Sylvia and the Wishing Tree

Wishing Day

It was Wishing Day again. Every year, thousands of people gathered at the Wishing Creek. Due to the storm, the creek was flooding, so most of the people gathered at the pond or stream. Not me and my family.

The Wishus and Their Ways

My parents were very religious to the ways of the Wishus. Me and my five siblings (including baby Hazel) loved to eat the delicious Wishu food, and my parents didn’t even mind making it 7 days a week! 

Father Gives Me Some Advice

That fateful day, we gathered at the creek, which was now waist-deep if we went to the original candle floating spot. Which we did. My Papa always said, “Now, Sylvia Lorali Hollyblade, the Natives didn’t leave because there were storms, did they?” So we finished lighting and sending away our wishing candles.


Since it was the year 2357, we had a maid-robot (maid bot) to help with the chores. Her name was Maria, because that had been the name of my robo-cat before it short-circuited and wandered into the acid stove.

Maria Scolds Me About (Yawn) Weather

We had just gotten the new type (Clovebot 3000) and at the moment, she was telling us the weather. “More rain to come and you should expect thunder, with a hurricane chance of 0.0356, Sylvia. Really, with Hurricane Lila and Leo on the loose, you should pay more attention,” Maria scolded me, due to the fact that I was rolling my eyes. I groaned. I never should have suggested to Mother that we install the personality chip.

The Wave of Ultimate Doom

As I turned to grab my warm towel, a sense of foreboding rushed through me. I remembered my Papa’s words: “Never turn your back to the water.” I turned around quickly, but not quick enough. A wave roughly the size of a large horse swelled up and came crashing down on us, knocking me off my feet and causing me to cut my hand on the edge of a sharp rock.

Fingers and Babies 

My eyes watering in pain, I could hear Hazel crying. Grabbing her hand, another hand slipped into my fingers. Metal, I thought dimly. Then I was pulled out of the water. 


Feeling the fresh air in my lungs, I knew I was secure. I reached for Mama’s hand to know everything was alright, only to find nothing. I sat up cautiously, knowing that my surroundings may not be safe. But when I looked around, everything seemed perfectly fine, except for the fact that I was on the other side of the creek. No one was with me, no one to grab me, say that everything would be alright. My only choice was to climb the huge, sharp cliffs that screamed: I’m dangerous! But I had to go there. It was the only way. Elders had told of a tree that could grant you wishes, even bring back the dead, only for a small fee of 1 ancient penny. I had a penny that people had used back in the 2100s, a copper coin with markings of ancient rulers like Abraham Lincoln. My social studies class had each received one, and then we had played a weird game called “chess.” Ancient people were weird. I had a plan to climb up there and demand the gem return my family.

Mountains, Rivers, and… Maria?

Fog rolled in from the jagged rocks, and from that fog there would be more rain. Everyone knew that if the river flooded, your only option would be to climb to higher ground. I looked around for Hazel or anyone else, hoping everyone had made it safely. I found Maria caring for the baby, and we began climbing up the mountain in hopes that we could reach the top in at least two days.

Why Climbing a Mountain is Actually Very Boring

 Every few minutes, a wave would come crashing up, and we would have to hide in a crevice and wait for about 10 minutes so that the ground wouldn’t be too slippery. One time, the wave was so big, we had to wait an hour. Soon the sun was starting to set, and me and Maria began to build a small tent on one of the large crevices we had found while Hazel slept on my back.

Cleaning Cuts and OH, IT’S DINNERTIME!!

 Thinking back, I realized that my mission was probably impossible. Finally, I finished building the hut and Maria started cooking dinner. Looking into my purse, I searched for a first aid kit to heal some of the cuts we had. I managed to pull out a dusty bottle filled with purple liquid. I applied some to me and Hazel before going to dinner. 

Lavender-Raspberry-Lettuce Salad With a Side of My Siblings

On the ground were two napkins with food on them. I fed the gooey food to Hazel and took a bite of the lavender-raspberry-lettuce salad that Maria had made. I had never tasted it myself, usually eating my mother’s salad, but as I bit into it, I realized why my two older brothers, Noah and Lucas, had loved it. My older sister Lilah liked it too, but like me, she enjoyed Mother’s salad more. 

Eating Yummy Food

The salad was sweet, then sour, until settling into something more that relaxed my very bones. I was about to shovel it into my mouth when Maria cleared her throat and eyed the honey-colored liquid on my right. I took a tiny sip and basically exploded. The liquid started as a warm, sweet juice, but quickly turned boiling hot, then freezing cold, before melting into a sour lemonade, and finally turning into a sweet goo that disappeared, leaving behind a marshmallow taste.

More Food and… Chickens?

Finally, slightly worried, I bit into the last one, tiny round balls that bounced around in my mouth before plopping into my throat and leaving behind the taste of something meaty. Of course, the only meat I had ever had was beef, but this meat tasted of the chickens the elders described, fatter birds than the eagles that flew above our village, but tasty. They were extinct now, of course, but apparently delicious. 

Phones are Addictive

As soon as I finished dinner, I got out my phone. My home screen was a tiger, the extinct “striped fury,” and today I wasted no time deciding if I should change it to a robot. Instead, I texted my friend Olivia.

Hi Olivia guess where i am?




On the other side of the river in the mountains!


OMG no way! Want a rescue search?


Nah, we’re pretty safe up here. Where are you right now?


The hills on the far end of the village. The storm reached pretty far


Wow! Well, I gotta go. You know how Maria doesn’t like phones.


Yeah, she calls them DoomDevices. Bye! 





I logged off, feeling sleepy. I stepped outside of our makeshift hut to find twinkling white specks falling from the sky, bright and cold, like a soft blanket. The only thing that had ever fallen from the sky was rain. The photos of the hail that fell on the northern hemisphere could never be like the real thing. The world was warming up, and people weren’t exactly helping. This snow was the real thing. 

It sure is pretty, isn’t it? Someone behind me asked.

I Meet a Really Creepy Kid

I spun around to see a young boy (14ish) in pale grey pants (sooo last year) and a brown jacket over a shimmering opal shirt, faded because of the thin layer of dust that covered it. His bleached whitish blond hair was swept to one side, with his dark bangs almost covering his eyes, like he had dyed them. His eyes were a super pale blue, like ice on a cold winter night, making my green eyes seem dull in comparison. 

“Who are you?” I asked, but I wasn’t afraid. The police were seconds away, able to fly at 240 mph with their new wingsuit.

The Wolves

 My name is Devin. I am a Wolf. His voice spoke in my mind, a hidden whisper that only I could hear. I shivered, thinking of the stories others had told, of sneaky men and women who hid in the mountains, without any form of modern technology. Apparently, they could communicate with their minds, as Devin was doing right now. But this kid didn’t seem like much, just a boy who needed to rethink his clothing style. He stared hungrily at my phone, which hung at my side, its galaxy phone case glimmering in the shine of the setting sun. 

I can help you reach the top of the mountain and get back to your family, but I will do it only for a price. His voice sounded like the mist on a cold night, creeping around, yet silent to everyone’s ears. 

I shivered. “Take me there,” I whispered, the cold mountain air stinging my cheeks. 

We Pack Our Stuff

“Come on, we’re leaving,” I told Maria as I ducked into the hut. The warm air smelled like cinnamon, and it was toasty and dry. Robots truly were magic. We packed our things, and began to close the tent. As I grabbed my mirror/iPod, I gasped.

 I Fix My Hair

My hair was a mess. My long auburn hair was a straggly mess, and the sparkly ribbons that had held it in place had fallen off. My lacy, emerald green dress was wrinkled in places, and the navy slip-ons I had decided to wear had a small tear on the tip. My white socks were even showing through! I quickly combed my hair into a glamorous braid and straightened my dress. I put on new athletic indigo sneakers and tied green and purple ribbons to my new double waterfall braided hair. My new ‘Scarlet Kiss’ lip gloss worked perfectly with my green dress, and I added a smoky black touch with hints of gold to my eyes, so that I could really bring out my soft green eyes. I even added a soft coral to my cheeks so that I could get that natural beauty look. As I closed my mirror and started to close my suitcase, I was sure I looked amazing. 

I Climb the Mountain

“Are you ready?” asked Maria, her black wiry hair blowing in the wind. She always seemed so… unreal, with her humanoid, heart-shaped face and pale features. Her peach-colored cheeks and pale pink lips seemed pretty yet distant, like she hadn’t fully mastered the art of looking human. Her cornflower-blue eyes seemed to pierce your soul, always searching for something they would never find. 

“Yes,” I agreed, smiling even though I could feel my lips cracking. We began to climb, with Maria carrying Hazel and Devin in the lead. I thought about how good it would be to hug my mom and tease my younger brother Adrian again. I was filled with guilt that I hadn’t thought of them in the past few hours.

We Discuss Payment

 We are almost there, called Devin. Let us discuss my payment for leading you here. I twitched slightly because I had forgotten about payment. Of course he would want payment, I was foolish to think that he had been willing to do it for free. I tugged off my silver ring with an opal set in the middle, which was probably worth a lot, but Devin shook his head. We find lots of that here in the mountains. Plus, it might be a fake. I want tech-nology. He said the word “technology” carefully, like this was the first time he had said the word. As I scrambled over a rock, I pulled out my spare holograph glove. 

I Give Devin My Holographic Glove

I raced to catch up with Devin and showed him how to use it. “You just stretch your hand, and you have a variety of choices! You can order food via drones, watch your favorite TV show, or research anything! And, if you want to shop/order food while remaining anonymous, as long as you register for the Buy One, Get A Million Free coupon, which I did, then it appears right next to you out of the FSV! (Free Shipping Void) Also, if you want to turn it off, just curl your hand into a fist!” As I said these things, Devin stared at the glove in wonder. As I finished explaining, he nodded. I will have it. He whispered. I handed it to him, not telling him that this model was from 8 years ago, so I didn’t really care about it. 

We Reach The Top! Yay!

We reached the top and saw a weeping willow tree with an old face carved into the trunk. Purple blossoms with twinkling white centers blossomed on wavy, elegant, and smooth branches and the dusty ground was littered with the petals. The leaves…well, they were beautiful. Pearly pink, light magenta, deep indigo, dark mauve, and glimmering jade leaves, all in a feathery shape. Iridescent, turquoise, heart-shaped leaves were nestled in between the petals of the soothing flowers.

A Tree Talks To Us

 The twisted bark swirled together to form the face, which spoke to us in a melodious, deep voice. “Hello! Would you like to have your deepest wish come true, only for a small price?” It asked. “Yes!” I replied. “I would like to have my family back!” I tossed it the penny, and one of the branches grabbed it swiftly, curling the leaves around the copper coin. 

“Hmmm… a true copper coin…haven’t seen one of these in a long time. Unfortunately, you still have to go through the cave. But thanks for the coin!” It said, and one of the branches seemed to point towards a dark cave that I hadn’t noticed before. Shadows curled around the edges of the gray cavern and stalactites dripped from the ceiling. I shivered just looking at it. 

“I have to go through that?” I blurted out, cold terror coursing through my veins. The cave radiated fear, and I wanted to run far, far, away from it, till I could never see it again. At the same time, a part of me just wanted to get it over with. 

“It’s the only way to see your family,” The tree told me gently, like silk in the breeze. I decided to get it over with, so I ran towards the cave, one leg after the other, my feet climbing the rest of the hill, my mind racing with the million possibilities that this could go wrong. My feet slowed down, into a steady jog, then a speedy walk, until finally, my steps brought me to the entrance of the cave.

I Walk Inside A Creepy Cave

I stroked the outer wall of the cave, and the freezing fear that I felt made me shiver. The cave glimmered with a thousand jewels, yet they all seemed muted, black. I realized that the cave was actually made of onyx and grey moonstone. I stepped inside, my feet lingering in the air as the shadows enveloped me. I broke into a fearful sprint, running away, yet also towards, my fear. I soon discovered the cavern was a maze, and the center emitted a faint purple glow. I realized this cave fed off my fears, so I closed my eyes and willed the cave to obey me. I imagined the thousands of hands that must have worked to build this cave, and I imagined them working for me. I imagined them carving a new path, straight to my family, and I ran, completely trusting those hands. And as I crashed into someone, a human, I realized it was my mom and my family. As we laughed and I wove a path towards the tree, I realized, I knew, we could fix this, we could be fine. And as Maria’s face lit up as she saw us, baby Hazel started to smile, and Devin grinned at me, I knew I was keeping this family, no matter what. I would risk my life to help these people who were so important in my life get down this mountain. 

How To Get Down A Mountain Without Getting Killed

The whole ‘getting down the cave’ part turned out to be surprisingly easy. Apparently the tree (it told us to call him Joeblossom) could “lend us a branch,”  as he put it. So we spent the most terrifying 5 minutes of my life hanging on to a floating branch and trying not to throw up. Fun! As we stumbled to the ground I hugged my family, high-fived Maria, and awkwardly did a handshake with Devin.

2 Years Later…

“So, Devin,” My mom asks, her blond hair draped over her shoulders, “How are you liking Lakebrown High School?” 

I keep on eating my noodles, trying to control the burning sensation in my cheeks. 

“Good, Mrs. Hollyblade,” says Devin quietly. He has finally learned to speak, but he is still very shy. 

“And are you meeting…anyone interesting?” She asks, side-eying me. 

“MOM!” I yell, now supremely embarrassed. I am sure my cheeks are tomato red. 

Devin looks embarrassed, too, and he quietly mutters, “I have to get back to my adoptive family’s house.” He leaves, and I rush to my room, softly smiling. I remembered the first time I’d seen Devin, his pale blue eyes sparkling. I decide to write about my experiences on that mountain in my diary. I get out my laptop, and begin to type,

It was Wishing Day again.



Great orange pumpkins all alight.

Groups and groups of kids in to the night!

Haunting props and designs,

Sending screams and delights!

Bags full of candy and spooking sights.

Each plop in the bag excites,

Every doorway has an unseen fright!

Can you guess this holiday night?


Sugary sweets that fill your mouth.

Parents’ plans and ideas that go south.

Greedy children wanting more.

Begging at every store.

Finally the parents find a way.

They hide it in closets to keep it away,

from the candy crazed kids.

At every store those sugary delights.

Can somebody keep candy

away for a day?



White flakes are falling

Children are playing

Angels in the floor

White creatures with kinds galore 

Three balls on top of another 

ascending things are smaller

A carrot nose on the top 

Three coal buttons. Pop!

Pitter patter school is out

Outside no one will pout

What is this form of water? Can you figure it out?

Santa Claus

Who’s that guy who lives up north?

What things does he give forth?

Elves are all awork.

To make this jolly night quirk.

Many dreams come true.

So nobody is blue,

Except for the ones who get,

Black dank lumps. What a threat!

How do you get what you want?

So be nice, nicer than your aunt,

But don’t be nice for a day. 

you have to stay that way, 

For a year to avoid that lump,

So don’t slip up and leave a bump.

at midnight near the end of the year.

The bells on his sleigh spear, 

the air. Animals with horns carry him away,

who’s this guy anyway?


On a wonderful night,

What’s under your tree that wasn’t in sight?

It’s got gold yellow laces on top.

Wrapped in different colors that always pop. 

The first thing you see on December five seconds.

The thing you go for on that morning that’s what it’s always.

Normally you would tiptoe down the stairs but now you don’t care about bumps and thumps,

because all you want are those wonderful things

and by the way, can you guess this wonderful thing?


Michael was baffled. A bunch of people with strange clothing were standing in the street. He knew nothing about this, who these people were, or what they were doing. All he knew was that at the front of the crowd, there was a bunch of yelling, “Get back!” 

He slowly started to back up back through the alley he had come from, when a crowd appeared on the other end. Michael was trapped. He went up to someone and tried to ask what was happening. All the guy said was, “Why are you being such a hater?”

Michael said, “I don’t even know what I’m hating!” The man just walked away. All Michael knew was that he had to get out of there. 

Stephanie knew that this march may have been overkill. She was having regrets. They hadn’t even asked politely. They were just marching straight away. She had been so eager to take action that she hadn’t even tried the easy way. Stephanie was not the leader of the march. She didn’t even know who was. She was just sort of following the herd.

