re being way too nasty to Erica. She doesn’t deserve any of that. I know that Erica is actually really nice. Please, Lacie, please just give her a chance.” Miranda asked, on behalf of all the losers.

“No way.” I practically yelled. “She comes from a poor family. If we were in England, we would say that she is a poor peasant girl. Why would I want to befriend her?”

Sage just sighed, “Lacie, you are hopeless.”


The next day, as soon as I sat down at my usual lunch table, the whole popular group swarmed around me. What was going on? I felt just a bit of sympathy towards Lacie –– having the popular crowd practically worship you one day, and have them ditch you the next. I had no idea what had happened.

“Um, Erica?” Lacie asked, her voice sugary sweet. I knew immediately that this niceness was all fake. “Can I sit here?”

“Sure,” I replied. It was the least I could do for Lacie, after all, she just got ditched by her so-called friends.

Lacie sat down gingerly, smoothing her skirt down. She was still rude to me, but her ego seemed to have been cut in half.

At lunch, it it felt like the first day of school for me all over again. Questions were asked over and over again, but this time by different students. Only Lacie was quiet.

I, meanwhile, was texting Kate. In case you don’t remember, Kate Middleton is my cousin. Like, the duchess.

Erica – Hi, just BTW, Lacie doesn’t

seem to hate me as much now.

I dunno what happened.

I think I should tell her about

how you’re my cousin.

Kate – Awesome If you decide to

tell her, just don’t say it like a big

deal. Just casually. Tell me their


By the end of the lunch period, several questions about my family came up. I told them all about Mom and Dad. But I didn’t mention Kate at all. Then, finally, at the end of lunch, I stood up to dump my garbage out, and said, “ooh, and by the way? My cousin is Duchess Kate Middleton.”

That practically freaked everyone out, especially Lacie.

“What?” Lacie screeched, horrified. “You? That’s impossible. You’re a liar, and your family is poor. It is absolutely impossible.” She glared at me, her posture radiating hatred.

I shrugged: “Oh well –– if you don’t want to believe me, then don’t. See ya.” I started towards class, but Lacie stopped me by pulling on the back of my sweater.

“Erica Middleton, you are a liar and a fraud. If you actually pay attention, you will notice that nobody believes you. Just tell the truth,” Lacie snapped. “Just admit that your family is unbelievably poor. After all, it’s the truth.”

“Well,” I replied. “Like I said before –– don’t believe me if you don’t want to. Your choice. I might come to school with proof tomorrow or the day after that, Lacie. You might just want to wait and see.”

“I don’t need proof to know that you are lying, Erica,” Lacie snarled.

“Okay, Lacie. I don’t care if you believe me or not. Just drop the topic,” I said without turning around. Then I walked to class.


Erica just said to “drop the topic” But I can’t, really. All my life, I have obsessed about the royals, but I’ve never met one. I have always wanted to be one. But then Erica said that she was related to a royal. More specifically, Kate Middleton. Like, she is absolutely so pretty, and so perfect, and I really want to be just like her.

But, that proved my suspicions. As soon as she said, on the first day, that she was Erica Middleton, I had a sneaking suspicion that she was related to her. After all, their last names were the same, and they both were from England.

That night I went to bed, but it took forever to go to sleep. I tossed and turned, thinking: What if Erica was related to Kate Middleton? Then what would happen to my empire? What would happen to me? I thought worriedly. As I fell asleep, I hoped that the next day would be be a lot better.

The next day, as I walked into homeroom, I noticed the slight chatter. Mrs. Evans saw me come in, and said: “Oh, hi, Lacie. Erica told us that a special guest from her family was coming to visit. She’s arriving in a couple of minutes.”

I nodded, having a feeling that it was Kate Middleton.

A couple minutes later, an announcement was made for the 7th grade to go to the auditorium. Erica was going to meet her guests with two friends, for an up-close meet-and-greet. She, of course, chose Sage and Brianna. I was so jealous. Even though I never wanted to be friends with Erica ever, I still wanted to meet Kate Middleton.

When we got to the auditorium, Brianna and Sage sat down excitedly with us. They were whispering to my former friends. I could make out some of what they were saying.

“You’ll be surprised,” Sage said. “She is even prettier in real life.”

“Yeah,” Brianna added. “She even signed the Polaroid photo that Mrs. Norman took of me, Sage, Erica, and her.”

Then, finally, Kate Middleton came out. It was so awesome, like a dream come true, I was sooo happy. Well, until I remembered that Erica had made it happen.

“Hello,” Duchess Kate said, in the most gorgeously awesome British accent, “It is a pleasure to meet all of you. My cousin Erica speaks of you so often. Your school, Riverside Middle School is just so beautiful, and I’m sure that the teachers here are so very kind.”

Then she went on and on and on about living in Great Britain, and yada yada yada. Instead of listening, I looked at her absolutely awesome designer outfit. She was wearing a super pretty navy and white striped sweater, and skinny jeans. Also, her high heels were, just, fabulous.

Now, as she started walking around, Erica started to hand out pictures of the royal family: Queen Elizabeth, Prince Philip, the Duchess of Cornwall, Prince Charles, Prince Harry, Prince William, Princess Kate, and baby Prince George. They weren’t signed, but oh well, they were still awesome.

When she finally got to me, Princess Kate asked me, “Are you Lacie?”

“Yeah,” I replied. Erica probably told her all about me. Of course, it probably was super, um, negative stuff. But still, she knew me from my face.

“I love your outfit. Erica told me you weren’t the nicest to her, but to your close friends you were really nice. And I think that you probably should branch out more –– even to kids that you don’t want to be friends with. Be nice.” Kate Middleton said to me. My idol was having a conversation with me. I knew that she was vaguely hinting that I should have been nicer to Erica, but my main focus was: Omg, Kate Middleton is talking to me, and she actually said she loved my outfit. All I was wearing was an oversized lime green hoodie, and some jeans.

Then, I actually thought about what she said. She told me to try to be nicer to Erica. Even though Kate was doing it for Erica’s good, I couldn’t erase it from my head –– Kate Middleton told me to be nicer to her. So of course I was going to do it. But, I would be forcing myself –– I never wanted to (and probably never will) be nice to Erica.

I don’t know why, but I just despised Erica from the beginning. Probably because she was super pretty, and Sage liked her so much. She was the best at everything. Her life was definitely absolutely perfect. It would be so fun to be her. Glitz, glam, and glitter. She must be so happy. What about maids or servants or something? She should have that stuff in her house, shouldn’t she? After all, her family is royalty. How come she got lucky, so that she could be related to Kate Middleton? How come I couldn’t be Erica?

“Lacie,” Mrs. Kim, the math teacher snapped. “Concentrate.”

“Okay,” I replied meekly. I worked on one problem, then stopped to doodle on the margins of my paper. Soon enough, Mrs. Kim spotted me doodling again.

“Miss Kibbel, I’d like to see you outside. Now,” Mrs. Kim frowned.

“Yeah what?” I asked, glaring. It was so embarrassing to be called out of class, especially since the teacher was Mrs. Kim. She is the most carefree teacher in like, ever.

“Lacie, I’m disappointed in you. I thought you were a good math student.” Mrs. Kim reprimanded me.

“Well, I guess life hasn’t been so nice to me, and I know I need to concentrate?” I said Hopefully, Mrs. Kim would let me off the hook.

“No, Lacie. You have to concentrate, and life’s not fair. Your excuse is not valid. If I see you doing that again, you will be sent straight to the principal’s office. Do you understand?”

“Yeah sure, whatever,” I shrugged.

Later that day during lunch, I sat at my usual spot at the popular table. If Erica wasn’t stopping me, I wasn’t going to stop. I was sitting next to Miranda, and we were sitting across from Erica, Brianna, and Sage. All the other girls sat at another table, because Erica asked them to. It wasn’t like they wanted to, Erica had complete and total control over them.

“Guess what, Erica?” Sage said to Erica, obviously wanting me to overhear. “Today in math, Lacie got called out of the room, by Mrs. Kim. Didn’t you, Lacie?”

“Wow, Mrs. Kim? She’s literally the nicest teacher ever,” Erica gasped, surprised.

“Yup. She got in serious trouble. I heard that she got close to seeing the principal.” Brianna added.

“I did not,” I interrupted indignantly. “Just because you’re BFFs with a girl whose life is perfect, and she’s related to royalty does not mean that you get to insult me, Sage. I’m not sure if you’ve realized it, but you’re kinda popular. And I’m not. You shouldn’t be picking on a non-popular person seriously.

“Well, Lacie, that’s basically you,” Erica said, as if it was the most obvious thing ever. Which, by the way, it wasn’t.

“Well Erica, I don’t think that you should be part of this conversation because your life is absolutely perfect. You’ve never experienced what I’m going through right now. Just saying, you have everything you could possibly want. And you’re so greedy, you want even more. And of course, your parents spoil you. Don’t hide it, because it’s––”

Not the truth,” said Erica. “Do you really think that my parents are as carefree as yours? Have you seriously not thought about me as an actual human?”

I shrugged. “Well yeah, duh, you’re a human. Like, everybody knows that.” What was the big deal? She was still related to Kate Middleton.

“Have you ever moved across the ocean, and had to leave all your friends? I’m telling you, I’ve cried myself to sleep practically every single night since I moved to Riverside,” Erica looked at me with tears in her eyes.

“Yeah, so? It’s not like you don’t have friends here,” I pointed at Sage and Brianna.

“Do you know how much it hurts to be insulted over and over again by the same person? I’m telling you, it is like you’re being poked with multiple needles hundreds of times in a row.”

“So? That’s happened to me. It doesn’t hurt,” I sneered. Out of excuses yet? To be honest, I had never been poked like that before, but…

“My parents are strict as can be. The reason? My cousin. They don’t want me to grow up thinking that I’m royalty, because I’m not. My cousin is, and I’m not spoiled. Kate Middleton sends me all these clothes. My parents would never do that. Ever,” Erica sighed. “Convinced yet?”

The other table was watching us, and so were the boys.

“Clothes? Seriously? Your parents don’t buy you clothes?” I screeched.

“They do, but only the necessities,” Erica said sadly. I began to feel a pang of sympathy for Erica.

“So Kate got you every expensive thing you own?” I asked, in awe.

“Yup,” Erica nodded. “And, are your parents stay-at-home?”

“Only Mom,” I replied. What did that have to do with anything?

“Well, both of my parents work full-time. It’s not like I sit around chilling all day after school. I wash the dishes, wash the clothes, clean the house, and so much more. Do you do that, Lacie?” Erica asked. Now, I felt full on bad for her. She had to do practically everything in her house. I couldn’t imagine doing any of the things she does.

“I’m sorry, Erica,” I said genuinely. “I really mistook you for a princess, like your cousin. I guess… well, you’re not.”

Erica looked at me with an expression that was a mixture between amusement and annoyance. It was as if she was saying, Well, isn’t that obvious?

“Your family isn’t even richer than mine. So, I guess I hope that you’ll accept my apology. I know you probably can’t trust me too much, but please, just give me a chance,” I asked.

After I realized that Erica was actually a normal person, I just felt that she was so much… better than me in so many ways. She was just… herself. She didn’t care what others thought about her. I admired that. Maybe that was why I just hated her, she was so much more comfortable in her own skin.

“You’ll have to build up my trust first. If you really want me to be your friend. Seriously,” Erica replied. She wasn’t exactly forgiving me, but it was a step.

“Good morning, everybody.” Mrs. Evans said, grabbing our focus.

“Good morning, Mrs. Evans,” we chorused.

“Today’s project is a partner project –– and you are to write a 4-paragraph essay about the definition of bullying, and what you will do if you see somebody getting bullied. I’ll assign partners. So… Sage and Brianna, Miranda and Bridget, Erica and Lacie,” Mrs. Evans rattled off a list of names. As soon as I heard my name and Erica’s together, I froze.

Erica? And me? Was Mrs. Evans blind? Couldn’t she see that Erica and I were not friends? At all? I thought that she was trying to be a ‘kind and thoughtful homeroom teacher. That was not kind or thoughtful at all. It was as if she wanted to put us together and torture us. I could see that Erica was upset too. Finally, she turned to look at me and shrugged. I sighed. If Mrs. Evans wanted us to work together, then we had to.

“Now… you can get together with your partners and start working. If you don’t finish, you’ll have more time tomorrow,” Mrs. Evans smiled. “And, just saying, this will help the Board of Education with the anti-bullying system, they’re your audience. If you have any questions, just come up to me.”

“So…” Erica said. “I guess we’ll have to work together.”

“I guess,” I replied. “So if we see bullying, we report it to an adult at home or at school. Right?”

“Yeah. The definition is when someone repeatedly picks on someone else because of a certain characteristic,” Erica added. “So, I guess we’ll start writing.”

She took out a piece of lined paper and started working on our essay in her super neat handwriting. I wanted to compliment her about it, but I didn’t know how.

“I… like your… um… handwriting,” I blurted.

“Thanks, Lacie.” Erica smiled genuinely. “Yours is nice too.”

“Let’s focus. Do you want to write the whole thing? Or should we take turns?” I asked.

“I’ll write,” Erica replied. “So, the intro paragraph should be about the main thing. In this essay, you will learn about the definition of bullying and what students will do if we see someone getting bullied. Hopefully, this essay will help with the anti-bullying system.”

“Great. Next paragraph is about the definition of bullying,” I added. “So… From our past experience, bullying is when a person repeatedly picks on someone else because of a certain characteristic that they have. For example, whether or not someone wears glasses, or has braces. Something that makes bullies bully people is when they feel insecure about themselves.”

“And sometimes, the bully has been bullied by someone else, so he or she will bully others.”

All of a sudden, a thought flashed through my mind. Even though it was vague, it was specific enough for me to know that, even though I didn’t want it to, the thought was true. It was completely true. I was a bully. I was the one person who repeatedly picked on someone else because of a certain characteristic. I had bullied Erica Middleton. For a completely invalid reason, I had picked on Erica from the first day she had come to Riverside Middle School. She had made me feel insecure about myself from the very beginning. The way that Mrs. Evans cherished her as a student just irked me. There was no point in hiding it –– I was the bully that made Erica’s life miserable. I could feel myself shaking.

“Lacie,” Erica said in alarm. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

“I…” I whispered. My eyes filled up with tears. “I’m sorry. I’m a bully. I’m nothing but a bully. I shouldn’t even be writing an essay about how to prevent bullying. I’m a bully. I’m worthless.”

“No you’re not, Lacie.” Erica exclaimed. “You’re who you are, and nobody can change that. Lacie, you’re yourself. You shouldn’t be intimidated by someone else, you’re special in your own way.”

“Well,” I frowned. “I guess.”

* * *


On the last day of school, Lacie and I hugged goodbye.

“Bye, Lacie.” I called as we went our separate ways. “Be sure to write.”

“Bye, Erica,” Lacie hugged me. “Thanks for being such a good friend. After all I did to you…”

“You’re a great person, Lacie. I probably haven’t acknowledged it too much, but you’re a great friend. Just be comfortable in your own skin,” I smiled reassuringly. “See you next year.”

“Yeah, see you,” Lacie called. “All I wanted you to know was that… you’re not at all what I expected.”

Days on Pages


“Ow!” Owen’s father screeched. He had just banged his head on the ceiling.

Owen was cleaning out the attic with his father when he found a dusty, old box with books in it, which matched the rest of the attic: dusty, creepy, and cobwebby.

“What’s this, Dad?” Owen shouted with satisfaction from across the attic. In his hand, he held hundreds of books with his ancestors’ names, initials, and photos from the present. Some were black and white photos of people, young and old, who looked like him and his father, only they were wearing things that people don’t wear anymore, like top hats!

Owen’s dad walked over from what was, in Owen’s opinion, the “creepy” side of the attic to have a peek. “What’s wha — … Wooo!!!”


“Ow! I found your skateboard!” Owen’s father told him, looking really dizzy. “Now, what do you need?” Owen’s father wobbled over carefully. “Oh, that. Those are all the books that your ancestors wrote.”

Owen looked at the books again, then thought to himself, My ancestors wrote these? How was I unaware of this?

Puzzled, he asked his dad, “So, you’re not the only author in the family?!”

“Oh no, I’m just one of them,” his father replied.

If I hadn’t felt bad enough that I couldn’t write as well as my father, now I’d be the only one in my whole family who couldn’t write a book! Owen thought to himself.


So that’s when it all started. It had been a few months since that day, and Owen still hadn’t done any better, if not, he’d done worse. Ever since then, he feared failing his family because he couldn’t write a story like them.

This morning, Owen was eating breakfast when he decided to ask his mom for a good idea for a story.

“Hello, Owen! Did you have a good night’s sleep?” Owen’s mom asked.

“Yeah, it was fine,” Owen groaned.

“I had the best dream last night where I had all the food in the world and — what do you want for breakfast today? Do you want cereal, or some waffles? Oh, I know, how about pancakes? Here, let me start cooking … ”

Owen’s mom rambled on and on about food, until Owen finally asked her, “Do you have any good ideas for a book, Mom?”

“How about a cookbook?!” Owen’s mom immediately replied.

Owen immediately regretted his decision because his mom loved food and cooking so much — heck, she was even flipping 12 pancakes for the family as she spoke! On that note, Owen stood up, grabbed his skateboard, ran for the door, picked up his backpack, and skated off to school, leaving his mom behind with all the food.

“What about your pancakes with extra butter and whipped cream with a cherry on top and a side of waffles with a side of bacon, eggs, and toast with a side of — oh, never mind.”


“Today in writing class, we are are going to learn about how to make realistic fiction stories,” Owen’s teacher told the class as she wrote on the chalkboard. “If you don’t have any ideas, then, a good thing to do is to write down everything you’ve done that day, like a journal!”

And there it was! Exactly what Owen had needed, some actually good advice.

A journal, of course! Owen thought to himself.


When school was out, Owen couldn’t wait to write in a journal. He ran home and got all the money he had from his piggy bank, ran to Staplers, bought an orange journal with a squiggly line pattern for $7.86, and then ran back home and started to write.

Today, I went to school and learned to write in the journal and I– Owen recited.

Owen suddenly had no idea why he had been so excited. Now that he was doing it, he felt a flash of complete boredom in his mind.

Owen kept on recording stuff over the next few months (boring or not) such as brushing teeth, getting in bed, pulling up the covers, putting his head on the pillow, and writing in this dumb journal.

As weeks passed, things were rough and boring: Dad got tons of fan mail (which, to Owen, felt like it was being shoved down his throat that he couldn’t write). Mom kept talking about food, food, food, while Owen wrote in his journal more and more.

Everything was always the same, and nothing was ever different. That was it.

Until one day, when Owen finally had an idea.


“Beat’cha!” Owen shouted. He was playing at his friend Lukas’ house.

“This game blows!” He threw his controller past the flatscreen.

“I might return it back to Games Galore!” Lukas shouted, his face turning the color of Owen’s red shirt.

“You’re the one who bought it and lost the mega power up,” Owen chuckled.

Owen yelled. Lukas’ little brother Benny had just waddled into the living room and ripped out all the pages in Owen’s orange journal.


“Oh God! No, no, nooo!!!” Owen shouted over the pages.

Benny froze and ran away.

Owen tried to put the pages back together, but they wouldn’t go back, and to add to that, he couldn’t find the right order they were supposed to be in.

Suddenly, he looked at all the pages laid out in front of him and thought, This could be my story, the story about trying to find the right story to write!

“Of course!” he yelled. He ran back to his house and got to work.

Owen’s book was about a ten-year-old boy named Nick, who, like Owen, searched for the right story and finally found it!


Now, 30 years later, Owen is the most famous author in his family, and he has twins. His story was a hit, a blockbuster book!

“Daddy,” Owen’s son and daughter asked him one day, “do you have any good ideas for a story?”

Owen smiled.

Finding the Gray

Maggie Lexing was bursting with excitement as she ran through the front doors of her house. From 3:15 to 4:30, her three younger sisters went to soccer practice, and her father was at work, so Maggie had time with her mother without anyone else at home.

“Hi, Mom!” Maggie said. “I forgot to tell you yesterday that everyone at school is going crazy about seeing their birth certificates! Brianna Curry found hers in the attic, and ever since then, the whole fifth grade has been trying to find their birth certificates. Can I see mine?”

“Well, honey, I don’t think that’s such a good idea. I mean, my parents never showed me my birth certificate, and my friends didn’t say a word about it. It certainly didn’t affect me.” Her mother wore a sad, frightened look on her face, an expression that Maggie rarely saw, especially when she was alone with her.

“Pretty, pretty please with a cherry on top? I want to be the first one out of my friends who finds their birth certificate. You never mentioned it, and I have no idea where it is.” Maggie saw the doubt on her mother’s face. “I don’t need it right now.”

Her mother sighed, as if knowing this would be a battle where she could fight, but she would never win.

“Okay, sweetie. I guess I’ll show you when your dad comes home.”

Maggie ran upstairs with a big smile on her face, waiting for her father to come home. Her mother sat in a wooden stool, dreading the moment Mr. Lexing turned the ebony handle of the front door and walked inside their pastel blue house.


Later that night, Maggie and her mom had an early dinner before Maggie’s father came home. Usually, Maggie had dinner with her mother and father. Her mom didn’t tell her why they were having such an early dinner, no matter how much she tried to get it out of her. Even though she was still curious about this, Maggie decided to let it go.

Her dad walked through the front door. As soon as she heard the sound of his shoes clomping on the wooden panels of her house, Maggie, who was up in her bedroom awaiting her father’s arrival, ran downstairs.

Her mom whispered something to him, and as he ran upstairs to get Maggie’s birth certificate, her mom sat her down on the beige couch in the living room. Finally, Maggie saw her father come downstairs with a very fancy paper in his hands. He handed it over to Maggie, and her mom gave her shoulders a tight squeeze.

Maggie took a deep breath and looked down at her birth certificate. It looked like it had been very carefully made. It had a gold border lining the edges of the paper, and everything was written in black, fancy print. It looked so official, and for a moment, Maggie wondered whether she wanted to read it or not. But, as usual, curiosity took over, and she started to read the beige paper. But her excitement quickly changed to confusion. Just as she started to read it, her mother stopped her.

“Sweetie, before you read it, we should tell you something.” Her mother took a deep breath and started explain, “Honey, we’ve been meaning to tell you that you’re, you’re, you’re — ”

“Adopted.” Her dad finished her mother’s sentence, and even though he spoke in a whisper, the word “adopted” still held the same meaning and impact.

“This says that ‘Maria and Carson Salzi’ are my birth parents, not you,” Maggie said, and, in a way, she was sort of agreeing with her parents.

Maggie’s brown eyes shone with confusion, but soon they widened as she realized the truth. “But that means, that means, that means you guys have been lying to me my whole entire life!”

Maggie felt as if her parents had physically punched her. She began to say something else, but stopped mid-sentence at the sight of her sister, Maya, who was coming downstairs. Maya was dressed in her hot pink pjs, hugging a brown stuffed bear in one arm and rubbing her sleepy eyes with the other. Since Maggie’s dad was a doctor, he often came home late from work, and Maggie’s younger sisters went to bed before he came home.

“What’s going on, Mommy? Cassie, Sally, and I can’t sleep, because there’s too much yelling.” Maya twirled her blond hair around one of her tiny fingers.

Maggie had always wondered why she looked so different from her sisters and her parents, comparing her dark hair to their blond hair, or her brown eyes to their blue eyes. But every time she asked the question, her father told her that they all looked alike, and her mother turned very hesitant. Now she knew the answer.

Maya smiled at Maggie sleepily, her blue eyes shining. Maggie avoided her sister’s eyes and looked at the floor, not returning Maya’s small smile.

“Nothing’s going on, sweetie. Go back upstairs and sleep. We’ll be really quiet, okay?” Maggie’s mom’s voice was sweet and caring as she spoke. She saw the little transaction between Maggie and her younger sister, and the fact that Maggie didn’t return Maya’s smile, broke her heart.

“Okay, Mommy,” Maya responded, too tired to argue. She stifled a yawn, said, “goodnight” to everybody, and ran upstairs.

Maggie and her parents continued their conversation quietly.

“We didn’t tell you because we never wanted you to feel any different from the other kids. We felt like we were protecting you by not telling you the truth, but now we know that we were wrong. Then you turned six and started to go to elementary school, and we kept saying we would tell you, but we never had the courage or the heart.” Maggie’s dad looked at the floor as he said this, not having enough bravery to look her in the eyes.

“So lying to me is better?” Maggie looked up at her parents, her eyes full of pain.

“We didn’t want to lie to you. It’s just, certain things got in the way, and we never took the time to tell you. We adopted you from the orphanage when you were two years old, because I got a call from Child Services. I told your mother, and she loved the idea as much as I did. And the next thing we knew, we were signing adoption papers for you. We had your sisters a few years later.” Maggie’s father explained the whole story from the beginning, still looking down at the floor.

“They’re not even my real sisters anymore,” Maggie said, more to herself than to her parents.

“They’ll always be your sisters, and we’ll always be your family. I’ll always be your father, and your mother will always be your mother.” Maggie’s dad looked saddened by her comment, but Maggie didn’t care enough to notice the sorrow and pain in his voice.

Then, her mother spoke in a soft, fragile, and hurt voice. “Honey… we just want you to know that we’re still your parents, and we still love you. We’ll still be a family. This doesn’t change anything between us.”

“This changes everything between us!” Remembering her sisters upstairs who were trying to sleep, Maggie didn’t yell, but raised her voice slightly. She stomped upstairs, fuming that her parents didn’t tell her about this sooner, but she stopped midway up the stairs to say one more thing.

“In case you’re wondering, you don’t have to come and check on me. I want to be alone right now!”

Maggie pounced on her bed, more nervous and unsure of herself than usual. She realized that learning she was adopted made the scary idea that the people with whom she shared all her doubts and secrets with weren’t really her family. Were they? Or were they just people who picked her up from an orphanage eight years ago and acted like her family? They were people who had lied to her her whole entire life. But now she knew the truth.

“Oh, I know you’re upset but — ” Her mother started to say something, but Maggie cut her off.

“I’m not upset, and I don’t care! At all. Did you hear me? I. Don’t. Care,” Maggie screamed at the top of her lungs. She pushed away from the the wooden railing that she was holding onto and ran to her room, slamming the door.

“I’m not going to cry,” Maggie told herself over and over again. “I’m not going to cry, I’m not going to cry, I’m not going to cry.” Repeating those words to herself, Maggie clutched her golden heart necklace that hung around her neck, got down on her knees, and cried her heart out.

Maggie could faintly hear her younger sisters waking up and questioning the reason for her outburst, but she couldn’t care less about them right now. She listened as the sound of her dad’s footsteps continued up the stairs and to her sisters’ rooms. She listened as her mother’s footsteps, which were more soft and humble than her father’s, climbed upstairs and into her room.

Maggie knew that her mom would say something or try and comfort her, but she knew that nothing could comfort her — she needed to sort this out herself. So, with her mother standing in the doorway, with the moon in its peak high in the sky, and with the stars taking their place in the night that would now fall, Maggie got into her bed and cried herself to sleep.


That night, Maggie dreamt about a world that was perfect; the clouds were made out of pink, fluffy cotton candy, the houses were made out of gingerbread cookies, and the grass was made up of every single candy in the world dyed green. There was no war and no sicknesses, and best of all, nobody was lied to, like she had been. But as she woke up, with the bright sun shining in her face, she knew that the real world could never be that perfect.

Maggie woke up, got dressed, and ate a piece of toast. Her mom greeted her with a friendly hug and a warm “Good morning,” but Maggie didn’t return her mother’s kindness. Instead, she did nothing, she said nothing, and she went out the door without a single word.     

She raced down the front steps of her big blue house and ran across the freshly cut green lawn, wishing that she could pick up a candy from the grass, like she could in the perfect world she had in her dreams. As Maggie jogged to the stop sign where she met her best friends everyday before going to school with them, she stole a quick glance back at her house. Maggie saw her mother in the window staring at her with a hurt look in her eyes. Maggie continued watching her three sisters get ready for school, and she saw her mother helping her youngest sister, Cassie, put her Sofia the First princess backpack on.

Then Maggie turned around and walked the rest of the way to the stop sign. She didn’t tell her friends about what happened the night before, and Callie, Molly, and Sophie, being true BFFs, didn’t question her silence.

At school, Maggie listened to her teacher, Mrs. Amos, drone on and on about math, and then science, and finally social studies right before the bell rang, indicating the start of recess.


During recess, Callie, Molly and Sophie decided to make a move. They had noticed that something wasn’t quite right with Maggie, and they knew that she needed to tell them what was wrong. Normally, she was a chatterbox, talking up a storm, but today, Maggie was way more quiet than usual. Her bright, brown eyes that usually shone with confidence, were dull and dreary instead.

So, her friends asked her what happened to cause her silence, and reluctantly, Maggie told them. Maggie continued on and on, pouring her emotions out to her friends, and her friends kept quiet, absorbing the feelings that she was dumping out. They knew that behind an angry Maggie was another part of her — a part that they seldom saw. They saw a heartbroken Maggie, and at the end, she got pulled into a big group hug by her friends. Then, Molly said something that not only surprised Callie and Sophie, but also Maggie.

“You can’t blame them, you know,” Molly started to say, ending the hug. As Maggie looked at her friend with a questioning look, Molly elaborated.

“I mean your adoptive parents. I mean, I know that you’re not that happy, but you should know that your adoptive family actually helped you. They took you inside their house. They are nice to you. They love you. They treat you like family, even if they aren’t your real family. In a way, you’re lucky to have such caring parents. I know learning that you’re… adopted can be a pretty big shock, but this doesn’t mean your family isn’t your family. They adopted you because they love you — a lot.” Molly finished, looking Maggie straight in the eye.

Maggie looked at her friend in wonder. The thing that surprised her the most was that Molly was right. Suddenly, Maggie realized that there were two separate emotions you feel when you get adopted. One is anger, the way you can feel at your real, biological parents. But the other is love, the way that you could — should — feel about your adoptive parents. Then, Maggie realized something that she hadn’t realized before. She realized that she was just using anger as a mask — she was hiding behind her anger. And she was taking all that anger out on her adoptive parents, when she knew that she really felt this way towards her birth parents. She also realized that what she really wanted was to find out what happened to her birth parents and why they left her at the orphanage.

She gave Molly a hug, and Molly seemed surprised to be receiving one.

“You look surprised,” Maggie said, laughing, for the first time in a pretty long time.

“I just thought you would be more angry at me than thankful to me for saying that.” Molly returned the hug, but she still looked nervous, like Maggie was going to unleash her anger at any moment, but this time on her.

“Actually, I’m really happy you said that. It made me realize that being adopted isn’t such a bad thing after all.” Maggie pulled away from the hug, as Sophie and Callie smiled.

“Well then, what are we doing here? Let’s go play tag with the boys!” Sophie started running away onto the green field of the school lawn, and one by one, Maggie’s friends followed her. As Maggie started to run after her friends, she thought about how she only had one problem left to solve — the problem with her family.


When Maggie reached the brick steps in front of her house, she slowly climbed them, one at a time. She walked through the front door and straight up to her room, making one tiny, little stop in between. Her mom was in the kitchen, and she looked surprised about the fact that Maggie smiled at her.

“Hi! I’m back from school!” Maggie seemed like she had had a major attitude adjustment since yesterday. Her mom smiled back at her, and Maggie continued up the stairs.

Even though Maggie still needed to apologize to her parents, she thought she should wait until her dad came home, and until then, she had something she needed to do. She needed to sort out her emotions–right now, they were like a swirling, twisted, tornado inside of her, and she needed to untwist the twister. And Maggie knew exactly how to do that. She needed to realize what she did wrong and fix it.

Maggie plopped down on her purple beanbag chair and started to think. She realized that after she learned that she adopted, she had let anger blind her. She was so mad at her parents for not telling her sooner, she hadn’t been super nice to them. She had been like a little devil, only thinking about herself, completely oblivious to the world around her. Rather than thinking about her family and how hard it must be on them to tell her, she took her anger out on them. She knew that they were just trying to protect her.

As she thought about some things, she realized that there were a lot of things that she had to do, a lot of things that she had to fix, and a lot of mistakes that she made, but there was one thing that she didn’t have to do. She didn’t have to rehearse her apology to her parents because, well, they were her parents, and even if she didn’t do the best with her apology, she knew that they would love her no matter what. She knew that learning that she was adopted made things seem black and white, two colors that everyone could see. But in the middle was gray, and you have to find the gray yourself–with a little help from your friends and family. Molly and her parents had helped her see the gray.  

A tiny hand placed on her lap jolted Maggie back to reality. It was Cassie- her youngest sister. Maggie smiled down at Cassie, picked her up, and sat her down on her lap.

“Can you play outside with me and Maya and Sally? We know that you were upset yesterday, so we want you to come and play with us. To make you happier.” Little Cassie looked up at Maggie, her big, blue eyes shining with hope.

“I can play outside with you,” Maggie responded. Cassie leaped off of her lap and ran across the hall to the bedroom she shared with Maya and Sally.

Maggie smiled as she heard Cassie’s voice, full of excitement, as she told her sisters the good news. Then, Sally and Maya came into her room and started to drag her out of her room and outside. As Maggie put on her purple flip-flops, she caught a glimpse of her mom, smiling at her. Maggie’s dark, curly hair bounced up and down as she ran around in circles with Maya, Sally, and Cassie.

They actually are my sisters, Maggie thought as they began to play hide-and-seek together. She was hiding behind a big evergreen tree as she realized this. And I guess that my parents really are my parents.

“FOUND YOU!” Maggie jumped and screamed as she turned and saw who scared her. Three little girls were on the ground, laughing their heads off, screaming with excitement.

“Oh, I’m going to get you!” Maggie started running after her sisters, feeling joy and love, emotions that she hadn’t felt in a while.

As Cassie, Maya, and Sally screamed, yelled, and laughed as Maggie chased them, Maggie’s mom watched from the window with a smile on her face.


After a few hours, Maggie’s dad finally came home. Maggie greeted him with a smile and went up to her room to work up the courage to say sorry to her parents. When she finally gathered enough bravery to talk and apologize for being the horrible monster she had become, Maggie slowly proceeded down the stairs.

Maya, Sally, and Cassie were already asleep in their room, and as she went down the stairs, Maggie thought how lucky she was to have such great sisters. When her foot landed on the bottom step, both of her parents looked up at her, probably expecting some kind of outburst, but Maggie surprised them both. Her eyes dropped to the floor, she took a deep breath, and she began her apology.

“I wanted to say that I’m sorry for being such a horrible daughter for the past day, because even though I know that I’m adopted, I know now that it doesn’t change anything between us because family is forever.” Maggie finished and realized that she hadn’t said such a good apology. Maybe she should’ve practiced her apology.

“We never blamed you — ” Maggie’s father started to say, but then her mother interrupted.

“And you were never a horrible daughter. You were just upset, and we understand. We just want you to know that we love you to the moon and back,” she finished.

Maggie took her eyes off of the floor and looked up at her parents. They came over to her and wrapped her in a hug.That was all they needed to say, and Maggie knew, for sure, that her apology was the best apology ever. But there was one thing she was still very curious about. She untangled herself from her parents’ arms, looked up at them, and asked the one question she was still very curious about.

“Can I meet my biological parents or my biological family?” She held her breath in anticipation and counted the seconds that passed by as her parents looked at each other.    

“Oh, honey, if you really want to, I suppose we could arrange something with them, but it’s really up to you.” Maggie’s mother felt happy that her daughter had used the word “biological” instead of “real.”

Maggie thought about what her mother had just said, and something clicked. In all the confusion of emotions and decisions, she hadn’t really thought about meeting her birth parents. All she really knew was that she wanted to meet them. But now, thinking about what had happened, she realized something.

“You know, I guess some doors are better off unopened.” Maggie had made her decision. She didn’t need to meet her biological family because she had the best family right here.

That night, as she slept in her cozy bedroom, tightly wrapped in her purple and white blanket, her head resting on her purple pillow, she had the same dream of a perfect world.

When she woke up the next day, Maggie put her hand in front of her face, shielding her eyes from the bright sun. Maggie knew that the world could always be as perfect as her dreams. She had found the gray.


The Middle

Welcome to the life of being in the middle.

I never have one perfect day. Everyone gets in the way of my perfect day. It’s always someone that ruins it. Every day, I think, Today’s the day, but every day, it fails. My mom has five children. I’m the middle child.


“Get up, you sleepypants!” Jack screamed.

I woke up in my bedroom with bags under my eyes. I looked out the window. It was still night.

“Help me turn on the computer,” Jack said slowly. That’s my older brother. He mostly texts his friends and does other pre-teen stuff.

I groaned and then walked to the office. I looked at the computer and showed him how to work it. “You just click the power button,” I muttered.

