On a sunny morning, a little girl opened her eyes to see a shadow in the corner of her room. As she slowly got up, the shadow disappeared in front of her. She walked downstairs and saw her mother in the kitchen as usual. Everything was normal. It must have been a mistake. She rubbed her eyes and sat down to eat. Today she was supposed to see her grandmother, who lived in New York, but it would be a little while because they lived in Rhode Island.
As her mother drove to her grandma’s house, she saw the same shadow appear next to a tree, then disappear as fast as it came. She got to her grandma’s house late at night, so she had a quick dinner and was off to bed. In her room, she replayed the day. Seeing the shadow again in her head got her thinking about what it could be. She was a little scared of what was maybe watching her. As she closed her eyes, all the things that had happened in the past flowed away as sleep washed over her. When she woke up, there was no shadow at all. Sitting there was a sloth! A baby sloth with sparkling green eyes was looking straight at her. She went to touch it, but her hand went right through it. She turned around and saw the sloth crawling to her bed. Confused, she quickly ran downstairs and into the living room where her grandmother sat, knitting. Her grandma was looking at her like she was crazy!
She said, “Why did you send a sloth into my room?’’
Her grandmother looked at her and said, “What on Earth are you talking about, love?’’
This was when she realized that all of the stuff happening around her was not her imagining things or her family members tricking her. These were real things that were happening! If no one was doing this, then it must be some kind of magic. But how? Magic was not real. Who believed in magic? Magic was something made up for little kids.
When her mother came to pick her up, she quickly grabbed her bag and got in the car. Her mother had a quick chat with her grandma, and then her mom got in the car and drove home. When they got home, it was lunch time, although she was not the least bit hungry. She ran straight up to her room and locked the door. She got in bed and picked up her book. Soon, night had come, and she went to sleep. She woke up and heard a voice downstairs. She had no idea who would be up this late. She quietly got out of bed and looked over the staircase. She saw the shadow and the baby sloth talking to each other in the living room, and behind them was the mirror that was on top of the fireplace, but it was swirling. She tried not to make any sound so she could listen to what they were saying. After about half an hour, she couldn’t hold it in any longer. She stormed down like a mad elephant.
The shadow looked at her and said, “Well hello, Jane, we are so pleased to meet you.”
Jane looked at them and then said, “What are you doing here? Why have you come for me?”
“Well, it’s a little hard to explain, but you have to come with us.’’
“Why would I ever believe you? I hardly know you.’’
Then the sloth chimed in and said, ‘’Your world is in danger. Please, you’re our only chance.”
Jane just stared at them in confusion. How could she save the world? She was just a 10-year-old. Out of all of the people in the world, how could they pick her? At this moment, Jane realized how much pressure was on her shoulders.
She made up her mind and said, “Okay, I’ll go with you. Let me just get some things.”
But before she could move, the sloth said, “There is no need for things because you will have your own room.”
The sloth grabbed her hand and jumped into the mirror! When they got to the other side, Jane looked around, obviously shocked from what had just happened.
The shadow quickly said, “We have to hurry. One day here is four in the other world. And welcome to Zarcazus.”
Too shocked to move, Jane collapsed, and soon found herself lying on a bed in, I guess, the sloth’s house. When she got up, she could smell this delicious smell coming from outside her room. She got up and walked to the kitchen. She hadn’t eaten all morning, and so she was starving. She picked up some bread and walked around to see where everything was. The house was a regular house, but much more modern than current houses. She walked into the living room and saw the shadow.
She walked up to him and said, “So what exactly am I doing here?’’
“Well, as I said before, you are here to save us all.”
Jane was still unsure that coming here was the right thing to do. Jane had overheard the sloth saying that she would start tomorrow. She was a little frightened of what she would be going against because if the people here couldn’t handle it, then it must be bad. That night Jane went to bed, worrying about what might happen next. The next morning, Jane got a talk about what was happening. She was looking at the ground the whole time. She was so nervous that she would maybe mess up or do something wrong and ruin everything. That evening, she started practicing spells and making things become magical. The first thing she learned was how to make things fly. The shadow told her these different movements for her hands. She had to move her hand in a circle and gesture her hand out towards her opponent.
After a few more spells, Jane went inside to rethink what had happened. She woke up the next morning, and she felt this thumping on the ground that was coming from outside the house. She got up and went outside, and she saw this dark puddle of water, and in it was a vision of what would happen if she didn’t help this world. She saw a dark magic covering the whole world and seeping in through all of the portals into her own world. She also saw the palace, where she assumed the Dark Lord was controlling all the magic, but she couldn’t see who this person was. She ran back inside and decided to tell the sloth and shadow, who were still sleeping in bed.