Stephanie tried to wriggle up to the front, but everyone was so tightly packed. The lady in front of her said, “Move back to your spot! Stop pushing me!” Stephanie was confused. She had no idea why the crowd wasn’t moving, or why everyone was so squished. She couldn’t see over all of the signs people were holding, and she didn’t know why there was yelling at the front. Stephanie just kept going on.

Officer Norris was excited. He had woken up that morning expecting a normal day at the office. On his most exciting days, he went out and passed out parking tickets to people calling him an asshole just for doing his job. Now, the city had summoned all of the police officers in their small town to deal with the marchers. In his three years of being a cop, he had never done something even remotely as exciting. But as he rounded the corner in his beige police car, he was having second thoughts. The crowd looked awfully scary. People were screaming and swearing, and Norris had never dealt with a similar situation in his whole career. He uneasily got out of his car with his club, gun, and taser. He had never used any of them. Sweat was pouring down Norris’s face. He jogged to the crowd. Other officers had clear plastic riot shields. Norris didn’t think that this would be such a big deal. His excitement was slowly turning into fear and uneasiness. Norris would have to summon his inner tough guy.

Michael hadn’t moved. The crowds hadn’t budged either. He had no choice but to join them and get out of the alley. He had gone in to take a shortcut, but now he had to get out. So Michael moved with the hundreds of people in the street. He was slowly getting closer and closer to the yelling, but still couldn’t see anything at the front. He would just have to keep moving.

Stephanie was in the same situation. She let the crowd move her, and didn’t resist. Why were people yelling? She hadn’t thought this would turn violent. “Stop!” She yelled. “Stop fighting!”

Officer Norris heard something. Amongst all of the yelling and screaming, he heard one person say, “Stop fighting!” He tried to see who said it, but of course he couldn’t.

Someone tried to talk to him, but Norris got angry. “Get back!” he said. Norris took out his taser and thrust it into the man’s neck. He collapsed to the ground, unconscious. Norris was shocked at what he had done. He scooped up the man. It was Norris’s responsibility to get the man to safety. He could be trampled! 

Natalie stood on top of Antonio’s Pizza. She had her camera out and was filming the whole thing. No matter what happened, she had to capture the whole thing.

Her boss yelled at her over the radio. “Come back, Natalie! It’s too dangerous! Climb in the chopper!” Natalie didn’t move. Her job was to film whatever happened as close as she could. She zoomed in her camera and began speaking. “This morning, protesters gathered on Glenn street marching north. There has been minimal violence. Police are attempting to control the situation. One person has been tased.” Suddenly she noticed a police officer uncapping his water bottle. She zoomed in. It wasn’t a water bottle.

Suddenly the front grew much louder and Michael uneasily stepped back. A small metal object went flying through the air and struck a man in the face. He collapsed to the ground and began to bleed from his nose and mouth. Everyone stood there for a second before they processed what the metal was. Tear gas. Michael froze and began to act purely on instinct. He ran as fast as he could and covered his mouth. He pushed and shoved, but couldn’t move. Michael fell to the ground beside the man. The canister made a fssssshing sound. Michael began to cough. It felt as if an anvil was on Michael’s chest. He couldn’t breath and his skin began to burn. His eyes started watering and his nose began to run. A thick white smoke closed in around him and Michael tried to get up. He stumbled through the fog and eventually made it out. Everything felt like it was on fire.

Officer Norris couldn’t believe what had happened. As he climbed a fire escape with the limp body of the man he had tased, the tear gas was slowly billowing up beneath him. The wind blew all of the gas towards him. Norris was trained for this. He hardly had the strength to haul the man up the last ladder onto the roof.

There was a woman with a camera leaning over the edge. “Who are you?” she asked.

“An officer,” Norris said. “I need to get this man to safety. Can we stay up here?” She ignored him and Norris assumed that meant yes. It was kind of a rhetorical question. 

Michael ran down the street with tears and mucus pouring down his face. Then he spotted a fire escape that was down. He stumbled towards it and began to climb blindly. 

Stephanie was horrified. This had gotten way out of hand. She grabbed the man who had been struck and hauled him towards Antonio’s Pizza. She had her eye on the fire escape. She had to get to the top. 

Natalie went over to the cop who had come up and pointed her camera at him.

“I can call for a chopper to take this man to a hospital.” She spoke into her radio. “I need that chopper,” she said.

The cop said, “Thank you so much. I’m Officer Norris.”

Stephanie looked up. A black dot appeared in the sky. It steadily grew larger. It was a helicopter, coming towards Antonio’s. She needed to go to a hospital, but Stephanie didn’t know if she was strong enough to make it up there. She began to climb.

Michael collapsed on the top of the building. There were already three people there. One of them was lying on the ground. He looked back down at the crowd and noticed someone… carrying someone else. A woman was carrying the gassed man. She was heading towards the fire escape. Michael was at the bottom now. They carried the man in their arms. Together, they raced up the stairs. 

The helicopter landed on the roof right near Norris. He almost got pushed off the roof from the wind. Norris flung open the doors and said, “This man needs to go to the hospital.”

The pilot said, “But this is a news chopp-” Norris gave the pilot his signature death stare. “Ok, sir. Load him in.” 

Natalie was thrilled. She was getting the perfect story. She began to commentate while filming Officer Norris. “Atop a building in the middle of the Glenn Street Riot, unfolds a story of hope and perseverance. An officer helps an injured man into a helicopter on the roof of Antonio’s Pizza.”

Stephanie looked up. They were so close to the top. Eventually she and this new guy, who had introduced himself as Michael, climbed up onto the roof. There were already people there. And the chopper! The doors were closing and Stephanie panicked.

“Hey! Help! Can we use your chopper?

The man in the door with the police uniform said, “No. We have an injured man we need to get to the hospital.”

Michael yelled over the blades, “So do we!”

The helicopter’s doors opened again and the officer said, “Get in! Quick!” Stephanie and Michael quickly piled into the helicopter. As the doors closed and the blades began to spin, Stephanie saw the news woman stumble towards the edge. She watched in horror as the woman stumbled right off the edge. Without thinking, Stephanie wrenched open the doors again and jumped out. She ran towards the fire escape as fast as she could.

Norris was confused again. Why was this crazy lady running towards the edge? Natalie was probably dead. She would be soon, at least, from being trampled by the crowd. But then again Norris had taken an oath when he became an officer. Norris quickly filled in the guy that had just arrived on the situation and swiftly jumped the seven foot drop that was beneath them now. 

Stephanie acted swiftly. She scooped up the reporter’s limp body and rushed to her car through the protestors.

Suddenly, the officer from the helicopter rounded the corner and said, “Go to my car. It’ll go faster and has a siren to clear traffic.” The officer threw her the keys and together they ran for the patrol car. They clambered in and Norris put the reporter in the backseat. Then, Stephanie floored it.

The helicopter landed on the roof and the doors opened. Michael ran into the building and emerged five minutes later with two medical workers and two stretchers. He and the pilot carried the bodies into the hospital.

The tased man, Jeff, woke up quickly and Norris apologized again and again. After 13 hours of Michael waiting restlessly, the doctors proclaimed the other man dead. Natalie was fine. She had a minor concussion, but nothing too serious. Norris was promoted to Chief for bravery during the riot. The riot lasted three more hours and left two dead. Michael was surprised the number had been so low. Stephanie never marched again. She took action from her house, sending letters to politicians and such. The experience only made Natalie want to be a reporter more. And after a week or so, all was mostly well.


Chapter 1

I’m Cloud, the only male wolf in the Best Pack Anyone Could Wish For – although Storm, my sister, said we might want to change our pack’s name and Emily, my best friend, seems to agree with her. Oh, well.

I was roused from my shaky sleep when I heard bickering at the entrance of the cave where the Best Pack Anyone Could Wish For lived.

“Emily! I thought I told you not to go outside in the middle of a thunderstorm!” Storm scolded.

“Yes, Alpha,” Emily said sarcastically, “but would you rather let Cloud starve to death?”

Storm, who was most likely shocked by the Alpha remark, didn’t respond. The leader of a wolf pack is called Alpha, and if Emily thought Storm should be Alpha, I’d agree in a heartbeat. But first, I needed to stop Storm and Emily from arguing.

“Thank you for the prey, Emily. And Storm, you should be Alpha,” I declared, which made both she-wolves whip around to face me with with a we-weren’t-arguing expression.

“Oh, you’re awake!” Emily said cheerfully, as if she had forgotten her previous argument, “I brought you a mouse!”

“I know. I smelled it. Thank you,” I said, wrapping my tail around my paws as the warm amber brown she wolf licked her paws and sat down next to me.

“Are you sure?” Storm said, shock flaring in her olive green eyes.

“Yes!” Emily and I declared simultaneously.

“We should call you Alpha from now on,” Emily joked.

“If you’re sure…”  Storm whispered.

“Alpha! Alpha! Alpha!” Emily and I howled her new name.

“Who’s Beta?” I asked. The Beta was second in command of a wolf pack.

“Well, one of you decides the new name for the pack, and the other becomes Beta,” Alpha decided.

I turned to face Emily. “You should be Beta,” I said, and after only a moment of hesitation, she nodded.

“Beta! Beta! Beta!” We cheered.

“Well, Cloud? What’s our pack’s new name?”

I studied Beta’s soft brown fur, and thought of her lost sister, Keelin. Then I thought about my brother, Sticks, who I hardly remember, but if I was able to recall more than just a faint memory of my brother’s tangled brown gray fur and stubby tail, I’m sure I’d miss him.

“The Pack of Stars,” I said in a hushed voice, “After Keelin and Sticks.”

“And Lola,” Alpha added. I didn’t think it was the right time to mention I don’t have a single memory of our mother.

“And Shadow,” Beta said, which sent me and Alpha’s heads tilting with confusion. “My mother,” Beta explained.

Alpha curled her tail around Beta’s, “You’ve lost all of your family,” she said sympathetically, then added quickly, “well, all of your family that’s worth anything.”

“Worthless murderer,” Beta agreed, snarling, no doubt thinking of her father, Claw, who had killed Keelin.

I studied my sister’s olive eyes that were filled with grief. Keelin was Alpha’s best friend. Alpha is very pretty, I mused, momentarily distracted. And she was — for a wolf her age, at least. Her silver gray moonlike fur was well groomed and she seemed much more mature than when we first started The Pack of Stars, which would be… a month ago, I think. Her muzzle had grown slightly longer and her silver fur was a sharp contrast to the cold, dark stone of this cave. She’s pretty, I thought, but Beta is outstanding.

“Hello, Earth to airhead! Ahem, Cloud? Yoo-hoo!” Alpha said, interrupting my chain of thought by waving her tail in front of my face.

“Airhead yourself,” I retorted, momentarily distracted from my daydreaming about Beta. But then I began thinking again.

Beta’s gray gold eyes contrast her soft mud and amber fur so perfectly and her laugh… I wonder if she knows I’m falling in love with her.

Chapter 2

“Do you hear that?” Beta asked, angling her ears towards a tall bush that was covered in thorns which made the bush look like jagged lightning. She was right, of course. I could hear shuffling and the occasional thwak! thwak! thwak! We were out hunting at night, so of course at this time we had to be way too alert.

“Yes,” I murmured, “should I go talk to them?”

“Sure. Wow, Alpha’s talk about you not being impulsive must have worked — although I guess she was pretty intimidating.”

“She gave you the same speech?” I asked, surprised.

“Yeah,” she said. She tried to give me a menacing look at the hidden wolf(es), but mostly it looked like she was glaring at some random bush. After she must have decided she was scary enough, she raised her voice and howled, “show yourself!”

“Um… sure,” came the reply.

“Be quiet, you!” another voice scolded, but the wolves came out of hiding. It was two wolves. At least, I thought it was two. One of them had to be midnight black unless there was somehow magically floating golden eyes. Probably not. The other wolf was more visible, with his glowing silver white fur and dark blue eyes.

“I’m Silver and this is my younger brother, Galaxy,” the silver wolf said, his voice low and hoarse.

“Yeah, hello! Are you guys in a pack?” If you are, are you anything like the Pack of Dark Wolves? If you aren’t, can we join your pack? Please?” The black one, Galaxy, asked. His voice, compared with his brother’s, was light and fast — also full of questions.

“You know the Pack of Dark Wolves?” Beta asked, ears tilted with confusion. Then understanding dawned in her eyes. “Oh. Oh Silver, it’s you, “Beta said, with such a longing in her voice, I nearly stumbled over my paws in… hmm. I don’t actually know how to describe what I was feeling. Something like anger… but more than that. Maybe she’s sharing some of her longing with me, and I was longing for Beta. I have a strong feeling I’m not going to like this Silver.

Chapter 3

“Alpha! Guess what?!” Beta yelped excitedly as she marched into our home cave.

“I doubt you actually want me to guess,” Alpha replied, sliding out of her den. “What is it?”

“I found Silver and Galaxy, friends of mine from when I was in the Pack of Dark—”

“Wolves. Yes. Good for you. Guards, take them out a kill them, where my offspring can see them.” Then, smiling at Beta, Alpha said, “inside joke.”

“Oh, good,” Beta said, flicking her tail, “because if not…” she trailed off.

“What were you going to say?” I prompted.

“I finished what I was going to say!” Beta retorted.

“Oh,” Alpha and I said simultaneously. Then we heard a low, rumbly growl. I whipper around to face the entrance, thinking the Pack of Dark Wolves was attacking us again, but the only wolf nearby was Galaxy, whose tail was wrapped around himself in embarrassment.

“Sorry, just hungry,” the black wolf muttered.

Beta flicked her ears in amusement. “I’m sure we all are. Silver, wanna come hunting with me?” she asked with a shy glance in his direction. Now I can name the emotion I was feeling a bit earlier. Jealousy. I know because I’m feeling it now.

Chapter 4

“Here you go, Cloud!” Beta said cheerfully while tossing me some prey. She bounded away, calling over her shoulder, “I’m going to go play with Galaxy. See ya later!”

Silver padded over to where I was eating, regarding me. “Beta’s mine,” he said in his fierce but quiet voice.

“She doesn’t belong to anybody,” I announced.

“No. Claw promised her to me. She is destined to be my mate,” Silver snarled.

My hackles rose. “She can choose her own mate now!”

Silver growled, then launched himself at me. I instinctively raised my paws and batted him away. A small line of blood sprung from his underbelly. Growling, he landed on all fours and crouched down, looking ready to spring back up at me. I swerved to the side just as Silver leaped. I launched myself at his flying silver body and tried to pin him down, but he rolled over and ended up on top of me, teeth near my already bleeding throat.

“Silver. What. Are. You. Doing?” It was Alpha! Thank the Pack of Starry Wolves!

Once Silver heard her voice, he spun around and swiped at her, causing her one of her eyes amd muzzle to drip with blood. My sister released an ear splitting shriek of pain and Beta rushed over.

“Alpha! Cloud! Are you okay?”

Silver responded for us, which might have been a good idea, since he nearly ripped my vocal chords out and Alpha had fallen unconscious, but his answer was completely wrong. “They’re fine. Come on, Beta, I’m leaving this pack —- and your own father told you that you had to come with me!”

When Beta responded, her voice was hushed. “No, Silver. Father isn’t here now. I make my own choices. I choose to be called Emily. I met the wolf I love with that name, and I will die with that name, too!” Silver’s eyes seemed to brighten at this, most likely assuming that Emily was talking about them. Emily delivered the final blow, “and cloud is the one I love!”

Glooey Glob the Alien

Glooey Glob is a very weird alien, as you probably already know. 

He’s green, like normal aliens, and his name is Glooey Glob.

He can transform into any forms he wants, like a tiny skyscraper, or a scary monster with razor-sharp teeth. (If you touch them, they feel so squishy and sink back in)

Glooey Glob wants to be able to do something else than just show off; he really wants to eat human food. 

For him, it’s like, well, he doesn’t know because he never tried, but it looks and smells so good.

Oh! But how is he able to smell? Good question.

He thinks of transforming into a mouth, tries to put food in it, but before he can do anything, the mouth sticks back together. 

The substance of his body is made of this kind of weird jello that you can see through, except with a weird eyeball in the middle. Glooey Glob can’t talk (but he can scream). 

He can’t eat because he has no mouth, though he does not need to.

Well actually, he can have a giant mouth that squishes down right when something goes in it! 

One day, Glooey Glob gets up, but when Glooey Glob gets up, for him he just transforms into something taller than a squishy puddle. 