“Oh,” Jack said embarrassed.

Then, I walked out of the office. Down the hall, I saw the family picture that was taken very long ago. I arrived back in my bedroom. Then, I slammed my face onto the pillow.

When I woke up, it was still dark, and everyone was asleep. Everyone had his or her own room. I sneaked past all six bedrooms and into the kitchen. I quickly poured a bowl of cereal. I had a perfect bowl of cereal and a nice, peaceful breakfast.

Click! Clank! I saw my younger brother, Andrew, walk downstairs.

“I can’t sleep,” he whispered.

“Why not?” I asked.

“I had a nightmare,” Andrew whimpered.

“Don’t worry, it’s just a dream. It can’t really hurt you,” I said.

“I guess so,” he said with a worried tone. Then, Andrew went back upstairs.


When it reached dawn, everyone was awake. Dad had to take me, Andrew, and Chloe to school. Mom had to take Jack and Mia.

Mornings are chaos. Never in my life have I had a good morning. I wish that the day would come that I could have a perfect day, even if my siblings try to stop me.

In the car, I was talking to Chloe about her first day of kindergarten.

“Kindergarten sounds really scary,” she said, very frightened.

“Chloe, I’m sure you’ll have a blast!” I yelled.

“Really?” she asked.

“Really,” I responded.

Dad dropped her off, and it was just me and Andrew.

It was Andrew’s first day of second grade. Andrew wasn’t scared. He was really happy.

“Y’know, it’s a good thing that you’re excited,” I told Andrew.

Andrew gave me a smile.

When Andrew was dropped off, it was time for me to go to my first day of fourth grade.

But just imagine how scared Jack would be. It was his first day of middle school. And next year, Mia would be going to high school. That must be really, really scary.

Dad dropped me off, and I was scared to death.

I walked into Room 220, and I took a deep breath.

“Good morning, Gabe. May you please take your seat?” the teacher announced.

My seat was towards the back of the room. I walked all the way to the back. I couldn’t see the teacher from where I was sitting. Everything was a blur. I knew already that fourth grade wasn’t going to be my best year.

When school was over, I entered the car and was silent the whole ride home. Try number one for the perfect day was a failure.

When I got home, I wanted to go to bed early. And that’s what I did.

I was on my bed, thinking about whether I would ever get one perfect day. Everyone had a great first day of school except me. It is never fair.

“Gabe, are you okay?” my mom asked.

“I’m fine. I just had a rough day,” I said in a shy kind of voice.

My mom shut the door. I hoped to have a better day tomorrow.


  In the morning, I was the last one to wake up. I quickly put on my clothes, got my backpack, and ran into the car. When I got to school, I took my seat. This time, it was a

little easier to see the teacher, and we got to do this cool science experiment.

At recess, I met a kid named Lucas.

“Hi,” Lucas said.

  “Hello?” I whispered, “What’s your name?”

“Lucas,” he replied. “What’s yours?”

“Gabe,” I stammered.

“Goodbye!” Lucas said.

I just met a new friend on the second day of school! Today might finally be the perfect day!

“Back out of the way, kid!” a bully yelled in the hallway. He pushed me to the floor and laughed.

“Ow!” I yelled.

I was left on the floor in the hallway alone. And no one cared.

“Help!” I screamed. No one could hear me.

I had heard of this bully. His name was Tom. I got up and cleaned myself up. I hoped I’d never run into him again. Try number two was a failure. I knew it wasn’t true, that I wasn’t really going to have a perfect day. That day would never come.

Later, our family celebrated our dad’s birthday. We had to get all dressed up since it was a fancy restaurant, and everything they served there was fancy. The name of the restaurant was Astoria. My dad loves Astoria because their food is amazing.

I ordered chicken fingers to eat. I love chicken fingers!

“Cheers to dad,” Jack announced.

“Cheers to dad!” everyone yelled.

Everyone toasted high up in the air. It was an amazing night! It was very, very close to being perfect, but not perfect. Try number three had to be perfect, it had to.


I woke up in the morning feeling cranky. I yawned, and then I walked to the porch. I sat on the patio couch, looking at the beautiful sight of my backyard. It was right next to the woods. I had never ever been out there before. There was a river all the way back there, but its water was now polluted, and it was filled with garbage. Just looking down there made me want to go into the woods, but I had heard there were bears back there.

There was no school because it was Saturday. I was the only one up. I continued to look around my backyard. Then, I walked down the stairs and into my backyard. I looked around for a second.

“What are you doing out here?” Mia asked.

“Nothing!” I yelled.

“Are you trying to go out in the woods?!” she screamed.

“No, of course not!” I replied.

Mia gave an “I’m watching you” kind of look. She walked inside and slammed the door behind her.

I sat down and thought about the perfect day. Lucas was coming over that night for a sleepover, and I just hoped everyone didn’t embarrass me. I sat around, waiting for almost three hours. I stood on my head and got a head rush. Finally, when it struck 5:00, he arrived.

“Hey, Lucas,” I sputtered.

“Hey, Gabe,” Lucas replied.

“C’mon outside now!” I yelled.

Lucas followed me outside into the backyard. I walked into the woods.

“Are we supposed to go back there?” Lucas asked.

“It’s fine.” I lied.

We stepped foot into the dangerous woods. I was in a lot of trouble. The woods were very dark. I felt like someone was out to get me. I had goosebumps down my skin.

“Maybe we should go back,” Lucas suggested.

“No,” I said. I was as scared as Lucas, but I was very curious. I kept on walking forward.

“I’m going back,” Lucas sputtered. He went all the way back to the yard.

I stopped. I decided to go back. I turned around and went the other way.

When I came back from the woods, Lucas was gone.

“Lucas!” I yelled. I went inside and saw Lucas. But he was hanging out with Jack.

“Jack, get away from Lucas,” I sputtered.

“No way!” Jack yelled.

“Lucas is my friend,” I scoffed.

Then, Chloe and Andrew came downstairs.

“Oh, why is everyone down here?” I screamed.

Then, Mia came down.

“That’s it!” I yelled. I stomped to the office and slammed the door.

Lucas slowly opened the door.

“Hello?” Lucas echoed.

The lights were turned off. Lucas turned on the lights. I was curled up in a little ball.

“Gabe, I’m still your best friend,” he sputtered.

I didn’t answer.

“Gabe, c’mon let’s play,” Lucas continued.

Then, my head popped out. “You promise you won’t ditch me?” I whispered.

“I promise,” Lucas answered.

When it was 11:00, we started to go to sleep.

“Good night,” I said.

“Good night,” Lucas responded.

By midnight, we were asleep.


I stretched and groaned. Lucas woke up a few minutes after I did.

“I had a great sleep!” I yelled.

Lucas stretched his back. “I agree,” he said.

“Breakfast!” Mom yelled.

Chloe and Andrew were the first ones down, then Jack and Mia, and then me and Lucas. Mom made pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon, and sausages. As we were eating breakfast, Lucas and I talked about our next sleepover.

After breakfast, Lucas’s mom came to pick him up.

“Bye!” I yelled. Lucas waved while he was in the car.

“That was fun,” I said. “Tomorrow, I have to start try number three for the perfect day. Yesterday and today don’t count.”

“Well, good luck,” Andrew whispered.

In my room I made a plan for try number three. If I didn’t follow the plan, I was going to fail again. I couldn’t fail. Try number three had to be perfect.


When I got to the classroom, nothing bad happened. So far, so good.

Until Tom came back. “Hey, chump!” Tom yelled.

I tried to ignore him.

“You trying to have a perfect day?” he laughed.

“Yes,” I muttered.

Tom dropped me to the floor. He also stepped on my foot.

“Ow!” I screamed.

“Oops. Sorry, does that hurt?” Tom said sarcastically.

“Yes, it kind of does,” I said.

“Oh, I’m very sorry,” he laughed.

All of the sudden, Lucas came out.

“Back off,” Lucas sputtered.

“I’m not scared of you,” Tom answered.

I was shocked. I didn’t know Lucas was tough.

Lucas grabbed my hand and took me away from Tom.

“You will pay for that, Lucas. You will pay!” Tom yelled.

“You saved me,” I stammered.

“I couldn’t let you get beat up by Tom,” Lucas sputtered.

“Thank you,” I responded.

“No problem,” Lucas said. Then, he was gone.

When I got home, everyone was having pizza and watching a movie.

“Can I have some pizza?” I asked.

“Sorry, but there is nothing left,” Jack sputtered.

“Fine,” I said.

I walked onto the porch. This day was definitely horrible. First, I got attacked by Tom, and now, my family had forgotten about me.

Why does the world hate me so much?! All I’m asking for is one perfect day. Well, I’m done with this. Looking at the damp sky made me wonder, why me?

“Gabe?” a voice said.

It was my dad. “Look, I’m sorry we watched a movie and had pizza without you,” he sputtered.

“It’s not about that, Dad. It’s because I never had a perfect day.” I cried.

“Wait, it’s about that?” Dad asked.

“Yeah,” I stammered.

“None of us ever had a perfect day,” Dad said.

“What?!” I yelled.

“It’s true. With a family of seven, it’s impossible to have a perfect day,” Dad laughed.

“Really? Then, what about the time…uh,” I said cluelessly.

“See? There are no memories of a perfect day,” Dad sputtered.

“Huh. I guess there isn’t?” I laughed.

Then, Dad and I started laughing hysterically.

“What’s so funny?” Mom asked.

“Gabe thinks that everyone has had a perfect day except for him,” Dad laughed.

“Really?” she asked.

“Really,” I said.

Then, everyone was laughing.

All this time, I thought I was the only one who had horrible days. But my whole family never had a perfect day. Who cared about having a perfect day? I had my family. When we got in, we continued watching the movie as a family.

And I went to sleep knowing that there is no such thing as a perfect day.

Trent Pearson: The Lightning Man

“Wake up!” my ten-year-old brother, Sean, squawked as he banged two pans together manically.

You see, my brother can be pretty freakishly annoying. Like when he wakes me up at five o’clock in the morning. My name is Trent Pearson, and I am twelve years old. I want to scream my head off and jump off a building for living in the same room as my brother. Everyday he does the same thing: drive me crazy. Every time he has a nightmare, he gets up off his bed screaming and crying and then he crawls onto my stomach, creaming me.

Well, he’s not too bad – at least he keeps me company when we both get in the school’s idiotic detention.

I looked out the window; it was a very cold day, and a lot darker than usual. But I just assumed it was normal for a New York day. Then I remembered something: the first day of school was today! I sighed and almost walked out the door.

Until a fat bloated man stood in front of me.

“Guys, are you kidding me?” yelled my dad, who was still in his boxers with, thankfully, a shirt on. “Waking me up at four o’clock! You know I need to at least sleep until two o’clock in the afterno-”

He tumbled to the floor, snoring

That was another reason I hate my life. My dad literally hollered at me every day. In fact, he screamed at me so much I’m actually kind of used to it. My mom then came in the room with her hair all messed up and all over her face.

She mumbled, “Go play something for 2 hours, and then get ready for school. When you two get home from school, I’ll make you your favorite cupcakes.”

She fell onto Sean’s bed. My mom had always been my favorite. She was the nicest mom anyone could have. I never realized, but Sean had been silent the whole time – he must’ve been scared of dad. He was hugging (more like squeezing) one of my pillows so tightly that I actually felt bad for it.


Two hours passed by and I have done absolutely nothing. I had actually felt relaxed until my brother came screaming out of our room.

“HAVE YOU FORGOTTEN ABOUT SCHOOL!” my brother complained. I was surprised that my brother had actually cared about school today since we had been sent to detention about every day last year.

When we got to school, the teachers gave us morning detention for three hours for being late. I didn’t really care but my brother was scared to death. When we got to the detention room, there was a man who looked like a hobo sitting at a table. He was wearing shaggy tan pants, and a torn blue shirt. Why was he in a detention room? I sat down and looked at my brother.

“I’m gonna go to the bathroom, I’ve been holding it in for the whole day.”

And yet, he was stupid enough to not go during the whole day.

He rushed out the door and so did the hobo. Why did the hobo follow him? I didn’t care.

It had been 20 minutes, and my brother still did not come out of the bathroom.

What’s taking him so long? Is he stuck in the girl’s bathroom again? I thought.

I dashed out of the detention room, ran into a teacher eating a hamburger, took the hamburger, threw it into the detention room, and went into the boy’s bathroom eagerly.

He was gone, and so was the hobo.

The window was open, which meant the hobo had escaped with my brother.

“Wait, why did they add windows in the bathroom?” I asked, shocked.

I panicked and dashed out the door; the hobo was getting away fast, carrying my brother.

“Help! This guy’s armpit smells like when my dad farts, which means it’s really stinky!” Sean bellowed as he kept waving away the armpit stink.

I kept chasing the hobo until something happened that didn’t happen very often. The man lifted his hand up for no reason, and the whole world turned dark. The hobo and Sean disappeared.  I knelt to the ground, crying that I lost my brother. What did this man want, and why did he kidnap Sean? That’s when it happened. A piece of a roof landed next to me.

“Gah! What the?” I questioned and looked up.

There was a fifty-foot dark figure, literally made out of dark stuff, heading towards me.

I gasped and made the mistake of running. Did the hobo send this? The dark figure put his arm out, and a piece of concrete formed in his hands. He threw it and it hit my mom’s apartment.

“Mom! No! Dad! I don’t care about him.” Tears came out of my eyes. Suddenly, I felt anger.

Then the monster put its other arm out. I was floating towards it. No matter what I tried, I kept coming closer and closer to it. It looked like an ordinary man, except for the fact that he was made out of dark clouds and was the biggest thing ever. He opened his palms and grabbed me! Being high in the air had never scared me, but the smell of the monster did. It smelled like a billion skunks had farted directly in my face. I had never known that the monster was solid. Then, something no one could expect happened. A lightning bolt struck the dark evil cloud guy in the chest. The monster was going crazy with electricity emerging out of his body. I fell to the floor, wondering what had just occurred. Then I felt victory – the monster exploded into soft dark clouds in the sky.

“Take that, dark poopy guy,” I said, and I wish I hadn’t, because it reminded me of Sean. We used to prank teachers and feel victorious, just like right now, but a maniac just kidnapped my brother, and he will pay for the destruction of my family.


I wandered miserably to, well, nowhere. My mom’s apartment got mashed to smithereens, and I doubted my parents survived that piece of concrete…not that I cared about my dad. But I still had a question: what the heck happened back there and why did a lightning bolt strike the monster out of nowhere on a (kind of) sunny day? Now I was going to rot and die next to the trash can (my new home) like a hobo.

“Hey, you okay?” a voice appeared next to me.

I looked up and saw my old friend Max. He was standing with his jaw open, and with a man that I didn’t recognize. The mysterious new man was wearing an expensive tux with dark glasses that covered his eyes. Under there, I felt like there was darkness.

“What is the meaning of this?” the man barked. “I am the new principal, Mr. Momo, and  because you ran out of school for no reason, you will have a month’s worth of detention!”

I made a choice and I will never regret it.

I ran.

As I ran, I heard footsteps behind me,  I looked back and saw that Mr. Momo and Max were chasing after me. To lose them, I cut around the school corner and grabbed a trash can lid.

As soon as I grabbed the lid, I realized that it was a dead end. Mr. Momo had already caught up to me, but he was breathing like a demented person. Now was my chance.

“Hey, why ya holding a trash can lid?” he asked.

“Uhhh, I’m a trash guy,” I lied.

He charged at me, and there was only one thing to do.

I hit him directly on the head, and then he tumbled to the ground, lying very still. Fear flowed through me – I had just killed a man. Max came running down, gasping for air. When he saw Mr. Momo on the floor, and me holding a trash can lid, I was sure he was going to run. He was wearing a ducky shirt, like he always had, with words that read: Duckies Rock!!!

“Uhhhh, why is Mr. Momo sleeping on the floor,” he said with a stunned expression. He looked up from Mr. Momo, still looking at me still with shock.

“I can explai-”

Kaboom! Blocks of brick from the school flew right next to me and hit Mr. Momo on the head.

“Ughhh oww-”


“Ah! What, hey, you magical talking lollipops should be in my mouth, come here-” Mr. Momo yelled as he woke up. He wasn’t dead after all.

We were gone in a flash. We ran away and left Mr. Momo yelling like a confused baby. Max and I regretted going in the direction we ran because that was where the blast came from. A forty-foot robot hovered over us, and as we tried to run away screaming like little girls, the robot grabbed us both just like the dark poopy guy did to me. This might’ve been another thing the hobo sent after me!

Max had the good luck of not hanging upside down. Sadly, I was hanging uncomfortably.

“Hey, giant robot dude! Fight me like a man, or man robot, whatever you call a grownup robot,” Max shouted.

He shouldn’t have said that.

The robot let go of us and we were falling out of the sky. I had an urge to strangle him, but something told me that strangling a kid who was also falling out of the sky was useless. That’s it, I was going to die falling out of the sky.


Am I dead? I thought.

Everything was black, so I couldn’t see a thing. But something did make me freeze, the groaning of a kid.

Max was alive, and so was I.

He ignorantly struggled to get out of the pile of cement.

“How did we survive? he asked. “And where did that robot thingy majiggy go?”

He was right, that robot was going to regret dropping us like a toy, but where were we and how did we survive? I guess Max read my expression because we both sprinted outside curiously. The mysterious robot left a big trail of footprints to an odd building with all the lights on.

“There must be someone in there, let’s go!” I suggested.

As we approached the bizarre and huge looking building with flags and skulls at the top, guards with spears across their chest randomly appeared. Max’s response was a shriek. They stayed absolutely silent and paid no attention to us as if we weren’t there.

I wonder if they’ll stop me from getting in…. nah. I thought. When I moved just an inch towards the door, the first guard pointed his sword at me. I spoke too soon. My response to that was punching him in the face, kicking the other guard, and moving on. Max looked at me in complete shock.

“Are you going to knock out every person you meet?” he questioned.

When Max put his hand up to knock on the door, I just kicked the door open impolitely, no problem.

“All right, who sent a demented robot out to drop me out of the air a million feet from the ground?!” I said.

No one but one hairy man raised his hand. He was wearing a striped colored turtleneck and striped socks. This guy sure liked stripe stuff.

“That would be me, and no one calls Patty ‘demented!’” he finally answered. “The guards you knocked out there are in fact one of you, and, by the way, my name is Bob!”

We looked at him suspiciously. What did he mean by one of us? I took out the trash can lid I used to knock Mr. Momo out back at the school. Max had just ran outside like a coward to hide from this deadly (not) fight. The hairy man took out a curved stick with a string attached to it, a bow, and an arrow. When I flung my weapon at him, he pulled out a shiny weapon and cut the lid in complete half. When he took his turn, his first arrow nearly hit me in the skull and landed right between cowardly Max and me.

“Wow, you really think––”


Air ran through my hair, and explosions made my ears ring as I flew into the air. The arrow was explosive, and I probably died.


Five hours later, I was laying in a bed that was as hard as steel. Seriously, you could at least give me a comfy place before I die. The room was somber and mysterious, with pictures of people fighting things like the dark poopy guy! As I looked to my right, Max was lying unconscious on the bed with a scar on his head. Quickly, I got up and  slapped him in the face, no biggy.

“Owee!” he said.

“Get up!”

“Okay, jeez louise.”

We dashed silently out the door, when two arms, as fast as cheetahs, grabbed our shoulders. As I was struggling, I heard footsteps behind me. Could that be…

“Well, well, well, I see you guys woke up!” Bob said.

Duh, why do you think we’re standing? I thought.

“Do you know why you’re here?” he asked. “That robot brought you here to be safe, not to be killed. That hobo, well, he’s Mr. Momo. He kidnapped Sean to destroy humanity. This place is called Base Flash. Oh yeah, you are a mon-fighter, a warrior who kills monsters.”

“Wait, how do you know about Sean?” I asked cautiously. “I don’t believe that the hobo is Mr. Momo.”

“I want you to go get Sean and save the – wait, what is it called again? – oh yeah, the world!” he said as he ignored my question.

He took something from behind him. It was a red dagger. I thought he was going to kill us with it since we had tried to run out of the room. Man, he must have been really mad. That doltish man, he lied to us!

“Here, this dagger is from me and your father; he just made it,” he offered.

I was mistaken that he was stupid, but how did my dad just make this? He’s supposed to be dead, unless…

Quick footsteps interrupted me, and I was very surprised to see my dad running down the hall. He was skinnier! He was wearing overalls, with mysterious stains, marked, “Jack Pearson.”

“I’m guessing you’re wondering why I’m not fat…well, that was a disguise so the other side couldn’t kidnap me,” he said. “And that lightning bolt, well, you did that, and that dark stuff the hobo did – that was his potential. I saw through the window.”

“What happened to MOM!” I yelled.

“I tried to warn Mom, but she just slapped me as if I was lying, and she kept slapping me until I was outside. Then, she locked me outside. The apartment blew up as I sat on a bench and thought about my life.”

“Why are you here?” I asked.

“I work as a blacksmith here, so I make weapons.”

He told me that I had used my true potential, which was lightning. My response was a wide open mouth. Max fainted.

“Yeah, all that is great, but Trent and I need to go to save Sean!” Max demanded as he got up.

Bob took out what looked like a stained old paper and showed it to us. A bunch of squiggly lines roamed the page. I realized it was a map.

“Walk down the Trail of Darkness, and you will find your brother,” he said.


As we walked down the road, uncanny things stalked us behind tree leaves and branches. I got a feeling we were definitely on the Trail of Darkness. The eyes made me shiver and made my hand tremble. The ground was very moist, and crows kept flying around us, almost like they were tracking me.

“We’ve been expecting you,” a very familiar-looking kid said as he alighted from a tree.

“Sean!” Max yelled, astounded.

As I turned my head to see my brother, a loud blast emerged right next to me.

Oh, shoot! Max!

White smoke emitted from the middle of Max’s shirt. His chest was caked with black stuff I didn’t recognize.

“S-Sean! Why did you do that!” I said.

He just smirked evilly. Had he joined the hobo?

“Ha! I’ve turned your dopey brother against you,” said the hobo, as he came into view.

“Hey! You’re the hobo!”

“You may call me Mr. Momo.”

I had a very confused expression on my face. If he was the hobo who kidnapped Sean, who was the lunatic who pretended to be the new principal?

“Oh! That principal was a robot. We had the old principal kidnapped and sent to the Himalayas for vacation. The robot was meant to kidnap you too,” he said annoyingly as if he read my thoughts. “Now, Sean, your brother has annoyed me – kill him, please.”

His face darkened, so I was pretty sure that he wasn’t kidding about that. I knew I would have to fight my brother unless I could persuade him not to listen to Mr. Momo. So I took out the only  thing I had for defense, my red dagger. He snickered, and before I knew it, he had a pure white sword in his hands. I was doomed for sure.

“Time to end this,” he thundered.


He made the first move. I should’ve done some training before I came here because as I tried to block his attack, I missed and the blade of Sean’s sword sliced through my skin. After it slashed, it emitted fire from the tip and sent me forty feet behind. It felt like I had fallen from the Empire State Building, and that’s saying a lot.

“Come on, attack me, even though you suck at combat,” he commented.

I couldn’t attack my brother. He could get hurt, and plus, like he said, I suck at combat. I just needed to convince him, but I’d probably die in the process.

“Dude, why did you join his side? He’s evil, cruel, and selfish. He’ll probably eliminate you after he takes over the world. I think you’re under a spell. He killed mom…think of the happy days we spent together, and when we pranked the lunch aid!” I screeched.

That got him thinking, I slowly marched towards Sean, and the last thing I saw before I blacked out was my brother floating in the air with fire circling him.

That was his true potential.


Maybe I’m dead now, finally, some peace, I thought.

Or maybe not. The air smelled of dirt, and my vision blurred. I saw a figure with its hand out.

Dang it, Sean is going to kill me.

Not this time.

I kicked him hard in the chest, and I hit his sword hard with my dagger. The weapon clattered to the floor, leaving Sean rolling across the pavement.

“Hey, I’m on your side now!” he protested.

Part of me didn’t trust him, but I might as well have agreed because Mr. Momo was going to kill both of us anyway. When I looked over his shoulder, Max was (stupidly) sneaking up to Mr. Momo for the kill, but the insane kid got intercepted by a kick in the stomach by the ex-principal. “Stop trying to be the hero!” My brother and I looked at each other. We both had the same thought about what to do.

“Hey, Principal, what time is it?” Sean asked.

“Uhh, it about-”

“It’s kabob time!”

Our two powers collided, and we threw the massive ball of lightning and fire at the hobo. A yellow dome emerged, but after, nothing was left but a hole in the ground. We had finally killed Mr. Momo.

“Listen, Trent, I’m sorry for knocking you out, even though it was funny and I kind of liked it,” my brother apologized. “But is there a way to get Mom back?”

He was right; there had to be a way to get Mom! But I doubted anyone knew how. We picked up poor Max and headed back to the building. On the way, I ran into a pole, but my two friends picked me up.

When we walked in the house, I was sure my dad was going to kill Sean. But as we entered the blacksmith’s area, he was still wearing his overalls and was hammering an ax. I never knew I would see my dad be hardworking.

“Oh. My. God! I’m so glad you’re safe. I’m sorry for being mean…you know I’m grumpy when I’m tired. But Sean, you didn’t do anything stupid, right? Even if you did, I forgive you. Come here, you guys,” my father said as he put his arms out to hug us.

I guess he really did change. We went to the game room and played on the Pac-Man machine.

For once, I felt happy to be with Sean and my dad, but what about Mom?

The End!

Be sure to read Part II in the adventure with Trent, Sean, Max, Bob, and Mr. Pearson.

The Turning Point

It was one of those days when Cameron woke up and was all alone. A few days ago, there was a person coming to babysit Cameron’s little sister and when Cameron came back home, she was gone.

The first few days, Cameron’s family had no idea who took her, but the day after, they saw a video of their babysitter putting a fist at his five-year-old sister.

Today Cameron was going to get her back. He still had no idea where she was, but he had a clue. In the video, he saw she was in a little cottage deep inside the woods. So that’s where he was headed.

After he finished gathering the stuff he needed, he set out into the woods. When he got into the woods, he couldn’t see any cottages in plain view, but he knew it was further into the woods.

* * *

“Please don’t hurt me,” Cameron’s younger sister, Emma, pleaded to her babysitter.

“I will, you moron,” the babysitter said with a malicious grin.


They heard a noise outside. After that, the babysitter took out his machete and headed for the door.

Two minutes later the babysitter hadn’t come back, but her brother did. “Cameron! You came to save me,” Emma whispered.

“Or try,” the babysitter said as he entered the room.

The babysitter took out two little daggers.

“I will kill you!” Cameron yelled at the babysitter.

“But you won’t.”

Then Cameron took out two katanas. Then they started to duel.

Cameron then lunged at the babysitter and tried to get a good shot at the arm. But the babysitter used the daggers and pushed both katanas to the side and badly hurt Cameron’s arms, which led to death.

“NOOO!” Emma yelled at the top of her lungs. Then the babysitter took both daggers and chopped off the ropes. “I’ll let you live, on one condition. You kill your dad.”

Emma nodded glumly. She stared at the babysitter and asked, “Why do you want me to do that?”

“I want you to hurt and/or kill your parents.”

“But why do you want to do that.”

“Let me tell you a story. When I was in high school, I had a huge crush on your mom, but your mom married some other kid. So I’m getting revenge for her marrying the kid which was Joe right, yeah. So you are going to get your dad to divorce your mom.”

“Why would you want to do such horrible things. And I wouldn’t do such a thing.”

“Because I just do. Now go do what I said.”

Emma didn’t have a choice and walked right out of the cabin. But instead of doing what the babysitter said, whose name Emma found out was was Mike, she ran to her house and told her mom as fast as she could, but while Emma was talking, her mom was crying from joy.

“So that’s where you were all this time,” Emma’s mom said with more tears in her eyes. “But where’s Cameron?” Emma’s mom asked worriedly.

“Um, let’s just say he’s not alive,” Emma said hesitantly.

Emma’s mom picked up the phone with a face like she has seen a ghost and rapidly dialed 911. After she finished talking to the police she ran upstairs and started to cry hysterically for hours.

Emma then started to run to the cottage to find Mike and lie to him. She said, “I did it.” She entered and called for Mike but there was no answer.

* * *

After Mike heard the police sirens outside of his “secret” hideout, he ran out of his emergency door and ran to his parents’ house for the first time in his whole life. When he was right at the door, he hesitantly knocked.

The door opened and a middle-aged woman appeared. “Is that you, Mike?” the middle-aged woman asked.

“Yes, it’s me,” Mike replied childishly and sheepishly. Then then middle-aged woman grabbed Mike and pulled him inside her house. “Mike, you came back, but why?”

Mike knew the middle-aged woman was his mom, Margaret. At first, Mike had no clue who this woman was because he thought he could ask one of his neighbors where his family moved. But apparently they just moved to a different town two minutes away from the their old one. Now he found his parents and had a happy, sad, angry feeling inside him. His mom hugged him and let him stay for the night. But Mike didn’t feel like he deserved that, and a sliver of guilt ran down his back. Then his old childhood memories came flooding back

* * *

I was sitting in the living room watching TV (as usual) on a Saturday, and then out of the blue, my mom came in and said,” Pack up your things! We’re moving out of here.” That sentence turned my brain into mush. “No, NO! Dad, you can’t do that to me. We’ve lived in this town for 12 years and I have made a bunch of new friends and I won’t abandon them and go somewhere else,” I yelled with tears on the verge. “I’m sorry, but we can’t afford to live here anymore.”

“But I’m not going anywhere.”

“Excuse me, young man, you are my son and you do as I say.”

“Make me.”

“Mike, I won’t take any of this foolishness. Go and pack up.”

“I said I’m not going anywhere, you hear that?”


“No, I won’t leave.”

Then my dad took me by the ear and dragged me to my room. He yelled at me to start  packing. So I did, but when they were busy talking, I slipped out the door with my belongings and ran away from my home. When I got far enough, I chopped down some wood and  built a little cottage that I learned in Boy Scouts. After that, I went to get more wood and made a little fire in the house. Unfortunately, I had no furniture at all so I had to sit on the hard wooden floor. I decided to carve some furniture out of the spare wood. Now I have completed my mission. But 5 years later I saw a newspaper that said that the search for me was “over.” I was half happy and half sad. My parents don’t care about me now. Seriously they stopped caring for me? So I decided to get revenge later on in their life to pay back for canceling the search for me.

* * *

“So… can I stay for a while? Five days max.”

“Sure, anything for my son. But why?”

“Oh, because I haven’t seen you in 12 years.”


Mike felt very guilty because of how his mother was acting to him. Part of him was very happy because now he could finally get revenge. However, at this point, his guilt was taking control over his other feelings, so he couldn’t get revenge, not yet.

It was 10:00 o’clock already, so everyone was getting ready for bed. Mike already had the best dinner in his life and watched TV shows he wasn’t allowed to before. After what just happened, Mike couldn’t get any revenge again.


Mike was walking very slowly down the stairs of his parents house because he didn’t want to stay another night, otherwise all his secrets would spill out and his parents would hate him for life. When he got down to the stairs, he secretly installed a little camera in all the rooms that can go 360 degrees around so he could see his parents. He still didn’t want to abandon them, at least not yet.

* * *

Go to mom and dad and tell them about everything and then you throw yourself into a cell. No, just leave and forget about everything. Yes, because they have been too nice to me. Okay, if I just forget about this and go they’re going to think somethings up. And if I throw myself into jail by confessing the things to my mom, she would be unpredictable.

* * *

Not wanting to disappoint his mom by lying, he put his hand on the doorknob, but his mind was processing totally different. His mind was taking him back up to his mom and dad’s room and confessing. And that’s what he did. “Mom, Dad, wake up. I need to tell you something very important.”

His mom shot up first and then a few seconds later his dad shot up later very groggily. “What do you want to tell us?”

“You know how I used to be a babysitter?”

“Yeah, you were babysitting, ummm… a girl named Emma, right?”

“Yeah, I killed her brother.”

Mike’s dad fainted.


“I wasn’t in the right mind, Mom.”

Now her face was the color of a fresh tomato and her eyes were giving Mike an angry regretful expression, wishing she had a different son. And her hands were clenched into a strong hardy fist.

“No, excuses! I am ashamed to be your mom!”

“Mom, I’m really, really sorry. And I’ll show you by turning myself in.”

After that he ran downstairs, threw open the door and ran outside towards the police station.

When Mike got to the police station, he ran up to the counter and said, “I found the suspect to the murder of Cameron.”

“Yes, yes, who was it?”

“You might find this hard to believe…” I can’t believe that I’m doing this. But I shouldn’t do this. No, just do it  for mom. No, I would never do this. No, but I have to. “It was… me.”

The police’s face was very angry and shocked at the same time.

“Sir, you are going to go into one of those cells right now!!”

And after the police yelled that, another officer came running out of nowhere and threw handcuffs over his hands. He didn’t fight against it. He learned that paying his wrongdoings by throwing himself into jail was the least he could do. But he knew one thing, he would never be able to get his mom’s trust back. But he thought it was the right result to his actions.


Five Years Later


Now Mike and his parents, were at a facility in Trenton, New Jersey. Ready for Mike’s execution.

“Mike you know I always love you, but you must pay for your wrongdoings,” Mike’s mom said, holding back dramatic tears. “And I would always regret this, but the government has asked to do this.”

“Yes, I know and I always wanted to say that.”

After that, the police put the gun up to Mike’s face, but then Emma burst through the room and said, “Wait, he deserves to live because everyone needs another chance to change. He can’t die. Mike deserves to have another chance to have a new improved family and have a fresh start to a new improved life. And he’s already paid for five years.”

“Ma’am do you know who this man is?”

“Yes I do. He was my babysitter, so he’s not that evil.”

Mike and his mom were in shock. A little girl about ten years old just burst into the room and stopped an execution. Mike was in so much shock that you could blow a bull horn at his face and he wouldn’t notice at all.

“I’m sorry, but we already signed the papers.”

Then the other two police held him up by the arms. And then there was the sound of a gun fire.


Epilogue: Mom


At that time when my son was about to get executed I was so, so sad. I thought about the time when I yelled at him harshly and said those things I never should have said. And now I never got to apologize to him. I also had wished we had given him more love and appreciation. After he got executed, I cried so hard and my face was so hot you can cook an egg on it. My husband, he cried with me. That little girl, Emma, came to my house and told me the times where Mike babysat her. Those stories reminded me of him. But his debt to society was paid off.


The end

A Rough Current

“We’re going that way.”

My friend, Billy, sounded so sure of himself when he announced the route we would take across the river. Our kayak was bobbing in the current, and we were running out of time to decide which way to take. “But that direction is the one with the stronger rapids,” I told Billy impatiently. “We’re just beginners. Do you really think you can go that way?”

Billy snickered and leaned into my face. “You scared?” he taunted.

I shook my head. “Come on, Billy, let’s just go that way, okay?” I begged.

“Okay, scaredy,” Billy sneered. “We’ll go the baby path.”

I felt both offended, but relieved. I never really expected for this trip to turn out well, but I didn’t think that I would have to go through such a rough current, either. None of the trips that my mom planned really worked out well. I was not exactly eager when she told me about her idea for me to go kayaking with Billy, especially after seeing him act slightly strange for a few days.

“Why don’t you go kayaking with Billy?” she had asked me. “He hasn’t hung out with you for a while. It’ll help your relationship.”

We kayaked over to the right just as we reached the area where the river split into two. The left path had a very rapid current, and the other way was way more appropriate for beginner kayakers. At least, I thought so. We paddled silently for a while. Then, the rapids started to get rougher. We bumped up and down quickly along the river.

“Um, Billy?” I asked nervously. “Uh, why is this so… rough?”

Billy did not respond. The farther we went, the stronger the rapids grew. Soon, when I felt like I was about to fall right out of the kayak, I saw a very frightening sight right ahead of my eyes.

It was a waterfall.

I panicked, and I started kayaking away from it.

“Billy! It’s a waterfall!” I shrieked to him. He glared at me without a word. We were both wearing life jackets, but the water was freezing cold. Billy, however, had an idea. He began steering towards a log floating in the river. Once we were close enough, he pushed me off the boat and onto the log. He climbed on after me, and grabbed the boat out of the water. We walked across the log and onto land, Billy still carrying the boat. He had just saved our lives.  

I had to thank him. “Billy?” I began. He turned to me and glared. A lump formed in my throat. “Um, never mind,” I told him nervously. I decided not to thank him. If he was going to treat me that way, he did not deserve to be thanked.

We walked back in silence. Billy had been my friend since I was 4 years old. Now, were we just going to break that friendship because of an accident? Of course not! He’s still my friend! I thought. But as we walked in silence, I didn’t feel so sure.

