Emma and Mount Everest

CHAPTER ONE: Introduction

“EMMA!” said a voice so strong in my head that I woke up in fear.

“MOM!” I said, frantically getting up from my bed. My mom went storming in my room, opening the door. She opened it so loud that I felt my blood go up and down, up and down. 

“What, Emma?” said my mom. Her voice sounded like she did not know what to do right now. Her clothes were stained with… hmm, cold water? I think she spilled water while she was getting up here.

“Uhh, nothing, bad dream… I think.”  I said. I looked down and bit my lip. My mom was always in a grumpy mood.

“Emma, every single morning you say, ‘MOM.’ Is anything bothering you?” said my mom as she came towards my bed. She sat down on my bed, got my pillow, and put something in it. “Don’t open it until you are ready,” said my mom. She got off my bed, making a big creaking sound. She flipped her hair and got out of my room.

I just felt like I wanted a playdate with Yui. She was such a great listener and loved green tea. We had been friends since preschool. She had different fonts on her phone. So, yeah. I stretched out my legs and arms, then I scanned my room for my phone. I got out of bed and put on my fluffy slippers. I opened my kawaii drawer. It cost $2,000. Very expensive. I searched through all my stuff in my drawer. The shuffling made a nice noise. I felt that my phone case was cold. ICE cold. I hoped she could help me. AND SHE’S KOREAN! 

Me: Huy Yui! 🙂

Yui: Hello Ai- Ma chan!^.^!

Me: Do you want a playdate?

Yui: OFC! 

Yui: What is it about?

Me: Umm, something. It’s a surprise?

Yui: Yay!!

Me: YAY! See you soon.

Well, I guessed I had to go to her house now. I put my phone down in my kawaii drawer and rushed to do my daily morning routine. I speed past the door, not wasting time. Only, THIS HOUSE WAS SO BIG I GOT LOST IN IT. Which way do I go, which way?? I said in my mind. I made a guess. Hey, what else could I do?  I run left, sonic speed. And I, oops — I bumped into my own mother. I crouched down so low, it was like I was playing limbo.

“OW!!” she said. She was hesitating, looking above her, left, right of her, but she did not look BEHIND her. “WHO’S THERE?” she said. She looked like she had seen a ghost. Golly gee, Mom, you never looked behind you, I said in my mind. I decided to run. I got up and ran until… BEEP! My phone rang. REALLY YUI? REALLY? It was a text message from Yui. Golly Gee. I AM IN TROUBLE.

Mom turned behind her, closing her eyes. I tried to make a run for it, but she already had the confidence to open her eyes. Darn. “Hello, hon, did you see anyone bump into me? Is it your dad? I know it isn’t you because you are a good girl,” said my mom, crossing her arms.

Gulp, now I felt super guilty. I really want to tell my mom the truth, but I ended up lying. “Um mom y-you s-s-see I did — er, I mean — didn’t bump into y-y-you. I mean I di-did, I mean, I di-didn’t b-bump into y-you!” I said. I sounded like I was squeaking instead of speaking. I got back up, then did a broken face.

“Umm, A-W-K-W-A-R-D,” said my mom, loosening up her crossed arms. “Oh, and you have school tomorrow.” She winked with her hands folded.

“Can I go to Yui’s house, please!!” I went down to my knees, acting like I was praying to God.

“Yes. But be back at 12:00, or you’re dead.” Her face was dark. My face was so scared. I got ready to pounce, that meant run. She had said “or you’re dead” in a low voice. She pointed at the clock with her index finger. It said 7:00. That gave me lots of darn time!

“Ok, Mom, thanks!” I ran off right again. Maybe even running + running = I AM RUNNING SUPER FAST! Then I stopped. I remember something that I needed to tell my mom. 

“Mom, where’s the bathroom?” I said, while turning back. I was still scared.

“Go right, then go left. That’s where the bathroom is,” said my mom while going left. 

“Okay, thanks, Mom!” I said. I turned back and ran. AND I followed her directions. I rushed so fast that I lost my slipper. I didn’t even want to pick it up. I was too excited to go to Yui’s!


The Secret of the Fairies

Chapter 1: The Adventure

One day, there was a fairy named Lilac. She lived in a cottage in the woods. Most of the stuff she owned, she had made herself. One day, she received a letter from the fairies. They wanted to send her to help the Kingdom of Fairies. The fairies knew that Lilac solved a lot of puzzles, so they knew she was smart. She rushed to her room to pack. She packed a flashlight, clothes, shoes, a notepad, and a pencil. When she started to get the map, she saw one of her cupboards began to glitter rainbow. She went out to see what was happening to the cupboard. There was a letter that was floating in the air that said: trust your heart. She wondered, should she trust this letter? She would give it a try. She closed her eyes and started to walk. Finally, she bumped into something. She opened her eyes. Right in front of her was a portal. Above it, it said: Land of Fairies. Yes! she thought. She went right into the portal. When she opened her eyes, she saw thousands of flowers. Some of the flowers were still fresh, and some of the flowers were wilting. She wondered what to do. The girl in front of her was a fairy. 

“Who are you?” shouted the fairy. 

Lilac replied, “One of the fairies sent me to meet you.” 

And kindly the fairy said, “You must be Lilac. My name is Samantha.” Then she added, “Let me take you to the Queen.” 

On the way there, they saw a fairy in the water. Sam said, “What are you doing here, Aurora?”

“I cannot reach out to Rain,” Aurora said.

“This is Lilac.” Lilac waved while Sam introduced her. Then Sam added, “She’s helping us save our kingdom.” Sam waved her wand, and Aurora was outside.

“I will help Lilac,” Aurora said.

Sam said, “We’re going to the Queen.” 

“I will go with you,” said Aurora.

Chapter 2: The Queen

They continued walking, and a few minutes later, they arrived at a beautiful castle. They went in and saw beautiful rooms. Lilac was curious about the rooms, but Samantha and Aurora just passed by them. Finally, they reached a room with a beautiful shell door.

“Wait right here,” Sam said to Aurora and Lilac. She went in the room, and she came out again. “The Queen is ready to see you,” she told Lilac.

Lilac went into the room. Then, she saw the Queen. Lilac curtsied and sat down in front of the Queen.

The Queen said, “You can call me Queen Lily.”

Lilac said, “What can I do to help your kingdom?” 

“I will show you.”

She led them up to a room with a glass case. She opened the lid. There, they saw flowers wilting. The Queen looked sad. “Here, I will tell you the story of these flowers,” Queen Lily said. “One day, there was a wise fairy. Her name was May. She took care of these beautiful flowers. One day, she met a mermaid. The mermaid said, ‘Give me the flowers!’ May gave the flowers to the mermaid. May trusted the mermaid. The mermaid sprinkled dust onto the flowers. A kingdom was going to appear, and the flowers would take care of the land. May saw a beautiful land. She saw a feather. She chased after it, but she got lost and couldn’t find the flowers again.” Lily then smiled and said, “With a little bit of magic, I got the flowers back.”

Chapter 3: The Gems

Queen Lily said, “Yesterday, the flowers started wilting, and the fairies were getting more tired every day. I realized this when I visited the flowers yesterday, and I saw that they were wilting. Then, I went to the fairies. Usually, the fairies meet me outside, but yesterday, they were sleeping.” She started crying when she said this. “If the flowers die, the fairies can’t take good care of the kingdom, and the kingdom will disappear.” 

“It’s okay,” Lilac said to comfort her. “We will help your kingdom.” Lilac knew what to do, but she didn’t know how to do it. 

Queen Lily hugged Lilac. “You have two weeks to rescue the flowers,” Queen Lily said. 

Lilac’s heart pounded thinking about whether that time would be enough to rescue the flowers. 

Queen Lily reassured her when she saw that Lilac was worried. “Don’t worry, I’m sure you can do it.” Then Queen Lily said, “You need to find the seven gems and give them to the Gem Fairies. I will tell you how you can give it to them later. But first, I will give you something. Come, follow me.” 

They walked down the steps to a door. Queen Lily took a key hanging from around her neck and used it to unlock the door. They entered a room with dozens of glass cases filled with various pages and books. She opened one of the glass cases, and she took out a book. She then opened the book and said, “This book is all about the kingdom and the fairies that live in it. If you forget the story where May gets the flowers, you can find it in this book. Also, there is a map tucked into the book.” 

Chapter 4: Leaving

“Who else is going with you?” asked Queen Lily .

“Aurora is going to come with me,” Lilac said.

“Okay, you might need this then,” Queen Lily said as she took two rings from off of her finger and slid them onto Lilac’s. 

         There’s so much to worry about, Lilac thought. 

“You can leave tomorrow,” said Queen Lily. 

The next day, they set out on a journey. They went on and on and on. “When do you think it’s gonna end?” Lilac asked Aurora. 

“Remember,” said Aurora, “the path can last for a long time. Here,” said Aurora. “We can stop by a stream to get some water.”

They got to a stream, and they each took a long sip of water. Aurora got some sticks and leaves to make a cup with a lid. She dumped it in some water and closed the lid. She made another one and filled it with some nuts. 

“Let’s go,” said Lilac. 

They reached the forest. 

“The map says we have to go this way,” Lilac said. She pointed towards the forest. It was dark. They were nervous. But they headed into the forest anyway. Before long, they started to smell smoke. 

Aurora said, “What’s that smell?”

“I don’t know,” Lilac said.

They kept walking. And then they stopped in their tracks. They saw a big dragon with red scales who was breathing fire. The dragon heard all the noise and turned around, facing them.  

Oh no, both of them thought. 

The dragon said, “Who are you?”

“We are Lilac and Aurora,” said Lilac bravely.

“Why are you here?”

Aurora quivered as she said, “We are here to find a gem.”

“You aren’t the first ones to try to get the gem,” he boomed as he pulled open a cage.

Lilac saw who was inside and cried, “Rose!”

“Lilac!” Rose cried back from the cage. 

Aurora stayed quiet. Then, Aurora muttered, “Please make this move,” running out of breath, waving her wand at a pile of twigs. The twigs started moving at her. She made them lay down on the grass and took one stick and said quietly, “Say something! Write this on the stick and distract the dragon.”

She moved the stick with her mind over to Lilac. And she said under her breath, “Make a waterfall,” and a waterfall started to appear right by her side. Aurora took a bucket and dunked it in the water and walked quietly over to the dragon’s back. The dragon felt the water and turned around, but Aurora was too quick. She ran to the other side and whispered something to Lilac, “Let’s go.” Once they were safely away from the dragon, Aurora said, “Why don’t we make something that will make the dragon want to trade with us?”

“Alright,” said Lilac, “what should we make?”

“I think dragons like fire. We need something with fire.”

“Well,” said Lilac, “we can’t make fire. I wonder what we should do.”

Aurora thought of it.

Chapter 5: Smokey

“There is a dragon living down by the stream named Smokey. We can go to her and ask for help.”

When they reached the stream, they took a long sip of water again. Aurora cried, “There’s the cave where Smokey lives. After we take one more sip, we’ll go there.”

They took one more sip and started off. Once they reached the cave, they knocked on the door. Smokey said, “Who’s there?”

“It’s me!” cried Aurora.

“Hi, Aurora! Who’s this friend with you?”

“Her name is Lilac!”

“Well, come in, come in. You can explain everything to me when we’re all inside.”

They went inside and drank milk and ate cookies. 

Aurora explained, “We are trying to find the seven gems. The dragon will give us the gems. So, we were thinking you could help us make something for us to trade with the dragon.”

“I’ve got an idea. I just need two sticks and a couple blades of grass. Collect them for me, and I will make you something for the dragon.”

So, they went and got two sticks and a couple blades of grass. They went back to the cave where Smokey lived. Smokey said, “Thank you.”

She set out to work. It took all day and night, so Smokey let Aurora and Lilac sleep and eat there. Around nighttime, Lilac and Aurora did not have pajamas, so they decided to sleep in their clothes. Smokey said, “I have a few extra blankets. You can sleep in that.” She gave them two blankets and two pillows. Lilac and Aurora took them and lay down on the ground. They lay down feeling colder. They couldn’t do anything about it. They couldn’t sleep the whole night. The next day, Lilac and Aurora woke up and Smokey was making breakfast — eggs and waffles with strawberries.

“Are you done?” Lilac said easily.  

“Yes,” Smokey said. “Come, have some breakfast.”

So, they walked over to the table, which was a long tree top with small pillows to sit on. They sat down, and they ate their food. They were all very hungry. 

“Let’s go!” Lilac said to Aurora .

“Wait! I have to give you the thing to give to the dragon!” 

“Right,” said Aurora. 

“Let me quickly get it. Here,” Smokey said. 

Smokey ran off quickly and got a bracelet for the dragon. There were red beads and green beads, and in the middle of the bracelet, there was a picture of a fire made from beads in the middle. 

Chapter 6: The Fight

Smokey pointed out the way to the dragon’s cave. “You go straight, then you turn right, and you should be able to turn left, and then there they are.” 

“Let’s go,” Aurora said to Lilac. They followed Smokey’s directions until they came upon a pond. 

“Let’s take a drink of water,” said Lilac. 

“No!” said Aurora. “We took too many sips of water.”

“But — but — but — ” stammered Lilac. Lilac sensed that they were going to have a fight. 

“No buts,” said Aurora. “Let’s keep going.” Aurora started to walk. When she went a few feet away from her, she looked behind to see Lilac taking a sip of water. “Lilac!” shouted Aurora. 

“Well!” Lilac shouted back. “You are not my mother!”

“Well, I do not care about this thing anymore!” And Aurora threw the bracelet. It shattered in gold sparkles.

Lilac wondered what to do. Aurora stomped off, so Lilac followed Aurora. “Do not follow me,” said Aurora when she looked back. She waved her wand, and Lilac fell on the floor. Aurora walked off. 

A few hours later, Smokey came out. “Oh no!” cried Smokey. He carried Lilac inside of his cave. Smokey used his magic to see the past, and saw that Aurora put a spell on Lilac. Smokey used his own powers to undo Aurora’s spell. 

When Lilac woke up, Lilac asked in wonder, “Where am I?” She said this as she blinked her eyes to clear out all the blurs. 

“You are in my cave. Aurora put a spell on you,” replied Smokey.

“Why?” demanded Lilac. 

“I do not know,” said Smokey. “Here.” He put a spell on Lilac so Lilac could remember what happened. 

“Oh, I remember what happened.” 

“Please, Lilac, tell me what happened.” 

“Well,” started Lilac. “It’s a long story.”

“It’s alright, but all I know is that Aurora put a spell on you and broke the bracelet. You can stay here for the night. Have a glass of tea.” He handed Lilac a mug filled with tea. “It will give you energy,” said Smokey. 

She slowly sipped the tea. It almost burned her tongue. She never realized until now that her dress was covered with mud and her hair was messy. “Oh,” she sighed.

“Do not worry,” Smokey said. “I will make you some clothing.” He took a bunch of twigs, grass, and leaves in a huge pile. He began to make a shirt, pants, and pajamas for Lilac. 

“Thank you!” Lilac said gratefully. He finished faster than one hour. 

“Put these on,” he ordered Lilac. “It’s nearly lunchtime. For lunch I will make some chicken from the chickens in the wild.” 

Lilac sat down. “What should I do?” she said.

“Let’s play checkers,” Smokey said. He took out the checkerboard. “We will drink milk and eat cookies while we play.” They played for almost an hour. Lilac won. Smokey said, “Why don’t you take a rest? It’s been a long day. I’ll make lunch while you do.” Lilac took a nap for thirty minutes. When she woke up, the food was ready for her. It was perfect; it was not too hot, and it was not too cold. They both gobbled up the food. They realized they were starving. They finished the food in less than ten minutes. 

“Why don’t we do this puzzle I got?” asked Smokey. Lilac took the puzzle from Smokey’s hands. “It’s a picture of a kitten,” said Smokey. 

“I love kittens!” Lilac said. Lilac did that while Smokey took Lilac’s dress to the pond to be washed. When Smokey came back, Lilac only did half of the puzzle, but she had drawn the half she did. Smokey took a nap for one hour. He was tired after doing all the chores. 

Chapter 7: Gems

After Smokey’s nap, Lilac was done with the puzzle. Lilac said to Smokey, “I really, really want to get the gems. When can I?” 

Smokey said to Lilac, “You can get them soon, but I will have to help you.”

“Okay,” Lilac sighed. She wanted to do this adventure by herself. 

“We’ll just have a snack, and then we can find the gems.” They had a snack of crackers with cheese. Lilac dressed in the top and pants that Smokey made for her. 

They set out. “Let’s go there,” Lilac said, pointing to the top of the mountain.

“How will we get up?” Smokey asked.

“Climb it, of course!” Lilac answered.

“Let’s start climbing, otherwise we won’t get to the top of the mountain in time,” said Smokey. 

“Let’s do this!” shouted Lilac. They started climbing. Once they were just a teeny little bit off the ground, they huffed and puffed, and they found a place to rest and eat some berries and drink a cup of water.

After they were well-rested, they started to climb again. They did this for a while. Climb a little bit, then eat and rest. Climb, eat, and rest. They finally reached the mountain when it was eleven o’clock. “Let’s sleep,” Smokey said. They slept. 

They woke up in the morning and saw a ladder. Lilac said, “Follow me!” Lilac climbed up the ladder. When they reached the top, they found the first gem. It was bright pink, but there was something in front of it. A fairy.

Smokey asked what the fairy’s name was. She said that her name was Spring. “What do you want?” she demanded. “You want the gem? You can have it, but you have to trade for it with something.”

“What do you have, Lilac?” Smokey whispered.
“I have this,” she whispered back, holding a picture of a kitten out.

“What is that?” Spring said. 

“It’s a picture.”

“Will you trade it for the gem?” Smokey asked. 

“Alright,” agreed Spring. “This is called the Spring Gem,” she said as she handed over the gem. “Take good care of it.” 

Yes, Lilac and Smokey thought. We got the first gem! The Spring Gem. They went down to go to Smokey’s cottage to have a break. They didn’t have any more food and water. They finally reached Smokey’s cave. They ate and drank and took a nap. They felt refreshed. 

“Let’s go,” said Smokey.

They set off again. Smokey made another bracelet. Finally, they reached the dragon’s cave. The dragon said, “What do you want?!”

Lilac said, “We want the gem.”

“What will you give me?” 

“We’ll give you this.” Lilac pulled out the bracelet. 

He snatched the bracelet out of Lilac’s hand. He threw the gem to Lilac. 


“I knew it,” said Smokey.

“You knew what?” asked Lilac.

“That he would want the bracelet so much, I put magic in it!”

“Oh,” said Lilac. “I’m hungry,” Lilac said. “What’s for dinner?”

“I don’t know,” said Smokey. “Do you want to help me make dinner?”

“Yes,” exclaimed Lilac.

They went back to Smokey’s cave. Lilac and Smokey made pasta for dinner. They were so hungry they finished the food in, like, ten seconds. 

“Let’s sleep,” said Lilac. 

They slept. 

They both woke up at the same time. Smokey made pancakes for breakfast. “Let’s get the other gem,” Lilac said. 

Right when she said it, there was a knock on the door.

Chapter 8: Somebody At the Door

“Who is it?” called Smokey.

“Let me in, and you will see,” called somebody from behind the door.

“Okay,” said Lilac. “You stay here,” she said behind her back to Smokey.

“Since when were you my mother?” Smokey laughed.

But Lilac did not hear him. She was opening the door. To her surprise, Aurora was standing behind the door.

“I am sorry I used my magic on you,” Aurora said, looking down at her feet.

“It’s alright, Aurora, come in,” Lilac said loudly so Smokey could hear.

Smokey rushed to see Aurora and to show her the gems they got.

“Wow,” Aurora said.

“I like that one,” Aurora pointed at the Spring Gem.  

“That’s called the Spring Gem,” said Lilac.

“Did you get any gems?” Lilac hopefully said.

“No,” Aurora said. “But I got a map of the gems.”

To Be Continued…

The Cursed Coin


Josie Anderson was running away from something unimaginable. She was running away in the Smith Forest, North of Elf Creek. She was running and running and then… splash! She fell into the river. She swam and swam for days. She didn’t know where she was going. She was hungry and cold… but she did not care at all. All she felt was the rumbling of it coming. She felt it stop, so she came out of the lake — a creek now, a creek that was labeled on all the maps.

“Elf Creek,” she whispered, and sure enough, as she turned around, she saw little people with sharp, small teeth in sky blue and plum purple dresses and shirts. “Something is wrong here,” she told herself. The faces, well… They, well, when I say this none of you will believe me, but they did not look real… 

As she looked around, the elves evaporated into little pieces of dust. The thing that she was running from — it was back. She had no feeling in her legs, but she ran into the dark woods anyway. The thing she was running from — it gave her a toothy grin with its fangs exposed.

The witch walked into the sunlight and pushed Josie to the ground. As she bent down to take Josie’s soul, Josie slipped out of her daze and kicked the witch in the face. Scarlet red blood slithered down her face.