They awoke with a confused face and said, “What are you doing up so early?”
Jane yelled back, “I just saw a vision of what would happen if I didn’t help this world.”
“I woke up and heard this thumping, so I went outside and saw this dark puddle, so the question I’m wondering is why didn’t you tell me this sooner?”
“Well, you know, we were… going to but got a little delayed.”
“So, what was it delayed by?” Jane asked.
“Fine, we’re sorry.”
“Okay,” she sighed and walked out of the room.
She picked up her notebook and started writing questions that were in her head, like, What did Mother think? Where exactly was she? How did she get in the middle of this? After a few hours, she heard her named called and walked back outside.
She saw Shadow, and he said, “Let’s start our second lesson: turning regular daily objects into gems of all kinds. They aren’t just any kind of gems, though. They explode when you throw them up in the air. To perform this spell, you must wave your hands side-to-side and say, ‘Osia!’ Now, when you perform this spell, you must be very concentrated on what you’re doing. Because if you’re not, the bombs will only hurt you.”
Jane tried many times, but finally, on the fifty-first try, she turned it into a gem without it exploding on herself. After dinner, Jane was pulled aside by the sloth and was told that she had magic in her, but if she didn’t know how to use it correctly, it would be of no use.
That night, she went to bed, trying to remember all the spells she had learned. In the morning, somehow she was exhausted, even though she had no idea why. In her next lesson, she couldn’t help rubbing her eyes and yawning. The shadow kept looking at her like she hadn’t gotten enough sleep, and he was right, she hadn’t. The last spell she learned was the strongest spell of all. It would turn a person to ashes. This spell took her all day, and at the end of the day, she still hadn’t figured out all the hand movements. She went inside, more exhausted than ever, and plopped down on her bed. She couldn’t remember the last time she had seen her mother and was tired of having to learn all these spells. Tonight, she didn’t want to make the same mistake of staying up too late, because in the morning, she didn’t want to be exhausted like today.
The next morning, she woke up and could smell something delicious that kind of reminded her of cake. She got up and walked to the kitchen, and she saw that the sloth was preparing a full ten-layer cake with chocolate frosting and a rainbow filling. They had hung a ‘Congratulations’ sign above the living room. She wasn’t exactly happy to have finished all of her training, but she was excited. Maybe all her hard work would actually pay off. She spent all day sitting on the couch, practicing spells that she could actually do, and eating cake. That afternoon, she asked the sloth, who seemed more willing to do something for her.
She asked, “Would you ever consider… maybe… letting me visit my old world and let me see my mother and grandmother again?”
“Well, that’s really up to the shadow because I’m just his companion. He’s really the main person here.”
“Would you mind asking Shadow yourself because I don’t think he’d really listen to me as much as he would listen to you,” Jane said.
At night, she snuck out of the house and tried to find the mirror, but she had no idea what it looked like, because obviously it looked nothing like a mirror from her own house. She snuck back into the house because she didn’t want Shadow to know she had been gone. That would probably lower the chances of him letting her go back to her own world.
Surprisingly, in the morning, Shadow came out of his room and said, “Well, Sloth told me that you’d like to go back to your own world, and I think you deserve a chance to visit your family.”
“Are you serious?”
“Of course I’m serious. What else would I be?”
“So exactly when should I leave?”
“Well, that’s exactly your choice.”
“I would like to leave this afternoon,” Jane replied.
After six very, very long hours, they finally set out. They got to the portal at nighttime and went through, and BOOM, they were there.
“Well, does this look familiar?” said the shadow.
Jane ran up her stairs and looked for her mother. Her mother was in bed, reading a book, but she looked different. It looked like she had been crying for months. Jane ran to the side of her bed and hugged her.
Her mother said, “Oh my god! I missed you so much, sweetie! BUT, where have you been?! I’ve been looking for you for a month!”
“I’m sorry, Mom! But I had to go on an adventure to this new magical world so I could save our own world.”
“What in the world?” her mom said.
“Well, yeah, I knew you’d react that way.”
“I think I need to call a doctor. I think you may have a concussion.”
“Yeah, okay…” I said. “I’m just going to go get the shadow.”
The moment her mother saw Shadow, she let out a tiny screech.