Soon, we reached the area where our parents were waiting for our return.

“Back already?” my mom asked when she saw us.

I nodded.

“What happened?” she urged. I shook my head. I was not in the mood to explain, and she didn’t make me, either. “I want to go home,” I told her. She didn’t object so I waved good-bye to Billy, and I headed home.

The entire car ride home was silent, but once we got home, my mom asked the question.

“Bob,” she asked me. “What happened at the river? You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to, but I would appreciate it if you did.”

I sighed as I shook my head. Somehow, I found myself spilling the whole story to my mother. She deserves the truth, I thought. But that was my biggest mistake. I guess I should have told her that this story was personal, because in less than 3 minutes, the story of my relationship with Billy was posted all over Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

The next morning was Monday, which meant going to school–with Billy. I hoped that Billy didn’t have an Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook account. That would be a nightmare, I thought. But it was nothing compared to what actually happened.

At lunchtime, Billy, who had always sat at the “losers’” table with me, didn’t make it over without a bunch of popular kids crowding in his face.

“Yo, Billy!” one of the kids called out. “You going around kayaking waterfalls?”

Billy looked shocked. “What are you talking about?” he asked.

The kid stared. “My friend told me everything that happened in the river. He told me that you kayaked down a waterfall! At least, that’s what I heard. He told me that his friend’s father saw something about that on Instagram,” he explained.

The other kids nodded. “Well, hey, that’s cool! Wanna join us here?” another kid asked.

I was so shocked. I had no idea about all these rumors going on about the river incident.  

“Billy, no! Don’t go with them! You’re my friend…. right?” I pleaded. But Billy didn’t hear me. He smiled, nodded, and sat down at the popular kids’ table, deserting me.

I couldn’t believe what I just saw. Billy… a popular kid?! I thought. No way! He’ll be a friend of mine again in no time. But still, I was desperate to prove to myself that Billy was still my friend. It was hard to believe, though, seeing Billy hang around and talking with the popular kids, as if they were old friends. I felt left out and alone.

By the time school ended, I had a plan. If the plan succeeded, then Billy was truly my friend. However, if the plan failed, Billy was so totally over me.

On the bus, I sat at the seat reserved for the popular kids. I knew that when they came over and found out that I had taken one of the reserved seats, they would be angry. Then, what happened next would decide if Billy was still my friend.

I had to wait a while for the kids to come. When they finally arrived, I could see that Billy was among them. “Get out of my seat, loser,” one of the popular kids sneered. I looked over at Billy, waiting to see his reaction. He remained emotionless, just standing there.

“I said, GET OUT!” the kid shouted once again. I held my breath, waiting.

“Whatever, let him stay,” I heard Billy say. Relief flowed through me. He was my friend! “We can choose some other seats.”

As they walked away, Billy leaned over and whispered, “You owe me one, remember that.”

When he rejoined the popular kids, I heard one of them whisper to him with a frown, “Meet me this afternoon at the schoolyard. We need to talk.”

When I got home, I immediately went on to Twitter. I wanted to see what my mom posted about me, and I really wanted to see where the popular kids had gotten the information. What I saw completely shocked me. In front of my eyes was an article, an article so fake that I just couldn’t believe that my own mother had written it:

My poor son, Bob! His mean friend, Billy, went kayaking with him, and he didn’t know that Bob was only a beginner! He chose to kayak the route down the waterfall! Poor Bob was scared to death, and I felt so bad for my son. He could have died from that kayaking trip! What was Billy thinking?

At first I did not know how to react. Then, the reality began to sink in.

“Mom!” I shouted. “What have you been posting on Twitter?!” I ran out into the kitchen, holding the laptop.

My mom was busy making dinner. “What is it, honey?” she asked, surprised.

I held the laptop up for her to see. “What – why -” I was so mad, that if I had been in one of those cartoons, smoke would be coming out of my ears.

“How could you have posted something like this about me on Twitter, where everyone could see it?” I demanded.

She looked shocked for a moment. “Relax! Calm down, and show me.” She sat down on one of the dining room chairs, and I handed her the laptop. Slowly, she read the article.

“I… I’m not sure what’s wrong with what I posted,” she told me finally when she was finished. I glared at her.

“How can you not see?! Don’t you know that people at my school can read this stuff?!” I yelled in response. “Besides, this information isn’t even accurate! You just assumed most of this stuff!” I stomped off to my room and slammed the door.

“Young man!” my mom shouted. “Come back here, right now!” I stayed where I was, but I heard her footsteps coming towards my room. The door opened, and my mom was standing in my doorway. From the look on her face, I knew that I was about to get busted.

“Come over here,” she told me, beckoning me towards her. I stood up and followed her into the living room.

We sat down on the couch, and she calmed down immediately. “Go ride your bike,” she instructed me. “Ride a few laps around the schoolyard. When you feel calmed down, come back home, and we’ll talk.”

I followed her instructions and rode my bike out of the garage. Suddenly, I remembered what the popular kids had told Billy.

Meet me this afternoon on the schoolyard. We need to talk.

Something important was going to happen. I couldn’t miss it. I peddled as fast as I could, and when I reached the schoolyard, I could see figures standing on the basketball court. One of them was unmistakably Billy. I parked my bike and ran over, anxious to see what was happening.

Billy was standing on one side of the court, and all the popular kids were on the other side. I could hear them arguing. It didn’t sound so good.

“I take back what I said at lunchtime. You aren’t loyal to us. Why did you defend that loser when we were on the bus? If you want to be one of us, you can’t be loyal to anyone else.”

Billy looked scared, but I couldn’t blame him. The kid was taller than him, and looked very tough. I recognized him–John, a kid in my English class. He could be so intimidating that even the teachers didn’t dare to mess with him.

Billy sighed, and didn’t say anything. Then, he looked up and saw me, standing there. His eyes suddenly grew hopeful. None of the popular kids noticed.

“Just a few minutes ago, when we were pushing the little kids, what were you doing? You just stood there, watching. You can’t be one of us. You’re… a loser.”

John nodded to his gang, and they charged at him. They lifted him up, and threw him onto the ground. I couldn’t watch. I ran towards them, even though they were all taller and heavier than me, and I had no chance of beating them in a fight. Even so, I tried to push them off Billy, but they were too heavy. Now, the entire gang was focused on me, so Billy stood up. I wasn’t so fortunate, though. They pushed me down to the ground, and I couldn’t get up. Just as I felt as if I was suffocating, Billy came to the rescue. He grabbed one of the kids off of me and pulled me out of the human pile. Then, he pulled me up, helping me to my feet. I stood up and ran off.

I thought I was safe as I ran towards the edge of the basketball court. However, I didn’t expect that one of the kids–Ben–was standing there at the edge. He tripped me over as I ran, and I struggled to get up. Then Ben leaped on top of me.

“Help!” I yelled. Billy, however, was running over to save me.

It was just that look in his eye, that look of concern, that told me that he was my friend again. It all seemed to happen in slow motion, the way he took each long stride over, coming to save me. He was no longer mad at me, and now, he was going to save me. I couldn’t thank him enough.

Billy shoved Ben off of me from behind, and grabbed my arm. He pulled me towards the edge of the schoolyard. “Run!” he shouted to me.

I began to run out of the schoolyard, with Billy following me. I looked back, expecting to see Ben following us. I saw him sitting on the basketball court, looking surprised and shocked. He won’t be chasing us anytime soon, I thought. As I ran out of the schoolyard, I grabbed my bike and began riding with Billy running after me. I didn’t know where we were going, but it felt good to be going somewhere with Billy again. I realized that I was heading home, and I looked back at Billy. He nodded, telling me to keep going. So I biked on.

Once I was at my house, I hopped off my bike and turned to Billy. “You were quite impressive,” he told me with a smile. “That was really cool, the way you took them out.” I nodded. Did this mean he was my friend again? I decided to find out.

“Hey, Billy, wanna come inside my house and hang out?” I asked. To my relief, he nodded. When we headed inside, I found my mom hanging out on the laptop. Uh oh, I thought. My mom doesn’t mix well with computers. I walked over to her.

“Uh, mom?” I asked nervously. Billy, seeing that this was between me and my mom, took a step back. “Have you been posting… other stuff?” I walked over and looked at the screen of my mom’s laptop. Twitter. That wasn’t a good sign.

My mom smiled at me. “Bob, I’m really sorry if I had been posting offensive things about you and Billy. I promise that I’ll try to control myself better on social media.” She turned the laptop over to me. “Here, I wrote an article to make it up to you.”

Nervously, I read the article.

I’m sorry about the article that I last posted. Turns out, it isn’t so true, and Bob’s friend Billy is far from mean. And Bob is way more capable than I thought. He survived the trip down the waterfall, and that was way more than I expected. So, Bob, please understand that I am sorry for what I posted.  You are braver than I thought you would be, and I am proud of you.

For a moment, I was silent. Well, close enough. I sat up and embraced my mom, not at all embarrassed. “Thanks, Mom,” I said. “Thanks for posting this.” My mom smiled back, hugging me tighter.

“I’m very proud of you, Bob. You acted very wisely, and I am glad that you survived, and I’m sorry for posting the offensive material. Now, why don’t you go hang out with Billy for a while? I don’t want to distract you guys,” she told me, letting me go. I nodded to her, and walked over to where Billy was standing. Suddenly, an idea popped into my mind.

“Hey, Billy, I just wanted to ask you something,” I told him. He turned to me, and nodded. I felt so happy that we were speaking to each other again now. I couldn’t resist smiling.


“Well, I wanted to ask… would you like to go on another kayaking trip with me?”

Slowly, a smile formed across Billy’s face. “Yeah, sure… I guess so.” He was practically grinning by now. “Hey, by the way, I wanted to tell you… I’m really sorry about the whole kayaking thing in the first place. I shouldn’t have called you a scaredy, and I’ll admit that I had a really bad temper.” He sighed. “I guess you deserve to know what happened.”

I nodded. Billy went on.

“Well, the popular kids–they wanted to be my friends, and I wanted to have them as friends, too. I cared so much about popularity at that time. But then, when they found out that I often hung out with you, they rejected me. They told me you were a dork, and that you weren’t “cool” enough. So for me, the only clear solution at that time was to get rid of you. Of course, that wasn’t the right solution. You may be a dork, but you are a loyal friend, unlike the popular kids. When I found out the truth about the popular kids, I couldn’t believe it. They weren’t my friends. You are, and you always will be.”

It was hard to believe that Billy could be so foolish, or that he thought I was dorky, but I didn’t mention that. I nodded, and smiled. “Hey, it’s fine,” I told him. “Wanna go find the kayak in the garage? Maybe we can go tomorrow.”

He nodded, and we walked side by side into the garage, the way we had since we were 4 years old. Because we were friends, and we always will be.

And, like Billy said, nothing could ever change that.

The End


Pandora the Detective: How It All Began

One day when ten-year-old Pandora got home from gymnastics, her favorite activity, she ran into her sister Maria’s room and saw that she was crying.

“Why are you crying?” Pandora asked.

After blowing her nose, she told her, “I lost my necklace.”

“We will find your necklace, okay?” said Pandora.

“Okay,” said Maria.

Before they started looking, Pandora asked some questions like, “What were you doing?” or “When was the last time you saw it?”

“Well, I was in the kitchen helping Mom cut the onions and prepare dinner,” Maria said.

“Now we know that Mom was in the room, but was there anybody else?” said Pandora.

“Nope, there was nobody else,” Maria said.

“Okay, this is going to be harder than I thought. Did Mom pull on your necklace while you were putting the onions in the pot?” said Pandora, hoping that it did not happen.

“Yes,” said Maria, not knowing what Pandora was going to do.

“Oh no.” Pandora grabbed Maria’s hand.

“Where are we going? Let go of me,” Maria said.

“Didn’t you say Mom pulled on your necklace while you put the onions in the pot?”

“Yeah,” said Maria, while Pandora dragged her.

“Then it must have fallen into or around the pot. It must be boiling by now,” mumbled Pandora.

“What,” said Maria.

“Nothing you need to know,” said Pandora, rushing down the stairs and sighing.

After Maria answered the questions, Pandora said, “If you lose anything else or your necklace again, think of these questions and then retrace your steps.”

When they got down, they looked around the pot, but they couldn’t find the necklace.

“I think it fell into the pot, Maria,” Pandora said after searching everywhere and not knowing what Maria’s reaction was going to be.

“Wait, what?!” said Maria in shock.

“You have to ask mom if you could get it out,” said Maria with a worried look on her face.

Their mother was at another stove cooking.

“Hey Mom, I was wondering if you would let me turn off the gas and stick my hand in the pot to see if Maria’s necklace was in there,” said Pandora hoping that she would say yes.

“Yes,” said Pandora’s mom, distracted by cooking. After saying yes to the question Pandora said, “Quick, till she figures out what I really said.”

After Pandora’s mom figured out what Pandora said, Pandora’s mom said, “What?” while turning around to make sure they were not sticking their hands into the pot, but when she turned around Pandora’s hand was already in it. Pandora didn’t even realize that her mom was coming.

“Oh no, you should’ve told me to help you, Pandora. Now take your hand out of the pot so I can make sure you didn’t burn your hand.”

“Sorry I wrecked dinner,” Pandora whispered into her mom’s ear so no one else heard.

“Don’t worry. It’s okay. This time we’ll make dinner as a family,” Pandora’s mom said.

“Wait, one other thing, have you seen Maria’s necklace,” said Pandora hoping that she did.

“No, sweetheart. I’m sorry,” said Pandora’s mom. “Oh, by the way sweetie, can you go check on your brother to make sure that he’s doing his homework?”

“Sure,” Pandora said. She went up the stairs to go check on her brother. When she got up there she asked her brother, Peter, “Did you do all your homework?”

“Yeah,” said Peter thinking about something else.

“Are you sure? ‘Cause it seems like you lost something,” Pandora said.

“Um, Pandora can I tell you something? I think I lost my iPhone,” Peter said, whispering the word “iPhone.”

“I never heard the last word. What was it?”

“iPhone,” Peter said a little bit louder.

“Did you say iPhone?” Pandora said, confused.

“Yeah,” said Peter, hoping that Pandora wouldn’t be mad.

“It’s okay. We’ll find your iPhone, but first let’s go downstairs to get dinner and greet our guests. And we’ll have to tell mom,” said Pandora.

“Okay,” said Peter.

They walked down the stairs to find Mom, Dad and Maria sitting with their next-door neighbors, Kevin and Vincent, who were in their forties. Ever since Pandora’s family had moved to the Poconos, they only knew these neighbors, but not very well.

“Sweethearts,” their mother said, “come say hi to our neighbors.”

The guys got up and shook her hand, saying hello, and shook Peter’s hand too.

“Mom, Peter lost his phone by accident and we can’t find it, just like we can’t find Maria’s necklace!” Pandora said.

Her mother frowned. “Kids, take your food and go upstairs. We have to talk about something important and we’ll call you when you guys can come back down. And it’s okay, you don’t have to be upset, you will eventually find your phone and necklace.”

Wow, Pandora thought. It must be pretty serious if we kids need to leave.

After Pandora, Maria, and Peter ran up the stairs, their mother said to the neighbors, “Pandora is trying to help them find their things and doing a great job.”

Without anyone noticing, Pandora stayed on the stairs.

But their dad seemed worried. “I wonder if our credit cards and money will also go missing. It seems weird that one thing goes missing and then the other on the same day.”

“That is very odd. Did your kids check everywhere?” said Kevin.

“Like five times,” said Pandora’s father like a know-it-all.

“Then tell Pandora to keep up the good work,” said Vincent, complimenting her.

“You should go check on your bank account, and if you want we’ll stay behind and make sure that the kids are not up to any mischief,” they offered.

The parents thought that it was a good idea, so they quickly went to the bank.

As soon as they left the house, the neighbors started sneaking around.

Pandora followed Kevin and Vincent all around the house until they stopped. Pandora didn’t even notice what they were doing because she was focused on making sure her brother and sister didn’t come out of their rooms.

When she turned her head she was about to bump into Kevin and Vincent. But she was lucky that she didn’t. After a little while, she noticed that they were in front of her parents’ room. She thought to herself, Why would they want to go inside my parents’ room? Once they walked Pandora watched what they were both doing very closely. She saw that they were trying to steal her parents’ wedding rings, which were on their dresser.

Pandora quickly came out of hiding. Kevin and Vincent saw Pandora and said, “You’d better not tell your parents,” they gasped.

“Oh really? You both aren’t in charge of me. A matter of fact, I can call the police if you would like,” said Pandora.

Vincent and Kevin cupped their hands around Pandora’s mouth. They grabbed her arms and legs. Vincent gave Kevin Pandora’s arms. Vincent quickly got the sleeping spray. They sprayed and then stuffed her into a bag. Pandora shut her eyes and fell asleep.

When Pandora woke up, she had no idea where she was. She was still in a bag. Then she realized that she had been kidnapped. The bag was very dark, but there was a tiny hole that showed a speck of sunlight. She stayed calm, even though she felt like she was about to scream.

But then she felt something sharp. It was a broken part of a knife. It was in the bag. She started ripping her way out. Pandora could see Vincent and Kevin sleeping on the couch. Before she did anything else, she found the sleeping spray that they sprayed her with, and then sprayed them. Then she stuffed the bag with two beanbag chairs so that they would think she was still in there.

After she got out, she sewed the bag so they wouldn’t be suspicious when they woke up. The room was dark and empty. The couch and a small round desk were the only pieces of furniture. It was not welcoming. On the desk was her sister’s necklace, her brother’s iPhone, and her parents’ rings. She felt so happy that she found the stuff and hadn’t failed them. She grabbed them and put them in her pocket, while also putting on the rings.

Then she saw rusty pipes going up the wall and across the ceiling that looked like ladders and monkey bars. The last set of ladders was at the end and beginning, leading somewhere out of the room and outside.

After she got up she noticed that she could climb up the pipes. She was afraid that if she climbed them she’d be too heavy and the pipes would fall down. She decided that she should jump down from the rusty pipes and tiptoe the rest of the way. But she saw another set of pipes that weren’t as rusty so instead she started jumping up. She was almost out.

She climbed her way out of the stairs, pushed open a floor door that entered a real house, and got out. She realized that she was in her neighbor’s house next door, and needed to go home right away, so she ran there.

When she got home, she saw her parents looking around for her, very worried. They looked like they were about to cry until they saw her face.

“Where were you?” said Pandora’s parents.

“I was trying to get your wedding rings that were on the dresser,” said Pandora. “And now I can call the police.”

“Wow, that must have been hard.”

Before Pandora could even answer, her mom said, “But where did you go specifically?”

I don’t want to tell them the truth so they don’t freak out, but I also want to tell them, Pandora thought.

“Not to worry, I’m home safely, no scars or anything,” she said, “but I got kidnapped by the neighbors. I saw that they were stealing, so yeah. They didn’t want me to tell you. I threatened to call the police, and then they kidnapped me. I used a piece of a knife to get myself out and did some gymnastics to get here.”

Her mom’s jaw dropped open and she could barely move, but at the same time, she was handing Pandora her phone to call the police.

Pandora told the police everything. About five minutes later, she saw the police show up in front of her house. She went running outside to show them where the neighbors were underground in their secret lair. Then she went down the ladder with them to find Kevin and Vincent. They were still sleeping. They tiptoed around them. The police quickly handcuffed them before the two men got up. After they finished handcuffing them they felt uncomfortable and woke up.

“You called the police on us!” they both said at the same time.

“Well,” Pandora snapped her finger, “I told you that I would call the police.”

Then the police brought Vincent and Kevin to their car.

“Would you like to celebrate with a party at my house after you take them to the police station?” Pandora asked.

“Yeah, sounds fun,” said the police. They smiled. “You did an amazing job.”

“You did a horrible job,” said Vincent.

When the police came, they had a badge for a new detective coat and a leotard that had a badge on it. The police asked her, “Would you like to work with us?”

Her parents and her siblings stood around her, waiting to see what she would say.

Pandora exclaimed, “Yes!“ and the rest of the night they partied and stayed safe.

Caribbean Adventure

It all started one ordinary day in the morning. I spent the early morning flipping through a book on geography to study for my test. I read for a few hours then slid down the staircase for breakfast. After breakfast, I started helping my Dad clean up our inn. The Whisky River Inn is usually busy and full of drunk men, but today was Sunday and the inn was closed. After finishing all the chores and church service, Mum and I took a short walk from the community baptist church to the lobster bay to catch some seafood for the inn. Mum had just started rowing back when disaster struck.

“AAAHHH ROW! IT’S A GIANT WHALE!” screamed another fisherman.

The great white whale splashed water and sent a huge harbor wave that engulfed me and Mum. Mum made it to the dock, but some force was pulling me out to sea.

“HELP! HELP! HELP!” I cried and screamed, but no one came to my rescue.

My mum screamed, “Lancelot!”

After what felt like ten hours, when I lay on my back to try and do the backstroke, I found an abandoned row boat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

“HUZZAH!” I cried for joy. I jumped on and began rowing back.

Night fell quickly and I had no bed, no food, no shelter and no water!


It was a ship! It was a huge galleon and I started jumping up and down on the rowboat.

I was saved. But I was wrong.

There was an explosion. I felt the boat disintegrate under my back and I passed out. That was the last thing I heard that night.

I woke up in a bed made out of linen cloth and a pillow with feathers of a turtle dove. At first, I thought I was home on the island of Key West, but then I saw a shark head on the wall and then it hit me. I was on that ship. I jumped out of bed, but a strange clunk followed. I looked down at my feet and almost screamed. There, on my left leg, there was a wooden leg, one that a pirate wears. I freaked out like crazy. I almost screamed and my stomach dropped all the way down to Tartarus. Look, if you woke up to a wooden leg, you would freak out too.

Then footsteps made me jump into bed, pull the covers back on and pretend to sleep. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a pirate coming in and adding a strange gadget to my wooden foot. Curiosity overtook me and I found myself blurting, “Who are you???”

“Ah me! I’m Captain of the Hispaniola, the galleon you’re on right now,” answered the Captain coolly.  “You all right? A foreign pirate ship holding the famous Blackbeard fired a cannon at you.”  

I looked around again and felt a weird sensation like the room was bobbing up and down. I got up and followed the Captain on the ship deck.

Wow! I thought. The deck itself was HUGE. When we got to the other side the Captain told me to stay on guard at the tallest post on the 50-foot mast. I climbed up and immediately I saw something suspicious. Three ships with pirate flags were firing cannons at each other and one was bearing the British flag. I rushed down to the deck and burst into the captain’s office.

“Captain! Pirates and British ships!” I panted. The captain jumped up and rushed on deck. He immediately started barking orders.

“You! Turn and sail to those ships! You! get a group of your friends and go on the mast decks to search the landscape of the  battle. Hey, Lancelot! Go down and get the cannons ready and fire when I signal!”  

“Aye-yah  Captain!” I yelled back. I rushed below deck and got a few barrels of gunpowder and loaded the cannons. A few other ship members came to join me later and ducked under the cannons. I heard a whistle and fired my cannon at the nearing ship.


The cannon blasted me backward and the other ship caught fire and started sinking. At the second whistle, I fired and ran backward so I couldn’t get hit again by the force. I made it back just in time to see the ship sink away.  I rushed up the deck and greeted the British captain who happened to be a whaler. Our captain was arguing with another sailor and we heard he was convincing (threatening) him to stop sleeping late in the morning. Then the British captain left and we sailed on.

The next few days were like normal days. I did chores and ate and talked to my fellow sailors. All was well until…


“WE’RE UNDER ATTACK!” I rushed down below decks and kept lighting and firing the cannons. The attacker was a ginormous pirate ship and they had cannons on every square inch of the ship. Soon, all the gunpowder was used and the ship still wasn’t damaged, not even a blackened area of smoke!


The ship’s mast swayed and fell onto our ship! The pirates stormed across and I grabbed a silver sword to prepare for the attack. I fired the cannons one last time and rushed upstairs and started dueling the nearest pirate.

The pirate was quick, but I was strong. I pushed him back and into the waters below. I grabbed a nearby pike and pushed mast into the water so the pirates couldn’t climb here anymore. After the last pirate had fallen off the boat, the ship sped off. Every few days, we were attacked by pirates, but always we were able to fend off. After five months of this, we saw a shiny substance at the bottom of the ocean. GOLD AND JEWELS!     

The captain ordered me to lower a boat and to dive for the riches. I did this silently. I came up with pounds of gold, emeralds, diamonds, lapis lazuli, and amethyst. The captain was thrilled and agreed to give me a pound of all the rare stones once I arrived at Key West Island.

The next day, I woke up to the sounds of a rainy day. I grabbed my leather coat and rushed on deck. The rain pounded on the deck and the thunder broke the silence immediately. The captain was the only other soul on deck and he greeted me warmly.

Flash! Boom!

The wind howled as I rushed off the deck and joined my friends at the bar. Days past, the wind howled and the rain splattered the deck days on end. After the raining season, disaster struck.  

A pirate ship attacked us and the ship sank.

“GO! GO! GO! GO!” the captain screamed and yelled out orders. For no exact reason, I grabbed a handful of  salted meat and ran for the cannons.

Suddenly, a huge blast and the ship blew to bits. I found myself stranded on an island.

I tried to get up but I felt as if I weighed a million pounds. I dragged myself onto a stone and fell asleep.

I didn’t know how long I had been out, but when I woke up, it was dawn and the sun streaked red and orange lines across the sky. I stared and stared until a sudden sound snapped me out of the staring contest. A huge coconut had fallen off  a nearby tree and started rolling down the hill. I was suddenly full of energy and I started sprinting toward the coconut like the time I was ten feet from the finish line and first place. Just before it rolled into the waves, I pounced and grabbed the coconut. After I got my breath back, I found a sharp and jagged rock and cracked it open. It split in two and inside was delicious coconut milk. After I was done, a yellow cluster of fruits caught my eye and I had only one thought: Bananas. I ran and jumped just in time to grab the bananas and tumbled into something furry and soft.

Wait, furry!? I slowly turned around and I came face to face with a full-grown leopard. It growled and started sliding toward me. Frightened, I gave the leopard a bit of the salted meat I grabbed before the ship was blown to bits. The leopard tilted its head and bit the piece of meat. It chewed it and purred like a cat.

I had tamed it, I realized. I started to walk back to the beach, but the cat wouldn’t leave me.

I spent the rest of that day playing with the leopard. Even though I got covered in sand and I smelled like rotten meat, I had the greatest day of my life. Soon, night fell and I curled up on a bed of moss with the leopard which I had named Leonardo after my great great grandfather, who founded the inn which had been in a great financial state at that moment.

I woke up to the sound of a whimpering leopard (Leonardo). He was obviously  hungry so I gave him a bit of  the same piece of that strip of meat. I had a strip too but I was missing too many calories so I had some more coconut milk (same tree, different coconut) and another banana.

Once I got used to being alone, I took the time to realize what had happened in the last two days. The ship had been blown up, I had landed on this island and tamed a leopard. The days went by, then weeks, then months. The meat was gone by the second month but the island was huge and there seemed to be an unlimited supply of coconuts and bananas. By the end of the fourth month, I had lost almost all hopes that someone would save me.

But you have all the freedom anyone had ever wanted! echoed the small voice in my head. You have no chores, no bullies to worry about, and no parents to scold you. I pushed that voice out of my head and left and went to play with Leonardo. Every few days I made an occasional discovery, but the biggest was a tall cave that went straight into a huge cavern that was covered with shining gems. Every few days a wild animal would charge through the beach and jump into the water but I was always in a tree or in a lake or on the other side of the island. I felt like this island was the safest island in the world. Boy, was I wrong.

On the 134th day, a huge buffalo came charging out of the jungle and reared its hind legs and came smashing down onto the sand. I jumped up and started sprinting into the jungle. I pushed past a tapir when I came face to face with another buffalo, twice the size. I swam through a lake and jumped over a crevice. I ran up a tree, grabbed a leaf and started fanning all the parrots and colorful birds out of the way. I must have made a beacon with all those birds because a stampede of buffaloes came crashing through the jungle. My wooden leg was slowing me down so I decided to take a slimmer route. Bad idea!

The buffaloes charged in a horizontal line and head-butted all the trees so I had to dodge all the falling trees. My wooden leg was seriously slowing me down. I was ready to run. I was ready to hide. But was I ready to fall a million feet into the earth? I tripped over a big root and landed face down onto the dirt. The dirt gave way and I found myself tumbling to my death.

The fall went by in slow motion, but I blinked and I found myself in an underground stream. I was so happy I fainted. I came to right before I was going to burn up in lava. I hopped off the stream and saw only five buffaloes on the chase. I saw one on the ledge, two burning up and all the rest were stuck in a tight spot. I found the cave I found and started climbing.

The cave was sloping slightly and long stalactites and wide stalagmites forced me to lodge myself into weird and unbelievably uncomfortable. I climbed for what seemed like ages before I found myself in the brilliant sunshine. Leonardo was licking his paws and I saw my moss bed. I was back on the beach. The cave blew up when five buffaloes charged and head-butted the cave entrance. I stumbled, grabbed Leo, and sprinted away. I was saved when Leonardo jumped out of my grasp and bit one of the buffalo on its head.

He must have bit the leader because after that the buffalo ran away bleeding, all the others followed swiftly. I was just resting when the beach started to shake. Earthquake! The earthquake stopped as suddenly as it started. But I had no time to rest. A tsunami was pushing right to us. I grabbed Leo and ran toward the jungle. I hid behind the tree and closed my eyes.

The tsunami crashed onto the island. Water sprayed everywhere and I held Leo and prayed that this tree wouldn’t fall on me. Sand, coral, wood, stone, moss, smashed bananas, crushed coconuts, and a dead shark pushed their way through the dense forest. Dead animals were flying through the air. It was so gruesome I turned so I faced the wet and cracking tree. After the water retreated, I ran to the beach, spraying wet sand everywhere.

Leonardo growled which probably meant, “You covered me in water and squeezed me so hard and smashed my face into a mushed up banana so you don’t deserve my respect.”

Then the island shook and I heard an explosion before I passed out. I came to on a rock, with flowing lava surrounding me. The island was a volcano!

Suddenly one of the buffalo that survived the chase came pelting out of the burning jungle with a burning tail. The buffalo slammed down on the rock and laid spread-eagle on the rock, on top of Leonardo! I saw Leonardo kicking the buffalo but the buffalo was too heavy. Leonardo gave way. I kicked the buffalo five times and managed to push the buffalo into the lava and off Leonardo. I knelt down beside Leonardo. He felt cold and he wasn’t breathing! No! Then his head rolled and his eyes became glassy. I hugged him and cried tears of sadness that no one else would ever hear. I had a feeling that was a cross between hatred, sadness, and misery. I felt so bad I didn’t eat anything that day but everything changed.

“Lancelot!” The familiar voice lifted my spirits 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times. The captain! I saw a huge galleon in front of me with the captain we saved on the ship, waving his cap around his head. I couldn’t help but laugh. He lowered a boat and I scrambled onto the boat and the British captain reeled us in. Captain and I laughed at the sight of me. I was blackened by the smoke and there was mud, leaves, feathers and bits of rock all over me. The captain said I looked like Christopher Columbus when he landed on Cuba and we both laughed.

That night I had a nightmare. Mum was screaming for me and Dad was trying to put out the fire in the bar. Soldiers were running in every direction. Fire burned all over the island. In the distance, a volcano erupted and ash and smoke filled the streets.

“Noo. Nooo, NOO!” I woke up panting. The captain was sitting on the bed stuffing herb water into my mouth. I blinked and went back to sleep. I woke up to screams. The ship had fissures springing all over the place and water poured and splashed into the ship. We were in a whirlpool and the ship’s mast was ripped. There was a terrifying sound of wood cracking and breaking and the exploding of nails. The entire ship was breaking apart. Then there was a huge explosion and sawdust dusted the bed from top to bottom. I looked up, stunned. The bed was floating and the captain was on a single piece of wood! I called his name but he had passed out. The whirlpool swirled us around. A swarm of sharks was circling the bottom for dead bodies. Then the bed tipped me into the freezing waters.

“Lancelot!” The captain awoke and paddled toward me and lowered himself into the waters. “Stay on this as a last favor!”

“ No,” I answered flatly, tears in my eyes, “I’ve had enough grief the past days. I cannot take another loss like this. You did all those things to help me and it’s time to do a favor back.” Tears were pouring down my face and my whole body was trembling but the captain jumped into the water and lifted me onto the board. I tried to pull him up but he disappeared into the howling whirlpool.

“NOOO!” I screamed and hollered until my voice got hoarse. I had just suffered the biggest loss in my life. Both Leo the leopard and the captain had died to save me. I swore if I survived this, I would write a book about this adventure and about Leonardo and the Captain.

My heart was permanently damaged. Emotions swirled around my head. All my positive feelings gushed out of my brain.

I managed to paddle out of the swirling water and into the calm waves. I had studied the captain’s map and I seemed to be on the north equatorial current which hit a monsoon current and the path I would take would lead me to Africa. I wasn’t pleased. Even if I were heading home on this little board, I would die of thirst and hunger and even if I managed to not die of those, I would go straight into a five-month period monsoon. The chances of me surviving were slimmer than outrunning a cheetah.

I drank salt water that burned my throat to keep me going but by the sixth week I couldn’t even sit down. I ended up lying down with my feet in the water. By the time I made it to the first month, I could just lie down and turn my head to drink water. My body was pushing my brain and urging my heart and forcing my lungs to stay awake.

I spent an unknown amount of time on that board before I saw a ship. It was drifting out of the clouds and lightning looking as if it just returned from the trojan war. Its masts were ripped, there were fissures in the wood, and the bronze mermaid on its tip had no head. I had no energy to stand up and yell and wave my arms. The only thing I could do was mutter “Help!” and try not to die. I felt like the biggest miracle happened. A group of thunder clouds was blocking the way they were going and were forced to turn my way! I just lay there smiling weakly.  I heard them shout, “There! A kid!” And I saw them lower a raft for me. A few sailors were paddling and the rest were craning their heads to look at me. When they got there, a sailor pulled me up and asked, “What do you want?”

“Water,” I groaned, and one other sailor pulled a flask out of his pocket. I gulped down the water in one sip.

“Where are we going?” I groaned.  The head sailor said, “Home lad, we are going home.”

The End   



Thank you, Mom, Dad, and my writing teacher Kira for supporting me throughout this writing semester and my everyday life. I gained lots of knowledge, experience and a universe full of imagination.

My Life as a Dog

Sitting on the porch with my favorite human beside me, I can’t help but think about how much older she looks now. Not too long ago, she was the little girl of the family who tried to make me eat flowers because she hated me! I ran away that time. Now, I can’t run so well anymore. I get up and try to get my beat-up monkey that I named Robert. Seeing me struggle, Jess puts down her book and grabs Robert.

“Good dog, Buddy,” she praises me as she sticks Robert in my drooling mouth.

I will forever be loyal to Jess. She may not have always liked me, but she is my favorite person in the world. My name is Buddy. I’m a black lab who is ten years old. You must know that I am nearing the end of my life. That is why I am here to tell you the story of my life.

So as it was, I was the last of my brothers and sisters to be adopted. I didn’t know why, but I was all alone in a rusty pen. That’s when it happened. A man came in alone. Guy said some stuff and the big man that was in charge picked me up.

“Will this little guy do?” he gruffly asked.

“He’s perfect!” Guy smiled.

I didn’t understand a single thing they were saying, but I went along and that’s how I wound up in a machine thing. He stuck me in the back and went in the front.

After a while we pulled up in front of a white house. Guy got out of the machine. I struggled to jump out. All of a sudden, a boy came running and he hugged me so tight I was choking! Lady came out and gave me a collar.

“Jess, come see your birthday present!” Guy called into the house.

“What is it?” a girl’s voice called.

“Come and see!” Guy yelled back.

A little girl came running out of the house.

“A-a-a-a dog?” she timidly asked.

I could smell the scent of unwillingness and sadness steaming off of her.

“It’s to replace Riley, your old dog!” Guy beamed.

Jess bolted back into the house and I was very confused. Was there another dog here called Riley?

“She’s not ready to forget Riley, Mike, don’t push it,” Lady patted Guy on the back.

“Well, maybe in time she’ll accept Buddy,” Guy trudged inside and I followed him.

Apparently the house was all set. There was a bed, two bowls, a cage, and a pen like the one I had been in for so many months. The odd thing was that it faintly smelled like another dog. I decided to ignore this thought and check out what the family was doing.

“Buddy!” Boy called holding out a ball.

“Go get the ball!” Dad (as I heard the boy call him) Guy chanted.

I was confused! Who was Buddy? What was a ball?