“Not just yet will I leave this world,” Josie whispered to herself. The witch glared at her with so much loathing that it could boil a soup. Josie took one step closer to the witch. “Why are you doing this, Mother?”

The witch looked at her. “So you recognize me, Josie. I knew my girl was smart but not this smart.”

Josie wanted to see her mother the way she had been when she was normal, before she ran away, before the incident. And then the memories flooded back. Her parents were fighting. Her mother was very violent. Well, for a long time it was just that, and then something changed. It happened when Mother was studying her little animals and one bit her. She stayed cooped up in her room. When she came out, it was only to eat and drink water. When she came out, she barely spoke to them.

Then Father stood up at dinner. “What is happening, Izzy? You have been like this for one month, and you haven’t told us anything about what is happening.” Worry struck Father’s face. Father was always mad, and his face never changed, but this look that Father gave Mother was something different, different from anything else. He was worried and something else… Something I can’t put into words, but the look was still something.

“Nothing,” Mother mumbled. Her voice was different — it was gruff and raspy, and Josie did not like it. Then, flash! She saw Mother and Father fighting, and Mother had a trunk and a bag. She was about to leave when father found out, and then it struck Josie.

“What if… I go into Mother’s room? Then I would find out what happened, right?” she asked herself. Josie gasped! She had a good idea… I know this does not seem like a lot, but for Josie, it was something new. What was happening to Mother had taken a toll on the entire family, so just thinking straight was a challenge. Josie darted into Mother’s room. It was… well… dark. The stained glass windows were completely covered by vines, the walls were covered with vines, and there were maps with animals, but something stood out: a shining silver coin. Josie turned the lights on and off, and the coin was still shining.

“What in the — “

Mother’s glare was unmistakable, Josie felt it from a mile away.

“I see that you are poking around in my room, Josie.’’

Josie, for the first time, was scared of her family — no, her mother — but instead of walking to her, she walked right to the coin, which turned red. Instead of running away, she inched closer, but when she looked at mother, her skin turned white, and then Josie ran.  


Ann was having a nice dream, but when Aunt Josie was making breakfast, nothing was quiet. So, Ann woke up early just so she did not have to wake up to the sound of banging pots and pans. Ann opened her eyes to the hot, sticky summer air. Aunt Josie was making her bed. Ann heard that only because of one thing: Aunt Josie was singing. Ann decided to make some oatmeal.

“Aunt Josie?” Ann asked. “Do we have anything other than oatmeal?”

“Well,” Aunt Josie said, “We have eggs from your grandmother’s recipe. I always liked it when I was a — ” Aunt Josie was interrupted by a loud mouse. Aunt Josie hated animals. Something had happened to her when she was a kid, but Ann was not sure what it was…

Aunt Josie took a broom and smashed the mouse. Ann flinched in her chair. She was an animal lover. Aunt Josie was panting — she never successfully killed anything. Ann was still standing there in shock, and then an idea hit her. What if she went looking for Grandmother? Surely, she knew why Aunt Josie hated animals so much?

Aunt Josie was still thinking back on that one day — the image of a cursed wolf’s insides was stuck in her mind. The only thing that kept her distracted from it was thinking about Ann, but Josie remembered that night like it was yesterday.

She had been carrying a basket of apples down the road to the expecting mother of a girl. The mother had just learned that her husband had died in the war of the goblins. Josie entered the house. It was odd. She closed the door… It was also odd. The room was a circle with paintings of fish and water. There were photos of the mother and her husband. Josie went into the only room with a rectangular door frame, and there the mother was, lying in her bed.

“Trudy?” Josie called down to the low bed.

The woman woke up with a start. “Is he home?” She jumped out of bed. When she remembered that her late husband wasn’t coming home, her eyes swarmed with tears. She sat back down and cried, “How will I take care of my baby?” she sobbed. 

Josie had an idea, “I can take care of her, Trudy!”

Trudy gasped. “Really? THANK YOU SO MUCH!” 

The next week, out came Ann. Josie moved away from Trudy’s house and Trudy, just for Ann, so she could have a better life. That was all that Trudy wanted, so Josie did it.


Ann always wanted a friend, but the town was all the way on the other side of Wispy Hollows. Lova was what the town was called. The Mayor was called Mina. They called her that because her eyes sparkled like gems, but she was the most bossiest person in the WORLD! But her adviser, Jacob, was always wearing black. He had a hunchback; his hair was long, greasy, and black; and his skin was white like a ghost. The only thing that stood out were his bloodshot, red eyes. He was very sinister, but the only thing that paid off for that was that he opened an orphanage!… Next to a power plant… How about helping the poor people by giving all of them money?… But the money was stolen from people’s bank accounts… Welp, now you can understand that this guy was a BAD one. Everything that he tried to do was ruined. But the only way to get to the shops was by going into the town, so…

“PLEASE, can I go to the farmers’ market? I just want to see what is going on… and make some friends?” Ann’s voice broke. The tears dribbled down her face. Her brown eyes were attacked with emotion.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the table: “I said no! There are adults there that take kids, and, and, and, well… ” Josie was about to confess her deepest secret. Her voice broke. “Well, you are all I have left.” Josie ran over to Ann and held her tight. “I am keeping you safe.”

Suddenly, Ann understood why Aunt Josie was so strict all the time — she was making sure that Ann lived a happy and safe life. But Josie was flexible, so the next day, Aunt Josie took Ann to the market. But when they looked around, it was crowded with people.

“What is happening?” Josie asked a shopper right next to her.

“Well, today is the freedom parade,” he answered like it was obvious.

“Are the shops still open today?” Josie asked.

“Of course! They are in Westwind! Just take the train to Redmaw, then walk to the Map seller, and he will take it from there.”

Aunt Josie was so perplexed that she almost fainted. “Um, WHAT?”

Ann was also bewildered. What were all these towns?

“Here, let me take you to the train station, okay? Then you will get what I am talking about.”

Ann glared at him. How was she supposed to trust him if he didn’t tell them his name? 

Aunt Josie was reading her mind. “What is your name?”

“Max. My name is Max.”

Ann gave him a dirty look. “Why didn’t you tell us?” she scowled at his weak figure.

“I do not trust all people…”

Of course, because Aunt Josie was Aunt Josie, she stared daggers at him and asked him for proof. While he was rustling around in his battered pocket, she slapped him across the face, and a trickle of blood went down his cheek. She pulled out a flask that she carried around. The things I live with, being the niece of a scientist, Ann thought. Josie put his blood in the flask, and it turned black. Ann rolled her eyes, and sighed. Not this again.

“Who are you?” Max asked.

But Josie muttered under her breath. “I’ve never seen this before…” She quickly smirked. “Okay, fine, you can take us to… what, Westmaw?”

Yes, thought Josie, the capital, where the Red Tavern is, where that mayor lives, where I can take the beacon to get home

Little did Josie and Ann know, the market was not in Westmaw. It was in the stronghold.

So, they got on the train. The train conductor was going to stop at Redmaw last. Finally, after a long time, he announced, “Next stop, Redmaw.”

Even though Ann was expecting the voice to come, it never failed to make her jump. When she looked around, she saw Aunt Josie sleeping. When she shook Aunt Josie, she woke up with a start.

“Huh? Where am I?”

Meanwhile, in the backseat of the train, Max was very quiet reading a book. Aunt Josie nudged him to follow them, so by the time they were at the map seller, it was dusk, and the stars were as bright as the sun against the navy blue sky. Ann was immersed in her thoughts — the ones that bothered her the most, about her parents. Aunt Josie never told me about them, who are they? I call her my aunt, but I don’t even know if we are related. I mean, she is old enough to be my aunt… I have to find out. Oh! I remember Aunt Josie never talks about Grandma Izzy… Maybe I can talk to her?

Aunt Josie was fighting with Max for, like, the fifth time this hour.

“I told you, the map seller was closed! What do you have? Oh I know, a bad memory.” Max smirked. He enjoyed making people feel bad. That Josie woman only has a suspicion of who I am and what I am capable of…

Aunt Josie was still mad at him, and when she was mad, nothing good came after. “Listen here you toad sack. You just let me get some food, and then leave me and my family alone… okay?”

Toad sack! Max thought. She drew the line right there.

This was where Ann decided to speak up. “Stop, Aunt Josie! He is trying to help us and get us food.”

Ann did not even understand why they were even going with Max. Or why this was important to Ann or Aunt Josie, or why they were taking this so far. She just was getting sucked into the abyss of obedience.  


Josie was determined to find out who Max was and what he wanted. While Max and Ann were sleeping, Josie went into the woods near the campsite. They were sleeping next to the road. They were at an old camping site and were renting a rickety cabin that swayed with the slightest movement and creaked with the smallest breeze. They were not allowed to use anything that had anything to do with fire because the cabin was made out of old oak wood and bark. It had been left behind a long time ago. Now, time to get to the exciting part…


When Josie was walking in the forest, she heard whispers. She turned her head. No one there. Pull yourself together, Josie. Who would be awake this late? She hesitated. Someone that’s not me. She went deeper into the woods. The second she went to the woods and saw the trees turn a darker shade of green, she saw a clearing. In the middle of it was a little gold coin. She picked it up, and it had the same markings of the coin from her mother’s room. When she saw it, some memories flashed in her mind, and then she heard howling in the wind. She rushed back to the rickety cabin where she found everyone lying and sleeping silently on the dusty ground. 

When Ann woke up, the sun peeked into the window. Ann walked to the plain of daisies and saw Aunt Josie fighting with Max on the riverside, so she stepped closer to hear what they were saying. They were just talking about what to have for breakfast. When she inched closer, she saw a little glint in Aunt Josie’s pocket — a coin. When Ann went to touch it, Aunt Josie tried to slap her hand against Ann’s… But it was too late.


Kiki the Witch


It was a normal Saturday, and I was taking a walk around town running some errands. 

“Hi Kiki,” said the baker. “By the way, a girl stopped in here and wanted to know where you live. She said her name was Maya.”

How funny, I thought. I don’t know anyone named Maya.

“She told me to tell you to meet her in front of the clocktower at 4:30,” the baker told me. 

Now I was getting scared. But I was interested. So, I quickly ran to the clocktower. A girl with short curly brown hair and glasses waved at me.

“Hi,” she said.

“Hi,” I replied.

The girl was wearing an all green uniform. Her hair was brushed. She looked very different from me. I was wearing jeans, a white t-shirt, and red Converse, and my black hair was pulled in a ponytail.

“Who are you?” I said.

“Why, I’m here to take you to the Witch’s Institute.” 

“Wait, I’m a witch?! I cannot believe this!!”

“Yes, you’re a witch! Now let’s go!”


Maya got out her bike and told me to get on. She started to pedal, then she started to pedal super fast. Suddenly, we were flying — well, for three seconds until the bike started to drop. We landed in a pile of leaves.

“What just happened?’” I asked.

“My wand fell out of the bike basket. That’s what keeps us levitated. Help me look,” said Maya.

We rummaged around in the leaves for a few minutes.

“I found it!” Maya yelled. The wand was in a sharp thorny bush a few paces off the path. She ran to go get it and then stopped. “That’s poison ivy and I’m wearing a skirt! You need to go get it.”

“No, I can’t.”

“But you’re wearing pants,” Maya said.

“Fine, I’ll go get it!”

I ran as fast as I could, hoping I wouldn’t touch the poison ivy. I grabbed the wand and ran back. Maya patted me on the back, put the wand in the basket, told me to hop on!


We flew for about thirty minutes, and I tried not to look down. Finally, we arrived. The Witch Academy was big and made out of bricks. Maya led me in. She handed me my uniform, a map of the school, a wand, and a canvas bag to put everything in. Then she told me that I would pick out a cat tomorrow. A cat! I was so excited. I loved cats. Then, Maya showed me my room. Nice, I guess. There was a twin-sized bed, a closet, a small window, a navy blue quilt, a wobbly stool, and an old fashioned rug. Next, Maya gave me a tour of the school. I saw lots of other witches come from classes. Then, Maya and I sat down to eat dinner. Maya introduced me to her friend, Lily, and we became friends. After dinner, I went back to my room and got ready for bed. As I lay down to go to sleep, I realized that I was about to become a real witch.    


Next morning, I was woken by Maya, who told me it was time to go get a cat. So, I brushed my teeth and hair and put on my uniform. Maya led me downstairs to a room full of cats. There were black cats and small cats. Suddenly, a tabby cat kitten rubbed against my leg.

“I’ll take that one,” I said.

I picked the cat up and carried him upstairs. Next, I went to potions class, then witch history class, then basic spell class. Overall, I liked being a witch. I still missed my parents from time to time, but I had my cat and my friends, and the best part was that it had been almost a year at Witch Academy, and I will be going home for summer in a week. 

To be continued….

Tales of the Burrow

Part 1: A Brief Introduction to the Burrow

Excerpt from The Traveler’s Book of the Burrow with notes from N. Leo:

What exactly is the burrow?

The burrow is a city on a planet that floats just at the boundaries of a black hole.

It is sometimes on the ground and sometimes in the sky*1.

It can fly and has lots of entrances.

One entrance is the gate.

Most people enter the burrow from the gate.

The gate is a tall arch with lasers that can be sealed like a fence.

On top of the arch are the guard posts that house superheroes*2.

It is a part of a laser wall which encircles the burrow.

Inside people that want to go inside are signed up and inspected to make sure that they are peaceful.

Everyone who is peaceful is allowed in the burrow*3.

The second kind of entrance is multiple ports which only some people may fly into.

There are holes in the laser wall like doors that let ships in when the burrow is airborne and cars when it is not.

They often connect to people’s houses.

Inside the burrow has four sections.

The living section, which is composed of flat laser streets in which people drive in anti-gravity speeders, and houses which are sometimes connected to ports below them.

The trading section is where all people socialize and all the businesses and schools are there.

The burrows gates lead directly there.

The criminal section, otherwise known as the vault, where all the captured supervillains live in laser houses and are served casha for every meal.

And the burrow section, which is dominated by the burrow, is a vast building with 2948 floors, 50*4 of which are known commonly.

20 floors are contributed to guests, or superheroes.

Level 3 and above burrow citizens all have private quarters here.

That is the burrow*5.

Who are notable characters of the burrow? 

Doctor Bunny:

Doctor Bunny is a cunning mad scientist who is one of the four mad scientists of the burrow.

He is the general of the bunny army and has led three bunny crusades.

He is a level 3 burrow citizen and lives at monkey street in the living section.

His house is connected to port 3-A5 A.K.A the Port of the Bunny.

Doctor Wolf:

Doctor Wolf”s personality can be described as radioactive.

He is another one of the four mad scientists of the burrow.

He is obsessed with everything radioactive and is the author of An Ode to Radiation by D. Wolf *6.

He is also the author of many other books including the Famous Guide to Mutants by D. Wolf*6.

He is a level 7 burrow citizen and lives on Beast Street in the living section.

Nice Leo:

Nice Leo is a substitute teacher at Sheep School Elementary.

He is another of the four mad scientists of the burrow.

He loves robots and has a special ability of resurrection.

He is the author of A Day in Sheep School by N. Leo.

He loves reading books and lives on necron street in the living section and is a level 3 citizen.


Rescue is the sole level 6 citizen of the burrow.

She lives in the burrow and leads the four departments.

She has wrote laws 30-40*7 in the burrow book of laws.

The Sheep;

Not much is known about the Sheep.

They were there when the founder of the burrow came and built the burrow.

They are as old as Nice Leo*8.

They live in the burrow.

Their citizen level is unknown.

What are the 7 levels of citizens?

In the burrow, all people who have ever signed up have a level pass.

This shows where they live, what responsibilities they have, and what their authority ID is.

It ranges from 1-7, 1 being the least authority, and 6 being the highest.

1: low level: guest

2: common level: citizen

3: advanced level: active citizen

4: very advanced level: member of the governing of the burrow

5: elite level: high-ranking member of the governing of the burrow

6: supreme level: leader of the burrow.

7: special level: potentially dangerous citizens

The known floors of the burrow (uncompleted)

1=lobby: a huge room with some couches and tables where people wait to be received.

A desk at which a superhero sits and receives people.

An elevator.

A gate (common entrance of the burrow).

2-5=meeting floor: contains 100 meeting rooms in which the inhabitants of the burrow meet.

Details of the rooms vary.

6-10=bunker floor: a large floor made of pure adamantium.

Contains food supplies, self defense weapons, and entertainment for up to a year for 50 people.

11-13=the bedrooms: all level 3 citizens and above have bedrooms here.

Sheep sleeps here.

Rooms serve as storage, temporary to permanent housing, (people’s houses get destroyed a lot).

And many other functions.

All rooms have elevators connected to them.

14=nature floor: a huge room with walls made of towering trees.

Contains a clean grassy area which is perfect for picnics, a rocky slope for rock climbing that has an overlook to a stream coming from the burrow drinking water channel that leads to a pond.

Burrow citizens can swim here with the ducks in clean water.

Level 5 citizens may choose to live in vast tree houses here*9.



1*: that only happened once.

It did not work out very well. (see: the airborne burrow)

2*: not very good ones in my opinion because the burrow gets destroyed 3 days a week.

3*: if necrons and orks are peaceful, everyone is.

4*: actually, at the start of the first bunny crusade, I had an adventure and discovered some more.

5*: some of it at least.

6*: they are good books.

7*: also law 41 which states that all living things in the universe are moose, which I helped make but that statement/law/religion got destroyed after the mooseian heresy.

8*: which he is not in my opinion.

Come on!

He is in 2nd grade!

In sheep school.

9*: when will I be a level 5 citizen!


Part 2: When Moose Attack (Short Story)

Nice Leo was walking down the street when this story started. Sheep was walking beside him. Suddenly, Nice Leo saw a huge cinder block falling from the sky right on top of Sheep. Smash!!! Nice Leo gasped. He ran to the nearest superhero.

“Sheep just got crushed by a giant cinder block!”

“Oh my god, we need to tell everybody!” said the superhero. He started running around and telling everyone.

Nice Leo heard: “Moooooooo, mo, mooo!” 

The moose ambassador was standing over the sheep.

Oh no! thought Nice Leo. Sheep is their emperor! (See part 3: bonus information.) Soon, almost half the burrow was in Doctor Monkey’s hospital.

“I — I — I am afraid he has stopped breathing!”

Everyone gasped. Doctor Wolf spoke.

“Sheep has been eaten by zombies, zapped with laser guns, starved, and he never died!”

“How could he be dead now?”

“I am sorry, but he has stopped breathing!” said Doctor Monkey.

“That’s right, he is totally dead so there is no need at all to look at him any more,” Doctor Bunny said with his ears back. Everyone was too busy crying to hear him.

Nice Leo noticed two things.

One, that sheep teacher and no one from sheep school was here, and two, that if the moose admiral found out about this, he might think that the burrow had purposely assassinated the sheep.

Nice Leo’s fears were confirmed as he saw through the security cameras that seven moose marines and the moose admiral were coming into the burrow.

“Hello, what business do you have — boooooooooooooom!!!”

The welcoming superhero had asked that question and was incinerated in a flash of laser power as one of the moose marines shot his firearm at them.

“Meh, meneh, meneeeeeee!” said the moose admiral.

“The moose are attacking!!!!” Nice Leo screamed. Soon everyone was panicking, rushing to their homes or the bunker floor. Nice Leo caught a glimpse of a huge mooseonaght ravaging the burrow defense force. He had to help the burrow defense force! He took a laser cannon and power sword and went to battle against the moose. He ran into a clearing and saw a huge mooseonaght smashing a superhero against a house while three more fired at it, the repulsor beams simply pinging off it.

“Death to the moose!” Nice Leo screamed and shot his laser cannon. The laser cannon had sufficient power to slightly annoy the mooseonaght. It turned its head and Nice Leo threw his power sword at it. Now, it was really annoyed. Nice Leo ran for his life as the mooseonaght chased him. He ran straight into one of the moose marines. He took out his power sword and he and the moose marine engaged in a furious sword duel. Then he saw the lumbering mooseonought behind him and he ran away. Eventually he reached his home. Or what used to be his home. It had been reduced to flaming wreckage. And the sheep class, including Sheep, were standing in front of it.

“B — But you”re dead, Sheep,” said Nice Leo.

“Sheep not dead!” said Sheep.

Sheep teacher spoke. “Um… Nice Leo, we were going on a field trip.”

“But Sheep got crushed by a cinder block!” Nice Leo said.

“Oh yeah, that?” said Doctor Bunny, coming there. “That was my Sheepotron 2000.”  Everyone glared at Doctor Bunny. “What, is it my fault that the moose invaded?        

The end  

Part 3: The Best day Ever (short story)

Excerpt from The Complete Records of the Burrow by D. Wolf:

Doctor Wolf inspected his new mutant.

“Two little tentacles,” he decided, and pressed the “grow tentacles” button. It was weekends like this that he loved. He could just sit in his lab all day, writing books and creating new mutants, and on the best of days, releasing them in the living section. It was very entertaining to watch how they developed. But today was going to be the best day ever! He had finished developing his newest creation, the psy-alpha! He wrote in his diary.