Today is a big day, the day to do his plan he has been working on for weeks, the day he gets to eat foooooooooddd!!!

To hold his mouth when he is going to eat food, he thinks of putting sticks to keep it up. 

But then, there is another problem. 

He sees there are a lot of humans near the human food.

So, he goes to his old friend, whose name is Non Glooey Glob (he is not glooey), 

and borrows human clothes. 

Glooey Glob goes out and would go and get some food, except he realizes he has no human money. 

Then, he sees someone taking out money from their bag, and rushes up, secretly takes the bill, and gets back to buy some food.

Except, he steps on the person’s foot and the human says, 

“Help someone is stealing my money!”

Every single human looks at Glooey Glob, and Glooey Glob is scared he will be discovered, so he stands as still as a stick. 

The problem is, when he thinks about a stick, it makes him transform into a stick!

So, the clothes he is wearing fall off and everybody sees he is an alien, and they all scream out,

“An alien! An alien!” 

Weird things called cars with lights flashing and people in blue start coming out,

toward him. 

So, he thinks that transforming into a tree, and blending in with the other trees around would maybe make them not see him. 

But, apparently, his idea is bad because a tree cannot move. 

He is taken by the humans in blue, and brought to this weird place with metal bars in front of him, a bed that he did not know how to use, and toilets that he thought might be a good way to take a bath.

After he has enjoyed his small bath, he does not know if the bars were supposed to stop him from leaving or not, but he just transforms into a snake and slides through them to then transform back into a human-ish form.

He starts walking around, looking for something to do. 

He sees a door with a sign that says “cafeteria” and thinks it might be good to investigate. 

But when his one eye sees what is inside, he runnnnnns in, and screams


But the only sound that comes out is, 


Because, remember, he can’t talk.

Well after that you would think there would be no food left, but the problem is when Glooey Glob eats, the food has nowhere to go, so it just shoots back out with slimy bits on it.

So after a few minutes, all that was left was food everywhere, a nice and happy Glooey Glob, and a very mad cook.

When the cook sees Glooey Glob, he runs and says, “Help, guards, help!!!”

A bunch of humans in blue come and take Glooey Glob to a room almost the same as the other one, with a bed and toilets (for him a small bath). The only thing that is different is instead of metal bars, there is a door.

This time he was sure he was not supposed to escape.

He thinks humans are dumb because there is a latch that can be opened on the side of the door, so he opens it to escape, but on the other side is a tray of food, so he takes it and swallows it instantly. 

After that, he hears the bell ring, and out of nowhere a voice says, “Lunchtime! Everybody head to the cafeteria!” 

So, he remembers the word on the door and runs to the door! He sees a bunch of other prisoners. 

They all have an orange outfit, and he is jealous he didn’t get one. 

When Glooey Glob first arrived, they were about to give him one of those outfits, but he doesn’t get why they took it back after trying it on (because he obviously did not fit).

In the cafeteria, after about five minutes, all that was left was a bunch of humans in orange lined to the wall, trying to dodge from the food flying everywhere, that obviously was Glooey Glob eating. 

This is what happens when Glooey Glob eats: it looks like a giant monster with a thousand hands (not exaggerating). 

Each of them is holding a piece of food, trying to be the first one to put it in the big mouth that was not even chewing them, but ejecting them right out.

After a while, more humans in blue came and when they saw the mess, they ran out.

A week went by, every day the same, the humans eating and eating the same food in the cafeteria. every human in the prison left giving the whole prison to Glooey Glob.

But this day is special because a lot of humans in blue come and have this pokey thing that they use and poke the jello, and then Glooey Glob passes out.

Glooey Glob wakes up in a circular room, but before he can do anything, there is a big rumbling sound and then, 

“Five, four, three, two, one, blast off!!!”

Glooey Glob goes to a window that is circular and when he looks out, he sees blasts of smoke and fire under him. 

Then he realizes that he is moving upward toward the sky, and suddenly he is scared that he will never come back.

It has been a week, and Glooey Glob has just been sitting there the whole time in the circular room.

And then he suddenly sees an opening in the ceiling that he never saw before.

So, he tries going through it.

When he goes through it, he sees a lot of humans running around, some of them pushing on buttons all around, some of them putting on weird suits, and some of them eating food!

He has missed that thing for so long! 

So he runs up to it and grabs it, and doesn’t even worry about making a mouth. He just sticks it into his skin and it shoots right back out. Every human looks at him with a scared look, and all of them disappear into a different room. 

But then, he realizes no one is pushing the buttons! 

And the whole place is starting to slow down! 

He thinks, “Oh, if I control this thing, I can bring it back to earth.” 

So, he starts pressing weird buttons, but when he presses one button, he hears a loud screeeech from the door the humans went through, and the door detaches, and on the other side he sees darkness. 

After looking for a few more seconds, he sees the part of the spacecraft that detached and thinks it is pretty funny, that it is just this weird square thing in the middle of nowhere. 

So, he just goes back to his work, pressing buttons.

After a few more buttons, the spaceship kind of turns right, and after a few more minutes, he starts getting really hot, and sees this giant ball of fire.

And he’s heading straight for it! 

But, when he’s about to touch it, the spaceship just starts disappearing into smaller pieces, kind of like melting metal. 

But then, he touches the hot surface. 

For him, it’s as if he was taking a little bath, just a little hotter. 

After a while, swimming underneath, he starts feeling that heat go into him, like starting to actually feel the heat. 

So, he tries weirdly swimming back to the surface of the fire and lava. 

He bursts out, and instead of him starting to go back in, he just flies away, towards nothingness.

After a day of flying and nothingness, not being able to do the slightest thing, he sees a giant rock flying in the middle of nothing, and he is about to collide with it. 

He wants to dodge it, but in nothingness, he can’t move. 

So, he splats straight into the rock, and re-forms immediately, but then he feels the rock moving really fast, and he’s being pulled with it.

He can finally kind of move around on the rock. 

He sees it’s way bigger than he thinks. It’s about 30-feet long, and 15-feet high. 

And then he sees a small hole in it. When he goes in, he sees this really weird kind of creature that has eight eyes, and one leg. 

So, he comes up to it, and asks what’s going on, and then he says “Hello, what is this place?” 

But all that comes out is “Greak, glaa as scke ascrh.”

But surprisingly, the other creature seemed to understand, and responds,

“Rekiegl rk ro kreak rkar!”

Which means, in Alien language, “Welcome to my giant rock!”

Glooey Glob says, “Do you know how to go to earth?”

Alien says, “Simple! You just use my teleportation machine!”

Glooey Glob says, “What is a teleportation machine?”  

The alien says, “It’s a machine that will transport your body in a second to anywhere you want. But I can only take you to the moon, because I don’t want to be seen on earth.”

“So, can I use your machine?” Glooey Glob says.

“Aw, you don’t want to stay for a little longer?” the sad alien says.

“Well, I really want to eat food, and I’m really going to die if I don’t eat food,” Glooey Glob says. (Even though he does not need food).

“Well, okay, follow me!” says the alien.

He brings Glooey Glob into this stone cavern, and through the side, there’s what looks like a toilet. 

Which is what Glooey Glob thinks is the bath. 

The alien brings him to the toilets, and pushes a button next to it. 

And says, “To the moon!” 

The water in the toilet turns purple, and the alien jumps in. 

Glooey Glob follows. 

It feels like something is sucking him through nothingness, but it’s not like nothingness he’s been around; it’s purple nothingness.

Glooey Glob gets up and sees he’s on another asteroid, but this one is way, way, way bigger, and in the distance, he sees… earth!

Next to him is the sad alien and the toilet.

The alien says “Well, good luck,” and jumps into the toilet, disappearing with it.

Glooey Glob looks around and notices a stick with a piece of cloth on it near a spaceship, and humans around it jumping really high. 

But these humans are not normal humans — they have giant helmets that have a big piece of round glass and they are way bigger and have white suits. 

Glooey Glob, knowing that the humans will probably run away when he gets close, stays far away, but get closer and closer to the spaceship. 

When he gets there, he goes in, notices a human, but doesn’t mind, and goes to lock the doors. 

When the human sees him lock the door, he gets all scared, and screams out for the other human, but it’s too late! 

The spaceship starts going up as Glooey Glob starts pressing button after button in the control room. 

The humans that are still on the moon try jumping up towards the spaceship, but without luck, and fall back down, and stay there forever.

Another two days passed and Glooey Glob finally managed to tell the human to go back to earth, because obviously the spaceship is just going in a circle right now, with Glooey Glob controlling it. 

The human is really scared, but he still controls the spaceship back home, because this monster is going to be rewarded for bringing it back to earth.

So, another day passes, and Glooey Glob finally sees clouds around, and well, the human says something weird like, “Take this parachute and jump off!” but Glooey Glob doesn’t get what he means, and he is thinking to go eat tacos. 

The human starts running around the ship, grabbing weird material, and then he says, “Gooooo!” and jumps off the ship. 

Glooey Glob thinks this is a little weird, because he noticed the humans aren’t as squishy as him, and will probably not manage to survive the hit. But, he doesn’t care. He’s jumping off to go get tacos.

After a few minutes of freefall, he sees the human flying around with giant wings that are like 10 feet over him, and is wondering how the human is holding onto them. 

But, he doesn’t know what is happening, so he just forgets about the human, and finally lands on a weird blue surface he’s never seen before, besides in a bath. So, thinking it’s bath time, he does his usual bath, splitting into 15 pieces, and then splitting into another five pieces, and the biggest piece is juggling with the smaller pieces. After a while, the human finally arrives for bathtime, but he looks like he’s scared of the bath, because he goes onto a little floaty that is yellow with two other humans in it, and they are looking like they were waiting for him. 

The boat starts going toward Glooey Glob, and Glooey Glob, thinking it is a scary monster that is ruining his bath, tries going away, but because he is thinking of an elephant, but it’s really not working to try and swim away. 

So, they grab him, put him in the boat, and the boat starts going back towards a big tall mountain that he recognizes as the mountain right next to his house! 

Getting there, he starts walking towards the mountain, and wanting to say goodbye to the humans for bringing him back home, tries to do a nice hug. 

But, the humans are super scared of being hugged by a giant jello monster, and take out a weird looking item, click on a button on it, and a weird black ball shoots out of it, and goes through him. 

Thinking it’s a funny thing, he transforms into a piece of cheese with a bunch of holes that are the same size as the black ball. 

The human, looking even more scared, starts running away with his two other friends. Not really caring about what he was doing, he starts walking home, maybe, just maybe, having fun with a few more humans walking past.

But, without taking too much time, he arrives at his house and notices a small piece of paper on his doorstep (which is a mousehole). 

The thing is, he has a giant underground castle, but a super small door that is the size of a mouse hole. 

Glooey Glob transforms into a snake, passes through the door, grabs the piece of paper along the way, but has a hard time fitting it through the hole. 

After a few attempts at pulling it as a snake, he thought of transforming into a pair of big tweezers, which was way easier than to grab the piece of paper. 

When he reads it (it is in Alien language) he notices it is a recipe for cake! 

Which he remembers as Foooooooood!

And realizes the person who sent it is his friend, Cakeman. 

Glooey Glob is so happy to be home, especially to be able to make cake. 

But, that’s another story.

The End. 

Olivia Kokoefer

Chapter One

There once was a bowl of ramen named Olivia Kokoefer. Olivia, no matter what, would never eat bread or sandwiches cut diagonally. Never. She had kept this up for the 11 years she had been alive for. Olivia is unique. She also has unique qualities. For example, she can float magically from any height down to the ground with an umbrella, like Mary Poppins. Another one of her unique qualities is that her limbs are as skinny as a stick person’s. Although Olivia has some odd qualities, her appearance is mostly normal (other than the fact that she’s a bowl of ramen). She is the average height of an 11-year-old bowl of ramen and has short, wavy black hair. 

Olivia doesn’t necessarily go to school. She just sits at home on the counter. For her it’s quite exciting. She finds it exciting mostly because her human mom won’t let anybody eat her, and Olivia finds it funny what people will do to resist eating her. Once somebody tried to kidnap her. After that, her mom just put other not alive bowls of ramen on the counter. It kind of worked. Now Olivia just floats away when somebody glances over their shoulder to look at her. 

It may seem like Olivia lives her life without a care in the world, but that’s not true. Going to school is where most people meet their friends, and she kind of missed out on that, so now her only friend is her mom. You could consider her friends with the people who try to eat her because she sees them a lot, but Olivia doesn’t think about it that way. One day, she decided that having no friends was seriously getting to be an issue, so Olivia jumped off the counter and opened up her umbrella. It was time for an adventure (around her house, but still very exciting).

Whoosh, Olivia flew by holding onto her umbrella. Olivia does have feet. She just preferred the umbrella. When Olivia is in her Mary Poppins mode, she can control where the umbrella goes, straight, left, right, backwards, up, anywhere. Olivia flew by and took a few turns until she realized her mom went to work! She saw a truck and hopped onto the back. Now it was actually going to be an adventure.

Chapter Two

Olivia made herself comfortable over the watermelons that were spread over the bed of the truck. It was a little hard because the watermelons were big, hard lumps. Olivia stays in her house 50 percent of the time, but her mom likes to take her to her work, and sometimes they go on tours around town. After awhile, Olivia started to recognize where she was, her mom’s work. The truck didn’t slow down. It was going around 25 miles per hour. She would have to jump. The thought that went through her mind was, If I can do this, I’ll have two ways of getting out of the car. Plus she was also thinking, Ahhhhhhhh! She took three deep breaths and jumped.

Olivia opened her eyes and saw white around her. She was in heaven. Olivia saw many relatives that had passed away. 

“Grandma?” Olivia asked.

In her mind, she was in what she thought was heaven, while in reality she was just laying on the ground saying, “Grandma?”

People started to stare. When she opened her eyes and stood up, she saw she wasn’t in heaven. Olivia stood up and looked around. Suddenly, she saw her mom’s company, Clara and Kriss’s Upholstery. Clara was a good friend of her mom’s. They had started the company together. Olivia had to take two crosswalks to get to the building. But she wasn’t the kind of ramen that knew how to cross the street on her own. Her mom always carried her across. She just remembered to stay inside the striped lines on the ground, so she marched forward and figured nothing could happen. A car suddenly sped by right in front of her face.

The entire time Olivia was screaming, “Ahhhhhhhhh!”

She decided to run the rest of the crosswalk. When she approached the next crosswalk, there was a small white person in a black box. Plus everyone else was walking, so she decided to go. Finally, she reached the building. It was a tall, rectangular building that always smelled good. It was basically a really clean warehouse on the inside. Olivia never really understood why people needed doors, so she never really bothered to know what they look like or how to use them. She walked forward, stuck her little stick arms out, and walked straight into a wall. She fell flat on her back and tried again, this time in a different spot. She found what she thought was the door and walked towards it. Again, she fell flat on her back. She got up again and decided to ask somebody where the door was.

She walked into a crowd of people and asked gently, “Excuse me, could you point me in the direction of the door?”

A woman with long brown hair turned around and looked at Olivia. On the woman’s name tag were the words, Clara Tjen. Suddenly, Olivia recognized this person! It was her mom’s old business partner, until she left to do some other job that she didn’t tell them about. Clara suddenly picked her up and started running. At first, Olivia thought she was heading in the direction of the door, but then she put her in the back of a sketchy white van and drove away. Olivia started to get more nervous and worried as they got closer to their destination. All she was thinking was, Nothing good can come of this ‘adventure.’

Fifteen minutes later, the old, creaky sliding door slid open. Olivia got onto her feet, and she looked up to see a man with seriously messed up yellow teeth and a bad haircut.

He picked her up and walked halfway to the door to hear Clara say, “I’ll be back later. There were sightings of a talking orange.”

The man nodded and kept walking towards the door. Olivia noticed that Clara had a strangely deep voice. She was also thinking, How dare they compare me to a talking orange! When the man opened the door, Olivia looked around and saw different foods with some sort of ability being tortured in some way, as if they were taking their powers! Tubes were coming out from their chests and into a huge watermelon. What are they doing? thought Olivia. She finally realized they were going to do the same thing to her! She had to make a run for it! She opened her umbrella and attempted to fly away. Sadly, she looked around, and she was still in the man’s arms. She tried again. No success. Until she finally flew!

“Sweet victory!” she yelled.