Boy threw the round thing. My instincts took over and I ran to it. After all, I was a Labrador Retriever. Gingerly, I sniffed it and picked it up. I was starting to like this ball thingy! I ran to Boy who yanked it out of my mouth.

“Good boy, Buddy!” he praised.

Ohh, so I was Buddy. Now things were starting to make sense. This house would be my home for the rest of my life. No more rusty pen. I was going to enjoy it here.

After a few days, Jess still wouldn’t pet or talk to me. I was highly offended. What did I do wrong? Dad and Mom tried talking to her, but she wouldn’t listen. I knew if I wanted her to like me, I would have to prove myself worthy by doing something, but what would that something be?

That evening, Jess, Dad, Mom, and Boy (whose name I found out was Mason) took me to the lake. I meandered along the path going from Jess to Mason. Finally, we sat on a bench on the shore of the lake. Jess kicked a stick into the lake. My instincts took over and I leaped into the lake to get the stick. A few minutes later, I came back soaked and wet, the stick in my mouth. I proudly dropped it at Jess’s feet and expected her to finally like me. Contrary to my prediction, she scowled and pushed me away while holding her nose. Sorrowfully, I walked away and went to Mason.

“Jess!” Mason exclaimed, “Buddy just dove into a freezing cold lake and retrieved you a stick, be thankful,” he scolded.

“He’s just a stupid dog,” Jess muttered and trudged away.

Mom, Dad, and Mason looked at each other and sighed.

It seemed like I would have to do something other than retrieve a stick from a lake to get Jess’s appreciation.

The next day, the house became empty except for the girl who went to her room and slept. Basically, I was stuck in the house on my own. The night before, I had learned that I had a “dog door.” There was a flap that I could walk right through! Then I would be outside and the fresh air would blast at me. I walked around the empty house sniffing here and there. It was strange with nobody home.

All of a sudden, I smelled something weird. Like a burning of heat. I was confused, but my instincts told me I had to get out. That’s when it started; black smoke poured into the kitchen. It stung my eyes as I struggled to find my “dog door.”

Safely, I ran out of the house. The girl! Even though she hadn’t been very nice to me, it was my job to be loyal and protect my owner no matter how much she liked me. What was I going to do? I was safe and alive. Sirens blared up the driveway as men in red suits ran in the house. I wanted to warn them not to go in.

Another man in a navy blue uniform patted my head and tried to comfort me. Nothing could help me especially since I knew my girl was in there! Nudging the man in the navy blue uniform, I started to bark and whimper.

“What’s the matter, boy?” he asked, concerned.

I pointed my nose in the direction of the house. Then, I ran to the house. A man in a red suit outside stopped me.

“Where are you going?” he asked.

I ran inside without looking back. The men followed me, unsure of what I was doing. I bolted to the stairs and was about to go up when one man said, “Hey, maybe someone is up there!” Soon, I was dressed in a suit thing and a mask on my face. I charged into the house again with the men in red suits close behind. I expected the smoke to sting my eyes but to my surprise, I was fine! I quickly led the way up the stairs into Jess’s room. Jess was crying on the bed. The men carried her downstairs into a white truck that drove her away. Where were they taking her? I barked and barked but it was useless. The men in red suits were still spraying the house with the hose.

Finally, I believed my girl was safe so I let my instincts take over and ran to the house. Playfully, I jumped around and chased the hose. I was soaked when a man in a suit dragged me away. After a few hours, the house stopped secreting gray air that stung my eyes and made them water. I was still high on alert, straining to see if there was any scent of Jess or her family. Suddenly, a women stood above me. She was Jess’s mom!

“Oh Buddy, you must be worried!” she cooed as she stroked my head.

Heck, I was worried sick!

“Let’s go, we’re gonna go visit Jess!” She swept me in and stuck me in her machine.

A few minutes later, which seemed like an eon, I walked into a white building that smelled clean too clean! I was tempted to release waste all over the place. I quickly trotted behind Jess’s mom into a room. Jess was lying on the bed, sleeping. Seeing her there reassured me, and I went over and licked her. A second later, Jess’s eyes shot open and she screamed.

“What is that dog doing here!”

Startled, I jumped back.

“Relax, honey, Buddy is just trying to say hi,” Mom’s voice calmed her.

“And, Jess, Buddy here saved your life,” Dad informed Jess.

“Oh really, huh? Like I can believe that,” she sourly announced.

“Well, believe what you want, but that dog saved your life,” Mason pointed at me.

I felt proud and dejected at the same time. I had worked so hard to help Jess and now she didn’t even believing that I had saved her life! To think that I thought Jess would like me after she was told that I saved her life.

A few days later, everything was back to normal. Neighbors still came over with disgusting homemade dog treats for me, which I buried in the backyard for when I was  desperate for food. On this particular day, I decided to go wait for Jess at the bus stop because one of the neighbors had dropped off another batch of despicable dog treats, and I was starting to get tired of making holes in the yard to bury them in. I trotted to the bus stop and sat there ignoring the twitch of squirrels in the grass and focusing on the gasoline scent of the bus. After a century, the bus screeched to a stop in front of my face. Jess came off, followed by some blonde girls who were none other than Mia, Katy, Amanda, Sophie, and Summer. They were the popular girls Jess had always longed to be friends with. The ones she ranted about 24/7 and the ones that glared at her.

“So, Jess, I heard your dog is a life saver,” Amanda, the queen bee, motioned towards me.

It was like everything from then on was a movie. I couldn’t wait to hear Jess’s response.

“Uhhh, yeah, he saved me from a fire,” she replied.

I couldn’t believe it. First she was saying that she didn’t believe I saved her life. Then I knew, she was doing it for popularity. She was using me! Before I could decide whether I was proud or mad, Amanda said something very interesting.

“So, you wanna come to my house tonight, we can have a sleepover with Mia, Katy, Sophie, and Summer?” Amanda coolly asked. “Oh, and bring your awesome dog! I have a Yellow lab named Marley.” She sashayed away with her group following her, gushing and chattering. Before I could react, Jess was halfway down the path and I bolted to catch her.

Out of breath, Jess rushed in with the good news, me tagging behind her.

“Mom, dad!” she panted, “I was invited to a sleep over at Amanda’s!” she finished.

“Woah, hold on,” Dad said.

“Amanda Williams, the one who is the big popular one?” Mom raised her eyebrows.

“Yes, Amanda Williams and her friends have invited me with Buddy to her house for a sleepover,” Jess boasted.

Buddy!?” Mom and Dad yelled.

Say what? Did Jess just bail me out and tell them that I did my business in her mom’s flower garden?  Which I did, by the way.

“Yes, and Amanda has a yellow lab named Marley,” she reassured them.

Jess explained the whole story from beginning to end. When she was finished, everybody was gaping. I knew everyone was happy for her, not only because they reeked of the scent of cupcakes, but the fact that they were all smiling.

“Of course you can go!” Dad proclaimed.

“We are so happy for you!” Mom stated the obvious.

That night, Jess packed her bag and got into the machine. I bounded in behind her, and we were off. In what seemed like a month, we were finally there. Amanda’s house was HUGE. We stepped out of the machine and ran up the front path. Jess excitedly rang the doorbell and waited. Amanda answered the door with a smile on her face. Hmm, I thought I smelled a scent on her, an unusual scent, scared? Sad? Then it hit me, it was nervous. What was Amanda so nervous about?

As I sat down, all the girls started to pet me. I wasn’t so sure I cared that Jess used me anymore. I had never gotten this much attention in my whole life.

“Nice PJs,” Amanda complimented sarcastically to Jess.

Jess didn’t hear any sarcasm and glanced down at her dog pjs. I always thought they were cute.

“Thanks,” Jess gushed.

I watched as Amanda rolled her eyes at Mia secretly.

“Let’s paint our nails,” Katy suggested, breaking the silence.

Soon, the girls took out bottles of stuff and slathered it on their nails. The scent almost ruined my nose!

“I’m gonna go use the bathroom,” Jess got up and left the room, closing the door behind her.

“Girls!” Amanda whispered, “Let’s play a prank on that loser!”

Prank? Prank? Wait a minute, I trotted over to get a better listen.

“Oooh, let’s put itching powder in her sleeping bag!” Sophie jumped up.

“I brought some just in case,” Summer held up a can.

“WHAT?” All the others girls turned to face her.

“What?” Summer repeated, wanting to squirm out of the question.

“Perfect,” Amanda agreed.

Just in time, Jess came in.

“So, it’s lights out time!” Amanda cheerfully said, “you go brush your teeth first,” she told Jess.

I nudged Jess as if to say, No! Oblivious to my clues, she went into the bathroom again.


I watched as the girls hatched their plan. They moved fast, dumping bits of Itching Powder in Jess’s sleeping bag. I whimpered and whimpered, but the girls ignored me. Just mean. At last, Jess came in and everybody acted normal. Jess got into her sleeping bag. Then, the itching started.

“Uh, I think I might have gotten a rash,” Jess nervously announced.

“EWWW,” all the girls screamed.

“Go home,” Amanda advised.

Crying, Jess pulled out her phone and called her mom. A few minutes later, she pulled up. Amanda’s mom comfortingly assisted Jess outside. Once in the car, Jess started to cry again.

“I-I-I got a r-r-rash,” Jess cried, “and then the other girls started to glare at me and Amanda told me to go home,” Jess finished.

Jess sat there in silence as we pulled into the long gray path in front of the house that a machine always parked on. When we got inside, Jess’s mom started to wash her sleeping bag; Jess’s mom was a neat freak.

“Wait a minute! Jess, is there powder, itching powder, in your sleeping bag?” Jess’s mom asked suspiciously.

“Wha-a-t?” Jess sniffled.

“Jess, I think those girls played a cruel trick on you, they did the classic putting-itching powder-in-sleeping bag trick,” Jess’s mom frowned.

“Huh, maybe that’s why Buddy nudged me, he knew all along they would play a prank on me!” If Jess was in a comic, there would be a yellow lightbulb above her head.

“Now I know, those girls aren’t my true friends, Buddy is,” Jess ran up and hugged me.

“I’m so sorry I rejected you, you’re the best dog I ever had,” she almost suffocated me.

Now, many years later, I am still Jess’s best friend. As I shift my position, I accidentally drop Robert, my monkey, on the green, lush grass. Whimpering, I try to jump onto the patch of green but fail. Seeing me, Jess drops her book. Grunting, she gently lifts me onto the grass. I am grateful to her. It is hard to believe that a few years ago, she disliked me and pushed me away. Jess has changed a lot, and so have I. Jess used to be a carefree little girl. Today, she is a high schooler applying for what is called “College.” She will be leaving me soon and I will soon be leaving her. I wonder if she still remembered that phase when she rejected me. Leaning over, I gaze at Jess absorbed in her book, and she starts to stroke my head. Even though dogs hate it when humans pat them on the head, I lie still next to her without protest. Closing my eyes, I let the warm sun swallow me.

The End

The Quest to stop the monsters


George rushed up the stairs at the ear-piercing scream and swung open the double doors. There lay his Dad on the ground with blood trickling down his forehead.

“ DAD!!!” screamed Lily, George’s little sister.

 But George had no intention of screaming like his sister, sobbing like his mother, or begging for mercy like his grandmother.

He was staring in fright at the zombies, skeletons, witches, wizards, and dragons the size of dining room tables. He was shocked to learn that these mobs existed. They were staring at his Dad with sneers glued on their faces. George stared at the advancing monsters.

“You horrendous monsters!” cursed George. ”I’ll get you BACK#$%&@!!!”

This seemed to anger the creatures, so they started lumbering toward them with swift slides. This frightened the lot, and they panicked immediately.

“Everyone listen up, these monsters are from the games Minecraft and COC (Clash of Clans). I know how to fight these mobs. But first, we all have to evacuate this building, and fast,” George explained. “Women, elders and children first!” he added.

George, Mom, Lily, Nonni, Granny, Pop and Aunt Maria went out the house first followed by Uncle Bob, Uncle Nick, and Jerry, who just graduated Stanford University and  started working for apple, came out last.

“Run for the hills!” yelled Pop. The whole city of San Diego was running down Main Street, because the train to Los Angeles was leaving soon. So many people squeezed into the train that Lily couldn’t see the light above her.

”Everyone stay calm,” directed George.

“We will arrive at Los Angeles shortly,” said the conductor. During the train ride George reassured everyone that he would put an end to these mobs.

Two hours later, TOOT! TOOT! TOOT!

The train screeched to a stop. People poured out of the train, including the family. But what they saw was not what they were expecting. The whole city was overrun by Ghasts, Blazes, and Lava Hounds. Ghasts look like big white squares with red mouths, Blazes look like a yellow head with yellow arms circling around them, and Lava Hounds look like pigs that are on fire that fly.

All the woman and the girls on the train screamed, and all men and boys groaned and moaned.

Everyone pushed their way back into the train, all of them except George, he went into the city to see what was going on. “Bye! See you in Sacramento!” Lily yelled.

“The next and final stop will be Sacramento!” said the conductor.

George sneaked into the city on tippy toes and made sure that he was not followed. The whole city was up in flames, and there was wreckage spilling into the streets.

BOOM!!! A fireball from a Ghast burst into smithereens inches from Georges feet, causing George to fall back and crash into a broken food trailer. BANG!!! CRASH!!! This caused sooo much noise it was as loud as an exploding atomic bomb. Soon the whole army of fire-type mobs started chasing George through the wrecked Los Angeles streets.

The angry mobs chased him for so long, that they dropped lower every second. Soon the mobs were so low, George could slice them.Then, he took out a bucket of water and dumped it on the mobs. HISS! The mobs started to disintegrate. Then poof! They vanished into thin air. So far, this was a major victory for George. But now he had to find a way to travel back to San Diego to fight off the mobs in his hometown.

“WOOF! WOOF! WOOF! ARF!” A handsome Golden Retriever bounded toward him. “AWWWWW!!! You’re such a cutie!!!” George cooed.

“TOOT! TOOT! TOOT! TOOT!” The train pulled into the train station at 12 o’clock sharp midnight.

“HOORAY!” yelled George happily. “WOOF!” barked the Golden Retriever.

“I’ll name you Sparky,” murmured George as they climbed up the stairs to the dormitories in the bus.

“TOOT! TOOT! TOOT! TOOT!“  The train pulled into the deserted San Diego downtown train station at 2:30 a.m.

“Bye,” the train driver gloomingly responded.

“Thank You!!!” replied George cheerfully, but still, he worried about his family. Where were they now? He rushed down Main Street as fast as a Ferrari with Sparky right at his heels. Little did they know that the troublemaker was at the other end of the city.

* * * * * *

“HA! HA! HA! That clever little George does not know that I’m going to ruin his life!” thought Pop. Pop had spent half of the year hacking, programming and making these video games spill out monsters that were programmed to target George, because he absolutely hated George’s Dad. Six months ago, when they were on the Mississippi river, George’s father chose to save Pop’s daughter over Pop when the kayak flipped over. Pop was gravely injured.

Pop hated that George and his Dad got all the attention. Like that time at the Holiday event and all the attention was focused on showering George with compliments.

The most popular games on the planet will now be named the most treacherous game on the planet! thought Pop. “Clomp! CLomp! CLOmp! CLOMp! CLOMP! CLOMP!”

It was footsteps that were approaching him quickly! He cautiously climbed over a fence and ran into a construction hole and hid in there for 3 hours until the footsteps had disappeared completely. He carefully lifted himself out of the pit and snuck to the fence and listened for any more footsteps before he climbed over it and…

“AHA! SO it was YOU that did all this!

* * * * * *

“ CLOMP! CLOMP! CLOMP!”George’s footsteps echoed through the isolated city. RATTLE! SHAKE! BANG! Mysterious sounds echoed through the empty city that made George jump. Then George hid behind a fence and waited for the person to climb over the fence again.

“Pant pant pant!” The suspect waited inside the construction site panting so that meant that the suspect was running away from George and did not want to show his face to him so he/she could be the troublemaker. Then what George wanted to happen, happened. The Suspect climbed over the fence and George got a heart attack. It was Pop!

George should have known, he directed the family to leave then he disappeared! George jumped on Pop.

“AHA SO it was YOU that did this! I should have known that it was you … ” George trailed off because Pop was no longer in his arms and a trail of black dots was going down main street! That probably meant that Pop’s trail was heading that way!

George slowly followed the black dots, but then started to run because he spotted Pop at the train station! George got there just in time, but nobody was there!? Splat! George stepped into a puddle of red goo.

“AEII!” screamed George in the shrillest sound anyone could imagine. It look like blood, but it really just was a distraction made by Pop. Then George spotted Pop standing over the train driver holding a kitchen knife! “STOP!” George screamed.     

Pop was startled and fled to the train and took over and started the train to Sacramento.  

“NOOOOOOOO!” yelled George.

The train to Sacramento took off flying down the tracks and speeding away from San Diego.

After a while, George gave up waiting and started wandering around the city to find anything he could salvage from the wreckage. There was wreckage spilling into the streets like Los Angeles and it was isolated. At least, he thought it was empty. Then he went to check on his house to see its shape. When he got there, he was horrified to see that the house was covered in black stains, like something exploded. He rushed inside and saw the Monsters were eating all the furniture, so he rushed out in fright. The city was full of lumbering mobs and they hadn’t been there two minutes ago!

He remembered that Pop had a lab in the basement and George could find some Interesting documents that could be useful. It would give George a head start on the chase. Now, the objective was to capture Pop and get some Information out of him.

On Pop’s desk, George found a binder of “To Do” lists. The last list was today’s entry, which said:


  • start massive mob army
  • continue search of George
  • Start entire continent takeover
  • kill ALL family members in Sacramento              


George burned the entry in fright and disgust. Pop had betrayed us all! George thought angrily.

George went on to Pop’s computer and went to Minecraft and started decoding. After that, he hacked and got all the mobs in to the game again and sent them out. Only this time, they were programmed to target Pop. But George made a mistake. He had typed capital C instead of capital V, so he made it all temporary. George commanded Sparky to sniff out Pop.

What a brilliant idea! thought George.

“Sparky, I need you to track the scent of this pen, OK?”

“Arf!” replied Sparky.

Sparky took off, running through the San Diego streets with George behind enthusiastically, mostly because he was nearing the truth of Pop and the end of this violent era.

* * * * * *

Clickety, clackety, clack. The train putted down the old rusty train track into Sacramento station at 10 p.m. sharp.

“HA HA HA!” cackled Pop. Soon Pop will be killing all the family members by midnight! “A month’s research and tracking has finally paid off!” When they left the mansion, Pop got tracking devices on everybody.

* * * * * *

George hopped on to the first class train that rolled into the station at 10:15 p.m. George rolled up his sleeves and said, “Please bring me to Sacramento.” George was thinking  Pop MUST be in Sacramento because in the computer, there was another list that said “ family in Sacramento.”

* * * * * *

Bang!!! The moment Pop pushed the door of the train, the gears jammed and Pop was locked inside.

“OPEN!!! You stupid door!! What horrible luck! @#$%^&!” cursed Pop. The door was shut closed but who did it!? Who who who?  It was a conundrum.


A monster was pushing against the door.  

“So that’s what happened!” exclaimed Pop angrily. “George must have reversed it! But that means he discovered the to-do list I left on the table a few hours ago!” Pop became very worried.

* * * * * *

The train clacked down the track toward Sacramento. The tension was building and even George was scared, but it was the right thing to do and someone had to stop Pop.

* * * * * *

BAM!!! The door burst open and Pop charged out and …

“What!? NO!!” The monsters started charging at Pop and Pop saw that a bunch of civilians that looked completely defeated started picking up ruins of the buildings and start throwing the pieces of metal and glass at Pop.

“GO! GO!” The WHOLE POLICE department charged at Pop and tackled him. But for some reason, George’s programming wore off and now, ALL the monsters from every single square inch of the world showed up at the train station and they started attacking police and the civilians!

“YEAH MULE YEAH!” screamed Pop. “GO KICK THEIR BUTTS!” The train station was totally overwhelmed with hollering police, groaning monsters and screaming citizens. Clouds of dust formed around the bystanders, making it hard to see and breathe.

* * * * * *

George heard the racket a mile away and the train conductor looked worried. When the train station came in view, George was shocked to see Pop punching a policeman.  They drove in and George took a spare tire from the back and threw it at Pop. Pop swayed and fell to the ground, he was knocked out. Mission accomplished!

“Good job lad!” A policeman shouted after Pop was taken away and suddenly, the monsters one-by-one exploded into puffs of smoke. George smiled. He had accomplished his quest. He had saved the world from mortal peril. He had sent Pop to jail. An era had ended.  GEORGE! GEORGE! The crowd started chanting. “GEORGE! GEORGE! GEORGE!”

In the crowd, he glimpsed mom and Lily crying with happiness and Jerry yelling, “MY VERY OWN BROTHER! GET PAST A MAD GENIUS AND THE MONSTERS OF THE VIDEO GAMES!!!”

His whole family (except his dad and Pop) rushed toward him and hugged him, but it was more like a tackle.  The chanting and cheering went on. Soon, right when the chanting died down a little bit, the PRESIDENT came and gave a speech. In his speech, he said thank you to George, said he was happy that George had dealt with the monsters without the army and, for the finale, he rewarded George with ONE MILLION dollars as well as the Nobel Peace Prize.

CLAP! CLAP! CLAP! CLAP! CLAP! George was crying! There he was! Standing on the stage shaking hands with the President, getting his autograph, and having the President give him a trophy! He fell into the crowd and had hands pushing him along like he was a rock star. He went to the end, got up, bowed, waved and sat in the limo the president had given him and sped home.



The next day, however, was normal. Unless you include all the teen girls asking him to go out to dates at school today. The newsboy was yelling, the neighbor’s dog was barking and George was trying to concentrate on his homework (Detecting Commutative Permeability in Physics and Algebra). The biggest difference is that he had given out 220 autographs and had been interviewed for the Daily News. It was the best life ever for George. After all the homework was finished, the whole family (except Pop) went to the traditional Italian restaurant to celebrate. While they were there, George signed 40 autographs and personal items and got a free lamb chop for his linguini with alfredo sauce and thyme. Back at home, George rested on the couch reading, A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park. All was well.

Circus Monkeys

Boar Chase

Travis stood at the edge of the bushes. His orange and white fur glistened in the afternoon sun, and his black stripes shone. Travis was a Siberian tiger, and he was doing the one thing all tigers have on their minds: hunting.

Travis was not very good at hunting. He was peeking through the bushes, spotting a boar. Travis never hunted a boar before, but he was curious. The boar looked good, fat in flesh, with babies in her belly — it was a sow. The winter was coming, and it was harder for any tiger now to get the more frequent meals needed to cope with the cold.

Travis knew he could not step any closer, otherwise the sow would hear him. So he waited in ambush for her to come closer. The sow was grazing, and she found some grass near the bushes where Travis was hiding. As she shuffled over, Travis thought, it was now or never.

Before Travis could think any further, his hungry paws and claws opened wide and he sprang out onto the sow. She yelped, and then turned into a furious beast. Travis wanted to kick himself for not being able to pounce farther.

Travis then looked at the sow, and wondered why she was not running away. But then he realized he should be the one running away. The sow stamped her foot, and grunted, a cold smoke like puff coming out of her nostrils. She acted and looked like a mini-bull. I-I’ll go now, Travis thought meekly, backing away. But the boar did not answer his thought, nor did she turn her back. She furiously opened her mouth, revealing her ugly and crooked yellow teeth. Travis slowly stepped back, but the sow lost it and charged straight at Travis.

Travis sprinted away from the sow chasing after him. She was slower, given that she was pregnant. As he was fleeing away from her, Travis then saw something ahead of him. A building! Travis thought, Awesome! He dashed toward the building, which was actually a circus tent, smack-dab in the middle of the forest. Travis rushed and leaped. He lost his balance, and plunged right into the tent, landing on the middle of the arena all hurt. The audience went wild, while Travis had red and yellow stars circling around his head.


Who Is Jay?

At first, Travis did not know what happened. His pain and confusion went away, but before he could stand up, a giraffe’s brown eyes met his green eyes. Travis almost jumped back in fear.

“Who is this?!” The giraffe asked, as she bent her slinky neck towards Travis.

“Austin, listen to this,” the giraffe started, but a green anaconda, Austin, crept up to Travis.

“Well, what isss it that we have here?” Austin made the letter S sound like a hissing sound, “Isss it … Jay! No way! It’sss Jay!” The giraffe looked at Travis.

“Welcome back, Jay!” The giraffe hollered. The audience clapped. Travis was very confused. Who was Jay? It was certainly a mistake on their part, but Travis decided to play along.

“Gissselle!” Austin exclaimed, “he’sss returned!”

Travis chuckled.

“Yep, on one of my adventures!”

“We know you got kidnapped, Jay,” Giselle said, slightly suspicious, “And we heard that you had escaped.”

“Yes, I did,” Travis said. He was an excellent liar and seized the opportunity, “I escaped and ran into the Siberian wilderness. It’s hard living out there, I’m so glad I finally found you guys again.”

Suddenly, a man stepped into the arena. He looked like a circus magician, with his suit, magic wand, and red striped black top old fashioned cylinder hat.

“Ah, Jay,” he said, stepping up to Travis.

Awkward, Travis thought, but stood still.

“Jay,” Austin said, “Remember Brandon, the Magician?”

“Y-yeah,” Travis answered. Brandon turned his hat over, and a macaw popped out of it. Travis wondered how come Magician Brandon had a macaw and not a white rabbit or a dove like all magicians do.

“You remember Randy, right?” Brandon asked, “Oh, I remember when you were just a cub, you used to play with Randy all the time.”

“You almost bit off my tail once,” the old macaw grumbled.

Then Brandon looked at the audience.

“Show’s over,” Brandon said, “We found Jay!”



Travis stayed on with the circus train. He accompanied Giselle and Austin, while Brandon was informing all the possible newspaper, writers, and editors about the return of Jay, the Siberian tiger.

“So,” Travis said, “Giselle the giraffe and Austin the snake,”

“Anaconda,” Austin corrected, somewhat insulted.

“Yep,” Giselle said, “And Jay the tiger.”

“Y-yeah,” Travis said. He hated the name, but kept on playing the game.

They were all silent for a moment, and then Austin spoke up.

“Ssso, Jay?” He asked, “Can you tell usss about your adventuresss?” Travis was sitting on the other side of the train, and looked at the giraffe and the anaconda waiting for his answer.

“S-sure,” Travis said thinking what story to invent for them. “Well, I went on many adventures before coming back home!” Travis scratched his chin, pretending to try to remember the details of his story, “I ran into a white tiger in the wild, it was big, and it was hungry,” Travis said, putting a spooky tone in his voice. “It lunged itself at me, and I ducked,” Travis said, starting to like his own invented story, “So, the tiger jumped right into the air, and hit a tree.”

“Do you know what I would have done?” Austin said, “I would have opened my mouth, and bit the tiger, right on the face. I have poissson, you know.”

“Really?” Travis replied, “I mean, oh yeah, now I remember.” Giselle and Austin looked at each other, asking a silent question: “What happened to Jay?”

“I know I may act weird,” Travis explained, “I-I just haven’t been myself since I got kidnapped.” The three animals were silent for a minute.

“We have a long ride,” Giselle explained, “We’re taking the train to St. Petersburg in Russia, about 19 hours away from here, so we should get some sleep.”

“I’m ssso glad we found you, Jay,” Austin said. Travis curled up and sighed with relief.

Giselle was the first to fall asleep, but Austin was scanning the train for rodents, a “perfect” treat for an evening snack. Travis thought that he should leave Austin alone in his rodent hunt and go to sleep. As Travis was drifting off, right before he fell asleep, he heard Austin swallow some food.


Show Time

Travis woke up suddenly. The train rattled on its tracks. Travis sat up. Giselle and Austin were both looking out of the window, bored. Giselle sighed.

“Hey,” Travis exclaimed, sitting between them, “So … what’s going on?”

“Nothing much,” Giselle grumbled. Shortly after, Travis started to feel bored as well.

“You know what,” Travis said, “I’m going back to sleep!”

“Good idea,” Austin said, “We ssstill have a long way.” The three fell asleep in no time.

At night, the train finally arrived in St. Petersburg. Travis, Giselle, and Austin had been awake for a while, and talked about the circus. Travis was getting used to his new role of being Jay the tiger.

“YES!” Giselle shouted answering some question Austin asked her. She stretched her neck. “YE…” she started saying again, but her head hit the train’s roof.

“Ouch!” She yelled and sat back down.

“Maybe you were a little too excited, huh?” Travis asked. Giselle just shook her head, smiling. “It’s not easy being so tall, you know?” she said.

The next day, Austin started explaining, “Ssso, thisss isss backssstage.”

“Backstage?” Travis asked.

“Yeah,” Giselle said, “props, acts. Jay, remember your act?” Travis swallowed.

“The tightrope walker,” Giselle answered.

“Yeah,” Travis said, getting goosebumps. He didn’t know what a tightrope was, but either way it did not sound very good.

“Ssso, we’re gonna practiccce,” Austin said. Austin, Giselle, and Travis pulled back the curtains and stepped into the arena.

“Here’s the tightrope,” Giselle said.

“Where is it?” Travis asked, looking around.

“Uh, up there,” Giselle said, pointing her long snout to the sky above. Travis looked up and saw a stretched rope, high above the ground. He swallowed again.

Maybe I could just run off, Travis thought to himself. But no, a tiger in the city, I’ll get in trouble, probably even killed.

“My act is the Teleporter,” Giselle said. “Watch!” She grabbed some dust, and threw it all around her. When the dust settled onto the ground, Giselle was gone.

“Ta-da!” She exclaimed, and peeked out of the curtains on the other side of the arena.

“That’s not teleporting,” Travis said.

“Well,” Giselle said, “I guess not. Disappearing act is probably a better word, anyway. Austin, please perform your act for Jay!” Austin slithered up a ladder and pounced onto a trapeze. He coiled his tail and he swung. Then he jumped onto another trapeze and coiled his tail again. He went back and forth, and then suddenly let go of the trapeze, and started falling toward the ground. Travis gasped.

“He’s gonna…” he yelled, but Giselle quickly pulled out a mini-trampoline, and Austin bounced right off and back into the air.

“For the show,” explained Giselle. “We have a trampoline ready for Austin.”

“Oh,” Travis said. “Oops. I overreacted.”

Austin jumped around, and soon enough, he was back, head high, coiling next to them.

“Your turn, Jay,” Austin declared. Travis wanted to tell them the truth, but his body was urging him not to, at least not until they’d be back in Siberia, where he could run off into the woods and disappear.


Randy To The Rescue

Travis climbed the ladder. He was nervous he had to swallow the lump that wsforming in his throat. He then reached the top. It was so high, Giselle and Austin looked like toys to him. Travis swallowed again, and then began to pant. He saw the thin rope ahead of him, and shuddered. He slowly put his front paw on the rope, and the whole rope wiggled.

How was this ‘Jay’ even supposed to walk on this thing? Travis thought sourly. He carefully put his other front paw on the rope, and almost fell. Travis sighed and moved forward. He was wiggling. Suddenly, Randy flew towards Travis. Travis stared at the macaw with confusion and excitement.

“Randy,” Travis whispered, “What are you doing here?”

“Shhh!” The macaw whispered mysteriously, “I know your secret… You are NOT Jay!” Travis was puzzled and did not know what to say, but he listened anyway.

“I’ll help you cross.” Randy sat on Travis’s head, and from thereon, Travis kept his balance. Austin and Giselle could not see the tiny macaw from far below.

“GO JAY!” Austin cheered. Giselle whistled. Travis smiled. He got out of trouble this time. He walked the rope, with Randy on top of him. He even performed a bonus act: he was able to stand on his two hind legs and hold the front one in the air. He walked faster, even ran, and reached the end.

“Bye!” said Randy and flew away just as Travis climbed down the ladder. The others did not see Randy at all.

As Travis was climbing down the ladder, Giselle dashed to him, Austin behind her. “OH MY GOD JAY!!!” She yelled and licked him in a friendly way, “YOU ROCK!!! You really are the old Jay! And you were awesome up there!” Travis blushed as Austin slinked over.

“That wasss excellent!” Austin complimented, coiling around Travis, which was his way of giving him a hug.

“Too … tight … ” Travis squealed.

Austin uncurled and smiled warmly. He held the top of his tail and Travis high-tailed-pawed Austin.

“Now” said Austin, “you are ready for the ssshow tonight!” Travis wasn’t worried; he counted on Randy to come to his rescue again.

“Yeah,” Travis said proudly, “Tightrope act, here I come!”

“I’ll do my disappearing act,” Giselle said, “Austin will do his trapeze act, Jay will do the tightrope act, and Randy will do the juggling act!”

“Wait,” Travis exclaimed, “Randy has an act?”

“Yeah,” said Austin. “What do you think he doesss? Sssit on Brandon’sss ssshoulder all day?”

Oh no! Travis thought, Randy won’t be with me during the show! What do I do now?!


Night Flower

Later that afternoon, Travis decided it was time. He had to tell Giselle and Austin the truth.

He crept towards them while they were buzzing excitedly about the show. When Travis entered, they gave him a warm hello. Travis sighed and sat between them.

“Why the long face?” Austin asked. Travis sighed, and the words spilled out of his mouth like water from a broken jar. He told them about the sow, about landing onto the middle of the circus arena by chance, and then how he pretended to be the circus tiger he was not.

By the time he was done, Giselle and Austin were stumped and silent. He could not look at them in the eyes.

“But,” Austin said, “We sssaw you walk the tightrope!”

“No, Austin,” Travis said, “That was Randy sitting on my head. He helped me keep my balance.”

“Isss your name even Jay?” Austin asked.

“No,” Travis shook his head sadly, “My name is Travis.”

“Get out of here!” said Giselle coldly, breaking her silence. “Yet your tightrope act is already on today’s show. You’ll flunk your act, and once the show is over, we’ll drop you off at the next stop!”

“You pretended to be my friend,” Austin said sadly. “You made usss think you were our friend.” Travis just looked down at the ground, ashamed.

Travis’ act was the show’s opener, and was called the Night Flower. It had been performed by Jay the tiger before he got kidnapped. Travis stepped into the same arena where he had earlier ‘performed’ the tightrope act. Now, I am really going to fall, he thought. Even if Randy came to his rescue, 430 pairs of eyes would be watching him and would know he was cheating … He could not do it. Travis was scared of falling, scared of going back alone to the Siberian wilderness…



When Travis made his entrance, the audience clapped and shouted “JAY! JAY! JAY!” Travis frowned sadly and shook his head. Brandon sat in the front row, watching the show, feeling a little nervous, wondering if Jay would be able to perform his entire act. Travis looked up and saw the tightrope smirking at him. He trotted toward the ladder, and started climbing up towards the tightrope. Giselle, Austin, and Randy were staring at him. Travis got to the top of the ladder, and looked at the thin rope ahead. He sighed deeply, and slowly put his front paw on the rope. The rope jolted. Travis felt his heart beating so loud that he was wondering if everyone could hear. The audience was silent even the drummer stopped his exited beat. Travis carefully put his other front paw on the rope, and almost lost his balance. The audience sighed.

Thank god I have a tail, Travis thought as his tail helped him keep balance. Some young children started shouting “GO JAY! GO JAY!”

Travis stepped forward, putting his third paw on the rope.

Three paws, Travis thought, next one, I’m falling. He carefully put his fourth paw on the rope and closed his eyes for a moment. He opened his eyes and started wondering how come he had not fallen already. Travis looked around. Giselle’s and Austin’s eyes were wide open, but Randy was smiling mysteriously. Travis went on carefully on the rope and then sped up without much effort. It felt as if he had been doing this his whole life.

This is easy, Travis thought. The audience cheered.


Wait, Travis thought as he kept on stepping forward, Randy was right. I must be Jay. I am Jay! And…Randy never sat on my head, I just imagined it. I did it all by myself! But Randy, he knew all along!

Confidently, Travis performed his bonus act, standing on two legs and holding the other legs high in the air. The audience clapped and cheered. Travis ran and jumped on the tightrope, his paws scurrying along the rope.

The other animals joined in. Giselle started performing her disappearing act, while Austin performed his trapeze act, and Randy his juggling act. Brandon was clapping excitedly. The audience was euphoric.

Travis smiled. He was happy. He grew more confident, and was now able to perform his Night Flower act with assurance. Travis knew that he was now with his old friends and that he had gotten his old life back. And then, Travis-Jay remembered how he was kidnapped, how he escaped, and how he found himself in the Siberian wilderness. But now, he was back home, and that was all that mattered.

The End


Jack Lumber was desperate to find lava. He was with his chief. He brought 7 buckets, and one rope. He was in a space station waiting to get lava for fuel for his rocket. He really needed to save this other astronaut named Eli who was lost on the moon.

Suddenly he saw a figure walking toward him. It was his chief!