Dear Diary,

Today is going to be the best day ever!

The tentacle and eyeball mutants are developing well and I just can”t wait to release the psy-alpha!

More tomorrow, D. Wolf.

Then he got up and said to himself: “Now it is time to release the psy alpha. How about I release it near Nice Leo’s house? He screams with joy every time he sees one.”

Doctor Wolf brought the cage to Nice Leo’s house, went back to his lab, and opened it digitally.

These sounds in this order came from Nice Leo’s house:

  1. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  2. SMASH!!

“He must have loved it!” said Doctor Wolf. A floating brain with one huge glowing eye and lots of green tentacles burst from the roof of Nice Leo’s house. “Shame about his house though,” Doctor Wolf remarked. The burrow alarm sounded and squads of superheroes started firing at the psy-alpha. “Now what are they sounding the alarm for?” Doctor Wolf wondered. The psy-alpha sent a bolt of psychic energy that reduced a squad of superheros to ruin. “Awwww, your first psy-bolt!” Doctor Wolf cooed. Nice Leo came up the steps to Doctor Wolf’s observatory.


“I gave you a present! It’s over there eating a squad of superheros!” Nice Leo took a laser gun and shot at the psy-alpha. Its psy-shield deflected it and it rammed through Nice Leo’s brain. As Nice Leo fell to the floor, Doctor Wolf said: “It does not like when you shoot at it Nice Leo.”

Rescue and five more squads of superheros came directed concentrated fire at the psy-alpha. One of Nice Leo’s surrogate bodies came up the stairs. The psy-alpha vaporized Nice Leo’s house where  a superhero was hiding.

“My poor house!” Nice Leo cried. Finally, the psy-alphas shields failed and it was blasted to pieces.

“Awwwwwwwwwwwwww… ” Doctor Wolf said.

“Maybe Nice Leo doesn’t like mutants. Next week I will release the eyeball monster near Doctor Bunny’s laboratory! He must love mutants.”

Part 4: The Tech Club (short story)

Excerpt from The Complete Records of the Burrow by D. Bunny:

Doctor Bunny checked the time. It’s time for the tech club! he thought. His doorbell rang. Doctor Wolf, the moose ambassador, and Nice Leo were there. Five minutes later, they were all sitting inside.

“Today, we will be playing with dangerous explosive chemicals!” Doctor Bunny announced.

“Mooo, moooo, moo, mooo, Mooooooo, mooooo!” exclaimed the moose ambassador.

“Yes, that is very important, everyone. Do not let fire get anywhere near the chemicals!” Doctor Bunny said. Nice Leo tried to build an explosive charge lobbing cannon.

“And so I put the fire ball next to the explosive chemicals and-” Nice Leo said.

“Don’t do that — ” Kaaaaabooooooom!!! 

“I TOLD YOU NOT TO DO THAT!” Doctor Bunny yelled.

“But it was such a good idea!” Nice Leo said.

“Moooo, moo, mooo!” said the moose ambassador.

“He wants to go next,” Doctor Bunny said. The moose ambassador took out a metal rod.

“Mooo, mooooo, mooooooooooo, moooooo, mooooooooo, moooooooo,” said the moose ambassador. He pressed a button on the rod and two hollow stones filled with the explosive chemical rocketed upwards. Then the rod sent out a plume of flame. The rocks exploded and flaming chemical coated bits of rock rained everywhere.

The first explosion was followed by more as those pieces of rock exploded and rained more. Three minutes later, Doctor Bunny’s living room had been reduced to flaming wreckage. After Doctor Bunny had finished yelling, it was Doctor Wolf’s turn. What looked like a large fleshy balloon with a lighter stuck in it floated into the room.

“This is a miniature homing bomb,” said Doctor Wolf. “It is full of explosive chemicals, it follows its target and when it finds it ignites the lighter stuck into its side which makes it go boom!” 

“That’s cool, um, who is it set to now?” said Doctor Bunny.

“You!” said Doctor Wolf.

Kkkkkkaaaatttthhhhhooomm!!! After Doctor Bunny’s resurrection, they continued. It was Doctor Bunny’s turn.

“I made an explosive sword,” he said. “It is an explosion proof sword that is coated in explosive chemicals. When it hits another weapon, it explodes and destroys the other weapon and anything else in the vicinity. But you are not harmed because it comes with explosion proof power armor!”

Doctor Bunny put the explosion proof power armor and hit Nice Leo’s unsuccessful invention with it. KRACK! Nice Leo’s invention was gone.

After that, they had steak with mushroom salad and caramel cake for dessert. Then, Doctor Bunny said goodbye and everyone left.

“See you next week,” Doctor Bunny said.

That night when Doctor Bunny wanted to douse the fire, he saw a peculiar huge jug of what looked like water, labeled: fire extinguisher. “Hmmmmm, I don’t remember this,” said Doctor Bunny. “Well, I might as well use it to extinguish the fire!”

The last sound that night was the explosion of a jug full of explosive chemicals being poured into a fire.

“That’s what you get for incinerating my house last tech club when we were playing with disintegration beams,” Nice Leo muttered at his house. 

The Three Adventurers and the Big Monster

Chapter 1

One day, a girl named Giselle came along and found a secret door in the woods. It was locked, so she looked in the bushes and she saw the key. She unlocked the door before she went in, and she looked around and saw her sister, Sydney. She said, “Sydney, come quick!” and ran as fast as she could. They saw someone outside and they shut the door super fast. “Where were you, I texted you?” Giselle whispered.

Sydney said, ”My phone was dead, I couldn’t text you back.”

They heard a loud THUMP, BOOM, BAM! Sydney quietly opened the door a tiny bit… it was big and scary… IT WAS A MONSTER!

The monster was green and yellowish. Giselle shut the door and Giselle was very scared. She screamed very loudly.

“Shhh! We don’t want anyone knowing where we are,” Sydney said. There was a big bug. Giselle hated bugs. She stepped on the bug — but she had her new Vans on, and they were rose gold. She was trying not to cry but she was really upset. Sydney was just on her phone paying no attention to her. Giselle quietly went out of the room. Sydney heard the door and she looked out and saw Giselle. Sydney ran to Giselle. The monster was trying to come for her but it walked too slowly. It had two legs like a human but it was big and walked super slow. Sydney was running as fast as possible.

Giselle said, “Sydney you were just on your phone the whole time!” Sydney and Giselle were scared, but she tried to stay calm because the monster was right behind them. They finally escaped, but the monster kept following them, but they weren’t scared because they got used to it, though they still didn’t like it.

“OMG, runnnn, ahhh! It’s coming for us!” Sydney said.

“Shhh, mom is probably worried! Hurry, hope we don’t get lost!” Giselle said.

“Quickly, someone’s calling me,” Sydney said. “It’s probably mom, but keep running.”

“I see something weird farther up! Oh, it’s a book, I’m gonna pick it up,” Giselle said.

“No, just keep running. Ahhh! Help, the monster got me!” Sydney yelled.

“Sydney, I’m gonna dump water on it so it lets go of you. 1, 2, 3, splash!”

“Okay, keep running faster this time. I see rainbow!” Sydney said.

“Just pay attention! You don’t want to get caught by the monster again, right?”

“Just keep going! Don’t pay attention to anything else for the last time!”

“Okay, Giselle, now focus and keep running faster” said Sydney.                                                                                                                        

Sydney said, “Stop bossing me around all the time, Giselle!”

They both yelled,  “Ahhhhhh! The monster runs as fast as possible! Faster!”

Giselle and Sydney were both scared. They ran as fast as they could, trying to get away from the monster, but it was too slippery. The monster picked both of them up off of the ground, but the two girls slipped right out of the monster’s hands. The monster was about to eat them, they were out in time! He put his hands right to his mouth but they weren’t there; they were running farther from the monster.                                                                                                                                                        

Chapter 2

They were hungry because they hadn’t eaten anything in 24 hours, they were starving! They had camp the next day but they missed it because they didn’t make it home in time. They needed to have a snack or something, they could be like a human that never got full, that was how hungry they were. They were trying to find food but they were still running as the monster came along. They were trying to get back home but they didn’t know where it was.                                                                                                                 

“Oh no, Mom’s calling me. I think she’s worried. I’m gonna answer… “

Mom asked where they were. Sydney said Isabella had asked for a sleepover for 9 days, and she also said they were playing a game of checkers so that she actually believed it because she didn’t want her mom to know that they were lost. They tried to call Isabella and tell her if her mom calls and asks if they’re there or having a good time say, just say YES.

Mom didn’t know that they were lost in the woods. They knew where Isabella’s house was, so they decided to go come so their mom thought they were there the whole time.

“Giselle we’re going to Isabella’s house, turn around,” Sydney said. They did not walk too far but the monster showed up! “You can walk because it can’t jump,” Sydney said, and the branches and bushes they were walking through were poisonous to them and the monster because the monster was walking through it and it got small purple bumps on its slimy and gooey skin.

Their mom said that she was going to pick them up from Isabella’s house tomorrow because Isabella had dance, but she told her that she would go to dance with her so she was picking them up on the last day of this week. “We better hurry there, fast, run!” Giselle said. “We can stay for a while. We’ve never had a sleepover for this long. We are pretty far from her house. We have to run as fast as possible.”

“Giselle? Oh, come on, hurry, why are you behind me? You need to be next to me or in front of me or be behind me.”

“I don’t care anymore! Blah blah blah, whatever, I don’t care. We’re almost at Isabella’s house but it’s hot, we should get ice cream or an icy.”

“It’s very hot and I’m starving! When we get to Isabella’s house, I’m gonna ask for something to eat, maybe even two whole watermelons. Welp, I’m starving, so why not, I’ll eat the whole watermelon, except the skin.”

This ice cream was super good and creamy and cold. Since they were close to her house, they decided they should bike.

“Let’s go to the bike store! It’s right there. It’ll take like ten minutes,” Giselle said.

Gisella had gone here the other day. Her mom had called asking if Isabella could take them to school because they went to the same school and Mom was always so tired in the morning, and she said yes.

“I see Isabella’s house! It’s on the next block. We’re here! I’m gonna ring the doorbell,” Giselle said.

She opened the door, and Giselle said, “Hi.”

Isabella said “hi” back. She had two dogs, their names were Elinore and Frank. Frank was a pug and Elinore was a teacup. They went inside and washed their hands because they had been outside all day. Since they were so hungry, they had lunch and dinner at the same time. Since they were having a sleepover, they could stay up as long as they wanted, so they could play on their phones or maybe play Roblox or pottery life or pottery life HD. They could stay up all night! It would be so fun on their phones because remember, when they were at Isabella’s house, they could stay up all night.

“Where is Isabella?” Giselle asked.

“Oh, she is in the kitchen doing I don’t know what, I’m gonna go check. Hey, Isabella, what are you doing?” Sydney asked.

“I’m about to go to b — oh, right, we are staying up all night. But don’t you think it’s a little late to stay up? I’m a little tired.”

“Yeah, I guess I am a little tired, I’ll go let Giselle know,” Sydney said.

Chapter 3

Sydney asked Giselle if she thought they should tell Isabella about the — you know, monster. GIselle said she’d be scared or something like that. Sydney didn’t think she’d be scared. So she told Isabella and she obviously didn’t believe Sydney, but luckily she took a quick picture of the monster. Now she believed Sydney.

She was very scared and Sydney knew she was gonna scream so she covered Isabella’s mouth and told her to be quiet because no one could know about it except for them three. She asked why no one could know about it and Sydney told her,

“Because if anyone else knows about it, they will get attacked too, but don’t worry, you’re safe.” Then she whispered, “I think.”

Then Sydney told Giselle that she’d told Isabella and Giselle freaked out because she may get attacked but Sydney told her probably not because the monster could only hear things that are a regular tone but if it was a whisper, it could not hear what they were saying.

So if someone said something about the monster in a regular tone, it could hear and attack the people that knew about the monster. Since the monster was huge, it had huge body parts. The monster’s biggest body part was its ears, so it could listen to everything that was about it regularly.

Isabella was just putting her dishes in the sink. “I’ll be right there, I’m coming,” she said. She was putting her dishes in the sink.

“She’s coming and she’s getting water with ice in it,” Sydney told Giselle. “She has dance tomorrow, we’re doing it with her. She takes hip hop, the song she does is Tootsie Slide. It’s a good song. When Isabella comes in the room, she’s gonna teach us the dance. The dance has more moves than you think, oh, here she comes. Hi, Isabella, do you want me to play the song on my — “

 “Yes, please, because my mom hid my phone, ok…  “

“Now I’m hot from all that dancing, can I get some water?” Giselle asked.

“Yes, of course, mi casa es tu casa, right!” exclaimed Isabella. “Sydney, do you want anything?”

“Yes, please, can I have some iced tea?”

“Isabella said, “Perfect.” 

Once it was bedtime, they ate dinner, took a shower, put on their pajamas, brushed their teeth, then went to bed. In the morning, they ate pancakes and bacon for breakfast. Then they watched Netflix. They watched To All The Boys: Always and Forever.

Sydney didn’t like that show so she was doing gymnastics in the living room. When they were done watching their little show, they decided to go to the movie theater to see A Quiet Place and A Quiet Place II, and before you say anything, Giselle is 17 and Isabella and Sydney were 16, so don’t come for them.

They took out their three-person bike, it was super cool. Giselle kept spilling the popcorn so Sydney held the popcorn. Then we went to the second movie and made it just in time for the movie.

She had a 1-person bike and a passenger bike. Once they got to the movie theaters, their mom called just to check in on them. They told her where they were and she told them to enjoy, then they all turned their phones off and took their seats. Sydney got the snacks, Giselle saved the seats and Isabella — well, Isabella ate all the snacks.

Sydney wasn’t scared the tiniest bit but Giselle was — the one screaming and spilling the popcorn, so Sydney held the popcorn instead, then Isabella said she had to go to the bathroom. 30 minutes later, she still wasn’t back, so Giselle went to check the bathroom and she wasn’t there. Sooner or later, Sydney got a text saying, “HELP!”

Sydney ran to the bathroom to tell Giselle and they ran outside and saw the monster about to put Isabella in i’s eye (which is where it eats from). They ran to punch the monster and it dropped Isabella out of its gross and slimy wet hands. When the monster dropped her, she was all wet and her white shirt was tinted a bright green and yellow. Once she was on the ground, a piece of the monster’s slimy skin fell onto Isabella and then grew back. They all were grossed out.

Chapter 4

They made a secret name for the monster, its name was Doug. From now on, if they were to even think about that monster, they would find a way to try to stop it, but if you did think about it, you had to tell the rest of the group because they all do most things together.

Giselle went to go write more of her book called Strikers, Author: Giselle McCraw, Illustrator: Chastity Hampton. She made her first book in 2018-2019. Now, she was working on her second book. The monster got a new power which was reading minds no matter where you were. So now they couldn’t think about the monster or else he would come to get them and eat them.

Tomorrow was supposed to be the day they got picked up but they still had the monster probl — Sydney gasped, then yelled for Isabella and Giselle. “ISABELLA, GISELLE! I SAID THE WORD THAT DOUG IS!” Sydney said.

“The m word,” Isabella said.

Sydney yelled, “YES, THAT ONE!”

“In the show I watched, I think we have to clap, clap, stomp, stomp, and say, ‘Keep the thing away!’ for it not to come.”

“Uhhhhh, Isabella, it may or may not be right behind you.”

She slowly turned around and screamed. Giselle, Isabella, and Sydney all yelled and clapped twice, stomped twice, and yelled, “Keep the thing away!” It roared and moved away as quickly as it could, but it was still super slow.

Today was the day they were going to picked up but they were gonna ask their mom if they could stay for two more weeks. She said, “Fine, but we have to be home by 9:30.”

Sydney said, “Fine,” but she didn’t tell Giselle until Giselle said,

“Sydney, we have to leave now.”

Sydney told her she was staying and she said, “Then I am too because won’t want to get hurt by the monster.”

The next couple of days, they went out for dinner. On their way back home, they encountered the monster.

Can you guess what happened next?

They unfortunately got eaten. There were so many more people in there. Isabella got lost and couldn’t find her mother when she was 12 but now they know where she was, in the monster’s stomach. Isabella gave her mom a huge hug but then realized it was the wrong person. They tried to climb out of its left eye but that didn’t work. They tried climbing out of its right eye and that kind of worked but they slid right back in and ZAP! They got zapped. Isabella got them free by sticking her shoe through its eye and put her sweater where they slipped. Then once they were all through, they grabbed all of their belongings and went home to get them all squeaky clean, but Isabella was on Giselle’s back because one of her shoes wasn’t clean. Giselle said, “Phew we’re home!” as she dropped Isabella off at her stop, which was her bed.

Chapter 5


 Giselle wanted to watch some YouTube, but as usual, she ended up watching Netflix instead. Then Isabella got a call from her friend Mari (Short for Mariana) who moved to Miami with her mom. Her sister stayed in New York because she has a job and so did her dad. Mari surprised Isabella by FaceTiming her right in front of her door and just showing up by surprise. They were all now having a three-person sleepover together. Isabella was sleeping in her bed, Giselle was sleeping on Isabella’s Mom’s bed, and Mari was sleeping on the couch. Mari was sleeping over until Saturday and so were they (probably).

“We are leaving for dinner in 15 minutes” Isabella exclaimed. “We are going to Panera Bread, their food is sooooo good.”

They left to go to Panera Bread at 4:00 PM. They ended up leaving at 6:00 PM and got home around 6:30. They decided to have doughnuts for dessert and tomorrow, they were going to have ice cream. At 10:00 PM, they decided to go to bed because they had a long day. But also fun!

“Good night everyone, see you tomorrow!”

“Good morning, who wants pancakes!” Giselle, Isabella, and Sydney all woke up and thought,

Who is that? We have no one else in the house besides — Mari!

They got out of bed and went to the kitchen. “You’re making breakfast!”

Mari said, “Yep,” as the oven went ding! Mari said “Oh, the pão de queijo is ready.” Pão de queijo is brazilian cheese bread. Sydney then said,

“Como você está?” That meant, “How are you.”

And Mari said, “Eu estou bem.” That meant, “I’m fine,” and she said, “E você?” That meant, “And you.” 

Sydney said the same thing that Mari said. Mari was Brazilian and Sydney learned a lot from her three friends, Gabriella, Beatrice, and Clara. They all went to her school. Giselle, Isabella, Mari, and Sydney all went to the same school, that was how they met each other. BOOM, THUMP, THUMP! Isabella and Sydney saw the monster outside. Isabella showed Mari around to get her away while Sydney tried to get the monster away. She clapped her hands twice, stomped twice, and said, “Get the thing away!” but the monster didn’t go away this time. The monster started banging on the roof for the 4th time and Mari asked what the sound was, but Isabella ignored her and said,

“Get on my back, I am going to give you a small rollercoaster ride.”

Mari said, “No!” and went to the living room to look out the window and see what it was. Sydney pulled her away from the window as the monster shrank and went underneath the door and grew back when it was on the other side of the door. Mari slowly turned around and screamed. The monster had now put Mari in its stomach.

 To Be Continued…


The Fire Man

One day, I was at a bar and the entire place suddenly lit on fire. I escaped just in time, but the others weren’t as lucky. 

The next day, I woke up and went to work as normal. But then I started randomly teleporting. And there were constantly flames on top of my hands. I was confused as to what was happening. I decided to stay at work. However, mid day, there was a sudden fire at my workplace. I Knew it wasn’t me that started the fire so I was wondering who or what did. Everyone in the bar died… or did they? It turned out that everyone in the bar got powers, same as me. Some the same, some different. I was at the bar with my friend which meant he probably got powers too. Which meant that they probably teleported out or they were fireproof, but I didn’t really feel like testing that theory. Some people had to be fireproof, though, that or some people had to have teleportation other than me. 

I asked some scientists to help me control these new powers. They agreed and so I started to control my teleportation first and they were going to see if they could get a grasp of fire second. We tried to see If I had any other super powers, like flight, invisibility or super strength. I did not have flight or invisibility, but I did have super strength. So first I tested if I could lift a car. It felt as if I were lifting a feather. Then I tried a bus. It was pretty much like one pound to me. Then a train… 5 pounds… easy. Then I lifted up a ferris wheel. For me, it was around twelve pounds. By the time we finished, it was already 11:00 PM, so I went home to go to bed. By “go to bed,” I really meant watch TV. 

When I actually went to bed, it was already 5:00 in the morning. I was watching too much of “the Flash.” And then in the morning, I had a pizza eating contest. During that, I found out that I had a new power… superspeed. I was so competitive that my hands started moving at super fast speeds. Luckily, nobody was looking at me with the exception of the scientists who were cheering me on. 

Then I tried to master the superspeed. And I lost tons of weight by running for one second, which for me was around the world. I think it was about 50 pounds. So now I wasn’t fat anymore. Then I decided to be a superhero so the scientists made me a suit. When the first bad guy came along, he wasn’t someone from the bar so it took about two seconds. He was robbing a bank and tried to shoot me but little did he know, I had super speed so I ran straight past it and took him down.