She was free! Then, she took a wrong turn and banged into one of the poles in this, well, interesting building. Olivia laid there for around 20 minutes. She glanced at her wrist, remembering she could never get a watch because her wrist was too small, and all the ones that did fit her were incredibly expensive. She looked around and noticed a clock on the wall. Since she never went to school, she never learned how to read time. And she never bothered to ask her mom how to read time, so let’s just say she wasn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. Olivia thought to herself, I really should just go to school. That really would solve a lot of my problems! Olivia looked up to see the same man with five others looking at her too.

“Get back to work!” a tall woman who looked like she could beat anybody in a physical confrontation barked.

Like Clara, this woman also had a name tag, but her straight, black hair was blocking part of it, so all she saw was, Soph and ng. Olivia didn’t recognize her, but she also didn’t not recognize her. It’s like she was around when Olivia was just a small cup of ramen or something like that. The woman picked Olivia up, looked left and right, and headed for the bathroom. Was she trying to save her? The woman sat her down on the edge of the bathroom sink, looked at her closely, and looked all directions, even under the bathroom stalls.

“Run,” the woman said and then put Olivia on the floor and motioned for the door near the back of the room.

Olivia nodded and headed for the door.

I guess she was going too slow because the woman had to say, “Go, go now,” a lot.

Olivia began to pick up the pace, but again she never learned how to use a door, so she slammed right into it like she did with the other door, plus the pole too. Again she fell flat on her back. The woman sighed and shook her head. She ran over (it was actually more of a casual jog) and pushed the door open. Olivia watched her open the door for future reference. The woman motioned with her hand for her to go be free in the dark, scary alleyway. Olivia began down the road and looked back to say “thank you” to the woman, but she had already turned around. Her hair spun around and revealed more of her name tag. It read Sophia Wong. Though Olivia now knew this mysterious person’s name, she still was not sure who this person was.

Olivia continued down the alleyway until she heard a low growl coming from some old trash cans a few feet away. Olivia stopped and looked straight at the trash cans. There were no signs of movement. Then, Olivia heard the low growl again, only this time it sounded closer, much closer. She turned around and saw a huge black dog, slobber running from its snout. The dog looked rather skinny, as if it hadn’t eaten in a while. Olivia slowly started to walk in the other direction, then she turned around and began to run, still only looking at the dog. Bang! Olivia hit a fence. She thought to herself, How can such an awesome bowl of ramen hit so many things?! The dog crept closer. This time it seemed much more angry.

The dog kept creeping closer to Olivia, when a person suddenly said, “Frankie, don’t traumatize the ramen.”

The person got closer. It was hard for Olivia to get a good look at the person because the dog was blocking her view. The thing she could see was, like Clara and Sophia, he had a name tag, only she couldn’t read his. The man finally picked up the dog, and it turned out it was actually quite a small dog. The man was wearing a blazer and a turtle neck along with, what looked like, fancy pants. This man was not like the others. He had a nice haircut, smelled good, and had very straight, white teeth. 

“Hello, Olivia,” the man said in a calm, evil voice, like the one bad guys in movies use. “I’ve been waiting for you.” He looked at Olivia and laughed quietly. “I have plans for you,” he said, along with his evil, slow laugh.

Chapter Three

Olivia opened her eyes to see at least half a dozen men standing in a circle around something. She waited for her eyes to focus. Finally, she saw it. It was a talking orange with ropes wrapped around its arms and legs, plus duct tape over its mouth. Olivia was startled when she felt a hand touch her shoulder. She turned and saw the same man from before, the well dressed one. The man plopped her down next to the orange. The orange turned and looked directly into Olivia’s eyes. Chills went down her spine when she saw the fear in his eyes. A rush of adrenaline coursed through her veins, as if her body was telling her, Run!!! But Olivia refused to. Every bad scenario happened either because she hadn’t gone to school or because she attempted to run. She was going to stay put with this orange.

Olivia turned and caught a glimpse of somebody tied up in the closet. Who was that? Olivia thought to herself. The evil man strode by Olivia and the orange. He kept walking until he reached a wooden door. He wrenched it open and disappeared into the room. Finally somebody walked out. It was Clara! She’s here to save me! Olivia hoped, until she remembered Clara was the one who snatched her into the van in the first place.

Three hours later, Olivia was starting to get hungry. She looked around and didn’t see anything. She stood up but fell back down because the orange pulled her down, plus she was tied up with ropes too. The orange gestured to the duct tape covering his mouth. She got the hint and ripped it off when no one was looking.

He whispered into Olivia’s ear, “I have a plan.”

“You want to do what?!” Olivia exclaimed a little too loudly.

One of the men in the circle around them turned around but didn’t seem to have heard anything. 

“You want to do what?” Olivia said quieter this time.

The orange shot her a look clearly saying, Was I not clear? 

Olivia looked around and thought, Is this a good idea? She finally decided.

Olivia leaned over and whispered into the orange’s ear, “Let’s do this thing.” 

The orange smiled from ear to ear. They were ready.

After ‘rehearsing’ several times, the plan was in motion.

 “Remember, you fly away and distract the men while I run into the escape hole.” The orange gestured to a small hole, big enough for a bowl of ramen and an orange, but too small for a human. “Then I’ll distract the men while you run into the hole, and we’ll have sweet victory!”

Olivia nodded, remembering the time she thought she had sweet victory. She wasn’t sure if the plan would work, but she didn’t want to tamp down the orange’s enthusiasm, and she did not want to have to make up a plan of her own, so she went with it. 

Olivia took three deep breaths and thought, Go big and go home. First, she untied the orange. It was a bit of a struggle to try and untie him with stick arms, plus trying to do it without being seen. It was a little easier than it would’ve been if she didn’t have stick arms, because who can tightly tie stick arms together? The orange pretended like he was still tied up, then he nodded to the direction of the dining room table behind the wall of men watching a football game and drinking beer, gesturing to fly over there. Then, one of them stood up, creating an opening. Consequently, Olivia opened up her umbrella and glided right in between them. She wanted them to notice her, but not quite yet. Sadly, she accidentally clipped one of the men’s ears and caught their attention a little too soon. She looked behind the men to try and see whether or not the orange had made it in the escape hole that the rats use, and yes there are rats! At first she couldn’t see him, but then she looked at the spot where they were tied up before and saw his big foot stuck in the edge of the carpet. She had to save him or else the men would get both of them. Suddenly, she had a plan.

Chapter Four

Swoop in, grab the orange, and fly to the escape hole. Swoop in, grab the orange, and fly to the escape hole. Olivia repeated to herself over and over. She didn’t have much time to rethink her plan because half the men were just starting to realize Olivia was free and just hovering in the air, while the other half of the men were processing the fact that the orange was attempting to escape. All in all, they could agree the “very well-thought-out” plan was failing miserably. Olivia flew through the small crowd of clueless men and grabbed the orange’s hand. To Olivia’s surprise, the orange came out of the crack really easily.

“Well, that was a close one!” Olivia exclaimed.

She was so surprised by how easy it was. She accidentally went out a door and into the world. However, this was better than the hole, much better. Olivia landed in a nearby park. When she looked behind her, she realized she wasn’t holding onto the orange’s hand. She was holding onto a smooth twig. You have got to be kidding me! Who holds a twig in the air! Olivia, without even thinking, flew back to the building. She landed on the window sill and tiptoed in through the door, as not to alarm anybody. When she looked left and right, there was nobody there. She flew backwards to notice she went to the wrong building. Olivia jumped out the doorway and headed out the window. She flew to the right building this time and did the same thing. She landed on the window sill and quietly headed in the doorway. She looked left and right again. This time she saw the men flinging something into the closet where she saw the other thing or person from before. The orange! Olivia thought and, well, hoped. She raced in through the crack in the doorway before it closed.

“What was that?!” one of the men asked, but then didn’t seem to care after a while.

Olivia glanced around the corner. Nothing. Then, around the other corner. Nothing. She walked forward and, yet again, bumped into something. Olivia fell flat on her face.

“Oh my god, are you okay?” a voice said from the shadows.

Olivia, rubbing her bowl, looked up to see a very slim figure that seemed to be sitting on a chair.

“Mmm hmm,” Olivia mumbled.

She looked closely at the figure. Again she couldn’t make out when or where she might’ve encountered this person before. Olivia realized one of the only solutions would be to use her communication skills.

“Hello?” Olivia mumbled/whispered.

She could see the figure readjusting in their seat. The more Olivia examined this person, the more she came to the conclusion it was a woman whom she’d met before. 

“Yes?” the woman replied hopefully.

Who is that? Olivia kept thinking to herself. She felt somebody pick her up and put her on their lap. The woman leaned forward and turned on the light in the small closet. 

Olivia put her stick arm up to block the blinding light. She finally took her arm away. She saw a woman with long, wavy brown hair. Olivia looked at this person as if it was someone she used to be very close friends with.

“Do I know you?” Olivia said, hoping for an answer.

“That hurts,” the woman mumbled. “I am your mom’s business partner.”

Olivia racked her brain to think of who this person might be. Finally, a name popped into her head. Was it Clara?

“Clara?” Olivia asked, “Clara Tjen?” Olivia then thought, No, it can’t be her. She left here earlier! 

“Yes!” Clara laughed with joy.

“But you left here earlier. How are you here?” Olivia asked.

Clara sighed and said, “Let me explain.”

Chapter Five

“Uh-huh, you expect me to believe that you were kidnapped and shoved in this closet while a man put on your clothes?” Olivia asked as she sat in Clara’s lap. 

“This is why I don’t chat with talking food anymore,” Clara mumbled.

“What was that?” Olivia asked.


“Have you seen a talking orange recently?”

“You mean that one?” Clara asked as she pointed to the back of the room.

Olivia turned her head to see an orange duct taped to a wall.

“You duct taped him to a wall?” Olivia asked.

“Yep,” Clara replied.

Olivia nodded, and then they high-fived.

“Nice job,” Olivia told her old friend.

“We need a plan to get out of here,” Clara said. “You guys had an interesting plan I watched play out a while ago.”

Olivia looked over to the orange and asked, “Who holds a super smooth stick in the air?”

“Did you keep it?” he asked

“Nope, I threw it out the window. It didn’t appear useful in any way.” Olivia smiled at the orange as if to say, Ha.

“Back to making a plan, people. We need to get out of here, those people are monsters!” Clara encouraged. “Who came up with that last plan?”

“I did the first one. The ‘rescue mission’ one was her idea,” the orange replied.

“So, Olivia is the better plan maker,” Clara said. 

“Why don’t we just sneak out the window right on the other side of this door? It’s like right there,” Olivia replied, agreeing with Clara that she was the better plan maker.

“Sure, why not?” Clara asked.

The orange stayed taped to the wall in awe by how simple and flaw-ful their plan was.

“I’d like to see how that turns out for you two,” the orange added.

“Oh no, mister, you’re coming with us,” Clara and Olivia said in unison.

Clara walked to the back of the closet and untaped the orange. Clara held the orange as Olivia quietly crept over to the door.

“Now, there could be a group of men right there, so be cautious,” Olivia warned.

Olivia very quietly crept the door open, as Clara tiptoed up next to her. Olivia peered out of the opening between the door and the doorway. Nothing. Where is everybody? Clara peered out above Olivia and also saw nothing.

“They must be on their lunch break!” Clara said, nodding her head.

“Really, you knew they had a lunch break the whole time?!” Olivia asked.

Clara just shrugged and motioned for Olivia to go towards the window. Olivia hurried to the window and sat on the ledge and waited for Clara and the orange to get there.

“Let’s go, let’s go, people!” Olivia rushed.

Clara and the orange ran over.

“Hold on to me somewhere, and I’ll fly us to wherever you guys want to go,” Olivia said.

Clara grabbed onto Olivia’s leg, and the orange grabbed onto Olivia’s other leg. Olivia opened up her umbrella, and they flew!

“Where to, orange?” Olivia asked as if she were a bus driver.

“Right here on top of that house,” the orange replied.

Olivia looked to the right and saw a whole bunch of oranges standing on the roof of a short building waving their arms side to side. Olivia landed right next to the parade of oranges and set the orange down.

“Thank you!” the oranges told Olivia.

“No problem,” Olivia replied as she flew away. “Where to, Clara?”

“Over there,” Clara exclaimed as she pointed to a tall apartment building next to a grocery store.

Olivia landed on the top and said her final goodbyes to Clara as she flew off to her house.

A few minutes later, she was in her house knocking on the door. Her mom opened the door and greeted her with a huge hug.

“I missed you!” her mom told her as they were hugging. “But it’s time to go to bed, so shoo shoo.”

Olivia headed upstairs to go to bed. She got under the covers and said, “Oh well, one day I’ll have some friends.”

“Hello?” a muffled voice asked.

Olivia sat up.

“Yes?” she said. “Who’s there?”

“Us!” they said.

Olivia looked around but couldn’t seem to see anything.

“Up here, in your bowl!” one voice said.

Olivia looked in her mirror and saw a whole bunch of foods in her bowl waving. Olivia smiled. She had friends!


Just a Nightmare

Jake ran as the nightmarish creatures followed him, their horrible screeches cutting through the still night air like knife grating on stone. Jake felt drops of sweat fall on the stony ground as he ran into the foggy black. Running from the evil witch Baba Yaga and her foul tiger and lion felt sapping of his strength. Jake ran into the inky black as the nightmare ensued. The ground stopped as Jake tumbled, as he fell into a hateful, scorning darkness. Jake snapped awake, and awoke to a bed drenched with sweat. Looking around, Jake saw the drooping, sleepy-eyed moon through the open blinds and thought to himself, It was just a nightmare, just a nightmare… Knowing he wouldn’t sleep again, Jake walked into the kitchen and was immediately greeted by the warm smell of pancakes wafting through the room. Jake entered the kitchen thinking, Russia could not smell better than this. Being a P.I has its perks. Just as he was about to bite into his fluffy warm syrupy mountain, the phone rang. Ring! Jake almost shouted his favorite Russian curse word “mudak,” meaning sh*thead. Suddenly, his pet gnome, Tret Elponocks — wait, scratch that — his gnome roommate, Tret Elponocks, entered the room. He was a serious no-profanity believer and would’ve punched Jake had the phone call not been from B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defence) central.

“Jake, we found a frog nest in the woods 15 minutes from your base.” 

“Copy that central.”

Jake scrambled to pull on his gray B.P.R.D. logoed suit and jumped into his dark silver modified DeLorean, thinking, This is how to drive in style. Arriving at the cave where the frog nest was and pulling out his silver bullet submachine gun (and thinking he was not the lone ranger), he entered the cave and saw a horrible sight: all of the frogs were dead, but, more interestingly, most were covered with bloats and burns. Whoever had killed them was fast. The sulfur-like smell of magic, of a supernatural being, wait, the smell of smoke and gunpowder? Jake jumped as the cave collapsed in a fireball much like the fireball of an 1800s Russian hand grenade. Whoever was behind this was old or old-school. It was time to go to info central, a.k.a the gossiping horse tavern. Walking to the counter, he ordered a 1% proof beer. Obviously Jake was a weak drinker.

Jake asked the bartender, a bald man with a dark beard and eyes that seemed to always be half-way peering at someone, “Have you seen anything… weird.”

Keeping his voice low, the bartender replied, “Na’w, but I been hearing whispers, whispers about Baba Yaga and children going missing, little children… ”

 After having another beer, Jake walked back to the house. Then grabbing his computer, he dug into the vast files of the B.P.R.D. online library. Entering into the search bar, ‘Baba Yaga,’ the results were limited only to Hellboy’s personal report after fighting the witch. Hellboy believes she escaped, but her whereabouts as well as powers, allies, and all other weaknesses were unknown except one: Christian artifacts. He would have to call the Vatican, which meant calling his ex-wife turned nun who he had not seen or spoken to for 20 years. He hated making calls like this. Every number he dialed made him weaker. 

“Victoria,” Jake said. 

Victoria coldly replied, “Jake, what do you want?” 

Setting his jaw, Jake replied, “I need you to pull some strings.”

“For what?” Victoria asked.

“I need a holy pendant.”

 “Why?” asked Victoria.

 “To kill Baba Yaga,” was Jake’s reply.

 “Jake, where are you?

 “Russia,” was the only reply from Jake.

 “Fine. Bye.”