“I got buckets of lava!” Jack cried.

“Dump it in quick!” called his chief. The lava was bubbling hot. It was orange and a slimy red. Jack was rushing to the aircraft with lava squirting out of the buckets. Jack finally managed to dump the hot orange lava into the fuel tank.

“Thank goodness you came quickly, Jack,” the chief told him.

“It’s okay chief, you reminded me,” replied Jack.

After that, Jack boarded the aircraft and took a deep breath. After an half an hour, he started the countdown.

“3, 2, 1, blast off!’’ he announced into the microphone.

The rocket ship zoomed off of the ground, 300 miles per hour.  Soon, Jack fell asleep.  Once he woke up, the aircraft started to rumble.

What’s happening? Did I kick a lever when I was sleeping? I hope I won’t get kicked out of the space station when I get back! Jack thought to himself.

Jack ran to the escape button and… KABAM! The aircraft exploded. He got in the escape pod just in time.

He stared out of the lava-proof window and looked at the striped red and yellow iron rocket ship pieces floating in space.  Jack thought for a moment.

I think I put too much lava in! I have to tell my chief!

Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep! Beeep! Beeeep!  Jack pulled every lever and pressed every button to try to find a way to get to the moon.  He saw the last lever and thought, I hope that lever can make this escape pod move.  Jack floated to the lever and pulled.


Next a screen rose up from a hole and said in a robotic voice: “He-llo Jack Lum-ber. What pla-net would you like to go to?”

“I would like to go to the moon, hopefully you can get me there, it’s not a planet,” Jack replied.

Jack was more confident because he could pilot the escape pod better and couldn’t get in trouble that easily.

He thought about why he was sent to go to the moon and remembered that he was there to save another astronaut.  Jack reached into a zippered pocket and a picture of the astronaut Jack was trying to save floated out.

He had bright blond hair, a spacesuit just like Jack’s and was 20 years old.

That was when Jack noticed that the escape pod was floating. Jack could see the moon! He mashed the speed button to get to the moon faster. In 30 seconds, Jack landed on the moon! He was so happy.

He raced up to the telescope room and looked through the telescope and found the man! He was west of the escape pod. Jack raced toward him. When he got there, he asked the man, “What is your name?”

The man replied, “My name is Eli.”

Jack excitedly said, “I am here to get you back to the space station!”

Jack led Eli back to his escape pod. Between five steps, Eli jumped up and down grinning ear to ear. Jack let Eli use the telescope to find his missing rocket.

He found it! The missing rocket was east of the escape pod.

Jack told Eli to get a rope. Eli got it in exactly five seconds! They tied one end of the rope to the escape pod. They pulled as hard as they could. Finally they managed to get it into Eli’s rocket. Jack pulled out two buckets of lava from the toolbox in his escape pod.

“Hey, use this for fuel, Eli,” Jack suggested. They poured both buckets of lava into the fuel tank. Jack hoped that the rocket would not explode.

Jack and Eli climbed aboard the spaceship and took off. Jack gazed out the window staring at asteroids and comets. They passed Mars and Venus. Jack stared at them too. The spaceship finally flew into earth.

Jack’s chief saw a dot. He knew it was Eli’s spaceship! He jumped up and down waving even though he couldn’t see Jack and Eli. In ten minutes, Eli landed the ship safely.

The chief congratulated Jack for being such a responsible person on his first mission.

“Jack you were awesome! You escaped that big explosion!”

Jack replied, “Thanks Chief.”

He gave Jack a one month break. After that, Jack invited his children to see him train.  Since Jack did such a great job, Jack’s children could live in the space station with Jack, Eli and the chief.



A Great Basketball Season

One day, a boy, who was 22-years-old, named Jasper, set up a goal to become a famous, rich basketball player. Suddenly, his dad saw him set up the goal and said, “You can get a serious injury.”

Jasper said, “I’ll make sure I won’t get a serious injury because I’ll do a lot of crossovers and break their ankles.”

His dad said, “Ok.”

Jasper was very excited. His mom heard him and his dad talking.

She said, “What if you get in an argument and get ejected?”

Jasper said, “I won’t argue. Instead, I’ll stop people from arguing.”

Jasper’s mom said, “Ok.”                                

Then, Jasper’s parents signed Jasper up for the NBA. He was going to be an undrafted player, so his parents took him to a stadium. Once they arrived there, they met a referee. The referee said, “You signed up to be an undrafted player, right?”

Jasper answered, “Yes.”

The referee said, “If you want to be in one of the NBA teams, I have to see if you play well and have a lot of experience.”

Jasper answered, “Ok.”                          

Jasper and the referee played 1-on-1, knockout, a 3-point contest, and HORSE. Jasper won 1-on-1, 30-28. Jasper won 5 games and the referee won 3 games of knockout. In the 3-point contest, Jasper scored 28 points and the referee scored 24. In HORSE, Jasper had HOR when the referee had HORSE.

The referee yelled, “Wow! You’re so good!”

Jasper replied, “Thanks!”

The referee said, “Well, all I’m going to say is I will go talk to the NBA commissioner about this.”

Jasper screamed loudly, “YES! Thank you so much, sir!”                                         

A few weeks later, Jasper got an email from the NBA commissioner. It said: “Congratulations, Jasper! Based on your skill level, the NBA has decided to allow you to be part of a team. You may pick any team in this list.”

There were only two teams available: Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers. This was a hard decision for Jasper because his favorite teams were the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Miami Heat. The Cavaliers were 2nd in the East last year. They made it all the way to the Finals, but lost to the Warriors. They also had a really good player that won 4 MVPs, named LeBron James. The Heat were the 10th seed last year, so they didn’t even make it to the playoffs.

After thinking for a long time, he chose the Miami Heat because his favorite player, Dwyane Wade, was on the Heat. Jasper also wanted to help them win a championship again. After a couple months, Jasper played in his first game! Jasper was prepared to play his 1st ever game in the NBA. The 1st game was easy. The final score was 118-100.

Five months went by quickly. Jasper had helped the Heat make it to the NBA Finals against the defending champions, Golden State Warriors. It was the last game in the finals and the series was tied 3 wins to 3 wins. Whoever won this game would be the champions. The game started.

Jasper wasn’t in the starting lineup. In the 1st quarter, Jasper’s team was getting crushed. The score was 31-19.

Jasper asked, “Why am I not in the starting lineup?”

The coach said, “You’re one of our newest players and I think it’d be better to have players with more experience to be starting.”

Jasper said, “I’m better than some of these players, and I can prove it.”

The coach said, “Alright, let’s see what you can do, but I’m going to wait until third quarter.”

They were losing by 30 points. The score was 60-30, so the other team has 2x more points than their team. At halftime, Jasper’s team was losing by 40 points: 90-50! He was worried that the players on the court now were going to make his team lose.

The 3rd quarter started. The coach put Jasper in the game. When Jasper entered as a small forward, the Heats were losing by 30 points, 100-70. They kept on shooting three-pointers but missed a lot. When the 4th quarter began, the score was 110-85. Jasper decided to call for the ball a lot so he could swish every three he took.

The game continued. Jasper shot 15 threes and made all of them! The score was 130-130! Jasper and his team made a tremendous comeback!

There were 5 seconds left in the game, and Jasper had the ball. 5, 4, 3, 2, Jasper shot a three. The whole stadium became silent. 1, it swished in right when the buzzer sounded! The final score was… 133-130 and Jasper’s team were the champs!!

Jasper yelled, “YEAHH!” Everyone got a trophy. As they celebrated, confetti fell from the stadium’s ceiling! When the confetti stopped dropping, they announced the Finals MVP award to… Jasper!!

Everyone was so proud of him, especially the coach.

“Good job,” the coach said. “You really proved that you are really good at basketball, and better than your other teammates. Next time, for the first game in the next season, I’ll put you in the starting lineup.”

When Jasper got home, his mom and dad were very proud and happy for Jasper. They started hugging him and crying happy tears.

“I told you I wouldn’t get hurt,” Jasper said.

“You’re really good at basketball,” his mom said. “I can tell you worked a lot and it was worth it.”

This is the best day of my life, Jasper thought. He couldn’t wait to start another season.

The Machine


“So how did you get here?” I said.

I was at my house, talking to the technology genius, Xethen, who was an alien who had kept his designs secret to everyone before. I had tracked him down, spying on him for some time and the only way that I would agree to stop spying on him was if I got five minutes of his time to ask whatever I wanted. Since I was 16 years old and needed money for college, I thought I could make money off of this.

He looked at me like, ‘why did you ask that question?’ Finally he said that he obviously teleported and why I didn’t think of that idea. I told him that we don’t have that technology yet, but we might be close to inventing one.

I asked him a few more questions about how he created his machine that could create anything, but he doesn’t give me the full answer.

He’s hiding something, I thought.

Then I thought of a really good question: “Can I see this creating machine?” I needed to see if this machine was real, so that I wasn’t wasting my time. He happily pressed a few buttons and then the machine appeared.

I was sort of surprised that the machine wasn’t fake. It seemed impossible that this was real. He showed me the machine and a bit about how it worked. He also showed me that it worked.

The machine looked complicated. Nothing about it looked like our technology. There were many parts to the huge machine and it must have taken years to invent and create.

He asked me, “You like it?’’

“Of course I do,” I replied.

I was amazed. I couldn’t wait to try this myself. The problem was, my five minutes were almost up. I quickly asked for ways I could contact him. He told me that I could telepathically talk to him.

A few days later, he showed me the design…


Chapter 1

The Machine

“Almost done!” I said looking in awe at the machine.

“Once I finish this, I will make millions!” Now I thank myself for asking him for ways I could contact him. Otherwise I wouldn’t get this great opportunity.

Finally it was finished. After years of work, it was done. It was the gateway to fame and money. Its bright lights illuminated, signalling everything was working, well, that was the theory. The only way to test the machine for real was to test it out.

First I tried making something simple, not wanting something destructive to happen. I typed “an apple” into the newly made keyboard. After a few minutes, the apple formed. I tasted the apple. Just because something looks right, doesnt mean its perfect. It was sour and very juicy. The machine did its job! My hands touched the ceiling and I almost banged my head as I jumped for joy.


Chapter 2

My Plan

If I wanted to sell this, people needed to know about this. Maybe I had to give people a demo. In case it broke down, I also had to make a spare one or if for some reason someone stole it, I had to make a spare copy of the machine. Afterwards, I would leave selling for tomorrow.


Chapter 3

The Tragedy

The next day, I went to check on my machine. It was still there, like I expected. Then I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth, and when I came back IT WAS GONE! “How could this happen!?” I asked myself. “It was here a minute ago!”

Then I heard a clang sound. It sounded metallic as metal hit metal. The machine was heavy, so the person had to still be in the building. Also this building was big so it would not be as easy to get out.

Finally, I found the machine, but not the person that stole it. He must have run away once he made the noise. It was carelessly left in the middle of the hallway. I did, however, find a piece of paper with a 10 digit number and a note. It said:


This is my phone number. Call me after you steal it.


gdqho fkrqj


I looked at the note with confusion. The last two words were strange. They were not words. They must be in code, I thought.

The phone number wasn’t in code, so I could call it if I wanted to.


Chapter 4

More Tragedy

Today was the first day that people could try out the machine. A long line of people was forming. I felt so happy that this was happening. If I charged everyone who tried the machine, I could make lots of money.

It was the evening now. The line had dispersed, but there were still hundreds of people. The next person in line looked strange. He created something that I could not tell what, but it looked dangerous.

There was a beeping noise,” BEEP BEEP BEEP”

It was rapidly getting faster. Then to my surprise, the person ran away. There was a click. Then a huge explosion.

A giant force pushed me back and it looked like I was going in slow motion. Everything went black and white as I hit the wall. I felt all the pain. I fell and sat there for a minute. I saw everything, everything that happened in the explosion. I tried to scream, but nothing came out. Then, everything went black.


Chapter 5


I woke up in the hospital. At first, I thought this was all a dream. It would be good if it was a dream. If it was, I wouldn’t be blown up. I soon realized that it was real because I saw the alien that showed me the designs, Xethan. He was waiting for me.

He said, “You have messed with my machine which I patented on my planet. The consequence of copywriting is death. So I will kill you!”

I said, “But I’m not on your planet! So the same laws do not apply!”

“I don’t care. You still messed with my machine. You were careless about the machine and let the wrong hands take your illegal copy, and now it’s caused a lot of deaths.”

Then Xethan used the original machine to create a dagger. I tried to get out but I couldn’t move. Once he created it, he quickly threw it and it went through my heart.

“But — but — ” I said. “I won’t ever do it again!”

And those were the last words I ever said.



A Dogs Story

Chapter 1 Neve

Woof, woof! Who abandoned me in this blizzard? I don’t even have my toy or my bone!

Oops, I forgot to introduce myself. I’m Neve. I’m a German Shepard. I used to live with an old man, but he must have abandoned me in a blizzard and now here I am. My top fear is blizzards! One time I got buried inside a snowman when one of my friends was playing with snowballs, and I got trapped inside.

Long, long ago, I lived with a girl. The girl who raised me, her name was Evelyn, and she loved animals. Her husband kicked me out because he didn’t like dogs.

Oh! I smell a girl. She smells like Evelyn! I wag my tail. I’ll go find her.


Chapter 2 Cana

Wow! I see a dog in my backyard! She is black and white, and really big. My dream is to have a pet dog! By the way, my name is Cana and I am 5 years old. My mom’s name is Evelyn. I always wanted a pet dog and my mom did too. She would still have one if the one she got for Christmas was not kicked out by my dad. I have to get this dog to stay still so I can tell my mom.

“STAY!” I yell.

Ugh! She won’t listen! Yes! I have dog treats in my pockets!

“Here puppy, here!” She’s staying! “Mom! Mom! There’s a puppy here!” Great! My mom’s hurrying outside.


Chapter 3 Neve

This is awesome!

After I walked through a forest to find a clearing where I could find somewhere to sleep, I saw a row of houses and a big hill. I followed the scent of Evelyn to a backyard.

Evelyn’s here! Wow! She jumps up and down, and I bark and wag my tail.

“Remember, Cana? When you got a dog for Christmas?” said Evelyn. “The dog we got was her. She found her way back to us. Let’s go to bed Cana.”

Evelyn brings me into the garage. I’m scared of the dad.

He comes into the garage to go to work, because he’s in his job uniform.

“Humph!” he says. “Those girls got a dog again! Leave now! Leave now!”

I run out of the garage into the next house.


Chapter 4 Neve

Help! Help! Never mind I smell human. Oh, I know Katherine and Jane. When Cana was two they were classmates!

Anyway I’m tired! Let me sleep in their bed tonight.

They drag me into the house and put me on their bed to sleep.


“Help! Help!” The next morning, another dad comes into the room to get Katherine and Jane up for breakfast.

Uh oh! Yikes! He sneezed! I don’t like sneezing dads.

Quick! I have to escape before he catches me! Oh, no! This guy must be allergic!

I dash out of the house into the backyard, go up a hill, and go to a random house.

Oh no! I’m lost again! Another blizzard has started! I have to go to another house as quickly as possible.

I wish I could have learned Hannah’s address! She was in Cana’s preschool class. Oh, well, I’ll just go to a random house.

First I’ll go to the next door and scratch the door. Shz! shhhhz! Yes! I see Hannah! I’ll spend the day at her house.

Nooo! Her two seventeen-year-old sisters, Sophia and Lorelei, are here! They like to pull at my tail! Double nooo! Ouch! Hannah’s mom drags me inside.

They’re not only pulling on my tail, Hannah’s baby sister Alicia is here. Last time three years ago, she squeezed me so hard, I almost threw up!

I’m leaving now. “Bye Bye!” I say to them, but they only hear barks.

I go back to Cana’s house.


Chapter 5 Cana

I see my best friend, Neve again! “Hi, cute puppy!”


Chapter 6 Neve

Yes! Now I can take the leash from Cana’s pocket. I know she always keeps one in her pocket. I bite the zipper and pull her pocket open and steal the leash before she notices. Phew! Now I have to put the leash on quickly.

Ow! Ugh! Yes! Mmm! This leash smells like creamy peanut butter! Oh, Cana has her hand on my leash! Hooray! I can drag Cana over to Katherine’s and Jane’s house!

Ooff! Yes! I lead her out of her house and she picks up Katherine and Jane!

Ow! Yikes! I have to drag all three of them and my back is tired. Also Hannah lives up a hill and and I don’t like going up hills. Oof! Ouch! Heeelp! There! Woof! Woof!  Hannah knows what I’m up to!


Chapter 7: Neve Sleepover.

I walk into the house with all 4 girls following.

“We’re going to a sleepover tonight to make plans about Neve,” Hannah said.

They bring me up into Hannah’s room, give me a really special dinner of steak and the best dog food in the world, and then we went to bed.


Wow! These people kick in their sleep.

What a restless sleep I had. Oh at least I had somewhere to rest.

Breakfast time! Oooh waffles! This is the second time I’ve ever eaten human food! Uh-oh! I hear footsteps!

“Sorry! Too late!” said Peter. To get me to leave, Peter started kicking and hitting me.


Chapter 8: Together!

Ok, I will leave. Sniff, sniff! I smell Evelyn!

“Puppy pass around club!” Evelyn cried! Every day, they go to the clearing in the wood to give food to me and also pass me to the next person, unless it was Cana and Evelyn, or Katherine or Jane. I will sleep over at a new house each time.

Soon she found me and the other girls, so they could sneak me in their beds. They all took turns. Cana and Evelyn got 2 days since they were the bosses. Hannah got one day because no one else in her family was in the club and Katherine and Jane got two days because there was one day for Jane and one for Katherine. Now everything is good and the fathers still don’t know about it.


The End

Forgotten Words

Forgotten books, when the pages have not been turned for years. With forgotten books come forgotten times. Parts of history plucked away from our knowledge. We move on. “Things of the past” we call them. Kindles and ebooks have replaced the thousand-year-old paper. But even more so forgotten books take with them forgotten words. With no words means no stories, no simple thoughts to fill your once-empty mind. Words make the sentences that will change your life forever.

“Will you marry me?”

“It’s a girl!”

“I got the job!”

If there is one thing we take for granted, it’s words. We use them more and more, yet, we say less and less. We use them for mindless, selfish, and exaggerated things. The once beautiful words have collapsed. They have not lost power, no, the power is just lost.

But what if every single word was completely forgotten?

A girl with fiery red hair, and eyes that are like the color of a restless sea. But the thing that got the most attention was her skin so pale it looked almost white. She was pointing to the last slice of pizza, sitting there untouched on her frail kitchen table. Thankfully for humanity simple things like pointing were still known. A woman in her mid-forties nodded. With a slip of the hand the pizza was gone.

If you came in this future world today you would cry. You would cry for all those who never get to hear I love you, you would cry for all those who want to yell, but they can’t for they are forced to be quiet. And you would sob for the human race, waiting in silence for a single word.

In and out, in and out. The red-haired girl breathed hard against the cold night air. Every night she did this, walked along her old village, looking. Not looking for a lost cat, and not looking for herself, for what could she find without words?

She did not know what she was looking for. She was just hoping to find it. She was in her old green dress that was so worn out that it made the brass buttons look like gold amongst the faded silk. This was her favorite dress, not because of the way it looked when she turned around, nor the way it felt smooth against her skin. It was because of those buttons, buttons just big enough for a scribble on them. Everyday she looked at them, and everyday she set out looking, she did not know for what, and she did not know why, but she looked. If you came to this bright, pale girl, and you looked at her dress, you would see in the moonlight that her buttons, they each had a single word. A word as clear as day, but for this little girl it was no more than a scribble on a button: “Look.”

A small hand creaked the door open, letting in a breath of the still night air. She pointed out, waiting for the nod to step down into the quiet village.

As soon as her mother nodded she was out the door, letting the winds fill her soundless soul. She was just getting into the rhythm of breathing when a single rock saved humanity by tripping a 10-year-old girl.

As she stumbled down a deep hill, with pieces of glass from abandoned times, and paper from times before that. As she fell she felt an energy rush through her, liveness going through her veins, a feeling that she could say anything. She opened her mouth and she made noise, she grunted, she screamed, and she yelled gibberish. For the first times in hundreds of years, a world unexpressed, a world where crying is silent, and life is mute.  But now they heard, they heard a noise that slowly walked away from them years before, now it came back with every grunt, squeal and wail coming from this petite 10-year-old girl.

When at last she rolled down into a weed-invaded meadow, for the first time in her life nothing forced her to be quiet, but she stayed quiet, and still unable to think. So because there was no word for safe, home, mother, or love, she kept walking.

She walked through the leaves, at last able to notice the satisfying sound of the crunch beneath the soles of her frail boots, and when she finally jerked her head up she noticed small furry animals scrambling around, for they were not used to a creature bigger than them walking amongst them. She ran toward them, forgetting the dirt path she left behind. This pale little girl at last laughed, she laughed with all her might, with all her power, with all of her voice.

Nearby, music played, a rhythm so soothing that she moved toward it with every step matching the beat. Music was one of the many things she had never heard before. It filled her, wanting her to know more. She stepped forward letting the bush prick her thin skin. She stood there, watching the bright colors dancing in front of her, laughing and smiling people dancing around one another. With their fans clapping along to the beat, each one pale and plump with wrinkles around their eyes. They were all in their mid-60s, there was not one child. Yet this undersized little girl fit in though the crowd, mesmerized by the music. She clapped her hands off-beat, and squealed loudly, wanting them to do it faster. Everything in this village was so loud and colourful it just made her scream with joy.

Even the houses were painted the colors of the fading rainbow, and lanterns hung over each doors changing colors every so often, but just enough so this place seemed as magical as it was for the little girl.

She ran up and down the street giggling with delight, it was not much of a surprise when she finally caught the eye of one of the dancers. This heavy, jolly, middle-aged little man was so surprised when he saw her that he did not yell, or go up to her like he usually would have. He went straight to the mayor yelling words that the older man seemed to respond to.

This caught the frail little girl by surprise, and she peered out through the crowd only to see a huge, curly-haired, 50-year-old man talking to a bald, thin, elderly man that looked like if the wind blew harder it would blow him into a pile of ash. They made noises that the little girl did not understand, they moved their hands, and made gruff complex sounds. But they understood each other with no pointing or nodding.

The two men walked along the cracks of the sidewalk speaking and speaking, but to this little girl it was no more than making gibberish with their mouths. When the dancing got so loud and colorful that the little girl could not focus on two old men speaking words she did not understand, suddenly a single word was spoken, a word she saw every day of her life. We do not know who spoke it or why, but this one word was spoken. The word “look” clicked inside her, and she started running up to the men. Curious how they did that, spoke and meant what they said. Not guessing what people meant and not pointing, she eagerly tugged on the thin man’s orange shirt. He turned around and kneeled down so his balding head sparkled in the moonlight.

“So you must be the little one who desires to speak,” he said in a such a soft voice it  was no more than a whisper. She didn’t know what this meant but she nodded. She already trusted this man with all of her heart. He gently pushed her into a big, faded blue house and into a room.  The room was the one thing in the village that was old, brown, and fading.  He ushered her into the small room, speaking to her the whole way.

“I had a feeling that you would come soon,” he said as he opened the door for her. “Now where is it?” he asked himself. Following a satisfied sigh.

He pulled out a rusted key. She had seen it before when her Mother unlocked her box full of old jewels. For the first time ever this red-haired girl felt desire. She felt that she wanted to be home, home with her Mother, home with the woman she loved.

She knew that her mother felt the same way, for you didn’t need words to describe a Mother’s love. But nonetheless, she sat there, also feeling the desire to stay, feeling the need that she had to be here, wait with them, speak with them. So she sat there, watching the man’s every move. With his frail hands he locked the key into place, and turned it slowly. A click was heard throughout the quiet room, one of the only in the this small village. He plopped down a large rectangular obliged, two in fact, with the neatest wood carvings she had ever seen. She was staring at it, at those scribbles, those beautiful scribbles that were on her beloved buttons that laid across her chest at the very moment, moving up and down as she breathed.

“Ahh, young one, you like this, yes? For all we know this is the last book around. Now we know all letters, we ca…” The man was cut short.

As the girl slowly opened the book, she started speaking gibberish. Pointing and yelling as if saying I want to read, I want to speak, I want a voice. All the man could do was nod along. For this man knew how to express his path through life, the color, the laughter, the joy of words.

He could not understand how such a girl could not absorb such a simple thing, but he sighed and moved on, forgetting all of the men and women who had to live in silence, for him they were just people in a far away land not daring to come near. He could not realize, no matter how much he tried, the meaningless of being together, of being in the lifeless world without knowing the love of language. As the sun kissed the lush green hills leaving tints of orange in pale blue sky, the old man sat on the same chair, next to the same book. Annoyance took over soft voice.

“Why don’t you understand? You don’t know the treasure of language, you refuse to learn it!” He bellowed, but the girl did not flinch, she did not move, she just stared into the man’s eyes. The ticking clock gabbed away for the last few hours yet the girl stayed silent, only here and there copying a sound or a movement. The old man stayed as patient as he could but soon his smile changed, it became forced, and his eyes became watery.   

“I-I thought you could learn,” his voice went soft again. “Never mind, but the hope in you, I will bring you home,” The man decided. “Let me fetch my cloak.”

He sighed as his frail body struggled to get up from the faded velvet chair. The girl sat there watching him struggle against his own thin body, a war between himself and his thoughts were displayed on his face. He hoped she realised, he hoped for her, he hoped that she could laugh and play, dance and speak amongst them. He hoped that she could do what they already know, he hoped that she could speak. As the silent room became nothing more but the ticking of the clock, the man kept struggling. He struggled watching the girl who in his eyes refused to learn anything, and she struggled watching the man try to get up.

There was nothing she knew how to do, how to help. So she stood up, the sound of her heels against the floorboard echoing along the room. The man watched in deep thought as the pale little girl put both hands on his shoulder and push him back down to the fading silk chair, and sit in her seat just as quickly.  

“So you do want to learn,” the old man said breathlessly. “Well then, you need a name.

“My name just so happens to be Brouhaha,” the man went on, much more cheerfully now. Opening up the book he continued not even looking at the girl, “It means to bring an uproar, but we don’t know what uproar means,” he sighed. “That page got lost. Many pages in fact got lost,” he stated simply. He opened to the first page of the book, the girl stared at the first word. He pointed his long slim finger at a scribble. The girl’s frail voice grunted, pointing at the beautiful glass window, now showing only darkness.

“Yes, yes … I suppose you’re right.” Brouhaha settled. He stood up, fighting gravity, only to soon surrender.

“Wait,” Brouhaha called, not ready to admit failure, “You still need a name.” This caught the little girl by surprise, a “name” felt important, like it represented something. She nodded fast, she wanted a word.

“Yes, yes we got off subject didn’t we?” he joked. He expected no emotion, just blank stairs from the little red-haired girl. But instead the pail little girl erupted with laughter, her pale face uncertain no more. When she laughed she spoke, she stated that she was one of them. She could express herself.

“My, you found that funny. Laughter … laughter! How do like that name? You can bring laughter and joy to your people. Teach them how to laugh, to love, to speak!” Brouhaha exclaimed. He wanted to go on, tell the the girl all about laughter, about her name. But he was interrupted, interrupted by a small, squeaky voice that sounded like it never been used before.

“Laughter.” Then the girl stood up, and walked out the chipped door without another word.

The next day the girl was back, back in the dusty old room with the shades pulled up for some sort of light. She waited for the man, she waited for the man to come to teach her more words. More names, more colors, more ways of life. So the little girl sat on the old velvet chair.

“Laughter, laughter, laughter!” she giggled over and over again to herself. She kept doing this until her frail voice could not stand it, and her hoarse voice could not produce more than a whisper. So soon she just sat there, speechless, waiting for Brouhaha. He never came.

The next day Laughter was back, her smile not defeated. She sat at her old chair, not worried. So this went on day after day. Every night when the stars were at their brightest, she went to sleep under the same tree at the edge of the colorful village. When the sun came every morning she searched the streets for food, but she was not worried. To her it was normal, she had no deep understanding of what she did. One day after hours of sitting in her chair, she burst into tears. With each tear came something so fragile, so pure, yet so sad. With each little tear came an understanding of who she is, and who her people were. She understood that the people of the village she came from did not know her, they did not know anything. Not even themselves. She then understood, with tears trickling down her face like a cold wash of reality, the meaning of the timeless word, word.

“I knew it, I knew it!” A familiar voice called behind the dying bush. Brouhaha stood up with a great struggle. The girl kept crying, giving no sign that the Brouhaha was there.

“What is wrong?” the old man asked as he brushed dirt off his clothes. His only intention was to break the barrier of the feelings for Laughter to understand herself, he thought that she was crying for her. Nothing more, nothing less.

“You’re not hopeless, you cry, you have feelings. The people will love you, Laughter,” Brouhaha said soothingly, as if it fixed everything.

“People hopeless.” Laughter gasped between harsh breathing. She stared at Brouhaha with large, sad eyes. He realized that she said her first real words, words with meaning. It killed him to know that her first words came from the harshness of humanity.  

“We will fix it. I promise,” he yelled out. He did not say it for the girl, he said it for himself.


One Year Later


“Are you sure you are ready to go?” Brouhaha asked holding back tears, as he helped Laughter get up on a horse.

“I have waited long enough, my people need me. Besides, you taught me well,” Laughter said confidently. With that she galloped out of the colorful village, and into the world waiting for life, without another word.


Dear Brouhaha,

The world lost its beautiful voice gradually, like a dying mind, until it was nothing but a shadow of its past self. I am lucky enough to help it gain back its power.

You once asked me how I came to your village, but then I was incapable of words. I found it my duty to write the story to you.

The people of my village are doing very well, quite a few people are saying a few words. I miss talking to you though.

At night it is more silent than when I left it, for now I know the joy of noise.

I beg of you Brouhaha to never forget what words do in your life, and how they changed mine.

I miss you dearly,



Andrew’s Story

Ring Ring Ring! I looked through the security camera at the front door. I saw someone in a suit and they had an ear piece. I heard him say, “Mr. President, I’m investigating 98 Elm Street. If he is suspicious I’ll send him to court.” I opened the door and asked him if he actually worked for the President.

He replied, “Of course I do.”

I said, “How come you’re not wearing an american flag pin?”

“How do you know that?” he replied.

I replied, “I was the President’s security guard for five years. What are you doing at my door? Go annoy my other neighbors.”

BANG! I slammed the door in his face, looked at him through the window and saw he was out cold, so I went to the couch and took a nap.


Knock! Knock! I got off the couch and opened the door and it was the same guy that I knocked out.

“Fine what do you want?” I said.

He replied, “Are you, or do you know who stole $1,000,000,000 from a bank?”

“No and No,” I replied.

“I’ll take you to a warehouse and connect you to a lie detector and test you. If you’re lying I’ll send you to court. If you’re guilty, you’ll just have life in Alcatraz.”

Ring! Ring! I picked up the phone.

“Hey, Captain.” I recognized the voice of Officer Joe, who was one of the officers in my police department where I was Captain. “We have a case. Someone stole $1,000,000,000 from TD bank. You need to come over here right now. We need to go there and get clues.”

“Sorry, Joe, I’m having a day off. Also a ‘security’ guard of the President is at my door asking me if I robbed a bank and now he is taking me to a warehouse to connect me to a lie detector. Even though I don’t want to go, since I have nothing else to do today, I’m going. I’ll put on our high tech GPS tracking system. And I’ll record the whole thing. If I call, you drive to where I am and bring some back up. If I think he’s suspicious I’ll go to the Police Office and check his documents, but I’ll tell you before hand if I do.” I checked his badge. But I couldn’t really check it thoroughly because I didn’t have a U.V light.

He walked me out of my house. I was starting to get suspicious because if he was a security guard for the President, why wouldn’t he wear an american flag pin? Since he was suspicious, I brought a taser gun and a pair of handcuffs. Then I saw a huge black SUV limo.

“Put your hands up!” he yelled. I put my hands up and he pushed my body on to the car. He cuffed me and yelled, “Get in the car!” I could tell he was getting frustrated because he kept on yelling. He opened the car door and I jumped in.

An hour passed and I saw a medium-sized shack. I jumped out of the car and sprinted into to the shack. It smelled like 10 year old dirty socks. Then there was a massive black box with suction cups connected to wires. He caught up with me shut the door and locked it behind him. It was pitch black and it was so silent you could hear a mouse running on the floor. KKKRRR! A lamp turned on and the security guard pushed me down into a chair and strapped me into the chair. He attached me to the machine with the suction cups.

“Did you steal $1,000,000,000 from TD Bank?”

“NO,” I answered and nothing happened.

“Well I guess you’re not lying, I’ll send you back home.”

When we got back, I luckily had my car keys in my pocket and the car was outside of the garage. I got out and the security guard did so too. I ran behind him, tasered him with my taser gun and handcuffed him. Since he passed out from my taser gun, I put him in the back seat of my car and started it. First, I called Officer Joe and told him, “Drive all the police officers into my neighborhood and have reinforcements. I’m going to the office to check his records. But, leave a route open. When I get into the neighborhood, get closer to the house, and when I get to the driveway, make a circle around my house and block off all the exits and entrances.” Then I started to drive to the police station.

When we got there I left him in the car. I ran into the office and looked through a cabinet with recent crime evidence and there was a folder with the TD bank robbing. There were test results and the criminal looked like the guy who came to my house. I grabbed the piece of paper and bolted towards my car. I drove back to my house. Once I drove through the entrance, in my rear mirror I saw a few police cars from my department drive by to block the entrance. That’s when the security guard woke up.

“Where am I?” he asked.

“You’re somewhere,” I replied. I pulled into the driveway and we got out of the car. I saw almost everyone from my police department in a circle surrounding my house. I asked for one of our officers to put him in the car and Officer Joe and I will look at his records.

“He has already been convicted for bank robbery,” said Joe.

“We have to have a jury to see if he is guilty though. We can’t just throw him in jail,” I replied. I took out my phone and dialed the Supreme Court.

“Please hold, we’ll get a judge on the line as soon as we can,” the phone replied. ”Hello, would you like to have a court case sir?”

“Actually, that’s what I was going to ask. What time can we have it?”

“June 4th, 2:46 p.m, which is in three days.”

“That will be fine. Bye.”

“If you’re guilty just say it.”

“I’m not guilty,” he replied.


Two days later we drove to Midway airport in Chicago. I cuffed the criminal again. We waited in the ticket line. Then waited in the security check line. Finally, we got onto the plane.

EEEERRRR! The plane landed in Washington D.C. “Welcome to Washington D.C, the capital of the United States. It’s sunny and it’s 85 degrees.” We got off the crowded jumbo jet and walked out the airport. I kept on holding onto the criminal, so he couldn’t run away. Otherwise, there would be a loose criminal in Washington. We walked to the taxi stop and waited and waited and waited. Then a broken down shabby Buick came in front of us. Since there weren’t any other taxis we hopped in.

“How you doin’ today folks. Where do you want to go,” the driver said.

“ Where doing fine. Can you take us to the Supreme Court.”

“Why are you going there?”

“This person with me is a criminal that just robbed money from TD Bank.”

“No I didn’t. You don’t have enough evidence,” the criminal replied.

“Just drive already.”

“Only if you pay, ha! Get it.”

“No, I don’t, now drive us.”

Vroom! Vroom! We zoomed off into the streets of Washington D.C.

When we got there, I saw the huge white Supreme Court building. I grabbed out my wallet and paid him $20. We walked up the steps and started session.

“What is your case?” the judge said.

“He robbed TD Bank,” I replied.

“What’s your defence, criminal.”

“If you confess you might have a lighter sentence.”

“ I plead the fifth.”

“Show me your evidence, Captain.”

“We have a glove that was found in the bank he robbed, that has his dna.”

One hour later after waiting in the courtroom the judge said, “The case is closed, the criminal is guilty and he will have to do life in prison.” We walked out of the Supreme Court building and got a taxi to the airport.

When we got there we ran through security, and got on our plane to Chicago to send him to jail.


Finally, when we landed, we drove to the jail that I was Captain of and put him in a cell.

“Hi, Joe. Did you find any information on him?”
“Yes I did, his name is Garrett and his brother is football superstar, John Elway. He probably committed the crime because his brother is so famous and rich. Let’s leave him for the night since it’s already 10 p.m.” I snuck in his jail cell and snuck a GPS tracker in his pocket so if he escapes I’ll know where he is. Luckily, he was asleep. Officer Joe and I walked out the door, said goodbye, and got in our cars and drove back home.

* * *

Garret, think how to get out of this prison cell. Think. Think. Think. I’ve got it! I can take my shoelaces off and tie them together. Then I could whip it and get the key on the hook, it’ll be just like a rodeo. He grabbed his shoelaces and whipped it and got the key. He dragged the shoelace back and grabbed the key. Then he stuck his hand through the cell and opened it. He ran out the door and decided to run to Montreal, Canada.