From this one event, I became famous. Then my friend that lit the office on fire robbed a bank, so that was not very good. We both have the same powers. I hope he didn’t know about some of them. Even so, he probably didn’t know how to control them. He definitely knew about the super speed because he was just speeding around town. He took a wrong turn to his house so I got to his house and teleported through the door. Then I started speed punching him until he got knocked out. I brought the money back to the bank and then I took him to the maximum security prison where super humans couldn’t use their powers. But then a magic suitcase appeared in his jail cell. He opened it and it teleported him out of jail.

The first thing he did was run to me and he choked me. Why can’t I teleport? I thought, but then this guy came out of a secret door and blasted my friend with a laser and then he got sent to a maximum, maximum security prison. Meanwhile, I was off fighting bad guys, and then the next guy from the bar appeared. I didn’t know what powers he had so I had to hope he had the same powers as me and and I recently bought a new house for my girlfriend and me. There were two bathrooms, a pool, a hot tub, a trampoline, and three flat screen TVs.

The bad guy was robbing a grocery store, but right before he left, I teleported to the exit and he shot a fire bullet and I thought, WHAT THE H*LL IS THAT?! I teleported behind him, wondering what had happened. Then I tried to punch him, but he sensed me and teleported behind me and punched ME, and well, he got away. I got injured, but luckily my super healing made me go back to normal in about one hour so that was good, but if a bad guy struck before that, then we were doomed. Unless… if someone else who was at the bar was a good guy, then they might go attack if a bad guy did strike 30 minutes later. You guessed it: a bad guy struck, and it was the same guy who robbed the grocery store but then this girl flew in and punched the guy midair. “Ouch!”

“Why does she have super strength AND flight? That is too much!”

He tried to shoot a fire bullet, but he missed and then a sniper tranqed him so they could bring him to a maximum, maximum, maximum security prison. When I was healed, I asked her what her name was and she said, “My name is… ”


The Grain

It felt like a nightmare. Maybe it was. Or maybe it never happened at all. By the time you finish reading, you’ll know what I mean. 

MONDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2031, 1:15 PM


“Jennifer, would you like to share your report next?” 

I smiled as Ms. Bragenstien acknowledged my raised and wriggling hand. 

“Of course.” I strode to the front of the room and grabbed the Grain Projection Chip (PC) connected to the Smartboard from her desk. Ms. Bragenstein said nothing, only smiled silently and expectantly as I plugged the PC into the Grain slot in my head and murmured, “Saturday, October 3, 2031, 5:00 PM.” My Grain presentations were already almost legendary at Emeryville Middle School. 

The Grain was invented in 2027 as a security device to monitor released prisoners. Their Grain recordings would be reviewed to make sure that they weren’t participating in any illegal activity. Thanks to the Grain and its memory recording power, crime rates plummeted phenomenally. But over the years, people started to implant it voluntarily, so they could relive the best moments of their lives. These days it was common, with babies getting it as young as 2 months old. There was even talk of making it legally mandatory. And if you didn’t get it, you were deemed suspicious — people assumed you had something to hide. 

I grinned at Ms. Bragenstien as the recording began to play on the Smartboard at the front of the room. 

SATURDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2031, 5:00 PM


I smiled in the mirror, made sure my hair was neat, glanced at my notes, and began. 

“This report is on a very serious topic: The Cha — ”



The door burst open and I stepped into the Oval Office. The door slammed shut behind me. President Jackson looked up from the letter he was skimming and stared at me. 

“Marshal Jackson,” I growled. My voice didn’t sound like my own. “It’s time to pay for your crimes.”

Before he could stop me, my knife was hurtling toward his heart. It found its mark. Jackson collapsed with a thunk

Almost immediately, two men in black suits with guns jumped out at me from behind blue drapes on both sides of the room. I ran. 

The window exploded in a shower of glass behind me, the grass outside rushing up to meet my feet before me. 



Everyone in the room was speechless. 

For a minute. 



My chest heaved up and down, beads of sweat starting to form around the hole in my head where I had yanked the PC out. I took a deep breath, tried to compose myself. Tried to look less panicked than I really was. 

“Ms. Bragenstein,” I began. “This is all a big mi — ”

“Jennifer,” Ms. Bragenstein interrupted. Her voice was oddly stiff. “Did you assassinate President Jackson?”

I was shocked. “I — what — no! Ms. Bragenstein, I have no idea how that recording got in my Grain!”

“You — you’re lying,” she said coldly. It nearly broke my heart. “No one can alter their Grain.” 

“Please!” I cried. “I can give you my report now! The Challenger — ” The other kids were staring. I didn’t care. All that mattered was Ms. Bragenstein and if she believed me, but she was unmoved. I panicked. Tears started to wet my cheeks. 

“I didn’t know you had this in you, Jennifer.”

“Please! You know where my house is — where I was recording! Wembly road! That’s nowhere near the Oval Office! How could I — ”

“That could have been any mirror. I didn’t see your surroundings, murderer,” she spat. “I suppose that was a confession. Rather odd way of doing it, but — never mind. The police will be here soon.” She picked up her phone to dial 911. 

I ran for the door.

MONDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2031, 1:40 PM


“A half-day,” I told my mom, out of breath. “I’m going to my room.” I raced up the stairs of our small suburban house before she could object. 

I slammed the door of my room and collapsed into my desk chair, staring into the mirror. How was this my life? I lied to my mom. I ran out of school. And I was about to become a fugitive from the law. I couldn’t believe it. 

Sighing, I opened my computer and grabbed the PC connected to it. I plugged it into my Grain slot and said clearly, “Saturday, October 3, 2031, 5 PM.” On the screen, I watched the recording of me — no, of someone — assassinating the president. I paused as they threw the knife. Then I took a screenshot. Their hands were darker than mine. It wasn’t me, but I couldn’t very well go back to Ms. Bragenstein and show her the evidence. She wouldn’t believe me. It still hurt how quickly she had shunned me. 

But there was no time to dwell on this. I took off my backpack and dumped out all the schoolbooks. I took the purse containing $327 from various birthdays and gifts from my desk and put it inside the backpack. Then I emptied my state quarter collections into my backpack as well (for use in laundromats). I also put in some outfits, jackets and coats, books, my computer and PC, and an empty notebook and pen. I hesitated, then tore the first sheet from it, wrote a quick note, and left it on my desk. 

Dear Mom and Dad:

By the time you read this, I bet you’ll have seen the news. It looks bad, I know. But I swear I didn’t do it. You have to believe me. I had to leave. I’m going to try to find out what really happened. 

I’m so sorry.


I put on my backpack, grabbed my sleeping bag, and headed downstairs. 

“It’s, um, actually, we’re supposed to go back because we’re going to watch a movie in the gym. With sleeping bags.” I told my mom quickly. 

She gave me a suspicious look. “And… why didn’t I get an email about this?”

“Ms. Bragenstein told us she forgot to send it.”

“Okay, but I’m going to check your Grain later.”

“Sure, mom,” I said, trying to keep my voice from quavering. If I ever saw her again, I knew what she would find if she checked. I grabbed an umbrella and opened the door.


“It… might rain.”

MONDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2031, 5:09 PM


“Oh… and a butter roll, please.” I added. 

The man at the counter of the small, grubby, cramped deli gave me a strange look as I asked for the breakfast special at 5 in the afternoon. I glanced outside to avoid meeting his eyes. The ugly Deli & Beer was topped by a faded awning in a particularly ugly shade of green. It smelled of rat droppings and hastily applied cleaning supplies. I waited patiently. 

I took out one of the books I had brought, an atlas of the United States. It had maps of the whole country, each of the states, highway and landscape maps, etc. I opened it to the general map of the country. I took a pen and made a line from Emeryville, Montana (usually Emeryville would be too small to be featured on a map, but there were so few towns in Montana that it had to be there) to Washington DC. It looked far. I probably couldn’t get on a train or plane because I was a minor, so I would have to walk. I couldn’t think of any other option. Then, just as I was thinking it couldn’t be any worse, I heard:

“We interrupt this broadcast for some breaking news. Live from the Oval Office in Washington DC, I hand it over to Josephine Merson…”

I swiveled in my red, cracked leather stool, turning my attention from the atlas to the television almost hidden in a corner of the wall. The blond woman on-screen was standing in the Oval Office in front of the president’s desk… but it looked more like a crime scene. The window behind the desk was shattered, there was caution tape everywhere, and police officers and investigators were poking around with flashlights and magnifying glasses everywhere. 

“Thanks, Paul,” said Josephine. I could tell she was distressed, though she was trying not to show it. “We’re sorry to pull you from your soap operas” — she seemed to wait for laughter — “but something much more dramatic and entirely real has happened here. We’ve just received word from the police department in Emeryville, a small town in Montana — ” At the mention of his hometown, the man, carrying my plate out from the kitchen, stopped and stared at the screen. “ — That in the local middle school, a child has just played a Grain recording of herself assassinating President Marshal Jackson.” 

I froze. This was my worst nightmare, and it was already happening. It was revealed. 

They cut to a recording of Ms. Bragenstein in our classroom with a microphone held up to her mouth. 

“Angela Bragenstein, this student — Jennifer — was under your care,” said a voice on-screen. “Did you ever get any notion that she might have done something like this? Was this expected?”

“No,” she replied breathlessly. “Jennifer was a good student. The best. But now I can see it was all a ruse.”

They cut back to Paul at his blue desk in the newsroom. Flashes of the crime scene played on a screen behind him. “The student, Jennifer Hudson, allegedly fled the classroom after abruptly tearing out the PC that played the recording, and has not yet been found.” Then my school photo played on the screen. I gasped. The man with the plates looked at me. I looked away. 

“Wait a second,” he said. I hastily pulled my hood up, but it was too late. He’d seen my face. 

“If you have any information, call 1-800-706-2948.” 

The man reached for his phone. 

I slammed the atlas shut and shoved it in my backpack. I put it on and grabbed my sleeping bag from the floor. 

The man dialed the number. He noticed me sneaking toward the door. “No you don’t,” he growled. “That reward money’s gonna fix this place up… buy me a new pair o’ shoes. I’mma finally make me momma proud.”

“Sorry!” I cried, and dashed out the door. 

“WAIT!” He yelled, squeezing himself around the counter. “WAI — ”

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2031, 8:47 PM


I stretched out my legs in my sleeping bag and tried not to cry. I’d been away from home for almost ten days. I missed my bed and my home and my family. I was lying in the dirt in my sleeping bag, leaning against a tree. Chipmunks skittered across the ground a few feet away. Owls hooted high up in the treetops. Even the animals were keeping their distance. I needed privacy. Other humans could recognize and capture me, but it was driving me slowly mad. There was only me to keep me company… 

Or maybe not, I realized suddenly. 

I remembered the person in the recording. They must have altered my Grain to put the recording there. Maybe they had left other recordings. I opened my backpack and took out my computer. I opened the Grain app, plugging in my PC. I browsed through my recordings. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary — me going to school, reading, hanging out in my room. Then I noticed something. While scrolling through the automatically taken screenshots from every hour, I saw one of a tall, white building from 6 PM on October 5. This was from just after the assassination. There were no buildings like that in Emeryville — just little delis and suburban houses. This had to be something from the secret assassin. I clicked the screenshot. A recording began to play on the screen. 

MONDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2031, 6:00 PM


I glanced up at the skyscraper, then crossed the street to the park, ignoring the honking cars. I sat down on the stone wall of the park and looked down at my jeans. 

“So, you found me. Maybe by accident. Or maybe you knew what you were looking for. If you have no idea who I am, close this recording now, Jennifer. You’ll know soon enough.”

I waited. Then continued.

“You’re still watching, which means that you now know I assassinated the president about an hour ago, and altered your Grain to frame you. You’re not going to believe me, but I didn’t mean to. I know who you are, Jennifer Hudson. You do well in school. I’ve seen your Grain recordings. You’re a total goody-two-shoes. I know this must have ruined your life. And I’m really sorry. Putting my recording in your Grain was a mistake.

“After I killed Jackson and crashed through that window — ” I let out a soft chuckle. “I took a taxi to the Rocket Pharmacy in Bethesda, Maryland. I have a… well, it’s where I’ve been living. I had been looking through people’s recordings. There was a list — well, hard to explain. I found you. You were perfect for what I needed. I know that sounds horrible, but — ” I tried to keep my voice even. “Just — try to understand. I only meant to take some of your innocent recordings, and copy them into my recordings, over when I killed the president. I didn’t know it would replace yours with mine. I didn’t know it would… switch us. I never meant for this to happen. Never. So I want to help you make this right. Go to the pharmacy. At least — at least give me a chance to apologize.”

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2031, 12:05 PM


I stopped to catch my breath behind a massive shelf of band-aids, hidden from a girl a few years older than me sitting behind the counter. The sunglasses started to slide down my sweaty nose. I briefly took them off, wiped my face with the scarf I was wearing, and put them back on quickly. I couldn’t risk anyone seeing me. I picked out a pack of brown band-aids, some disposable latex gloves, and two packs of tissues. I brought them to the counter, trying to listen to the radio while still concentrating on the girl to make sure she wasn’t studying me too closely. An 11-year-old on her own with a sleeping bag and backpack wearing sunglasses and a scarf could arouse suspicion, I had learned. 

“Your total is $9.72,” she said slowly and carefully. I put a $10 bill on the counter. 

On the radio, someone was saying, “Jennifer Hudson, who has still not been apprehended, is described as eleven years old, white, five feet tall, and with medium-length light brown hair. She was last seen on October 5, wearing a yellow collared shirt, blue jeans, and a cream-colored sweater.” I frowned and self-consciously tucked the yellow shirt I was wearing into my jeans. The owner of the shop frowned at me. I took the items, not bothering with the change, and quickly made for the door. 

“Wait a second,” I heard the girl say to me. “Get back here!”

“The reward for information leading to Jennifer’s capture is $500,” droned the man on the radio. “Her capture will warrant a reward of five million dollars. If you have information or believe you have sighted this young fugitive, simply call 1-800-706-2948.”

It still hurt being called a fugitive, even though it was kind of true. You’d think that after nearly four weeks of living on the edge and running from the law, I’d have gotten used to it. But the teacher’s pet in me could not adapt. That part of me felt like salt being rubbed on an open and infected wound every time someone mentioned the reward for my capture or how I was a dangerous fugitive. Sometimes I wasn’t sure how I could stand it.

And the worst part was, I didn’t know anything. I couldn’t learn anything. Going inside public places had led to too many close calls. I’d only gone inside this almost deserted pharmacy because I had a cut on my elbow that was probably going to get infected if I didn’t put a band-aid on it. And just my luck that this tiny place (that sort of resembled a hospital) didn’t carry newspapers. Well, it might have, but they were all already bought. That was how it was with all the free newspaper boxes on the streets, too. I couldn’t read the news, and I couldn’t watch TV. Instead, anything I picked up, I picked up by listening to people talk on the street. People wondered where I was. They talked about my “poor parents.” Sometimes how “ruthless” I was. But the most puzzling thing was this:

A few days ago I had passed an elderly couple on the street. One of them had said: “That dastardly Jennifer. So lucky that her plot was foiled. And how are you, young lady? Wait…” 

Then I had had to hide in a bush, so I didn’t hear the rest of their conversation. I’d spent the time since trying to figure out what they had meant. 

My “plot” was obviously the assassination of the President. So how had it been “foiled”? Maybe they were talking about how I had been caught. But somehow that just didn’t feel right to me. My plot had still been executed (definitely no pun intended), even if I had been caught. 

What if…

My plot was to kill the president. But what if he hadn’t been killed? 

No, that was impossible. The knife had hit him right in the heart. But still… 

However, there were more pressing problems at hand. I couldn’t get caught here. This was where the assassin had led me. It couldn’t end here. 

Summoning all my courage, I turned to face the girl, who was slowly walking toward me. “It’s all right,” she said to me unconvincingly. “I’m not going to hurt you. Just tell me…”

I took a step backward, reaching to pull up my scarf. 

She lunged, surprisingly fast, missing my arm but grabbing my hand and pulling it and the scarf down. I gasped. She’d seen my face on the news, like everyone in the country, I was exposed — she knew, she knew, she knew. 

What did I do in that moment?

In my old life, I would have tried to talk it out. I would have tried to explain, to gain approval. I would have tried to make things right. But maybe this life of crime was rubbing off on me. Maybe I was developing new habits, or maybe I was simply becoming a new person, because I ran. 

I wasn’t even thinking. I just dove to the wall, then bounced off and darted behind a shelf, sticking out a hand, sending boxes of Tylenol tumbling to the ground, blocking the girl’s path. I didn’t even feel bad about it. I wove my way through the aisles to the back of the shop, where a shelf of cleaning products stood in the center of the back wall. I looked around. I had assessed the entrances and exits of the pharmacy before I went in. The only way in or out was the door. There were locks on the windows. I could smash them with my backpack. Maybe I could get to the door and flee into the street. But everyone would see me. I had only one choice: hide.

Thankfully, the shelf didn’t make any of those horrible screeching noises when I moved it a few feet away from the wall. I squeezed in behind it, taking off my backpack and putting it on the floor. Then I pulled the shelf back as far as I could and hoped the owner wouldn’t think to look behind the shelf.

A few seconds later, I heard the girl’s footsteps. I peered through the gap between two boxes of Miracle Clean Powder. She examined the shelf. I held my breath. Then she turned around and walked back to the counter. I let out my breath in relief. I slowly, awkwardly, turned around in the small space between the shelf and the wall. Then I noticed something odd. The walls of the pharmacy were tiled, but this section of wall in front of me looked wrong. It was a little dim, but I realized that this part of the wall wasn’t a wall at all — it was a 5 foot square of wallpaper. 

It looked like a sample, the kind you might buy at a store and stick on your wall to see how it looked. I tugged at the bottom-right corner. It peeled. I peeled the whole thing off. There was a white door in the wall behind it. This was a secret door.

I felt a rush of excitement. I couldn’t believe it. Secret doors were the stuff of stories and books, but here was a real one. It was thrilling — moving — to be trusted with a real one. And even more than that — I remembered what the assassin had said. I have a… well, it’s where I’ve been living. This was their hideout. This was where I would meet them and get all my answers. 

The door looked a bit dirty but used. This was it. I picked up my backpack and, holding its handle with one hand, I turned the rusted knob of the door with the other. 

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 30, 2031, 12:07 PM


The back room of the pharmacy looked like it might once have been used for storing goods. There were dusty piles of boxes with long-faded labels in one corner. It was small, around the size of my kitchen at 22 Wembly Road: about 15 by 15 feet. There were no windows, but I felt along the wall until I hit a switch and flipped it, turning on a dim bulb hanging from the ceiling. There was a desk pushed to one wall, with a spinning-type professional chair next to it and a computer, mouse, speakers, and headset on it. There was a shelf on another wall with a microwave and a package of instant noodles. Under the shelf was a sink and — what? — a toilet. I edged away from the toilet and noticed a few potted plants on the floor. They looked like someone was watering them daily. There was a dresser next to a bed on the wall opposite the toilet. I dropped my backpack onto the small bed that was very slept in (this assassin sure was messy) and sunk into a battered armchair near the entrance. Then I remembered to close the door behind me.

I tried to relax. Papers, notebooks, and books were piled up in a corner next to the desk. The room felt like a home, but it felt wrong. Something was missing. No, someone was missing. The assassin wasn’t here. And I was getting impatient. I had come here, on his orders. So why couldn’t he be bothered to show up? 

Then I realized what some of the papers were. Newspapers. I grabbed the one on the top. It was dated October 4. The day before I “revealed my plot”.  Too early. I wasn’t going to get any news about the assassination from that. 

I kept searching. I noticed a mint-green three-ring binder with pink polka dots with tape over where a title might be written on the cover. That intrigued me. I opened the cover. It looked like it had been a photo book. But all the photos were torn out, leaving only tape and cheerful messages written in marker. It looked like a family scrapbook. Someone nicknamed “Win” and his mom. Win played soccer and a wide variety of video games. His mom worked somewhere that had a “take your child to work” day and a vending machine. 

This all felt strange and wrong. 

Tucked into the back was a copy of American News from October 11. Suddenly, the strange history of this scrapbook didn’t matter anymore. 

The headline read:


There was that word again — foiled. Heart racing, I stumbled back into the armchair and read on.

To be continued…

The Spoiled Rich Brat

May 27

Dear diary,

My name is Chloe. My dad is REALLY rich. I can get ANYTHING I want. I bet my friends are so jealous!!! I used to have a lot of friends, but now I only have 6 because they said I was too sassy and boastful. But I don’t really care anyway because the friends I have now are WAYYY better. One day at school, there was a new girl. She looked poor, so I decided to tease her. So I told my friends, “We have to make a list of things to tease her with.”