“What in the world have you brought into my bedroom?!”
“It’s okay, Mom. This is my friend, Shadow, who lives in the magical world. I don’t know exactly what he is but… he’s cool.”
“Hi, Jane’s mother,” Shadow said.
The face on Jane’s mother was a mix of confusion, fear, and shame. Her mother asked Shadow if she could have a moment alone with her daughter. When the door had closed, her mother stared at her, wondering about what her daughter had become.
“I’ve tried to believe you all my life, but sometimes it just goes over the hedge.”
Jane stalked out of the room and brushed past Shadow and said, “We’re leaving now.”
“Wait, but… aren’t we going to stay for weeks?”
“I’m not going to answer that.”
They went back through the mirror, but as they came out, they were in Australia.
“Where are we exactly, Shadow?” Jane said.
“I think we’re in Australia.”
“So… how are we getting back?!”
“Well… there’s a portal somewhere around here. There’s a portal everywhere, I’m pretty sure.”
The shadow didn’t know where it was in Australia, so they were about to do some exploration! Jane and the shadow wandered around for a little bit until they met a magical creature in the forest. It looked just like a house but had long, smooth wings.
“So, what exactly are you doing here?” asked the magical creature.
“Well, we were trying to get to the magical realm, but our portal broke and landed us here!” Jane said.
“Do you need any help with anything?” asked the magical creature.
“Thank you for asking that question. That’s exactly what we need!”
“Well, to my knowledge, the portal is underwater,” said the creature.
“We’ll need something to help us breath underwater then,” said the shadow.
Surprisingly, the creature had two magical gadgets with him. The gadgets wrapped around your neck and had a button that you pushed that automatically put you in a scuba suit. The magical creature handed the gadgets to Jane and the shadow, and they set off to find the underwater portal. Underwater, Jane could see all different kinds of sea creatures and kept wondering why they hadn’t asked the magical creature where the portal was. They swam for hours, trying to find some sign of the portal, but had no success. It was getting late, and Jane was getting exhausted from all the swimming. She asked the shadow if they could spend the night.
“Of course. Whatever you want.” The shadow replied.
They found a nice resting place and lied down and closed their eyes. When Jane woke up the next day, she looked around, and where she was didn’t look familiar. Then, all the memories flooded back to her of her mom getting angry at her, the portal breaking, and ending up in Australia. Although they had slept in the ocean last night, the area around her still seemed different. It seemed they had been washed away by a current and somehow that current had taken them to the portal. Finally, Jane sighed a sigh of relief.
The shadow woke up and said, “Come on, Jane, we have to go fi-”
“We already found the portal,” Jane interrupted. “It’s right here!”
They entered into the portal and into the magical world. She looked around and her heart dropped. They were too late. The dark magic had taken over the entire place and almost gotten to the shadow’s house. She looked at the portal that was supposed to have taken them here, and it was blocked and covered in darkness. She ran into the house and looked for the sloth. The sloth was fighting off some of the dark magic, and Jane joined in. Soon it had left the house and had vanished in mid air. She looked outside. There was still dark magic everywhere.
“What happened?” Jane asked the sloth.
“How do I know?” said the sloth.
“Who is controlling this magic?” asked Jane.
“I don’t know, but it must be someone that has been practicing for centuries.”
The shadow walked in and said, “Jane, what are you waiting for? This is what you’ve been training for for the past month.”
“I know, but I don’t want to leave you,” Jane said.
‘’We’ll be fine, but not if you don’t get down there,” said the shadow and the sloth at the same time.
In a blink of an eye, Jane was running towards the dark palace. Soon, she was at the large wooden doors of the Dark Lord’s house. She looked up and saw an open window and remembered her flying spell. She had never tried to make herself fly, but the first try was always the charm. The first time she got up halfway, the second time she got up a little more, and the third time, she got up to the window. She got through the window and walked down the hall. She looked from one side to the other. On the walls were pictures of ants and small pieces of armor. What in the world? she thought to herself. She soon got to the double doors at the end of the hallway. She quietly slipped through them and tip-toed into the next room. In this room, she saw a tiny bed with an ant on it that looked as if it was dead.
“What happened?” she quietly muttered.
“Well, a human stepped on me in the non-magical world, and my grandson got really mad and wants an end to the human world. Although, the only way he can do that is by destroying the magical world too,” said the grandmother ant. “By the way, my name is Lily.”
“Nice to meet you, Lily. I’m Jane. Is there anyway to stop your grandson?”