 And that was the last thing Victoria said before hanging up. A couple days later, a package arrived with a note:

Handle with great care. (Do not break unless your paycheck is over a million dollars.) (Still don’t break.) P.S. This is the holy pendant of Charlemagne. 

“Wow, she really overdid that. I have a weird feeling she wants me to break this.”

Carefully unpacking the 2,015-year-old pendant and praying it wouldn’t break, he heard a knock on the door 

“No, I don’t,” replied a tactical gear clad Victoria (with holy water shotgun).

After hastily getting dressed, Jake was stopped by an armed Tret Elponocks.

“And you are going where without me?”

Jake was shocked at the sight of his battle ready ex-wife and gnome. He watched her as she unpacked her vast set of ancient weapons and artifacts.

“Here,” she said as she handed Jake a set of 1800’s Russian hand grenades.

“You said you thought this was what was in the cave?” Jake examined the items before confirming. “How the hell did you get your hands on these?” He turned to her, obviously impressed.

She shrugged. “Black market, that’s all.”

Jake’s eyes widened. “You seriously broke the law just to get your hands on these?”

“Hell yeah,” was Victoria’s response. “We need to find out if these are really what caused the explosion.”

“Well, I’m pretty sure I caught the explosion on the suit cam. So if we do some math, scratch that, a lot of math, we can analyze the blast and check the blast to the charge. We’ll figure it out,” Jake explained.

“Suit cams, forgot you had those.” Victoria frowned. “Ugh, I just wasted 13,000 on those just for nothing!” She was yelling a little too loud now.

“No, you just got us the iron that we needed for attacking Baba Yaga. Plus, it blows up,” was Jake’s smart*ss reply.

“Okay, if you’re so da*m smart, where’s Baba Yaga?”

“Well?” said Jake.

“That’s problem number two.”

Plugging in her computer, she searched for an obscure Youtube video that just happened to be on the B.P.R.D. channel. (She crunched the numbers.) Only 0.0000000000001% of 1,300,000,000 watched. But, it said what they needed. Thy got hooked up with the B.P.R.D. Russia Kazakhstan-Russia border agent, who had been hearing reports of children going missing in the border town of Kongelsk. Kongelsk was a small town with a thick surrounding wood and a small stream. Then, Jake, Victoria, and Tret flew to the nearest airport and then helicoptered in.

In the town, after ordering local vodka (just ‘cause), they headed over to the agent’s house to discuss Baba Yaga. The agent welcomed them with freshly baked gingerbread and more vodka.

Later, they hopped in an SUV and headed into the surrounding wood. After driving into a clearing, they saw (after blinking in the sun for quite a while) a small cottage on chicken legs. Seeing smoke coming out of the firepit, and after drawing weaponry, they headed closer to the cottage. Baba Yaga opened the door and immediately the house started running.

After jumping back in the SUV, revving the engines, and going as fast as possible, they finally caught up to the quite fast chicken-legged house. Victoria opened the car door and fired off a holy water shell. The house briefly stopped, as if in pain, and then continued. An hour and 20 bucks in gas later, Baba Yaga’s house stopped, cornered in a limestone quarry. Baba Yaga then opened the door, and after chanting words in ancient Slavic, a strange red light emitted from her hands, destroying the SUV. Promptly, Victoria fired another round from the holy water shotgun, and Jake fired some silver bullets from the submachine gun. 

After a bullet hit Baba Yaga, she yelled, “You cannot kill me! As long as Russia endures, I will survive!” 

All firing stopped. A silence fell over the quarry. 

Back at base, another round of torture came from Abe Sapien (who just happened to be the Russia/Kazakhstan border agent in disguise). More terror awaited… Paintball guns.

Spell Casters

I Almost Pee In My Pants

“Reflectiao!” I yelled at the top of my lungs.

A small mirror the size of a piece of paper floated in front of me. It swung. I ducked. It plunged. I screamed. Luckily, the mirror protected me. I lifted my head from beneath my arms. The SpiderBright was gone. Somehow, the mirror looked bigger. Now, it looked around the size of a stove. I put on a triumphant face before anyone could see that I almost peed in my pants because I was so scared. I looked over my shoulder to see a girl holding a God SpellBook. 

“You know, I made the mirror,” she said, annoyed.

 “Oh,” I said, my jaw dropping.

“Name’s Adrena,” she said, “Professional Spell Caster and Detective.”

Bzzz Bzzz, my watch buzzed. ‘5:30,’ it read. I got three new texts, all that said, ‘Come to Clover City.’ I quickly told Adrena that I needed to leave. I got a train there. It took about one hour. I watched the city disappear as the train spread into the station. As I got off the train, a note taped to a sign was about to be blown away. “Oxxiel,” I whispered to myself. The note flew off from the sign and landed in my hand. It read:

Dear Adrena,

Meet me at Cristoffs Magic Shop.

8:30 P.M.



One thousand questions crowded my brain. Well, there’s only one way to get answers, I thought.

I Get Attacked By A Killer Meatball

“Ouch ahh ooh,” I said warily.

There it is! There it is! As I emerged from the forest, I said a smoke spell, and it turned into a smoke cloud. I found a crack in the windows, then drifted in. I saw Adrena and another guy, who I guessed was Francisco, talking.

Pop! The smoke spell wore off. Whoops.

“Escalaza!” yelled Adrena. Their bowls of spaghetti grew till they were the size of a refrigerator. Boom! Okay, that meatball just grew eyes. (Typical.) With that it came lunging at me. I grabbed a piece of MagNet (or as you humans call it: yarn) and made Jacob’s Ladder with it.

“Mi,” I whispered to no one in particular. The MagieNet flew and trapped the Meatball Monster. Ftth. The monster disintegrated. “What’s going on?” I demanded. 

“Alright alright,” Adrena confessed, “I got a letter from my brother, and he told me he was seeing weird things around the city. So the Crystill told him to find a few people he could trust and try to find out who was doing this. That’s why we brought you here to — ”

“You didn’t bring me here!” I interrupted. “I found a letter.” 

“You think that O.X.X.I.E.L spell was yours?!” she snorted. “If you said that spell, you would probably blow it away even more!”

This whole time Francisco hadn’t said anything. Wait… he was levitating. Oh no, oh no, oh no! He was about to say a death spell. I ran out as fast as my legs would go. If I said a single spell, it would trigger his spell to charge up even faster. Bam! I jumped out of spell range before the green light engulfed. I wasn’t going down without a fight. I positioned my hands, so it would look like I was holding an invisible sword. I pulled my hands apart as far as I could. A green shimmer was forming between my hands. A long wooden bamboo staff was now in my hands. I ran toward the siblings.

 “Yah!” I said with gusto.

As I was about to blast off their heads, I tripped.

“Sorry,” said Adrena, “Imp.”

A portal opened beneath me. I fell in, screaming as I fell into my dark death.

My Funeral

I landed on something slimy. That’s when I realized what it was. A tongue. I tried to summon my magic bamboo staff to help me escape the Realm Of Monsters. I started moving. I knew it was only a matter of time before I died. I tried all the spells I knew. I could smell its bad breath by now. Chomp! I was swallowed into the monster. All the people I knew had a party to celebrate my life, even though they didn’t find my body. If you’re wondering how I knew this, I knew this because this was just a near-death experience. Just one of many more to come.

Little Short Nuggets of Life

Little Short Nuggets of Life is an ongoing collection of vignettes about events in the author’s life. The stories below are highlights from the seven snippets that have been written so far. Enjoy!

Some guy died on the freeway, and my dad was late picking me up. I think it was some biker who got hit. My dad says he drove past a bike and a white sheet with a person-shaped lump under it on Highway 24. Anyway, I got dropped off at the bus stop at 3:20 in the afternoon. And after waiting for about five minutes, I began to become restless. I know that sounds lame, but first, I usually get picked up within at least the first two minutes. And second, five minutes is so long when you’re just sitting there. Like, seriously. Have somebody set a timer for five minutes and just sit there and try to guess when five minutes have passed. I’ll bet you say, “Stop,” around three minutes. A minute is a long time! And then when you put five of them together, it’s like, six times as long a time. Around minute seven, I started practicing jumping up and clicking my heels twice. I only got it twice. Again, it sounds easy, but it really isn’t! Then I started trying to teach myself Patty Cake. I am an expert now. Then, I just sat there a bit more. The bus and everyone else had left by now. Then I counted how many birds I could spot in a minute. It was eight. Then I practiced what I would say to my mom when she finally came. I started talking to myself. Not because I was going insane, but because that’s what I do when there’s nothing else to do. There was a car this whole time that would circle the block with a woman in it with AirPods. She went around four times. I think she was lost. Everytime she came back, I was like, “Oh it’s you again!” There was a pea plant and I would pick a pea pod and squeeze it to see how far I could shoot the peas. Turns out, not all that far.  So I just waited. A bit more.

A random thought I had today, “What if there was a store that was filled with people and mosquitos could just come along and be like, ‘O negative, please.’ And the cashier would say ‘Oh, try aisle four on the right side.’ And then the mosquito would go to aisle four and pick out the human they wanted and take it home to drink the person’s blood.

Then what would happen is when a mosquito bought a bunch of humans, they would get to the exit and see one of those huge bins for food that gets donated to the food bank and stick in a baby or two. How would a mosquito check if a human was good? By how long their hair is? Or how soft the bottom of their feet are? And there would be farms for humans that are B+ and farms for humans that are A-. How would they pay for the humans? What do mosquitoes use for currency? What do ants use for currency? Ants are so advanced and have such complicated ant hills that maybe they use money, too. I wonder if bees know that they will die if they sting somebody. I heard that all bees are female except for the workers, who basically get treated like slaves. They just work until they aren’t needed anymore. Then the queen just pushes them out the door and leaves them to die. That’s so sad! Imagine if humans did that. “Oh, little Billy. We don’t have a use for you anymore! Well, you’re on your own now!” While writing this I thought, “What are some other insects I could talk about?” So I Googled, “Cool Insect Facts.” And here’s what popped up: Did you know that 90% of species on Earth are insects? I mean, that’s just so many. And I learned that 290 million years ago there was this dragonfly that had a wingspan of three feet! It went around terrorizing lizards and being a jerk to everybody. Do insects name their babies? I also found out that termite queens can lay 7,000 eggs in a day. Imagine how painful that would be. Just laying eggs all day long. You would never get to just relax. Just eggs and eggs and eggs and eggs and eggs upon eggs upon eggs. Anyway, that’s what I have to say about insects. I guess insect life will just remain a mystery. 

So in Berkeley around this time it’s been getting really hot. And everyone is rejoicing. For the past two months, we have had rain almost every single day, and when it’s not raining, it’s overcast. But recently I have been able to wear short sleeve shirts and shorts. At the same time, I am melting onto the sidewalk practically, but it’s a small price to pay for all this glorious sunshine. I just constantly want to be outside. Sometimes, in the middle of class, I just feel a strong, burning desire to go run in a meadow or jump in a pool somewhere. Although today might have been an exception. We have this thing at school called Endurance Day and it was today. We ran the 800-meter dash. And everyone was so slow. One kid took seven minutes. It was so boiling, like somewhere someone had dropped an atom bomb. But instead of, you know, leveling a whole city, it released an insane flood of sunshine. The quickest time was four minutes, sixteen seconds. To put that in perspective, the average 800-meter time is from 3:16 all the way to 3:30. That’s around a minute slower than what your time should be. At the end, I was so tired that I rubbed my face against a cool pole that was in the shade. And by the way, it felt wonderful. This afternoon, I am going to take full and complete advantage of the heat and throw a backyard dance party. Maybe I’ll invite the really weird recluse tenant in our backyard. She works at the lace museum and spends her weekends going to Renaissance fairs and jousting in actual chainmail on actual horses. And when you look up “awkward” in the dictionary, a picture of her comes up. She seems to not really participate in the normal hobbies people in society participate in. What’s the morale? I don’t know. Maybe rub a pole to cool down. Anyway, that’s the end I suppose.

Sharpclaw (Chapter One)

Chapter One

Sharpclaw soared through the sky. Finally, free, he thought. Sharpclaw looked behind him at the army chasing him. Sharpclaw flapped furiously, and the landscape blurred. Forests with tall pine trees, mountains with tall peaks, and deserts with prickly cacti and large blue pools whirled by until he reached the sea. The world swam before his eyes and soon, out of sheer exhaustion, he passed out.

Sharpclaw woke to the crackling of a fire. Sharpclaw, with his dark blue scales and dark, unforgiving gray eyes, tried to sit up, but someone said in a fresh but dark voice:

“Do not try. You are very tired and on the verge of death. I will bring you back in due time but for now, you need rest.”

Sharpclaw closed his eyes, and the human spooned some soup into his mouth. It was delicious, the perfect combination of buttery and salty with chunks of vegetables and meat. Then he felt horrible, like someone was sticking a red hot needle into his back. Then he felt it on his tail, on his wing, and in his neck. Sharpclaw thrashed and kicked, but it did nothing. Finally the pain stopped, and Sharpclaw stopped kicking. Everything hurt, but it wasn’t as bad as before. Sharpclaw wondered what was happening to him, but he was too tired and closed his eyes. The next day, Sharpclaw awoke to someone petting him.

“Brave one. You escaped the King Albitroix’s wrath. I’m proud of you,” said the person, who now Sharpclaw could identify as a young boy with black hair and freckles that lightly dotted his face.

Sharpclaw closed his eyes as the human commented, “You are Sharpclaw, aren’t you.”

Sharpclaw replied without speaking, by telepathy. ‘Yes, little one, I am Sharpclaw. That is obvious, but who are you?

‘My name is Darius. I am honored to meet you. How did you escape, and what will you do now?’ asked Darius.

‘I will destroy everything the Albitroix owns and loves. I will kill all his men, and I will pillage every village in the entire kingdom of Endview who are all loyal to the tyrant of a king that we have,’ Sharpclaw ranted.

‘Yes. I agree. Will you join me to defeat the king?’ asked Darius.

Yes, on one condition: I kill the king,’ replied Sharpclaw.

I will talk to Shadowcourt about it,’ Darius told Sharpclaw.

‘Shadowcourt? You mean the mythic clan that is hidden from everyone?’ asked Sharpclaw, surprised.

Why yes, how did you know?’ questioned Darius.

I heard my, ugh, master the king talking about finding and destroying Shadowcourt,’ Sharpclaw answered.

Yes, if you would like to come to Shadowcourt in less than three weeks, I suggest we start now,’ suggested Darius. The sun warmed his face and reflected of Sharpclaw’s body. The birds tweeted.

Sharpclaw tested his body. His wings rose up and down, and his legs made circles in the sand. It felt surprisingly good. Sharpclaw had expected to feel sore, but he felt like he could fly around a mountain.

Let’s go. Climb onto my back,’ Sharpclaw ordered.

Darius climbed onto Sharpclaw’s back and gripped the curved spikes that protruded from his back. Then Darius leaped onto Sharpclaw’s scales, where the saddle would be if Sharpclaw had one, and Sharpclaw took a running leap, stretching his wings out wide. The wind caught at his wings, and Sharpclaw began his ascent. It tore at Sharpclaw’s wings as he fought to fly higher. Darius gripped Sharpclaw’s scales, and his face turned white. Sharpclaw flew faster and faster, then dove down through the forest, leaving Darius’s stomach far behind. And his guts. Sharpclaw weaved between the pine trees that dotted the forest floor. Then, Sharpclaw lunged at a rather plump chicken who was resting on the ground and raced towards it before he caught it in his mouth. After that, Sharpclaw rose out of the forest..

That’s what real fun looks like,’ declared Sharpclaw as he launched himself higher.

Cluck cluck cluck,” clucked the chicken, terrified at the big flying thing that had appeared in its life.

Sharpclaw landed at an incredible speed, but the landing was completely smooth. Darius fell off Sharpclaw’s back and ran to the bushes where Sharpclaw heard some pretty disturbing noises that consisted of “Ugh,” “Blech,” and things like that. 

Little one, was that too much fun?’ Sharpclaw questioned.

“Blech!” replied Darius.

Wow, Sharpclaw thought. Darius really does not look good. Maybe I should help. Sharpclaw was astonished at how he was thinking. Just yesterday, he would have thought: Eww. Gross, get away from that disgusting creep. But now Sharpclaw wanted to help. Sharpclaw arranged stones in a circle.