We did, but we had to buy some things that were pretty expensive. So, of course, I asked my dad for some money! He said, “Of course,” and handed me 2,000 dollars. And that was the exact amount we needed! I said thanks and headed out the door.

We went to the local shopping market to buy the stuff we needed, like trash cans, tripwire, and a lot more. My dad was friends with the manager, Bob, so once he saw my friends and me he said, “What would you like today ma’am?” 

I said all the things we needed, and he said those things were out of stock. So I screamed, “Get me those things right now, before I have to call my dad!”

He said, “Ok, ok, ma’am,” and went to the warehouse to search for the things. He came back 10 minutes later and said, “I am so sorry but there is nothing I can do.”

So I screamed again and said, “You know that this is the WORST  market I have ever been to, and I am going to give this store the WORST review!!” 

I think he got mad too, so he screamed back, “Well, I’m gonna call your dad and tell him about you!”

My friends tried to calm me down, so I screamed one last time, “I DON’T CARE!” and stomped out the door.



May 27

Dear diary,

“Chloe, I need to have a talk with you!” my dad called.

So I said, “Yes,” in my very best daughter’s voice.

Then he opened the door. I wondered what he would talk about, like would I get some extra allowance, or would I get another dog to go with my other 2 Pomeranians? But then he said, “Chloe, I am very disappointed in you. Yesterday I got a call from Bob, and he said you were very rude.”

I thought, “Oh no!” Not this AGAIN!

And then he continued, “Bob told me you said his market was the worst store you had been to, is that right?”


He started to yell, “CHLOE, YOU ARE IN BIG TROUBLE!”

And I decided that from that day, I would never talk to him ever again.



Dear diary,

Now I have to make a different plan since, you know… So I called my friends over to hang out and make a new plan. We decided to trip that poor girl from school and push her when there weren’t any teachers around. So we tried our plan and it worked. But summer break came quickly. So I said bye to my friends and walked out of school.



Dear diary,          

This summer break was the best break ever! We stayed at a resort in Hawaii and went and saw volcanoes erupting. Then we went to Colorado to a ski resort, and I thought that was even better. We went skiing on the Black Diamond, and I fell and twisted my ankle so I said, “I quit,”  and went back to the stupid lodge. When I got back to school, some kid pointed at me with my crutches. He also started laughing. So I said back to them, “Your families are probably poor as  dirt!” The truth is, basically money is all I care about. (Me in my head yelling, MONEY$$$$ 4 LIFE!)

I had to wear those AWFUL crutches for 8 weeks!!! Almost every person I walked past turned their head and looked at me. Another fact about me is that I like attention, but not this kind. Those 8 weeks were so painful and embarrassing, but at least I made it through. When I got to return those crutches I was so happy!! I yelled and screamed and shouted. My dad told me to calm down. I was about to say something, but then I remembered that I wouldn’t talk to him.



June 2

Dear diary,

Ok, so today I went to our attic to look for cool things to play with. While I was looking through some boxes, I found a diary. It looked really old and had the prettiest lace covering the edges. But this is the part I can’t believe. It said Sophie on it, and that was my mother’s name (at least I’m pretty sure). I spent the rest of the day thinking about the diary I  found and if I should ask Dad because I still am not talking to him. I finally made up my mind and went up to him. This is how it went:

“Dad? I wanted to ask if Mom wrote in diaries.” 

His answer was, “Yeah, she did, but let’s not talk about that.” He sounded sad when he said that.

So I walked back to my room. In my brain, I thought, “Wait, where is my mom? Where did she go? Did she leave us?”

That day I had so many thoughts swirling in my head. I was so tired so I went to bed.


The Secret of the World


The dark and swervy hallways led to the one room that controlled everything. The walls of the hallways were covered in dark granite and had long, steep stairs. The man got to the bottom of the stairs, and he opened the door to see that the queen was about to leave.

“What are you doing, Your Royal Highness?”

“Well, Mr. Dompettle, I am seeing my sister. She is towards the end. Why are you here?”

“Well mama, it is my job to do this. I must feed the prisoners.” 

Mr. Dompettle kept walking down the hall, placing a bowl of food in the compartment of every prisoner. Some of the prisoners complained that they needed more food and some tried to grab Mr. Dompettle by the jacket.

“Man, I hate my job. But I get to work for the queen. Not everyone can say that. “

When he got to the queen’s sister’s jail cell, she grabbed him by the coat. She told him a secret that her sister told her. It was too crazy for Mr. Dompettle to even believe. She let him go forcefully and said, “Don’t just stand there! Give me my food!”

With Mr. Dompettle’s shaking hand, he handed her a bowl of slush and went on. In the back of his head, he thought of what the queen’s sister told him. He had to figure out what it meant because all she said was a passage or poem.

Chapter 1: The Secret 

That morning, Mr. Dompettle woke up and he raced out of his cabin in the woods. He was late for work, so when he got on the bus, he told the driver, “Speed up! I work for the queen, and I have never been late one day of my life!” 

The bus driver sped up and everyone in the bus started screaming. Mr. Dompettle said the same thing that he said to the driver and everyone quieted down.

Finally, he got to the palace and ran to the changing quarters to get his uniform. When Mr. Dompettle finished changing, he ran up the stairs. Finally, he got to the room and lined up right as the queen approached the door. She rushed in and assigned everyone to their quarters besides Mr. Dompettle. 

“I know that you were running late, and that is okay, but I also know that my sister told you the secret. Don’t tell anyone, your life depends on it!” said the queen in a harsh voice. “Now go and feed my prisoners.” 

“Yes, Your Majesty.” 

Mr. Dompettle walked down the steep stairs with granite walls and started giving out the bowls of food. The prisoners did the usual and tried to grab Mr. Dompettle’s jacket, complaining about the lack of food. When he got to the queen’s sister’s chamber, she was dead. Mr. Dompettle ran back up to the queen’s room and said, “Your Majesty, your sister… Your sister… She is dead.” 

The queen rushed to the bottom of the palace, ran down the stairs with the granite walls, and went to her sister’s jail cell. Indeed, she was dead. There was a bit of thought that Mr. Dompettle killed her, but she reconsidered her thoughts and said, “Mr. Dompettle has been the most loyal; he couldn’t have killed her.”

“Take my sister out of her jail cell and bury her. Make someone make a stone. I don’t care who it is, it just needs to be magnificent,” boomed the queen. 

Mr. Dompettle helped take the queen’s sister out of her jail cell. The queen ran up the stairs with the granite walls and locked herself in her room. She got no sleep that night and just sat in her room and cried. Even though her sister had killed people, the queen was still heartbroken. She and her sister had always gotten along, but one day, they’d gotten in a huge fight that had made the queen’s entire family go against her sister. Then, the next day, she ran away. 

“WHY WASN’T IT ME!” yelled the queen.

That night in his cabin, Mr. Dompettle sat down at his table and wrote the very words that the queen’s sister told him. “The dragon’s slay, a heart of gold, a gem of beauty.” He wrote those very words on his last piece of paper and hid it in his coat. He would take it everywhere with him, so the secret wouldn’t come out.  

“The dragon’s slay, a heart of gold, a gem of beauty.” Mr. Dompettle repeated that over and over but still had no idea what it meant. 

Now one of the people that could have fixed the problem was dead, and the others didn’t even know that there was a problem. The dragon needed to be slayed, they needed a heart of gold, and they needed a gem of beauty to bring back the queen’s sister, Diana.

“Good luck, my peasants,”  said the strange voice.

Chapter 2: The stranger

Mr. Dompettle woke up, took the bus to the palace, ran downstairs and into the changing quarters, walked up the stairs, and went into the room and lined up. The queen did the same thing as yesterday: she assigned everyone besides Mr. Dompettle. 

“Mr. Dompettle, what did my sister tell you?”

“The dragon’s slay, a heart of gold, a gem of beauty,” they said together. 

Right then and there, there was a knock at the door of the palace that startled both of them. The queen told the guards that she would open the door and for them to go to their quarters, so they did. Now, she opened the door with a creak, and there was a beautiful lady with a bright red cape and a dark black suit. The beautiful lady repeated the queen’s secret in her ears and said, “You must slay the dragon in the woods, find a heart of gold, and get the gem of the land. The biggest gem in the land is a red ruby. Then, your sister will come back to life.”

The queen and Mr. Dompettle couldn’t ask for help. No one could know about this. Now, the two had to get cool suits and weapons. But it was late, so they both had to go home and be careful before they went.

“Goodnight, my queen,” said young Mr. Dompettle. 

“Goodnight, Mr. Dompettle,” said the queen.

Mr. Dompettle went home that night and had a sword and gun on the table. If there were a dragon out there, no one knew where it was. If it were in the woods, he had to be prepared.     

To be continued… 

The Closet of Doom

Chapter 1: The Closet, Part 1

I walked down a dark hallway, barely able to make out a rectangular box, a closet. I heard whispers from inside.
I couldn’t make out what they were saying. It was an old-looking closet made of wood, and I had a mysterious urge to open it.

An icy hand touched my shirt when I woke up. I was lying in bed, staring up at a spider web in the corner of my bed. I looked down at my nightshirt to see that it was soaked and that the glass of water I had left there before I went to bed had spilled onto my shirt.
I looked at my alarm clock. 2:58 AM. Friday the 13th. August 2020.
I got up and looked out my window. I thought there was a strange rectangular box sitting in the backyard, and again I heard whispers like in my dream.
I had a strange urge to go downstairs, outback, and open the closet door.
Suddenly, I was no longer in control of my mind. I was looking through the eyes of a person I didn’t know, their memories. This person had stepped into the closet and was screaming as he fell into a dark hole. The words Friday the 13th. August 1913. 3:00 AM flashed into my head. Everything blacked out, and then it showed another person — a girl this time — looking out of the window of a room the same shape as mine but decorated differently from the same dark closet. She looked around, and I saw a calendar in her room.
It said: Friday 13th. August 1957. 63 years ago. An old-fashioned alarm clock in her room said it was exactly 3:00 AM. She stared at the closet and seemed to make up her mind as she stepped out into the cold night air and went to open the closet door. She was just about to open it when I came back to my senses.

It was 3 days later at 7:30, and my mom was calling me.
“Aidan! It’s time for school. Wake up!”
I got dressed and went downstairs to find my younger brother already sitting at the dining table eating his breakfast.
“Did you sleep well?” asked my mom.
“Yes,” I lied. I had actually stayed up all night like on Friday and Saturday, thinking about the closet. “I need to go to the backyard to check something.”
“Can I come?” asked my younger brother, Jacob.
“No, it’s not something you want to see,” I said.
“Just take him,” my mom said.
I sighed. “Fine.”
“YAY! We’re going on an adventure,” shouted Jacob.
We stepped outside and walked to the backyard.
There was no closet there.
I bent down to where the closet should have been, but there was nothing except a few lines where my family had stepped, like everywhere else in the yard.
“Nothing,” I muttered to myself.
My brother frowned. “What?”
“Nevermind, you go to school. I’m coming.”
He jogged off to the garage to get his bike. I was about to do the same when I realized it wasn’t lines on the ground but 12 numbers.
“Odd,” I said aloud.
“AAAIDANNN!” yelled my brother from the garage.
“Coming!” I said, casting a final glance at the 12 numbers.

Middle school. The most boring possible place I could be. My history teacher, Mr. Hamilton, was giving us a dull lecture about the war of 1912.
“It dated from October 8th, 1912 to July 18, 1913, and it was part of the Balkan wars,” he said, but I didn’t hear the rest of his lecture. I was once again looking at the old closet and had the strange sensation of opening it.
“Aidan! AIDAN!!! Time for lunch,” I looked up to see my best friend, Nicholas Smith, shaking me hard.
We walked down to the lunchroom and waited in line to buy our lunch. Nicholas had bought his food, and it was my turn. I glanced at the lunch lady and realized with horror that she looked exactly like the same closet I had been thinking about all day.
I closed my eyes. When I open them, I thought, she’ll look the same as she always looks, not like a closet.
I opened my eyes and there was nobody there, no closet or lunch lady. Only the students eating lunch. I looked down at my tray of food and realized I had a hamburger and fries on my tray already. This was odd, I didn’t remember getting any food. I looked around and realized everyone was staring at me like I was a freak, and that I was the only person in line. I walked over to Nicholas’s table and started eating.
“What happened?” he asked.
“Nothing,” I muttered to him as he continued to stare at me.
“Are you feeling ok?” he asked
“Yeah, fine.”

It was after school. I had just come home and started doing my homework when again I saw the closet outside my bedroom window. I had the disturbing sensation that I had to open it.
I stepped out into the hot afternoon sun and was halfway through the backyard when my mom said, “Aidan???”
I looked back and saw my mom looking at me from the kitchen window.
“What are you doing out there?”
“Oh, uh,” I thought quickly, “I’m trying to get the soccer ball that I kicked into the backyard at night.”
“You can do that later, come help your brother with his homework,” she said.
I looked back at where the closet should have been. It was gone as I had expected, so I did as she had asked.

Chapter 2: The Closet, Part 2

I was lying in bed 5 hours later thinking about the closet and what I should do with it. I was afraid to fall asleep in fear that I would have more horrible nightmares. Should I open it or not? What was inside it? What did those 12 numbers mean? What were these visions I had about?
I awoke the next morning with bags under my eyes. I had gotten only about 2 hours of sleep that night, and those 2 hours I was asleep were full of nightmares and visions.
I ate my breakfast and walked to school, still thinking about the closet through my first lesson, science, while my teacher Mrs. Daniels was giving us a lecture about the mathematician Isaac Newton.
I kept thinking about it even at lunch, but thankfully I wasn’t stared at again. It seemed that everyone had forgotten the little “incident” that happened yesterday. Everybody, including Nicholas and the teachers on duty, seemed to be going about their days as though nothing odd had happened just yesterday.

Fortunately, nothing weird happened today. In fact, it was a relatively good day. We played soccer in gym class, and I helped my team win 7-3. The only thing that went wrong was when I got home again, I saw the closet in the backyard and had the mysterious urge I had been having for days to open it.
This is it, I thought. I was going to find out what was inside once and for all.
I took a step towards the closet then a tiny voice in my head cried, NO!
But then again, the urge to go open the closet filled me.
I made up my mind and started walking carefully towards it. When I was only a few feet away I reached out to touch the handle, just another inch…

I bolted and sat upright in bed, panting hard as I looked around the room and realized it was again 2:58 AM. Was all of that a dream? Including the school day? Or did I perhaps take a nap when I got home? My mind was buzzing with questions, all of them about the closet and what lay within it.
Then I saw something out of the corner of my eye, outside the window.
A half-robot girl had walked out of the closet!
I jumped out of bed and got a baseball bat from my closet just to make me feel safer, even though I knew that if I did meet that disturbing-looking girl, I probably wouldn’t stand a chance.
I walked out into the cool night air and looked to where the closet had been.
Unlike other times, it was still there.
Suddenly, two hands grabbed my shoulders, and I whirled around to find myself face to face with the very girl I had seen outside. I did what most other people would have done: screamed.

I awoke to find myself in a dusty chamber made of gray stone. I looked around and found an open door. I stood up and walked towards it, my knees shaking hard as I built up the nerve to look through it.
Nothing. It was nothing but a dark hallway. The closet was sitting in the middle of the hallway.
I stepped closer, put my hand on the ice-cold handle, pulled, and looked inside. I almost passed out as I jumped back to see a chair with a bunch of metal scraps in it.
No, not metal — a half-robot girl.
She looked up.
“Hello,” she said.

“Wha — what do you want?!” I stammered as she arose from the chair.
She breathed in. “Finally,” she said. “A new test subject for DOOM.”
“What???” I asked in horror.
“This,” she said. “This is the Closet of Doom. It was made in 1911 and holds anyone who goes inside it captive so we can test potions on them. I’ve been trying to find a subject for more than 60 years. There was a new hope when you were born in 2007 and your parents moved into the same house in which the maker of the Closet of Doom lived. I gave you terrifying visions of this closet — yes, I was the girl in the vision when it was 1957, and that boy was the first subject two years after it was created. Now, you will stay here while I return to my factory.”
“N-no, I’m leaving now, I’m not being a test subject in this Closet of Doom,” I said as I took a few steps back toward the room I woke up in.
“How are you going to get out of here?” she asked with a twisted smile as it dawned on me that I couldn’t actually get out of here.
“I-I’ll find a way,” I stammered.
“Good luck,” she said and disappeared.
“Hey! Come back,” I waited a minute.
No response. I wanted to start crying.
I was trapped in an underground chamber where nobody knew where I was, and I could only leave when someone came across this creepy closet, and who knew how long that would take?!

Chapter 3: My Discovery


I had been stuck for over a year now and was getting used to life down here. Only another 49 years or so, I thought gloomily. My family had probably moved on from the mysterious disappearance of Aiden Hawkins. I had figured out over the years that you do not age or need to eat when you come down here. Down here, you just wait for time to pass, doing nothing except watching the gray stone walls. The only source of light down here was a little crack in the top with sunshine coming in. That was also my only way of knowing if it was day or night, and to make it even worse, there were dirty puddles, leaves, and sticks all over the floor.
I didn’t know how I didn’t even go insane just staring at the walls and sleeping for a whole year. I occasionally heard footsteps overhead from my family playing in the backyard. The first time that happened, I tried shouting to them.
“Help me, I’m down HERE!!!” I’d yell until my throat was sore. But I had learned this dungeon was sound-proof — or something of the sort, even with the hole in the top.
I walked around, counting how many steps I walked, tapping the wall.
Suddenly, I heard a creaking sound, and the wall in front of me opened like a door leading to a long, dark hallway. My heart beat super fast, and I stepped into the dark hallway.
It seemed endless from my point of view, pitch-black and vast. I didn’t have a flashlight or anything of the sort, so I was hesitant to go inside.
I looked around the room. Something caught my eye: a pair of glasses.
Something clicked in my mind like two pieces of a puzzle. I remembered from a science lesson I had in sixth grade that you could make a fire with sun, glasses, a leaf, and water. I strained my mind to remember. Then, click. It was as if someone in control of my mind could hear me. Put a drop of water on the inside of the lens and let the sun shine down through it onto the leaf below.
I tried it once. Tried it again. The third time yielded no result. Growing more and more upset, I adjusted it to face the sun, but to no avail. A fourth time let up smoke but nothing more. Only on my thirteenth try did I start the fire.

Now carrying my makeshift torch — a stick stabbed through a leaf with fire on top — I walked down the dark hallway.
I put the glasses in my pocket, knowing they might come in handy and get me out of another sticky situation like this one.
As I walked, I passed disturbing things: skeletons, dead rats, and mold.
I walked and walked until I found a big stone door.
I pushed. It stayed shut.
I pushed harder. It stayed shut.
I pushed my hardest. It stayed shut.
I kicked it. It stayed shut.
I was about to kick it harder when something caught my eye.
A keyhole.
I knew there must have been a key to unlock this door but didn’t know where it may have been.
Suddenly, an idea flashed into my head. I rummaged around through my pocket and found the glasses. Carefully taking them out, I pushed them slowly into the keyhole.
I turned it and heard a click.
YESSS! I thought to myself. I took the glasses out. But I must have taken them out too fast because when I pulled them out, the part I had stuck in was no longer in one piece.
I put the glasses back into my pocket and pushed the door open, ready to punch anyone I saw.