“Not likely. Once my grandson has his mind set on something, no one can tell him to stop.”
“Where is he?”
“He’s in his office.”
Jane practically stepped on the grandmother ant as she ran out the door. Jane was soon standing at the door of the office, looking at the back of the chair in which the ant was sitting. He turned his big chair as he heard her step through the door. The size of the office was just big enough for Jane to fit.
“Why?” Jane asked impatiently.
She was breathing fast and her fists were clenched, as if she wanted to fight but was holding it back.
“Your kind did something unforgivable.”
“It was an accident that someone stepped on your grandma. Can’t you understand that? If that was an ant you didn’t know, would you care so much? Would you still destroy two worlds?” Jane asked even more impatiently.
“No, I wouldn’t,” the ant sadly answered.
“Well, you can still change what you’ve done,” Jane said simply.
Jane looked outside and at the disarray of what the ant had done so quickly.
“I would never change what I have started.”
Jane jumped out of the window and flew up quickly. She was on her way to the shadow’s house. She got there, but nothing was left of it. She quickly waved her hands and the darkness vanished. She could never save the whole world. Under all of the debris were the shadow and the sloth huddled up together. They looked up at her and said, “What are you doing here?”
“I realized that I can not complete this mission to save this world or mine.”
Disappointment washed over their faces.
“This is not what we wanted you to become.”
The thought of losing such good friends tugged at her heart. How could she live the rest of her very short life knowing that she could have saved everyone? You know what? She couldn’t. Determined as ever, Jane set off to seek revenge on this world-destroying ant! As she neared the castle, she turned invisible and flew up to the window. With a thud, she landed perfectly on the window.
Her first stop was the kitchen. She knew she had to kill the ant, but then she wouldn’t be any better than him. She somehow had to stop the ant, but not kill him. She ran into the kitchen, gathered a few supplies, and dropped them on the table. Soon, she was working on her master plan. She got a big bowl and started pouring supplies in. There was only one potion she knew, and it was a sleeping potion. She decided that if she could put the ant to sleep and put him in the non-magical world, they would all be safe. The only problem was: how would she actually give the potion to the ant?
Soon, all of the work was done, and she was running to the office, ready for the most magical battle of her life. As she walked through the door, the ant turned around in his big chair, as he had last time, and looked at her.
“What are you here for?” the ant asked.
“Well, I’m here to stop you. Would you be willing to drink something first?”
“Well, no. But after two spells, we’ll take a break, and of course, I’ll drink some.”
The first spell she did was turning a pencil into a gem. She threw it up in the air and made an explosion. The ant stumbled, but he counterattacked and threw sparks at her.
Then the ant said, “Okay, time for our little break.”
The ant sipped the potion and started choking.
“Oh no!” Jane said. “What have I done now?”
Then suddenly, the ant was quiet. It looked as if he was actually sleeping peacefully. She picked him up and carried him to the front doors. She walked all through town until she was at the portal of her own house. Soon, she was standing in her house, careful not to wake up her mother. She opened it and placed the ant in a bush. She walked back through the house, deciding whether she would wake up her mother or just go back to the shadow’s house. As she got back, the world was already brightening. The sun was seeping through the darkness of the clouds.
The sky was returning to its light blue, and all of the dark magic was flowing away, as if a giant breeze had just come. She looked down on all the rooftops of all of the magical creatures who lived in this magical world and who had just witnessed all of this darkness. Somehow, the shadow’s house was rebuilding itself. The shadow and sloth were standing in the middle of it, waiting for her to come over. When she got over there, the house was completely rebuilt.
The sloth and shadow came up to her and said, in such cheerful and happy voices, “Congratulations, Jane, you did it. And we always knew you could.”
The sloth stepped forward and said, “I always knew my granddaughter had the potential to save worlds.”
Jane was just like, “What in the world?”
“Yeah, it’s a little surprising, but I’m related to you. And I always have been.”
The shadow said, “Excuse me, now can I have some time with Jane?”
“Of course you can,” said the sloth.
The sloth left the shadow and Jane alone.
The shadow looked at her seriously and said, “I must tell you what I am. I am a person of ash.”
“What exactly does that mean?” Jane asked clearly.
“To you, I’m the first of all of your generations.”
Jane was like, “Why are there so many surprises today?!”
“Well, now you know who we are.”
Centuries passed, and everyone lived happily, until one day, a villager came to Jane and announced, “The doomed ant has returned.”