* * * .

“AHHHH!!!!” I screamed like a train running on its tracks in the police office, “Where did Garett go, how am I supposed to find him now. Wait, yesterday I put a GPS tracker in his pocket.” I called Officer Joe to get him to the police office.

“Hi, Joe, Garrett escaped from his jail. Luckily, I put a GPS tracker on him, but I need someone to go with me to capture him.”

After waiting twenty minutes, Joe finally got to the police office.

“Joe, the GPS says he is still in Chicago, but he is heading towards Canada. Let’s get in your car and go.”

Officer Joe and I grabbed a taser, handgun and pepper spray. We decided not to wear our uniforms, so he wouldn’t see us. Then we left the police office, got in his car, and zoomed off into the streets of Chicago.

“Where are we?” I asked.

“We are at Illinois Central railroad. To get a train towards Canada.” I took out my GPS tracker and it showed that Garrett was really close to us. Joe and I got out of the car with our weapons and ran into the train station. We ran towards the ticket station and got our tickets. We also found our train number and it was 23. I ran towards the map and found out where our train was.

“What time is it?” I questioned Joe.

“5:00 p.m.”

“What! We only have one minute to get there.” We sprinted through the train station and then we saw someone familiar. It was Garrett! He was getting onto the train and the doors were closing. I sprinted, but the doors were closing even more. I made one last burst of speed and was one foot away from him. He put one foot on the train and I jumped to try to tackle him. I grabbed onto him and brought him down to the ground, then he got up and started running and we followed after him. We raced out of the the train station and into the streets. Garrett found out that he was being tracked with a GPS and ripped it off and threw it on the floor and kept on running. I kept on sprinting after Garrett. Joe was following behind and he tripped on a rock. Then I saw two Chicago police officers leaning on their car. I ran over towards them and I asked, “Can I use your car? I am chasing a robber who robbed a bank and escaped from jail.”

“Sure,” the officer said.

“I’ll trap him one way and you trap him on another way,” I said to them. I got in the police car and they got in the other. We continued after him and luckily, he took a break and he was only a few feet away from us. I stomped onto the pedal and he started darting to get away from the officers.

He went in a circle. I was 2 feet away from him. I stomped on the brakes and my car turned and blocked the whole road and then the officers came to block the only escape route. I looked through the car and found a pair of handcuffs and a Frisbee. I grabbed them both and got out of the car and walked towards him to cuff Garret, then he got up and jumped over the car.

I thought about what to do, then lifted up my hand and chucked the Frisbee and it hit his leg and he tripped. I sprinted to him and cuffed him before he could get up. The other officers ran towards each other and high-fived each other. “Nice job guys. What are your names?”

“David and Donald,” David said.

“Thank you for your help,” I said. I took a taxi cab back to the office and I put him in a van for federal prisons so he couldn’t escape. Then, reporters walked me to a stage with many people in an audience. I saw the President.

“Hey, weren’t you my security guard?”

“Yeah, for five years.” The President made a speech then he gave me a medal of honor.
“What, is this mine?” I asked.

“Yeah,” the President said.


“You captured a criminal. You chased him with all your might.”

I hugged the President and took the medal of honor.

The Attack of the Slender Men

One hot summer day in the year 3000, a 12-year-old boy named Justin was watching the news on his big-screen TV. He heard that a few days ago an alien spaceship had crashed into planet Earth. They said that the people in the spaceship were not aliens but they were slender men.

Slender men are basically people who are in a black suit with no face! Justin always thought that slender men weren’t real, but now even though they said it on the news, he still didn’t really believe them. Then he thought that this news happened coincidentally after his dad went on his business trip (and had not come home since). He wanted to see if maybe those two things were connected? He thought that the people were lying so he decided to go and prove that slender men aren’t real.

“Hey mom, can I go on a 10-day-trip by myself on a train to see if slender men are real?” asked Justin.

“Sure, but you need to be safe and show me how you can be safe and be back in two weeks,” replied his mom.

“So I can build a robot to go along with me.”

“Yes, but where do you get the robot or the pieces?” questioned his mom.

“ I could make one myself.”

“And where are you going to get all this material?”

“At the shop next to our house.”

“And where do you get your money.”

“From my allowance, Duh.”

“ Okay, okay you can build it.”

“Yes, finally.”

So then he took his hoverboard and he rode it all the way to the shop of spare parts. He went inside and asked the man at the counter, “Hey do you have any spare parts that I can use?”

“Sure, got tons of parts, what do you need?”

“I would need a motherboard and some screws, wires, lasers, titanium, metal, and some LED lights?”

While the man took the materials, Justin thought, Why am I able to build a robot? It seems like it just appeared in my mind how to do it.

“Okay that would be $100 please.”


After that he went back home, took the things into his room, and started working on his amazing robot. After like 5 hours of working he wanted to take a break. So then he took a 10-minute break and then he went back to work.

He worked on the robot for 3 days and on the 4th day he finally finished the world’s amazing robot. Then with the permission from his mom again he was allowed to buy the train ticket and got his robot and his laser pen. The next day he got on the train and he started his journey to prove that they were not right. About 59 minutes into the ride on the train the lights blacked out and the train stopped.

Justin was confused. His train was not supposed to stop right here. It was supposed to stop at San Francisco. Justin told his robot to take out his laser guns and the robot did and Justin took out his little laser pen. The two of them walked towards the front of the train looking for clues about why the train stopped and blacked out.

They were almost at the front of the train when they heard some sounds in front of them. Justin told his robot to turn on the LED lights to see what that was. Then they saw a black squid-looking thing. The robots started shooting the lasers’ guns but it didn’t work so they broke the nearest window and jumped out of the train.

When they got out they started to run away as fast as possible. Justin started to get tired so he told his robot to transform into an automatic skateboard. So now Justin wouldn’t get tired. About 1 hour later the sky started to get darker and darker so both of them decided to stop and take a break and travel the next day. His robot turned into a bed with covers and they both fell asleep.

The next day Justin woke up really late, about 10:50. After they ate breakfast which was some cookies and a bottle of milk and for the robot it was basically a refill in the battery system, luckily Justin brought extras. After that Justin turned his robot into a segway so he wouldn’t get tired. He also turned on the GPS so he could know which direction he would go. Then spontaneously his robot stopped working. Justin was puzzled. He refilled the battery just like 20 minutes ago and the battery was supposed to last like 23 hours each so he should stop working 3 days later.

Justin was furious. Now he had to walk plus drag the segway with him! So he picked up the segway and dragged it along with him. Two hours later Justin arrived in front of a disheveled house that maybe his dad had gone to because it looked like the house where his dad went on his business trip. It was the same address. Then a shadow came out. Boom, boom someone came out.

It was a guy with a black suit with no face at all. It took a minute for Justin to process what he was looking at. Then he realized that he was a slender man! For all his life he thought that slender men weren’t real but now at this very moment he thought that slender men were very real.

He was going to run but he was too shocked to do anything. But then he snapped out of it and then started to run but he was too slow. The slender man was really fast. It only took a few steps and it caught up with him. The slender man took ahold of Justin’s neck and then it put a sack on top of his head.

Justin felt like he was being carried back to the house. When he heard the door close behind him he knew there was no way out. Then he was put on a chair and strapped him on a bed-thingy. After that the slender men took off the sack on Justin’s head and he realized he was in a room with other people and one of the people was his dad! He was now more shocked.

When Justin first looked at his dad he thought that he was dreaming because it was too good to be true. A week ago, his dad had gone on a business trip to San Francisco and never came home. But then he realized that it was real because at that same moment his dad noticed him and said, “Son, you finally found me but you can’t free me.”

“Why did you get kidnapped?”

“Because the slender men want people who have special abilities. Son, I have a confession to make about you or should I say part of your life. Do you wonder why you are always so smart like at the school you always got straight A’s?”

“Actually I thought that I had that naturally.”

“I actually made a mind thing Justin that I can set so you can know certain stuff without learning it in real life.”

“Okay let me get this straight, you built that machine because you wanted me to know how to build things like a robot so in situation like this I could build a robot so I can be safe?”

“That’s about right, you built a robot to go along with you. Where is it now I want to see it?”

“Actually it’s outside and broken down for some reason.”

“Okay I’ll see it when you get us out of this situation.”

Justin noticed that his dad said “you” so that meant Justin had to get them out of this situation. Justin was now aggravated. This was ridiculous. He didn’t want to do this all by himself. He wanted help especially from his father. If he wanted to get out of this he should help him. Justin tried to reach in his pocket and got out his laser pen but the straps were too tight. Then he tried to take out his remote control for his robot but it was still too far for him to reach it. Justin tried to wiggle out but still no luck so then he tried to sleep and get enough energy for later.

Justin dreamed that he got free and he and his dad got home and the next day the news people came to interview him for his such brave doings and the day when he got to school everybody congratulated him and he would be the most popular kid in the whole grade.

Justin woke up with a startle, it was a sound of a gunshot. Justin looked at where the sound had come from. He looked towards the right of him and he saw one slender man had shot a tranquilizer dart at one of the people.

Justin was very scared because after that they injected the person with some kind of shot! Justin then quickly and quietly asked his dad why they tranquilized the person and then shot them with a shot. Then his dad said, “They tranquilize them because the shot they give them really hurts so they could turn them into slender men too.”

Justin was stunned. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. First he heard that there were slender men and now he was hearing that he had to become a slender man and that meant he couldn’t do things regular people do!
“Attention,” someone was speaking into a high tech megaphone, “Attention fellow people, we are here to take over the world and I’m giving you a heads up that after we finish turning you into slender men we will go attack the rest of the world starting with Los Angeles.”

That got Justin to start thinking. He couldn’t let his beloved mother be attacked by slender men too so he was determined to get his father and the rest of the people out.

Then he realized something. He was wearing a magnetic watch so then he turned it on and slowly the laser pen got out. Then he grasped the laser pen and slowly and carefully cut the ropes and when he was done he quietly got down and slowly made his way to the door. When he reached the door he realized that they replaced it with titanium metal but that didn’t seem right to him. No one could ever cut through titanium. Needless to say that no one could polish it this shiny.

Justin tried to use his laser and tried to cut the titanium but after two minutes of cutting he didn’t even make a dent so then he tried to look around the room for something else he could use to cut the titanium. Then he walked toward the back of the room.

The slender man popped out and put a knife to Justin’s neck. The slender man picked him up and said, “You move, you die.”

He needed to go back to the bed place. The slender man wrapped the strap even more than last time, probably so he couldn’t get out.

Five hours later, there were only 10 people left in the room, including Justin and his dad. “Oh no there’s only 10 more people left to go get the shot and then it’s me.”

Justin was really worried and again scared. Then he thought if I could just touch the magnet button on my watch, I could get my laser pen out again and I could cut the ropes to me and my dad this time so we both can get out and also help my dad.

Yes! I finally cut the ropes in five minutes he thought. Then he jumped down quietly and then tapped his father’s shoulder because again he was sleeping.

“Huh?” Justin’s dad muttered as he finally refocused and looked at Justin. “What are you doing here and how did you get out?”

“I used my laser pen to cut the ropes.”

“Good that’s really good now could you do me a favor and um cut the ropes for me and we could get out of here?”

After Justin cut the rope, Justin’s dad jumped down quietly and both ran to the door while the slender men weren’t looking.

“Justin I think I know where they put a humongous minigun that has bullets that could break through titanium.”

“NO WAY dad, that’s physically impossible.”

“Oh it’s possible all right I’ve seen them putting it away in the closet.”

“Ok fine just go get it while they’re still not looking.”

“Ok but I might need your laser pen to gut the door so I can make no noise.”

“Fine, fine take it but wait I don’t want to leave everybody here and let them suffer. I want to free everyone else too.”

After all that long conversation, they never got noticed just like t-rexes, when you don’t move they can’t see you. They were hiding crouched behind the door.

Then the dad got up and quietly snuck away with a smirk on his face.

Ok it’s been one minute my dad hasn’t come back with a very small gun he is so slow and weak Justin thought.

Finally he came back with the minigun. You should’ve seen the look on Justin’s face, his eyes were wide open, his mouth was big as an oval and he yelled, “OH MY GOSH!”

The slender man turned around so fast you couldn’t even say “I.” “What was that?” the slender man growled deeply.

Then Justin’s dad took the minigun and shot the slender man. Boom! The slender man landed with a big thud. “What did you just do?”

“I killed a slender man with a minigun.”

At this time, all of the slender men were coming out of a room that Justin never realized was there. So now Justin’s dad was shooting the minigun wildly while Justin noticed a little remote control in one of the slender men and Justin thought maybe that’s the remote control that they used to shut down my robot and then he realized, that is a remote control that shuts down any electronics within a few miles. That’s why the train had shut down too.

Then Justin rushed through the crowd trying to avoid the bullets that were shot by his dad. “Yes, finally. I got the remote control.”

Now with the remote control he could activate his robot. Justin ran out of the crowd and tried to find a window, then he spotted one a few feet from the door. Then Justin ran as fast as he could. He slammed into the window and it shattered and Justin tumbled out. He ran to his robot and pressed a button that probably activated the electronics.

“Beep!” the robot activated.

Justin said, “Go through the window and help my dad kill the slender men with your ray and laser gun.”

“Yes sir and I’ll use my laser pen.”

They charged into the room, lined up in a row and started shooting the slender men until they all fell on the ground.

“WE WON!” Justin, his dad, and his robot all defeated the slender men. Then they went home with no fear in their minds and hearts.

When they got home, his mom almost fainted of happiness because she was so happy to see her husband and her son in one piece. Now everybody could live a happy life with the slender men out of the world. Even the robot started to become part of the family. So from this point on everyone lived a happy life.



The Glass Slipper

Dear Diary,

At first, everything was perfect. I was young and my mother and father loved me. Every Friday in the summer we would have a picnic in the castle garden. Now, my mother was dead and my father remarried to a mean lady called Aditha. She has two daughters. One is named Belle and the other is named Stephanie. They are both four years younger than me. They are much nicer than their evil mom. I wish my mother was still alive.


“Elle!” my father, King Hunter, calls.

“Coming!” I sigh as I slam my diary shut and slip it onto my wooden antique bookshelf.

“Hurry up, tonight is the ball!” my father reminds me.

Then I remember; tonight is the ball! The prince is looking for a wife. I hope that he will pick me. I race downstairs to find the servants preparing my step-mom and my step-sister’s hairs. I watch a servant struggle with hairspray to put up my stepmother’s tangled brown dyed hair. I swear, my stepmother has gone through 10 bottles of hairspray this week!

“Hi Elle,” Stephanie and Belle chorus happily.

“Hi,” I mutter as a servant ushers me into a silk chair. I admire my natural golden hair and my blue eyes in a golden-crusted mirror.

“Elle, you’re finally here!” my father booms.

“Yeah,” I mutter.

“I should be off, the kingdom that is hosting the ball is the next village or two away.” He heads for the door.

“Have fun, sweetie,” Aditha coyly farewells to him as she glares at me.

“Bye,” I smile at him.

I don’t know why Aditha hates me so much. Her daughters are so nice. Once my father leaves, she narrows her eyes at me and commands, “Before you go, you have to mop all the floors so they’re as shiny as the top of the Eiffel Tower, clean the windows, sweep the porch, and all the other chores.”

I stare at her with my mouth open and glance outside at the Eiffel Tower in the distance. The servants usually do all that stuff. Also, my father will be expecting me at the ball.

“Mom, she’s never going to finish that!” Belle cries.

“Just let her go.” Stephanie knows what her mom is up to.

“What do you know?” Aditha shoots at her daughters.

Stephanie withdraws and sits helplessly.

“Well, get a move on,” Aditha barks at me.

My heart broken, I grab the gray-headed mop and prepare a fresh bucket of warm water and soap as my stepmother and stepsisters stride out of the door — well, only Aditha strides. My stepsisters mouth “I’m sorry” as they shuffle out the door to meet the royal carriage. I start to mop and mop. Hot tears fill my eyes but I blink them back. My stepmother is horrible.

* * *

I have been mopping for an hour now. I stand back to admire my work. Better than anything I’ve ever done. Then, my eyes fill with tears as I remember how I should be at the ball but I am stuck doing chores. Before I can blink back my tears, they pour out like water from a faucet. Down and down they come as I race outside to the courtyard garden. I lay on the bench staring at the stars.

“I wish to go to the ball,” I whisper.

As if somebody can hear me, a tornado of sparkles form in front of me. I shield my eyes from the bright light. From the bright light tunnel emerges a lady wearing a clown costume?!

“Oops, wrong appearance,” she apologizes.

“Wow,” I stutter, finding my voice.

“Hello dear, I have come to grant your wish,” she promises.

“You mean you’re real?” I stare, forgetting my manners.

“Yes dear, you can call me Annabelle, your fairy godmother,” she laughs.

“MY WHAT?!” Now I’m confused.

Annabelle doesn’t respond. Instead, she flicks her wand and suddenly, I’m standing in a long white gown, a tiara, a lot of makeup, and glass slippers. All I can do is stare at myself. My golden hair is curled and down. I can’t even recognize myself!

“Now, I need your help,” Annabelle approves of me. “Gather a watermelon.”

I skip to the watermelon patch. Groaning, I gingerly lift the watermelon up. It’s so heavy that I drop it with a thump. Seeing that I clearly can’t carry the fat watermelon, Annabelle gives me a hand. She waves her hand and the watermelon levitates, then zips through the air. After Annabelle sets it down I ask, “What else shall I do?”

“Just watch.” Annabelle smiles mysteriously.

She gracefully whisks her hand. Then a swirl of dust gathers. Abruptly, I’m standing in front of a gold carriage with elegant white horses and an attractively handsome usher. I feel a slight pang of guilt that Stephanie and Belle can’t ride with me.

“Have fun!” Annabelle’s lips creep into a smile.

“Oh, I will,” I grin and head for the carriage.

The usher ushers me into a cozy carriage. There is a blanket and pillows. It looks like a bed! I plop down. The carriage lurches to a start. The ride takes forever, but finally, the carriage pulls up in front of the huge grand palace. It has golden pillars and carefully carved stone statues. It is much grander than our castle. I stand up as the usher takes my hand. I step down. After taking a deep breath I head for the grand entrance.

When I get in, my senses are confused. It smells like lamb and pork. There are so many sounds of people laughing and people crying because the prince declined them. My eyes immediately land on the prince. He is wearing a silk suit and a midnight black top hat. He looks around 17. The sight of my stepsisters catch my eye. They are hanging around the food table looking miserable. Their mom is nowhere in sight. I rush over to them.

“Psst, Belle, Stephanie,” I whisper.

“Is that you Elle?” Stephanie looks hopeful.

“You look extraordinary,” Belle is amazed.

“Yes, it is,” I surprise them.

“How did you manage to get here?” Belle is confused.

Before I can reply, the prince comes over!

“Umm, would you like to dance?” he asks awkwardly.

“Yes, yes yes yes!” I exclaim jumping up and down. “I mean, yes.” I calm down and smooth my dress, embarrassed.

He takes my hand and leads me to the dance floor. We start to dance a slow dance. I blush when I step on his feet a few times. I am enjoying myself so much until Aditha interrupts us. She bats her eyelashes and smiles an innocent smile.

“Would you care to dance?” She glares at me. Aditha doesn’t know who I am, but she knows that the prince likes me. I figure that she will probably find out who I am so I race for the door. The prince chases after me. Some people hurriedly move out of the way. Other people swoon over the prince slowing him down. I take advantage of this and hurry down the palace stairs. Midway, I trip and one of my glass slippers slide off my foot. The prince is right behind me so I don’t bother to pick it up. Tripping over my own feet, I climb into the carriage.

“GO, GO, GO!” I holler at the driver at the top of my lungs.

Startled, he slaps the reigns and we are off at the speed of wind. I gasp for breath as I watch a disappointed prince pick up the glass slipper I dropped.

Soon enough, we pull up in front of the palace. As soon as I leap off, the carriage disappears in a poof and in its place is a watermelon? I’m so tired from all the drama from tonight that I collapse on my bed and fall asleep almost instantly.

The next morning, I wake up to find a black-haired girl shaking me. I groggily sit up. Turns out, the black-haired girl is Belle, and Stephanie is pacing back and forth my room.

“Hi,” I stretch.

“About last night,”Belle starts.

I gulp.

“We need to talk,” Stephanie finishes.

“I’m sorry if you wanted to dance with him, it’s just that I was so excited,” I blurt out.

“No, it’s not that,” Belle smiles kindly.

“The thing is, the prince is having every maiden in the kingdom try on the glass slipper that you left behind last night,” Stephanie tells me the truth.

“Well, what’s so bad about that?” I ask.

“Mom is NOT going to let you try on that glass slipper,” Belle warns.

“We just wanted to give you a heads up,” Stephanie and Belle turn around and leave.

As if on cue, the banging of the gold door knocker echos through the castle. Father went to run some errands. Is it possible that he’s back? Aditha rushes to the door and peeks through the window. It’s the prince! Aditha grins wickedly and comes in my direction. Obviously, she does not want me to see the prince. She pulls me up the stairs and shoves me in the attic. She smiles her evil smile as she closes the door and locks it. I sit on the ground and start to cry. I cry and cry until I can cry no more. I plop down on the old ripped sofa, grab a random notebook and start writing.


Dear Diary,

Right now I am locked up in the dusty old attic. Aditha locked me in here so the prince couldn’t get to me. I plan on getting revenge on her later. Maybe I will swap her hairspray with a chemical that makes her hair fall out. Or, I could razor her hair off while she’s sleeping. I wish she would disappear.


Abruptly, a swirl of dust starts. Then it grows bigger and bigger until Annabelle steps out.

“Oh dear,” she muses, “what has happened here?” she singsongs.

“Aditha locked me up here so I wouldn’t be able to see the prince,” I explain.

“Well, let’s get you out of here,” she pulls her wand out.

“Wait, can you make Aditha nicer?” I plead.

“I guess, but you have to do your part,” Annabelle considers this.

“What’s my part?” I am eager to know.

“You have to be extra nice to Aditha for a day,” she informs me.

“WHAT? I am already nice to her every second I see her.” There must be a mistake.

“Observe carefully,” she waves her wand and disappears.

I sit in silence until I am disturbed by the sound of a lock clicking. Is it possible? Is father home? Stephanie’s head pops in the doorway grinning and holding up a shining silver key.

“Did you really do it for me?” I gape.

“Yeah, now hurry up,” Stephanie’s eyes twinkle.

I race down the stairs just in time to see my stepmother struggle to fit her foot in the petite glass slipper. Her eyes become wide open as she sees me. The prince’s face lights up as he escorts me into a chair and slips the glass slipper onto my foot. It fits! All of a sudden, I am standing in the creamy white dress from the night before. Aditha’s mouth hangs open and my sisters just smile. The prince whisks me away.

I can’t believe this is happening. I am finally meeting Prince Oliver’s family. King Royce is very kind and Prince Oliver is very polite. The townsfolk show much favor towards their King and Queen. Queen Rose cares much about them.

Then, I think of my mother, Queen Alice. The people of our kingdom loved her. She gave the poor money. That is why the news of her death shocked everybody. I will never forget our last walk before she got sick. None of us realized that she would get sick all of a sudden. By the time we found out she had been hiding this secret, she had already passed away.

If I accepted Aditha wouldn’t I be betraying my real mother? Besides, nobody could replace her. She knew how to cheer me up when I was sad. No one else made me feel the same way. Aditha’s coronation day was scheduled to be next Friday. I can’t do anything to stop it. I have tried talking to father but he says to give her a chance. My thoughts are interrupted by Prince Oliver.

“Could Princess Elle and I have some time alone?”

“Why of course dear,” his mother winks at me.

“I don’t see why not,” his father agrees.

“Sure,” I shrug.

The prince and I walk up to his room. It is almost an exact replica of my room except it is blue instead of pink. We plop down on two chairs.

“That stepmother of yours is really … interesting,” he smiles.

“Oh yeah, try living with her,” I laugh.

“How do you deal with her?” Prince Oliver asks.

“Ugh, she’s so annoying,” I roll my eyes.

“So, shall we start planning the wedding?” he offers.

“Sure,” I am pleased.

I lay on my bed full from my delicious dinner. Father was very proud and Aditha kept on glaring at me. It will be super hard to be nice to her for a whole day. I wonder why I even agreed to do it. My work better pay off. Well, I’d better go to bed, I have to be nice to Aditha for a whole day. However will I do that.

I yawn as I get out of my comfy bed. I check my golden clock. It’s ten past eight. Only my step sisters will be up. Should I tell them about my fairy godmother? I pull on a sky blue dress and comb through my silky blonde hair. Then I head downstairs.

Sunlight pours through the silver-encrusted windows. It shines on the royal red carpet. I skip to the den, full of energy. I expect Stephanie and Belle to be sitting on the leather couch playing with dolls or something. To my surprise, the den is empty. It seems spooky almost. I plop down and sit. Now I’m wondering what to do. Possibly take a walk? I get up and trudge to the main hall. I push open the glass door. The fresh spring air welcomes me. The puffy white clouds and the perfect blue sky notified me that it would be a warm day. Maybe I could invite Aditha on a walk around the castle. I make my way around the castle and back inside the main hall. Waken up by my exercise, I zip to the den expecting to see Stephanie and Belle. Sure enough, they are sitting on the couch playing cards.

“Hey,” I casually sit down besides Stephanie.

“You’re early,” Belle jokes.

“Haha, very funny,” I sarcastically laugh.

Just then, father comes in.

“Hate to ruin your party, girls, but breakfast is in the dining hall,” he points his thumb towards the dining hall. We all get up and shuffle to the dining hall.

“Hey, umm Aditha?” I stutter.

“What,” she snaps.

“Uhh, I was wondering if you wanted to go shopping with me at the Central Market today?” I ask.

“If you’re up to something…” she warns.

“No, I’m not, I was just wondering if you wanted to go shopping,” I lie.

“Fine,” she agrees sullenly.

I stare at myself in the mirror. I look fabulous. I’m wearing a white and blue dress. It’s quite simple, but beautiful. I skip down the stairs to meet Aditha so we can go shopping. Soon enough, Aditha comes gliding down the marble staircase in her red velvety dress.

“You look pretty,” I fib just so I seem nice.

Aditha’s expression softens and she smiles.

“You look pretty good yourself,” she remarks.

“Let’s go,” I lead her to the big carriage.

“First stop, the Central Marketplace!” the driver, Trevor, jokes.

I jump off and wait for Aditha.

“Where do you want to go first?” I ask her.

“How about we go to Fashion 101?” she replies.

“Sure,” I head for the brick store which has a huge sign saying: Fashion 101.

“How does this look?” Aditha strikes a pose in a blue strapless flowy dress.

“You look perfect!” I smile.

Aditha has became nicer, so I think maybe Anabelle’s spell worked. I’ve been nice to Aditha for a WHOLE day. Aditha has been nice and she has a pretty good sense of fashion. Usually, I don’t pay much attention to what she wears. I’m beginning to think that maybe Aditha has a good side.

“Do these shoes match?” she stands up straight. On her feet there are a pair of silver high heels.

“Definitely.”  She actually looks good. “Umm, Aditha, can we leave?” I am getting so impatient.

“Sure, let me check out first.” She goes into the dressing room to take off her outfit.

We have been shopping all day and I got a few outfits. I’m starting to think she is nice. Aditha comes out. She goes to the cashier and pays. Then, we stride to the carriage.

“Thanks for helping me pick out some clothes; I really like your fashion sense,” Aditha surprises me.


Dear diary,

Today was interesting. I was nice to Aditha for a WHOLE DAY!!!! You wouldn’t believe this but she’s actually nice!!  I hate to admit it, but I’m starting to like her.


Suddenly, my fairy godmother pops out behind my dresser. She smiles.

“So, how’s it going?” she casually asks.

“Great! Your spell worked!” I slam my diary shut and grin.

“No, actually I didn’t cast any spell,” she informs me.

“WHAT?” I’m so confused.

“I tricked you into thinking that I had casted a spell,” her eyes twinkle.

I finally realize. The only reason Aditha was mean to me was because of MY actions, not hers. I didn’t even realize it! Abruptly I recall: flipping my hair, admiring my blue eyes, glancing warily at Aditha’s hair; I was the one who had problems. Of course, she could have been nicer, but still, it was me all along! I look at Annabelle with my mouth wide open. She gives one more of her sly smiles and disappears into thin air. I rethink all of this. From now on, I will be nice to Aditha. I pledge to myself as I lay down on my soft bed.

Suddenly, my head lands on a hard box. I sit straight up. There is a fancy box. On it, there is a card that says:

From, Aditha

I open it and find a pair of delicate glass slippers. They gleam in the moonlight that floods in from the huge window by my bed. It’s like a truce. Even though I’m not ready to forget my real mom, I will make an effort to be nice to Aditha. I have learned an important lesson: look at yourself before you pick out other people’s problems. I carefully slip on my glass slippers and I smile.


The End

Zombie Attack!

Kids vs. Zombi



“I hate homework!” said Tyler, an 11-year-old boy who lived in Manville Town. Ding, Dong!  

“I’ll get it!” Tyler mumbled.

The door creaked open by itself. He was about to get a broom for defense when a nerf dart came charging at Tyler’s face. Bam! A red dot was marked on his face.

“Heeeee Llll Oooo!” someone shouted. It sounded so familiar, wait … was it- “Hi Tyler, wanna go to the zombie convention?” said Austin. “I heard they’re doing a science experiment.”

Two blue-colored strips of paper were stuffed in his fist. His golden doodle, also known as Mike, the talking flying robot dog, stood next to him.

“Sure, but what’s with the wacky, hurtful, and dramatic entrance!” Tyler screamed. “Let’s go!”

They dashed to the path in the dark woods. While they were walking, a zombie leaked from the zombie convention. His name was Steve, and he would do anything to survive. Be careful, Tyler and friends.

Swish! Swoosh!

“Huh?” said Tyler. “Someone there?” Austin looked at him suspiciously.

“Um … I think my super hearing hears a groaning sound,” said Mike.

“Well, your hearing is broken,” complained Austin.

Rarrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Tyler stood there frozen looking at the ugly creature. He stood about 15-feet tall with blood dripping from his body. O … M … G! They all dashed away from the zombie and straight into a building. Bam!

“Ow, that hurt,” said Austin. Crash! Steve had just thrown a piece of concrete that cracked the wall of the building. The three friends sprinted with a screech into another path in the woods as Tyler grabbed a heavy tree branch.

“This might come in handy, especially when we’re being chased by a zombie,” said Tyler.

Ahhhhhhhhh! The zombie grabbed Austin with a wicked laugh.

“Ah, ha, ha!” yelled the Zombie. “You fellow creatures with flesh and brains may call me Steve.”

Tyler tried to stab Steve with the branch, but Steve just knocked him out with a flick!

“HEY!” screamed Mike as he started to fly and charge at Steve. “Give back my Owner!”

Flick! Tyler was shocked as he saw a dead flying dog rolling next to him.

“Tyler, here’s a wand! Turn it on!” screamed Austin as he threw a wand at Tyler. Tyler caught the wand, looking at it with a constipated face.

“IT’S THE MOST STRONGEST WEAPON IN THE UNIVERSE!” said Austin with a very red face. Boom! Yellow, disgusting liquid drooled from Steve’s hands to Tyler’s feet. Then he put it in a jar.         

“NOOOOOOOO!” said Tyler as he turned on the wand. It started to grow shinier and shinier until it was a bright shiny metal wand! Tyler set a cutting-arm-off spell on Steve’s arm until he only had one arm left.

“Arghhhhhhhhhh!” screamed Steve in pain. His arm had come clean off.

As Tyler fainted on the grass with exhaustion, Steve was busy running away trying to put back on his arm. “You will pay for this, literally, I need your money for the surgery!” said Steve. Steve started stomping down the path to the convention.

At sunset Tyler finally woke up, then groaned with anger as he remembered that Austin was dead. When he started to lie down again, he heard an electrical shock on the ground.

“Gahhhh!” Tyler yelled. “Oh, it’s just Mike, oh he’s dead. Hmm … what’s this?” Tyler took a look at Mike’s mouth and saw a letter hanging from it. He took it out and read it.

“Dear fellow stupid flesh creature, I have your friend here and am planning to reform him and torture him to death. Come now and try to kill me or you can just sit there and act like a total weirdo and I’ll send a hoard of zombies with magic proof armour in about an hour, no worries. By the way I’m in the zombie convention.”

Tyler grumbled then said: “Fix Mike, magic wand.” The wires in Mike’s butt started to rewire and stopped smoking and spitting brown stuff. In a half-second Mike was standing on the grass with brand new wings spreading out.

“Ahhhh, robot heaven was not very pleasant or fun at all,” commented Mike, like he was not excited to be alive again.


In the Zombie Convention

When Steve got his arm stitched on, he brought the jar of Austin to a big tank in the Zombie convention. It read:

“Put yellow liquid in here to reform body, and put clothes in to prevent shattering eyes, beware of horror.”

Steve dumped the disgusting yellow liquid into the big container with clothes, then Austin started to reform.

KABOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM! Austin was screaming in horror, and was kicking the glass like a maniac.

“Relax, you can’t break the glass, and I can’t hear you because the glass is bulletproof so it’s very hard. You should know, your weird species invented it. For once, your species isn’t worthless,” said Steve. Austin tried to yell, then started to wiggle in pain like he was doing the Harlem Shake. Steve grumbled something about him still reforming, then walked out the door.

Tyler, please hurry and save me so we can defeat Steve, HURRY! thought Austin, as he groaned with pain.



Tyler and Mike

“I hope Austin is okay. Steve said something about torturing him to death, so he could experience pain,” said Tyler.

Tyler started to train Mike. His flying abilities were a little stupid. He kept flying in circles and running into trees with a shock noise.

“Judging from your super duper new wings, this has something to do with your skills of flying,” explained Tyler.

“Well, okay, but Austin is still in trouble, let’s use the GPS installed in my brain to get to the zombie convention,” said Mike.

Two hours later, Mike spotted a large triangle shaped building that stood right in front of Tyler and the doggy. RARRRRRRRRRRRRRR!

Standing in front of Mike stood Steve. Swish! A hoard of zombies suddenly appeared in the bushes.

“Explosion spell!” yelled Tyler. Burning dynamite spread into the air and to the hoard. The explosion was as loud as a tiger roaring. Gray smoke from the explosion made Tyler’s nose sting.

“Mike! Go and use your weapons from your stomach!” screamed Tyler.

Mike started to open up its majestic wings and an iron sword stuck out of his belly. Then he started to charge at Steve, but he must’ve lost balance because he spun around in circles and cut a tree into two equal pieces then crashed into the building making a giant hole. Well, that must’ve been really funny because the zombies started cracking up with weird noises like, harr! Pla! Wa! All except Steve was laughing.

“What is wrong with you brainless maniacs! You’re embarrassing you and I! CHARGE!” yelled Steve in anger. Tyler yelled an invisible spell and disappeared in a flash.

“Kill spell!” Tyler said. Green smoke swirled around the zombies (including Steve) then disappeared with sparkles.

Tyler mouthed, What the sparkles?

“If you read my letter all the way, it said my zombies had magic proof armour. Now, zombies, use laser eyes,” demanded Steve. Zipppp! Mike came speeding down with the iron sword, fling! He had reflected the laser hit!

The laser hit had exploded 30 of the zombies. But there were still a hundred more.

“Ahhhhhhhhh! How dare you kill any of my zombie friends, only I do that, you will pay!” screamed Steve.

Yellow mass formed in his hands, then he let it go in the air, with one single flick! The mass headed toward Mike and Tyler.

“Protection spell!” yelled Tyler. A pink bubble formed around Mike and Tyler. KABOOOOOOOM! They flew about 100 feet backwards from Steve and flew in mid-air then landed with a CRASH in a tree.  

“Yes! He’s dead!” Steve yelled with joy. “Now I can go eat him, I’m hungry for meat.”



POW! Austin had kicked the glass with all his might.

“ENOUGH ALREADY!” yelled the zombie who guarded the exit.

The zombie startled Austin so much, when he kicked the glass one last time, it cracked. The zombie looked back, then he took out his walkie talkie.

“The flesh creature cracked the glass, we need to do something quick,” he said.

Three zombies came in the room looking proud like they won the olympics.

The one in the middle lost his head. The one on the left had a knife stuck in his or her head, and the one on the right was perfectly fine, in fact he looked kind of human.

Oh my god, maybe he just got turned into a zombie, if that’s how Steve makes a zombie, thought Austin.

Pop! The three zombies took off the glass, and the water from Austin’s tank spilled onto the zombies and Austin fell face first on the marble floor. “Oww, that hurt,” Austin said as blood rolled down his face from his nose.