Chapter 4: DOOM HQ
When the door creaked open, I saw a room. It looked like it had just been grabbed from an old-fashioned house. There was a moth-eaten couch that looked at least 100 years old, one of those old-fashioned black and white TVs with a long antenna, and a box with some fruit and potatoes — which looked as though they were very fresh and had just been bought from the store.
However, there was a modern-looking desk with a Lenovo computer sitting on top of it.
I took a step into the room and looked at the computer. It showed live security footage of a small stone room — no, the room I had been in less than 10 minutes ago,
Who lived here? I wondered. Why did they have old and new stuff put together, and why on earth would they keep an eye on people that were trapped like me? Did they create those rooms?
I looked around again. There was something else. A sign: founded in 1911, DOOM testing area A1.
Was DOOM a company of some sort? I thought. What did they test? Why did they test humans? My head was exploding with questions.
On the desk the computer sat on, I saw a box with glass beakers full of green liquids. They were labeled: foodless life potion. I put one into my pocket.
Suddenly, I realized what they were for. I didn’t have to eat down there because they had tested the potion on me. But that still didn’t explain why I didn’t age.
There was a door in the back of the room. It blended in so it looked almost invisible, and I approached it cautiously.
I pushed it open to find myself in a room exactly the same as the last one. I walked over to the computer on the desk. It showed live security footage of the same chamber I was in but from a different angle. I looked in the box to find even more glass beakers holding purple liquids labeled: potion of age-less life. That explained why I hadn’t aged in the chamber, either. I put one of these in my pocket as well.
I looked around and found a door beyond it.
I opened it and found myself in a big room I suspected was for meals because of the tables and trays.
I heard loud voices and lots of footsteps walking towards me from a hallway on the left of the room. I quickly looked around for a place to hide and leaped behind a trash can a split second before a group of robots had arrived — about 50 of them, all metal skeletons.
There were signs all around the room that read “DOOM testing area,” and the robots stepped up to megaphones. Suddenly, I heard something from the megaphones.
“YES, MASTER,” said all the robots at once. They sounded hypnotized.
I shuddered. They were going to discover that I had escaped the chamber, then capture me and test this death potion on me! Whatever that was meant to do, it definitely wasn’t something good.
I was looking for a place to run when I realized that the voice coming from the megaphone was the voice of the girl I had seen in the closet.
Was that girl the one leading DOOM?
One of the robots started walking towards me, and I half ran-half crouched, trying to escape without them noticing me. But as I passed the overflowing trash can, I tripped over a banana peel and fell forwards as everyone turned to look at me.
I did what everyone would have done: RAN!
I ran for the door I had come through, but I was stopped by a red transparent laser fence.
I looked around. One of the robots was projecting the light from its hand. I knew well enough not to run through the laser and get myself killed. The robot who had stopped me seemed as though it was the boss.
“STATE-YOUR-NAME-AND-YOUR-BUSINESS-AT-DOOM-TEST-AREA-980,” it said in a very slow voice. It stuck out a hand, and I saw a machine come out.
“Uh… I’m-I’m Nicholas Smith,” I said a little bit too fast. The robots all tensed. They had mechanisms on their hands that looked disturbingly like razor-sharp knives.
I grimaced. So the machine was a lie detector. They probably trusted me even less now that they knew I had lied to them.
“I’m Aidan Hawkins.”
“Your business?” the bot asked.
“Ummm, I got trapped here,” I said. They let go of the laser, and I took my chance and ran for the door.
I ran into the next room and slammed the door shut behind me. I could hear the bots shouting, “SECURITY BREACH. SECURITY BREACH. SECURITY BREACH. TESTING LAB A2 AIDAN HAWKINS.”
I ran to the door that led to the first room. It was closed and locked from the outside.
I was cornered. I looked for a place to hide and found a big box that was big enough to hold me.
I stepped inside and closed the flaps. The air circulation inside was bad, and it was very dark. The only light came from the crack between the 2 flaps.
I had gotten in mere seconds before the bots broke down both doors and stormed in.
“Where is he?”
“Search under the desk and inside the box, behind the door as well.”
I was doomed.

Chapter 5: Saved by HOPE

I thought desperately of a plan to get out of here, but I couldn’t come up with one. I hid there, waiting to be captured and taken to the creepy girl.
Why me? I thought. Why couldn’t someone else have discovered this closet? Why couldn’t it have been a stranger who had to fight this future-tech evil mastermind?
I looked around the box and saw a dark figure hiding there. I almost screamed, but it clapped a hand over my mouth.
“I’m hiding from them as well,” he said.
“Who are you?” I whispered anxiously.
“Benjamin Smith,” said the boy.
I fell over in surprise. “Wait a second, you’re Nicholas’s brother?”
“Who are you?” he asked.
“I’m Aidan Hawkins, his best friend.”
We shook hands.
“How did you get trapped in here?” I asked him.
“I found this closet and got pushed inside it, into a dusty chamber.”
“Really? That’s exactly what happened to me!” I exclaimed.
“Shhh, keep it down,” he whispered urgently. “The robots are coming to search this box, we’re sitting ducks here.”
“I’d like to live in freedom another minute or so, then,” I replied quietly. But there was no need. The robots were gone.
I peeked out of the box and saw an ice-colored figure standing in the middle of all of the broken DOOM robots, holding two long ice-colored swords at their sides.
The moment it saw me, it vanished into thin air and reappeared right next to me with its swords raised.
“Who are you?” they asked.
“I’m A-Aiden Hawkins. I was trapped down here by some weird closet. Who are you?” I asked them.
“I am part of the HOPE military, BOT DC 129. We are taking part in the war against DOOM. It has been going on for 134 years now.”
“The war? What is all this, and why are you here?” I asked.
“I’m a spy, and this war started like this: HOOM was a very happy place, until one of the rulers got into a fight with one of the very rich men. HOOM broke into two and started a war. There is no longer any peace. HOPE supports the king, and DOOM supports the rich man. The wealthy man in charge died two years ago, and his wife has taken over. You’ve probably seen her before: white dress, half-robot, insane smile, looks like a kid because of their ageless-life potion. I come to figure out what they’re doing,” he said all in one breath.
“They’re testing potions on humans,” Benjamin and I said together.
“What potions?” BOT DC 129 asked.
“Ageless potions and foodless potions,” I said quickly.
He eyed me suspiciously as if I was the enemy.
I looked away. “How did you teleport like that?” I asked, trying desperately to change the subject.
“We have very advanced technology. Years ahead of humans.”
“So, can we go to your base or whatever?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said, “but be careful.” He waved his hand and I became invisible.
“WOW!” I exclaimed. He did the same to Benjamin, then set off, and we followed him obediently.
He led us through a wall that looked so solid that I braced myself for impact. But I walked through the wall, and when we came through, I saw more than 100,000 HOPE soldiers lined up together.
“Why are they lined up?” I asked, amazed.
“We are preparing for the great siege,” our guide answered.
There were cryo-tanks and rocket mechs all around the huge courtroom. A big chair stood in the middle of it all, and in it sat a man with a big beard and glasses.
I suspected this was the king.
“60 seconds till we fight!” he announced. “50-40-30-20-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1, charge!”

Chapter 6: The Attack on DOOM

The sound was deafening. I saw all the 110,000 or so soldiers charging our way. I moved out of their path just as the first scouts moved in to clear the area. More and more stepped through the barrier after the scouts, ropers strapped on jet packs, and flew through the roof. Benjamin and I went through the barrier after them.
What we saw was complete chaos.
Robots were being destroyed, blue troops appearing everywhere, ropers dropping and sliding down ropes through the roof. Explosions were going off everywhere, and there was a 90% chance that Benjamin and I, if we headed onward, would trip over a DOOM robot head or arm.
I didn’t know if that was a bomb timer, but it didn’t sound good, and all the remaining HOPE soldiers were retreating.
As Benjamin and I burst through the wall, we were knocked forwards onto our stomachs by the impact of the explosion.
I looked around. DOOM soldiers were streaming in and rounding up the remaining HOPE soldiers. The king had vanished.
Benjamin and I were running towards the exit when a red laser struck Benjamin on the back and he fell to the ground, stunned.
I stopped and shook him hard “Benjamin!!! GET UP!”
He had been knocked unconscious.
I dragged him to the door and kicked it open, slamming the door shut after us.
Benjamin opened his eyes. “Hello? Where am I?”
“Come on, Benjamin, we’ve got to go!”
“Huh?” The last few seconds dawned on him. “Oh, shoot, let’s go!”
We ran down a long hallway and arrived outside on a huge grass field. I saw a big building with an electric fence surrounding it. I turned and saw DOOM soldiers running after us, firing lasers at us.
We ran to the building’s huge electric gates and shouted for someone to open them.
“Somebody open these gates! We’re getting chased by DOOM soldiers!”
Two HOPE soldiers opened the gates and shoved us inside. Then they took out two big guns and shot them through the wall, ricocheting off all the DOOM soldiers and breaking them apart.

It was 2 hours later and we had explained our story to the HOPE soldiers that were in the huge building. There were at least 1,000,000 remaining HOPE soldiers. Most of them were guarding the building up top with sniper rifles we learned they called the “AntiVirus.” The building was amazing
There was a weapon room full of weapons of all kinds and a giant dining room big enough for at least 3,000,000 HOPE soldiers. I asked where the king was, and they said that they didn’t know. I told them he wasn’t at DOOM’s base, and that he had disappeared. They then said that he was probably captured by the DOOM troops.
They told us that they planned to attack DOOM’s fort. I asked how many troops would be going, and they told me that 10,000 would be heading in first and clearing the harder DOOM troops, and then another 100,000 would be taking out the troops guarding the king. Then they claimed that DOOM would send reinforcements and that they would then send in 1,000,000 troops — 200,000 to secure the king and the other 800,000 to take on the reinforcements. Then, if everything went right, they would go back to the HOPE HQ and bomb the entire DOOM fort.


Lenmonoral Academy Part One

Chapter 1 


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

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

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


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

“And?” he asked.

“Nothing,” she sighed.

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

“But it also might never come — ”

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No, why?” 

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

Chapter 2

What they wonder and what they know

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

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

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

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

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

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

“We don’t,” the wise one said, 

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

Chapter 3

The seer tree’s advice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

“Amber, are you having… strange dreams?” 

She looked up, startled.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m an elf?”

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

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

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


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

  “Need a hand?” he asked. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

He climbed down the steps and said, 

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

“Eurora?” she asked. 

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

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

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

 “Eurora! Drop!” 

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Thomas looked curiously at her. 

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

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

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

“Only an hour left?!” she exclaimed. 

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

She gaped at him. He laughed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 “I give up,” she said. 

“You can’t just give up!” Nora said. 

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

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

“Try again.” 

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

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

“Charlie!” Amber exclaimed. 

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

 “What are you talking about?” 

“What are YOU talking about?”

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

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


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

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

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

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

She sat up instantly. 

“We’re almost at Lenmonoral Academy!” 

Chapter 4


Nora stared, wild-eyed, out the window. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


 Oliver looked at her, then asked, 

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

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

He looked questioningly at her, then looked around too. 

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

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

Chapter 5

Lenmonoral Academy

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

 “Juniper Skymist.” 

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

“What is YOUR main power?” 

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

 “And what is your name?” 

“Cattie Woodland.” 

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

“What is your main power?” 

“Ice, but I lit a fire first.”

 “And what is your name?”

 “Amber Flickspell.” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

“Go on, Nora,” she whispered. 

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She stared at Nora, not knowing what to say.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Um… yeah, it’s ice.”

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

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

“Hey, Raven! Come sit next to us!” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nora looked excitedly at 

Amber, and whispered, 

“We’re in the same room!” 

“We are?” she asked, puzzled.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nora immediately looked at Amber and raised her eyebrows. 

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

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

“How old are you?” 

“Twelve,” Amber replied.

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

“Yeah… ”

“They’re super rare.” 

“That’s what Nora said, too.” 

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

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

“There’s a library here?” she asked. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Nora stared at her, open-mouthed. 

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

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

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

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

“And her name is Eva?” 

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

“Eva! Hi! How are you?”

Eva turned, and a smile appeared on her face. 

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

“Yep, I am. And so is Amber!”

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

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

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

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

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

Now it was Amber’s turn to be surprised. 

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

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

“And what is bondlight?” Amber asked. 

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

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

She started bouncing excitedly up the stairs as Eva said, 


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

“I’m done unpacking!” she announced.

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued…                                               

City of the Forgotten People

Introduction: Katherine Smith

I’m in a forest, a canopy of trees covers me from the pelting rain. The wind whistles in my ears and tousles my hair. I feel calm and free, yet there’s something unsettling about this place.

To my left is a hill rising up to about 40 ft. It is covered in cruncy, brown grass and wilting flowers. At the top of the hill is a lone tree. It is being pulled in a tug of war between falling & staying upright. 

To my right is a vast extent of forest & greenery. Behind me, there is more forest. 

Ahead of me is a large building with a tower on one side. I take a small step forward. Suddenly, the wind picks up & it somehow rains even harder. The small tree on the hill snaps as an unexpected bolt of lightning hits it on the trunk. Slowly, a figure silhouetted against the horizon comes into view from over the hill. He or she, I can’t tell, walks hurriedly towards me.

“Go,” a deep voice bellows from the darkness. “Go & run, it’s coming for you. Go, hurry.” This time, the voice is higher. I recognize it, it’s my mom’s.

Chapter 1: Katherine Smith                                                                    

I wake up when I fall out of my bed. It hurts, but it at least wakes me from my nightmare. I look around. I’m in my bed, or at least next to it. There is no wind blowing & I can’t see that creepy person anymore. Although, I can still hear that voice.       

“Go, hurry, it’s coming for you.” Suddenly, Mom bursts in through the door. “Go, hurry, the school bus, you’ll be late.” 

 I jump up from the uncomfortable wood floor of my room and, as my mom leaves, close the door behind her.

 I fling open my closet door and grab the first thing I see; jeans, an old, faded t-shirt that used to be my older sister’s, & some tennis shoes. I get dressed and then head to the bathroom.

 I look at myself in the mirror. I’m a relatively short girl with bronze eyes and perfect, gleaming, white teeth. Most people say I’m pretty but some people say I’m special. Grandma says it’s my eyes. “There’s something about them, sugar plum,” she always says. My dad says it’s my hair. He says my mom’s special, too. 

I run down the hall & into the kitchen. There, Mom has laid out my breakfast & is now in as much of a hurry as me. “Bye, Mom,” I call as I grab two blueberry scones (one for someone special), and race out the door.

“Wait!” Mom calls after me. “Don’t forget this.” I turn around just in time to catch the backpack hurdling at me. 

“Bye!” I call. (Hopefully for the last time.)

I see the bus starting to pull away from the curb & in one last attempt not to miss it, throw a book at it. I miss it completely. I guess extra P.E. isn’t paying off. 

Well, I might as well ask Mom to drive me… again. As I walk back towards my blue & black two-story house, I take one last look at the school bus pulling away into oncoming traffic & freeze in mid-step. 

The bus driver must have seen me because she stops the bus stops & pulls it back to the curb. She rolls down the driver side window & calls, “You’re lucky I’m used to this, Ms. Smith, otherwise you would have been late”. 

“Thank you, Mrs. T,” I reply gratefully. I hand her one of the scones. 

“No one is quite like you, Katherine.” She sighs. The bus pulls away from the curb for the last time with me safely aboard. Not with my book, though.

I head towards the back of the bus, looking for a specific person. “Kat!” calls a familiar voice. 

“Peyton!” I feel like shouting, instead, I just walk calmly towards her & sit in the seat next to her. 

Peyton is an average height twelve-year-old. She has shoulder-length blonde hair, muscular body, & a dazzling smile. Peyton Bell is my best friend & has been since third grade even though we are total opposites. She is outgoing, I’m a little shy. I’m very smart, she is… well… she focuses on things like sports. 

We only have one thing in common; we have a nemesis, Arthur Morris. Peyton has a nickname for him, Slime Ball. Peyton is incredibly athletic & could beat Arthur in a fight any day. Not that she would, she follows rules. 

When we are about halfway to school, we feel a kick on the back of our seats. I groan in frustration & Peyton spins around, holding my book high over her head. “Hey, where did you get that”? I ask. 

“Oh, this?” asks Peyton, holding out the book. “When you threw it, you didn’t miss completely, it just didn’t hit the bus. Instead, it kind of went by my window that happened to be open. I caught it. You can have it, if you want.” 

“Please!” I reply, grabbing the book.

 There is another kick on our seats. An annoying voice says, “Hey, girls.” Arthur says the word like it tastes bad on his tongue. “I bet Kat over here will miss the bus tomorrow.” 

“Be quiet, Slime Ball,” says Peyton. “Or I’ll punch your teeth out.” 

“No, you won’t.” He shakes his head disapprovingly, as if daring her to. He’s right, Peyton would never touch him, let alone hurt him. 

Arthur returns his attention to whatever he was doing before he annoyed us. Peyton turns to me. “The nerve of him!” 

At least we won’t get bothered for the rest of the ride. I think.

Chapter 2: Katherine Smith

I groan as our math teacher drones on & on about division. “… opposite of multiplication… 124 divided by 4… ”               

It’s not that I hate math, it’s just that this teacher, Mr. Jones, makes it hard to like. Not only is it boring, but we learned division in fourth grade. This is why we call Mr. Jones, Mr. Drones.

My desk is next to the window. This window is all that keeps me from falling asleep. It’s too bright. Peyton sits behind me. It’s easier to pass notes without getting caught. In front of me is an empty desk. Next to me is a girl named Louissa Keene. She is one of those people who is always in everyone’s business.  

Louissa is nice enough, even if she’s a smart aleck. She seems to know most of the people in our big school. I wonder if she knows who Peyton & I are. Even though we sit less than 10 feet away from her, she has never once looked our way. 

I’m drifting off when the bell rings! Free, free, free! I think. Then I realize it’s the lunch bell. I groan & look at Peyton. She also groans & has a defeated look on her face. 

Peyton, my fellow classmates, & I walk out of the classroom in what is probably supposed to be a line but that looks more like a blob. We sixth graders are too cool for lines.

Today, Peyton brings her usual lunch, a ham & cheese sandwich with a caesar salad from the school salad bar. I have a blueberry smoothie and a hard-boiled egg. Peyton calls her lunch, “The usual.” I call my lunch… well, actually, I don’t call my lunch anything. Peyton is weird. 

As we settle down & start eating, I decide to tell Peyton about my dream. She may be a little weird, but she is a very loyal best friend. 

“Hey, Peyton, can I tell you something?” I ask. 

“It better not be about Natalie cracking your phone again,” she smiles, “because you know I’m not beating her up for you. She scares me, you know.” Natalie is my 16-year-old sister. She looks exactly like me, except she has three ear piercings. 

“No,” I say flatly. “This is not about Natalie, it’s about me.” 

“Really? That’s a first.”

“Look,” I say, wanting to get to the point, “last night, I had a dream… ” I tell her the whole story, and when I’m done, Peyton is not laughing, she is not even smiling. 

I look at her. “Well?” I ask. She looks like she just saw a ghost. 

“Ummm, Kat, what will you say if… ” 

“What!” I urge. 

“What will you say if I tell you that I also had that dream last night.” 

“I’d say you’re yanking my chain.” 

“And what if I’m not yanking your chain.” My mouth hangs open. I can tell, Peyton isn’t lying.

Chapter 3: Peyton Bell

It’s 4:00 PM & Kat & I are at my house. Mom drove us over here when school let out. Kat & I barely talked all day but now we are determined to get this whole “dream thing” sorted out. We go to the living room & throw ourselves on the couch; me lying on it belly up & Kat dangling over the edge. 

Even though it’s my house, Kat comes here so often that it’s practically like she has two houses. My house is considerably larger than Kat’s house, even if Kat has more people living in her house than I do. I have more siblings than her. They are in college right now, two twins, Allie & Monica, who just started, & Justin, who would be done but wants to become a doctor.  

“So, Peyton, what’s the deal with this?” asks Kat.

My first instinct is to say: “I’m sure there is an explanation for this.” Instead, I say, “Kat, there is something really weird going on, I know it’s not normal. I researched it on my phone on the bus & nothing came up explaining it.” 

“Okay, we just need to think. Was what I told you the exact same as what you experienced?”

“Exact, word for word, the same,” I tell her. 

“Wait.” She speaks so suddenly that she falls off the couch, her backpack hitting her on the head. When she climbs back on the couch, she has an excited look on her face. “We could ask around the school to see if anyone also had that dream.” I wanted to say that it was too risky, but when Katherine Smith has an idea, she will rarely back down. 

“It might be too risky, but maybe if we ask the right people… ” At that moment, the doorbell rings. 

Mom yells, “Can you get that, honey”? 

“Sure,” I yell back. “I wonder who it is,” I say, 

“Maybe the mailman,” Kat says. 

“No,” I reply. “He only comes in the morning, & even if he did, he wouldn’t ring the doorbell.” 

“Well, do you have a better idea?” Kat says, annoyed. 

“It could be a vampire,” I offer.

“Oh please,” Kat says. I run past her & open the door. 

“Who is it?” Kat asks, 

“A vampire,” I say, just to get on her nerves. 

Actually, it’s Arthur. He is standing awkwardly on the porch, the wind is blowing his hair into his eyes. He’s carrying a tray with cookies. “Hi, Slime Ball, what’s with the cookies?” I ask, trying not to look surprised. Never in my life would I expect to find Arthur Morris on my porch. 

“My mom made me bring them.” He looks more miserable than the time he forgot all his lines in the school play. He was considered a loser by all his friends for a week. “She found out I was coming here & made me do it. I really need to talk to you guys, though.” 

“And why would you come here in the first place?” asks Kat. She has recovered from her annoyance & is standing next to me. 

“Trust me, it’s important.” 

I am wary of him, I don’t want to make a fool of myself in my own house. The cookies make me think twice, though, & I let him in.

“So,” I say. “What do you need to tell us?” I sit down in my dad’s favorite chair & Kat sits next to me, on the beanbag chair. My dog, Cinnamon, jumps on her lap. 

Cinnamon & Kat have always had a special relationship. Of course, he loves me too, after all, he is my dog, but they are just really good friends. 

Arthur stands awkwardly in the middle of the living room, looking like when I had first seen him on the porch.

 “Sit,” I say. He does, setting the tray of cookies on his lap. Cinnamon bounds over & sniffs the tray curiously. “Don’t let him get those,” I warn. 

Once we are settled, (and once Cinnamon leaves the room), I cut to the chase. “Now can you please tell us what’s going on here?” 