Cluck cluck cluck!” the chicken clucked.

Sharpclaw silenced the chicken once and for all by breathing fire. That singed the feathers off the chicken, and the chicken died a fast death. Sad but delicious. Then, Sharpclaw gathered some leaves and made a place for Darius to sit himself. Then, Sharpclaw sent a message with his mind to Darius:

‘Come, little human, sit down and eat. You must be starving. I will go and hunt for myself.’

With that Sharpclaw launched himself into the air and sped off. Darius groaned.


Word from the author

People say I’m plagiarizing because there’s already a book about this, so I did some research. Apparently there is. But I continue writing this because it’s not plagiarizing if you do it without knowing you are, so for those of you who would like to sue and make me pay a lot of money, not happening, because now I’ve given credit so, yeah… HAHA!

-Kai Tschopp (aka the author)


Far, far out in the South Pole howling winds could be heard. The snow blizzard blocked a beautiful structure composed of stone bricks, white glass pane, and quartz. Inside, even louder then the wind, howling laughter could be heard… echoing past every hallway in the entire building.

“MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! shouted a figure from his throne.

The figure looked surprisingly like Santa, but he wore all blue.

“I will bomb the North Pole! My twin brother will die, and all the children in the entire world will be sad. And while they’re so sad, I will take over the world!!!

Chapter One: Nuke!!

Luke Marrow’s head banged on the floor.

“Ow… that hurt,” Luke said absentmindedly.

He stood up from the floor and sat on his bed. Suddenly, a message blared from the intercom at Santa’s secret base at the North Pole:

Attention, all elves report to Santa’s throne room!

Luke paled.

“Oh, no I need to get to the throne room now!”

Luke raced down the hall, zigzagged across the stairs, and finally ended up in the spacious throne room alongside hundreds of other elves. Luke looked over at Santa. His gray eyes seemed so sad, and his long, long beard drooped. Sure, he was 2,000 years old, but he always seemed so… upbeat, but today not so much.

Santa raised his wrinkled hand for attention: “My fellow elves, I have an announcement to make! My evil twin (who is nothing like me!) is planning to nuke the North Pole!” Santa exclaimed.

Several elves gasped. Three or four elves even fainted.

“Yes, he is! And he is launching the nuke now!”

He snapped his fingers, and a projector projected an image of someone that looked exactly like Santa but was wearing all blue! Elves gasped. Wearing blue was just about as bad as swearing in front of a three-year-old to the elves. The man in the screen turned around and laughed maniacally as he pressed a red button on his control panel and smoke rose around the screen.

“Mwaahahahahahahahahahaha!” the blue man yelled.

“The Drakon nuke will destroy the North Pole, and I will get my brother back for accidentally misplacing my teddy bear and sending it to someone across the world!”

Santa turned red. The elves turned their eyes to Santa.

“Hehe… continue elves… I didn’t do that… Yes I did… ” Santa added quietly.

Luke turned back to the screen. So did the other elves. Smoke was still rising from the nuke. Suddenly a voice appeared from the nuke: “Countdown for Drakon nuke model #3459 in T-minus: Ten… Nine… Eight… Seven… Six… Five… Four… Three… Two… One… Blastoff!

Blue quickly took cover and watched in awe as the nuke slowly raised in the air.

“In ten hours exactly the nuke will strike the North Pole and blow up everything!” Santa announced.

“And say thank you to Andrew the spy who hijacked the camera viewing this from the South Pole. Now… run as fast as your butts can carry you!” screamed Santa.

Several elves screamed. Some cried. Another even begged for mercy. Luke felt the blood drain out of his face. Blue could not do this to the North Pole. Luke would not allow it. But Luke felt helpless to do anything. It’s not like he could just storm the South Pole and demand that Blue surrendered. The South Pole was built like a fortress. He couldn’t do that… Could he?

While Luke was trapped in the tornado of his own thoughts, his home that he had been born in was being abandoned… No! Luke couldn’t let this happen! He had to stop Blue! Suddenly, someone tapped his shoulder.

“Hey, I know it’s hard, but you have to leave. Otherwise you’ll get destroyed alongside the North Pole. You can’t do this” pleaded Luke’s friend, Kat.

“Please… ” whispered Kat.

Luke shook himself and awakened himself out of his trance.

“You’re right. We can’t let Blue do this… ” said Luke to Kat.

“But… I don’t know how we are supposed to get to him,” continued Luke.

I know! We could borrow the planes that Santa uses!” exclaimed Kat.

“Great idea, Kat!” exclaimed Luke.

“To the artillery!” shouted Kat.

“And… let’s get out of here before we’re nuked!” replied Luke unenthusiastically.

“Yeah… ” whispered Kat.

Luke and Kat stormed out of the room, raced down the halls, and followed the signs pointing to the artillery. One of the signs read:

To the artillery guns, bombs, planes, retired reindeer, and rockets. Please be responsible with tools!

(Sidenote from author) Hold on a minute. You thought Santa still rode reindeers? This, my friend, is the 21st century and people do not ride reindeers. They ride jets, cars, planes, and Santa’s personal favorite, the Boeing 777. This is the latest fashion, and it will be for quite a while. Thank you, and now keep reading your book. Now. Please. Thank you.

“We will… ” Luke said to one of the signs sarcastically.

Finally, after what seemed like forever to Kat and Luke, they arrived at the artillery. They raced around old reindeer slowly walking for their lives, the newest model of a gun, and even an old cannons, but they ignored all that stuff. It seemed that a lot of elves had the same idea as Luke and Kat and had snatched up the jets, airplanes, and Boeing 777’s before they could. They tried to hitch a ride with other elves, but they didn’t exactly seem in the “Christmas spirit.” Finally, the only thing left was an old helicopter.

“Let’s go!” yelled Kat.

They jumped into the helicopter and Luke pressed the ON button. The blades started whirring. They spun into the air.

“Do you by any chance know how to fly a helicopter?” Luke asked.

Chapter Two: To Antartica!

Kat stared at Luke.

What? You don’t know how to fly a helicopter?” screamed Kat.

I thought you said jump in!” retorted Luke.

But you pressed the button!” screamed Kat.

So?” asked Luke.

There was no time for arguing, and they both knew it, so they just faced the controls. It seemed pretty simple. There were a few buttons with titles like: Eject, Guns, ON/OFF, and things like that. There was a lever that was labeled: Altitude. And lastly, there was a joystick labeled: Steering. The controls seemed simple enough, so Kat and Luke sat down in the two seats. Luke took the steering joystick, and Kat had the altitude lever. Kat looked out of the window and suddenly pulled the lever up as hard as she could. Luke felt as if his stomach had fallen out of his body one hundred feet below.

“What was that for?” asked Luke.

“There was a mountain that we were about to crash into!” explained Kat.

Sure enough, when Luke looked down, he saw a snow-capped mountain just twenty feet below them.

“If this is what our ride is gonna be like, I’d have stayed at Santa’s place!” said Luke, his face green.

“Errrrrr… in that case if I was you… ” said Kat.

And that was what the ride was like all the way down to the South Pole (not including stops at Greenland, Alaska, Canada, San Francisco, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Chile, and not to mention avoiding being spotted by humans). At last, one cold, snowy day, Luke spotted a cold, snowy mountain… They had arrived at the South Pole.

“We have to ditch the helicopter now, or Blue’s forces will spot us!” said Luke.

“I heard that Blue sends troops out to alert him if there is an invasion, so that forces people to travel in small groups to avoid being caught. And even then, they can easily be wiped out in his fortress if they manage to somehow avoid being caught.”

“Oh boy,” said Kat, unenthusiastically.

Kat slowly cranked the Altitude lever downwards, and the helicopter slowly descended. Luke steered in a circle, and so the landing wasn’t too bad, but Luke and Kat were still terrible pilots.

“Ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow ow… ow,” wailed Luke.

“You are a terrible pilot, Luke,” replied Kat, holding her shoulder.

“Oh, let’s just get on with it!” retorted Luke.

So, Luke and Kat wandered and wandered around in hopes of finding the fortress, staring at the empty whiteness that looked like an empty canvas. They suddenly came across some elves dressed entirely in blue, marching south.

One elf said, “Wow, I can’t wait to pull off my mittens and sit by the fire and have a nice warm cup of hot chocolate.”

Kat and Luke looked at each other. They had just found their ticket to Blue’s fortress…

Chapter Three: Into the Fortress

Luke and Kat slowly followed the marching troop that they hoped was leading them in the direction of Blue’s fortress.

“We can’t keep following the troop. They’ll spot us. We need to steal their clothes and be disguised as them!” said Luke quietly.

Are you kidding me?” whisper-screamed Kat.

“Is it a good idea to take off your clothes in Antarctica?” she continued.

“Well, we’ll just put them over our clothes. Happy?” replied Luke, a little miffed.

So Kat and Luke ran up to a soldier elf quickly and quietly, so as to not be seen or heard, and tackled one soldier while holding his mouth shut. The soldier fell on the ground with a thump.

“Sorry, this might be embarrassing,” Kat told the soldier, and he let out a shriek when he realized what was happening.

Luckily, no one heard. Then, they started working. The soldier screamed to much, so they stuffed snow in his mouth. Since elves had been given the gift of heat from the snow lords (let’s not go into elf religion, here) they could not freeze to death. Elves only wore clothes so that they wouldn’t be naked.

“Bye, bye,” whispered Luke.

Then, they repeated the process. Soon, the rest of the troop was about 200 meters ahead.

“We’ve got to catch up to them,” Kat told Luke.

“Yeah,” agreed Luke.

They left the two naked (but warm) elves buried in the snow and hurried after the elven troop.

Luke started gracefully running to catch up with the troop while Kat started sprinting full out. The snow made a crunch-crunch sound when they stomped in it. They ran and ran and ran until they finally caught up.

“Are you excited to have hot chocolate, Robert?” asked one hulking elf while looking in Luke’s direction.

For a second, Luke thought, Who is Robert? Then, he looked at the way the bulky elf was looking at him and almost said, “Ummm, am I Robert?” But, Luke came to the conclusion that he was Robert and said, “Um, yeah totally.”

Kat shot Luke a dirty look that said, If we get caught, it will be all your fault.

Luke tried again. “Definitely, I’m really excited to have that hot chocolate,” Luke said excitedly and tried to hide the fact that he didn’t know what hot chocolate was.

“Good, so am I,” the elf said.

The other elves nodded in agreement.

As Luke and Kat walked toward the palace, they were both thinking different things. Kat was thinking, I hope Luke’s not gonna be an idiot and give us away. And Luke was thinking, Did I just give us away?

They were both startled when there was suddenly shouting

“Hooray for hot chocolate! We are here!” one elf shouted.

“Yay,” another elf shouted.

“Ummm… ” said Luke quietly.

“Well, let’s go get some hot chocolate!” shouted a small elf that had a very loud voice.

“Yay!” everyone said, except for Luke and Kat.

As they stormed into the palace, someone declared that they were as loud as rioting monkeys screaming for bananas. Kat thought about what they were doing. Suddenly, with a shock, Kat realized the ugly truth… They didn’t have an actual plan beyond getting in the palace. Kat walked up to Luke.

“We have a problem.”

“What? Nothing could be wrong while you’re drinking hot chocolate. This is as good as… as… ummm… a police officer!” Luke exclaimed.

Kat broke the bad news.

“We don’t have a plan,” she said.

As this registered in Luke’s pea-sized brain, Kat sat down and tried the hot chocolate.

“So… that’s bad?” asked Luke, puzzled.

Yes!” whispered-screamed Kat, exasperated.

“Oh,” said Luke sounding very depressed.

“So here is my plan,” said Kat, pulling out a piece of paper.

First, she drew a stick figure and labled it Blue. Then, she drew two people with a dotted line behind them. First, they walked into a room and grabbed what seemed to be a big bomb. Then, they snuck around guards and into Blue’s throne room. The stick figures threw the bomb at Blue. And there wasn’t a picture for that, but you can just imagine what happens next…

“Perfect,” said Luke. “Now, just try some of this hot chocolate!”

Kat sipped the hot chocolate.

“Wow, this is good,” Kat exclaimed.

The two adventurers were so busy sipping their hot chocolate that they didn’t notice…

(Ahem, hi, guys! Kai here.) This is the part in a story every good writer has to have. A twist. The part of the story where the reader thinks, Oh, they’re going to do it! And then the writer adds something just to annoy you. If you noticed the words “the two adventurers were so busy sipping their hot chocolate that they didn’t notice… ” then you could have maybe predicted this. Now I can annoy you. Yay.

… two elves reading their paper. Then, they looked up. Rage filled the elves’ faces, but they could not act erratically. The two elves had to play this smart. The two elves walked up to the elf guard on duty and whispered into his ear. They quickly spread the message in this manner. So then, just as Kat put her mug down, the guards threw a bag over Luke and Kat’s chocolate covered faces.

Chapter Four: Bombs

Luke woke up in a cold, damp room. What happened? Luke wondered. Then, as if his wish had been answered, a guard came up to him.

“Trying to bomb Master Blue, eh?” the elf asked in a mid-westernly sounding gruff voice. “That ain’t gonna get ya anywhere. Master Blue has got at least 15 soldiers surrounding him at all times. Dat guy has got some serious safety problems.”

“Yeah, I guess… ” said Luke quietly.

“Hey, tell you what, you seem like a good lad. If ya promise not to do anything bad, I will think ‘bout giving you the keys. Eh?”

“Um… yeah, okay” Luke said, even though he felt bad lying.

“Good,” the guard said and handed him the keys.

Luke opened his cell and in a flourish, stood up and looked around. The dungeons were miserable, and he looked at the cells next to him. They were all empty and wet except for one. And it housed Kat. Luke quickly opened the lock. It opened with a satisfying click.

“Kat, Kat, can you hear me? Kat wake up!” Luke said softly.

“Hi, Luke,” said Kat.

“Listen, I have the keys. We have to get out of here right now!” Luke said in a commanding but nice tone that made him sound really dumb.

“Really?” Kat said in a voice that made her sound slightly insane.

“Yes, really, now! We have to go!” Luke whispered-not-whispered.

“Okay, okay fine. Wait — you’re completely right. We have to go now!”

The two friends sprinted out of the prison by following signs that were placed conveniently all around, leading up some stairs to a circular room. There were five doorways leading to a cafeteria, a lobby, an armory, barracks, and a nuke bunker. Luke chose the door with a sign marked armory. He and Kat raced down the hallway and around a corner when Luke’s eyes met the most beautiful sight ever. The armory. It was filled to the brim with tanks, the latest technology guns, fighter jets, bombs, and best of all, nuclear bombs. If you wanted a weapon of mass destruction, this was the place in the palace to find it.

“Hey, Kat, can you come over here and help me pick a bomb?” Luke asked.

“Sure, Luke. We could use grenades because we can carry lots of them and throw them easily, but we could also try to sneak in a bomb for the full effect and a big boom. We could also try small bombs which we could arrange into a pyramid for the fun of it.”

“Good idea, Kat, let’s try the big bomb. Let’s try to find one with a big timer that says fancy things like: you will die in approximately T-minus 2:00.000 minutes. Beep, beep, beep. That would be cool,” exclaimed Luke.

“Sounds good to me!” agreed Kat.

And so our two unlikely heroes went on a mission to find a bomb. Luke was looking around for a bomb when he noticed the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. The biggest, scariest, and most awesome bomb he had ever seen.

Luke felt himself tearing up just by looking at the bomb and then regained his senses and yelled, “Kat, come over here and look at this bomb I just found!”

Kat immediately ran over to the bomb, and she too felt in awe at the greatness of the bomb.

“This is the one! We need to do this with this bomb. It’s sort of an inner feeling. Like we absolutely have to do this,” announced Kat earnestly.

“Yes, I agree. You should feel honored to be in this godly presence,” replied Luke.

“Now, to destroying Blue,” Kat said.

The two adventurers lifted the bomb and started staggering out of the room. Kat and Luke finally lifted it out of the room. They set it down, exhausted, and rested their hands on their knees and panted.

“That pant — was pant — good. Keep pant — Going pant,” panted Luke.

“Yes pant — ” agreed Kat.