The three zombies shoved Austin hard out the door, then they handcuffed him. That made Austin think he was the world’s worst criminal.

“We are taking you to be tortured in the Doom of Terror room, but first I need to go to the bathroom,” said one zombie.

A little of what looked like orange mass formed in Austin’s hand.

“What the — ”

“Hey, move along!” one zombie interrupted.

This time, the explosion was louder than a plane crashing.

All of the zombies that held Austin prisoner had been blown up by something, and now the alarm was ringing. It was now that Austin realized that there was a bright orange mass in his hands.


He ran back to the room he had been reformed from, the tank had a sticker that was partly torn off that read: “This will give life-forms awesome powers, it can be use to blow up stuff, CAUTION.”

“There he is! Rarr!” a zombie said as he smiled confidently like Austin had no chance of killing him.

Austin quickly formed orange mass and blew the zombie up, arms and legs were all over the place.

“Well, that zombie was ignorant, probably because they don’t have brains,” Austin said.

He ran outside to see that Steve was leading a zombie army to a place with smoke. Austin thought maybe it was Tyler and Mike that got defeated by Steve’s army. He had to help them quickly. Austin had tried to grab Steve’s attention by blasting a few zombies away easily.

“HOW DARE YOU!” Steve thundered.

Austin formed another circle of mass and threw it at Steve.

Boom! Part of Steve’s shirt burned up into ashes when he fell down.

“Oh, you wanna play?” Steve muttered as he got back up.

Yellow light glowed in his eyes, green dust lifted him up. He lifted his hand up, and suddenly Steve stood there holding a bright sword in his hands.  




Tyler woke up just to see that Mike was standing on his leg trying to wake him up.

Explosion booms were ringing in his ears and his vision was blurry.

Tyler looked in the direction of the zombie convention and saw a mysterious figure that was fighting Steve. It looked a lot like Austin. As Tyler got his vision back, he could see that the figure was really Austin!

When Mike saw that Tyler was awake, he flew to Austin just to reflect a laser from a zombie.

“Boy, blasting me with your powers is useless, unless you also have a wand, you can’t kill me,” Steve explained. “You see, you need to use a wand and your powers to kill me, and your friend is dead. Once I eat you, I will be the most powerful being in the WORLD!”

WHAM! A laser came from out of nowhere and hit Steve. Tyler had saved him!

Austin had wondered why he came back to save him. He could’ve just snuck home. Just then, he remembered that he had saved Tyler from falling over a cliff when they both went skiing together.

This made up for that, they were definitely good friends.  When they tried combining their powers to defeat Steve, he slashed his sword at them. But they dodged as fast as lightning, and when their powers were fully combined, an electric ball formed and they threw it at Steve as he folded his arms to defend himself.

BOOOOOOOOOOOOOM! Dust flooded the area, and Austin and Tyler coughed maniacally. Mike stood there like the dust was the fresh air on a bright sunny day.

“Mike!” Austin snapped, “Use your fan!”

Large fans spread out from Mike’s head, his eyes glowed as the fans blew the dust away. As the dust cleared, the zombies and Steve were nowhere to be seen.

Steve had exploded, so the zombies disappeared and went into the spirit world.

They cheered happily as they rolled on the grass.

On the way home, Tyler and Mike thought they had forgotten something.

“Tyler, thanks for saving my life, I wouldn’t have been here if it wasn’t for you,”

Austin thanked him.

Tyler blushed as he looked the other way. He was obviously shy.

They walked about three miles and still, their house was nowhere to be seen.

They soon passed a sign that said, Right path = Manville Town, Straight path = Zombie convention = 5 miles long. OH NO! They forgot to go to the Zombie convention!

“Mike, open up your wings, we’re riding on you to go back to the zombie convention to learn how to defeat them. Giddy up!” Tyler yelled.


The End


The Race

Once Bob had to stay at Uncle Steve’s house. Bob loves Uncle Steve’s house. It has pizza, it has a park in his backyard, and a magical toilet which Uncle Steve doesn’t know. Bob told Uncle Steve, “You have a magical toilet!”

“Do I really have a magical toilet?”

“Sure you do.”

“You want to check it out?”

“Okay, fine.”

So they went in. Uncle Steve was surprised. We are video game people? he thought.

It was about Sonic racing. So Bob and Uncle Steve got onto a car. The other racers were Sonic, Tails, Knuckles, Dr. Eggman, and Shadow.

“So Uncle Steve, there are four races. Also if you’re first you get ten points. If you are second you get eight points. If you are third you get six points. If you are fourth place you get four points. If you are fifth place you get two points. And if you sixth place you get one point. And after the four races if you have the most points you win.”

Three, two, one race. So Uncle Steve drove as fast as he could.

“OOOOO there is a power-up! Get that, Steve.”

So far they were in second place. When they got the power up they had three missiles. They used it all on Sonic. They were in first place so far. They got the next power up and then it was the boost power up. So far they were really ahead of everyone. They were in the second lap while everyone else was in the first lap. After two minutes, everyone came into the second lap but they were already in finishing the second lap. So far they were in the third lap. When they got the third power-up it was the boost power-up and then that power-up made them go almost to the end. After thirty-three seconds they finished the race. And then they were like, “We’re first!” A minute later, everyone else finished.

On the board they showed, Uncle Steve and Bob were first. Sonic was second. Tails was third. Shadow was fourth. Knuckles was fifth and the Evil Dr. Eggman was sixth.

“Uncle Steve, my advice is to go on the left side,” Bob said. “The race starts in three, two, one, race.”

They were really ahead of everybody except Sonic. He knew the trick.

“Get that boost power-up.”

So they got it. They were ahead of everyone. So far they were on the second lap. As soon as they were in the middle of the second lap Sonic caught up and was first place. But then Uncle Steve and Bob caught up with the boost up. Then Sonic got three missiles and used on Steve and Bob. So far they were in the third lap. Then Steve and Bob got three missiles and used it on Sonic. So far they almost to the end of the race. They saw a power-up. They got the boost power-up they finished the race.

“We’re first again!” A minute later Sonic and Tails finished. And three minutes later everyone else finished. On the board they showed Bob and Steve were first. Both Sonic and Tails were second. Knuckles was third. Shadow was fourth. And Dr. Eggman was fifth. The points were Steve and Bob with 20 points. Sonic with 16 points. Tails with 14 points. Knuckles and Shadow with eight points. And Dr. Eggman with three points.

Dr. Eggman was so mad at Steve and Bob.

“You two weiners better come here right now!!!” But they did not come. So instead Dr. Eggman came.

“I am going to push you out of this video game!”

So he used all his might to push them. Dr. Eggman was so strong he pushed them out of the video game.

“Whatever, let’s just flush the toilet,” Bob said.

So they did. As the toilet was flushing down water was dumped on their heads.

“We are back.” Just as they were back, the break was over. So they went into their car. The third race was really short. Three, two, one, race. So they zoomed as fast as he could, so that Dr. Eggman couldn’t see them. But Sonic caught up. The race was so short that there were no power-ups. So far they were in the third lap that’s how short it was. Well bad news, Sonic won. Both Bob and Uncle Steve and Tails were second. Shadow was third. Knuckles was fourth. And Dr. Eggman was fifth. The points are Bob and Uncle Steve at 28 points. Sonic at 26 points. Tails at 22 points. Shadow at 14 points. Knuckles at 12 points. And Dr. Eggman at five points.

“So Bob and Steve, you got back in?” said Dr. Eggman. “I am going to,” but he didn’t get a chance to finish, because at that point, the last race was about to start.

“Come on! I was just about to push you out of the video game.”

They zoomed to their carts. It was the loopty loop race.

“My advice is to go on the right loopty loop. Three, two, one, race.”

So they took the right loopty loop. But this time Tails followed them. And also there were no power-ups. They were now on the second lap. But they did not want Tails to follow them, so they took the left loopty loop while Tails took the right loopty loop. 50 seconds later, Steve and Bob were on the third lap, while Tails was in the middle of the third lap. Tails took the left loopty loop. So Bob and Steve took the right loopty loop. Both Bob and Steve and Tails were almost done with the last lap. Both of them met at the finish line. After 2 minutes everyone else finished. On the board they showed Bob and Steve and Tails were first. Shadow at second place. Sonic at third place. Dr. Eggman at fourth place. And Knuckles at fifth place. The points are Steve and Bob at 38 points. Tails and Sonic at 32 points. Shadow at 22 points. Knuckles at 14 points. And Dr. Eggman at nine points.

“We got the cup!”

“Now we like to present Bob and Steve.”

So they walked up and got the cup. They did their speech. It took them about 15 minutes. After that everyone said good game. But Dr. Eggman did not say good game because he was in the loser spot. After 12 minutes Bob and Steve asked, “Dr. Eggman, could you push us out of the video game?”

Dr. Eggman was surprised. “Is that really you?”


“Egghead, just push them out,” said Sonic and Tails. So he did.

“Well, now since we are in the real world, I could eat pizza.” So he did.

“What about me?” Bob said.

“Keep that trophy with your other trophies. Seems like pizza is your dinner. Because it is 12:00 a.m. Well, good night Bob.”

“Good night, Steve.”

Well, Bob did not sleep. He was just playing with his iPad! He only slept at 3:00 a.m.! His dream was about Sonic and Tails. And Steve’s dream was about Dr. Eggman being defeated by Sonic and Tails.

THE END!    

Portal to Pluto

Adam woke to something new. Anthony had awoken him at 4 in the morning!

“Hurry up! We’re going to the portal!” he said.

Adam rolled over and moaned groggily, “We already had a big day yesterday. No need to go back now.”

Anthony seemed upset. “Really. You and Nick are always not in the mood for adventure. If you won’t go, then I’ll go alone.”

Adam sat straight up. “You can’t do that! Mom was worried sick about us! Now you’re leaving?! Insane.”

“You’re such a woosie.”

Anthony left the room. Adam thought he heard the door close. He took a gulp. Should he tell Mom? Or Nick. Adam went to Nick’s room/observatory. “Anthony’s going to the portal!” he said.

Nick was stunned. “Impossible! I told him to go back to bed!”

“Well, looks like he didn’t listen. Just get out of bed!”

Adam and Nick raced outside. Adam sprang into the hole, Nick followed.


Anthony was so cold. Even though he had the heaviest coat in the history of the world, he felt like an ice cube. Guess where he was.

“Adam and Nick are such woosies. I feel good over here,” he said that, but wasn’t so sure if he meant it. Gee, he wished he just went to Mars instead of trying out the new portal. “Man, I never knew that Jupiter was so cold, I would’ve brought a thicker jacket.”

Remember that Anthony is EXTREMELY terrible at astronomy. Know the title, know the title.


Back on Earth, Nick and Adam were confused over which portal Anthony took. They knew that the fiery-red portal was the one that took you to Mars, but where did the gray one take you? “You go see,” said Nick.

“You go see. You’re the oldest,” said Adam.

“But since I’m the oldest, I’m the most important brother. We can’t afford to lose me.”

“I really don’t care about you.”

“You need to care about me.”

“I’ll care about you only if you go see where the gray portal leads.”

“Ohhhhhhh… so that’s what we were arguing about…”


“Alright, alright…”

Nick jumped into the portal.


Anthony stood on the icy ground of Pluto. “I really wish that Nick or Adam would come and save my life,” he murmured.

Suddenly, there was a flash of green light coming from the west side. “Still, Jupiter is pretty cool. Wait, Nick or Adam could’ve just come! I’M SAVED!!!”

Somewhere in the distance, Anthony was sure that no polar bear went into the portal, it was Nick or Adam. Though Nick had absolutely no idea that Anthony was in this portal.

Ugh. I can’t believe that I actually went through the stinking portal! Anthony is probably not even out here anyway, he thought, unaware of Anthony’s calls in the distance.


Adam was getting terribly bored at home.

“I do want to see what’s in the gray portal for myself. I’m not listening to any of the untrue stories of what’s in the portal,” he said to himself. “I can name a billion reasons why I won’t listen to any stories.”

1: Anthony talks too fast.

2: Nick doesn’t tell stories. When he does, they don’t make sense.

3: I just don’t like stories.

4: I hate Anthony.

1,000,000,000: I hate Anthony’s stories.

Looks like I can’t name a billion reasons, but look at the number!

Anyway, Adam jumped into the portal.


Nick had come so far away from the portal that unlike last time, when he remembered the location of the portal, he forgot where he saw it. He never looked at the spot because he needed to find Anthony.

“Gosh, I really, need, to, find, Anthony!!!” he cried.

I bet that you would be glad and better off without a brother like Anthony, but Nick needed him for fishing reasons. If he didn’t find Anthony, that meant more chores to do.

“ANTHONY!!!” he shouted.

No use.

“I’m gonna freeze, starve, and walk to death,” Nick mumbled.

Suddenly, two faint calls came from the north and south.

“Anthony?! Adam?!” cried Nick.

It had been so long since he’d ever seen their faces. Then, the worst thing in the world happened (technically, in Pluto’s world): A shower of methane snow began to fall.

“Stay where you are!!! I’m coming!!!” yelled Nick.

He started sprinting south, that’s where Adam was. Anthony started sprinting south, where he heard Nick’s calls. Adam stayed where he was, like he was told to. Plus, he knew that they weren’t directly north of each other. Anthony was way too stupid to know that, so he kept on running.

“Adam!” shouted Nick.

“Nick!” answered Adam.

They met up and they both wondered aloud, “Where’s Anthony?”


Unfortunately, Anthony was something like 1,000 miles away. Maybe actually 12. Even I don’t know for sure.

“Alright, I know Nick and Adam are here somewhere,” Anthony said. “But I do have a feeling that I should’ve listened to Nick. Well, that’s just too bad because I’m technically the oldest. Wait, let me say that again. WELL, THAT’S JUST TOO BAD ‘CAUSE I’M TECHNICALLY THE OLDEST!!!”

“Actually, I am!!!” yelled Nick back.


Then Anthony realized what had just happened. He found Nick!

“I’m coming Nick!!!” he called. “Keep yelling!”

Nick yelled and yelled until he ran out of breath. Then he yelled some more. Adam started to join in with the yelling catastrophe. Anthony turned, looked but couldn’t find anything through the methane-snow blizzard.


Mom was so worried. It was 12 noon, and she hadn’t seen her kids in ages.

“Where did they go? Why? How? It’s been 2 days in a row now. I wonder what they’re doing right now. Are they okay? Do they need help? (They do.) When are they gonna be back? If so, then how long until then? Will they be back for supper?” she inquired to herself.

She really asked many more questions than this, I just wanted to stop writing all that.


Back on Pluto, Nick was still yelling. Adam was doing so too, and Anthony was still looking and turning. All until there was a flash of green light that alerted Adam, Anthony, and Nick.

“What, in the world, was that?” said Adam.

“No idea, so get your research book and start studying, you have a lot to learn, teacher’s pet,” said Nick.

“Hey, who said YOU’RE not a teacher’s pet, too! In fact, you’re more of a teacher’s pet than I am.”


“Yeah, who’s the math wiz of YOUR class, eh? BEAT THAT!!!”

“Oh yeah?! Well, who’s the math wiz in YOUR class?! HA!!!”


“So wait, you’re saying that you’re NOT the math wiz?”

“Yeah. I stink at math.”

“Fine. You win.”

That ended the argument.


Anthony was having some serious navigation problems. He was thirsty, too. At home, he would just lift his head and eat snow. Fortunately, he knew enough to NOT eat methane-snow, for that stuff would poison him.

“Gosh, this is almost impossible. I had enough,” he mumbled.

Then, like Pluto was listening to his complaints, Anthony stepped onto some methane snow, and fell into a hole where the portal gleamed its green glow.

“Well, I did say I had enough. Who cares about Nick and Adam anyway,” he said as he stepped into the portal.

Suddenly, a devil and an angel showed up on his shoulders.

“What are you thinking, Anthony. You can’t betray your brothers like that!!!” urged the angel in her squeaky voice.

“No! Don’t listen to that stupid angel. Betray your brothers! Keep going!” urged the devil evilly.

“What does betray even mean?! No wonder I don’t understand Star Wars movies,” said Anthony.

The devil and the angel shook their heads and disappeared.


“Okay, I’m totally DONE yelling and waiting for Anthony to get going. Let’s go home,” sighed Nick.

He started walking off until Adam said, “Wait, you know where the portal is?!”

That made Nick stop in his tracks.

“No, I don’t,” he said, ashamed.

Adam had no sympathy OR empathy on this.


Nick took a deep breath and readied to fight back.



It was a while until Nick and Adam met up again. They had no idea what was ahead of them…


Scurrying across Pluto, two little creatures named gerocals spotted the two boys arguing. Through their tiny eyes, they were able to track down Adam and Nick during the methane-snow blizzard easily. They’d never sunk their poisonous fangs into a meal in thousands of millions of years. They were the cause of extinction of most species of animals on Pluto. They needed food and now they got some. They crawled hundreds of miles to get a few yards away.

“IIIIIIIIIIIIIII willllllllllllll nnnneeeeeeeeevvvvvvvvveeeeeerrrrrrrrrr seeeeeeeeeeeeeee tttthhhheeeeee facccccceeeeee offfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffff ttttttthhhhhheeeeeeeee Eaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrtttthhhhhh aaaaaaaaggggggaaaaaaaiiiiinnnnn! IIIIIIIIIIIIII hhhhhhhhhhhhaaaaaatttteeee youuuuuuuuuuu Niiiiiiccccckkkk!!!” was what they heard Adam saying.

“Hissssssssss…” they hissed.

That gave them away.

“What is that?!” cried Adam, catching sight of the animals.

Retreating into the frozen ground, the couple hissed again.

“What was that?” said Nick.

“I don’t know,” said Adam.

“Start studying,” said Nick.

“Why don’t you start studying,” said Adam.

“Ok, I’ll start studying as soon as you start studying.”

“Oh fine, but you have to study too.”

“I don’t want to study.”

“If you don’t study then I won’t study.”                                                                

That ended the argument. The two animals started to come up above ground again. They were as tiny as a pebble and as gray as a stone. They tried to sink their poisonous fangs into Adam’s leg, but Adam noticed too quickly.

“Get them off of me!” he yelled.

He slapped them off of his leg. The two hissed loudly. Screaming, the two boys ran off into the methane blizzard. Unfortunately, they didn’t know how fast the two animals were. They easily caught up to them. Nick bravely picked up one of them. The other tried to bite him.

Adam quickly picked up the other one and Nick ripped the other one’s head off. Adam was too much of a woosie to rip the other one’s head off.

“Just do it,” said Nick.

“But I don’t want to,” said Adam.

“Whatever, then I’ll do it myself!” yelled Nick.

He ripped the other one’s head off.


Anthony felt a little glum for leaving his brothers behind. As much as he wanted to go back to Pluto, or Jupiter, as he would call it, he would rather stay home and betray his brothers, whatever that meant. The choice of staying home was more appealing to him by 1,000,000,000,000 (a trillion, in case you were wondering), other than make his life more hard and heroic by going into the portal.

“Honey! Can you go get your brothers!? They’ve been gone for hours,” called Mom.

“Do you know who you’re talking to!? I’m Anthony, the one who doesn’t care about his brothers or you!” shouted Anthony.

“You’re grounded, Anthony. Get into the house!”

Anthony didn’t hesitate. He jumped into the portal to Mars.


Nick and Adam were traveling across Pluto for hours. Each one had been looking out for the strange creatures they came across earlier in the day.

“Are you really sure that you’re sure that you have know idea where the portal is?” Adam asked for the thousandth time.

“Yes,” Nick sighed.

Suddenly, Adam fell into the same hole that Anthony fell into, and it had the portal in it!!!

Adam didn’t tell Nick, but did jump right in.


“I think I want to go home now,” said Anthony.

He went in at the same time as Adam!


Adam was flying through space with a speed so fast when suddenly, SLAM!!!  Adam and Anthony bumped into each other and stopped.

“COSMIC JAM!!!” cried Adam.

“What’s a ‘cosmic jam?’” asked Anthony.

“I have no clue. I just invented it now because we ‘jammed’ in the ‘cosmos.’ Get it? Whatever.”

“No. What are the cosmos, anyway?”

“Never mind.”  

Looking around, Anthony said, “Why are we here?”

No one knew. Suddenly, there was a zooming faraway noise that alerted them both. It was Nick. “Hi Nick!!!” yelled Anthony.

“He can’t hear you. He’s going, like 8 miles- per- second!” exclaimed Adam.

“Okay. Let’s not get too specific here. I have no idea what you’re talking about now. Slow it down.”

SLAM!!! Nick smashed into the two with tremendous speed and impact. Adam and Anthony were shot back so powerfully that Anthony felt like his face would rip off. Nick saw a flash of green light billions of miles away.

“Oh shoot. Was that Adam and Anthony that just got shot back to Earth?” he whined.

He took a look around. Around him was nothingness.

“Let me get this straight. I am stuck in this magical tube that glows a very dim white light and have no way of getting home. I just shot Adam and Anthony back to Earth, but I didn’t go anywhere. I’m supposed to be flying as fast as light! I hate my life.”

Then, there was a tremendous roar behind him. Nick turned to reveal a fuzzy, white…


“Oh shoot. I’m home. Someone took a bite out of the portals (Get it? The polar bear?). Can’t go anywhere but where I’m supposed to be when you’re grounded. Home,” moaned Anthony.

“I don’t know what insane thought you have in your mind, Anthony. I’m delighted to be home,” sighed Adam.

“Don’t you go all fancy words on me,” growled Anthony, holding up his fist.

“You mean vocabulary?” asked Adam.


“Just saying.”  

“Anthony, get up here!” called Mom.

Anthony lazily climbed up the hole and went to bed. Adam stayed and watched as the portals recovered. He heard calls and roars coming from the gray portal. It sounded like Nick.

“Nick! I’m coming!” called Adam.

He shoved a stick (which was very long) into the portal, but held on to the other end urgently. Nick saw it while fighting and grabbed it, then pulled himself out of the cosmic jam without getting killed by the polar bear. There was a blinding flash of green light and Nick appeared in front of Adam.

“Shall we?” asked Adam.

“We shall,” answered Nick.

They got up and out of the hole. They fished, then ate, then drank, then slept. “Tomorrow, there should be another portal,” whispered Adam as they drifted off to sleep.


The PORTAL series isn’t over! There are STILL MORE BOOKS!!! 🙂 Don’t miss PORTAL to the ASTEROIDS. The book is great!  Here, this is illegal to my code, but I’m doing it anyway. Here’s a preview of the next book, PORTAL to the ASTEROIDS:

Adam was gracefully moving across the rocky landscape.

“Man, where am I?” questioned Adam.

He was climbing around ever since he suddenly saw a brown light flash in front of him.  Something told him this wasn’t right. It wasn’t a planet for sure, it wasn’t a moon, so what was it? Adam was confused as he observed the ground once again. It was a grayish-brownish color and was very cold.

“I wonder if I’ll ever see home again,” he gulped.


Special thanks to my wonderful teachers who got me thinking and got my creative juices flowing, Emily and Kira. Also, to my mom and dad, who got me interested in writing.


Prised story to me

Little bit of time to make

Utterly funny

Time wasting awesomeness

Ought to be written by ME




One day, Phil the security guard saw a guy barge in through the floor.

“Yo, we have a problem, a few dudes barged in,” Phil said.

“Oh yes, I forgot to tell you, I am Phil the night guard for the mall,” Phil said.

Suddenly a guy came out of nowhere and said, “Surrender the mall or we will


“Whoa, let’s not get wild here. I am just the night guard,” Phil said calmly.

“Yeah, he is right. He is just a bad security guard,” said a bad guy.

Phil got mad. He started to jump on one of the bad guys.

“Oh, I see you have gotten angry. Well here comes some more bad guys,” yelled another bad guy.

Phil took out a blaster. “I will shoot if i need to!” yelled Phil.

The bad guys ran away, but they left something. It was an ID. It had a picture of the blue burglars setting off bombs underground.

“The blue burglars?” Phil questioned.

I need to learn more about this gang, Phil thought.

So Phil went to his computer and it said the blue burglars are the world’s most dangerous gang. They have been wanted for 20 years.

They steal and they wear blue and white shirts and a ski mask. On May 15th, they plan to blow up New York with bombs underground. 11 days left, he thought to himself.

“I live in New York. I need to save it so I must quit my job to save New York,”said Phil. The next day Phil told his boss he was quitting.

“Phil, I get it. You have been doing the job for a long time. You deserve to quit. But call me,” said the boss.

“Thanks for understanding,” Phil said.

And off he went to save New York from the bombs.

“First I need a defense base,” Phil said. So he bought bricks at the hardware store and he started building. Soon the lair was built and it had cannons and tanks. “Yay, the lair is made,” yelled Phil. Suddenly a burglar broke in and he did not get past the defenses. “YES!” Phil yelled! That proved that maybe Phil was ready to save New York.

Phil had to go home. He saw his wife at the door. She was happy that he was home.

But Phil did not tell about the bombs. He wasn’t ready yet to tell her about his plan.

“Today was the day I had to quit,” Phil said.

“Why?” she asked. By the way, her name was Jenny.

“Um.. well the rules, they were unfair,” Phil fibbed.

“Okay,” she said.

“Yeah, they said it is okay to smoke in the mall and skateboard so I quit,” Phil said.

“You know you could have just gone on strike,” Jenny said.

“Fine. There are bombs under New York,” Phil said.

“WHAT??” Jenny yelled.

“Look, it is my job to save New York,” Phil calmly said.

“Well it looks like you are saving New York. That is pretty brave of you,” said Jenny. Phil left before Jenny said another word. Phil went through New York finding a hole that led to the bombs. Phil walked and walked until he saw the hole.

“YES, I am there finally there!” Phil yelled.

“Not so fast! This is for the blue burglars only,” said a bad guy. Phil took out a bat and knocked him out. Phil started to worry. The hole was very deep.

“Do not worry, it is just a little drop,” he thought to himself. Suddenly a worker pushed Phil in the hole.


Phil woke up in a dark place. It was as big as a football field. “Wow, that was intense,” Phil said. Phil was very scared. He started to think that he would be stuck here forever.

“Phil, it is me your boss, Tom,” a voice said in the dark.

“My boss?” Phil said.

Phil walked closer to the voice.

“Phil, slavery is happening in this hole,” his boss, Tom, said.

“WHAT?” Phil said.

“It is true. I have been pushed down in the hole,” Tom said.

“Do you know about the bombs?” Phil said.

“Yes, I do know. I went to the hole to help you because I realized that the whole reason you quit was because you wanted to save New York so I decided to help you, but I got captured,” Tom said.

Phil started to run and save his boss. The bombs will explode in ten days. Tom tried to escape but the blue burglars started to punch him hard. Then Phil took out his blaster and he started to shoot. Suddenly more of them came and they were wearing green masks.

“Who the heck are the guys with the green masks?” the master of the blue burglars said. His name was John. Everyone was confused. People started to go mad.

Phil needed more help so he called 911. Phil and his boss escaped but they needed to return before ten days when the bombs go off. The next day, Phil woke up and looked out the window. There were holes all over the place. Phil was really scared. Phil heard a scream and it sounded like Jenny. Phil ran and ran until he could not run any longer. His legs were very tired. Then he saw Jenny about to be pushed into a hole. Phil ran as fast as he could before Jenny fell. Phil jumped but then fell in. Jenny made it to safety but poor Phil did not make it.

“Oh no, did Phil die?” cried Jenny. Suddenly, something lifted Phil into the sky. It was a miracle! Phil was flying but it was just a dream anyway. He could not fly, he was just dreaming. Suddenly, he woke up feeling very sick. Phil was very weary. He felt like he needed to throw up. Then his belly ached. It felt like he had to take a sick day today. Phil was not doing too well. He started to feel dizzy and then he got a headache and started coughing.

Phil could not move one bit. “Oh my gosh, this is so painful.” Phil needed Jenny but she was at the supermarket. “Oh, I am very sick and I really need medicine,” Phil thought. Everything was terrible. He had to use the bathroom but he could not move. He was trying to call 911 but he could not reach the phone. It took a long time until he got the phone.

He dialed 911 and then Phil heard a knock! Phil was happy 911 was here. Now that 911 was here he could have help. So the paramedics did what they could but he still felt sick. All their advice did not work for some reason.

“Phil, I am very sorry but we can not help you. You may have to go to get surgery done,” the paramedic said.

But that is when a boy walked in the house.

“Hello, my name is Colton I am looking for a home because I don’t have one,” said Colton.

“Well I do not know because I am sick. I don’t think that I can take care of you right now,” Phil said. Jenny walked in all worried about Phil.

“Phil, are you okay? I heard that you were sick and you called 911,” Jenny calmly said.

“Jenny, I may need to get surgery,” Phil said.

“WHAT?” Jenny yelled.

“And I also met a boy named Colton,” Phil says.

“Hello,” Colton says.

“Phil, I do not think we could have a kid with surgery and everything. I think we can not keep Colton,” Jenny says. Then Jenny brought Phil to the hospital for surgery.

Colton was sad that he had to leave. But then he got captured by the blue burglars.

Meanwhile, Phil was done with the surgery. But Phil still had to stay at the hospital for at least one night. Phil slept and dreamed about Colton all alone on the street. Phil woke up and he zipped out of the hospital to find Colton.

“Read all about it! A young boy named Colton gets captured!” the newspaperman yelled.

“Wait, Colton got captured?” yelled Phil.

“Where is Colton?” Phil said.

“Underground,” Newspaperman said.

Phil went in the hole again.

He looks at the timer. Two days left before- BOOM!

Phil ran to save Colton. He saw someone. It looked like someone he knew, but the person disappeared. He then just walked away thinking that it was nothing. Phil kept going and then he saw Colton in a cage. He had an idea. He could jump on a rope, swing down and kick the blue burglars in the face.

So he tried doing it but it was not as awesome as he expected.

Phil swung down and yelled, “HIYAH!!!” and then he fell and the rope hit a blue burglar. They got mad and took out blasters they were about to shoot when his boss kicked them in the face!!!

“Let me in on some of them!” yelled Phil.

Phil started punching them. It was like a duet of combat! Phil saved Colton and they escaped the hole. The next day, Phil was scared that the bomb would go off and he would not stop it. He decided that night he was going to stop the bomb. Phil was miserable all day. He kept on thinking about the bomb. What if the timer was tricking him and it was on a different day? Every single second he felt scared. This was a big risk for Phil. Phil worried and worried until he saw someone. It was the mysterious person from the hole.

“Hello,” Phil said.

“Quiet!” the person said

“Who are you?” Phil asked.

“I am Galactic but you can call me Glen,” Glen said.

“I am Phil,” he said.

“I need help. Can you help me stop a bomb?” Phil said.

“Sure,” said Glen.

They met in five hours.

“Ok, it is time to stop the bomb!” Phil yelled.

They jumped in the hole. They had two hours left until the bomb explodes.

Phil jumped and took out his blaster.


Glen started to take out a blaster too. Then all the guards were destroyed and John the master died. Phil then ran to the bomb. He saw two wires. He did not know which one to cut. The colors were red or blue. Phil thought. He made a decision.

He cut a wire and then…

Everyone was silent for a moment. He held his breath.

Phil looked at the bomb. It was stopped.

“YAY!” everyone yelled.

Colton came running up to Phil and hugged him. Phil smiled and decided to ask Colton to come live with them. Phil realized the house was too quiet and they needed some fun!

Phil’s family was safe from danger. It was true. Phil was a hero!


Read Phil 2

Coming Soon Fall 2015

“Phil is back in the sequel, Phil 2 defender of NEW YORK!!!!!”

Here’s the beginning of the sequel:

Phil was at home with Colton.

“Colton, why not we go on a little adventure,” Phil said

“I love adventure!” yelled Colton! So Colton and the family went on a adventure. Five minutes later- worst adventure EVER!!!




But they do not know what awaits them…


Old Man

Steve is 87. He is trying to get to his house from the supermarket. He has a cane. Steve wants to be independent because he wants to do stuff on his own. He thinks he can do things but he realizes that he needs help doing all that stuff. He can’t really shop on his own- he has a hard time carrying it all back because he isn’t very strong. He needs someone to help. So he goes to a retirement home. All the people there are really mean. He is just unhappy because he thought he could do stuff that he wanted to do on his own but he can’t. He feels ashamed of himself, so he went back to his real house on his own one year later. He let his kids go away but he actually needs them. They are on a trip for a year. His kids are on a trip to Mexico tasting different foods. He had a hard time cleaning around the house, fixing old broken stuff like old chairs, and most of all, grocery shopping.

As he gets home, all the groceries fall through the bag onto the ground and make a big mess. There are tomatoes and spilled milk and spinach and celery and salad stuff. There is also a little box of cookies. He remembers when he was little that on the Fourth of July he couldn’t light a firework but his brothers could. This was because he was the youngest and his mom and dad didn’t trust him. When he went grocery shopping with his mom and dad, he couldn’t carry the milk and the eggs and all the heavy stuff because he wasn’t strong enough. So now, he gets people to help him just like he had to when he was younger. He’s sick of this! He only got to carry snacks as a kid and now he spills milk

In a couple of days, his kids are coming back to help him. He decides to fight through those days and get stuff he needs to get done until they come. He tries to fix a broken chair. His hands shake while putting the nail in the chair, and he struggles while hitting the nail with a hammer. He’s a little scared because if he messes up, he’ll go back to the retirement home. He doesn’t like that; things are breaking there, and not all the people are nice. He doesn’t have any friends there. At home, he likes being by himself. He’s more comfortable because he knows where everything is. He’s lived there for nine years.

It’s a dark blue house with a few bedrooms and circular windows. There is a pool in the backyard. There is also a wooden fence painted red. The lawn is all bright green grass.

One day before his kids get back, Steve gets hurt by a broken chair. Steve was sitting in the chair when the chair fell and Steve hurt his back. It hurt really, really, really bad. He cannot get up! He calls the police to get some help. The ambulance comes and they put him in a stretcher. They bring them to the hospital. Steve is nervous because he broke his back and doesn’t want to go to the retirement home. He has surgery but he doesn’t remember because they give him sleepy gas. When he wakes up he is still sleepy.

His kids Nina and Nick are at his house. When he wakes up, they say, “You need to go back to the retirement home. You broke your back and you need someone to help you.”

He is sad and disappointed because he has to go back. “I agree with you because I broke my back and no one’s here to watch me.”

He thought his kids were staying with him but they are not staying. Nina works at a movie theatre. Nick is working at a corndog stand. Steve cannot bring any furniture to the retirement home. He has a vase he really likes but isn’t allowed to bring. He can only bring his clothes. He keeps the vase in his house. The furniture at the retirement home reminds him of a hotel.

Steve makes a new friend named Sarah. Sarah is 69 and used to teach the fourth grade. Sarah really liked her job because she loves teaching people. She also had a really bad fall. Sarah fell off a horse and had to come to the retirement home. She can still walk, but only a little bit, and has to use a cane. Even though she is 69, she still has brown hair. Because Sarah and Steve became such good friends, he didn’t hate the retirement home as much anymore.

Larry, UFO, and Boston

“Hey Boston, what are you barkin’ at?” asked Larry.

“What the heck is that?” Larry said again. WHOOSH! “That’s a UFO!” exclaimed Larry.

Boston walked up as he got sucked in and Larry jumped and grabbed him and got sucked in too. WHOOSH! They were sucked in by a blue light.


Larry and Boston walked around the spaceship and Larry said, “Maybe this isn’t so bad.” They heard an alien noise getting louder towards them.

Larry and Boston ran and jumped behind a weird-looking orange bush with black stripes. They heard the aliens saying, “I think we picked up something from the planet Earth.”

Larry whispered, “Woah…they speak English.”

As the two aliens walked away, Larry and Boston kept walking. They were in deep space. Boston tripped on this thing sticking out of a bookcase and the bookcase opened just a little bit! Larry helped Boston up and pushed the bookcase open and saw a bunch of gadgets.

There were blasters, guns, and other weird things. Boston saw something that looked like a bone. He jumped up and bit it and it blasted through the bookcase.

Larry yelled, “WOAH! Don’t touch that, Boston!”

A familiar voice said, “Who said that?”

“Evan, is that you?” Larry said into the darkness.

“How do you know my name?” the voice said back.

“Evan, it’s me! Larry!”

Evan yelled, “Larry!”

Evan looked over and saw Larry and Boston. They did their secret handshake. They gave each other high-fives and fist bumps.

“The last time I saw you was when we were still in middle school,” Larry said. “I thought you were on vacation since I didn’t see you for a month. I started looking for you.”


“Bye Evan. See you tomorrow,” said Larry when he last saw him.

”Do you remember Boston?” asked Larry.

“Yep,” Evan said.