He does. “I overheard you in the cafeteria, talking about that dream, well, I had that dream, too.” I expected something weird, but this… 

“Oh my gosh,” breathes Kat.

We all sit there in silence, I can hear everyone’s hearts beating. Even Cinnamon, who has poked his head back into the room, has enough sense to know that something strange is going on. He walks into the room, pausing just long enough to sniff the tray of cookies, & plops down on the floor by my feet. 

I decide to break the silence but have no idea what to say. Suddenly, I remember something from my dream. It’s not very vivid, but I know it happened.

 “Did you happen to see a bird in your dream?” I ask them. 

“Not that I remember,” says Kat. 

“Actually, yes,” says Arthur, “A big bird, flying right above me.” 

“Yeah, that’s right. Kat, you really didn’t see it?” 


“Interesting,” I respond.

We think for several tense minutes, searching our minds for anything else we can remember. Finally, Kat can’t take it anymore. 

“Are we positive we’re even forgetting anything?” 

“No, nothing,” replies Arthur. 

“Same, I remember everything,” I say. 

“I didn’t say are we positive we aren’t forgetting anything, I said are we positive we are even forgetting anything. We could know everything & we are just not able to connect the dots,” Kat said.

“I suppose — ” I’m interrupted by Arthur. 

“We are all such big idiots. While we’ve been wasting our time trying to figure out all this junk, it’s been right under our noses.” 

I sigh. “What’s been right under our noses, Arthur?” 

“The answer!” He’s really excited now. “I think we are being controlled by Aliens.” 

Chapter 4: Arthur Morris

Katherine & Peyton stare at me like I’m crazy. “… umm,” says Peyton, “you know Aliens aren’t real. Right?” 

“That’s what everyone thinks, but they’re out there alright. I know it.” 

“I think people are secretly testing on us at night,” says Katherine. 

“And you think my idea is stupid,” I mutter. 

“Actually, it’s totally possible,” replies Kat. “It’s just not as likely as my theory.” 

I roll my eyes. There isn’t much I can say to that

Peyton clears her throat. “Do you want to hear my theory?” Before either of us respond, she says, “I think Vampires have something to do with this”. 

“Vampires!?!” I say, alarmed. At the same time, Kat says, 

“What is with all this Vampire stuff!?!” Peyton laughs. 

“Relax. I’m just messing with you guys. Why so on edge?” 

“Maybe because there is supernatural activity going on in our brains. If you had a brain, maybe you wouldn’t have made such a stupid joke.”

With most people, saying that sentence would be like wearing red while a bull was around, but it just made Peyton laugh harder. “I was just trying to get on Kat’s nerves.”

All of a sudden, Cinnamon jumps up. He goes over to a certain area by the wall and starts sniffing vigorously. His tail isn’t wagging. Instead, it is sticking straight out, and his ears are too.

“Is he ok?” Kat looks worried. She and I look at Peyton expectantly. Peyton doesn’t respond. She looks even more worried than Kat, but she tries to hide it.

Finally, she whispers, “Shhh.” We stay there, listening. All we can hear is our own ragged breathing and Cinnamon’s soft whines. Then, all together, we take a sharp breath in. 

I can hear something. It’s faint, but it’s there all right. A soft hum, no louder than a bee’s buzzing. It gets louder and louder until finally, we don’t have to concentrate to be able to hear it. Suddenly, a bright blue light shines from where Cinnamon is standing. 

He gets knocked over, but hops right back up and is alright. He comes over to Peyton. She grabs him and holds him tight. When we look back at the spot the light had been, a blue and green oval has opened up. 

“What is that, a portal?” asks Kat. 

“I-I think so,” I respond. I’m not really paying attention to the portal itself, though, but what is through it. I can’t see much, but from what I can tell, there is a building, about 15 stories high, with a lot of windows. There are a few shapes moving around, but they are hard to make out. 

I get a very brief look at a tree-like object before Peyton and Kat start screaming. Soon, I start screaming too because I can feel myself getting sucked inside the portal. 

To be continued…   

From the U.S. to Japan

Chapter 1

 “What time is it?” is the question I have been asking myself as I sit in the backseat of a Tesla. I bet you are wondering how I got into this situation, right? Well, it started right after school let out, when my friend, Sheila, was kidnapped. I don’t know how, or if I will see her again. 

Now it is three days later, I’m in Tokyo, and I am riding in the backseat of a Tesla, marveling at all the fancy controls and other gimmicks that the Tesla has. You see, the US government also wants to know where Sheila is, and has supplied me with an unlimited expense account. 

“Drive faster!” I yell at my chauffeur, Jack. 

“We are already going as fast as we can!” he yells back in his clipped British accent.

We are now in hot pursuit of the people who we think have kidnapped Sheila. I believe that the leader of their organization’s wife recently died and he wants company. Apparently, Sheila was one of his wife’s long lost cousins?

His name is Dr. Ren, and we are chasing his second, #2, who gets down to business! (Hahaha.) We speed down the crowded marketplace, knocking over vendor’s stalls and not stopping at red lights or stop signs. We are not going to let them get away!

I hope that Sheila is okay. She has never handled stressful situations very well. One time, in third grade, we saw a bird fall out of its nest and she didn’t stop crying. Eventually, her mom came to pick her up, and she spent the rest of the day watching movies, so it turned out okay.

Oh! By the way, I’m Amy. Amy Sullivan, and I am 16 years old. My dad is the president of the United States. 

I didn’t realize that I was looking sad. I guess I really, really miss Sheila.

#2 makes a sharp turn down a dead-end alley, but when we turn into it, he is nowhere to be seen. 

“Dang it!” I scream.

“We were very close, Miss Amy.”

I get out of the car to investigate. I check for loose bricks, doorways, anything that could give us a clue as to where Sheila went. I find nothing. Jack also looks around, but it doesn’t look like he is having much luck, either. 

“Amy! I think I found something!” Jack says.

Or not. I walk over to him and see him holding a license plate taped to the wall, behind some boxes. Like somebody wanted us to find it. 

           356 * 1449

As soon as we get back to our hotel, I go on my computer and look up the license plate number. Nothing comes up. It figures — this guy is a major villain. Of course he doesn’t put his license plate on the internet. Or, at least not the license plate that really matters. So I text my dad to see if they have it on any records, even though we are in Japan.

It has been hours since I sent the email and I still have not gotten a response. Suddenly, I hear a ding. I rush over to check my iPhone, and sure enough, there is a text there from dad. It says that the car with that license plate was last seen at Ueno Park. I run down the hall to the room where Jack is staying.

I knock very loudly, not caring if he is asleep or not. It doesn’t matter. He stumbles out bleary-eyed, looking as though he had just gone on a high-speed chase through a Japanese marketplace, which, technically, he had.                                                                                                             

“I have to sleep. We’ll talk in the morning,” he says.

He then (rudely) slams the door in my face, and I trudge back to my room for another night of no sleep and thinking about Sheila.

Chapter 2

The next morning, I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go to Ueno Park. Maybe I can sleep after all, even though my dreams were filled with worry and regret that I could not stop Dr. Ren from kidnapping Sheila.

We drive over there in the (still very cool) Tesla. The drive is an hour and a half long so I have time to think about what I am going to do when I get there. Another thing that has been on my mind is why Dr. Ren chose Sheila over millions of other kids, even if she is somehow related to him.

I decide to ask Jack.

“Jack, why do you think that Dr. Ren chose Sheila?” I ask.

“What do you mean?”

“You know what I mean!”

“Okay, maybe I do, but I think that you’ll feel better if you figure it out yourself.”

“I’ll feel better if you tell me what you think and then let me grab all the credit for your idea!”

We sit in silence for a few moments. Why does Jack have to be so darn nice? It’s throwing off my style and I don’t like it. Then, after what seems like an eternity, he responds.

“I think that maybe Dr. Ren is using Sheila to get to you. Having the president’s daughter could be used for ransom, trade, slack the next time he gets in trouble with the US. And it was just too convenient that you are friends with somebody who is related to him.”

Wow. I hadn’t thought about it that way before, but now that I am thinking about it, he may be right. I mean, that might just be the last piece of the puzzle. I guess we’ll find out. (Or we might not, based on how things are going so far.)                                                                                           

I guess I just don’t want to fail. When I was a little kid, I always thought it would be so cool to be in a high-stakes mystery like in the movies, but now that I’m living it out for real, it’s scary. 

If Dr. Ren hurts her, it’s going to be my fault, if Jack’s theory is right. Which it probably is, based on how smart he is. I don’t know much about his background but I know that he used to work for the CIA. He is around 25 years old, but has been training with the CIA his whole life. Why, you ask? Because his parents were also with the CIA.

He could have been the leader of the CIA, but he chose not to because he hates meetings and things like that. Even though he would have gotten paid a lot. I guess he thinks that if he wants that job, he can always come back to it. I would definitely want to be head of the CIA. You get to go on cool missions, order people around, and basically just have a good time, fighting animals, people, and ninjas. 

I bet that Dr. Ren is going to have ninjas that I am going to have to fight. I have never fought a real ninja before. I know what you’re thinking. Why am I, the president’s daughter, the girl protected by dozens of secret service agents, going on a dangerous mission mostly by myself? I’ve got two answers for you. 

One, Dad wants me to be able to take care of myself and not become too used to being protected all the time. After all, Dad is not going to be president forever. Before he was president, I used to get picked on by school bullies all the time. He just sees this mission as a learning experience.

Two, because of that, three times a week I go to karate, chemistry, and meditation with the CIA. Karate, so I know how to fight back. Chemistry, so I understand the principles of science and can understand formulas and things like that. And meditation so I can learn to go deep within myself to find the energy I need to fight. It also helps me memorize complex equations and pretty much everything else. 

I have completed all of the training necessary for a normal CIA agent. Right now, as we are driving, I am using my meditation to gather all of my thoughts. This will help me to be more focused later on, when I really need to be. I wish that I could meditate forever and not have to deal with everything that is going on right now. But I know that Sheila needs me, and that is what keeps me going.

I know that she may be hurt or worse, but if I save her, she will probably never be in danger again. I travel even deeper into my thoughts, passing through the good, the bad, and the crazy. It’s like a hurricane in there, everything is swirling around, mixing together. I just wish that everything would make sense. I see swirls of light and Japanese and American flags flying around. I see my dad, and my secret service guard, including my maids and the chef who makes the most amazing lasagna. 

I never thought I would say this, but I think I miss home. The marble floors and hallways of the White House make me feel cozy and safe. I haven’t felt that way since the mission started. My giant room with the pink walls and bed that I hate but still love, because I love it there. Especially all of the stuffed animals from when I was a little kid in their crate next to my bed.

When I’m at home, I always am treated like a little girl, but on this mission, I get to be mostly by myself and take down bad guys. But I think it’s too much. The pressure is getting to me.

Either way, I hope this mission doesn’t take too long, even though I would do almost anything for Sheila. She’s my best friend, and I care about her. Even if I fail this mission, I’m sure there are more trained professionals who will be able to rescue her. I know that if I fail, she won’t be mad at me because I tried.

“Try your best.” That’s what adults always say. 

“You tried your best, and that’s what matters.”

Well, what if my best isn’t good enough? What if nobody can save Sheila? I hope that’s not the case.

“Amy, we’ve arrived,” I hear from the front.

I look out the window and there it is: Ueno Park. Even in the face of everything else, it’s so beautiful. Japan really is a special place. There are red maple trees everywhere, and golden arches and mini waterfalls. This place has everything! I wish I could have come here under happier circumstances.

“So, do you see anything?” Jack asks. 

“No, not yet. But I will,” I respond.

“I think I see something,” Jack says.

I look where he is looking and see a shadowy figure. I can’t really make out the shape, but it does look like a person. Not like it would be an animal. I mean, I guess it’s possible. With a guy like Dr. Ren, you never know.

“Snap out of it, Amy!” Jack yells.

Right. I have to focus on finding whoever the person is. I don’t like that he knew that we would come here. I start creeping towards him, trying my best to hide behind red maples, but they are so small that it probably isn’t working. 

Darn it! I lost him, and now he could be almost anywhere. I’m usually pretty good at hide and seek, but that is in places that I know. I’ve never been here before.

Oh! I see him again. He’s heading towards a huge bonsai. There are a million things that could be going on with that tree. It might even be a secret hideout.

Nope. He keeps walking, seemingly with a purpose, but you never know. Maybe he’s just a random guy. Nope! He looks too much like #2, and with these things, you can’t be too careful. I wish I knew for certain if it was him or not. Then I would have a real lead. 

Well he’s not getting away from me just yet. I break into a sprint, heading in his direction. The thought of Sheila keeps me going. He sees me and starts trying to find a hiding place. He knows I see him. He knew I would, but he would never let me get close to him. I pass the bonsai tree from earlier, and a couple of golden arches with cool writing on them. 

I see him duck down a side path littered with rocks, twigs, and all kinds of other things. It’s practically a minefield, just a very beautiful mindfield. 

There’s a little stream that he tries to jump over but he stumbles a little. Oh! I think I have it. Yup. I do. I know his weakness.           

Chapter 3

It’s been four days since I was flown to Japan by my distant cousin, Ren Tanaka. Ever since, it’s been nothing but fun nonstop. Uncle Ren lives in a huge mansion, the likes of which I’ve never seen before. And it’s like OMG! I love it! LOL. 

You may be like, “Who are you?” Well, I’m Sheila Jones. Best friend of Amy Miller, daughter of President Miller. Yeah that’s right, my best friend is the first, umm… daughter? 

I’m the class flirt and school gossip, and proud of it. There are like, so many cute servants that work for Uncle. I’m so glad that my parents agreed to let me take a few weeks off to relax in peace with Uncle Ren in Japan. It’s like, so pretty.

Today I’m meeting him for lunch in the huge cafeteria.

The Escapists


Chapter 1

I LOOK OUT AT THE CITY from my prison window, sighing unhappily. Yes, I did mean prison. I am currently stuck in the basement of my Uncle’s Dad’s wife’s brother’s son’s mansion, along with a dozen girls. I should probably tell you why I am here in the first place. It’s all my own parent’s fault. I mean, who gets their own child into this so-called “girls’ school”? (As the adults call it.)

Anyway, in this world, we women and girls aren’t allowed to do anything except look pretty. This has been going on for many centuries. So I decided to rebel and run away, which, of course, was against the law. This made my parents call the police, who then ran after me, caught me, and now, here I am. In my prison thing, I want to run, to feel the air whipping my face again. 

In the darkness of night, I lie in my bed, eyes closed, and I try to think of something, anything to let me escape. I do this each and every night, but by midnight, I always think up nothing. 

It’s dinner. I sit down at my usual table with the usual DISGUSTING food to cry silently. Before I start eating, another girl who looks about my age sits down next to me. 

“Hi!” she says with a warm smile.

Before I get a chance to respond, an alarm wails. We look at each other. 

“Fire alarm. Follow me,” I whisper. 

I jog ahead of her and hear the “teachers” (I’ll just call them guards) yell at other inmates to go to their cells, and suddenly, I start sprinting. “HURRY UP!” I call from the end of the hall. When she finally catches up, I find that the door is locked. I curse silently. She takes an ID card from her pocket and stuffs it into the slot in the door. How did she get that?

“Whoa,” we say at the same time. 

The door opens up to a huge dining room with a ceiling so high it could house two medium sized elephants, easy. Above the mahogany table, a crystal chandelier hangs, casting mini rainbows across the room.


Chapter 2

I’M THAT GIRL SHE’S RUNNING WITH.  This isn’t exactly a new chapter, but whatever. 

Right. We’re in the dining hall. Suddenly, I hear footsteps that sound like they are coming from the room right next to us. “COME ON!” I whisper-shout to the girl I am escaping with. I duck underneath the table. Fortunately, a fancy embroidered tablecloth hangs over the table so we are hidden, for now…

The door creaks open just as she makes it under the table.

I press my face to the ground, and I can make out a dozen fancy heels and loafers coming toward our hiding place. The chairs squeak as they’re pulled back to be sat in. The people’s feet move under the table, and now we barely have any space. I can hear my breath, louder than I want it to be. My heart pounds. They’re just people, I think, trying to calm myself down. They have ugly, expensive shoes. They can’t chase us that fast. I still tremble.  

The fancy people start talking. 

“I have heard there’s been a fire,” says one lady in a crisp accent.

“Yes, and I think that a few girls have even escaped! I am astounded. We need to make catching them our top priority,” a man adds.

There is much gasping to this statement. Fancy people. Psh.

Back to the story.

Another man states in a cold voice, “Luckily, they won’t get far. As they are mere girls.” He spits out the word. “They won’t be able to run much.” The men laugh evilly, but the women sniff, being girls themselves.

 We stay still there for an hour. Two hours. Finally, the adults scoot back the chairs and stand up. 

“Thank you so much, Mr. Deague, I’ve had the most wonderful of times here,” a lady says graciously.

“Ah, but we are not done! Let’s go out to the yard, and finish this party there!”

The fancy adults cheer like children at a carnival. They walk through the door on my left side, leaving the huge door open behind them. 

“Maybe we shouldn’t go that way,” I suggest.

“Yeah… but before we go, what’s your name?”

“Lily,” I tell her. “What’s yours?”

“Samirah. Or Sam. Let’s go!” 


We race to the opposite door to the one the party guests went through, and it leads into a GIANT kitchen. On the walls, pots and pans hang from copper hooks. There are two stoves — one big one and one the same size a regular person has. Another door is on the other side of the room from where we came from. But then I stop in my tracks. A woman, wearing a cook’s uniform, faces the wall. Surely she heard us opening the door.

But she just says, “Ah, that would be Mr. Bonrab. Could you please tell the master that their drinks will be ready in five minutes?”

We look at each other.

“Um… yes. Yes, I can!” I squeak.

We wouldn’t be able to carry that message. Oops. 

Together, Sam and I turn to the other door and run out as fast as we can.


Chapter 3

THE DOOR TAKES US TO ANOTHER HUGE ROOM. This time, it’s the front hall. Well, probably more like one of the twenty front halls. That’s how big this place is. A big oak staircase climbs up to the second floor. A dozen doors lead out to different rooms, and right ahead of us is the front door. But I hold my breath. It can’t be that easy. There has to be some security. It’s a mansion! 

Turns out, I’m right. A man in a navy blue guard’s uniform comes out of one of the many doors. His face glistens, like he has been just exercising.

“And just what are you doing here?” the man asks. 

“Oh… we’re just friends of the kids here!” Lily jumps in.

“The master has no children, and no children are currently staying here.” 

“… ah.” Lily looks guiltily at me. I try to send her It’s okay with my eyes.

“Oh, sorry! She got mixed up. Um, she means that, uh… ”

“I don’t think you are meant to be here. You seem to be… trespassing. I’m going to take you to a room upstairs, where you will wait for me to come back.”

“Ok,” I sigh.

Goodbye freedom.


So now, we’re stuck in a room that’s locked and we have NO IDEA how to get out. This is FUN. Why me? I think angrily. I just want to be free.

I survey my surroundings.

There are two wooden chairs in front of a big mahogany desk, and behind it, a swivel chair. On the desk was a desktop computer, and pens. The walls were bare except for a small painting and a vent, which is directly behind the desk. No windows, no doors except for the one we came through. They must really not want us to get out. I sit on one of the two chairs facing the desk, and Lily sits in the other chair. We have nothing to do but wait. I can hear my heart, fast as a racehorse.

And wait.


And wait.


And finally, after what seems like forever, I hear beeping from the hallway. The door slowly opens, and in comes the guard from before. 

“Hello again. I am a guard here, as you know, and my name is Mr Berdis.” He sits down in the swivel chair. “Could you please tell me your names? Your real names?”

“I — I am… Joel,” I fake, my voice shaky. 

He studies me for a few seconds. I don’t breathe.

“I’m deciding to believe you,” he announces.

WHEW. That went better than I thought it would. “And… um… will you let us go?” I ask hopefully.

“I might, after you — ” He points to Lily. “After you tell me your name, and both of you explain what the heck you were doing in this place.”

Lily says her name is Matilda, but then the guard warns us, “You young ladies look like you’re eleven, so I hope you won’t lie. But, however, if I do figure out you are not telling me the truth, things will not go well for you.”

“Okay,” is all I can say, when something amazing happens.


Chapter 4

YOU KNOW HOW THERE’S A VENT RIGHT BEHIND THE DESK?  That vent is our savior. Wait. Actually, our savior is a red-head teenager who looks like she’s around fifteen. That’s all I have time to register before I’m knocked out. (Disrespectful, frowny face.) Well, I also see the guard get knocked cold too. Anyways.


When I finally come to, my vision’s blocked by a black and white checkered blindfold. I want to take it off, but something tells me if I do that, I’ll get knocked out again. I decide against it. I can feel the bounce of someone walking and the two warm, strong arms that are carrying me. The blindfold is ripped off my face, and I see that we are in a new room. A door of each wall leads into other rooms. 

A face looms above me as I sit, propped against the wall, on the floor. I stifle a yelp. 