The two adventurers then put their hands under the bomb and lifted and lifted, and slowly the bomb lifted. Then, the two adventurers staggered down the hallway and finally to the throne room door, which was filled to the brim with at least twenty tons of rubies, diamonds, emeralds, gold, silver, copper, piles of hundies and most importantly, Blue himself.

They shoved the bomb through the door, then, the two dove headfirst under a giant pile of dollar bills. If you were there, you might have heard a slight beep, beep as our heroes had preset the bomb. Then, you might have heard the bomb speak its message of doom, but it was muffled by the dollar bills. But Blue was too distracted playing with his riches and didn’t hear.

“All is good — wait, how are we going to get out of here in time?” exclaimed Kat.

At that very moment, there was a loud crash and a boom, and Luke and Kat heard, “Like this — Ho ho ho!” someone said in a familiar voice.

“Santa!” Luke said.

“Hop in!” Santa replied.

“You horrible traitor! You freak!” Blue shouted.

Luke and Kat hopped into the sleigh, and they sped off. Everything whizzed past and Luke realized suddenly, hey, this is how Santa delivers all those presents.

“Wait, are those your reindeer? I thought they didn’t fly!” Kat asked, startled.

“Oh, they do. They just like to rest and be lazy,” Santa said in a teasing voice.

So this is how our two heroes found themselves speeding along in Santa’s secret sleigh at top speed. In less than an hour, the party were gliding over the North Pole over a dark, jaggedy mountain.

“Wait, wasn’t this place wrecked?” Luke asked.

“It was, but it so happens that I too have a little bit of magic,” Santa replied.

The sleigh came down towards a jet black strip of concrete… the landing strip! The sleigh slowly lowered down, and Luke and Kat covered their heads and tucked into a ball around their knees. This was going to be a rough landing. Boom. The sleigh crashed to the ground with a sickening crash. The reindeer took off running, pulling the sleigh and going slower and slower until they finally arrived at the foot of a mountain. Most people thought that this mountain was just a mountain, but in reality, it was the secret entrance to Fort S or Fort Santa. The Fort could only be accessed by elves whom Santa trusted. Santa pulled a garage door opener out of his pocket and pressed it.

“Activating sequence open door. Do you want to do this?” a hidden speaker in the button asked.

“Yes,” Santa said, enunciating clearly.

The mountain then rumbled as a part of the cavern door pulled in and put to the side by powerful pistons. The party sleighed through. They passed hallways, displaying monitors, art, and technology that neither Luke nor Kat had ever even heard of. Then they entered a large room and finally slid to a stop.

Suddenly, there were elves jumping out from behind furniture and at the top of their lungs yelled, “Surprise!

There were various shouts of “We love you!”, “Yay!”, and “Thank you for stopping Blue!” It was a surprise party. Kat and Luke had never felt so overjoyed. They were surrounded by the elves they loved, who were all cheering their little elven hearts out for them. It was the best feeling in the world.

Now, my reader, my job as a writer is done. I have finished the book. You now know the story of Luke, Kat, Santa, and Blue. It was a joy writing for you all, and I want to thank you for reading this book. Thank you. Now I must go. I really never wanted to say these words, but:

The End

Journey to the Heavens

Storm Search

My eyes flew open as the door swung open. My mom was standing in the doorway, her eyes wild. Outside, rain poured out from the bleak night sky.

“What happened?” I asked.

“The rain was just super cold,” she muttered, but I knew she was lying. I made a silent decision to sneak outside afterwards. “Go to sleep, India Hollyblade,” she added.

I trudged to my bed, but as soon as my mother began to snore, I crept outside after putting on a long sleeved navy blue dress with thick tights. I wore a long crimson coat with white faux fur and tied my chocolate brown hair into a bun before I slung a bag of emergency tools that my mother gave me. Then I created a forcefield and ran outside, whistling for Windra, my giant white wolf. I hopped onto her back, and we raced around the garden, looking for anything that might have spooked my mom. Then I saw the light.

Volcano Light

It was silvery and soft, and at first I thought the light was just a trick of the moonlight, but then I realized the moon was hidden behind the clouds. I urged Windra to go forward, and as we climbed the hill, I noticed that the light was coming from the dormant volcano. Could the volcano possibly be erupting? I thought. Nah, volcanos don’t have silver lava, do they? As soon as Windra and I reached the volcano, I ran up to it and balanced on the rim of the volcano. I had done this many times, but it still made me nervous to know that a slight misstep could get me into an even more dangerous position. I realized that a swirling light had appeared inside the volcano. Before I could think about what I was seeing and actually get it into my head that this wasn’t a dream, the moon broke free of the clouds, and the silver light grew brighter, making the earlier light seem dim in comparison. I was so busy staring in awe at the breathtaking sight that I did not notice that the wind was picking up up until it was too late. A strong gust of wind hit me hard, and I started to topple over. Windra tried to grab me, but my weight made her lose balance, and we both fell into the silver light, the wolf, howling, and me, screaming as the silver light engulfed us.

The Test Of The Sleeping Moon

I was still screaming when I realized that first, I wasn’t burning up or dying or anything horrible like that, and second, I could breathe and everything felt peaceful and I felt so relaxed as the light turned dark and my eyelids started to close… Slurp!!! My eyes shot open as I felt the horrible sensation and wetness of wolf saliva. Blinding light hit me like someone had shone a flashlight in my eyes. Then I realized we were sitting on a cloud.

Then a voice said, “Congratulations! You have passed the test of the Sleeping Moon!”

An old wizardly man who looked blurry in the mist surrounding him pointed to snoring people that had appeared around us.


“The Test of the Sleeping Moon is what people go through when they enter Faunaree, our world. Hostiles are sent to the land of nightmares forever, which is all the way north. Here is a map of where Twilight Hotel is, and see you later!” the old guy (whom I had named Mr. Tedious) said. “If you fail the Test of The Sleeping Moon, which you didn’t, you are considered a Hostile.”

Now that I could see him more clearly, I knew he had stunning blue eyes, a silvery robe, and white hair that covered his face almost entirely. Then I sank through the clouds.

Getting To The Hotel

As I landed softly on the ground with Windra, I contemplated the map. It showed a desert, and after a while I spotted the hills of sand for real. I walked through the desert for days, then weeks then months, until I couldn’t keep track of time. Just as I let go of my last hold on reality, there were two pathways, one going downhill and one going up. I decided to go up because I loved sliding down hills, so I hopped onto Windra and skidded down the hill. Suddenly we were in the middle of swirling light, and everything was soft and like a feather, like I was in a flock of doves until it dissipated so that I could see a marvelous castle that looked like an abandoned royal palace. Lightning struck the mountains in the distance, and the windows glowed an eerie purple-pink. Obviously I took a photo (by the way, it was in my emergency bag, in case you were wondering) as I ran down the walkway and knocked. No one answered, so I knocked again. Still, no one answered. Impatient, I opened the door that led to what changed not only my life and future, but almost everyone else’s.

Twilight Hotel (with little comments from the author)

Now, first, I must remind you that I was a young and rather impulsive child at this age. For the story’s sake, do not treat the me in this book as you would treat me if my older and wiser self were making these decisions. What’s that you say? Oh, right, the story. On we go! Wait, what?! There’s barely enough room for me to finish my little comments! The story starts… now! Oh, and if you want the story in wolf language, that can be arranged.*

*Bark howl woof arf howl! Bark arf bark woof arf howl!

Twilight Hotel

(Joyful to say, and also hopefully joyful for you readers, no more serious chapter titles after this.)

Like I said, I had opened the door and was stepping in when I remembered my manners.

“Sorry for trespassing! I hope you will forgive me, and I am returning this map to you, or at least I assume this is yours,” I said (very politely). Windra barked, ruining my charming manner. I dropped the map, and immediately I fell face first into a fluffy bed. “Huh,” I said, and then fell asleep.

In Which I Meet My Friend The Puppy

As soon as I woke up, I surveyed my surroundings. I was in a room full of snow. Strangely, it wasn’t cold at all! In fact, the snow was pretty warm. I stepped in hesitantly, and 45 minutes later, when a puppy stepped in, she found me building a giant snowman that was nine feet and nine inches tall. (We checked.)

“Hello?” she asked. “I am Mocha, your new transportation ride.”

I looked at her, threw a snowball at Windra, then studied her some more. “But you’re smaller than a chair!” I exclaimed, offended.

Who would dare send me a tiny little puppy and pretend that I was smaller than that.

“True,” Mocha said. “But I can grow.”

Then the world (or at least everything within my eyesight) grew big and furry and smelled like dog fur.

In Which I Eat Some Chicken

Aaaahhhh!!!” I yelled as Mocha flung Windra and I onto her back and leaped out the window.

We’re gonna dii-ie, we’re gonna dii-ie! a singsong voice chanted in my head. As we hit the ground, we dissolved into millions of tiny particles and reformed on top of Mr. Tedious’ head. As Mr. Tedious sank through the cloud, yelling at the top of his lungs, we bounced upwards, only because Mr. Tedious has a rather bouncy head. As I grabbed a piece of delicious chicken, I felt a little bad for Mr. Tedious.

“Oops,” said Mocha.

In Which I Eat (And Describe) Chicken and Go to a Palace

As we flapped towards the portal, I munched on the chicken. It was salty and juicy, but a little chewy, too, like how a chicken born in fire would taste: A little crispy on the outside, but soft and buttery on the inside. I was just stuffing the last of the fire chicken in my mouth when we arrived in a palace.

In Which I Meet My Mom

I entered the palace hesitantly, one foot at a time, only me, just me. I had tried to get Windra to come, but the scary guards wouldn’t allow the wolf. My footsteps echoed along the hallway, and Mocha had disappeared to wherever giant dogs spent their free time. I walked at first, but then wonderful aromas wafted down from wherever the hallway led to, and I began to run. Even though I had just had the fire chicken, my stomach still growled. Suddenly, I ran into my mom.

In Which I Eat Some Lunch

“Mom?” I asked, unable to believe it.

“I know, sweetie,” my mom said. “But let’s have lunch first.” She took a sip of the tea.

Why didn’t you tell me about this place; it is so awesome — oh,” I shouted at first, but then I took a sip of the tea. It was like drinking liquid sugar, but with a hint of a creamy spice. It was sticky, yet it slid on my tongue, and soon, my mind began to clear. “Let’s eat first,” I agreed.

A chicken scrambled towards me, balancing a tray of what looked like leafy green vegetables on his head. I took one of the leaves, nibbled on the edge, and immediately my mind exploded. It tasted like someone sprinkled wasabi on it and then poured chocolate milk on the leaf. Brown speckles on the leaf added creamy, salty, bursts that exploded in my mouth.

“Now, by all means, let us talk!” my mom said.

A Face-To-Face Chat

“I knew of this world, but I didn’t tell you because this world would fry a lesser brain like the dragon eggs over there.” She nodded at some purplish-black eggs that I hadn’t seen before. “Obviously I underestimated you. We will be living here from now on.”

“Yeah, okay,” I said. “Can we eat now?”

“Of course!” my mom said, obviously relieved to be freed of the awkward conversation.

In Which I Get Three Awesome Tools and Eat Some More.

I wolfed down two more leaves and grabbed a sparkly brown square from a box labeled Unicorn Creamtoys. I bit into it and blinked. The creamtoy melted in my mouth, but then it reformed back into a square, like it was trying to last as long as it could. I felt a ball pop out of my mouth, and then it filled with a sweet taste that my mouth wanted to dispose of. I spat it out, and it self-cleaned itself. Out of it popped out three things: a belt, a glowing rod, and a bunch of glowing sticks. A voice in my head (because of the creamtoy) said, The belt is a magical thing that allows you to pluck anything you want from its pockets. The rod is stunner that is safer than an electric staff. You can use it to charge the glow-throwers. After that, as I fingered my stuff, I knew this story would have a happily-ever-after.

By The Way

Thank you! Thank you! I don’t have much time, but I just want to say how much I thank India’s mother, Hazel Hollyblade, for cooperating. (Of course, she insisted on her own story, but yeah.)

The Rise of the Evil Enchilada Empire

Once there was an enchilada named Chicken. By the way, his middle name was Pot, and his last name was Pie. He was the meanest enchilada in Enchilada Estate. One day he was walking in the woods and teasing a leaf (that’s what he does to be mean) when he got struck by lightning, and that made him meaner, so he was now Meanachilada. He demanded that he should be Emperilada.

So, Nationwide said, “Yes,” so it was a new rise Eviladas.

And they wanted revenge on leafmanity.

So that was how World War II started.


Chapter One

I am Storm, a lone she-wolf. I am traveling with my much younger brother, Cloud. Before we talk about anything, let me tell you my backstory.

“Go to sleep, darling,” Lola, my mother, whispered.

“I can’t,” I protested.

“Your brothers can. And you’re much older than them. If they can sleep, so can you,” Lola whispered again.

“Tell me about dad before I do,” I pleaded.

Lola sighed, giving in. “Doobie was a brave wolf. I met him when he was hunting for our pack… ”

“Run! Run! Cloud, run! Storm, where’s Sticks?” Lola yelled.

I woke up with a start. Why was she yelling? Then I saw the golden-red branches that radiated heat. Then I recalled something from Lola’s stories. Fire. The thing that had killed my father, Doobie.

“Run,” Lola repeated.

Then we heard a voice: “Mommy, Mommy, help!”

Then that gray stuff that floated around the sky — smoke, I recalled — cleared, and I saw my brown-gray younger brother who supposingly looked like Doobie.

“Help!” Sticks called, a panicked look on his face.

Lola glanced at me and whispered, “Find Cloud, then run. Please.”

I couldn’t do anything but nod. I ran to the other side of the large cave, which was filled with sickly, small-looking trees that were already catching flames. It was where our pack used to hunt. But now the fire will kill all the prey, probably the hunters, too.

Anyway, as soon as I found my white-furred brother, Cloud, I grabbed him by his neck fur and, against my mother’s will, turned to find her. At last, I saw her. Sticks was in her jaws, and she was trying to run past those evil flickering red branches.

“Leave!” she yelled.

I shook my head. No way was I going to leave her! I took a running leap towards her, trying to push her away from the flames, but it was too late. A large birch tree, perhaps larger than the rest, was staggering down as flames burned away at its roots. The fallen tree landed in front of my mother, startling the somewhat elderly Lola. The grayish-white she-wolf scrambled back, trying to get away from the flames, but she was surrounded.

“Mother! Sticks!” I yelled.

Cloud was trembling by now. I curled my tail around his eyes, which were navy-blue in color, like staring out at a lake at the darkest time of night, so he couldn’t see our mother, well, die. And here I was, unable to help my own family without killing myself.

“Go,” Lola whispered. And I did, though I made the mistake of looking back. The last time I saw my mother was her gazing at me lovingly, with Sticks perched on her head, tiny brown paws on Lola’s ears, grabbing on in any way he could.

That was the last time I saw any of my pack, unless you count Cloud as a pack, but I don’t, so… Oh, and FYI, I don’t react well to pity, so please don’t sympathize with me. That just makes it worse.

Chapter Two

So, now that you know my backstory, it’s best if you know my future — or at least, the future I want. And judging from my luck, this isn’t going to happen. Basically, Lola, Sticks, and the rest of my pack are supposed to be fire-resistant,  then me and Cloud find them, and we all live happily ever after. Like that’s going to happen.

“Hey, Stormy!” That’s Cloud, calling to me. No, my name is not Stormy. It’s Storm. He just adds a “y” to annoy me.

“Yes?” I said.

“I have a brilliant idea!” I was about to say that his version of “brilliant” was about as brilliant as a snail’s brain, but then he said, “Let’s join or create a pack!” and I just stared at him, jaw hanging open that it was even possible for such an annoying, not-so-brilliant wolf to say something so brilliant. Cloud took my mouth’s floor-magnetizing as a bad sign and mumbled, “I mean, we’re just so lonely right now, and I can’t even hunt yet. I mean, your okay, but — ”

He trailed off, and I surprised him and myself by saying, “Cloud, that’s brilliant. Three howls for my brilliant, brilliant brother!”

We did howl, but way more than three times. It’s a wolf habit, howling. I don’t know why, but it just feels… right.

Anyways, that night, as I curled up with Cloud in our den, I wondered, I know getting a pack is a good idea, but is that possible?