Evan showed Larry and Boston to a room in the spaceship that looked a living room on Earth. “Wow!” Larry said.

“I found this place when I first got here,” Evan said.

“Let’s go over plans,” said an alien nearby.

Larry and Evan both said, “THE PLANS!”

Evan, Larry, and Boston followed the alien undetected to the control room where they saw the leader of the aliens. He had a square head with a normal alien body. His body was green and his head was blue.

The leader alien said, “FDG YIU ASDXZWH GFXDN.”

Evan and Larry realized that the leader alien didn’t speak English and he had a translator who told the aliens what to do

Translator alien said, “GET THE WEAPONS READY.”

“DRFPT GTY DRGFEW,” the leader said.

“Moragh said, THANK YOU SMORGLF,” Smorglf said.


Evan, Larry, and Boston raced down the hall and jumped behind a yellow bush with green and black stripes. Aliens walked behind them towards where they met in the UFO.

“Where we were must be where the weapons are!” said Evan.


They all raced to where the weapons were. They got there before the aliens and they took all the weapons and ran to a secret room that only the head alien knew about. They got in by stepping on a panel.


The aliens saw that the weapons were gone. They looked everywhere except the room that Evan, Boston, and Larry were in because they didn’t know about it.


Smorglf said, ¨Ooooo.”

Another alien said, ¨What did Moragh say?¨

¨Shut up Bloghj, no Moragh, and Moragh said DID YOU LOOK IN THE SECRET ROOM?” Smorglf said.


Smorglf started to say ¨Mora…¨

“WHAT DID HE SAY,” Bloghj said.

Moragh slapped his forehead.

“Like I was going to say before I was rudely interrupted,” eyeing Bloghj, Moragh said, “SO WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!”

They raced off.

Meanwhile Boston, Evan and Larry were overheard. They raced out.


They found them face to face with all of the aliens on the UFO. They blasted most of them with the gadgets that they figured out how to use. They pressed buttons and they fired but they didn’t know which button did what though. They took about half of the aliens out. The other half avoided the shots and attacked but they took half of that half out too. Boston bit most of the aliens that were alive. Two were left. It was Smorglf and Bloghj.


They ran to Moragh.

He said, ¨FTG CDR ASP CWQI?!¨

Smorglf said, ¨Moragh said,’ WHY ARE YOU HERE?!’¨

¨Oh we’re here because every other alien was killed by people from the planet earth with the gadgets, SIR,” said Bloghj.

¨Fgh nj awsedf,¨ Moragh said.

¨Get out his armor,¨ Smorglf told Bloghj.

Bloghj got it out quick.


Meanwhile Evan, Boston, and Larry turned the UFO around on a path to earth. A few hours later, Moragh was wandering the UFO with his armor on when he saw Larry.

He said, ¨GHUJ RFTG!!!¨

Larry said, ¨WHAT??!!¨



Boston barked and ran in front. They shot Moragh in the ankle with A-K4-7’s that the aliens had. Moragh fell down.

¨He’s only down for a brief moment, let’s move, move, move!¨ said Larry.

They found Smorglf and Bloghj and they said they hated their life and they wanted to go home with Larry and Evan. They said maybe.

They tagged along.

“Hey, do you know that our planet stinks, it is always cold, wet, and dirty. It’s a horrible place. Far less place to live, I mean it just stinks,” said Smorglf.

“Wow that stinks, really stinks,” said Larry.

“No joke. It stinks. Very very far from perfect,” Bloghj sadly said.

“Is that why you tried to take over earth?” asked Evan.

“Yes,” Smorglf and Bloghj said.


“What was that?” Evan asked as he slammed into a wall.

“IT’S THE ATMOSPHERE!!” yelled Bloghj.

“AHHH,” they all yelled.


“We’re not dying on my watch,” Larry said. ”Come on, Boston.”

Larry and Boston ran to the control room. They put on the atmosphere shield just in time. THUD.

THUD. THUD. THUD. Larry and Boston ran to the others. When they got there, Moragh arrived.

“GYHU GHUJI SEDR!!!!!” Moragh said.

Smorglf said, “‘‘YOU’RE GOING DOWN,’ Moragh said.”

Larry shot Moragh in the head. Moragh died from the bullet. Larry, Evan, Boston, Bloghj, and Smorglf got off. The UFO they were safe.


Read the sequel “THE UFO.”

Katherine and Tammy


One sunny morning, a 6-year-old named Katherine woke up in Minnesota at 7:00 and remembered at 3:50 in Vancouver there was a race for dogs and owners. She had a dog named Tammy and she felt like she had to go there too. But for now she wanted to read.


On the same sunny morning, a puppy named Tammy sat up, sniffed and licked Katherine’s face. Katherine looked nose to nose with her.

The parents:

Katherine’s parents were still snoring asleep. Katherine sprang up into their room, pounced on her mom Neve, and along with it Tammy slobber licked her dad Max. And the two gloomy parents, half asleep, woke up. Max asked in his big deep voice, “What is it honey?” Katherine said, “Dad, today there was a contest.”


Katherine and her parents took an airplane to Vancouver. First she started by watching her friend Holly finish the last part of the race. After that it was her turn. Her dad said good luck. There were hoops and dog limbo spins, jumps and a tunnel to the sea to jump over.

Too soon to jump! Boom! Crash! There were shouts everywhere. Every second. Those shouts filled the stadium.

But Tammy jumped so soon, she landed right on Katherine! Katherine slid right into the tunnel, barely made the hoop and…everything went back…

Crash! Pow! There was a streak of light, there were a tiny island smack in the middle of the ocean. That’s all. Nothing else around the small tiny island.

The parents:

Katherine’s parents were waiting and waiting for Katherine in the race. But they never saw her. They thought she might have ended up in the tunnel in the sea. They were very worried. They waited and waited for Katherine to come but Katherine never came. At the end of the race, they went to the judge because they were expecting Katherine to come before everyone, but instead she didn’t come at all.

“Where are we?” Katherine said. Katherine glanced around and saw they were on an island of sand. Tammy yelped. Katherine looked all around them. They were surrounded by water. Tammy thought: Are there sharks in here? Katherine thought: How are we going to get home? They were terrified and curious. The fur on Tammy’s back stood up. Tammy sniffed the ground. There was a strong scent of salt water. Katherine was thinking and thinking about the times Tammy and she won races, and she was wondering how she could have failed and ended on this island.

Katherine and Tammy both looked out at the sea and saw that the tunnel was gone. They thought and thought until they thought of a plan. We’ve got to get home.Tammy and Katherine finally knew.  They saw land on all fours sides of them so they would swim home. But what about  ? Katherine said we’ll build a raft. But there were no trees. So they decided to swim home. Swim. Katherine had 20 bottles of water for the race because it would be hot, and it was far because the they had to squint to see the land. There were little islands that they would rest on. So, Katherine jumped in the water facing her fear of sharks, squid and octopus. She swam and every island she came to she took a rest because Tammy was on her back. Tammy weighed 12 pounds.

Home at last! At last Katherine made the five-mile trip home. Tammy sat on Katherine’s back. Phone too.

And Katherine called her parents and said, “Right now, we are on sandy island beach.”

So, their parents drove there and asked, “Where have you been?”

Katherine said, “I swam 5 miles all the way home.”

“But weren’t you tired?” asked mom.

“Yes, but now Tammy isn’t afraid of water, right, Tammy?” Katherine asked.

Tammy barked.



Finding the Perfect House

I  walk up to Colin’s room, feeling nervous. I knock, and then he opens the door.

“Hey, what’s up?” he says to me.

I say, “I want to still  to live in California but I don’t want to live in San Francisco.”

Colin says, “When I was younger I used to want to move too but mom and dad weren’t even close to saying yes.”

“We need to come up with a plan to get them to move.”

“What do you think would convince them?”

“Maybe we could sneak out tonight and go to the park to talk about plans.”

So we did. Our house is very close to the park, but there aren’t a lot of crosswalks. Since we are just kids, we have to walk around a bunch of houses because they have the crosswalks.

In the park, we sit on the swings and swing, talking. I say, “How about we say to mom and dad that we still want to live in California, but more south toward the beaches? We can say, can we first look at the houses down south and maybe that will change their mind?”

“Let’s ask them in the morning.”

We go back home and go to sleep. The next morning it is our mom’s birthday. Colin and I  bring her breakfast in bed.

Colin says, “Allison and I want to still live in California but move down south. Can we please just look at the houses down there and see where we get?”

“Fine, but you have to wait a few weeks until your dad gets home from a big work , I trip.”

Well, it’s not the worst thing, I think. She could have just said no.

“Thanks, mom,” we say to her.

Three weeks later, when our dad gets home, we run and give him a hug and a kiss.

“Dad!” I say. “Three weeks ago, we asked mom if we can look at the houses down south.”

Their dad says, “Absolutely yes.”

So the next day we drive down south. We look at a house that was right on the coast between north and south. The house inside had a big kitchen, a patio, a backyard with a swing set, a front yard. There were two floors and an attic. There was a dining area, tv area, and this house was so different from our house because it is so much bigger. We each would get our own room. In our own house, Colin and Jeremy have to share a room. And our house didn’t have a basement, and this house did. When we are cooking in our own house, we are all squished together. When we make different dishes, but this house’s kitchen has an island, two sinks in different locations, six burners, a lot of storage areas, a refrigerator and freezer. The island also had chairs around it so you could sit there too, not just in the dining area.

Allison says, “What do you think?”                      

Her parents say, “I really like it but we do not have the money right now.”

“We need to get jobs that make more money,” the mom says. Right now, she is an editor of baby books, but she only makes $20 per book and has to give half of that money to taxes, so she only comes home with $10. Our dad works in adult books and makes $40, so he only comes home with $20. Between the two of them, they only make $30 each day, so not enough for the house.

The mom and the dad want to get new jobs to make more money. Because they really like the house too and they also think that it would be way better too. The brothers had jobs that paid $15 a day, so every weekend, our family takes all the money they made and put it together and see if it’s enough money for the house.

That isn’t enough so I want to also get a job, but I can’t find one, I asked my mom and dad, “Can I help you with your jobs?”

Together, my family decides to work part time at their jobs and then open a bakery. So we started to build a bakery. It turns out great. We found out that the bakery made more money than our regular jobs, so we quit our old jobs. We focused on our bakery. My job is to sell the pastries. My favorite thing to make is the sugar cookies. Two months later, we finally had all the money we needed for the house.

I  was so excited, I was bursting with happy tears. I couldn’t wait to move down there and make new friends. And go to the beach. Finally we moved into the house.

* * *

Two years later we are so happy in our new house. I have made a lot more friends than in San Francisco. I like to go to the beach now. I like my new school better than my old school since it is bigger and nicer. Now that we have a garage, we bought bikes and have been going out on bike rides. We’ve been walking around streets because it’s more of a neighborhood.

We still have the bakery in our old neighborhood, but we only go down there every weekend to see how it’s going. It’s been going very, very well, more money than we thought we would. It’s so big and famous! My specialty is my sugar cookies because they were so soft and creamy.

Two weeks later, we finally get on the news and go down in our suits and dresses to talk to the reporters about it.

“How come you started this bakery?” the reporters asked us.

“We started this bakery because we wanted to buy a house down south and we wanted to see how much money we could make. If this goes really well, we might start a bakery in our hometown now.”

The reporter said we just found out that  if this bakery does really, really well this bakery might be able to be all over the country. My family is so excited!!      

         My mom says, “Allison you were right about moving.”

                                      THE END




Mom knocks on my bedroom door. I freeze. My hands are hovering above the keyboard. I look over at my bedroom door. It slowly starts to open. I could see my mom’s face. She was glaring at me with her firm, dark blue eyes. She didn’t seem too excited to see what I was up to — computer coding.

Mom rolls her eyes. “Can you do anything else?”

“I’m just finishing up.”

“Okay, because I want you to do some other stuff too.”

I nod vigorously.

“Finish up in about ten minutes. Then do something like basketball.”

I nod again.

I’m a little bit disappointed. I just started coding ten minutes ago, and now I have to turn it off. But anyway, I wasn’t working on anything.

But still, how come she doesn’t appreciate coding? I wondered. Maybe it might be too much screen time that she doesn’t like. She put me in a melancholy mood. Maybe if I do something great with coding, will make her think it is worth my time.

I open a new window and think about something that will change mom’s perspective on coding. I think for a long while.

After about three minutes, the idea comes to me! A contest, on coding! Maybe if I got a prize, I would impress mom enough that she would recognize my talents! I search Contests within New York. Baking contest, drawing contest, costume contest. Wow, I didn’t know that contests were so abundant in New York.

I scroll to the bottom of the list before I finally find what I want:

Coding contest 7/15/15

145 Drake Hill Dr.

Make a fun, addictive game to get on the featured list on scratch! Entries due by 7/11/15

If I get on the featured list, mom will realize my talent! I think. I could almost see my game on the featured list and mom seeing that coding was the talent God gave me.

About a year and a half ago, my computer teacher, Ms. Wilson, started an end-of-year session on coding. I thought everything was amazing: the fact that code went in cars, computers, and phones. So I tried it out, and it was really fun. When you did something right, you would see it all work smoothly and gracefully on a screen. It was so fun that I decided to practice it at home. Dad was just as fascinated by coding as I was. But mom frowned; she wasn’t fascinated. She was almost upset that coding seemed to be the talent I was born with, but I never knew why. Perhaps, she thought it wasn’t healthy, but she decided that I could continue with it anyway.

But now, I have to prove to mom that coding is a great talent and is a great learning experience too. Because mom will never let me enter a contest about something related to computers, I have to enter secretly.
Then I realize something. My best friend Dan might want to enter the contest too. He also loves coding. I give him a quick call. “Hey Dan.”

“What’s up?”

“I found a contest on coding, and–”

“I think I might have entered the contest already. Which one is it?”

“The one on Drake Hill.”

“Well then, I did enter that contest. I finished my entry.”

“Oh, okay then, see you there.”

I have to hurry and start my entry, because I found this contest a couple days late.


After two days, I’m almost done with my entry, a game called Clutterfunk.

Kyle, my brother, is coming in to my room to watch me code. But this time I don’t want him around. He has to wait until I have finished CLUTTERFUNK completely before he can see it.

“Shoo Kyle, I don’t want you in here,” I try to say nicely.

“Why not?” Kyle asks in reply.

I grumble, then mutter, “‘cause I don’t.”

Kyle whispers something under his breath, so I can’t hear him.

Kyle runs off and tells mom, and then mom comes up to my room to tell me that Kyle can watch me. So I argue, “But mom, I can’t focus on my work with someone breathing on my shoulder.”

“But Kyle says that you were being mean to him and that he just wants to see your game.”

“I want Kyle to see it when it’s finished!” I yell.

Mom crossed her arms. “Jimmy! Do not talk back to me like that!”

“This is my computer.  I bought it myself, so I get to choose who sees it!”

“Jimmy, your father paid for that laptop, not you,” mom says angrily. Kyle whispers something in mom’s ear. Now mom looks mistaken. (Kyle must’ve told mom that I actually did pay for the laptop.)

“Mom, please just leave me alone so that I can finish my game for the contest,” I say.

“What contest?” Mom says.

“I entered a contest… with Dan, and it’s in a three days. And it’s for coding,” I stammer.

“You can not enter any contests without asking ME first!!” Mom’s cheeks are flaring and her face is turning red. Her fists are clenched tightly and firmly. “This is a warning Jimmy, if I catch you entering any type of contest again, no coding for a month.”

You’re gonna have to be more strict than that. I have a lock on my door and I only code once a week.

“So I can enter my game into the contest?” I ask. If I can’t enter this contest, nobody will recognize me. I will pass up my chance to get onto the FEATURED LIST–the place where people have their projects on the homepage so that everyone will see them. And also the chance to get mom’s approval of coding.

“No you are not in the contest anymore, Jimmy,” mom replies in a quiet, yet still strong kind of voice. Mom, the contest is my big opportunity, I say to myself as she and Kyle leave the room.


I finally get a chance to work on my entry. I add some ghost and pixelate effects to my title screen and add my logo to the bottom right corner.

Now for the music, I’m using the song Clutterfunk for my game (hence the name of the game). But one catch is, I deleted my Java connection to a website that makes recording easy, so I have to record it from youtube and on speaker, which picks up noises for miles around.

I bring up Clutterfunk from Youtube and record it. Luckily, everything around the speaker’s pickup range is absolutely silent. And so I think that the recording is gonna be amazing. The song Clutterfunk is four minutes and fourteen seconds long.

I am three-and-a-half minutes through the song when Kyle opens my unbearable, creaky door and ruins the whole recording! I stop the recording and look at Kyle. I give him my best icy stare.

“What are you doing in here?!” I grumble with annoyance. “You ruined my perfect recording! I also told you that I didn’t want you in here! Don’t you have any respect for people’s privacy?!”

Kyle’s shoulders are drooping, and he starts to frown. “I…I just want to see the game,” Kyle whimpers. I do think that I overreacted a little, after all, he didn’t know I was recording music. So I decide to make it up to him.

“You know what Kyle? Come back in about 10 minutes, and the game’ll be done.”

Kyle perks up. Now he isn’t upset, which is good. He practically jumps out of the room.



In the next 10 minutes, I work silently and efficiently and complete my game in a matter of minutes. It takes another few minutes to write the instructions and the credits.

“YES!!” I cry out. “YES!!” It’s done! I can’t believe it! It has highscores and smooth text fonts and everything! “Kyle! You can see my game now!”

There’s fast thumping and then the doorknob twists and Kyle flies in at the speed of light. He loves seeing my finished games, and he seems to be extra excited with this one.

He plays it about fifty times before stopping, and he gets a high score of 67. He is way better at the game than I am. My high score is a measly 16. Maybe it’s the control flip that screws me up. I don’t feel like telling mom though, because she thinks coding is a waste of time. And she also might find out that I was still entering the contest. When dad gets home from work, I’m going to show him Clutterfunk. But in three days I’m going to face a bigger problem: getting to the contest location. Considering that mom is not on board with the contest idea and dad is at work, which isn’t good because he likes coding just as much as I do.






In the next town, in a huge mansion, another contestant had finished their ‘not so great’ game.

“I finished my game! I’m gonna crush everyone in this contest easily!” Vicky yells gleefully.

“Don’t get so worked up Vicky, I’m sure other people have great games too,” Mom replies.

“No one will match the expertise in my game! I have been on the featured list twice!”

“That’s because you helped make scratch and you are the one who goes around featuring things,” Mom counters, rolling her eyes.

Vicky gets too worked up over coding contests, and she thinks that because she’s been on the featured list twice means that she is amazing at coding. When in reality she doesn’t know how to use pen (which everyone on scratch knows how to use by the way).

“But I helped make scratch, the most complex coding of all!”  Vicky says proudly.

Her older brother gets in on it. “You only tried to boss people around in COSTUME DESIGNING and you didn’t succeed. You also didn’t do any coding, because you’re horrible at it.”

Vicky sulks and turns to face her brother. “Very encouraging, also you’re bad at coding.”

This is stupid to say because her older brother is amazing at coding and has 204 followers and has been featured 5 times by some other scratch worker. He also knows how to use pen. Vicky has 1 follower– herself– she doesn’t know how to use pen, and she hacks, but with the help of her friends who know how to code.






A week later, on the day of the contest, I ‘m starting up my plan.

I’m using the oldest trick in the book, saying that I will be sleeping over at Dan’s house and that I will be bringing my laptop so that I can code with Dan and then I will run off to the contest location.

I grab my laptop and run downstairs.

“Why did you bring your laptop down from your room?” Mom asks suspiciously.

Here it goes: “Can I sleep over at Dan’s tonight?” I ask.

“You still haven’t answered my question, why did you bring your laptop downstairs?” mom asks again.

“I’m gonna code with Dan at his house,” I answer. This is the big moment. I hope mom will say yes. The fate of her respect depends on it.

“Fine,” mom replies, waving her hand in a shooing motion. “Go get your sleeping bag and walk down.” Yes, I say in my head.

I go upstairs to get my sleeping bag. I dart down the hall. Open up my creaky bedroom door and run in. I always keep my sleeping bag underneath my bed. I reach under my bed and grope around for my sleeping bag. After a couple seconds of hitting carpet instead of cushions, I finally grasp the strap of the compact bag and squeeze it out from under my bed. I sling the sleeping bag over my shoulder and walk back down the stairs.

I do sort of feel guilty about lying to mom about the sleepover, but I’m twelve and I am not afraid to make my own choices. But I’m making it even: she hates the fact that I code, so I go to a contest that means a lot to me. Kyle sees me with the laptop and sleeping bag.

“What are you doing?” he asks curiously.

“A contest.”

“Didn’t mom–”



“Don’t even think about telling mom.”

Kyle pretended to zip his lips together, “Alright, I won’t tell mom, but next time–”

“Okay, okay, I won’t do again. But there is a reason that I’m doing this.”

I don’t want to lie to everyone, so I let Kyle in but make him promise that he won’t tell mom.

I pass through the kitchen and out the door. “Bye mom!”

“Bye honey! Have fun!” but mom eyes me suspiciously right after she says it.





Vicky is riding in her limo to the contest, when the driver pulls up at the final destination, a Victorian-style house. It has a double oak front door with a brass lion head for a knocker and a golden keyhole and doorknob. The house in general is tan, with many bay windows and lots of windows with no sills.

“I thought it would look nicer, it’s not even a good house,” Vicky scoffs. Compared to Vicky’s mansion, it was a shack.

Vicky hops out of the limo without giving the driver any sense of gratitude. Vicky doesn’t even look at him. She just walks off with pride and up the cobblestone pathway. I’m gonna win this thing, Vicky thinks confidently. She stomps up the cobblestone steps and swings open the oak double doors without knocking first.

There are many kids in the room, from nine-year-olds to 16-year-olds. Vicky shouts at the top of her lungs, “MAKE WAY LOSERS!! THE WINNER VICKY IS COMING THROUGH!!”

Everyone stops to look at Vicky. Some people laugh, and everyone blocks that obnoxious kid’s way. One kid even says, “HEY!! YOU’RE THE HACKER, THE… THE… GIRL WHO DELETES PEOPLE’S PROJECTS FROM SCRATCH, YOU HAVE FUN RUINING OTHER PEOPLE’S HARD WORK AND EFFORT!!! I’M TELLING THE JUDGES THIS!!!”

Vicky’s face turns pale. That kid somehow knows that she deletes projects by hacking with her friends to get an edge in competition! That’s impossible! How does he know that? Vicky thinks. She now knows that everyone else has an ADVANTAGE on her.

“YOU GUYS ARE ALL LOSERS!!!” Vicky yells again.






Everything is working smoothly! I escaped from the house and now I’m walking to the contest! I drop my sleeping bag in the front of my house against the wall so that I won’t have to carry it. And then I dash off before mom can see me without my sleeping bag. I walk for a little while after I and sure mom can’t see me through the neighbor’s finely trimmed hedges.

After a while, I arrive at the contest. Dan is waiting for me at the front double doors of the awesome Victorian-style home. It’s like a McMansion! He waves me over. So I run to him.

He cups his hands over his mouth while he whispers, “I got rid of a threat.”

“Huh?” I say in confusion.

“When an obnoxious hacker walked in and yelled that her name was Vicky, it took me a second to realize that she was Vicky12. The deleter of projects that are amazing. She has hacked and deleted 15 of my 67 games on scratch. I’ve also had to remake my entry because she writes discouraging comments on my not-shared project, which is not possible, then she says that she will delete it, and next thing you know, 127 lines of code are gone forever.”

“So that’s why I couldn’t find my platformer.”



“I told the judges this and they said that it would affect how they rate her game. Now Vicky’s not so sure of herself.”

I grin, so does Dan. He has very good memory, and with that move he saved all the contestants! Vicky probably would have deleted everyone’s entries before the contest even starts! Dan and I go inside the house.

There are only twelve kids. One after another every kid is called in individually. And after five contestants go up, it’s Dan’s turn.




Dan walks into the judges’ room carrying his white iMac. There are three judges: a man around fifty years old, another man around forty years old, and a woman around thirty-five years old. “Welcome, contestant No. 6. How are you doing?” says the woman.

“Fine, how are you?” Dan replies politely. He is getting all jittery inside and is extremely excited.

“We are all very excited to see your entry,” the woman says again. She smiles.

Dan set his iMac on the judges’ table. He opens up his scratch account– ScratchLikeDan. “This is my game, Qix 2. It is a game that is a re-creation of the old arcade game Qix. You are a small red diamond that runs along a grid making squares and rectangles to enclose that cube so that it bounces an average every other second. Arrow keys to move and draw. When you press and hold the f key, you move faster when drawing. When you press and hold the s key you draw slowly, but is worth more points. It the cube touches the line you are drawing that is not finished, you die. Anyone wanna try?”

The fifty year old man tries first. He beats level three and loses on level four. He gives the game four stars. The forty-year-old man goes next. He beats level one but dies on level two. He gives it four and a half stars. The woman beats the whole game and rates it five stars.

Dan pumps his fist in the air and closes his laptop. “Thank you!” Dan says as he walks out of the room. He hears on the loudspeaker:

Will contestant number SEVEN please come show his or her game?




Vicky walks up the stairs to the judges’ room. She runs into Dan. “Hey! Watch it loser!” She yells.

Dan smirks. She notices with horror that he is ScratchLikeDan, the kid who yelled about the hacking, and also her favorite target for deleting projects. “Hey, Vicky12, good luck getting more than a 2-star rating in there,” Dan sneers. She hates him. She only recognizes him from his profile picture.

“Did you figure out how to design Minecraft? Or did you REMIX a really good game and hack to erase the remix label?” Dan scoffs. He also sounds like the kid who yelled about the hacking. Vicky now completely loathes him. He is insulting how good she is at coding! Did he not know that she helped code scratch?!

Vicky can’t take his insults anymore. She clenches her fists and grits her teeth, and…




I saw the whole thing unfold, Vicky12 calling Dan a loser, Dan insulting Vicky12. Vicky12 getting angry, and then Vicky12 punching Dan in the gut and screaming. Dan only laughed though, he’s had two concussions from playing football and has been punched harder than that many times. But I still yelled at Vicky12, “Hey!! What the heck are you doing?! Go tell your mother that you have behavior issues!”

Another kid supposedly called Marcus ran up to tell the judges. Vicky12 got disqualified for cheating and assaulting another contestant. She also earned a judge to call her mom. The judge even mentioned something about BEHAVIORAL ISSUES! (I know that because I’m a champion eavesdropper.)

After the remaining contestants (and I) went, these people won these prizes:


Third prize: Monica Jones and her game: Amusement Park


Second Prize: Logan Brandenburg and his game: Chillstep


First Prize: Jimmy Brendon and his game: Clutterfunk


Grand Prize: Daniel Ronan-John and his game: Qix 2



I walk to Dan’s house with Dan. I have a big smile on my face, Dan has a bigger smile on his face. “I can’t believe that I got grand prize in the contest. I guess the judges really liked my game.”

“Yeah,” I reply. I admit that his game was better than mine, but I’m happy that I’m getting featured tomorrow.

“But hey! I’m on the featured list right now! And you’ll be on the featured list tomorrow!” Daniel says excitedly. I slap my hand onto his back. He laughs, I grin. We’ve both had a really exciting day, and it all ends with a celebration sleepover at his house. Dan starts to run. He’s too excited to see his game on the featured list that he runs at the speed of his sprint as a running back in football.

When we get to his house, we rush up the stairs and into Dan’s bedroom. He sets his laptop on his desk and opens it up. Then he opens up scratch, and there it is:

Qix 2

By: ScratchLikeDan


Dan nearly breaks into tears of joy as he writes in the credits:  

FEATURED 5/7/15!!!!




The next day in the morning, I take out my laptop with Dan and open up scratch. My game pops up on the featured list just as we open up scratch. I currently only have 17 favorites and 26 loves. But I start to get comment after comment, and love after love, and…
I keep trying to answer everyone’s comments, but it is impossible. There is a new one every second. My hands are flying across the keys like mad. Everyone is saying Amazing game! and My highscore is only 15, but still, great game! Maybe I will tell mom that I got featured. Maybe that’ll get her to understand that I’m good at coding and that I love it and that I should continue with it. Maybe…



When I finally leave Dan’s house, I take in the fresh air and look around. The sky is a brilliant blue, with occasional puffy, white, cumulus clouds. Trees are swaying lightly to the quiet, gentle breeze. There is also the distant humming of cicadas and a landscaper blowing leaves.

When I arrive at my house. Mom is setting up the dishwasher and Kyle is watching TV in the family room. I walk right into the family room where Kyle is sitting on the couch watching his cartoons.

He looks at me. “How was the contest?” he asks quietly, as if to be sure mom can’t hear.

I smile, “Great.” I hand him the prize winner sheet.

He glimpses it. He notices that Dan won grand prize, and not me. “You didn’t win, huh.”

“No, I didn’t. But at least Dan did.”

Just then mom walks into the room. She sees that Kyle’s holding a piece of paper. Mom says, “What’s that?” She eyes both of us suspiciously and sees the words:

First prize: Jimmy Brendon and his game Clutterfunk




“Nothing,” Kyle says. Jimmy’s eyes are wide with worry.

“Then why, may I ask, does it say JIMMY BRENDON AND HIS GAME CLUTTERFUNK?!!” Mom yells, “Jimmy! You are banned from coding for a month! Kyle! You attempted to lie to cover your LYING brother so that he wouldn’t get in trouble! Well you just made the situation worse! You’re not allowed to watch TV for a MONTH!!!!”

Personally, Kyle thinks mom is wrong. She shouldn’t be disappointed that Jimmy’s hobby is coding. She shouldn’t be trying to force me and Jimmy to do ballet, she should be letting us choose what we want to do, whether it’s coding or astronomy (which is what Kyle is into, but mom isn’t much happier about that choice). So I am going to protest by bringing my iPad to my room, shutting and locking the door, and watching my astronomy shows there. And I think that Jimmy’s gonna do the same.




As ifm, Mom, I thought, Kyle and I have locks on our doors and we’re both gonna do what we love, coding and astronomy. So you can punish us all you want but you won’t stop either of us. So Kyle and I both grab our iPad and laptop and dart up to our rooms. I code and Kyle should be watching his educational astronomy shows from his iPad.

A little while later, mom is pounding on my bedroom door. I hear her yelling, “YOU BETTER NOT BE CODING!! I’LL TAKE THAT LAPTOP FROM YOU!!!”

I yell back, “IT’S MY LAPTOP AND I BOUGHT IT SO YOU CAN’T DO ANYTHING WITH IT!!!” That makes her lose momentum.


I say in a normal tone, “Alright.” I unlock the door and let her in.
She doesn’t look that angry anymore, and she sits on the bed with me.

“Now, Jimmy.”


“I might have been a little too angry for the situation, but I’m still angry that you entered that contest without my permission, because the truth is, I would’ve let you do it if you’d asked me first.”

Oh that would’ve been easier, I think.

“I’m happy that you found the thing that you love to do– coding.”

I nod slowly. “But why do you seem… well… so unsupportive of it?”

Mom looks down at the floor. I could tell that there was a more serious reason then staying active, “It’s just that… your dad understands it, and so do you. Even Kyle sort of understands it.”

I nod again. She continues, “I don’t understand it. It’s all so confusing to my eyes. So seeing all you guys enjoying it, it would mean a lot to me if I could join in, do something with you guys. That’s why I don’t look like I support you. But I do.”

“I could always teach you the basics, so that you can get a simple understanding of it.”

Mom smiled, and gave a small laugh. She put my hand on my shoulder, “You could do that for me?”

“Yeah,” I grinned. So did she.

She got up and said, “I’m very proud of you Jimmy.”

“You still can’t code for a month,” mom continues, “but after that if you ask permission I’ll let you in on those contests.”


She smiled, nodded, and then left my room.

Wow, I’ve misperceived a lot of things about mom. I thought she didn’t like that I coded, based on how she acted when I coded.



In the end, today and yesterday were pretty interesting days. Probably the most exciting days I’ve ever had in my life. I mean, mom all along did appreciate my coding, and Vicky12 is now in trouble with her parents and with scratch. And Dan and I got on the featured list on scratch and each have 20000 views!!!! I also found out the truth about mom, and I started to teach her the basics of coding every other day.



Abe Lincoln

One day long before he became President, Abraham Lincoln was selling things in a shop. Then there was a mysterious man with rags and had a barrel. He wanted to sell it. The man said that the barrel would change Abe’s life.Then he left.

Abe opened the barrel, there was a book inside. Abe loved reading so he opened the book. When he was done reading, he learned about slavery.When he looked outside, he saw the saddest thing he ever saw. He saw dark-colored people getting sold on auction! They looked very sad. They were chained together by the foot. Very, very sad, he thought. He imagined how it would be like if he was one of them and he imagined how they would miss their family if they got separated.

He wanted to stop it. But how? When he got home he tried to think about stopping it. The next day he saw more people on auction like yesterday! Now he was very mad but he didn’t have the power to stop them doing it. The people would easily kick him out! Still, he was very angry but how would he stop them? When he got home he saw a woman running, she stopped into Abe’s house. Abe’s heart was pounding. Was she the one he saw two days ago?! His mind had tons of questions to ask but nothing came out of his mouth. He was speechless.Then the woman spoke, “Hi my name is Harriet Tubman, I am a runaway slave.”

“How did you get to my house in North Carolina?” he asked.

“I was running in the woods and I found a house and I was very hungry and tired. My life on the plantation was hard because we had to pick cotton for the master, and get whipped by  the wife if I didn’t do good on weaving. I wanted to run away because of that but my husband didn’t want me to, so if he noticed me run away, he would tell my master and I would get caught.”

“Wow, so how did you finally escape?”

“I sneaked into the night while both of them were asleep. I took some food and started to head out. It was very dark and I heard the sound of squeaking noises, like mice and owls hooting. I ran for a long time until I got to the North and I saw the light on in your house.”

Then Abe said, “I want to free slaves, do you want to help me?”

Harriet said, “Sure, but we first have to try it ourselves to see if it’s safe and then we can free the slaves.”  

“Sure,” said Abe.

First they packed some food to eat just in case they started to get hungry and they took some water. Then they took off. While they were walking Abe was trying to find his compass but he just couldn’t find it.

Abe said, “Harriet I think we’re lost.”

After saying that sentence, he spoke too soon, so they found a cottage. He opened the door and they saw an old lady sitting by a fireplace.

Harriet and Abe asked the lady if she could help. “Can you show us how to get to freedom?”

The lady said, “Sure.”

“But where do we go?” asked Harriet.

“Go to the Underground Railroad,” said the lady.

“What is the Underground Railroad?” asked Abe.

“It’s a pathway in the woods that the slaves use to escape, but sometimes they still get caught.”

“Where is it?” asked Harriet.

“Five miles more north,” said the lady.

“But how do you know?” asked Harriet.

“I saw other slaves like you running through the woods and they stopped in my house too, but they got caught. It was very sad,” said the lady, filled with pity. “But I hope that you two don’t get caught.”

Harriet and Abe thanked the woman, and then started their journey again. They were in a forest and it was very cold, but they still walked and walked until they got to the Underground Railroad. It was a pathway with bushes around it and with trees. There were already footsteps there, so they followed the footsteps.

They were so happy. Abe thought he would be brave because after working so hard, going on a trip and being cold and scared, they finally found the place to lead them to freedom.

Suddenly they saw a white slave hunter and the slave hunter saw them.

Harriet and Abe were so frightened, they tried to run away but they were not fast enough.

So they got caught. They got lassoed.They were chained together by the foot walking in a straight line.                 

When they were heading to the South, Abe found a knife in the slave hunter’s pocket and Abe tried to cut the chains. Finally he broke it. It took two hours to break the chains open but the slave hunter didn’t hear them because he was deaf.

So they escaped easily.

It was still a long way to the north because they took two hours to break the chains and THAT was a big disappointment.

After a day they were running out of food but they were to the north. Finally they could free the other slaves because they knew where the Underground Railroad was. They went back to the old lady’s house and asked for a wagon.

“Can we have a wagon to help free the slaves?” asked Abe.

She said, “Sure, it’s outside in my backyard.”

Harriet thought: We can use it quicker and faster to get to the South because last time we had to walk on foot.

They took the wagon and freed more of the slaves at night. When they went back to the South, they took the slaves to the Underground Railroad. They pretended to be slave hunters so no one would think they were actually helping the slaves, and they hid the wagon with bushes.

Finally they freed all the slaves in two months. All the slaves thanked Harriet Tubman and Abraham Lincoln.

Abe said to Harriet, “If we didn’t do it together, we would have failed.”

“We did lots of teamwork the whole time,” said Harriet.

Then they built a house in the North instead of the South. They lived in the house for many years.

                                                  THE END