“It’s fine. We jus’ wanna see if you two are worth the rescue,” the girl assures me. I realize she’s the same red-head that rescued (or captured) us. “Um… h-hi?” I stutter. 

She chuckles. “Heh. It’s fine. I just knocked you out ‘cause we can’t have other people knowin’ how to get ‘ere.”

“Okay, but could you tell me anything? Like how you knew we were in the room?” I need some information before telling them about me. “Alright. We will, but I’m gonna wait for our leader to tell you, when she gets back from her mission,” Red-Head decides. “And my name is Rainda,” she adds, and exits the room. I watch people streaming in and out of the four doors.

Okay. Recap. We escaped from prison (ugh, “girls’ school”) because of a fire, ran around the mansion a bit, got captured, got rescued, knocked out, and now here I am, in what seems like a colony of people that — no. Too much is happening. My head spins. 

I look at the desk and chair in the middle of the room.

“Uuhnwah?” I hear from beside me. I look over, and see Sam stirring. “Wait-what-where-are-we? Lily?”

“Yeah? I’m here.” I take her hand.

“Good.” She exhales with a big whoosh, her dark complexion turns red. I put my hand back in my lap. “Where are we?” she asks, so I explain everything Rainda told me.

“So now… we just wait for their leader to come,” I finish.

A few minutes later, Rainda comes back. “She’ll come pretty soon, ‘K?” 

“Got it,” Sam and I say, jinxing. 

Just as Red-Head said, the leader comes a little later. She wears a black bodysuit, with twin knives strapped where jean pockets usually go. “You’re not gonna stab us with those, are you?” Samirah eyes the knives nervously. I’m worrying about the same thing.

“Oh no, I won’t,” the woman laughs, laying the knives on the desk. “So,” she starts. “You were rescued, or captured if you want, by Miss Rainda here.” She nods at Rainda approvingly. “And now you probably want to know why we did that, and who we are?” 

“Yeah, pretty much,” I add. “But no blindfolds next time, please.”

“I’m afraid I can’t grant you that wish, but will tell you about us. Oh, and by the way, my name is Sona. Anyway, we call ourselves the ‘Escapists.’ Others call us… never mind. It is away from what I was about to say.”

Never mind? They call themselves Never mind? Oh. She doesn’t want us to know.

She doesn’t trust you… my mind whispers. You should grab those knives and run. 

“Be quiet.” I accidentally say aloud.

“What?” asks the leader. 

“Uh… sorry, never mind.” I bite my lip.


Chapter 5

HOW COME SHE GOT TO BE CONSCIOUS FIRST? Oh, well. We don’t all get what we want. 

“So,” Sona continues, “we’re always recruiting new people to help us. We’re alway watching, writing down the people who we think will help us. We’ve been watching you two for a while, and now I’m sure that you can help us. We just had to break you out.”

“Um… what skills do we have?” I wonder.

“Well, you, Samirah, are pretty fast. You can run away from people trying to capture you.” She draws out the word pretty. “I hear you’ve already tried to run away?”

“Well, yes… but — ” I try to protest, but Sona reminds me,

“Those men are four times your leg size, Samirah. And you almost got away!”

Fine. It’s true. I am much smaller than the men, and I did almost get away, but I don’t know if I can really trust the Escapists. 

“And you, Lily, taught yourself to pickpocket,” she says.

Lily and I stare at each other. How did she possibly know this much about us?

  “How do you — ” Lily starts.

“Know so much about you?” 


“I can’t tell you, unless you join us.”


Rainda leads us to another room, where she tells us we’ll be sharing it. Instead of a desk and chairs, it’s a bedroom, and actually cozy! There’s a bunk bed with non-pink sheets (finally!), on the right side of the room, and a dresser with some new clothes that don’t include dresses for tomorrow. It’s kind of small, but I like it. Since I don’t really have any belongings, I claim the top bunk with the jacket I had on. There isn’t a window, but there is a whole bookshelf, and I LOVE reading. 

As I sift through the bookshelf for a good book, Lily asks me, taking a break from another book she found, “Do you think they made the alarm go off?”

“Who is ‘they’?” I ask her.

“The Escapists, stupid!” she responds, acting like a little sister. 

“Maybe…” I trail off. “Do you think we should join them? I don’t really have a nice place to return to.”

“I’m thinking about it. I also don’t really have a safe home, either.”

“So that’s a yes?” I ask, my voice hopeful.

“Not yet.”


Chapter 6

I’M MAD. I DON’T KNOW WHY. I JUST AM. It’s probably just because I’m tired (and hungry). I’ve had a long day, escaping from the prison thing, running around a mansion for a while, then getting captured for the second time that day, (the first is when I met Sam), then getting rescued and given an impossible choice: should I stay or should I go?

Hey, that kinda reminds me of that song by… what was it? Oh, whatever. I need sleep. I look down at my watch, given to me by my dead mother. (Long story… one that I don’t like.) It’s 10 o’clock! “Alright, bye. Imma crash,” I tell Sam, who looks surprised. I haven’t really talked for the past hour. I clamber onto the bottom bunk, staring up at Sam’s mattress above me. I lie like this a while, thinking about if I should join the Escapists. Long past when Samirah starts quietly, almost politely, snoring, I finally fall asleep.


My eyelids flutter open. For a count of three, I don’t move. Then I get up, making my bunk creak. 

“Morning, sleepyhead,” Sam jokes from the top bunk. “I’ve been awake for an hour already.”

“Samirah — ” I protest.

“Yeah, I know. Come on! Get dressed and have some breakfast.” She seems to be in a good mood, making my spirits rise a little. 

We walk back to the intersection, once again bustling with people. Where we had met Sona, the Escapists’ leader, the day before. Rainda comes bounding towards us. “You want some breakfast?”  

“Yeah,” I respond.

“Alrigh’. This way!” She gestures for us to follow her, then jogs into the door on our right. We walk down a long corridor with long light fixtures, turn left, down another shorter corridor, which then opens up into a smallish restaurant. 

“You have a restaurant here?”

“Yup! Our entrance is… Oops.” 


After a nice breakfast of a syrup lake with a side of pancakes, sausage, and chocolate milk, I feel fully refreshed. 

Rainda then takes us back to the intersection, where we meet up with Sona, who is at her desk. Again. 

“Have you come to a conclusion yet?” she asks us.

“No…” I say at the same time Sam says,


“Okay then… Samirah, are you going to stay with us?” Wait for it… wait for it… 

“Well, I wanna stay with you guys. But… I also want to be with Lily.”

Huh. I thought she was going to leave me. So, now I have an easier choice. “Now I’m leaning towards staying too.” I inform Sona. “But I still don’t really know.” 

“Okay. That’s fine.” She doesn’t look mad at me, which I appreciate. With a warm smile, she turns to Sam. “But I’m glad you want to help us!” 

My insides seem to melt. Sona is being so nice to me, yet I still don’t really want to be with her. My own friend is joining, and I still don’t want to. Why do I still think I can find my father? I won’t! Ever! 

When my mom died of a pandemic virus called Repoat two years ago (another pandemic centuries ago that you might have heard of is Coronavirus. That one was famous), my dad left me in the care of one of his friends, who I really don’t like. Blah blah blah. 

 Me and Sam walk back to our room. When we get there, she asks, “Why don’t you want to join?” I guess I should break the news. I tell her everything I just told you, pouring my troubles out. When I finish, I feel so much better, I want to jump around. She doesn’t even say ‘I’m sorry’ and move on. Instead, she mutters, “And I thought I had the worst problems.”

“Like what?”

“Well, getting captured. Having the worst parent in the world,” she answers.

“But I had no idea you were dealing with that.”

Now that I think about it, my dad probably didn’t want me. Not that I was bad (well, I do pickpocket… ) but that he just wasn’t a good dad. 

“Sam,” I announce, “I have something to tell Sona.”


Chapter 7

WELL, THAT WAS SOME NEWS. But at least Lily joined! I walk with her to Sona’s desk. When she hears the news, she exclaims, “Great! You two have to do one quick thing before you’re officially with us. DEVIN?” she calls. “LEAD THESE TWO TO THE JOINING ROOM, PLEASE!”

A girl who tells us nervously, “Hi! I’m — uh… I’m Devin! And I’m um… twelve.” Then, she scurries like a mouse through the same room we went through to get to breakfast. 


It takes a while to get there, but eventually we arrive at the room. The “joining room” is a metal-walled room with two dozen big bubbling vats filled with molten metal of all different colors. One vat has pink (ugh), another has turquoise, and yet another with red liquid metal. There are a ton of other colors, but it would take me a while to go to all of them. On a table that leans against the back wall sits smallish-medium cement squares, carved deep with small to medium C’s, next to a various assortment of tools and other things. The room is so hot, I can feel the hairs of my arms rising.

“Um.. I’m going to stay with you until another person comes who will — uhh, help you,” Devin informs us. 

“Okay!” I whimper, my voice squeakier that I like. Those vats of lava-like metal make me feel small and tender. 


Finally, a young woman with a brown leather tool belt and a long ponytail comes in and tells us her name is Henrya. “What’re your guy’s favorite colors?” 

“Turquoise,” I tell her.

“Ooh! That’ll go nice with your dark skin,” Henrya exclaims. 

“I like red,” Lily says.

“Nice! Red will look great on you too!” Henrya tells us as she takes out a flexible measuring tape. “I need to measure your wrists.” 

She wraps the measuring tape around my wrist and mutters, “Size five,” then measures Lily’s wrist. “Size four.”

Henrya takes a big ladle with a mouth from the table and dips it in the vat of turquoise molten metal, then pours it into the carved C of one of the cement squares.

She then dips the ladle in the vat filled to the brim with red liquid metal, and pours that into another deeply carved C a little smaller than mine.

“Now we just have to wait,” she tells Lily and me, as the metal liquid steams.


Around half an hour later, after some tries at break-the-ice chats, the metal C’s are getting cool. “Alright,” Henrya stands up and walks over to the table where the metal C’s are cooling. “The metal bracelets are getting cool now!”

She takes a tool from the table, and uses it to pry the two metal C’s out of the squares. 

“Ooh! Hot!” Henrya recoils her arm when she tries to pick up one of the bracelet things.

“I thought they were cooling?” I frown. “What are they, anyway?” 

“Well, they were cooling. But they just aren’t super cool yet.”


“And I’ll get back to you later about your second question.”

Henrya takes out another two cement squares, this time carved with small holes. There is already silver cooled metal in the holes, which she also takes out of its mold. On my bracelet, she attaches the one of little silver dots into a slot I didn’t notice before. 

“You don’t have to watch me the whole time. It’s gonna take a while.” Henrya glances at us. I was getting pretty bored.

“M’kay.” I look at Lily. “Do you wanna leave?” 

“Sure.” She turns to Henrya. “We’re going to leave. See ya!” She hightails it out of the room, clearly as bored as I am. I follow her out. 


Chapter 8

WE WALK BACK to the dorm room, and a thought occurs suddenly to me. I’ve never seen anyone male with the Escapists.

“Hey… Sam? Have you ever seen a man here?”

“Yeah! Of course I have! You’ve met your dad, right? He’s a man!”

I slap my face. “No, stupid! Here! With the Escapists!”

“Ohhhhh. Here? I’ve never seen a man here.”

“Then I guess this is an all-girls community.” 

So maybe they rescue only girls? Or they rescued boys, too, but don’t allow them to join? Now I’m just confusing myself.

I walk to the bookshelf to get out the book I was reading before. I only finish a page or two before there’s a knock on my door. “Come in?” 

The door opens a little, and Devin peeks through the crack. She opens the door fully, making it creak in annoyance. “The bracelet things Henrya was making are ready!” she announces.

I groan. “Can we just, like, relax a little?”

“Well… no. Sorry. Come on!” Devin bounces out of the doorway. 

Ugh. fine. We followed her into the intersection with Sona’s desk. Henrya waited next to the desk, bouncing on the balls of her feet. “Ah! Finally,” she exclaims when we get there. “I just finished the things I was making! So, here they are!” She holds out the two metal C’s for us to see.

“So… what are those?” I ask. 

“They’re bracelets.” Henrya tells me, as if I don’t know.

“I know that, but — ”

“Yeah, yeah. So. these three buttons here? This silver one calls for help if you get caught, and this black one here means you’ve found a possible recruit, and it’ll take a picture of  the possible recruit. This white one deploys a glider!”


We take a moment to admire it.

“How do you do this? This is like, top rank technology, from the future!” Sam’s eyes widen.

“Once you’re with us for a while, I’ll show you!” Henrya beams. “Who wants me to put it on first?”

“Uh.. me?” I say.

“Is that a question?”

“Me. Me first, please,” I correct myself.

She clamps it around my wrist, and I black out. 


Chapter 9 

I’M NERVOUS. REAL NERVOUS. When Lily blacks out, I’m cornered by Devin and Henrya. “It’s your turn.” Henrya grins evilly.

I struggle, trying to resist them putting on the blackout bracelet (as I call it), but it does no good. My vision turns black as I think, once again, goodbye, freedom. 


My eyelids flutter open. I yelp as I see a face looming over me, but then I settle back down when I realize it’s just Lily.

“Where are we?” I wonder. 

“Just take a look.” she says miserably.

I do. We’re in a metal box, not tiny, but not big. That’s it. Just a bare, metal walled box. 

Chhhhhhhhick! A panel I didn’t notice before slides open. A new woman with blond hair pops into the new opening. 

“Hah! Still there. You’ll need some food, huh?”

The woman ducks out of the opening, and returns a few seconds later with two trays. “Here ya go!” she says, and hands over the two trays. Plopped onto the tray was some oatmeal. Was it morning? 

“Lily, you have a watch right? What time is it?”

“7 A.M.” 

“Was I out for a while?

“I dunno. I was conscious just before you,” she tells me.

We stay in the small metal room for a week (according to Lily’s watch). I’m bored, hungry and scared most of the time. We get food two times a day, instead of three. 

“We need to find a way out of here,” I say, then notice a camera filming us and listening to us. 

“There’s a security camera,” I whisper, as if it will make a difference to how the camera hears us. 

“Well, shoot. I guess we can make a secret language?” Lily suggests.

“Yeah, but we’ll have to face the opposite direction from the camera.” 

I turn the other way, but I find another camera on that side, too. “Well, that’s great,” I mutter.

No one talks for a few minutes.

Lily speaks up. “Um… could we do the child’s position from yoga, and make up the moves under ourselves?”

“Yeah! Great idea. They’ll hear us, but they won’t understand!”

So this is what we do. After maybe another few days, our sign language thing is done!

Now we need to think up a plan, I say, using our secret code.


Chapter 10

 OUR PLAN IS PRETTY SIMPLE. We will wait until the woman who gives us food comes, and me and Sam will pull her in. Then, I will pickpocket her and climb out of the hole. Then we will lock the woman in so she can’t follow us. (We made the plan through our code.)

We wait until dinner, which we think will be the best time because all the guards will be tired. The panel on the ceiling slides open. “Here’s your dinner!” Dinner-Woman tells us. Her coat hangs down through the hole, and I grab it and pull with all my weight. Sam takes a hold too. The woman topples into the room. Before she knows what happens, I take a keycard from her pants pocket. I clamber out of the room, Sam right behind me. With the keycard I took from her, and seal the room. 

I’m out of the room, on the run again. I run around, trying to find a map so we can get out. 

I hear footsteps echoing through the hallway behind us. 

“We need to go faster!” I whisper at Samirah, too rushed to use our code. The footsteps are closer now. I can hear the pounding of feet loud and clear, instead of echoey. My shirt snags on something. I turn around to free my shirt but instead, a woman in a guard’s uniform stares at me. I kick her shins, freeing myself from her grasp. She falls over with a big WHUMP.

Ahead of me, Sam pushes open a door. The room is deserted except for an asleep woman behind a wooden table. The grey painted walls peel at the edges. Then I see our goal: a door behind the woman at the table, labeled with a glowing, blinking orange “exit” sign. 

Not wanting to wake up the woman, I tell Sam in our sign language, go to the door!


I see a small black slot in the door. 

Use the card to open the door, I say using the code. I hold out the card. She grabs it for my hand and steps quietly to the door. She inserts the card into the slot.

Click! The door unlocks! We’re freeeeeeeee

“Not so fast.” The woman we thought was asleep turns out to just be faking. With a start I realize the woman is Sona. We’re so close to freedom, and we get caught! The fourth time this week! 

“I’m not capturing you,” she says, surprising me. “I may be the leader, but another person is trying to take my spot.”

“So — ”

“So what I’m saying is what happened was a test, though they did it way too harshly,” she cuts in. “Go to Sederburg Street. Look for the dumpster. There’s a slot. Put the card in. You’ll be in the real headquarters.”


Together, me and Sam jump through the doorway, into the world.

To be continued…

Potato Land Book One: Humans Try to Take Over Potato Land But One Awesome Team Will Stop the Humans!

Chapter 1: Evacuate!

“Ring, Ring!” The lunch bell rang and all the students of the Potato School filed together inside the cafeteria to eat lunch. William, a young potato child, sat down on a table to eat his yummy ham and cheese sandwich. Shortly after he took his second bite out of his sandwich, he heard a “THUMP, THUMP, THUMP.” The ground shook fiercely. 

“Oh my!” a potato child exclaimed. 

“What is happening?” another said. And all the potato children ran outside their school and saw huge pieces of floppy laces with what looked like shoes attached to them. (The potatoes themselves usually just wore t-shirts and shorts.) Then they saw humans! William felt very scared at the moment. He shivered.  

“Ahhhhhhh!!!” Everybody screamed including the humans because they were so surprised to see talking potatoes. So all the potato children and potato teachers went to the evacuation center and pressed a big red button that set an alarm off to every building in Potato Land. Every Potato Land citizen knew exactly what it meant. They all went to an underground hole and sat there. 

Chapter 2: William Barely Escapes the Hands of a Human!

For days and days they sat in that big hole. Until one day brave William thought to himself, we can’t just hide here forever, someone has to stop the humans from destroying our land! So William carefully climbed out of the emergency hole and went out to stop the humans! 

“William?” his parents called out. Where are you?” 

“Oh no. I guess he went exploring again,” his mom said. His parents were used to him getting lost. 

“Oooh, what is this?” A human had come to William and had been licking his lips. 

“Ahhhh!” screamed William. He slowly looked up and saw a human looking down hungrily at him. “Please don’t eat me,” whimpered William, his braveness fading. 

“What else do you think I will do?” boomed the human. “Not eat you? Ha ha ha!” 

William scrambled up to the top of a building barely escaping the hands of a big scary human. 

Chapter 3: William Creates a Team!

He went back to the hole and thought about going outside again to fight the humans but he realized that he would need a team. As he climbed back into the hole, his parents rushed over to him. 

“What were you thinking, William?!” cried William’s dad. 

“We were so worried about you!” said his mom while hugging him tightly. 

“I was trying to save Potato Land. Our land! But I will need a team to fight the humans and to keep them from eating us,” said William. 

So William went to find some people to join his team. First, he went to find his friends, but when he found them they were so cowardly that they wouldn’t even come out to see him. So then William went to find some random people in the deep dark hole who were brave and adventurous to join his team. At last he found four other potato children who volunteered to help fight the big, bad humans! There were two girls and two boys. 

“Hello everyone.” William said. “Thank you for coming and joining my team! I am very grateful for that. Shall we call ourselves The Brave?” Everybody nodded in agreement. “Then great! Let’s go!” The Brave set off into the dark night trying to wake the humans from their sleep.

Chapter 4: Defeating the Humans!

It turns out, the humans made a whole city out of Potato Land! Oh no! thought William. He saw some humans clustered around his school using hammers to break it down and turn it into a new building!

 “Over there!” William told his team. They rushed toward the humans and started hitting them. William had lots of bad luck because  he saw the human who tried to eat him earlier! Oh no. William thought. Had he come to try and eat me again?

 “Hey!” said the human who tried to eat William. “Aren’t you the tasty potato that I tried to eat earlier?”

“No offense, but you do look very tasty.” 

“I take offense very much!” said William.

 “Hey, let’s get on with fighting them,” whispered one of his teammates.

“Okay, sorry,” answered William. The potato children charged at the humans and surprised them but when they hit the humans, the humans didn’t feel a thing.

“AAARRRGGGHHH,” William shouted so loudly that the humans flew back from the impact.

 “How did you do that?” His teammates asked.

“I… don’t know.” William said, just as surprised as them.

“Get him!” cried the human who tried to eat William.

“Run!” William told his team.

“I shall defeat them once and for all!” “YYYEEEAAAHHH!!!” Once again, William did the cry so loud this time even louder than the first one and all the humans around them flew back millions of miles away from them.

Chapter 5: Announcing the Hero of the Day! 

     “YES!” his whole team yelled. “WOO-HOO!”

“We did it!!!” All the potatoes in Potato Land crowded the hero of the day. The mayor himself came up to William and told every potato in the land that William was the hero of the day and from then on, he and his team were called, “The Mighty Brave.”            

The End