So, I said something about my den, so I’m getting the feeling I need to describe the appearance. It’s this small cave with a low, narrow entrance made of thick pure black stone. Tall spruce trees, which my brother calls “Spricey trees,” were littered above our cave, like several stars fell down and became trees. One of those spruce trees must have fallen over, because long branches of dark green hid our cave from sight, like a warning: Do not enter, or us leaves will slive you into shreds and leave your remains so a vulture can eat you.

Yeah, okay, maybe that warning was a bit intense, but whatever. That is what it looked like.

I remembered a brief dream about Cloud and Sticks and I running in the snow, as I taught them how to hunt snow hares before I woke up.

“Cloud,” I yawned once I nudged my brother away, “What you said yesterday, about getting a pack, I was considering it last night.”

“And?” the white wolf pup asked, shaking the sleep from his eyes in a cute-ish way.

I responded with an, “It’s okay,” but Cloud — annoyingly– stared at me with those big, water-during-the-middle-of-the-night eyes, as if he was was repeating the question “And?”

I sighed. Wolf pups tend to have more control over us older wolves, with pure adorability, and it’s so tempting to just say yes, accept anything those pups want to do.

“It’s an idea we can try out, okay? I mean, if we join a pack we don’t like, we can always leave, right? But let’s go get some wolfish friends tomorrow, and play in the mud today, ‘kay? Yes? Good,” I said, just to get his mind of the topic so I could think about it in solitude.

I was right. Cloud’s mind floated away from packs and stuff like a, well, like a cloud.

I splashed around in the mud with Cloud for a bit, changing my fur from silvery-gray, like the moon, to deep, rich brown. Meanwhile, I was thinking, on one paw, Cloud’s right, and we’d be safer in a pack. But on the other paw, wouldn’t taking a pack mean I would be saying that I was done with Lola and my former pack? Ugh, Storm, stop making this decision harder for yourself.

But in the end, I didn’t really make the decision. It turns out it was someone else made the decision for me. He had cornered us while we were walking back to our den.

“Why, hello,” he hissed. “I heard you were looking for a pack. So, would you like to join mine?”

Chapter Three

“Who are you?” I howled, curling my tail protectively around Cloud. The other wolf grinned in amusement at my anger.

I studied him. The wolf looked like an ordinary brown wolf. He was the color of mud, like what we had just rolled in (I double-checked to make sure it was his actual fur color, instead of being mud-covered). He had broad shoulders and his leg muscles — I wasn’t sure I wanted to face those. He had long, sharp, wickedly curved claws that glinted almost as dangerously as his eyes. His eyes, speaking of, were a beady, malicious black balls that glinted with greed. Deep red-pink scars were scattered among his brown pelt. Hmm. I wasn’t sure I should trust this wolf.

“Why, I’m Claw, leader of a pack of wolves. And don’t be scared of me. I only fight to protect my pack.” The strange wolf studied us. “And you don’t seem like much of a threat.”

“Well, he may not be, but I definitely am,” I informed him, pushing Cloud behind my back.

Claw smiled in such an odd way. It seemed more like a smirk.

“The bond that connects siblings. It’s always so … adorable,” he said. “Do you want to meet the rest of my pack?”

I was going to say no, thank you when Cloud did his annoying impulsive little brother thing and said, “Sure!”

I sighed. Broth-ers. But Claw led us — well, led Cloud and I followed — through the forest, until we reached a wide clearing. It was this light shade of grassy green with this really tall sort of tree I had never seen before. One of those trees had the largest branches, spread out. The trunk was so wide, it took up at least have of the clearing. And scattered among those branches, or on the trunk, was at least 20 wolves. I mean, a few were on the ground, but they were mostly on the tree.

“Emily! Keelin!” Claw called.

Two small, female wolf  cubs who looked around the same age ran up to us. They both had short snouts, long tails, and fluffy fur. The only difference between them was that one was the exact same color as Claw, while the other was a shadowy color of gray-black. The brown one was slightly more wiry and had a playful expression and rather tall ears. She looked like she didn’t have a care in the world, constantly chasing her tail and pouncing on some fallen leaf. The gray-black one was large, with a thick, furry scruff and a thoughtful expression.

“These are my twin daugh — Emily, get your tail back here! — daughters. Emily’s the jumpy one, and Keelin is the smart one. Emily, give me that leaf! Stand here like a proper wolf, for once! Ugh.”

Keelin looked at us with an apologetic smile. “Sorry about that. Emmie’s not normally this annoying.”

Emily appeared at her side. “That’s ‘cause I’m never annoying!” she said innocently — though I saw through the act, because she said it with a smile. “Dad, can we give them the tour?”

Claw sighed. “If they’re staying, go ahead. Are you staying?”

“Yep!” Cloud shouted.

“We are?’ I asked.

“Yes, we are!”

“Yay!” Emily cheered. She bounced off — literally bounced — with Cloud following, equally jumpy. Claw sighed, than slithered away.

Keelin regarded me, now that we were alone.

“We’re facing the same problem, I suppose.” She didn’t say it as a question — just a statement, clear and true as day.


Emily and Cloud swooped back to us.

“Guys! Are you coming?”

Keelin and I nodded, simultaneously. Emily and Cloud beamed, simultaneously. And at that moment, I realized that this pack was a great pack — friendship, happiness, and trust.

Chapter Four

“Storm! Storm! Help me!” Cloud called.

“Why? What is it?”

“The Pack of Dark Wolves is chasing me!”

I shuddered in my sleep. The Pack of Dark Wolves was a wolf pack so evil, their hearts were darker than the shadows, their claws as sharp as a splinter. If they caught you, even if you didn’t do anything, they’ll kill you in the slowest, most painful way possible. There was a very understandable reason I was having these dreams: it’s because The Pack of Dark Wolves are the most scary, deadly pack in the world. I mean, they’re mostly a legend, but they always manage to creep themselves into your nightmares, and it’s just so easy to believe in those myths.

A small paw woke me up from my dreams, then said the most coincidental coincidence ever said.

“Uh, Storm, we really have to leave,” Cloud mumbled.

“Why? This is a good pack. We’ve been here for over a month, and nothing bad has happened to us,” I grumbled.

Then Cloud told me the most horrifying thing in the history of this forest — and trees live a long, long time.  

“I woke up early, and so did Emmie, so we went outside, hoping the sunlight would warm us up. But then Claw wanted to talk to Emmie, alone, so when Emmie talked with him, I eavesdropped — ”


“ — and found out they were the Pack of Dark — ”

“Wolves. Yes. Good for you. Guards, take them out and kill them, where my offsprings can see them,” a voice interrupted. He said the word offsprings like they were distasteful. Claw stormed (not my storm, different storm) into the den, with at least ten bodyguards — not like he needs them — behind him.

The bodyguards grabbed us by our scruffs and hauled us out into the open — though my guard’s teeth were slightly too deep, and it really hurt.

“Keelin! Keelin, help!” I shouted at the top of my lungs.

Two small shapes, one brown and one black, came to help us, not like that would help us very much.

Fighting broke out, and I could feel a wolf’s claws on my spine. I kicked out with my hind paws and winded the opponent.

Then I saw Cloud… being cornered against the tree we’ve called home for a while now, blood leaking from a gash in his shoulder. Then I heard Keelin wail in pain, and I glanced in her direction. Claw was towering over her, claws poised at her chest — but he was glancing in my direction, like he was waiting for me to chose — my best friend… or my brother.

I can’t believe I did this, and I’ll regret it for the rest of my life. I chose Cloud. I lunged toward the wolf standing at Cloud’s throat, and I heard heart-shattering wails of pain at the same time. Knowing I couldn’t change my mind now, I slashed my claws across that wolf’s heart and… you know what? I’ll not go into the details. Let’s just say that I killed him.

Claw snarled at us, “You’ll live for now, you annoying wolf pups. I’ll swear I’ll kill your family one day!”

“Good luck, since my family’s dead,” I said.

“But feel free to kill yourself,” Emily said, tears staining her eyes, and I had a quick estimate why.

Claw snarled, then ran away.

Then I spotted the body.

The body of a fluffy, bloody wolf. Keelin.

“No!” I sobbed, lifting my snout to the sky with a wailing howl.

For around a minute I sat there, swallowed by my grief, barely noticing Emily until she spoke.

“Stormy, you should help with Cloud’s shoulder. I’ve tried to stop the bleeding, but… ”

I nodded.

“Be there in a moment. Oh, and Emily?”


“I’m sorry for choosing Cloud.”

She brushed her fur against my shoulder.

“It was the right choice. I mean, I’ll miss her, but still, it was the right one. I bet Keelin is watching us from the Pack of Starry Wolves.”

The Pack of Starry Wolves was the pack dead wolves joined when they died, so that they could watch over their family and friends in peace.

I ran over to Cloud. His shoulder was bleeding like crazy, so it was rather obvious he’d lose so much blood he’d die unless we stopped the endless red river sprouting from Cloud’s shoulder.

“Emily, can you get me some moss?” I asked.

She nodded, then she was off.

While she was gone, I cleaned off his wound with gentle, careful strokes of my tongue. Cloud sat up blearily and gazed at me with his midnight-blue eyes.

“I’m sorry for being the other option,” he apologized. I tilted my head. That made no sense.

“If I wasn’t here, Keelin would still be alive,” he continued.

“And you wouldn’t be,” I said, continuing to gently lick the blood of the wound, “Listen to me, Cloud. We don’t need another pack. You’re the best pack anyone can wish for.”

“Uh… can I join the best pack anyone could wish for? Wow, that needs an abbreviation. BPACWF?” Emily interrupted.

I chuckled.

“Of course, Emmie,” I said with a smile.

Emily tossed me the ball of moss, and I caught it with my jaws. I set the ball on the jagged cut on Cloud’s shoulder and spread it around until it soaked up all the blood. Then I nudged the moss aside and helped Cloud up.

“Come on, pack,” I grinned, “let’s find a place to stay the night.”

And maybe all nights, living together… as a pack.

Corn Nut the Chipmunk

One day, Corn Nut the Chipmunk decides to buy a bag of corn nuts. Corn Nut is small, feisty, and loves corn nuts. Corn Nut walks into the busyness of the streets and into the corner store for some corn nuts. Something happens. Corn Nut’s chip bag explodes, and all the corn nuts fall out of the bag.

There is only one explanation for this thing: Corn Nut’s chip bag was already opened. Corn Nut decides then that he has bad luck. Corn Nut walks back, but on the way back, Corn Nut has an idea. He could go to a fortune teller and ask if he has bad luck and get cured.

While Corn Nut gets cured by the fortune teller’s mystic crystal ball, he wonders how he is going to pay the fortune teller. He has no money. So when Corn Nut is cured from his bad luck, he decides to run off.

But on his way home, he gets lost because he is not paying attention to where he is going. Fortunately, he finds a 70-year-old fat flying squirrel named Beth, who makes him happy.

In the end, not all is lost, because Beth is kind enough to tell Corn Nut where he is and tells him the directions to home.

Adventures of Hazel Hollyblade

Hazel Hollyblade awoke with a start. Someone was knocking on the door of her little house beside the colorful Delesquari Fields next to the ocean. Red, pink, blue, and purple flowers bloomed, and the fields seemed like an endless rainbow of color, and as Hazel got up to change into a dress, she saw a woman with raven black hair and a rather uncomfortable-looking black and white dress uniform standing near the doorway.

It was Laira, the head commander. Moments later, Hazel opened her door in an emerald green dress that fell to her knees. Gold streaked down her dress and ended in flowers on the border, and the silk swirled around her legs. Her tights felt warm, and brown hair tumbled down her back.

“A monster has broken loose from the prisons!” Laira blurted out hurriedly. “The queen would like to see you.”

Hazel nodded excitedly before reaching out to the saddle gear and mounting her horse, Macadamia. This could be her big chance to actually work as a team with Great Commander Laira. As they rode across the dirt path, the salty sea breeze mixed with the sweet smelling flowers made a wonderful aroma. Once they reached the palace, Hazel dismounted and walked to the queen. She was wearing a white dress with a long red leather coat.

Without even looking, the snowy haired queen said with a regal expression, “You know your job. Now go do it.”

“Yes, Queen Dewri,” said Hazel. She knew that she was supposed to be in the Inner Circle, guarding the Sundew Tribe’s sacred mango tree while the warriors got to fight on the Outer Circle. The OC (Outer Circle) would always defeat the monster before the IC (Inner Circle) could do anything.

She took her place in between her friends, Fern and Lily. Fern had wavy brown hair and was wearing a green dress. Lily had straight dark blonde hair that fell over her shoulders and was wearing a white dress tinged with pink around the edges and a petal shaped bottom.

“I wonder what the monster is like?” pondered Fern nervously. Fern was always very nervous, while Lily was more practical.

“Probably some big, scary, gruesome monster,” sneered Violet, who loved to scare others. Her short cropped black hair and dark purple dress fluttered in the warm breeze. Shy Asphodel said nothing. Asphodel was wearing an indigo dress and had wavy black hair that tumbled down her back.

Suddenly, they spotted a shadow lumbering towards them. Hazel readied her stun sword that was safer than a regular electric sword.

“Who’s that?” wondered Lily.

As it came closer, Hazel gasped. Violet and Fern ran away on the spot. Asphodel and Hazel stepped forward while Lily and the rest of the others stepped back. Another girl named Heather also stepped forward.

Heather had dark brown hair that was tied into a braid and wore a light purple blouse and skirt. The monster had a lion’s head, dragon wings, and scaly legs. His tail whipped back and forth like a whip, the ends curving into a stinging scorpion tail. Hazel jumped towards the monster as Heather and Asphodel flanked the sides.

The monster blew out a cloud of mist, and Hazel could hear a deep voice bellow, “Me is Sharptooth!”

Hazel swung blindly and felt her blade connect with the edge of Sharptooth`s tail. Sharptooth howled in anger as his tail went numb and all the power drained out of it. As Hazel swung and slashed, she could hear Heather and Asphodel fighting too. Suddenly, as Hazel was about to swing down on the monster, she heard Asphodel shouting, “Stop!” Hazel leaped down from Sharptooth.

“What?” she questioned.

“I called the Monster Control. They’ll be here any moment now since they were too scared to come here in the first place,” Asphodel replied. They walked to Heather, and all three of them skipped over to the palace to tell the queen that they had defeated Sharptooth.

Once the queen heard the news, she was delighted.

“For this, you can all be in the outer circle!” Queen Dewri cried, smiling. Hazel looked at her friends and her bullies, and she thought of the uniform, the endless fighting, and the loss of her friends if she went to the OC. When she looked at Asphodel and Heather, Hazel could tell that they had come to the same decision.

“Nah,” said Hazel. “I think I’ll pass.”

Her friends gaped at her, but Asphodel and Heather were nodding. As Queen Dewri dismissed them, and they walked out, laughing and chittering like raccoons, Hazel felt… content.

A few months later…

“Hazel!” Heather called, peeking into her friend’s dusty cabin. “Hazel?” She wasn’t there.

“Woohoo!!!” shouted a voice nearby.

Heather rushed around the corner to find Hazel riding Macadamia the horse onto a hill. Heather smiled as her best friend zipped down the hill and out into the endless fields of Heavenly Plains.

Too Short

Once upon a time there was a face. This was no ordinary face. This was a floating face! And what this face wanted to do most was play volleyball. Now this was a very hard thing to do, for as you know, it was a floating face and had no arms. But still, it wanted to play as much as ever. So, the face went along its normal face life — as normal as floating faces lives are — until one day it went to its therapist and asked what it could do to play volleyball. The therapist said that it could write a book and make some money, so it could get a pair of mechanical prosthetic arms. The face thought that that was a good idea and started to write a book. The book went like this:

Once upon a time there was a face. This was no ordinary face. This was a floating face! And what this face wanted to do most was play volleyball. Now this was a very hard thing to do, for as you know, it was a floating face and had no arms. But still, it wanted to play as much as ever. So, the face went along its normal face life — as normal as floating faces lives are — until one day it was walking around its block when suddenly it saw a magical beacon of light in the distance:

“Come, play volleyball,” it said. Then, there was a blinding flash of light, and the face woke up. It had all been a dream! Then, the face reached up and scratched its face with its finger. Wait, it had a finger?! It looked down, and there they were, two perfect, glistening arms attached to its chin. Wait, its chin?! Then, it went and played volleyball for the rest of its life.

The End

Then, he took it to the publisher but got rejected because it was “too short.”